Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

9 Great Gift Ideas for Someone Living With Chronic Pain (Giveaway with Quell 2.0!!)

Friday, December 7th, 2018

I received a Quell 2.0 in exchange for my honest thoughts & opinions.

Do you know someone who suffers from chronic pain? I have gotten several emails and messages over the past few months asking if I would share some gift ideas for a friend or family member who is battling a chronic illness and/or suffering from chronic pain.

Today I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite ideas for gift-giving AND share a giveaway with you for the newly designed Quell 2.0 (!!!).

I can tell you already that this would be the most incredible gift to share or to gift to yourself this holiday season.

I was lucky enough to give the new Quell a try and I can’t wait to tell you more.

Be sure to scroll all the way down to enter today’s contest!

9 Great Gift Ideas for Someone Living With Chronic Pain

 

Heated Throws

One of my most relied upon items for relieving pain, especially in the winter, is my heated throw. I treated myself to a sherpa version of the Sunbeam throw (it’s a tad pricier, but I feel like the fabric holds up a tad better)  and it has been such a game-changer for me throughout the day.

Thanks to this blanket offering three settings, you can be warm without getting overheated or you can crank this baby up and get some relief from those brutal Midwest temperatures like I do.

The sizing is perfect for two or one really cold woman who wraps herself like a burrito in it.

Gift Certificates to Offset Costs

In case you didn’t know, having a chronic illness can be very expensive, especially when so many of the alternative care options aren’t covered by insurance.

You don’t need to necessarily spend full price on a gift card for a loved one though.

I rely a lot upon sites like Groupon to try to get the most bang for my buck when splurging on myself.

I feel a tad less guilty when I am paying half price for these services.

Packaged up with a note that they are being thought of by you is a very special gift and will be greatly appreciated.

Each person is different in what they might be looking for so be sure you have a good understanding of what services will be helpful to the recipient.

Groupon covers everything from massage to discounts on meditation apps to discounts at my local natural foods store to help offset some of the costs on my supplements.

You may not know that they also offer prepared meal services which can help your recipient get a night off from cooking.

Once again, just check in with them about what would be most helpful, places they like, or dietary restrictions that would need to be addressed when planning your gift.

Supportive Slippers

It may sound a little silly, but a good pair of slippers has really made a big difference in my pain and can be a great gift for anyone who suffers from back pain, diabetes, Raynaud’s disease, or foot problems. I have had good success with these UGG slippers and am even giving them to my mom this year for her holiday gift.

The nice thing about this brand, in particular, is that you can switch out the inserts and make them feel like brand new again from season to season, offering that continuous support that you need.

To save on costs, be sure to check sites for coupons or even check eBay for brand new slippers at a fraction of the cost. Almost all of my shoes and slippers have been found there and have saved me half the price.

If your recipient has a wider foot, I have found the ABEO brand from The Walking Company to be amazing and they offer incredible built-in arch support.

Elevate Their Evening Soak

Many chronic pain sufferers get relief from a warm bath and the people in my family have learned that they can never go wrong gifting me something for my bathtime.

In fact, pictured here is my favorite weekend setup! My hubby’s parents gifted me this amazing full body bath pillow that completely cushions all my sore joints while I soak in the tub and has become my absolute favorite thing. The best part is that it can be thrown in your washer and it dries quickly so no mildew issues at all.

I pair it with a bath tray, a good book, a few scoops of epsom salts, and a glass of wine for the perfect night in.

On bad pain days, I have added an evening dose of CBD oil to my evening routine to help me unwind and this muscle roller is amazing for rolling out tight muscles.

 

Make Their Grocery Day Easier

I have been so thankful for the grocery delivery services that we have in our area, but to save money, I am still doing some of our shopping myself.

I have found that a rolling shopping cart is really invaluable for getting our groceries into our home.

Not to mention those library hauls we have been making (*ahem*).

It is such a simple thing, but it saves me several trips of going back and forth to my car!

Another great option would be to purchase a gift card for Instacart or Shipt to deliver groceries (if they offer delivery in their area) so they can not worry about the shopping part at all. These services have been invaluable to me on difficult days!

Pitch in for a Quell

Longtime readers know that I absolutely love my Quell and I was so excited when they reached out to see if I would be interested in trying out the newly redesigned Quell 2.0 AND the opportunity to share a GIVEAWAY with you so you can experience it too.

After trying the Quell 2.0 out, I can honestly say that I am so impressed by the improvements they made.

The first thing that I noticed was that the sizing is so much smaller and the device is quicker and more intuitive than their first version. They have managed to shrink all that technology into this tiny gadget.

If you are unfamiliar with the Quell, it  is a wearable intensive nerve stimulation device, that is clinically proven to help manage chronic pain. It is 100% drug free, doctor recommended, and FDA cleared for 24/7 use, during the day while active and at night while sleeping, so you can get relief when and where you need it.

This device is worn just below the knee and activated by simply clicking a button. This position (on the calf)  is where a lot of the sensory nerves are located so the pain can be blocked at the spinal cord, which helps you feel widespread relief from your pain and not just relief in a specific part of your body.

These sensory nerves send neural pulses to your brain that then trigger a natural response that blocks pain signals, leading to widespread pain relief for many people.

The company refers to it its intuitive abilities as “OptiTherapy” technology that can automatically adjust therapy and dose to ensure you receive optimal pain relief.

The best part is that you can start and stop therapy sessions, as well as adjust the intensity of therapy all from the Quell app on your smartphone (app works for both iOS and Android).

SCROLL DOWN TO ACCESS THIS GIVEAWAY!!

Headphones & Listening Material

Many people with chronic illness are often stuck at home because they don’t feel well. A pair of bluetooth earbuds can serve double duty for taking phone calls without putting any strain on the body or for entertainment purposes.

Give them a list of the current best podcasts or get them a gift certificate for Audible or Scribd so they can listen to audiobooks to help them fill the time.

Gifts to Make Their Bed More Cozy

I, personally, love anything that makes my bed more cozy and there are lots of helpers that can make that space better for someone with a chronic illness. A laptop desk tray can be a great gift for working or just catching a few flicks and being able to adjust the tray helps a lot with neck strain.

Need other ideas? How about this bed shelf, a mini space heater, a rice pillow, remote controlled outlets, a cozy throw, a magazine subscription, a weighted blanket, a supportive pillow, a streaming service they don’t already have, compression glovesfuzzy socks, or a sleep jacket.

Also, if you have a larger room (as ridiculously meme-worthy this is), I can’t recommend one of these enough. It is my winter savior, amen.

Cooking Helpers

Losing some of my hand strength has made me more aware of the things I struggle with in my kitchen. If your recipient is low on strength or energy, I have a few helpful kitchen tool ideas.

My favorite things are my jar opener and chopper to help reduce strain on my joints.

Other helpful kitchen items can be a kitchen prep stool (all the heart eyes for that one!!), a cushioned kitchen mat, an electric can opener, and a cookbook stand.

I’m sure there are SO MANY things I’m missing so please chime in and let me know how you manage pain.

