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10 DIY Fall/Winter Decor Items Your kids Can Help You Create

10 DIY Fall/Winter Decor Items Your kids Can Help You Create

When the air turns colder and the days shorter, it’s time to find a way to entertain the kids indoors. One way to keep them occupied is by having them help create fall and winter decor items. These projects are fun, easy and educational. So shut that cold weather out and get cozy with these crafts!

Photo by Dave meier Picography

    Living Wreath

    One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is seeing all the houses in the neighborhood decked out with festive flare. Wreaths are a traditional decoration that signify the holidays. This year, instead of putting up the usual dried pine boughs, make a living wreath. Creating a living wreath is an exercise in micro gardening, as well as showing our children that we don’t always have to destroy nature to suit our needs – such as by chopping limbs off a pine tree. We can create something beautiful that also sustains life.

    Makers Kit- permission given

      Mason Herb Garden Kit

      Fresh herbs make every recipe taste better, but let’s be honest: They can be really expensive. Growing your own herbs for pennies on the dollar is a great solution. Even if you don’t have room to plant a large garden, you can grow your own herbs indoors in a mason jar.

      Your kids will love this project because they get to play with the dirt and watch it grow. Gardening indoors will teach them about making use of the space they do have and the growing cycle of edible plants.

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      kaboom pics crayons

        Homemade Candles

        Does your kid have a bunch of old crayons laying around? Turn them into candles! This colorful project teaches kids the value and joy of upcycling. Instead of tossing out old or broken toys – in this case, crayons – kids can upcycle them into something new and different. For a scented candle, add essential oils. Citrus and peppermint oils are energizing and uplift the spirits. Lavender and cedarwood oils are calming.

        Photo by Kerry Foster soap

          Handmade Soap

          Making soap is a lost art. It’s now mass-produced, and most soaps contain chemicals and dyes that are unnecessary and potentially harmful as well. Teach your kids that they can make pure soaps just like their ancestors. To make it fun, use different molds, colors and scents. Candy corn soap is the perfect craft for fall. You and your kids can even make the soap as gifts for their teachers or friends.

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          thankful tree photo by Steven Yeh

            Thankful Tree

            A thankful tree makes the perfect centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table. This vintage-inspired design combines rustic wooden disks and chalkboard pieces with a tall glass jar and mixed nuts in place of the usual river rocks or glass beads.

            Get your kids involved by having them help you write out things they are thankful for. Help them think about all the great things that happened during the year and guide them to be thankful for things that aren’t materialistic.  It’s a good way to teach them to be mindful of good experiences they have.

            maple leaf photo by Amin mat Azahar

              Maple Leaf Globe

              Peering into a maple leaf globe will take you back in time to when you were a kid playing in a big pile of fall leaves. You jumped in and threw big armfuls up in the air so the leaves would rain down on you. Like a snow globe, a maple leaf globe sets a scene inside a glass filled with water, but instead of white snowy flakes, maple leaves in vibrant colors flurry around.

              Your kid can help you pick out the tree and leaves that will go in the globe, and after it’s all put together, you can watch the leaves fall and teach your child all about the fun things you did during your childhood.

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              pipe cleaner photo by Daniel Orth

                Crystalized Snowflakes

                This project is so fun and easy the kids won’t even realize they’re getting a lesson in chemistry. With just two ingredients, you can fill your home with beautiful crystallized snowflakes. All you have to do is dip pipe cleaners in Borax overnight and crystals form on the small fibers. When you wake up in the morning, you have beautiful crystallized snowflakes.

                You don’t have to stop at just snowflakes, either. You can make hearts for Valentine’s Day or clover for St Patrick’s Day.

                birdseed ornament photo by Sxates

                  Birdseed Ornaments

                  Adorable birdseed ornaments make the perfect addition to any rustic Christmas tree or holiday decoration. Making them is fun for the whole family. When the holidays are over, have your children hang them on trees outside. They will learn the importance of helping our animal friends thrive, especially when natural food resources are scarce.

