Five Tips For Teaching Kids To Cook

Five Tips for Teaching Kids to cook.

As I’ve worked to re-organize our days, I’ve looked at a lot of chore charts.  The chores that I see for kids are all pretty standard–wipe the table, pick up toys, make the bed, etc.  Some chores (like load the dishwasher) even get the kids IN the kitchen, but I rarely see meal preparation as part of that list.  I think that is because the thought of getting our kids in the kitchen is a little intimidating to many of us.  So, today I’d like to give you five tips for teaching kids to cook.

Teach your kids to cook (even if you can't). Teaching Kids To Cook is teaching an important life skill.

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.  I work hard to only recommend products that my family uses and loves.  Thank you for supporting our family!

5 Tips For Teaching Kids To Cook:

Remember your “why”.

We spend so much time worrying about our kids’ academic success, but many of us rarely think about teaching them life skills.  Of course, they will need to have a good career to make a living.  However, we often forget that no matter what they do professionally, they will need to run a household.  And, most of them won’t make enough money to hire a maid and a cook.  If we don’t take the time to teach our kids how to cook, we are sabotaging all of those years of making sure that they eat healthy foods.  Because, if they get out on their own not knowing how to cook, they will likely turn to take out, fast food, and microwave dinners–which will be bad for their health and their finances.

Prepare before bringing your kids into the kitchen.  

Trust me on this.  Nothing is more frustrating than running into the pantry to grab an ingredient only to come back to a spilled mixing bowl because one of your kids wanted to help stir.  Lay out your recipe. Gather all of the kitchen tools you will need.  (I even set them up in “stations” according to what task each kid will be doing.)  Bring in stools or sturdy chairs for your kids to stand on, if needed.  Sit out all of your ingredients.  (I also group them, if needed.  For example, the recipe has you mix wet and dry ingredients separately.)  Lastly, take a deep breath and muster up all of your patience.

Work from left to right.  

Put your pan or mixing bowl in the middle with all of the ingredients on the left-hand side.  As you add each ingredient, move it to the right-hand side of the pan/bowl.  It’s easy for me to forget if I already added an ingredient when I’m cooking on my own.  Add in a few kids, and I have NO CHANCE.  LOL!  Please, save yourself the frustration, and use this system.

Let go of perfectionism.  

I know that sometimes it can be almost painful to watch little hands fumble to do what is easy for ours only to end up with a…umm…less-than-perfect result.  You may have to eat a few burnt pancakes or have dinner an hour late.  But, just remember, you are making an investment in your kid AND yourself.  Not only will they go into their adult lives confident in the kitchen, but, before long, they will be a HUGE help to you!  Think about how much time it will save you when your 12-year-old chops all of the vegetables, your 9-year-old measures out all of the spices, and your little ones set the table.  Even if you don’t have a bigger family, like me, any one of those things is a time saver!  And, even though it is a little chaotic at times, the kids really do love being a part of what you’re doing and doing “adult” things.

Last of all, get help!  

Honestly, I had a hard time letting my kids into the kitchen because I wasn’t really comfortable in the kitchen.  Most of what I knew, I figured out the hard way so I wasn’t even sure if I was doing it right.  Google was (and still is) my friend when it comes to all of those cooking terms like sautée, blanch, or al dente.  So, how on earth was I supposed to teach all of these things in the middle of a kitchen full of kids, knives, and an open flame?  LOL!  For that reason, I just didn’t.  I needed help.  I needed a plan.  I needed somebody that knew what they were doing.  And, I found exactly that when I stumbled across the Kids Cook Real Food course by Kitchen Stewardship.

 Teaching kids to cook is as important as math and history!(Check out our affiliate info in the sidebar.)

Honestly, I have been looking at this course for over a year.  I am extremely frugal and am always trying to do stuff myself to save money.  But, guess what happened in that year that I waited.  My kids got older, and they didn’t learn anything about cooking.  

So, at the beginning of this summer, as I was looking at a one week art camp for my daughter, I had a realization.  It was $95 for her to get 15 hours of art instruction.  That was not much less than it would cost me for a lifetime membership to all three levels of the cooking class for all four of my kids and a lot more than some of the annual plans!  So, since my youngest kids are at the beginner level, I am going to get a lot of bang for my buck as they move on to the intermediate and advanced classes at no extra charge!  And, they are all learning a very valuable life skill.  

