education, kids, Parenting

Losing the Passion: The Truth Behind Educators Leaving the Profession

Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a teacher. I idolized my elementary teachers, played school at home with my dolls, and actually enjoyed going to my mom’s classroom during the summer as she graded papers, taught summer school, or added to her classroom decor. I grew up in a family of educators – all were passionate about their profession; each believe in a child’s ability to become anything they dream of being.

In high school, I signed up for a cadet-teaching class, allowing me to work in a preschool classroom 2-3 days a week. I fell in love. I could not imagine doing anything with my life outside of teaching in a classroom. I knew it was my passion, my calling. Each field experience in college further confirmed my passion for education. I can vividly remember my first teaching interview, the joy I felt as I was shown to MY very first classroom, my heart-skipping as I saw my name outside the door.  I look back at that moment–that joy I had. The passion. I remember how I promised myself, that young, first-year teacher, that when that passion and joy for the job dropped, when it no longer exuded from my skin and was contagious to the students I taught, I would re-evaluate my profession. That it wasn’t fair for a student to have a teacher who didn’t demonstrate a passion for their profession.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have dreamed that that moment would come so soon.  I have taught in the public classroom setting for eight years, mere pennies to some of my distinguished colleagues who I have had the honor to teach with and learn from. I have taught a multitude of grade levels: kindergarten, first grade, third grade, and high school. With in each  new school year and each grade level, I know, without a doubt, that I have made an impact on at least one of my students. I have watched them grow not only as learners, but also as human beings. But, with each year and grade level, a burden has also been added;one that seeps away just a little more of the first-year teacher’s passion I once recall. I turn on the news and read the newspaper headlines about the struggle to find educators. I read of the rising problem of educators leaving the profession. The news anchors and headlines, asking “Why?”

I know why.

Ask almost any educator today who has taught more than five years, and any one of us can tell you exactly why.

The fact that my passion as an educator is slowly being drained away has nothing to do with my salary or lack thereof. Remember, I come from a family of educators. I have grown up knowing that the education field is not a lucrative one. I did not become a teacher in hopes of becoming rich; I became one because of my passion to help students learn, because of the joy I received in watching a student have their “light-bulb” learning moment, knowing I was a part of that. No, there are many reasons why educators are losing their passion and choosing to leave the profession, but it’s not the money.

In reflecting on my career thus far in the field, I have narrowed it down to five reasons that my job has become much more difficult than it once was and why it has begun to take a toll on me and my family. My passion for this noble profession, like that of many of my colleagues, is slowly being drained because:

