All Posts By:

Brittany Doyle

  • 40 Fall Activities to Bring Your Family Closer Together

    You could say I’m a Fall enthusiast, but that would probably be the understatement of the year. I’ve had my Fall decorations up since the beginning of September. Pumpkins, leaves and harvest signs are taking up most of the space in our humble abode, and I’m not one bit sorry about it!

    The Fall traditions run thick in this household, and I can’t think of a better time for family activities than during this festive, gratitude-rich season.

    In order to galvanize your family members and get the Fall flare going, we’ve compiled a list of our 40 favorite Fall activities that will bring your family closer together. All of these ideas are family friendly for kids of varying ages, and can easily become traditions for the harvest season. Eventually, they become activities to look forward to year after year!

    So why are family activities and traditions important?

    A review in the December issues of American Psychological Association’s (APA) Journal of Family Psychology states that “family routines and rituals are alive and well and are associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents’ sense of personal identity, children’s health, academic achievement and stronger family relationships.” We couldn’t agree more!

    Additionally, studies show family traditions are the basis in creating family culture. Some of the many benefits include nurtured bonds between siblings and parents, a further developed sense of belonging, and the making of a memorable childhood. Can’t help but love those perks!

    A few of the Fall activities require prior planning and others can be done on a whim. That’s why we love this list and encourage you to add some family fun in your busy Fall schedule.

    One of our Fall must-dos is a family hike during the weeks of foliage. It’s wonderful to behold the colorful leaves and to appreciate nature’s beauty that only comes around once a year together as a family. Again, the activity doesn’t have to be extravagant. Something as simple as backyard football can bring your family closer together.

    To make planning even more simple here are a few quick links to find Fall activities near you!

    • To find Fall festivals (broken down by state) check out Funtober.com
    • To Find an upcoming 5K near you here is Active.com
    • A list of super scary films for movie night ranked by rotten tomatoes
    • Some family Halloween costume ideas
    • To donate blood and give the gift of life as a family, find a blood drive near you

    Enjoy the season and don’t forget to check out our Grateful Tree Activity!

    What are some of your favorite fall activities? Comment below!

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  • Simple Methods for Teaching Kids Kindness and Empathy

    As a child, my parents recited the old adage “treat others the way they want to be treated” often. This message has resonated throughout my life in situations where I feel triggered or compelled to jump to conclusions. It’s important that my children understand the values of empathy and why it should be employed in our social interactions and relationships.

    In fact, years from now when I look back on the job I’ve done as a parent, I will measure my success in the amount of kindness radiating from my kids.

    FREE PRINTABLES BELOW!

    Let’s define empathy as the attempt to understand another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from his or her point of view, rather than from one’s own.

    Empathy allows children to assess how others are feeling and respond appropriately. In the age of bullying, it’s vital to the health of our youngest generation to understand and practice empathy and tactful sensitivity. By teaching children to look outward and identify with the experience of others, we can cultivate kindness and foster compassion.

    Below is a printable learning activity, a printable call to action and a list of picture books to help children explore the value of empathy and grow kindness. We hope you make full use of our simple methods for teaching kids kindness and empathy, and in doing so, make the world a better place.

    Wrinkled Heart Learning Activity

    Start with an unwrinkled heart. Have your child cut it out. Explain negative speak and give examples. With each negative phrase, fold the heart until it is completely wrinkled. Discuss how hurtful words can cause another person harm and are not easily forgotten.

    Lastly, explain that once something is communicated, it can not be retracted, in the same way the heart cannot be unwrinkled.

    A few more talking points:

      • Explain why it is important to think before you speak
      • Talk to your children about the struggles that others go through
      • Have a conversation about how the different life experiences of others can explain their actions
      • Teach them that words can hurt and have consequences
      • Discuss how speaking with care and sensitivity could save someone pain and suffering

    Random Acts of Kindness Jar

    Help children learn to derive pleasure from the happiness of others with this simple and impactful activity. Use the label to create a random acts of kindness jar.

    Cut the acts of kindness into small strips and fold them up. Then place them in the jar.

    Every morning (or week, month, whatever works for your family) have your child pull one of the strips from the jar and complete the act of kindness. Watch as they grow in their desire to give and pay it forward.

