Homeschool Room Ideas- Free Label Printables!

Virtual learning in the Spring was haphazardly thrown together. As I’m sure many of you can relate. Our organization consisted of a bench in our living room, and a couple of storage boxes. That small space was supposed to hold us over, but did not suffice as a longterm solution. Going into this school year, we are going in person for half the day and virtual learning in the afternoon. But I am also prepared to be fully virtual at some point throughout the year. In preparation, we converted a play/craft room into a more learning friendly space.  This is our homeschool room tour, hope it gives you some homeschool room ideas to transform your space! homeschool room large view

Related Posts: Homeschool Schedule and Resources and Preschool Learning Activities

Printable Labels are in the Resource Library! Subscribe to our newsletter to get access if you haven’t already. 

Before

First off, this was a project done on a budget.  We did not want to buy brand new furniture or spend tons of money on anything.  Thankfully, we felt like we had a good base of furniture and items.  Ideally a couch and tv are not great for a learning environment, but the tv can be closed off with the closet doors and the couch was transformed into a cozy reading area.  Individual desks may also be a good investment. Decide what works best for your family and your space!

Before Pictures. EEK!

These pictures were taken after I already started transforming the space.  It’s not always this messy! But it gets close. ūüôā The couch was moved from the wall across the tv, to the back wall with the window.  The wall opposite the couch had the kids’ artwork hung along the entire wall.  It was fun for a while but it often got overwhelming and crowded.  

We also had other toys in here that got moved down to the basement playroom. Toys that were left I categorize as more educational play like LEGOS, Magnatiles, and K’nex building sticks.  Also calm activities that work best on a table like coloring books, sticker play, paper to draw and puzzles.  

Related Post: Actually Conquer Clutter with Living Room Toy Organization

Reading Corner and Bookcase

homeschool room entrance view

The view as you walk into the room. First up is the reading corner and bookcase.

homeschool reading corner couch

Direct Item Links: (Couch was from Macy’s two years ago, no link but it’s a great color and fabric for a kids space!)

This post contains affiliate links, please refer to the disclosure policy for more information. 

My first find were these amazing vintage educational posters on Retro Planet.  They are also on Amazon, sold already with the hanging system.   

Lighting adds so many dimensions to a space, so some kind of lamp or accent lighting is always a nice touch to a homeschool room. We’ve done a small canopy reading corner in the boys’ room and we already had some string lights that made a perfect addition to the reading corner of this space.  If I were to buy lights, I’d get LED ones that conserve more energy. 

homeschool room bookcase

Bookcase has educational and current reference books. My two oldest boys are in a Montessori school, so I have a lot of Montessori elements. You can easily replace those with whatever materials you are using!

My youngest boy Rhys is 18 months old so everything low to the ground has to be for him. Rhys loves this Grimm’s rainbow and it’s a perfect spot on the bottom shelf. The abacus can be used by the older boys but Rhys can’t mess it up, lol, so it goes on the bottom also. 

The toolbox on the second shelf from the bottom was part of a woodworking kit (from Lakeshore Learning) that the boys worked on this summer. It holds random extra supplies. Next to it is a craft bead box that holds a Montessori movable alphabet.

Lastly there are the books and Montessori bead cases on the top shelf with a plant in a rope basket. 

Main Wall and Table

elearning center homeschool supplies

Final, final look. I took some pictures before it was totally completed because I got impatient with shipping times. ūüôā So you’ll notice some extra space in a few of the pics below.

Direct Item Links:

homeschool center view from couch

Underneath the pottery barn table and chairs are two bouncy ball chairs. If you have fidgety children at all, these are a great sitting alternative! 

homeschool room main wall

The main wall of the room has supplies, a calendar morning station and a few posters. The two posters on the side of this wall are also Retro Planet.  Here they are on Amazon also. In the middle we added a Smithsonian Dinosaur poster because my kids love all things dinosaur.  Perfect decor inspiration is any subject or topic that interests or inspires your children.

Calendar Morning Station

homeschool morning station

I’m obsessed with this weather perpetual calendar! It was a splurge, I’ll put that disclaimer in. But it’s been a fun and beautiful learning tool. To offset that, I got the calendar and weekly calendar dry erase board at Home Goods for cheap. (Linked to similar options). Etsy also has a wooden calendar that I thought was soo beautiful!

Supplies Corner

homeschool room supplies organized

Direct Item Links: Free printable labels in the resource library! Subscribe to gain access if you haven’t already.

Homeschool room organization is essential. There are tons of supplies needed on a daily basis. Most supplies that my boys need live in this corner.  I gave each of my school aged sons their own drawers to put whatever they are currently working on. Each have a couple workbooks, and Miles’ drawer has his writing journal. 

The other drawers have blank paper (including watercolor paper), coloring books, sticker play and other supplies like tracing sheets and map work. The white hanging containers have markers, colored pencils, post-it notes, clothespins, scissors, pencil sharpeners and popsicle sticks (we use them a lot for math work).

homeschool supplies details

The two shelves above have regular paint, watercolor paint, pencils, paintbrushes and dot markers. The black basket on the floor to the right has work rugs (Montessori inspired) and large rolls of paper. We did tons of work on this paper last Spring and the boys love it. 

In the corner, there are two tubs- one with duplo legos and the other with wooden train tracks. The wire used to hang along this entire wall, but I shortened it to the corner so we can still display their work- just in a smaller space. 

Closet Storage

homeschool closet storage

The art above the closet was made from the canvas the boys and their friends made at Ellis 3rd birthday. I just cut out 3 pieces and used them as a frame mat for the photos.

In the closet is the tv and extra games, books and storage. The boxes on the very top shelf are labeled so we know exactly what’s in them, but they don’t crowd the lower shelves. I don’t want the boys to have access to too much stuff. With the shelves up high, we can rotate down different puzzles and games. 
storage containers labels

Closer look at shelves. Have the same labels as the drawers. A little hard to see in the photo because they are clear boxes and the labels are black. Definitely pop more on the drawers but I’m still loving them!

homeschool room large viewLet me know in the comments if you have questions on anything I didn’t mention in the homeschool room tour. Sending you lots of good thoughts for an amazing school year!