  1. We didn’t sign-up to be a security guard. This sounds harsh, but it’s true. In the world we live in today, teachers and students don’t truly feel safe at school. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of school shootings and safety violations since I joined the profession. When I first became a teacher, never once did I have to think about what I would do in the situation of an active shooter. This year, I did and it rocked me to my core. I was eight months pregnant, eating lunch with my colleagues, when the fire alarm went off. If you’re a teacher, you know there are no planned fire alarms during a lunch period. I vividly remember looking at my fellow teachers in the lounge and voicing that I didn’t want to evacuate–that I feared this was not a fire drill, but a moment that could put all of us at risk– a way to get us all outside in the open. I did not sign on for this fear when I became a teacher. I did not agree to be responsible for not only teaching my students the curriculum, but teaching them what to do if someone enters our classroom with a gun. I did not sign on to teach them how to hide or how to evacuate. Have you ever had to have that conversation with a six-year-old, while still attempting to reassure them how safe their school is?  Trust me, it’s hard.
  2. We did not sign-up for the emotional stress. More and more of today’s students are suffering from mental health issues. It is becoming a silent crisis within our schools. In addition, students are not receiving the help they need to address these issues as our school and class sizes continue to rise, leaving students to fall between the cracks. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that they carry the successes and burdens of their students. Every day, I bring home the worries of not only myself and my family, but of my students as well. As a teacher, I have sat in countless case conferences and meetings outlining a student’s past: mental and physical abuse, poverty, living in squalor. This is hard to take on as a teacher – knowing your students’ burdens and feeling helpless outside of the walls of your classroom. In addition, the rate of suicide or suicide attempts by students are increasing as these mental health issues go unidentified or untreated. There is nothing worse as a teacher than receiving a phone call or reading an email informing you that a student of yours has attempted suicide. I have received two. It is heartbreaking. It leaves you questioning what more you, as their mentor, could have done. What silent cries for help did you miss?
  3. We sacrifice our needs and our family’s needs to meet the needs of our students. Anyone who believes that a teacher’s hours are the hours posted outside the school office’s doors has never met a teacher or spent time in their shoes. We get to work before the bell rings; we stay long after the last student leaves. We come in on the weekends and on our “vacations”– heck some of us still even come in on snow days. In addition, thanks to our society today, we are expected to answer emails from our students or their parents at a moment’s notice and have grades entered and up-to-date within hours. Add in the necessary time needed to plan lessons that meet the individualized needs of our students on 504 plans, or who have language or individualized education plans, and you are looking at WAY more than forty-hours a week. But, lo and behold we do it all. We get it all in, but at the sacrifice of our own families. We sacrifice playing with our littles ones on the weekend in order to grade the pile of essays. We sacrifice the MUCH NEEDED adult conversations with our spouses in the evening to finalize our lesson plans, respond to emails from students, and enter our grades. We sacrifice ourselves–that self-love we need–in order to get it all done. We stay up late, long after the bedtime we needed, in order to help our own kids with their homework, cook dinner, and get just a little quality time with them before they go to bed–staying up to answer the questions about the project that’s due tomorrow, to respond to the emails. This leaves us exhausted with little to give to our students, our spouses, or our kids.
  4. We are the scapegoats. I remember growing up as a child and coming home with a note in my folder, an explanation as to why I had to “clip-down” that day. Per usual, I was just a little too social for my own good at times. However, that was never an excuse in my household. I was held responsible for it–ME, the student. The one who didn’t listen to her teacher, who didn’t follow the rules. While there are still parents out there today who trust in their child’s teacher, who believe that maybe, just maybe, the story their child is telling about that low-grade or behavior note, isn’t the whole truth, unfortunately, those parents are few and far between. Today, teachers are becoming the scapegoat for a child’s low grade or poor behaviors: we have it out for their child, we aren’t fair, we teach in a style that isn’t to their child’s liking. Let me be honest here, parents. It is difficult to teach to thirty different students at one time and match EVERY single one of their learning styles, but I still attempt to everyday. I promise I have never been “out to get a child,” nor have I been biased towards them.Do we make the wrong decision sometimes, handle a situation in a way that may not be ideal? Absolutely, we are human. But, instead of insinuating and being quick to use us as a scapegoat, hear us out. Listen to my story, hear what I, as a professional, have to say about the situation or the grade before you’re quick to judge. It becomes exhausting to have to defend every decision that you make in your classroom to the students, to the parents, or to your administration, simply because a kid can’t own up to their mistakes or lack of planning.
  5. We are treated as a number, not as a human being. I saved this one for last, as it is the one that I feel has caused my passion to be drained. Education is a people business. We are asked, as educators, to treat our students with compassion, to show interests in their hobbies and passions, and to support them, yet we are not given that same courtesy. Very few districts and administrative teams are taking the time to treat you as a person, to give you the same respect they expect you to give your students. It only takes a moment to send a “Congratulations!” email to the new mom, to write an encouraging note after a hard day with a student, to compliment a teacher on an amazing lesson, a job well done.

In the past month, I have seen multiple current and former colleagues share that they are feeling disheartened, broken,  and under-appreciated in their profession as an educator. These AMAZING educators are contemplating leaving the profession they love so much because they don’t feel supported. They watch as they or their colleagues are passed up for promotions – promotions which are given to other, less qualified candidates because they “know someone” on the “inside.” Politics. They watch their colleagues cry during their lunch break after a student verbally attacks them in front of their class, telling the administration that their teacher is a racist and unfair. They know she isn’t; they know the student was at fault. They know nothing will be done. Scapegoats. They watch their new momma colleague scrambling to keep it all together–using all of her prep time and lunch breaks to pump milk for her baby, knowing that means she will have hours of work at home. It doesn’t matter…they are a  number on the staff payroll, not a person. They watch their colleagues pack their desk and carry their boxes home. They watch one leave the profession this year, two the next. They watch new teachers come in, full of passion and energy, to later watch them leave, their tanks empty.

