Category: Cleaning & Organizing

Quit Your Job as the Maid: The Art of the Invitation

***This is the third post in a series called Quit Your Job as the Maid. Post 1, Post 2

Invite SquareYou’re probably thinking “inviting” your kids to do chores sounds like a joke. Sure, we can invite all we want but they won’t do anything unless they are bribed, nagged, reminded, and punished if they don’t. People who talk about “inviting” kids to do stuff they don’t want to do are up in the night.

I hear ya. I think about my two-year-old who is the Queen of Stubborn and think, “Invite her to pick up her toys? Haha..riiiiight.” In fact, one day when I told her to pick up her toys, she grabbed them and started walking toward the toy box. About halfway there, she stopped, threw them on the ground, and started waving her arms in the air and screaming. As if to say, “Wait, what?! What am I doing?! She wanted me to put my toys away and I almost actually did?!”

So then I started thinking about this idea of invitation. It’s so counterintuitive to think that if kids won’t do it when we tell them to, what makes us think they will do it when we ask them to? Except that, it’s also insane to think that the way we’ve been telling them to do it all their lives isn’t working, so we must need to keep doing that. I was ready for a change. She’s not doing it when I tell her to, I guess I could try asking…


Then something amazing happened. She actually picked up her toys! Like, several days in a row now. And it’s funny, I thought I would feel like a grovelling mother who turns all parental authority over to a two-year-old tyrant. But it didn’t feel that way at all. I am confident that if I keep up this patient, inviting parental role, she will continue to pick up her toys. It’s really me I’ve got to worry about. I know how close those raging feelings of frustration are to the surface. If I can keep those feelings under control while I “invite” my kids to clean up, I actually believe they will do it.

Granted, they are young enough to work this reverse psychology on. Older kids will probably get that you’re trying a new tactic, and that’s ok. They will still feel empowered by this process and hopefully more aware of the “why” behind it. Just trust the process and give it a try.

If you’ve been following this series and doing the “homework” then you are aware of what your children are capable of and where they technically should be and are ready to fill in the gap. You should have a list of:

•   What your kids can do and will do

•   What your kids can do but don’t do

•   What they can’t do because they haven’t been trained

It’s important that in these 2-3 observation days, you commit to not reminding or nagging your kids to do anything. This is the only way to get accurate information. If they only do it when you remind them, then it falls in the second column of things they can but don’t do (on their own). This list is an excellent starting point for you to build on what they know and help them create essential habits that will make both of your lives easier in the long run.

As a quick sidenote, don’t expect this to work like magic in one day. Vicki explains that when kids are used to a certain behavior from their parents (ie. yelling, nagging, reminding) and there is a sudden change, they become suspicious. This is a good thing because it gets their attention. Expect them to decline your invitation the first few times. As long as they are in the position of choice, they will feel empowered and will eventually be intrigued by this new way of getting them to do chores. The younger the kids, the easier it will probably be to get them to say “yes.” Keep at it and don’t give up!

1. Choose the time


Choose a time to have a conversation with your child (individually) when you are feeling patient and calm. Remember you may have to have this conversation many times in the future but lay it all out in the open and explain to your child that there are 3 main reasons you are committed to training him to learn how to run a home:

  • He will leave home eventually and it is your job to teach him how to take care of himself and his future home.
  • It is the only way you won’t have to resort to nagging, reminding, and threatening him about helping around the house.
  • If he wants you to spend more time with him doing fun things then you need some help around the house because you can’t do it all by yourself. Would he rather have a mom or a maid?

2. Brainstorm

Brainstorm together tasks and skills your child wants to learn and master. If she is included in this process it will have her even that much more invested and she will feel listened to and validated when it comes to what she knows and what she still needs to learn. Go ahead and point out what you noticed during your observations and see what she thinks about it. You may want to explain that you noticed she always gets dressed by herself but doesn’t always remember to put her dirty clothes in the hamper. 

3. Ask

Let your child make the decision to choose one skill from the list that she would like to learn first. Don’t jump in and say which one you think is best, allow her the power of choosing. This will keep her motivated and eager to learn since she was the one who chose the task.

