Parenting

Preschool Prep: Fun Ways To Get 2-Year-Olds Ready

Generally speaking, two-year-olds are at a tough stage when it comes to learning. In a lot of ways, they aren’t ready for tons of structure, but they also are craving a little bit more of a challenge too. This is a great opportunity to start introducing the concept of school at home by doing preschool prep.

Preschool is definitely a personal choice for parents: when to send their child, or maybe not at all. Children are not required to attend school at this young age, and I also think it depends on the readiness of your child as well.

Do not feel like you are not a “good” parent if you are not doing preschool prep with your 2-year-old. Playing is learning. Think of preschool prep as the cherry on top.

Below I will share what I am currently doing for preschool prep with my children, but specifically my oldest. You know your child’s strength and weaknesses best, so modify it based off what’s best for your family.

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links to which I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

How Often To Do Preschool Prep

The frequency and duration of learning time for your toddler I think should really depend on their willingness to participate.

Learning at this age should be kept more free and low pressure. We want our children to be excited to learn and practice skills! Not for them to be forced to do it and then make it feel like a punishment.

Experiment with when is the best time of day for learning. Children usually do best in the morning, but I know that it’s also a busy time of day.

For us it works best to do preschool prep after quiet time but while my daughter is still napping. Then I give my child an option, to play with toys or to do “school”.

Some days he chooses toys, some days he chooses learning. No matter what is decided, there is no pressure given. When we do preschool prep, we continue to practice until he’s done.

There’s no set time that it is done. I am not concerned about doing how many hours a week because this is meant for introductory purposes and to have fun!

Basic Writing Skills

There is a lot of skills to master to get to even start writing. Holding the pencil in your hand correctly, the hand has to do what the brain tells it to draw, eye coordination, it’s not easy!

For some children, holding a crayon or a pencil comes more naturally than others. So fine tuning drawing can help setup for an easier transition to writing.

This was the first one I bought and have bought a few more since then. It starts off with practicing drawing lines, waves, and circles and then to letters and numbers. The pages are really fun to do and it’s erasable so you can use it again and again.

Additional Fine Motor Skills

School involves a lot of activities that requires fine motor skills. Which is hard to master, especially as a young toddler. This is why I mostly have a large emphasis on fine motor skills.

I love these scissors for little ones because they are plastic. Most safety scissors have metal blades, which makes me nervous.

They have different patterns too when cutting so that adds a lot of fun. I feel so much more comfortable supervising my kids with these and not hyperventilating.

I also use a scissors skill workbook when working on cutting. Each page has a fun activity to use, ranging from beginner to more advanced.

Large Motor Skills

My oldest child is definitely very developed in this area, but it is still good to do different activities. But again, not every child develops at the same rate or has the same skill level as others.

Looks a lot like playing right? But think of all the muscles that are needed to bounce on that ball-calves, quads, and core just to start with.

One item that is still on my list to get is a jump rope. Again this is not an earth-shattering idea here but think of all the skills your toddler gets to practice:

  • Jumping
  • Leaping
  • Eye coordination

Even being able to shake the rope on the ground like a snake would be a fun way for children to work on large muscles AND burn energy.

What more can you ask for in life? 🙂

Group Learning Settings

Preschool classrooms are an environment of multiple children, a teacher or two, and doing routines such as snack and learning time in an orderly fashion.

Duh, right?

But not so obvious to a very young toddler. Concepts such as waiting in line, or group activities might be new and challenging.

Exposing your child to various large group settings before attending preschool will help them practice needed social and listening skills.

Finding these activities can range from free to however much you want to invest in:

  • Sunday school
  • Storytime at the library
  • Swimming class
  • Mommy and me classes
  • Playdates
  • Music classes

Potty Training…..

Not all preschools require your child to be potty trained, depending on their age. When considering different schools to enroll in, I would encourage you to find out their protocol for that.

Potty training really is an individual experience, so you have to figure out timing and method that works best for you and your toddler.

Our children are super into Paw Patrol right now, so anything that has those characters on it are very motivating.

We have all of these items, minus the finger puppets. When starting, our child had zero interest to now going 1 AND 2 on the potty!

This book is a lot of fun to read as well and is in our regular reading time. It makes a lot of similar noises from the show, so it keeps toddlers engaged.

These are my current favorite ways to do preschool prep with my toddlers. What about you? If your children either did or currently is in preschool, do you find this accurate? What are things you wish you prepared for if anything?

Thank you so much for being here!