Education is, and has always been my passion. I truly believe education is the foundation of our future and is crucial to the upbringing of our society. I still see glimpses of that first-year teacher me – the one full of passion. I see her as I help our daughter with her homework. I see her as I teach online and tutor. She’s still in there, but I know that in order to rejuvenate that passion for me and for all teachers in our education system today, it’s time for those outside of the profession to stop asking”Why?” and start listening. Listen to the teachers in your community. Stop assuming it’s our schedule or our pay, and truly listen. The burdens of our job are heavy and we don’t carry them lightly. We need your support.  We need your compassion. Most of all, we need you to treat us as human beings, because we are.

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kids, Parenting

Tummy Time Must Have: Activity Mat Review

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the concept that my sweet little baby is already five-months old. While I felt like my pregnancy flew by ( minus those last two weeks!), the time since we’ve welcomed our son home has flown by ten times faster. It has been amazing these past few months to watch him grow his own personality and begin to truly discover and explore the world around him.

Since our son was born, I’ve tried to be diligent in getting him to participate in daily tummy-time sessions. Luckily, our son LOVES his tummy sessions. Thus, for Christmas this year, we wanted to purchase him a new tummy time mat, as he had begun to outgrow the mat we initially used when he was a newborn. If you’re a first-time mom, like me, the hunt for a tummy time mat and playtime essentials can be DAUNTING! I vividly recall calling my husband to tell him I was going to make a quick-trip to BuyBuy Baby for some tummy-time toys and to check-out which mat to purchase for Christmas. Three hours later, yes THREE hours later, I emerged out of the store, squinting at the daylight, with just one toy. I felt defeated. I had NO idea how many options for play mats there were. I had no idea what toys my then four-month old son would truly interact with.

Thus, I began my hunt online. Looking at three things:

1. Honest, mom reviews: Why? Because we’ve tried the products on our own kids and we know what’s the real deal and what’s just been hyped up by advertising.

2. Price: I may be new at this mom thing, but I was not going to be coaxed into spending ridiculous amounts of money for a play mat that lies on the floor with my child, only to be used for a few months.

3. Gender neutral: Again, let’s be practical. My husband and I plan to have more offspring and I’d like to get a second use out of it, no matter the gender of our next child.

After much research and tireless searching of Black Friday and impending holiday sales, I settled on our playmat, Disney Baby Mr. Ray Ocean Light’s Activity Mat.

Why I love it:

  1.  The mat’s overall set up. The mat sets up and creates a barrier wall on almost 3/4 of the mat. This is great for my wiggle worm who likes to not only roll from his tummy to his back, but then scoot himself so that he can kick the inside of the mat. By doing this, the mat is staying firmly in place and he still has a soft surface to lay on.
  2. The mat’s features. The activity mat not only lights up, but also plays two different sound options. You can have a fun, musical set play with the flashing, colorful lights, or you can have soothing ocean sounds play. I love using the musical setting and lights during play time, then switching to the ocean sounds ( similar to his sound machine) as playtime is wrapping up. This helps us transition to nap time.
  3. The mat’s material. The activity mat can be easily wiped off for quick, spot cleaning after a drool or spit up episode. However, it can be disassembled easily to be washed as well.
  4. The mat’s pillow. The mat comes with a fun, green rounded pillow that looks like seaweed! It’s great for propping your child up for tummy-time beginners, as well as for head support while your little one plays on their back.
  5. The mat’s toys. The mat comes with a variety of toys that can be attached for your child to play with during his activity time. They include a Dory puppet, a Nemo teething toy with three rings, an octopus rattle, a turtle beaded rattle, and a mirror. In addition, all the toys can be removed and used separately or attached to other items, such as your child’s car seat or stroller. All the toys are brightly covered and high quality.  In addition, the toy placement is evenly spread across the mat, allowing for your child to reach toys from a back or tummy position.

We absolutely LOVE our activity mat purchase and watching our son learn and grow as he plays on it. If you’re in the market for an activity mat for your little one, or looking to purchase one for a friend or relative, I highly recommend this one!

kids, Parenting

The MIA Momma

In the past week, I have spent more time with or talking to my friends, than I had in the past two months combined. I have actually gotten out of the house regularly. I have worn jeans more days than I have worn leggings. Some of you reading this will think, “And your point is…”

I thought that, too. I thought I was doing great. I was enjoying my maternity leave time at home–the perfect excuse to stay in my sweatpants or leggings all day, throw my hair up in that messy bun, and conquer the craziness that is new mom life (really, just mom life in general.)  Afterall, having a new baby was the perfect reason for excuse after excuse of why I couldn’t leave the house that day– “Little man needs a nap,  he won’t take a bottle (well that’s an excuse AND reality!), we don’t have anyone who can watch him…” I found that the longer I was staying at home,the easier it was for me to make an excuse not to leave. The easier it was for me to become an MIA momma.

