Chores: Helping Out and Having Fun with Kids + Chore Chart Printable

Whoa. I'm busy people. Really. Busy. I'm in one of those stages where I feel overwhelmed by the amount of "to-do's" that need to be checked off my never-ending list. While I was in a blissful lull for a while at real work, that abruptly ended when back-to-school season reared its ugly head (busy season for the education business and all). Also, my own kids started school again, as well as soccer season. That combo has tuned my evenings into a swiftly moving machine—churning out a well-balanced dinner, a few homework assignments, and clean underwear like clockwork. So between all of the things that have to get done, it's hard to find time for anything else. Cue chores.

Growing up, I never had chores. That's not to say I never had to help out. I emptied the dishwasher, made my bed (occasionally), and picked some weeds once in a while but there was nothing official. No chart or expectations. I just did some work whenever my parents asked me to. My kids, on the other hand, want real-deal chores. They ask for them regularly. I swear. It's either the ages they are at or I struck gold with these two. So we're making it official with the help of our #BigGreenBox from Swiffer and a fancy new chore chart. (Click here and here for the printable chart PDFs).

When our box arrived the kids were pumped. To be fair, they practically tackle every delivery person who's truck happens to slow near our house, but this time they were extra excited that they got to open and dig through everything. And I was excited they were excited about cleaning. :)
Swiffer Duster assembly takes quite the concentration.
Then they began madly cleaning everything in sight. Apparently the door needed dusting.
"I'll do in here mom!" While at first I thought this afternoon was going to end up as just something we'll do to pass the time until daddy gets home, they really did clean!
Can you smell the freshness? I really like that you can use the Swiffer Sweeper wet or dry. One very small tool that fits behind the laundry room door and does double duty.

After they tested everything out we came up with a real list of chores a four and six year old could realistically complete. I just tried to think of things that would really help me out and that would make them feel proud as they checked them off their lists. They include emptying the dishwasher, running the Swiffer Sweeper around, putting away laundry, and feeding Fishie to name a few.
Fishie is our goldfish who lives right outside our son's bedroom and is his responsibility to feed. Problem is, when you're four years old, 75% of the fish flakes get in the tank and the other 25% get everywhere else. We've decided to hang the Swiffer Duster next to the fish flakes. Now he feeds and cleans up right after. It's a thing of beauty I tell you and no one has fish flakes stuck to their socks.

After our chore success, we thought about who else would love a Big Green Box as a surprise. My brother and sister-in-law were the target. With 3 kids and 3 dogs, we knew they would appreciate the #SwifferEffect like we did. We came over to visit one evening and I told them I'd be ringing the doorbell with a surprise. My kids are in that mix too... It makes me laugh because kid after kid just keep coming out of the door. haha

Did you have chores as a kid? Do your kids have chores? So far the enthusiasm is still there and the kids are still excited to use their Swiffer Duster and Sweeper. Let's hope I can keep this going so Mama can keep her sanity :)

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


DIY Superhero and Princess Sharpie Plates

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by NBTY through their partnership with Circle of Moms by POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by Circle of Moms by POPSUGAR to write a post about NatureSmart Vitamins, all opinions are my own.
It's not often that I'm away from my kids. So when I do have a trip that's Mommy-only, things at home are a little weird. Not that my husband can't handle Mr. Mom duty for a few days, but it's just not the same as the real deal (ahem, me) being there. This weekend is one such time. I'm headed off for a few days to hang with my blogging buddies in Atlanta, kid-free. And, since I know they'll be missing me at home (okay, maybe I'm secretly hoping they'll be missing me) I decided to craft up a little surprise for the kids while I'm gone.

Like most little boys, my son is a superhero fanatic. He Hulk-smashes and Thor-hammer whacks several things a day. Same goes for my 6 year old except instead of violently ruining furniture, she wears 12 princess dresses a day and can kick a soccer ball in plastic princess heals like nobody's business. From bubble bath, to clothing, to sheets, to vitamins, it's all princesses and superheros around here, all the time.

So in keeping with their current loves, I decided to DIY some Sharpie plates for them to use at breakfast (since I usually eat breakfast with them) while I'm away. Here's what ya do.


  • Dollar Store Plates
  • Variety of Sharpies

Step 1:
Divide the rim of your plate into even sections. I eyeballed this and used a piece of tape to keep my lines straight. Also, I used a dry-erase marker to make these lines just in case I messed up. But if you're brave, dive in with a Sharpie. Make as many sections as you feel like decorating differently.

Step 2:
Draw a circle to divide the rim from the rest of the plate. I figured it was best to keep the part of the plate that would have food on it free of Sharpie. I used a smaller bowl and traced.

Step 3:
Freehand your superhero or princess designs. I did a quick search online and found really simple icons to represent each of the Avengers and princesses. I basically looked for what would be the easiest to draw. To get really neat circles, I traced coins :)

Keep going! It doesn't have to be perfect. (You can make fun of my Hulk hands now) haha

Step 4:
Fill in the backgrounds. For the neatest look, try as much as possible to keep the marker lines going the same direction.

Step 5:
Bake them in the oven to really set the Sharpie. Most DIY Sharpie fellow bloggers recommend letting the Sharpie set for 24 hours. Then, place the plates in a cold oven and turn it on to 450 degrees (hot!). Let them bake at 450 for about 30 minutes then turn the oven off. Leave the plates in the oven, and let the plates and oven cool completely before taking them out. I still wouldn't trust the dishwasher but that should keep things pretty permanent.

