Hot LEGOLAND New York Tips: Build Your Kids Or AFOL The Best Day In Goshen, NY (While Saving Time & Money).

LEGOLAND New York Tips

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGO Self Portrait

My kids are LEGO® obsessed. They play with LEGOs, talk about LEGOs, and use all their money to buy LEGOs. Their love is so strong that we ran an international daily LEGO build group on Facebook for a year!

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGO love

LEGOs, LEGOs All The Time

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOS

So where does this love take us?

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGO Pick A Brick

The best gift you can give my boys is a Pick-A-Brick cup from the LEGO store.  

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGO Discovery Center Westchester

An even better gift is suggesting we go to one of our favorite places – LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester.

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Welcome Sign

But the absolute best gift was taking them to LEGOLAND® New York for my son’s ninth birthday.

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND Halloween


Ever since we learned LEGOLAND New York opened in Goshen we’ve been dying to go. We picked October – not only for the cooler weather – but also because we’re big Halloween people AND it’s my son’s birthday month.

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Tips

In addition to the fantastic park, we enjoyed the scenic ride this time of year with the changing leaf colors on the New York State Thruway. Every year we say we should do that drive – usually when we’re on a local hike – imagining the grandeur. Well – there you go. Bam – efficiency!

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGO Movie Barnes and Noble

As with all amusement parks, a good day starts with a good strategy. With that said, a little advanced planning goes a long way. Therefore, I put together a bunch of tips (including a secret one) ensuring you’ll also leave saying “Everything Is Awesome!” at the end of the day.

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Tips Miniland

Before You Go

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Tips

LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 1 – Wear Good Walking Shoes

LEGOLAND New York has wide, easy-to-follow, stroller-accessible paved paths. It also has stairs for climbers looking to fast forward. With so many rides and attractions you will be walking back and forth multiple times throughout your day (we walked six miles!), so make sure to wear good walking shoes. With so many cool big builds everywhere, be sure to add walking around and looking at them into your day. Also, keep your eyes open for LEGO QR codes on the builds. These codes open a cool picture filter for your phone!

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Tips Granny Goblin Toes

LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 2 – Bring A Refillable Water Bottle & Lunch

We are huge water drinkers and bring our water bottles everywhere. Because of this, we were excited to see water refill stations all over the park. We also packed our lunch to save time and money and ate online while waiting for a ride. We did insist on trying one treat – the special Granny’s Goblin Toes (green fried apples) – and they were delicious! Just remember – LEGOLAND is cashless so bring your credit card.

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Tips

LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 3 – Pack Minifigs to Trade

One of our trip highlights was trading mini-figures or “minifigs” with very friendly employees. Most employees have one displayed on their name tag waiting for a little fan to snag. Therefore, all you do is ask! My kids loved this not only for the excitement of the trade, but it was a fantastic way to purge their least favorite minifigs and hand-pick new ones. Of course, this was successful because they combed through their collection for days in preparation. In addition, we found the best “trading post” was inside the LEGO®Creative Workshops.

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Tips

LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip – 4 Seasonal Events

LEGOLAND New York offers different seasonal events that are not to be missed. These enhancements really add to your amusement park experience. To be safe, double-check the celebration dates before going as some are only on the weekends. During the Fall, LEGOLAND New York transforms into a monster of a good time at the Brick-or-Treat Presents Monster Party (free branded bags and candy!). Coming up next, it becomes a Holiday Bricktacular with shows, characters, and special treats!

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Tips

LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 5 – Arrive When They Open, Leave When They Close

We like arriving when places open and getting a head start on the busy attractions. Because of this, I suggest checking the park hours before you go as they change seasonally. Also, while you’re on the site, save yourself time and money by pre-purchasing your tickets and parking pass. Keep in mind the closing time listed is the last time a rider can get on a ride line. Therefore, if you’re on the line by then, you are good to go!

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Tips

When You’re In The Park

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Tips

LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 6: Sign Up For A Workshop Upon Arrival

LEGOLAND New York is as much about building and the experience as it is about the rides. My friend gave us a great tip that upon entry we should head left and find the yellow LEGO® Creative Workshops building. Here, you can sign up for one of their timed workshops throughout the day. Sessions fill up, so I suggest going early and grabbing a spot.

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND Dragon Coaster

LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 7: Begin With The Big Rides

There are three large rides at LEGOLAND New York – The Dragon, LEGO NINJAGO® The Ride, and LEGO® Factory Adventure Ride. Start your day in the back of the park on The Dragon, then head to LEGO NINJAGO® The Ride, and then finally to LEGO® Factory Adventure Ride. This will give you a leg up on the crowd in case you want to ride multiple times. All rides have cubbies for backpacks.

The Mint Chip Mama - Legoland Boy Driving Boat

LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 8: Continue With The Popular Rides

In addition to the “big” rides, my kids were excited about the rides they researched. They had tunnel vision for LEGO® City’s Driving School where they drove their own car AND got an official LEGOLAND® driver’s license. They were also super excited about Coast Guard Academy, Fire Academy, and Tower Climb Tournament. Since these are all popular rides as well one of us walked ahead to get in line while the other routed the kids to a playscape to wait. We find this divide-and-conquer strategy makes everyone happy.

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Recycled Bench

LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 9 – Appreciate How They’re Saving The World!

Enjoying an amusement park is hard work. Don’t forget to sit and take a break occasionally. I loved how all the benches (and garbage pails!) have plaques showing the reclaimed, recycled milk jugs count used to make them.

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Tips Miniland

LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 10 – Do Miniland Last

As with our strategy to get in early and conquer busy rides, we also like staying until parks close. With that said, we did all the rides and saved Miniland for last. As the sun set, we enjoyed this incredible depiction of the most famous buildings and landmarks in America. It was cool (and less crowded at this point) and so pretty with all the lights. Clearly, it was a wonderful way to end our day.

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Tips

Secret Benefits

If you’re celebrating a birthday head to guest services to pick up a complimentary birthday pin. My son loved this little souvenir and enjoyed everyone wishing him a happy birthday as we walked around.

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND 90th Birthday Cake

LEGO Birthdays Galore!

In addition to celebrating my son’s 9th birthday, LEGO is celebrating it’s 90th birthday!

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGO Louis Vuitton 200 Trunk Exhibit

But wait, there’s more! If you catch the Louis Vuitton exhibit celebrating 200 years of his trunks, you will also see a LEGO birthday cake there!

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Tips Miniland

We Must Return!

We saw so much but there was still so much more to see. That’s the best excuse for a return visit! Til next time, LEOGLAND.

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Tips

Everything WAS Awesome

I’m quite sure there’s no better place to spend a little LEGO lover’s birthday than LEGOLAND New York. In truth, it was so much more than an amusement park. It was a museum, a building experience, a thrill ride, and a learning center, we loved it. In conclusion – everything WAS awesome!

The Mint Chip Mama - LEGOLAND New York Tips

Don’t forget to check out all the family friendly destinations we’ve researched!

Please let us know what you think of this post! Was it helpful? Did you go to any of these places? Try any of these things? If yes, please like the post, comment below, and share it on your social media.

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Wow! The New School Year Routine Kicked My Butt. You Too? 5 Tips Guiding You Back To Sanity After A Cringe September

The new school year routine and how to come out the other side!

The new school year has totally kicked my butt. While I am not usually the person to admit this, in this case it is very true. The only thing that makes it better is it seems it is kicking everyone else’s butt too! 