Now, I am not saying that art isn’t important, but eating is absolutely necessary, and it’s much more important to me that they can prepare wholesome, healthy meals.  And, as a bonus, after we finish a lesson, we have a healthy snack, side, or meal instead of another craft project adding to the clutter I’m always fighting!  I highly recommend checking out the curriculum here!

So, what about you?  Have you taught your kids to cook?  What are some tips you can share with the rest of us that are interested in teaching kids to cook?  Is teaching kids to cook important to you, but you haven’t done anything about it?  Why or why not?

Are you having a hard time figuring out how to fit cooking classes into your schedule?  Check out this post.

Why you need a daily routine instead of a daily schedule. Plus, a free printable to help you get started!


Do you know you need to get your kids in the kitchen, but you just keep putting it off?  Read these tips.

Stressed out? Procrastination could be the cause. Check out these 5 tips to overcome procrastination!


Five Tips To Help You Get Up Early From A Lifelong Night Owl

tips to get up early

I have always been a night owl.  My mom eventually gave up on enforcing bedtimes earlier than 10pm because I simply couldn’t turn my brain off and go to sleep any earlier.  But, now that I’m a mom, I have discovered that waking up after my kids means waking up to chaos, which, in turn, makes me not want to wake up at all!  However, I still crave that quiet time where I can just BE without everyone needing something from me.  So, after years of fighting it, I have learned to get up early so I can get a little time to myself and be awake and prepared for the day before the kids start stirring around.  

How to get up early

Here are my top five tips to help you get up early in the morning.

  1. Prepare the night before.  A messy, cluttered house and a kitchen sink full of dishes is enough to make even natural early birds pull the covers back over their heads.  Take some time the night before to prepare for your rising.  Pick up the house.  Clean the kitchen, and sit out everything for your morning coffee (or other favorite morning beverage).  I even like to start breakfast.  This crockpot oatmeal or these freezable breakfast burritos are my favorites, but I also turn to several of these quick morning recipes when I want to switch things up.
  2. Swallow the frog!  I know.  You’re wondering what on earth that means.  Whatever it is, it sounds like something that makes you want to hide UNDER the bed, not get out of it.  LOL!  It actually refers to a quote by Mark Twain:  “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”  A lot of people use it as motivation to do their hardest jobs first.  Then, the rest of their day is easier.  I love the concept, but for a life-long night owl, getting up early is the thing that I dread!  So, as soon as I wake up I “swallow the frog” by hopping out of bed.  Since I just did the hard thing, I have better things (like a clean-ish house, my favorite drink, and breakfast) ahead of me.  I may actually have another frog to eat once I get my day going, but I can deal with that once I’m fully awake, showered, satisfied with good food, and ready to take on the day!  Not swallowing the frog is actually just a way to put off the hard or undesirable things that we all have to do, if you struggle with procrastination, check out my tips for overcoming procrastination.
  3. Spend at least 15 minutes out in the sun shortly after you wake up.  Sunlight turns off the flow of melatonin (which makes you feel sleepy) and causes your brain to produce serotonin (which is thought to produce feelings of well-being and fight off depression).  
  4. Be consistent with your sleep schedule.  It’s tempting to sleep in, especially if you were up late the night before.  But, sleeping in will make it harder for you to sleep well that night which makes you sleep in the next morning, and it becomes a vicious cycle.  
  5. Get a good night’s sleep.  It’s easy to be unrealistic about the amount of sleep you need when you are deciding on a sleep schedule.  Don’t give in to the temptation to cut yourself short on sleep so you can get more done.  You may accomplish more in the short term, but eventually lack of sleep will catch up with you and you will suffer from lack of focus, exhaustion, poor health, and general moodiness.  To figure out how much sleep I need, I went to bed at the same time for several nights in a row and paid attention to what time I consistently woke up without an alarm clock.  When I woke up, I got up and started my daily routine. 