    Books that Teach & Inspire Empathy

    There is no better method for delivering a message to a child than via picture book. Research indicates that reading improves a child’s emotional intelligence and increases empathy. Be sure to check out the following reads:

    How Full is Your Bucket?

    Each of us has an invisible bucket. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful. Yet most children (and many adults) don’t realize the importance of having a full bucket throughout the day. Felix learns how every interaction in a day either fills or empties his bucket. He then realizes that everything he says or does to other people fills or empties their buckets as well. Follow along with Felix as he learns how easy it can be to fill the buckets of his classmates, teachers and family members. Before the day is over, you’ll see how Felix discovers that filling someone else’s bucket also fills his own.

    The Last Stop on Market Street

    Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them. Help children walk a mile in another’s shoes and gain a different perspective with this award winning read.

    The Invisible Boy

    Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party until a new kid comes to class. When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine. From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.

    We hope you’ve enjoyed our Simple Methods for Teaching Kids Kindness and Empathy. Looking for more on early childhood development? Be sure to read our small steps for Raising Confident Kids.



    teaching kids empathy

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  • 7 Simple Practices for Boosting Mental Health – FREE Printable Included

    As someone who has experienced generalized anxiety for most of my life, I’ve always understood the importance of a solid mental health routine. But since becoming a mother and suffering through a severe bout of postpartum depression, I’ve prioritized self-care in an even larger effort to bolster my mood, remain energized & be the best version of myself for my kids.

    It’s amazing what a few simple practices can do for the mind, especially when organized on a weekly task list designed for the modern woman with a thousand items on the mental plate. Let’s dive right in to these 7 Simple Practices for Boosting Mental Health. Don’t forget to download the free printable below!

    Picture of 7 Simple Practices for Boosting Mental Health

    Motivation

    For my Monday focus (because seriously, Mondays are the pits) I like to think motivation, and nothing gets me motivated like setting a goal for myself. Setting goals gives you longterm vision. It offers purpose, direction and something to achieve and work towards. I’m a huge believer in striving for more and continuous improvement.

    To put it plainly, achievement equals confidence. The goal doesn’t have to be anything monumental, but it has to be measurable and attainable. Once you set your goal and visualize it in your mind, write it down. Make it real. Begin planning first steps towards achievement, and use your Mondays to apply yourself towards it.

    Self-Care

    To be honest, I could go for self-care any day of the week. If you choose just one of these practices to implement in your weekly routine, let it be self-care.

    Treat yourself to a pedicure, exfoliate, set aside 20 minutes to meditate. Self-care looks different for everyone, so do what works for you. It’s important to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself in order to boost positive feelings and self-esteem.

    Digital Detox

    This one is probably the most straight forward yet hardest to accomplish, but I promise its worth it. Turn off that phone/television/computer for an evening and go screen free. Read a book, play a game, listen to a podcast.

    Picture of Rockitmama Free Mental Health Task List Printable

    See below!

    Organize/Purge

    Free your mind of clutter, quite literally! When the environment around us is chaos, it can be difficult to feel in control. Pick one item in your house/office/room that needs a good cleanse. Tackle that overflowing junk drawer or delete excess emails in your inbox.

    This could also apply to a toxic individual in your life that doesn’t contribute to your happiness and should be kindly removed. Release them. Talk about a mental refresh!

    Energize

    Everyone energizes in different ways. Maybe its socializing with friends or grabbing some fresh air. Perhaps it’s binge watching the latest Netflix series after a long week at work or catching up on sleep.

    Find the best way for you to re-energize for the weekend and make that your focus for Friday.

    Health

    Saturdays are focused on physical health which we all know, deeply impacts us mentally. I use Saturdays to get my long runs in for exercise, but again it doesn’t have to be that daunting. Make a healthy meal, meal plan for the week or take a yoga class at the gym.

    Focus on yourself physically, and the benefits to the mind will follow.

    Gratitude

    On long, exhausting, frustrating days with my boys (lets be honest we all have them) there is one thing I lean on to pull me through: Gratitude.

    I started practicing intentional gratitude after my first was born in an attempt to ease my anxiety. Quickly I learned that when I regularly took time to give thanks and share a sense of abundance around me, I attracted a goodness that elevated my mood and carried me through the day.

