Tips For New Moms

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ParentingWithPrimoH2o #CollectiveBias

I had someone call me a parenting “expert” before and I had to laugh. I don’t know if it’s because I have a parenting blog, I’ve spoken at parenting conferences, or because I had more than one child, but let me just start by saying I’m not an expert. I’m just a mom who has been there, done that and I’m still learning how to be successful at this parenting thing. I think I could be one of those tv moms with a couple dozen kids and still not be an expert because every child is so different! While I’m not an expert though, having just left the newborn stage with my third child means I do have a few tricks and tips I’ve discovered that have worked for our family. I wanted to share them in hopes they’d help make things easier for other moms. We’re all sleep-deprived and busy so anything that gives us a bit more time back with our kiddos or helps us sleep a few more minutes here and there is a win right?

I had to start off with a sweet photo of my oldest and youngest. As you can see there is a big gap between the two and I’ve learned a lot over this past decade of parenting (I feel so old now typing that…) Here are some things I’ve discovered:

Join a local mom’s group

I’ve talked about it here on the blog before but joining a mom’s group was probably one of the best things I have done as a parent. When I first had Jacob I only knew one other mom my age so I joined my first local mom’s group (that also had an online forum) when Jacob was just a few months old. I found it invaluable when I was up in the middle of the night with a question or just needed someone to talk to. I started going to playdates before Jacob was even moving around because I needed to get out of the house and talk to other moms. Eventually I’d join many other online mom’s groups as well but I found the local one where we could meet “IRL” so beneficial. If you are raising your child without family (or that village we hear so much about) around you’ll want to do this asap!

Always have an extra outfit for baby (and make sure it fits). Bring one for yourself, too.

Most parents have enough common sense to pack an extra outfit for baby in their diaper bag whenever they go out but do you always make sure it fits? I always keep one in there but discovered that I also want to occassionally check to make sure it’s baby’s size still. A month or so ago I was at a meeting and feeding Emma when I felt something warm in my lap (I’m sure you can all guess what had happened….) I grabbed a diaper, wipes, and her spare outfit and went to change her. I quickly realized, as I was putting the outfit on her, that even though it was her size it was definetely too small for her. Since I had nothing else for her to wear I had to just button up my little sausage baby and hope that the snaps held her baby fat in until we got home. I also recommend keeping a change of clothes in the car for yourself because Emma’s little accident had made me look like I peed myself but I didn’t have a pair of spare pants to change in to.

Don’t stock up on newborn clothes

As you can tell from the point above, babies outgrow their clothes quickly. Newborn clothes are probably one of the worst baby investments you can make because they sometimes only last a couple weeks before babies can’t wear them anymore. Plus, in the first month or so they will probably live in onesies and baby sleepers anyway. I had some of the cutest outfits hanging in Emma’s closet and she never got to wear them!

Make middle of the night feedings easier

When baby’s cries wake you up you’ll be half asleep and feeling like a zombie those first couple months. While you can’t avoid those middle of the night wake up calls, you can make things easier on yourself! If you breastfeed, have everything that you’ll need nearby. I had made myself a little basket with the essentials for pumping and put it right next to my chair so everything I needed was within reach when I was holding Emma. Now we use formula for our little girl and, though she doesn’t wake up as much, I still set everything up for the next time she’ll eat (which is especially helpful if I know daddy is getting up with her). I put a clean bottle on the counter along with her formula. I also leave a burp cloth next to the chair we sit in for feedings.

We used to fill her bottle up with tap water because we didn’t know any better…My mom yelled at me the first time she saw me do so and I brushed her words off saying she would be fine because we all drank the water. While most tap water contains chemicals and other contaminants that purified water doesn’t but I figured the water in my nice suburb wasn’t that bad. I was shocked when I looked it up online and discovered that my town’s water had 8 contaminants detected above health guidelines and 6 other detected contaminants! #MomFAIL. Pound for pound, a baby’s body can’t filter contaminants like an adult’s body can (even though adults shouldn’t be exposed to them either). Not only that but a lot of tap water sources are treated with fluoride, which also poses concerns for babies.

I knew I needed to stop having my family use tap water immediately because the quality of the water is just as important as the quality of the formula I have chosen. I heard about the Primo® First Steps Bottom-Loading Water Dispenser and it seemed like the perfect fit for our whole family. The dispenser provides cold, warm or hot drinking water with the warm option supplying water at 98.6-104 degrees Fahrenheit—specially designed for mixing baby formula. Middle of the night feedings are so much easier now that we just have to push a button to get water at the right temperature! When my boys were babies we used to have to stand over the sink holding the bottles under running warm water until the bottle was the perfect temperature. Those days are now in the past!

The unit sets up in minutes with no tools, plumbing, or installation required and the easy bottom-loading design means no more lifting heavy bottles. Primo® is the only brand that delivers best in class dispensers for the home and safe, great-tasting bulk water either exchange or refill water. The water dispenser uses 3 or 5-gallon bottles (sold separately) which we found at a number of stores nearby. Once we had purchased the water at our local Lowe’s all we had to do was hook it up and push it in the cabinet.

One of the things I was initially concerned about when looking at water coolers was that my baby would burn herself on the hot water once she started walking so it was comforting to know that the hot water has a child-resistant safety feature. Not only was there a switch to turn it off on the back but I could lock the front controls so none of the buttons would work if pushed by little fingers. There is also a self-sanitizing function that boils the water in the warm water reservoir every 12 hours (or more often if you choose) to ensure the quality of the water. While we got this mainly for the warm water for bottles and the icy cold water for drinking, having the hot water makes our hot cocoa for family movie nights a breeze to make which my older boys love!

You can learn more and purchase the Primo water dispenser at primowater.com. If baby isn’t here yet, consider adding it to your baby registry! I know sometimes, especially if you have other children, you might not need many baby things since you still have them from when your other kids were younger so this is a great gift idea if you really aren’t sure what to add to your registry!

Restock the diaper bag every evening

I learned this one the hard way. When my boys were younger I grabbed the diaper bag as I was running out the door for the day. I had forgotten that I used my last wipe and of course I needed them when I was out! Let’s just say that toilet paper does not work as well as a wipe does for cleaning dirty baby bottoms… Since mornings are always hectic I’ve found it easiest to get the diaper bag ready at night so I don’t have to worry about packing it while trying to get all three kids out the door.

Keep diapers and other necessities in more than one place

Before I had my first child I carefully set up the changing table with everything that I’d need for diaper changes. Once I actually had Jacob though I discovered that I rarely actually used the changing table. I typically would just lay a blanket out on our living room floor and change him there. Having diaper changing supplies in a few different places (my room, his room, and our living room) ended up making the most sense. This is especially true if you live in a two story home because who wants to be walking up and down steps all day just to change a dirty diaper?

What tips do you have? I’d love to hear them! Bonus points if they are helpful for babies who are on-the-go because that’s our next stage! (And honestly, it’s been almost a decade since I’ve been in that stage so I don’t remember much about it!) Chat with me on social! Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

 

 

3 Ways To Encourage Your Child’s Artistic Passions

This post is sponsored by The Brand Connection/Pentel. All ideas and opinions are my own.

artistic children

Jacob has always been interested in playing sports but, over the past couple of years, he has really gotten into the arts as well. From music to the visual arts, he’s taken an interest in all things artistic. As parents we want to encourage our children as best we can so I wanted to share a few ways I’ve found to encourage him in his artistic pursuits.

The first way is to provide children with materials that let them be creative, from a microphone for singers to an instrument kids can learn to art supplies they can use to make fabulous creations. Since my boys were young we’ve always had a variety of open ended craft supplies (like craft sticks, tissue paper, and beads) available for them so that creating something could be done at anytime. If you don’t have a large budget there are plenty of everyday objects and recycled materials (like newspapers, cartons, and shampoo bottles) that children can craft with. I share 100 recycled craft ideas here to give you an idea of materials you will want to keep on hand.

I also provide my boys with a number of different types of writing utensils, paintbushes, and the like for painting, drawing, and coloring. Last school year Jacob was in art club and, this past spring, had a piece featured in the school district’s art showcase at a local gallery. He was so excited about this honor of having a creation on display and was proud of the piece he had created- a military themed, all black ink design on a white background.

He did such a nice job on his gallery piece but, while I loved the black and white design, I thought it would be fun to gift him a set of colorful pens from Pentel to add a little *pop* of color to his future art work. These pens were a flashback to my 90’s childhood and I was so excited to share the virbrant colored pens with him. From the “milky” pastel colors to the “solar” neon colors to the “sparkle” iridescent colors, I knew he would love these smooth gel ink pens as much as I did. He was especially drawn to the neon colors which didn’t suprise me!

He wanted to create a comic book with his new pens. A few years ago he had started a comic book collection with his dad and thought it would be cool to create one of his own. I agreed with him that these pens would be perfect for the job. This is where tip #2 for encouraging your little artist comes in- join in on their artistic hobby with them!

I’ll admit I’m not very talented when it comes to drawing, painting, and things like that (though I do really enjoy a good, therapuatic coloring session in an adult coloring book!) but one thing I am good at is organizing my creative thoughts (I am a writer, after all!) So I helped Jacob figure out a process for preparing his comic, much like he would do in school for an essay or I do for more in-depth, researched blog posts. He brainstormed ideas for the characters, came up with a storyline, figured out what images he would draw in each box, and then started sketching out the comic strip with his Pentel Mechanical Pencil. Once he’d drawn everything out he added pops of color with the Pentel Gel Pens. It was a fun project for a rainy afternoon!

Another way to encourage your child’s artistic abilities is to put them in lessons or activities to help them grow their skill. Jacob takes guitar lessons at a local music school and this year is joining his school band. Communities and schools often have art classes where children can learn how to draw or how to take beautiful photographs with their camera (my love of photography started in my high school’s dark room). Those on a budget may be able to barter for services, choose low-cost options like school clubs, or have their child take private or group lessons from college students who often charge less than professionals.

No matter what type of artistic endeavor your child is interested in, I think one of the most important things you can do as a parent is to support your child and their passions! How do you encourage your child’s artistic pursuits? I’d love to hear about it so chat with me on twitter, instagram, or facebook!

