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Summer Bucket List Ideas 

Bucket lists can fall into all types of categories; they can be once-in-a-lifetime experiences or a creative summer to-do list! If you have children at home this summer creating a Summer Bucket List with them can help you fill your sunny, summer days and even some of the overcast ones. Creating a list with your kiddos helps them take ownership of how they spend their time, helps you limit their screen time, and builds excitement and anticipation around your trips, projects, and events. You can even create multiple bucket lists; crafts, local events, local experiences or adventures, travel destinations, etc.

Summer Bucket List for Kids 

Here are some of my family’s favorite low-key bucket list ideas. (Although I would love to add learn to surf, tropical scuba diving, and helicopter tours to this list those are not practical for my young family right now.)

DIY Bucket List: make play dough, build and hang a bird house, paint rocks, tie-dye shirts, finger weave a necklace or bracelet, build a sandcastle, make homemade ice cream or popsicles, learn origami.

Local Events Bucket List: go to the farmers market for lunch, attend an arts fair, dance at a concert in the park, join the summer reading program at the local library, host your own local event with a neighborhood potluck.

Local Experiences and Adventures Bucket List: play putt-putt golf, rent a boat, paddle board or kayak, go to the drive in movie theater, visit mom and/or dad at work, check out the local museums, use the local hiking and bike trails, try indoor skydiving, check out the indoor trampoline gym, dive into the waterpark, community pool or playground splash pad, go roller-skating, check out the local bowling alley. 

Travel Destinations Bucket List: go to the beach, check out a local National Park, plan a trip to a theme park or two, spend the night in the city and do a local tour, visit the zoo and the aquarium.

Summer Bucket List 2019

Summer 2019 can be distinctive from last summer and the one previous. Each year your bucket list should reflect your kids interests and development. Pick opportunities that challenge them this year and push them out of the comfort zone. New challenging experiences will highlight how much they have grown over the year. Longer bike rides, new museums, more difficult hikes are only possible with their new level of maturity and athleticism. This will boost their confidence and allow you and your family to try new things while creating memories for 2019!

Shauna is a mom of two and works for Little Skye Kids Boutique providing amazing customer service!

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HOW TO START AN ONLINE BOUTIQUE

A Complete Guide

Thinking about starting your own online boutique shop from home? Here you’ll find everything you need to know to open an online clothing boutique in one place. This comprehensive guide is focused on starting an online children's clothing boutique, since that’s my market, but it’s easily transferrable to other kinds of boutiques.

How do I know any of this? I started a children’s and tween boutique - Little Skye - 11 years ago and built an e-commerce business and brick and mortar kids’ boutique in New Jersey. I've been doing this for a long time, and have learned a lot along the way.

 

BUYING 
How does buying work in the boutique children's clothing market?

  • In the kids’ boutique clothing market, most vendors presell their collections. This means that they sell their Spring 2019 collection, for example, in January of 2019, and ship what you ordered to you 4 months or so later after they produce it. You can see samples of the collection via reps and at trade shows, and sometimes online via B2B platforms.
  • Normally, vendors require that you have a minimum order of $x. Children’s clothing vendors sometimes require even that you order a certain number of pieces per size or style. Often you can choose these things, so you need to think about the size range you want to offer and how many of each size per style you expect to be able to sell at full price. 
  • What if you don’t order enough? Some brands offer reorders during the season, but many don’t have much stock, as they cut to order. So order what you think you will sell, and continually re-evaluate what you DO sell, as you will not be correct in your assumptions.
  • Generally, kids’ boutique clothes and gifts have a 2.0 markup. That means that you will buy an item for $20 and sell it for $40. Some have and enforce a slightly higher markup. This might seem like a lot, but after you factor in the cost of operating, the profit margin is very low. Unfortunately, many customers expect to pay half price or less for everything, not realizing that’s what you paid for it and that you also have to pay for the cost of running your business. Realize that once you start selling your goods for 30% off, you are breaking even if you are lucky.  This is not the era of mom and pop shops - it is the world of Amazon and shoppers are trained accordingly.
  • Unfortunately, most children’s designer clothes brands have only two seasons a year in terms of their production. This means they have one collection for Spring/Summer, and one for Fall/Winter. Look for brands that have up to 5 different deliveries per season. Molo Kids for example is one of our favorite brands for not only their super cool clothes designs, but also for their multiple deliveries. This gives you much needed newness on a regular basis. European clothing brands tend to have more deliveries than American brands.
  • Not all vendors will approve you right away. Some control their brands online and will not allow a new online boutique to order their clothes.   Things you can do to encourage brands in the future to accept you as a vendor? Make your website clean, organized and professional looking, so vendors want their products represented there. Develop a good reputation with other vendors for paying on time and being honest. Carry other brands that are similar in style and price to the ones you want. 
Where do you get children's boutique clothing at wholesale?
    • Go to the trade shows. For clothing, register at ENK Children’s Club and for gifts, register at NY Now.
    • Research the brands you want to carry and contact them ahead of time.
    • Locate the reps near you and contact them.
Choosing products for your online children’s boutique
    • Choose products and brands that suit your Don’t try to sell every style. Pick a style and stick with it. On Little Skye, we have an urban trendy kids’ clothes style, so we carry brands like Joah Love and Chaser Kids instead of brands like Mustard Pie and Dollcake. We wouldn’t try to sell them all on the same website, as they appeal to different customers.
    • Do your research! Don’t just sell what everyone else has. It’s already available, and it will not be easy to outrank everyone who already sells it. The less it’s available, the more chance you have. Look at other online boutiques to see what they offer and make a list of the brands and collections that suit your brand and business. Then, research the competitiveness of everything you think you might want to sell. For example, we started selling tween clothing and cool boy clothes, because we saw an opportunity years ago from a gap in the boutique kids’ market. Now these are some of our best selling categories.
    • Keep ahead of the trends! Luckily, we saw the move toward urban kids’ clothes before it started. This enabled us to pick up brands that were on the cutting edge before they stopped allowing new websites to carry them. Think outside the box and always look for new things that you customers might love. 
    • Mix designers to suggest cool outfit combinations to your customers! You can put a t shirt from one brand with pants from another.  This can introduce new designers to you customers, and allows for more mix and match opportunities. If you stick with a branded style, you'll find this to be pretty easy.  Appaman, for example, is easy to blend with other trendy kids' clothes brands.  Tween clothes brands like Izzy Be with its positive message tops and Tractr with its cool denim shorts and pants combine in a snap to create super cute tween outfits that no one else has.
    How do you order wholesale children's clothes once you found what you want?
    • At trade shows, you can place orders right there. We don’t recommend this, but you can. We suggest instead that you take pictures of the clothing combinations you like, and then process it all at home when you have time to think about it and when you aren’t under pressure. Send in your orders once you are confident in them.
      GETTING YOUR KIDS' BOUTIQUE ONLINE

