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Are you looking for teacher Christmas gift ideas? What about last minute Christmas gift ideas for teachers? Well, you’ve come to the right place. I absolutely love shopping for Christmas gifts, but I also know it takes a lot of time – and who has that?!

If buying Christmas gifts for teachers slipped your mind amid the busy holiday season, not to worry. This is a list of Christmas presents that you can buy on Amazon Prime!

That’s right, you can have those teacher gifts to your door in just two days, and no one will be the wiser. (And psst: You can try Amazon Prime for free for 30 days if you don’t have it already. You can cancel anytime.)

What’s On This Teacher Christmas Gift List?

On this list, I’ve actually included teacher Christmas gift ideas for preschool teachers and great Christmas gifts for teachers who specifically teach elementary school, math, science, social studies, art, PE, and even dance.

There is also a section at the bottom that’s just for gifts for male teachers. This year, my son has a male teacher, and I want his teacher to feel special and appreciated too. It’s easy for me to buy Christmas gifts for female teachers because I am, in fact, female. However, it can be a little challenging to find Christmas gifts for male teachers. So, I’ve already done the hard work for you. I think any male teacher would enjoy some of the gifts I’ve listed below!

Also, by separating the categories in this post, it’ll be easy for you to navigate to find Christmas gifts for kindergarten teachers or the right section to find a Christmas gift for your favorite art teacher or PE teacher. I hope this helps all the Amazon Prime loving mamas out there. Three cheers for shopping in your PJ’s, am I right?!

Preschool Teacher Christmas Gift Ideas

Because I have two children in preschool, I love finding unique preschool teacher Christmas gift ideas. The great thing about preschool teachers is you can buy teacher Christmas gifts that are more fun and whimsical.

When I think of a preschool teacher, I think of someone with a lot of patience, someone who might enjoy a bit of pampering. And, let’s be honest, I also think of someone who might enjoy a nice glass of wine at the end of the day to wind down.

Below are some of my favorite preschool teacher Christmas gift ideas. I hope you find something that will be perfect for your favorite preschool teacher.

The List of Preschool Teacher Christmas Gift Ideas
  • Mermaid Makeup Brush Set – $10.99 – What preschool teacher could resist this touch of whimsy? I think I’m going to buy these for my children’s preschool teachers. They are affordable, fun, and they’ve actually gotten great reviews on Amazon.

  • Hand Painted Stemless Wine Glasses – $25.89 – Like I said, if I was a preschool teacher, I’d definitely enjoy a nice glass of wine in the evening. I’ve been so impressed by the handmade Christmas gifts on Amazon lately. These wine glasses are beautiful and hand painted. I think any preschool teacher would be delighted to have them.
  • Wonder Woman Superhero Socks – $9.95 – I mean, do these really need an explanation? Preschool teachers are absolutely wonder women. These Wonder Woman socks would be a really fun gift that I’m sure many preschool teachers would love.
  • Giraffe Slipper Socks – $15.99 – Again, one of the best parts about shopping for Christmas gifts for preschool teachers is that you can have a little fun. If your child has more than one preschool teachers, there’s actually a pair of elephant slipper socks from this seller as well!
Christmas Gifts for Kindergarten Teachers

Are you looking for Christmas gifts for kindergarten teachers? Isn’t it so hard to find the perfect thing? After all, kindergarten teachers are really special. For many parents, sending their kids to kindergarten is the very first time their children have gone to school five days a week.

It’s hard to imagine how you can thank a kindergarten teacher for everything they do. After all, they will be among the first teachers to really make a huge impact on your child. Now, you don’t have to spend a lot to show how grateful you are. But, it is nice to try to find a unique gift for kindergarten teachers. After all, they probably have 500 ornaments on their Christmas tree from their students and even more coffee cups!

So, below I’ve gathered a few gifts for kindergarten teachers that they’ll love.

The List of Kindergarten Teacher Christmas Gift Ideas
  • 101-Piece Alphabet & Numbers Cookie Cutters – $14.99 – I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking about getting these for my house because my twins love making cookies. Plus, I’m amazed that you get *101* cookie cutters for just $14.99. Also, the great thing about these is it’s all numbers, letters, and holiday themed cookie cutters, so there are limitless uses for a kindergarten teacher.

  • Rose Gold Acrylic Pen Holder – $10.99 – Teachers love pretty desk accessories. I mean, they are some of the most organized people on the planet. So, why not give them something that they can use on their desk? Bonus: your child will smile throughout the rest of the year because he or she will be able to see the gift they gave their teacher every day!
  • Drawstring Backpack – $7.90 – This is great for those quick field trips. I recently went on a field trip with my kids’ classes to the farmer’s market, and the teachers were carrying backpacks filled with forms and other necessities for the day ahead. Giving your teacher a drawstring backpack is so versatile and they can use it whether they put their sandwich in it or pack it for their students’ music class down the hall.
  • Sterling Silver Initial Earrings – $13.99 – These are super sweet and simple earrings that your teacher will love. I enjoy getting personalized gifts myself, so I know they will too.
The Best Christmas Gifts for Elementary School Teachers

Now kindergarten teachers are amazing, but so are other elementary school teachers. If you want to find a Christmas gift for an elementary school teacher, look no further than the list below. I’ve compiled several elementary school teacher Christmas gift ideas that they can use in the classroom as well as at home.

The List of Elementary School Teacher Christmas Gift Ideas
  • Set of 6 Artificial Succulent Plants in Owl Planters – $15.99 – I searched high and low for really cute (but 100% artificial succulent plants in nice planters.) You would be surprised how many sellers on Amazon are selling planters but no succulents! I found this set. I think the owl planters are perfect for an elementary school teacher to have in her classroom. They add a touch of whimsy, and it’s nice to have plants around, even if they’re fake lol.

  • Lightweight Crossbody Bag With Tassel – $11.99 – The perfect, small crossbody bag that’s very versatile. Your favorite kindergarten teacher can use this gift whether they’re heading to school or running errands on the weekend. It’ll fit a wallet, a cellphone, and even a compact or lipstick.
  • 24 Ultra Fine Point Sharpie Markers – $14.99 – Most teachers love school supplies, and there are some die hard sharpie fans out there! I love these fine point sharpie marketers. They’re great for grading and writing notes home.
  • 25 Piece Wood & Rubber Teacher Stamps – $13.99 – These stamps will add a nice touch for teachers who enjoy adding a bit of pizzaz to the tests and papers they send home. This is a nice set of stamps they can use all year round for that purpose.
The Best Christmas Gifts for English Teachers

Maybe I’m a bit biased because I used to teach English, but man, I just loved looking up gifts for English teachers for this post. English teachers are my people. They love books and writing, and to me, there are so many ways to show them that you appreciate them and care.

