Everyday Essentials

When you first become a parent you go a little overboard with the ‘essentials.’ The bouncers, the bottles, the bumbos, the ‘stuff!’

As your kids grow, the stuff that you thought was so important dwindles … there’s still ‘stuff’ but now it’s THEIR stuff, the stuff they can’t live without … the dolls, the toys, the crafts, the crayons.

But you also learn about the ‘stuff’ that makes a big difference for you as a parent. The day to day stuff that make a difference in your life, that actually makes your life a little easier.

For us we have a small but crucial list:

  • the crib rail: we’re not sure when we are ever going to get rid of these. Maybe when they’re 15. The peace of mind knowing that we likely won’t hear a ‘thud’ from them falling out of bed in the middle of the night is enough reason for us to keep them up.
  • their blankies: I know I had one when I was a kid and the girls have had theirs since they were born. It’s a comfort that they use at nighttime and when upset and we don’t have plans of getting rid of them anytime soon.
  • their little ‘magic’ unicorn stuffed animals. These are essential (because of their magical powers) for getting rid of bad dreams.
  • air purifier: we crack these out at the start of cold and flu season. We use a Germ-guardian that plugs into the wall. It somehow uses UV light to zap germs in the air to help combat cold and flu season.
  • Quality essential oils: this is something that I’m new to, but whenever the girls have sniffles or snuffy noses, I just drop the oils on their feet and in their humidifier and it helps with their symptoms.
  • Humidifier: even with a built-in humidifier in our home it is extremely dry. We have a humidifier in our room and the girls room and we use them year round.
  • Blackout blinds: we will NEVER be getting rid of these! In fact, we even have them in our room too! Totally worth the money to help us all get a few extra zzzz’s.
  • Flashlights: the girls don’t like having a nightlight, but they do like their flashlights. We hang them on their bedposts and when they need them (if they’re afraid or want to read/play in bed for a few extra minutes).

And last, but not least …

  • Sammy the sleep sheep: what is this? This is probably the best $80 I ever spent! At about 4-years old our girls started going through a phase where they would wake up, not know what time it was, stay in their beds and scream at the top of their lungs to us in the other room “IS IT MORNING TIME YET???” They wouldn’t get out of bed, instead, they would just lay there screaming until we answered them.
  • I found a bunch of toddler clock options, but which one to choose? We actually purchased another one and returned it because the nightlight was way too bright even on the lowest setting.
  • We then found Sammy! He’s a little clock shaped like a sheep who closes his eyes at bedtime and opens them when it’s time to wake up (you set this time). His clock face dims or turns off entirely during the nighttime and turns green 30 minutes before it’s ‘morning time.’ Since getting Sammy the girls know exactly when it’s morning time and just play in their beds until Sammy says it’s time to get up.

 

 

*note: I have not been paid by any of the companies/products above, these are just things that work for us.*

When Parents Get Bullied

There are some topics online that are better left avoided. After all, you know that no matter which position you take, someone is going to push back. The “mommy wars”, which are really directed at all parents, are the stuff of both legend and reality. Companies produce ads parodying the viciousness of the opposing sides to almost every parenting decision that has to be made.

The Internet and social media have made connecting with other parents easier, and simultaneously, harder. It is now possible to ask a question or do a search online and get answers from all over the globe. While that makes it harder to connect and meet with local parents for play dates, it does make it easier to get a variety of opinions and resources.
So what happens when you are the one put on the defensive?
Unfortunately, those opinions are sometimes strong, even aggressive. And that would put any well-meaning new parent on the defensive. After all, it doesn’t feel good to be attacked, especially if you are genuinely looking for input from others who have been there, done that.

The truth is that high school bullies sometimes grow up to be adult bullies. And then they become parents and nothing has changed. There will always be those who choose to insist that their way and their opinions are the right and best way. They will aggressively pursue that logic, to the detriment of others. It is no different than the grade school or high school bully.
So what do you do?
The easy advice is what all of us will tell our children at some point – just walk away. But we also all know that it isn’t really that simple. Online attacks are vicious, even more so because the attack is behind a screen. The best way to handle online bullies is to follow these tips:

  1. Make sure your social media profile privacy settings are as strong as possible. This is particularly important if you share pictures of your children (and is good advice in general). But bullies like to dig through profiles to find more information to add to their attack, don’t give them the ammunition.
  2. Consider your question before posting. By this we mean, don’t use the Internet for information you should really be looking to a professional for. Your child’s doctor, or your own, teachers, and other professionals in your life are the best resource for a lot of your questions, and they know you and your child best.
  3. Use the ‘unfollow’, “leave group”, and “block” buttons judiciously. The Internet is vast and amazing; leaving one group does not mean you will never find support anywhere else ever again. If a particular thread becomes inappropriate, unfollow it. If a particular person is especially hostile, block them. You have nothing to prove by enduring online bullying.

