Gift Guide // Top 10 Basic Art Supplies

Gift Guide // Top 10 Basic Art Supplies

I teach art to small children in my house. Every week I set up new art experiences and carefully pick out my materials. I often get asked by moms which materials they should buy to create their own art area at home. This question always gets me excited for two reasons: 1) Maybe I’ve influenced them to keep the creativity flowing at home! And 2) I’m a huge advocate of keeping things simple. Kids don’t need much to keep them happy and busy.

This list is really the bare necessities. I kept it to 10 to keep the costs down and to minimize stress! However, I did include a few extras at the end, I couldn’t help myself.

basic paper to stock for your home art area


The first thing your art area needs is paper. I use sulphite paper in art class. It’s a little bit denser and the colors are more vibrant than construction paper. It holds paint beautifully. I would suggest getting the 12″ x 18″ size in white, and then the 9″ x 12″ colored. You could always cut the white down and I find that larger paper encourages them to draw big!

white sulphite paper // colored sulphite paper

basic paints to stock for your home art area


You can’t have an art area without paints! In art class we use paint almost every day. I love watercolor palettes and this brand is my favorite. Teaching them to use watercolor is one of my first lessons: Wet your brush then count to 10 as you swish it in circles on a color. It’s important to tell them that they need lots of water! As for tempera paints, there are so many different brands and colors. I use a variety of brands, usually whatever is on sale. Although some are definitely more watery than others (I prefer a thicker more opaque paint), you are pretty safe with just about anything. To stock your art area you will just need the basics – three primary colors and white. I mix colors for my classes using mostly these four. But I also LOVE gold and neon paints. Mix the neon paints with a teeny bit of white to give you a more opaque consistency.

watercolor paints // tempera paints: red, yellow, blue, white, gold , neon

basic drawing materials to stock for your home art area


This category was the hardest to pick. There are so many great drawing materials out there! But the two that my kids gravitate to the most are colored pencils and markers. These are the work horses of drawing materials. You could really choose any brand of colored pencils and not go wrong. I chose these because they were relatively cheap on Amazon. As for markers, I do find that Crayola markers last the longest. Plus…these are scented! Your kids could spend 20 minutes just sniffing, I swear. Mine do!

colored pencils // markers

basic art supplies to stock for your home art area


I literally agonized over which glue to represent here. Glue stick or Elmer’s? Both are used all the time in art class and with my own kids. (In fact, glueing and cutting might be a 4yr old’s all time favorite activity!) But I’ll tell you why I went with glue stick: It’s less messy, easier for little kids, and doesn’t need a day to dry. I love this brand the best, they really work well. As for scissors, my favorite is actually from Ikea. These are a close second.

glue stick // scissors

basic art supplies to stock for your home art area


These two don’t really go together, but I consider them essentials. This brush pack is the best value. I’ve bought many of these packs over the years. I really also love Ikea brushes if you are ever there. And tape…I could go on for years. WE LOVE COLORED TAPE!! My little students just love ripping and cutting tape. They make beautiful “drawings” just with tape. Tape is a must!

paint brushes // colored tape


These materials were left off the list, but barely. You might already have some of these in your home so just bring them on over to the art shelf!

Elmer’s glue // pencil sharpener // stapler // crayons // scotch tape

You can literally create hundreds of projects with these simple materials. Here are a few that I’ve done that use no more than what I’ve listed (except for some recycled materials…I am a huge cardboard fan!)

cardboard paintings // small paintings // scrape painting // puffy hearts // invitation to paint // cardboard animals // sunburst paintings // scrap paper collage

In my next post I’ll tell you about my top 10 basic crafting supplies. That one will be REALLY fun. Think…pom-poms!

xo, Bar


Typography: 10 Tips for your Blog Photos

Typography: 10 Tips for your Blog Photos

I am a font snob. It’s true. As a graphic designer, I am a total geek about typography. I even read type journals. People who design fonts are rock stars in my world. The reason I love fonts so much is because they are the foundation of good design.

