Preparing Your Child for Preschool Graduation

Preparing Your Child for Preschool Graduation

Preschool graduation is one of those things that some think to be silly – “Oh it’s just preschool!” they’ll say.

And I can’t help but question if they’ve ever had preschoolers, because let me tell you – the friendships they form at 4 or 5 years old are some of the sweetest, strongest bonds. It’s especially hard if their class will be going on to different kindergartens, which happens to be the case for my first born and his preschool classmates.

Now I’m by no means an expert in this area. In fact, as I’m writing this, we’re still five days away from graduation, but what better way to share my insight than in real time.

How to Prepare Your Child to Graduate from Preschool

preschool graduation transition help

Expect Big Emotions

One thing that I’ve noticed with all the little ones is that they’re all struggling in one way or another. One of the silliest in the class is suddenly somber. One of the calmest now acts out. And oh the tears…lots and lots of tears.

My son in particular has been exceptionally emotional, which is actually what prompted this post. This morning we were watching TV and one of those “save the dogs!!” commercials came on. I didn’t even realize he was paying attention until he started sobbing. We were able to talk it through and sure enough the root of it all is that he keeps thinking about graduation.

These little ones have some of the biggest emotions.

So if you’ve got a little one preparing for the end of the school year (even if s/he’s not graduating!), expect that their emotions may very well be harder to control than normal. Even those who cannot fully explain their feelings can sense a change coming in their routine. And let’s face it – change in routine is hard, no matter the age!

Preparing for Graduation Day

We’re very lucky in that our school does hold a small ceremony to celebrate those moving on to kindergarten. The program calls it a “Celebration of Our Stars.”

It’s very important to frame graduation day as just that – a celebration.

Because let’s be honest, the preschoolers aren’t going to be the only ones struggling with their emotions. So while there will almost certainly be tears (heck, I can’t even get through this post without crying!) it’s important to remember what a fun day it’ll be.

Whether it’s a full cap-and-gown ceremony or a simple potluck-style celebration, it’s sure to be a memorable day for everyone. Talk to your little one about what to expect on the day of. While the teacher will of course be walking them through the set-up of the day, you really can’t go wrong reinforcing the expectations.

Preschool Celebration Ideas

Whether your school is doing an actual graduation or not, there are many ways to celebrate! Honestly one of the best ways to help with the transition from school to summer is to commemorate it as a family.

If you have a big family or friends looking to join in the celebration, potluck is always a great way to go. If your school isn’t doing an actual graduation ceremony, you could also reach out to the parents of the other kids to see if they want to potluck together.

A slideshow is also a fun way to celebrate. It doesn’t have to be something super time-consuming, especially if you already have an album (on Facebook or otherwise) that’s documented some of their best times at school.

And even though this site is about leading you to a richer life, I do recommend you consider buying a small gift for your child to celebrate the day. If they’re moving on to kindergarten, consider taking them to pick out their backpack for next year. Books are of course also a great route to take!

Regardless of how you celebrate the day, don’t forget to take a moment to soak it all in. If these last five years have taught me anything, it’s that time really does go by so much faster than any of us ever realize.

Quote box with the days are long but the years are short

Do you remember the day you graduated preschool?

Comment below, I’d love for you to share your memories!

How Having a Pet Can Calm Your Nerves

How Having a Pet Can Calm Your Nerves

As parents, anxiety and stress often come with the package, especially before big and special events. It’s also relatively common for people when they are faced with new situations or something they may have a fear of. The good news is, one way to help you relax and soothe your nerves may already literally be laying at your feet!

That’s right, your pets and domestic animals can be great stress busters. Even better, sometimes you’re not even really consciously aware of how your pet’s presence may be helping you get through the tough times. In this article, we take a little look behind the scenes at some practical ways your pet may help your mental health.

How Having a Pet Can Calm Your Nerves

black and white english shepherd dog

Pets Help You Think About Something Else

If you’re feeling anxious and stressed, a common tactic recommended by health professionals is to find a distraction or diversion to focus on. Call it dog diversion, cat deflection if you will, but the presence of your pet can help you re-frame your thinking away from the thoughts or the situation that is bothering you.

