Uncategorized

Meal Planning Made Easy!

The first thing I noticed when I started meal planning was how much money we saved each month. A couple of days ago, I was cleaning out my desk when I found our monthly budgets from a few years ago (before we started meal planning). And holy cow! We were spending over $750 a month for a family of 3, one of which was a toddler who barely ate anything! Once I realized how much we were overspending, our meal planning journey began.

Before I jumped into meal planning, I sat down, did a little research (hello Pinterest), and finally made the decision that meal planning was the way to go. We decided we would only shop once a week, with a detailed list, and a budget in mind. If you are like us and are spending too much on groceries every week, you are in the right place! It’s time to organize your meals with a weekly meal plan.

Benefits of Meal Planning:

Of course saving money is a huge benefit, but there are also a few others. When you plan ahead, you can create healthy meals for your family instead of just throwing together whatever you find in your fridge. I will say, we do have pizza Friday every week, but you of course do not have to do that!

Meal planning also reduces the trips to the grocery store. (If you have small children like us, this is a huge benefit! hahaha) I used to find myself or my husband making two or three extra trips a week because we forgot this or that. Somehow those extra trips also ended up with extra cookies or cake, oops!

With a meal plan, you are more likely to get everything you will need all in one trip. Our biggest thing was that it reduced the stress of “Babe, what are we having for dinner tonight?!” and you look at him like a deer in headlights? Yeah, that look… well with a meal plan it doesn’t happen as often. Instead we look at the fridge planner and see the entire week’s schedule ahead of time so we can prepare accordingly.

One trip to the store a week = field trip! One then one = chaos.
One trip to the store a week = field trip! More than one = chaos.

Create a List of Meals Your Family Enjoys

Before you start planning your meals, make a list of your family’s favorites.  Does your family love Taco Tuesday?  Or salads?  Maybe you have a favorite soup?  Write those down! You can also search favorite main ingredients in Pinterest to freshen up your list every once ad awhile. Once you have your list, pick your daily theme. Having a daily theme makes choosing each meal a little easier. Our daily themes look like this:

          Sunday- Whole Roasted Chicken & different sides each week

          Monday- Meatless Monday

          Tuesday- Taco/Mexican

          Wednesday- Instant Pot (LOVE my Instant pot!)

          Thursday- Salad (Salads don’t have to be boring, check Pinterest for some tasty ideas)

          Friday- Pizza Night!

          Saturday- Seafood (We live near the water, so fresh seafood is easy to come by.)

Have fun picking the themes of your days, they do not have to look anything like mine! We also have a list of our “Go To Meals” that we use when we know our schedules won’t allow us to try something new. As you continue to meal plan you will acquire your own list of “Go To Meals” save them whenever is handy for you! I have a Pinterest board of favorites, of course Magnolia Table cookbook and family cookbook I use often.

Planning made simple!

  1. Use a weekly dry erase calendar, so everyone knows what’s for dinner each day of the week. It also helps you remember if there is anything you need to do the night before, like a marinade or thawing.
  2. If you have an iPhone, create a group note with your partner. It’s an easy way for each of you to add things to your grocery list or meal ideas as they pop up in your mind. This is a lifesaver for me, I forget everything! Thanks, Mom brain. So, being able to write it all down in one spot makes things so much easier.
  3. Search your pantry and fridge BEFORE & WHILE creating your list. This allows you to use what you already have and make sure that you are getting everything you need for the week to come. Have you ever swore you had a certain spice to only get home and realize you don’t?! I have, and it’s so frustrating. So, make sure you check those recipes along with what you may or may not already have at home.
Everything you need ALL IN ONE PLACE!

Time To Plan!

Once a week, you plan your complete family meals for the week. We try to plan on Saturday and hit the grocery store on Sunday! Plan meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Don’t skip planning breakfast and lunch. Otherwise you will end up running out of food. With two little kids running around having breakfast planned has made our morning routine go so much smoother. We try to make enough each dinner to have leftovers for lunch. Eating leftovers reduces how much food you have to prepare, throwing away extras, and, well, money.