Now, these gifts would work well if your child needs to buy gifts for a reading teacher or needs to buy gifts for a writing teacher. Teachers who fall under these categories typically enjoy the written word and appreciate some of the finer things in life. Just like the other categories, all of these teacher gifts are from Amazon Prime, which means you can get them in just two days! (Also, I won’t judge you if you buy one of these things for yourself. I’ve been eye the first one for myself.)

The List of English Teacher Christmas Gift Ideas
  • Tea Infuser Teapot Tea Cup – $10.99 – This is perfect to use while curled up with a good book. If your teacher has a microwave or an electric teakettle in their classroom (also a good gift idea!) they can use those to heat up the water for this tea cup. I love anything that’s clear glass or acrylic. I also like that this has a top, which makes it seem a little more high end, even though its under $11!

  • Pride and Prejudice Adult Coloring Book – $12.66 – This is a great way for English teachers to relax. I’ve never met an English teacher who didn’t love Pride and Prejudice, so you’re in luck here. This is a safe bet. If you want to add to the gift, you can always buy roll of colored pencils to go with it.
  • Rose Gold Ballpoint Pens – $18.99 – It always seems easier to write when you have a beautiful pen to use. IF your English teacher is also an avid writer, he or she might love these. You can pair them with a fresh, new notebook. (I’ve personally never met a notebook I didn’t like.)
  • Cute Coffee and Books T-Shirt – $19.99 – This shirt actually comes in men’s and women’s sizes. It has a fun graphic on it for the book and coffee lovers out there. I would absolutely proudly wear this myself, and I’m not even a teacher anymore.
The Best Christmas Gifts for Science Teachers

If you have a favorite science teacher, I know they’d love receiving a fun, science themed gift. There is a surprising amount of cool, creative gifts for science geeks out there. Below, I’ve shared beautiful jewelry, interesting books, and even a fun coffee mug.

The List of Science Teacher Christmas Gift Ideas
  • Rose Gold Caffeine Molecule Necklace – $14.80 – This necklace is nerdy and pretty, the best combination for a science teacher. It’s sure to get a lot of compliments and questions!

  • Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc – $13.26 – This is an interesting and cool book that science teachers might love. They can keep it in their classroom for kids to look through, or they can bring it home and have it as a coffee table book.
  • Caffeine Beaker Mug – $11.50 – This is a coffee mug that looks like a beaker. It has the caffeine molecule on it! If you have a lab teacher you love, they will probably get a kick out of this gift.
  • Science Cookie Cutter Set – $29.99 – If your science teacher has a passion for baking, how will they be able to resist these cookie cutters that can help your cookies look like atoms, test tubes, and beakers?
The Best Christmas Gifts for Math Teachers

So, I know many of you out there cringe at the thought of math, but think about how amazing our math teachers are! They have the task of taking tough concepts and teaching them to our kids. I don’t know about you, but I think they have one of the most challenging jobs out there. So, let’s be sure to pamper them a bit this holiday season with some of the teacher Christmas gift ideas below.

The List of Math Teacher Christmas Gift Ideas
  • Super Cool Math Clock – $24.77 – This clock doubles as a math lesson. Don’t you think this would make great classroom decor? I love gifts that can double as teaching tools, and I’m sure your math teacher will feel the same way.

  • Mathematics Infinity Scarf – $19.80 – Why wouldn’t your math teacher want to dress up in a scarf covered in numbers and formula? This is for that teacher who is very proud to teach math and isn’t afraid to show it!
  • Bath Bombs Gift Set – $10.69 – Bath bombs are always a great gift. After a long day of teaching math, your teacher can go home and relax with these bath bombs. Plus, this is a great price for a set of six bath bombs with hundreds of positive reviews.
  • “So Much Pun” Math Poster 4-Pack – $13.96 – I love a good pun, but math puns? That takes some skill. These hilarious and cute math posters would be great to decorate a classroom!
The Best Christmas Gifts for Social Studies Teachers

There are many different types of social studies teachers. You have geography teachers, American history teachers, world history teachers, and more. However, one thing they all have in common is that they likely have an interest in the world. And, as such, they probable appreciate all the cultures and facts that make up our amazing planet.  That’s why the gifts below are perfect for them.

The List of History Teacher Christmas Gift Ideas
  • World Map Pendant Necklace – $9.89 – This is such a pretty, affordable necklace for your history teacher or your social studies teacher. Plus, it’s a trendy double necklace to boot!

  • Pretty Thermal Mug – $18.00 – Social studies won’t put you to sleep anymore if your teacher has this.
  • I Read History and I Know Things Shirt – $18.99 – This shirt says, “That’s what I do. I read history, and I know things.” Ha! If you have a history teacher with a good sense of humor, they might enjoy this Christmas gift.
  • Organic World Of Tea Collection – $24.00 – If your social studies teacher or history teacher loves to try things from all around the world, they might enjoy this collection of organic tea. It’s a super nice set..
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Welcome back to my travel series where I’m sharing five posts full of tips and tricks for traveling with kids. In my last post in the series, I shared 6 Things to Do on Mackinac Island With Kids and today I’m going to share 7 things to do in New Orleans with kids.

This series is brought to you courtesy of my friends at Radius Bank who are committed to helping families save – and grow – their money. If you haven’t seen my video collaboration with Radius Bank, please check out the video (and my adorable kiddos) on YouTube.

Now, some long time readers might know this but if you’re new here, I grew up about 30 minutes away from New Orleans. So, my parents would often take my siblings and me to New Orleans on the weekends to stroll along the Riverwalk, eat salt water taffy, and in general, enjoy the scenery.

New Orleans is a great city packed with culture and amazing food. It’s a wonderful destination for kids and families. Here are some of our favorite things to do there:

Check Out Jackson Square

Jackson Square is the heart of the French Quarter. It’s where St. Louis Cathedral is located, and I love walking into the cathedral and around the square, where local artists prop up their art for sale.

