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stocking fillers for teenagers

45+ Inexpensive Stocking Fillers for Teenagers and Big Kids

(Inside: Looking for great stocking fillers for teenagers or your other big kids? Ones that won’t break the bank but that they’ll love? Read on…) 

Gifts can be tricky for teens.

Sometimes, their emotions and actions just don’t always match the spirit of the Christmas season.

For example, one of our boys (a minimalist at heart) wouldn’t give us any ideas for Christmas one year. We kept asking…

“A new basketball? No.

“Tickets to a game?” Eh.

“Clothes?” Nope.

“Shoes” Naw.

“A gift card?” Shrug, then headshake no.

Nothing.

Nada.

Zilch.

But, then my son also kept talking about how excited he was to open gifts.

(Okay, then…)

It finally took me a hot minute to realize that even though he really wasn’t wanting much, that tradition of Christmas and gift-giving was still really important to him. It was a comfort of stability during the roller coaster ride of his teen years. So even though my love language is not gift-giving, and I don’t always feel like shopping…I know it’s still important for me to put effort into paying attention to what he likes and have a few presents under the tree that remind him how loved he is.

 

**This blog post contains affiliate links.**

So I joined the other parents in shopping for Christmas gifts for teens.

And there were lots of choices.

A new iPad.

Or phone.

A hoodie.

Or a nice sports backpack.

 

All expensive.

(Teenagers are not cheap.)

After securing some items on black Friday off of Amazon, I felt like I’d just spent all-my-money plus an-arm-and-leg to…drumroll, please…put exactly three gifts under the tree. I then found myself then side-eying the empty stockings missing the days when our kids were happy with a $1 matchbox car from the grocery store.

More money to spend.

But, also, just like other parents, I know these days of kids under our roof are fleeting. No, none of us want to break the bank and our kids do not need everything, but we would like some nice, inexpensive gifts to fill the stockings.

 

So, I brainstormed. Then I gathered more ideas. I asked friends, my sons, their friends, and some of my high school students: what were some of the best stocking stuffers for teenagers they’ve ever received or still want to get?

Because moms raising big kids are some of the busiest human beings on the planet, I made a quick list of ideas for you. I’m always up for someone else gathering and sifting through information and sharing the final list with me. Time savers are the best. So, here are 20 inexpensive ideas that teenagers and parents of big kids recommend. 

 

 

Fun stocking fillers for teens

My house was full of a bunch of 16 and 17-year-old boys who love video games and sports and band and all things teenager. My son had his cube out and it was hilarious how many people neglected the PS5 and sport court outside to try and figure out this puzzle. The lucky winner and first one to finish had bragging rights all night. This was a gift from grandma on his birthday and it’s been a bigger hit than the gift card my son got – teens are just unpredictable like that. 

These beautiful and bright stickers can be used to personalize your teens’ water bottles, phone cases, Chromebooks, notebooks and so much more. They are waterproof.  My friend told me her girls love them. She’s washed her teen’s water bottles dozens of times, and the stickers haven’t peeled off yet. Amusing and funky, multiple sticker themes exist on Amazon.  It’s easy to find a pack that your teen will be sure to enjoy.  

Part pen and part fidget, this interesting toy will entertain your teens. It also can be used as a touch screen pen for your device.  My guess is you’ll want to have a turn creating with this magnetic fidget pen too. Help your teen de-stress and get creative with this fun pen. 

I always have it in my head that teens are too big for Legos, but then my high school students will tell me they stayed up all night putting one of those giant Lego sets together. Teens just have one foot in adulthood and one in being a kid. I liked this Lego Succulent building set. Any gift that gets my teen’s creative juices flowing is a winner in my house.  Plus when they’re done, it makes a cute adornment on a shelf.  

Despite how fast teens are growing, they still cling a bit to childhood. I was talking to a group of 11th-grade students at the high school where I teach and asked what were good ideas for stocking stuffers for my teen nieces, and they said plushes. Enthusiastically. I think sometimes these things of their childhood give them comfort when they are being thrust to grow up faster than they want to – AP classes, trying out for teens, giving speeches in front of peers, college applications… This might be something your teen would enjoy.

When I was a child, my grandparents had a gumball machine hidden in their closet (not sure why it was hidden…maybe out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of thing?).  Next to it was a small Tupperware full of pennies for the grand-kids to use to get the bubble gum.  Because of this, I’m always a little warm and fuzzy about gumball machines.  These mini-machines are adorable.  Tuck one in your teen’s stocking and start a gumball tradition of your own. 

A mini arcade Pac-Man game that is fabulous for gamers and non-gamers alike.  As a child of the 80s, this staple video game was a favorite.  After calibrating my joystick, I would move a green pac-man across a black screen in my quest for dots.  I’m that old.  Bring back your childhood and share memories with this classic game your teenager is sure to love too.  

I’ve noticed how many of my high school students have key chains attached to their backpacks. From plushies to sports-related to vacation keepsakes, it seems to be a fun way to express themselves. A keychain that represents something your teen loves might be a good idea.

Crafts stocking fillers for teens

When I was talking to a group of my high school students about their favorite stocking stuffers, I was surprised at how many said crafts. This rainbow scratch art paper is not just for kids. Your teens can use this to leave fun notes for friends, make lists, and draw.  There’s something relaxing about watching the black scratch off and reveal the colors underneath. A great way to unwind after a long day at school and practice or to just have a little fun.  Sometimes it’s the little things that are a hit.  

