6 Family Road Trip Tips

In our younger days, road trips were a thing of adventure and glory!  Pack a bag, grab your tunes, and head out towards your destination, letting the breeze from the open windows blow your cares away.  However, times have changed, and now we have kids.  The thought of a road trip now seems more like being trapped in a loud, confined (maybe smelly) space.  However, if you plan well enough, you can get some of those care-free road trip feelings back. Here are 6 tips to help you have a better family road trip.

1. Snacks

You and the kids will inevitably get hungry, so snacks are a must.  But you want to choose the right ones.  Choose a snack that’s too sugary, and your kids will be bouncing out of their car seats. Snacks that are too crumby or sticky will leave your car a mess.  I suggest lots of fruits and some bite sized eats.  Fruits like grapes (as long as your kids are old enough for grapes not to be a high-risk choking hazard), apple slices, or even apple sauce pouches are low-mess!  Also, cups of Goldfish, Teddy Grahams, Cheerios, or other bite-sized crackers that kids don’t have to bite are ideal.  A fun snack could also be trail mix! It’s just sweet enough to satisfy their cravings, but healthy enough to keep their sugar levels in check.  Bring water as well, but make sure they’re not drinking too much!

2. Activities

You are going to want to keep your kids entertained for the duration of your trip.  Playing I Spy and the license plate game can only get you so far along in your trip. Get their tablets set up with a few movies and games that they can play offline.  Bring new books (or ones they haven’t seen in a while) for them to read.  The dollar store has a pretty wide selection of coloring and activity books that you can pick up for cheap!!  Don’t forget the crayons or colored pencils!  An activity tray that fits on their lap is a great addition to a road trip too!  It gives them a place to do their activities and eat.

3. Bathrooms

Planning for bathrooms with kids is hard. Depending on how much they drink, or eat, they may have to go SEVERAL times more than you do. Public roadside bathrooms aren’t always the cleanest, so it’s a good idea to be prepared.  You can buy disposable toilet seat covers, like this one, that can help make you feel better about your child using a public restroom.  But what about when there is nowhere in sight to stop and your child HAS TO GO?  It might be smart to bring a 5 gallon bucket (with lid), a roll of toilet paper, some trash bags, and a travel potty seat. It might not be ideal, but it will work in a pinch.

4. Music

Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you can relive a little bit of that road trip nostalgia.  Before you leave, have your kids help you make a playlist of their favorite songs!  Not every moment needs to be filled with activities.  Sometimes it’s just nice to listen to great music, check out the scenery, and talk with your family.

5. Comfort

Long road trips are great for napping, so make sure everyone has a little pillow and a blanket to keep them comfortable.  Seatbelt pillows are great because they don’t take up a lot of extra space in the car!

6. Planning

If your kids are old enough, get them involved in planning your road trip.  Have them look up the best routes to take.  Maybe even allow them to plan a sight-seeing stop or two along the way to your final destination!

Getting Kids Outside

As the weather breaks we can release our kids to the outdoors!!! For some, this is an anticipated event; after being cooped up all winter, they are ready to get out and play.  But for other kids it is more challenging because they would rather stay inside to play with their toys, or watch tv.  So how can we get our kids outside to make the most of this nice weather?


Get Them Involved in Yard Work.

Kids love to get dirty and dig, so let them have at it!! Let them dig some holes for new plants, or even dig up some weeds!  Maybe you don’t have digging to do, but you can always buy some pots and plant things in there.  Regular watering and weeding, raking and stick collecting are other good ways to get your kids involved in the yard work.


Start a Family Project.

Nothing is more appealing to kids than helping their parents do some cool stuff. Search project ideas together and have your child pick something to build.  Maybe it’s something as simple as a bird house, or maybe it’s something more involved like bench.  Working on projects with you will get them excited to be outside, teach them how to properly use tools, and it will give them a sense of pride and accomplishment.  You can also do small activities like making bird feeders!


Invest in Fun, Universal Outdoor Toys.

