Easy DIY Nap Mat Tutorial

Check Out This Easy DIY Nap Mat Tutorial!

This is the best easy diy nap mat tutorial! If I can do it, anybody can! Make these adorable nap mats for your kids. FYI, I originally made these nap mats back in 2010 and they are still going strong in 2018! My kids obviously don’t use their DIY nap mats as much nowadays, but we do find uses for them.

(Originally posted in August 2010!)

My children attend a Mother’s Day Out program (that I also work at!) two days a week during the school year. Since Noah is almost 3 1/2, he has been sleeping on a nap mat at school since last year*.

Lizzie on the other hand is only 18 months, so imagine my surprise when they said she would be sleeping on a nap mat as well! While I wish her teachers all the luck in the world with that (seriously, I do. I taught this age group last year and was lucky enough to have them in cribs), I figured I might do something to help them out.

I had been wanting to make Noah a new nap mat since his wasn’t very padded and I wanted him to be more comfy. So I just made two! I mean if you are already making one…

Related: Did You Know I Taught Myself How To Sew? 

I loosely based the design on the tutorial here. My kids are super attached to their blankies, so I didn’t attach a minky blanket.

I also decided I didn’t like the order of the steps from pretty early on, which lead to me changing something else and something else….
That’s pretty much how I roll though when it comes to tutorials.

So this is the result!

These 2 nap mats cost me what one would have cost if I had paid someone to do it for me. The embroidery on these alone would have probably added another $8 to each mat.

Sometimes it’s worth the time and the effort to do it yourself. Not only does it save you money…look at how HAPPY those kids are! And over something I made them. Priceless!

Be sure to check out this awesome nap mat tutorial!

Update 2018 – My kids still have these nap mats. They are now 9 and 11, but we still find a reason to pull them out every once in awhile. They are still holding up just fine!

FYI, I have some other sewing tutorials housed right here on Family Friendly Frugality! Check them out!

How to Make A Peasant Dress

How to Make Basic Wide Leg Pajama/Boutique Pants

How to Sew A Ruffle Dress

How to Applique

*I shouldn’t say Noah “slept” on his nap mat. To my knowledge he did not nap ONCE last year at school. They did say he stayed quiet though….

Make Your Own Paint Recipe! Homemade Doodle Paint

Make Your Own Paint Recipe

This DIY make your own paint recipe uses ingredients you likely already have in your pantry right now! This fun paint recipe for kids is super easy to make and there are endless possibilities for your kids to create! Even better, it is technically edible paint, so even your littlest ones can experiment!

My kids love to paint! We go through a lot of paint in this house, so when I saw this super easy make your own paint recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it out right away.

First off though, I had to track down some squeeze bottles. I ended up using the Wilton Cake Decorating squeeze bottles (they are super cheap on Amazon!) that I found at Michael’s. Everything else I had in my kitchen already.

Or so I thought. 

For this recipe you need equal parts salt, water and flour. 

Apparently, a little birdie in this household has misplaced or thrown out my table salt however, so I was forced to make do with Kosher salt.

I’ve never made this particular recipe before, so I’m not sure how it usually turns out if you use table salt, but the measurements used here don’t exactly work with kosher salt!

Because of this, I had to do some trial and error and ending up finding a balance that worked well for me.

So my recipe uses Kosher Salt, but head on over to Delaware County Mom’s for the recipe that uses table salt 🙂

Make Your Own Paint Recipe

Inspired by Delaware County Mom’s



1. Since I didn’t have a funnel, I used the measuring cup that came with my immersion blender to mix the paint in since it has a good spout:

2. Measure out 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup kosher salt, 3/4 cup water and stir together until it’s not lumpy at all. I learned the hard way that if there are any lumps…it will stop up the doodle bottle!

3. Add some food coloring or food gel to turn the paint the color you desire and mix it. I had to use a pretty decent amount of food gel to get the bright and vibrant colors I was going for!

