Meet the Mamas


Welcome to Man-Cub Mamas! We hope you’ll join us on our journey in parenting man-cubs. Our site has three mama authors: Mama R, Mama M, and Mama T. Together we span the length of the US, living on the East Coast, Mid United States, and West Coast respectively. We look forward to sharing advice, DIY crafts, and book reviews with you.

Tips, toddlers

What to Do When Your Child Plays With Poop


Our son went through a poop playing stage a back in May and we thought we were in the clear after two months of no incidents. But this week he did it again. You may pooh-pooh our predicament, but this is a serious issue. My husband is pretty sure this was premeditated. Although our son usually goes to his room to have some privacy when he poops, this time he brought a bunch of construction vehicles and shut the door. As you can see from the picture above, he had a great time using his construction vehicles to move loads of “dirt” like they would in real life. If it weren’t so disgusting, I would be more impressed with his creativity—like how he used his “dump” truck.

It is normal and natural for a toddler to play with their poop as part of the “Anal Stage.”   With all of the incidents we’ve had, I never worried about the obsession as much as the mess that I have to clean up every time. So what can you do about it in the meantime? Here are some recommendations we received and how they turned out:

  • Constant Vigilance. We would carefully monitor our toddler during the day, but the times he would get us were when he was supposed to be sleeping. He would be stealthily quiet. He would wait until he had ultimate privacy and knew we wouldn’t be checking on him. Because guys, I just don’t have the time to check on my son every 10 minutes to see if he’s asleep. I have things to do during nap time. Like clean up poop.
  • Time outs while we clean up his mess. This gave him yet another opportunity to poop and play with it, since he was supposed to be in solitary confinement. As you can see, there’s a reason this suggestion is Number 2.  bowels comic
  • Making him clean it up. Our son was thrilled when he found out it was his “duty” to spray cleaning solution on his poop and wipe it up. We then tried just making him watch us, but I felt like if he was going to go to all the effort of “decorating” (his words) the windows, then he should clean it up. Now we make him clean up his messes, but we realize that he doesn’t see this as a punishment.
  • Sensory play. Literally less than an hour after playing in the mud, our son pooped and played with it. I tried pulling out the play dough more often, but I’m pretty sure it just gave him more ideas of what he could do with his doodoo. We basically just increased his sensory play time.
  • Reprimands. Yeah, those didn’t really stink sink in. As much as we told him that it was “yucky to play with poop” and “we don’t play with poop,” I’m pretty sure all he heard was “blah blah play with poop, blah blah blah play with poop.”
  • Potty training. If you read Mama T’s post on Potty Training, you’ll know that it may take several tries. We had already tried potty training before our son’s poop playing stage and we gave up after three weeks. Nevertheless, we made renewed efforts to invite him to poop on the potty. I even left a little potty in his room so that if he needed to pull of his diaper, he could poop there instead. The next morning we woke up and he had smeared poop everywhere…except the potty.

What recommendation did end up working for us? Duct taping his diapers shut. This gem came from my mom, who apparently had to do this with all three of her children (including me). We duct taped his diapers before every nap time and every bed time. After a month, we stopped using tape just to see if he had noticed. He didn’t.

So what led to the incident this week? He was in a pull-up. I know this sounds like I’m a dumb parent, but hear me out: Up until today, our son hasn’t figured out how to get a pull-up off. It was actually easier for him to take off a diaper than a pull-up. So after lunch today I slapped one on him since we were running low on diapers. And that, my friends, was my mistake.

If you need me, I’ll be stocking up on duct tape.

Why I Needed a Mom Vacation


You Know You’re the Mom of a Toddler When…


Everyone knows that toddlers are crazy. Bipolar, erratic, defiant, hyper, wild animals… But they are also oh-so-sweet and oh-so-entertaining! It is so rewarding as a parent to watch your little person grow and develop into his/her own personality, and to see him/her absorb new things every single day, all day long! At this age, kids’ brains are sponges!!


