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I choose to teach my kids responsibility and life skills through chores.  This is part of my parenting style.  This is a list of 16 age appropriate chores for 6 and 7 year olds my daughter does, or is capable of doing (mostly) on her own.

Yes, I have my children do chores.  And I certainly started gearing their little brains to understand that their help around the house is expected and valued.

From the time my daughter was just a toddler, I started allowing her to “help” me with little chores.  She loved putting laundry in the dryer or pulling it out of the dryer and putting it in the basket once it was dried.  She eventually graduated to “folding” (crumpling up) her own laundry and “making her bed.”  Even my son is now doing some of the same toddler chores his big sister used to do at his age.

I grew up doing chores at home.  And, when spending time at my grandparents’ house, I did some there too.  I, of course, hated it as a child.  As I grew up and moved out on my own, I realized my family had done what they could to prepare me for adulthood … the real world.

So, the thought never crossed my mind that giving kids chores was frowned upon these days until social media let it be known that I wasn’t supposed to have kids to make them do my chores.

Well, I’m not in that camp.  You see, I realized the lessons I learned from my chores and there are things I want my kids to get out of life.   I want them to be prepared for going to work and doing adult things when they leave the house (because that’s my ultimate goal … raise my kids to leave the house!).  And, according to Very Well Family, “…giving your child chores may be one of the most important things you’ll ever do.

If you’re in the camp for giving your children chores, then you’re going to love this list of age appropriate chores for 6 and 7 year olds.

Chores my 6 year old does

Make Bed

Set table

Put dishes by the sink

Clean her bathroom tub, toilet, and sink

Clean room and put away books

Feed the dog

Extra chores when she wants to earn more money or when she earns a consequence for bad behavior

Some of these chores I’ve included as consequence jar ideas, but there are times my daughter will ask what more she can do to earn an extra coin or two.  These chores aren’t part of her regular routine, but help me greatly when the situation calls for it.  Some are just listed here because they make completely acceptable chores for 6 and 7 year olds.

Help with dinner

Clean windows

Fold and put away laundry

Vacuum

Vacuum the couch

Mop

Dust and clean coffee table

More chores she’s capable of

Empty mini-trash cans

Water Plants

Help make lunch(es)

Tell me: What do you recommend as chores for 6 and 7 year olds? Pin Me:

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Weighing the pros and cons of Airbnb vs Hotel and why we (almost) never stay in hotels when we travel as a family.

We rarely rent hotel rooms anymore, but it’s not that we don’t travel.  We do.  It’s just that traveling with two kids who can’t seem to sleep if they’re in the same room with each other is a nightmare.

It started when our daughter became a 12-hour a night sleeper.  My presence in her room kept her awake, no matter how much I did to get her to relax or ignore her.  So, we began upgrading to a suite when we traveled.

Then, the second was born and the problem was exacerbated.  I now how two babies who would sleep through the night, unless they were bed or room sharing.

Upgrading to an even larger hotel room was either impossible or far too expensive to even consider.  So, travel was limited when it came to the family, because who wants to be up all night with kids who can’t settle down?

So, instead, we opted to use Airbnb for the majority of our travel needs.  Aside from sleep, renting homes on Airbnb offers more benefits to our family.

Pros and Cons of Airbnb vs Hotel

1. Sleep

As I’ve already stated, sleep doesn’t come easily for my two kids if they have to share a bed or room with anyone.  When we put them in their own rooms, they go to sleep more easily and everyone can sleep more soundly.

Renting a home on Airbnb allows me to find a place where each child can have their own room, making Airbnb a superior option.

+1 for Airbnb

2. Cost

Generally speaking, we’re able to find 3 and 4 bedroom homes on Airbnb for about the same as you’d pay for a single room at a hotel.  Once you start factoring in upgrading to a suite of some sort, it’s easy to go over budget.

A hotel room with extra rooms may be cost-prohibitive for families, but homes with the extra rooms can cost about as much as (maybe a little more) than a single hotel room.

+1 for Airbnb

3. Space

Unless you’re renting a suite at a hotel establishment, space is an issue in most hotel rooms.  Even some of the suites can be relatively small.

And, we’ve been duped into upgrading to a “suite” at some hotels that were really just a small section of a room with an incomplete divider.  So, the section for the parents was extra cramped while the kid’s section was still open to seeing light, which just kept them awake anyway.

The space available in an Airbnb is typically going to be more family friendly than most hotel rooms, given these are generally homes and condos being rented out.

On a recent trip to visit Discovery Cove Orlando and SeaWorld with friends, my kids, and my dad, we rented a humongous 3 bedroom condo for about the same price as a single room in a hotel.  We all had space to spread out and enjoy the condo without being cramped in a room or have to rent multiple rooms.

+1 for Airbnb

4. Selection

Your selection is limited by budget, location, and availability.  Still, you can view pictures of each home, inside and out to determine whether or not you feel it will be suitable for your family.

I love being able to narrow my selection based on the price I want to spend, how many rooms and beds I need, and the amenities I’d prefer.

Most times, I seek out 3 bedrooms at a minimum, select the whole house options, and include Wifi in my options.  Generally, I also narrow down the area in which I want to say, so I’ll normally look for a rental by typing “Disney Springs” into the search bar to really narrow down the choices in a large city.

Given enough time and depending on the time of year, there’s always tons of options available to me.  Smaller towns may be more difficult to find much, but I think that depends on whether or not anyone rents out there … like the one time we tried to rent near Legoland and there weren’t very many choices.  But, I didn’t feel there were many hotel choices either.

+1 for Airbnb

5. Kitchen

If you’re on a budget, having a kitchen may be a great option for families who would rather make their own food instead of being forced to dine out for every meal.  When the youngest was a baby, having breakfast in our Airbnb rental was way easier and quicker, so we could move on to our activities sooner.  Even still, having breakfast in our rental saves us money for the rest of the vacation and we can eat what we like, without resorting to a hotel breakfast, which isn’t always fantastic, especially if one has food allergies.