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                  scarf by saxarocks

                    Hand-Dyed Scarf

                    Hand-dyed scarves make wonderful gifts. They are a one-size-fits-all accessory that women and men alike can wear. How do you make a gift that can seem so generic seem special? Make it yourself. Creating a hand-dyed scarf is a quick and simple project that your kids will enjoy. It may not be the most expensive gift to give someone, but your children will learn that it is the thought the counts when it comes to giving.

                    To make a special scarf for someone, your child will need to learn about the recipient – their favorite color or possibly their favorite sports team if the scarf will be themed. Putting thought into what the recipient will like and then coming up with a design to suit will hold more meaning than any store-bought gift that is more expensive.

                    window clings

                      Window Clings

                      My kids love to decorate the windows with seasonal clings. Make it even more fun by creating your own window clings using cookie cutters and homemade paint. It’s really two crafts in one. First you can make the paint together, which will provide hours of fun on its own, then you can fill seasonal cookie cutters with the paint to make window clings.  Make leaves and pumpkins for fall or Christmas trees and snowflakes for winter. Your kids will learn that even the simplest things are more fun when you’re part of the process from start to finish.

                      Use the cold winter months cooped up in the house to pass along the DIY bug to your kids. Not only will they get to spend quality time with you, but they’ll also learn lessons that they can keep forever.

                      Featured photo credit: elleau via flickr.com

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                      Published on August 15, 2019

                      15 Tips for an Overwhelmed Working Mom to Feel Better

                      15 Tips for an Overwhelmed Working Mom to Feel Better

                      As an overwhelmed working mom, you get a lot of intelligent ideas from magazines, friends and the internet about how to manage work, children, and a household.

                      Unfortunately, you may still feel exhausted and insufficient at work and home despite the advice to organize, cook efficiently and pamper yourself .

                      How great would it be to wake up tomorrow knowing that you can begin to feel better without all of those overwhelmed feelings?

                      The sensation of feeling overwhelmed when you wear a lot of hats: mom, professional, household manager, partner, friend, etc. has its roots in reality. You are absolutely doing a lot of important jobs. But here’s the thing:

                      If feeling overwhelmed has become your knee-jerk or chronic reaction, this emotion is now literally a part of you that needs your attention so that you can move forward more confidently.

                      If helping yourself sounds too difficult, never fear. These tips come straight from therapy and neuroscience to hack into your nervous system. You will learn deeper ways to calm down and feel more confident about yourself, your life and your choices.

                      1. Breathe and Notice What Your Body Feels like Inside and Out

                      By using body-centered therapy techniques, you can better understand your overwhelmed feelings and offer accurate and practical help.

                      As you’ll learn, when you feel stressed out, your thinking brain is not your best resource. In fact, simply thinking about and bolstering your efforts to “get rid” of overwhelmed feelings might actually make them worse.

                      The first step to help when you feel overwhelmed is to simply slow down and breathe. This does not mean that you should suddenly take in huge gulps of air or breathe rapidly. That will send you into panic!

                      Breathe normally and naturally. Make your breath comfortably slow, extending the exhale. Count 5 to 10 breaths.

                      2. Get a Little Curious

                      Ask yourself: How do I know I’m overwhelmed? Close your eyes or soften your gaze if you are able. Imagine shifting your awareness from your outside world and sending it into your body along with your breath.

                      You might notice the signals right away. For example: My chest is tight, my heart is beating rapidly and there’s a sense of frustrated energy in my legs and arms. Or you might just hear some words like: I’m freaking out, failing or cannot do it!

                      If it’s possible, get a little curious about this sensation. Consider that while it may be a big feeling, you probably have other parts of you that feel differently.

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                      3. Offer Some Loving Care to Stressed-Out Parts of You

                      Richard Schwartz, developer of Internal Family Systems Therapy defines our personalities as made up of sub-parts that interact within us. This explains why a “part” of you can feel one way and yet, you have another part that feels differently.[1]

                      Gently acknowledging the part of you that feels overwhelmed and offering it some support and compassion (as you would a frightened child) can soothe your body and mind. “I’ve got you,” is a great mantra to breathe in when you’re overwhelmed.

