The Ultimate Baby Essentials List for the Minimalist Mom on a Budget

Baby essentials list

When you’re expecting your first baby or second or fifth there’s a lot of stuff to consider buying for your precious bundle of joy. And there also are a lot of things you absolutely do NOT need. And after having three kids, I’ve learned a few things!

And wasting money and taking up space in your home when adding to your family is totally unnecessary. You really can live the minimalist life and be mindful of your budget when having a baby.

Baby essentials list

This list will give you the goods on what goods you really need and which ones you need to leave at the store!

That’s because that super sweet and cuddly first year of your baby’s life is literally going to fly right by! And so much of the baby gear that’s usually recommended isn’t really going to get used that much or not at all.

Start with Your Baby Registry

One of the first things you need if you’re pregnant is a baby registry. Why? Umm, to tell all your family and friends what you really want so they can buy it for you! But you already knew that, so moving on.

 

Amazon is the largest retailer in the world and millions of people are ordering their every need on Amazon every single day. And that goes for gifts too!

 

So while you’ll definitely have fun signing up for your Target Baby Registry you may not know that Amazon has a Baby Registry too. It’s totally FREE to sign up and you get a really awesome free gift shipped to you as well.

This is a huge incentive for gift shopping because while your best friend is ordering her groceries to be shipped, she can add your baby shower gift and have it gift wrapped too. And you can add ALL of these amazing products so easy!

So it’s like doing her a favor! #winwin

Now on to our list of only the baby essentials you really need and the ones you don’t.

Baby Essentials You Must Have

Baby essentials list

1 – Newborn Pack and Plays

By the time I had my third baby, I didn’t want a bunch of large baby gear that I had to get rid of in the first year. I quickly realized that buying a sweet little bassinette isn’t necessary.

With the invention of beautifully designed newborn friendly pack and plays, this is all you need for your newborn’s first bed. They’re small enough to fit by most bedsides like a bassinette but will do so much more.

The reason I love these so much is that the newborn sleeper is perfect for snuggling your little one in softness while safely keeping them on their backs. As they get a few months older, it’s amazing how quickly they can start to roll in their sleep.

They also have a changing table that allows you to do quick changes in your room instead of needing to run to the baby’s nursery in the middle of the night.

And the best part is, as your baby gets older you can remove the newborn sleeper and changing table and have them sleep in the crib attachment. And finally, you’ll still get use out of them as a playpen for many years after! It’s simply one of the best new baby essentials I can think of!

Here is a listing of the highest 5 star reviewed newborn-friendly pack and plays!

Breastfeeding class

2 – Convertible Car Seat

We love convertible car seats because your infant car seat isn’t going to last you passed the first two years. And if we’re focusing on our budget here the convertible car seat is totally the way to go.

All of these car seats come with a newborn attachment that safely keeps your newborn snuggled while in their seat. And this particular seat is perfect because it transforms as your child grows up to 100 pounds!

Here is a full listing of all the five star rated convertible car seats!

The only time I would recommend buying an infant carrier car seat is if you have multiple children. And only if you feel that taking your baby out of her car seat every time would be too overwhelming.

We purchased a convertible car seat with my first daughter and loved it. We then purchased an infant carrier when we had our second daughter and it was convenient. But it was also very heavy to lug around too.

I would suggest investing in a comfortable baby carrier and wearing your little one everywhere. It’s super easy and keeps your baby close!

3 – Infant Carrier

I just love infant carriers! They are perfect for doing things in the house and comfortably getting around out of the house. And if you have multiple children they are a lifesaver!

There’s just one problem, many parents are getting it wrong. There’s a huge danger of hip dysplasia in babies and infants by using the wrong carrier.

Most of those carriers that dangle the baby either front or rear facing are usually the culprits. Read here to learn how to prevent hip dysplasia in infants with common baby products.

The good news is there are many great baby carriers to choose from that will keep your baby safe and comfortable and won’t wreck your back either.

I love Ergo because they’re all about the comfort of both baby and mama! This wrap style carrier takes some practice but once you get the hang of it you’ll never want to stop using it. Plus, it takes up almost no room which is a HUGE plus!

Here’s a Top Five list of infant carriers that moms voted that they love!

4 – Baby Stroller

Though I loved wearing my baby’s everywhere, I still had plenty of opportunities to use our stroller! Especially as they got older and heavier.

We chose this particular stroller that we loved so much because it had all the storage and perks of the bigger strollers but you could basically lift and operate it with one hand. I had tons of jealous mom friends when they saw how light it was.

You can buy the stroller on its own or the infant carrier and stroller combo if you’re opting for an infant carrier car seat. And if you are, I highly recommend you purchase the matching stroller. You’ll thank me later!

Check out my absolute favorite stroller here.

5 – Baby Bottles

Whether you are breastfeeding or not, chances are your baby at some point will need to drink from a bottle. And you want to be prepared!

There are many, many bottles to choose from and bottle feeding is very personal to each mom based on your feeding desires. If you are exclusively breastfeeding and want a bottle that’s very close to breast, you may want to invest in Comotomo Natural Feeding Bottles.

They are on the pricey side, but if you don’t plan to use bottles often, you could get by with just a few. And the benefits of avoiding nipple confusion likely outweigh the investment.

If you are exclusively pumping or are formula feeding like I did, you can feel free to choose a great bottle that focuses on helping baby drink and digest their milk without painful gas. I personally used these Philips Avent bottles and loved them!

I recommend buying the larger 9 oz bottles instead of the newborn 4 oz bottles. It saves money and you can just change the nipples from slow flow for your newborn to the older stages as your baby is ready.

6 – Swaddling Wraps or Blankets

Swaddling wraps have certainly come a long way since just a few years ago. I used to be firmly on the swaddling blankets side of the swaddling debate.

That’s because the first swaddling wraps on the market didn’t really achieve that snug swaddled feel that the blankets did. However, these swaddling wraps are simply amazing and make swaddling a no-brainer for tired parents!

If you love swaddling your baby with those soft muslin blankets, you’ll love these Aden + Anais swaddling blankets. 

Check out this video if you’re feeling clueless about swaddling your little one to sleep.

7 – Breastfeeding Pillow

Whether or not you are planning to breastfeed, you need one of these breastfeeding pillows! I literally used this handy pillow to prop up my little newborns all day long. The Boppy pillow’s shape seems to make them feel snuggled and keeps them calm.

And because of its portability, you can take it anywhere you go. I actually pumped for the first month because he had to be admitted in the hospital for Jaundice at 4 days old.

This complicated our breastfeeding plan, and I ended up using this pillow to lay him on while I was pumping.

This pillow also gets a lot of mileage as it works perfectly for propping up your little sitter.

8 – Burp Clothes and Onesies

A couple of things that you simply can’t live without as a new mom are burp clothes and simple onesies. Your washing machine will be full of these every single load, so you can never have enough.

These burp clothes have a unique curved flap style that seems to stay in place on your shoulder better. Plus, the designs are very cute!

These simple gray uni-sex onesies are perfect because white seems to really hold on to spit up stains and they work perfectly under baby’s outfits when you actually leave the house.


9 – Must-Have Bath Time Essentials

Obviously bathing your baby is something you’ll be doing every day or at least every other day. So, having a simple bathtub is important. This baby seat is what I used for all three of my babies and it easily fits into your kitchen sink or bathtub.

It still cradles your newborn and when you’re done it folds flat. It ends up taking no room at all and it’s very inexpensive! Perfect for the minimalist mom on a budget.

This very cool tub dam is not something I’ve used but, wish I had one when my kids were babies. It saves a ton of money and water. Probably one of the coolest baby products I’ve ever seen!


What did we miss on this baby essentials list? Let us know in the comments below what your absolute must-have baby product is!

Related Baby Posts:

60 Cool and Strong Baby Names with Powerful Meanings

25 Romantically Beautiful Baby Girl Names with Strong Meanings

 

All new moms need baby stuff but there are also things we don't need. This list is a complete list of baby essentials and nothing you don't need! This list is perfect for the minimalist mom. #pregnancy #babies #baby #babystuff

The Science Behind What Motivates Your Child to Succeed and Achieve Their Best

how to motivate your kids to succeed

We’ve all been there, you ask your kid to sweep up the floor after dinner while you go into the kitchen to start loading the dishwasher. You come back to see that your very capable child chose to use the “spot-cleaning” method under your dining room table.

how to motivate your kids to succeed

You take one look and know full and well he was rushing so he can get back to playing Fortnite as promised. Point blank – he didn’t even come close to trying his best. And moms have a sixth sense when it comes to knowing when our kid did their best at any moment.

I have one simple request in my home and that is when my kids put their hands to doing something, that they do their best. Notice I said their best, not the best. As your kids get older you tend to know when your kid is rushing or fluffing something off and when they’re actually struggling and need help… if you’re paying attention, that is.

Beyond our “mom-sense,” this is where having a strong relationship and connection with your child plays a huge role in parenting. Asking lots of questions helps you to see where your child is to figure out how you can actually help them do their best.

Why Should Kids Do Their Best?

It may seem like there’s a lot of emphasis on doing their best which as I stated earlier shouldn’t get mixed up with doing the best. That’s because the result of a person’s individual effort isn’t nearly as important as the process of effort they put in to actually achieve those results.

