We Moved!

For all of you loyal followers, we’ve moved for (hopefully) the last time. We now have our own domain: mancubmamas.com! All of our posts have been republished there and we look forward to bringing you all more great content.


Simple Chore Chart {Free Printable}

My Chore Chart

It seemed like every morning was a battle with our son. It would easily take over an hour to convince him to get ready for the day. Even getting him to eat breakfast was difficult. He just wanted to wake up and play. After a particularly difficult morning, I realized something had to change. Enter our chore chart.

I know this may have seemed like an obvious solution for some parents, but sticker charts can be hit and miss with some kids. Especially since our son is only two, I wanted to make sure that the chore chart I made wasn’t too overwhelming. I tried to find some templates online, but honestly most of them included things that I didn’t need my toddler to do yet.

So I decided to make my own. It would only include the very basic things he needed to do in the morning. This is what we narrowed it down to: a fresh diaper, eating breakfast, and changing into clothes for the day. That’s it. These were things that we argued about on a daily basis. Three things that could be completed in less than 15 minutes if our son was focused. Once he finished his chores, he could play as much as he wanted.

I started out with a hand drawn chart to make sure this idea would work, and it did! Then I upgraded and made my own printable which you can view here: My Chore Chart. It’s in Word so you can either print it or adjust it to your child’s needs!

Our mornings are so much smoother now. We still argue over getting his chores done, but because he can see the visual and physically “check off” items, it makes things so easier.

Do you use a chore chart? What chores do you expect your toddlers to complete?

Why I Needed a Mom Vacation


Why I Needed a Mom Vacation

At the beginning of the month, I left D in the capable hands of my husband and traveled across the country to be with my family for four days. This trip was meant to off-set the fact that my husband would be going to Boston for four days in May, leaving me home with D. This was also meant as a break for me. Because as much as I love D, I needed a break.

Ever since we moved across the country, staying home with D has been harder and harder. This could be because my husband got a new job that meant he would be gone more than with his old job. It also could have been the fact that I didn’t really know anyone initially. As the months have past, we’ve adjusted to his job and I’ve made friends. But I was still struggling- more than I had ever before. The hour or so that D slept every day just wasn’t cutting it. I considered getting up early for some “me” time, but that meant going to bed earlier and missing out on time with my husband. So we decided that I should go on a “Momcation.” We knew that this wouldn’t necessarily fix the problems I was having, but it would at least give the me break I had been craving for so long.

And what a wonderful break it was! To be honest, I didn’t miss D too much because 1) I was busy reconnecting with friends and family, 2) I knew I would only be gone for a few days, and I would see him in person soon, and 3) I could FaceTime him whenever I wanted.

Almost everyone I saw while on vacation (or who knew ahead of time that I was going) assumed that I was bringing D with me. It was almost as if they assumed we were inseparable. The two different responses I got when I explained that I had left him behind were, “Why would you do that?” and “That must be nice!” I’m glad to say that most people belonged to the latter party, where they understood that I needed a break and that it was easier to go on a trip on my own rather than bring a toddler along.

I know in the past I had the same question when I heard that one of my friends was leaving her kids and husband behind to go on a trip. I think the underlying assumption is that somehow that mom doesn’t really love her kids, or at least that she doesn’t love being around them. I’m glad to say my feelings have since changed, and I realized how judgmental those thoughts were. Now I believe that a mom who takes care of herself – whether that’s daily “me” time or an occasional “momcation” or whatever else helps her recharge – ultimately is better able to care of her children.


Say "Yes More Than You Say "No"

Photo from Pixabay.com

I like to think that I’m OK at this parenting thing. And then I get a good ol’ slice of humble pie and am reminded that: 1) I really don’t have control over very much; and 2) My kids have their own personalities and I can’t MAKE them do anything. (Dang it! 😉 )

To illustrate my point, I’ll tell you about a funny encounter I had with my 3 year old man-cub recently:

C: “Mommy, I need something else to eat.”
ME: “Ok, do you want an apple? Or some bread?”
C: “No. These are my two choices: Candy, or Fruit by the Foot.”

Oh really now? I didn’t realize you were the one giving the choices around here now, Mr. C! 🙂 I’m still cracking up about this!

