Let your child get bored

In a world that is so fast-paced, we need to let our children become bored from time to time! Boredom actually allows the brain to recover from the overstimulated world that we live in.

So many parents think that it’s their responsibility to fill every moment of their child’s time with activities, extracurriculars or screens. We all know how it feels to see the moms on social media doing ALL the things— crafts, field trips, baking, sports, dance and so on. I’ve been there finding myself wondering, “am I doing enough?” And that’s one of the best parts about embracing and encouraging this unstructured time— no more guilt! We can let that go because boredom is actually GOOD for them!

Being bored teaches us that life isn’t all rainbows and fireworks because as adults, we all know know that IT IS NOT.

Unstructured down time encourages creativity, independent thinking, and problem solving skills. Allowing that open ended time gives our children the opportunity to explore their inner selves and the world around them, diving deep into their interests and discovering their unique skills and passions! We aren’t nurturing them by giving them a toy that makes all of the noise for them or plopping them in front of the TV OR keeping them so busy that they don’t get to spend any time with themselves.

When a child is bored, it allows their minds to wander. As stated above, it’s not our jobs to entertain our kids but rather give them tools to be imaginative and creative. If we spend our time filling up our children’s spare time, they’ll never learn to do it for themselves. Boredom is good for the brain!

“I think it’s necessary to let kids get bored once in a while— that’s how they learn to be creative.” – Kim Raver

Do you let your kid(s) get bored?

xxoo Kate

How to afford wooden toys on a budget

I’m cheap. I love a good deal. I hate spending a ton of money if I don’t have to. If you’re like me, keep reading… Here’s what I do to afford our wooden toys—

Sell things you no longer want or need.

I often sell random things around the house to fund the toys we want. I’ve been on a semi-minimalist journey for a few years now and it feels so good to get rid of clutter and unused toys from around the house. In return, we can afford those special pieces we’ve been wanting. Utilize Facebook marketplace, BST (buy sell trade) pages, Craigslist, Poshmark, Mercari, whatever works best for you. Another thing to note is that these toys hold their value. Most of the time, if you sell in the right place, you can get back what you paid if not more depending on the item.

*If you’re new to Mercari, here’s a discount for you: click here!

Shop second hand.

As stated above, wooden toys really hold their value so it’s not often that you can get a huge steal, but it happens from time to time. Keep your eyes out on all of the pages mentioned above and you just might find a needle in the haystack! This has happened with us several times so be persistent, it does happen!

Go thrifting.

You don’t need the name brands when it comes to wooden toys. Wooden blocks are wooden blocks and they’re amazing either way! And sometimes, you do find the sought after brands. I come from a small town and I remember thinking “eh, I’ll never find anything like that here” but I was so wrong! One time I found a small set of blocks with different rainbow shakers inside of them and when I looked them up, they were worth over $55 and I got them for $1.49. I’m not trying to sit here and brag about my finds, I’m simply stating that it makes it THAT much more rewarding and exciting when you do happen upon something. Again, keep your eyes out at all times.

A cute toy car I found for $2.49
A cute toy car I found for $2.49

Get crafty.

You don’t need to be super crafty to do some of these things!

Make some peg dolls, they’re super easy and can be purchased for a very fair price. Add some paint and wa-la! I made these rainbow peg dolls for my youngest daughter as a first try and they were really fun. I’m excited to make more and get even more detailed!

Items for purchase: peg dolls, paint markers, paints

Things like these would also be super easy to make too! Volcanoes, houses, wooden rings (purchase here) etc. (pictures below are not mine, used for reference).

Make a list give it out on special occasions.

Many of us know what it’s like to hear “what does little Benny want for his birthday?” And then panic sets in because you can’t think of anything in that moment. If you don’t have present family/friends in your life, the above options are very effective! However if you do, I encourage you to keep an ongoing list of “wants” available for times like these! You could even ask that loved ones go in on a gift together because some can be quite expensive! Encourage them to keep their eyes out for certain things throughout the year because the more people searching for you, the better!

Don’t know what the wooden toy hype is all about? I break it all down for you here!

Those are my tips on how to acquire wooden toys on a budget! Do you have anything to add? Please leave your ideas down in the comments!

xxoo Kate

Wooden toys, what’s the hype?

First I want to start off by saying— The influencers that speak about wooden toys like it ain’t no thaaang to acquire them, are speaking from a place of privilege. To most people, the price points are quite shocking. I’ve been there. Like why on earth are we out here buying $100+ rainbows?! There’s so much more to it, so let me explain.

Quality over quantity.

