Book Review: Cat & Nat’s Mom Truths

The other day I watched my four-year-old have a complete meltdown because the dog looked at him. Yup, the dog looked at him. His freak out caused my two-year-old to throw his cup (which broke and leaked everywhere) across the playroom crashing into the wall causing another wave of crocodile tears. These are the real moments of motherhood – raw, ridiculous, and ruthless.

I took to social media that day not to share this wild mishap, but an adorable photo of my kids reenacting the entire production of Baby Shark. Like many of us, I slapped a filter on life and gave you what you wanted to see – a fantasy-land of parenting. Let’s be honest, we need more reality in focus, because motherhood is a wonderful, yet extremely messy experience.

I recently got my hands on a copy of Cat & Nat’s Mom Truths – Embarrassing Stories and Brutally Honest Advice on the Extremely Real Struggle of Motherhood, by dynamic duo Catherine “Cat” Belknap and Natalie “Nat” Telfer. Cat and Nat give it to you straight in this hilarious collection of REAL motherhood anecdotes. This journey from pregnancy to toddlerdom will leave you rolling on the floor in laughter.

Cat and Nat’s Mom Truths

From tips on what you should actually pack in your hospital bag to the realities of Instagram myths on to tips of how to avoid post-partum sex, they give it all to you. With all of these knee-slapping realities, Cat and Nat provide you with the reassurance that you are doing a GREAT job. Motherhood is hard and there is no right way to do it. “There is only your way.”

To be honest, I have been dealing with some personal “mom guilt.” There is no reason for it. I have decided I need to feel guilty, constantly questioning if I’m doing enough for my kids, if working is ruining my children’s lives, if the tone I had with my toddler will negatively impact him for the rest of his life…you know normal thoughts (she said with sarcasm). When I dove head first into this book, I didn’t realize how much it would put me in check. I’m no longer sweating the small stuff. I love my kids, they love me, and well hell, that’s enough! So, Cat and Nat – thank you! Thank you for sharing these truths in a captivating and entertaining way. I can look at myself and say, “you are mom enough!”

Grab your favorite drink (black coffee for me), your favorite treat, shed the mom guilt, and indulge in this delightfully raw capture of what motherhood is REALLY like. Now available for purchase, get your copy of Cat & Nat’s Mom Truths today! >> Cat & Nat’s Mom Truths <<

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GET YOUR COPY OF CAT & NAT’S MOM TRUTHS TODAY

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Kids – Toddlers and Preschoolers

I am one of those parents that celebrates every holiday. When it’s Earth Day we are outside picking up litter off the ground at our local park. On Mardi Gras, this mama is making beignets. The luck of the Irish is upon us when we hunt for our pot o’ gold on St. Patrick’s Day. Our house turns into a spectacular delight during my favorite holiday, Halloween. You get the idea – I LOVE to CELEBRATE!

Valentine’s Day is no different. The boys pass out valentines a school and share in delicious treats and juice with their friends at their school’s Valentine’s Day party. With all of the fun celebration, I still like to shower my little love bugs with a bag of goodies without breaking the bank. While their gift bags have the traditional heart-shaped candies and novelty items, I like to personalize each gift based on their likes. This can be difficult when their preferences are always changing, but this year, I think I’ve got it perfected (she said humbly)!

As a self-proclaimed bargain shopping queen, I like to look for the best deal without compromising the quality of the gift. Before the 14th sneaks up on us unexpectedly, I wanted to give you an inside look to my Target Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for my toddler and preschooler.

Toddler Treats: My youngest is currently watching Coco on loop and he loves his bedtime books, so it seemed appropriate to get A Little Golden Book of his favorite movie. He also loves lip balm and the Target Bullseye Section has the perfect set of five lip balms for $3. The kid is constantly misplacing his lip balm, so this way he will have some to spare. The other bits and bobs are fun heart-shaped candies and dinner plate to put a smile on his face.

Disney Pixar COCO A Little Golden Book – $4.99 (+tax) from Target Book Section

Cools As A Crocodile Lip Balm Set – $3.00 (+tax) from Target Bullseye Section

Trolli Sour Brite Hearts – $1.00 (+tax) from Target Seasonal Section

Friendasaurus Heart Plate – $1.00 (+tax) from Target Bullseye Section

Sweetarts – $1.00 (+tax) from Target Bullseye Section

Total – Roughly $12.00

Preschooler Presents: My oldest is obsessed with Tsum Tsum figurines and recently Target has been clearing house to make room for the new blind bags and playsets. You have to dig, but I found this set on MEGA clearance in aisles of the Target Toy Section. Additionally, he LOVES alligators/crocodiles, so I had to grab him as much gator gear as I could. Lucky for me, reptiles were a big part of the Target Bullseye Section this year.

