10 Toys That Teach Kids About the Human Body

Science can be fun learning at any age with these 10 toys that teach kids about the human body.

10 TOYS THAT TEACH KIDS ABOUT THE HUMAN BODY

I’m not sure how it happened, but my four-year-old has fallen in love with the human body. He is fascinated by it. Even his pediatrician was taken aback when he could name all the anatomy of the human ear. He also knows the systems (e.g. circulatory, muscular, vascular, neurological, etc) of the body. So much was learned simply through play. Kids learn so much that way and they don’t even realize they are soaking it all in like a sponge.

So today, I’m going to share with you some of our favorite 10 toys that teach kids about the human body. I will try to include the age appropriateness with each of the toys. However, many of the toys can be used with younger children as long as they are supervised.

Magnetic Human Body

I love Melissa and Doug toys because they aren’t plastic. Even though the M&D products are a little on the pricey side, I still swear by them. This cute wooden Melissa and Doug set has twenty-four pieces that help children envision the human body and how it works from the inside. I found this was perfect for ages three to five. It is simple enough for some toddlers and all preschoolers to understand.

Squishy Human Body

The Squishy Human body has 21 pieces. This was an absolute favorite for my four-year-old. It does say it is designed for ages eight and up, but my four-year-old loved it. The bones come apart and it comes with a booklet explaining the parts and their function in the body. Even the skull comes apart to reveal a realistic brain. All the organs are squishy giving it a real feel and look.

Magic School Bus: Human Body Lab

Based on the Scholastic and Netflix series, this educational kit comes with experiment cards, a skeleton, posters, and stickers. This great for kiddos five and up. Fun fact: this was actually developed by Harvard graduates, scientists and educators to make it a full, exciting experience. This was a little lower on our favorite list, but still a great learning tool.

Kakiblin Organ Apron

This cute apron has felt organs on the front that is used to model the human body. The organs are completely removable by velcro so your little one can practice putting the organs in the correct place. Even my two-year-old loves to attach the organs with his older brother.

Learning Resources Floor Skeleton

Learning Resources has an awesome floor puzzle that helps kids identify bones and learn how they connect together. It is made of fifteen foam pieces that you assemble on the floor that stands nearly four feet. On one side is the image of the bone and on the back, it gives the name of each bone. It’s great for ages three and up.

Disgusting Science Kit

This toy isn’t so much about anatomy, but rather about what our bodies do. This disgusting science kit is full of fun hands-on experiments. Children discover and make fake blood and slimy snot, as well as the stinky intestines and their role in the human body. They also can grow safe bacteria and mold and how it can be used to fight infection. This is for older children around the age of eight and requires adult supervision.

The Journey Match It – All About Me

This word puzzle allows your child to both build their vocabulary and also learn to identify body parts and organs. There are 30 sets of puzzle pieces and this is great for children four and up. Even my four year old loves doing this in his beginning reading stages.

Genetics and DNA Science Kit

This genetics and DNA kit is for older children around eight, but it is a great way to introduce the science around our genetic code and molecular structure. In this kit they’ll construct models of the double helix DNA structure. Also they’ll learn about the pioneering scientists in genetics. Your child will feel like a scientist as they conduct experiments with this fun, educational kit.

Ben Franklin Doctor Lab Biology Kit

This takes playing doctor to a whole other level! This kit by Ben Franklin Toys, very much resembles a doctor’s kit. However, it delves deeper into the role of a physician. Children will conduct 12 experiments and tests. It includes 30 tools such as a stethoscope, bandage, shot, activity cards, anatomy model, brain game, eye chart, and more! When children aren’t conducting tests, they can use it for dramatic play like any other doctor’s kit.

Learning Resources Brain Model

This Learning Resources Brain Model is definitely better suited for older children. In this human anatomy model, children will build the brain using pieces of the cerebellum, frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes. I will say the model is on the smaller side once completed. It’s smaller than four inches, but I do think it gives a very thorough look at the intricacies of the brain.

I hope you and your family enjoy these toys as much as we did.

Homeschooling Methods Explained

So you’ve decided to homeschool but don’t know where to begin. With all the choices available it can be confusing so here are the homeschooling methods explained.

homeschooling methods explained
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash; This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. I only link to things I own or love.

So you’ve decided to homeschool or maybe you are just interested and would like to learn more about it. Homeschooling methods can be confusing at first which is why I will explain in the simplest of terms.

Homeschooling can be a wonderful choice. There are lots of reasons why homeschooling is becoming more popular. You can read all about Why We Homeschool. Everyone’s reasons will vary and there are lots of myths that need to be cleared up. You can read all about that in my post, Debunking Myths About Homeschooling.

Today, I’m going to explain the most common methods of homeschooling. I think understanding the methods is crucial to how you will be selecting the curriculum.

Some of my favorite resources for curriculum are Rainbow Resource, The Homeschool Buyers Co-op and Christian Book. Christian Book is a great resource for both classical and Charlotte Mason methods, which we will discuss below.

Classical Education Explained

Unschooling

Unschooling is a very different method when compared to others. Instead of being teacher-led, unschooling is largely child-led. It is also primarily informal. Specifically, the child advocates for what will be learned as opposed to the parent having full control.

It’s important to note that although homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, unschooling may not be. Some states have specific requirements for the subjects taught, attendance, records, and other things. Unschooling is a complete contrast to public school and may not meet these state-imposed requirements. You can learn more about your state’s requirements on HSLDA’s website.

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the twentieth century. She used a tri-method approach to learning. Her method is similar to Classical homeschooling which also uses three phases of education.

