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Written by Mama Monday

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

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!


One of the not-so-guilty pleasures that come with using cloth diapers is the fun expression that we can display with them. Y’know. On our kids’ bums. Ahem.

 

It’s true, though, isn’t it? When you see a new print and think, “OMG that goes perfectly with my LO’s nursery theme! Are they reading my MIND?!”

 

Or, “they finally came out with the perfect shade of blue that goes with 90% of my baby’s wardrobe.” Then you shout it from the rooftops – and by rooftops I mean social media.


So, why not use Valentine’s Day as the perfect excuse to show your love of your little one – and cloth?

Here’s a little Thirsties inspiration to help you do just that:

Thirsties Love Notes

Love Notes is Thirsties’ latest limited edition print that shows a sweet graphic version of a valentine. Its colors also lend well to either gender (not that we believe that colors align with any particular gender). It’s a win-win, really.

 

thirsties holiday collection


Scarlet is another great style that baby can sport all year, but that looks particularly great on Valentine’s Day. It also does double-duty at Christmastime.

Iris offers a more subdued way to match baby’s Valentine’s Day outfit – by offering a gorgeous purple. This diaper has tons of versatility, but I just can’t get over the perfect shade of purple it is. *swoon*

 

Thirsties Cloth Diapers

Straight to My Heart is another limited release that, if you’re lucky enough to have gotten your hands on it, is absolute Valentine’s Day perfection. Arrows? A rich red? Hearts? What more do you need?

 

Poppy is the perfect color pink for the sweetheart in your life. It’s not too bubble gum, not too salmon, not too deep – like the Goldilocks of pink diapers.

Last but not least is a personal (sadly retired) favorite, Scottish Rose. It’s Thirsties “old school” and is a mix of traditional with a fun, bright twist. Plus, I’m part Scottish, so of course I’m partial. 😉

Am I the only one who loves coordinating with traditional holiday colors?! And if you have any of these retired prints, I’m full-blown jealous. 😉 P.S. I’ve heard you can scour B/S/T pages and trusted Thirsties vendors for these old gems – but feel free to share where you find them!

This will be the first year ever that we’ll be sending valentines to school with our preschooler to hand out. For snack time, we’re usually “those parents” that send in organic raisins or applesauce cups (our son recently begged us to send in pretzels…my goodness, what have we DONE to the poor kid, LOL). So, I’m doing my best to get his input to see what he’d actually LIKE to give. If he settles on some store-bought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle version, that’s fine.

However, I’ll be showing him these ideas to see if he’s interested in getting hands-on in making some for his friends, instead. Maybe your little one will want to do the same!

DIY “You’re a Star” Stamp Valentines by It’s Always Autumn

These are great ones for your kids to help with because they’re simple, it utilizes fun stamping (which, shhhhh, helps with fine motor skills!), and they’re downright adorable. Starburst candy optional!

DIY “Have a Ball” Valentines by Dandee

 An adorable, sweet way to wish a friend “Happy Valentine’s Day!” without candy? Supplement a toy! And a classic rubber ball at that? What’s not to love?

You’re Grrrrreat Pirate Valentines by Mer Mag

O. M. G. SO CUTE! Kids can help place the heart eye patch or glue/tape the candy to the back (you’ll want to do the stitching part yourself).

Have a Colorful Valentine by Relocated Living

Here’s one that ALL the kids can “make” on their own! Another great non-candy alternative, it gives kids their own crayons and asks them to color their OWN valentine. Love it!

Superhero Lollipop Valentines by Naturally Educated

I would probably cut out a variety of colors of cardstock to use as capes and masks and not worry about the particular superheroes, but this site has a good idea for the little superhero in your life.

Love Bug Valentines by Dandee

What kid doesn’t think bugs are cool? I LOVE that the valentine is in the shape of a jar and that kids are left with their own cool bug toy that will last long after Valentine’s Day.

Three Cute DIY Valentines by Rae Ann Kelly

This link actually provides PDFs for THREE adorable valentine ideas. I love the googly-eyed glasses, but the heart fingerprints and “smartie” cards are great ideas, too.

 I can already guess which one my son will pick. (Hint: He’s a superhero guy, although the star prints may be a close second.) These are all simple enough for little hands to help with and will allow kids to feel invested in the valentine-giving activity.

Hope these help to make your Valentine’s Day a happy one this year!

What will you hand out this year? Store-bought or homemade? Candy, quirky, or favorite character-based?