Subscribe below to get access to the free printable labels! You will need to buy sticker paper to print them on. I used Avery 4397- full sheet sticker paper. After you print them out, you cut them individually. Full instructions are in the printable packet! 

homeschool room free printable labels

Free Printable Chore List by Age- From Toddlers to Teens!

What are some ways you teach your kids responsibility? Or ownership of their home? My husband and I were discussing this the other day. We want to make sure our kids contribute to the household, well because it is their home also.¬† They have pretty great lives and we don’t want them to take that for granted.¬† In thinking this through, we wondered what exactly are the age appropriate chores they can do. It’s hard to always remember what those are, which is where this chore list by age comes in hand.¬†¬†

It’s not about having them help us- because it’s actually not easier to have kids help. Sometimes the 2 year old feeds the dog and spills dog food over the floor or they don’t accomplish something exactly the way you would. The purpose is that we want our kids to be well rounded and be able to take care of themselves when they leave our home.¬†

It seems like that is left out a lot. Kids do homework, play and tons of activities, but adding in contributions to their home is just as beneficial.  It adds to their development and character- like strong work ethic, confidence, accountability, community and a sense of pride. It can be anywhere from 2-5 different things they do a day, 10 minutes to an hour depending on your home and age of your kids. 

Related: End the Power Struggle with this Easy Daily Routine Chart & Master Back to School with Routine Checklists 

Our boys already show pride and accomplishment when they help. Miles is 4 years old and his main chores since he was 3 have been setting the table, cleaning his place at the table, feeding the dog and cleaning up his toys. Our 2 year old Ellis now helps by taking over feeding the dog and always clearing his plate from the table as well (his balance isn’t great so if there is food left, Miles helps him).

Ellis always announces to us- jumping up and down-when he’s put the dog’s bowl down with food. Like we weren’t there and told him it was time to feed her. He just gets so excited and wants to make sure we know that he contributed.

Are there days that are battles? Of course. I just remind them that every member of the house contributes in some way. I cook dinner, your dad cleans up the dishes after, you (Miles) set the table and Ellis feeds the dog, etc. If the table isn’t set, nobody can eat etc.¬† They start to see how everything works together.

Maybe in the future they will get some compensation or reward for complex chores but we hope that starting early gets them accustomed to having chores as part of their everyday life.

Now this list is extensive. The goal was to put everything a child is capable of doing based on their age. From there, you decide what you want to integrate into your family. It doesn’t have to be every single thing listed in the age range, by no means.¬†

You can download the free printable by signing up for a weekly newsletter at the end of the post! Great resource as your kids grow up and your household changes. 

Chore list with age appropriate tasks helps kids build work ethic, confidence and a sense of pride. Free Printable to use as a resource and inspiration!

Toddler Chore List (Ages 2-3)

  • Pick up toys and clothes¬†
  • Put dirty clothes in hamper
  • Set the Table (with help)
  • Feed pets and refill water
  • Clean up place at the table after meals
  • Brush teeth & helps get himself dressed
  • Clean up spills and messes
  • Wipe down tables, chairs and stools
  • Make beds (with help)

Preschool Chore List (Ages 4-5)

  • Helps¬†fold¬†towels¬†and¬†wash¬†clothes
  • Water¬†plants
  • Chooses¬†clothes¬†&¬†gets¬†dressed
  • Prepare¬†snacks¬†and¬†simple¬†meals
  • Unloads¬†from¬†dishwasher
  • Help¬†with¬†laundry-¬†loading¬†&¬†sorting¬†clothes
  • Makes¬†bed¬†with¬†minimal¬†help
  • Sets¬†table¬†independently
  • Assists¬†with¬†putting¬†away¬†groceries

Early Elementary Chore List (Ages 6-8)

  • Dust¬†&¬†vacuum
  • Put¬†away¬†clothes¬†
  • Help¬†rake¬†leaves
  • Load¬†&¬†unload¬†dishwasher
  • Prepares¬†&¬†packs¬†lunch¬†for¬†school
  • Get¬†himself¬†up,¬†dressed¬†and¬†brushed¬†for¬†school
  • Puts¬†groceries¬†away
  • Transfers¬†clothes¬†from¬†washer¬†to¬†dryer
  • Empty¬†trashcans

Older Elementary Chores (Ages 9-11)

  • Folds¬†own¬†laundry¬†&¬†puts¬†away¬†(with¬†help)
  • Washes¬†dishes
  • Personal¬†hygiene¬†
  • Helps¬†younger¬†siblings¬†get¬†ready¬†&¬†do¬†homework
  • Bathes¬†and¬†cares¬†for¬†pets
  • Sets¬†alarm¬†clock¬†&¬†other¬†bedtime¬†activities
  • Cleans¬†up¬†room¬†independently
  • Prepares¬†easy¬†meals
  • Household¬†maintenance-¬†change¬†lightbulbs¬†etc.

