It’s Not All About Behavior

It’s Not All About Behavior…

It’s not all about behavior, but sometimes I wish it was. I wish we could just address each behavior, deal with it and move on. But when it comes to our kids – it’s never just about the behavior. In the words of John Crist – we have to check their hearts.

It’s ALL about their heart. Our girls are 2 and 4 years old – learning how to shepherd their hearts has been quite the challenge. And we still have such a long way to go. We want them to feel loved and cherished, but also learn self control when things aren’t going their way. It’s a tough balance to find – but we’re learning. Paul Tripp says it best:

“As a parent you are never, ever dealing just with the words and actions of your children. You are always also dealing with the thing that controls their words and behavior: the heart.”

We’re learning about emotions – that it’s ok to have big emotions and feelings. It’s ok to not always agree with Mom and Dad. It’s ok to question us when you don’t understand. It would be easy to answer with, “because I said so!” when the questions arise. But our kids are curious and longing for reasons, not just rules.

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I’m currently reading “Why I Didn’t Rebel” by Rebecca Gregoire Lidenbach. One thing that stood out to me above the rest is the idea of creating reasons not rules. If my four year old knows why a rule is in place, she is much more likely to comply (most of the time). But if I give blanket statements and expect her just to listen because I’m Mom, that doesn’t work out so well. It’s when I take the time to explain why we have to wait our turn when someone else is speaking. I often ask her how she would like to be treated, and if she would like to finish speaking before being interrupted. Now she has the chance to understand why we don’t interrupt others. She has a very big personality, and loves attention of any kind, so fostering that can be a challenge at times – but it’s one I want to face head on.

Growing up, I did a lot of listening and obeying out of fear of the consequences. It worked. I made my fair share of bad choices, but I didn’t spiral into a rebellion because of fear of what would happen. I never truly had the desire to live fully devoted to the Lord until I completely surrendered to Him on my own. My hope is that my children won’t obey out of fear, but that eventually they will learn that this life is not about them, but about Jesus. It’s pretty hard for a two and four year old to grasp that concept, but we can’t let that keep us from talking about why we were created in the first place.

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There are a number of books out there on discipline. I’ve read way too many. But out of all of the books I’ve read, one thing remains true – we are here to shepherd their hearts. There is no magic formula or something I could say to get my kids to obey. But I do know one thing – the more time I invest in them, the more likely they are to respond positively. I don’t say that to put any pressure on anyone, because I’ve done that to myself. I use it as a reminder to keep myself in check. There is usually a root cause of their behavior. After addressing the behavior in that moment, I will try to figure out why it happened. I’ll wait till a calm time of day, like right before bedtime, and talk to them about what happened. They are usually much more receptive once their emotions have settled.

The good news is we cannot change the heart of our child, only God can truly do that. It takes the pressure off. We can guide them and lead them, but God has to get a hold of their heart for true change to happen.

There are days when I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. Honestly that’s most days. But I do think that we don’t have to just “survive” the toddler years. I believe that we can live an abundant life now, and we don’t need to wait until this phase is over. Because once one phase is over, another one follows. Parenting has been a constant challenge of figuring out what works best for our family, and for each child. It’s never easy, but we’re praying our way through it and adjusting as needed. I love this quote from Paul Tripp:

“in every moment when you are parenting, you are being parented. In every moment when you are called to give grace, you are being given grace. In every moment when you are rescuing and protecting your children, you are being rescued and protected. In every moment when you feel alone, you are anything but alone because he goes wherever you go.”

If you feel like you’re in the trenches of toddlerhood – know that you’re not alone. He is there with us – giving us grace and protecting us. And you don’t have to do this mom thing alone. Finding like minded moms that “get it” has saved my sanity on those rough days. I am determined to make the most of these toddler years and I hope you’ll join me. There are so many moms I look up to that have been where we are, and have made it to the other side. I hear things like, “it gets better,” and “it’s just a phase.” And while I know those things are true – I pray that these years don’t just turn into a blur. I don’t want to just survive; I want to live this live abundantly, regardless of the age of my children.

Thanks so much for reading, and for being here. I’d love to hear your heart on this, please leave a comment below so we can chat!

xoxo,

jenny

Five Photography Tips to Get REAL Smiles From Your Kids!

If you’re having trouble getting genuine smiles for pictures, get ready to try these 5 tips with your kids! As a professional photographer, I’ve gone through the struggle of getting real smiles out of little ones. But after implementing these strategies, it’s very rare that I can’t get a true smile!

  1. Don’t say “cheese!” I still have trouble with this one, but if you ask for cheese, that is what you’re going to get. Avoid saying cheese because this will for sure cause them to fake smile.
  2. Make it exciting and fun! There is usually a lot of stress involved when families show up for a photo shoot. The first thing I like to do is make sure the kids are comfortable. There will be no real smiles if they aren’t feeling it! Let them play with the camera and take pictures of you, or do silly faces for a while to loosen them up. Kids love pressing buttons and being silly, so use that to your advantage!28954617_749157965289069_1613505010342312570_o
  3. Don’t force it. If all of a sudden your child is done and over it. It’s ok to take a break. Forcing them to continue to take pictures will only make things worse. Let them run around for a bit and try again when they’re up for it. At photo shoots, I’ll usually take pictures of another child during this time. I make it look really fun so the other littles will want to be a part of it again!
  4. Do what makes them normally smile. You know your child the best! What do they love to do? Sing a special song? Play hide and seek? Do they absolutely love being tickled? Your best bet is to be playful and do what normally makes them smile. 26849915_717607178444148_5127267887886230105_o
  5. Ask them what they want to do. Sometimes we just need to empower the child and let them tell us what they want to do! If it’s their idea, they are more likely to be excited about it. Once they tell you what they want to do, you could say, “That sounds great! Let’s do that, then we’ll let Mommy pick what we do next!” 22712363_685372975000902_689571135907898783_o

I hope these tips help you the next time you go to take pictures of your little ones! My favorite pictures are the ones that aren’t posed, but the ones that catch them in their element. For example, if I gave my three year old a pile of dirt – she would be all smiles and I wouldn’t even have to try! Remember to make it fun for them. You don’t want to look back at that picture and think of how you forced them to smile, but rather how much fun they really were having.

