The Best Summer Crafts and Activities For Kids

Summer is right around the corner! For a work at home mom, that can mean a lot less time to get actual work done because the school-aged kids are home all day. Not to mention all of the sports, lessons, trips, camps, etc that you have to schedule your work around. It’s not easy to do, and work can slow down during the long, lazy days of summer, but it doesn’t have to stop! I’ve compiled a round-up of the best summer crafts and activities for kids to do when they’re home, so you can be productive.

Best Summer Activities and Crafts for Kids

Lydia of Cluttered Genius already shared her favorite YouTube channels for toddlers and preschoolers, and she also has a list of the best apps for them. Because sometimes, a little screen time is the best way to get things done.

A Busy Box is a brilliant idea for the little ones, especially if you save it for only when you’re working. Tuck one away when you need 30 minutes or an hour to get work done, and because it’s not an every day thing, it will be way more exciting for the kids. See Vanessa Craft has a list of Busy Bag Ideas for toddlers, and the same idea can be used for older kids…find crafts or art projects that are reserved for “busy time” and need little supervision…a special LEGO set (you can purchase several small ones and hand them out one at a time), a loom bracelet kit, water colors, kinetic sand (a big favorite around here), playfoam (fun for preschool and early elementary-aged kids, and so much less messy than play dough, plus it’s gluten free), special coloring books and crayons or markers. Fill a large tote or basket with these items, and allow your child (children) to choose one thing to work on at any given day. 

Best summer activities and crafts for kids

Along the same lines of the busy box, special toys can be saved for “mama’s work time.” A box of dolls and doll clothes, a race track with extra cool race cars, a train track and trains, a box of puzzles, magnetic dress-up dolls, a toy kitchen, a set of dress up clothes. Keep these in a closet, your office, or the garage, out of sight, and it’ll be like Christmas any time you bring one out.

Set up an outdoor work station, if possible. You can make phone calls, hand write in a notebook (or type on a laptop or tablet) blog posts, organize boxes of inventory, or do other tasks while you keep an eye on your children in a sandbox, on a trampoline, or even in a backyard pool (with older kids), all from a porch or deck or spot in the yard.

Pinterest has a ton of crafts and summer activities for kids as well. Again, the key is to find things that the kids can do with supervision but little actual help from you, so you can work!

When all else fails, fill your living room with blown-up balloons or huge cardboard boxes, and let the kids at them!

What are your favorite summer crafts and activities for kids?

Product links are Amazon affiliate links, which means that you can work your business in the summertime, and I can, too!

Introduce yourself!

Hello everyone! You may know by now that my name is Greta and I took over this site in February.

I’m a wife and wahm/sahm of four kids, ages 8, 6, 4, and 3. We live in the Kansas countryside and the kids go to a small school in one of the many neighbor towns.

Introduce yourself!

Now, I’d love to hear about you and what you do! Leave a comment and let me know where you are and what you spend your time doing.

Have a great Monday!

twahm work or play

5 At-Home Date Ideas

Every time I have a baby (I’m currently at three total), I seem to go into lockdown mode. Getting away when you are the baby’s source of nutrition or comfort can be really difficult. In fact, it seems like every time I try to leave, the baby has a weird day or night. He suddenly wakes in the night when he’d pretty much been sleeping through.

Add to this the difficulty of putting our three year old to bed. He’s nice, but we often worry about asking a babysitter to try and him having a meltdown.

That’s why my husband and I typically just stay home. While it may not be luxurious and overly romantic, we find ways to connect with one another and lower the stress of figuring out how to get out the door without more trouble than it’s worth.

Here are five at-home date ideas that may be so simple you’ve just forgotten they existed!

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1. Make take-out your friend – We live in a very small area, so our choices are limited. But we still choose take-out over cooking something at home when we have the chance. It at least feels like we’re splurging!

2. Redbox, Netflix, Amazon Prime Movies – Since we never get to actually go to the movies (we don’t have the heart to ask someone to sit here all night so we can go to a late movie), we choose to just rent. It’s actually a lot cheaper, and we can hit pause to refill our drinks or run to the restroom. Plus, we can snuggle a lot better on the couch than in the very uncomfortable (and often sticky) movie theater seats.

3. Talk! – Seems trivial, but talking really does make us connect even more. When the kids are awake and screaming or crying or playing loudly, we don’t have many opportunities to talk seriously and focus. We have found ourselves turning off all electronics to actually look each other in the eye and talk about what’s going on.

