I love receiving and sharing tips that make family life better.  Anything goes here:  Cleaning tips, relationship tips, party ideas, gift ideas, cooking tips–if I like it I am going to share it.   

General Family Tips:

*Make it a habit to hug your spouse and children every day.

*Build spirituality in your home.  Worship together at church, read scriptures together, pray together.  If you choose to not practice a religion, read and discuss inspirational literature.  Spend quiet time in nature.  Search out that which is uplifting.

*Keep a gratitude journal or a joy diary.  Each day record the times you feel grateful or experience a simple pleasure.

*Get down on your child’s level.  Build with blocks, dress Barbies, hunt for bugs.  See the world as your child sees it.

*Get your spouse a gift “just because.”  It need not be expensive, but make sure it is thoughtfully chosen.

*Do chores with your kids.  It is a great way to get them talking.

*Embrace being Mom (or Dad).

*Create an emergency savings account.  Only touch the money for things such as unplanned repairs or unexpected costs.  Keep adding to the account regularly.

*Give your kids opportunities to connect with the older generations of their family (grandparents/great grandparents).  Let them play games with them or simply visit.  Invite the grandparents to school programs, sporting events, dance recitals, etc.

*Create a family website or blog so that all family members, no matter where they live, can stay connected.

*Chip clips make great card holders for little hands.

*Glow in the dark sticks, necklaces, or bracelets make great night lights in hotel rooms.

*For tips on roadtrip boredom busters click here.  For tips on bonding with kids while on vacation click here.

Relationships (Emotional Bank Account):

*Never speak negatively about your spouse behind their back.

*Determine to notice every right thing your spouse or children do over the next week.  Make sure to verbally express delight over these “right” things.

*Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, suggests spouses “establish a daily sharing time in which each of you will talk about three things that happened to you that day and how you feel about them.”

*Make a plan to spend quality time with your spouse and with your children.  Order your life so that you can follow your plan.

*Learn what the interests of your children are.  Give them your undivided attention as you learn about those interests.

*Three things to ask your kids at the end of each day:  What was your favorite part of the day?  What was your worst part of the day?  What is one thing you learned or did today?

*Send a text to your teen every once in awhile.  It will surprise them and may even please them.

*When you praise a family member, make it specific.  It will be more sincere that way.

*Allow kids to have some control over how they spend their time.  If they feel like they have some control in their life they are more willing to relinquish some control when the adult needs to take charge.

*Let each of your kids have one night a week that they get to stay up 30 minutes later than the other kids to have some alone time with one or both parents.

*Schedule some time to listen to your spouse share his/her interests, talents, and dreams.  Encourage and offer to help with the goals in any way possible.

*Make a list of the things you love about your spouse.  Give your spouse compliments based on that list.

*Clip comic strips that you know your kids would enjoy and share them with them.

*Make a list of things you know your spouse would like you to do with them (date night, vacation, walk, read a book, etc.).  Make a commitment to complete one thing from the list each month.

*Choose three simple tasks you know your spouse would like completed.  Surprise your spouse by completing them without being asked.

*Allow at least 30 minutes of “Reconnection Time” when your family comes together again after school and work.  Let the kids carry the conversation.  Make no mention of chores, homework, or work tasks for those 30 minutes.

Birthday Celebrations:

*A party for teens that worked really well for us can be found at this post.

*Have a “Magic” birthday party.  Require each guest to come prepared to perform one or two magic tricks.

*Instead of receiving gifts at a birthday party, have the birthday child look beyond him/herself and request donations to a cause they are passionate about.  Some ideas:  food for the food bank, school supplies for their classroom, toiletries for a homeless shelter, blankets for a children’s hospital, books for a literacy program, supplies for a pet shelter, etc.

*Instead of gifts at a party, guests could bring items to exchange that go along with a hobby the birthday child enjoys:  books, action figures, stickers, game cards, etc.  Each child exchanges with another and goes home with a different item.

*If the birthday child enjoys scrap-booking they could request each party guest bring a photo or other memento that could be added to the birthday child’s scrapbook.

*If the birthday child likes to garden they could request each party guest bring a packet of seeds to add to their garden.

*Parents can give the gift of an outing with one or both parents.  Go to lunch or dinner.  Maybe your child enjoys bowling or shooting baskets.  Getting to do it with parents for a birthday makes it even more special.

*Require kids to write thank you notes before enjoying the gifts they receive.

*Allow the birthday child to select the menus for the day.

*Give the birthday child the day off from chores.  Allow their siblings the JOY of doing the chores for them.

*Place banners, balloons, or stickers up where others can see that someone special is celebrating a birthday.

Health and Wellness:

*Get a head-to-toe skin check yearly.

*Be the first to apologize, whether you think you should be first or not.  It will do wonders for your soul. 

*Make a list each night of what you have accomplished, even if it just consists of “two loads of laundry, dusted blinds, took child to orthodontist, and fixed fish for dinner.”  Make the list mentally or write it down.  You will feel good about what you did accomplish. 

*Save your fan mail.  Save every encouraging or congratulatory card and email to read during times you are not feeling like a star.

*If trying to lose weight, stick to an eating schedule.  Eat something every three hours so that you don’t become ravenous.

Cooking:

*A yummy, nutritious snack:  Apple slices coated with peanut butter and rolled in sunflower seeds.

*If your brown sugar has gotten hard as a brick place it in a plastic zip up bag with a piece of bread.  The sugar will soften overnight.

Cleaning:

* Keep an extra shower sponge and some cheap shower gel in your shower.  Just before you get out of the shower squirt some of the shower gel onto the sponge and use it to wipe down the shower tiles and glass and then rinse.  It is a great way to maintain your shower between deep cleanings.

*An easy way to clean spills and splashes from the inside of a microwave oven is to first heat some water mixed with baking soda in the microwave for a few minutes.  Spills will wipe off easily afterwards.

*Some uses for dryer sheets:  Rub over areas that collect pet hair, it will attract loose hairs;  Eliminate odors – place in sneakers, wastebaskets, laundry hampers, under car seats, drawers, closets, suitcases, etc.  Eliminate static electricity and prevent dust from resettling by running a dryer sheet over your TV and blinds; place them in crawl spaces and basements to repel bugs and mice.

*For heaven’s sake don’t put items that have faux fur in the dryer!  (See related post)

*Placing bowls of vinegar in areas with offensive odors helps to absorb the odor.

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8 Responses to “Nifty Notions”

  1. Lori Says:

    How simple, but I would have never thought of having each child bring a photo to the party. That would make my life so much easier! Thanks.


  2. I really love this post! I’ll certainly try some of them, quite helpful. Thanks!!

  3. 3 Under 3 Says:

    What a great, refreshing post on some very interesting ideas. It isn’t often you come across genuine and heartfelt advice such as this. Thanks.

  4. FoodyMom Says:

    On cleaning the microwave–I didn’t know that. Thanks. Lemon juice in water also works very well.

  5. dmwright Says:

    Great ideas! Thank you for sharing! I will use them for sure!

  6. serendipitous8 Says:

    This is great!!!! I love each and every one of these Nifty Notions.

  7. nancyjrab Says:

    I am loving this! And I have to point out, as someone who is raising her children in a secular household, that I so appreciate your acknowledgment (right up top, too) that secular families can still find meaning in our lives, still be “uplifted,” and still raise ethical, wonderful children.

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