Stay-At-Home-Parenting: What If You Change Your Mind About Returning To Work?

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Before you quit your job to stay home with your little one, there are many things you need to know.  Sure, you may plan on returning to the workforce, but what if you decided you just can't?  There are things you need to know before you quit.


You worked up until your due date and arranged to take time off of work to spend with the newest member of your family. But, once you brought your bundle of joy home, the idea of returning to work at the end of your leave is starting to feel unbearable. It’s perfectly normal to question the decisions you made before such major life change. No matter how much you and your partner prepare for baby, newborns have a way of changing the most concrete plans.


Before You Quit


After you’ve spent every waking (and resting) hour with your infant, the idea of going back to work can be overwhelming. The separation, the thought of pumping at work and many more you don’t expect will affect your decision. These emotional and physical aspects need to be tempered with financial realities before you decide if you’re not going to return to work as soon as you once intended, or at all.

Before you make up your mind, consult your employee handbook. Some companies have a policy wherein employees are responsible for paying for their benefits if they fail to return to work. You may be held accountable for the insurance premiums your company paid on your behalf while you were out on leave. Or, your company may place your end-of-service date on the day you actually left the office and you may need to make COBRA payments sooner than expected.

The same kind of repayments may be necessary if you accrue time off and use time that you haven’t quite earned yet for your leave. Changing your mind about returning to work could end up costing you more money, and leaving you with unexpected debt that can add strain in an already stressful situation. It may be better for everyone involved if you have a conversation with your boss before putting in your notice.


Full-Time Parent, Part-Time Worker


The majority of companies would prefer to compromise with you than hire and train someone new. If you’re concerned about balancing your home and work life, ask your manager or boss to meet for coffee and discuss the possibilities of working part-time. If your specific job allows you to work from home, start by requesting to do that and slowly transition to coming in a few days a week. Some parents may be better served by changing their schedules entirely.

Working two to three days a week or working only in the mornings or afternoons is another option. Some families who make these adjustments to their workday are able to avoid expensive daycare costs entirely by using these kinds of ‘shifts’. If you feel like this could work for you, offer to assist in any sort of restructuring that needs to be done. If you need to train someone or set up software on your home computer, meet your company more than halfway. They’ll undoubtedly appreciate the effort. However, if working part-time or telecommuting doesn’t work out, you may consider a career change that allows you to make money from home.


Working From Home


In the past 15 years, more and more parents are choosing to stay home with their young children. Just because you’ve chosen to stay home with your baby (or babies) doesn’t mean that you can’t work. Rather than being a ‘stay-at-home-parent’, many people are calling themselves ‘work-from-home-parents’ these days. While creating a balance between work and home can be challenging, there are a variety of ways to work from home and provide for your family.

Thanks to today’s technology, there are many different kinds of jobs you can do right from your laptop. From blogging and data input to virtual assistance, there are plenty of online jobs available, but be mindful of opportunities that seem too good to be true. Focus on accredited and well-reviewed companies before applying. If you’re less interested in computer work, there are ways to make money from home with sales or leadership skills. Many parents open their homes to others and offer childcare services.

Once you identify opportunities, temper them with reality to avoid frustration. For example, you can’t expect your child to behave and sit quietly all day and he/she will still need interaction, meals, and so forth. While part-time may be the goal, flexible time may be the most important factor to get there. There are also many fabulous “Parent’s Day Out” programs that allow you to drop your child off at a daycare-like environment a few hours/days per week at a fraction of the cost of daycare.

Think about what you enjoy and how you could get paid to do it. Skills such as speaking a second language could open the door to becoming a tutor. If you have a hobby such as knitting or tennis, you could possibly teach lessons or sell your crafts. You may surprise yourself with how enjoyable and lucrative your work is, especially when you can do it from home and spend time with your newborn.


One baby changes everything. When you’re family gets larger with the arrival of another child, you have to take a look at an even bigger picture. For more advice on navigating financials or saving up for your growing family, click here for friendly advice from the CommunityAmerica Credit Union Savin’ Mavens. This post was written by Maven Amy Grothaus.