The Mint Chip Mama - Pool

Back in August – I said how excited I was for September to come and for a new school year to begin. I craved the schedule. Foolishly thinking the new school year routine would make it all better. Yes, in truth it has. 

But my goodness. 

It’s a lot. 

The Mint Chip Mama - Softball

We have three kids in multiple activities. This year – my youngest – is a full-throttle-ahead kid. He’s six. He’s now officially into stuff and on the activity roster. Whereas before he was a handbag, now he too has a new school year routine added into the mix.

But there are only two of us. 

We’re one driver short. 

We’re outnumbered. 

It’s a lot. 

The Mint Chip Mama - New School Year Routine

We Are Constantly Moving

It seems every day we are just running and running. Or better yet I should say driving and driving (although one activity we drive to IS track). But I digress. Thus, we are always on the move, on the go, in the car, and it’s exhausting. 

Ok, so it’s been a month. The new school year routine is now firmly in place. All the fall sports are chugging along. It’s time to get organized.

The Mint Chip Mama - First Day Of School Cake

That means we have the running around down pat, now we need to have the downtime – well… down. We need to respect our mental health, physical exhaustion, and well-being in addition to schoolwork and activities. 

The Mint Chip Mama - Italia Mia, New Milford, CT

I Enjoy A Good Schedule and Routine

As a rule, we schedule everything, so why not schedule downtime too? It sounds funny but for us, if it’s not on the calendar it won’t happen. Well maybe that’s just me, and I’m ok with that… Hi, I’m Stacey and I am addicted to my calendar.

The Mint Chip Mama - New School Year Routine Fire Pit

By the same token, this means using our time “off” efficiently to repair, restore, and regenerate ourselves. Furthermore, it means spending some quality time together in one place at one time. 

With everyone going in different directions all week we can’t lose sight of the importance of being together. Here are five tips to keep a little sanity in your week of mayhem.

The Mint Chip Mama - Graffiti Hike Welwyn Preserve Glen Cove

1. Incorporate Nature Into Your New School Year Routine

Spending time outside has always been a bonding activity for us. We enjoy taking nightly walks and going on hikes. However, with the sun setting early and homework looming, a daily walk is now challenging. Because of this, I try to schedule a hike or walk on the weekend. This is a priority for us because there are so many benefits to being outside and in the fresh air

The Mint Chip Mama - Watching Movie On Couch

2. Each Weekend Make One Night A Family Night

It is important to us that we eat dinner together as a family. Nevertheless, with five different schedules, this is often challenging. We try to spend Friday nights together and watch a movie as a family. We couple this with taking turns picking the movie so there’s no fighting. Moreover, we love showing our kids the movies we watched growing up in the 80s and 90s

The Mint Chip Mama - New School Year Routine Video Games Nintendo

3. Your New School Year Routine Needs Time For Bodies To Recharge

We are constantly on the go. We put so much emphasis on activities that it’s important to put equal emphasis on downtime. Like all other kids, our kids like playing video games. The rule is they can play in the morning before getting ready for school until we wake up. In effect, this gives them some quality Mario time and gives us some extra sleep. Without doubt too much zoning out time is negative, but we believe video games in moderation are great. In fact, with all the commotion of our week, we’ve learned making video games a family activity is a fun way to veg out together. Hence, on Saturday mornings you can find us resting and relaxing on the couch. Plus, kicking your kid’s butt in a video game gives you lots of credit in the “cool parent” department. 

The Mint Chip Mama - Ticket To Ride

4. Make Time For Family Game Nights

We love playing games as a family. As our kids age their ability to play games we like increases. Some of our favorites are Cobra Paw, Ticket to Ride, Uno, Mancala, Harry Potter Wizard Chess, Sequence, Rubik’s Race Game, and Rummikub. We are always on the hunt for new games that are easy to play and have great strategies involved. We also love playing simple card games like Spit. In truth, sometimes I grunt and groan when the kids suggest playing a game – I am burnt out and exhausted. However, once I get over that hump it’s always a good time. I think the key is finding games you like playing and getting your kids into them – not the other way around. 

The Mint Chip Mama - New School Year Routine Popular Books USA

5. Of Course Studying and School Work Comes First

Of course, no new school year routine would be complete without emphasis on schoolwork. With constant school testing these days, there are two ways to look at it. We can either complain or focus on how it highlights our kid’s areas needing improvement. Furthermore, there are so many great resources available that it’s easy to help our kids strengthen one specific subject muscle. So why complain? The key here is finding a workbook your kids like so it doesn’t feel like a chore. We’ve had great luck with Popular Books Complete Math Success workbooks for both boys – so it’s never a fight. We don’t push, we just tell him to do one page a day. Just a little bit for five minutes. We also love their perk-filled Parent Club Rewards Program packed with supplemental material.

The Mint Chip Mama - New School Year Routine

Be Patient, It Takes Time To Adjust To The New School Year Routine

With all of the above said, all families look different and come with different schedules and agendas. But with that said, it’s easy to agree on the importance of a new school year routine, the happiness of seeing one’s children excel in their activities, and the desire to create a warm home. 

It takes time to adjust to the new school year. Seemingly said, we have to remember that like everything else we do as parents, we owe ourselves some patience and grace to get there. 

How is your school year routine going?

The Mint Chip Mama - New School Year Routine Baseball Jerseys

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Family Friendly Philadelphia: Boom! 48 Hours in Philly For History Buff Families Who Love Benjamin Franklin, Public Art, And The Movie National Treasure

Go Visit Family Friendly Philadelphia!

The Mint Chip Mama - Family Friendly Philadelphia

We are a New York based family of history buffs. Accordingly, our kids – ages 6, 8, and 12 – not only love United States history, but also movies about history, like National Treasure. Enter Philadelphia – the perfect destination for a quick 48-hour getaway!

The Mint Chip Mama - Family Friendly Philadelphia National Treasure

Philadelphia hits the US history jackpot with unlimited things to see for people of all ages. Therefore, I’ve crafted this “greatest hits” itinerary – in the order we visited – so it’s easy to follow for young families.

Generally, most family friendly Philadelphia landmarks have a knowledgeable National Park Ranger stationed there. They are ready to answer the most challenging questions from little history buffs. Be sure to ask each ranger for a historical figure “playing card”. My kids loved hunting for these, and they made a nice (and free!) souvenir.

The Mint Chip Mama - Family Friendly Philadelphia Ben Franklin

Philadelphia is a great walking city with lots of metered street parking. Even better, there’s an app called meterUP you can use to pay online and focus on sightseeing.

Family Friendly Philadelphia: Day 1

The Mint Chip Mama - Family Friendly Philadelphia Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State is America’s most historic – and one of the most influential – prisons ever built. It is both architecturally stunning and insanely haunting to visit. The included audio guide (narrated by Steve Buscemi, with additional stories told by former inmates) made the walls come to life. Today, Eastern State is not only a family friendly Philadelphia historical site, but also an unexpected space to see an art installation. While you are there, check out the current exhibits and visual commentaries about today’s international prison system. Additionally, check out the prison’s synagogue and Jewish life exhibit.

The Mint Chip Mama - Family Friendly Philadelphia Franklin Institute Heart

The Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute is a excellent science center famous for its walk-through heart exhibit. It’s a must for any family friendly Philadelphia vacation. This Institute brings many of Ben Franklin’s experiments to life through interactive exhibits and experiences. All are guaranteed to entertain your kids for hours. My kids loved learning about electricity (yes, they got a small shock, yes they did it 300 times), the brain, simple machines, space, Foucault’s Pendulum, and more. They were also thrilled to find a giant Luckey Climber – the biggest crowd pleaser in my house.

