Six years ago, we lived in a camper. When we moved from Wisconsin to Florida six years ago we moved into a 26 foot camper with our two daughters (ages 2&3) for several months while we looked for where we wanted to settle down. Five years later we did the same move in reverse, this […]
Six years ago, we lived in a camper.
When we moved from Wisconsin to Florida six years ago we moved into a 26 foot camper with our two daughters (ages 2&3) for several months while we looked for where we wanted to settle down. Five years later we did the same move in reverse, this time staying in a 29 foot camper for two months while house hunting. After both of those extended stays I never dreamed that I would find myself choosing to live in a camper with kids again – certainly not so soon. But here we are, the four of us tucked into a 24 foot camper for the duration of the summer. And I’m thrilled, because being here means that dreams are literally becoming true right before our eyes.
Finding our “dream” home.
You see, last summer we searched and searched for a home we could afford in a very specific location and school district. Of the few homes available in our price range, all had major structural issues that couldn’t be easily fixed or ignored. We were losing hope. After looking at our last possible option, we came upon a For Sale by Owner sign for a small (obviously) fixer-upper in a location I adored.
It was rough. Ugly, even.
But it was in the right location, and just a quarter mile off of a main road, but still 100% in the country. The setting felt like something out of Little House on the Prairie. We found out that the house, formerly converted from a town hall, had originally been a one room schoolhouse. With the setting and location and the history, I fell in love. Hard.
Even though the timing was short, we were able to move in.
By some not-so-small miracle, we were able to buy it and move in just weeks before school started. Shortly after, we were given the opportunity to buy a huge pole building on land that attached to our property. It took the rest of our savings – money we had planned on using to make repairs to the house – but we knew that in the long run we would never regret buying that additional property.
In the short term, though, it meant that the four of us and our cat would be living in an ugly, poorly insulated, 850 square foot space for (what turned out to be) a brutal Wisconsin winter.
We were able to make some initial renovations.
We did end up doing some fairly major demolition right away, removing the crooked, awkwardly placed side building that we called “the wart.” This housed the water heater and pressure tank and was nasty and ugly inside and out. Removing it was a major process as we had to have a well-driller come out and move the line from the well, under the extremely thick/deep/solid foundation and into the house. It was a big deal, but totally worth it in the long run!
After all of these renovations we ended up putting in over $5,000 in spray foam insulation, just to make the house liveable over the winter. We were so very glad we did, too. It was an extremely cold winter, with constant wind and multiple days of below-zero temps.
But we had also spent every last penny (and then some!) of the money we had set aside to fix the house. All winter long we’d look at the house around us and try to figure out how we would do the work that we needed to do, especially while living there. So many early mornings I would sit and stare at the space and pray for a miracle for us to be able to finish the renovations we envisioned.
We needed a miracle.
And then one day that miracle happened. The bank for one of our vehicle loans called and offered us a home equity line of credit – something we didn’t think was even possible due to the current condition of the home. The amount we were able to get was just what we needed to finish the majority of the main renovations we had planned for our home. It took almost a month to work out the details – but we used that time to finalize plans and brainstorm how we would be able to do such major work while living in the house
One night, we were sitting by the fire making plans and the thought popped into my head – “What if we could live in a camper on our property this summer and get the house done in one fell swoop.”
Living in a camper was the perfect solution!
It was the perfect answer, really. We could easily hook into water, sewer and electric at the house. There was infrastructure already in place for us to have a full size shower, washer/dryer, toilet and refrigerator in one almost-finished room of the house – we knew from experience that those amenities would make living in a camper (again!) much more doable.
Being out of the house would allow us to work much more efficiently on the huge renovation projects we had planned. (More on that soon!) We’d be able to get a demo dumpster which would save us from having to make a million runs to the dump (saving us time and money!) We’d be able to get building supplies delivered and quickly frame up rooms and put in a second floor. Other than having to live in a camper (something we knew we could do) there was no downside here.
We decided to just do it!
So, the first week of July we bought a 24 foot camper and moved it onto our property. We spent our first night there July 10th, and have completely moved out of the house – selling furniture that won’t work with the new floor plan, and moving everything else into storage.
Living in a camper isn’t easy, but it will be worth it.