There’s just something fun about getting a card in the mail.  Even my teens still get excited to see their name on an envelope in the mail.  These stationary cards are lovely. Let’s get this next generation excited about snail mail again.  Encourage them to spread the love with a handwritten note.  And if all else fails, pop one in a frame for some cute artwork.  

My friend’s daughter has a set of watercolor brush pens that she enjoys. More than a typical marker, a watercolor pen looks like you’re painting. These pens are easy to blend and graceful to use. She says a favorite part is experimenting with writing different fonts. A sure win for the budding teen artist in your life. 

stocking fillers for teeangers

Stress-reliever stocking fillers for teens

This is such a satisfying stress ball.  The Nee-Doh can be tossed from teen to teen as a toy or be used to help focus. My friend has one teen that often does homework with it in one hand while the other hand is busy writing. It helps her son focus. Part toy/part stress reliever, it is an amusing gift for your teen’s stocking.  

These sleep masks have the ability to be practical and HILARIOUS. Yes, they can help your teenager get better sleep by blocking light, letting them nap on a bus, or getting an afternoon snooze, but they can also be customized with words or pictures.  I’m thinking a custom mask with large eyes would garner some teen laughs.  

One of my students told me how relaxing scented candles are for her. After a long day at school, she lights a candle, gets a snack, and works on her homework. Mood is everything, and she creates a space for herself that she loves. Besides charming packing, these scents are sure to brighten up any room. 

Teenagers love art for so many reasons. A way to explore their creative side, relax, and focus their thoughts are some of the motives to enjoy drawing. After tests, I put out adult coloring pages, and I’m continually surprised by how many students relax into the comforting rhythm of shading between the lines. This adult coloring book is a good one. Maybe add a pack of colored pencils to the stocking to round this sweet gift out?  

A scientific way to improve your level of happiness and lower your anxiety is through gratitude. A gratitude journal is a simple way to encourage our kids to notice that despite everything that might go “wrong” in their day, how much goes “right.”  I like the idea of giving a stocking stuffer that will have positive ramifications beyond the holidays.  

Electronic stocking fillers for teens that they will appreciate

Besides a drawer in my kitchen full of random chargers, we have either an assortment of chargers plugged into outlets, or we can’t find a single phone charger. Feast or famine. I thought this cable protector would be great for two purposes: keeping track of which charger belongs to whom and preventing the cord from fraying near the plug-in part. Cute and reasonably priced.

No more missing chargers.  No more finding a cable compatible with different smartphones.  This 3-1 wireless charger is easy and fast to use. Plug it in on a desk or counter. Your teen will be excited to charge multiple things at once. You’ll be excited your charger won’t disappear to your teen’s room anymore. 

This mini bluetooth speaker is. so. cute.  Never thought I’d say those words. Waterproof and tiny-sized, this speaker is perfect for your on-the-go teen. Comes with a carrying case and metal hook so it can be easily taken on bike rides, walks, road trips, or hooked on a beach bag.  A great addition to a stocking this year.   

Peanut butter and jelly.  Cookies and milk.  Teens and cell phones.  Chances are if you have a teenager in your life, they have a phone.  Update your teen’s phone with a new phone case. This one comes in a variety of beautiful colors. Or go for a popular clear case. (Teens sometimes put their school ID or lunch ID  in the back of the clear case, and then easily scan that for school lunches.)  Either way, phone cases are a fun and practical gift for a teen.

A portable phone charger can be a lifesaver for your on-the-go teenager. This one comes in a two-pack, so you can slip one in your bag too.  No more excuses for not texting back. You know that they have an easy way to charge their cell phone and stay connected with you wherever they might be.  

Anybody’s teen lost his air pod case? Just mine? I didn’t think so.  Air pod case as a key chain? Brilliant. Hook that baby up to something to help it from disappearing.  This air pod case key chain with a wristlet or others like it without a wristlet are a handy way to keep your air pods from getting lost.  A student proudly showed me her new iPod case key chain, and my first thought was that’s a perfect gift. 

Practical stocking fillers for teens that they will appreciate

Those essential items that the kids use every single day…they do appreciate getting new and upgraded daily use gifts. 

We can’t pull it together with socks in our home. Honestly. I don’t know why. I put an even number of socks in the wash and an odd number comes out. And, we’re all so bad at taking the time to match socks. The hunt is always on for matching socks in our home, and with three boys, they’re always fighting over this basic item. So, for Christmas, they always get socks – they love it and look forward to this gift. What is your family bad at keeping up with? Could it be a stocking stuffer?

I often use stockings to refill a few necessities but will make the gift a small upgrade from my usual purchase. It is amazing to see how excited my teens can be over a new razor. This electric razor is not only practical but makes shaving fun. Win-win.

My friend was telling me how she has loved Burt’s Bee’s products for a long time and is a regular user of their lip balm. But so do her big kids. So, she finds them sneaking into her bathroom to seek out her stash for themselves. Then you know what happens next.  Her lip balms go missing. She said she did herself a favor this year and dropped this variety pack in each stocking.

