How to Have a Happy Family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

How to Have a Happy Family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

We all want to have a happy family, but how do we have a happy family? Every family has its traditions, quirks, and drama. First and foremost, you have an amazing family. Family is fun in its own way, simply watch your family and learn what makes it tick. However, some seasons within the home walls can be challenging. How do we navigate through these times? This post will help you bring light to the surface and give you 3 amazing steps to learn how to have a happy family.

Put your seatbelt on for a ride that has game-changer effects on how your home and family feel. Learn how to be a better person, how to help your kid, and how to simplify life. Put joy back into your every day. Let’s jump into how to have a happy family.

How to have a happy family kids laying on grass

This is about who?

This is about who? Your family, of course, but more importantly it’s about someone else. Whether you’re a mom or a dad, or someone who has filled that role, how to have a happier family starts with the foundation, and that’s you. No special toy, no vacation, or no incredible treat is going to give your family long-lasting results. The only outcome with that will be a spoiled kid. I get it…that was harsh for me to say; seriously though, how to have a happier family is all about you (the parent).

Who said parenting was easy? You might not like this.

Babies are so cute. But babies grow up to be their own person, just like you. The way babies learn how to grow up is by watching, listening, and copying you. They watch your actions, they listen to every word you say, and to the tone you are speaking. They know how you treat other people, they know your opinions, they know your habits good and bad. Parenting is a responsibility, it’s not all fun and games, or a box to be checked off. So, if you want to have a happier family, then be a happier parent.

3 Revolutionary Steps to How to Have a Happy Family

Step 1. How to be a happier parent

A happier parent isn’t just a surfaced smile and a tickle attack. It’s much deeper than that, it starts with taking care of YOU and tending to your heart. Important note: There is a delicate balance between working on yourself and selfishness. A selfish parent is a toxic parent. But a parent who takes of themselves to better themselves is a healthy one. This is where self-care comes into play.

When you are at peace, when you are healthy, when your heart is full, when your relationships are in check, and when you love your job…your kids are going to feel the difference, your kids will copy you, your kids will learn how to have joy simply by watching and listening to you. In other words, if you want something to change in your kid…let’s say their weight, then YOU lose weight. Do that journey together! They need someone to learn from, to walk alongside them, to feel their pain with, and to meet them where they are.

Step 2. Get rid of the junk

Another thing you can do to help your family be happier is to lose the junk. As silly and simple as this sounds, picking up around the house makes a difference! Clean up the house and get it organized. This sounds all fine and dandy, but where do you start? You start with the things you can see. This means taking a look at your surroundings.

How to clean the house easily is a loaded task. What does “clean” mean? Does it mean dusting or organizing? Either way, get your home feeling lighter and brighter. Here are a few tricks up my sleeve to help your home feel happier and more welcoming.

scavenger hunt
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5 Fun Tips to Brighten Your Home

1. Open the shades and curtains. Natural light has a way of making you feel better. Check this Healthline post about natural light. Let the sunshine in!

2. Buy yourself some flowers. Flowers can bring bright colors or softness into your home. A vase of flowers is welcoming and a lovely centerpiece. There are great flower deals at ALDI, Trader Joe’s, and even Costco. Don’t forget about your local roadside flower stands!

3. String lights aren’t just for Christmas. They look kind of like fireflies! String lights are inexpensive for what they do. String them in a faux tree, along the fireplace mantel, around a window, or along the ceiling! There are endless options for string lights. There are the LED moving lights, those are fun, but they are not what I am talking about. When Christmas lights go on sale, buy a couple of boxes and have fun with them.

4. Clean the house. Yep. Get down and dirty and do a deep clean. I’ve got a post that may help you with this: Cleaning the House: 5 Factors to Understand. It talks about hiring a cleaning person to do it yourself.

5. Tidy up the yard. This is something your family can do all together. Pick up the garbage, trim the bushes, cut the lawn, start a garden, maybe power wash the siding or deck; make your house look like a home that cares. Did you know the appearance of a building makes a difference in how you feel about that particular place? Make your home welcoming, whether it starts at the street or the door of your apartment. Get it looking nice.

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Step 3. This step might get hard, but it will change the course of your life

Take care of yourself. I’m not just talking about your looks, yes, that’s important too, but I’m referring to deep self-care. Let me put it this way, your thoughts will eventually become your actions; Matthew 15:17 tells us this. Put POSITIVE things in your mind, through self-talk, good books, positive music, encouraging shows, and clean videos. You need a break from the darkness. Your soul needs it too.

Let me explain when you watch or listen to dark videos, movies, video games, foul language, or music; it’s an invitation for darkness to come into your world. Do you want that? Be aware and look around you. What do you see on your playlist? What do you see in your entertainment cue? Rated R? Horror? Crime? Do you feel that nothing good happens to you? Does something bad happen to you every day? Check out my post on Spiritual Warfare.

Breakfree now!

Allow yourself to break free from the world’s view of you. Tidy up your body by losing weight for good, clean up your diet, and get your body moving. Learn more about yourself and understand who you are, you may want to look back to see if you’re making decisions based on what others want for you instead of yourself. I call this “being stuck in a mold”. Please protect your kids from getting stuck in a mold that’s either coming from you, your parents, or their friends. When you allow your kids to discover who they are, they are going to be a happier camper.

Personal wounds? Listen up!

Address your personal wounds, yeah, I’m talking to you right now, not your kids. How to have a happy family is about the stability of the foundation. Remember that the foundation is you, the parent. Please listen with an open heart. This is so critical to your lifelong happiness and joy. We’re all wounded. But the families and couples that are full of joy and peace, are the ones who heal from their past wounds. So if you know how to heal, then you can help your child learn how to heal.

Deep personal wounds bleed into our actions and words, no matter how hard we try to hide them. How do we heal from past trauma? Yes, a counselor can help you, but be careful in finding one. There is only one person who can heal, Jesus. A great way to start the healing process is to pray and ask Him to come into your life. I have a prayer here to help you. Find a church either online or in your community and learn more about Him. He helped me, and I know he’ll help you too.

Hebrews 7:25
Jesus knows

Get to know Jesus. He knows what you’re battling with. He’s waiting for you to ask for help from him, so get to know him first. Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible. When you feel it’s the right time, ask a friend who follows Jesus to pray with you. During this time, ask Jesus to go to that specific wound and to show you how to heal, to shine his light on it.

If there is anything in the post I want you to remember, it is this part. Jesus will heal if you grab His hand. I highly recommend you ask your church to pray for you and to talk to a Christian life coach or professional Christian counselor. Healing your wounds is a game-changer. Doing this, will not only help you, but it will help the people around you.

