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Unique Gift Ideas for Kids of All Ages

This post is sponsored by Hahaland.

I am always on the lookout for unique, fun, and educational gift ideas for my own children and for birthday celebrations. I was so happy when Hahaland let me try out some of their products and “best-ever” toys. Their products are of great quality and are functional and fun! I love that I can find toys for all ages in one place.

Let’s be honest, we use screen time in our home and I don’t regret that, but I do love when I come across a toy that allows for screen-free play. We can all use a little bit of balance in our lives.

Here are some of our favorites, sorted by age level. I hope you find them as awesome as we do!

Bonus, save $10 on Orders $65+ with code Lauren10 at Hahaland.

Baby/ Six Months Plus

sippy cup with soft spout and straw cup

This sippy cup with spout and weighted straw is great for smoothly transitioning baby from the bottle to a cup. We have found that a soft sippy spout more resembles the bottle which can help baby more easily get used to the feel of a cup. At 8 months plus, the straw cup (which is also included) can be used as well. The straw is weighted, which means that baby can be in any position to drink. Little ones are used to holding a bottle upright to drink, but a typical straw cup does not allow for this option. The weighted straw allows them to get used to the feeling of the straw more easily by drinking from any position. I love that this cup comes with attachments for both options, as a straw cups can support speech development and help little ones build muscles in the mouth. Measurements are also still included on the side of the cup to help manage feeding as well. Win!

Toddler/ Preschool Ideas

paint with water flash cards

Paint with Water Flash Cards Toddler Puzzles are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. I love educational toys as who doesn’t love having fun while learning? These cards have so many neat features. First, realistic images of fruits and vegetables are featured to use as flash cards to help with language development. The cards also function as small puzzles which help with motor coordination. For added fun, the front of the card features a magic water drawing activity. Fill the included pen with water, and little ones can paint to magically show what each fruit or vegetable can become. I love how this encourages children to think about cause and effect relationships. This is a great Montessori activity.

car screen free toy

The Race Tracks Car Adventure Toy Playset has been a huge hit in our home for all of our children (ages 3, 6, and 8). They have spent hours playing with this toy. Little ones use their hands to activate different buttons along the bottom of the toy to make the cars move through obstacles along the path. At first it was fun just figuring out how the buttons worked and in what order. Now, the kids are working on keeping all three cars moving around the track at the same time. The playset helps build hand-eye coordination as well as motor skills. This is a great screen-free, electronic-free toy which provides endless entertainment.

Whole Family Fun

Titanic 3D puzzle

The LED Titanic Ship 3D Puzzle is hours of fun for the entire family. If you are looking for a scree-free activity for the whole family, this is it! We worked on this 3D puzzle together. We worked a couple of hours a day, and it took us about eight hours to complete (even with little hands helping). My six and eight year olds really enjoyed this challenge. With adult help, they were easily able to participate. I am amazed at how seamless this 3D puzzle was to put together. It looks like it would be very difficult, but it wasn’t. We just followed the directions exactly and were careful when punching out the pieces and it came together perfectly.

putting together titanic puzzle

I cannot believe the details in this ship. They are intricate and beautiful. The pieces came together so perfectly that it seemed like magic. The finished product is 34.6 inches long and includes working LED lights. It looks beautiful on display. We will display it in our home, which will remind us of all of the fun we had together. This would make a perfect gift for a child, teen, family, grandparent, really for anyone. If you have a child who loves puzzles, this is a unique activity they will surely enjoy.

3D puzzle of the titanic

Remember, you can save $10 on Orders $65+ with code Lauren10 at Hahaland.

Do you have a favorite? Which product do you like best? Share it in the comments.

To learn more about. me and my blog, check out: About Lauren

You may also enjoy: 30 Plus Fun Craft and Activity Ideas for Kids with Household Items or What Makes a “Good” Parent

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30 Plus Fun Craft and Activity Ideas for Kids with Household Items

Here is a list of over 30 fun craft and activity ideas you can do right at home with household items. I love these activities as they don’t require an extra trip to the store, or purchasing any materials, because most of these items you can find right in your house. Win! Many of these activities also involve upcycling!

These fun activities for kids were compiled from some amazing bloggers! Simply click the links below the blog title for more information and full activity/ craft instructions!

You will find activities for kids of all ages! Have fun!

From Artsy Fartsy Mama Blog:

Free Printable LEGO Challenge Game

Super Soft Two Ingredient Play Doh

home made play dough

From Finding Myself Young:

5 Minute Toilet Paper Roll Houses

From Picklebums:

DIY Cardboard Tube Construction Toy

From Crayons and Cravings:

Sponge Paint Toddler Art with Homemade Paint

From Mom in the Six:

Flashlight Games

From The Play Based Mom:

Rainbow Toast: A Fun Breakfast Activity

From A Cotton Kandi Life:

How to Make Plastic Yarn (Upcycled Grocery Bag Craft)

From Little Learning Moments Blog:

Sticky Note Hunt

From the Feeling Nifty Blog:

The Easiest No Sew Sock Bunnies

From the Who Needs a Cape Blog:

DIY Water Bottle I-Spy Game

From The Dad Life Lessons Blog:

How to Make a Dollhouse Out of Cardboard

From The Printables Fairy:

Origami Fortune Teller

From Go Science Kids:

DIY Magnetic Marble Run for the Fridge Door

From Mud, Paper, Scissors Blog:

Cheerios and Pipe Cleaner Bird Feeder

From Red Ted Art:

Toilet Paper Roll Giraffe Marionette

Making Watches with Toddlers

How to Make a God’s Eye Weaving Craft

From the Four to Love Blog:

3 Printable Indoor Scavenger Hunts

From Enjoy the Eco Things:

How to Make an Easy Dollar Tree Barn

From the Moms Who Save Blog:

Frozen-Inspired Princess Wands

From Projects with Kids:

Printmaking for Kids Using Recycled Materials

From Bitz & Giggles:

Make Your Own Lava Lamp

Slinky Fish Craft

From Best Toys 4 Toddlers:

Ice Art Scene

From the Animallama Blog:

DIY Milk Carton Bird Feeder

From Team Cartwright:

At Home Chemistry: Cleaning Pennies with Ketchup

For more fun activities, check out these additional ideas:

From Toot’s Mom is Tired:

Let Celebrities Read Books to Your Kids

From Moms and Munchkins:

Indoor Scavenger Hunt Ideas

From Savoring The Good:

A Complete List of Free Disney+ Coloring Pages

And finally, many additional activities from,

A Mother Far From Home:

Easy Screen-Free Activities for Kids at Home

I hope you have found lots of great activities to try out right in your own home. I will leave you will one of my favorite mottos:

Remember, when in doubt… Play!

I hope you enjoyed these activities for kids with household items! Let me know which activities you want to try with your children in the comments. I would love to hear how the activity went!

To learn more about. me and my blog, check out: About Lauren

You may also enjoy: Creative Gifts for Creative Kids of All Ages or What Makes a “Good” Parent, It’s Not What You Think

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Creative Gifts for Creative Kids of All Ages

Gift and Activity Ideas

I’ll be honest, gift buying for my children isn’t easy these days! Looking around my house, there are just so many toys! This year, I wanted to find a special gift for my children’s birthdays, one they would cherish for a long time, but I was also looking for gifts that wouldn’t cause additional clutter.

There is a lot of discussion about offering experiences over toys when it comes to gift buying, and I love the idea behind this, but what if there was a way to capture both in one gift? I have found a few gifts which do just this. They are small, they inspire creativity, and they encourage children to get out and explore all at the same time!

My children love being creative. Give them some tools, art supplies, craft items, and they couldn’t be happier. I can relate as a blogger. I am constantly snapping photos and the kids see me take them. In fact, they are my subjects most of the time. I was so happy when a wonderful company, Father’s Factory, gifted us some of their items to try. Check out these amazing gift ideas that my kiddos cannot get enough of. These are some of their favorite gifts of all time. I will share the gifts they love and also some neat craft and activity ideas for any child who loves creating and exploring! You can rest assured that I only recommend products that I know and love.

The WoodCam

Wooden Camera

First, is the wooden digital camera. These wooden cameras are made by walnut and cypress wood and they take real photos. There are 4 built-in filters, so my children can easily take photos in color, black & white, and sepia. I think there is something special about not being able to see the photo they take until they return home and upload them onto the computer. It encourages the art of photography and there truly is a magic around capturing little everyday surprises with my kids. It allows us to enjoy the moment we are in rather than focus on taking the “perfect” photo. Father’s Factory shares that “in a world of ‘instant’ and ‘now’, these are perfect for teaching children patience, understanding delays, and even how to deal with disappointment.” I have experienced this. My oldest daughter understands her camera more and more each time she ventures out. At first, she may not have captured exactly what she had in mind, but on the other hand, some of the photos she took came out way more beautiful than we imagined.

We actually built the camera together and it only took a minute.  There is a built-in lens, but the WoodCam also comes with two additional lenses for more fun. One is a fish-eye lens, and one is a wide angle lens and they pop on and off with a magnet. This one even comes with an SD card.

activities for kids

Activity Idea:

activities for kids

Grab a camera and head to your local park, or even out to your backyard with your child. We went to a local park and took photos of the scenary and the animals, and it was one of our favorite outings so far. Here are a couple of photos my daughter captured directly from her Father’s Factory cameras on our first outing:

The PaperCam

This Digital Camera is made with recyclable paper and it also comes ready to be assembled. Not only is the outside made out of paper, but it comes unassembled and you can put the camera together with your child. What an amazing experience it was to see how a camera looks on the inside and then to use that very camera! Talk about inspiring the love of photography! It only takes a couple of minutes to put together.

You can connect both of these digital cameras to the computer through the included USB cable, and upload and view your photos.

Activity Idea:

Print your favorite photos either from your camera or from theirs. Your child can use them to make their very own scrapbook. For her birthday, my oldest daughter asked for a scrapbook and supplies to go along with her camera. She has had so much fun choosing the photos she likes and then adding stickers and designs to her very own scrapbook. This is such a great way to make memories last a lifetime.

Wooden Toy Cameras

Wooden toy camera

This Polaroid Style Wooden Toy Camera is a high-quality wooden toy camera with a kaleidoscopic lens and a magnetic detachable flash. My youngest has so much fun with the kaleidoscopic lens and putting the flash on and off. This camera includes 5 InstaFun drawing cards to encourage pretend play.