If you live in a cold weather state like me, you know that gloves are a staple in any home. We’ve gone through our fair share of cheap cotton dollar store gloves, but the gloves that stand the test of time (and weather) have to be of better quality. These gloves are an upgrade with an anti-slip grip and touch screen fingertips. Now your teens have no excuse not to text you back even in the coldest weather.  

Shake up your teen’s normal hygiene routine with a new body spray. Try a new scent or brand. Make smelling good fun again.  This body spray size is perfect for tossing in a backpack or sports bag.  

This is another gift that is an upgrade from our normal toothbrush situation.  I have one teen who doesn’t like brushing his pearly whites, and it’s amazing how an electric toothbrush can make this mundane task more enjoyable. One step closer to no more reminding my teen to clean his teeth.  

Keepsake stocking fillers for teens

It’s truly special the way a family pet stakes a place in our hearts. Show Fido a little extra love with his profile on a charm you can wear. These personalized pet necklaces are a fun and whimsical addition to your teen’s stocking. Lots of dog faces and fonts to choose from to make it one of a kind. 

Give a gift that will make a sweet keepsake.  These minature music boxes play charming songs like “Over the Rainbow” and “You are my Sunshine.” My sentimental mama mind pictures my teen thinking warm and fuzzy thoughts when hearing it play and know they are loved.  

Food and drink and treats stocking fillers for teens

Create a tradition using candy. When the kids were little, my husband started stuffing their stockings with holiday candy. They don’t get it any other time of the year, so it’s a treat they look forward to every Christmas.

A cozy atmosphere and a warm drink in my hand can make those Minnesota winter nights more enjoyable. (Especially the 20 degrees below ones.) Fill your teen’s stockings with some yummy, gourmet hot chocolate mixes. Then, pop in a family movie and sip on your mug of hot chocolate together. 

Have some stocking fun with some delicious gourmet popcorn.  This variety pack will make game-night extra special. Drop these yummy fun-sized treats into your teen’s stocking, then cross your fingers they will share. 

Holidays are the perfect time to try new flavors and embrace the variety pack. These vintage soda flavors can be divided up and placed in each stocking. Then, create a taste test night and vote on your favorite. Another way to make memories with your teens.  

These peppermint Ice Cube gum packs are some of our family’s favorites. What teen doesn’t like getting gum? It’s a staple.

T-shirt stocking fillers for teens

Funny t-shirts are great gifts for teens. If you buy them “a miss,” they’ll still wear the t-shirt to sleep in or lounge around the house. You just can’t lose. This silly t-shirt is sure to give your teen a chuckle.  Or at least an eye roll. 

Graphic tees are also a great gift. Teens just like t-shirts. My sons’ closets are a testimony to this. Funny and comfy. Two of my favorite adjectives. This humorous dino t-shirt is just that.  

Some teens are really into watching anime, and ALL teens are into t-shirts.  A fun anime t-shirt could be a hit in your house.  

Fun and comfy socks fillers for teens

Cute and comfy socks are an easy present to fill your Christmas stockings. These silly socks are soft and fluffy and just perfect for lounging around the house during the cold weather months.  

I was surprised at how excited some of my students get over funny socks. When they are feeling a little EXTRA, they will wear them pulled high with crocks or slides. These silly socks are sure to get a smile when pulled from their stocking.  

Fancy fillers for teens

I tell you what. The marketing people were able to think outside the (juice)box for this bottle of spray. (See what I did there?) This trending perfume comes in a clever, whimsical “juice” box that will have your teen smelling delicious and “awwww-ing” over the container.  

Lip gloss is a sure win for teens who love make-up.  Butter gloss some in so many fantastic shades. You’re sure to find a color your teen will love. 

This travel pack of solid cologne is genius. Chapstick-sized cologne that can go anywhere with your teen.  Easy to slip in a pocket or backpack. This is perfect.

Money and gift cards for teens

My fail safe present for teens (especially when I’m in a time-crunch or don’t know them super well) is to purchase a gift card.  An Amazon gift card is handy because a teen can get almost anything they want at Amazon.com.  Another fun idea to do get several $5 or $10 gift cards to fast food restaurants, or if they are a teen driver, a gas card can be a big hit.  

If you’re concerned about being “boring” but just want to give cash, this is a creative solution.  Present them with a maze puzzle money box. Teens have to solve the puzzle by moving a silver ball through the maze to unlock the opening and receive their prize.  This gift is great.

Games for teens

Our family loves 5 Crowns. Small games are an inexpensive gift to throw in stockings. Plus, a lazy Christmas day is the perfect opportunity to connect over a family game.

Your Turn

What did we miss? What are some stocking stuffers that your family has loved? Let us know in the comments.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped your kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community below.

 

stocking stuffers for teenagers

Want more gift ideas for your family?

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Gift ideas for moms of tweens and teens (Great for Mother’s Day!)

Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

stocking fillers for teens
school memory printable

School Memory Book Printable: a Simple, Beautiful Keepsake Parents will Cherish

(Inside: Grab a school memory book printable that as parents, you will cherish. This is a keepsake you will be glad that you have.)

I am a memory-junkie mom.

Specifically, photos and words.

