• How to Start a Lifestyle Blog
    Mom Blogger Resources

    How to Start a Lifestyle Blog

    Moms like me + like you LOVE to start a lifestyle blog so you can work from home, take care of your kiddos + make some money.

    Am I right?

    If you’re thinking about becoming a blogger, I’m going to walk you step-by-step through the process of starting a lifestyle blog.

    What is a Lifestyle Blog?

    Plain + simple, a lifestyle blog is a blog about daily life. While I blog a lot about blogging, I also blog a lot about daily life raising my three girls. I have a lifestyle blog.

    You can have a lifestyle blog, too. You might want to carve out your niche in the world of lifestyle blogs. Maybe you’re a boy mom. Maybe you’re an organization expert so you want to blog about that. Maybe you have a child with autism or a learning disability so your blogging journey is a glimpse into what life is like for you + your child.

    I can go on + on (but I won’t). I think you get the idea.

    Benefits of Starting a Lifestyle Blog

    Maybe, just maybe, you are scratching your head, wondering why in the free world you would want to start a lifestyle blog.

    Here’s why:

    • To make money (Yup, you can actually make 6+ figures with a lifestyle blog)
    • You get to stay home with your kiddos
    • You can travel with your family + still make income

    Don’t get me wrong. Blogging is hard work. You’re not going to make money overnight. Some bloggers do start making a livable income within a few months of starting a lifestyle blog.

    Some take years. Some never make any money.

    The key to starting a successful lifestyle blog that allows you to do what you want to do + make money while doing it is to start out on the right foot.

    Investing in your blog at the beginning can really set the right tone for your success. Investing in SEO courses like Mike Pearson’s Stupid Simple SEO, Suzi Whitford’s Blog by Number, Meghan Johnson’s Pinterest Ninja + Michelle Schroeder ‘s Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing was the turning point for me + my blogs.

    After investing in + applying what I learned in these courses everything changed for the better for me, my blogs + my income.

    Niche It to Rich It

    Some people laugh when I say this but I wholeheartedly believe that choosing a niche — narrowing down the focus of a lifestyle blog to be as specific as possible — can end up making you a lot more money than being a generalist.

    People say, “Oh but isn’t it better to reach more people with my blog than to alienate someone that might not fall in my niche?”

    My answer is a resounding NO!

    The more niche you can be, the more your focus is, the more of an expert you are + the more money you can make because everyone wants to work with the expert.

    So the first thing you want to do when you decide to start a lifestyle blog is to choose a niche or a focus for your blog.

    Pick a Domain Name

    After you know what your lifestyle blog is going to be about, pick + buy a domain name. Try to pick a name that associates with your topic or brand. Mine is Girl Mom Chaos because I am blogging about parenting + raising girls. I also talk a lot about blogging + writing content since this is what I do for a living.

    If you need to buy a domain name, I suggest NameCheap. I buy all of my domain names from NameCheap. As their name suggests, the domain names tend to be less expensive than other places + I tend to keep my hosting (more about this later) + domain names at separate companies.

    This means that I buy my domain names from NameCheap but that I host my WordPress site with Siteground.

    Pick a Host

    The next step in setting up a lifestyle blog is to pick a hosting company.  NameCheap has an option for hosting, so you are certainly welcome to check out what they have to offer.

    I use + highly recommend SiteGround. I find them to be affordable (plans start at $3.95 per month) + to offer all the services I need to run my businesses online.

    You can host a WordPress site without a problem + they offer superior customer service when (+ if) you need it. I highly recommend them whether you are just starting a lifestyle blog or need to switch hosts.

    In case you didn’t catch it already, I use + recommend you use WordPress to build your website + blog. WPEngine is another hosting option. You can get 3 months of hosting for free + you also get Genesis Framework + StudioPress themes for free.

    Create a Logo

    Next, you want to create a logo for your lifestyle blog. You can certainly do this yourself with a program like Canva. You can also hire a designer to create a logo for you.

    I used a pre-made logo from Autumn Lane Paperie, which cost me $17.

    This is my logo.

    Girl Mom Chaos

    Pick a Premium WordPress Theme

    Next, you want to pick a premium WordPress theme for your WordPress blog.

    Generally speaking, you want to choose a theme that represents your blog topic + brand. You can hire a designer to create a custom design for you but this is the more expensive route.

    You can also buy a premium theme + use it as is. You can also customize it as necessary with the designer you buy it from or by hiring a designer to do it for you.

    If you’re interested in buying a theme, these are the companies I highly recommend you check out:

    A Prettier Web: If you’re building a WordPress blog or you’re looking to change the theme, but can’t afford to hire a designer to customize it quite yet, check out the WordPress themes from A Prettier Web.

    You can find premium themes but not pay a premium price.

    A Prettier Web WordPress Themes

    Restored 316: Restored 316 offers a variety of premium + feminine WordPress themes, which is perfect for a lifestyle blog. All of the themes are pretty affordable. If you’re looking for a custom design, Restored 316 offers custom site-building too.

    Restored316 WordPress Themes

    BluChic: This is one of my fave places to buy feminine website templates. BluChic offers WordPress templates that are perfect for any business + this includes a lifestyle blog. I also find their templates to be super affordable, easy to install + simple to personalize + customize to fit your lifestyle blog. BluChic also offers other types of templates (Canva social media templates + landing page templates) so check them out to help you create your online brand + presence.

    Bluchic WordPress Themes

    How to Set Up a Lifestyle Blog

    Now, that you have a domain, host, theme + logo, you’re ready to set up your lifestyle blog + start blogging.

    Step #1 Login to WordPress

    Step #2 Set up Your Blog Page

    Once you log in to your account, your Dashboard opens.

    From your dashboard, click on the Settings Link on the left + then Reading option in the dropdown menu.

    You have the option of having a static home page or having your blog posts as the “home” page. If you want to keep your home page static, then choose the dial button that says “a static home page.”

    Then, choose the home page from the drop down menu next to Front page. From the posts page drop down menu, choose your blog as where to publish new blog posts.

    If you want your blog posts to be your home page then make sure the dial button is checked for “your latest posts” to be the front page displays.

    (This is the default option so you should not have to change it unless you are changing a previous setting.)

    Congrats! Your lifestyle blog is now set up on your website.

    Woot! Woot!

    Now, you’re ready to start blogging.

    How to Blog

    Once you have your lifestyle blog up + running, its time to write blog posts + promote blog posts to attract the readers you want.

    Suzi Whitford goes through the entire process of lifestyle blogging in her thorough course Blog By Number. She provides step-by-step instructions on how to blog, what to blog about, how to monetize your lifestyle blog, etc.

    You can also check out these blog posts for more information on blogging.

    How to Make Money with a Lifestyle Blog

    Once you have a lifestyle blog you can stay home to take care of your kiddos but how do you make money with a lifestyle?

    The truth is the a lifestyle blog typically makes money from several different streams of income. So as you go through this list of ways, realize that you do not have to rely on just one way to expect it to make all of your income.

    Sell a service

    Probably one of the quickest ways you can make a buck (hopefully, more than a buck) is to offer a service. I offer my content + copy writing service.

    Some lifestyle bloggers offer:

    • Virtual assistant services
    • Pinterest account management
    • Social media management
    • Design consultations
    • Photography
    • Organization services
    • Graphic design

    The service you provide can (+ should) relate to a skill you have — something you can offer to people that need it 🙂 Keep in mind, you can offer a virtual service or in-person service (or sometimes both as an option).

    Sell a product

    While you can create + sell a physical product, you can also create + sell information products, such as ebooks. After selling a service, selling a product is probably the second biggest way a lifestyle blog makes money.

    An interior designer might create an ebook on how to decorate a home for those who do not want to hire her for her design service but instead want to do it on their own with professional advice.

    A mom blogger might have a course on how to start, write for + promote blog posts, as well as make money from blogging.

    Ana from The She Approach offers a bootcamp on how to create an ebook that you can sell + make money. She’s opening up her ebook bestselling bootcamp at the end of this month (July) so you can check that out for help.

    Ana recently vacationed overseas + made $1,500 in ebook sales while she was away 🙂

    Affiliate marketing

    Instead of selling your own product or service, you can also make money by referring other people’s products or services. This even includes products on Amazon.

    Affiliate marketing is when you refer a product or service. When the person makes a purchase from clicking on your affiliate link, you earn a commission or portion of the sale price.

    This is another great way to make money without having to do 1:1 work or create your own products or services.

    The master of affiliate marketing is Michelle Schroeder. Her course is Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. Michelle is a financial blogger who makes 6 figures from her blog all while traveling year-round with her boyfriend.

    Sponsored posts

    Sponsored posts are another way to make money from a lifestyle blog. Companies pay bloggers to review or feature their product or service on their blog.

    As a boy mom, a diaper company might approach you to give your honest opinion of their boy training pants. You can write an entire feature piece on your experience using their training pants.

    Usually, you get the package of training pants (so the product) for free + they pay you to write + publish the blog post on your blog.

    BONUS here is that you get fresh content for your blog without having to come up with a topic 🙂

    This is just one of the multitude of examples of getting paid to write sponsored posts.

    Ads

    Those ads you see running along the sidebar of a blog or weaved into blog posts are another way to make money with a lifestyle blog. You can hand pick + feature ads. I do this on this blog, so that the appropriate ads show up + it’s ads for items that I use + recommend.

    You can also go the route of Google Ads. It took me a few years (almost 2) to truly make money from Google Ads (I made almost $1,000 in less than 2 years).

    You can also search out ad networks, such as Media Vine. You do have to have 25,000 sessions per month to get approval for an ad network like this but you can make more money than using Google Ads.

    Start a Lifestyle Blog

    So, are you ready to start a lifestyle blog?

    Starting + running a lifestyle blog is a great way to do what you love while making money doing it.

    So whether you have a desire to share your beauty tips, tips on decorating a home office or offering fashion advice, a lifestyle blog is right up your alley.

    XOXO, Kristie
  • How to Make Hand Washing Fun for Kids
    Raising Girls

    How to Make Hand Washing Fun for Kids

    Proper hand washing is the best thing that you can do to prevent the spread of illness + disease. Kids are notorious for having grubby hands. Because kids are so likely to be constantly touching their face with their hands, it is imperative that they practice good hand washing habits.

    Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. Learn how to make hand washing fun for kids to help encourage your children to wash their hands more often + more thoroughly.

    Get Them Singing

    One way on how to make hand washing fun for kids is to turn hand washing into a little ditty. Not only does singing a song make the process more enjoyable, but it also helps young kids to keep track of time so that they know if they have been washing their hands long enough.

    Good song choices include “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Row Row Row Your Boat” + “Happy Birthday.” The alphabet song is also an appropriate choice because of its length. Make sure that your child doesn’t rush the song to get done faster.