Uh oh. Are your kids getting in trouble? Buckle up Buttercup

Are your kids getting in trouble at school? Your kid who is misbehaving in school, your kid who is bullying others…(hang tight) this is your problem, not theirs. I’m going to circle around and ask that you do a personal check on what’s going on with yourself. What are you talking about when they are around? How are you talking, are you swearing, are you yelling, are you gossiping, are you judging and being critical? Are you even around? Did you move? A divorce? Change jobs?

Walk alongside your kid. They don’t know how to navigate through major issues. Walk through it together. Learn together. Talk with each other. Pray together. If they’re stressed, help them to know how to manage the stress.

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Finally, the fun stuff!

Whew! We had to take care of business before we got to the fun stuff. But like I said, how to have a happy family isn’t all fun and games all the time; most of the time it’s the little things like opening up the curtains, baking cookies together, communicating, or watching the game with everyone. Kick off the home happiness with a really fun and inexpensive time with your family, do this Scavenger Hunt Challenge. Seriously this is so fun and full of laughs, even your teenager will like it!  

Here are a few posts that you can do with your kiddos to brighten their day and yours for that matter! Please don’t forget to laugh and be goofy every once in a while. They may roll their eyes, but deep down it makes them feel loved. And remember, everyone wants a little “me time”. Be sure to give your kids a little bit of that special time with themselves so they can learn more about who God made them to be.

Kid Activities at Home: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now!

13 Family Games Worth Playing, Plus a Little History

8 Best Children’s Books for 4-year-olds

How to have a happy family conclusion

This has been a tough post to write and listen to for that matter. I need this post myself! If you want to know how to have a happy family, to have more joy in your home; then work on yourself. You got this. Your kids will be happier, more confident, and will have peace. Be sure to check out The #1 Way to Simplify Your Life for Good! Pay attention to the simple things that bring light. If you want more tips on simplifying, find some fantastic tips on how to simplify my life in 5 Best Pieces of Advice for How to Simplify My Life. Keep shining your light!

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By CT Copyright © 2022 Do More Than Exist. All Rights Reserved.
Pride: How Cookie Dough Gave Me Super Powers

Pride: How Cookie Dough Gave Me Super Powers

Pride. Good? Bad? Let’s see in play and start practicing how to manage it. Ironically, I’ve got 5 ways to feel like Wonder Woman and pride ain’t one of them. PLUS! You’ll get tips on how to reduce stress along with an amazing gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe!

how cookie dough gave me super powers how to deter pride
Get the recipe below, plus where I get the special ingredients.

Pride. What is it?

First off it was pride that got Satan kicked out of heaven. Yup. I’m starting with that. Secondly, pride is actually a weakness. How? One definition is this: pride is demeaning other people or feeling an aversion to others. It kind of sounds like pride has ingredients of envy, comparing, insecurity, being critical of others, disrespecting others, thinking you’re better than everyone else, and narcissism. I wouldn’t want that in my house either! Yet, because we live in a broken world, we’re going to find that in our house and in ourselves at times. So what do we do? How did we get it?

The setting, can you relate to?

Tears streamed down my cheeks. “Dear God, how am I going to do this? I have too much going on…too many hats to wear. Christmas is coming and I am the shopper, decorator, home manager, wife, mom, personal banker, blogger, volunteer, and now a student.”

Do you see what I see? This is what I see. I see my humanness in thinking I am a superwoman; that I can handle all these hats and do a great job. My expectations of myself are full of pride. Yet! I ask God to help me. Hmm.

There is nothing wrong with being busy and wearing many hats. Some people enjoy this kind of thing. But we must look at the motive behind our actions and agenda. Are the motives right with God? Or are the motives to prove to others that you are a superwoman and did it all by yourself and did a great job? Are you looking for that validation from others, that “wow” factor reaction from them? Or are you having fun and doing these things out of the joy of your heart for His Kingdom?

Oscar Wilde To live is the ratest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

Let’s get vulnerable. I messed up.

That December, in 2017, I got carried away. I had a hard time sleeping, completing a thought, and taking care of my own physical ailments. I just existed. Don’t get me wrong it had its fun times with family and friends; but there were challenging, brain-draining, and humbling realities scattered throughout the month. The Enemy was at work and I didn’t see it.

“You let this little thing tell you what to do?”

– Diana (Wonder Woman)

Wonder Woman Activate

During the second full week in December, my expectations for myself were stupidly unrealistic. Not only did I have the usual Christmas preparations and home duties, but I started an online class! WHAT? “Wonder Woman Activate!” I would say to myself. “Wonder Woman Activate!” I pictured this tall, confident, strong woman with fists on hips seamlessly doing everything with a smile and wind blowing through her hair. Why did I take a fictional character and think I could be her?!

“Wonder Woman Activate! I can do this.” Then out of nowhere as I was looking outside for deep answers, a hawk landed on the back deck. Was this a sign? BARK! Bark, bark, bark! My dog saw the hawk… I snapped out of my dream. There I stood looking outside. My eyes stung. My arms crossed. And a golf ball-sized knot grew in the nook of my neck.

know where you're headed

“Wonder Woman Active”, came out of my mouth like a broken record. My mantra did not work.

I found myself on my knees. My dog looked at me and knew what was ahead. Tears streamed down my cheeks. Interlacing my fingers I bowed my head, “Dear God. Help. Help me manage all this.” After a few minutes of “sob-fest”, I sat there looking outside. It felt good to take a breather. Real good. So I gave myself a time-out. My praying hands unfolded and went to the kitchen to get my hands busy. A deep breath filled my lungs as I closed my eyes to envision my ‘go-to’ recipe… Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Wonder Twins

As my hands got busy, my tangled world loosened up just enough to welcome in some wandering. A heaping cup of flour, a pinch of salt, and a few hardy shakes of cinnamon were ready to be mixed. The beaters spun. My brain zoned in on the mesmerizing hand mixer. The hum of the beaters, the swirl of the dough, and the smell of sweetness filled my senses. Then it was as if time clicked into slo-mo. Thunk-a, thunk-a, thunk-a. Each beater spun with poise. Each beater focused on the job. Together they mixed the ingredients with accuracy. I watched them work. Thunk-a, thunk-a, thunk-a. Wait for a second…I watched them work. All of a sudden I was back in the Hall of Justice! This time I wasn’t looking to utilize the powers of Wonder Woman, but of the Wonder TWINS!

My “Wonder Woman Activate” affirmation was wrong. I laughed out loud about my realization of my confusion. Let’s try this: “Wonder TWINS Activate!”

I quickly found a picture online of the Wonder Twins. Oh my gosh! Remember Gleek the monkey? Zan and Jayna’s purple bodysuits? Whoa…I have Jayna’s same haircut. Ba ha ha ha!

While cleaning the cookie dough bowl…with my finger…I still laughed about the superhero mix-up. As I detached the infamous dough-draped beaters my thoughts went back to my reality. What was I trying to prove with this juggling of hats? That I could do it all? That I could be that strong woman who holds everything together?