      Assuming you have already purchased your domain (keep in mind that your url is very important for keyword ranking), and have legally named and organized your company, now you need to create a website.

      Define your brand

      Since you are a boutique, you will be selling other brands. But keep in mind that your business is also a brand, unified in what kids' clothes designers and which items within those designers' collections that you select. Take the time to write out your answers to these questions, and then refer to your answers constantly. 

      • What makes you different from all the other kids' boutiques online? 
      • How do you describe your brand? What do you believe about kids’ clothing?
      • How will you reflect your brand? Choose fonts, colors, and styles that clearly identify and distinguish your brand, then be consistent.
      Steps for opening your online children’s clothing store

      We use and recommend Shopify as an e-commerce platform. You can create your own theme, or have one custom made. Just make sure it is consistent with your brand. Shopify will help you develop your website – it’s very easy. We won’t get into web design here, as it’s a big field and can be discussed with your developer or with Shopify.

      On a very basic level, you need to at least do the following before you launch your newly designed website.

      • Make sure your site is mobile friendly.
      • Make sure your site speed is good for mobile and desktop.  
      • Optimize your home page and collection pages with a meta title and meta description, based on your keyword research.  See below sections if you don't know what this means.
      • Research your target client and know who she is.
      • Open your social media accounts and link them to your website.
      • Open a Google Analytics account and learn how to use it.
      • Use only the Apps you really need. They slow down your website and are often superfluous.
      • List your products.
      • Make sure your business social media accounts are linked to your website.

      6 steps (in order) for listing your products online.

      1. Create a spreadsheet for your products and load it to your website.
      2. Collect images for the items. If the vendor does not provide images that fit your web design, get samples and take them so they match everything else on your site. Whenever possible, offer alternative views of your products to customers. This allows them to really know what they are buying. Whenever possible, show the fit of the product on a model. RESIZE your images for optimal web size. RENAME your images using the name of the item. Load your images.
      3. Create a compelling description for your product. Make sure the tone of your copy reflects your brand. DO NOT COPY content from anywhere, even if the brand has descriptions. Include information the customer might be thinking they want to know, i.e. fabric content, washing instructions, and sizing notes.  Remember that they are buying for their kids, and they can't see what they are purchasing.  They will need to know if a sweater has wool in it for kids with fabric sensitivities.  Or if pants have an adjustable waists for their tall, thin boys.  Or if they have to hand wash a dress, which they have no time to do.
      1. Write your alt image tag, meta title and meta description. See the corresponding section about on-page SEO for more information about how to do this.
      1. Sort your products in an appealing way so that customers see what you want them to see.
      1. Create related products to suggest other items to customers. For example, link a cool boys’ graphic t shirt to some matching pants options and some other similar tees.

      Now you've got everything listed and you're ready to launch.  Your goal is always sales. To get sales online, you need TRAFFIC and CONVERSIONS. Because you need conversions, you don’t need any random traffic - you need high quality traffic.

      How do you get traffic?

      KEYWORDS

      First, start researching keywords.  This is how you get found on Google.  Find the keywords that are the most relevant and have the most volume for all of the pages on your website. Think to yourself - if someone wanted to buy what I have on this page, what might they type in as a search?  Then try to get more specific.  You'll be surprised how many different ways people can type in something like "kids boutique clothing," so there are lots of keywords from which to choose and you want to use as many as are relevant.  Ideally people who click on your website want what you have and don't leave immediately because they ended up on the wrong website that doesn't have anything they want.  

      Don't pick words (think of them as phrases even though they are called keywords) for which you have no chance to rank, like "girls' dresses."  It's too big and you'll never compete with the large companies that rank for it. Pick SPECIFIC and RELEVANT phrases. What kind of girls' dresses?  You might try to rank, for example, for "boutique dresses for girls."  You can use any variety of keyword tools to research keywords - just Google "keyword tools" and pick one.  

      Once you choose your keywords, divide them among your pages.  Don't try to rank for the same keywords everywhere.  Make them specific to the content on your page.  Don't for example put "kids' boutique" on your girls dresses collection page.  That belongs on your home page if you want to try to rank for it.  Your dress related keywords belong on your girls dress page.

      Finally, make a plan for tracking your keywords with a tool like SEMrush.  This way you can see if you make any progress with your rankings.  You can even tag your keywords into collections - for example those related to girls, boys, tweens, babies, toddlers and so on.  

      What do you do with these keywords once you have them?  Keep reading!