It took a few regular days of me getting out of the house this past week, actually following through with plans I had made with friends, to realize that I was beginning to fall off the grid. Is it nice to stay home and tackle that to-list? Yes. Is it nice to NOT have to get dressed up, blow-dry that hair and put on real clothes (only to have to change again later after you find yourself covered in spit-up)? Yes. Is it necessary to stay home sometimes in hopes that you can MAYBE get just a few minutes of rest while your child, who was up all night, rests? Yes.  But you know what I discovered this week? It is also extremely important to make time to continue to build on those momma friendships. Not just for you, but for your fellow mom friends.

As I sat across the room and across the table from my mom friends this past week, I realized how important it is to have a tribe of women who truly are there to support you–not to judge you, not to gossip later about you, not to further encourage your anger or frustrations, but to truly just listen, love, and support you. For four months, I hadn’t made that a priority. I hadn’t made an effort to really just talk AND listen. Sure, I responded to the group text messages and tried to be supportive from there, but it is profoundly different to truly be there with a person. Why? Because a text message doesn’t include the tone of despair that you can hear in a friend’s voice as they talk with you about a deeply emotional issue they’re processing at the moment. An emoji doesn’t show the pain hidden in your friend’s eyes–the pain only you, as her friend, can recognize. A GIF only hides your friend’s anxiety, the anxiety they feel every time that group message goes off and they’re left feeling like maybe they’re the only one in the group that’s struggling, that just can’t seem to get a handle on this parenting gig.

Parenting is hard. Balancing your marriage, the household, work, and your kids is hard. It is a 24/7, 7 days-a-week job. It is exhausting. But, this week, this MIA momma has been found. I was able to realize how crucial it is to not let your mom friendships go to the wayside as you navigate balancing it all, but to instead lean on them. Be willing to be vulnerable, to admit that you don’t have it all figured out, that you’re struggling with something right now, that you need help and advice, that you need your mom tribe. Suck it up and put on the jeans. Blow-dry the hair. Make the drive to your friend’s house or the coffee-house. Don’t make the “busy” excuses– because EVERY momma is busy. Instead, make time to be PRESENT with your friends.

It took me finally making those choices for me to realize that I needed that. I needed my friends to hear me out, to know my struggles, and to support me. And to my surprise, they needed that from me, as well.

I pray that each of you are able to find support in your momma friends like I have. That you find time–no, that you make time– to foster those relationships and to lean on them during the highs and lows that life throws you. This week, I  challenge you to make an effort to do so. Don’t allow yourself to become the MIA momma.

 

 

 

kids, Parenting

Confessions of a New Momma: Fear of Failure

This morning, I found myself with an unusual amount of time completely to myself. Today was “Donuts With Dad” at my stepdaughter’s school and she had requested the presence of not only my husband, but also her brother! So here I am, with time to actually get dressed, drink a hot cup of coffee and eat breakfast, all by myself! This time for myself had me reflecting on the past few months–how very different life has been for me and the decisions we had made as a family that led me to this moment, sitting in my kitchen typing, instead of starting first period in my classroom. And of course, the waterworks ensued.

You see, it wasn’t just the financial change that scared me about making the decision to stay home the remainder of the year. Yes, it would be a big change, but there was something deeper that scared me. Something much more personal–FEAR. Not financial fear, but fear of  a different kind.

I was fearful of being a “letdown” to my husband. Ever since we had met, I have had the “go-getter” mentality. I was finishing up graduate school when we met, working full-time as a teacher and JV basketball coach. I thrived on achievement and was proud that I was able to own my home at the age of 25. I loved bringing in a paycheck, of feeling like I contributed. Our marriage has always been connected to the “team member” mentality–we both help out, both contribute. I had such a fear that by my not going back to work, that go-getter woman he married would become just a blur. Our “team” marriage mentality, gone.

