family

Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for our Kids

Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for Our Kids

It took our family 6 years and 3 children to figure out that throwing huge birthday parties for kids was not working for us. We struggled to make the events special each time and the more we tried, the more stressful it became. We finally switched the way we think when it comes to celebrating our kids and here’s why.

Why We Stopped THrowing Huge Birthday Parties for our Kids

We Have Too Many Kids

Seriously though,  we’re going to have 4 kids! All 4 of them have different birthday months.  July,  March,  January,  and (probably) September.  That’s just our immediate family’s kids! Add in cousin’s birthdays (4 Decembers,  1 November, another July, February, and June) and holidays, too.

Finn, our third kiddo, has an early January birthday, right after Christmas, and right after 4 of our niece’s and nephew’s December birthdays. While planning his first birthday party, it hit me that everyone needed a break in their schedules! We were running out of actual time to schedule without conflicting with another event! It was beginning to feel like we were always planning the next big party. Something had to give.

It’s Expensive

Booking a venue became too expensive.  In our area, it’s hard to find a place big enough for just our local family for under $100! Most places I could find with built in entertainment (bowling, sports parties, play places, etc.) got closer to $300, and that didn’t even include food for the guests.

Multiply that by 4. No, don’t.  It’ll make your budget cry.

Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for our Kids

Trying to save money, we tried hosting in our home,  but with friends and family,  we simply ran out of space.  We live in Ohio,  which means the backyard (or parks) can only be used if it’s not 90 degrees,  raining, or snowing.  That almost never happens here, haha! At least not often enough to rely on. So everyone tries to cram inside, and it gets pretty packed!

Our Friends and Family Have Grown

When we first started out,  our family hadn’t grown to the size it is now.  Our oldest was the first grandchild on my side and the second on my husband’s.  Back then we could get the families together often and it was no big deal, easy even! We now have 7 nieces and nephews in addition to our (soon to be) 4 kids. Our family has grown and we are blessed to have such a large family in close proximity.

Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for our Kids

We are also blessed to have so many close friends, our friends have lots of kids, too. You get the picture. We have run out of room, unless we want to book an expensive facility. When we were still throwing large parties, we felt awful to not include a family on the invite list when other families were invited. Picking and choosing from our friends caused stress and anxiety.

Reduce Stress and THINGS

When we finally decided to quit throwing huge birthday parties for our kids, the stress of it all cut back dramatically. It was like a breath of fresh air. Having to juggle all of the invite lists and the cost of feeding and hosting everyone was weighing on us, not letting us really enjoy our kid’s celebrations. We could take a step back and relax, and I really think the kids felt that.

Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for our Kids

One thing I really didn’t think about until it happened was the reduction of things. I try to keep our home from being overrun with toys. We often give toys away that don’t get played with and we rotate as much as we can. When we had large birthday parties, our kids would receive way too many toys, too much stuff. Some things would barely get played with before the kids moved on to other things and we’d end up giving it away barely used. I felt terrible that our friends and family had spent the time and money to purchase these gifts, only to barely be touched.

In an attempt to reduce all of the toys, we tried to say “no gifts please” on the invite, but people tend to not listen. We love that our friends and family are so giving, but we didn’t like watching our kids discard thoughtful items just because there were so many of them.

Should You Throw Huge Birthday Parties for Your Kids?

Don’t get me wrong. Our way of thinking isn’t for everyone. There are some really great reasons that people love to throw huge parties, it’s literally ALL OVER Pinterest!

  • If you love hosting parties, go for it! If the thought of hosting and feeding a big group of people gets you excited, there is no reason to fight that. Enjoy it, celebrate big!
  • If your budget allows it. Maybe you don’t have a big family? Maybe you do but your budget still allows you to throw a big shindig for them all. GO for it!
  • Maybe you don’t have family close by? By all means, invite every friend you can to celebrate your kiddos. Even though we don’t throw big parties anymore, that doesn’t mean we don’t love celebrating our friend’s kids! Every family is different in what works for them. Do what works for your family.

Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for our Kids

How We Celebrate Now

After we re-evaluated our parties, we didn’t cut out celebrating all together. We dramatically reduced the budget and size using these 2 guidelines.

