Thursday, August 30, 2012

DIY Potty Training Chart

Today, I decided to face up to the fact that my three year old son, who is mostly potty trained, really needed some more encouragement to make it all the way.  Some days my son will stop what he is doing to run to the bathroom to take care of business (especially if it’s number twos), when he has to just pee . . . he doesn’t always stop playing.  He waits until the last possible second and often that is one second too long! 

The End of Wet Pants

My idea was to make a DIY Potty Chart to help my son recognize the goal and work towards it.  I pulled out my supplies (as seen in the picture below) and I got to work.

DIY Potty Chart Instructions

1.  I personalized the top of the chart with his name and called it a Pee Pee Potty Chart.  You may need a Pee and Poo Potty Chart, but I wanted this to fit my little guy’s issue. 

2.  Then I wrote down the days of the week, who knows, maybe he’ll learn those while we are at it!  On the end I made a star to symbolize his reward upon success.

3. I made blank boxes where I planned to either stick a sticker or pin a pin.  This was a work in progress.  (I also cut the chart at this point to make it rectangular and fit to the drawing size.)

4.  I grabbed my train edge puncher to get my son to really like the chart.  He loves trains!  So I punched the bottom with the train punch.  If I were to make it again, I would punch every side.

5.  I cut out squares that would fit into the blank boxes on the chart.  The last one was smaller so I could just write in the rewards that would encourage him.
Need an edge punch?  This one is adorable.


6.  I wrote encouraging words on each square for each day.  On the backs, I wrote numbers so he could match the number on the square with the number on the boxes (that I then wrote numbers in). 

7.  I wrote three rewards in the smaller rectangles.  I picked things that we do not do as often that I know he loves to do . . . or eat!

I decided that I will either put a magnetic surface behind the chart and attach magnets to each of the encouraging boxes or perhaps attach the square and rectangle boxes to clothespins to clip onto the chart.

Potty Chart Rules:  For my son, he gets to attach the days square to the chart when he makes it through the whole day with no accidents.  At the end of the week, if he has the appropriate amount of success squares, then he gets his reward.  You may want to start with success three days a week to spur on your child rather than hoping for the whole week.  Add on a day whenever you think your child is ready.

Since I recognize that many mothers are so busy with work and all the other things that life throws at us, I decided to make a printable version of the Potty Chart for anyone who wants to simply order the chart, print, and go with it.  Below is the picture of the printable chart with printable pieces and the link to my Etsy page.

Custom Potty Chart - Designing Life
Custom Potty Chart - Designing Life

I hope the DIY instructions for the Potty Chart give you some ideas for your little one and good luck with your potty training!!!

Mommy/Etsy Shop Owner/Designer/Organizer/Blogger

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Confessions of a Rogue Blogger

Not a Daily Event

Let's face it, sometimes life happens and blogging doesn't. I admire the faithful bloggers who daily post the intrigues of their life to be observed and learned from for other readers. But practically speaking, I will never be one of those bloggers.

A Series of Unfortunate Series

I have been known to start a blog series and never finish it. Gasp! One day I think that I have an amazing idea with a series then the next day I wake up and I don't think the idea was as spectacular as I first thought. I flit and I flutter from one thing to the next and sometimes I lack the follow-through to complete a series. And the world moves on!

I Blog for Me

First, I blog for myself and secondly, I blog for my readers benefit. Why do I admit this so readily? Because if I don't love what I'm doing then my readers won't get any benefit at all from my writing. I blog on the days that I love blogging and I want to write. On the days that my life sucks and I don't want to write, I don't. I have seen bloggers write on days when their life is a mess and it's not a pretty sight. When I write, I write for me which benefits my readers.

Life is Better than Blogging

Some days, I don't write because my life is more important than my blog. Sure I can slip away from the fun for a moment to write up a quick blog, but why leave my life for the sake of a few words on a webpage? If I'm in the middle of enjoying being with my husband and my son I don't care about my blog. I write my blog to help others to organize and design their life so that they can enjoy their life and I can't write about organizing and designing lives without organizing and designing my own life. I organize and design my time to be shaped around that which is most important to me. My family is most important to me and my blog comes second.

So fault me if you will, but blogging isn't life. Life is life. I can't blog about life without living it to the fullest. Agreed?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Four Fabulous Fine Motor Skill Activities for Preschoolers

Let me premise this post by explaining that I am not a preschool educational expert, but I am the mother of one bright eyed eager three year old boy who readily waits for the next planned activity and constantly wants to learn more.  The ideas presented in this post are the result of my experience with my three year old, online study, and the need for creative ideas to keep my little guy busy and his mind engaged.  With there being so many ways for our children to be entertained (computer, television, iPad, iPod, and video games), it is a great idea to be intentional about their activities.  Entertainment might keep a kid quiet, but it does not necessarily teach them to gain new skills. 

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a little cha-ching if you make a purchase using this link.  Thanks!

Four Fabulous Fine Motor Skill Activities


Pouring Rice Activity

Unless you have the perfect weather for outdoor water pouring activities, pouring water inside can be quite messy.  Instead, designate an area in a hard floor area for pouring rice!  Set aside a container of rice just for preschool play time.  Then either buy a pouring set like the one pictured to the right, or use kitchen items to allow your preschooler to experiment with pouring, measuring, and funneling the rice.

