Being a Great Gifter

Being a Great Gifter

There are a lot of factors that go into being a good gifter. I like to pride myself on having this skill. People have even commented on it. I think it is one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever been given.

I remember reading an article when I was a teenager about gift giving. It said to try and put time into all your gifts, but the ones you should never skimp out on is for your mom and your best friend. I thought this was an interesting comment.

The concept that you should only half ass your gift giving for some people and put all your money and effort into others. I understand what they were trying to say. Show extra appreciation to the people that support you the most.

I like to take this sentiment and apply it to all my gift giving. Chances are if I’m buying a gift for you or your child you are a person I care about in my life. So I want to show you that.

Another piece of advice I was given was to always try and find gifts that you want to keep for yourself. That way when you give it away it truly means you are being selfless. I love this concept. Although not always applicable, (because chances are I don’t want to keep anything I’m buying for my Grandpa) I liked the idea.

So after years of consciously trying to set the bar of being a “good” gift giver I reflected on why people say this and how I can keep doing it. I whittled it down to Eight main components:

1. You have to show time and effort

Spend time on gifts. If you know you have something coming up plan ahead. Don’t do last minute shopping because you never end up with something as thoughtful. You might luck out and find a pretty good gift. But chances are it will be something mismatched to the giftee.

If you got them something that was clearly ordered in advance, personalized, or a gift that was “made” for them in personality they will be appreciative. It shows how much you care that you took time out of your busy schedule to do something nice for them.

2. Be the master of the gift Card

There is always a time and place for gift cards. If someone requests them, or if you know they are saving up for something. But knowing when the gift card will be appreciated and when it will be a disappointment is the key.

An example would be to not buy a $50 gift card for your mom for her birthday. It needs to be more heartfelt.

Another option is for someone like a kids teacher or one of your teenagers friends  is the gift/giftcard combo. Do a small gift that’s thoughtfully paired with a gift card.

3. Be Creative

Try and find things people may not have seen before. Whenever I am on pinterest or come across a link to something cool I save gift ideas. Even if its something that I can’t think would suit someone I know it always comes back later.

4. Pay attention to little details

This means knowing their style. An example would be lets say your sister in law loves yorkies. You want to buy her a yorkie t shirt. There is a difference between a cheesy over sized gimmicky shirt with a yorkies face covering the entire thing vs. a cool fitted shirt with a yorkie outline on the sleeve.

5.  Presentation means a lot

This doesn’t mean that you have to ruin the environment with crazy paper, ribbons and tape. There are tons of way to be creative with wrapping  that are environmentally friendly. There are lots of cool cloth wrapping bags. I love to use these and tie candy or other bright ornamental things onto them instead of a card.

For something a little bit more elegant, I like to use wooden boxes. You can use a little bit or ribbon that matches the occasion. Whether it be a birthday, Christmas or other event.

6. Know the time and place for Gag Gifts

No one wants a gag gift at a baby shower, wedding, or birthday party. Know when they are appropriate. If you are doing a gift exchange at work, nothing is more weird and uncomfortable then the forced laughter when someone opens a lame fart gift that Todd from accounting thought was hilarious.

If you do decide that you want to buy somebody a gag gift. Make sure you know their sense of humour.

7. When all else fails

If you know nothing about the person you have to buy a gift for. Like a coworker or a kids coach. Give something that is either edible or usable. Think edible basket, wine, water bottle,  movie tickets, gourmet cookies, etc.

8. Don’t over gift

Don’t be that awkward person that brings an acquaintance a Christmas gift, fully knowing that they probably won’t have something for you. Its not a positive interaction in any way. The other person just feels embarrassed and guilty. Or if you are doing a gift exchange, don’t go above the limit so that your gift is far superior. You may feel like you ‘re trying to do something nice but it doesn’t feel genuine to the person you are giving it to.

The purpose of a gift is to either show appreciation or celebrate an event. Just remember that whatever you give them is meant to make them feel special and cared for. Try your hardest to make that happen for them.

Happy Gifting!