So sit down, think about what your family enjoys and start meal planning. It is so simple once you get the hang of it! You don’t need anything fancy, just a piece of paper, your phone, and a pen. Take inventory of what you already have and get to work! If you want a worksheet to write everything out on, click the download button below!

I would LOVE to hear some of your go to recipes! With a picky toddler, we are always open to new recipes to add to our list!  

XO Kate & Elizabeth

Motherhood, sharing, siblings, toddlers

This Is How We Share

Children are selfish. They live their little lives like we would often like to. Do what you want, when you want, how you want. Something breaks? Oh well. Decide to quit halfway through? Cool, let’s leave that for mom to finish. Want something someone else has? Grab it and RUN. Literally, run. It is our job, as boring, rule-following adults, to teach our children to tone it down a notch, basically.

When my first daughter was 18-24 months old, she really struggled with independent play. She wanted us involved in any and every activity, which was really tiring to say the least. Her go-to “play” was just to hand us everything. EVERYTHING! We made a fair amount of headway before baby sister came along, and continued to learn to play on our own. But, now as baby sister is walking around, of course she wants to get her paws on anything and everything. However; what really took me by surprise was that my oldest now wants to takeover everything my youngest has! Shouldn’t it be the other way around?! My youngest will play on her own and find her own toys, and my oldest tramples in to “play with her” with the best intentions, but ends up taking over the activity. And thus began my curiosity on how others reinforce sharing.

At first I just stuck with what I knew. We take turns. That makes sense and is fair, right? But while it seems simple to us, it really isn’t to the toddler mindset. They are giving up something that they don’t want to, not knowing when they will get it back. And in some cases sharing means not getting something back at all. When I tell my oldest to share her snack, she does so very reluctantly, understanding that this means she gets less snack (and therefore she usually starts eating much, much faster.) This seemed okay for awhile, but as my youngest grew more mobile it became less effective. How do you explain taking turns and asking for a toy when the littlest member of the family yanks a toy and runs with no intention of returning it? How do you make a 3 year old share her goldfish crackers and not expect your 1 year old to do the same? This technique left me struggling to explain “it’s because she’s a baby” and led to some confused and hurt expressions from my oldest (even though she always took it like a champ!)

Then we toured my daughter’s preschool, a cute little Montessori school a town over. I was introduced to a new ideology on sharing, and loved how simple it was. When another child is playing with a toy or activity, it is theirs for as long as they want it. Once they put the toy back it’s up for grabs again! What?! This blew my mind a little bit. I was always raised with same-time sharing in mind. Share or no one plays with it. My favorite results from this Montessori method are that they A) allow a child to fully play with an activity without having to pause their imagination and B) they learn patience. Waiting is hard, even for adults! Understanding early on that waiting is kind and a valuable life skill is amazing. This is also easier to enforce with smaller children, because they don’t have to understand when they can and can’t take a toy from another child and you don’t have to wrestle it back from them and try to explain they are sharing. No positive associations with that word right there!

My only hesitation with this method was, how do they learn to play together? If they are always waiting on a toy, WILL they play together? The answer is yes. I think that in the “waiting” and watching, the child playing with the toy first is allowed to shine and lead the playing. They create the rules for this short-term play and the second child adapts. In my experience at home, they always end up playing together, and if things start to go south the best method is distraction. Lead the other one to a new activity. My girls rarely battle over toys these days, so I think it’s a successful sharing practice! But as in most things in life, I always try to be open minded to trying new things. There is no black and white over here, we bend and stretch the rules to learn what works best for us.