Activity Ideas:

My three children have all enjoyed drawing a polaroid style picture on the provided InstaFun cards and pretending they were taken by their camera. We were able to erase the colored pencil and crayon marks from our cards and use them again and again.

Another idea is to take your toddler out to a local park or farm (even your backyard), and have them play pretend with their camera. I took my youngest out with her toy camera and she had so much fun telling the sheep to “say cheese” and trying to get them to “smile” for her camera. I caught it on video and I know that is a video and an experience I will cherish forever.

Wooden Toy Camera

To learn more about me and my blog, check out: About Lauren

You may also enjoy: What Makes a “Good” Parent? It’s Not What You Think

Check out my book here: They Say – Not Your Average Parenting Book

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Top Educational Toys for Babies and Toddlers: Play to Learn

Looking for a fun AND educational gift for a baby or toddler? Look no further! We have found the perfect Block Set and monthly Play Kits from Lovevery, a child development toy company! Their goal, much like my goal here on this blog, is to “help every parent feel confident.” Their play products “are designed by child development experts and distilled to their simplest, purest purpose: to be exactly what children need at each stage.”

As a Lovevery affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. You can count on me only recommending products which I know and love!

First, check out Lovevery’s amazing Block Set which is fun for all ages!

Did you know blocks teach children about structure, balance, physics and math in a way that no other toy can? They provide a foundation for early learning. Early experiences with blocks help children develop spatial, language, cognitive, and problem-solving skills!

The Lovevery block set is the most comprehensive block set ever! It comes with an activity guide which shows us exactly how we can play with blocks with our children at each and every stage.

I didn’t realize just how much my children loved blocks, until we received this set and I was able to check out the accompanying guide which showed me ideas of how children can use blocks in play at each age and stage. These blocks are now a go-to for my one, four, and six year old, and we have spent hours playing with them.

There are so many ways to learn with these blocks:

Explore cause and effect, force, magnetism, velocity, and gravity by rolling the wheels down a hill.

Plan ahead and reach a goal by making a car or wagon.

The magnetic wheels make it super fun and easy.

Develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination at the same time. and experiment with pattern play by threading beads.

Learn about rhythm by making music.

Upon opening the box, my littlest one immediately began drumming with the sticks and dancing along.

Learn how to sort and categorize—and how things fit together spatially by sorting shapes.

Practice equilibrium by finding how things stack, balance, or fall.

Use the wooden people/ figurines to imagine, talk about feelings, and even build empathy.

When they are a little older, build confidence, strength and balance by setting up a small hurdle to jump over!

Plus make paths, count towers, make letters, sculpt feelings, build a house, or a city… the options are endless.

I started playing with these with my youngest, and soon, my older two had jumped in.

My son (4) cannot get enough of engineering different buildings and using the magnetic portion of the wheels to make all kinds of fun creations (you can see one of his creations above). My oldest daughter (6) loves to set up the blocks to make a store, a restaurant, and a house, and then play with the doll shaped blocks included. She has since even added in her own little dolls for more play.

I would highly recommend the Lovevery Block Set to any parent. What a great set of blocks which will grow with your child! The set would also be a great gift for a toddler or even for a baby shower… baby’s first set of blocks!

Another favorite from Lovevery is their monthly subscription Montessori-based Play Kits!

We have tried “The Companion Play Kit” for our 22 month old. This box is full of toys designed for toddlers to use from 22 to 24 months of age. I am sure we will use these toys well beyond when my littlest turns 24 months.

The kit has been perfect for our little one. She can use all of the toys now, and there are so many ways she can continue to grow by using and playing with each.

Included in the Play Kit is a play guide. Here is a snippet from the guide under, “Real Life is Where It’s At”:

“Right now, her brain is craving real-world experiences: she wants to be involved with whatever exists around her and use her developing senses to understand what things are and how they work. She wants to take in the smell of the laundry soap, tip the cup over and watch how the thick liquid pours into the machine, open and close the dryer door over and over, feel the dampness of clean laundry, work to pull warm, dry clothes out herself, and heap them in a basket.”

This is another reason I love the company, Lovevery, so much! Did you hear that? Toddlers are happy and learn SO much by just doing what we are doing and helping us! No more guilt for doing chores over playing with our children. They are learning just as much from simply working along side us.

In addition to descriptions and guides for every toy in the box, which teach multiple ways to play, there is an entire section on “Real Life Play.” In this section, many additional activities are shared which you can complete with regular household items!

Check out all the ways these toys teach:

Stemming from my school counseling background, I just love a toy that teaches! And, these toys teach in so many ways!

Learn about executive functions and learn to control impulse behavior by playing pretend with Little Quinn.

Show your toddler routines can happen even in unfamiliar places with the “Bea Gets a Checkup” Book.

Learn about perceiving, categorizing, and comparing with the Animal Match.

I love that this activity can help practice animal sounds, which are the beginning of language. You can also practice matching from left to right, to train the eye for when your child eventually starts to read!

Practice “coloring” with the Carry-Along Kit.

And, the accompanying stickers help your toddler work on the pincer grasp too!

Practice Bilateral Coordination with the Buckle Barrel.

This neat tool teaches using both hands together, finger dexterity, the pincer grasp, and hand-eye coordination as your child buckles and unbuckles!