+1 for Airbnb

6. Amenities

Here’s where I’m on the fence when discussing the pros and cons of Airbnb vs Hotel.  While most homes offer Wifi free with your rental, some don’t.  Sometimes the house you want doesn’t have a king sized bed.  Few rentals have a pool.  And, if you’d rather NOT make your own food, you don’t have an on-site restaurant or dining area, like most hotels do.

If there’s an incident and you need towels, you’ll get them from a hotel.  However, if the host of an Airbnb rental was a little more reserved, either you’ll have to look for towels or wash some.  And that’s the same with paper towels, toilet paper, and other everyday living essentials.

In most cases, we take a box of supplies with us, which you wouldn’t have to worry about with a hotel room.  But, we typically also always get a home with washer and dryer, which makes it easier for us to pack lighter.  In the event we need fresh clothes, we don’t have to leave the room to find a shared laundry room, we can just do laundry in the comfort of our own rental!

On the fence.

7. Quiet

While there are obviously some very nice hotels that aren’t obnoxiously loud, you’re bound to hear people a lot.

I can’t think of a time when we’ve rented a condo or home through Airbnb that we’ve had to deal with much noise or commotion.  Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about a hotel stay.  More often than not I’ve experienced some kind of noise or disturbance, even during late hours as I worried about whether or not one of my kids would be awoken.

I love that every one of our Airbnb stays has been quiet, just like home.

If, after weighing the pros and cons of Airbnb vs Hotel for your own family, you’ve decided to give Airbnb a try, you can get $40 in travel credit through my referral link!

Your turn!  Weigh in on the pros and cons of Airbnb vs Hotel renting for traveling families in the comments below PIN ME

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I always sing praises about my husband and I love to share  my ideas on a healthy marriage, but I feel like it’s important to share why I believe in prioritizing my spouse.  This is the benefit of putting my husband first.

It had been a rough week.  I migrated my site to a new hosting company and relieved my previous company of it’s duties early.  I then found out I wouldn’t be receiving a refund for the 3 years I’d pre-paid for.  That hurt.

I’d been keeping a secret vacation plan from the kids, which made it awfully difficult  to get them to try on their summer swim gear without tons of questions from the 6 year old.  Because I need you to be prepared for summer, damnit!  Okay, that’s what I wanted to say, but I toned it down by removing damnit!

I was making plans for the rest of summer vacation, ordering summer reading books for the oldest, printing things to keep them busy, trying to make plans for a second trip.  I’m trying to run this blog and a newish Etsy shop.  And, I’m doing all the mom stuff.

My kid’s last two weeks of school I realize I’ve been dropping the ball on a lot of stuff.

And then?  The dog’s recent excessive bum-licking turned into a bloody nightmare, requiring an unplanned visit to the veterinarian to find out she needed a minor procedure.  All the while, my darling son is crying, screaming, climbing chairs, turning off lights, throwing things, and trying to escape the room.  I can’t give the vet 100% of my attention.  All I can do is constantly apologize.  But, I feel like she already hates me and my kid. 

I don’t really blame her.  Being a toddler mom makes me crazy!

I have to make another run out of the house to pick up the dog.  This time, I get to tote the screaming banshee and a pouting 6 year old into the office to retrieve our dog who now requires 3 medications and constant supervision to make sure she doesn’t ooze anything on the floor or couch.

This day couldn’t be any more stressful.

I come home to an understanding husband who is cooking dinner for us, trying to lighten the load for me. 

I’m grateful …

But then, he wants to change up plans on me for the weekend.

The details don’t matter.  I tell him “at this moment, I just want to tell you f*** no! But, I’m in a terrible frame of mind right now.”  Of course, I have to explain everything I’m feeling.

I burst into tears.

He consoles me.  Talks me down from my proverbial ledge.  I’m told to sit down, take it easy, and he’ll plate everyone’s meals.

I begin to relax.

And I realize, in moments like these, I’m reaping the reward of having put my husband before myself and my kids.  Moments like these when I’m not thinking straight, incapable of taking on more, or having plans changed on me.  I can maturely speak my mind while also relaying the message that I’m not in the best frame of mind to make a well-thought choice in a matter.  I don’t offend him, I can speak freely, and he’s completely willing to listen to what I have to say … once I’m calm, anyway.

It’s these kind of moments when we can sit down and rationalize a conversation and he’s able to hear me because I’m not constantly nagging.  He knows I’m always trying my best to put his needs first.  And when I just feel like I can’t, he knows I’m not just being a bitch.

This is the benefit I receive.  When I just can’t deal, my husband listens.  He helps.  He consoles. He talks me down.  He’s understanding.  This, because deep down he appreciates me, even if he doesn’t say it often.  And, it’s moments like these I realize how little I need him to say it, because these big moments when I blow a fuse, he shows me in the most sincere way.  By offering his love, guidance, and shoulder to cry on …

… not to forget, a night I don’t have to cook and serve everyone else.

I really admire my husband for recognizing those sacrifices and showing his appreciation in this way!

Tell me: Do you practice putting your husband first?  What benefits do you see from if it you do? PIN ME

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Thinking about taking kids to SeaWorld Orlando?  If you’re considering travel with young kids and exploring SeaWorld, check out our thoughts on the kid-friendly entertainment first.

Admission to Sea World was included in the price of Admission for our Discovery Cove trip.  The day after we visited Discovery Cove, we headed out for a day at Sea World with the kids.

After the drama the kids caused at Discovery Cove, I told them I would be happy to bring them back to the condo to sit inside all day.  If they didn’t want that to happen, they weren’t to give us adults trouble at the park.