Disney Tsum Tsum The Palace of Agrabah – $4.48 (+tax) on clearance from $14.99 in Target Toy Section

Trolli Sour Brite Hearts – $1.00 (+tax) from Target Seasonal Section

Cool As A Crocodile Heart Plate – $1.00 (+tax) from Target Bullseye Section

Sweetarts – $1.00 (+tax) from Target Bullseye Section

Cool As A Crocodile Sticker Sheet – $1.00 (+tax) from Target Bullseye Section

Total – Roughly $10.00

I would say these boys are going to be thrilled with their gifts, and this mama didn’t break the bank which is something I’m proud of (pats herself on the back). What would you include in your Valentine’s Day gift guide? Let me know in the comments below.

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How To Limit Screen Time

How to Limit Screen Time for Kids

I’m guilty! Put me in handcuffs and throw me in the slammer. I have relied on the power of screen time to get me through those rough episodes in public, whiny times at home, and the occasional “will you stop if I give this to you?” moments of parenthood.

I’ve read the research and I know excessive screen time is no beuno when it comes to the little ones. I have worked to be more intentional in limiting screen time, but not necessarily eliminating it all together. I believe there are benefits to watching educational shows or playing learning apps. My oldest can name at least ten types of whales and tell you the difference between an octagon and hexagon – he’s only three. With this said, I don’t want him to turn into a tech zombie before he’s in Kindergarten.

How to Limit Screen Time

Here are five ways to effectively limit screen time for kids:

  1. Break the habit – Make it clear, screen time WILL NOT be a constant. Listen, this may not be the most conventional tactic for all parents, but we’ve never been able to gradually phase out anything in our kid’s lives. My youngest never used a pacifier, but our oldest was an addict. After months of negotiating, we cut him off cold turkey. By day two, there were no complaints or pleas for the paci. Just like the trusty wubbanub, we cut him off from the iPad and life moved on. Instead of grabbing the iPad when he came home from school, he was inspired to play with his toys, build a puzzle, or color a picture.
  2.  Screen time is a treat – If our kids want to watch a movie or their favorite episode of Octonauts, we encourage them to make their beds, clean up the play room, eat all of their dinner (my oldest is a picky eater), or help take care of the dogs. We don’t get what we want just because we want it. It’s a tough lesson, but our preschooler has already established a routine of organization and appreciation. When he gets to sit down with iPad, it’s a treat for hard work.
  3. Incentivize in other ways – Our  three-year-old is strongly driven by incentives. If it’s a sticker or a high five, he wants to be recognized for a job well done. We created a help chart, where he receives a sticker for completing a series of chores, helping his little brother, listening at school, etc. Once he fills up his chart be can exchange his points for a small prize. Lately he has been into Tsum Tsums, so we have been awarding him with a blind bag. He is driven to fill his collection, which in return fills his time and he forgets about wanting to watch Frozen for the hundredth time.
  4. Circulate Toys – OK, so incentives aren’t your thing. One simple way to redirect your child’s attention from the screen is to circulate their toys. This method works for our toddler. By changing out their toys every couple of weeks re-inspires play time. They forget they had those action figures, books, cars, etc. We switch things around about every two weeks and it seems to work.
  5. Set the example – Now, this is the hardest method – eliminating our own use of technology in front of the kids. It’s bad when your three-year-old tells you to put down your phone or step away from the computer (insert parental cringe). Our kids watch our every move and look to us for inspiration. Let’s set the example, and reduce our time on the digital devices. We might even feel better afterwards.

I am making a public vow to reduce my screen time and be more present with my kids, because they are only little for so long. Will you join me and make the pledge today? Let me know in the comments what strategies you will use to limit screen time for your family.

