4 Steps to Love Your Screen Free Life

4 steps to go unplugged and take your life back. Plus a free 10 day email course, Go Unplugged: Pro-Level.

As I turned my computer on in a crowded room, all the kids raced to it and hovered like moths. They abandoned their games, their snacks, and their entire surroundings to stare at my screen.

When I closed my computer and looked around, I noticed the adults in the room weren’t doing much better than the kids. Expressionless faces glowed in the blue light of cell phones and tablets.

We were all screen-time zombies. Continue reading “4 Steps to Love Your Screen Free Life”

37 Ways to Help Your Kids Feel Loved

25 Ways to to help your kids feel loved in less than 5 minutes. Plus mother-child date ideas and a free printable.

We had a zillion things to do before the dentist appointment. When the kids woke up, we got straight to work.

I washed dishes. Made the bed. Swept the floor. I nagged the kids to eat breakfast. Brush their teeth. Get dressed. I barely even said, “Good morning.”

And then it was time to leave.

I wrestled a wiggly baby, packed the diaper bag, and barked out more commands, “Get your shoes on. Get in the car.”

My son Freaked. Out.

He screamed like only a two-year-old can. We can’t go, he protested. He wanted to play with his dinosaurs or lie in bed with a sippy cup of milk. He wanted me to pick him up or snuggle. Anything but get in the car.

We didn’t have time for this. I didn’t have time to deal with snit fits and freak-outs.

So I didn’t deal with it. Not well, anyways. I scooped him up and strapped all the kids in their car seats, ignoring their protests. Ignoring the whole situation until it just went away.

As we pulled out of the driveway I saw tears in my rear-view mirror.

Their tears dried up but the disconnect lasted.

That morning, my kids didn’t feel loved.

When they feel powerless

I was too busy thinking about everything I needed to get done and I forgot to think about my kids.

Being a kid is hard.

Our little guys don’t know how to handle their big emotions. They struggle to communicate and feel understood. They want to play, but we constantly interrupt them, “Brush your teeth. Pick up your toys. Get in the car.”

We tell them how to walk, what to do with their hands, how they can and can’t play. We decide how much dinner they eat and when they use the bathroom.

As moms, we love our kids, so we do these things to keep them safe and healthy. But it doesn’t make them feel loved. Instead it makes them feel powerless.

We need to do more than love our kids. We need to show them we love them.

We need to make them feel loved.

Show them we love them

We need to stock up on positive interactions. Some call it “filling the tank.”


Healthy relationships need 5 positive interactions for every negative one. Tweet this.


We add extra positive exchanges whenever we can so the negative ones don’t tip the scale. It helps our kids feel valued and loved even in hard times.

There are 2 awesome ways to fill our relationship tanks.

The first is to do small things every day to show our kids we love them. Give your kids a little extra time, effort, or attention. Do little gestures that make them feel special. Use this list for ideas your kids will adore.

Little Gestures

  1. Look in their eyes and smile
  2. Share a high 5, fist bump, or secret handshake
  3. Hold hands
  4. Scratch or rub their back
  5. Play what they want- without your phone out
  6. Split a special treat
  7. Play a board game
  8. Give them spa treatment (face mask, paint their nails)
  9. Tell a story
  10. Read a book
  11. Listen to their stories
  12. Ask open-ended questions
  13. Compliment them
  14. Surprise them with a gift
  15. Get messy together
  16. Snuggle in bed with a short movie
  17. Create artwork
  18. Build Legos
  19. Cook a toddler-friendly recipe together
  20. Watch the birds and squirrels
  21. Build a fort
  22. Drink juice out of champagne glasses
  23. Go for a walk
  24. Draw with chalk
  25. Pick dandelions

These small things show our kids every day that we love them. That they are special to us.

But sometimes we need something bigger.

The second awesome way to fill our relationship tanks is to go on dates and have one-on-one time to talk and bond. A “mommy-daughter” or “mother-son” date is the perfect solution.