Bikes, sports equipment, chalk and bubbles are outdoor toy staples that every family should have.  Talk to your child to see what they are interested in so you get the right equipment to keep them interested and involved.  These are things that can be used with kids of all ages.


Close Down Inside Activities.

Make set Summer Rules about indoor activities.  For instance, you may need to only allow screen time during the breakfast and evening hours and not allow the kids back in unless it is raining.  Remember when we were kids?  My parents shoved us outside after breakfast and chores, and only allowed us back in for meals and bedtime.


Bring Inside Outside.

Maybe you have a child who prefers to color or read one day, and that’s great!! Allow them to bring a book and a blanket outside!!  Post up in a nice spot and just read!! Outside is a great setting to allow your kids to experiment with paints, watercolors, and even playdough!  Maybe you have the space to set up a projector and have an outdoor movie night as well.

Do Some Exploring.

Not every outdoor activity needs to be done in your yard.  Set some days aside to try out a new park, hike on some nature trails, walk around at an arboretum, botanical garden or zoo!  Kids enjoy doing things that are new to them.  Pack some snack, water, or even a whole picnic lunch to make a full day out of your exploration.

DIY Chore Charts

Previously I have written a blog about age-appropriate chores for your kids, and now I want to talk about how to delegate and keep track of those chores.  The best way to do that is with a chore chart!  There are several different kinds of chore charts, and you will have to choose which one will work best for your family.  Having younger kids, you will probably want a chore chart that is specific to each child and with set chores. While having older kids, you can probably get away with a more relaxed chore list that can be done by anyone and everyone. Here are some easy DIY chore charts you can make for your family!


Classic Paper & Sticker Chart:

We’ve all seen these; a drawn graph on a paper or poster board, and stickers at the ready to put on the chart as soon as a chore is completed.

Pros: This chart is very easy to make and use!  And stickers are fun for every kid to use!

Cons: Unfortunately this chart has a one and done life span. Once you have filled it up, it is not easy to re-use, and you will have to have an endless supply of stickers.


Magnet Chore Charts:

By using a magnetic white board, or simply cookie sheets from the dollar store, and some magnets, you can make a simple and fun chore chart to hang anywhere!! This magnet chart can be set up in a graph form, like the classic paper chart, or you can have a “To Do” and “Done” column.

Pros: This chore chart is reusable!! It is also fun and easy to use.

Cons: Depending on how in-depth/creative you want to make it, it could be a little time consuming to make.


Picture Frame & Dry Erase Chore Chart:

Of the three listed here so far, this is my favorite to use!  All you need is a dry erase maker, a picture frame, and a marker clip (all of which I got at the dollar store).  You can create a chore chart on the computer, print it out, and put it in the picture frame.  The marker works well on the glass to check off chores on a daily basis, and is easily erased!

Pros: Chore charts like this are reusable!! Dry erase makers last a long time (as long as the caps are on properly), and with command strips, the frames will stay on the walls securely.  They are also easy to adapt or change.  Simply go into your saved chore chart document, make adjustments, and reprint!

Cons: If you’re not doing a graph, it could take a little bit of time to put together.  For my younger son, I printed out pictures of chores and glued them onto another piece of paper for a more pleasing look.  Also, if  you are concerned about neatness, you may have an issue with child handwriting making all the checks or X’s on the chart.


Popsicle Stick Chore Chart:

You need a bunch of popsicle sticks and two jars (one labeled “To Do” and the other labeled “Done”).  Simply write the chores on the sticks and place them in the “To Do” jar.  Once the chore is done, you can move them to the “Done” jar. Another take on this would be to have one “Done” jar for each child.  This would allow you and your kids to keep track of who has done what.  If you give allowances to your children, you could even write a payment price on each chore stick (i.e.: Folding the Laundry = $1.00).  Then when your child completes the chore and puts the stick into their “Done” jar, you can easily add up what they have earned for the day (or week).

Pros: This chore chart is simple and inexpensive to make.  It is also very amendable; easy to add or remove chores.

Cons: This may not be the best for younger kids who can’t read yet, unless you can get pictures onto the sticks. I can see the opportunity for kids to get sneaky and “mysteriously or accidentally” make a chore disappear from the “To Do” jar.


