Kids, parenting

Tried and True Toddler Bedtime Routine

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How to Establish a Toddler Bedtime Routine that Works!

Structuring a bedtime routine for our toddler has made a world of difference in our home!  It may look a bit daunting, but I assure you that these aren’t long drawn out steps. They are short, simple, and easy for our young toddler to understand, remember, and implement. Consistency is truly the key.

  1. Clean Up Time

Start things off by getting the house in order so that everyone can have a clear mind.  At our house, our living area also doubles as our play area so getting it cleaned up gives us a good starting point.

  1. Get Ready for Bathtime

We have our kids put their dirty clothes into the hamper while we prepare their shower or bath.  Something that we like to implement with our kids is how to sort. We have three separate baskets. One for whites or lights, one for dark clothing, and one for towels. I have a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old that have it mastered and that also help the younger ones.  This makes my life so much easier on laundry day!

  1. Baths and Pajamas

Each of my kids takes a bath every night, so we make it fun! I invested in some good bath toys that I can’t rave enough about. We have some little boats and caterpillar stacking cups. Bubble bath is always a hit too! While kids are bathing, one parent stays and makes sure everyone gets all washed up and the other one lays out pajamas so that kids can quickly dry off and get dressed.

  1. Go to the Bathroom and Brush Teeth

Once everyone is settled and warmed up from bath time, we send our kids off to brush their teeth and go potty. Something we have struggled with in the past is making sure our kids actually brush for a good length of time, so special toothbrushes are always given as fun gifts for holidays. And just to be sure there isn’t any fighting, they also have separate tubes of toothpaste that are only theirs to use. Trust me, you will thank me when your kids aren’t yelling at each other in the bathroom over something silly.

  1. Story Time

My kids love to read!  We all pile on the couch with a huge comfy blanket that we can all fit under. We have always made time to read at least one family favorite story each night.  Some of our favorite books are Goodnight Gorilla, Spot Goes to the Library and Brown Bear Brown Bear. But we have a large collection that our kids can choose from. It can get a little out of hand, so we try to limit our book reading to 2 or 3 books per night and let the kids take turns picking. 

  1. Prayers and Kisses

After we all have story time, we have a family prayer and then send our kids off to their own rooms to do their individual prayers. If our kids request it, my husband and I switch off with which kid we accompany and then tuck them in.  We give goodnight kisses and hugs and have cuddle time if some special one-on-one time is needed.

Expectations of staying in bed and sleeping all night are always gone over as well, especially if it’s something we are working on or struggling with. If you struggle with your kids staying in bed be sure to read How to Get Your Toddlers to Stay in Bed. My husband and I like to give our kids fun little quizzes of what is appropriate to come to mom and dad for and what is not.  

So I would say something like, “What if you feel like you need a drink?” and they would respond with, “Nope!”  or “What if your tummy is hurting?” they would say, “come and get you!” I like to think that if you make it fun, the response from your kids is more positive.

  1. Praise

For our younger kids, we always let them know how proud we are of them the next morning after staying in bed!  Having a sticker chart where my son gets to put a star on himself for each day is something we have done for each one of our kids. As they get older, we also work toward a bigger goal where they can earn something special of their choosing.  

There you have it 7 steps to a successful Toddler bedtime routine!

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~Written by Shiree.

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Family, Kids

What Will Summer Have In Store For Your Family This Year?

*This is a collaboration post

Although we’re firmly in the middle of spring, it seems that summer is just around the corner. Spring break may only just have ended, but before long, you’ll find that you’ll be looking at the summer break. When it’s been a long winter, and you’re looking forward to a bit of respite, there’s nothing quite like planning out your summer for the family. But if you find yourself sticking to the same kinds of routine each year, you might like to think about shaking things up and doing something different. At the same time, waiting until the summer break starts to plan out your time might mean that you’re a little rushed and lacking in inspiration. So to help you think ahead, here are some ideas for your family to enjoy this year.


First of all, you’ve always got the idea of heading out on vacation. Because most families are going to want to enjoy some time away and a bit of a break over the summer. But don’t just decide on this last minute, why not do a little research and book something a bit different now? Instead of heading to your usual lakeside cabin, why not head to a beach across the country, or even fly out to Europe? Then, you get to change the pace a little.


A Road Trip

Next, you might like to think about heading out on a road trip. This can often be a lot of fun for your family if you have family across the country that you want to visit. Load up the car and take the scenic route. Not only will this mean that you get to have a lot of fun as a family, but also that you’re able to enjoy a bit of a vacation along the way too.


However, if you know that you’re going to be really busy and you won’t be able to take the entire summer off of work (if only), finding a great day camp could be a lot of fun for your kids. With the right program, like, you won’t have to worry about being at work. And the best part is, your kids will probably have much more fun doing activities and making new friends anyway. They’ll have a blast.


Summer School

If your kids are a little older, they may also be interested in summer school abroad. When they’re focused on a set career or they want to boost their college applications, doing something like this could be perfect for them. If you want to make sure they get the most out of their summer, this could be it.