Yes, that price at first is like *mini heart attack* however, most people investing in wooden toys know that it’s because they want quality goods. I know what you’re thinking, who doesn’t? Many people will choose to buy ONE big set of wooden building blocks vs five plastic-flashy-noisy-toys. The plastic-flashy-noisy toys will not last as long because there are way more moving parts, pieces, lights, etc. that can break or malfunction. (I’d love to touch more on the value of open ended play later on if you’re interested).

They’re open ended.

Oskars Wooden Ark does a good job at describing what opened ended play is- Open-ended play can be described as play that has no pre-determined limitations and no fixed answer – children simply follow their imagination to allow the play to go in any direction their creativity takes them. As there are no set outcomes, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ with open-ended play. Read more here.

Many plastic-flashy-noisy toys do not allow for this as they do the thinking for the child. For example, a toy truck that makes noises and flashes its lights, does not allow for the child to think for themselves by making the “beep beep” or “vroom” noises or simply imagining the lights. The imagination doesn’t have to work quite as hard. Working our children’s imagination is IMPORTANT because play, IS a child’s work. Wooden blocks are one of the best things you can purchase for your child. The possibilities are endless.

Better for the environment.

For a lot of people, the environmental factor is a huge reason they choose the wooden route. It seems like just more recently I’ve noticed a lot of anti-plastic movements and it’s great. I love that for the environment. Do we personally own plastic toys? Here and there, yes, but we are more conscious of it and I think it’s something everyone should be aware of.

Plastic toys account for 90% of the toy market. On average, the plastic toys are only played with for 6 months. Plastic toys have a shorter lifespan and they’re rarely recycled. It’s not often that a toy actually qualifies for recycling because they’re frequently made with other metals. You know what that means… they find themselves in a landfill. In 2014 Americans generated 33 million tons of plastic. We’ve got to do better.

Healthier for your family.

The health effects of the chemicals used in plastic toys are not fully known. One common chemical used is phthalates. Phthalates are known to cause birth defects and cancer. And don’t get me started on the toys made overseas. Those are even less regulated and many have been shown to contain lead, yes lead! Children are of course at higher risk of being exposed to these chemicals because toys commonly make their way to the mouth.

Fund a neighbor, not a large corporation

Many wooden toys can be purchased from small shops, Etsy, craft shows, local co ops, thrifted etc. I’m sure you’d agree that you’d like your money to go into a neighbor’s pocket rather than one of a big corporation’s overflowing money bags.

*Please don’t be shy about asking seller’s if they’re CPSC compliant. In 2008 Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) – this act states that all manufacturers must pay a qualified lab to test and certify any product intended for children (otherwise known as a “third party test”) and label all relevant products accurately in case of a recall. Read more here.

Can be used as heirloom toys.

Wooden toys last! Heirloom toys are toys that can be passed down from generation to generation and they function just as wonderfully as they did in the past. They’re used as a special keepsake to be given to grandchildren one day!

Cult Facebook pages, not necessary, not recommended.

Don’t join the cult-like Facebook groups unless you’ve got a seriously strong willpower to resist the social pressure and pandemonium. I’ve joined a couple myself and people go CRAZY over new releases, buying and reselling, having the newest and most sought after pieces. I’m not kidding, people are in there forking over thousands of dollars. DON’T DO IT.

So as you can see, purchasing/acquiring wooden toys is done for many different reasons, all of which are pretty good if you ask me. If you’re wondering how you can buy wooden toys on a tight budget, click here!

Also coming soon- popular and loved wooden toy brands, our favorites and more! If Amazon is more your speed, click here to explore some of the toys we adore!

xxoo Kate

10 Ways to Get Your Kids to Drink More Water

Sometimes it can be so hard to get children to drink water. I think it’s safe to say that most kids lean towards the sugary drinks if given the option, but that’s not a very healthy habit to form. Things like juice or some chocolate cashew milk (my children’s fave) is fine here and there but what about the water?! Here are some fun ideas to get them drinking that H2O.