This time, however, I decided to head to the park with zero expectations.  The only thing I wanted out of the day was for the kids to enjoy themselves.  If that meant I only rode kiddie rides and viewed animals in the aquariums, that’s how it was going to be.

Amazingly, the kids’ attitudes were better at Sea World than at Discovery Cove, which is, honestly, somewhat annoying since Discovery Cove is where all the money was spent.

Here’s what you need to know about Sea World Orlando in 2018.

First, a confession …

I’m not informed or involved in the controversies or debates over SeaWorld Orlando.  That said, I’m not here to debate either side, but definitely believe there are more sides to the story than just the outrage people have with SeaWorld.

I’m a huge fan of zoos and aquariums, so I don’t get involved in the debates over whether or not I should support them and places like Discovery Cove or SeaWorld.

Confession: I don’t know enough about each side of the debate to make an educated decision on which side to stand.  I went because we had free entry after my father took us to Discovery Cove and I feel as if I frequent zoos or other aquariums, I can’t say I’m against SeaWorld.  And, that’s as much debate as I have in me over this subject *wink*.

Our Experience Taking Kids to SeaWorld Orlando in 2018 Food

When taking kids to SeaWorld Orlando, especially young children, you’re going to wonder about the food!

Kids may not eat much at one sitting, but they sure know how to snack, don’t they?

Go ahead and purchase the All Day Dining Deal!  At $35 for adults and $20 for kids, you’re likely to think this is outrageous.  However, when you pay $8 for a kid’s meal 3 times a day, you’ve more than paid yourself back.

To make the best use of the dining deal, plan to arrive at the park in the morning for breakfast and have lunch and dinner in the park.  There is one restaurant that opens at 9 am to serve breakfast.  With the 3 meals, you’ll have saved 4 dollars.   A full meal is available once per hour throughout the day.  We utilized our dining passes for snack times as well.

But, that’s not all.  Throughout the day, you can stop at any of the smaller kiosks for drinks.  Fountain drinks, ICEEs, and bottles of Dasani water were free.

Fair warning … if you have a toddler and believe them to be capable of eating enough throughout the day, go ahead and purchase the dining plan for them.  We hadn’t done so for my 2.5 year old and I regretted it because we either had to pay full price for his meals or share from our plates.  Personally, I eat a lot so sharing from my plate isn’t a feasible option.  Luckily, however, we had several kids and adults with us, so we let him pick off everyone’s plates.

Finally, be very careful to know what counts as a kid’s meal or you’ll be forced to pay full price for an adult meal if your child chooses something that isn’t deemed a kid’s meal.  On one occasion, my daughter wanted a fish sandwich and I hadn’t payed attention to realize that wasn’t available for kids on the dining plan.  When I placed the order for her in line, I pointed to her directly to let them know she wanted the fish sandwich.  Nothing was said to me until we went to scan our dining plan wrist bands and was then told her meal wasn’t covered.

Food Allergies

There wasn’t a single location in the park that we stopped at during the day that wasn’t able to accommodate my gluten allergy.  I’m not sure about the small snack kiosks, but all the restaurants had something for me.

In order to get allergy friendly menu options for yourself or your kid(s), simply tell one of the staff members about your allergy.  They will get a manager who will help to determine what you need and make a separate plate for you.  Usually  you get your food by the time you reach the end of the buffet line with the rest of your crew.

Kid’s Rides

One of the most important factors in determining if taking kids to SeaWorld Orlando is a good idea is whether or not they have enough rides to keep them happy.

When we went in June 2018, Shamu’s Happy Harbor was closed for construction, so some rides were not operating.  On the outskirts of the construction, we were able to find about 5 little kid rides.  While the tiny tot enjoyed the few rides we did, they were more like carnival rides.  Even the small kid roller coaster was down.

Because of the confusion with the closed down section, we often spent more time walking to find the rides that we did actually riding them.  This was a little frustrating, especially during the time the toddler was missing his nap and getting cranky.  Add the Florida summer heat, and we were all getting worn out.

Now, the oldest isn’t quite big enough to ride any of the bigger rides, but she just passed with Wild Arctic.  I’m not fond of the motion simulated rides because apparently I’m now getting motion sick on them (thank you, age).  But, my daughter absolutely loved this ride.

I’d be interested to see if there are any planned additions to the kids rides in the future.

Aquariums

The kids thoroughly enjoyed the aquariums scattered throughout the park.  When we entered the first one, I told our friends they were welcome to go enjoy the park on their own time.  I could tell we were going to spend a significant amount of time admiring the aquatic life in the aquariums and didn’t want to hold them back.

I allowed the kids to ooh and ahhh to their hearts’ content.  It made the day a little more relaxing than pressing on to find the next thing, which I really believe helped with the kids’ moods!

Staff

In light of the Happy Harbor closing, there seemed to be massive amounts of confusion among the staff.  On one occasion, a staff member told us that all the kids rides were closed.  After walking further, we found that wasn’t at all the case.

Additionally, I felt as though the staff is there to do their jobs and collect a paycheck.  Most aren’t happy or upbeat, which didn’t help the general mood throughout the park because it felt as if no one really cared.

At the end of the day, we ran into the fiasco with my daughter’s fish sandwich and I was given an attitude about the whole ordeal.  I tried to explain nicely that I pointed directly to my 6 year old when ordering her meal and hadn’t been told her request wasn’t an option for a kid’s meal.  Instead they argued with me and seemed as though they’d rather throw out the food that had been on the tray and let her cry.  It took requesting to see a manager to have it bypassed, but they weren’t nice about it at all.

While I admit I didn’t pay attention to the kid’s menu at that particular restaurant, I was taken back by the general attitude of the staff knowing they were going to have to throw the food in the trash if we chose to get my daughter a kid’s meal anyway.