4. Play games – Remember those games you used to play when you didn’t have children and weren’t worried about someone feasting on the Scrabble letters? They can still be a great way to do something different and somewhat educational! We enjoy playing Scrabble or a game of cards to be a little competitive with one another. It also generally leads to fun flirting we haven’t done in a while.

5. Get outside – As the weather begins to get warmer and the sun is staying out longer, being outside is much easier. Our bedroom happens to be in the back of the house where we also have our patio furniture. We put our monitors in our open windows so we can hear anything that may be happening inside, and then we enjoy a late dinner or drinks while we sit in our open and quiet back yard. We also don’t have to worry about how loud we’re being since the kids can’t hear us!

What at-home date ideas do you have? Share!

Action and Intention

Action and intention in the springtime

It is April! We have more light through the day if we are subjected to the horrors of daylight savings time and then the rites of spring. The warmer days creep up in rapid succession and before you know it Easter is overtaken by Memorial Day then the 4th of July then school starting again.

This rapid onslaught happens unless you take a moment to step back and be present. Being present can be very hard for us moms who have the demands of our little one constantly tugging on our clothing as well as a million other responsibilities.

In my yoga classes where I work with mothers around their childbirth journeys I cue special themes at this time of year to hopefully gear them up to make the most of the beautiful weather and what it does for our souls. Perhaps my favorite theme is “action and intention” at this time of year.

Before spring hits and we have to leave our domestic cocoons is a fantastic time to pause, breathe, then honestly reflect if your actions align with your intentions.

For the woman who spends a great deal of time at home it is easy to lose sight of your intentions because life happens. If this is your first step, then take a moment to think about how you want to be conducting yourself in your daily affairs. If you know the path you want to be on then honestly hold a private conversation to determine if you have been walking that path or imagining it from far away.

Some examples of intentions to examine are:

Are you eating the right kind of foods you said you would eat when the winter holidays passed?

Are you and the family moving as much as you had planned on?

Are you interacting with your relationships as warmly as you think you do?

When working from home are you setting boundaries of when you are working and when you are able to wear your mom hat?

Have you been practicing your religious or spiritual discipline if you have one?

If you did a vision board or set any long-term goals then reflect on those. Next set up some sort of realistic accountability to align your action with intention. And then go forward into spring feeling empowered to fully utilize the newness of the season.

Above all treat yourself with gentle kindness if your actions do not perfectly line up with your intention. This is the case for pretty much all of us, especially moms who have to deal with the balancing act of life for us and our littles.

It is April! It is spring! Use this time to your advantage or at least enjoy the peace and quiet as you sip on a nice glass of wine to reflect on this post.

Kia Ru wears many hats. She is an Ignite Fitness and COCreate Organizer, ShiftCon speaking coordinator, yoga instructor at-large, an ecologist on parenting hiatus, and a writing and image contributor on wellness, green and parent topics. She blogs at: http://bodhibear.net/

Making the Most of Your Family’s Schedule (Video Tip)

Do you have a wall calendar for keeping your family’s schedule straight? Are you making the most of your family’s schedule? Kari of Driskotech is sharing awesome tips today.

Tips from Driskotech on making the most of your family's schedule

Kari Driskell is a previous middle school math teacher, mother of two busy lil blonde headed girls, wife of a busy high school football coach, a Premier Designs Jeweler, and owner of DRISKOTECH. Driskotech is a brand new company that specializes in helping direct sellers and small business owners create fun and engaging videos, meant to be shared via social media, and especially during their online Facebook Parties! In her spare time she enjoys THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, folding laundry, and watching her kids on the soccer field… and not particularly in that order. She is an avid run-on sentence writer. Check out her DRISKOTECH Facebook fanpage at: www.facebook.com/DRISKOTECH

Stealing Moments for You

Working from home means that you never leave the office. If you’re like me and you have your email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on your phone, you really never leave. Then, as is the nature of a work-at-home-parent, there’s your 24/7 job of, well, being a parent.

My for-pay job(s) has me on the computer or phone for what seems like hours on end. And the kids? Well, they seem to always want to eat or play a game.

Stealing moments for yourself feels like a laughable non-option. It’s not.