For example, it’s more noteworthy when a student works diligently to learn and stays accountable to do their school work and still brings home C’s on average. In contrast to a student who barely studies beyond glancing at a few pages prior to his tests and doesn’t take school seriously but still manages to bring home straight A’s.

The second student is likely to have a bent where learning and memorizing materials come more easily. Whereas the first student may not and might even be struggling with a learning disability or concentration issues that make learning more challenging.

Which child should be praised? The straight A student or the C student?

It is my personal belief and how I chose to parent my own children that praising results is a huge mistake over placing effort front and center.

The Dangers of Results-Driven Parenting

I remember growing up and having friends who did very well in school and also worked very hard but were scared to go home if a B showed up on their report card. This type of results-driven parenting can produce harmful stress in children which can contribute to depression in kids and teens.

When we focus on our child’s results – their grades, accomplishments, and whether or not they win in the game we are setting expectations for our child. And expectations are actually a really good thing. In fact, they’re the keys to getting kids, or anyone for that matter, to do their best.

But result-driven expectations are focused solely on ability and outcomes rather than the effort the child actually put into the process to succeed. When putting the sole focus on your child’s natural abilities or the outcome of a goal, it can be frustrating because these things are hard for your child to control.

Another problem with ability expectations is that if children attribute their successes to their ability-“I won because I’m so talented”-they must attribute their failures to their lack of ability-“I’m failed because I’m stupid.”

Psychology Today

The Science of High Performance

An unfortunate side effect of performance and results focused expectations is that we often unknowingly put labels on our kids. They could be more positive labels such as smart, driven, and high achiever. Or they might be less positive labels such as picky eater, shy, hyper, or learning disabled.

Even if we don’t outright call our children by these labels, we do so in subtle ways. For example, if your child is extremely shy you may introduce her to her new teacher by saying, “this is my daughter Cassie. She’s very shy so she may need some time to make friends.”

This innocent introduction is merely a parent’s gentle way of protecting their child from rejection or judgment… Our way of “helping” our kids along. But we often do more harm than good because our kids consciously and subconsciously grab hold of these labels (good or not so good) and live up to them.

She’ll naturally find herself holding back when in the presence of new people and because she’s been wearing a label of being shy, she most likely won’t push herself to grow in the healthy behavior of building positive relationships in her life.

Dr. Robert Rosenthal did exhaustive research on the topic of expectations of others and labels. He was fascinated to see how humans functioned when given arbitrary labels and whether or not those labels could change a person’s behavior. His research was on experimenter expectancy effects and the Pygmalion effect.

The Pygmalion effect is the scientific name for a self-fulfilling prophecy which is when a person believes something about themselves so strongly that they subconsciously work hard to make it a reality in their life, even if it’s not actually true.

This is so very important for us as parents to understand because it will help us set the right type of expectations for our children so they can most effectively achieve their best in life.

How to Set the Right Expectations for your Child

Whether we like it or not, we’re always establishing expectations for our children. They learn to anticipate our reactions to grades and performances and on a deep level work to meet those expectations. But setting the wrong ones can be detrimental to our children.

Focusing on their natural talents and gifting may seem like a good thing but if not guided properly can lead to an unhealthy sense of self-worth if their gift suddenly stops working or they’re prevented from using that gift for unforeseen reasons.

We need to be sure their identity isn’t wrapped up in their gifts and personal achievements.

Rather the healthiest and most effective expectations we can give our children are Effort Expectations. This is when we help our child focus on the process – the magic that happens in between the goal and the desired outcome.

When children (and adults) stay focused on the process of how we’ll achieve our goal we work harder and lean in at a higher level. The best part is, we know how hard we worked and if we come shy of that goal we still feel a high sense of satisfaction in how far we progressed.

When we only look at the endgame, we feel anxious and have a strong fear of failure. Those negative feelings are majorly reduced when we’re too busy putting the work in to achieve our goals.

An Experiment in Expectations

Now that we understand how to have the right type of expectations for our kids lets dive back into the science of why healthy expectations are so powerful.

Dr. Rosenthal conducted an experiment to test his theory on expectations. He had teachers give their students an IQ test that was labeled the Harvard Test of Inflected Acquisition which basically measured whether a child was “ready to bloom” or not.

To protect the integrity of the experiment the teachers had no previous experience with this test and no knowledge of the experiment itself. After completion of the test, students who scored in the top 20% of this test were labeled as “ready to bloom.”

The teachers were given a list of children who scored in the top 20%. But here’s the twist, they were actually given a list of completely randomly selected names that fell in all scoring ranges.

At the end of the school year, all the students were retested to determine if any changes took place in their IQ scores. The results showed a tremendous increase in IQ scores in one group. Can you guess which one? Yep, the randomly selected “ready to bloom” students scored much higher whereas the students who weren’t labeled remained the same.

This is profound because it proves how powerful expectations are in the hands of teachers, parents, and other leaders. These teachers were told these students were above average (even though most weren’t).

As a result, they began to teach them as above average. In turn, when these children were talked to and interacted with as “above average kids” they simply rose to the occasion. A powerful concept indeed!

This is why we as parents must be aware of the labels we give our kids and the words we speak into our children. The bible says it this way:

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.

Proverbs 23:7

It also says that life and death are in the power of our tongue. In other words, we have the ability to speak life into our children through the words we speak and the labels we give them. We can highlight labels that hold our kids back or encourage them to rise above those labels.

When we expect the best from our kids, you better believe they’ll be inspired to rise up to them!

Final Thoughts

Let me close with a personal example. This understanding of expectations doesn’t merely effect children, it’s for us too. We’ve all been in a situation where a boss, a friend, our parent, or even our spouse didn’t believe we were capable in some way.

It can feel demoralizing and extremely de-motivating. On the other hand, when we have people in our lives that believe in us, even more than we believe in ourselves, it can help us feel powerful and inspired to rise to what they see in us.

If you’re reading this and know you’ve been putting labels on your kids or doling out tons of results driven expectations do not feel hard on yourself. We’ve all done it. What’s more important is taking steps to change the narrative your child has been hearing.

Also, a parent’s job is to protect our kids, so never allow others (grandparents, teachers, etc.) to put negative labels on your child either. Simply tell them nicely that we don’t want to label our kids so please refrain from using that term with our child. It’s that simple.

Let me urge you to look beyond the surface labels in your child like talented, shy, picky eater, class-clown. And help them discover their purpose and achieve their dreams. Work to inspire them to push beyond their safe place and discover a place of their own greatness.

They just need to be told they can!

What to know the secret to getting kids self motivated to succeed? This surprising study shares insight that you can start using with your kids today! #kidsandparenting #parenting101 #parenting

How to Increase Breastmilk: The Ultimate Guide for New Moms

One of the biggest concerns for new breastfeeding moms is how to increase breastmilk. I know this was the case for me when all three of my babies were born.

I struggled with low milk supply and many other breastfeeding challenges that I hope to prevent for other sleep deprived, frustrated, and confused moms.

How to increase breastmilk

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not in the camp of moms who were instantly blessed with a steady flow of liquid gold for their new baby. Or you certainly wouldn’t be wasting your previous time reading this!

You’re probably dealing with long days and even longer nights searching for the best breastfeeding tips and wondering if your baby is getting enough milk.

When you do pump, you produce a few meager ounces. This can be frustrating and depressing. Can I offer you some friendly advice first? Do NOT go down that dark road. It leads to no where.

Keeping your mind on the positive and having a positive expectation goes a long way!

Boost Your Milk Supply

Each of the natural methods to boost your milk supply shared here are proven safe and will only help you. A few do have side effects so be sure to read those before trying any new supplements and checking with your Doctor.

Just remember that every woman’s body is different and there are never any guarantees. If you find that your body just doesn’t cooperate, know you’re NOT alone.

I formula fed all three of my babies after breastfeeding and they are three of the healthiest, brightest, and smartest kids I know… if I do say so myself.  

There is never any shame in feeding your baby in any way that’s needed or chosen by you… a loving mother.

Now, let’s explore all the ways to increase your breast milk supply naturally. But first I just want to say that I’m not a lactation expert. Just another mom who cares a lot and does a TON of research!

Read: Breastfeeding videos for new moms that are actually helpful.

How to Know if Your Milk Supply is Even Low

Boosting your milk supply can be a tricky thing because it’s hard to tell why your milk supply is low to begin with. You may be tempted to start pumping to see how much milk you can make.

This is not necessarily going to give you a good gauge because every baby’s milk needs are unique and you may be making just the right amount of milk for your baby. And babies are much more efficient at removing milk from the breast than a pump. Many pumps just don’t work well.

Many moms also think their supply is low because their breasts don’t feel full or their baby is very fussy all the time.

These can be caused by things other than low supply. First, breasts that produce plenty of milk will often never feel full which is totally normal. And secondly a fussy baby can be cause by many things like reflux.

3 clear signs that your milk supply may be low are:

  1. Your Baby is not gaining adequate weight. (Weight recommendations.)
  2. Your baby isn’t wetting enough diapers. A typical infant should be wetting at least 5 diapers in a 24 hour period from 5 days old and onward.
  3. Your baby isn’t soiling enough diapers. A typical newborn should be soiling at least 3 diapers per day beyond day 5. This is sometimes less or more depending on your baby.

If you suspect your milk supply is low and your baby isn’t getting enough milk, make an appointment with both your baby’s pediatrician and a certified lactation consultant right away.

Boosting your milk supply is something you’ll have to work at and most likely experiment with until you find something that works for your body. This isn’t an overnight process… nothing is with parenting.

