5 Tips For Productive Days As A Stay At Home Mama

When I became pregnant 5.5 months postpartum with my second son, I had some moments of panic along the way.

Looping over and over in my mind was the thought, “How will I manage to get anything done with two babies less than 14 months apart?” I also have struggled with feeling like I’m doing nothing because there is no monetary benefit attached to my work. I think it goes without saying that stay at home (and work outside of the home) moms do all the things. Much of our work is unseen, especially by our children. Sometimes all that unseen work can feel quite overwhelming.

Dishes. Laundry. Sticky floors. Soccer practice. Art projects. Doctor appointments. Cooking meals. Grocery shopping. Dirty diapers.

Moms are superheroes.

Shortly after my first son was born, an acquaintance (who had no children) mentioned that they would love to stay home in their pj’s all day doing nothing. It didn’t feel like a compliment and those of us who stay home with our babies all day know that we do all the things.

But hi, I want to chat about streamlining for a second. What is streamlining? As a verb streamlining is defined as such: “to alter in order to make more efficient or simple.” (dictionary.com)

Glory hallelujah, I think that is now my favourite word in the dictionary. I want to share ways I streamline my days during the week.

Make Sleep A Priority. If you have very small children you are probably laughing right now. Hey, I get it! Sleep is a precious commodity in our home. My husband I both work hard to make sleep a priority. We sleep train, stick to a schedule with our kids and make it a habit to go to bed at a decent time. Sleep is sacred in our home. I don’t even open the front door between 12 and 3 (nap time. Sorry, come back later! When you only get so much free time each day, you understand how important it is to take advantage of that time to recharge yourself.

Did you know that lack of sleep has a direct negative impact on our cognitive functions? The Nation Sleep Foundation shares four ways sleep deprivation impairs cognition, here.

Prioritizing sleep can only have a positive impact on your ability to perform well during the day! Improved cognition, a stronger immune system, and more mental alertness are among some of the health benefits of good sleep habits. You’ll thank yourself later by making healthy sleep habits!

Get a Calendar. Get yourself a paper calendar you can hang somewhere easily visible. Write things on it! We have a calendar hanging on our refrigerator and at the beginning of the month we map out our schedule. I have found that it is beneficial to see the whole month laid out so I know what is coming. I struggle with anxiety and seeing things ahead of time helps with my anxiety. This calendar also diffuses A LOT of miscommunication between me and my husband. WIN!

Plan Ahead And Be Organized.. I’ll admit that I’m slightly obsessed with planning and organization. You know why? IT BRINGS ME PEACE. Obviously, I can’t plan everything but I do what I can to keep the chaos to a minimum around here. You can find our current daily routine HERE. Fun FACT: In my mid-twenties I was part of co-leading teams of college age students into foreign countries for volunteer work. I learned so much about the value of planning and preparation during that season of my life. I have a cleaning schedule attached to my fridge, food staples I know I can cook basic meals from and specific days of the week that I accomplish things like laundry and grocery shopping. I’m currently trying Mint budgeting to simplify our spending and see where our money is actually going. It’s free and so far, I really like it!

Stick To A Simple Routine. Implement simple things into your daily routine like washing your face, getting dressed etc. Try a capsule wardrobe for the whole family to simplify your laundry. If you have small children like I do, you know that anytime after 4pm can be complete chaos. Anything can happen. I’m talking everyone is fine one second and the next second someone (my toddler) is projectile vomiting on the floor or peeing in the fridge while the delivery guy is banging on the door and someone is calling my phone.

We have a flexible routine during the day but there are set things like outside time, meals and nap. Because my hardworking hubby does not have the luxury of set hours with his job, I’m often prepared to do our end of day deal on my own. And while it gets a little hairy at times, I stick to the same routine every night. This way the kids know what to expect (and battle bedtime way less) and I know I’m getting a break at some point!

Keep Clutter and Cleaning Simple. What I have found really helpful is having a clean home at the end of the day. So if I’m on my own, I’ll tidy what I can before I put babies to bed. If my husband is home, we tag team. One person deals with babies and the other tidies the house! Then we can sit down and enjoy some kid-free time at the end of our day with no cleaning involved.

Fun fact: When we bought our house last year, the elderly woman who lived here was essentially a hoarder. Forty years worth of things were packed into every nook and cranny in this home. We think that one of the reasons we were able to get this home at such a steal is because many buyers were scared by all her clutter. Clutter and mess can really slow down your day and impact your overall mood. Imagine all the minutes we spend trying to find something in our mounds of junk. Less really is more! I promise!

Get rid of the distractions. If there are things in your life that are weighing you down, chewing up precious time with your family and keeping you from creating a peaceful home environment, why not just get rid of those things? As I mentioned above, excess stuff can literally weigh you down. Or maybe you’re over scheduling yourself. Can too many playdates be a thing? I think so! How about social media? That is a HUGE one for me. In the recent months I’ve felt the need to scale back on my consumption of social media. I made the decision to get away from the two platforms I was using (Instagram and Facebook) because I saw how much more productive and present I was when I wasn’t on social media. It was a tricky decision because I use my Instagram to promote my blog but right now that is all I will use it for.

Maybe these seem like basic concepts. Well, I’m a basic kinda gal and I can appreciate fresh and simple perceptive, especially if it makes my life easier! What are some things that you practice to make your day go more smoothly, as a stay at home mama?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

A Realistic Daily Routine For Stay At Home Moms

“Are they twins?”

“Is that your nephew?”

“WOW. You’ve got your hands full.”

“It won’t always be this busy, you’ll see!”

When I was pregnant with my second son, I was constantly searching the internet for schedules. I’m a schedule person. I like organization. I wanted to know that I could get my two babies on an easy schedule to keep my sanity. I couldn’t find much to be honest so I figured I would share the schedules I created as the boys grew.

If you ask my husband I can be rigid when it comes to our routine but as the boys are getting older, I am learning to be a little more flexible. That being said, I don’t think we’ve ever skipped an afternoon nap to be somewhere or do something. It just ain’t worth it, ya’ll!