How To Help Teach Your Kids How To Let Go Of Toys (And Other Items)

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Got clutter?  More importantly - do your KIDS have clutter?  Are they afraid to get rid of toys and other treasures?  No worries as you are NOT alone!  Check out this list of tips to help you teach your child learn to let go of toys and other things they no longer use.  #parenting
Kids accumulate so many toys, animals and special treasures that they can quickly take over their room.  As an adult, we know we need to get rid of items and can quickly discern which can be kept and which need to go away (be it donations or trash).  However, for a child, this is different.  All they own in this world are these items, so letting go of them can be very difficult.

There are some things you can do to help your children learn to let go of their toys and treasures, while not being too emotionally challenging for them.

Talk about space and growing up.  Talk to your children about how too many toys will prevent them being able to play.  You can talk about how they trip over items or step on toys and how that hurts them.  At this same time, you can talk to your kids about how great it is to grow up and part of that is learning to let go of those toys they no longer play with or need.

Move items to a temporary home before getting rid of them.  If your child is not yet ready to part with items, you can give them a temporary home, outside of the bedroom.  Have your child help decide which items they want to try to get rid of.  It can be difficult for them as getting rid of toys means they are growing up, and they may still want to cling to them so they can stay your little boy or girl.

This summer, we took around 20 stuffed animals out of our kids’ rooms.  We placed them in a plastic bag and put them in the basement.  This was done around 8 weeks ago and our kids have yet to ask for any of those items.

If they do not look for them after 6 or more months, we get rid of them.  We usually just do another check with our kids to make sure they don’t want one of them back and usually, all of them can leave.  Once in a while one or two make it back into their room, but keeping 2 out of 20 is definitely a step in the right direction.

Allow your kids to sell their own items.  Our daughter recently outgrew many of her LEGO sets.  She and I worked together to take photos and count out all pieces to ensure the sets were complete.  We then listed them for sale on Amazon and she was able to keep the profits.  She was able to clean out items from her room and turned it into a profit – which helped her want to get rid of even more items.

You could also even allow them to sell those items at a yard sale or other method.  Your child is in complete control of the items leaving – and gets to turn their toy into money, which they can use towards other items they may want.

Let them select the charity (teaching empathy).  Teaching your children about how other kids may not have toys and clothes helps them learn empathy.  They can relate to another child their own age not having items like they do.  An easy way to help instill this value is to allow your child to select the charity where you will make your donation.  You can research local organizations and your child can decide where the donation will go.

When they get a say, they will feel that they are making a difference and are in control of the items leaving the house (rather than mom or dad telling them what to do).  They may even surprise you by getting rid of items you didn’t think you’d ever see leave their bedroom.

Do a monthly swap.  When our kids were younger, we would take some of their toys and keep them in a box in the basement.  Every 2 or 3 months, I would clean their rooms and take out the old toys and put new ones in their place.  This kept toys new and fresh and kept them entertained.  This allowed me to also weed through the toys I knew were trash, find broken items and just declutter their rooms.  This also helps your child because the toys are not leaving completely, just going a way for a while.  You may even find that you don’t need to put the toys back into their room as they have since lost interest.


Whatever you do, don’t force your child to get rid of items.  They will let go of items in due time – and perhaps even sooner than you may be ready for them to do so.  Helping teach your child about letting go of items is a valuable lesson, which will help them later in life.

Mabel’s Labels Review: Perfect for Back to School!

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Here is my math problem — 3 kids + back to school = lots and lots of labeling!  We had to label backpacks and jackets and lunchbags and pouches….and the list goes on and on.  Rather than try to use a sharpie or a mailing label, we used Mabel’s Labels.  I absolutely LOVE these!!!

My kids like them because they can sit beside me and customize them.  They can select their own image on the labels and even select from various colors — all to make them one of a kind and show off their own personality.  The one that we purchased was the Mabel’s Labels Ultimate Combo Pack, which retails for $42.  This is a great option as it isn’t just one label – it includes several items!

