How to fly with a toddler

I was recently talking with a friend who was getting ready to fly across the country with her one-year-old.  I have been on many flights with a toddler or two and she was asking me for my tips on how to fly with a toddler.   After I gave her my list of ideas and what worked and what didn’t I thought  “Hey! This could be a blog post! “.  

My first flight with a toddler was 11 years ago with our oldest child and she was my easy going, easy to please, but still 18 months old and a prone to tantrums if she was tired or hungry- like any 18- month- old.  She also loved movies and cartoons.  So I packed a portable DVD player, some snacks and we were on our way.  She did well the first three hours before we switched flights for the last leg of our journey.  That’s when she had a complete come apart.  It was way past her bedtime and she was just tired so it was a battle to try and get her to sleep.  So lesson learned- try to fly during happy hours- not night time!  

Our second flight with a toddler occurred when we took our three children to get their new baby sister that we were adopting.  The flight was 2- 2-hour flights with a layover in between.  We had a nine-year-old, a four-year-old, and a 16-month-old.  The flight there went beautifully and all my tricks worked.  Even the flight attendants commented on my amazing snack trays each of the kids had.  On the flight home, we also had our new baby who was 2 months old.  We were a crazy lot traveling through the airport and all the people there were giving us crazy looks because I think most people with that many kids and those ages just stay home!  But we managed to get all our car seats, two strollers, and baggage checked in and all 6 of us through security.  Oh man, it was exhausting.  Once on the flight, we were doing pretty good until my 16-month-old lost it.  He was tired and it was at night, and unfortunately we had to have the later flight home.  He screamed for what seemed like an hour while my husband tried to quiet him.  As soon as the seatbelt sign went off he stood up and walked him down the aisle where the flight attendants gave him some candy and a kind passenger rubbed Lavender oil on his back.   I am not sure if it was the candy or the Lavender oil, but he was happy and quiet after that!  

We have since flown with our youngest baby when she was 14  months old and here’s our list of what has worked and what hasn’t.  

A variety of snacks, some old favorites, and some exciting new ones.  Have salty, and sweet.  You never know if a child will be motion sick and salty snacks tend to help nausea.   We put a variety of snacks in these craft boxes that you can buy pretty much anywhere, this one is from amazon and I love the handle!  I packed fruit snacks, crackers, pretzels, cereal, dried fruit, granola bars and some candy.  You can have a variety of old favorite treats and some fun new snacks. 


They each got a water bottle or a sippy cup (depending on age) which you can go through security with if it’s empty and the lid is off.   Baby bottles can go through full, but they will test it.  Also, do not use the soft form ice pack, use a hard pack.  They gave us an exception on this but they almost took away my ice pack for my bottle of milk.  




New toys!  This one is a hit at our house and was perfect for long hours on the plane.  


These last two tips were a serious favorite!  If I could only pick three things that you should bring, it would be the snack case and these games below! 

You just take a cheap container cut a small hole in it that is big enough for buttons to go through.  This provided long term entertainment for my toddlers.   When you’re done, you just store the buttons in the container and if you want you can add tape to the hole but our hole was just the perfect size that nothing fell out. 








Take an old spice bottle with the large holes in the lid and cut pipe cleaners to fit.  My 16 month old loved this!  I was surprised at how long it kept his attention.  

















If you have a layover, find a quiet place open place for them to run around and get their wiggles out.  Some airports have kid zones and even mother’s lounges with changing stations and rocking chairs.  Bring favorite blankets and get a window seat so that they can’t easily escape and the window shade makes for great entertainment.  

Sanity Saving Chore System

sanity saving chore systemI am not going lie, teaching the kids to be responsible human beings that clean up after themselves is HARD.   I have been using just a rotation schedule for my two oldest.  The downfall to it is that it is usually me nagging them to finish their chores and it is my responsibility to check their work and tell them if something isn’t quite up to par.  I was becoming the enemy in my home and the parent that nobody wanted to be around. I was tired of it and my kids were tired of it.   I was talking to a friend about my dilemma and she told me how she does chores with her kids.  I tried her methods and oh my goodness!  The results were incredible!  My kids finished chores quickly and efficiently and I didn’t even have to check in and make sure things were done correctly.  So without further delay, this is what I like to call the Sanity Saving Chore System.   