There is usually spontaneous jazz music from street musicians, lots of cute shops, and mimes. There is a lot to look at, and it’s perfectly safe to walk around during the day with your kids. I’ve been going since I was little.

Have a Muffaletta on the Riverfront

New Orleans is called the Crescent City due to the bend in the Mississippi River that you can see when you stand on the Riverwalk. You can park in many different public parking locations in the French Quarter and take a stroll.

When you’re in New Orleans, you have to try the classic Italian sandwich known as a muffaletta. The best place to get them is in a little hole in the wall called Central Grocery, which has been there since 1906. My grandfather used to take my dad there as a kid to get muffalettas and my dad always took us too.

Muffalettas are enormous sandwiches so you can order a half a muffaletta and that is enough for two adults. You can take the muffalettas in a bag with some Zapps potato chips, and then go sit on a bench on the Riverfront and eat them while you watch the riverboats roll by.

Go to the Audubon Zoo

I’ll be honest; the aquarium in New Orleans is just so-so. I would recommend taking your kids to the Audubon Zoo instead. The most iconic exhibit in the zoo is the white alligator. I used to visit the white alligator as a kid and they continue to have white alligators at the zoo now.

Ride the Streetcar

Another fun thing to do is ride the streetcar. It’s very inexpensive to do so. You can hop on the streetcar in the French Quarter and ride up St. Charles Ave. to look at all the beautiful, historic mansions.

The St. Charles line streetcar is the oldest operating streetcar in the U.S. and it’s only $1.50 to ride it (you’ll need exact change).

Indulge in Beignets

Beignets are french doughnuts covered in powder sugar, and they are a New Orleans rite of passage. I’ve tried just about every beignet shop in the New Orleans area, and there is a reason Cafe du Monde continues to be in business since 1862.

We took our twins here the last time we were home, and they absolutely loved it.

Listen to Live Jazz

You just can’t beat the incredible jazz musicians in New Orleans. If you want more after hearing it on the streets of the French Quarter all day, head to Preservation Hall for an intimate jazz show.

Preservation Hall is an iconic location. It’s small, cozy, and dark with the perfect ambiance for a jazz band.

The last time I went there, I was pregnant with my twins, and my husband and I went on a mini vacation and stayed in New Orleans for two nights around the holidays. We went to listen to Christmas jazz music, and the babies jumped around in my belly the whole time. They really loved the music!

Eat Charbroiled Oysters

No list can be complete without me mentioning my favorite New Orleans restaurant: Dragos. Dragos now has two locations. They opened a restaurant in the French Quarter a few years ago, so now it’s a bit easier to get to.

I’ve converted many a non-seafood eater to oyster lover by getting them to try Drago’s charbroiled oysters. They’re the best. My husband and I will stop and eat oysters here before seeing any family when we go home. They’re that good, and I highly encourage you to stop by and order a dozen. You won’t regret it.

Tips for Affording a New Orleans Vacation

If you’d like to go to New Orleans, here are a few tips for affording it:

  • Travel Off Peak – In New Orleans, off-peak travel times are different than other parts of the country. Try to avoid traveling during Mardi Gras, the Sugar Bowl, Saints games, and Jazz Fest. Late March to early April is a good time to go both weather-wise and to avoid everything mentioned above!
  • Eat at Holes in the Wall – New Orleans has a long list of absolutely incredible five star restaurants by renowned chefs. You can easily spend a thousand dollars on meals alone and barely scratch the surface of the incredible cuisine. However, there are also many smaller restaurants that are affordable and equally as divine. Do your research to find different restaurants where you can try an affordable cup of gumbo or a plate of jambalaya. It’s hard to be disappointed when it comes to food in New Orleans.
  • Save in a Hybrid Checking Account – I always save for my vacations in a separate account for a few months before traveling. Regular savings accounts only let you have 6 transactions a month but you can try a hybrid savings account, like the ones offered at Radius Bank. These allow you to have the interest rate of a high yield savings account with the convenience of a checking account. That way, there won’t be a limit your transactions, and you can pay for everything on your trip right from your vacation account.

Of course, I’ve really only scratched the surface of things to do in New Orleans with kids. There are tons of museums, attractions, restaurants, and exhibits you can visit.

I’ve listed some easy, inexpensive activities above as well as a few pricier options like the zoo and Dragos. I enjoyed all of them as a child myself, and I’m now sharing them with my own kids. I hope you enjoy them too!

Have you ever been to New Orleans? What’s your favorite part?

The post 7 Things to Do in New Orleans With Kids appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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Have you ever heard of Mackinac Island? It’s a magical little place in Michigan where cars aren’t allowed, horses and bikes are the main form of transportation, and fudge is pretty much the primary food group. I thought it would be fun to write about our recent trip there and share some things to do on Mackinac Island with kids.

If you’re new here, travel is one of our family’s big financial priorities. We always say we’re happy to spend money on travel & education, and everything else just isn’t that important to us. This post is actually a part of a five post series, which is brought to you courtesy of our friends at Radius Bank. So, stay tuned in future weeks for some travel tips to places like Iceland, Finland, and more!

How Long Should You Stay on Mackinac Island with Kids?

First I wanted to chat about how long to stay on the island. We stayed for four nights, and I felt like that was perfect. As those of you with kids know, it’s hard to take them out of their routine!

We traveled to Mackinac Island right before Memorial Day. This meant that it wasn’t as crowded and prices were much more affordable. If you travel to Mackinac Island in the middle of the summer, you’ll pay a premium for a hotel.

We stayed at a very cute hotel called Main Street Inn. It was in an awesome location. We walked right off the ferry and crossed the street, and boom, we were there.

We booked one of the least expensive rooms, a deluxe standard room, for $115 a night. The day after we left, our exact same room went up to $200/night because it was Memorial Day and the start of the summer season.

The hotel staff was really nice. Our beds were so comfortable, and our room on the second floor was the perfect location to borrow board games and card games from the second floor game room.

My husband and I had a wild date night in the hotel full of him crushing me in Monopoly one night, and then we played Old Maid and Go Fish with the kids on the other nights.

A note about booking at The Main Street Inn: you can’t book online directly. You fill out a form online requesting a room. Then, they call you if they have one available and you put a deposit down over the phone.