Teaching your kids about Giving Back

Teaching your kids about Giving Back

We all want to give back a little more. Volunteer more. Donate more. Give more of ourselves. However, in a world where it seems like moms are pulled in so many directions already, it can be hard. Sometimes we keep putting it off and saying we will always do it later. When we have more time. But the point in our lives where we have more time just never seems to come.

I was that person completely. I’ll get more involved next year. I’m pregnant and too tired. We’re trying to get pregnant and I need to focus on that. There’s always a million ways to avoid it.

Then it dawned on me. What was I teaching my kids if they didn’t see me being actively involved in their schools, sports and community. They didn’t know that I was giving money or donating items. They didn’t see that. Nor would they care. Kids learn by seeing and doing.

I decided to adopt a different philosophy. Start small and give more when you are up for it. For example. I couldn’t devote the time to volunteer for the parents board of my son’s preschool. However I could definitely take shifts at the fall fair booth they use to advertise in our community. By putting my foot a little in the door I could be more comfortable in the future of what kind commitment they might need.

The other thing that I have realized over time is that giving back doesn’t need to be defined purely by donations and volunteering. Giving back is also about being a good person and giving your energy to people around you. Giving back encompasses all the extra things that you can do to help people you care about and strangers that need it.

Giving back is a broad term that encompasses a lot of different things. Below is a list of ways you can give back and include your kiddos in the process.

Here are a 10 ways you can start to teach your kids to give back and include them:

1. Donate Blood

It is so easy. I was scared to do it for years. I had a personal reason that encouraged me to donate and I enrolled a few friends to join. We had so much fun together during the process and going out for lunch afterwards that we now make it an every 3-4 month date. It takes about an hour and can only be done every 3 months. So at the most you are looking at 4 hours a year. Totally Doable!

It has also opened up a wonderful conversation with the kids. They see mom going out to donate blood and they have a million questions. My oldest has even made comments about how one day he wants to come with me when he’s old enough to do it too. It warms my heart to think that maybe they will continue this on as they get older.

2. Christmas time Adopt a Family

There are a lot of different organizations to do this through. Google “Christmas adopt a family” in your city and you can pick an organization. You are assigned a family that has applied. You will be given a list of items that each of the family members has requested as Christmas gifts or items they are in need of.

Its usually financially a lot to take on individually. A woman in our community always puts it on our community Facebook page and different families sign up for different items. Then she hosts a wrapping party where a bunch of people get together and get all the gifts ready for the family. Its a little time consuming, but once a year and an amazing opportunity.

This one is very easy to do as a family. We try to pick one item each off the list and then go out to find them together. I have the kids pick out toys that they would want for Christmas themselves to give away. I was taught that the best gift is something you would really like to keep for yourself, but are willing to give away because your care. I want the kids to carry this sentiment.

3. Buy a $10 gift card for the parent that has stepped up

There will be certain years that you just can’t carry your weight volunteering at school or with your kids sports associations. It could be due to illness, career, childcare, or any other reason. We’ve all been there.

But there is always that one parent that volunteers for everything and picks up where we can’t pitch in. Show them you notice by giving them a little card and a $10 Starbucks or Tim Horton’s gift card inside. It will warm their heart so much. Don’t worry, there will always be another year that you can be the parent diving in head first. Don’t beat yourself up.

The way I include the kids is to have them make a homemade card. That way you can explain to them why you are giving the thank you card to that parent. They get to see you not only being genuinely appreciative of somebody else’s hard work, but taking the time to voice it.

4. Buy the Grocery bundle at the counter

I don’t know  if every grocery store has them, but two of the ones that I frequent have prepackaged bundles at the counter. They are filled with staples that can be donated to the foodbank. I love these and try to purchase them as often as I can to put in the donation bin. They give you $5, $10 and $15 options.

Then give it to one of the kids to carry and place in the bin. Hopefully it will become so ingrained in them, they will continue to do it when they buy their own groceries.