By following the steps below, you will be entered to win the NEW Quell 2.0 Starter Kit, valued at $299.99!!

I’m SO excited to share this drug-free pain relief option that has made an incredible difference in my own pain management (you can read my full story and how this amazing tool works over here from their first version). 

Quell also shared a coupon code for our MomAdvice readers to help offset some of the costs. You can use the coupon code HOLIDAY30 for $30 off your purchase

The most important thing that they wanted to share with you though is that if you do not have success with the device Quell offers a 60-day money back guarantee if it doesn’t help alleviate your pain.

You have nothing to lose….especially if you win one!

Please follow the steps below to enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post contains affiliate links.

The Best Gifts My Kids Ever Received

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

What kind of shopper are you? Are you the type who buys everything in a frantic flurry on Black Friday? (I suppose I shouldn’t make assumptions; I hereby recognize you may attack the post-holiday sales with military precision and a budget Dave Ramsey would admire.) Or do you collect presents for your loved ones all year long, stashing them away after entering them into your top-secret gift spreadsheet?

I fall somewhere in between those types, attempting to buy presents ahead of time but occasionally forgetting what I’ve bought, who it’s for, or where I hid it.

And don’t even get me started on all the great intentions I’ve had for saving up for the holidays — or the ways I’ve abandoned those plans with, well, abandon.

Current state? I have small piles of packages in a few places around my house, one in plain sight yet strangely overlooked by my nosy kids, and a spreadsheet about said gifts that was updated sometime before school started. And hopes for a year-end paycheck that comes in time to hit the best sales (on the internet because this mama doesn’t do Black Friday or mall madness).

But as I started to feel stressed while making a list of all the stores I need to visit and purchases I have yet to make, I remembered how I felt on my oldest daughter’s birthday this fall.

As I’ve shared before my daughter is an enormous fan of all things Harry Potter. It was a given that her 11th birthday party would have a Hogwarts theme, and thanks to my tendency to lose my Pinterest-loving mind when it comes to planning parties, going all out for this celebration was also a given.

From the invitations and the decorations to the games and the food, we went crazy.

In a good way.

Planning the party was a blast, and my Griffyndor-wannabe (I get it, I do. But Pottermore sorted her into the house of Hufflepuff, and I do not question Pottermore.) was thrilled.

However, the best part of the whole weekend wasn’t a display of floating candles in the dining room or chocolate treats turned into golden snitches.

It wasn’t even the set of paperbacks I’d found on sale weeks before (though that did earn a whole lot of hugs and thanks).

The best part of my daughter’s birthday weekend happened when one of my best friends drove three hours to help us set up the party, bringing her own Hogwarts robe and magic wand and spending hours talking with her about details of the characters and plotlines I can’t keep straight.

The weekend got even better when another one of my best friends and her husband showed up for the party in full costume, down to preppy vests and scary tattoos.

My girl didn’t stop smiling that day and has yet to stop talking about how amazing it was that, not only did her friends come to celebrate her birthday, but so did mine.

The fact that adults who are not related to her (or obligated to spend time with her) showed up in such a big way was an incredible gift.

When I think about the best gifts my kids have received, experiences and quality time come out miles ahead of any toys, books, or clothes they’ve been given. Trips to the art museum with my brother, pumpkin carving and bread baking and apple picking with my parents, notes in the mail from a Sunday school teacher who shows up every single weekend, questions and conversations from my friend who always takes time to sit down, make eye contact, and really connect with my kids on their level — all of these blow coloring books and stuffed animals and iTunes gift cards out of the water when it comes to gifts that matter.

I do realize, by the way, that this illustrates my family’s privilege.

Our basic needs are met this year, so wishlists and shopping lists can be about presents just for fun, but we’ve had other years when we’ve been exceedingly grateful for winter coats or backpacks for school that the grandparents have purchased. If you’re in a season where the gifts your kids need are sturdy jeans, a new toothbrush, or help paying for dance class or soccer cleats, I get it.

However, if you are looking for fun gift ideas this holiday season, tangible ways to show your kids they’re loved, or answers to aunts or friends or grandpas who ask, “What should I get them?” — my number one suggestion is time.

Here are a few ways you can give (or recommend other loved ones give) your kids the best gift ever:

  • Sign up for a lesson or class together. Learn to cook a new dish, improve your golf swing, or make a birdhouse for the backyard.
  • Buy gift cards to a restaurant or coffee shop, with the plan and promise to use them together.
  • Put together a craft kit to pass on a skill or art you’ve mastered. This could be cross-stitching, calligraphy or hand lettering, or making the perfect pancake.
  • Create a doable bucket list for the next year (or month). Maybe even create it together!
  • Buy passes to a sporting event, concert, play, book signing, or other event they’d like to attend — and go with them.
  • Buy tickets to local attractions, such as the zoo, museums, or parks — and go with them.
  • Create a coupon book of low-budget ways you can spend time together — and follow through whenever they want to redeem a coupon.
  • Make a list of conversation starters and put them in a container. Use them regularly to get to know your kiddo better.

All kids want to know they’re valued, that at least for a few hours they’re more important than work or schedules or chores or even their siblings. And the gift of time — a shared experience, a regular “date” or plan to get together — lasts so much longer than toys that fall out of favor and use within months (or sometimes even before they go back to school in January!). I still have some shopping to do, but this year I’m making sure I plan for gifts that focus on quality time, shared experiences, and ways to grow closer to my kids.

Looking for more advice for the holiday season? Check out these posts!

the real santa story

choose your own adventure christmas gift

christmas tree cinnamon rolls tradition

celebrating st nicholas day

free printable advent calendar (for big kids!!)

 

What’s the best gift your kids ever received?

Mary Carver is a writer, church planter, wife, mom and recovering perfectionist. She writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life at www.givinguponperfect.com.She also contributes to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com, and she’d love to connect with you on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

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6 More Ways to Date Your Husband in the Fall

Monday, November 12th, 2018

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

I met my husband in the fall. We went on our first date later that same fall. And, years later, our first daughter was born in the fall. So when the weather begins to cool down and pumpkin spice everything shows up basically everywhere, I find myself feeling a little more lovey-dovey than usual.

Not that I don’t love him in the spring. Not that we don’t try to plan date nights in the winter. But there’s just something special about the fall!

Unless we’re incredibly intentional about it, though, our autumn date nights look exactly the same as every other date night in any other season. Because unless we are careful to be creative and plan ahead, my husband and I will always default to dinner at a Mexican restaurant chain and a movie.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that! We love tacos! And movies about superheroes or spies!

We do.

And sometimes “the usual” is exactly what we need to give us space to connect and remember how much fun we can have together when we set aside the day-to-day for a while.

But other times?

We need to get out of a rut, and we need to try something different. So while we’re still in the midst of this romantic season, here are a few date night ideas I’ve come up with.

Perhaps you’ll find a new way to date your husband this fall, too!