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  1. Turn off the phone and close the computer. Set times for yourself to be “on” and “off.” I try to make sure that I’m “off” by 9 pm if possible. This gives me a chance to actually look my husband in the face instead of barking our conversation over our kids’ heads.
  2. If the weather is nice enough, get outside. My boys love to be outside right before lunch. We take a walk to our post office (about a block down the road) and then draw or swing. While they are playing happily, I have time to let my mind wander.
  3. Prioritize your to-do list. My list seems to be never-ending. As soon as I think I have made it through, I remember about three other things to add to the list. This makes me look closely and work on the biggest issues first. What is due soonest? I take care of those first and still meet my 9 pm deadline. Otherwise, I could sit at the computer without moving for the better part of any day.
  4. Take a shower. This sounds really silly, but if your house is anything like mine, going to take a shower is one way I can guarantee about fifteen to twenty minutes of alone-time. It’s after I take the actual shower that I might sit in my bathroom and work on my nails or straighten the counter.
  5. Get to sleep at a decent hour. I know it’s tempting to stay up really late and get more work done. Believe me — I’m guilty of this one. But just five extra minutes that I swear I’m going to spend doing just one small task always leads to another five minutes and another. Next thing I know, I’ve found myself hitting the pillow at midnight.
  6. Find a way to hang out with your BFF. I have one very close friend, and she’s as busy as I am. We try really hard to get out to eat once in a while so we can catch up without kids or husbands bugging us. Mommy needs a chance to talk to real adults about her favorite topics, too!

What ways do you try to steal some peace and freedom just for you?

Balancing School, Kids and a Full-Time Job: Yes, You Can Do It

If you work from home full-time and have young children to take care of, you might think going back to school is not an option. But that is not the case. According to WorkingMother.com, more than 60 percent of students earning a degree online are women, most of them over the age of 25. Balancing school, kids and a full-time job can be difficult, but with motivation and the right strategy, you can do it.

How to balance school, kids, and a full-time job

Time Management

This should probably go without saying, but the only way this is going to work is if you manage your time properly. If you have young children, you won’t be able to devote hours at a time to your studies. There are too many distractions and kids have too many needs, and you will only wind up frustrated and unable to focus.

A great piece of advice from The Bump: Break up the work in sections. Instead of watching an hour-long lecture while the kids are nagging, watch 20 minutes and then hang with the kids for 10 minutes. Get them a snack, change a diaper and put on a new show. That can buy you another 20-30 minutes straight to watch or work. Moms can complete an hour lecture in an hour and twenty minutes by doing this, rather than it taking two hours with constant stopping and no focus at all.

Focus

Another important aspect of time management is focus. If you’re not understanding the material because you’re distracted, it does not matter how much time you set aside. One of the most difficult parts of online learning is how easy it is to shop, chat and surf instead. Use a tool like RescueTime that tracks what you are doing and enables you to block online distractions.

Reduce Stress

Seek and spend time with other student/working moms who are going through the same things. Consider sharing babysitting expenses a few nights a week so you can get work done. Having an in-person support group can really help, especially when your classmates are all online. Visit a site like CollegeOnline LLC for more tips and resources about being a successful online college student in nursing.

Be Realistic

Don’t take on too much at once. Set realistic goals about how many classes you can juggle with the rest of your schedule. Plan your daily routine; figure out how many hours are left after work and taking care of the kids, then determine how many hours you will need to devote to each class. And do not forget budgeting time for yourself and sleeping.

No one is saying this is going to be a cake walk, but you can do it. Maintain the right attitude and put a good strategy in place, and you can get that degree for your nursing profession.

The Good Mother Myth Book Review

The Internet has brought me so many new friends: bloggers, people with similar interests, etc. But, it also has a way of making me feel “less than” especially as a mother. Every day, there’s a new list or headline about things that you SHOULD be doing for your kids, or SHOULD NOT be doing for them. And behind the cloak of social media, it’s easy to be judged by other mothers (or non-mothers) who read something, out of context, and think they could be doing it (parenting your kids) better. Or, only sharing the good stuff and neglecting to mention the “real stuff”, making it seem as though they have it all together. Because of all of this, I was thrilled to open up The Good Mother Myth, because reading the book, I instantly felt like I was “good enough” as a mom….there were others just like me, sometimes struggling to get through the day and successfully past bedtime.

The Good Mother Myth book review

The Good Mother Myth is a collection of essays that takes a “realistic look at motherhood” and provides “a platform for diverse voices and raw stories.” They are meant to take apart the idea of this fairy tale “good mother”….reflecting on “stereotypes and expectations and offers some truth about what it means to be a mother today.”

One area that is hot with contention is food allergies….parents whose kids don’t have them sometimes think that they shouldn’t have to work around the kids that do. Parents whose kids do have them feel like their kids aren’t safe at school during parties, or are exhausted from making sure that their kids do have safe foods there. One story, called Parenting Without A Rope, is told by a mom whose daughter has a severe milk allergy and almost died from her mistakes more than once. It shows just how stressful, exhausting, and precarious an allergy like that can be.

