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Written by Mama Monday

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


Using treats and/or rewards with your kids.

Some might call it bribery. Others may call it positive reinforcement. Still others might say it’s simply teaching cause and effect. And, like many choices in parenting, it’s a conversation that can definitely get people on either side of the issue touchy.

There are a million and one ways to raise a child, aren’t there? And doesn’t it seem that, no matter the choice you make, someone will offer you an opposing opinion? Especially in this here Internet Land.

Whether it’s a choice I’m glad we’ve made or not, we tend to utilize a loose semblance of a reward system. It usually depends on the exact scenario, but when our son shows that he can act properly (especially in a situation that is normally a bit sticky for him), we may “reward” him with a trip to his favorite book store (whether we get a book or not isn’t usually the draw; it’s the train set he’d prefer to play with for hours on end). Or, if he’s shown a few days of consistently good behavior (or, during a rough patch, even one full day), we may give him a package of his favorite organic fruit snacks and tell him why he earned it.

Oh, yes. We do. And I admit it here, freely yet terrified of public ridicule. 😉

While I don’t like to use the word “bribe”, we do use an occasional treat to help our little guy regain or maintain focus. I was recently on a solo trip with him to Target, and the one thing he wanted to do was to peruse the toys. (At this time of year, we do a lot of “Ohhh, that’s nice! We’ll put that on our Santa list when we get home, buddy”, although I’m not always above getting him a small something that we know will get lots of use.) I realized that if we hit up the toy area right away, there was zero chance that he’d let me get the rest of my shopping done. So, I talked it out with him. “If you can help me with the rest of my shopping and show how patient you can be, we’ll visit the toys at the end of our trip.” Cause and effect. If you *fill in the blank with desired action*, then *this positive thing will happen*. Maybe it’s bribery, maybe it’s not. Most of the time it works wonderfully. Other times, he gets to learn that by making a poor choice, he won’t receive the thing he longs to do/see/have/eat. Follow-through is key, and it’s a sad lesson of life if you don’t follow directions. For the most part, he gets it.

Then, there are those times that we need some extra help to get something important accomplished. Take, for example, our little guy’s recent bout of pneumonia. He was hit-or-miss at sitting still while having his nebulizer treatment, and I totally understand why. It’s a loud, scary, foggy thing. Not fun. But, we’d throw on one of his favorite shows and give him some “gummies” or a special snack at the end, and he even started sitting on his own to get the job done. There’s no way we would have reached that point without a little extra incentive. No amount of gentle conversation or coaxing would’ve accomplished that end.

This method hasn’t always worked, though. While we found that tying his potty-training successes to a treat system didn’t help the situation, I’ve known plenty of parents who swear by it. He’s on the older spectrum for the potty-training game and, at times, very psychological in his training. So, if he was going to be stubborn or obstinate, no amount of yummy treats were going to change his mind. (And, at times, I love him for being so strong-willed. Really!) But, if you find that the M&M route worked wonders for your little one’s potty progress, I say grab that method tight and don’t let go. Plus, who’s to say our next child won’t be easily swayed by a sweet treat? Parenting is such an ebb and flow, who can say what’s right?

In our case, I know that as long as we keep him in the loop and give a meaning to the reward, he doesn’t tend to hit the “spoiled” phase. If we’re firm and follow through when he doesn’t hold up his end of the bargain, it’s understood that he won’t just get the treat, anyway. Many parents have issues saying “no” to their child or feeling like they’re going back on their word, but the connection really helps kids feel less entitled and more proud.

That said, not every situation elicits a treat response at our house. It’s definitely the exception rather than the rule, and we find that words of love, encouragement, praise, pride, and support go a very long way to boosting morale and self-esteem. Plus, it helps keep the toy clutter from getting out of hand. We also find that a “treat” can be something more, like going to a new, special place and making memories together as a family, as much as it can be a tangible item.

What about you? Do you reward your child with treats, or are you staunchly against the practice? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, especially since we’re all about respecting different parenting methods around here. :-)

We’ve had a LOT of transitions at our house lately. The end of summer brings plenty of transitions for every family, and ours is no different. Since I work in a school, this year it means sending our son back to my husband’s mom’s daily, with quite a change in schedule, discipline, and routine.This summer we’ve also been doing our best with potty-training. I’d say he’s at about an 80% “nailed it!” stage, so I’m hoping he doesn’t regress. Throw in our consistent, time-consuming house hunting and, OH YEAH, being about 7 months pregnant with our second child, and it’s no wonder our poor son is a little out of sorts. He’s actually handling the big things incredibly well right now, considering, but we’re expecting some emotions to run high after our baby arrives.