Middle Schooler Chores (Ages 12-14)

  • More¬†detailed¬†household¬†cleaning-¬†refrigerator,¬†etc.
  • Clean¬†shower¬†&¬†tub
  • Babysit¬†siblings¬†for¬†short¬†periods¬†(with¬†adults¬†nearby)
  • Wash¬†windows
  • Help¬†with¬†deep¬†cleaning
  • Prepare¬†occasional¬†family¬†meal
  • Mows¬†lawn-¬†with¬†assistance
  • Help¬†wash¬†car

Teen Chore List (Ages 15+)

  • Babysit¬†siblings¬†for¬†longer¬†periods
  • Family¬†errands
  • Earn¬†money¬†and¬†manage¬†personal¬†finances
  • Purchase¬†own¬†clothes¬†or¬†other¬†wants
  • Prepare¬†family¬†meals
  • Deep¬†cleaning
  • Helps¬†with¬†family¬†budgets-¬†learn¬†about¬†how¬†to¬†create¬†one¬†for¬†themselves

Please share any other great ideas you use for chores below! I already see my boys pride and ownership of their space increase with their contribution to our home. But I also know they are young and different hurdles are bound to be in our future. Tis Life. ūüôā

Master Back to School with Routine Checklists & 5 Simple Hacks

It’s back to school season, as I’m sure you are aware! Many of you have already been back for a few weeks. We started this past week- a couple days after labor day.  This time of year can sometimes feel like a second New Year. Pushing a reset button on a lot of things and looking for ways to reorganize our lives. It’s a good time to re-establish routines or make new ones so the days and weeks go smoother for everyone in the family. Utilizing routine checklists and making a few easy systems can make a huge difference!

There are sooo many things to organize and keep track of when it comes to school. The paperwork and artwork that comes home, school lunches, healthy fast breakfast, and keeping track of everyone’s schedules. Most importantly, making sure your kids remember to do all the things like brushing their teeth and doing homework.

In our home, we are working with preschool, but many of these tips can be applied to daycare schedules and getting your 2 year old involved in routines and daily responsibilities. As well as older kids of course.

Routines & Independence

My first goal is to make sure I’m not holding up absolutely everything in the house.  I want my kids to have a sense of what is required of them and not have to remind them fifty billion times.  It’s always a work in progress, but trust me- I kept at it with my 3 year old.  He just turned 4 and he HAPPILY sets the table and feeds our dog Nahla.  Many times it was a battle, but over time he just became to accept it as his contribution to the household. His feisty 2 year old brother looks up to him and is getting on board with the chores as well.

This holds true for brushing teeth and getting himself dressed in the morning.  I personally have to let go a little bit of control because since I’ve pushed this independence, he also wants to pick out his clothes. And man! He picks out the craziest combinations!  But hey- at least he does it himself while I dress myself or his brother.

We’ve undertaken this by printing out daily routine chore charts, but I’ve realized that it can take a lot to actually print, cut out, and make the system.  Having a way for kids to hold themselves accountable can all be accomplished just as easily with a few checklists! So of course, I made some. ūüôā If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you may already realize that I’m not a stranger to checklists and they really do help!

Checklists

back to school organization, routine checklists, morning checklists for kids, homework stations, command centers, evening checklists, homework caddy, lunch organizer, weekly clothes organizerThere are 3 total and you can set them up wherever makes the most sense for your household.  Print on 8×10 cardstock first.  Then, laminate them or just pop em in an 8×10 frame, your son or daughter can use a dry erase marker to check off items as they are finished. They will wipe off easily on either surface for use the next day.

I used pictures because I start using these at age 2 or 3 when reading isn’t mastered yet. The photos help guide them along their checklist.

We have found that cleaning up, feeding pets and setting the table are great chores for toddlers and preschoolers.  If my son said he didn’t feel like doing it, we just remind him that we all do our part to contribute to the household. Even if I don’t feel like cooking everyone dinner, I still do it because the family is counting on me to do my part.

5 Simple Organization Hacks

back to school organization, routine checklists, morning checklists for kids, homework stations, command centers, evening checklists, homework caddy, lunch organizer, weekly clothes organizerA family command center! I love these and we have a very small version because I couldn’t find a wall area suitable.  Essentially it can organize all the paperwork, to do lists, calendar and events for everyone in the family. I love this post about how to create a command center and all the essential elements to include.

back to school organization, routine checklists, morning checklists for kids, homework stations, command centers, evening checklists, homework caddy, lunch organizer, weekly clothes organizerUsing a hanging closet organizer to plan out the week’s outfits is genius! It adds to less nightly and morning chores if it is laid out each Sunday.

back to school organization, routine checklists, morning checklists for kids, homework stations, command centers, evening checklists, homework caddy, lunch organizer, weekly clothes organizerTalking about planning for the week, having a lunch organizer in your fridge can take a lot of the stress out of packing lunches.  If there are choices, your child can take an active role picking out what they want to include each day. Also, these are some of my favorite lunch ideas – all in fun bento boxes. 

Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.I don’t know about you, but I try to have as much planned for the mornings as possible.  I’m just not a huge morning person and planning ahead helps A LOT. Which is why I love doing this breakfast meal prep, where we make a bunch of oatmeal muffins and egg muffins that are all ready for us to heat up and eat in the morning.

back to school organization, routine checklists, morning checklists for kids, homework stations, command centers, evening checklists, homework caddy, lunch organizer, weekly clothes organizer back to school organization, routine checklists, morning checklists for kids, homework stations, command centers, evening checklists, homework caddy, lunch organizer, weekly clothes organizerFinally, we don’t have homework yet at our house.  But I love these ideas of a DIY homework caddy and a dedicated homework station.  Even as an adult, I need a dedicated workspace that is different than I do other things in the house.  So a homework area can get your child more focused on what they are trying to accomplish. Especially if all the supplies they need are also integrated into the space.

And that’s it! Hope you have an amazing school year that is a little less stressful and more enjoyable. ūüôā

Party Planning with a Kids’ Birthday Checklist!

I’ve wanted to share these planning checklists with you all for some time! Now that we just wrapped up another birthday party, it was all fresh on the brain again, so a perfect time to write it out. Having a birthday checklist going into your party planning process is really really helpful. Just like any to do lists and writing things down. It’ll ease some of the stress and organize all the little details that could be forgotten.

Budget

First things first, decide on your budget. That will be your guiding light through this process. You don’t want to spend more and make the party a lingering stresser for your family. The budget will help guid your location, entertainment, number of guests, menu and overall decor.