Sometimes I get asked how I choose fonts for my blog photos, and what are my go-to tricks. My usual answer is that I wish I had tricks! Typography is an art form to me. There is no easy way to lay type over a photo. It’s as hard for me today as it was when I first started out. It takes time. But you can build your confidence with practice, and you can learn to make the right choices. It’s all about developing your eye for design.

{Yes, I ended both of those paragraphs with the word design. It’s my most important message here.)

There is a reason I’m interested in elevating the quality of your work…so I can pin it! I am pretty picky about what I curate for my Pinterest boards. I see so many amazing projects that are ruined by type. Sorry, I hope I’m not being mean. It’s just that…well, there is room for improvement!

So here we go… Blog Typography 101. My ten tips that will help you make better choices and put you on the path to good design.

start with a good photo composition ~ then you don't need any type

Tip 1: just say no {to fonts}

Let’s be clear. The only reason any of us put type on our photos is to make it stand out on Pinterest. So people will pin it. Because they can see it, in theory. But here’s the interesting thing, I believe that pins without type actually do better than pins with type.

My best pins this month have no type on them at all. In fact, they aren’t even necessarily my main post photo. Above are four of my best pins lately:

painted leaves // weaving with kids // cardboard paintings // animal templates

Except for the leaves, none of these were the main photo in my post. Here is the reason they work so well without type: because they speak a thousand words. The colors and composition are pleasing to the eye, and there is nothing more to say.

TAKEAWAY ~ Use type for two reasons only:

1. If you need to explain a bit more about your photo. If your photo is of a child running down a beach and your post is about sensory processing issues by the shore, then you should add type.


2. If your photo would just look cool with the added design element of type. Then go for it! The only reason I use type is to add to the design.

fonts are the foundation of good design // learn to develop your eye for aesthetics and make better choices

Tip 2: fonts are people too {make good choices}

You’ve decided to put some type on your photo. Time to pick a font! I bet you have a few that are your “go to” choices. The ones you feel comfortable with. Well, I am here to tell you to stop using those fonts! They are boring. It’s time to step out of your comfort zone a bit and start being creative.

Every font has a personality. Like people, they come in all shapes and sizes. It’s your job to figure out which one goes best with the tone of your photo. This is actually the most important job, and the part that takes the longest. I can’t teach this because it just takes practice and intuition. But I can share with you my thought process.

Above are four images with type. Here is why I chose the fonts and the colors that I did, and the name of the font that I used.

Washer Necklaces: I loved how the necklaces looked a bit rustic on the kraft paper, and how you could see the nail polish left on the paper. To me, it called for a stencil font, something with a rough, handmade feel. This one is called Portago. I paired it with a more modern font called Monod Brun. It’s good to have a ying and a yang when pairing fonts. The colors I chose reflect the middle three washers, creating a very satisfying design because of the balance.

Bird Nests: There was a perfect space above the nest, but it was at a weird angle. So after trying type straight across, I decided to put it sideways. The type isn’t really needed anyway, it’s just a design element so having it go sideways is cool and ads to the aesthetic. I chose another stencil font called Hogwild (not quite as rough), and a cleaner script called Pacifico. I used colors from the nest to create balance.

Watercolor Garland: I love this post, it is one of my favorites of all time. The work that these 4-yr olds did was so amazing and free. I loved the garlands on their own, but I did want to add some informational words at the top. Not to distract from the beautiful garlands, I chose to make the font very clean and subtle, all caps and in white so it almost fades away. This font is called Orator. I also hand drew little circles at the sides just to loosen it up a bit.

Weaving with Kids: This photo did not need a title, I just wanted something fun to add to the photo because it just looked too plain. The font is Peach Milk, and I used the colors from the weaving to create balance, and decided on a curved placement to create movement and interest.

fonts are the foundation of good design // learn to develop your eye for aesthetics and make better choices

Tip 3: follow my lead (10 hard and fast font rules)

1. Figure out the tone of your photo. Is it happy, serene, playful, serious, goofy? Once you figure out the mood, then you can start selecting your font.

2. Keep a list of your “go to” fonts (some new choices, take it out of your comfort zone). I have about 10-15 that I use the most, which are a mix of simple and playful.

