How I empowered my kids to clean

Today I woke up and took a different approach to chores. It worked well. The chores got done, and I didn’t have to nag (very much).

Usually Saturday morning chores look like this: I empty the dishwasher, wash and load breakfast dishes, then clean the rest of the house. Meanwhile, I argue with the kids to get them to make their beds (which somehow takes forever, check out this video for a little taste). When they are (finally) done, I delegate more chores until I feel we are done. It’s a very top-down, command and control approach.

I’ve been reflecting lately about how to empower and engage my kids. I want to give them opportunities to make decisions, even if they are small. After all, most of my day job is focused on creating an empowering and positive culture. I teach others how to coach their employees instead of telling them what to do. I encourage creativity and involvement. I don’t always apply these skills at home. Today I tried it, and it felt good.

I started by telling my 7-year old daughter (my project team) that I wanted our home to be clean (our mission). Then I asked for her help creating a list of things we would need to do to create a clean and healthy home. We brainstormed together and made a list (action plan). She added more than I planned on doing today (like cleaning the floors. I was ready to vacuum but not particularly energized about scrubbing them today. Oh well, I wrote it down.)

I told her we would work together to complete the list. I empowered her choose 2-3 chores that she wanted to do first (limiting work in progress builds momentum and is less overwhelming). I asked her to put her initial by those items. I also chose a few tasks and wrote “Mom” by them. I was surprised she picked empty the dishwasher first. That’s usually where I start. I decided to start by making everyone’s beds. She makes her bed every day. I’m pretty sure she’s sick of it. I actually enjoyed making beds instead of doing the dishes. We were off to a good start.

Every time we finished a task we got the satisfaction of checking it off (celebrate every win). When we finished everything we were assigned, we picked 2-3 more items (kept up the momentum). We continued until everything was complete (mission accomplished!). She even cleaned the floor. I empowered her to use her own creative method of wiping up any visible dirt or spots with a baby wipe.

This approach worked today. Maybe it was brilliant. Maybe it was just effective because it was new. Either way, it was a fun experiment!

Note: the words up top on the white board are our words for the year. Mine is adventure and my daughter’s word is perseverance. Yep, my 7 year old chose a more mature word than me. My response when she told me her word was “do you even know what that means?” She said yes, it means to never give up. This kid is my inspiration in many ways.

Click here for more on how we manage morning and evening daily chores.

8 Tips for going to Disney On Ice

We had the most magical time at Disney On Ice earlier this week, and I’d love to share some tips that saved us money and made it a great experience.  1. Dress in Disney! Add to the fun and make it extra … Continue reading

3 Ways to make time to recharge yourself  

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Corn Meal “sanbox” for indoor quiet play

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7 Ways to start pursuing your Dream Vacation today!

Walt Disney says “All of your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.” Pause for a moment and reflect on the truth in that quote. I just took my daughter to Disneyland and it was … Continue reading

Morning Routine: Little Improvements, Big Results

Morning routines help us feel grounded, and they give us a solid start to the day. My mornings used to be rushed, and that rushed feeling would linger throughout the day. Now my mornings usually start with coffee in bed … Continue reading

Happy mornings and good nights

We have what some would call morning chores and evening chores, but we don’t call them chores. We listed our tasks and named them “Happy Morning List” and “Good Night List”.

I believe in making things simple and fun. Sometimes reframing chores as a happy morning routine is all you need to help change your mindset and attitude. These titles reflect my overarching goal and the reason we are doing these tasks: we want to have happy mornings and good nights.

“Discipline is the joyful act of pursuing your dreams.”

So far, it’s worked! My kindergartener and I pick out clothes together and sometimes race. We make lunches together and brush our teeth together. By syncing our routines, we actually spend more time together in the evenings – an unexpected and welcome impact of these simple check lists.

Now that I hold myself to the same standards of my kindergartener, my mornings have improved and my work day too! I wake up with my clothes ready and my lunch made, and I love having happy mornings and good nights.

