Really Random Real Ideas for Real Moms

So I told you yesterday that after I made sure our toddler’s mouth was staple free
I’d get around to finishing this post.

Get that right-click-open-link-in-a-new-tab-finger ready because this one is full of fun links to share. 

No pretty pictures, just some random real life ideas that have been helpful to our family.

At the end, I’d love it if you’d share any tips or ideas that have helped you as a mama or that your mom used when you were a child.

Happy Mother’s Day My Friends!

Kids and Travel…

–Use aquadoodle pens on paint with water books.
–Bring along blank circle stickers and have the kids draw on as many different faces as they can come up with.
–Car Bingo–make your own or purchase one here.
–Pre-mix Cd’s with itunes kids’ favorites.
Don’t bring a dvd player (there’s a lot to be said for the amazing creativity and conversations that “boredom” inspires).
–Anyone remember Mad Libs?
–Carry a bug or critter container at all times.  We even managed to find a frog in the middle of the airport.
–Check out audio books from the library before you go.
–Print a map of the journey from your home to your destination and let your kids check off progress and chart times along the way.
–Always bring along several ziplock bags, hand sanitizer, and a large garbage bag, cuz you just never know…

Around the House with Kids…

–Use How Can I Help? lists like this one.
–Move dishes and cups to lower cabinets where children can get them out and put them away.
–If possible, find or purchase several small working cordless vacuums that even 2-year-olds can use to really help. 
–Supply labeled laundry baskets for each room or child’s clean laundry.
–If you need to expand closet space, consider using extender hanger bars that create a lower level for the little littles that may not be able reach that top bar (all of ours share rooms, so finding extra space is finding a treasure).
–Consider moving all the family’s shoes and jackets to the garage or wherever you tend to enter and exit the house.

Outside With Kids…

–When in doubt, send them out.
–Create a nature scavenger hunt.
–Pay them 1cent per collected dandelion head.
–Give them space to plant their own seeds.  Our boys’ snap peas did better than mine last year.
–For younger children, give them a bucket of water and paint brushes and let them “paint” the deck.  It’s amazing how long they’ll do this.
–Install squirrel and bird feeders to invite wildlife into the yard or balcony.
–Pick up scrap wood from Home Depot or another home building store and let your kids hammer in nails outside.

Art and Education with Kids….

–Find interesting ways to hang artwork around the house.  See this past post for ideas.
–If you homeschool, consider using small dry erase boards for each child so that they can clearly see their work for the next day.
–Create art centers around the house where markers and paper can stay available to encourage creativity.
I like to use cute flower pots to store markers and crayons.
–If you have puzzle or Lego enjoyers who have a hard time breaking down their creations, take photos of their completed projects and let them keep a small photo album designated to recording their past Lego or puzzle accomplishments.
–Leave out a table specifically designated for puzzles year around.
–Use cafeteria trays like these for playdough, painting, bead work etc.  It will help contain the mess.
–Cover cookie sheets in jam or shaving foam and let your alphabet learners practice writing their names in the goo.

Babies and Toddlers….

–Try out these mesh feeders when introducing fresh fruits and veggies–keeps fruit/veggies fresh and inexpensive.
–Consider using spill-able cups so that toddlers learn that cups can spill.
–Find a small, inexpensive, towel-sized “blankie” and buy several of them so that they’re easy to throw in the wash and to pack and replace (we finally did this with our fifth kiddo and it has been SO helpful).
–If you have a wobbly-sitter and you’re at the market, consider borrowing 2 bags of flour while you shop to help give support on either side of your little one.
–Always vacuum while your baby is sleeping so that they’ll get used to the noise (I know this may not work for everyone, but since ours all joined us pretty quickly and they all share rooms…sound sleeping has been a huge gift…it’s worth a try–right?)
–Consider packing blue painters tape to map out boundaries at other people’s houses or outside.  I know this may sound crazy, but it really did help…to make the line visual when there was a certain invisible line we didn’t want them to cross over.
–Let older children help teach younger children sign language.

