Cheapskating, Kids' Activities, microhustle, momlife, parenting, The Salties, Tips & Hacks, Traditions

Micro Hustle Monday: The Pumpkin Fairy

Today’s Micro Hustle won’t actually make you any money, but it can save you big bucks, and isn’t that kind of the same thing? Also, it’s a Hustle on your kids, which – I think it’s safe to say – we’re all on board for every once in a while! Enjoy! 

Ask any Mama what she loves about the fall, and nestled somewhere between a Grande PSL and putting on a cozy sweater will be taking the kids to the pumpkin patch. Because kids and pumpkins are adorable. Need proof? Fine.

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Moving on…

The pumpkin patch is AWESOME. Whether yours is in the middle of a city and has carnival style rides, a petting zoo and a concession stand or is out in the country and has apple launchers, a corn maze and homemade cider, every one is full of fun for the family.

Also, EXPENSIVE PUMPKINS.

Yes, the seedy underbelly of the pumpkin patch operation is insanely expensive pumpkins. And while you’re there for the adorable photo ops, your kids are probably there for the expensive stuff – like the rides, treats, and pumpkins. The pain that I feel in my heart – and my wallet – as I hand over a credit card to pay $20+ for a pumpkin that I can get for $3.99 at the grocery store is palpable. But what else can you do? It’s a pumpkin patch – you can’t just leave without a pumpkin!

But you can leave without a GIANT pumpkin…..

Enter…..The Pumpkin Fairy!

Oh you don’t know about the Pumpkin Fairy? Well let me introduce her to you! Because she may very well change your life at the Pumpkin Patch this year!  You see the Pumpkin Fairy is a beautiful and magical fairy that can turn tiny (read: cheap) pumpkins from the pumpkin patch into big, beautiful pumpkins – overnight!

Confession: The Pumpkin Fairy isn’t real, folks. But it can be real in your house this year if you follow these steps!

First – you gotta sell this to your kids. Start laying the groundwork immediately. Tonight, when you put them to bed, don’t forget to tell them about the legend of the Pumpkin Fairy! She’s beautiful, with orange hair and a dress made from pumpkin seeds and the stringy stuff inside the gourds! And every October she visits all the little children to turn their baby pumpkins into big magical pumpkins! (This may be harder if your kids are used to picking out a giant pumpkin at the patch, but you can talk them into it – I believe in you! I mean, who wants one of those big pumpkins, when you can have a pumpkin that has been made out of magic???)22523653_10214869927088050_2006313105_n

Then you go to the patch. Remind them of the new plan – tiny pumpkins kids! The cheaper smaller, the better! Let them pick any pumpkin they want out of that bargain bin!

When you get home, find a nice easy spot to put your pumpkins! Don’t do something stupid like put them under pillows. The Pumpkin Fairy is a LOT bigger than the Tooth Fairy and isn’t as good at sneaking around- especially after a glass of wine or two. The porch is an excellent spot.

Then, tuck the kids in.

Have a glass of wine and watch Real Housewives while you wait for them to fall asleep. You’ll be kicking yourself next year, and spending big bucks, if you get caught. Then – swap out those pumpkins with the grocery store ones you’re hiding in the trunk of the car. If you want to get REAL fancy, sprinkle some glitter around. Fairies are notorious for getting glitter on everything.

And that’s it! You saved a ton of money and made a Pinterest-worthy tradition that will have you looking like a) a money saving genius and b) Mom of the Year.

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Don’t forget, now through October 31 you can enter to win some of our favorite things! Read here for more info and click here to enter The Salty Mamas Favorite Things Giveaway! Good luck!

#fall #pumpkins #pumpkinpatch #pumpkinfairy #cheapskate #savemoney #momlife #falldecor
Let the Pumpkin Fairy help you save big bugs this year on your trip to the pumpkin patch!
momlife, Salty Mama Lists, They Said WHAT?, Why We're Salty

Things That Make Us Saltier Than They Should

Yes, sometimes as Mom’s we’re way too excited about the little things. Like an extra piece of chicken or getting a good cart at the grocery store. But on the flip side? We’re sometimes overly salty – and I’m not talking about being salty in the good way like McDonald’s fries. I’m talking about the fact that we’re chronically exhausted and under-caffeinated no matter how hard we try to drink all the Cokes  and coffees, and sometimes that makes us go from zero to salty in 2 shakes.

