Tips

Keeping Photo and Journal Records for My Kids

keeping photo and journal records for my kids

Journals: Writing

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I knew that I wanted to start some sort of tradition with journal keeping, as a way to remember the important things about my pregnancy, his birth, and his life in the early years. I got this idea from different family members who have kept journals for their children. I bought myself a little journal, and I started writing. I called my BABY JOURNAL, and I wrote it in often. I wrote down the milestones of the pregnancy, feelings I had throughout, and my baby’s birth story. But after he was born, I didn’t feel I should stop! This baby is no longer a baby, but I continue to write in his baby journal. I don’t write in it as often as I used to, but I try to write the big things down, and still my feelings about him and the things that happen in his/our life.

When I became pregnant with my second baby, I knew that I wanted to keep up the journal tradition. How could I do it for my first baby but not my others??? I HAD to keep it up! I was nervous though, because life was busier than when I was pregnant the first time. I wrote down the milestones and some feelings in my second baby’s journal during the pregnancy, but not as often as with my first baby’s journal. Interestingly, I think I write in my second baby’s journal more often now, even though he’s a toddler now! Maybe it’s because I have more time now that my two boys are a little older, or maybe it’s because he’s learning so much and so fun that there’s a ton to write about!

I highly recommend keeping a baby journal for your children. Even if you didn’t keep one when you were pregnant or when your baby first came home, you can start now! And this journaling can be in the form of a baby book! From what I’ve seen, most baby books have plenty of room and prompts for parents to write down their feelings about their child’s milestones.

I strongly believe that it benefits children to read for themselves how their parents think of them. My hope is that my sons will be able to turn to the things I wrote for them in times of need, to remind them that they are loved and cherished.

 

Journals: Photos

I am OBSESSED with photos. I am in love with every single picture that I take of my children, because each one captures a moment in time that will never again pass by. Kids grow so fast; I wish I could remember every moment. I desperately try to keep photo records of my sweet littles. Here’s what I do:

Instagram

This is the easiest way to keep photo journals, especially now that Chatbooks is around! You can have all of your Instagram photos in hard copy for your family.

Photo Books

I put a photo book together for each of my kids every year around their birthday. It takes a lot of time and work, but I absolutely love having these personalized memories of their year! Walmart.com is usually where I get these. I’ve never been disappointed by them!

 

I would love to hear what other parents do to keep record of their kids’ important milestones! What has worked for you??

 

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Tips, toddlers

What to Do When Your Child Plays With Poop

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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.

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Reading, Tips

Teaching Kids the Alphabet

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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.

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Tips

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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Baby, Tips

Best Budget Baby Gifts

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Looking back at my baby shower over two years ago, there are certain items that I am so grateful I got. These were items that I didn’t register for, but wish I had. That said, ALWAYS LOOK AT THE REGISTRY. The registry is king for baby showers. It represents the true desires of the mother-to-be’s heart. Please respect that and get something off of the list (with luck, they’ll have some of the items listed below on their list!). That said, if you don’t have access to the registry or the only items left are out of your price range, here are a few ideas:

  • Children’s Books. A good friend of mine got Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Numbers Colors Shapes for my baby shower and we still read them! They have been a great gift. I feel that you can hardly ever go wrong with children’s books.
  • Bow Ties. We got several bow ties at our son’s baby shower, and we have used them all (and still use them). If we ever have a girl, I’m planning on registering for lots and lots of bows to help off set all of the gender neutral baby clothes we’ve kept.
  • Burp Cloths. Babies spit up a lot, and I never felt like we had too many burp clothes. We received several beautiful handmade burp cloths, and used all of them.
  • Bibs. There was a several month stretch where my son wore bibs every waking hour. He drooled so much. We would go through all of our bibs within a few days. Having cute bibs (especially patterned ones that were less likely to show stains) was nice because half the time people couldn’t even see what my son was wearing underneath.
  • Baby Toiletries. One of my friends gave us a basket which included infant tylenol, diaper rash ointment, gas relief drops, baby shampoo, and baby body wash. It was incredible. We went months before we had to purchase any of those items for ourselves.

The best thing about these items is that many of them are gender neutral (instead of bow ties, you can do bows). These can be great gifts especially if the mother-to-be has chosen not to reveal the baby’s gender.

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Tips

We Should Let Our Boys Be BOYS

we should let our boys be boys

I’m reading a book right now (which I love so far), called The War Against Boys by Christina Hoff Sommers. I’ll let you know when I’m done with it. 😉 This book and a conversation I had with a friend recently, has made me think a lot about raising boys. As a mom, I feel like there are things I rock at (like having sleep routines) and things that I suck at (like doing fun crafty activities… I really hate doing crafts with little kids… 😣). Something I am consciously going to work on right now is letting my boys be boys.