  • 40 Skinny-mini labels
  • 50 Tag Maes
  • 16 Shoe Labels
  • 2 Teeny Tags

While your kids are most interested in the colors and design of the labels, moms (and dads) will appreciate the quality.  These labels are dishwasher and microwave safe.  We’ve had a bottle with a label on it which we’ve used for more than 2 years – and it still hasn’t come off through lot and lots of washing!  They are also safe enough to go through the washing machine.  We tagged a t-shirt of my daughter’s and that label has lasted for through 4 months of washing.   These labels just work.  Plain and simple.

I’ve seen other styles (and actually tried them).  Some of them peeled shortly after being applied. I had one that came right off in the dishwasher.  I don’t have the time (or money) to have to keep replacing labels on the items we use all of the time.  We “stick” with Mabel’s Labels for our kids because they just work.

Saving money is always important to my family.  However, so is quality.  If I have to purchase something over and over again because it fails, I may end up spending more in the long run than if I had just spent a bit more up front to buy a quality product.  That is honestly how I feel about Mabel’s Labels.  You get what you pay for.


*This is a sponsored review.  All opinions are truly my own and were not influenced by any parties.

Using a Snack Basket to Make After School Snack Time Quick and Easy

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Is this you?  Do your kids burst through the door after school yelling "I'm Hungry!!!"?  If so, then this post is for YOU!!  Follow these tips to make your own snack basket in a matter of minutes to help your kids find something to eat quickly and easily!  #lifehacks

It is 4:00 p.m.  Your kids come rushing through the door from school and the first words you hear are “Mom!!!!!  I’m Hungry!!”  They run to the pantry or fridge and then stare blankly at what is inside.  They aren’t sure what to have to eat.  You intervene and help them figure something out and finally, after 15 minutes of empty stares, your child finally finds something to eat.

Fortunately for us, this is not the case!  My kids never have to ask what they can eat for a snack nor do they say we’ve got nothing to eat.  How?  Simple.  We use a snack basket.

I’ve actually used this practice since my oldest was around 2 years old.  I found a wicker basket and filled it with mom-approved snacks.  Then, when she was hungry, we would go to the basket to find something to eat.  We’ve kept this going now for nearly 8 years and it still works as well today as it did back then!

It is really easy to make one yourself.  It will take a few minutes each week to stock it and then, your kids will know what to grab to eat after school or on the way out the door to soccer practice (which saves you time and sanity).

I pick up the items my kids like to eat.  Sometimes they are individually wrapped, but often, they are in a large box.  When I get home, I read the side where it tells me a serving size.  With most crackers, it always says a number, rather than a measurement.  I have found that, in most cases, the number they share is around 1/2 cup.  That makes it simple to make servings for my kids.

I pick up snack size baggies and then use a measuring cup and fill them up.  Then, stack them into the basket.  That’s it!

snack basket |

By measuring serving sizes, you help make sure your kids don’t over eat and can keep the portions to a size that is appropriate for them.  When my kids were younger, the bags were not filled quite as fully as they are now that they are older.  They also know they get one snack.

Um, Tracie?  What about fruit and other items?  That is simple as we keep a snack drawer in our fridge too!  That is where we have fruit, cheese sticks, yogurt cups, yogurt sticks and those types of snacks.  My kids know that they can go to either basket to find a snack — without having to ask mom if it is “OK.”   There are also days when they walk through the door where I will say — “Today is fridge snack day” and they know to go there and find a snack from that drawer instead.

They love the independence it provides to them and I love that I don’t have to stop to find them something to eat after school.  It really makes our after school routine a bit simpler and keeps us on schedule so that they are not eating too closely to dinner, and ruining their appetite!


Should You Stay Or Should You Go? Congrats, you’re pregnant! But, what are you going to do after the baby is born?

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Dan Gering


Is it a boy or a girl? Do you have a name picked out? Will you breastfeed or use formula? Once you and your partner announce your pregnancy, you’re likely to be bombarded with questions and most of them aren’t easy to answer. One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is what you’ll do after your bundle of joy arrives: Are you going to stay home or go back to work? If you go back work, will you hire home care or use a daycare?


