The school-year is a hectic time for parents and kids alike. If you want your home to run as smoothly as possible, implementing some routine organization is key. Below are three types of organization stations that can help you keep sane this year. Click each image to find its source.
Command Station. The idea behind this is to help the kids establish an after-school habit that will keep things orderly (instead of lobbing everything onto the ground). A command station is where the child empties and sorts their school items into designated places and hangs their backpack on the wall. Mom or dad will then know where to look for announcements, artwork, report cards, and pending projects. Best of all, the before-school crisis, “I can’t find my [insert school object here]!” will be much avoided.
Lunch Station. Making lunch for the little ones each morning can be time-consuming. A lunch station is a place (or system) where the components of a balanced lunch meal are already prepared. It’s the “batching” concept applied to kids’ meals. By creating a lunch station, you can simplify and shorten your morning routine, and plan your child’s meals better (while saving money too.)
Routine Station. Sometimes all we need is some visualization to keep us focused. Routine lists are a great way to help kids remember their daily routines and chores, without you having to constantly remind them. Rewarding kids when they complete their tasks is a great way to motivate them. There are many free daily routine printables that can be found online.
Three Tiers of Positivity for the Home
The idea of “home” taps into one of our most primal needs. It is the launch pad from which we begin the day and the sanctuary where we end it. It is our charging station, our basecamp, and our safe haven. For children, it is the beginning of life. Early development—from physical, to emotional, to psychological, begins in the sacred setting called home. A happy home will permeate all other aspects of life; here are some ways to go about forming a positive home environment.
- Physical Environment. If you are familiar with feng shui, you already know that there is a “science” to the way your surroundings affect you. Different spaces create different energies. Arrange and design your home consciously. First, make sure that your home is physically safe, especially for your children (how to child-proof your home here). Secondly, evaluate the effect your home space is having. Ask yourself: How does it make me feel? Is it inviting? Is it uplifting? Can I relax? If you are like most people, there is a possibility that you have too many things. Clutter—extra stuff that takes up space—has been proven to restrict the ability to focus and process information (source). As painful as decluttering may sound, if you want a space that will help you focus and relax, decluttering is an effective way to do that. Other mood-enhancing tactics that will add a positive effect to your home: natural light, colors, art, and plants. Once you’ve achieved a home environment that is physically pleasing, you can more easily address the other aspects of a positive home.
- Routine, Habits and Expectation. The more challenging task of positivity involves not physical space but physical actions. Once you have your space ordered, think about creating a schedule to go on in your home. The key to accomplishing daily goals? Routine. Routine taps into the habitual part of the brain. When you do something new, your brain creates a “groove” or “track.” With each new effort, those grooves deepen, and the task gets easier because your brain has to build less. In the process of deepening these brain grooves, you are creating something called habits. Habits are automatic actions that actually involve a different part of the brain and don’t require intense concentration. (Think about how hard driving was the first time as opposed to now.) They can be used to your great advantage; if applied often enough inside a routine, habits remove will-power struggles. For parents, that means less battles over eating dinner, brushing teeth, and going to bed on time. Doing these unappealing tasks will be more automatic than not for their kids. Another reason why routine works is because it creates expectation. Two kinds: bodily expectation and mental expectation. The human body loves routine. It learns when to expect meals and when to expect sleep. As for mental expectation, setting up a routine schedule breaks down opposition because it creates a sense of fairness and predictability. The child won’t receive a jolt when its 8 pm and bedtime because that is his normal routine and he expects it (and his body will be ready for it). Expectation and routine create smooth order and stability—creating good habits ensure that we do the things to take care of ourselves, which in turn promotes well-being and eliminates contention. (For more on how habits function in the brain, go here.)
- Social Interaction. Now that we’ve addressed physical environment and routine, social environment is the capstone to positivity in the home. Just as the physical environment gives off energies, so does the tone of your social interactions. As a parent, you have the power to set this tone, and you can do this by setting positive communication standards. Teach family members to be aware of other’s feelings, be giving, be honest, let others speak, and communicate their feelings. Seek to create a social environment that is accepting, loving and forgiving. You want members to be respectful of others, and also feel respected. Children in the home should feel valued and able to express themselves. Allowing everyone in the family to contribute to house rules can also be useful. Hold a brainstorming session where you discuss the benefits of having a positive home. Decide together what rules could make those benefits a reality. This kind of communication may be difficult to make happen, but just the act of approaching the family government in a democratic way will help its members feel more appreciated and willing to work together. (Go here for more positive family communication tips.) Solidify positive social interaction by doing family activities together. Happy, family bonding doesn’t happen on its own. It requires committed quality time. You can engender positive social interactions by doing direct, love-building activities, like this Wall of Love for example, or you can simply make happy memories together by doing fun things as a family while practicing positive communication skills.