This can be particularly helpful for people with fears and phobias. If you’re anxious about being alone in the house, the presence of a pet with their super-sensitive radar to anything out of the ordinary will soon alert you if there actually is something or someone nearby. In the same token, if you have a fear of getting out and about, having a dog walk alongside you can help overcome those anxieties.

Pets Make You Move Around

Exercise is good for both our minds and body. Most of us already know that. What we often don’t realize is that even the very basic act of taking care of feeding your pet forces you to move your body. Combine a few yoga stretches when you’re reaching into the cupboard, or placing your pet’s bowl on the floor and it’s a win-win mind-body situation for both of you.

If you’ve got a dog, no matter what size, they’re going to need regular exercise. Likewise, a cat, even though we tend to think they look after this themselves, a piece of paper on the end of a string can help you both move and entertain yourself at the same time. Take their cue. Many pets instinctively know when it’s time to get moving (aka the cat crazies!). Take the time to get a little exercise at the same time your pet does, and you’ll reap the rewards.

Pets Help You Relax

Pets can help you relax in so many ways. There’s the physical act of stroking and patting an animal. This is a repetitive motion that both of you will are likely to find very, very soothing. There’s the humor in seeing your pet do something that is so outside of the behavior that we are conditioned into as humans that you can’t help but laugh. If you’ve ever clicked on any funny dog/cat/rabbit videos online, and who hasn’t, you’ll know what we mean.

Pets Can Help You Love

The love and companionship of a pet are unconditional. Their affection for you is based on knowing you treat them well and love them to bits. The look that a pet may give you, with soft knowing eyes full of love, believe it. It’s real. Studies have found that the same bonding process and endorphins that are firing between a parent and child happen between people and their pets. So yes, it is indeed mutual. Both you and your pet feel the love, and more relaxed and warm and fuzzy as a result!

How Having a Pet Can Calm Your Nerves

Pets Help Lower Your Blood Pressure

Studies have shown that people with pets tend to have lower blood pressure. That’s got to be good news for anyone whose blood pressure potentially rises with their anxiety and stress levels. Even better, just your pet’s presence helps with healthier blood pressure. Anytime you do pat, stroke, or get in some daily exercise with your pet is an added bonus for your BP.

Pets are Social and Emotional Support

As many pet people will attest, a pet often intuitively and instinctively seems to pick up on when you are out of sorts. They may seek to reassure you or keep their distance. Both of which can be a good indication that you need to address your anxiety levels.

People who love animals also usually consider pets as a part of their family. If you’re feeling a little disconnected with other people, it is entirely possible to have a close connection with your pet and know that you’re not alone. The friendship of a cat curled up on your lap, or a dog by your side can do wonders to help with any worries around loneliness or isolation.

Pets Are Good Listeners

Did you know that there are therapy animals that help kids and adults with reading difficulties? There are many schools and libraries that recognize that the quiet non-judgmental presence of reading to an animal can help people with learning difficulties gain confidence and new skills.

What’s more, if you talk to your own pet they will respond. Okay, maybe not a specific answer that you’re trying to work out, but many pets such as cats and dogs love communicating with the people in their life either vocally, or through an affectionate rub, full body lean, and even the gentle head butt of a cat.

People Can Help With Your Pets Too

If you do have a mental health condition such as anxiety, stress, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), domestic animals can be recognized as part of a treatment plan. Check out information on emotional support animals (ESA). Your ‘ordinary’ pet can be elevated to be an ESA for you if its presence alleviates and helps you manage symptoms that limit your quality of life. Aside from the benefit to your health, there is some legal protection from discrimination for having an emotional support animal in rental housing and during air travel.

Do you have a pet?

Tell us about your furry friend in the comments below!

 

Where to Find Cheap Maternity Clothes on a Budget

Where to Find Cheap Maternity Clothes on a Budget

Is it even possible to find cheap maternity clothes on a budget?