Kathy

Parenting

Ear Tube and Adenoid Surgery for Toddlers

Little ones are so uncomfortable when they get an ear infection. But it’s especially tough when it seems that they just keep happening one after the other. Maybe you have a referral for your child to see a specialist or wanting to discuss this with the pediatrician. It is important for parents to know what to expect with ear tube and adenoid surgery for toddlers.

A few months ago, both my 2-year-old and 1 year old had their surgeries the same day. So hopefully our experience (which went super smooth overall) will help you get your family ready, from one momma to another!

Reminder: this post is in no way to provide medical information or advice to you as I am only sharing from my experience. Please contact your medical provider for any concerns that you have.

Process of deciding surgery is needed

I do not know if there is a certain “magic number” of ear infections before further action is taken. Your doctor may look at the frequency over time or how long of a time gap there is between infections overall.

Every couple of months it seemed that one or both of my children had an ear infection. The pediatrician referred them to be taken to an E.N.T. (Ear/Nose/Throat) doctor to have that specialist do an evaluation.

This E.N.T. had both of the children’s hearing checked by an audiologist before we met with him. If all E.N.T.’s do that, I am not sure, but this was his procedure. One child at a time sat in basically a sound booth (I also was present), and the audiologist tested their hearing.

This may sound scary or intimidating, but they make it a game for them and even my more sensitive child was comfortable by the end.

After the evaluation was completed, then we met with the E.N.T. He checked over the ears, nose, and you got it-throat. One of my children started snoring at night recently so I mentioned that to the doctor, and he determined that the adenoids should be removed as well.

How long does surgery take?

Ear tubes from start to finish takes approximately 15 minutes, it’s that quick! If your child is older or you’re an adult that is having it done, you would most likely not even need to be put “under”.

But with little ones, they need to be “asleep” even for a quick procedure so the doctor can perform the operation.

One of my children needed both adenoids and tubes. From wheeling him away to surgery to bringing him back it took approximately an hour.

What happens after surgery?

Parents: what you should be emotionally prepared for is how your child may or may not feel like after waking up from the anesthesia.

Your child may just act super groggy or super scared and upset like mine. That’s okay! As long as you know that they are going to have a strong reaction, then it will be a little easier to help soothe your child.

Don’t get me wrong, it will still be tough to see for sure. But going in expecting this will help prevent a bigger emotional reaction from you so you can better assist your baby.

Our doctor allowed us to bring the children’s favorite blankets, stuffed animal, and pacifiers which was great. If your doctor doesn’t mention it in any pre-operation appointments, definitely ask if that’s an option for you too.

What to feed your toddler after the procedure

Before you even leave the building, your child will need to eat or drink something. Nurses will provide a variety of options that are soft to eat and easy on the stomach.

Your child will have to do some fasting before the procedure so they will have a very empty stomach and are susceptible to queasiness.

Even though they are hungry, you may struggle with getting them to eat again. For my daughter, who was still using a pacifier, I had to dip her pacifier in pudding and put it in her mouth to get her to eat.

When you get home, especially that first day, you want to stick to this similar diet. For adenoid surgery, your child may be on a bit longer restriction of soft foods, but your provider will give you specific instructions on that.

Here’s some examples of foods to have handy:

  • Popsicles/Ice cream
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soup
  • Yogurt
  • Hummus
  • Pedialyte

Tip: I would go ahead and purchase these items, plus make sure you have Children’s Tylenol on hand, the day before surgery. You and your child will both have a long enough day, take the stress out of running to the grocery store after the fact too!

What is the recovery time needed?

For the most part, your child will be wanting to play by the end of the day of surgery. They will be more tired and not so hungry. Most doctors are fine with your child returning to school or childcare the following day.

If you have the option, I recommend keeping them home two days at least, just to give them extra rest. But if you can’t, they will be fine!

Especially with adenoid removal, the doctor instructed us to keep our very active 2-year-old, a little less active for a few days. We definitely watched more tv than we normally do, but it helped keep him still.

From then on, we continue to have post-operation appointments, gradually spaced out (1 month, 6 months, etc.).

You can still give your child baths like you normally do and they can go swimming too. But if you plan to take your child out on the lake or the ocean, I would call the doctor’s office to make sure that is okay to do.

Related: How to help your baby sleep with a cold

Though ear tube and adenoid surgery is fairly common, it is still something that requires a lot from us as parents. On the other side of things, I can say that it has been really nice to not be super nervous that a simple cold will give my child ANOTHER ear infection!

Please share below if your child has had this procedure done and what your experiences were.