Teach sizes, stacking, and transfer objects using the Stacking Dripdrop Cups, Tweezers and Felt Stars.

These cups are fun to stack and also encourage water play! Transferring the felt stars with the tweezers helps develop fine motor skills and concentration as well! Triple win!

Strengthen the muscles and skills needed for writing with the Mosaic Button Board.

Use simple two-piece puzzles to help your toddler learn what puzzles are all about!

Or, use the chunky puzzle to teach spatial skills! Lovevery shares that early puzzle skills are a predictor of spatial skills in preschoolers! You will find lots of tips like this in the play guide!

Learn how to process and manage emotions by reading the book, “Graham Turns Two.”

There you have it! A Lovevery Play kit is an excellent gift idea for any baby, toddler, or mom! Or, subscribe and receive a box full of educational toys every two months (babies) or three months (toddlers) for you and your little one. Who doesn’t love high quality, educational toys to explore with their baby or toddler? I would highly recommend the company, their toys, and their amazing play guides which help us moms feel confident as we raise our little ones into who they will one day become!

Shop Lovevery now, by clicking here!

To learn more about me and my blog, check out: About Lauren

You may also enjoy: Are Parents Setting Themselves Up to Fail? Or 10 Things I’ve Learned From My Parenting “Mistakes”

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The Ultimate List of Summer Activities for Kids

With all three kids home for the summer, we’ve got to have some things to do! With a 1, 4, and 6 year old, for some reason, boredom never seems to end well! Of course there is always heading out and about, to the local library, pool, or playground! But, I have compiled a list of awesome summertime activities for kids from some amazing mom bloggers for you to try! Check out this ultimate list of activities for kids to find fun activity ideas for all ages!

Simply click the links to check out the full posts including all instructions!

From the Projects with Kids Blog:

Easy Marbled Seashell Art

From the Finding Zest Blog:

Check out these three fun activities:

How To Build a Fairy Garden with Kids

How to Make Slime without Borax: Catepillar Slime

Mermaid Fin Hair Clip Craft

From the Exploring Domesticity Blog:

Bubble Towers: DIY Bubble Blowers

From Fun With Mama Blog:

Here are three fun activities:

Shaving Cream Painting

Sidewalk Chalk Paint Recipe

Homemade Bubbles

From I Love Painted Rocks:

The Hide and Seek Rock Game

From One Crazy Mom: Inspiring Moms to Embrace the Crazy

Check out these two easy and fun activities:

The Best Two Ingredient Slime

Salt Painting

From Creative Green Living:

Here are two fun activities we love:

How to Make a Mermaid Garden with Succulents

Make a Fairy Bracelet

From the Country Chic Cottage:

DIY Paper Doll Activity Set

From the Grace, Giggles and Naptime Blog:

DIY Mini S’mores Pots

From A Dab of Glue Will Do Blog:

Kids Alphabet Say and Spray Activity

From Muddy Boots and Diamonds:

Tie Dye

From the Artsy Fartsy Mama Blog:

Two awesome activities:

DIY Kinetic Sand

DIY Straw Rockets

From Sixth Bloom:

Painting with Nature Items

From Red Ted Art:

Check out these giant bubbles and a bubble wand making station too!

Bubble Recipe and Giant Bubbles

Bubble Wand Making Station

From the Play. Party. Plan. Blog:

15 of the Best Water Games to Beat the Heat

From Moon and Spoon and Yum:

Gluten-Free Peppermint Play Dough

From The Healthy (ish) Home:

Painting with Water

From the Coffee and Carpool Blog:

Random Acts of Kindness for Kids

Letters to Soldiers from Kids

From the Glitter on a Dime Blog:

Bubble Painting

From the Learning Through Experiences Blog:

Painting with Ice

From the Step Momming Blog:

Summer Journals

From Mombrite:

Ice Excavation

From Pink Fortitude:

DIY Ladybug Hotel

From the Fun Money Mom Blog:

Here are two adorable activities:

How to Make a Super Cute Seashell Turtle

Paper Plate Ocean Craft

From the Bitz and Giggles Blog:

Nature Hunt Bingo

From Atlanta’s Frugal Mom:

Kids Free Summer Reading Programs

From the Modern Small Town Mama Blog:

Sponge Water Bombs

From the Live the Old Way Blog:

Leaf Printing on a T-Shirt

From Mission: To Save

Pool Noodle Games

From Crafts By Ria:

Egg Carton Shark

Popsicle Stick House

From the Cenzerely Yours Blog:

Here is a list of 101 more ways to entertain the kids this summer!

101 Fun Ways to Entertain the Kids this Summer

For extra rainy day fun, check out our post, 10 Rainy Day Activities For Kids

We hope this list will help make your summer extra special and fun! What are your favorite summer activities for kids?

To learn more about me and my blog, check out – About Lauren

You may also enjoy – What They Say About Parenting: Podcast Episode or My Author Journey: Writing My First Book

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20 Easter Crafts for Kids

Looking for something fun to do with the kids this Easter? We have compiled 20 fun and easy activities to try with your kids from some amazing bloggers! Check out 20 Easter crafts for kids of all ages! You’ll find something here for everyone.

Simply click the link below each picture for directions.