I’ve always been the mom with a camera, snapping way too many photos of games, holidays, closed-eyed wishes in front of candles, kids with grandparents, and the dog playing fetch with the family. Then, I have plastic bins full of kids’ schoolwork, art projects, and planners. I love flipping through pictures of my growing kids and holding papers showcasing my boys’ handwriting, words, and drawings.

Time moves so fast, keepsakes are a kind of therapy for me.

They help me see where the moments went – to school, to sports, to concerts, to special occasions, to meals, to walks with the dog around the lake, to family movies watched in the living room.

However, I am not a things-memorabilia-junkie. Clutter makes me nervous, and I’ve donated an excessive amount of participation trophies, clothes, uniforms, toys…etc. I felt good about my mass exodus of outgrown goods until I went to a grad party and saw a mom who had saved all the “things” and displayed them so beautifully. I went home and cried buckets that I had donated the soccer jerseys and Awana vests.

Mom emotions are complicated like that.

But I digress…
 

Every year, I make an end-of-the-year photo album on Shutterfly that I order three copies of – one for us and one for each set of grandparents as their Christmas gifts.

 
I usually asked my kids questions about their year: what were their favorites, whom did they hang out with, what did they learn about themselves…and record that in the book.

This year I decided that instead of my typing their answers into my photo album, I wanted to see their handwriting.

So, I created two pdfs – one for the start of their school year and one for the end. I emailed the pdfs to them; they opened them on their school iPads and filled out the beginning-of-the-school-year page by hand using Notability. In June, I’ll remind them to fill out the end-of-the-school-year reflection. Then, I’ll upload the pages to Shutterfly, and it’ll be a nice addition to my annual memory books.
 
memory book printable
Get the memory book printable here.

That’s how I like to preserve memories, but these printables could be printed out to be put in memory boxes, kept in folders, or displayed at grad parties.

Or they could just be stored in the folders of pictures and memories on your computer. It’s just lovely to have “things” that mark your kids’ years and bring you back to that sweet season of raising kids.

I never look back and am sad I took the picture or recorded my kids’ thoughts.

Because I’m a mom.
 

A keeper of the memories.

Specifically, a photos and words person.

A memory-junkie.

And I love it.
memory book printable
Get the memory book printable here.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens. We try and come up with great ideas like a memory book printable for big kids and more…

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kids, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

 

If you grab the memory book printable here, you will automatically be signed up for emails.

Read more in the “Raising Tweens and Teens” series…

My two oldest sons are in high school now, and I’m still in a coma because of it. Even though I’ve taught high school for over two decades, I’m confused as to how I’m actually old enough to be a parent of a high schooler. 

Teaching high schoolers has always been a passion of mine, but now parenting them is as well. I could research, write, and talk about this topic until eternity. I hope you are encouraged by some of my articles.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
You Can’t Fix Your Struggling Teens’ Problems, But You Can Do This One Powerful Thing


COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TWEEN/TEEN
How to Get Your Teen/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”
400+ Conversation Starters for Families of Teens


PARENTING
Dear Kids – Know the Difference Between “Chores” and “Maintenance”
Your Teen’s Maddening Behavior is Age-Appropriate and Here’s Hope
Raising Tweens and Teens – THIS is what it looks like…

 

memory book printable
Get the memory book printable here.
family at dinner table

The Lasting Power of a Simple Meal: It’s Not Just Your Family at the Dinner Table, It’s More

(Inside: Moms, we think it’s just our family at the dinner table, another meal, nothing special, but it’s so much more than that…)

It’s not just dinner.

Moms, we think it’s just dinner, but we forget.

It’s not just noodles, a jar of spaghetti sauce, and a side of broccoli.

Or pizza showing up at our door.

Or chicken sandwiches ordered from a booth.

It’s a place for our family to fill their empty bellies – a mood booster and an energy-giver.

It’s a place to unpack your thoughts and process your day. To be heard and to listen. And for your family to speak truth and encouragement into each other’s lives.

It’s a place to just focus on eating because everyone’s too tired to talk, but it’s your safe place to simply sit and be. The dinner table is a place to belong.

It’s a place for good conversations. And belly laughs. And heated debates. And dumb topics. And intellectual thoughts.

family at dinner table
Do you want to make your meals more interesting? Discuss these awesome conversation starters for families of teens.

At the end of a busy day, we can quickly throw together/order/pick up something to eat and not think anything more about it. But it’s not just dinner.

It’s a pause in life to soak in the people you love. To refuel your body. To show and receive emotional support. To create and deepen family connections. To nurture a sense of belonging.

Life gets busy and this certainly isn’t going to happen every single night.

But, that rhythm of continually coming back to family meals.

It’s not just dinner.

It’s life.

Want to connect more than over your family at the dinner table? Read more in the “Create Family Connections” series.

We all want to feel connected to our family. I know, I do. 

One of my favorite things to do with my family is to create family time. Yes, life gets busy, and no I don’t do this all perfectly (who actually does!?!), but it sure is fun to try. 

I hope you enjoy these family connection articles and ideas too…

FAMILY ACTIVITIES
400+ Great Conversation Starters for Families of Teens
7 Powerful Reasons to Pray as a Family (+ Prayer Journal)

INSPIRATIONAL STORIES
My Big Kids, No Matter How Fast Your Grow, I’ll Always Be Your Mom 
Moms of Big Kids, Get Lost in Motherhood if You Want

CELEBRATING HOLIDAYS
30+ Ways to Connect With Your Family Over the Holiday Season

family at dinner table

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens…

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kids, and celebrate the awesome momma you are.

