Watching television is definitely one of my favorite things to do, and my kids are no different. I feel like letting your kids watch T.V. at all has become a taboo thing, but I'm all for it because it's a form of entertainment that can be inspiring, fun and educational. Completely removing a form of communication that is a huge part of our modern society feel extreme to me. Just like anything, too much a good thing can be harmful, so learning how to balance everything in life is essential. The American Academy of Pediatrics used to say that only two hours of screen time should be allowed, but even they are adjusting their views according to this recent article in Forbes.

I'll admit there have been seasons when the television was on non-stop even if they weren't watching it. This happened a lot when I had a newborn and Elle had just turned three. But now that I have my act together, we have more structure, and Levi and Elle play together. Limits have been set again that are much healthier. 

We're trying to stay around two hours of screen time a day (iPad and/or TV), but some days it's less and some days it's a bit more. Most times, it's a show or two in the morning, one show at lunch and one before bed. It has been so helpful to watch the clock on the amount of screen time because it showed me that having it on was more my habit than theirs. They occupy themselves just fine and I just needed to be disciplined about setting a timer.

I'm not the best at planning arts and crafts for the kids, but simply having some special toys for Elle and Levi that they look forward to playing with has helped. Instead of always leaving the toys lying around for them, I took advice from a friend and set some toys in a basket that only comes out during certain times of day. Elle particularly enjoys coloring, dramatic play and building blocks, so I got these Elle personalized notebooks from May Designs that she loves to draw in. Some pages have things she can color in and others are blank for her to create her own art. I love that because it encourages her to be creative in her own way, and to work on coloring in the lines too.

Playing with blocks is something that they love to do together. Well, actually, Levi just loves to knock down whatever Elle builds, but it's fun nonetheless. These magnetic blocks by Tegu are a huge hit in our home, and they look pretty too. It has been fun teaching Elle about magnetism and unseen forces.

I'd love to know what some of your screen-free toys or activities are in your home. Of course, playing outside is the best, but when it's too hot or too cold what things do you like to do?

Photos by Rennai Hoefer; products gifted by May Designs & Tegu


One of the best pieces of parenting advice that was passed on to me was to get on the floor and play with your children daily. I'm constantly interacting with Elle and Levi throughout the day, but when I get down on their level, criss-cross applesauce it makes them feel like I am more of a playmate than mom in that moment. 

We love to wrestle, we love to play chase, and, lately, the kids have loved playing Legos. Levi does most of the demolition while Elle and I build towers and pretend we're Sophia with her Duplo Sofia the First Royal Castle set. Sometimes Elle just needs some one-on-one time with me, and we'll go play Legos in her room. It's such a good way for me to get to know her imagination and work with her on her fine motors skills at the same time.

Lego recently launch a partners in play campaign, and this video brought me to tears. It affirmed the advice that was given to me early on, and it has made me make playtime such an important priority as a mom. I highly recommend challenging yourself to become a partner in play.

Photos by Rennai Hoefer. Sofia the First Royal Castle was gifted to us. 


Back to school is an exciting time for parents and kids. Shopping for school supplies, picking out some new fall clothes, making new friends, and welcoming another year of learning, fun, and growth. However, with all of these exciting changes, it can make morning routines much more complicated. Every parent knows the stresses that occur Monday-Friday in the wee hours of the morning before school, trying to get the kiddos (and yourself) ready for the day ahead. In my experiences as a mom (and remembering back to my own youth) one of the biggest time sucks in the morning can be picking out outfits for the kids. 

This year, I've decided to test out a capsule wardrobe collections for kids to simplify the process of getting ready for all parties involved. The key is pairing down your children's wardrobe to a smaller, more manageable collection of items that they truly love, while still having all of the essentials for whatever weather or activities come your way. Around thirty-forty clothing items is ideal for a true capsule wardrobe, but any consolidation you can do will make your life much easier this back to school season. Take a peek at the capsule collections below for some inspiration, and feel free to shop the looks straight from this page! 


Back to school is just around the corner, and I'm finding myself brainstorming new ways to make lunch fun and exciting for my picky eaters. Sandwiches get boring day after day, and it can be a struggle to keep coming up with ways to make fruits and veggies look appealing to a five year old. As per usual, I turned to Pinterest for some inspiration and found some amazing kid-friendly lunch recipes that I'm just dying to try.