1. Only Family. We still have a get together for each child. We invite family only. We pick a day and time and stress to the family that if they can’t make it, no big deal. My husband’s brother lives a few hours away, and we understand they can’t make it to every event. Letting our family know it’s a low key event relieves the stress on our end, and we hope it relieves the pressure of attending every event on their end, too.

Grandma still makes cupcakes. The birthday boy or girl gets to open a few presents. Cousins play and the family gets together to eat. It’s still special and fun, but on a much smaller scale.

Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for our Kids

2. Special Kid’s Pick. We sat the big kids down and explained to them that we would no longer be doing huge birthday parties, but that we would celebrate in other ways.

We let them pick an activity to do with our immediate family, or with a friend or two.

So far, our daughter picked a spend the night with one friend and our son picked glow in the dark putt-putt with our immediate family. They both felt celebrated and excited that they had a say in how they got to celebrate. Eli, our oldest, always requests balloons hanging from his door in the morning of his birthday, it’s a little thing that helps him feel special and we’re happy to oblige those requests!

I’d love to hear from you, how does your family celebrate birthdays?

Friday 5

(Affiliate links are included for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you, thanks for your support!)

Friday 5 | Make the Most of it Blog

Friday 5: Things We’re Thankful for this Week.

Each Friday, I want to take the time to really reflect on what we are thankful for as a family, called the Friday 5.

I hope to list 5 things that I am thankful for every week. It might be products that we loved and that really helped our family in some way, or it might be personal or family accomplishments that I just want to shout out and thank God for His help! Hopefully encouraging you along the way with helpful tips, products, and inspiration.

FIRST: My Kids

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder for a reason. I have to admit, I was feeling run down, tired, overworked and snippy with 3 kids and one on the way. Summer is no joke and our family dynamic has changed so dramatically in the last two years (we welcomed another dog, moved to a new house, had a baby 5 days later, and Olive started school!) that we’ve all been sort of trying to keep our heads above water. But the instant 2 out of 3 kids went to different camps at the same time, my head forgot all about the bickering and fighting and loud noises. I miss them dearly and I can’t wait for our family to be all under the same roof again.

New blog post is up! ♡link in bio♡ another Friday 5! I’d love to hear what you’re thankful for this week!

A post shared by Make the Most of it (@makethemostofitblog) on

TWO: YNAB

Our family is a single income family. Keith is an amazing provider and I am so thankful for all of the hard work he puts in to take care of us financially. One thing that I believe honors his hard work is making sure to budget that money as best as we can. I struggled with this until I found a budgeting program called You Need A Budget (YNAB). When I first signed up for YNAB we were deep in debt and had no clue how to manage the day to day finances. The free classes offered when you sign up turned everything around and helped me get a handle on our money. As our family has grown, I have been even more thankful for this program and the progress we’ve been able to make on managing our money, helping us to pay off the debt (woooo!) and stretch our budget as far as it can with it’s zero based budgeting system. Seriously, life changing stuff here.

If you’d like to try it out, I have a referral {click the picture}. I’ll get a month for free and so will you if you sign up!

YNAB LOGO

*If you do try it out, I can not stress enough to take advantage of the free classes they offer. These were so so so helpful!

THREE: Asher is still head down!

Week 34 check up was this week (the last of the bi-weekly check-ups!) and Ash is still head down. I am praying he really wants to stay that way, we’ve never had a problem with the last three, but every baby is different! I will continue to be thankful for this until D-day! He is still measuring a week ahead, which makes me a bit nervous. Olive, my 9 pounder, had shoulder dystocia when I delivered her, so the thought of having another big baby sorta scares me a bit. But I know I am in good hands and when Ash is ready, we’ll be able to make an informed decision.

FOUR: Carbonated Water

Anyone else obsessed with La Croix Sparkling Water? I love it and it is helping me stay hydrated this summer! I have also found that I love the Aldi version. Both are refreshing and bubbly and help me drink more when I’m not in the mood for straight up plain water.

FIVE: My Working Refridgerator

Ever been strolling through Instagram and someone posts something that makes you turn into a toddler, (I waaaaaaant it!!!). That totally happened to me this week with a refrigerator. She posted a beautiful picture of her fridge that fit a million times more things than my current side by side does, and I got super jealous.

You see, when we first got out of debt, in our old house, the first thing we bought without credit was a beautiful, huge, bottom freezer, fridge. Our old one had died, and we worked really hard to save up the money to buy that fridge. We lived out of a plug in cooler for months, until we had saved the money.

