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Category: Family, Fun & Holidays

Motivate your kids to do chores with the Homey app + enter to win a FREE unlimited annual subscription!

(Note: This post and giveaway were sponsored by Homey. Read our disclosure policy here.)

I believe that one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is a strong work ethic.

I know it doesn’t feel like a gift when you are training and teaching and explaining and re-doing and inspecting their work over and over again when they are little.

I know it doesn’t feel like a gift when it takes 5 times as long for you to get anything done while they are working alongside you.

I know it doesn’t feel like a gift when they have bad attitudes and complain about having to work while their friends get to play.

I know it doesn’t feel like a gift when you are tired and worn out and it’d be so much easier and quicker for you to just do it yourself rather than having them help or do their chores.

But if you stick with it, someday they will be old enough to do all of the laundry for your family and you’ll just write it on their list and they will sort, wash, dry, fold, and put it away with zero help from you and with zero complaints from them because they just know it’s what is expected of them.

And (hopefully!) they’ll carry this same work ethic into the real world someday and it will take them far in life. Then, all those days, weeks, and months of effort and training will pay off in big dividends!

Mamas in the trenches: I know it’s tough. I know it feels like you aren’t making any headway and that your kids will never be old enough to do anything but make messes and need your help.

But the light is at the end of the tunnel… hang on and keep plodding forward. And you’ll have your own in-house laundry service before you know it! 😉

I’m so grateful that my parents taught me to work hard from a young age. Looking back, I realize how much doing chores as a child prepared me so well for being a wife, mom, and business owner!

That’s why I was excited when Homey asked me about doing a review of their new app that helps teach kids about money through completing chores and working toward goals.

I love that the Homey app not only encourages kids to develop a strong work ethic, but it teaches kids how money is earned, encourages long-term goal setting, instills real life financial skills, and connects the whole family with a fun approach to paid chores.

Here’s how the Homey app works:

1. Download the Homey app here for Android or iPhone. You can access its basic features for FREE, or you can opt to upgrade your account to premium for $3.99/month or $29.99 annually.

They even offer an unlimited feature for $6.99/month or $49.99 annually. {Scroll down to the bottom of this post for an opportunity to win a FREE year of the unlimited subscription!}

2. Set up your household and then a profile for each member within the app.

3. Decide on one device or multiple devices. If your kids are old enough to have their own mobile devices, you can have linked individual profiles on separate mobile devices. If your kids are younger, the individual profiles can all be shared on one family device. As the household creator, you also have the ability to set permissions and roles for each family member.

4. Set up chores for each child’s profile, and decide if the chores will be paid or unpaid. In our house, we have a system of paid chores and non-paid chores, so I LOVE this option!

:: You can choose to set a chore as a responsibility that is not paid to teach your child the importance of contributing to the family without getting paid.

:: If you choose to label a task as an extra paid chore, you’ll need to designate the amount of coins each chore is worth. Coins earned can be traded in for specified rewards within the app.

5. Set rewards for each child’s profile. Depending on your household system, there are options to set up a weekly allowance for chores, wishlist items (toys, screen time, etc.), or extra money.

Regardless, each reward requires a specified amount of coins that teaches children how to save up what they’ve earned from their hard work. Kids can even set up their own wishlists to practice setting long term goals for themselves.

6. Connect your children’s checking or savings bank accounts with the app, if so desired. Homey allows you to transfer the allowance or extra money earned directly to your child’s bank account.

I love this, because I think it’s SO important to teach kids real life financial skills at an early age, and I’d rather them make $3 mistakes now when they are little to hopefully prevent some $3,000 and $30,000 mistakes down the road.

7. Kids start doing chores, working towards their goals, and getting rewarded for their hard work through the Homey app! Each time a task is finished, they just take a photo of their progress or completion so that you know what got done at a glance. It’s that simple!

Go here to get started with the Homey app.

Win a FREE unlimited annual subscription to the Homey app!

The folks over at Homey decided to give away one FREE unlimited annual subscription to a one MoneySavingMom reader ($49.99 value) this week!

Just comment on this post about why you’d love to try the Homey app for your family. I will randomly pick one winner from all of the comments to win the annual subscription.

(In the meantime, you can go ahead and download the FREE version of Homey to explore its features. If you’re a winner, they’ll upgrade your account to the unlimited subscription for free when the giveaway ends!)

This giveaway will run through end of day on June 8, 2017.

Other Resources on Chores for Children:

How do you encourage and motivate children to do chores in your home? I’d love to hear!

