Archive for the ‘Frugal’ Category

The Best Libby App Tips And Tricks

Friday, December 16th, 2022

Whether you are a super user or brand new, this Libby tutorial will enhance your reading life. Learn how this free ebook and audiobook reading option at your local library works. Libby invites you to the join the conversation as they build this new community.

Sometimes I create content for you, and sometimes I create content for me. This tutorial and podcast episode offered the information I needed to make the switch from the Overdrive platform to Libby.

It is no secret that the topics for our podcast and website often find a way of infiltrating my daily life. For example, one of my favorite podcast episodes we’ve ever done so far was teaching people how to the Storygraph app for those interested in leaving the GoodReads platform.

Hearing from the company’s CEO motivated me to switch from the GoodReads app over to their platform. The transcription from our Storygraph became a written tutorial for new users. The truth is, since that encounter, HUNDREDS of people every month come to the site to use this as a guide for their transition to Storygraph.

My goal is to do this AGAIN, but with a free tool from your local library!

Cue the Jazz Hands!

Today the Libby team is here to help us transition from Overdrive to Libby, learn what makes this public library tool so great, and learn how to borrow and enjoy those eBooks and audiobooks with your library card.

So if you’re struggling to switch from Overdrive to Libby like me, or if you’re looking for fun new ways to use their features, today’s post and podcast are for you.

What is the Libby App?

Libby is a free app where you can borrow ebooks, digital audiobooks, and magazines from your public library. You can stream titles with Wi-Fi or mobile data, or download them for offline use and read anytime, anywhere. All you need to get started is a library card.

How to Get Started With the Libby App

If you are just getting started with the Libby App, I wanted to provide the quick instructions on how to get started.

If you are already a user, scroll down for the Super User information that Libby has so kindly provided for our show and site.

  1. Download the Libby app on your device from the app store.
  2. Open the app and find your library. You can search for it by name or zip code.
  3. Sign in to your library account using your library card number and PIN.
  4. Browse the available books, audiobooks, and other materials. You can search by title, author, or subject.
  5. Select the item you want to borrow and tap the “Borrow” button.
  6. The item will be added to your library account and will be available for a certain loan period (usually two weeks). You can view your borrowed items in the “Loans” section of the app.
  7. To start reading or listening to the borrowed item, tap on the item in the “Loans” section and then tap the “Read” or “Listen” button.
  8. When you’re finished with the item, you can return it early by tapping the “Return” button in the “Loans” section. This will make the item available for other users to borrow.

The Best Libby App Tips And Tricks

These questions were answered by the Libby Team- what an incredible honor to share space with their team! Listen to the full episode below or check out the excerpt from today’s transcription below. I encourage you to subscribe to the Book Gang podcast to listen to more episodes like this one. Today’s show notes are located here.

If you find this episode to be helpful, your written reviews are INCREDIBLY HELPFUL to help me grow my new show.

Get to Know the Libby Experts that Answered Today’s Questions:

These three voices also run the podcast Professional Book Nerds, with new episodes that come out every Monday and Thursday.

Joe Skelley is one of the co-hosts of the Professional Book Nerds podcast and has been at Overdrive for five years. He is part of the digital book mobile team which is a truck that goes across the US and Canada that does free stops at libraries and schools and helps people get started with their library.

Emma Dwyer is also one of the co-hosts of OverDrive’s Professional Book Nerds podcast and an avid user of the Libby app. She has been at Overdrive for eight years now in varying roles, and is currently as a product trainer on the Overdrive training team, training our library partners and their staff on how to use Libby and other Overdrive products and services. 

Jill Grunenwald is the creator and the third co-host of the Professional Book Nerds podcast. She works on OverDrive’s marketing team as a Marketing and Communications Specialist for the North American public library. Her role is to communicate with  library partners to let them know about all the fun new services and features that Libby has to offer. 

This is an excerpt from today’s show. Where necessary, this transcription has been modified for clarity for written context. To reduce visual clutter, we have combined their three voices into one to make this tutorial easier to navigate today.

What is Libby and why are we replacing the Overdrive app?

“I just wanted to start by mentioning that Libby is made with love from us here at Overdrive.

It’s the same wonderful collection you’re already used to and built by the same people who have been taking care of you for a decade now on the Overdrive app.

We decided to build a new app after taking all of the feedback from users so it could be a fresh space.

Libby has all of the same amazing content that you can access in Overdrive, and actually some libraries offer even more types of content in Libby that you can’t access in Overdrive. But now we are working towards the sunset of that flagship app.

Libby is growing and evolving as new readers join and as existing readers make that switch. So still the same company you love, but with a cleaner and hopefully less confusing approach for everyone. “

Regarding changes that we would like to see happen, what is the most effective way to let you know if there’s something that we’d like to implement in the Libby app?

“The first thing is, what’s really cool about Libby that doesn’t exist in Overdrive is you can contact our tech support team directly anytime, anywhere.

And in the same place, you can find help and support; we also have our Suggestion Box. So in the menu, under the help and support section, there’s a button that says Get Some Help. And then, under the Common Solutions section, there is a big button that says Suggestion Box

And you can type through and say, I want to recommend titles to my library. I like this kind of feature added. Or, I find this confusing. You can send all of that feedback through. 

If you think it needs to be done, we recommend submitting that suggestion because if you’re thinking it, someone else is thinking it. And that helps our developers see what they need to prioritize.

Are the catalogs currently identical in Libby and Overdrive with our library systems? 

“Yes, the collections your libraries offer and your digital libraries in Overdrive are the same in the Libby app. 

There are those exceptions. 

You can access more content in some cases using Libby. 

There’s that extra content available, like Kanopy, which is a platform for movies and television shows. There are things like Craftsy, which is hobbies, DIY and other things, and Universal Class, which is continuing education.”

Will my current holds and loans be moving to Libby when I switch? 

“Yes, which is awesome for those of us who keep very long wait lists.

When you log into Libby and sign in with your library card, your hold will be waiting for you on the shelf in Libby, so they’ll be right there for you to okay.”

What about those Overdrive wishlists that we have? How can we transfer them?

“So happy to say that, yes, Libby will prompt you to actually move over your wishlists from Overdrive directly using one of our smart tags.

The first time you get signed in and set up, you’ll get comfortable that first day or so.

And then Libby will send a little notification in the menu that says it looks like you were an Overdrive user. Do you want to bring over your wishlist?

I mean, how easy is that?”

Can I access my Libby app from my computer or laptop? 

“Yes. You can access Libby from a browser on your laptop.

You can go to Libbyapp.com and do all the same things in the app except downloading or reading offline on your computer.

Everything you’re doing on libbyapp.com will sync to the Libby app on your phone or tablet.” 

Can I access Libby on my Android devices? 

“Yes, absolutely.

Libby is available for Apple and Android devices through the App store and Google Play Store.

You can also side-load the app onto a Kindle Fire tablet. (editor’s note: scroll down for more information on this feature)

Additionally, you can listen to your audiobooks via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Download the Libby app on those devices.

We also have direct integration with Sono speakers. So you can listen in your kitchen while making dinner or anywhere in your house with a speaker if you have one of those.

The app experience is exactly the same if you’re on Apple, or Android, or even if you’re using libby app.com, there’s only a few differences, like downloading.

The Apple version is the same as the Android version.”

When I’m in my car and I’m using your audiobook feature, am I able to download from Libby if I don’t have the internet?

“Absolutely. A lot of people do a lot of traveling with their audiobooks, and that is one thing that is really important to people when they’re doing audiobooks.

Libby’s default is to download all titles specifically when you’re connected to wifi.

So Libby, by default, won’t use your data.

That’s a feature you can turn off.

You can have Libby download pretty much anytime you’re connected to wifi or cellular data.

Still, you can turn off the unit, like you can go into airplane mode, be up in a plane, be in the car on that long road trip, and that book is downloaded onto your device now.

This is why Libby is amazing and the superior experience.

In the Overdrive app, I’m sure many of you who love audiobooks know you could occasionally lose a chunk of your audiobook because it was broken up into multiple files.

With Libby, it’s all one clean, neatly packaged file, so you’ll never lose a part of your audiobook.”

Are you taking up more storage on your device by using Libby? 

“Libby doesn’t take up more storage than the Overdrive app, and Libby has several different settings that you can adjust depending on your download preferences.

The default for Libby is to download all titles when you’re connected to a wifi connection to conserve any cellular data you might be using; if you don’t want to do that, you can again adjust this under settings and you can specify what gets downloaded.

You can say everything, no matter what will be downloaded, you can specify for titles under 20 megabytes, or you can have it download nothing.

You can go in and select what you want, and then specify to download things on wifi only.

That is the default, but you can ensure that that’s enabled, which is a setting I use pretty often.

Easy enough to download when I’ve got a connection and then have it for listening to audiobooks.”

Am I able to rate my books on the Libby app?

“Currently, there is no way to rate titles in Libby, but as we discussed at the beginning of this, our team and I take suggestions and love user feedback.

So go under the Menu, Help, Support, Get Some Help, and then there’s a Suggestion Box, and you can let them know you want to be able to rate books in Libby.”

How do tags work and have you guys witnessed any really cool tagging systems?

“I love tags, and I recognize that they can be a little daunting at first because, coming from Overdrive, you are used to having your history and your wishlist, and that’s it. 

What I’m about to say could be amazing and, also, scary for folks, but I always like to say that the limit to tags is your imagination. 

You can create a tag for, truly, anything. 

I create lists based on interest, so I always like to suggest tags for genres you love. 

If you are a mood reader, having that mystery, that historical fiction or thriller tag is helpful. 

You can truly create whatever you’d like. 

I also like to make ones for narrators I don’t love. So if I see their name again, I’ll likely read this one instead of listening to it. 

One of our teammates actually has a tag for gift-giving. 

Her father-in-law is tough to buy gifts for, but he’ll always read a book. 

So she picks things and pops them in his tag. 

So when shopping season comes around, it takes her five minutes, and she’s like, it’s mainly selfish because then she can spend more time shopping herself. 

Personally, I have a tag for my niece and I pull anything that I think she might like to make my sister’s day a little easier. 

I have a tag specifically for Reagan, and then I text it over to my sister every once in a while and just kind of keep it updated. 

I also have one for cookbooks. 

So I always have that handy if I’m in a recipe slump.”

How do I add my tag when I am wanting to tag a book? 

“Tags are super cool. You can create them either when you’re scrolling through the experience or if you’re in a curated list and you see something and think, “I don’t have a tag for this yet.”

