Tips and Resources for Encouraging Creativity in Children

Tips for Encouraging Creativity in Children - Creative Play - Art for Children - How to encourage kids to be creative

5 Tips for Encouraging Creativity in Children

  1. Sit with your child on the floor and play for 5-10 minutes WITH them. I like to use this time to model out of the box ideas…or even silly ideas. You know your child, so make it something they WANT to do. Then say, “Now I need to go _______. You keep playing, and I will come back when I am done.” When you finish your task, check in on your child. It might be time to find something new to do, but they MIGHT be interacting in play. Let them be if they are having a good play time. I like to add encouragement, such as, “You are just having so much fun using your imagination.”

  2. Have open ended arts and crafts available. We love a good coloring book at our house and there is nothing wrong with that. BUT, your child also needs opportunities to create from scratch. This could be coloring a picture on a blank piece of paper or creating a masterpiece with miscellaneous craft supplies. Check out this post on Craft Items You Should Keep At Home.

  3. Have building toys available. This is one of my favorites, because I have loved seeing growth take place in my own daughter. Again, sit with your child and build along side him or her. Model how you create a structure. Then step back. If your child is having a hard time coming up with a great idea, give him some ideas. Some of my favorites are: build a playground for your babies (jumbo blocks), build a house for (insert favorite character), or build a town. After giving ideas, a lot of times your child’s imagination will start to take over.

  4. Have open ended toys that encourage pretend play. Some examples would be dress up clothes, play kitchen, play food items, baby dolls, baby doll strollers, plastic animal figurines, fort building kit or materials, doctor kits, blocks, train sets, and, of course my favorite, sensory bins.

  5. One of the most important ways to encourage creativity in your little one is to STEP BACK. Give your child some space. This might be painful. This might take some time, but that is the main way your child is going to learn to PLAY and CREATE on their own. Don’t you want that for your child?

Resources for Encouraging Creativity in Children

**Stay At Home Momming is part of the Amazon affiliate marketing program. This means that if you click and/or make a purchase through certain links on this site, I may receive a SMALL commission from the purchase. All opinions are my own.**

The Reason Breastfeeding is SO HARD

Breastfeeding is SO HARD. I have not had as hard a time as some, but I also do NOT view it as EASY or even ‘natural’. For me, the physical act of nursing came easily, but the mental side of it was a lot to deal with. It was seriously a mental battle for me.

A few months ago, I was driving down the road thinking about how many times I’ve heard the argument that God created women FOR THIS. THIS is natural, and it is what God created your body to do. While I am PRO breastfeeding, this way of thinking is dangerous.

YES, God did create our bodies to feed our babies. It is AMAZING. But a big piece of the puzzle is missing with this argument. We are living in a fallen world. EVERYTHING has been tainted by sin. THAT, friends, is why breastfeeding is so hard. That is why it just does not work for some people. That is why some babies are unable to nurse or why some moms have physical barriers that prevent nursing.

I am not trying to be a ‘Debbie Downer’ by saying these things. The only reason I am sharing this, is to give you, Momma, a little encouragement. Breastfeeding is hard because it has been tainted by sin. Praise the LORD for his mercies and grace to get us through. Praise the LORD for giving men on Earth the brains to develop infant formula for when we need it. And praise the LORD for loving us and our babies NO MATTER HOW THEY ARE FED!

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30 Fall Family Fun Activities

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I love the start of a new season. A fresh start is just something that inspires me.  With Fall right around the corner, I've been thinking of how we can make the most of this season.  I've been thinking of the fun family memories always made around the holidays.  And I AM EXCITED!! Here is a list of some of the activities we might try to squeeze in on our family fun days this fall:

  1. Carve a pumpkin
  2. Paint Pumpkins
  3. Go to Pumpkin Patch
  4. Go to a Football Game
  5. Roast Pumpkin Seeds
  6. Go and a Hayride
  7. Have a bonfire
  8. Take Fall Pictures
  9. Start a Thankful Journal
  10. Play in leaves
  11. Cook in your crockpot
  12. Visit a Farm
  13. Make S’mores
  14. Go to a Fall Festival
  15. Go to an Orchard
  16. Fall Colors Nature Hunt
  17. Donate to a Food Drive
  18. Check out Fall Books from the Library
  19. Use leaves for a craft
  20. Bake Pumpkin Bread
  21. Go to a Fair (TX State Fair)
  22. Collect Acorns
  23. Visit the Farmer’s Market
  24. Go on a Hike
  25. Make Applesauce
  26. Bake an Apple Pie
  27. Make Pumpkin playdough
  28. Make Pumpkin Moon Sand
  29. Decorate for Fall
  30. Make Halloween Costumes
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Morning Routine for Work At Home Moms

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This blog journey is the second time I am attempting to work from home. The first time was for the first two years of my daughter's life. I did not flourish (at all) working from home then. Thankfully, I learned a lot from my mistakes, and this time around I feel like I'm doing a better job of finding the organization and balance that a side hustle needs. The main reason I feel like this is because of my morning routine.

Routine Means EVERY Day

The most important thing you need to take away from this post is that this is a ROUTINE.  This is not something I do once a week.  I TRY to do it every single day...that is really the only way this will be successful.

Wake Up EARLY

The other most important thing you need to take away from this post is that you have to wake up BEFORE your kids.  Before baby #2, I knew my oldest was going to sleep till at least 8am every day.  This meant that I did not have to wake up that early to get up before her.  Now that my little firecracker baby #2 is here, I know he's gonna wake up around 6:30.  Honestly, if they were not sharing a room, I would make him stay in his bed till 7:00, but that doesn't work right now with big sissy still trying to sleep in the room. So I've learned the hard way over the past few months, and I now wake up by 5:30.  I know it is EARLY. But you get used to it.  I think the thing that helped make it easier for me was to realize that it was more important to have a successful day with my kiddos than to have those few more minutes of sleep.

Benefits of a Morning Routine

First and foremost adults and kids know what to expect when there is a routine in place, and you are able to plan around that routine.  If you know that your kids are gonna wake up at 7:00, then you can plan how early you need to wake up based on that time.

Like I said earlier, I have never loved mornings.  It is really important to me to be able to wake up before my kids so that I can wake up slowly.  If I wake up the same time as the kids, I spend the rest of the day feeling tired and like a walking zombie...I NEED the time to sit and drink coffee so I can fuel up for the day!

Lastly, waking up early helps me to not start the day out behind. When I wake up before the kids, I am able to be prepare for the day ahead. I am able to get my head on straight and know what I am trying to do when.

Break Down of My Morning Routine

  1. Quiet Time/Bible Study-I just spend this time studying God's word. 
  2. Make To Do List and Look Over Planner-I make my to do list for the day if I didn't do that the night before.  Then I look over my planner to make sure I'm not missing anything coming up.
  3. Start on To Do List-Then I just start to tackle that to do list until the kids wake up. Once they wake up, I leave it to rest until nap.
  4. Morning 5- I read about this years ago, and I've really been doing this for about 2 years now.  It has made such a huge difference in my life.  I have identified the 5 things I need to do each morning to make me feel like I had a successful day as a mom and a wife.  My morning 5 includes a quiet time for myself, bible story with the kids, unload the dishwasher, make beds, and spend time with my kiddos.  Making sure I do these things first thing every morning helps set me up for success. AND, if I don't accomplish anything else that day, I still feel successful.

Exceptions to My Routine

As always, there are exceptions to every rule.  Although I do my very best to make myself get out of bed before the kids every morning, there are days that sleep is more important that my to do list.  For example, when I was pregnant with baby #2, I hardly ever woke up before my oldest.  Sleep won that war, hands down.  When I have spent the majority of the night up and down taking care of a sick or teething baby, sleep wins. And when we are traveling or just completely out of our routine, sleep wins.