It Is Okay If This Summer Is Not The Best Summer Ever

I’m sure you have all seen the meme that has been going around Facebook reminding us that we only have 18 summers with our kids. It reminds us of how fleeting our time is and how our children will only be little for a short period of time so we should make this summer count. With my oldest being 10, and already over halfway to adulthood, I appreciate the author’s message now more than ever. At the same time though, that meme made me feel guilty and like a failure.

See, in past years I made summer bucket lists with the goal of trying to cram as much fun into our summers as I could and make every second of summer perfect for my boys. I even wrote a post with tips on how to maximize the summer months together where I declared our summer starting May 1st one year so we had more time for summer fun. We would go on monthly trips, head to all these fun places, and do all sorts of exciting things I thought would make the kids remember their childhood for years to come.

This summer is unlike all the rest though. This summer I feel like I have been failing. I don’t have a bucket list written down nor exciting vacations planned. In fact, up until now, I wouldn’t even say we’ve done any typical summer activity other than going to the pool a couple times. Being pregnant, and in my first trimester, means I’ve spent more time with my head over a toilet and napping on the couch than I’ve spent doing anything even remotely exciting with my boys. To add to that, the month started with excessive cleaning as we prepared to host a few dozen people for a party in our home and ended with me having a horrendous toothache (complete with root canal) and basically hibernating for a whole weekend (per my doctor’s orders) due to an extreme heatwave aggravating my asthma.

Now that it’s July, and I’m feeling a little better, I hope to finally start our summer but it won’t be as exciting and eventful as years past. Nothing about it will be extraordinary that they can look back on with fond memories. I’m learning to accept that though because I have to keep this in perspective. This is one summer of my children’s lives. 3 months. And I don’t just have 18 summers with my kids, I have 18 whole years with them at home. Plus, when they get older I’ll still see them as much as I can so it’s not as limited a time frame as it seems.

In the meantime, I’m hoping they will remember the sweet times we’ve had together during this slow season of life before things get hectic with school, the holidays, and the arrival of baby #3. They will remember the time spent cuddling on the couch, the times I stood standing over the stove making grilled cheese sandwiches even when I was feeling nauseous, and the one-on-one time we had together.

Maybe you are pregnant like me and finding fatigue has overwhelmed your body. Maybe you are struggling with post-partum depression and struggling to just get through each day. Maybe you are taking care of a sick child. Maybe you are mourning the death of a parent. Maybe your chronic illness keeps you from doing everything you wish you could. Whatever the reason, I encourage you to find joy in the little moments with your children and to remember that if this summer is not one for the memory books it’s okay because there are plenty more seasons left that you can enjoy with your kids.

School Car Line Etiquette 101

Other titles I considered for this post were “how not to be a jerk in the school car line” and “school pickup etiquette for dummies”. I truly can’t believe this needs to be written but it does. I think I am pretty patient but there is one thing that drives me crazy and that is parents that can’t follow the simple rules of drop-off and pickup. And we aren’t talking about new parents who are doing this thing for the first time….it’s April you guys. We started school in August so if someone is still acting foolish in the school car line then it is not because of lack of knowledge. So here are basic etiquette rules for the car line. Feel free to share this post with anyone you think could use the refresher…

General car line guidelines

 

Don’t cut in line.

This should be obvious because even kindergarteners can line up and wait their turn but this is the biggest problem at our school and what prompted me to write this post. We had one vehicle in particular cut in line almost EVERY WEEK FOR A YEAR AND A HALF.  There would be a line of cars and she would literally go up along the side of the line (or enter into the exit of the parking lot), pull up and BACK INTO THE FRONT OF THE LINE. Seriously. Who sees a line and thinks that reversing their car and backing into the front of it is the correct thing to do!? Now I do not like confrontation so I never talked to the parent but I would definitely sit there extremely annoyed every time she did it. Finally the staff talked to her but only after she almost backed into a staff member who was crossing to get to the parking lot. Same with the parents who try to squeeze their vehicles into the small gaps between cars. Just find the end of the line. Please. Anyway, moving on….

Pull forward.

There is no reason to leave a car’s length of empty space in between your car and the vehicle in front of you. Dozens of parents are trying to get their children to or from school every day and it takes much longer when parents don’t pull forward.

Don’t park in the line and get out of your vehicle.

The pickup and drop off lines are supposed to be moving lines. If you have to park and help your child out of the vehicle or run something inside (or for any other reason), then find a designated parking spot and park your vehicle there. Otherwise STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE during drop off and pick up times when the car line is full of parents trying to drop off or pickup their children.

Get off your phone and pay attention.

You are outside a school which means that there are kids all around you. Get off your phone and pay attention when you are driving because the kid’s lives matter more than whatever you are doing on your phone. Just put it down until you are at home or at work.

School drop off 

 

Your kid doesn’t need to be let out right in front of the door.

A few car lengths walk will not kill them. I tell my boys that every time they want to whine about having to exit the car when we are not right in front of the door to the school. I mean, I can see if it’s pouring rain or something but even then your kids won’t melt. Promise.

Make sure your child is ready to get out of the vehicle when they need to be.

School pickup time is not the time to do a long goodbye ritual, get the cold weather gear on, or fill out forms. When it’s time for them to get out of the car make sure that they are fully dressed and ready to go so you don’t hold up the line.

Let your child out in a designated area only.

The school has designated drop off and pickup areas for a reason. Letting your kid out in the middle of the parking lot may seem like a great way to avoid the car line when you are in a hurry but having them run through cars in the car line is dangerous!

School pickup

 

Get your kid and go.

You don’t need to get everything organized, have a conversation about their day, or whatever the heck else is taking you ten minutes to pull away from the curb once your child is insidee your vehicle. Just have them buckle and then pull away from the line when it’s safe to do so so other parents can pull up and get their children.

And if you choose to park…

 

If you choose to park your car so you don’t hold up the car line, first of all- thank you, but please remember the simple rules of parking lots that exist. First, the parking lot is not a race track so drive slowly and find an actual space to park in. Remember that two vertical white lines indicate a parking space and park in between them. Parking your car anywhere you please is not okay, especially if it blocks other cars from moving through the parking lot. And remember to check for cars and people when you back out of the spot! Also? Parking in a handicap space (without a placard or sticker) or in the lines between handicap spots that are designated for wheelchair ramps is not only inconsiderate of those who need to park there, it’s illegal.

Lastly, BE PATIENT.

 

I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say that no parent likes the school car line. (Personally, I’d put my kids on the bus to avoid it if I could but we are about a mile away so the school district considers us too close to be bussed. Instead, I just get there really early to try to avoid all the other crazies.) Remember that none of us want to be there so just try to stay patient. Honking at other parents or kids or displaying any other form of road range is not necessary and will probably not make them move any faster.

What to do when your child needs extra assistance.

 

This post is not geared towards the parent who is dealing with that occasional meltdown that they can’t predict or who has a child with special needs, but more for the parents who just constantly feel like the rules don’t apply to them. I understand that some kids may need extra help at drop off or pickup because they may be differently-abled in some way because I have been in that position as a mom with a child on the Autism Spectrum. I know how difficult these transition times can be so if your child needs a little extra help getting in or out of the vehicle because they are still working on self-help skills or if getting in or out of school is a struggle in other ways, here are a couple of tips that might help during drop off and pick up times: 1) Consider finding a parking spot and walking your child into school. 2) Talk with the school about having a staff member outside to help your child in or out of the vehicle if you want to use the car line or see if you can pull forward more to let other vehicles exit behind you if your child needs extra time. 3) Call the office and ask if there is another place you can arrange to drop-off/pickup your child that has less traffic and will allow for a slower exit/entrance. 4) Consider picking up or dropping off a little earlier or later if the school allows it. Every school and child is different but it’s in everyone’s best interest to find a drop off and pickup solution that works so hopefully they can assist you in this situation so you and your child can have a smooth start and end to the school day.

Thanks to the moms in my mom group who helped complete this list by sharing some of their stories. What would you add to this school car line etiquette list?

Helping Children Develop Healthy Sleep Habits

Thanks to SleepBuddy for sponsoring this post.

A good night’s sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for both adults and children but, while adults typically look forward to bedtime (especially those of us who are parents!), many kids don’t see their bed as such a wonderful place. Whether you are transitioning a young child from their crib to a bed, trying to keep a child in bed through the night, needing to convince your child not to wake up at the crack of dawn, or struggling to sleep-train a child of any age who is on the Autism Spectrum, sometimes a parent just needs a little help teaching healthy sleep habits. Luckily for those parents, I have discovered a little secret tool that may help called SleepBuddy.

SleepBuddy is the complete sleep system that uses a programmable sleep light, a children’s book and a reward chart with stickers to create reasonable boundaries and put healthy sleep habits in place. The sleep light makes it easier for your child to relax and fall asleep and the timed light turns off when your child can get out of bed.

The sleep light came with directions that made it easy to program. You simply set SleepBuddy’s start times and durations for nap (if needed) and nighttime, then the light (either a calming blue or amber color) goes on and off at the times you choose. The times you set are stored in memory until you change them, and can easily be changed when needed. There is also an option to override the system for just a day when you need your child to nap or go to sleep at an earlier time.

While getting out of bed after mommy or daddy left the room was a struggle throughout the boy’s younger years and falling asleep has been a struggle for Lucas over the years, the biggest ongoing sleep problem we’ve struggled with in our household is keeping the kids in bed until a decent hour. The boys have been early risers ever since they transitioned from their cribs and it’s led to a lot of zombie-like mornings for this mom. 4am wake-up calls when I didn’t go to sleep until 1am and then having to deal with toddlers? Not sure how many cups of coffee I needed to help me through each day for all those years!

Nowadays they “sleep in” until 6am or so most mornings. Sometimes though, they wake up as early as 5am so now that we started using SleepBuddy they know to stay in bed until the light goes off. Currently it’s set to go off at 6am but we plan to lengthen the time in 15 minute intervals until 7am which is the time they need to get up and get ready for school. I’m hoping it gets them sleeping later. Lucas ended up sleeping until 7:30 this morning (which is very rare) so I am thinking maybe he woke up, realized he couldn’t get up and then fell back asleep. Jacob, my oldest, and a strict rule-follower, proudly told me that he waited until the light went off before he got out of bed, even though he’d woken up earlier.