4. Make sure the consistency is paint like. Not too thick, not too thin. Add a bit more water if it’s too thick.

5. Pour it into the clear bottle.

6. Doodle to your hearts content!

Now, kids will enjoy these but I definitely recommend supervising this activity closely, especially if your kiddos are as young as mine. Guide your children to not squeeze too tightly and to spread the paint all over the paper. It does take awhile to dry and the thicker they put it on, the longer it will take.

It’s a really fun activity though and if you can include your children in the making of the paint, it will make the experience that much more special! 

And not that you would want your kids eating it…but it’s made with all edible ingredients so it won’t hurt anyone! (my make your own play dough recipe is also edible!)

You might consider letting your kids use this paint in my “No Mess Allowed Painting” activity as well!

Let me know if you try this out! I’d love to hear your results!

Tot Tuesday: Countdown to Halloween Friendly Witch Activity!

Halloween Countdown Activity

Tot Tuesday is a weekly feature where I highlight a special kids activity, frugal recipe for kids, kids tutorial, etc.

My kids are READY for Halloween. My son can barely contain his excitement and every day he rushes in to ask, “Is it Halloween today!?”.

Seeing as he started this bit midway through September, I knew we had a long 30+ days before I could finally say, “Yes, Halloween is TODAY!“.

Last year, we had an advent calendar for the children that really helped our children build up anticipation for Christmas, so I figured why not do the same for Halloween?

I was browing on Pinterest one day and found this adorable Halloween Countdown Calendar and just had to make it!

(are you on Pinterest? If you are, definitely make sure you are following me, and if I see you follow me, I’ll follow back!)

It’s super simple, this is all you need:

  • Black and green construction paper for the hat and face(I just cut two triangles. In hindsight, my hat triangle should have been wider then my face triangle); also I made a pointy witch nose from the green paper.
  • Purple and yellow construction paper (for the hair, just cut long thin strips)
  • Glue
  • Googly Eyes
  • tape
  • black marker

Make enough hair “ringlets” as there are days left until Halloween and begin the countdown! Each night, allow your kids to cut (or tear) off one lock of hair!

My kids LOVE our witch and we have our displayed on our refrigerator right next to our magnetic Jack O Lantern!


Did you enjoy this activity? I’d love if you Pinned it!Pin It

Thanks Baby Center for the fun idea!

Fall Bucket List Ideas for Families!

Do you LOVE fall like I do? The promise of cooler weather always gets me excited to check off items on our Fall Bucket list! This fall bucket list is perfect for families. Great fall activities for kids, for families and all include spending time in nature! (because let’s face it, it’s finally cool enough to go back outside!). Don’t miss out on these super fun fall bucket list items and make some memories with your family today!

In many parts of the country it’s starting to cool off, leaves are starting to change and fall is taking over.

Now I live in south Texas so it’s still as hot as a griddle set to high heat, but we’re seeing some improvements!

The pool water isn’t boiling when we get in, our car thermometers read only 2 digits instead of 3, and if you wake up early enough you can maybe wear pants outside without melting out of them.

The promise is there though. The promise of the cool weather, of the holidays and best of all…cool weather fun!

(looking for some great fall recipes? Be sure to check out this Easy Pecan Pie Bars Recipe or this Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookie Bars Recipe. Looking for some warm comfort food? Check out this recipe for Copycat Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni or Chicken with Rice!)

The fall is one of our favorite times of the year as a family. We have a fall bucket list that we try to fulfill every fall!

Here are some of our favorite Fall Bucket List Activities:

1. Pumpkin Patches:


Starting October 1st, you can’t go 2 miles without hitting a pumpkin patch. They are held by churches, local farms, floral shops, I’ve even seen some attached to grocery stores!

We typically buy our pumpkins through the Mothers Day Out (note: now years later…we buy them from HEB – our local grocery store) that I work at/the kids attend because we get really big ones for a really fantastic price. But pumpkin patches can still be a lot of fun.

They usually have really nice settings for great pictures and sometimes they have games.

There is a farm we go to here in Houston every year named Dewberry Farm. The pumpkin picking is almost an afterthought there! There’s an enormous haystack to climb, playground equipment, farm animals, and wildflower fields. There’s also a huge corn maze, it’s really an amazing place.

