(Giveaway!!) Summer Time Means Family Play Time! Playdate Ideas for The Whole Family!

This post brought to you by Quaker Oats. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Stuff Parents Need.

School has been out for my kids for a week and a half, now. We spent a week of that time at the beach, and have only been hanging out at home for 3 full days Any guesses how many times I have heard, “Mom! I’m bored!”?

The answer is TOO MANY TIMES. I’ve had to explain to my kiddos that boredom is actually the birthplace of imagination, so it’s good to be bored. But I’ve also discovered that in many cases, that plea of boredom is a thinly veiled disguise for a request for me and/or their dad to play with them. And playing with my kids is honestly something that I need to remember to do more often.

Quaker Chewy understands the needs for families to play together, so when they reached out to ask me to talk about getting adults and kids to play together this summer, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to put together a playdate that was for kids and adults alike.

We were recently with all of the cousins on my husband’s side of the family, a fun group of 7 girls and one baby boy. Since we all live so far away from each other, we only get together every other year, which makes our time together very precious. Every adult wants to get to spend special time with each of the kids, and play is one of the very best ways to do that. Here are a few key tips I have for making a playdate inter-generational, and not strictly for the kids.

Find a Larger Space

 photo quaker alternate 5_zpsbavf9u7d.jpg We were fortunate to have access to a very large back yard that was fenced in and even had a grove area, as well as a huge open space for running. A larger park or green space can work in a similar way. I found that giving people lots of room to run around meant that lots of running around actually happened, and it provided enough space for kids and adults to participate in different activities at the same time, just depending on their interest. But the big space certainly didn’t keep the kids from gathering near each other, as Uncle Tim experienced!

Provide Yummy Snacks (and Don’t Hide in the Kitchen!)

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It’s well-known that food brings people together, so be sure to have a snack assortment that is pleasing to the eye AND to the body! I put this tray of Quaker® Chewy® Granola Bars (with 8 grams of whole grains per bar) and fresh fruits and veggies together in just 3 minutes and it was a huge hit. I wasn’t stuck in the kitchen making food while everyone else was hanging out, and I felt good about what I was serving. I had a variety of Quaker Chewy Granola Bars (Chocolate Chip, Chocolate & Salted Caramel and Caramel Popcorn Crunch) so everyone could pick their favorites. 

So what did the kids think about the snacks? Well, just look at their reaction to being told it was time to refuel! 

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Games: A Little Planning Goes a LONG Way

I fully admit that my personality type would feel comfortable scheduling out a playdate in 15 minute increments, and then drilling right through that list. This is not a strategy I would recommend, though! Kids need the freedom to spend more or less time on activities, depending on their moods and interest. Something as simple as a flower they find might entertain them for 30 minutes, as it did for one of my neices. I couldn’t have planned that, I assure you!

 photo quaker alternate 4_zpsxaldkadu.jpg Still, it’s good to have some interesting options on hand and not leave the playdate entirely up to the kids to figure out. I recommend having a few new items offered up so that every child and every adult can have the fun experience of playing with something new. Look for items that promote active play, such as a cool new ball (go for something unusual, like the one pictured below), a bubble machine, or might I even suggest a stomp rocket?  photo quaker 1_zpsx24x0zmh.jpg Each of these items was played with by everyone, but the stomp rockets stole the show. The children couldn’t resist, and neither could the grown ups. I suppose it brought out the kid in each of us!  photo quaker alternate 3_zps5edmddot.jpg

Don’t Put the Snacks Out Right Away

I know from experience that when snacks are presented first thing at a playdate, it tends to slow everything down. Kids and adults will gravitate toward the food, and the adults, in particular, might struggle to get out of their chairs once they are comfortably seated. At least that’s how I am! The kids will also be back in an hour asking for more snacks, I promise! Save the snacks for the midway point or beyond, once everyone has worked up an appetite. Let the snacks be fuel for round 2 of play instead of a stumbling block to get to round 1.

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Your Turn to Play

Friends, there has never been a better time to get inspired to play with your kids! Right now, Quaker is hosting an incredible Keep Playing! With Chewy promotion, and you have the chance to win $25,000 to make over your family play space. Let me repeat that: $25,000!!!

Entering is simple: visit www.ChewyKeepPlaying.com and submit a photo of where your family likes to play, and how you’d loved to see the space made over and why. I’m definitely entering and showcasing our backyard, which could certainly use some love to make it more inviting for play, more like the yard where we got to have our awesome playdate! The contest runs until June 13th and in addition to the grand prize, there will also be weekly winners for a $500 gift card. This promotion is definitely not-to-miss!

Your Turn to Win!

