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Summer Service Ideas To Do With Your Kids

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It’s natural to get lazy in the summer. To spend mornings with toys, afternoons in the sun, and evenings around the television. Take a step back…Mama, is that what you want your kids to live for: an isolated life doing whatever makes them happy? Sure, it’s okay to spend time alone or doing your own thing. But what a Mama wants is for her child to be a positive, contributing member of society!

And you can foster that attitude and lifestyle this summer. Take 1-3 hours per week to serve others. Teach your kids about the world we live in: that neighbors are lonely, that kids are homeless, that military members sacrifice for our freedom, that people at school are hungry, and that the world needs to be cared for.

Here are 5 ways that you can your children can serve others this summer. Some ideas will only take an hour, while others can take as long as you’d like. Modify these activities to an age level that your kids will understand, and use these experiences to facilitate deeper discussions. Be intentional to spend time with your kids, serve others, and improve your community this summer!

1 – Help your neighbors.

The people who live on your block have a story to tell. Maybe their grandparents are sick, or they recently lost a job, or wish they had more time to take their dog on a walk. Get to know your neighbors and encourage your children to serve them.

Don’t know where to start? Host a block party so you can meet your neighbors or become aware of their needs. Compile a list and have your kids each pick one way to serve a neighbor this summer.

Don’t know how to serve? If you don’t know your neighbors well, that’s okay. Have your charming child offer to walk a neighbor’s dog, weed their flowerbed, or wash their car for free. Kids break through awkward I-don’t-know-you barriers, and most neighbors would be glad to see your children volunteering to make the world a better place!

2 – Pick up trash

Go to your local park with a garbage bag and gloves. You and you children can pick up trash to keep the park beautiful for everyone. Talk about how we can respect the earth (by throwing trash in the garbage or recycling) and why you want a clean, safe community.

Bonus: Sometimes other families or children at the park are curious why you’re picking up the trash. Use this as an opportunity for your children to talk to strangers (with you by their side). Bring extra gloves and bags in case others want to participate.

Note: Warn your child to never pick up a sharp object or needle.

3 – Draw cards for the senior citizens, public servants, and members of the military

Art is appealing to most kids. Stock up on paper and craft supplies, and let your children draw cards for the elderly, policemen, firefighters, trash men, mail men, and members of the military. Teach your child about the sacrifices required by those positions, and model how to write an encouraging note. (The art of handwritten letters is a lost art, but you can revive it with your family!)

4 – Donate to or volunteer at a food bank

Canned goods are very inexpensive and are always needed at food banks. If you can’t afford to donate food, donate your time. Kids of most ages are able to help sort food. They can sort and match all of the green bean cans, or can distribute a bulk bin of dry rice into individual zip lock bags.

Don’t know about a food pantry in your area? Contact your local school board. Many school systems offer free lunch to school-aged children during the summer, which can be picked up their food at a local distribution site. It would be eye-opening for your kids to see other kids, just like them, who can’t afford three meals per day.

5 – Give toys and clothes to a children’s hospital or homeless shelter

Most America families have extra toys and clothes in their home, especially as children grow. As a family, sort through your closets and toy baskets. Divide things into age appropriate and gender specific bags.

Take those bags to a nearby homeless shelter or children’s hospital. Together, meet other children and families. Get to know what television show the little girls likes to watch, or which sport is the boy’s favorite. Then generously share your clothing and toys with them.

These experiences will broaden your kid’s perspective on the world. It should foster gratitude and a curiosity of the grander world.

It’s worth your time

It’s worth your time to model a servant’s heart for your children. It’s worth the sacrifice to serve other people in your community. It’s worth being intentional to show your kids the broader world and discuss the realities of life (before they observe it on their own). Serving others is always worth it. Take an hour or two each week to get out of the house and into your community.

How do you serve with your kids in the summer? Share your experiences in the comments below to encourage all of our readers! We can’t wait to see the creative avenues you use or hear about how your volunteer time changes lives.

7 Healthy Homemade Snacks For Kids

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All kids have one thing in common: they play hard. Their little imaginations venture on glorious journeys. Their fingers dabble into pots of texture. Their hands morph average objects into wondrous tools of creativity. Their toys are transported into distant lands.

Those hours of adventures create a rumbling tummy ravenous for food. As a parent, you have a few options:

  1. Pass your child the first edible item.
  2. Grab a quick, pre-made snack from the pantry.
  3. Invite them to linger a minute longer so that you can create a tasty, nutritious snack together.

Reality check: sometimes the fastest foods, like a snack pack of crackers or a lunchable, are acceptable. It’s food, it will satisfy a hungry tummy, it will halt the whining, and it’s just convenient. However, let’s not allow this to be our everyday go-to.

