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June 29, 2012

Let’s Get Organized for the Weekend!

 Hello friends! Happy Friday to you! I hope you’ve had a great week. It’s been a wild one around here. We are back from Michigan safe and sound, and digging back in to life at home. Isn’t it funny how being away can throw you out of whack—even if you’re only gone for a little while? Because of that, for me this weekend will be about getting back on track. Here’s what’s on my fun + done lists for the weekend.


  • Bootcamp.
  • Visit with my niece and nephews.



  • Catch up on laundry.
  • Clean the house.
  • Do some simplify 101 stuff.


I just scanned my master project list…and nothing is grabbing my interest as “the project” to work on this weekend. It’s too hot to paint the chairs, and really, I think it’s too hot to do much of anything (except scrapbook. ;) ) So…I’m just going to put the must-dos on my lists this weekend, and let inspiration be my guide from there.


What’s on your fun + done list this weekend? I hope you have a great one. As always, thanks for joining me for Finish It Friday!


P.S. Be sure to enter our Freebie Friday giveaway this weekend! 

Freebie Friday: Project Life Giveaway!

I don’t know about you, but I think summer is a perfect time to do a little scrapbooking. For one thing, it’s a great indoor activity for when the heat outside is too much to take. (Like yesterday, for example, hello 107 degrees! Let’s just stay inside and play with photos and paper, right?)


What's more, though, is that summer is also about making memories and keeping things simple, which is why I L-O-V-E today’s Freebie Friday:  Project Life from Becky Higgins! (Can I hear a big woohoo on that one?) Project Life is about making it easy and fun to stay inside and do some scrapbooking! So if the temperature outside isn’t reason enough—Project Life is. Here's a bit about Project Life and what's up for grabs with today's giveaway:


Project Life simplifies the process of scrapboking with a back-to-basics approach - focusing on pictures, stories, and the "stuff" of life. This simple format requires no skill - only your pictures and a pen. Our mission is to inspire you to document your life - no matter what your style or life situation. Putting pictures + stories together in Project Life makes us more aware of our blessings and encourages us to cultivate a good life.

Project Life Giveaway Postcard

Good stuff, right? So if you aren’t a scrapbooker currently, or you’re a scrapbooker who is looking for simplified approach to memory keeping, Project Life is for you. Which is why I’m thrilled to offer this Freebie Friday giveaway. Becky has offered my readers a chance to win one of her Project Life Binders, the coordinating Core Kit, and a Big Pack of Design A Photo Pocket Pages! The winner will be able to choose any one of the 5 different Project Life editions that they are currently having reprinted. However, due to Project Life shipping requirements, the winner needs to be a U.S. resident.


How to Enter: In the interest of simplifying things, I am using rafflecopter for this giveaway. I think this is super fun, and an easy way for you to enter up to 5 times! The giveaway ends at 12:01 a.m. on 07/02/2012.


I hope you are having a wonderful time making and keeping your memories this summer. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

*** Comments are now closed and the winner has been contacted. Congratulations, Jessica G! Thanks to everyone who entered! ***

June 26, 2012

Unicorns + Rainbows x Pinterest = Organized Birthday Party Fun!

Last weekend we celebrated my daughter Faith’s 7th birthday. (Wow, 7? I just can’t believe it!) It was a really fun party, but I keep giggling over it. To sum it up, I have to say, “This party was brought to you by Pinterest.” LOLOL


Rainbow birthday cupcakes - simplify 101 (2) copy

I started with Aby’s birthday party printable, which has been awesome. I printed these babies out, clipped them on my clipboard, and enjoyed a portable project management system for the whole shindig. Fabulous! (Thank you again for such a great tool, Aby!)


The planning helped a lot, especially since the theme was awfully hard. Leave it to my daughter to come up with a theme that is so unpopular that there is nothing store-bought to be found. And, leave it to me to say yes to her request without ever considering this. Ugh! Unicorns are apparently way out of vogue right now, in case you were wondering. ;-) And so, necessity is the mother of pinning!


