My Not So Perfect Life Book Review

One of my favorite things to do during nap time, or while waiting for kiddos to get out of a class, is to read! I love everything from thrillers to love stories, but I really love a good book that I never want to put down. With school and working 3 jobs it can be hard to find time to read nowadays, so when I do it has to be good. I just finished My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella, and it was definitely one of those I never want to put down books! I thought I would share some of my thoughts on it and why it is so perfect for any woman young or old.

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First off the main character is SO relatable! Katie is a 25 year old trying to make her name in the branding world in London. She has put in her time, at not so great jobs, so she could land the perfect one right in the heart of London. She moved from the countryside and adopted a new nickname and personality with it, all in hope of having “the perfect life” in London. While she thinks its going to be fabulous to live in London, she soon learns life in the city is not so glamorous. Katie is such a hard worker (another thing to love about her!) and so determined. This story touches on the idea that you can put out anything you want social media to make your life look perfect. While her life is far from perfect in London her Instagram tells a different story. It shows her drinking chic lattes in hip restaurants and loving the big city life.

The other main character Demeter, Katie’s boss. I think a lot of working moms would find her very relatable. To Katie she seems to have the perfect life but as the story unfolds you, and Katie, learn that things aren’t always as they seem on social media. Demeter is a 40something executive working in branding with a husband and 2 kids at home. In the most unlikely of circumstances Katie and Demeter find out they have much more in common than they thought.

I think the “don’t always believe what you see on social media” idea that this book puts out is so poignant and relevant to today’s world. I know just today I was scrolling through Instagram thinking about this one girl I know, who has amazing pictures from traveling all over the world, must have the most perfect life. This book reminded me though that I have no basis for those thoughts besides her Instagram pictures which don’t necessarily mean she has the best time ever. I find it really hard to not be envious of people on Instagram or Facebook. After reading this book my envy of others through their Facebook or Instagram posts is something I am going to try can care less about, because you never know if their life really is that perfect.

This book also hits on how hard it is to grow up and still stay true to your roots. It is something Katie struggles constantly with throughout the book but luckily with a happy ending proving you can after all find a balance. There is also a love story element to the book which I think is always fun 🙂 The relationship shows a glimpse of the struggles of dating in your twenties.

Overall I thought this book was great! Definitely worth a read. It’s a really easy book to read, lighthearted yet a page turner. I haven’t loved all of Sophie Kinsella’s books but My Not So Perfect Life is a hit. Let me know if you read it and whether or not you like it!

xoxo

Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2017

Goodbyes are not the end

Hello and happy Tuesday to all the lovely mommies, nannies, and caregivers out there! The Nanny Guide has been on a bit of a hiatus… Crazy end of spring and summer! Loss, love, and laughter all included in 5 months. BUT now I am back and plan to be much more consistent as the fall air and routine sets back in!

With the new school year beginning my little Ruby is off to PreK, and I’m back full time at school and working as a teacher in a local daycare for a little different experience. As sad as I am to be closing my chapter as Ruby’s nanny, I know she will always have a place in my life and I will always have a place in hers. As my old friend Dr. Seuss once said “don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” #rubyworld This is one thing that is very important to me when it comes to leaving a nanny family.

If possible maintain contact with the family and their little ones. If you have worked with them for a year or more, you have become part of their family or at least an integral part of the children’s lives. If you just disappear and never come back that can be very hard on a little one and can leave them feeling hurt and sad. Now I know this isn’t possible in every circumstance (they/you move, bad experience with family), I think it is important to try to make time for them if you can. That said here are some of my favorite ways to spend some special times with all my past nanny kiddos.

  • Have a nanny date night! Take them out to dinner somewhere fun and catch up with them. Ask them about school or sports or life in general. The best part is this doesn’t have to be some fancy, exciting restaurant. Most kids grin ear to ear if you mention going to McDonalds! Another date night idea is to take them to a fun movie in theaters. This was always a hit with my older nanny babies. We have even found an inexpensive local movie theater where tickets are just $2.50.
  • Give them a framed picture of the two of you. I love doing this for my kiddos, young img_5408and old. If you have a fun, cute picture you love of the two of you (or all of you if you have multiples) frame it and give it to them. You can pick up a nice, inexpensive frame at Target or Michael’s Craft store. If you have a printer and a good deal on ink, I suggest printing at home because you are just printing one picture. However, if you don’t have access to a printer at home check out your local Walgreens to see what there deals on photos are right now. Usually you can find a good coupon on there for 40% off 4 by 6 prints or prints for 10 cents, etc. Then send in your order and you can most likely pick it up that day. Walgreens has a super easy to use app that makes this process even simpler.
  • Plan something special for the 2 of you around their birthday. Instead of just getting them a present or card, I like to plan a special outing for the 2 of us so we can spend some quality time together. I try to think of fun special things that parents wouldn’t easily be able to do with their kids. One time I took an old nanny baby to get a pedicure and she about died! She felt so grown up and I relished in the smiles and giggles. Other things I’ve done include taking one of the boys out to a local baseball game, and taken a girl out to tea at the American Girl Place. I’ve done the American Girl Place multiple times now with different kids and it’s always a MAJOR hit! I highly suggest this if you live near one.
  • Send them mail! Most little kids rarely get mail and if they do it is the greatest thing ever. Clarification: THIS IS NOT AN EMAIL (most young kids don’t have an email anyways haha) Go the traditional route and mail them a handwritten card or letter. This small gesture is minimal in cost (think paper, envelope, stamp) and means a lot to the children and the parents. If the child is old enough you could even write down a few questions for them in your letter so they can write you one back! Pen pals have never been so cool 🙂
  • Ask the parents if they want to go on a date night and you can babysit! I have heard from a lot of parents that they don’t want to ask you to babysit too often because they don’t want to burn you out. While that may be the case for some, for me I would spend every weekend babysitting if I could 🙂 Shoot one of your families a text every so often asking if they want a night out any weekend in x month. All the families I’ve worked for have been more than happy to pick a night and go out and do their thing! Quality time + a little bit of cash never hurt anybody.