Fun With Kids…

–Consider hatching eggs, or cocoons, or insects.
–These “watch it grow” window clings are fun and inexpensive. But you can also use a ziplock bag and tape.
–Empty out a train table drawer or use a large tub….fill it with dried pinto beans (we had some pinto-beans-pushed-into-noses issues…if this happens….pinch close the empty nostril side and then ask child to blow her nose….3 out of 5 times…the bean will come shooting out).  Kind of like an indoor sandbox.
–Create a book list of books you want to read together.
–Consider incorporating Kid Talk Cards at meals every once in a while–you’ll learn things about your kiddos you didn’t know…
–Work your way through Tulley’s 50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do.

Faith and Kids…

–Make a missionary map board.
–Consider memorizing the Fighter Verses offered be Desiring God as a family.
–Find or buy a large piece of tile that you like and write verses on it with a dry erase marker.  If you want it to “stand up” somewhere, it works to use a photo frame ledge or cook book holder.  You can also write verses on a mirror in the bathroom.
–Use a larger cookbook holder like this one to leave your Bible out on the kitchen counter where you’ll see it throughout the day.  Then read it :)
–Find some kids’ music that incorporates God’s Word (and that you actually like).
–Start a Jordan Stones tradition.
–Make a plan for spending time in God’s Word with your kiddos.  One of our favorite devotional books–Long Story Short.
–Try Dave and Neta Jackson’s Hero Tales series.
–Make a list of the attributes of God and teach your little littles about Him using hand motions to remind them of His character. Sally’s Michael’s book God’s Names is a great place to start when compiling your list.
–Talk a lot about Heaven.

What about you? 
What random helpful ideas or tips do you have to share with other mommies???

Raising Homemakers, A Wise Woman Builds Her House, and Lost in the Prairies…Found By God.

*Happily sharing with

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  1. Thank you so much for this post. I am an only child and didn’t have much exposure (outside of school) to other kids. I now have 6 of my own and most of the time I have no idea what to do with them, or let them do. :D This is the best Mother’s Day Gift I’ve received. Thanks again!

  2. great tips, thank you!

    i really enjoyed the kids and travel ones! :)

  3. Thanks Mountain Mama! :)

    Arvil’s Wife–if you see this–email me…I’d like to send you some doubles that we have of a few favorite books about God for kiddos. Read your most recent posts…God sees it all…hang in there.

  4. Kara these are great ideas. I’m still a little leery of the 50 Dangerous Things to Let you Kids do, but may have to invest in that book. Thanks for linking up today.

  5. Wow, you should see how many tabs I have open now! :) Thank you SO much for these wonderful tips and ideas, I just love them!!

  6. Traveling – For the little ones, take a round metal cake pan and a bag of magnets.

    We’ve also done the pinto beans thing, but with rice. If we’re doing it inside, I put a sheet underneath it so it makes cleanup easier.

    Good ideas!

  7. Ooh, love the book suggestion 50 Dangerous Things….I have some warriors who’d love to give some of those things a try. Of course, I think I could write my own book, too.

    Shatter glass screen door with rock and then hide in your pocket..

    Eat razor and crawl out of bathroom without a speck of blood in your mouth

    Pull down bookcase on yourself and be saved by the coffee table that it lands on

    You know, Kara, because surely you have your own list. :)

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  8. Love this post and will be copying, pasting into word document, and printing for ease of reference and so I can remember that I saw this on your blog :) Love all the ideas! Thanks for sharing on NOBH and Happy Mother’s Day !

  9. I forgot to add that one thing I recently did with my 3 year old is have her string Cheerios on a pipe cleaner. It kept her entertained for awhile! I got the idea from another blogger and here is my post about it if you want to check it out :)

  10. I love the cheerios on pipe cleaners jewelry…going to give that a try…Lydi would think that was a fun challenge! :)

  11. WOW! What a list! We do a lot of the same things, but I found some great nuggets to try out too!

Would love to hear your thoughts...