It was definitely the perfect location, walking distance to everything, and they give you a piece of fudge from the fudge shop downstairs in your room each night.

Now that you know where we stayed, here are a few tips on things to do on Mackinac Island with kids:

1. Ride in a Carriage

The kids started to ask to ride in the horse drawn carriages about 5 seconds into stepping on the island. We researched carriage tours, but in the end, we decided to take a “taxi” up to the Grand Hotel instead.

A carriage tour would have been lovely, but it was around $100 for our family and almost two hours long. We didn’t know if our four year old twins would sit for that long, so taking the horse carriage taxi was a way to let them ride without the expense.

Taking a one way carriage taxi is $5 per adult and it’s free for toddler-age kids and younger.

2. Visit the Grand Hotel

Speaking of the Grand Hotel, it’s definitely worth a visit. This is a gorgeous, iconic hotel that is over 131 years old. They have beautiful gardens, a large wrap around porch, and stunning views of the lake.

It’s definitely worth exploring, and once you take the horse taxi up the hill, you can easily take a nice stroll back, since it’s all downhill!

3. Visit the Butterfly House

The Butterfly House is walking distance from Main Street. I admit, at first, I wondered if it was a tourist trap because it was $30 for the four of us to visit the small Butterfly sanctuary.

What I didn’t expect, however, was that my son would absolutely love it. When you go into the Butterfly House, they give you a little guide to help you identify the butterflies. My son called it his “map” and he spent a long, long time looking for the butterflies on the map. He was so focused and so into it. Then he asked us to go back… twice.

They also have a section where you can look at insects, turtles, and a bearded dragon. (My fearless daughter had no problem petting the bearded dragon.)

Don’t forget to ask for wrist bands when you buy your tickets. We put the wristbands on our backpacks, and that allowed us to come back as many times as we wanted before we left. This made the price and the experience worth it.

4. Try Lots of Fudge

Yeah, so, there are a lot of fudge shops on Mackinac Island. You should probably try them all… for research purposes of course.

You’ll see fudge shops all over Main Street, every couple of shops in fact. If your kids have never seen someone make fudge, this is a great free activity. You can walk into many of the shops and watch them create it before your eyes. Many fudge shops also offer free samples.

We tried several different shops and really indulged over the course of four days. There is no such thing as bad fudge on Mackinac Island, so you really can’t go wrong.

5. Take a Family Bike Ride

One of our favorite activities on this trip was taking a family bike ride around the island. It’s an 8 mile trek, and I was able to do it even though I haven’t worked out in a minute forever.

There are many bike rental shops on the island. We used Mackinac Island Bike Shop. They didn’t require a deposit, and they prorated the ride. The clock starts when you sign up with your credit card. But, it took a little time for them to get the WeeHoos attached to each of our bikes for the kids to ride in, so they restarted the clocks for us when we left, which I thought was fair and good service.

We enjoyed the ride around the island. It was quiet and peaceful with great views. The kids were a little nervous at first because they’ve never ridden in a WeeHoo before, but they were quickly giggling, having a good time, and pointing out a few things to each other.

The bike shop provided free water and free helmets for us, but I also brought snacks. We ended up stopping a few times on the journey to walk by the water, feed the kids gummies, etc.

6. Eat at The Pink Pony

We ate out for most of our meals on this trip. We brought a lot of breakfast bars and snacks which helped cut down on our food spending, but we budgeted for several meals out as well.

Although we had a few great meals, the restaurant I want to wholeheartedly recommend is the Pink Pony. It’s another one of those iconic Mackinac Island places that has been there forever, and the food is absolutely delicious.

Our son, who is a picky eater, devoured their spaghetti and meatballs. They used pasta that looked like bicycle wheels, and he was very jazzed about that having just experienced an 8 mile bike ride. I had the fish tacos, and they were truly amazing.

Not only was the food great, but the atmosphere was just beautiful. We got there for lunch a little early at around 11:30, which allowed us to get a table right by the water. The weather was perfect, the breeze was just right, the kids were well behaved, and it was just one of those moments where I was overwhelmed with gratitude for being able to travel with my family.

How We Save for Our Trips

If you want to take a vacation with your family, but you feel like you can’t afford it, here is what we do:

  • Prioritize Traveling

First, we prioritize traveling. That means that we don’t spend a lot of money on clothes, eating out, or other extras. We didn’t pay for a pool or a waterpark membership this summer. We say no to lots of things that come up in favor of saving for trips.

  • Save Money in a High Yield Checking Account

If you don’t put your travel money in a separate account, you’re going to spend it. If you wait until the end of the month to put all extra money towards vacation savings, you won’t have any left.

We set a vacation goal and then transfer a certain amount of money each month into a high yield account earmarked for vacations. High yield accounts allow you to earn more interest than a traditional checking account. The Radius Bank hybrid checking account is a great example of that (and they refund ATM fees if you want to take cash out on your trip.)

Overall, we had a really great time on Mackinac Island. We accomplished our goal to learn a little bit more about our new state of Michigan, and it did not disappoint.

Life gets busy, and like many families with two working parents, our family really needed some time to reconnect. I loved that there wasn’t a ton to do on the island. It gave us a lot of time to take walks, grab ice cream, and just spend time together.

I definitely recommend Mackinac Island if you’re looking for a charming, low key vacation with your kids. If you have any questions about our trip or tips for your own trip to Mackinac Island with kids, feel free to contact me!

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The post 6 Things to Do on Mackinac Island With Kids appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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Creating a boy and girl shared room can be challenging, especially as kids get older. You don’t want things to be too girly or too masculine, but you also want it to be memorable and fun. I get it. I have four year old boy girl twins, and they’ve shared a room from the beginning.

The great news is that they both love their space and have never asked to have their own rooms. Over time, I’ve been able to create a cute boy and girl shared room without spending a ton of money.

Since we just updated their room with big kid beds, I wanted to share its most recent transformation with you. No longer do we have two cribs or two toddler beds. We have super tall four year olds who are sharing a very small room in a small house, and they didn’t last long in toddler beds.

This is where my first tip comes in. Find something in the room that can be your focal point, something fun and memorable. For us, that was their beds.

Make it Fun

Because our home is just over 1,000 square feet, there isn’t a lot of room for large furniture. In fact, we couldn’t find a way to fit two twin beds in their small room. So, enter the bunk beds stage right.