Sure, in seasons with a newborn or while traveling or when you’re sick – absolutely opt for the quick snack. But on most days, fuel your child’s little body with big nutrients! Whole foods grown on the earth that take only a minute to prepare.

Try these suggestions for healthy snacks that include whole foods, macronutrients, natural sugar (because every kid craves the sweet stuff!), fiber, and essential vitamins or minerals. Why not enjoy these treats with your kids, too!

1 – Apple and peanut butter

This classic snack goes back decades. There is nothing better than a cold, crisp, juicy apple topped with creamy peanut butter. Cater this snack to your child’s preferences by subbing with crunchy peanut butter for more texture, or use almond or cashew butter instead. When you kids want a little something extra, sprinkle granola, raisins, or chocolate chips on top.

2 – Frozen grapes

If you haven’t tried frozen grapes, you’re missing out on a delicacy of life! Green grapes straight out of the freezer taste like a well prepared gourmet dessert. If you have the time (or if your kids beg you enough), dip the grapes in a thin layer of white chocolate, lay on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, then freeze. And Mama, no harm if you give your little ones the plain grapes while you sneak the chocolate covered ones for yourself!

Note: Always slice grapes before giving them to young children to avoid choking! Try this fancy grape-cutting tool to make slicing grapes fast, simple, and mess-free.

3 – Raspberries with white chocolate chips

Have you caught on to this trend? Fruit makes an excellent snack for kids. The more colorful the fruit, the more nutrients it contains. Such as raspberries. Stick a mini white chocolate chip inside of the raspberry for a decadent snack that you kids won’t be able to get enough of!

4 – Fruit Icee

When the summers are hot, icees are my favorite afternoon snack. It’s a simple recipe and a satisfying snack. Place a peach (pitted, peeled, and quartered), an orange (peeled and quartered), mango (pitted, peeled, quartered), or watermelon (sliced and de-seeded) into the blender. Truthfully, any fruit would work, but I find that these work best. Add 2 cups of ice. Blend until incorporated and eat immediately.

5 – Smoothie

While your blender is handy, whip up a quick smoothie. There is no right or wrong way to make a smoothie, as long as you have enough liquid so that the ingredients blend together well. Here’s my suggested snack smoothie recipe to sneak in vegetables: 1 carrot, 1 handful of spinach or kale, 1 banana, 1 cup of mixed fruit (strawberries, peaches, pineapple, mango, etc.), milk (any kind), yogurt (any kind). Optional: fruit juice (preferably from whole fruits with no sugar added). Those added veggies will provide more nutrients and keep a little tummy full for longer.

6 – Trail mix

Kids love the opportunity to get their hands messy, and younger children often like sorting and organizing. Set out ingredients for trail mix and allow each of your kids to create their own blend. Include ingredients such as popcorn, peanuts, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, raisins, craisins, cashews, or m and ms.

Note: Be aware of any nut allergies before trying this snack. Watch young children while consuming trail mix to ensure that they fully chew each bite and don’t choke on the harder nuts.

7 – Muffins

Muffins can be eaten for breakfast and for snack! Zucchini and banana are fun options that include fruits and vegetables. Whole wheat will keep your kids full for longer. Replace oil with applesauce, and substitute mashed banana for butter. Leave out ¼ to ½ the amount of sugar (most muffins have more sugar than necessary); if you need more sugar, drizzle fresh honey or a few stripes of melted chocolate on top. Bonus: when kids see chocolate, they are more likely to eat it!

Mama, what are you favorite, healthy, go-to snacks for your kids? The options are endless! And you kids probably appreciate variety. Share in the comments below so we can try out your best recommendations with our families!

5 Tips To Stay Hydrated This Summer

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Happy summer! It’s a season of living outdoors and extra time to play. But can you beat the heat?

The sweltering sun is beating upon you as you play in the backyard with your kids. The humidity is frizzing out your hair. The thermometer can’t keep up…and neither can your air conditioning. Let’s not even mention the burning leather seats or steaming seat belt buckles in the car.

All of those high temperatures can be tough on your body and make you (and your children) susceptible to dehydration. But don’t let the hot weather keep you down or make you sick. Follow these tips to stay well hydrated this summer!

Tip #1: Drink enough water

“How much water is enough water?” That question never gets old. We wrote an entire detailed post about it (you can read that here) but here’s the synopsis:

You body is made up of 60% water. Water regulates your body temperature, helps you expel waste and flush out toxins (through urination and sweating), carries nutrients to your cells throughout your body, aids in digestion, and nourishes your skin.