Crowds

In general, the crowd was extremely low when we went during the first week of our summer break, on a weekday.  The one “big ride” we went on had no wait, aside from waiting for the staff member to open up and let us on the ride.

The kids rides that we ended up on had fairly short waits of about 15 or 20 minutes, though in toddler-time, it was an eternity.

Later in the day, we attempted to board the Empire of the Penguins, which had a 55 minute wait.  Because it was the last hour and a half of our day, we opted out and went searching for more scenic areas.  I knew my toddler son wasn’t going to handle an hour wait with any sort of composure.

Still, I’m unsure of what the wait times were like for the bigger rides, aside from the kid’s rides.  But the park, overall, wasn’t very crowded.

General Consensus

Because the kids seemed to enjoy themselves more thoroughly, it made the trip worthwhile.  I look at my pictures with some fond memories because they smiled and laughed quite a bit at SeaWorld.

If cost played into the day, at all, I personally wouldn’t consider returning to SeaWorld.  I felt as though, for the money, other parks have much more enthusiastic and helpful employees.

I also would have liked to ride more some big rides, but, that’s what I get for taking kids to SeaWorld Orlando, anyway.

Recap of Taking Kids to SeaWorld Orlando

Pros

Aquariums – Kids were in awe and spent a good deal of time viewing marine life

Affordability – Not as expensive as other popular theme parks and you can save on SeaWorld Orlando Tickets with Best of Orlando

Kids Rides – There are a few for little riders

Dining Deal – You can save more money by adding the dining deal to your SeaWorld Tickets and have all day dining and certain beverages!

Not as crowded as some other parks

Chances to learn about marine life and wildlife

Cons

Staff is just there to do their jobs – that’s the feeling I got from them

Little Kids Rides aren’t much better than carnival rides

You must be careful when choosing food options if you have the dining plan

With the construction in Shamu’s Happy Harbor, it’s really confusing to find the little kid’s rides

Tell me: would you consider taking kids to SeaWorld Orlando? PIN ME

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Ready to put your eager helpers to work? Check out how to make this DIY dry erase toddler chore chart.  Just want to print and go? Grab a free printable toddler chore chart with pictures!

After dealing with a bit of behavior issues with my three year old, I was feeling run down and enslaved.  By the time my husband came home from work, I was at the end of my rope with the kid.  I simply wanted to run from the house to return when she went off to college.  Sure, I’d miss the good times, but I wasn’t feeling like there were too many of them.

Finally, I’d had enough and knew something had to change.  I decided that I no longer wanted to hear “I want” and the ensuing tantrums when things didn’t go her way.  From now on, she needed to earn things.  I discussed with my husband my idea that she needed to earn the coins she was taking to bed every night, and we decided that we would tie in her behavior to learn to be responsible and respectful of us.  Most importantly, I wanted a FREE toddler chore chart that I could customize.  I admit, I don’t like paying for things if I don’t have to.  So, I created a chore chart for toddlers.  Then, I printed it at home and turned it into a dry erase chart, seeing as how I’m in love with making dry erase activity books.

Coming Up With the Dry Erase Chore Chart for Toddlers

After much thought, I decided on a few chores that weren’t hygiene related, as those need to be done without monetary incentive.  I’m not sure why most people believe a toddler chore chart should include hygienic activities.  Additionally, I found that giving a toddler chores early on becomes a huge sanity saver when trying to manage housekeeping.

Together, hubby and I devised a monetary reward system for the chores.  At the time, we wanted her behavior to be tied to the money she was earning, we decided generally how and when we would take away her earnings.  We give her check-marks through the day with a task completion and tally up the coins before bed.  Behavioral issues lead to loss of money throughout the day.

Implementing the chore/reward system went  “well” the first day.  By well, I mean that the first night, she lost all her coins for being disobedient and testy.  She went to bed the first night without a single coin, then proceeded to lose story time, and finally lost signing and cuddling time.  She learned from that first night that we were no longer messing around with her attitude, and that it was going to effect more than just mommy and daddy.  Surprisingly, because we had a decent plan set into action, I also had the least frustrating night for myself.  I finally had something to give and take away as a result of her good and bad behaviors!


*Disclaimer: Affiliate links are included in this post.  Making a purchase after clicking my clicks may earn me a small commission, which helps me to continue running this blog and bring you fresh, new content.Let’s get on to the chore chart making!  These steps will help you to make a chore chart for your child, which is appropriate and personalized for your child(ren).

Creating Your Printable Toddler Chore Chart 1. Decide on the chores you feel appropriate for your child.

At three, I decided my child was capable of making her bed, assisting with laundry (sorting and/or folding), putting her dishes by the sink, picking up her toys, putting away her books, and helping with dinner (she asks to help most nights anyway).  These are great chores for toddlers.

2. Open an MS Word document and create a table.

Create a table in Microsoft Word when you’re ready to start working on your toddler chore chart!

1 column for the chores themselves and 7 more for each day of the week.  I had 7 rows which included the title row and 6 chore rows.  To insert a table, click on the INSERT tab, then click TABLE.  Select a 7 row x 8 column table (or as many rows as you need). You can resize these after selecting images.  NOTE: Be sure to set your page orientation to LANDSCAPE for best results.

INSERT –> Table 7 Rows x 8 Columns

Your table will look like this:

What your chart looks like at first

3.  Create Headings.

In the first row, type in your headings.  Here, I chose to center and bold the column titles.

4.  Find Images for your Toddler Chore Chart.

Now, it’s time to find some images for your chart.  These are great visuals for your little learner to help understand their chores.  You may or may not decide to include a short word description of the chore in addition to the picture.  For now, I’m leaving that part off.  To insert images into each cell, click in the first cell you wish to fill.  Click the INSERT tab, then click Online Pictures.  Here, you will search for an image using Bing Image Search.  You’ll see my first chore will be “Make Bed” so that’s what I typed.  You may have to use a combination of search terms to find an image you like best.  Repeat these steps to find images for all the chores.