The Mint Chip Mama - Harry Potter Exhibition

In addition to the permanent exhibits and planetarium, the Franklin Institute has great limited-time exhibitions (most recently Harry Potter: The Exhibition, and, opening in 2023: Disney’s World Premiere Exhibit Disney100: The Exhibition).

If you’re a fan of the movie National Treasure, you’ll recognize the steps and façade from the scene where the little boy goes into the museum to help crack the code on a Post-It note revealing the names “Pass and Stow”. This clue leads the treasure hunters to the Liberty Bell for their next clue.

Family Friendly Philadelphia: Day 2

The Mint Chip Mama - Family Friendly Philadelphia Independence Hall

Independence Hall

If you’d like to see the most influential chair in American history, head over to Independence Hall. Here, a National Park Ranger will outline the amazing things that happened in the complex in 1776. This includes the birth of our nation with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. While many of the artifacts in this room are replicas, the Rising Sun armchair – where George Washington sat while signing is still there.

Additionally, National Treasure fans will “recognize” the rope jumped to sneak up into the bell tower searching for the next clue. Sadly, this scene was actually filmed at a church in Maryland.

The Mint Chip Mama - Family Friendly Philadelphia Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell

The most famous cracked bell in American history has been a family friendly Philadelphia stop for decades. Get your kids excited about it by picking up a National Parks Department Junior Ranger booklet across the street at Independence Visitor Center. Afterwards, once this fun interactive activity book is completed, a park ranger will deputize them like in Washington, DC. They get a little wooden badge, it’s cute.

The Mint Chip Mama - Family Friendly Philadelphia

Franklin Court Printing Office

Ben Franklin was a man of many talents. His fingerprints are all over Philadelphia, but are strongest by his Franklin Court Printing Office. Here you can see old fashion printing presses and learn about the painstaking task of printing. This includes picking out each letter one by one and setting it in place for printing newspapers, pamphlets, or anything else needed in historical times. In a world of fast technology and emails, my kids loved this old-fashioned family friendly Philadelphia stop. I loved learning the terms “upper case” and “lower case” originated from the literal placement of the bins in offices like this one. The capital letters were in the upper case and the rest were in the lower case).

The Mint Chip Mama - Family Friendly Philadelphia Elfreth’s Alley

Elfreth’s Alley

Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in the United States – meaning people have lived here for over 300 years! It was a beautiful little stretch to walk through. I think it counts as a cute family friendly Philadelphia destination since it is colorful, made of cobblestones, and has little paths for kids to explore.

The Mint Chip Mama - Betsy Ross House Philadelphia

Betsy Ross House

The Betsy Ross House is the birthplace of the American flag. Kids will love this family friendly Philadelphia attraction. They can walk up and down the winding staircases to the rooms Betsy Ross occupied while living here. As always, my kids loved seeing the kitchen and the unique ways of heating and cooling food in the 18th century.

The Mint Chip Mama - Family Friendly Philadelphia Carousel

Franklin Square Park

After two great days of sightseeing our Philadelphia grand finale was an evening at the historic Franklin Square Park. This family friendly Philadelphia park has deep roots going all the way back to William Penn himself. It is one of the five original open-space parks Penn planned while laying out the city in 1682.

The Mint Chip Mama - Philadelphia Mini Golf

While the park is relatively small, it is filled with several fantastic family friendly attractions. Not only is there a carousel and a historic dancing fountain, but it is home to the city’s only miniature golf course – featuring iconic symbols of Philadelphia.

The Mint Chip Mama - Franklin Square Park Philadelphia

This park is located right off the Ben Franklin Bridge. It is the perfect last stop vibe if you’re heading home to the North. Don’t forget to fill everyone’s bellies at SquareBurger before hitting the road.

The Mint Chip Mama - Family Friendly Philadelphia OY/YO

Family Friendly Philadelphia Statues and Signs

Of course, one of my favorite parts of Philadelphia – and all the historic cities we visit – is walking around and stumbling upon history. Likewise, Philadelphia has so many statues, sculptures, and fountains (some historical, some modern) it became a little treasure hunt for us. Be sure to make time to walk around and look at the public art, it will not disappoint.

The Mint Chip Mama - Rocky Statue

Some of our favorites were the OY/YO sculpture by Deborah Kass at the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History. The Rocky statue by A. Thomas Schomberg in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The History of the Philadelphia Fire Department mural next to Ladder 2 Fire Station on Arch Street. The Amor sculpture by Robert Indiana in Sister Cities Park (and her more famous sister – the Love sculpture, also by Robert Indiana in Love Park). Lastly, the Franklin Square Fountain – the oldest water fountain in the United States – in Franklin Square Park.

The Mint Chip Mama - Family Friendly Philadelphia Amor

More Family Friendly Travel in the Northeast

If you also have little history buffs at home you should check out my family travel posts about Washington, DC and Boston, MA too! Learning history together as a family can be fun!

Please also take a moment and follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok.

The Mint Chip Mama - Family Friendly Philadelphia

Don’t forget to check out all the family friendly destinations we’ve researched!

4 Important Safety Tips For Your Kids In The Backyard

I’m so excited to host another GUEST BLOGGER on The Mint Chip Mama! Please welcome: Cait Wilker!

Brazilian Wood Depot
Image: Brazilian Wood Depot 

I love when Autumn arrives. The cooler temperatures. The bonfires. The shorter days. When it comes to keeping our children safe outside during this time, there are a few things to keep in mind. If your kids are extremely active like mine, you can have them spend the majority of the days outside in your backyard. It may seem harmless to let them run and jump, but there are some hidden areas that might pose a threat. Below are a few tips you want to consider to keep your children safe. As a parent, you will want to make sure to keep these ideas close including being on the lookout for hazards, proper footwear attire, helmet safety, and having a fence in your backyard.

4 Important Safety Tips For Your Kids In The Backyard Brazilian Wood Depot
Image: Brazilian Wood Depot 

1. Be On Alert For Hazards

Believe me when I say that we all think our backyard is safe for our kids to play. However, you’ll want to be on alert for any hazards that could harm your child on a daily basis. This means going outside and checking the swingset that they are playing on. Are there any sharp things poking out of the wood? Did a wasp nest make its home in the corner? These are things you can avoid by looking for them. Also, make sure that there aren’t any glass or other materials that might hurt your little one on the ground. This also goes for playgrounds that you visit as well. 

Ponce City Market
Image: Brazilian Wood Depot 

2. Proper Footwear

This is essential to making sure your kids are safe when they are outside. Similarly, when you hike on trails with your kids, make sure the shoes they’re wearing are equipped to keep them safe. This means that proper walking shoes that cover their entire foot are a must. If it’s winter, you’ll want to make sure they have winter boots that protect them from falling and slipping. Avoid open-toe flip-flops or sandals as they can easily cause your child to slip and fall, especially if they are riding their bike or running. Additionally, wearing open-toe shoe outside could also put their toes in danger! Also, make sure to take your child to a proper shoe store to get them the shoes they need.

Image: Brazilian Wood Depot 

3. Sturdy Fence

If you’re looking to upgrade your fence to something a bit more practical, the most common material for a fence is pressure-treated pine. This type of wood is pressure treated to extend life. It also protects it against insect infestation, which can be a huge issue in the southern states. A business called Brazilian Wood Depot offers a variety of hardwoods including this composite deck board option and many others.  You’ll want  to get a quote and ask question if you have any to help pick out a great fence for your backyard. 