What’s Best For You And Your Family


…is ultimately what’s best for your baby, too. Everyone’s situation is different and no one’s choice is easy. There is no wrong or right decision because everyone who makes this choice is doing what’s best for themselves and for their families. With that being said, here are some financial questions you can ask yourself as you decide what’s best for you:

  • One of the biggest questions – If your spouse works, can you afford to live on one income?
  • Do you have paid maternity or paternity leave?
  • Do you want to leave your career at this point?
  • Do you have a support system around you to help care for the child?
  • Will staying at home hamper your career later in your life?


Taking The Time Off


If your company offers paid maternity (or paternity) leave, you have an opportunity to ‘test the waters’ without taking an extreme financial hit. If parental leave isn’t offered, you’re still eligible for FMLA leave for up to 12 weeks unpaid and a guaranteed position upon your return.

Typically, it’s better for everyone involved if you make your decision and inform your work before giving birth, but some working parents experience a change of heart. It’s financially critical to see what percentage of income your leave covers and how many weeks it covers. You don’t want to have any surprises when you start leave.


A Dual Focus


As the due date approaches, your thoughts may turn to tiny outfits and nursery preparation. Or, you may be thinking about finishing everything at work and delegating tasks before you go. You might be thinking about both.

Many men and women are satisfied with their careers and in positions that not only allow them to support their family, but help fulfill them emotionally or socially as well. Some people are also at critical junctures in their careers and want to have a family while securing their position at work. With both parents working, the obligations of home and the office can be a challenge but also very rewarding. Prepare yourself to return to work by establishing routines.

If you are looking into daycares, you cannot start too early! Some institutions require a deposit and have up to a year wait list, so identify what’s important to you in a childcare option and schedule site visits in your first trimester, if possible. Take notes about requirements and your own observations.


One Income Family


If you’ve decided that you or your spouse is going to stay home, it’s time to consider how it will affect your primary and long-term budget. Typically, whoever has the higher income becomes the primary breadwinner but take into account schedules, benefits, travel time and opportunities for advancement. A short-term financial gain could very well carry long-term consequences.

Adjusting to a single income requires a bit of strategy, too. You will want to start saving before the baby is born. Write out a list of your most nonessential spending and start cutting- for this you’ll need to start at square one with a basic budgeting worksheet budgeting worksheet.

For some families, sacrifices may be cable television, a gym membership or magazine subscriptions. It’s smart to clip coupons and re-examine your grocery list, too. This will feel like a bit of a shock at first, but trust me, you will be so busy with baby you won’t notice the extras are gone. To acclimate yourself early, start practicing with your new budget before baby arrives to get used to the changes. This will also help you boost your savings.


Is Help Around?


Your surroundings, especially the people in them, will likely have the biggest influence on whether or not you choose to stay home or go back to work. Being a stay at home parent is a full-time job and usually, there’s no time-off or lunch breaks. You’ll need all the help you can get no matter what choice you make.

Some families chose home care help rather than a daycare, which can be a nice (it really does take a village). Some parents divide up their options, working part-time and utilizing a daycare provider on the other days. Start conversations with your employer early on to see what your options are and that may just be the right choice for you.

Many stay-at-home parents rely on ‘co-ops’ or ‘mom groups’ as a means to stay connected (and sane). They meet with other new moms or dads to not only remain social, but to help ease the stress of being a primary caretaker. Some parents even participate in babysitting exchanges. Talk with your significant other about time for you to regroup and recharge, too! Balance allows you to be a focused parent.

No matter how you stay involved, it’s important to try and gauge how much support you’ll have from your family and friends when deciding if you’re staying home or going back to work. There are always options for every situation, it just may take a bit of flexibility and financial creativity to make it all work.


In the coming weeks, we’ll explore the pros and cons of stay-at-home parenting and how you can best prepare yourself for one of the biggest, and best, changes of your life. For more advice on navigating financials or saving up for your growing family, click here for friendly advice from the CommunityAmerica Credit Union Savin’ Mavens. This post was written by Maven Dana Gering.


