10 Minute Things To Do With Your kids On A Weeknight (But you’ll keep playing longer)

The time after school, work and dinner can sometimes feel like a tiring march through the bedtime routine. Instead of just going to the bath right after dinner, shake up the routine and set you and your children up for a happier (and hopefully smoother) bedtime routine by getting silly and playing these classic games! It’s tempting to worry that they will get too wound up or that this will push their bedtimes too late, but often times, in the 10 minutes after dinner, you’re just cleaning up and your kids are likely playing alone or trying to get your attention anyway. Clean up after and spend the fun time together you both crave.

One of the best things about these 10 activities is that they are free and require only items you already have around the house.

Build a pillow fort using the couch

Take a throw blanket and drape it over the couch on one side and an ottoman or coffee table on the other. Take all of the throw pillows off of the couch and set up a nice cushioned area on the floor underneath your newly built fort. Make believe, tell each other stories or grab a book to snuggle up with.

Have a dessert picnic in the yard or on the patio

Any meal can be made special by going outside in the warmer months. Take a beach blanket or sheet and set it up in the yard or on the patio. If you don’t have either, even the living room floor can be a special surprise for your little ones. No need to whip up a homemade cake for this. Fresh fruit, fruit snacks, chocolate milk or yogurt can be just as great and will keep the pre-bed sugar levels manageable.

Play hide and seek

The beauty of hide and seek is that there’s literally zero set up required. Get the whole family involved and you can play this for hours. Especially with older kids.

Use a cardboard box to play “car”

If you have a toddler or preschooler, this game is sure to be a hit. Grab a cardboard box, laundry basket or tote. Load your kiddos in and start pushing it around like you’re on a race track. If you have carpet or it’s difficult to push, throw on a race track tune using, a music streaming service or YouTube and play pretend the kids are flying towards the finish line.

Freeze dance

Kids of all ages will have a blast at this game. It’s a great way to burn off some energy before bed as well. Blast your favorite tunes and get moving. Stop the song and everyone has to freeze in place. Toddlers may struggle with the standing still part but they will have a great time dancing anyway.

Musical chairs

This game will require more than two people so big families this one is for you. Set up a ring of chairs with one less chair than the amount of people you have. One person controls the music while the others circle around the chairs. When the music stops everyone grabs a chair as quickly as possible. The person standing without a chair is out for that round. The last one to grab the chair in the last round wins!

Hot potato

Have the family sit in a circle. If you don’t actually have a potato, chose any item that’s light and soft enough to throw. With one person controlling the music, those seated in the circle pass the item around until the music stops. Whoever is left holding the item when the music stops is out. Those remaining go on to the next round until there’s only one person left.

I spy

This is an easy game to play in the front yard, on the patio or looking out of a window. You and the kiddos can take turns spying different colored cars, animals, people wearing hats and so on.

Bounce balls on a sheet

Using a large sheet place a couple of balls in the center. Everyone grabs an end of the sheet and bounces the balls up in to the air. Smaller children will especially get a kick out of seeing the balls bounce everywhere. If you have another adult, each of you holds an end and have your little one run under the sheet for some extra fun.

Take a walk

Talking a simple walk around the block doesn’t have to take longer than 10 minutes. If you have time and are enjoying yourselves go a little longer. Don’t go crazy packing snacks and drinks like you’re going on a road trip. Just literally grab any essentials if you’re setting out with a baby for example and go! Using a stroller, bike, scooter or wagon is just fine too. If you have a family dog, this is a great way to get them out and include them on the fun.

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That Time We Took Two Babies To Italy And Had A Blast – Traveling With Kids

In between the bustle of the move, we packed the clan and set out for a 10-day trip to Italy! Packing for an 8 month old and a 2.5 year old was an intimidating task but I decided to go with the less is more approach. When I was planning for the trip, I did a lot of research from other parents to get some ideas for anything that would make the journey as smooth as possible. I wanted to share a post of what worked for us and what didn’t when traveling internationally with two small children. We had some wins and some fails for sure!