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4 Ways to Teach Kids How to Recycle

The other day I was able to convince my three-year-old to sit down and watch Blue Planet II with me on Netflix. He has a deep love for the ocean (like his mama), but he LOVES to watch Boss Baby, Hercules, and Coco on a loop. It was a grand achievement to get him to watch something outside of his core selection. As we progressed through the episodes, we came to an image of a sea turtle caught inside a pile of trash in the middle of the ocean. As David Attenborough dictated the life and hardships of this turtle, I saw an intense look of worry spread across my child’s face. He could not quite understand why this sea turtle was having to struggle. I had to explain to him that some people do not care for the sea turtles like we do and that others pollute the ocean, impacting all creatures living underneath the surface.

To say he was disappointed in the litterbugs of the world was an understatement. We continued to watch Blue Planet II when suddenly I was smacked across the face with one thought – I have yet to teach my son about recycling.

At this point in the story, I welcome your judgement, because I am ashamed of my actions. I started a Be Green club in high school for heaven’s sake; my son should know how to recycle.

It is never too early to teach our children how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. We have taken a few actions within our household to implement environmentally conscious behaviors that even our one-year-old engages in. Here are the four ways you can introduce recycling to kids.

  1. Recycling container – We have introduced a recycling bin within the house to collect all recyclable objects. We would typically pile them up and take them out to the main bin on the side of the house, but by simply purchasing a storage container, the boys are excited to recycle. They almost fight to see who can put the recyclable in the bin first. WWE championship of recycling.
  2. Get creative – What’s the saying? “Someone else’s trash is another man’s treasure.” With an egg carton, toilet paper roll, and tabs from a can of soda you now have a lively robot, shark, or man-eating dinosaur. Making a creative moment out of recyclables makes learning just a little more fun.
  3. YouTube videos – There is nothing like some screen time to make my kids stop in their tracks. While there are some awesome TV episodes that focus on recycling, there are so many options on YouTube as well. The SciShow Kids channel on YouTube not only has fun and educational videos on a variety of topics, there is a great episode all about “How Recycling Works!” Jessi and her robot Squeaks are great at paving the way for my kids to make smarter decisions when it comes to waste and recycling.
  4. Matching games – My three-year-old is currently obsessed with matching games. Matching like recyclable items, such as aluminum cans, cardboard, plastic bottles, etc. teaches him what can and cannot be recycled. Finding the big green recycling symbol is the “special” match, so he’s always on the hunt!

Since we started this adventure to keep Mother Earth happy and healthy, my kids (at least my preschooler) is a little more conscious about his actions. Before he throws anything away, he asks, “can we recycle this mommy?” It doesn’t matter if you believe in global warming or not, we have a responsibility to take care of this planet. It is vitally important we teach our kids the importance of caring for the earth, so that it is a safe and wonderful place to live in for years and years to come.

How do you reduce, reuse, and recycle in your house? Let me know in the comments below.

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2018 Gift Guide – Preschooler Favorites

Let’s face it, our kids change their holiday list, especially if they are a toddler/preschooler, over and over again. Anticipating what your kid(s) will want for the holidays is almost nearly impossible.  My oldest, who is three, has one constant item on his list this year, OCTONAUTS. Something tells me Santa is going to fulfill those dreams this year but finding other gifts can be tricky. You may or may not be in the same boat, but either way, I can give you some insight to gifts your youngster(s) will LOVE!

Build Me ToysThe Take Apart Firetruck

I am always on the search for toys that challenge my children, but in a fun way. Build Me Toys wraps creativity, problem solving, and hours of fun into each of their toys. Perfect for the little builder, dinosaur connoisseur, or lover of motorized vehicles of all types, Build Me Toys has the perfect (and affordable) toy for you! My oldest spent an entire uninterrupted hour building and taking apart his Take Apart Firetruck. For a three-year-old that is amazing! He was focused on making the best firetruck for his favorite Paw Patrol, Marshall. He proudly displays his Take Apart Firetruck on his bookshelf and looks at it with admiration every single day.

Use the code IG10 for 10% off your order and check them out @buildmetoys on Instagram.

Via Build Me Toys

Mega Bloks

What’s the one toy you can never go wrong getting for your kids? Mega Bloks! For over 30 years, Mega Blok has provided topnotch fun for kids and their parents. On rainy days, we always pull out our Mega Bloks and make towers, forts, or the Great Wall of China. Whatever you can imagine, we’ve probably built it together. Mega Bloks is perfect for all ages and assists in learning colors, counting, and hand eye coordination.