4. Invite


Finally, invite him to learn how to do it. Next week we will talk about a training approach that sets your child up for success. The art of invitation is where it starts though. When children are in a good place, a place of empowerment and choice, they are so much more eager and excited to learn. When they are coerced to do something unpleasant, the outcome is infinitely different.

Your Homework

Try to talk to each of your children this week and explain that there are going to be some changes. Work through this invitation process to explain why you’re making some changes and to get a clear plan of what they want to work on. 

This concept of extending an invitation isn’t as crazy as it might seem. Think about how you react when someone tells you what to do as compared to when someone invites you to learn something new. Our children are just tiny, emerging adults and if we want to be respected, we must learn to respect them as well. This doesn’t mean we are undermining our authority as the parent or the adult, it just means that we are teaching respect by example.

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What do you think about the concept of inviting our kids to learn new skills? What are your concerns with trying this method?

Signature Yellow2



Invite FB

Cleaning Kits for Kids

Cleaning Kits Square2Sometimes it feels like all kids speak the love language of Receiving Gifts. They always get so excited for any event that involves presents.

Why not take advantage of that and give them a little gift to get them excited about cleaning! This is especially helpful for little kids, if you get your teenager a cleaning kit, he’s probably going to roll his eyes at you 🙂

I made a little trip to the dollar store and for less than $10 I got enough stuff for two cleaning kits for both my kids.

clean Spray3

I also saw some fun stuff on Amazon if you want to be more elaborate. They have little vinyl gloves for little hands (when we get to learning to clean the bathroom, those will be a necessity). They have little brooms and mops that are mostly intended for play but a lot of the reviews said they worked for cleaning up real messes.

Here are the things I included in my cleaning kits for kids ages 4 and 2:

  • 1 small spray bottle (filled with water and vinegar as an all purpose cleaner that isn’t toxic and won’t require an ER visit if ingested)
  • 1 microfiber cloth for drying
  • 1 scrubbing pad for cleaning
  • 1 duster
  • 1 handheld broom and dustpan
  • 1 mini apron (I can’t take credit for this one, my mom made them–cuz I asked her to and she’s amazing like that)
  • 1 bucket to hold it all (doubles as a basket to carry toys from all over the house to their toy box)

Cleaning Apron

Now, I’m not saying that after giving this cleaning kit to your preschooler he will be all about cleaning up every little mess. Well, he might be, for like a day. But just like any other toy, the newness will wear off and eventually you’ll have scrubbers and dusters scattered all over the house. 

This is why I suggest putting this cleaning kit up and being clear, from the get go, that it is only allowed out when it’s time to clean. This will make it special and, hopefully, your kids will be begging for a chance to clean. Well whad’ya know, there might be a secret to getting kids to clean after all!

If you’re keeping up on the Quit Your Job as the Maid series this month, you’re probably starting to realize how much we should be teaching our kids about cleaning. Stay tuned because on Monday, we’re going to be talking about how to introduce this idea to your kids in a way that will set you, and them, up for success. Including this gift as part of your “invitation” to start taking more responsibility will add that much more “cream to the tacos” as my husband puts it. 

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Tell me what you include in your cleaning kits and how your kids respond! 

Signature Yellow2




Cleaning Kits FB



Quit Your Job as the Maid: 3 Stages of Learning

***This is the second post in a series called Quit Your Job as the Maid. Post 1

***This post contains affiliate links. Anything purchased from an affiliate link on this website will result in a small commission for me, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support 

3 Stages of Learning Square

Have you ever caught your kids doing something that you had no idea they were capable of? I think about the time my three-year-old made his own eggs. I was keenly aware in that moment that I wasn’t giving my son enough credit or enough responsibility.

In Duct Tape Parenting, Vicki gives us an excellent visual of how much we should be expecting of our children. She explains the Timeline something like this:


If we realize that we have just 18 years to train our children to be adults, then we must also realize that by age 9, half of that training should be done. That’s mind-boggling isn’t it! Even when I look at my son who is almost 5, I think he is still far away from having 1/4 of the skills to live on his own. If you think this is a little extreme, keep reading to see how these skills are broken down into 3 stages or windows of time. Vicki explains that there are ideal windows in which to learn certain skills and if we follow this layout, we will receive less push back from our kids and they will be more eager and willing to learn at each stage.

