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How to Survive Pregnancy with a Toddler

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Figuring out how to survive pregnancy with a toddler boy running around me is not a challenge that I thought I would spend that much energy on. I knew it would be hard at times but mamas, bending over the side of the crib to pick up my toddler is incredibly harder than I anticipated. I’m talking about being 30 weeks pregnant while picking up an 18 month old boy from his crib in the middle of the night because his gums hurt from teething.

But as I have progressed throughout this pregnancy, I have realized that I do a lot to help us both get along throughout the day so our home can stay as peaceful as possible. I know there are many Mamas out there who can totally relate to what I’m talking about and I know many of you have tips of your own! If you want to add to our list, read on and then add your comment below!

Here are a few tips to help you not just survive, but thrive while pregnant with a toddler.

They post may contain affiliate links. As always, opinions are all my own. Full disclosure here.

How to Survive Pregnancy With a Toddler. Tips for being pregnant while having a toddler.

1) Start incorporating Independent Play with your Toddler NOW.
I could probably write a whole post about the power of independent play (IP), and if you haven’t looked into this yet, now is the time. You want to start this trait now, no matter the age of your toddler. And if you aren’t sure how your toddler will respond to this, then start now so you can slowly work towards increasing time your toddler will play by himself.

Independent play is simply you letting him explore a few toys on his own, without interaction from you, allowing him to be totally creative on his own in a safe setting. You’re going to want this time to catch your breath or to feed your new baby once she gets here or whatever you need to do. My 18 month old can play by himself for an hour and 15 mins (we use a timer!). We do this almost every day. It is a lifesaver.

2) Don’t be afraid to put everyone to bed earlier than normal so you can go to bed early too.
I think majority of moms are extremely exhausted that first trimester. I know I am! When I was pregnant with Bubby, I could nap or go to bed whenever I wanted. Now that I am chasing Bubby around all day, I am wiped out by the time my husband gets home and he is usually pretty tired himself from a long day at work, so early to bed we all go.

And this can include nap time too. There are some days when I put my toddler down earlier so I could take a nap myself or I just plain needed to lay down for just a little bit. Putting him down 30ish minutes early is not going to hurt anything and I use this opportunity to teach him he needs to quietly lay/rest in the crib until mommy comes to get him. Getting your toddler used to a flexible sleep time with a window of 30 minutes is a tool you’ll want in your belt when your new one arrives!


3) Allow the extra help!
We have fantastic grandparents and relatives who will gladly take our son for a few hours or even for overnight! I have found I used to struggle with this the most when I kept holding on to control too much over my son’s routine. I realized I needed to prioritize what was important to his routine, communicate that to whoever is helping and let the rest go. Plus, I want Bubby to be used to being around those folks so when our new little one comes home, we can all have a little break from time to time.

4) Try to keep up some sort of exercise routine.
I know this can be REALLY hard the first and third trimesters but I’m not saying you need to pop in P90X and listen to Tony Romo blair out your TV. I have found that variety works best for me when I’m battling prego fatigue. A 10 minute pregnancy pilates DVD here, a 30 minute walk outside with my toddler there. Whatever I do, I try to do something 4 days a week. What might that look like for you?

5) Take a risk with intimacy and your spouse!
Each woman has her own experiences during pregnancy and when it comes to sex, this can be especially varying. Some women are raring to go and some women are still searching for their libido. When I say take a risk, I mean take a risk on being intimate with your spouse and forget about the rest. Most men are sensitive to your needs (and comfortable positions!) during this phase. Try not to let tiredness rule out intimacy every time. I know this can be incredibly hard and a sensitive topic for some but take a look and see if intimacy has faded since being pregnant again. I know it did for us and we decided to change things up so we could each stay satisfied and satisfy each other too.