Check out their HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE We recommend both color schemes of the Big Builder Bags (we have both!).

Via Mega Bloks

All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold a& Suzanne Kaufman – Penguin Random House

All Are Welcome is an enlightening book that follows a group of young children through their school day “where everyone is welcomed with open arms.” Not only does it show that school is a safe and caring space for everyone, but it highlights kids from various backgrounds. We LOVE this book in particular, because it shows how they come together to learn from one another. They embrace aspects of life different from their own, such as the celebration of the Lunar New Year, with understanding and appreciation. The illustrations are beyond captivating and my three-year-old wants to read it all the time. This is a book you NEED in your child’s personal library.

Via Penguin Random House

Miffy Night Lamp

I cannot and will not stop talking about the Miffy Night Lamp! My three-year-old who is plagued with night terrors relies on the warm and comforting light of the Miffy Night Lamp to get him through the night. You can pick from different color schemes, classic Miffy blue, yellow, or in our case, my son’s favorite color, ORANGE! With thousands of hours of light, this is a must have for your kids. It’s also adorable.

For fun crafts, games, and songs, check out MiffyFun.com and @miffy_official_usa on Instagram

Via Walmart

V-Tech Activity Touch and Learn Desk

This is really the all-in-one “toy” you need for your kid when it comes to numbers, letters, music, writing, etc. The V-Tech Activity Touch and Learn Desk has really helped us in working with our oldest as he creeps closer and closer to becoming a Kindergartener. With over 200 touch and learn activities and interchangeable activity pages, the amount of fun and learning to be had is endless.

You can now get this bad boy at one of the three mothership locations – Walmart, Target, and Amazon.

Via V-Tech Electronics

Candy Land – Hasbro Games

Who loves a classic game night? I do and now my three-year-old does too. Our go-to game is the childhood classic, Candy Land. He is so determined to make it all the way to King Kandy’s Kastle and gets heartbroken when he doesn’t make it. These classic Hasbro Games such as Candy Land, HiHo! Cherry-O, Chutes and Ladders, etc. are perfect for a family night with your little ones. What’s your favorite board game? Let me know in the comments?

Via Hasbro

If you’re struggling on what to get your kiddos or a child in your life this holiday season, these items are a great place to start and approved by a picky three-year-old 😊

What are your go-to gift recommendations? Let me know in the comments below.

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Finding Balance in a Life of Chaos

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.”
– Thomas Merton

The word balance ironically makes my body wobble back and forth from anxiety. I am at a phase in my life where I have more than enough going on (we all feel like this at some point). On top of being a wife, mom to two little boys, full-time employee, I am also pursuing my master’s degree, which means my evenings are consumed with class and schoolwork. If this schedule gives you a case of the sympathetic anxieties, I certainly understand and appreciate your concern.

Before I graduated high school, back in the day, I was pretty chill and let everything (for the most part) roll off my shoulders. When I started college, I assumed unexplained anxiety and started wearing the weight of the world on my shoulders. No one asked me to; I just felt like I needed to take on the task. Now that I have a family, work, and a continued pursuit of higher education, I am now the mom running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

I often look insane and probably scare away any of the other parents who have their lives together (at least externally). Let’s get real though, social media does not help the overworked and exhausted mama, because only the best is captured by my fellow parents. I am guilty of this as well, but I will take a moment to share a snapshot of finding my one-and-a-half-year-old eating a crayon because I trusted he would be fine in the playroom by himself. Why was he in the playroom by himself? I had to answer a work email on a Saturday. I say all of this because I want, no, I NEED balance.

On this journey of balance, I’ve had a few realizations. Here are the five things you need to do to get started re-balancing your life –