Peeps Edible Puffy Paint

Brought to you by Messy Little Monster, this edible puffy-paint craft is a fun activity all kids are sure to love!

Homemade Easter Egg Bath Bombs

Make these Easter egg bath bombs using plastic Easter eggs as molds. Check out this post from Mom Foodie for ingredients and directions.

Clothing Peg Easter Bunnies

Brought to you by Emma Owl, here is a fun clothes-pin Easter bunny craft! And what a cute addition to a flower arrangement!

Spring Butterfly Craft for Kids

Here is a fun butterfly activity from The Savvy Mama Lifestyle.

Easter Bunny Pom Pom Craft

Check out this adorable little pom pom Easter bunny from Moms Who Save. Included in the link is a free printable!

Paper Plate Easter Sewing Craft

What an easy and fun sewing craft for children from Red Ted Art! This craft can even help build fine motor skills! Mom win!

Easy Paper Bunny Bookmark Corner

Also from Red Ted Art, here is the cutest little bunny bookmark that I ever did see!

Easy Peeps Play Dough Recipe

Who doesn’t love play dough? And play dough made of peeps? Even better. Check out this fun recipe from Conserva Mom!

Yarn Crafts for Kids

From Natural Beach Living, here is a fun and easy Easter craft made with yarn.

Easter Egg Potato Stamp Activity

Also from Natural Beach Living, this Easter egg potato stamp activity is fun and unique.

How To Make Skittles Paints

Make water color paint with Skittles by checking out this activity from Crayons and Cravings. You will also find a free Easter egg printable!

Cardboard Tube Bunny Rabbit Family

Here is an adorable bunny rabbit craft using toilet paper rolls, brought to you from Crafts By Amanda.

Easter Egg Sun Catcher

Also from Crafts By Amanda, you can make a sun catcher with tissue paper and contact paper.

Easter Chick Handprint Craft

Here is a cute activity from Mom vs The Boys which is fun for the kiddos and an easy way to remember just how tiny those little hands once were.

Upcycled Easter Crayon Shapes

Make new and colorful crayons with your old, used crayons with this activity from Simplify Create Inspire! This link includes a free Easter card printable as well.

Paper Plate Easter Bunny Craft

This Easter bunny craft from The Best Ideas for Kids is super easy and super cute!

Fluffy Chick Craft For Kids

Check out this cute pom-pom chick craft from Simple Everyday Mom. Click the link above for directions and to access a free printable template.

Easy Bunny Craft

Here is a fun Easter bunny craft made by rolling marbles through paint!

Footprint Easter Bunny Card

How adorable is this Easter card idea from Messy Little Monster? Document your cutie’s foot print and send a card at the same time.

Handprint Easter Bunny

This is another cute card idea for the little ones from Emma Owl.

We hope these activities will make your Easter even more fun and special! Enjoy!

To learn more about me and my blog, check out: About Lauren

You may also enjoy 10 Reasons Why Parents and Zookeepers Are Alike or 10 Rainy Day Activities for Kids

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Alternative Valentine’s Day Ideas for Parents

Anyone feeling a little down because they don’t think they did enough this Valentine’s Day? 

Don’t feel bad!

With Valentine’s Day can come a pressure to do something special for our significant other or for our kids. Where does this pressure come from? Well, even the Encyclopedia Britannica defines Valentine’s Day as “when lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts.” Not only this, but the Encyclopedia states that “formal messages, or valentines, appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used.” Wow! Just based on the extensive history, we have a lot of pressure coming at us.

Then we also have to listen to what “they say!” On social media, or even in just talking with friends, we see all of the different things others are doing and it can leave us feeling pretty lousy, especially if we feel we can’t compete.  

Well, why don’t we go ahead and take this pressure off of ourselves? After all, there are so many alternatives to flowers, cards, candy, and gifts which can be even more meaningful and fulfilling! 

Here are some alternative Valentine’s Day ideas for parents which will save you money and still leave those around you feeling appreciated. 

Instead of buying a gift or jewelry, save money.

Yes, you read that right. We personally don’t buy many gifts on Valentine’s Day. We typically buy what we need or we save.

One idea is to put that money into savings. You could use it for a future trip. Maybe there is place you and your significant other, or even your entire family, has been dying to visit. Maybe it’s too expensive to book now. Put that money you would have spent on overpriced flowers and gifts into an account, or a storage box, and actually take that trip one day.

Another idea is to put that money into a savings account for the kids. We try to save now for what our children will need in the future. We want to buy them cars. They also may decide to go to college. Helping them buy a car one day or helping them pay for college will likely mean way more than chocolates or stuffed animals now.

Last, it can be hard to find a sitter on Valentine’s Day. Restaurants may have limited menus or require reservations many days in advance. So, it might be easier to enjoy a night out when things are less busy. Besides, why only celebrate love or give affection on one day? We should celebrate the entire year!

Instead of buying a card, write in a journal.

We have a journal, and my husband and I write a note to each other in this journal on every Valentine’s Day, anniversary, and birthday. We do this in lieu of buying a card. I love this idea, because we can involve the kids. Even in the early notes to each other, we have traced the children’s hands in the book. We have had them do a little drawing (even just scribbles) that we can look back on one day and enjoy.