See you soon!

Kathy

Labor and Delivery/Postpartum · Parenting

Diaper bag essentials for a toddler and a newborn

Getting out of the house can take f-o-r-e-v-e-r with little ones. The best way to get out of the house is to be as efficient and prepared as possible. One major step? The diaper bag. Diaper bag=lifeline. So when you have two in diapers, you want to have all your basic supplies packed and ready to go. Let’s talk about all the diaper bag essentials for a toddler and a newborn.

By the way, if you also are preparing to have two under two, check out my post on what to expect here.

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links to which I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

You don’t need to go out and buy an extra diaper bag

Now maybe some of you laughed at that but I sincerely considered that possibility when I was pregnant with our second child.

I mean, so much stuff is needed for just one kid in diapers, I would need another bag right?

Nope!

A lot of the diaper bag essentials for a toddler and a newborn will be shared so you aren’t going to be adding too much.

Besides, you’re going to look really goofy chasing kids at the park with two bags on you. 🙂

Save your money and use the diaper bag you have

This tip would have come in handy about 18 months ago. I spent hours looking on the internet for an “extra-large” diaper bag that didn’t cost at least $100.

I couldn’t find one nor did I need it. The only reason I would suggest for you to buy a different bag is if you don’t already have a backpack style diaper bag.

When you have two in diapers, you need all the free hands you can get!

This is the closest style of bag I found that I have used for both of my children at the same time. The price range is about $30 and has served me well. There is still a good amount of space even with two sets of diapers and clothes inside.

Plus, it’s leopard-you’re welcome.

Make it part of your routine to check and restock your diaper bag

Sometimes Ol’ Reliable (aka your diaper bag) becomes a black hole for whatever storage is needed on the go.

I seriously feel like Mary Poppins pulling stuff out of the bottom of my diaper bag sometimes!

Try to get into a rhythm of once a month, once a season, or whatever frequency works for you, to check and reorganize your diaper bag.

For me, anytime my children are growing into a new size of diaper or clothing is a good reminder to double check that I have the right sizes in my bag.

Here’s my list of diaper bag essentials for a toddler and a newborn:

  • Toddler sized diapers (1-2 diapers for every 2 hours)
  • Baby sized diapers (1-2 diapers for every 2 hours)
  • Change of clothes for both toddler and baby
  • Wipes
  • Boogie wipes
  • Changing pad
  • Diaper cream
  • Non-perishable snacks
  • Disposable bibs
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tide-To-Go pen
  • Small toys and/or books
  • Lip balm
  • Phone charger
  • Seasonal items (hats, mittens, sunblock, etc.)
  • Burp cloth
  • Feeding supplies (bottles, nursing cover, formula)
  • Plastic bag for blowouts and/or big messes
  • Pacifier

Phew! It can seem like a lot, but chances are, you are already on a good routine if you’re getting ready to have another baby in diapers.

Of course, there’s always an adjustment period for after the baby arrives (if you would like to read about helping your toddler adjust to a newborn check out my post here).

But soon enough you will be throwing in extra sets of diapers in your diaper bag and be on your way like it’s nothing!

Let me know in the comments section below, are you planning to upgrade your diaper bag or stick with the one you have? I’d love to know!

Thanks for stopping by!

Parenting

How to help your baby sleep with a cold

Nothing tugs at your heart more than seeing your baby sick. They’re miserable, and more likely than not YOU are sick too, and you both just desperately need a good night’s sleep. Any cold/flu over the counter medicines are generally off limits for their little bodies. Let’s discuss other ways on how to help your baby sleep with a cold, so everyone can get back on track.

Remember, these are at home remedies, and doesn’t replace medical advice. When in doubt, call your child’s pediatrician for guidance.

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links to which I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Crib mattress wedge for elevation

The safest way to put your baby down to sleep is on their back. But when a baby has a cold, laying completely flat seems to make them more uncomfortable.

The wedge safely props up their head just a bit so they can breathe easier. This wedge is placed under the mattress, not their head.

I personally was too nervous to put this in when my babies were newborns and didn’t have any rolling skills but that’s just me. If you feel uneasy too, try folding up some beach towels instead and place them under the mattress until you feel more comfortable about using the wedge.

I couldn’t find the exact one I used on Amazon, but I still wanted to provide a link so you could have a reference to this type of product.

Chest rub that’s safe for their gentle skin

Something about putting on Vick’s when I’m sick always makes me more comfortable. But I worried about if the ingredients might be a little too strong for a baby’s sensitive skin.