By the way, if you struggle with keeping a daily schedule, I have a free worksheet to help you develop a daily routine–a general flow to your day to keep you on-track without the stress of keeping a strict schedule.  Following a daily routine instead of a schedule revolutionized my days at home with kids (because we all know kids have a way of blowing even the most perfectly thought-out schedule).  I call it my schedule with grace!  Get the free Daily Routine Worksheet here!

daily routine builder

What about you?  Do you find that your days go better if you get up before your kids?  Do you have any tips for someone who is struggling to get up early?

Establish A Daily Routine Without The Schedule

daily schedule with toddlers

When I was a new mom, I was suddenly thrown into the world of trying to keep the house under control and dinner on the table with the added responsibility of a tiny human being relying on me for his every need.  I was overwhelmed to say the least!  As I searched on-line for guidance, the re-occuring advice was that I needed be on a schedule.  By the time I had several years (and several kids) under my parenting belt, I was the queen of making schedules.  But, it wasn’t because I was succeeding in my role as a mom and homemaker.  No, it was because I had made so many schedules!  And, within weeks, each one would fall flat, leaving me flat on my face crying because I just couldn’t get my stuff together!  It wasn’t until many years into this vicious cycle, that I was introduced to the idea of creating a daily routine!

a daily routine instead of a daily schedule

A daily routine is similar to a daily schedule but without the strict time constraints.  It is the order, or the flow, of your day.  You see, the reason my schedules kept failing was because I had kids!  (Ironically, I needed a schedule so badly because I had kids!  LOL!)  But, kids can completely obliterate even the best of schedules with a single diaper explosion or melt-down over a math problem.  My day would be going along exactly as planned, then an unexpected incident would completely de-rail my whole operation.  Before I knew it, I was two hours behind with no hope of ever getting back on track.  It doesn’t take very many days of that to make you completely give up… again. 

daily routine builder

But, a daily routine is a schedule with grace.  When un-expected events occur, it’s okay.  Since you are not under time constraints, you have the freedom to deal with the un-expected, then move on to the next thing.  Yet, your daily routine is always there to give you the next thing.  Without that, you waste tons of time and mental energy between tasks trying to figure out what you should do next.  My daily schedule has truly given me the structure that I need without taking away the necessary flexibility required for successful, peaceful parenting.

Have you found yourself in the same boat?  If so, follow these simple guidelines to give the daily routine a try:

  1. Write down everything that needs to happen in your typical day.  This includes getting up, daily devotions, meals, nap times, school drop-off, homeschooling, housework, computer tasks, play time, self-care, bath time, bedtime… Everything.
  2. Establish “check points” with grace.  Check points are a way of giving yourself accountability with grace.  Check points are times during the day where you would like to be to certain points of your routine.  For example, the best check points to begin with are when you would like everyone to get up and go to bed.  The time between when you (the parent) get up and when you go to bed is the time-frame for the rest of the family’s daily routine.  Next, establish a few check points during the day.  These mid-day check points should include meal times, nap times, and necessary obligations (where you have to be somewhere at a certain time).  Write these check points in order on a piece of paper with plenty of space to “schedule” the time in-between.  Block out the 30 minutes before each check point.  This is were the grace comes in to your daily routine.  That extra thirty minutes is going to serve as “catch up” time for that portion of the day.  You are always going to have unexpected things pop up.  Knowing that you have several thirty minute periods scheduled for catching up during the day removes that stress and allows you to deal with your kids in a kinder, more patient way!
  3. Fill in the rest of your time with the remaining necessary tasks.  Go through your list of remaining tasks for the day and jot down how long you think each task should take.  Then, fill in the empty space on your paper with those tasks.  For example, if you have three hours between breakfast and lunch, pick tasks that add up to 2 1/2 hours worth of time (remember, the other 30 minutes is your grace period), and add them to your routine.  
  4. If you have more tasks than you have time slots, re-evaluate.  If the tasks on your list outnumber the hours in your waking day, it’s time to re-evaluate your list.  Can you get up 30 minutes earlier and still get a decent amount of sleep?  Can some jobs be done every other day?  If so, they can share the same slot on your routine.  Are you constantly falling behind because your home is full of clutter, or are you exhausted because you have poor eating habits?  There are great resources to help you on-line.  Invest in them!  Here is why it is worth it!  Are you doing too much?  If you can’t fit everything into your daily routine, it’s time to have a family meeting to decide what you can cut out of your schedule or delegate to someone else.  This one is hard because we want to do everything, but it is necessary for your quality of life!  Seeing everything written down is good for you and your family to really understand what you are asking of yourself on a day-to-day basis and will provide clarity when making those hard decisions!
  5. Adjust your daily routine as needed!  You are not going to get everything perfect the first time.  Write your daily routine in pencil, and spend the first couple of weeks tweaking it!  You will settle into a rhythm that works for you and your family, and you will be so glad you stuck with it!
  6. Don’t wait.  Do it now!  Don’t put off making a family routine until later.  If what you’re doing isn’t working, then something needs to change.  Simply click the button below, to get our free Daily Routine Worksheet, and give the daily routine a fair try.  If it doesn’t improve your life, you can go back to how you are doing things now.  I promise.  If you’re struggling with getting started, here are some tips to overcome procrastination.