Plug In Cooler Fridge | Friday 5 | Make the Most of it

Picture evidence of our plug in cooler. Which just happens to be right next to our thankful tree that we do as a family each November. And, yes, that is someone’s artwork on the pantry door under the tree.

So we saved the money and got a brand new, beautiful, fully functional bottom freezer fridge that fit an insane amount of food. Then we moved. And left that fridge.

We now have a side by side. It’s pretty on the outside, it goes well in our kitchen with the other appliances, which is why the flippers put it in, I’m sure. But it’s small for a family of 5 (soon to be 6) and it makes weird noises ALL THE TIME…and the ice maker stinks.

You know what’s nice about it, though? It works. It keeps the food cool and makes it so we don’t have to live out of a plug in cooler.

Seeing someone else’s cool stuff can make you forget where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. I forgot that we have been in a position that we didn’t even have a fridge and we managed. Having a fridge, even if it’s not the one I would pick, is still a blessing and something to be thankful for.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

That’s my Friday 5! What are you thankful for?

How to Make a Family Command Center

How to Make a Family Command Center

How to Make a Family Command Center

When we moved into our house about a year and a half ago, I knew the first thing I wanted to do was figure out how to make a family command center that worked for our family. The 2 older kids were starting school, participating in sports, and making new friends to schedule playdates with each day. All of our scheduled plans and obligations were beginning to pile up, and it became clear that we needed something the whole family could use to stay up to date on where we needed to go.

(Affiliate links are included for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!)

I knew we needed 3 things in our family command center:

1: A large calendar.

2. A to do/done bin for papers.

3. A Clock and Decor.

Step One: A Calender

You know what they say; Go big or go home. We went big for our calendar. I did not want a dinky little thing that no one could read or write on. I wanted lots of room for info and for it to be clean and simple.

How to Make a Family Command Center

I knew you could print large scale prints at Staples for insanely cheap, so I started there to see how big I could go. At Staples, you can print Engineering Prints for dirt cheap! I decided on the 24″ x 36″ size for the wall we would use and I went with gray scale, too. I picked it up in-store all for under $4.00! So inexpensive!

Amazon is always my go-to to find what I need, keeping the cost down for that size frame was a priority. There were so many to choose from, I picked a black frame and plexiglass cover to help keep the cost down. If you can spring for a glass front, that would work even better! I find the plexiglass to bend just a bit too much while writing. It works, but glass would be a bit smoother. {Something like this is similar to what I purchased}

FREE PRINTABLE!

Once I knew the size I wanted, I created my print. I used Adobe Illustrator for mine and made it big enough that it prints clearly on 24″ x 36″ paper. Click on the picture below to download! You can save the file to your computer and upload it directly to Staples for a large scale print!

Family Calendar Preview

Once you’ve picked up your print and tested it out in your frame, you’re good to go! I write directly onto the plexiglass with these markers. Sometimes, I stick with black, but I’ll switch up the colors occasionally, depending on my mood, and the month. They don’t smudge like dry erase. You have to use a wet cloth to wipe them off, but I like that better!

You’re ready to hang your calendar!

My Super Secret Calendar Hanging Trick

This is a large scale frame that I tend to take on and off the wall a lot. I wanted it to be level all the time and be as secure as possible for writing directly onto it. These picture hangers make everything so much easier! They are called French pleats in the woodworking world. I used a large metal one similar to these, and I love it! It makes taking it on and off the wall simple, and I don’t have to worry about it being level every month when I update it.

STEP TWO:

With school in full swing, I knew I needed a to-do bin and a done bin in the family command center. I wanted them to be hanging on the wall to get them up off of the desk space below. This bin is something I found at Target, but you can find similar bins just about anywhere!

How to Make a Family Command Center

I used inexpensive clipboards I found at Dollar Tree to keep things together so I can easily pull them out. It’s worked really well so far. We keep our filing in the basement, so the done bin is often more overflowing than the to-do. School papers and documents are always stacking up and I wanted to make sure they weren’t on the desk. Now, they are up off the desk and I love that!

