Sunday, January 13, 2019

Potty Training Tips: Strategy from your First Kid to your Second Kid

Back as a first-time parent, I remember absolutely dreading potty training. It seemed overwhelming and I felt unprepared. However, through a bit of trial and error, my husband and I figured it out together. It may not have been in the timing I’d wanted, but in the end we got there, and it felt good.

Then, we had our second baby and assumed I sort of had this potty training business down. So I went about it the same way — only to realize just how different it can be the second time. Here are a few things I learned.

1. Each child has a unique potty training experience.

Each child has a unique potty training experience and my children were no different. With my first child, she wanted to do everything in her own timing — especially when it came to potty training. I was determined that she would be potty trained by the time she turned two, but to my dismay, she had absolutely ZERO interest in any of it. Then, six months later, of her own volition, she decided she was ready for “big girl undies” and that was that. Within three days, she was fully potty trained — and less than a month later, she adamantly refused to wear her Pull-Ups at night anymore. Never had an accident and never looked back.

My son’s potty training experience, however, was a slower process. It started sooner, but with more setbacks along the way and a backtrack or two. We had to go back to using Pull-Ups again for awhile after he first switched over to underwear and we used them at night for nearly a year. But that doesn’t mean his potty training journey was a failure — it was just a different journey. He needed time and lots of encouragement, so that’s exactly what we gave him.  He had more ups and downs and accidents along the way, but I can say that he finally figured it out in his own timing.

2. Each stage of parenting is different.

When you have just one child, it’s a bit easier to focus on potty training. I don’t want to concern anyone into thinking that it’s “harder” the next time around, because it’s not. Potty training your second child is just different, because your stage of parenting is different.

With the first child, you could be more regimented and focused, but with your second, your attention is divided. You are now trying to meet the needs of your older child while simultaneously keep your head in the potty training game with your younger one. It’s easier to miss those potty cues when you’re busy with another child, so there may be more accident clean up along the way. The upside is that you’ll probably be a bit less uptight and less stressed out this time.

3. Children have different motivation.

Finding out what motivates your child is a big part of the potty training process. My first was all about treats as a reward for using the potty (dried cranberries were her favorite), my second loved a good sticker chart. Both of them were heavily motivated by praise. Whatever works best for your child, do that thing. It may take a bit of trial and error, but it will be well worth it.

4. You have much better perspective the second time around.

In both parenting and potty training, perspective is everything – and the good news for those of you tackling potty training a second time around is that you will have a much better perspective. The first time around, I stressed myself out over potty training. I worried when I noticed my daughter was taking a bit longer to potty train than some of her peers and I felt like it was never going to happen. With my second, I had the perspective that came from seeing my daughter through potty training already and realizing that potty training will eventually happen — in the perfect timing for your child. It made it a whole lot easier to let go and enjoy the ride.

Friday, January 11, 2019

4 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day with the Whole Family

Let’s be honest. If you have a baby or young kids, the chances of sneaking away for a romantic Valentine’s Day date are pretty slim.

But that doesn’t mean you should skip the holiday altogether! There are many ways to celebrate love without leaving home. From a special meal, movie or moment, you can still enjoy the holiday with your family.

1. Make Something Together

A Valentine’s craft project can be a fun way to celebrate with your family. How cute is this ‘heart-felt’ craft?

2. A Special Breakfast

Why not start the day by celebrating love? Enjoy a home-cooked breakfast like heart-shaped pancakes or toast. Throw some strawberries and chocolate chips into your oatmeal for a special Valentine’s Day treat.

3. Movie Night

At the end of a long day, a movie is a great way to relax. If the entire family is watching, enjoy a kid-friendly love story like Lady & the Tramp or Aladdin. If it’s just you and your honey, find a movie that you saw together on your first few dates.

4. Remember Your Past

Look through some of your old photos and reminisce about the times you’ve had together. From dating and marriage to vacations and new babies, it’ll be fun to see how far you’ve come. The kiddos will enjoy it, too!

5. A Picnic Lunch

Maybe you don’t have romantic reservations for dinner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a special meal. Sneak away to your favorite park for a picnic lunch with the whole family. If it’s too cold, enjoy a picnic indoors.

Friday, January 4, 2019

3 ways to make Valentine’s Day more meaningful for your family

Very shortly, February 14th will turn on our calendars once again.  In many parts of the world, this means it's time to think about celebrating Valentine's Day.

Once I became a mother, I realized with a little creativity and thoughtfulness, this holiday can be made into a celebration that our family will find memorable.

Here are five ways to make Valentine's Day more meaningful for your family.

Celebrate as a family

In 2019 Valentine's Day seems to be about romantic love, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  However, as a parent, our children need to be involved and I want them to feel the long-lasting strength of love within the family.