How to Organize School Papers, Photos and Artwork

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Organizing school papers and projects |


As your child starts another school year (or is starting for the first time), you may find that you have a stack of artwork, projects, school portraits and report cards.  These may be tossed into a box or bag because you aren’t sure what to do with them.   As a parent, you want to keep many items for your kids to have when they grow up.  I still have items from kindergarten that I share with my kids.  They find it hilarious to see that mom couldn’t write very well either!

Organizing these papers will save your sanity and help you find the item you want, when you need it.  Not only that, but you won’t end up looking at a paper your child wrote and end up wondering — how old was he when he wrote that?  You might see that handprint and think, was she 5 or 6 when she made that in school?  I’ve got a simply way for you to keep those cherished items AND help organize them.  The best part of all is that you only have to do your filing ONE time a year!

With three kids, I had to find a simple way to do this.  I started out by purchasing storage tubs.  I found some which had a way to hang files inside of them.


I found mine at Office Max and they were around $15 each.  I loved the winged lid because it was easy to open and had the ability for me to put hanging folder inside of it.  You can find them at many stores, however, make sure that you find some which will allow you to hang folders inside of it.

I then picked up hanging folders. I opted for box bottom folders, so that they could expand wide enough to hold all of the items I needed to store.  These were a little more expensive, but knowing I could use one for each year and they would hold all of my items, it was worth it to me.  Here is what a bottom box folder looks like:

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 9.01.54 AM


I took the tabs and wrote each school year on them – starting with Preschool.  I didn’t go higher than 6th grade, as I was not sure if years after that time would fit into this same box or not.  I can add additional years later on.

As you can see in the photo below, I have mine created from Preschool up through 6th grade for my kids.  I then filed the paperwork for each year into each folder.  I didn’t have to cut anything. I didn’t have to put it into a scrapbook. I literally just placed each item into the appropriate year for each child.


So, what should you save?  Here are some the things I have filed in each of my children’s folders:

  • Report cards (I save ONLY the final one of the year and file it away and don’t keep the one for each quarter)
  • School photos (includes class picture and those given to them by friends)
  • Funny stories
  • Up to 3 pieces of artwork per year
  • Certificates
  • Desk Tags
  • Yearbook
  • Other items which show my children’s personality at that age

As I mentioned, I only file once per year.  I have a large box which I set on top of these in my basement.  All year long, I just toss in the items I may want to save into the box for all of my kids.  Once the final report card of the year is issued, I print it out (they email them to us) and that is my cue to do my filing.  I go through the box of papers and open each child’s storage box.  I file the items I need to save and toss those things we don’t need to keep.  It takes me no more than 30 minutes to do this for all 3 of my kids!

I place a paper inside the box with each child’s name and school years listed.   They go into my basement and I have no worries of water damage (since the tubs are plastic) and I can get to them quickly should the need arise!

Organzing school papers


There you have it!  A quick and easy way to get those papers filed away and off of your kitchen counter, desk or wherever they happened to lie.



Back To School with Target! Every Little Thing Is a Really Big Deal! #btswithtarget

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target bts


Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Target via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Target


While school started for many kids this past month, many more are starting back today, September 2nd!  While it is fun for kids to shop for all of the supplies, one thing truly matters most of all.    It isn’t the backpack.  It isn’t even seeing friends.  It is the clothes.

My kids and I had a lot of fun shopping at Target for clothes for them to wear back to school.  In fact, the minute my nearly 6 year old kindergartner saw this green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt in the store she told me that she had to have it to wear on the first day of school.  And you know what, she did just that!

first day of kindergarten

My kids and I actually made a day of shopping for our supplies and clothes.  I know as a kid, every little thing matters (and Target actually gets that too).  The prices are always affordable, although I did teach my kids to always check before we shop.  They had fun checking all sorts of clothes:


We were able to find the perfect shirts and then visited the shoe department.  So many styles from which they could choose!


While my kids had fun finding the items that THEY wanted, there was still one thing that is a must when it is back to school time.  If you are a mom, you know what I’m talking about.  Socks and underwear!!!  Just like with myself, I hate spending too much on these items.  I was able to find the things my kids needed and even tracked down a Target Cartwheel coupon to use with them – to save even more!  Seriously — don’t you LOVE how much money you can save at Target?!!!  Click the video below!!


