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Thursday, July 27, 2017

How To Get Out The Door Quicker with Kids

If you haven't picked up a copy of Preschool Wise then I highly recommend it! I've been reading through it lately and have come across so many wonderful, practical, and useful tools.

I recently wrote this post about a simple technique for teaching your children self-control. Today I'm exploring another section from Chapter 9 in Preschool Wise.

We ALL have had it happen. We're in a rush. Trying to leave for church, school, or some other activity and our kids take forever. They suddenly turn into sloths who move so sllllowlllly that we toss up our hands in frustration and assume we're doomed to be late anytime we go anywhere.

There is hope! There is a solution! And y'all, it's SIMPLE.

Preschool wise refers to this as three candy speed but I didn't personally have any candy laying around when I did it with my kids so we call it three treat speed instead. (from page 177) "This is a way to how your child what accelerated movement is. Surely, if your child's favorite candy waited at the end of the task, you'd see lightning-fast movement from his part."

This is NOT bribing. Instead it's a training technique meant to teach your children what fast actually looks like and means. It gives them a benchmark to remember when you ask them to do something quickly!

Here's how it works:

First, choose a time when it's not rushed. I chose a random afternoon that we had free time and a messy living room.

Next, choose three pieces of candy (or in our case three small treats) and show them to your child (or children).

Explain to them that they will be cleaning the area as quick as they can (and you'll be timing them!) and then they will get to eat the treats. This was exciting for ALL of my kids. I was surprised that even my 8 year old was super pumped for some tiny cookies ;) 

Let them go get the task done!

The treats are a great incentive but older children also just love being timed to do anything. So for my older kids they were doubly motivated to be fast ;) Preschool Wise only discusses this with one child in the example, but it worked just as well for all three of mine to do it at the same time. If anything it helped them work together more to accomplish the goal. Often we face clean ups where one child played with most of the toys and the others are annoyed that they have to help, this eliminated that issue for sure!

When they are done cleaning the space stop the timer and allow them to eat the treats. As they eat the treats explain that this was a one time thing. From now on they won't be getting treats for cleaning up BUT they now know that when Mommy says "three treat speed" that they need to move as quickly as they were just moving during that experiment. 

This was something that sunk in very well with my crew. They enjoyed the treat and the timer but they also liked having an understanding of how fast I mean to accomplish a task when I instruct them to do it quickly.  

In under two minutes I had a pretty clean room and happy kids as well as a new parenting tool in my toolbox! 

As with all parental instruction, it's important to require a "yes ma'am" response when giving a command. You now will be able to say "Clean up, it's time to go! Let's use the three treat speed!" You hear the "yes ma'am" letting you know the kids understand the instruction and then they will be off as fast as lighting to get the task done! The advantageous of this are pretty endless. You can simply use the term "Three Treat Speed" and know that your children know exactly what that means. They know you mean to move fast and you will be out the door quicker than ever before. 

I'm so glad we went through this exercise during summer as I know it'll be SO useful for the upcoming school year! 

Today is our Babywise Friendly Blog Network Tips and Tricks Day where we share topics that we think are "Pin Worthy." Be sure to follow me on Pinterest! Also be sure to check out the fellow Babywise Friendly Bloggers who are all writing on topics from Chapter 9 in Preschool Wise:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

St Augustine: Day 1 and 2 {Putt Putt and Beach!}

Our annual trip to St Augustine is our FAVORITE family trip of the year! We have the best time and it's just always a chance to do a lot of relaxing and reconnecting as a family. We are so beyond blessed to have a family friend who gives us an incredible deal on his perfect-for-us condo. We are just so thankful and were so eager for this time together!

I will tell you what. This point in the game of children packing is no joke. It took me the full week leading up to the trip to be completely packed and ready for it! There was also a high chance of rain every day so I did pack more than usual just in case we had to seek indoor activities.

Something that was also extra exciting about this particular trip was that it was the oldest we've ever had kids go to the beach without another baby. Tess is super close to being 3. Life is SO MUCH EASIER. While we are ready and waiting for Tab to join us, I have to also find the positives in the wait and this phase of "older kid" life is such a breeze and is something we've never experienced. We decided to really YOLO it up this trip. We headed down to the beach first thing Saturday (July 1st) morning even though check in wasn't until 3. We figured we'd find some fun and enjoy the day! Who cares about naps when you have kids old enough to go with the flow :)

Loaded up!