Use this time to try new things or to be more open with your spouse about what works for you right now as your body is changing. I can personally say that when my husband wants to be intimate with me and I have no desire to be sexual, I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt and things almost always turn out better than I thought. Just something to think about! 😉 Feeling sexually fulfilled while you feel like a giant walking watermelon can give you an amazing boost during this tiring time, especially knowing your spouse feels good too!

6) Start planning now instead of wondering and worrying about what it will be like when baby arrives!
I tend to ask myself a lot of questions about what will I do if this situation arises with our new baby and how will I handle Bubby in the process. I am a planner by heart so coming up with possible ideas incase the need arises down the road reduces a lot of stress for me. The balance of all this is realizing that things may not go at all how you expected and that’s OK! Learning to adapt to a change of plans is such a vital tool, and I imagine this is ESPECIALLY TRUE when planning for your new baby’s arrival.

Some things to start planning ahead now:

  • Bulk freezing meals and/or snacks for your household, especially your toddler.
  • Create a general menu of a week or two of meals so whoever may help you take care of your toddler can have a reference point (I am doing this for my husband too!).
  • Checklist of new items you’ll need to get for new baby that can’t be reused from your first baby.
  • Independent Play (mentioned above) for your toddler.
  • Consider having help come by once or twice a week to help with some household chores the first couple of months. I plan on having our teenage babysitter come once a week to sweep, do laundry, dust, vacuum, etc. (Teenage girl is cheaper than maid service I would imagine!)
  • Bulk buy items that are a pain in the butt to run to the store for when you run out. I did this recently with a huge pack of a TWO MONTH SUPPLY of diapers! Whoot! We also bought bulk deodorant, toothpaste, trash bags, etc. Household items like this give me a peace of mind, knowing I wont need to worry about buying them while I’m sleep deprived.
  • Start creating busy bags or simple daily activities you can easily do with your toddler when baby is sleeping or feeding.

7) You might want to start changing up your daily routine with your toddler.
When I first found out I was pregnant, Bubby was taking two naps still. I never got too sick during that first trimester but boy I would get so exhausted mid-morning. There were mornings I would put him down a little earlier than he probably needed so I could rest for a few extra minutes. We also normally had a mid-morning snack that I slowly moved up so we could just eat lunch earlier together because it helped me fight fatigue. Having an earlier lunch helped me a lot that first trimester!

Also, before I found out I was pregnant, we would get out pretty much every day and do an errand or two or go on a playdate. As I have progressed in my pregnancy, I can’t quite keep up with that every day business. I have started more at home activities with him so we can get used to being home more which will be the case when Sissy arrives (at least in the beginning). It helps me feel more rested now and will help us adjust to being homebodies when she is born!

I know we could add so much more to our list! What would Mamas like to add? Let us know in the comments below! And if you’d like to get tips like this straight to your inbox, click here and join our Mom Tribe.
Peace,
Glo

Toys That Will Develop Your Toddler’s Motor Skills

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Bubby has really exploded with his gross motor skill development and his ability to manipulate items with the dexterity in hands. He’s progressing so quickly that I can hardly keep up! He is 18 months old now and I am finding he is walking that line of toys that are either too advanced or toys not advanced enough.

I am always looking for toys that can be used for a long time as he discovers new ways to use them and I like toys that are a sound quality that will last a long time. So when I came across a sale at Melissa and Doug’s and discovered I could peruse toys based on age, category, or skill development, I immediately whipped out the credit card to make some purchases. I even bought a small round to keep for Christmas morning and for his 2nd birthday next summer! Bonus points to me!

What I love about Melissa and Doug

  • Many of their toys are made of a nice solid wood that hold up really well with a rambunctious boy who may or may not throw things a lot.
  • I love how they have toy descriptions and learning opportunities detailed on the back of many of their toys so parents can easily see the multiple ways to teach skills to their children.
  • Several of their gross motor and dexterity toys are basic colors so you can reinforce color recognition with your child.
  • They have an amazing customer service for any questions you may have about a product.
  • They have awesome resources directly on their site to give you ideas on how to incorporate their toys with your kids.