Now I’m not referring to that old saying “boys will be boys” which often implies that aggressive, sexist, sexual behavior should be overlooked because “that’s just how boys are”. Gross. No, boys are not naturally animal-like creatures that lack self-control. I truly feel that boys are misunderstood these days. Did you know that boys are falling behind in academic and career achievement, and have for some time? There are many arguments that try to explain the reason for this crisis. Here’s my theory:

  1. Boys, as a general group, tend to need more physical activity and hands-on learning than many classrooms and schools are providing.
  2. Boys tend to be high-energy: what happens when they can’t channel that energy into their learning, but are required to stifle it? They disengage from learning.
  3. Girls are encouraged and applauded and praised for their achievements, especially since for so long girls and women were treated like second-class citizens. Do boys get encouraged, applauded, and praised as well? I feel like they don’t- at least not to the extent that girls do. What’s another intelligent, succeeding boy, after so many males have gone before him to shape the world? It’s the girls’ turn! (Insert sarcasm)
  4. Boys do not have productive role models. Think about the mainstream role models geared toward boys right now: superheroes, singers, professional athletes? What do these groups have in common? They have big, attractive bodies and they can pretty much do whatever they want.
  5. There is such a double-standard of what it means to be a man. Are good men intelligent or are they dumb and humble? Are good men physical or are they weak? Should they be tough or should they be sensitive? Is it better for boys to be more like girls, to help mold their character into more evolved, mature, higher beings? (Again, insert sarcasm)

I am worried about the kind of world we are raising our boys in. It is NOT second-best to be a boy. Girls and boys, males and females, are needed equally and should be treated with the same respect, love, and encouragement, and given the same opportunities. I do not wish that I had daughters instead of sons.

Here’s my plan for raising my boys to love that they are boys:

  • I’m going to help them understand that it’s okay to cry and be emotional.
  • I’m going to introduce them to male role models that portray and encourage kindness, intelligence, respect, happiness, and ambition.
  • I’m not going to stifle their energetic spirits; I will give them plenty of opportunities to be physical as well as teach them about when it’s appropriate to sit still and be calm.
  • I will teach them how to be reverent and thoughtful.
  • I will play WITH them!
  • I will let them choose what activities, sports, etc. they want to do. If they want to play basketball, great! If they want to do ballet, great! If they want to be on the chess team, great!
  • I will show them that I am interested in what they’re interested in.

 

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Tips

How to Thrive-Not Just Survive- as a Stay-at-Home Mom

how to thrive as a stay at home mom post

how to thrive as a stay at home mom

 

Is this you, by the end of the day? (Or by lunchtime… ?) I know I have days like this! Days when I just want my kids to take care of themselves and let me eat my favorite chocolate while watching my favorite show. Days when the house looks like it’s been overrun by a stampede of wild animals…. Days when I’m still in my P.J.’s at 3:00 pm.

These types of days are not fun! But we all have them sometimes. (Hopefully not all the time! 🙂 )

I stay at home with my two boys, and most of the time I love this job. I can definitely understand why some moms choose to work (or simply just need to work) while raising children. My belief is that as long as a mother is happy, fulfilled in her life, and gives her kids consistent love, attention, and stability, kids will be okay- no matter if the mother works or stays home.

That being said, I’ve thought a lot about my job as a stay-at-home parent. There are things I feel like I do well, and there are things I need to improve on. All of us parents know that kids are unpredictable. But there are certain things we can do to help our days go more smoothly, no matter how our kids are feeling or acting on any given day.

Based on my experience, here’s a list of things YOU can do to thrive as a stay-at-home mom!

 

How to Thrive- Not Just Survive- as a Stay-at-Home Mom!

 

  1. Set aside time for yourself, every day. Mama R talked about this in her most recent post!
  2. Adjust your schedule to make sure you get enough sleep. Everything in life is hard when you’re sleep deprived! And obviously, with babies it’s hard to get enough sleep. But once your kids are on schedules, try to be on a sleep schedule yourself. Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. (This one is hard for me! I’m a night owl, so I hate going to bed early. 😉 But I feel much better and more able to wake up with my kids when I go to bed at a decent time.)
  3. Exercise. I’m a BIG believer of exercise not only being good for the body, but for the mind and the spirit as well. We give so much to our kids, including our bodies. We need to take time to take care for these special bodies that are able to do so much. You don’t have to be a marathoner to be healthy; even going for a daily walk is a wonderful way to get your heart pumping. I find that my mind is sharper and my mood is brighter on the days I take time to get my workout in. I know this can be a sacrifice, because our days are so busy. But exercising is definitely a worthwhile investment in yourself.
  4. Try to abide by some sort of schedule. One thing I love about being a stay-at-home mom is that I can be so flexible with my days! But I do feel more under control of things when my kids and I are on a schedule, even if it is a flexible one.
  5. Get ready for the day each day. I’ve gotten to the point where if I don’t shower, get dressed, and do my makeup and hair each day, I feel like a bum. Even if I don’t get ready until the afternoon, it still counts as getting ready for the day! 🙂 I just believe that a woman shouldn’t completely lose herself after she becomes a mom. Yes, we do give everything to our children, and we would do ANYTHING for them! But we need to remember that we are individuals, women. Not only does it benefit your heart and mind when you feel good about how you look, it helps your kids see that it’s important to prioritize one’s self-esteem.
  6. Go on dates!!! If you’re married, DATE YOUR HUSBAND! Get dressed up, feel hot, and do something fun- regularly! If you’re single, take time to go out and feel hot and have fun! Every mom was a girlfriend/wife before she was a mom. 🙂
  7. Keep in close touch with friends and family. The life of a stay-at-home mom can be lonely sometimes. Try to keep in close touch with people you love. I love talking on the phone to people- it keeps me sane!

Being a mother is the most rewarding job there is, but it’s also the hardest- and it’s okay to admit this! It’s just as important to love yourself as it is to love your children. After all, the person you have to confront at the end of each day is YOU. Your kids need a happy, confident, fulfilled mama. And you need a happy, confident, fulfilled life. You can have these things as a stay-at-home mom!
Do you have any tips for thriving as a stay-at-home mom???

 

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