A pride blow to the gut

For one last lick, I swiped my finger in the umbrella of the beater. As I was enjoying the flavors I felt a brick hit my stomach, not because of the raw cookie dough, but because I understood my madness.

I was trying to achieve all these things to prove to myself and others that I could do it all. And do it…all…by…myself. Why?

It was at that moment I realized there was a little something telling me what to do…i. The very letter that is at the center of pride, anxiety, and exist! Pride was getting in my way. Anxiety was stealing my joy. To just ‘exist’ was sabotaging my goals. This letter I was holding me BACK!

It wasn’t the tasks I needed to manage; it was my motive that needed attention.

What did I do next? Five things that made a difference in pride and stress.

  1. I asked God for clarity and perspective.
  2. I found my Wonder Twin, my spouse. And called on him when needed. This wasn’t a competition.
  3. Took things one small step at a time, step, by step, by step.
  4. Made time to hang with my family and put aside the “I”.
  5. Gave myself permission to take a time-out every once in a while and baked cookies.

All n All

For the remainder of the month, my Wonder Twin and I worked together.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work…” Ecclesiastes 4:9

That December taught me something unexpected; my real superpower came from putting the “I” aside.

The cookies I baked that day didn’t last long. I made another batch that coming weekend. Who knew cookie dough would be so powerful?

gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe

Easy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free chocolate chip cookies
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chocolate, cookies, dairy-free, gluten-free, low-fat, nut-free, soy-free
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 11 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes
Servings 10 cookies
Calories 145kcal
Cost $3.00 for batch


  • Glass mixing bowl
  • Handmixer
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Cookie sheet
  • Parchment Paper
  • Wooden spoon


  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil do not melt
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar do not pack down
  • 1/4 cup Cane Sugar
  • 1 egg Prefer organic egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 cup King Arthur's Gluten-Free Baking Mix Baking mix. Use a heaping cup.
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips Mini These are allergy-free, read package.


  • Preheat oven to 370. Tear a sheet of parchment paper and put it over the cookie sheet.
  • Add the coconut oil, brown sugar, and cane sugar to glass mixing bowl and mix with hand mixer until mixed together
  • Add egg, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar. Mix until together
  • In a separate bowl, add a heaping cup of King Arthur's Gluten-Free Baking Mix, salt, and cinnamon. Hand mix with a fork.
  • Gradually combine both bowls while mixing with the hand mixer. Mix until all together.
  • Fold in Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips Mini with a wooden spoon.
  • Scoop dollops of dough about the size of the wooden spoon and place on the cookie sheet. Allow 1-2 inches between dollops.
  • Place the cookie sheet in the oven and set the timer for 11 minutes.
  • While cookies are baking, clean-up the dishes. Please don't eat raw cookie dough due to the egg. We don't need tummy aches.
  • When cookies are done, slowly transfer them to a cooling rack if you have one. Otherwise, remove the cookies from the cookie sheet in a minute.
    gluten-free chocolate chip cookies


Calorie count is a guesstimate for one cookie when baked. It depends on the size of the cookie. Also the cost of the batch of cookies is also an estimate.

My favorite baking tools and ingredients

Here are some of the ingredients I use for my cookie recipe. Don’t forget to use a glass mixing bowl! Plastic bowls tend to add unwanted flavors to the cookie dough, plus there are chances of chemicals or plastic leaching into your delicious cookies. I use these, you can find them on Amazon.

Click the picture to head to Amazon.

Click on the picture to buy on Amazon.

Best allergen-free chocolate chips on the market! Get yours on Amazon.

Before you go, check out these other great posts!

How to Reduce Stress in Your Life: 10 Breakthrough Tips

How to Get Motivated: 4 Critical Tips to Start Anything

9 Easy Ways to Learn More about Yourself

5 Important Ways to Measure Success Without Numbers

The BEST Gluten-Free Granola Bars EVER!

Food Combining Does What? Manage stomach acid now!

More recipes!

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By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

How to Start Volunteering: 4 Tips to Succeed

How to Start Volunteering: 4 Tips to Succeed

Have you wondered how to start volunteering? I’ve got 4 great tips to help you succeed with your helping hand. But first, let’s reminisce. Have you caught yourself saying, “Oh, someone else will do it.”? We all know volunteering is essential for our charities, religious organizations, pancake breakfasts, environmental cleanups, and schools to name a few. And we all know we SHOULD volunteer for something, right? But why at times (not all the time) do we see volunteering as a daunting task?

how to start volunteering

Here’s an interesting volunteering scenario

Let’s say you’re at…a magic show. The stage backdrop is black, the fog machine creates mystery, and the magician stands with a power pose and says, “I need a volunteer!” Eyebrows raise. Hands pop up. Voices chirp, ‘pick me, pick me’!

Let’s say you’re at…church. The stage backdrop is black, the fog machine softens the ambiance, and the Pastor stands with a power pose and says, “I need volunteers”. No one moves, some eyeballs roll, and then…there’s a cough.

A little different isn’t it? Many people use the excuse of time. “I don’t have time”. I’ve used it, I’m guilty. But is that really the case? I wish it was…but if there’s something you REALLY want to do, you’ll make time for it. So what gives? Let’s start with the logical answer: Interest. If you’re not attracted to the task at hand; you’re not going to raise your hand for it.

three musketeers how to start volunteering moto

Tip #1: Just say ‘No’?

Just say no. We don’t want to volunteer to create stress! Well, friends, this is when you can practice it. Say what? I’m not encouraging you to NOT volunteer for stuff; I’m cheering you on to volunteer for stuff you ENJOY. Let me explain: if you don’t like the outdoors, then don’t volunteer to plant trees. If you aren’t a toddler-time kind of person, then don’t volunteer in the kid’s wing. If you hate the smell of pancakes, then don’t volunteer at the pancake breakfast. It’s okay! They don’t want you there. No one likes a grumpy volunteer or worse yet to hear how much you hated it.

When you enjoy a task at hand you do a better job, you have fun, and you make in difference in more ways than one. Now that’s rocket science, people. Having an interest in what you’re giving your time and attention to creates joy. BUT WAIT, there’s an exception to this ‘no’ thing: if you don’t know if you’ll like it, then totally do it! What a great way to test it out.

Tip #2: Get to the volunteer destination

Do you ever say, ‘when I’m there, I’m good”? I have had dozens of experiences where I didn’t want to go but was grateful after I got there. But even when I’m volunteering for something I know I’ll enjoy, I STILL have to make an effort to hurdle the couch, forgo the beach, and ignore the ‘to-do’ list. How to fix this obstacle? Think about the end first. Ask yourself, “How am I going to feel when I’m done?” I bet you will have more courage and confidence! Then focus on that.