So whether you are transitioning your little one to a “big” boy or girl bed, trying to keep your child in bed later (like I am!), or need to add some more structure to the bedtime routine for your child who has Autism, I’d suggest incorporating SleepBuddy to help your child develop good sleeping habits. You can learn more about SleepBuddy here and purchase it on Amazon here.

Which Sport Will Be Best For Your Child?

To say that my family is involved in youth sports is an understatement. Between my two boys, they currently participate in football, baseball, soccer, basketball, karate, gymnastics, dance, and bowling (which I guess could be considered a sport since I heard it will be in the Olympics soon!). Life is crazy at times but I let the boys participate in what they want to and have seen the many benefits that sports have brought to our family.

While my oldest is the “play everything” type, my youngest has been a lot pickier about what he wanted to do and it took a lot of trial and error to find what he loves and what he can have a successful experience participating in. Lucas struggled with the concepts of football (in his eyes intercepting the ball was cheating), thought the hour long karate class was boring and had too many rules, and didn’t really enjoy the running back and forth involved in a soccer game (which meant he spent the whole hour just wandering around the field). He does however, love the creativity he can express through dance, enjoy showing off his cartwheels at gymnastics and playing all positions on a baseball field (simultaneously lol). Thankfully we found places that can accomodate his special needs and he is thriving (mom brag alert…. he’s headed to the state competion for gymnastics through the Special Olympics!!)

I thought I’d share some of the things we learned while trying to find the perfect fit for him in hopes that it could help another parent find what works for their child without the years or trial and error we went through. Though he’s on the Autism Spectrum which probably led to some of the issues we’ve had, I think most of these things to think about can be considered for kids of all abilities. Here are some things to consider before choosing a sport for your young child to try:

What do they gravitate to during play?

Next time you head outside pay attention to what your child tends to gravitate to. Do they love playing catch? Are they kicking things around? When indoors, what active things are they doing at playtime? Do they like to wrestle with their siblings? Do they love to dance around the house? Do they pretend to be ninjas? These natural tendencies during play can give you a clue to what sport they might enjoy!

Is there anything they are naturally good at?

Sometimes children show talent at a young age for something and I think that’s definitely a sport to consider if they seem to also enjoy it. For example, my nephew and neice’s brother, who is three, was playing a carnival like hockey game this past weekend and he was hitting the ball into the goal more often than most of the children that played the game even though he was the youngest of the group by about four years. One of the adults joked that he might be a future hockey star, and though he was joking, it did seem that he might have some natural talent when it comes to hockey that may be worth exploring.

What sport is a good fit for their personality?

Sometimes a child’s personality or temperament will help guide what would be (and would not be) a good fit for them. Here are some things to ask yourself:

  • Team sport or individual sport? Does the child play well with others or prefer to play on their own? For example, a child who plays well with others might enjoy a team sport like football but someone who prefers to play on their own may like a solo sport like ice skating or golf.
  • In the spotlight or out of it? For example, a child who likes being in the spotlight may love a sport that is performed in front of an active audience like a ball game, but a child who is shy may prefer a sport that is done without a large crowd like swimming where they are in water and tuning out the people in the stands.
  • Follow the rules or create their own? For example, kids who love rules would like karate where their every step is coordinated while kids who want to be creative would probably enjoy dance more.
  • Competitive or not? For example, a child who loves competition may enjoy a team sport that keeps score like lacrosse and a child who gets anxious during competition may enjoy a sport that doesn’t keep score, like gymnastics or karate.

Have you found a sport your child enjoys? I’d love to hear about your children’s favorite sports in the comments below!

One Thing Boy Moms Should Stock Up On

Thanks to Febreze for sponsoring this post.

When I found out I was pregnant for the first time I knew my life was going to be changed forever and, when we discovered it was a boy, I prepared myself for all things “boy”. I realized rough housing was going to be a daily occurrence, messes were something I was going to have to get used to, and that I better keep a lot of food in my pantry at all times. I’ve learned though, that there are many things that I did not prepare myself for because I didn’t even know to do so- things like having to check the toilet seat before I sit down to go to the bathroom, how to choose the right cup for my little athletes, the fact that everything would be turned into a competition, and that sitting around in underwear would be a daily thing.

Something else I learned? Boys are stinky. I had heard this but my nose was unprepared for the amount of stink that my son (and his brother born after him) would produce. Whether they’ve just come from the basketball court, have been playing outside all afternoon, or just arrived home from school, boys have an aroma all of their own. I was not ready at all.

Thankfully, since I’ve discovered this, I’ve stocked up on air freshener. Lots of air freshener. So next time my oldest challenges my youngest to a fart contest I’m ready.

Febreze One is a new product that just came out in Meijer stores. It’s designed for both air and fabrics, so it can act as your go-to all in one air freshener– with the added benefit of no aerosols, dyes or heavy perfumes. I love the scents and keep one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen so I can keep my house smelling fresh (or fresher at least).

Being a boy mom wasn’t necessarily what I expected it was going to be but, honestly, I love every messy (and stinky) moment of it. Are you a boy mom? What was one thing you didn’t expect? (If you are a girl mom I would love to hear one unexpected thing you’ve discovered, too!)

Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Family’s Summer

This is the first summer that my boys are not going to be in summer camp and I’m not going to be tied to my computer working so I’m excited to have a little freedom in our schedule now. Today I wanted to share tips about how we get the most out of our summer and how your family can as well. Whether you have the whole day free or your schedule is a bit busier, I think these tips can benefit all families!

My first tip? Extend your summer! Who says your “summer” needs to start in June and end in August or whenever the kids go back to school? I declared May 1st as the start of our summer one year and we are going to enjoy fun times as long as the weather will let us (which will hopefully be into September!)

Write down all of the fun things you want to do. I love creating bucket lists for every season and summer is no exception. When writing our summer bucket list I think of all the fun things I’ve enjoyed in the past, either as a child or with my own kids. I also make sure to add in a variety of ideas so we have ones for rainy days, places we can visit when we have a couple days of freedom, and a list of skills we have to practice or master over summer (like riding a bike). Keep your summer bucket list on your phone or in a notebook kept in your purse so that you can refer to it easily. I like having mine with me so, for example, if bad weather cancels Jake’s baseball game I can come up with an indoor activity to do instead of just going home and sitting on the couch in front of the television.

I also think it’s important to make sure to plan the fun occasionally. While I long for lazy summer days, that’s not always our reality between sports practices, therapy appointments, summer school and everything else we have to do. We’ve had many Saturdays that were filled with errands and, before we knew it, we’d wasted a gorgeous day with things that could have been done in little chunks of time elsewhere throughout the week. Schedule the fun in to ensure it happens!

I’ve also found it beneficial to put community events (like open gyms, library story times, farmer’s markets and anything else that has set hours) in my calendar so I don’t forget about them. If you are on a budget there are so many free and cheap activities available at stores (like lego building at Toys “R” Us and building projects at hardware stores), museums & aquariums (check for free days), and bowling alleys (we love the Kids Bowl Free program).

Enjoy some days of doing nothing. The school year will be back again before you know it so take some time to just sit around the house or the backyard and relax together. Dive into that book you’ve been meaning to read, stay in your pajamas all day or just go kick around a ball in the backyard. 

Lastly, don’t forget to record it! Take lots of pictures of your family’s summer fun (and mom, make sure to get in those pictures). Another thing we are doing this summer is having the kids write in journals daily. They’ll practice their writing skills but also record all the fun times they had which will be great to look back on.

How do you make the most of your family’s summer? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Find more ideas in my ultimate summer guide as well!

 

KudosWall: A Place To Track Your Student’s Accomplishments

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by KudosWall.

Have you ever wished there was a place to keep track of your student’s accomplishments all in one place? Whether they won a spelling bee, got an award at school, or came in first place at a sports or music competition, children nowadays have a lot to be proud of. KudosWall, created by a student and his father, makes it possible to easily track all your child’s talents, experiences, volunteer hours, and proudest moments.

KudosWall also has an app which is perfect for busy moms because you can track things on the go, while you are thinking about it. With the mobile app, you can upload achievements and photos on the go. Take a picture of your child holding a trophy at their basketball award ceremony? In just a few clicks you can add it to KudosWall and save that memory to your child’s portfolio.

You can also invite family members to view your child’s portfolio so the app becomes a great way for grandmas and grandpas and other family members to stay connected to your child.

Not only does KudosWall let your child celebrate their accomplishments, but they can easily use all of the information to create a resume or portfolio for college, internship or scholarship applications when they are ready to do so. This is such an easy way that parents can help their children prepare for the future. I remember when I had to create my first resume, it took me hours to put together because I had so many wonderful accomplishments to share but struggled to remember them all. Having KudosWall would have made the process so much easier!

I’m going to be creating portfolios for my boys over the next month or so and then I’ll share more about the process and how I’m using the site and app.

How do you track all of your child’s accomplishments?

How To Brighten Your Child’s Day When They Are Sick

This post has been sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and 20th Century Fox. All thoughts are my own.

When my boys are sick there is nothing I wish more than to have the ability to make them feel better. Though I can’t magically cure them, there are a few things that I can do as a mom to brighten their day when they aren’t feeling well. Here are five ways to bring a smile to their face on sick days.

Make them a fun snack.

When kids are sick it’s sometimes a struggle to get food in them so, around here, sick days mean special treats. The snacks I give my kids vary depending on what they are sick with. If they have a sore throat I give them cold things that go down easily like popsicles and ice cream. If you don’t have any popsicles you can easily make your own by freezing small paper cups full of coconut water and fresh fruit (just make sure to stick a popsicle stick in them before they are fully frozen). If your child has a cold perhaps they’d rather a bowl of chicken noodle soup made with fun alphabet letter shaped pasta. For fevers or aches & pains I generally give my kids things like pudding and snack mixes.

Watch a movie they haven’t seen before.

Cuddling while watching a movie is one of our favorite things to do on sick days. I enjoy introducing my kids to the movies of my childhood. Just recently we watched The Sandlot which I knew my baseball playing boys would love. The movie is about a shy kid, Scotty, who desperately wants to make friends and join the pickup baseball team that plays every day in the neighborhood sandlot. The oldest player on the team lets him play and the summer passes as Scotty learns to play ball. One day when they need a ball to play with, Scotty returns home and “borrows” his stepfather’s ball, which he promptly uses to hit his first home run, knocking the ball clear out of the sandlot into mean old Mr. Mertle’s junkyard, home to Mertle’s legendary guard dog The Beast. The boys learn how valuable the ball is and try to rescue it without The Beast getting them. This classic movie will become a family favorite!