Be creative and do things your kids love. These are some of my favorites dates to get you started.

Mother-Child Dates

  1. Share a donut and iced coffee
  2. Go out to lunch (where kids eat free)
  3. Play arcade games
  4. Go window shopping
  5. Stop at the candy store for a special treat
  6. Take a walk or bike ride
  7. Go to the beach
  8. Shop at Goodwill- they can pick out whatever they want without worrying about the price
  9. Visit a local park
  10. Find ducks to feed
  11. Go to a farm
  12. Visit an aquarium or children’s museum

Do it now

Our kids need to feel loved. And we’re the ones who need to make that happen. Now is the perfect time to start!

  1. Print the list and brainstorm ideas to add.
  2. Every day, do at least 3 things from the “Little Gestures” list.
  3. Pull out your calendar and schedule a “Mother-Child Date” with each of your kids. Find a babysitter and mark it on the calendar.

So helpful! Love this reminder list of 5-minute ways to help our kids feel loved!

It makes a difference

This morning, I had a zillion things to do again. But this time, I made sure to think about my kids. I made sure to connect with them and help them feel loved.

They woke up and I snuggled in beside them and asked about their dreams. Then I prompted them to eat breakfast and surprised them with sprinkles in their yogurt. I asked them to get dressed and complimented their outfit choices.

We sat together to put our shoes on and talked about our plans to play outside after lunch. We finally piled into the car and I asked them what music we should listen to.

And as we pulled out of the driveway, I didn’t hear any crying. I didn’t see any tears. Instead, my kids felt loved and I saw smiles in my rear-view mirror.

Love these easy ways to connect with the kids and help them feel loved!

Great date ideas! And a ton of easy ways to connect with the kids!Love these easy ways to connect with your kids and help them feel loved!

How to be the Parent You’ve Always Wanted to be

Take the challenge to learn to parent with kindness.

When someone’s mean to my kid, my heart pounds in my ears, my cheeks turn red, and my arms start to tingle. Mama bear comes out and I get mad.

Other times my kids test my patience. They push my buttons, and the protective mama bear is replaced by a sarcastic tone, biting words, and a selfish attitude. Why am I mean to my own kids?

I need to learn to be kind.

Continue reading “How to be the Parent You’ve Always Wanted to be”

How to be Calm in the Frenzy of Motherhood

Use a mindset check-in to turn weaknesses into strengths for a healthy attitude.

I wrote a mile-long to-do list, mentally mapped out my day, and pulled down the Legos to keep the kids happy. Then I started my real work.

I slipped my dish gloves on and dove elbow-deep into grease and suds. “Mom, I’m hungry,” interrupted me. I rolled my eyes and peeled off the gloves to plop a bowl of cereal on the table.

I finished the dishes and moved on to fold laundry. “Mom, I spilled my milk!” I frowned at the pile of clothes gathering wrinkles and stomped away to clean up the mess. Continue reading “How to be Calm in the Frenzy of Motherhood”

Love Your Family: How to Put Them First

A challenge to help you simplify and put your family first.

Sometimes it seems like the most important rule in our culture is “the busiest person wins.” Our society calls us valuable when we accomplish something in every single moment of every day.

This makes us think we need to do the same thing in our family to be a successful mom. We need to involve our kids in sports and music. Art and public speaking. We need to go to the library. Bring them to every children’s museum. We need to never stop.

We think our kids need to become the best soccer player, the smartest student. They need to practice 5 days a week and spend hours doing homework. Our culture glorifies putting all these other things first. Putting anything but our family first.

But I say we need to stop.

We need to stop letting ourselves get sucked in to over-activity. To stop putting the world’s standards above our own. We need to stop putting everything else first. We need to simplify our lives. And we need to put our family first.

It’s time to let go of the world and live for your family. Become a better Momster with me. Follow these 8 steps to stop getting sucked in to “everything else” and learn how to simplify your life to put your family first.