Birth to Age 9: Life and Self Skills

washing dishes2

Babies are constantly learning new skills and we hardly have to help them. They are eager to master one stage so they can move onto the next. First they sit up, then they crawl, then they walk, then they run. We are standing by, cheering them on and watching them change before our eyes. If we encourage this learning and refrain ourselves from saving them every single time they start to fall, they will grow up confident in their own abilities.

This window of time is ideal to teach basic self and life skills. This includes:

  • getting themselves up and ready for school
  • being responsible for their own homework
  • cleaning house and doing laundry
  • answering phones and making appointments

  • help with paying bills
  • creating shopping lists
  • learning time management
  • creating their own routines

There is a more exhaustive list in the book and when you look at it, it seems like so much!

In fact, in another part of the book Vicki explains that by kindergarten, her 5-year-old had learned how to get herself up, get ready, make her own cereal for breakfast, pack her own lunch, and head off to the bus, all on her own. Remember however, this kind of training doesn’t happen overnight and in the following posts in this series, we’ll learn how to train our kids and how to determine which skills to focus on.

Ages 10-15: Social Skills


Once our kids are heading into adolescence, they are much less interested in learning how to mop the floor and their life begins to evolve around their friends. This is an ideal time to learn social skills and how to be strong in social situations. These skills include:

  • Making friends
  • Saying no
  • Talking to a teacher about a grade
  • Making phone calls
  • Fighting for what you believe in
  • Accepting those who are different

  • Accepting themselves
  • Defining their identity
  • Exploring new interests
  • Conflict resolution
  • Prioritizing
  • Empathy and compassion
  • Respect

It’s easy to see why so many older kids give us such negative attitudes about cleaning up when it isn’t something they’ve been doing since they were very young. With so much brain power being focused on learning these kinds of skills, it is much harder to devote some of that to learning basic cleaning skills. If it isn’t a habit already in place, it will be so much more difficult to develop during this window of time. We want our kids to be resilient and responsible. We want them to be able to stand up for themselves among their peers. If that’s the case, we need to invest in them when they’re young so that when they get to this stage, they have the confidence and available mental energy to do so.

Ages 16-18: Life Skills and Lessons


Once puberty is on the downhill slide and our kids are approaching high school graduation, they start to realize how much they have left to learn! This small window of time is where a lot of important skills must be learned, many of which are not taught in school. Some of these things include:

  • Buying a car
  • Dating
  • Finding a job
  • Budgeting their finances and opening a bank account

  • Handling offers of drugs or alcohol
  • Choosing a college and applying
  • Following through with plans
  • Resiliency
  • Taking responsibility for their choices

If these skills can be mostly mastered before age 18, think of how much easier your child’s college experience or work experience will be! I remember getting to college and was lacking in so many of these skills that it was completely overwhelming. How could I focus on school when I couldn’t even pay my bills?! I wish I had been a little more ready to deal with those parts of life before I left home.

List of Age Appropriate Chores

For the purpose of this series, I will be focusing on the life skills portion of this timeline, namely ages 0-9. Here is a list of chores or “life skills” most 9 year-olds should possess and a goal for you to work towards with your younger children.

  • Getting up on their own
  • Getting themselves showered and ready
  • Making breakfast
  • Packing lunch and backpack
  • Organizing and turning in homework
  • Washing dishes
  • Doing laundry
  • Cleaning bathroom
  • Making shopping lists

  • Vacuuming
  • Sweeping and mopping
  • Learning how to cook
  • Making bed
  • Answering phones
  • Help with paying bills
  • Making appointments
  • Setting the table
  • Dusting

Once these skills are in place and become habit, it will be much easier for them to continue while learning other, more advanced skills.

Your Homework

Your homework is, over the next week or so, to observe each of your children and to write down, in three different columns, the following: 

1. What your kids can do and will do

2. What they can do but don’t do

3. What they can’t do because they haven’t been trained

It’s important that while you observe, you refrain from reminding, nagging, or threatening. Just simply observe what your kids do on their own and without reminding. This will help you prepare for the next post when we talk about how to invite our kids to learn and do more.

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Does this resonate with you? Do you think it’s possible? Have you tried it?