Give yourself grace in these times.  We are not robots.  We are sinners living in an imperfect world where things go wrong. It is what it is.  Do your best to drag yourself out of bed, but don't beat yourself up if you just need some more sleep.

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Baby Sleep Products We Can't Live Without

I know how weird this is going to sound, but I am so passionate about the topic of baby sleep.  I can't help it.  It has just been such a huge blessing to me as a mom.  I want others to experience that blessing, as well.

We all know that every baby is different and different things work for different people.  But today, I want to share with you the FIVE baby sleep products that BOTH of my kiddos have loved.  These 5 things have really helped both of my littles to learn to love to sleep. Click the picture to go directly to the product.

Noise Maker

This goes number one on my list for a reason.  If you don't buy anything else to help your children sleep, buy this.  This is great for all ages (even adults)! Not only do noisemakers help newborns adjust to life outside of their mother's womb, noisemakers also help block out noise that might disturb older babies, toddlers, and preschoolers while they sleep.  I have found that by only using the noisemaker while sleeping helps teach my kids that if the white noise is playing then it is time to sleep. This is my favorite noisemaker.

Sleep Sack

I also think a sleep sack is very important.  First, it helps you know that your child is warm without the risk of a blanket in the bed.  Second, it helps those older babies not able to move around quite as much. And, third, it is just another tool to use to signal bedtime.  My eight month old's eyes start getting heavy the second I turn on the noisemaker and zip him into his sleep sack.

***If you have a newborn, I suggest using the Miracle Blanket swaddle, and I absolutely loved the Magic Merlin's Sleep Suit from three to 6 months. At 6 months (or whenever baby starts to roll in the Magic Merlin's Sleep Suit), I like to start using a regular sleep sack...I prefer the Halo Sleep Sack***

Paci

I know that some people are just completely against pacifiers, and that is OK. BUT, I am not against them...I am very much FOR pacifiers.  Both of my kiddos have loved the Wubanub. Any pacifier you want to use is fine.  I like to offer multiple wubanubs in the crib.  That way if the baby rolls to the other end of the crib while sleeping, they have a better chance of finding a wubanub when they wake in between sleep cycles. I also offer opportunities to practice independently placing the paci/wubanub in their mouth.  It is a glorious day when they place that paci in themselves for the first time!!

Night Time Diapers

When my first was a baby, a friend from church shared this tip with me...it literally changed everything.  Not only do we use night time diapers every single night, but we use one size up from what they normally wear.  So if your baby wears a size 3 diaper during the day, put them in a size 4 night time diaper.  We only ever use Pampers Baby Dry or Target brand Night time.

Comfy Pj's

Lastly, I really notice a difference when my kiddos are in really comfy PJ's.  My personal favorite are the Cloud Island Brand from Target, but they don't have 12 month in the footie pj's, so I like the Carter's ZIP UP sleep and play sets also. We're really loving the footless ones in this summer heat!

And that's a wrap! Those are my top 5, can't live without baby sleep products. Comment with questions! And, as always, follow on Instagram for daily tips!

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**Stay At Home Momming is part of the Amazon affiliate marketing program. This means that if you click and/or make a purchase through certain links on this site, I may receive a commission from the purchase. All opinions are my own.**

  

Why I Think Sleep Training Your Baby Is Important

Sleep Training...there are SO many opinions out there about sleep training.  I’m not writing this to shame anyone. I do not think that my opinion is the ONLY correct opinion.  I just want to share MY reasons for sleep training MY babies. Having babies that sleep well has been such a blessing to me, as a mom, and I want to share my reasons with you.  

If you are against sleep training, guess what? That’s ok. I respect your opinion. And this article probably is not for you.  If you LOVE sleep training, read on and enjoy. If you are on the fence about how to handle sleep with your new baby or soon to be baby, read on. I hope that this article encourages you.