How to Simplify and Put Your Family First

1.Say “yes” to things that energize you and your family

  • Spend time together as a family. Whether it’s a relaxing day at home or a fun day trip, spend time together. Plan time just for your family. Do activities that let you grow closer. Spend quality time together to talk and work on your relationships.
  • Go on dates with your kids, not just your spouse. My kids love special time with me, when my attention is completely on them. I can feel the tension when we go too long without a date. Special dates don’t have to be crazy. My son loves to pack a few dinosaurs in his backpack and share a donut at the coffee shop. My daughter loves to go to Goodwill and pick out cheap knick knacks. Spend special time with each kid, to make them feel special and loved.
  • Rest without guilt. You need to be energized to be able to take care of your family. Or to function at all! Don’t feel guilty about taking a nap or asking for help. Taking a few minutes for yourself can help you be a better mom.

2. Take care of yourself

  • Respect yourself. As a mom, sometimes we forget we have needs as members of our families. I catch myself scraping leftover bits of scrambled eggs off my son’s plate for my breakfast. But I can make myself a real breakfast. I need real food to have the energy to make it through the day. As a mom, you still need food, water, and bathroom breaks.
  • Take time for your marriage. Your relationship with your spouse forms the climate that shapes your kids’ development. A frozen tundra of icy stares and the silent treatment isn’t a fruitful environment. It’s barren. It prevents growth. A healthy relationship between you and your spouse will help your kids grow. Care for your relationship, even if you feel guilty that it’s taking time away from your kids. Because it’s not. They need it.
  • Trust your own judgement. You know your family better than your nosy neighbor does. You know what’s best for your family. Don’t let other peoples’ opinions shape your actions. Do what you need to do for your family, even when other people look down on you for it.

3. Be purposeful about your schedule

  • Prioritize family time. If your schedule tends to squeeze out family time, pencil it in. Treat it like any other commitment. It needs to be done.
  • Evaluate your activities. Look at each activity on your schedule. Does it make your family happier? If not, get rid of it. We had a family day trip planned, with snit fits galore before we even walked out the door. The baby screamed for an hour in the car and the other kids missed their naps. The trip was a flop, and we were all exhausted and snippy. The trip did more harm than good. We ignored our instincts to cancel and suffered through it because we thought we should. Take a deep look at each activity you do, even the “fun” ones. Make sure they’re helping, not hurting.
  • Take it slow. When you feel overwhelmed, do something small. When you accomplish something, even something tiny like putting on makeup, it can give you satisfaction and take away the overwhelmed feeling. It will help you think more clearly (instead of freaking out) and evaluate what you want to tackle and what you want to ignore.

4. Let your kids be kids

  • Let go of your high expectations. It’s more important for your 4-year-old to play pretend than to be able to read at a third grade level. Don’t force her to spend hours on schoolwork so you can “win” at parenting by having the smartest kid.
  • Don’t live through your kids. Let your kids have their own opinions. Their own likes and dislikes. If your son doesn’t like soccer, don’t make him practice four days a week. Of course there will be some things your kids don’t enjoy but need to do. But there are also plenty of activities that shouldn’t be forced. Especially things that are supposed to be fun.
  • Let your kids get bored. Make sure your kids have time to relax and use their imaginations. Simple things are good. Like throwing rocks and hitting things with sticks. Make sure your kids have time to do it. It’s more important than binge-visiting every museum in the state. Don’t get me wrong, we love children’s museums. But keep time for the kids to entertain themselves. You don’t have to be their constant mode of entertainment. They need down time to grow.