Faith wanted a gymnastics party at our local YMCA. I don’t know how gymnastics ties in with unicorns, but it seemed to make perfect sense to her. Now, rainbows and unicorns? Well, they go together like cake and ice cream, and rainbows are definitely something I was able to chase. Whoa, there are a whole lot of cool rainbow crafts and ideas out there! I knew I could work that theme to no end, but I still wanted to be sure to tie in the unicorns, too, since that was truly what Faith was after.


Pinspired by this adorable leotard, I decided to make one myself using one of Faith’s existing leotards. Though not as gorgeous as the etsy version, mine turned out cute and Faith was ecstatic when I surprised her with it.


Rainbow birthday leaotard - simplify 101


After searching in vain at local stores for invitations, I made my own. It turned out easier than I had expected because I found the perfect template in Microsoft Publisher. (How lucky am I, because finding a free template for exactly what I need never happens!) It even incorporates unicorns AND rainbows. Bonus!


I also found colorful, twisted suckers at the dollar store that look exactly like unicorn horns. I decided to work those into the party favors. Once I had three ways of pulling unicorns in with the rainbows, I felt it would be enough. I had hoped to find a giant unicorn mylar balloon or pin the horn on the unicorn, but hey… isn’t part of the mystique of unicorns that they are so rarely seen?


Onto the rainbows… I picked up a rainbow of paper placemats and balloons at the party supply store, along with a mylar rainbow. I found giant (way too loud) blow-outs and brightly colored party hats at the dollar store. I wasn’t sure it was enough, but it definitely livened up the little gray party room.


Rainbow birthday party - simplify 101

For the menu, I prepared a plate of rainbow fruits and a plate of rainbow veggies. I picked up multi-colored tortilla chips and served them with a pot of gold (cheese dip). I used white bread and various colors of jelly to make rainbow finger sandwiches. The rainbow-colored Goldfish that the kids dubbed “magical fish” were in high demand.


What I thought turned out the coolest were the drinks and cupcakes, and honestly, isn’t that the main attraction for any birthday party?  I froze a rainbow of fruit juices beforehand. Colored ice cubes in clear plastic cups + Sprite = rainbow punch! Yummy and beautiful.


Rainbow birthday punch - simplify 101

For cake, I was pinspired by these ice cream cupcakes. But because I can’t seem to ever follow a recipe exactly, I lightened up the cake by using greek yogurt in place of eggs and oil, and topped it all off with whipped cream frosting using sugar-free Jello and fat-free milk.  I figured I could offset the decadence a bit without compromising flavor, and I was right. Oh. My. Goodness. The only thing better than how delish these were was how simple it was to serve up the cake AND the ice cream. I think variations on this will be my go-to for every single birthday party from here on out!


Rainbow birthday cupcake - simplify 101

Faith and her friends had a wonderful time, so I am marking this one down as a total success. This is the first event that I have really used Pinterest to the fullest, and what a great tool it was. So many of my pins are really fun “someday” sort of ideas, so it was refreshing to pin things with a decent chance of me actually doing them. (And then doing them for real. Yay!)


Does anyone else out there get a bit overwhelmed by their pinboards sometimes? I really do love Pinterest, obviously, but Aby and I have talked quite a bit about how ideas can add to our mental clutter, too. Maybe we don’t have to step over the piles of ideas like we would with magazines and books, but it can still cause a sense of overwhelm. With this in mind, I am trying to be more judicious in what I pin, trying to keep my pinboards more organized, and celebrating big time when I use a pinboard to its fullest.


Have you used Pinterest to help you with an event or occasion? Tell us in the comments, and we’d love to see your board!


Happy Organizing!

Jens signature black

June 22, 2012

Let’s Get Organized for the Weekend with Finish It Friday

Happy Friday my friends! I hope you had a fantastic week. It’s time again already to get organized for the weekend and share our Fun + Done lists. What’s on tap for you this weekend? Here’s what’s up for me:


  • Run in The Race for a Cure. I’m super excited about doing this with Kailea. But I'm afraid I'm going to be challenged to keep up with her! She started cross country a couple of weeks ago...and let's just say she's clocked way more miles in the last two weeks than me. So wish me luck! :)


  • Laundry.
  • Clean. Very light and minimal cleaning.
  • Pack. Kailea and I are headed to Michigan for a couple of days next week. (We leave on Sunday.) The trip is kind of spontaneous, so there’s lots to do to get ready, including packing and getting other things settled (paperwork, bills paid, etc.) I’ll be relying heavily on my travel checklist!
  • Do a Target run.
  • Register for one more summer camp.

