Play Time

Are your kids prepared in case of a fire ?

Fire prevention week

My six-year-old twins and I recently saw Disney’s Planes, Fire and Rescue, which has prompted an incredible new interest in all things fire related. We’ve had to talk about forest fires, and house fires, and fire helicopters and fire trucks, and on and on and on.

Not only that, one of my six-year-old princesses has now decided she wants to be a fire “person” when she grows up! I used to think it was just little boys that wanted to grow up and be a firefighter, but that myth has been totally debunked! We have created fighter costumes, firehouses, and firetrucks out of any number of toys in their toy box. And let me tell you, that girl absolutely loses her blueberries every time she hears a siren. Anytime she hears one she screams, “Fire!”  We’ve had to have a conversation or two about the dangers of yelling “Fire” in public places.

On the bright side though, her sudden obsession with firefighting opened up a great door for us to have some new fire safety conversations. It’s so important that your kids know what to do in a fire, not just at school, but at home as well.

Here are some great tips for you to use when teaching your children about in-home fire safety.

  1. Develop a Family Escape Plan

In our house, the grown ups sleep downstairs and the children sleep upstairs, so the kids need their own separate escape plan. And just like at school, you need to practice that escape plan at least once a month.

  1. Create a Designated Safe Meeting Place

When you have all escaped the house, you need to have a designated meeting place that is safe for all members of the family to get to. If you have little people, make sure they don’t have to cross the street to get to their safe place. For us, our safe place is our next door neighbor’s front porch.

  1. Equip Your Home with Practical Fire Prevention Equipment
    1. Smoke Detectors outside of every bedroom and in the kitchen and utility rooms
    2. Carbon Monoxide Detectors
    3. Safety ladders for two-story homes
    4. Fire extinguishers
    5. Fire lock boxes to protect your important papers
  1. Let Kids Learn About Fire Safety in a Fun Way
    One of our favorite websites is It’s got some great games and activities that teach kids all about the dangers of fire.
  2. Practice Stop Drop And Roll

Seems kind of outdated, but according to many sources we asked, Stop, Drop and Roll is an effective way to teach kids not to panic if they catch on fire. It should be used in conjunction with other firefighting methods to adequately extinguish a fire.


Deluxe Fire Truck Pedal Car

Take some time this week to talk with your little people about fire safety. Practice your safety routines and even spend some time roll playing what to do in case a fire ever breaks out in your home. Remember, safety first!

#sweetretreatkids #pedalcars #firehouseplayhouse


Firehouse Playhouse


Fire Fighter Comet Sedan


Classic Fire Engine Foot to Floor Racer

How to Motivate Your Kids to Be Active

I’ve mentioned once or twice that we have two sets of kids, the grown up “blue set”, and our twins, “the pink set.” I remember being a little girl, the middle child with a brother on each side of me, and declaring one day, “I WILL NOT have sons, only daughters, because boys are awful!”

Funny that I grew up and gave birth to two boys. But life in the blue world was amazingly fun, always active, and never dull. It was a life filled with pedal cars and trikes and every sort of outdoor toy for kids imaginable. I knew the blue world. I rocked the blue world.

So imagine my surprise when God decided to plop down twin girls into our lives. Initially I thought, “This is going to be great! We can play dolls, and watch Disney princess movies together. It’s going to be amazing.”

And it was. Until I realized I was creating couch potatoes with all that doll playing and Disney movie watching. I needed to get those girls MOVING.

But let’s get real. Wouldn’t it be easy for most of us to let our kids spend their days watching TV and playing video games? If we want our kids to lead active lives, we’ve got to help motive them to be active.

How To Motivate Your Kids to Be Active

Step One: Limit Screen Time

Okay, I know everyone “knows” this, but if you aren’t intentional about it, Screen Time (TV, Video Games, Computers, Notebooks) creeps up on you and takes over your day. Our rules at home are pretty simple.

  • No Screens in the morning, except on Saturday
  • One movie a day (unless someone is sick, including mom, and then all bets are off)
  • Two TV shows a day
  • We don’t do video games or computer games yet b/c I personally think 5 is just too young for that

That’s it! It doesn’t matter what your “rules” are, just set some boundaries and stick to them.