6 More Ways to Date Your Husband in the Fall

 

Go back to school

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about pop quizzes or English papers! No, I’m suggesting you take a class with your husband. It’s always fun to learn something new or brush up on rusty skills — and doing it together will give you something fresh to talk about and a brand-new bond as you find hidden skills or even fail miserably together! Often, you can find classes open to the community through your local college or community college. Or just search online for classes. Depending on your interests (and level of adventure!), you could take a class in cooking, self defense, dance, woodworking, wine tasting, or even massage.

Think outside the box

Don’t tell my husband, but one thing I’m giving him for Christmas is a list of adventurous, totally new-to-us date ideas for next year. I’m hoping to get gift cards or make reservations to go along with the list, so we’ll actually have to stick to outside-the-box dates! I’m planning a taking a barbecue tour around our city, finally trying our skills in an escape room, going rock climbing, visiting a shooting range, and putting a lock on a “lovers’ bridge” in a nearby town. What new, exciting, just plain different activities does your town offer?

 

Try new restaurants

I’ve mentioned our tendency to eat at the same chain restaurant every time we go out. We know what to expect; we know the wait won’t be long. But we also know we won’t be surprised. So I’ve done a little research and looked up lists of the best local restaurants in our community. Some are new, some are just new to us. Some offer the type of food we always eat; some will stretch our palates a bit!

 

I actually made the list a couple years ago and we’re very slowly trying a new place every few months. And the last time we did? We had so much to talk about! Did we like it? What was our favorite part? What was different than we expected? Do we want to go back? I can’t wait to try another new restaurant this fall.

Ditch the kids

I know, I know, you love your kids. They’re wonderful! Your heart, walking around in the world. I know! Mine, too. However, sometimes it’s fun to do kid stuff…without the kids. Every time my husband and I take our girls to a fall festival, parade, pumpkin patch, or corn maze, I find myself thinking how lovely it would be if we could come back the next day, just the two of us. So this fall, I’m going to plan ahead and make sure we have a family day AND a date day at the fun farm.

Change up the time of your date

Dating your husband doesn’t have to happen in the evening. And since fall seems to be one of the busiest seasons our families have, a night-time date might not even be possible. Why not meet for pumpkin donuts and coffee one morning? Or sneak outside for hot chocolate under the stars once the kids are in bed? You could also go to lunch at a food truck park, a chili contest, or your favorite picnic bench. The point is that you don’t have to wait for a free Friday night. Fit in date nights whenever you can, even if it’s at 8:00 in the morning!

Get physical

Hey now, not like that! I’m talking about doing something active together, like taking a hike, going for a bike ride, or participating in a fundraising walk. Take advantage of the gorgeous fall weather, and train for a 5K together (or just take your time walking through a flea market or art show). And who knows…this fall date might shake things up in more way than one!

 

Need more ideas? Don’t miss 5 Ways to Date Your Husband This Fall! What’s your favorite fall date night plan?

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Simplifying Your Holiday Gatherings

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

You will love these strategies for hosting memorable gatherings without the stress.

I’ve got everything from cooking shortcuts to decorations that transition through the seasons to your perfect playlist! 

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

Now that Halloween is behind us, it is time to start thinking about all of those upcoming holiday gatherings. Hostess duties can often feel stressful and overwhelming, don’t they? That is why I’m excited to be partnering today with Honeysuckle White to share some fresh ideas for hosting your next gathering without the stress.

I learned that if I wanted to connect with my friends and family that I often had to be the one to step up to bat and offer to host. I have discovered, over the years, that so many people feel intimidated by hosting and are often self-conscious of things like undone house projects, their limited cooking abilities, or not feeling like they have that perfectly sized space for the ideal gathering.

The thing is, our own intimidations rob us of precious moments with those we love and the people that REALLY and GENUINELY love us will always, always be thankful to you for creating space in your home and day for them.

That is, truly, why I am excited to share that Honeysuckle White recognizes how precious our time is and wanted to take out that intimidation factor by providing a brilliantly easy turkey product that will make gatherings so much easier on busy moms.

Even better?

You can order it right through Amazon.

And, ladies, I KNOW we all have Amazon ordering down pat! (*ahem*)

Say hello to the world’s easiest holiday dish, the NEWS Honeysuckle White Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast “Turketta”, inspired by the flavor profile of porchetta!

I gave ordering one of these a spin and really was surprised how well-seasoned and easy this was to execute for my Friendsgiving gathering this week.

In your package (that arrives right on your doorstep!)  you will get one of these beautiful roasts that serve approximately 4-6 people.  The packages arrive frozen and you can thaw it for an ASAP gathering or you can tuck this in the freezer for a future meal.

The bird is perfectly seasoned, boneless (no carving- woot, woot!), and requires just a simple quick sear on the bottom and baking.

This isn’t the only option you can have delivered. They also are offering Hickory Smoked Turkey Breast, a Honeysuckle White Fresh Traceable Whole Bird Turkey, & the Honest Turkey Whole Turkey.

Even better, for a limited time offer, MomAdvice readers can get 15% off using my coupon code 15MOMADVICE.

I can really get behind this company and the work they do with farmers, especially after having the opportunity to tour one of the farms.

The company is committed to raising their turkeys without growth-promoting antibiotics and no added hormones or steroids.

They also are committed to supporting independent family farmers to provide family farm-raised turkeys.

I don’t know if you know this, but my great-grandpa was a farmer and that is why that commitment and their true love for these families really warms my heart.

Now that you have the turkey covered, here are a few other ideas for a simple gathering of great friends and great food!

Send Out a Small Invite

I have done loads of large gatherings, but I find the best gatherings are often the intimate ones with just a couple of close friends so you can really catch up.

A friendsgiving need not be a large gathering and the invitation does not need to be a formal one.

Text invitations are perfectly acceptable, especially during such a busy season.

Also, allowing mamas to bring kids is a blessing to the mom (who won’t have to cook) and to you (to get to love on your friend’s beautiful kiddos especially since your kids are tweens/teens and you now have to FORCE YOUR LOVE on them).

 

Keep the Sides Simple

Roasted vegetables are an easy side that can be prepared a day in advance.

In fact, storing your carrots and potatoes in water overnight will yield a much crisper roast than if you cut them up immediately.

Toss your prepared vegetables in olive oil, kosher salt, and your favorite dried seasoning (I’m a thyme girl!) and roast them at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

Love perfectly roasted potatoes?

Cut baby potatoes in half and put the cut side down on a cookie sheet that’s been lined with aluminum foil and is lightly greased. You will get a perfect roast every time AND they are so good that my kids call them mom’s french fries.

It goes without saying, but lining the cookie sheets with tin foil or parchment paper squares is also an excellent way to cut down on dishes!

Skip the Baking

Thankfully, there is no need to bake since we have so many delicious options for desserts that are already made and available for purchase at our local markets.

You can still make these purchased desserts feel really special though with quick homemade touches.

Spicing up your whipped cream, adding crunchy toppings, or adding details with pie cutters or an embossing rolling pin (made from refrigerated pie dough) are all fun ways to make pies feel special and more homemade.