Another journaling idea came from my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. This group of mamas is so inspirational and I loved this idea. Last year, I gave my husband a journal titled, “365 things I love about you.” Starting on Valentine’s day the year prior, I wrote one unique thing I loved about him each day. The following Valentine’s day, this was his gift. He could then read 365 different reasons I loved him. This is such a meaningful gift and it costs little to nothing.

Instead of buying flowers, plant something together.

Flowers can be quite expensive on Valentine’s Day and they honestly don’t last very long. Instead of buying flowers, plant a flower or tree together as a family. You can involve the kids and you will always remember the time you planted it. Too cold? Plant an inside herb garden or an indoor plant to enjoy all year round.

Instead of buying a gift for the kids, find an activity to do together as a family.

Check out our last post, 10 Valentine’s Day Activities for Kids That Won’t Break the Bank, for lots of fun ideas!

Instead of going out on a date, have a date night at home.

If you can’t go out, have a date night at home after the kids go to bed. Watch a movie you have been waiting to watch. Have a wine and cheese tasting together. Cook together and have a late-night dinner. Spend time doing anything that makes you happy. Instead of going out to dinner, still treat yourselves to not having to cook by ordering your favorite take out.

Or, include the kids in your plan. It might even make the night more special. You can have a movie night with popcorn and treats, exchange hand-made Valentine’s, cook a nice meal together, the options are endless.

Instead of buying chocolate, make something sweet.

You can make chocolate fondue and dip fruits and marshmallows, or bake something fun with the kids. These strawberry rice krispies treats are delicious and super easy to make! You can have extra fun by cutting them into hearts and decorating them. 

Simply grab a box of Strawberry Krispies and make Rice Krispies Treats using this recipe. All you need is 3 tbsp. butter, 4 cups mini marshmallows, and 6 cups cereal.

The bottom line is, it’s not a requirement to surprise each other now. Instead, make an effort to surprise each other or show love multiple times throughout the year—on any  day. It doesn’t have to be the 14th and it doesn’t have to be once a year. I don’t think it will hurt if we miss one day, in fact, maybe the extra love throughout the year could make a relationship or marriage stronger.

To learn more about me and by blog, check out: About Lauren

You may also enjoy: 17 Time-Saving Parenting Tips

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

You can count on me only recommending products which I know and love!

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10 Valentine’s Day Activities for Kids That Won’t Break the Bank

Have you heard them say Valentine’s Day is just a “commercial holiday,” a “money-making scheme,” or —my favorite— that it’s “just an excuse to eat chocolate?”

As unbelievable as it sounds, according to this article from the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans were expected to spend 19.6 billion dollars on Valentine’s Day last year, which was up from the 18.2 billion spent in 2017.

This may be one of the reasons why some people love Valentine’s day and why some people hate it. 

Still, no matter how we feel about this holiday as parents, no matter what “they say” about it, kids seem to love it. No matter the purpose behind the day, I love it, because it gives us an extra reason to focus on showing our children how much we love them. I don’t think that could ever be a bad thing.

We can show our kids love by hugs, kisses, and by just being in the moment with them. Honestly, these three things alone would make for a fantastic day!

For those of you looking for a new activity or for a little something extra this year, here is a list of 10 Valentine’s Day activities that won’t break the bank.

1. Cover your kids’ doors with the things you love about them.

My favorite activity leading up to Valentine’s Day was shared by my Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group. Side note: I absolutely love this wonderful group of women! There is nothing better than connecting with other mamas who “get it.”

The idea: Starting the morning of February 1st and ending on Valentine’s day, cut out a heart and write down one thing you love about your child. You can write about something they do well. You can write about a quality they possess. You can write about something they did which made you proud that day… anything!

Here are some examples: 

You are such a great big brother (or sister).

You are such a big helper. I loved how you helped clean up the table last night.

You are a wonderful artist.

You are honest.

You are loving.

Your smile lights up a room.

Each night, we taped the heart on the outside of the kids’ doors. Every morning, my kids were so excited to look at their door and see what we wrote about them. By the time Valentine’s Day comes around, they will have 14 hearts on their door. They didn’t want to take them down.

2. Make a mess with bath paints. 

Pull out some Valentine’s Day inspired bath paint colors and let the kids go crazy. They can paint hearts all over the tub and make the bathtub a fun color.

3. Have an extra special breakfast or lunch. 

For breakfast, try to make pancakes in the shape of a heart. I don’t know about you, but the keyword for me here is try. The kids love it no matter what, especially if the pancake is covered in strawberries, whipped cream, and maybe even a hint of chocolate syrup! For lunch, cut their sandwich into a heart with a heart cookie cutter.

4. Have some fun with pink slime.

Elmer’s has a great recipe for making slime. Click here to see the full instructions.

All you need is:

5 oz Elmer’s Color Glue or Glitter Glue

½ tbsp Baking Soda

1 tbsp contact lens solution

5. Help the kids decorate their room or the house. 

Cut out some hearts or use heart doilies. Add stamps, stickers, or color. The kids can tape them up or hang them from a banner to display. 

Here is a fun craft gift set full of stickers and doilies, or simply use construction paper and any Valentine’s inspired stickers you can find.

6. Use a heart-themed craft kit.

Decorate your own wooden heart or make wooden heart necklaces with these fun kits.