daily routine builder

How about you?  Have you tried and tried to establish a schedule and failed?  Do you create the perfect schedule only to have it de-railed by life?  Do you have any tips that have worked for you?

Are you struggling with mom guilt?  Read this.

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Five Tips To Overcome Procrastination

Stressed out? Procrastination could be the cause. Check out these 5 tips to overcome procrastination! #stress #simplify #simpleliving

I recently shared in this post how procrastination almost cost the life of one of our chickens.  Even though procrastinating doesn’t always result in such obvious problems, it always costs us something.  Many times it is unnecessary stress, wasted mental energy, or strained relationships.  We’ve all spent days with that feeling of dread looming over our heads or snapped at our kids because we were in a time-crunch to do something we should have completed weeks ago.  That’s why it’s essential that we overcome procrastination.

Stressed out? Procrastination could be the cause. Check out these 5 tips to overcome procrastination! #stress #simplify #simpleliving

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

I get it.  We’re all busy.  We always have more stuff to do than time to do it.  But, if we would just take the extra time to do that stuff, it would relieve a lot of the stress in our lives.  

Here are my favorite tips for overcoming procrastination:  

  1. Consider the cost.  What problems could be caused by putting this off?  What can be gained by doing it immediately?
  2. Avoid committing to stuff that you know you will dread.  Yes, we all have to do some things that we don’t like, but how many times do you commit yourself to something simply because you are afraid to say no?  Consider how much time and energy a project will take before you give it your “yes.”  Jon Acuff says it like this:  “The word yes is very expensive.  You only have a few opportunities to spend it every day.  Don’t waste it on situations that deserve to hear the word no.”
  3. Practice “doing it now.”  We are constantly teaching our kids (and ourselves) to not walk past something that needs to be done.  No, that piece of trash left on the ground will not end in tragedy.  However, by picking it up immediately, you are developing the good habit of not putting stuff off until later.
  4. Be honest with yourself about how long something will take.  So many times, I put something off for WEEKS–only to find out that once I got started, it only took me 10 minutes.  I could have saved myself a lot of stress and mental energy if I had just done it!
  5. Just get started!  Getting started is usually the hardest step.  

I’ve created a free printable to help you get on track when you are struggling with procrastination.  It’s perfect to hang on your refrigerator, at your desk, or wherever you tend to have a hard time staying on task!  I’d love to send it to you!   Just click here if you would like one.

overcome procrastination

I hope these tips help you overcome procrastination and get stuff done!  Do you struggle with procrastination?  What are your favorite ways to overcome procrastination?

Could you use some help scheduling your days?  Read this!

a daily routine instead of a daily schedule


Are you striving to teach your kids these life lessons early?  Read about another life lesson your kid needs to learn:

Sometimes in order to build confidence, we have to let kids struggle with the hard things in life. #parenting #dohardthings

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Procrastination. What Does It Really Cost Us?

We all procrastinate from time to time. Find out how we learned how much procrastination can cost. #homesteading #overcomeprocrastination #simpleliving

I think we all struggle with procrastination from time to time, but some people seem to be extra prone to it. I am one of those people. I think for me it’s actually a symptom of perfectionism. I will spend days, or even weeks, delaying the start of a project while I attempt to think of the perfect, most efficient way to accomplish the task. Basically, I have your classic case of “analysis paralysis”–over-thinking a situation so that a decision or action is never taken. However, we recently got a picture of what procrastination can cost.