Lastly, understand that change takes time. As you work towards transforming your home into a happier place, recognize and celebrate even the smallest of improvements. Stay positive!
Before summer is over, get your kids outside. Sidewalk chalk is the perfect way to create some art during the warmer months! Here are some fun and exciting ideas with minimal ingredients.
#1: Chalk Rockets!
Ingredients: Corn starch, water, food coloring, film canisters, Alka-seltzer. Source
#2: Ice Chalk!
Ingredients: Corn starch, water, food coloring, ice cube trays. Source
#3: Color Changing Squirty Chalk!
Ingredients: Squirt bottles, corn starch, baking soda, food coloring, vinegar. Source
#4: Exploding Sidewalk Chalk!
Ingredients: Zip seal sandwich bags, corn starch, vinegar, food coloring, baking soda. Source
#5: Sidewalk Paint Chalk
Ingredients: Corn starch, water, neon food coloring, sponge brushes, extra large muffin tin. Source
Back in April, our Kid to Kid customers helped us raise a total of $51,613 during our charity Fill-a-Bag sale. Funds have gone towards building the first of three schools in Africa. We are so excited to show you the progress that is being made on the first school in Bromba, Mali. The community officially broke ground on July 2.
Bromba is a remote village in Mali. With a population of more than 14 million and ranked the 12th poorest country in the world, Mali also has one of the lowest literacy rates at 38 percent—with females at only 17 percent. Below are pictures of the actual school in Bromba.
Currently 113 students, 50 of whom are girls, attend school in three temporary classrooms and are taught only up to the fourth grade. With the new school, it is anticipated that higher grades will be offered.
Our partner, buildOn, required that every adult in Bromba sign an agreement to help build this school and maintain it. The agreement stated they had to provide the land, local material and labor as well as send an equal number of girls and boys to school. We love that this school is a community project—not just a gift. Many of the women who signed the covenant did so with a thumbprint because they don’t know how to write their names. We’re thrilled to bring literacy to this village through the building of this new school.
We’ll post more photos as we get them! If you didn’t make it to our first charity Fill-a-Bag sale, be sure to come support this great cause in November. You’ll get a large Kid to Kid bag to fill with specially marked product for just a $15 donation to buildOn and to our second and third schools in Senegal and Burkina Faso.
To read the entire Groundbreak Report, click here.
Camping is is always an adventure, but did you know there are ways to make your next camping trip even more fun?
Take advantage of being outdoors with this list of creative activities.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
There are so many sights and sounds to see in the great outdoors. Inspire your little ones by giving them a list of things to find while out in nature. This is a fun game that will help them notice (and appreciate) their natural surroundings. Find an example scavenger hunt here.
Try Out New Campfire Recipes
Cooking over an open fire can be challenging, but also fun. There are oodles of delicious and creative campfire recipes out there—why not use your next camp-out to try something new? From s’more banana boats to campfire popcorn, you’re bound to find a new recipe you’ll go camping just to make.
Story Telling Games
Sitting around a campfire is one of the best times to tell stories! Come prepared with tall tales, ghost stories, or play an improv story-telling game. One such game is as simple as this: sitting in a circle around the fire, one person (the conductor) begins a story, after giving a little background for the story, they then point to someone else in the circle who will add to the story with their imagination. That person will then choose another person to add to the story and so on. The story ends after everyone has had a chance to add to the story a few times and the conductor adds a final conclusion. Find more improv story games here.
While you tell those campfire stories, add some flare with a fire color changer. This tutorial shows you exactly how to make your own, or you can always purchase some flame crystals to do the trick (found on Amazon.)
Outdoor Treasure Hunt
You can do this one of two ways: create an old-style treasure hunt with a hand-made treasure map (created on location), or try a modern-day treasure hunt with GPS geocaching. This could be an educational experience for the kids, as you teach them about coordinates. While a treasure hunt is fun for any occasion, it is an especially fun way to deliver birthday presents if you just so happen to be birthday-camping.