If you have any questions at all, please comment below! I’d love to hear from you!

xoxo,

jenny

Read More: 10 Ways to Simplify Your Life THIS WEEK!

Read More: 10 Marriage Books that Transformed Our Marriage

 

 

Mother’s Day Gifts That Really Matter (A Gift Giving Guide for Dads)

Mother’s Day Gifts That Really Matter

Every year my husband asks me what I want Mother’s Day. And every year I have the hardest time coming up with an answer.

I don’t necessarily “want” or “need” anything. I feel so grateful everyday to have the opportunity to raise these little humans and do it alongside such a wonderful man. But it got me thinking about what Mother’s Day gifts really matter.

Related: 10 Books That Transformed Our Marriage

If I could have one thing, what would it be? This question got me thinking about what refreshes me, and what makes me a better mama. I also asked some fellow mamas what they would want. Here’s a list of what I, and many other mamas, are wanting this Mother’s day. And for those on a strict budget, most of these are FREE!

  • A nap. Now, I know this seems like an easy one. But it’s going to take some planning. We cannot take a nap if we can hear the children. We love them, but we don’t want to hear them. So taking them outside or even on a little adventure would be perfect. Two hours would be ideal.
  • A FULL day off. When you’re a mom raising toddlers, you are never really at rest during the day. They are all-consuming and we’re keeping them alive, so they require a lot of attention. What would be AMAZING is a full day off. A day when the kids are taken care of all day long, and we get to do whatever we want. When we can get a break from all the responsibilities of taking care of our family and household, then we can really relax.
  • Weekend getaway. Or date night. Whatever fits your budget. But here’s the deal dads, YOU have to plan it. It takes so much stress off of us when you plan the date or the getaway. If you can take care of setting up childcare, we would be forever grateful. Also, extra bonus points if you can keep this a surprise.

Related: 5 Steps To Creating A Budget

  • Maid Service. I love taking care of my family. A big part of that includes keeping a clean home. Deep cleaning can be a daunting task when you have toddlers, and takes a lot of strategy to make it happen. If it’s one visit from a maid, or a yearly service, anything would be appreciated!
  • Pampering. A massage, a pedicure, a facial. All of these would be included in the pampering category.
  • Uninterrupted sleep. Do you have a baby that doesn’t sleep through the night? As much as we don’t mind getting up with those babies, an uninterrupted nights sleep would be a dream come true. Offer to take the night shift and let your wife sleep. If the baby is still nursing and won’t take a bottle, you may need to just offer a nap instead.
  • A handmade gift. Some of my favorite gifts are the ones my husband made with the kids. It’s because it takes a lot of effort to do that. Sentimental things like that mean the world to us. Get your Pinterest scroll on and see what you can make!

Mother's Day Thumbprint Art Painted Flower PotsMother's Day Special Plate CraftMother's Day Footprint Butterfly Flower Pot

There are a lot of options there, and I think I speak for most moms when I say, the meaningful gifts are our favorite. While a new purse or outfit would be great, it’s not what we’re going to remember. We’ll remember the handprint craft you made and the special moments you created. It warms our heart to know that you really wanted to make our day special.

Related: What does the Bible say about Self-Care?

This will forever hang in our house. We have backyard chickens and my husband used his and our daughter’s handprint to make chickens. Out of all the Mother’s Day gifts, this one meant the most.

Mother's Day Chicken Handprint Craft

So remember, a day full of pampering would be amazing. But what pulls at our mama heart strings are the meaningful, well thought out gifts. We are constantly thinking of you and the kids, and what you all need. It feels so good to be thought of as well. And make sure you tell us that you appreciate us, that one will be the icing on the cake!

 

Biblical Affirmations to Speak over yourself and your Children

Biblical Affirmations to Speak over yourself and your Children

It has begun. The girls (2 and 3 years old) have started repeating everything I say. They’ve even started mimicking the way I do things. If I pick up a broom to start sweeping, they immediately start looking for their broom so they can “help” mommy. When I yell at the dog, they yell at the dog (working on that). If I hug their Daddy, they want to hug him even more.

They are watching us, listening to us, and repeating what they see and hear. Since they are paying so much attention, I am trying to incorporate biblical affirmations into our speech as much as we can. In this post we’ll go through seven affirmations for you, and seven for your children.

I’m realizing that this is just the beginning. They are learning from us. Not just when we sit down to teach them something, they are learning by simply watching us. What a blessing it is to teach them by example… but what a scary thought as well! I have put a lot of pressure on myself lately to do things right and say things in the right tone. I know these little people are imperfect and will make mistakes, but I want to be the best example I can possibly be. The goal is not perfection – but to be a better version of myself each day.

My heart would be broken to hear my daughter say that she wishes her hair were different, or to look in the mirror and be filled with feelings of disappointment. What am I saying when I look in the mirror? After I get myself ready, I’ll usually come out of the bathroom and say, “Well, this is as good as it gets.” I laugh through it, but what kind of message am I sending to my girls? My confidence is not built upon the fact that I really need highlights and I wish I had a few more curves. My identity is in Christ alone. Through His strength, I’m working on the way I speak over myself and to my children. Here are a few helpful examples of how we can biblically affirm ourselves and our children.

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Affirmations to speak over yourself

  • I am accepted. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:4-8
  • I am secure. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
  • I am significant. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
  • I am unique. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13
  • I have a purpose. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
  • I am His. “But now, this is what the Lord says — he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
  • I am forgiven. “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:22 

Affirmations to speak over your children

  • You can do hard things. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Phillipians 4:13
  • God has a plan for you.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
  • God is always listening to you. “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Ephesians 3:12
  • You are special. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
  • You are kind. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
  • You are chosen. “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you.” 1 Thessalonians 1:4
  • God loves you unconditionally! “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16

What a joy it is to raise these little people. What a gift it is to be a mother. They are watching us and they are really paying attention. Before I react to what may seem like a disaster in the moment, I’ll think about how I would want my girls to react in that situation. It’s changing the game for sure!

Do you have any other suggestions? What do you try to speak over yourself and your children? Tell me in the comments below!