You just need to decide what you want to do and stick with it until you see results. And get all the help you need because you and your baby deserve it!

Here are many proven and highly recommended methods you can try to boost your milk supply. Remember, most of these won’t work overnight, so try them for at least a week to see how your body responds.

Fenugreek Breastfeeding

Using Fenugreek to boost milk supply is one of the most popular ways breastfeeding moms are increasing their milk. It’s been shown to increase supply within 24-72 hours, but that, of course, may vary from mom to mom.

Fenugreek is an herb. Its primary uses are as an herb or spice in Indian and Persian cuisine and as a galactagogue for breastfeeding mothers.

Fenugreek is safe but shouldn’t be used by those who are diabetic, have a chickpea or peanut allergy, or have asthma.

There are many ways to use Fenugreek. Here are just a few of the easiest ways:

  1. Take in simple capsule form. The capsules generally come in 610mg and it’s recommended to take 2 capsules 3 times per day with food. That’s a total of 6 capsules per day. (Dosing source) | Here is a capsule that gets high ratings from breastfeeding moms.
  2. Take in a tea form. Many moms swear by Mother’s Milk Tea and is an easy way to take Fenugreek. It has a slightly sweet licorice taste.
  3. Take in a powder form. You can use Fenugreek powder to milk in lactation smoothies to pump up the nutrients you’re getting while breastfeeding. The only downside to using a powder is the high price tag.

Brewer’s Yeast Breastfeeding

Brewer’s yeast is another popular and effective supplement to boost a low milk supply. Though it’s not known exactly why brewers yeast helps increase breastmilk supply it also has some other good benefits such as lowering blood sugar levels for diabetics, may help lower cholesterol levels, and helps nourish skin and hair.

It’s also believed to elevate moods and feelings of mild depression. And with so many moms suffering from Postpartum Depression, it’s worth a try!

It also has some possible side effects such as upset stomach, cramps, and an increased risk of yeast infections.

You can take brewer’s yeast in a simple powder form. This brand of brewer’s yeast has hundreds of happy mom reviews! Just add 1-2 tablespoons to your favorite drink, lactation smoothie, or lactation cookie once per day.

More Breastfeeding Supplements

There are more, less common supplements to use for increasing your milk supply.

  1. Blessed Thistle
  2. Fennel
  3. Stinging Nettle
  4. Alfalfa
  5. Goat’s Rue
  6. Milk Thistle

Always talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant before taking any herbal treatments. For many centuries, herbal remedies have been used as medications. And, just like prescription drugs, herbs and plants can have side effects. And, depending on the preparation, some herbs can even be toxic.

Increase Breastmilk Through Pumping

You can also increase your milk supply through pumping. Also known as power pumping. The concept is simple, the more your baby nurses or you pump the more signals your body receives to tell it to produce more milk.

“If you want to boost your milk supply fast, power pumping can help by creating an artificially high demand for breast milk. By increasing the number of times you pump, you give your body the message to increase milk production.” — Helen Anderson, Chief Lactation Officer

Power pumping works great for moms who’ve already established their milk supply and noticed a dip in their supply or haven’t been able to nurse baby consistently for a number of reasons such as returning to work or a painful breast infection.

It also works for moms who are exclusively pumping as I did with my son. He was admitted in the hospital after 4 days old due to critically low bilirubin levels. I wasn’t even able to hold him more than a few minutes per day.

I had to start pumping right away for days and he never took to the breast so I decided to pump exclusively for as long as I could.

Power pumping helps to mimic cluster feeding which is a natural increase in your baby’s desire and need for milk. Which your body will naturally respond to with increased milk supply.

Power pumping really requires a time commitment. Basically, you’ll need to set aside an hour for your full power pumping session which will look like this:

  • You’ll pump both breasts for 20 minutes
  • Rest for 10 minutes
  • Pump for 10 minutes
  • Rest for 10 minutes
  • Pump for 10 minutes

You can do this at least 2 times a day until you see your supply increase and then gradually reduce your power pumping sessions.

Foods to Increase Breastmilk

Aside from staying very hydrated by drinking lots of water during and in between nursing sessions, there are also foods that tend to help increase milk production. These are referred to as lactation foods or the lactation diet.

  1. Ginger
  2. Garlic
  3. Rolled Oats
  4. Vegetables like carrots, yams, and dark leafy greens
  5. Sesame Seeds

Here’s a great resource of lactation recipes!

When to Know When it’s Time to Supplement with Formula

There are times when it’s appropriate and even necessary to begin supplementing with formula. If you think you may need to supplement, I urge you to get medical support from your baby’s pediatrician and your own Doctor or lactation consultant.

And never feel pressured to keep breastfeeding or start supplementing if you’re not comfortable or ready. As long as your baby is meeting the above guidelines, you most likely have time to make the best decision for your baby without the pressure from professionals who may not share your convictions.

Do you have a tip that worked to increase your breastmilk supply? Please share it in the comments below!

Struggling with low breastmilk supply is a very common problem for nursing moms. Here's the ultimate guide to help you boost your supply the right way! #breastfeeding #pregnancy #newmom #baby #babies #feedingbaby

50 Simple Ways to Speak Your Child’s Love Language Everyday

speak your child's love language

Did you know there’s an actual language of love… no not Italian. Seriously, we all have a unique Love Language that’s tailor-made to our unique personality. A language that when it’s spoken to us, can make us feel love in a deeply personal way.

And understanding the power of love languages, especially as it pertains to our kids, makes such an impact on how we give and receive love. This post shares simple and tangible ways to bond closer with your children using their love language.

We all know what it’s like to feel loved. It’s this experience of love that hits our heart much differently than merely knowing we’re loved. So many of us live the majority of our days in the “knowing we’re loved” zone, versus actually “experiencing that love” in action.

speak your child's love language

We all want to feel that love a whole lot more than just knowing it’s there. I know I’m guilty of letting the days go by without going beyond the usual hug, kiss, and I love you as I drop them off at school. And, of course, the thought that feeding them, clothing them, and sheltering them is an expression of love.

And though they are clearly expressions of love, I have to ask myself when was the last time my child “felt” love. A love that was meant just for them, and not a one-size-fits-all love that merely got tossed to all the kids at once on the way out the door.

The truth is, far too often we all take for granted that our spouse, children, and friends simply know we love them and leave it at that. Until a holiday (#Valentine’s Day) or other special event rolls around. Then we bring out the big guns!

This list is designed to help you become an even better mom and a positive parent than you already are!

We Speak Love in our Own Language

But our loved ones need so much more than that, especially our sweet children. Who are generally sweet most of the time. 

They need to feel and experience a clear and tangible expression of our love. One they can’t question or talk themselves out of later. And the best way to do this is to show them love in their own love language.

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock (or mounds of your children’s dirty laundry) and haven’t heard of love languages; let me catch you up.

The concept is taught extensively by Gary Chapman who wrote several books on the topic including The 5 Love Languages of Children – which I HIGHLY recommend along with all of his other books on the topic.

He teaches that there are basically five main ways (languages) we humans uniquely communicate love to one another. We all communicate on some level using all five languages, but Gary believes we each have one overarching language that’s stronger than all the others. That’s our love language.

Why are Love Languages Important?

The interesting part is, we naturally communicate our love to others using our own love language. I mean, that’s our own language, right? But this can hinder the flow of the “love exchange” because, as you know by now, we receive love best in our own language. Confused yet?

Please don’t be. Think of love languages as actual languages. If your husband spoke French and you only spoke English, your relationship would be challenging at best. But if you knew each other’s language and chose to speak that language to each other – you’d be in business. No more mixed signals. Well, hopefully.

This gives us the challenge of identifying and understanding the love language of those we want to show love to the most – our family. This way you can shoot your arrows of love like The Mocking Jay and hit the bulls-eye every single time. Imagine that!

The whole point of understanding and using love languages is the concept of filling each other’s love tank. And doing things that fill our child’s love tank in the specific way that they need it, sends the message loud and clear to your child – I AM LOVED.

Tips to Identify Your Child’s Love Language

In case you don’t know your child’s love language, I’m going to briefly list a few clues to point you in the right direction. I’ll warn you, it may seem at first that your child has ALL the love languages.

But if you observe your child over time, it’ll become more clear. Once you know your child’s love language, you can have fun delivering love messages to them in a way that’s sure to fill their love tank all the way to the top!

Physical Touch

  • Your child is touchy-feely and never seems to leave your side.
  • Frequently grabs your hand to hold it, leans on you, or rubs you in an affectionate way.
  • Loves to snuggle, cuddle, and be close.
  • If you reject this snuggle-fest request, they’ll likely feel rejected themselves.

Words of Affirmation

  • Your child is highly motivated by your words of encouragement.
  • They tend to feed off the validation of others.
  • They also will be more affected by harsh verbal correction or discipline.
  • Compliments and praise are like fuel to their soul.

Quality Time

  • Your child will frequently ask to spend time with you, even after you just had an awesome one on one day yesterday! Lol
  • Every time you turn around – they’re there looking to see what you’re doing.
  • If they aren’t getting the attention they’re seeking out, they will often resort to getting attention elsewhere. This is where getting negative attention can come in.
  • They’ll ask to come along when you’re just running errands. The point is, they want to be with you. Here are some great ideas for family connections!

