Megan Devine
School Days
Life as a mom of four kids is always busy.  But now that my children have all passed through the infant and toddler years — and are all school age — I seem to have a little more room in my mama brain for things that require more mental capacity. I feel as a mother of kids age 5, 7, 10 and 12, I’ve regained the privilege of reading for pleasure! I enjoy reading and, as a teacher-mama, I read to children all the time. I love sharing stories with children and the genre of children’s... more
Let them play!
Soon the school year will be ending, and we’ll be enjoying the warmer weather and the longer days that accompany the approach of the summer solstice. It’s the ideal time to start spending more time outdoors — and to let our children capitalize on their core strength as kids: Playing!I’m a firm believer that all children need to... more
Pancakes that pop!
If you grew up using boxed pancake mix, it might seem fussy to make pancakes from scratch. But once you’ve done it, you’ll see (like we did) how surprisingly easy — and tasty — it can be! You’ll likely save money — and you’ll open the door to all kinds of experimentation, too.When you’re ready to break out of the box rut, try this ... more
A mindful Mother’s Day
Happy Mother’s Day, mamas!This year we’re celebrated on May 14. That means, if we’re lucky, on this day we’ll be honored with handmade cards and gifts from our little ones.We might even receive special recognition from the father of our children or others who are supporting us in our mothering experience.Mother’s Day can be a trigger for... more
When I knew I was done
I recently helped organize a casual baby shower at a workplace gathering for a colleague. Thanks to a small group of creative teachers, we were able to pull off a Pinterest-worthy, Welcome Bébé-themed baby shower for our French-teacher mama-to-be. We shared pink cupcakes and offered words of advice over lunch with more... more
Fresh start
As a working mom of four, I find mornings in our household can be a whirlwind. Breakfast is an important meal, but it can get bland with the monotonous repetition of boxed cereal, toast or, even worse, skipping breakfast altogether. Recently, I’ve been inspired by Kate Sullivan Morford’s new book: Rise and Shine: Better... more
Making time for Mama
Mothers have a reputation of living their lives for other people. Indeed, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that for me, as a kindergarten teacher-mother of four, I could spend every waking hour doing something productive that involves some sort of service to others, whether that’s cooking family meals, doing laundry... more
Snuggle up and read!
Winter is a great time of year to get kids hooked on reading at home. When we’re stuck indoors on cold Minnesota days, get cozy and read!But, when your child is not excited about reading, fostering these habits can be a struggle. Consider these simple strategies to get your child on track:Visit your local library frequently. We try to... more
Serenity now (amid chaos)
On the holiday photo card I recently sent out to my friends and family, there’s a photograph of me, my husband and our four young children (above) — a snapshot frozen in time of all of us at our best.Below the image we shared a sincere greeting: “Oh so very blessed: Wishing you a holiday season full of joy! Merry Christmas and Happy... more
Spin this!
Are you looking for some children’s music that won’t drive you crazy? Check out the latest albums from an array of children’s artists who all offer — in their own ways — silliness to attract and engage kids, but also enough wry humor and up-tempo beats to charm their parents. Puns, jokes-so-bad-they’re-good, energetic rhythms... more
The witching hour
I’ve often referred to the time between after-school pickup and dinner as “the witching hour.”Especially with my youngest children, the time between 4 and 5 p.m. is often the most difficult time of the day. After a long day, my young children crave my attention — and I want to relax and spend time with them.But our reality is that dinner... more
It’s more than OK to say no
My poor children! They were born into a family where their mother and father aren’t afraid to say no — and to mean it. At times, they might think it’s an unfortunate circumstance, but I know that it’s often for their own good.Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of times that my husband and I do say yes, and cave in to requests. But... more
Afterschooling 101
I consider myself a lifelong learner. This is reflected in my vocation (I’m an educator at a public school) and in my hobbies, which include fiber art, cooking, soap-making, photography and blogging, to name a few. My hobbies are creative outlets that are not only enriching and fun, but also good for my own well being.They help... more
Why rough play is OK
Right now, my three boys (ages 5, 7 and 9) are in our upstairs loft wrestling.Sitting at my computer at the kitchen table, I can hear a lot of clomping around and the persistent thumping of feet and arms, all punctuated by the occasional scream and the sound of my upstairs furniture shifting.These are loud and happy wrestling sounds.... more
Not ready for all-day K
This school year my daughter will be starting sixth grade and my two middle boys will be entering third and first grades.Our youngest son could start kindergarten this year (he turned 5 in July), but based on his development — social, emotional, academic and physical — we made the decision to delay his entry into kindergarten until he’s... more
Building a better bucket list
A couple of years ago I created a bit of an over-the-top Pinterest-inspired summer bucket list with my children.In June, we made a big, colorful poster with lots of ideas of different things to do and put it on our fridge, thinking we would check off each experience as summer went on.We started right away with some practical and classic... more
Mama screen time redefined
As a busy mother, teacher and writer, I sometimes find it hard to balance my online time — social media, texting, emails — with my offline time.I find it necessary and valuable to make virtual connections, but I also yearn for and benefit from screen-free time on my own and with others who I love and care for. There are times that I... more
Plan now for summer travel!
May is an ideal time to start thinking about getting some dates for summer family adventures on the calendar.Though it can be fun to be spontaneous when it comes to travel, the reality is that traveling as a family takes some work in terms of forethought and planning: When will you take time off from work? What do you want to do? Where... more
Raising a kid with grit
Grit can be defined in a couple ways: 1) small, loose particles of stone or sand. 2) courage and resolve; strength of character.When we’re talking about raising children, pieces of dirt and sand are part of the package.But raising a child with courage, resolve and strength of character? That takes a little more effort and support on our... more
Kids in the kitchen
As a working mom with four growing children, getting healthy  meals on the table is a daily challenge. My children have the kind of appetites that provoke “I cannot believe how much ______ eats!” comments from anyone who shares a meal with them. And they have such high metabolisms, it’s a necessity for us to buy pants that come... more
How to yell less
With four kids under age 10 in our household, we’re exposed to our fair share of sibling squabbles, as you might imagine. My children have the typical arguments over toys, food, clothes, seats in the car and chairs at the table. We also experience over-the-top disputes, where I find myself mediating conflicts over a gummy bear.... more
Activity overload?