7. Make heart jewelry with Shrinky Dinks. 

My kids love Shrinky Dinks. They can color the designs on the special paper. Then, we bake them in the oven. The drawings shrink up and become hard, like plastic. It is pretty cool to watch. This particular kit makes heart jewelry.

8. Make a heart bird feeder.

Don’t the animals deserve a little kindness too on Valentine’s Day? Have the kids string Cheerios onto a pipe cleaner and shape it like a heart. They can choose a place to hang it outside for the birds to enjoy. My children made these in MOPS kids as well. They were so excited to hang them up when they returned home. 

9. Create heartfelt valentines for each family member.

Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be the same without Valentines, so make cards for each other and exchange them. Everyone can write or draw something they love about each family member. You can even throw in a nice conversation starter while you work: Talk about how important it is to show each other love and kindness—not just on Valentine’s Day—but every day.

10. If Valentine’s day is about showing each other how much we love and care, then what a great time to talk about being kind to others!

Valentine’s Day is a great day to talk about kindness. Words and Your Heart, by Kate Jane Neal, is a great book about how powerful our words can be. Words can make people feel better or they can make people hurt. My five-year-old was able to grasp this book, and it can be used for older children as well.

Reading a book about kindness can be a fun way to start a discussion. Here are some examples of questions to get the kids thinking about this topic:

How we can show each other we care, not just on Valentine’s Day, but anytime?

How can our words make others feel good? How can our words make others feel bad? Brainstorm examples.

This particular book does a nice job of talking about how our words can make each other happy or sad, and how our words can either encourage and build each other up, or just the opposite. 

Another fun book which has underlying concepts of kindness, sharing, and giving is The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister.

I hope this list will make your Valentine’s Day extra special this year! But remember, it is not about the number of activities you provide, how much money you spend, or the gifts that you give. It’s about love. If our kiddos know they are loved, then I’d say we are winning!

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You can count on me only recommending products which I know and love!

To learn more about me and my blog check out: About Lauren

You may also enjoy: 17 Time-Saving Parenting Tips

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6 Keepsake Ornament Ideas

Baby’s Hospital Hat and Bracelet Ornament

These are our favorite ornaments. What a great way to save the hospital baby hat and hospital bracelets. Every year I decorate the tree I am reminded of the most special days of my life, the births of my three babies. To make this ornament, simply place the baby hospital hat and mom and baby’s hospital bracelets into a clear ornament. We chose plastic, so we didn’t have to worry about it breaking. Here is a clear plastic ornament which is four inches across. In this ornament, the opening is in the top, so we had to roll the items up tight to stuff them in. You may prefer an ornament which opens at the center such as this one. This option is a little smaller at about three inches across. To finish it off, we added our favorite ribbon to the top.

Snowmen Ornament

keepsake ornament ideas    keepsake ornament ideas For this craft, we bought a plain red ornament. I painted my daughter’s hand with non-toxic white paint (we used Crayola Washable Paint) and had her grab the bottom of the ornament like she was grabbing a ball. Each of the snowmen are her little fingers. We could not get her thumb to look like a snowman, so we kind of blotted it into the bottom a little to make it look like snow. I just used her hand to blot, but you could use a sponge. We used sharpie markers to make the snowmen features and also to write the date and child’s name on the bottom. Then, we printed the following saying to tie onto the top: “These aren’t just 4 fingers as anyone can see. They’re 4 little snowmen that I made with part of me. Now each year when you trim the tree, you’ll look back and recall, Christmas 2018 when my hand was just this small.” Here is a link to the article we used for instructions:

Wedding Invitation Ornament

wedding keepsake ornament This ornament was inspired by a gift from a friend on the Christmas following our wedding. We cherish this ornament and have since started making them for friends and family. I prefer using a plastic ornament which does not open at the center, such as these. This way, it won’t break open.
  1. Cut the invitation up into long strips. I usually throw out the solid parts and keep any sections which include words or decorations.
  2. Wrap the long pieces around a pencil tightly, so they form a spiral. I try to wrap it moving down the pencil a bit rather than overlapping it in one single spot. When you let go, they should keep the spiral shape you see in the photo above.
  3. Slide each spiral into the ornament and shake it around.
  4. Add your favorite bow to the top.
Here is a link with more detailed instructions:

Salt Dough Ornaments

salt dough ornaments Salt dough ornaments are so fun to make. The kids love it, because they can play with the dough just like play dough. First, make your salt dough. Mix: 2 cups flour 1 cup salt 1 cup water Once you make your creations, poke a hole at the top with a straw for hanging on the tree. Then, bake at 200 degrees for 3 hours. You want to be sure the ornaments are dried all the way through. If they are still soft on the back, you may want to flip them over for a bit longer (once the top is set). Next, you will paint your objects. I like to use acrylic paint. Last, spray your ornaments with an acrylic sealer to help them last. Here are instructions for a few of my favorite designs: To Make Santa: You will use an upside down handprint. Have your child push their hand onto the dough. Trim the dough around the hand shape leaving enough room to poke a hole with a straw. The hole will go at the base of the handprint. The thumb becomes the Santa hat. The fingers become the beard. To Make a Reindeer: Have your child push their foot into the dough. Tim the excess and poke a hole about the toe area. Paint the whole foot brown, except for the eyes in the center and the red nose at the bottom. To Make a Fingerprint Christmas Tree: Cut out a Christmas tree shape, or use a cookie cutter. Poke a hole in the top. Have your child make fingerprints throughout the tree. The finger prints will become the ornaments. Paint the “ornaments” so they stand out. My inspiration for these designs:

Baby’s First Christmas Handprint Ornament

baby keepsake ornament

For this ornament, we bought a kit which made it super easy. We like the no-bake Pearhead kit. We made one of these for each of our children. It was so funny to see how big my newest daughter’s hand is compared to my other kids at the same age. There is nothing better than seeing your baby’s real handprint each and every Christmas.