It might not be my most favorite path – living in such a small space with kids is HARD – and this is the smallest camper we’ve lived in yet. But it’s the means to an end and an answer to prayer. Being able to work efficiently and not have to live in construction, while being able to finish our house this summer makes the whole experience worth it! THAT is why we’re living in a camper this summer.
There are so many things to love about the holidays: time with friends and loved ones, the spirit of giving and generosity, cozy places and twinkly lights.
But the holidays can also be stressful. We’re faced with an influx of stuff and to-do lists into our already full homes and calendars. This is why we all need to set aside some time for a pre-holiday purge. It doesn’t have to take long. In fact, I think you can make a ton of progress in just one weekend. But where to start? Here are my best tips:
Start With These Four Hot Spots in Your Pre-Holiday Purge:
Declutter Toys ASAP
If you have kids, toys should top the list for your pre-holiday purge. Take a few hours to go through everything and get rid of any toys that are broken, outgrown, or not regularly used. If your kids are a little bit older, include them in the process – help them to gather gently used or like new toys that they no longer play with and go together to donate them to a shelter or charity for kids who would truly use and appreciate them. This is a great way to help your kids grow in generosity and be less selfish – along with of course making room for the new toys that you know that they’re going to get this holiday season.
Related: How to Prep for Decluttering
Purge Your Pantry and Fridge.
This is the perfect time to purge your refrigerator and pantry, before they get filled up with baking supplies and holiday goodies! It might sound overwhelming, but if you’re focused it won’t take as long as you might think! Go through your condiments and toss anything that’s expired. Check your spices and make sure they are fresh, get rid of and replace anything that isn’t. Go through the fridge and freezer and use up or toss anything that’s been there for awhile. Take a few minutes to wipe down and organize as you go – you’ll never regret starting your holiday cooking and baking with a clean space and organized shelves.
Recommended: How to Organize Your Fridge from My Sweet Home Life
Organize Your Drop Zones.
These are the places where everybody dumps incoming mail, homework, and everything else that doesn’t have a place in your home. This only gets worse during the holidays. Take an hour or so to clean them out now, and make a plan for incoming cards and catalogues, invites, shopping receipts, etc.
Recommended: Drop Zone Organizing Ideas from Organizing Moms
Last but not least consider doing a pre-holiday purge of your schedule. Set aside an afternoon to evaluate and review your calendar and commitments. Is there anything that you can get rid of from your daily to do list? Are you committing time to things that no longer fit your goals or budget? Is there anything you can consolidate to free up more room on your calendar?
Look for ways to leave blank space on your calendar during the holiday season.
You’ll reduce stress and make time for the most important things and people in your life. Try a house cleaning service or have your groceries delivered. Freeing up time is one of the best gifts you can give yourself this holiday season, and it’s the most important step in your pre-holiday purge. For more on that, I highly recommend this post from The Art of Simple.
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Don’t you just love the feel of a clean, organized car? With all of the running around we do, it doesn’t take long for our vehicles to get that grungy, “lived-in” look. Fortunately, with a little practice it doesn’t take long to banish the grunge and bring back that new car feel – you really can declutter your car in 20 minutes or less. Here’s how:
Before You Start to Declutter Your Car…
(There are affiliate links in this post, meaning we may get a small commission from any purchases you make. Click here to read our full disclosure policy.)
1. Gather a few supplies:
- Trash bin
- Two large boxes or laundry baskets
- Cleaning cloths or rags
- All purpose cleaner (we like this one) or cleaning wipes.
2. Take everything out of the car.
Open all doors and the trunk. Starting at the front passenger seat, work clockwise around the vehicle. Toss any trash in the bin. Put anything that needs to stay in the car in one basket. Put everything else in the other.
3. Quickly wipe down the main surfaces.
Clean off the dash, steering wheel, mirrors and windows. This is not the time to detail the car – just get it as clean as you can in 2-5 minutes.
4. Find places for the essentials.
All those items in the first box or basket need their own designated home in the car. Important paperwork goes in the glove compartment (use a document envelope like this to keep things clean and organized). Stash your first aid kit and a working flashlight under the front seat. Only put what you need back in the car, and make sure each item has a place to call home.
5. Donate or distribute the rest.
Quickly sort through the second box or basket. Put away anything that belongs in the house, and donate anything you don’t need.
Bonus tip: when you’re done, spritz your car with a few sprays of your favorite room spray!