4 Important Safety Tips For Your Kids In The Backyard Brazilian Wood Depot
Image: Brazilian Wood Depot 

4. Helmet Safety

Does your child ride their bike without a helmet? That should be a no! Discussing and showing the importance of wearing the proper gear when you go on a ride together is important. If you are unsure about which helmet will work best there are several shops that can help find the best one to fit your child’s head and keep them protected. Role model to your child that you wear a helmet when you ride your bike. This will show them a helmet’s significance. Have them decorate their helmet if they want with stickers to personalize it. 

4 Important Safety Tips For Your Kids In The Backyard Brazilian Wood Depot
Image: Brazilian Wood Depot 

What are some other types of safety ideas you can think of when your children are outside playing? Overall, I think it is important to talk about safety rules when your kids go outside to play. Show them how to pick up items carefully if they see it, or tell a grown-up. While we can’t prevent things from happening, we can educate our children to know what to look for. Spend the time you need to keep this as part of your main focus ensuring they understand. 

What safety tips do you have for kids this fall?

5 Quick Things To Do In August Guaranteed To Set Your Kid’s School Year Up for Success (Including How To Get Out Of The Daily Chore of Making Lunch)! 

The Mint Chip Mama’s Back To School Tips!

The Mint Chip Mama - Back To School Tips First Day of School

As summer fades like a sunset, we are reminded that September – and back to school – is on the horizon.

It will be here before we know it.


Starting to get ready NOW will help in the fight against being scrambling parents. Like the parent who you were last year. Remember? Begging stores to stay open five more minutes while we dug around for the last hidden box of crayons.

This year stand strong! I fully believe with some simple preparation, we can all become solid back to school prepared machines. This means come day one, bags will be packed, shoes will fit, and our children will have all things needed to be sharpened ready to go.

To help in this dream I present to you five back to school tips to help get you and your family ready.

Calling all moms and dads, back to school assemble!

The Mint Chip Mama - Back To School Tips Backpacks

Back To School Tips, Tip #1: Buy New Backpacks NOW

If you are like me, you have an annual “heated debate” with your child about getting a new backpack. I always like to begin my rebuttal with “What about this bag? You know, the one you BEGGED me for last year and swore you would use until college?”. But as expected, I often lose to puppy dog eyes bringing me to agree every two years. The best sales (and biggest selection) start in August so look around now. With online shopping it is so easy to compare prices and order a few choices. This also takes away some of the sting from the overwhelming backpack wall in the store.

Then, once the school supply lists come out, we head to the stores for everything else. Next, we come home and begin our fan favorite annual tradition of setting up a “back to school store” in the basement (toy cash register included). My kids LOVE this, take turns shopping and ringing each other up, and do not even notice when I sneak in some old stuff to save a little money.

The Mint Chip Mama - Making Lunch

Back To School Tips, Tip #2: Teach Your Kids How To Make Lunch NOW

Making lunch is arguably one of the biggest chores for parents. Yes, yes there are the parents who embrace gorgeous, Instagrammable bento boxes, but come on, the rest of us are just staring into the fridge abyss praying for creativity to strike.

When I had my third kid, my oldest was in kindergarten. Somehow the idea came up for her to make her own lunch one day. Probably because I was doing nine things at once. Bam! Thus began the most liberating outsourcing of all time. Now with that said, sometimes they buy lunch, and sometimes we make something special for them. But for the most part, it is sandwich time with a side order of pride. Funny enough, I had no idea this would become so empowering. My eight-year-old takes such pride in making his own lunch, it is really cute.

So how do we do this safely? We leave bread on the counter, and they spread ingredients (often cream cheese and jelly) with a butter knife. Since they are making it, they can make whatever they would like (read: guaranteed to be something they will eat). Now, here is the real secret: our deal is that if they make their own lunch, they can “sneak” in a piece of candy for dessert. Luckily, it gets them every time.

The Mint Chip Mama - Sports

Back To School Tips, Tip #3: Research and Register for Extra-Curricular Activities NOW

Extracurricular classes and sports are a great way for kids to learn fun things and be team players. With that said, we all have that one class in our town that sells out during early bird registration – often before the school year even begins. With online registration available for most things now it is so easy to quickly look it up and set a calendar for yourself once registration opens. I send myself the link too, so I do not have to think at all when the time comes. In addition, registering early may save you some money – a fun side of gravy.

The Mint Chip Mama - Back To School Reading

Back To School Tips, Tip #4: Start Reading With Your Kids Every Night NOW

Reading is one of the things your kids (pick a word: loves, fights about, refuses to do, embraces). Yes, reading is challenging for many kids, but I believe modeling reading for pleasure is the first step in getting your kids to read willingly. I am a big reader but often do not have the time. However, I always tell my kids to read. This is especially true during the school year when reading is part of their homework. One day my son invited me to read with him. It kind of stopped me in my tracks. So, we started reading together on the couch before bedtime.

Of course, this does not happen every night, but they see that reading can be fun. It is something we can do together, and it has become something we WANT to do together. Starting this tradition in August, will set them up for reading success in school because they will already be in the groove.

The Mint Chip Mama - Back To School Workbooks

Back To School Tips, Tip #5: Keep Flexing That Brain Muscle With Workbooks NOW

Every morning after eating breakfast my kids do one workbook page. It gets their brains moving so they do not suffer from the dreaded “summer slump.” This summer we have been using workbooks from Popular Book USA. I believe the key to success here is finding fun books in the subjects they enjoy. I can tell you it worked because if you want to know the truth – most days they ask to do a second page!

My son (going into first grade) has the Complete Math Success, Complete English Success, and Complete Curriculum Success for Grade 1. As you can imagine, since brothers need everything equal, my son (going into fourth grade) has Complete Math Success, Complete English Success, and Complete Curriculum Success for Grade 4. Remember – you do not want to fight about this and make it seem like schoolwork, you just want them to exercise their brain muscle a little bit for some memory maintenance. Plus, these books are so robust I think they will make a nice compliment to their homework once school begins.

The Mint Chip Mama - Back To School Bus

Back To School Here We Come!

The bottom line is – much like everything in life, it helps to be prepared. These five simple back to school tips will get you ahead of the game so when September rolls around you are ready to rock.

Of course, by “ready,” I mean ready to drive your kids to the thousands of activities you signed them up for and ready to tell them to get their shoes on AGAIN because the bus is rounding the corner and it’s time to gooooooo!

The Mint Chip Mama - Back To School Tips PTA Bench
Photo Credit: HBtP

More Resources For Back to School

What else can parents do to set their kids up for success? Getting involved is the best way to start. You might even get a bench as a thank you! No matter how much time you have, your PTA, PA, or PTO needs your help. Get involved – even 15 minutes can make your child’s school a better place. Often things can be done on your own time so if work schedules are challenging you can still make it happen.

Continuing the home to school connection, here are some great resources to help set your child up for success. Whether they are starting Kindergarten, 1-3 grades, or your family is focusing on homeschool these links should help!

The Mint Chip Mama - Back To School Workbooks

Giveaway For Back To School!

Popular Book Company USA is running TWO great giveaways to celebrate Back to School! The first is a giveaway for an NFL Jersey and $50 in workbooks on The Mint Chip Mama’s Instagram. The second is a giveaway for a Google chromebook and $50 in workbooks on Popular Book Company’s Instagram.