To find a pumpkin patch in your area you can visit  Pumpkin Patches and More.

2. The zoo!

We LOVE the zoo. We buy a season pass every year and use and abuse it all fall and spring long. We pay one time and for the rest of the year we get to have a great family fun activity for free.

Best of all, we don’t have to buy anything when we’re there since they allow us to bring in our own food. To find a zoo or aquarium click here.(I know some people have free zoos, if so…take advantage! What an awesome opportunity!)

Houston Zoo membership is $80 a year for a family of five. When you consider you might spend that amount in one outing if you go someplace where you have to pay for admission AND food…it’s really a fantastic deal, and the money goes to support the zoo!

3. Fairs, Festivals and Picnics…oh my!


Fall is the time for Halloween carnivals, fall festivals, company picnics and so much more! Take advantage of these free outdoor events and bring your own drinks and treats and soak in the sights.

It’s easier to avoid spending money with younger ones that don’t quite understand yet that all you have to do is pay some money to get the yummy junk food or the big toys. But even with the older ones, you can try setting clear expectations about what you are willing to spend and what you aren’t willing to spend.

Walk in with cash and once the cash is gone…it’s gone!

Take your camera too, we are big picture takers and some of our best shots are at events like these because the kids are just having so much fun!

We love Texas Ren Fest, the Ballunar festival and in addition to my husband’s company picnic we also enjoy going to Discovery Green for a family picnic.

4. The beach! Or the lake! Or the creek!

…whatever is closest to you!

When it is too cool to go in the water, beaches are often pretty empty of beach goers. Which is the perfect time to go! Grab your sand toys and go run around and play!

We aren’t big fans of the beach in summer, too crowded, too sandy and I have an incredibly irrational fear of birds. It never fails that some well meaning family next to us will decide to feed the birds and our trip ends up cut short (seriously people…go away from other families when you feed birds on the beach! I have an INTENSE, almost comical, fear of birds)

We’re about 35 minutes away from Galveston, so that’s generally where we head when we want to go play by the ocean!

5. Take a road trip.

Fall is the perfect time of the year to just take a short road trip.

Pick a town a bit out of normal driving distance and head on over to check out the sights. Pack a picnic lunch and some fun books and toys for the kids and listen to some good music.

The time I spend with my family in the car sometimes feels so much more focused and precious than time spent at home when I have 50 other things on my to do list. Play car games, sing songs, and just enjoy time as a family with no interruptions.

What do you do in the fall? Share your fall bucket list below!

Tot Tuesday: Magnetic Jack O Lantern For Your Fridge (Only 4 Supplies Needed!)


Well hello there Mr Pumpkin.

Tot Tuesday is a weekly feature where I highlight a special kids activity, frugal recipe for kids, kids tutorial, etc.

My son is 4. This year, he seems to be Halloween obsessed already. We recently went to a Halloween store that popped up randomly in a strip mall near us (does that only happen in Texas? Random Halloween shops taking up abandoned buildings for 2 months every year?), and it was so exciting to see him push a bit past his fears and loudly assure us (as well as himself) that it was all just pretend and oh so silly!

Still, he’s 4. A lot of Halloween decorations are a bit too spooky for him. I also have a 2 year old girl, who is mega tough, but not a fan of ghosts and ghouls (unless they have fabulous shoes of course).

This left me with a bit of a dilemma. I want to deck the FFF Family halls with awesome Halloween decorations, but I want them to be cute and fun for my kids. Not scary or spooky.

So I Swagbucks searched ( 😉 ) some kid friendly Halloween decor craft ideas and came up with a bunch of goodies! I went armed with a coupon to my nearest crafting store and bought the supplies. Today we did our first craft. Oh boy was it a blast!

My kids love playing on the fridge with magnets. They have an older version of this LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Alphabet Set  and they love to put in the letters and listen to the sounds and the alphabet song. Really though, they look that it’s MAGNETIC. What is it with kids and magnets?

Regardless, when I saw this awesome Happy Jack tutorial on Disney Family Fun…I had to try it out!