Finding time for old families is something that is so important to me. Each and everyone of the kids I’ve watched has left a special mark on me and I hope I have left one on them. Maintaining our connections and bonds are natural and necessary for me. I have been so lucky to have great relationships with all the families I’ve worked with, I hope you all are just as lucky!

xoxo

Kelly

PS: Here are some of my favorite memories with all my babies who I don’t see every day now 🙂

Valentine’s Day classmate cards on a budget and minimal time!

Hello all! With Valentine’s Day just around the corner that means school Valentine’s Day parties are just around the corner! That means valentine’s cards for all 30 classmates, candy for each, and some way to get those together. Ain’t nobody got time for that! haha but seriously all of that takes a lot of effort and cost money. Money and time a lot of parents and nannies could spend doing other things on their never-ending to do list. You need to go to Target to buy the cards and candy, which anyone who has gone to Target knows ends up being at least a 30 minute trip. Then you have to assemble them all, write everyone classmates name down, and sign each one. All in all this can take awhile.

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However if you are looking for an inexpensive option where you don’t have to leave the house, this may be your solution. All you need is an Amazon Prime account. If you don’t already have an Amazon Prime account I highly suggest you get one. I know this may sound like a promo for them but really it’s just because I find it so helpful and worth the money. For only $99 a year (aka $8.25 a month, or the cost of 2 Starbucks coffee drinks a month) you get free 2 day shipping, access to their video streaming and music, and the best part AMAZON PRIME NOW. Prime Now is the world’s greatest invention. You can order something from Amazon (Say candy for valentine cards) and get it delivered to your front door in 2 hours or less.

Given our crazy schedules (between Ruby’s mom and mine) Valentine cards for Ruby’s classmates got lost in the busy days. So last night, with 4 days till Ruby’s Valentine’s Party, Amazon Prime Now came to the rescue and at an extremely low cost! Lindsay ordered a set of 32 My Little Pony Valentine Cards for $1.36 and 2 bags of candy for the price of one (promo right now). Shipping is FREE. So all in all 32 Valentine’s with candy cost $4!!! The $4 purchase showed up in an hour right to the front door. From there she looked in the craft closet and found glitter sticker hearts Ruby and I had used on projects this summer. She did the added touch of putting them in cellophane sleeves, but she already had them from her office. Use what you have!! If you have mini cellophane bag use those or just do the old school tape the candy on the Valentine 🙂 Assembling took the usual time of writing and sticking, but she saved a lot of time and money by using Amazon Prime Now.

Something that could have been stressful and time consuming, turned into a quick, easy, inexpensive project. PS. 3 year old Ruby spent the time to sign each one herself!! We were both soon proud! (and we made sure to tell her. Positive reinforcement is key in raising a kid!).

SO save some time, money, and stress wrinkles, Amazon is here to save the day! Stay inside tonight and spend some time with your kiddos while Amazon does the heavy lifting. Wait for your things to arrive and have fun assembling them together! Or if you want to get them done quickly while your kids asleep (because we all know helpful kids are a blessing BUT sometimes make things harder) wait till then, have a glass of wine and TA DAH.

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2016

Who Am I?: Animal Edition. A Educational Game for Kids

Hi parents and nannies! Happy Wednesday! I hope the new year is treating you all well. Today I wanted to share a fun interactive, adaptive game I created for a job interview recently. It is suitable for young toddlers, as well as preschool age kiddos. It’s called Who Am I?: Animal Edition.

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I created this as an activity to bring to a job interview that could be played with children from 1 to 5. You can practice remembering animal sounds and fine motor skills with the young kiddos, and practice spelling and more complicated, recognition questions with older, preschool age kids. This game is easy and inexpensive to make on your own. Here’s how it’s done!