*Currently my boys are almost 2 and almost 3.

6-7 AM Wakeup, milk, change diapers/potty and make breakfast. Coffee for ME.

7:00-8AM Breakfast, get dressed. I will go wash my face, take a quick rinse off shower, utilize my capsule wardrobe and sometimes I’ll put some makeup on.

8-10AM TV/inside play time. My kids watch a lot of TV depending the day and I stopped feeling guilty about it a long time ago! I also utilize this time to do things like check my emails, write a grocery list, daily chores etc..

10-12 Free Play: this typically involves outside time, a snack, play dates, running errands etc. If we’re inside because of weather, I will fold laundry or clean while they play.

12PM Lunchtime (I let the kids watch a show in the living room while I prepare lunch.) This allows me to safely monitor them while getting lunch ready. Win win!

12:30-3:30 PM Nap Time! I’ve learned to protect this time of the day for myself and not feel guilty about it. I don’t do chores. I eat, sleep, read books, go on my computer, watch movies etc. Having this set time of day for myself has done wonders for my mental health!

3:30 PM Snack Time

4:00 PM Free Play

5:30-6:30 Prep Dinner/Dinner time

6:30 Bath time (twice a week)

7 PM Bedtime for the babies!

One of my goals every day is to have a tidy house by bedtime so that my husband and I can enjoy our small window of free time together. I don’t want to be wading through toys on the floor or scrubbing down a messy kitchen. I clean as I go and it works really well for me. I rarely sit down during the day except for when I’m eating or the kids are sleeping. I’m always thinking of the next small task I can be doing so that when I have free time, I’m not working. Multitasking is the path to more free time and a more simplified, clutter free home, I promise!

Our routine is always changing to fit our needs. I think the secret to a successful daily routine is being flexible and willing to adapt to your children’s needs as well as your own. Never underestimate the power of routine. I don’t deviate far from our routine because I’ve seen what my kids are like when we shorten naps or over schedule ourselves with outings. It ain’t pretty! I will always embrace some semblance of routine because it brings peace to my life.

What kind of person are you? Do you love routine? Do you live by the seat of your pants?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

5 Reasons Why We Need To Stop Playing The Comparison Game In Parenthood.

“Wow, he didn’t walk until 16 months? That is SO LATE!”

“My child had 20 words before they were 2. Isn’t that what they’re supposed to have?”

“Oh he isn’t crawling yet? Aren’t you concerned?”

“She’s still not talking in two word sentences. But your child is, I don’t understand why!”

If you’re a mom of young children or just a mom in general, chances are you’ve been a part of these conversations. You’ve probably had similar things said to you as you stand around at the park watching your child play with other kids.

It’s all too familiar isn’t it?

What am I talking about that makes me want to walk away from these conversations with other moms?

Comparison.

I talked about this very thing a few weeks ago in my instagram stories because it’s something that is as common as your toddler’s 10 AM poop every morning. We’ve all done it and we’ve all had it done to us. I’m not talking about having a chat with a close friend and discussing concerns you might have about your own child. That’s entirely different. I’m talking about feeling the need to constantly compare your child to other children in terms of what they are (or aren’t doing) to reassure yourself.

If you didn’t catch my insta stories, then I’ll tell you now how I really feel about it.

I think it’s a huge waste of time and it’s NOT important.

Today I’m going to share in more detail WHY.

  • Comparison can create unnecessary competition. This is inevitable . When parents stand around and start talking about what their kids are doing or developing in, it will without a doubt stir up feelings of competition. When did parenthood become about whose child does “X Y Z” the soonest, fastest or most efficiently? All of sudden we’re worried about our child performing in a certain way because little Bobby had 40 words before the age of two. This sense of competition can strain relationships with friends, family AND our own children. None of which is healthy from a relational standpoint.
  • Comparison can create unhealthy expectations. THIS is really important. If you don’t take anything else away from this post, please consider this point. When we get caught up in this comparison trap we can place heavy, unrealistic expectations on our own kids. This is not fair to them. As a former ECE, someone who studied early childhood development in college and then spent many subsequent years working with young children, I’m here to tell you that children develop uniquely based on a variety of factors. Is there a standard of development for babies, toddlers and children? Yes. I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t take your child to a doctor/specialist if you suspect developmental delays. What I am saying is it can be damaging to our children to continually compare them to others. Ask a therapist. Ask them what they counsel many adults about. It’s often the damage that person felt as child being constantly compared to others, never feeling good enough. That is serious. Consider the weight of your words and expectations with your children. What is most important to you as a parent? Don’t make your affection and love something that your child has to earn based on how they perform or what they do.
  • Our child’s development actually has little to do with our abilities as parents. We NEED to hear this as parents! We think that because we did (or do) X Y Z our children are little geniuses. OR it’s the reason WHY they aren’t doing this or that. Whether your child was walking at 9 months or 18 months does NOT make you a GOOD or BAD parent. It doesn’t mean anything. Children are intrinsically motivated to develop certain skills and abilities based on their OWN unique personalities. If you have one child right now, it might be difficult to see this. But if you have more down the road, you will see the differences in your children and learn that personality has so much to do with what children are motivated to learn.
  • Comparison can reveal our DEEP insecurities. This point is interesting. When I’ve had these conversations with other parents, I often start to see what exactly they are insecure about. I’m not a therapist or counsellor but it isn’t difficult to feel the weight of someone’s insecurities in the conversations you have with them. If you personally find yourself caught up in comparison, worrying about what your child is (or isn’t) doing and always talking about it, I would encourage you to seek counsel. Again, I’m NOT a professional but I think it can only do good to talk through our own insecurities as parents, if they are consuming us and negatively impacting our parenting. This is also why, when you have these conversations with other parents and start to feel overwhelmed you can say, ” Your insecurities are NOT my insecurities.” Maybe don’t say it out loud, but you can have some understanding as to WHY so many people struggle with comparison. It’s often deeply rooted in insecurity that can stem from a variety of causes.
  • Comparison is a waste of precious time, at the end of the day. Moms and dads, I’m here to tell you-it’s just not as important as you might think it is. I’m not saying you shouldn’t care how your child is developing. But remember, much of how children develop in their early years has little bearing on their lives in the long term.