So here are some tips for getting kids (age 1-3, because that’s the experience we have!) to share:

  • Watch their interactions first. Every child is different. Some will be content with the dynamic struck, even if one child is doing the majority of the playing. Let them try to work it out themselves. Aka, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! If you notice a power struggle, step in and try a few of these tips.
  • Lead by example. Share your food with them. Share the TV. Share books or magazines with your spouse. Sit on the floor and play with a toy, then share it with them. Let them know you are sharing and they are doing a good job sharing with you. When they can associate good feelings of being played with to the word “share” they are more likely to want to do it on their own. They now understand this is a good action.
  • Encourage clean up. Not only does this save the adults in the house a ton of time, but it’s an important life skill to learn to be organized and see things through. It also is a clear cut signal that they are done with that toy or activity and it is now available again. No more abandoned toys in the middle of the floor and screaming, “I was still playing with that!”
  • Decide which toys are NOT to be shared. Whenever we have playdates we put our favorite bear and baby doll in our room. We know that those are special toys that we have decided that we do not need to share with others. Setting those aside also lets my toddler know that all other toys ARE to be shared. Between siblings, my oldest knows that toys in the living room can be shared and if she doesn’t want her sister to play with her favorite bear or baby doll then they should be left on her bed when she’s not playing with them. Personally, I believe that letting children have a special toy or two that they don’t have to share is important.
  • If a battle ensues, distract. Don’t try to over-explain sharing to them. They likely will be so focused on what they want to do in that moment that you might as well be speaking Chinese. Just allow the child to continue playing with their activity, and take the other one over to a new activity.

If you have any tips for us, please share! Especially for older kids as we are swimming in new waters every single day! What’s the saying? Once you get used to it, it changes? YEP!

Thank you for reading & keep us posted on what works for you!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

Motherhood, toddlers, Uncategorized

St. Patrick’s Day Activities with Toddlers

Happy St. Patrick’s day!

Ready to dig into some fun St. Patrick’s day activities? Well then you have come to the right place! We have put together a few fun and easy project for you and your kiddo. 

  1. Rainbow Dots!

Work on those fine motor skills, while sharpening their cognitive skills as well. Of course, it’s also fun for them! Print out a picture of a rainbow, like this one, grab some dot markers, and fill the circles with whatever your child is learning. Are they into shapes? Awesome! Fill the circles with different shapes and have them follow the key. Do they love numbers? Then use numbers! We are working on lowercase letter, so we used them! The best part is you can easily adjust this activity based on theme, difficulty, and ability. Oh, and it’s pretty much mess free. We love to continue to our rainbow theme with our wooden rainbow.

2. Make soda bread!

Does your toddler LOVE to be in the kitchen with you? Mine sure does. So, we decided to make some delicious Irish soda bread. Let me tell you, it was easy and actually super fun! I know keeping a toddler on task for more then 5 seconds can be a challenge. But, I have noticed when they have their little hands moving they seem to last a whole minute. Helping in the kitchen isn’t just fun, it is a great way to introduce math and how to follow directions to your children.  For step by step instructions, click the link above. Her recipe was super easy and delicious! 

3. Lucky Charms Sensory Bin. 

This Lucky Charms sensory bin is easy, edible, and so much fun to do! It took me maybe 5 minutes to put together and had my toddler and infant busy for at least 30 minutes. It is the prefect way to teach sorting and fine motor skills.

What you’ll need:

  • Lucky Charms
  • A Container
  • Cups
  • Spoons
  • Plastic Letters or anything to hide

Just place letters in the bottom of the bin and poured the cereal right on top.  Then have your kiddo start sorting the marshmallows into different cups, while uncovering the hidden letters. As the letters become exposed have them place them into the puzzle. Such a fun and yummy way to teach sorting, pouring, and the alphabet all in one! 

Pouring from one container to another, searching for letters!

4. Go Outside On a Scavenger.

We LOVE to go on scavenger hunts! So, I created a simple list for St. Patrick’s Day. We headed outside in search for all things St. Patrick’s Day! When we found all that we could outside, we began our search indoors. We found everything on our list, even those tiny leprechaun footprints! It was so much fun searching high and low for everything. Seeing the excitement on his face was priceless. These toddler years can be a handful, but they sure are fun! If you want to head out on a scavenger hunt with your kiddo, I attached the PDF below. Happy searching!

It’s time to get crafty! We would love to see your creations in our comment section or on our Facebook page! 

If you have any St. Patrick’s Day must do’s, we would love to hear about them. Comment them below, so we can try them out too.