What you need:

  • Foam poster board
  • Animal picture printouts (I just googled clip art of each animal)
  • Markers
  • Index cards
  • Multiple purpose fasteners (aka velcro stickers)
  • Scissors
  • Tape/ Adhesive

How to create:

  1. Google each animal you want. I chose horse, chicken, cow, pig, cat, dog, duck, elephant, lion, and frog. Once you have found the pictures, print them out, and cut them apart.
  2. Begin with the poster board flat on the ground and lay each animal along the sides.
  3. Once you are satisfied with the layout, tape each animal down to the board. IMG_3566
  4. Take your index cards and clearly write out each animal name. I chose capital letters because those are the letters most children recognize and learn first.
  5. Take an index card and adhere two sets of velcro to the back of it. Then stick it on the poster board next to its respective animal. (If you use the Scotch brand of velcro it WILL feel like you have to rip it off the board really hard, but it gets easier the more you use it!)
  6. Write the title of the game at the top of the board with a marker. Mine is on blue paper because I messed up the writing the first time haha so just go with it!
  7. Viola! You have a fun, easy to use game.

How to play:

  • Easy: Take all of the cards off the board and hold them in your hands. Show your kid the first card and say what animal says woof woof? If they can’t talk yet, have them point to the animal. If they can talk, have them say the animal name and point. If they get it correct celebrate it and show them where to place it on the board. Keep going until all the cards are on the board correctly. This version of the game will help with memory, recognition, fine motor, and recall skills.
  • Medium: Take all the cards off the board and hold them in your hands. Look at the animal name on the card and give your child clues about it. For example, if it is COW I would say, I have black and white spots. I provide you with milk. I can be found hanging out on a farm. If they don’t get it by that point then you could say I go moo. Once they guess the animal correctly hand them the card and tell them to place it next to the animal on the board. Keep going until all the cards are on the board. This version of the game really helps test children’s long term memory of facts about animals. It will make them recall information they have stored in their brain.
  • Hard: Take all the cards off the board and hold them in your hands. Hand the first card to your child and tell them to sound out the word. You can help them if needed. Once they have sounded it out ask them to place it on the board next to the animal. Celebrate each mini victory until they have gone through all the cards. Obviously elephant or chicken are not going to be super easy ones to get, but each time they see them and repeat them they will get more comfortable with the word and more practice. After they place the card on the board you can tell them to point to each letter and spell the word back to you as well. It is important to have them point to the letter (or you yourself point) because this will help them associate the proper letter sound with letter.

As I said above this is a fun, adaptable, and engaging for kids of a wide age range! I hope you all have an easy time making this game and a fun time playing it.

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2016

Children are the best medicine

Hi all! I have been on a bit of a hiatus for the last month. It has been the busiest, most stressful, scariest part of my life, with high highs (making the deans list) and very low lows (almost losing my mom). Through it all one thing has held constant, the love and joy I have when being around all my babies.

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It all began with my crazy course load this semester and having a final on the 23rd of December!! I was frustrated and defeated after studying for weeks. Then the night before a super tough final, Ruby spent the night at my house. No it may not have been the best way to study (try studying media ethics while playing princesses), but it was just the medicine I needed that week. I put her to bed in my room, and when I went to bed I captured this peaceful, precious moment. Ruby sound asleep under the Christmas tree I have slept under all my life 🙂IMG_2836

Following that was the holidays which are always crazy busy, but in the best way possible! That meant family parties, dinners, seeing my babies, and attempting to decompress from a difficult semester. I had 3 family Christmas parties in 3 days. So much fun, but so exhausting. Ruby and I spent on day going to visit Santa Claus, and it was perfection. Watching the magic of Christmas expressed in her eyes and words was so much fun. I was reminded why this time of year is so special to so many, the magic and hope brought from the holidays in and of itself is calming. Then of course I had to play Santa Nanny and visit all my babies and give them their presents! One present was a date night with my boyfriend (or Ruby’s boyfriend as she calls him), another was a tie blanket, and for another family, my all time favorite children’s princess movie ENCHANTED. Visiting them and being able to put a smile on their faces was the perfect way to unwind

After all the parties ended and things calmed down I had a minute to breathe- not very easily. I had come down with a cold a day after all the crazy ended. So my usual coping mechanisms of baby cuddles was off the table. I spent 5 days in bed watching Netflix (Damages is amazing!) and getting updates on how all my babies Christmas’ were 🙂 While in bed one day I got an email saying I made the Dean’s List! Given how hard my semester was I was hoping just to pass, so this was unbelievable. I was going into the first week of January on a high. Everything was going perfectly, and I had a trip to Chicago with my boyfriend in a few days to look forward to.