It’s basically just a magnetic jack o’ lantern that you make from super simple supplies:


How to:
Gather Your Supplies
Glue the orange paper to one sheet of magnet. You can make your pumpkin more pumpkin shaped…or you cheat like me and just round the corners. Cut a bit of a triangle out for the stem.
If you are lucky enough to find magnet that is black on the front…you won’t need to cover your magnet with black construction paper. Otherwise, cut out a few different eyes, noses and mouth (and a stem!) and glue them to the magnet. When the glue dries, cut out the pieces.
Stick it on the fridge
Make a cute face on it before you call the kids over.
Watch what they come up with!

If you have older children, they can probably help with the cutting and drawing of eyes, noses, mouths, etc. Since mine are so young, they mainly watched and enjoyed the finished product! I’m so excited for this craft and can see us making something like this for every holiday!

FYI: This craft uses magnets. Magnets are VERY harmful if swallowed. Use caution if you have little ones in your home.

If you decide to attempt this project, I’d love to hear about it! Either leave me a comment or send me an email with a link to where you blogged about it at heather @ familyfriendlyfrugality.com

DO YOU have a great Halloween craft, tip or tutorial you’d like to share with the Family Friendly Frugality audience? Shoot me an email and if I love it, I’ll share with my readers! 

Finding Age Appropriate Chores for Your Kids

One grape for me...one grape for you...one grape for me...

What are age appropriate chores for your kids?

Recently, a friend asked me: “What are age appropriate chores for your kids? They are still so young. You don’t expect them to vacuum or anything, do you?

We had been chatting about housework, and how I kind of hate it. (oh gosh I do)

She mentioned that I had just a few more years until the kids could start helping with chores.

I laughed and told her they’ve had “chores” since they could sit up!

Now, I’m a big believer that everyone needs to pitch in to keep a family running smoothly.

Each extra body you add to your household increases the overall workload when it comes time to do laundry, shop and prepare meals, and general daily household maintenance.

So the question is, what are age appropriate chores for your kids?

The answer?

Whatever they are developmentally/physically capable of, that helps the family run a bit more smoothly.

♥ For a small baby that can barely sit up, this might just mean putting their toys into the bin for you while you hold it right beside them.

♥ For a 3 year old, this might mean picking the grapes off the vine to put into containers for easy snacking.

♥ For a 5 year old, this might mean doing a quick run through the house each day to find any stray laundry that needs picking up.

How do you know what qualifies as age appropriate chores for your kids?

Ask them to do something and see if they can do it! 

Now, I will say…this probably only works when they are young. When they are older and they “catch on” to your sneaky chore preparedness testing…they might just play dumb, “Oh mom, I just can’t do this. It’s way too hard.”.


If you try, and it’s MORE work for you, they likely aren’t ready. You can either try when they are older, or consider it something that you do together while they learn.

If you give them a task and you don’t have to do more than observe and maybe answer a few questions though? They are probably ready!

So much of parenting is just listening to your instincts, and yet nowadays we have parenting advice screaming at us everywhere we turn!

Ignore the charts, ignore what everyone else is doing, and just observe your kids in their play and in situations they are comfortable in.

You learn so much when  you just sit back and watch your children play! That’s when they really shine and sparkle!

If you see that they love to play in their kitchen, bring them into the big family kitchen with you and find something (safe) for them to do.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am not going to give you a nice little chart entitled: Age Appropriate Chores for Your Kids

Every child is different and every family has different needs. I also think charts like that are just designed to make parents feel bad about themselves and their kids. I’m also not qualified to give parenting advice to anyone. So all I could do is say what’s worked for me. Since my oldest is 4…well, that would be a short little chart.

Let your kids be kids, don’t give them a 50 page ” To Do ” list! However, don’t feel bad about telling them they need to pitch in. A family isn’t the burden of one or two parents.

It’s the beautiful mixture of everyone in the household, and everyone should pull their weight (even if they only weigh 30 lbs!).

How do you find age appropriate chores for your kids?