I'm keeping the list pretty light this weekend, since I really will only have one weekend day...and the other one will be spent traveling! Also, since I’m going to be gone on Monday, I’m not going to do a separate post for the Monday check in, but instead I’ll ask you to post your progress reports in the comments of this post. K? I think based on your comments the other way works better, so I’ll move in that direction in upcoming weeks. (But this week I need to keep it simple.) Sound like a plan?


Alright…now it’s your turn. What’s on your list this weekend? Hope you have a great one!

P.S. Just a quick reminder that now through Monday you can sample the entire first lesson of Organize Your Paper Clutter on us! Go here for the details, but hurry—sample access ends at 9 PM Central Monday, June 25.

June 20, 2012

Summer Fun: Everything Tastes Better When It's Free

One of the items on our bucket list this summer is Annie's Frozen Custard. Well guess what we saw when we were driving home from the haircut place today...?



So exciting, right? So we took a fun little work break this afternoon for some yummy, delicious white chocolate frozen custard. Yum! Perfect for a hot summer day, made all the tastier because it was free. And it's a check mark on the summer bucket list — making it even sweeter still. Woohoo! It's the little things in life, isn't it? 


How are you doing on your summer bucket list?  Checking things off? Enjoying yourself in the process? I'd love to hear your updates!

I hope you are having a terrific first "official" day of summer!


P.S. Speaking of free...we're offering a free sample of Lesson 1 of Organize Your Paper Clutter through Monday, June 25, 2012 at 9:00PM and you're invited to join the fun. Go here for all the details. :)

June 15, 2012

Anyone else missing Finish It Friday?

I am. I feel like my getting things done mojo needs the kind of boost that only Finish It Friday can give me. Do you feel that way, too?


If you’re up for participating in Finish It Friday, or you’re glad to see it back (because you play along at home or enjoy reading the posts) please post in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts…and then I’ll decide if I should bring it back for good (or until another sports season comes along and hijacks my weekends.) ;)


Alright…here is my list...

Checklist-copyright-simplify101More Fun:

  • Boot camp. (This is still going strong, I’m happy to say.) Check! 
  • Block party. Check!
  • Father’s Day get together. Check!
  • Dinner out. Check!
  • Pick up veggies at Farmer’s Market. Check!

More Done:

  • Pick up Komen Race t-shirts. Check!
  • Pick paint for chairs. I got some new (old) chairs for my kitchen eating area that I want to paint a happy shade of green or blue. I have some swatches and just need to make the big decision (or at least get a sample bottle.) Nope.
  • Decide how to paint chairs. I’m deciding between getting a sprayer or using a foam roller brush. Any advice? Check! I decided to spray paint them and have asked to borrow a spray painter.  
  • Go to Michael's and look at candle making stuff. (I’m guessing they have this? New crafting territory for me. Again…if you know about such things, please share.) Check! I did this...and made a whole bunch of candles. What a fun project! I was needing a project I could start and finish this weekend...and this was perfect. More on this soon. :)
  • Laundry. Check!
  • Clean house. Check! (Forgot to put this on my list but *needed* to share the victory.)


Alright…that’s good for diving back into the Finish It Friday waters. Who wants to jump in with me? If you're in, simply post your to-do list in the comments and then come back here and tell us how you did on Monday morning. I'm planning to update this post with my completion status on Monday morning (instead of making a new check-in post.) So you can post how you did in the comments of this post as well. Sound like a plan? 

Have a great weekend! 


June 13, 2012

Get Organized for Summer: Ideas for Simple Summer Meals



Today’s Get Organized for Summer question is from Jessica, who asked: “With summer, comes cooking 3 meals at home. What are some meal prep / fast snacks and meals for summer on the go that we could have on hand?”


