Why We Decided NO More TOYS!

It is customary for most families to do a little bit of clearing out the old stuff to make room for all the new toys, clothing and other holiday gifts headed our way. I try to do this more than once a year but the holiday season is always a great time and reminder to get this done.

Our kids have so much these days! To be honest, this topic has weighed heavy on my heart lately. Kids (with means) have SO MUCH! Parents of my generation are so concerned with giving gifts to their kids that they no longer “earn” that new Game Boy or LOL Surprise Doll. We just buy it for them when we find a great deal or we are browsing through Target and they ask for it over and over.

Okay, not all parents of my generation are like this but more and more I am seeing this happen and I, myself, am guilty of this of parenting behavior. I love my daughters and want them to have it all and want for nothing.

I think my answer to this question has changed over time, and now I want my kids to have it all BUT to appreciate what they have and work for what they want. It was after my daughters 4thbirthday that I made the choice of no more toys for the foreseeable future (yup, no more toys). She was playing with friends and the playroom was a mess! New toys and old were all over the floor, and some of the new ones in pieces just one day into having them. When I asked her to clean up we encountered an “issue.” She told me that I could just toss her brand-new Chelsea Barbie house! We had just gotten this for her the day before as a birthday present and she couldn’t care less. It wasn’t her fault she had never really wanted anything. It was in that moment I made myself a promise to change her attitude toward things like toys and other privileges that being an middle to upper-income class family allows her to enjoy.

Learning new behaviors must start somewhere, so we decided to start with toys and other “things” she thinks she “needs” and wants so badly. Going cold turkey is never easy but here are some tips on how to manage the toy clutter and start to shift their appreciation for all the wonderful “things” they have in this life.

  1. Provide your kids with more experiences: Try gifting your children more than just toys! Santa will be bringing a family trip this year and a few small toys for in-flight entertainment. We even convinced our oldest daughter to ask Santa for this and now she has no toys on her Christmas list this year! Read more here: Gift Ideas For Your Kids that are NOT Toys.
  2. Clean out the playroom: Make sure while you are doing the holiday purge you are discussing with them why we should appreciate and respect everything we have.
  3. Donate their toys and clothes: Once we no longer appreciate things we should find someone to give them to who will love and appreciate them. This is a great lesson for kids and an easy way to teach them selflessness and giving back.
  4. Toss Don’t Donate: If there are things broken, toss them and talk to your children about treating toys and belongings with respect. Don’t donate them because if your kids don’t want to play with them why would another kid? Only donate gently used or easily repaired toys and clothes, or better yet take your children shopping to buy new toys for other children in need. Let them take a name off the many “giving” trees around this time of year and help them pick out something for a child they don’t know.
  5. Clean out with them: Discuss why we are doing this and how there are others in need. Most importantly be present in the process. Make it fun and remind them how special they are for being responsible and helping others with their kindness and generosity. Preschool-aged children have a hard time with these concepts but with affirmation and repetition this will catch on quicker than you might expect. Making sure we are always talking about respecting what we have is super important.
  6. Set Boundaries and start saving: No more toys … okay, not everyone has to go this extreme, but make sure they know that things cost money and that you can’t just have anything and everything when you ask for it. If there is a toy that is a big-ticket item talk to them about saving up money for it. My daughter wanted a Cinderella car that was $398! Yikes! We talked about saving up her money so she could buy it herself and she soon stopped talking about it and moved on. This happened all on her own, she could have saved up for it. She easily will have $400 after her birthday and Christmas.
  7. Make them earn rewards: This can be done a few ways. One way is with chores and allowance. Another great way could be through a reward system for their efforts on school work.

Overall, being a parent is not easy and there is no wrong or right way to do things. ALL children learn by example so don’t forget to exercise gratefulness in your own life.

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Gift Ideas For Your Kids that are NOT Toys.

As Mom, I try to instill a sense of appreciation and great fullness into my daughters. When they are preschool aged that can be hard. They don’t grasp the concept of their fortune and at times struggle to show appreciation for what they have.  My husband and I have given this lots of thought over the past few months and decided no more “toys” in-between birthdays and holidays and when we do gift them toys we are going to put more thought behind what we select and start providing them with more experiences, but more on that later.

In my efforts to find more practical gifts for my girls this 2018 Christmas season, I have compiled a list of some fun gift ideas that I want to share with you all!

The Nugget: This is the perfect addition to a playroom, bedroom or family room! If you have young children who love to climb, build forts and can be a tad rough on your typical couch The Nugget should be on the top of Santa’s list!