1) You all of the sudden have a second shadow.

2) You realize one day that you’ve allowed yourself to become a garbage disposal.

*”Oh, you don’t want your chicken nuggets? I’ll just finish them for you…”

3) Getting yourself ready for the day before 3:00 pm is a tremendous victory.

4) If a stranger were to listen in on your conversations, it would sound like you are fluent in several different languages.

*Toddler: “Daddy agoo baja ROAR aba daba owtside bash coookie!”

Dad: “Ok buddy, you can have a cookie.”

5) Sometimes, the word “Mommy” makes you shudder and twitch (it’s the screaming that’ll do it…)

*Of course, the same word, said sweetly, makes your heart melt.


6) Snuggles in the morning are the best part about waking up at the crack of dawn.

7) You’ve memorized several books, such as “Goodnight Moon”, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”, “The Foot Book”, and “Elmo’s Night Before Christmas”.

8) You have been hit, kicked, pinched, and have had your hair pulled out on occasion.

9) You have a new-found taste for foods such as PB&J, string cheese, animal crackers, and apple juice.

10) You swell with pride whenever your son or daughter learns a new word, makes a good decision over a bad one, or hugs you for no reason except that they love you.

Yes, being the parent of a toddler makes life exciting, tiring, funny, crazy, and interesting. But one thing’s for sure:

I wouldn’t choose to have any other life than the one I have as a mommy! Having and raising my little boys has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done.

And one more for all the dads:

parenting reality


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Reading, Tips

Teaching Kids the Alphabet


It’s never too early to teach your child the alphabet. We started when D was 1! Even though progress was slow, we kept at it. Now, over a year later, D can recognize all of the uppercase letters of the alphabet. Whatever your child’s age, here are some tips for getting started:

Read with your kids. Read all kinds of books, but alphabet books can be especially helpful. Some of our favorites are Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Hooper Humperdink..? Not Him, and My Foodie ABC. I also love Greg Paprocki’s illustrated historical ABC books.

Songs. Besides the traditional ABC song, there are a lot of other versions out there! Whether “Cookie Starts with C” or Usher’s ABC remix, you are sure to find something your kid will like to sing.

Reinforce one letter at a time. The first letter our son identified was the letter O. So we made an effort to point out all the different O’s we saw throughout the day. This was an especially easy letter, since it came up a lot through shapes.

Physical versions of letters. Help your kids learn the alphabet kinesthetically through alphabet magnets or blocks! Since it’s back to school season, I’ve noticed that letter and number magnets are a easier to find. We picked up a lowercased set at Target last week in their dollar section.

Letter games. We have a letter and number monster that can eat our plastic alphabet magnets after our son identifies each one. We also have rounded up a lot of fun letter games on our Pinterest board here.

Tracing/writing letters. Whether you’re using a plain piece of paper or a book where your child can follow the lines, it helps to learn your ABC’s by drawing them. We picked up this awesome Write-On, Wipe-Off ABC book at the Dollar Tree. Usborne also sells wipe-clean books that come with a dry erase marker.

Why I Needed a Mom Vacation


Why Having Boys Isn’t What I Expected


“Little boy, you remind me how so much depends on days made of now” (“Little Boy”, Alison McGhee).

I’m kind of a girly-girl. I love all things pink, flowery, and sparkly. I was never in the least bit interested in toy trucks, dinosaurs, etc… Dolls were more of my thing. Yet, I now find myself being drawn to the trucks and dinosaurs as well as all things blue; my life is immersed in all things boy. I am the mom of two boys who have completely stolen my heart!

At first I wasn’t sure how I would handle a boy. And then after I had fallen in love with my role as a boy mom, I wasn’t sure how I’d handle two of them! But little did I know that the second one would be just as precious, just as scrumptious, just as perfect as the first one. In fact, because of these two little people, my heart has grown about 100 sizes. I wouldn’t trade my role as their mother for anything in the whole universe.

