June Series: Summer Fun On the Cheap For Moms!

Swap the Dining Room Table for a Summer Picnic

Summer fun doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re a single mom, most likely you’re already thinking about budgeting for back to school clothes, supplies, maybe tuition or summer camps. But, there are a number of fun, bonding and inexpensive activities you can do in them summer with the kids that will keep your budget on track. This June Series of ‘Inexpensive Summer Fun,’ will give you ideas to implement throughout the next three months.

One of my favorite inexpensive summer activities is to swap your dining room table for a dinner picnic outside. You have to eat right? Why not do it under the blue sky on a blanket? You can have a picnic in the park, in your yard, or maybe at an outdoor event. Ask the kids to help put together their favorite dinner, dessert and drinks and head outdoors!

10 Mostly Free & Fun Things To Do With The Kids In DC This Weekend!

10 Mostly Free Things To Do With The Kids in DC This Weekend!

Friday is here! If you’re in the DC metro area it’s a pretty soggy day, but that doesn’t mean you and the kids have to be stuck in the house all weekend. Check out some of these fun activities going on in the metro DC area some of which are free! Also, check out CertifiKID for some great discounts. I have faith the sun will peek out so I listed some outdoor activities as well as indoor fun!

  1. The Flower Mart at the National Cathedral– Friday 10-6 & Saturday 10-5. Check out the lovely flowers and for kids there is a carousel, puppet shows, games, rides, food and a used book tent. Admission is FREE, there are costs for some activities.
  2. Go to the Drive In! For 10 bucks a car you can watch Star Wars the Force Awakens at Union Market. Lot opens 6:00, Lot closes promptly at 7:50, Film begins 8:15 , Film ends at 10:30. Check the website at 1 pm for rain cancellation.
  3. Around the World Embassy Tour On Saturday from 10-4 pm, immerse the kids in culture with over 40 embassies! This FREE event showcases art, music, traditional dress, and lots of good food from around world! Admission is free, but bring ID some embassies might conduct security checks.
  4. Go Explore a Castle! Saturday from 11-2 The Heurich House Museum will is FREE! Wander through the castle and complete complete a photo scavenger hunt to win prizes.Register  here.
  5. African-American Children’s Book Fair– Saturday  10-4 pm at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore. This is the perfect rainy day activity. Enjoy author readings, illustration workshops, live performances, and art activities. It’s FREE, but register for the event here.
  6. $12 for KID Museum General Admission TWO-PACK Bethesda- This is a great deal for the little ones from CertifiKID
  7. $10 for Port Discovery Children’s Museum Admission – Baltimore  – This is another offer from CertifiKID
  8. Raptor Festival-If your kids are into birds, owls, hawks then go to the Meadowside Nature Center, Saturday from 12-4 pm for a fun and informative festival. It’s FREE!
  9. Literary Hill BookFest- FREE event Saturday 11-3 PM on Capitol Hill.
  10. Kid’s Theater Festival– This is cool! Watch plays performed and written by kids for FREE on Saturday, 11-2 PM at Glenallan Elementary School.

Don’t let the rain stop you! Go out and make some memories and have a great weekend!

8 Summer Co-Parenting Tips for the Single Mom!

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We’re finished with spring break and in a few short weeks, summer will arrive in all its glory! Single moms may find summer break and co-parenting a little challenging for several reason. One, you miss your kids. Two, you have to reconfigure schedules. Three, you want to maximize the time you have with your kids. So, here are a few co-parenting tips that will make this summer a little bit easier!