Searching for chore chart images

Completed Toddler Chore Chart in Microsoft Word

Here’s what my chore chart looks like with images.  Of course, yours may look a bit different, depending on the images you chose.  Note: I had to re-size images to try to get the rows somewhat even.:

5. Put some finishing touches on the chart before printing.

Add a line at the top with your child’s name, widen the columns and center the table on the page, etc.  Whatever makes your toddler chore chart special and personal to you!

6.  Print & insert into a smooth page protector.

I recommend Avery Diamond Clean Super Heavy Weight Sheet Protectors.

7. Use Dry Erase Markers to check off chores.

I use dry erase markers like those from Crayola.  Check off or draw smiley faces when your toddler completes a chore.

2016 UPDATE: We’ve since updated to the Melissa and Doug magnetic responsibility chart.  It’s still customize-able for most needs, and includes extra blank magnets for adding your own, less common chores.  Now that she’s 5, we’ve also devised a separate system to deal with behavior issues.  We now use the consequence and reward jar system to punish for bad behavior and reward for the good.  She can still earn her coins for the day by doing her chores, and we don’t pile negative on to the bad days by also taking away coins for the work she completed (unless her consequence slip happens to determine otherwise).

FREE Printable Chore Chart for Toddlers

Not interested in recreating the wheel?  Or you just like my chore chart?  Sign up for my newsletter for your own (editable) toddler chore chart printable with pictures for FREE download!

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Why I believe Desert Essence Anti-Breakage hair care is still important for the health and beauty of short hair.

I thought I was going to grow my hair out.  I’d even gone several weeks, maybe even a couple months, past my last hair appointment.

It wasn’t exactly by choice.  I’d been trying to decide between following my hairdresser after she moved or staying with the salon I’d been going to for several years.  You see, when I found my salon, I told myself I wasn’t going to chase another hairdresser down.

I really liked this girl and I seriously considered breaking that promise to myself.  But, it was a huge internal battle.

So, I let my hair start to grow, because I was having a hard time deciding!

With growing hair, I knew I was going to be using heat styling products more often to keep it looking like I cared.  But with that, I knew damage and breakage were going to become another concern.

Then, as the hairs began tickling my ears, I decided at the very least I need to have the sides and back trimmed up a bit.  I got there and suddenly, I realized I wasn’t ready to grow out my hair.

You see, I’m a crazy toddler mom and I need that regular visit to the salon as a break from the kids!

Still, I realize damage to my hair is likely, because I choose to have my hair straightened at the salon every couple months.  But what can I do about it?

Using Desert Essence Anti-Breakage Shampoo and Conditioner on Short Hair

Well, for starters, I know I want a better-for-you product that isn’t full of harmful chemicals.  That’s why I’m really excited about my collaboration with Moms Meet to share my experience with Desert Essence Anti-Breakage Shampoo and Conditioner.  Compensation was provided for this post, but all opinions expressed here are my own.

Okay, so my first confession is that I’ve never been all that concerned about what hair products I use.  I mean, aside from swapping out the really toxic grocery store brands for ones I have to locate at specialty stores (or online), I generally pick up a bottle of shampoo, sniff it, and go.  Of course, if it’s blatantly obvious it’s not meant for my hair concerns, I’ll rethink it.

As I age, however, I’m becoming more aware of how my choices affect everything I do.  And, while I used to buy shampoo for colored hair back when I dyed it, I was only doing it to protect the color, not so much my hair.

But, I know that’s not that right way to go about things.  So, now I need to pick things for specific purposes.  And, though I’m not growing my hair out, it doesn’t mean I should be protecting my hair from damage from occasional hair dryer use.  More importantly, the chemical straightening every couple months as I aim to maintain a specific style.

So how can I do this without conventional products?

Finding a product that lends itself to more natural ingredients can feel like a daunting task.  And, if you’ve grown up on the conventional grocery store brands, like me, you may be worried these products won’t do a good job.

But, fear not.  They can be just as effective as the grocery store brands and healthier for you, too!

Who is Desert Essence?

Well, let’s leave them to answer:

“As the first company to market Jojoba Oil and Tea Tree Oil in the U.S. — both popular staples in the beauty industry — Desert Essence has a 35-year history of bringing the best of nature to personal care regimens everywhere. Inspired by the desert and its rich, nourishing ingredients, we proudly formulate our all-natural skin care, body care, baby care and dental care products with health and sustainability in mind.”

What is the Desert Essence Anti-Breakage Shampoo, Conditioner, and Hair Mask?

This formula helps “minimize breakage and fall” with a blend of Country Life Maxi-Hair® plus Biotin, this breakthrough formula with Keratin and Pro-Vitamin B5.  Included in its ingredients are JoJoba, coconut oil, Aloe, and Saw Palmetto to make it smooth and fortified while still being manageable.

Will it smell funny?

Okay, I’m not going to lie.  Finding more natural beauty products has been a bit challenging in the smell department.  I’ve been turned off by the smells of some things because they smelled like dirt.  And there was no way I was going to bathe in something that made me smell quite that earthy.

Desert Essence isn’t my favorite smell, but it’s not so earthy that you can’t stand to be around yourself either.  While I don’t love it (and neither does my husband), I noticed the scent didn’t linger long after drying and styling my hair.

Of course, I also don’t have long hair, so I don’t have it dangling in my face to constantly smell it, either.  But, for a more natural shampoo and conditioner that has a mission to protect my hair, I’m not completely turned off by the smell either.

How do you use it on short hair?

As with anything, you don’t need nearly as much product for short hair as you would for long.