Here are some things about having sons that have caught me by surprise.

5 Reasons Having Boys Isn’t What I Expected:

1) Sons are mamas’ boys.

I will forever tell my boys that they are never too old or too cool to hug their mom.

2) Boys are very snuggly.

My boys are so snuggly and kissable, I could just eat them right up!

3) Moms of boys feel a lot of pressure to raise good, noble men.

Don’t we all feel that our world could use more men who are kind, thoughtful, and honest? All little boys grow up to be men- moms with sons take their job seriously and often fret over their ability to raise those boys well.

4) Boys are sensitive.

Contrary to what society tries to instill in us, boys are naturally sensitive, gentle, and kind. They receive pressure, as they grow up, to be more “manly”, which often implies them “needing” to become more aggressive and less sensitive. No, a true man is not aggressive and insensitive. The men I know who exemplify true manhood (especially my husband Brian) are sensitive to others, kind, thoughtful, and respectful of women.

I feel a huge responsibility to raise good boys in a world that wants them to be bad and tells them that they shouldn’t love themselves unless they fit a certain “manly” mold.

5) I often feel that my heart might burst with how much love I have for these boys of mine.

After a day filled with lots of pee, poop (LOTS of poop), chasing, reading, growling, laughing, and snuggling, I watch my sweet boys as they sleep and can’t believe that they are MINE- that I get to raise them, teach them, and love them. As much as I wish time would just slow down and let them be little for longer, I can’t wait to experience crazy life with these guys and watch them grow into men with their own unique personalities, talents, and dreams.

Nothing could have prepared me for the way I would feel about my sons. I feel a precious little piece of Heaven when I kiss their chubby little cheeks and hold their soft little hands.

“No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you. After all, you’re the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside” (Unknown).


How to Potty Train a Strong-Willed Child

I’m going to be honest: I really can’t tell you exactly, step-by-step how my son was potty trained a year ago. I can’t say that it “just happened”, because there was definitely lots of work involved; but I also can’t say that my husband and I followed a certain plan for it. I’ve read and heard countless pieces of advice on the subject: everyone has their own opinion! This is because every child is different! I don’t believe in a miracle, one-size-fits-all approach to potty training, because methods that work for one child may not work for another, even within families.

So I’ve put together some advice for you parents who are wondering this: How do I potty train my strong-willed child? All toddlers are strong-willed by definition… 😉 But I’m talking about those Type A toddlers, the ones who are 2-going-on-13, the ones who see Mom and Dad as their minions rather than their authority figures. Oh wait, am I just talking about my toddler??? *cough cough*

Anyway, here is the advice I have for you parents of strong-willed children!

how to potty train a strong willed child


  • Don’t force the issue.

It took about three different potty training attempts for the idea to finally stick with my son. I knew it was too soon for him when he started to act anxious about going poo. Potty training does take encouragement from parents, but we can’t force a child to be ready on our timetable. They probably won’t come up to us and declare “Mom, I’m ready to use the potty now.” But if they’re ready to try the transition, they won’t fight it too much.

  • Prepare your child by saying that the diapers are almost gone.

This approach worked really well for my son! After we told him that the diapers were all gone, the concept clicked with him that his underwear was it! I think he felt that as long as there were diapers to rely on, he could always save his poop for when he wore a diaper at night instead of relying on his own body cues. Which brings me to my next point….

  • First, focus on staying dry during the day, then tackle nighttime.

I got this advice from a family member as my son was starting to potty train. She suggested to us that we focus on getting him to learn how to stay dry during the day, then once that was established, to help him learn the nighttime potty training.

  • Don’t rely on pull-ups. Transition from diapers to underwear.