5. Say “no” to things that drain you

  • Say “no” to peer pressure. There are always things other people want you to do. Go to birthday parties, visit 5 different families on Christmas, organize a fundraiser. Use your own judgement and say no to the things that drain you. Never do something because someone else thinks you should, when you know it complicates your family life.
  • Be a quitter. Every moment is precious. Give new activities a trial period. If they don’t add anything to your life, stop doing them. Quit and be proud of it. There’s no need to waste time doing something that serves no purpose or is even harming your family life.
  • Remember service starts at home. Serving people outside the home is a wonderful thing to do. It can teach our kids valuable lessons and can be very rewarding. But it’s not wonderful when it takes away from your family. You serve others by serving your family first. They’re the most important “others” to take care of.

6. Don’t burn yourself out

  • Don’t be a perfectionist. You have a to-do list full of laundry and dishes and dinner and cleaning the bathroom. But you can’t do them all in one day. It’s better to leave the laundry for tomorrow or eat dinner from the freezer. You can’t do it all. And that’s ok.
  • Your kids are your most important job. You’re not a maid, a chef, scheduler, or handyman. You’re a mom. The other things are extras. Don’t put them first.
  • Don’t try to win the race. Your mom friend might help out at the soup kitchen once a week, bring her kids to drama practice, take yoga classes, run marathons, and show off trophies from her kids’ spelling bees. You don’t see her home life. Probably because she doesn’t have one. All the activity could be killing her family’s closeness. Don’t try to copy her or race her. Slow down and enjoy the view instead.

7. Don’t let life take over.

  • Keep an eye on your daily schedule. How have you been? “Busy.” Always busy. Every moment of every day is full of something. Be intentional about scheduling rest and down time. Otherwise a million little “busy” things will creep in and take all your time away.
  • Plan ahead. Meal plan before grocery shopping so you don’t have to go back to the store three times to pick up things you forgot. Stop on the bank on the way to get your oil changed. Kill two birds with one stone (not literally). Be efficient doing the chores, the things you need to do, so you have more time to do the things you want to do.
  • Don’t give in to stress. Oh, the stress of being perfect or meeting expectations. Stress and overwhelm paralyze you. Remember what’s really important and focus on it. Look inward at your family when you’re tempted to look around you and keep up with other people.

8. Don’t get sucked in

  • To the craziness of over-activity. The need to “go-go-go” to be good parents. Kids need love and downtime, not constant entertainment.
  • To the “best mom” competition. The expectations piled on you can crush you. Don’t try to be a perfect mom. It’s an impossible goal. Don’t try to be the best mom. Don’t even compare yourself to other moms. You can only see a small slice of their pie. For all you know, the rest is burnt and nasty. Keep your eyes on yourself and your family.
  • To the “awesomest kid” contest. You’re not sponsoring your kids, you’re raising them. Don’t force them to do fifth grade math in second grade, or triple backflips when they hate gymnastics. It’s great when your kids are naturally good at something. But don’t push them to be the best when they want to be a kid.
  • To social media. It wastes your time and makes you feel bad about yourself. Know when you’re in too deep and pull back. Use it for recreation, not as a habit.

Take the Challenge

We have a new resolve and great ideas for how to put our family first. But we need a plan to make it happen.

Let’s make a plan. Join me in a Simplify Challenge! This challenge uses concrete steps and reminders to simplify our lives and put our family first.

Step 1: Prepare and learn.

Print out the materials. Hang the main reminder on the fridge. Hang the small ones around the house, wherever you need reminders most.

Step 2: Start fresh every day

Wake up and prepare to put your family first. Treat each day as a new day, no matter what happened yesterday. Read the printable on the fridge and think of concrete ways to improve today.

Step 3: Pause during the day

Throughout the day, look at your reminders and try to win the small battles. Ignore the world’s call to be the best and think about your family in each little moment.

Step 4: Look back every night

Every night, take a minute to look back at your day. Be thankful for all the good moments! Apologize for mistakes. If you had conflicts with your kids, spend some extra time with them. Give them your full attention. Listen to their stories and laugh at their jokes. Read them a book, rub their back. Do something to make them feel a little extra loved.