    I encourage journaling these feelings of gratitude to really drill down on the good in your life & to help make it a habit.



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  • Happy Earth Children’s PRINTABLE Earth Day Activity

    As a self-proclaimed tree hugger it’s important to me that my kids understand the importance of Earth Day and why it’s vital to the future of our planet to set aside time to care for it. This activity is a simple and effective way to have that teachable moment on what keeps Earth healthy and thus, happy. On the opposite side, it highlights the actions that impact our environment in a negative way.

    Watch as they sort & learn the small ways we can reduce and reuse to protect our precious planet. We’ve included the FREE Happy Earth Children’s Earth Day Activity printable. It’s available for download at the bottom of this post. Happy Earth Day!

    Picture of Happy Earth Printable activity for Earth Day learning and creating.

    You will need:

    • Scissors
    • Glue
    • Blue or green construction paper
    • The Rock It Mama Earth Day printable (Two-page download at the bottom of post)

    Directions

    Glue the sorting chart page on either the green or blue construction paper for aesthetic purposes. Next, cut the two earths first and have your child distinguish between the happy earth vs. the sad earth. Glue both earths on the top of each side of the T chart.

    As each graphic is cut out, have a conversation about the picture and what is taking place. Explain why each picture either makes the Earth happy or sad based on what is occurring. Lastly, have them glue the graphic on the correct side of the T chart.

    Cutting Happy Earth printable for Earth Day learning activity.

    Just look at that focus! (Insert heart eyes)

    He’s well on his way to becoming a passionate environmentalist. Need more fun ideas for appreciating nature and the world around us? Add these 7 Nature and Exploration Ideas for Kids to your list!



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  • Fun Valentine’s Day Themed Activities for Preschoolers

    I call this time of year the winter lull. We’re post holiday season, mostly cooped up indoors, and running out of ideas to keep the littles even mildly entertained. When I’m all out of options and in serious need of a fresh activity to keep my preschooler occupied, I turn to something creative or crafty, and perhaps sensory in nature. And because I’m all about themes, I try to connect the activity to the time of year, which is why these Fun Valentine’s Day themed activities ideas are centered around our favorite February holiday.

    So mama, if you’ve found yourself in a similar boat and the kids are in dire need of a new interest (and for you a moment of silence) give these Fun Valentine’s Day themed activities for preschoolers a whirl, and make sure to tell us what you think in the comments below!

    1. Love Soup

    I LOVE this Valentine themed sensory activity that you can potentially piece together without even leaving the house! Let your child pretend to create cups of “Love soup” with the colored water and foam hearts. Caution: it may get wet!

    You will need:

    • A plastic bin filled with water
    • Red food coloring
    • Foam hearts
    • Heart themed cups
    • Kitchen utensils (for pouring and measuring)
    • Towel for clean up

    It’s important to note that while participating in this Love Soup sensory activity, children build skills in many different areas. Measuring and guesstimating amounts can be applied to math and science. Socially, kids can develop team-working skills. Sensory play can also be used as a calming tool & distraction for tantrums. It also provides your child an opportunity to explore their senses – touch, sight, sound (even smell & taste if you want to go there) while they simultaneously learn and discover. Cheap, easy to make, and a stimulating experience right at home. Yum!

    2. Love Monster Book & Craft

    This children’s book is one of my favorites for the Valentines Day Holiday and has a wonderful message about sharing with friends and the joys of giving. Crafts involving characters are a great way to get your kids excited about reading materials. You can purchase Love Monster and the Last Chocolate here!

    You will need:

    • 1 Paper Plate (per craft)
    • Red Tissue Paper
    • Glue
    • Kid Friendly Scissors
    • Red/White/Black Colored Cardstock

    Directions:

    • First cut your red tissue paper into small squares
    • Put a good amount of glue all over your paper plate
    • Have your child place the tissue paper on top of the glue, until the paper plate is completely covered
    • While your child is working on that, cut out the other “love” monster embellishments from the cardstock. Think eyes, ears, mouth etc.
    • To finish the Love Monster themed kid craft – glue on the facial features to the paper plate and display proudly

    3. Heart Hunt

    This one is excellent for releasing some of that pent up energy! Hide the hearts around your home (much like an easter egg hunt) and have your child perform the exercise listed on each heart as they’re discovered. To keep it interesting, offer a prize at the end once all of the hearts have been collected! I used simple actions like “jump on one foot” and “sing the ABCs” but feel free to cater it to activities your little can execute.

