Jul 172015
 

Back to School Stress Saving Tips | Alldonemonkey.com

Thank you to Great Clips for sponsoring this post and helping me find #moreminutes to enjoy with my kids!

If you’re like most people, back to school shopping is not something you like forward to. Running errands with your kids to stores with big crowds – what’s not to dread? But here are stress saving tips to help you save time and back to enjoying the end of summer with your kids.

Back to School Stress Saving Tips

1. Start early. At the end of the school year, before you switch into summer mode, take note of what you’d like to do differently in the coming year. What items (like clothing labels or a command center) would make things easier for you and your kids? What were you always running out of? What supplies (backpacks, lunchboxes, etc) need to be replaced? To jog your memory, here is one back to school essentials checklist.

2. Keep an eye out for sales. You don’t have to wait for the big back to school sales to find good bargains. Some suppliers have sales mid-year or at the end of the season. Getting great bargains ahead of time will whittle down your to-do list and help you feel like you’re already ahead of the game.

3. Prioritize. If your life is anything like mine, the best laid plans often go awry – a child’s illness, unexpected visitors, a chance to go on a fun outing with your child’s friends, or just the reality of running errands with kids – all mean that things may not work out exactly as you had planned. It’s best to know ahead of time what has to get done before school starts and what can wait if needed.

4. Avoid peak times. If I am out running errands with my kids, the last thing I want to worry about is dealing with crowds. So as much as possible I try to go at times when there are fewer people at the stores – typically during the week and/or early in the day. Many stores run specials at these times to attract more shoppers, so you may even get better deals! But even if you work and can’t go shopping on a weekday, going out in the evening (after the post-work rush) can also be a good time. I’ve often run errands in the evenings after dinner: bonus, my husband is home and so he can watch the kids!

5. Take a breather. Remember to build in some downtime, especially if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed by all the errands you need to run. Don’t miss out on enjoying those last few days of summer with your kids because you’re tearing your hair out worrying about getting ready for the school year. Many things can wait until after school starts, so don’t stress out about being the perfectly organized parent. Your kids would much rather make some more fun summer memories with you than have a stressed out, tense mom.

6. Don’t wait in line. Why waste your time waiting in line when you could get service as soon as you walk in the door? At Great Clips, now you can check in online, so that when you arrive for that back to school haircut, you don’t have to have to waste precious minutes waiting around.

The Great Clips app makes it easy to check in at your nearest salon (of the more than 3,800 throughout the US and Canada), and put your name on the list before you even leave your house, so that you can arrive just in time for your haircut. If you have more than one salon near you – as we do – you can pick which one’s waiting time best matches your schedule.

Little Monkey’s locks were getting rather long, so I decided to take him to Great Clips to experience the online check-in for ourselves.

Back to School Stress Saving Tips | Alldonemonkey.com

If you didn’t know about the #MoreMinutes campaign before arriving, you can’t miss the signs!

Back to School Stress Saving Tips | Alldonemonkey.com

With my two rambunctious little guys, it was sooo nice to be able to walk right in and get service. Little Monkey normally does not enjoy haircuts, so I was impressed that the stylist was able to put him at ease right away.

Back to School Stress Saving Tips | Alldonemonkey.com

I was so proud of him for sitting still during the cut, and I could tell he was happy with it! Just look at my big boy and his confident, post-haircut stride!

Back to School Stress Saving Tips | Alldonemonkey.com

Best of all, we had plenty of time to run the rest of our errands then get home and play!

Visit Great Clips online to find out more about their #MoreMinutes campaign and download the time-saving Great Clips app!

Don’t miss this adorable video about what kids say they would do with #moreminutes!

 

 

Back to School Stress Saving Tips

Aug 182014
 

Children's Books About Making New Friends | Alldonemonkey.com

This post is part of the Back to School Ideas and Activities series from All Things Kids.  See the end of this post for more details and to link up your own back to school posts!

I was provided a complimentary copy of Never Say A Mean Word Again for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

When I was a kid, I was always excited but also anxious at the start of every school year.  One of my biggest worries was about making friends in my new class.  Learning to make friends is an important social skills, so talking through this process through books can help kids with this social hurdle and set them up for a great school year.  Here is a list of some of our favorites:

Children’s Books About Making New Friends

The Rainbow Fish

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

This is a gorgeously illustrated book about the rewards of friendship.  Once the Rainbow Fish learns to be generous and share his beautiful scales with others, he learns that the friendships he gains are worth much more.  You can also read a review of the whole Rainbow Fish series.