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$229

https://nuggetcomfort.com/products/the-nugget

Family Vacation: This one can be hard to decide on last min but maybe this will encourage you to consider this next year. Give your entire family the gift of travel! This can be a small weekend trip to Disney or a big family trip to Hawaii. You can get creative with how you deliver the gift depending on where you are going. I plan on getting my daughter a pink suitcase and making “plane tickets” for the family so she has something to open on Christmas morning. We will also get some travel toys for the journey as her stocking stuffers.

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We even convinced our 4 year old to ask Santa for our trip this year, so she better be good!

Monthly Subscription Box: There are lots of fun options for subscriptions such as the Bluum Box, Kiwico Box, Little Passports and may more. Find on that fits your kids age and personality. Make sure to order it before the holiday so they can unwrap their first box that day. Kids love getting mail and depending on how long of a subscription you get they will have something fun to open every month! Disclaimer, there might be toys in the box but we still think this is a fun alternative to Barbie or Nurf Guns.

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Music or Language Lessons: My 4 year old is always asking for piano, guitar and violin lessons, don’t ask me why she picked those…I would love for her to start learning so what better idea then to gift her the lessons for Christmas. She also has curiosity for language so what better way to expand on that then getting her Spanish lessons. If having one on one classes seems to costly consider buying a program to learn music or language or betty get both!

Memberships: Depending on where you live this can be a great alternative to toys. Being in Atlanta we have tons of options and when we lived in Florida we got annual passes to theme parks. However, if Disney or Sea World are not nearby you can get a membership to your Local Zoo, Museum or Aquarium.

Movie Tickets: This is a great idea of kids 4 and up, they will love using “their tickets” to go see a movie or two of their choice. It also give you something for them to look forward to doing on a rainy day or random school teacher work day in the near future.

Bird Feeder of Garden: This one seems silly but how much do you want to bet if your kid unwraps a cool bird feeder they won’t be super excited to run out back and set it up. Just make sure you have a spot for it in the yard that they can observe it year-round from the window. You can also get an indoor garden for them to learn about growing plants. Warning if you are like me and kill everything stick with the bird feeder so there is less disappointment.

A fish: Okay, yes this will be some work like the garden but you can get a simple Goldfish or Beta fish that they can keep in their room. Make sure they are responsible enough for a pet before buying this one. We obviously do not want any fish harmed…

As you can see there are all kinds of great gift ideas out there that are not Toys. This list can go on and on, but these are some of our favorite non-toy gift ideas. It is important that we teach our children the value of toys and all the wonderful things they are gifted and blessed to have. It is also important they experience life away from technology every now and then so mixing up the Christmas list a bit this year might just help them do that a little more.

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Surviving Daylight Savings with kids!

Daylight savings time is officially here! Most parents don’t mind it so much, in the fall when they gain an extra hour, but it sends fear through people’s bones when they hear they are going to have to lose an hour of sleep! Every year I get a TON of questions asking for the best way to handle daylight savings time and children’s sleep. So here it is:

If I had my way, there would not be a daylight savings time. I think it really does affect not only children’s sleep patterns but adults, too. In fact, statistically, there is an 8% increase in traffic accidents the Monday after daylight savings time kicks in. It really does have an effect on all of us, and it can increase our sleep debt – especially in children, who tend to be much more structured with going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. That is usually why people notice it the most in young children.

So what is the best way to handle the time change?

Split the Difference:

For “Fall Back,” I recommend all parents leave their clocks alone, this makes it less psychologically upsetting for your children. Just get up at your usual time and start the day. After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me!

Nap Time change:

If, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30am, adjust it to 9:00am for the three days after the time change. This might be a bit of a push for your child, but it won’t cause much damage to their over all schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap.

Bedtime:

Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7 p.m. I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30 p.m. for the first three days following the time change. (This will FEEL like 7:30 to your child.) And it will take about a week for their body to adjust. It takes everybody’s body roughly one week to adjust any kind of change in sleeping habits.

For Children Over Two:

If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minutes, so that they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but not the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. Just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 it says 7:00 and let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that, by the end of the week, they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wake-up time.

For Babies:

Do not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6 a.m. is okay now. So if the baby normally wakes up at 7:00 am, but is now up at 6:00 am, you will wait till ten after the first day, and then twenty after the next, then 6:30 the next day and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.

On the fourth night, just get in line with the new time so your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00 pm. Adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well.

