The Most Powerful Way To Get Your Child to From “I Can’t Do It” to “I Can!”

Inside: Learn why encouraging a growth mindset in kids is so important and how one simple change can get your child from “I can’t” to “I can!”  This post contains affiliate links.


My eldest daughter is extremely bright and has an incredible memory, which has served her well as a student.

She knew her coins and values before she was 2 years old.

She had her ABCs and sounds memorized, read well before Kindergarten, and devoured chapter books by 1st grade.

She knew her addition and subtraction facts and could spell any word she saw once.

You could show her once and she knew how to do it, so she never had to study.

She never really had to work hard to learn anything.

And everything came easily to her.

Until one day, it didn’t, and it was the end of the world for her.

growth mindset in kids

Since she never came across a problem that was tricky for her, my daughter never knew what it felt like to not know the answer right away.

All of this “easy success” led her to have a fixed mindset about her learning and I can’t” and “I don’t know how” became her new mantra.

Because she didn’t have a growth mindset, she was stuck. And frustrated.

And so were we.

Why should we encourage a growth mindset in kids?

Since everything had come easily to my daughter in school, she never had to problem solve. Academically, she never had to face something she couldn’t do.

And so in her fixed mindset, that was it…she wasn’t going to be good at third-grade math because she didn’t already know how to do it.

Two-step multiplication problems were her downfall. She simply threw her hands in the air and gave up with a boatload of “I can’ts” as she quit before she ever really started.

What she needed was a growth mindset.

Encourage a Growth Mindset In Kids Using These Simple Phrases.

A growth mindset is the belief that anything can be learned and improved on, if you work at it.

Her fixed mindset had her focused on the outcome only: whether she could do the problem or not.

But a growth mindset would focus her attention on the effort she put in to learn a new skill or try a problem different ways until she figured it out.

It would allow her to not know something but still find success at it if she worked hard.

So why is a growth mindset in kids so important?

Listen, not everything is going to be rainbows and unicorns in life.

Not everything will come easily to us or our kids.

When kids face a new problem, they can choose one of two ways to respond.

If they come to a problem or roadblock or obstacle and say to themselves, “Oh well. I can’t do it because of x, y and z so I shouldn’t even try,” we won’t get very far in life.

They won’t meet their potential.

If a child sees a problem as an opportunity to try something new, they say to themselves, “Well, I don’t know how to do it yet, but I’m going to figure it out. I’m going to keep trying until I get it.”

This opens up a myriad of opportunities for them in life and provides them with limitless options.

I choose option B for my kids because I want them to want to try new things.

I want them to see their failures or inability to do something as a temporary set back or as a stepping stone to get better.

And I want them to be lifelong learners who are willing to overcome obstacles, not just stare at them and say, “Oh well. I can’t do it.”

So how do you encourage a growth mindset in kids?

 I used these 5 tips.

But really, it starts with how I talk to my daughter.

The way we talk encourages a growth mindset in kids:

I thought I was doing everything right. I was praising her spelling skills and her reading skills and her math skills. I encouraged her to keep reading, to keep writing, and to keep counting those coins.

But I was praising the wrong thing.

I was focused on the outcome, not her effort.

I never once told her I loved how hard she worked on her math problems.

I never praised her work ethic or told her I was proud of her for solving problems when they felt “too hard.”

And so I missed the mark.

I unwittingly set my daughter up for disappointment and frustration when she couldn’t do a new problem or a new skill.

So we had to back up. We had to teach her how to have a growth mindset.

So we had to:

  • change what we say to her and how we say it,
  • build her up with phrases that encourage a growth mindset,
  • let her know it’s okay to not know how to do something, and
  • let her know we value the skills of figuring out the answer more than her already knowing the answer.

Get More Tips Here –> Check out these amazing Growth Mindset Tools

So we now praise effort rather than the outcome.

We praise her ability to try new ways to solve the problem, even if those ways don’t result in a “success” or a positive outcome.

And even when she is successful in solving the problem, we focus on her willingness to attack the problem, rather than her success when she got the problem right.

A go-to “praise phrase” in our house is now: “You worked hard on that! You should be proud of yourself.”

Because here’s the deal, life isn’t going to be easy all the time.

Our kids need to know they can have a problem and work their way through it.

And if they struggle now when the stakes are low, they will gain the confidence they need to work through tough problems and “survive” it.

Because I want my kids to be up for the challenges that life throws their way, whether it be calculus, learning how to ride a bike, or figuring out two-step math problems in the third grade.

And I want kids who say to themselves, “Okay. This is a problem. I don’t know how to do it. Yet.

But I know I can figure it out.

I am a problem solver.

I got this.”

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Nicole Black is a recovering elementary school teacher, a mom to three super busy kids, and mostly survives on strong coffee. She shares her best parenting tips and tricks for intentionally raising kind kids, creating a stronger family connection, and bullying prevention at Coffee and Carpool. Follow her at www.coffeeandcarpool.com or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/coffeeandcarpool

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Child A Sore Loser? Try These 4 Tips To Teach Your Child To Lose Gracefully.

Inside: Help your child who hates losing learn how to lose gracefully without the fits of anger and disappointment.  


“I’m going to win! I’m going to win”  My 8-year-old beams from the other side of the table.

With the game board covered in trains and cards strewn all over the floor, we’re almost done playing our new game, Ticket to Ride.

My son is ahead in points and he’s downright giddy.

My husband pipes up, “okay, I’m out of trains, it’s time to count up our points.”

child hates to lose, helping children lose gracefully

We start counting and moving our pieces around the board with each point we’ve made.