Don’ forget the purpose of birthday parties. They are for celebrating life, enjoying time with family and friends and creating memories. For me, I like doing birthdays from year 1 but you may decide to start them when your child will remember- around 3 or 4.

Soapbox: please please don’t do anything you don’t want to. Seriously. Pinterest can be fun to look for inspiration and ideas, but it doesn’t have to be the standard you hold yourself to if that’s not your thing. If you want something small, but your mother in law wants a huge party at a fancy place ask her to help with the budget and planning. ūüôā That is just an example- no offense to mother in laws, I happen to have a great one.

It just seems like moms are feeling more and more pressured these days to do more, and at the end of the day you should decide what makes you and your family happy- nothing more.

Themes

Anywho, enough about that…moving on to more planning! After your budget and decide on some specific details, pick out a theme. If your child is old enough, ask for their input. If they aren’t, take cues from what they are interested in or their personality. These were a few of our themes you can use for inspiration or ideas.

My oldest son Miles loves music so his first AND 3rd birthday were music/rockstar themed. His first was so tiny that it was fitting to redo his theme again.

My youngest son Ellis was already proving to be our wild child so a Wild Things birthday was very fitting. This was also an example of going too far on Pinterest. I absolutely loved all the projects I made, but I felt stressed in the morning because I had put too much time into wooden signs and not enough on actually cooking food. Lol.

Both my sons were crazy into playing ball going into their 2nd birthdays so I did a ball theme for both! Redoing a theme was amazing- reusing things and already having a plan made the second ball themed party a breeze.

Planning

Download this party planning guide to help with your next birthday celebration. Includes a checklist to follow, a brainstorming page and a shopping list to organize your purchases. Hope your next birthday party is fun and as stress free as possible!

Kids' birthday party planning guide with a birthday checklist a brainstorming page and an organized shopping list. birthday party checklist, birthday party list, party planning ideas

 

Kids' birthday party planning guide with a birthday checklist a brainstorming page and an organized shopping list. birthday party checklist, birthday party list, party planning ideas

Last Day of School Signs- Including Montessori. Free Printables!

To continue the tradition of taking first and last day of school pictures, the last day signs are here for you to download!  I can’t believe another year has passed, alas here we are. This was my son’s first year of school and he has grown so much- his independence and confidence are out of this world.  It’s been amazing to see.  For anyone that used the first day of school signs, I wanted to post last day signs to take another picture on the last day of school!

*Files have been updated for the 2018-2019 school year!

Even if you didn’t take first day pictures, you can still do the last day to start this fun tradition. My son is not finishing until June 8th so we only have some practice shots for you to see the signs. Since many schools end in May I wanted to get these out now!

Just like the first day signs, there are two versions depending if you want color or black and white!  They are sized to print on 8.5 x 11 paper.  Cardstock would be the best paper to print on but you can do regular printer paper, just make sure you let it dry.  It will not be as easy to hold up alone, but you can put it in a frame or mount it to something sturdier.

Download Your Free Last Day of School Sign Printables!

Use these to capture your kids' fun milestones!

Subscribe (free!) to my newsletter with 8000+ moms and get tips for mom life, projects, and meal preps PLUS get instant access to my resource library with ALL of my other free files and printables (including these signs)! Once subscribed, I will send you a newsletter with all the details.

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Free Printables of last day of school signs! Grab them today to take the cutest pictures of your little ones' milestones. Available in color or black and white, from Preschool to 8th grade. And Montessori! Perfect way to capture changes in growth and confidence.

Free Printables of last day of school signs! Grab them today to take the cutest pictures of your little ones' milestones. Available in color or black and white, from Preschool to 8th grade. And Montessori! Perfect way to capture changes in growth and confidence.

Miles is at a Montessori school and I wanted to do these at the beginning of the year.  Since Montessori doesn’t have grades like a traditional school, I couldn’t get around how wordy they are.  After a year I’ve learned if you are a true Montessorian you’ll know exactly what this means and may want that language for your child’s signs.Free Printables of last day of school signs! Grab them today to take the cutest pictures of your little ones' milestones. Available in color or black and white, from Preschool to 8th grade. And Montessori! Perfect way to capture changes in growth and confidence.

It was a lot of fun to print on cardstock and glue it to a large popsicle stick.  My son was holding it in the air and playing with it so it’s safe to say he had a blast with it as well.    This was our “practice day” because I had made them early and wanted to show you guys what they look like.Free Printable First Day of School Signs to use as photo props. Two versions on chalkboard with and without color. Great idea to take the cutest pictures!

Free Printable First Day of School Signs to use as photo props. Two versions on chalkboard with and without color. Great idea to take the cutest pictures!

This one was done AFTER the first day was over.  There were a lot of emotions in the morning and he wanted no part of picture taking.  So we improvised…still the first day. ūüôāFree Printables of last day of school signs! Grab them today to take the cutest pictures of your little ones' milestones. Available in color or black and white, from Preschool to 8th grade. And Montessori! Perfect way to capture changes in growth and confidence.

And this is our LAST day practice! Look at how big and grown up he is!  We just have two more weeks til his official last day. He’s perfected how to make his smile look more natural instead of scrunching his nose. Lol. Even though I did find the nose scrunch super adorable. ūüôā

Free Printables of last day of school signs! Grab them today to take the cutest pictures of your little ones' milestones. Available in color or black and white, from Preschool to 8th grade. And Montessori! Perfect way to capture changes in growth and confidence.

Free Printables of last day of school signs! Grab them today to take the cutest pictures of your little ones' milestones. Available in color or black and white, from Preschool to 8th grade. And Montessori! Perfect way to capture changes in growth and confidence.

Hope you have had a great school year! Check out this summer bucket list to start planning your summer.