Play a board game or card game.

Normally when our kiddos are sick they don’t want to move around too much so board games or card games are perfect activities to keep them occupied because they can be played on the couch. Our family loves playing games and I shared our top 10 favorite games here if you are looking for some more to add to your collection. For sick days we like to choose games that make us laugh like Pie Face and Headbandz or games that take a lot of time like Monopoly.

Make a craft together.

Crafts that don’t require a lot of messy materials are great for sick days. If there is a craft or hobby you have been wanting to teach your child, now is the perfect time to start. Things like learning to crochet take time and patience and are great to start on a day when your child will be sitting around anyways. Another craft you can do together is make new crayons out of old crayon pieces. The bulk of time for this activity is peeling the crayon wrappers off the crayons which is something children can do while they relax on the couch. After an adult does the cooking part of this craft kids will enjoy coloring with their new crayons.

Give them medicine to make them feel a little better.

You’ll want to consult your child’s pediatrician when they are sick. Our children’s doctor often recommends using over the counter medicines, especially when our boys have fevers or coughs. When our kids have aches and pains or fevers we count on Children’s Advil® to relieve their pain and bring their fever down. Children’s Advil® comes in several great-tasting flavors, including: Sugar-free Dye-free Berry, Bubble Gum, Grape, Blue Raspberry, Fruit and Dye-Free White Grape flavors, which makes children more willing to take their medicine. If they have coughs or chest congestion we use Children’s Robitussin® Cough & Chest Congestion made for children 4+. The non-drowsy daytime formula helps break up chest congestion.

Shop at Target and save with Cartwheel coupon codes–>

 

What do you do to brighten your child’s day when they are sick?

15 Back To School Hacks That Make Life Easier

The end of August means busier schedules and more items on our to-do lists so I wanted to share 15 hacks to make this school year the best one yet. From making mornings run smoother to helping kids become self-sufficient to spending less time running errands, I hope you’ll find a couple ideas to try :)

#1 Do as much the night before as you can.

Things can be hectic in the morning so do as much the night before as you can. We try to pick out outfits, get homework back in the backpacks and get the lunchboxes on the counter and partially packed before we go to bed. The less you have to do in the morning the better!

#2 Start your morning routine earlier and plan to be ready or out the door earlier than you need to be.

I’ve found that my kids always need more time to get ready than I think they will need. We start our morning routine earlier than I think we will need to and our goal is to leave our house 30 minutes early every day (though school is just a couple minutes away). Most days we are out of the house on time and I treat myself to coffee on the way to school drop off. Even on mornings we are running a few minutes behind we still end up arriving to school early. We sit in the car talking about our day, getting in reading time or practicing math facts. It’s such a more relaxing way to start the day and even Luke’s teachers comment that he seems calmer when he is one of the first kids at school (versus when their dad drops them off closer to the bell time and they have to rush to their lockers and class).

#3 Have quick breakfasts ready to go for the kids (and yourself).

Am I the only one who has had a child say they “forgot” to eat breakfast right as they are walking out the door (even though said child has been up a couple hours already)? For those mornings I have cereal in a baggie ready to go and they can eat on the go.

#4 Have a snack station to make packing lunches easier (and teach older kids how to pack their lunches!)

Jacob just recently started packing his own lunch as well as Luke’s. To make things easier to pack lunches (and to see when we are running low on things) we have all of the snacks in two places. We use three containers on the bottom shelf of the fridge to keep yogurts, cheese sticks and bags of fruits and veggies and a number of small bins on the shelves of our island that store raisins, portable applesauce, crackers, chips and other snacks.

#5 Freeze water bottles overnight to keep lunches cold.

In place of a freezer pack you can freeze a water bottle to stick in the lunch box. It will keep the lunch cold and melt in time for a nice cool drink to enjoy at lunch. (Remember to not fill the bottle up all the way ;) lol)

#6 Help kids learn routines with schedules.

Whether you use picture schedules for younger children or written schedules for older ones, schedules help keep things running smoothly. I’ll never forget the first day of school last year when Jacob woke me up early in the morning to tell me he was all ready for school without me having to remind him of a thing!

#7 Have a homework station and stock it with everything your children will need to complete projects and homework assignments.

I’ve learned over the years that children need a lot more than a pencil to complete homework assignments. Find a place in your home where you can keep everything children need at homework time- from scissors to markers to glue sticks. Make sure to have plenty of sharpened pencils there as well!

#8 Simplify after-school activities with separate bags for each activity and keep all items related to the activity in the bag.

We’ve found that bags for each activity my kids are in makes it easy to get out the door because we aren’t trying to find items as we are getting ready to leave the house. A simple reusable bag or backpack works to keep everything together and we no longer have to hunt for their scouting books or the soccer shin guards.

#9 Tame paperwork with an expandable paper file.

As parents we get tons of papers on a weekly basis. Many of them have important dates and information on them. Write all dates on your calendar immediately and file the paper away in an expanding file folder by category (school, sports, community, etc). When that activity comes up on your calendar you can find it in your expandable paper file and refer to the paper for information about location, what to bring, etc. Once the event is done you can then throw the flier away. I have two file units- a smaller one for things I’ll need on the go and a larger one I keep at home for things I don’t need to keep with me but still need to refer to.

#10 Make memory boxes for art work, school work and other memories.

Keep a box for each child labeled with the school year and put all “memory” things in it (art work, stories, pictures, awards, etc) as you clean out their folders every day or week. At the end of the year you can go through it and decide which things you want to keep and what you can let go of. My mom made boxes for my siblings and I and I’ve loved looking back through them as I’ve gotten older- remembering everything from my first concert to my sweet 16 birthday party. Even if you don’t physically keep everything but choose to take photos of the items and store them digitally, your children will cherish the memories you have kept for them.

#11 Have children take uniforms off and put them directly on (or in) the washer.

Whether it’s their school uniform or their karate uniform, nobody wants to dig through dirty laundry looking for that essential item of clothing they need. I have my boys take their sports uniforms off and put them right on top of the washer so I can wash them before their next game or practice and we always know where it all of the pieces of their uniforms are. No more missing soccer socks found at the bottom of the laundry basket!

#12 Prepare fruits and vegetables one day a week.

One day a week, wash and cut up all the fruit and veggies for snacks and lunches and then portion them into individual ziploc bags. I know in our house our produce is likely to be eaten more often if it’s easy to ready to go. It also makes packing healthy lunches easier because all the work is already done and we just need to put it in the lunchbox in the morning.

#13 As you commit to things add them to your calendar.

“Mommy brain” is real. I swear! lol. Make sure to add things to your calendar immediately. Don’t write them on post-it’s, count on reminder emails or think that you will remember. We already have enough on our minds as parents so there is no need to try and add a list of important dates on top of everything else.

#14 Take some time on Sundays to plan the week ahead.

Every weekend look at the schedule for the week coming up. Add anything you need to your shopping list (like a birthday gift for the birthday party your child will be going to or snacks for the soccer game) and plan out your to-do list. The week will run much smoother if you know what’s coming up instead of waiting until that day to see what you have planned.

#15 Limit errands you have to run by doing as much as you can online.

During the school year I have so much to do that I don’t want to be spending most of my days running errands around town. I’ve found that most of what I need to do can be done online or even via my phone. Whether it’s buying a birthday gift, putting money in my kid’s school lunch account, or paying bills, there is little need to leave the house to run errands these days.

PayPal is one of my favorite tools to use when I’m doing online transactions, whether it’s sending or receiving money or ordering things online. I like knowing my bank account information is secure when I pay with PayPal and, with PayPal One Touch, there is no need to type in credit card information or re-enter usernames and passwords on every app or website which makes the process even quicker.

If you are still looking to purchase back to school clothing or supplies take advantage of PayPal’s exclusive offers with select retailers that can make your Back to School shopping even more affordable. Visit paypal.com/backtoschool to see the best ways to save money!

#16 {BONUS!} Show your children that the person they are is more important than the grades they get.

I told my kids today that as important as grades are, I care more that they are a good person and a kind friend. As parents we try to teach our children to care about others and the best way to do that is to show that we care for others. Whether it’s bringing a meal to a sick friend, volunteering at a soup kitchen or sticking up for someone being bullied, there are many ways that our family can help others. One easy way to support those in our community who need help is to use the PayPal Giving Fund which lets people donate online with 100% of proceeds going to selected partnering charity organizations, such as Let Girls LearnYMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Even better, now through August 31st, donations made through the PayPal Giving Fund will receive a 1% match from PayPal! Learn more here.

What hacks do you have to share? I could use some help figuring out how to get Lucas to get dressed the first time I ask and tips to keep my car (aka the place we basically live in during the school year) clean and tidy!

 

 

 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Get Race Day Ready With Advil And A Fun Racetrack Craft

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RaceDayRelief #CollectiveBias

On my travels recently I have had a lot of car related fun, including getting an up close look at rare corvettes and going to my first car race. Through these trips I’ve discovered the heart pounding thrill of fast cars and car racing. I wanted to share that excitement with my boys so I created a fun racetrack craft to make with them that they could incorporate into their play and get them ready for the next big race day.

We enjoy going outside on nice days and one of the things the boys like to do is bring out the chalk, cars and their car sets and build a town. They use the chalk to make roads and parking spots and enjoy pretending with their vehicles. I thought a finish line for a racetrack would be the perfect addition to their play so they could pretend to be a famous race car driver like Ty Dillion.

My kids love when mommy and daddy play toys with them and they always ask us to play. I love to do so but sometimes I can’t stop thinking about the pain that will accompany sitting on the ground (and the pain trying to get up as well). I typically have joint pain on a daily basis but sitting for long periods of time makes things worse, especially in my knees. Thankfully I’ve discovered that Advil has a new fast release formula that goes to work within minutes of taking it. Fast acting Advil Film-Coated leverages the rapid absorption properties of ibuprofen sodium, now available for the first time in the US.* So now when the kids ask me to go outside and play I can take a couple Advil Film-Coated tablets and head outside with them.