Never Say A Mean Word Again

Never Say A Mean Word Again by Jacqueline Jules

When we received this book from Wisdom Tales, I was hooked.  A children’s story set in Medieval Spain?  Count me in!  But I wasn’t sure my preschooler would be as interested.  Turns out he loves this book.  Despite the exotic setting, the story is told in such a way that any child can easily relate to it.  How do you handle someone who seems determined to be your enemy?  What to do when you are given the chance to take revenge?  The lengths the boy in this tale goes through to put his enemy in his place – and the surprising results – make this a page turner that teaches an important lesson finding a peaceful path through conflicts.

Wemberly Worried

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

Monkey and I both adore this book.  It came along at the perfect time for us, when he was having trouble with anxieties about school.  He could identify with Wemberly, who worried all the time, about everything from loose screws on the swings at the playground to whether anyone would come to her birthday party.  But school was the biggest worry of all for Wemberly, until one day she had to face her fear – and ended up making a new friend, who helped her to worry less and enjoy herself.

Chester's Way

Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes

This is another gem from Kevin Henkes.  Chester reminds me quite a bit of Monkey:  He has certain ways he likes to do things – and luckily his best friend Wilson likes to do things exactly the same way.  They are two peas in a pod, content with only each other’s company – until Lily moves into the neighborhood.  Chester and Wilson must learn to get along with someone who does things differently – and in the end come to appreciate her “strange” ways.

The Brand New Kid

The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric

I came upon this book by chance, when I was looking for children’s books about Hungary.  Lazlo, the brand new kid at school, is from Hungary, and everything about him seems just too weird for the other students.  They tease him mercilessly until one day a fellow student realizes the damage they have done and decides to reach out.  I love this book because it is fairly realistic about what a new kid – especially one that really sticks out from the rest – must endure, and the power of just one person taking a stand and becoming a friend.  And yes, the author is that Katie Couric.  I was not sure what to expect, but I was really impressed.  The rhymes are sometimes a bit strained, but the overall message is great, and my son and his friends loved the book.

Leonardo the Terrible Monster

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

We love Mo Willems, so I was happy to find this book about a monster who is just not scary!  Poor Leonardo does his best to terrify people, but with no luck until he finally discovers a boy whom he can make cry.  But when Leonardo finally does, instead of being happy he feels badly and decides he would rather be his friend and make him smile.

 

Dear Whiskers

Dear Whiskers by Ann Whitehead Nagda

I cannot say enough good things about this book!  It is too advanced for Monkey, as it is a chapter book aimed more towards middle elementary school students.  It is the story of a girl who discovers how to fit in by helping a younger student make friends.  Fourth grader Jenny is disappointed when her second grade penpal turns out to be a new girl from Saudi Arabia who speaks little English and acts strangely.  But as Jenny searches for ways to connect with Sameera, she helps the little girl’s classmates look at the new girl differently as well and, in the end, makes a new friend.

Back to School Ideas and Activities: All Things Kids

Today the bloggers of All Things Kids are bringing you a series of great Back to School Ideas and Activities.  Be sure to check out all the links!

But we also want to see your great back to school ideas!  Share them below:


 

Aug 052014
 

Creating a Morning Routine that Works for Everyone {Back to School Linky Party} - Alldonemonkey.com

This post is part of the Back to School with KBN Linky Party (see below)

Monkey is not what I would call a morning person.  Even as a baby he was more of a night owl, and though we now have ways of getting our active boy to settle down at bedtime, getting him up and out the door in the morning has always been a challenge.

Things have gotten much easier, though, now that we have come up with a morning routine we both love!  He is excited because having a set routine helps him be more independent (he knows what to do!) and thus more confident.  It is also a big help to me because he can move through much of the routine on his own while I take care of Baby and get myself ready.

Here is what has worked for us:

Creating a Morning Routine that Works for Everyone

1. Together with your child make a list of tasks to include.

Obviously you as the parent have the final say on what to include in your child’s morning routine, but working on it together will help your child take ownership of the process.  Plus, you may be surprised at what they come up with!  For my son, for example, it was important to add “get out of bed” to his routine.  Nothing like being able to check something off your list right away!