Memory Time-Capsule Ornament

To make a yearly time capsule, you can place all of your special items you want to save into a large ornament throughout the year. You could include small photos, ticket stubs, little drawings, anything which means something to the family. You can even type or write out memories and place them inside. Then, each Christmas, a new time capsule can be hung on the tree. Here is a very large plastic ornament which can be opened at the center to fill all year long. You may prefer a smaller ornament depending on the size of your memories. For more detailed instructions check out: A variation of this ornament was shared with me by a fellow mother and member of my MOPS group. She shared the idea of adding one milestone that each of your children met into the same ornament each year. You simply write out something important each of your children accomplished that year, date it, and add it into the ornament. For babies, it may be crawling, but for an older child it may be making a sports team. One day, you can open up the ornament and look back at all of the amazing accomplishments through the years. I hope you will enjoy making some ornament keepsakes this year!   To learn more about me and my blog check out: About Lauren You may also enjoy: Top Christmas Gifts for Kids 5 and Under or Moments   As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  You can count on me only recommending products which I know and love!    

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10 Rainy Day Activities For Kids

“Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day!”- They say I know we all have this mentality at least from time to time! Rain… hurricanes…tornados… All this rain has me wishing for sunshine, but it also gets me thinking of all the fun things we can do inside the house! With the cool weather approaching, I thought I would share some of our favorite activities to do indoors.

1. Glow In The Dark Slime

First, the kids kept seeing the “glow-in-the-dark slime” on the TV and have been begging to make it. The rain gave us a reason to give it a try and let me tell you, it was a hit! All you need is:
5 oz. Elmer’s glow in the dark glue
1/2 tbsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. contact lense solution
  glow in the dark slime Mix it all together, then have some fun! Check out the full recipe here on Elmer’s website.

2. Paint with Cars

Grab some washable paint. We used Q-tips to add dots of paint all over a large piece of paper. The kids can drive their toy cars through the paint. We had fun experimenting with different sized cars and different types of wheels! Painting with cars

3. Make a Blanket Fort

There is almost nothing better than making a fort out of chairs, blankets, and pillows and playing or snuggling up inside. Not sure how, but any toy or game is much more fun if played with inside a blanket fort! Blanket forts  

4. Fruit Loop Necklaces

Grab a box of fruit loops and some crafting pipe cleaners. The kids can thread the fruit loops onto the pipe cleaners, and even enjoy a yummy snack after. fruit loop jewelry  

5. Bake or Cook Together

Our favorite thing to make is the Jell-O Creations Dessert Kits. You can likely find them at your local grocery store. The kids can do all the mixing and add their own gummies. The best part is, it’s pudding, so it’s safe to lick the bowl! Jello Creationsjello creationsjello creations  

6. Build with Pretzels and Marshmallows

Connect pretzel sticks together with marshmallows to make all sorts of creations. We all know how much toddlers love to play with their food. Pretzel marshmallow craft  

7. Fun with Boxes: The Dice Game

My kids have plenty of toys, but give them a box and they will make believe all day! We always save big boxes to make cars, planes, or play houses. We also love what we call “the dice game.” All you need to do is tape different action ideas onto a square box, like: “Do jumping jacks,” or “Race to the Front Door.” The kids take turns rolling the dice and must do whatever action they roll. My favorite is “freeze dance.” They have to dance, but when I say “freeze” they must freeze like a statue. It’s fun and it tires them out… double win! I have to thank a dear mother and friend for this one as it about saved me when taking care of two toddlers and a newborn. box game

8. Digging Sets

digging set We love sets where the kids can “dig” and mine out rocks, gems, or toys. I can typically find these in the dollar spot at Target. Here’s a neat set I found on amazon.

9. Kinetic Sand or Cloud Dough

kinetic sand My kids love this stuff… and I’ll be honest it’s pretty therapeutic for mama too! It molds and then falls apart in your hands. We use kinetic sand, but we also make cloud dough ourselves. All you need to make it yourself is:
8 cups flour
1 cup vegetable oil
  Mix together well and have fun!

10. Experiment with New Art Supplies

The kids always have fun when we try out new art supplies. Here are two of my favorites (click the link to check them out): Watercolor Crayons These are awesome because they write like a crayon, but the kids can paint over them with plain water for a watercolor look! Ooly Fresh Pick Neon Gel Crayon Highlighters Ooly makes all kinds of fun coloring products. The crayon highlighters are scented, which makes them extra fun. highlighter gel crayons   I hope you will find some of these ideas handy on your next rainy day!   To learn more about me and my blog, head on over here: About Me You may also enjoy: Baby Must-Haves You May Not Know You Need   As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  You can count on me only recommending products which I know and love!        

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