Skip to Content

0

Written by Mama Monday

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

By far, one of our family’s favorite times is bath time. Our kids are just over 1 year and 4 years old, respectively, and are still at that “90% of the time we’re best friends” phase, so even if we wanted to keep them apart during bath time, it’d be impossible. Our daughter will literally try to climb into the tub with her clothes on; that girl is tenacious. So, splash time it is!

But, I recently realized that we’ve turned one of the funnest activities for our kids into a learning time, as well. Aside from just getting the kiddos clean, their toys and games have become learning tools. Here are our favorites…

Foam Letters and Numbers – The easiest (and least messy) way to get your kiddos learning during bath time is to get a set (or two) of foam letters and numbers. They help kids unknowingly work on letter and number recognition, spelling, early phonemic awareness, and even simple mathematics. I can’t count how many times our son will put something on the wall and start sounding out a nonsensical word or ask how to spell something. I’ll often put up a simple blending word like “at” and ask him to create other words by adding a letter.

Oh, and while our daughter enjoys chewing on these, she also gets a thrill out of watching her brother manipulate

Bath Crayons – Okay, these are admittedly far messier than the foam alternative (tip: Wash them off the wall immediately or else you’ll have TONS of scrubbing to do later) but they are by far the most creative option for your budding Picasso or Hemingway. Our son was still pretty apprehensive about drawing (which is weird since he’s a creative, verbal little guy) but when we let him use the bath crayons, we end up with huge murals all over the wall. He gets to write his name as BIG as he wants it. He practices other letters. It’s the most passionate we see him about his alphabet and words, so while it’s too messy to do EVERY bath time, it’s a fun treat for those nights that we’re swimming in extra time…pun totally intended.

Color-Change Toys – We have one toy that changes color when it’s in a different water temperature. So, it goes from a “dirty” brown truck when it’s dry (or doused with cold water in the sink) to a “clean” pretty blue when it’s warm. Even when I’m looking for some spare time to cook dinner or do laundry, I’ll often have our son head to a sink with his stool to play with it. It’ll keep him busy for a surprising amount of time.

This is actually reaching several parts of his brain (and his sister’s when it’s used in the bath – they’re both enthralled). It’s teaching cause and effect as well as scientific processes. Plus, it’s admittedly pretty cool.

Cups for Days – Cups are the best. We’ve got some stacking ones that helped our son learn patterns as well as cause and effect (they have small holes in the bottom so the water drains out slowly). We also have some old measuring cups, a cup with a spout, and several sizes of cups/bowls that they can use to fill and dump to their heart’s desire. Oh, and they’re also the easiest way we’ve found to rinse off the kids’ hair. #themoreyouknow

Bath Books – Our daughter will use these as much as a chew toy as anything else, but she’ll occasionally point aggressively at a squishy page and utter a noise of recognition – “oooOOOOooo!!!” or a growl (which is sometimes pretty accurate if it’s an animal) – to which we’ll tell her what she’s pointing at. As with most books at her age, we’ll read a word or two off the page or use it to ask her a question. All very unstructured, but the learning is still happening.

A Variety of Toys – As I mentioned, I kind of accidentally realized that we had provided our kids with educational toys; it wasn’t really intentional. While we want our kids to learn and develop with a growing knowledge base in mind, our ultimate goal is a “learn through play” philosophy. (I’m an educator, so I know there’s more than enough time for tests and pressure later on.) If our kids aren’t having fun working on their letters, they’re more than welcome to switch to spraying each other with squeeze toys. However, by providing a variety of types of toys (ones that sift, ones that pour and contain, ones that squirt, ones that stick on the wall, ones they can manipulate), they’re able to choose what concept they’re learning about, and you don’t have to actually “teach” them about it – it’s all hands-on, self-directed, and constructive.

So, you don’t have to actually spend a ton or get a million toys. An old kitchen measuring cup, washcloth, and squirt toy are fine. If you want more, that’s fine, too. (We love the Green Toys submarine, in particular; not an ad, we just love it that much.) You don’t have to buy a kazillion toys (and pick up the same amount later, ugh) for your kids to have a fun – and, as it happens, educational – bath time experience.

And, as always, never underestimate the coolness factor of water slowly spiraling down the drain. So cool!

How do your kids spend bath time? What’s their favorite bath toy?

CD101 TITLE
The world of cloth diapering can be a lonely one. Even if your parents used cloth (as did mine), the game has changed SO much that much of what was done has completely changed. Sure, a few people still use pins with prefolds, but rubber pants are almost non-existent these days in favor of comfy, adorable covers, wraps, and pockets. When I asked my mother about her cloth experience, we realized how utterly different things had become – which means more choices, better technology, and greater options for your own baby’s needs today.

Luckily, there are communities like our Thirsties Official Facebook Page and Thirsties Groupies Official Fan Chat that allow us to share our love of cloth diapers, as well as our questions and concerns.