Step Two: Play Outside

It’s crazy that we had to be intentional about “Play Outside” but I guess it’s like anything else in life these days, if you don’t schedule it in, it doesn’t happen. So every day we are intentional about going outside. Of course, the girls would be content to blow bubbles, find bugs (true story) or play with sidewalk chalk, so we take it a step farther and actually have them play with outside toys for kids that make them move. (Think pulling wagons, playing in the sprinkler, hopscotch, you get the idea!)

Step Three: Move Your Legs

Yep, this is an actual goal. We try to do something every day that involves moving our legs. Your legs are the largest muscle on your body, so you want to make them strong ones!

  • Play chase
  • Ride Pedal toys like pedal cars or pedal planes or trikes or bikes
  • Jump on a trampoline
  • Swing (yes, that requires your leg muscles)

And on rainy days, we break the rules and play hide-n-seek inside and live life on the crazy edge and run indoors! (Calm down. I do what I want.)

Step Four: Make Exercise Fun

As your kids get older, they won’t really “play” for exercise, and if they are like most adults, they’ll become inactive, stressed out slugs (okay, that’s an overstatement. I’m trying to be dramatic!) My point is teaching them to enjoy exercise at an early age is important.

Here are some great and simple exercises you can do with your kids.

  • Jumping Jacks or Jumping Rope
  • Squats (kids love to do squats!)
  • Running (I’m not talking a 5K here, but running is great for the cardiovascular system)
  • Yoga for Kids
  • Dance
  • Swimming (not just the bounce around in the pool kind)

This list could go on forever. But you get the idea. Help your kids enjoy exercising by setting aside some time each week for it.

Motivating your kids to be active helps them have a positive self-image, aids in brain development, and helps them develop a love for a healthy, active lifestyle.

#sweetretreatkids #pedaltoys #pedalplanes #pedalcars #gettingactive #exercise

Red Barron Pedal Plane

Red Barron Pedal Plane

Deluxe Roadster in Pink

Deluxe Roadster in Pink


Fire Truck Comet Pedal Car

Fire Truck Comet Pedal Car


Why Sparking Your Child’s Imagination Is Critical to Their Success

As many of you know, my husband and I have two sets of kids, a set of boys we have raised to adulthood, and a set of girls, twin 5-year-olds we lovingly call the “twinderellas.”  We often refer to our two seasons of parenting as “life in the blue world” and “life in the pink world.”

I loved being the mom of little boys. Life in the blue world may not have been filled with baby dolls and dollhouses, but nevertheless, we spent hours in imaginative play, creating, building, destroying, and dreaming of new ways to create, build and destroy.  (I may or may not have sneaked in a doll or two along the way.)

But life in the pink world is so much more fun!

I confess, I have become slightly addicted to dollhouses (admitting it is the first step, right?).  I have accumulated My girls have accumulated quite an array of dollhouses, nicely complimented by a giant box of dollhouse furniture.  Sometimes we take all their dollhouses and all their baby dolls and all their dollhouse furniture and we build a giant doll village where we spend hours playing.

Okay, who am I kidding? THEY spend hours playing, but I do frequently interject and besides that, my life in the blue world taught me how to build a wicked cool doll village . . . so there.

Why Am I Telling You All This?

Boosting your child’s imagination is critical to their brain development (and you know how I love to talk about brain development!) It helps them

  • Develop social and emotional skills
  • Solve real-life problems through imaginative play
  • Tell you what they are thinking about long before they have those communication skills
  • Learn to care for the needs of others
  • Develop higher order thinking skills
  • Use the creative side of their brain which is critical for spatial and mathematical development

It’s like Mr. Rogers said, Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

So whether it’s with a baby doll or a dump truck, give your children opportunities to use their imaginations every single day. After all, it’s serious learning.

I’d love to hear from you! What are your children’s favorite imaginative toys?

Why Sparking Your Child’s Imagination Is Critical to Their Success

Sophie’s Dollhouse

A STUFFED ANIMAL taught my child!

The Greatest Educational Tool You Can Give Your Kids is a STUFFED ANIMAL?

When one of my twin girls was very young, she needed to have a sleep study done. It was a very scary thing, so I purchased a plush stuffed giraffe by Hansa for her that she named, “Gigi.” From that day forward, Gigi was her beloved companion. Gigi comforted her when she was hurt. He was her brave escort to the potty in the middle of the night. She played with Gigi, talked with Gigi, fought with Gigi, and worked out some of her toughest problems with Gigi’s help.