Then the unthinkable happened. The scariest moment of my life. I got a call that my mom was being taken, via an ambulance, to the hospital because she had had a brain bleed.IMG_3185 Everything stopped. My heart stopped. My mom, my best friend, my person was in danger of losing her life. After a very long night and copious amounts of tests, we were given the news that she was no longer in immediate danger. She needed to be hospitalized for a week because there was still blood in her brain which is obviously not good. I learned a lot in those first few days. I learned how strong I can be in the face of uncertainty. I learned every technical medical term known to man kind related to my mom’s brain bleed 🙂 and I learned how lucky I am to have such amazing support system. Of course my dad, brother, boyfriend, best friends, and extended family were there for me, but beyond that the families I work for were there for anything I needed. It was not only through the calls and texts I received about being there for me, but the flowers they sent to my mom and well wishes and offers for food or anything for me and my family. It was truly amazing. What I told most of them I wanted was to come babysit for a few hours and watch their kids as a little distraction and comfort 🙂

All and all my mom is on the mend and doing better. The uncertainty is scary, but I know if I ever need anyone to talk to I can call any one of the moms I work for and they would be there for me in a second. The relationships I have formed with the families I work for is an undoubtable blessing. Getting to spend time with all of the kids in my life is the best medicine and cure for any hopeless, scary situation. One moment spent with one of them and I am reminded of the wonder, innocence, and joy there is in every moment of life. After almost a week in the hospital my mom is back home recovering. I have spent the whole last week at home hanging out with her while she tries to get back to normal. Once Friday rolled around I couldn’t spend another week without my Ruby. It was the perfect day. Ruby, my mom, and I spent the morning together having breakfast, laughing, and playing. Seeing my mom getting back to being herself and joking around with Ruby was a moment I will never forget. All I need to be happy in life is my mom and my babies 🙂 (and my boyfriend, and dog, and best friends, and aunts, and uncles, and cousins… you get the picture).

 

I have some big things planned for The Nanny Guide this year so stay tuned! As always thank you for taking the time to read my blog 🙂

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2016

The Giving Season: My Holiday Gift Guide on a Budget

Hi all! Happy Tuesday! With Christmas right around the corner I thought I would put together a list of my go-to gifts for kids, family, friends, nanny bosses, etc that are all budget friendly:)

Christmas is my most favorite time of year! I think it is magical and perfect in every way. Giving someone a gift that they will love and use is very important to me. Now that I am spending my own hard earned money (that could go to groceries & gas) on gifts for everyone on my list I’ve tried to get a little more thrifty. When buying gifts for my family I am willing to spend more so they are less of a concern. My main problem comes to buying gifts for all my tiny humans I like to make feel special this time of year! With 8 kiddos I like to buy for I have had to find ways to keep my spending under control. While it may be tempting to buy your kid the new latest and greatest LEGO set, with my college nanny budget $50 for one gift is not going to fly. This time of year it can be hard to buy for others as well. Those including cousins, friends, aunts /uncles, and nanny bosses. Those people who are important to you add up. I have found instead of ignoring those groups of people all together set a small budget like you do for the kiddos are stick to that. These are some of my go-to gifts and helpful tricks I use to make holiday shopping easier on the budget and mind 🙂

 

My Tips to Stay on Budget 

Check the Target Cartwheel App. I am not a loyal user of this app because I don’t think you save that much. BUT recently I’ve realized if you look, you can find great deals on things you may be interested in buying for gifts. Last week Disney Princess costumes were 50% off. I’ve also seen LEGO sets on sale. They have books, movies, toys, crafts, and other things that may be on your list. It is definitely worth checking it out before you go make you gift purchases.

Keep eyes open for toys/gifts on sale year round. This is something I do mainly for gifts I am going to buy my nanny kiddos. Throughout the year when Target, Toys ‘R’ Us, and other kid stores have things on sale I buy them then and then save them for Christmas. I found a Cinderella Barbie carriage for Ruby in September for $20 (originally $40). This can work for friends and family too. If you see something in July you think your friend Rachel will love, get it! Bring it home and just put it somewhere you will remember!! You don’t want December 22nd to come and have to tear your house apart to find it 🙂

Shop at the Target $1 spot or $3 spot. This is for kids especially (nieces, nephews, nanny kids, stocking stuffers, cousins, friends kids)! Kids can’t tell whether something they get was only $1. These days the $1 spot at Target has some great things! Everything from Minions to Disney Princess to Elmo. Take advantage of this area and use that as small little gifts to go with a bigger one, or buy a few of the little things and that can be their gift! It is the fact that you thought about the kid and something to get them that matters.

Set a budget for how much you want to spend. And stick to it! If you only have $10 to spend on each person, that is okay! Don’t feel pressure to go overboard because others are. You can get some great stuff for a small amount of money these days. Take advantage of sales, shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal, check out your local Dollar Store, or make something! These days handmade gifts (like candles or cocoa mix in a bag) are just as special. Just make sure you take your time and make it nice by adding little details, like ribbons.

Here are some of my go-to gifts for kids, friends, nanny bosses, and family!