  1. Call on the village: You don’t have to do this on your own. Call on your village to help when needed. Lucky for me, I have a great life partner who steps up all the time. I sure do appreciate him and all that he does, but sometimes he can’t be there because of work or coaching, so I have my family right around the corner to offer additional support. My family drops everything to help pick up the kids, watch the boys when I have a company call later in the evenings, take the boys on adventures when I have school work that has piled up, etc. We are lucky to have them. Don’t feel less than if you need help. We all need help at some point in our lives.
  2. Don’t compare: For many of us, we digest content through social media. For me, I am a lover of Instagram. I love snapshot content. As I mentioned earlier, we cannot put ourselves down if we are not like the Insta moms who have 50K followers, crisp white backdrops, and their cherub babies in perfect poses with rosy red cheeks. I’m lucky to capture a picture of my kids without having to tell them to stop hitting each other, not to pick their noses, to go clean their face, etc. In the same realm, we can’t compare memories made. The memories made of arts and crafts, playing on the playground, visiting the pet store, etc. should not be looked down upon compared to those of parents taking their kids to Disney World, Hawaii, or Time Square in NYC. You are still a great parent, so don’t compare yourself to others. Your kids are going to cherish the time together, no matter what you’re doing.
  3. Maximize your time: Who else loves a planner and calendar? This mama is obsessed. I love to have everything laid out in an easily consumed format. My husband has even tapped into this obsession and created a digital family calendar. We know at the start of everyday what to anticipate. When there are moments of down time, fill them with productive activities, like one-on-one time with the kiddos. I try to make an effort to spend down-time with my kids. If it’s down time during the work day, use the time to look at your to-do lists, consume a podcast, or read for grad school. If you’re like me, I am always concerned that I am using my time effectively, so using your time to care for yourself, spend quality time with the babes, or prep for the future is a great way to not feel guilty about having free time.
  4. Self-care: Take care of yourself! You can’t be a great partner, mom, employee, student, etc. if you’re not taking care of yourself. I make a point to have at least 30 minutes of me time daily. If it’s watching a YouTube video, taking a therapeutic bath, or watching re-runs of the Great British Bake Off (my guilty pleasure), you are becoming the best version of yourself. You are not shellfish; you’re thinking about everyone around you. It’s OK. Go take a bubble bath.
  5. Keeping working: Balance is a hard thing to achieve, so think of this as an effort of achieving fulfillment. Are you living a fulfilled life? Once you feel fulfilled, balance will follow. This is a process, just buckle up for the ride and take everything in stride. You can do this!

Do I currently balanced? No, but I’m getting there and I’m not doing it alone. I have the best group of folks supporting me through this journey. If you don’t think you have the support system you need, I’m here for you! We’ll find balance together.

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13 Family Halloween Traditions

It’s my favorite time of year – HALLOWEEN! Since I can remember, I have loved everything about this holiday. From the costumes, to the pumpkins, and of course the candy, I have found this spooktacular day absolutely delightful.

Every year, my family would partake in Halloween traditions and now that I have two kids of my own, we’ve started our own traditions! Here are our 13 Halloween tradition/festivities:

  1. Decorate: There is something magical that happens when we pull the Halloween decorations down from the attic. Not only does it signify a soon-to-be Happy Halloween, but that Thanksgiving and Christmas are close behind. Now that my first born is old enough, he is so excited to place the skeletons, light-up pumpkins, candy hand towels, etc. all around the house and outside.
  2. Costumes: We are now beyond the point where I can pick out what my kids are going to be. My oldest knew well before October what he wanted to be there year – the HULK! “Hulk SMASH!” This kid loves three things: alligators, dinosaurs, and the HULK.  Obviously since were going down the Marvel pipeline, our youngest has to be Spider-Man. I just love how excited everyone is to pick out their new costume.
  3. Pumpkin picking: I mean, is it even fall/Halloween if you don’t pick a pumpkin? Enough said.
  4. Pumpkin carving/painting: I can remember my favorite pumpkin carving was the ThunderCats logo. It was awesome! These days, it’s a classic Jack O’Lantern carving, but the kids love it. They find the “pumpkin guts” wonderful and disgusting all at the same time.
  5. Pumpkin seeds: Speaking of “pumpkin guts,” the roasting of pumpkin seeds is essential. This year Ro was able to salt and pepper the seeds during prep and he had so much fun. We all LOVE pumpkin seeds and within a day or two, they are gone.
  6. Fall/Halloween fests: This year we started a new tradition, we went to our first local fall fest. We dressed up, the boys in their Hulk and Spider-Man costumes, while I wore a Captain America mask. A trunk or treat, pumpkin picking, music, dancing, and all the good things Halloween has to offer in one local community event. We can’t wait to go again next year.
  7. Creepy the spider: Ro got this fuzzy spider from my mom, that we affectionately call Creepy. Every night once Ro falls asleep, we move Creepy around the house and he has to look for him in the morning. He enjoys the hunt and we think it’s pretty cute when he says, “Creepy. Don’t run away. I love you.”
  8. Monster mash: We love a good song and dance session. Spotify has an awesome playlist that we have been listening to on loop – Monster Jams. I love that my kids like to be goofy with me. “We did the mash, we did the monster mash” and yes, “it was a graveyard smash.”
  9. Halloween books: Bedtime reading is a sacred time in this house. We read at least two books a night and we have a collection of Halloween books we read over and over again. Our new favorite is Fisher Price’s Little People “Halloween is Here” which has over 50 flaps of fun.
  10. Nightly lighting: The outside of our house is adorned with a yellow and green glowy spotlight, skeletons, orange lights, and illuminated eyeballs. Before my oldest goes to bed, we head outside and turn on our spooky display. It’s become our nightly ritual.
  11. Target tours: This has become a tradition without intention. Every time we go into the “Mothership” (i.e. Target) or any store with a Halloween section, we always stop and stroll down every aisle. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve examined the costumes and outdoor displays, we always have to stop.
  12. Teacher gifts: I am THAT parent that gives a gift to the teachers at every holiday. It is our tradition to shower the boy’s teachers with spectacular treats. We love to see the smile on their faces and we also appreciate all they do for our boys.
  13. Trick or Treat: We’ve been practicing the trick or treat speech, and I must say we have the most polite trick or treaters on the block. “Trick or treat! Thank you so much!” You can’t have a successful Halloween without a good ole’ night of trick or treating. I will of course take my candy tax at the end of the day. Good thing for me, we don’t like the same candy.

