Simple Valentine’s Day Ideas for the Entire Family

While we aim to show love to our family every day, Valentine’s Day gives us an excuse to be a little more intentional and create some memories to strengthen our family culture.

However, this can be difficult since Valentine’s Day often falls on a school day during an already busy week.  Here are some fun, yet easy ideas to make memories with your family, simply.

Simple Ideas for Family Memories on Valentine's Day
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Learn the True Story of St. Valentine

While there are many versions available, we prefer listening to the Adventures in Odyssey version.  Find it at WhitsEnd.org on Valentine’s Day and for a week after!

Pink and Red Food

Many foods can easily be dyed pink or red (naturally!) for a fun twist on your normal menu.  Blend a few strawberries or raspberries into pancake batter; make a strawberry or raspberry smoothie or add dried (or fresh) cranberries to your favorite chocolate chip cookie or muffin recipe.

Serve a Special Dessert

Dessert isn’t a normal part of our meal plan.  Since I save desserts for special occasions, even a simple dessert makes a meal a celebration!  This year I’m making Trim Healthy Mama Cheesecake (from the cookbook).  Cheesecake is my husband’s favorite, and when made in a pie plate instead of a springform pan, is super easy too!  I’m also making my non-cheesecake loving child Brownie Pudding Cake (very similar to this recipe); it’s super quick and easy, and he loves it!

Love Scavenger Hunt

This idea of a love scavenger hunt by Big Family Blessings is cute and easy to do with all ages.  Use a different color of construction paper for each member of your family.  This would be a fun one to prep during the day with the kids as a surprise for Dad when he gets home from work.

Family Movie Night

Stuffed Suitcase lists 25 movies to choose from for a family movie night.  Our favorites from this list are Tangled and Wall-E.

Valentine’s Day Craft

I’m not a crafting with kids mama, but here are some fun ideas (from Kid Friendly Things To Do) if this is what you and your kids enjoy!

Valentine’s Day Science

Less crafty and more science fun, I know my kids would love these STEM activities from Little Bins for Little Hands.

Share the Love

Are you still looking for Valentine’s gift ideas for the school class party?  These applesauce cups (by Savoring the Good) and these chips bags (by Meet Penny) are a creative and much less sugary option than candy!

Do you have a favorite Valentine’s Day idea?  Please share in the comments!

New Year, New Habits

Happy 2018!  The holidays are over, the new year is here.  Time to recover from the excess sugar and stuff and get back to what really matters.  The new year is often a time to start over; a time of making grand resolutions with the assumption that dramatic changes will give us a dramatically better life.

New Year, New Habits
New Year, New Habits

New Habits

If you have ever made new year’s resolutions, you know the problems with this.  Dramatic changes are rarely sustainable, especially when several dramatic changes are made at once.

But that’s OK!  Dramatic changes don’t make for a dramatically better life.  Consistent, sustainable habits lead to dramatic life change.  This is great news for us as we begin a new year!  It’s not needed (and actually harmful) to make grand dramatic changes.  Small changes we can commit to, that is where real success happens!

What small changes can you commit to this year?

Here are a few ideas:

Diet:

  • I will eat a protein rich snack or meal every 3-4 hours.
  • I will drink more sugar-free, caffeine-free fluids every day.
  • I will not snack between meals/snacks.
  • I will create a capsule menu.

Exercise:

  • I will make time for 20 minutes of exercise 3 times a week.
  • I will do less cardio and more strength training.
  • I will stretch every morning (or evening).

Home:

  • I will de-clutter the area of my home (each week or month) that drives me the most crazy. (kids’ toys, clothes, kitchen gadgets, bath towels etc.)
  • I will develop a cleaning routine that works for me.
  • I will develop a laundry routine that works for me.

Family

Success = Good Enough

Perfection does not equal success.  Success happens when we reach the good enough level at least 80% of the time.  You get to determine your own good enough level.  Do this by setting realistic goals for yourself: a healthy, balanced meal NOT a gourmet meal; 10 minutes of cleaning NOT deep cleaning the entire bathroom; getting dressed (in real clothes) each day NOT trying to look like a French fashion model!

Setting realistic goals and expectations for yourself (and others) ensures success. And success encourages more success!