I think this is such a fun question. I love cooking, especially during the summer. Time spent in my kitchen is time when I can start—and finish—a project in one span of time. So many of my other projects take weeks and even months and even years to complete, so cooking gives me a nearly immediate sense of gratification. Plus, it can also be family time if one of my kids wants to help me cook or just sit at the counter stools to have a chat while I cook. Either way, it’s a nice relaxing time. Below are some of our favorite summer dinners. But before we get to that, here are a few quick thoughts on breakfast and lunch.


Breakfast + Lunch

We keep breakfast quite simple year round but especially during the summer with cereal, yogurt + granola + berries, oatmeal, or toast with peanut butter being our go-to breakfast items. Some mornings Jay will make us pancakes, waffles or eggs, but for the most part our summer routine has been to keep it much simpler, with things the kids can make on their own. We keep lunch super simple, too, mostly calling on the ideas below plus PBJs, mac n’ cheese, or frozen pizzas (cooked on the grill when it gets too hot to turn on the oven.)


Pasta Salad

One of my favorite summer dishes is pasta salad. It’s quick to make, just boil some noodles and while they cook chop your veggies, cheese and / or meat. I like to make a big batch of pasta salad and have it for dinner one night, and then eat the leftovers for lunch throughout the rest of the week. Pasta salad is also a great make-ahead food that’s easy to take on picnics or other summer outings.




Panini + Other Sandwiches

I was recently given a Panini maker by a client. What a wonderful gift this has been! Make your own Panini night is a new favorite meal at the Garvey house this summer. It’s quick and simple, and since everyone gets to choose what is going on their personal sandwich, no one complains about dinner. Plus, dinner prep takes virtually no time—slice a few fresh veggies like tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, or whatever you have on hand; wash up some basil or other fresh herbs; and pull out cheeses, lunch meats, bread, and condiments, and you’re done. It’s fun to see how everyone starts with the same basic ingredients, but puts together their own unique creation. This week I made a great one with sauteed spinach, havarti cheese, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. Yum!


We serve our paninis with simple sides like coleslaw, chips, and fresh fruit. And when we're feeling really fancy, we serve them on paper towels. ;)



Cold sandwiches are a terrific option for nights when you have summer outings. Use the same basic idea as above—simply pull things out of the fridge and let your family create their own sandwiches to go.


Make Your Own Grilled Pita Pizzas

For the last few summers, one of my favorite dinners is pita pizzas. Again, we turn this into a do-it-yourself night, which means, a bit more family fun time in the kitchen, less work for mom, and happy kids who get to top their pizza with whatever sounds good to them. Some of our favorite toppings include olives, artichoke hearts, fresh parmesan cheese, fresh mozzarella, basil, oregano, onion, green peppers, mushrooms or pesto.



Salads / DIY Salad Bar

Salad for dinner is another summertime favorite around here. Consider making your own salad bar by storing toppings like grape tomatoes (easy to wash, no cutting needed), walnuts, sunflower seeds, onions, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, olives, radishes, feta, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, canned beans, canned corn, frozen peas, and pepperoni in plastic containers on a tray in your refrigerator. Wash up some lettuce and pull out the tray for a simple, do-it-yourself dinner. For sides on salad night, we like French bread or pitas with hummus.



At least once a weekend we have smoothies for lunch. Our favorite is made with vanilla yogurt, strawberries, blueberries and bananas, with whipped cream on top. Cheese and crackers add just enough extra calories to hold us over until dinner.


Grill Night

Before we stopped eating red meat, pork and chicken, our summer dinners revolved around the grill—burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and pork tenderloin with simple sides like salad, coleslaw, chips, or grilled veggies (onions, zucchini and oregano is a great combination, by the way.) Now, we’re always looking for new things to grill. Some of our new favorites include Boca burgers, salmon, shrimp kabobs, and of course veggies. I’m still looking for a good grilled portabella mushroom recipe, so if you know of any good ones, please feel free to share. :)


Overall, our theme for summer eating is to keep it fresh, simple and light, with a focus on being together as a family. Many of these dishes can be pulled together in a snap—like the paninis, pizza, and salads—by cutting up fresh veggies and storing them in sealed containers in the fridge. We also always have on hand fruit, crackers, cheese, granola bars and nuts for quick and healthy snacks, at home or on the go. And, though this isn’t particularly quick, it really wouldn’t be summer without homemade ice cream.