                      4. Get Smart About Your Wise Nervous System

                      You may have heard of the “gut” brain or “body” brain. The science of Polyvagal Theory shows that the entire nervous system impacts how you think and feel – not just your thinking mind.

                      In fact, did you know that your wise nervous system generally picks up information from your environment before your brain can interpret it?[2]

                      When you feel overwhelmed, just one tiny cue of “danger” felt in your nervous system is often the unconscious trigger that tips you from busy but competent to feeling freaked out and exhausted.

                      This cue could be as simple as a song on the radio that feels overly-stimulating, a child’s bad mood (even if it has nothing to do with you) or your spouse forgetting an unimportant errand.

                      5. Remind Yourself That a Feeling Can Just Be a Feeling

                      When you’re feeling agitated, your physical body is naturally on high alert. Any information or stimulation you receive at these times will feel overwhelming.

                      This is not your fault, but it is helpful to understand that usually, when you feel like you’re not good enough, it is not objectively true. Your mind may just be creating a reason for the signals of danger coming from your body.

                      Allow your body to feel without making a negative judgement about yourself or your life. This technique will help you break the cycle of feeling overwhelmed, then creating negative thought about the feeling resulting in overwhelming yourself even more.

                      6. Learn Your Most Common Unconscious Responses to Stress

                      Why is this important? When you feel stressed, you probably respond unconsciously in the same ways throughout your life.

                      For some, too much stress will quickly create a numb, hopeless sensation. For others, the thought that life is just “too much” leads to bouts of panic or anger. Still, others might freeze completely, feeling highly anxious but not able to do much at all.

                      From a biological perspective, all of these experiences are pretty normal. When you recognize that your body’s reactions are not faulty or foolish, it’s much easier to reassure yourself and move forward confidently.

                      7. Exercise the Part of Your Nervous System That Provides Wellbeing and Social Connection

                      Did you know that you can actually tone your ventral vagal nerve, the nerve responsible for feelings of safety and social connection?[3]

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                      As often as you are able, allow yourself to linger on your favorite memories that invoke feelings of wellbeing, connection to loved ones, times of beauty in nature or your favorite memories of pets or places. Use all of your sense to really feel the experience in your body.

                      By doing this, you’re activating and toning your ventral vagus nerve as you might tone your muscles. Make a kind of “body bookmark” of these purely content sensations to which you can return when stressed.

                      This practice may feel silly, like an indulgence or even a fantasy. But it is supported by science and is important for you to create a strong and healthy response to stressors.

                      8. Give Baby Parts a Break

                      No part of you is trying to hurt you. But parts of us do feel extreme feelings and carry burdens from our past.

                      For example, if you are feeling overworked in the present, it may activate parts of your personality that felt similarly earlier in life. Deep anger, fear, resentment or sadness provide a signal to you that something from your past could benefit from your attention.

                      I know this may sound strange, but the next time you feel very overwhelmed, take a breath and notice if you feel like a child trying to do an adult’s job. If so, spend a moment calmly and compassionately reminding all of your inner child parts that you are indeed grown, capable and doing something appropriate.

                      9. Address Critical Messages You Give Yourself

                      What do you hear yourself saying to yourself when you feel overwhelmed? You may notice parts of you that sound critical or even cruel.

                      Statements like “I’ll never catch up,” “Why do I try,” or “I can’t do anything right,” are very common to hear when you’re under stress. Believe it or not, these inner messages are likely misguided protective parts of your personality.

                      These parts are normal and try to help you by “whipping you into shape” so you won’t fail, alerting you about scared feelings inside, or avoiding shock or disappointment by anticipating how others might criticize you.

                      If it’s possible, acknowledge these parts as protective. Maybe express a bit of gratitude. Notice how the critical voices inside you, even though they likely mean well, cause exhaustion and even more stress.

                      When you acknowledge these messages inside, letting them know they are part of you and you see their positive intention, the critical messages calm.

                      10. Take Small Moments to Express Gratitude

                      Everyone is talking about gratitude, I know. But there are good reasons for this trend.

                      More and more studies about gratitude show valid connections between gratitude and lowered stress and mental health. A 2018 multi-university research study concluded that gratitude not only has direct effects on quality of life, but also has indirect effects through perceived stress and mental health.[4]

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                      There are many reasons that gratitude impacts our nervous systems in positive ways, but the best way to discover this impact is to simply try it yourself.