Then it happens.  My son stops counting, he’s done, and I keep going and end up passing him by 10 points.

He looks at me.  “Mom!  How did you do that?!  I was winning!!”

Tears well up in his eyes as he yells “I’ve lost!  I’ve lost!”

He sits on the couch behind him, arms crossed, huffing, and glaring at me.

I tempt fate and go sit quietly next to him and I put my arm around his shoulders and gently pull him closer to me.

He pulls away and growls “I’m such a loser.”

Man, this child hates to lose.

Sigh.  

I put my hand on his back and say “I’m so sorry you’re upset that you didn’t win.  You played really well and you thought for sure you were going to beat us all.  Now you’re disappointed.”

“Yes! I’m disappointed!  I wanted to win!” my son says through clenched teeth.

“Okay buddy, let’s talk about this. There were 4 players and you came in second place, that’s pretty good.  You also had a really fun time playing the game and you really thought you were going to win.  It can be so frustrating when things don’t turn out the way you expect.  I understand you’re mad.

You’ll get better as you play more, and you’ll win soon.

Tell me, did you have fun playing?”

He sighs, “Yea, I like the game.  I just wish I could have won.”

“I hear you buddy, would you like to play again and keep trying?”

He heads over to the board and starts clearing off the pieces and quietly responds with, “Yea, I’d like that.”

This is a VAST improvement from his usual response of yelling, crying, and running to his room in a huff.

My son is a perfectionist and losing is hard for him, but it’s something we’ve been working really hard on.

Helping children who hate to lose, lose gracefully. 4 things every parent needs to know.

Losing gracefully without big explosions of anger and frustration is hard for kids, especially for kids who are always striving to be perfect.

But as parents, there are things we can do to help our children handle the defeat well, without getting angry ourselves.

Demonstrate Healthy Reactions

Teaching by example is one of the simplest and most effective ways to help children control their reactions to losses.

Let them see you overcome disappointment, congratulate winners, and hold your head up high when you find yourself in defeat.

Point out how well the winner played and also the things you were proud of in your own performance.

Don’t Always Let Them Win

Many parents make a point to allow their kids to win to help build their self-confidence.

Though this can be a good approach on occasion, children can’t learn how to lose gracefully if they never experience disappointment.

Once they are out in the “real world”, there will come a point where they aren’t going to come out on top and that can be a tough lesson to learn on the fly.

Now, don’t pummel them every time they win, they need to learn how to be a good winner too.  But, a loss from time to time will help them learn how to lose gracefully.

Analyze without Blame

Spend a little time talking about why they lost the game or match and what they could have done better.

Focus on places that they can improve and praise the strengths of the winner without being accusatory.

Teach Them The Power of “Yet” and How to Get Into A Growth Mindset

“Yet” is one of the most powerful words in English Dictionary.

When my son yells something like “I can’t win!”  I just reply with “Yet!  You can’t win,  yet.”

Yet is where we start to understand that we can accomplish things we just aren’t quite there yet.

Teach your children the power of “yet,” and that with effort and practice, they will be able to master the game (or math problem, cartwheel, or any other hard thing).

One of the best resources I’ve found to teach children about Growth Mindset and the power of yet is the Big Life Journal. It’s a Growth Mindset Journal for kids.

The 5-day challenges are pretty amazing too.

These challenges helped my son learn the power of “yet,” which is why he was ready to try again when he lost Ticket to Ride the first time.

As he sat up the board again for the next game, we talked about strategy and why I had won the last time.

He’d be happy to tell you that in that second game, he legitimately beat me by 14 points.

He was able to win because he didn’t give up and he learned from his previous loss.

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Amanda

I was a Mental Health Counselor who worked with children and mothers in both individual and group counseling environments before I became a Stay at Home Mom to two boys. I have a Bachelors Degree in Child Development and Family Studies and a Masters in Counseling where I specialized in Play Therapy.

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Life Getting Busy? Here’s How to Keep Your Family Connected

Inside: Soccer practice, music lessons, sleepovers, and homework, it’s hard to create strong families when everyone is pulled a thousand directions. Here are three resources that will help you connect with your family in a more meaningful way.  This post contains affiliate links.


My little family is being pulled in twelve directions.

No longer are weekends spent at home painting, and baking, and snuggling on the couch.

Now my kids have baseball games and scout meetings and sleepovers at friends’ houses…all things that take them away from us and from our home.

And since they’re getting older, they’re searching Google for school projects and know what YouTube is, and *all* their friends have phones.

Which means not only are they being influenced less by my husband and I and our family values, they’re now being influenced even more by their peers, the internet, and other adults in their lives.

If we’re lucky, those influences will continue to be positive ones that encourage our kids to be the best versions of themselves.

But to balance out these other influences and to ensure our children know our family is home base, our family is their safe zone, and our family is a place to reconnect and feel good about themselves, we have focused more on creating a strong family identity.

What is a strong family identity?

A strong family identity lets our kids know who we are as a five-some, what we value, and reminds them we enjoy being together.

A strong family identity is formed when:

  • our kids know our family’s values and what qualities we love and admire most about them,
  • our kids know our rules, our boundaries, and our limits,
  • we create lasting memories, funny stories and inside jokes,
  • we start and continue traditions and rituals,
  • we know our kids’ dreams, fears, and their crush’s name, gulp,
  • our kids enjoy spending time with each other, with us, and at our home,
  • we stop to enjoy and celebrate the big and small moments of their childhood,
  • we’re pulled closer together emotionally even if we’re not with each other all the time.