One area that we’ve been SUPER lucky has been with his “big boy bed” transition. He turned three this summer, so we knew it was only a matter of time before we should make the switch. Since he had never given any indication of wanting to “escape” his little cell, we put it off and put it off. Well, when we finally started planning furniture placement and organizing for our quasi-nursery recently, we knew we’d need to switch out his crib, finally.

We were lucky enough to receive a hand-me-down toddler bed from a friend. It was in great shape, but had lots of scrapes and carvings from the previous owner, so I felt no guilt in painting the thing a perfect gray neutral. Hadley helped pick out the color and, after sanding, priming, and several coats of paint, it was ready. And so was he!

I had read tons of great information about how to make the transition smooth for everyone. However, much of it was heavy on role play and deep in lengthy conversation. Our highly active little guy does best with brief descriptions and an opportunity to ask plenty of questions, so I took this route (which may not work for everyone, but it worked great for us):

1. Give a brief explanation of what the new bed means in their terms. I tried to make the new bed as fun and positive as possible. We used the “big boy” and “special” terminology because, well, he doesn’t hear it enough (as much as we may try). At the same time, I mentioned just one “rule”: that he couldn’t get out of bed unless there was an adult with him. If he needs something, he has to call for us first. With a stairway right outside his door, we’re using a gate, but this rule was downright necessary.

2. Ask their feelings about it all. A new bed often accompanies lots of other life transitions for a little one (much as in our situation). We’re sure to ask Hadley his feelings pretty often. Sometimes he can totally care less; other times he can tell us about any nervousness he may have. In this case, we helped him find the words: it’s new and exciting, but different and a little weird. Talk it out! It genuinely helps to let them know that their feelings are normal and give simple strategies for dealing with them.

3. Celebrate successes; rinse and repeat for the road bumps. Okay, this is one I need to follow with potty-training better! But, when they show that they’ve listened and have transitioned to actually sleeping pretty successfully, praise the heck out of them. If you have an adorable little voice wake you up at your bedside, just quietly walk them back, lay them back down, and calmly remind them to stay put. It may take time, but they’ll get it.

Hadley’s actually been far easier to get into bed and in for a nap; he’s so excited to use the new bed. Getting him to sleep is just as much of a challenge as it’s always been (hit or miss), but we haven’t had any issues with him getting out and wandering around. He knows he has to ask before getting up, anyway, and the first night he called me in with a worried voice – his stuffed animal was sitting there, on the floor, about 1 ½ feet away from his reach. “Yes!” I thought. “He understands.”

The fact that we use a monitor with a sensor mat that goes under his mattress also gives us a huge peace of mind for the time being, as well.

That’s not to say that this transition has been easy. There was quite a bit of melancholy on the parts of my husband and I over one of the bigger “he’s not little anymore” steps he’s reached. My emotions are pretty in-check lately, so I was generally able to acknowledge the sadness but focus mainly on working on the practical side of things – painting, disassembling the old crib – with a pretty good recognition that this is was a happy transition. The Dorky Daddy (aka my husband), however, has gotten pretty sad over the change. I can totally see why, but it’s really just one of the bigger, easy-to-spot examples of how the little guy is growing into quite the big guy everyday.

So, how have you guys dealt with the big bed change-up, whether it’s from co-sleeping or crib to bed? Do you have any tricks or tips to share that others may find useful? Or do you have different transitions going on in your household lately? We’d love to hear about them!

Last week, we chatted about purging while pregnant – the whys and hows. It made me think about how purging and cloth diapering go hand-in-hand.

*record scratch*

Hubba, whaaa? How can that be? Especially when many of us want to #buyallthediapers??

All I really mean is that I’ve noticed that many families that cloth diaper are all about living simply, too. We all have TONS of different reasons for cloth diapering, but we can all agree that life is a bit simpler not to have to run out and spend money on disposables on a regular basis (once you get your wash routine down, of course). It’s just one less thing to worry about.

Sure, some of us have a super basic stash consisting of flats and covers, while others have a huge stash featuring the latest prints and colors. Some have all one brand (if it’s Thirsties, we appreciate that!); others like to try tons of different brands (which is equally okay!). But, no matter how large our stashes, we’re simplifying our lives by taking control of our diapering situation in an economical, environmental (not to mention adorable) way.

So, since purging goes hand-in-hand with organization, I thought it’d be fun to see some great cloth diaper organization methods from across the Internet today. Eye candy time!

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* This one from Prefolds Love is a perfect set-up, and the organization descriptions are great for first-time CDers.

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* From Cherry Blossom Love, this solution could work whether you’re CDing one or multiple bambinos. It looks simple yet stunning at the same time, doesn’t it? There are tons of wall-hanging solutions out there, too, if this one interests you.