What I find is that a dime sized amount is perfectly suitable for my pixie cut, unless I’ve not washed my hair for a few days and it’s beginning to become extra oily.  In which case, I may lather on a second dose.

When it comes to the conditioner, because my scalp tends to show the oil more quickly, I rub a small amount in my hands, tilt my head over and try to rub it on the tip of my hair.  My aim is to apply the conditioner to the ends of my hair without touching my scalp or getting too close to the roots.

Afterwards, I remove excess moisture from my hair with a towel, then blow dry prior to styling.

Get Ready to Try It Yourself

Get 20% off Anti-Breakage and Smoothing Hair Care Products on desertessence.com with the promo code DELovesMomsMeet

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I’m lucky enough to consider my marriage a pretty strong one, even after 8 years!  It doesn’t happen without work, though, so I’m sharing some marriage strengthening tips I’ve learned in almost 9 years.

With marriages, issues can arise and they can be very complicated.  Few issues are simple when it comes to any relationship, really.  You’ve got two opposing viewpoints.  You’re two separate people trying to live in harmony together.  That takes time, persistence, and patience.

You can, however, nurture positivity in your relationship, which will help you both work through difficult situations in your marriage, together.

In just a few months, I’ll be celebrating my 9th Wedding Anniversary.  At some point I realized my, now, husband was the one I wanted to be with for the rest of my life.  My certainty arose earlier for me than him, I think.

Almost 9 years later, I’m more certain than I was back then that he is truly the one.

But, our marriage hasn’t always been easy.

For the first few years, learning to live together was really difficult.  We fought.  I wondered if we weren’t meant for each other.  We made up and we grew closer together.

Then we had children.  We fought.  We wondered if we made the right decisions.  We made up and we’re all learning to live together.

Through it all, we’re learning that the longer we stay and the more effort we continue to give, the stronger our marriage becomes.  We are triumphing, together, through difficult times while constantly strengthening our marriage.

Marriage Strengthening Tips to Use Now

There are plenty of surprising things I learned in 8 years of marriage.  Mainly, that marriage is more work than just being married.  It’s a commitment to choose love!  Still, there are things I’m constantly learning about marriage.  And, because my husband and I both believe our marriage is stronger now than it was ever before, I thought I’d share some marriage strengthening tips we’ve learned over the years.

1. Decide What’s Important

What’s important in your life?  If you want your marriage to remain healthy and positive, you have to decide your marriage is important.  Make it a priority!  Give your marriage the time and attention it needs.

Do regular check-ins and ask yourself “Am I giving my marriage enough time and energy to keep it strong?”

If you’re not sure, do a check-in with your partner!  Ask them how they’re feeling about the relationship and if there’s anything that could be improved upon.

2. Focus On The Positive

I used to get really irritated when my husband would put the silverware in the dishwasher “the wrong way.”  The more it happened, the more irritated I became.  Then, one day I realized I should be grateful he rinses his dinner plate and puts his plate and silverware in the dishwasher at all.

Recognizing that he was thoughtful enough to ease my evening chores made me grateful for him … even if I chose to move the dishes around later.

It’s so easy to think about and criticize people for their flaws, isn’t it?  If it’s true that we get more of what we focus on, the it’s time to forget the negatives!

Instead, focus on what you love about your spouse.

If you’re in a rough patch in your marriage, practice focusing on the positives in your relationship instead of the negatives.  This is, by far, the most influential marriage strengthening tips I’ve used in my life as it has had the most profound effect on the way I view my husband.

When you find yourself criticizing your spouse, stop yourself.  Take a moment to turn your thoughts to what you like about them, instead.

Focus on what you like and love about your spouse. Forget the negatives. We truly do get more of what we focus on. If you are having problems, begin focusing on the positive in your relationship and not the negative.

Most importantly, stop when you start to criticize your spouse. Turn your thinking to what you like about them and begin to see how your marriage gets better.

3. Be Kind

Have you ever noticed that people tend to treat those closest to them worse than their acquaintances or even total strangers?  We won’t go into details about how I feel about family, but this has been an observance of mine for a while now.

Treat your spouse with the same (or more) kindness and consideration you do for others.  Kindness matters in marriages if you want to strengthen them.

Go the extra mile.  Just because they’re closer to you don’t make the sting any less when you treat your spouse unkindly.  Honestly, it hurts more.  Try not to bark at your spouse when you’ve had a bad day at work.  And, if you slip up, apologize.

This week, do something kind and out of the ordinary for your spouse.  Most importantly, don’t expect anything in return … expect maybe a hug, kiss, or simple thank you!

4. Show Appreciation

Make a habit of expressing your appreciation, even over little things.  When you do, you’ll find that your marriage will be strengthened and happier!  Plus, your spouse will probably appreciate the attitude of gratitude and be more willing to show more regular appreciation in return.

Showing appreciation doesn’t have to be a big event.  It can be as simple as “I love it when you smile” or “Thank you for cooking dinner.”

As a stay at home mom, I’m overjoyed when my husband thanks me for the simple, routine chores I complete.

5. Ask For What You Want

Sometimes our needs aren’t being met in a relationship, but we can be too prideful to discuss it.  It’s not usual for us to put our needs aside hoping they figure it out.  At least, I know I’ve been guilty of this at times.

What I’ve found is that it becomes a painful relationship when you expect your spouse to read your mind, your needs aren’t met and you don’t speak up.

Learn to discuss with your partner, in a non-confrontational way, when you feel you need something from them.

It’s also a good idea to have those frequent “check-ins” to see if there’s anything your spouse needs from you.  Because, you know, you don’t want them to expect you to read their minds either!

6. Listen With An Open Mind

A while back, I snapped at my husband for trying to tell me how to handle something in our morning routine.

“It’s more efficient this way” he says to me.

“Okay,” I retort, “but, this is how I do it.”