  1. When people order a plain old Coca Cola from a Coke Freestyle machine (we’re looking at you, Michael).  You’ve got allllll the choices in the world, and you choose to be boring. I can’t. It’s just such a waste of a Cherry-coke-esque opportunity. See Also: people who order vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting at bakeries that pride themselves on having a million flavors (I’m looking at you, Nicole).
  2. People who try to “cut” in line while merging onto the freeway. And I know I’m not alone in this. But I think it’s the teacher in me that simply cannot stomach someone breaking kindergarten rules. I’m assuming you’ve know said rule for at LEAST 11 years if you’re driving a car, and you STILL don’t know not to break it? So. Rude.
  3. People on NextDoor who are like, “Does Anyone Have a Brand New Fridge They Want to Give Away?” Or similar.   I get that there’s technically no harm in asking, and I also get that you just MIGHT find someone who feels like being a good neighbor. But I once saw requests for a new toilet, an astronomy book, and someone who would let a stranger crash on their couch for the night (!) in the same day. I know I shouldn’t be THIS annoyed by it, but I JUST AM.
  4. When my coupons won’t load at a Fast Food Place. I once refused to pay at a Taco Bell because they couldn’t scan my gift card, because I wouldn’t have gone there if I’d known their scanner was down (I feel like this is information that should have been stated upfront).  I was like, “no thanks, keep my burritos,” but ended up just getting them free instead. So I guess I’m not THAT salty about this one.
  5. Stupid questions. I hate to break it to every teacher I ever had, but there ARE stupid questions. Like my husband asking where the pajamas are. In the exact same place they’ve been since the day our child was born. You KNOW this. I know you do. Just think my love! And then I won’t LOSE.MY.MIND. For the love of God just help me out here.
  6. Places that don’t serve our preferred soda. It doesn’t matter if you’re team Coke or team Pepsi – because you’re going to be pissed half the time either way. And sometimes, it can feel like they’ve selected your soda nemesis just to spite you. They didn’t, but still. Tell that to a tired Mom that just wants her Coke. Or Pepsi.
  7. When I can’t get a spot for the kids at the YMCA. I actually feel especially bad about this one, because I’m getting a SCREAMING deal on the amount of money I spend in relation to the amount of hours I use their facilities. But still. If I really want to get in on Wednesday morning and I call Wednesday morning even though it’s totally on me and I should have called Monday? I die a little inside when they’re all filled up.
  8. Crappy creamer. It’s off in the distance – a big, beautiful carafe of free coffee, and then you get closer and there’s just a jug of that powdered stuff. Look, I’m not saying I need some soy organic lavender infused vanilla bean creamer. Hell, I don’t even need a flavored creamer. But something – anything – liquid please?
  9. Waking up at 6:17 even when the kids aren’t home. Like this morning. When the kids are at Grammy’s but they’ve trained me so good I’m up at dawn. How I miss the days when I was able to just sleep in and enjoy a lazy morning!! But at least I’ll drink my coffee while it’s hot today…

We know you all MUST have some Super-Salty-Pet-Peeves of your own.  We’d love to hear them in the comment section!

(And yes we DO know these are all first world problems, thank you very much. We also get salty about important things too, but let’s be honest, we’re not laughing about those, and neither would you. So this list is gonna have to do for now.)

 

#momlife #salty #momhumor
If the Daddy’s ask us where the pajamas are one more time we’ll lose it! Check out the 8 other things that make us super salty!

 

 

momlife, Recipes, Tips & Hacks

Ten Meals that Take Twenty(ish) Minutes

What mom (or human, for that matter) doesn’t know the struggle of trying to get a decent meal on the table on the regular? Between work and extra-curriculars and homework and bedtime, getting dinner prepped and ready has to happen on an economy level. We don’t always have hours to chop and marinate and baby a meal until it’s ready, just crossing our fingers that the toddler won’t wake up before we’re done micro-dicing this onion, whatever THAT means. And nothing is worse than slaving over a meal that, after all that prep and hard work, kind of sucks.