Another way to look at it is to put yourself in the receiver’s shoes and ask yourself if you were them, how would you want to be treated? Would you like someone to not help you because they were into their Netflix series?

Proverbs 31:25

Tip #3: But I’ll be all alone…

I have a hard time pampering this one because I’m an advocate for embarking on the unknown without knowing anyone. Why? Because you learn a tremendous amount about your character when alone. Questions like ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Who do I want to become?’ get an opportunity to plant a seed in you. It’s like searching for a piece of a puzzle. You know the piece is somewhere on the table; the hard part is finding it. But when you do find it, a small flutter happens and you get to see a little bit more of the big picture. So here it goes friends, “Suck it up and go.” Who cares if you go solo, there are people there in the same boat.

To help you out here is a website to get your juices flowing about volunteering:

Tip #4: Go in with the right attitude

Have fun. Remember who you’re working for, the Big Man upstairs. Help with a smile on your face. Nothing is worse than seeing someone help you in disgust. How does that make you feel when a grouchy person is helping you? I just wanted to remind you of that.

Also, this is super important. In knowing how to start volunteering you must go in without expecting a lot in return, you may not even get a thank you, so prepare yourself for that. They are grateful, but they might not know how to show it or say thank you.

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4 reasons why volunteering is so important

There are several reasons with a bunch of explanations behind them, let’s check some out:

  • Assist those who need it…the less fortunate, the disabled, the elderly, and the young.
  • Create connections. Network.
  • Experience wellness. Studies have shown that volunteering helps boost self-confidence, and personal satisfaction, and even helps combat anxiety.
  • Career enhancement. Want to try a new career path before jumping headfirst? Volunteering gives you a taste without any waste. It’s a way to get your foot in the door.

Everyone deserves a smile, a thank you, and a helping hand. Seeing appreciation from the faces of the people I help is priceless and brings wealth to my heart. Be a success, and challenge yourself to help one person in the next seven days.

Wrapping up how to start volunteering

To sum up, how to start volunteering, you just gotta start somewhere. Without volunteers we DO get divided, we do fall. Think about those events at church, school, or the community center. It’s the volunteers who are the real Musketeers. Next time you hear the word ‘volunteer’, stay tuned to your instincts and pay attention to what you enjoy. Say ‘no’ when you need to and ‘yes’ when you want to. You’ll make an impact on not only the people you’re serving but on the bigger picture.

Before you go, check out these other great posts:

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By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

How To Be Creative: Step 1

How To Be Creative: Step 1

If you want to know how to be more creative it starts with understanding the purpose of creativity. How to be creative is meant to be yourself. Taping into our God-given talents and abilities helps us naturally be creative. A big part of how to be creative is permitting yourself to let go of the world and unlock the abilities God gave you. Doing that can be scary, however, getting the right frame of mind might help ease you into your creative side. Holley Gerth, the Christian author, said it perfectly, “Your dream is a gift God gives you. What you make of it is your gift to Him.” This involves creativity!

Your dream is a gift God gives you. What you make of it is your gift to Him. Holley Gerth
how to be creative

Don’t get discouraged in how to be creative

I’ll never forget when I was 10 years old; I reached for the flour in an overhead cupboard. My fingertips were millimeters away from the canister. One… more… bit… CRASH! I was successful in getting the flour down, but it wasn’t in the canister. I stood there and sulked as my older sister laughed at me and called me “Casper”. Creativity can get messy.

Back then my dream was to become a baker. I loved baking cookies, muffins, and quick breads. Mixing simple ingredients with my signature twist was so fun. Unfortunately, it’s harder for me to bake these days. Since I’ve gone gluten-free it makes it more challenging to bake, but I still try and experiment with what I have. 🙂 My baking dream might have gotten messy with my diet restrictions but it hasn’t terminated my need to create.

How to know if you’re being creative

One way to know when you are using your creative side is when you lose track of time. It’s those moments in between clock numbers when you truly feel alive. Whether it’s cookies, a garden, a writing piece, or simply drawing a picture on your child’s lunch sack. It’s gratifying to see what your creativity can create.

Why creativity is important: don’t miss this!

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Creativity isn’t just for fun. Creative thinking can solve problems, help us perform better at our jobs, help with depression, and help make a difference in people’s lives. Look at music, art, dance, and literature… what are those talents trying to do? Matthew Barnet has a great answer from his book, The Cause Within You.

He says, “Fulfilled artists do not paint or sculpt for the sake of creating more art. They do it to move people and challenge them to see the world differently. “

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The scary part about creativity

From they say our creativity fades away when we don’t use it. As in the Bible, it says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything…” Matthew 5:13. (NIV)

In our busy lives, it’s important to take a time out to be creative; and to take a small step in becoming the unique person we were intended to be not just for ourselves, but for the sake of others. More importantly, using our creativity is an excellent way to love God! He gave you the ability and talent, use it to give thanks to Him.

All in all

The creativity flame still glows in us. Feed the fire within. There is no better time to get our hands busy; our minds will love it, our hearts will feel good, and we may spark something in someone’s minutes.

Before you go, check out these other great posts:

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By CT Copyright © 2016 Do More Than Exist All Rights Reserved.

How to Comfort People: 6 Ways

How to Comfort People: 6 Ways

How to comfort people can be confusing, so much so, that we end up doing nothing. Doing nothing isn’t the answer. We weren’t put on this planet to go through hardship alone. Let’s pull up our bootstraps, and open our hearts and our arms for those who need to lean on someone. Learn my 6 simple ways to know how to comfort hurting people.

how to comfort people

Step #1 with how to comfort people: awareness

I admire people who can share openly what’s going on in their lives; I’m not talking about people boasting about themselves, I’m talking about people who genuinely reach out for help. Why? Because it makes me feel human and gives me a chance to help in some way or form.

It takes courage, confidence, and bravery to open up and expose our hearts to the world. As I said earlier, we weren’t made to go through storms alone, so why do we try to keep it quiet and pretend everything is “fine”? Pretending is going to help people heal; it’s just going to cause more issues down the road.

healing verses from Bible
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When a friend needs comfort online

Recently, an old high school classmate of mine was going through a difficult situation. She had a choice; keep it to herself or share it. She chose to share it on social media, not for sympathy or attention, but because she needed help getting through the storm. I admire her for putting her stuff out there, especially on social media where 90% of the posts are only good things that happen in people’s lives.

My heart went out to her and her family. I knew I wanted to respond but I didn’t know what to say so I thought about it and responded to her the next day. She felt alone, you could read it even though she didn’t say it. And that struck a chord in me. Whether it was emotions, hormones, the Holy Spirit, or a soul connection, I started weeping for her broken and confused heart.

