Getting Ready for the Holidays: Shopping! (Podcast #17)

Getting Ready for the Holidays: Shopping

Hi holiday celebrators! We’re back with more holiday prep tips in Podcast 17 where we talk about how, when, and where to shop for the holidays, and give ideas for homemade gifts for neighbors, friends, teachers and party hosts. We’re determined to make this holiday season simple, thoughtful and downright fun!

If you don’t have a chance to listen, I’ve summarized our tips here:

Tips on How to Shop for the Holidays:

  1. Make a list of who you need to buy presents for. Don’t forget teachers, coworders, host and hostess gifts, and some unexpected quick presents to give.
  2. Decide on a budget either per person or total, and try to stick with it.
  3. Put down as many ideas as possible for all the people on your list.
  4. Decide on your homemade present: a sugar scrub in a mini mason jar with coconut oil and peppermint oil? or 32-ounce mason jars filled with the dry ingredients for brownies plus instructions for which wet ingredients to add (one how-to here!).
  5. Make wish lists on Amazon or in a simple spreadhseet to share with family members.

Tips on When to Shop for the Holidays:

  1. Before Halloween! We can all try, right? Ok, that’s only 2 weeks away, but can you imagine? How about just the major presents and then you have November for stocking stuffers, homemade gifts and holiday cards?
  2. If you can’t get all your shopping done in October, at least try to get your list done and check a few purchases off your list. Buying early means you won’t be rushing with less thoughtful gifts toward the end.

Tips on Where to Shop for the Holidays:

  1. Amazon is great for wish lists, searches for “best toys for 8 year-old boys” and best sellers. But Amazon also has such fun ideas for stocking stuffers like these WikkiStix and figurine “Toobs” like these sets of safari animals, around the world monuments, vehicles, and even fruit and veggie toobs!
  2. The Mall is a dreaded, but a great option too. Try to go only once with your list for ideas, and set a time limit for yourself. I like to go early on in the season while the pickin’s are plenty and the crowds are few. My girls (ages 4 and 13) love anything from Claire’s and $5 Below.

We want to hear your tips too! Comment below with your favorite homemade gift ideas and holiday hacks!

xo,
Jen & Corinne

 

No Spend September: Division of Labor (Podcast #15!)

Division of Household Labor

Hello again! Jen here and we’re still no-spending, but getting really close to “overdoing it October” (ha!). In episode 15 of the podcast and our last one in #NoSpendSeptember2018, we bring up the importance of having a conversation between you and your partner about the division of labor in the house.

We encourage you to sit down and:

        1.  List out the adult chores in the house and to-dos in your family life. These include homework, making lunches, keeping track of school activities, taking kids to the doctor, taking out the trash and paying the bills, to name a few. Name all the things that need to get done. This also includes keeping the kids on track with THEIR chores that we talked about in this post. If you’re a single parent, MAJOR props!!!
        2. Figure out what you’re both willing to do (who likes that chore the least?!). A biggie here for couples is dishes, and another one is the kids’ bedtime routine. Who likes scrubbing spaghetti off the pot AGAIN and chasing the kids around with a toothbrush? Not fun! Draw straws or pick days. If your kids are helping with dishes as part of their chores, then who is the ‘enforcer’? I guess try to make it fun. My kids are really into the army right now, so we hear a lot of “Sir, yes sirs!” during dish time and table cleanup, and that definitely keeps us all laughing.
        3. Determine what is REALLY important to your partner and fit it into the week. Does your partner want to go to the gym, make music or meet up with friends? See how you can make those fun and healthy diversions happen for both of you. Tag-team parenting and chore-doing aren’t rocket science, they’re survival science!
        4. Pick a time to look at the week ahead together. Perhaps it’s a Sunday “date” on the living room couch where you look at the next 7 days and figure out who is doing what and where you might need to reach out for help. Sharing a calendar can also be really helpful. This prevents scrambling at the last minute when one kid needs to get to basketball, one kid needs to get to lacrosse and you need to attend back-to-school night. Time to enlist that carpool or call on a sitter.

     

  1. Share your family and partner responsibility systems in the comments below. We are always upgrading our methods and want to hear from you! xo, Jen & Corinne

No Spend September: Family Chores and Allowance (Podcast #14!)

Chores and Allowance

Hey Parents! Jen here. This week on Episode 14 in honor of managing money and responsibilities during #NoSpendSeptember2018, Corinne and I chat about how to organize family chores for our kids and how to deal with allowance. Corinne’s kids are ages 1-7 and mine are 4-12, so we’re on slightly different chore and allowance tracks, but chances are, we’ve got you covered!

First of all, here are a few chores even the youngest kids (ages 18 months to 4 years) can do, with assistance:

    • Take laundry to basement
    • Organize toys
    • Help unload dishwasher (plastic or utensils)
    • Vacuum
    • Set table
    • Sweep (kind of…)

So, get those little ones involved. Here are a couple chore systems you can consider for your family:

  1. Pay as you go. Rather than setting up a chart or a system, pull kids in when you need some help doing “above and beyond” activities. Need help weeding the garden or taking out the trash? Here’s a dollar or two. Put it in your piggy bank!
  2. Set an allowance and a daily chore chart. For the younger kids, it’s ok to make some of their chores things that they should be doing already, like brushing their teeth and making their beds. But as they get older (say by age 8), allowance should really be for extra stuff, not what they should be doing anyway like flushing the toilet and clearing their plates at dinner.
  3. Give each kid one chore per week, then switch.  Rather that mixing it up every day during the week, you can simplify your system by giving one kid setting table for one full week and another one dishes. This system can be easier to follow and easier to enforce because it’s simple, especially if kids don’t mind sticking with the same chore(s) for 7 straight days.

Chez Reilly, we have a weekly system magnetized to our fridge where each of the 4 kids has 2 chores per day. That chore could be as painful as scrubbing toothpaste out of the kids’ bathroom sink, or as fun as sticking the shoes in the shoe cubby at the front door (wait, am I only the one that thinks that’s fun?!). Here’s what ours looks like (and here are the chart and the markers if you’re gung-ho!):

I know what you’re thinking, what the heck is the Bed Check?! Well, that person checks to make sure the other kids made their beds and then makes sure they do it if it isn’t done. If beds aren’t made, it’s on the bed check person!

Corinne is setting up a new chore system right now with her oldest daughter Audrey (7 years old) working off of a to-do list each day. I’m sure Corinne will update us on her new system as it unfolds.

Now for Allowance. In our house, we are organized and keep a spreadsheet. As long as chores get done each week, the kids get half their age in dollars (Keller age 12 gets $6, Griffin age 10 gets $5, Jake age 8 gets $4, and Annie age 4 gets $2). I know, that’s $17 per week for stuff we could do in 10 minutes. But it’s teaching them great habits and the appreciation of earned money, or at least we can hope.

Of the money our kids get, 50% goes straight to their piggy banks, 25% gets put in a savings account that they’ll be able to access when they graduate high school, and the other 25% gets donated to a charity at the end of the year. The kids all vote on one charity and last year it was our local humane society. Pretty soon they’re going to start their own non-profit to fund nerf guns and jewelry for themselves just so they can “donate” to it at the end of the year. But until they figure that out, we’ve got an awesome spreadsheet and a nice sum of $217 that’s going to go to a charity at the end of 2018.

I don’t think you can do allowance wrong, just keep in mind that it should probably increase with age along with responsibilities so start really small when they’re young.

I’ll leave you with the cutest chore system ever… I would LOVE to hear if you try that one out! It is chores on coffee 🙂

As always, share your tips in the comments below.

Until we no-spend again next week!

Jen & Corinne