What if you feel like you’re really stuck in this vicious cycle of comparison with your child? I have a few ideas that you could try to shut it down and start changing the way you think.

  • Look at your child’s qualities, abilities and skills as unique to them. Appreciate what they ARE doing, focus on those things and work with them.

  • Talk with someone about your own insecurities. I’ve been professionally counselled before and it was one of the best decisions of my life. I know two different (wonderful) local Psychotherapists who work with parents, children, and offer maternal mental health support, specifically. Contact me if you want their information!
  • Start purposing today to just love your child without expectations. Embrace who God made them to be. Let go of who you think they should be and what they should be doing. Imagine how freeing this can be for you and your family!

I’m on this journey, with you. I understand the trap that comparison can be. I understand the pride, insecurities and frustration that comes with parenting. We ALL want the best for our children! We want them to succeed in life. Don’t beat yourself up if you struggle with this, I’ve been there! A tell tale sign that you struggle with it could be that you feel the need to constantly prove to other’s that your child is developing normally. Hey, it’s ok. Just take a deep breath!

It’s a one day at a time process and we’ll all get there. You’re doing a great job!

If these thoughts resonate with you, I’d LOVE to hear from you in the comments.

3 Reasons Why You Should Let Your Kid Get Messy And How You Can Avoid Total Chaos.

Cat food.

Litter.

Toilet Paper

Garbage.


Oh don’t mind me. I’m just listing a few of the many non-food items that my toddler has eaten in his mere 20 months of life. And if you think those are bad, I’m here to tell you-he’s eaten WORSE.

But today I want to talk about children and mess. Because I want you to know that I’m a bit of a control freak. Just ask my very patient, easy going husband. I’m a FREAK. Hey, I own it. I’m workin’ on it, ok? Nothing has stretched me MORE in this area than having a very busy, very independent, very emotionally assertive toddler. Honestly, he’s been all those things since he was born. But the things he gets himself into and the monumental amount of mess he can make in a day, let alone in 10 minutes IS INSANE.

As a former ECE, I’m used to what young children are capable of accomplishing in terms of getting messy but the difference is that we had to control much of what they were doing. We couldn’t let our classroom descend into total chaos. But as a mom, I basically get to decide what my son gets into and how chaotic I let it become.

The other day I was at this indoor playground watching my oldest run around like a total hooligan, stealing people’s snacks (I stopped him from doing that) and being a general wild child. I started chatting with a few moms who were sitting in the infant area with their very sweet, well behaved babies. We got onto the topic of mess and kids. I casually mentioned how I let my son play in the mud and how he eats dirt. I kid you not-both moms GASPED and looked at me in utter horror. One mom said, “Oh no no no! I do NOT let my daughter do that.” You would’ve thought I said I let my toddler play with matches and gasoline, with the way they reacted. It was a good thing I didn’t tell them about the time I set my own backyard on fire when I was 12 years old.

Sorry Dad!

Jack enjoying some pudding play!

Mess is normal. It’s developmental and it’s IMPORTANT to let kids get messy. Does this mean your house has to look like a dumpster fire? No.

Let’s dive into three reasons why it’s important to let your kid (s) make a mess AND how to minimize total chaos.

  • Children are kinaesthetic (tactile) and spatial learners. This means that they have to touch, move, carry, throw and physically experience what they are doing in order to learn. SOME children do not like to be wet, sticky, cold or touch things with texture. I was actually that child, surprisingly. (Or maybe not surprisingly because my control freak tendencies started early?) But more commonly, you will find that children learn by using all their senses and their whole body. They’re learning how to use their senses. They’re learning temperature, texture, how to manipulate objects, building fine (and large) motor skills. I watched a fantastic video of a friend’s toddler the other day, eating yogurt. He was a mess, spooning yogurt into his mouth, sucking on his spoon and using his whole body to enjoy his food. I LOVE THAT. The learning possibilities are endless when you allow a child to get messy. This is a really important from a developmental standpoint.
  • Children learn responsibility when making a mess. It’s up to you as the parent to teach your child how to clean up or that his actions have consequences. It takes FOREVER to teach (sometimes force) my toddler to put away his toys. He’s also learning what is appropriate to throw and what isn’t. We don’t throw in the house. We are teaching him that we don’t throw things at people because it hurts. But outside, I’m the parent letting my kid throw rocks and wood chips, as long as it isn’t at or around someone else. I’ve been frowned at for that one but #sorrynotsorry. What happens when a child dumps water on themselves during water play? They get wet! If they’re ok with that, why not let them? If they aren’t ok with it, you can say; “When you pour water on yourself, you get wet!” When my son eats dirt out of his sensory table he makes this hilarious face because I know it tastes weird. I tell him that dirt isn’t for eating but I don’t freak out. I know it won’t kill him and trust me, he’s eaten far worse. His dirt eating is lessening each day!
  • It’s not about you. Remember how I shared earlier that I’m a control freak. Yeah, you have NO IDEA. My poor family. I’m getting better. There have been times when I’ve totally crushed my babies’ adventurous spirits because I wanted to control the mess. I’m not proud of those moments. I have really limited their learning experiences at times and frustrated us all! In 15 years, what will I think when I look back on this season? Will I remember how I had to be in control all the time? Or will I fondly recall the fun that we had together as I created a safe space for them to grow and play in? It might be hard to hear those things if you struggle with control, like me. I don’t like myself when I’m trying to control everything. You can have a good balance of mess and order. If that sounds impossible, hang in there and continue reading.

Ok so we’ve talked about a few reasons WHY it’s important to let our children make a mess. If you’re sitting there curling your toes and cringing as you think about your home descending into total chaos, just hang on! It’s possible to create a space for your children to get messy AND still maintain a sense of order.