So The Salty Mamas scoured the internet for recipes that are the triple threat of being easy, simple, AND tasty. Some DO take a little longer than twenty minutes, but that’s usually only the first time you make the recipe. After that, it should be smooth(er) sailing. And now, for your dining pleasure, may we present The Salty Mamas Guide to Meals that Take Twenty(Ish) Minutes.

1. This Beef and Brocolli Recipe from Rainy Day Gal will knock your SOCKS off with flavor. If I may say so, it is VERY close to what you might find in an (Americanized) Chinese restaurant. And as  a bonus, you can use cheaper cuts of beef than you normally can, so it doesn’t blow your grocery budget either.

2. Okay, so it doesn’t sound super appealing, but you’ll have to trust us on this one- this 8 Can Taco Soup Recipe from High Heels and Grills is the real deal.  It is quite literally the easiest thing I know how to make, and the flavor can’t be beat.

3. BuzzFeed’s recipe for One Pan Pesto Chicken Pasta is mouth-wateringly good, and so simple to make. And it’s pasta, so even my kids like it.

4. While we’re talking about BuzzFeed’s love for pesto, don’t forget to take a look at their Pesto Chicken and Veggies recipe. Simple, colorful, and its flavor is on-point.

5 and 6. Everybody loves tacos, and The Salty Mamas (and the little salties!) are no exception. For chicken tacos, we’re partial to these Spicy Chicken Tacos from The Cookie Rookie. When it comes to beef, we love these similar Oven Baked Beef Tacos from One Good Thing. (We’ve made her homemade crunchy taco shells, and they were super good, but honestly, I always forgot they were in the oven and burnt them up. So we stick to storebought now.)

7. This Mediterranean Chicken Salad Recipe from Cafe Delites is so fresh, clean, and delicious. I’m not the griller in our family, so I cut the chicken into pieces before marinating, and then brown in a pan on the stovetop. You will spend more time prepping this one than some of the others, but it’ll be worth it!

8. You can’t go wrong with these Ham and Cheese Sliders (Well, unless you don’t like ham. Or cheese. But you know what I mean.) They are made on Hawaiian Rolls and come out so melty and savory and amazing, and my kids like them, too. They are easy to “deconstruct” as our friends at Super Mom Hacks like to say, so they can easily become plain old ham and cheese sandwiches (or even ham, cheese, and rolls served separately, thank you very MUCH) for your pickier eaters.

9. Give these Chicken Avocado Burritos from Gimme Delicious a try (well, when avocados aren’t a million dollars each, that is).  They are light and refreshing, but still pack a big flavor punch.

10. My husband and I love this Beef Udon Noodle Stir Fry from Damn Delicious. It is a little bit on the spicier side, which my kids can’t handle, so I put aside a serving for each of the kids before adding any heat.

Like all mothers everywhere, we are constantly on the lookout for great recipes that don’t take forever to make, and we’ll add them to our Quick Meals the Whole Family Will Love Pinterest Board as we find them. Make sure to give the board a follow so you don’t miss out on any of our great finds in the future!

What are your family’s go to meals for busy nights? We’d love to hear what works for you in the comments section!

The best twenty-minute meals for moms to make after work, before soccer, or anytime in between! #dinnerideas
Ten delicious meals that can be made in twenty minutes or less! Read more at thesaltymamas.com #quickrecipes

 

Kids' Activities, koefoe party of 5, momlife, parenting, The Salties, Threenagers, Traditions

Halloween Hysteria

As a proper 21st century Mom living in a Pinterest world, I start thinking about Halloween in about March. Not because I’m going to do anything crazy like come up with handmade family costumes that I’m going to start working on or anything. No, I’ve just got to come up with a concept so that by the time September rolls around I have a fully flushed out idea of what kind of family costume I’m going to buy. Because every year I have it in my head that THIS is the year that everyone’s going to want to collaborate on something. Plus, October is BUSY. Like, super busy. We have our wedding anniversary, my birthday, oh, and I was due to have a baby October 5th. So I figured if I could get us all organized, you know, BEFORE I had the baby that would be ideal.

Last year was the year of 1,001 ideas. We were going to have Mommy, Daddy, 3 year old Cole, an almost 2 year old Evie, and a tiny baby girl – who we estimated would be about three and a half weeks old. And man – OH MAN – did I have ideas!

Pitch ideas included:

Circus: Daddy – Ringleader, Cole – Strong Man, Evie – tightrope walker, Mommy – Lion tamer, Baby as lion!