5. Enroll your Family in a Clean up Walk

Give the kids some gloves and hold a garbage bag while you go for a walk around your neighborhood. Make a game over who can pick up the most litter. Or offer them a reward. If they fill the whole garbage bag then you will take them for ice cream!

6. Support Local Business whenever you can

Whenever you have the option or choice to support local and small business, please do it. We can’t do it all the time. I’m as big of an amazon shopper as anyone else. But I buy meat from a local butcher. I buy a good portion of my clothes from another mom that does pop up shops. I buy most of the the kids hockey equipment from a small local store rather than the big box stores. Its another version of giving back by choosing to support community.

I’m not sure if this lesson is lost on them at this point. As they get older, it will be easier to explain the impacts that shopping local have and why they should do it.

7. Give a mom the day off when she needs it

Do you have a friend or a mom you know through school that never asks for help? Or even when you offer she has trouble taking it? Do something for her. Try to give her a full Saturday by taking her kids. INSIST on it. If she still says no then make her a care package. Put a homemade Lasagna, bag salad, bottle of wine, face mask, chocolate chip cookies and a bath bomb. She will be so touched and grateful. Sometimes people just need that reminder that we’re all in this mom thing together.

If I want to do a “just because” gift for a friend, I like to include the kids. I would never tell them the details I’ve why a loved one might need it. I can just tell them something simple, like they had a rough day so we’re going to make them smile. We will make cookies together and they can draw a nice picture and we will do the delivery together. I want the kids to know the importance of being kind to their friends and how small gestures can mean the world to people.

8. Offer a Ride

This kind of goes with the above reason. People always hesitate to ask so just always offer. I probably offer three rides a day. I probably only end up giving one every few days but I always want other moms to know they can rely on me and that I truly am happy to help.

This is purely just the kids learning through seeing. They see me trying to be helpful. Hopefully. Let’s be honest, they probably don’t even notice ha ha. But maybe they do.

9. Volunteer for Neighborhood Events

My neighborhood holds a lot of social events. A LOT! Volunteering for all of them would be a full time job. But I pitch in where I can. Probably not as much as I should. But doing what you can is always helpful, even if its setting up tables and chairs. If your community doesn’t have these types of events, send an email to your home owners association or residents board and see if there are any events they host that would need volunteering.

10. Do a Smile Day

I’m not kidding. I’m really not. Have you tried it? Just wander around and smile and say hello to people. Hold doors. Let people go ahead of you in line. Sometimes you don’t have the energy to be captain happy all day. But if you have it in you to throw out ridiculous amounts of positive energy one day. Just try it. It feels great for you and the people you can affect.

How many of you have had your kids ask “Why did you say hello to that person”? When you smile at a stranger and say hello. “Mom, do you know them”. I like being able to tell them that’s its just polite to greet people and it can make your day to have a positive interaction with someone. You never know who’s day you might turn around with a smile.

The Takeaway about teaching your kids about giving back

We all know how valuable our time is. You never seem to have enough. You don’t have to be the super hero that does everything.

Start small and give time and energy when you have it. Pick an area that you enjoy and go with it. Have fun, include your kids, show them how it adds value to your lives to give your time to different causes.

Happy Giving!

Saving for Splurge Money

Saving for Splurge Money

Define SPLURGE money

You know how when you read different financial tips to cutting your budget and one of the first things is to always cut out the fancy coffees/tea? I always roll my eyes just a little because c’mon. Isn’t the little joys in life the whole point? If going into the coffee shop that smells fantastic and getting a hot delicious drink that tastes ten times better than any garbage I make at home brings joy to my mornings then that’s what I plan on doing!

I call my splurge fund tea money. Its that little tiny bit that you try to find in your monthly budget to treat yourself. In other posts you may have heard me reference my love of Tim Horton’s steeped tea. Its not as expensive as specialty coffee but it still adds up. An extra large is $2.30. So you multiply that over an average of 5 times a week and you have a monthly splurge of $46. It still doesn’t seem like that much. I do however get a little twinge of guilt when some asshole with a calculator adds up the average price over a decade and forces me to realize that I’m hindering my retirement with this little joy.

