10 Go-To Travel Activities for Toddlers to Elementary Kids

Traveling with kids this week?

It can be downright craziness! It can literally make any sane parent want to pull their hair out. It can go seemlessly, or it can go down like my last trip….1 million potty breaks, baby crying endlessly, parents rotating sitting in the back consoling said baby, and snacks smashed into the seats.

But whether you’re flying or driving…there are a few activities to make it go a little easier.

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  1. Magnetic Dress Up Dolls: We’ve used so many different ones and even as young as 3 my daughter enjoyed playing with these dress up boards.
  2. Block beads: My kids as young as 1 year old can self-entertain with these beads for awhile. There are alphabet ones, farm ones, butterfly ones, and  more to fit your child’s interest.
  3. Aqua Doodle: A super simple way to allow your kids to draw without the worry of crayons or markers in the car.
  4. Imaginary Ink: Along the same lines as the aqua doodle, imaginary ink pads and magic markers can be great options for mess free coloring.
  5. Usborne Sticker books:Related image
  6. Wikki Stix: I love these for a variety of reasons. I use them in my work as an OT and love that kids can create letters, animals, and so much more with them.
  7. Melissa & Doug Reuseable Sticker Pads: My kids love stickers. And reuseable ones make it even longer lasting entertainment.
  8. Finger Puppets: I don’t know about your kids, but my kids can sit and talk for hours….especially when they can let their fingers talk to their other fingers.
  9. Lacing Cards: Geared towards the older toddler
  10. Busy Bags: Cards, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, plastic spoons, and many other objects can keep a toddler-elementary aged child busy (at least for a little while!)
  11. Bonus Tips: Lots of snacks! Food always keeps my kiddos entertained!

I’d love to hear if you have any other go to activities. And yes, these are all inspired by my OT mama brain too!

Regardless of wherever you are going or how you are traveling, I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

xoxo-

renae

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Affiliate Disclosure: I’m a huge believer in transparency and authenticity and so I am disclosing that I’ve included certain products and links to those products on this site that I will earn an affiliate commission for any purchases you make (with no extra cost to you!). These commissions help enable me to provide more and expand my services for you! So thanks for your support!

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Need a date night?

Totally in need of a date night, ya?

Would you say a date night is a necessity or luxury? When was the last time you had a date night?

Let’s be real….planning it, getting a babysitter, going out, it just sounds so overwhelming.  I want to enjoy the time out with my hubs but I want the relaxation….I want the connection. I want the intention of spending time with him without all the headache and stress.

In walks Date In a Box. I saw this pop up on my instagram feed and LOVED the idea immediately. Um, yes! All the date makings arriving in a box at my door? Sign me up! And I have to admit, it was so fun!

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So after the kids were in bed….we snuggled up on the couch, turned on the spotify playlist that came with the date, lit the candle, simmered up the spiced tea, and connected.

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It wasn’t elaborate.  It wasn’t a fancy dinner (although there were suggestions for a dinner you can access on their website) and it wasn’t a night out. But it was a great way to connect and have a date night in!

Perfect Gifts for the Mom with Young Kids

Alrighty, we all know that moms usually aren’t the focus of Christmas. We love to give to our kids and others around us. But we love to feel valued too! These have been some of my FAVORITE things this last year and think any mom with young kids in your life will love these gifts this Christmas.

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  1. Instant Pot I never thought I’d need this. It was just one extra kitchen tool. But I was sooo wrong. It has replaced so many other kitchen tools (crockpot, rice cooker, yogurt maker, etc) that it has actually resulted in less clutter and ease. And let’s be real, we all need some easy meals (hence why we love using the crockpot). But have you ever noticed that sometimes crockpot meals just meld together and turn to mush?? When I use the pressure cooking setting on my Instant Pot, it doesn’t turn out that way. But you still get the melt off the bone sort of juiciness.
  2. Roomba Vacuum There have been mixed reviews regarding a robot vacuum because it does take some extra prep work (i.e. making sure no cords or toys are on the floor). BUT with 2 dogs and 3 kids, there is NO way I can keep up with the floor as often as it needs.  So while it may not be 100% effective, I can run it multiple times a day and tackle the ongoing floor mess without having to sweep non-stop.
  3. Bravva Mop Same goes for this one. This has become sort of a nightly routine.  Kids go to bed, toys are off the floor and away, and I turn the mop on and let it do it’s thing.  Then it frees me up to do things I want to do.  Every so often I still love to go through manually and do a mop job with my manual mop but this is so easy to keep up with.
  4. Canon Rebel Let’s be real….I love photos! And Mixbook often gets lots of my business printing up those photos into beautiful photobooks. I love my Canon 6D and loved the versatility (and pricepoint) of the rebel when I first started capturing moments. And our kids grow sooooo fast, we want to capture those moments.
  5. Date Night This is totally new to me but I’m super excited about it. My  first date night is on it’s way to me. It can be so hard for couples to get a night out, or even plan a date night in. So you can make it a priority by having those dates delivered right to you on a monthly basis. They have a Kids Night in and Faith Night in too!
  6. Beachbody on Demand This is THE way to go for fitness and sanity for a mom with young kids. No worries about child care and moms can not only feel better physically, gain more energy, but also create some space for a little self care.
  7. Massage or Pedicure: This always goes a long way with a mom of young kids! Especially if they don’t have to arrange childcare to go!
  8. Brazen or The Miracle Morning or Present over Perfect have been 2 of the most life changing books for me!
  9. Lipsense This stuff is AH-mazing! It’s lipstick that stays on all day long. It makes any mom feel dressed up and yet still totally kiss and snuggle proof.
  10. Wine Club I’m not a huge alcohol drinker but I do love relaxing with my hubs after the kids are in bed and drinking a nice glass of wine. (Discount for Black Friday weekend is 4 pack for price of 2!)
  11. Amazon PRIME OMG! I’m guessing every mom already has this but if she doesn’t it has been such a lifesaver for me. So many times I’ve ordered diapers or diaper cream or whatever and had it at my door the next day without having to load 3 kids in the car. It’s been especially helpful when we get sick and I try to not leave the house. (And the link gets you a discount on the monthly membership…like $5.99 for qualifying members).
  12. Kindle Paperwhite I admit this is one that I do not have but being that I love reading and spend so much money on books I would totally get this one!