      ADWORDS

      You can get traffic from Google Adwords if you want it fast, but you’d best know what you are doing or you can lose a lot of money even faster.  What is Adwords? If you type in something you want to find into Google (a search query), you will see ads come up as the first listings.  You'll see a little box saying it's an ad. This means a boutique used Google Adwords to bid on that keyword.  For example, a business decides to try to get traffic for the keyword "kids boutique clothes." See below, where Mini Ruby and Hana Andersson have bid on the keyword that is typed into the search box, creating a clickable ad. They made an ad campaign saying they will pay x amount of money per click for that keyword.  This means that if someone clicks on their ad, they pay Google Adwords (whether or not the customer buys anything). Read up about Google Adwords before you even try to use it.  There is a lot to learn.

      SEO

      You can also get traffic from SEO (search engine optimization). These are organic search engine rankings.  Back to the example, you are again looking for "kids boutique clothes."  Google's algorithm says - what website out of the thousands that use this phrase best answers this person's search query?  Google's algorithm changes constantly, but if you can be in the Top 5 listings that appear for this keyword, then you get more traffic for it.  If you aren't on page 1, you have almost no chance of being found.  It's like being on Madison Avenue or being on a farm in Kansas.  People see you or they don't.  Here is an organic search result for kids boutique clothes in which our website Little Skye Kids Boutique appears.  This is not an ad, but an organic search result.

      On-page SEO is free (sort of and if you do it yourself - there are many aspects of SEO that you'll have to pay for in one way or another), but not when it comes to your time. You’d do well to learn very quickly and comprehensively how to do SEO. It's what I spend most of my time doing.  Google is very content focused, and needs to see your pages as both authoritative and relevant. You can read endless articles about this. It takes a long time to build your organic rankings, and it’s not easy. There is a lot to learn. And it can crash in a hot minute if Google does an update and you aren't doing things right.  SEO has many facets - including but not limited to on-page optimization, content, technical SEO, and link building. Here are a few good articles about SEO.

      SOCIAL MEDIA

      Social media marketing is a huge field, so you'll need to read up on this as well.  You already know to create at minimum a Facebook and Instagram account for your business.  You need to take the time to learn how to use these forms of social media to start to promote your business and build a following.

        EMAIL MARKETING

        This will become one of your largest sources of sales, so be sure to develop a program for capturing emails from visitors to your website.  Discuss this with your web developer. Once you have developed an email list, you'll need to start learning about email marketing and using a mail sever like MailChimp to design and send your email campaigns.

        _______________________________________________________________________

        Now that you've curated your products, listed them on your website, and made your best efforts to get some traffic, you're on your way!  We'll leave you with 5 tips for selling children's boutique clothes online.

        5 tips for selling boutique children’s clothes online
        1. Organize the brands you have ordered and when they are expected to ship. Create a calendar of releases for yourself, so that you have newness for your customers every week. 
        1. DO NOT presell everything you have all at once. Many boutiques will list for presale all items they have months before they are expected to get the items, to generate cash flow. This hurts not only the boutique, but also the business. There is no newness for the customers, and products sit for sometimes 60 days before they are even in stock and before the season in which kids can wear the clothes. Then the clothes have to go on sale since they’ve been available for so long for presale. It brings down the value of the entire business and we do not recommend it. Customers also get very anxious waiting for their clothes for more than 30 days. 
        1. FOLLOW THE RULES. Many boutique owners will try to break the rules to get ahead. Many brands protect their own businesses by creating rules about how early you can list their products, how much you can discount their products and when, at what price you sell their products, and where/how you can sell their products. Do not break the rules. Aside from it being dishonest, it devalues brands and the entire kids’ boutique market. Many brands will pull their collections from you if you do this.
        2. Give good service.  Hire staff if you can't do it all.  And you can't do it all.  Make sure calls and emails are answered and customers are happy.  
        3. Ship quickly.  Customers expect very fast shipping in the world of Amazon, so keep up.

             

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              It can be hard to figure out how to have the perfect party for the birthday boy or birthday girl!  Kids vary so much in their interests, and each age comes with it's own set of challenges.  The key to a great birthday party is to plan ahead, and to keep it simple and fun.  Sometimes less is more when it comes to parties, and a great theme with a few party games and cool decorations can take the party to the next level, and take the stress out of party planning.

              Why Have a Birthday Party Theme?

              Having a party theme for the big day makes the party more exciting for guests, and helps them know what to expect.  It's also a lot of fun for kids to pick an theme, and it lets them show off their personalities. Themes can also gives guests an idea about what type of gifts your child might like, and what they're into.

              When party decorations and games are centered around a theme it makes planning the party easier because you have a focus. Sometimes choosing a theme can be hard, but there are so many creative ideas out there for inspiration!  Check out this Parents blog for some great party ideas, and this HGTV blog for simple, no-stress party themes that every kid will love. 

              Remember, there's no limit to your creativity when picking a theme!  One year my toddler was obsessed with Hot Wheels, Thomas the Train and the Cars movie...so we combined all those ideas and made our theme transportation vehicles.  We had cars and trains everywhere, and we put out a train table and some Hot Wheels tracks, and all of his toddler friends rejoiced. 

              I also have three boys with the same birthday, yep my twins were born on my older son's birthday.  So, finding a theme for a combined party can get tricky.  One year they all wanted a party based on different superheroes, so we kept our party crafts to making capes and designing face masks, and each kid got to pick a special superhero for their cupcake toppers.  One year our theme was animals and robots, which sounds weird, but turned out to be the most fun ever.  The kids got really creative and the games were wildly imaginative.  As a mom, it's not a theme that I would have chosen, but the kids had the best time ever!

               

              Our Top 10 Favorite Party Ideas

              1. Camping Theme- nature scavenger hunt, making s'mores, woodland creature impressions contest, make a scout badge pillow, hang out in tents, and give binoculars and flashlights as party gifts.