Gifts

  • Your child sees receiving gifts a special moment.
  • On big gift giving days like Christmas and Birthdays, they’ll often remember who gave each and every gift.
  • They will often collect and store seemingly random mementos from places they’ve been or from things they’ve been given by friends.

Acts of Service

  • Your child always wants to help and will even try to take over doing things like folding the laundry or putting away dishes as an act of love.
  • They will look for things that need to be done, like cleaning up the pile of blocks that got left in the corner. They’ll feel proud and accomplished after doing this, so showing your appreciation will go a long way.
  • They will naturally look for ways to help others.

How to Bond with Your Child Using Love Language

Even when you’re busy and overwhelmed with life, these ideas are so super, simple that you’ll find yourself inventing new ideas. The ways to speak your child’s love language are really endless and are only bound by your creativity and FUN! Let’s get to it.

 Physical Touch

  1. Watch their favorite TV show or read a book snuggled up on the couch. For ideas, check out my Epic Summer Reading list here!
  2. Create a special one-of-a-kind handshake.
  3. Give a lingering hug every day. One that just holds for an extra moment or two.
  4. Offer piggy-back or on the shoulder rides (if they’re still little enough!)
  5. Invite them into your lap to read as long and as often as they’ll still accept the invitation.
  6. Challenge them to an arm or thumb wrestling contest.
  7. Play a board game. Twister is a great one if you can handle it, Mom!
  8. ALWAYS tuck your child in for bed whenever possible.
  9. Wake them up sweetly with a warm snuggle instead of the light on and a, “wake up!”
  10. Do yoga or stretches together using each other for gentle resistance and support.

Words of Affirmation

  1. Write them a love note in their lunch box.
  2. Send them a text message telling them how awesome they are. Be specific and genuine! They’ll spot a canned praise a mile away.
  3. Always be ready with something awesome to say about them when they’re with their friends and/or siblings.
  4. When disciplining/correcting use the sandwich method. Praise – correction – praise.
  5. Offer words of praise that are very specific such as, “it was so awesome when you did … “
  6. Talk openly about them in a positive way around other family and friends.
  7. Always reserve correction to be given privately within your home and not around others.
  8. Create fan signs for your child at their sports games or other activities. And scream their name loudly if appropriate.
  9. Purchase a nice journal for them and write an inspiring message for them on the first page and date it. Words are important for those with this love language so journaling is usually a great activity to encourage.
  10. Create a secret journal that only you and your child know about that you use to write back and forth to each other. This is wonderful for those challenging tween years.

Quality Time

  1. Have a regularly scheduled date day. Could be simple and free like going to the park every Friday. Here are some great FREE ideas! 
  2. Go for a walk alone. Allow them to lead the conversation.
  3. Order a fun subscription box for kids. They are so much fun. My kids are obsessed with these!
  4. Find a way to include them in your work, if you work from home and they’re old enough. Get creative.
  5. Play with your child. Enter their play fort, hide really well in a game of hide-and-seek, and learn how to give their dolls the most stylish do’s for their latest date to the ball.
  6. Create a project together that the whole family can enjoy when it’s done.
  7. Reorganize or rearrange a room together.
  8. Take up a physical activity like running together. You can train together and run marathons throughout the year.
  9. Cook a meal together. Allow them to plan, shop, and prepare it.
  10. Identify a talent, hobby, or sport they love and find a way to get involved. Become a coach, a volunteer, or start your own group.

Gifts

  1. Give unique and meaningful gifts like planting a beautiful tree together in the backyard. Preferably one of their favorites, if possible.
  2. Tap into your inner DIY crafter (get on Pinterest) and find something to make for your child that they can use every day like a jewelry organizer or a nice phone charging station. The fact that you took the time to make something won’t be lost on this child!
  3. Get creative in making gifts for classroom gift-giving seasons like Valentine’s Day. They like giving gifts as much as receiving them.
  4. Give them the gift of quality stationery so they can beautifully express their appreciation for the gifts they receive from others.
  5. Make their gifts an event or experience by coordinating a gift treasure hunt.
  6. Work on a project that allows them to use their talents as gift giving opportunities.
  7. Give them gifts with a deeper meaning or significance such as a piece of jewelry or a personalized journal. And make the packaging thoughtful!
  8. Bring them a personal memento from an interesting place you went that day or from your travels. For example, a cool looking rock or flower. Repay the “look what I found” sentiment we get from them so often.
  9. Buy them personalized items with their name on it. This could be as simple as a dinner plate or cup with their name printed on it but can get more special as they get older.
  10. Create cool spaces for them to store their new gifts or mementos. Like baskets, shadowbox shelves, or cabinets with open spaces.

Acts of Service

  1. Give your child special responsibilities they personally enjoy doing such as cooking, walking the dog, or watering the plants. Allow them to have feedback in the process.
  2. Create opportunities to display random acts of kindness to strangers together.
  3. Offer to be a teacher’s helper in your child’s classroom and allow your child to work as your assistant.
  4. Discuss how you can work with them to use their interests to help others on your street. If they love animals, you can both offer to wash their neighbor’s dog for free together.
  5. Payback their acts of service by doing one of their chores secretly.
  6. Let your child HELP! Even when they roll the shirts up instead of folding them.
  7. Plan simple random acts of kindness just for them.
  8. Take the time to teach. Instead of just “doing” everything, slow down and teach your child how to do something.
  9. Always bring extra to share. If you get a snack in the kitchen put extra on your plate so you can freely share. Or better yet, offer to get them their own plate!
  10. Cook them their favorite “real” breakfast every now and then on a school morning

This is just a list to get your imagination working. As a mom, it’s important for us to take the time to learn how to deliver the message of our love in a way that speaks uniquely to them. No more generic love! 

Do me a favor and put in the comments below what your child’s love language is. My oldest daughter’s is giving gifts, and my middle daughters is physical touch. I’m not yet sure of my toddler’s yet but I’ll keep you posted.

Tell us what love expressions you’re planning next in the comments below! Let’s keep this list going beyond this 50!

 

Does your child "feel" your love every day in a tangible way? It's super easy when you know their love language! Get 50 super simple ways to speak your child's love language every day! #parenting #momadvice #kids #kidsandparenting #parentingtipsKnowing your child's love language is very helpful in being able to show love to your child in a special way every day. These 50 ideas will get you started today! #lovelanguage #kidsandparenting #parenting #momadvice #mom #kidsLove is unique for everyone because we all have a love language. Find out how to speak your child's unique love language today! #lovelanguage #kidsandparenting #parenting #kids #momlife #motherhood These super easy and unique ideas will have you speaking your child's love language everyday and strengthening your relationship in the process! #kidsandparenting #parenting #parentingtips #parenting101

Want to know the secret to making your child feel loved every day? It's learning to speak your child's love language! This post will both help you learn their love language and give you 50 simple ways to speak your child's love language every day! #lovelanguage #parenting #kidsandparenting #positiveparenting #gentleparenting

13 Simple and Fun Activities That Will Bring Your Whole Family Together

spending time with family

Families thrive at their best when they are spending regular quality time together. But spending time with family seems to be on the decline. According to the New York Post, on average most American families are spending 37 minutes a day together as a family.

spending time with family

We can explore all the reasons that contribute to this average, and debate on whether this is too little or too much but the truth is there are a million reasons why families don’t or can’t find the time to come together and enjoy each other as a family on a more frequent basis.

And lack of time isn’t always the clear culprit. There are other factors like having children with a wide age gap that can hinder finding activities that everyone enjoys. Sibling rivalry when doing activities all together can also suck the fun out of family time.

The keys to having family time that’s fun for you, your spouse, and each one of your children are these two things – simplicity and consistency.

Simplicity is best for everyone but especially you. If you feel pressure to plan elaborate family nights and activities you’re likely to get burned out and overwhelmed. And let me let you in on a little secret, kids remember the simplest things not the complicated.

Stick to the very end for a heartwarming reminder of this! Plus, they want a happy mom so stick with simple!

The best thing to do is have a regularly time scheduled each week to come together. I didn’t even say each day! That’s it. What you do during this time can vary from week to week but having a consistent when you do it helps keep everyone accountable.

Is Spending Time with Family Important?

The simple answer to that question is yes. And just to be clear, in this post when I refer to “family time” I’m specifically taking about time together as a whole. Not just mom and the kids or mom and one child doing something together.

And the fact is, for most families having quality time together as one family is challenging to pull off on a daily basis. What about family dinner, you ask? It’s been widely discussed that family dinners are on the sharp decline and while this may be a bad thing, it’s the reality for many families – including mine!

But no one is debating that making quality time for family isn’t important and necessary for connection. In fact, there are many benefits to regular family time such as:

Building a positive self-image in your child. When your children know it’s a priority to you that you spend dedicated time with them every day, they get the message loud and clear that – they matter. There’s a strong correlation between parental involvement and a child’s self-esteem and “internal controls,” which points to a child’s ability to regulate his emotions. Therefore, involved parents equate to happier kids.

Improves family communication through practice. Communicating effectively as a family can be a real challenge but through frequent family time together you get to improve through practicing and finding out what works best for your family.

Creates stronger emotional bonds. Being truly connected to the heart of your child is extremely important to maintaining a healthy relationship that carries them into adulthood. This can only happen through spending time with your child. As the saying goes, in a family love is spelled T.I.M.E.