Gifts for kids t300_8a654cc96f475ac3c6c93a8a17a69fc115716281

  • Melissa and Doug Sticker Books $5
  • Mini Lego Sets $5 – $10
  • Fleece Tie Blankets: This is particular one of my favorites. I gave one to a girl I have watched for a long time a couple years ago, and she still sleeps with it every night 🙂 Something as simple as a blanket can mean so much to a child because it reminds them you love them. If you look out for sales on fleece at your local fabric store this can be an inexpensive gift! It just takes some time to make.
  • Framed picture of the two of you: You can embellish the frame to with stickers and jewels.
  • Hot Cocoa Mix in a Bag: All you need is cellophane bags, cocoa powder, sugar, powdered sugar, and a pinch salt. Here a link to an easy recipe! Pour desired amount of mix in cellophane bag. Add mini marshmallows to the top and seal with ribbon!
  • Fun outing with just you two: Kids love to feel special and celebrated. Give them the gift of your time. Tell them to pick a fun thing to do and restaurant to go to together. Then do it around Christmas time. Maybe buy something special while your out to remember your happy day together.
  • Scrapbook: This is very time consuming and costs more than the others, BUT it is one of the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts you can give. I handmade one for Ruby at the end of our summer together. She and her parents love it! It makes me so happy to look back at them when I am there on Fridays now. It’s a physical reminder of your time together. While I took the long route of making each page by hand, there are now much more efficient options online. Check out Snapfish or Whalgreens!

 

Gifts for nanny friends/cousins 

  • Anthropologie coffee mug with letter $8: I give these out a lot and sometimes add homemade hot cocoa in a bag to put in the middle of the cup. It makes for a nice yet inexpensive gift!
  • Bath and body works deals: There are usually tons of sales at Bath and Body works. They have the buy 3 lotions get 2 free a lot so take advantage of that! You can get 5 gifts for friends/family for the price of 3!
  • Lush Bath Bomb $5 – $9
  • Framed picture of you two (embellish the frame)
  • Homemade spa stuff: There are lots of recipes of these online. I received some form one of my cousins last year and it was amazing!

Gifts for nanny boss

  • Handmade art by their kid (mistle toes, handprint)
  • Candle: Easy to find at Target, Bath and Body works, etc
  • Personalized ornament: Head to your local mall and get an ornament personalized with all the family members names on it. This is an easy, meaningful gift that parents enjoy.
  • Ornament in general: If there is a special ornament out there that you think would be meaningful to the parents get that! This year Ruby, I, and her mom were 3 Disney princesses for Ruby’s birthday. So I decided to get Ruby and her mom an ornament of each princess we were to forever have that memory.
  • A calendar full of pictures of the kid: I highly suggest this gift! I made one for only $13 with shipping and Ruby’s mom LOVES it. Right now on Snapfish you can make one for $8!! It is a very thoughtful and meaningful gift. I got all of the pictures of their family from Facebook and pictures I had of Ruby so it was a fun surprise for her mom. It is pretty easy to do these with helpful websites like Snapfish or Shutterfly or Whalgreens! More often than not they have sales going on so make your calendar and then order while there is a sale! Check all 3 to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

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In the end what really matters when giving a gift is the thought you put into it. You don’t need to spend $100 to show someone you love them. I hope you find this list helpful! Merry Christmas to all of you 🙂

xoxo Kelly

 

The Giving Season: Love Your Melon

I am going to do a few gift giving ideas this holiday season, each with it’s own tie to helping kids in need. I started with American Girl and now up is Love Your Melon.

Love Your Melon is an amazing company started by Minnesota college students. Their mission is to put a hat on every child battling cancer. When you buy a hat, they donate a hat. It simple. Buy one, give one. These beanies and hats are super cute and affordable hats. They have a few different style of hats they sell. Some will keep your ears warm in the freezing cold winter, and others will provide shade from the sun on the hot summer days. The also have shirts and accessories on their site.

They come in a wide array of colors as well. These make perfect gifts for anyone on your list. They are super popular with college kids- I see them all over my campus. I have one and love it! I am planning on giving some as gifts to my cousins and friends this holiday season. Parents: They are a perfect gift for your nanny this holiday as well or your children! Nannies: they are a perfect gift for friends and family members! Who wouldn’t want to buy a cute, nice gift and help a sick child at the same time? Sounds perfect to me. Also ALL of their products are made in the US. Another added benefit to buying something from them. They keep it all within our borders and provide jobs for people in the US.

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A little more on Love Your Melon… Besides On delivery day local college kids who work for the company deliver hats to children in the hospital in superhero costumes! Which is such a great idea to brighten the lives of these sick children. They are a business run mainly by students on college campuses who want to make a difference, which I think is remarkable. It is so great to see college students working together, across the country to make a difference in the lives of sick children.

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Check out their website here. Order yours today and make a difference in the lives of children!