    Make the Bathroom Fun

    An uncomfortable bathroom does not inspire kids to stay any longer than they need to. You can choose to make your bathroom fun by making it comfortable + inviting for them.

    A personalized step stool is a terrific way to make the sink accessible for small kids. You can choose a fun vanity to make kids stay to encourage them to stay + wash their hands.

    Even some fun soap can motivate kids to dive in + wash their hands. Young children usually enjoy foaming soap more than gel-based or bar soaps. Or, try putting some glitter in a spray bottle of liquid soap + telling your child that they have to scrub until the glitter is washed off their hands.

    Be Realistic

    Once your kids reach a certain age, it is time to give them the unscrubbed truth about washing hands. Younger children can be taught about germs by sprinkling glitter on their hands + showing them the difference between using just water + scrubbing with soap to remove it.

    Older kids might benefit from watching a documentary about germs or looking at any type of reading material that explains how many harmful things can reside on their hands if they do not practice good hygiene.

    Washing hands should not feel like a chore to your child. With the right education + the effort to make it fun, you can win this battle.

    XOXO, Kristie
  • DIY Halloween Party Ideas
    Raising Girls

    DIY Halloween Party Ideas for Kids

    Ahhhhhhh…the good old Halloween Party. Halloween parties are but some of the festivities that can lead up to the big night of trick-or-treating for kids. Throwing a Halloween party for your kids doesn’t have to be hard or expensive.

    In fact, here is the ultimate guide on DIY Halloween party ideas for kids ranging from decorations + food to games + activities.

    DIY Halloween Party Ideas for Decorations

    Turn items you probably already have in the house into cute but inexpensive Halloween party decorations. Not only are these ideas inexpensive but they don’t take all that much time.

    Egg Carton Bats

    1. Spray paint cardboard egg cartons black – inside + out.
    2. Cut a section that has three egg depressions.
    3. Turn upside down. The middle hump (was an egg depression when right-side up is the head of the bat.
    4. Glue two googly eyes in the middle of the hump. The humps on each side are the bat wings.
    5. Hot glue fishing wire, ribbon or pipe cleaners to the back of the head for hanging. 

    Log Jack-O-Lanterns 

    1. Use landscaping logs from the gardening department for small jack-o-lanterns + larger round logs you find in the forest for bigger jack-o-lanterns.
    2. The smaller logs should be cut into sections from 4 to 6 inches tall.
    3. The larger logs from 12 to 15 inches tall.
    4. Spray paint orange.
    5. Find branches that are stem shaped — wider at the bottom + narrower at the top.
    6. Spray paint the stems black.
    7. Glue to the top of the log.
    8. Paint faces on the logs in black.  

    Mummy Doors

    1. Cut sheets of cheesecloth into 8 inch strips. You can also use old white sheets for this.
    2. Wrap the door crisscrossing some of the strips. This works best with two people one on either side of the door.
    3. Before the last wrapping, add two large white circles with black centers as the eyes of the mummy. 

    Lollypop Ghost

    These are so easy + cheap you could hand them out as treats on Halloween.

    1. Use round ball-shaped lollypops.
    2. Cut two squares of white paper or cloth about 4 inches square.
    3. Place the squares on top of the lollypop.
    4. Tie with black ribbon right under the lollypop.
    5. Draw a ghost face with a black marker.

    Balloon Spider Web

    1. Blow up the balloons.
    2. Spray with adhesive or paint with white glue.
    3. Wrap the balloons in white string crisscrossing but leaving lots of space between the string to resemble a spider web.
    4. Spray or paint again with glue.
    5. Let thoroughly dry.
    6. Pop the balloon.
    7. The string web should remain in place.
    8. Glue several spiders to the outside of the web.

    Ghost Doll

    A little tricky but worth the effort. And they’re cheap to make.

    1. Place a baby doll in a sitting position with its arms straight out. A vinyl or plastic doll with no hair works best for this.
    2. Soak cheesecloth in a heavy starch solution.
    3. Wring out.
    4. Drape the cheesecloth around the doll, molding it the head + around the arms + legs.
    5. Let dry.
    6. When you remove the doll the cheesecloth retains the doll’s shape for an eerie looking ghost.

    Plastic Spiders in Ice Cubes 

    1. Wash plastic spiders in soapy water.
    2. Place one spider in each ice cube section of an ice cube tray.
    3. Add water.
    4. Freeze.
    5. Place the ice cubes in glasses or the large ice cube in a punch bowl.

    Muddy Ice Cubes

    1. Mix red, yellow, orange, green + purple food coloring in orange juice to make a mud brown color.
    2. Freeze in ice cube trays.
    3. For an added touch, add plastic worms to each cube.

    Boo Bottles 

    Easy peasy + cheap as in almost free.

    1. Remove the labels from empty gallon containers of milk or water.
    2. Draw ghost faces on the containers in black using paint or markers.
    3. Fill with a layer of clear or white pebbles to weight the containers down so they won’t blow away.
    4. Stop there or add a touch of lights. Wrap small flashlights that only cost about a dollar with beige or white masking tape.
    5. Widen the neck of the gallon container so the flashlight barely fits in with the light shining down +the switch at the top.
    6. Use a bit more masking tape to fasten the flashlight securely.
    7. Or fill the containers with Christmas mini-lights on a white cord (a green cord shows through the container + ruins the effect).

    Spooky Mini Garden 

    1. Paint a terracotta plant saucer black.
    2. Fill with moss + rocks.
    3. Add in artificial crows, a skeleton, skulls, mini pumpkins, mini witch hats, mini gravestones or any other miniature symbols of Halloween to create a tiny Halloween scene.

    Bloody Napkins + Tablecloth 

    This is messy + can stain so do this somewhere clean up is easy, like the backyard.

    1. Cut napkin-size squares from an old white sheet.
    2. Fill a spray bottle with double strength red Kool Aid. Don’t add sugar you just want the color.
    3. Spray + drip the “blood” on the napkins + white sheet.

    Here are a few creative ideas for outdoor decorations.

    Graveyard Scene

    1. Cut ghost shapes out of quarter inch plywood with a jigsaw.
    2. Then screw in a painted stake to the back of the cut out, be sure your screws are screwed in from the front of ghost.
    3. Paint the ghost shapes white + then use black paint to make eyes + mouth push the stake into the ground.
    4. Using the same idea cut out shapes of a tombstone + use spray paint with a faux stone finish in grey.
    5. Let dry.
    6. Paint RIP with black paint. Foam board can be used instead of plywood but it won’t last more than one season. The plywood will last for several years + since it’s flat it doesn’t take up much storage space.
    7. Place a skeleton hand on each side of the tombstone on the “grave” as if the dead person was coming out.

    Headless Horseman

    1. Make a headless man using an old pair of jeans, shoes, gloves, shirt + jacket.
    2. Stuff jeans with rolled towels, newspaper or plastic grocery bags.
    3. Arrange jean “legs” on a chair that has back support or on a bench up against a wall.
    4. Then stuff the T-shirt + stuff the arms.
    5. Place the shoes + gloves where they should be. To arrange the limbs sometimes takes some finessing.
    6. Use fake blood around the neck.
    7. Have your headless man hold a jack-o-lantern as his head. On Halloween night or party time, spread raw hamburger where the neck should be + use ketchup for more blood.

    Eerie Forest

    1. Trim your trees + save branches from 5 to 7 feet long. You could also use dead tree branches as well.
    2. Spray paint black.
    3. When dry place upright along the sidewalk up to your door to create an eerie forest. These could also be used inside. For an added touch hang cobwebs from branch to branch.

    Alternative Jack-O-Lanterns

    Pumpkins aren’t the only source for jack-o-lanterns.  These alternative jack-o-lanterns have to be carved no more than a day ahead since they won’t last. Watermelons look menacing with their outside green skin + bright red flesh inside.

    1. Scoop out the flesh of a watermelon but leave at least a couple of inches of red. Try small nearly rindless watermelons as well as larger melons.
    2. Another option is to carve eggplants into small demon faces. Buy the largest you can find to make carving easier. The weird shape of the eggplant adds to the fun.

    DIY Halloween Party Room Decorations

    Pull out your Halloween decorations. Any and all skeletons, bats, spiders, snakes, pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, witches hat, spider webs, black cats, etc. will do. But don’t stop there.

    Eerie Furniture

    Black tulle draped over furniture gives an eerie effect. White sheets draped gives a ghostly effect.

    Floating Ghosts

    1. Stuff the tulle to form a ghostly shape.
    2. Hang up several ghosts + hide a rotating fan out of sight to blow on them.
    3. Use helium balloons for the ghost head. (Helium will only last for the evening so do this right before party time.)
    4. Drape one layer of tulle over the balloon, gather it then tie it closed.
    5. Tie the balloon strings to the back of furniture so the helium balloon ghost won’t float away.
    6. Hang it up where the breeze can make it flutter.

    Eerie Room Atmosphere

    Fog machine, strobe lights + black lights can create eerie effects. When using black lights try to have them in an area that has no other light source. If possible designate a room where the door can be shut so it highlights the effect.

    1. Splatter butcher paper or brown wrapping paper with glow-in-the-dark paint.
    2. Tack the paper up on the walls.
    3. Buy dry ice only an hour or two before the party. Keep in your freezer.
    4. Put dry ice in containers or hollowed out pumpkins.
    5. Add water + watch the fog start rolling in. Kids are amazed by it. Keep it where the kids can’t touch it because the ice itself can give you a bad burn if touched with bare hands. The ice is so cold it freezes skin.

    Create a Creepy Wedding Altar

    1. Tack large black garbage bags on a wall.
    2. Drape the bags over an arch.
    3. Ask your grocer’s floral department to save you red roses that they were going to throw out.
    4. Dry the roses. Red roses turn an ugly black.
    5. Place the black roses in spray painted black vases on either side of the arch.
    6. For your bride use any long white dress, preferably with long sleeves. Drape the dress from the ceiling with fishing wire so it looks like a ghost. Add a skeleton head + a veil made from tulle. Blow up white latex gloves + place in the long sleeves. 

    Spooky Music

    Don’t forget to play spooky music. Music or spooky sounds can only add to your party atmosphere. If you don’t have a Halloween CD then play a regular CD on a much slower speed. It’s also possible to download scary sounds from the Internet.

    DIY Halloween Party Ideas for Food

    One of the most enjoyable aspects of a Halloween party is the food. There are hundreds of recipes that have been specifically created for this spooky holiday.

    Keep the food simple + familiar but with a twist. Rename favorites in the Halloween theme. Use food coloring in blues, greens + browns to alter the way a dish looks.

    Or use familiar food in unfamiliar ways. For example blanch a cauliflower head, break apart + then reassemble (this makes the cauliflower easier to serve). Cover the cauliflower with ranch dressing then using ketchup in a squeeze bottle outline each floret with the ketchup so it looks like a brain.