This post offers 5 strategies for making store-bought pies feel special that I think you will find REALLY helpful for the holidays and even an idea for packaging up mini pies as a parting gift at the end of the night.

replicate my table with this easy tutorial

Think Evergreen When It Comes to Home Decorating

In the blog world, evergreen content is king. It means that we really focus on creating timeless pieces that can be shared over and over again and always feel relevant.

This is the SAME WAY we can approach our decorating. Purchase or DIY things that are neutral and can be used over and over again throughout the seasons. A bit of faux greenery, a roll of kraft paper (DO buy this– it’s such a affordable investment for decorating and gift wrapping), white plates, and loads of candles are perfect for ANY occasion.

Adding simple seasonal touches, like the small bundles of sage I gathered with cotton twine feel very Martha-y, but cost only a couple of bucks to pull off.

Stop pulling out and storing seasonal bins and buy a few items that you can use over and over and over again.

You can’t imagine the stress you will relieve yourself of!

Set the Mood

Before I go, I have one more fun fact for you…I used to be a glorified D.J. for my college’s radio station.

Music is essential to me like breathing and food.

Growing up, I played the violin, sang in the choir, did musical theater, and had parents who were crazy about music too.

I am also the one that hogs the microphone if you karaoke with me.

To me, a solid playlist for special occasions is oh-so-necessary.

Don’t have time to make one?

How about if I shared mine with you!

Also, as a thoughtful introvert, I have included three goodbye songs at the end that you can feel free to boot those up after the meal when you just need to retreat to your Snuggie and Netflix.

Hopefully they catch on..I know, “CLOSING TIME,” is a very, very subtle exit song!

I have embedded it here for you so be sure to bookmark this awesome post and give me a follow for more fabulous dinner music.

Now hurry on over to order your turkey and don’t forget to use my coupon code 15MOMADVICE to snag your 15% off!

this post contains affiliate links

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

 

 

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

How’s your fall going so far? It’s felt a little chaotic at my house. For weeks now, I’ve been saying, “We’re still getting into our school year routine.” But guys? We’ve been back to school for a while. If I can’t get my people into a routine soon, I’m going to have to change my excuse to, “Well, the holidays are just messing us up.” And then it’s winter break and the new year and the flu and spring break and end of school and summer.

Because the truth is, we’re constantly entering or leaving one busy season or another. During this stage, with two busy kids and two busy adults, we just don’t have a long stretch of “normal” to look forward to. There’s no sense in waiting to get back to normal before getting organized, finding routines, or learning how to live — because I’ll be waiting forever.

The number one thing I’ve found that makes a difference in how my kids — and I — deal with busy seasons? Sleep. Our quantity and quality of sleep makes an enormous difference in everything — in our health, our attitudes, our discipline in the other things that make life easier or otherwise better. Sleep kind of makes our world go ‘round.

And sleep is a funny thing. Everyone needs it, but everyone needs a different amount. And everyone seems to need different conditions to get good sleep. So it’s a universal need but also a personal one. Therefore, rather than tell you one, laser-focused solution that works for my family, today I’m sharing several things that seem to make a difference for at least one person in my house. Hopefully something I share will work for someone in your family, and together we can stop needing excuses for being so out of sorts as we move from season to season.

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning

Know the facts

When we get busy with evening activities and homework and movie nights and one more story at bedtime, we can easily cut our kids’ nights short without realizing it. That’s why it’s good to know — and then keep in mind — how much sleep is recommended for each child, based on their age. This article from the American Academy of Pediatrics lists the recommended sleep times for each age range from four months to 18 years. 

This chart was helpful for my family as it showed me that it’s not weird for my 11-year-old to need more sleep than my 4-year-old. Last year I let my older daughter stay up later than her little sister, because I assumed she could handle it. But over the past few months I’ve realized that just isn’t true. They need different amounts of sleep, and what I assumed was wrong. Now they go to bed at the same time, which feels weird — but the AAP says is acceptable and not that weird after all.

Bathe at unusual times

Sometimes it feels like I have to choose between hygiene and sleep — for my kids and for myself! But what I’ve finally realized (it only took me how long?!) is that we don’t have to bathe (or shower) at the “usual” times. I can shower before bed instead of in the morning if I have to. My kids can bathe right after school instead of getting to bedtime and realizing we’ve run out of time and skipping it…again. It seems like a little thing, but it’s made a big difference for us. (And this tip goes for any bedtime or morning task. You can have story time right after dinner, and you can make lunches at night instead of after breakfast.)

Brain dump before bed

While I don’t often struggle with insomnia, I’ve certainly spent many nights staring at the ceiling as my worries or ideas or to-do list run through my brain on a loop. I’ve learned it’s better to just turn on my lamp, grab a notebook, and write it all down. That way, my brain can rest, knowing that I’ve captured all the things and I can tackle them the next day.

Sometimes my kids need that, too. I try to make sure I don’t shut them down if they bring up a tough subject or start telling a long story at bedtime, but when possible, I will ask if it’s something we can talk about the next day. And then, to make sure they know I’m serious, I’ll let them see me make an actual note so we don’t forget to come back to that topic or story.



Set alarms!

I use the alarms on my phone to keep me on track all day long, all week long. This is especially important for making sure we all get the sleep we need without being late for school or work. I set alarms for —

    • When we need to go upstairs to start the bedtime routine
    • When my oldest daughter needs to bring her book out to the hallway (so she doesn’t stay up super late reading…like her mama!)
    • When I need to turn off the TV and start my own bedtime routine
    • When I need to get up, at the very least a few minutes before the kids
    • When I need to wake up the kids (I need to get back to setting my 11-year-old’s alarm in her room; that helped her morning attitude a lot when we did it before.)
    • When we need to go downstairs to start packing lunches and eating breakfast
    • When my oldest needs to go to the bus stop

Without those alarms, we would be lost!

Make expectations clear 

Nearly every argument my girls and I have in the morning is about whether or not they’ve completed their morning routines: making their beds, brushing teeth, brushing hair, putting on clean clothes. It doesn’t seem hard to me, but they struggle — so writing down the morning routine and sticking it on the bathroom wall has helped. I also included what times we do things, so they know if it’s close to 7:30 and they aren’t close to ready for breakfast, they’d better get a move on!

Have your own morning routine

What makes you feel awake? Do you need coffee before you can deal with people? Or perhaps it’s a tall glass of ice water or a few minutes of stretching that gets your blood moving. For me, it’s turning on all the lights, brushing my teeth, and putting on a bra. Without those things, I am a slug — and not a very nice one either. We all win when I make sure to complete my own morning routine!

Take a moment 

Look, nobody in my house likes mornings. So I’m not about to tell you to take hours of your morning to connect with your people. But! If you can take even a few seconds to look them in the face and wish them well (on a test, with a friend, in general) or perhaps play their favorite song in the car and share a smile in the rearview mirror as you do your best car dance, I guarantee it will make a world of difference. And if you have more than a few seconds? Five-minute family devotions, love notes in the lunchbox, or a blessing prayer in the carpool line will take little time and effort, but leave you feeling like you’ve got this morning thing mastered.