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Win it!: One lucky Stuff Parents Need reader will win an amazing Quaker Chewy Playdate package, valued at $100 and including the following:

  • A Chewy Playdate invitation pack to plan your next playdate
  • A classic Bocce Ball set for endless hours of outdoor summer play
  • A Gazillion Bubble Monsoon bubble machine for the whole family to enjoy
  • Sidewalk chalk set to get creative outdoors
  • A puzzle perfect for indoor or outdoor play
  • A red storage bin for storing your family’s favorite toys
  • A NERF Bash Ball for easy family fun
  • A variety of Chewy Granola Bars to help fuel family play, including, Big Chewy Sweet & Salty Bars and Chewy Granola Bars Variety Pack

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Quaker is providing the prizes for this program at no cost to me. This program is not administered or sponsored by Quaker or its affiliates, but solely byStuff Parents Need

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Pure Breakfast Deliciousness: Peachy Protein Shake

This post brought to you by DairyPure Milk. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Stuff Parents Need.

During the school year I confess that we fell into a bit of a funk with our breakfast options. Like most families, we are usually a bit rushed during those first few hours of the day as we prepare to launch in all our separate directions. I found myself buying the same 2-3 things for our breakfasts simply because they seemed to be quick and to be consumed without complaint.

But now that summer is here, we are a bit more relaxed and can spend a bit more time thinking bout meal prep (don’t let this confuse you with spending more time PREPARING the food…I still like to keep it quick!). I am glad to have the chance to give it more thought because I find it especially difficult to get my oldest child to eat some protein first thing in the morning (or ever, actually, but this post is about breakfast…).

But you know what that kid LOVES? Smoothies and shakes. I love giving her a big dose of milk to start the day, too, so I decided to come up with something that was simple, delicious, and packed with protein for her growing mind and body. And what I made was a smash success!

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For this recipe, I really wanted to keep the ingredient list simple and pure, with unprocessed ingredients for a fresh, healthy start to the day. That’s why I went for DairyPure milk, which comes only from cows fed a healthy diet, and that is continuously quality tested to ensure purity. Keeping artificial growth hormones out of our milk is a priority for my family, personally, and I like that it is also a priority for DairyPure (though I am required to state the following: “​No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from cows treated with the artificial growth hormone rbST and non‐rbST‐treated cows”).

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So here’s what I put in my peachy protein shake if you want to give is a try with your family (especially any of your protein-averse kiddos!).

Peachy Protein Shake

prep time: 5 minutes

total time: 6 minutes

servings: 4

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Ingredients:

  • 3 peaches, pitted and sliced
  • 1 package (12-16 oz) tofu, silken preferred
  • 2 bananas, peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/4 cups DairyPure milk
  • 1/4 cup honey

1. Place sliced and pitted peaches into a blender.
 photo peachy protein shake 2_zpsr2fjrwxv.jpg 2. Puree peaches until smooth. Remove from the blender and set aside. Wash out the blender.  photo peachy protein shake 3_zpsfbswimwo.jpg 3. Add chopped tofu, sliced bananas, honey and DairyPure milk to the blender.  photo peachy protein shake 4_zpsjrl9lg5m.jpg 4. Blend until smooth.

5. Pour 3-4 spoonfuls of the peach puree into the bottom of a glass. Top with the desired amount of the shake. Stir to combine, or enjoy it as is!  photo peachy protein shake 6_zpspewen9z1.jpg

I hope you love the peachy protein shake as much as my family does! And I hope you will give DairyPure milk a try if you haven’t already. This is something you can get from your local dairy, which makes it a truly simple choice for moms. Don’t forget, it’s backed by an exclusive 5 Point Purity Promise (no growth hormones, tested for antibiotics, continuous quality testing, healthy diet for the cows, and cold-shipped from your local dairy)!

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Follow this link to Learn more about DairyPure and to locate your nearest retailer. If you liked this recipe, you can get more DairyPure Recipe inspiration on Pinterest. And you can also get some new ideas through following DairyPure on Facebook. I just signed up to follow them on both places so that I can change our breakfast routine, and perhaps even get some new ideas for lunch and dinner!

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Residual Income, Evergreen Content, and Other Secrets to Making Money Online

“How exactly do you get paid?” is a question I hear all the time, and you’d be surprised by how often the question comes from people who are perfect strangers to me. I know people aren’t trying to pry by asking such a personal question. They simply can’t help but blurt out what they are thinking! After all, so few people seem to actually know someone who successfully earns a paycheck while working from home. It’s not an unheard of concept, yet it still seems like a bit of a unicorn (conceivable, but not actually real).

This is how I commute to work. Just kidding, I don't have a commute!

This is how I commute to work. Just kidding, I don’t have a commute!

photo credit: Y’know, hanging with my unicorn via photopin (license)

Well friends, I want to sit and chat with you all a bit more and answer some of the questions you might have about how to successfully make the transition from working outside of the home to working inside the home (or if you are already inside the home, how to fire up your computer and start generating some cash on the side).  My friend Kayla Aimee and I will tell you a bit more about our own journeys and exactly how we benefit from being our own bosses (and the benefits are many, y’all!).

Two bloggers share their best tips for making money online, including residual income, evergreen content, and ways to monetize your influence on your own time. They work from home successfully, and you can, too! Come hang out with us as we spill some of our secrets for you during a free live webinar this Thursday, May 28th at 1:00 PM ET. We’ll be chatting for about 45 minutes and we are recording the session, so even if the time is bad for you, get registered now so that the recording can be emailed to you later!