What are your favorite summer time dishes and meals? Do you have any recipes to share? We'd love to hear from you! (By the way, here’s a link to my pinterest recipe collection if you’d like even more ideas for new stuff to eat this summer. Enjoy!)


Happy eating!


June 08, 2012

Organize Your Recipes for Homemade Cleaners with this Free Printable

When my oldest daughter Joy was born, that’s when it started for me. You know how babies put their mouths on everything? I remember cleaning a toy that she promptly put in her mouth and feeling really freaked out. Did I rinse it well enough, or was she now chewing on bacteria-killing cleaning agents? Yuck, I felt like she might be better off just chewing on the germs!




That’s when I really got interested in homemade cleaners. Well, that and the fact that I stopped working after Joy came along, which meant we had just cut our household income in half! Being frugal while also making something non-toxic to my family and friendly to the earth? Yes, please!


My natural cleaner repertoire began with a simple multi-purpose spray of 1/3 parts vinegar + 2/3 parts water + a few drops of essential oil, and that is still my go-to cleaner. I’ve branched out over the years to find other great homemade recipes for cleaning just about everything, and thanks to Pinterest, it’s gotten super easy to find new ones!


Keeping new recipe ideas on a pinboard is a great way to organize them. But, I find that when I need to mix up a batch of my favorite cleaners, I have a bit of a mess on my hands. I have various print-outs from blogs, along with a few hand-written notes on scraps of paper. Aby came up with the idea for this great printable, which I just love. How easy is it to jot down the few ingredients and instructions for these cleaners? And now, my cleaning recipes will be together in my Command Central Binder. (Plus, they will look cute! I love that!)

  Homemade cleaner recipes

So I've solved one problem. But putting my cleaner recipes together has reminded me of my struggles to find recipes for laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent. I have tried three different variations of laundry detergent but haven’t found the magic combination. It’s especially frustrating because I’ve got friends who just loved those recipes. I think I may have a tall order when it comes to laundry, though. We have seriously hard water. We are very active (a polite way to say there are super sweaty and stinky clothes in the laundry bin). Plus, my daughter Faith is a dirt and stain magnet. Oh, and I really dislike having to hunt through dirty clothes for spots to pre-treat. So I'm looking for a detergent that will do the dirty work for me!


As far as dishwasher detergent, total no-go there. I've only tried one recipe, and I felt like the dishes may have gotten cleaner if I’d just rinsed them off with a hose! And, I know that Aby tried a recipe for this that turned into the consistency of concrete. Not good!


So we are on the hunt for new cleaning recipes. Do you have a terrific recipe for dishwasher or laundry detergent you could recommend to me? Would you be kind enough to leave it or link to it in the comments below? Or if it’s something you’ve pinned on Pinterest, recommend it to me there. Thanks so much for your ideas!


Happy Cleaning & Organizing!

Jens signature black

June 06, 2012

7 Craft Room Organizing Ideas from My Creative Space

Last month I finished an organizing overhaul of my creative space (which also happens to be my simplify 101 office.) Want to take a little peak? Here are some photos of my space, along with 7 ideas for organizing your own craft room, scrapbook space, or home office. Hope you enjoy!


Idea #1: Invest in a functional work desk. It just occurred to me that I spend more time sitting at my desk than I do lying in my bed! My desk (and desk chair) are the two pieces of furniture I use most…in my entire home! What a crazy realization. How about you? Does this ring true for you, too? If so then it really makes sense to invest in a desk that is comfortable and functional for you. If you are comfortable in the place where you work—or create—you’ll be more productive.