  1. Confirm dates in May. Some of you may have specific dates on when you’re sharing the summer. If not, I suggest you do it by next month. The more time and notice you give one another the less stress you’ll have with the transition. If your kid’s dad has 4 weeks in the summer, the quicker you know which dates the better prepared you’ll be for the months ahead. It’s okay to send a friendly reminder if you don’t have dates in the works.
  2. Take Into Consideration Any Camps or Special Programs Your Children Will Attend: For example, if your child is enrolled in a specific dance camp or football camp, make sure the other parent knows those dates in advance so that they can plan around it or make appropriate arrangements with you for pick up and drop off.
  3. Communicate With The Kids About the Summer Schedule: Kids like to know where they will be and what they’ll be doing during the summer. Keep them abreast of the schedule and get their input (especially if they are older) on how they’d like to spend summer. Ultimately, parents have to work around each other’s schedule, but it’s so important to give your kids a voice.
  4. Create a Keep In Touch Schedule: Depending on the age of your kids and the circumstances, keeping in touch when they are away is important for everyone. Most parents won’t make a big deal about this, but if it has been an issue in the past, talk to your kid’s father and figure out what works best for your kids.
  5. Exchange Important Information: Make sure that you exchange phone numbers, insurance cards, and anything else that both parents should have access to for the kids.
  6. Confirm Summer Holiday Plans: Take into consideration when you’re planning the summer the holidays, such as the 4th of July, Labor Day and Father’s Day. Depending on how you share holidays this may be something to consider when planning out the summer schedule.
  7. Stay Positive! It’s hard to be without our kids, even if it’s a day. But, we want them to happy and comfortable. Staying positive and being excited for their time with dad will encourage them to have a good time. It’s okay for them to know that you’ll miss them, but you know that they will have a great vacation as well!
  8. Plan a Little Fun for Yourself: This is an opportune time to get in some you time! Explore a new hobby, read a juicy book, take a drive to a new city, hang out with girlfriends and try to enjoy the free space. You deserve it!

 

Kick Out the Case of The Christmas Gimmes in Your Kids! 4 Ways for Kids to Show the Christmas Spirit of Giving!

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Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, but it’s been known to bring about a terrible case of the gimme’s in children. Who hasn’t heard,”Give me this, give me that, I want, I want…Please!” So, how do we kick the gimmes out of our home and the entitlement attitude that goes along for the ride? I believe it is a two step process and both steps start with us being intentional. First, in actions and words we need to relay to our kids why we’re celebrating Christmas. Secondly, we spend time reflecting on who Jesus was as a servant and initiate discussions on how we can  imitate his love through our actions, words, and heart.

Instead of focusing on the gift receiving, encourage your children to be gift givers. Now, this doesn’t mean spending money or getting fancy, but by doing simple meaningful acts to show their gratitude to  and for others.

Here are some ideas to get them off the gimme track and onto the giving path!

  • Cards and Words Gratitude: Encourage them write personal notes/cards of gratitude to their grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends, teachers or anyone whose important to them. If your kids have the gift of gab, let them create a video to send to loved ones! Tell them to be creative and have fun!
  • Gifts of Service: Instead of spending money on gifts for their siblings or for you, ask them to give a gift of service. Maybe it is shoveling snow for the neighbor or taking a chore for the week from a sibling, basically anything that is service oriented would work!
  • Volunteer During the Holiday: Research and compile a  list of volunteer opportunities that are age appropriate and have them choose one to pursue. For example, many nursing homes welcome children’s visits year round.
  • Encourage Your Kids to Throw a Party: Allow them to invite friends over for hot chocolate, cookies and movies, but the catch is everyone brings a toy for a Christmas Donation that will go to a shelter. Mom. make sure you hand the reigns over so that they take on the role of party planner.

These are just four simple ways to bring back the giving aspect of Christmas that can easily become overshadowed by the constant push of our culture’s consumerism attitude during a season that’s supposed to reflect the love of Christ, not how many gifts we can fit under the tree. Ask your kids to come up with ideas as well to inspire them to get into the spirit of service! I’m sure you’ll be blown away by their generosity!

10 Free Activities to Do With The Kids During the Holidays In The DC Area

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Living in the DC Metro area affords a great opportunity to experience the holidays with your family without breaking the bank! As a single mom I’m always on the search for fun, free, activities to do with my daughter and I’m happy to say that there isn’t a shortage of events in the area to attend! Here are my top free events to take the kids to this season!