 

Some other posts you may like:

https://raisingthemkind.com/2018/03/05/10-ways-to-simplify-your-life-this-week/

4 Ways to Stay Connected In-between the Date Nights…

10 Marriage Books That Transformed Our Marriage

8 Tips for Taking your Toddler to Disney World

8 Tips for Taking your Toddler to Disney World

Seeing Mickey Mouse when you’re three years old – is there anything better? Taking our toddlers to Disney was a huge blessing and treat for our family. While it is a magical experience, it is also a LOT of work for parents. To help, I put together a list of 8 tips for taking your toddler to Disney World.

pindisney.jpg1. Snacks on snacks – Need I say more? If your kids are anything like mine, snacks are a part of their love language. Pack as much as you can fit, and remember not to bring any glass containers (RIP peanut butter). There are a lot of options for food at the parks, but if you’re doing this on a budget – bring snacks!

2. Bring a stroller! – We brought our double stroller with us to every park. You can also rent strollers at the parks if that is more convenient, but it’s definitely not the most budget friendly. We packed a lunch box and diaper bag and put them under the stroller so no one had to carry anything. Oh and the kids, we packed the kids too.  Keep in mind that there are stroller parking areas and you can’t bring the stroller in the lines with you. We would just grab our phones and wallets and leave everything else in the stroller. We have never had an issue, and most parking areas have an attendant helping you find a spot for your stroller.

3. Locate baby care centers – Let me just say, Disney knows what they’re doing. These baby care centers are located at every park and are every mom’s dream. They have a private nursing area with rocking chairs, a bathroom, feeding area with high chairs, a kitchen, a main room with a tv, chairs and sofa, and an on-site shop for all things baby! This came in handy when we ran out of diapers. Happens to the best of us, right?

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4. Be flexible – It is ok if the plans need to change. I love to plan. Especially adventures. But when it comes to toddlers, it doesn’t matter how much you plan, they are unpredictable at times. Try to go with the flow. If you have to miss a fast pass ride because a child is having a hard time, miss the ride. It will not be worth it to push your child past their limit. Grab a snack or a nap or whatever is needed. It is a magical place, but your kids are still kids. Give your children time to take a deep breath, take a break and regroup when they are ready.

5. Get fast passes! – You MUST get fast passes. Book these as soon as your account lets you! We leave a little time between each fast pass so we aren’t stressing trying to get across the park. It also gives time for a snack or potty break. Fast passes will be your best friend!

6. Download the “My Disney Experience” app – This is a very handy tool to utilize throughout your visit. It has a GPS enabled map so you can find your way through the park. You can see wait times for rides and shows and where the characters are! It also has a list of restaurants and menus. Hop on the app to check and modify your fast passes, and so much more! Definitely a must for your trip.

7. Visit the characters – You can get fast passes for these as well. Obviously seeing Mickey is going to be a bit of a wait, so definitely get a fast pass for him. But others you may be able to see in between rides or shows. This was definitely my girl’s favorite part of Disney. I’ll never forget the pure joy on their faces when they got to hug Minnie & Mickey.

8. Splurge on a Character meal – This is one thing we made sure to budget in. The frugal side of me would never do this, but I knew it would be a one time thing so we made it happen! My girls absolutely love the characters, it is by far their favorite part of Disney.  Doing a character meal was a guaranteed way to make sure we saw the characters and ate a good meal. The look on their faces when Minnie walked up to our table was totally worth it. It was a win win! Make sure to book a reservation ahead of time! These fill up really fast.

And lastly, here is a list of our most favorite rides and shows:

Magic Kingdom

  • Meet Mickey at Town Square Theater
  • People Mover (great for nap time)
  • Dumbo the flying elephant
  • The parades! #magical

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Animal Kingdom

  • Kilamanjaro Safaris
  • Minnie and Mickey at Adventures Outpost
  • Finding Nemo: The Musical
  • Rivers of Light

Hollywood Studios

  • For the First Time in Forever: a Frozen Sing Along Celebration
  • Disney Junior – Live
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Epcot

  • Frozen Ever After
  • Living with the Land
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Going through all the countries!

That’s it! I could go on and on about why we love Disney so much, but I wanted to share some of our best tips! I hope this helps you and encourages you to know that it is possible to enjoy Disney, even when they’re toddlers! Hope you have a magical experience.

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Love + Donuts,

jenny

Please Stop Telling us we are “in for it” when the Teenage Years Come.

I was a teenager once. I had an attitude problem. I disobeyed. I was unkind to my parents. I made bad decisions. I didn’t have a full on rebellion, but many of my peers did. And I know it’s possible. I have no doubt that raising teenagers is going to be extremely difficult.

With that said, let’s talk about what we, as young moms, keep hearing from moms of teens. We are constantly being told that we are “in for it” when we hit the teenage years. Whether they are raising teens or their kids are out of the house, not many people have anything good to say about the dreaded teenage years. And again, I know they will not be easy. But when someone tells me that I should enjoy this time now because of how bad it’s going to be, it puts fear in my heart and is very discouraging.

I’m raising two toddlers. It is a daily challenge to keep a good attitude, be patient and speak kindly to my children. When I hear that it’s going to get so much worse, it crushes my spirit. I already feel like I’m in the diaper and tantrum trenches at times. I need to be encouraged during this time, I need to hear that we are not all doomed because one day our kids will be teens.

Emily Ley, Simplified Planner, Grace Not Perfection

My prayer and my hope is that these words will not ring true. I know my kids will struggle through the teenage years, but my prayer is that the investment I am putting into them now, will come to fruition as they grow. That our relationship will have ups and downs, but the foundation will be strong. I pray that when those hard moments come, they won’t define who they are. They won’t define their teenage years. I have hope that as their parents, we can somehow turn the hardest moments into teaching opportunities. I pray that we can show them the forgiving, understanding and loving characteristics of Christ.

Now, if you have teenagers and you’ve got a good eye roll going on, bare with me. I do not fully know what we will deal with in those years. I know that it will be tough. But since we do not know what it will be like, let us have hope. Let us keep a positive attitude instead of speaking negatively about a season we’re not even in yet. Instead of telling us we’re “in for it,” just encourage us. We know you’ve got some wisdom up your sleeve because you have more experience than we do. Share it with us. We already know it’s going to be hard, we hear it all the time. But instead of treating kids getting older as a downward spiral, give us some hope we can hold on to.