Absolutely, if you know where to look!

Pregnancy is such an exciting time, but it can also be an incredibly expensive time as you get everything you need for a new baby. If you live on a tight budget, it’s probably already stretched to the max without adding the cost of an entire new wardrobe.

Your body is quickly changing and it won’t be long before your pants start to feel a bit too snug. You want to be comfortable, but you may not want to spend a fortune on a temporary wardrobe. Don’t worry, you can still find cute, inexpensive maternity clothes to fit both your bump and your budget.

Here are some tips to find free and cheap maternity clothes:

Shop From Your Own Closet for Free Maternity Clothes

Even better than cheap maternity clothing is free maternity clothing. Using your non-maternity clothes is the easiest way to dress your bump without spending a cent.

You might be surprised to find items that you already own that you can continue to wear well into your pregnancy (or even the entire time). Making some minor modifications can also extend how long you can wear your pre-pregnancy clothes.

  • Look through your clothes for things that are stretchy, flowy, or loose. Leggings, tunics, and maxi dresses are some of your best bets.

 

  • Look for waist lines that can be worn above or below your bump.

 

  • For shirts – think long and stretchy to cover your belly. I found super long tank tops at H&M that were perfect for layering under other shirts. This extends the life of many other shirts by giving some extra tummy coverage. As just an added plus, I also still layer these tank tops all the time for nursing.

 

  • For jeans – use the hair tie trick when they start to get too snug. Loop a hair tie over the button, through the buttonhole and back over the button. Confused by my description? You can see how ridiculously easy it is with this youtube video.

 

  • Use a Bella band. These stretchy bellybands will keep your pants in place after they can no longer be zipped and add a little extra bump coverage.

Some moms may find that they can get by with just their regular clothes and this can equal huge cost savings. Unfortunately, we all gain differently and if you’re like me, by the second trimester those non-maternity jeans stop mid-thigh and most pre-pregnancy clothes aren’t going to cut it.  

Borrow Maternity Clothes From Friends

Your friends and family can be another great source of free maternity clothes. If you happen to know anyone who has already had a baby, they may be willing to loan (or even give) you their used maternity clothes.

Unless they are currently wearing the clothing or plan to in the near future, many moms will gladly share those maternity items that are just taking up space in their closets.

A few awesome friends lent me tons of maternity clothing for my first pregnancy. It was so kind and saved me loads of money.

Also, maternity clothes tend to be very forgiving size wise, making it really easy to share clothes if you’re even remotely similar sizes.

If you’re lucky enough to borrow maternity clothes, treat them well and try to return them in the same condition you received them.

But maybe you are the first of your friends to have kids or your friends are also pregnant or for whatever reason borrowing may not work out. That’s ok, you can still get cheap maternity clothes on a budget.

Where to Find Cheap Maternity Clothes on a Budget

save money on maternity clothes

Buy Used Maternity Clothes

Since they are used for such a short time that you can often find barely worn, second hand maternity clothes. You may be surprised at the high quality, like-new clothes available at consignment and thrift stores at a fraction of their original price.

For instance, I have found several Motherhood Maternity shirts in excellent condition at Goodwill.

I also found some awesome deals on used maternity clothes at Swap.com, my favorite place to buy used online.

Facebook marketplace and Buy, Sell, Trade Groups are also great places to look for used maternity clothes at some of the lowest prices around. You also may want to re-sell your maternity clothes when you’re done with them the same way. In case you’re not sure how to get started, here is a complete guide to selling in Facebook groups.

Hit the Clearance Racks for Cheap Maternity Clothes

If you want to buy new clothes and not spend a ton, head straight to the clearance section and buy maternity clothes on sale.

Target, H&M, and Old Navy generally have a good selection of maternity clothing available online and it’s easy to browse the sales. I’ve also found great deals on the Motherhood Maternity clearance rack.

Also, some discount stores like Burlington and Ross sell maternity clothing. Not every location carries maternity so you may want to call and ask before making the trip, but you can find excellent deals especially on clearance items.