Cinnamon Toast Recipe: A Special Good Morning Treat

Enjoy this Cinnamon Toast Recipe: Pin if you like!

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This post is part of the Tot Tuesday series. It’s also included in the recipe section

This morning, I wanted to make something a bit special for the kids for breakfast. Every once in awhile I like to do something “treat like” for them. Usually it’s on special days (like the cake batter pancakes for my daughter’s birthday). Sometimes though, it’s just because I love them and want them to feel special!

It’s usually something I wouldn’t serve them everyday, and it usually is on the sweeter side!

This Cinnamon Toast Recipe is something that my husband’s Nana made for him when he was a little boy, and it’s very special to him.

I decided to make the kids some Cinnamon toast made using the cinnamon toast recipe my husband taught me.

Who was taught by his Nana 🙂 .

All you need is about 5 minutes and some cinnamon, sugar, butter & bread for this cinnamon toast recipe.

♥ Turn the broiler on in your oven.

♥ Lay some foil out on a baking sheet.

♥ Throw some slices of bread onto your baking sheet and add pats of butter (he said you shouldn’t spread it too much! You want some parts to be a bit more buttery. 😉 )

♥ Mix some sugar and some cinnamon together and sprinkle over the toast until it’s all covered thinly.

♥ Throw under the broiler until it browns and caramelizes!

♥ Take it out and serve (it will be hot so give it a couple minutes to cool!).

We don’t toast the other side of the bread for this cinnamon toast recipe.

Don’t ask why though.

I’m honestly not sure why, but I think it tastes better!

The kids GOBBLED it up!

They loved it!

I hope you will too!

Cinnamon Toast Recipe: A Special Good Morning Treat
#ratingval# from #reviews# reviews
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Heather
Prep time: 2 mins
Cook time: 3 mins
Total time: 5 mins
Enjoy this easy Cinnamon Toast Recipe. It just takes 5 minutes!
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar
  • Bread
  • Butter
  1. Turn the broiler on in your oven.
  2. Lay some foil out on a baking sheet.
  3. Throw some slices of bread onto your baking sheet and add pats of butter (he said you shouldn’t spread it too much! You want some parts to be a bit more buttery. )
  4. Mix some sugar and some cinnamon together and sprinkle over the toast until it’s all covered thinly.
  5. Throw under the broiler until it browns and caramelizes!
  6. Take it out and serve (it will be hot so give it a couple minutes to cool!).
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Building Self Esteem in My Children – By Failing

Building Self Esteem In My Children – By Failing

Building Self Esteem in My Children – By…Failing? You might be wondering about that title up there.

Trust me, there’s a method to my madness…so stay with me for a bit.

Do you enjoy trying new things?

Do you enjoy failing new things that you try?

Probably not. I’m willing to bet very few of us actually feel encouraged when we try something new and immediately fail.

It’s rather deflating!

However, being human means that we’re not going to be perfect at everything.

The only certainty that we can count on, is that the real failure is when we fail to try at all.

Think about that for just a moment. Really ponder that sentence and think about the implications it has for us as parents. 

Building self esteem in my children is probably one of the most important tasks I feel I have as a parent. When I envision the future I want for my children, they aren’t meek and mild or unwilling to take chances.

I want them to be confident. I want them to be adventurous. I want them to try new things, accept change easily and adapt with relative ease. Building self esteem in my children now when they are young and impressionable could potentially be the key into growing them into successful grown up people one day.

Are you showing your children that trying, regardless of the outcome, is success?

Or are you shielding them from your mistakes…and your failures?

It’s tempting to only show my kids Ms Perfect Mommy. Ms Perfect Mommy never makes mistakes. She never gets her feelings hurt. She never tries something that might end in disaster. She never ever lets her children see her fail.

What does that show my kids though? It shows them a small piece of the big picture. It shows them that mommy only does safe things. Or worse, the illusion that mommy never fails, sets my children up for unrealistic expectations in life. Tells them that failure is not an option…mommy never failed, that must mean it’s wrong to fail.

No No No!

I am building self esteem in my children by showing them that failure is nothing but an ugly word for LEARNING.