Gigi taught her how to open the door to her imagination and from there, how to think outside the box, how to solve problems on her own, and how to be creative. Let me say that again. A STUFFED ANIMAL taught my special needs child how to be a complex thinker.

The ability to think outside the box comes in two ways, by nature and by nurture; you are either born with the gift or it is developed within you during your childhood. We can never underestimate the value that something as simple as a stuffed toy can bring to the life and mind of a child.

Nurturing your child’s use of their imagination provides the following real-life benefits that carry over into adulthood:

  • Helps develop and improve social skills
  • Teaches cooperation with others
  • Can heal emotional wounds
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves brain function (memory and problem solving)
  • Triggers creativity and innovation

If you ever come to my house, one thing you will find (besides Gigi and all the replacement Gigi’s we have purchased over the years) is a giant basket of well-loved, well-worn stuffed animals of every shape and size, from life-sized plush animals to miniatures. We encourage imaginative play because we believe it’s the greatest educational tool we can give our kids.

STUFFED ANIMAL - Life Size Stuffed Giraffe

Life Size Stuffed Giraffe

It’s Officially No Housework Day.

It’s No Housework Day – This is Not a Hoax!

Moms, Dads, Parents everywhere, TODAY is the day you have been waiting for. It’s No Housework Day. Yep, you read that right, it’s No Housework Day.

I know you are probably asking yourself right now if I am making this up, but I’m not. It’s actually an officially recognized day. In fact, doctors state that in today’s busy world it is essential for us to factor in relaxation time in order to be healthier and happier parents. So not only is it a nationally recognized day, it is a medical necessity, practically.

You are officially hereby given official authority to take the day off. So put down your brooms and your weedwackers and hang out with your kids!

Because I know your brain is still reeling from the realization that you don’t have to do housework, I have taken the liberty of coming up with a few ideas for ways you can hang out with your kids and really make this day EPIC!

  • Host an EPIC Tea Party – Anyone can throw a tea party, but it takes some skill to throw an Epic Tea Party. I’m talking front yard, whole neighborhood, feather boas and teddy bears Tea Party.
  • Have an EPIC Camp-In – I don’t know where you live, but here in Texas, it’s already too hot to camp OUT, so why not Camp In? You can build a tent or camp in a luxury indoor playhouse. Either way, your kids will LOVE the idea of a campout in the living room. Make a pretend campfire, sing songs and make s’mores (We sorta melt the marshmallows in the microwave and then make them over the campfire. Our girls call them “hot sweet sandwich things.”)
  • Build an EPIC Fort – One of my sons’ and daughters’ most favorite things to do is build a gigantic fort. I mean a fort that takes over an entire room of the house, complete with secret passageways, doors, windows and skylights! We pretty much rock at fort building in our house.
  • Use Your Epic Imagination – Kids are the absolute best at imaginative play. You know why? Because they let themselves use their imagination. As adults, we simply have forgotten how to do it. So today, embrace your inner child. Turn an ordinary closet into a dark forest. Transform bedspreads into fabric playhouses. Use your imagination. It’s still in there. It’s just been buried under housework and honey do’s.
  • Take an Epic Nap – Okay, you might struggle a little to get your kids on board with this one, but hey, it might work! Especially if you’ve hosted an Epic Tea Party or build an Epic Fort!

But no matter how you spend your day of No Housework, enjoy yourselves and your children. You deserve it, and besides that, it’s doctor’s orders.

Housewife holding towels on white background

No Housework Day

Gingerbread Cottage Playhouse

No Housework Day

Toy Shop Appliqued Playhouse

The Importance of Music in Your Child’s Life

The Importance of Music in Your Child’s Life (Hint: It Makes Them Brilliant)

When I was little, my absolute favorite thing in the world was choir at my church. I loved everything about it. Our teacher, Mrs. Periwinkle sat at the baby grand piano and played and sang with such great merriment that it made us all want to be just like her.

But hands down, the best part about kid’s choir was when she brought out the giant bucket of musical instruments for kids; the kid’s toy piano, the kid’s harp (a kid’s harp, pretty much the coolest thing ever), those sandpaper blocks, that triangle thingy.