I thought back to my storm I endured years ago in my personal life, and how alone I felt. From experience, I knew the best thing I could do for her was to reach out to her, pray for her, and give her a promise that I would. Prayer does change things, and just knowing that other people are praying for you helps you put more trust and confidence in the Lord.

I believe my friend posting the updates about her situation was meant to not only keep everyone informed but for her to know who was sitting by her.

Sometimes you have to just exist with someone to do more.
how to comfort people

When a neighbor needs a little comfort

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“As soon as you start thinking about the needs and burdens of others, and what you can do to alleviate them, or how you can bless and build up others, you begin to establish a new identity for yourself – your true identity.” –Matthew Barnett, The Cause Within You.

A while back I was talking with my neighbor. It started as a friendly wave across the street, then she started walking toward me. I was in a hurry but knew I had to adjust my plans. She had to get a load off her shoulders and I understood the importance of a listening ear. She needed comfort in knowing someone would listen to her.

After she was finished she looked exhausted. Knowing what to say to comfort her was hard. I thought about suggesting ideas for solutions, but she didn’t ask for a solution so I just listened and told her I was sorry she was going through all of this. She didn’t want advice, she just wanted to be heard.

6 ideas to comfort hurting people:

1. Visit them

2. Send them a card with a handwritten note in the mail.

3. Pray for them.

4. Call them on the phone instead of texting.

5. Let them know you’re thinking about them.

6. Listen to them. Ask them questions. Do not make it about you.

couple walking on beach how to comfort people

Step #2: put yourself in their shoes

The next morning I tried to put myself in my neighbor’s shoes and asked myself if I were feeling down, what would make me feel a little bit better? This is so incredibly important and powerful. You can live with this perspective with whomever you encounter throughout your day.

Buying something for my neighbor is what I wanted to do. A gift in delicate situations doesn’t have to be big or super expensive, it’s to bring them comfort and to remind them that people are thinking of them. On this particular day, I didn’t have any flowers in my garden, so I went to the store and picked out all sorts of colorful carnations. They are inexpensive but have a lot to say. So if you’re on a budget go for the carnations.

When I got home, I arranged the flowers in a mason jar and went over to her house. A soft knock on her door was all I did and she opened it immediately. I handed her the flowers and said, “Just thought you could use these.” No other words were spoken, yet her eyes got glossy. She kindly said thank you and I left.

People with cancer

Listen up. My bestie recently was diagnosed with cancer. She is going through chemo and has unfortunately lost all her hair. I seriously admire her good spirit about all this. She is one of the happiest people I know, no matter what. However, what she found discouraging was that people would look at her weird. People she knew wouldn’t approach her and say “Hi” or “How are you doing?”. I know it’s hard to know what to say to someone going through cancer, but something is better than nothing.

People who are going through cancer already are having a tough time, ignoring them or talking about them behind their backs isn’t going to make them feel any better, it’s just the opposite. Don’t you think they have enough going on? Do more than exist. Love them as if they were part of your family because when push comes to shove, they are your family. Treat them how you would like to be treated if you were going through what they were going through.

Wrapping up how to comfort people

Comforting people doesn’t have to be awkward, it doesn’t need to be confusing, or worse ignored. The tough stuff is tough. Remember the two steps: be aware of what’s going on, and put yourself in their shoes. When you know the person well, you will know exactly what to do. Yet, if it’s an acquaintance, a simple jester of a card, flowers, or even a heart emoji will do. Keep your ears on them, shut your mouth, and allow them to process and heal in their own time.

Before you go, check out these other great posts:

9 Comforting Gift Ideas to Warm the Body & Soul

How to Brighten a Room: 8 Simple Steps

How to Manage Depression: 3 Surprising Ways

The #1 Way to Simplify Your Life for Good!

How Cookie Dough Gave Me Super Powers

Claim Your Life Back: 7 Steps to Fight Spiritual Warfare

How to Start Volunteering: 4 Tips to Succeed

Do More Than Exist Stay Connected

By CT Copyright © 2016 Do More Than Exist All Rights Reserved.

8 Amazing Children’s Books for 4-year-olds

8 Amazing Children’s Books for 4-year-olds

What are some of the best children’s books for 4-year-olds? Storytime gives us parents, neighbors, or grandparents an intimate time to share an adventure with children. Below you’ll find a list of happy healthy kid-approved children’s books for 4-year-olds or school-aged children. Reading picture books aloud with kids brings more to the story. There are numerous studies about the benefits of reading with kids. It’s a great time to love others, have a laugh, or ignite a conversation.

Best Children's books for 4 year olds

Benefits to storytime

PBS Kids recommends starting early with storytime. To read often, read the pictures, and to take a minute and talk about the story, to ask each other questions about it. They go on to say, “The more words that are in a child’s language world, the more words they will learn, and the stronger their language skills are when they reach kindergarten, the more prepared they are to be able to read, and the better they read, the more likely they will graduate from high school” 

From they say reading also helps with cognitive development, improves language skills, serves as a platform for academic success, creates a special bond, improves imagination and creativity, plus increases concentration.

What to read?

Not all picture books are the same. I’ve read hundreds of books and some books made one eyebrow go up. Toddlers want to giggle, they want happy stories, and they want the reader to be goofy. Let’s face it, we all want that! The stories below are picked as the best based on four criteria: the story, ease of reading, how the words flow, and most importantly, PLOT! I’ve done the homework for you on the best picture books for kids.

These are some of my favorite books I’ve read aloud to my son when he was little. Snuggle up with your kiddos and grab a picture book that will make them smile and feel good.

8 Best Children’s Books for 4-year-olds

Ink by Christy Troy
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Ink by Christy Troy (that’s me). After reading hundreds of children’s picture books, I studied up and wrote one too. Ink, a retractable pen, wants to be the favorite pen that sits in the shirt pocket. He knows how to get there, but he has a serious problem…he can’t write. Will the pen pals help him? Will Ink become the favorite pen? Hold on to your pen caps as Ink takes you on a journey that brings you a giggle and a surprise ending. When you go to Ink’s page you get free activity pages, just download and play!

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

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Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld is one of my favorite books to read to kids. I love the cadence and beat of the rhymes. Sherri and Tom did a great job with the word choice and illustrations. It is clever and very cute. Any child will love the imagination of trucks needing to sleep too. I just had to have my copy. You can get it on Amazon here. It comes in glow-in-the-dark! This is also a great gift to any truck lover.

Salad Pie

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Salad Pie by Wendy BooydeGraaff is a fantastic book to ignite imagination for outside play. Wendy is a colleague of mine. She and I were in a children’s book-writing group together. She did a great job making you feel like a kid again playing on the playground. The illustrations by Bryan Langdo capture the beauty and emotion of playing outside. This adorable story makes me, as an adult, even go outside and make salad pie! Nice job Wendy and Bryan.