Below are the directions for the paper weaving craft we made. We created a finish line for our car race but you could use the whole piece of paper and make a race flag if you wanted to instead. Weaving is a fun craft that’s great for practicing fine motor skills and makes the perfect racing checkerboard design.

The kids had a great time racing cars and playing with their playsets and the tunnel I “built” them. They were so happy that mommy was down on the ground playing with them. To us parents it might seem like something small, but when parents take the time to get down and play with their kids, doing something that interests them, that means so much to our children. Advil’s Film-Coated product with rapid release will help you enjoy the playtime as much as the kids do. This Advil is formulated with a unique Advil Ion Core Technology and an ultra thin shell to absorb quickly – in fact nothing is proven to work faster.*

So go ahead… crawl around on the ground racing toy cars, color with chalk, join in your child’s world and see the joy in their eyes. Don’t let aches and pains slow you down or stop you from spending time playing with your kids!

You can find Advil Film-Coated tablets at Walmart. Use fast acting Advil Film-Coated for headaches, muscle aches, toothaches, menstrual cramps, back pain, and aches and pains associated with the common cold. Don’t forget to use this $3 off coupon to save some money on an 80+ count box :)

*Among OTC pain relievers.

Some Words Of Advice: Tackling Three Concerns Parents Have For Teens

The following is a guest post courtesy of Mercury Insurance.

Keeping our kids healthy, safe and thriving is a top priority for parents in today’s fast-paced world. However, it can be difficult to keep track of all of the risks out there for our children, and we can’t be with them every moment of every day. May is Youth Safety Month, a campaign designed to educate parents about the steps they can take to protect their children. It’s also an opportune time to shine a spotlight on three primary areas of concern for parents with teens.

1. Driving

Learning to drive is an exciting experience for most teens…and it can be pretty scary for parents. This concern is not unfounded: according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,524 teen drivers and passengers were killed and 177,000 were injured in 2013. Driving is the no. 1 cause of death for teens.

There are some things you can do, however, to prepare your teen to drive and significantly cut down the risks they will face when they get behind the wheel.

“It starts with practice,” says Randy Petro, chief claims officer for Mercury Insurance. “Most states don’t require enough supervised behind the wheel training to adequately prepare teens to drive on their own, so it’s up to parents to take the time to teach their kids how to drive. I recommend you drive with them a lot. If you need milk, make them drive to the store. If you need to take another child to soccer practice, get everyone in the car and have your teen drive.” It’s important to remember, however, that you need to stay calm in the passenger seat. If your teen makes a mistake, don’t jump on them for it. Wait until you reach your destination then discuss it with them. You want them focused on the road, not on a lecture from mom or dad.

And speaking of staying focused on the road, you should make it very clear that distracted driving is very dangerous and won’t be tolerated. No texting while driving. No eating while driving. No posting selfies while driving. No searching the phone for the perfect song while driving. All of these activities reduce driver reaction time so much that it’s equal to being legally drunk behind the wheel, according to a University of Utah study. “Most of us wouldn’t dream of driving drunk, but those same people won’t think twice about playing with iTunes while eating a cheeseburger while driving,” says Petro.

If you’re looking for some great tips and resources to help you prepare your teen to drive, I suggest you take a look at the Drive Safe Challenge website created by Mercury Insurance.

2. Social Media

It’s pretty much impossible to keep teens away from social media, especially when 88 percent own a smartphone and primarily use it to connect with friends via social channels, according to a report on the Huffington Post. “My daughter, if left to her own, would be on her phone all hours of the day,” says Marlee Walsh, of her 17-year-old. While growing up in a world with a 24/7 connection to friends and outsiders can be a lot of fun for teens, it can also put them at risk.

Start discussing healthy habits early on for when and how to use social media so their mental, emotional and even physical state stays positive. Discuss smart social media use and make sure all of their accounts are set to the strictest privacy settings, where only their friends and family can see their posts. This is an important step because most sites allow any user to view another user’s information by default. Create clear guidelines for what they should and shouldn’t share on social media and instruct them to only accept friend requests from people they know. “Having an open discussion and coming to an agreement together allowed us to setup guidelines that help keep her safe,” Walsh added.

Ultimately, your teen has the power to control what they do on social media, but you can stay in touch with their activity. One app called My Mobile Watch Dog helps parents see how their children are using their smartphones. Another app, Net Nanny Social, keeps a watchful eye on social media accounts and includes features that filter content, deal with privacy concerns, identify and prevent cyberbullying or inappropriate friendships and removes damaging pictures or videos.

3. Peer Pressure

It’s only natural for kids to want to fit in and feel accepted by their peers, and every parent wants their child to have friends. Teens are the demographic that are most influenced by their friends, which can have good and bad consequences. Peer pressure has only increased with technology, and kids want to be accepted by a group while seeking independence. So, how do you tackle this difficult topic without seeming controlling or overbearing?

Talk to your teen and have authentic conversations so that he feels safe talking to you about what’s going on in his life. Talk to your teen about what values are important to you, and make sure she knows it’s okay to refuse to do something that she believes is wrong. Reinforce and encourage good habits and take part in productive activities. Be present in his life by showing up when it counts, learning about what he loves and get to know his friends. It’s also important to lead by example and demonstrate good behaviors through your own actions.

As a parent, you can provide the tools your children need to make good choices. So talk to them and help guide them down the path to becoming the person they were meant to be.

The Importance Of Everyday Moments With Our Children

I am happy to be working with the Bezos Foundation to support their Vroom initiative which was developed based on the premise that every child is born with enormous potential, and every parent can help them realize that potential.

I recently spoke at a parenting event and shared about the importance of moms cherishing the special moments of motherhood, even on the most chaotic of days. As much as those everyday moments are important to moms and other caregivers though, they are even more important to children. Everyday interactions between parents and their children have a significant long-term impact in the lives of kids.

Science tells us that our children’s first years are when they develop the foundation for all future learning. Every time we connect with them, it’s not just their eyes that light up—it’s their brains too. In these moments, half a million neurons fire at once, taking in all the things we say and do. We can’t see it happening, but it’s all there, all at work.

Vroom, an initiative from the Bezos Foundation, was designed to give parents and caregivers simple tools that turn everyday activities, like mealtime and bath time, into brain building moments where we can nurture our children’s growing minds. They help to empower parents and caregivers to interact with their children during their daily routines, engaging them in activities that require no additional time or resources but have long-term benefits. I think as busy parents the “no additional time” piece is so important because it means we can incorporate brain building activities easily into what we already do. Below are some great tips for parents to remember when interacting with their children.

Today the Bezos Foundation launched the Vroom Superheroes campaign to demonstrate the heroic role that every parent and caregiver plays in the lives of children, and reinforces the message that anyone can be a Vroom Superhero to a child. This video below tells the story of an aunt-turned-foster-mother, Camellia, and her daughter, Cammie, showing us a powerful example of how the everyday moments they share have a profound impact on both of them.

Here are ten easy ways that you can foster healthy brain development by maximizing everyday interactions you have with your child:

  • Sit down for dinner as a family and ask children about their day
  • Take a walk together and point out things you see along the way
  • After school, ask children questions about what they learned that day
  • Find things to count at the playground, whether it’s steps or the number of times they go down the slide
  • Let your child help make the grocery list and find the items at the store
  • Read a story to your child at bedtime and during the story ask them to guess what happens next
  • Cook or bake together and share some of your favorite food related memories with your child
  • Fold laundry together and ask questions about what seasons they would wear items of clothing (like a coat or a bathing suit)
  • If you hear a sound ask your child what they think is making that sound and where it’s coming from
  • Point out colors, shapes and words throughout the day

Want even more ideas? Download the Vroom app for Apple or Android! I’d love to hear about your favorite way to connect with your child during everyday moments.

Motherhood: The Toughest (But Most Rewarding) Job

Thanks to Teleflora for sponsoring this post.

I have held numerous jobs in my thirty two years of life but none of them has been as rewarding, or as difficult, as this one called motherhood. This job, where my bosses pay in hugs and kisses and my job description consists of chauffeur and bedtime story reader, is not as easy as I thought it was going to be when I dreamed about it growing up.

I underestimated the number of times I’d be woken up in the middle of the night, the frustrating meetings I’d have to sit in to advocate for my children’s educational special needs to be met, the amount of dirty diapers I’d change, and the number of sports games I’d sit through where a blanket and winter jacket couldn’t help protect me from the chilling cold. All that aside though, it’s my favorite job I’ve ever been privileged to have.

Teleflora recently came out with a new video that I love called “One Tough Mother”. They realize that motherhood isn’t always hearts and roses but believe that Mother’s Day can be with a bouquet from Teleflora.

Gifting a beautiful flower bouquet is the perfect way to say thank you to moms near and far for all the love, hard work, sacrifice, patience, fun, intelligence, and compassion they bring to their children’s live each and every day. I agree because fresh flowers are one of my favorite gifts to receive for any occasion!

I was sent a Luxurious Lavender Bouquet (available on Teleflora.com for $109.95). Arriving in a sculpted lavender glass vase from a local florist, it was full of dark pink roses, purple carnations and fragrant lilies. It made my home smell amazing and brought a pop of color to the room.

Teleflora has a number of other bouquets you can send the special mom in your life. You can see them all here. Which one is your favorite?

Tips For Potty Training Success

This post and giveaway were made possible by iConnect and Pampers. I was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine.

The weather is getting warmer and for many parents of toddlers that means it’s potty training season. Though my family is out of this season of our lives I know many of you are still working on it so I wanted to share a post with some of the tips I learned during the process. I also wanted to share some tips from Dr. Laura Jana, a potty training expert.

Her first tip is to watch for signs of readiness. Just about all children give subtle (and some not-so-subtle) signs that they are ready for potty training. These signs of readiness typically include using their words to express themselves, toddling their own way to the bathroom, pulling down their own pants, saying they want to use the “big potty,” and being aware of the sensation of peeing or pooping, characteristically noticeable when young children suddenly stop what they’re doing as they feel themselves start to go. It is also helpful and increases the likelihood of potty training interest when children start to be bothered by their messy diapers, as that can serve as a good motivation for using the potty instead!