  • Limit materials and STUFF. Basically, keep it simple. Don’t have a billion toys out at one time. Do you have a kid who just DUMPS toys everywhere and then moves onto destroy another part of your house? It’s because he’s in sensory overload mode. I invested in some baskets that are shallow enough for my son to see into, while they are on his toy shelf. I also practice toy rotation. I organized all his toys and materials in labeled bins in his closet. I rotate a few toys out during the week. If you keep things simple you may experience fewer tantrums and more enriched play!
  • Have simple boundaries with what your child is allowed to do with the materials you provide, especially when doing sensory play. When I bring my son’s sensory table inside and fill it with something, I don’t let the material leave the table area. He is learning that things like water STAY in the water table and no you can’t dump water on the cat. If we’re outside, I’m more lax about this but I still don’t let him go bonkers. Then I take it step further and show him a few things he can do with the materials. After that, I let him experiment. I’m always impressed with what he does with the materials I provide.
  • Choose age appropriate materials and toys. This is so important from a developmental and safety viewpoint. You don’t want to give your oral toddler materials they can choke on, right? There are a bazillion age appropriate ideas on the internet. You choose things that are easy to loosely supervise. I have a 6 month old. I can’t be hovering over my son the entire time he’s playing. Simple simple simple!
Hudson enjoying pudding in his sensory table!

I am not super mom. So don’t be feeling all guilty over there if you are overwhelmed by all of this. I didn’t start doing a lot of this until recently because I had a baby 6 months ago and his brother is only 14 months older than him. Life is busy to say the least and I’m just now feeling like I have the energy to put these things together.

I’m going to be sharing some of the fun sensory things I’ve been doing with my babies, in an upcoming blog post. But a really great place to start is by going outside and letting your little one experience the outdoors with their whole body. Start there and see where things take you.

What is the messiest thing your child has ever done? Can’t wait to hear some great stories!

4 Toddler Activities That Build Fine Motor Skills.

I like screen time. Sometimes I even LOVE screen time. And I don’t just mean for myself.

The first word out of my toddler’s mouth in the morning is usually, “BLIPPI!” If you don’t know who Blippi is, go check him out. You may thank me or hate me!

Lately I’ve been putting together some age appropriate activities for my 20 month old to keep him busy throughout the day that don’t involve screen time. I do this for a few reasons. I have a 6 month old who takes a morning nap and I need the house to be somewhat quiet. Now that my oldest is officially a toddler, I feel like he’s capable of learning to be quiet while his brother naps AND able to work on some fine motor skills.

My educational background is in ECE (early childhood education) so I enjoy putting these things together! Its important to remember that every child is different. I could go on a soap box about this. I take some issues with standardized education because I’ve seen the vast differences in a child’s development, during my years of teaching and now, as a mom. We’re taught 7 learning styles when studying ECE. Every human being learns differently and that is why I believe standardized education is too narrow of an approach to learning.

I digress.

Deep breath.

Today I’m going to share 4 toddler activities that build fine motor skills and that I’ve actually tested on my own toddler. The best part is you can put these things together for little to ZERO cost. I had most of these things already or I ran to the dollar store for a few things. As with all baby and toddler activities, PLEASE supervise your child.

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Pom Pom Wisk

Items Needed:

  • Large wisk
  • Pom poms

This activity is pretty simple! The objective is for your toddler to pull the pom poms out of the wisk and/or stuff them back in. This is a wonderful activity that teaches a child critical thinking. It’s challenging but still simple enough that they don’t usually become frustrated.

Pipe Cleaner Threading

Items Needed:

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Straws cut in half
  • Strainer

The objective with this one is to have your child thread the pipe cleaners through the straws or strainer. My toddler took a creative approach and started pushing the straws through the strainer as well! This exercise is great for building muscles children use for their pincer grasp. That comes in handy for holding writing utensils later on.

Cupcake Pom Poms

Items Needed:

  • Tablespoon
  • Cupcake Tin
  • Pom poms

In this activity your child uses the tablespoon to scoop pom poms into the cupcake tin. Grasping the tablespoon is great for building the muscles they need to hold utensils for eating. It also requires hand and eye coordination.

Colour Sorting Pom Poms

Items Needed:

  • Coloured bowls or containers
  • Pom poms in colours that match the bowls
  • Plastic fine motor tweezers or grasping tool

This activity is a bit more advanced. The only reason I’ve done this one with my 20 month old is he’s been recognizing a few of his colours for the past month. I started working with him on colours by sorting his blocks onto the matching colour mat, on the floor in his room. So I thought I would try a colour sorting activity like this. The tweezers can be challenging but fantastic for developing those muscles in the hands. Even if your child doesn’t recognize their colours yet, it’s a great activity to try. I purchased the bowls and poms at the dollar store. You can find grabbing tools here.

A Few Things To Consider When Doing These Activities For Your Toddler:

  • Know when your child is done with the activity and that it’s ok if their attention span isn’t very long. My son is 20 months old and he can spend around 5-10 minutes on these activities. 10 minutes is an incredible amount of time and he has to be quite interested as well as motivated to last that long! Once he starts throwing things, I know he’s telling me he’s done. Developmentally, most children have an attention span of their age plus a few minutes. Do I think throwing is wrong? Nope. I actually don’t. Let me tell you why. Children are scientists. They are the BEST scientists. The are going to figure out cause and effect better, faster and more efficiently than any adult ever could. It’s innate. I let my son throw things. I don’t let my son throw EVERYTHING. I’m teaching him what is ok to throw and what isn’t. He may not understand that concept now but with time he will. So if you see a kid outside throwing rocks into a pond or kicking dirt around-probably my kid. #sorrynotsorry

  • Are they ready? 6 months ago my son wasn’t interested in doing these things. He probably would’ve put everything in his mouth or thrown it all across the room. It’s important to approach activities like this with the question: “Is it developmentally Appropriate?” If your baby/toddler is still very oral then you will have to watch them closely or choose a different activity. This leads me to my next point.