6. You’re done!
See? It doesn’t have to take long to declutter your car! And the more often you do it the faster you’ll be. This is great to do on a regular basis, OR the perfect prep for taking your car to a wash-and-vacuum place.
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Unless you take long trips by car very frequently, you probably don’t have road trip routines. But you totally should! Every just like in every other area of life routines have a magical power to keep things simple and on track – exactly what you need for a road trip!
Here are four road trip routines that make everything easier:
(There are affiliate links in this post, meaning we may get a small commission from any purchases you make. . Click here to read our full disclosure policy.)
1. Try these road trip routines before you head out:
Create a routine for what needs to be done before you head out for the day. On shorter day trips this might just be something that you do once but for longer trips it’s so helpful to start every morning on the road in the same way.
Here are some ideas for what to put on your “Before Heading Out” road trip routine:
- When you’re loading up, make sure to load frequently used items last so that they are easy to access if needed throughout your day. (Think: coolers, snacks, diaper bag, extra blanket.)
- Start each road trip day with an empty trash container/bag in an easy to reach spot.
- Make sure each person in the car has a beverage and/or snack, activity and extra clothing layer within reach.
- Check tire pressure, fluids and fuel levels before you go.
2. Create a road trip routine for stops along the way.
When traveling on US Interstates we try to stop no more than every two hours. What this looks like for us is that every other stop will fuel up our vehicle and on the other stops we try if it all possible to use a rest stop instead of a gas station or convenience stores. This saves us money and makes getting in and out much quicker. Also rest stops usually have more room to walk around and stretch your legs.
Here’s the routine we use for each and every road trip stop:
- Every person in the car uses the bathroom whether they “need” to or not. Click here to read our simple trick for keeping everyone hydrated without having to make extra bathroom stops.
- Do a quick trash pick up and toss in the public trash can on your way into the restroom.
- Clean up any toys/activities/etc. Tuck things away and just take a minute to generally tidy everything.
- Just like when you started out for the morning, make sure each person has an activity/snack/beverage/extra layer handy.
3. Set up road trip routines for when you stop for the night:
Stopping for the night is the biggest reset of all, especially when you’re on a longer trip. As tempting as it is to pile into the hotel room and crash in the bed, or hot tub, what will help the most is to make sure you’re set for the morning before you relax for the night.
- Empty all of the trash out of the car. Clean up toys and activities, and make sure that you’re grabbing everything you need for your stay for the night.
- Don’t forget to grab water bottles and snacks for while you’re in your hotel room, plus any activities or books to read while you’re winding down for the evening.
- Last but not least, reset all of your luggage so that it will be easy to pack up again in the morning when you’re headed up out of your hotel. The more organizing you do as you go the easier it will be to get in and out without too much hassle.
4. Start an end of road trip routine:
Debrief with your crew. Ask questions as you’re get close to home. Find out what everyone’s favorite parts of the trip were. What wasn’t great? What would we like to do more of next time?
Take note of these mental notes, but write them down of course! Along your trip make note of inexpensive stops, great restaurants, and hotels that have pet friendly policies, if that applies to you. What are things that you wish you had brought along on this trip? Write these down so you’ll remember them for future road trips.
Save all your receipts.
This may sound like a weird tip, but saving all of our receipts has been so helpful in planning future road trips! Not only do you have hard copy records in case there are any credit card disputes, but you also have a to the penny record of how much your trip cost. This data is so helpful for budgeting future trips.
Reset right away.
Unpack and do laundry as soon as you can once you’re home. Quick clean the car. Restock toiletry bags and other travel essentials before packing your luggage away.
Routines are the saving grace of a busy life, and our road trip routines have made travel so much easier for our family. Is there anything you would add? Please comment! Was this post helpful? Please spread the love by sharing the link with your friends!
Do you need to simplify your smartphone? For many of us, our phones are part of our living space – an office, hangout, or even our view to the outside world. And just like our physical spaces, our phones get clogged up with unnecessary junk that causes distraction, frustration and even anxiety.
Here’s how to break that cycle, and simplify your smartphone so it’s a calming and peaceful part of your life. (As much as possible anyway!)
Define your priorities.
List out why you have a phone in the first place. What is your main reason for having a cell phone? Who are the most important people that will be contacting you? Are you using the phone for business or just personal reasons? Is it a time waster or a productive part of your day?