I found this was the biggest factor to finding potty training success for my kids. I tried potty training before my boys were ready and failed because I was trying to train them too early. I learned that there is no magical age to start potty training but it is instead all about when they start to show signs of readiness. My boys both have Sensory Processing Disorder, and my youngest is also on the Autism Spectrum, so they both took longer to develop the awareness that they had soiled themselves and even longer to realize when they needed to go to the bathroom. Once I waited for them to become aware of these things potty training became much easier.

Dr. Jana’s second tip is to prepare for potty training by making sure you have all supplies on hand. These supplies will help you through any obstacle and can help foster your child’s interest and independence – from a step stool (to improve access to the toilet) or potty seat to training pants. Pampers Easy Ups training pants are designed to help the diaper-to-underwear transition by allowing potty-training toddlers to set aside their diapers and wear something with a more underwear-like look and feel that still helps contain accidental messes no matter wherever they happen: at home, on-the-go or overnight.

We liked using training pants because they helped reduce messes. I also found that they were easiest for our always on the go family. Pampers Easy Ups training pants, available in sizes 2T through 5T, are a good choice because they have fun designs featuring your child’s favorite characters like Thomas & Friends® and Dora the Explorer®. The super-stretchy sides make them easy to pull up and down when using the potty so children feel a sense of independence when using them.

Her third tip is to celebrate every win. As with any learning experience, young children can learn a lot from both their potty successes and their setbacks. While potty accidents are an inevitable (and admittedly inconvenient) aspect of potty learning, they shouldn’t dominate your day-to-day discussions. Instead, simply help your child learn to cope with and clean up any messes, and focus your attention on celebrating your child’s efforts and successes with plenty of hugs and words of encouragement.

I found that focusing on my kid’s successes and encouraging them to keep trying was really important. Our kids were really motivated by sticker charts and the possibility of earning small special toys when they had enough stickers. This also made the process more fun for them.

Want even more potty training tips? Join Pampers on April 28th from 9-10pm EST as they host a Twitter Party with Dr. Laura Jana, pediatrician, award-winning parenting book author and potty training expert who co-authored to Its You and Me Against the Pee…and the Poop, Too! Dr. Jana will be sharing her tips to help simplify and improve the potty training experience for little ones and their parents. RSVP here.

What tips do you have for making potty training less stressful? I’d love to hear in the comments below and I’m even giving you a chance to win a great prize pack if you leave a comment!

GIVEAWAY:

One person will win a $25 AMEX Gift Card, Pampers wipes & Pampers Easy Ups

HOW TO ENTER:

Leave a comment below sharing a potty training tip

OPTIONAL 2ND ENTRY:

Share this post on social media (adding the hashtag #PampersEasyUps) and comment with the link

This giveaway ends May 10, 2016 at 11:59pm CST. Must be a US resident, 18 or older to enter.

Help Me End “Mommy Wars”

I’m proud to be working with Similac on a sponsored campaign to help end “mommy wars”. This week I’m sharing about a time I felt judged by another mom because of a parenting choice I make. Hope you’ll watch the video below and be able to relate!

In the video above I share that another mom implied that I didn’t value family time because my kids were in a bunch of sports and activities. It hurt that she thought that, because we do value family time, but I know that this is the right choice for my family. My kids love being active and making new friends and I’ve seen their social skills blossom over the past few years.

A perfect example of the growth I’ve seen happened at the playground the other day. Lucas, who is on the Autism spectrum, used to just wander around, watch other kids play and not talk to anyone. A few years later his play at the playground is totally different. He is now able to communicate with other kids enough to play made-up games with them. He is learning to follow rules, remain calm when things don’t go his way and take turns. I contribute this social growth to the hours a week he spends with other children in school and on the sports field or at his other activities.

It’s a lot of work for me to get my kids to where they need to be every day but I know this is right for our family. Whether your kids are in no extracurricular activities, just a couple, or a handful, I want you to know that you are doing the right thing for YOUR family.

Have a “mommy war” story to share? I invite you to head to the Similac Facebook page and share it using the hashtag #EndMommyWars.

Let’s Stop Judging Each Other

(Disclosure: I am partnering with Similac on their “Sisterhood of Motherhood” #SisterhoodUnite campaign but all thoughts are my own.)

Seven years ago this past June I became a mom for the first time. I was excited, overwhelmed, in love, tired and nervous all at the same time. Since I only knew one other local mom my age I dove into the online world to connect with other moms. I started a blog, got more active on social media, and joined as many local mom groups as I could.

Since my son had not come with an instruction manual I decided that other moms were my best resource for parenting tips and advice. I made a lot of wonderful mom friends that I still keep in contact with to this day. Moms that encouraged me and helped me when I needed it. Those were the type of people that I was looking for in my life.

As much as I found support in the online world and my local groups, I also discovered a lot of people that only made me feel worse about my parenting choices. Everything from feeding choices to diapering choices to how I chose to calm my baby. Even things like using a pacifier I felt judged about. I posted the above picture to social media with the below caption. Why did I feel the need to explain my one year old using a pacifier?

Most of the above things I tried not to let bother me but some things hurt more than others, many of which really came about after my second son was born. Those were things like when people wondered how I could work while raising my kids, when people judged me as my childen were having meltdowns, and those that pretty much disappeared from my life as soon as I started to use the terms “special needs”, “SPD” and “Autism” (whether because they didn’t want to be around for the journey, thought we couldn’t connect anymore or didn’t approve of my using labels I’ll never know but I feel like it was a combination of all of the above).

I was very hard on myself during the early years and second guessed a lot of the parenting decisions I was making, mostly because I felt judgement from others to do things differently. It took years to realize that the only ones that knew what was best for their children were the parents. I was doing the best I could and that was all that mattered.

Have you ever felt judged about parenting choices that you’ve made like the parents in the video above? Go to the Similac Facebook page and share the one thing you will do to help end the mommy wars. For me, it’s remembering that other parents are doing the best they can.

(Edited to add: Looking at pictures to find ones to add to this post I found a picture of me bringing Jacob home from the hospital. What I found? Someone commented and was judging me for carrying him in his carrier. Just goes to prove my point even more! Judgment is everywhere as a parent.)

 

I Was Born To Be A Parent

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I am a Dad Ambassador for the March of Dimes #imbornto campaign.

I am a father to two amazing boys. My goal is to guide them to grow up strong and instill the sense of power in them that they can do anything that they want to. I was born to be the best dad I can be for my boys.

My sister, my dad and me

During this time of year I enjoy the attention and affections my children give me but my thoughts also turn to my own father and my childhood. It is during my own childhood that my father helped me see what I was born to do. He taught me to play sports and how to have fun. He indulged me and gave me everything I wanted but he also pushed me not to give up and pushed me to excel in everything I do. Thanks to my dad, I am born to guide my kids to be awesome.

I am also born to make my children proud by advocating on behalf of those who can’t. I’m happy to say that I am a Dad Ambassador for the March of Dimes. For more than 75 years, the March of Dimes has helped babies be born strong and healthy through research, vaccines, education and breakthroughs. Lucas was in the NICU for a week at birth and thanks to the March of Dimes and the developments they’ve helped create in the past years, he made it through and is now a healthy, almost six year old.

The March of Dimes imbornto campaign celebrates the great things babies are born to do and thanks mothers and fathers who are the guardians and protectors of babies’ hopes and dreams. It’s a noble cause and a great calling to help babies and parents around the world. All babies are born to thrive and be healthy and I am privileged to be able to help them get a fighting chance by partnering with March of Dimes.

 

Raising Kids To Thrive {New Parenting Book}

This review is sponsored but thoughts are my own.

There is a saying that children don’t come with manuals. That is so true! Have you ever come across a parenting challenge and struggled to solve it yourself? I have had a few of those instances and am only six years in to my parenting journey with many more years (including those teen years!) to come.

While no parenting manual has been written, I turn to a variety of books to give me tips on how to be a successful parent. One new book I discovered gives lots of great tips for raising children and teens. It is called Raising Kids to Thrive by Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, and is all about a new method of parenting called the “lighthouse” parenting strategy. It focuses on balancing love with expectations and protection with trust.

Some of the things the book will help you do are:

-Raise kids who will succeed now and far into the future

-Understand why helicopter parenting undermines successful development

-Be a stable beacon your children will turn to for guidance and self-measurement

-Build the kind of relationship you hope to have with your child

-Reduce your children’s anxiety as they venture out on their own

While I think the book was written for those with children in their teens, I found that I could use a lot of what I learned with my younger children. It’s great to be able to work on my parenting skills now before my children hit the teenage years.

Some of the things I learned include:

-The importance of praising effort, not results (and being specific in that praise)

-My job as a parent is to set clear boundaries and then (mostly) get out of the way

-Teaching kids how to handle pressure from peers and the importance of “code words” that they can use when they are with their peers and they find themselves in an uncomfortable position

-How important it is to let my kids know that I have high expectations but that I also know they are human and will make mistakes

I highly recommend this book for all parents. You can find it on Amazon here.

 

 

10 Things New Parents Learn

I always knew I would be a dad someday. The plan was I would amass a great amount of wisdom and coolness first in order to be ready. Honestly nothing really prepares anyone for parenthood completely. I personally read books and asked around and truth be told when my first son was born I had tons of questions. I found myself living the dream and somewhere along the lines I learned great things about being a Dad.

So here is my list of 10 things new parents (specifically dads) learn:

1. Children change your life (for the better): All of a sudden staying in is way more important than hanging out with the guys at a bar on Friday night.
2. You learn the importance of sleep: Napping while they nap is awesome and sleeping in while the grandparents take the kids is a must.
3. Changing diapers like a pro: This is repetition meets survival because no one wants pee in their face or a big mess.
4. Your newborn knows who you are: Nothing is sweeter than when you realize your kid knows you and recognizes you and they are excited to be held by you.
5. 3 am feedings are the best bonding time: I worked 2 jobs as a restaurant manger and the hours were crazy but spending time with my kids in the middle of the night to feed them and comfort them was priceless
6. It is never too soon to start a 529 (college savings plan): This one is important. The economy is not what it used to be and no matter your income, college savings plans are best started early.
7. Men get baby fever too: My second son is the result of this but also in seriousness I do have moments when I think our family should be bigger and I wish to have a daughter.
8. It gets easier after the first year: Trust me, things fall into place and routines happen, kids get bigger and life gets easier.
9. Kids are resilient and they truly just need your love : All kids get scrapes and cuts but in the end they heal. Your love and attention is what helps them the most.
10. Kids absorb your every word: Kid’s little brains are like thirsty sponges and they are very aware of everything being said around them and to them.

