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Written by Mama Monday

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

Our second child is officially a 16-month-old toddler. Actually, her body just seems to have caught up with her mindset; she clearly thinks she’s far older than she really is and wants to keep up with her 4.5-year-old brother.

If you have any “big kids” like us, you know that mobility changes the parenting game, big-time. Silence means trouble, closing the bathroom doors becomes a necessity, and diaper changes are…challenging. If your little one is still, well, little here are some things you have to look forward to when it comes to diapering a tot – because odds are you’ve mastered your cloth diaper washing routine and how many you expect to use in a day and the perfect nighttime stay-dry strategy, but things are about to get a little different.

– “You want me to stop playing…for you to do WHAT?!” For all the horrible newborn diapers and runny messes you cleaned up over time, seeing your child’s smiling, sweet, at times even giggling face made it a little easier. But, suddenly a diaper change has our daughter’s eyes wide, thinking in a Blanche DuBois accent, “What ARE you DOING down there?! How DARE you wipe my private bits??” Seriously, child? It has to be done. Neither of us wants to be here right now.

– Your odds are 8 in 10 that the experience will not be fun. Did I say “not be fun”? I meant horrible. It’ll be horrible. It’s not the diaper’s fault; it’s just the precious kiddo of yours. It is what it is. I find myself dreading diaper changes and super relieved when she actually lays happily and lets me change her. Because it’s simply not the norm.

– Get ready for the alligator death roll. This is the #1 thing I dread most about a diaper change. When I’ve taken her away from her happy playtime (or, more appropriately, her “test big brother’s patience” time), you’d think I was a murderer the way she shouts and carries on. But then put her on her back to clean up whatever situation she’s left me? Psht. Time for the dreaded alligator death roll, with thrashing and pushing and shouting galore. No matter how I hold her down, it just doesn’t do. Accept and do your best – quickly.

– No distraction is distraction enough. A favorite book? Another clean, bright diaper? A noisy toy? Tickling toes? Nope. Nothing is interesting enough to hold her interest. Only the aforementioned belly roll will do. Homey ain’t got time for these diapers, Mama.

– God forbid there’s poop. Thrashing + rolling + grabbing “down there” + poop = not a fun equation. Ugh. Ick.

– You start to curse choosing snaps over hook and loop. This is a huge choice in preference for parents, but I still remember when we first experienced this with our son and we tried to snap our cloth diapers…in the middle of one of his thrashing moments. We chose snaps for longevity and I still haven’t decided to switch out our entire stash to hook and loop (I love my stash as it is!)…but at times like these, I reeeaaaaally consider it.

– You ultimately resort to the “vertical change.” This has been my go-to change lately. I tend to know Harper’s “schedule” so I know what kind of diaper to expect, so I’ll have her stand up and have a quick change while I bear hug her from behind. It’s not ideal (and doesn’t account for #2) and is HARD with snaps, but it’s become the norm, unfortunately.

Have you mastered the art of toddler diapering? Do you have any tips for those in the thick of it?

The one solace that I try to remember is the fact that our son, Hadley, outgrew it in time. Did you hear that, Harper?? Anytime now would be great!

parenting help

 

Maybe you’ve got a newborn at home. Maybe you’ve just gotten over a 2-week family bout of the stomach flu (like in our household). Or maybe it’s just the day-in, day-out craziness of schedules and bathtimes and keeping the house presentable and work responsibilities and, well, life.

As amazing as it is, parenting is just tough sometimes.

These are the times that I have to remind myself to ease up. Sometimes we make things more stressful than we need to, and sometimes we simply need to make things easier on ourselves when life throws us curveballs.

So, today I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to do just that – ways that I cut myself some slack while I try to regain that equilibrium again. Maybe they’ll help you when things get stressful.

Use (or find!) a favorite essential oil to relax (or motivate). I have a favorite, relaxing EO blend that is safe to roll right on your pressure points (I use my temple), but you can start with lavender. But oils like lemon and peppermint actually act as a bit of a stimulant just in case you’re looking for some motivation to get some stuff done. (And use a carrier oil like coconut oil and always, always use essential oils responsibly – I never ingest them.)