I know lots of parents swear by them, but we decided to not use pull-ups. My son only wore underwear (or nothing!) during the day, then wore a diaper at night. Eventually, after he figured out how to stay dry during the day, and after he understood that we didn’t have any more diapers at home (P.S. We actually did have SOME left… We just told him that they were “all gone”),  he wore underwear at night. I feel that wearing underwear forces kids to learn what it feels like to sit in their own pee or poop…. And helps them understand that they are growing out of diapers and into a new, bigger, cool phase: UNDIES!

  • Don’t shame your child when they have accidents, but be firm with them that we cannot pee and poop in our underwear.

We don’t want to make our kids develop complexes about their body functions, but we also don’t want them to believe that there aren’t consequences for peeing and pooping everywhere. My son actually thought his first poop-on-the-floor accident was funny… But we kept telling him that “we don’t poop on the floor- it’s so yucky” and he watched us clean it up. (I wasn’t comfortable with having my son clean up poo quite yet…) We tried to not laugh or make it seem funny around him, but we also didn’t scold him for the accident.

  • Help your child feel accomplished and proud whenever he/she stays dry for a period of time.

Rewards for going pee or poo in the potty are great, too! But don’t forget that STAYING DRY is a huge part of the potty training process!


Good luck to all of you brave parents! 🙂 What are some of your potty training tips?


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Crafts, Recycling

5 Ways to Reuse Junk Mail


We get a lot of junk mail. At first I would just toss these straight into the trash. Then, I realized that I had several opportunities to make use of all that extra paper before getting rid of it. Here are some of the ways we’ve used our junk mail before ultimately throwing it away:

Toy Credit Cards. Got a credit card offer? Check to see if they included a “sample” of what the card will look like. I’ve started keeping these samples and put them in a toy wallet for my son. Now he feels just like an adult with all of his credit cards. The best part is if they get lost or destroyed, you can always get another one in the mail.


Crafts. Do you get newspapers every week? After checking to see if there are any sales we are interested in, we often save some of these for craft projects. For example, use these as extra coloring pages, origami paper, and wadded up paper balls to practice your trick shots. We especially like using newspapers when we paint—it helps protect surfaces from any splatters or accidents.

Cleaning. You can also use newspapers and vinegar solution to clean your windows and mirrors.

Shredding. Does your junk mail contain sensitive information? Invest in safety scissors and let your kids do the rest. D knows that when we get junk mail, it is his to cut. We try to put the junk mail in a specific drawer so he doesn’t end up cutting the mail we want to keep—otherwise we end up with a pile of confetti.

Envelopes. You know when you get an offer in the mail and they include an envelope inside for you to send in your money? I try to keep these and reuse them. If you have white labels, you can just slap one on top of the “Business Reply Mail” message up top.

Why I Needed a Mom Vacation


Book Review, Favorite Books, recommended reads

Recommended Reads June 2017

Welcome to Recommended Reads! We’ll be doing a blog post once a month of our favorite picks for picture books, chapter books, and young adult books. If you follow us on Goodreads, you’ve probably already seen these pop up.

Picture Book

little excavator

Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney. If the author sounds familiar, it’s because she is famous for her Llama Llama series. This book was released this month, and the illustrations and story live up to the Llama llama legacy. We loved reading this book and learning about all the different construction vehicles.

Chapter Books

deltora quest

One of my all-time favorite series is Deltora Quest. It’s a series of eight books, but the books are shorter so they are appropriate for as young as third grade. These books are sent in a fantasy world where the main character, Lief, has to complete a quest for all of the jewels for the belt of Deltora. The best part of this series is that in each book, Leif has to solve a logic puzzle. I love that these puzzles give kids the opportunity to solve it themselves. These books were well planned and each character or event builds to create a fabulous series.

YA Book


Even though it’s a little lower reading level, I found this book listed on so many “YA” lists that I’m just going to put it here. Holes is a fabulous book that ties together three different time periods into one fascinating story. The protagonist, Stanley Yelnats, gets sent to a youth camp for a crime he didn’t commit. He has to dig a hole every day as part of his punishment. Throughout the book there will be different stories about Stanley’s ancestors and how their lives came to affect his.