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

gifts for moms
family at dinner table
chores teens

Get Your Teenager to Do Chores with Humor and a Checklist

(Inside: Get your teenager to do chores with this lighthearted explanation of “chores” and “maintenance.” Get a cleaning checklist that works too…)

My dear tween and teenage kids,

You know I love you beyond measure, but we must discuss something and I need you to hear me or your mom just might lose her sanity.

There’s a difference between “chores” and “maintenance.”

Why are we discussing this you ask? Well because the other day one of you sighed big and said “I didn’t know we had to do chores today” when I asked you to hang up your wet towel that was crumbled on the bathroom floor. So, I feel that we need to straighten something out.

Get your teenager to do chores by grabbing the cleaning checklist here.

Chores are when you snap on rubber gloves and dive deep into scrubbing the bathrooms. Chores are when you pull out the vacuum and make even lines across the room. Chores are when you ring out a mop and rub it all over the floor. Chores are what we do as a family once a week.

Maintenance is when you – ready for this? – hang up the towel you just used after your shower. Or put the clothes you just wore in the hamper. Or your cereal bowl into the dishwasher. (And then wipe up the dribbles of milk from the counter.) Maintenance is putting the milk back in the fridge, your shoes in the mudroom bin, and your coat on the hook. I don’t need to go on, you get it…

Know, my dear children –  I don’t expect you to be perfect. You all know I’m not! But I am asking you to shift your mindset, even if it’s only a little.

Chores = big actual cleaning

Maintenance = the small daily acts of putting the stuff you just used away

You might someday make enough money be able to hire a cleaning company to do your “chores” (dream big!), but you will FOR SURE have to do “daily maintenance” until the end of time. So, it’s important that you learn that skill set now.

Thanks for listening to my words. I love you to the moon-and-back, forever-and-ever. You are my everything and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you – except hang up your bathroom towel.

Love, Your Mom

Get your teenager to do chores by grabbing the cleaning checklist here.

Get your teenager to do chores: here was the game-changer for me!

Can you relate to my letter to my kids? Do you long for your house to remain straightened? Are you tired of the house-cleaning-drill?

And, really – it’s not so much the cleaning, it’s the unhelpfulness of the tween who apparated-Ron-Weasley-style into some unknown corner of your home in the middle of the chores (Room of Requirement, maybe?) and the turtle-pace cleaning speed of your teen. Mix that with working all week and then spending half of Saturday trying to motivate your people to scrub with purpose, and you are over it.

I hear you.

My coworker gave me life-changing advice about a tangible way to keep my house clean.

I was telling my friend from work about our cleaning as a family on the weekends. (“No one is focused. It takes forever. Saturday mornings aren’t enjoyable.”)

“First…” my coworker said to me, “You have to know how good it is for your boys to help you clean.” (She has sons, as well, and is a few clicks ahead of me in parenting.)  It teaches your sons’ life skills, to treat their mom well, to be a better future roommate and/or husband, to take ownership and pride in your family home, and to do life as part of a team. 

(Oh, dear friend – you had me at “It’s good for your boys to help you clean.”)

“But here’s the key,” she continued. “You need to clean on a Thursday.”

Then she went on to tell the pros of Thursday cleaning:

  • Everyone still has energy on a Thursday, by Friday, you’re toast.
  • You go into the weekend with a clean house and that’s so nice.


Here’s how it works:

  • You get pizza on the way home from work, and everyone eats early.
  • Everyone works together with the goal of getting the whole house clean between 1-2 hours. A family member finishes a job, then goes back to mom (or dad) to find out the next job. This continues until you are done. (Set a timer, blast some music and go.)
  • Yes, there are sometimes activities/conflicts, but you figure it out and make it happen anyway – remember, Thursday you’re strong, Friday you wilt. 

So, I tried the Thursday cleaning and experience something clicked in a new way for us – it worked far better than our weekend routine. We’ve kept this new schedule up for years with one small addition.

We’ve added that during the week we also do our best to imperfectly pick up after ourselves. After dinner, half the family cleans the kitchen and the other half does a quick house pickup. (Aim for 10-15 minutes max and no this doesn’t happen every day.)

Is it flawless? Of course not, but no parent is hidden somewhere in this world doing it all right. Motherhood is an imperfect journey by definition. The cleaning routine bounces between great to okay to meh because that’s life.

But still – the Thursday ritual is truly the best cleaning routine I’ve ever tried…and I’ve tried them all in the 15 years I’ve been a parent. 

My sons asked for a checklist so they didn’t have to constantly ask me for their next task. I dream in lists, so was happy (thrilled!) to oblige. 

Momma, I know you’re busy – so I want to save you some of your precious time, and made the family cleaning checklist available to you.

It’s in word document form so you can quickly tweak it to fit your family.  It also outlines both weekly cleaning and a few “deep cleaning” things you should do every Thursday to keep your home sparkling. Grab the checklist and as a bonus, you’ll get monthly encouraging raising tweens and teens emails. They’re free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Read more about the cleaning checklist here.