1. Fill a jar of sweet words.

Repurpose a jar that once held a sweet jam into a jar that holds sweet words for the family. You could have a theme for your jar - for example, "50 Reasons Why I Love Being Your Mama" or "20 Things Daddy Does That Make Me Smile."  These little love notes can be handwritten or printed out from the computer.  Decorate the jar with tissue paper, magazine clippings, old calendar pages, and some decoupage.

Although this gift is presented on Valentine's Day, it offers little words of affirmation for as long as the recipient wants to hold on to it!

2. Craft a box of memories.

Re-purpose an old shoebox into a box of favorite family memories. Encourage family members to write these memories down and contribute other sorts of memorabilia as well.  Children from preschool age on up can contribute the memories that mean the most to them, and they never tire of hearing stories from when they were babies and toddlers.

Make plans together on Valentine's Day to go through the box and remember some of the best times you have shared as a family.

3. Create a coupon book.

Your kids will love this! Parents present coupon books to the kids and vice versa, or everyone in the family could draw names and create a custom coupon book for the family member they selected.

The coupons allow “guilty pleasure” ideas and activities that normally the family might not do.   Think candy, food, fun, etiquette.

Bonus. Express gratitude.

There are so many people in our communities who quietly do their jobs so that our lives are a little easier.  Valentine's Day is a great day to take homemade cookies to civil servants, librarians, police officers, fire men, members of the clergy, and others who don't often receive the recognition the deserve.

Let's show our children that Valentine's Day can be about expressing gratitude, not all about what they have received.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Mom Fun: Celebrities Expecting Babies In 2019

Hello 2019!  Another year is inching to a close, which means that
all the most recent pregnancy announcements are going to be for
babies due in the New Year. With our favorite celebrities especially,
 it’s particularly exciting to hear about all the recent baby news.

While many of the celebs expecting babies in 2019 are growing their 
already large families with the newest additions, there are a few other 
celebs who are having a baby for the very first time!


Surprise! Looks like these boots are made for carrying lots of baby weight as Jessica Simpson is pregnant with lucky #3.


Although fans were quite shocked to hear about Robin Thicke and Paula Patton’s split in 2015, it does appear to have all worked out for the best as he’s going to be a dad again.


You may know Josh Peck as the latter part of the famous Drake & Josh TV show that ran from 2004-2007 on Nickelodeon. Although the show has long ended, it’s still fun to know that the actors of yesteryear are now all grown up and starting families of their own.


Remember the Hanson brothers? Not only are they still performing but all three brothers are officially off the market and with kids of their own! In fact, the middle brother out of the trio, Taylor Hanson, recently announced that his already-large family is growing once more as they are expecting their sixth child!


Who could forget Disney Alum and former Sonny’s with a Chance’s 
star Tiffany Thornton? She may not have done much acting since her 
big Disney break but it’s still fun to know that she’s expecting 
baby number…. Three!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

How To: Moms Need to Practice Self-Care in 2019

As a mom of several young kids, if I'm being honest, some weeks I can't find time to shower for more than two days (thank God for hats!). I ate dinner last night while checking homework, doing laundry, and catching up with my mom. At least once a day, I'll have to pee for so long that I start doing the potty dance like my 6-year-old until I can barely make it the bathroom. With how my crazy jam-packed schedule is, you may think it would be impossible to make time for self-care. But after many years of mommying, I've learned that if I don't take care of myself, everyone suffers. So in 2019 I'm determined to do one thing for myself every day of the year, even if it's just for a few minutes.


Let's face it - my happiness and sanity depend on it.
"A little goes a long way," is my self-care mantra, but I didn't always go that way. When I was much younger, if I didn't fit a 4-mile run (today?  Ha!)  into my day, I got cranky and resentful toward my family. As we've added to our brood over the years, however, I have realized that there won't always be an extra hour to devote to my personal fitness goals. There may only be 10 minutes when the baby is napping, the kids are playing alone, and before I need to start dinner or run someone to Girl Scouts or swim practice. But that 10 minutes is better than nothing. Maybe I'll roll out my yoga mat and do ten sun salutations. Maybe I'll stretch and focus on breathing deeply. Moving my body is always the best medicine for parenting angst. I feel my stress melt away and my patience recharge.
Still, it took my husband to point out that I am a better mom when I take the time to feel good about myself. He reminds his "control-freak wife" there's no reason to feel guilty when I leave the kids with him on a Saturday morning so I can take a walk with a friend or try a new yoga class. He jokes that "everyone wins" when mom is in a good head space. And the truth is, if I don't get that break to pay attention to my needs, I'll find myself snapping at one of the kids when they ask where their clean socks are or starting to cry as I'm nursing my son, feeling trapped and smothered. 
To any parent out there who thinks they shouldn't take time away from the kids to do something for themselves, whether that's getting a manicure once a week or reading a book that isn't Goodnight Moon, I'd say you need to ask yourself who you're serving by neglecting you. Trust me; I've been there, when it feels impossible to find even a few seconds in the day without a child hanging off of you. I can't tell you how many times I've showered with all four of my kids complaining and crying outside the shower door. I feel like I want to scream, and sometimes, I do. Then, I'll mentally berate myself for letting the kids down if I want to exercise instead of play My Little Pony or hide-and-seek after. Those are the moments when self-care is the most important — when I need to put myself first. Then, when I feel refreshed, I can play with a smile on my face rather than holding back tears while wondering what happened to my life.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