But, sometimes posting so publicly can be intimidating, especially for folks who are new to cloth. Sometimes you just need a concise but thorough spot that provides the answers you’re looking for, right?

That’s why I thought I’d bring your attention to one of my favorite areas of the Thirsties site. I find myself heading back to Thirsties’ Cloth Diapering 101 all the time when I’m wondering about trying a different style (we mostly use AIOs but when our daughter started going through changes in her diet and sleep habits, I thought about switching things up) or am simply wondering about the best way to wash the dipes. Oh, and I always share the link with any friends who may be expecting or who have shown interest but have no idea where to start in their cloth diapering journey.

Thirsties Natural NB AIO Newsletter

Whether you’d like to educate an expecting mother who’s asked your advice or to let a critic know your reasons for cloth diapering, the first “Why Choose Cloth” section is a link that I always keep nearby. This does a great job of providing amazing information without over-explaining (which we tend to do when we get excited when we find another cloth diapering parent, right?).

The sections about Cloth Diaper Terms, Types of Cloth Diapers, and Cloth Diaper Accessories give a more thorough definitions and synopses of all things cloth, as well. I particularly love the pros and cons list for the diaper types to help new cloth diapering parents decide what their needs really are. And the FAQ page is chock full of tips, from how many diapers you’ll need to how to keep baby dry through the night to, yes, even how to change a diaper.

Laundering Tips is probably one of the most popular links on the site. By far, the most questions I’ve seen on the internet with regards to cloth diapering have been about cleaning them, and this page gives a no-nonsense rundown of a good wash routine. I still refer back to it from time to time (like when I recently moved and had to figure out how to wash them in a different type of water).
So, what was your biggest cloth diapering question ever? Where did you get your answer?

CD101 Hero

hygge title
Whether it’s the post-holiday slump or just the general malaise that comes with the cold winter season, it’s easy to feel down this time of year. It’s been debated, but it’s generally felt that the lack of sunshine and warmth has both emotional and physical effects on us.


This said, I’ve always wondered how this might compare for people living in the Scandinavia. You know – places that are known for having super long dark winter days. Well, you might already have heard of hygge (pronounced similar to “hue-ga”), a philosophy in Denmark that translates to coziness, a welcoming atmosphere, and enjoying the good things in life.

Odds are you’ve already experienced hygge without even realizing it. Christmastime (and all the songs that describe it) is the perfect explanation of how to get your hygge on. It’s the time of year that we most embrace and enjoy the chill of winter (and the warmth of snuggling up inside) with far less complaining and dread.

So, here are some ways to put some more hygge into your family’s winter (although you can still experience the philosophy year-round, too).

hygge hero 

Good food. For the adults, this might mean a nice wine or warm spiced drink of some sort; for children, some hot chocolate (with mounds of whipped cream) would do the trick. A roast or favorite stick-to-your-ribs meal will also up the cozy factor. This is pretty much the idea of comfort food, through and through, and slowing down to enjoy it.

Don’t avoid people. Isn’t it weird how we almost never see or speak to our neighbors during the winter? We just moved to our new house and we’ve met one or two of them, once. “It’s just part of winter,” we assume. And it is.

But this doesn’t have to be so. Avoiding social situations is an easy way to get into the winter slump. So, make it a point to have friends or family over, even though it’s after the holidays. Or go meet up to enjoy some snowy outside fun.

Up the cozy factor. This is where many websites and stores have commercialized on hygge, big-time, but you can use what you have to create a comfortable setting. For nights in with your family, pull out blankets and pillows to make things more comfortable. If you have a working fireplace, make use of it. Use candles (safely) to set a glowing, cozy mood.

Less style, more comfort. Maybe you’re used to putting on a nicer outfit when friends are coming over. Instead, let them know that comfort is the name of the game and follow suit yourself – wear your favorite cozy sweater and soft socks. Go for your favorite pair of jeans that feel the best. Or go full-on pajama party – the kids’ll love that!  

Fun but casual. Don’t overplan your get-togethers. Ask your kids what their favorite activity is and be open to it. I recently taught my son how to play “Connect 4” and we kept playing until bedtime. Pull out arts and crafts and let your child be the master of his own creativity. Time together doesn’t have to be Pinterest-perfect to be fun.


These are just a few ways to embrace hygge this winter. We’d love to hear your favorite comfy winter activity in the comments, and we hope you have a super cozy new year!

simplifying-go-green-title


As 2017 begins, many of us are setting goals and resolutions for the new year. One that I’m seeing pop up quite a bit among friends, family, and many bloggers I follow is that they’d like to simplify. In my own case, that’s a constant challenge for our family, especially with the “glut of stuff” that we’ve discovered during our move.

So, I thought today it would be neat to share one of my favorite tips for simplifying – going green! And, odds are, you’re already doing one of these suggestions already. (If you’re on the Thirsties website – and you are – chances are good!)