Recommendations fall in broad categories, but it’s suggested that you drink half of your body weight in ounces. To calculate: Take your body weight in pounds and divide that number in half. That’s how many ounces of water you should consume daily. Remember that if you’re in the heat or engaging in intense or prolonged physical activity, you need more water than a typical day.

Check to see if you and your kids are well-hydrated by checking these 3 symptoms:

  • Your urine is light yellow or clear
  • You rarely get thirsty
  • Your skin, mouth and lips are hydrated (not dry)

Tip #2: Eat foods that contain water

Aside from drinking water, you can make sure that your entire family is hydrated this summer with yummy, water-saturated foods. You’re probably thinking about watermelon and cucumbers, which are high on the list. Here’s a few more suggestions:

  • Vegetables: lettuce, broccoli, carrots, potatoes
  • Fruits: peaches, oranges, apples, pears, grapes, bananas
  • Meat: Ham, chicken, turkey

Kids often play outside during the day, so fuel their morning with a breakfast that includes fruits. A fruit smoothie with nuts, seeds, or peanut butter will also supply protein for an energized day.

Snacks of veggies and hummus or a frozen fruit icee are excellent and refreshing. To make a fruit icee, place fresh fruit (peeled, cored, or de-stemmed if necessary) in a blender with 1-2 cups of ice. Puree, adding small amounts of sugar of honey if needed. Eat immediately! This works best with peaches, oranges, and mangos.

For dinner, grilled chicken is always a win! Pair with potatoes and a salad for ultimate hydration during supper.

Tip #3: Make fun (and kid-friendly) drinks

Water can be boring, especially for your kids. Spice up your summer afternoons with a fancy drink. 100% pure fruit juice is ultra hydrating and nourishing. Mix and match flavors, or water down for younger children to limit sugar intake.

Add in soda water for pop and fizzle. Use fresh limes to make a homemade limeade! Go one step further and add crushed ice just like the restaurants do. Mama bonus: the ice cubes will melt faster and water down the sugary juice.

Want to make things even more fun? Freeze juice in an ice cube tray with a popsicle stick in the middle of each cube, then let your kids enjoy it as a “popsicle!”

Tip #4: Earn a reward for staying hydrated

Mamas and kids need incentives sometimes. If you’re struggling, invoke a reward for reaching your goal. Consider what would be rewarding for your entire family so they can all hop on board with the hydration train.

Maybe your kids can have a “popsicle” (see above) in the evening if they drank enough water before dinner. Mama can be rewarded with a glass of wine or a piece of dark chocolate. If you reach your goals all week, host a family ice cream party, have backyard water balloon fight, or go to the pool.

Make a simple chart or add tick marks to your calendar each day you’re successful. Added bonus: you will feel great because you’re drinking so much water!

Tip #5: Buy a new water bottle

This may feel like an odd tip, but don’t we all use things that we actually enjoy? If your toddler loves Paw Patrol, but him a Paw Patrol cup. If your daughter can’t get enough of the Disney princesses, purchase her a water bottle with the princesses on the side. If your favorite color is rose gold, find a rose gold bottle and treat yourself.

When your water bottle is captivating, you’ll want to look at it, your kids will want to touch it, and the end result is that you’ll drink more water.

Enjoy a hydrated summer!

Follow these 5 simple tips for a well-hydrated summer!

Since summer is so hot, you may also like a DIY all-natural deodorant spray or 5 tips to avoid sweating off your makeup, plus how to keep your hair and skin looking good this summer.

How do you stay hydrated? How much water do you drink each day? What are you favorite water-saturated foods? Share in the comments below! We’d love to hear your wisdom and share your advice with others!

Try These Single Ingredient Beauty Products For Enhanced Skin, Hair, and Nails

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When a Mama goes on a healthy diet, this usually includes genuine foods. The fresh, single ingredient fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and herbs that grow on the earth. The same should be true of your beauty routine. Go on a healthy diet of single ingredient products to improve your skin.

Unfortunately, it’s tough to come by skin care brands that avoid harmful chemicals, carcinogens, irritants, synthetic scents, or ingredients that have unknown side effects. Our skin doesn’t require special additives or potent man made products to be healthy. Our body – skin, hair, and nails – crave genuine nutrients.

Here are our products which boost your body, complete with an ingredient list of one.

Castor oil

Castor oil has received special praise lately for it’s amazing benefits for eyelash growth. But it’s quantity of vitamin E and omega fatty acids work wonders for your hair (including eyebrows) and skin as well. It’s extracted from the castor bean and may also be called ricinus oil.

