Summer is my favorite time of year. The days are longer, the fruit is better, and this is the perfect season to make those family memories that will bring about nostalgia for many years to come. Conquering summer with a toddler is a balancing act however. There are very small windows between heat tantrums and nap time tantrums to make outings enjoyable. This toddler friendly summer bucket list takes into account their “lengthy” attention spans, but is also easy on your wallet so in the off chance a mission has to be aborted, it won’t be a budget strain.
- How they interacted with my children at their different comfort levels
- How they challenged them
- How they comforted them when things were difficult
- Mason Jar with top
- Planting Soil
- Activated Charcoal Powder (found in the pet section of Walmart/Target or a pet store)
- Clean out your mason jar and then put in about 1/2 cup of gravel.
- Add the 1/4 cup of charcoal.
- Add about 2 inches of soil.
- Add the moss and ferns.
- Water the roots and seal with the lid.
- How do you know if something is living or non-living?
- How are living thing the same/different than non-living things?
- Do all things that are alive move?
- What kinds of non-living things move?
- What are clouds and what are they made of?
- What is rain?
- What happens to puddles after it rains?
- One Size Diapers – These can be used from birth through potty training.
- Diaper Covers – Waterproof outer layer that is used with flats, prefolds, or fitteds.
- All-in-Two Diapers – Waterproof shell with separate inserts. Inserts need to be changed at changing–shell can stay on.
- Pocket Diapers – Waterproof shell with an opening for inserts or prefolds to be placed inside. Must change cover and insert at each change.
- All-In-One Diapers – One piece that has a waterproof outer shell with an attached cloth interior. Must change entire diaper at each changing.
- Prefold Diapers – Rectangular cloth with 3 panels that can be used with a cover.
- Flat Diapers – Single layer of fabric that is folded into a cover.
- Fitted Diapers – Entire diaper is cloth and is contoured to fit baby. No folding and entire diaper must be changed out with each changing.
I partnered with Wellements to share my thoughts and opinions on how their products have helped me with teething.
Teething is literally the worst thing that babies and parents go through until potty training–which is pretty awful as well. But there are 10 things in particular that really grind my gears as it pertains to teething.
If you didn’t already know, black girls are lit. We are creative, intelligent, magical, and just darn right fabulous from our head to our toes! From our kinky, coily textured hair to the array of chocolate skin tones kissed by only the sun’s rays, black girls are everything to be desired. The crazy thing is, not every black girl knows this about themselves. What they see in the mirror may be contrary to popular belief. Our daughters, granddaughters, sisters, and nieces can sometimes struggle with challenges of self-identity. Self-esteem and knowing their self-worth in a world that was just not made for their benefit is truly difficult.
Building Up Black Girls Matters
To empower someone starts from within. Building up the self-esteem of young black girls happens when we mirror what they already have inside of them. There is so much material being created for our chocolate youth that is hidden in plain site that features them in ways that are courageous, intelligent, and capable of all things. Having two daughters of my own now, I make sure to let them know every chance I get just how amazing they truly are. One of the many ways I do so is by reading books with them that they can relate to on a societal and cultural level.
I don’t recall being presented with reading material that defined characters that represented who I was or what I looked like in order to be comfortable in my own skin. Growing up, I wasn’t around other children that looked like me or shared the same background. I felt ashamed of the texture of my hair and even the curvy shape that my hips and thighs gave me and I desired to be something I could never be.
Flipping the pages of books that described a brown skinned girl that had thick lips and a wide nose like mine would have made me feel like I was not so alone. I would have been able to recognize that my beauty came from the unique features I possessed both inside and out. I could see myself wandering the pages of imaginary adventures of girls like me that were princesses, scientists, presidents, or just another neighborhood girl loving who she was just the way she was.
10 Must-Read Books For Black Girls
What are some of your favorite books that highlight black girls?
My first job as a teen was as a lifeguard and swim instructor. I still have fond memories of working with the summer camps and seeing how much the kids had learned each year. I was also a competitive swimmer growing up and new that my kids would have to love the water like I did. When Mini was born, I had her in the water as soon is it was warm enough to have her in the pool. This baby LOVED the water!
