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10 Ways to Start a Conversation with Your Child After School

This post was sponsored by OREO as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. 

By now we all know what a huge fan I am of taking the time after school to really connect with your kids. They spend so much time outside of our home that we really need to capitalize on every moment we have with them inside of our home. 

I love to do this at the kitchen table with an afternoon snack. My kids and I are huge fans of OREO Cookies from Walmart, especially the OREO Dark Chocolate Cookies (although the OREO Carrot Cake Cookies are amazing and perfect for Easter coming up too!) A glass of milk and a couple OREO Dark Chocolate Cookies has kind of become the best afternoon tradition that our kids have really come to look forward to each day. 

While we're sitting around the table, I love to ask them questions about their day, and know what's really going on at school, so I've made a list of questions that I can ask them to get the conversation rolling. We definitely don't go through all the questions everyday, maybe just one or two of them. I find once you get the conversation going with one topic, my kids tend to just go on and on until you know every single detail from the rest of their day. These are my 10 favorite conversation starters to get that dialogue going. 

1) What did you eat for lunch today?
2) What was your favorite part of school aside from recess?
3) What was your least favorite part of the day? 
4) Which special class did you go to today? 
5) Who did you play with at recess? 
6) Who did you sit with at lunch?
7) Did anything funny happen at school today?
8) What did you learn today?
9) What should we do as a family this weekend? 
10) Did anyone help you today?

How do you get the conversation started with your kids after school each day? Are OREO Cookies a part of your snack time routine like they are for us? I'd love to hear about your routine in the comments below! 

Kinsley's Big Girl Bedroom Tour

We've been in our new house for a total of six months now, and we're just getting to the point where rooms are starting to be "finished". Aside from our dinning room, which I haven't shown yet, Kinsley's room is the first one to be all the way done! It feels so good to be able to say that since our kid's rooms have historically always been a disaster, and I've never known what I wanted to do with them, (which resulted in me doing nothing), so having Kinsley's space done, and Kyle's done in the next day or so, feels like a huge relief.

I wanted Kinsley's room to be super cute, but also accessible for her. Since she can't walk we spent hours researching the best bed that she could easily crawl in and out of, and landed with this house bed! It's so fun and creative, but also functional for what she can do. 

Next we needed to find a dresser, at an awesome price, and finally landed on this one from Ikea! I love that it was really affordable, while still being cute and fitting in with the style of the rest of the bedroom. Our kids have used Sterilite drawers in their rooms for years, so having a real dresser feels like a dream!

Kinsley has so many little bits and pieces on top of her dresser, and in her top drawer, so we got this little drawer divider to house her hair bows, undies, socks, and tights, and it's amazing how much of a difference it makes to not have all of these things sliding around together in the drawer, or cluttering the entire top of the dresser. 

I purchased the kids these bean bag chairs sometime before Christmas, and they're the best thing ever. I stuffed all the kids animals inside of them so that they aren't cluttering the floor of their bedroom, but it's also providing a cute and functional seat in their room as well. 

Kinsley started a new sensory program for some sensory preferences that she has, so we got her a swing for her bedroom. It was super easy to install and both of the kids love playing inside of it! It's been really fun to just have a calm morning at home, rocking Kinsley in her swing, it's a time of the day that I really enjoy. 

Finally we have her little book basket. We'd been keeping her books on the floor for the longest time, but they'd get bent and roughed up a bit. This basket was a super easy way to have them organized a bit, but still have them accessible for Kinsley to get to whenever she wants them. 

White Bin on Dresser
Paint: Light French Gray By Sherwin Williams

3 Basement Renovation Ideas You Need To Try Out

If you’re lucky enough to have a basement in your home, then it’s a shame to let it go to waste. Instead of leaving loads of clutter in your basement and treating it like an unkempt storage room, here are a few renovation ideas that’ll help you get a lot more out of it:

Games Room
This is a classic idea that loads of people go for. With a games room, you’re turning your basement into a little place full of fun for the family. Here, you can put pool tables, ping pong tables, some video gaming areas, etc. The whole aim is for it to be somewhere you go when you want to have a bit of fun. It’s the perfect room to entertain guests in, and your kids will love bringing their friends here as well. Plus, from a practical perspective, by having a lot of games and entertainment products here, it means you don’t have to cram them into other parts of your home. So, the kid's bedrooms aren’t full of toys or games as most of them are down in your games room. Also, it’s just an incredibly enjoyable thing to design and execute!