3. Use script sparingly. It’s harder to read.

4. Just because your post is for or about kids doesn’t mean you should use kinder fonts. Child handwriting fonts are one of my biggest pet peeves. It degrades your hard work and it’s generic. And please, no Comic Sans.

5. Use black prudently. I use almost no black for fonts, but my photos are very colorful and kid-oriented. I like black, don’t get me wrong, but don’t have it be the only color you use because you’re afraid to try other colors. Embrace color!

6. Don’t use fonts on a photo that already has words. I made a birthday banner, it already says “Happy Birthday”. I don’t need more fonts.

7. Pair two fonts together (but not more than two). Mix and match. It adds interest and makes some words stand out more than others.

8. Learn a few font vocabulary words, like serif, sans serif and display. (Read this helpful article on fonts for starters.)

9. Apply for rich pins through Pinterest. This allows your logo, profile name and post title to display under your photo. Once you have this tool, it becomes redundant to put type on your photo with the same heading. Rich pins keeps you disciplined. You will rarely even have to worry about typography!

10. Less is more. Don’t add long sentences to your photo, just a few key words. Let your post title and description do the talking. (This is where rich pins are so important.)

fonts are the foundation of good design

Tip 4: you get what you pay for {free fonts vs. paid}

I did a somewhat loose survey of font usage within my blogger community. It turns out that about 85% of bloggers use free fonts. Bloggers who are also graphic designers are about the only ones who buy fonts. I guess this makes sense. I mean, why not choose something that is free?

As someone who pays for most fonts, I do have a position to take on free vs. paid.

Think of fonts as tools. Wouldn’t you rather use a good tool than a bad one? Your tools determine your level of design. Paid fonts have more characters, like math signs or ampersands (glyphs), and they have better kearning (the space between the letters) and spacing. Their edges are more rounded, which makes it look better when small. With a paid font, your risk of looking “generic” (because everyone has free fonts) is much lower. And at the very least, you are supporting designers when you buy a font.

In fact, you could even go further as ask… why pay for photographs when you have Google? Why pay for music when it’s free on the web? Why pay a designer when there are many websites who will design your logo for peanuts? The point is this: Paying for fonts elevates your design.

With that in mind, I do download free fonts from time to time. Not very often, but sometimes I like what I see.

Bottom Line: Try buying a font or two. Mix it up. Some free, some paid for. It will make you feel like a real designer! And sometimes, what we really need is a new attitude before we can accomplish great things. Fake it ‘til you make it!

(See Tip 10 for font resources.)

fonts are the foundation of good design // learn to develop your eye for aesthetics and make better choices

Five: the eye has to travel {design is everything}

The 2011 movie about Diana Vreeland, the famous Harper’s Bazaar magazine editor, was called The Eye has to Travel. I love this phrase and I want you to love it, too. Let it be your mantra from now and forever. This phrase is about design. Design is everything.

But what does design mean? When I was in art school, the one word used above all others when talking about design was balance.


You know good design when you see it. Yes, you do! Whether it’s a smart phone, a car, or an old-fashioned soda bottle, we all have the ability to see the difference between good and bad design.

Take this one step further into two-dimensional design, and it gets a bit murkier. From blog pages and ads, to invitations and magazines, we are bombarded with images from every angle. It gets harder and harder to sort through the noise. But when we find something that is designed well, we will stop and stare and appreciate the beauty.

When you appreciate beauty, as we all do, you are tapping into your own taste and aesthetic. Developing that eye for design is something that takes time, but you can start by noticing what you like and what you find beautiful in what you see every day.

Notice that when your eyes land on something aesthetically pleasing, there is always a resting spot. And then your eye brings you around, and then it rests again. There is something there, something that makes you continue to stare. I am here to tell you that this something is balance.

When you love the way something looks, it’s because the balance is perfect.