For More Ideas:

When choosing chore charts, you will have to take into account the ages of your children.  Some chore charts will work better for your family than others, and you may have to go through some trial and error before you find the right fit.  If you would like even more ideas, you can follow this link!

Not Just Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung once again, but the winter has taken a toll on our homes, so this is the time of year when we get into Spring Cleaning Mode and give our home a good deep clean to freshen things up. But do you usually do it alone? You shouldn’t. First of all, you’re not the only one who lives in your house, you don’t make all the messes, and therefore the others should pitch in as well. Even kids as young as 2 years old are capable of helping you clean your house. And I’m not just talking about Spring Cleaning either, I’m talking about daily or weekly chores that your children can do to help pitch in around the house.

Why are chores important?

When children are little, they genuinely want to help you do things, so take advantage of their eagerness; it will be beneficial for you and for them! Age appropriate chores are important because they help to build confidence in a young child, you’ve always got to set them up for success. When they are able to complete a chore, their confidence grows, and it instills a sense of accomplishment in them. You know how you feel when you’ve had a really productive day at work? That’s the same feeling your child gets when making a helpful contribution to the family. Having a list of chores is a great way to support feelings of value, worth, and connectivity within your family. Children like to know that they matter, what they do matters, and when  you put your confidence in them to complete some tasks, they just bloom!

2-3 Year Olds Can:

  • pick up their toys
  • put clothes in hamper
  • dust-bust after meals
  • wipe surfaces (cabinets, counters and baseboards)
  • help move laundry
  • Swiffer
  • carry light groceries

4-5 Year Olds Can:

  • all previous chores
  • make bed
  • put clean laundry away
  • wipe window sills
  • empty small trash cans
  • sweeping/mopping
  • vacuum
  • set/clear table
  • unload/load dishwasher
  • feed pets

6-8 Year Olds Can:

  • all previous chores
  • help with meal prep
  • get mail
  • rake leaves
  • collect garbage
  • clean shower/tub
  • hang/fold clean laundry
  • clean microwave
  • dust
  • help pull weeds

9-11 Year Olds Can:

  • all previous chores
  • do laundry
  • help cook simple meals
  • clean toilets
  • take garbage/recycling to curb & bring it back in

12-14 Year Olds Can:

  • all previous chores
  • cook full meals
  • make meal plans
  • clean fridge/freezer
  • mow the lawn
  • iron
  • help/supervise younger siblings with their chores

Spring Break on a Budget

Many of our kids will be let out of school for Spring Break soon. Some of us may have a getaway planned, but for others, it might not be in the budget. You want to make Spring Break memorable for your kids, but you also don’t want to break the budget. And you definitely don’t want them sitting around the house all break. So what can you do? Here are some Spring Break activities that are low-cost, or even free!!

Picnic in the Park

Kids love to do normal things in different place; it’s exciting for them! So why not pack a lunch and head over to the local playground? You can bring a blanket, a packed lunch, maybe even some books, and your sense of adventure! Your kids will love it, and be able to burn off their energy at the park!

Daily Bike Ride or Walk

Part of making memories with your kids is starting family traditions. Spring Break can be a great time to add a daily walk or bike ride into your routine, and the great thing is, you can keep it up all Summer long too! Choose your time wisely, I’d suggest heading out after dinner, when your kids are full of energy. Walks and bike rides can be a good quiet time together to talk, meet neighbors, and just wind down from the day. Every once in a while you can switch it up and walk, or bike, to certain destinations (ice cream store, library, a neighbor’s BBQ)

Local Library

Check out the kids activities and programs hosted by your local library. They usually have some interesting programs for kids during school breaks, and the sign-up fee is usually little to nothing at all! At the very least, you will be able to check out some new books to enjoy with your child!

Take a Train Ride

Do you have a local commuter train in your town, or near you? Check out the schedules and plan a little trip!! Depending on your schedule, you can go for a long ride, or just a few stops away! Many train stops or in the downtown area of towns, and are close to shops and restaurants. Make it a day trip, or simply a different way to go out for lunch! Many trains charge a nothing (or reduced fee) depending on how old your child is, and as an adult, it’s usually a pretty reasonable price.