So as all people with a little motivation and limited resources does, I find a work around.  Behold, I present to you my list of ways to save up change to buy yourself delicious hot drinks with no guilt.

  1. Bottles and Cans – That’s right, you heard me. I save up all our bottles and cans over the month and take them in. In the past sometimes I get lazy and just throw them in recycling but now that the cans money is ear marked they all get saved. We go through a lot of Milk jugs, juice boxes, ahem wine bottles, and various soda cans from entertaining. I usually rake in about $15-20/month on this one
  2. Extra effort in meal planning – As mentioned in other articles I really have to work at meal planning. I don’t budget plan very well. So I make a pact with myself that whatever I can save in our meal planning budget by shopping sales, and not eating out over the month up to $15 can go in my splurge bag. I literally have a ziplock bag in my car that I keep loose change. My kids think I’m an embarrassment. Anything I save over $15 goes towards our general savings.
  3. Gift Cards – Whenever I have a bday, or for Christmas when people ask me what I want I don’t do the traditional, “oh nothing” which is what I used to say and then get a blanket for every present ever. Its cold where I live so everyone’s always gifting blankets all over the place. But now I ask for Tim Hortons or starbucks gift cards. $10 here $10 there….they carry me pretty far!
  4. Babysit once a month – On my neighbourhood facebook page there is always someone calling for a last minute sitter for a couple hours on the weekends. Even If I babysit once a month for one evening It throws $30-$40 in the fund.
  5. I use $10 to buy 2 $5 scratchers – this one may seem ridiculous but I also love casinos. Its also not in the budget so once a month I “Gamble” $10 of my splurge money and most likely it goes down the drain. Every once in awhile I double it and that month is a party. Starbucks egg bites for days! Wooooo! This article is making me a little sad about my life as time goes on.
  6. Selling on facebook buy and sells or kijiji – Just stuff around the house that doesn’t get used any more. I once had a Christmas duvet cover that I had bought on sale the year prior and put away with my Christmas decorations still in the package. I decided I didn’t need it and threw it up on an auction site. It somehow went into a bidding war and I turned my $10 bargain buy into a $40 win.
  7. I organize my routes better – I live outside of the city so I can burn a ton on gas. Even when I lived within the city you can lose track while running errands. If I map out my week and really make sure to be productive with my driving, I can save a tank of gas per month. I make sure that if I drive over to visit my parents, I get my groceries at the same time rather than making two separate trips. Or on my Monday Costco trips I fill my tank since the gas is way cheaper there. 
  8. Rewards Cards – Tim Horton’s introduced their rewards cards. Yay! There current plan although I’m sure it will change, is for every 6 purchases you get a coffee or tea free on your 7th. So it saves me $5/month. 

This list more than covers my tea money for the month. My husband always says he doesn’t understand why I don’t just go ahead and do that stuff anyway but I handle the finances so I know better and I like the challenge of “earning” it for myself.

I like to “earn” my splurge money as dumb as that sounds. We have a budget that my husband and I have agreed on together. We purchased a house and our vehicles and plan our dates nights on that budget.

We chose the price of our fixed finances to allow room for our kids to do the sports they wanted and that we could have a contingency budget in case things come up like car maintenance or other expenses. So me spending money on random things for myself doesn’t really come into the mix. Its no problem if I want to get some clothes here and there, go out for lunch with friends, or get a manicure, but its not a very big budget for other things.

So I make a game out of saving money to free up a little splurge money for teas and pampering. I would love to hear your ideas or fun ways that you make a game out of saving money for yourself. 

Happy Saving! 

Hydrotherapy Self Care

Hydrotherapy Self Care

My Hydrotherapy Experience and How to Recreate It

Hydrotherapy is my number one way to relieve stress, I just never knew it until recently.

This was always my go to. Long day? Hot Bath. Needed a minute alone? Hot shower. Want to feel motivated? Ice Cold Shower. Favorite feeling in the world? Diving into a cold lake. I always pull towards water for help physically and to change my state of mind. It just wasn’t something I was aware of or really thought about.