Read the full Raising Tweens and Teens Series

My oldest son started high school last week and I’m still in a coma because of it. Even though I’ve taught high school for over two decades, I’m confused as to how I’m actually old enough to be a parent of a high schooler. 

Teaching high schoolers has always been a passion of mine, but not parenting them is as well. I could research, write, and talk about this topic until eternity. I hope you are encouraged by some of my articles.

Raising Tweens and Teens

TEACHING GRIT
The Pandemic is Shaping Kids in These 6 Powerful Ways

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
A Simple and Effective Way to Encourage Your Teen

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TWEEN/TEEN
How to Get Your Teen/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”
How to Get Your Tween/Teenage Son to Open Up to You

PARENTING
Parenting is Hard: This One Thought Can Help You Better Thrive
7 Reasons Why Raising Tweens & Teens is the Best
I Will Miss These Years of Raising Tweens and Teens
To the Mom of a High School Freshman

 

Get your teenager to do chores by grabbing the cleaning checklist here.

Get your teenager to do chores and more! Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens.

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community below. 

gifts for moms
more time moms

How to Find Time in Busy Mom Life to Do What You Love (Guilt-free!)

(Inside: Moms, find more time in your busy life to do what you love. When you find that time, learn how to let go of the mom guilt and let that me-time nourish you.)

 

find more time moms
Image by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Moms, do you wish you could find more actual time in your day to do what you love? Do you wish you could shake the mom-guilt so you could better allow your me-time to nourish you?

 

Moms, find more time…

 I talked about this topic at the Put the Me Back in Mommy Summit hosted by Isabelle Bridges. (Fun Fact: Isabelle is the daughter of actor Jeff Bridges.)

I presented on How to Find Time to Do What You Love (Without Feeling Guilty About it!).  I discuss: 

  • My epic mom-crash. 
  • Why taking me-time is not just important – it’s vital! 
  • How to let go of the mom-guilt. 
  • How to find more actual time in your busy day. 
  • How to maximize that time. 

Watch the replay below…

Join the Empowered Moms and Kids Community

And before you go, join the Empowered Moms and Kids community here. I’ll touch base with you once a month with encouragement for moms raising tweens and teens. Plus you’ll get instant access to the Empowered Moms and Kid’s Freebie Library with so much good stuff created just for you!

 

Yes, I want all of the Freebies!
find time moms
Photo by Soroush Karimi on Unsplash
free weekly planner for moms

Working Mom Planner: A Quick Fix to Getting Your Family Organized

(Inside: A working mom weekly planner for busy moms. A planner to help your entire family stay organized and get places on time. )

 

 

I write all of my three kids activities on my monthly calendar and then highlight (using three different colors) each kid’s schedule. 

And in one week, I still missed 

…an ortho appointment. 

…and one soccer practice. 

Gone. I did not remember either at all. 

No wonder the last time I was at the orthodontist and I was sitting in the waiting room right in front of the receptionist, she called me on my cell to ask where I was. “Hi!” (Me waving at her.) “Yes, I’m right here in front of you.” (Sweet lady – she’s not used to me being in the actual waiting room on time…)  

What’s a girl to do when she can’t keep it all straight?

The old-fashioned monthly calendar wasn’t working for our family.

I needed help.

Thank goodness for mom friends and all their good ideas. One of my good friends gave me a tip I’m loving. First, I switched to using a google calendar that synchs with everyone in my family’s phones. But, people don’t always daily look at their phone calendar, so that wasn’t the game-changer.

Here’s where what turned on the lights in our home…

My friend told me every Sunday her family sits down and writes out the weekly schedule. She even shared her spreadsheet with me.  

So, I copied her – and guess what…we’ve had a nice little stretch of making it to all the things…ready for this…on time!  

Weekly working mom calendar so you can see a visual of the whole week and get everyone where they need to be:

I appreciated her calendar, but I needed a little more room in the after-school squares and I wanted to make it a little prettier, so I made my own. Then, because sometimes I can be a “try-hard” (according to my kids), I made a couple more varieties of weekly calendars to best meet what we’re doing that week. 

I know moms in our community, are busy, busy, busy, and I like having time savers and parenting hacks on this site, I’m sharing my glorious weekly calendar with you.

weekly calendar

The life skills we’re teaching when we talk through this working mom planner with our families: 

Moms, when we simply do life with our families, we’re giving our kids important tools they’ll use forever. But I know we don’t think of it that way. We think we’re just doing what needs to be done – so I want to point out all the amazing life lessons you’re teaching(And how awesome you are, momma!)  

When we sit down on Sunday evenings and talk through the family schedule, we’re teaching our kids: 

  • Communication skills 
  • Organizational skills 
  • How to lead their own lives 
  • Ownership in the family 
  • How to work well with others (Team-player skills) 
  • Be intentional with their time 
  • Keep trying until you figure out what works. (Each season calls for different kinds of organization methods. We keep figuring out what works for the “right now.”)
  • And so much moe

Mommas, you’re doing a great job. Keep moving forward knowing your family needs you times a million and then some more.

 

weekly calendar

Let’s stay in touch! Join this community of moms of older kids.

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s a fantastic life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community below. 

gifts for moms

Read the full let go of the working mom guilt and thrive in working mom life series…

I went to college to get my high school teaching degree. I planned to work for a few years, then stay home with babies. My mind was made up.

