Creating a Bedtime Routine

Do you have a bedtime routine with your children? I hope so. Children of all ages thrive with routine, and as many children head back to school they would so benefit with a routine in place. They love knowing when things will happen and what to expect next. Having a routine for many parts of our day alleviates so many struggles and never is this more true than at bedtime! 

Scholastic and Orajel™ are coming together to encourage parents to make reading out loud to their children and brushing their teeth part of their family’s bedtime routine. And I couldn’t agree more! The Read2Me Tonight campaign gives parents many resources to motivate them to read with their children each night. In addition to these resources, parents can also find a free Scholastic e-book called The Three Bees, the 100 Best Read-Aloud Books, and important articles from the editors of Scholastic Parents.

So what does our routine look like? I created this little chart for Chickadee and Sprout so they know what to expect each night as they wind down for bed. (please right click to download and print)

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Before beginning our bedtime routine, we always give the kids a heads up that it is time for their last “activity” before cleaning up and heading to take a bath. We have found Chickadee especially does well when she knows her playing time is about to come to an end. 

After taking a bath and putting on pajamas both kids brush their teeth.

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Neither of them have even been big fans, but we know the importance of starting this habit early. We have tried several strategies from letting them lay down to brush teeth to bushing their teeth in the dark.

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What works best for Sprout is having him mimic funny faces we make where you have to open your mouth pretty wide. Chickadee is now at the age where we expect her to follow directions and does pretty well with letting us brush her teeth.  

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Finally we snuggle up on the glider or daybed to read a book and the kid’s devotion. Reading is a great way to settle kids down before bedtime. Also research shows that reading aloud to your kids and talking about the story drastically increases their vocabulary and deep thinking skills. (Had to make that plug as a former teacher!). Chickadee is 2.5 and loves reading the pictures to Sprout. Scholastic is offering a free e-book called The Three Bees that stresses the importance of a bedtime routine (a little three B’s word play, brush, book, bed). You should definitely head over and check it out! If you are looking for other great read alouds Scholastic has your covered with their list of the 100 Best Read Aloud Books. 

Having a predictable bedtime routine in place alleviates stress for both children and their parents. With a little work and consistency bedtime can be a smooth process that every looks forward to and family memories are made!

What have you found works best as part of your bedtime routine?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of ORAJEL. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

How We Cut Cable & Still Watch All Our Shows

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If you have been around A Step in the Journey for some time now, you probably have realized I LOVE saving money wherever I can. Thrift, consign, reuse, save, coupon, and DIY are all part of our regular vocabulary around here. Whether it is searching for a coupon code before ordering a new light fixture or finding 85% of my kids wardrobes at consignment sells, we are always up for saving where we can. So it probably comes to no surprise that we cut the cord on cable about 3 years ago! It was pretty scary at first, but now that we “seem” to have it all figured out…I’m not sure we will ever go back!

I wanted to share what we have found works best for us and about what we pay/save! Before we cut the cord we were paying $89.99 for cable and internet (only for the first two years), $7.99 for Netflix, and $8.25 for Amazon Prime each month. That equals out to $106.23 a month to have access to internet and TV. That is not terrible, but we knew it could be done cheaper.

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So, we did our research and then took the plunge. The first thing we did was get an antenna. We live pretty close to Atlanta, Georgia so we only needed about a 15-20 mile antenna. We started with rabbit’s ears, and they worked really well, but were a little unsightly, so we traded up for the 1byone flat antenna a few months ago. It works great! NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC and your local Pubic Television stations are always floating around, just waiting for you to watch through an antenna. and the best part is it’s FREE! 

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The rest of what we watch on TV we stream, using the internet, through our Roku. There are several streaming devices out there, but we have only ever used the Roku so that is all I can speak to. We paid $79.99 for it about 3 years ago, however you can now get a Roku on Amazon for about $60. To stream content with a Roku you have to also have internet. Our current internet is $39.99 a month and gives us speeds up to 60mbps. It was a one year deal, but after 12 months I called to let them know I was going to cancel since my bill was going up and they offered me another 12 months at $39.99! Sweet.

Through the Roku is where we watch the rest of the channels we can’t pick up over the antenna. You have a few options here….

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First, there is SlingTV. On the Sling Roku channel, you can live stream between 25-50 channels (depending on your package). Our favorites are ESPN, ESPN2, SECN, Food Network, HGTV, and the Disney channel. Sling coming around was a lifesaver for cutting cable. We are huge football fans (War Eagle!) and during the fall we need access to the games! Going to a restaurant or friend’s house to watch the game was not always an option because of our kids sleep schedules. SlingTV offering ESPN was a game changer. They have an additional sports package you can add through the fall for $5 more a month. Another beauty of SlingTV is there is no contract, so you can activate and deactivate your account whenever you want. It’s awesome.

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As I mentioned before, through an antenna you can watch all of the broadcast channels live. However, I know sometimes live is not always possible. We have a solution for that too! First up, Hulu Plus. Hulu Plus allows you to watch any of the shows you missed on ABC, NBC, and FOX the next day with a subscription of $7.99 a month. If you are willing to wait a week to watch the latest episodes you can do so on ABC, NBC, & FOX’s Roku channels for free. CBS is a little trickier. They have a Roku channel, but they charge about $6/month to access it. If you choose to do so, you can watch their shows the day after airing.

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Netflix….well, it’s awesome. Netflix allows for binge watching some of your favorite shows from the past as well as some new Netflix original series. Some of our most loved series are Friday Night Lights, 24, White Collar, Parenthood, Gilmore Girls, & our current obsession, West Wing. They also have TONS of children’s content (Mighty Machines, anyone?) and movies for the entire family. Netflix runs anywhere from $7.99 – $11.99 a month depending on how many screens you want access to it on at the same time. 