When a Dragon Moves In

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When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore illustrated by Howard McWilliam brings me back to my days as a kid on the beach in Florida. My dad and I used to build amazing sandcastles, but we never thought a dragon would move in. I love this story. The humor is cute and the pictures are engaging. The dragon kind of reminds me of a dog…so funny. This is one for the library, especially if you want to escape to the beach!

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The Apple Pie Tree

The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall illustrated by Shari Halpern is a classic. I read this book over and over with my son when he was a tot. It’s educational, it’s easy to read, and you learn how to make a pie! This is a great book to help our kiddos recognize words. And learn how an apple grows through the seasons. A keeper for the home library, and fun to read during apple season!

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More rhyming books

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Dig Dogs Dig by James Horvath is a construction lover’s gem. My son loved to play with construction trucks in the sand and gravel patch we made him. He’d make the noises with his mouth and have them talk. So cute! This book has a great rhythmic cadence. It’s fun to read and has a fun story. Plus there are dogs in it! Great job James on writing and illustrating. A keeper in our house.

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Rumble in the Jungle by Giles Andreae illustrated by David Wojtowycz is a super fun book to read. We read it so many times that our book cover is getting tattered. We learn about all sorts of jungle animals and what their jungle job is. The pictures are colorful and cute. You feel good after reading the rhythm of this book. Bravo!

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My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk is a great book for entertainment. With its catchy rhymes and engaging pictures, you’re sure to get a laugh. Storytime has a whole new meaning…giggle time. This is another book of ours that has had a workout. Nice job guys!

Wrapping it up

Every year more and more picture books come into print. Not all picture books are the same, be sure to look for well-written stories, have a pivotal point, and have a happy ending. Remember, I have read hundreds of children’s books and there are a lot of bad ones…so take note of the good ones and purchase them for your library or baby shower gifts.

Before you go, check out these other great posts:

The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt (kids 8-13 yrs. old)

How to have a happy family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

Kid Activities at Home: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now!

7 Firefly Facts & How to Care for Fireflies

4 Planting Tree Tips + Earth Day & Arbor Day Activities

Do More Than Exist Stay Connected

13 Amazing Family Games with Teens Worth Playing

13 Amazing Family Games with Teens Worth Playing

The first family games date back to Egypt in 3100 BC. That’s right, BC “Before Christ”. It was the game of Senet that set the stage for board games. Today stores are filled with an overwhelming display of games. Let me save you some time and money, the best place to find amazing board games is in your parent’s closet. And secondly, the trick to making family games fun is to find the right game the whole family can enjoy, not just an 8-year-old.

13 family games worth playing

I’ve got a list of 13 family games with teens that are worth the time and money. Believe me, we have one child, so when it comes to games, we parents want to like it too. However, I wouldn’t advise ‘borrowing’ your parent’s games, those games and the memories they hold are theirs, so keep the games in their closet. It’s time to get your own games and create tattered box memories with them.  

What makes a game fun?

First of all, I’m not talking about games about poop or getting whip cream in my face. The toy companies certainly don’t make games like they used to. The family games that make the top of the pile are games that require skill, cognitive skills, and where we’ll learn something like strategy. They are games with a little history.

With that said, the games listed below are for ages 8+ for the most part. Keep Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, and Hi Ho Cherry-O for your younger crowd. In fact, those are the best choices anyway for that age range.

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The 13 best family games with teens

If your game closet is looking empty, let me remind you of the top 13 picks for family games with teens. Some of these games you might have played as a kid and forgotten about them, I sure did. Note: these games are listed in alphabetical order.

1. Battleship (2-player)

Battleship involves strategy, it also involves reading your player. Reading your player in a poker kind of way, did their eyebrows go up when you got close to their aircraft carrier? Keep your eyes peeled. You can get it on Amazon.

History: Battleship goes back to World War I by using a pencil and paper to play the game. In 1967 Milton Bradley came out with the plastic board version.

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2. Catan

I personally have not played Catan yet! But I will be getting it soon. This game has rave reviews. It’s about developing your own civilizations. This brings you back in history a bit. I hear it’s easy to learn how to play, but difficult to master. I’m getting this one! Check it out on Amazon.

History: Catan was created in 1995 in Germany.

3. Chess (2-player)

This too gets lost in the game pile. We recently taught our son the game of Chess and he beats me every time! Chess requires strategy and getting to know your opponent. Again, reading the player and getting in their head to figure their next move is key.

History: Chess goes back to close to 1500 years! Whoa. It originated in northern India. For more info check out

The game of clue

4. Clue

This game never gets old. Clue is best played with more than two people. Put some mystery in your game night with Clue. Amazon price.

History: This game goes back to the UK air raids of World War II in 1943. When Anthony Pratt and his wife were stuck inside during the nightly air-raids they invented this game.

5. Connect Four (2-player)

I love Connect Four. My son and I have an ongoing Connect Four title. Like the WWE title, ours is Connect Four. This game is all about strategy. We play the best of three games. History: It’s been around since 1974.

6. Gin Rummy (cards, 2-player)

A classic card game that never gets old. You can find how to play here. Plus many other games at Bicycle. History: This dates back to 1909.

7. Monopoly

I don’t think I need to say much about this iconic game. Monopoly and I have a love/hate relationship. If you want to play a game for hours or even days, this is it! This is a great family game to play with teens. However, learning about strategy and money radiates from this game. Head to Amazon to get a fresh game.

History: The original name of Monopoly was The Landlord’s Game. It was designed by Elizabeth Magie in 1902 and patented in 1904.

8. Operation

Who doesn’t like a little zap and lights? Operation is as close to blood and guts you’re going to get in my family games list. It takes about 15 minutes to play. If you have shaky hands, this is not your game. I suggest using your reading glasses for this one. History: This game has been in circulation since 1964.

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9. Pay Day

Move over Monopoly, yes I did just say that. Pay Day has become one of our family favorites. Unlike land in Monopoly, you learn about money, taking risks, debt, and did I mention it’s a quicker game? You can play as many months as you’d like. History: It was first created in 1974.  Yep, Amazon has it.

10. Jenga

Jenga is like a cross between a cardhouse and pick-up sticks…sort of. Any age can play this game. And it certainly comes in all sizes. It’s a great game to break the ice. History: created by Leslie Scott in the early 1970’s. Jenga means “to build” in Swahili.

Family Game Night

My family game-night memories

Family games with teens was actually quite fun! Family game night is a vivid memory for me. My dad wanted to take one night a week to hold a family game night. At first, when my sisters and I were young we got into it, but as we got older the more we grumbled. I remember a time when my dad announced that it was Family game night and we all rolled our eyes and moaned. His stern response was, “You’re going to play a game and you’re going to have fun!” Ha ha ha! I’ve used that response in my family. But it’s those game nights that formed a special yet goofy bond between our family…even when we didn’t want to play, we still had fun.

