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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.

Maybe it’s the colder weather. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m on maternity leave and feeling a bit isolated. Maybe I’ve finally finished my slow transition into an introvert. But, I find myself really, really enjoying celebrating the holiday season close to home.

Just in case you’re feeling similarly, or just want to slow down your pace with some more low-key, easy ways to have some Christmas fun this month, I’m sharing some ways to do just that. Pajamas optional!

Make some cookies! When we ask our 5-year-old what his favorite part of the holiday season is, he immediately answers “making gingerbread cookies with Mommy!” (followed by “and spending time with all my family members.”) And y’know what? When I look back to my childhood, baking and decorating cut-out cookies with my mom is the first thing that pops into my head.

It’s such a simple task (well, in theory) that creates memories. And the cool thing is that no matter how you do it, your kids will love the experience. So, whether you use your grandmother’s intricate recipe or you buy some pre-made dough (or mix some up on your own in advance, then have your little one cut out and decorate them), it’ll still be special. Oh, and yummy!

Let the kids stay up and watch a “special.” My husband and I have bought or downloaded TONS of holiday “specials” (ones we remember from childhood, generally). So, while we’ve watched the Grinch a dozen times already, there’s something so special about seeing it “live” on TV.

Two words: homemade cocoa. If your kids only like the powdered stuff, go ahead and make that, but there’s something extra special about making your own – and it’s not much more difficult! I don’t measure, so it’s some glugs of whole milk (I think almond or coconut milk would work if there’s an intolerance in your family) into a pot and simmer on medium-low until steaming. Then, I whisk in several teaspoons of cocoa powder, sugar (or maple syrup for a more natural sweetener), and a touch of vanilla. You can experiment with different types of chocolate (I’m pretty sure melted chocolate chips or a high-quality chocolate bar would be incredible), adding spices like cinnamon or cayenne powder, or even some high-quality, consumable peppermint essential oil.

Toss some marshmallows or homemade whipped cream on top and you’re good!

Make a super-simple craft. Our son is finally WAY more into crafting now that he’s in school, so he kind of does this independently. Whether it’s basic construction paper chains, decorating a cut-out tree with stickers and baubles, or something more complicated, it’s more about spending the time together.

Oh, and be sure to join in on the fun yourself. It’s fun to step away from the chores and get your hands dirty in a fun way, and the kids tend to love seeing what their parents come up with (beautiful or…not).


Read holiday books. Whether you have to hit up the library or have your own plentiful supply of Christmas stories, make it a nightly event! Many of the stories
Write Santa a letter or draw him a picture. We already wrote our letter to Santa (because goodness knows the closer we get to the “big day”, more items will be added to the wishlist…and Santa’s not a fan of last-minute additions), but a letter for any of those questions your little ones may have or a nice little “thank you” note to leave with his milk and cookies is a fun way to focus all of that excited energy at this time of year.

Check out the lights! This one entails leaving the house but a) you can do it in your PJs with very little fuss and b) there’s nothing like the first year your child is old enough to actually notice a big display and you hear a huge “WOW!!!” from the backseat.

Even with a newborn in tow, we’ll be packing up the car to do this soon!
Make any activity a holiday activity. Whether we’re sitting at the dinner table or watching one of the kids’ favorite shows on PBS, there are ways to put a bit of extra cheer into the activity. We have the tree a-glowin’ pretty much every hour of the day, light our gas fireplace when we start to feel a chill, and light a Christmas candle (or diffuse some festive essential oils) every chance we get.

Add cocoa (homemade or not) and some Christmas PJs to any game, movie, or playtime, and you’re golden. Oh, and I can’t emphasize enough: Pandora, Spotify or the good, old-fashioned radio can set the mood better than anything and will put everyone in the house in the Christmas spirit.

 

And that’s it! What close-to-home holiday fun does your family enjoy? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

As we mull our options for diapering our third newborn – either part-time cloth diapering as we’ve done with our second child, or attempting to give it a 100% go (the decision involves getting a wonderful-but-overworked grandmother on board) – my mind goes to the following question: “When IS the ‘right time’ to start cloth diapering?”

