Archive for February 2018

Fostering Independence in Preschoolers

February 13, 2018

Oh the 3's. It's such a trying age isn't it? We're trying so hard to navigate these uncharted waters with grace and patience, but goodness is it hard. Jacob has such a big personality  for someone so small. He wants to do everything and nothing himself all at once. Things he really still needs support with (like washing out his Baby Dove shampoo) he wants desperately to do alone, and things he should be capable of doing independently (like putting on his shoes) he wants us to do for him. The struggle is real. There's a lot of whining, fussing, and tears these days as he figures out exactly who he is and what he's capable of. But there is also quite a bit of clapping, cheers, and smiles when he (and we!) realize just how much he can accomplish! 

We want nothing more than to send him off to Pre-k next year independent and capable of functioning appropriately in a 4 year old classroom. It's so tough to not automatically do everything for them. It gets done so much faster that way and we can still view them as our "babies" who need us. But slowly we're realizing that all he learns when we do something for him, is that we do it better. So despite those "Mom! I need you!'s" 50 times an hour, we're slowing down and making sure he learns to do it without us, the way he'll have to at school. 

We try to foster his Independence in a few ways, the first being to offer choices. Offering choices (usually two) lets Jacob feel like he's in charge without us losing control. He gets to feel like he's the one calling the shots, without it being a free for all. Instead of letting him choose what he'd like to do (play ipad or watch tv all day) we present him with two choices: would you like to go for a walk outside or play a board game inside? Would you like to go to the park or the zoo? This is also a great tactic for getting him to do what we need him to do. We'll ask him "Do you want to sit in the front or back of the cart?" instead of letting him cry that he doesn't want to ride in the cart at all. If I offer him a nap alongside what I want him to do, we will always pick what I want him to do. "Do you want to help me pick up the mess you made or take a nap?" Do you want to read quietly with me for a little bit or take a nap?" 

The second way we work on independence is to teach a new skill and from that point on have him complete the task. If he requires some extra guidance and reminders, that's fine. But ultimately the job is up to him. Here are just a few of the things he's responsible for every day: 

1. Brushing his teeth
2. Putting on his shoes (he still struggles with clothes)
3. Carrying his lunch box and water bottle
4. Putting away any toys he takes out 
5. Cleaning up any messes including sweeping and vacuuming 
6. Putting dirty clothes in the hamper
7. Going potty 
8. Washing his own body and hair 
9. Picking out his bedtime story

Getting dressed and washing are the two that he still struggles with a bit.  He isn't picky about clothes so at this point I still pick them out - since he'll have to wear a uniform next year this seems to be a good way to avoid clothing battles when the time comes. He's getting better at his pants and underwear since he's been potty trained for nearly two years, but getting his arms in and out of his shirt and his head through the right hole is a hot mess, so we still help with that. 

We also still go back behind him when he's bathing to double check. I'll usually wet down his hair and body and then let him squirt out the shampoo and lather it all over himself and his hair before I rinse it all out. I've long been a fan of Dove products and their new baby line is no exception. The Rich Moisture Tip-to-Toe Wash is mild so I don't have to worry if it gets in his eyes, and it leaves his hair so soft and smelling amazing. 

Before bed we let him smooth on their Rich Moisture lotion as well to keep his skin soft and moisturized. (So important in the winter!) He's gotten pretty good at that himself, and likes to use it on us too! 

You can sign up with Baby Dove for coupons, articles and tips! How do you help your little ones explore their independence? 

How to Start a Mom Blog

February 8, 2018

This post is sponsored, as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Are you a new Mom who always has the best advice? Do people tell you that you are super creative with your party planning for your kids? How about your friends- do you connect with a lot of them across the country? Has anyone ever told you that you should start a blog?

I’m sure you’re feeling overwhelmed, unsure or really just undecided if starting a blog is right for you! I’ve been there too! And to tell you the truth, it’s not as scary as you may think! For one thing, you probably know a few of the basics because as Moms, we tend to gravitate towards other Moms, reading a lot of Mom blogs, going onto Facebook groups or hanging out on PInterest while your little ones sleep. Basically, everyone online is sharing how great of a community the blogging world is and so now you’re getting a bit more curious about it and how it all works.

Yes of course, we all want to make money and contribute to our family. To be able to be there for our kids, make a bit of income to help pay some bills and really love what you’re doing is basically a dream job come true right? Well, I’m telling you it's not really a dream but can be your reality with a few quick tips that I’ve learned over the years!

Let’s start at the beginning for how to start your very first MOM blog!

