Super smart strategy every child should master

Have you ever gone to find something like a book or a top and an hour later you’ve just reorganized the books or cleaned your closet? Maybe you found the missing item, maybe you didn’t.  You might not even remember now why you’re here but you do feel better about sorting through this particular mess.

Sorting helps us find things.

Sorting helps us notice things.

There is a purpose for sorting.

Like their parents not all children are good at sorting. But everyone has to know how to do it. Sorting is a lot more involved if we really think about it.

Empowering our children to succeed now and in the future with this super smart strategy that every child should master, even though it's hard for some :)

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The Weekly Marriage and Family Meeting – where relationships are nurtured

Simple way to keep positive conversation going within the family with a weekly marriage and family meeting. Grab the free printable for your next conversation at

Things always seem to go smoother when both my husband and I are on the same page. Just this past week we’ve had sickness in the family so we’ve been back to broken sleep, frequent visits to the doctor or to get medicine. Since we’d been out of our regular routine we didn’t get a chance to catch up with family things.

Regularly during the week we try to share what’s going on with the family and have a chance to talk about us- what’s on our mind. We’ve been doing it regularly and during times like recently it’s easy for this casual family meeting to get bumped.

Meeting regularly together as family happens during our family roundtables but we found we needed a special space to talk…

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Back to School: Family Values for the Month


Starting with family values as you start the school year. Let's get talking!

Family values help glue our families together. Yet we don’t often talk about it openly within our family or to our children. Our children learn our values from seeing what we do and watching others. It’s not until we see something happen right before our eyes that we realize that maybe we haven’t shared this value very well. A lot of what happens within family we just hope the children will just pick it up, get it and do it. The conversation though is what counts.

This school year we’re taking a closer look at character and values. We’re taking a whole month where we focus on a value we really want to see.

  1. the value goes on the electronic calendar so everyday I’m reminded of the value and how I can try and show it.
  2. the value will show up in our family roundtable discussion
  3. the value will show up as a dinner time conversation through a Character Conversation Card.( Buy a pack from my store)

Character Conversation Cards- a sample

Download your Character Conversation Card

How often?

Not everyday or all the time. But there is lots of opportunity to bring values into the open with video, news reports and recalled stories from the day.

One of our core family values is time and simplicity. There’s always time to stop and have a chat. Over a cup of tea and an English biscuit of course. Spending time together is important. It doesn’t mean it happens all the time. But we make time to find time because it is during this time with each other that we listen, laugh and learn.

We learn to be kinder, have more empathy, vent and disagree appropriately ( well we’re on our way- still not there yet!) Keeping family life simple and holding that space allows you to decompress during the week without a full timetable of activities. There will always be weeks where activities ramp up, we adjust but we become a lot more deliberate about holding us back to what we want to be.

Wonderfully we all have such different families.

We are swept along. We are influenced. We stumble.

We choose our direction.

Next steps…

Take a moment now to think of a value for the coming month.

Don’t make this hard.

Choose one from the printable that best fits your family. Sometime in that month talk about that value and in twelve months time you’ll have shared your values intentionally a minimum of twelve times spoken about things you wanted. It feels good to be ahead instead of catching up.

Talking about values helps us get ahead. Imagine how friendship groups with our children would be if you knew the families of your friends talked about friendship, being a friend, generosity, firmness, speaking up, speaking out, tolerance?

Celebrating Family Values. Which one is your focus this month?

Download this printable


Back to School Series

  1. Back to School: Figuring out the Family Media Plan

Family goals and priorities for February

Family goals and priorities Feb

Although I love making goals I need some accountability in reaching them.

I’m sure I’m not alone there. Since I’m a big believer in scheduling things to get it done I’m also good at rescheduling and bumping myself of my own schedule. Just to be transparent. So in a bid to get more of the positive things I want and dream for the family started I’ve joined a new linky where we share our monthly goals.

Started is a better way ( instead of word of the year) for me in 2015. Many times I flesh out an entire project or idea and something happens and I can’t see how it can fit anymore. The whole thing gets benched. But if I get started then there is a chance to continue. When I stop it’s not a stop it is a pause. I can dive right back in. With this in mind, all the goals are things I want to do but most of all get started, keep going and be consistent. If I don’t keep going I can circle back around and once I get past keeping going then the point is to remain consistent.

I don’t have a hard time with this system although it might seem like a get out of jail free card. Our home life ebbs and flows depends on work, health, life and the kids. While there are some rigid things there’s also plenty of flexibility. The problem is keeping account of where you deduct you time from when you’re flexible.

I’m going to share two areas; family goals and personal goals.