              2. Pajama Party- pop some popcorn and play a favorite movie, hang out and paint nails, have fun desserts, wear matching pajamas, eat a donut cake!

              3. Bake Shop Party- decorate cupcakes, wear chef aprons, sample all the sweets, and have fun with frosting.

              4.  Mermaid or Shark Party- mermaids and sharks are hugely popular, and it's easy to find mermaid and shark themed decor and gifts, pool toys, towels, and water game ideas.  Check out our Beach and Pool Gifts for inspiration!

              5. Star Wars- popular with boys and girls, little Jedi can wear robes, bring light sabers, and work on training drills and run through Jedi obstacle courses.  

              6. Karaoke Party- kids of all ages like this one, but especially tween girls. Put out some snacks, get a karaoke machine, and sing and dance the day away.

              7.  Baseball Theme- kids can wear jerseys, eat Cracker Jacks and peanuts, play a game of catch or hit the ball around, and cheer for home team.

              8.  Mad Science- there are all kinds of at home experiments that are easy to find and kid friendly, plus you can have fruit molecules, monster burgers, and make scientist ID badges.

              9.  Spa Day-  Paint nails, put on temporary tattoos, have a hair station, do face masks, sip on smoothies, and end with lots of little cupcakes.  We have non-toxic nail polish and temporary tattoos that kids love in our Gift Shop!

              10. Luau Party- this is fun with or without a pool, you can learn to hula dance, have a water balloon toss, eat pineapple and fun tropical smoothies, and listen to Hawaiian music or the Moana sound track.

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              Trader Joe's is my favorite store for affordable, unique grocery items my entire family loves! They have great snacks, time-saving sauces and condiments, wine, fresh flowers, interesting frozen items and more.  Below is a list of some of my summer favorites if you're wondering what to get at Trader Joe's.

              Some favorite Trader Joe's Items:

              1. Corn + Chile Tomato-less Salsa. Every time I go to Trader Joe's I have to buy a few jars of this salsa! It's great on taco salad, in burritos, in soup, with chips...my entire family loves it.  It's sweet and not spicy so even little kids love it!

              2. Spice blends like Garlic Salt and Onion Salt.  I don't know what Trader Joe's does to make these so much better than blends I find elsewhere, but they're doing something right! The blends are a mix of dried onion or garlic with salt and herbs and they are so good! I love the onion salt on top of eggs and the garlic salt on a piece of avocado toast. They're also great on roasted veggies or meats! 

              3. I always have a box or two of Trader Joe's seeded crisps in my pantry! They are the perfect complement for any cheese plate.  They change the flavors seasonally (the cranberry and pistachio combo at Christmas is the BEST!) and they add such a unique twist to an appetizer.  I love the Mango and Ginger Crisps paired with goat cheese and the Raisin and Rosemary Crisps paired with a parmesan.

              Best Items to Buy at Trader Joe's

              4. This next item is one of the best items to buy at Trader Joe's but it's only available in the summer so you should pick it up soon! The BBQ Rub and Seasoning with Coffee and Garlic is THE BEST! It pairs well with chicken, steak or pork and elevates a burger to something extra-special. I usually rub a thick layer into a meat about 20 minutes before grilling it and everyone goes nuts for it! We had it on pork tenderloin the other night with a big salad and it was a hit.  The coffee flavor is very subtle so that even smaller kids like it.

              5. Trail mix is the best thing to get at Trader Joe's. The prices are reasonable and they always have interesting combos of dried fruit and nuts.  This combo of almonds, cashews and cranberries is a favorite in our house. It's the perfect healthy snack to grab for days on the go!

              6. Trader Joe's Toasted Coconut Pancake Mix just tastes like summer! This is also a seasonal item so if you love it you should grab a few boxes. It's one of my favorite items from Trader Joe's because it helps create the perfect quick weekend breakfast everyone in the family loves.  We love the pancakes topped with bananas and macadamia nuts- it tastes like summer! Trader Joe's has other seasonal pancake mixes year round.

              What to get at Trader Joe's

              7. If you're wondering what to get at Trader Joe's, cat cookies are a great place to start. Cat cookies have been a staple in our house since my oldest (now 15!) was a toddler. They're chocolate-y and crunchy and kind of addictive.  While I would never call them a health food, they do have less sugar than most other store-bought cookies.

              8. Trader Joe's has the best hummus! We always have the one pictured below in our fridge.  My 7-year-old loves hummus and this one isn't spicy with extras in it he doesn't like.  The other hummus flavors I love are olive, jalapeño or mediterranean.  These aren't a hit with the younger kids in my house but the adults and teens love them.  We pair hummus with carrots, cucumbers and pretzel slims.

              9. This pizza crust is one of the best items to buy at Trader Joe's! It freezes well and it's seriously as easy and ordering delivery pizza to pop in the oven for a few minutes.  Each pack comes with two pizzas that are the perfect size for my family of 5 paired with a salad.  We like to top ours with mozzarella cheese and sauce or pesto, goat cheese and roasted veggies. 

              10. This refreshing Mint Watermelon Tea is one of my favorite items to buy at Trader Joe's in the summer.  It makes an amazing iced tea and comes in the cutest little tin. It's naturally sweet so it doesn't need additional sweetener.  This is also a seasonal item so if you want to try it you should get to Trader Joe's soon!

               

              Trader Joe's is a fun place to shop and I love how they always have new items to discover. Share your favorites from Trader Joe's in the comments!

              Jessica works at Little Skye Kids Boutique in e-commerce and social media.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and three kids.

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              For my family, Father’s Day seems to get lost on the end of the school year/ beginning of summer shuffle. If you have a similar issue, hopefully these eight ways to celebrate dad on Father’s Day helps you plan a memory-filled day this year.