To Buy a Pouring Kit from Amazon: Montessori Basic Children's Pouring Kit

Cut It Up!

Whatever you do, don't be scared to hand your preschooler a pair of scissors!  Cutting paper is a great way to develop fine motor skills, and with the kid safe scissors there is little to fear.  Buy a pack of construction paper and a pair of safe scissors.  Let your preschool child cut out shapes, but also take a marker and make hearts, diamonds, triangles and other shapes for your preschooler to attempt to follow.  Success is measured in the attempt not the perfectly cut out shape, so be sure to encourage each of their attempts.

To Buy Scissors from Amazon: Melissa and Doug Child-Safe Scissors


Highlighted Tracing Sheets

Recently, I found a picture on Pinterest that suggested highlighting letters on paper then encouraging children to trace the highlighted letters.  I love it!  The dashes that are most commonly used are obtrusive and really don't encourage tracing, but highlighting works great.  Use this for teaching preschoolers to draw shapes, their name, and even for cutting activities.

To Buy Highlighters from Amazon: 

Sharpie Clear View Highlighter Stick, 4-pack

Writing in the Sand

Whether you go to the beach or bring a little sand home to put in a tray, writing in sand is not only therapeutic but great for building preschoolers fine motor skills.  Get them started by showing them a few shapes and letters, then encourage them to slowly move their finger through the sand to make their own letters and shapes.

To Buy a Sand Kit from Amazon: Montessori Letter & Drawing Sand Tray

More resources for Fine Motor Skill Development:

Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers

Monday, August 13, 2012

How to Make a Household Management Binder

Home Binder Cover | Designing Life Etsy Shop

How to Make a Household Management Binder

Putting together a household management binder is as easy as you make it!  Get the right supplies, find the right printables, and you can be in business in less than a week.

I'll help you find the right:

home binder, binder dividers, home binder sheet protectors, and well designed printables

The Binder

While it may be obvious with the title "Household Management Binder," but I will repeat, you need a binder.  You may want to start with one 1" binder and expand to a 2" or you can make multiple binders to suit your many household needs.  The typical Home Management Binder is home to calendars, schedules, meal planning, cleaning lists, grocery lists, addresses, passwords, babysitter’s instructions, and many more pre-planning worksheets and lists.

Here are four things to look for when buying your binder:

1.  Buy a binder that will grow with your planning
2.  Find a binder with an outer clear pocket so you can label the binder clearly
3.  Buy the sturdiest binder you can find
4.  Go with a binder that will hold a 8 1/2" by 11" sheet of paper and sheet protectors

My Amazon Finds - Binders


Dividers for Each Section

In addition to a binder, it is helpful to have dividers for each section in your household management notebook.  If you are only going to use it for meal planning and cleaning schedules, then you may want to buy dividers to separate your current meal planning sheets, past meal planning sheets (great for referencing), your cleaning schedules, and any cleaning checklists or shopping lists you may have.  You can even throw in a divider for your couponing.  Buy as many dividers as you have sections for your family’s binder.

Here are four things to look for when buying dividers:

1.  Buy dividers with large tabs, nothings worse than not being able to read your own tab
2.  Go with tabs that you write directly onto, the tab inserts can get lost on the others
3.  Look for brightly colored dividers to make each section stand out
4.  Again, durability is important; you may use some of your sections daily

My Amazon Finds - Dividers


Sheet Protectors

Some of your organizational printables will not be written on often, but are frequently used for reference.  You may want to buy sheet protectors to keep these sheets looking great all year long.  Yearly Calendars, Important Date sheets, and Ideal Weekly Schedules are some printable home management sheets that you may want to keep in sheet protectors.

Here are four things to look for when buying sheet protectors:

1.  Choose a plastic sheet protector that has a clear surface without texture
2.  Spend a little for sheet protectors that are higher in quality
3.  Pay attention to how wide the sheet protectors are for your binder
4.  Find a package with the right amount; the more you buy the less expensive they are

My Amazon Finds – Sheet Protectors


Printable Household Management Pages

The point of having a household management binder is to have all of your home organizational planning accessible by flipping open a binder and easily finding the right section with just the right printable.  We have the binder and the ability to easily access the right section, but what of the right printable?  How do you find the right printable for you and your household?

Here are four things to look for when buying printables:

1.  Find printables that will help you save time by planning ahead
2.  Buy printable with an attractive design that will encourage you in your planning
3.  Look for printables that you will actually use; all printables won't be a perfect fit for you
4.  Mix and match, remember that there are many printable designers with great sheets

My Etsy Finds – Printables

Designing Life Etsy Shop –  (again, I’m partial!)
I Heart Organizing –
Clean Mama –
Fresh and Organized –

Note: Let's be honest.  These days, you can find so many printable resources online for free.  However, not all that glitters is gold.  Consider supporting small businesses who have spent meticulous hours in preparing PDF files that are perfect not just bloggers who are putting out quickly prepared printables in order to gain traffic.