Poor Kye haha We did agree: when Tab comes, it's time for a luggage hitch or storage rack!

With the high chance of rain for the trip we thought we'd be smart and go ahead and knock out a "must do" item from our list: putt-putt! We love this tradition of playing putt-putt as a family and even in the HEAT we had a great time! 

Kye is VERY serious about it!

Britt impressed us too with how seriously she took it and how she played almost every hole!

Tess was hit and miss. She played some, she whined some, she was happy some, she was miserable some. 18 holes of putt-putt during the hottest part of the day during the hottest part of the year makes me a little miserable too ;)

Zach is SUCH a great daddy. He's a great "boy dad" but he's also so sweet and patient with the girls too. 

In the pirate ship!


Then Kye turned around and made a hole-in-one on the same hole! Last year Kye didn't get a hole-in-one so he was extra excited for this one :) 

Hole-In-One Club!

Tess loves keeping the look out for animals :) 

So. Sweaty. 

Hanging out in the cave out of the sun!

Gah I can't remember the last time that I got to be present for all 18 holes. I'm always the "kid keeper" and end up having to call it quits as some point and go sit in the building and wait for Zach and the other kid(s) to finish. I won't ever forget the year Britt pitched a HUGE fit early on and I got stuck sitting in the car with her haha. It was great to actually get through all 18 holes...but I did miss that excuse for some AC ;)

Real life ;)

Our family! 
(sidenote but I found this top from our HONEYMOON and love it!)

Here's some videos from Putt-Putt:

We finished up putt-putt around lunch time and were SO crazy (for us anyway). We didn't pack lunches or even have a plan of where we'd eat. We totally made a decision in the car in the parking lot of the putt-putt place. I know that's probably the norm for most people but it's something that never happens with us. We ended up hitting up Sunset Grill We were seated in the bar area and once we finished eating and walked through the main dining area I wish we'd asked to be moved to there. But it was still a good experience! 

Kye did SO GREAT at putt-putt! He had a WONDERFUL attitude and scored really well! He was super close to Zach's score!

How cool are these kids cups?

Coloring pages the kids did for me ;)

We got two kids meals, I got an appetizer and Zach got another cheaper menu item and our bill was still at $40. INSANE. Again, I know that's the norm. We talked a lot about how people probably look at us and all the trips we take and assume we drop some CRAZY money. But y'all that couldn't be further from the truth. We very, very rarely eat out and when we do we bring a lot of filler items for the kids so we can spend less. After that $40 lunch we totally understand how families could easily come to St Augustine for a week and spend thousands. I typically budget $200 out of pocket spending for the week and we usually come in around that depending on the activities we do! 

I did get a spinach, artichoke and crab dip and if you ever go to Sunset Grill it's a MUST GET. So SO good!

Silliness ;) 

We all felt full but snacky and still had some time to kill before we'd be allowed in the room so we went back to the putt-putt place and took advantage of their cheap deals on ice cream! Perfect treat!

Gah. I love him in a baseball hat! 

We were able to check-in and get settled in right at 3 which worked out great! 

While unpacking I was SO PUMPED to find Tess's hair from her first haircut!!! 

The condo has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. So far we've been doing Kye and Britt in the twin bed bedroom and Tess in the pack and play in the master bathroom. We already talked about how next year, assuming we're blessed enough to be welcomed back, that we will do an air mattress for Tess with the big kids and, again if we're blessed with a baby by then, put Tab in the master bath ;) 

The kids love the big mess they can make in the bedroom during the week. And I love how I never have to go in there haha!

Our routine is that Zach runs to the grocery store while I get everything unpacked and settled in. It's a solid system! It was such an extra blessing of being so well acquainted with the condo and knowing the things we needed to bring and knowing where to put everything. When he got back I headed to the St Augustine Outlets. Last year Britt and I took some time to go shopping together. We had planned to repeat that this year but we just couldn't fit it into our plans. Britt said she didn't care if we went shopping or just did something else together so I figured it'd be better for me to just go solo. The outlets were open late that evening and I could knock out some shopping while Zach got the kids fed and in bed!