Answering these questions will help you determine what is essential on your phone and what needs to go. Defining your priorities is the first step to help you simplify your smartphone.
Create a list of your essential peeps.
Make a list of the important people and places who call your phone. Think close friends and family, your child’s school or daycare, important co-workers and businesses like your primary doctor and insurance agent.
Set these peeps as favorites. Assign unique ringtones to anyone whose call you would hate to miss, and do the same for text notification tones if needed. Do this and you’ll know immediately if a call is one you’ll need to take right away.
On a similar note, if you get frequent spam calls or texts immediately block that number or set to a specific ringtone that alerts you to NOT waste your time picking up.
Make sure to set up do not disturb.
Do not disturb is one of my favorite smartphone features. Basically, you can set your phone to silence all incoming calls or notifications for a certain amount of time, as needed or on a regular basis. You can also set it to allow certain numbers, usually those on your favorite list to come through while it silences all other notifications and calls. Set up do not disturb for any time that incoming calls and notifications would be an unwelcome interruption to your day.
Set up auto backup for photos and important details.
While you’re taking the time to simplify your smartphone don’t forget to set up auto backup for any important files or details. Whether you use an app native to your phone or find one specific for the purpose, you’ll never regret backing up your phone. Make sure especially to backup photos and contacts. Knowing this is being taken care of in the background will definitely help to bring you peace of mind.
My favorite app for backing up photos is good ol’ Google Photos. It’s great on both android and iPhone and your photos will all be there (and accessible by PC) should you ever switch devices:
Hide or remove non-essential apps.
These days every phone comes with apps that you don’t necessarily need or want. Take the time to either hide or remove these apps as they are a source of visual clutter. This is also a great time to delete any apps that you’ve downloaded and no longer need or use. You might also want to look into apps that will serve more than one purpose so that you can reduce the overall number of apps on your phone.
Set notifications on all of your essential apps.
This is super important! Go through each and every app that you leave on your phone and set the notifications. Try to keep push notifications to an absolute minimum. Decide which apps need a badge notification as well (this is the little red circle that tells you how many emails or how many Facebook notifications you have). You should turn badge notifications off unless they are absolutely essential. It’s amazing how much this one little step will bring peace to your life.
Know your rabbit holes.
We all have apps that suck us in, keeping us hostage until hours later we realize that we’re still on our phone and wasting our life. Knowing your rabbit holes is huge. If an app is not essential and becomes a problem to you delete it from your phone. It doesn’t have to be a permanent decision, even just taking a break from having Facebook or Pinterest on your phone can make a huge difference in how much peace you have using that device.
This is a great way to become more mindful and to help you know where your addictions lie. If it turns out that you do need that app for business or some productive purpose you can always download it again and use it wisely. On that note,
Organize your apps by purpose.
Another amazing way to a simplify your smartphone is to organize your apps just like you would a physical space. Figure out which apps you need to have on your home screen and which ones would be better out of sight and out of mine. You may wish to group your apps by type and even group into folders for infrequently used apps.
Divide and conquer.
It’s easy to use our phones for every single purpose in our lives, but we don’t actually have to. If you have more than one device, divide and conquer so that you’ll have more peace in your life. We do this with our wake up alarms. My husband and I have decided not to have cell phones in the bedroom overnight, so we use an app on our tablet instead of using our phone for the alarm. I also use my Kindle to shop or read in the evening so that I won’t get phone or text notifications right before bed, and I don’t have social media apps on that device. It also has a blue light filter which allows me to get better sleep after using it late at night. Not using your phone for every little thing will definitely help to simplify your smartphone and bring more peace.
Be intentional moving forward.
Once you’ve taken the time to simplify your smartphone be intentional about moving forward. Don’t put apps on your phone that you don’t need. If you do download something that doesn’t work as well as you thought delete it right away. If you have a tablet or other device see if you can use that to fill some of the purposes that you would otherwise use your phone for.
These tips are simple, but they really work. It doesn’t take a lot of time to simplify your smartphone but it’s so worth it for the peace that it can bring to that part of your life.
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We love to road trip as a family and there are few tips that I’ve learned that make everything so much easier. One of the best things I’ve learned is how to stay hydrated on a road trip without having to make a million bathroom stops. This road trip hydration trick is especially helpful as a parent traveling with kids (though it works for all ages!) I’m so excited to share it today.