Atmosphere

The first is the Atmosphere. This is the idea that children are to observe and evaluate the world around them but particularly in the home environment. In other words, children are watching our actions, our own behaviors, rules, and even the mood we set in the home environment. In our family, we try to model constant learning and look for opportunities to explain and teach. We encourage questions and try to maintain a peaceful, gentle atmosphere.

Discipline

This is primarily the traits of good character. Modeling, instilling and cultivating good habits and enforcing a code of conduct, largely play into this area of teaching.

Life

This last area pertains to academics. Charlotte Mason believed that children learn best in a living environment and not with the dry rigors of textbooks. Therefore, children learn out of what is referred to as “living books.” Most living books are a narrative or in a story form that makes the subject come alive in real-world examples. Children are then to explain and narrate the lesson to ensure comprehension. In other words, if children can explain it to someone else, they have learned it themselves. This is the only form of testing progress in the Charlotte Mason method. In fact, Charlotte Mason could be described as a very gentle method of learning.

In addition, children learn handwriting, spelling, and sentence structure by transcribing passages from classic literature. Children are also encouraged to spend a great deal of time outdoors absorbing nature, biology, and the work of God’s hand. Charlotte Mason is also primarily Christian-based learning. Lastly, children learn about classical composers, fine art, all the while learning deeply about their great works. Children may be educated in foreign languages like Greek, Latin, Spanish and French. As well as rooted in Math with an emphasis on Algebra.

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Classical

Classical education is based on the ancient model of learning. When you consider some of the greatest minds of the past, you’ll discover they were classically educated. Below, I’ll explain the three stages of classical education, known as the trivium.

If you would like to learn more about Classical Education, I encourage you to read the book, Teaching the Trivium and The Well Trained Mind. I’ve included Amazon links where you can purchase it. You can read more about these books in my post Four Books You Need to Read Before Homeschooling.

The Grammar Stage: Kindergarten Through Fourth Grade

There is a rigorous emphasis on spelling, grammar, reading, and writing. As well as cultivating a joy of numbers with both procedural and conceptual math. Also, the beginning framework of foreign languages are taught, typically Latin, Greek or both. In addition, there is a study of fine art, classical composition, and music theory. Children will be introduced to Geography and a comprehensive study into History, which is the telling of all human achievement until now.

In history, The Ancients (5000 BC-AD 400) are taught in grades 1, 5 and 9. Medieval (400-1600) time period is taught in grades 2, 6, and 10. Late Renaissance to the Romantic era (1600-1850) in grades 3, 7, and 11. Lastly, the modern era (1850-present) in grades 4, 8, and 12.

I will give you an example of the effectiveness of classical education. My own four-year-old already has fundamental knowledge about Queen Nefertiti, Ramses II, and The Great Sphinx. He is learning about Ancient Civilizations and Native Americans. He can describe the anatomy of the human ear and identify the different systems of the body (circulatory, skeletal, muscular, etc) and their purpose. Also, he can name the different celestial bodies and even knows musical terms like accelerando, fortissimo, crescendo, and pianissimo.

The Logic Stage: Fifth Grade Through Eighth Grade

The Logic stage, in short, is reasoning or critical thinking. In this stage, children will begin to examine and analyze the arguments of others and themselves. Students will analyze facts and arguments to deduce why something is true or false.

The Rhetoric Stage: Ninth Grade Through Twelfth Grade

Classical rhetoric is a combination of expressive persuasion and argument (debate). The rhetoric stage is built upon the greatest ancient philosophers and writers such as Cicero, Aristotle, Quintilian, Socrates, and Plato. Simply put, it is expressing the knowledge obtained during the grammar and logic stages and composing effective writing and speaking through academic papers and speech. In other words, students learn to articulate their own answers to important questions.

Traditional

Traditional homeschooling resembles a similar structure to public schooling. You use a textbook curriculum. Children may use workbooks. You may even mimic a similar environment, with individual desks and a chalkboard. Normally, schedules are rigid with classes at specific times. Also, you may have tests and evaluations to determine your child’s progress. Traditional homeschoolers may even compare their progress or align themselves with public schools.

For traditional homeschooling, I greatly encourage you to read Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. This amazing book goes through the abundance of curriculum choices and gives unbiased reviews. Lastly, it helps you determine which curriculum is best suited to your child’s learning style.

Eclectic

Eclectic is basically just any combination of the aforementioned methods. Technically, I was an eclectic homeschooler because I was a mix of both classical and traditional homeschooling, although classical education was emphasized.

Some parents find their children do better with the strengths of the different methods. There is no one right way to homeschool. Each method has its benefits. As a homeschooler, you have immense flexibility and you are not in any way pigeonholed to one method. Yes, you can take what you like from the various methods and make it your own.

Additionally, some parents start off as eclectic homeschoolers, choosing to try out multiple methods before deciding on their way to educate. That’s perfectly okay too! It is also important to note that any of these methods can be religious or secular in nature.

Pin for Later

Hopefully, I have thoroughly explained the different methods of homeschooling. I am immensely grateful for my classical education. I encourage you to read the resources I’ve mentioned. Don’t forget to PIN this post so you may refer to it later.

The Best Toys to Get Out Toddler Energy

I feel how tired you are, mama. That’s why I’m sharing the best toys to get out toddler energy so they can get out wiggles and you can get rest.

the best toys to get out toddler energy

This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. Your support helps to offset the costs incurred with this blog. I only link to things I love or own.

Toddlers seem to have never-ending energy. If you’re a mama like me with multiple toddlers it can feel like a zoo in your own home! Let’s be real though – there is no such thing as truly taming toddler energy. It’s more about finding safe ways to get it out! As a mother of boys, let me tell you, these are some of the best finds that keep my very active boys busy!