What I don’t love about Melissa and Doug

  • Most of the time I’m OK with their pricing because I know the toys will last forever, but sometimes it gets a little high for my pocket.
  • I wish they had more of a variety of toys for children before the 12 month old range.
  • They don’t offer rain checks during sales. So if you really want a particular item during one of their sales and it’s out of stock, then you’re out of luck until it’s available again.

Here are some of our favorite toys that have gotten reused in different ways since Bubby turned one and still uses today at 18 months and I know will still get used until he’s at least two years old, if not until later!

(This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are always my own. See full disclosure here.)


Stack & Sort Board
I purchased this for Bubby back when he was around 12 months old. I noticed he really started getting into stacking and I thought this would be a good place to start. You can click on pics to enlarge them. 🙂

This stacking toy is great because now he uses it to focus sliding the small blocks on the rings and as he grows, we can continue to work on his color recognition AND work on his numbers by counting the correct number of blocks on each specific ring. I like how they have the numbers color coded on the front of each stacking pillar. This is a toy that will certainly last until his close to three years old. You can see it here!

Pound & Roll Tower
This has been a fun toy that has required me to be patient and just let Bubby explore his dexterity development a little bit. I gave this to him when he was about 14 months old and he really wasn’t quite ready for it. He just wanted to walk around banging stuff. BUT I gave it another go a month later and modeled for him how to use the toy and he started to catch on. You can look up the tower here.

Chunky Puzzle
I seriously love M & D’s chunky puzzles. They have a great variety that works for the varying stages of toddlerhood. We have animals ones, a body part one and one I bought and saved back that is the left and right hand with parts for each finger that are numbered for counting! The one below is a current fav with my pre-toddler as he likes to try and get the shapes to fit in the correct spots. I love the colors and how each shape is labeled to0! Check out the puzzles here.

Caterpillar Gears Toddler Toy
This was a fun toy to introduce as Bubby started developing his gross motor skills. He was really into turning knobs and rotating objects so I was excited to pull this one out. He loves it. It’s another one that will be great for when we are really working on color recognition. The gears easily come on and off so he can start to practice matching the colors as he places them on the gears. Check out the gears here.

Toys I’m saving for Christmas and his birthday
* I’m excited to give him this specific Shape Sorting Cube Classic Toy . It’s a little different than a traditional shape sorter with more of a 3D effect and I love the basic colors to reinforce his color recognition.

*Deluxe Pounding Bench Toddler Toy This pounding toy is a little different than the tower. I like that he has more to pound and can work on his pencil holding skills to fit the pegs back into the hole before he can start pounding again.

*We got him these nesting and stacking blocks that we plan to give him for his 2nd birthday. I think he’ll enjoy the race cars that come with it! Check them out here.

*My favorite item I’m most excited about are these toddler stainless steel pots and pans! We have a little play kitchen for him and plan to throw this in with the 2nd birthday party! Woohoo!

So that’s my fav list for toddler toys from Melissa and Doug that I think are perfect to use with your 18 month to 24 month old! What about you mamas? Have any Melissa and Doug favorites or Toddler Favs for this age range?

Toys for Two Year Old. Toys for 18 to 24 month old. Toddler toys to develop motor skills.



Homemade Toddler Fish Sticks with an Extra Healthy Twist

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I hate all things seafood. I am one of those that wishes I liked seafood, but I just can’t bring myself to eat it. I have tried to eat salmon here, trout there, even shrimp. With that confession, I have realized that I want my kids to hopefully have a different experience. So, I decided to start with fish sticks.

Bubby has tried some different types of fish here and there but I wanted to have something easy and accessible to make at home for him. I came across this homemade fish stick recipe and decided to add some of my own favorite extra nutrients to it.

I like to add an extra healthy dose of sweet potatoes for flavor with added quinoa and flax seed!