Except, I didn’t factor in one thing…

I loved my career. 

Furthermore, at my workplace, there were so many working moms that daily showed me how to be great at both your job and motherhood. So, after taking six years off to be home with my kids and fulfill that dream, I chose to go back to work. 

I love being a working mom and I want to imperfectly thrive in it –  I know you to thrive too. Be encouraged through this series on being a working mom.

Thrive as a Working Mom Series

To the Mom Going Back to Work After Being a Stay-at-Home Mom
7 Ways to Thrive as a Working Mom (Let go of the guilt!)
Be a More Organized Mom: How to Care of Your Heart and Your Home

organized mom

Be a More Organized Mom: How to Take Care of Your Home and Your Heart

(Inside: Do you wonder how to be an organized working mom? Or how to be an efficient mom who keeps her family humming and also includes self-care? Read on…)

“I can’t do this anymore,” I stated matter of factly to my husband

I don’t know what made me say it; my defeated statement wasn’t planned. I just suddenly felt tired, even though my-9-months-of-the-year-working-mom-teacher-life hadn’t started yet.

But, I could feel it coming. My three boys and I had scoured Target for the last of the school supplies. We’d found a pack of pre-sharpened mustard-colored pencils here, a pair of shiny scissors there… My sons and I had sifted through their closets, purging the too-small clothes, tucking the summer clothes in the back, and bringing the fall clothes to the front. We’d marked our calendars with their soccer practices and tournament schedules.

However, instead of feeling the excitement and anticipation of the school routine, I felt like the world was closing in on me. Free time felt 9 months away. It was only August, and I felt like I was already suffocating.

I love motherhood, my teaching job, and being busy. But, I’d slipped into doing hectic life by “flying by the seat of my pants” and apparently the “seat of my pants” was done with me. A mental fog had rolled in and grounded my plane. Here I was at the end of summer, about to go back to teaching feeling overwhelmed instead of refreshed.

 

How to Be a Less Overwhelmed and More Organized Mom

13 years of parenting have taught me to listen when my body says, “Stop, I’m tired.” I reflected on exactly what I needed to reignite my zeal for life, work, and motherhood. I found I needed:

  • Daily routines for my family and me to help us all keep up with the housework, laundry, meals. (I needed my home to stay a tad bit cleaner for my sanity!)
  • Daily inspiration.


Even though I even felt too tired to put together a schedule, I knew that if I’d just get started, ultimately, I’d end up with more time and a happier heart. Even if I just got organized for a month (or a week), I knew it’d help.

A good starting point to becoming a more organized mom:

So, I played with a schedule of motivating tasks each day both for my home (organization) and my heart (inspiration.) I didn’t turn this into a rigid routine, rather it becomes my rhythm, my daily hum from about September through February. Then, when I hit March, I’m just trying to hold on to the bronco for the full 8 seconds and ride out the end-of-the-year craziness until blessed summer hits.

And because I love when other moms share what’s currently working for them, I’m sharing what’s keeping my home a little cleaner and my heart a little happier. Here’s the starting point for my routine (subject to be slightly adjusted weekly or daily)…

 

 

organized mom

Give me a printable of this schedule that I can hang on my fridge. 

Happy Home Happy Heart Free Printable!

 

 

**This blog post contains affiliate links**

Monday – Meal Day

Organized Mom Action:

Cook 2-3 meals. Make your family meal for the night and double the recipe. Or cook up a bunch of one kind of meat and make into three different meals. For example, throw chicken breasts in the crockpot in the morning, then in the evening put together these three meals:


One meal is for dinner tonight. Put the second (and possibly third) meal into the freezer to pull out on a busy mom day.


Inspiration Action:

Listen to an inspirational podcast while you cook. Need ideas? I have a list of best podcasts for moms for you here. 

 

Tuesday – Tidy One Area Day

Organized Mom Action:

Set a timer for 15 minutes and clean out one messy area:

  • sock drawer
  • junk drawer
  • mudroom closet
  • bookshelf
  • spice cabinet
  • medicine cabinet
  • straighten shoes
  • or any corner of the house that’s bugging you…

 

Inspiration Action:

During the 15 minutes and while you clean, listen to inspirational music. Take deep breaths during the mindless task and let peace pour over you. Need a recommendation? I swoon over Lauren Daigle’s music. And your kids? Don’t worry – they’ll leave you alone to mentally refuel. They know you’re cleaning and if they get too close, they’ll be asked to join. That’s not until tomorrow babies, so give momma these 15 minutes…

 

 

Wednesday – Pick Up the House Day

Organized Mom Action:

After the family dinner, everyone helps clean the dishes and tidy up the house. There are 5 members in my family, so this is how we break it down:

 

  • Mom & Dad – dishes/kitchen, pack kids’ lunches
  • Oldest Son – straighten his bedroom and the basement
  • Middle Son – straighten his bedroom, the dining room, and the mudroom
  • Youngest Son – straighten his bedroom and the main living room

Basically, every kid straightens his/her own bedroom and one other room in the house.

Inspiration Action:

During the family meal, every person says something encouraging to the family member on his/her right. Y’all  – this world can be haaaaarsh. Let’s intentionally schedule time to encourage each other. Our minds, bodies, and souls crave encouragement. Soak in the sweet words your family says about you. Then encourage them to “get going” on their after-dinner chore with enthusiastic gusto and hope they buy it.