The thing I love most about this desk is that it is l-shaped. It allows me to keep often used items organized on my desk top, without getting in my way. There’s plenty of room for my computer, keyboard, mouse and phone, but still plenty of space to spread out and work on paper-based projects. Project files and client files are easy to keep organized in the file cabinet drawers, which are accessible from my desk chair. (No need to move, means it’s easy to take out a file and put it away when I’m done.) 


To determine what type of desk would be most functional for you, think back to your favorite work area. This could be an office at a former or current job, or maybe the space you studied at in college. Once you have that space in mind, think about what made it work. What type of desk did you sit at? How accessible were the storage solutions? What type of storage solutions did you use? Then, translate these ideas into your current work area.


Idea #2: Start with a blank slate. As part of my office organizing project, I also emptied and completely reorganized the closet in my office. While emptying a space while organizing does create a bigger midstream mess…  



…this approach will give you the best end result. Here’s why. When you empty your space, you let go of all preconceived notions about what belongs where. You create a blank slate which means you can completely reinvent your space and organize it so that it suits your current priorities. Most important, you become much more selective about what you bring back into your space. It is actually easier to let go of clutter—stuff you no longer use, need or love—when you empty your space while organizing.

Idea #3: Use creative storage solutions. Have fun selecting storage for your creative space. Look for ways to repurpose everyday items in your home for use in your craft room. Or refresh plain or dated storage pieces using decoupage or paint. You’ll save a few dollars, and add tons of personality and style to your space. (Check out this article for more ways to get creative with storage.)



Idea #4: Maximize your storage space by going vertical. If your craft space is short on storage, do a quick visual check. Where do you have open vertical space that you could put to use? Consider adding bookcases or ladder shelving units to free floor space or add wall mounted shelves to open wall space.


Idea #5: Consider a standing work area. When I originally set up and organized my creative space / office several years ago, I was intrigued by the idea of a standing work area for scrapbooking. I didn’t think I would enjoy standing up to scrapbook…but I sure did surprise myself! Standing up to scrapbook makes it easier to grab tools and supplies stored close by but not at your actual work area. I also love using this area for sorting and organizing paperwork for business projects. Standing up to create or sort paper energizes me…and keeps my blood (and creative juices) flowing. It’s also nice to have a secondary work area for myself (so I can keep my business desk clear of creative projects) and for visitors such as my kids when they’re working on school projects. If your space and budget allows a standing work area in your craft room, give it serious consideration. You just might surprise yourself at how much you like it.



Idea #6: Have fun with labeling. Adding labels to your space will help you keep things organized going forward because you’ll remember what belongs where. Function aside labels are a terrific way to make your space even more fun and inspiring. Create labels use using your favorite craft supplies. For example, these tags were made by punching circles out of scrapbook paper, and gluing them to a plain, white metal rimmed tag. Simple and fun!



Idea #7: Infuse your space with personal touches. When all is said and done, our favorite spaces in our homes are ones that feel like us and look like us. They’re filled with items we love and items that inspire us. Look for every opportunity to infuse your craft room with personal touches via artwork, meaningful storage solutions, and decorative items. When you love how your space looks, you’ll want to spend time there, and even more important—you’ll be more motivated to keep it organized going forward.



Happy organizing!


P.S. If you’d like more ideas like these and a step-by-step system for organizing your craft room, scrapbook space or creative studio, my online workshop Organize Your Creative Space begins tomorrow, June 7, 2012. Consider yourself invited to join the creative organizing fun.

Get Organized for Summer: Balancing Kids + Work


I have just a couple more posts left to go in our Get Organized for Summer Series. I hope you have been enjoying reading along. :) Today's questions are related to balancing kids and work during the summer. 


Ideas for when someone else is watching your kids over the summer

Questionmark_copyright_simplify101This first question was left in the comments in the summer guilt post. Jeanette asked “Aby could you also respond to Jennifer’s question about planning activities for her mother in law and the kids.”