Check out these sneaky, extra healthy homemade fish sticks! What’s great about these is that you can totally and easily make them in bulk and freeze them. Then, when you need a quick lunch for your toddler, you can grab them from the freezer and zap in the microwave for only a minute!

I like this recipe too because we use a hand masher and that lets Bubby get involved in the cooking!

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are always my own. See full disclosure here.

Homemade Fish Sticks Your Toddler will LOVE with an extra healthy Twist! Homemade Toddler Fish sticks!

 

INGREDIENTS
3 to 5 Large Sweet Potatoes, boiled and peeled
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa
1 can of Tuna (I prefer canned tuna in water)
2 Tablespoons of flax seed
3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
4 Tablespoons of melted butter
breadcrumbs (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

STEP ONE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Personally, I like to utilize my time when I make this, especially since I typically make them during nap time. While you’re prepping the potatoes, go ahead and get your quinoa cookin and stewin. I peel the sweet potatoes with a knife. It’s just easier that way since they are such a tough potato. Once I peel and dice my sweet potatoes, I get them boiling just like I am making mashed potatoes.


STEP TWO: Go ahead get a large bowl, add the tuna, melted butter, flax seed, and cheddar cheese. Once the sweet potatoes and quinoa are done cooking, add them to the tuna mixture. You can use beaters or a hand masher to bring it all to a smooth consistency.

STEP THREE: Get your breadcrumbs out.
Quick digression on breadcrumbs! (I use homemade ones from my homemade bread. Also, it’s super easy to make homemade breadcrumbs from simple ingredient store bought bread. If you look at the ingredients on actual store bought breadcrumbs, it’s crazy! You’re better off making it from a loaf of bread and then freezing them! They freeze great and will last you a long time!) 
*Spread your breadcrumbs on a plate. Roll the tuna stick mixture into “sticks” and then roll them in the breadcrumbs.

Of course I use my ever trusty silicone baking mats. Seriously, I blab about these ALL THE TIME. Nothing ever sticks and they are soooo easy to clean!

STEP FOUR: once you’ve got them on your cookie sheets, bake them in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until they are crispy and golden on the outside.

STEP FIVE: Once they cool completely, I just leave them on the pan for a while and then stick them in the freezer on the pan. If this doesn’t work for you, you could layer them on wax paper in Freezer Ziploc bags and lay them flat in your freezer.

TO EAT: Just pull out a few, cover them with a napkin and zap them for about one minute. Always check the center for hot spots as potatoes seem to have those easily. Trust me. I know from experience!

I love how the sweet potato adds a subtle sweet flavor that masks the quinoa (which can be slightly bitter).

What about you ladies? Any tips to add to our fish sticks?
Peace,
Glo

My Favorite Must Haves for Toddlers to Help in the Kitchen

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Something happened when Bubby started walking when he was about 12 months. He had to be EVERYWHERE I was. And if you know anything about being home with a toddler, a lot of time can be spent in the kitchen fetching snacks, figuring out lunch, surviving meltdown hour until dinner time…

In order to avoid having my clothes tugged on until they were two sizes two big and milk spilled on my shoes, I decided I needed to change my game plan. I needed to help Bubby develop as my kitchen helper. So I did what any good mama does and started googling, looking for tips.

I came away realizing that having kitchen utensils that actually allow my toddling son to feel like he is part of what I’m doing would definitely outweigh the costs. I want him to feel comfortable and confident in the kitchen when we’re cooking. Here are a few of my favorite items!

(This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are always my own and unbiased. See full disclosure here.)

Items and Ideas for Toddlers in the Kitchen. Items for your Toddler to help in the kitchen.