Click here to win the NFL jersey & $50 in workbooks, follow @popularbookcompanyusa & @themintchipmama and comment “DONE”.

Click here to win the Google chromebook and $50 in workbooks.

Both winners will be picked August 31, 2022.

Paddle Pub Long Island: Grab Your Salty Friends For An Amazing Time! The Best Adult Night Out On Land Or Sea!

Paddle Pub Long Island *use code “MintChip” to save 5% off your booking!*

The Mint Chip Mama - Paddle Pub Long Island Paddle Boat Patchogue Charter Boat

Every summer, I have one small goal: to go on a boat. Throughout the years, I have accepted this in the form of a ferry, a friend’s boat, and even the little inflatable boat we bought during the pandemic. I’m not picky, just “take me to the river” (in the words of Albert Finney from “Big Fish”).

The Mint Chip Mama - Paddle Pub Long Island Paddle Boat Patchogue Charter Boat

Paddle Pub Long Island Launches!

Last summer, I read about a new local company called Paddle Pub Long Island. Quite simply, it looked like a whole lot of fun, and I was desperate to try it!

That wish recently came true as we set sail – along with some friends — on a beautiful Friday night on our own private chartered Paddle Pub Long Island boat, which could hold up to twenty-six people.

The Mint Chip Mama - Paddle Pub Long Island Paddle Boat Patchogue Charter Boat Great South Bay

Paddle Pub Long Island In Patchogue

We chose the Patchogue location – which sails on The Great South Bay – and packed our bags. Not only was the boat a thorough source of fun, but it was also Bring Your Own Beverage (in a can), so we could pack exactly what we wanted. We also opted to bring sandwiches and snacks to make our booze cruise an elevated dinner cruise excursion as well.

As we pulled out of the beautiful Leeward Cove Marina, we passed all kinds of boats and hopping waterfront restaurants. It was heaven. The stress fell off our shoulders as we saw nothing but open water ahead.

The Mint Chip Mama - Paddle Bikes Pub Long Island Paddle Boat Patchogue Charter Boat

Don’t Worry, There’s Also A Motor

When I began this quest, my idea of a paddle boat was something from my childhood involving ducks and some type of lake vacation. I was thinking of little foot pedals. What I didn’t expect was such an advanced set up! It was more a spin class than an aquatic tourist attraction. Now, with that said, we paddled – but there was also a motor – so we didn’t have to work that hard.

In between the six rows of bicycles facing each other we placed our drinks in the coolers (pre-filled with ice) and didn’t have to try too hard to have a fun time.

We drifted around the Great South Bay as our requested music was pumping and the breeze was blowing. We took turns getting up and dancing and taking in the gorgeous sunset.

The Mint Chip Mama - Paddle Pub Long Island Paddle Boat Patchogue Bay Charter Boat

Party Ashore Or Stay On The Boat

We had the option to stop at one of two waterfront bars down the shore, but the crowds there were large, and we were enjoying our little party, so we happily declined the offer.

It’s funny as you age – you don’t need so much. We were so happy just catching up with each other since the last few months have been so nuts. We were happy to relax and enjoy the views while sipping on a few drinks and listening to eighties pop. I mean, what more does one need?

The Mint Chip Mama - Paddle Pub Long Island Paddle Boat Patchogue Charter Boat

Staff To Get The Party Started

Our awesome party host Gina took great care of us constantly surveying the crowd to see if there were any musical requests. She was super attentive to anything we needed and got the party rolling with some fun games. The Paddle Pub Long Island crew of two also included our US Coast Guard Licensed Captain, who chatted us up regaling his tales of life on the sea. They were great party guests in addition to being our hosts.

The Mint Chip Mama - Paddle Pub Long Island Paddle Boat Patchogue Charter Boat Head

Yes, There’s A Bathroom On The Boat! I Asked Too…

I have that answer too – a clean bathroom (with a sink). Yes, all Paddle Pub Long Island boats have a full head (boat talk for bathroom) ready and waiting for you. Because priorities shift to the necessities as one ages, and I am ok with that.

The Mint Chip Mama - Paddle Pub Long Island Paddle Boat Patchogue Charter Boat

The Post Cruise Party Continues On Shore

When we docked – always too soon when you’re on a boat – we didn’t want to leave. So, we didn’t! We stayed behind at the dock and relaxed at the welcoming picnic table (with full barbeque open to the public) and waited until the sky went dark before we returned to reality.

From under our little Paddle Pub Long Island tent haven, we could easily hear the live band at Dublin Deck from our Adirondack chairs and squeeze one more moment of the vacation feels into our night. It didn’t matter that we were only forty minutes away from our house.

We sat and relaxed, enjoyed the view some more and then went back to the insanity of our lives. But for a good two hours it was smooth sailing and just a whole lot of fun.

The Mint Chip Mama - Paddle Pub Long Island Paddle Boat Patchogue Charter Boat

Paddle Pub Offers SO Many Cruising Options!

Paddle Pub Long Island has boats in Patchogue sailing in the Great South Bay and in Huntington sailing in Huntington Bay. Patchogue launched in 2021 and Huntington launched in 2022. They have more locations around Long Island on tap for the future.

The Mint Chip Mama - Paddle Pub Long Island Paddle Boat Patchogue Charter Boat

Booking Paddle Pub Long Island Is Super Easy

Booking was very easy and can be done online. You can either join one of their fun mixer cruises, a themed tour, or charter the boat for a private party like we did or for a corporate event. This would also be a terrific way to celebrate a summer birthday! If you can grab eight friends to join you, your birthday ticket is complementary! It’s just plain fun.

The whole Paddle Pub Long Island team was easy and great to work with from the beginning. We had a contact who helped confirm all our pre-boat information and set up how we wanted our cruise. We were able to contact him both over the phone and by text. He also went over parking information with us since it gets tricky sometimes at the marina and sent us pre-boarding waivers in advance to save boarding time.

If you also have salty air in your bones, you need Paddle Pub Long Island in your life this summer. This was the perfect summer kick off and reminder that we live on an island, and we must take advantage of that wonderful fact.

The Mint Chip Mama - Paddle Pub Long Island Paddle Boat Patchogue Charter Boat

Save With The Mint Chip Mama’s Paddle Pub Discount Code!

Are you ready to grab your friends, relatives or collogues and go? Use code “MintChip” to save 5% off your booking! Good for any cruise this season.

The Mint Chip Mama - Paddle Pub Long Island Paddle Boat Patchogue Charter Boat

More Fun Ways To Enjoy Your Long Island Summer

For more great summer tips on Long Island please visit my posts on: unique playgrounds, hikes, gardens walks, ropes course, and more! 

If you’re looking for a fun family movie to watch this summer check out my kick back list of 80s and 90s movies you’ll enjoy as much as your kids do! 

Looking for a nice and easy family vacation? Check out my posts about visiting Greenport (Long Island), Boston and Washington, DC!

Please also follow me on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook for daily activity ideas in New York and tri-state area!

Happy Sailing!

Look No Further Than This Unique & Unusual Father’s Day Gift Guide! Father’s Day Gift Ideas For The Every Dad – Including Yours.

The Father’s Day Gift Guide for every dad!

Father’s Day gift giving is challenging – for both the giver and the receiver.

The Mint Chip Mama - Father’s Day Gift Guide

With that said, it is my annual joy to bring you The Mint Chip Mama’s first Father’s Day Gift Guide! I love finding unique father’s day gifts and “toys” – also the weird and quirky – and bringing them to you.