Those are just a few things that help us have better mornings. We aren’t perfect, and don’t do every thing every day. But when we do our best to check most these boxes? We are more rested and less frazzled, and mornings don’t seem so bad (even to my house full of night owls).

What helps your family have a great morning? Be sure to scroll down for more great parenting articles!

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog,MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

Like this article? You might find these other parenting articles helpful too!

how to handle lying

a new way to teach your child how to tie their shoes (my kids learned in 5 minutes flat!!)

teaching kids the importance of failure

homeschooling a child with special needs

how to find & write pen pals

diy tween self-confidence kit

5 book series for kids who love harry potter

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DIY Game Day Bar Cart

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Entertaining is my thing. There’s nothing I love more than getting friends and family together for a great time.

And with a certain important game day party coming up, I knew just what I wanted to assemble to show off for my guests — a game day bar cart!

My favorite bar cart in our home is actually a tool cart transformed into this super functional and fun bar cart, so you can make your own too!

For my cart design, I decided to keep parts of the original surface paired with a metallic shade, but you can personalize this to your own taste and color scheme.

Just follow along with step two on the inside of your bar cart and apply your choice of paint if you so choose.

DIY Bar Cart Made from a Tool Cart Tutorial



Supplies Needed

Metal Tool Cart (check here or here or here to pick your favorite)
2 cans Krylon Colormaster in Metallic Gold (indoor) Spray Paint
1 can Rust-Oleum Hammered Brown Spray Paint
1 Spray Paint Trigger (should be in the same aisle as the spray paint)
Sandpaper
Painter’s Tape (to tape off your wheels)
Gloves

Directions

1. Begin by removing all of the parts and lining them up on cardboard or a drop cloth for painting. You will want the trays on this piece to be upside down since we are only spray painting the exterior of the tray. This will not only save you time spray painting, but the cart already has a nice finish on it that is easy to wipe and clean.

2. Rough up the exterior with medium-grit sandpaper. This will help our gold paint adhere to this smooth surface better.

3. Apply the trigger handle to your spray paint can. If you haven’t used one of these before it is a life-changing spray painting tool that offers even coverage and saves your poor trigger finger for long projects.

Begin by shaking your can for 1-2 minutes and periodically during use. Hold the can 10” – 12” from your surface, and spray in sweeping motions from side to side with a slight overlap.

Apply multiple thin coats, wait one minute between each.

You can add a top coat, if you like, with a clear topcoat, but it does dull the metallic sheen from this paint.

I chose to leave it without the clear coat, because I like the roughness and loveliness of the sheen of this paint.

I did find that this does adhere a bit unevenly to the surface, but creates more of the hammered metal look that I was going for.

4. Remove the trigger handle and now place it on your hammered metal spray paint that we are using for the handles and wheels on our bar cart.

Using the same technique, hold the can 10” – 12” from your surface, and spray in sweeping motions from side to side with a slight overlap.

Allow these to dry fully and then flip to the other side to spray paint the flip-side of these.

5. Tape off your wheels as best as you can and spray paint these with the same spray paint.

Allow them to dry and then flip to the other side and spray paint the flip-side.

When you remove the tape, if any of the paint has gotten on the wheel, just use your sandpaper to rough up the wheel to remove the paint.

6. Assemble after your cart, and all of its parts, are fully dry.

Keep your spray paint handy for final touch-ups and use a piece of cardboard to block and protect the areas around where you need to touch-up.

Allow this to fully dry before loading it with your drinks.

DIY Game Day Bar Cart from MomAdvice.com

DIY Game Day Bar Cart from MomAdvice.com

Once everything is assembled and dried, you can add your beverages of choice!

I decided to add my favorite beers to the top shelf for easy access, along with garnishes and drink tools.

On the bottom shelf I have glasses and liquors that can be wheeled around as needed.

Feel free to add any additional decorations like small treats, a chalkboard sign to message for guests or paper creations sporting the colors of your favorite team. Most of all, have fun!

Need More Game Day Party Tips?

Keep decorations simple for your game day party

Faux grass can act as a tablecloth for your table and a simple pennant banner can be created with your team’s favorite colors.

Add some fun football trophies to decorate around the food to pull your table theme together.

Have guests make their own food

Make creating your own food fun for your guests by creating a sub or Panini sandwich station from an assortment breads, cheeses, cold cuts, and a variety of toppings for your guests.

Each person can customize their own sandwich with their favorite additions.

Don’t forget to add a few gourmet flavors like pesto, Gouda cheese, apple slices, smoked bacon or prosciutto, & brie to your toppings bar.

These gourmet toppings will take your ordinary sandwiches into extraordinary ones and each guest can create their own unique combination.

The same idea can be applied to a fun slider bar, soup topping bar, hot dog bar, or baked potato bar.

snag my slow cooker pumpkin chili recipe

Host a soup cookoff

Have guests bring a pot of their favorite soup to share for a soup cook-off.

Have guests place votes on their favorite and present the winner with one of your fun football trophies from your table display to take home as the champion.

Not only will this be a fun way to sample some new soup recipes, but it will also relieve you of having to create as many dishes for your big game day party.

Round out the meal

Round out your soup & sandwich menu with an easy cheese platter, dips, a vegetable tray, and a fruit tray. Make the easy dips to go with your favorite crackers, but save some time in the kitchen and visit the deli in your store to pick up a simple fruit or vegetable platter to add on the side to save time spent chopping in the kitchen.

Invest in some inexpensive plastic containers for game day leftovers and send goodie bags home with your guests so they can enjoy the leftovers all weekend long.

Don’t forget to give the guests that stick around to help clean up afterwards a Most Valuable Player award for their assistance with the kitchen clean-up.

Love this DIY project? Here are a few others I think you will enjoy!

rosé strawberry wine pops recipe

slow cooker pumpkin candles

diy thumbtack pumpkins

diy ottoman serving tray

fall burlap wreath

painting pumpkins with acrylic paints

How do you celebrate game days at your house? I’d love to hear your tips for entertaining!

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Homeschooling a Child With Special Needs

Monday, August 27th, 2018

How to Homeschool Child with Special Needs from MomAdvice.com

From our guest contributor, Jackie Nunes, of Wondermoms.org

For parents, few things are more heartbreaking than seeing your child unhappy. While you know there will be times when they’ll struggle – especially if they have a disability – you want to minimize those hardships. There are a lot of challenging situations you can’t control, but schooling doesn’t have to be one of them.