At first I struggled with finding much. H&M was SO OVERPRICED which was frustrating. Not many good deals at all. Then I went into Francesca's and was pleasantly surprised! I ended up scoring both of these cute dresses for $16 total! 

My main mission though was one place: GAP FACTORY.

Our Gap was my JAM and it closed down a couple years ago. I was so pumped to get to hit it up again! 

I stayed in there for a good couple of hours ;) I was really focused on our family pictures and trying to find outfits to wear and then I just shopped around for DEALZ. And boy did I find 'em! 

19 Items for a total over $104! Whoop whoop!

I got some cute stuff for the kids but I LOVE the stuff I got for myself! TWO adorable jackets, three pairs of super cute pants, and a ton of other great finds! 

Plus Gap Cash to spend later ;)

Our first morning of the trip we woke up and took our time getting up and spent lots of time snuggling. And singing Moana, of course. 

Zach had called me while I was shopping saying Tess was crying a lot and wanting me and I about died when I realized he let her sleep with ALL HER FRIENDS haha. On vacations we let the kids fill a trash bag of friends and let the big kids sleep with however many they bring each night. I cracked up that he let Tess do the same thing!!!

Another advantage to no baby yet? Getting to get out to the beach SO EARLY. It was BEAUTIFUL and not crowded. Each morning we were usually at the beach by like 8! And that was even without having to rush or anything! 

Britt LOVES the waves! She's our beach girl for sure :) 

When we were packing for the trip I had Tess's little blow up pool out to bring with us. Since she's been a baby we've used it at the beach to put water in and let her play. Zach said she's old enough now not to need it. Sure enough we got to the beach and the FIRST thing she said was "where is my pool?" hahaha! She did love the water and the sand but it was so funny to me that she remembered that little pool and wanted it! I do think if we'd brought it she would have still enjoyed it, but she was also fine without it too! 

Britt loves having her hair DOWN. I can't stand how it's all in her face and so messy but she loves it! 

We built Elsa and Anna drip castles ;)

The big mission for the boys this trip was to build a sand ball racing track! 

I took several videos for them of the races (Kye requested for me to put them "on Twitter" haha)

Zach and I both love the beach but get annoyed by ALL THE SAND. Looks like Britt and Tess were enjoying annoying us haha

Yes. Completely on her own the child starting making sand angels!

One of our favorite things during the trip each year is to just CHILL. All the kids nap and Zach and I can just hang out and binge watch whatever show we're into. We were both feeling eager I guess to get done with How I Met Your Mother because we thought we were on the final season but then realized we had an entirely unwatched disc from Season 8 to still get through ha!

After nap we headed back to the beach! Sure, it was 5:00 but who CARES. We still had plenty of beach time left ;) 

Here's Kye riding a wave...and here's him having an epic fail

I always read those articles about how dads need to do better at taking pictures of moms. And I agree with them! I am ALWAYS quick to grab my camera and because of that we have loads of awesome pics of Zach doing things with the kids. But most of mine with the kids are posed because they only happen when I ask for them. I'm so thankful that Zach grabbed my camera a couple times on this trip. I love, love, love these pics of me enjoying my babies! Both Zach and I spent a TON of time being IN the moment with the kids this trip and really focused on that rather than watching our kids from afar, we wanted to be having the experiences alongside them. 

Classic haha

You can get my suit here! It runs true to size. It is a little cheeky for me but I got LOADS of complements when I wore it to the beach that night so it must not be too cheeky. 

My new favorite pic! I love that Kye is in the background too so technically it's me with ALL my babies ;) 

Dinner at the beach!

I put the kids down while Zach ran out to get us some "date night" dinner! I love sweet snuggles with Tessie as she still likes for me to hold her while I sing to her :)

All the friends haha since Z let her on night 1 we were kinda stuck with it the whole trip! 

Zach went to A1A Burrito Works (SO YUMMY) for our dinner and saw this funny sign

Burritos, Queso, and this hottie ;) 

As you can already tell, this was SUCH a wonderful trip!!! Much more to come!

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