What are your Halloween traditions? Let me know in the comments below.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

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Why? – Strange Things Toddlers Do

I was introduced to the world of professional wrestling, WWF (World Wrestling Federation – later) at a very young age by my uncle (shout out to Uncle P!). I was the first grader walking around demonstrating the signature moves of D-Generation X, in particular, Triple H (Hunter Hearst Helmsley). If you have no clue, YouTube it and you’ll see the amazingness that is this mid-90s to early 2000s group. My adoration for the athleticism and performance of these individuals often left my teachers and parents saying – “Why?”

“Hannah why are you pretending to jackknife [XYZ person]?” My answer would always be, “Why not?”

Now that I have two kids and one has discovered his true toddler sass, I hear the phrase “why not?” on loop. Also, as a boy mom, I hear this more often than most – at least I’m assuming mothers and fathers of boys are always walking around looking puzzled because their son(s) has decided to do something crazy.

Along with questioning my children’s (keep in mind they are three and one) need to have an impromptu wrestling match like that of the classic Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant from Wrestlemania III in the middle of the living room (YouTube it), my list of “why” based moments is extensive.

Here are the top ten most recent reasons I’ve had to say “why?” and slowly shake my head in confusion.

  1. Mom – Why did you aim your penis at your face when you went to the potty?
    Three-year-old – Because the pee wanted to go up!
  2. Mom – Why are you chewing on the baby teether?
    Three-year-old – Because the baby teether is for people not babies!
  3. Mom – Why are you licking the wall?
    Three-year-old – Because I needed to mom!
  4. Mom – *Gives son a new toy* Where are you going?
    Three-year-old – To hide it!
    Mom – Why?
    Three-year-old – Because the worms will get it!!
  5. Mom – Why did you flip over the play kitchen?
    Three-year-old – Because the whale shark was coming, and he wanted popcorn!
  6. Mom – Why are you rubbing petroleum jelly all over your face?
    Three-year-old – Because I can’t breathe! *He thought it was vapor rub*
  7. Mom – Why is your play grill in your bed?
    Three-year-old – My blanket was cold!
  8. Mom – Why are you standing on the coffee table?
    Three-year-old – Because I need to dance!
  9. Mom – Why are you screaming at the drain?
    Three-year-old – The orca won’t stop yelling!
  10. Mom – Why are you not wearing underwear?
    Three-year-old – He needs to breathe!

So, here’s what I know, he watches too much Octonauts (which I secretly love), he’s extremely tactile, and he has a strong understanding of his body. With this said, all I can say is “WHY????”

What is something your kids have done or said that left you at a loss? Let me know in the comments below.

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4 Ways to Teach Your Kids Patience

What is it they always say – patience is a virtue?