This is very gentle, and I have yet to find irritation on my children’s skin when I put it on.

The scent isn’t overpowering at all but is still very effective. Rub on their chest, neck, and feet (yes, really!) to help make your baby comfortable.

Bath bombs to help with congestion

Baths are always great with the warmth and the steam to help loosen up stuffy noses and help soothe achy muscles.

But once again, most adult bath products are too harsh for little baby skin.

I love throwing one of these in at bath time. Once again the scent isn’t overpowering but still makes it a little easier to breathe.

Humidifier for comfortable sleeping

I actually use humidifiers year-round for sleeping but especially in the cold, dry winters.

By keeping moisture in the air, it can help your baby sleep with a cold much easier and can help suppress coughing and a sore dry throat in the morning.

I switched over our humidifiers to these and have been very impressed so far. They don’t have filters so you don’t have to worry about replacing anything. The humidifiers are large capacity so I can put on one in the nursery for full blast at night and get a few days out of it before I need to refill.

For the MOST part it is self cleaning but I do regularly wipe it down to keep it in good condition.

The self cleaning function was the selling point for me. Humidifiers can get NASTY and all you are doing is blasting mildew and germs in the air. Yuck.

Sore throat lollipops for your older toddler

This one you definitely need to make the judgment call on your comfort level, but it is still nice to know that this product is an option.

Once again, you are still limited on options to help your baby sleep with a cold (even if that baby is now a toddler). It can be very hard to find something to help with a sore, dry throat that isn’t either super sugary or like drinking cod liver oil.

Being an organic product isn’t a necessity for me but it always a plus. It is safe for a lot of food allergy sensitivities.

I used a few myself when I had a sore throat. They are effective, and seriously taste so good.

Boogie wipes for cleaning up dry, irritated little noses

Trying to capture a toddler to wipe their nose is like trying to herd cats. Am I right?? 🙂

Though you still have to probably put on your running shoes to do it, boogie wipes make the nose wiping a little less miserable for both of you.

These are great for little noses that are dry and crusty. Plus if their skin is raw, a dry regular tissue is only going to make matters worse.

The wipes do come in a grape scent as well, but I do recommend getting unscented whenever possible. They have less chemicals and perfumes which is much gentler on your baby’s skin.

Nose sucker for the littlest noses

Aww….those cute little button noses.

Not so cute? When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night with a stuffy nose and tissues don’t help one bit.

I was (and still kinda am) grossed out with the concept, but hey if it helps your baby sleep with a cold then bring it on!

This is great for especially when your baby is a newborn. Definitely use the saline drops in their nose before sucking anything out to help loosen any gunk.

Typically, hospitals give bulb syringes for parents to take home if they like. While they are effective, they also can harbor a lot of bacteria even after being cleaned.

With the nose sucker, the tubes are clear and come with replaceable filters for cleanliness.

There you have it! These are my best ways to help your baby sleep with a cold. If the baby can breathe comfortably, generally they can sleep comfortably too. I have used these products time and time again (even as recent as last night) and I hope you find them helpful too.

Remember, that at the end of the day these products are just that-products.

Sometimes, your baby needs something that no money can buy-YOU!

I’ve been there too. Even when you do the best you can to help your baby sleep with a cold, they will need an extra dose of your comfort and love.

When you’re sitting in a rocking chair in the middle of the night, or driving them around town just so they fall asleep, take it in.

The days are long, but the years are short.

How about you? Do you have any tips or any struggles on how to help your baby sleep with a cold? Comment below! 🙂

Parenting

5 Ways I get my toddlers to eat veggies

I think there are basically two ways to get toddlers to eat veggies: either it’s snuck into their food all stealthy-like or you actually give it to them straight up.

Let’s face it, toddlers are so smart. They know what they prefer to eat and that usually doesn’t include vegetables. That leaves us moms in a panic, worrying about how our child will get their nutritional needs met.

Mama, I so hear ya on that one.

Before we dive in, I do want to put in one caveat.

There is a difference between a picky eater and having a food sensory issue. If you have a concern that your child’s eating habit is more than being picky, trust your mom gut and reach out to your pediatrician to help you navigate those concerns.

With that being said, let’s talk food. YUM!

Disclosure: this article contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you purchase a product through these links at no extra cost to you.

Sweet potato fries are amazing.

God is so good. He created a food that is not only sweet, but it’s also a vegetable too (it’s true, I looked it up!).

Yes, I know that if it was processed into a fry, it’s not going to be as nutritious as its original form. But we just need vegetables to get into our toddlers’ little tummies, okay?