Now, I totally fell in love with the bunk bed at Pottery Barn that looks like a playhouse. It’s actually called the Tree House bunk bed, and it’s just so gorgeous, but also very expensive at $1,900. It’s just not a cost I could justify, so I started looking for something similar.

After searching for a few months, I came across these bunk beds. I almost clicked away from the image at first because the bunkbeds featured camouflage curtains that I knew the princess wouldn’t like.

However, once I read the description and realized the camouflage curtains were removable, I started to see the potential. In fact, with the curtains stripped away, it looked really similar to the Pottery Barn version, without the expensive price tag.

I kept an eye on the price, and right after Christmas I bought them when the price dropped under $600 (usually around $800.)

Here’s what the bunk beds look like in their room:

As you can see, these beds are really fun. It made the kids so excited for their big kid room. Having a large piece of furniture in a neutral color set the tone for the entire boy and girl shared room.

What I Love About Bunk Beds

What I love about the beds is that each kid gets to have their own space within the room. My daughter has the top bunk and calls it her “castle.” My son calls his bottom bunk his “cave.” They both think their space is super cool, and we’ve customized it for each one of them. We installed really simple Ikea floating shelves so they can put the books and trinkets they like near their beds.

The mattresses on the beds were generously provided by Tuft & Needle. I wanted to get them the Tuft & Needle twin mattresses because that’s the type of mattress my husband and I have.

My kids were decent sleepers as infants. We sleep trained them to be on the same nap schedule and same night schedule. But, as they got older, they started climbing out of their cribs, and transitioning to toddler beds was a nightmare. They kept ending up in our bed.

Eventually, I gave up and asked Tuft and Needle if they’d consider sending us a king mattress to try so we could have more space. They very generously agreed, but I waited a full year to let you know so I could make sure to give you an accurate review!

Initially, I was nervous to get the T&N mattress at first because I like soft mattresses. Some of the T&N mattress reviews said it was too firm, so I was worried I wouldn’t like it. But, it’s perfect. I’ve had ours for over a year now and the kids have had theirs for almost 6 months. So, I’m finally confident enough to say that we’re really happy with them. After a year of sleeping on it, I have no complaints, and the kids seem to sleep well on them too.

The great news is that once the twins got their bunk beds and their own Tuft & Needle twin mattresses,  they finally wanted to stay in their own beds! Now, don’t get me wrong, I still wake up and find one of them next to me from time to time. But, for the most part, getting them bigger mattresses and a cooler bed made them want to stay in their room. This means more and better sleep for everyone.

Create a Cohesive Look

If you’ve been reading from the beginning, you might remember that my twins had a travel themed nursery. Their nursery walls were grey, and this was before grey was cool, y’all. My mom and mother in law were horrified I was going to paint the walls grey. I did it anyway, though, and everyone eventually loved it.

Because we’ve lived abroad and love to travel, we filled their nursery with maps from all over the world. We also included pictures of us when we lived in the Caribbean, and lots of other fun mementos from friends who live in other countries. I hate to call it a “theme” because it might make people think of a tropical themed bathroom or a Mickey Mouse themed birthday party. So, let’s just call it a cohesive look.

It turns out, the travel photos and artwork were a great choice because all of that has carried over to now at age 4. This means I didn’t have to buy anything new to decorate their room, and I didn’t have to replace nursery art with big kid art.

One of my favorite parts of the room are these scratch off maps that my sister sent the kids for Christmas. You scratch off countries as you visit them. I hope they can scratch off all of them someday!

And here are just a few more pictures of the space:

Overall, I think it’s a room that will definitely grow with them. And, they really enjoyed the freedom to add their dolls and toys and books to their own individual bunk beds. This makes them feel like they get to have somewhat of a say in how their personal spaces are “decorated.”

Really, our only cost in this big kid room update was the bed. We already had their dressers, artwork, and IKEA floating shelves from their nursery. (And, we’ve brought all of it to three different states now!)

I’m hopeful that these two will keep sharing a room for a long time. I just love their bond and their friendship. And, if I can help facilitate that by making their shared room fun, I’m more than happy to do it.

Do you have a boy and girl shared room in your house? If so, how did you decorate it?

The post How to Create a Gorgeous Boy and Girl Shared Room appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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Last week, my beautiful twins turned 4 years old. I remember the day I decided to share on my blog that I got the world’s greatest 2-for-1 deal. Oh man, I was not expecting that ultrasound tech to show me two babies on the monitor that day. I’ll never, ever forget how the hubs and I felt in that moment knowing that our lives would truly never be the same.

The early days of having them started out so exciting, but as both kids went to the NICU, it was bleak and dark. Even now, I try to stretch my mind to remember what it was like but my brain, protecting me from the truth, often comes up empty.

No one can prepare you for having your own kids, no matter how many siblings you have – no matter how many kids you babysat growing up. It’s just so different when they’re yours. The intensity of those early days rocked our world.

We moved across the country with them when they were 5 weeks old. We stopped at rest stops all the way from Louisiana to New Jersey with these teeny, tiny preemie babies. Our daughter was on a heart monitor that had to be plugged in and charged along the way. I’m sure everyone who saw us at those rest stops thought we were nuts.

Ruthlessly Pursuing Dreams

As I reflect back on the past four years with our twins, I know our lives could have been so much easier had we taken a different path. And yet, we have no regrets.

In 2011, the hubs moved to the Caribbean to start his medical school journey. Then, after three years there, we came back to the States for him to complete his final two years of medical school.

With all of his in-classrom work done, he still had two years of training inside of a hospital left. We knew we’d have to move to whatever hospital his school assigned him to after I had the twins, but we were hoping to have more time at home with our families in Louisiana.

Days after they were born, hubs got an e-mail that said he had to move to New Jersey in 17 days. I’ll never forget that – 17 days.

There we were in this pretty nursery I planned and decorated with these tiny, tiny babies and suddenly we knew we had just over 2 weeks to find a place to rent site unseen, pack up a house, and move – with newborn twins.

All the details are fuzzy, but I remember it was only a few days before we actually moved that we got an apartment and overnighted a check for $6,500 to pay for our deposit, first, and last month’s rent in New Jersey – a sum I painstakingly saved before the twins arrived.