Do you want all of this for your family too but don’t know where to start?

There are three parenting books that are must-reads for any family who wants to build strong families.

These books encourage us to build tighter knit, mentally strong families that feel safe.

Want to get started right now? You can use these 11 ideas to start building a stronger family identity.

Keeping your family strong and connected when you're super busy is hard. But here's 3 expert resources that can help.

#1 Parenting Book to Build a Stronger Family Identity:

The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler is one of those all-encompassing, how-to-create-an-awesome-family-books.

His secret sauce is turning to experts in their respected fields and adapting their knowledge and information to make our families even stronger.

And he gives us advice we can implement right now without making us feel guilty. His main theme throughout the book is a strong family connection is “about coming together as a family whenever you have the time.”

The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Tell Your Family History, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much MoreThe Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Tell Your Family History, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More

He covers everything from family dinners to allowances to helping your kids fight fair.

Why should we all make the time to build a stronger family identity?

Feiler points out that a healthy, strong, connected family is “the group that’s most important to identity, to our self-esteem, to our capacity to love, and to our ability to be satisfied in our lives.”

#2 Parenting Book for Creating Strong Families:

The most important part of building strong families is to spend time together.

But how do we make the time to spend with our kids when life is so busy?

How do we slow down everything else that’s going on to ensure we make time for the important stuff?

And how do we make our kids grow up a little slower so we can enjoy their childhoods with them?

For that, I turned to Bringing Up GEEKs by Marybeth Hicks. As a kid, being a geek had such negative connotations. But for Hicks, “Geek” stands for Genuine, Enthusiastic, Empowered Kid.

Yes, please.

Bringing Up Geeks: How to Protect Your Kid's Childhood in a Grow-Up-Too-Fast WorldBringing Up Geeks: How to Protect Your Kid’s Childhood in a Grow-Up-Too-Fast World

This book encourages parents to raise kids who are “wholly themselves,” free to explore things that interest them without worrying if they’re “too cool” for it.

Hicks gives parents ideas to help our children develop intellectually, emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually while they’re protected from growing up too fast.

And that gives us more quality time to spend with our kids. It gives us intentional family time.

And it gives our kids a slower childhood which encourages them to be kids who want to hang out with their Mom and Dad longer.

#3 Parenting Book to Help Us Really Connect with Our Kids:

So we’re spending more time with our kids, but how do we make sure it’s quality time?

How do we ensure when we connect with our kids, we’re really reaching them?

I used Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages of Children to determine if what I’m offering my children as a means to connect with them emotionally is really what they want and need from me.

Because even if I feel connected to my kids, I want to ensure they feel connected to me and know with every fiber of their beings just how much I love and adore them.

And I want to entice them to want to spend more time together.

As Chapman points out, “Children receive love emotionally, but because they are all different, we must pay attention to their individual needs. We must learn to speak our children’s [love] language if we want them to feel loved.”

The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children EffectivelyThe 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively

What is your child’s love language? Quality time, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Gifts, or Physical Touch?

I really hadn’t ever thought about it before and I had mistakenly assumed they needed what I needed to feel loved.

But since my kids are different, they need different things from me.

Not sure how to figure out your child’s love language so you can feel emotionally connected to them? Have them take this kid-friendly online quiz to find out.

We might not paint together anymore or blow bubbles in the backyard, but we still purposefully take the time to connect with our kids.

We work hard to show them family time is quality time and it’s something we all highly value.

And more importantly, we make sure our kids want to spend time together as a family.

Even if that means watching YouTube videos with them and having meaningful conversations as we tuck them in about why they like their crush.

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Nicole Black is a recovering elementary school teacher, a mom to three super busy kids, and mostly survives on strong coffee. She shares her best parenting tips and tricks for intentionally raising kind kids, creating a stronger family connection, and bullying prevention at Coffee and Carpool. Follow her at www.coffeeandcarpool.com or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/coffeeandcarpool

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Stop The Power Struggle! Get Kids To Listen Without the Fight.

Inside: Learn the best ways to stop a power struggle in its tracks and prevent them from happening in the future.


“Hey buddy, can you please clean that stuff off the stairs so people don’t hurt themselves?”  My friend makes a simple request to her 6-year-old son.

He looks at her, giggles, says “Nope, I’m going outside!” and runs towards the back door.

My friend looks at me, surprise, embarrassed, and annoyed all at the same time.  She gets up and calmly follows behind

She catches up to him by the door.

He laughs and says “No! I don’t want to!  I want to go OUTSIDE!!”

Sitting on the couch on the other side of the room, I can feel the tension rising and it’s getting uncomfortable.

They’re in a battle and neither one of them are letting go.  They both need to win…

Her son continues to yell and say things like “no,” “you can’t make me!”  and “I don’t want to.”

power struggle with kids

She takes a deep breath and does the most miraculous thing.

She tickles him!

Seriously…she’s fighting with her child and she tickles him.  That’s not the normal reaction parents have when their child is yelling at them.

“I know you don’t want to clean the stairs!” she says as she continues to tickle him.

I giggled a bit, waiting to see what she does next because this isn’t normal.

Then she does the most miraculous thing, she hugs him and simply says,  “Hey buddy, I know you really want to go outside and play, and you can go.  But first, it’s important that you pick up the toys so they don’t hurt anyone.  As soon as the toys are picked up, you can go play outside.”

I held my breath, waiting to see how he’d respond.

He giggles and walks over to the steps and picked up the toys.

“Thank you!” my friend calls from the bottom of the stairs.

She looked at me with relief in her eyes. “I’m glad that worked.”