I’d designed the Simple Parenting and Play Planner out of the need to have more of our family dreams and ideas a chance to actually come to light. So I’ll sometimes share what I’m doing with my planner too.


Family goals

Here I’ll talk about the children and as parents the parenting things we’ll do.

  • Find a just right pillar candle for dinner. We had one before we moved but you can’t take candles with you when you move overseas. I just noticed that it’s missing from our dinner ritual.
  • Work with the kids for a better and more effective set up and clean up at dinner time. It’s almost there but a few key parts are missed. I’m really looking for pride in doing a good job because we stopped to observe that it was complete, not that it was done perfectly. Many times I call the boys back for something because they got distracted and didn’t finish. When I call them back and say, ‘ Can you see something that’s not right?’ they can. I want to see fewer call backs and them saying a mantra or doing something to do that final look over. So when I ask them that question they can say no. Done not perfect is what I think.
  • Read aloud before the bus in the morning:
    The Island of Thieves   and complete this book by the end of the month and find a new one.
  • During our Family Roundtable: talk about family trips, places to see and things to do from the planner

Personal goals

Here I’ll talk about things for me.


Birthday Rituals

February is a birthday month so there’s the fun of the birthday rituals to plan.

Rituals that are simple, repeatable year on year and express love and family.

Simple love birthday rituals printable
free printable


Be sure to check out more monthly goal setting

hosted by Mama Smiles, Multi Crafting Mummy, Kitchen Floor Crafts,
3 Dinosaurs, Something 2 Offer, and Play Activities.

Guide to a Simple Christmas and Holiday season

Finding a way to have a Simple Christmas and Holiday season that you want.

We spent a flour filled few hours making cookies and creating a happy mess this weekend. The crowns weren’t perfect and some of the Gingerbread men had arms and legs missing. We laughed throughout the whole process because when three boys work there’s always laughter, things go wrong.

Once December comes I don’t want to think that all is lost. I have to give in to the rush of Christmas. I have to go to every concert. I have to have a fun advent activity ( And if I miss one, we’ve failed!) Everyone is X and Y this year. Maybe I should too?

It’s all so easy for us to go with the flow of what’s happening around us. Don’t you feel the tug?

You said this year you wanted a slower holiday season full of the reason for the season. You said you wanted to buy less and experience more. You said you wanted to not feel bad because you don’t have a energy to do lots of play activities in the evening. You said you wanted a simple Christmas. But you’re feeling the tug to go with the flow.

There are lots of us about who want more than wanting to simplify Christmas. We want to do it.

Have a look through these links and feel encouraged and energised to continue to simplify your Christmas and holiday season so you experience the joys of the season for your family- simply. Pin articles to read for later and listen as you  shop. Dive deep and long into slow and simple Christmas and holiday season.  You’re amongst friends.

Guide to a Simple Christmas and Holiday season

Surviving the Holidays w/ Mariah Joy :: Little Sprigs

A Simple 4 Step Guide For Cultivating your Desired Holiday Experience.

Keeping Christmas Cozy :: Creative with Kids

Guide you to YOUR best holiday season with more ‘cozy and connected’ and less ‘frazzled and frantic’.

Creating memories to cherish during the holiday season :: Play Activities

When you’re feeling discouraged stop and read.

Letting Go of The Christmas Rush :: Dirt and Boogers

Making a new simple Christmas plan

Slow Holidays :: Erin Goodman

Three-week program that will help you slow down, savor and enjoy the things that matter most this holiday season in this warm online retreat.

The Weight Of Making Christmas Magical :: Lemon Lime Adventures

Finding your voice and confidence to do Christmas your way.

5 words for an abundant holiday season :: Abundant Mama

Follow the simplicity of the season with some intention

25 Ways to Slow Down & Enjoy the Holidays with Your Kids :: Edventures with Kids

Instant slow down activities with little or no planning

7 Simple Ways to Enjoy More & Spend Less This Christmas :: Living Well Spending Less

Take time to prepare for the season

 How to enjoy the holidays (stress free) :: A Mom with a Lesson Plan

Less cramming everything in and more picking just what you want

Holiday Stress and Honoring Your Own Hungers:: Abundant Mama

Inspiration and encouragement for your simple Christmas and holiday season

Letting Go of Perfection This Holiday Season :: Lasso the Moon

Life is too short to waste time comparing ourselves with others.

How to be Intentional About the Holidays :: I’m an Organizing Junkie

Picking what suits and being intentional about what you leave behind

Crafting your Simple Holiday Season:: Raising Playful Tots

One full of lasting memories, interesting stories, opportunities to veg out and just be. As well as time for festive activities we love with the family.

crafting your simple Christmas and holiday season

Pin for later:

Finding a way to have a Simple Christmas and Holiday season that you want.