Nature Centers and Forest Preserves

Kids love nature, and sometimes you just need to go for a walk somewhere other than your neighborhood. Nature centers and forest preserves are free to use, or have a small entrance fee, and can be fun and educational. Learn about your local wildlife, interact with nature centered activities, or simply utilize the nature trails for your own exploration. If you want to make it a real exploration trip, pack a backpack for each kid with a notebook and pencil for taking notes about what they see, some water and trail mix, and maybe some binoculars (real or homemade from toilet paper rolls) and/or a magnifying glass.

Creating Time for Peace

Our days, and lives, are filled with non-stop activities; school, classes, sports practices, sport events, parties to attend, parties to host, and other seasonal school programs. But among the chaos of the go-go-go, are you enjoying the moments? Are you allowing yourself to create time to enjoy the peace among the chaos? Are you able to focus on what’s truly important in life?

The Pinterest Hostess

Think about what happens to you when you host a party. What’s your focus? Do you get lost in the details of the presentation? Does your house needs to look spotless as if no one lives there? Do you stress over table settings, making sure every platter, napkin and table cloth need to match perfectly? Do you feel like all your food must be presented in a Pinterest worthy way?

Take a deep breath and find the peace. Sure you need to prepare food and straighten up a bit, but know that your guests come to your house for YOU. Your guests come to share in your stories and laughter. They come for good conversation, and even better company. They come to celebrate your successes, and comfort you in your sorrows. Friends come to seek their own peace and comfort in your embrace and knowledge. At the end of the day, you can find your own peace by letting go of the things that simply don’t matter. When you host, all that really matters is that your heart is as open as your home.

Sports and Activities

Think about your child’s sport or activities. How often do we put pressure on our kids, or allow them to put pressure on themselves to be perfect? Are their schedules overcrowded with activity after activity? Do we make them practice at home as well as at their scheduled practices? It’s very unlikely that your child will be headed to the pro’s in their sport or activity, so there is no need to stress over perfection. Is it good to practice a skill and become better at it? Yes, but when that practice starts to interfere with their happiness, or their ability to spend quality time with friends and family, then it’s worth reevaluating.

If your child enjoys having an activity, then allow them to choose one per season. This will allow them to explore their likes and talents without over scheduling them. When practicing at home, keep things light and short, especially for the younger kids; you don’t want to force practice so that they grow to despise the activity. By decluttering the activity schedule and keeping home practices light and fun, you will find peace in the fun of the activity, and in the extra time you get to spend with your children.

Daily Dinner Peace

On a daily basis, dinner time can be an easy way to squeeze in some peace with your family. However, our work or school schedules may cut into the time you would normally take to make a meal, but that is still no need to stress. Sometimes you need to call in some help. Maybe on days when you know you won’t be home in time to cook, throw some ingredients into the crockpot, let that cook all day and be ready when you get home. Or, maybe even order in some pizzas to ease your day.

But no matter what, sit down with your family and enjoy the peace of being together. Enjoy talking to each other and learning about each other’s days. Enjoy watching your children grow on a daily basis, watching them grow into their own people, but also watching their bonds with each other grow. This is the stuff that matters, these are the moments you need to seek out, and when you do, when you make the time do step back and see them and enjoy them, then you will have given yourself peace among the every day chaos.

Gift an Experience

Things and Stuff

Our lives and homes are overflowing with things and stuff. Things we hang on to, stuff we don’t need; material items that we buy because we want them, and then we never use them. The same is true for our children. They see a commercial for the latest toy or gadget, and they want it. And so, inevitably, we or someone else gets it for them. They play with it for a while, and then it just becomes part of the stuff we have, and they don’t remember who gave it to them or why. But we can change that; we can give them more of an experience.