This is the brand that I use with my kiddos. I’ve tried other brands, and I’ve tried the puff versus crinkly versus regular options and always come back to this one.

My toddlers devour these. I do know that most local stores carry this as well like Walmart (not sponsored).

My family loves to dip them with Chick Fil-A sauce, that stuff goes with everything!

Top off your toddler’s veggies with something they do like to eat

Toddlers are not that far off from us adults when it comes to eating vegetables. Most of us like veggies a certain way.

Cooked versus raw

Mixed into something else versus by itself

Dipped or covered

You get my point, right? Pay attention to what textures of veggies your toddler prefers to eat. Then whatever they don’t eat is what might need a little extra “oomph”.

Putting ranch or shredded cheese over cooked vegetables makes broccoli or carrots look much more appealing to little eyes.

If you have any non-dairy alternative ideas, please share in the comment section! 🙂

Hummus

I personally did not grow up eating hummus, but I grew to love it as an adult. I definitely ate a lot when I was pregnant with both children. So it is no surprise to me that they eat it all the time too.

Chickpeas (primary ingredient) is considered a vegetable. There are so many recipes out there that incorporate hummus.

Typically, my children will eat it with organic tortilla chips but sometimes they eat it just by itself too.

Smoothies

Smoothies are a great way for toddlers to eat veggies. Especially the leafy green ones like spinach and kale that are so good for you but so hard to convince most of us to eat.

The key to sneaking in some greens to a smoothie is to have the perfect ratio of fruit to vegetable. There are a lot of great recipes out there that use fresh ingredients, but fresh produce can go bad very quickly.

I stick to frozen smoothie mixes. They last longer and are pre-cut and measured for the perfect balance. Just blend and hand it to your little one, it’s also a great option for taking something on the go.

If you’re feeling really sassy, you can always throw in a little bit of chia and flax seeds too!

Fruit and vegetable pouches

Chances are that your toddler has already had pouches before. And, why not? They are typically less messy, portable, and kids like them.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to get your toddler to eat “real” veggies versus pouches, but they help for ease of mind. While your toddler is going through this hopefully temporary phase of picky eating, knowing that they are still getting vegetables via pouches is okay.

These are my favorite pouches to get because they cover major nutritional needs all in one: vegetables, fruit, protein and grains.

Toddler multivitamin to help bridge nutritional gaps

This one obviously isn’t another way to get your toddler to eat veggies, but I still wanted to mention this tip.

Even if we serve up the most nutritionally dense meals we can, there is most likely still a vitamin that is deficient. We all know that some days, all your toddler will eat is snacks and anything that isn’t healthy whatsoever.

Vitamins aren’t a cure all and definitely not a substitute from true nutrition, but they do aid in growing toddlers to be healthy and strong. Reminder, check with the pediatrician before you give any supplements to your toddler.

I recommend these vitamins greatly. What I love about them is that they have probiotics included with the vitamins, which helps with overall gut health.

My oldest toddler scarfs it down no problem and refers to it as “candy”.

That’s a win-win in my book!

I hope you find these tips helpful and easy to implement when feeding your toddler. As a mom, I get how stressful mealtimes can get, you just want what’s best for your child.

Stay persistent in your effort to offer healthy options to your toddler, work with their doctor, and supplement where needed. As long as they are continuing to grow and get stronger, pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

Parenting

Help your toddler adjust to new baby

The time has come for you to bring home your brand-new baby and introduce them to your toddler. One of the most immediate challenges you will meet is how to help your toddler adjust to the new baby.

Are you ready for it?

As soon as you walk through the door, it’s game time! This is a BIG moment so as much as it would be nice to let things “just flow” naturally, you should have some sort of plan or mindset ahead of time.

Any type of transition especially for toddlers should be done so in manageable ways whenever possible. If you are looking for ideas on how to prepare your toddler BEFORE the baby arrives, then you should check out my post on that topic here.

I will be walking you through the introduction, acclamation, and how to achieve the “new normal” with helping your toddler adjust to a newborn.

Let’s do this!

How to introduce toddler to a new baby

I got this tip from a pediatrician: have someone else hold the baby while you greet your older child.

When I was at the hospital (3 days) it broke my heart to be away from our son (this was during the heart of the pandemic, so he wasn’t allowed to visit).

So here I thought that my son was just going to coming running to my arms…..nope!

He skipped me altogether and went straight to his new little sister. He was so curious about this little baby. Mom…….who???

