Why I Get My Middle Schoolers Mobile Phones

I want to start this off by saying I’m not judging anyone for giving or not giving a cell phone at any particular age. This post is strictly the reasons I decided to and my tips, as a mom of 4, who has given their children cell phones with another one coming up here in a few months.

Initially, I had it in my head that my kids weren’t getting cell phones until they were in high school. I figured they’d be more responsible, they’d need it when they started driving, for work, etc, etc. Little did I know how fast my mind would change with 1 incident in middle school.

My oldest son was in 6th grade so, he was about 11 years old. We found out when we moved to our new house that he would have to walk to the middle school which was 1.8 miles away. I worried about that, especially with these Pennsylvania winters. BUT, it was a straight shot on a main road in town. Other kids would be walking too. He would find friends to walk with, I was sure of it. I even walked it with him over the summer before classes started to see how long it would take. On a nice summer day with no heavy backpack it took us 20 minutes! 20 minutes! I worried about what it would be like when he had to trudge through unshoveled snow covered side walks with ice on the ground.

I worried about him a lot. I took him to school sometimes but I was working full-time at the time so it wasn’t always possible. Then my son found a walking buddy and I felt a little better about it.

Then my son starts telling me about these high school kids that would harass him and his friend on the way home. They would call them names, and even threw rocks at them. One day my son and his friend burst through our front door, eyes wide as saucers and out of breath. I knew something was wrong. It turns out, the high school kids that had been harassing them on the way home most of the year surrounded them and pulled a knife on them. They were able to get away but had to run nearly a mile home to get help. There are no pay phones anymore and people just aren’t as open to opening their doors to high school kids. I called the school immediately and we went through a process there.

Well that’s the day I decided my son needed a cell phone. Through trial and error I’ve learned these tips with giving kids cell phones. I also realized how much they’d be staying after school in middle school for sports practices, clubs, or just to hang out with friends.

  • Do NOT start them off with an expensive phone. Pick a free or low cost phone to start with until they learn how to take care of it.
  • Consider getting the insurance. Most insurance is only a couple dollars a month per phone. Though not all insurance plans are worth the investment so be sure to read the fine print.
  • When you get your child’s phone, whether you buy it in store or order online, get a phone case immediately! Don’t even give your child the phone until there is a case on it. There are tons out there that range from a few dollars to over $100. Shockproof, waterproof, glitter, name brand, and designers like Karl Lagerfeld phone case You can usually find something that fits your budget and your child’s personality.
  • Get screen protectors if the case you choose doesn’t have screen protection. I usually buy a budget friendly screen protector on Amazon.
  • Put restrictions on your child’s phone and lay ground rules. If passwords/passcodes are used, make sure you know what they are. Check your child’s phone often. Until the learn how to properly use texts, phone calls, social media etc.

Another thing I’ll add is to shop around for cell phone providers. Not all of them are created equal when you have family plans. We suffered with AT&T for too long. I had the mentality that I was with them for 16 years and never had an issue so why change (other than the exorbitant amount of money we were paying). We finally switched to Consumer Cellular and our bill was literally cut in half. I wish we wouldn’t have waited so long.

I know buying those things for your kids phone seem “extra” but trust me when I say a $15 phone case and $8 screen protector can save you a lot of money in the long run!

I’ve also found more benefits to them having a cell phone over the years. It makes it easier for them to check in with me and for me to check on them. They can get updates from the school’s automated announcements for school closings, delays, etc. When they started driving I’d have them call me when they got to their destination. There’s also tracking apps so I can see where they ACTUALLY are.

This post is sponsored by Diamond Bloggers. Any opinions expressed are my own. This post does contain affiliate links. I will earn a small commission from sales made through my links.

Spin Master Game Night: Headbanz, Upwords, and Grouch Couch

We had the chance to have a Spin Master Game Night through Tryazon. We received 3 different games: Headbanz, Grouch Couch, and Upwords. The are all family oriented board games but as you read my reviews you’ll see which ones might be better suited for your family

We are a family of 6. My kids are 7 yrs, 11 yrs, 16 yrs, and 18 years. So sometimes we have trouble finding family games that everyone truly enjoys.

Headbanz

Headbanz was probably our favorite game out of the 3. This one was so much fun. It’s easy to play right out of the box. The rules are simple. Everyone gets to participate. The kids loved picking out which headband they were going to wear too.

It comes with 6 headbanz making it perfect for our family. The headbanz aren’t made cheap either. They’re flexible, durable, and adjustable with cute designs like a unicorn, pirate bandana, crown, and more.

Pick a card, put it in your head band, then ask questions to see if you can figure out what’s on your headbanz. Oh and it’s times which gives that extra element of urgency. Everyone from my 7 yr old to my husband loved playing this game. We highly recommend Headbanz game. It’s a fun family board game for the whole family.