And whenever shopping online, make sure you use EBATES. Not only do you get cash back but they’ll search for any coupon codes for you. It’s super awesome!

What would be on your wishlist?

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Affiliate Disclosure: I’m a huge believer in transparency and authenticity and so I am disclosing that I’ve included certain products and links to those products on this site that I will earn an affiliate commission for any purchases you make. These commissions help enable me to provide more and expand my services for you! So thanks for your support! 

 

5 Ways to Teach Children Gratitude

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There’s nothing more powerful in changing our lives than having an attitude of gratitude. But in today’s society, it is SOOOO easy to overwhelmed with wants, efficiency, and discontent. I love November because of Thanksgiving, but if you are like me, I don’t want November to be the only month my kids show thankfulness. You too?

So here are 5 simple ways you can teach your children how to have a heart of thankfulness. I mean after all, those who are more thankful and content have an overall more satisfied and happier life (there’s tons of research out regarding how it effects so many areas of life like self-esteem, optimism, etc. Go check it out!)… And isn’t that what we want most for our children?

Daily Gratitude

This one is SO simple and something I try to practice myself. Each day as I tuck my ids away to bed (or even periodically throughout the day), I’ll ask them to name something they are thankful for. Some of the answers are TO DIE FOR cute. Seriously! I think my son is thankful for garbage trucks nearly every day 😉

Encourage Generosity

This past year we’ve been attempting to make major changes in our clutter around the house.  As a part of that, we’ve all given away a TON of stuff (Checkout my 5 Steps To Break Free From Clutter if you want to ditch clutter). We encouraged the kids to choose one thing to give away each day. I was actually amazed at how little resistance we experienced from them.  They were actually very excited to give to others.

Turn around the No

It’s sometimes so hard to go into a store with my kids because I feel like I get bombarded with the “I need this” or “will you buy me this” questions.  I hate using the word no and try to use it sparingly but geesh….shopping can be downright exhausting.  A huge focus for us this year is to eliminate ‘stuff’ so that we have more time and space to focus on our relationships.  So now, instead of just saying no I remind them of why we are saying no…. so that we have more time and money to spend on things we all enjoy like vacation, trips to the zoo, or Disneyland.  The no to the impulse buy becomes now something they are excited about and willingly put the item back on the shelf.  Kids crave relationship. And while they would love the latest and greatest toy, they more desire YOU.

Encourage them to Serve Others

I grew up serving people who were homeless or living on the streets and I cannot say enough about how it shaped my view of the world, gratitude, politics, and so much more.  Last year our family took coffee and breakfast to people who were homeless the day after Christmas.  It was an AMAZING experience for them. But in this stage of life, I just don’t feel it’s practical for us to do on a regular and ongoing basis.  So we’ve found other ways to serve.  We’ve connected with an amazing organization called Safe Families.  It’s given us the opportunity to bring children into our home, love them, and serve them.  My kids then have hands on real life, tangible exposure to serving those in need.  There are so many ways for families to serve together, whether it be as simple as picking up trash, serving food in a homeless shelter, giving gifts for Operation Christmas Child and others.

Please and Thank You’s

There is some thing so fundamental in manners that can have profound impacts on gratitude.  But rather than forcing your kids to say them just out of formality, make them meaningful (this is similar to why I never force my kids to say sorry).  When saying something is forced, it loses its value and meaning.  A gentle reminder such as “did you say thank you when Maya gave you a flower” reminds kids that even simple actions are something to be grateful for.  Just the same, encouraging them to write thank you notes reminds them of how many things in our lives we have to be thankful for.