Cook simple, nourishing family favorites – and make ’em do double duty.
 It’s so easy to get into the fast food trap (and some nights a quick pizza is just a MUST), but I find that we feel “blah” if this becomes a trend. Simple meals that you don’t need to think about to get on the table are great for these crazy nights and can give you extra work lunches or leftover options.

I also swear by a rotisserie chicken and doubling things I’m cooking in order to get plenty of meals out of them. A rotisserie chicken can offer chicken and gravy, quesadillas, mini pot pies, and tons more.

Oh, and soup and sandwiches or pancake night? No shame in it. As a kid, our Wednesdays were always busy and always soup nights.

Don’t skip housework, but don’t push yourself too hard. The feeling that piles of dirty clothes are becoming a mountain and the blatant dust balls rolling along the floor only stress me out more. I accept that they’re there and then try to do one or two things – usually dishes (a must) and one quick chore – per day.

And, yes, starting a load of diaper laundry counts in my book (if I can see it through the wash cycles and at least get them drying before bed, that’s a score in my book). And even a quick dust mop or wipe down of fingerprints – less than 10 minutes – makes you feel like you put forth effort and are less down on yourself.

You’d be surprised how these little jobs add up by the end of the week. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

 

Allow yourself – and your kids – down time. There are tons of arguments against too much screen time, and for the most part we adhere to strict rules for it at our house. But, sometimes something’s gotta give…and this is where I bend a bit.

Turning on our favorite DVD or PBS Kids show (or allowing our older son some time on his tablet, a very rare treat on an educational app) allows everyone to kind of sit and chill. But it could also be just simple coloring time or cherished Play-Doh time. Just something to not be going, going, going, rushing, rushing, rushing.

What you do with the time is up to you. Catch up on bills. Enjoy a cup of tea. Whatever. Just enjoy.

Give yourself shortcuts when possible. During the winter (y’know, when kids are less sweaty and more apt to have their skin dry out), we do bath nights every other night (with quick washing up on the alternate evenings). It definitely helps us feel less stressed on the “non-bath nights”

Whatever tricks you may have, use ’em and don’t worry about it. Parenting – and kids, for that matter – is so individualized, don’t get caught up in the comparison trap. Do what works for you!

Take a little “me” time before bed. Okay, confession time! I feel like hitting the pillow the exact moment the kids hit the hay. Is that just me? But, just by sitting and watching a mindless TV show with my husband or allowing my brain to chill out by reading a few pages in a book, I feel like I’ve done something for myself.

What’s your favorite tip for cutting yourself some slack? Share below with other parents!

parenting advice

I know that we have a variety of readers stopping by this blog, from parents with multiple kids to newbies, people who are new to cloth diapers to folks who have been using them forever.

So, I thought I’d reach out today to those new parents who are just starting off on your parenting journey. Maybe you’re here researching cloth, or just looking for a supportive community. Today, I’m talking to you.


Dear New Parents,


First of all, a huge congratulations! I have a son who’s in pre-K and a 16-month old daughter and I still remember what that first trimester was like. Aside from the fact that you probably feel like “blaaaaahhh” all the time (getting stuff done? Meh, it can wait), the emotions run from overwhelming to ecstatic to terrified…and more. It’s a lot, so along with a congratulations, I offer a hug. The feelings don’t always go away when the next trimester(s) comes.

In case you haven’t noticed already, you’re going to get TONS of unsolicited advice. It’s given in kindness (most of the time) and from people who’ve been in your shoes. Of course, sometimes it’s been 40 years since the person was in your shoes – and things have changed. EVERYONE has an opinion on EVERYTHING…and many times those opinions contradict.

I’d like to share with you the only two pieces of advice (pretty sure they’re ones I happened upon on my own, actually) that I regularly remind myself

Piece of Advice #1: EVERYTHING IS A PHASE.