Do you feel like you're always running out of time? Procrastination may be the culprit. Find out here what procrastination is really costing you.

We were cleaning out and re-arranging the chicken coop before winter hit, and I decided to remove one of the hanging waterers.  I took the waterer down from it’s strap and headed to the barn.  As I left, I made a mental note that I should come back and remove the strap.  But, life happened, something else caught my attention, and I put it off until another day.  

overcome procrastination

The next day Towhead came back from gathering the eggs and told me that “Snowy Owl” (one of our Americauna hens) was hanging up-side down in the coop!  She had apparently tried to roost on the loop at the end of the strap, but her body had slipped through.  She got caught under her wings, and, as she struggled to get free, she ended up tangled and up-side down.  

We quickly removed her, but she was extremely weak.  The poor girl could have been there, struggling, for several hours.  The only thing we knew to do was isolate her, get her started on some electrolytes, and pray for the best.  Within a few days, she was scratching and pecking around!  But, the tips of her wings still drug the ground.  Since she was otherwise normal, and chickens are social animals, we returned her to the flock.  She continued living her normal chicken life, and, after a month, her wings returned to normal.  In fact, this spring she surprised us with a brood of chicks!

We all procrastinate from time to time. Find out how we learned how much procrastination can cost. #homesteading #overcomeprocrastination #lessonsfromthefarm

This story had a happy ending, but it very easily could have ended tragically for Snowy Owl.  I wish it hadn’t happened, but we all make mistakes.  And, the best we can do after-the-fact is forgive ourselves and learn from the experience.  How many times do I walk by something that needs to be done?  How many times do I let distractions pull me away from a task that needs to be completed?  That day, my distraction almost cost us a chicken.  What if it had been one of my kids?

Do you struggle with procrastination?  One thing that has helped me overcome procrastination is to consider what it could cost.  Check out these other tips for overcoming procrastination!

Stressed out? Procrastination could be the cause. Check out these 5 tips to overcome procrastination! #stress #simplify #simpleliving

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photo credit: Weinlese via photopin (license)

Mom Sets The Tone For The Whole Family

This post brought to you by American Heart Association. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Our Life Out Here.

We’ve all heard the phrases “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” and “Happy wife, happy life.” For me, they have always brought up images of a spoiled, bratty woman who demanded clothes, a nicer car, and countless other material possessions, then made everyone’s life miserable if she didn’t get them. Of course, I’m not THAT woman. But, I think the meaning of those phrases goes a lot deeper.

As a mom, I know that I set the tone for my families health! That's why it's important that I take care of myself. Read these tips for making healthy changes for you and your family. #familyiswhy #lifeiswhy #ad

Through the years, I have noticed that, as a mom, I have an incredible power to set the tone for our entire family. In the morning, I am the one they depend on to get their day started off on the right foot. I’m the one they look to for a solution when things don’t go as planned. I’m the one that plans, buys, and prepares the food that nourishes their bodies. I’m the one that creates the atmosphere they come home to. I’m the one they want by their side during those special moments in their lives. I’m the one that shows them how to use their free time, whether it’s hours in front of the television or getting outside and taking a walk. I’m the one they come to when they are hurting.

That’s why it’s essential that I take care of myself. Not only so that I will be there when my family needs me, but because the habits that I model for my family will determine the habits they develop for life. Since February is American Heart Month, I am taking some time out of my busy days to improve our health by:

  • Adding more fresh fruits and veggies to our plates
  • Finding healthy, tasty alternatives to high-sodium foods and sugary sweetened drinks
  • Making sure that we are all getting plenty of physical activity through both outdoor work and play
  • Being proactive about listening to our bodies by monitoring our blood pressure, level of fatigue, and stamina

As moms, it’s important that we all take the time to evaluate the habits we are modeling for our children. Will you join me?