Road trip hydration is important – here’s why:
(There are affiliate links in this post, meaning we may get a small commission from any purchases you make. . Click here to read our full disclosure policy.)
Staying hydrated on road trips is super important. You’re exposed to all sorts of new germs, and making sure you stay hydrated is a great way to support your immune system on the trip. Plus there’s nothing like riding in an air-conditioned vehicle all day long to really dry you out. But how do you stay on top of drinking water without having to make a million extra stops?
Here’s how we do it:
We plan to stop every two hours, but not more unless someone is ill or it’s absolutely necessary. And, for every bathroom stop we make, everyone in the vehicle has to at least try to go the bathroom. Then we implement…
Our road trip hydration hack that works every time:
About 45 minutes before we plan to stop we hand out the water bottles and encourage everyone to drink up. This allows everyone to get a good amount of water in, with enough time for it to filter through our systems in time for the next bathroom break.
DISCLAIMER: We don’t keep our kids from drinking in between times but the idea is to just take sips of water if you’re thirsty and wait to really fill up until it’s almost time for your next stop.
We also don’t encourage drinking a lot of juice or sodas on our trip, because it seems like everybody downs those a lot faster – making for more bathroom stops. However, for a kid who’s not keen on drinking a lot of water at once I do hand out these low sugar lemonade pouches or these healthy drink mix packets when it’s hydration time to encourage them to drink more liquids at once before we stop.
This tip isn’t just for kids!
I actually learned this in college while making 12-hour trips home and back with a friend on holiday breaks. She had a super fuel efficient vehicle, and was committed to only stopping once in 12 hours to refuel. (Crazy! I know!!) Her rule for anyone who rode with her was that they needed to bring their own drinks and snacks and that she wasn’t making any extra stops.
I learned to not drink at all except for tiny sips for most of the trip and then I would drink one or two bottles of water about an hour before we stopped so that I wouldn’t really need to use the restroom until then. In the years since I’ve used this with my kids and taught my husband the same trick. It works! Thank you Amanda from college.
- How to Road Trip with a Cat
- 30 Frugal & Healthy Road Trip Snacks
- How to Make a DIY Travel Kitchen and Save Money on Road Trips
- 10 Road Trip Essentials That Could Save You Hundreds
This road trip hydration trick has saved us SO many headaches and unnecessary stops on the road. I hope it’s as helpful to you as it has been for us. If so, please help spread the love by sharing the link with your friends!
Do you long for more adventure in your life? The truth is, adventure is already here – we just need to learn how to make room for it in our lives.
Here are 11 simple ways that YOU can make room for adventure in your life:
(There are affiliate links in this post, meaning we may get a small commission from any purchases you make. . Click here to read our full disclosure policy.)
Own less stuff.
Is your stuff really holding you back from having more adventure in your life? It totally could be!
Think about what your life would look like if you had less dishes, laundry and household chores each week. What if your garage was clear and organized, with JUST the stuff you used on a regular basis?
Keeping your belongings pared down to only what you actually need and use is so freeing! Most of the time you don’t even realize how much excess stuff is weighing you down until you get rid of it. De-cluttering and downsizing is a great way to make room for more adventure in your life.
Related: How to Prep for Decluttering
Pay down debt.
Speaking of things that weigh you down, that is another huge thing to get rid of if you want to have more adventure in your life. Imagine what your finances would look like if you had little to no consumer debt. What would you do with the extra? If you’re like me you would use that to go on more adventures! Paying down debt is a fantastic way to make more room for adventure in your life.
Choose a flexible job or business.
Now this won’t work for everyone, but if you are willing to make significant life changes, choosing a job or business that is extremely flexible is essential to making more room for adventure in your life. When you own your own time it is way easier to travel in the off-season. You’ll get better deals on attractions and excursions, and just overall have more fun. Plus, if you’re able to work on the road, you’ll be able to offset some of the cost of your adventures.
If you work in a profession that isn’t as flexible, make the most of the time that you do have. Don’t fill up your vacation time with cleaning out the garage and working around the house. Go on adventures! And on that note,
Leave room in your schedule for adventure.