Zootopia: Daddy – Chief Bogo, Cole – Nick Wild, Evie – Judy Hopps, Mommy – Gazelle, BABY AS BELLWEATHER! (Side note: I DIE for babies dressed as lambs!)

USC Inspired: Daddy -Coach, Cole –  Football player, Evie – Cheerleader, Mommy – Referee, BABY AS MY YELLOW FLAG!!!

Wizard of Oz: Daddy – Scarecrow, Cole – Cowardly Lion, Evie – Tin(wo)man, Mommy – Dorothy, BABY AS TOTO! How cute would that be???

But alas, NONE of my ideas stuck.

I spent hours, days, weeks, begging my kids to tell me what they’d like to be. Something fun, cool, creative! But Cole wanted to be a ghost. I took to Pinterest and showed him every ghost I could. I scoured Amazon, Costco and eventually Halloween stores. Nothing. That was not what he wanted. He wanted to be just a regular ghost. Not a scary ghost or a happy ghost or Casper the friendly ghost. He specifically wanted to be “a sheet ghost.” I tried to change his mind up until about 3:00 on Halloween afternoon. I just knew he was going to change his mind at the last minute. He swore he wouldn’t, so I went and found an old white sheet. I held it up and showed him and he said, “Yep, just like that.” I asked what to do and he instructed me to cut two eyes – and that’s it. That was how he wanted his ghost. We adjusted the length, and ended up cutting slits for his arms.

As we got ready to go trick-or-treating, I grabbed his Buzz Lightyear costume and shoved it in my purse – just in case he got tired of his ghost costume, or decided once he saw all kids dressed as Catboy and Spiderman and all the Paw Patrol dogs he’d be wondering why he was just wearing a freaking sheet.

But I was wrong.

LORDY was I wrong.

The kid was the happiest ghost you have ever seen. He ran from house to house, LOVING Halloween. He was soooo proud of his costume and would announce at every house, “I’m a GHOST! But not a real ghost – just pretend!” And as I watched him, and laughed, and just LOVED that little boy, I realized that’s what Halloween is about.

It’s not about the perfect family costume. It’s about finding pure joy in a busted old sheet.

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#Halloween #costumes #fall #kids #kidscostumes #familycostumes
The countdown to Halloween is ON. Read about how Christine got all kinds of caught up in the Pinterest Perfect Halloween last year. And why she gave up.
momlife, Salty Mama Lists, Why We're Salty

Five Things We Hate About Fall (And A Few Things We Love)

If you’ve been on the internet for six minutes or more in the last week, you’ll have heard the good news: Fall is HERE! And everyone LOVES IT.

Which is cool, fall’s our favorite season, too. Both of The Salty Mamas have birthdays in October. We have a Salty Baby in October, an anniversary in October, and despite our conflicting feelings on all things pumpkin, neither of us will turn down a yummy baked good. In fact, we like fall so much, we liked it in 2004 when everyone was freaking out over summer.

But now fall is on trend. Which, fine. I guess. The truth is, it makes us a little Salty.

SO, despite how much we LOVE the season, we’ve decided to keep it real and tell you the things we actually don’t love about it. Continue reading “Five Things We Hate About Fall (And A Few Things We Love)”

Bouncing Babies, momlife, Recipes, The Wonderful Ones

Toddler Muffins Recipe

Are you looking for an easy breakfast and snack idea for your toddlers? Well your Pinterest search is over! This easy recipe has all of the good stuff- whole grains, fruits, veggies, and even protein- with (less) of the “bad stuff.”  As a bonus, they freeze wonderfully and can be made in a mini-muffin pan, so that you can give your toddler what they need, even with their ever-changing appetites.

Note: We have tried a few different substitutions to eliminate brown sugar from this recipe, but none of them had the result we were looking for. So we decided to stick with a bit of sugar for the sake of keeping the recipe appealing to little ones. If you have toddlers over the age of one, two tablespoons of honey may be the closest substitute we can recommend. 

Also Note: We only tried to lower the sugar content so we wouldn’t feel as guilty about the three cupcakes the kid would be eating laterEnjoy! Continue reading “Toddler Muffins Recipe”

Effing Four Year Olds, momlife, parenting, The Salties

Torrez of the Day

A few weeks ago, in a fit of desperation, I had a rare stroke of genius.