Motherhood, toddlers, Uncategorized

Why You Need a “Tribe” & How to Find Yours

Your tribe, your crew, or your people, they can be called a number of different things. They are the people who have celebrated your highs and consoled you during your lows. They are the people who you can rely on no matter what. Having a rough day? Give them a call! Have exciting news? They would love to celebrate with you. They are the people you run to no matter what! They become part of your family.

Your mom tribe understands your struggles differently then your spouse. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and I often run to him for advice, but my mom tribe offers me a different preceptive. They know when to give advice and when you just want someone to be upset right beside you. They are right there in the thick of this journey with you. Riding shot gun through this crazy journey called motherhood. Your tribe is usually interested in the same things as you. So, your husband may get out of listening to you talk about the newest episode of The Real Housewives. (He will probably thank you for that!)

As military spouses, our tribes change throughout the years, but the bonds we create never break. We rely a lot on our tribe, whether its during the inevitable deployment curse, celebrating a new life, or keeping each other sane while our spouses are away. Our tribe is who keeps us going and our heads on straight.

We started out just the 3 of us, and now there are 9. Watching your tribe grow is an amazing thing!

How to Find Those Special Mommas:

It’s kind oflike dating all over again! You take your littles to the park or library in search of finding someone who you clicks with you and your kiddos. Once you find a momma who you think would get along with you, invite them on a playdate. During the playdate you ask about each other’s interests and get to know each other. Seriously, it’s mom dating! After your first playdate, it’s a waiting game to see if you hear back from one another.

Is it always mom friend at first playdate? No, and that’s okay. Nor every mom is going to click with you and vise versa.

Where to Look?

You want to find moms with similar interests as you. Perhaps you have seen the same moms at the park, church, or library story time. Finding someone who enjoys running 5k’s and doing yoga might not be the lifestyle you choose to live. Maybe a mom who rocks yoga pants (yes, they are considered pants!) and drinks wine on playdates is more your speed. If you are lucky, your child will make new friends with a certain kid who’s mom you have been thinking about talking to. You know, that mom who seems to be just like you… Thank you for the little ice breaker, bud!  

You will have to put yourself out there. Personally, as an introvert and homebody, this was where I struggled the most. You can’t stay home and assume someone is going to come knocking on your door for a playdate. Not only is this unlikely, but a little creepy!

Venture outside of your home, even if that means the community park. If you have a friend who will join you, bring them along. I’ve noticed it’s easier to be social when you have someone you know.

Yes, our tribe is crazy & we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Keeping Your Tribe!

Once you start growing your tribe, continue to put forth effort into your friendship. Be their support system, offer to help them when they are in need, and be an ear when they need someone to talk to. The more you put into your friendship the more it will grow and strengthen.

Your tribe isn’t just for you either. Watching your children make those special life time friends is something money cant buy. When they wake up first thing in the morning asking to play with their best friend, who’s mom is also your best friend… BEST THING IS THE WORLD!

Best Friends!

So, go out and find your tribe. If you already have found them, thank them for all that they do! Continue to grow those friendships!

XOXO Kate & Elizabeth

Uncategorized

The Magic of a Normal Day

This month I started a gratitude journal, part of our Mindful March journey to focus on self-care, and I thought about all the things I am grateful for: my kids, my husband, my health, their health, my house, my van that can cart us around, etc….and as that list got longer and less obvious, adding things like, “Learning that my daughter loves when the wind blows her hair when we play outside,” I realized what I am most grateful for is normal days.

It’s really easy to get caught up in things you wish for. And by no means am I saying you shouldn’t dream big. I often think about trips I’d like to take, a future career I’d like to have, or what alternate-universe me would be doing right now, like fighting crime as the world’s most elusive spy. Not possible in this universe, since I can’t cross a room without knocking something over, but you know, maybe in another one! And sometimes, as all mothers surely do, I long for the days before children where I had seemingly endless hours of the day. After navigating life with two kids for about 9 months or so, my husband asked me, “What did you do with your day before kids when we moved here?” because I left my full-time job to follow his. My honest answer, after a LONG pause…”I don’t even know!” Dreaming big and daydreaming are healthy. But what isn’t healthy is comparing yourself to others. Your marriage, your kids, your wardrobe. Comparison is absolutely the thief of joy, because it often robs our confidence in the lives we have built.