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2015

Photos from: loveyourmelon.com and pinterist

Be Thankful

Being thankful is something every kid (and adult) can sometimes need a reminder of. I know I try my best to remember how lucky I am for the life I have but life gets crazy and hard sometimes, so I forget. Kids are busy bodies with a million thoughts going through their heads every second. It is easy for them to forget to be thankful as well. While it is good to be thankful year round, Thanksgiving is a good time of year to take a second out of our busy days and remember why/what we are thankful for. It is a good time of year to reflect on your year and life and remember all the things you are lucky to have. It is important to do this with your children as well! Here are a few simple way to break out the gratitude and thankfulness in your little one 🙂

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  • List off all the people who are a part of their life who love them. This is simple and can be done quickly. Ruby and I have done it a few times on longer car trips. I say who loves Ruby? and she starts listing off mommy, daddy, Kelly, grandma, grandpa, etc. After we have listed off a lot I make a point to tell her how lucky she is to have so many people who love her and who she loves. Then I remind her that she should be thankful to have so many people on that list. It always boosts her mood and puts a smile on her face. I then follow that up with “next time you see _____ you should tell them how much you love them.”
  • Make a craft relating to Thanksgiving and being thankful . There are so many options with this, and it is a great way to teach kids the wide range of things they have to be thankful for. It is easy for kids to list off concrete examples like my blankie or my train track, but it’s harder to list of the more abstract ideas like family, friends, education, etc. While doing the craft you can teach them about the more abstract ideas. After they name their first few then you could say something like “well aren’t you thankful for having a nice friend like Abby?” A question like that will prompt their little minds to start thinking of things along that realm. Keep that discussion going! Here is a great list of 7 crafts that can teach kids about being thankful!
  • Remind them how lucky they are to be healthy and have full bellies. A lot of kids don’t know on their own that these are things some people don’t have. It is am important life realization to have because it is part of our reality. You want to be age appropriate in how you describe that there are kids who are sick and in the hospital or that there are kids who don’t always get to eat dinner. If you make things seem too bleak it may not register with them, but they are smarter than you think and can handle a version of the truth about health, food, and wealth. I leave that discretion to you, the nanny or parent. You know your child the best and how you think this discussion should go.
  • Donate food to a local food shelf. Tell your kids that since not everyone can buy all the food they want (or need) you guys are going to help them out! Bring your kids with and ask them what they want to buy. I have done this with Ruby and she usually gives some of her favorite foods. It a good learning moment because it causes her to reflect on what she likes and that well maybe another kid would like some Easy Mac as well! It teaches compassion and social awareness. Have them help you bring the food in to the donation site. Afterward celebrate their charity work with a fun snack or trip to the park. Let them know how proud you are of them, and that they just helped make a lot of people happier.
  • If your kids are old enough- volunteer! I have gone with school groups and my parents since I was young to Feed My Starving Children. At FMSC you pack meals for people in countries all over the world in dire need of food. They present the need for food in age appropriate ways, so you don’t need to be worried about it scaring you child. I have very fond memories of going there as a kid! It’s usually an upbeat environment with lots of laughter and good feelings. If there isn’t a FMSC near you, look for other local places that pack meals for the hungry. They are all over!

A few things I am thankful for this holiday 🙂

  • All my tiny humans!
  • My sweet, loving boyfriend
  • My amazing family
  • My education
  • The ability to travel
  • My best friend (even though she lives 1,000 miles away!)
  • The little opportunities each day brings to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Being thankful for things we have isn’t something that is something that we explicitly say everyday, but hopefully there is a moment each day where you think about it. This is an important thing to instill in your kids. Learning to be thankful teaches kids humility, the importance of giving to others if you can, empathy, love, and a bounty of more skills. It will help them develop into compassionate, helpful, grateful humans.

On that note, I hope you all have a safe, fun-filled Thanksgiving! I leave you all with one of my favorite quotes that isn’t directly related to being thankful, but something I have learned as a result of being thankful.

Inspirational-Quotes-Do-what-you-can-with-what-you-have-where-you-are-Theodore-Roosevelt-1

 

Toddler Fashion on a Budget

Move over Crewcuts and  Jack and Janie, there is no need for you in today’s toddler fashion world! Thanks to stores like Target and Old Navy I can find just as fashion forward and adorable clothes that you sell for more than half the cost! My little toddler fashionista Ruby loves clothes, especially dresses! Everyday getting dressed is her favorite time. Usually we end up getting dressed 3 or 4 different times in new outfits 🙂 While usually a child with a love for fashionable clothes comes at a hefty cost, we have found ways to avoid that cost! All of her clothes come from Target, Old Navy, The Children’s Place, Khol’s, Gap, and TJMAXX. She gets compliments everyday on how cute her outfits are and people ask where we get her clothes. Every time I respond with Old Navy or Target people are usually surprised. Attention everyone: Target and Old Navy have the cutest clothes for little ones and at an affordable price point!!