Why did we go through all of that? It would have been so much easier to stay in Louisiana where our kids have 4 grandparents, tons of aunts and uncles, and a strong culture of food, fun, and faith that both of us grew up in.

And yet, sometimes in order to achieve great things, you have to do what is uncomfortable.

After finishing half of medical school, there was no option to quit – hard as it was to leave everyone and everything to move to a state neither one of us had ever been to.

So, we packed those little babies up, and we put them in the car. We drove for 3 days to get to New Jersey. We arrived on a Saturday night and that Monday morning the hubs started his 3rd year of medical school and I stayed home with the twins.

Being a Work-at-Home Mom

In those early days, I was trying so hard to survive. The hubs was gone long hours at the hospital and I had two tiny babies who needed me – a lot. I was working on my business, squeezing in blog posts while the twins napped. I stayed up late writing, woke up every few hours throughout the night to feed the twins, and it was all quite difficult and a blur.

In those early days, I questioned my choice to stay home. For years I’d worked on my business at night after work just so that I could stay home with my kids one day and still have a career.

When I was working towards that goal, I had no idea I was going to have twins. I had visions of me joyfully writing on a laptop with a sweet sleeping baby strapped to my chest. Obviously, that did not happen.

When they were three months old, I asked the hubs if I could go to Starbucks and write while he watched the twins. I only had an hour or two since the kids needed me to eat, but I went anyway.

I sat there in Starbucks with tears streaming down my face and wrote an article for The Huffington Post that went insanely viral.

Hundreds of thousands of people read what my first three months of motherhood was like. I even put on some makeup and did a video interview with the Huffington Post while two babysitters watched the kids in the other room. (Yes, I was so nervous to have a babysitter watch them without me that I asked two of them to be there.)

Still, even though I got everything I wanted, most importantly the ability to stay home and work while being with my kids, I battled severe post-partum depression.

I struggled hard with unwanted thoughts, terrible things that jumped in my brain in the early days. As a more experienced mom now, I now know this is actually quite common, and I’m not the only one who experienced it. Still, when you’re in the moment, you think something is extremely wrong with you.

I got the help I desperately needed, but it was a long road to get me back to who I wanted to be — longer than I expected. Even today, I have to start each day with a positive mindset, practice patience, and take the time for self-care. I know how dark things can be at the bottom, and I don’t want to go back there.

Moving to Michigan

When the twins were 2, hubs applied for residency positions — training necessary after medical school to become a fully licensed physician. Much like the time we got assigned to New Jersey when the kids were newborns, Hubs opened up an email that said we were moving to Michigan for the next four years for his residency position.

We had some time to prepare for that move, and after hubs finished medical school, we even took a month-long trip to Europe as a family with the kids which, for some reason, did not seem like it would be hard at the time (it was.)

Our time in Michigan has been good. My business grew a lot and I worked from home with the help of a babysitter, who came to my house 15 hours a week. She was a God send because among other things, she helped me potty train the twins, which was, like everything else, not an easy task.

I was able to work with top brands, got to fly back to New York city to shoot videos, and I even wrote two children’s books as part of a series called The Twins Go.

 The twins don’t know that they lived in 3 different states before they were 3. Most of their early memories will be here in this house in Michigan. They don’t know about all the times we moved and why we did it – to provide a better life for them. We’ll tell them, of course, as time goes on.

Mostly, I want them to know that if they have a goal or a dream, it’s worth pursuing, even when it would be so nice and cozy and comfortable to keep with the status quo.

Age 4 is Great

When I was in counseling after the twins were born, trying to break free of my depression, my counselor told me that not all moms like the newborn stage. Some do, but if you don’t, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. She told me to just wait and see how much fun it would be once they started talking and interacting with me.

She was right. And, I could cry writing this with relief that she was right.

The twins as toddlers were just as tough as the newborn days, but once they hit age 3.5, the skies started to clear.

One day, a few months before she turned 4, my daughter helped herself to a piece of bread. She put jelly on it and then made one for her twin brother – just completely on her own without me asking.

Then, my son started to be able to open the car door on his own. He opens it for his twin sister, then runs around the car and opens his own door. They can both get their carseat straps on and close the first buckle.

My daughter picks out her outfit for the next day every evening. My son can zip up his own jacket. They can tell me when they’re hungry, when they’re hurt, and why.

They understand rewards and punishments, and I swear, 4 year old kids have to be the most hilarious people on the planet. They crack me up all day long. The things they say will make you double over with laughter.

Really, I’m cherishing our bond more than ever. I’m so grateful to start the day with them each day, and although the hubs and I discipline often and consistently and sometimes annoyingly, the lessons are starting to sink in. The please’s and thank you’s are coming without reminding. My son is holding open doors for ladies at the gym. They put their plates in the sink and rinse them off. They put their toys back in the playroom. Not all the time, but it’s getting more frequent.

Do they misbehave? Yes. Do they fight with each other? Plenty. But, they are able to reason so much more now and would rather stop bad behavior than lose a toy or get put in time out. It’s so much better than age 2 or 3, when there were a lot more tantrums and a lot less communicating.

I write all of this with such relief because I know they’re going to get more and more independent as time goes on. I write this with relief because on most days, I really, truly enjoy being a mom — and in the beginning, I was so worried that I never would.

These two little people, the Beans, are the absolute loves of our lives. I am filled with gratitude more than I’ve ever felt before when I see them together. I think about how lucky I am to have them and that they have each other.

It’s not always easy, and there are still a lot of ups and downs – especially with the intensity of the hubs’ schedule – but for now, the clouds have parted, and I am finally living out the dream I had for my family. I love these babies so much, and I’m so happy they’re mine. <3

How old were your kids when they started being much easier?!

P.S. You can follow along and see a ton of pictures of the twins on Instagram and also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel as I’m publishing a new video every week.

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The post Reflections on My Twins Turning 4 appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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At the end of last year, I shared on Facebook that I made over $100,000 from my business. I’ve made right around that number before, but for some reason, I felt like sharing it with the world instead of keeping it to myself.

Maybe it’s because we went through hell and back at the end last year. When you have a tough year emotionally and you’re an entrepreneur, it’s hard to know how that will affect income. When I am anxious, I don’t work well. So, maybe I shared my income because it’s a celebration of all that I was able to accomplish – even under duress.