Last night I was looking back at my old photos, as I often do, and I realized what an eventful year we have had. We brought a baby into this world a few days before the New Year, so everything in 2018 was her first. We celebrated career achievements, we bought a camper, we traveled to the Outer Banks (a bucket list item for this North Carolina-native who had never been), we took our girls to see mountains for the first time and saw the sun rise on the highest peak east of the Mississippi, we had ALL the holidays together. We had quite the eventful year. Now in 2019, we will see another deployment, we have zero family trips booked, and I am looking wistfully at those past photos filled with adventure.  I see friends decorating nurseries, having babies, running marathons, laying in a hammock on a tropical island, and it’s really easy to let that thief sneak in.  But here’s were I remind myself how very much I LOVE NORMAL DAYS.

On a normal day, no one is sick.  Everyone is mostly happy.  A few tears are shed over sharing a toy or the dog eating our animal cracker.  We have dance parties.  We laugh over a movie.  We walk outside and pick flowers and talk about birds.  We get up on our tippy toes to check the mail.  We eat meals together.  We argue about when to get out of the bath.  We kiss goodnight and read stories.  We may not dip our toes in crystal blue waters or hug Mickey Mouse while watching fireworks, but you know what?  The adventures we grow nostalgic for have shaped who we are today, and the moments we wish for just give us more of an excuse to dream big and make them happen.  But today, normal is amazing.  On days when we end up in the ER, we wish for normal.  The first day of deployment when we wake up and realize we have many more months of waking up alone before he comes back, we wish for normal.  When we hear someone we love has departed this Earth, we wish for normal.   Because normal is comfortingly beautiful.  Normal is under-appreciated.  Normal is spectacular in disguise.  I am extremely, ecstatically thankful for normal days.

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

Uncategorized

Car Trips That Won’t Drive You Crazy

Or at least, a little less crazy.

Camping in the Outer Banks!

Traveling with little ones sometimes spurs a sense of dread. No matter how exciting the destination or occasion, there’s always that tiny voice inside your head saying, “this is going to go terribly wrong.” Because, kids. It’s like a dentist visit, a trip to the DMV, cleaning your bathroom…it may not be the worst thing in the world, but lets just say it doesn’t spark excitement. If you’re anything like me, you mentally prepare for screams, vomit, and five million questions over and over again.

Kate and I are both military spouses, which often corresponds with living a good distance away from some (or all) of your family. We are actually pretty lucky, with 8 and 4 hour car rides respectfully. So if you are looking for tips on traveling with toddlers on a plane, you will not find that here. You are a braver mom than us and may the odds be ever in your favor! But car trips? We’ve pretty much got them figured out.

Grayson & Charlie headed to visit the grandparents

Things to Consider:

As parents, we know best what our kids need. We are still human, so we will inevitably forget something, but for the most part we have a handle on it. I know this, but still panic when it comes time to pack for a trip in a hurry. This leads to lack of organization (aka throwing random things in the van) and overpacking. Let’s start out with the most vital piece of advice: Think ahead.

1 week before trip: Start a list. Make a column for each family member. Starting writing down everything you can think you’ll need, and make it readily available throughout the week so you can add things (and also, take things away that you may not really need.) Consider where you are staying. A hotel, a family member’s house, a friend’s house? I know if I am staying with family I may feel a TAD more comfortable going through their pantry and linen closet, just saying! And in a hotel you will likely be confined to one room, so visualize your stay and think about what additions would make you and your family most comfortable. Also consider departure time and routes. The time of day may make a huge difference with traffic, so it may be worthwhile to leave a little earlier than planned.

2-3 days before: Knock out the laundry. I like to do ALL the laundry, so not only do I have all my options for packing, but when I come back there is no dirty laundry to get through. Check the weather forecast and set aside things from the clean laundry you may want to pack. Cross of unnecessary items you may have written on your packing list earlier in the week, see what you can size down on.