I was expecting a different reaction, but this was totally great too. My point is that you will never be able to truly predict how your older child will react.

By having someone else holding the baby during the initial greeting will help keep jealousy at bay for a bit. Then you will be able to give 100% of your focus to your toddler.

Give your older child TONS of affection

Speaking of focus and attention, your older baby will need probably more affection than they normally do.

Their entire existence previously was that THEY were the baby. Only they got all the hugs/kisses/playtime. Now this tiny little thing is stealing the spotlight a bit; and now your toddler is no longer the baby of the family anymore.

How dare they!? 🙂

Even if it seems like your toddler is rejecting you, just keep reassuring them of your love. This is confusing for them and have conflicting emotions (you probably do too!).

My little guy for a while wanted to be held and rocked liked a little baby again and that is totally okay. Honestly, I loved it because I knew sooner or later, he was going to go back to his independent ways.

If your older toddler is giving you the cold shoulder, give them the space to feel whatever emotions they are experiencing. When they are ready, “baby” your toddler to pieces!

Make regular one on one times with your oldest child

This tip was so beneficial for my son as it was for me too. Before having our daughter, I was also a stay-at-home mom for our son. So, for us it was me and him all day, every day.

I was so in love with our daughter but grieved having less one on one time with our son. Around that time was when my son and I started doing a music class together. It was so nice to have that time once a week to get some much needed “mommy and me” time.

We were fortunate enough to be able to do Kindermusik together and both got so much out of it. To check if a class is offered near you, click here (not sponsored).

Classes not an option for you? No problem! Your toddler just needs time with YOU, not the activity.

There were many times that I would nurse our daughter, and then my husband stayed at home with her while I ran errands with our son.

Something simple as the carwash or the grocery store or playing with your toddler while the baby naps work wonders.

Make a busy box/bag for your toddler during breast/bottle feeding

I make this suggestion because this is something I regret not having set up beforehand. So much so, I made a “busy bag” for my friend’s older child when she had another baby.

As you know by now, the early days consist of lots of feeding the baby. Your young toddler may not even understand what you’re doing. To them it might look like you are loving on the baby and leaving them out in the cold.

To help combat this, have some special toy or bag full of quiet activities to keep them occupied. But only bring it around during feedings. This distraction will help your child adjust to this new routine of what they can do during feedings.

But in the long run, your toddler will still want to be involved. Keep some books nearby and have them hold it while you read to them. Sing nursery rhymes together.

Sensory bins are a great option too. If you need help coming up with ideas, check out my post on children’s activities planner here.

I usually don’t recommend screen time but if you use it at all or more than you normally do, give yourself grace. You’re running on very little sleep, hormones are going nuts, and everyone’s adjusting. This is a very short season.

Final thoughts: when in doubt-snack it out!

Let your child be involved with caring for the baby as much as possible

Toddlers LOVE to be little helpers. Let’s be real-when you have a toddler and a newborn, you need all the help you can get!

Ask your older child to grab a burp cloth, a diaper, or a pacifier. The point is to involve them in whatever is age appropriate to do. By having them take part of care you are helping to build their relationship with each other.

If you constantly tell your toddler to go play or that they can’t touch the baby, they may grow to resent their new sibling. My guess is that if you’re reading this, you won’t be doing that but just wanted to throw it out there!

Don’t force your toddler to “like” the new baby

This can be tough-I mean, why wouldn’t you love a sweet adorable little baby? You just want all of your babies to get along!

Your toddler does love the baby……but maybe they just don’t like them right now. So what do you do?

As long as your toddler isn’t physically acting out on the baby, let it be. If you truly have serious concerns about how your toddler is adjusting, definitely reach out to their pediatrician for some pointers.

Otherwise, you have to accept their feelings where they are at right now. This is a HUGE transition, and they are trying to process their new normal. If you force your toddler to give affection, say “I love you” and other things to the baby, it can breed resentment even more.

I know some parents will have the baby “give” gifts to their older siblings. I didn’t even sweat it for my then 15-month-old. But perhaps if you have older children, they most likely will appreciate the gesture.

My older child who was over the moon for his little sister instantly still can get in jealous bouts at times.

This is normal!

Give your child the emotional space to express those feelings in a healthy way and it should work itself out in time. Just keep giving your toddler one on one attention and lots of affection whenever possible.

Helping your toddler adjust to a new baby has lots of ups and downs, but it is all worth it. As a parent you are also learning how to divide your attention to two tiny human beings and that’s a lot! Give yourself and your kids lots of patience and kindness.

You can do this!