To start you will need the following:

Either a Dry erase board, chalkboard, or Paper – anything to write your list on.

Dry erase markers, chalk, or pencil – to write with.

Easy Peasy right?!

We use a dry erase board at our house and I proceed to write down all the things that need to be done in the house.  I add easy things to the list for the younger kids that are just starting to learn chores and for the other kids I break up the chores into manageable chunks that won’t overwhelm them.  

Today my list looked like this:

Living room floor

Dining room floor

Kitchen table


Office floor


Sweep kitchen

Half-bath toilet


Empty garbage in kids bathroom


The little kids’ list would look something like this:

Pick grapes up off the floor

Pick up your dirty clothes and put in clothes hamper

Pick up dirty towels in the bathroom

I then ask the kids to come in and pick a chore from the list.  The first person to complete the chore gets to pick their next chore. I pick a few chores as well and it feels like a family event.  It is then a race to see who can get finished first so that they can do the easier chores.  I have never had the chores finished so quickly.  When everything is complete the kids then go through the list and check each other’s work.  They pick someone to check and go through and tell the other sibling what they may have missed and ask politely for them to finish the task properly.  So now I am completely out of the fray so to speak.  

Sometimes I will pay them for certain chores and add the $$ amount that I am willing to pay for certain items on the list.  It’s a great way for them to earn extra money and it’s easy for me too!

This has seriously changed our chore attitude around the house.  When asked if they liked our new chore system the kids responded with an astounding yes!  So fellow parents, if you are struggling with chores around your house, give this a try!

Circle by Disney

I first learned about the Circle by Disney with one of their ads, a video with a mom trying to control all of the devices and internet activity at her house.  Something that every mom goes through these days unless she just doesn’t have the internet or tablets or smart phones or iPods or kindles, etc.  

meet the circle

BTW- this is not a sponsored post, just my own opinion about something that made my life easier.  

In our home, I was constantly finding kids on our iPad and or computer when it was time for chores or do homework.    They would sneak off into their room and watch Netflix or play some game.  It was so hard to keep on top of it.  So after seeing the Circle ad and researching it a bit more I decided I wanted one.  My husband purchased it for me on mother’s day and I have absolutely loved it!  

Here’s how it works:

You set it up to your wireless network and basically it becomes your new wireless network.  You download the app and sync up all the devices that are in your home.  I have all my computers, smart phones, IPads, and ROKU’s on my circle app and I can CONTROL all of them!  It is literally amazing.  

Step 1- Follow the directions for the Circle to set it up to your wireless network. We had some technical difficulties but customer service was super helpful.

Step 2- Find the devices in your home and give them a profile.  You can do this two different ways.  If your child has their OWN device then you can make a profile for your child and give it the settings you want.  If your child does not have their own device then you can make a profile for that device.  Our family does not have their own devices, therefore I gave our devices profiles with appropriate settings.  For instance, our iPad is used for all the kids at various times of the day, so I gave it it’s own profile.  


meet the circle- how to use


Step 3- You set up each profile and what filters and settings you want for that profile.  It comes with 4 preset settings, Pre-K, Kids, Teen, and Adult.


You can block or filter any website or app you want, all from your phone.




Step 4- Set up time limits for those profiles.




It will show you what sites your child has been on and how much time was spent on those sites.  You can set time limits for those as well.  



   If I know that my son is using a device for school for 30 minutes, I can give it a time limit of 30 minutes.  At the 30 minute mark, it will give you a time limit notice and will no longer connect to the internet



And you can add a bedtime so no worries about your child being on a device all night long!


Circle time limits and bedtime


I have LOVED my Circle and now they have Circle go with will work with your mobile devices.  Seriously it’s a parent’s dream come true.



how homeschooling turned out differently than I expected



how homeschooling turned out differently than I expectedIt is the end of the day as I write this; I am in the office eating leftover birthday cake and I am counting down the minutes until bedtime.  Mere minutes folks.  The quiet is so close I can taste it!  Bedtime is a favorite around here, at least for the adults.  It’s when I can turn my brain off and just relax. 
   Daylight savings time has brought the dark much earlier than I like and for some reason 6:30 pm feels more like 10:00 pm.  Does this happen to anyone else?  
The perk to it being dark is that the little kids don’t realize the time and I can now put them to bed shortly after 7:00 and they still sleep until 6:30 or 7:00 am.  So that’s AHMAZING!  And I tell you what, with all that extra sleep we wake up happy and ready to start our day!