Laundry Room 
A laundry room is an excellent addition to any home as it totally frees up loads of space. Without one, you need to find room for your washing machine and dryer, along with places to hang clothes as they dry. But, with this idea, you can do all of that in your basement. It’s kept away from the rest of the house, meaning more space is saved - and you can confine all the noise to the basement as well. If you install some laundry room floor drains as well, then you can hang wet clothes in your basement without worrying about where the excess water will go - it just drains away. This is such a practical renovation idea, and you’ll stop having clothes hanging on every heater throughout the home as well!

Your basement is the perfect setting for a home office or workshop area. I’ve put both here as they’re kind of similar in that they’re rooms where you can work from home. If you do more office work, then a home office is ideal. If you’re doing a lot of hands-on stuff like DIY carpentry, then a workshop is perfect. Either way, you’re giving yourself somewhere to get all of this work done in your home - away from the kids and all the noise upstairs! It can be a little place for you or your partner to just unwind and work peacefully for an hour or so. For anyone that works from home, this is such a useful idea. 

At the end of the day, your basement is an extra room in the home. Don’t let it lie there and get all dusty and useless; make something out of it! These three ideas are all practical ways of improving your basement design and making it a room you’ll genuinely use.

Family Fun Essentials

Do you ever feel like there is not enough fun in this world? Like no matter what you do, there’s always this
dark cloud surrounding you, dropping little bits of bad news on you as you go along. Life is just full of so
many dark clouds, and so many little droplets of bad news, that sometimes you can even wonder what you’re
living for. But then you remember that as well as the dark cloud that we like to call life following you around,
you’ve also got this wonderful family, the beam of joy that your life needs on a bad day.  Of course, there will
be those days where family is the thing you want to distance yourself from the most, especially when you’re
having a particularly bad day and everyone seems to be playing up. But for the most part, family life should
be a beacon of joy, and a place where you can find solitude from life outside of it. But sometimes we know
that it’s easy for family life to become a little bit stale. You as parents are so focused on working and providing
for the family, that when it comes time to relax and actually have some family time, you’re too exhausted to
do it! So, we want to show you how you can have some simple family fun, and why you should definitely be
doing it. Don’t let life bog you down, always make sure you’re putting your family time first!

Simple Fun Days
So if you think about family fun, you probably think of it as this big massive ordeal that you just don’t want to face. You’ve got to try and get everyone up, fed, washed and dressed, and it doesn’t matter how only your children are, this is something you’re always going to have to go through. But once you accept the fact that this is something you’re going to have to deal with either way, you start to realise that family fun days are actually something that you really need as a group. Yes the start might be a bit of a nightmare, but once you get yourselves out and about, you just know you’re going to have a good time. But if you want to keep things simple, there are plenty of things that you could do. You could go to a local indoor waterpark and have a fun day there. There are things suitable for all ages, but you often find it’s not as much of a big affair as it would be to go to one of the bigger waterparks. Or, if you know you don’t fancy getting wet, think about things that you can do on dry land. One of our favourite ideas that’s completely easy and nearly free if you have the essentials, is a bike ride down a nature route. Sometimes that are bike shacks on things like this where you can rent bikes to take out, but some of you will already have your own. This is such a great day because we feel it’s just so relaxing. All you have to do is gently ride around surrounded by nature, but it also keeps you all fit and healthy as well. There will often be stops along the route to have something to eat and drink at a nice cafe, and if the weather is sunny outside as well, it just makes it a super good and happy day for all of you!

Simple Fun Activities
You don’t always have to make it a big ordeal of having to leave the house and sort everything out to have a bit of fun, there are plenty of things that you can do to have some simple family fun, all without leaving the comfort of your own garden. The first idea that we have is one that we think a lot of you will like because it involves a funky gadget. You could get a hoverboard bluetooth speaker and ride around on that all day. If you have a big family, you might want to think about getting two so that you don’t have to think about all of the arguments the sharing could create. But you could spend hours in the garden whizzing around on one of these things, and endless hours of fun could pass you by. When you’re all done, you could even have a nice little garden picnic if it was a lovely day outside.

Another simple activity that we think you would like, and that we know doesn’t cost much at all, is going to one of these outdoor cinemas that seems to be becoming ever more popular at the minute. They play some old school classic movies, but also play some funky new ones that would appeal to all ages. There’s just something so relaxing about being able to sit out in a park somewhere when the warmer weather comes about, and watching a film all huddled up outdoors!