  • Don’t compare. Comparing our children to others isn’t fair to them. Take it from an ECE with close to 15 years experience working with kids. I’m not an expert but I’ve seen enough in my years working with young children to understand that they develop skills at different paces. My son is quite verbal at 20 months old. But I know another child around his age who isn’t verbal at all. I know children who started walking as early as 9 months. My son was about 15 months old when he started fully walking. Comparison usually only serves to stir up jealousy, guilt, insecurities and mean mom competition. It can also cause you to hold your child to unrealistic standards. Love your child for who he is, not who you think they should be. You’ll be surprised at all the amazing things they are capable of as they grow in the security of your love.

*I’m not suggesting that you disregard the advice of any doctor or health professional if they are concerned about something developmental with your child. If you suspect your child may need help in a specific area, please seek help.

I’ve really been enjoying new activities with my son and soon enough his little brother will be joining him. Check back for more posts on fun, developmentally appropriate (and inexpensive) activities for babies and toddlers!

A Toddler and Infant Routine For A Stay At Home Mama. (Revised)

A few days ago I sat down to eat my lunch after I had put both my boys down for a nap when I started to smell something strange.

Well, not really strange. It was just the smell of poop.

Instead of enjoying my warm lunch while both my boys miraculously napped, I began tearing my house apart in search of the poop smell. I don’t keep poopy diapers in the house. The cloth ones get rinsed and go straight in a bucket. Disposables go straight to the outside garbage.

WHAT AND WHERE WAS IT?!

Come to find out, my cat had pooped in my son’s overnight bag. How nice of him. At least he didn’t poop on the floor, right?

Anyways.

I wanted to share what our daily routine looks like now that Jack is 6 months old and Hudson is 20 months old. Things have changed quite a bit in the past few months! When I became pregnant with Jack, I was googling toddler/infant routines. I’m a routine person and routines help us thrive in our home. Our routine changes, based on the season and ages of my children. I also sleep train and bottle feed, in case you are wondering.

Right now we are entering SPRING and I AM SO HAPPY! We go outside as much as possible, get dirty and sunburnt. I love it! I’m also starting to do some very basic (but intentional) educational, sensory and fine motor play with Hudson. I purchased these preschool posters on Amazon and a kind friend laminated them for me. Hudson LOVES them! There are 9 posters that go through numbers, letters, colours, shapes, emotions, days of the week, months, seasons and animals.

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So here is what our daily routine loosely looks like! Of course, I adjust for play dates, appointments and such.

6-7 AM Wakeup, cartoons, bottles and diaper changes.

7-8AM Breakfast, prep for Jack’s nap (dadda goes to work by 7:45).

8 AM-9:45AM Jack naps, Hudson and Mama get dressed. Sensory or independent play inside or outside.

10 AM Snack for Hudson and bottle for Jack, diaper changes, Mama does chore of the day, tidys the house etc.

11 AM Walk to the park, sometimes meet up with friends to play or sensory/independent play in the backyard.

12:30 -3:30 PM Lunch and Nap routines. *I’ve made it a rule that I do not cook, clean, fold laundry or do any type of work during nap time. It’s often the only time I get to rest during the day. I learned the hard way that not taking time for myself when the boys nap results in a super cranky mommy the rest of the afternoon.

3/3:30 PM Snack for Hudson, bottle for Jack, change diapers.

3:30-5 PM Outside play (pending weather) Sometimes we will meet up with friends again at the park or go for a walk!

5-8 PM Dinner, baths and bedtimes. This is a large window of time and I am very flexible with it for a few reasons. Jack always goes to bed an hour or so earlier than Hudson. Their bedtimes are generally consistent but I adjust according to how well (and long) they napped. My husband also works flexible hours. Sometimes he’s home by dinner and other nights he’s home after everyone is put to bed. If we can, we try to eat dinner together and tag team baths/bedtimes.

When you are creating a routine for yourself and your kid(s) it’s important to consider a few things:

  • Obviously, how many kids do you have? Based on how many and their ages, you will have to adjust for different nap times and keeping older siblings busy. Things like sensory play, busy boxes, and toy rotation can be great ways to entertain an older sibling. (When we had so much ice and snow this winter, I would fill up a small, plastic bin with soapy warm water and fun toys. I would throw down a bunch of towels on the kitchen floor, crank up the heat, strip Hudson to his diaper and let him have at it. HE LOVED IT!
  • Will you sleep train? I’m a huge sleep training advocate. Routines and sleep training flow really well together. While you can’t 100% guarantee that your children will sleep perfectly, you can certainly help them learn to create healthy sleep habits. You can read more about my take on sleep training here.
  • How important is routine to you? I know people with small children who don’t follow any daily routine and while I personally would lose my mind, I’m guessing it works for them!

I love routine because it gives me a sense of purpose in what can feel like chaos. We are homebodies most of the time. I really enjoy coming home to my own space with my family. We share our home with tenants living below us but it’s decently private and I LOVE doing my own thing my kiddos. It’s such a blessing to be home with my boys. I don’t have the pressure of an outside job and I can put their needs first. While some days are harder than others, I wouldn’t trade this season for anything in all the world!

Do you like routine or do you let loose and go with the flow? How do you spend your days with your littles?

How To Mom When You Get Sick. (Moms Don’t Take Sick Days)

Last month my husband came home from a long day of work (for him) and a long day of momming (for me) looking pretty pale.

My husband literally never falls ill. Or if he does, he’s over it within 24 hours. So when he started showing signs of illness and commenting on feeling crummy, my heart sank. For my husband to say he doesn’t feel well means that he’s pretty dang sick.

My heart sank for a few reasons, to which you can probably relate if you are a parent of young children.

  1. I didn’t want my boys catching whatever my husband had.
  2. I knew my husband’s illness would probably result in lack of sleep for the both of us because one of us ends up on an air mattress in the living room or in the playroom. Not the best sleep you’ll get.
  3. I could not get sick.

