The Best Ideas I Ever Stole

Sometimes we have great ideas.
Sometimes other people have great ideas.
And sometimes we look at other people’s great ideas and think, “Yes! I should do THAT!”
Sharing is caring, people.
So, with that, I give you some of the best ideas — big and small — I ever blatantly stole from others.

You’re welcome (on their behalf).

ONE-ON-ONE BEDTIME CHATS (H/T my friend Molly)
When my friend Molly first told me she and her husband talk with their two sons, one-on-one, every night at bedtime, my reaction was something like this:
As an early riser who doesn’t sleep well anyway, I loathe bedtime. By that time of day, I’m at least 45 minutes past “done”.
But dedicating a specific time to connect with each child, every day … well, that’s solid parenting.
So I grudgingly agreed to try it.
And you know what? It’s been fabulous.
Just last night, talking with my son, we celebrated the interception he made while playing football at recess and discussed ways he could prepare for his upcoming class presentation.
My daughters and I have chatted about everything from friendships to lost teeth.
My husband and I swap kids every other night, so each of us gets to talk with every child three to four times a week.
Sometimes our talks are silly, other time serious.
Frequently, my children attempt to drag on the conversations in an attempt to keep bedtime from actually happening.
But always, even on the days I’d rather not, it feels like a loving way close out the day.
When your child says, “Mommy, can I talk with you?”, it’s a good sign that you’re doing something right.
Thanks, Molly.


Almost eight years ago, a dad presented his daughter with a high school graduation gift — Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” marked with letters written by her teachers over the previous 13 years.

And the Internet sighed in rapture.
I then dutifully bought three copies of the book, one for each of my children, and every spring, I ask my kids’ teachers if they’d be willing to write a note.
Alas, and unsurprisingly, I’m not the only parent to filch that idea.
And thus, every April, as I glance sheepishly at all the other copies of “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” piling up on my kids’ teachers’ desks, I apologize while asking: “I’m sorry. I really am. I know you’re busy. But would you mind … .”
I know they’re silently cursing me. (“%*#&! Pinterest.”)
But outwardly they’ve all been gracious.
One day, as my children are exiting childhood, they’ll smile, laugh and tear up, reading and remembering who they have been throughout their lives.
I regret that this project is a bit burdensome for teachers.
But I also know it’s going to mean so much to our kids.

So thanks, North Carolina Dad. And teachers.

We’ve all been drawn in by those social media links that pledge “35 Ways To Make Your Home Sparkle!”, or “The Top 21 Hacks To Declutter Your House!”
Most of the time I say, “That’s a great idea!” and never think of it again.
But some things I’ve actually pursued, including this one: I bought two suction shelves — the kind you’d put in your bath tub — and attached them above our kitchen sink, one on each side of the surrounding cabinets.
Now my hand soap, dish soap and towels are in easy reach, but off the counter.
Inspired by those Internet posts, I’ve also studied my home for unused or poorly used spaces and tried to improve them.
My favorite thus far is this weird space in our basement that’s about five feet long and 18 inches wide. What do you to with THIS?
I’ll tell you — You build THIS:
Floor-to-ceiling shelves to house toys, books, games and more — things we want accessible but don’t want scattered around the rest of our home.
Everything having its own space really does feel nice.

Thanks, social media. You get a bad rap, but I’m feeling nothing but love.

TREASURE TRUNKS (H/T “Little Women”)
Near the end of “Little Women,” Jo writes a poem about the trunks of childhood treasures she and her sisters all kept.
Each was filled with items befitting each sister: “The record of a peaceful life — Gifts to gentle child and girl,” or “headless dolls, of schoolbooks torn, Birds and beasts that speak no more,” “the silver bell, so seldom rung, The little cap which last she wore,” and “slippers that have danced their last.”
My sentimental heart sings.
I don’t, personally, have a treasure chest; I have boxes of things that I fully intend to do … something … with some day.
But as of this Christmas, my children each has a treasure chest of their own.
And, oh, I’m in love.
School pictures. Baptism candles. Rock collections.
The outfit they wore home from the hospital? Art work they want to keep?
It’s all at home in their treasure chests.
My kids love their trunks as much as I do, and the part of me that’s been dreaming of these trunks since reading “Little Women” 30 years ago sighs in pure happiness.

Thanks, Louisa May Alcott. Goin’ strong for 150 years.

WAVING GOODBYE (H/T my grandmother)
OK, so obviously my family didn’t invent waving goodbye.
But one of the indelible marks my nana — now 94 years old — made on my life is this: Every time we’d drive away from her house, she’d wave goodbye from the window until we could no longer see her.
There was just something so loving, and lovely, about that gesture — about taking the time to properly say goodbye, about not rushing back to life as soon as we stepped outside — that’s stuck with me.
Now, with my kids, I’ve kind of reversed it: Every day (almost), when they get off the bus, I greet them at the door, with a smile and “I missed you!”
They have never mentioned this. I’m not sure they even notice.
But, someday, if they find themselves sitting around a table talking about their childhood, I hope someone says, “Remember how Mom used to always greet us at the door?” And they smile.
Thanks, Nana. Love you bunches.
Kirsten is a native Wisconsinite who married a Brit, moved to England and happily ended up in Madison in 2010. She and her husband, Adrian, are parents to Sophie, Charlie and Susannah, who fascinate and exhaust their parents pretty much every day. A former newspaper reporter, Kirsten now supports mompreneurs through her website, She's also a mini-expert on traveling with kids. (Always answer "Should we go to ... " with "yes." Bring toys, snacks and an excess of patience.) She and her family camp every summer, usually in state parks, because they love outdoor living. And s'mores.


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