I also love spas. I mean who doesn’t? They just don’t quite fit into the budget that often. Last year I was fortunate enough to go to a spa and have an experience called a hydropath. I had no idea what I had signed up for. I just new it involved water and had rave reviews. Sounds great!

When I got there I changed into my bathing suit and was guided down this staircase to a basement. I was with two friends. We were told to hang up our robes and they would be waiting for us at the end. End of what?

The door opened and we entered a dark cave-like oasis. Not at all what I was expecting. The guide explained that she would leave us at each station and return when it was time to move to the next. We spent the next hour going through the following stations:

  • A cave shower with more jets than I knew were possible. We giggled and held on to the walls as we were blasted from all angles. Trying to hold our bathing suits on in certain areas. What the heck did we get ourselves into?
  • Next came a grotto style Hot tub. You were supposed to rotate around the tub to enjoy all the different jets
  • We were then whisked to another cave room with Five showers. Each with different water flows and pressures to rotate through. Some were great. Some drowning. But still a very unique experience
  • Up next? The eucalyptus steam room. It was a great as it sounds
  • So my friends opted to skip what came next. The ice cold waterfall Shower. I really do love cold water as much as hot so I gave it a go. It sucked my breathe away but I felt like a new person after.
  • Now was a long path of hot water up to your waist with jets at different heights to massage different points on your legs. You did three laps through the hot water in one direction and then came the opposite direction in an ice cold long pool with the same type of jets.
  • Second to last was another hot tub. This one was called a saline hot pool with a high salt content which caused you to float quite easily. There was a rain shower that poured lightly from the ceiling.
  • The last one was really cool. You had your own little bath. It was shaped like a clam shell and you crawled into this almost scalding hot water basin. They gave you a little bowl of body scrub and cold cloth. After exfoliating your entire body you placed the cold cloth on your face and relaxed until you went into a noodle-like state.

I slept amazing that night. and felt very calm and mellow for the rest of the day. I am so happy that I got to enjoy this really cool experience. It also made me realize how much I depend on hydrotherapy to help me on a regular basis.

How Can you do this at Home?

Last time I checked I don’t have an elaborate Grotto filled with hidden jets and steam rooms. I have a tub, a shower and a few bags of epsom salts. I also rarely have hours to lounge around in the water so I wanted to design a hydrotherapy relaxation night that I can do every once in awhile when I really need a recharge.

I came up with this routine. Its not fancy but it really does renew me. 

First I work out. This does add up to an hour for time but it heats up my internal temperature and gets the blood flowing in your muscles and lungs. I find when I push my breathe as hard as I can during a workout, I can find my slower breathing easier after. I’m not going to pretend I’m an avid fitness junkie. Its something I struggle with. But I find it really helps for stress release. 

Onto an ice cold shower. I don’t mean mildly warm. I mean icy, have to take short breaths. I do this for about two minutes. Quick soap up and shampoo to rinse off the workout sweat. Bonus to an ice cold shower. When you step out check yourself in the mirror. Everything is quite perky! Its a confidence boost for sure.

I start a hot bath which I fill with epsom salts. While the bath is pouring I splash warm water on my face and put a face mask on. I stand in the tub which is ankle deep at this point and do a shoulder to toe body scrub. Standing in the tub is less messy than standing on a towel and the warm water on your feet feels nice. Then I move back to the shower and do a 10 second rinse in the shower to get the scrub and face mask off. 

Sink into the tub and relax for minimum 20 min. You muscles need at least 20 min in the hot water with the salts to start to let go of tension. I know its a cliche but I love to light candles and listen to music. Otherwise I find I get bored. I love the feeling of hot water on my scalp so I periodically dunk my whole head under the water in the tub. 

I like to stay in the tub until I’m too warm. That’s my deciding point to get out. Once I get out,I lotion my entire body and immediately put on my coziest comfy clothes. These usually consist of my husbands fleece sweatpants and over sized hoodie. 