My friend and her son end up in power struggles all the time, and she’s been working very hard on learning how to prevent and stop them from happening.

It’s so easy to end up in power struggles with kids.

Stop fighting with your kids and ending up in power struggles with these expert tips.

How Power Struggles Begin

Everyone, including children, has a need for power and control over their lives.  It’s part of being human.

It’s comforting to know that we get to make choices and have some sort of control over how we live our life.

But children get very little control over their lives.  We tell them when to eat, what to eat, when to sleep, when it’s time to leave the house, what to wear…the list goes on and on.

When children feel a lack of control, they dig in their heals and fight back.  They try to get some of that control back.

Instinctively when this happens, parents dig in even more because they don’t want to lose control of their children.

And that’s when a power struggle begins.

What we, as parents, really need to do is give children space to make their own decisions, and to become more flexible instead of more rigid.

But that’s so hard to do!

How do we give children control without throwing all of our rules and expectations out the window?

Break Free From A Power Struggle

Yes, children need some control, but they still very much need rules and boundaries too.

So how do you give your child some power while staying within those boundaries?

Well, that’s the trick.

My friend did this amazingly well, and here’s why it worked.

Break the Tension with Humor

My friend was neck deep in a power struggle, and everyone in that room could feel it.

Both sides felt like they needed to win and neither one was backing down.

Nothing good happens when you’re in the middle of a power struggle like this.

One of two things will always happen:

  • you’ll end up yelling at your child and there will be tears, screaming, and angry words thrown at each other, or
  • your child will get their way and will know that all he has to do is put up a fight to get what he wants.  Then there will be even more power struggles in your future.

So what do you do?

Well…you do what my friend did.  You break the tension.

stop power struggle with kids

This is exactly what happened when she tickled her son.  It was so unexpected that he didn’t know how to respond.

But the tension was broken, and she was able to get him to listen to her.

Then she pulled this magical phrase out of her hat.

Say Yes…while saying no.

Instead of saying “no, you can’t go outside and play until this mess is cleaned up,”   she said YES! “Yes, you can go outside and play, but not until you pick up first.”

The message is the same, but the tone is different.

Children automatically want to fight back when they hear the word “no” because it feels like we’re taking their power away.  And we are.

You’ll get a lot more cooperation if you say “yes.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, kids need to hear “no” sometimes.  There are times when it’s appropriate to put your foot down and draw a hard line in the sand, but when “no” is all your child hears, it’s inevitable that they’ll start saying “no” right back at you.

So save the “no” for things that are really important and make “yes” your go-to response.

I know this all sounds counter-intuitive.  We’re the parents, our children should just listen the first time.  But trust me, you’ll have such a calmer and happier home if learn to work with your children instead of against them.

Take it from my badass friend, the mighty power struggle doesn’t have to rule your life.

You too can get a child to comply without the battle.

3 More Magical Ways To Avoid Power Struggles…

  • Help your children feel powerful by giving lots of choices throughout the day 
  • Lead with empathy so your child feels heard and understood.  They’ll be a lot less likely to fight back when they feel like someone “gets it.”
  • Build daily routines so your child knows what’s coming next.
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Amanda

I was a Mental Health Counselor who worked with children and mothers in both individual and group counseling environments before I became a Stay at Home Mom to two boys. I have a Bachelors Degree in Child Development and Family Studies and a Masters in Counseling where I specialized in Play Therapy.

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Top 10 Books For Toddlers!

Give a child a book, they’ll read for a lifetime! Encourage your reader with these top ten stories that are perfect for toddlers–from fun to and everything in between!

Secondary: Early readers are happy readers!

Courtesy of theblackhomeschool.comWe’re Going on a Bear Hunt

This endearing little tale by Michael Rosen has enchanted families for nearly thirty years–parents may enjoy (or still have a copy) of this charming tale, which centers around five siblings and their faithful dog searching for a bear! But they’d better be careful what they wish for…

This rhythmic, rhyming book will get stuck in your head day after day, yes…but with important lessons (different environments, prepositions, etc…) We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is sure to delight little ones and land a spot on your bookshelf forever!The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Courtesy of Amazon.com

Eric Carle’s 1969 masterpiece book continues to delight and enchant children as they follow their favorite caterpillar through the pages of the book! The journey is an engaging one, and staying to the end allows readers to witness the miraculous transformation into a beautiful butterfly!

Carle’s mixed-media art style affords children a new way to look at the world, and follows devout fans through a number of Eric Carle books–but The Very Hungry Caterpillar remains a longtime favorite!Close Your Eyes

Courtesy of Amazon.com

This Kate Banks original book is our number-one pick for a “before bed” story! The tale of a mama tiger trying to get her rambunctious cub to sleep may just strike you on an emotional level! Mama Tiger describes what kind of dreams her little cub might have, and promises him that she’ll be there when he wakes up. This adorably-illustrated story of wonder will send your kids off to sleep in no time!Goodnight Moon

Courtesy of seattlecenter.com

Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, might just be the most iconic bedtime book of our age. Most folks find themselves reciting it by heart, but getting one on the shelf can’t hurt!
Readers follow the story of a little rabbit’s bedtime routine, as he bids goodnight to his favorite things–both inside his room, and in the world outside his window. From stark black-and-white illustrations to bold, full color pages (that darken the closer you get to the end), Goodnight Moon is a creative and heartwarming story that kids will love.Guess How Much I Love You

Courtesy of guesshowmuchiloveyou.com

Sam McBratney’s bestselling book is a beautifully illustrated story about a rabbit and his father, both adorably one-upping each other with how big their love is! This sweet book is a fantastic one for dad’s to share with their little ones, and will always find a place on our shelves at home! More More More