Your kids will look so cute this year on the first day of school! Post a picture of them on Instagram with the hashtag #kidtokidfirstday, and follow the account @kidtokid and you’ll be entered to win a $100 gift card! Contest ends September 15th. Your profile must be public to be entered so we can see your submission. One winner will be randomly selected.
Enter by September 15th, 2014
Upload a photo of your kid on their first day of school on Instagram.
Use #kidtokidfirstday and follow @kidtokid to be entered.
Make sure your profile is public.
RULES and TERMS:
- This Promotion is in no way sponsored or administered by Instagram. You are providing your information to Kid to Kid and not to Instagram.
- Photo must be an original photo.
- Participants must be located in the United States and at least 18 years of age (or legal majority in your state) to participate and submit a photo in this promotion.
- Prizes left unclaimed for 30 days will be returned to company. Prizes can be given as a gift.
- Kid to Kid will determine giveaway recipients in its sole and absolute discretion and reserves the right to modify and change promotion without notice.
- As a participant in the promotion you will be required to privately (through direct message, email, or other secure, private means) provide your name, address, age and other personal information necessary to receive the prize, if you are selected as a prize recipient.
- Each winner of a prize in a Promotion is solely responsible for any and all applicable federal, state and local taxes (including income and withholding taxes on any prize), regardless of whether the prize, in whole or in part, is used.
- By participating in the Promotion, you agree to (i) be bound by the Official Instagram Giveaway Rules, including all entry requirements provided at the time the Promotion is announced and/or promoted, and (ii) waive any and all claims against Kid to Kid and its respective parents, subsidiaries and affiliates for any injury, damage or loss of any kind that may occur, directly or indirectly, from participation in the Promotion.
- Each winning Participant, by acceptance of prize, grants to Kid to Kid and each of its respective designees the right to publicize his/her name, address (city and state of residence), photograph provided in connection with the Promotion, voice, statements and/or other likeness and prize information for advertising, promotional and/or trade and/or any other purpose (“Winner Information”) in any media or format now known or hereafter devised, throughout the world, in perpetuity, without limitation and without further compensation, consideration, permission or notification, unless prohibited by law. The releases hereunder are intended to apply to all claims not known or suspected to exist with the intent of waiving the effect of laws requiring the intent to release future unknown claims.
- Participants may not take actions that are negligent, injurious or reckless in pursuit of any prize offered in connection with a Promotion. Participants who do not follow this rule or who otherwise participate in a Promotion in an unsportsmanlike manner will be disqualified from the Promotion. Participants are solely responsible for any injuries or other damages that are caused from their behavior. Participants agree to indemnify, release, discharge and hold harmless the Released Parties (defined below) from and against any and all claims, liability, losses, damages or injuries of any kind with respect thereto.
Now’s the time to whip out those ultimately refreshing icy treats! Let’s keep things sweet and simple with some minimal-ingredient recipes.
#1: Jell-O Shaved Ice
Ingredients: water, soda, box of Jell-O. Source
#2: Sour Worm Pops
Ingredients: guava strawberry juice, Trolli Sour Worms. Source
#7: Cotton Candy Ice Cream!
Ingredients: Cool Whip, vanilla pudding, milk, cotton candy flavoring, blue food coloring (optional). Source
#3: Coconut Avocado Pops
Ingredients: avocados, almond-coconut milk, raw sugar, shredded coconut. Source
#4: Cookies n’ Creamsicles
Ingredients: coconut milk, Oreos, vanilla extract. Source
#6: Healthy Peachy Frozen Yogurt
Ingredients: peaches, honey, plain yogurt, lemon juice. Source
#8: Frozen! Popsicles
Ingredients: purple and blue sports drinks, water. Source
How to Declutter and Re-organize your Child’s Room, KonMari style
Declutter: To remove unnecessary items from (an untidy or overcrowded place).
Decluttering is the first and major step to keeping a tidy home. If there are less items for crowding, there are less possibilities for mess. While this process can be a challenge for any room, we all know that a child’s room is especially intimidating. Here are some tips, many taken from Marie Kondo’s KonMari method, that will help you go about tackling those hordes of forgotten toys and outgrown clothes.
Take everything out. Everything. Take all the toys and clothes and miscellaneous items and place them all into one pile in the middle of the room. As crazy as it sounds, this will enable you to see how much you have. Most likely it will be far more than you ever imagined, and that much more incentivizing.
Organize into categories. Move the items into piles, organizing the items by category: toys, books, clothes, etc. This will help you see how much you have of each kind of thing, and recognize any duplicates immediately.