Family Time Made Simple Checklist

It’s Not About the Time

Before we dive into the simple activities you can easily do as a family, I want to address the issue of time. As in, how much time is enough.

Studies have been done to try and scientifically answer this question but the truth is, it can’t because every family is differnet and has it’s own needs. It’s our job as parents to be looking and listening for what’s possibly lacking and work to meet those needs for our children.

One huge point to remember though is it’s more about quality than quantity as the wise old saying goes. If you as a parent are rushed, unengaged, or bored your kids will feel these negative emotions and will feel rejection so you might as well skip it if you’re not up to it that day. And don’t worry, we’ve ALL been there!

Creating a regular family time should be a priority but never a rigid burden in an already hectic lifestyle or season. And every family is unique and must work within the boundaries of their own family structure. For example, single parents and military spouses who’s spouse is currently deployed are carrying the responsibility of creating family time without the help of another adult.

This can be really challenging and overwhelming if your expectations are too high. If you find yourself in this life season right now, remembering simple is your best asset. If you find your kids are pushing back on big game nights or outings together, just have a movie night or binge watch your favorite shows together.

Just being in the same room together doing something fun is still very powerful for connection versus everyone being tucked away in their own corners of the house! Or begging to leave the house all together! The fact that your kids actually want to hang out with you is a great sign… so take it with joy.

This list of ideas are simple, very simple. My family doesn’t do over-the-top themed activities so you won’t find those here. Just easy ideas that any family can do to start bonding together a little more each week.

13 Fun Activities for Spending Time with Family

  1. Go on a walk together. If you are a fit family (or need to be) this is a great way to laugh, talk, race each other and get out of the house. Oh and burn off some much-needed calories after dinner!
  2. Have a family game night. Game nights aren’t going away and are a really fun way to get silly, competitive, and even forget about lingering family stress. Here’s a list of our favorite Family Board Games. Video games are also fun to play together as a family!
  3. Have a slumber party in the living room. When your kids are still little, camping in the living room feels like an amazing adventure! Add a few forts, AKA tents, and it’s a night to remember!
  4. Cook dinner together. If your family loves cooking and eating food than actually preparing meals together can be a really fun way of connecting and working together. Get one of those meal kits that you order in the mail and follow the recipe together to make it even easier.
  5. Binge watch your favorite family shows on Netflix. Yes, watching TV does count as quality family time. As long as it’s intentional like a series that your whole family loves instead of just mindlessly watching anything that comes on TV.
  6. Instead of going out for ice cream have a sundae at home night. Going out for ice cream be really expensive! Try staying home and making your own sundaes. You can even go the extra mile and bake cookies too. Your kids will love these family nights!
  7. Start a family business. I know this sounds like a big one but starting a small business that centers around a shared passion can be a wonderful way to connect and work together to do something meaningful as a family.
  8. Have weekly family dinners. Sitting down every night as a family for dinner is a challenge for many families including mine. Establishing one night a week when everyone is home as a dinner night can help so much in creating consistency despite hectic schedules.
  9. Watch a movie or make it a marathon. Our family is a HUGE Marvel family and we’ll take any excuse to watch any of our favorite superhero movies on a lazy weekend in our PJ’s.
  10. Go on a road trip. This is probably not one to do as frequently but taking a quick road trip to a nearby town is fun and refreshing especially if you live close to fun attractions.
  11. Volunteer for a cause. Every city has organizations that help those in need. Find a cause that your family cares deeply about and volunteer to help that organization for a time each month.
  12. Do random acts of kindness. Plan simple and fun ways to go out in your community and do nice things. There are tons of fun ideas here.
  13. Do chores together. No seriously! Doing your weekly chores together as a family makes the work go by faster and with a bit of fun like adding silly songs like Raining Tacos (my kids’ favorite) can make the hard work of chores fly by while having fun together.

Final Thoughts on Family Time

Spending time together as a family might hold its own challenges if your spouse travels frequently or is in the military. And if you’re a single parent you may feel overwhelmed with having everything resting on your shoulders and this is just one more thing to put on your mom list.

Please be encouraged by this, children have the tendency to remember the simplest things as the most fun. I can’t remember where I heard this so please forgive me (I think it was on the radio) This woman was telling how her now grown daughter remembered this one particular memory.

Her daughter said it was the most fun thing when her mom made dinner by putting together a plate of snacks like crackers, cheese, and fruit. When her mom heard her daughter’s confession, she couldn’t believe it because she remembered feeling like a bad mom on those nights when she was too tired to cook a real dinner.

Wow! This is so funny because for one, I do this myself and call them “snacky dinner” and my kids love them. Go figure! But also it’s a great reminder that often what we beat ourselves up over not doing enough, our kids feel our actions are just right.

Strengthening your family has never been easier than with these simple ideas for spending time as a family. Your kids won't complain about these ideas! And the best part is they center around simple! #familytime #family #parenting #kidsandparenting #activities
Finding time to spend together as a family can be challenging for busy families. Here are the most simple ways to easily bring your whole family together! #family #kidsandparenting

Ridiculously Fun Family Board Games You’ve Probably Never Heard Of!

board games for families

There’s nothing like a great game night to bring a family together! Growing up my family had frequent game nights and I honestly remember that they seemed to magically bring us together and reduce any stress lingering in the background.

Board games are a fun and less expensive way to spend time with each other. And if you choose the right game, your family will probably like it better than a day to the movies and your bank account will thank you!

board games for families

I also wanted to share the top games that foster creativity, strategic thinking, and teamwork. I was recently disappointed when shopping for games for my kids over the holidays. There were an abundance of games that didn’t have these great qualities and instead highlighted gross stuff like poop, toilets and anything connected to potty humor, popping pimples, snot, and more disgusting themes.

So if you’re looking for “smarter” games that teach our kids fun and valuable lessons and skills, stay tuned. None of those gross and meaningless games here! Here are tons of great board games for kids that you can quickly order online from Amazon so no more endless searching.

Here are our favorite fun board games for kids that your family will want to play again and again!

Family Time Made Simple Checklist

Board Games for Ages 3-6

Connect 4

This seriously is a favorite in our family. Even my 3-year-old jumps in and plays this game very well. It’s a game of strategy and you have to be paying close attention to your opponent’s moves. Sadly our game recently broke. However, one of my kids ended up getting the latest spinoff version of this game for Christmas this year. It’s totally different from the original but really lots of fun! You can check it out the new Connect 4 here!

Sequence for Kids

This game is just like the highly popular bigger kids game Sequence which is very easy for smaller kids to understand. However, Sequence for Kids is perfect for ages 3-5 and uses pictures of fun and colorful animals to make the game more fun for them.

Quirkle

This board game is very similar to the concept of Scrabble but instead of letters, it uses colorful shape blocks. Players begin with a starting hand of six blocks and take turns placing multiple blocks in a column or in a row in either or all the same color or the same shape. Because of the endless combinations, this game can be played many, many times with lots of fun.

BusyTown’s Eye Found It

This is a really fun game for younger kids but is interesting enough for adults or older siblings to play. Plus, this game fosters a team spirit instead of simply beating your opponent! Using the six-foot game board, kids will work their way to Picnic Island, searching for hidden objects in an I-Spy style challenge. Along the way they’ll have to all work together to solve mysteries before getting to the end.

Ice Cool

This game is a fun learning and dexterity game for kids and winner of the Kinderspiel des Jahres 2017 (Best Children’s Game 2017) award. Kids will work to move their penguins through the school in order to be the first to gather all their fish. Players flick these wobbly cute penguins through halls and corridors while trying to avoid the hall monitor who will end the round.

Hoot Owl Hoot

This is another cooperative game where all team players must work together instead of competing against each other to win. In this fun and colorful game players must help the owls fly back to their nest before the sun comes up. If they are successful everyone wins!

Board Games for Ages 7-12

Sequence

This is a fun game that’s challenging for adults but easy enough for kids to understand and love playing. You just play a card from your hand, and place a chip on a corresponding space on the game board. When you have five in a row, it’s a Sequence. There is also Sequence for Kids if all your kids are very young. It’s perfect for ages 3 and up.

Grandpa Beck’s Cover Your Assets

This is a fun and easy to learn card game that’s really simple for all ages to play. Basically, when you get a matching set of assets, you can lay it down in front of you. But the only way to protect the set from being stolen by a teammate and added to their own stack is to cover it with another matching set. Getting the matching set and protecting your assets is the fun of this card game!

Patchwork

In this fun medieval style puzzle game, kids will work to use their fabric tiles to outdo their opponent in making the best, most beautiful quilt. These quilt pieces are laid out in a circle around the board, and on your turn, you only have access to the next three pieces to purchase and place on your board. This is a game of strategy because the game doesn’t just go back and forth. Some pieces advance you farther along a time track, which then allows your opponent to keep purchasing pieces until he or she passes you.

Forbidden Sky

This game is a cooperative style game which means all players must work together and the game results in either an all-win or an all-lose game. In Forbidden Sky, you work as a team to assemble and connect power sources to launch a rocket ship and get off a floating platform. There are elements such as lightning and wind that try to hinder your work, and you have to team up so that no one gets blown off the platform or gets electrocuted.

Telestrations

This is a fun spin on the old classic telephone game. The twist is where players draw on their own erasable sketchbook the “secret word.” The timer gets turned and everyone draws their word. After 60 seconds, everyone passes their book to the player on their left. Then each player takes a few seconds to guess in words(s) what they see, and passes again. This continues until everyone’s sketch book passes by every player and returns back to its original owner, where it’s time for The Big Reveal.