Finally I stretch for 15 minutes before sleep. I do very simple stretches and yoga that are easy for me to do 8 second breathes. 4 seconds in and 4 seconds out. By the time I’ve completed my stretches I am done! Ready for bed and I feel amazing. I always sleep so deep. If I have been extra prepared and organized I make sure earlier in the day that I’ve changed the bed and have nice fresh sheets to crash into.

I can’t say its the exact same experience as the spa hydropath. That place was amazing. But for an at home bathroom hydrotherapy spa night its become my new favorite. One last thing to really emphasize. I saved it for last so you would remember. During your whole hydrotherapy experience, HYDRATE! Drink lots and lots and lots. You might have to pee a bit through the night but your body needs it. 

If you have any other hydro tips I would love to hear them! Send me an email.

Happy Relaxing

14 ways to use less chemicals in your Home

14 ways to use less chemicals in your Home

Chemicals! They are everywhere. We hear things everyday about all the cancer causing agents we run into on a daily basis. Products that we think are safe are jam packed with terrifying chemicals with unknown effects.

Unfortunately some are impossible to change. You can’t control the air quality or proximity of cell phone towers. I genuinely get anxiety when I think of all the possible things I’m exposing myself and my kids to by using plastics and eating processed food. But the bottom line is that you can’t change everything and you can’t be perfect.

Slowly over the years I’ve changed a few things to help my comfort level and feel a bit better about my every day life.  The truth is I can only do so much. My kids are always going to eat Mcdonald’s. I’m probably always going to buy hot dogs for convenience. I’m not perfect and never will be. These are quick changes I made and you can too!

You are a busy person and adding work to your life won’t make changes sustainable. These are things that I’ve changed that don’t take a lot of extra work for me. 

This List is 14 Ways you can use less Chemicals in your Home Today

  1. I switched my laundry soap. When I started reading about how many chemicals are in laundry detergent and dryer sheets I was floored. You wash your sheets, pillowcases, clothing, blankets and towels with laundry soap. These are all things you are in contact with all day. So I researched and came across https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners. This website is an amazing resource. They rate all of the detergents from grade A through F. Even many advertised as “clean” or “organic” still get C or D ratings. The one that I use that I love is Nature Clean Powder. The powder is a bit of a pain. I mix it into water before dumping it in the machine and it works great.
  2. Dryer Sheets. After learning how many chemicals are laced into dryer sheets I switched to wool dryer balls. They work pretty well. I miss the smells of the sheets but you get used to it. I tried putting essentials oils on the dryer balls and it works a little but not great. An extra bonus of the wool balls is that when you switch to new ones,  you can give the old ones to your kids to play indoor hockey with. No more wall dents!
  3. Dishwasher soap and dish soap – You eat off of your dishes and drink liquid out of cups so the last thing you want is them coated in chemicals. From the same website listed above https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners. I found Nature Clean dishwasher pods and Eco-max Natural Lavender Ultra Dish Wash. I love them both!
  4. Shampoo and conditioner –  The same website has a handy dandy personal products guide as well https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/.  Instead of the letter rating system for personal products they rank 1-10. I use Deva Curl products because I have very curly hair. The rank a 4 out of 10 on the personal products scale. Not as good as a 1 but in an acceptable range for me.
  5. Hand soaps – We use a variety of hand soaps. Usually I buy whatever is on sale. But I use the same guide https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ to make sure I”m not purchasing anything with too poor of a rating.
  6. Body Soap – I make my own with Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap. You can buy foaming soap dispensers at Walmart or on amazon. I fill halfway with water. Then I put a cup of castile soap and 8-10 drops of my favorite essential oils. Super easy and smells amazing.
  7. Beauty products – I don’t wear a lot of make up so this one was easy to switch. I should wear more but I’m lazy ha! A friend of mine starting selling Beauty Counter so I tried a few products and became hooked. They are all Ewg.org certified which says a lot too. My skin looks better than it ever has. In the past I struggled with adult acne and since switching to beauty counter I never have any issues. Check out their product line here. Its a bit more expensive than what I used to buy but it lasts forever!
  8. Milk and Meat – I once had a conversation with an owner of an organic grocery store. I am not in the position to buy completely organic groceries for our family of five. I asked him if I were to switch just a few things what would he recommend? He said milk and meat no question. They both have a lot of hormones that get passed onto the consumer through ingestion. Yuck.
  9. Cleaning products – I make my own. I have experimented with a ton of recipes using vinegar, castile soap, essential oils and witch hazel. Bonus is that I never worry about my kids grabbing chemical cleaners out of a cabinet and they can help me clean without me worrying about them ingesting something poisonous. Check out my full article on Castile Soap uses.
  10. Radon test – I feel like I hear about radon a lot. But the other day someone told me they had never even heard the word. It is a tasteless, odorless gas caused by uranium decay. Ok so how does that affect me? Sometimes when homes are built, the ground is disturbed and uranium in rock can release the gas into your house for years. It is the second highest cause of lung cancer next to smoking. You can have a radon test done in your home and if it comes back positive there are methods to stop it from coming into your home and the air you are breathing. For more information check out https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/health-risks-safety/radiation/radon.html
  11. Use mineral makeup and sunscreen. Sun Bum is amazing! Costco also has a mineral makeup brush that I used for my infant daughter all over her hair because she had such fine hair and wouldn’t keep a hat on.
  12. Use glass instead of plastic when you can. Its pretty much impossible not to use plastic. Its everywhere. But small changes like storing leftovers in glass instead of plastic make me feel better.
  13. Buy organic frozen fruit and veggies. I mentioned before that buying organic everything is a bit of a stretch for us. I wish I could, but its so pricey and it spoils quickly. I found a bit of a work around for produce. My kids love eating frozen fruit and smoothies so I buy organic of these items since they last longer. You can buy t?hem in big quantities at Costco or during sales to stock up.
  14. Plug your phone in at night in the hallway – I used to sleep with my phone under my pillow. Then someone told me they started plugging it in elsewhere because of fear of brain cancer. Who knows if cell phones and brain cancer is a myth but its such an easy change so why not? Not a terrible idea!