 

You have nothing to prove

You are an amazing parent – even if you don’t think you are, even if you have no idea what you are doing, even if you were peed on right before you threw your hands up in the air, sat down on the floor, and cried while reading this article. Those who would bully you online are doing so from a place of their own insecurity, and it is no reflection on you, your parenting, your family, or the love you have for your child. At the end of the day, you are working to be the best parent possible for your child, no one else’s. And your child knows they are loved.

So ignore the bullies, and keep being your awesome self.
Meaghan Grant works with families to explore their options and help them to discover their own strength through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. She is a Certified Labour Doula, Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator, and Postpartum Placenta Specialist. As co-owner of Toronto Family Doulas, Hamilton Family Doulas, and Family Doulas of Ottawa, she is committed to providing judgement-free support of all birth and parenting choices.

Keeping My Home Free Of Pests

Messy Kids Attract Pests

sun room in arizonaLiving in Arizona has many perks, the weather is warm, the landscapes are beautiful, and you  can swim 5 months out of the year which is great for the kids. Our Arizona Sun Room sits off to the side of the pool and is equipped with a picnic bench, mini fridge, fans, mister, and a flat screen TV mounted on the wall. This is awesome for entertaining adults and kids. The problem I have faced is clean up after a birthday party or an event that we put together for the adults. Anything that spills with sugar attracts bees and ants. Both can be extremely annoying, and if you are an AZ resident then you know that cockroaches are just about everywhere. When the kids throw the crust of their sandwich off into the bushes, or an adult dumps out a beer into the garden it creates an opportunity for rodents and insects to feast. Well, I am no fan of these nasty little critters, nor do I want them in my Arizona room. To keep them out, and out of my yard I have hired a company that offers pest control services in Phoenix. Pre-treating the property a week prior to having any events has proven to be an efficient way to handle the infestations. Especially with the red ants. They are so small, but extremely aggressive and the kids are often times bit and left with itchy ant bites on their feet and ankles. The cockroaches seem to survive anything you throw at them, but two treatments leading up to your bug event should prove worthy enough to limit the amount of them you may see wondering in the backyard. Arizona cockroaches are hard to kill, but believe me, as a mother of 4, I will find a way to kill them to keep them from my babies.

Great Bento Lunch Ideas for Kids

Bento Boxes For Lunch

fun lunch ideas for kidsI’ve always been a lover of producing fresh and innovative ways to lure your child to eat. Beyond this simple definition, however, virtually anything could be made to enter these lunch boxes along with the ideas are infinite.  

Different Kinds of Bentos

There are numerous varied types of bentos, with various functions.  Makunouchi bento is fancy bento foods presented at proper meals, supposed to be eaten in a desk.  This is the kind you’ll see served in pubs, organized in tasteful lacquered boxes.   The type of bento which has got the most attention lately, particularly outside Japan are what are known as kyaraben or charaben, ‘adorable bento’ ‘artwork bento’ or ‘amusing bento’ extremely elaborately decorated little functions of art.These are often made by moms for their little children.

Ultimately, there is the plain easy bento which most men and women bring to school or work for lunch.  It is important to be aware that many Japanese people don’t invest their time creating fancy charaben or ‘adorable bento’ – that is more in the domain of a craft and hobby as opposed to everyday living.  

My Bento Doctrine

This is the fundamental bento doctrine about the best way best to make a healthful bento your children are going to love.  I utilize bentos to integrate some healthful food into my everyday eating.  So I use as many vegetables and vegetable products as you can, see the quantity of fat and oil, and attempt to steer clear of processed foods. The utmost time that I wish to spend on constructing my bento is 10-15 minutes.  The majority of the time that I need it completed below 20 minutes. It needs to be safe and yummy to consume at room temperature, (with a couple exceptions), escape- and – spoil-resistant, and filling.  They ought to appear yummy, but I do not spend that much time producing them very pretty and elaborate. Sometimes I will add cute little edible Beanie Boos or trinkets in the bento box for fun. I love to keep things easy.  Since I wish to spend less by bringing my bento instead of eating out, I attempt to keep the price down as far as you can.