My #1 Tip for Getting Dinner on the Table Every Night

Get dinner on the table every single night with this ONE super easy tip! It makes weekday family dinners SO much simpler!

Do you struggle to get dinner on the table every night? Do you feel like you’re constantly waiting until the last minute to figure out dinner and then sort of going into panic mode when 5 p.m. rolls around and the people in your home are hungry?

(I know. What is it about people wanting to eat every single night?? I always say that if we didn’t have to eat, sleep, or wear clothes, it would save us so much time and effort! I mean, no laundry, we could use all 24 hours in our day, and we wouldn’t ever have to make food or clean up dishes!! ;))

If making dinner every night is a challenge, here’s my #1 tip for getting dinner on the table every night:

My #1 Tip: Plan & Prep Your Dinner in the Morning

Don’t wait until 5 p.m. to think about what you are going to eat for dinner. Don’t even wait until 5 p.m. to start making dinner. Get into the habit of planning and prepping your dinner before breakfast or right after breakfast.

I know that you have a lot to do in the morning. I know you might just feel like, “I gotta get out the door! I don’t have time to think about dinner in the morning!”

But trust me on this: you will be SO glad you planned and prepped ahead later on in the day.

I’ve been experimenting with using my Slow Cooker almost exclusively the past month and I’ve been challenging myself to make dinner and have it in the Crock-Pot before 11 a.m. (Yes, that’s not really breakfast time, but I’m all about giving myself some grace! ;))

You guys! I cannot believe the difference that this makes! When I get dinner made in the mornings, I go throughout the rest of my day feeling like I’m so on top of things (even if I am kind of a hot mess the rest of the day) because dinner is DONE!

In addition, it encourages our family to eat healthier since we aren’t tempted to grab quick food or take out, it saves money because we are eating at home, and it encourages our family to be more consistent about eating dinner together. Plus, it just makes me really happy to be making yummy food for my family and having them love what I’m cooking!

3 Resources to Help You Get Dinner Done Early

  1. Follow Me on Facebook — At least 3-4 mornings every week, I’m doing a live video on Facebook in the mornings as I’m making dinner. This is not only public accountability for me, but I’ve heard from my followers that this morning video reminds them to get dinner prepped and gives them some great ideas of very simple recipes they can make. Follow me on Facebook here.
  2. Join the Eat at Home Challenge Facebook Group — Need more encouragement to get dinner on the table every night? Join the Eat at Home Challenge Facebook Group. It’s a group full of women who share what they are making every night for dinner. It’s filled with great ideas and inspiration! Go here to request to join the Eat at Home Challenge Facebook Group.
  3. Sign up for the Eat at Home Menu Plan — I cannot sing the praises of this menu plan enough! We’ve been using it for our family for the past month and just love, love, love it! The recipes are so simple, so yummy, and have been a hit at our house. Plus, it’s only a few dollars per week and you get three different menu plans for every week — which is so worth it if it saves you a lot of time, money, and stress! (We use the Slow Cooker menu plan and highly recommend it.) Find out more about the Eat at Home Menu Plan service here.

What tips and advice do you have for getting dinner on the table every night? I’d love to hear!

My Master List of Things to Take on a Camping Trip

Going camping for the first time and not sure what to take? You NEED this master list of essentials in your life! It makes it so easy to prepare!

On Wednesday, I told you about How We Planned and Prepared for Our First Family Camping Trip and then yesterday, I shared about 5 Important Lessons We Learned on Our First Camping Trip. I promised you all that I would share my Master Camping List today.

This list of things to take on a camping trip is one I compiled based upon many of your suggestions, based upon other things I read on the internet, based upon talking to other people who had been camping, and based upon what the experienced campers in our group recommended.

Some of you might be wondering why on earth I’m sharing my list when we’ve only been camping on time. Well, trust me, I don’t think that qualifies me to be a camping expert by any stretch of the imagination. 😉

However, when I mentioned this list I had put together and how it had made such a difference in helping us have a great camping trip, so many of you begged for me to share it. So, because I thought it might be helpful to someone else who is considering camping this summer, here you go…

Before you go out and buy supplies for your camping trip, consider some less expensive options:

  • Borrow — There are probably a lot of people you know who have camping supplies in their garage or shed or attic or basement. Ask around to see what your friends and relatives own and see if you can borrow it for your camping trip.
  • Rent — Some stores will rent camping supplies out. This isn’t the best option — especially if you are planning to camp regularly — but if you are planning to just try camping one time to see if you think it’s a great option for your family, renting might be the way to go.
  • Buy Used — Look on Craigslist, at garage sales, on Facebook Yard Sale Groups, or ask around to see if anyone has camping supplies they are selling.