It says Borrow, Play Sample (if it’s an audiobook), and Tag. If you tap on Tag, you see your existing tags or the option to make a new one. Also, the tags all live on your Shelf, so you can also make them from your Shelf.”

Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to tag your “MomAdvice Book Club Books,” if you are reading with me this year.

I did notice that you guys also have some suggestions for tags when you’re first starting. Even something like tagging Young Adult if you’re just getting right into categories and you get more inventive over time as you begin to get more comfortable with utilizing tags?

“Yes, a tag tip for people that are maybe Libby super users or just people that are really into books – you can use a tag to keep better track of things that you want to make a note to come back to or add to your TBR list.

This advice is for super users that are working, their library’s wait lists and are borrowing things all the time. I do that as well, and that can get overwhelming at times, especially if all my holds come in at once or I just have tons of books to read, which is always a good problem!

But something I’ve been relying on recently instead of borrowing something just because I do happen upon it. If it’s available for placing a hold or if I know that’s going to overwhelm me later, I’ve been using a tag to keep better track of things that I want to make a note to come back to, but I’m not ready to take any big action with.

So I tend to get like “tap happy” in Libby, placing lots of holds or borrowing things because they’re all at my fingertips, but I’ve been relying on tags a lot more so that I can not overwhelm myself with things in Libby.”

If I want to see all the tags together, where am I able to view them? 

“You’ll see all of your tags on your shelf in Libby.

That will show your Loans, Holds, and Tags all on your shelf, but you also have the option to click into your tags and sort through your tags on that shelf page.”

What are some unique accessibility features with Libby? 

“We’re always trying to improve and refine accessibility in Libby, and we’ve made some big improvements over the last couple of years. We do quite a bit of user testing on that accessibility to get feedback from real users with those accessibility needs. 

Libby supports screen readers, keyboard navigation, voice control, and other assistive technologies. Libby Read From Here is an ebook reading mode tailored to screen readers. Voiceover or Talk-Back Mode reads the text of the books aloud. 

You can use the keyboard to tap around Libby’s interface; we have keyboard shortcuts for the e-reader and audio player to make accessing each feature and button easier. 

We also have configurable appearance settings for ebook pages, including tech scale, background page, color, and book design. 

The custom book design lets you choose a font line spacing and other settings to really personalize your reading experience. 

For those who want to personalize their audiobook experience, there are playback speed controls for audiobook speed ranging from half the Normal Speed of the audiobook to three times the Normal Speed. 

And then Dark Mode supports operating systems or browsers that provide that option. It can be based on your phone settings as well. 

If you have your phone set to Dark Mode, Libby will automatically update to be in Dark Mode as well.”

You have a dial at the bottom of your audiobook. Is that something special about Libby and what does this style do for us? 

“I think there is an accessibility element to it. In your audiobook player, up at the top, you have your overall progress, and then at the bottom, of course, you’ve got those Play and Pause buttons. And then that, that bar underneath that has those little ticks will allow you to skip around. So there are dark, bold marks for each chapter or at a major page break.

It will also show you, at the bottom, where your notes and highlights are if you’ve made notes and highlights in the audiobook. So it is overall a slider.”

When are we going to be able to recommend our books to Libby? 

“That’s the top question that we receive. Truly, we are developing a fresh solution for this feature in Libby, and we look forward to sharing more soon.

I can’t give you a solid answer, but it is coming in 2023.

We want to ensure we’ve got all those major features that everyone is looking for before the Overdrive app is sunset.

It will involve the tagging system, so it will act a little differently than what you’re used to in Overdrive, but it will have the same end product.

But for now, you can use Libby for your reading happiness and use the Overdrive app to recommend those titles while it still exists.

Or you can go to your library’s Overdrive website. Hopefully, we’ll have that new solution up and running for all of you soon.”

When are we going to be evicted from Overdrive?

“That’s funny!

The plan is to discontinue the Overdrive app in 2023. But don’t panic – we want to ensure that everyone has lots of time to prepare.

That’s why we’ve been talking about it a lot in 2022, giving people time to use both and get comfortable.

And then, certainly, knowing that we’re not going to discontinue that Overdrive app until some of those key features we’ve talked about are offered in Libby or there’s a solution to them in Libby.

It’s not just going to vanish without any notice, so keep an eye out on Overdrive social media.”

If we want to get some additional training or support on using the app, where would we access that? 

“I am so excited to help encourage and facilitate folks making the switch. 

I host monthly getting started sessions for new and transitioning users. It’s about an hour, and we will take you through the basics. 

We point out what’s different from Overdrive to Libby, and we’ll be doing that through 2023. 

I do them with my teammate Marissa, and she is, TRULY, the Libby extraordinaire. 

She’ll take you through everything you need to know, and we’ll answer your questions live. 

We’ve got a lot of amazing people. 

You’ll get a chance to have your questions answered, get support and see what Libby’s all about. 

I would also shout out our help site. We have a specific tab called Switching from the Overdrive app. It’s right up at the top of the page. You can’t miss it!

It will cover everything we cover, anything you’re looking for. 

All of our monthly sessions are recorded. So even if you can’t attend live, we still encourage you to register to receive that recording in your inbox. The help site can be found HERE.

Questions from the MomAdvice Book Club Members

Thank you to our readers for these wonderful questions that were asked for our podcast today. These will be helpful to so many!

What’s the best way to manage multiple library cards on Libby?

All your library cards live in your Menu right in the center under your Libraries. 

You can tap and see all the library cards you have; tapping on the name will also switch your active libraries. 

So it’s easy to switch back and forth between all the libraries and cards you have; even with multiple library cards, all of your loans and holds live on one shared shelf. 

No matter where you check a book out, they’ll all be on the same shelf. 

And when you run a Search, you can also tap the name of the library under the Search Field and after you tap the name of your library, you’ll see all of your libraries and can easily switch between them that way. 

When you search for a book and look at the titles details list, if you tap on the little library icon next to the titles, it will show you availability at all of your libraries.

How do you put Libby on a Kindle Fire and a Kid’s Fire Tablet?

We do have some step-by-step instructions to add Libby to Kindle Fire tablets. It is a side-load because we are still waiting for Libby to be added to the Kindle Fire app store.

That’s entirely on Amazon’s approval.

It’s a super simple step-by-step process that walks you through downloading the APK files and adding them, following the steps to your tablet.

And then Libby will function the same way on an Android device. You can find the tutorial HERE.”

How do I put Libby audiobooks on my Apple Watch to listen to without my phone nearby? 

“This is a really wonderful question.

Currently, there is not a way to play audiobooks through your Apple Watch. Still, we have heard this request, especially as the popularity of Apple watches has exploded over recent years.

And so this is a request that our Libby development team is aware of and has received. So certainly keep an eye out for future developments on the Apple Watch.

Is there a way to sync my Goodreads account to my Wishlist on Libby? 

You can export your tags from Libby into Goodreads, but there is no way to bring Goodreads into Libby.

So that is an excellent suggestion and opportunity to use our Suggestion Box and give feedback if that’s something you want to see.”

How do you guys feel about the loophole of putting your Kindle in airplane mode to keep library books from returning?

“Kindle fulfillment is tricky. When you borrow a book from your library and use the, “Send to Kindle,” feature which I have to say is the US only, Amazon fulfills it.

So that’s where it breaks from Libby or Overdrive and switches to Amazon’s fulfillment.

On our end in Libby, the app has internal timers to keep everyone honest and on or offline; it doesn’t matter if you put your device into airplane mode or change the date, Libby knows. And it keeps us honest, on or offline, with copyright policies.

What Amazon does is totally up to them, but we’re respecting those publisher agreements and copyrights, in general.”

Thank you to the Libby team for their generosity with our community! To see the show notes for this podcast today, head HERE!

To help fund the work at MomAdvice, consider joining our Patreon Book Club for our exclusive buzzy books podcast (FULLY BOOKED), author interviews, and music playlists to enhance your reading experiences. To learn head to the Patreon Book Gang! The funding helps us to create quality shows and tutorials like the one you have read today.

Looking for more ways to enhance your reading life? Check out these articles!

Join the 2023 MomAdvice Book Club (and read all year with me!)

How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

Learn how to use the Scribd App (when the library holds get too long)

Learn how to get a free book every dang month

Unique Jigsaw Puzzles for Adults You’ll Fall In Love With

Tuesday, September 20th, 2022
Unique Jigsaw Puzzles for Adults You'll Fall in Love With

Spend a cozy night in with these jigsaw puzzles that are great gifts for adults AND kids. Trade in a board game night for these fun-themed puzzles that embrace bookish themes and more in their puzzle designs.

As soon as the weather turns crisp, we designate a table in our home as the puzzle table for the season. I love to have a puzzle that we can work on in those early morning hours with coffee or at the end of the day with a cup of tea.

Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite puzzles we’ve done at our house and some that made my wish list this this year. We have had the best time compiling this new guide for you.

Make sure to bookmark this list for gift-giving this year. Puzzles make incredibly unique hostess gifts, housewarming presents, and holiday gifts.

DIY Jigsaw Puzzle Mat

try this tutorial for a diy jigsaw puzzle mat

Before we dive into the puzzles, I do want to mention a few ways that we have saved A LOT of money over the years on our puzzle collection.

Three Easy Ways to Save on Jigsaw Puzzles

Find Out if Your Local Library Lends Puzzles- I can’t tell you all of the ways we have saved money over the years with our local library.

Contact your local library to see if they offer any jigsaw puzzle exchanges or if you can check out puzzles with your library card.

Start a Puzzle Swap With Friends- One of the best ways we have saved is offering a puzzle swap with our friends.

When we have coffee together, we just bring our puzzles we have finished and trade them for a fresh puzzle.

Check Deals Sites For Deep Discounts On Puzzles- I don’t think a lot of people realize that puzzle savings can be found in some unlikely places. One of the best spots to check for puzzles is Zulily for 30% or more off their puzzle collections.

If you want to buy puzzles at a brick and mortar spot, our used bookstores offer huge savings too on used puzzles as well as new.

No matter where you shop make sure that you are signed up with Rakuten and that you activate your savings before any shopping!

If you are new to the Rakuten app, this discount code should give you $30 on your first puzzle purchase! I also wrote a tutorial on how to use the app on items you regularly buy that will give you cashback rewards.

Unique Jigsaw Puzzles for Adults You’ll Fall In Love With

Best Jigsaw Puzzles For Adults With Literary Themes

The World of Agatha Christie Puzzle

The World of Agatha Christie Puzzle

Oh, Agatha Christie fans, this puzzle is such a treat!