That's it! They're done. Minus a few questionable Sleeping Beauty crowns and Iron Men that look a little bit like scary rabbits, they look pretty good!

So on top of the new surprise plates, they also got new surprise NatureSmart Gummy Vitamins in Disney Shapes and Gummy Vitamins in Marvel Shapes. Every time we grocery shop they either ask for new toothbrushes or these vitamins so I know they will be excited to have not 1 but 3 varieties to choose from in the coming mornings. Just a small simple thing that lets them know I'm thinking about them even if I'm away.

Their favorites at the moment are the Gummy Vitamins in Marvel shapes. They remind me of old fashioned gum drops. The kids love picking two each morning to have with breakfast and trying to figure out what each shape is. They taste great and add a little excitement for them to quick school-morning breakfasts.

And I'm not going to lie... the hubs and I enjoy some sweet Gummy Vitamins in Disney Shapes now and again too. :) It's a nice "treat" I add to our packed work lunches every once in a while.

So I'm going to try and bribe the hubs to take some pictures of their first surprise breakfast complete with new mom-created Sharpie plates and vitamins while I'm away. I'm sure they'll be excited in a half asleep/bedhead kind of way!

Disney Elements ©Disney, Disney/Pixar Elements ©Disney/PixarManufactured by NatureSmart, LLC
©MARVEL Manufactured by Rexall Sundown, Inc.


Home is Printable

As summer wraps it up and the days of schedules, routine, and homework roll back in, I appreciate more than ever a good pair of stretchy pants, don't you? ;) When school's back in my days get packed full of deadlines and drop-offs, lunch-packing and pick-ups. All of this happening in non-stretchy clothing. Why's it gotta be so stiff?

It all starts at 6am when my alarm goes off and I ignore it until my husband starts poking me to get up. Then on with the work attire, getting the kids up, dressed, and fed, packing the lunches, organizing the backpacks, and pouring the coffee.  Out the door for work, run a few sweaty errands at lunch, then back to work to make sure I get it all wrapped up by 4pm so I can be on time to pick up the kids, and hurl them into the car to rush to whatever practice happens to be that night. Then it's usually an errand or two on the way back home (with two very sweaty, tired children in tow... always a good time), throw some dinner together, homework, baths, bed, ... repeat. This is my cardio.

So I thought I'd have a little fun today with a printable celebrating my at-home uniform and letting you know I got your back as we head back into the trenches this fall. I work, I mom, I blog, I wife. I get it. It's hard and we all deserve to sit on the couch in our stretchy pants for that 10 minutes of quiet time each night (even though I know we'll probably be folding laundry). Just click the image to download the 8"x10" PDF printable. Enjoy.


Sharpie Monograms {Teacher Gifts}

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Staples, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia  #StaplesBTS http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

We're under the two week mark here for the big day. Have you finished your back to school shopping yet? We did, and the minute we got home from Staples the kids stuffed their new backpacks full of folders, sanitizer, notebooks, and more pencils than you would imagine a 1st grader would need.  Pretty soon my morning lunch-packing assembly line will fire back up, homework will find its way back into our evening routine, and school busses will slow my commute... and we're all excited. 

Part of the excitement for the kids going back to school is meeting their new teachers. I forget how much you love your teacher when you're six and four. Believe me, they do and it's so cute. So they were really enthusiastic when they found out I was going to doodle little monogram signs for them to give to their teachers on the first day. 

Lately I've been sharing some of my Sharpie illustrations on Instagram that I do for my day job and I thought today I could walk you through my process. It also got me thinking that I should start drawing more often for me (with a little encouragement from you guys too)... well for gifts and friends and things and not just work. So while the kids were stuffing our cart with safety scissors and glue sticks, I threw a few giant packs of Sharpies into the cart too. And -bonus- starting August 10th all Sharpie Fine and Ultra Fine markers and highlighters will be on sale at Staples while they last. I may need more.

Normally when I illustrate for work I don't plan anything. I usually don't even draw with a pencil first or measure anything. Wing it all the way. But since I was creating letters and numbers this time, I decided to print out a thin outline first to keep everything neat. I did a variety of the grades they are going into and the first letters of their teachers last names.
I usually start at one corner and work my way to the other breaking the space up into chunks and then filling in those chunks with more detail as I go.
I traced over the printed outline as I went too so the whole thing looks drawn and not printed. More personal and less like I cheated. ha!
Once the main object I'm working on is filled in, I almost always think "it needs something" and add little doodles that trail off to the outsides.
Like this.

The kids were busy at work with me making their own creations. Nothing like fresh markers to stir up some creativity. Only rule was, don't shake the table (or draw on your sister's face but I think that one goes without saying now... I think).

I actually illustrated a variety of K's, experimenting with different color combos. I think I tend to lean towards monochromatic or just black. While my daughter loved the combo for this K I thought it was a little too juvenile. I did another in oranges and yellows.

 She's already claimed this one for her room since, well, K for Kaley.

Here's version 2.
 And the combo I ended up liking much better.

After all of the illustrating was done, I sprayed two dollar-store frames a bright orange.

Then I hot glued ribbon to the backs. In my mind these will hang on a door knob so I made it long enough for that, but really I have no idea where their teachers will put them... door knob, trash can... you know, whatever. (kidding... I hope!)

And that's it. I really like how sweet and personal they are for very little money. Besides being a great teacher gift, these would be a really cute way to display a baby's name on a nursery wall too. Are you inspired to try it? C'mon! I know you can't resist a new pack of Sharpies. :) Happy back-to-school shopping!