              Determining how to spend the day can provide the framework for your family’s celebration and gift ideas. Father’s day activities should be based on dad’s idea of a great day.

              1. Does he like nature? A family day hike with the gift of a new personalized water bottle.

              2. Sports? A day at a local ballpark and gifting everyone in the family a pack of baseball cards to result in an epic trading event.

              3. Bike riding? A family bike ride to a local ice cream spot and a new bike maintenance tool for a gift.

              4. Photography? Everyone gets a disposable camera and a picnic lunch is brought along to an outdoor shoot.

              Choose an activity and create a celebration around that theme. Stepping up your game to more than a BBQ allows your kids to join in and feel invested in the day.
               


              5. Fathers Day gifts can be cliché, embrace the world’s best dad mug! Dads have a way of achieving superhero status in the eyes of their children, so let’s honor that. Novelty gifts of socks and logo dad tees can be perfect for this holiday.

              6. Tickets or coupons to be redeemed in the summer for 1X1 days with a kid are wonderful too! A dad and me dates to a summer concert, movie, or baseball game give dad and child something to look forward to and build memories around.

               
              7. Of course handmade cards and art projects are simply heart melting! These types of projects work well if you can provide some framework and supplies and then let the kids do the project. Encourage them to write or draw about their favorite memories with their dad. Or complete the phrase “my dad is incredible because…” or “my dad is like a superhero since he….”or “my favorite thing about dad is that he…”
               

              Please note: feel free do substitute grandpa for dad in any of these suggestions!

              8. Father’s Day brunch is a fantastic way to start a late morning. A build-your-own Bloody Mary bar complete with bacon, pickled veggies, and even mini sliders are sure to be well received by the over 21 crowd. Other build-your-own ideas for breakfast include omelets, tofu scrambles, or oatmeal. An overabundance of topping choices adds to the celebratory feel of the morning. Of course if you already have an activity planned for the day, coffee and fresh donuts are a delicious way to start off the morning too without much effort.   

               

              You can “hit it out of the park” this year with any combination of the above ideas. Enjoy celebrating the unique qualities and fatherly love that makes the dads in your life so special to you and your kiddos.

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              Juggling it all can be so hard sometimes! With three kids at three different schools, loads of extracurricular activities, and two parents who both work full-time, my husband and I feel the stress daily of trying to get it all done and raise happy, good humans! I think there is a unique pressure on mothers to get it all done.  All of the "extras" like school projects, birthday party gifts, shopping, and meals often fall on moms.  Honestly, there are a lot of days that I barely get through.  And other days it goes a little better.  When I remember and do the things on the list below regularly, days go smoother for everyone in the family.

              Working Mom Tips 1. Establish a morning routine.

              This is non-negotiable in my house and it runs like clockwork (in large part because of my amazing husband!). All three kids pack lunches and prepare their backpacks for the next day the night before which makes our morning so much smoother.  Each child has a specific wakeup time (extra early for my teenage daughter who needs time to primp, later for my two boys). And all three kids know what's expected of them in the morning.  We find that frequent reminders- "15 minutes until it's time to go!" "10 minutes left!" really help keep us on track.

              2. Don't waste time.

              This sounds like such a cliche but it's true! Smartphones are so handy in so many ways but also can take away hours of our time every day and make us miss opportunities to connect with our kids. We have a "no phone" rule at dinner (which applies to teenagers too!) and I've tried to be super conscious of my phone usage.  I removed apps that take time away and don't really add value to my life.  I enjoy social media but I've also taken that off my phone for periods of time to break the habit of constantly checking in.  If I do have extra time in a day that's being wasted on social media, I would much rather consciously do something I really enjoy like read a book or have a glass of wine with my husband. This is one that I have to constantly remind myself about and stay on top of or it's very easy to fall back in the habit of too much phone time.

              3. Create a meal plan for the week.

              I'm a huge meal planner! It really keeps me sane and keeps us from eating out, which gets more and more expensive as my kids get older.  I shop at Costco once or twice a month and stock up on all the staples we eat regularly- sandwich bread, lunch meat, cheese, tortillas, snacks, frozen meats and canned goods.  Once or twice a week I will sit down and plan out our dinners for the next several days and then run to the store to get what we need to make those meals happen.  If I'm super busy, I use a grocery delivery service and it's worth every penny if it keeps us eating healthy foods at home! When I cook a meal, I usually cook extra for either another dinner or for lunch leftovers.  Like I might grill chicken to have for dinner one night and I'll grill twice as much as we need and then we have meat ready for tacos later that week on a super busy night.  When my kids were younger I was worried about not using food when I cooked extras but now that I have teenagers that's never a problem!

              4. Shop online.

              Things have changed so much since my 15 year old was a baby.  Technology and online shopping have come a very long way in that amount of time and it's never been easier to get what you need (quickly!). I shop online for pretty much everything we need- clothes, school supplies, toiletries, vitamins, birthday gifts, and more.  It's such an easy way to save time if you plan ahead to get it before you need it. I use Amazon for lots of household basics, and I like Nordstrom for shoes for everyone in the family (plus returns are so easy!). Of course my favorite kids boutique to shop for kids trendy clothes and cool clothes for boys is Little Skye!

              5.  Say "no".

              It's ok to say "no" sometimes. Even to things that sound like fun or that you want to do. As my kids get older, it gets harder and harder to preserve "family time" or just normal nights at home without a ton going on.  I've started blocking out a few days or nights a month and said "no" to any offer that comes along on those evenings.  I tell my teens they have to do the same.  Preserving that time is not easy to do but sometimes it's so, so important and some of the best family memories can happen in those spaces too.  On Mother's Day, I told my husband and kids I just wanted us to all be home together.  We bbq'd dinner together and didn't have a schedule to stick to- it was the best! It's hard to make that happen sometimes but it's definitely worth it!