New Years Goals for Your Family

We all probably realize that when you think “kid-friendly holiday”, New Year’s Eve probably isn’t the first holiday that comes to mind.  Even though the kids might not stay awake long enough to see the sparkling ball drop, doesn’t mean they can’t participate in the idea.  In fact, New Year’s Eve is a great time to come together and set some family goals for the upcoming year.


Most of us are so busy, we always appreciate some helpful ideas.  So here’s an easy list of our New Year’s Resolutions for Families.  Take a look and see that a lot of them are things that you’re probably resolving to do for yourself this year anyway – we just added a family twist!

Get Outside More

Make the choice to get outside more with your kids. This can be hiking, bike-riding camping or even simpler like exploring your back yard together.

Practice Gratitude as a Family

This is true; the more grateful your kids are, the happier they’ll be.  We should shout this from the rooftops.  In 2019,  try setting up a regular family gratitude practice.


Adventures as A Family

Yes, we already mentioned to leave the house.  But you can go further.  Weekends, evenings and vacations can be opportunities for adventure.  Get muddy, visit a new city or landmark, Make a bucket list of the fun you want to have as a family — then get those ideas on the calendar.


Read Together

With Harry Potter as an example, in 2019 make a concerted effort this year to read to, with, and around your children.  If your kids are no longer interested in "story time" before bed,  graduating from simple story books to chapters of classic adventure books, like Lord of the Rings, or the Red Wall series.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

5 Ideas for Your Budget-Friendly Holiday Party

Let’s be honest: Every family we know loves a good party — especially a good Holiday party. During the holiday season, between office parties and events, we can see just how much we love these parties by busting our budgets, all in the name of making our Christmas shindig the talk of the community or the office.


But if your budget is tight, hosting a Holiday party can be a real challenge. You want to be just as festive as the next guy, but you don’t want to completely derail your budget — which might feel pretty darn tough to do. The good news is, you don’t have to overspend to entertain! Here are a handful of budget-friendly ways to help you host a Holiday party on a budget.

Hosting a Christmas Party That Doesn’t Break Your Budget

1. Make a Holiday party budget and stick with it.

Really think through how much money you’ll need to host a party this year.  Set aside a realistic amount in your budget and mark it “Holiday Party” so you know exactly how much you can spend.

The best way to stick with your budget when you’re hosting a Holiday party is to track your spending as you go. It’ll help you know exactly how much you’ve already dropped on the party and how much you have left to spend.

2. Set your Spending priorities.

Before you start spending, make a list of everything you want to buy. Start with what’s most important when it comes to hosting a Holiday party: paper goods, main dishes, appetizers, desserts, drinks, decorations and tablecloths. That way, if your money runs out along the way, you can cut things from the bottom that don’t matter as much and focus on the Holiday party ideas that you really want to do.


3. Opt for a hot cocoa bar over booze.

Look, we’re not trying to be a Scrooge about your Holiday “spirits” here, but the reality is, booze is expensive — especially when you’re buying it for a large group. If you still want to be festive while saving major bucks, then forgo the spiked eggnog and mixed drinks and offer a hot cocoa bar.

It’s pretty simple too. Just make a large portion of hot cocoa, provide Christmas-themed cups, and offer all the delicious toppings for guests to pile on. Of course, marshmallows are the obvious favorite, but don’t forget things like candy canes, whipped cream, sprinkles and whatever else gives your heart that cherry-on-top feeling.

4. Keep the Whole Party Manageable.

You don’t have to throw an over-the-top, black-tie event for 100 people. Invite 10 friends to your house for a casual potluck dinner instead! You’ll save a lot of money and reduce the stress level of your Holiday party planning. And with a smaller group, you’ll actually be able to hang out with your guests rather than act like a catering service.


5. Beg, borrow, or (buy for a) steal.

You don’t need to spend a fortune on tablecloths and serving trays to make your holiday spread look great. Get what you need from a friend, thrift store or dollar store. All those cake stands and punch bowls can add up fast if you buy them new!