Don’t leave your calendar so packed that you don’t have room for adventure. Just like you don’t want to own too much stuff for be weighed down with debt, leave some breathing room and your day-to-day schedule so that when the urge hits you can take off and do something fun. Also,
Try new things.
Check out a new coffee shop, go on a hike with friends. Check out Groupon for discounted meals, excursions and experiences – it’s a great way to find new experiences in an unfamiliar city… or even your home town.
Cultivate a sense of wonder.
Sometimes we can get so jaded by life we stop seeing the beauty and adventure that’s all around us. What we need to do then, it’s just simply open her eyes and appreciate the world we live in. Look around you there may be new friends to make new places to explore right in front of your nose. Cultivating a sense of wonder may be the most important way to have more adventure in your life.
Budget for it.
If having more adventure is important to you you need to make room for it in your budget. There are so many ways to do this! Learn to scrimp and save in other areas so that you’ll have more room for adventure in your budget. There are so many ideas around the web for how to do this, here are a couple to get you started:
Purchase basic gear.
It’s way easier to go on adventures if you have the right gear. Good walking/hiking shoes, a sturdy backpack and a stock of sunscreen and bug spray are good start, but where you go from there it’s really up to you. You might want to start building a stash of high-quality camping supplies, or rock climbing gear. Or you could invest in a kayak or mountain bike. To save money, try renting or borrowing the gear you want to try before you make the financial leap to buy it. Overall though, having the right gear make it way easier to go on adventures when the mood strikes!
Find adventurous friends.
Having adventurous friends is a guaranteed way to have more adventure in your life. But what if your friends are only interested in spa days or movie nights? I’m not saying you need to ditch those friends, but you may need to find some new ones or at least feel out the ones you have to see who else is interested in a more adventurous life. Put the word out on social media that you’re looking for adventure buddies – you might be surprised at who you find!
Look for adventurous ways to volunteer.
There are so many ways that you can make the world a better place and have more adventure in your life at the same time. Look for community groups who are building houses, cleaning up the environment, or even traveling overseas to provide aid to distressed people groups. When you find adventurous ways to volunteer, you’ll not only improve your own life – you’ll be making the world a better place. It’s a win win.
Just Do It.
There is no perfect way to be adventurous, but there are a million good ones. And you won’t even know what you like until you try it so get out there and just do it! Try new things, meet new people. See the world. If you can’t do it right now, start making room in your life so that you can do it soon. There is nothing better than a life of adventure, the people that you meet in the things that you do make memories that last a lifetime. So get out there and make it happen!
For more great articles about living a life of adventure click here. Did this post help you in some way? Please spread the love by sharing the link with your friends!
Road trips are a ton of fun but they can also be really stressful too especially if you’re not prepared. There are some things you can do though to make sure that you’ll have a stress-free trip as possible. Here are four things to prep before your next trip.
Stress reducing road trip prep:
Get your car serviced.
It seems like a common-sense advice but taking your car in for a quick check and service is something that so easy to forget in your road trip prep. It doesn’t take very long and it’s definitely worth it! Getting your car serviced before you go can even prevent costly repairs on the road.
Clean and declutter your car.
There is nothing worse than starting off a road trip and an already cluttered up and grungy car. Taking the time to vacuum, wipe everything down, and get rid of any unnecessary clutter will definitely start your trip on the right foot. This is also a great time to find containers to organize any stuff that needs to stay in the car so it’s not just rolling around.
Check your emergency equipment.
Is your spare tire is filled with air? Do you know where your jack and tire iron is? Do you know how to use them? Is there a working first aid kit in the car? Are all of the contents fresh and up-to-date? Answering these questions will make sure that you’re prepared for any minor emergencies that arise on the trip. It’s not fun to think about them, but let’s face it life happens. It’s just better to be prepared.
Do a quick document check.
You’ll want to make sure that your license and registration are up-to-date before setting out on your next road trip, but that’s not the only paperwork to have on hand. Make sure you have proper identification for children if you’re taking them out of state, as well as any info for roadside assistance, updated health insurance cards, and any other documents you might need should an emergency arise on the road.
Take some time in your road trip prep to make sure you’re on top of these four things. It doesn’t take long, and can make all the difference in reducing stress while you’re on the road. You will never ever regret being prepared.
