Megan Devine
School Days
This past January, I turned 40 years old. Once upon a time in my life, 40 sounded so old.But this transition to my fifth decade has been certainly much smoother than I would have anticipated.For you younger-than-40 readers, I want you to know that growing older doesn’t have to signal your demise! Growing older is what you make of it.For me “40” is a just a new age stamp I happen to be wearing in my life journey. I am older than I was at 15, 26 and 30. But I’m also more... more
Your first year of parenting
It’s been over 15 years since I had my first baby and over eight years since I had my last. Oh, what a chapter those baby years were!With four go-abouts on the pregnancy, childbirth, caring-for-tiny-humans train — and as a mother of a 15-year-old, a 12-year-old, a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old, with much distance from midnight... more
My parenting truths
At this moment, I’m sitting at my laptop on the far edge of our dining room table, digging deep in my brain for an insightful message to share, something you can relate to that could perhaps help you on your parenting journey.But how can I inspire you when I’m sitting here shortly after losing my temper with one of my sons (due to... more
Love for everyone
This time of year, if you happen to take a walk through a Target, you may feel an overwhelming urge to purchase seasonal cupcake liners, a heart-shaped throw pillow, a spatula adorned with cupids and a bag of individually wrapped dark chocolate hearts to supplement the five necessities on your shopping list. Valentine’s Day, just... more
Don’t let dinner get you down
Plan, shop, cook, eat, clean up, repeat: These are the responsibilities that come with feeding a family. As a working mom with four busy, growing and hungry kids, I get frustrated at times, and sometimes overwhelmed, with this ongoing chore. It’s not easy to deal with the daily challenge of timing and coordinating food for... more
Loud, busy, messy, rich and full
Some days being a working mom of four kids kicks my butt.I admit, I really didn’t know what I was getting into when our household expanded from just my husband and me to a family with one child, then two, then three, then four children (not to mention the addition of 20-plus chickens, a cat and a German shepherd). Parenting my four... more
Staying healthy this season
The holidays are fast approaching. As a working mom with four busy kids, I’m certainly a work in progress when it comes to navigating this time of year with grace.The onset of winter — with its increased darkness and lower temperatures combined with the increased obligations associated with holiday festivities (spending and traveling to... more
Teachers can only do so much
You are your child’s most important teacher.I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, but I’m going to take this opportunity to shout out from my writer-teacher-mama soapbox to reiterate and emphasize this truth. I’ve been an educator in the public school system for the past 19 years. I’m on the front lines, so to speak, stepping into a... more
How birth order affects kids
My four kids are no longer babies: My eldest is 14 and my youngest is 8; the other two are 10 and 12. Although I’m not new to the parenting adventure, the journey is proving to be fun, interesting and, of course, sometimes challenging, as my kids’ individual personalities are becoming more developed.Recently, I’ve done some reading... more
The power of good sleep
It’s August! It’s time to enjoy the peak of the summer season. But it’s also time to start thinking about transitioning back to school.Very soon I’ll be back in my classroom, preparing for a new set of students and embarking on my 19th year as an educator! Throughout my teaching tenure, through both a combination of continuing... more
Go to Ely this summer!
For those of you who are regular readers of my column, you may have come to realize that I’m not an urban city dweller. Although these pages are published in the metro area, my monthly contribution to Minnesota Parent magazine originates several hours away from the hustle and bustle of big-city life. From my own little corner... more
Get camping this summer!
My first memories of camping are from when I was a young child in the early ’80s with my mom, dad and brother in our Volkswagen Westfalia Pop-Up Campervan. During my childhood summers, we took a couple of longer campervan trips — one traveling east and another west — and many shorter camping trips to Minnesota state parks. As... more
How to prevent ‘summer slide’
It’s May! If you’re a teacher, like me, you know this month absolutely flies by with special events, field trips, programs and activities. And I know we all feel it as parents, too! Our children (and those of us whose careers revolve around the school calendar) are certainly looking forward to the change of pace that accompanies... more
Our family mission statement
Years ago, I was a member of a strategic planning committee that was revamping our school district’s mission statement. The process was empowering and thoughtful and helped our district faculty and staff clarify the commitments we wanted to make to our students. I was impressed by one of my colleagues, who took the process home and... more
Hardwiring happiness
In the midst of the full and crazy life of being a busy parent, it’s easy to get bogged down by negative experiences. I’m totally guilty of this in those moments when I find myself dwelling on …The one bit of critical feedback I’ve received, instead of many positive ones.The batch of burnt cookies I made, instead of all of the... more
Finding resilience
I want to begin this column by expressing my gratitude for the richness and fullness of my life. I have so many blessings — four healthy children, a comfortable home, a secure job, a loving husband and strong network of great friends. Compared to so many others in this world, I live an abundant and privileged life. But, as... more
Be a force of goodness
Over the past year, there have been too many headlines featuring tragedies, destruction and disaster. When I’ve heard reports of tragic news — like I’m sure many of you have — I experienced sadness, stress, fear and worry. With reports of mass shootings, corruption and disaster, it can feel like our world is falling apart.I know there’s... more
Northwoods girls weekend
It’s booked — three nights at a vacation rental on the North Shore of Lake Superior for me and three of my great friends. Whoo-hoo!!!!This will be our third-annual Northwoods “girls weekend” getaway. Why is this such a big deal?Well, as a mother of four, I spent a long time in the thick of the baby years.During that incredible but... more
How to beat the winter blues
It’s November, parenting comrades! Bring on the increased darkness, the snow and the cold and the onset of the holiday craziness.It’s time for everything to get … HARDER! Yee-hah!I wish I were kidding. But I’m not. These are just some of the challenges that come with this hectic time of year and the seasonal shift to winter in Minnesota.... more
Enriching learning at home
As a kindergarten teacher and mother of four school-age children, I often find myself capitalizing on natural learning opportunities and teachable moments outside of school. There are many simple, yet important ways we, as parents, can cultivate enriching pockets of time with our children — at home, in the outdoors or on-the-go — to... more
When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember a colleague approaching me and saying she thought I was going to be a “boy mom.” My husband and I didn’t know what we were having, and I didn’t have any real strong intuition that the child I was carrying was a boy or a girl. Truthfully, at that time, I had a hard time... more
Getting ready for K
Believe it or not, the start of the school year is fast approaching, with the familiar promise of sharp pencils, clean classrooms and new educational experiences! For me, this year brings the startling realization that my four children will be entering first, third, fifth and eighth grades. They’re growing up so quickly. And I’... more
Bugs — and bites — be gone!