My Master List of Things to Take on a Camping Trip

Chairs — Any kind of fold up/portable will do, but if you want something really comfortable, I highly recommend these Zero Gravity Chairs (and they are just $39 on Amazon right now!)

Tent — Make sure it’s large enough for everyone to comfortably sleep in. We set ours up ahead of time to make sure that it would comfortably fit us all and to make sure we knew how to set it up quickly.

A Tarp — To use underneath your tent, to use to cover things up if it rains, etc.

Sleeping Bags/Pillows/Air Mattresses/Sheets — Or whatever bedding you are bringing. I highly recommend the air mattress idea if you are not really big on “roughing it”.

Blankets — Bring ones that you can get dirty or don’t mind getting wet or bugs. 

Flashlights — One for everyone in your camping party. I also highly recommend headlamps instead of flashlights. 

Toiletries — Shampoo/conditioner/body wash, deodorant, etc.

Toilet paper — In case the shower house doesn’t have any or runs out. 

Paper towels 

Hand Sanitizer & Pump Soap — Just in case the shower house doesn’t have hand soap like ours didn’t have. 

Sanitizing Wipes — We used these a LOT. Bring a big tub of them!

Extra Batteries — For flashlights or any other battery-powered items you are bringing.

Towels — For the shower house, for swimming, etc. 

Cooler and ice — Consider freezing water bottles or other liquid in bottles (milk, etc.) that you are planning to bring and using that instead of ice. It’s less messy and more space efficient.

Food/Snacks — Make sure to bring a lot of food. You will be hungry!

Flip Flops — For the shower house. You do not want to be showering with bare feet. Ick!

Clothes/Swimsuits — Make sure you bring clothes for both warm and cold weather. The temperature might change quite a bit.

Lanterns or String Lights — It will be very dark at night. In addition to flashlights, it’s really nice to have at least a lantern or two.

Ponchos/Raincoat — In case it rains. 

Sunscreen/Bug Spray — We were especially concerned about ticks, so we coated ourselves in bug spray. 

Hats — Especially if you’ll be going when it’s hot and sunny. 

Extension Cord — If your campsite has electricity. 

Trash Bags

Water Bottles or Other Water Set-Up — You’ll be very thirsty!

Lighter/Fire Starter/Fire Wood


Rug for Outside the Tent — To help with tracking in less dirt into the tent. 

Small Handheld Broom — To sweep out the tent.

Duct Tape

Phone Chargers or Portable Battery for Phones

Let me know what I forgot on this list! I’m still working on finalizing my master list so I’d love to hear what you think I should add to it.

5 Important Lessons We Learned On Our First Camping Trip

Planning a camping trip for the first time? Read this post for 5 important tips that will help prepare you!!


Yesterday, I shared about how we planned and prepared for our very first family camping trip. Today, I want to share five valuable lessons we learned on our first camping trip.

1. Go With Experienced Campers

If you want to have an amazing first camping trip, don’t go it alone. It’s more fun with friends — especially friends who have a lot of camping experience under their belt!

We went with three other families from our community group at church and ALL of them had more camping experience than us. One of the families has pretty extensive camping experience and they served as our guides for the adventure. They picked the campground, they gave us suggestions on what to pack, and they planned the food for the trip.

Having people who had already done this many times before and who could help steer us in the right direction before the trip and while on the trip was incredibly helpful. We even had a meeting where they gave us suggestions on what to pack and then sent us a suggested packing list!

Yes, we had a huge leg up because of this — and I know it was definitely one of the reasons we were able to enjoy the trip so much much!

2. Keep the Food Simple

There are lots and lots of amazing camping meals you can make over the fire or on a portable cookstove. Instead of going all out on our first camping trip, we kept it simple.

Everyone brought cereal and milk for breakfast. (The milk stayed cold in the coolers with ice. If we had been on a longer camping trip, this wouldn’t have been as great of an option, but since this was just a three-day trip, it worked well.)

One of the families brought a Keurig so we could all have coffee, hot tea, and hot cocoa. Each campsite had one outlet, so we were definitely not roughing it as much as you could at other campsites out

in the boonies! (If you don’t have electricity, you could also use a portable electric tea kettle with instant coffee or some kind of pour over coffee filtration system or tea bags. Or you could go all out and make coffee over the campfire.)

We all brought stuff for our own lunches such as: sandwiches, chips, fruit snacks, veggies, fruit, granola bars, etc. We went on a hike one day for lunch, so we made sure all the lunch stuff was easily portable.