I’d be happy to provide some thoughts. Here’s what I would do if my mother-in-law was watching my kids for the summer. First, I would schedule a time to chat with my mother-in-law about our mutual goals and ideas for the summer. I’d begin the conversation by asking what her goals or hopes are for the summer. And then I’d share some thoughts on how I’d like my kids to spend their time over the summer. For example, I might say that I’d like them to have plenty of opportunities to be outside, or read, or do creative projects, and I’d like to limit how much time the spend indoors watching T.V. or playing video games. Once I felt like we were in general agreement on our overall goals for the kids’ summer, I’d start brainstorming more specific ideas using the alphabetized bucket list (or other favorite bucket lists) as a springboard. I'd get her ideas on what she thought would be fun stuff to do with the kids with both of us keeping in mind our goals for the summer. I’d let her take the lead. Which activities is she in-law is naturally interested in? What sounds like fun? Together, we’d put together our own summer fun idea list. And then, I’d let her take it from there.


Overbooked already…

Questionmark_copyright_simplify101This next question is from Holly who asked:  I have a son with disabilities and due to him getting into trouble for truancy issues; I have had to register him for ALL KINDS of different programs for the summer. As I completed his "calendar" that helps him see what is coming, I realized "When am I going to find time for me to work on my education?" I am an online student and this summer feels so packed jam full of things for my child; short of NEVER SLEEPING; I don't know how to get everything done. HELP PLEASE!! Thanks so much for ANY and ALL advice. :)


Oh, I feel for you Holly! There’s nothing quite like realizing that you have more to-do than can comfortably fit on your calendar! Here are some ideas for you. First, I’d resist the temptation to add anything else to your calendar, until you have a feel for what you can fit in around all the scheduled activities. When you find yourself managing what is there already, then consider adding some more things into the mix. Second, can anyone help you transport your son to and from his various activities? Is there someone he could carpool with or do you have a friend, parent or neighbor who could help you out so you have more time to focus on your studies? If not, then I’d look for ways to make your studies as mobile as possible. Investing in a laptop with mobile broadband capabilities would allow you to study anywhere, while your son is doing his activities.


Keeping a 7 year old entertained while working at home during the summer

Questionmark_copyright_simplify101Angela asked: I work from home and will have a 7 year old who will be with me at home a lot this summer. He says he just wants to play Legos all summer...I'm guessing the fun of that will wear off eventually so I'd love ideas for entertainment while I work ...and oh yeah ... He hates arts and crafts. :(


Thanks for your question Angela. Here are some ideas:


1.  Explore ways to rearrange your work schedule. For example, if your spouse works during the day, maybe he would be willing to watch your son for a few hours in the evenings so you could work while he does things with your son. Or maybe you could start your work day earlier, and get some of your work done while your son is still sleeping.


2.  Swap play dates with friends. Ask your child's friend’s moms if they’d be interested in doing some play-date swapping, where you have one of your son’s friends over for a play date in exchange for a play date at the friend's home. Schedule play dates at your home on your days off and schedule the away play dates during your work hours.


3. Look into day camps. When my kids were younger these were a life saver for both of us. It gave me time to work uninterrupted and gave them time to play with friends and do activities they wouldn’t have been able to do at home. They were well worth the investment. 


Finally, here are some ideas for activities your child can do on his own to stay entertained while you’re working:


  • Books. Read books or maybe even write a book a book or two.
  • Make maps…of his bedroom, your home, your town, or even an imaginary city. 
  • Plan an imaginary trip. My son used to do this for hours during the summer when he was younger. He would research travel destinations on the internet and then put together a little report. If you don’t want your son on the internet, you could pick up some travel books from the library. 
  • Do simple cleaning projects. Wiping down the baseboards, sweeping, dusting, etc. Anything he does while you’re working is time you can spend together (instead of cleaning) when you aren’t working. 
  • Check out activity books from the library…and see what ideas capture his interest. 
  • Model kits.
  • Write letters to grandparents or out of town cousins. 
  • Keep a journal.
  • Play with other building toys such as K’nex, Lincoln logs, etc.
  • Make a time capsule.
  • Build a fort. 


For more ideas, check out Stacy Molter’s summer bucket list and this summer activity jar from Over the Big Moon. (There are also more links to summer activity lists on my summer board on Pinterest.) If anyone reading has ideas for independent activities for kiddos during the summer, please share in the comments. Thanks for sharing! 


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