Upwords

Upwords is recommended for ages 8+. Though I think teens, husband, and I had more fun with this one. My 7 yr old wanted to play but we would have had to help her a lot. My 11 year old could play but would get frustrated at times. So I think this would be a great board game for teens as it’s challenging enough well letting them still have fun. It’s also a fun board game for adults.

I love word games. Upwords game adds another dimension (literally) by being able to stack letter to make new words. There is a play sheet with instructions and letter value. My only complaint is that the letter values aren’t marked on the tiles so I’m hoping we never lose the instruction sheet.

Grouch Couch

My littlest ones loved this game we played it several times since we got it. I think it’s ok. It’s a quick play game. Something you could play in 15 minutes if you’re short on time.

Grouch Couch is recommended for ages 5+. I can see why with the tiny pieces with bright colors that look like candy. The pieces though just add more dynamics and action to the game but aren’t actually a vital piece of play if that makes sense. There’s little coin shaped discs that shoot out every so often which is how you actually win the game. You have to end with the most of those coins.

The kids thought the couch animation was funny. I did find it entertaining. My only complaint with this game is that when the discs shoot out, it’s kinda forceful. Not like, inflict pain forceful but like flying off the table forceful. We were chasing them around the kitchen until we finally wised up and started blocking it with our hands.

All together I think this is a board game for families with young kids. While everyone can play, I think it’s more appealing to youngers children.

Family Fun

All three games were entertaining. I feel like Headbanz is truly fun for the whole family. Grouch Couch can be fun for the whole family but my teens weren’t that into it. Upwords is fun for adults and teens but not meant for younger children or kids that are easily frustrated.

All 3 of these games are under $20 making them a budget friendly game.

I received these games from Tryazon and Spin Master Games at no cost. Any opinions expressed are my own. This post does contain affiliate links. I will earn a small commission from sales made through my links.

Closet Organizing Tips From a Mom of 4

Growing up I was the oldest of 4. We lived in a small house. My sister and I shared a room. My brothers shared a room. Our rooms were far from spacious but it was enough. My mom seemed to be always cleaning, decluttering, sorting. I didn’t understand it at the time. Now that I’m a mom of 4 myself, I get it.

I could talk about organizing for a while. I feel like there’s still a lot of tips out there that I just haven’t learned yet. That’s why I’m sharing mine with you. If I can help one mom keep their sanity then I feel like I did something. While there’s lots of areas of the house to organize, I’m going to stick to closet organization for this post.

When we bought out current house we went from having hardly any closets to having tons of storage space. I thought, “Oh we have tons of storage space. I’m gonna be so organized” Now I wonder how we ever did it with the limited space we had before.

Just yesterday, I cleaned out and reorganized the master bedroom closet. It was a daunting task but I really felt like I did something when I was finished. So here are my favorite closet organizing tips

My Favorite Closet Organizing Tips

  • I go through mine and the kids clothes twice a year. Usually in the spring and again in the fall. We donate clothes that don’t fit and no one else in the family can use. This also gives me a good idea of what the kids might need coming up for the next season. Clothes that are stain, torn, etc are either repurposed as cleaning cloths or are thrown out.
  • Clear shoe boxes. This is my favorite. I get muti-packs when I find them at TJ Maxx or Ross Dress for Less. I can get a 10 pack for 12 dollars sometimes and it’s easy on the wallet. I store my shoes in those. It’s more uniform and visually appealing. I can see into the boxes to see what shoes are in there without having to open the boxes, and it keeps the dust off the shoes I don’t wear as often. They’re not just for shoes though. They’re great for organizing small toys, crayons, hair clips, whatever you can think of really.
  • If it’s not been worn in 2 years, get rid of it. I give myself 2 years. Sometimes there’s just a one size difference. Sometimes I think I’d wear the shirt or skirt in certain circumstances. But, after two years, if I haven’t worn it, it needs to go.
  • Belt/accessory/handbag organizing racks. There are so many depending on space. You can get some that hang on the wall, there’s organizers that hook over the door, there are even some that can simply hang on a clothes rack, like this purse organizer. I just ordered this accordian wall rack for my purses and scarves.
  • When going through your closet have 2 garbage bags with you. One for garbage and one for donations. I fille up a big garbage bag with things like really old pants that the elastic had dry rotted, broken hangers, packaging, expired products, shoes that have seen their better days, etc.
  • If you have a small closet or no closet at all, one thing my mother did was to pack up the clothes at the end of the season, put them in a garbage bag or tote marked with the gender and size and put the in the attic so they could be passed down to my sister, a cousin, or donated to someone in need. This cuts down on the amount of clothes you need to find a space for in the closet or bedroom and it’s not so overwhelming to look at.
  • As I said, in our old house we hardly had any closets or storage space. We ended up finding creative solutions that fit our budget. You can get tons of ideas from browsing storage and organization categories at your favorite stores. From moveable racks, to temporary and shelving solutions that can be cut to fit to fancy closet systems.
  • Everyone helps with their own closet/dresser. This allows your child to have a say. They may want to get rid of something you didn’t think they would. They might have sentimental value in a specific shirt or hoodie. Their room is their space. They should have say in how things are organized, what is donated, etc. After kids learn how and what to do they have sense of pride in taking care of their space which carries on later in life. Plus, things get done faster when the workload is split.
  • Organize like things together. Long sleeve shirts in one space, pants in another space, t-shirts in a different space. Even if it’s just making sections in a drawer.