As with all things parenting, there are a million opinions about everything under the sun. And, so, the longer that one parents, the more we usually learn that there really is only one (or two) opinions that matter – the child’s parents.

Sure, we can get advice from our own parents and family members. We can seek out the opinions of doctors. We can chat with our friends with kids. But, in the end, the ones who make the decisions to either do something or not, to put something off or do it sooner are you (and your significant other, if there’s one in the picture). That’s it.

And, most of the time (as long as it’s not life-and-death), it really doesn’t matter in the long-term.

So, when it comes to cloth diapering, the ultimate answer as to WHEN you should start?

WHENEVER YOU WANT. Your baby, your choice.

If you want to start while you’re in the hospital with your newborn, do it!

If you want to wait for your child’s poops to be a little less frequent, go ahead.

If you want to wait for when your child’s sleeping better through the night or has become successful at breastfeeding (since you just can’t handle putting anymore brain cells into figuring out one. More. Darn. Thing.), don’t doubt yourself and do what’s best for BOTH of you!

If you’ve got a lot going on (a big move, a big life change, a new job, etc) and just want to wait until things settle, there’s no shame in it.

If your child is 14 months old and you just discovered that cloth diapers exist, it’s not too late! Give them a try!

All that said, it’s also important to remember that there is NO reason to be ashamed for cloth diapering part-time. (I seriously suggest that you read my old post about it; hopefully it’ll ease any of the stress or guilt if you’re a part-timer.) It’s actually a great way to stick your toe into the water of CDs. You may realize that, before too long, the water’s fine (it’s easier than you expected) and you want to do a cannonball right into the cloth diapering lake.

Because many parenting trends and choices have very vocal, passionate advocates, it can be intimidating to start for fear that it won’t work out or there seems to be a huge learning curve. I think a lot of moms can nod aggressively over that statement alone. But, honestly, life is as easy or as complicated as you want to make it.

With cloth, this means that you don’t HAVE to know everything about it in order to give it a try. Don’t overwhelm yourself with hours of research (although it’s sometimes fun to get lost in the bloggers’ and YouTubers’ opinions and experiences). Just look up the basics – the different styles of cloth and what materials/style would work best for your needs (particularly when it comes to laundering, financials, and ease of use). Then, decide which is best for you and give those a go. If they don’t work, you can resell them and try others, but also know that you can troubleshoot as you go along.

You don’t have to memorize all the information you find, and you don’t need to become a superfan on Day 1. Don’t worry about the names of all the prints and colors; I’ve learned my favorites, but there are others that I’m like, “Grab me a blue…not the plain blue but the green-ish one.” And that’s okay.

And always remember that none of us were born knowing ANY of this stuff (or anything at all, really – I always remind my students of this when they’re nervous to ask a question), so there’s no shame in contacting Thirsties support or our Facebook page if you’d like help solving a cloth-related issue.

 

So, we’d love to hear from you! If you’re already cloth diapering, at what point did you start? Day 1? If you haven’t started yet, do you have a plan for when you will? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Today, we’re featuring another great topic discussed during a recent #ThirstiesLive with Laura Ankrum. 

‘Tis the season to spread nasty germs around and, unfortunately, our little munchkins aren’t immune to those bugs. Toss in the symptoms that accompany teething or a bad reaction to food and it’s pretty likely that your babe will eventually experience some kind of issue – and your cloth will bare the brunt of it! 

Here we’ll give you all you need to know the for when tummy troubles hit.

Be Prepared; Stock Up on Diapers – In case of emergency, be sure you’re ready to go through A LOT of diapers. There’s not a set number here and you can use any style that works for your family (some might want to try a cheaper option like prefolds or flats with covers while others may want to keep things as easy as possible with AIO’s). Also along the lines of preparation, know that while some things have to simply run their course, be sure to keep in touch with your kiddo’s doctor because littles can get dehydrated quickly.

Bum’s the Word – Tummy troubles often means acidic bowel movements, which may mean rashes or extra sensitivity for baby’s bum. In this case, be sure to lather on that Booty Love super thick. If your doctor recommends a higher-octane diaper cream, be sure to use a liner with your cloth.