Find a Niche- Now most people would say that this isn’t a big deal but I personally found over the years that it does play a role into connecting with other people. To figure out what your niche might be, think of these questions. What are you passionate about? What keeps you up at night or look at your hobbies to figure out what you can write for a long time. Look at previous experience to help you decide. Is there a need for my niche? One way to think about this is checking Facebook- go to a few of the groups you belong to and use their search function. See if there are any questions lurking around.

Choose A Platform- I personally use Blogger as a platform because it’s free but others have used Worpress to help. There are several articles on why you want to choose a good platform so make sure you do some research before picking one.

Think Of A Name - This is a super exciting part! A name for your blog! Think of something fun, that describes why someone would want to go to your website and see what it’s all about! Think of your niche again to have it help you! I picked my name back when I start because Jacob was born on a Tuesday and that's when we would share our updates each week.

Begin Writing - When you’re ready to begin your post, think of something that can lure readers in. Always use SEO keywords to help. What’s SEO you ask? Search Engine Optimization. It’s how Google ranks your blog in their search system. Keywords are really important to get your blog to grow and gain new followers every day! I wasn’t sure where to even begin when I started and struggled for a few months. A friend of mine shared that she reached out to a company that specialized in helping brands and bloggers get their fullest potential. A company that I found is called Jacksonville SEO Company. This website was founded by Matt Anton who is an SEO expertise at getting brands the ranking they need to reach the top. Him and his team offer free quotes to new bloggers looking to get started, advice on how to revamp their website and offer amazing customer service to all who reach out to them.

Reach Out To Groups - Once your blog is set up, you need to start marketing it to others. Use Facebook Groups, Instagram Pods and tell all your friends and family. The more people know about your blog ( and word of mouth is so big! ) the more you’ll get noticed, brands will notice ( and start pitching ! ) and hopefully you can get a little income started!

Be Patient- All of this to say, if you do want to start your Mom blog and be successful, make sure you are patient with all of it. It does take time to start making a steady income and that’s ok! It’s all about the learning process so have fun with it and enjoy your new community of friends and fellow Moms!

What is some advice you have for starting a blog?

Transitioning to a Toddler Bed

February 1, 2018

Once upon a time, Jacob turned 3 and we started talking about moving him out of his crib. Or rather, we started talking about taking the front panel off his crib to make it into a toddler bed. Then we shelved the idea for 7 months. He was happy in there, we reasoned. Loved the security of four panels around him and never tried to climb out or play in there. Plus, it might make things a lot harder at night. What if he didn't like having one side of his bed open to the room and had trouble falling asleep or was scared? Maybe, once he realized he could get out of bed, he wouldn't sleep through the night anymore. He might get up 37 times to come back out. (He's cheeky enough to try that, we could totally see it happening.) So we left his crib how it was and didn't give it another thought. 

Then, he passed 3.5 and something started happening. Slowly, then all at once it seemed other kids his age (and younger) were transitioning to toddler and big kid beds and it was all over my social media feeds. I figured it was as good a time as any to take the leap, at least I'd have other moms to commiserate with. So one Sunday, while Dan was at work, I got out the tool bag and took the front off the crib. And you know what..... bedtime has been totally fine ever since. Here's how it all went down.... 

The day I took the crib apart we made a trip to the store and picked up a toddler bed rail, new toddler bedding picked out by Jacob, and we picked up 10 prizes and some stickers. We kept the prizes small, but all things Jacob was super interested in to keep him motivated. I got to work on the computer and made an incentive chart (I got this idea from a friend and it worked like a charm!). Then, I let Jacob help me get everything ready. He handed me the tools as I took the front panel off the crib. He helped me make up the bed with his new bedding. He watched me wrap all the prizes, and he sat diligently and listened as I explained the chart. For each night that he went to sleep and stayed in bed without crying or getting out of bed at night he would get to put a sticker on his chart in the morning and open a prize. 

The first night went off without a hitch. He went to sleep right away (no longer napping helps with that a lot!) and stayed asleep all night in his bed. He was beyond thrilled (as were we) to put a sticker on his chart and open a prize. He felt and shook each prize until he knew was the one that had the playdough kit we had picked out. 

The second night we ran into our first (and only) small hiccup. Jacob had fallen asleep on the couch before dinner and had a hard time falling asleep. He tossed and turned for a while then sat up and threw his blankie out of the bed. I was watching on our monitor the whole time (I always do until he falls asleep) and made the decision to go in and get it, rather than risk him getting out of bed to get it. After giving it back to him we immediately amended the rules: no crying, no getting out of bed, and no throwing things out of bed. And every night has gone swimmingly since! Last night was his 10th night, so we'll see how he does without the promise of prizes. If we need too, we may continue just the sticker chart portion. 

You can grab the one I made (in both girl and boy colors) by clicking on the picture below: 

Good luck Mommas, you got this!