When shopping clearance consider buying seasonal items early. Generally I’d wait to buy something until I need it, but that can be difficult with clearance since usually the marked down items are from the last season.

For instance, if you find out you’re pregnant in the fall, you may be able to score a maternity bathing suit or shorts for a great deal. You probably won’t find them on clearance in the spring or summer when you need them.

Finally, keep in mind when shopping that clothing doesn’t necessarily have to be maternity to fit. Just like the clothes you already own, look for loose and stretchy non-maternity clothes and go up a size if needed. Choose items that you’ll be able to continue to wear after your pregnancy.

So now that you’ve found cheap maternity clothes on a budget, you can move on to tackling other pregnancy tasks!

There’s so much to do to get ready for your little one! For instance, have you picked a baby name yet? It can be difficult to find the perfect name. If you and your partner are struggling to agree here are some amazing tips to help you pick a name you’ll both love.

Do you have any suggestions on how to save when looking for maternity clothes?

Post your best tip in the comments below!

This post was written by Rachel, one half of the team behind The Moms at Odds. She is dedicated to their mission that there are multiple right ways to parent and those differences should be celebrated, not shamed. Rachel is a stay-at-home mom to two wild boys. In her limited spare time you’ll either find her blogging or folding laundry while binge watching Netflix.

Chuck E Cheese Birthday Party Review

Chuck E Cheese Birthday Party Review

I’m so excited to share my experience with hosting our first Chuck E Cheese birthday party! I’m a bit of a control freak, so I can’t say I wasn’t worried about how this party would go down, but it was even better than I could have expected.

It’s important to note here that I’m in no way affiliated with Chuck E Cheese nor am I receiving anything in return for this post. It’s simply an experience worth sharing with other mommas in need of party planning help!

How does a Chuck E Cheese birthday party work?

When my daughter announced she wanted to hold her 4th birthday at Chuck E Cheese, my frugal brain immediately went to the cost. So I went on the Chuck E Cheese website and was pleasantly surprised by the affordable options. Even when we go the party-at-home-DIY-route (like we did for our Dr. Seuss birthday party!) there’s still the stress and time planning it all.

I truly love to throw parties, but not necessarily during the cold days of February, which happens to be my daughter’s birthday month. So this time I handed over the party planning reigns and here’s what happened…

Chuck E Cheese Birthday Party Review

chuck e cheese birthday party

What’s the schedule like?

We arrived at Chuck E Cheese about 15 minutes before the party was set to start. Everything was set up in the back already and our host greeted us. She handed over a bag of play passes as well as a birthday bracelet for my sweet birthday girl.

Our host then went over our order (we opted for extra pizzas and drinks for the adults). From there, she went over the schedule, which looked like this:

12pm – party starts, kids play

12:45pm – pizza time! Our host served the children and made sure they all got what they needed.

After pizza, Chuck E himself came out to dance with the kids. We then sang “Happy Birthday” while the host cut and distributed the cake. Since we got the Mega Super Star package, it also included Dippin’ Dots (yum!!)

Chuck E Cheese dippin dots birthday party

From there, it would’ve been gift time, but we nixed that to do gifts at home.

After cake, it was ticket blaster time! My daughter wasn’t too keen on it, so her big brother stepped in.

Do they have to do the ticket blaster?

Our host was kind enough to show my daughter how the ticket blaster worked, but even then, my daughter wasn’t interested. My 5yr old son was all about it, though, so he stepped up to get those tickets. That said, there was also the option to skip the ticket blaster and simply collect 200 tickets (plus her 1000 bonus tickets as a part of the party package).

After the ticket blaster, the kids are then welcome to go back to playing.

Chuck E Cheese Ticket Blaster

Can you bring your own cake to a Chuck E Cheese birthday party?

Absolutely! While Chuck E Cheese offers a number of gorgeous cake options, you can also bring in your own cake and ice cream.

Do you tip for a Chuck E Cheese birthday party?