You know how you see people comment under a friend’s picture of a child, saying, “It all goes so fast, cherish these moments!” They’re not wrong…that adorable squish will be throwing temper tantrums in the middle of a store (or, y’know, ignoring you in front of his fellow teenaged friends) before you know it. But it’s important to remember that, whether they be challenges or heart-warming moments, everything in raising kids is a phase.

You take the good times along with the bad times. Currently, our daughter is having a HARD time with the second half of the night. She still wants to nurse at least once an hour (she was better as a newborn, in all honesty)! But, out of experience, I’ve realized that this will NOT always be the norm, and the awesomeness of this age – the adorable new words, achievements, and personality developments – cancel out the exhaustion.

The fact that our son is at a point now where he very rarely acts out anymore, he helps out without complaint, and we can have mature, intelligent conversations is tempered by the fact that he’s growing up. His adorable round features are slimming and becoming – dare I say – handsome. His misspoken words, his favorite ‘little kid’ shows – they’re all a thing of the past. Sure, we had lots of spills and dirty diapers and meltdowns back in the day, too, but the flash with which it’s changed is a constant reminder of those phases.

So, during those 3am feedings, go ahead and mutter, “This, too, shall pass” – but remember that it WILL truly pass. The bad AND the good.

Piece of Advice #2: DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.

Sure, there will be times that you actually seek out advice and sometimes it will be super helpful…but it’s not always the right thing for your family. Listen to your gut and don’t waste a second worrying about friends’ and family’s differing opinions.

As long as your ultimate goal is to raise your child happy and healthy (i.e. if there’s a real emergency, obviously get to the doctor…sad that needs to be said, but ya never know), there’s not really one right way to do it.   

Let me say that again. THERE’S NOT REALLY ONE RIGHT WAY TO DO IT. You’ll meet A LOT of people who think they have the monopoly on the “right” way to parent. You’ll bump into people who raise an eyebrow at your child’s cloth diapers…or the baby carrier you choose to use…or the fact that you might feed your child organic foods. I could list off at least a hundred other differences in parenting styles and some people would nod their heads while reading and still others would get red in the face.

All kids are SO different that we even find our parenting styles varying from child to child. Obviously, our older son can comprehend certain words and phrases (and right from wrong) far better than our little girl. It is what it is. There really IS more than one way to parent – and the longer that you do it, you may find that your own parenting style and choices change over time.

And that’s okay. You do you, and sleep soundly at night.

Best wishes on your journey!

We all get in a slump sometimes, right? In every part of our lives, sometimes the drudgery or stress can get us feeling low or less than excited about things.

This time of year can be tough. We’re past the real heavy, super cold winter and spring is even tempting us with some snow melt and occasional sunshine, but it’s still not quite nice enough to get into full-on nice weather mode. Y’know, when the littles are still wearing mittens and boots to avoid the muddiness but are also begging to get out their kiddie pools (even though it’s still only 38 degrees).

Here are some ideas to spark your passion again even in the dreary winter months:

Take advantage of a weather change or switch up your laundry routine. A lot of the U.S. had a surprise February warm-up, and while it didn’t last (why, hellooooo, snowflakes!), I saw so many friends take advantage by sunning their just-washed fluff outside. That sunshine isn’t just good for cloth diapers, y’know.

And even if you don’t have super gorgeous weather, mixing up your laundry routine – maybe by hanging a clothesline in your basement or buying a drying rack – can change things up just enough to hit your own “reset” button. (Did I just say that doing LAUNDRY can help your mood? Yup. But, think about it – a switch-up in any routine can help your brain get out of drudgery.)

Think “nice weather.” You know what this means in my world? A bit of shopping. I’m really not a “buy all the things” type of girl, but I try to take account of what the kiddos need for the next season a little in advance. Plus, it helps the Easter Bunny hook them up with a few cute things. 😉

So, at our house this means looking for tops for 15-month-old Harper that will coordinate with our favorite cloth diaper colors. I’m one of those people that don’t let the kiddos go around bottomless (I mean, just in their cloth!) all year ’round, so when the warm weather hits, that’s when I throw on a cute t-shirt to match the day’s fluff and call it a day. So, of course my shopping involves lots of fun tops that will show off how equally cute her fluff bum is.