The Mint Chip Mama - Father’s Day Gift Guide

Finding unusual things off the beaten path makes you laugh, and we all need more laughter in our lives.

At the end of the day, remember – dads work hard (as do moms) to make the life of their family perfect. So, if nothing else, be nice to them. Let them have some time to relax. Remember it is their day. Also remember to say “please” when you remind them to take out the garbage and start the BBQ so they can cook dinner for everyone.

The Mint Chip Mama - Father’s Day Gift Guide

This list is long but if you need even more ideas check out my Amazon page!

Please also follow me on my BlogFacebookPinterest, Instagram & Tik Tok pages for even more ideas.

The Mint Chip Mama - Wild Play Jones Beach

Father’s Day Gift Idea For: The Dad Who Just Wants An Experience

Ropes course and zipline at the beach at WildPlay Jones Beach in Wantagh

Ropes course and zipline in the trees at The Adventure Park of Long Island in Wheatley Heights

A massage at Massage for Wellness in Hicksville

A super fun time out on the water with Paddle Pub (nationwide)

Passes for a pretty day at one of Long Island’s Gold Coast mansions and gardens

A treasure map hunt around the North Fork of Long Island with Greenie Supply & Tackle

A Private Family Yoga Class with Yogi Beans

Ziplining at Urban Air in Lake Grove

A day of zero gravity at Floatopia Float Spa and Salt Cave in Dix Hills

Axe throwing at Bury the Hatchet in Brooklyn

Glassblowing lessons at Urban Glass in Brooklyn

Graffiti Workshop & Street Art Walking Tour with Brooklyn Unplugged Tours in Brooklyn

Glass-topped bus tour with The Ride in Manhattan

A private party of virtual trivia with The Big Quiz Thing

Donate a goat or other animal Heifer International

The Mint Chip Mama - Father’s Day Gift Guide

For the Outdoorsy Dad

Knockaround Sunglasses

An Extra Large Sandless Beach Towel

Bug Repellant Products & Care From Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve, The Bug Bite Thing or BuzzPatches

Collapsible Folding Hammock

Boulder Sports Adjustable Net & Amazin’ Aces Pickleball Paddles

Flexible Tripod

Solar Powered LED Camping Lantern with AM/FM NOAA Weather Radio & Cell Phone Charger

Mini Movie Projector

Intex Excursion 5 Person Inflatable Boat Set & obviously matching Captain Hats

Electric Air Pump

Car Power Inverter (converts your car into an outlet)

Swingball Portable Tether Tennis

Life Changing, Ultrathin Microfiber Beach Towels

National Geographic LED Stomp Rockets

A Big Tent With A Screened In Porch

Collapsible Picnic Table


The Mint Chip Mama - Father’s Day Gift Guide

The Get Off My Lawn Dad

Power Washer

Fiskars Lopper

Cordless Pole Saw

Hooks For Vinyl Siding

Fire Sense Stainless Steel Commercial Patio Heater

Jumbo 4-to-Score Giant Backyard Game Set

Mystical Fire Flame Color Changer

JOOLA Midsize Compact Table Tennis Table & Hit Set Bundle

Pretty Outdoor Garbage Pail

Compost Tumbler

Mini Broadcast Spreader

The Mint Chip Mama - Father’s Day Gift Guide

The Grill Master Dad

Franklin’s Original Whirley Pop Stovetop Popcorn Machine Popper

Weber BBQ Smoker Box & Smoking Chips

BBQ Lights

Companion Grill Station

Quick Defrosting Tray

The Mint Chip Mama - Father’s Day Gift Guide

Father’s Day Gift Idea For: The Chef Dad

Collapsible Pasta Drying Rack

I Love Tacos! Taco Holders

Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt & Ice Cream Maker

Letter/Number Candy Dish from Sweese or Coffeezone

Adjustable DIY Letter and Number Cake Pan

Stainless Steel Drinking Straws

Instant Ace Cooking & Beverage Blender

Instant Pot 

Air Fryer Attachment for the Instant Pot

Crepe Maker


The Mint Chip Mama - biking family

The Biker Dad

Windproof Cycling Bike Jacket & Gloves

Rechargeable Bike Light

Thermal Bike Shoes Covers

Water Bottle Holder

Schwinn Bike Foot Pump

Padded Bike Underwear Shorts

Bike Shorts

Bike Lock

Padded Bike Seat

Bike Saddle Bag (Including Emergency Kit: Bike Tire Levers, Mini Bike Tire Pump, Bike Tire Patches)

The Mint Chip Mama - Father’s Day Gift Guide

The Techy Dad

A Cool Surprise Tech Box From Breo Box

Rechargeable Hand Warmer (great for sports dads)

Heated Socks (ditto)

Light Up Electronic Word Clock

Flameless USB Rechargeable Lighter

Toilet Bowl Rainbow Nightlight

Apple AirPods or AirPod Pros

Apple Watch (on sale now!)


Luxe Bidet Bidet Attachment

Star Projector Alarm Clock

Alexa Echo Dot

Nintendo Switch Console

Nintendo Switch Sports Game

LED Headlamp Flashlight

ArmoGear Infrared Laser Tag

Lightening iPhone Chargers

Toothbrush Holder and UV Sanitizer

The Mint Chip Mama - Father’s Day Gift Guide

The Retro Loving Dad

Nintendo NES Controller Power Banks

Vintage Casio Calculator Watch

Masters of the Universe Castle GrayskullBattle Cat & Action Figures

Saved By The Bell Uno

Carrom Nok Hockey

The Mint Chip Mama - Father’s Day Gift Guide

The Cozy Dad

Shiatsu Foot Massager

Weighted Blanket

Sweatpants with Zippered Pockets

Oilz+ Shea Butter Moisturizer from Scrubz Body

Amour Advanced Pain Relief CBD Cream

A New Book: Woman On Fire, Sea Of Tranquility

A Delicious Scented Candle (Like Dark Chocolate Peppermint Whipped) From Allie Cat Creative Co

Foam Roller

Ear Seeds



The Mint Chip Mama - South Street Seaport

Father’s Day Gift Idea For: The Dad With A Good Sense Of Humor

A Funny Royal Portrait From Masterpiece Me (use coupon code Stacey15 to save 15%)

CreateOn Grateful Dead Magna-Tiles

Giraffe Wallpaper

Mojimoto Taco Repeating Talk-Back Toy That Records & Repeats

Snazzy Umbra Hooks in Sticks or Skyline 

AvoSeedo Bowl Set (Grow An Avocado Plant From A Pit)

The Mint Chip Mama - Father’s Day Gift Guide

The Hungry and Thirsty Dad

Eco-conscious single serve Steeped Coffee Bags

Snack Variety Box From Bonnie & Pop

Delicious Baked Goods From Rad Dad’s Bakeshop

Van Gogh Flavored Vodka

Rainbow Cookie Cake from Uncle Joey’s Rainbow Explosion

Crazy Brownies from Killer Brownies

Donuts from Once Bitten Donuts

Cookies from Pacific Northwest Cookies

Bright Cellars Wine Delivery (save 60% off your first order through this link)

Boyers Roasted Rocky Mountain Coffee

Üllo Wine Purifier 

Goli Gummies: Apple Cider VinegarSuperfruitsSupergreensAshwagandha & Bites: CalmMulti (save 15% with these links!)