Lately I’ve been worrying that I might tell my toddler “No” too often. Believe me, I don’t want to be a permissive parent (see The 4 Parenting Styles). But I’ve been thinking: I don’t want to stifle my son’s energy and imagination. This boy of mine talks non-stop most of the day, sometimes driving me to hide out in my room so I can have a moment’s peace. But I LOVE that he is so articulate and I love that he WANTS to be with me!

Our children are constantly seeking out our approval, our validation. It can be difficult sometimes to remember that they see the world very differently than we adults do; a child’s world is full of wonder and questions, and everything is SO FUN!

I believe parents should structure an environment that is safe enough and appropriate enough for their children so they- parents- only have to say “NO” when necessary. “Necessary” can be when a child is doing something dangerous, for example.

Because I have a 3 year old, I’ve come up with a list of ways parents can create that child-friendly environment that is specific to toddlers, which will allow them to say “YES” more often than they say “NO”:

How to Create a Child-Friendly Home Environment
  1. Do the obvious child-proofing (remove unsafe objects such as low-hanging blind strings)
  2. Create designated safe spaces for your child to BE a child (where they can run around, jump, get things a little messy)
  3. Allow yourself to be OK with messes (Don’t expect to have a perfectly clean home, especially during the day while your child is awake!)
  4. Always speak kindly to your child
  5. When you do have to say “No” to your child, redirect them and help them understand why they shouldn’t do what they’re doing
  6. Let your child talk your ear off- one day you may have to beg them to talk to you! (This one is specifically for me! 🙂 )
  7. Make the rules clear and be consistent (For example, in our house, it is never OK to hit others. Whenever my 3 year old does this, he automatically gets a 3 minute time out or gets a toy taken away for a few hours.)

I love this quote! It helps me keep my mommy perspective positive and loving, even when my patience is wearing thin:

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice” (Peggy O’Mara).


5 Things We Do to Get Out of the House

Being home all day drives me crazy, so I try to get out of the house as much as possible. Here are my top five go-to get out of the house lifelines as a SAHM.

  1. Playdates. And I’m not talking about a playdate where you end up watching two kids instead of one. I need adult interaction!! I’m talking about playdates that we saw are for the kids, but they are actually for the moms to swap stories and give advice. I try to have at least two playdates a week. I love having standing playdates (the same day weekly or monthly) so I don’t have to think about it. But sometimes schedules are crazy and it’s easier to text a friend in the morning and see if they are available. 
  2. Story Time. I have been known to drive to libraries that were farther away just to go to story time because my local library didn’t have a time that worked for us. Luckily, the nearest library to us currently has story time twice a week. Story time is crucial for me because I: 1) meet new moms and 2) get new book recommendations. I love that the librarians at our library rotate who does story time, so we get a variety of book recommendations. Each librarian has different tastes and preferences, and often they pull out books I haven’t heard of but come to love as they read them out loud. 
  3. The Zoo. This is the most expensive of my options. We bought a year long zoo membership and it has been worth every penny. We average going once a week, which means it costs us $2.50 each time. Our pass allows us to go on several rides at the zoo for free, which would normally cost us $2 per person per ride. The good thing about having a zoo membership is that you don’t have to feel like you have to see everything in one shot. Often we go and deeply explore a few exhibits. 
  4. Parks. If you have toddlers, the best time to go to the park is during school hours, because then they can have the park to themselves without worrying about waiting their turn for the slide. Pro tip: if you go to the park after it’s rained, bring a towel to wipe down the slippery slides and swings. 
  5. Walks. We live in an apartment complex that covers a full block. Every day we go on a walk within our complex. I also know of several parks in our area that have walking trails. This is a great way to help introduce kids to nature (my son saw a lizard in the wild for the first time last week!) and to enjoy the fresh air. 


