Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Ten Most Popular Posts of 2016

At the end of every year, I always enjoy looking back and assessing things. What worked for me, what didn't work for me, the goals I achieved, and the goals that got left behind. Part of that assessment includes looking back at the things I've written on my blog during the year and seeing which posts my readers loved. It's never quite the posts that I think they will love, so it's a good exercise in learning what they want!

I am so thankful for readers who come to read any of the things I write! Thank you for helping my blog to find tips for being a more intentional mother and homemaker. This year's top ten is pretty diversified, which I love, because I like to write about a whole lot of different things!

Overstuffed top ten 2016

Here are the top ten posts from Overstuffed in 2016:

10. 7 Middle Grade Books That Teach Kids Empathy

It made me happy to see this post do so well! I want to teach my kids to be a lot of things, but teaching them to be kind and empathetic is at the very top of that list. Reading books is already an excellent way to learn empathy because you are in the head of the characters as you read. You learn to literally put yourself in another person's shoes.

Not only do these books put the reader in the shoes of the characters within their pages, these characters have specific challenges that will open kids' minds to the things that real people suffer. These books have main characters with autism, facial deformities, cerebral palsy, or have suffered tragedies in their lives. They are all set in middle school or similar, so your own middle grade readers will be able to relate.

9. 5 Ways to Get Yourself in Bed Early Tonight

This post was the first habit in my October 31 Days series: Small Habits That Make a Big Difference.

The fact that this post hit the top ten for the year shows me that many of my readers suffer from the same night owl tendencies that I do! My journey with Lyme disease has taught me that sleep is important and that going to bed early helps my health almost more than anything else! This post outlines five simple things you can do each day to get yourself in bed early.

While you're at it, be sure to sign up for the Small Habits, Big Difference emails. You'll receive 30 habits—one a day for 30 days—right to your email inbox. The point is not to master all 30 habits but to work on a few at a time. Little things really can make a huge difference in your life!

8. 9 Screen Free Activities to Do With Your Kids

One of my biggest challenges as a parent is how to get my kids off their dang screens! Since two of my top ten have to do with limiting screen time, I have to conclude that my readers have the same challenge.

This post gives a few easy ideas of things to do when your kids are glued to their devices. I find that I have most of my trouble in the summer time, so most of these ideas are perfect for those long summer days when you have the kids home all day and you don't want them turning into zombies.

Hopefully these ideas will help you think of even more things you can do with your kids without phones and tablets! They may also serve to get you away from the screen, too—I know I'm not the only mom that struggles with her own daily screen time.

7. The Best Way to Save at the Grocery Store

This is a Captain Obvious post, but I wrote it because it honestly had never occurred to me until this year. The Maestro and I realized that our grocery budget was completely out of control and so we decided we would do better at shopping the ads.

Shopping the ads is actually a really good way to save money if you don't want to deal with coupons (and I don't), but using the ads is not as straightforward as it may seem. There is one thing you need to do first in order for this method of saving to be effective.

And once you do it, it becomes the absolute best way to save.

6. Stop Nagging Your Kids to Brush Their Teeth

Sometimes I feel like "Brush your teeth!" is the only thing I ever say to my kids. Before school every morning I am a total broken record: "Brush your teeth! Did you brush your teeth yet? Make sure you brush your teeth. You haven't brushed your teeth, have you? BRUSH YOUR TEETH!"

I hit on a pretty great way to get my very strong-willed youngest daughter who despises brushing her teeth to happily and willingly brush those teeth without complaint. And it is so easy!

Reading this again makes me realize we haven't been as diligent in doing it since we've been on sabbatical. Part of that is our living arrangement, and part of it is that she's just finally better at brushing her teeth on her own. Thank goodness!

5. How I Finally Found a Way to Limit Screen Time Without Being the Bad Guy

Remember how I said that screen time is my biggest challenge as a parent? Well, 2016 marks the year I finally really figured it out. Sort of.

I found a device that makes a huge difference. It doesn't totally eliminate the problem, but it does help in a way that nothing has helped before. I especially like the fact that I am not the one telling them their time is up and opening myself up to arguments and back talk when I do. When it is time to get off of a particular website or app, it simply takes away access.

This device has resulted in more conversations with my kids, more homework being done, and a happier household all around.

4. Visiting Teaching Printables

Every month I make a printable for the visiting teachers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I pull a quote from the visiting teaching message that the church puts out and turn it into something pretty for visiting teachers to take to the women they serve each month.

I've been doing this for three years now, and I have built up a large list of readers who look forward to these printables each month—sometimes even emailing me when I am late posting a new one. I am so thankful that people like them and I am even more thankful that I can somehow help the work of visiting teaching move along for many women.

You can find all my visiting teaching printables here: Visiting Teaching Printables.

3. The Candy Bar Game

I posted this game on a whim when I didn't have time to do the post that I had planned on. It was a huge surprise how much it took off!

This is a super fun party game that one of my friends taught me. We had just played it at Chloe's 13th birthday party and so I had a few photos of the game in action. Terrible photos, but it was the only thing I could think of to post about that day!

The game is perfect for birthdays, new year's parties, family home evening or family game nights, or just for fun. Who doesn't want to race to win as many chocolate bars as you can?

2. One Simple Trick to Keeping Your Purse Organized

This trick has saved my purse from becoming a black hole of random items. Yes, I still have to clean it out on a regular basis—I do have children who tend to put everything they don't want to hold into my purse, after all!

Not only does this post teach you my easy trick for keeping your purse perfectly organized, it also shows you everything that is in my purse. Yes, I know it seems ridiculous to have so much hand sanitizer, but as all moms know, you tend to go through it pretty quickly! And right now I have no hand sanitizer in my purse at all! I've been meaning to go buy some and haven't managed to do it, even though I've looked for it in my purse about 100 times since I've been out!

1. 10 Signs Your Child Has a Toxic Friend

This post is not only my most popular of 2016, it is officially my most popular post EVER. I waited a long time before I finally wrote about Chloe's experience with a girl who turned out to be a bully of the worst kind—the kind that masquerades as a friend.

Chloe gave me permission to write about our experience, and by doing so she was able to help hundreds of thousands of people learn these signs. Not only that, but I had hundreds of people email me their own experience with this type of thing. It goes on way too much—especially among girls, though boys are certainly not immune to this kind of behavior.

As a parent, I am much more aware of the way my girls' friends are acting and I am amazed at how many of their friends exhibit some of this behavior. I am able to teach my daughters how to better deal with it and most of all, they now know that it is okay to walk away and lose a friendship if necessary.

Thank you so much for being a loyal reader here at Overstuffed! Happy New Year!

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Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.

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