July is here! It’s high time to experience all that summer has to offer in Minnesota in this short, but amazing season — ball games, picnics, time near the water, camping in the woods and going on day hikes. The challenge, especially in our fair state, is to repel those uninvited guests that frequently make themselves present during... more
A recipe for a super summer
Well, our winter in Minnesota was certainly relentless. But we survived! “Spring” didn’t exactly start on cue in March, but I’m not looking back. When I flip my calendar to the month of June, I’m in summer mode — if the weather cooperates or not!Summertime is precious to me. Because I’m an educator, every June I experience a... more
Love, kindness, renewal
Mother’s Day has been a national holiday in the United States for over a century. It was founded by Anna Jarvis, who organized the first informal observance of Mother’s Day in 1908 in honor of her mother’s wish to start a day to memorialize and honor mothers for their work and service to others.Anna’s mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis (... more
The art of the family dinner
As a working mom with four busy elementary school-age kids, I know what a challenge it can be to orchestrate regular family meals — with freshly prepared food. In my household, I’m the executive meal planner, grocery-getter and cook. On top of these responsibilities, comes the challenge of timing, coordinating and making a... more
A blog of gratitude
Early on in my parenting journey, between diaper changes and feedings, I found my way to the mama-blog sector of the world wide web. After reading a magazine article that highlighted a crafty, hobby-farming mama (Amanda Blake Soule) and her blog, I took to the Internet and found that — from behind a screen in my own little... more
Healthy-mama habits
As parents, we have our work cut out for us. We give of ourselves in so many ways, caring for our children and nurturing relationships with those we love, all while keeping up with our responsibilities of work and home.Indeed, parenthood is a service of giving and caring.To sustain this type of lifestyle —... more
Running back to health
Once upon a time, I was a young, fit and competitive athlete. As a grownup in my early 20s, I continued to exercise, running 5Ks, half-marathons and assisting the high school track team, which kept me healthy and active during the first few years of my marriage and teaching career.Then, in my mid-20s, my body started running a different... more
How to thrive this winter
During the coldest winter months in Minnesota, it can be tempting — and maybe just a little bit easier — to spend the free time of our days hunkered down in front of some kind of screen. Indeed, I value the time spent with my kids on a family movie night and with my husband each week watching the new episode of This Is Us.We all... more
Choosing your path
A couple of days ago, I made a successful batch of lavender-honey-oatmeal soap.And it turned out great. I’m not writing this to boast; instead I’m telling you this because I’m actually pretty amazed. I make soap. I’m a soap-maker. I’m also a mother, kindergarten teacher, assistant cross-country coach, beekeeper, gardener,... more
A magical experience
It is with heartfelt thanks that I would like to express my gratitude to J.K. Rowling for writing the Harry Potter series of books. With her writing, she’s given me a wonderful excuse to spend hours snuggled up next to my children, reading and connecting with them in an almost magical way.When the Harry Potter book series first came... more
Making the most of it
Summer is fading into a collage of memories. Looking back, I’m truly grateful for the special moments I was able to create and for the experiences I had with my family. Though my kids are older now (6, 8, 10 and 12), it seems like just yesterday I was trudging through the thickness of my early years of parenting. (Leaving behind the... more
Promise of a new year
The start of the school year is creeping up on the calendar. As a teacher mama, the flip of the calendar to August always brings forward a plethora of mixed feelings. August is truly a month to enjoy summer in Minnesota, so I try to spend most of the month on or near a lake. Indeed, I savor the last month of my summer break. ... more
On Mama’s bookshelf
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... 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
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
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
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
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
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
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