I mean, it’s a given that moms don’t take sick days right? I’m no wimp when it comes to being sick but I also don’t believe in toughing it out when things like vomiting, fevers, colds with green snot, flu, coughs, and such are present in a body. I think it’s actually pretty simple. If you are sick, stay home. I don’t know why that is such a difficult concept for people!

Nobody wants your sickness, Felicia. (Who is Felicia?)

I try take a more natural approach to illness with myself and my family. 75% of the time my natural, holistic remedies, supplements, herbal teas, essential oils and homeopathic thingies really do work! I have a few ways that I like to keep our immune systems bolstered during cold and flu season which you can read about here.

Lack of sleep is a huge factor in weakening my immune system. I have 2 babies and while they sleep pretty great considering, I’m still up through the night. My days also start about 5/6am. So, when this virus hit our home I knew we were all going down like Titanic.

BC (before children) I was able to take real sick days and rest until I wasn’t…..sick. Now when I get sick, I still have a 4 month old and 18 month old to take care of. Long gone are the glorious days of staying in bed, watching Netflix and sipping herbal tea. Now, when I’m sick, I’m also taking care of two helpless monkeys while feeling like a toilet bowl the whole time.

Sometimes our family is able to help (so grateful!) and my husband has stayed home if I really need him to. But our situation is such that if my husband stays home, he does it without pay. So, I have to be in pretty bad shape for him to stay home with us.

So what does a sick mom do when she still has to mom? WELL we’re going on over a month of illness here so I feel like I might have some tips for you.

Here are 5 things to help you mom, while sick (with sick kids) and not die in the process.

  • Order food, let family bring you meals, and keep food simple. We did a lot of this the past month. We don’t eat out often but Skip The Dishes became our BFF during illness. Our family also brought meals to us which was heavenly. If I didn’t do either of those things it was usually soup and sandwiches or breakfast for dinner. It’s about survival!
  • Lay on the floor. Ok what? I have an 18 month old with endless amounts of energy, even when he’s sick. The poor kid had croup and was still climbing my curtains during the day. When I felt the worst, I dragged out some of his toys to the living room, laid on the floor (on a pillow) and let him climb all over me. This way, I was somewhat conserving my energy. If you can, nap when your kids nap. This wasn’t possible for me because my boys seemed to end up on opposite nap schedules but I did lay on the couch when my 4 month old was awake and my toddler napped.
  • Turn on the TV. I think 99% of parents can agree that TV is a blessing in times like these. I don’t feel guilty for using the TV somewhat excessively when we’re all sick. It helps my toddler chill for a bit and rest his body as well as give me a break. If TV isn’t something you use in your home, that’s cool. Find something that your kids love but don’t get to do often and maybe let them do it so you can have some time to sit and rest.
  • Take Turns. If you can work it out with your partner or spouse, take turns at night getting up with the kids. My husband has always been a part of nighttime care with our boys just as much as me. Part of that is because my boys took bottles very early on so that worked out for us. If you can work it out taking turns, then both of you can get a chance to rest. Sleep is probably the most important factor in recovering quickly from illness. Have a plan on how you can accomplish getting some rest/recovery quickly.
  • Let go of the mess. I wouldn’t call myself a neat freak but I like my home and house clean as well as fairly organized. But this past month my house turned into a dump. Laundry and dishes piled up. Toys were literally everywhere and my floors were one giant, sticky, mess. Since we all had colds, I couldn’t tell you if it smelled like a big diaper and I don’t even care to be honest. Yes, it drove me nuts to see my house a complete mess but my husband and I were basically sleep deprived, tortured prisoners of war. It will be clean again one day. Don’t sweat it.

So, there you have it. If you are reading this and thinking, “Wow this is a no brainer.” Cool. I’m a practical person and I write practical blog posts. When we were all sick this past month, I actually googled “How to survive being sick when you have small children.” SO hopefully someone finds this helpful.

I wish you the best in health and parenthood!

How do you cope as a parent when you are sick? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

4 Homemade Baby Formula Options

From unmedicated childbirth to cloth diapering, I’ve often been met with skepticism with some of the more labour (literally) intense approaches I’ve taken in motherhood. I see much of what I do as a labour of love for these sweet babies God has given me. I’m sure you feel the same way about how you parent!

Homemade Formula!

My journey with feeding my babies has been a long one that I’m still currently on. You can read more in depth about that here and here. This journey has brought me to making my own formula for my youngest son, Jack. He’s currently 4.5 months old. I had Jack on Costco’s baby formula. He was doing ok on it but started having some skin and digestion issues. My oldest was raised on Costco formula and he has no allergies or issues. He thrived on it! So, I’m not here to debate the ingredients or nutrition in store-bought baby formula. I’ll talk about some nutrition related facts today but not to discredit or demean the way anyone feeds their babies. It’s just part of the topic.

I have no doubt that there are some less than desirable ingredients in store bought baby formula but it’s what helped us thrive as a family for a long time. I wasn’t mentally (or emotionally) in a good place to be making my own formula, after Hudson was born. At this time in my life, I feel like I’m able to do this and I genuinely LOVE making this for my sweet baby, Jack. It’s a labour of love like many of the things I do for my babies.

I have 4 homemade baby formula options for you, if this is something you are interested in.

If you aren’t familiar with the Weston A. Price foundation, I highly recommend checking them out! They are a knowledgeable foundation with solid information and resources when it comes to nutrition, among many other topics. They offer three different variations of homemade baby formula. My sister has made their raw milk formula for 3 out of 4 of her babies. They all thrived on it! Unfortunately raw milk is illegal here in Canada, so this wasn’t an option for me. They also have a raw goat milk version of this formula. Also not quite an option for me, being in Canada. A 3rd option that WAPF offers is a liver based version. I loved the nutritional value of all these options but I felt a bit overwhelmed by ingredients and steps needed to make the formula.

One night, I stumbled across a goat milk based formula that was similar to the WAPF version but made much more simple. I cried tears of relief as I had been calculating what it would cost to put Jack on a dairy free or sensitive type formula. I was also able to easily obtain the ingredients needed for this formula.