Contributing Writer and sleep expert:

Kayla Grundorf, Owner of Keep Asleep with Kayla LLC

Image-1Kayla is a wife and mother to a rambunctious two-year-old son. She is the Owner of Keep Asleep with Kayla LLC and a US Army Veteran. Kayla is a pediatric sleep consultant certified through the “The Sleep Sense Program” by Dana Obleman. Kayla helps families with little ones aged Newborn up to 11 years old to learn independent sleep skills. She is Atlanta based but has helped families all over the world. “I love helping families get the sleep they all need and deserve!”

For more questions about children and babies adjusting to daylight savings time, Kayla can be reached at keepasleepwithkayla@gmail.com

www.keepasleepwithkayla.com

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Teaching our kids how to love themselves

Teaching our kids how to love themselves and disregard the judgments of their peers is a HUGE challenge. My oldest daughter is only four years old and I already see it happening. It is crazy to think that this behavior almost seems inherent. So how do we teach our kids that these judgments and the opinions of others should not hold merit on their own self-worth?

As a girl mom, I think I worry about this mostly because of my own experience. Girls and women can be harsh, judgmental and outright mean to each other. How do we teach our kids to ignore judgment when we ourselves are still figuring it all out?

I try hard to be myself and not let others’ opinions of me affect how I view myself. My hope is that my self-confidence will rub off on my girls, so they can learn to be proud of who they are and not ashamed of how others see them.

Raising tiny humans can be hard, but I know if I strive to be the best version of myself my children will follow suit.

BeProud

5 Things NOT to Do When Potty Training

Five Things NOT to Do When Potty Training Your Child

My youngest daughter turns 11 months in just two days and the toddler down the road, who is in the midst of his potty training journey, has me shaking in my boots with the thought of doing this again!

Potty training is not for the faint of heart. This is coming from a mom whose daughter decided on her own she was ready and it was easy breezy from there. However, as a new mom I thought there were so many things I needed to be doing. I read all the methods and as a working mom/executive outside the home, there were only a few windows for me to get this right. I put so much pressure on myself to “get it done” that I didn’t focus on whether SHE was ready. I based her readiness on the mom chat at pick up and drop off and social media telling me other kids her age were already diaper free and I longed to be like them.

In the end, it all worked out. Yeah, it got a tad messy at times but we came out of it alive! I have no idea how it will be with our baby, but am going to recap some methods and important lessions I learned the first time around.

  1. Don’t start to soon: Make sure THEY are ready. Like I mentioned, I tried to potty train Caroline before she indicated she was interested in it. This resulted in a few naked days outside with constant pee running down her leg, and a stressed-out mom feeling lost and unsupported.
  2. Don’t go in without doing your research: Make sure YOU are ready. Yes, I said you. It is just as important that you pay attention to the signs of readiness in your child and do your research. If you haven’t picked an approach you are bound to fail. Sorry, that’s just the facts. Potty training is an art (for those not as lucky to have a self-training child) and if you don’t pick a method, your inconsistency will influence the success of your efforts, and that’s the worst feeling ever as a parent.
  3. Don’t forget to reward them for their success: Set up a reward system! So this can be whatever you think will work for your child. Some like candy or little toys. We did two things. I got M&M candy and gave her one every time she went pee or poop on the potty. She loved this, but started to just sit on the toilet just to get candy — smart kid! We also created a sticker chart. This was a suggestion from a good friend and it worked wonderfully. I got a poster board and wrote Caroline’s Potty Stickers on the top and found all kinds of fun Disney princess and other stickers I knew she would love. When she went pee she got to pick from one stack and when she went poop she got to pick from the super fancy stack of stickers. She LOVED her chart and would admire it several times a day. It was simple and relatively inexpensive — and healthier.
  4. Don’t stress: If it doesn’t work out the first try, do not stress! I scheduled two separate times where I was going to have her give it a go (pardon the pun). Both times failed miserably and I put so much pressure on myself to make it happen. When it didn’t happen, I felt like a failure of a mom. The reality of it is “Momin'” is hard, potty training is hard, and just because it does not work out when and how you want or expect it to does not mean you have done something wrong. A few months after my last failed attempt, Caroline came to me asking to go potty like a big girl and the rest was history. Of course, we had a few accidents and still wore pull-ups at night and during naptime, but it happened. The point is if your child is not ready to potty train, it won’t work. Many children naturally become interested when they see their friends doing it.
  5. Don’t be caught empty handed or unprepared: Make sure you have the gear so you are ready to go. Go out and buy a fun potty for the living room and car, let them pick out panties with their favorite characters and have toilet liners for when you are on the go. Caroline feared “big” toilets when we were out and about, so having a seat cover helped her overcome that fear. We also had a singing potty at home that we kept in the living room and a seat cover for her bathroom. Having these things all ready to go made it easy to just start when she was ready. Another thing I found useful was a car seat liner. It helped with keeping the seat dry when she had accidents and helped keep me stress free while driving knowing I had something between her (possibly) wet bum and the seat!