Sweater Dress: Target $19 Leggings: Old Navy $4 Boots: Old Navy $15

One of the cost struggles of having a child is the amount of money spent on clothes for them, because they are constantly growing. If you don’t have a sibling or family member close in age, hand-me-downs are out of the question. Then comes the struggle every season to make sure their clothes fit and if not get new ones. Instead of dreading going shopping for your kiddo because you think cheap clothes equate with ugly and low quality, think again. The majority of Ruby’s closet consists of clothes from the stores listed above. Every piece lasts through the whole season and we always find fashion forward pieces.

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Vest: Target $15 Jeggings: Target $7 Tunic: Target $15 Boots: Target $13

We rarely ever buy anything when it is full price. Every store below always has a sale. These are our shopping tips for each store listed below.

Our favorite stores:

Target: Use cartwheel! They usually feature brands, such as Cherokee or Carter, each week for a certain percentage off. Buy your clothes then. Stock up. It may feel like you are spending so much one time, but in the long run you will be saving money. Also take advantage of their text message sales. The day we got the vest, tunic, leggings, and boots, they were having a sale where if you texted a number you would get a coupon for $10 off every $25 spent. That will save you so much! Especially when buying winter clothes, because those are always more expensive. The main point here is stock up when these sales are on because in the end you will spend less money overall. As always check the sale racks too. You can usually find some good stuff there as well.

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Shirt: Old Navy $12 Shorts: Target $5 Sandals: Target: $15

Old Navy: They always have on trend clothes there! If you are looking for nice dresses and coats, or basics like leggings you can always find those here. You can usually always find these items on sale as well. Recently all toddler and infant clothes have been 40% off. Ruby went on a shopping spree last week because she had grown out of all her 2T winter clothes
IMG_2125 and we needed some new ones. Getting 40% off sweaters, long sleeve dresses, shoes, and pants is AMAZING! She got multiple pairs of leggings for $4 each. Shirts, like this cute one in the picture, for $5, and the pink sparkle leggings for $4 as well. Her pink boots in the pictures on the top were $25 originally, but we bought them on sale and saved a bunch! Once again my main point here is stock up when the sales are on. We did the same thing this summer when buying new shorts and dresses. The savings add up over time.

The Children’s Place: Once again with this store always buy when on sale! We usually end up at the mall once a week (going to the play place there) and each time we’ve walked by in the last few weeks, they have been promoting 40% your entire purchase. These savings were on top of other sales going on in the store. All fleece jackets were on sale for $20 and then you got 40% on top of that, so the cheetah print, cozy jacket we got Ruby was only $12. Once again stock up and take advantages of these sales. We got her a Christmas tutu dress, leggings, jacket, and headband for $30.

Kohl’s: This store as well always had tons on sale. You have to be willing to dig through all of the clothes on the rack, but you can usually find some  good stuff. We got a lot of cute summer stuff back in the springtime when it was on sale.

Gap: I was hesitant to put this one on the list at first. Their clothing is more expensive, in general, than clothes from the other shops. I worked at Gap for a few months and what I realized is that something is always on sale in that store. One week it may be pants, the next t-shirts, and the next dresses. My tip for this store is only buy clothes from there if it is on sale. There is no need to spend $30 on a dress when it could be on sale the next week, or you can find one just as cute, for less, at another store. The one things I can attribute to clothes from Gap is that they can be higher quality fabric and materials then other stores.

All in all buying clothes for your toddler should not be something to be dreaded anymore. There are so many inexpensive places to buy cute clothes these days. Make sure to be vigilant of sales and stock up when you find a good one.

Creative Play: The Making of Princess Street

Hello Nannies and Parents! I will warn you that this post is a long one but it features 2 how to art projects, play tips, and storage tips! Also with the upcoming holiday aka CHRISTMAS this could make for a great gift for your little Lego/ block lover this year 🙂

The idea for Princess Street began one day during nap time as I was staring at the hap hazardous mess of Disney Princess Legos and Duplos strewn all across the living room floor. Ruby had fallen in love with Legos after a trip to Barnes and Noble. She got hooked on the Disney Princess sets. So she earned each one as rewards for helping around the house or doing something special. As we acquired more and more of these adorable sets I realized we had no real, good place to play with them. When we played on the carpet it was too hard to put them together. When we played on the hardwood floors they slipped all around. So I was left with a challenge to figure out the perfect place to play with these great Lego sets. I looked at Target for the green Lego squares that can hold Legos down, but those were $20 for one! So then I started thinking about how to solve this problem. Lego Friends has a play mat for the Heartlake city where all the girls are from. You can put the Juice Shop along one street and Emma’s House on the next. I then figured out something like that would solve this problem. However I searched all over the internet and nothing like this exists for Disney Princesses. There is no play mat or anything that can make a princess neighborhood. This baffled me because as Ruby always say “but Kelly I don’t want to play with just one. All my princesses are best friends and want to live by each other.” It was then I knew I needed to make my own Disney Princess neighborhood. So I took to brainstorming how this might be possible. After work that day I went to Michael’s craft store and walked around and around and finally figured out exactly what I was going to do. It took time and love but the finished product was totally worth it. Take a look inside Princess Street 🙂