Create a Family Playlist for Clean Up

Cleaning up is way more fun when you have clean up music.

Create a family playlist and clean up will be so much easier

Ask your preschooler. Clean up music makes all the difference to get things done.

Some of my clearest memories are of my parents singing and getting down when a favourite tune came over the radio. That sounds so old school now but when you didn’t control the music and your jam came on. Phew! Sometimes you had to stop and just rock out. Seeing my usually very straight laced parents cut loose, in their way you must understand; smile big and sing is a memory I cherish.

We sing a lot in our family. We mimic Lyle from Veggetales and sing instructions. Usually when we’re starting to get tense. It’s our way of trying to calm ourselves down as we’re rapidly moving through 7 and 8 on the way to 10!

Used positively we love to sing, dance and rock out while we wash dishes and clean up the kitchen. After the meal explosion of dishes, plates, cutlery, pots, pans there’s the sweeping up and setting things back straight. With a family of three boys we try and do this together so it doesn’t take as long and frankly I want the boys to not just arrive eat and leave. So it’s a family affair…clean up.

I don’t know about you but I’m tired after a full day of work, kids, cooking and life and the kids can be a little niggly, pick on the slightest thing, not want to be here and yes be tired too. All of us in that tight space can add up to snappy turtles after usually a lovely peaceful pleasant meal. Boo!

Music changes the mood and we all can shuffle, smile, laugh at the new lyrics we all are sure the singer says and GET THE JOB done in a smoother simpler way. Creating a family playlist happened because it’s too hard to keep finding the individual songs. We have ipods and an ipod station so we just load up onto our family playlist and keep on going.

What gets on the Clean up Family Playlist?

Some or all of these in no particular order:

  • upbeat anthem
  • Something from the past ( so mummy and daddy tell a story about it!)
  • Something new ( the kids can choose)
  • Family sensitive lyrics ( or lots of explanation)
  • something you nod your head to, jiggle, do a little dance, hold your hands in the air… know the score.:)

Like all good radio stations we have a fun DJ played by one of us. We have all request live where each one in the family can request from the playlist one song. That’s five songs for us already and after that we shuffle songs or let the songs play on.

So here’s your mix tape.  It’s just a selection from our clean up family playlist. Load up your own family playlist of music and play play play.

You know you need this because….

We’re all about creating memories and smiley times. Turning a potential hotspot of cleaning up after dinner and grumble time into laughing, singing tidy fest. You can’t beat good times like this! Connecting with our kids in a positive way after all the other stuff we have to do as parents.

I hope they have those good memories of mum and dad laughing, singing and smiling to balance out those discipline memories when we need to parent.


  1. We Built This City  by  Starship
  2. Paradise  by Coldplay
  3. Everything Is Awesome!!! from LEGO soundtrack
  4. Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) by Chris Tomlin
  5. You gotta be by Des’ree
  6. Something inside so strong by Labi Siffre
  7. Just Give Me a Reason by P!nk feat. Nate Ruess
  8. Dancing in the Moonlight by Toploader
  9. The Bare Necessities from the Jungle Book
  10. Seasons of love from Rent Soundtrack

What would you have on your clean up playlist?

If you enjoyed this post about family atmosphere,  follow my Pinterest board Family Atmosphere and Simple rhythms and schedules in the home

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I’ll earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that I can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

72 Ways To Have Better Times With Our Kids

Hands up if you’re feeling a bit tired and stretched this week!

Me too.

Is there’s a cloud hanging over the family and you’re looking for that sunshine to bathe in? That warm light of laughter, smiles and connection to return.

We want to have better relationships with our spouse and our kids but things just happen and we get into a rut or a funk. How do we bridge those places and have better times with our kids?

Fun ways to have better times with our kids

Here’s a go to list that you can grab something off here and run with it. I know it’s hard when we want to have better times with our kids.

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Appreciation Boards for Families

Make an Appreciation board

How long is too long to be cross and moody?

How do you come back after a dramatic exit?….and when?

As families we won’t always agree with each other and it’s in these disagreements that everything seems to go pear shaped.

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What would you put on your not to do list ?

So glad to find Not to do lists. Create some space with not to do lists. A creative solution to the adding more problem with to do lists.

To do lists seem daunting. You start with good intentions and before long you have a list that runs on forever.

How in the world are you supposed to be motivated to get through it all?