Our itinerary:

We decided to fly direct to Rome in the afternoon in the hopes that they would sleep on part of the flight since we’d be landing in the morning in Italy. On the way home, we left in the late morning, thinking they would take a long nap and then just push through to bed time in Chicago so we could get them oriented. We also flew home on Thursday so we’d have the weekend to get them acclimated. This system actually worked for the most part. The 2nd night back in the states was the night our baby was actually awake in the middle of the night. I’m thinking Thursday she was just so exhausted and then Friday it took her that full day to get her days and nights back together. Thankfully, she was back to sleeping through the night by Saturday.

In between Rome, we took a high speed train down to Naples where we would stay in the Amalfi Coast for the remainder of the trip. We didn’t want to have too many legs to the trip that involved carrying luggage and uprooting the littles so we stuck to day trips on ferries and one overnight stay away from our main hub in Sorrento. This was totally doable and it was awesome not to have to bring the full luggage around with us everyday.

Here’s a run down of what I packed for the kiddos and why:

  • Clothes – I stuck to the bare minimum!
    • 1.5 outfits per day
    • 2 pairs of shoes for each
    • 2 swim suits
    • 1 coverup
    • 1 swim hat
    • Sunglasses
    • 2 pairs of PJs
  • Sleepsack, lovey
  • Sound machineour sound machine was plugged in to an outlet adapter and it fried on the 1st plug in! We ended up using the sleep pillow app on our iPad so beware of that! If you can use a surge protector or something similar you may be fine but ours short circuited and we had to toss it
  • 75% of the diapers needed and we bought more there to save suitcase room
  • A small backpack to use as the daily diaper bag
  • 2 baby carries, which were the best things to have…the sidewalks are often too narrow for the stroller and our toddler likes to run and walk and I was paranoid she would step off the street and right in to a Vespa! So for my own sanity, the carrier was amazing when she became overtired and wouldn’t hold our hands and stay on the sidewalk
  • Stroller- we left our double uppa baby vista, as we figured the wheels would be too big. We bought the Joovy caboose instead where our 8 month old could have a seat and our 2 year old count stand on the back or sit if she chose to. If you’re using this as a double stroller for long days walking, I wouldn’t recommend it. The seats aren’t conducive to two kids napping well. Often, I just had the baby on me and our toddler slept in the stroller. She did sleep but she always seemed uncomfortable. For quick grocery store runs or things like that, I think it’s great! But long days where you want them comfortable and able to take stroller naps, it was tough in this when you use both seats
  • Snack cups/Assorted snacks
  • Water cups
  • Small amount of assorted toys
  • My hand pump and 2 bottles to pump in to for after bedtime emergencies when I went out with my sister or my husband and the other was back sleeping with the girls *I’m still nursing her on demand so this worked well for me. If you need to carry on a cooler of milk, I’ve heard great things about companies that will ship it safely to your hotel and you can also ship it back to the states to your home. I haven’t used these services, but they’re out there and worth looking in to!
  • Travel bottle drying rack with ravel size dapple bottle soap
  • iPad
  • Headphones for our toddlerwe purchased a pair of cloth headphones that can be worn like a headband thinking she would keep them on if she didn’t notice them…she didn’t even keep them on for a second! Maybe we’ll try again 
  • My sister! The most important tip I can offer is to bring help! It was a huge bonus to have an extra set of hands! This was a family vacation so she wasn’t there in an official childcare capacity but she helped imensely. If you’re planning a trip, it can’t hurt to ask family members if they’d also like to go. More formal childcare or nannies are also an option if you have someone available to ask. She was a life saver and it was some great sister/auntie time!

That’s the low down of our trip! It was a great time and even though it was daunting, it was completely worth it! The memories and pictures we have are something we’ll never forget. A lot of people said, it was crazy to go when the girls were too young to remember it but my husband and I have the memories and that’s priceless. If you’re considering an international trip with littles, know that there will be chaotic times and meltdowns but life is too short to stay home! Take the trip. When in doubt, always take the trip! This is the stuff you’ll remember about your life. Your baby being home for their 10:00am nap is not.

The Big Move

WE. DID. IT. We actually moved. I realize, that our move was pretty average compared to a 5,000 square foot home, across the country or something of that scale, but to us it was a big accomplishment. The upside to moving from our condo, to an apartment and then to the home we’re now in, all in 8 months is that you definitely learn to purge. Even as I type this, I know my husband is rolling his eyes that I’m a hoarder but I’m really working on becoming one of those mythical minimalists.