Breakfast Solution: Quiche Cups

Quick and Easy Quiche Cups for Breakfast

I’m working on my health one habit at a time, and the focus right now is breakfast. A healthy breakfast (and a strong cup of coffee) give me the energy and nutrition I need for work, family, kids, running, yoga, and (mostly) keeping my sanity through it all.

I recently realized I sometimes sacrifice breakfast to get dressed and brush my hair on work days. Then I realized I can have my cake and eat it, too – or at least get dressed and eat breakfast, too. So now I’m on a journey of making breakfast ahead of time for the whole work week.

Last week I made a batch of Pear Quinoa Breakfast Salad. This week I made something that deliciously resembles one of my favorite breakfasts – omelets! I love omelets but rarely take time to make them, so I’m excited for this quick alternative. Before we get to the recipe –

WARNING: I don’t measure, and if I do it’s a flexible/best guess measurement. I’m not trying to make it difficult for you. If a recipe is so high-maintenance that it requires precise measurements, well then that recipe just isn’t for me (Unless it’s cookies. Or cake.).

Let’s get real – I’ve got kids. Kids try to help and bless their hearts – kids don’t measure accurately, and then they spill both inside the mixing bowl and out. If they aren’t helping, they’re distracting me and I lose track of how many scoops or cups or spoonfulls I’m counting anyway.  Oh, and I’m usually trying to get it done as efficiently as possible. It’s easier to just grab a handful of something or shake a spice right in than it is to find the measuring cups and spoons, wash them (because I found them in the bathtub or play kitchen), and then use them.

“One, two, three…yes you must wear clothes when our company comes over…wait, how many cups did I just put in? Meh, good enough.”

Sara’s Make Ahead Omelets (aka Quiche Cups, aka Breakfast of Champions)

Quick and Easy Quiche Cups for a healthy breakfast

YOU WILL NEED

6 eggs
6 egg whites 
cheese
red pepper, chopped
spinach (I used whole but next time I’ll shred it up first)
onion, chopped
turmeric+
coconut oil*+
chia seeds+

*I melt the coconut oil before adding it to the mixing bowl. I put coconut oil in a small oven-safe dish and place in oven while preheating. It melted by the time I was done chopping veggies.

+I add these ingredients to as many recipes as possible because they’re just so good for you. Serious. Google their benefits and you’ll be impressed.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk eggs and egg whites.

Whisk eggs: Quiche Cups Breakfast Recipe

Mix in remaining ingredients.

Quick and Easy Quiche Cups Breakfast Recipe

Spray or grease muffin pan (I use coconut oil to grease pan) and pour mixture into muffin pan.

Quick and Easy Quiche Cups ready to bake

Bake 20-22 minutes then let cool on rack.

Fresh baked quiche cups for a quick and easy breakfast

Store in fridge, and microwave 15 seconds to reheat.

I’ve been eating these throughout the week, and I find myself looking forward to them when I wake up in the mornings. They taste good and they make me feel good, too.

Make good choices. Fight for your sanity. Eat breakfast.

Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.”  -Dallin H. Oaks

What’s your favorite healthy breakfast? Do you ever prepare breakfast ahead of time?

Pear Quinoa Breakfast Salad

During the day I’m sold on the importance of a good breakfast to help with health, energy, and weight loss. But come early morning – I’m tired, hungry, and desperate for something quick to eat. Speed wins over quality every morning. Every night I think tomorrow I’ll eat something better and every morning I feel I only have time for cereal, a (sugary) muffin, or maybe just a coffee.

Well I’m no longer a victim of myself. I’ve been on a hunt for quick and easy breakfast ideas, and I’m specifically looking for things that can be made in bulk ahead of time (in the evening when I’m motivated) so that in the morning I can grab-and-go.