The spat continued for a couple minutes.  My car ride to drop my daughter off at school was quiet as I was lost in thought.  I’d gotten defensive because I wanted to continue doing things my way.  The truth is, while I want to do things my way, I didn’t need to get snippy with my husband.  I just created more drama than was necessary.

I should have listened without judging or getting defensive.

It’s better to strengthen your marriage by being open to the possibility that your spouse’s opinion or way of doing things is valid or as important as yours!

It doesn’t make either of you wrong for being different.  But, if you’re judging, being defensive and building walls, you can’t build a strong marriage because you’re not open to possibilities and love.

7. Risk Opening Your Heart

I don’t know about you, but I came into my marriage with some baggage.  Not so much the physical kind that you can simply toss when the time is right, but the mental kind from bad relationships and things I’ve learned from my youth.

With your experiences, it’s likely you learn to build walls to protect your heart.  But, keeping those walls up and not letting your spouse in, fully, prevents the growth of love and a truly strong marriage.  Your marriage will stagnate under these conditions.

You must be willing to break down the walls and risk opening your heart, fully, to your spouse.  This will strengthen your marriage, keep it alive, and allow your love to constantly grow.

I’m no marriage counselor, just a married woman who is learning as she goes.  These marriage strengthening tips may not solve every issue in your relationship.  But, they should lay the groundwork for a strong and healthy marriage.

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Although it’s an all-inclusive theme park that provides most amenities for the day, there are still 9 things not to forget to bring for yourself and kids at Discovery Cove.  Here’s my list of things to pack when you’re wanting to travel to Discovery Cove with your kids.

When we first decided to visit Discovery Cove Orlando with the kids, I hadn’t realized how much was being provided.  As I started preparing the week before we left, I was gathering all our swim gear and stressing over whether or not the stroller and our hands would be able to carry everything into the park.  I envisioned a the stroller basket jammed full of snacks and bags hanging on the stroller handle.  Of course, I also saw myself carrying my toddler in the baby carrier which would likely end up strapped to the stroller as well.

As our trip got closer, I realized it wasn’t feasible for me to carry everything I had planned.  Even with my dad’s help, I knew it was going to be too much to keep track of.  So, I began to look for what Discovery Cove actually provided, to see what I could get away without taking.  As luck would have it, there wasn’t much I actually needed to pack for the kids at Discovery Cove!

I was surprised by what Discovery Cove provided with the cost of entry.  And, I was grateful that all of what is provided really helped offset the cost of entry.

S0, before I tell you what you should pack for kids at Discovery Cove, let’s, first, start with what’s provided with your admission.

  1. Animal safe sunscreen
  2. Towels
  3. Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Drinks
  4. Wet Suits – shorties or vests
  5. Snorkel Gear
  6. Soap & shampoo in the shower stall
  7. Lockers – at no charge for holding personal belongings
  8. Some alcoholic beverages
  9. Floating vests and pool noodles
  10. Beach chairs

Should you decide to bring your stroller, you’ll exchange it at the entrance for their stroller (at no charge) which is equipped with tires for the beach sand.

You are asked not to bring food, drink , and flotation devices into the park.  This really lightened my load when packing the kids for our day.

9 Must Haves for Yourself and Kids at Discovery Cove

Ultimately, I learned this trip wasn’t a smart move with my little ones and I should wait to visit Discovery Cove when kids are older.  But, having done it, I felt I needed to share that I felt what I packed was spot on.

The amount of things provided by Discovery Cove leaves you with very little to pack for kids!  Aside from all they provide, you should still bring the following items for your adventure with kids at Discovery Cove:

  1. Sunhat
  2. Sunglasses
  3. Swimsuit (if you don’t wear it in) & extra swimsuit for younger kids or toddlers if they have an accident
  4. Extra change of clothes
  5. Diapers – I’m a huge fan of these
  6. Swim Diapers – we use disposable swim diapers
  7. Wipes
  8. Plastic bag to separate wet clothes/swim suits
  9. Underwater camera – this one is a great deal if you don’t want a disposable!

BONUS #10 – Water shoes!  We kicked off our flip flops and swapped them out for water shoes so that we could enjoy the park without the worry of losing shoes while keeping our feet protected in and out of the water!

Towels are available throughout the park as well as in the bathrooms.  Not having to tote towels really saved room in our bags making for a fairly easy trip in and out of the park.

If you rent a cabana during the day, you have a large private locker to hold your belongings and a cooler and snack chest that are refilled throughout the day.  In fact, I never had to run to any of the snack stations for myself or the kids.  If you have food allergies, you alert your cabana host who will gladly bring you loads of extra snacks as well.  Finally, there are sand toys available for the kids in the cabanas, so if you need to take a break, they’ll still have something to keep them entertained.

Should you choose to rent a cabana, bring some extra cash to tip your cabana host.  I promise, they’ll earn it!!!

If you can help it, leave jewelry at home (especially if you’re doing the dolphin swim).

Generally speaking, you can get away with packing very little for yourself kids at Discovery Cove in Orlando.  But, these are what I believe to be items you need to keep everyone safe and comfortable during your adventure.

Have you been to Discovery Cove with Kids?

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Toddlers are prone to making our parenting struggles that much more … fun?!  Just as I became smug about my children’s eating habits, my  son stopped eating.  What I do NOW when my toddler won’t eat dinner.

Smug as I may have been about my daughter eating like a champ, my son came along to teach me a lesson.  It took him some time though.

While he was an infant learning to eat solids, I could feed him just about everything.  Carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, meat, potatoes, and fruits.

There wasn’t much he didn’t enjoy, even if some of the foods were not normally “kid food.”  And, I was becoming more smug.

Two kids who ate everything you fed them and both slept 12 hours a night?  I was a rock star mom!