Like I said earlier, there are so many different opinions out there regarding sleep training.  Of course, when I was pregnant with my first I wanted to have a ‘good sleeper’. So I spent lots of time reading lots of different opinions about sleep training...and, let me tell you, there are some STRONG opinions. I took different approaches from different places and made my own ‘plan’.  Really, I just purposed to teach healthy sleep habits from the very beginning. While I do think that my approach to sleep training has played a huge role in the happiness of my family, I realize that it is not for everyone. BUT, here are MY reasons for sleep training:

WELL RESTED BABIES = HAPPY BABIES

When you have a bad night sleep, how do you feel the next day? Tired? Grumpy? Not ready to be sociable?  Yep, that’s how I feel, too. AND I think that’s how babies feel also. A tired baby is a grumpy baby. End of story. When you teach your child to sleep, you are helping set them up for success.  Now does this mean that every single day they will be the happiest baby ever? Of course not, but it does mean that there is a better chance of them being the happiest baby ever. I firmly believe that the reason BOTH of my kiddos were/have been happy babies is because they sleep well.

ROUTINE BRINGS CALM TO CHAOS

I do not know if this one is more for me or for the kiddos, but there is just something about knowing the plan that brings calm to our house.  We have a bedtime that we try to stick to, and, let me tell you, how calming it is to know that at 7:00 the baby is going down for the night (PS-He’s crying as I write this at 10 PM--gotta keep me humble!).  My point is, a regular routine helps us to have consistent nights of good sleep. We do not go into the night wondering how many times we will have to get up, but we go into the night looking forward to getting the rest and sleep that we need.

SELF-CARE IN ITS FINEST FORM

Self-care is such a huge topic these days amongst young moms. I’m glad. I’m all about self-care, and, in my life, sleep training has been that BEST form of self-care for myself. I have time to take a shower every night after the kids go down.  I have time to wake up BEFORE they do to have some time to myself...I spend this time with a cup of coffee and a quiet time.  Of course, there are days this doesn’t happen, and those days remind me just how important it is to have that time in the mornings.

I’M ABLE TO HAVE TIME WITH MY HUSBAND

My husband and I are able to spend time together. If our kiddos’ sleep was all over the map, we would not have consistent time to invest in each other.  Marriage is hard. It is harder after kiddos enter your world and take up 99% of your time. So, after the kids are in bed and the kitchen is clean, we get to hang out...even if all we do is watch Designated Survivor and go to bed before 10!

SLEEP MAKES ME A BETTER MOM

Lastly, sleep makes me a better mom.  I have never done well on little sleep.  I NEED sleep. When I am rested, I am a much better mom.  I have the energy to invest in my little ones, and I have the energy to accomplish the household tasks I need to accomplish to keep our house running smoothly FOR our little ones.

In short, sleep training helps all of us thrive. It has been the BEST thing for our family.  I do not regret one second of teaching my kids how to sleep well.

Did you sleep train your kiddos?  Leave a comment with how it has blessed you!

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Weekly Summer Fun

Now that I have my daily summer schedule set, I want to make a weekly plan.  The reason I also want a weekly plan is so that I can make sure I am offering a wide range of experiences instead of doing the same things over and over. Of course, Pinterest was a great help in setting this plan. Make sure you read to the bottom to see a free printable for planning each week!

Messy Monday + Movie Monday

Messy Monday’s will be spent doing crafts that make a mess or making a sensory activity to play with during the week...or maybe even just playing in mud!  Emma LOVES a good craft and gets really into sensory bins... So I am always thinking of ideas that I think she would love (and that focus on necessary skills). To see what we do on Messy Monday’s follow us on Instagram.

We also love movies at our house, so Movie Monday was a must for us.  We will make a special snack (normally popcorn with M&M’s) and cuddle up on the couch for a movie.  We will mostly stick to movies found on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Take a Trip Tuesday + Tidy up Tuesday

On Tuesday we will GET OUT OF THE HOUSE.  My next post will be full of ideas for summer outings with young kids.  Sometimes outings can be a lot of trouble and stress mommy out, but they are so good for the soul...for mommy and kiddos both.  Sometimes it will be just the three of us, and sometimes we will go with friends.