If your child isn’t enjoying school or isn’t getting the support and attention they need, homeschooling could be a solution. It’s a weighty decision that requires a lot of planning and a big leap of faith. As you consider homeschooling your child, it’s important to make sure you have all the information you need and understand both the benefits and drawbacks. While every family’s experience is different, here are the pros and cons my family has encountered homeschooling a child with special needs.

child playing outside unsplash-logoHugues de BUYER-MIMEURE

The Benefits of Homeschooling

There are many advantages to homeschooling, but they all have one thing in common: flexibility. When your child has special needs, the routines, rituals, and educational strategies that work for most kids don’t always fit. Benefits include:

  • Ability to focus on your child’s strengths and interests. When teaching your child at home, you can tailor the learning experience to their needs. This means that you’re able to focus on your child’s strengths and interests when deciding how to approach their lessons. If your child is obsessed with dinosaurs or loves the color red, you can work that into your curriculum. You can follow their lead and do things that make them feel proud and accomplished.
  • Ability to focus on your child’s weaknesses. If there’s something that’s difficult for your child, you can take the time you need to patiently practice and reinforce it. You might need to try a dozen different approaches before you find one that works, but you set the pace.
  • The classroom becomes a relaxing environment. Homeschooling often helps reduce anxiety among children. Because your child is no longer expected to handle the stresses that often accompany traditional schooling, they can focus more on learning and having fun.
  • You can better monitor your child’s social encounters. When you homeschool your child, it takes a bit more effort to arrange group activities and get-togethers with other children. But you get to see how your child reacts and is treated in different situations and focus on social experiences that are positive and encouraging. Homeschooling greatly reduces the risk of bullying.
  • Homeschooling provides schedule flexibility. You can schedule your day around doctor or therapy appointments, if necessary. You can take as many breaks as your child needs during the day, which helps them feel better and learn better. If you wake up late or your child is having a bad morning, you can move your lessons to the afternoon.
  • Learning at home is less overwhelming. Many children with special needs also have sensory processing issues. Although you can’t entirely tune out things like lawnmowers, garbage trucks, and rainstorms, home is almost always a calmer and less chaotic environment than a public school. It has fewer sights, sounds, smells, and crowds that can overwhelm children with special needs. By homeschooling, you have much more control over your child’s learning environment and exposure to external stimuli.
  • Field trips are more fun and more relaxing. Your child isn’t pressured to keep up with the rest of his or her class, which means they can take all the time they need to read plaques in museums or look at the animals at the zoo. You can also integrate learning and field trips more due to the much lower number of students.
  • Homeschooled children learn constantly. Many families turn to homeschooling to keep their child’s love of learning alive and to kindle that flame that can be at risk of burning out when a child is unhappy in school. Homeschooling enables you to nurture your child’s sense of curiosity and wonder. Learning takes place all the time, not just during the school day. You can follow your child’s lead and let them explore whatever strikes their interest.

tired mom unsplash-logoVladislav Muslakov

Some Drawbacks of Homeschooling (and Solutions)

As with anything, there are downsides to pulling a child with special needs out of a traditional school. Here are a few things to consider before making your final decision.

  • Less structure. Many kids thrive on routines and no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to replicate the daily rhythms and predictability of a traditional school. For some kids, it can be confusing to have the line between home and school be blurry. Consider setting aside part of your home and creating a dedicated space for homeschooling to create a clear separation between play time and school time. You can also create a daily schedule, post it in a prominent place, and stick to it as closely as possible.
    • Access to facilities for art, music, and sports. While homeschooling, you may miss out on a few things that a traditional schooling experience would offer your child, like a gymnasium, sports fields, music program, auditorium, and art room. Enrolling your child in after-school art or music enrichment classes and signing up for a Little League or Special Olympics sports team can help fill the gap.
  • Less social interaction. There is a risk of becoming socially isolated when you homeschool a child with special needs because outings generally take more effort and planning. But it’s important for children to interact with peers of the same age to develop friendships and social skills. It is also helpful for neurotypical kids to be around people with disabilities to develop awareness, compassion, and understanding of special needs. Be sure to network with other homeschoolers and make the effort to expose your child to others kids both with and without special needs.
  • Finding specialists and outside professionals. Most school districts employ professionals including speech therapists, guidance counselors, and special education experts. If your child needs therapies, support, or assessments, your child might still be entitled to them even though you homeschool. It could take some extra research and outreach to access these resources, but in many cases specialists will come to your home. Start with your local school district and your health insurance plan. If you run into difficulties and think you’re being denied services unfairly, contact a lawyer who specializes in disability law to find out what your rights are.
  • No school nurse. Since your child won’t have access to a nurse throughout the day like they would in a traditional school, it’s always a good idea for homeschooling parents to have a basic knowledge of first aid and CPR.
  • Exhaustion and burnout. Homeschooling is a huge undertaking. It can be exhausting to serve as teacher, parent, companion, and therapist 7 days a week, 365 days a year, It’s important to pace yourself and schedule kid-free time to maintain your sanity. Be sure to get a sitter from time to time and have date nights with your spouse or significant other. Maintain adult friendships. You will be more helpful to your child if you take care of your own needs.

DIY Homework Study Station diy homework station tutorial

Creating an At-Home Learning Space

When children are first getting used to being homeschooled, it’s important to set clear boundaries between time meant for school and time meant for play. In an effort to decrease confusion, many parents set up a classroom space meant only for schooling. When setting up this space, there are some things parents should keep in mind.

  • Choose your room carefully. It needs to be big enough to hold a desk for your child as well as one for yourself with space left to walk around. Spill-proof flooring is also a great idea for the classroom.
  • Get adventurous with your seating. If you have a child who’s particularly restless, try fun seats like bean bag chairs or yoga balls to keep them seated and focused on their schooling. For many kids, a sensory-rich environment is beneficial.
  • Set up lighting. Think about picking a room that has natural lighting, which is proven to be better for learning. In addition to natural light, make sure you have artificial lights as they will be necessary on rainy days or if homeschooling in the evenings.
  • Decorate your classroom. When decorating, it’s a good idea paint your walls a calming color. Add pops of color throughout the room to keep the environment fun and exciting. Hang posters, and chalk or dry erase boards on your classroom walls.
  • Think about making an outdoor learning area. Working in nature is a great incentive for your children to behave during class and allows them to discover new things about their environment.
  • Furnish your classroom. Make sure you keep it clean at all times, as cleanliness is important when it comes to productivity. Consider making a game for you and your child that involves cleaning your classroom at the end of the day.
  • Place a couple of bookcases in the room. Make sure anything that your child will need to have access to is on lower shelves.
  • Make storage space. To create the best experience for you and your child, be sure to establish routines and keep clutter at bay. Buy containers of many different sizes and shapes. Label them with pictures based on what you store in them.

To Sum It All Up

Though it does come with its fair share of bumps in the road, homeschooling is a path that many parents choose to go down. If you’ve properly prepared yourself, your home, and your child for homeschooling, you can not only help your child learn better, but you can strengthen your relationship with them. Studies have found that homeschooling can be a great benefit to both children with special needs and the parents who love them.

Jackie Nunes is a former pediatric nurse who is now a full-time homeschool educator and co-founder of Wondermoms.org. She and her husband have three children, all of whom are taught at home. Their middle child, an 11-year-old daughter, is hearing impaired, developmentally disabled, and uses a wheelchair.