Anyway, enough about that.  Let me tell you about the most unexpected and awesome outcome of homeschooling.

  I think my biggest surprise since homeschooling is how absolutely freeing and calm it is.  Not what you expected me to say was it?

 Most moms I tell that too are often surprised.  They usually say “I could never homeschool my kids.  Summer is hard enough.”

Granted, not every moment is peaceful and calm but allow me to give you an example.

   On a normal Sunday evening visiting with family or friends, there’s no rush to get home to have the kids in bed by 8:00 pm.  We stay and enjoy the visit.  We leave at a relaxed pace and have joy in knowing we built  relationships. 

Morning time: There’s no rush to get up and pack lunches, make breakfast, eat breakfast, get the kids dressed, gather the homework, finish homework that they forgot they had, grabbing backpacks, coats, finding shoes, and rushing to catch the bus by 7:30 in the morning.   We get up at 7:00 am, make breakfast together, read our scriptures while we eat breakfast, clean up breakfast, exercise,  do our morning chores, get dressed and are ready for our day by 9:00 am.  It’s a calm pace which means less yelling for me and tension being felt by all the rushing around. 

The rest of the ‘school day’ is 9-3 pm with lunch and a few breaks in between.  Those hours are a calmer, relaxed time with learning activities, reading, textbooks, and arts or crafts.  My children and I are bonding regularly throughout the  day. I don’t have to worry if I spent enough time with them in that small window of time after public school was over.  

After 4:00 pm, normally had crazy painted all over it when my children were in public school.  We would rush to finish homework and then get them to the after school activities, music, dance, gym, sports, etc.  Then it was rush home to finish dinner and eat, do reading time, bath, pajamas and bedtime.  There was hardly enough time do anything beyond the essentials.  Now I have all their music and dance lessons scheduled during the day and our evenings are usually free.

One of my biggest concerns was that I would get burnt out from all the pressure of homeschooling.   Here’s what I decided to do. 

I chose to do school year round. Why?

Because I knew myself and knew that I would put undo pressure on myself to keep up with the public school.  Plus, the real world does not take 3 months off every summer.   So I switched it up and I homeschool all year so that I feel ahead and I have time for a day off if I can tell the kids need to switch up the routine, it allows for flexibility when days are just not going to work to have a full school day.  You know those days where you had extra appointments, meetings, sick kids, or the ” stuff happens” days.  

I also arranged my homeschool schedule to have 4 weeks on and 1 week off.  On our week off, I felt the best approach was to have a laid back or informal school.  Those laid back weeks are mostly planned around holidays if possible and I allow the kids to do whatever they want as long as they are learning.  Sometimes we go for hikes, we have read-a-thons, build with legos, go on field trips, play learning games, watch educational movies, bake and cook,  play for hours outside, or go crazy with Pinterest projects, etc.  We have SO MUCH FUN in those weeks.  It is the ultimate bonding time.  I am not worried about missing lessons in textbooks because I feel that learning needs to be fun and relaxed at times too. And they learn SO much on those weeks.  I really feel like it rounds out our education.   Plus it gives me time to plan the next 4 weeks and change anything that needs to be rearranged or adjusted.  The break does all of us a world of good.  

Life is incredible and I am so supremely lucky to spend this life with my children at my side.  I am adoring these moments with my kids. Watching them learn and grow are moments I wouldn’t trade for anything.  Homeschooling is not something to be feared but is something to delight in.   In the world today, there are resources in abundance to help all those moms who are still on the fence.  Homeschooling today is less daunting than it would have been 30 years ago.  So if you are feeling like you should homeschool but are letting fear take over, I urge you to let the fear go and embrace the idea of homeschooling.  