Educational Trips

And finally, if you do get some time to do things as a family or if you are a stay at home mom, then why not think about the different cool places that you could all visit together. By heading out on educational trips, you’re not only thinking of their education, but you’ll all have a lot of fun too.




Kids, parenting

How to Prepare Your Family For Tornado Season

Do you know what to do during tornado season?

Last night was family date night, which included a trip to the bookstore and dinner. As we were in the bookstore looking around all of a sudden we heard it start to rain hard! It poured for a good five minutes. When the rain stopped (because you don’t run to the car in a Texas Rainstorm unless you have too) we checked out and headed outside. As we walked outside it was muggy and 80 degrees. It was gross, to say the least.

We got in the car and drove to dinner. The restaurant seemed a little crowded, so we dropped Ty off at the door to put our name down. The kids and I parked the car and started to get out. It was noticeably at least 10 degrees cooler than it was 10 minutes ago. The restaurant was an hour wait, so we decided to go someplace else.

Upon arriving at the next restaurant we got out. It had dropped another 10 degrees in a matter of 5 minutes. My husband looked up and then he saw the clouds spinning above us.

Yes! It was the start of a Tornado!

We went into the restaurant to eat dinner. As soon as we sat down the tornado alarms started going off throughout the town and then the lights started flickering… Outside it sounded like a train was right there.

Welcome to Tornado Season!

Our family stayed cam and ate dinner, but many families were panicked! So why did we stay calm and others panicked?

Because we had taught our Kids what to look for and how to be prepared for Tornadoes!

So What Do You Do to Teach Your Kids about Tornados and

How Do You Keep Your Family Safe?

Preparing Ahead of Time

There are things that you can do to prepare for a tornado before you are in danger. In fact, these things you need to do to help keep your family safe!

As my Family learned in 2015, in Texas with the Rowlett Tornado, you can prepare, but this doesn’t 100% protect you. Being Prepared helps you stay calm and prepare for the worst.


Develop a Plan

Tornadoes can be scary. In a moments notice a funnel can begin and does not give your family time to prepare. This is why you need to have a plan already in place so you can act in a moment’s notice.

Your plan should lay out exactly what each member of the family should do as soon as the tornado alarms go off. It needs to include where each member of the family will go. Develop a plan for each member of the family to have a buddy to get where they need to go.

Find A Shelter Within Your Home

When finding a tornado shelter you want it to be in the center of your home. You don’t want it to include any outside walls or windows. We use the pantry because it is the very center of our house. We all don’t fit there, so there is one closet and few sturdy nooks we also use.

Make a Checklist

Make a checklist of the things you Need to Grab on the way to your shelter. This way in the heat of the moment you don’t forget things like cell phone chargers, cash, purse, shoes for each member of the family, important documents, etc.

Talking about tornado safety with the kids ahead of time is a key to success so that they are not as scared when the alarms go off.

Have 72-Hour Kits Ready

Have 72-hour kits ready to go to your shelter with you. A 72-hour kit is a kit that you have ready and available with supplies and food for each member of your family. This includes flashlights, batteries, diapers, medication, etc. Anything each member of the family needs to survive for three days. Backpacks work great to hold your supplies. These kits will go into your shelter with you that way if you get stuck in your shelter you have the things you need. If you will also take these kits with you should you need to evacuate to a different shelter.

Have the Car Ready

If you are like me, there are many times where you are low on gas. During tornado season always have at least a half a tank of gas in case you need to drive somewhere quickly without stopping. As well as gas in the tank, have first aid kit ready in the car.

Practice Tornado Drills With the Kids

I remember the Rowlett tornado. It was my first tornado experience. I was so unprepared. I was running around trying to get everything ready and make sure everyone was where they needed to be.

It is important to practice tornado drills with the kids in a variety of situations. Know the school’s tornado plan. Talk about what to do if your kids are at a friend’s house when the tornado strikes. What will your kids do if you are running errands and they are at home? Where will you go if you are not home? All these things need to be talked about.

Practice the plan you put in place. Pretend the tornado alarm is going off when the kids least expect it. How do they react? Do they remember to grab their buddy? Did you remember the 72-hour kits? How long did it take each member of the family to get there? Make sure everyone can get to the shelter quickly!

Watch the Skies

When the weather is changing be aware of the skies. Be aware if the clouds are starting to turn. Don’t wait for you to really know that a tornado is here. Start to recognize what bad weather looks like. When the skies start to change, start watching for weather alerts on your phone, on the TV or listening for them on the radio. Keep your cell phones with you and be sure to charge them.

Once the Alarm Sounds

When the alarm sounds go to your pre-designated tornado shelter quickly!

Take the Warning Seriously

The first time we ever were under tornado warnings my husband went outside with one of our kids and watched the storm brewing for a bit. I do not recommend this! Do not ignore the warnings they are there for a reason. Get to your shelter quickly!