STEP THREE: CLOCK AND DECOR

Nothing is more frustrating to me than to get my times mixed up when planning family events. I do it often and every time I kick myself. For the decor, I knew I wanted something around the calendar and to-do bin to help it feel more like a gallery wall. The first thing I wanted to include was a clock. Clocks are pretty and functional. There are so many styles you can choose from to create the look you’re going for in your own family command center.

I liked the wood look of this one to offset the metal going on with the bins. Again, I found this one on Amazon (they have everything!) Here is a similar one: Foxtop 12 inch Silent Non-Ticking Wall Clock Vintage Wood-Grain Plastic Quartz Wall Clock Mute Quiet Sweep Country Style (Dark-Brown)

How to Make a Family Command Center

For the rest of the decor. I wanted to fill in with things that encourage myself and my family. The small canvas was actually done by a friend from church. She’s so talented and just happened to have a few of these pre-made. I love the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” and the colors worked perfectly! It’s hard to tell in the picture, but she used gold paint for the letters which look fantastic with the metal bins. Having these words right next to our calendar help me to remember in the chaos that He’s there in it all. No matter what we have planned for the day or month, or how crazy I feel trying to keep up, He is constant.

Last, I made a few arrows using scrap wood we had lying around. When I made them, I was inspired by my 3 kiddo’s distinct personalities. Each arrow is different and represents them in their own way. I’ll have to add a 4th one after Asher comes! I hung them all together using twine, I love the way they turned out.

HANG IT UP!

Now you can complete your family command center! I started with the biggest item, the calendar, and made sure the bins were reachable for ease of use. Functionality came first and I went from there. Then, I played around with the spacing and placement, but with the size of the wall and the large scale pieces, I didn’t have a whole lot of wiggle room. I love how it turned out!

I’d love to hear from you! What’s does your family include in a command center?

How to Make a family command center

Friday 5

(Affiliate links are included for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you, thanks for your support!)

 Favorite Fridays (july21)

Friday 5: Things We’re Thankful for this Week.

Each Friday, I want to take the time to really reflect on what we are thankful for as a family. I hope to list 5 things that I am thankful for this week. It might be products that we loved and that really helped our family in some way, or it might be personal or family accomplishments that I am

I hope to list 5 things that I am thankful for every week. It might be products that we loved and that really helped our family in some way, or it might be personal or family accomplishments that I just want to shout out and thank God for His help! Hopefully encouraging you along the way with helpful tips, products, and inspiration.

FIRST: AIR CONDITIONING

It’s so hot and muggy here in central Ohio this week! We made a pool trip, but I only have the energy to do a little at a time trying to keep up with Finn in the water at the same time as watching the big kids.

It’s been a stick-inside-as-much-as-possible kinda week. The A.C. feels amazing! Even getting the mail has made my pregnant, tired, self, hot and sweaty.

How we all feel after our walk in 90° heat with 1000% humidity. 🌡☉🔥

A post shared by Make the Most of it (@makethemostofitblog) on

Also a special shout out to LEGOS, books and craft supplies for keeping the kids busy inside!

TWO: MY HUSBAND

I could write a whole post on this.  Keith is such an amazing father and husband.

Typically,  he always makes sure to ask me where I need help with the kids and the house,  but even more so as we come to the end of this pregnancy.

He is always willing to help me get the rest I need and without him, the house would be in complete disarray.

All of this on top of working full time and being an amazing provider for the family.

I’m so thankful to know that when Asher arrives,  he’ll be there with bells on to help keep the family moving.  He is my biggest blessing ❤

THREE: A GOOD VACUUM

We’re in full on toddler mode around here.

The big kids wanted to help with making some yummy energy bites for dinner yesterday (energy bites and smoothies are a regular summer dinner around here).  I knew Finn wasn’t ready to join in the way the big kids do,  so I set him up with his own bowl,  spoon,  and some plain dry oatmeal.

He had so much fun but made a huge mess. Oatmeal was everywhere!

Cleanup took me no time at all because we were blessed with such an awesomevacuum, the Shark DuoClean Rocket Corded Ultralight Vacuum.

This thing swivels easily,  sucks up crumbs and big pieces easily,  and it’s easy to get out and put away.

My very favorite thing is that it can be stored hanging on the wall.  We don’t have a good closet to house a stand-up vacuum,  so this is the best solution for our home.

FOUR: SUMMER FUN

We had 2 water play birthday parties this weekend and the kids had such a fun time running through the splash pad and swimming. I’m so thankful that we live in a community that has so many fun outdoor opportunities for our kids to enjoy!