As a mom, I know that I set the tone for my families health! That's why it's important that I take care of myself. Read these tips for making healthy changes for you and your family. #familyiswhy #lifeiswhy #ad

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Consider planting a garden with your family. Growing your own food gives you control of what is in it, plus kids are more willing to eat something that they grew! It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, even a small container garden can produce a surprising amount of food.
  2. Commit to trying a new, healthy recipe each week. If you don’t know where to start, The American Heart Association’s Pinterest Page is a wonderful resource.
  3. Set aside a time each day to be active as a family. On busy days, it can be as simple as a walk around the block or a game of catch in the back yard. For days that you have more time, explore your local parks, hiking trails, and bicycle paths. Not only will you become healthier, but the time together makes for great family bonding.

I know that sometimes change can be hard, but you are worth it. Your family is worth it. Life Is Why!

Everyone has a reason to live a healthier, longer life. What’s yours?

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I Don’t MAKE My Kids Share. Here’s Why.

Here's why I don't make my kids share and what I do instead. #parenting

Imagine one of your best friends comes over to share a late lunch. You greet her enthusiastically at the door and offer her a seat in the dining room as you scoop your chicken salad into a pretty bowl. You return, bowl in hand, and join her at the table you’ve adorned with a pretty tablecloth, tea cups, sweet tea, and cute little baguettes.  You can already feel yourself relaxing as you settle into kid-free, adult conversation.  

We don't make our kids share, but we still want to teach them generosity. Read how. #parenting #momhacks

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and you pour your heart out as she listens intently.  Yes, this is exactly what you’ve been needing.  You finish off your meal with coffee and homemade zucchini bread, then she slips away as you carry the plates to the kitchen.  You assume she went down the hall to the bathroom.  However, you’ve finished the dishes, put the leftovers away, and tidied the dining room, and she still hasn’t returned.  You wander down the hall to check on her.

What you find stops you in your tracks!  There, in the middle of your bedroom, stands your best friend, adorned in your brand new dress.  She’s accessorized her new outfit with your favorite red heels and small clutch from your closet.  As she gazes in the mirror, she twirls the pearls that your husband bought you for your tenth anniversary around her fingers.  As you approach, you wonder if that is the lipstick you got at the mall last weekend.  

You struggle with the words to express your feelings.  After all, she is your one of your best friends.  You’ve shared not only clothes, but your heart and soul with her.  In fact, you may have shared the things she was now wearing if she had only asked.  On the other hand, you remember how your husband emptied out his boat savings account to buy you those pearls.  There are some things that you just want to have all to yourself.  You remind yourself that people are more important than things.  But, right now you feel hurt, betrayed, and angry.  

She turns to you and announces that she’s going to take your car out for a spin.  She’s always wanted to drive it.  Suddenly, you’ve had more than you can take…

Obviously, if this situation really happened, we would know that your friend has some major boundary issues.  However, have you ever considered that we often put our kids in this situation.  We invite other kids into our homes and then direct them to our kid’s rooms to play.  Inevitably, our kid comes out crying because their latest LEGO creation has been destroyed or their guests won’t return their favorite doll.  

I used to pull my kid aside and remind them that they have to share.  However, forced sharing is not sharing at all!  I want to teach my kids generosity, not simply to comply to the demands of another.  It is important that we teach our kids boundaries.  In order to respect the boundaries of others, their boundaries must be respected also.  So, now we have a different approach.

Before friends come over, I remind my kids that other kids are coming over, and they will want to play with toys, too.  I help them put away anything that is special to them that they don’t want to share.  They know that if they take those items out while company is over, all bets are off.  I also make sure that there are plenty of shared toys to go around.  This is a little more challenging now that we live in a smaller house but was super easy when we had play room.  All special toys were locked in their rooms and all shared toys were in the play room.

This has saved so many tears at our house!  If something does get broken, it’s not a favorite toy.  And, I’ve been so impressed with how my kids have freely shared when they are allowed to take ownership of the situation beforehand.  I hope it can help you, too!

Do you make your kids share?  Or, do you have allow them to set aside special or new toys?

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But What About The Kids? What My Kids Taught Me About Contentment.