End the Power Struggle with this Easy Daily Routine Chart

If you find yourself repeating instructions over and over to your toddler or engrossed in power struggles with them- than this daily routine chart is for you! I work on our routine all the time. As babies, I had them on schedules and it worked great.End power struggles, stop repeating yourself and ease your worries about nagging with this super easy to follow daily routine chart. Teaches positive independence with this visual and interactive tool for completing routines in the morning, during meal time and before bed.

I’m sure you can guess- things change when we hit the 2 year old mark. Toddlers have lots and lots of opinions and emotions they love to express. So while our overall schedule was working well, and we had some positive discipline systems. there were some things that could turn into a battle pretty easily.  All depended on Miles’ (my 3 year old) mood or tiredness level… or if he just felt like it.

Oh man, the mornings! His speed and focus in the morning could easily drive a person to insanity. I really didn’t know it was humanly possible to go that slowly- he would stop and look at an “interesting” spot on the wall for 5 minutes, saying what he thought it looked like instead of putting on his shoes.  This is all typical toddler behavior, but adding a fun new system really helped out. Enter the daily routine charts.

NEW Routine charts have been added to the Urban Mom Tales Shop. Includes 56 cards of different routines, activities and chores to make your own customizable schedule! 

End power struggles, stop repeating yourself and ease your worries about nagging with this super easy to follow daily routine chart. Teaches positive independence with this visual and interactive tool for completing routines in the morning, during meal time and before bed.

OMG. It’s been a few weeks and they’ve been amazing.

For example, one of our struggles has been Miles putting his plate from dinner in the sink. Sometimes he feels like it and other times he doesn’t.

The other day he left dinner and my husband and I were talking about something.  He had was done eating and we’d sat together for a while so it was fine for him to get up from that stand point.  As Miles settles in with a toy, Jordan says to him- Miles get back here and clean up your plate.

The horror! He throws himself on the floor in his usual tantrum mode. No! I don’t want to!

End power struggles, stop repeating yourself and ease your worries about nagging with this super easy to follow daily routine chart. Teaches positive independence with this visual and interactive tool for completing routines in the morning, during meal time and before bed.

Meal Time: Put away toys, feed pets (our dog Nahla), wash hands, set table, eat, take plate to the sink)

As you see, putting his plate in the sink is part of his daily routine chart for meal times So I ask him “Did you finish all your cards over here?”. He walked over and it was the very last one. “No, there’s one more.” And looks up at me with this “I know what you’re doing here” look. Haha. Sorry kid- I’ve been at this longer than you.

And it worked! He said “I need to put my plate in the sink and then I can move the last card.” He did it right way.  There is a definite sense of pride when he finishes a set and we make a big deal about it also.

We’ve also been able to add chores that he wasn’t doing consistently before like feeding the dog and setting the table.

There are many ways to go about this! I’ll describe how we set it up and then list another resource at the end to explore other options.

Daily Routine Charts in Action

End power struggles, stop repeating yourself and ease your worries about nagging with this super easy to follow daily routine chart. Teaches positive independence with this visual and interactive tool for completing routines in the morning, during meal time and before bed. *NEW Routine charts have been added to the Urban Mom Tales Shop. Includes 56 cards of different routines, activities and chores to make your own customizable schedule. 

Next was making the charts- the main parts of the day that needed more structure  are morning, bedtime and dinner time. Initially I wanted to do ALL the cards, but they made really long lists and I didn’t want to overwhelm.

At the end, I decided 6 was a good starting point and we could always expand later if necessary.

To assemble: I cut out the cards I needed- laminated them, bought a poster board and velcro dots. Then I arranged them in “To Do” and “Done” columns so he could move each activity after completion.

Starting Out

End power struggles, stop repeating yourself and ease your worries about nagging with this super easy to follow daily routine chart. Teaches positive independence with this visual and interactive tool for completing routines in the morning, during meal time and before bed. As you can imagine, they have to be taught how to use them so the first couple days are heavy on your end with teaching and coaching.

I set up the posters and told Miles that we would be starting to use these the next day. These are going to help you get ready for school and bedtime and you can do it all by yourself.

The next morning- let’s look at your chart.  You’ve already done the first one “Wake Up”. So take that card and move it to the “Done” column. And so forth.

End power struggles, stop repeating yourself and ease your worries about nagging with this super easy to follow daily routine chart. Teaches positive independence with this visual and interactive tool for completing routines in the morning, during meal time and before bed.

We went through a couple days of coaching and afterward he had it down pat.  Best part is that he loves it! Like truly- he asks if it’s time to do his cards and is excited. I think the velcro dots and actual activity of moving them does help.  He can really visualize himself going through the steps.

End power struggles, stop repeating yourself and ease your worries about nagging with this super easy to follow daily routine chart. Teaches positive independence with this visual and interactive tool for completing routines in the morning, during meal time and before bed.

There is still some room for improvement in the speed department for Miles :-), but he is so much more focused. And he rarely fights feeding the dog or setting the table now because he can visually see that it’s part of his duties everyday.End power struggles, stop repeating yourself and ease your worries about nagging with this super easy to follow daily routine chart. Teaches positive independence with this visual and interactive tool for completing routines in the morning, during meal time and before bed.

P.S. Baby brother Ellis wanted to make sure that you all knew he was here too. As I took pictures of Miles, he kept saying “cheese!”. End power struggles, stop repeating yourself and ease your worries about nagging with this super easy to follow daily routine chart. Teaches positive independence with this visual and interactive tool for completing routines in the morning, during meal time and before bed.

Weekly Cleaning Schedule Printable- FREE

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you may have picked up on a couple things.¬† Cleaning is my arch nemesis weakness and getting my kids on a schedule has been one of my strengths.¬† As the new year has settled in and spring cleaning is on the horizon, I decided it was time to really tackle my cleaning routines. It is definitely one of my goals this year and I haven’t made much stride yet in changing how I approach cleaning and organizing my house in general.