Prayer Journal

How to prayer journal

A Prayer Journal, what is that you ask?  
Let me explain…

Recently, I was visiting with moms from our homeschool co-op and we were discussing prayer and one of the moms told us that she  had “switched up” the way she prayed.   She told us that she writes down her prayers every day.  In a journal of sorts.  What she has noticed over time, is that she had the ability to be more specific about her needs and that by being more specific she was able to see specific answers.  
The idea completely intrigued me so I set out to try it myself.  Here’s what I did:

I start my morning by opening my prayer and then I pull out my phone and use the notes app OR grab some paper and begin writing.  
I always start with I am thankful for…

I then go through my previous day and think about everything that happened and I start writing down all the things I have to be grateful for.   It is absolutely enlightening to see how many things happen in a day that I never really took notice of before.  God is good.

After I write my thankful for, I then start with Help me with…
I ask God for help with the things I am struggling with or needs I have or my family has.  By being so specific with my needs, I find I am more in tune to feel the answers.  It has truly been fascinating.  I also ask for someone I can be of service for that day.  Sometimes a friend or family member will come to mind or maybe a particular child or even my husband.  As you are writing your thoughts, you will find answers come to you.  

Lastly, I end with Forgive me for…

I ask God’s forgiveness for the mistakes I have made or the places I fell short.  As I write theses words I am given thoughts and feelings of ways to help me not repeat past mistakes or just comfort in knowing God loves me. 

I love this quote by Elder Juan A. Uceda, “At the very moment we say, “Father in Heaven,” He hears our prayers and is sensitive to us and our needs.  And so His eyes and His ears are now connected to you.  He reads our minds, and He feels our hearts.  You cannot hide anything from Him.  Now, the wonderful thing is that He will see you with eyes of love and mercy -love and mercy that we cannot fully understand.  But love and mercy are with Him at the very moment you say “Father in Heaven”.  So a moment of prayer is a very, very sacred moment.  He is not one to say “No, I will not listen to you now because you only come to me when you are in trouble.”  Only men do that.  he is not one to say, “Oh, you cannot imagine how busy I am now.”  Only men say that.  “

I cannot express the joy that has come to my heart from changing the way I pray.  It is a journal of my life in a very real sense and something my kids can read back on and know who I am and what I struggled with and know of my testimony of God and Jesus Christ.   The days that I forget to write in my prayer journal seem to be harder and I feel incomplete somehow.  I noticed that was SO incredibly happy on the days that I journaled.  I encourage all to try it!  It is incredible. 

Here are some other ideas for prayer journaling for you to enjoy and pick one that best suits you.

Prayer Journal Free Printables 

From Sparkles of Sunshine


Spring Clean your Prayer Life

By Lynnae McCoy


How to make your playroom mess free!





See that picture up above?  
I never thought a playroom with so little toys would be SO enjoyable for my children.  I was inspired by this post I saw floating around facebook one day.   The article described a mom who was frustrated with the lack of play in her play room.  All the kids would do was dump out toys and in my house, it seems all they do is break them.   She was frustrated  with how many times she had to clean up after the kids, only to have them destroy it again.  It was making motherhood hard and unenjoyable.  {This totally describes me.}

  So… she gave her toys away.  


Isn’t that rather a big change to make over a little mess here and there?

Well, I thought so too, but then I read on as she described the after effect.  

Her house was calm, and happy, and clean.  But the best part, the kids actually played and imagined.  There was less fighting and more creating.  A dream right?  

Well, I decided that I was ready for that kind of dream and set out to create a new  mess-free play room.  

During nap time I grabbed a bunch of boxes and garbage bags and hauled out every broken and (in my judgment) useless toy.   

Here’s what I kept: 

2-3 dolls, with blankets

A basket of cars with a City Life Play Carpet.

A basket of wooden blocks



Dress up clothes

My Green Kid’s Table 

The white cubicles that I have to store my toys. 

That’s it.  I only kept the high-quality  toys that inspired creativity.

Here’s my verdict;


 Why did I not do this sooner?

The kids play way more.  The room is now a go to reading room for my older two and the younger ones actually play with the toys rather than scatter the toys to kingdom come. 

When all their little friends or cousins come over it usually resulted in a HUGE mess, but now there are simply not enough toys to make a huge mess and they can clean it up and a jiffy.  

So my recommendation is to do it!!