Once in your shelter listen through your phones or weather radio for news as to what is happening. Be sure to have a weather radio just in case you lose power or internet connection. Once you are in your shelter, be sure to let your family know that you are out of the storm and safe in your shelter. Continue to keep in contact with them throughout the storm.


Keep flashlights in your shelter that way if the power goes out you will be able to see. We keep flashlights in each bedroom and several in our tornado shelter. You want to be prepared in case you need to be in your shelter without power for several days.

Stay Calm

It is our job as parents to stay calm. This is a scary time for you, but especially for your kids. Sing songs with them, play games. Help them not think about what is happening. The calmer you are the calmer they will be.

After the Storm

Have a plan as to what you will do after the storm hits. This can be an emotional time for your family depending on the damage that has just occurred. It is highly possible that communication will be at a minimum because of downed telephone poles. There will probably lots of traffic trying to get people where they are trying to go. Debris and rubble could be all over the roads.

If your kids are not with you when the storm hits, it is important that they know that you will get them as soon as you can.

They will know this because you would have already have talked about it in preparing for the storm.

If you are stuck because of the storm, rest easy that rescue crews are on their way to help you! Remind the kids that help is coming. So sit tight and wait for them. Don’t try to get it out if you can’t.

Check for Injuries

Check with each member of the family and make sure they are okay. Does anyone need medical attention? Handle small wounds with your first aid kit. Other injuries might need medical attention.

When Leaving Your Shelter

When leaving your shelter, be careful! There can be debris all around you. Your home’s structure might not be sound any longer. There could be loose boards, broken glass, and nails. Safely get your family out.

Tornadoes can be scary. You can never be too prepared for the storm. Practice your plan with the kids a few times a year. Take each warning seriously and stay safe!

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Kids, parenting

Things All Happy Families Have In Common

*This is a collaboration post.

If you want to make sure your family is happy more often than not, it’s important to take the steps that will help you to get to where you want to be. When looking at a high number of happy families, it becomes clear that they all have a few things in common. Take a look at the following things and see what you can do to become more like the happiest families out there:


Weekly Family Meetings

Hold a family meeting once a week for 20 minutes. That’s all it takes to get everybody on the same page. Talk about what you all did great that week, and what could have been better. If you haven’t had much time together, for example, see if you can schedule some quality time somewhere like PDPlay. Of course, holding family meetings to discuss what could have been better may lead to arguments. This is why you also need to learn how to argue the right way. Make sure everyone can take a step back from the situation and figure out what’s really going on.



A Family Mission Statement

It might seem strange, coming up with a family mission statement, but it will help all members of the family stay focused on what is truly important. Take some time to sit down together and discuss what it means to be a part of your family. This can be a transformative experience for families. Do you want to be a family that values quality time without technology and spends time in the outdoors? A family that takes the time to understand one another and communicate without shouting? Write it out when you’ve got it, and include about 10 values. This isn’t really any more serious than setting goals for your family, so don’t put it off!


Sharing Family History

The happiest families usually have a good idea of their family history. Tell your family about the tough times your family faced, what challenges they overcame, and give them the confidence and inspiration to know they can do it too. Studies have shown that talking about your family history is key to emotional well being.


Agreed Parenting Techniques

Parenting with your partner means you both have to be on the same page. You don’t want your kids to ask one of you for something after having failing asked the other one. You may need to compromise, but this will make you seem united to your kids – arguing in front of them about what you should do is a definite no-no.


Eating A Meal Together Every Day

Many families have mad schedules, which makes it a little tough to eat meals together. However, you don’t have to have dinner together, if that’s too tough. Have breakfast together if that’s easier. Eating together will forge a stronger bond and encourage more quality time spent together.


Do you have anything in common with these happy families? What are you going to change? Leave your thoughts below!




Kids, parenting, Parenting is hard

The 6th Grade Curse and How to Get Through It

Two years ago when Colby entered the sixth grade along came a horrendous attitude. I thought to myself where did this come from and where is my child? The attitude came along with the back talking, the refusal to help, and a list and mile long of other things that we got to deal with. We felt at the time the best thing to do was to be more strict and show him that we were in charge and that he needed to be respectful to us… Needless to say, this technique did not work. We thought to ourselves this must just be our child going through a rough patch and that we obviously were failing as parents… But now two years later we are faced with the exact same challenges with Chase. We now refer to this stage as the “sixth-grade curse”.

In our house, we refer to this as the sixth-grade curse because as soon as the kids hit sixth grade no becomes their favorite word again and listening becomes optional. Along with that the back talking begins, the refusing to help, and the blatant disrespect. We all think that something is wrong with our child, but it is not; this is caused by our child’s development. You see our kids are growing faster than the brains can develop which causes these types of behaviors because they are unable to adapt to the growing body and mind. Their development is telling them they are older, but they are not capable of dealing with all the changes. Will kids overcome this? Yes. And we have discovered things that word to help us all deal with the situation a little bit better.

The 6th Grade Curse-2

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