    Use some of these other ideas to help you plan the yummiest menu possible. 

    Human Finger Chicken Fingers

    Serve chicken fingers with blood (any red dipping sauce). Add a sliced almond for the finger nail to create a realistic look. 

    Snakes in the Swamp

    Another dish to try is to add equal parts red, blue + yellow food color to spaghetti after it’s been cooked so it turns an ugly brownish color. Serve with a green pesto sauce + call it snakes in the swamp. 

    Meatball Eyeballs

    Make goofy eyeballs out of meatballs.

    1. Shape seasoned ground meat into an oval with a flat top + bottom.
    2. Bake until done.
    3. Cut a round circle out of mozzarella cheese about the size of a half dollar or one inch in diameter to create the white part of the eye.
    4. Cut grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes into three slices.
    5. Cut black olives in half.
    6. Assemble the goofy eyeballs by placing a slice of cheese on the meatball, then a slice of tomato on the cheese + top with a black olive half.
    7. Vary the placement of the toppings so the eyeballs are looking in different directions. 

    Ghoulish Punch

    1. Make your favorite punch + add a few ghoul hands.
    2. To make these hands, fill non-powdered rubber gloves with cranberry or other red juice. (Don’t overfill, the fingers of the glove should still move easily.) 
    3. Close gloves tightly with rubber bands + freeze flat on cookie sheets, which have been lined with paper towels.
    4. When ready to serve, open gloves with scissors + add to punch. You may want to break off one or two fingers + add them separately so they float in the punch bowl
    5. A fun punch can be with one quart of lime drink, one quart of lemon lime soda + one cup of lime sherbet. The sherbet should be added right before serving. Stir so the sherbet foams up a bit with the soda. Dust the foam lightly with cocoa powder to resemble dirt. 
    6. It’s not a good idea to use dry ice in your punch to make it smoke. Curious hands may try to touch the dry ice resulting in freezer burn. Instead place the dry ice in containers out of reach, such as the back of a table + you can still have the atmosphere of the smoky fog without the worry of accidents. 

    Spooky Spiders

    1. Spread peanut butter or cheese spread onto round butter crackers.
    2. Place four chow mien noodles or small pretzel sticks on each side of the cracker making eight spider legs.
    3. Stack a cracker on top making a sandwich.
    4. Dip raisins into peanut butter or cheese spread + place on top as spider eyes.

    Bloody Bones

    1. Prepare ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce.
    2. Arrange ribs to resemble a human rib cage.
    3. Place a half of a red pepper or tomato in the middle as the heart + put a real knife or fake knife into the heart.

    Monster Hands

    1. Place a candy corn into each finger of a plastic deli glove.
    2. Fill the glove with popcorn until plump.
    3. Tie off at the wrist of the glove.

    Yummy Eyeballs

    1. Slice carrots, cucumbers or radishes in bite size circles.
    2. Put a dab of cream cheese on top.
    3. Put 1/2 of a black or green olive on top.

    Fingers + Dip

    1. Peel + slice carrots length wise into finger size pieces.
    2. Attach almond slices or plain potato chips pieces onto one end of the carrots with cream cheese, dip, or hummus as the fingernail.
    3. Use the same idea using pretzel rods.
    4. Supply your favorite dip.

    Apple Bites

    1. Core + slice an apple.
    2. Spread peanut butter to one side of the apple slice.
    3. Put three or four tiny marshmallows for teeth on top of the peanut butter toward the bottom of the apple slice.
    4. Top with another apple slice, peanut butter side down.

    Mummy Roll-Ups

    1. Use a cooked hot dog or breaded chicken strips or nuggets.
    2. Place in tortilla with ketchup.
    3. Roll up burrito style leaving one end open.
    4. Use ketchup to dot on eyes of mummy.

    Food Faces

    1. Create scary, silly, or jack-o-lantern faces using meat, cheese + vegetables pieces on round foods such as pizzas, cheese crisps, quesadilla or tostadas. You can use homemade pizzas or frozen cheese pizzas.
    2. Use pepperoni + black olives as eyes, red pepper pieces to form a nose or diced onions to create teeth.
    3. For cheese crisps use black olives for eyes, shredded lettuce for a mouth, salsa or sour cream for noses or mouths.

    Bagel Monsters

    1. Slice bagel in half.
    2. Spread on cream cheese.
    3. Fill with meat.
    4. Use a piece of ham to make a tongue coming out of center of the bagel hole.
    5. Attach black olive or pepperoni eyes with cream cheese.
    6. Use lettuce leaves as hair.
    7. Add a carrot as a nose.

    DIY Halloween Party Ideas for Games + Activities

    Trick or treating is the time-honored activity but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own traditions. Use these ideas to keep kids occupied during a Halloween party.

    Bat or Spider Hands or Feet

    1. Paint your child’s palm black + stamp them on paper.
    2. To create a bat place, hands together with thumbs touching, keeping fingers close together.
    3. For a spider, keep wrists touching spread thumbs + fingers apart.
    4. Add eyes in color paint or using googly eyes.
    5. Using this same idea paint the bottom of your child’s feet or foot white.
    6. Stamp onto black paper.
    7. Let dry.
    8. Turn paper upside down + paint black eyes + ghost mouth on the “heel” head of ghost.

    Scary Characters

    Copy off Disney or any cute characters + let children make them into scary characters.

    Skeleton Q-Tips

    1. Make skeletons using Q-tips as bones + glue onto black paper.
    2. On black paper use white chalk to create a spider web or glue Q-tips to create a spider web.

    Sock Bat

    Make a bat by stuffing a black sock with batting, glue eyes on it + cut out bat wings from black craft foam + attach with hot glue or a stapler.

    Pumpkin Pots

    Make pumpkin pots by painting the outside of a terra cotta pot orange. Turn upside down + paint a jack-o-lantern face with black paint. Then glue a piece of wood or stick in the drain hole as the stem. 

    Pumpkin Necklace

    1. Paint a walnut completely orange.
    2. Let dry.
    3. Use a black sharpie to draw a jack-o-lantern face on the walnut with the pointed side as the top.
    4. Cut a piece of black ribbon big enough to fit over the child’s head.
    5. Hot glue each end to the top of the pumpkin making a necklace.
    6. Cut out three leaf shapes from green felt.
    7. Hot glue to the leaves to the top of the “pumpkin” covering up where the two ribbon ends meet.

    Bone Necklaces

    String hollow macaroni onto a shoelace (the plastic tip of the shoe lace makes stringing easier) to make “bone” necklaces.

    Draw Scary Monsters

    1. Give each child a sheet of paper that has four lines drawn horizontally across it.
    2. Have everyone draws a head with the neck just showing beyond the first line.
    3. Fold the paper so the head is hidden + only the neck shows on the remaining ¾ of the sheet.
    4. The child passes her sheet to the child sitting to next to her.
    5. Each child draws the body including arms/wings/tentacles to the waist of the monster. Again the waist appears just a bit beyond the second line.
    6. Fold the paper to hide the body.
    7. Pass the sheet again.
    8. Each child draws the legs down to the third line on the paper.
    9. Fold the sheet again so that only 1/4 of the page is showing.
    10. Pass the paper again.
    11. Each child draws feet between the third and fourth lines on the paper
    12. Unfold the paper to reveal the monsters.

    The monster might turn out to have a dragon head, a bear body, octopus legs + lizard feet.

    Costume Contest

    Hold a costume contest. Make up different categories. Award prizes.

    Pin the Tail on the Black Cat

    Play pin the tail on the black cat or face onto the pumpkin. Use the idea of pin the tail on the Donkey.

    Guess the Number of Candy Corns

    Fill a jar full of candy corn. Have the kid’s guess how many candy corns are in the jar. The one that comes the closest wins a prize.

    Flashlight Tag

    Play flashlight tag in the house or around the neighborhood.

    Make Witch’s Brew

    1. Give the children a selection of ingredients, such as fruit + vegetable juices, milk, nut milks, tea, soda, chocolate syrup + a few odd ingredients such as coffee, lemon juice, ketchup, soy sauce, etc.
    2. Each child selects one of the ingredients to add to the brew.
    3. Have the first child add the ingredient.
    4. Have each child taste the brew.
    5. Continue until all of the ingredients are in the brew.

    Feel/Taste + Guess Game

    1. Blind fold the child or without the child looking have the child touch or taste each item.
    2. You can either have them guess what they think it feels like or guess what the item actually is. If you have peeled grapes to eat tell them it is eyeballs + they have to guess that it is actually grapes. If they are feeling the grapes ask them to guess what the item is.

    Here are some items you can use:

    • Peeked or frozen grapes: eyeballs or frog eggs
    • Spaghetti or spiral pasta: Brains
    • Yogurt: Slime
    • Potato chips or almond slices: finger nails
    • V-8 juice: Blood 
    • Gummy worm: earth worms
    • Sun Flower Seeds: Witch’s Teeth
    • Fruit roll ups cut in strips: old band aids
    • Ham Cubes: cut off fingertips
    • Bell peppers cut in strips: witches skinny fingers
    • Raisins: shriveled spiders or boogers 
    • Smashed mini wheat: eyelashes
    • Pretzel rods or sticks: bones
    • Halved tomatoes or bell pepper: Heart
    • Sausage links or hot dogs: intestines
    • Cooked chicken breast: liver
    • Thin round cheese slices: pieces of skin
    • Peeled grapes: eyeballs
    • Pepperoni slices: scabs

    Use some or all of these DIY Halloween party ideas for kids to host your Halloween party. It can create a fun + festive atmosphere for all ages without spending a ton of time or money in the process.

    XOXO, Kristie
  • 12 Cool Things to Include When Building a House
    Raising Girls

    12 Cool Things to Include When Building a House

    Every homeowner has a list of items that she would love to add to her house one day. Whether that be a luxurious in-ground pool, a room addition, or a smart home feature, your house should be a reflection of your personality + needs.

    Check out these 12 cool things to include when building a house or renovating a home to create your dream home.

    1. Smart Fridge

    While it’s an expensive investment, a smart fridge is an invaluable addition to any home. The touchscreen tablet on the exterior of the fridge allows you to pull up recipes, access music + entertainment, ask Alexa + much more.

    Most smart fridges come equipped with a camera, enabling you to look inside of your fridge when you’re not even home. Are you at the grocery store + can’t seem to remember if you need to buy milk? Simply pull up the app on your smartphone + take a peek inside your fridge.

    2. Home Automation

    In addition to the smart refrigerator, there are a variety of other home automation products that can simplify your life + add convenience. Bluetooth-connected appliances + automatic faucets allow for multitasking and can even save you money on utilities.

    Automated thermostats save money on energy costs + keep your house at the perfect temperature for any time of the day.