Purchasing a Bento

Where do you start? There are many websites that sell bento boxes and possibilities are limitless as well as diverse.

Amazon has a few great and cheap bentos with various applications and expectations here are a couple of of my favourite ones.   

• This one is great for kids due to it being leak proof and coming in multiple colors.
https://goo.gl/2LwwVQ

• These ones were great choice as well.
https://goo.gl/VWSXBk

• These would be great for a picnic with the family.
https://goo.gl/eFGU8H

• When you want to prep for the week these are a great buy.
https://goo.gl/6sNqDG

 

PLAY | Ultimate SPY Games

PLAY | Ultimate SPY Games


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Learn at play, every day

Family Literacy Day comes once a year, on January 27, but there are lots of ways to get kids involved in learning every day. One of the best tools in a parent’s toolbox is play! Why not try one of these activities and see how much fun learning can be.

 

  1. Play With Your Food: Get toothpicks and small pieces of apple, cheese, grapes, or whatever snack you want (marshmallows, yum). Now build a house, tower or circle by attaching your snacks with toothpicks. Best part is you can eat it (not the toothpicks, of course)!
  2. Favourite Food Find: Create a grocery store scavenger hunt with your weekly shopping list. Maybe add a few special items you don’t get all the time for a special treat (and an extra challenge for scavengers).
  3. Draw Me A Home: Get large sheets of paper and draw the rooms of your dream home. Add in the rooms you always wanted (trampoline in your bedroom and pool in the basement!) Get some of your favourite toys and play with them in the house.
  4. Letter Model It: With modeling clay, make the letters of your name using all the colours of the rainbow.
  5. The Punch Line Is: Swap your favourite jokes with your friends. See if your parents know them! (What’s a ninja’s favorite drink? WATAAAAA!!!!)

 

Visit FamilyLiteracyDay.ca for more activity ideas, free downloadable resources and to check for local Family Literacy Day events. Family Literacy Day was created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 and is celebrated nationally on January 27 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.

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Mom Hacks: How To Swaddle a Baby

Mom Hacks: How To Swaddle a Baby


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Busy Mom Hacks: 3 Quick Snacks On The Go!

Busy Mom Hacks: 3 Quick Snacks On The Go!


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In the Blink of an Eye

How did this happen? Weren’t they just born yesterday? Don’t get me wrong, some stages and days seemed like they went on for a lifetime. But whether good or bad, the days, the months, the years have flown by.

You know when they say “don’t wish time away because before you know it they’ll be grown.” I actually took heed when people said this … even on those seemingly impossible days. I was running on empty in terms of sleep and patience … even then, I made a conscious effort not to wish them away. Because as people warned, in no time we’d be asking “weren’t they just babies yesterday?”

Now they’re in Junior Kindergarten! How are they old enough to be in school? To wear backpacks bigger than they are? To make sure they eat all of their lunch and pack it back into their lunch bag? To zip up their own zippers and pull on their own boots? Well to my surprise they were ready. I mean really ready. No tears, barely kissed me goodbye and when they come home guess what they play?… school!

We always want to raise strong children. Smart, healthy little beings who are able to adapt to any situation…and then when it happens a little part of you aches for them to want you, to need you. And it’s not that they don’t, but NOW what do I do? I think I’M the one who wasn’t ready.

I quit my career to be home with them. For all but 6 months of their 4.5 years I was with them day in and day out. It was me and them against the world. It still is, but now I’ve sent them out into the world to learn, to grow and I’m left here…to have a hot coffee and uninterrupted conversations. Which is glorious! But I miss them terribly.

Even the dog misses them. When he hears a child yell at the park his ears perk up and he has to do a double-take to see if it’s ‘his girls’.

I do find now that when they’re home and come to me for something; to help them colour, to read a book, to ask a question, I make more time to do these little things. Things that might not seem important on the surface, but I now think about the innocence of it rather than as an interruption. All I can think about is that they’re coming to me because they love me, they trust me, they look to me for guidance, and now that they’re learning about the world from others, I’m going to hold tight onto any moments I have to help shape them.

So trust me when I say; in those moments of chaos, of frustration, of sleep deprivation … don’t wish time to pass too quickly. In the blink of an eye, even though you see your little baby walking through the doors of the classroom for their very first time, the reality is that they grew into a big kid overnight.