I have always found that some of the best toys at this age are the ones that encourage them to run, jump, crawl and otherwise stay active. It’s not always easy to keep the attention of toddlers which is why I love keeping them busy with things that keep them active and interested.

The Best Toys to Get Out Toddler Energy

Click on any of the pictures to purchase from Amazon

JumJoe Kids Trampoline

Both my kids absolutely adore this. Don’t be surprised if your little ones fight over it. We love this one because it has a bar that little kids can hold on to which reduces the risk of falling. Even a 20-month old will love this. Its such a great way to get out their wiggles during the day.

Little Tikes First Slide

An aunt gave us this as a gift when my oldest was about a year old and let me tell you, it has become a favorite in our house. We personally keep this indoors in our playroom, but you could use it outside. We love keeping inside for rainy days or summer days when we want to stay cool indoors and still get out bursting energy. My oldest is almost five and it is still a favorite of his. Definitely worth the $30!

Little Tikes Easy Score Basketball

We really grew to love this indoor/outdoor basketball hoop. What is great about this toy isn’t just that it gets the wiggles out, it also helps them work on eye and hand coordination. This has also become a favorite when we have playdates. It comes with 5 balls so multiple kids can play at one time. Also, it comes in pink for your girls. You can find it on Amazon for $29.99

Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table

I love water tables. They are wonderful for hot summer days. But best of all, they keep little hands busy. I swear this keeps my little guys busy for so long! I grab my coffee, sit on the porch and let them splash and play. It gets them outdoors and it’s also a safe, fun, sensory experience. There are lots of great water tables out there, but we like this one.

Big Wheels

Who had a big wheel growing up, raise your hand! I loved ours when I was a kid. We had a smurf one. That should tell you what era I’m from! Today, my kids love this one. It’s been a lot of fun to watch them ride this around the neighborhood. Big wheels are fun because there is no risk of falling they are low to the ground. There are lots of big wheels that are centered around a cartoon-like Minions and Disney princesses, but I’m including this classic Radio Flyer one.

Little Tikes T-Ball Set

We love this t-ball set and play with it outside in the backyard. This is great for eye-hand coordination. It also makes your little one run to fetch the ball when they hit it. Thank goodness for toys like this one that wears their little legs out before naptime.

ToyVelt Kids Golf Club Set

This toy is a lot of fun, especially if daddy golfs as well. You can do this indoor or outdoor, but I’ll tell you being on grass makes it harder for them to hit and control the ball. We prefer to do it on the carpet inside. It retails for about $25 on Amazon.

5pc Kids Ball Pit Tents and Tunnels

This is one of our favorite toys! Honestly, we love doing this as an indoor activity. This is a great way to get out toddler energy on rainy days. We set this up and let them play away. It’s funny how much they squeal crawl – and all that crawling tires them out! One thing that is really nice about this is that crawling babies, toddlers and preschoolers can use it. I love toys that grow with my kids for a few years and this is one of them. Just remember you’ll need to buy the balls separately.

Little Tikes Easy Score Soccer Set

This is fun for both girls and boys alike. If you are considering putting your little one in soccer, this can be a great tool to gauge their interest. I definitely recommend using this outside. Let your little one run to their heart’s content and work on eye-foot coordination at the same time. Available on Amazon for about $32.

Little Lab Creations 67″ 4-in-1 Inflatable Splash Pad

Once the weather is warm enough we love going outside to run around, but here in Texas, weathers can be wildly hot. So we love to bring out the splash pad to stay cool in the warmer months. It’s so fun to watch the kids run and jump in the water. Dare I say that nap time almost always follows this fun activity!

Eezy Peezy Monkey Bars

Once you have a toddler you realize they love to climb! So how about giving them a place to channel it instead of on coffee tables and furniture. The nice thing about this is that it grows with them for a while. It’s safe for almost eight years of age.

Nova Kids Seesaw

I loved teeter-totters as a child. I would have loved to have one at home. This might be better suited for older toddlers closer to the preschool age, but I still included it because I know three-year-olds who love it. Also, seesaws work best when you have kids around the same weight. Under $50 on Amazon.

As a mama of a toddler and preschooler, I know how tired you are, mama. Keeping kids entertained is a full-time job and they move from one toy to the next. I know that you are constantly battling the clutter of toys which is why I like toys that keep them active. It seems to keep their interest a little more, especially if you applaud for their performance. It keeps them physically healthy and makes sure they are good and tired before bedtime. Don’t forget to PIN this post for later, especially when people ask about birthday gifts for your kiddo.

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50 Ways to Use the Year At A Glance Page In Your Planner

Got a new 2020 Happy Planner? Looking for a way to use the year at a glance page in your planner? Here are 50 Ways to use the year at a glance page in your planner.

50 ways to use the year at a glance pages in your happy planner

I got very excited when my new 2020 Happy Planners have a gorgeous new year at a glance view. I love them, but I scratched my head for a few weeks to figure out what I would use it for. Perhaps if I was struggling, other people might be as well. So I came up with 50 ways to use the year at a glance page in your planner.

There is a variety of ways you can use it. In my social media planner, I’ll be using it for my YouTube schedule. I had been so bad about scheduling days to shoot, edit, and upload videos over last year, so I decided that this would help me make sure I do it regularly. You could also do this for Instagram since the algorithm considers how often you post (you want to post daily for the best views).

You could use this in a variety of ways, but I think using it as a habit tracker really lends itself to a lot of different uses. You could use it to record running times, your weight, water intake, your number of reps and a number of other fitness activities.