We also brought snacks and this was definitely a necessity! People had told me to bring extra food because everyone would be more hungry with all the exercise and walking we’d be doing. That was definitely the case! I couldn’t believe how much food the kids downed while we were there! They ate a lot at meals plus were hungry for snacks about every two hours! I was glad I had packed plenty of snacks.

For dinners, we all pitched in and brought some of the items and it made it really simple. The first night, we had hot dogs and sausages roasted over the fire, veggies and dip, pasta salad (made ahe

ad of time), and s’mores. The second night, we had a taco bar with taco meat (made ahead of time and heated up on a little portable cookstove), tortillas, lettuce, chips, salsa, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, etc. And then we had campfire pies with different fruit fillings (or mountain pies, as some people call them) for dessert.

3. Prepare for Sleep to Be a Challenge

This one caught me off guard. I’m usually a sound sleeper — especially when I’ve gotten a lot of exercise during the day! But I struggled to sleep while we were camping. And I wasn’t alone; pretty much all the adults in our group did.

The first night, there were so many noises to adjust to, I struggled to get co

mfortable, it was warmer than I’d anticipated, and all of the nature noises kept startling me. And then, I think I was nervous about the fact that there wasn’t a bathroom in our tent and what would happen if I needed to wake up and go to the bathroom in the night. It was kind of silly stuff, I know, but I was surprised by how unsettled I felt sleeping in a tent as an adult.

The second night, I prepared better and used a few extra blankets to make the air mattress more like how our bed at home feels. We also used a sound machine app on our phone to help drown out the outdoor noises. Both of these things seemed to help and we both slept better, but it was still very fitful sleep compared to how I sleep at home!

If I had known I was going to struggle sleeping, I probably would have done a be


tter job bringing more pillows and a few of my favorite blankets from home. I may have also considered investing in some sort of portable bathroom for the night time so I wouldn’t have had to worry about leaving the tent to traipse to the shower house in the middle of the night.


4. Plan for Everything to Take Longer Than You Expect

I think this was the biggest lesson I learned from camping: it’s a LOT of work. I calculated that it takes about 10 times as much time to pack for a camping trip than a regular trip. I’m not joking.

We usually pack for a 3-5 day family trip in about 1 1/2 hours or less. We have a system. Everyone works together. And we just get it done.

It took us every bit of 10 hours to get things ready and pack for this trip — and that didn’t even include the time I spent researching things online, making my lists, and making purchases!

Now that we have all of our camping gear together, it should be much easier in the future. But I’m positive that it’s still going to be more work to gear up for a camping trip than it will ever take to go on a regular trip.

And that’s just the packing part! It’s also a lot of work to set up your camp and to tear down your campsite, pack up your vehicle, and then unpack at home.

I don’t say this to discourage you from camping; I just wanted to give you the reality of it. I think that the packing and setting up camp and tearing down camp and unpacking are all part of the process. And you can enjoy it if you view it as such. But just go into things knowing that it’s going to take you quite a bit of time and there’s really no getting around that.

5. Bring Your Adventurous Attitude

A camping trip is going to be an adventure, there’s no doubt about it. It’s not really so much as to what happens on the camping trip or how much of it goes as planned as to whether you enjoy it; it’s all in your attitude.

It’s not going to go as planned. It’s not going to be perfect.

There will be bugs. Lots and lots of bugs!

It may rain. It might be hot. It might be cold.

You might have trouble getting your tent set up. You might forget to bring something.

It might be a long walk to the bathroom. You might have trouble sleeping.

You might get a sunburn. Your allergies might flare up.

You will probably miss some of the comforts of home. There’s a good chance that one (or more!) of your family members will have a bad attitude.

But none of those things have to ruin your camping trip. If you view the camping experience as an adventure, you can roll with the punches and have a GREAT camping trip!

A Few Other Tips:

  • Shower ahead of time — You don’t know what the shower situation will be and you may not want to shower while you’re there! Gratefully, the shower houses were very decent where we stayed, but I’ve heard that is often not the case.
  • Bring your own toilet paper and soap — The shower houses where we stayed did not have any hand soap in them. Gratefully, I had brought some body wash, so we all shared that. But next time around, I will definitely bring a pump of hand soap, just in case. Also, bring your own toilet paper just to have backup in case the bathrooms are out or run out.
  • Expect your allergies to flare up — If you have outdoor allergies, there is a good chance they will flare up big time because you are basically living in a sea of allergens in the woods. I wish I had thought of this ahead of time and had brought some of our different allergy meds and remedies.
  • Keep all of the towels, blankets, and clothes in your vehicle — If there’s any chance of rain at all, keep all of the towels, blankets, and clothes in your vehicle, just in case it starts raining. That way, once the rain lets up, you’ll guarantee that you have at least some dry clothes and towels and blankets!