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* I’ve personally been drooling over the idea of purchasing having a friend who lives near Ikea grab me a Raskog rolling cart for our own limited space scenario. So, this set-up from Diaper Dirt (be sure to check out her adorable video, too) has my heart aflutter.

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* This one from Hello Bee looks deceptively simple, but the organization is stellar. Look closely. See the labels? Perfect if you’re not the only one who will be diapering your little one, or for keeping track of brands and how to use them properly. Genius!

There are tons more ideas out there (we love you, Pinterest…oh yes we doooo!), but be sure to stop by Dirty Diaper Laundry to see Kim’s list of inspired CD storage.

So, how do you control the fluff? We’d all love to know your cloth diaper organization strategies, too! Describe below or share pics in our Facebook post for this blog entry.

Whether it’s early or late in your pregnancy, it’s never too late to do some purging. I should know – I’ve undertaken some form of decluttering at every stage of mine so far. I know it can be exhausting sometimes to even think about going through stuff (or getting off the couch at all), but even just tackling one drawer can give you a huge sense of accomplishment.

So, why is pregnancy, of all times, a good time to purge? While it’s an absolutely wonderful time filled with excitement, that excitement can easily turn to anxiety. (Again, I’m speaking from experience. ;-)) Making room for a new little life can mean uprooting other parts of your life. Rooms may need shifting around, the fun baby clothes, toys, and accessories need a place to live – to say nothing of your own constantly shifting wardrobe. Getting on top of it all can help you feel calmer, in control, and a little more prepared and mentally ready for what’s to come.

Here are just a few tips that I’ve found helpful while dealing with my own purging adventures (which are, admittedly, not fully complete yet):


1. Don’t overdo it. As with anything in pregnancy, it’s easy to do just a little too much and overextend yourself a tad too far. You’re used to getting a task done in a certain amount of time, and especially if you have other kids in the household, you’re probably a whirlwind when you have a chance to devote the time to any job.

I have problems remembering this with most tasks I undertake lately. When I finally find enough motivation to get off my behind, I want to push through until it’s D-O-N-E. But, sometimes they can’t get done in one afternoon. AND THAT’S OKAY. Our bodies are naturally more fatigued during this special time, and while I’m not saying that we need constant pampering, we need to heed our body’s warning signs. And if your husband raises his eyebrow upon seeing a pile of clothes in the middle of your bedroom still to be sorted…remind him. 😉

Oh, and keep hydrated, especially if you’re working in a stuffy attic or basement. I forget to drink the allotted amount ALL the time, and particularly when working on chores. Oops. And NO HEAVY LIFTING! Another mistake I’ve made more than once.

2. Make a list. This is my answer for all of life’s stresses, even if the list ends up getting lost in a pile I was decluttering. Ahem, yeah, that’s happened. Simply writing out what needs to be done lets my brain relax a little and actually visualize and focus on the tasks rather than the overwhelmingness of it all.

So, in my case, we’ve got a small house. Whether we find a larger house before this little one comes is anyone’s guess (ACK!), so we’re planning and making adjustments to our current living situation to accommodate two adults, one preschooler, one newborn, three cats…and a partridge in a pear tree. This involves shifting an office to house said newborn, utilizing unused storage in our son’s room, completely overhauling our basement storage (which also involved painting everything, for some reason), and purging all of our clothes. Oh, and continue working on our house just in case we need to put it on the market at a moment’s notice.

Without making a list and following tip #3, I’d be a basketcase of worry.

3. Chunk the purging into smaller tasks. Ahhh. Isn’t it nice to cross things off your list? This is why I don’t write lists that say “Organize basement.” It would take all summer to cross it off and would make the task seem insurmountable.

Instead, writing a master list is a good start, but try making bullet points for each small task. In my case, I was ecstatic just to get the bins of baby/toddler clothes sorted and purged as well as I could. Check! The task this afternoon will probably be going through my underwear drawer. Yup, just one drawer, but with all the various sizes I’ve been fluctuating through, it’s a job I’ll be happy about when it’s done – and I can close the darn thing.

See? Slow and steady really DOES win the race. It also helps you pick and choose what you’re up for doing depending on your mood and energy level. If you’re not in the mood for an in-depth project, just try grabbing the stack of already-paid bills and paperwork to organize on your lap while watching your favorite show. You’ve not only splurged on some Downton Abbey time, but you’ve checked something off your list. Look at you go!

4. It’s not a big deal. If the decluttering gets done, great! Pat yourself on the back and put up those swollen ankles; you’ve earned it. If it doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world. And not every job needs to be completed to perfection. Seriously! Does that word even exist in reality?