Usually, I prioritize ALL of my other responsibilities- which in my defense, there are many at times. But cleaning is still a responsibility so I’d find myself having to do 6 loads of laundry in one day or cleaning the whole house in one very long day.¬† This obviously is not working as I often find myself stressed or overwhelmed by the task.¬† So I thought- why not implement what has worked in many other areas of my life and create a cleaning schedule.

*To be honest, my very first thought was how can we incorporate a cleaning lady in the budget!!?? But that didn’t really work out so I went to plan B. ūüôā

At first I was going to find one online and print it- but none really fit exactly what I wanted. So I procrastinated on cleaning again by spending a few hours to make one myself.¬† And it’s available for you all to download for free! Win win.Get super organized with this pretty and easy to use cleaning schedule printable. It is a weekly cleaning schedule but also lists daily, biweekly and monthly tasks. Each weekday is assigned a room in your house to keep you focused and ease the overwhelm of maintaining a clean and beautiful home.

UPDATE: This is super important and I can’t believe I forgot to mention this before.¬† I do not do this completely by myself!¬† My husband handles all the dishes and folds lots of laundry as well as other things.¬† It’s a team effort and we made the system that worked best for us.

It is a basic checklist, but breaks everything up into very manageable chunks. Everyday has a list- make the bed, do dishes, one load of laundry, clean up toys etc. Then each day of the week has a specific room assigned, Monday is all about the kitchen and so forth. On the side, there is also a list of biweekly and monthly tasks to remember.

I printed mine on cardstock and laminated it and it’s hanging in my kitchen. This way you can use a dry erase marker and wipe away your checkmarks for a fresh start each week. Alternatively, you could also print a few copies at a time and use the checklist that way.

Get super organized with this pretty and easy to use cleaning schedule printable. It is a weekly cleaning schedule but also lists daily, biweekly and monthly tasks. Each weekday is assigned a room in your house to keep you focused and ease the overwhelm of maintaining a clean and beautiful home.

The download includes one filled in and another blank in case you want to write in your own tasks! Let me know if you have any questions on using the checklist or ideas to make it better.

Actually Conquer Clutter with Living Room Toy Organization

We’ve come to terms that our living room is also our playroom.¬† That when we have adults over, it is very likely they can trip over a toy truck.¬† Our friends understand the dangers also. This is the condo city life we are currently living, but there are ways to utilize the space in a better way!When you don't have a playroom, smart living room toy organization is key! Labels to put toys in categories and create clean up routines for your kids.

We had developed a little system that worked for a while- until it didn’t.¬† It worked for one baby, then one toddler and a baby and now that there are two toddlers and Christmas happened- oh man! The clutter and madness was taking over- so I made a plan to turn the living room toy organization into a better system.

They have a little craft corner and play table in my three year old’s room. Other than that, the majority of toys are right smack in the middle of the living room. No nook to the side or corner hidden away.¬† So I’ve always tried to create something that at least flowed well with the room.¬† But it was time for an update. This is what happened with my first system…When you don't have a playroom, smart living room toy organization is key! Labels to put toys in categories and create clean up routines for your kids.

When you don't have a playroom, smart living room toy organization is key! Labels to put toys in categories and create clean up routines for your kids.

Hmm, we had a little overflow problem.  This was soo not working anymore.

Even my labels needed an upgrade. More about those later…When you don't have a playroom, smart living room toy organization is key! Labels to put toys in categories and create clean up routines for your kids.

Get Rid of Toys!

First things first, going through toys and giving away what is not played with is a must for managing clutter.  As I reorganized and put things in piles- I also had a trash bag ready. Broken toys, used up coloring books, and toys with missing pieces.  All that goes!

Pick Out Furniture

Next step is deciding your furniture and storage system.¬† In our staircase were two bookcases filled with my husband and I’s books. We decided we could go through and reduce our book amount, then switch them out with the bookcase in the living room (I had transformed it into a super cute bar before kids- I’m still hopeful it’ll go back to that one day. This should explain the wine cork top and wine glass rack. ūüôā )

It was a win win since it made us purge books that we probably are never going to open again- like those 10 year old textbooks from college that we kept “just in case”. Does anyone open those again?? Maybe- I guess it depends on the field.¬† Anywho…When you don't have a playroom, smart living room toy organization is key! Labels to put toys in categories and create clean up routines for your kids.

When you don't have a playroom, smart living room toy organization is key! Labels to put toys in categories and create clean up routines for your kids.

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience, read our disclosure for more information.

Our bookcases came from different places since we both had one before we met- but they are practically identical!  There are a few places to find a unit like this: Ikea, Walmart, Amazon, Costco or Target.

Since we had those, I wanted to buy bins or crates that were “living room nice”- to keep some resemblance of an adult space. Which meant steering clear of the bright ones that screamed playroom.¬† I got mine at Target (on sale!)¬† These are similar ones: here and here.

Make Labels & Organize

When you don't have a playroom, smart living room toy organization is key! Labels to put toys in categories and create clean up routines for your kids.Finally, you want to assign a “home” to each of your toys. This makes play and clean up go a lot smoother. Something I had started before that really really helps with clutter is making labels, where similar toys were grouped together.¬† The pictures on the label help them put away toys on their own- probably can start at 18 months, but my oldest got really good with it after his 2nd birthday. A couple of things this avoids:

Your son (or daughter) dumping out every single bin to find one Thomas the train engine.

Your son stuffing one bin with every single toy when cleaning up- which leads to it breaking because it wasn’t meant to hold 1,000 toys.

Added benefits are your kids learn more about categories, which helps them make connections. Who knew cleaning up could also mean learning new things!

When you don't have a playroom, smart living room toy organization is key! Labels to put toys in categories and create clean up routines for your kids.What’s even better is when my three year old corrects someone when they put a toy in the wrong place- I guess there’s no question that he’s my son huh?

Side note: If you can, laminate the labels so your 18 month old doesn’t rip them off (this happened to me ūüôĀ ). I attached mine with zip ties I got at Home Depot.