In this puzzle you can spot famous characters, find crime-solving clues, and historical locations as you build the puzzle.

This has 90 clues within the puzzle including some of her most memorable characters, from Poirot and Miss Marple to Tommy & Tuppence and Parker Pyne, as well as real moments from Agatha Christie’s life!

This puzzle also includes a fold-out poster bonus featuring fun facts about the Queen of Crime and her creations.

Great American Novels Puzzle

Great American Novels Puzzle

This 1,000-piece book-themed puzzle features 24 literary classics.

It would make the perfect pairing with an audiobook of one of these classic books!

Comic Book Heaven Puzzle

Comic Book Heaven Puzzle

We have done a lot of fun comic book puzzles in our house, and they are always a hit.

I love this 1,000-piece puzzle that captures all the comic book magic when browsing those shelves.

Reviewers also shared that the puzzle pieces were fun to work with just like this gorgeous image.

The New Yorker The Strand Jigsaw Puzzle

The New Yorker Puzzle Company Collection

There are so many gorgeous puzzles to collect with the New Yorker covers. This artistic puzzle capture of The Strand is my favorite.

A few of my other favorites are this Paint by Pixels and this Leaf Peepers puzzle are two more of our favorites.

Nancy Drew Puzzle

Nancy Drew Puzzle (on sale!)

I shared this fun puzzle in my newsletter this is our family puzzle that we are working on this week.

I feel so nostalgic about my Nancy Drew mystery days so I couldn’t wait to add this to our family’s puzzle collection.

This one is a 1,000-piece puzzle recommended for ages 13 and over.

It also happens to be on sale on Zulily this week and a third of the price that I paid for it. If the offer is no longer active check here to grab it at the regular price.

Famous Authors Postage-Stamps Puzzle

Famous Authors Postage-Stamps Puzzle

I couldn’t adore this collection of author stamps more.

I love that this puzzle has William Shakespeare, Harper Lee, and Stephen King on one puzzle.

Pick a book from one of these famous authors to listen to on audiobook while you are puzzling.

Murder Most Puzzling Jigsaw Puzzle

Murder Most Puzzling Jigsaw Puzzle

I love a good gift puzzle and this is my new go-to.

In this puzzle, it is up to you to solve the crime, piece by piece.

You begin by reading the story of the incident.

Then, guided by the narrative rather than a visual reference, complete the jigsaw.

The finished image provides all the clues you need to decipher whodunit.

Pair this with a magnifying glass for a fun gift.

Other Fun Jigsaw Puzzles For Your Collection

Stranger Things Puzzle

Stranger Things Puzzle

Trying to lure a teen or tween into doing a puzzle with you? This 1,000 piece Stranger Things puzzle would be such a fun one to do together.

What a fun family night this would be with some Eggo waffles for brinner and some Kate Bush tunes.

Jonathan Adler Shelfie Puzzle

Jonathan Adler Shelfie Puzzle

Design-lovers will fall in love with this shelfie puzzle.

This 1,000 Piece Puzzle colorfully highlights the living room shelf of Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan’s Shelter Island living room bookcase for a chic and challenging puzzling experience.

Janet Hill Puzzle Collection

Janet Hill Puzzle Collection (link to the whole puzzle collection- pick your favorite)

We collect Janet Hill prints and my 40th birthday gift was an ORIGINAL Janet Hill.

To say we are obsessed with this artist is an understatement.

I love that the New York Puzzle Company is offering her whimsical paintings in different puzzle sizes. This Cat Countess puzzle is on my wish list this year.

You can also find many of her art prints have been made into these fun 1,000-piece puzzles too!

If you love Janet Hill’s work, be sure to visit her studio shop to get some beautiful art for your walls.

National Parks Puzzle

National Parks Puzzle

This puzzle is perfect for those outdoor enthusiasts that are craving their next adventure or want to reminisce on those camping memories.

Enjoy these national park destinations from the comforts of home with this 1,000-piece puzzle.

Challenging Puzzles For the Real Puzzle Enthusiast

Impossible Acrylic Puzzle

Impossible Acrylic Puzzle

As someone who relies on context clues from the image on the box, this clear acrylic puzzle would be an impossible one for me.

Reviewers love this clear design and say that they never get bored doing this one over and over again. It also would be a great interactive detail on any coffee table.

Geode Puzzle

Geode Puzzle

This geode puzzle is such a unique brain teaser.

The artists were inspired by how a geode’s crystalline structure is created in nature and uses a special simulation program that develops the puzzle’s image by layering color that radiates from the puzzle’s edge.

This wooden puzzle is made from birch plywood.

The New Yorker Advent Calendar Puzzle

The New Yorker Advent Calendar (24 mini jigsaw puzzles)

Can you imagine how much a puzzle-enthusiast would love this New Yorker advent calendar?

This gift set features 24 mini holiday-themed puzzles to count down the days until Christmas.

Each puzzle is a 100-piece puzzle, but doing this daily would definitely give your brain a nice workout during the holiday season.

At this price point, it would make a very special and memorable gift.

Looking for more fall activities to try? Check out these fun additions to your puzzle routine!

watch these fall shows & movies while doing your new puzzle

How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

download an audiobook from scribd while puzzling

What has been your favorite puzzle to do with your family?

Amazon First Reads: The Prime Reading Perk I Love For My Reading Life

Saturday, July 2nd, 2022
Amazon First Reads: The Prime Reading Perk I Love For My Reading Life

Prime members shouldn’t miss access to this FREE Amazon First Reads program. Learn about this Kindle reading program and how this Prime perk works! 

Do you love to read advanced readers of books? You may not know that Amazon offers a sneak peek at early release books, and it is included with your current Prime membership. 

Today I want to explain this benefit and how to get your free books every month. So scroll down for instructions. I also have a new landing page to the books and this month’s offering of the best books. (updated monthly)!

Amazon First Reads: The Prime Reading Perk I Love For My Reading Life

The Amazon First Reads program is a free Kindle reading program that grants Prime members early access to editors’ picks. 

Each month Amazon releases a list of books that members can choose a free early release copy (or sometimes two). This program was formerly known as the Kindle First program. 

These free Kindle books are released a month before their release date, giving you a first look and the opportunity to build buzz on their official selections. 

This deal doesn’t extend just to their digital version. Amazon also offers select print hardback editions for $9.99 or less in participating months. 

Amazon First Reads: The Prime Reading Perk I Love For My Reading Life

Can I Still Get This Deal If I’m Not a Prime Member?

You can still access Amazon First Reads for $1.99 per month if you’re not an Amazon Prime member. 

As a bonus, Kindle Unlimited members can read most of the previous First Reads picks for free. A Kindle Unlimited membership is NOT REQUIRED to have access to this freebie. 

What Types of Books Are Offered? 

Selections for this program touch on each genre- mystery, historical fiction, psychological thriller, women’s fiction, short story, true crime, book club fiction, memoir, literary fiction, suspense, and children’s books. 

How Are Books Selected?

On the Book Gang podcast, I had the opportunity to speak with Kathleen Carter in our “A Day in the Life of a Book Publicist” episode, whose selections often appear in the program. I had to imagine that this gives an author a great kickstart, especially if they are a debut novelist.

You can listen to this episode here:

I asked if she could tell us a little about the selection process for the Kindle First Reads program and if she had any hand in selecting the authors she’d been representing.

It’s a great question. But, unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for how they choose them. It’s something that they do internally and not something that I have the scoop on, but sometimes the decision has been made before I’ve been brought onto a campaign.

It’s exciting to see, especially when it’s an author who isn’t as well-known; maybe it’s their debut. It’s so cool to see all the reviews come in, especially when they’re positive and, you know, see thousands of reviews for a debut writer and their book. It’s just like so gratifying. It’s a very cool promotion, but it’s not something that I’m responsible for in any way. I’m fortunate to work on several books that are part of that program.

I replied, “It’s kind of like Book of the Month then? Nobody really knows how it happens. And then when it happens, it’s like magic for the author.”

Kathleen shared, “Exactly.”

This support often turns into bestsellers on Amazon.

If I can find more trade secrets in the selection, I’ll share them with you. If you are curious about topics like this, subscribe to my podcast.  

What Does the Program Cost? 

This program is included with your Prime membership. Therefore, there are no additional costs to participate.

If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, this link should give you a free 30-day trial! The company offers free 1-day delivery on most items. You can also access their entertainment options- tv, movies, and books. 

Can I Read These If I Don’t Own a Kindle? 

You can read these Kindle books by downloading the free Kindle reading app, or you can read them on your Kindle device (Paperwhite, Oasis, or Fire) 

Where Can I Find the List of Current Selections? 

I have added a monthly post; you can find the books listed here. You can also find it in my Kindle Daily Deals List or subscribe to our newsletter.

READ BETTER THIS YEAR WITH THESE ARTICLES

How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life from MomAdvice.com
the best app for audiobooks is scribd- read my tutorial on this reading option
How to Use Storygraph For a Better Reading Life
how to use the storygraph app for a better reading life
how to check out library books on your kindle for free

Do you have any questions about how to access these benefits? Please leave them here!

How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life

Monday, June 13th, 2022
How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

Scribd offers unlimited books at an affordable price. Learn why I’ve been listening to audiobooks through the Scribd app since 2013. Here are the pros and cons of this monthly subscription service from a REAL user.

In 2013, I got the opportunity to work with a new eBook and audiobook membership service called Scribd.

What I didn’t expect was that I would convert into one of their most loyal customers who has been a paid member ever since.

A Scribd subscription is BY FAR one of the best book and audiobook subscriptions for your money and is my most used subscription. However, there is a reason I continue to stay with them, and it isn’t just because they have great books (even though that is the most significant part).

Today I want to talk about why I think this is TRULY the best audiobook service for readers and how I make the most of my membership EVERY MONTH.

I want to explore your biggest burning questions like if authors get paid, what the significant differences are between this kind of access versus Kindle Unlimited membership and some particular things that *I* use this membership for (that might be helpful to you too).  

Even if you have been a subscriber for years, today’s tutorial will also offer some hidden benefits to membership.

Let’s get every dollar out of your experience with today’s tutorial.

How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life 

Scribd (it sounds like RIBBED) is, basically, the Netflix membership for book lovers. 

For one monthly fee (currently $11.99 per month), you can have access to their entire catalog of eBooks, audiobooks, sheet music, and uploaded documents.

I want to clarify that this is a digital lending library, much like our experience with online tv streaming services. 