50 Ways to Use the Year At a Glance Page

  1. Biblical verse for the day
  2. Positive word of the day
  3. Steps / Miles
  4. Calories in/Calories Out
  5. Exercise schedule (e.g. arms, abs, yoga, walk, weights, etc)
  6. Birthdays and Anniversaries
  7. Water intake
  8. Dinner menu / Meal Planning
  9. Wellness activity
  10. Sleep hours
  11. Reading schedule / Books already read
  12. Work hours
  13. Body Weight / BMI
  14. Practice / Game schedule
  15. Handwriting practice: word of the day
  16. Savings account balance
  17. Checking account balance
  18. Skincare routine
  19. Digital detox activity
  20. Daily chore
  21. Social media post of the day
  22. Cleaning activity
  23. Daily decluttering
  24. Bill schedule
  25. Daily goal / Daily focus
  26. Mood tracker
  27. Money saved
  28. Daily spending
  29. Sales tracking
  30. Social media followers / Subscribers
  31. Youtube schedule
  32. Weekly spread theme
  33. Running times
  34. Current events
  35. Online order tracker (ordered and delivery dates)
  36. Weight reps
  37. Grocery spending
  38. Period tracker/ovulation tracker / sexual activity
  39. A memory of the day
  40. Weather
  41. Daily outfit
  42. Daily Gratitude
  43. Mileage
  44. Blood sugar tracker
  45. Volunteer dates
  46. Kids’ schedule
  47. Vitamin, supplement, medicine tracker
  48. Holidays (Observed and fun)
  49. Binge / TV schedule
  50. New Word a Day (Learn a new word every day)

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9 Habits of a Productive Stay-At-Home Mom

I’ve asked some of the most productive ladies I know how they run their household smoothly. Here are 9 habits of a productive stay-at-home-mom.

9 habits of a productive stay-at-home mom

Momming ain’t easy which is why we need every trick in the book. Today, I’m sharing 9 habits of a productive stay-at-home mom to help you get more done with the time you have.

Wake Up Early

I value my sleep. I do. In fact, I actually have to take a sedative at night that leaves me groggy in the morning. But I’ve discovered something since being a stay-at-home mom. Getting up before the kids makes a big difference in my attitude for the day.

If I’m woken up by them, it often leads me to be being in a rotten mood. I’m still trying to wake up and struggling to make that first cup of coffee when toddler requests are being made in rapid succession. No one wants to wake up to a needy toddler or to the sound of a crying baby. Think of it as being gentle with yourself.

I always found that if I was able to have some peace and quiet first thing in the morning, my whole day is better. Wouldn’t it be nice to drink your coffee while it is hot? Whether you spend that time in prayer or a morning shower, having those few minutes to yourself while you wake up helps you ease into your day. If you feel like you’re always waking up on the wrong side of the bed, you might want to try simply getting up before your babies.

Write It Down

When you are a stay-at-home mom it is very easy for the weekdays to blend together. Organized mamas will tell you the importance of writing things down. When I first became a stay-at-home mom I thought I wouldn’t be that busy and would be able to keep everything organized in my head. But just a few months into this full-time job I realized I couldn’t keep things straight. I constantly double-booked myself, couldn’t remember things I needed from the store and forgot about appointments altogether. Trying to manage the schedules of an entire family can lead to a lot of stress, especially if you are disappointing others by your disorganization.

For me, I use a Happy Planner. You can read all about how this decorative planner helped me in the post, “How Happy Planner Changed My Life.” Maybe you don’t care for a planner. Some moms opt for a command center. While others are list makers. Even a wall calendar can help manage tasks, but write down the things you need to remember. I promise it will save you lots of headaches in the long run. And fewer headaches means less stress for you! You are also more likely to complete your goals when you write them down.

They Create Routines

You may have found that keeping up with housework is a lot more challenging than you thought. Kids and their needs often put a halt on the things that need to get done. But you can make things run more smoothly by creating routines that both you and your kids know. For example, one of the first things I do in the morning is to start a load of laundry in the washer. Doing at least one load a day ensures that I won’t get overwhelmed by the laundry. I also, do certain types of laundry for each day of the week. For example, Saturday is bed linen day. All the beds get stripped, washed and changed. Doing that ensures that the bed linen will never go more than seven days without being cleaned.

You can implore this method for each of your chores. For instance, I wash dishes every evening before bed so I don’t wake up to a dirty kitchen. I take out the trash every morning while my coffee is brewing and clean the microwave every Friday. My cleaning is on a regular schedule and it isn’t just good for me. It also helps the kids know what to expect at any given time. You can save time and brainpower by relying on routines.

9 habits of a productive stay-at-home mom

They Teach Their Kids to Help

Good bosses delegate tasks and that is exactly what you are. As a stay-at-home mom, the responsibility of running a household falls squarely on your shoulders. That’s why it is so important to ask for help. Younger children love to help and this is the best time to start training them to pick up after themselves. Even my four-year-old scrubs the toilet and puts his clothes in the drawers when I’ve folded them. He knows to throw his food in the trash and put his clothes in the hamper. I even get my twenty-month-old to helps switch clothes out of the washer and dryer. You’d be surprised what your kids will do if you create the habit of making them help. You can make it fun, by using a reward chart or chore chart so they feel accomplished.

Some days, I get creative and make chores into a game or competition. Like I try to see who can pick up all the clothes the fastest. The first child who wins gets a cookie with lunch (yeah, I’m not above bribery). I can tell you, picking up after a whole family isn’t fun. Delegate.