Swim Lessons Or Nah?
I’ve always been hesitant about putting my kids in swim classes. Mini responded so well to being in the water with me for the first 3 years that I wasn’t sure if we needed lessons. I enrolled her in a local swim class and underwhelmed was an understatement. She basically learned nothing and wasn’t challenged. I was discouraged but when Abc came along, things changed. She was one of the kids that latches on to the parent and I knew that had to change. When I was approached by the British Swim School in Atlanta about working together, I was a little hesitant because I didn’t want to waste my time. It hasn’t been a waste of time by any means.
British Swim School
Impressed is definitely an understatement on how I feel after having my kids in classes for a month here.
When enrolling your child in British Swim School, you answer some questions about their abilities to place them into the class that they’ll not only feel comfortable in but will also provide a bit of a challenge. They have super beginner classes that start at Tadpoles and work their way up to Sharks–they even offer Adult and Private classes! After taking the questionnaire, we determined that I had a Young Minow with Abc and a Turtle II with Mini. Each of our classes are 30 minutes long with 25 minutes of focused work and 5 minutes of free play.
At this phase of the game of life I’ve learned that all teachers aren’t created equally. And I’ve also learned that British Swim School does a great job in hiring their teachers. I was a pretty good swim instructor when I was younger so my expectations were high. I was specifically looking for a couple of things here:
As a “crunchier” mommy, I believe in nurturing kids through difficulties. I think hugs and snuggles are always appropriate with tears along with encouraging words. So do they.
If I gush about my experience, trust that it’s on purpose. The past month my kids have been having an amazing time with British Swim School! The owner, Jeff, sends his own children through the program which is reassuring as a parent. But the growth that I’ve seen in my kids in the water? Amazing. Like I said earlier, Abc was always kind of hesitant in the water with me. She never quite enjoyed the water. Now? A different child. She’s ready to jump in the water, go down the slide and really have independence in the water. I was prepared for her to be more difficult but she got promoted from Young Minow to Minow within 2 weeks.
Mini has flourished as well! While she could swim a lap non-stop since last summer, she’s learned backstroke, how to breathe on her side during freestyle, and has finally stopped looking like she’s drowning when she’s swimming. Her kicking has really changed and made all the difference in her speed. Oh, and she’s learning to dive! Proud mama here! Her teacher even says that she’s ready for a swim team!
I’ve appreciated this incredible learning environment that offers both a bit of a challenge and comfort for my kids. We’re ready for summer!
Interested in getting your kids in the pool? Find out more by visiting www.britishswimschool.com to find the location nearest to you!
This post was sponsored by Lully as part of Influencer Activation for Influence Central.
Imagine just falling asleep after working all day, parenting, loving your child to sleep only to be woken in the middle of the night by shrieks and screams. The first couple of times it happens you’re scared thinking that someone has tried to steal your child but you find them crying, screaming, weeping in their beds but still asleep as night terrors interrupt your quiet home. There’s nothing more disconcerting than being woken up by the inconsolable cries of your child in the middle of the night.
Night Terrors Are Real
Mini and abc are pretty much polar opposites when it comes to sleeping. Mini has slept through the night since 6 months. We also co-slept till she was a year and then I had no issues with transitioning her to her own bed and room. Abc though? My goodness! We follow the same sleep routine along with some prayers that she stays asleep through the night.
Initially I thought it was just her actively rebelling against sleeping in her own bed when she would wake up in the middle of the night crying until I was talking to the hubs about it and he shared that he struggled with night terrors as a kid. Naturally, I’m like “she’s been alive for like 3 weeks–what’s there to be scared of?” After talking to her pediatrician, she told me that night terrors are to be expected with abc because she’s developmentally advanced and probably has an overactive imagination which goes into high drive at night.
After losing more sleep with abc as a toddler than I did when she was an infant I figured we had to do something. It broke my heart having her scream and cry while sleeping in the bed with the hubs and I knowing that no matter how much I rubbed her back, hugged her and sang, it wouldn’t wake her from the terror that was in her dreams.