    3. Home Theater

    One of the latest trends in interior design is a home theater system. This specialized room in your house is ideal for screening movies, binge-watching your favorite Netflix shows + catching the big game.

    Because of the sound-proofing capabilities of a home theater, your other family members will love that you can shut the door + block the noise from the rest of the house.

    A home theater is an addition that grows with your family. Young children will delight in family movie nights, while older teens will appreciate having a dedicated place to hang out with friends.

    4. Wine Cellar

    Wine enthusiasts get significant use out of a home wine cellar. This space can be used to simply store wine, or it can be turned into an entertainment room with a few cozy seating arrangements + a wet bar.

    A dedicated space engineered to keep wine at the optimal temperature is the ultimate in-home luxury. Plus, it can increase your home’s value!

    5. Central Vacuum System

    Forget about lugging around the vacuum, plugging it in + hooking up all the accessories to get all the crumbs + cheerios off the floor. Central Vacuum Systems are now back in house style. Just hook the hose + handle up to the central vacuum system unit in the walls around your home + vacuum.

    Unlike the previous 50s’ version of this convenient home amenity. new central vacuum systems have cool features like baseboard suction so you can just sweep the dirt + grime to the baseboard + it sucks it all up from there.

    I don’t know about you but nothing annoys me more than all the dirt + crumbs that seem to line up along baseboards. With a home central vacuum system, vacuuming just got a heck of a lot easier.

    6. Outdoor Fireplace

    Pinterest

    Add an outdoor fireplace to your patio, front or back porch. Build your fireplace in the middle + add log holder built-ins on each side (or even one side).

    The family can really enjoy sitting around the fireplace pretty much year round. You can roast marshmallows for s’mores, read, have family game night or sir + relax.

    7. Outdoor Kitchen

    Livabl

    Build an outdoor kitchen. A fridge, sink, grill, oven + wine fridge are just some of the cool features you can add to an outdoor cooking space. It’s great for family time outdoors or for entertaining, such as kids’ birthday parties.

    Having an outdoor kitchen alleviates the constant going in + out of the house to cook, prep food, grab drinks, etc.

    8. Under Staircase Storage Drawers

    You know that space under the staircase that faces out into the foyer or room where your stairs are? Why not turn that into usable space with pull-out drawers for storage.

    When pushed n, the drawers look like it is part of the wall + wall trim. When pulled out, it is huge drawers where you store shoes, toys, hats + gloves + other miscellaneous items that you don’t want lying around the house.

    9. Bookcase Stair Drawers

    The same holds true for actual steps or stairs on a staircase. Turn these into drawers that pull out. Store books in the stairs instead of cluttering up a book shelf in a room.

    When the drawers are pushed in, it looks like a regular step or stair.

    10. Under-Cabinet Outlets

    Kettle Valley

    Instead of installing outlets in the kitchen back splash, add outlets under the cabinets in the kitchen instead. Just like under-cabinet lights, under-cabinet outlets save space while simultaneously adding convenience.

    11. Mud Room

    When we do our home renovation + addition, this is first on my list. Create a mud room at an entrance point in your home. Everyone can have a cubby + drawer for storing shoes, coats, hats, gloves, backpacks + other personal items.

    Instead of dropping everything on the floor as they enter the house, your kids + husband each have their own little section of the mudroom to store their items in an organized fashion.

    Some homes combine the mudroom with the laundry room.

    12. Upstairs Laundry Room

    This is another must-have on my future home plans. We are moving our laundry room from the basement to the upstairs (third floor in our case) so that the laundry room is closer to the bedrooms where the three girls are going to sleep.

    This eliminates dragging laundry up + down the stairs. Dirty laundry can go from the kids’ bedrooms to the laundry room. Clean laundry can go from the laundry room to the kids’ bedrooms.

    We’re adding a master suite to the main floor (which is the second floor in our home) so we are likely going to put in a full-size stackable washer + dryer in our master suite so we can still do our laundry without lugging it up + down any stairs.

    Your house should be a haven of relaxation + entertainment. Any of these cool things to include when building a house can deliver convenience + fun to the place you call home. Some of them are just plain cool 🙂

    XOXO, Kristie
  • Tips for Toddler Girls Summer Fashion
    Raising Girls

    3 Tips for Toddler Girl Summer Fashion

    From cute beach dresses to breezy tunics, there are tons of stylish toddler girl summer fashion choices for girls. When you’re purchasing new clothes for your little girls, try to keep comfort, affordability + fabrics in mind.

    Use these tips for buying toddler girl summer fashion pieces to keep your little ones on trend while staying within your budget.

    #1 Choose Breathable Fabrics for Toddler Girl Summer Fashion

    Mulberry’s Garment Care recommends choosing breathable fabrics that are lightweight + easy to care for + it keeps your little ones from getting overheated. Natural fabrics, like cotton + linen, are much more breathable than synthetics, such as polyester.

    Denim is generally too heavy for summer weather + silk is also low on breathability. If you can, look for outfits that include small openings in the sleeves or have cold-shoulder styles to increase the breathability of the outfit.

    #2 Lighten Up on Layers

    Layers may add too much bulk to your little girl’s outfit, which can make outfit changes harder + longer than you’d like. E&O Apparel points out that layering clothing can get expensive.

    Instead of layers, opt for loose clothing that’s easy to take on + off quickly. For example, a lightweight tunic dress or a short-sleeve tee + leggings is much easier to deal with than layering sundresses with cardigans or wraps.

    Too many layers in the summer can cause your toddler to overheat quickly. Capris, shorts, tank tops + dresses add versatility to your little girl’s wardrobe + keep her cool without breaking the bank.

    #3 Opt for Durable Toddler Girl Summer Fashion Pieces

    With trips to the swimming pool, beach days + outdoor playtime, the number of outfit changes your little girl makes means more clothes to wash. According to Quartz, choosing durable items that can survive both the washing machine + the wear + tear of your child’s activities can help you save money in the long term, giving you the possibility of reusing some outfits for the next summer season.

    Cotton fabrics are much more durable than silk. You can also consider buying some activewear styles for your child, which typically lasts for multiple seasons. Capris + shorts generally last for a long time + shirts with reinforced seams or ribbing may provide longer wear than seamless tops. To increase the durability of the clothing, always follow washing instructions on the label.

    Even if your toddler grows out of the clothing by the next summer season, her sisters can wear the clothes 🙂

    By choosing durable, lightweight fabrics + loosening up on layers, you + your little girls can enjoy toddler girl summer fashion. You can look forward to fewer loads of laundry + outfit changes so you can instead focus on summer fun!

    Check out 3 Places to Buy Inexpensive but Nice Girls’ Clothes to find out exactly where to buy your toddler girl summer fashion.

    XOXO, Kristie
  • How to be a Productive Stay-at-Home Mom
    Raising Girls

    How to Be a Productive Stay-at-Home Mom

    Being a stay-at-home mom is far from easy + unless you have a very good idea of how to manage your time, things can get pretty crazy. To be productive, you need to stay motivated.

    Here are some tips on how to be a productive stay-at-home mom.

    Get up Earlier to be a More Productive Stay-at-Home Mom

    It can be very tempting to hit that snooze button especially as an exhausted mama but try not to do it. Try to get up before everyone else so you can have some time to yourself to shower, sip a cup of joe + hit the ground running with your to-do list for the day.

    Even just a few minutes to gather your thoughts before the chaos that is mom life begins can make a huge difference in how you feel + set you up for a successful day.

    I *try* to get up at least 1-2 hours before my kids do each day. I grab a cup of coffee, write blog posts, write an email to my list, or create pins for Pinterest. This way when my kids do wake up, I’ve already put away a couple hours of work. I can put my computer + phone away, give them breakfast + start their day.

    Get Ready For The Day 

    Life as a stay-at-home mom can sometimes leave you feeling like there’s no point in changing out of your pajamas + honestly, sometimes there really is no point. It’s why I call my pajamas my house pants. Saying I stayed in my house pants all day doesn’t sound as bad as saying I stayed in my pajamas all day.

    But if you’re feeling blah, sometimes just putting on a fresh pair of leggings + throwing some mascara on can you give you a boost! Try it at least once a week + see what it does for your morale.

    If it changes how you feel + how you attack the day then make an effort to get up, get dressed + get ready every day, even if you’re not leaving the house.

    Prepare The Day Before

    People always give Moms working out of the house advice on how to prepare in advance for the next day to save time + energy but the same advice applies to stay-at-home moms. Just because you’re home, doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for the next day.

    Lay out everyone’s clothes so they’re ready to be worn, prepare lunches so they’re ready to go the next day without much effort, pack a bag of essentials if you know you’ll be out of the house. It will help you feel in control of your day while saving you lots of time.

    Make a to-do list + prioritize the list. That way when you do get up + get ready, you can start tackling the items you do have to accomplish for the day.

    Find Opportunities to Relax

    You would get breaks if you were working outside the home, right? The same should apply as a stay-at-home mom. You’re working your butt off everyday + you deserve time to relax – even if it’s just a few minutes here + there.

    Let’s be real, it might be that you only get 5 minutes of peace + quiet while you’re sipping your coffee. Take it. Embrace it.

    Set Nap Time or Quiet Time

    Have a set schedule for nap time or quiet time if your little one is done with naps. Putting them in their crib at the same time everyday is not only great for you to catch up on whatever it is you need to, but it also sets your child up for a great sleep schedule.

    Teach Independent Play

    You don’t need to play with your children all day. Letting them learn to play by themselves when Mommy needs to get some work done helps them use their imagination + be creative.

    If you need a lot of time to get some work done, give them a super messy + fun activity. It can keep them entertained for hours (literally, hours).

    Make a Schedule

    Some people are planners (me) + are better at getting things done when they have a plan written down + set in place (also me). If you think this is you, go ahead + schedule your day to see if it helps your productivity.

    You can test out the Pomodoro Technique to see if it works for you. Set a timer for 25 minutes + work on a task for that 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, take a 5 minute break. When your break is over, then set the timer for another 25 minutes + tackle finishing the same task or a new one.

    The Pomodoro Technique to learn how to be a productive stay-at-home mom.

     Delegate Chores

    Just because you’re a stay-at-home Mom does not mean that you have to do everything all the time. If your kids are old enough, let them know what they can do to help you out. Get them to unload the dishwasher or show them how to do a load of laundry. This teaches them responsibility + takes some things off your to-do list.

    Enlist your spouse or significant other to help. My husband helps with laundry, cleaning the bathrooms + washing the floors. Of course, this is because he wants me to avoid hiring a cleaner but he does do it 🙂

    My kids are 5, 3 + 1 but the two older ones do help put away silverware from the dishwasher, put their folded clothes from the laundry in the appropriate drawers + pick up their room (on occasion).