They Prepare

Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to be late to events. I’m rarely, if ever, late to an event even with two kids to get ready. My secret? I prepare the day before. As part of my evening routine, I prepare the diaper bag for the next day. Check the weather. I get clothes ready for the next day, particularly if we have an important event. I’ll gather the things I’m going to need and put them by the door. In the case of large events, I may even pack the car in advance. I make it as easy and as stress-free as possible. There is nothing more anxiety-inducing than rushing to leave the house or forgetting the thing you were supposed to bring. Do yourself a favor, prepare.

They Take Care of Themselves

Moms get crumbs. It’s okay to put your kids before yourself. Sometimes it’s necessary and it’s part of being a good parent. However, we also shouldn’t forget about ourselves. Productive moms know that you must take care of yourself so you can take care of others. If you are burning the candle at both ends, over time there will be nothing left to burn. Little will get done if you are dragging all day.

At some point, you need to remember to take some time out for yourself, even if it is just for a few minutes a day. Whether it is taking a hot, long soak in the tub or getting some alone time, make sure you find some way to recharge. If you are really struggling to make a habit of taking care of yourself, I highly recommend my 30 Day Wellness Challenge. Remember, even moms need a work-life balance.

Stay Off Devices

Phones, tablets, computers, and TVs are time burglars. It is so easy to get caught up in a Facebook newsfeed or a sucked into one of your favorite shows. Before you know it, time is lost. Valuable time. Time that could be spent with your babies. Time that could be spent getting chores done. We almost always spend more time on our devices than we originally intended.

Take it from me, friend. A digital detox is amazing for what it can do for your mental health and productivity. Put the phone down. Put the devices down and be present. Be mindful. Your kids notice if you are always on a device and not with them. Take a look at my two posts Living Without Likes: How I Broke Up With Facebook and 30 Day Social Media Detox. Every now and then I take a break from social media and it’s always refreshing and time-saving.

Schedule Tasks for The Right Time of Day

This may sound too simple, but I think its an underestimated point. It is mentally and physically exhausting to do things that require concentration while both my kids are full of energy in the morning. Over the years, I’ve become better about carefully scheduling when to do certain tasks.

For example, my youngest son loves to unfold the laundry I just folded. So, I don’t do it while he is awake. I do it during his naptime. Also, during naptime, I do things that require my full attention like balancing the checkbook, paying bills or making phone calls. During the summer, I do my outdoor chores, while the kids can play in the cool hours of the day. It’s a win for both of us. I do my errands in the morning while the kids’ attitude is still fresh and peppy. Picking the right chore at the right time will take some of the frustration out of your day.

They Automate What They Can

When I think back to my grandmother’s days, I feel like a total wimp. My grandmother was incredibly productive with six children. These days, we have it much easier, which is why we should try to take advantage of the conveniences that are available to us.

I save so much time now that my grocery store offers online ordering and curbside delivery. Even places like Target and Sam’s Club are offering it. I’ve learned to go to the website of stores to see if they show items that are in stock before I make a wasted trip. I set up lots of our bills on recurring automatic payments. I set up monthly prescriptions on automatic refills. I save money and time by using Amazon’s subscribe and save. I automate as much of my life as I possibly can. Take advantage of modern-day conveniences.

There are lots of ways to get things done and parent at the same time. It isn’t always easy which is why you need to be clever about how you go about your day. I’d love to hear from you and the things you do to stay productive.

100 Things to Track in Your Planner

Are you staring at your blank planner and have no idea what to write in it? Don’t let those pages go to waste. I’m sharing 100 things to track in your planner.

100 things to track in your planner
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Welcome friends. I am not shy when it comes to my love for planners. If you have followed this blog for any amount of time, you’ll learn I love The Happy Planner. You can read how keeping a planner completely changed my life in my post, How Happy Planner Changed Life. I’ve managed to get lots of friends and family members to start using a planner to help organize their life. However, I always get one similar question. “What do I write down in my planner?”

Most people write birthdays and anniversaries and the random appointment, but most pages are left blank. In fact, I’ve heard many people say. “I forget to use my planner.” The reason why people forget to use their planner is that they aren’t opening it up every day – and the way to open it up every day is to have something to write every day! The more often you use it, the more it will become second nature to open it up.

So today, I’m sharing 100 things to track in your planner. I track all these kinds of things in my planner. Here are some ideas to get you started. If you’d like to see how I use my planner, follow my planner-related Instagram @ PaperNPlans.

100 Things to Track In Your Planner

Financial

  1. Account balances
  2. No spend challenge
  3. Spending Log
  4. Bills Due
  5. Automatic Charges
  6. Gas / Mileage
  7. Business Expenses
  8. Taxes Due
  9. HOA Fees
  10. Savings Goal
  11. Paydays
  12. Debt amount
  13. Credit Balances
  14. Donations and Contributions
  15. Insurance Info

Household

  1. Decluttering list
  2. Trash Days
  3. Shopping Lists
  4. Meal Planning
  5. Daily /Weekly Chores (dishes, laundry, etc.)
  6. Seasonal chores (changing air filters, oil changes, etc)
  7. Chore list
  8. Kids chores
  9. Kids schedules
  10. Recipes
  11. To-Do Lists
  12. Family events
  13. Pet Grooming Schedule
  14. Pet Walking/Feeding Schedule
  15. Pet Vaccine Schedule
  16. Vision Board
  17. Favorite Moments
  18. Baby/Child Developmental Milestones
  19. Brain Dump
  20. Daycare/Teacher Information
  21. Contact Lists/Addresses
  22. Birthdays
  23. Renovations/ DIY list
  24. Weather Login / Passwords
  25. School Assignments
  26. School Activities / Days off
  27. Gift Ideas
  28. Wish Lists
  29. Anniversaries
  30. Babysitter Info
  31. Online order tracking
  32. Work schedules
  33. Pantry Inventory
  34. Freezer Inventory
  35. Laundry Schedule
  36. Yard Maintenance Schedule
  37. Party Planning