You do not own the materials.

You own membership to stream the books you want to read or listen to in their membership catalog. 

As long as you are a member, you can stream these materials.

At this time, Scribd offers these notable items (plus rotating perks)-

  • Over TWO MILLION audiobooks and ebooks in one app (they work with 5 of the biggest publishing houses).
  • Unlimited sheet music and documents (They have over 70,000+ pieces of sheet music available. This catalog includes the classics and contemporary artists). 
  • Unlimited access to podcasts, magazines, and news (including Time Magazine, The Atlantic, Cook’s Illustrated, & Newsweek).
  • Rotating Membership Perks (more details below on some of my past favorite bonuses).

The monthly subscription includes fiction, nonfiction books (like cookbooks), young adult books, and children’s books.

So your entire family can benefit from this service, all with the cost of just one membership.

How to Find and Add Books to Your Library

Well, the BEST place to check would be the Book Gang Podcast (stream wherever you get podcasts) since it celebrates under-the-radar books, debuts, and backlist selections.

Scribd makes it easier too by offering recommendations based on other books you are reading or have on your library list, much like your experience with other online book purchases. 

You can add books by searching the specific title or browse the incredibly curated selections from Scribd’s editors.

These editors’ picks are where I start when I need a little guidance on book selection.

Bookmark the books that you want to save in your library.

Once you decide what you might like to add to your library, you open up the book and read or listen to it. 

That’s it!

Now let’s talk about those hidden features on the app and some of those faqs.

How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

The Best Hidden Scribd Features and Frequently Asked Questions

What Device Can I Read My Scribd Books Through?

These books are available across many ebook reading devices, including iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire tablet, Android & the Barnes & Noble Nook tablet.

At this time, the Kindle Paperwhite is not a supported device. 

Is it Unlimited? Sort of! 

Regarding reading, there’s no limit on the number of books or audiobooks you can read or listen to each month. 

You may sometimes notice that a title you have saved indicates it will be “Available Soon.” 

Once your subscription renews for the next month, your library will refresh, and you’ll be able to select from the entire library.

The reason for this is because they can “adjust availability” of books based on contracts with these publishing houses.

In their defense, they claim it is to pay authors fairly based on the contract distribution terms.

It can be frustrating so if there is a book you are, particularly excited to read that month, prioritize it just in case it becomes unavailable until the next month.

I would say that this is my only issue with this platform.

How Do I Download Content When I’m Traveling?

To store content on your device for offline reading, tap on the cover of the book you wish to save, and you’ll be dropped into the book’s summary page.

To download the book, tap the “Download” button on the summary page.

Again, it is up to each publisher what they want to make available to its users. Some publishers disable downloading for specific titles, and the ‘Download’ option won’t be shown for those titles.

You’ll still be able to enjoy them on Scribd, but they won’t be directly downloadable.

Do Authors Get Paid When You Read on Scribd?

As I hinted earilier, Scribd does pay authors for their work.

I am quoting them directly when I share this statement, “Scribd has deals with our authors and publishing partners concerning payment for all membership content.

Basically, every time you read a premium title or listen to an audiobook, we pay the author the full price of their work!

Revenue that Scribd earns from monthly membership fees is paid to the original publishers or authors every time you read their work on Scribd.”

What is the Difference Between Scribd and Kindle Unlimited?

Scribd is a better value and they offer a completely different catalog.

Kindle Unlimited is a library of (primarily) self-published authors.

On the other hand, Scribd works with five big publishing houses- Simon and Schuster, Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, & Macmillan. 

The catalog is updated so well that I can often secure my new release books the week they come out. 

I find with Scribd that their audiobook selection is more robust though than their book selection. 

What is the Difference Between Scribd and Audible?

The most significant difference between these two is the pricing.

Scribd is an unlimited service, while Audible offers a single credit for $14.95 a month. 

Audible may offer a more extensive selection but comes at a higher price.

You can read about their different plan offerings for more specific pricing.

How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

What Are Some of My Favorite Hidden Features on Scribd?

Although I wouldn’t consider this first element to be “hidden,” I want to remind you that access to ebooks means you have access to cookbooks and books on health. 

If you are on a specific diet or diagnosed with a health condition, this resource is INVALUABLE for your family.

When my daughter played guitar, we used the catalog of sheet music for her lessons. 

My kids also have benefitted from my membership when assigned summer literature. (Be sure to read how to enable parental controls if you share your account as a family).

I also want to discuss two lesser-known features you might have missed with your membership. 

Let’s start with your Member Perks! 

Scribd keeps a rotating catalog of member bonuses through various partnerships that, in the past, have included NYT subscriber bundles and Pandora Premium memberships. 

Check this page for the included perks for this month

Another fun feature is that Scribd offers a sleep timer on audiobooks. So if you want to listen to a book to fall asleep, try using this feature! 

Just click the icon in the upper left-hand corner, and you can select any chapter immediately!

Select the moon icon on the lower right side of the audio page to use the Sleep Timer. The menu will appear, and select the length of time you wish for the book to play. The playback will automatically turn off once the timer counts down to zero.

Try Scribd for FREE for 60 Days with my Referral Code

This referral code doesn’t give you a 30-day trial- it provides you SIXTY days of reading to try the platform. Activate it HERE

Sound off: What has been your experience with Scribd? Do you have any other questions about this platform?

Looking for more great reading resources? Don’t miss these posts!

How to Use Storygraph For a Better Reading Life
How to Use the Storygraph App for a Better Reading Life
How to Check Out Library Books for Free On Your Kindle
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How to Use the Storygraph App For a Better Reading Life

Friday, March 11th, 2022
How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

Discover books based on your mood? This tutorial will teach you how to use this user-friendly reading app to get personalized book recommendations!

Nadia Odunayo
Nadia Odunayo

This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with the CEO and Founder of The Storygraph, Nadia Odunayo, on my podcast (MomAdvice Book Gang). 

Our partnered bookshop, Fables Books, had started a reading challenge, and we planned to work through their challenge with our listeners. The problem was that I didn’t know anything about the app, and I had a feeling that I couldn’t be the only one. 

As a new user, I wanted to document my year with the app and thought, who better to explain this than Nadia? 

You can listen to the show (read the show notes) on the embedded player or follow along in today’s tutorial that includes some of my favorite excerpts from our discussion.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

How to Use the Storygraph App

What is Storygraph?

This reading app offers personalized recommendations with simple tracking and insightful stats. The thing that sets this app apart from its competitor is that it can offer suggestions based on your mood through machine learning AI.

The real question for many of us (including myself) is the most significant difference between GoodReads vs. Storygraph?

According to Nadia…A LOT.

Nadia said, “There are a lot of differences between our app and Goodreads, and I think it does come from a place of rather than me starting from I’m going to build a different Goodreads. It was, what do readers want and need?

You have this dashboard where we show you everything from the moods of the books you’ve read, the pace, the book size, most read authors, pages, and books read throughout the year.

So there’s a graph where you can see each month, how many books and pages did you read? But also, within a month, you can see each day how many pages you read.

So there’s a lot more detail within the tracking and the analytics that you can get just in the stats dashboard already.

Even when you come on board, even when you just import your Goodreads, I think you get to see your reading history in a completely different way to how you’ve never seen it before.”

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

How To Import GoodReads to StoryGraph?

If you are scared to import your data, Nadia offers this assurance. 

“We always say, import your Goodreads data, have a look at the stats, and then click around a bit. If you don’t like it in three clicks about, you can delete all of your account, all of your data, and that’s it. It doesn’t affect your Goodreads account.”

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

Under Manage Account: 

Step 1- Visit the Import/Export Page on Goodreads and Click the Export Library Button

Step 2- Upload (or drag and drop) the file you downloaded in Step 1.

Step 3- Kick off the import by clicking the button, and you will receive an email once your import is complete. 

Personally, I was surprised how quickly this processed all my data! Even as a seasoned GoodReads user, this took just a few minutes! 

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

How Can StoryGraph Personalize Your Reading?

The differences aren’t just in reading a book based on your current mood. You can also discover curated reading lists of book discoveries based on your other reading preferences.

Nadia shared, “We give you space to tell us what you’re interested in. So not only can you tell us your favorite genres and characteristics you like in a book, whether it’s strong world-building or good quality writing, there’s also a free text box where you can say, I want to read about found family or enemies to lovers, whatever kind of tropes you like, whatever themes you like.

So maybe you want to learn about a particular part of history or a particular country. You can put that stuff in there, and we will serve the best books for you.”

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com
where to locate a buddy read option on the app

How Do You Do A Buddy Read on Storygraph?

If you have always wanted to do a Buddy Read, this app can help you and its intelligent design capabilities.

First, it is essential to note you do need to change your settings to participate in a buddy read.

Nadia shared, “Buddy Reads is something where the default for everybody is “nobody.” You can go in there and toggle it to where friends can invite me or the people I’m following can invite me, or anybody can invite me. You can toggle it to that.”

Why?

The app is designed with a user’s privacy in mind. So, for example, you get to decide who can invite you to a buddy read.

To change this, go into Preferences and update the Community section with your preferred privacy settings.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

Let’s try a PRETEND buddy read with our most anticipated book- Carrie Soto Is Back to show you the experience.

Once you have this updated, you can select the book you want to read, start a buddy read and invite up to 4 people to join on the read.

Don’t have a buddy to do a read with? They can even build suggestions through their machine-learning-powered reading buddy recommendations.

This feature launched in December 2021, and Nadia is particularly proud of this.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com
this is the screen you will see once you both join a buddy read

“I think the thing that people love the most about our Buddy Read feature is you often have to have a checkpoint. You often have to say, okay, we’re all going to regroup end of chapter four and discuss.

Whereas now, if something happens that you want to remark on or you have a question, you can leave the comment at that specific point, and the comment is locked until each participant gets to that part.

So if I leave a comment at 27 pages and we’re doing a Buddy Read, and you’re on 24 pages, you won’t even get a notification because there’s no point.”

Basically, it blocks the Buddy Read from spoilers and yields a more fluid conversation.

The best part about this is that Nadia reassures us that she is only on Version 1, which means we have many more things to look forward to.

How Is Their Book Rating System is Different from GoodReads?

The biggest frustration for most GoodReads users is the inability to do half or quarter-star rankings.

With Storygraph, you no longer have to round up or down on your reviews because this is built into their design.

This is based on user feedback, in particular, bookstagrammers shared their desire to have this option in place, and Storygraph delivered.

How Do I Do a Reading Challenge on StoryGraph?