1 day before: Clean out the car. It’s always nice to start with a blank slate because you know it’s going to look like a war torn country by the time the trip is over. Pack bags for the kids and yourself, and even load up the car if you can. Charge electronics you’ll be taking. We now have a fancy van with built-in DVD players, but before that I would download kid shows and movies from Netflix to play on our iPad. The day I found out you could download and watch without WiFi was a GREAT day!

Day of trip: Review your list, prepare snacks, and think happy thoughts! Talk to your kids about where you are going, who you are visiting, and what they can expect to see along the way. After all, kids are Chatty Cathys and like feeling involved!

Addie & Ella’s first night in a hotel

What To Actually Pack and How To Pack It

Once you have a few mishaps under your belt, you get pretty good at predicting all kinds of car trip catastrophes (says the mom who has given her child a water bottle shower on the grassy lawn of a gas station). Here’s a few travel tips you MAY not have thought about doing:

  • Instead of having a stack of shirts, stack of pants, etc. in a suitcase, roll up complete outfits together. Especially for your kids. Shirt, pants, socks and all. Not only does this take the guesswork out of dressing them each day and having enough clothing items, but it means anyone around can dress them too.
  • Instead of a large bag or suitcase, give everyone their own small bag. That way if you have a mishap you don’t have to riffle through everyone’s stuff to find an extra pair of princess panties.
  • Have a designated storage tote for toys, and one for non-perishable snacks. And have that bad boy EASY TO ACCESS! You will need to reach for it approximately 800 times.
  • Have a storage tote just for shoes. This one may have some people shaking their heads, but I can’t tell you the number of times we cannot find shoes for one or both children. We don’t wear shoes in the car and we take them off at the front door. Having both kids’ shoes all in one place in the car makes it easy to get out and go, versus finding the one shoe my one year old tossed into deep space.
  • Make an emergency kit. Ours includes a thermometer, pain meds for us and the kids, allergy meds, dramamine, band aids, and a tourniquet. I also like to throw in baby powder, eye drops, and a makeup brush for the summer months because my kids cannot NOT get sand in their eyes. A clean makeup brush is the easiest to knock that stuff right out when a sandy child paw starts rubbing those baby blues.
  • If you are potty training or newly potty trained or just against stopping 5 times at rest stops- a travel potty. We bought this one that has an air freshener, doubles as a step stool, and closes up and it’s been a lifesaver for car trips and camping.
  • Bring a sound machine. If yours isn’t travel-worthy, then download a free app on your iPad or phone (see our recent blog post on our favorite apps for recommended options!) Using this during nap times in the car, hotel, or unfamiliar home can save the day.
  • A designated blanket or mat to sit on. We carry a packable Monkey Mat in the car with us to throw out at a park, use as a changing pad, or even as a picnic blanket in a hotel room. You never know where you might need a clean surface to sit, so this is an easy but extremely useful item to throw in!

Snacks, Snacks, AND MORE SNACKS!

Snacks will be your BEST FRIEND. And they don’t have to be pure garbage. I know I always splurged on car snacks as a kid. Peach rings, potato stix, sour gummy crawlers, soda after soda…good times. And while a treat here and there might be nice, the last thing you want strapped in a carseat for hours is a toddler hopped up on sugar. Remember in Jurassic Park when they tied the dinosaurs down? That’s what you’re stuck in a car with. So here are some of our favorite crowd-pleasers that are yummy and also fairly safe to eat in a carseat. (Definitely watch ALL carseat snacking closely and I highly recommended investing in a mirror to see your back-facing babes if you don’t have one already.)

We like to use Camelbak or Munchkin 360 cups for our kiddos and really stick to water and milk for simplicity (and to avoid mess.) We also find that bowls (or little mugs) with handles help for holding snacks. Vertical snack bags also work well for on the go. In fact, we even got some cute little reusable/machine-washable snack pouches at a Farmer’s Market one time!

Lunch in a hotel room

If nothing else, please takeaway these two things. One we already said: Plan ahead. The other is this: Don’t set your expectations too high. Things will go wrong, meltdowns will occur, and that’s okay. Hopefully planning ahead and being familiar with some things other moms do will be a card you can play when the time arises. If all else fails, you will have a great story to tell your future son or daughter-in-law! That’s something, right? Memories are made in the journey, so take it all in and enjoy the ride!