As regular fall of the wagon of to do lists,I find myself back in the place of needing them. We’re getting ready to move from the UK to the US as part of our military move. So yes we need to dust off the to do list and fire that list up again.

As you can tell I’m really not excited by the prospect of the to do list because lists and decluttering really drains me ( and many of us!)

But we know we need to do it. I wish it was catching to be energised by to do lists. But it is not. So we have to find the motivation from somewhere.

In my distraction pursuit of to do lists I came across, “Not to do lists”.  Jim Collins in his book- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t and Tim Ferriss in his book- The 4-Hour Workweek both talk about stripping away things you don’t want to do and now you have time to do the things you want to do.

Since we all have the same hours in a day how we choose to use that time is critical.  When we look at our parenting and what we do at home we could do with saying no a few more times.

You see the things is we want to be productive, have fun and get things done. We want to be a less busy parent and have time instead of that mantra-, ” I just didn’t have enough time”.

Parents like us find ourselves doing many things that distract us from what we really want to do. Before we can add and make our to do lists of family fun, family habits and family time  what is it that we need to slim down on or just stop?  What really takes our energy and time in a normal day ?

Focus on one or two of these at a time. I hope they trigger some ideas for you so you can make your own not to do list.

 Parenting Not To Do list

1. Do not fill your precious moments endlessly scrolling. Set a time limit and a timer. 

All that scrolling adds up. There was a reason you got on to look or do something. Do it and get off. Treat your time like the valuable commodity it is.

2.  Do not spend ( much of) your time in the company of people who drain your energy.

Online forums and groups, anonymous commenters, family members, friends of friends- you know your trigger places. You become like who you hang around. Your parents told you that when you were in school and now even as adults we forget. Limit the amount of time you dwell in these situations. You want to be happier, healthier, productive then you need to spend more time with these type of people who will build you up and not tear you down, distract, confuse and depress you.

3. Don’t start the day without a plan.

Yes…it does sound like a to do list. But what I mean is whether it’s the night before or before everyone is awake- take time to decide a focus, a priority for the day. Write or type it- whatever your way but have it there as a testament to what you want to do today. It makes all the difference as you try to get to it than just going with the flow.

4. Don’t keep adding activities and actions into your family without taking some out.

Less is more. But in our pursuit for better we add this one more thing, this new habit. We need to take away, limit and be strong enough to make family decisions that work for our family.

5.  Don’t stop seeing, listening, learning and taking action.

  • Keep our minds open to new ideas or ways of doing things
  • Notice how things works for others and how you might adapt it for your family.

6. Ditch the tap tap tap machine and cultivate that relationship.

Have the self control to have phone, ipad and computer free times during the week and during the weekend. Set reasonable limits and times and slide on down to get more time away. More time with your loved ones. Cultivate those relationships and adapt to the lifestyles of split shifts, night shifts, oncall spouses but find a way.

7. Don’t miss the beautiful people you have in your family while trying to overcome the latest hurdle.

Backchat is something that’s slowly been creeping into our house lately and we’ve been trying to find the cure. As it happens we think of what we should say and do. When the children aren’t around we are wondering. It was consuming us. Then they produce a lovely piece from school or tell a story with such fire that your heart melts.  Don’t miss these nuggets of relief and rays of light.

8. Don’t give perfection a safe haven in your home.

If you’re a people pleaser you know what I mean with wanting everything to be perfect in your home ( relationship/ parenting). There’ll always be someone or something better. If we wait on perfection nothing good ever gets done. Dive in. Make your mistakes. Find your happy spots. Done is better than perfect. Do overs are often available. Perfection often paralyses us into no action and lost opportunities.

It’s easy to become stuck and spiral the wrong way as a parent. Reading and listen to new things every week.

What is great about moving is the chance for a reset. Complete change to how we parent and do family. Somethings we do are location and culturally dependent . With a new country we get a chance to try something new and decide which things are the most important to us plus decide what we don’t want to do anymore because it’s not good for us right now.

You don’t have to be moving to make your not to do list. Just have a burning desire to be more effective and as a result happier.

Some inspiration to help you with your own- not to do lists

The Not-To-Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now – Four Hour Work Week

Six Things to Put on Your To-Not-Do List– Forbes

The Not-Do List: 9 Things You Need To Stop Doing– Lifehack

What one thing would you have on your not to do list?


Three things you should embrace as a new mother

3 things you should embrace as a new mother.jpg

New beginnings!

So exciting………. I remember being a new mother. If I could go back and talk to me. What would I say? There are so many things spinning around in your mind. Let’s quieten that and get a little focus. What three habits will help the big picture?

Get this bit right and everything else seems easier to manage.

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