                      Take a minute each day to write down one to three things for which you feel grateful. These can be large or small, important or trivial, but they must be true. Make this a habit and watch your stress-relief grow.

                      Or you can try some of these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

                      11. Play with Time

                      In Gay Hendrick’s 2010 book The Big Leap, he talks about the concept of Einstein time vs. Newtonian time.

                      Newtonian time is the clock time we all watch all day. Einstein time is more about what you make with your moments, realizing that your perception can slow or speed time up.

                      For example, if you are spending time with someone you love and doing something you enjoy, time moves very quickly. Conversely, if you are doing a miserable job in uncomfortable weather, each second can feel like an eternity.

                      The next time you feel stressed for time, take a slow breath and remind yourself that you make time. Time belongs to you. Then, enjoy the pace and do what you need to do. With practice, this little tool will become valuable for overcoming the mental pressure of time.

                      12. Don’t Be Tricked by Perfection

                      When you’re in the thick of raising children and working, sometimes nervous energy presents as perfectionism. In an effort to feel in control, you may make arbitrary but unreasonable goals for yourself that feel like they are necessary or true.

                      Make a quick inventory of every job you are expecting of yourself and your family. Now question it all. What is really important and what is just preferable? What jobs can be left to someone else’s discretion, done well-enough by the children or dropped completely?

                      Keep any jobs that give you joy and do them joyfully. Let go of jobs that feel like standards or expectations with little or no payoff. Save them for retirement if you like.

                      13. Give Yourself Credit for Quality Time with Your Kids

                      Think of the time you spend relaxing with and enjoying your children as a $100,000 per hour job. Very small amounts are still incredibly valuable.

                      Showing your children that they are important is just as likely to happen in a ten-minute game of catch as in a whole day at the water park. A shared snack time, a book before bed, a half hour away from your phone to allow loving eye contact with your babes adds up to a lifetime of security and wonderful memories.

                      Imagine your child someday saying, “Mom worked hard, but she always had time to hug me, to hear about my day, and to offer me guidance. I always knew that I mattered to her.”

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                      14. Meditate for One Minute a Day

                      Yes, you may do more. But if you can’t afford any more than one minute, go ahead and sit comfortably, breathe and be in your body for this time. It’s such a simple but powerful exercise and the kids can do it too.

                      While you meditate, notice your loving heart. What does it need from you today — patience, compassion, creativity, caring, play? Remember to show up for yourself and you will show up for your work and your family as well.

                      15. Guard and Celebrate Sleep

                      From tinies to teens, there are many unavoidable reasons that kids interrupt your sleep.

                      Here’s the thing: Unexpected sleeplessness due to childhood growth or illness is normal and not easy to control. If you are feeling overwhelmed, though, sleep is crucial.

                      There are two things you can do to improve your mindset toward sleep so that you set yourself up for confidence rather than collapse.

                      One, prioritize and protect your sleep time. If you tend to wait until the kids go to sleep to complete work or finally relax, that’s okay. But don’t let these activities cut into your sleep time.

                      Given the choice between another load of laundry, Words With Friends, binge watching Game of Thrones or eight hours of sleep, consistently choose sleep.

                      Two, appreciate and express gratitude for any sleep you get. Sometimes, it’s impossible to get seven or eight hours of sleep. However, allow yourself to enjoy any time when you are laying in a comfy space allowing your body to rest and repair.

                      When you wake up saying “I didn’t get enough sleep last night,” you put your mind on alert that there is something lacking. This thinking alone can trigger feelings of overwhelm.

                      Set your nervous system up for success by appreciating any amount of rest.

                      Final Thoughts

                      Life as a working mom is not an easy one. Overwhelmed feelings are natural and normal but, they can take over and cause chronic stress and dissatisfaction.

                      Allow yourself just a few moments a day to reorganize your thoughts and feelings using the steps above. You’ll soon discover your calm and capable self.

                      Take a lesson from your growing children: small changes create big results now and in the future.

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                      Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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