Courtesy of Amazon.com

With vibrant illustration and hilarity all around, More More More follows three adorable toddlers and their caretakers! This uplifting book, which celebrates multiculturalism and diversity, is a joyful romp through the day in the life of a toddler–and we can’t get enough!Gossie

Olivier Dunrea’s classic, Gossie is cute beyond all reason. We follow an adorable yellow gossing named Gossie who loves her bright red boots–she wears them every single day without fail, in rain and sun, no matter what…until one day they go missing!
Gossie goes on an adventure to find her beloved red boots–and finds them in the most unlikely place!
Lessons of friendship and caring intertwined with lighthearted humor make Gossie an unforgettable classic!Dear Zoo

We LOVE Dear Zoo–this colorful, engaging, lift-the-flap book encourages kids to think outside the box! Rod Campbell’s signature style and adorable artwork tell the story of searching for the perfect pet–and when all sorts of zoo animals begin showing up, it’s bound to be and adventure!
But the perfect pet does arrive at last..and you won’t believe what it ends up being!In The Tall, Tall Grass

Courtesy of macmillan.com

Explore your backyard through the eyes of a sweet yellow caterpillar! Thanks to renowned author Denise Fleming, our kids can get a unique look at the wildlife in their own backyard as they travel with the caterpillar past slithering snakes, digging moles, humming bees and more! This book will give your little one a brand new appreciation for their natural world, and maybe even get them outside to see what the caterpillar sees!Kitten’s First Full Moon

Author Kevin Henkes penned this beautiful story about a tiny kitten’s very first look at a full moon–which she quickly mistakes for a bowl of fresh milk! Our little heroine goes on a journey to get that big bowl of milk, all before going home to snuggle and sleep, with a real bowl of milk waiting for her! This snoozy story with simple text is great for kids of all ages!

Top Ten Safest Cars for Families

When you’ve got a family to haul around, you’re thinking safety. We’ve taken the guesswork out of buying a new car–check out our list of super-safe options!Acura RLX

What this little sedan lacks in sex appeal it more than makes up for in safety features. You can make the journey with ease with a full range of collision-avoidance systems like proximity sensors, blind-spot monitors, rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. Should the worst come to pass, the Acura RLX boasts high-tech front seat and side-curtain airbags that are proven to keep you and your kiddos safer!Acura MDX

Couresty of iihs.com

The Acura MDX (like the RLX) comes fully loaded with a huge variety of anti-collision systems like stay in lane assist (no more crossing the centerline while looking for whatever toy or french fry fell into the abyss), a vehicle stability system, antilock brakes and front-to-back airbags. We LOVE this crossover for schlepping whatever you’ve got–kids, pets, instruments, gym bags, bikes…the list is endless! Mazda CX-5

Courtesy of caranddriver.com

Crossover lovers rejoice–the Mazda CX-5 is perfect for families! With plenty of space, it’s great for your whole gang, but you’ll also adore the extensive safety features included standard! With advanced stability and traction control and antilock brakes, you’ll stay safe in even the harshest climates. On top of that, with forward collision and lane change warnings, as well as auto-braking under 19 mph, Mazda has gone out of its way to manufacture their safest vehicle yet!Nissan Maxima

Courtesy of iihs.com

The rigorously tested Nissan Maxima fought hard for top marks across the board–new innovations and new driver attention alert system helped the Maxima land at the top of it’s category. The predictive forward collision feature is really the jewel on the crown, though, giving the Maxima the ability to track the speed and location of other cars, as well as applying brakes to minimize injuries in the case of a collision. When it comes to safety, you’d be hard pressed to beat the Nissan Maxima.Honda Odyssey

Courtesy of automobiles.honda.com

You’ve probably seen a fleet of these at every peewee football game and school drop off, but that’s for a good reason! The Honda Odyssey has worked hard to have the last word in family-friendly vehicles, and every year they outdo themselves again. With five-star crash ratings across the board (including in the ever-dangerous rollover test), seats and seatbelts that minimize injury, and the most solid body construction of any minivan on the market, the Odyssey continues its long reign as the minivan king.Kia Sedona

One might notice that these vans look completely different year-to-year, and the reason is actually pretty encouraging. With top competitor Honda Odyssey constantly innovating, Kia has had to kick it into overdrive to keep up. Thankfully, that means the introduction of tons of new features (including front-to-back airbags, lane departure warning and auto-leveling headlights to name a few). And did we mention the three rows of seats?
Yeah. Three.
Competition is good for the consumer it seems!Chrysler Pacifica

Courtesy of chrysler.com

Last but certainly not least in our “March of Minivans”, we’ve got the Chrysler Pacifica. With the newest updates, the IIHS has awarded the Chrysler Pacifica the top safety pick in it’s category–with all new child-seat anchors and front-to-back airbags (including and updated side-curtain variety), the Chrysler Pacifica has worked out the initial kinks in the system to deliver a one-of-a-kind family vehicle!Subaru Forester

Courtesy of caranddriver.com

Gone are the days of boxy, college-kid cars–Subaru Foresters are newly redesigned as sleek, adorable crossovers that are perfect for active families. We were caught way off guard to find that the Forester has scored itself a five star overall NHTSA rating, and HAD to know more! With the highest available marks in side-crash and rollover safety (thanks to the brand new rollover protection system), as well as airbags, auto-on headlights, blind-spot monitor and brake assist, the Forester runs with the big dogs now when it comes to safety! Toyota RAV4

Courtesy of Bright Cove

Another crossover we can’t get enough of–the Toyota RAV4 is amazing. One of the top safety picks, it scored the very highest in frontal collision safety. With both low and high speed autobrake, high-end airbags, improved body strength and forward collision warning, the Toyota RAV4 is unstoppable!Chevy Impala

Courtesy of Autoblog.com

Last but not least, we have the Chevy Impala! It was a hard choice, since eight of Chevy’s top-of-the-line vehicles have been awarded a five-star safety rating, but in the end, the Impala won us over. Reason being? Superior front-crash rating, top-marks across the side-impact report and innovative airbag technology make the Impala one of the safest sedans on the street! (Not to mention family-friendly features like easy-to-use child seat fasteners!)