“The kid who cleans up the most blocks gets to be the Torrez of the Day!”

My son, aged one and a half, pretty much did nothing. Because…aged one and a half.

But my Four Year Old? Whoa. Continue reading “Torrez of the Day”

momlife, The Salties, Threenagers, Tips & Hacks, Why We're Salty

Picture Day Preparations. And Why to Let Them Go.

Last year was my son’s first school picture day. And I. Was. Ready. I may have a lot of Mom fails – I don’t have the perfect set of first day of school traditions. I have forgotten for a solid year to prep my son’s emergency kit. Today I didn’t realize until it was too late that I had basically nothing for my kids’ lunches. But picture day? That’s one of those days that I ROCK. Shopping, practicing, pep talking to the kids – we slay picture day. But now, a year later, I realize that I had put a tad bit too much pressure onto picture day.

My guess is, you have to. We all do. But we NEED TO STOP. So here are three things to just LET GO of on picture day.

1. The perfect outfit.
If my Mom had it her way, I would have worn a corduroy jumper every year on picture day until I graduated college. I hated it. Because I was not a corduroy jumper girl. I’m sure that on more than one occasion I screamed at her, “I’ll NEVER make my kids wear a stupid corduroy jumper if they don’t want to!” Fast forward to Cole’s first picture day. And no, I did not make my son wear a jumper.

But damned if I did not force him into FREAKING. CORDUROY. PANTS. Like, is there some weird genetic inclination in my family?? I don’t know. All I know is that my son – who had NEVER worn corduroy before – was wearing it on picture day. And he hated it.

Looking back? I should probably have let him pick what he wanted to wear. Because it’s HIS picture day too. A snap in time of who HE is. Not who Mommy was making him be. Even if just for a day.
2. Hair.
Okay, I’m not saying have your kid roll out of bed and head off to picture day. Run a brush through that bad boy. Maybe even bust out some product. Have a girl? Have an entire treasure chest full of clips and headbands that she refuses to wear? Bad news – she ain’t gonna suddenly love headbands and hair clips just because it really means a lot to you today. Maybe you can bribe her. Maybe he’ll agree. But keep your expectations LOW.

I killed myself and got into the biggest fight my son and I have ever had over his hair that morning. In the end, it was perfect. He was so. Freaking. Handsome.

And then I got the proofs of the picture. And wondered what the hell happened. Because his head looked like it had been through a blender. So unless your kid is going to sit in a chair with their hands strapped down until the picture is taken? It’s probably not worth the grief.

3. Smile.
Fun fact: There is NOTHING your kid will love more than you yelling at them to “smile!,” and then telling them they’re doing it wrong.

Follow up: Your kid’s smile will actually NOT get more natural if you tell them repeatedly, “That isn’t your real smile! It doesn’t look natural!”

Photographers generally know what they’re doing. They can make your kid laugh. And if they can’t, none of your coaching is going to change that. Trust me. I coached Cole all day and he had his smile down. It was amazing. And let me tell you – I ended up with not a single one of those well-rehearsed smiles.

Truth be told? Some of my favorite pictures – of my kids and my friends – are the one’s where they’re not smiling! Especially if they’re not smiley kids! Evie was a GRUMPY CAT when she was a baby. She was born with a pouty bottom lip. So when we went and got professional pictures taken and I chose to keep one with her resting B face, the photographer couldn’t understand it. But that’s what she looks like! That’s the face I’m going to want to remember forever, way more than a fake plastered smile.

I know what you’re thinking, uh, Christine – outfit, hair and smile are basically ALL the elements of picture day. What am I supposed to stress out about then?

Nothing.

Just let it be.

Easy for me to say? Maybe. Or maybe I say it because I tried. I tried so hard. I had the perfect outfit. We got his hair to be on point. And he left the house with a picture perfect smile that would make you swoon. And then, even then, we got…..the picture.

And now, I present to you, the best, most epic, you WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED EVEN WITH ALL THE HYPE school picture, you may have ever seen. Just let it all soak in. You’re welcome. And happy picture day.