What did you learn as a new parent?

Being Tough For Your Kids

(Disclosure: I am proud to be working with Brawny® on a series of sponsored posts as they inspire people to be “Tough to the Core.”)

When I had children I did all the obligatory mom things I had in my head that I was supposed to do. I read numerous parenting books, baby proofed our home, joined mommy and me groups to socialize my kids, filled the closet with tiny little outfits and basically tried everything to be a “good” mom.

The only thing I didn’t do was prepare myself to take the journey as a mom of kids who have special needs. When the boys were three and two I decided to swallow my pride and took them to the Doctor to share some concerns I had. When the Pediatrician dismissed me, I pushed because I knew, I knew, something was not right. I told him I wanted referrals and I had both boys tested through Early Intervention. With delays found in multiple areas, both boys were accepted and given speech, occupational and developmental therapies. I then pursued diagnosis with my youngest and it turns out my mother’s intuition was right. There was something going on and it was called Autism. A hard diagnosis to accept but suddenly it all made sense.

Just like there is no manual for parenting, there isn’t a step by step guide to raising children with special needs. In many ways it is harder because even once you have a diagnosis for your child, that gives you an idea of what to look into but not every child with the diagnosis is the same. Even Lucas, who has Autism, is on a spectrum. Some children with ASD are non-verbal and some can express themselves verbally. Some children I can identify as having Autism just by their outward behavior and some, like my son, you wouldn’t be able to notice the Autistic traits of until you were around them.

Once we were on the special needs path there were a variety of obstacles in our way. Hours of therapy each week that interfered with work, six month wait lists to get an appointment to see the developmental pediatrician and meeting after meeting with the public school system to get services my children deserved. I did everything I could to help my boys catch up to their peers and ensure that, once in school, they’d be able to learn and grow.

Sometimes you are tough because you have to be. Special needs parents have to be tough for their kids because we are their advocates and {sometimes} the only ones that will be looking out for their best interests.

Brawny® Paper Towels and Wipes have always stood for good old-fashioned toughness and that’s why Brawny® wants to share the inspiring stories to those everyday heroes out there – the folks who truly define what tough is.

Want more information on how to be tough to the core? Check out the inspiration video series featuring Everyday Heroes from Brawny®: http://www.brawny.com/tough-to-the-core

Stay connected with Brawny® on Twitter and Facebook.

 

10 Tips for Parents to Deal With Bullying

As we know all too well these days, bullying can happen any time, any where and to anyone, from the youngest children in day care (or even at home) and beyond. The following tips will help parents find ways to detect, prevent and deal with the bullying of young children.

1. Be your child’s go-to person. Make sure your child always feels safe telling you about incidents at school, at play in the neighborhood, at church/Sunday school, or even at home from the other parent or a sibling. I know a family that goes around the dinner table and everyone (parents and children alike) share the best thing that happened during the day and the worst thing that happened during the day. This helps everyone learn to appreciate and really notice when someone is kind and opens a door for them, or plays with them on the playground. To illustrate that no one is exempt from rudeness or bullying, other family members should share with their child/children bad situations at work or when they were young. Exploring how to handle the “bad” situations can be a teaching/learning moment for all members of the family.

2. Parents, don’t be an inadvertent bully. If the parent is constantly saying things that make a child feel bad about themselves, this is form of bullying. You may hear yourself saying, “I know you can get better grades.” But the child may be hearing only, “I’m stupid and won’t ever be able to please anyone.” Listen to what you say often to your child and make sure you aren’t behaving in a manner that would not be acceptable behavior from others.

3. Discuss what actions can be considered bullying. Help your child see that bullying can be words, actions, ignoring someone, giggling and pointing. Discuss ways to positively respond to each instance.

4. Welcome your child’s friends into your home. Perhaps even invite their whole family to a cookout or other event so that you can get to know the parents. If any of the friends seem to have an unusual amount of power over your child, you may need to help your child see that this person is not a true friend if everything always has to be their way.

5. Stop sibling bullying. Sometimes the bullying is being done by a sibling. If one child seems to have dominance over another child, sit down immediately and let them know that this behavior will NOT be tolerated. Make sure to follow through and discipline the bully when you see this happening either in the way she/he treats their sibling. Also make sure the child being bullied feels safe in coming to you.

6. Discipline your children appropriately if you see them doing or saying (or texting) something that you don’t consider kind. That way others–teachers, other parents or day care workers, etc.–don’t have to become the disciplinarian.

7. Help your child think of ways to react to bullying. For instance, if they are being teased about wearing glasses, perhaps there is a phrase they use to make the other person think twice about making comments like that again. If the child is being teased for being overweight, perhaps the whole family can review their eating habits and activities and work together to lose weight and feel better. Taking steps to change things, or practicing ways to react to mean comments, will make a child feel ready to stand up for themselves or others when they see bullying happening.

When your child gets a little older, you also have to keep in mind these next tips.

8. Understand cyber-bullying. One of the newest arenas where a child can feel helpless against what is being said or shown in pictures about them is online. Make sure to carefully monitor screen time in a way that feels protective to your child and not intrusive. The more conversations you have with your kids about what occurs online, the more likely they will be able to talk to you about what’s going on. Take every opportunity to teach them how to manage themselves in confusing situations.

9. Learn the latest lingo. This includes verbal, texting and online slang. Do you know that CD9 means parents are around and that 99 means parents have left? Your child may be hiding something that can lead to poor self-esteem, depression, even suicide.

10. Remember the Golden Rule. “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you” is still great advice. A friend’s child was having trouble on the school bus with one particular boy. The mother suggested that this child might not know the right way to be a friend. So the child being bullied went out of his way to be extra nice to the bully. Once the bully realized there was a different way to act, the two children became real friends.

While nothing will totally stop bullying, at least by putting into practice some of these tips, I hope you can make the consequences for your child less damaging.

About the Author: Thomas Weck is a creative and captivating national award-winning author of children’s books, including the popular Lima Bear Stories Series: The Megasaurus, How Back-Back Got His Name, The Cave Monster, The Labyrinth and Bully Bean. Learn more at LimaBearPress.com.

Fast Forward 11 Years…. {Picture}

I just sent my big boy off to Kindergarten this week and Sinisa sent me this picture. Mommy is NOT ready for this yet!

(It should go without saying but the keys are not in the ignition, the car is parked, and their dad was right there)

Reader Question: How Do You Stop A Child From Biting?

I’m hoping some of you will have ideas for this mom who is dealing with a problem and has tried everything she can think of and nothing has worked. Here is what she asked:

“How do you deal with/correct biting?”

(Details: 3 year old boy, possible Sensory Processing Disorder, large vocabulary for age, biting daycare teacher and can’t explain why he’s doing it)

I didn’t have many ideas because, though my youngest with Autism and SPD did bite, we never figured out how to get him to stop and thankfully he just kind of “outgrew” it as his vocabulary increased.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions! :)

 

 

 

Why Kids Need Chores

Like so many parental expectations and requirements, getting your kid in the habit of doing chores will help prepare them for the real world (if you can ever get them to move out).  

Here are some of the benefits kids derive from assigned chores.  

• Responsibility (or “I’m not your maid.”)  When you make a mess YOU are obligated to clean it up.  The most straightforward reason your kid needs to do chores is to drive the point home that he is responsible for his actions in the world (and the messes he makes). 

• Personal Obligation (or “You helped create this mess now get up and help clean it up!”)  When you live with other people, you’re obliged to contribute to the general upkeep of common living areas.  Chores help your kid learn to pull her own weight when it comes to keeping shared spaces clean (so she doesn’t end up moving back home because even her friends consider her a slob). 

• Organization and Prioritizing (or “You had plenty of time to get that room clean.  You can just forget about going anywhere till it’s done!”)  Chores are unpleasant for most kids.  Unfortunately, life is filled with unpleasant but necessary tasks.  Chores provide the chance for your kid to practice making time for necessary evils like routine maintenance in their schedule of otherwise fun or meaningful activities.  This helps them learn how to plan, organize, prioritize and suffer. 

• Sensitivity for others (or “Just because it doesn’t bother you to wallow in filth doesn’t mean I’m going to live in a pig sty!”)  It isn’t crucial that things be straightened or cleaned.  Exposure to germs and disease can help build the immune system (if it doesn’t kill you first).  But, there are some things you do because it is important to someone else (like, say, a spouse or the health department).  Chores provide your kids with a clear message that the world doesn’t revolve around them and they need to take others’ feelings and sensibilities into consideration.  

• Pride in a job well done (or “You call that done?  Get back in there and finish cleaning that room.”)  It is important to take pride in even the most insignificant tasks.  Chores help your kids learn that every task, however base, is an opportunity to work their hardest and do their best.  (The expression on their face when you feed them this line is priceless.)   

• Self-sufficiency (or “Why do I have to tell you every single time to replace the trash bag after you take out the trash?”)  OK, this reason really isn’t that important.  If your kid needs a lot of practice before he can skillfully take out the trash or sweep the floor, you have much bigger challenges than getting chores done.

Like so many time-honored parental expectations, household chores have a value more significant than the practical issue of household maintenance.  That said, what is the most important reason kids should do chores?
Because you said so, of course.

***

Guest post Author info: Dr. James G. Wellborn is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Brentwood, Tenn., focusing on adolescents and families.  He is the author of the book Raising Teens in the 21st Century: A Practical Guide to Effective Parenting that includes a chapter on getting teens to do chores along with strategies for addressing 78 other typical teenage issues.  You can learn more about Dr. Wellborn by visiting his website at www.DrJamesWellborn.com

On Listening To Our Children {Quote}

Where Are The Parents? {A Lesson On Not Judging Other Moms & Dads}

{This is a beautifully written post by a mom that was raising a child who was disabled. It had me in tears so I wanted to share it with you all. Reminds us to never judge other parents because we don’t know their situation and what they go through on a daily basis.}

Where Are The Parents? By Sue Stuyvesant, Parent

Hey everyone. For those of you who don’t know me (I’m only an occasional poster) I am mom to Michelle, 9 years old, microcephalic, athetoid/spastic CP, cortical visual impairment, seizure disorder — and CUTE! OK, now for the reason I’m posting.