FIVE: AMAZON FIRE STICK

I’m a bit surprised how much I love the Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote.  One of my favorite features is the parental lock!

I set up our stick to require a pin each time they want to play an app. This means they can’t access HBO and Netflix without asking first, which is a huge relief.  And since we cut screen time, I’m already there helping them and giving them permission to use the screens so ours not an added inconvenience.

That’s my Friday 5! What are you thankful for?

Friday 5

(Affiliate links are included for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you)

Friday 5

Friday 5: Things We’re Thankful for this Week.

Each Friday, I want to take the time to really reflect on what we are thankful for as a family. I hope to list 5 things that I am thankful for this week. It might be products that we loved and that really helped our family in some way, or it might be personal or family accomplishments that I am

I hope to list 5 things that I am thankful for every week. It might be products that we loved and that really helped our family in some way, or it might be personal or family accomplishments that I just want to shout out and thank God for His help! Hopefully encouraging you along the way with helpful tips, products, and inspiration.

FIRST: UNICEF KID POWER BAND

Eli had his birthday this week and received a really cool step counter for kids! The UNICEF Kid Power Band is a water resistant watch that counts your steps and earns points for every step, after linking the watch to their app, you can cash in your points and earn meals for people in need through UNICEF!

Eli has been so excited to see how many steps he can get each day and he’s already earned a meal! Even better that he’s been moving around a lot more trying to earn his steps, it’s been a great motivator, and I have caught him a few times walking in circles. Perfect for an 8-year-old boy!

TWO: FAMILY FARM

Family is one of the most important things to me! My husband came down with some sort of awful stomach bug and we were able to give him some much-needed space (because who wants 3 kids in your face as you’re about it lose your lunch) by driving up to my parent’s farm. Not only did we get to visit with my grandparents and my parents, but we also got some pool time, fresh air, and some relaxation! We spent the night and enjoyed our visit. It was lovely for me to have help with Finn, too, who is a bit more energy than I can handle being 32 weeks pregnant!

The kids always love getting a bit closer to nature! My parents have way too many animals to even count, but we often find the wild animals just as entertaining. We found a whole pile of these moth caterpillars hanging on a tree. We made sure not to touch them, but it was awesome to watch them move around! Please excuse my dirty nails, that’s what happens on a farm!!

friday 5

THREE: MEAL PLANNING

On the days we could all eat together, I was so very thankful for already planned out meals. I jump around on how I plan out our meals, but this week I used Mashup Mom’s preplanned Aldi meals and it was a lifesaver! I’ve only just begun shopping at Aldi and I love it more and more every time! You can not beat those prices!

FOUR: ASHER IS HEAD DOWN!

I had a checkup this week and learned that baby 4 is already head down! I am hopeful he’s comfy and wants to stay that way. I’ve never had a problem in the past with my babies being feet first, but it’s one less thing to worry about as we get closer to the end. I can always use less worrying!

Friday 5

It’s hard to believe I still have a month and a half left! There is so much to do but I am already beginning to feel ready to meet this little guy <3

FIVE: INSTAGRAM

Friday 5

I have been feeling the love on Instagram lately! I can not imagine being a mom without being able to connect and share with other moms and creators in this way! It takes away the isolating feeling that can sometimes creep into momhood. I would love to share and connect with you, too! It’s my number one favorite social media. Head on over and follow me @makethemostofitblog we can be insta-friends!

5 Ways to Use Story Stones

5 Ways to Use Story Stones

Have you heard of story stones? Or maybe you’ve heard of them but don’t know how to use them?

As I was looking around Pinterest for no screen time activities (we cut our screen time this summer!), I kept coming across these fun painted rocks and I just knew I had to try them out. Rocks draw kids in, even plain ones! Add pictures or words on them, and kids of all ages can’t resist. They just feel good to pick up and move around!

I began to search around for how to use them in different ways and came up with 5 ways to use story stones so I thought I would share with you!

5 Ways to use Story Stones

There are endless ways to use story stones! Here are 5 ways to use Story Stones to get you started:

1. Story Building – Start your story with any stone, you can either grab them as a surprise or lay them out and let your kids pick which one they want to use next.