 

Do you have any fun ways you teach gratefulness? I’m going to share some of my favorites in the next month and would love to highlight yours! Drop them below or email me renae@renaefieck.com

Secret to Saving Kids Artwork without Clutter

What the heck do we do with all the pictures, drawings, school projects, and little gifts from our kids? I mean, I love them all but my daughter’s love language is gifts.  So we are ALWAYS getting special pictures, drawings, or crafts from her because that’s her way of showing how she loves us.  But I’m on a journey to eliminating clutter from my life.  I want more space.  I want a chance to breathe and not feel like I’m CONSTANTLY cleaning.  Is it wrong to want a clean house AND be able to enjoy time with my kids?

I saw somewhere a picture of a triangle that showed mom’s sanity, a clean house, and happy kids on each of the points.  The meme stated, you can only choose 2, which 2 are you going to choose.  For a long time, hands down, I wanted happy kids and happy mom to be my choice.  But you know what I realized….a clean house was a HUGE contributor to my sanity.  I don’t think you have to choose between the 3. I think you CAN have a balance of all 3.

So in my quest to eliminate stuff without losing the memories (or breaking my dear daughter’s heart), I found an app called Keepy. It’s been amazing.  It has both a free and a paid version (with the amount of drawings we get, I totally bought the paid version).

You can take snapshots of your children’s drawings, crafts, projects, whatever and store them. You can have multiple kids all stored in the same account. You can store voice recordings of your child telling you about the picture or take a picture of your child holding the drawing so you can document age too. And best! You can add “Fans” so grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends can see all the magical drawings and leave messages too.

 

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It’s definitely a timeless way to preserve and capture memories without all the clutter.  And if you did want to print all of it in a book, they make it pretty seamless too with having photobook  and other photo gift options (although I haven’t tried that part yet).

If you haven’t snagged a copy of my FREE 5 Steps to Breaking Free From Clutter, you should totally do that! Breaking free from clutter has changed my life. I finally feel like I can enjoy time with my kids because I’m not spending day in and day out picking stuff up.

6 Steps to End Picky Eating

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Picky eating is SO hard for parents! It’s the struggle between feeding your child what they’ll eat just to make sure they eat, even if it’s NOT healthy or nutritious versus holding your ground and them not eating anything. It’s a really really hard spot for you to be in.  When I work with some of my clients, families are often struggling with a kiddo who will eat only a handful of items (commonly goldfish crackers and chicken nuggets). And while not all picky eating is that extreme, you may benefit from some of my tips with your own kids.

Here are my top 6 tips to turn around the struggle with picky eating and the endless mealtime battles. They can be exhausting, I know!

  1. Make meal times enjoyable. Meals should be a social experience. Eat together. Talk about your day or what you’re thankful for. Engage. Meals should be a family experience, not with kids eating individually.
  2. You are responsible for providing a meal, and your child is responsible for what they eat. No pressure, no force feeding, no bargaining, no polite bites. It’s hard sometimes to resist the urges, I know!
  3. Keep meals and snacks consistent throughout the day. Both you and your kiddos should have regularly schedule times to eat every 2-3 hours. It’s good for your metabolism, your satiation, energy, sugar levels and so much more.
  4. Always have at least 75% of your child’s plate be preferred foods with 25% being non preferred foods. And try to create family meals that are composed of both preferred and non-preferred foods so you are all eating the same foods. No more short order cooking!
  5. Learn to play with your food. It doesn’t have to necessarily be at meal times but creating spaceships, boats, mustaches or the like with non-preferred foods can desensitize aversions and increase the likelihood that your kiddo will try one those non-preferred foods. I encourage families to play with food in lots of different environments.
  6. Even if your kiddo refuses a food once, feel free to continue to expose them to that food. It can take between 7-10 exposures to determine whether or not they actually like a food or just opposing it because it’s new!

Was any of this new to you? Comment below with what you plan to implement.

P.S.- If you’re looking for an awesome kids nutritional shake, my kids LOVE this one!

Family

There are 2 women in my life that I call my utmost best friends. We’ve been friends for over 15 years, seen each other through college, marriage, first houses, babies, and more. This last week I had the opportunity to photograph one of these women and her beautiful family.  The 30 minutes was filled with whining, crying, pleading, me dancing like a crazy person to Veggie Tales Christmas music, and all of us coming away with massive amounts of stickers in our shoes, but you’d never know it. bethany (50 of 86) I was there when this beautiful girl was born and it’s amazing to see how much she’s grown over the years. bethany (44 of 86) bethany (41 of 86) bethany (37 of 86) bethany (20 of 86) bethany (76 of 86)Can we just say….gorgeous?

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