Health, Fitness, Self Care

  1. Sleep tracker
  2. Water intake
  3. Exercise routine
  4. Calorie Intake
  5. Prescription Refills
  6. Step Tracker
  7. Medicine Tracker
  8. Doctor Appointments
  9. Haircut Appointments
  10. Spa / Salon Appointments
  11. Self-care Time
  12. Allergy Tracker
  13. Vitamins and Supplements
  14. Mani / Pedi Appointments
  15. Weight / weight loss
  16. Symptom Tracker
  17. Food Diary
  18. Menstruation/Ovulation
  19. Body Measurements / BMI
  20. Goals
  21. Skincare Routine
  22. Teeth Whitening Schedule
  23. Mood / Emotions

Hobbies

  1. Reading List
  2. Craft Projects
  3. Supply List
  4. Project Instructions
  5. Instrument Practice
  6. Sports Schedule
  7. Bucket List
  8. Fantasy Football Roster
  9. Planner Sessions
  10. Streaming Watch List
  11. Social Media Postings
  12. Gardening schedule/seed starting

Travel

  1. Itinerary
  2. Packing List
  3. Sightseeing info
  4. Hotel Information
  5. Restaurants to Try

Faith

  1. Bible Study
  2. Gratitude
  3. Prayer List
  4. Church Activities
  5. Sermon Notes
  6. Inspirational Quotes
  7. Journal Prompts
  8. Devotionals

Thank you so much for reading. Don’t forget to PIN this post for later or share it with a planner friend. Also, don’t forget to check out some of my other planner posts!

What If You Devoted This Year To Loving Yourself More?

What if you put aside excuses and self-loathing? What if you stopped giving yourself leftovers? What if you devoted this year to loving yourself more?

what if you devoted this year to loving yourself more
Photos courtesy of Unsplash

The Big Question

I have a question for you. As we depart from 2019 and make our way into the new year that lies ahead, I want to ask you something.

What if you devoted this year to loving yourself more?

Mary Lentz

Now let me be clear. I don’t mean that in a self-centered way. I’m not suggesting that we inflate our ego or shirk our responsibilities. I’m talking about our attitude. How we treat ourselves. How we talk to ourselves. Whether or not we accept who we are, flaws and all.

I’m going to be completely vulnerable with you. I am mean to myself. It’s true. I say things to myself, I’d never say to anyone else. Here are just some of the ways I’m unkind to myself.

  • I used to never leave the house without makeup. I have barely worn it in the last three years because I’m fat and don’t think I’m worthy of wearing makeup.
  • I feel unattractive and therefore don’t groom or dress myself the way I once did
  • I feel old and tired
  • I make excuses about losing weight
  • I tell myself I’m failing as a mother
  • I base my self-worth on accomplishments and what others think of me
  • I tell myself no one wants to be my friend and seclude myself at home so I can’t be rejected.
  • I can’t receive a compliment without putting myself down in some way
  • I can’t forgive myself for a mistake I made last year
  • I tell myself that my dreams surrounding this blog are a silly fantasy
  • I hold myself to rigorous, impossible standards (perfectionism)
  • I tell myself I’m not enough (e.g. good enough, talented enough, pretty enough, young enough, etc.)
  • I tell myself the house needs to look perfect so I feel valuable as a stay-at-home mom

Does any of this sound familiar? Maybe you don’t say these exact things, but something tells me you can be harsh with yourself. What unkind things do you say and do to yourself? Take a piece of paper and write them down. I’ll wait.

Now, ask yourself – “What if you devoted this year to loving yourself more?” What might that look like? Let’s talk about it.

Be Compassionate With Yourself

Has a friend ever come to you looking for reassurance after they’ve completely failed? Of course! At some point, a friend of ours said, “I need to talk,” then sobbed to us about how they totally blew it. He or she needed a pep talk and a helping hand to get their butt out of the trenches. I don’t know about you, but I’m all about supporting my friends when they are down and out. And yet, I struggle to do that with myself. Something tells me you can be that way too. We all can! But what if, over this next year, you made a commitment to yourself to be your own best friend? That is, to treat yourself as lovingly as you would your most loved companion.

Negative Self Talk

Let’s start talking to ourselves the way we would a good friend. Encourage yourself, but most of all we need to make a habit of comforting ourselves.

For example, when it comes to body image, accepting your flaws isn’t giving up on improving yourself. Instead, it’s being approving of yourself even if you aren’t exactly where you want to be. You aren’t denying your body has flaws. This isn’t about denial or even justification. It’s about learning to love the journey your on, with all its ups and downs. Big picture. It’s about learning that our body changes, ages, gets sick and goes through trauma. No matter how good you think someone else looks, they too have insecurities and flaws. It’s about remembering that no body is perfect, no matter what the fashion magazines say. Friends, love yourself. Embrace the curves, the mom pouch, the less than toned arms. Love yourself, no matter what shape you are. And if you are choosing to eat right and exercise, do it because you love your body, not because you hate it.

Let me ask you, and think about this deeply. “What would happen if you made changes because you love yourself, not because you hate that about yourself? What would happen if you become your own personal cheerleader?