Buy: 100% pure pressed castor oil.

Uses:

  • Skin moisturizer (use as a lotion)
  • To speed up the healing of wounds (gentle apply over clean wound, then bandage)
  • To condition and enhance the growth of hair (apply to eyelashes, eyebrows, and head)
  • Fights acne with it’s antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties (apply as a face toner)
  • Soothe a sunburn (dilute 1:1 with coconut oil)
  • Learn more about the internal uses of castor oil here.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties, plus is is comprised of 92% saturated fat (the good kind of fat). You may consider this an ingredient for the kitchen, but it is one of the staple items for an all-natural (and one ingredient) beauty routine.

Buy: 100% unrefined organic coconut oil, or fractionated coconut oil (in liquid form), or expeller pressed coconut oil

Uses:

  • Nourishes and conditions hair (apply as a hair mask)
  • Moisturizes skin (use as a lotion)
  • Can reduce cellulite when applied on the skin
  • As a body scrub (mix with equal parts sugar)
  • Shaving cream
  • As a natural lubricant
  • Fosters nail growth (rub on nails and cuticles before bed)
  • Anti-hair frizz (rub a small amount between your hands and then into your hair)
  • As a deep hair condition (apply to hair and leave on for several hours, then wash out with 2-3 rounds of shampoo)
  • Learn more about the internal and external uses of coconut oil here.

Argan Oil

Argan oil is another well known beauty product of only one ingredient. The argan tree produces kernels that are pressed into argan oil. It’s rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin E, and linoleic acid (which helps fight acne). It’s known for being a safe skin product that doesn’t clog pores.

Buy: 100% eco-certified organic argan oil, cold-pressed

Uses:

  • To smooth fine lines and wrinkles
  • Nighttime moisturizer (rub one drop into face and neck)
  • Add a few drops to your homemade face toner
  • As a face scrub (mix a few drops with 2 tablespoons of sugar)
  • To reduce oily skin (argan oil reduces sebum production)
  • Heal acne, bug bites, razor burn or rashes (simply apply over the affected area)
  • Lip condition (apply like chapstick)
  • Decreases stretch marks

Olive Oil

Olive oil has been around for ages. Although it may be a widely used cooking oil, it’s benefits extend to your beauty products too. It doesn’t clog your pores and won’t irritate your skin. Plus it smells divine!

Buy: 100% extra virgin olive oil, from Italy, Spain, or the Mediterranean

Uses:

  • Hair condition (apply as you normally use condition)
  • For a sheen to your hair (run a few drops through freshly blow dried hair)
  • Moisturizer (use as a standard body or face lotion that won’t clog pores)
  • Lip refreshment (apply to rejuvenate your lips, or combine with a bit of sugar for a gentle scrub)
  • Can prevent aging lines and wrinkles on your face (thank you antioxidants!)
  • Cuticle oil (rub into cuticles to rehydrate them)
  • Shaving cream (that helps your razor glide and nourishes your legs at the same time)
  • Eye makeup remover (apply with a cotton pad then wash your face with a mild cleanser)

An all-natural beauty routine

It’s easier to achieve an all-natural beauty routine, even as a busy Mama! Experiment with one of these oils (especially if you already have some in the house). Looking for more ideas?

DIY All-natural face mask (that reduces pores!)

5 Tips to look good without makeup

The Right Way To Wash Your Face

 

Summer Camp Checklist: 5 Essentials for every camper to be hydrated, healthy, and happy

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Whether your child is participating in a day camp (like vacation bible school), spending a few weeks at an overnight camp (for big kids), going on hiking adventures (for really big kids, also known as teens), or enjoying their days at the pool, park, or beach, they’ll need gear for the great outdoors. Here are 5 necessities to keep your kids hydrated, healthy, and happily loved by mom.

First priority: a backpack or day bag

Before you gather your items, make sure that your child has a bag. It can be a backpack, a drawstring bag, or a tote bag, just something that they can carry on their own to store these essentials. This is a great choice for a quality backpack. 

Next, work you way through the list and gather the items. Toss them into you kid’s backpack or day bag – now your child is ready to go!

Essential #1: Water bottle

Beat the summer heat with an insulated water bottle. While kids are running around outside, soaking up the sun, or playing with friends, their little bodies get dehydrated fast. A general rule of thumb is that kids should drink half of their body weight in ounces. For example, if your daughter weighs 50 pounds, she should drink 25 ounces of water on an average day. Up that amount if you kids are spending the day outside at summer camp!