 

Looking for more parenting advice? These articles might help too!

teaching-kids-importance-of-failure (2) teaching kids the importance of failure

HOW-TO-HANDLE-LYING how to handle lying

The Real Santa Story from MomAdvice.com the real santa story

5 Ways to Calm the Chaos This School Year 5 ways to calm the chaos this school year

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What I Learned from 5 Movie Dates in 10 Days

Monday, August 20th, 2018

What I Learned from 5 Movie Date in 10 Days

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

I don’t go to the movies that often. Normally. It’s not uncommon for friends to mention a very popular movie, look at me and realize I haven’t seen said movie, and sigh deeply. But this summer I had a brief season of intense movie-watching. It was a fluke, and I can’t imagine I’ll repeat the experience anytime soon (because, tickets are almost expensive as the babysitter) – but it sure was a fun few days!

As I was thinking about the movies I watched, it occurred to me that not only was this random movie blitz a blast but it also taught me a few things. Just in case you’re gearing up for a month full of movies or excited to get your money’s worth out of your MoviePass, I’ll share what I learned in case it helps you, too.

The first thing you should know is that while I had five movie dates in 10 days, I only actually watched four movies. Why is that? Well, because I cancelled one of those movie dates. But even that taught me something about myself and the movies!

Are you wondering which movies I saw? Well, let me tell you. I saw:

  •    Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
  •    Ocean’s 8
  •    Ant-Man and the Wasp
  •    Mission Impossible: Fallout

And I didn’t see, after all, The Spy Who Dumped Me. Here’s what this movie mania taught me:

mamma mia 2 hip bump

1. Sometimes a girl just needs to have fun.

The movie that launched this stretch of dates was Mamma Mia, which I saw with two friends. On opening night. Because we just couldn’t wait. All three of us have gone through stressful or rough seasons lately, and we needed a break. We didn’t need thought-provoking or challenging; we needed colorful and catchy! And boy, did we get it! This movie is so silly and so pointless – and we had a blast watching it. (Also, Lily James is radiant, and I want to watch her in All The Things.)

Sometimes you might need a movie that makes you think or cry or debate. And sometimes you need sequins and disco and sunshine – and that’s okay.

oceans 8 breakfast

2. I can do new things.

Since the day I heard about Ocean’s 8, an all-female heist movie set in the world of the other Ocean’s movies, I have been just dying to see it. I love heist movies! I love Ocean’s movies! I love anything that screams girl power!

I thought I’d be going to this one with my best friend, since it was released near her birthday. Long story short, though, that didn’t work out. So I’ve been waiting for an opportunity…and waiting…and waiting. Finally, I got tired of waiting – and went by myself on a Friday night when my husband was at work, my kids were at my parents’, and my friends were busy.

Yes, I did. I just walked into that theater and bought myself one ticket and watched the movie all by myself!

Maybe you go to the movies alone all the time, but I don’t. The only time I’ve done it was on a weekday morning – you know, when nobody else was around to witness my solo screentime? But this time, I joined the couples and the groups of friends and watched that movie all by myself. And while I kind of wished for someone to discuss it with afterwards (spoiler alert: the movie was fine but not that great, which was altogether disappointing after all my anticipation), watching it alone was nice. I might even do it again sometime.

ant man

3. Spontaneity can add sparks.

For the last seven years my husband has worked nights. I won’t bore you with a long explanation of all the many ways that’s made our life difficult (and I’m going to assume you will give me the benefit of the doubt and know that I’m incredibly grateful for a hard-working husband and a job that provides for our family). But suffice it to say, weekends – when he tried to adjust to a normal daytime schedule – have been rough.

A few weeks ago, though, he switched to working days and no longer keeps vampire hours! It’s been adjustment for our whole family but also feels like a miracle. The first weekend after he began this new shift, we found ourselves wide awake and alone on a Saturday morning. On a whim we decided to go see the latest Marvel movie, and it was so fun! Even though I knew our kids were safe at my parents’ house and we didn’t have anywhere else to be, it felt a little bit like playing hooky or being on vacation.

Mission Impossible

4. But planning ahead is good for relationships, too.

Remember when I said I didn’t get to see Ocean’s 8 with my best friend? That’s because we “played it by ear” on the day we decided to get together for her birthday. We know better. After all, we’ve celebrated birthdays together for more than three decades! We are well aware that making plans is a must. But we played it too cool this time, and we ended up doing a big, fat nothing.

I’ve seen that be the case with far too many friends and family members. How many times have I said, “Yeah, let’s get together soon,” and then NEVER GOTTEN TOGETHER? How many times have you done the same thing?

So, my friend and I learned from our mistakes and planned ahead. When we saw the official date for the opening of the new Mission Impossible movie, we marked our calendars. And then a couple weeks before the release, we confirmed plans to make it a double date with our husbands. And then three days before our date, we bought tickets online. We weren’t going to miss another opportunity to see a movie or spend time together!

spy who dumped me car

5. Not everything is for me.

The fifth movie date is the one that didn’t happen after all. I planned to see The Spy Who Dumped Me with friends on its opening weekend. But the morning before we planned to go out, I read a couple reviews – and decided to skip it.

The reviews were good; the trailers still look hilarious. The cast is super funny, and the plot seems clever. I really did want to see it! (I love spy movies! And more girl power! Also, laughing is my favorite!) But when I learned that the R rating wasn’t just for language (as I’d assumed) and was instead for some graphic violence and nudity, well, I knew I need to forego this one.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t see it! We all have our own boundaries and criteria for what types of media and entertainment work for us. Much to my dismay, this one crossed some boundaries for me. (Just like Incredibles 2 unexpectedly crossed the “too scary” boundary for my youngest daughter. The rest of us thought the movie was fun, but she didn’t like it one bit! Not everything is for me…or for her…or for any of us.)

I didn’t expect to see this many movies in such a short amount of time, but it sure did make for a really fun summertime experience. And hey, I even learned some things!

Do you like seeing movies in the theater? What’s the last good one you saw?

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog, MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts.She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

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How to Create an Anniversary or Date Night Playlist

Monday, June 25th, 2018

How to Create an Anniversary or Date Night Playlist from MomAdvice.com

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

This month my husband and I will celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. And, thanks to my parents keeping our girls the weekend before the big day, we’ll actually get to celebrate with a night on the town.

Lest you think we are exciting and fancy, let me reassure you that “night on the town” really means eating dinner at Olive Garden, strolling around Target, and possibly renting a movie from Redbox. Still, any occasion – fancy night out, casual night at home, and everything in between – can be made a little more special with a playlist.

To help you do that, I’m going to walk you through my process for creating a playlist of songs that mean something to my husband and me – and just might create a romantic mood!

We’re going to talk about a set of decisions you’ll need to make before beginning, as well as how to pick the best songs for your list. And just in case it sparks your memory or creativity, I’ll share some of the songs that might make my own anniversary playlist!

How to Create an Anniversary or Date Night Playlist from MomAdvice.com

First up, decide what tools you’re going to use. Will your list be played on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, or another site or app?

Next, choose a genre. While you and your husband might enjoy all types of music, a collection of songs works better when those songs have something in common (other than your emotional attachment to them). So you don’t have to commit to a dozen New Wave tunes from the 80s, but your songs should at least have the same feel to them.