And then, he became a toddler.  Within days of his 2 year checkup, where I’d proudly reported “he eats everything,” he stopped.  Breakfast remained his best meal of the day and I used many of the tactics I shared to get a picky toddler to eat.  But, lunch time was hit or miss when it came to eating.  And I worried every night when he simply wouldn’t eat dinner.

I tried everything.

I spent months complaining that my toddler won’t eat dinner to anyone who had kids and had gone through the toddler phase.

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7 reasons I should have waited to visit Discovery Cove when kids are older.  Our travel and entertainment experience at Discovery Cove with young children.

Let me preface by saying, this is my experience at Discovery Cove with my kids.  Not that Discovery Cove wasn’t awesome, because it totally was.  Just that my kids weren’t!  And, I appreciate my dad for this massive gift that my kids ended up not appreciating.  I felt horribly about that.

My dad thought it was a great idea to take my daughter to Discovery Cove the first week of her summer break.  His friend was taking her niece who was nearly the same age and thought they’d have a good time together.  Plus, they couldn’t resist the option to swim with the dolphins!  When he offered to take me and my two year old, as well, my husband said I should consider it since I’d never been.  Against my better judgement, I decided I would tag along.

The park was beautiful and the all-inclusive theme was amazing, but in some ways, I wish I’d stayed home with the toddler.  I’m on the fence about having taken young children to Discovery Cove.  I’ll expand on my thoughts as we go along.

I’d love to know if you ever took young children, or if you’re saving Discovery Cove when kids are older!

Our Day at Discovery Cove with Younger Kids

Our trip included 4 adults and 3 kids age 6 and 2.5 years.

First things, first.  Dad decided to spoil everyone with a private cabana.  At reservation, they requested he arrive at the park before 8 am to get checked in.  We did the best we could with 3 small kids 6 and under, but arrived after 8 a.m.  Still, the staff was very accommodating and recommended we go enjoy breakfast before being taken to our cabana, as it would require a trek through the sand.

Breakfast was somewhat more of a treat than expected.  There was a long buffet line where you were able to select everything from eggs, bacon, sausage, and all sorts of pastries and fruits.  As a gluten free diner, I went to the end of the line to request a special plate of food to be made separate from the line.  The chef was very knowledgeable about food allergies and was able to get me a full plate of safe food.  While having a large breakfast is a real treat, in general, I was extremely disappointed in the quality of the eggs, which tasted like powdered, reconstituted eggs, so I had two bites and couldn’t stomach more.

Breakfast was also where trouble began with the kids.  The 6 year olds were already moaning and groaning about having to wait to swim with the dolphins.  Patience isn’t my daughter’s strong suit, but I was surprised at all the attitude we were receiving while trying to get them fed.

Once we were loaded up on as much food as we could handle, we headed over to check-in for our cabana, at which time I was convinced to swap out my own stroller for one of theirs.  Their strollers were equipped with beach buggy style wheels, making the trek through the beach sand much more tolerable.  I’m glad I did, because even the modified stroller was a little difficult to push at times.

On the way to our cabana, we were told where to meet for our dolphin swim, shown some of the facilities, and outfitted for our wet suits and vests.

Once escorted to our cabana, I was in awe!  Having had one other cabana experience at another theme park, the Discovery Cove cabana was beyond impressive!  Instead of tents lining the water practically on top of each other, we essentially had a tent with a really private yard and a gate.  The bushes and trees surrounded our space, with a spectacular view of the dolphin swim area.  I’m not sure whether or not that was simply luck, but it was beautiful!  We were shown our private amenities, including a table, chairs, hammock, locker, stocked cooler, and a set of sand toys.  My two year old immediately grabbed the toys and began digging away.

The rest of the day, we spent trying to explore the waters, doing our dolphin experience, and having lunch.

7 Reasons I Should Have Waited to Visit Discovery Cove When Kids Are Older

While I loved the idea of doing Discovery Cove with the kids, it ended up not being the best decision.  If you’re wondering whether or not to take young children, let me tell you why it it may be smarter to wait to visit Discovery Cove when kids are older:

  1. My two year old gets a nasty diaper rash, so half-way through the day he was in pain and couldn’t go back in the water
  2. The toddler also is incapable of missing his nap and holding his stuff together, so he was miserable and begging to sleep
  3. My 6 year old daughter struggles with water in the face, so I never ended up being able to check out the lazy river
  4. As soon as she took off on the dolphin swim, the salt water got in her face and mouth.  Then she cried and was terrified of the water the rest of the day.
  5. She refused to try the snorkel and wouldn’t allow anyone to take her out in the water to see the sharks.
  6. When I finally gave up and tried to get the toddler to nap, he was woken up by his sister crying about the lazy river
  7. Finally, I decided we’d walk around to check out the aviary toward the end of the day.  But, the aviary entrance couldn’t accommodate the stroller wheels, so we didn’t end up getting to see it either
I’ll Do Discovery Cove When Kids are Older

Overall, as beautiful as the area was and as friendly as the staff was at Discovery Cove, my kids weren’t ready or mature enough for it.  We didn’t get to see as much as there was to see and I spent more time consoling and convincing than I did actually enjoying the park.

The vibe of the park is definitely much more relaxed, but my kids just weren’t ready to settle in and simply enjoy everything.  And apparently my son’s butt is still too sensitive for all day water activities.

All in all, my overall thought is that Discovery Cove is probably more enjoyable with parents and teenagers.  Teens can take care of themselves better and leave parents to enjoy the park at their own pace.  And, just because the dolphin swim is available to 6 year olds, doesn’t mean they’re really ready.

Take your family dynamics, routines, and temperaments into account before deciding whether or not to experience Discovery Cove with kids.  As for us, I’m saving Discovery Cove when kids are older when I can actually take advantage of the relaxed atmosphere!

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