Replace a Habit You Want to Change With a New Habit

Do you reach for a sugary snack in the afternoons?  Replace it with a protein rich trail mix with a few dark chocolate pieces.  Do you want to spend less time on your phone and read more books?  Download a Kindle app and a new book or leave your phone on the counter and read a bit before going to bed.

Change Your Perspective

Sometimes all it takes is a change of perspective to make something go from drudgery to enjoyable.  Getting up early on cold, dark winter mornings doesn’t sound like much fun.  But when I choose to see my getting up early as “me” time to relax and prepare for my day, I look forward to it!

Habits Take Time

It takes time for new routines to become habits.  Experts say from 21-30 days.  Give yourself time.  Develop one or two new habits each month.  What could your life look a year from now with 12 new habits?!

What habits do you want to adopt this year?  What one thing are you going to start with?

The “Less Stuff” Gift Guide for Kids

Christmas, Valentines, Easter, Birthdays, Just Because…Kids seem to get so many gifts and so much stuff! If you desire to lead a simpler life, less controlled by stuff, this can cause many problems in your home!

You (and your kids) have spent a lot of time de-cluttering and finding “homes” for the things you love and need.  But more stuff keeps coming in.

People like to give gifts to kids…They like the grand reaction kids give upon the opening of something new. But as a parent, this means you either have to find a place to put all.this.stuff or get rid of some stuff.  And having your kids be forced to decide what new stuff or other loved stuff to get rid of causes them strong emotions and stress.

Here is a gift guide for the kids in your life.  We either have these things and really like them, or they are things I am putting on the list for my kids this year.

Here are my favorite books to gift.

AUDIO STORIES

Audio gifts are great for kids and work well for a variety of ages.  They are great for long car trips but also for when some quiet, chill time is needed at home.  It will keep their minds busy while their hands can be doing something else (drawing/coloring, play dough, knitting, blocks/building, etc).  For even less stuff, encourage the gift as an MP3 download on a USB drive!

EDUCATIONAL TOYS, GAMES & ACTIVITIES

  • Spot It Jr! Animals and Spot It! On the Road
    • We have both of these and love them!  The animal one can be played by kids as young as two, as long as they know their animals and can speak clearly enough to be understood.  This is a good game for all ages to play together and is quick for use with limited time.  This sports one also looks fun!
  • I’m adding the games BlinkLoot, and Suspend  to the list of games we’d like to try.
  • Mighty Mind
    • We have this and use it often…the magnetic version is helpful, especially for younger children.
    • We would like the add the Zoo edition cards to our current set.
  • Magazine Subscriptions: Ranger RickClubhouse, Clubhouse Jr.
    • We get all three of these magazines and the kids love getting mail each month.
  • Kids Cook Real Food E-Course
    • We have been working our way through this.  The kids are enjoying it and often ask when we can do another lesson, also it is a gift to YOU because you will get help in the kitchen!
  • A season pass to a zoo, children’s museum, science museum, community center, etc.
    • Last year we received a season pass to a (smallish) local zoo.  The kids (and parents) loved it and it has been asked for again!
  • A “gift certificate” for a fun outing: tickets to a play or movie, a trip to the ice cream shop, etc.  Last year our family was taken snow tubing and out for pizza: it was a fun time with loved ones!
  • Pay for a session of lessons: swimming lessons, dance lessons, a Community Education class, etc.  This gives the child a chance to try something new!
  • harmonica or for more than one child get a harmonica set like this one or this one.
    • Encourage the love of music and  save the ears of those who will listen to all the “practicing”!  Getting a set in keys that sound well together, will help the listeners if there is more than one child!

Creative Consumables are useful to have because they encourage creativity AND get used up!

Useful Items

  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Water Bottle or Travel Mug
  • Apron
  • Work Gloves
  • Hat & Mitten Set
  • Item of clothing with a meaning…like a school sweatshirt or from a favorite vacation spot or a favorite sports team
  • Natural nail polish for kids and adults

My one tip for a simpler gift buying is to buy all your gifts online!  If you have Amazon Prime, now is the time to take full advantage of it and if you don’t (we do not) plan ahead and just order all at once to get free shipping.  I’ve also used Costco.com and Target.com for fast and free shipping!

What is your best “less stuff” gift for kids?