Suspend

This isn’t exactly a board game but my kids discovered it at a party and they loved it. It’s basically a building and balancing game where kids work to delicately hang and balance the notched, rubber-tipped wire pieces from the tabletop stand. With each added piece, the balance shifts and the sculpture transforms. One misplaced piece or wrong move could send it all crashing down! 

Board Games for Ages 13 and Up

Code Names

This is a perfect game for older kids, teens, and even adults. The game works with two rival spymasters who know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their Codenames. Each Spymaster gives one-word clues to his or her teammates in order for them to pick the right clue. If teams pick the wrong clue, which are cards laid out on the table, they might accidentally uncover a clue for the opposing team or worse, pick the assassin, thereby ending the game.

The Resistance

This is a game that requires at least 5 players, so it’s a perfect party games. Some players will be resistance members (good guys) who need to complete missions to topple the evil government. Others will be spies sent to infiltrate the missions and make sure they fail. The spies are required to lie about their identity and all know who each other are, but the good guys are in the dark. The good guys have to figure out who the spies are and eliminate them from the missions in order to succeed, while the spies pretend to be good guys so they can continue their sabotage.

7 Wonders

This game is a great strategy game played as the leader of one of the great 7 cities of the ancient world. You must carefully gather resources, develop commercial routes, and affirm your military supremacy. The game is set in 3 different ages and each game runs approximately 30 minutes. By the time the third age is over, players score the points given by their cards and their military conflicts. The winner is the player with the most points.

Catan

This is a fun and fantastic strategy game but the complicated rules can mean this game is much harder for younger children. Once you fully understand the game rules (requires a bit of time) the game is highly addictive. Many people who’ve played this game find it can be slow, but to speed up the time and the fun, simply use the “expansion pack”, which allows all players to trade and build at the end of EACH turn, instead of waiting for your OWN turn to do so. This shortens game time substantially (45 minutes instead of 60-90) and makes it much more exciting.

Coup (The Dystopian Universe)

This game is easy to play with very fast paced rounds, and lots of fun bluffing make this game perfect for teens. The game works like this, the cards you hold in your hand determine your abilities: how many coins you can earn each round, whether you can steal cards, whether you can kill another player. Of course, the other players don’t know which cards you hold, so you could always do a little “acting.” And hope no one calls your bluff, or you’re the one who will end up dead.

Board Games for the Whole Family

Pandemic

This game is a hugely popular cooperative game which is honestly refreshing from always playing highly competitive games with your family. Pandemic is a really fun apocalyptic game that gets your family working together to stop the spread of diseases to save the world. This is an all-win or all-lose type of game so at the end of the game everyone feels connected and accomplished whether or not you win or lose.

Drop It Family Strategy Game

This is a fun game that’s enjoyed by both players and those watching! This game can be played by individuals or teams and is pretty much appropriate for all ages groups. The game works when players drop shapes into the vertical game board. They earn points for the highest level that their shape reaches when it lands and extra points for touching bonus circles. But be careful: Don’t break a landing rule! The shape you dropped is not allowed to touch matching shapes or colors after it lands. The winner is the player or team with the most points at the end.

Blokus

This game gets voted the easiest to learn for all ages and is really fun for everyone. The premise is all your 21 Tetris style pieces need to be placed carefully on the board but can only touch at the corners. The object of the game is to put as many of your shapes down as possible while blocking other players from putting down their pieces.  The game is fun and fast, usually around 30 minutes a game.

Exploding Kittens

This wildly popular game with the funny name is fun and simple enough for even younger kids to understand and exciting enough to keep your teens loving the fun. The play is simple: don’t be the one to draw an exploding kitten card, unless you happen to have a defuse card. All the other cards help you avoid an exploding kitten, or even give it to someone else. Game play is fast and unpredictable, meaning every game is different.

What’s Yours Like?

This game is similar to the concept of the hugely popular game Catch Phrase. Except that all the players (except the one in the hot seat) know what the guess word is (i.e. jacket). Everyone takes turns describing what theirs is like: “mine is warm” or “mine keeps me dry” or “I’m reminded it’s not summer every time I put mine on.” Games are fun and fast and are perfect for family game night!

Looking for fun and addictive family board games? These are the best board games your family will not want to stop playing on your next family game night. And you probably have never heard of most of them! #boardgames #familytime
These fun board games are the perfect games for families. And the list is broken down by ages and one all-together family list! Your kids won't want to stop playing! #boardgames #familytime #parenting

7 Reassuring Newborn Tips for the Tired and Anxious New Mom

Newborn tips for new moms

I firmly believe that God intended for a full nine months for babies to grow to full term before birth. It could have just as easily been three or even six months, but moms need a full nine months to fully prepare for what’s coming… a little human.

A precious little human that will be totally dependent on its parents for every single thing they need! A newborn’s first few days and months can be extremely overwhelming for new parents.

Newborn tips for new moms

This is the case for newborns that don’t have any issues or challenges but for moms with babies that have conditions like colic or reflux it can be downright scary.

My son had severe reflux and later suffered from obstructive sleep apnea that required surgery. I remember the sleepless nights all too well.

If you’re a first time mom who is exhausted and anxious that you might make a mistake along the way, take a breath and know that you will. I know you probably weren’t expecting that answer but it’s true. All parents make mistakes!

These are the best newborn tips for new moms that will give you more confidence in your newest motherhood journey! These are the perfect newborn tips for tired new moms from some amazing mothers and I wanted to share them with you.

Here are also some helpful tips on the best baby essentials you need, how to get started with breastfeeding your newborn and increase your breastmilk supply.

How to Avoid Day-Night Confusion in Your Newborn

Getting your newborn on some level of a sleep schedule can be challenging even for seasoned parents. However, the first step to getting your new baby to sleep through the night is avoiding day-night confusion. Here’s Rachel’s tip from A Mom Far From Home:

The best way to establish day night rituals is to be consistent. During the day you’ll want to make sure your baby is awake to feed, then purposefully try to avoid fully feeding them to sleep.

Read the full post here!

The Best Way to Dress Your Newborn in the Cold Months

One of the most frustrating things for new moms is trying to dress their tiny newborn in the winter months. And when it’s time to leave the house, it can be totally exhausting. The trick is using layers to keep your baby warm and cozy while still being able to get them into their carseat safely. JD from Semi-Delicate Balance gives her best hack:

You can’t put thick jackets or chunky sweaters on your baby and then put the car seatbelt over them. It’s best to put them in a long sleeve or a thinner jacket. Then just turn the thick jacket around, and then slip it over their arms.

Read the full post here!

The Easy and Safest Way to Swaddle Your Newborn

It’s a known fact that most newborns loved to be swaddled as it mimics the constant cradling they experienced every moment of their time in the womb. Some babies don’t need to be swaddled or don’t even like it. If that’s the case, don’t bother. If they do, here’s a tip for swaddling your baby safely from Uplifting Mayhem:

For the healthy development of the hips, babies’ legs need to be able to bend up and out at the hips. Swaddling for short periods of time is likely fine, but if your baby is going to spend a significant amount of the day and night swaddled, consider using a swaddling sleep sack that lets the legs move. 

Read the Full Steps to Swaddling here!

How to Beat the Baby Bath Time Blues

I’m not sure if this is true of all newborns but all three of my brand new babies hated their first baths. I think the new experience can be a sensory overload so making this process as warm, quiet, and as comfortable as possible goes a long way. Here’s a great tip from Swaddles N Bottles to make this happen:

Babies take comfort in having an extra towel or light baby blanket placed on top of them. Only remove the blanket as needed to wash each part. After you are done washing the baby, place baby in towel (baby will be slippery!) and swaddle up.

Get all the tips here!

Understanding Your Newborn’s Hunger Ques

Many moms prefer to feed their newborns on demand versus on a feeding schedule. There are many benefits to feeding your baby on demand, but there are also many concerns such as knowing if your baby is getting enough and how to know when your newborn is really hungry.

Stork Mama shares this helpful graphic to Pin that shows each of the different signs of hunger in your newborn. Also, read the full post about on-demand feeding here.

How to Not Panic if Your Newborn Gets Sick

It can be terrifying when your new baby gets sick. I know it was for me when my 4 week old daughter had an ear infection and a fever of 102 at 3 in the morning! This was a huge shock because my oldest daughter didn’t even get a cold until she was over a year old. Here is a helpful tip from Mastering Mom Life for monitoring your baby while she’s sick:

Jot down when you noticed symptoms, when you administered medicine, took steam baths, and when baby naps or does anything out of the ordinary. This can help you look back and see progress, be a reference when baby gets sick again, or help you remember symptom times and dates when you take baby to the doctor.

Get all the tips here!

The Best Way to Handle Visitors After Birth

Whether you have family and friends visit you and your new baby in the hospital or after you get home, these tips can really help reduce your stress and anxiety. The most important thing to remember is you and your new baby’s needs always come first. Heather with Very Anxious Mommy shows us a great way to handle this:

Some visitors just may not know when it’s time to hit the road, especially when there is a new baby to see. So try to have an out for when you are ready to say goodbye to visitors so that you can have alone time and rest. A few ideas may be, “I need to breastfeed now, so I will see you later”, or “I am really tired so I need to take a nap.”

Read all the tips here!