As you can see Princess Street has evolved as Ruby has grown. It began with the Disney Princess Lego Duplo sets, and now holds the Disney Princess Lego sets and a house we created on our own from Target. That is the beauty of Princess Street, it can become anything you want it to. We reorganize it and design it each time we take it out. We have also come up with a neat and organized way to store it all. Below are the instructions on how to make and store your own Princess Street (or Lego City, Superhero Lane, or any other neighborhood your kiddo wants!):

What you will need: 

  • 2 Foam Poster Boards (found at Target, Michael’s, Walgreens, etc)
  • 3D Puff Paint (various colors that pertain to your theme, found at any craft store)
  • Curved Road Stencil (I made mine out of thick cardstock)
  • Duct Tape (color doesn’t matter because you can’t see it)
  • Stickers (pertaining to your theme, ours is princess of course!)

How to make:

  1. Lay the 2 boards on the floor side by side.
  2. Draw your stencil however you want your road to be. I wanted ours to curve so I drew it that way. Cut your stencil out of your thick paper.
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  3. Place your stencil where you want the road to be. Hold in place and trace around. Do the same on the other board.
  4. Use marker or puff paint to outline the road and make marks along the lanes.
  5. Use puff paint to write the name of the neighborhood. We chose Princess Street.
  6. Let dry COMPLETELY. Usually 2 hours will do. Keep child away! As you can see on the back of mine I messed up and didn’t wait long enough 🙂
  7. Add details to the neighborhood, like a pond or garden with makers. We chose to have 2 ponds because in the beginning we had 2 Ariel Lego sets and of course both needed to be in the water!
  8. Decorate with stickers where you want.
  9. Once the front is done and dry, flip them over and place duct tape along the edges connecting the two boards. Put a good amount on. This will help reinforce the middle of the boards. Only put the tape on one side though, otherwise it own’t be able to fold up for easy storage.
  10. Set up your Lego sets how you would like and enjoy!

The Disney Princess Lego sets we have featured on our Princess Street are Sleeping Beauty’s Royal Bedroom, Jasmine’s Exotic Palace, Ariel’s Magical Kiss, Cinderella’s Romantic Castle, Cinderella’s Dream Carriage, and Rapunzel’s Creativity Tower. We also have the Lego Duplo Disney Princess Collection featuring Snow White, Cinderella, and Ariel.

All and more can be found HERE!

How to Make Your Own House:

As you can see we added a non Lego house to our street. I’m sure you all know Lego sets are expensive! Ruby loves Princess Street so much and wanted more and more to fill up the neighborhood, so instead of buying another expensive Lego set we ventured to Target to buy a make you own kit! Kid Made Modern Art-Chitecture Kit

This kit is only $25 and is very sturdy. Now this set is not too kid friendly for them to make. It’s kinda difficult even for adults. Totally worth it in the end though, but it took some time. To include Ruby in the making of this house I had her pick the paper I used on the walls and floors.

What you will need:

  • Kid Made Modern Art-Chitecture Kit (from Target)
  • Extra scrapbooking paper (any craft store)
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Glue Stick

How to make it:

  1. Follow the directions inside the kit.
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  2. It comes with a lot of furniture pieces but those are really hard to put together. We only put together the ones we knew we would use (bed, table, chair, etc).
  3. Decide what papers you want to be on what walls and floors. It comes with about 10 pages that stick right on to the wood. That is not enough to cover every wall and floor. We used scrapbooking paper to finish off the other walls.
  4. Trace the size of the wall and cut the paper to fit. Then use a glue stick to get it on the wall and floor.
  5. Once you have all the walls and floors covered in your desired paper you can glue it all together!
  6. Let it sit and dry for a day before use, but then it is good to go.

We put ours up on TV trays that Ruby has at her house. It allows her to be able to walk around the whole street. She can play with the fronts of the sets and the backs. She loves driving her princesses from house to house in her Cinderella carriage, or has special guest (Lego Friends characters) fly in on the private jet. You could also set this up on a coffee table or even just the floor!

It’s easy to set up and easy to store. The boards fold together so it can fit in a small space along a wall. We bought storage bins from target to put Ruby’s blocks in. We have one for her Lego Duplo blocks. We have a few for her Disney Princess Lego’s so we don’t have to take apart all the Princess’s house each time we play. Then we have a small 3 storage drawer labeled with easy to read titles of things to keep in them (dolls, extra parts, sticks, etc).

Princess Street has been a HUGE hit at our house! Every kid who comes over always wants to play with it, and Ruby loves to let them. While yes it does take some time to get it all put together, like I said before totally worth it. I would make a million more of these because they provide so much fun for your kid! It allow them to be creative and inventive every time we pull it out to play. I hope you found this how to helpful and enjoy your version of Princess Street as much as we love ours 🙂

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2015

More Pictures from Princess Street