  1. Make it a game. Sometimes we all sit down at the table and have a chugging contest to see who can drink their water the fastest. My kids are really competitive with odd things like this so they are always excited when they “win”!
  2. Add fruit. Adding fruit whether it be lemons or strawberries makes it so much yummier! These stainless steel tea infusers are fun for the kids to dangle in their own cups. There are also water bottles that have infusers built in like this one. OR- just toss the chunks in.
  3. Offer a reward. Sometimes a chocolate chip goes a long way. “Finish that water and I’ll sneak you a choco-chip”—Works like a charm.
  4. Have them eat ice chips. I don’t know what it is about ice, but my kids could munch on ice chips all day. If you don’t have a built in ice maker, these portable ice makers are pretty cool!
  5. Add a dash of juice. I know we try to avoid the sugar but if it gets them to drink a whole glass of 99.9% water, the trade-off is worth it in my book. My kids love when I add a dash of apple juice.
  6. Put it in a fun cup. Sometimes putting water it in a water bottle or fancy glass makes it more fun to drink! My kids seem to carry it around with them and sip on it all day.
  7. Set a good example. Sometimes I exaggerate when I’m drinking water like, “MMM, this water is SOOOO good. I just love water. Water is the best.” It becomes a bit more appealing because they seem to want whatever I have these days.
  8. Explain to them why our body needs it. I have one kid who needs to know ALL the whys! Often times, if I just give her the reminder that our bodies need it to function, that’s enough. Disclaimer- This will likely not work on feral children. I know this from experience.
  9. Give them a straw. Straws just make things easier to drink, am I right? Even I find it easier to drink when I have a straw. We love these stainless steel ones!
  10. Make popsicles. Freeze water with chunks of fruit in a popsicle mold. These are the best to hand your kids when they’re outside playing. These molds work so well, and there are even baby sized ones!!  

I hope you’re able to try out some of these ideas and best of luck to you my friends!

xxoo Kate

The Ultimate Budget List

We don’t know what the future holds and that’s exactly why it’s a good idea to have a plan. Creating a budget is a wonderful way to get on top of your finances. By laying out each expense, you are able to see where your money is going, what can be adjusted and then you can figure out how to save up and become debt free!

Becoming debt free is a huge goal of mine so I created a budgeting list and wanted to share to help others with similar goals… or if you just want to see where the heck all of your money is going!

Below is my ULTIMATE BUDGET LIST print off.

Here’s to saving, becoming debt free and enjoying financial freedom!

Other valuable resources:

Budgeting Journal

Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover

Cash Envelope System

My cousin also shared with me this super cool debt free chart that can be found here!

xxoo Kate

Our Second Wedding Anniversary

In two days, Halloween, it will be our second wedding anniversary and ELEVEN year dating anniversary…. Wow, that doesn’t even seem real. I’m choosing to write this now because Halloween is all about the kids and I know I’ll be caught up in the hustle and bustle!

Our relationship was a rollercoaster for years. Extremely passionate but very unhealthy. How does that song go, “We’re like fire and gasoline?” – that was us. Roaring hot and utterly destructive.

I could go on and on and maybe someday I will but for now I’ll leave it at “we were very immature” and move on to the good stuff.

We are completely different people these days. I still have the hots for him don’t get me wrong, but our relationship is also filled with comfort. He’s my best friend and I love spending time with him. He’s cozy and has the biggest heart. I am beyond thankful that things worked out for us because most of the time, with relationships that start out like ours, they don’t… or they do and then you live your life in toxicity.

Finding God together was the best thing that ever happened to us. Some day I’ll elaborate on the change the has Lord made in our lives because it was and continues to be quite miraculous. Right now, I just want to give a big thank you to my husband TJ and an even bigger I LOVE YOU!

I’m thankful that I have someone to count down the minutes every day until he gets home from work. Sure, I enjoy his helping hand with the kids (HA) but I just really enjoy his presence.

I’m also really thankful that we were able to sneak off together this past weekend for a lunch date to eat some amazing sandwiches.

Happy almost second wedding (11 year dating) anniversary Travis!

xxoo Kate

How to sterilize a Wubbanub pacifier

Maybe it’s allergies, maybe it’s a little cold but everyone in our house has been a little stuffy lately. With a new baby I’m on high alert because my daughters are obsessed with giving their new sister kisses… aka, smothering their little sister’s face with their wet mouths and runny noses. No thanks!

I’ve been pretty good about having them kiss the top of her head, or not at all but one thing I can’t seem to keep track of are her pacifiers! My toddler always seems to find them and proudly bring them to us after she’s tested them out herself.

It was all fine until Winter got ahold of Olive’s Wubbanub. If you don’t know what a Wubbanub is, it’s a pacifier that’s attached to a little cozy animal.

I was like great… the puppy doesn’t detach so how in the world am I supposed to sterilize this now?!

I did not like suggestions that the Google offered such as soaking it in soapy water, using a sanitizing wipe, and even running it through the washing machine using a “baby” detergent. I didn’t want to use anything that involved chemicals so those were no-go’s for me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has wondered this so let me share with you how to sanitize them, chemical-free!

All you need to do is boil a pot of water on your stove, dangle the pacifier in the boiling water for 5 minutes, let it dry and wala, that’s it! Just do your best to hold it out of the way of the steam because ouch! You’re welcome!

xxoo Kate