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The last channel we use regularly is Amazon Video. It is very similar to Netflix. They too have lots of your favorite series from the past as well as their own original series and movies. Amazon Video allows you to watch tons of content “free” (as long as you have a Prime membership), and also allows you to rent newer content through their channel. Chickadee’s favorite, Daniel Tiger is a regular on our Amazon Video channel! 

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So that is about the jist of how we do it. For the options we chose, the breakdown comes to $39.99 for internet $19.99 for Sling ($24.99 during football season due to sports package add on) and $8.99 for Netflix. That is only $73.94!! Yall, I mean come on. Isn’t that amazing…I could factor in 1/12 of Amazon Prime too which would bring the total to $82.19, but I’m not going to because we would have Amazon Prime regardless of what we were doing television wise! That is a savings of $32.29 each month and $387.48 over the course of a year. So for the three years since we cut the cord we’ve saved over $1,000! That is awesome.

If you (or your husband!) have any questions let me know. I would love to help you save as much money as I can!! 

No Bake Oatmeal Energy Bite the Kids Love

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Sprout has been really starting to talk a lot lately, he probably has about 15-20 words in his vocabulary. It’s crazy…he is talking a lot sooner than Chickadee I feel like, maybe because he is trying to keep up with his big sister! And although I wish I could say “mama” was his favorite….it’s not. SNACK! SNACK! He wakes up and goes straight for the refrigerator or pantry yelling “snack!” He sees a treat in the diaper bag while we are out and about and starts yelling “snack!” The boy loves to eat….it’s like he is in a constant state of growing. He probably is. 

I made these oatmeal energy balls a few days ago in hopes I could satisfy little man’s appetite. They are packed full of protein and the kids gobbled them right up! Win. Win.

Oatmeal Energy Balls
Yields 20
Delicious and no bake....perfect for a pretty healthy snack!
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Print
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/4 cup of organic old fashion oats
  2. 2/3 cup of natural peanut butter
  3. 1/2 cup of ground flax seed (I buy Bob's Red Mill)
  4. 2 tbsp of chia seeds
  5. 1/2 semisweet chocolate chips (you could substitute dried cranberries also)
  6. 1/3 cup of local honey
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes
Instructions
  1. Stir all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl until well combined. Then cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes
  2. After chilling use your hands (or a small ice cream scoop) to form a ball
  3. Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container....I would eat them within a week of making, but ours are usually gone a lot sooner!
A Step In The Journey http://astepinthejourney.com/

We’ve been giving these out as snacks, but they also are a great addition to breakfast or lunch! You could also push them down into a cookie shape and tell your kids they are cookies. With the chocolate chips they will never know it’s good for them too! 

So what are your favorite go to snacks for the kids?

Thrilled to Pieces Teacher Gift

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Y’all, I cannot believe it. I feel like I was just sitting here writing down Chickadee’s birth story, updating you each month on how she has learned to sit and say mama. And just like that she is almost THREE and starting preschool. Someone might have to mop me up off the floor because I am sure I will be an emotional wreck counting down those three hours until I pick her up. And then I know the next week will come, she will be LOVING it, and I will be cherishing this special time with just me and Sprout. Oh baby girl, you are going to have so much fun, learn so much, make so many friends, and I pray share the love of Jesus! 

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We met her teachers yesterday and wanted to share a little token of our excitement with them. I made this sign on Picmonkey, but you can download it here if you would like. I let Chickadee add her own touch, then cut it out and attached it and a gift card to a bag of Reeses Pieces. Who doesn’t love Reseses Pieces? We are THRILLED for sweet Chickadee and for her new teachers! As some of you know I taught before staying home with Chickadee & Sprout. I know firsthand how much love, sweat, dedication, time and energy it takes to teach children of all ages and we so appreciate those that will pour into our little ones over the next years. 

Have a great weekend folks (and send a little prayer our way on Monday!)!

The Best Menu Planning Strategy EVER

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I really enjoy cooking and baking. It is relaxing (when done during naptime!) and I like having something to show for my hard work. However, what I don’t like about the cooking process is coming up with what to cook each night. Most Sunday nights I would ask III what he would like for dinner that week. Other times I planned based on what’s on sale at the grocery store. But all that changed a few months ago. Yall, this is the best menu planning strategy ever. Can’t believe I just figured it out.

We sat down and made a list. A list of our 30ish favorite meals to eat. Here are a few that I included on our list…

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

Lasagna

Mexican Cheeseburgers

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

Chicken Paninis

Pizza Pasta

Omelets

Hamburger Sliders

Tacos

Italian Enchiladas

Sausage, Spinach & Tomato Pasta

Grilled Chicken on Salad

Breakfast (Waffles)

Chicken Fried Rice

Nachos

Homemade Pizza

Pasta with Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Honey Lemon Chicken

Crockpot Ribs

Veggie Plate

After making my list I arranged the list that made the best sense for using similar ingredients. For example, I might buy a rotisserie chicken at the beginning of the week. I can used that chicken for both chicken enchiladas and chicken fried rice. I always do breakfast at least once a week. Sometimes I’ll make a batch of homemade spaghetti sauce and use it at the beginning of the week for spaghetti and at the end for homemade pizzas. 

It takes the hardest part out of menu planning. I no longer have to come up with “what to cook.” I just rotate through the meals every month. When fall comes around I add in soups and more hearty meals perfect for cooler weather. This discovery makes me happy & I hope it does you too!