Please know that as a mom of young children, I am enjoying it. What I normally hear is that I should “enjoy it now, because it’s going to get so much worse.” I cherish the moments I want to remember and try to forget the ones that made me cry in the grocery store. We are soaking it in. And we know it is going to fly by. I’m not sure that any season of motherhood is easy. Let’s try our best to encourage each other, no matter what season of motherhood we are in.

With love and donuts,

Jenny

How to Pray for your Husband

How to Pray for Your Husband

Our husbands need our prayers! This week I challenge you to focus on one prayer a day. There is so much power in our prayers. Our spouse is the most important person in our lives, and they deserve a few prayerful minutes of our day. Let’s dive into how to pray for you husband!

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Day 1: Pray for peace in his heart. You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3. Our husbands tend to feel a lot of weight on their shoulders. They want to provide financially, emotionally, spiritually and they want to lead our families well. Sometimes this can cause a lack of peace, and more of worry. Something we can pray is for our husband to have peace, even in trying times. Pray that they are so grounded in God’s word that when the stresses fall on them, they know that they are not alone in handling them. Pray for peace and comfort in his heart. 

Day 2. Pray for his confidence and self-esteem. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29. We need to be his number one fan. Being an encourager goes so far when it comes to men. They need to know that we are for them, and we believe in them. They could receive all the encouragement in the world from other people, but what matters most is how we encourage them. Instead of focusing on what he’s struggling with, remind him of what he is doing well. Pray that he feels encouraged and confident in his abilities and who he is in Christ.

Day 3. Pray for his relationship with God. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6. Pray that your husband is submitting to the Lord. Ask that he is not relying on his own understanding, but turning to God for help when he needs it most. Pray that your husband’s relationship with God is growing and thriving. Pray that he is seeking the Lord and longing for him so that he can lead your family well. 

Day 4. Pray that he would have a heart for his children. Children are a heritage from the Lordoffspring a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3. Oh those babies, how we love them! Pray that your husband would have a heart for them as well. Pray that he’ll go the extra mile to make them feel special. Pray that he is filled with joy throughout the playful moments and even through the tough ones. Kids have a funny way of showing us love, pray that they will tenderly show Daddy how much they really love him.

Day 5. Pray for your husband to succeed in his work. Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.” Proverbs 16:3. Pray that he will succeed, not just financially, but pray for your husband to feel as if he is fulfilling is purpose. Or figuring out what his purpose is. Pray that he feels respected and encouraged in his work environment. Pray that God would place a hedge of protection around him so that no physical, emotional or spiritual harm will come to him. Our husbands often base their worth off of how well they are performing at their job. Pray for him to succeed according to his own goals. Help him reach them, help him turn his dreams into a reality.

Day 6. Pray that you can show your husband unconditional respect. “Nevertheless, each husband is to love and protect his own wife as if she were his very heart, and each wife is to respect her own husband.” Ephesians 5:33. If you choose only one prayer for your husband, let it be this one. Our husbands need to be respected more than anything else. Pray that you can respect him with your words. Our words are so powerful, let them build your husband up instead of tear him down. Respect him in the way you speak of him. Speak highly of him. I have another post on why this is so important, you can read it here. Our husbands need to feel respected just as much as we need to feel loved. Pray that you can respect him even when he hasn’t earned it. Respect him like you want to be loved.

Day 7: Pray for your husband to love you unconditionally. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:25. Pray for your husband to lean on God’s word and love you unconditionally, even when you don’t deserve it. Talk through the issues that arise in your marriage. Pray together. Seek help when needed. Reach out to your spouse to see what he needs or how you can help him. All of these things will help you love and respect each other more.

Here are some resources that I highly recommend:

Thanks for being here, let me know if there’s anything we can add to the list of how we can pray for our husbands!

An Open Letter to my Husband From Your Stay-At-Home-Wife

To my husband,

Thank you for giving the kids a bath, even when you feel like you have nothing left to give at the end of the day.

When we are wrangling kids and trying to get out the house and you say, “What can I do to help?” Thank you for that.

I am constantly needed throughout the day. When you come home and see that the house is a hot mess – instead of saying, “What did you do all day?” You start picking things up and putting things away. That is what I need. That is what our family needs. Thank you.

I can’t tell you how much it means when you say, “Go take a break, I’ve got the kids.” It is very difficult for me to say “I need a break” when I know you’ve had a long day too. Words cannot express how much I need you to say it.

Thank you for loving me, even at my worst. I try so hard, so stinkin’ hard to do this mom and wife thing well. When I fail, I appreciate you being there as a helping hand, rather than being disappointed in me.

The kids are dying to spend time with you. Thank you for prioritizing time with each one of them. And thank you for treating them like the gifts that they are, rather than a bother.

Thank you for listening when the kids tell you about their day, even if you have no idea what they are saying. Thank you for being excited with them.

Please know that I don’t need much, I just need to know that you appreciate me too. Thank you for letting me know that I am doing a good job. It keeps me going.

Thank you for doing the dishes. When I hear that you’re doing them and I didn’t even have to ask you to do them, I get those same butterflies you gave me when we first met.

Thank you for not letting your job stop when you are done working. And thank you for understanding that just because I’m not away at a job everyday, I am working very hard.

Thank you for showing our kids that I am first, and they are second.

Thank you for leading us in prayer throughout the day. And thank you for showing our kids what it means for you to love me like Christ loves the church. You are setting the standard for their future spouses.

Thank you for loving me so well, day in and day out.

Thank you for supporting my dreams.

Thank you for hearing me, really hearing me when I need it most.

Nothing makes me happier than watching you play with our kids. Thank you for being a horsey, helicopter and every Disney character under the sun to put a smile on their face.

Thank you for being an honest man. A hardworking man. And a godly man.

Thank you for going along with my crazy ideas – like going camping for two nights with two toddlers. It’s going to be fun, I just know it.

Thank you for making me feel beautiful, when we both know I’m on day three of dry shampoo and sweatpants are my jam.