Quit Perfectionism

Quitting perfectionism isn’t about giving up. Nor is it about not trying to be better. Rather, it’s about realizing you are on an ever-changing journey. One that never really ends until we leave this earth. It’s about knowing we will always be flawed to some degree and that we are still worthy of love even while we are imperfect.

You may not think of yourself as a perfectionist. But I’m willing to bet that in some area of your life, you impose rigorous, nearly impossible standards for yourself. Maybe it’s around your body image, at your job, or surrounding a relationship, but we all have some area in our life where we can’t stand to fail.

What if you readjusted your standards? What gave yourself more time and space to grow? How much happier would you be if you learned not to be so harsh with yourself? What would that look like?

what if you devoted this year to loving yourself more

Failure is the Best Teacher

I’m a failure. I failed at my first marriage. I failed as an actress. I failed at publishing my first magazine. Last year, I failed as a friend. I have failed at a lot of things in my life. Failure hurts. Falling on your face in front of everyone – hurts! But rising up afterward is one of the best feelings in the world. If you fall down, don’t stay down. Failure helps shape us and mold us. It helps to teach us. It forges us and makes us stronger.

Embrace your failure. It has made you who you are today. You are stronger, wiser, more competent because of your failures. Failure isn’t final, but then neither is success. Fear of failure makes dreams impossible. It snuffs hope out. Push past that fear. Learn from mistakes and move on.

Thomas Edison

Don’t Be a Fascimile

You know, when I first started this blog, I had lots of seasoned bloggers tell me that what I was doing was wrong. They told me that as a mom blog, I shouldn’t have Happy Planner posts and a mod podge of recipes, crafts, and homeschooling. They told me to pick one of those topics and stick to it. They also told me I was too serious. I needed to be funnier, sillier, more entertaining. But you know what? My blog is about finding my own voice. Would I make more money if I narrowed my niche and made people laugh more? Probably. But I don’t want to be a facsimile of what everyone else is doing. I love Rachel Hollis, but I don’t want to copy her as tempting as that may be at times. When I started this blog, I vowed to be authentic and genuine. I promise to always be myself. I promise to filter my photos, but never my words.

Friend, if you are trying to be like someone else, stop! Seriously. The world needs who you were made to be. Not a copy of someone else and especially not a substitute for someone else. No, it needs you. Whether you believe you are special or not doesn’t matter. I’m telling you, you are! You have something no one else has and you don’t need the world’s validation to approve of yourself. You are enough. You are qualified. You are made different on purpose, for a purpose. Now go out there and be you!

You Aren’t Too Old or Too Young

We’ve all heard that age is just a number, but is it? Is your age stopping you from enjoying life to the fullest and seeking out your dreams? In case you are unfamiliar there is a famous vlogger named Ryan who is only eight years old. The little tyke now has his own line of toys and novelty items. He (and his parents) have made more than twenty million dollars in the last few years doing nothing more than filming toy reviews on YouTube. Now you and I may wonder if his parents are exploiting him, but my point is that no one cared that the reviews were coming from an eight-year-old. Quite the opposite. People wanted reviews from an actual child that used them – not adults! You may think you are too young or old for something, but I promise you there is a niche for your knowledge, wisdom, or talents. Somewhere, someone needs what only you have!

Maybe you think you are too old or it’s too late to start something. Wrong! There are so many people who succeeded after 40. Samuel L. Jackson didn’t become famous until he was 46 in the movie Pulp Fiction. Henry Ford was an engineer under Thomas Edison, but he didn’t start his Ford Motor Company until his 40s. Ronald Reagan had a career in Hollywood, but he only entered the political arena in 1964 when he was 53. Even the queen of crafts and domestic living, Martha Stewart didn’t become successful until her 40s.

What would happen if you chose not to limit yourself because of your age? What if, you stopped waiting for tomorrow, for more money, for more time, for more experience and instead just started where you are right now? If you start towards your goals right now, will your dreams come true? I don’t know. But if you don’t start, they never will! That is a guarantee.

Make Time for “Me Time”

I remember when I was a teenager and I wanted a summer job at my dad’s laboratory. He said no because “once you start working, you’ll never stop.” To some degree he was right. Once you step up and take some responsibility, it never lets go of you. There are bills to be paid, chores to be done, obligations to meet and all are never-ending. There will never be a time when your job is done. Work will always be calling you. That’s why you need to set boundaries. Believe me, I learned that the hard way. You can only burn the candle at both ends for so long.

If you search this blog, you’ll notice I’m enthusiastic about self-care. That’s because I have learned through my mistakes that recharging mentally, physically, and spiritually is immensely important. Seriously, take time for yourself. Before you become too burnt out to function. There lots of ways to do that. In the past, I created a 30-day digital detox challenge and a 30-day Self-Care / Wellness Challenge.

You’ll need to make it a priority like anything else that is important to you. Just like work, church or a doctor’s appointment. Make an appointment with yourself and keep it. Vow not to give yourself crumbs anymore.

How Will Loving Yourself Change You

I’d love you to join me in devoting the next year to loving yourself more in the ways I’ve described. I’ll be documenting this journey on my Instagram account and I’d love for you to join me and share your journey too.

flowers

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Christmas Movie Quote Gift Tags

I’ve got a Christmas gift for you. Download your FREE printable Christmas Movie Quote Gift Tags

christmas movie quote gift tags

One of my most favorite things to do during the holidays to curl up by the fire or in our media room with some steaming hot cocoa (I make an amazing one, get the recipe here) and a favorite holiday flick. This year, my kids are totally mesmerized by the Polar Express. Of course, I grew up in the Home Alone era, so that one will always be close to my heart as is the tear-jerking It’s A Wonderful Life.