I really credit my love for writing and all things creative to my early experiences with music. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not musical. At all. But I think those early musical experiences unlocked my brain and my imagination.

And of course, because I’m a geek and love all things related to the brain, I did a little research on the subject. Here’s what I found:

Music Makes Your Kids Smarter

It’s true. Music makes your kids smarter.

In a study by Frances Rauscher, a psychologist of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh and physicist Gordon Shaw of the University of California at Irvine specifically linked music to necessary brain development. They showed that preschoolers who were exposed to multi-sensory stimulation—namely musical keyboard lessons (think kid’s toy piano for starters) and group singing—scored higher on tests measuring spatial reasoning, a skill used later in math, science, and engineering.

And, in a recent study at the University of California, they discovered that music trains the brain for higher level thinking skills.

So, because I love to help y’all and try to do my part to make the world a lovelier place, I’ll recap for you.

  • Create a home filled with music
  • Get a big bucket and fill it full of musical instruments for children
  • Make sure to include a kid’s toy piano or a baby grand (go big or go home)
  • Sing to your babies, sing with your littles, and let your bigger kids make up their own songs.

I’m off to buy a big bucket . . . and some musical toys. I’ll probably write a song about it on the way. Don’t expect me to sing it to you though.

And hey, I’m curious. If you were me, what one instrument for kids would you buy for your big bucket and why? #sweetretreatkids #kidspiano

The Importance of Music in Your Child’s Life

The Importance of Music in Your Child’s Life

Relive your childhood with a kids’ pedal car

Pink Pedal Car

Pink Pedal Car

Remember those days when you would ride your pedal car for hours?  Bring that memory alive again and give your children their very own kids’ pedal car.  There are so many types of pedal cars to choose from, such as plane pedal cars, train pedal cars, fire truck pedal cars, and more.  Numerous styles will make it easy to choose the perfect one for your girl or boy…even heirloom tricycles.

Are your kids too young to pedal, or do you simply want another way to enjoy this toy?  Not a problem!  Get the optional conversion rocker kit. It’s easily attached and removed making this toy great for indoor or outdoor play.  Enjoy!  See these and many other kids’ toys at Sweet Retreat Kids.

Make indoor play fun with kids’ fabric playhouses

Fabric Playhouse for Kids with Horse Theme

Pink Fabric Playhouse with Fun Horse Theme

Have you ever heard this, “Mommy, I’m bored”.   As mothers of five girls, we have many times.  Now, if it is raining outside or your kids are just “bored”, they can have hours of fun indoors with these kids’ fabric playhouses.   There are several fun options for little boys like the  Toy Shop Playhouse, or even a fun Wigwam Theme.    Girls will love the Gingerbread Cottage Playhouse or the horse themed playhouse shown here.     Isn’t it great to watch your kids play and use their imaginations?  We love hearing our girls talk about their next big playtime adventure.  These playhouses are also great for secret hideouts or curling up with a good book at story time.  Girls will also have fun playing with the fabric hanging tents. Your little girl can use it as a permanent bed canopy or a quick garden play tent. Want to see more fabric playhouses?  They are available at Sweet Retreat Kids and we hope you enjoy!

The Most Amazing Back Yard Play Sets You’ve Ever Seen!

Custom Playhouse Treehouse

The Timberland Treehouse Deluxe

Custom Play Sets for Your Back Yard – We don’t even know what to call them, because they have a little bit of everything.  They have a fun, crooked playhouse with tilted windows, a bent roof, and rustic accessories, so we could call them the world’s coolest, craziest crooked playhouses.  But wait, these crooked playhouses come with their own tree.  That’s right, our builders find dying trees or trees that have come down in storms, saving them from the landfills.  They spend days hollowing out the inside of the huge tree trunks, they carve a door opening, and add a ladder for kids to climb.  So, since these crooked playhouses come with their own tree, I guess they’re also treehouses!  Of course, it’s not your average treehouse.  You can add a swing set, tire swing, monkey bars, slide, climbing net, rock wall, and more.  We offer a few standard colors, but we can match any color chip you give us.  We can even design it to include electricity, running water, and an intercom system that connects to your main home.  It’s time to enjoy the great outdoors in style!  Call Sweet Retreat Kids at 281-516-9222 to learn more about these custom playhouse / treehouse / jungle gym / swing sets – otherwise known as “the most amazing back yard play sets” ever.