To make a long story short, earlier this week a question was asked by some nitwit official as to why there weren’t more parents (of special needs kids) involved in the local PTA and other issues that have come up that directly involve our kids. His question, which was passed on to me was, “Where are the parents?” I went home that night, started thinking – and boy was I pi**ed – and banged this “little” essay out the next day on my lunch break. By the way, I took copies of this to the school board meeting that night, gave it to a couple of influential people and it WILL get around………….

Where are the parents?

They are on the phone to doctors and hospitals and fighting with insurance companies, wading through the red tape in order that their child’s medical needs can be properly addressed. They are buried under a mountain of paperwork and medical bills, trying to make sense of a system that seems designed to confuse and intimidate all but the very savvy.

Where are the parents?

They are at home, diapering their 15 year old son, or trying to lift their 100 lb. daughter onto the toilet. They are spending an hour at each meal to feed a child who cannot chew, or laboriously and carefully feeding their child through a g-tube. They are administering medications, changing catheters and switching oxygen tanks.

Where are the parents?

They are sitting, bleary eyed and exhausted, in hospital emergency rooms, waiting for tests results to come back and wondering, “Is this the time when my child doesn’t pull through?” They are sitting patiently in hospital rooms as their child recovers from yet another surgery to lengthen hamstrings or straighten backs or repair a faulty internal organ. They are waiting in long lines in county clinics because no insurance company will touch their child.

Where are the parents?

They are sleeping in shifts because their child won’t sleep more than 2 or 3 hours a night, and must constantly be watched, lest he do himself, or another member of the family, harm. They are sitting at home with their child because family and friends are either too intimidated or too unwilling to help with child care and the state agencies that are designed to help are suffering cut backs of their own.

Where are the parents?

They are trying to spend time with their non-disabled children, as they try to make up for the extra time and effort that is critical to keeping their disabled child alive. They are struggling to keep a marriage together, because adversity does not always bring you closer. They are working 2 and sometime 3 jobs in order to keep up with the extra expenses. And sometimes they are a single parent struggling to do it all by themselves.

Where are the parents?

They are trying to survive in a society that pays lip service to helping those in need, as long as it doesn’t cost them anything. They are trying to patch their broken dreams together so that they might have some sort of normal life for their children and their families.

They are busy, trying to survive.

***

Sue Stuyvesant 10/15/96: Permission to duplicate or distribute this document is granted with the provision that the document remains intact. [Sue passed away in October 2003. Michelle passed away a week before she was to turn 18 in September 2005].

Ten Bloggers Who Inspire Me

To Teach My Children:

Carisa from 1 Plus 1 Plus 1 Equals 1

To Be The Best Mom I Can Be:

Kat from Inspired To Action

To Be A Successful Work From Home Mom:

Abbey from Living Your Moment

To Become A Better Writer:

Lisa-Jo from The Gypsy Mama

To Be Grateful:

Ann from A Holy Experience

To Be An Advocate For My Children:

Hartley From Hartley’s Life With 3 Boys

To Learn More About Technology:

Kris from Little Tech Girl

To Be Creative:

Tonya from Create-Celebrate-Explore

To Menu Plan:

Laura from I’m An Organizing Junkie

To Find Creative Ways To Share God’s Love With My Children:

Amanda From Impress Your Kids

Guilt-Free Parenting Week

I am part of the BabyCenter blog network so I wanted to share about Guilt-Free Parenting Week which starts today! Here is more information from BabyCenter:

According to a survey of 5,000 moms on BabyCenter®, the #1 pregnancy and parenting destination worldwide, 94 percent of moms feel guilty about some aspect of their parenting, from the amount of time they spend with their kids to the kind of diapers they use. In response, BabyCenter today announced it will be hosting a Guilt-Free Parenting Week, urging moms and dads everywhere to let go of the guilt and celebrate the joys of parenting.

“This week is designed for moms and dads to take a step back, breathe deeply, and stop being so hard on themselves or other parents. We’re all doing the best we can for our kids,” said Linda Murray, BabyCenter Editor-in-Chief. “Perfect parents don’t exist, and kids don’t need them to thrive. Guilt-Free Parenting Week is about accentuating the positive, cutting ourselves some slack, and celebrating the joys of parenthood.”

According to the BabyCenter survey, moms feel most guilty about:

1.     Feeding their babies formula

2.     Using TV as a babysitter

3.     Being environmentally unfriendly

4.     Feeding kids junk food

5.     Leaving their child with another caregiver

6.     Yelling at their kids

7.     Not being able to afford all the extras

***

In keeping with guilt-free parenting week… My boys ate cinnamon covered french toast sticks for breakfast today and watched way too much TV. I realize those aren’t the best choices I have made as a parent but you know what? I love my kids and am doing the best I can for them.

Will you let go of your mommy guilt today?

Guest Post: Easing Separation

The following is a guest post by Jessica of I’m Not Your Everyday Average Mom!

I have recently started working out again. I figured after 18 months I can no longer say that I “just had” a baby and am carrying around baby weight. My husband wanted to get back into shape too from his “baby weight” and we decided that the best choice for our family was to join the local YMCA. They have a great work out facility, exercise classes for me, and a large adult pool plus a kiddy pool that is 10 degrees warmer than the adult pool. The kid’s pool stars off at 0 feet and slowly goes deeper so both of my kids can enjoy it without us holding them the whole time! Our kids’ favorite part of the YMCA is the gigantic water slide that we are allowed to take them down on. MY favorite part of the YMCA is the FREE childcare that is offered! They have an outdoor play area, an inside classroom area, and then a climber inside for kids to play on.

My son gets excited to go and play, but my daughter on the other hand develops superman like strength and clings onto me with a death grip. She then shakes her head back and forth and says “no, no, no, no!” I hate having to pry her off of me and hand her to the gal that works there, but I know in 5 minutes she will be laughing and running around with her brother and all of the other kids! It is just so heart wrenching to see her cry and get upset because I am leaving her there. It has gotten much better over the past 3 weeks and I feel like she is doing well because of a few things that I am doing.

I have had to remember what I learned in school about child development (I am a certified teacher birth-8th grade), and how to make transitions smoother for children.

Here are a few tips and things that I have been trying, and I find that they are working well!

  • Don’t sneak out…I know that it is hard not to, because you won’t have to see the melt down, but tell your child goodbye and that you will be back to pick them up soon! That way you are not disappearing, but telling your child what is going on.
  • Know the person’s name that is going to be looking after you child. I have been saying to my daughter “Look, it’s Amy! Remember her? She is going to play with you while mommy is in the gym!”
  • Let your child bring their blanket, stuffed animal, or other comfort item with them. I have been letting my daughter bring in her blanket. She usually ditches it within the first 10 min, but it helps her to have something of comfort when I leave.
  • Give them some extra cuddle and love time when you get back!

I know that things will get easier and she will soon LOVE to go and play! It is just going to take time!

What tips and tricks do you use when dropping off your child at a day care, or when leaving them with a sitter to make things easier?

To read more from Jessica visit her blog!
Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!

Saturday Stumbles

Here are some wonderful posts I stumbled upon this past week:

Crafty:

Homemade Gummi Candy at Skip To My Lou

Recipe:

Crustless Quiche In A Cup at Cooking With My Kid

Good read:

All I Really Needed To Know on Babble

For Moms:

Only Mommy Will Do by Life Nurturing Education

For Dads:

7 Traits of Real Men by Mocha Dad

For Parents:

The 5-Minute Solution by Scott Noelle

For Homeschoolers:

School Room Week at Heart of the Matter

And the product that makes me go “huh?”:

Baby Bucket

Family Impact Review

I recently reviewed Are Your Kids Driving You Nuts?, a parenting book written by Dr. James Jones. He started a foundation called “Familyhood” that “is dedicated to strengthening individuals, marriages and family relationships”. In the book he has written, Jones focuses on principles of correct parenting.

A large portion of the book is about “parent traps”, which are “dysfunctional patterns of behavior parent often fall into when trying to get a child to.. 1. Stop an undesirable behavior or 2. start a desirable behavior.” Dr. Jones claims that parent-trap behaviors “seem to work at first, but they never build healthy relationships. Eventually they just make things worse.”

Since I have toddlers many of these “parent traps” did not relate to me because my children can’t say much yet. One I did read about that I felt was relevant to my life was the chapter on anger. I find myself getting angry sometimes with my children when they aren’t listening and I sometimes raise my voice. I always feel awful afterwards but I justify it with “he knows I love him still because I stress it’s his behavior I don’t like, not him”. As a parent I was devastated to read the words in this book that said, “Psychologists tell us that little children split. They cannot understand that Daddy can be angry and love them too. A young child cannot mentally hold and evaluated two concepts at the same time. So if Dad usually comes across as angry, they assume he is only angry and that he does not love them.” Then the book said, “They further conclude that something is wrong with them since Dad is angry at them. This has a negative impact on the child’s self-esteem, usually for life.

I had never thought of it this way before. While I’m not 100% convinced that my anger now will impact their self-esteem for life, reading this chapter made me think about how I speak to my children and how I communicate my feelings. As I skimmed through the rest of this book I found other chapters that I would want to look at in the future including “parent-traps” such as nagging (chapter 14) and unrealistic expectations (chapter 23). With over 20 parent traps I think that most parents could find one or more chapters that they could relate to and find ways to improve their parenting skills.

(Disclosure: This post was written for Family Review Network & Family Impact who provided the complimentary product for review in exchange for my honest opinion.)

Top 10 Parenting Books On My Reading List

These are the parenting books on my bookshelf that I can’t wait to read:

1) “The Power of A Praying Parent” by Stormie Omartian

2) “Raising a Reader” by Jennie Nash

3) “What Every Mom Needs” by Elisa Morgan and Carol Kuykendall

4) “Relationship-Empowerment Parenting” by Judy & Jack Balswick and Boni & Don Piper

5) “What Kids Need Most In A Mom” by Patricia H. Rushford

6) “The Modern Girl’s Guide to Motherhood” by Jane Buckingham

7) “Parenting in the Pew” by Robbie Castleman

8) “How To Talk So Kids Can Learn” by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

9) “Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours” by Dr. Kevin Leman

10) “Raising Sons and Loving It!” by Gary and Carrie Oliver

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Are there any you would recommend that I add to my reading list?