 

The Most EPIC School Pic EVER!
Trying to get the “perfect” school picture? We were too – and got this!
Effing Four Year Olds, koefoe party of 5, momlife, parenting, Salty Mama Lists, Why We're Salty

Seven Skills They Didn’t Teach You in Parenting Class

For a first time Mom, I felt incredibly prepared when my son was born. I had 17 nieces and nephews and had been around kids a LOT. I was ready to change diapers. I wasn’t afraid of the dreaded first cold. I knew all the first aid and CPR you could want. I was prepared. And then the kids showed up and I learned all the things I hadn’t learned.

You probably haven’t learned all the things either. Add these to your to-do list.

  1. How to throw a ball.

Okay, I’m not a complete athletic disaster. I can throw a ball. But it’s actually WAY harder to throw a ball to a three year old than to another able bodied adult. You have to somehow throw it really slow. And make sure to avoid hitting them in the face. Because they won’t just catch the ball if it’s about to hit them. They’ll wait, let it hit them, and then freak out about it. And then make you throw it again and again until your arm falls off.

  1. How to draw every animal in existence.

Before I was a Mom I’m not sure I’d ever drawn a rhinoceros. Or a “water dinosaur.” I know I didn’t draw the animals/monsters/creatures that my children imagine – and then request for me to draw. To their exact, but undescribed, specifications. But I do know that a lot of the time my drawings are not up to my children’s standards. I should have spent more of my first pregnancy in an avant garde art class taught by opinionated toddlers. If they have one of these in your area, it will be worth every penny.

  1. How to move silently through a house.

When we were house shopping, I did not walk through the house listening for squeaky floorboards. FATAL mistake. Because there’s a board in my son’s room that has almost destroyed me. After spending countless hours lying on his floor praying he’ll fall asleep, the last thing I want to do is wake him up stepping on that board. Squeaky doors? I’m just going to take them all of their hinges. Or go to some sort of cat burglar crash course in how to be more sneaky.

4. How to Remove Objects from a Nose

Maybe you think this is covered under basic first aid, but not so, my friends.  There are actual techniques for this sort of thing.  For example, do not put any kind of finger or tool up there. Is it close enough to the nostril that you can pinch above it and push it out? Or should you try to blow it out like in that viral video that’s been going around (doctors say no, by the way, so THANKS FOR NOTHING VIRAL VIDEO)? Or do you have to go to freaking urgent care over this?? No one prepared us for A.) That level of decision making. B.) That kind of medical know-how.

5. Tetris Level Packing Skills

No one told me that I should have been spending WAY more time playing Tetris in preparation for parenthood. From packing a diaper bag, to packing my car for a day trip, to packing my daughter’s backpack on show and tell today (which is much more complicated than one would originally believe, I assure you), I use way more spatial awareness on the daily than I ever imagined I would.

6. Emotional Awareness of Others, Bordering on Psychic Ability

In the thirteen seconds it takes from when my daughter first appears in the dismissal line to when her teacher hands her over at the gate, I have to decide what kind of mood she is in and how to react appropriately. Will a big hug make her push me or melt her like a popsicle? Should I dare ask how school went? Does she want to walk or should I prepare for a battle about whether or not I am going to carry her to the car? It seems like an impossible task, one I am certainly untrained for. But I gotta say…for an impossible task, I’m getting pretty darn good at it.

7. How to Put Gloves on a Child

Ooooohhhhh, you think this is easy? That’s cute. Because guess what? Kids can’t move one finger at a time. And eight of their little fingers fit into one glove finger. So you sit there like a rational adult saying “Move this finger, no pull this one one, okay put the big one back in, no not that one, the other one, wait, now we’re back how we started!,” before you realize that you are fighting a losing battle. Better to take your chances with frostbite and save your sanity.

What other skills do you wish they’d told you that you’d need as a parent?

7 things they should have taught you in parenting school. Except for they don't HAVE parenting school. They totally should, btw. Read more at thesaltymamas.com.

 

Kids' Activities, momlife, parenting

Get Outside

This post contains affiliate links. The Salty Mamas may receive a small commission from items purchased after clicking the links.  Additionally, we’d like to thank SourceBooks for providing a book, “15 Minutes Outside,” for a giveaway. Thank you for supporting us!

Are your kids getting enough time outside each day? Find out here, along with a list of great ways to play outside with your kids!

According to experts, kids are supposed to spend at least two hours a day playing outside.