I’ve actually reached out to Chuck E Cheese to see if they have a policy/common practice on this. While I in no way felt pressured to tip, there’s no doubt our hostess deserved it! Our total party cost was $300, on which we tipped $40. This might seem like a bit much to some (like my husband…hehe) but I’ve worked in food service before and the tip was well earned.

Is the Mega Super Star package worth it?

It really, really is. It was so nice to not have to worry about goody bags or ice cream, plus the unlimited play for the 2 hours really helped parents better enjoy the experience and not worry about watching (or having to re-up!) their child’s play points. I also love that the goody bags allow for every child to leave with something, regardless of how many tickets they earned.

chuck e cheese goody bag

What happens if you have no-shows?

Sure enough, on the day of the party we had a couple children who suddenly couldn’t make it. Luckily Chuck E Cheese offers a 2-child no-show policy so we weren’t charged for the absent children.

The Easiest Birthday Party Ever

Overall, I truly could not have been happier with the whole experience. I did EVERYTHING online on my own schedule and it was the smoothest, most relaxed party I’ve had. Frankly, I’m considering hosting my own next birthday party there – they do have beer, after all! 😉

chuck e cheese birthday party review

Have you had a Chuck E Cheese birthday party experience?

Would love for you to comment below and share your thoughts!

10 Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets on Amazon for Under $20 

10 Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets on Amazon for Under $20 

I’m a big fan of Alton Brown and his idea on single-use items; there are a lot of really odd, single-use kitchen gadgets out there that might seem cool at first but will honestly just take up space and you’ll end up selling them at a garage sale and all you’ll have is .50 cents and a small pile of regret.

That said, there are some really cool items that fill a niche role but do it so well – or can be used for other things – that they’re absolutely worth having in your kitchen, pantry, or in your grill kit.

Amazon is a fantastic resource for cheap prices and lightning-fast shipping, but Its catalog has gotten incredibly vast over the years, so shopping for that perfect item is a slog. We’ve put together a list of 10 fun, useful, and best-of-all cheap kitchen gadgets that will delight anyone who rules the roaster in their household.

10 Must-Have Single Use Kitchen Gadgets for Under $20

single use items for the kitchen alton brown
Please note that the links below are affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission should you click through and make a purchase. This in no way impacts my recommendations or the cost to you.

Spread Butter Easier

Butter Knife Magic

Our son LOVES buttered toast but for real, cold butter is a substance that defies physics and destroys all bread it touches. This knife fixes that problem by allowing you to cut razor-thin slices, fun spirals, or spaghetti-esque noodles of butter, straight from the fridge!

Stop Boil Overs


Handy Lid

My husband is Italian, so we eat a lot of pasta during the week, but my husband is also absent-minded, so we clean up a lot of boiled-over pasta water during the week, too. This silicone lid sits on top of your pot in lieu of your traditional lid. It allows steam and bubbles to escape without boiling over and covering your stove or putting out your burners. They’re also adorable and can help strain pasta as well!

Gift Idea for Wine Lover


Kato Wine Accessories Gift Set

If you don’t drink wine, you know someone who does. I personally am not fond of digging around in the utensils drawer for the corkscrew and then trying to stuff the cork back into the bottle without sending it spiraling down into the wine itself and then having to Google if drinking cork-wine will kill me. This set has a foil cutter, a corkscrew, an aerator spout, a stopper, and even a drip ring, if you’re messy. It’s all stored in a convenient, cute wine-bottle shaped spy kit. How fun is that?

Air Fryer Accessories

Air Fryer Accessories

We had a small air fryer and we hated it – it just wasn’t big enough for anything useful. We got this particular air fryer for Christmas and it’s AMAZING. Food comes out crispy, it cooks quickly and with minimal oil, and it doesn’t take up much space on the counter. My husband uses it at least 4 times a week for dinner, and I love it because I can toss some hashbrowns or bacon into it for breakfast and go get ready while they cook perfectly. We have the manual one which is a dream, but there’s a digital one as well with more settings, if you’re into that.