Nadia walked us through the entire process of joining a challenge on Storygraph.

“Go to the Reading Challenges page, which you can get to from either the top bar (on Desktop) or click for the menu on the three horizontal black lines on the top right (if you’re on mobile).

On the top right, there is a button that says Browse. If you click there, what you’ll see is you’ll see a page with the Storygraph’s hosted challenges at the top. We host three challenges each year.

And then there’s a filter menu where you can search for different keywords with nine categories, and you can basically go through the categories and see what you might be interested in.

So things people might be doing like a New York Review of Books Challenge, Read the World Challenge or Pop Culture (Taylor Swift) Challenge, or some popular TV show. (for example)

So you can either click through and browse the categories or filter the keywords and go from there.

Or you can also do a rainbow challenge or actually beat the TBR categories for people who are like, ‘I just want to get through the books in my house.'”

Does anyone else need a “Beat the TBR Challenge,” or is it just me?

How Do You Mark DNF (Did Not Finish) Books?

In GoodReads, you need custom tags to DNF your books.

StoryGraph builds this feature right into their app.

Nadia understood that GoodReads users had to add these books to a special shelf and that it was challenging to track WHY a user didn’t finish a book. So her response was to build it right into the product.

She said, “To mark a book as DNF is equivalent to marking it as to-read or read.

You just toggle over and mark it with DNF rather than adding a review with a star rating.

Storygraph gives you a space to add your reasoning or your reason for why you didn’t finish this book.”

What Feature Might Be Helpful For Empathetic Readers?

When writing and leaving book reviews on Storygraph, you can add your own content warnings. These content warnings don’t come just from users- they also come from authors and publishers.

Nadia shared, “When you submit a review, you can list what you think the graphic, moderate, and minor content warnings are.

And then what we do is we collate what everybody says, and we show like a smart summary of the likely content warnings.

So you can click through and see every single content warning tagged in the book, then click through and see the review.

But we also have author-approved content warnings, so authors can officially submit their own warnings. And then you can also see them side by side as well.

So we give space for readers to express what they found triggering in the book or what they think someone else may find triggering.

Because not all the time, the authors and the publishers will spot everything. But we also have a space for authors to say officially, these are the warnings.”

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com
join my book club

How Can I Use The Storygraph For My Book Club?

I asked Nadia about hosting our book club on the Storygraph, and she said that the app is designed to offer Reading Challenges and that participants can also split off into buddy reads.

She also hinted that new book club features are in the works too. I’m very excited to see what develops for the MomAdvice Book Club.

Will The App Always Be This Clutter-Free?

I did ask this question right out of the gate, and I loved Nadia’s response. 

Nadia shared, “So our number one goal and aim is to keep it clean and clutter-free. And the number one person that we’re serving is the reader, and we want to keep it that way for as long as it’s possible. 

And that means that we have proceeds from our Plus plan (see below for more details), which means we don’t have to have ads. If we ever had to have ads, we would ask the community about it. 

If you’re involved with the Storygraph on our social media, you’ll notice that we ask; we have regular polls or comment boxes because we’re essentially always getting feedback from the community before we deliver a feature. 

But, right now, we’re not thinking of ads, and we want to just focus on the product and keeping it clean and streamlined, and making sure the user experience is excellent.”

Why Are They Offering Pro Accounts & Why Should You Upgrade?

Everything is free in an ideal world, but Plus accounts are the key to keeping the app clutter-free and funding their company.

Nadia shared, “The reason Plus exists is because we’re trying to see can we stay independent and sustainable and just continuing to grow for several, several years to come.”

You can unlock many features with a Storygraph Plus membership, and readers can try this FREE without even putting in a credit card.

What features does Nadia think are the best features about Pro?

In our interview, she shared, “One of the most awesome features that we have is the Up Next Suggestions feature.

And so that essentially is a page of recommendations curated just for you from books on your to-read pile, suggesting what you should read next and giving you the reason why it changes as your reading changes….

So, for example, one of the prompts might be you’re doing really well in your reading goal, so you can go for a longer book here’s, a long book on your to-read.

Or you’re falling behind on your pages goal, here is a fast-paced book for you to read.

The other thing that people love is advanced Stats. As part of Advanced Stats, there’s a Compare Stats Page where you can compare any two time periods. So you can compare any two months in your reading history.

The other cool thing is if you are going to do a buddy read. One of the really cool Plus features is I can put your username in, and it will look at both of our readings and both of our series piles and suggest perfect books for us to read together, which I think is (if I do say so myself) pretty cool.

And there’s a bunch more, including commenting and voting on the reading roadmap.”

What Is the Storygraph Roadmap?

Perhaps the thing that makes Storygraph so unique is that you can see and suggest updates to the app in the company’s roadmap.

The transparency is refreshing, and it’s so exciting to be a part of the building process as a user.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

Did I Make the Switch To Storygraph This Year?

I have been a loyal GoodReads user for many, many years. However, I will admit that many of the things that I wish were offered all happen to live on the Storygraph app.

Not only did I make the switch to Storygraph, but I also plan to document my journey for you based on the curated lists and to-be-read piles that Storygraph has prioritized for me.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com
this perspective made me realize why I’m burnt out on romance

It IMMEDIATELY changed my reading life to see these charts, to know the pages I’ve read, and just what kind of reader I am.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com
another capture from my stats

For the record, I mainly read fiction books that are emotional, reflective, and mysterious. I typically choose medium-paced books that clock in at 300-499 pages long.

I signed up for their Pro account because I’m so excited to support this woman-owned start-up business (and her team). I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve learned.

It was such an honor to do this interview, and I hope you will make space to listen to Nadia’s journey. She also shares the genre that took her by surprise, how a pages reading challenge is changing her reading life, and how she reads as a busy entrepreneur.

Do you use The Storygraph app? If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them here!

9 More Ideas for At-Home Dates (That Aren’t Watching a Movie)

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

At Home Date Night Ideas from MomAdvice.om

Stuck at home, but still looking for some fun ideas for quality time with your spouse? We have some new creative and fun ideas for spending quality time together at home.

 

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Another winter, another season of few—if any—date nights out.

That’s true today because we’re still living through a global pandemic, but any number of circumstances could create this challenge for a couple.

Tight budgets, too many kids at home, kids with special needs who can’t be left in anyone else’s care, illness or injury, or even being exceedingly busy and needing a night at home more than you need another night out.

Whatever the reason that is keeping you at home right now, it doesn’t eliminate the need for connection with our spouses.

As someone who’s written a whole slew of blog posts about dating your spouse, I should have remembered this—but to tell you the truth, I forgot.

And as the world and our lives have grown progressively more chaotic and complicated, and our responses to all that have been as unique as we are (and therefore baffling to the other who’s handling all of it differently), my husband and I have grown distant.

The connection that we rely on to keep our relationship steady has become frayed, to say the least.

And while many factors play into that, our lack of intentional, just-the-two-of-us together time—where we talk about something other than the day-to-day, urgent needs of our family—is one of the main culprits. I can’t change those other factors, but I can get back to planning date nights.

Even if they look a little different than usual.

If you’re looking for creative, non-movie, at-home dates, I’ve got you covered!

9 More Ideas for At-Home Dates (That Aren’t Watching a Movie)

 

At Home Date Night Ideas from MomAdvice

Game Night

Or puzzles.

Or cards.

Or, hey, if you both like crossword puzzles or adult coloring books, that might work too!

Board games, card games, and puzzles are best, because you’re interacting with one another.

But coloring or completing word puzzles while you sit quietly together might be nice, too—especially if you frequently feel like ships passing in the night or business partners who only discuss the business of parenting and family management.

Taking a break from all that, together, could be a pleasant way to work back into spending time together simply for fun.

 

Ideas for at Home Dates from MomAdvice.com

Goals and Budgets

I know.

Sounds romantic, right?

Well, actually, I’m guessing spreadsheets and bulleted lists might put stars in some of your eyes. (I won’t deny I’m a big fan of them myself!)

But my suggestion is to set aside time to make plans for the year but to make sure you order in (or make) some fun food.

Or play fun music.

Whatever the two of you enjoy, incorporate that into your serious planning date and then enjoy dreaming about your future and working together to make those dreams come true.

 

Ideas for at home dates from MomAdvice.com

Virtual Escape Room

I wouldn’t normally suggest something on-screen for a date night, but I’ve heard that virtual escape rooms can be a blast. (Depending on what’s safe and open in your community, you also might look into local escape rooms that allow you to be the only participants in your time slot.)

 

Ideas for At Home Dates from MomAdvice.com

Try a New Coffee Shop

Now, when I first made this list, my idea was for couples to go into new-to-them coffee shops, buy their favorite drinks, and sit and talk for hours.

Times are different now, but this one still works! Find a new coffee shop, order online or by phone, pick up your drinks curbside, then go park and talk.

With fewer distractions, this date might even be more meaningful.

And, of course, if you can’t both leave home right now, you can order with a food delivery service or have one person pick up your order and bring it home.

The point isn’t the location right now; it’s doing something new and fun with your favorite person.

A variation on this theme would be to try new restaurants the same way.

Support local businesses and find your new favorite dish.

I’m planning to do this with my husband and BBQ restaurants we haven’t tried yet.

 

At Home Date Night Ideas from MomAdvice

Get Cooking

Try a new recipe together.

My husband and I love watching Diners, Dives, and Drive-Ins—but I’m going to invite him to make something delicious in our house, with me, instead of just salivating over what’s on the screen!

 

At Home Date Night Ideas from MomAdvice.com

Bust a Move

This may not be for every couple (to be honest, it’s probably not for my husband and me), but I bet it would be a blast for some of you!

Take an at-home dance lesson. I’ve seen multiple ads for those on Facebook, but I know many local dance studios now provide online lessons as well.

Or, just search YouTube!

And if dancing isn’t your thing, but moving is, you could try a virtual kickboxing class, a yoga video or maybe even an interactive video game.

 

At Home Date Night Ideas from MomAdvice

Plan (and Eat) a Progressive Dinner

Normally, this would mean getting drinks at one restaurant, then eating appetizers, your main dishes, and dessert at three separate restaurants.

Or, if you do it with a group of friends, you rotate homes for each course.

But, life being what it is right now, a progressive dinner looks like ordering each course from a different place, picking it all up and bringing it home, then enjoying it as leisurely as you want.

Same concept, just a bit different, but still tasty and fun!

 

At Home Date Night Ideas from MomAdvice

Serve Together

Serving the community might look different when you can’t leave home, but it’s not impossible—and it’s just as rewarding.