If you’d like to see more posts like this, let me know in the comments section. Please consider sharing my blog posts with the social share icons at the top or left side of the post.

This post does contain some affiliate links. I will earn a small commission when purchases are made through my links.

Melvin Brewing Scholarship Opportunity: Apply Now

With my oldest son getting ready to start his freshman year of college this fall, I have my eyes trained on spotting scholarship opportunities. Of course, I have to actually get him to apply but at least I can say I tried right? The way I explain it to my son, no scholarship is too small. For every dollar he gets in scholarship or grant money that’s $1 he won’t have have to pay back later. $500 here, $1000 there can make a different in how much needs to come out of pocket for us and how much he needs to pay back later.

Some people only fill out the FAFSA and check with their local college (which is definitely the first and most important steps) to find scholarships but there are so many more scholarships out there. Local clubs, businesses, entrepreneurs, and more will offer scholarships. Some of the more niche or obscure ones can be harder to find. For example, when searching for scholarships, one might not think about a brewing company offering a scholarship but I know of at least one that I’m gonna tell you about here.

Melvin Brewing has been regularly offering scholarships for a couple years now. Since I’ve been writing about scholarships more I’ve been blessed to even have a few places contact me and want me to share about scholarships to my readers. Since we’re a money-savvy bunch I figure you’d want to hear about it.

Melvin Brewing is a brewing company that wanted to “bring the beer of the future” to Jackson, Wy. They started off as a little business but soon grew become award winning brewers. They’ve been in business since 2009. They are a company with heart that are involved in many philanthropy projects.

Melvin Brewing is currently offering a $1000 scholarship to students who are currently enrolled full or part-time in college. To apply for the $1,000 Melvin Brewing Scholarship students need to write a 500-word essay that answers the question, “How do you plan to use the funds from this scholarship in your journey to continue your education?“

It does not say that the applicant has to be 21 to apply only that they need to be enrolled in a college. But, parents should be aware that it is a brewery site.

Apply for the Melvin Brewing scholarship here

Deadline is March 30, 2021. The winner will be selected the first week of April 2021. The winner will have 2 weeks to respond before a runner up winner is chosen.

If you’re business is offering a scholarship open to students in the US please feel free to contact me: Angie at angwith4 at gmail dot com. I’d love to feature your scholarship on my blog. I was horrified to find out that a local club in my community would regularly offer $1000 scholarships to local kids in our school. A friend of mine said her daughter was the only one to apply. When I contacted them about it they actually stopped doing it. I’m not sure if it was lack of interest or lack of funds. But I don’t want a business to stop offering scholarships on lack of interest. Let me help!

This post is sponsored by Diamond Links. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Steps To Take When Looking for Scholarships for College

I have 4 kids. My oldest of which is heading to college in the fall. It’s been a whirlwind experience trying to navigate the whole application process for college and for scholarships. Even though he’s already been accepted and we put money down already we’re still having to take more steps that need completed before he actually starts. Guys he has new student orientation on the 19th! He still has to do some kinds of counseling session in regard to his student loans he qualified for. The whole pandemic thing made this process a little weirder too.

When I thought of the whole scholarship process I thought of it as filling out scholarship application after scholarship application hoping to get just one. Don’t get me wrong, there still plenty you can apply for on your own but the one he got was already applied for when we filled out the FAFSA. Let me explain.

Every year before starting college until college is finished you need to fill out the FAFSA. It’s important to fill it out completely and honestly. This helps schools make decisions on awarding scholarships and financial aid (among other things).

My son actually got a decent yearly scholarship from his college thanks to the FAFSA. As long as he keeps his GPA decent he’ll have the scholarship all 4 years.

My son’s high school also had their own form to fill out for scholarships specific to his school and the area. Colleges will sometimes offers scholarship awards to high school graduates for specific majors too. This was one form to fill out to determine scholarships for many.

In both of these scenarios only one form was needed to throw his name in the hat for many scholarship opportunities. These are the two major things to do . But, it doesn’t have to stop there. You can seek out and apply for individual scholarships as well. There are scholarship specific to majors, hobbies, religion, heritage, geographic area and more.

The David Ebrahimzadeh scholarship, for example, is a scholarship to recognize students seeking a degree in real estate! They’re accepting applications now. So don’t discount your career path in regard to scholarship opportunities.

Also local businesses, clubs, and even your own workplace may offer scholarships. My son applied for a scholarship through my husband’s place of work.

This post is sponsored by Diamond Links. Any opinions expressed are my own.