I was fearful of being a “letdown” to my parents. My parents are both in education, having worked hard to be in administrative leadership positions. They are the reason I went into the field of education, why I became a passionate teacher. I have witnessed their sacrifices, both in personal time and financially, to ensure that my sister and I received the best education–that we would be able to thrive in our careers as adults. Once I graduated, they helped mentor me, to prepare me for interviews, setting up my classroom, and new, innovative classroom ideas. They encouraged me to not always follow the crowd, but to instead step outside of the box and try the new classroom technique, to push the limits as long as I always held to the belief that every child had the right to learn, every child has untapped potential. The fear of telling them I didn’t want to return to the classroom this year, that I wanted to spend more time at home, scared me. I didn’t want to let them down. I didn’t want them to feel that they had “wasted” their money, their time, their support.

I was fearful of what my working mom friends would think. I didn’t want them to think any differently of me–either that I was “lazy” and leaning on my husband to work solely for our family, or that I had jumped on the idea that being a “working-mom” is terrible for your family, your children. ( Because, let’s be honest: There are some who believe mom’s should be in the home full-time and others who believe mom’s should work as examples for their children, or just because they need to in order to provide. I say YOU DO YOU!) Most of my close friends and family are working moms and I was fearful that my short-time shift to staying home this year would leave me a bit alienated–that’d we have less in common or that’d they see me through a different lens.

I was fearful that I wouldn’t be able to do it. The role of “wife” and “mommy” is hard. Mainly, because it is a job that you are “on-call” for 24/7. There are no weekends off, lunch breaks, or paid time off. I live in such a fear that I am not “good” enough at either job, especially not at the same time! It’s exhausting being responsible for a tiny human’s every need, then add in running a household, feeding your family, and taking time to continue to build upon my marriage and relationship with God and now you have one tired, pulled-too-thin momma.  My  greatest fear jumping into staying home the remainder of this year, after my family and I have sacrificed so much in order to do so, is that I will not come through for them. That I won’t be the best mom and step-mom to our kids, fully living in the moment with them. That I won’t be the loving, supportive wife that my husband needs. That I won’t stay up on the household jobs that keep our household running. That I will be deemed a “first-time” momma failure.

Now, even as I type out these fears I see how silly they can sound, but I also know that they are still very real. I don’t want to “fail” in any area of life–who does? But, I also know that I am not alone in these fears. Mommas, we have them. Know that it’s okay, you’re not alone. There are HARD days when you feel that you’re letting someone down. Push through. Know that in the end, you’re doing the best you can do. Lean on your husband, family, and friends during those times. Sometimes, that’s all you need–to voice your fears. Acknowledge them. Then, keep on grinding, loving on your babies and family, and trusting that you are doing an amazing job, momma!

 

 

kids, Parenting

Momma on a Mission: Part 1

*This post may include affiliate posts.*

I have taught in the public classroom setting for the past eight years, for two reasons. One, it has always been a passion of mine. There is truly no greater joy than witnessing a child’s “lightbulb” moment. To watch them grow and develop, to get excited about learning. Secondly, to help provide for my family. While a teaching salary isn’t glorious, it has allowed our family to live comfortably combined with that of my husband’s salary.

At the end of December, my husband and I made the very difficult decision for me to extend my maternity leave to the end of the year. On one hand, I was ecstatic. For the four months I had already been at home with our sweet man, all I did was think about the moment that this would end. Instead of enjoying my days,  I found myself feeling like time was ticking away–staring me in the face for that dreaded day I would have to return. To know that that day was far away–almost 6 more months away, is now a relief. However, on the other hand, this OCD, always-has-a-plan momma was nervous and guilty about not bringing in that income to help our family this year. We had planned for four months without work, not a year.

Thus, I became a mom on a mission! The mission? Finding a way to help provide for my family, even in the smallest ways, but by doing so with something I was still PASSIONATE about. Thus begins my “Momma on a Mission” series, in which I will detail my journey to searching and trying-out some legitimate  “side hustles” that can help provide for your family, without taking away from the precious moments that have led to me wanting to stay home!

In my initial search for side-hustles, I was looking for something that I could feel passionate about, but that would also help out other moms similar to me. I stumbled upon an online children’s boutique, Mac & Mia, that were searching for online stylists. I thought, “Why not? I love shopping, especially shopping that is convenient and cute!” I applied online and worked through a few tasks for their application process, and was chosen to be a Mac & Mia Stylist for a trial period of one month.