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11. Skip-bo (cards)

We dug Skip-bo out recently. In fact, I forgot how to play and had to have one of my son’s buddies re-teach me. Since then, we have been playing almost every night. Yes, it’s true. We play a quick 10-card stack of Skipbo. I’m happy to say I beat them all last night with my secret strategy!

History: Skip-bo first came alive in 1967 thanks to Minnie Hazel “Skip” Bowman.

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12. Ticket to Ride

Once again, I have not played Ticket to Ride but looks awesome. It involves a train adventure in which players collect and play matching cards to claim railway routes through the United States. This game has gotten awards. The youngest game on the list came into being in 2003. Find it on Amazon.

13. Yahtzee

This is a great game of chance. If you don’t mind a little noise and love strategy, Yahtzee is fun for everyone. I’ve even seen it in giant size for camping!

History: The history of this game is a bit confusing. Some say it dates back to 1938. Others say it was essentially invented on a yacht, hence, “Yahtzee” by a wealthy Canadian couple.  

Family games with teens boils down to memories

Okay, that does it for my brief review of family games with teens. You might have played these games at your home when you were growing up. I hope I took you back to some great memories. But now it’s time to make amazing family game memories with your kids.

To get any of the games listed above, simply click on the links. The links will take you to Amazon.

Before you go check out these other great posts:

How to Have a Happy Family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

Kid Activities at Home: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now!

How to start Volunteering: 4 Tips to Succeed

The BEST Gluten-Free Granola Bars EVER!

8 Best Children’s Books for Four-Year-Olds

Do More Than Exist Stay Connected

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved

Cleaning the House: 5 Simple Factors to Understand

Cleaning the House: 5 Simple Factors to Understand

Cleaning the house has been one of the most toxic yet healthy tasks in life. Sure we could pay someone else to do it but stay humble friend. Living in a clean house is not just healthy for our bodies but for our psyche. Learn how to make cleaning less stressful by understanding 5 key factors.

how to clean the house, 5 factors to understand

There have been numerous times my husband has suggested hiring someone to clean our house. Each time he brings it up three reasons keep me from saying yes:

1. I would still clean the house before they came to clean!

2. It’s hard to find a good cleaner, let alone one you can trust.

3. It’s one more thing to add to the budget.

Someday I will probably get there, but I honestly don’t have any excuses for why I can’t clean my own house. If you’re like me, listen up to loosen up about cleaning the house.

Why cleaning the house matters

First off, living in a clean home does a body and mind good. When we don’t dust or vacuum as often as we should, dust mites build up and can lead to allergies. Not to mention lingering smells and sticky surfaces. It’s like a welcome mat for various germs and bugs with large bodies and little legs…that will motivate me to clean!

Like mowing the lawn, cleaning provides that same kind of instant gratification. Accomplishing a clean house is a huge win, especially if you put your sweat into it. Don’t let pride get in the way of cleaning. Everyone should clean. Some top CEOs are known to clean a restaurant bathroom.

When I’m cleaning I like to think of all the money I’m saving from paying someone to do it, not to mention all the calories I just burned! Cleaning the house has benefits, two of which are weight loss and money management.

5 factors to determine how often I clean

I’m not a deep cleaner every time I clean my house. Deep cleaning and the number of times to clean will depend on your situation. I’ve found there are five factors to determine how often to clean your house.


If you have a shedding dog or other messy pet, cleaning is probably going to happen more often. To easily clean fur off of furniture, use a dryer sheet, rubber gloves, or a lint brush.

Best Children's books for 4 year olds


The number of kids determines how often to clean. With kids, you must consider their ages. Starting a child out at 5 years old with an easy cleaning chore helps them understand you’re not their servant. The older they get the more they should help period.  



If your husband’s allergies flare up, dusting and vacuuming will be more frequent. When my husband sneezes in the morning, I know it’s time to clean. My son has the same issue. I’m getting a lot of miles on my vacuum!


Where you live plays a factor in how often you clean the house. Do you live in a dusty field, near a construction site, or a pollen-invested forest? Again, in these instances, allergies could attack.


And lastly, don’t forget about your personality. Ask yourself these questions: Are you a ‘Laidback Jack’ or an ‘Anal Andy’? Do you like to do things yourself or are you a delegator? What about how you were taught? How often are you entertaining? Understand who you are and how you want to move forward.

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All in all

When it comes to cleaning the house, get in the right frame of mind. Schedule a cleaning day and make sure your kids or husband understand what cleaning is and what their responsibilities are. Remember your cleaning schedule depends on where you live, who lives with you, and how you’re living!

Before you go check out these amazing posts:

How to Get Motivated: 4 Critical Tips to Start Anything

5 Best Pieces of Advice for How to Simplify My Life

Kid Activities at Home: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now!

How To Be Less Busy: #1 Mistake People Make

How to Brighten a Room: 8 Amazing Tips!

Do More Than Exist Stay Connected

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

16 Road Trip Essentials to Simplify Your Trips

16 Road Trip Essentials to Simplify Your Trips

Road trip essentials make the journey not only easier but more fun. What items are considered essentials? When it comes to road trips there are two things that make it great: being prepared and memories. I like to think of it as if I were on the road and got stuck, would I have all I need to get by.

road trip three people in car

Whether we’re going to Florida for Spring Break, heading to a campground across multiple states, or simply hopping in the car en route to the nearest metropolis, I’ve got a list you’re going to want to check…literally, check.

If you’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of cat this post is not for you. But if you enjoy being prepared, but not overly prepared, this is the post you’ll want to pin or better yet download my Independent Road Trip Check List. For more great free downloads, sign into my Freebies!

Road Trip Essentials

1. Car Insurance and Registration

Check to make sure your car insurance and registration are current. There is nothing worse than getting pulled over in another State and you can’t find your registration or you happen to see that it expired. This happened to us. Ouch.

2. Sunglasses

Sunglasses! Make sure you have a pair of sunglasses for everybody in the vehicle. Not sure your dog needs them, but everyone else should have their own pair.

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3. Phone charger or USB Cord

Phone Charger/USB Cord. Now that paper maps are on the way out, and GPS on our phones are an essential app, make sure you don’t run out of phone battery. Need a USB cord? Check out this one from Amazon.

4. Umbrella

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Umbrella. Simple, yet super important, especially if you’re changing a tire in the rain. Been there, done that.

5. Blanket, but not just any blanket.

Blanket. I always have a blanket in my car, specifically a Mexican blanket because they are super warm and durable. Not only it is there for emergency slide-offs, but the dog can sit on it, the kid and use it, or I can sit on it.

