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Written by Mama Monday

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

 

It’s hard to admit that springtime has hit when we had snow as recently as Saturday in my neck of the woods. But I’m psyched to finally be able to get our kids outside more, recharge with some sunshine, and open the windows to help with spring cleaning (wow, I must be over winter if I’m anxious to get cleaning!). I love the changing of seasons, so the change is welcome!

While I know that our son will take to running the yard IMMEDIATELY, I’d like to come up with some fun, spring-themed activities (both inside and out) for our 16-month-old daughter, too.  

Here are some ideas I stumbled upon just for the wee ones that you may enjoy at your house, too:

Soda Bottle Flower Print from Inner Child Fun – Super simple stamp art AND it recycles those soda (or water) bottles. Just make sure the bottom isn’t smooth.


Flower Sensory Bottle from Kids Craft Room – I’d heard of them before, but never used a sensory bottle until my SIL made one for our kids – the instant calm and quiet that comes over them when they start turning it over and losing themselves in the floating objects is amazing. I adore the beauty in this floral, springtime version.

Bubble Wrap Spring Blossom Tree from Arty Crafty Kids – Since my daughter’s art isn’t really about coverage and more just the experience, I think she’d do well putting little splotches of paint on the bubble wrap before laying it on the tree trunk. Plus, aren’t these adorable?!

Floating Rainbow Water Table from Simple Fun for Kids – Aren’t all kids mesmerized by water? We have a fun water table but sometimes a simple bucket with floaty balls is just as fun.

Sidewalk Chalk Games from The Pinterested Parent – Sometimes my older son’s attention span doesn’t create for lengthy chalk art sessions, so I love that these ideas extend how much we can do outside. Plus, after he creates the art, our little daughter can use it along with him. (Lots of follow-the-leader at our house!) 🙂

Has spring officially struck where you live? How have you and your family enjoyed it so far? Please share in the comments so the rest of us in chilly climates can bask in your joy! 😉

There are a zillion methods for potty training out there these days. It seems that there are plenty of parents who have success with one – and an equal amount of families who say the same method doesn’t work. So please don’t take my ramblings today as potty training gospel. Just because I have one child who successfully navigated this tricky part of childhood doesn’t mean that I’m an expert. Far from it!

That said, I’ve decided that there’s no rush in potty training my daughter.

When my 4 ½-year-old son was younger, we had some early “hooray!” moments with potty training. I guess you could say that they were misleading…extremely. Just because we had some successes didn’t mean that it would be a simple, easy “Point A to Point B” journey to a diaper-free existence. Add to it the fact that I was pregnant with our second and there was an extra element of rushed anxiety about the whole thing. It just wasn’t fair to him – or us, for that matter. Unfortunately, I’ve heard that this can be par for the course for many families.

In retrospect, I’m glad that I eventually had enough awareness to take a step back, grasp at the method that seemed to be working best for our son, and just tried seeing it through with more patience and less stress. But the process of getting there wasn’t fun for anyone.

So, now with our 16-month-old daughter, I’ve learned from that less than stellar experience and decided early on not to push it. Why?

Well, I know now not to take other moms’ and grandmothers’ assumptions about the “right” time to potty train to heart. They mean well, but I also know that we’re dealing with an even more stubborn creature this time around (never thought that was possible, but yup!) and she does everything in her own time. Everything. Bless her.

I know now that it doesn’t matter what stage of life we’re in. Odds are, when Harper shows an interest in using the potty chair, it’ll be while we’re in the midst of some chaos or other. Our son starting school or some other life upheaval. But, as with all things in life, we can’t control or account for these things; we can just do our best to navigate the waters when the tide gets rough.

This is also a general lesson I’ve learned from having more than one child (and, well, dealing with life overall) – a second or third child still has to be allowed their time to reach milestones and grow amid the chaos and distractions of the usual day-to-day routine.

I always respected my mother for realizing this for my siblings and I. There were four of us (I was the last) and she was dealing with an extremely difficult situation when my father passed, but despite all the upheaval and stress and, well, everything, she still took the time to appreciate and participate in our achievements or simply be there for us during the tough moments – learning to tie my shoes, “singing” my first made up song, the first day of kindergarten, a scary tonsillectomy, and so on. I remember that she still made a fuss for it all even though she’d been through much of it three times before.

While I also know that there was a time that children simply potty trained earlier, I realize that I can’t explain to a 2-year-old that, “Hey…hey, hon. Fifty years ago you would’ve been out of diapers by now, so let’s get with it.” Life simply doesn’t work that way. While I do believe that cloth diapers tend to help a child “feel” the action of pottying better than disposables, I still think that every child does these things in his or her own way.

Plus, for an admittedly selfish reason, I’m in no hurry to say goodbye to the cuteness and ease of our diapering days. While I obviously won’t hinder our daughter’s development just to keep those bright prints and colors on her bum, I’m enjoying them while I can!

Just like I’m enjoying the cuddles and cuteness of this stage she’s currently in while it lasts.

Who else is in no hurry to potty train their little one? How old are they? Are my reasons completely silly?


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!