Tomorrow, I’ll share my Camping Trip Master List with everything we brought, plus a few additions I’m adding for next time!

If you’re a camper, I’d love to hear your best advice and tips. Share them in the comments!

How We Prepared for Our Very First Family Camping Trip

Taking your first family camping trip and not sure how to prepare? Read THIS!

So, on Friday afternoon, we did something we’d never done as a family before: we went on a three-day camping trip at a state park with our community group from church.

Yes, we stayed in a tent.

A tent. Not a hotel. Not even an RV. A TENT.

If you know me well, you know how this is not my normal deal. Not. at. all.

In fact, the last time I’d been tent camping was when I was something like 6 years old?? But I couldn’t say no to this family adventure since it’s my Year of Yes and all.



I was nervous and apprehensive, wondering whether or not this first camping trip would be our last camping trip.

But you guys: The whole trip was great — from start to finish. For years, I had convinced myself I didn’t like camping… but that was because I’ve never actually been camping since I was 6 years old!

Yes, it was a lot of work to plan and prep for. Yes, there were a lot of bugs. Yes, the bathrooms and showers weren’t as clean as a hotel. Yes, it’s not as comfortable to sleep in a tent as it is to sleep in my own bed.

However, I shocked myself by genuinely LOVING the camping experience!!

We stayed at a gorgeous state park (the Natchez Trace State Park). It was incredible to be out in nature and be serenaded to sleep by the frogs. It was so fun to see our kids having a blast without any sort of screen for entertai

nment. And I savored the opportunity to be unplugged, to soak up the sun, to sit around the campfire, to read in the hammock, and to laugh and talk and make so many memories with our community group.

I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but it’s true: I’m ready to go camping again very soon! (In fact, I already pitched the idea of us doing a three-week camping trip visiting various state parks!)

Many of you have asked me if I would write a post about what I learned from our first camping experience and what helped to make it a success. So, I’m going to take the next few days to share what I learned as a newbie camper and some of the ways we prepared/things we brought that allowed us to enjoy our camping trip so much more…

1. Do Your Research

Since we were so inexperienced and I was nervous about “roughing it” like this, I did a LOT of research ahead of time. I have a fear of the unknown, so I’ve found the best way to combat that fear is to over-research and over-prepare.

First off, I asked you all for advice. Once again, you proved that I have the best readers on t

he planet. You SHOWED UP with advice. Loads of it. And it was good stuff.

I pored over your comments and suggestions and made a long list of ideas. I specifically looked for things that experienced campers suggested over and over again.

I want to say a huge thank you to you all for your camping advice and suggestions of what we should bring. I may have gotten teased for being over-prepared, but we couldn’t believe that there wasn’t anything we wished we would have brought that we didn’t. And I owe it to you all for sharing your experience and wise advice.

I would have never thought to bring some of the items you suggested or to pack like you

advised, but it really made a difference and made the trip so much smoother and more enjoyable. And next time, it will be so much easier to pack and prepare since I have my trusty To Bring On A Camping Trip list now (I’ll be sharing that list on Friday!).

2. Make a Plan

Not only did I make a big list of what to bring, I also researched the best way to store everything and have everything set up while we were camping. Someone suggested this post on tent camping organization and it inspired us to buy plastic bins to pack our camping supplies in.

This proved to be a fantastic idea. Not only did it keep everything really organized when packing and at the campsite, but it also made packing up our campsite and unloading the vehicle at home so much easier.

Plus, everything was protected from rain, bugs, and wind — and we ended up having some rain, some wind, and LOTS of bugs!

In the spirit of being prepared, we also practiced setting up the tent the day before we left to make sure it would be big enough to fit all five of us. We ended up deciding that it was a little too small and we went out and go

a second tent that night from Walmart, just to be safe.

The kids slept in one tent and Jesse and I slept in the other tent, and we were glad we ended up going with two tents. It gave everyone more space, it gave us more privacy, and I think everyone got better sleep since we weren’t all stacked on top of each other in one tent.

…To be continued! (Tomorrow I’ll be sharing 5 important lessons we learned on our first camping trip and then on Friday, I’ll share my Master Camping Packing List). Stay tuned!

Have you been camping before? What are your best tips to prepare for a great camping trip?