When you don't have a playroom, smart living room toy organization is key! Labels to put toys in categories and create clean up routines for your kids.

!! Make sure you anchor your tall furniture! Our base boards kept the bookcases 2 inches away from the wall, so these straps were the best fit. They also have excellent reviews.

When you don't have a playroom, smart living room toy organization is key! Labels to put toys in categories and create clean up routines for your kids.

Beyond the Storage Unit

The space is still tight, so there are a few large items that had to be organized around the shelf. Riding toys are kept in the hall closet and other toys (if you can believe it, even more trucks)¬† in the bottom drawer of a large filing cabinet/storage furniture that is on the other side of our tv. We’ll rotate those toys in to keep the choices fresh.

I just ordered this puzzle rack that we’ll be adding soon to organize all the puzzles on the top shelf.

Overall, I’m happy with the transformation.¬† The toys aren’t completely hidden but we are past that point- everyone knows the kids run our lives, no point in trying to hide it!¬† But at least it’s not completely overwhelming- where toys are overflowing into the entire living room.

It can seem like a big project, but I promise it’ll feel amazing when you are done!

First Day of School Signs- Free Printables!

I can’t believe my oldest is about to start Preschool! ¬†I was thinking about everything we needed to do to get Miles ready for school. Getting his health form filled out by the doctor, copying his birth certificate and finding other supplies. Of course instead of working on any of those things, I settled on doing this fun DIY project. ¬†Just like when I make orange slime, instead of washing the dishes. ¬†I’m working on it (kind of), but at least you guys can benefit! First day of school signs (and last day) are so cute, and I want to make a tradition of taking first and last day of school pictures.¬†Free Printable First Day of School Signs to use as photo props. Two versions on chalkboard with and without color. Great idea to take the cutest pictures!

Naturally I had to make my own and wanted to share them with you as well!  Matching last day signs will be posted later on in the year.

There are two versions, depending if you want color or not!  They are sized to print on 8.5 x 11 cardstock.  You can do regular printer paper, just make sure you let it dry.  It will not be as easy to hold up alone, but you can put it in a frame or mount it to something sturdier. Free Printable First Day of School Signs to use as photo props. Two versions on chalkboard with and without color. Great idea to take the cutest pictures!

Free Printable First Day of School Signs to use as photo props. Two versions on chalkboard with and without color. Great idea to take the cutest pictures!

Access Your Free First Day of School Signs Printable!

Use these signs to create a fun new tradition!

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I printed mine on cardstock and glued it to a large popsicle stick. ¬†Worked great! ¬†My little guy doesn’t start until early September, but I somehow convinced him to take some pictures so I can show you all what they look like in action. Isn’t he adorable?! What’s up with this scrunched up smile face??¬†Free Printable First Day of School Signs to use as photo props. Two versions on chalkboard with and without color. Great idea to take the cutest pictures!

Free Printable First Day of School Signs to use as photo props. Two versions on chalkboard with and without color. Great idea to take the cutest pictures!

Free Printable First Day of School Signs to use as photo props. Two versions on chalkboard with and without color. Great idea to take the cutest pictures!

Hope you have a great start to the school year!

6 of the Best DIY Projects for a Wild Things Party

I scoured the internet high and low for our son Ellis’ Wild Things first birthday party.  We decided it needed to be under a certain budget, so I knew making some DIY projects would be a must to get the look I wanted but stay in budget.  At the same time, I’m not really a sewer or artist that can draw freehand so I needed projects that were simple enough- like mostly gluing, printing, and tracing.  After my research, I found some great and easy DIY projects for a Wild Things Party.  What makes these the 6 best projects is they can be as simple or as detailed as you want to make them, and look just like stuff you can buy on Etsy.  They also came from sites with detailed instructions that were easy to follow. 6 of the best and easiest DIY projects for a Wild Things Party. No sewing or artistic skills needed, & budget friendly! Perfect for a first birthday party! Includes a set of 6 wild things party printables to make your own signs and posters easily.This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you!

The Crown

6 of the best and easiest DIY projects for a Wild Things Party. No sewing or artistic skills needed, & budget friendly! Perfect for a first birthday party! Includes a set of 6 wild things party printables to make your own signs and posters easily.

6 of the best and easiest DIY projects for a Wild Things Party. No sewing or artistic skills needed, & budget friendly! Perfect for a first birthday party! Includes a set of 6 wild things party printables to make your own signs and posters easily.I decided to tackle the projects in order of how much I wanted it done.  You never know what life will throw at you or if something takes longer than anticipated.  Making a crown for the birthday boy was my first big goal.  I thought it created such a cute look to distinguish him from the other kids and make him be the true king of the wild things.

There are a few tutorials out there, but I found a great one that was no sew which was essential for me!  Now, I did do some hand stitches at the top, but that is because I didn’t get double sided heat and bond. :-/ Make sure you do!  This tutorial includes a template and took about an hour.  AND the birthday boy wore it the whole time!  The fact that it was soft and had a good fit made him forget he had anything up there.

What you Need:

  • Felt- 4 pieces
  • Heat and Bond
  • Elastic
  • Glue gun
  • Template printed from original site

Masks

6 of the best and easiest DIY projects for a Wild Things Party. No sewing or artistic skills needed, & budget friendly! Perfect for a first birthday party! Includes a set of 6 wild things party printables to make your own signs and posters easily.

A wild things birthday party is a cute and fun theme to have for a first birthday party, or any after! Ideas to make your party budget friendly AND amazing. Includes a set of 6 wild things party printables to make your own signs and posters easily.These were soo fun to have! ¬†This awesome¬†blogger already did most of the work! They enlarged the pictures to fill a page each. ¬†All you do is print them, cut out the faces and tape them onto large popsicle sticks. ¬†Instant entertainment! I really wanted to make sure that there were activities for the kids, and it was nice that there was something to play with that aligned with the theme. ¬†There was another post with a craft project but since the majority of our kid guests were under 3, these were perfect. ¬†If you’ll have older kids at the party, they’ll probably run around even more with them.