In addition to telling you more about how we get paid while staying home with our little ones, we’ll be answering some questions that we collect between now and then, as well as some questions that will come in during the event, so be sure to leave a comment below with any questions you might have about how making money from home works so that we can address as many of them as possible! And please feel free to share this with any friends you may have who are longing for a change or who want to figure out how to turn their hobbies online into income-generating activities. We can help!

Join us by clicking here! 

Summer Styles for Your Littles to Love

Complimentary outfit provided for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own, as always. 

I continue to love the looks put out by FabKids, and my children continue to reach for their FabKids clothes first whenever they are clean and hung up in the closet. This company seems to have mastered the art of combining fun styles that kids love with comfort that they also crave since they are busy playing throughout the day and need clothes that can keep up!

This month I have two major loves from FabKids. First, is our new outfit selection for the month, which is the Summer Stripe Tutu dress paired with navy leggings.

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This dress is reminiscent of one of our all-time FabKids favorites, which Darah wore on her first day of kindergarten and many MANY times after that.

We’ve already washed the dress at least 3 times (due to it being constantly picked!) and it holds up just fine in the washer. The colors are also just so vibrant and fun; it’s really such a great piece!

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And the navy leggings are a great pairing for cooler days or for times when your child might be rocking the playground equipment and need a bit more coverage. Neutrals like that will pair with tons of other stuff in her wardrobe, which will make them a great item to have in her collection.

The other thing I am continuing to love is what I call the “fire dress” that I featured last month. I loved it so much, in fact, that I ordered it for each of my nieces on my husband’s side of the family during our recent gathering together for my father-in-law’s memorial service. We live scattered all over the world, so we only get together as a big group every other year. Such an occasion warranted some matching dresses! :-)

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Aren’t they cuties? Let me tell you, it was worth every single penny, because all of the girls ADORED their dresses and spent the better part of the day twirling around in them! :-)

New to FabKids?

If you aren’t familiar with FabKids, you should definitely check it out (when you sign up through me you get 2 outfits for the price of 1 plus free shipping on your first order!). This is an outfit of the month club and it is SUPER easy and flexible, so no worries about getting locked into something you don’t really want. You get new outfit selections (which are plentiful!) on the first of the month and you have until the 5th of the month to either choose an outfit (outfits are mostly $29.95…some are $34.95) or to skip the month. Skipping is EASY…just a few clicks! Trust me, I have skipped quite a few times, myself!

If you forget to log in and skip you will be charged on the 6th and will simply have an outfit credit on file to use any time you like. So you won’t be shipped something that isn’t right for your child as a default. I love that!

Only once have I been disappointed with an outfit purchase, and FabKids very quickly fixed the problem for me with absolutely no hassle. Otherwise, FabKids outfits are pretty much instant hits around here!

Hands-On Prints Books: Bringing Montessori Home!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Hands-on-Prints books. I received books to facilitate my review.

Are you concerned about your kiddos experiencing some brain drain over the summer? This is an issue I’ve been a bit worried about, personally, and it has impacted the types of activities I am going to make available. Of course my kids are going to have plenty of unstructured play time (that’s an important part of learning, after all!) but I’m also on the look out for reading materials that can help with skill development for my pre-reader and my early reader.

Today I want to highlight two books that are fantastic summer additions to my kids’ libraries!

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My kids are in Montessori school, and one of the important learning activities that pre-readers do is to practice tracing the cursive letters while making the letter sounds. The focus isn’t on the name of the letter, but rather the sound that it typically makes. And by tracing the letter, you are using muscle memory. This is how learning, and not rote memorization, takes place.

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I am really loving the book Around the World from A to Z. This book has the raised cursive letters on one side of each page for the child to enjoy tracing. The other side of the page has very vivid images from around the world. Real-world photographs would have been most ideal, in my opinion, but the drawings are very beautiful. The images show children all over the world engaged in various activities all over the world (for example: kayaking by the Golden Gate Bridge). So in addition to the pre-reading exercises, you are also getting some geography and some information about various physical sports and games.

My youngest has begins her first preschool year in Montessori school this fall. We will be tracing our letters over the summer and continuing to practice with it throughout the school year. When she outgrows the book, I will be donating it to the school!

The other book I’d recommend for little ones as they work on identifying emotions, as well as coping strategies for when things don’t go their way, is Do I have to? What if I don’t want to. Now this book is going to be just as helpful for me as it is for my kids. There are so many great points made just to the parents at the beginning of the book about how hard it is for a child to have so little control over how their day goes (when they wake up, where they go, what they eat, etc.) and that can get overwhelming, and also really frustrating! This book takes an empathetic approach to those difficulties and also helps start conversations between parents and their children so that they can help each other work through those hard moments.

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Both of these titles are from Hands on Prints. Christina Cheung is the founder of Hands-on-Prints, and she began writing her books after establishing a Montessori school. The range of material offered on the website spans from the simple to the more complex, and incorporates tactile elements as well as a visually stimulating experience for children. Please take a moment to check out the website and see what might need to be added to your summer reading list!