              6. Give yourself grace.

              This can be a hard one! So many of us tend to put so much pressure on ourselves to "do it all". It's ok not to though.  When I cut myself some slack I realize that sometimes it's ok to feed everyone turkey sandwiches for dinner. It's ok to let the laundry pile up and it will still be there when there's a little more time to conquer it.  It's ok to accept help from friends, husbands and even our kids. Your kids want a happy, healthy mom way more than they want perfection in you. It's important that we find what makes us healthy and happy and find ways to put time and energy into that too, not just our responsibilities.  I know my kids are watching me and I want them to see that being a kind, good human is much more important than perfection or getting it all done.

               

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              Why Mom Should be in Family Photos!

              Momma's, get in those photos!

              My friend and I were talking the other day and we both came to a consensus that we hated photos of ourselves.  And I know that this is something that we aren’t supposed to admit, because “yay women of all sizes are beautiful”, but I just need to be honest for a moment. When I first see photos of myself, one look and I decide that my hair doesn’t look right, I picked out the wrong clothing and that “shapewear” I purchased didn’t make me the right “shape”.  But then as time goes on, I look at those photos again and my heart starts to change. I don’t see the flaws quite as much and I start to notice the little moments that were captured between me and the kids.


               

              Kids care about mom being in pictures with them

              We have a habit of talking ourselves out of being in photos because of the way we look. Often, that self-consciousness will rob us of having photos that are more meaningful later! Kids don’t care what you look like, but they do care that you are present with them.  They immediately love seeing images of themselves, with mom right beside cheering them on. Your kids want to remember these moments of childhood. They don’t start to build long term memory until the age of about 6 or 7, and even then, some of the early childhood memories begin to fade (https://psychcentral.com/news/2014/01/26/whats-your-earliest-memory/64982.html). This means that so much of what makes up their childhood will be unreliable; the photos that we take with them and of them helps them to remember what their childhood consisted of.

               I love what I do as a family photographer, that includes so many amazing and sweet moments between family members.  But on a more serious side, there have been a small handful of clients who have passed away within a year of our sessions. The photos that we had taken together became the last photos that those children might have with their moms. I don’t say this to guilt anyone into taking a selfie with their kiddo this very day, but I do mention it so we can start to grasp how important it is that we start to allow ourselves to be in the photos with the kids, with the family and to start to participate in the documentation of the family memories.

              We have amazing cameras in our phones now, and they get used almost daily, so it’s time to think about what kind of legacy you’d like to leave for their childhood. Will you be present or not?


              How to take good pictures with your kids

              Things to consider

              1. When you are planning for a family photo shoot find clothing that flatters your body and that you feel confident in! Have someone take a quick photo beforehand so you can see how it looks in photos.
              2. Having kids on your lap, or in front of you if you still feel like you need to “hide” a little. This still allows you to be present, even if slightly hidden.
              3. Having the photographer zoom in or focus on moments! These are some of my absolute favorite photos that we get from our sessions!
              4. Reflect on some of your favorite moments or photos from your childhood, was mom in them?
              5. Hand the camera to someone who is with you - make sure you are intentional about this.  It could be when you are on vacation, at an event or just an everyday situation. If you don’t ask to have your photo taken sometimes it may never happen!
              6. Take a selfie with your kids - I know I feel loved and seen when someone wants me to be in a photo with them… I imagine that your kids feel the similar! They are proud of their parents and feel singled out when you want them to be in a photo with you.

              So, to put money where my mouth is....here is the latest photo of my and my babies.  We were camping, zero makeup, post bike ride and pre fishing expedition but loving on my kids and letting the moment be the moment.  I relinquished the camera to my husband and had the kids jump in to remember that they were small enough to fit in my lap!

              I hope this information is helpful as we round the corner and celebrate our Mom's on Mothers Day this year! 

              Devon is a children and family photographer from the great Pacific Northwest and a photographer at Little Skye Kids Boutique. You can see more of her work at www.devonmichellephotography.com

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              Top 25 Easter Gifts for Kids

              Easter is such a fun holiday.  It's in the spring, when everything is new and fresh and in bloom. There's something about colorful flowers, pretty spring dresses, bunnies and chicks and warmer weather that just makes us happy.  Finding little surprises to delight our own kids is so much fun, and we had a blast putting together a selection to help you do the same on Easter morning! We're proud of our Easter gift ideas for kids and can't wait to hear what you think! There's something for literally everyone- we have Easter gifts for babies, Easter gifts for toddlers, Easter gifts for girls, Easter gifts for boys and Easter gifts for tweens and teens.

              Here are our

              top gift choices for Easter 2019:

              1. Moulin Roty Magic Butterflies. Turn the wings of these beautiful printed butterflies, slip it in a book or card, and watch it flutter out when opened for a delightful surprise! Comes in 4 pretty colors!

              2. Meri Meri Bunny Necklace. The perfect non-candy Easter basket stuffer, this little pouch necklace has a white felt bunny sweetly sitting in a glittery pink pocket. Hung with a pretty pink enamel bead chain.  Take the bunny out as a little toy, and put anything she likes inside the pouch!

              3. Meri Meri Bunny Hair Slides. Pin back wispy bangs or secure buns and other hairstyles with this sweet hair accessories. Pretty pastel bunnies all lined up in a row are beautifully crafted from enamel with gold tone slides. 

              4. Moulin Roty Storybook Torch. Create an adventure with one of our favorite imaginative toys.. Pictures appear on the wall through the flashlight, and kids develop the tale.  Encourages imagination, literacy, and language skills. This lamp is easy to use: insert a disc into the lamp, switch on the lamp, and project the images onto a wall or ceiling. Turn the disc to continue the story.