Pack care bags for the homeless; make no-sew blankets for the children’s hospital; write letters to patients in nursing homes.

Another idea I’m excited about: my family signed up to cook meals for teens living in a homeless transition home.

Giving back together is so meaningful and so good for your relationship (and the community!).

 

 

At Home Date Ideas from MomAdvice

Browse the Bookstore

Well, okay, this is not possible for many of us right now.

But that’s okay!

Look up lists of recommended books (the MomAdvice Book Club is a great place to start!), and take turns looking them up and creating your own reading lists.

And if you or your husband don’t like to read, have a movie marathon. You could make a list of old movies you want to watch together by “browsing” movie lists or IMDb.

You could peruse Pinterest for recipe ideas or scroll through a travel site to dream about vacations you’d like to take.

Whatever you browse, enjoy finding new-to-you treasures, learning more about what interests your spouse, and dreaming about more things to enjoy together in the future.

 

What do your at-home dates look like?

Don’t miss these other great ideas:

 

2021 MomAdvice Book Club Selections

MomAdvice Free Virtual Book Club

 

How to Make Homeless Care Packages from MomAdvice.com

How to Make Homeless Care Packages

 

 

Ideas for Date Nights at Home

19 Ideas for Date Nights at Home

 

 

TV Shows to Binge with Spouse

Best TV Comedies to Watch with your Spouse

 

DIY Chunky Knit Hygge Blanket

DIY Chunky Knit Blanket

At Home Date Night Ideas from MomAdvice.com

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Don’t Miss Today’s Book Steals

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020


If you are planning to load your Kindle up for summer, today’s the day to do it! 

Every day I post the best of the best deals and today’s was exceptional enough to mention it on the blog. 

Just a couple of notes on today’s list:

  1. Make sure to activate your ebook coupon before shopping.  Activate the $5 off of $20 coupons that are linked at the top of Tuesday’s list. Once you spend $20, you will receive a $5 credit that you can apply towards more books!
  2. Every month, Prime members are entitled to a FREE Kindle First read. The freebies available will expire at the end of the month so be sure to get your free book this week. Not sure how that works? I wrote a great guide on how to check out Kindle library books and more on understanding your free Prime offers.
  3. Join my free book club and be notified daily of any Kindle steals. I spend a couple hours, each morning, curating the best-of-the-best so you always have a great book on your Kindle. 

Head HERE to Shop Today’s List!

Happy Reading!

Love in the Time of Corona[virus]: 19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

Love in the Time of Corona[virus]: 19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights

Stuck at home, but still looking for some fun ideas for quality time with your spouse? We have 19 creative and fun ideas for spending alone time together during these crazy days.

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Remember six months ago, when we thought making time to date our spouses seemed so hard?

Or we agreed that sometimes, it’s just not possible to go out?

That because of budgets or babysitter shortages or whatever other reason that wasn’t “the pandemic,” because we had no idea that could be a real situation we’d live through, we would just have to figure out how to make a date night happen at home?

Oh, Six-Months-Ago Mary, you had no idea.

We didn’t know what was coming, but now we’re here and though our whole world feels like it’s upside down, the basic needs of a marriage are still the same.

Married people need time together.

We need the chance to look at our person, right in the eyes, and connect.

We need to remember we’re on the same team. We need everything a “date night,” whatever that may look like in this season, offers–possibly more than ever before.

Now, obviously, I could just list off random activities and add “strip” to the beginning or “by candlelight” to the end.

But in case you need a little more than that, here’s a list of 19 creative ideas for connecting during the time of coronavirus.

Love in the Time of Corona[virus]: 19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights

Learn a new board game

Of course, the first thing that popped into my mind was, “play a board game.”

But I can honestly say I haven’t played a board game with just my husband in years, if ever.

I’m not sure he’d be too excited if I asked him to play Scattergories with me this weekend.

But maybe…maybe he’d be up for us learning to play chess together.

Or, you know, something less mentally taxing. I’m going to give it a try!

 

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights

 

Build something with cards or dominoes

Talk about working together as a team! Have you ever tried building a house of cards with a partner?

It takes some teamwork and patience — but can also lead to a lot of laughter (or pride in your accomplishment if you’re better at building than we are)!

 

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

 

Become a LEGO Master

I know, I know, you just got your kids to put away all those pesky blocks. But why not try to make something yourselves?

Fire up an episode of LEGO Masters on Hulu or Google some ideas for using the blocks you have on hand.

Then get creative! (You could even play a guessing game, where you each make something then the other person has to figure out what it is…)

 

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Nothing wrong with a good ol’ movie night

Seriously.

I’m all about creative ideas, but the truth is, the go-to choice at my house is always going to be a movie night. (Here are a few movie recs, by the way!)

Make it the real deal with low lights, yummy snacks, snuggly blankets, and no phones. 

 

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Cook something new

Especially in a time where more people are in our houses more often, demanding more meals and snacks than usual, cooking can be a real chore.

But what if you start with a clean kitchen and make something TOGETHER that you’d never made before?

What if you try a copycat recipe for one of your favorite restaurant dishes?

What if you make something you and your husband will love but you KNOW the kids would never eat?

 

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Take an online class

You can find an online class to learn how to do just about anything.

From building a birdhouse to giving each other massages, just search. It’s out there.

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Slow dance in the living room

Pick up all the toys and papers and shoes and dishes that have made your living room their home. (Or, I don’t care, shove them in a basket and set it behind the couch! And obviously you don’t have to pick the living room…)

Turn down the lights, light a candle or two, and fire up a playlist of your favorite slow songs.

And just…dance.

It might feel silly at first, but what if you do it anyway?

Is it possible you could connect with your person in a way you both need? Maybe…!

 

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Break a sweat with a good workout

If you all are the exercising types, why not work out together?

You could even make a plan to try a new fitness video once a week and vote on which ones you’ll add to your regular exercise routine.

Or simply take the opportunity to cheer each other on as you try to break your personal records running around the block.

 

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Put together a puzzle

Did you know you can make a puzzle out of any picture?

I’ve made a couple out of photos I took in Kenya, but I’d imagine you could have some fun putting together a puzzle made from a photo of the two of you on your wedding day, during a favorite vacation, or simply making a funny face for the camera.

I made mine through Walmart Photos, but most photo printing companies do this.

 

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Binge a show

It doesn’t to be Tiger King.

But if it’s Tiger King, I’m not here to judge. Haha!

Pick an old favorite you want to revisit, or something that’s all the rage right now, or something that’s been in your queue for a while but you just hadn’t gotten to it. 

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Walk around the neighborhood

Speaking of all the rage, neighborhood walks are really experiencing a renaissance right now, aren’t they?

And for good reason. Fresh air, a little cardio, seeing other humans (from a distance!), and reconnecting with the world for a few minutes–it’s all good for our minds, bodies, and hearts.

 

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Go get groceries

But stay in the car!

Order your groceries online and drive to pick them up.

Wear your masks and use your hand sanitizer. (Or, if this isn’t safe or comfortable, don’t do this one!)

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Support a local restaurant by getting takeout

Be fancy about it.

Set the table with dishes (and, obviously, the candles).

Play some music — bonus points if it’s the same style the restaurant plays!

Put away your phones and enjoy that meal together.

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Tackle that home project you’ve been putting off

Stain the deck, re-arrange the guest room, finally create a gallery wall along the stairs, organize the garage.

Those are the things on our list, things we’ve wanted or needed to do, but haven’t had time.

Well, now we have time. Why not tackle these things together?

 

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Dream about the future

We won’t be staying at home or sheltering in place forever.

Even for those of us whose finances are being destroyed by what’s happening, times won’t always be quite so difficult.

Together, dream about what you might do when days are different!

Will you go visit those friends or family member?

Take a family road trip?

Go on a romantic getaway?

Make a list if you’re a list person and keep it somewhere special.

On the days you’re feeling trapped or crowded, pull it out and remember that–even if you don’t get to those particular goals–you will get to go somewhere together again!

 

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Write letters

Together, come up with a list of people you want to reach out to.

Maybe you decide if you simply want to send notes, or a gift card, or a photo, or even a picture you color or sketch.

Then divide up the tasks and get to work reaching out! (My husband isn’t much into writing letters and certainly not excited to get crafty or creative with paper products. But I know he’d help me make a list and stick stamps and return address stickers on the envelopes!)

 

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Get drinks

At home, though. Open that bottle of wine (or whiskey or whatever your beverage of choice is), and take turns asking each other get-know-know you questions or conversation starters.

Pinterest is full of these kinds of lists, by the way!

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Go on a (virtual) field trip

So many amazing things are FREE to watch and listen to online.

Visit a zoo, a museum, or a national park. Watch a stand-up comic or listen to an orchestra.

We might not be able to physically go out, but we can still experience new places together!

 

19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from MomAdvice.com

Work together to help others

Assemble care packages for those in need, bake cookies to deliver to neighbors, draw encouraging messages or an elaborate hopscotch board on your driveway, or even sew masks together.

As many needs as there are in our communities right now, there are just as many ways to help. 

How have YOU connected with your spouse during this season?

Sign up for the MomAdvice newsletter!

Don’t miss these other great ideas from MomAdvice:

Rules for Watching TV with Your Spouse from MomAdvice.com Rules for Watching TV with Your Husband

11 Rom Coms for the Perfect Date Night Romantic Comedies for Date Night

 

 

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com DIY Backyard Movie Night

 

 

DIY Swiffer pads from MomAdvice.com DIY Swiffer Pads

DIY Orange Sugar Scrub from MomAdvice.com DIY Orange Sugar Scrub

 

Weekly Chore Routines from MomAdvice.com Weekly Chore Routines

Recipes from Pantry Ingredients from MomAdvice.com Easy Recipes Using Pantry Ingredients

How are you being creative with date nights right now?

Love in the Time of Corona[virus]: 19 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights

Easy Crafts for Kids to Keep Them Entertained

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

Easy Crafts for Kids to Keep Them Entertained Header

Looking for new crafts to keep kids entertained in these upcoming weeks? Today I’m sharing super easy craft projects for kids of any age. If you are looking for super cute paper crafts, diy science projects, or homemade craft activities made from kitchen ingredients, MomAdvice has you covered!

This week happens to be our Spring Break and, I have to say, this is quite an unusual for most families.

I wanted to gather some fun ideas for keeping the kids entertained, if you happen to be looking for a few great ideas for boredom busters.

While many of these crafts rely upon common household items, I do want to share a list of my favorite resources for purchasing craft supplies right now.