Above are four photos from my blog where I added type specifically to create balance. Usually, I find a space and then use that space to reflect a shape or color from the photo. I will also share the font name with you.

monster patches (Limoen & Papercute) // cardboard animals (Ever After & Papercute) // ice cream cones (Tire Shop) // pom-pom napkin rings (Orator)

fonts are the foundation of good design // learn to develop your eye for aesthetics and make better choices

Six: shape up! {shapes are your friend}

When in doubt, add a shape and put some type in it. But don’t be reckless. I almost want to reach out and shake people sometimes when I see a giant shape covering their whole photo with big type all over it. This is not what I mean. No, no, no!! When I see this it tells me that this person either didn’t like their photo, or couldn’t find the right photo. It’s like when I turn my cell phone on in the middle of the night…I’m blinded! Definitely don’t write big words all over your photo. For me, as a devour-er of Pinterest, it makes me not even look at that pin. I will be scrolling away, and fast.

What I am talking about is using shapes aesthetically, to draw your eye in and to create a pleasing composition. Maybe you want to repeat a color that is at the bottom of your photo and you have a nice space at the top. Or maybe your photo needs a punch of color.

I personally like my shapes to disappear off of the edge. I don’t do that all the time, but more than half of the time I do. (I will put shapes in the middle for collages, read more about collages and round-ups in Tip 8). I also will make sure that the font doesn’t crowd the edges.

I usually draw my own shapes, but I also download some dingbat fonts which are helpful when I’m feeling like I’m in a rush. Visit my Fonts & Dingbats Pinterest board for ideas.

Here are the fonts I used for these photos:

pencil eraser art (Papercute) // bird garland (Papercute) // henna hands (Veneer & Pacifico) // scrape painting (Peach Milk)

Seven: composition is king {photography tips}

Taking good photos comes before anything. For a good marriage between type and photos to work, you must have an idea of composition, styling, and lighting. Top of my list is composition, because if you have a totally awesome composition…you don’t even need to add type!

I have teamed up with my fellow Rockin’ Art Moms so that we can give you the best, most well-rounded advice on taking photos and adding type. There are so many elements to consider in photography!

The Rockin’ Art Moms (RAMs) are 16 mom bloggers who believe in the power of creativity as a necessary part of family life! We developed this blog series in response to a question we hear often: “How did you take such a great picture?” Each RAM participating in the series will be speaking about a different photo related topic.

Find all of the RAM links at the end of this post.

fonts are the foundation of good design // learn to develop your eye for aesthetics and make better choices

fonts are the foundation of good design // learn to develop your eye for aesthetics and make better choices

fonts are the foundation of good design // learn to develop your eye for aesthetics and make better choices

Eight: round ‘em up {type on photo collages}

Ok, this one needed lots of examples. The following points are my own guidelines for creating collages and adding type. There are lots of successful bloggers who get tons of repines and traffic to their blog making collages in a way that I wouldn’t. For me, and also for you now that you’ve read this far (you’re almost done), it’s about design and aesthetics, not about creating an ad and getting a message across.

~ Most round-ups are put together like a patchwork quilt, square or rectangular photos fit together like a puzzle. Make sure you create a white border in between each photo, and that this border is a consistent size. It should be an equal white border in between each photo.

~ One way to find space for your type is to create a block of color, instead of a photo, as one of the collage “patches”, as in the Paint Chips example above. In this collage, I also used blocks of color in some spaces. This is a good trick when the photos are not fitting together very well. Use the extra space as a design element.

~ Another way to make space for type is to add a block of color on top of your collage, as in the Leaves and Etsy posts above. Make sure to not crowd your type inside your block of color. I just think it’s more pleasing to the eye to have a lot of color around your type. A place to rest your eyes.

~ A third way to place type on a collage is to create a fun shape, like a banner or a circle. This more whimsical approach, like in Princess Castles and Paperbag Crowns, is just fun and creates a mood.

~ A super cool (albeit time consuming) way to make a collage round-up is to “tape” or “scrapbook” photos onto a neutral background. I have done this several times and it’s very eye-catching and makes a statement. The Easter Eggs post was one of my faves.

~ Still another idea for a round-up is to use only four photos from your list of 10 or 20, and then create a block of color on one side where you can add your type. I did this with a Wall Murals post, and also a Book Nooks post.

~ One other thing that I do sometimes is I don’t add any type at all, just some numbers. I let the rich pins title do the talking. And the numbers act as a design element. You can see this example with my Pop of Color post.