2. Make it visual.

This step was crucial for us.  Monkey is at the stage of loving to read instructions (thank you, Legos!) and is always curious about what signs says – on the road, at the park, in the store, etc.  He sees these as being the ultimate authority, which is nice because it takes me – as the mom telling him what to do – out of the equation completely.  For example, if he still wants to ride in the grocery cart, I don’t have to argue with him.  All I have to do is point to the sign on the cart giving the age/weight limit.

So having a poster (with pictures, since he doesn’t read yet) was a major turning point.  As he gets ready, he loves to run in and look at the poster so he can announce which numbers he has completed.  And if I need to remind him to finish his morning routine, I no longer get an argument back from him; he accepts it as just what has to be done.

I should add that this was not always the case.  I tried this about a year ago, and it didn’t click with him at all.  So if you have tried this before without real results, I encourage you to give it another try!

Creating a Morning Routine that Works for Everyone {Back to School Linky Party} - Alldonemonkey.com

3. Include at least one “new” chore.

As we were creating our routine, I decided it was time to add something new to the routine.  Everything else was familiar to him, though we weren’t always consistent about doing them every morning.  But I also added a new task, telling him it was a sign of what a big boy he was.  I figured as long as we were setting up a new system, it was a good time to help him stretch a bit more and (in our case) start making his own bed.

4. Take time to connect.

I also made sure to include an “extra” that was important to us: saying our morning prayers together.  Before we made our “official” routine, this was the step that was frequently forgotten or even deliberately skipped in the rush to get out the door.  Now, it is on the poster, so it gets done!  It is such a great way to start the morning together, and a breather in what can be an otherwise hectic morning.  Perhaps in your case it might be reading a book together over breakfast or doing some yoga stretches.  Whatever it is, consider including a fun, connecting activity in your morning routine.

Creating a Morning Routine that Works for Everyone {Back to School Linky Party} - Alldonemonkey.com

5. Set a starting time. 

Work your way backwards and figure out what time the routine needs to start.  Decide if you will allow your child some playtime first in the morning, or if you will save this as a treat at the end.  And don’t forget to add in some wiggle room!  It never fails that something will go wrong, whether it is a spill, a rip, an extra potty break, a last minute diaper change for the baby, or a show and tell toy that has mysteriously disappeared.  Rather than being surprised, plan on this happening by allowing some extra time in your routine.  If you don’t need it, you can always allow a little extra playtime before you leave!

6. Start early and practice.

Don’t wait until the first day of school to try out your new routine.  Start well before the end of summer, so you can all try out the new routine without any time pressure or first day jitters.   Make it into a game, so your child first learns to have fun with it.  By the time school begins, the routine will already be second nature and so one less thing for you – and your child – to worry about!

Back to School with KBN Linky Party

Welcome to the Annual Back to School with Kid Blogger Network Linky Party featuring activities, crafts, supply ideas, recipes, organization, books and MORE to get your family ready for the upcoming school year!

And what better way to kick things off than with a giveaway!  The prizes are sponsored by Safari Ltd, Melissa and Doug, Trunki. Plus $50 Gift Certificates were donated for Printable Packets and/or eBooks from The Educators’ Spin On It, 3 Dinosaurs, Preschool Powol Packets, This Reading Mama, & Life Over C’s.  Don’t miss out – enter to WIN!  For US Residents only.

Back to School Giveaway

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For US Residents ONLY
Back to School Linky Party Link up your kid-friendly posts to have them featured on 35 blogs who are members of the Kid Blogger Network. We invite you to visit a few posts from participants, leave a comment, and share on social media! Thank you so much for sharing your Back to School Resources! *By linking up, you agree to have your images shared with credit. Back to School Activities and Resources

The Back to School Linky Party is hosted by members of the Kid Blogger Network:

 

Jul 252014
 

Back to School: Top Ten Ways to Support Teachers | Alldonemonkey.com

Thank you to Great Clips for sponsoring this post; however, all opinions (and love for teachers!) are my own.

Did you know that, on average, teachers spend $1,000 of their own money on supplies for their classroom?

That’s right, chronically underpaid teachers must spend their own money just to make sure their students have the resources they need to learn. Theresa, a former teacher, writes that each year she had to spend “hundreds of dollars, especially to get my classroom set up in the first two years.”