I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.

– Your stay at home wife

Pictures c/o Lindsey Cassidy Photography

What I Wish I knew as a First Time Mom

What I Wish I Knew as a First Time Mom

First time Mom probs. I had a lot of them. It was so hard to see when I was in the thick of it, but I was having a tough time adjusting to motherhood. I loved being a mom, I loved (almost) every aspect of taking care of my baby. But just like many first time moms – I struggled.

I struggled with control.

I struggled with worrying.

I forgot about my husband.

I isolated myself.

When I was pregnant with my first, I received so much advice on how to do this mom thing well. Good advice, bad advice, advice that made me go… “say what?” All kinds of advice. But it didn’t matter what I heard or read, nothing could prepare me for what motherhood would be like. No one knows what they will be like as a mom, until they are a mom. So regardless of the advice you hear, remember that your journey is just that, it’s yours. Take the advice you like and leave the rest. And if you need to adjust or seek different advice once you are a mom, you do that!

I was so caught up in preparing to be a mom. Like most of us, I dreamed about what motherhood would be like. Since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom. Needless to say, I put A LOT of pressure on myself. I just wanted to do this mom thing right. But man, when you put those kind of expectations on yourself, you’re bound to fail.

Here are some things I wish I knew as a first time mom:

  1. Things will not go as planned. From the time that baby is out of you, things will probably not be the way you pictured it. When I first became a mom, I found myself feeling so disappointed with the smallest things. I was striving for perfection, and it is not even close to attainable. Grace on grace on grace. There’s beauty in the unpredictable moments. Rather than letting those moments stress me out, I wish I would’ve seen them as opportunities to lean on God even more.
  2. Take a minute, or thirty-seven for yourself. I was so fearful of something going wrong if I left her with someone. She was used to me and how I did things, what if the person watching her didn’t know those things? It’s an opportunity. It’s a chance to benefit everyone. I needed time for myself that I didn’t think I needed. The baby needed time away from me. Grandma got some one on one time in. It was hard, but it got easier each time.
  3. Include your significant other. I read all the books. All the blog posts. All the articles. I was ready to tackle whatever this baby would bring. My husband couldn’t possibly know what to do because he didn’t read the books. Turns out, he did know what to do! He’s Daddy. He knew how to love that child and bond with her. At times me and my internet knowledge got in the way of that.
  4. Grandparents want and need to help. My biggest regret from early parenthood is that I pushed them away rather than welcomed them in. I was so over-protective that they felt like they were walking on egg shells. That was their grand baby and I was just sitting there keeping her to myself! Goodness, I wish I could go back to those early days and share her with the people that love her so much.
  5. You will fail… daily. I wish I could tattoo grace on my forehead. Maybe I’ll run that idea by my husband and see how he feels about it. I failed daily and I still do. I used to beat myself up over it and feel like such a failure if things didn’t go as planned. I’ve learned to give myself grace in those moments. All I can do is all I can do. And as long as I’m doing my best, that’s all that matters.
  6. FIND MOM FRIENDS. I can’t emphasize this enough. As my daughter got older, I made this a priority. But I didn’t realize how important it was until I developed those friendships. We are all in this together. Put yourself out there. Go to MOPS. Go to Chick-fil-A where dreams come true. Invite another mom over for a play date. We need adult conversation and our kids need to interact with other kids. Get out there, mama!
  7. You will sleep again. I remember being in zombie mode for months. I was trying to enjoy the early days, but I was just so dang tired. The whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” didn’t make sense to me because there was always so much to be done. But looking back, I should’ve just slept.
  8. Do what is best for YOUR family. Oh the opinions that come in. It never stops. We are all doing what’s best for our family. Mom shaming is real, don’t let yourself go there. Don’t compare what you’re doing to what other moms are doing. Do what is best for your family and know that they are doing what’s best for their family.
  9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. “No. We are ok. Thank you though.” My classic response as a first time mom. “It takes a village” is a real thing. When someone offers help, take them up on it. You deserve a break and if you don’t want to leave your baby, have someone come over so you can take a nap while they watch them.
  10. Try really hard to cherish the moments you want to remember. I was so worried about every little thing that I forgot to stop and really enjoy those sweet, subtle moments. Was I doing the right thing with the schedule and nursing and diaper changes? Who knows. I just know I was doing my best, and I’ve learned to recognize those sweet moments, and stop to really cherish them.

11. It’s not about the pictures. I’m a photographer, so I am all about the pictures. But I also think there’s a time for it. Sometimes it can really take away from those moments. You don’t have to take a picture of every little thing. My fondest memories aren’t on my iPhone, they’re in my heart because I was really present for it.

12. Nap time is your time. Tired? Sleep. Want to read a good book? Do it. Call up a friend? Go for it. Whatever you do, do not let yourself feel bad about it. Nap time is an opportunity to take care of you. Without self care we can’t be the best version of ourselves. So take the bubble bath!

What a gift it is to be a mom. Enjoy it. Cherish it. Be the best mom you can be and call it a day. Don’t let yourself overthink every little thing from that day. Tomorrow is a new day with new mercies. And if all else fails, get yourself a DONUT.

The Best Marriage Advice We Ever Received

When my husband and I were in premarital counseling, our counselor gave us some advice that definitely helped our marriage get started on the right foot. We were given many resources on starting a healthy marriage, keeping each other first, among other great advice. But one thing that stood out to me the most was this: “Only speak highly of your spouse.” 

I know some of you are cringing, but hear me out. When we first got married I thought, well I’ve got this one in the bag. I would never speak poorly of my husband because he is the most amazing person to ever live and I get to marry him! Right? Totally my train of thought. It’s very easy to say what we will and won’t do in marriage until we’re actually… married.

I found myself at times going to complain about something my husband had done or ask another wife if her husband struggled with something similar. It’s only natural for us to want to voice those things. Now, there’s a difference in saying, “His snoring keeps me up all night,” and “I am so tired of picking up after him.” The snoring is something he can’t control. Picking up after himself is something he can control. I told myself if it is something that he can control, then he should be the one I’m talking to about it. If I ran to my girlfriend and complained about him not picking up after himself, who would that benefit? No one. If our husbands don’t know that what they are doing bothers us, how can they fix it? I quickly realized that they cannot read our minds… unfortunately. We have to communicate… over-communicate.