Top Ten Party Themes for Kids!

If you’re looking for the best themes for your kid’s next party, look no further! We’ve compiled the most fun and most DIY-able parties under the sun!

Rock your child’s next party!

Pirate

Pirate parties are in again! With the new Pirates of the Caribbean coming out soon, kids are going crazy for pirates–felt eyepatches, paper hats, and a little creativity are all it takes to pull this one off! Chocolate coins become pirate doubloons, cupcakes coated in crushed graham crackers make a beachy treat, and a treasure chest (or old wine crate, painted dark brown) can hold sacks of goodies!Ballerina

Courtesy of karaspartyideas.com

For the tiny dancer in your life, throw this awesome ballerina party! Loads of pink tulle, some pink scrapbook paper and some cheap frames, plates and silver trays from the dollar store can help you pull off this look! And feel free to skip the cake, and opt for a MUCH cuter option–individual ballerina cupcakes! Check them out!

Courtesy of etsy.com

Make the cut-outs yourself from glitter paper for a cute accent for your cupcakes!Cars

Courtesy of spaceshipsandlaserbeams.com

Disney Pixar releasing Cars 3 in the coming months has called all the old Cars fans to action yet again! Any lovers of Lightning McQueen will adore this Cars themed party–paper cut-outs can make any labels, signs, logos and yes, even the wheels in the picture! Easy balloon bouquets make the race lights and traffic cones, and if you’re handy with fondant, you can made adorable checkered race flag cakes or cupcakes!Knights and Princesses

Courtesy of justshyofperfection.com
For the ultimate fantasy party, go with a classic–knights, princesses, dragons, kingdoms, castles and more! Let your guests choose (on the invitation) if they’d rather be a knight or a princess–then stop by your local dollar store for shields, swords, wands and crowns! You can use tissue paper to transform your windows into stained-glass beauties, and follow any of the awesome (and inexpensive) princess cake tutorials on My Cupcake Addiction on YouTube!Minecraft

An oldie but a goodie! Generations have adored Minecraft for everything it is, and now your little blocker can have the party of the century! Minecraft parties are so easy. Black bags with enderman eyes glued on make amazing treat bags, pretzel sticks make actual sticks, containers of blue jello can be water and queso can be lava! Chocolate cupcakes (or, as pictured, parfaits) topped with green sprinkles make perfect desserts and you can even decorate balloons with faces of all your favorite Minecraft monster! It’s sure to be cubular!Disney Princess

There are two ways to pull off a Disney princess party–pick one princess (your child’s favorite) or if they can’t pick…include them all! You can even DIY this one with ease–picking a few easy-to-make accessories can let each of your guests be their favorite princess! (Jasmine’s tiara, Pocahontas’s necklace, Belle’s rose, so on!) You can even make princess-inspired foods to fill your table–rice cereal apples (Snow White), peeled tangerines with a bit of celery in the top make perfect pumpkins (Cinderella), “the grey stuff” (Belle), or delicious and fluffy beignets (Tiana)! Wonderous Wonka!

This sweet idea comes to you straight from the pages of Roald Dahl’s whimsical book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory–a candy themed bash is just what the doctor ordered, and they’re so easy to pull off! First, buy up all the gumdrops, chocolate bars, sandwich cakes and candy canes you can get your hands on! Make yourself a golden egg machine, fill up cupcake cases with candies, make mushroom cupcakes and toss some giant gummy bears here and there! Give everyone a top hat (like Mister Wonka’s) and let the party begin!Slumber Party


Courtesy of doublethefunparties.com

What is a sleepover? It’s an elusive idea that can look different from person to person–so we thought we’d lay down a few basic ideas and then set you loose! Sleepovers need PJ’s, slippers, a place to crash, and breakfast the next day! One crafty parent bought slippers and eye masks for all the guests, and even personalized them with rhinestones! You can gift matching PJ’s or ask guests to come in their favorites, and bring a stuffed animal, too! Transform a room into a comfy fort (hang blankets from the ceiling, etc…) and pop in a movie! The next morning, offer a full cereal bar for breakfast, complete with toppings!Pool Party!

Summer babies rejoice! Pool parties are so much fun, and those June, July and August kids (while their birthday falls outside the school year) can still have the party of the century! With personalized beach balls, sunglasses and flip-flops, virgin daiquiris, fruity cupcakes and ice pops, you’ll have the perfect pool party in no time! You may even want to invest in some giant blow-up pool toys, just to add a bit of fun! After the sun goes down, go full luau mode with tiki torches, string lights, sparklers and smores, poolside! A Splash of Color!

Inarguably the easiest theme of all–take your child’s favorite color, and just go nuts. Monochrome color parties are all the rage, especially for your tweens and teens–the blue one above is just one amazing idea! Frosting, napkins, tablecloths, decor, cake, candy, cookies, treat bags, flowers…do it ALL up in your color of choice, and really let your imagination run wild! Trust us–you’ll love the result.
Here’s a yellow one, just for fun, with Pantone tiles as a backdrop!