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In the meantime, let me know what stage of life your family is in. Expecting? Newborns? School Aged? Grandkids? Comment below!

Parenting

Children’s Activity Planner Printable

Children's Activity Planner

Free Printable

Between sick days, snow days, days off of school, and many other reasons you may find yourself having the kids home all day. Or you may be a stay-at-home mom like myself, constantly trying to find ways to give each day some structure. But without a children’s activity planner you may find yourself asking:

What are we going to do all day long?

I highly encourage you to make a plan ahead of time of different activities for the children to be entertained. Having a plan in place prevents a lot of last-minute scrambling and stress for you and keeps boredom and fights to a minimum for them.

In my post about helping your toddler adjust to a baby, I recommend having a “busy bag” for your toddler when feeding the baby. Having a children’s activity planner definitely helps with coming up with ideas for busy bags. If you would like to read more about that post, check it out here.

You don’t need a ton of money to keep kids occupied. I actually would argue that the opposite is true. Simplicity is best.

Having a written down children’s activity planner handy is also very helpful to any caretakers that come to your house when you’re not there.

I created 6 categories that would help fulfill our children’s natural need for exploration and creativity.

These categories are:

  • Sensory
  • Physical
  • Educational
  • Social
  • Creative
  • Outing/Connect With Nature

Sensory

When I first started reading up on sensory bins, I was super intimidated by the name. But it is so much simpler than we realize.

Do you have a box, storage bin, a bowl? Throw in some crushed cereal and some spoons and a cup and you have a sensory bin!

Of course that is the most basic, no prep sensory bin that there is but I don’t know what your budget is. If you have the time and resources to do more elaborate bins please do!

The main point is that so many things are within arms’ reach to help satisfy this need without having to run to the local craft store. The best site without a doubt to find infinite sensory bin ideas is Pinterest.

Physical

We all know that kids are balls of energy, but that gets tough especially when you’re stuck inside.

If you’re up for it, throw the couch cushions on the ground to make a crash pad! Play kids music and let them go wild.

Need it quieter because you live in an apartment or the baby is asleep? YouTube offers a lot of high-quality yoga videos for kids. You may need to repeat these activities multiple times a day to get their wiggles out before bedtime.

Educational

Children are like little sponges, aren’t they? My kids’ appetites for learning have really grown in the past few months. It’s been so much fun to really break down what they see, hear, feel, etc.

Take advantage of your local library! Our story time in town is the best; the kids absolutely love it.

If you haven’t ever been to a children’s museum, you seriously should check one out. I think my husband and I enjoy them almost more than our kids do!

Social

This one is tricky nowadays. You obviously have to do what feels safe and comfortable for you. But social interaction is so important for children as it is for adults.

My children on a day-to-day basis usually don’t see other kids. So I definitely strive to give opportunities for them to interact with other kids.

The church we attend has a wonderful nursery. It is such a blessing to have somewhere for the kids to get to know other kids while my husband and I attend worship.

Playdates are always great too. Sometimes you may be the only parent in your current circle so you may have to branch out more. For example, a local recreation department nearby organizes formal play groups for people. It does cost money, but it gets you out of the house!

Creative

Children seem to be born with endless creativity, and us adults tend to stifle it (even when we are trying to facilitate it!).

I think the most obvious creative activity is to do painting, but it’s a good one! There is so many ways to spice it up with whatever medium you choose to use.

But don’t forget music! Music is so important and so good for little minds and bodies.

Whatever you decide, I encourage you to do the least amount of “teaching” as possible. The best part about creativity and art is that there’s no rules!

Outing/Connect With Nature

When possible, it is always good to get out of the house. That is especially true with being outside. It’s amazing how much some fresh air will calm a toddler down.

Outside not an option? Even just going to run errands is still good to do. There are days when all we do is go to the carwash and come back home. It’s still enough to shake up the routine.

During colder months, I make an extra point to take the kids to a local nature center. There is usually plenty of interactive exhibits and some live animals too. Plus, they are typically FREE!

I hope this gives you a good starting point to planning your days with the kiddos. Sometimes you are limited by transportation, where you live, climate, budget, or all the above! If that’s the case, I truly get it. It’s not easy so commend yourself on making this huge effort to enrich your children’s lives. But it will pay off in the end because your kids will be exposed to all these varied experiences and skills. What more can you ask for?

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Parenting

How to get toddler to pick up toys EVERY night!