Finally, decide how long you want the playlist to be. Is it just for the car ride to and from the restaurant? Does it need to last for an entire road trip? Will you only play it during dinner at home after the kids are in bed? Figure out an estimated time frame and select your songs accordingly.

And speaking of selecting songs, here are the types of songs I’d recommend for your anniversary or date night playlist:

What song was playing the night you met or on your first date?

For us this would be What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes or Kissed by a Rose by Seal. Hello, mid-90s!

What song makes you think of your dating days?

Dust on the Bottle by David Lee Murphy, It’s Your Love by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, or anything by John Michael Montgomery, Tom Petty, the Eagles, or Boyz II Men – clearly this will be a challenge for that same genre step!

What song played when you got engaged, or makes you think of your engagement?

I was away at college during our engagement, so Save Tonight by Eagle-Eye Cherry and A Bad Goodbye by Clint Black and Wynonna make me think of that season of long-distance love.

What song(s) played at your wedding or wedding reception?

From This Moment by Shania Twain, You Are the Love of My Life by Sammy Kershaw, One Friend by Dan Seals, and I Know How the River Feels by Diamond Rio were our wedding songs. Yes, we went full country!

What song reminds you of your honeymoon?

You can interpret and answer that song any way you want to… (You could also choose a song that you both liked or that was popular during your days as newlyweds.)

How to Create an Anniversary or Date Night Playlist from MomAdvice.com

What song reflects a difficult time during your relationship?

Without a doubt, this would be Say Something by Great Big World for us. But since I can’t listen to that song now without tearing up, I might lean into the country sound and go with the just-as-fitting Hard to Love by Lee Brice.

What song reflects a season of reconnection or resurrection in your relationship?

I Hold On by Dierks Bentley is one of my favorites, because the lyrics talk about the good side of being stubborn – which is something it took my husband and me a long time to figure out!

What song(s) remind you of your children?

Since I can’t seem to escape the “gone country” theme my list is taking, I guess I’ll put I Love a Rainy Night by Eddie Rabbit and Elvira by The Oak Ridge Boys here. For some reason our girls got a huge kick out of those two songs for most of last year, and even the memory makes us chuckle now.

What current song makes you think of each other?

I don’t know if my husband likes it; I should probably ask him. But Greatest Love Story by Lanco – yes, I’m finishing strong with another country song – makes me think of him and our story every time I hear it.

This started out as a hypothetical idea for me, but thinking through all the songs that mean the most to my husband and me has me feeling nostalgic and lovey-dovey and just maybe like bursting into song. Clearly I’ll be making this playlist today! How about you?

What songs would be on your perfect anniversary or date night playlist?

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog, MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts.She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

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How Rewatching a Favorite Show Made Me a Better Wife and Mom

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

We live in a time of peak television. It’s a real golden age of entertainment – or so the critics tell us. But what is an actual embarrassment of riches when it comes to endless viewing options often translates into overwhelm, decision fatigue, and DVR avoidance. Because while I truly think many new shows sound amazing, when it comes down to picking a show to watch, I skip past the premieres and head straight for the reruns.

Real life means that most nights, I’m too tired to take on a new show — and instead crave the familiarity and comfort of old ones. I think that’s okay. I’ve written in defense of “comfort food TV” before, and I stand by that argument. I must, because a couple months ago, I found myself rewatching “New Girl” from the beginning.

new girl watch tv all day

“New Girl” is a half-hour sitcom starring Zooey Deschanel, and I vaguely recall loving it when it first came on in 2011. Somewhere along the way, though, I got a little bored or it got a little stale, and I stopped looking forward to new episodes. I watched out of loyalty and a mild curiosity about how the story would end. I didn’t even care one way or another when the show was renewed for a final season.

But all that changed when I started back at season one.

I’m not sure why, out of all the sitcoms on Netflix, I picked this one to rewatch — but it only took a few minutes to remember how much I’d once loved it.

As I binged one episode after another, I laughed out loud, often so hard I had tears streaming down my face. I found myself falling back in love with characters that had started to annoy or bore me, and I smiled at their most ridiculous antics with bemusement and affection. I cheered for their victories and ached at their disappointments. I couldn’t get enough of those crazy kids and was suddenly anxious for that final season to begin.

Maybe you’re wondering how on earth this delightful yet inconsequential experience could have anything to do with my life as a wife or mom. I get that. It seems like a stretch. But it’s not really. Not to me.

See, as I thought about how much my appreciation for this show was renewed by watching old seasons, I remembered a conversation I had with a friend several years ago. I was struggling with my oldest, whose behavior and sassy attitude were making it incredibly difficult to like her. OF COURSE I LOVED HER. But I think most moms know the feeling of loving our kids (or, ahem, our husbands) while not particularly liking or enjoying them much.

new girl murder someone

My friend listened with kindness and understanding — and then suggested I start each day by looking at my daughter’s baby pictures. She wondered if looking at photos of my daughter at her sweetest, most innocent, and most adorable might help me dig up some affection for her, even on the most challenging parenting days. We discussed how that act might just give me a likable anchor to hold onto when backtalk and disobedience threatened my patience once again.

And you know what? It works.

No, looking at Facebook’s On This Day reminders doesn’t magically drown out my daughters’ tantrums or arguments, and flipping through scrapbooks doesn’t erase the memory of a call from her teacher or a messy room or a dinner declared, “disgusting.” But it does balance out the harder parts of parenting with the sweet ones. And it does fill up my heart and my mind with all the good things about my kids that get overlooked when we’re dealing with the hard stuff.

This strategy works for my marriage, too.

On days when I’m most frustrated or disappointed with my husband, taking a look at our wedding photos or a vacation album really does pull me back from the edge. It doesn’t move his shoes out of the middle of the floor or write a love note inside the belated anniversary card. It certainly doesn’t teach us to communicate better or force us to consider one another’s feelings more. But glancing at a moment of joy captured and framed (or scrapbooked) reminds me that this irritating man is the one I chose and the one I love — and that though everyday challenges feel like they’ll never end, we’ve been in sync and happy before (and will certainly get there again).

Rewatching a favorite show that I’ve lost interest in reminded me why I fell in love with the show and the characters all those years ago. It refreshed my affection for the characters, bringing back to mind all the times I’d been moved or inspired or simply entertained by them. I remembered how much the good times outweighed the bad ones, and my desire to spend more time with a new season grew with every relived memory.

new girl bathroom

Reminiscing about my favorite people, who just might drive me crazy at times, does the same thing. It takes me back to the early days of our relationship, when I basically looked like a heart-eyes emoji and only saw the good in him or her. It reminds me of all the amazing times we’ve had together. And it gives me a big picture perspective, interrupting my in-the-trenches belief that the [hard] way it is today is how it will always be. I’m reminded how happy we’ve been in the past and feel hopeful that we’ll feel that way again. I remember that I’m in this — parenting, marriage, even friendship — for the long haul, through the best seasons and the worst.

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog, MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.