Most Tuesday nights we host our community group from church, so Tidy Up Tuesday is very important.  I include Emma in cleaning up and preparing our home for guests. This is a very teachable moment, and something that I feel is very important for her to learn.  We want her to grow up in a home where others always feel welcome and loved. Also, having a set time to clean helps me to stay on top of housework...I tend to let things pile up if I don't have a set time to complete housework.

Water Fun Wednesday

Water Fun Wednesday will probably be Emma’s favorite day of the week...not sure about Robert!  We are fortunate enough to have access to a pool where we live. Last summer, we could go and stay for hours at a time.  I’m sure we will spend most Water Wednesday’s at our pool. But sometimes we will venture out to a splash pad, or we will head to The Dallas Arboretum for some water fun.

Take a Trip Thursday + Thoughtful Thursday

Just like on Tuesday, every Thursday I plan to get us out of the house. We will also have Thoughtful Thursday.  I plan to spend this time making cards, a special craft, or even a fun video to send to our out of town family. This is a great way to keep Emma connected to our families since we do not live close.  This is also a great way to help her learn how to think of others.

Fun with Food Friday

And, lastly, Fridays will be spent cooking or baking. I am excited to be more intentional about spending time with my children in the kitchen.  Sometimes I am hesitant to do this because of the mess that will surely ensue, but I will purpose in my heart to just get over that this summer.

If you made it to the bottom of this post, thank you! I look forward to sharing our summer adventures with you over the next few months. Follow along on Instagram to see the details from each week!

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Summer Schedule with a Baby and a Preschooler

As I mentioned in my last post about summer, Emma and I LOVE a routine.  I actually have a hard time getting anything accomplished if I do not have a routine in place.  It took me lots of years to learn that, so now that I know this about myself I can actually do something about it. Emma goes to preschool 3 days a week during the school year, so our summer schedule looks completely different than our school year schedule (although lots of routines stay the same).

Before I begin, it is important that you understand that I see a schedule as more of a goal for each day.  Some days it works. Some days its a flop. The days that it works, we thrive. We typically struggle on the days the schedule doesn’t work for us, but that is ok.  What a great teachable moment...even if things don’t go as planned, we move forward with smiles on our faces.

Next, it is important that you understand that, as the mommy, I make or break the schedule.  The schedule simply will not happen if I do not do my part. This means getting going first thing in the morning.  Sure, we will have days that we have a lazy start to the morning (this means me sitting around with a second, or even third, cup of coffee), BUT it is my responsibility to get us started off each morning on the right foot. One thing that really helps me make this happen is to wake up early.  I have learned that it really makes our days so much better when I wake up early to have a quiet time and to prepare myself for the day.

So, here is our schedule:

7:00 Wake Robert up if he does not wake up on his own. Change diaper, feed, and spend a few minutes cuddling. 

7:30 Wake Emma up (some days I will let her sleep late), Breakfast and Bible time at the kitchen table.  Bible time for us is a story from The Jesus Storybook Bible, a short bible verse (we do a different one each week), and sometimes a short catechism question.

8:15 Morning Chores- Emma’s morning chores include clearing her place at the table, unloading utensils from the dishwasher, and replacing the trash bag.

8:30 Emma will get to pick a show to watch.  Robert will play with toys at his high chair in the kitchen, while I unload the dishwasher, clean the kitchen, and pack lunches.

9:00 Get dressed for the day (unless we are having a PJ day at home).

9:30 Robert goes down for nap (sometimes this will be in his bed, sometimes it will be in his carseat as we are leaving for an outing).  If we are staying home, I will take advantage of Robert’s nap time to spend some time with Emma.  I plan to do a little formal teaching during this time this summer (more on that later). But again, some days we will just play and enjoy spending time together.

11:00 Feed Robert, and head outside.  Sometimes this will be just going on a walk.  Sometimes it will be a short trip to the park or the Dallas Arboretum for a picnic and play time. The point is just to get out of the house.