No More Fakebook shows a real Saturday in the life of a mother vs a “Facebook Saturday”… a hilarious play by play of real life not seen in Facebook statuses. My favorite line from the essay “Instead of pretending that everything is hunky-freaking-dory, let’s be real: Parenting is ridiculously hard.” Amen to that…it’s easy to wrap up your life in a happy little bow for all of your “friends” online, but it’s another to show what’s really going on.

Failure To Launch tells the story of the first days with a newborn without that blissful bonding feeling, an effect of postpartum depression, and a mother’s struggle to claw her way out of it and really see her sweet son for the deliciously lovable bundle that he really was.

The book, compiled and edited by Avital Norman Nathman, also shares stories from single mothers, lesbian mothers, teen mothers, adoptive mothers, mentally ill mothers, and the one thing they all have in common is that they are, in fact, good mothers.

Pick up a copy of The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality on Amazon, or check out more information on goodmothermyth.com.

Amazon link is an affiliate. I was given a copy of the book to review but received no other compensation. All opinions are 100% my own. 

One Mom’s Work At Home Schedule

Ok so the title is misleading: I’m not technically a Work At Home Mom.

I’m a Work Out of the Home, Work in the Home, Work in the Car, Work Work Work Mom.

I’m a high school teacher and writer.

For nine months of the year, my teaching job structures my working day, but during the summer (and on other breaks) I have to schedule writing and mothering my two boys, Eddie (4.5) and Charlie (2). I found very quickly that it’s not just the boys that need routine, but I do too. I need to know when I’ll be able to write and work. It helps me focus better on my work and on my “momming”.

Knowing I will have certain times guaranteed for working lowers my anxiety and helps me know how to schedule my freelance work. It also helps me plan activities and maximize my time with my boys.

This is the routine we follow when I am working from home:

One Working Mom's Daily Schedule

Anytime between 6:30 and 8:00 am: The boys get up, I drink coffee, we snuggle on the couch.

9:00: breakfast

9:30-noon: Play time/daily adventure. Unless the boys are in daycare (which happens once a week in the summer), I expect my mornings to be work-free. If we are going to go to the park, library, out with friends, or to visit daddy at work, this is when it happens. Some days all we do is go outside at our house, but we always shut off the TV and DO SOMETHING.

Sometimes during this time, the boys will play nicely outside without wanting or needing me to be involved, and I can do some work from our deck or patio. I don’t ever plan on it though…just in case it doesn’t happen.

12:00-12:30: Lunch

12:30-1:30: Some TV time/toys/daddy home for lunch. Sometimes I catch a shower during this time. Sometimes.

1:30-4:00: Nap/Quiet time. Charlie will nap anywhere from 2-3 hours if I let him, and Eddie knows he may do a craft, play outside, play the Wii (if it’s  yucky out), have Tablet Time, etc as long as he can do it quietly on his own. This is when I work.  I write my buns off during this time. Or, if nothing is pressing, I read.  Sometimes (the best days), Eddie plays outside while I read/write on the patio.

4:00-5:00: The “witching hour”. Charlie gets up from nap, the boys have a quick snack, and most days we head to the front yard to play or chalk the driveway until daddy gets home from work.

5:00-6:00: Making and eating dinner

6:00-8:00: Family time

8:00-11:00: Boys in bed, time to write. Also time to snuggle with the husband and/or a good book.

Once a week my boys both go to daycare from 7:00am-4:30pm. Those days are cram days for work and errands and “me time”.

I probably devote an average of five hours a day to work (which ranges from my blog to freelance to academic/teacher stuff).  This is the schedule that works for me and my family.  Since I am working so much during the school year, it’s important for me to devote parts of my day during breaks to just my boys and not to work.

What does your Work Day look like?

Weekend Tip: Teach Your Child To Interrupt Politely

Deborah Gilboa is a working family physician with four kids. She spends her days helping her patients with their medical needs AND her community with their parenting questions. She has a YouTube video series and a blog with dozens and dozens of practical parenting solutions, and a book coming out soon. (affiliate link) Today, she’s sharing how to teach your child to interrupt politely while you’re working at home so you can get work done and they can get what they need.

As a work at home mom, it’s so hard to be professional while the kids are around and always needing you. Doctor G has a short video with a priceless tip on how to teach your kids when and how it’s okay to interrupt you. Whether you’re on the phone, a meeting at your house, a lunch date with a business partner or part of your downline, this skill will become invaluable as you juggle the challenges of working at home and parenting.