Signature Yellow2



3 Stages of Learning FB

Quit Your Job as the Maid: 4 False Beliefs that Got You Here

***This is the first post in a series called Quit Your Job as the Maid. Post 2

Maid Beliefs Square2

A couple of Sundays ago, I was frantically trying to clean up what looked like a recent tornado touchdown in my tiny little house because I absolutely hate starting the week in a disaster zone. My husband and kids were sitting on the couch, watching a movie together while I resentfully paraded in and out of the living room carrying everything from orange peels to dirty socks to broken toys. Every time I said, “Hey, are you guys going to help me?!” Without looking up my 4-year-old son would say, “With what mom?” Then my husband would look at me blankly, “What’s left?” My 2-year-old daughter would mutter, “Kween up mom?”

Yes, I wanted to say. Yes, mommy is cleaning up because nobody else seems to care. If I don’t do it, it will never get done. And while you all get to sit and watch a movie on a lazy Sunday evening, I get to run circles around this house putting crap away, wiping up sticky messes, and vacuuming up clumps of dog hair. How delightful!

Yeah I know, I sound a little immature. But isn’t there more to being a mother than just cooking and cleaning? It’s easy to get mad at my husband (however, to his everlasting credit, he helps me out A LOT) but I can’t forget that my kids are every bit as capable as I am at putting their toys away and their dirty clothes in the hamper.

“Never do for a Child, what a Child can do for himself.” –Rudolf Dreikurs

How did I get here?

Let’s get real. We suddenly look down at ourselves and realize we have become the maid, complete with frilly little apron. We want to blame our husband or even the kids but if we’re truly honest, it’s really our fault. Nobody strapped that apron on us, we tied it ourselves.

Duct Tape Parenting

A few years ago, I found a gem of a book called, “Duct Tape Parenting” by Vicki Hoefle. It totally aligns with my beliefs on parenting and the fact that we aren’t only loving and caring for our children (although that is obviously a crucial part), we’re trying to teach them how to become responsible and successful adults.

Most of us didn’t purposefully take on the job as maid. Vicki (do you think she minds I’m calling her by her first name?) shows us there are 4 main reasons, attached to false beliefs, that we end up strapping that apron on without even realizing it.


Belief #1: Kids just want, and deserve, to have fun

MagicI think sometimes we take on the role as maid because we think it is just part of motherhood. We want our kids’ childhoods to be magical and filled with adventure. They’ll have plenty of time to clean up and be responsible when they’re adults, but let’s let them be children.

While I am all for magical childhoods filled with adventure, I am also an advocate for teaching children to work. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Part of being a good mother is teaching your children skills. If you don’t teach them when they’re young, it will be infinitely harder for them to learn when they’re older.

Let’s not be a martyr. Doing everything for our kids isn’t making their childhood more magical, it’s making them feel entitled, ungrateful, and incapable of taking care of themselves. It’s making us feel resentful, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Let’s do away with this belief and embrace the truth of teaching our children invaluable skills. Childhood will still be magical and now, adulthood will be manageable.

Belief #2 I’m faster, better, neater, and a bit of a perfectionist, and it’s just easier if I do everything

I think we’ve probably all had this kind of a moment. You tell your kids to clean the bathroom and you go in to do your business and can’t help but notice all the filth they missed. So you go back over everything they did and come to the conclusion that it’s just better if you do this kind of stuff.

Or you’re running late and instead of taking the time to let your little one tie his own shoes, you just do it for him. Believe me, I’m totally guilty of this. Sometimes it doesn’t feel worth the fight to get your kids to pick up their messes, it’s just easier to do it yourself after they go to bed.

The problem is our kids end up feeling like we don’t trust them to make good decisions or we don’t think they are capable. How many times a day do you hear your toddler say, “I can do it!” If we deny them this learning period, they will never get it back. There’s a reason our kids want to be independent and we need to allow them that. It’s important for them to develop their own tastes and preferences, not just what works for us.

Belief #3 If my kids don’t look good, behave politely, play fair, and do the right thing all the time, I’ll look like a slacker parent with loser kids

GossipWe have pictures of me when I was little, dressed in all kinds of nonsense. My grandma used to call me, “garberetta.” A staple in my wardrobe was slips; of all sorts. I would wear them like dresses with underwear as a fancy hat. I remember fighting with my mom constantly, about what I wore and how I did my hair. I was curling my hair, with a curling iron, by age 3.