6. Water.

Water. When we road trip, we simply buy water bottles at the grocery store. It’s so much cheaper and easier to hand someone a water bottle when they need it.

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7. Hand Sanitizer and Extra Face-Masks

Hand sanitizer and extra face masks. These two items are not only essential during virus outbreaks, but they help us tremendously in the Rest Stop bathrooms. The mask helps with blocking the smell, and the sanitizers give us a little extra germ protection. Hey, I found these awesome disposable black masks on Amazon.

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8. Emergency Kit

Roadside Emergency Kit that includes Jumper cables and First Aid Kit. There is a kit that is easy to use. You can check it out here.

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9. Portable Air-compressor

Portable air compressor. I love this thing. Not only does it help with tire pressure, but if you’re camping it’s great for basketballs, air mattresses, and beach floats. This has been so handy on the road and off! A portable air compressor is the way to go. No more searching for air!

10. Towel. Don’t use your blanket.

Towel. Unlike the blanket, the towel is great for unexpected spills or a quick dry-off running through the rain…when you don’t want to bother with your umbrella. It’s also great for Fido to sit on.

11. Tissue.

Tissue. I can’t count the number of times I’m using a tissue to blow my nose. Make sure you get some before you leave the house. Napkins or even a roll of toilet paper works well too. Another good one to add here is butt wipes.

12. Snacks.

Snacks. This is essential. Snacks save you money and they save you from gorging on your next meal. Some great road trip snacks include trail mix, grapes, cereal mix, popcorn, meat sticks, or celery sticks.

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13. Paper and Pen.

Paper and pencil/pen. As a passenger, I’m always thinking of my to-do list or my next great idea. Have paper and pen ready to jot down your thoughts.

14. Games!

Road Trip games. If you have kiddos and don’t want them to get tech-neck, grab a few games. Of course, the Alphabet game is super fun for everyone. There are three versions. The classic version is to find the letter of the alphabet in any form. The second is more challenging, find a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet…good luck on Q and Z. And the last version is to find an object that starts with the letter…this is super hard. Don’t forget to add Corn on Cob Song Fun to the trip!

15. Snow Scraper and Mini Shovel (weather dependent).

Depending on where you are going, you better throw in a snow scraper, a mini snow shovel, and a small bag of kitty litter. When I was in college and traveling out to Colorado, I always had my portable mini snow shovel in my trunk, and I used it! You never know when you’re going to hit black ice and end up in a snowbank or ditch. Mini snow shovels work a lot better than your hands!

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Get it at Amazon

16. Weapons!

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Weapons. Yep. I said it. At least carry a pocketknife or pepper spray, heck, get a taser. A pocket knife is good to have on hand for lots of reasons. Pepper spray buys you some time, as does a taser. As for handguns, it depends on your opinion of them, where you’re going, knowing what States allow them, having your permit, and understanding the safety of them. Be smart, not stupid

All in all.

That does it! It sounds like a lot but it isn’t really. Most of the stuff is already in your vehicle. It’s always best to be prepared, rather than getting stuck and depending on some creepy guy. The best advice I have to offer any road tripper is to simply be aware of what’s going on around you. Pay attention to the road, know what’s happening around you when you make a rest stop, and be safe. Use that head of yours at all times!

Road trip checklist

Be sure to download my free Independent Road Trip Checklist, for more great (and free) downloads join my e-mail list and you’ll have access to all my freebies! Get access to my Freebies here.

Before you go, check out these other great posts:

How to Make Camping Comfortable

The BEST Homemade Granola Bars EVER!

The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt (kids 8-13 yrs. old)

Do More Than Exist Stay Connected

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt (kids 8-13+ yrs. old)

The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt (kids 8-13+ yrs. old)

Scavenger hunt to the rescue! Do your kids have a lot of time on their hands? Are your tweens feeling dumpy and bored? I have a fun low-cost solution for you! My scavenger hunt takes at least three hours to complete. Can you hear the angels sing? This adventure keeps the kids busy and the tweens having fun! This isn’t your average scavenger hunt. You may find yourself and even your teenager wanting to participate.

Scavenger Hunt
Download it today! Click the picture or head to Freebies.

Not your typical scavenger hunt!

This hunt is like no other. First off, it’s not just a list of things to find. It involves reading, drawing, exercise, strategy, skill, teamwork, creativity, and cognitive thinking.  Seriously the kids loved it. They were outside and having fun. And strangely they got along! As a parent, it was gratifying to watch how much joy was happening to the kids. A memory for sure!

Another fun difference from other scavenger hunts is that it tells a little story. The story starts out with Larry who is lost and needs to find his way home. He has to go through the first three challenges to unlock his map, materials, and list. Then the rest of the challenges help him find his way home. He gets hungry on the way, wants to find presents to bring home, and needs to spend the night. And the most exciting part of all is that he needs to create a flying vessel to get home!

outdoor activity kit
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Who is Larry?

Larry is one of my son’s stuffed animals. I just grabbed a small one that would be suitable for flight. You can use an egg…this would be interesting…or a water balloon for that matter, or a cardboard cutout. Essentially, Larry can be anything you want. However, with the stuffed animal, I found it made the hunt more personal and “real”. They really had fun with it.

Who is this scavenger hunt for?

This challenge is for 8 – 13-year-olds. Yes, an activity for tweens too! Younger kids can be helpers on some of the challenges that are too hard, obviously, that is up to you. You could make adjustments to cater to younger kids. This is a definite fun tween activity when they’re bored.

Scavenger Hunt Challenge
Download it today! Head to Freebies.

Materials and Set-up

As for materials, use items you already have in-house. No need to run to the store. This is what can make the scavenger hunt more challenging…after all, it is a scavenger hunt! For instance, for Larry’s flying vessel I just found some yarn, balloons, a plastic cup, a piece of fabric, foil, and threw in some other things from my junk drawer. Who knows what kids will come up with?

All you need to do is draw a map and set up the course. This usually takes about 30 minutes. I had a lot of fun doing this. It brought me back to my childhood fun. To make it more interesting, I allowed a phone to be present for the kids to shoot videos and for taking pictures. They enjoyed this part, especially making the trick shot video. I simply downloaded an app called Clips. My son had to show me how to work it, in other words, it’s easy to figure out.

Lunchbox Note Jokes
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Scavenger hunt example

Here’s a video summary of this scavenger hunt we did the other day:

Larry is waiting for you!

Ready to have some fun and watch your kiddos have a blast? To download and print Larry’s Scavenger Hunt Challenge head over to Freebies. OH! One last thing, it’s a lot of fun as a family to do too! Not to mention at a campground when on vacation. Enjoy!

Before you go, check out these other great posts!

How to Have a Happy Family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

Kid Activities at Home: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now

13 Family Games Worth Playing, Plus a Little History

Do More Than Exist Stay Connected

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

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