Cleaning the Diapers – Even if you’re not using extra strength cream, liners will help a lot with clean up. You’ll also want to spray your diapers right away because acidic bowel movements can damage diapers’ lamination. After going through a bout of diarrhea, you may want to add the recommended amount of oxygen bleach in with your detergent.

If you’re dealing with something viral (especially norovirus) you’ll need to use chlorine bleach. Instead of giving overall, general instructions for using bleach, we recommend that folks check in with support@thirstiesbaby.com for instructions specific to your washing machine and water type because bleach can wreck your diapers.

When tummy troubles hit, it can be a stressful time. Seeing your little one sick can cause lots of worry on your part and sleepless nights all around. Hopefully these instructions can provide some alleviation for just one of these concerns when your little one gets sick.

Let us know if you’ve had the misfortune to deal with a child with tummy troubles while cloth diapering. Did you continue cloth diapering or did you go the disposable route? If you used cloth, we’d love to hear how you made it through. Any additional tips to help fellow CD parents are always welcome!

And, as always, don’t forget that Thirsties goes live every Friday at 1:00pm MST on Facebook and 1:45 MST on Instagram! The topics vary and are always helpful and interesting, and you’ll love meeting super fun Laura.

“I’ve got plenty to be thankful for,” Bing Crosby sang in the movie “Holiday Inn”. He was actually rather down-in-the-dumps that Thanksgiving, but of course everything came out swell by Christmas – as they usually do in old movies. (Probably why I love them so much.)

This year, I’ve found myself humming that song for over a month – but sincerely. In a world full of SO much strife, negativity, hatefulness, and sadness (the list goes on), it’s easy to get down. But thanks to the birth of our third child, the sudden explosion of our middle daughter’s personality (why is it that two brings their true selves forth? It’s a burst of joy wrapped with a cantankerous bow), and the success that our oldest son has had transitioning to – and blossoming in – kindergarten has given both my husband and I new energy and reason to be truly grateful.

 

Add to that a near-constant reminder of just how lucky we are – when we hear a horrible news report or when a dear friend’s newborn daughter undergoes emergency surgery or when we see all the need hanging from a charity Giving Tree – and we’re REALLY feeling the gratitude this year.

 

But, how does that translate to the kids? Our older son understands things pretty deeply but is still in “the world revolves around me” mode (which, at 5, I guess he should be…for the most part), but a 2-year-old and 1-month-old…well, it falls on deaf ears, obviously. Again, as it should.

Ever since I wrote this post about teaching toddlers about gratitude, I’ve realized that, yes, those ideas are great – and I’ll try one or two with our son (and, in a superficial way, our 2-year-old) this year – but there’s an even better way to teach them about being thankful and, in turn, the meaning of Thanksgiving.

Ready to hear it?

As with a lot of things, the best way to teach something is to DO and SHOW it. So, by actively showing – and talking about – the things you feel grateful for, it’s more likely to stick in a child’s mind.

This actually requires us to be more present and mindful in each moment. When it comes to our gratitude for our children and loved ones, there are many ways to show them. Instead of finding ourselves growing frustrated about a messy, toy-strewn living room, taking a moment to sit with our children and play along with whatever they’re doing. When we hear one of our kids say something absolutely priceless, stopping to tell them why you found it hilarious or insightful or special. The list goes on, but by SHOWING and occasionally TELLING them that you care about their imaginations, their individuality, their activities, you’re showing them that it’s okay to be openly thankful.

The “present and mindful” technique can actually be pretty challenging at times, especially if we’re naturally temperamental. I’m the type who sees the mistake and not the immense effort behind the completed work; needless to say, with three kids and a super sweet, overly apologetic husband, I’m working on this! Taking the time to look at the “why” behind our son’s behavior (he’s a helper and sometimes makes poor choices trying to help TOO much, for example) or seeing that my husband was trying to help out by cooking (and not analyzing what he cooked and how he did it differently from the way I do it) are skills that need to be honed and worked on regularly.
I also think that it’s okay to show thanks for the things that we have. Without being altogether materialistic (we’re actually trying to live more minimally), I don’t think that it’s too much for our kids to be aware that some people are living with less – or nothing at all – and that we should truly be grateful and care for the things that we do have. I feel that discussing this in an honest, open-minded way rather than as a “there are starving people in the world, eat your broccoli!” lecture gets a lot further with kids and stays in their minds much longer.