Now I have a little boy-me, his name is Misa. From the time he could walk, he wanted to dress himself. He insists on things like “little pants” (meaning, they can’t be long enough to touch the floor) and all sorts of character costumes. He wants me to draw “whiskers” on his face with my eyeliner pencil and before he goes with his dad to feed the horses, you better bet on him wearing every single article of clothing or accessory that resembles a cowboy.

In the beginning, I fought with him and tried to teach him how to match and the fact that hiked up pants that don’t reach your ankles look ridiculous. I tried to explain that we don’t wear costumes to the store, that being an alligator hunter complete with shorts, cowboy boots, gardening gloves, and a cowboy hat was something we played at home and not when we’re out in public.

Suddenly it occurred to me, am I worried about him looking ridiculous or me looking ridiculous for letting him wear all that garb? It was clear that he didn’t care what people thought, not even what I thought! So I let it go. This kid has his own sense of style and it is constantly evolving. He has now learned how to comb his own hair. I try to ignore the fact that it’s all combed in different directions and standing straight up in the back because he thinks he looks handsome. So be it. I’m not going to fuss over him, or my house for that matter, just to avoid dirty looks or judgmental glares from strangers.

When we are constantly worried about how other people see us, or our kids, we are implicitly teaching our children that other people’s views and opinions about us are more important than our own. We are teaching them that appearances are everything. How do you think that will play out when it comes to peer pressure? How do you think it makes them feel that we fuss over them and are trying to mold them into what we think they should be instead of who they really are? If the only reason we clean our house is to appear clean when we have visitors, I don’t think our kids are ever going to get it.

Belief #4: I don’t want my child to grow up and not want me around, so I’ll just make sure she needs me enough

There is nothing like the feeling of being needed. I have distinct memories of holding my babies and breathing in their absolute innocence and knowing I am 100% responsible for this little human being. I woke up multiple times a night to nurse and rock my babies, change their diapers, and sing to them softly.

The thing is, my babies aren’t babies anymore. While they still depend on me, they are becoming more and more independent everyday. On one hand, it’s kind of nice to not have to be counted on for every little task. On the other hand, it kind of breaks my heart to see they need me a little less every day.

However, it would be completely selfish of me to impede them from learning and growing just because I need to feel needed. I think it’s totally understandable how this kind of thing happens but it’s imperative that we see it for what it is and stop ourselves in our tracks before we sabotage our children’s growth. 

Children will always need their mother, especially if that mother has taught them to believe in themselves. It is a totally irrational fear to think our children won’t come around when they’re older unless we keep them shackled by keeping them incapable.

If we continue with this kind of thought process and continue to do for our kids what they can do for themselves, we will hinder their growth and they will become resentful. It will get to the point that they will either rebel or become incapable of making decisions on their own. Do we want our kids to be willing to sabotage their own happiness in order to keep mom happy? I certainly doubt it.

Why should I quit?

Emotionally Available

“You can be the maid or you can be emotionally available to your children, but you can’t do both.” –Vicki Hoefle

I know that it is much more important to me that my children know they can talk to me, that I love and care about them, than it is to have my house clean.

Not only that, I want my children to grow up to be responsible, capable adults and those kinds of skills are not often taught in formal education. It is my responsibility to teach my children how to survive in the real world. It starts at home.

Kids want to be self-sufficient, feel capable, and take ownership of their lives. They want to be responsible but if we aren’t letting them because we’re being the ultimate “Helicopter Mom” meaning we’re constantly hovering around them and checking up on everything, they’re just going to get frustrated.

I want to live in a balanced home where everybody knows how to contribute, in their own way. I want my children to learn how to care for themselves and pick up their messes. This will allow them to learn and allow me to take a breather in order to ensure I am more patient, open-minded, and loving to my children.

What changes will I make?

This month on the blog, I am focusing on quitting our job as the maid. Each Monday I will be sharing more thoughts on this subject and how to actually execute a plan in order to teach and motivate our kids to help with the housework. Everybody’s situation is different depending on the number of children we have, their different ages and developmental stages, as well as how our home is set up. However, the techniques we will be talking about can be used with all children, no matter what age.

