What are you getting your kids for Christmas?

Lately, my kids have been "playing martial arts" - it's what they call it. They pretend fight in our front yard for large portions of the afternoons after school. They also like to sword fight with sticks (yikes! I can't watch).
It's good, clean fun - the kind I read articles about how kids need to play outside more without adult supervision.

Point being, mostly...they don't play with toys. So I am a little stumped as what to get them for Christmas. Sure they have extensive lists, but really the fun is in the list making not receiving ALL the things that just don't hold up.

So...what are you getting your kids for Christmas?

Here's a few suggestions from Christmases past that have been winners, things in which the glory has lasted more that 12 seconds and I'm not chunking in the trash come January.

We have spent hours on our spider swing, adults too!


The only toy you really ever need. These are worth every penny. Buy as many as you can afford.


Tempera paint sticks
These are so fun. The tempera paint sticks make vivid pictures but without the crazy mess of getting out the paint. Tip: be careful to put the tops back on because they do dry out. 

balance bike
Balance bikes are the best for learning to ride a big bike. Caroline is getting one this year. Shh!

Much to my surprise, this Kidizoom watch was a huge success. My kids received these last Christmas when they were really pushing us for a techy gift. It satisfied their craving for screen time, but it's way less memorizing than an iPad. Way less.
VTech Kidizoom smartwatch

What gifts have been a big win at your house?
What are you getting your kids this year?

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Theme Days + Weekly Routine

A couple months back I was listening to an episode of one of my favorite podcasts. The host, Meg, mentioned that her themed days of the week were really helping her win at this thing we call life. Minute 34:24 if you want to go listen - it's a great conversation. It all started when she made Saturday "prep for rest" day. This set up Sunday to be truly restful. But it took planning and intentionally, really pushing herself on Saturday to get her errands, housework, etc done. She went on to explain the other days...

Monday: weekend recovery, grocery pick up
Tuesday: tackle to-do's
Wednesday: whatever day
Thursday: pray and prep (standing appointment to go to a prayer chapel, prep for podcast)
Friday: work hard/ play hard
Saturday: prep for rest
Sunday: rest

This themed days of the week idea clicked for me. Many things I do naturally fall on certain days. But I experimented and took it a step further, giving each day of the week a theme to guide the day's  activities. And y'all! My weekly routine is my life. I feel as close to caught up as I have ever been as an adult.

It goes like this.

Meal plan Monday: Monday afternoon I make a meal plan and order my groceries (to be picked up Tuesday morning). It is a standing appointment.

To do Tuesday: Tuesday is a day for "to-do's." I clean out my e-mail. I make any needed appointments. I handle bill paying or insurance or budgeting tasks. I think about holidays, birthdays, and gifts. I handle any school or church business. To-do Tuesday!

Catch-All Wednesday: Whatever I didn't get to on Tuesday, falls to Wednesday. Wednesday is a day to catch up on anything that needs catching up on...cooking, cleaning, or administrative type stuff.

Busy Thursday: Thursdays are our busiest day. Busy Thursday means I usually start the day off with a slow cooker meal in the morning and I have low or no expectations for being productive on Thursday...besides getting us where we need to go.

Play Friday: Fridays are for fun. For me this usually means loosening up the screen time rules for my kids and giving myself a little quiet while I read a book. It's crazy, I know.

Prep for Rest Saturday: I adopted from this from Meg. Saturday I try to tie up any loose ends especially surrounding laundry or school related things like making sure I have enough food for lunches, signing Friday folders, and making sure all the school uniforms are clean.

Sunday: REST

This has truly been revolutionary for my stress levels of how (and when?) do I get it all done?!

Two last things -

1. If you do anything, make a standard meal plan and grocery day. It will change your life! Guard that time vigorously and you will be amazed at how much brain space you will get back and how much money you save.

2. Lean in to your natural rhythms. When I made this routine, I basically gave a little more definition to what was naturally already happening. What changed was it gave me permission to really focus on what the theme was for that day and ignore the nagging sense that maybe I should be doing something else.

So how about it?
Do you have a weekly routine?
Do you have theme days?
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