    This still leaves a ton of chores on my plate but it is helpful.

    Embrace The Chaos

    Some days are just going to be utter chaos. The house will be a mess, the laundry will be piled up, the dishes will need to be done + you know what, that’s OK. If it doesn’t get done today it can get done tomorrow. Allow for a bit of chaos + you just might find yourself less stressed about it.

    This takes a lot of work for me. Chaos spins me up. Clutter unravels me. BUT, every once in a while, I let it go. The Earth still spins. The world doesn’t come to an end + it really is OK.

    Ask For Help

    Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s from your partner, family or a close friend – never feel ashamed for feeling worn out + needing help with any part of Motherhood. Remember, it takes a village. Ask for help.

    Live for After Bed Time

    I put my kids to bed at (around) the same time every night. The baby goes first. The two older ones later.

    I use those 2-3 hours after they go to bed to be productive. Sometimes I work on one or both of my blogs. Sometimes I fold a basket of laundry. Sometimes I watch a show or movie with my husband. Sometimes I crawl in bed to read until I fall asleep.

    I know you’re tired after a long day at home but even focusing on one task for just a little while (even just 10-25 minutes) can help to increase your productivity for the day.

    Make a Priority List

    Each night before I go to bed, I make a list of the things that I need + want to get done the following day. I write my to-do list out in order of priority.

    The first thing on my list is something that has to be done the next day. I choose the top three tasks that have to get done (or that I want to get done) + I put them in order of importance.

    The rest of the things on my list are “nice to get done” items. If I finish my first three priority items then I move on to item #4 on the list.

    Some days, I get through my whole list. Other days I don’t get past #3. Some days I don’t get past #1 🙂

    Self-Care

    Make time to take care of you. I promise this is going to make you a better mom, a better person + more productive. Whatever self-care is to you, do it. Read a book. Take a nap. Get your nails done. Get your hair done. Take a girls trip with your girlfriends for the weekend.

    You are going to come back from the activity refreshed, happier + ready to tackle some more of those items on your to-do list.

    I promise you.

    I learned this lesson the hard way. After my first daughter was born, I lost myself in motherhood + being a wife. My writing business decreased. I stopped getting my nails + feet done. I stopped reading.

    What mom has time for that, right? That whole speech the flight attendant gives on a plane about helping a small child put their own oxygen mask on AFTER you put your own on applies here.

    If you are depleted, angry, upset + deflated, you’re in no shape to help or take care of the people that need you + depend on you — your child(ren), spouse, etc.

    So whatever oxygen is for you, do it + come back as a better you.

    Meal Plan + Meal Prep

    At a minimum, plan out your meals for the week. I write what I’m going to serve for dinner each night on my calendar so that I have a plan.

    This allows you to shop for groceries faster + when dinner time rolls around you’re not scrambling to figure out what ingredients you have + what you can make.

    You can also meal prep. Meal prep is getting the food ready ahead of time. You don’t have to make entire meals ahead of time but you can prep ingredients.

    For example, when your veggies arrive with your grocery delivery or in your produce box, wash them, cut them, chop them or slice them. Store them in glass containers or storage bags. That way when it’s time to cook, you have your ingredients ready to go.

    It helps you to be so much more productive as a stay-at-home-mom. I also find that it reduces food waste. If I have sliced up zucchini, squash, peppers, or onions that I’m not going to use fast enough, I throw the baggies in the freezer + then I have them next time I need to cook a meal instead of having to throw them away.

  • How to Do Content Marketing as a Mom Blogger
    Mom Blogger Resources

    How to Use Content Marketing as a Mom Blogger

    Content marketing is one of the MAJOR players in the marketing world. It is the #1 way to attract new readers to your blog + then convert these visitors into money for your blog.

    What is content marketing?

    Content marketing is sharing information with the audience of people that you are trying to attract. When you share information, think of it like talking with your best gal or guy pal over a cup of coffee. When you give readers the info they seek, they start to build a relationship with you + your  blog.

    As you build trust + credibility with them, you increase your chances that they end up hiring you instead of Susie Q, who didn’t share her expertise — didn’t build a relationship — with them…at all.

    If you’re not providing a product or service through your blog, but instead are using ads or affiliate marketing, this still holds true. Content marketing, sharing information with readers through content is the #1 way to get them to click on your links + ads.

    8 Reasons to Use Content Marketing

    I love how WebProfits lays out many of these reasons you should be using content marketing in this infographic.

    Content Marketing Stats Infographic

    Here are at least 8 reasons you should be using content marketing for your mom blog.

    #1 Content Marketing Has a Conversion Rate 6x Higher

    Blogs, businesses + websites using content marketing convert six times more visitors than businesses that do not use content.

    #2 Content Marketing Has a Higher Closing Rate

    Organic search leads (those that come from conducting online searches) that bring people a blog post have a higher closing rate than other types of marketing.

    Think back to the mom frantically searching for everything she needs to know about returning to work as a pumping mom. Your blog — content marketing — provided her with all the answers to her burning questions.

    Content marketing closing rates are 14.6%, while outbound leads (like sales calls or cold emails) only close in the neighborhood of 1.7%.

    Moral of the Story: When you use content marketing, search engines, like Google, pick it up. The people searching for the information you’re providing find it in their searches. When they read your content, they hire you, buy from you, click on your affiliate links + ads. The best part is that content marketing doesn’t cost you a dime but it does mean that you have to have your SEO on point.

    #3 Content Marketing Delivers More Leads

    Content marketing bring 54% more leads than outbound marketing efforts. That’s more than double the leads, my Mama friend. That’s more than double the chance to convert visitors to your blog into money!

    #4 Your Peeps Love Content

    Ninety percent (that’s almost 100%) of consumers say that they find custom content USEFUL. If your peeps find that you are providing useful content, information, tips + advice, it is reasonable to conclude that they are going to see you an expert, as a source of information + maybe even hire you, buy from you or start clicking on affiliate links + ads that make you money.

    #5 It Shows Peeps You Care

    Seventy-eight percent of online searchers say that bloggers sharing custom content (content that is USEFUL + relevant to them) want to build good relationships with them.

    #6 Your Peeps are Looking for Content

    Online searchers admit to spending half of their time online (53%) searching for content—searching for information. When you give them the content they seek, you’re putting your company in a position to do blog/business with them. Think about that!

    #7 Content Marketing Drives Sales

    More than half, 60%, of consumers that read content about a specific product or service make a purchase or hire the service provider. This is HUGE.

    More than half of the people that are reading content use this as a jumping off point for hiring a service provider or for buying a product that relates to the content topic.

    #8 Desire Info over Advertising

    People crave information. Content that you write + share with them provides people with information. The stats prove this because 70% say they would rather get to know a blogger/business/professional by reading their content than by reading their advertisements. People are not dumb. They know when they are being marketed to with an ad.

    Content that contains links to useful + relevant products or services is viewed as helpful + useful rather than sleezy sales tactics. (Of course, it is the law to tell readers that it is an affiliate link they are about to click on but since you’ve built a relationship with them by providing them information, they don’t mind making that click.)

    These facts + figures can quickly reveal why content should be part of your marketing plan. Use marketing content to attract more visitors + make more money.

    Here is Content Marketing at Work

    Let’s say you have a blog about pumping. You share information on everything a mom needs to know about pumping.

    A mom who is getting ready to go back to work after maternity leave is frantically searching online about everything she needs to know about returning to work as a pumping mom.

    She’s looking for the best pump bags, how to store her pumped milk, a pumping schedule, ways to convince her baby to take a bottle (+ the list just goes on + on).

    She comes across your site + starts to browse your blog posts — your content. During the browsing process, she comes across your blog that shares a sample pumping schedule for working moms + tips + advice about pumping while working.

    She devours this article, subscribes to + downloads the printable pumping schedule + then clicks on your article about the 10 Best Pump Bags for Working Mothers. She falls in love with one of these bags, adds it to her cart + places the order. It’s going to arrive just before she heads back to her job.

    As an affiliate for the pump bag company, you’ve just made a commission.

    Next up, your article on the easiest ways to convince a nursing baby to drink breast milk from a bottle. She weeps with joy.

    You’ve just become this mom’s SHE-ro! She bookmarks your blog + subscribes to get blog updates. She is never going to forget your name or the name of your blog + the next time she needs an information, tips or advice, guess whose blog she’s going to hit up first?

    Yup, yours.

    This is all content marketing at work. In this particular example, it is one type of content marketing at work — blog posts. I’ll talk more later about other types of content marketing + how to do content marketing for a mom blog.

    Types of Content Marketing

    As a mommy blogger, you’re probably already using at least one form of content marketing on your blog — blog posts. Content isn’t just text. Content goes beyond blog posts.

    Types of Content MarketingContent you can share online these days is all about:

    • Blog posts
    • Infographics
    • Teaser graphics/text (for Pinterest, Instagram, FB, etc.)
    • Videos
    • eBooks
    • Case studies
    • Audio files
    • Webinars
    • PDFs
    • Printables
    • Checklists
    • Templates
    • Email marketing

    (To name but a few.)

    Today, I’m going to share with you some resources to create all types of content marketing for your blog.

    How to Create Graphic Content for Content Marketing

    Adding photos to your blog content is like adding milk to your cereal. (Technically, photos are content too, so this might be an obvious one.)

    Your posts are OK without visuals, but they are yummier with photos! Sooooooooooo many free + low-cost photo sites exist that you truly have no excuse for not adding at least one visually appealing photo to every post on your blog.

    Here are a few of my faves:

    SC Stockshop offers beautifully styled stock photos with all different color options, layouts + topics. I use these styled stock photos all the time to add to my blog posts, create Pinterest pins + more. You can get 20 FREE styled stock images right now.

    Oh Tilly: Gorgeous stock photos are so hard to find! I Oh Tilly is a great resource, with fab photos + it’s free. Register on the site + she delivers FREE + FAB stock photos to you on a pretty regular basis. Sock away those photos + when you need one for something, start looking at the pics you have on hand.

    Download the ones you need, when you need them. She also has a paid plan. Grab 15 FREE photos today!

    You can also use these photos to create graphics for social media such as Instagram + Pinterest with a tool like Canva (also free or low-cost options).

    Canva has some free pro layouts for various types of promos. Some are blog posts, Instagram posts, PDF docs, FB cover photos, Twitter profile backgrounds + more. It offers some free layouts + some are paid (I think they are like $1 for each one you use). Awesome way to create professional looking content of all types for content marketing.

    PicMonkey is another option. I love this monkey! (Maybe I just like monkeys in general because I’m a MailChimp fan too.) I use PicMonkey to create my own “teaser” photos, banners, blog post graphics + more.

    You can edit a photo online, add text + add other embellishments. Again, you don’t have to be a design genius to figure this stuff out, but it can help you look like a genius when it comes to content marketing your mom blog.