I am the first to admit, my patience level is nearly nonexistent. While it has improved over the years, especially with the addition of children (God bless my kids for bringing me down a notch), I am always keeping myself in check. I’m like the Energizer Bunny always on the move and in a hurry, so don’t get in my way.

I am slowly starting to see my lack of patience in my children. Could it be my unfavorable characteristic is now reflected on them or general toddlerdom? We may never know, but what I do know is that I am constantly working towards self-improvement and providing my kids with the tools they need to be patient individuals.

Here are four ways to promote patience –

  1. Parents Practicing Patience – I’ve already admitted my faults, but we should lead by example as parents. My kids are my driving force to actively show what it means to be a mindful and patient person. If mommy can do it, they can do it too!
  2. Slow and Steady – I don’t know if this can be said for all toddlers, but my boys are always on the go. A moment of Zen is very rare and achieved when they are asleep at the end of the day. A great way to establish mindfulness and patience is to introduce activities like coloring, building with Legos, or baking cookies. We want to slow down the soul and enjoy the outcome of taking our time to complete the task at hand.
  3. Celebrate – What kid doesn’t love praise? When our kids practice patience let’s acknowledge them with a job well done. While we should tackle moments of impatience, complimenting them is of the upmost importance. A reward doesn’t hurt either. We have a mindfulness chart at home where my son fills the chart (with stickers) every time he shows patience. When all 12 slots are filled, he can then select a prize from the treasure chest.
  4. Start the Clock – A trick my parents used when I was a youngster – the egg timer. I have found my oldest responds well to the clock. He will sit there and wait for it to ding before he moves to the next activity. “We are going to park in five minutes,” “You can watch your iPad for two more minutes,” or “we will be home in 10 minutes,” are all examples of establishing expectations through time. It eases anxiety and helps when the anticipation of what’s to come.

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. – Leo Tolstoy

Do you or your kids struggle with mindfulness? How do you address patience? Let me know in the comments below.

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Bye Bye Bad Dreams

My three-year-old started waking up in the middle of the night claiming pink monsters were going to attack, his dinosaur bopped him on the head, and some other creature under his bed was determined to take him down. It’s normal for the imagination to kick in and warp the blissful reality of dreamland, but when it started to impact everyone’s sleep, something needed to be done.

The other night, our son was inconsolable. He abruptly busted into our room sobbing crocodile sized tears. He was so upset and unable to formulate his thoughts and tell us what was wrong. My husband took him back to his room and eventually fell asleep on the floor holding his hand. Yes, it was a sweet moment between father and son, but we didn’t want to establish this as the norm.

As parents we have the power to embellish – transform any household object into a magical token or make bold claims like vegetables give us super powers. Just like our children, so much is possible when it comes to the imagination. When the nightmares started to plague his dreams, my imagination took over. Here is the story about a little boy – the bad dream buster.

Before he lays his head to sleep, the little boy grabs his green magic stone (i.e. flattened marble his mom found when cleaning out her jewelry box). He gives it a kiss and whispers the word “lucky” into the stone. He gently places the stone in a mystical container (also known as a pill box) and carefully places it under his pillow. The fluffy bunny that occupies his bed, watches over the magic stone as the little boy goes to sleep.

He then grabs his magic elixir (one cup of warm water mixed with a few drops of lavender essential oil in a spray bottle) known to many toddlers as “monster spray.” He lightly sprays his bed, royal subjects (i.e. stuffed animals), and royal throws (blankets) with the magic potion. If a monster catches one whiff of the elixir he is banished from the kingdom FOREVER! The little boy was very generous in his distribution of the “monster spray.” He likes to cover his bases.

Finally, the little boy seeks out the keeper of light (also known as his Miffy night light). She turns even the darkest corners of the kingdom bright with his warm glow. With the flick of a switch, she casts a beam of light around his room, ridding it of any monsters who may be lurking.

Once the little boy feels that he has successfully demolished all the baddies, he softly closes his eyes and enters dreamland. Legend states, he starts to dream of adventures on board the Octopod with Captain Barnacle and the rest of the Octonauts (*cue dramatic music).

What a story, would you believe me if I said it was true, minus some of the colorful additions? This may seem like an entire production, but it works, for right now. He has full ownership of his nighttime routine, which I believe helps eliminate some of those pre-bedtime anxieties.

What are some tricks you use to help your kids go to sleep? Let me know in the comments below.

Sweet dreams!

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