I know its impossible to live a completely chemical free life. But small changes can add up to big difference. Implement these changes and feel better about trying something new and healthy.

Hilarious and Practical Chores for Kids

Hilarious and Practical Chores for Kids

 Kids and chores. There are a million different ways to do this and a millions different motivations. There are chore charts, allowance charts, reward charts, chore lists and more. Some methods believe that chores are not meant to be rewarded and its just part of living in a household.

I feel like I fall somewhere in the middle. I want my children to be helpful, self reliant, hard working little people. Admittedly  I have tried many different chore charts but I find them too rigid with our ever changing schedule. By not being rigid with the schedule, I feel like I’m teaching them bad habits by having goals and not sticking to them.

On a daily basis the kids have several minimum expectations. Make their beds. Easy. Do their homework if applicable. Easy. Try and be tidy little humans. Easy.

Everything else comes in on a day to day schedule. For example, yesterday my 9 year old had 45 min of homework and hockey practice. He also desperately wanted his friend to come over and play for a bit. On top of this he had a giant basket of laundry to fold. So I told him if he had a great attitude (this is a big thing in our house) and finished his homework properly, he could have his friend over and do his laundry the next day. So I give and take depending on a lot of different factors. However, over the years I have developed a whole list of chores to keep them busy around the house and install a little work ethic.