The Big Family Outings
It’s obviously a family fun essential to have a big family outing, but we know that it does come with its stresses. But some of the best times you will have as a family are when you go out there and do something totally different. If to do something fun, and something that not a lot of families actually risk out there, you could do a family road trip. It’s one of the simplest things you can do, yet so many people dread it because of the thought of being in a car surrounded by arguments. But if you were to make it fun and interesting, there’s no reason why you can’t have a successful family road trip. Just make sure the location you pick is fun, and you keep the car as argument free as you possibly can. Take games, download films, and just psyche everyone up for being out on the open road and going to do something fun.

So, don’t waste this year not having some good old quality family fun, pack your bags this weekend, head out, and do something together!

Kickstarting Your Career as a Stay-at-Home Mum

After you’ve spent years of caring for and raising your kids, it’s going to feel great to have a bit of time to
yourself again. You might find that it’s time to get back into your career, for example, and find back to a
sense of empowerment outside of your family life.

Image from: Pexels

Sadly, a lot of stay-at-home mums think that getting back into their careers after a few years break is an
impossible task. There will be endless job applications, of course, nerve-wracking interviews, and perhaps
even a few rejections down the road - but it doesn’t actually have to be this scary.

By reminding yourself that this is something that each and every job candidate needs to go through and
that far too many people have sent out hundreds of applications before they even get called in for an
interview, you might be able to thicken your skin a bit.

Here is a handful of tips to help you along the way so that you can nail that interview and get an offer even
sooner. It might not be after the first one, or even the second, but you’ll always get there in the end.

First: Give your resume a boost
The one question that most former stay-at-home mums dread the most is, of course, related to the gap in their resume. Sure, they’ve been raising children and done an admirable job at this - but it’s not necessarily related to the career they’d like to get started on.

A way around this is to make sure that you have something to show for. An online course, for example,
could be just what you need to make the employer see that you’ve actually been trying and, adding to
your already busy hours as a mum, this kind of dedication should definitely count in your favour.

Start as soon as possible and find a few ways to give your resume a slight boost to show that you’ve
been trying to gain some experience. Have a look at this online midwifery program, to begin with, so
that you have a flexible schedule to follow.

Next: Use your networking skills
As an employer, you’d always be looking for a shortcut in order to land that perfect employee. Those who already have a good word put in for them by friends or family members will definitely gain an advantage, in other words, and it will be a bit easier for the one interviewing you to recognise your name once you send in that resume.

It doesn’t have to be as direct as landing you a job just by mentioning your name, though, and
sneaking you in during a few conversations about candidates will surely help just as much. Consider
whether or not you already know someone in the industry you’d like to break into and ask if they’re able
to recommend your name - but keep in mind that this is only something you should ask for when you’re
serious about the job.

They will be putting themselves and their own sense of judgement on the line by recommending you,
after all, and people tend to judge others on the ones they know.

Give them an excellent first impression of you and do your best when you get called in for an interview -
it’s really all you can do.

Connecting With Your Kids After School

This post was sponsored by OREO as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. 

When my kids come home from school, it's important for me to connect with them about there day. Whether that be with simple questions like, "what did you have for lunch?", or more in depth things like, "What did you like most, and what did you like least about the day?". I know a lot of parents struggle with getting their kids to open up about what's going on in their lives, but someone told me years ago if you get your kid at the table, and give them a snack, they'll open right up. That's something we've definitely tried to make a part of our family culture since the kids have been in school the last few years. 

OREO has been a long time favorite in our snack line up, whether it's their original flavor, a fun holiday themed treat, or their two new flavors: OREO Dark Chocolate and OREO Carrot Cake Cookies, we're big fans of them all. The OREO Dark Chocolate will help you embrace the darkness and add a dose of playful excitement to the shorter and colder days ahead, while the OREO Carrot Cake are a new twist on an old favorite cookie enjoyed by millions around the world. 

OREO is celebrating, "The Stuf Inside" at Walmart with fun events happening at your local Walmart stores on on February 14th through February 17th. These events will include in-store sampling of the OREO Dark Chocolate Cookies and OREO Carrot Cake Cookies, fun games, giveaways, and free swag items! To find a store near you, visit OREOStuf.com

While you're at your local Walmart store, be sure to pick up some after school snacks that your kids will love, and make that time after school each day as special as possible. It used to be a time of day that I really dreaded, but now it's a time that I've come to look forward to and embrace. Our time at home with our kids is so quick and fleeting, I love being able to soak in as much of it as possible, even if it's just a few minutes over an afternoon snack before we get into the throws of homework and dinner making. 