~ Try not to just add a block of black or white to the top of bottom of your collage and add type there. I know it’s the easiest, but it’s not the best. Try and integrate your type more with your collage so that it looks like it has been cared for and designed well.

~ On that same note, try not to add a big band of white space in the middle to put your type. It makes the image choppy with photos above and below.

~ Try not to clog your collage with tons and tons of type. Less is more. The photos will speck for themselves. And…if you have rich pins, you won’t need to repeat every word of your title in your collage.

~ I have a new pinterest board that I started called Round-ups & Collages where I am curating the best collages I’ve seen on Pinterest. This board will be a good reference for you when working on your collage.

if you have a great photo composition you do not need type!!

Nine: don’t mess with me {remember rule #1}

Ok, this is technically not a new tip. But I feel so strongly that most photos do not need to be messed with that I had to re-iterate my first point. Here are four more photos that I chose not to add type to that have done very well on Pinterest.

weaving with kids // poppy art // snowflake table runner // cardboard castles

I’m feeling uncomfortable at this point with all of this self-promotion. I am not the queen of everything and I certainly have had some flops. But I think that the more examples I can give you, the more you can learn.

many helpful tips for creating memorable and pin-able photos

Ten: a pep talk {and resource guide}

You can do it! You can do it! It’s hard, there is no denying this fact. But typography is soooo satisfying when you get it right. Just remember these three things, if you remember nothing else:

1. The eye has to travel. Make sure you leave some space for the eye to rest. Don’t make it too busy.

2. Balance is the key to good design.

3. Less is more. When in doubt, leave it out.

And now, here are some links that will help you tremendously:

MAKE BETTER BLOG PHOTOS: Tips for Creating Memorable and Pin-Able Photos brought to you by the ROCKIN’ ART MOMS:

Photo Editing: Ana from Babble Dabble Do

Composition: Meri from Meri Cherry

Styling: Gina from Willowday

Lighting: Jeanette from Tiny Rotten Peanuts

Backdrops: Melissa from Mama Miss

(Follow Rockin’ Art Moms on Pinterest….we have a really cool board that is sure to fill your lives with tons of creative ideas.)


Paid FontsMy Fonts This is where I shop. I love it the best because you can type in your word or phrase and then all of your searches will be with that sample text. This is such a helpful tool, I can’t express it enough!! // Font Spring  // FontFont

Free Fonts: Font Squirrel // DaFonts


Fonts & Dingbats (my board) // Font Obsession // Fonts // Type & Lettering // Photo Styling // Round-ups & Collages (my board)

OMG, that was really too long. Hopefully it will help those of you who want to be helped!! Ask me any questions.

xo, Bar

{PS: As if there is more to say…but actually, there is! Follow me on Instagram where you can see my creative ideas percolating.}


Make Mornings Better {through patience + planning}

Make Mornings Better {through patience + planning}

I have three kids ranging from age 7 to 14. Their schools all start at different times, which makes my mornings very long (sigh). They also have three distinct personalities that come with their own morning challenges. One is sleepy and moody, not a morning person. One is up early but defiant and stubborn, needs to do things when he is ready. And one is punctual and on top of it all, making my job harder because she leaves first and I am not always ready or awake myself which causes her to shout. If there is one thing I hate, it’s shouting. Especially in the morning.

Last year, I made a chart of sorts for my one that just cannot get her body moving in the morning. It wasn’t really a chart as much as a way for her to visually see what she needed to do. This totally worked for us. It helped her understand and grasp the fact that the mornings were hers to own (or hers to ruin). By taking me out of the equation, she actually did everything she needed to do because she was in control. We had this chart up for no more than two weeks and then it wasn’t needed anymore. Why it took me 4 years to figure this out is a mystery.