So…what is Mac & Mia?

Mac and Mia is an online children’s website that connects parents with a number of unique, children’s boutiques. Parents fill out a quick style survey about what type of clothes and looks they prefer for their child, and then are connected with an online stylist.The stylist will use that information, as well as personal communication with you, to handpick 8-12 boutique pieces for your child.

When you request the box you’ll be charged a styling fee of $20 which is applied to the cost of your box if you keep 2 or more items. Once packed your box will arrive in 2-5 business days via UPS. You then have 5 days to try-on the items [in the comfort of your home!] and decide what you want to keep. If you keep everything you get 15% off! If you want to make returns, just put them in the prepaid UPS return envelope and once they’re received by our warehouse you will be charged only for the items you kept. Shopping done easily from your home, no crazy trips to the store and battles in the dressing rooms with your kiddos!

Okay, I know what you’re thinking…I don’t want to pay a monthly subscription fee or high prices for clothes that my child will outgrow! I thought the same thing when I started looking into this company. Yes, some of the items are on the higher priced-end, and lets’ be honest–I just took a year off from work and there is NO way I can spend crazy amounts of money for children’s clothes! That’s were completing the style survey and connecting with your stylist comes in handy–you can specify a price range you wish to stay in. Or, you can be like me and request some statement pieces that can be layered and styled with LOTS of different outfits, including pieces you already have in your child’s closet. One or two statement pieces can go a long way–allowing your child’s closet to be just a little more fabulous or unique than it was before, and so they don’t show up to the school program with the exact same outfit as three other kids in their class!

I’ll be straight with you–when I signed on to try this out, I was hesitant. But on Tuesday, we received our first Mac & Mia box filled with 12 items for Aubrey and they are AMAZING. When your box arrives, it will have an envelope inside with the price sheet for each item in your box, a pre-paid return envelope for the items you don’t want to keep,  as well as a fun surprise for the child the box was styled for– our box had paper dolls and clothes to dress them in!

As I unpacked the box, I noticed how nice the fabrics were for each item–super soft and high quality ( also, if you child has any time of sensory issues, this website also carries boutique styles that are tagless, etc!) The clothes were all super cute, but also HIGH quality. The fabrics are soft and the styles are trendy. Will I keep my whole box, probably not. But I fell in love with a lot of the items and was able to get my $20 stylist fee credited to my account by purchasing two items!

While I’m not sure if I will succeed in this momma’s mission to turn my Mac & Mia stylist role into a profitable side-hustle for my family, I do know that I have become a convinced customer and will repeat my business with them for some special pieces in the future for family pictures, vacations, and holidays. In fact, I’m requesting my second box, this time for my son, today!

Interested in trying it out? You can use the link below to get a $20 credit towards your first box–that’s like one or two FREE items!

Try Mac & Mia

kids, Parenting, Uncategorized

Top 5 at Home Indoor Activities for Kids

If you’re anything like me, winter can make it hard to stay active, especially for the little ones! The days of playing on the playground, running outside, and riding your bike are few and far between once winter arrives in Indiana. The cold and snow make it hard to motivate exercise and, as a parent, you start to have to get creative with ways to burn off some of that energy in your little ones!

The first big snow of this season, had me thinking of some of the best ways to help little ones have fun while burning off energy indoors.  While I am all about playing outside in the snow, let’s be honest–most of us spend more time prepping our kids to play outside in the white stuff than they actually do! Thus, I have compiled a few of our family’s favorite ways to sneak in exercise during these cold, winter days!

Top 5 at Home Indoor Winter Activities:

  1. Little Tikes Trampoline:

If you have a younger child at home, this is the BEST indoor toy. When we need to log some exercise minutes for school, or burn off some extra energy at home we pull this out! Our daughter loves to jump as she listens to music or watches tv, and I love that she is able to get exercise in without realizing she is! This trampoline’s hand folds up so it is easy to store as well. (Tip: If you don’t want to pay full price, look for these after Christmas to score $20-$30 off–that’s what I did last year!)