I got a lot of positive feedback from my friends and readers after posting my income. Andy Hill invited me to share how I achieved my $100k milestone on his podcast, Marriage, Kids, and Money. When I talked to Andy, he asked me a lot of questions about how I got started in my business. That conversation took me back to my early days, and for the first time in a long time, I felt really proud of what I’ve accomplished here.

There are many bloggers in my circle who make double, triple, even 10x what I make. At times, it’s hard not to compare. Some bloggers are so successful that they make a $100,000 business like mine look like child’s play. Still, I’m making a point of congratulating myself, and here’s why:

I did this while taking care of my twins.

The most important job I have in my life is taking care of my twins. I spend more time with them than anyone else.

Between my husband’s commute, long hours at the hospital, and taking care of patients on some weekends, my husband is not here in the house for around 80 hours every week.

To compensate for this, I’ve utilized amazing babysitters, the daycare at my gym, and since the fall, pre-school a few mornings a week. For the most part though, I do almost everything that needs to be done for the kids and inside my house.

I organize my kids’ lives, buy them clothes, help them clean out the playroom, and make them apologize to each other when they hurt each other. I also make them every meal. I ask for forgiveness from them myself when I yell too much. I put the bubbles in the bath, know which books they want me to read, and introduce them to the wonders of watching the first Harry Potter movie on the TV.

I pack their lunches for pre-school and fill out all the forms. I make sure they have 42 pairs of mittens for school (or so it seems.) I take them to the mall solely because my son is obsessed with escalators. I let them wear a bathing suit inside every day during the winter because they invented a crazy game called “Pool” where they pretend to dive into the couch cushions as if it was water. Kids.

And, in the early morning when my alarm goes off before they wake up, I’m here at my computer, writing. Sometimes, I have to write while they’re awake and playing, which isn’t that productive. Sometimes, I can hardly keep my eyes open at night after they go to bed, and yet, I still have to write and edit and meet deadlines.

I admit, I miss deadlines sometimes and then have to deal with rude editors who have no clue what my life is like, nor do they care. Sometimes, I hire a babysitter to come so I can work, but I’m so tired I just lay in my bed instead.

Yet still, despite all of this madness, I still grossed $100,000 in 2017.

Where I Earned My Income

The largest portion of my income came from brand partnerships in 2017.

I completed a 5 month partnership with Quicken Loans where we filmed 10 videos, and I wrote 30 blog posts for them. They were an incredible team and amazing to work with. We are still waiting on the videos to come out, and I’ll share them when they do.

I also worked in partnership with Real Simple and Discover Personal Loans. They flew me to New York twice in May 2017 to film videos for them. Despite developing laryngitis right before filming the first video, I somehow kept it together and didn’t talk to anyone for about 24 hours so I could rest my voice and speak on film.

I also earned a portion of my income from speaking. I flew to Dallas in September and spoke to a group of women about how to create wealth.

Another large portion of my income comes from freelancing writing and always has. This is my bread and butter, my steadiest form of income.

In 2017, I also started doing blog management. This is where I run an entire blog for a client. I hire other freelance writers for them, edit blog posts, keep an editorial calendar, manage their social media, and more. I like blog management better than freelance writing in many ways because it’s more dynamic. I like being involved in the growth and results of a blog vs. just sending in a freelance article to them.

I also make money from my course sales. I have a very detailed 29 video course that teaches other people how to make an income from being a freelance writer for blogs.

Lastly, I earn money from affiliate income (recommending other products on this blog) and I earn a teeny tiny bit of income from selling the children’s books I wrote on Amazon.

I have a lot of income streams for a reason. I have to stay diversified to protect myself in case one branch of my business breaks.

To give you an idea of the roller coaster ride that is business income, my highest earning month in 2017 was over $22,000, but I couldn’t have a party and spend it because I also had a month in 2017 where I only earned $4,000.

To repeat, in 2017, one month I earned $4,000 and one month I earned $22,000.

See, entrepreneurship isn’t as glamorous as you might think. It’s very difficult to stay disciplined, and for me as the breadwinner, I do tend to panic when I have a slow month. I’m working on bettering my mindset and staying mentally strong when it comes to business income in 2018.

I know what I’m capable of and I know I can earn a lot. I just have to remind myself of that if I have a slow month.

Where I Spent My Money

This is something important I wanted to address. Again, I got a lot of positive responses when I shared that I made $100,000 last year. But, it would be a disservice of me to let everyone think that I have that amount solidly sitting in my bank account.

This is a business, and it costs a lot of money to run. I don’t net $100,000. I have to pay a lot of money to actually keep the (virtual) doors open.

In 2017, it cost me over $22,000 to run my business.

That means that my net income was roughly $78,000.

Then, there are taxes. Because I am both the employer and the employee in my one-person business, I have to pay what’s called self-employment tax.

I have to set aside about 25% of my net income for taxes, which (to keep the math simple) is around $20,000.

At the end of the day, that means I took home around $58,000.

Not bad for someone who didn’t work one 40 hour week but also pretty far off from $100,000.

It looks a little different when I put it like that, huh?

You might be wondering what types of expenses are common for a business like mine. Here are some examples:

  • 20% commission to my talent agent. I have a wonderful talent agent based in New York City who helps me negotiate brand partnerships. He earns 20% of whatever I earn, which equals thousands of dollars in commissions to him.
  • Legal fees. I trademarked the name of my children’s book series, The Twins Go. Not super expensive, but not cheap either.
  • Social media software. Many bloggers use schedulers to automate their social media. This year, in 2018, I’m paying for comprehensive social media management from The Blonde Spot, which will likely be one of my biggest expenses in 2018.
  • Travel and lodging for the financial blogger’s conference.
  • Website hosting, domain name renewals, monthly tech services from iMark Interactive.
  • E-mail service provider to maintain the blog’s email list is $100/month.
  • Etc. etc. etc.
Why I’m Sharing This

I get as many Facebook ads in my timeline as you do. I constantly see people trying to sell their services, their courses, and their coaching by showcasing how much money they made.

Right now, entrepreneurship is very glamorous in our society. People dream of leaving their corporate jobs and working for themselves. It just seems so much better than sitting in meetings all day. And yes, there are so many people, millennials especially, who do live laptop lifestyles.

However, very few of them net outrageous incomes. That’s not to say it’s not possible because I personally know several million dollar bloggers. It’s just that I don’t want you to think that entrepreneurship is the answer or the escape from your hectic 9-5 life.