DIY good morning chart ~ teach kids to own their day |

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

Make your own Good Morning chart:

shoe box lid / scissors / piece of cardboard / white glue / markers or paint (we LOVE these chalkboard markers) / photos of your child doing the things that need to get done

I simply cut a shoebox lid in half and glued it to a piece of cardboard. I decorated it for her because she was honestly not into this idea at all. She thought it was “babyish”. But I convinced her by telling her that it would make mommy not have to talk to her at all! She liked that idea. We took photos of her in the midst of her morning tasks. All she had to do was move the photos from one pocket to another. She still is slow to get up, but she knows what to do and that if she doesn’t do it, I will have to speak to her (are you getting the picture that she is not a morning person?).

Here are some tips that might help you with your morning routine…the goal being less shouting, smoother transitions, and an overall kinder & gentler start to the day. These tips hinge on the fact that you wake up before them and get yourself ready, or as ready as you can. It will be virtually impossible to use many of these tools if you are running around like crazy yourself (I know this through experience)!

The slow-moving child: This child is not a morning person. Look out!

1. This may seem obvious, but wake them up way before they need to be ready. I start waking mine one hour before she has to leave. It takes about three or four trips to her room, but by the time she starts moving we still have 40 minutes.

2. Get them a digital clock. This way you can tell them that they have until 7:15 to get themselves up (of course we say 7:15 but we know that they really have until 7:25)

3. Lower your expectations and be patient. This child needs a long transition from sleep to wake. Respecting this will help both of you.

4. Do not rush them. Which goes back to my first point…give them plenty of time to wake.

5. Have them do as much as they can the night before. Usually, if they are not a morning person they are a night owl. Have them lay out their clothes with their choice of shoes, pack their backpacks with their homework, and even put out their own placemat and bowl for their breakfast in the morning. The more they practice this (it may take years, have heart), the more they will begin to own it. Once it’s theirs, they will miraculously do it all without help! Trust me, this does happen…but takes practice and patience.

The worrier child: This child is full of “what-ifs”. What if I did my home work wrong? What if it snows when I’m in school? What if I feel sick?

1. Talk about their tomorrow the night before. Simply say “Let’s talk about your routine tomorrow”. You can start with waking up, all the way to getting on the bus. Let them lead, this way questions will arise that you can work on together. Don’t bring up anything they haven’t mentioned!! You don’t want to add to their anxiety. This exercise is meant to prepare them for tomorrow. You are not only giving them one-on-one time with you, you are getting to know how their mind works and helping them learn that they can solve problems. It’s a nice time to reassure them that you guys are a team.

2. Listen to their needs. They may not always be convenient or plausible, but they are worthy. Sometimes they may want to be driven to school. If this is doable for you, then consider this as an option. You may feel like sometimes you are indulging them, and there certainly is a fine line between coddling and respecting their needs, but the more you let them feel that they have choices in their life, the more their confidence will grow.

3. Model making mistakes. Let them see you mess-up and teach them that you have to sometimes let things go, or find creative solutions. And things will be ok! I make many mistakes. I once forgot to get dressed and drove my son to school. I still had my PJs on and hair twisted on top of my head. I literally did not want to be seen. But instead I just said “whatever! nobody will look anyway”. He thought is was hilarious and we had a private joke about it. My kids say “remember that time…” quite a bit. I am constantly messing up.

4. Don’t use sarcasm, but do use humor. Sarcasm isn’t a good idea with any type of kid, but for the worrier who is already sensitive, it can make them feel worse. Do try and lighten and loosen up their body by cracking jokes and being silly. My son loves when I do stupid voices. Laughing is good medicine!

5. Use large motor muscles. A little expenditure of energy can create a calm feeling. Have them do some jumping jacks, push ups, burpees!

6. Deep breaths (for both of you) is the key to staying calm. And have patience.

The defiant child: This child will engage in power struggles if you let them.

1. Don’t be controlling. If they want to wear their black hoodie for the 4th day in a row, what’s the big deal. If you want to talk to them about how it’s gross and how you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on other clothes, save that talk for the evening. You do want to have a voice and a say in your child’s choice making, but don’t do it in the morning.

2. Be extremely patient. More than any other personality, this one will make you want to scream. How can they possibly decide one minute before the bus comes that they don’t want to wear their coat? Let me say from experience, here is how that will go if you demand they put their coat back on: “Fine, if I wear my coat then I’m not going to school. ” This is not a road you want to take when the bus is waiting at your house. Here’s a better option: “Ok, well put it in your backpack in case you get cold”. I know, it feels like you have lost. But really, you have won. He is on the bus!