The Mint Chip Mama - Father’s Day Gift Guide

Father’s Day Gift Idea For: The Dad Who Likes Family Games

Jackbox Games


Cobra Paw

Kidquest Question Cards



Rubik’s Race Game

Sequence Game

Ticket to Ride Board Game


Not Parent Approved: A Hilarious Card Game 

Chicken War

Beat That

The Mint Chip Mama - Yankee Game

Happy Father’s Day To All!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there. A special Happy Father’s Day to my husband Ross.

The Mint Chip Mama - Father’s Day Gift Guide

An even more special Happy Father’s Day to my dad – who is always up for any adventure and the best Grandpa my kids could have.

The Mint Chip Mama - Splish Splash

Many of these items above contain Amazon Associate links for your convenience. Some items received in exchange for an honest review. All items listed above on The Mint Chip Mama’s Father’s Day Gift Guide are items I genuinely think are cool and are things that I think you will like too.

Happy Father’s Day everyone!

The Mint Chip Mama - Bedell Winery

Calling All Young History Buffs! Experience The Best Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions On Your Next Vacation!

Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions US Capital

Visiting our nation’s capital is a rite of passage for every American. As a result, the Washington, D.C. area offers family attractions that are unique, interesting, and educational for everyone.

American History Museum DC

Families with kids learning about the United States of America and democracy will eat up visiting these Washington, D.C. area family attractions.

National Harbor

That is to say, my kids are HUGE American history buffs and Washington, D.C. was their dream destination.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington D.C. Area Family Attractions Tidal Basin

While we missed the famed cherry blossoms (except for ONE tree) we did see museums, monuments, buildings, and all historic sites our eyes could absorb in five days.

FBI Police Car

Balancing Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions And City Visit

We picked a centrally located hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. (at the midpoint of The Mall). This allowed us easy access to all city attractions. With this in mind, plus the goal of not moving our car, we planned the outside area visits on our way there and back.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions Mount Vernon

George & Martha Washington’s Home: Mount Vernon

Our first stop was Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George & Martha Washington. This beautiful, huge property (once 8,000 acres!) is nestled right on the Potomac. In addition, it is the most popular historic estate in America. Also, if you like historical movies, you’ll recognize Mount Vernon from the movie “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.”

Our mansion tour taught us George Washington was an innovative farmer who changed his crops to control the narrative. Also – he liked green and loved wallpaper – the high-tech rage of his time. We also learned some behind the scenes movie secrets and that the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (a private, non-profit organization) swooped in and saved Mount Vernon from ruin in 1858.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions National Harbor

Gaylord National Resort & The National Harbor

With a car full of hungry bellies, we headed over to the National Harbor for some amazing waterfront dining, spectacular aerial views, and retro desserts.

We enjoyed a fantastic meal (including Maryland’s mascot the crab cake) at McCormick & Schmick’s overlooking John Seward Johnson II’s famous sculpture “The Awakening” as the sun set.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions The Capital Whee

Followed by our first glimpse of Washington, D.C. from the top of the 180-foot-tall Capital Wheel.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions Replay 80s Lounge

Finally, we capped off our perfect night at Gaylord National’s 80s-themed rooftop lounge: Replay at Pose Lounge for insane milkshakes and retro arcade games.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions Replay Pop Up 80s Lounge Gaylord National

Gaylord National Resort is not only stunning but also offers seasonal family-friendly activities all year long.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions

With full bellies and drooping eyelids, we headed into Washington, D. C.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions Ford’s Theatre

Ford’s Theatre

We began our family exploration of Washington, D.C. family attractions with Ford’s Theater. Here, on April 14th, 1865, during a performance of the show “Our American Cousin,” Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. The course of history was changed by a six inch single shot Derringer pistol.

This excellent museum chronicles the highlights and legacies of Lincoln’s presidency, the events leading up to that fateful evening, and what came next – both immediately – and for the next 157 years.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions Ford’s Theatre

History buffs can enjoy a self-led tour through the museum and theatre, then walk across the street to the Petersen House (where Lincoln died the next morning) and aftermath exhibits. The pocket-sized murder weapon – found on the floor of the President’s box that night – is on display at the museum as well.

My kids loved the interactive chronicling of Booth’s manhunt, which ended with his capture two weeks later at Garrett’s Farm. I loved the 35 foot tower of books highlighting how Lincoln’s popularity continues today.

Ford’s Theatre is still a cornerstone of live theatre with many upcoming performances.

We continued our Lincoln theme that night with a visit to his memorial.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions NMAAHC


Our next stop was The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. This museum was amazing.

The museum tour began three floors below street level in pre-slavery Africa, in the year 1400. Next, it outlined the sickening and shocking ways Africa became the hub of slave trading for hundreds of years.

The ascending exhibit continues up 609 years of history – highlighting African Americans’ vital contributions through all of America’s wars, the Civil Rights movement, and cultural contributions, culminating in a huge 2009 image of President Barack Obama’s inauguration as the first African American President of the United States of America.

Upstairs, you’ll find contemporary African American contributions to TV shows, art, movies, music, and more. Every corner of this museum greeted us with important artifacts – including one of Rosa Park’s dresses and a Greensboro lunch counter stool.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions Spy Museum

The International Spy Museum

The International Spy Museum was the most requested stop on our Washington, D.C. area family attractions list. This interactive museum grabbed our attention immediately by immersing us into spy culture upon arrival.

Around every corner you’ll find a kiosk to register your intel, chart your course, and complete your mission. There are places to climb for optimum surveillance and places to assess your agility and strength determining your spy ability.

My kids did not want to leave this museum thanks to the interesting history and super cool spy artifacts. I loved learning about the importance of women’s contributions to spying throughout the decades, how important simple observation is, and how spies have impacted wars by secretly moving information across borders.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions White House

White House Tour

As avid presidential trivia buffs one of the highlights of our trip was our White House tour. The moment tours reopened, my husband contacted our Congressman for tickets.

Swearing in White House Junior Park Rangers

Not only was this self-guided tour super cool, but my kids loved getting sworn in across the street as Junior Park Rangers.

First Ladies Exhibit DC

More Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions

Since we strived to do it all, we also visited the National Museum of American History (for the First Ladies inaugural gown exhibit and Dorothy’s ruby slippers), the Library of Congress (for the Gutenberg Bible), the Supreme Court, the Capitol, our Congressman’s office, the National Archives, and all the monuments.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions Poke DC

Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions Includes Foodies!

We ate so well in Washington, D.C. and enjoyed outdoor dining everywhere thanks to the perfect April weather. We loved Zaytinya and Farmers Fishers Bakers for dinner and LOVED Poki DC for lunch.

Washington DC MLK Memorial

Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions After Dark

While the historical and Presidential monuments are special any time you visit, I especially liked them lit up at night. Our post-dinner walks around the Tidal Basin made our trip super special.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions Washington Memorial at night

Arlington National Cemetery

Since my history buff kids love cemeteries as much as museums, our final stop (pun intended) before heading home was Arlington National Cemetery across the bridge in Virginia to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Farmers Fishers Bakers Washington DC Georgetown Harbor

Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions: Bring Good Walking Shoes!

In conclusion, chock full of so much of everything, the endless Washington, D.C. area family attractions list offers something for everyone – no matter the age.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions The Shaw

Most importantly, my best piece of advice is bring good shoes. We walked over forty miles! In addition, if you’re looking for a tour company – I loved the choices Historic America Tours offered including their Soul Food Saturdays.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions Washington Memorial

*Above all, be sure to check museum and attraction websites in advance. Many are free and open to the public, but some require advanced ticketing.

The Mint Chip Mama - Top Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions The Capital


Don’t forget to check out all the family friendly destinations we’ve researched!

