• How to Entertain Kids on Snow Day

    by Reruns blogger | Feb 21, 2013

    Living in Nebraska, it is inevitable that there will be a time when the snow cancels school and the kids and parents are home stuck inside. It’s fun to play in the snow, but kids can only be out for a few minutes before they start to feel the chill. As parents, we know that when boredom kicks in, the house becomes chaotic. So, the challenge during inclement weather is to keep the kids entertained and calm.

    What can you do at home to bust the boredom? 

    1. Bring the snow inside – You don’t have to be outside to play in the snow. Get a bucket and fill it with
    snow. Lay out a plastic tablecloth on your kitchen floor and add plastic kitchen utensils. The kids can
    play indoors with the snow and keep their toes and fingers warm.

    2. Paper crafts – There is a plethora of crafts you can make with just paper. You can use scraps,
    construction or plain computer paper to make origami, paper airplanes, collages (with pictures from old
    magazines) or create a story book together. There are many resources online that let you print coloring
    pages or activities at no charge.

    3. Borrow movies from the library – We cancelled cable several years ago and I’m always worried that
    a storm will knock out our internet and Netflix, so I like to have DVDs for the kids to watch. The local
    library has a huge collection of kid and adult movies, including educational shows, and they are free to
    borrow. Our library lets you keep them for an entire week.

    4. Family game time – Snow days are a great time to create a new family tradition of playing board
    games. Add some yummy snacks and have fun. Our family favorites are Uno, Connect 4 and Apples to
    Apples.

    5. Bake – When it’s cold outside, bake some yummy treats to stay warm. Kids can help measure, stir and
    pour. And, when it’s all done, you will have some snacks to enjoy during the snowstorm..

    6. Dance Party – My kids always have tons of energy and need to get up and move. Anytime they start
    to get bored and rambunctious, I turn on some music and we dance. You can find great kid’s music free
    on Youtube and even some free downloads on Amazon.

    These are just a few ideas to help with snow day boredom. What other ideas do you have to keep kids
    entertained indoors?

    Author: Nicole McDonald, a stay-at-home mom to three kids, age 6, 4 and 2. She teaches coupon, meal
    planning, frugal fun with kids and freebies classes and blogs at www.momsavesmoney.net.

  • How to Host a Giveaway Party

    by Reruns blogger | Jan 17, 2013

    Want to refresh your wardrobe, find new toys for your kids, discover new reading material without spending any money or just get rid of items you aren’t using? Host a giveaway party! How does it work? Invite friends to bring their gently used items to your house (or a suitable location) and let them pick ‘new’ items from other people’s stuff. Everyone will be able to get rid of items they aren’t using and take home ‘new’ items they can use. A giveaway party is a fun way to live green and save money. 

    I recommend you pick a giveaway party theme, so you aren’t overwhelmed with items and to make it easier for guests to go through those items in their home.

    Here are some theme ideas:

    1. Kid’s Clothing – Those of us with children know how fast they grow out of clothes and how expensive they are new. A clothing and shoe swap is a great idea to refresh their wardrobes on a budget.
    2. Kid’s Toys and Games – Kid’s toys seem to multiply in my house and there are so many they don’t even play with anymore. Why not give those toys to someone else and pick some new ones for your kids to enjoy?
    3. Books, Magazines and DVDS – I’ve hosted this party in my home and it was fabulous! We had a huge assortment of DVDs, kid and adult books. Everyone went home with at least one large bag of new reading material and DVDs. After the party, I donated the remaining books (three huge boxes) to the local library.
    4. Kitchen gadgets – Do you remember that rice cooker you got for your wedding that’s still sitting unopened three years later? This is a perfect theme party for foodies. A kitchen gadget or tool that is useless to you may be the perfect addition to someone else’s kitchen.
    5. Adult Clothing and Accessories– Let’s face it: most of us have a huge pile of clothes in our closet that never sees the sunlight. Swap with other people to refresh your wardrobe. Add purses, shoes, jewelry and scarves to the party to get more variety.
    6. Home Decorations – Do you have decorations or candles that you never use? Want to get a fresh look to your home? This is the perfect theme for friends that love to decorate their homes.

    Tips to a Successful Party

    1. Invite Everyone. The more people, the better your party will be and the better the selection. Make sure to clearly explain the idea and expectations of a giveaway party on the invitations.
    2. Co-host with a Friend or Two. They will invite their guest list of attendees, so you will double or triple the turnout.
    3. Ask Guests to Bring Friends. Encourage your friends to invite their friends and family to the party.
    4. Send a Reminder. A few days before your party, email a reminder, or better, give them a quick reminder call. People are busy and sometimes forget. A reminder is always appreciated, plus it gives you a good idea of how many people to expect.
    5. Keep Refreshments Light. It’s a giveaway party, not an eating party. Serve a few beverages and if you want, a few small snacks. Don’t go overboard with the food. (This one is hard for me, because I really like to feed people.)

    After the party, you will probably have many items that still need a home. Instead of asking your guests to take their stuff back home, offer to donate it to a local shelter, thrift store, consignment store, library or kid’s organization.  Your guests will appreciate that you take care of the leftovers and they don’t have to haul it back home. There are many thrift stores that will even pick up the donations, so it won’t take much effort for you to donate the items.

    Giveaway parties are fun and the ultimate in frugality and recycling. I’d love to hear if you plan to host a giveaway party and what theme you will pick. Do you have any other theme ideas or giveaway party tips?

    Author: Nicole McDonald, a stay-at-home mom to three kids, age 6, 4 and 2.  She teaches coupon, meal planning and freebies classes and blogs at www.momsavesmoney.net.

  • Say Yes to the Mess

    by Reruns blogger | Dec 13, 2012

    I love my kids, but being a mom of three small children is exhausting. There are always diapers to change, dinners to make, clothes to wash and messes to clean. It seems like a never ending cycle and I find myself saying ‘no’ to anything that might create any mess at all. Any activity they select, I just see the end clean-up and not the process that involves play.

    My daughter cutting up papers for an art project means little pieces all over the floor. Play-Doh means tiny chunks of that sticky dough all over the table, chairs and floor. Baking results in gooey ingredients all over the counter.  Why do I always say no? Because, I am tired, over worked and detest cleaning.

    But, do I want my kids to remember me as the ‘no’ mom? Well, no. I want my kids to be able to have fun, to make messes, to create, imagine and enjoy activities of their choosing. Being a ‘no’ mom stifles their fun. So, starting today, I pledge to be a ‘yes’ mom and embrace the mess.

    In a child’s view, the mess is the process of creativity and imagination. It is how they explore their world, how they create visions and build their sense of self. Play is important. Messes are important. My kids are important.

    The most valuable thing in my life is not having a perfectly clean house, but having happy kids. I want my kids to use Play-Doh any time they want, to create art and to help me cook. I want to be a ‘yes’ mom; the kind of mom that isn’t perfect, but allows kids to be kids.  I will say ‘yes to the mess.’ Today is a Play-Doh kind of day.

    Author: Nicole McDonald, a stay-at-home mom to three kids, age 6, 4 and 2.  She teaches coupon, meal planning and freebies classes and blogs.