Learning is a good thing, right? It’s always a good thing to learn. Even when the things we learn are hard. Even when the things we learn are uncomfortable…awareness and education are never bad.

How Am I Building Self Esteem In My Children?

Being silly and goofing up is a great part of life.

How am I building self esteem in my children day after day?

♥ I love them. And I don’t just tell them…I SHOW them I love them through my actions.

I tell them/show them I’m proud of them.

♥ I make mistakes and I admit to them.

♥ I let them see when I’m disappointed.

♥ I let them see when I’m hurt.

♥ I’m realistic about what they can handle. When my father passed away, I let them see me grieve, but only to a point.

♥ I try to be as honest with them as I can.

♥ I try to say yes, or “what about this?”…, or “I’ve got another idea”. BUT when the answer is no, it’s no…and they have to learn to be okay hearing it.

♥ Most importantly…I let them see me try.

What it all boils down to is being human, letting your kids see that you are human and having the patience and the grace to forgive yourself and others for mistakes and move on and grow.

Time will tell if my methods for building self esteem in my children will pay off.

I have one child who loves to try new things and views failures as mere roadblocks she needs to work her way around. I have another who often gives up before he even gets started, but who excels and progresses in his own time, on his own terms.

What does that say about my efforts at building self esteem in my children?

They learn so much from what we DO, very little from what we say...

What this says is that my husband and I still have a lot of years of parenting these kids in front of us (yeah the husband is integral to this whole parenting thing too 😉 ).

It’s scary to think about failing THIS. This parenting thing.

The important thing though? The thing that will make the biggest difference in our children’s lives?

That we TRIED.

Now, I’m hoping and praying that our efforts at building self esteem in our children do not result in a failure. I don’t think they will. I feel good about the big picture here.

I’m sure we’ll fail along the way though. Those moments will be learning moments. Not failures.

See how it all comes full circle?

This is how I’m building self esteem in my children. I’m building them up, so the world can’t ever tear them down.

How are you building self esteem in your children? Tell me in the comments.

 Tot Tuesday is a (mostly) weekly feature where I highlight a special kids activity, frugal recipe for kids, kids tutorial, etc. Want to contribute? Email me heather @ familyfriendlyfrugality.com.


Tot Tuesday: Boredom Busting Busy Bags

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My son has started the dreaded, “…but what am I supposed to do!” when we turn off the TV, his video game, basically stop him from doing whatever fun thing he was doing that needed a time limit he didn’t agree with.

It’s frustrating because we have a playroom FILLED with toys. Too many toys.

Now, I know part of this is my payback for MY OWN “I’m bored” whining when I was a kid.

I can now relate to my parents incredulous looks and eye rolls when I’d lament that I had absolutely NOTHING to do.

The thing is, it’s not that my kids don’t have enough to do. Most likely they have TOO much. Sensory overload, so they just don’t try! Not only that, but having their toys all so readily accessible for them at all times means that they actually do play with all of their toys a lot.

I read about busy bags about a year ago and thought it was a really cool idea. Only problem was that I made the busy bags and then I made them readily available to my kids!

Plan backfired.

The secret to busy bags is to hide them away and ONLY pull them out when you truly need your kids to be “busy” (important phone call, long car ride, etc). Otherwise, you keep these bags out of sight and out of mind!

Pretty much anything goes when it comes to building your busy bags.

Here are just a few of the busy bags I have made up currently (keep in mind I have a 3 and 4 year old):

Flash cards w/ magnet letters
Sorting cups with pom pom balls
Pipe Cleaners (hooked on the end) and beads for stringing
Book of site words with flashcards to match

Make sure your bags are age appropriate and make sure everything needed to enjoy the activity is in 1 bag.

It’s okay to make some busy bags that involve parent involvement, but be sure you have some for independent play as well. In addition, expect that each child will want their own busy bag, but plan that they might want to play together. So throw in a few extra pipe cleaners, pens, beads, etc if you can.

I love busy bags! Do you use busy bags? What do you have in your busy bags? In the comments tell me your ideas for fun busy bags!

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