On a bulletin board mounted to the wall above my computer I’ve hung a large desk calendar that acts as our family command center, perpetually organizing our fast-paced life with four young children.The oversized squares that encapsulate each date are chock-full with activities, meetings, schedules and reminders. Indeed, our family... more
Saving your kids' art
As a mom of four school-age kids I’m finding it necessary to put some  thought into how I manage and store the abundance of kid-made goodness that is starting to accumulate in our life. My husband and I encourage creativity at home and so our children’s art table is often overflowing, and our kids come home from school daily... more
Inspiring gratitude
Soon we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving — a national day of giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest and of the past year. In our society today, Thanksgiving is typically celebrated with a gathering and feast. But, often, the thankfulness aspect of the holiday seems to be overshadowed by the emphasis on the commercialism on the... more
Learning to let go
This past summer I had the opportunity to travel out of state to attend an amazing professional development training. I put a lot of effort into finding adequate funding so I could attend and eventually bring some important information back to my school, my colleagues and the students in my classroom. I registered for the... more
How to help friends, family when a new baby arrives
This month one of my very best friends is expecting her second child. I’m so excited to meet this new little person, to hold a brand new baby, to curl the infant’s tightly clenched fingers around my index finger, to smell the top of his or her head, and then, to give the baby back to Mom and Dad and go home — to my full household... more
Back-to-school success!
The start of a new school year is fast approaching! This time of year can be a very exciting and joyful time for some, but it can also trigger some feelings of nervousness or apprehension (for both kids and parents).This year will mark my 15th year as an educator, and now, as a parent, I also have a house full of school-aged children —... more
Cool pops!
WATERMELON-MINT POPS3½ cups seeded, cubed fresh watermelon¼ cup cold water1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice6-8 mint leavesPinch of sugar (optional) Place ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze until firm (about 8 hours or overnight). LEMON-LIME BASIL POPS½ cup lemon... more
Kids in the wild
We have an abundance of beauty and nature in Minnesota. Why not share that with your children by taking them for a hike?I know: Hiking with young children can be a challenge, to say the least.But it offers so many rich benefits. In my own experiences, there have been many not-so-enjoyable “trails of tears” with my own little ones getting... more
Limiting screen time
The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than 2 and recommends limiting older children’s screen time to no more than one or two hours a day. Despite that advice, screens time is second only to sleep as the thing our kids spend the most time doing, according to a study conducted by the National... more
Traveling with (four) kids!
Our family is gearing up for a much-anticipated family trip out of state. This experience has been in the works for several months now, and I’m so happy to see the date creeping closer on our calendar.Both my husband and I have fond memories of family trips growing up and we’re doing our best to set aside the time, the money, (and the... more
Mindfulness and parenting
I’ve recently developed a strong interest in researching and applying mindfulness strategies in both my personal life and in my teaching profession. There’s strong evidence that mindfulness practices can help children and adults build emotional resilience. Mindfulness can also be an empowering method of developing daily self-regulation... more
Chore challenge!
Wash, dry, fold, cook, clean, vacuum, sweep, REPEAT. Oh, the joys of home life. If you’re like me, the repetition and monotony of performing the mundane tasks of keeping a home can make you feel frustrated and maybe even a bit trapped. It’s an endless cycle, necessary, but with short-lasting rewards: There’s always... more
The joy of reading at home
Reading to your child, listening to your child read or simply reading alongside your child are simple ways we, as parents, can support literacy development and healthy reading habits at home — and build a foundation for lifelong academic success. Our biggest challenge in making reading at home a routine of family life, is simply... more
Sneaky smoothies
Looking for ways to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your kids’ diets? These smoothies are delicious with or without the greens. (But be sure to give the greens a try. You’ll be surprised how mild they are: You may even want to add more!)Each recipe yields approximately 32 ounces. Blend the ingredients thoroughly and serve... more
Hopes, dreams, goals
Hello, Minnesota!Let me introduce myself: My name is Megan Devine. I live with my husband, daughter (age 9) and three sons (ages 7, 5 and 3) in Northeastern Minnesota. I’m delighted to be joining the team at Minnesota Parent — to share my perspective as a mother and an educator — as the publication’s new School Days columnist. ... more
Awesome apps for young kids
Our children are growing up in a fast-paced world. We as parents are forging new territory with our responsibilities to monitor and screen our children’s exposure to electronic media and content.It can be a time-consuming challenge to navigate the wealth of information and resources available for our children, especially when... more
Best board games for families!
Playing games is a fun way to unplug from our many electronic devices — and build a sense of connection as a family. Board games, stacking games and card games also provide educational opportunities for children to practice important social skills such as taking turns, self-control, communication and perseverance. Check out these quick,... more
What teachers really want for the holidays
I was recently asked: What gifts do teachers really want for the holidays?I thought this would be a great opportunity to share some ideas based on my insights as both a primary schoolteacher and frugal mother of four who’s working to make sure gifts I purchase during this holiday season have both meaning and purpose.First of all, I must... more
Notes from a teacher-mama
I sit here in this early morning hour, while my own four young children are asleep, with a knot in my stomach and tension in my neck and a large mug of coffee.I’m an educator and a mother, trying to stay present in these last few days before I head back to work as a kindergarten teacher. I’ve already spent full summer days... more