Clean Grills Without the Fear of Metal Shards

The Grate Grill Scraper

Wire brushes are, while commonplace in grill-cleaning kits, very much not ideal for the task. The shards of wire can seriously hurt someone if they ingest them and it’s more common than you think. This brass – well it’s not a ring exactly, but it’s definitely a shape – cuts through stuck-on food and carbon extremely well and can fit nearly any standard grate-spacing, without the fear of metal shavings in your burgers.

Scoop Ice Cream Easier


Heat Conducting Ice Cream Scoop

Ice cream is, like revenge, a dish best served cold. This makes it fun and delicious, but also a pain in the wrist to scoop efficiently without flinging it all over your kitchen. This particular heat-conducting scoop is leagues above the traditional scoop with the little level that dishes out ice cream. Heat from your hand travels into the spoon and cuts through the icy treat and the heavy-duty utensil will stand up against even the coldest, hardest-packed ice cream possible.

Cute Spoon Rest

Splash Spoon Rest

Finding a place to put your spoon isn’t a difficult task, but this cute, fun utensil rest really makes a “splash”. With its vibrant color and deep grooves, it should keep a handle on any size spoon you need to set down for a moment.

Cut Hot Dogs Quick

Dachshund-Shaped Hot Dog Cutter

The cutest things often come in small packages, and this little hot dog …dog… is proof of that. Sometimes it only takes a little bit of fun to encourage kids to eat their dinner, and this cutter makes small enough pieces for little hands and then holds them in place. Bonus doggie dish for ketchup or mustard dipping!

Grate Cheese with Ease

 Hedgehog Grater

This little guy will look great on any countertop, ready to zest citrus, grate some cheese, or shave some chocolate. He’s easy to clean, beautiful appearance, and BPA-free, and cute as a button!

Uses for a Pizza Cutter (besides cutting pizza!)

Ultimate Pizza Cutter

Look, nobody is going to argue that pizza is the best but sometimes the cheesy pie is difficult to cut and serve without losing all your toppings. This pizza cutter gives you ultimate control, cleans up quickly and easily, and you can use it on anything that needs sliced. I use it on my kids’ pancakes in the morning, on grilled cheese, and quesadillas and while it seems such a simple thing, it really does make a big difference!

Do you have any single-task or highly specialized kitchen gadgets that you’ve found you simply can’t do without? Let me know and I’ll add them to this list!

Valentine’s Day Craft Ideas for Preschoolers

Valentine’s Day Craft Ideas for Preschoolers

Valentine’s Day is especially great when you have preschoolers – they’re old enough to want to celebrate, but too young to want to celebrate without Mom or Dad by their side. I love all the cute projects they bring home from school and it’s always a joy to then replicate their projects (or as every Mom does – turn to Pinterest for ideas!)

Valentine’s Day Craft Ideas for Preschoolers

valentines day crafts preschool

These ideas from my fellow bloggers make for great Valentine’s Day gifts for parents or a candy-less Valentine for their classmates. Be sure to comment at the end of this post and let me know which one is your favorite!

Love Bug Craft Sticks

Love Bug Picture Craft

Heart Print Valentine Project

Crystal Hearts Valentine’s Day Science Project

DIY Clay Hearts

Flower Fine Motor Fun

Valentine Pom Pom Painting for Preschoolers

Salt Dough Heart Candle Gift Holder

Valentine’s Day Alphabet Hearts

Valentines Sensory Bin Math Game

DIY Valentine Necklace

Preschool Matching Game

Valentine’s Day Gross Motor Game

Flower Petal Sensory Play

Valentine’s Day Heart Craft

DIY Heart Stamp Art

Fingerprint Heart Ornaments

Valentine STEM for Kids

Valentine’s Slime

Magic Inflating Conversation Heart

Whether you’re looking for an idea for a Valentine’s Day gift for dad or simply a fun craft to do with your sweet preschoolers, these ideas are sure to make for a memorable holiday for years to come!

Don’t forget to comment below and let me know which idea you’ll be trying this year! Or if you have your own craft/tradition, I’d love for you to share below.