10 Fun Activities To Do In the DC Area That Are Free!

  1. The National Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace: The lighting is on the 1st of December and tickets are sold out, but visiting the tree is free throughout the season, and musical performances are held nightly. White House Ellipse, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC.
  2. Zoo Lights: Walk through the National Zoo and be dazzled by the 500,000 lights! Grab a hot chocolate when you’re walking through and enjoy live musical performances and tasty treats! It’s open from 5 -9 PM. 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008.
  3. Smithsonian Holiday Festival, December 3-4th: Events are from 10 am-5 pm and include concerts, book signings, trunk shows, kid-centric activities and more. Participating museums include the National Museum of American History, National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of the American Indian and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
  4. Season Greenings: The Botanical Gardens has an absolutely stunning Christmas display the kids will love. It’s open from 10 am-5 pm.
  5. 2016 Festival of Lights at the Washington, DC Mormon Temple: We did this for the first time last year and it is breathtaking.The lights, the manger, and the beautiful displays of the birth of Christ from various different countries is an experience you won’t want to miss. Dusk to 10 p.m. nightly. Nativity scene is open each evening from 6 to 9 p.m. Live musical performances begin at 7 and 8 p.m. 9900 Stoneybrook Dr, Kensington, MD 20895
  6. 2016 Parade of Lighted Boats: Enjoy DC Soutwestern waterfront with a  hot cocoa, live music,  and a parade of lighted boats on December 3rd from 5-8 pm. From the Docks of Alexandria to Southwest Waterfront in DC – 600 Water Street SW, Washington, DC 20024.
  7. Swedish Christmas Bazaar: Visit the Swedish marketplace, snack in the Swedish café, try to win prizes and stick around for the main event: the St. Lucia procession with traditional caroling on Saturday, December 3rd, 11 am-5 pm.House of Sweden, 2900 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20007.
  8. Holiday Train Show in Union Station: A lovely train display open daily.
  9. Bethesda Winter Wonderland: On December 3rd 1-4 pm Enjoy live ice sculpting, performances and a visit from Santa!
  10. Winter’s Eve at Glen Echo: On December 10th from 4-7 pm. Enjoy free activities including holiday crafts, sing-alongs, story-telling, open studios, and a hot chocolate bar.

I hope you and your family get to enjoy some of these fun activities for FREE this Christmas Season!

Advent Ideas! How About An Advent Tree

I love love love our Advent Tree! This is a fairly new tradition that we started about two years ago. In addition to our real tree in the house, we have an additional tree on the porch that reminds us each day when we enter and leave our home why we we’re celebrating Christmas. This tree doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but it has little pockets with numbers on them for each day leading up to Christmas. Inside those pockets are scriptures that we bring into the house to read during our lighting the Advent candles.

If you want to try this fun tradition, I suggest buying an inexpensive artificial tree big or small that you can put somewhere in your home. Let the kids find the scriptures and write the book of the Bible and verse on a slip of paper to put in little envelopes around the tree. I found my pockets at Michaels, but you can easily create them yourself. Every day let one of the kids pull out the scripture to bring into read for breakfast or dinner.

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5 Tips to Make Co-Parenting & Sharing The Holidays a Little Easier

university-pressHolidays can be complex when you’re co-parenting, but if you keep the lines of communication open and boundaries in place you will get through it. What is most important is that your kids enjoy their holiday, feel loved, and spend time with their parents with as little confusion as possible.

Here are my 5 Tips on Keeping Co-parenting During the Holidays Civil and Happy!

  1. Confirm Plans with the Other Parent: Many parents have a court-appointed schedule in place for the holidays which lays out the specifics of pick up and drop off times. If you don’t have an order, it’s important to communicate with your child’s parent the days your child will spend with them for the holiday, the time they will pick them up,  and return them home. I suggest writing the schedule in an email and then communicating a week before to confirm so there won’t be any surprises or miscommunication.
  2. Stick to the Schedule: Consistency is so important when you share the holidays. Listen, things happen that can be out of our control, but try to stick to the structure you have in place.  Kids won’t feel shuffled around, instead they will feel secure if they know the plan.
  3. Keep Lines of Communication Open with Your Kids: Communicating with your kids about the holiday schedule shows that you respect them. Let them know at least a month ahead of time who they will be with during the holiday and how the time will be split. This is especially important with very young children. In my experience kids are pretty adaptable as long as you communicate clearly and honestly with them.
  4. Plan in Advance: Make the transition as simple and stress-free as possible. If they’re packing a bag, make sure they have everything they need at least a few days in advance. If you want to celebrate with them, do it a couple days before they leave. Another, thing you may want to do in advance is have them call their relatives before they leave if they won’t be able to talk to them on the actual holiday. A little preparation goes a long way in co-parenting.
  5. Put Your Best Foot Forward: Holidays are highly emotional and potentially stressful times. If you’re in a good place with your children’s father that is great! But, the reality is for many this is a complex relationship. I can’t stress enough how important it is to the well-being of your children to set aside differences during the holiday transition so they feel comfortable about leaving with the other parent. A kind word and a smile won’t kill you. If you’re the parent who has your child during the holiday, encourage them to call the other parent and if possible you may even want to offer a day for them to spend some time together.

The best thing you can do is always put your kids first and do what is best for them. The cooperation and kindness you show to your child’s dad is the biggest gift you can give them!