This is where seeing your actions come in. Being sure that when you’re going through old or unwanted things that you make an effort to donate them (rather than throwing them away), putting a dollar bill in a red kettle, or sponsoring a person in need for Christmas and getting your child involved in selecting their items are all ways to engage them in being grateful for what you have – by helping others.

And in a very real way, those things that we feel all too guilty about – like screen time or finding down time for ourselves – shouldn’t be nixed altogether. Find a balance, be grateful, then give yourself the OK to enjoy it! By coming to terms with your own rules (whatever you’re comfortable with) about, for example, using your smartphone, just be sure that you include a chat with your kids about it. By saying something like, “we’re lucky to have this technology, but we shouldn’t let it run our lives; I’m going to limit my phone time during mealtimes and when we’re playing together, but there will be other times that I may want to share a funny story or picture with my friends or read an article. It’s one way that I have fun, just like you enjoy playing, and I’m grateful to have it, although it’s never more important than you are”, you’re starting a more connected, trusting technological dialogue that will hopefully continue for years. This also applies to areas of self care, but you’re also modeling that you know that you can’t properly care for the kiddos without also taking care of your own needs, which is a HUGE lesson for the whole family to learn and support.

While overall this is an exercise in gratitude, it’s also a way to make Thanksgiving last for more than just one day (much as many of us wish that the goodwill and joy behind the Christmas spirit would carry through the rest of the year). It’s about being more aware and taking little moments everyday to spread positivity and enjoy your loved ones and how lucky you are – because you really never know what could happen from one day to the next.

What’s your favorite way to teach your child(ren) about gratitude and being thankful? We’d love to hear some additional tips in the comments below.

Sometimes it’s difficult to walk the line between welcoming friends and family to meet a newborn and shutting yourself away to incubate her from all the germs and dangers of the world. And, no matter what you do, someone will get upset by your diligence (or lack thereof). It’s often the first experience we have with parenting criticism.

So, no matter how you oversee things, it’s ultimately your choice and your choice alone; just do what’s right for you and your family.

In our house, we try to allow for some immediate family visits with hand washing (and strict “please don’t visit if you’re sick” rules). But, then things get complicated with family birthdays and holidays.

So, what do you do when you’d rather not have your baby passed from second cousin to friend-of-your-aunt at the bigger get-togethers when her immune system is still very much developing?

I’ll let you in on our little secret. We swear by a baby carrier.

No matter the brand, no matter whether it’s a solid structure, wrap, or otherwise, as long as your baby is being worn in the age- and size-appropriate way, keeping baby close to Mommy or Daddy is ideal for avoiding those germs (and unwanted touching) – in addition to the myriad of other awesome reasons to babywear!

We have a big post-Christmas get-together with extended family every year and I’ve seen people come sick (with no warning to other partygoers). While I can appreciate their excitement and dedication to the shindig, it can be annoying to encounter this even without a small baby in tow. So far, wearing out babies has been a savior because a) they usually fall asleep to your heartbeat and cuddly warmth (a great excuse not to take baby out), b) people can see the baby’s face, and c) obviously it keeps unwanted holding to a minimum.

Some may say that I’m a party pooper not to pass the baby around, but at smaller events with trusted loved ones I’m happy to get a bit of a bit of a breather and have others hold our little munchkin. And I work to create some one-on-one time at other, less crazy times to meet with beloved friends and family – especially the older folks who, I find, often crave baby time (to see the way their eyes light up is enough to bring me to tears, so to share this squishy newborn stage with them is a joy).

So, I really don’t use this strategy as a means to upset relatives; my goal is to keep the baby safe during those crazy hectic (often virus-laden) times of the year. And I have found that it has kept things happy and calm for everyone – it’s just the right amount of baby to quench that newborn fever that people get. No pun intended.

What about you guys? Do you allow folks to pass the baby around or do you essentially shut yourselves away for the first month or so? Or do you have a strategy to kind of walk the line between both? We’d love to hear in the comments!