Today, I’m sharing a FREE printable! Yay! I love wrapping gifts at Christmas. I know, I’m totally a weirdo. Don’t care. While many people dread gift wrapping as a chore, I love it! I throw some fun holiday tunes, bring out my huge collection of gift wrap and revel in making pretty packages with big, beautiful bows!

So this year, I created a cute printable with my two favorite holiday things to help you through the holiday season. I’ve made some Christmas movie quote gift tags. Just print them out and put on your Christmas packages. No need to run to the store and buy gift tags. Or you can save them for if you run out and need some in a pinch. No problem. Print, cut, hole punch and attach with your favorite string or ribbon.

Featured Movies

How to Use Your Christmas Movie Quote Gift Tags

Time needed: 10 minutes.

  1. Download your Christmas gift tags

    You will need Adobe Acrobat or other PDF reading software to do it. You can download Adobe Acrobat for free here.

  2. Print Tags

    For best result, print on white photo paper and allow time to dry

  3. Cut, hole punch and tie ribbon

    Or may choose to tape to your gift.

From my family to yours, I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a wonderful 2020. Before you leave, sneak a peek at my other FREE printables here. Thank you and Merry Christmas!

25 Christmas Journal Prompts

Christmas evokes a a wealth of emotions. Today, I’m sharing 25 Christmas Journal Prompts to discover how you feel about the holiday season

25 Christmas journal prompts

Christmas is a special time of year. But for many people, it brings a myriad of emotions – some happy and some not so happy. The holiday blues is a real thing and they can leave us pining for those we’ve lost in death. We may mourn old traditions that are no longer continued. Or we may have a renewed love for the season as we watch Christmas magic overtake our children’s hearts. Sometimes you may feel all the above. Today, I encourage you to go through the list of 25 Christmas journal prompts and discover how you feel about the holiday season.

25 Christmas Journal Prompts

  1. What is your favorite childhood memory about Christmas?
  2. Did you believe in Santa? Was that a good or bad experience?
  3. What does Christmas mean to you?
  4. What does your ideal/perfect Christmas look like?
  5. If money were no object, what would you want for Christmas?
  6. What is the most special Christmas gift someone has given you?
  7. Who do you miss most around Christmas?
  8. Do you make goals for the New Year? What are some of the goals you have right now?
  9. Describe how your family celebrates Christmas.
  10. What Christmas traditions in your family do you love most? How will you ensure those traditions continue?
  11. What things make you feel most connected to others at Christmas?
  12. How will you spread Christmas cheer this year?
  13. What is your favorite holiday movie and why do you love it?
  14. Is there anything that makes you sad around Christmas? Why?
  15. Some people feel blue around the holidays. What can you do to combat those feelings?
  16. What is your favorite memory of your childhood home at Christmas?
  17. Describe something you love to do on cold winter nights?
  18. How do you feel about the commercialism around Christmas?
  19. Write a Christmas story.
  20. For what are you most grateful at Christmastime?
  21. What is most stressful at Christmas? What can you do to make it better?
  22. Describe what you love most about Winter.
  23. How can you be a more giving person during the holidays?
  24. What has changed since the beginning of this year?
  25. How was God faithful to me this year?

Be sure to visit my other posts for more journaling ideas:

How to Make a Happy Planner Squad Girls Ornament

Learn how to make a happy planner squad girls ornament with just a few materials in less than 15 minutes.

how to make a happy planner squad girls ornament
Some links are affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. I only link to things I love or own myself.

Hey planner babes! Welcome to my new tutorial on how to make a Happy Planner Squad Girls ornament. This year, I spent time making lots of different Happy Planner ornaments and this is just one of the cute ideas that I came up with. Be sure to check out my YouTube channel for lots of fun Happy Planner themed Christmas tutorials.

This cute ornament is filled with fake snow and looks like the squad girls are skiing in your ornament. This craft is very easy to make and you can do all kinds of fun scenes. This craft took me less than 15 minutes to make from start to finish. I’ve made a video for you to follow along with and I’ve also provided written instructions below. I really encourage you to watch the video since the instructions were hard to describe in writing. While you are there, please subscribe to my channel and don’t forget to follow my Instagram for daily inspiration.

Materials

  • Snow globe ornament (mine purchased at Hobby Lobby)
  • Fake snow
  • Squad Goals Sticker Book
  • Clear Acetate
  • Scissors
  • Foam Double Sided Tape
  • Super glue (optional)

Time needed: 15 minutes.

Squad Girls Happy Planner Ornament

  1. Open up your snow globe

  2. Cut your acetate

    Cut down your acetate to a manageable sheet about 6 x 8″ and score in the middle

  3. Place stickers

    Pick out the stickers you want to use. Lay your scored acetate down so that half is flat on the table and the other half stands up towards you. Place your stickers about and inch to two inches on the acetate. You may need to reposition the stickers depending on where you want them to be.

  4. Trim down your acetate

    Trim down your acetate by cutting off any excess acetate around your sticker. Then trip your base in a half moon shape. You only need an inch or two. While you’re trimming, trim a little at a time, making sure it fits well in your globe.

  5. Apply Foam Tape

    Apply double sided foam tape to the bottom of your base. Adhere to the bottom of the globe.

  6. Add snow

    Carefully, add your fake snow. Close globe and shake gently until snow is evenly distributed.

  7. Secure

    For added security, super glue your ornament for added protection once you are certain no other adjustments are necessary

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You can find me on Instagram for more ideas planner ideas, layouts, and tips.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to PIN this post for later or share it with another planner girl!