Experience Over Presents

My husband and I decided a long time ago that we would ask our friends and family not to buy our children presents for their birthdays. Instead, if they wanted to get them a gift, they were to gift them an experience. We feel that our family and friends are important, and we want our children to grow up making memories and developing deeper relationships with all of them. We want our children to appreciate quality time and enjoy the company of others just as much, if not more than, they appreciate getting things. Our family was hesitant at first, having a long tradition of giving presents on birthdays, but after the first year, they were all on board. They too, were making memories with our children, and that was a gift for them as well. Here are five examples of experience gifts.

5 Experience Gift Ideas

1. Meal & a Movie- Pick the kid up and treat them to a special meal and a movie of their choice. You can get plenty of conversation in during the meal, and you’ll have something to talk about after the movie too! Plus, kids movies are usually pretty funny these days.

2. Activity- Do you have a mini golf, trampoline park, or other cool kid place near you? Take the kid to somewhere a parent might not frequent. A lot of times, these places are not every day experiences for kids and parents. Parents may have too many kids to take at one time, so if you could take just one, it would make it a real cool and special experience.

3. Museum or Zoo- Kids love going to museums and zoos! And whether you take them yourself, gift them a membership to go whenever, or even just a gift of a one-time admission, they will LOVE IT!! The membership or one-time admission option is an especially good idea if you don’t live close enough to take the kid yourself. Every time we go somewhere that someone has gifted us admission, we send them pics of our experience there to thank them.

4. Keeping it Simple -You don’t have to spend money to create an experience with a kid. You can schedule a day to simply go to their house and play with them. Or take them on a bike ride, or walk to the park. Maybe even schedule a sleepover at your house for them. Experiences are about creating memories and developing relationships, not about how much you spend.

5. Something to Read- Maybe you have a kid who likes to read and learn! A magazine subscription would be perfect! Not only do they GET MAIL, but you will have some interesting topics to discuss the next time you visit. Another option might be a gift card to the bookstore, or a trip to the library to get a library card and check out books.  Or maybe simply grab some books, and head outside to read with them!


5 Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills

Kids are Falling Behind

 I recently read an article by Simon Leo Brown titled, “iPad Generation’s Fingers Not Ready to Write, Teachers Say.”  You can read it here.  Basically, it said that due to kids using tablets more than they do other activities with their hands, they are not developing the fine motor skills they need to write.  Fine motor skills take time and practice to develop and control, and using a finger to swipe on a tablet just isn’t helping.  Writing is still an important part of communication in our society, so we need to ensure that our children properly develop their fine motor skills.  Sure, things are more electronic, but our kids still need to know how to properly write.  So what can we do to help them develop fine motor skills?


5 Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills 

  1. Color & Write Use pencils, crayons, markers, and paints, and just sit and color with your child. Use coloring books, activity books, or just plain paper!  Make sure to show them how to properly grasp the writing utensil: tripod grasps and quad grasps are most functional.  You can buy pencil grips that aid in correcting a grasp, and for younger children, fatter writing tools are useful.  You can practice writing by writing your child’s name with a highlighter and having them practice tracing the letters.


  1. Cut Bust out those kid scissors, and start cutting! Draw simple shapes on a piece of paper, and let your child cut them out! You could also draw various lines (curvy, zig-zag, straight) and have them cut along those. But paper isn’t the only thing you can cut.  Try cutting playdough!! It’s fun to manipulate, and after they cut it all up, they can roll it all back together again! Again, you will want to be sure you demonstrate the proper way to hold and use scissors; thumb on top!


  1. Bead Buy a bag of fun beads and a pack of pipe cleaners and have your child thread the pipe cleaners through the beads. Pipe cleaners are easier than a thread for young children to manipulate, and the beads should stay on them pretty easily. If you can do this just as a fun activity, or you can make bracelets with them! As a bonus, you can practice sorting and patterns as well with the beads!! *Cheerios and Fruit Loops could also be used instead of beads*


  1. Tweezers & Eye Droppers Fill an ice cube tray with some of those little puff balls (easily found at a craft store) or water and have your child use either tweezers or an eye dropper to remove everything from each of the cubes. You can have a bowl or cup next to them so they can have somewhere to put the things they take out. Then, you can have them put it all back into the ice cube tray.  BONUS: if you are using water, you can add drops of food coloring to different cubes of the tray and play around with mixing colors!