Step 5: Evaluate yourself weekly

After each week, use the self-evaluation printable to look back on your week. Check off where you excelled and where you fell short. Write your progress to see how far you’ve come and help you grow even more!

I’m super pumped! Click on the preview below and print your materials to start the Simplify Challenge with me! Let’s become better Momsters for our sweet little monsters.

simplify

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How to Be Intentional and Accomplish Your Vision

An intentional parenting challenge. Let every action bring you closer to your goals and your visions for your family.

 “If I step on one more Lego, I’m throwing them in the garbage!” I shouted before I could stop myself. But I would never do that: throwing away Legos is like throwing away gold.

I’ve also hissed, “You better listen to me, or we’re going straight home.” But when we drove 45 minutes and spent $80 to get into the children’s museum, I wouldn’t leave after 5 minutes.

Or the ever-lovely, “Why can’t you guys sit quietly for once.” Like they owe it to me.

These empty threats are not my proudest parenting moments. Continue reading “How to Be Intentional and Accomplish Your Vision”

How to Stop Wasting Time and Love the Little Moments

Stop wasting time 5 easy ways in your everyday life.

My 3-year-old asked for help while I prepped dinner the other day. I stepped away to transform from chef to superhero to solve the problem of the moment.

After a second, I was back to the original task. When I swiped the screen to get back to my Pinterest recipe, a little red “5” beckoned me to the bottomless void of Facebook. I’ll just check my notifications. Then I had to reply to a few comments, answer messages, and browse the feed.

A new email popped up and lured me over to my inbox. I deleted spam, read a few non-urgent messages, and realized I was wasting time. I turned my tablet off and put it away so I wouldn’t be tempted to use it again. Continue reading “How to Stop Wasting Time and Love the Little Moments”

8 Easy Ways to Get More Trust in Your Life

Daily steps to learn when and how to trust and become a trustworthy parent.

“Mom, what are you eating?” my 4-year-old daughter chirped as she peeked around the fridge door at the crinkling wrapper in my hands.

“Uhhh… um, nothing,” I garbled past the chocolate I knew she could smell with her super-candy-sensor nose. “Go pick a game and I’ll be right over.” Her narrowed eyes darted back to my closed fist before she stepped away to set up her game.

I finished chewing to get rid of the evidence and walked over to play a round of Candy Land. The game pushed the incident out of my mind until I lay in bed that night and stared at the ceiling. Continue reading “8 Easy Ways to Get More Trust in Your Life”

6 Awesome Ways to Rock Your Compliments Like a Boss

The ultimate list of things to avoid when complimenting your kids and what to do instead.

My 4-year-old daughter slipped into the shimmering dress-up gown and twirled. “I’m beautiful! Mom, am I beautiful?” she asked.

“You are so beautiful!” I affirmed, smiling as she danced around the room. She received compliments all day long about how wonderful she looked, and I couldn’t peel the dress off of her when it was time for bed. I didn’t push it.

The next morning was another story. We had a playdate to go to. She needed new clothes.

I pulled out jeggings and a t-shirt, for comfort and ease-of-tumbling. But as soon as my daughter put them on, she panicked. “I can’t wear these, Mom! I’m not beautiful.” Continue reading “6 Awesome Ways to Rock Your Compliments Like a Boss”

Want Healthy, Happy Kids? Learn How to Love Yourself

A step-by-step guide to better self-esteem for us and our kids.

“What the heck is my problem?!” I snapped, as I chucked my salt-instead-of-sugar cookie dough in the garbage.  “I’m such an idiot. I just can’t do anything right.” I threw the dirty utensils in the sink and speed cleaned the kitchen.

A few hours later, I heard my daughter shout from the other room, “What is WRONG with me? Why do I always do everything wrong?”

I ran to stop her from berating herself and found her with her elbows on the table, fingertips pressed against her temples. Paper shreds all over the floor. Continue reading “Want Healthy, Happy Kids? Learn How to Love Yourself”