Example; I pick up an apple, and I start my story with, “There once was a very special apple who didn’t want to be eaten.” Then pick another stone, and add on to your story! Say the second stone is an umbrella. I would add onto my apple story with, “The special apple carried around an umbrella to use like a shield anytime someone tried to take a bite out of her!” Continue to add as many stones as you like until your story is finished.

My kids like to take turns within the same story, building off of each other’s stories. It gets so goofy, they almost always end in laughing tears!

2. Color Sorting – For younger kids, challenge them by asking them to sort each stone by color. After you sort, you can count how many of each color you have, which one has the most, least, etc. I just love all the ideas from A Crafty Living. She has so many great examples of how they use their story stones. Aren’t they just gorgeous? 

3. Book Reading – I have used a few books with our stones so far. We have a colors book that I use to encourage color sorting. Animal books can also be used, find the stone to match the animal on the page. You can even have them pick a stone to tell the story in the book. We have a sheep on one of our stones, and it would be so fun to have the sheep read a book about a sheep with us!

4. Adding to Nature – Fairy gardens would be a great way to take story stones outside, paint a few fairies and your kiddos can play with them out in the flowers and plants, then if they get left outside, it’s no big deal! Another idea is to write kind notes on a stone and leave them in parks for others to find. Such a cute little kindness activity for the kids! Story stones are also great additions to sensory bins of all types!

5. Word Building and Addition – Make a set of alphabet stones for word building or letter recognition! Putting numbers on your stones can help with homework or number learning. Look at these really cute examples! (Lady bug spot numbers, domino stones, numbers for homework help)

5 Ways to use Story Stones facebooks

Let Your Kids Lead The Way!

Let your kids lead the way! How do they want to play with them? They might surprise you and come up with a new way you never thought of. Encourage them to get creative with what’s on the stone itself. Did you paint a water droplet for rain? Maybe it can be a tear of sadness or happiness! A Water droplet could be a drop of blue paint or the bath after the painter finishes her masterpiece.

Age will play a huge role in how your kids will like to play. I have an 8 year old, 6 year old, and an 18 month old. They all want to play in different ways!

Play According to Age

Finn, our 18 month old just likes to pick them up and move them, he likes to take them out of the bag that holds them, but them back in…over and over and over. He also has begun to hold one out and ask, “this?”. I love that he is learning some words as he plays! The stones that we used are large, he can grab them easily, and when he tests the limits by putting them in his mouth (which he HAS done!) they fill his whole mouth, giving me enough peace of mind that I know if he’s trying it. I always watch him closely as we play.

Olive, our 6-year-old, is still learning to read. I can not wait to make some alphabet stones so we can build words to go along with the stories she likes to create. Right now, her favorite way to play is to build a story one stone at a time. She loves the stone with a book on it, it’s her “Once Upon a Time” starter stone, every time!

Eli, our 8-year-old, is less adventurous in his imaginative play. I do love that these encourage that part of his play, it stretches him a bit and that’s great. He’s picked them up on his own several times, which I wasn’t expecting. I included the solar system rocks in our first set to give him a way to explore in a specific way. We looked up our solar system and he matched which rocks he thought represented each planet. He also lined them up in order and we discussed orbit, gravity, and atmosphere!

5 Ways to Use Story Stones Insta

Build Your Collection

Start with a handful of rocks and paint or mod podge some images on them, you can start with anything! I made sure to have a girl and boy figure as our first two rocks and then just kept adding on. Soon, I’ll be posting a tutorial on how I made our story stones. Stay tuned!!

Continue building on your story stone collection. Here are some ideas just to get you started.

Book Themes:

Does your toddler want to read the same book, over and over? Try creating a few stones to go with that book. You can even print out pictures and use mod podge!

Holiday
Christmas Nativity (love these! from Rainy Day Mum), Easter, 4th of July, Birthday

Special Events

First day of school, 4 Seasons, Birth of Sibling

Pop Culture
Emojis, Fidget Spinners, Favorite TV or Movie Characters (mod podge and cutouts!)
Family

Your Family, Cousins and Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents

City

Cars/Trucks, Buildings, Bikes

Nature

Trees, Flowers, Animals

Space

Planets, Stars, Spaceships

Weather

Clouds, Lightning, Snow

Camping

Tent, Campfire, S’more

School

Book, Pencil, Ipad

Food

Fruit, Veggies, Pizza

Alphabet

Upper, Lower, Cursive

Numbers

Roman Numerals, Dominos, (+, -, *,/)

Tools

Hammer, Saw, Level

Animals

Birds, Farm, Zoo

Geography

States, Countries, Landmarks

Royalty

Crown, Princess/Prince, Castle

Church

Cross, Church Building, Praying Hands

I could go on and on, the best way to start is to pick what your kids are interested in and go from there! I’d love to hear: How would you play with story stones?