    You will need:

    • Foam or paper hearts of various colors (foam will hold up better but I used paper since I already had it)
    • Marker

     

    And there you have it! The Heart Hunt. We hope these fun Valentine’s Day themed activities for preschoolers help to liven the mood in your household and offer a switch to your normal routine!

    Another super sweet idea for Vday fun: Homemade Air Fryer Donuts!

     

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  • 8 Ways to Pay it Forward this Holiday Season

    Charitable pro-tip: you don’t have to have to be a billion dollar philanthropist to make the world a better place. While the holidays are a wonderful time to reflect on the best aspects of our lives, it can be easy to forget our community members in need.

    As my oldest is becoming more aware of the world around him, it’s increasingly important to me that he understands the true meaning of Christmas and the power of giving. Below we’ve compiled 8 easy (child friendly) ways to bring meaning to your holiday season.

    Toy drive

    Toys for tots is a wonderful organization specializing in toy collection.  Every year dedicated United States Marines and local volunteers host a nationwide campaign to deliver Christmas to millions of less fortunate children. You can find a nearby toys for tots chapter here.

    Sponsoring a family in need is another great way to pay it forward. In lieu of our secret Santa gift exchange one year, my girlfriends and I sponsored a family and each of us selected a child to buy for.  When it was all said and done the entire family had gifts to open on Christmas morning. If you’re interested in getting involved in this incredibly rewarding form of donation, click here.

    Coat drive

    Give the gift of warmth this winter. Clean out the closet and donate old coats and jackets to a homeless or battered women’s shelter. For many Americans living below the poverty line, a new warm coat is considered a budget extra.

    When the time comes that your kids have grown out of their winter gear, consider donating to a coat drive such as the one facilitated by One Warm Coat.

    Canned food drive

    Nonperishable food drives are happening everywhere this time of year. Pick up some extra canned foods during the weekly grocery run and drop them off at a food bank, church or any center accepting canned food donations.

    Also, check with your child’s school, as many collect canned food around the holidays as well.

    Donate Toiletries

    Many people forget the need for hygiene products at shelters and deliver food-oriented goods instead. Its always a great idea to check in with the center and find out what products are in demand.

    Think toilet paper, toothpaste, feminine hygiene, diapers, etc. Another fun way to gather supplies is to host a “toiletry drive”. Have friends come over and bring hygiene product donations and watch the goods pile up.

    Help a Neighbor

    As the old homage goes “Love thy neighbor” and what better time to show kindness than the holiday season, and hint, it doesn’t always have to be in the form of baked goods.

    Maybe your neighbor needs their driveway shoveled or some help with the pets while they travel. It never hurts to ask if there’s anything you can do to help out. There’s also a good chance your good deed will be reciprocated!

    Give Blood

    Donating blood and platelets costs literally nothing, sans maybe an hour or two of your time, and the gift is potentially life saving.

    Look for posters advertising local blood drives or stop by a blood donation center to ensure blood supply for ongoing patient needs and unforeseen trauma situations.

    Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

    Let’s not forget our furry friends. If adoption is just completely out of the question (I mean, what better gift for your loved one than a puppy) volunteer some of your spare time at a local animal shelter.

    Help with dog walking, cleaning or donate pet food and toys. Some shelters will even let you bring home a pet for the holidays so they don’t have to spend this special time of year alone. Our animals deserve love too.

    Start at Home

    Our children are the fingerprints we leave on the world when we’re gone. It is vital to instill the values of kindness, empathy and compassion on the generation we are raising. Kids can be taught with explanation and led by example. Paying for a stranger’s coffee or helping a friend move may seem like simple acts of generosity, but when our children are watching, it is possible to impress upon them a lifelong commitment to kindness and benevolence.

    Do society a favor and get your kids involved in philanthropy early and often. For more information be sure to look into The Kindness Campaign.

    Looking for a quick act of kindness? Check out this sweet, small gift. DIY Scrabble Tile Ornament

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