Learning Tower
I absolutely love having a learning tower and I wish I would have bought one sooner. It is by far my favorite toddler kitchen item. If you start looking up learning towers, you’ll find lots of different options out there. I wasn’t too concerned about having one that he could climb in and out of by himself, but I did want one that was smaller and wouldn’t take up a lot of room in our kitchen. I found this one on Etsy and enjoyed that I could customize the colors.
img_0020 img_0041 img_0039The biggest thing I would complain about this learning tower is that at first, I thought I would like how narrow it was so I felt like he was safer while standing with me. After having it for a while, I wish I would have purchased one like this. Yes, it’s bigger, but it’s foldable and I think I would have liked that feature better.

As you can tell, the width doesn’t hinder him from being able to enjoy what he helps me cook with! 🙂

Toddler Weaning Table
This toddler table or as many call it, “weaning table” is definitely my second favorite item. We keep it stashed in corner of our kitchen, and I love how I can just slide it over by the cabinets so he can work on whatever he is “cooking” while I’m cooking. This is especially helpful to have if I’m doing something that is hot over the stove and need him to be occupied with his own task. I can just set him with something easy (like sorting pasta or rice, he LOVES doing that!) and get supper going!
img_0043I also love this table because as he is getting older, he can carry his snacks over to the table by himself and eat on his own. We practice some Montessori in our house and this table helps with that a lot too. I love the versatility it brings and the independent training it offers too! Plus, once you start looking at toddler tables, I felt the price point was decent.

Toddler Approved Kitchen Utensils
I keep a draw like this just for Bubby’s stuff. I can easily grab what I need if we’re cooking a certain item so he can start helping me right away. Here is a list of regular go-to items that you’ll find in his drawer. I bought most of these from Wal-Mart and Amazon too!

  • Silcon spatulas–Wal-Mart has a great selection of these mini sized cooking utensils. As you can see I stalked up on spatulas, whisks and tongs!
  • Baking Utensils are kept with all my other baking supplies. I absolutely love this set and Bubby particularly likes the rolling pin. Right now he sort of whacks the counter with it, but you know, he’ll get there. 😉
  • Strawberry Slicer–Some folks might think this is silly or unsafe, but as he has gotten older and more in control with his motor skills, this slicer has been the bomb. He LOVES pushing down on it and watching the strawberries squish through! And bonus, he can eat what he slices!
  • This hand held fruit and veggie chopper made me nervous at first. But as he has grown, he loves cutting bananas with it. Again, this is one of those skills they develop and if you know anything about Montessori, you know this isn’t unusual to see toddlers use these kinds of utensils.
  • One of my other top favorite items is this tater masher. I used to use beaters to make our mashed potatoes, but now Bubby gets a big kick out of smashing them for us with his own masher.

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As you can see, I keep a jar with a lid and a small bowl of pasta so he can do his little “sorting” game he does. This is one of those of quick items I grab when I’m cooking something hot and I need him to be independent from what I’m doing.

Toddler Apron
If you’re going to be doing all that cooking, then you can’t go wrong with this laminated Toddler apron. It didn’t even occur to me to get one until a friend of mine kind said one time, “uh you know they make kid aprons, right?”. This one works just right for us and I like that I can wipe it clean.

Alrighty, mamas, let’s hear it. What would you add? What are some of your favorite items to have in the kitchen with your littles? Let’s chat in the comments below!

Peace,
Glo

Quick Tips You Need to Help Reduce Toddler Tantrums

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Ohhhh the toddler days. Threenagers. Terrible (or Terrific!) Twos. Whatever kind of animal you’re dealing with you as you go through toddlerhood, I think many of us can relate to toddler tantrums. I am so happy to have a guest post today to offer you some quick tips on ways to defuse a toddler tantrum.

I met Heather through a mom’s group on Facebook. I was desperate for help with Bubby and his napping and she has literally saved me! Once I started communicating with her more through the group, I did what anyone would do and stalked her profile 🙂

I found out that she is an advocate for Love and Logic. I had heard about L and L when I was a teacher and used bits and pieces of the philosophy in my classroom. It never occurred to me to think about using some of those skills when it came time to discipline my son. Just like any parenting advice, you take what you want and leave what you don’t need. Heather’s tips today are ones you’re going to want to add to your toolbox!