Why does going green help simplify your life? Some people think that adopting a new lifestyle is actually a huge chore, filled with to-do lists and the purchasing of new stuff to help fulfill it. But, going green is actually the opposite.

Simply put, when you go green, you think about your impact on the Earth. You think about how much you buy, how much waste you create, and how much you actually NEED (vs. want). Oftentimes, when you start analyzing you and your family’s waste, you end up buying less stuff in the long run, using what you have in a wiser way, and enjoying “the little things” tons more.

Here are just a few ways that you can go green to simplify your life in 2017:

Buy cloth diapers. This may seem contradictory to what I said about buying less stuff, but what I really mean is that you buy only what your family needs to get by – and, in this case, one large-ish purchase of cloth diapers will mean hundreds and hundreds fewer dirty diapers in a landfill in the long-term. So, yes, sometimes you have to invest a little, but the dividends far outweigh the initial cost. Plus, never having to buy a box of diapers again definitely simplifies things, doesn’t it??  

adventure-collection-slider
Do a house walk-through. Analyze everything you have in your house. Do your kids play with all their toys? Do you wear every article of clothing? Do you use all of your kitchen utensils? If there’s anything you don’t use, donate it. If there’s anything that could find better use elsewhere (in my house this often means reorganizing baskets and bins), go ahead and adjust. And, of course, anything that’s broken, be sure that you find a way to reuse or recycle it properly to avoid more landfill waste.

Meal plan. Here’s my *simple* method for planning weekly meals. Ready? First, make a list of your family’s favorite meals (namely, dinners). Then, pick 7 that you can use for the next week and jot down any ingredients you’ll need on your shopping list. Bam. That’s it. I don’t even fill out a calendar or anything (I do often put the meals on a dry erase board and check them off depending on what we ate). But, it does help knowing what you’ll be eating for the following week or so in order to buy only what you need. Our food waste can be astounding, so meal planning is a great step to reduce that AND simplify your life.

Use reusable. It sounds so super simple and almost ridiculous to say these days, but by purchasing a reusable water bottle or coffee mug, you will reduce your waste SO MUCH. Just think about it. I’ve fallen into this trap myself (drive-thru is so much easier and I’ve just never asked if they could fill my cup instead…guilty!) but am working to squash this problem. Plus, the BPA-free lining of most reusable options are far healthier for our bodies than many of the styrofoam options. And, of course, the same goes for food storage, lunch bags and boxes, and more. My simplest, greenest favorite? The humble mason jar.

See? Just a few ideas, but all greener ways to simplify your life a bit.

Do you have a favorite tip for simplifying your life? We’d LOVE to hear it in the comments! And, as always, thanks for reading!

About Our “Written by Mama Monday” Blogger: Megan is a wife, mother to two young children, freelance writer, and educator. She shares her attempts at simplifying, among other things, at her blog, Meg Acts Out. When not busy meeting deadlines and chasing cats and kids, she enjoys acting in community theatre (where she met her husband), watching old movies, and sharpening her history buff skills.

simplifying-go-green-hero

word-of-the-year-title

Sometimes it’s a resolution. Sometimes it’s a list of goals. Sometimes it’s simply one word.

Whatever you choose, the coming of a new year is the perfect time to hit the reset button on life and analyze the areas of your life where you’re totally killing it – and where you could use some work.

While I’ve got a ton of areas to work on (don’t we all?!), I like to pick a single word that helps focus my attitude and attack strategy, as it were. This year I also made a casual list of specifics – from finding constructive ways to destress with yoga and essential oils to creating time each week to write – but the ultimate goal can be summed up in one word: POSITIVITY.

Originally, my goal was to “focus” more, but I felt this word encapsulated the true goal of 2017. Many, myself included, found 2016 to be a bummer, or even depressing in its occurrences. The last thing I want is to allow it to continue eating away at my psyche and have adverse affects on my kids, family, work, and more. While much of what happens in the world is terrifying and out of my control, there are many things I can do to cultivate positivity (as well as positive change) in my own sphere.

Since the common bond everyone reading here shares is parenthood (some of you are parents-to-be, others have little ones, still more have kids who have outgrown diapers), I’d like to focus on the parenting aspect of our resolutions.

So, in terms of my “word of the year”, I hope to bring joy and positivity back into our family life. To look at discipline as an opportunity for learning (and not just for the child) and to take a step back before tempers flare. To take the dread out of mundane tasks by getting the kids involved or adding an element of fun. To explore our new neighborhood together with an open mind to adventure and possible friendship. To plan a vacation that appeals to all four of us. The list goes on, but I ultimately want to embrace the joyful ages that my kids are currently experiencing (at ages 4 and 1) because we all know well that it goes by without so much as a second thought.

I’m excited to hear what your “word of the year” for your family is this year. Is it a single goal or broader philosophy? Drop us a line in the comments!

word-of-the-year-hero