  1. Stickers Peeling stickers can be a tricky task, but it definitely works those fine motor skills! Give your child a sheet of stickers and a blank piece of paper, and let go to town decorating!!  If you really want to get some bang for your buck, you can have them draw a picture first, and then have them add stickers to it!

Using Timers to Effectively Manage Your Kid’s Time

Time is a Tricky Subject

Using timers to effectively manage your kid’s time depending on the situation, it can go by quickly, or it can drag on for eternity.  As a parent, effective time management with your kids can be even trickier.  Every day I say things like, “You have five more minutes before we need to leave,” or, “Give me a minute,” or, “You have been eating for 40 minutes already! HURRY UP!!”  I’m sure you’ve said them too, countless time.  But what does “five more minutes” mean to a kid?

I remember back to when I was a kid and my mom would have her friend over, and they’d say we’d have 5 more minutes before they had to leave, and we would be so excited because we knew our moms would lose track of time while talking and we’d get more playing in.  As a kid this was great, but as a parent, it made me think long and hard about my own time management. Here are two different ways you can use timers to effectively manage your kids’ (and your) time.

Effectively Manage Your Kid’s TimePhone Timer To The Rescue

I want to be honest with my kids, always. I want them to know that I mean what I say, and I say what I mean, and keeping myself, and them, accountable with time is one way I can achieve that.  It’s easier than you think too!  We all have phones on us at all times, it’s just the way it is now, and those phones come equipped with a timer setting.  You can set a time limit, and the phone will count down and make a lovely little noise when time runs out.  This function is great for when I’m busy with something and my kids want attention.  I can tell them, “Mommy is busy right now, but if you can give me five minutes, then I can give you my full attention.  Effectively manage your kid’s time  until Mommy’s phone makes noise.”  Then I set my timer for five minutes.  It allows my kids to know that they will have my attention shortly, and it also keeps me accountable for sticking to the five minutes rather than dragging it out longer.

This timer function is also great in public places. Before I started using it, I’d say, “Five more minutes, and then we have to leave.”  Then, after five minutes had passed my kids would always get into negotiation mode about staying longer.  The funny thing is that when I started setting the timer and it would make noise, they would just be ready to leave!! My kids wouldn’t argue or try to negotiate with the almighty phone timer!  I use this for bath time, T.V. time, time until clean-up when I have to monitor some sort of toy time-share negotiations and any other situation in which they only have a certain amount of time.

Keeping Time At The Table

Mealtime is another part of our day where my kids need help with effectively managing their time.  I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that my kids can be THE SLOWEST at eating their food, and I’m am fairly certain that I’m not alone in this.  I’ve tried using the phone timer for this one too, but at such a young age (my oldest was 3 when I started trying to speed up his eating time) watching the numbers count down meant nothing to him.  He could count, but counting down was not on his level yet.

So what to do?? I went on Amazon and ordered two sand timers. One was a 30-minute timer, and the other was 45 minutes.  At mealtimes, I flip over both of the timers, and if they finish eating before the first timer is done, they get dessert (which is usually more fruit, yogurt with chocolate chips in it, or a small cookie).  If the 30 minutes is up, and they are still eating, that’s fine, but no dessert.  When the 45-minute timer runs out, the meal is over. We start clearing plates, and if they didn’t finish, well, that’s their own fault.

Now, before you start saying that I’m cruel for taking food away from my kids, 45 minutes is a long time.  If they were hungry, they had PLENTY of time to eat.  It only takes 1 or 2 times of having to take their plates away for them to realize that they’d better eat up.  The reason that sand timers work so much better than the phone timer is that they can effectively manage their time and see it slipping away!  They can see that they only have a little while longer to finish before they don’t get dessert.  And when they finish quickly, they are proud of how much time they have left!!

Implementing the use of timers into your daily routines will be quick, effective, and easy.  All you have to do is remember to actually set the timer once you say the words.  Your kids will catch on quickly, and to be held accountable to a specific time frame is good practice for everyone!