How to Cut Screen Time with No Whining

How to Cut Screen Time with No Whining! makethemostofitblog.com

How to Cut Screen Time with No Whining!

How We Dramatically Cut Our Screen Time This Summer

When my husband and I started having kids, we weren’t concerned with how to cut screen time. Our oldest son knew how to swipe my smartphone as a one-year-old. We always had the TV on as background noise if we were in the house, playing. My husband and I both played video games in our spare time. Our kids picked up on it, and we didn’t see a problem with how our kids were handling their screen time…at first.

Eli, our oldest, especially loves video games. Have you read The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively?(Affiliate Link) We love that book and try to use it to spend quality time with our kids. If you ask Eli what his “love language” is, he’ll tell you it’s “time spent playing video games together”. Spoiler alert, that’s not technically one of the 5 love languages! Video Games did help him learn to read quickly (hello motivation) and it was great one on one time with dad. There were a lot of positives about screen time that really had us pushing off the idea of limiting screen time at first.

Our second child, Olive, really has no attachment to screen time. She would choose to play barbies with a friend over watching a show and will craft for hours on end.

The funny thing is, we gave them the same exposure to screen time growing up, they just simply have different personalities. One is drawn to the screen and will spend all day on them if given the chance, and one will flutter on and off them with not a care in the world when they are turned off.

We Came to a Breaking Point

At first, we tried limiting the screen time to certain hours. The kids could wake up and use the screens until 10am (they usually woke up at 7). The screens were off limits until 4pm, then they were free to use the screens until bedtime (at 7:30pm).

That’s 6+ hours of available screen time! Our daughter almost never used it up, but our son would be on THE ENTIRE TIME. In fact, he would count down the minutes until that 4pm screen time, not doing anything except staring at the clock. He would wake up early to get more screen time in! We came to our breaking point and decided there needed to be a change; it was time to cut screen time.

How to Cut Screen Time with No Whining baby
We got a laugh out of this photo my husband took of our third son “playing” with his big brother.

Our New Plan to Cut Screen Time

We headed into the Summer of 2017 with a new plan!

1. The kids are allowed 1 hour of free screen time, no matter what. We think screen time can be important in moderation. Our kids need to decompress and have alone time, and screen time is helpful for them in that way some days. We decided as parents, we would not take away this hour no matter what.

2. If they complete a set of tasks, they can earn 1 hour of EXTRA screen time. We ask them to read, play outside, be creative, and help out around the house.

3. They CAN lose their earned screen time if they are not respectful and kind.

4. They manage their own timer. We use this timer, and it’s kept on the fridge. I love that both of their timers are in the same place, so they don’t get lost as easily. (Picture is Affiliate Link)

If they don’t manage it well, they will lose their earned screen time. Obviously, this is only if your kids are old enough to manage it themselves. But even if you have littles, they should still be responsible for listening for the end signal and turning off the beep!

How to cut screen time Free Printable

Success! How You Can Get the Free Printable

So far it has been an amazing transformation! We went from 6+ hours of screen time to 2 hours at most. Eli doesn’t even try to earn his extra hour some days, and he no longer stares at the clock waiting for his screen time to come back. Olive has also benefited by learning more about time management and cleaning up after herself. I’m so happy they are both closer to having a better relationship with the screens, and have benefited in countless ways with all of their extra time! They both learned to ride their bikes without training wheels within the first week of our new plan, they’ve been more imaginative, creative, and responsible. I’m not complaining about the extra help around the house, either!

I’d love to send you a free copy of How to Earn Extra Screen Time! I made a colorful version that’s great for laminating or putting in a pretty frame. Also included is a simpler, more printer-friendly version, that could be printed off every day as a checklist, or just to save on printer ink. You get both when you subscribe, to use as best fits your family.

Subscribe to get your free copy!

makethemostofitblog.com Subscribe