I don’t know about you, but I think getting a toddler to follow any sort of instruction can be an uphill battle. This is especially true for those very strong-willed types (aka mine and every other toddler on the planet) who are not ready to go to bed but their mama sure is! I just wanted to know how to get my toddler to pick up toys!

We tried every tactic in the book. The first attempt was to sing cleaning up songs-that was a total failure. I can remember trying to keep my cool as I’m singing and picking up his toys, meanwhile he’s running around on the couch in his diaper like a little jungle boy.

Second, I attempted to use stickers as a reward. That lost its magic real quick.

Then I used candy, which only made my child more hyper. Finally at my wits end after a long day; I would lose my cool and tempers flared, and time outs were being handed out left and right. Not a great way to end the day for anyone.

Finally, I had an epiphany.

During our mommy and me music class, my toddler would pick up toys; put them in the bins; and hand it to the teacher like a pro. Plus all the other kids did too! That’s where it dawned on me: the toys were minimal, organized, and picking up was part of a routine.

What does your child’s main play area look like? If it looks anything like mine did at one point there was no order, looked cluttered, and over all uninviting.

Don’t have time or the money to do an overhaul all at once? Me either!!! These changes have been made over time and over paychecks and that’s okay. Progress is progress!

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links to which I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Make toys accessible and visible.

While I do think larger storage bins (like the fabric ones) definitely serve a purpose, they are probably better suited for bigger items such as stuffed animals.

The vast majority of toys are smaller in size and get quickly buried under a mountain of teddy bears. This is just asking for a kiddo to dump everything out to look for one specific toy.

This is the type of shelf that I use in my home. What I like about them is that there are multiple bins, and they are at a good height for kiddos that under 4 feet. Often, my kids will take out individual bins of toys that they want to play with.

Organize toys by type.

I was originally very skeptical of this step-will a toddler really keep toys sorted? The answer is definitely yes!

Once again, going with the sub-organization by bins and by type of toys; my kids will simply take out whichever category of toys they want to play with.

When it comes to labeling, I wouldn’t sweat it too much. If you have the time and energy to print out a picture/symbol for each bin and laminate it, good for you! But if you just want to put a sticker label on and write the category in marker, that works just fine for us.

Here’s some categories that I am currently using to help get you started:

  • Blocks & Shapes
  • Tractors
  • Cars
  • Princesses
  • Legos
  • Paw Patrol
  • Balls

As you can see, you can go as specific or broad as you need to; this system needs to work for what’s best for your family.

Plus when it came time for my toddlers to pick up their toys, then they could start picking up toys by the category versus just a free for all.

Declutter, declutter, declutter!

You would think that it would be every kid’s dream to have a room filled with toys but in reality, it’s not.

Especially with young children they can get overwhelmed very easily with too many options. Having too many things stifles creativity, creates stress, and takes more time out of your life picking things up.

I am making it a daily habit to find at least one item a day that is either trash or to donate. Please don’t donate junk to organizations.

If something is still in decent condition but not up to the level of donating, put it out to the curb if possible. Of course, that depends on where you live, but you can always post it as “Free” on a buy/sell/trade website.

Decluttering takes so much work and is a lot of mental and emotional energy too. It’s good to have motivation and encouragement especially after a holiday or birthday where a big dump truck of stuff comes to my house.

I have been listening to this book on audio and have been loving it. I highly recommend reading or listening to this book for inspiration:

Lastly, make cleaning up toys as part of the daily routine for your family.

For us, it works best to have our toddlers pick up of toys at the beginning of bedtime. I’m partial to it because I like to do a nightly cleaning but maybe a different time of day works better for you.

With any type of new system or routine, it will take repetition and trial and error to make it smooth. So be patient with yourselves and your little ones, but make sure to be consistent.

I usually start with taking whatever empty bin, for example the cars bin, and say “Let’s find all the cars and put them in the cars bin”. We focus on that category until it’s done.

This is much more manageable then giving the basic command of “Pick up your toys!”. That’s kinda equivalent to having a doctor to say, “You need to lose weight!”. Way too broad!

If you have a specific spot for books and larger items, your child will get to know each item’s “home” over time. It’s so much easier to say, “Where does the baby stroller go?” versus trying to find a new spot every night.

I hope you find these tips helpful, practical, and easy to implement in your home. I know I have found great improvements in clean up time with both my 1-year-old and 2-year-old. What used to be a raging battle has become another box in the checklist of daily tasks; minimal effort to be done.

Please consider subscribing to stay up to date with my latest posts. Feel free to comment on what tips you find helpful plus anything you have to add that has worked for you. I appreciate you being here!