    How to Promote A Blog Using Content Marketing

    Here are five ways that you can use content marketing like a pro to BOOK MORE WEDDINGS.

    #1 Make Memorable Videos

    Video marketing is supposed to be ALL. THE. RAGE. Using videos as part of your content marketing strategy is not just about producing videos, though.

    No.

    It’s about producing memorable videos—videos that are going to attract, engage + entertain.

    Check out this example form the Dollar Shave Club.

    #2 Pin it to Win it to Use Content Marketing

    Pinterest is all the rage. Essentially, it’s an electronic bulletin board (or a series of boards) but, hey, it’s addictive (+ moms are addicted to it). In reality, though, Pinterest is a BIG ‘OLE search engine so you should use it as such.

    ModCloth tapped into the addiction + SO CAN YOU!

    modcloth-contest-resized-600

    The nitty gritty of the contest doesn’t matter because you can run any kind of contest that requires brides + grooms to pin their ideas from Pinterest.

    Brides + grooms planning their weddings are soooooooo using Pinterest already. ModCloth’s campaign is genius because they are using the content on Pinterest to attract BRIDES + GROOMS that are already using the site anyway.

    But…that’s not all.

    ModCloth is an evil genius because contestants also had to “tag” their pins with the hashtags #weddings and #modcloth. This makes them evil geniuses because these hashtags help the entries to get in front of other BRIDES + GROOMS who are planning their wedding.

    #3 How You Use Our Wedding Product/Service Submissions

    Invite the users of your product/service, just like Sharpie did, to submit blog posts (with pics) on how they use your product or service.

    Sharpie took submissions (+ FILLED THEIR BLOG) with all of the different ways people use Sharpie pens.

    Everything from wall art to clothing, decorated coolers + more popped up on the blog.

    This is genius because they filled their blog with content they did NOT even have to create.

    You can accomplish the same thing with a service-based biz. Have brides + grooms submit ways they used your service.

    #4 Instagram It to Use Content Marketing

    Take a pic. Post it. Caption it. That’s what Instagram is all about.

    You’re a mommy blogger. You’re writing a sponsored post for a brand  toddler snacks. You snap a shot of your toddler sitting in her booster seat munching on the snacks.

    You post it on Instagram with a caption that reads, “It’s not just another toddler snack — even though it’s her 100th snack today :).” Check out my thoughts on some of the best toddler snacks up on the blog today. Link in profile.”

    Link to the blog post in your profile.

    A plug for the sponsor + a way to drive traffic to the content on your blog. That’s CONTENT MARKETING, my Mama friend.

    You can do the same with a page from your notebook or a page from your calendar. Blur it out a bit so people cannot read the EXACT details. Caption it with “All of the things on my grocery so that my toddler has healthy snack options. Find out what I think about the healthy snacks that XYZ Company offers up on the blog today. Link in profile.”

    #5 Irresistible Free Offer

    If you’re looking to build your mailing list, IFOs (irresistible free offers) are the WAY. TO. GO. You can promote it in soooooooo many ways to drive traffic to your blog + get them to sign up for your list.

    A free offer can be as simple as a checklist or a bit more complex, such as “7 Ways to Pump at Work.”

    The point of content marketing is to share your knowledge with those most likely to buy your services or products or click on the affiliate links + ads that make you money from your blog.

    While your own blog is an ideal spot for your content, you also have to spread the word that your useful + relevant content exists.

    Social Media for Content Marketing

    One of the biggest ways to get the word out that your blog post exists is to share it on social media. While Pinterest is not really social media (remember, it works like a search engine), one of the best ways to pin on Pinterest is to use the scheduler Tailwind.

    I use it + love it. If you use my link, you get your first month of Tailwind for FREE. As a blogger, if you’re not using Pinterest, start using it now. Moms are all over Pinterest + Pinterest is the second largest search engine (second only to Google).

    For other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter + Instagram, I am in L-O-V-E with Recurpost. It is a social media management tool like no other.

    Not only can you schedule your social media updates, but it puts your social media updates on autopilot (autopilot on steroids). You see, Recurpost stores your content in categories that create.

    You can create a schedule of your categories. Recurpost chooses content from your content library to share from the appropriate category (So you upload content one time + Recurpost re-posts it over + over again).

    You can also schedule updates for one-time use. Recurpost is my crush.

    Hootsuite is another option for automating your social media posts. When you want to send out an update, you can type it one time + it updates all of the social media accounts you have connected to Hootsuite.

    Buffer is another social media scheduling tool. You can add your social media accounts, create an update one time + send it out into the social media universe.

    The main difference between Buffer + Hootsuite is that Buffer does not allow you to monitor other people’s updates from your social media accounts (Hootsuite does).

    (HINT: If you’re solely looking for a tool to push updates out, then I like Buffer better. If you’re looking for something to schedule updates + monitor your social media accounts simultaneously, then Hootsuite is the better option.)

    Loomly is a social media scheduler that helps you put your posting on autopilot. It also provides advanced analytics so you can measure how your posts are performing. You can try Loomly for 15 days FREE, no credit card, no obligation.

    Email Content Marketing

    The very first thing I do with new content (after posting it to my blog) is to turn it into an email campaign to the appropriate list. I don’t always email it out right away. Instead, I schedule it to go out.

    (HINT: This often allows me to have my email content marketing done + my email campaigns scheduled well into the future, so I’m not creating these things by the seat of my pants.)

    Email campaigns get your content in front of the people you know want to hear what you have to say. Include share options (forward to a friend + social media icons in your email campaigns) to make it easy for them to share the content, so you can grow your list.

    Share the love (the content) with your list. These are your raving fans so make sure they have an insider’s view of the content. At the very least, be courteous enough to let them know when you have something new to say. When you write a new blog post, send out a notice to your email list or include the post in the next edition of your e-news.

    I use + highly recommend Mailerlite. It’s a free (or low-cost option) + easy service that allows you to manage your email list AND build + send e-newsletters + email blasts that look like a pro did it.

    It’s a free way to send out marketing emails that look like a pro designed it. It has all sorts of templates so if you can cut + paste copy into a template + you’re good to go. It has ALL of the features you need — including autoresponders!

    You have to start paying once you reach 1,001 subscribers, but plans start at $10 per month, so it’s a great program for bloggers with lists of less than 5,000 names (although Mailer Lite does offer programs for lists that exceed 50,000 subscribers too)!

    Another free + low-cost option is MailChimp.

    I’ve been using Sumo as part of my list building for quite some time now. Some big names that you probably recognize use it, too (AirBNB, theChive, Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss).

    Sumo is a suite of tools that help automate your business’s growth. What I love about this tool is it is something that is used by some of the biggest sites on the Internet but is also easy to use + affordable for people like me + you.

    Content Marketing with Reddit

    This is hands down one of the biggest sources of traffic when I promote wedding content. From one blog post that I shared on Reddit, it generated 143 visits to ONE post in ONE DAY.

    It is totally free to set up a Reddit account + you can make it easy to share by adding a Reddit button to your blog post pages. After I post to my blog, I click on the Reddit button on my post + it allows me to add it to my Reddit account to share with the universe. (It’s soooooo simple I’m convinced my one-year-old can do it.)

    Snip.ly

    Snip.ly is another content marketing option that allows you to piggyback on the content marketing that big businesses/websites/companies/publications are already distributing. I was able to piggyback on an Entrepreneur article with a similar topic that brought the most comments to date to my blog posts.

    1. Head on over to your fave search engine.
    2. Conduct a search on the topic of your article.
    3. Copy the link to the article you choose. (HINT: If it’s at the top of Google, for example, then it probably is there because it has a lot of views, shares + comments.)
    4. Once you’re in your snip.ly account, paste the link to the article you found + click the snip button.
    5. Fill in the popup box info + hit create.

    Does Size Matter in Blog Content Marketing

    When you sit down to write a blog post, you’re likely wondering if  a short post is better or if a longer blog post is the way to go with content marketing.

    There are two main schools of thought on whether a blog post should be short or long.

    Content Marketing Big Ideas from Small Beginnings

    1. Blog Posts Should be Short

    Some think, my readers are busy. They have short attention spans, so they don’t pay attention for longer than about 20 seconds (maybe even less).

    I have to shove this information down their throat..do it quick…+ get them to do what I want them to do.

    It’s not a wrong thought process + one the advertising world has been using for DECADES.

    2. Blog Posts Should be Long

    Maybe you’re thinking, “Define long.”

    Fair enough.

    Long is typically copy of 1,000 to 2,500+ words. This school of thought has a valid point. When someone is looking for information on a topic, they want to come to one place, get all the info they need.

    Truth be told, search engines like Google LOVE long content too.

    Studies show that the best results for rankings with Google in 2019 are blog posts or pages that have at least 1,705 words. (That’s at least 1,705 words, which means more words can mean even better rankings.)

    When you think about it, it’s pretty hard to cram a lot of quality content into the average 500-word blog post. It generally takes quite a bit more words (more detail) to truly provide the quality content that moms + Google are looking for.

    Content Marketing Makes Your Blog Focused + Fabulous

    So, which is the right choice?

    It depends.

    What does it depend on?

    I am so glad you asked.

    #1 Audience: Who You Want to Attract

    It depends on the mamas or the peeps you are trying to attract. Some are information hounds. They crave info. They seek it out. They devour it when they discover it.

    (I would say that generally speaking MOST moms fall into this category but it’s not all of them, of course, so you have to determine what kind of mamas fall in the category that you’re trying to attract.)

    Others are time starved + don’t have time to belabor every, little word you put in your blog post. So, first, you have to know who you’re dealing with on the other end of your words.

    The best way to figure this out is to ask them + to test out the length of your blog posts to see which performs better. You can view your site stats to see which of your blog posts get more traffic.

    It’s easy to see if these are ones that are shorter or longer in length.

    Tim Brown, the owner of The Hook Agency, goes into detail about how to determine which length of blog posts is your best performers in his article, “How long should a blog post be in 2019 for SEO purposes?” 

    #2 The Info: What Information You’re Sharing

    Another factor is the type of information you’re sharing. Some information requires details — a ton of information. Some doesn’t.

    My school of thought + the one it seems search engine optimization is leaning toward, is to write so that it covers the subject at hand + forget about how many words it is.

    If it takes you 495 words to share, great! If it takes you 2,014 words, then that’s great too! Maybe even better since the minimum length for SEO this year is 1,705 words.

    #3 What Your Competition is Doing

    Spy on your competition. Google the keyword you’re trying to rank for with your blog post. Find out what your competitors (other bloggers, not huge authority sites) are saying + how many words it’s taking them to say it.

    Your goal is to make your content better + longer than your competition so that your blog post has a change to rank higher than your competition.