Not only is this homemade formula cost effective, it’s SO EASY to make! It was tweaked by mama and Holistic Nutritionist, Rama Pfeiffer, along with the knowledge and expertise of Joe Stout M. S. of Mt. Capra products.

Rama talks about the difference of proteins in cow’s milk and goat’s milk and why goat’s milk protein is more easily digested. Nutritionally, goat’s milk is much higher in fat and quiet close to human breast milk, which is why many parents choose whole goat’s milk after they wean their baby. I personally do not use the powdered goat’s milk and I don’t have access to raw goat’s milk. I buy whole, pasteurized goat’s milk from my local grocery store and I dilute this by 50%, as per the recipe. I then add the remaining ingredients. I only make up to 2 days worth because I find that the formula can start to go sour if left for more than few days.

I will update this post with pictures of how I make the formula, once it’s time for me to whip up a fresh batch.

I eased Jack onto this formula by combining it with what he was currently on. 1 oz the first day, 2 oz the next, and then eventually a full 4 to 6 oz. The recipe calls for un-sulphured black strap molasses which is helpful in relieving constipation. You an add more if baby gets backed up OR less if baby is having super runny bm’s.

I’m thrilled to report that Jack is thriving on this formula. His skin issues cleared up within a few weeks and his digestive issues have eased up as well! He’s weighing close to 17 pounds. Not that weight is the only indication of health in a baby but I thought I would share his weight! I hope this post is helpful for someone out there, who is looking at different options for feeding their baby. You are doing fantastic, mama!

Feel free to ask me any questions about this formula and my experience using it. Have you ever made homemade baby formula? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or medical professional. Please talk to your child’s doctor before changing what you are feeding them.

5 Things I’ve Learned About Feeding My Babies.

There are a few things I’ve struggled with as mom that stand out more than others.

How I’ve fed my babies is one of those things. If you are a young mom like me, chances are you have struggled with this very thing. I think it’s great that we are talking about it in the mom community today. My mom says that no-one talked about it when she was in the early years of raising my sister and I. I can’t even imagine how lonely and isolating that must have felt for my mom as well as so many other moms.

When I became pregnant with my first son, I didn’t assume that breastfeeding would or wouldn’t work out. I was pretty neutral about the whole thing. When Hudson was born, we struggled to establish breastfeeding. After a myriad of decisions, I made the choice to pump breastmilk and feed that to him for 12 weeks. I couldn’t tell you if he was ever EBF (exclusively breastfed) because sleep deprivation blurs those early months. At some point in the early weeks of Hudson’s life we began introducing store bought formula to him. He thrived on both my breastmilk and Costco formula. I cried when I made the decision to stop pumping. I knew he preferred my breastmilk but I couldn’t keep going. If you’ve ever pumped exclusively or almost exclusively, you will understand how much work it is to keep up with. I remember the last 1/2 ounce I pumped for Hudson. I stood at my kitchen sink, crying quietly with the soft glow of Christmas lights behind me.

Meeting Jack for the first time!

When Jack was born he latched beautifully minutes after he came out. He wouldn’t get off the boob and basically camped out there for the next week. My milk came in within 24 hours. Because Jack was so efficient at nursing, I experienced true breastfeeding for the first time. It was like a train ran me over, on top of already feeling trashed from an intense labour and delivery. I loved those first weeks of Jack nursing as much as I hated the pain. I felt like my body was trying to kill me in the process of feeding my son. Eventually I began pumping so I could get more sleep at night. But I just couldn’t keep up with the pumping, while caring for a newborn and 14 month old. After going back and forth, I made the decision to switch Jack to formula completely when he was 6 weeks old. When Jack was 3 months old I began making his formula from goat’s milk. I’m happy to report he’s thriving on it!

Me and Hudson 2 weeks postpartum.

I want to share some things I’ve learned on this journey in hopes that I can encourage other mamas.

  • Everyone has an opinion and you have a choice. It will not matter what you do, someone will have something to say about it. People think they mean well (and they might) but you will hear all kinds of things about how you choose to feed your baby, as well as all the other parenting decisions you make. You have a choice in how you respond to people. It doesn’t have to be a war with another mama in some parenting forum over her poor choice of words. Honestly? I’ve just taken breaks from social media, situations and people if I feel like they are continually negative towards the way I parent. It’s worth it to let things go and keep moving forward!
  • Nobody has to know how you feed your baby. You might think this point is strange, but I really mean that. Nobody has to know how you feed your baby, except maybe your doctor for medical reasons. Did you know you have every right to say to someone, “He’s fed with love, thanks!” That may seem really rude or direct but maybe if we started this way, it could stop the questions (or saying things) that are pointless, time consuming not to mention ridiculous. Keep it simple, right?
  • It doesn’t matter how or why you chose to feed your baby the way you feed them. I think this has been the hardest point for me to come to terms with and actually put into practice. I mean here I am writing a blog post for the world to read, about my journey feeding my babies. When I say it doesn’t matter, I don’t mean that you don’t matter. You matter and the reasons for how you feed your baby are valid. I support you, whatever your journey looks like. But you don’t owe a single person an explanation, not even your partner. I think it’s important to include your partner in those conversations but only because you then can invite them into being a very important support person during this journey. (More on this later!) What is most important is that YOU are OK with how you choose to feed your baby.
  • Your partner is important. I can’t say this enough. The highs and lows of caring for a baby can be extremely lonely. I wouldn’t be where I am today, with the confidence, security, and firm footing in this journey, if it wasn’t for my wonderful husband. No our marriage isn’t all roses and chocolate! But his support has come through when I’ve needed it the most. I cried when he told me to put Jack on formula full time. I cried because of the immense relief, love and support I felt. I felt a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders and then I began to enjoy motherhood again. You need your partner during this season (and every season of parenting) even when it feels like all they can offer you is a literal shoulder to cry on. That shoulder is really important. Find a way to make them a part of your journey as hard as that might feel sometimes. You won’t regret it! The extra support of our families has also been a blessing. They have only ever been supportive of the way I’ve chosen to feed my babies. I can’t even put a price on how valuable that support is.
  • Love really is the most important. #loveisbest is something that I can get behind, when it comes to how I take care of my babies. At the end of the day, we all want what the best for our babies. That is going to look different for every family. I see all of you. You are important and you are doing incredible! Earlier I italicized that I made the choice to give my babies formula because I want to get an important point across. You have a choice in how you feed your baby. Only you will know what is the best for your baby AND you!