What you Need:

  • Print masks from original site
  • Card stock to print on
  • Glue
  • Large popsicle sticks

Wooden Signs

6 of the best and easiest DIY projects for a Wild Things Party. No sewing or artistic skills needed, & budget friendly! Perfect for a first birthday party! Includes a set of 6 wild things party printables to make your own signs and posters easily.

6 of the best and easiest DIY projects for a Wild Things Party. No sewing or artistic skills needed, & budget friendly! Perfect for a first birthday party! Includes a set of 6 wild things party printables to make your own signs and posters easily.I fell in love with the wooden signs I saw on Pinterest and Etsy.  They were essential for the wilderness feel of the party.  I thought there had to be a way to make these on a budget!  And there is!  

If you don’t have wood or don’t want to transfer it yourself onto wood, you can download my designs and print them in poster size at either Office Depot, Fedex Kinkos or Vistaprint. ¬†Just look around and see who has the best deal at the moment. ¬†

  1. Ways to get cheap wood: In addition to the art pieces, you can also get tree trunk pieces to use as serving trays (I borrowed some from a friend).  I found my wood in the free ads on craigslist. There was a guy donating a bunch of pieces sized perfectly for signs.  I had to wash and stain them, but they were free so it was worth it.  Other options are asking for leftover wood pieces at Home Depot.  Many times if people get wood cut in certain sizes, there may be some left over that they keep in a pile.  Or go to a nearby lumber yard.  
  2. Like I mentioned, I’m not an artist. Nor did I trust myself to draw letters that looked alike and were actually straight.  This explanation of transferring printed pieces was my life saver!  I designed the signs on the computer (attached in the freebies below!), then followed the instructions to transfer to wood.  Finally, I used a chalk marker to fill it in.  This is what I already had in house, but a paint marker would also be perfect.  You wouldn’t want to use a brush, unless you have an incredibly steady hand.

What you Need:

  • 1-2 Wood pieces that are poster size
  • Wood stain (optional)
  • Printer
  • Scissors
  • Pencil and Pen
  • Paint or Chalk marker

Birthday Banner

6 of the best and easiest DIY projects for a Wild Things Party. No sewing or artistic skills needed, & budget friendly! Perfect for a first birthday party! Includes a set of 6 wild things party printables to make your own signs and posters easily.

A wild things birthday party is a cute and fun theme to have for a first birthday party, or any after! Ideas to make your party budget friendly AND amazing. Includes a set of 6 wild things party printables to make your own signs and posters easily.

After I learned how to trace and transfer printed letters, I felt inspired to create my own ‚ÄúHappy Birthday‚ÄĚ banner and “One” banner for the high chair. ¬†I used the same steps I used for the wooden signs and similar fonts so it would match (also included in printable download!). ¬†The only difference is that I filled them in with black sharpie and outlined with a gold marker. ¬† Triangle paper came in a pack of 24 at Michael‚Äôs, and it was super cheap with a 40% coupon. ¬†I‚Äôm sure they have them at Hobby Lobby or other craft stores. ¬†They had lots of different colors and designs.¬†

What you Need:

  • Banner Triangles (or whichever shape you want)
  • Twine or string (if not included with your banner paper)
  • Pencil and pen
  • Sharpie or Marker to fill in letters

TeePee

6 of the best and easiest DIY projects for a Wild Things Party. No sewing or artistic skills needed, & budget friendly! Perfect for a first birthday party! Includes a set of 6 wild things party printables to make your own signs and posters easily.

A wild things birthday party is a cute and fun theme to have for a first birthday party, or any after! Ideas to make your party budget friendly AND amazing. Includes a set of 6 wild things party printables to make your own signs and posters easily.Okay, so our teepee struggled in the looks department. ¬†We tied it a little too low, and by we I mean my husband after I left to go do other things. ¬†Lol. ¬†He thought it was sturdier that way, we had a super windy morning so it was kind of rough putting it up under those conditions. ¬†There was also a lot going on, as I waited until the morning of to put together. ¬†Definitely should have done it sooner! ¬†The tutorials are great,¬†but my execution needed some work. ¬†ūüôā This one is no drill needed and this one drills holes in the sticks to anchor more. ¬†

Kids were definitely crawling in there and having fun. I vowed to be completely honest with you guys at all time. ¬†No kids were hurt, but it totally blew over on little Marty. ¬†I told you my execution needed work. ¬†Thankfully his mom is one of my best friends and didn’t sue me. ¬†He also is one of the widest of them all so he wasn’t phased one bit. ¬†LOL. ¬†Overall, it was a perfect addition to the theme. ¬†We had the Wild Things book in the teepee and one little girl had her dad read it to her several times. It would be a nice touch to have several books, flashlights or other toys to play with inside. ¬†¬†

What you Need:

  • 4 wooden sticks- I got the ones linked in original site at Home Depot
  • Canvas drop cloth (6×9)
  • Jute twine
  • Drill (Optional)
  • Cushion or blanket for the bottom

Printables

6 of the best and easiest DIY projects for a Wild Things Party. No sewing or artistic skills needed, & budget friendly! Perfect for a first birthday party! Includes a set of 6 wild things party printables to make your own signs and posters easily.One of the best parts of having a book theme is there are lots of great quotes that work perfectly for a party!  You can really make it come to life with quotes and images set around the space.  There were two I found on this blog, I made the rest myself and just printed them at home (Scroll to end to download!).  Recycling frames from the house is the way to go! I put them above the pictures, and just took the quotes out after the party.  

What you Need:

  • Paper
  • Printer
  • Frames

So that’s it! ¬†Just give yourself enough time to buy any supplies you need and complete the projects. ¬†If you want to read more about the rest of the party, check out the wild things party post.