  1. Tidying up after each other – If you ever want your kids to turn into tidier people, make them clean up after each other. This comes with a lot of whining and finger pointing but it works. Our 15 month old is a hurricane. That girl can destroy a room like no other child I have seen. I have her older brothers clean up most of her toys (while attempting to teach her too). Then the next time I’m cleaning up their toys I can point out how it feels when you have to clean up someone else’s mess.
  2. Dust Busting – This is one of my favorites for my four year old because he thinks its fun. I have him do the stairs, the kitchen, pretty much every corner and wall seam in the house. Basically I give it to him with a full charge and tell him to keep going until the battery is dead.
  3. Dusting – This is one even my 1 year old can “help” with. I give them each a Swiffer cloth and ask them to wipe down surfaces on shelves, counters, window sills, etc. My oldest is quite tall so he gets the high shelves and the two littles handle everything down low.
  4. Spot Scrubbing – I’m not entirely sure how. That’s a lie, it’s the little hurricane we call our daughter. But there is dried food in areas of the kitchen that need to be scrubbed aggressively off the floor. Most of it is around the kitchen table and her high chair. She pretty much takes spoonfuls of food and flings it, or dumps the bowl. I wipe it up most of the time, but sometimes it just gets missed. So I have the boys get down and scrub the floors with a scrubby sponge to make everything spotless
  5. Outdoor garbage collection – We live in a super windy neighbourhood so we quite often have trash blown into our garden beds and backyard. I send them out with gloves and a garbage bag. As they get older you can have them do areas around the neighbourhood too.
  6. The Sock Bag – The dreaded sock bag. I absolutely hate folding socks. Next to unloading the dishwasher its my least favorite chore. So all week long as I’m doing laundry I dump all the loose socks into a giant bag. Then on Fridays the kids have to pair and fold the entire thing. They hate it. I love it.
  7. Unloading the Dishwasher – like I said…..least favorite thing. So happy that the kids are now old enough to do it!
  8. Weed picking – The kids are quite terrible at it. They never pull it out from the root. Even though I’ve explained to them that they will have to do it less often if they do a really good job. But it’s a good one for little hands and teaching hard work. So many chores take 5-10 min that its nice to give them a job that takes longer and teaches a little stamina
  9. Snow Shoveling – Where we live there is a good 6 months of snow shoveling. The kids actually really love it. They think of it as playing. I usually have to go out and redo it a bit but overall they are a big help!
  10. Toy Cleaning – I set them up with a movie. Throw some sponges and soapy bowls of water their way and let them scrub all the bins of toys in the playroom. Sometimes the mess is a bit more than one might want but it gets the job done
  11. Movie and Video Game matching – I’m one of those annoying people that always puts the wrong movie or video game in whatever case is closest. So when it gets to the point where we can’t find anything I put them all in a pile and let the kids organize them.
  12. Fruits and Veggie cutting – We are just starting to get into this because I’m worried about cut fingers. But I give my oldest a cutting board and softer fruits and vegetables that I’m not worried about him slipping and cutting himself by pressing too hard. He can cut up strawberries, cucumbers, melon, and any other things I need him to for dinner prep of snacks
  13. Garbage collection – This is a super easy one. On the night before garbage day I have one of them run throughout the house and empty and smaller waste bins into a larger bag.
  14. Deodorizing spray – I make a deodorizing spray with essential oils that the kids can use for their hockey gear, shoes, and pretty much anything else fabric wise that can’t be washed in the laundry that needs a little “freshening up”. I use 2 oz water, 1 oz witch hazel and 25-30 drops of essential oils. I love citrus smells so I usually use a combination of young livings thieves and orange. Sometimes I add a little vanilla too. Works like charm. Just give them a list of things to wander around and spray.
  15. Car Clean out – As a busy mom my Car looks like a disaster. It definitely could be kept cleaner on a regular basis but its an area that no matter how hard I try it just sucks. It’s a black hole of mittens, socks, snack wrappers, Tupperware and toys. When the weather is decent I can have the two older kids empty everything into a big bin and then I can sort through it inside the house. It at least keeps the clutter down a bit in the car.

When it comes to chores I try to get them to help with everything they are able to. Realistically there are some weeks that I just don’t have the energy to fight with the whining and/or patiently help them do the chore and then redo it afterwards when they aren’t looking. Some weeks I just do it all myself. But the more I get them to do, the easier things become in the long run and I hope that I’m raising capable little children that will continue to do these chores after they’ve moved out on their own.

I would love to see comments on any additional chores you have your kids do around your house.

Happy Cleaning!

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