Back to School with Target - Video fun!


With three kids heading to school this year for the first time, my budget had to be in check.  I couldn’t afford to overspend.  I had to make sure that my kids were able to get those extra special things that really mattered to them, as this is THEIR time of the year.  Visiting Target allowed this mom’s wallet to still have money left after we shopped and we still were able to pick up all of those items my kids wanted.  After all, Every Little Thing Matters.



Product Review: Dust Off Products

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dust off review

I use electronics nearly all day long.  Between my laptop, phone and iPad, my fingers leave marks on a lot of devices.  In fact it isn’t just me, it is also my kids (whose prints usually leave more than just a mark – it is usually something sticky too)!  It isn’t safe to clean these devices with just water and you can’t really just wipe away the marks, so you need something better.

I’ve been using Dust-Off products for a couple of years now and am a HUGE fan!! My favorite product is the LCD Plasma Screen Care Kit (pictured above).  So, when they asked me if I’d be willing to share my thoughts about this product, I replied with an astounding YES!

In case you did not know, you can’t just use regular window spray and a paper towel on these devices.  First of all, they will streak and paper towels can actually scratch the surface.  It is important that you take care of your expensive device by properly cleaning.

What I love about this is that the spray is a very fine mist.  It isn’t overly wet, which would allow it to drip and run into the parts of the device, where you won’t want it.  It usually takes one spray and then a quick wipe with the included micro fiber cloth and the prints are gone — as well as the food and other residue which is left behind.  I can also use it on everything:

  • Tablets
  • Laptop
  • Computer Monitor
  • Cell Phones
  • TVs
  • Gaming Systems (Nintendo 3DS)

This product provide SAFE care and maintenance:

  • Safe – Can be used an all types of screens and sprayed directly on surface with special “no-run” formula
  • Anti-Static – Reduces the build-up of dust, resulting in less cleaning and increased performance
  • Flexible – Can be used dry or slightly moistened (Ideal when used in conjunction with NEW Flat Screen Spray)
  • Easy to use and clean. Hand-washable for extended use

One simple spray and a wipe with the cloth and my devices are not only clean, but streak free too!  No more prints, smudges or other left over food on my devices.

The other thing I appreciate about Dust-Off is that is affordable.  After all, you spent a lot of money on your devices, so you should be willing to pay a good price to properly take care of it, but with them – you don’t have to!  You can pick up sprays and kits starting as little as $4.49.  And, to be honest, one can lasts a very, very long time!  I even toss my cloth into the washing machine (allow it to air dry) and it gets the dirt and grime out of the cloth so it stays clean.

You should really check out their products.  They actually would make some AWESOME stocking stuffers this holiday season!!!

Penny Pinchin’ Mom received this product in order to facilitate her review.  All opinions are her own and were not influenced by any parties.

How to Create an After School Schedule

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Creating an After School Schedule |  #backtoschool #schedule #organize #timemanagement


There is a lot of great information out there to help make your morning routine go more smoothly (we’ve even got one HERE).  However, what about after school?  The kids come bursting through the door and seems that chaos begins.  There are shoes, backpacks, homework, snacks…..and and can quickly drive mom insane!

The trick is to create a routine.  When you have a routine, everyone knows what to do and can help keep a good rhythm running in your house.  Of course, you may need to tailor this to each child, depending up on age an maturity.  Even my own kids are different and so the way I run our routine differs a bit for each of them.

No matter your child’s age, there are things each of them can do.  For us it is simple,  they have 3 things they need to do the minute they walk into the door:

  1. Place your backpack where it belongs.  For us it is the bench in the entryway, so that I can go through them to get out papers and things I need.  As they get older, they will have to take out those things and then hang it up.
  2. Place your shoes next to the bench so they are ready for the next day.  We don’t have our kids put tennies in their rooms during the week.  This is one thing we do right away, which helps us the following day!
  3. Grab a snack.  We have a snack basket, filled with “mom approved” snacks, for them to tackle.  This helps mom by not having to take the time to get them a snack, while making sure they are eating something which I say is OK (I will post more about a snack basket soon).