In order to be an entrepreneur, you have to have a lot of grit. You have to take a lot of hits. I had 12 publishers turn down my book last year. Twelve. Every time my literary agent pitched the book I want to write, they just kept saying no. One after the other. It was brutal. I’m still waiting for the yes.

As an entrepreneur, you have to be so incredibly disciplined. You don’t have a boss telling you to turn something in. You don’t have a meeting to collaborate with your co-workers. In a business like mine, you’re mostly alone. If you’re a sensitive person like I am, sometimes being left alone to work with your thoughts isn’t always the best. It takes a lot of mental strength to overcome the roadblocks as you meet them.

That said, I have survived and thrived four years of self-employment now. My income grows every year, and I am proud of the work I put out in the world.

I wouldn’t say that I’m happier than many of my friends who have a 9-5 job though. My business brings me a lot of stress, and I’m trying to find better ways to manage it.

The one thing I am happy about is that I set out on my self-employment journey with one goal in mind: to be home with my kids. My plan was to make enough money so that I didn’t have to go back to work until they started school. My twins turn four years old in just a few days. In September, they’ll be headed off to Pre-K for a full 5 days a week.

These next few months will be the last bit of time that I have them at home. It’s bittersweet. In many ways, I am ready. In more ways, they are ready.

It’s time for them to go out into the world and start school, and it’s time for me to really think about what I want for my career moving forward.

Some ideas I have to include:

  • Applying to 9-5 jobs again starting in the fall.
  • Going to business school to get my MBA
  • Using my newfound free time while they’re in school this fall to grow my own business even more (and still be able to pick them up from school at 3 pm.)

No word yet on which way I’ll head. Right now, though, I am just chugging along. I am currently pitching new brands for partnerships. I am looking for one more content management client. I am enjoying making a lot more videos now, which you can see on my Facebook page as they come out. And, I haven’t given up on my book yet. I’m going to revisit my book proposal and edit it and then try to send it out to publishers again.

Ultimately, I’m letting go of the idea that I have to have all the answers now. And for once, my Type A planner self actually feels ok that the future is up in the air.

The post What My $100,000 a Year Business Actually Looks Like appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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I was walking out of the thrift store, arms bogged down with all my treasures (and a firetruck… and a filthy Scooby Doo vehicle… because that’s the only way I got my two toddlers to participate in my thrifting adventures.)

I let a nice, old man go in front of me in the checkout line because he had one item, and I had about a million.

He smiled, and he thanked me. Then he said, nodding at the kids, “Things will get better when they’re about 5.”

I was friendly and chirped, “Great! Good to know!” Big smile on my southern lady face, of course, because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

But, then I got in the car, and his words started to push into me.

First, they came through my ears, of course, as words tend to do. But then they made their way down, trickling through my neck like water that was just a bit too cold. Once the words got to their final destination in my chest, they started simmering, kind of pounding along…

Why did it irk me so much?

You see, my kids were really good in the store. I was considering it a bit of a mom-win, actually.

I let them each select a toy right when we walked in. Then, I used my favorite mom-threat of, “I will give your toys to the trash truck to eat (nom nom nom) if you don’t follow me around and be good.”

Expert level parenting, clearly.

You’re welcome.

All that to say, his comment sparked some self-reflection.

If they were good, did that mean that I wasn’t?

Did he overhear me snap at them in the store? I don’t recall doing it, but is that somehow my normal state now?

Or, did I just seem exhausted, eyes darkened from writing alone at my desk while everyone else slept the night before?

Or maybe I just seemed…off. Off in a way that I definitely feel and yet still cannot quite make it through the fog to really describe or articulate.

Perhaps there’s another explanation:

  1. I was just being typical way-overthinking-things-Cat
  2. Maybe he was just trying to be nice.
  3. Maybe he’s right.
  4. Maybe he just tells this to all moms of small kids who seem to have ants in their pants in the checkout line because they are so very very very excited to be getting a $1 firetruck and $1 filthy Scooby Doo van.

Or, maybe it’s the phrase “It’ll get better.”

God I’m starting to really hate that phrase.

It’s a phrase I used to cling to back in the early days of having infant twins.

I would have clawed my way up a mountain with my bare hands just to reach for and touch those sweet words all strung together like beautiful twinkle lights… It gets better.

But now,  I’ve realized there is really isn’t anything better about the future than there is about today.

Each section of life, each season, each hour, each heartbeat, all comes with its own flavor.

Plus, I think I’ve made myself pretty unhappy lately reaching for the idea that something better is on the horizon. When I look forward too much, it puts me in endurance mode. If it’s going to get better sometime, someday, then I just need to fight my way through the tough parts so they’ll hurry up and be the past.

By Monica Allen

I guess I’m wondering if there is a better way.

What if, instead of telling each other, “It’ll get better,” we tried something else?

What if we just let ourselves feel whatever moment or emotion is there and really examined it… kind of soaked in it a bit… maybe let it burn if necessary and stopped trying to ignore it?

I’ve learned that sometimes when you try to ignore the hard things in life they start knocking on your door. You can put whatever music or podcast in your ears to pretend it’s not there, but the banging will get louder and louder and louder until you address it.

I think those of us who parent young kids spend a lot of time waiting for it to get better. When they’re infants, you’re waiting for them to sleep through the night. When they’re a little older, you’re waiting for them to be potty trained. Then, you want them to be in school. And then you’re tired of driving them to practice and rehearsals and you can’t wait for them to get their own car. And then… they’re gone.

They will be gone someday.

So, this is why I’m going to strive to change this mindset.

The it-gets-better mindset has gotten me into a bad pattern. It’s put me in a habit of using my strong work ethic to power through some hard days. It makes me ignore things instead of addressing them.

Please notice I’m not saying I’m going to cherish every moment or soak in all the beauty of their childhood.

I’m just going to acknowledge whatever is happening in the present and try to photograph it in my mind and hold it there tight for a moment.

Because they weren’t bad in the store today. They were sweet. They were happy. They were thrilled to be getting a toy. They were bursting with joy so much they could hardly keep still.

It was me who looked like I needed to hear it gets better. 

It was me.

And I’d like to change that.

The post I’m Changing My Parenting Mindset – No More “It Gets Better” appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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