So many times, we worry about giving our kids THINGS. Find out how my kids...yet again... taught me what was really important! #parenting #minimalism #simpleliving

Anytime we make life decisions, our kids and how they will be affected is a big consideration–as it should be. Our great escape to “the middle of nowhere” was no exception. We knew that in the long run, moving to the country would give our kids amazing childhood memories and help them learn responsibility sooner. However, from our perspective they had a much more comfortable life in our city house. They had their rooms, a playroom, the oversized backyard jungle gym, their friends, their video games, a neighborhood pool, frequent trips to restaurants and other fun kid places, and way too many toys. Even though we tried to enjoy the simple things in life, we were the typical overindulged American family. And, honestly, we still are. But, we’re getting better…

As parents, we worry about giving our kids the latest and greatest of everything. But, our kids have a completely different perspective! Learn what my kids taught me about contentment. #parenting #minimalism #simpleliving

Our move into the garage-house required them to share sleeping areas. Many of their toys have been put into storage. There is no playroom. We often trip over each other. We wait for our turn in the one bathtub, and taking a long, hot shower is a treat. We limit our trips to restaurants and other entertainment. There is no jungle gym. Seeing friends, or anyone for that matter, requires planning.


Like any momma, I worried that they would have trouble with the adjustment and miss the things they previously had. I was concerned that going from spending their days in decorated rooms and landscaped yards to a living space designed with functionality in mind would be too much. I fretted about them feeling isolated or bored, especially since we were ditching video games and most t.v.  I wondered if they would grow up deprived because we wouldn’t have time for all of those cool crafts in my “For The Kids” folder on Pinterest.

Despite any misgivings, inside we knew that this would be the best move for our family. I figured that we would survive our temporary arrangements–sacrificing now so that we could have so much more later. But, how well do kids grasp the concept of delayed gratification? A month is forever in a young child’s mind. Can we help them keep their eye on the prize for months… Or even years? Those were the things running through my head–yet again–on that fateful day when we walked away from our old home for the last time, then again as I assembled our beds and lined them up along our South wall in the garage-house.

But, the next morning, as the sun roused me from my semi-conscious state, I awoke to giggles… Then all out laughing. I looked over at my oldest child, who was stretched across his bed, gazing across the prairie to the adjoining ranch and asked what was so funny. “Cows.” he responded, “There are cows out there.” And, for millionth time in my kids’ short lives, they taught me something… PERSPECTIVE.

Happiness has little to do with our circumstances, and everything to do with us. <Tweet that!


We know this intellectually, but our kids live it. Because, where I see a tight living space, they see togetherness. Where I see land that needs landscaping, they see hours in the dirt–or mud–with their favorite dump trucks. Where I see no video games, they see a life-sized Angry Bird game made from a leftover lumber tower, pvc pipe and bungie cord slingshot, and $1 grocery store balls. Where I see the loss of a neighborhood pool, the see a water trough and a garden hose. Where I see the loss of their own rooms, they see the opportunity to chat and giggle late into the night. Where I see no jungle gym, they see a great climbing tree with the perfect branch for a tire swing. Where I see fewer trips to the restaurant, they see more time to play. Where I see less time with friends, they see each other…

Have your kids surprised you with their reaction to a major life change?  When was the last time you took slowed down and enjoyed life through your kids’ eyes?

My kids have taught me so much.  Here’s what I learned the day I found them making Bucket Lists and why I think every kids needs one.

goal setting for kids

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Let Them Struggle

Struggling to achieve a goal or working toward a purpose builds important character traits. Sometimes it's important to let our kids struggle.

chicken feed haulersI watched from across the field as my 11-year-old tried to wrestle the 50 pound bag of chicken feed out of the wagon and into the chicken house.  The mom in me wanted to run over and help him.  After all, I hate to see him struggle and it would only take me a minute to lift the bag and dump it into our automatic feeder.  But, I knew that it would be best to give him a chance to figure it out–to do the hard thing.  

A little while later, he came to me and told me that he had figured out an easier way to fill the chicken feeder.  He sat the bag on the ground, opened it, then scooped out bucket loads of feed and dumped them into the feeder until the bag was light enough for him to handle.  Then, he simply poured the remaining feed into the feeder.  He has successfully repeated this process weekly for the last year.

This experience is one of many that has taught me to allow my kids to struggle.  Because, as he told me how he overcame that challenge, I saw a change in his countenance–a growing confidence in his abilities.  With each success, he holds his head a little higher and walks a little taller.  He trusts his problem solving skills more.  He grows in his knowledge of who he is and what he is capable of.