Ten Essentials for Mom’s Emergency Car Kit

Traveling in style is one thing–travelling in safety is another! When you’re putting together your emergency car kit, don’t forget these ten essentials!

Courtesy of usnews.comJumper Cables

Courtesy of ebay.com

You probably actually have some of these hanging around someplace–most of us have gotten them as gifts, and sometimes they just kind of…appear
…and that’s a good thing. Take them with you no matter where you go just in case the unthinkable happens. You’re a mom, you’re busy, you’ve got places to go and kids to pick up, and if your car doesn’t want to start, it can become an emergency pretty quickly. Having these on hand (and a good samaritan nearby) can save the day!Reflective Warning Triangles


Courtesy of custerproducts.com

You can snap up these little beauties at your local Walmart and they are so helpful. They store flat so they take up almost no room in your emergency kit, and are perfect if you’re stranded on the side of the road! Especially at night these super reflective triangles can alert passing drivers to your presence and keep you safe! (Experts say to have three on hand–one for behind your car, one for the side, one for the front.)First Aid Kit

Courtesy of rei.com
Hopefully you’ve assembled a foolproof first-aid situation for your home–complete with emergency medications and everything your family would need! It’s time to do the same for your car–complete with granola bars and dry fruit for blood sugar drops, waters (that you change out frequently) and any allergy or prescription medications. It’s better to have too much than to be caught without!Spare Charger and Adapter

Courtesy of iooimages.com

Your cell phone is your greatest weapon and ally in times of emergency–make absolutely certain you’re never caught without! Keep a spare charger and car adapter in your vehicle at all times–that way, no matter where you are, you can charge it in your car, or at a gas station/rest stop if need be.Flashlight

Courtesy of gearpatrol.com

Yes, your phone probably has a flashlight–but having one (with spare batteries) in your emergency kit isn’t just a good idea, it’s essential. A decent flashlight is worth it’s weight in gold during a nighttime situation, and you can never have too many! There are tons of flashlights on the market, from nine to ninety dollars and everything in between, but a few key specs will help you pick the right one.
First, be sure your flashlight is made with LEDs, which last longer and shine brighter than the bulbs of old; make sure your flashlight is waterproof as well as easy to find (a bright color or glow in the dark variety isn’t a bad idea). Tire Care

Your tires are the only difference between a working car and a two-ton paperweight–treat them right! Regularly rotate and replace your tires, check air pressure and yes, carry a kit! This Smart Spair kit is a popular and great choice–but any tire sealant or patch kit will keep you moving! Inclement Weather Warning

Courtesy of thegreenhead.com
Being prepared for any situation is huge–and that means rain, snow, sleet and hail! Packing an umbrella (like this snazzy lighted variety), rain ponchos and hand-warmers are all great ideas, especially if you live in an area prone to bad weather! Trust us on this one–changing a tire suddenly takes four times as long in the pouring rain, so you’ll want some kind of protection! Gloves

Courtesy of wonderfulengineering.com
Solid work gloves make a huge difference when protecting your hands from nicks and dings–and they’ll happen when you’re digging around under the hood (or under the car!). Invest in a snug-fitting, strong pair of work gloves to keep in your car emergency kit. Duct Tape

Courtesy of 101waystosurvive.com

Enough said. The sticky silver stuff is the fix-all miracle of our age. Hold onto it. Hoard it.Tie It Down

Just in case you need hauled out of a ditch, grab yourself a tow rope that’s capable of hauling at least 6,000 pounds! Also have on hand some ratchet straps (one family’s minivan trunk decided it wasn’t going to latch anymore–ratchet straps to the rescue!) and other tie-downs for any number of emergencies. Even if you only need them once, it’ll be worth it!You’re not a damsel in distress anymore, Super Mom! With a fully-stocked emergency kit, you can do anything!

10 Terracotta Crafts for Spring!

Spring is just around the corner and nothing says fair-weather like outdoor crafts! Check out these ten crafts to spruce up your garden, just in time for spring!Terracotta Chandelier

This one comes to you from DIY Showoff (courtesy of fabartdiy.com), and we’re in love. These adorable (and super cheap) chandeliers can be made by throwing together an old, second-hand or thrift store light fixture, some spray paint and some mini pots! Then just grab your potting soil and baby flowers and get planting!Broken Pot Fairy Garden

Courtesy of diyncrafts.com
Terracotta pots break over the winter? No worries! Just turn those puppies into adorable fairy gardens! Visit your local nursery or craft store for all the moss, tiny flowers, houses, and furniture! You can keep your fairy gardens inside or out, and grow everything from succulents and mosses to ferns and flowers! This is especially cute if you’ve got little ones around the house!Terracotta Pot Lighthouse

If you’re looking to add a nautical feel to your garden (and maybe shed some light on those azaleas), consider building one of this sweet little lighthouses! With outdoor or acrylic paints, you can design your lighthouse to match your home or garden’s color scheme, and with a mini lantern (or solar light) you can even make it glow! Birdfeeder

Courtesy of the Garden Roof Coop
You can give your feathery family a head start this spring with cute (and squirrel-proof) birdfeeder! You can cut the little door in the side or leave the pots whole, then just attach a sturdy hook and hang from a tree-branch or a bracket by the door! The birds will thank you, and you’ll have a sweet, beloved craft to enjoy for years to come! (They make great gifts for grandparents too!)Birdbath