 

Thursday – Clean the House Day

Organized Mom Action:

After dinner, everyone does 1-2 chores to clean the house. Here’s what it looks like in our home:

  • Dad – dishes, pack lunches
  • Mom – bathrooms (I’m psycho about the bathrooms! I have 3 boys – they’ve done their damage, now let me do mine. Hello, Clorox. Or – heaven help me – straight bleach.)
  • Oldest son – vacuum
  • Middle son – sweep and swiffer
  • Youngest son – dust and windex the appliances

Remember the house is already picked up, so everyone can have their choir done in 30 minutes. (Mommas, even if your children fuss, stay strong in requiring them to help. It’s so good for little ones to have chores – it gives them ownership over our home and builds their leadership skills.)

 

Related article: What Moms Can Do NOW to Raise Their Kids to be Leaders


Inspiration:

At dinner, invite your family to express sincere thanks for three “things” in their lives. Reset perspective by facilitating a verbal gratitude journal. I love this quote about gratitude:

“Going ahead in the midst of the stressful circumstances and giving thanks in that moment – you can’t simultaneously feel stress and gratitude at the same time. So as a parent, to go ahead and start to give thanks to God resets the whole family.” Ann Voskamp

Plus, your kids will need a moment to give thanks for their home, because they are about to clean it. Cowboy up, kids – let’s make our home shine.

 

moms get organized

Get a free printable of daily motivating tasks to help you take care of your home and your heart. 

Happy Home Happy Heart Free Printable!

 

 

Friday – Laundry and Refuel Day

Organized Mom Action:

By Friday, I’ve had a busy week. I’ve been responsible for 4 days in a row. And I’m so ungodly tired. Please don’t anyone expect anything out of me. I don’t want to be wise, or hard-working, and at this point don’t care if I’m an organized mom or not. So the most I can expect out of myself is getting 2 loads of laundry through the washer and dryer. And honestly, I’m a morning girl, so this chore usually gets done before I go to work. (Thank you speed wash/dry setting.)


Inspiration Action:

The inspiration is that your family has been organized all week. Your kids have been good. Or good enough. So now it’s their day – grab some pizza, let your kids binge-watch Netflix or rot their brains with video games. This is the day I refuel through blogging and drinking a caramel mocha with Friends on in the background. On YOUR Friday, find something that refuels you:

  • craft
  • movies
  • take a walk
  • take a hot bath
  • read a book
  • do whatever refuels you

 

Saturday – Laundry and Exercise Day

Organized Mom Action:

Again – the only chore I can stomach is another 2-3 loads of laundry. (That usually finishes the week’s laundry for my family.)


Inspiration Action:

Exercise. Walk your dog. Play soccer with your kids. Hike a local state park. Breathe in fresh air and release those endorphins.

 

Sunday – Rest and Reset Day

Organized Mom Action:

Take 45 minutes in the evening to with the family:

  • straighten the house (The whole family helps. Set the timer for 15-20 minutes and encourage everyone to hustle.)
  • pack school lunches
  • kids’ homework is done
  • make sure Mondays gear is ready and by the door


Inspiration:

Sunday is family day/rest day. Most of the day is restful except for the evening when we prepare for Monday. Find time to do something restful:

  • prayer
  • journaling
  • nap
  • Church
  • card game
  • reading
  • Empowered Moms and Kids Meditations for Moms exercise.  

 

How to be an Organized and Happy Mom

That’s it.

Most days, the organizational action takes 30 minutes or less.

You guys – I can waste 30 minutes trying to find a good show to watch on television. We won’t ever FEEL like being organized, so mind over matter here. Know that a little mom organization each day will give us more overall free time during the week and much more overall sanity…and dare I say…JOY!

As I imperfectly continue to work on being a more organized mom, I find that small changes make a big impact. These small daily routines move my thoughts from  “I can’t do this anymore” to “It’s not about perfect, it’s about purpose.” I’m purposefully trying to daily be more organized, and when I fall off the wagon – which OF COURSE – I do…it’s no big deal. I just get back into my routine at some point and it all turns out “good enough.”

(Also to be noted: Different seasons call for different family routines. This might work for you for a month and that’s it, perfect. Onto whatever else your family needs. Mom life is full of flexibility and grace.)

 

Your Turn

What about you? What organization or inspirational daily tasks do you do? Let me know in the comments.

 

organized mom

 

 


Read the full thriving in working mom life series…

I went to college to get my high school teaching degree. I planned to work for a few years, then stay home with babies. My mind was made up.

Except, I didn’t factor in one thing…

I loved my career. 

 Furthermore, at my workplace, there were so many working moms that daily showed me how to be great at both your job and motherhood. So, after taking six years off to be home with my kids and fulfill that dream, I chose to go back to work.

I love being a working mom and I want to imperfectly thrive in it –  I know you to thrive too. Be encouraged through this series on being a working mom.

To the Mom Going Back to Work After Being a Stay-at-Home Mom
7 Ways to Thrive as a Working Mom (Let go of the guilt!)
Working Mom Planner – Keep Track of ALL THE THINGS in style

 

organized mom

 


 

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are.

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community below.

gifts for moms