My husband and I both agreed to make this a priority in our marriage. We have both slipped up at times, but for the most part this rings true. What comes out of our mouth is an overflow of what’s in our heart. My heart is for my husband, my words need to be as well.

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When I feel myself getting frustrated or bothered by something my husband is doing I ask myself a few questions:

  • Does he know this bothers me? 
  • Is it something he can control?
  • Is it something I need to let go? 
  • Is it worth bringing up? 

If he doesn’t know it bothers me, I try to kindly and respectively say something. That way he is aware, and I’m not letting it build up and continue to bother me. If he does already know that it bothers me, I speak up. I like to call them “friendly reminders.” If it’s out of his control, I try to adjust. If it’s something that will continue to bother me if I don’t say anything? Then yes, I will bring it up. If it’s something silly that can easily be let go, I try my best to let it go.

There are things in marriage that I will want to complain about. I try to turn that focus to what my spouse is doing well rather than complain about what bothers me. What a great feeling for your spouse – to know that you are only speaking highly of them. We all have our faults, but our spouse should always have our back and our best interest in mind.

We are not perfect at this by any means, but the more aware I am of how I am speaking about my spouse has saved me many times. I never want to put my spouse in a negative light or put him down to others. We are a team and we are called to build each other up.

I do this in hope that he is doing the same for me. I put myself in my spouse’s shoes. Would I want him complaining about me to others? No. I would rather him come to me with whatever is bothering him so we can tackle it together.

Check out this post to see a list of our top ten favorite marriage books!

Let me know if this is something that you try to do or something you’re working on! I’d love to hear from you. Comment below! 

 

*This is a general overview or how speaking highly of your spouse can be beneficial for your marriage. There are definitely times when something needs to be said. This post is in no way referring to abuse situations.

Don’t Wish Moments Away…

Don’t wish moments away… but what about the hard moments? I really want to wish those away. I want to skip through those and get to the good ones. The reality is that there will be hard moments throughout our motherhood journey. There most definitely, without a doubt, be hard moments. I’m only 3.5 years into this thing and the hard moments are much more present than I would prefer. I find myself thinking: “This will be easier when she’s 4, or 5, or 12.” What I’ve realized is that each age is going to be challenging. Each age will have wonderful moments and hard moments. The beauty is that those moments are just that – moments. Moments that will pass. Moments that will probably get harder before it gets better.

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I have to stop wishing these moments away. What an opportunity we are given when these hard moments come. An opportunity to lean on God and seek his face when we feel like we have nothing left. It’s such an honor to raise these little people, but it can also be a daunting task at times. I have cried out to God so many times because of these moments. He reminds me that this will pass. He surrounds me with the peace that passes all understanding. And turns out I can never understand it. How does He do that? He just wraps us up and this overwhelming peace just takes over.

Instead of wishing those moments away, I’m trying to see them as opportunities. Opportunities to hear from the Lord. To feel His presence even when things are hard. He’s teaching me that these hard moments are an opportunity to get closer to Him. I’m learning more about myself (especially my weaknesses), and in the midst of disciplining toddlers and trying to stay sane – I’m learning how to be a better person. How to be more patient and understanding. While I definitely do not enjoy this hard part of parenting, I can see what God’s doing there.  We’re disciplining our children, while God is giving us chances to grow. Now trust me, I fail at this daily. More like hourly. But when I can do it well, I can look back and thank God for giving me that opportunity to teach my children, as well as grow as a Mom.

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I’ve learned that it’s ok to not like the hard moments. That phrase, “Enjoy it, it goes by so fast” is most definitely true. But I have had some really long days, some really hard moments. And during those times I am not enjoying it. That’s ok. I remind myself often that it’s ok to not enjoy the moments that are frustrating and confusing. I remind myself that these children are just longing to be heard and understood. They want us to hear them so badly. Am I? Am I really listening to their heart? Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp talks deeply about this. The root of the problem is in their heart. So many times when I want to react to a behavior, I try to stop myself to figure out what’s really going on. Number one, are they hungry? Number two, are they tired? If we rule these out then we can really start searching.

In those hard moments when I really don’t want to search their heart, I’ve realized that’s when I’m missing it. I’m missing an opportunity to learn more about my child and their heart. My oldest is three and she able to let me know what’s going on. I may have to translate it for someone else, but I totally get her. I try to take that opportunity to hear her, really hear her and figure out what the root of the problem is. Because their behaviors are just that – moment by moment changing emotions that take over and come out through their behavior. But what about what’s underneath that behavior? Sinful nature, yes. But what else? I’m diving deep into this, and I pray that you will come along with me. Share what you’re learning about this things called motherhood. Let me know how we can better search our child’s heart instead of just the surface of their behavior.

Thank you so much for being here and hearing my heart. Comment below and let me know your thoughts on this topic. We Mama’s have to help each other out!

photography by Love + Covenant

4 Ways to Stay Connected In-between the Date Nights…

Date nights. I think we can all agree that they are from the Lord. There are all kinds of date nights – the few and far between, the monthly, the weekly, the bi-weekly. Whatever your date night of choice is –  we know that they are sacred. Adults of small children love to spend uninterrupted time together. We have gone through seasons of weekly date nights, and then we’ve had moments when we say, “we should probably go on a date night since it’s been a little over three months.” We’ll set a schedule and then life happens and date nights get put on the back burner. Right now we are doing twice a month date nights. It’s working out well. It definitely gives us something to look forward to. But what about the time in-between date nights? How are we getting quality time in? I find myself craving time with my husband, but have a hard time making it a priority.

Let me just say that this time is precious. These moments with our littles are fleeting. And I know it is flying by. But I think something that we should also be talking about is the everyday struggle of focusing on your spouse in the midst of parenting babies and/or toddlers. They are all consuming. Spending focused time with your spouse can be difficult at times. What if the kids don’t nap at the same time? What if they’ve given up napping altogether? What if you are so exhausted by the end of the day that you can barely keep your eyes open to focus on your spouse?

