5 games to entertain your kids while you make dinner

After speaking with other parents, it’s obvious that every parent has their “thing” that they like to do with their kids.  For some parents, it’s outings to a play place or the park, for others, it’s sports and running around and for me, it’s coloring and puzzles.  I cringe when the girls ask to play Barbies or when they want to play house and I have to be the mom.  Again.  It doesn’t matter which activity you choose, your kids just want you to play with them.  They want you to be along for the ride, interacting with them and paying attention to what they’re doing.

Some days my to-do list is long (okay, most days) and the kids need attention.  In particular, I like to have a distraction for them when it’s time for me to prepare a meal, because otherwise they’re hovering and asking for snacks every five seconds.  You know, you’ve been there too.   It’s hard to balance playing and getting stuff done, but these five games will help you get through your to-do list and keep the kids entertained at the same time.  Another positive, they don’t require any physical effort or equipment, just verbal interaction with your kids.  You can play any of these games while making supper, feeding a baby, changing a diaper, folding laundry, when you’re feeling under the weather and more.

1. Animal walks

This idea was inspired by http://www.cbc.ca/parents/learning/view/12-animals-walks-for-kids-to-get-moving. It escalated quickly when the kids started telling ME which animal walks they should do.  Eventually, I didn’t have to say anything, and it turned into my own personal zoo performance.

2.  Quiet Sounds

Quiet sounds is a game my kids “invented”.  One person mouths the words and the other person has to guess what they said.  So, lip reading.

3.  Mama Says (Simon Says)

Thank you Jami the swimming teacher for teaching my kids how to play Jami Says.  Except they do everything you ask them to do, even if you don’t say Jami Says.  I mixed in a few tasks and managed to get the kids to unknowingly clean up their toys in the process.  Mama says do five jumping jacks.   Pick up three toys and put them back in the sandbox.  Mama says put on your hat.  This game is super effective, and the kids don’t even notice they’re cleaning up because they’re concentrating on playing the “game”.  Keep this one in your back pocket.

4.  I Spy

I spy with my little eye, something that is…an excellent time-killer.  While driving in the car, walking to school, waiting for supper to be ready.  I Spy can happen anytime.

5.  Starbucks (or your favorite restaurant)

This is a game I like to bust out when I don’t feel like thinking.  Basically, I sit down, the kids run up to me and ask me what my Starbucks order is.  They bring me the wrong thing, I act like a dissatisfied customer, they laugh, repeat.

I’m curious, what are your favorite effortless and equipment-free games for kids?  Comment to share your ideas!


Freezer-friendly Slow Cooker Green Turkey Chili

Make-ahead and freezer-friendly

As I mentioned in Five things you could make for supper every week, soups are an easy weeknight meal, especially if you can make them in the slow cooker.   I love this green chili (which I qualify as a soup) because it`s make-ahead, it uses mostly pantry ingredients from my list of  55 Ingredients to have on hand at all times, and Simple Slow Cooker Vegetable Broth, it`s a great summer soup AND you can freeze the leftovers for lunches or another meal. Continue reading

Simple Slow Cooker Vegetable Broth

It’s Sunday and something I usually do on Sunday is make a slow cooker vegetable broth. We usually make soup for supper at least once a week, as I suggested in Five things you could make for supper every week so this recipe really goes a long way for us.  It’s incredibly easy to make and economical, compared to buying vegetable broth so it’s really a win-win. Plus, you probably have better things to do on a Sunday than to hover over the stove-top so, toss everything in the slow cooker and carry on with your day. Continue reading

Five things you could gift to new moms

I initially intended to have this post coincide with Mother’s Day, in the spirit of giving gifts to moms, but it appears as though my own gift of “taking the day off” has caught up to me and now it’s Tuesday.  Tuesnight actually.

I titled the post “new moms”, and by that, I mean, first-time moms or any mom who has just had a newborn.  When we had each of our kids, those first few weeks with a newborn were the most exhausting as we adjusted, then readjusted (times three) to having a newborn in the house.  People stopped in to visit and drop off gifts of all kinds.  When it was our first baby, clothes, books, baby items were the typical gifts, but as each new little human joined our family, the gifts became less about stuff and more about service, which I fully appreciated, in my newfound quest to live a more minimalist life. Continue reading

Stop buying salad dressing (Five salad dressings you should make from scratch)

Salads are one of my favorite things to prepare and to eat.  They’re quick, simple and the combinations are endless.  Making your own dressing is as easy as shaking all the ingredients up in a jar.  In addition to being inexpensive to make, they’re free of preservatives and random ingredients that you can’t even say.  Most of the ingredients in these dressings are on my list of 55 Ingredients to have on hand at all times so you can whip up more than one dressing last minute without having to run to the store. Continue reading

Mac & Cheese, Evolved

Move over KD, there’s a new mac & cheese in town!  I love KD, don’t get me wrong.  My aunt makes the best KD, if following instructions on a box “the best” is even a thing.  As a kid, my grandma used to make baked mac & cheese with tomato sauce and cheese.  My favorite part was the crispy, burnt-ish cheese on the edge pieces.  Another delicious mac & cheese that I had the pleasure of enjoying was a breadcrumb topped lobster mac & cheese somewhere in Vegas, made with tiny ditali pasta.  So good. Continue reading