Sometimes in order to build confidence, we have to let kids struggle with the hard things in life. #parenting #dohardthings  Now, I don’t purposefully assign my kids jobs just for the sake of making them struggle, but, I do give them tasks that are at the top of their abilities.  And, I always make sure that they understand how their work benefits our family, our homestead, others, and themselves.  Loading the washing machine gives our family clean clothes to wear.  Planting trees will give us shade and fruit in a few years.  Helping build a fence at church keeps younger kids safely away from the parking lot when they play outside.  Feeding and watering our chickens keeps them alive, healthy, and laying eggs (which I allow the kids to sell for spending money).  Because, work that has purpose is fulfilling.  Busywork is drudgery. 

tilling mason dadStruggling towards a goal gives us the opportunity to develop intellectually and to build important character traits such as independence, confidence, perseverance, and problem solving skills.  So, when we don’t rescue our kids at the slightest hint of difficulty, we give the the gift of character traits that will benefit them throughout their lives.  We teach them that failure isn’t final or even a bad thing, but simply an opportunity to try a different approach.  We help them see struggle not as weakness, but an opportunity for growth.  And, most of all, we help them take another step toward becoming a successful adult.

Here’s how I learned to let go of perfectionism and let my kids “help”.

kid chores

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As parents, we worry about giving our kids the latest and greatest of everything. But, our kids have a completely different perspective! Learn what my kids taught me about contentment. #parenting #minimalism #simpleliving

Do Your Kids Need A Bucket List?

Find out how having a bucket list can help your kids achieve great things in adulthood! #bucketlist

One of the most sobering things about being a parent is the realization of how much our kids imitate us. We’ve all had that proud moment when we secretly witness our older child comfort a younger sibling in the same way they’ve seen us do it.  We’ve also hung our heads in shame as we saw a 35 pound version of ourselves yell at that same sibling for a perceived wrong.

I came to that realization again several months ago when I started my bucket list.  I walked into the living room to find my two oldest boys working diligently at something.  When I asked what they were doing, they informed me that they were writing their bucket lists.

bucket list

Because they had seen me prioritize making a bucket list and checking items off of it, my boys, who hate to write, deemed it important also.  But, the coolest thing about their bucket lists was seeing how they dream with reckless abandon.

Fire the cannon on a tank? Sure.
Buy a BMW? Why not.
Publish a book? No problem.
Skydive with a LEGO MINIFIGURE? I’ve got this.

The thing about kids is they usually don’t have the life experience to know that something is dangerous, extremely hard, or even impossible.  They don’t consider that their dream job doesn’t pay well (or at all), or the fact that their chances of making it as a rock star or into the NFL are slim to none.

As adults, we know this.  So, we pat them on the head, give them a “that’s nice, honey”, and exchange a knowing glance with any other adults within earshot.  We know that they’ll learn someday.  Someday they’ll have a house with a mortgage, student loans, babies screaming, and a leaky hot water tank.  Then, they’ll trade in that dream job for whatever pays the bills and spend all of that skydiving time and money on their kids’ little league games.

But, what if we expected more for our kids?  What if, instead of placating them, we helped them make a plan for achieving their goals?  Now, I’m not saying you can coach your 5’2″, 100 pound 18-year-old into the NFL.  But, there are things on their list that you CAN help them achieve.  Writing a book is a big undertaking, but it’s doable.  Give them the time and space to write, help them with brainstorming and editing, research self-publishing along with them, and use your contacts to find someone that has published a book and would be willing to encourage them along the way.

If you can help them achieve a big goal now, before life beats them up a little, they will learn that it’s okay to dream big because with perseverance, a little ingenuity, and a lot of hard work, they can accomplish great things.

And, don’t worry.  The NFL thing will work itself out.

goal setting for kids

photo credit: Imagining via photopin (license)

Do you or your kids have a bucket list?  If not, I recommend checking out the Live Your List show.  It’s family friendly, entertaining and inspirational.  Plus, it’ll get you started on your bucket list.  🙂

Need some motivation to check some items off of your list?  Check out this post!
photo credit: Weinlese via photopin (license)

photo credit: Weinlese via photopin (license)