What if you kids doesn’t really like water? No problem. If your kids don’t love plain water, drop in a few berries or flavor with a little bit of 100% juice. Consider filling their water bottle with milk or a smoothie instead. If your child is extra active, offer an electrolyte drink as an afternoon treat. 

Mama tip: Discover if your child drinks more out of a straw or an open mouth piece. Most popular brands (see below) keep liquids cool for at least 12 hours, so add ice to their bottles.

Suggested products:

  • Kids Insulated Kleen Kanteen – These come in a variety of colors so you can pick your child’s favorite. The sports cap is easy for little mouths to open and close, while the handle makes is easy to clip onto lunch boxes and backpacks.
  • Contigo Autospout Kids Insulated Water Bottle – Similar to the Kleen Kanteen, this Contigo water bottle is perfect for summer camp! It keeps drinks cold for up to 14 hours, and easily opens with the push of a button. It’s spill proof and dishwasher safe too!

Essential #2: Lunch box

It’s important for kiddos to stay hydrated with water, but did you know that they can get liquid from food too? Cucumbers, watermelon, broccoli, avocado, and tomatoes, just to name a few. By packing your little ones a nutritious, healthy, and hydrating lunch, you can help them stay active and enjoy all the activities of summer camp!

Mama tip: Looking for lunch ideas beyond the boring sandwich? Try hard-boiled eggs, chicken salad, guacamole and chips, or a turkey and cheese wrap. Discover 12 healthy lunch ideas you kids won’t hate.

Suggested products:

  • Rubbermaid LunchBlox containers with ice pack – This set is the perfect size to fill up with lunch foods and snacks! It even snaps onto an ice pack to stay extra cool and organized. The containers are dishwasher safe and the colors are sure to bring a smile to your child’s face.
  • Rubbermaid LunchBlox lunch bag – Why not coordinate you lunch containers and ice pack with the matching lunch box? It all fits together like a puzzle piece to keep your kids food cool, the portion sizes perfect, and their lunch accessible for a day at camp.
  • Thermos Food Jar – For the foods you want to keep warm until lunch, or the items you prefer to keep cold. For example, a jar of cold milk can be mixed with a small bag of dry cereal for a filling lunch that is also hydrating. Keeps things cold for 7 hours and keeps things hot for up to 5 hours, plenty of time between lunch prepping in the morning and eating lunch.

Essential #3: Sunscreen

The summer sun makes for a perfect day at the beach, in the pool, or on the lake. However, the sun can burn the tender skin of your kids or enhance dehydration. Lather up your kids in sunscreen from head to toe each morning. Reapply after they get out of the water, or again after lunch.

Slip an extra bottle in their  day bag and remind them (or their camp counselor) that they need to put on sunscreen more frequently than once in the morning.

Mama tip: Although spray bottles are convenient, avoid those bottles so you aren’t inhaling toxic fumes. Although lotions can be messy, they offer the best coverage. A stick can be an excellent choice for a young child who needs to apply it alone, just encourage them to rub it in with their hands to cover any spots the stick missed.

Suggested products:

Essential #4: Bug Spray

Kids are afraid of bugs. And sometimes Mamas and Daddys and Camp Counselors are too! Avoid bug bites and creepy crawly critters this summer with bug spray. But wait….DEET isn’t the best product, even though it’s in most bug sprays. As a Mama, you don’t want to subject your children to harmful chemicals or detrimental substances, such as N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (commonly called DEET). What’s the alternative? Natural essential oils.

Mama tip: Use a combination of peppermint, citronella, cedar, tea tree, or lavender oil to keep those bugs away from your kids. Combine the oil with coconut oil and rub gently on your child’s body (and you can even spray this diluted mixture onto their bags as well!).

Suggested products:

Essential #5: Love note from Mom

Imagine the smile on your child’s face when they find a little love note from Mom in their lunchbox or afternoon snack bag? Going away to camp can feel exciting and a little bit daunting. Kids are unsure of what to expect and know that Mom won’t be there all day long. Ease your baby’s worries and reassure them of how much you love them so that they can fully enjoy their summer adventures!

Mama tip: If you little kids can’t read well, draw them a picture. Hearts are universal for love! Or teach them what XOXO means a few weeks before camp, so that you can leave them hugs and kisses in their lunch box. Big kids prefer discreet notes, so slide a small strip of paper with a short message into their lunchbox that they can read without their friends noticing. Although they want to appear cool, they will adore your thoughtfulness.

Suggested products:

Hydrated, healthy, and happy

Send your kids off to camp prepared to stay hydrated, healthy, and happy! Remind him to care for his body well and never let your daughter forget how much you love her! 

After camp, ask your kids interesting questions (better than simply, “How was your day?”).

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