              5. Meri Meri iron on patches- we have butterfliescacti, and flowers.  Let her decorate her clothes with one of our Meri Meri iron-on patches. Perfect gift for creative tweens and teens!

              6. Jellycat Bashful Cream Bunny. Bashful Cream Bunny’s gorgeous long ears look like two big dollops of clotted cream. With a bunny pal as soft as butter icing, spring days are so inviting.

              7. Nailmatic Nail Polish Sets. The water-based nail colors are formulated especially for kids. No grown-ups allowed!  They go on easily, dry quickly, and—get this—they wash off with nothing more than warm water and soap. Available in a wide variety of colors and sparkles!

              8. Sunnylife Rainbow Harmonica. Take a break from the electronics and get musical!  This classic harmonica by Sunnylife gets them playing tunes in no time at all.  In cool retro rainbow colors that all kids love. 

              9. Meri Meri Cat Ears Hair Clips. These delightful cute kitty ear hair clips are designed so they stick up like ears when you clip them on!  Just purrfect for cat lovers.  Beautifully crafted from pink and black felt with sparkly metallic gold stitching.

              10. OOLY Totally Taffy Scented Gel Pens. Totally Taffy Scented Gel Pens are a pleasure for your writing and drawing needs and delights. Each pen lays down a steady sheen of wonderfully smooth and vibrant pastel color gel ink. The set includes six delicious pastel colors each with its own candy scent.

              11. Jellycat Chic. A ball of creamy-gold silky fluff, this chick is a pompom party animal. We love those squashy orange feet and perky matching beak!

              12. Meri Meri Jungle Sticker Roll. We're absolutely head over heels for this roll of charming stickers, full of bright and colorful jungle creatures and motifs embellished with shiny green foil. Perfect for boys and girls!

              13. Meri Meri Fruit Charm Necklace. This fab necklace by Meri Meri brightens up any outfit with color and whimsy.  It features colorful fruit charms in translucent acrylic, suspended on a neon coral cord with gold link chain and clasps.

              14. iScream Mermaid Sleep Mask. Bedtime is about to get a lot more glam! Our mermaid reversible sequin eye mask colorful, sparkly mermaid scales that flip with a swipe of your hand. Add a satin lining to all of that goodness and you have one seriously luxurious gift.

              15. Animals of the World Puzzle to Go. Kids can create a puzzle scene of their favorite animals right inside the airplane tray with this travel puzzle!  It comes neatly contained in a fabric bag, and pictures cool animals of the world including tigers, flamingos and koalas. 

              16. Maileg Mice.  This newborn mouse is sure to melt your heart.  Baby comes in a carrycot lined in florals, with blue striped blanket and pacifier. 

              17. Moulin Roty Animal Masks. For endless hours of imaginative play, these colorful animal masks by Moulin Roty will delight.  Made of cardboard with elastic backs, they are illustrated beautifully by Julie Daleyden. 

              18. Temporary Tattoos by Inked. Look like the latest celebs with these tiny temporary tattoos for fingers!  Super cool and oh so trendy, they'll be a big hit with tweens and teens.  They come packaged in a cute little box for easy gifting.

              19. Princess Unicorn Magnetic Figures.  This set includes 6 princesses with different skin and hair colors, lots of mix and match magnetic outfits to dress them up, and 4 play scenes.  This toy is perfect for trips, restaurants, and quiet play time. 

              20. Lola and the Boys Sunglasses. These fun, cool sunglasses will be a hit with any little girl.  They go with everything and add style and flair to her looks while keeping her protected from the sun. 

              21.Touch and Feel In the Garden Puzzle.  This puzzle introduces problem-solving to young, developing minds in the most delightful way. Textured pieces make each puzzle a unique and fun sensory experience for toddlers.

              23. Meri Meri Pear Baby Rattle. A sensory toy like this little rattle is a great Easter basket addition for any new arrival. In the shape of an adorable pear, this soft rattle is crafted in organic cotton, decorated with embroidered stitching, a shiny gold stalk and crocheted leaf, with a soft noise rattle inside. 

              24. Lip Glosses. Made with moisturizing Vitamin E and no Phthalates, this lip gloss is happy to make your lips smoother and moisturized but also happy to bring a smile to your day.

              25. Ban.Do Water Bottles.  Tweens and teens love this water bottle with personality! It’s perfect for on-the-go hydration with some extra sparkle.

              If you need help putting together a custom Easter basket that will delight and surprise your kids on Easter morning, please contact us at customerservice@littleskye.com. 

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              Something for Everyone!

              Remember the days of dressing little girls in fun styles that you loved, and they loved everything that you picked out for them?  Well, those days may not be over, but tweens definitely have some strong opinions of their own on what they like to wear.  That's why Little Skye has expanded their Tween Clothing to include options that everyone can feel good about.  Our secret to success is the daughters of Little Skye, who keep us up-to-date on trends, and let us know exactly what they think about clothes.  The other part of the secret is that we're moms too, and we want clothes that fit right, feel good, and let kids be kids...while looking their best!

              Cute Dresses for Tweens

              At the moment, Little Skye is bursting with colorful dresses for spring and summer.  Whether you need a casual dress for a trip to the beach, or a more formal or party dress, we have you covered.  There are tee shirt dresses, tank dresses, and everything in between in our Tween Casual Dresses Collection, with trendy sunshine, rainbow, and ice cream prints.  You can find vibrant Appaman, tropical Sol Angeles, favorite Paper Wings prints, creative Molo, and beautiful everyday Joah Love dresses for tropical trips and summer picnics. 