2. GoNoodle.com

This website is usually reserved and used as a part of the elementary teacher’s bag of tricks, but you can sign up for a free account, too! The website has a TON of interactive dances, songs, and workouts geared towards elementary aged students. We love to log-on to the website to get in a few coordinated dances. They also have yoga and meditation videos for students! It’s really fun to do as a family!

3.  Gotrovo Treasure Hunt Game

Our daughter has been really into scavenger or treasure hunts lately, ever since my husband sent us on one together for my birthday! We go this game for her for Christmas this year, in hopes to help us make them a little more fun and engaging. This game comes with a treasure surprise to place at the end of your hunt, as well as a treasure map that you can attach clues to! The box has pre-made clues, as well as the ability to make your own. This is a fun activity that allows your child to be active as they search through your house to find clues, but also is a great way to get them to think creatively to help solve the riddle clues! This game is great indoors, but we’re excited to use it outdoors once it gets warm, too!

4. Hopscotch

We received this awesome puzzle as a gift one year. While it’s great to use as a puzzle alone, especially for littles one due to its size, we also found that you could easily build it into a hopscotch course! We use it to build different combinations and then our daughter is able to jump, using different combinations. This is a great activity to increase a child’s balance, as they can use two feet, and then gradually increase to just one, crisscrossing, etc. Our daughter loves to do this with her dad, making it a fun game to see who can skip over pieces of the puzzle or have the fastest feet!

5. Indoor Obstacle Course

If you really want to get creative, you can build an in-home obstacle course with a few items you probably already have around the house and have been mentioned above! One cold day, we were looking for something a little different from our usual trampoline and hopscotch routine. My husband gathered our daughter’s scooter and hula hoop from the garage, as well as our trampoline and hopscotch indoor play items, and created an indoor obstacle course that she could complete inside our living room and hallway! She got really excited once we started timing her to see how fast she could go!

Items we used: jump rope, hula hoop, Pete the Cat giant foam puzzle (to build a hopscotch area)  trampoline, scooter

What indoor activities do you do with your kids to keep them active during the cold, winter months? Comment below and share your ideas!

kids, Parenting

Fabulous Friday Review: KiwiCo Kids’ Box

If you’ve been on social media around Christmas in the last year or two, then I’m sure you’ve seen a post or share regarding giving the gift of experiences, rather than physical gifts. Personally, I find myself in the middle. Our family tries to give a few physical gifts, but also gifts experiences and special time spent together as well.

Each Christmas, my parents gift an experience gift to each of our families for the children to enjoy. This has ranged from annual memberships at the local children’s museum, the local zoo, or even magazine or game subscriptions for the kids. With an avid young animal lover in the house, we always chose the zoo membership. While we have loved the trips and the gift of being able to do so at no cost to us for the past three years, we also noted that we don’t go as much as we could or should. Thus, this year we were looking for something different– and, as always, my mom came through with an amazing gift that I just had to share with everyone, because I didn’t even know they existed!!

The company is called Kiwi Co and they deliver a monthly themed box ( based on your child’s age) filled with science and art projects that allow your child to tap into their creative problem solving side!

To be honest, I thought it would be something cool for our daughter to receive, but I was skeptical about how engaging the projects would actually be and whether they’d be appropriate for her age. But then this week, our box came and I was impressed!!

First, our daughter was SUPER excited because she received a package in the mail, just for her! When we opened up the package, I uncovered not one, but three different craft/ STEM activities with correlating supplies and directions for parents. The projects are fun and things that your child can do mostly on their own, with supervision. We completed our first project, a tote bag tie-dyed with an eyelet dropper and tissue paper, in under 30 minutes. Not only was this fun, but it also helped work on color sorting, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and patience in seeing a project through! Plus, there is an end result which she made, which she is VERY proud of! The best part–we still have two more projects we can complete this month!

If you’re looking for something different for your child, I highly recommend checking this company out! The winter can be hard with kids–all that cooped up energy! I found that this box was  a good way to break up the afternoon and I loved that it already had all the supplies I would need to help our daughter make some really cool projects!

If you’re interested in trying it out, use the referral link below to receive 60% off your first box! Please note, I am in no way associated with this brand, I just LOVED it and wanted to share with other parents looking for something hands-on and fun for their child as we all suffer through the winter together!

Referral Code: https://www.kiwico.com/Referred/?i=MarthaM103.

What other subscription services or experiences have you tried that were FABULOUS for your kids? Let us know by commenting below!