3. Their battles are usually never about the thing that they are battling you over. Let them “win” but make sure to revisit the battle later in the day when emotions aren’t so high. As in the case of the coat vs. school fiasco, it turned out that all the boys in his class weren’t wearing coats anymore. Wearing a coat wasn’t “cool”. It took him one week of putting it in his backpack for him to start wearing it on the bus again. He said that he was wearing his coat again because he was being smart. A ha! I won after all.

4. No yelling. Ever. At least not in the morning. But really, try to yell at the defiant child as little as possible. It will only show them that you have lost control of your emotions, and that will be all they need to dig their heels in even deeper.

5. Deep breaths!! And don’t forget to pamper yourself a little. Whether it’s a morning run, or a giant brownie, knowing that a “reward” is waiting for you at the end just makes things better.

The moody child: This one will bite your head off, then give you hugs right after.

1. Plan ahead. Making sure everything is in order the night before will help with the lashing out the next morning.

2. Know their triggers. Sometimes it’s like walking on eggshells with these ones. But over the years you get to know them and what sets them off. Usually, for us, it’s their siblings! Which is a bummer because I can’t get rid of her brother. In our house, the little guy is not allowed to talk to his sister in the morning. Not one word. Of course that doesn’t always happen, so sometimes there is screaming. That’s when you take deep breaths and think of your reward.

3. Get out of their way. Mostly moody people are their own worst enemies. There’s nothing you’ve done, it’s just who they are. As moms, we can only hand them what they need and step out of their path.

4. Don’t take anything personally! And tell them you love them before they slam the door to leave. If yours is like mine, she’ll usually feel bad about her behavior and will run back to give you a hug.

5. Humor doesn’t work. Like I said….just say as little as possible and focus on the beautiful moment after they leave. If you feel like you need to teach them to be nicer and less moody, save that talk for the evening. Remember… our goal is a peaceful morning.

The perfectionist child: This child needs everything to be exactly they way they want it to be. Very little flexibility.

1. Expect crying, and try to not say things like “oh my God, please don’t cry”. This will make them cry more.

2. Make sure they have all of their ducks in a row the night before. Outfit picked (with shoes…shoes are very important because believe me, there is lots of crying in the morning when there are just no shoes to go with the outfit), backpack all set with completed homework, hairstyle picked out. Whatever needs to get done in the morning, do it at night.

3. Show them how you aren’t perfect, but you’re still happy and life is good. This may not be appropriate in the morning rush, but make a point to model un-perfectionist behavior and to have talks when it’s the right moment. In time, they will get to know who they are and start to realize that being average is just fine. Maybe not all the time, but occasionally. What a relief!

4. Button your mouth. Keep all opinions to yourself in the morning. Just tell them they look amazing, give them hugs and kisses.

The older child: This child is in 7th grade or above.

1. Do they really need us anymore? I certainly have many friends who do not get up with their teens. Their kids make their own lunches and see themselves out the door. I think this is awesome!! I’m completely for it if you have the kind of child who loves his/her independence. My oldest is not quite there yet, so I still wake to pack her lunch and give her a kiss goodbye. She kind of still needs that attention.

2. Work towards independence. Again, every child is different. Some are more coachable, some will let you do everything for them until they are 50 years old. But every child needs to leave the nest at 18 so helping them do things for themselves is good parenting. The more confident they feel in taking care of themselves, the better for both of you!

All in all, the most important ingredients to a smooth, yelling free morning are planning and patience. And it goes without saying that nobody is perfect. It’s through trial and many errors (and lots of reading) that I have found what works for my family. We have had completely bad years where I just weep and feel bad every day. That’s when I make changes, try new things, and talk to my kids. It’s never too late to turn over a new leaf! And alway include them in the process. Being open and honest about their strengths and weaknesses helps them discover who they are.

I’m sure you could add to this list so please share your tried & true tips for getting through the morning!!

xo, Bar

PS: It’s a tough job, mothering. You are doing great!!