I’ve done both breastfeeding and formula feeding with my babies. I want to be clear that I’m not discouraging or promoting any one way of feeding your baby. Formula is just what worked for us and is part of our journey. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m PRO feed your baby! If you are looking for some homemade baby formula options, I’ve got you covered here.

I am here to tell you that however your feeding journey has gone with your baby (or babies) it doesn’t have to define you in the way you think. You aren’t more than or less than. You just are. And that is really important. You also aren’t alone on this journey so don’t hesitate to reach out. You can email me anytime at sarahelaine225@hotmail.com

You are present in your baby’s life, loving them and being their mama. THAT is the most important. Go, mama, go!

What has been your experience with feeding your baby? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

4 Tips For Minimizing Meltdowns

“AAAAEEEEEGGGH!”
The sound of my son’s anguished screaming fills my house. The sun has not even risen. I’m still in my pyjamas, trying to wash my face in the bathroom. The next minute I hear uncontrollable laughing. What on earth, you may ask?

One word, my friends. Toddlers.

Before I was a mom, I spent close to 15 years with other people’s toddlers.
I’ve learned a few things by studying early childhood development, to teaching in the classroom and from daily life with my own toddler.

By no means do I have parenting perfected. Heck, half the time I’m winging it! But I wanted to share some things I’ve learned along the way.

So let me ask you FIRST, do you have a toddler you find yourself extremely frustrated with on a daily basis? Do you feel like you’ve tried all the things yet still resort to bribery, yelling, and general threats?
I want to help you help your toddler by sharing 4 common mistakes that I have made.


1) Not Understanding Developmental Immaturity. Young children do not have the developmental maturity to control themselves. Impulse is difficult for them to control. It’s something they learn as their brain matures. Impulse control is also something that we teach them as they grow.

My 16 month old loves to scream for fun. He loves to throw things. He hits me in the face when I ask for a kiss. I don’t like it and I don’t want him to do those things. I say things like, “OUCH! That hurts my ears.” “Hands are for clapping or praying but they are not for hitting.” (thanks sis!) I’ll redirect him by taking his hands and showing him what they can be used for.

I also try to validate how he might be feeling. “I see that you are angry because I’m not letting you throw cat litter everywhere.” (real example!) Validating emotions does not validate bad behaviour. Validating emotions are important in helping children recognize what they are feeling. We do this so that as they grow, they learn to communicate to us what is going on inside of them and for overall emotional health.

The Wonder Weeks book and app are great tools for better understanding child development!

2) Not Creating A Toddler Friendly (SAFE) Environment. When you walk into a toddler/preschool classroom what do you see? Everything is setup for small children, right? One of my course requirements in college was to set up a daycare/preschool classroom and subsequently be graded on it. It goes to show how important physical environment can be as it pertains to a child’s development.

It’s time to rearrange things if you find yourself constantly battling your toddler over what they can/can’t touch in your home.
Use baby gates and child safe locks. Arrange their room so that it’s safe (and inviting) for them to play in there without you hovering over them. Close doors to rooms that they don’t need to be in. Rearrange the contents of drawers and cupboards that they have access to. Be ok with them taking all your Tupperware out. They can’t break it, right? It might seem like a lot of work in the beginning but it’s more work every day to battle with a toddler over the contents of your china cabinet.

3) Being Too Controlling. This is my #1 mistake! I am a control freak by nature. Trying to control everything a toddler does will guarantee tantrums. Their strong willed desire to do everything on their own is completely normal.

It’s important developmentally to give children the freedom to make age appropriate choices. It teaches independence, self sufficiency and responsibility as well as the value of consequences. Not to mention giving you a break once they learn to do certain things for themselves.

Involve your child in cleaning up messes. I give my son the dust pan and hand broom when I’m vacuuming. While he doesn’t clean much giving him this task has redirected his obsession with pulling our stick vacuum off the wall. Set out a few pairs of pants and shirts for them to choose from and help them get dressed. Present a few food choices at mealtimes. I talk more about diffusing food battles with toddlers, here. A little independence can go a long way in shifting the emotions of your child thus diverting a meltdown!

4) Not Keeping Things Simple.
Have you ever walked into a messy room filled with stuff and felt overwhelmed? Research shows the links between mess and stress. You will find article after article about how too much stuff increases sensory overload. Imagine the developing brain of a young child and how sensory overload affects them! If you have a room (or two) overflowing with toys, chances are you’ve got an overwhelmed toddler.

I’ve seen many times during my career as an ECE and as a mom too many toys lead to some major meltdowns.

Get rid of the excess and simplify the amount of toys your child has. You could also try organizing toys into boxes and rotate them throughout the week. I’ve had great success with my toddler by rotating toys. He plays longer with his toys and it’s less mess to clean up. Great tips on toy rotation here!

You aren’t alone if you feel like your toddler is hard work! Because we are their parents, it’s our responsibility to help them develop. I do not have these things perfected. I have many parenting moments I am not proud of. My son still has tantrums. We are working on decreasing the amount of tantrums he has by practicing the things I’ve shared here.

It’s SO MUCH WORK to help a child grow and mature. It takes time and dedication. I think the most valuable payoff is giving a child important tools for successfully navigating the many challenges of life. The sooner we can give them those tools, the better!

Don’t be discouraged if it’s not all coming together. Everything takes time. You are the best person for the job!

What are some ways you effectively avoid tantrums in your home? What has or has not worked for you? I’d love to hear from you!