Hey Burnt Out Mama: Instantly Fix Your Day With Megan Sumrell’s Time Management Tips For The Busy Mom

Time Management Tips For The Busy Mom

Hey fellow mamas – do you feel like you’re drowning? Do you swear every day you’ll figure out how to better manage your time? Do you consider the hours between bus pick up and drop off your work day? Me too! But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Mint Chip Mama - Mother’s Day Gifts Word Clock

Moms Can Enjoy Their Lives And Have Fun

Moms constantly feel like we’re on a hamster wheel. We juggle everything and the disorganization and pivoting drives us nuts! However, with a system in place and some efficient weekly planning, we can better manage our time and lives.

The Mint Chip Mama - Megan Sumrell Time Management Tips For The Busy Mom

Enter Megan Sumrell And Her Time Management Tips For The Busy Mom

Like life imitating art, as I was stressing about my day, I received a message from Megan Sumrell – the master time management, organization, and productivity expert – wanting to have a chat. YES! I do, Megan! Teach me time management tips for the busy mom! I’m a busy mom! Help me!

Megan is also a busy mom so she gets it. I told her how I constantly feel like a character in the book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and clearly needed help.

We discussed her evolution of managing and creating technological systems for large industries, to focusing her attention on the networking complexities of a mom’s day. Megan understands that moms are not only responsible for being the CEO of the family but also burdened by the invisible loads of motherhood that we carry on a daily basis.

The Mint Chip Mama - Megan Sumrell Time Management Tips For The Busy Mom

Megan Sumrell’s Top Five Time Management Tips For The Busy Mom

For the full (FANTASTIC) interview of Megan’s spectacular tips, head over to my new YouTube channel or watch it at the bottom of this post. In the meantime, these time management tips for the busy mom stood out to me. 

The Mint Chip Mama - Megan Sumrell Time Management Tips For The Busy Mom

1. Keep On Top Of Housework With Scheduled “Resets”

Working from home is both wonderful and challenging. Understandably, boundaries are blurred between your office and the laundry basket staring you down from the corner.

To keep you in check, Megan suggests leveraging routines. She adheres to decluttering goddess Katy Joy Wells’ concept of 5 – 10 minute “resets” scheduled thrice daily to get pesky household chores done.

She goes on to add that everyone in your home should have an assigned part (knowing exactly what to do) at each reset. Megan suggests scheduling these resets when your child/ren leaves for school (clean up the morning mess), midday (when you transition from work ending to mom chaos beginning), and after dinner (cleaning up from the day).

With this organized system in place, the anxiety of task completion is replaced by the control of knowing exactly when things will get done.

The Mint Chip Mama - Megan Sumrell Time Management Tips For The Busy Mom

2. Be Realistic With Your Time

Women are notoriously unrealistic about the amount time they have to get stuff done. Even though one’s kids are at school for six hours, you don’t have six hours to accomplish what’s needed.

Learning the right way to create a weekly plan empowers you to control the unexpected things when they pop up and require your time and attention (read: the dreaded call from the school nurse).

Be realistic with the actual time you have so you can schedule things accordingly. Next, map your tasks efficiently and strategically into your day by aligning them with the time you have throughout the week. Finally, by creating boundaries into your week you won’t feel overwhelmed.

Once you establish this (realistic) weekly map, you can see where tasks fit in and where they can easily be moved if needed.

The Mint Chip Mama - Megan Sumrell Time Management Tips For The Busy Mom

3. Layering In Time Management To Productivity Reduces Stress

You can be productive without having good time management skills. However, layering in time management maximizes getting important things done and reduces your stress levels.

Megan suggests starting this process with a time audit to see exactly how you spend your time. This data will help identify the needed tools to optimize yourself (including planning processes) and prioritize spending time on the things that matter the most.

The Mint Chip Mama - Megan Sumrell Time Management Tips For The Busy Mom

4. Plan Your Week, Not Your Day

In Megan’s opinion, the biggest time management mistake is daily vs. weekly planning. Daily planning is overwhelming, inefficient, and often checks off only the low hanging fruit. Instead, approach your week like a game of Tetris – each piece fits, you just have to figure out where it goes.

Megan suggests creating your weekly plan in a calm space. In addition, you need a clear picture in front of you (a/k/a not on your phone) of your weekly tasks and how much time you have to do them. Next – and with intention – fit in each item based on your non-negotiable schedule (sports, meetings, things you can’t control). Following this approach allows you to construct efficient time blocks with things that organically fit together. It also allows you to plot in your most creative tasks for when you’re the most focused (this is different for everyone, but it’s often in the morning).

Implementing this process creates flex time throughout your week. In addition, it gives you freedom to move things around as curve balls come up, or to check off quick tasks.

The Mint Chip Mama - Megan Sumrell Time Management Tips For The Busy Mom

5. Phones Are Our Biggest Time Sucks

This is not shocking news. The little computers in our pocket constantly distract us. Megan suggests changing phone notifications to “VIP” alerts only (read: kids and spouse) and assigning a personalized sound for each.

She points out that we can proactively take our phone’s power away removing its ability to pull us in and suck our time.

Final Thoughts On Time Management Tips For The Busy Mom

In conclusion, Megan believes everyone deserves work/life harmony. As client zero, she not only reaped the benefits of her program but also feels good about helping thousands of other moms enjoy their lives.

Want to know more fun stuff about Megan? Check out her answers to my “Rapid Fire Five” questions in the YouTube video!

You can find Megan on her websiteInstagram, or Facebook. Also be sure to check out her 10 minute weekly podcast The Work Life Harmony and her app – ThePinkBee.

The Mint Chip Mama - Megan Sumrell Time Management Tips For The Busy Mom


Fun Hobbies To Introduce to Your Children

I’m so excited to host another GUEST BLOGGER on The Mint Chip Mama! Please welcome: Christina Duron!

Finding ways to entertain your kids is tough. They need a lot of stimulation as they develop, and they quickly find themselves bored. If this sounds like your family, now is the perfect time to help your kiddos find a hobby. Getting started early will help them identify their interests and give them plenty of time to dive in deep as they get older. Check out these fun hobbies to introduce to your children.


Children have wild imaginations and are always coming up with pretend scenarios. Give them something to channel that energy into by encouraging them to write. Writing stories is an excellent way for your kids to learn how to express themselves while also teaching them valuable skills they can use later in life. Whether they’re crafting elaborate fantasy worlds or journaling their thoughts and feelings, writing is a fun hobby to introduce to your children.


Does your child love being in the spotlight? If so, performing might be the perfect hobby for them. There are many performance outlets for them to explore, like acting in a community production or playing an instrument in a recital. You could even get the entire household involved and put on a one-family show! Performing helps kids get out of their shells and teaches them to stand tall in front of a crowd.


Tending to a garden isn’t only an activity for adults. It takes patience to grow a successful garden, a trait that all kids can benefit from learning. Gardening also teaches children responsibility by giving them something to take care of. This is an easy activity to get your kids involved in because you only need a backyard and some seeds to begin!


If your child has a particular interest, this is the perfect opportunity to introduce them to the world of collecting. You can start a collection from many things, like coins, stickers, or baseball cards. If your kids love comic books, help them start an action figure collection with their favorite characters. This collection will grow as they get older and become even more valuable over time.

Encouraging your children to participate in a hobby teaches them to be independent, among many other valuable life skills. Help them make precious childhood memories by introducing them to an activity they can enjoy for a lifetime.

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