Hole Puncher

After you begin your search for the best printables for your home organization binder, you will realize that you really need a dependable hole puncher.  I have two hole punchers, one for my computer area and one for my craft area.

Here are four things to look for when buying a hole puncher:

1.  Buy a hole puncher that punches all three holes at the same time
2.  Go for the sturdiest hole puncher you can find
3.  Make sure the paper hole compartment at the bottom of the puncher stays on securely
4.  Find a hole puncher that can easily punch holes in multiple sheets at a time

My Amazon Finds – Hole Puncher


Perfect Pens

While most people just grab a pen and start writing, I think it is a great idea to think about what kind of pens are best for writing on your new printables.  Certain pens have ink that will bleed through to the next page, some will fade over time, and some do not leave the mark you intend to make on the page.  So really, the pen matters a lot!

Here are four things to look for when buying a pen:

1.  Leave the felt tips, the permanent sharpies, and the runny pens at the store
2.  Use a high quality ball tip pens for simple writing tasks
3.  For yearly sheets that you will use for reference, consider scrapbook quality pens
4.  Try out the pens at the store and find one that makes solid and obvious lines

My Amazon Finds – Pens


Compilation of Tools

I hope this blog is a wonderful resource for you to help you to find the right tools for making your household management binder.  Trust me, if you find the time to put together a home organization / household management binder, you will be finding time in so many more places!  Enjoy designing your life!

Brooke Shambley of Designing Life

Twitter - Facebook - Etsy - Pinterest

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Ideal Weekly Schedule

Ta Da!

My newest printable is "My Ideal Weekly Schedule"!  The schedule written on the Printable as an example is not my personal schedule.  However, I really think it conveys a really healthy, happy schedule for a family.  Plenty of family time, plenty of mommy time, and plenty of time to get everything else done.  What is your ideal schedule?

My Schedule

All I can say is that I cannot wait to be able to credibly fill out an ideal weekly schedule.  Since I recently moved from the states to Italy, a schedule . . . a routine has been hard to come by.  Currently, I am living in a basic hotel and we've been here for a month!  And we still have a month to go before we will be able to get settled.  While our circumstances might make it hard to write out an "Ideal Schedule,"I attempted to fill one out a week ago.  I realized that by writing a makeshift schedule (even making up activities to make life seem routine) I was able to find routine and get closer to my ideal.  Basically, having an ideal schedule is a great step towards knowing what we want out of our time.

 Day In My Life

Here's a snippet of my Ideal Schedule:

Read Bible
Laundry Mat
Laundry Mat
Work on Printables
Prepare Dinner

Week At a Glance

My personal Week At a Glance looks radically different than my Ideal Week.  For one thing, my son started swimming lessons at 9 a.m. three days a week.  Also, since I live in such small quarters the refrigerator is miniature.  I do not attempt seven days of prepared meals.  We go out more than a couple nights a week.  However, we really do some of the things that make a schedule seem regular.  The ideal exists and routine exists, even if it changes.

Have you ever written out your ideal schedule?

Remember the Home Organization Printable Giveway Ends Friday Night at Midnight, so be sure to get in on the fun before then!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What is a Printable?

A Printable

Definition:  Able to be printed

Momma Definition:  An amazing PDF resource from the computer that will print to make endless amounts of sheets for organizing

Printables In Your Home

How can printables work for you in your home?  A printable . . . a designed PDF . . . can be used for so many things throughout the home and even with our kids!  You can look for a printable to help you clean the house; for instance, a kitchen cleaning checklist will remind you of all the little spaces that you might otherwise forget to clean.  You can look for a printable for your kids to have a specific activity like drawing a chimpanzee or spelling out their ABCs.  You can look for a honey do list that will remind your honey what he needs to do AND you can print it out for updates again and again.

Better than a Sheet of Notebook Paper?

A good printable can have so many benefits over a white sheet of notebook paper.  I mean why do we go to the store and buy a fancy to do list?  We want to have a specific place to write down our lists and we are more inspired to be organized when we have these resources.  Therefore, a printable is completely better than a sheet of notebook paper, because not only do these amazing resources rev up your inspiration, they are able to be printed over and over again.

Suppose your typical week at a glance calendar costs you $12 for a complete book of weeks.  With printables, you buy a week at a glance printable . . . for only $3 at most Etsy Shops.  Or for that matter buy a set of printables and save even more.  Also, you cannot lose this resource (unless you are really bad at saving files where you can find them).  Personally, I buy a calendar or to do pad, then lose it in a week and find myself buying another.  Printable PDFs are in the computer at your endless demand.  Print!  Print!  Print!

The Gamut

Here are some ideas to aid your search for Printable PDF files across the internet:

To Do Lists
Daily Agendas
Chore Charts
Coloring Sheets
Cleaning Checklists
Address Book
Recipe Cards
And More!

Where to Find

Etsy (of course, I would love you to visit my shop . . .
Mamma Blogs
Google Product Search

Good luck on your search to find good and useful printables! 
May your days of planning be shortened and your days of fun be grand!

Please check out my ongoing GIVEAWAY ongoing on yesterday's blog post!
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