Ask: “Does this spark joy?” This is the heart of the process. Begin with the clothing pile, then the books, art pieces, miscellaneous items, and finally things with sentimental value. Look at the item and ask whether it’s being used and whether it is loved. In other words, by its usefulness or its sentimental value, does it spark joy? If your little one is older than age 3, involve them in this process. Teach them that you are making their space more enjoyable by helping them focus on the things they love the most. If an object does not “spark joy,” put it into one of two piles: “sell” pile for items that are outgrown or only gently used, or a “discard” pile for unusable, broken or damaged things.
Re-organize, with the child’s perspective. When re-settling your child’s things in their room, get down to their eye-level and think about how the room functions from their point-of-view. Make sure things function from the ground-up, that it’s easier to put things away than to get them out, and that containers are accessible. Bins, baskets, and drawers are preferred over bookshelves, tall dressers, and hanging rods with difficult hangers.
Make a place for everything. As part of the KonMari method, things need to be respected when not in use. Teach your kids to put their toys and clothes in their specific “home” when tidying their room. Labeling with pictures or words can come in handy here, and even work as a learning tool.
Sell to Kid to Kid: Teach your child that their old toys and clothes will be going to another child and will have the opportunity to be appreciated and loved in a new home. After cleaning and/or laundering the items in your “sell” pile, take them to your nearest Kid to Kid location. There you can sell the items for cash on the spot or get 20% more for in-store credit. Anything Kid to Kid doesn’t accept can be donated for you, which will save you an extra trip. As a possible incentive to get rid of old toys, you could let your child accept the cash for their old toys personally and pick out a new one at the store.
For more reasons why simplifying your child’s belongings will help them, go here.
It’s the summer and kids just can’t get enough splash-time fun. Swimming parks, Slip n’ Slides, water balloons—and now—the water blob. Intrinsically fun by nature, this waterbed-like contraption is a great way to stay cool, and make some fond, silly, and splashy memories.
#1: The Individual Blob
This is a fantastic tutorial that shows you how to make individualized blobs. Who says that blobs were meant to share? We love the sea-animals-floating-inside touch.
#2: The Big Blob
For those of you who are more the sharing type—or the wrestling type—the big blob is your blob of choice. This tutorial calls for a giant roll of plastic sheeting and duct tape. Read more here.
#3: The Glow Blob
Woah! Tubular! Because we love all things glow-y. All it takes is a little glow-pill powder (ordered online) to make this radical blob. It will go perfectly next to your early 2000’s lava lamp. Just make sure it’s double (or triple!) sealed. Click here.
#4: The Baby Blob
So maybe you’re really excited to make a blob, but your child isn’t quite ready to take the challenge. This mini baby blob is a perfect starter to get them ready for blobs in the years to come. Also, it’s a great sensory toy! Go here.
It’s summertime! The kids are out of school and they have way too much time on their hands. One way to keep them busy is to feed their entrepreneurial spirits—and nothing sparks creativity like an inspiring business stand! Whether your kids want to sell lemonade, hot dogs, temporary tattoos, or psychiatric advice, they will need a solid place of business to get their operations running. Here are some DIY stand ideas we’ve found to get your creative stand-making juices flowing, after all, building the stand should be half the fun, right?
Idea # 1: Classic Re-Salvaged Wood Stand
We like the durability of this stand. It will take more than a few fiscal years before it will need to be replaced. This blogger claims to have built this highly sturdy enterprise facility for just $3. Check out the details here.
Idea # 2: PVC Pipe Canopy Stand
This stand is for those of you in sunny country. A baking sun may seriously devalue your goods (as well as diminish aloe vera supplies). Stay cool in the shade with this portable canopy model that can be used with any table. Go here.
Idea #3: Wooden Crate Stand
While you may find many variations of this building approach across the internet, we especially love this beautifully designed stand featured here. The method is simple: use wood-slatted crates to build your stand!
Idea #4: Creative Cardboard Stand
This is for the artsy-fartsy, low-budget entrepreneur. The supplies include mostly cardboard and paint. Perhaps not the longest lasting stand, but it comes with shade and allows for an artistic touch. Click here.
Idea #5: “Flip-it” Furniture Stand
Do you love rescuing old, abandoned things and making them useful again? Then the “Flip-It” Furniture Stand is just for you! Find a tasteless old cabinet or bed stand for cheap (or free!), nail a sign post to it, and paint it a trendy new color. Voila! Consider your furniture flipped. Follow the tutorial here.