Where to Buy Affordable Craft Supplies Online

Where Can I Get Supplies Right Now For My Projects?

First, be sure you are signed up (or signed in) with your Rakuten account to get money back on all your purchases. 

If you haven’t signed up, this referral link should give you $10 to put towards your craft supplies. 

Haven’t heard of it?

Here is a whole post on why this is a great app for receiving cash back rewards, especially as we all have switched (mostly) to online ordering.

Once you have that set up, here are some of my favorite resources to check out!

Bluprint If you are looking for even more craft ideas, Bluprint is offering their classes for FREE through April 16th.

I have taken so many fun classes through this platform. In fact, that’s how I finally got the hang of food photography!

Oriental Trading Company- This is one of the most affordable sites for good deals on shopping for kids crafts.

They offer so much in bulk, which is perfect for bigger families or even splitting the cost on craft materials with a friend or neighbor.

Dollar Tree Did you know that you can order your arts & crafts supplies online from this budget-friendly dollar store? 

In fact, the store has even more offerings online than they care on their store shelves.

Etsy Did you know that you can shop Etsy for your craft supplies? Crafting has been a huge part of my job and one of my favorite discoveries is how affordable it is to buy my supplies in bulk from Etsy sellers.

To make sure that I receive my orders in time, I try to filter by results that are within my own country, just to reduce those long days waiting to do our projects.

Michael’s Of course, this has always been my go-to in town so this will continue to be my go-to online.

Be sure to download their app or subscribe to their email list to receive coupons to put towards your craft supplies.

JoAnn Fabrics Order online or take advantage of their curbside pick-up to grab your craft supplies.

Also, don’t forget to download their app so you can take advantage of additional coupon savings!

Now let’s get crafting!

We have arranged these projects by age groups today.

Easy Crafts for Kids to Keep Them Entertained Header

Easy Crafts for Kids to Keep Them Entertained

Arts & Crafts Ideas for Early Childhood

Bubble Snakes from MomAdvice.com How to Make Bubble Snakes from MomAdvice

You are going to be amazed at the difference in this solution versus what you buy at the store and the staying power of your bubble snake. Not only are making bubbles and bubble snakes fun, but they are also a lesson in science.

Boredom Busters / MomAdvice.com How to Make Recycled Crayons from Good Life Eats

These Easy Recycled Crayons are a fun project for to do. Plus, you’ll get the bonus of your art supplies getting dejunked and reorganized in the process.

3 Ingredient Cloud Dough from MomAdvice.com 3 Ingredient Cloud Dough from MomAdvice

Here is an easy 3-ingredient Cloud Dough recipe that you can make for your kids! This fluffy dough is a great sensory activity for kids and is so fun to play with that even adults want to get on the action.

 

Boredom Busters / MomAdvice.com Amazon Alexa Games for Kids from Living in a Happy Place

20+ fun and learning games kids can play with Alexa! Get a free printable list.

DIY Chalkboard Door from MomAdvice.com DIY Outdoor Chalkboard Door from MomAdvice

Here is an easy DIY Outdoor Chalkboard Door that I created to entertain the kids! Give your kids some chalk and the chance to create their own welcome sign for your guests outdoors! The best part is the hours of enjoyment they get and the lack of dirt showing on my outdoor door in the backyard.

Boredom Busters from MomAdvice.com Nerf Gun Games with Target Printable from Crafting with Kids

Learn how to create your own nerf wars with targets made from household items.

Homemade Playdough Recipe from MomAdvice.com Easy Homemade Playdough Recipe from MomAdvice

Homemade playdough lasts forever and can be created in whatever vibrant shades your heart desires. This homemade playdough recipe is an easy one to create from items you already have in your pantry and homemade playdough with a big stack of cookie cutters? Well, that just equals hours of fun in our house.

 

Boredom Busters from MomAdvice.com Fizzy Dinosaur Egg Play from Simple Everyday Mom

These fizzy dinosaur eggs are a fun dinosaur STEM project that your kids will want to do over and over again.

 

Shower Curtain Art Canvas from MomAdvice.com Shower Curtain Art Canvas from MomAdvice

A day stuck inside is the perfect opportunity to break out one of my dollar store activities for our kids. I bought a shower liner ($1) and had the kids decorate the shower curtain with whatever their heart’s delight was. I don’t know about you, but my children like to go through a million pieces of paper a day so this was the perfect canvas for their artistic souls.

Boredom Busters from MomAdvice.com Soccer Fun Cootie Catcher from Rock Your Homeschool

Now, your soccer fans can enjoy awesome indoor fun with this free printable soccer cootie catcher!

 

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies from MomAdvice.com DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice

You can create the cutest craft to celebrate spring! We are making DIY pom pom bunnies from a few common items you probably have in your craft supplies and recycling drink containers.

Boredom Busters from MomAdvice.com Easy Salt Dough Recipe for Kids from Unsophisticook

This simple and easy salt dough recipe is the perfect rainy day activity… Kids will master valuable kitchen skills while learning how to make salt dough, and then spend hours playing with it! 

 

Rainbow Science Experiments from MomAdvice.com 3 Easy Rainbow Experiments from MomAdvice

These rainbow experiments are not only fun, but also educational. We know we are guaranteed spectacular rainbows with these 3 fun activities.

 

Boredom Busters from MomAdvice.com Lego Challenge: 30 Days of Play Calendar from That Brick Life

Keep the kids busy with this 30 day LEGO Challenge!

 

Sidewalk Chalk Paint DIY from MomAdvice.com How to Make Chalk Paint from MomAdvice

This is my favorite homemade sidewalk chalk paint recipe. Making DIY sidewalk chalk paint couldn’t be easier and many of the supplies are likely lurking right in your cupboard.

Easy Arts & Craft Ideas for Tweens

DIY Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice

Who doesn’t love a crazy chemical reaction? Since we have older kids, we have found it takes a lot to wow them so I wanted to create some science fun that they had never seen before. Grab your safety glasses and dive into a fun science experiment with us as we make Elephant Toothpaste and learn a heck of a lot of science in the process.

Boredom Busters from MomAdvice.com 10 Patterns Perfect for Kids to Embroider from Swoodson Says

Help kids learn how to hand embroidery with one of these simple patterns for kids to stitch!

DIY String Art Tutorial from MomAdvice.com DIY String Art Tutorial with Heart Template from MomAdvice

With tiny nails, embroidery floss, and our free heart pattern, you have everything you need for your first string art project. Learn how to make your own heart shapes with this easy diy project for you or for your kids.

 

Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice

I have crafted up a watermelon boat that you can share with your kids for your family night together. This fun food craft can be created together, adding your own personal pirate touches, or you can create it to surprise the kids for your family night.

DIY Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com DIY Dream Catcher from MomAdvice

Here is a DIY dream catcher that is a fun way to capture dreams and wished. This was an easy one hour project that really gave me and the kids some time to bond and talk about our wishes for the upcoming year. 

How to Make the DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe With These Fun Slime Ingredients Header DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe from MomAdvice

Looking for a new DIY recipe for making Fluffy Slime? Making slime is a lot of fun and a great way to teach your children how to measure ingredients.

Boredom Busters from MomAdvice.com Lego Coding Activity from Brain Power Boy

Use LEGO bricks to learn to code! Easy to pull together activity to get them learning coding while being offline.

 

3-ingredient-star-cakes from MomAdvice.com Mini Star Cakes from MomAdvice

Check out these mini star cakes that you can prepare out of just 3 items from your pantry. These cakes are easy enough that your kid can put these together and impressive enough to share with your friends.

 

Pom Pom Flower Bouquets from MomAdvice.com Pom Pom Flower Bouquets from MomAdvice

What could be more fun than a bouquet of pom pom posies that you can enjoy all year long? You won’t believe how easy it is to make pom pom flowers for a special someone in your life. And it is a great way to use up scraps of yarn!

 

Book Series for Kids who Love Harry Potter from MomAdvice.com Book Series for Kids who Love Harry Potter from MomAdvice

I know I’m not alone in navigating the challenge of a tween who loves books and can read at a higher grade level than she’s in – or ready for. So just in case you have a kid who loves Harry Potter (but has already read them all or isn’t ready for the next book in the series) in your life, I’ve got a few other series that might keep your bookworm busy.

 

Boredom Busters from MomAdvice.om Harry Potter Brain Breaks for Fantastic Fun from Rock Your Homeschool

Your Harry Potter fans can enjoy magical fun with these special brain breaks. Includes prompts for hands-on activities & to get kids up & moving!

Coffee Filter Flowers from MomAdvice.com DIY Coffee Filter Posies from MomAdvice

I have been dying to make coffee filter flowers and wanted to share with you just how easy and inexpensive it is to make these for a fun table centerpiece or just a few posies on your nightstand to brighten up your room.

 

How to Make a Minecraft Steve Costume from MomAdvice.com How to Make a Minecraft Steve Costume from MomAdvice 

Got a Minecraft fan? Here is a fun Minecraft Costume you can create for your very own little Minecraft-addict. DIY Minecraft costumes are fun to make with your kids and give you a chance to spend time together.

 

Easy Arts & Craft Ideas for Teens

DIY Terrarium from MomAdvice.com DIY Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice

Succulents are my kind of plants because they are so low maintenance and they don’t require a lot of water. Here is an easy DIY showing you how to make a succulent terrarium as budget-friendly as possible.

DIY Book Page Flower Tutorial from MomAdvice

Learn how to make book page flowers out of old books to brighten someone’s day. These book flower bouquets are beautiful to display or to give as a treat to someone else!

How to Dye Canvas Shoes from MomAdvice.com How to Dye Canvas Shoes from MomAdvice

I am such a fan of fabric dying and we wanted to show you a way that you can customize your style. This is a fun way to customize your gym shoes or to refresh an old pair of sneakers.

 

DIY Watercolor + Digital Art from MomAdvice.com DIY Watercolor and Digital Art from MomAdvice

Does your child love to watercolor? Have them create their own water color and teach them how to transform into their own digital print that they can share with someone they love. You can also snag this free DIY Watercolor Printable that we made for you for Spring! 

 

DIY Slowcooker pumpkin spice candles from MomAdvice.com DIY Slow Cooker Candles from MomAdvice

Learn how to make your own DIY candles in your crockpot or slow cooker. Did you know you can make pumpkin spice scented candles at home with just wax, a wick, and essential oils? This easy tutorial will have you make large batches of candles in no time. Just switch up your oils for a different scent!