If you want to get the book “Duct Tape Parenting” and read chapters 3 and 8 on this subject, it will be most helpful. The entire book is great but these two chapters are genius when it comes to teaching our children how to care for themselves and keeping us from going insane!

I know I am always searching for ways to be a better mother. Not because I feel like I’m a terrible one, but because my children are my responsibility and I only get this one shot at guiding and leading them into adulthood. I hate to let trivial things, like a clean house, get in the way of spending time with them or listening to them when they want to talk.

One day while vacuuming my kitchen, my son, who was only a year old at the time, came in the kitchen holding a book and said, “Mommy! Weed!” At first I said, “Just a minute buddy, let me finish vacuuming…” Then I looked at his little angel face and immediately turned off the vacuum, scooped him up, and we went to his room to cuddle on the rocking chair and read a book. I don’t EVER want housework to get in the way of making memories with my children.

That being said, I also know that my anxiety level goes waaaayyyy down when my house is clean. I feel like a better person all around and have more patience in general. However, it isn’t my sole responsibility to keep my house clean all the time, I need to share the love and allow my children to learn in the process. I hope you’ll try it too!

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Am I the only one who is like this? What does housework look like at your house? Do your children help? Is it a screaming fight or do they do it willingly?

Signature Yellow2

Maid Beliefs FB


50 Ideas for “No Light Hours”: Take advantage of the fall time change

Nighttime squareIt’s easy for someone like me, who prefers warm weather and being outside, to get depressed that the time has changed and winter is on its way. However, this time I am oddly optimistic about what I will accomplish with no outdoor distractions. After spending a summer outside building and painting furniture, fixing roofs, and gardening, I’m kind of looking forward to an excuse to stay indoors for a while. Here are 50 ideas to occupy your extra nighttime hours and keep you away from trash TV.

Take up a new hobby

1. Learn to crochet
2. Learn to play an instrument
3. Practice cooking more delicious and healthy meals
4. Go the other route and learn to bake delicious and indulgent treats
5. Read more
6. Take up writing or at least journaling
7. Learn to sew
8. Learn a new language
9. Take an online course
10. Learn to make and bind books
11. Take up scrapbooking
12. Learn how to coupon
13. Learn a new style of dance (maybe you could get your spouse to join in it with you)
14. Make jewelry

gamesMore Family Time

15. Play board games or other physical games like Hide-and-Seek
16. Do puzzles together
17. Go on night drives to see the Christmas lights, make sure to bring hot chocolate
18. Have movie nights at home with popcorn
19. Learn to ice skate together
20. Go bowling
21. Build forts in the living room
22. Exchange foot massages
23. Take treats to a neighbor
24. Learn some songs together and sing them to elderly folk at a nursing home or assisted living center
25. Plan and prepare Christmas for a less fortunate family
26. Just talk over a mug of hot chocolate


More Personal Time

27. Take a bubble bath
28. Have a spa night with homemade spa products
29. Go to bed earlier and reap the benefits of beauty sleep
30. Exercise or go on a night walk, just bundle up and wear reflective colors
31. Find a new podcast or audiobook to listen to while you clean or work on a project
32. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
33. Take up meditation
34. Window shop or browse online shops
35. Think about and write down your goals
36. Write a real paper and pen letter to a friend and mail it

Work on indoor projects

37. Paint a room in your house (or all of them!)
38. Paint a small piece of furniture
39. Read this book and declutter your home
40. Fix things that you haven’t gotten around to fixing yet
41. Go through cabinets, drawers, and closets that have needed it for a while now
42. Sell stuff you don’t need online
43. Put together a cookbook of your family’s favorite recipes
44. Make all homemade Christmas gifts this year
45. Make an inventory of your stockpile or food storage, if you have it, and decide where you’re low
46. Organize old, printed photos and keep them in a safe box that will protect against aging and yellowing
47. Organize digital files and photos and back them up
48. Make a password reminder list to help you remember all the different usernames and passwords you have. Protect the document with an easy-to-remember password
49. Clean out your filing cabinet or make a filing system if you don’t have one
50. Organize your brain by reading this book and following through with what it teaches

Let me know if you try any of these and how it goes. Do you have any other ideas? What’s your favorite way to spend that extra time indoors?
Nighttime FB