What kid wouldn't be excited to bust out these awesome turkey and cheese "sushi" rolls from Weary Chef?! With carrots in the middle and a spinach tortilla, they won't even know they're being healthy while they're eating it. 

These apple and cheese rollups from Weelicious are a unique alternative to any sandwich. They encompass three different food groups and pair perfectly with any side of grain, like pita chips or some classic Goldfish crackers!

Every good lunch comes with a little treat, right? Instead of something completely sugary with zero nutritional value, try out these chocolate peanut butter granola apple bites from The Comfort of Cooking. The hardest part is restraining yourself from eating them all before they make it into the lunchbox... 

While all of these recipes are creative and delicious, there are bound to be days when you're crunched for time and a PB&J will have to do. You can still make fun by stocking up on some parent and kid approved lunchtime accessories. Click on the links below to shop my favorites! Also, if you live in the Phoenix Metro area, I'll be visiting Fox 10 studios to talk more about school lunches and Pinterest. Tune in on Sunday, July 24th at 7am on their morning show.



In my opinion, the idea of "co-parenting" should just be summed up in the word "parenting." I don't understand how the roles of parenthood were ever so divided. Being a parent is such a challenging, life-giving and selfless role that it really takes a team to do it well. I am continuing the Real Mom Series today on the topic of "Co-Parenting" with some other lovely bloggers. I hope you enjoy what I have to share, as well as my peers' stories. 

The Effortless Chic / Sarah Sherman Samuel / A Daily Something / Our Style Stories / The Life Styled / Parker Etc / Sacramento Street / Sugar & Charm / Apartment 34

Ryan and I grew up very differently, but one thing that we had in common was that our moms did most of the day-to-day parenting. My mom worked full-time and his mom stayed at home, but the roles of our dads were simply to work and be a disciplinarian. Our dads didn't do much of the feeding, cooking, laundry, diaper changing, homework, grocery shopping, hair brushing, play date going, etc. We both agreed that we wish we saw more of our dads in the picture, and so we knew if we had children that was going to be something we would be intentional about.

So, when we had Elle I thought everything would fall into place easily, but I quickly learned we had a lot of expectations to sort through. Co-parenting is something that, quite like marriage, requires constant communication. Right now, parenting is the source of most of our fights, but not because we dislike parenting, rather, it's because we want it to feel SO equal that the second we feel like someone is doing more than the other we start becoming resentful and agitated. 

When you first get married you divvy up roles. For example, Ryan does most of our bookkeeping, taking out the trash, dog poop clean up and we'll take turns on the dishes. I do the cooking, laundry, house cleaning and dishes. With parenting, we share roles. We take turns getting up in the middle of the night feeding Levi. If one gets up in the middle of the night for the 3:30am feeding than the other wakes up with the kids at 5:30am. On weekends, when Ryan is home from work, we take turns changing diapers, doing feedings, making meals, etc. But never do we have someone just doing dirty diapers because, duh, that would suck.

What makes the shared responsibilities muddy is the fact that I stay home with the kids and run a side business while he works a 40 hour desk job. I'm obviously changing a lot more diapers, making more meals, and playing mom more than he is, so when he gets home I want to be able to have a moment to myself. It's the kid free hours we fight over most and the sense of entitlement that we both feel to them. One thing that we both agree on is that being home with the kids all day every day is WAY harder than going to a desk job and having adult conversations. Ryan has stayed home with the kids for consecutive days while I was away on business, and he totally agrees.

So, we started daddy-daughter dates to give Elle more quality time with Ryan, and to give me a moment to myself. Another thing that we do is that we both have one night a week that we get to go out with our friends. Every other week we try to have a date night and hire a babysitter. Those three things have helped tremendously with balance. 

I would say the biggest thing that has helped us be better co-parents is a lot of communication. Sometimes we communicate with some yelling, but we have definitely learned it's better to talk than to bottle up any feelings.

Lastly, just realizing that we are in a different place than we were before children, and that we simply can't do whatever we want when we want has helped tremendously. Letting go of that expectation has saved us from many fights. 

We are an open book when it comes to our journey as parents, so feel free to ask more questions if you'd like. 

Photos by Creative Marriages