               

              Tween Trendy Clothes

              Little Skye makes it easy to keep up with tween clothing trends and shop with confidence.  What's on trend with tweens right now?  Tween Rompers are a bit hit because they're comfy, and just perfect for hot summer days. Rompers can be retro, colorful, and even sophisticated...just right to match her many moods.  Also popular are tween shorts with pretty design elements like trim, ties, glitter patches, and scallops. 

              Rainbows also continue to be a best-seller, with bright colors streaming across everything from dresses, to tanks, to lounge pants and gifts.  Rainbows are vibrant and fun, and look great in pastels and on vintage items too.

              However, the very best thing about summer is vacation, and Little Skye has everything you need to go into vacation mode. We have so many tropical options for boys and girls, and bathing suits that tweens will adore.  Perfect for an island getaway or jungle adventure, these clothes are patterned in palm fronds, pineapples, flamingos, mermaids, toucans, and beach waves.  We also have fun summer tween gifts like pool floats, beach totes, phone cases, water bottles, and bandeaus that are great for tweens to take on trips.

              Most Popular Tween Brands

              Our most popular tween clothing brands tend to have all the basics, but with fun details.  For example, Ragdolls and Rockets focuses on side ties, twist fronts, playful cuts, and crop tops that aren't too cropped, but are just right.  Izzy Be has pretty clothes that have messages with meaning, like "be brave," "love is kind," and "optimism."  We also have favorite brands like T2Love for colorful trends, Chaser for super comfortable fabrics and pretty style, Tractr for fun denim, and Tiny Whales for retro rompers and vintage tees.  So don't be afraid to shop with your tween and find her style, Little Skye is here for you!

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              Rain, rain, go away… as often as I want to be the parent that bundles up my kids and sends them outdoors in any type of weather, I’m not. We do our fair share of puddle jumping, but some days are just too wet or my kiddo is not feeling 100%. Raising kids in the Pacific Northwest has allowed me to gain insights and strategies for successful indoor play. PS- I deem “a successful day” as minimal screen time and no major meltdowns; some days it is simply all of us making it through the day.

              How to cure cabin fever

              Have a strategy. Period. The days that I think, “oh we will see how it goes” or “everyone will find something to do” the kids start pushing buttons almost immediately. They are bored so they go after each other. “Mommmmm… sis ate all the cereal on purpose.”  “Mommm….he is poking me in my back.” On and on and on. While sipping my morning coffee, I devise a strategy and a backup plan. I am not an arts and crafts mom, but I can get my kids engaged and all of us through a rainy day at home successfully.

              Get kids involved in an activity, then check in. An author much smarter than me once pointed out that taking a couple minutes to check in with kids will help them stay engaged in an activity. I have definitely tested this and found it works 90% of the time! If my daughter is playing with her play kitchen and it has been about 15 minutes, I will go into the playroom, get on her level, and ask what she is doing. My 3-5 minute conversation with her will allow me to leave the room and she will keep playing by herself for another 20 minutes! I’ve tested this with Legos, playdough, and coloring too.  If I get either of my kids started on an activity and connect with them before they get bored, they will play longer!

              Rainy Day Activities for Kids

              I appreciate minimal prep activities. Fort building is an absolute favorite in my home. I can pull out the sheets, kitchen chairs and stools, and my children are in heaven. They compromise, design, and build then engage in pretend play! Remember bag clips work well in helping the sheets stay in place. Once the fort is built and they have been playing for a while, I’ll bring them a snack, books, or coloring that can be done inside the fort earning myself bonus independent playtime!  

              Making playdough on the stovetop is surprisingly easy. A trick I learned from a crafty mom is that you make it without any food coloring and then the kids can use markers to color the playdough. Genius! Kiddos love playing with the fresh dough and there are so many things they create when they can color and shape it.

              Another favorite rainy day activities that I have found is making hot cocoa and then engaging in reading time by a window to watch the weather. True this one takes more effort on my end, but I want to develop in my kids an appreciation of the different seasons and the small pleasures we can take when we are forced inside. Besides everyone needs an excuse to eat handfuls of marshmallows sometimes.

              Finally my tried and true, calm down the indoor chaos is bath time. Depending on the age of your kids and the size of your tub this can be an individual or group activity. The secret to getting my kids to hop into the bath is glow sticks! I have never been told no or had any resistance when I pulled these out. With or without bubbles a bath with a couple of glow sticks has been a favorite for my kids for years. Bonus; turning down the lights to see the glow sticks and the warm water of the bath instantly reduces the noise level in my home.

              List of Indoor Games

              Limiting my kids screen time on a waterlogged weekend is a challenge, but these are a couple of my favorite indoor games that work with a variety of ages and differing number of participants.  Hide N Seek- boom!  My easiest, go to activity- period.  My kids love this game and they are surprisingly patient with the each other’s ability to hide and seek. They give clues and/or pretend it is more difficult than it is. This is an easy game for me to join in too or step out of to take a phone call or return a text message.

              Puzzles are a true gem in the indoor game arena. They are great as independent activity or as a cooperative play. They teach spatial skills, problem solving, and help develop fine motor skills. Everyone can work at their own pace!

              A Memory game has so many variations. Of course you can use a box set, but my kids really like more creative ways of playing. Recall the object memory game that you maybe played at a bridal or baby shower?  You set out objects then cover them up and remove one, and then you try to recall what is missing. That is the version that works well in my home. We adapt the objects and the amount do items depending whose turn it is. Be warned this game can get silly and of course they love it when they can stump me.

              Rainy days at home are best when they are embraced with a bit of planning and acceptance that they will take engaged parenting. A little prep and forethought will allow for both independent play and family time. Please comment below any of your favorite indoor activities. 

              Check out all of our unique, imaginative kids gifts for boredom busters any time of year!

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