I ask these questions because we are in the throes of it. We have a one year old and a three year old. Spending time with my husband is something I desire, but feel like I fail at often. To be honest, I’ve deeply struggled with keeping my husband first in the midst of all-consuming toddlers. I want to give him the best of me, but there are days when I feel like there’s nothing left. I’ve prayed through this, and reached out to others but haven’t gotten any solid answers. Pinterest even left me feeling disappointed. Which can only mean one thing – it’s time to get creative.

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1. Couch Time – Allie Cassazza (http://alliecasazza.com/) talks about this on her podcast. She and her husband spend time together at the end of the day and just catch up. We are trying to incorporate this into our everyday. We want to have just a few minutes to sit on the couch together and try to connect. We talk about how we’re doing and bring up anything that may have been on our heart throughout the day. We pull out an activity for the girls (1 & 3 years old) that we know will keep them busy for at least a few minutes so we can have this time. Ideally we would have this type of conversation before bed, but we are both so exhausted at that time and want to give each other as much focused time as possible.

2. Daily Devotional – Whether you have time with your spouse in the morning, evening, or during the day – a daily devotional will change the game. These devotionals will start the conversation for you, so there’s no pressure to figure out what you’re going to talk about. We are currently going through The Love Dare Day by Day. It’s wonderful!

3. Car Ride – Depending on the age of your kids, a car ride might just be the perfect time to spend time together. We have taken advantage of this many times. After the babies get past the “I hate the car seat and nothing will make it better” phase, it can definitely work. Coloring books are usually involved. Oh and side note –  Color Wonder books will change your life. They have markers that only write on the page of the coloring book. These people are geniuses. Snacks are also a winner in our book. It’ll give us at lease 10 minutes. If we are feeling a little out of sorts or that we just simply aren’t connected, we will take a car ride. It’s good to get out of your house and in a different environment for a little while, even if it’s a short conversation. It’ll be focused time to reconnect.

4. The Nap Time Quickie – Like a quick(ie) conversation. Sheesh, it’s not that kind of blog. But listen, it can be whatever you want it to be. Let’s just keep it to ourselves. If the stars align and your children nap at the same time and your husband is home – do not pass up this opportunity. I will say it again – stop what you are doing and go find your husband. There will always, ALWAYS be something to do. I am so guilty of not wanting to deviate from the to-do list. But in these times of being parents to small children, you have to jump at these opportunities. I never regret putting everything else aside to spend time with my husband.

It took a while to figure all of this out, and we’re still figuring it out! Is there anything you do with your spouse everyday? Anything that helps connect you quickly instead of waiting for a date night? Let me know in the comments below! 

10 Marriage Books That Transformed Our Marriage

10 Marriage Books That Transformed Our Marriage

My husband and I wouldn’t be where we are today without the wisdom and knowledge of others. Each one of these marriage books has been instrumental in shaping who we are as a married couple. Between premarital counseling and these resources – we have been able to develop a strong foundation that has prepared us for very difficult times in our marriage.

If you have any questions about the books listed below, please let me know and I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability. They are in no particular order, but here are 10 books that transformed our marriage!

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1.  Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs – This is the most instrumental tool for learning about the main difference between the needs of men and the needs of women. It is completely Bible based, and thoroughly explains why men need unconditional respect and women need unconditional love. It has helped us meet each other’s deepest needs in our marriage! 

2. The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller – We actually read this book during our premarital counseling and it was really eye-opening. It helped us dig deeper and ask the questions we needed to ask. This book highlights the importance of having a deep friendship with your spouse. It also gives basic instruction on how to have a successful marriage. Great read for sure!

3. Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas – The main message of this book is that marriage is more about making you holy, rather than happy. Yes, happiness is a result, but not the ultimate goal. It gives practical tools that you can use to immediately start making improvements in your marriage. It has helped us love God and love others well.

 

4. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman – I’m sure you’ve heard of this one! It’s one of the most popular relationship books out there. It is all about how we give and receive love. It will be a huge eye opener!

5. Wife After God by Jennifer Smith – This is a 30 day devotional focused on bringing you closer to your husband and to God. It definitely did that for me. It helped me take a closer look at how I viewed God and how I viewed and treated my husband. I highly recommend it! Jennifer’s husband also wrote a book called Husband After God , that aims to motivate and challenge men to draw closer to God and to their wife.

              

6. For Women Only and For Men Only by Shaunti Feldhahn – My husband and I actually read these on a road trip when we were engaged. We were heading to see my family and had a ten hour drive ahead of us – so we decided to make the most of it. We actually read these out loud to each other. I read For Women Only which talks all about what we need to know about the inner lives of men. My mind was blown, I remember I kept asking him, “Really? Is that true? Do you really feel that way in certain situations?” And vice versa, he read For Men Only to me. It was great for our relationship and really helped get us talking about what matters.

                  

7. The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler – This is a great book all around, but we found it was especially focused on the dating/engaged phase. Matt Chandler helps us understand that this thing called love isn’t all about our emotions. We cannot let our emotions rule us, but rather we need to focus on what God’s Word says about love an intimacy.

8. The Love Dare Day by Day: A Year of Devotions for Couples by Stephen and Alex Kendrick – What better way to stay on top of your marriage than a devotional? The Love Dare is meant to challenge you and your spouse to grow deeper to each other and to the Lord. It has 52 weekly dares and a daily time of reading, prayer and action. Such a great practical book!

9. Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts by Dr. Les and Leslie Parrott – This is another one we read prior to getting married. But it has also helped us after being married. The principles are focused on things you should ask before, during and after marriage. I suggest getting the workbooks that go along with it as well! This book is perfect for those who are engaged or in the newlywed phase!

10. Couples Devotional Bible, NIV by Zondervan – This one is probably our most used book. We were gifted this at our wedding and I am forever thankful! It is a full Bible, but has devotionals throughout it. I love how each devotion corresponds with scripture. And it’s special for my husband and I to have a Bible that belongs to both of us. The only thing I wish is that we utilized it more. We love it!