1:00   Back to house, feed Robert, squeeze in a quick bath if necessary.

1:30 Nap for Robert, rest time for Emma...I'm still trying to decide exactly what rest time will look like this summer.  

3:00 Puzzles, books, or craft time for Emma

4:00 Feed Robert, Emma picks show to watch

4:30 Clean up--we like to make sure the house is clean before daddy comes home from work. This is also where I will squeeze in bath time if we didn’t do that before nap.

5:00 Emma completes lesson on ABC Mouse while I cook dinner and complete daily chores

6:00 Dinner

6:30 Feed Robert, Emma can watch a show or read books with Daddy

7:00 Bedtime

**Robert is breastfed, so his feeding schedule is not set in stone. On some days, he will eat at exactly 7, 10, 1, 4, and 6:30; but other days he will do his own thing. AND, that is OK!! Also, some days he will need to squeeze in a third nap still.**

**I like to do the kids' baths before my husband gets home from work. This allows for less stress after dinner and more relaxed family time spent together.  I realize that most moms wait till dad is home to do bath, but this is what works best for our family.**

As I said earlier, this schedule is more of a goal in my eyes.  Sometimes we are right on time every step of the way. Sometimes we might be an hour off.  Sometimes we might just throw the schedule out completely. Also, let’s just be honest, with a baby in the house, the schedule is ever changing.  I just know that, for myself, I will be much more productive and feel much better about time spent with my kids if I have a plan, or a goal for each day. I hope you will follow along with our summer fun this year (click to sign up for emails)!

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Chores for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Sometimes it is so easy to get bogged down in the day to day life with young children, and I forget the big picture.  The big picture for me is to first and foremost teach my children about the love Jesus has for us. Hands down, that is the most important.  After that, though, I think it is so important to raise our kids in a way that they can be successful adults one day. I think learning responsibility, even at an early age, can play a HUGE role in their future success.

I’ve always loved the ‘don’t do for others what they can do for themselves’ mentality when it comes to teaching children.  Sure, the socks might not get folded together exactly how I would like, but does that really matter? Is there really any eternal value in what socks look like folded? Absolutely not, but there IS eternal value in teaching our children how to function in this world and how to be responsible human beings.

Chores not only teach children to be responsible, but chores also teach children how to contribute to a group, in this case, a family unit.  It is important to teach our children that life is not about them. Requiring children to contribute to the family helps teach them to see life beyond themselves. Let’s not even mention how this prepares them for future jobs!

I personally think that it is never too early to start implementing chores into your child’s life. I do think it is important to have age appropriate chores and age appropriate expectations.  It is important to have chores your children can be successful in. You want this to be a positive experience! So, here are some chore ideas for you to teach your children.  Remember, every child is different, so tailor each child’s responsibilities to what you believe is appropriate.

Chores for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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  1. Unload the dishwasher--I recommend starting with the utensils.
    **Let's get some math practice in with SORTING!

  2. Match socks--as they get older, have them actually fold the socks.

  3. Fold rags and towels--This will not get done perfectly, so keep the big picture in mind.

  4. Put laundry away

  5. Make bed

  6. Clear place at table

  7. Wipe table off

  8. Dust

  9. Help Sweep--I have Emma hold the dust pan.

  10. Pick up toys

  11. Pick up dirty clothes

  12. Wipe down bathtub

  13. Wipe off bathroom counter

  14. Help vacuum--Emma likes to hold the cord for us while we vacuum.  She also has a play vacuum that she uses to *help* vacuum.

  15. Clean up messes--I think it is really important to not stress when children make a mess.  We don't want to teach them to get upset if they make a mess.  Instead, let's teach them to stay calm and clean up a mess they have made.

I hope these ideas inspire you to come up with different ways to have your young children contribute to your household.  I know that it can be frustrating sometimes to not have things done exactly as you like, so try to keep the big picture in mind!