  • Summer Day Camps
    Raising Girls

    The Ultimate Guide to Summer Day Camps + Sleepaway Camps

    The end of the school year is suddenly here (today for my daughter finishing Kindergarten + last week for my preschooler). What are you going to do to occupy your kids for those long summer days? For moms who work either full-time, part-time or even flex hours from home + even stay-at-home moms, summer day camp does double duty as child care + can help save your sanity.

    I read a post from a fellow Mama yesterday that said her success for the day was not strangling anyone since her kids were already home for the summer. Success indeed 🙂

    If you haven’t thought much about the plan for summer but now you’re hitting the panic button, wondering if it’s going to be 3 long months of computer screens as babysitters… you’re in luck.

    Most summer day camps + even summer sleepaway camps expect + prepare for an influx of registrations at the end of June or early July. You likely have an array of summer day camps to choose from, depending on where you live + what still has availability.

    Types of Summer Day Camps

    The best way to find out what type of summer day camps are available for your child is to do a local search online. Here are some of the typical, activity-based summer camp choices.

    Summer recreation programs

    Many towns offer a recreation program, with typical hours from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. but sometimes shorter hours + sometimes longer. This is one of the most affordable options to get kids out of the house + socializing under the supervision of caring adults or teenagers. Your child will engage in a variety of activities, including outdoor play, gym exercise on rainy days, swimming + arts + crafts.

    Depending on the location of your town or county’s recreation program, there may be an option for kids to purchase food for lunch. Otherwise, you may be required to pack a snack + lunch each day.

    There will likely be at least one or two field trips to kid favorites like the local movie theater, skating rink or bowling alley, or perhaps a nearby farm if you live in a more rural area.

    Performing arts camp

    Kids who would like to develop their talents for singing, playing musical instruments, dancing + acting might be thrilled with the idea of attending a performing arts camp during the summer.

    If your younger child shows aptitude around the performing arts, this experience could well be the catalyst for future participation in music band, drama club + other performing arts-related extra-curricular activities.

    YMCA summer day camps

    The YMCA has long been a reliable option for summer campers of all ages. The YMCA offers indoor + outdoor pools with swim lessons for all ages, taught by certified instructors. They will also typically have indoor gym areas, exercise equipment, racquetball courts + outdoor playgrounds, basketball courts, tennis, ball fields + other kid favorites.

    Sports camp

    For kids with a love for sports there are summer day camps for that. At these camps, the majority of the focus is refining particular skills that apply to a certain sport.

    So for example, if your child attends softball camp, she will spend the majority of her day working on catching, throwing, hitting + fielding. Teams are formed + games are played.

    Other activities at sports camp will of course include meals, along with some free time + possibly swim time. If you know your child is really into, or wants to become a pro at a particular sport, then sports camp could be a great investment for the summer.

    Computer + STEM summer day camps

    A growing number of organizations are dedicated to helping kids develop their intellectual + skill set – with opportunities to attend summer day camps focused on science, technology, engineering + math (STEM) skills.

    This type of camp can be ideal for the brainy, mechanically inclined, book smart + computer savvy kid for whom intensive sports or hours of daily outdoor play may not be her thing.

    Since it’s a good idea to have kids be active for at least some portion of the day, ask if there will be some outdoor play to have the children burn off energy + enjoy some free time with peers, in addition to the educational experience they will be gaining at this type of summer day camp.

    The Right Type of Camp for Your Child

    The type of summer day camp that’s right for your child will, of course, depend on her personality + individual preferences. While parents who work may have more limited options based around the operating hours that the summer day camp offers, stay-at-home moms may have more choices in day camps, since hours might be more flexible.

    Since no mama likes to dish out cash for something their kid isn’t going to enjoy, start by asking your children what types of activities they’d be interested in exploring for the summer. These days, there’s something for every preference + taste.

    If your son or daughter is hoping to advance their baseball, basketball, soccer, or gymnastics skills, summer sports camp can give them an edge during the off-season, so they’ll return stronger + more prepared to compete when sports are back in session during the upcoming school year.

    Arts camp is a perfect fit for the dramatically, musically + artistically inclined. And scout camp or another type of outdoor camp that features activities like hiking, fishing, swimming, traversing the outdoors, learning about + experiencing nature + other related activities can be a win for the outdoorsy type of child.

    Hours for Summer Day Camps

    Drop-off + pick-up times at summer day camps depend on the individual camp where you send your child or children. Most summer day camps take into consideration that working parents need a place to bring their children early in the morning before they head to work for the day.

    So your child’s summer camp’s drop-off time could be as early as 7:30 a.m., or it may be a more firmly-set schedule that begins at 8:45 a.m. — but again it depends on the camp + their hours of operation.

    Camp’s pickup time, too, can coincide with the end of the work day for parents. However, if you choose a camp for your child that offers an array of flexible options, then you may be able to secure a pick-up time as early as 3 p.m. or as late as 6 p.m.

    The best way to find out about summer day camp hours is to make some calls to the various day camps in your area.

    Duration of Summer Day Camps

    Once again, the answer to this question varies greatly from one summer camp to another. You may find that some camps in your area require that parents sign their children up for a minimum of one month of camp.

    Other camps allow parents to sign up their kids week by week, as needed. If your child is signed up for all four weeks of July, she may see a variety of kids coming + going. Some summer day camp facilities even permit parents a flexible schedule of 2 days a week, 3 half days, or some other alternate option.

    Ask to see a printout of the camp’s schedule + itinerary, or check it out online if there is a website available to read + gather information.

    How much does summer camp cost?

    You can find camps that cost as little as about $500 per month, or as much as several thousand dollars.

    Many of the lower-priced camps are subsidized by the government to make it more affordable for working parents. If you’re worried that you won’t be able to foot the bill for camp, you do have options such as obtaining financial aid or being granted a scholarship for your child to have a free ride to camp this year.

    A higher grade-point average, being a well-rounded student + a track record of good behavior may be factored in when considering whether to grant a child a scholarship to camp.

    The American Camp Association has designed a scholarship program that local camps can elect to participate. The first prerequisite to a camp offering their scholarship is that said camp must be ACA accredited.

    According to the ACA website, “Each year, participating camps give scholarships to campers who cannot afford the entire camp fee and whose presence at camp will broaden the composition of the camp community.”

    The YMCA is another camp that is well known for offering a scholarship to qualifying families who meet their income requirements. If you are interested in obtaining a scholarship for your child to attend either of these, or any other type of summer camp, your best bet is to start your research well in advance of summer, ask lots of questions + be persistent.

    Fill out forms in a timely fashion, obtain supporting documents such as proof of income. The best way to get what you want is to ask for it.

    So if you need help affording summer camp for your child or children, be proactive. Make the calls, find the right person in charge to speak to + let them know your needs.

    Are Summer Day Camps Daycare?

    Yes, most summer day camps are similar to daycare. It is one daycare option available to working parents or parents that want to help occupy some of their kids’ time during the summer.

    Summer day camps tend to provide children with a well-rounded experience that combines learning, socializing, skill building, sports + more.

    For this reason, you’ll find fully qualified professionals who can provide proper care for your children; be counted on to react swiftly, appropriately + effectively in an emergency situation; are trained in CPR; qualify as certified life guards for the swimming pool or lake if there is one; + other requirements.

    You’ll find a registered nurse on staff in the camp’s infirmary, an arts + crafts teacher who likely has a degree to support his or her teaching skills + possibly even music teachers who have been formally educated as such, depending on the type of summer day camp you choose for your child or children this summer.

    Summer Day Camp Schedule

    Once again, a summer camp’s schedule can vary depending on the type of camp you choose for your child, the hours of operation + the way the camp elects to segment the day.

    If there are different age groups performing various activities during the routine hours of day camp, then the camp may opt to rotate these groups through each activity.

    There may be an arts + crafts building, a pool or lake to swim in, woods to hike, sports fields, or other features of the camp. It is up to the organizers of the activities to decide which age group participates in which activity + for how long, based on a variety of considerations + concerns.

    Young campers may prefer to have pool or lake swim time later on in the day after it becomes a bit hotter. Sporting activities may be organized for the younger campers during the earlier morning hours before the sun is strong.

    Rainy days typically present opportunities for alternate activities such as arts, crafts + indoor games.

    Again, the summer camp schedule that your child experiences depends on the camp + their schedule.

    Since these are just some possibilities, your best option is to contact some camps in your area to ask specific questions before registering your child.

    Do summer camps serve meals?

    Some, but not all summer camps serve meals. If your child is attending a summer camp based out of a daycare facility that provides year-round service, then they may already have a lunch program in place. In which case, your child should be able to purchase lunch on site.

    Some day camps/day care facilities have an ongoing relationship with local food establishments + may have worked out a Monday through Friday schedule of ordering lunch from various places, for a flat fee of around $3-$5 per meal.

    Day camps who do not offer on-site lunches expect parents to pack a snack + lunch for their child(ren), along with a drink, each day. There may be a large refrigerator unit where the lunches/snacks can be stored to prevent spoilage on hot summer days.

    Be sure your child’s name is written clearly on her lunch bag + avoid foods such as mayonnaise, which tend to spoil easily. If the camp doesn’t have a fridge or cooler for children to store lunch boxes, it’s a good idea to include a cold pack to keep items like yogurts, fruits + sandwiches fresh.

    Helpful tip: Be sure to follow up with your child about lunch at camp. Ask if she has enough time to eat her food or if there is a reason why she is not getting to finish her food. Be sure that she is able to eat lunch within a reasonable time frame + that the foods you pack are not being tossed into the garbage before moving on to the next activity.

    Lunches + snacks can be mixed up in the rush to get everyone set up with their lunch + eating. If your child seems very hungry at the end of their long + busy camp day, asking about their lunch + snack time can help you assess if you need to pack more food or something else is happening.

    For example, in one of my daughter’s classes, I found that her snack time was so close to her lunch time that she had a ton of leftover food each day. I started packing a smaller snack with the same size lunch + found that she was wasting less food this way.

    Should I Send My Child to Summer Sleepaway Camp?

    The choice to send your child to summer sleepaway camp versus summer day camp versus no camp is, of course, a personal decision. Before registering your child for summer sleepaway camp, here are some things to consider.

    The age of your child

    Summer sleepaway camp is usually for children that are at least 11 or 12, though some summer sleepaway camps may be for younger children.

    The maturity level of your child

    More important than age is your child’s comfort level which has a lot to do with maturity. Some 10 year-olds who are old souls may feel at home spending their days + nights with friends at summer camp.

    Some 14 year-olds may feel separation anxiety as a result of being away from their families for so long. Again, it really depends on the child, what they’re comfortable with + used to + other factors.