 

Limited Screen Time Isn’t Just for Kids…

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I was recently playing catch with my daughter and trying to check emails at the same time. I like to think I’m really good at multi-tasking. However, when my toddler came and gently grabbed my phone and put it on the table and said “not right now…” I got the hint. I’m not proud of that moment, it actually makes me really sad. Thankful for God’s grace on this one. And for the chance to improve in this area.

I love being able to work from home, but I go through these seasons of doing it well and doing it no so well. It hurts my heart to think that my children are not getting the best of me. The point of me staying home is so that I can spend more time with them. I know it’s time to set clear boundaries. The first being screen time.

I’ve read numerous articles about screen time suggestions for kids. Our family rule is to limit their screen time to an hour while I prepare dinner. Mama gets a break and the kids get to sit back and enjoy the best of Netflix. We also have family movie nights once a week. This works well for our kids, and they look forward to that time.

But what about parents? Who’s limiting our screen time? This has been on my heart for a while, and I can imagine I’m not the only one thinking about this. My girls are really good at keeping themselves busy, which in turn can leave me thinking: what can I get done? I’m working on changing that mentality. As women, we know that there is always something to do. Always someone we need to get back to. Always something that needs to be cleaned. How do we separate the do-list from playtime? To me it’s simple – put the phone down. Turn off the notifications and be present with my kids.

I don’t want my girls to look back and remember Mom being with them, but constantly checking her phone. They deserve better, and I can give them better.

Here are some ways that are helping me improve in this area:

  1. Setting alarms on my phone throughout the day to check emails and messages (every 4 hours), and ONLY checking at these intervals.
  2. Turning off ALL notifications – even text messages. If someone really needs me, they will call. Those messages aren’t going anywhere.
  3. Putting my phone in a designated spot. Knowing that my phone is in it’s place is a great reminder that it needs to stay there. Placing it to charge in our guest room has worked out well, since we rarely go in there.
  4. Using a paper planner. I can’t say enough about this. Since I stopped using my phone as my calendar, I really have no excuse to need it. I can check our meal plan and schedule throughout the day – without a phone. Also, Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner is adorable and gives me the warm fuzzies.
  5. Designated work hours. I hope to one day really nail this down. For now my work hours consist of early morning before the kids wake up, nap time, and after they go to bed. We will occasionally hire a sitter for a few hours. But my husband and I both work from home, so we will trade off watching the kids periodically. It can be exhausting. We are working on this one for sure!

 

How are you limiting screen time? What are you doing to be more present with your kids? Comment below! I would love to hear from you!

Polk County Activities Your Kids Will Love!

As a stay at home mom, I’m not very good at staying home. I like to leave the house at least once a day, and it’s generally for an outing in the morning – so we can wear them out for nap time (you know you do it too!). We generally stick to the same places. They are all in Polk County and my kids (three years old and almost two) LOVE them. Here’s some of our favorite Polk Country activities!

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1. Bok Tower’s Children’s Garden (Lake Wales, FL)

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Bok Tower is our absolute favorite right now! We have been members for almost a year and it has been worth every penny. I cannot say enough about this place. Please go and you will see the amazingness that is Bok Tower! I have an almost two year old and three year old and it is perfect for them. I love that it is an open door to explore. There are so many things for the kids to do, but it all includes playing, exploring and using their imagination! There is also one way in and one way out – which makes it much less stressful for moms!

  • Price: Kids under 5 are free, kids 5-12 are $5, adults are $14. They also offer annual passes which I think are totally worth it!
  • Hours: 365 days/year; 8:00am – 5:00pm

Check out Bok Tower’s website to see more details.

2. Explorations V Children’s Museum (Lakeland, FL)

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Our favorite spot in Lakeland! It is perfect for a rainy day or even those really hot ones that hit us so often in Florida. I’ve really enjoyed this place, I mean my kids have really enjoyed it. It’s enjoyable all around! We invested in passes last year and will be renewing soon. It’s another one that is worth it to us. They have three floors and each one will keep your littles busy and happy for a while. They also offer classes while you are there. We have been there for art class and music class and have loved them both! There’s so much to do here, you really can’t go wrong! Oh, and there’s a gated tot area – we all need one of those!

  • Price: Children under 2 are free, children and adults are $9.
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday 9:00am – 5:30pm

3. Toddler Time – Lakeland Public Library

We’ve gone to a few different libraries, and this is our favorite! Toddler time is geared towards children two to three years old. They do songs and stories, and usually integrate activities based on the theme. My girls both LOVE this and really look forward to it. It lasts about 25 minutes, then we head over to the play area that has legos, puzzles, coloring and of course books. We generally spend another 20 minutes there. What I love most about this is the time it starts. They begin at 10:00am. For the little ones that like to nap around 11:00, this is perfect! We highly recommend it! They also have a preschool class and baby class on other days!

  • Price: FREE
  • When: Every Wednesday at 10:00am

4. Open Gym at Gymnastics Etc.  (Lakeland, FL)

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Open Tot Gym is another favorite of ours! Gymnastics, etc. opens up a huge area of their gym for kids aged 1-5 years old. They have two long trampolines, large areas just to run around, an inflatable bounce area, and a ton of things to climb on and play with! My girls love it.

  • Price: $5/first child, $4 each additional
  • Hours: Wednesday (during the school year only) and Thursday 11:00am – 12:00pm

5. Common Ground Park (Lakeland, FL)

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Parks made me pretty nervous when I had my second child. Especially once she started moving and I started chasing two around! Common Ground has been a great park for us. We try to go during the week when it’s not too crowded and I dress my girls in bright colors to keep track of them! There’s a large sand pit, and a play area for older kids as well as younger kids. It’s our favorite park in Polk County!

6. Chick-fil-A (Winter Haven, FL)

Let’s be honest. Every mom loves Chick-fil-A. You really can’t go wrong with the most amazing food and a play place. If we want to get out the house with minimal effort, Chick-fil-A if our destination of choice. We prefer the one in Winter Haven. It’s always SO clean and it has a great play place. And of course, the staff is incredible. Also, if you’re not doing mobile orders yet – it’s time to start. We order it when we leave our house, and it’s ready when we get there. No waiting in line – yes, please!

 

Thanks so much for being here! Drop a comment below and let me know what you and your children love to do in Polk County. We are always looking for new things to do!