As always, if you have other tips, please share! We all need some new tricks every now and then.

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate


Uncategorized

7 Simple Activities for Rainy Days!

There’s no where my kiddos would rather be than outside; running, screaming, and exploring. They would spend the entire day outside if they could, and sometimes we do! However, there are days when we just can’t do outside. It’s too hot, it’s raining, or maybe it’s too cold, which doesn’t happen often here in North Carolina.

Regardless of the reason, all of their bottled up energy needs somewhere to go, and I’d prefer it not be them jumping from couch to couch. Of course, on these rainy days their old toys no longer interest them and they are all over the place. Thankfully there are plenty of fun, easy, and quick to put together activities to keep your little ones busy right inside your home.

1. Sensory Bins:

Sensory bins are a great way to let your little ones explore different textures, colors, and concepts. Everything is contained in a big plastic tub, or so it’s supposed to be, which makes for easy clean up! Find a plastic tub you have laying around the house and fill it with whatever interests your child. We currently LOVE construction of any kind. So, off I went to the garage, got some soil and rocks and ta-da! A sensory bin was created!

Some other fun themes are: holidays, individual colors, and seasons.

2. DIY Dry Erase Board:

Have a glass door or window? I’m sure you do! Well guess what, you also have a dry erase board. Grab some dry erase markers and let your little one draw a picture. Make sure you remind them markers are ONLY for the door or window, otherwise you may end up with a lovely Picasso-esque mural adorning your walls. When drawing their own picture loses your littles interest, draw shapes on the door, then begin naming the shapes, while having them erase or circle the shape you named. You can do this with anything: letters, numbers, shapes, sight words, etc you name it!

3. Alphabet & Number Games:

We have been focusing on our numbers, letters, and shapes for a while. Over time we have narrowed down some of our favorite games. Do you have an old cookie sheet you no longer use, alphabet or number magnets, and a sharpie? If you do, you have a new game at your fingertips. Take a sharpie, write down the alphabet (or numbers) and have your kiddo match them up! How easy is that?! If you don’t have magnets, grab a piece of paper and some paint! Write the alphabet or numbers down and have your kiddo trace them with paint. Both activities are simple to put together and will keep your little ones busy.

4. Cook together!

Cooking together doesn’t have to be elaborate! Have them help you make breakfast, or lunch. Measuring, dumping, and stirring help build fine motor skills, it also builds memories together. Bonus, my toddler also seems to eat more of the food when he helps!

5. Painters Tape Race Track!

Cranes, trains, and automobiles are just a few of our favorite things. With that being said, we have a TON of vehicles throughout our house. These vehicles sometimes need to place to go (other than under my feet!). So, we grabbed some painters tape and created a race track! But, what’s a race track without some tunnels and bridges?! Thank you solo cups! The tracks don’t have to stay on the ground. Up the walls, over the couches, and down the kitchen drawers are all fun places for their cars to travel.

6. Bring Nature Indoors!

Not literally.  But when all your littles want to do is venture outside, you can still let them scope it out from the sidelines.  Talk about the weather, look for wildlife with a pair of binoculars, grab a bird book and identify birds at the feeder, watch and learn about the types of clouds.  If you live in a larger city or busy neighborhood, people watch!  These little window-watching conversations will introduce new fun, and even new vocabulary.

7. A timeless classic…Build a Fort!

What kid doesn’t love a fort?  They are ripping your house apart anyway, might as well do it intentionally!  Gather all the pillows, blankets, cushions and get to work. Have flashlights or lanterns?  Great!  Stuffed animal role players? Awesome!  Forts aren’t an everyday occurrence over here, so making a rainy day extra special with this family activity is always a blast. Leave them up all day, eat lunch in there, watch a movie by lantern-light. It only takes a slight departure from “normal” for kids to think something is magical.

Now it’s your turn!

Choose one or a few of these rainy day activities for your little one and go have fun!