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Last week I shared with you about toy timeouts and why we love them so much. If you haven’t had a chance to read that post you can do so by clicking here. Today I wanted to share something we use just as much: Toy Jail.
So what’s the difference between Toy Jail and a Toy Timeout?
Toy timeouts are meant to give kids time and space to process why they are losing the privilege of playing with that toy. Just like a kid timeout, it gives them time to think. A toy might end up in timeout for as little as 5 minutes, or as long as a week, but they’ll always get it back when the time is up. Toy jail is similar, but with one distinct difference: If a toy gets sent to toy jail the child will always have to do something to earn it back.
Related: Why Kids Need to be Bored
We use Toy Jail for the following situations:
- If toys aren’t being cared for properly.
- If toys are left out after the child’s been asked to put them away (and of course, has been given reasonable time to do so).
- And sometimes if toys are being played with in an inappropriate way. (This is a scenario where sometimes we use a toy time out, but if the situation is more serious or is a recurring issue, the toy might actually go into Toy Jail and need to be earned back.)
How are toys earned back from Toy Jail?
Our kids can earn toys back from toy jail several different ways. At first we started just having them do an age appropriate chore in order to earn the toy back. Now we have a system of reward tickets that they earn throughout the day (more on that soon) and one of the ways our kids can choose to use those tickets to buy toys back out of toy jail.
So why do we love Toy Jail SO much?
Toy jail is an awesome parenting tool, because it’s a real life natural consequence. It just makes so much sense to lose the privilege of playing with a toy for a time if it hasn’t been cleaned up or cared for properly. And having to actually earn it back really solidifies that lesson in a child’s mind.
But my favorite thing about toy jail is that it has helped me to weed out toys that my kids say they care about, but really don’t.
You see when it’s time to sort through the toy basket for items to throw away or donate there can be so much drama. My kids turn into little hoarders and they don’t want to get rid of anything. But I’ve learned, if it toy ends up in toy jail it is a great test to see if they actually care enough to earn it back.
Related: Our Journey Towards Minimalism
If they’ve had the chance to earn a toy back several times and don’t decide to do so it’s automatically going in the donate box.
(They know this.) And that has been a great way for us to weed out toys without the normal drama and tears and gnashing of teeth. In fact, many times when given the choice between earning a toy back or donating it my girls have actually chosen to donate it and that is an awesome thing. It’s a win win for everyone!
Now, even though my kids get the opportunity to earn toys back from toy jail, they don’t always get to do so right away.
If the toy has been taken away because they were using it inappropriately, it might have to stay in jail for up to a month before they’ll even have the chance to earn it back. This is a great addition to the natural consequences of the toy being taken away in the first place and gives them a lot of time to think about what they might do differently next time.
Just like any parenting tool, this won’t work for every kid or every situation.
It works best when implemented with lots of love and respect for everyone involved. But it is a fabulous tool, and something that has helped us to gently provide real world consequences and (hopefully) equip our kids to succeed in the real challenges of life.
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Travel is amazing no matter how you slice it, but there is something extra special about sharing a trip with the one you love. This has definitely held true for us, in fact choosing to travel together has been one of the most enriching things we’ve ever done for our relationship.
Here are 7 ways that travel together will strengthen your bond as a couple:
1.You’ll see the world through their eyes.
Is there anything better than experiencing new places or stunning scenery hand in hand with the one you love?
2. You’ll find out things about each other that you never knew.
Whether it’s a scenic reminder of an unshared memory, or a plate of food that includes an ingredient you didn’t realize he hated, travel together brings up best stuff!
3.You’ll build unique memories as a couple that will strengthen your bond.
It’s science. New experiences, new food, shared experiences – just look at how many travel-related things made it on this list!
4. You’ll find space to regroup away from everyday distractions.
Sometimes this is just what you need to get perspective and create a plan of action together.
5. You’ll have some of the best talks ever.
It seems like new scenery always sparks new conversations. Remember when you were dating and could talk about nothing for hours? Travel together can bring you right back to that sweet spot.
6. You’ll have the chance to overcome challenges together.
It’s these experiences – getting lost, seasick, or even just disrupted plans for the day – (and overcoming them) that strengthen your relationship most of all.
7. You’ll experience the adventure factor.
Being in new places doing new things with the one you love breathes new life into your relationship. This article from Lifehack explains it so well.