How can we as parents and community members help change this situation?

Back to School: Top Ten Ways to Support Teachers

1. Start a Supplies Drive

It’s as simple as setting up a donation box at your church or community center.  Easy to do, and everyone loves to support their teachers!  Remember that gift cards also make a great gift.

2. Take Advantage of Sales

This time of year there are great sales on school supplies, so pick up a few extra sets of whatever your child needs.  Every bit counts!

3. Do a Community Fundraiser

My local mother’s group does a big fundraiser every year for their Halloween party, and one year the designated charity was a local school.  They contacted the teachers and asked for wishlists then had the happy task of delivering personalized supply baskets to each classroom.

4. Get Creative with Teacher Appreciation Gifts

Many parents have the tradition of giving back-to-school or teacher appreciation gifts.  Why not donate supplies, a gift that will be appreciated by any teacher!  I love these creative School Supply Cakes!  And look at these wonderful Teacher School Supply Boxes from Educators’ Spin On It!

5. Help Create a Virtual “Wishlist”

Stephanie of InCultureParent shares a creative solution at her daughters’ school: “As a parent, I am always happy to support any request my kids’ teachers send home for needed supplies. The fact that teachers have to use their own money to make up for insufficient school budgets on top of insufficient salaries (teaching our future generation should be one of the highest paid professions in my opinion!) is just unacceptable. At the end of last year my daughter’s first grade teacher requested donations in a different way than before, which I thought was a great model. She used an online site and made her wish list there, which consisted of an ipad for her classroom to use for math games. My family was happy to help out a lot to purchase one. I loved this idea as the link could easily be shared with out of state grandparents and others who may want to support public schools!”  Brilliant!  Teachers get just what they need, and everyone – even extended family and friends – gets to participate.

6. Spread the Word

In her wonderful piece on supporting teachers, Jennifer of The Good Long Road writes of the importance of helping to publicize existing donation drives.  Let others know about campaigns to support our schools and how they can donate!

7. Volunteer in the Classroom

Jennifer also makes the point that time is also in short supply at local schools.  Budget cuts means most schools are understaffed, so consider helping out in the classroom or with activities like field trips.  Spending time at your school will not only lend an extra set of hands, it will also help you stay in tune with teachers’ goals and needs.

8. Be a Mentor

Overworked teachers at understaffed schools often don’t have the time to give as much individual attention to students as they would like.  Consider volunteering as a mentor to students who might be struggling or who need a little extra guidance.  When I was in high school, the local school district had a program that connected volunteers with students who were the first from their families to apply for college.  That extra help and encouragement meant the world to them and helped them realize their potential.

9. Keep Up the Support Year-Round

Don’t forget that teachers need our support all year long!  Keep in touch with your local school throughout the year to see if there are any particular needs.  It can be a real help to do a donate drive in the early spring, when teachers may have exhausted many of the supplies from the start of the year.

10. Support the #GreatList Campaign – and You May Win School Supplies, Too!

This fall Great Clips has teamed up with Adopt A Classroom to help deserving teachers while also addressing the back to school needs of families.  Visit the #GreatList page to see how Great Clips has already fulfilled two teachers’ lists!

Makeover image

How can you help?  Visit #GreatList page to download a free app that will also save you time!  The Online Check-In app lets you add your name to the waiting list at your local Great Clips salon. It’s not an appointment – what it does is let you add your name to the list before arriving at the salon to help save you time.  By downloading this simple timesaver, you can help teachers and students!  With every download, Great Clips will contribute to Adopt A Classroom (up to $20,000) to help continue to support teachers and students throughout the US and Canada.

Not only that, until 9/5/14, if you upload your own back-to-school supplies list you could win, too!  Every day, one randomly chosen winner will get their school supplies bought and shipped to their front door for free (up to $100 value). Visit the #GreatList page to enter today!

If you haven’t ever visited Great Clips before, now is a great time to try!  Many Great Clips salons are offering back-to-school pricing for haircuts, plus if you enter the #GreatList contest, you will receive a $2-off Great Clips coupon!  (One coupon per customer).

So this back-to-school season, help support teachers in all of their hard work – and save yourself some time and money, too 😉

How do you support your local teachers?

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