Aside from the move, we’re also doing some minor cosmetic renovations including, re-finishing the basement floor, playroom built ins and giving the kitchen a mini-facelift complete with a new backsplash, new hardware, and a new faucet.

To add to the chaos that is moving with small children, we’re off on our first international trip with the kiddos in a week! Say some prayers for us!

From now until then we’re getting more and more boxes unpacked and the house is becoming a little more live-able. There’s a long to-do list in terms of organization and unpacking but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and that’s pretty exciting!

Here are some before photos and some plans I’ve drawn up on my new favorite website, roomsketcher.com (beware, it’s addicting!).

BEFORE PHOTOS (FROM THE REAL ESTATE LISTING WEBSITE)

THE WORK IN PROGRESS

 

Check back for the playroom reveal in a couple of weeks!

Making Space For Stuff

I mentioned in my last post that room and space have been a constant struggle in our household recently. To give you a little back story, we sold our condo right before our daughter Lucy was born this past summer. A house we were purchasing fell through and we moved in to an amazingly convenient apartment just down the street. The apartment is really beautiful with a view of the Chicago skyline and the convenience factors can’t be beat. We have an elevator, a heated garage and our daycare is literally on the corner. From a commuting standpoint for me, my office is only a few train stops away so I can be door to door in about 20 minutes.

As a very pregnant person at the time of our move, I was reluctant to believe we could make it work in about 1,000 square feet. As I write this, I know I made a mountain out of a molehill  because we’re 7 months in and we have all survived just fine! Our apartment has a surprising amount of storage and we put anything nonessential in to another storage facility down the street.

Also as I write this, we are under contract on a new home. We’re set to move in May. I’m excited to start making a home for our girls and for our dog to finally have a yard of her own!

Living in the city we’ve always had to be creative with our space and storage. This home will be a huge space upgrade but as it stands, it could definitely use some better organization and use of space. It is still in the city and with two little ones, it’s easy to get every room taken over by toys and baby gadgets.

As a couple we’re actually not terrible at purging and donating. I definitely have a mild hoarding streak but I try to keep it in check. The cozy living arrangement of the past few months has put a lot in perspective for me. I don’t need half the stuff I have, the girls will grow up just as happy without that giant toy and babies grow out of stuff so quickly you have to save your energy for more important things.

I’ll be sharing quite a few posts in the near future on before and afters of various spaces in the home and some things we’re going to attempt to DIY.

Making Space For Time

Space is a common topic in my household these days. It’s a constant shuffle to make space for toys, clothes, giant diaper boxes and everything else little humans require. Then there’s the on going battle to make space for the things we need and want to do. Time for work, playing, cleaning, cooking, bathing little bums, working out, bathing ourselves!

I thought this topic would be an appropriate one to open up the new blog as its aptly named, The Room For More.

Since becoming a mother 2.5 years ago, I definitely let myself fall in to the trap that I don’t have the room, literally or mentally to write. I’d blog here and there and was lucky enough to be a guest on Windy City Live when my first, Maddie was 8 months old, but I never gave it the same priority I had before becoming pregnant. My previous writings were geared toward events and things to do in Chicago on a budget. As a very sick pregnant person, going out on the town wasn’t exactly on my agenda. With baby number two, I struggled again with the idea of writing about events and places I wasn’t going to anymore.

Finally, as our second, Lucy neared the 6 month mark, I redefined how I was going about the concept of writing. What I was writing about and when could be different. I’m not the same person I was before and I should stop trying so hard to over think it! So as I write this today, I’m writing about my life as it is – a working parent of two, a wife, a dog mother to my first born, a graphic designer and thankfully, a writer once more!

Much due to the nudging from my husband, that I have more time than I think I do. I eventually believed him and started paying more attention to time, space and the room I have in my own life. For me, there’s time to write while on the train, after the girls go to sleep, before the girls wake up (which seems to only be getting earlier BTW) and as a nursing mother of a 6 month old, during the countless hours pumping!

I’ve realized there’s ALWAYS space for what you want to do and there’s ALWAYS ROOM FOR MORE.

I’m looking forward to sharing my adventures again and dusting off the old writing cap. It’s good to be back.