Moral of the story: Good luck out there and get ’em to “go” when the time is right!

 

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5 Baby Must Haves – The Second Time Around

Okay, so let me start off this post by saying no two babies are alike, so I am going to focus on baby must haves but also the things I purchased or saved from the first child that as a parent were helpful to have on hand.

#1 More than one kind of baby carrier

Personally, I used a Baby Ka’Tan with Caroline and saved it for baby number two. With CC, it was helpful the first three months but she was a big baby and quickly grew too big. Ella is the exact opposite. At almost eight months old, she still fits and is not going to outgrow the Ka’Tan any time soon. Cloth wraps are perfect for newborns and fussy nappers. The Baby Ka’Tan is nice and snug, but also very easy to use!

Before Caroline was born, we bought an off brand Ergo/Baby Bjorn type carrier that worked but was not as sturdy or supportive as I would have liked, so when I found out I was pregnant with Ella, I wanted to invest in an Ergo Baby carrier. I got the Original Ergo Baby with infant insert. In hindsight, I wish I had gotten the 360. The reason I say that is because the Original does not allow the baby to be front facing. Caroline loved front facing and I am sure Ella would to but after spending $85-ish on the one I have (I got it on Zulily, a discount site), I just can’t justify getting another one. Learn from me and make the splurge for the more expensive 360-version if you can!

# 2 Guava Family- Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib

The next MUST have for our family is the Guava Family travel pack and play. (I have posted about this before in a travel-related post.) What I love about this crib is not only the travel ability of the Lotus, but the quality and size of the crib. It sits on the ground so Caroline slept in it up until recently (three years old) and it is compact so it fits most hotel room corners. It also folds up into a light backpack! If you travel or just visit family a lot this is a must have.

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#3 Baby Food Maker and Silicone Freezer Cube Tray

A baby food maker with steamer and blender is super convenient when making your own baby food. The first time around we did this all wrong. We would make the baby food and then store it in recycled baby food jars. It was a messy and made for lots of washing and wasted storage space in our fridge. Silicone cube freezer trays are wonderful. We make the food (way easier than I thought it would be), freeze it in the tray and pop them out into Tupperware, and then save them in the freezer. To use, I just pop one or two cubes in a microwave safe dish, and POOF – it’s ready to go.

#4 Wubbanub Pacifier

This genius pacifier with a little stuffed animal attached has been a lifesaver for me with both girls. With Caroline, I was determined NOT to give her a pacifier … HA! Then reality set in and before I left the hospital she was sucking away. Anyway, the Wubbanub is the perfect little friend and baby muter – I mean soother. Ella loves hers and it helps babies learn how to use their hands. They can even put this pacifier in their own mouths much sooner than with a plain old pacifier.

#5 Disposable Nursing Pads

This was something I did not think of the first time around because I had NO clue what would be happening to my boobs in the coming months. With baby #2, I was ready to go with my favorite disposable nursing pads by Johnson and Johnson. I tried all kinds of brands with my first baby, but ultimately these were the only ones that did not irritate my skin or feel funky in my bra. The only downside is the fake nipples imprinted on them. Not sure why they would do that.

A Bouns #6 would be magnetic jimmies! They are typically more expensive, but worth every penny. Nighttime diaper changes will be a breeze, so make sure to add a few pairs to your registry.

XO,

Laurie

Comment with your baby must haves!

Summer Time Prep

Who would have thought that summer time required so much prep for a pre-schooler? Here in the North Atlanta area, even the pre-schools take a summer break!

Who would have figured… summer break when your not even school-aged yet.

One Perk of this “break” is all the fun things going on this summer in Woodstock and around Atlanta. There are tons of events and even summer day camps for kids under five. I am excited to sign Caroline up for a few princess dance camps and a ninja warrior themed gymnastics camps in-between our summer travels.

We will also try to venture into the city in order to visit the museums and other fun places we have yet to explore in our new city (Atlanta.)

What are your favorite summertime activities?

PS if you’re in Woodstock, GA and you have a little girl age 3-6 check out Dance Imagination’s Story Book Summer Camps. 

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XO,

Laurie