I’ve heard so, so many mamas tell stories of the baby coming early, or simply faster than they expected 9 months to go. It’s rare that they were fully prepared, with the nursery ready to go with weeks to spare. For us, we finished ours after our first son came, but the important stuff was ready to go and clean. (Remember that they often don’t make use of the nursery for awhile, anyway.) As far as this second baby? Who knows. And this is totally normal. I’m considering making one of those frou frou art prints for the nursery but instead of an inspirational saying, writing “It is what it is.” The baby will never know. 😉 (J/K…kind of.)

The main things need to be done: a hospital bag packed (sending your husband home for clothes can be a disaster!!!); diapers should be purchased and prepped if you’re cloth diapering from the start; at least a few days of outfits, onesies, and blankets should be washed; and at least a bassinet or pack ‘n play (or whatever you’re using) should be ready to go. Even if you’re formula-feeding, you may want to wait on purchasing a particular brand or type considering the hospital will give you the rest of the stuff you’ve been using while there (and quite possibly free samples); you also don’t know if the brand you buy will be different and possibly cause tummy troubles, so wait and ask someone to pick some up for you after you get home. Sure, there’s tons more you could do, but these are pretty much the bare basics.

There’s always something you wish you could’ve finished or cleaned or organized or purchased or zhuzhed, but in the end, the baby will come and, as long as you’re both healthy, everything will be fine. That perspective has helped me…a lot.

Anything you guys would like to add to the list? Have any of you undertaken some purging projects lately (whether pregnant or not)? I’m not a purger by nature, but the 1,000 sq. ft. footprint of our house has made me appreciate the job greatly!

Our family has been on the hunt for a house for about a million years, it seems. In reality, we’ve been casually looking for a couple of years, but our search has gained urgency with the coming of our second child in November. With two adults, one preschooler (is it weird that I want to continue calling him a toddler at three?), three cats…and now one more little one, our 1,000 sq. ft. home seems to be bursting at the seams. We adore our home and it’s served us well, but it’s time.

I’ve learned that, as with much in life, the best house for us will “happen” when it’s meant to. So, I’m not too stressed about whether we find our new spot sooner (ie before November) or later (ie before our oldest enters school…or college). Because of this, we’ve taken a hard look at our space to figure out what will double as a nursery if and when the time comes.

We’ve got three small-but-functional bedrooms, one of which performs office duties, currently housing several bookshelves, two desks, and walls full of my husband’s quirky comic art and pieces we’re proud he’s written. Oh, and a Katharine Hepburn autograph. (That’s mine. ;-)) It’s kind of a hot mess, honestly. After realizing that a crib and toddler bed won’t fit in our son’s room (and, honestly, with potty-training, a new “big boy bed”, a new sibling, and the possibility of moving, we don’t need to add one more reason for him to revolt!), I turned to the office with a fresh set of eyes.

Since I hardly ever use the office (except for, honestly, to store piles of my paperwork and books), it’s time to move my DIY parsons desk to the basement and clean out most of my stuff. Poof! Room for a crib. Purging some books and storing the ones we don’t need at-hand will allow room for baskets/bins to contain some baby paraphernalia. Oh, and our son only uses his dresser, so we’d probably utilize his closet for baby clothes and cloth diaper stash storage (pulling a handful of diapers and clothes each day to hang out in the little one’s room as needed).

With a spark of “what if” comes the next logical step: an exorbitant amount of time spent perusing Pinterest. Since our house has a unique set-up, I actually searched for several ideas for small nurseries as well as shared space nurseries, whether office-related or not. So, maybe if any of you are in the same under-sized boat, you can glean some inspiration from the spaces and ideas I stumbled upon.



This is a great “if the room were big enough” toddler/infant room sharing scenario. You can see the crib peeking out in the right corner, and the fun, cohesive styling in the room somehow suits both ages. Shoes Off Please also has a great general nursery-and-toddler-room roundup.



Ahh, Buzzfeed strikes again! Here’s a great list of tips hacks that will help anyone who’s trying to make raising a little one work in a small space. We already do several of these (hidden storage is a must!), but others are simply genius.



This one from The Sweetest Digs may very well be my favorite. Unfortunately, we have far too little by way of “white furniture” and mama’s only got so much energy for painting stuff. But, the design and utilization of space is giving me tons to work with, mentally!



The Glittler Guide gives me hope that a pretty cluttered mishap of a “before” can turn into an “after” like THAT.
These things can happen in real life, right? RIGHT??



Here we go with the white again. But, it’s still a very realistic interpretation of a shared nursery space, isn’t it?
I know I’d love having this replace our current office monstrosity!

What about you folks? Who has a less-than-traditional nursery setup? Let us hear your tips and tricks for making it work! We’d considered co-sleeping but don’t think it’s for us. We will, however, have the baby with us for the first couple of months in a bassinet-type scenario, so that gives us even more time to find a larger place. 😉