6 Tips for Independent Kids

Independence is the ultimate goal of parenting.  We all want to raise kids who are capable of moving out and taking care of themselves as fully functional adults.  Yet, we tend to baby our children and dote on them longer than we need to.  Our kids are far more capable of doing things for themselves than we tend to give them credit for.  We put on their coats and shoes for them because it is faster when we do it, or we don’t want to fight them to do it.  However, when we continually do things for our children that they are capable of doing themselves, we are stunting their personal development. We aren’t allowing them to practice the life skills they will need when they are older. Children want to be independent, and here are 6 ways that you can give them that freedom.


6 Ways to Help Your Child Become More Independent:

  1. Let them get dressed.

    Allow your kids to pick out their own clothes and put them on.  You may have to help a 2-year-old with getting their shirt on, but other than that, they should be able to do it.  Will you need to correct some backward or inside out clothing? Yes.  Will they sometimes look ridiculous? Yes.  The other day my 3-year-old wore a red Christmas sweater, orange and black dinosaur “comfy” pants, and then topped it all off with a navy blue clip-on tie. True story.  My rule is that as long as their choices are weather appropriate, I will not interfere with what they choose to wear.


  1. Make the kitchen more accessible.

    Move the kid’s dishes, cups, and utensils to a lower cabinet so that your kids can easily get their things. You can then ask them to set their places at the table for you, put clean dishes away, and even get their own cup out when they are thirsty.  Additionally, add a step stool in your kitchen so your kids can reach the sink.  This allows for easy access to rinsing dishes or washing hands.  Move around the kid’s food so it is accessible as well.  Put milk, juice or water into a container with a pour spout so kids can easily serve their own drinks.  Move the kid-friendly snack foods to the lower shelves of the fridge and the pantry so the kids can easily reach them.  You don’t want to bend over to get stuff from those shelves anyway.


  1. Give your child chores. What?! Giving a child a list of daily and/or weekly chores allows them to practice life skills.  You can also award an allowance to older kids who do their chores.  Chore charts are an easy way to keep track of which chores are done, and which ones need to be done.  In my house, I have a list of daily chores for my 3-year-old, and a list of daily and weekly chores for my 6-year-old.  I keep these lists in a cheap dollar store picture frame, and we use a dry erase marker to mark the chores they have done. Chores teach responsibility, and responsibility is a good foundation for independence.


  1. Let them play.

    Free play is important for a child’s development, both socially and emotionally.  However, this play needs to be completely free of adult interaction.  It is when the adults are not around that children develop skills for themselves.  Like problem-solving, cooperation, sharing, empathy, emotional strength, and resilience.  They also get to develop their creativity.  They learn by doing, by figuring things out.  If you allow them to have the space to develop and explore their world on their own, then they will be better equipped and more confident; more ready to live an independent life.

  1. Give them extra time.

    If you want your kids to get dressed by themselves, then you can’t be asking them to get ready 5 minutes before you need to be out the door; the same goes with putting on shoes.  They are new at these tasks, and they will take (what seems like) forever to do so.  You need to allow them extra time to figure out how to do it, and how to do it right.  If you want them to help you in the kitchen, know that they will cause a bigger mess than you would, so you will have to allow extra time to clean up.  Have them help you clean up, but it will take longer.  Learning to complete any task is something that takes time and practice.  If you do not allow them that extra time, they will become frustrated and give up.


  1. Allow them to make mistakes.

    When your child makes mistakes, in homework, play, or whenever, they are given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.  Mistakes allow kids to learn cause and effect, they allow the opportunity for a child to reflect and rethink a situation, and they learn how to better do something the next time.  When you see your child struggling with something, or see that they are about to make a mistake, don’t jump in to correct them.  If you do, you are only robbing them of independent thinking and reflection.  Observe what they are doing, and after a while, you can offer assistance (if necessary).  Maybe all you need to do is talk to them about their choices or actions after the fact.  But mistakes are a part of life, and they need to know that a) it’s ok to make mistakes, and b) mistakes are good learning opportunities.