Courtesy of lowes.com
While you’ve set up a birdie buffet, why not add in a bath too! You can repurpose your pots into this charming little birdbath, and it’s a completely customizable craft when you add in outdoor or acrylic paints! This springy colorblock pattern seemed to be made with sponges and stamps, but definitely get creative!Welcome Sign

Spruce up your front walkway with this fun craft–a tower of pots with your address and a sweet welcome message written on them! For this, you can paint (or not paint) your pots, just be sure to use outdoor paints for your address! Even more, you can make a pair of them to match on either side of your front door!Rain Chain

Courtesy of designsponge.com

Gorgeous traditional rain chains can be made of anything from teak, bamboo, tin and more, and originated in Japan–but a modern spin takes this ancient idea and turns it into farmhouse chic in no time! Rain chains serve to guide rainwater while also creating a pleasing water feature for your home–and they’re replacing downspouts across the nation! Give them a try!Herb Garden

Courtesy of diyncrafts.com
Craft up the perfect herb garden with broken pots! The cracked pot pieces let you quickly identify the various herbs and plants–just grab a waterproof marker and all those shattered pot pieces for an adorable herb garden (which you should totally be growing anyway, right?)Clay Pot People

Courtesy of creatingreallyawesomefunthings.com

Yes, the clay pot craft in the photo is a toy soldier (most often set on the front porch for Christmas!) but you can take the same basic shape and make whoever you want! You could make your sister, your Aunt Bertha, Spiderman, George Clooney or Santa Claus–the choice is up to you! Make them mini (with tiny pots) or lifesize the the one pictured! We think it’s pretty cool that you’re only five pots away from a masterpiece!Terracotta Lanterns

Courtesy of curbly.com

Terracotta lanterns are just begging to be on your porch or patio! Rig up a simple light fixture and feed it through the hole at the bottom of your painted (or not painted) pot! These things will be the ultimate conversation piece around the barbeque!

Four Easy Safety Lessons for Your Child

Keeping your kids safe is a parent’s number one priority no matter what. So we’ve compiled the best tools and training to keep your whole family! Ready for anything!Fire Safety

Courtesy of newyorktours.com
A house fire is often the last thing that crosses the mind of the average person, but know this–house fires are common, and they can become dangerous fast. Families should practice escape routes and conduct fire-safety drills every month to keep everyone on their toes. When you practice, be sure to make it as real as possible, and change it up every time! Maybe block a doorway or a staircase, do it at 2 in the morning, whatever you need to do to keep it as relevant as possible! You could even invest in a roll-up ladder that hooks to a window frame and allows easy escape. Your goal? Get everyone (including the family dog or cat!) to a safe zone as far from the house as possible in just a few minutes! That way, should the worst come to pass, your kids will know what to do!Tornado Drills

Courtesy of nulty.com
Tornadoes are violent windstorms that primarily strike in certain parts of the world–”Tornado Alley” (the area between west Texas, east Tennessee, lower Louisiana and upper Wisconsin) sees an average of twenty tornadoes a year…per 10,000 square miles! Tornados are a common natural disaster, but can be weathered (ha, get it?) in perfect safety with a few tips:

1) Make sure your town does regular tornado siren testing–and LISTEN when they do! Be sure you can hear the siren from your home.
2) Prep your basement with essentials–a “tornado box” can contain a radio, flashlights, earplugs, flares, as well as food and water!
3) Just like fire drills, do tornado drills too! At night, your kids should be able to move from their beds (with their pillows and blankets) to the basement or safe zone within a minute.
4) No basement? No problem. Residents of dorms, apartment buildings or basement-free homes should head to the lowest possible floor and get into a small, central room (a bathroom or closet) or under a staircase. Grab your tornado box on your way!Home Invasion

Courtesy of consumeraffairs.com

One of the most serious and terrifying situations a family can find itself in has to be a home invasion–someone from out there coming in here. It’s scary, but there are ways you can be ready and handle the situation safely. First, be sure to take every necessary step in making your home safe–install floodlights, gates, locks, a fence…anything to keep people off your property! If you live in an apartment, you probably have a secure building, but if you don’t, make sure your door is thick and heavy, and has a peep hole as well as two solid locks.

Should someone get inside, remember that most invaders are looking for things they can grab fast–phones, tablets, jewelry, cash. Meaning all you need to worry about is getting your family out of the way–decide on one room as a main meeting-room (or two rooms, in case one is blocked). Make sure to have items on hand to barricade your door, as well as a phone at all times (some people go for landline, others keep their cell phone in this room). Also make sure that there’s a way out–through a window with a ladder or fire escape, or maybe a sliding door–in case your home invader has more nefarious goals in mind. It doesn’t hurt to be armed, either, but only confront as a last resort!
Run drills once a month.Incapacitation

Courtesy of abcnews.com

It can happen in a heartbeat–one moment you’re fine, the next, there’s trouble. From choking to a slip and fall, to a blood sugar drop or a heart attack–you can find yourself on the floor, unable to help yourself, staring up into the confused faces of your kids. They don’t know what to do, and you may not be able to fix this one yourself.
Even at an incredibly young age, your children can potentially save your life.
Teach your child your address and make sure they can recite it flawlessly–little ones can dial “911” and talk to a dispatcher for you if they need to. We see it all the time in the news–a parent home alone (sometimes a single parent) collapses and their adorable little one saves the day!
Go over with your children the signs that you might need help–tell them “If I fall down, and I can’t wake up/get up, then you should call the police.” Let them know it’s okay to grab and use your phone to get help, should the worst come to pass.