Heather has shown great patience with the many moms she has helped through our mom’s group. She encourages you to review what you’re doing and see what works best for your children. I have seen it in her comments to other moms over and over. If you are interested in more of what Heather has to offer, you definitely should check out her Facebook page she has listed below.

If you are interested in knowing more about Love and Logic, this book is a great starter that introduces the foundation of its philosophy. I’ll let Heather finish the rest!

reducetoddlertantrumspin

 

 

PARENTING & CHOICES: The More Control You Give, the More Control You Get

It’s split in the parenting world about what parents think of giving children choices.  Some parents feel like it creates choice addiction, or that kids should just do as they’re told.  Others believe giving choices empowers children in the decision-making process, thus creating a more cooperative child.

Giving my children choices is my secret weapon.  I’m a mom of two energetic, brilliant, and some may say strong-willed (gasp!) children, ages 3 and 22 months.  I am also a facilitator for the Love and Logic Early Childhood Parenting Made Fun Curriculum. I have enjoyed presenting a different way to view parenting and giving parents simple tools that are life changing.

Choices is one of those tools.

The interesting thing about control is the more you give, the more you get.  The more control you can give your toddlers, the less likely they are to experience tantrums from feeling “powerless.” The reality is, picking their own color of cup or deciding if they want to skip to the car or sing to the car as you leave the library, can empower your toddler while defusing a tantrum.

So how can we as parents use that to our advantage? The secret is giving your child small choices throughout the day so you can make “withdrawals” on the larger issues.  However, things can go very wrong if choices are not used properly.  Here are a few quick tips you can start using now to reduce upset toddlers.

  1. Give 99% of choices when things are going smoothly. Don’t wait until all hell has broken loose at bedtime to start giving choices!

  2. Provide choices on issues that are not dangerous or cause a problem for any else.  Always provide two choices that you can live with.

  3. If the child does not choose in 10 seconds, choose for the child.  For example, if your child hesitates too long  when asked, “would you like milk or water?”, respond, “looks like milk.” Pour the milk. So what happens when the child throws a major fit because you chose? No problem! Respond with a simple, “I know, it’s hard.  I bet next time you’ll make a fast choice!” And move on.

  4. It never fails that your child will want to choose the invisible “Option C.” Respond by repeating your choices and choose for the child if no appropriate choice is made.

There’s two types of choices I have pinpointed- choices that really don’t matter to you, the parent (“red cup or blue cup?”) and choices that are preceding a power struggle.  Make sure you try to include similar styles of choices throughout your day! Then when you know certain situations are always power struggles, start out with a choice. “Time to take a bath! Do you want to hop like a bunny to the bathtub or crawl like a bear?”

When I do this in my home, I can actually see my child’s brain go from “NO!” to actively thinking about which choice he’s going to make.

Brainstorm choices ahead of time so you will be ready when the situation arises.

Here’s a few ideas for choices you can incorporate in your daily routine.

“Would you like milk or water with breakfast?”

“Are you going to put your shirt on first or your pants on first?

“Are you going to wear your red shorts or your blue ones?”

“Do you want a story before bed or no story?”

“Do you want your night-light on or off?”

“Do you want to — now or in 2 minutes?” (This is a great choice for transitions)

“Do you want to walk to the car by yourself or do you want me to carry you?”

“Do you want to hop like a bunny or crawl like a bear to the bathroom?” (Get creative!!)

Go ahead, offer your child some choices and watch your child’s face light up as the ball is in their court! I’d love to hear some testimonies of how choices have worked for your family! To catch videos and tips of me using L & L with my kids, be sure to check out my Facebook Page.

I’d love for you to stop and post any success you’ve had to encourage other parents! Also, you are welcome to contact me through my page with any questions about parenting struggles you’re facing.

As always, let us know any tips or successes you’ve had in the comments below!