Tonight I’m setting myself up for a healthier tomorrow. I made a batch of Pear Quinoa Breakfast Salad. It will sit in the fridge and provide breakfast for the week. No excuses. All I have to do is dish up and eat my healthy, protein-packed (did you know quinoa is full of complete proteins?) breakfast.

The basic Pear Quinoa Breakfast Salad is good alone, and even better topped with plain Greek yogurt and honey. If you’re feeling really fancy, slice up banana or top with fresh or frozen berries.

This recipe is gluten-free, and fits well into any clean-eating plan. The quinoa, Greek yogurt, and chia seeds (I sneak chia seeds into everything) have lots of protein; the fruit, honey, and coconut oil will give you a kick of energy to get your day going.

So let’s get to it! Here’s the recipe for your new favorite gluten-free quick and easy high-protein energy boosting breakfast.

Sara’s Pear Quinoa Breakfast Salad

You will need
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
1 pear
Cinnamon

*Optional: chia seeds, coconut oil, Greek yogurt, honey, banana, fresh or frozen berries

*Variation: try replacing the pear with an apple

just a few ingredients needed, and most are staples in my kitchen

just a few ingredients needed, most are staples in my kitchen

How to make your new favorite breakfast

Add coconut oil to quinoa while cooking. I didn’t measure, I just added a big, rounded spoonful.

cooking quinoa with coconut oil and chia seeds

cooking quinoa with coconut oil and chia seeds

Dice pear into bite size pieces. I washed mine well and left the skin on.

Mix quinoa, pears, cinnamon, and chia seeds. I didn’t measure the cinnamon either, I just dumped some in. And when I thought I had enough, I added a little bit more.

ready to be chilled

ready to be chilled

Store in the fridge in your favorite Tupperware.

To serve

quick and easy (and healthy!) breakfast

quick and easy (and healthy!) breakfast

Dish up the chilled breakfast salad, top with Greek yogurt, and drizzle honey on top.

pear quinoa breakfast salad with Greek yogurt and honey

pear quinoa breakfast salad with Greek yogurt and honey

Enjoy!

 

Want another easy breakfast idea? Give quiche a chance.

Quick and Easy Quiche Cups for a healthy breakfast

Need quinoa? Buy some here.  

Stovetop Popcorn (and m&ms)

Tonight we made stovetop popcorn and it was surprisingly easy. I love freshly popped popcorn, and it’s a healthy snack (well, until I add the m&ms). I’ve tried the homemade microwave popcorn (put kernels in a paper bag, fold the top down, and microwave). It tastes good and it’s better for you than prepackaged microwave popcorn. But it just doesn’t compare to stovetop popcorn.

I had a movie date planned with Capri, my 4-year old. We went out today and bought popcorn kernels and a bag of m&ms (if you’ve never tried popcorn and m&ms, you must). After baby William went to bed, we got our movie ready (Monsters University) and made possibly the most delicious popcorn ever. It was a fun experience, too.

Her eyes filled with delight as she watched it pop on the stove – it was a simple pleasure and sweet moment.

How to make stovetop popcorn and m&ms

You will need

3 tbsp oil

1/2 cup kernels

m&ms (optional)

popcorn starting to pop on the stove

popcorn starting to pop on the stove

Directions

  • Add oil and kernels to a deep pan and cover with a lid.
  • Turn heat on medium-high.
  • Watch the popcorn pop before your eyes.
  • Remove from heat when popping slows (it only takes a few minutes).
  • Transfer popcorn to bowl and add m&ms.
stovetop popcorn and m&ms

stovetop popcorn and m&ms – a sweet treat for movie time

I’m a big fan of coconut oil and that’s what I used for this recipe. It gives the slightest hint of flavor to the popcorn, makes it taste delicious, and it’s healthy.

I hope you try stovetop popcorn at least once. It’s a fun experience (I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, me or my child) and once you try it, you’ll be hooked.

from stove to bowl only took a few minutes

from stove to bowl only took a few minutes