 

How to Knit an Easy Warmer Headband from MomAdvice.com How to Knit an Ear Warmer Headband from MomAdvice

Learn how to knit this chunky cable knit headband. This is the perfect beginner pattern to lean how to cable. The best part? No cable needles required! Use this free knitting pattern to make these this gorgeous knitted craft, perfect to stash away for people in need! 

 

DIY Book Tote with free printable designs from MomAdvice.com DIY Book Tote with Free Designs from MomAdvice

A good book bag is essential, isn’t it?  Here are some awesome book totes for you to take along using a simple set of canvas tote bags and our free set of printables. Simply print and iron on your own canvas tote bags for a fun craft day! These also make for such a great gift for the book lovers in your life – there’s a grown-up quote, a floral heart and an adorable gal or guy fox to choose from.

DIY Vintage Book Page Art from MomAdvice.com DIY Vintage Book Page Art from MomAdvice

Make some beautiful Springtime art to hang in your home, use for cardmaking or crafts. 

 

Easy Arts & Craft Ideas For Any Age

Create a Family Cookbook from MomAdvice.com Create a Family Cookbook with your Kids from MomAdvice

Have you ever wanted to tackle making a family cookbook with your kids? I’m so excited to show you how we made a scrapbook of our favorite foods and food traditions together. Making a cookbook with your kids is a fun activity that any family can do together.

How to Find & Write Pen Pals from MomAdvice.com How to Find and Write Pen Pals from MomAdvice

Pen Pals are a beautiful thing in a digital age where pen, paper, the process of writing, and waiting are so hard in our fast moving culture. Here is our experience with finding and writing pen pals that I hope will inspire you to find a pen pal of your own for your child.

 

Boredom Busters from MomAdvice.com 150 Educational Shows to Stream on Netflix from Homeschool Hideout

Create a separate profile on Netflix for these upcoming homeschool days. Name it “School” and add ONLY educational materials to this profile.

 

DIY Herb Garden & Markers from MomAdvice.com DIY Herb Garden & Markers from MomAdvice

Gardening is a hobby that is great to share with children. The herbs are small and easy for them to take care of. You can make extra and drop them off as gifts to neighbors!

 

Boredom Busters from MomAdvice.com How to Regrow Vegetable Scraps from Simple Bites

Check out this earth-friendly craft for turning kitchen compost scraps into pretty spring greens.

 

How to Make Homeless Care Packages from MomAdvice.com How to Make a Homeless Care Package from MomAdvice

Blessing bags for the homeless are such a beautiful act of kindness for those in need. This post will show you how to make homeless kits for those in need. These hygiene kits are handy to keep in your car, for those that live on the street, or can be given as gift bags for your local homeless shelter. Be sure to print out our free printable supplies list for your homeless care kit.

How to Make Car S'mores from MomAdvice.com How to Make Car S’mores from MomAdvice

Have you ever ate a car s’more? No? Well, in my opinion, you haven’t lived until you have tried this fun food activity together. I guarantee that your kids will flip for this and I am betting that years from now my kids will be talking about that one time when their crazy mom let them make s’mores in the car.

Boredom Busters from MomAdvice.com Cardboard Tube Bird Feeders from Glitter on a Dime

Recycle those toilet paper and paper towel tubes into easy bird feeders.

 

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice

Have you ever wanted to create your own DIY Outdoor Home Theater? We have had this on our bucket list for years and this summer we decided to finally put together our very own DIY outdoor movie night together with our kids and are sharing it with you! There is something truly magical about watching a movie together under the stars and I love that you can do this right in the comfort of your very own backyard.

Sign up for the MomAdvice newsletter!

 

Here are some other fun craft ideas from MomAdvice.com: The Easiest Burlap Wreath You Will Ever Make from MomAdvice.com Easy Burlap Wreath Tutorial

 

 

Chunky Knit Blanket from MomAdvice.com Chunky Knit Blanket with Free Pattern

 

 

 

How to Make a Yarn Pom Pom Wreath from MomAdvice.com DIY Yarn Pom Pom Wreath 

 

 

Crafting with vinyl from MomAdvice.com Crafting with Vinyl Records

 

DIY Bike Makeovers MomAdvicce.com

DIY Bicycle Makeover Ideas

Happy Crafting!

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Creating a Weekly Cleaning Routine (Free Printable Charts)

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

Creating a Weekly Cleaning Routine (Free Printable Charts) Header

Are you looking for some new ways to divide the daily chores and house cleaning? This weekly cleaning schedule teaches kids to participate in household chores and helps them learn valuable life skills. Use these free printable chore charts to motivate your kids to participate in achieving a clean home and learn how we have taught our kids to help at all ages of life.

Before I launch into our household routines, I just want to acknowledge that we are all in VERY different places, both mentally and physically, since this pandemic has descended up on our world.

For me, I have been very consumed by worry for our family’s health, a growing concern for my sister who works in healthcare, and about our extended family members.

This pandemic, in fact, became so all-consuming that I reached out to my physician for some anxiety medication and have found a heightened sense of insecurity with my own safety being out in our world.

Although this week is better, I do find myself hitting big waves of grief, anger over others not doing what they are supposed to, and frustration with communication from politicians.

I do believe these waves will continue, especially as more and more people around me have been diagnosed or as jobs are lost and financial struggles have increased.

What I do know is that, FOR ME, I was also feeling really unprepared with everyone being here all day, the endless food preparation, and our home feeling more and more chaotic.

Can you relate?

My husband said it would be incredibly helpful if I would start making a list of all the things that need to be done around our house and begin to split these duties.

Chore Tickets download my chore and tech tickets for younger kids

When the kids were young, I was big on the weekly chore chart and even made these punchable tickets for tackling chores and reducing screen time.

When I started to have health problems, we decided to hire a cleaning service to help me with our weekly cleaning tasks.

Anyone who has had the privilege of hiring a cleaning service knows that a lot of preparation is required before the cleaning.

I would, honestly, spend an entire day prepping for their arrival and welcomed this as part of our bi-weekly routine. #whiteladyproblems

Hiring them was more about the accountability than just the help with the harder physical tasks of cleaning.

I fully acknowledged, without this visit, our house would start falling apart.

Now that we are all home together (and practicing social distancing), I needed to figure out chore lists that would give my kids responsibilities and divide up tasks evenly so that all the chores did not fall on me.

Family

For the record, my kids are 17 and 14 so they are more than capable of pitching in to assist. I don’t have to worry as much about kid chore charts or making sure they are age appropriate chores, they really are becoming mini-adults.

What I DID have to do though was teach them how to do these tasks so that we could all enjoy our space.

If anything comes out of this awful time it is that my kids are learning some very valuable life lessons about caring for a home, preparing food, and working more as a family unit.

I am sure these are all things that we could have been doing before, but having the space to do them has really helped our family a lot.

Creating a Weekly Cleaning Routine (Free Printable Charts) Printable Example examples of tasks for my 17 year-old

Creating a Weekly Cleaning Routine (Free Printable Charts) Chore Chart examples of tasks for my 14 year-old

Creating a Weekly Cleaning Routine (Free Printable Charts) Example Chart examples of tasks my husband is assisting me with

Creating a Weekly Cleaning Routine (Free Printable Charts) examples of tasks I’m doing each week

Creating a Weekly Cleaning Routine (Free Printable Charts)

Make a List of Tasks That Need to Be Done

I started with a lined sheet of paper and wrote down every chore that I would like to see happen throughout the week.

Chores around the house were jotted down, as well as more general tasks like laundry, menu planning, changing the air filters, checking our water softener, moving the cars around, and grocery shopping.

Divide Routine Tasks So They Don’t Fall on One Family Member

Instead of telling one kid that they need to clean out the kitty litter box, for example, each family member is rotating a day on that single task.

This means that we all get a turn cleaning up our cat’s poo-poo.

How fun is that? Hahaha!

Figure Out How You Can Do These Tasks In Tandem Together

The idea of working as a family unit is that no one person is responsible for everything.

Instead of just one person working in the living room, for example, each person is assigned a task in that room or a task that is on that level in the home.

To tackle cleaned bathrooms, for example, we have the family divided working in our two bathrooms and doing one or two elements of that routine.

One person is quick vacuuming the floors, swiping sinks, and emptying trash.

Another person is cleaning the tubs, washing the throw rugs, and restocking bathroom supplies.

We do have to work together to nail the order down of task completion, but this system is already proving to be really effective in not weighing one person down.

To make this happen, I also did have to purchase some more cleaning equipment (welcome to your new cleaning caddy, kids!)  so that we all had the tools that we needed. 

If you are looking for a good online source, this is the site that I would recommend for doorstep delivery. (affiliate link, but should give you a free 5-piece cleaning set to get started!)

Daily Tasks During Quarantine

Try to Make Daily Standing Routines

While practicing our social distancing, I’m trying not to fall into a complete slump with personal hygiene, getting dressed, and moving. We made a list of things that are important to us (like, a daily walk!) that help keep us moving and help us manage our day better.

This was inspired by this incredible guidance on how to reduce anxiety while we are quarantined.

It really is incredible how much this helps.

I also will say that limiting myself to a coffee hour and a virtual New York Time subscription has allowed me to feel informed and not consumed.

These don’t have to be productive routines, just routines that you know will work well for your mental and physical health right now.

Don’t Be Afraid to Rotate Tasks

Even though I have tried to make things as evenly as possible, in our home, I have offered that the kids can switch roles monthly so that they don’t get stuck doing the same tasks over and over again.

If your kids are liking their habits though, don’t switch it up unless it is necessary.

Allow Room for Rest

I don’t want to clean on the weekends and feel like we ALL deserve to put our feet up on the weekend. That means that our routines are just outlined for Monday-Friday. This gives us Saturday and Sunday with the freedom to allow for rest and relaxation.

Once again, you do NOT need to be doing chore charts if you don’t care about this right now.

YOU DO YOU.

For me, establishing routines (even if it is just 15 minutes a day) makes me feel normal and helps give flow and purpose to this time.

I hope this helps inspire you to create your own routines that help you feel a little more like yourself too.

Sending loads of love and protection over each of your families. 

Click here to download my blank chore chart

Click here to download a blank daily schedule chart

Tech-Chore Tickets Free Printable Click here to download our printable chore or tech time tickets

Click here to read how we did our chore charts when our kids were small

Looking for more help around the house? Check out these articles!

how to successfully menu plan

how to make diy swiffer pads

how to clean and stock your refrigerator

How have your cleaning routines changed now that you are all home together?