Once these things are done, I allow my kids at least 30 minutes of free time.  That can be playing with toys, watching a TV show or playing with an electronic.  My oldest has Karate, which runs on a set schedule.  This is part of her routine and she knows that she has to put her uniform on at 5 pm on those evenings, so we can get out the door shortly after Dad gets home.

After they have their free time, they have to do their chores.  These are simple things such as picking up their rooms (as needed), putting away the clean clothes on their bed or helping mom with other little tasks.  We want our kids to know that they have to contribute to running our household – mom is not here to serve them.

We have dinner between 5:30 and 6:00 pm every night.  Part of our routine is 3 kids – so 3 chores.  We rotate between:  setting the table, clearing the table and loading the dishwasher.  They know that Mom (or sometimes Dad) cooks the meal and they have to be a part of that in some way.    By having dinner a bit earlier, we are alway done with it all by 6:30 pm, which allows time for other tasks.

If your children bring homework home with them, a good time to do this is right after dinner is done and the dishes are washed.  They’ve already had their “down time” so they can now focus on homework and studies.  We have our kids do this in their rooms, where it is quiet and they can focus.  Of course, there are times when the kitchen table works better, so we just turn off the television so that it is quiet and they can concentrate and quickly get their work done.

Bath time is another things our kids do every night.  A bath helps them relax and washes off all of that dirt and grime they’ve picked up on the school bus and playground.  We usually try to do baths by 7:00 each evening.  This again, gives our kids a chance to have a few more minutes of playtime before they hear the “B” word — BEDTIME!!!

While they do go to bed when we tell them to, they don’t always like it.  Our youngest kids still love a story at bedtime.  For that reason, they have to head up to bed at 7:45 so they can go to the bathroom, brush their teeth and have time for that story.  It is lights out at 8 pm.   Our oldest is allowed to stay up until 9 pm, but we have her go up a few minutes early so that she too can brush her teeth before climbing into bed.

Of course, if you are mom who works out of the home, you will have to make adjustments as you may not walk through the door with everyone until 5:30.  If you find you get home a bit later, you can just pick up from dinnertime noted above through bedtime.  You can have your kids do their chores while you are fixing dinner, so that once you are through eating, you can move into homework, baths and bed.

Whatever you do, try to set a regular routine for your kids.  They need to know what comes next and it really helps reduce stress (and even tears)!


Product Review: iLuv Selfy Case

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iLuv Selfy Case Review |


Selfy’s.  Everyone seems to be doing them, but in nearly all of them, you see that extended arm in the shot.  You know what I am talking about – don’t you?  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to take a selfy that actually didn’t have that issue?   iLuv has the answer — it is the Selfy case.

The iLuv Selfy Case (retails for $69.99) is a plastic and rubber case which includes a built-in kick stand for your device.  It is paired with a bluetooth remote (which slides into the back of the case when not in use).  The remote is used to take the pictures – which allows you to set your device up, use the remote and take a Selfy that doesn’t include the dreaded “arm shot.”

The case was actually better than I thought it would be.  It includes a hard plastic piece which surround the device.  It then slides into the outer plastic shell, which provides additional cushion for the device.  There are proper cut outs for your charger, camera and headphone ports, which were large enough to work with most accessories.

selfy case 2

While it is built to protect, I will admit that I had a tougher time getting the hard plastic case onto the device.  It had to snap on tightly and then trying to remove it was also difficult.  I suppose you could say that it is that way to protect the device to ensure it doesn’t pop out, but I did have to push pretty hard to get it to snap into place.


Once the device is in the case, you simply have to pair the remote to your device. The instructions to do this were very well written and it took less than 10 seconds to get up and running.  Then, you just need to open your camera app, prop up your device and then start snapping away!!!

My kids and I had some fun.  In fact, we were having a girls’ afternoon and so decided to give the device a try.  Here are two of our own Selfy’s:


All in all, I really think this is an awesome device.  I can see this being so great to take those family photos or other shots, where you want to be included – but would rather your arm be down by your side!!

I received this product for review.  All opinions are my own and were not influenced by any parties.