And is it weird that I look at hats and sunglasses for how they’ll coordinate with her diapers, too? Please tell me I’m not the only one.

Buy a new print. On the flip side of the coin, there is nothing like buying a new-to-me print (sometimes I’m behind the times) that we don’t have yet to get me excited for warm weather. As adorable as our slew of colors and prints already are, a new one can bring a smile to Mama’s face. Like I said, I’m really not a big shopper, but the occasional splurge is a downright necessity.

So, what am I eyeing? Well, I still haven’t picked up either cute watercolor print (Cactus Garden or Melon Party, I simply can’t choose!)…and several in the Adventure Collection released last fall have me chomping at the bit to get outside and do some camping in the Adirondacks this summer, so I HAVE to pick one of those up. Our little Harper’s a bird fan (her grandmother teaches her and her brother all the different kinds at her house), so Birdie may be coming to live with us.

Actually make plans for the spring and summer. It may not be cloth diaper-related, but it helps me, so I figured I’d throw this tip in for good measure. Having something to look forward to – be it a fun trip, a nice-weather birthday party, or a local spot to visit like a zoo or park – can do wonders for your mood.

So, make actual plans. If you enjoy gardening, buy your seeds and map out your garden for the year. Put a deposit on a rental property for the summertime. Start a moodboard for your child’s July party (that’s if they can hammer down their favorite theme, ahem – be grateful if your little one is still little enough not to have an opinion). Buy season tickets for your favorite zoo.

Whatever it is, do something tangible and LOOK FORWARD to the fun you’ll have when the warm weather decides to stick around for good!


I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of books (by day, I’m a school librarian), so with today being Presidents’ Day I thought I’d share some of my favorite presidential books for kids. And since there are many awesome books at varying levels and there are parents in this forum with kids in several age brackets, I’m organizing them by age.


Preschool

This Little President by Joan Holub
Highlighting a handful of significant presidents in a super simple, board book format, this is the quintessential starter “primer” for kids to learn about presidential history. With a more complete list in the index, you can choose how much (or how little) information you read with your child. Let’s just say we’ve started our 1-year-old out recently with this title; we grab one fact from each page (even though the pages are extremely concise and simple as they are), so this one’s for literally ANY age.


Presidents’ Day by Anne Rockwell
We fell for Rockwell’s books when we purchased their “Apples and Pumpkins” book a few years ago for autumn, but this title gives story-like information about some of America’s greatest presidents using a class play synopsis. Cute pictures and a great starter book to read to young ones.   

Celebrating Presidents’ Day by Kimberly Jordano and Trisha Callella-Jones
Simple explanation of what the holiday is, why we celebrate it, and what a president does. Perfect introduction and great for the younger ages.

 

Elementary

So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George
This is one of my favorite books to teach kids in school about many of our presidents in a fun, humorous way.  Although it also brings up honest facts like that we’ve had some dishonest presidents, children usually pick up on the funny anecdotes that make the commander-in-chief more real and relatable, like which liked to skinny-dip and the foods that some loved (and hated).

Brad Meltzer’s “I Am” Series
Written in cartoon/comic format using first person POV, these books about many famous people (not just presidents) show children how anyone can make a difference. Presidential versions currently cover Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, but keep an eye out – Meltzer seems to be adding new titles regularly.

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin
This title could veer into the preschool age range, too, but I find some of the vocabulary a little over-their-heads. Follow Duck (of “Click, Clack, Moo” fame, among others) as he grows weary of his chores on the farm and decides to try to run things instead – first as farmer (which he finds too hard), next as governor (which he finds too hard), and finally as president (get where we’re going with this one?). A cute one the kids will love.  

 


Will you be talking to your kids about Presidents’ Day? Or doing anything fun (if you have the day off)?

Many of these books are available at your local library – and many public libraries are actually open today! (Some even have MORE activities because folks have time off.) Even if you don’t grab one of these books until later this week, I hope you and your family enjoy them!