Two Great Ideas I Stole From Other Parents

Two fantastic parenting ideas you should steal immediately


This post is in collaboration with Del Monte Fusions

Pretty much every good idea I’ve ever had is actually someone else’s idea.

Bart and I were married for five years before we had children, but nearly all of our friends during that time already had children, so we got to watch them before we were doing any parenting of our own.

Our biggest parenting philosophy was stolen from Ralphie and her husband (who we consider some of the best parents of all time). When we commented on how easily their children went to bed, Brian told us, “Our goal is long-term laziness. We’d rather put in a few hard days and weeks to teach our kids how to go to bed and sleep (or eat or potty-train or whatever) than deal with it for months and years.”

We’ve definitely adopted that “long-term lazy” strategy in many areas of our parenting, not least of all because we find that phrase strangely hilarious.

With school starting, I’ve adopted two other great ideas from parents that I admire.

The first one had to do with packing lunches. This was new for me this year, with Ella entering kindergarten. Earlier in the summer, Miranda had mentioned that even though school was out, she was continuing to pack lunches and to pack them for ALL her kids so that when lunchtime rolled around, the meal was ready to go and if they were on the go, they could just grab their lunch boxes and head out for a picnic or to the swimming pool. (Isn’t this the most brilliant thing you’ve ever heard?)

I adopted this for our family by buying two lunch boxes instead of one and every morning when I pack Ella’s lunch, I pack Ani one too.

Two fantastic parenting ideas you should steal immediately

Not only does she love having a lunch like her big sister, but when we drop Ella off at school, we can come home, and I can just pull out Ani’s lunch box from the fridge and let her eat while I go to Star’s room to nurse her and stick her down for a nap.

I try to keep things streamlined by having plenty of easy and healthy options on hand so that making lunches is really more just assembling items. I keep a fairly big collection of various lunch items so that every day is a little bit different. I wash all and cut all my produce when I get home from the grocery store, so it’s ready to toss in, and I try to have one or two fun but still nutritious items that really make them feel like they’re getting something more exciting than a couple of pretzel sticks.

Two fantastic parenting ideas you should steal immediately

Last week, I packed them the new Del Monte Fruit & Veggie Fusions cups, which basically were the highlight of the week (I was delighted that they have no high fructose corn syrup or artificial coloring in them). When Ella got home from school and I asked her about them, she shrugged and said, “Oh, I just love them so much.”

I generally eat leftovers for lunch, but if there aren’t any leftovers, I’ll make a lunch for myself when I make the girls’ lunches and so mine is ready in the fridge too. This has made our days so much easier and it means I can sit down and spend a little focused time with Ani while we eat and it’s just the two of us.

The other genius idea came from Amy of Sunlit Pages who started doing Poetry Snack Time with her kids this summer.

Ella memorizes a poem each week (and I memorize it with her), but I wanted to expose my girls to more poetry of all different types, and wasn’t sure how to do it. When I read Amy’s post, I realized this was the perfect way to incorporate it.

The girls have snack right when Ella gets home from school, and while they are eating whatever they’ve picked for snack, whether it is popcorn or a Del Monte Fruit & Veggie Fusions cup, I choose a poetry book and read them poems until they’re finished.

Two fantastic parenting ideas you should steal immediately

I wasn’t sure how they’d take to this idea, but they’ve LOVED it.

They laugh themselves silly at Shel Silverstein’s poems, ask questions or ask me to repeat lines from Poems to Learn by Heart, or stare at the amazing photographs in the National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry.

We try some new ones and repeat old favorites, and it quickly became a highlight of my day.

It’s been such a wonderful experience exposing my girls to poetry (and making it part of my life too!).

If you have super moments with your kids, pop over to to #ShareTheSuper and win prizes for the whole family (plus, print off a $1 coupon to try the Del Monte Fruit & Veggie Fusions).

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  1. Great ideas! That long-term laziness philosophy sounds right up my alley. Also, I LOVED it when my mom wrote notes for my lunch and I'm sure Ella does too. 😉 I love the poetry memorization thing… How do you do that? Is it a daily routine to work on it? (It's a little early for me to worry about but I've been reading How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare which also recommends daily practice/memorizing of lines. What's your technique?)

  2. I love the idea of reading Shel Silverstein to the kids while they snack. I might adopt this too – they never want to pick those books for reading time but I could pick them for an early reading time instead!

  3. Love the poetry idea. We've been focusing on nursery rhymes during book reading but I think we are ready to move on. Also, I love streamlining food prep. I always pack lunches when we clean up dinner the night before.

  4. We got a copy of the National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry given to us when I was asking around for animal magazines to use for a collage. We love it! We did end up cutting out some pages (the pictures are fantastic!), but I've been surprised how much we have loved the poetry too.

  5. I pack lunch for everybody in the morning too. I usually bring lunch with us to the gym, or wherever we are going, and then the younger ones eat on the way home and we can walk in the door and go straight to nap time. Love it!

  6. Long time reader (pre-Ella) and first time commenter (I don't know why it took me so long!). I just wanted you to know that I really love your sponsored posts. You do a wonderful job of incorporating the product into an informative and, more importantly, entertaining piece. Thank you for all the work you put into this blog!

  7. I wish my kids would eat more veggies in their school lunches! Your lunch ideas are great. What type of lunch boxes are you using? They look really customizable.

  8. Okay, I'm loving the lunchbox idea. I'm wondering why I've never done it before. If I'm going to the trouble of making one lunch, I might as well make three. Now to find a compartmentalized lunch box that I actually like . . .

    I have to say, besides poetry snack time, one of the highlights of the summer was memorizing poems as a family. Some of our favorites were from Ogden Nash's collection of animal poetry (particularly, the panther, termite, and shark ones). What have been some of your favorite poems to memorize with Ella?

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