Stop and take that in for a second. TWO. HOURS.

Now this may seem crazy when you think about the amount of time your kids are at school, or the amount of time you are at work. But when you think back to when you were a little kid, it might not seem that ridiculous.  I remember getting home from school and taking off on my bike with my friends. Or exploring the creek next to our house for hours.  Or playing endless pretend in our backyard, or gardening with my mom, or swimming in our (above-ground) pool. There was SO much time outdoors, that it wasn’t even a thing. It was just something that we did. Do I think my mom worried about meeting the required two hours each day? Uh, no. Because that was not a thing back then. You just sent the dang kids out.

And we (I’m talking societally here), just don’t do that anymore.  Even when you talk about going “screen free” or unplugged, it usually means board games and books and hours of playdough play.  It’s not considered safe for kids to roam around on their own, and our green spaces are kind of being eaten up.  So we have to make up for it somehow, as forced as it may seem at times.  Because yes, it is another “requirement” of childhood, but from a scientific perspective, it is crucial (check out this article from the New York Post if you want to read more about this). Kids who spend more time outside are less likely to be obese and are less likely to be diagnosed with attention-related disorders.  Time spent in green spaces is good for anxiety and depression, and reduces stress-and that goes for little kids and grown ups alike. We were biologically just meant to spend time outside, and we have to make sure that’s happening for our little ones, and our bigger kids, too.

 

IMG_20170730_131845132I recently read a book called “15 Minutes Outside” by author Rebecca Cohen, that gives hundreds of concrete, easy examples on how to get your kids outside. And most of the ideas aren’t even that big of a deal. Take a basket of books into the backyard on a blanket and read there. Or eat your dinner at the local park. Take a nature walk through your neighborhood, or go on your balcony and make wishes on the first early stars.  I tend to think of outdoor play as an adventure, requiring prep and large stretches of time, but this book really helped me to see that those little stretches can add up over time and make a big difference. Not only in the amount of time you spend outside, which, obviously. But also in the amount of quality time spent together as a family.

So let’s all make an effort this week to get up, and get our kids out. Start small, and make a concerted effort to get out for just a little bit longer today than you usually do. The change of scenery may just do everyone some good.

 

Looking for more ideas on how to get out with your family and play? Here are six easy ways to get started.

  1. Take an Art Project Outside, like our friends at Little Mama Jama with this fun Minion footprint art. Read the instructions for this project here, or take any paints/crayons/chalk outside and create under a shady tree.
  2. Get Some Open Ended Toys. Here’s a list of really cool, open ended outdoor toys from Real Mom Recs. Most of them are fairly low-maintenance, low-prep ways to get your kids out and having fun.
  3. Put a Twist on Water Play. This little “fishing” game is the perfect way for your kiddos to practice learning to spell their name while they are getting wet outside.  It does take a bit of initial prep, but once you have it made, you can bring it out any time you need to change up your water play.
  4. Go On a Nature Walk. My kids had always been reluctant to amble around the neighborhood, until we put this fun twist on the standard stroll. Go on a nature walk- give your kids bags to collect items in nature (think flowers, leaves, etc.) and look for wildlife. You can even find printable Nature Scavenger Hunt checklists here to add some more fun and structure to your walk.
  5. Play some old school games. These little games have been around forever- and for good reason! Here is a list of old school games you can play outside with your children (or that they can play with the neighbors while you sit on the porch with a glass of wine lemonade. I’m just saying).
  6. Looking for even more outside fun? Imperfectly Perfect Mama has come up with a list of 50 fun and simple ways to get your kids outdoors.

 

Want to win your own copy of “15 Minutes Outside?” Share this post on the social media platform of your choice (buttons below!) and comment “Shared” here.  Giveaway is sponsored by SourceBooks, the publisher of “15 Minutes Outside.” Open to US and Canada only (sorry, International Salties!). Giveaway will close on Friday, September 29 at midnight PST and the winner will be announced by Sunday, October 1st. Good luck, and happy playing!

Our giveaway has closed, and our lucky winner is Lauren from explorermomma.com. Congratulations, Lauren! We’ll be contacting you soon to find out where to send your copy of 15 Minutes Outside, courtesy of SourceBooks. Thanks again to all who participated, and happy playing!