Final Thoughts

Just remember that every mom has been a first time mom at one point and all of us felt unsure of the decisions and choices we made for our new baby every day.

Take comfort that you aren’t alone and you already are an amazing mom!

These comforting newborn tips for anxious new moms will help tired first time and experienced moms get answers to their biggest newborn questions. #babies #newborn #parenting
Bring home a new baby brings with it tons of anxiety and exhaustion. These are the absolute best newborn tips for new moms. These newborn tips for anxious new moms will reassure you that you're doing just fine! #babies #newborn #pregnancy #momlife

The Busy Mom’s Guide to Starting Your Own Quiet Time Routine in 2019!

The Busy Mom's Guide to Starting a Quiet time Routine

As moms, one of the things we need the most but probably get the least is a consistent quiet time. And I’m not talking about the 2 seconds you break free to go to the bathroom. Let’s be honest – if you have little ones waiting “impatiently” outside the door – that doesn’t cut it for quality quiet time

They always seem so interested in what I’m doing in there. Lol

Having a “quiet time” seems like a misnomer in a home filled with loud little people running around. Quiet is a luxury most of us just don’t have. And time is the other luxury we seem to come up short on day after day even if your children aren’t little anymore.

The Busy Mom's Guide to Starting a Quiet time Routine

Most of us press through each day trying to make it to the end, so we can get up and do it all over again. Kind of like Groundhog’s Day for moms.

We all know the benefits of practicing a regular quiet time routine – time to connect with the One who created us and allow Him to shape us into who He created us to be. Time to invest in ourselves and our personal growth, so we can be ready to live out the good life He promised.

But we so often feel like we can’t afford to take a few minutes for ourselves. That’s selfish and unnecessary, right? But I’ll step out there and say you can’t afford NOT to.

Why You NEED a Quiet Time Routine

You NEED time to recharge, rest, grow, and reflect. Notice I didn’t say deserve. Although I believe we all deserve our own deserted island and personal wait staff for all we do as moms – what we need jumps to the front of the list.

And we NEED a regular quiet time routine to be effective as moms, wives, and every other title we hold in our lives.

Without it we’re just pouring out from an empty vessel. And let’s face it – our job description as moms is pouring.

But something happens when we become empty – we still pour. Only what comes out then is resentment, anger, and burnout. Sound familiar?

We’re vessels who are desperately needed by our families so giving of ourselves on a daily basis is really our privilege to do so. So this “pouring” is something I get to do and not something I have to do.

But allow me to be transparent for a moment, as moms, we’re the heartbeat of our family. And we need to be sure our heart stays in great condition because if we’re tired, angry, frustrated, and filled with resentment – our family feels that and feeds on it.

Understanding the purpose of quiet time is key to tapping into its power. So we can stay filled up and pour out the love, help, support, and encouragement our family needs from us.

Related: Creative Ways for Moms to Grow in Faith When Life Gets Overwhelming!

The Purpose and Power of a Quiet Time Routine

The purpose of a quiet time routine is to connect intimately with Christ, our Savior so He can show us who He created us to be. And allow the process of transformation to take place in our lives.

And most of us think it’s literally just time in the quiet. Nope! There’s so much more potential here.

The power of practicing a regular quiet time is that you and everyone around you get to reap the results of your daily transformation by becoming – day by day – the person you were destined to be.

Most people believe that quiet time is for just getting a break and doing a list of activities like praying and reading. And while these activities are extremely effective to do during your quiet time; having the right heart and understanding of its purpose is how you really grab hold of its power.

Doing random things, no matter how good they are, without connection to a bigger picture rarely leads to substantial change.

Change is what we’re ALL after. That’s why we read books and articles like this one. That’s why we set goals and have desires for more opportunities to earn more income or start new dreams. We all have somewhere we want to go.

I firmly believe there are places we’re called to go and things we’re destined to experience, but we’ll never get the opportunity until we become the person who’s qualified to open those doors.

If you find yourself desperate to make a change, I’d love to share with you a book that was such a life-changing blessing to my soul. It’s Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe

Related: How to Find the Courage to Fearlessly Chase your Dreams

Are You Being or Becoming?

In other words, when we devote more energy on “becoming” that person we know we are on the inside and less on just “being” who we are now, the journey to our purpose becomes a whole lot easier.

Take a moment and visualize your dream self. What do you look like? Are you in better shape? Healthier? Happier? Richer? More fulfilled? Stable? Confident? Sexier? 😉 A better mom? Wife? Friend?

What will it take to become her? Not to try and manufacture her, but to actually become her?

One thing’s for sure – it’ll take work. But if you have that vision of yourself – I can confidently say that it’s your vision. It belongs to you and should be your mission in life to become that vision.

And to be clear, this isn’t about going on some mid-life crisis or selfish pursuit. This is about you becoming your best version of you so you can love your family from a place of fulfillment and joy. No more burnt-out mom who yells out of utter exhaustion, frustration, and the fear of never changing.

I’ve been there, feeling like a failure who’s better off not being their mother. One yelling fit after another with guilt piling up around me.

The truth is, I’ve always been an awesome, loving mom. But I was stuck in the cycle of stagnation. I didn’t understand the purpose nor the power of giving time to myself with a clear focus. I spent most days trying to survive and when late afternoon came around, I was rushing the day forward so I could see a new, better day tomorrow.

Sadly, the better days never came because I never created them. I was floating with no intentional focus on how I thought about my days and how I could make them better. I started each year with the hope things would get better and ended each year with the disappointment that everything was still the same.

It wasn’t that I was miserable every day, but there were things that I knew I needed to change, but just didn’t know how.

Now I spend my days living in the present moments and I use my daily quiet time to reflect on who I’m becoming and where I’m going. And even though I have a long way to go, I’m fulfilled in knowing that every day I’m growing toward my goals.

Related: The Truth About Mom Guilt and 4 Steps to Get Rid of It Forever

How to Get Started with your Quiet Time Routine

Let me start off by saying quiet time, especially for moms with small children, is a huge sacrifice. So exactly when and how much time you’ll spend for your quiet time is going to be different for every mom.

Just remember, anything worth doing is worth sacrificing for! But if you’re not currently in the practice of having a quiet time routine at all, start off small and work your way up.

Depending on the day, I spend 30 minutes to an hour very early in the morning before I start my work.

If you don’t have a quiet time right now, here are a few tips to show you how to quickly get started with your own quiet time routine!

  1. If you’re pressed for time, roll your alarm back 15 minutes earlier every day. I recommend starting light and adding more time as you grow. Everyone can get up just 15 minutes earlier!
  2. Use a journal sheet that has prompts, questions, and/or blanks to fill in. This helps you have a plan already set and you don’t have to do anything but show up!
  3. Have a place to go every day. Even if it’s your own bed and you just roll over, having a place set for your quiet time tells your brain that you’re serious. By the way, if you’re just starting out the bed isn’t going to be your best option for longevity.
  4. Be focused on change. Remember, having a quiet time isn’t just about doing stuff or having “me time.” It’s the time you set aside to become that woman you envisioned earlier. Quiet time is like a cocooned space you crawl into every day and slowly emerge day by day as your true, beautiful butterfly self.
  5. Read a devotional. I find devotionals a wonderful way to read and reflect on God’s Word. There are so many that are focused on whatever topic you wish to study or work on.

Here are some wonderfully encouraging devotionals I recommend for moms:

Related: 7 Simple Habits That’ll Yield Big Results in your Life

Getting the Most out of Your Quiet Time

The following are activities I do in my quiet time. I don’t necessarily do each thing every day or follow a rigid routine. I just start with my purpose in mind and go with the flow. I recommend you do the same until you find what works for you.

Pray

The way I start my quiet time is to pray. In other words, I talk to my Creator –  my Heavenly Father. I tell Him how grateful I am for having this new day in the first place. Then I honor Him by speaking highly of who He is. In other words, I give Him praise because He is truly worthy of all the praise I could possibly give! God has been so good to me!

I pray for my family, my community, and anything else that’s on my prayer list or that comes to mind.

I also ask for the wisdom I need for my day or anything else I’m facing. God’s Word promises that if we ask for wisdom, He’ll liberally supply it to us. And of course, I use this time to pray for others who are on my heart. Basically, prayer is part of my relationship with God and allows Him the space to speak to my heart at a time when I’m free of distractions.

Journal

Journaling is widely known to provide many benefits for our overall health, well-being, and success in life. But I personally love to journal because it works and has helped me so much in my life! I’ve actually been journaling since I was very young. I guess it’s the writer in me that needs to express myself.

Journaling is the time I use to also plan and reflect. I reflect on the previous day’s events and evaluate how I felt and what was good or not so good. I notate blessings that happened that day, missteps that I want to avoid in the future, and any powerful lessons I learned. I also allow it to be a natural tracker of my transformation progress. And when I’m in a planning period, I use my quiet time for writing out my vision and goals.

Here are some wonderful journals with writing prompts to help you journal every day.

Read

Reading is one of the most effective and powerful activities you can do for your personal growth. Just pick a topic to read and let the growing begin! I start off by reading my bible which is my foundation for everything else in my life. I’ll read based on whatever reading plan or bible study I presently have going on.

I don’t spend a lot of time reading, though. Just a chapter or so is all my time will allow during this season in my life. For my other books, I try to read a few pages per day. You’ll be surprised how impactful reading really is, even if you’re only reading a couple pages per day. Just be consistent!