    How far away from home the camp is

    Some parents happily pack their kids up + drive 2-3 hours to give their kiddos the rustic summer sleepaway camp experience. Or, maybe the camp isn’t necessarily in the woods or mountains, but you’ve selected it for some special offering that your child can benefit from, such as arts camp or horse camp.  

    Keep in mind that in choosing a camp that is farther away, you are solely relying on other people to care for your child, even if something goes wrong. Are you + your child ready to be separated for such a great amount of time and distance? Will you be able to visit them at camp + how often?

    Other things to ask yourself:

    • Is there a special need or a special medical situation that warrants you’re somewhat nearby in the event of an emergency?
    • Is the camp located nearby to a family member or friend whom you may be able to rely on to help?
    • Will your child attend camp along with a buddy from school whom she can stick with for safety, a sense of security, friendship +the other perks of having a pal present?

    Benefits of Summer Sleepaway Camp

    Just as there are pros + cons to summer day camps, there are pros + cons to summer sleepaway camps.

    Children become more independent

    Although it may not feel like it at first, one of the best + most liberating times your child may have is while being away for a month or more at summer sleepaway camp.

    At first, they may be filled with apprehension at being on their own. But with so many fun things to do, new people to meet, friends to make, exciting experiences to be had + a newfound sense of freedom, it can do wonders for a child’s self confidence + sense of self reliance.

    Kids branch out socially

    Summer sleepaway camp is an opportunity for your child to make new friends with new + different types of kids, some of whom she may have never known prior to this experience.

    Culturally + socially, your child can broaden her horizons after meeting new friends from different towns, cities + states around the country, at summer sleepaway camp.  A bunk buddy from summer camp could become a long-distance pen pal to keep in touch with the whole year through.

    Your child can conquer fears

    As parents we mean well, but sometimes our presence can actually hinder our children’s personal growth as we fall into the same predictable behavior patterns. An extended time away from parents, brothers + sisters can help a child break out of her shell to be bold in ways she may never have considered possible.

    Kids can learn new ways of doing things. In meeting different people, having a new routine + undertaking new experiences, your child may learn how to do things in new ways. This can contribute to worldly wisdom + expanding one’s awareness, which is a good thing for maturity + personal growth.

    Questions to ask before signing your child up for summer day camp:

    • What is the daily camp schedule?
    • What are drop-off + pick-up times?
    • What age groups is this camp?
    • What is the camp’s activity schedule for a particular age group?
    • Are there themed weeks at this camp + if so what are the themes for this summer?
    • Will there be a field trip, or several of them + if so, to where?
    • What age are the people in charge of overseeing the campers (i.e. camp counselors, junior counselors, directors, instructors, coaches, etc.)
    • How many children per counselor or junior counselor?
    • Is my child required to have a physical performed by her doctor before attending camp?
    • Am I required to sign my child up to camp for a minimum of days; for example, a full month?
    • Is there a discount or other type of tiered pricing based on the number of days or weeks a child attends camp?
    • Is there a family discount for sending more than one child to camp?
    • Is lunch available for purchase on site, or do I have to pack a bagged lunch?
    • What other items am I required to have my child pack each day for camp (typically a swim suit + towel, lunch + snack, sneakers or hiking shoes, rain poncho, other?)
    • If my child is attending a specialty camp, what type of equipment, supplies, uniform or outfit am I expected to purchase in advance?
    • Is financial aid or a scholarship available?

    How to Afford Summer Camp

    Summer camp fees vary depending on the type of camp your child attends + the duration of the camp. A summer recreation program based out of the school may be more affordable than a specialty camp that focuses on advanced skills like horseback riding, computers, fine arts, or sports such as baseball or gymnastics.

    One way to help offset the cost of camp is to have your child “work for camp” – that is, assuming this is a camp that she really wants to attend. Not only will chipping in to pay for camp teach your child the value of a hard-earned dollar, but they can gain valuable skills in the process.

    There are plenty of tasks that busy moms + neighbors can outsource to young people with a mind for making money to pay for summer camp. There are local moms in need of babysitting or a mother’s helper.

    Other ideas for kids to make money for camp include running a paper route, mowing lawns, doing yard work or running errands, house sitting, washing cars + walking dogs.

    Is financial aid available for summer camp?

    According to an article in USA today, a 2018 survey by the American Camp Association, 93% of U.S. camps who responded to the survey claimed to have some sort of financial aid available for families who qualify.

    Don’t allow the stress of paying for summer day camp paralyze you from taking action. If you’re looking for a way to obtain financial aid for summer camp, inquire about need-based grants in which your household income will factor in to the amount that you’re required to pay for summer camp.

    Another option is a scholarship. If you are a lower-income family, single mother or someone on a limited budget, it can benefit you to begin searching for an affordable camp situation well in advance of school letting out.

    If you are really strapped for cash + cannot afford to send your child to summer, check out what the mom from Simply Made Fancy does to host a summer camp for her own kids at home.

  • How to Increase Blog Traffic Fast
    Mom Blogger Resources

    How to Increase Blog Traffic Fast

    Once you’ve had your mommy blog for a while, you’re going to have a lot of old blog posts. Sure, some of the information on these posts is evergreen (so it doesn’t really change much) + it remains sage advice.

    Other blog posts age, however, so the information becomes outdated. You can breathe new life into your old blog posts, which can mean that you attract the search engines + your peeps by running through your old content + doing one or more of these 10 things to update blog posts.

    How to Increase Blog Traffic Fast

    So the #1 way on how to increase blog traffic fast is to update old blog posts.

    #1 SEO the Title

    Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a huge role in your audience finding your content, your blog post, your website/business + you. Focus a lot on optimizing your blog posts so your audience finds the information you’re sharing.

    Start at the beginning with the title of the blog post. Revise the title to include the keyword you are focusing on for this particular post.

    #2 SEO the Link

    Then move on to optimizing the URL or permalink for the blog post. Generally, this link is your domain name followed by the title of the post. When you revise the title to include the targeted keyword make sure that you change the link/URL/permalink to also include the keyword.

    It’s one more positive step toward optimizing your blog post to help it rank better in the search engines + be found by your audience.

    #3 Re-write + Revamp Copy

    If your blog post is a few years old, you’ve probably gotten a lot better at writing. Show it off by going through the copy of the post + re-writing + re-vamping it to show off your refined writing skills. You can finesse sentences, switch out words + do whatever else you need to do to make the copy + content pop.

    #4 Fix Spelling + Grammar Errors

    We all have typos + errors (even me!). We are, after all, human. Proofread your content to make sure that it is free of spelling + grammar errors, which can be a big turnoff to some. Use a spell check + grammar check program, if you need help in this area.

    #5 Update Old Facts + Figures

    Update any old stats, facts or figures that you include in the blog post. Again, if the post is 1 year or older, these stats, facts + figures can easily be outdated. This is especially true if you list out dates or years in your posts.

    For example, a post on the top 10 strong girl names for 2018 became outdated as soon as 2019 began. You can create an entirely new post by going through to update everything in the article that has changed.

    #6 Add Links

    Go through the post + add links, where appropriate. Add internal links, so links to other blog posts or pages on your site that provide additional information on the topic you’re covering in the post.

    Also, add external links, so links to blog posts, articles + other websites that provide additional information. It should be said that you should link appropriately + don’t get too crazy with the links. One internal + one external link per post can be sufficient.

    Although, Neil Patel from QuickSprout suggests adding a link about every 200 words but only when appropriate.

    #7 Fix Broken Links

    Links in your post can be outdated + broken. Check existing links in the post to make sure that it still works + goes to the right page, post or article. Fix + update any broken links so they work again or remove links that cannot be updated or fixed.

    #8 Optimize Photos

    All of your blog posts should have at least one photo. If it doesn’t, then get on it–adding at least one photo, pronto! You can optimize your photos, too.

    Simply name the photo as you save it + upload to your post so that the name of the photo contains the keyword you’re focusing on for the post. If it is an existing photo on the post, you can either rename it + re-upload it or edit the photo name in the post so it contains the keyword.

    You can also change the alt text + title of the photo so it contains the keywords.

    #9 Create a Pinnable Image

    Pinterest is huge so it should be a huge focus for mom bloggers. Make sure that all of your posts contain at least one pinnable image. You might notice that I have an image in my posts that is on brand for my business + then I have a pinnable image also. You can do it the same way or you can have one image that is optimized, on brand + pinnable.

    #10 Update the Keyword + Meta Description

    Update the keyword (if necessary) to match the keyword you’ve been using throughout your updates. Re-write or revise your meta description. While the meta description doesn’t have anything to do with the search engine ranking, it is what your audience tends to read when your blog post pops up in their search. Make sure it contains the keyword + a description that is going to grab their attention.

    Updating old blog posts is easy + can go a long way in helping to increase blog traffic by gettting your blog posts in front of the mommies that you’re trying to attract.

  • How to Protect From Child Bee Stings
    Raising Girls

    How to Protect From Child Bee Stings

    If you’ve ever suffered a bee sting, you know how painful they can be. As a parent, it’s natural to want to keep your child from experiencing that same discomfort.

    Here are some tips on how to protect your child from bee stings.

    Wear Protective Clothing to Avoid Child Bee Stings

    Bees + wasps are most active during the cooler periods of the day, sunrise + at sunset. If your children are outside during this time, make sure they’re wearing long sleeves + pants. Caution them against running barefoot through untended grassy areas.

    In addition, their shirts should be tucked into their pants whenever possible. Avoid dressing them in dark colors or floral patterns, as both are known to attract wasps and bees.

    Long sleeves + pants can also help to protect them from flea + tick bites.

    Check Your Home

    You can help prevent wasps’ nests by spraying beneath your eaves with an insecticide sometime in early spring (April is the best time to do this). If you do find yourself dealing with an infestation, a pest control company can help you get rid of the nests.

    Visits typically cost under $200 + you can get rid of the fear + hassle of removing the wasps yourself.

    Pest control companies won’t kill bumblebees when removing them because they are so important to the environment, so you should try not to kill them either. Wasps, on the other hand, pose far more risks than benefits.

    Keep Food + Drink Covered

    Since bees are attracted to sweet things, it stands to reason that they would be tempted to fly into an open soft drink can — + this is more common than most people realize. To make matters worse, a child bee sting in the mouth or nose can lead to swelling, causing respiratory difficulties even in individuals who aren’t allergic to bees.

    If you’re dining outdoors, make sure all unattended beverages are equipped with covers or lids. Keep food secure in coolers or refrigerated lunch bags until it’s time to eat + keep an eye on communal bowls + containers—especially if they’re being used to hold desserts, fruit salad, or other sugary snacks.

    While it’s impossible to prevent insect bites + child bee stings altogether, you can lessen the risks by following the steps outlined above.

    Now that everyone is ready for safe fun in the sun, check out A Complete Mom Guide to Summer Activities with Kids (So Everyone Survives the Summer).