What You Need to Know Before Having Your 2nd Baby

Photo from Pixabay.com

Let me be totally honest: I had no idea how difficult the transition from 1 to 2 kids would be for me! I know that it isn’t this way for every parent, but for me going from 1 to 2 kids was much harder than going from 0 to 1. Several factors can play into the ease or difficulty of adding a second child to your family:

Age of your oldest child when the second baby is born
Age of your oldest when you become pregnant (I hadn’t even considered this factor until I realized that it was hard being pregnant and tired while taking care of a very active 1 ½ year old!)
Stage of life you’re in (Are you and/or your spouse still finishing college? Are you settled into a career?)
The transition you experienced going from 0 to 1 child (This is the experience you have to go off. My first pregnancy and my oldest baby were pretty easy, so I had high expectations going into my second time.)
Personality of your oldest child  (Every child has their own adjustment process when they become a sibling. My oldest acted out more towards me than towards his baby brother.)
Temperament and needs of your new baby (My second baby was a physically demanding little guy. His personality is typically more mellow than my high-energy oldest, which makes him so fun and snuggly, but he has had more sensitivity and physical discomforts we’ve had to figure out. He wasn’t the type of baby I could just set down while getting things done; he preferred to be held. He also hated the car at first… All these things surprised me, because lots of people had told me that the second baby “will sleep through anything!” Ultimately, it comes down to each individual baby and their temperament and needs.)

I wish someone would have given me a list of realistic, practical (and yet still upbeat) advice before my second baby was born. I thought I totally knew what I was doing because I had already had a baby; but the reality for me was that my second time around was quite different from my first. Even though some of that had to do with the babies themselves being different human beings, a lot of the difference rested on the fact that there were 2 to take care of instead of just 1.

So, if you are pregnant with your second baby or are planning on having a second in the future, here are things you should be prepared for:

Advice for Second Time Parents

  1. Expect to stay at home a lot: It will take time adjusting to feeding a newborn as well as taking care of your other child. Give yourself time and don’t worry if you don’t get out much for the first few months- that’s to be expected!)
  2. Choose your battles: You have to give yourself and your kiddo some leeway while everyone gets adjusted to all the changes. What saved me was screen time for my 2 year-old: I told myself that I would not feel guilty about letting him have lots of screen time those first few months after having my new baby! This saved me because I was often able to sleep while the baby slept during the day- because my toddler was occupied with his favorite movies and shows. If you’re super against screen time, good luck finding ways to occupy your oldest… 🙂 I know there must be ways, but you won’t hear them from me because like I said- screen time saved me!
  3. Take care of yourself: I know this is said a lot, but take this advice seriously. I didn’t have any postpartum depression after I had my first baby; but I got it after my second baby was born. Know the signs and don’t be afraid to get help if you need it. And even if you don’t have PPD, take good care of yourself! Keep doing things that you love to do!
  4. Let people help you: Don’t hesitate to ask for help from family and friends. It was so refreshing for me when a friend would babysit my oldest for a little while so I could get one-on-one time with my baby. It reminded me how easy each of my boys are when it’s just one of them! 😉
  5. Do dates with your oldest child: Adding a second baby to the family brings big changes for your first little one. Taking one-on-one, uninterrupted time to remind your oldest that they are still your special child will rejuvenate you both.

I LOVE having two kids!!! I was unsure about how I would establish a special, intimate relationship with each of my children since my time would be divided between them. But I figured it out, and so will you. And even though your oldest child may act like they don’t like the new baby at first (or they may love him or her from Day 1- who knows!), you will eventually see a fun and precious relationship form between them, and it will melt your heart!


Book Review: This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

As a parent, I look at the things that my toddler has broken and think to myself “This is why we can’t
have nice things.” And then I found out there was a book written about it! This book is a series of essays about parenting and marriage. You can start in any chapter without having to worry about having read the one before it. Which is good, considering the fact that one of the chapters is titled, “the day we caught our kids looking at their buttholes,” and curiosity had me reading that chapter first. Then my eye caught, “just because I get up in the night, doesn’t mean I deserve praise,” and I had to read that chapter next.

This book is an straightforward take of a father’s preconceived notions of parenting, marital roles, and raising children, and how these notions were often smashed to pieces and he was left to work through things in a new way. I love the honesty of this book, and how it brings up things I have thought about before as a parent (ex: “an open letter to my newborn” or “the baby hates me.”) I love the humor in this book an appreciated the fresh perspective it offered. 
We bought the kindle version of the book, which is only a few dollars. It was well worth the price, and now I’m trying to get Papa M to read it, one essay at a time. Language warning: there will be swearing. If you’ve read the book, what was your favorite essay?


Happy Reading,