You don’t have to do all the things I mentioned here. You can do one or totally add in your own elements. I just shared what works for me personally. But the key is giving yourself permission to invest in yourself. To press the pause button for a moment so you can be more effective every day and grow into your very best self.

Here are more of my favorite books I know you’ll love:

Related: 4 Surprising Signs You’re a Burn Out Mom and How to Get Out

Leave a comment below to share how you use your quiet time. Do you have any questions or suggestions on how you can easily add a quiet time routine to your day? Let’s get talking!Don't let being a busy mommy stop you from finding time for yourself. Learn how to start your own quiet time routine in 2019!

Ready to start a quiet time routine for yourself in 2019! These simple steps will help you be your best in this New Year! #momlife

Moms are always juggling many things. Having a consistent devotional time for quiet reflect and bible study is so important to living your best life and keeping your sanity! #jesus #selfcare #selflove #momlife

Gorgeous and Easy Fall Inspired DIY Home Decor Projects

Fall inspired DIY Home Decor

DIY home decor projects are so fun and add a unique personality to your home that you won’t find anywhere else because you made it! Sure, you found inspiration on sites like this one, but you still added your own special touches and made it your own.

Fall inspired DIY Home Decor

Now, it’s time to get ready for Fall! And these gorgeous and simple Fall inspired DIY decor projects will have your home welcoming this beloved season with open arms. So go grab your Pumpkin Spice Latte and let’s get to work!

25 Fall Inspired DIY Home Decor Projects

Fall Inspired Home Decor

1. Pressed Fall Leaves Frame | Confessions of an Overworked Mom

2. Rustic Fall Table Scape | Making Manzanita

3. Fabric Fall Wreath | Small Stuff Counts

4. Floral Pumpkin Centerpiece | Fun Thrifty Mom

5. Pretty Burlap Wreath | Crafts by Amanda

6. Wooden Pumpkins | Our Home Made Easy

7. Easy Scrap Wood Pumpkins | Love and Renovations

8. Log Candle Centerpiece | A Crafted Passion

9. Fence Post Pumpkins | Chicken Scratch NY

10. Metallic Painted Pumpkins | Small Stuff Counts

11. Homemade Dehydrated Orange Slice Decorations | Salt in My Coffee

12. Gorgeous Faux Pumpkins | Love and Renovating

13. Thankful Pallet Sign | Making Manzanita 

14. Pretty Fall Baskets | Create and Babble

15. Reversible Holiday Banner | 365 of Crafts

16. Happy Fall Pumpkin Door Hanger | The Soccer Mom Blog

17. Burlap Placemats | One Crazy Mom

18. Easy Dried Beans Centerpiece | Mission to Save

19. Succulent Topped Pumpkins | Delicious Table

20. Felt Leaf Garland | Our Crafty Mom

21. Decorative Fall Mantel Sign | Create and Babble

22. Easy Floral Fall Wreath | Small Stuff Counts

23. Pretty Painted Acorns | Crafts by Amanda

24. Easy Fabric Fall Pumpkins | Crafts by Amanda

25. Fall Ribbon Wreath | Create and Babble

Aren’t these ideas amazing? Let me know in the comments below which one you’re excited to try!

These Fall inspired DIY Home decor projects will have you running to grab your DIY supplies! Let your home shine this Fall with these gorgeous ideas. #decor #Fall #DIY #home These simple and gorgeous Fall inspired DIY home decor projects are the perfect way to celebrate the season with style! #DIY #homedecor #decor #crafts #crafting These easy DIY Fall inspired decorations will have your home feeling warm and cozy and ready for the Fall holidays! #Fall #DIY #diyprojects #decor These Fall DIY home decor projects are super easy will make your home look effortlessly stunning! #diy #homedecor #fall #diyprojects #crafts

How to Successfully Balance Your Passion and Your Family

how to successfully balance your business and blog with your family

Are you a mom who’s super busy with life and family, but secretly wants to pursue a passion, talent or business idea?

Maybe you’ve already stepped out to start your Passion Project but quickly got overwhelmed and quit.

No judgment, here. Been there!

Or you’re like me and already have a growing blog and business but still need practical advice on keeping everything balanced.

No matter where you are, pursuing a passion is a really big deal because for most of us – it leaves us feeling vulnerable and exposed.

how to successfully balance your business and blog with your family

Entering… life outside of good ole’ comfort zone!

The good news is… a life that’s filled with passion and purpose is like getting a cool breeze on a hot summer day! #Winning

It’s also a whole lot of work and dedication if you’re all in, but your Passion Project is all your own and can be extremely satisfying!

#MomBoss

So let’s talk about the giant elephant in the room… lack of TIME!

The main hurdle for myself and most moms out there is, “where will I find the time between work and family to follow my dreams?”

The real reason this is such a major issue for moms is that we want to care for our families well and keep them first place on our Life’s Priority List.

Adding new things to an already full plate can be scary, for sure.

Let me show you how chasing your passion just got a whole lot easier!

Bring your Family into Your Passion

Start by letting your passion be known by your spouse and kids… if you haven’t already done this.

Let them know why this thing is your passion and even how you believe it connects to your life’s purpose.

You’d be surprised how supportive your family can be, and how they are sometimes just the perfect people in your life to help you in your passion.

My Passion Project is this blog. I LOVE writing and sharing what I’m learning about raising and family and becoming the best version of myself. FamilyFelicity.com is growing and growing and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

The best part is, it’s really a family project! My husband how’s a genius tech and online marketing Pro helps me with all my tech and advertising stuff. And my oldest daughter who is an AMAZING artist is working on some graphics and products that will be offered in our store later this year.

I’ll be honest, I started this blog a few years ago all on my own. That was my choice and a result of my own insecurities. Once I got out of my feelings, and let other people into my project – things began to soar.

Related: How I Keep My First First While Running my Growing Business

Maybe your husband isn’t supportive of your passion or your children are too little to understand.

In this case, keep a positive mindset and as long as there isn’t any conflict over what you’re doing… keep working at it!

Ruth Soukup and Crystal Paine both tell stories of them stepping out in their passion for blogging. Their husbands both didn’t see how anyone could make money from blogging but they both forged ahead and now make thousands each month from their blogs!

There’s a Grace for Your Passion in Every Season

So what does that look like for the stay-at-home mom of 4 kids under 8 who’s living room constantly looks like a toy factory explosion, or the working mom who has very little margin left at the end of her long day to cook dinner, or the work-at-home mom who’s ready to pull her hair out trying to balance play-dough and business plans at the same time?

Whether you’re in the early stages of motherhood or soon to be an empty-nester, there’s a grace to follow your dreams right now.

That grace isn’t just the ability to “DO” things in this season, but also to “NOT DO” things.

That means, scaling back, delegating, or taking a break depending on where you are! Or better yet, saying no to what doesn’t fit, so you have more time to focus on what does. There’s a grace to fit together creativity the things you’re led to do, and equally the grace to say no to the things you aren’t.

Knowing this takes the pressure off, and allows us to stop waiting for the perfect time to step out. There’s always going to be a little chaos and a whole lot of juggling no matter what.

The only perfect time is now!

Related: Mommy Martyr Syndrome: Finding Yourself in Motherhood

Baby Steps are OK!

This post is specifically about helping moms balance their family and their passion, and we all know how crazy motherhood can be on a good day.

That’s why taking baby steps is a great strategy for jumpstarting your Passion Project.

One of the best ways to do this is to see how your passion, gifts, and talents can be used to serve others.

Again, during the very busy season of motherhood, this idea can immediately feel overwhelming.

Let me stop you right there!

I’m not talking about opening a non-profit or starting a new ministry here. Just start serving others in your area of passion, using your gifts and talents.

Related Post: 27  Super Easy Ways to Purpose Your Passion as a Crazy Busy Mom.

You can volunteer in your church for a couple hours a week, you can make crafty things and donate them, or you can join a group of like-minded people that align with your passion.

The only thing you MUST do is… Put your Passion On The Calendar!

Schedule Your Passion

Remember Ruth Soukup and Crystal Paine? They both made big sacrifices of their time to make their businesses happen! Crystal Paine ran her very busy blog and homeschooled her kids at the same time.

Ruth confesses spending months and months waking up at 3 am to work on her blog before she ever made a dime! That’s determination and dedication. Do you have that same bull-dog tenacity to keep going even if no one else understands?

The good news is, if you stick it out long enough – your success will be evident to others. Both Crystal and Ruth were able to retire their husbands and they gladly came to work in their new family business!

Carving out a dedicated amount of time every day or every week is extremely important to your success.

First, start by determining your most productive and creative time of day is… midday, early morning, or late night. Then do your best to get creative and carve out at least an hour a day to work. Soon that time will be like a habit and one you’ll guard and protect.

You’ll be amazing what you can accomplish in one hour a day! It’s certainly more impactful than zero.

One more thing, when your kid wakes up with a fever and is sick for a few days or something else unavoidable comes up, drop the work if you can. Mommy is your first priority and everything else comes second. Being the best mom you can be is always the best choice you can make.

When you make the most important choices, things always have a way of working themselves out in the end.

What’s your business or blog idea? How are you staying sane and keeping things semi-balanced? Please share your ideas in the comments below!

Running a business or blog and raising your family at home can be hard to balance! These tips will have you quickly feeling at ease! #business #blogging #momlife #homelife #momadvice #kidsandparenting #parenting