How do you connect with your kids after school? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below! 

Prepping For Your Basement Remodel

It may be the season to hole up and stay warm, but it’s also the season for change. New Year is just
around the corner, which means a time for resolution and doing something new and different with your life.
A basement remodel is a way to make a change in your home while giving your home the value you never
had before. So far, planning a huge basement remodel has probably been at the forefront of your mind
because of the end result. Perhaps you’re installing a whole new bedroom suite. Maybe you’re
making your basement into a space for the children to kick back and chill out together. Either way, you want
to focus on your newly finished basement and the changes that you need to make to the space that you have.
The thing is, a space like the basement requires a lot of preparation and this means you’ll need to work closely
with the experts to get it right.

Preparation tasks can get lost in the job at hand, which is why it’s smart to have a plan before you get started.
If you don’t pay attention to the preparation that you need to do for your basement remodel, you’re going to
find it much harder to get to that end result. It’s therefore important to go through the following preparation
steps for your basement remodel:

Person Holding Pen Point On Blueprint

Leave Some Space Unfinished
It may sound insane to get through the entire remodel only to leave some of it unfinished, because it’s
natural to want to finish the entire thing in one go. You wouldn't want to leave a corner of the basement
without finishing it when you’ve spent a lot of time and money making it into the perfect space for you.
The thing is, there’s a bit of the basement that houses the HVAC and the water heater, and these things
should be kept open. It’s not just for leaving somewhere open for fun, it’s because of repairs and
inspections later on. Don’t panic; there won’t be a giant gray space with nothing in it. Plan a half-wall or
a curtain to hide the utility area away instead!

Check For Water Issues
The basement is the one place in the house that’s susceptible to flooding, it’s why we invest in waterproofing.
Flooding and leaks could be detrimental to the basement, as you well know, and if you don’t identify potential
water issues before you begin working on the basement remodel, you could end up going to all that work for
no reason and wasting your cash doing it. All that, because you didn’t take the right steps to protect your
basement from water damage which can happen in the winter and with heavy snow and rain. Look at the
foundation walls, because these will tell you if there are any cracks that you need to get fixed. If you have
a problem with the gradient of your lawn, it’s worth spending the extra to level that away from the basement,
too. This will stop water from pooling and causing damage.

Think About Drop Ceilings
Most people plan a basement remodel with a drop ceiling. These can offer the best way to conceal duct work
while still giving you easy access to the electrical lines and pipes. Drop ceilings are often associated with
warehouses and office buildings, but that doesn't mean that you cannot have an attractive style in your home.
Measuring up for your remodel and choosing the decor for the space in your basement means taking into
account the post-drop ceiling height. Don’t use the current height or your measurements will be off and you
would have poured money into it for no reason.

Man Jumping in Front of House

Outlet Installation
As part of your planning, you need to factor in the installation of new outlets. This is because your space
will be designed to power in new places. Most basements don’t have much in the way of outlets but you
can change that with yours. Determine where these will go before you start the actua remodel. You can
do these yourself, but for the sake of ease, it’s always better to bring in an electrician.

Don't Forget Your Permits
It doesn't matter whether you are doing all the repairs and remodelling yourself, you will need a permit for
the work you undertake. The type of permit you need depends on the scale of the job that needs doing.
There are building codes that you need to adhere to as well as zoning laws in the area, and once you've
drawn all your plans up, you need to speak to your city office about the process in your city.

Waste Needs Removing
When you are undertaking such a large project, it’s bound to come with a little mess. It’s likely that you
won’t be able to put too much of it out at the curb for trash pickup, but there will also be stuff that you cannot
put onto the curb, either. The huge cleanup that you undertake as part of your remodel will also generate
a lot of rubbish that will need to be taken care of, too. Speaking to a dumpster rental company will probably
be the easiest way to handle all the debris, and you can also make sure that you’re not taking out your
remodel on the environment.

Sell Your Junk
As part of your remodel, you’ll have to clean out the basement from top to bottom. Clearing the junk is an
absolute must and you need to ensure that you get rid of the things that you no longer want in the right way.
Sell what you don’t want or need and you need a concrete plan and timeline of how you will go through all
the things that you stored in the basement in the first place.

A finished basement with a function is a good addition to any home, and while the remodel is a huge job,
the preparation is important before you even get started. Get the prep done right the first time and you can
start to enjoy your new space.