Lully Sleep Guardian 2
When I received this pod that goes under the bed, I was skeptical. I immediately thought of the fairy tale about the princess that could tell there was a pea under her mattress (because both my girls are princesses ha!). But after a week straight of night terrors and no sleep, I figured there’s nothing to lose since I’d already lost my beloved sleep.
Guys. I have not been awaken by screams in over 2 weeks. Like I don’t even know how to act with all the rest I’ve been getting. No lie, I used to not see the point in going to bed before a certain hour because I would just be woken up shortly thereafter and have to pray for an IV of caffeine the next day. But now? Listen. My sleep is GLORIOUS! Uninterrupted sleep, my baby isn’t waking up shrieking, and the hubs and I are well rested. It doesn’t get any better than this!
How Does It Work?
The Sleep Guardian 2 is a little pod that sends vibrations through the mattress that prevent night terrors from even happening. It’s connected to your phone via Bluetooth and you set it up based on your observations of when your little is waking up. The goal is to have it vibrate prior to the night terror from happening. As the weeks progress, you keep the app updated with parental observations and it continues to tailor how it’s working to what your individual child needs.
Prior to Sleep Guardian 2, the common method to handle night terrors would be to go in and wake your child up before it would happen interrupting the cycle. Now with this nifty tool, we parents get to stay comfy, cozy as our littles sleep happily through the night. It’s a win-win situation for all.
How Do You Know If Your Child Has Night Terrors
I have to be honest, this isn’t an area of expertise for me since I didn’t even think that abc had them. This is what we noticed with abc:
she would go to sleep easily but wake up around the same time screaming and crying but still be asleep
she was inconsolable during these spells
it didn’t happen all the time
The kicker for me was when the hubs said he had them too and the pediatrician later confirmed that it was probably given her development.
If you want to know more about night terrors, check out the information page on Lully which helped me further make sense of this.
Have you ever dealt with night terrors? How did you handle them?
Just when you thought things were getting easier as your baby was finally ready to get off the boob or bottle, they get more complicated. Every brand has three thousand and one that say they’re the best. While they all might be pretty awesome, as moms who don’t own stock in all these companies, we need the best sippy cups that are the most cost-efficient.
What To Look For
No Detachable Flow Control Piece
I don’t even know if this is the right term but it’s a silicone thing that makes it so all the liquid doesn’t come flowing out making a huge mess on your baby. So these are really functional and do a great job but they can get lost and it’s a tiny piece that has to be cleaned. Moment of truth: None of my sippy cups that have these are being used AND I don’t have any clue as of where those attachments are.
Easy To Clean
Have you ever seen those posts about how a mom somehow missed cleaning the underside of a sippy cup and it’s now overgrown with mold and they’re confused. Don’t let this be you. Seriously. Make sure that your sippy cup isn’t complicated with all these flips and such making it more difficult to clean.
5 Best Sippy Cups On The Market
1. NUK Sippy Cups
These are all pretty awesome honestly. Easy to clean, don’t cost an arm and a leg, and don’t have that valve.
2. Nuby Super Easy Grip Cup
3. Munchkin Miracle 360 Cup
5. First Years Take & Toss Spill-Proof Cups
These are under $3 and I love them. Easy to clean, cheap, and if you lose or mess them up, it’s not a big loss.
**Pro-Tip: Try to wash out the cups immediately. Once some juice or milk is left in there, it’s super gross!
You’ll probably notice that I haven’t included anything with straws here. Straws can be a hassle to keep clean and keep track of.
What’s your favorite sippy cup? Did I miss anything?
I would be lying if I didn’t say that as I picked mini up from school on her last day of school I wasn’t a little teary-eyed. On May 26th, we celebrated a mighty successful year as a kindergartner.
Mothering A Kindergartner
Where are the books on this?
I feel like every phase mini hits I’m so unprepared for! It seems like it was just yesterday that I was walking her in for her first day. She sat next to Seth and I was the creeper mom who watched from the hallway as they colored and made awkward conversation. And now she’s heading to first grade. As in grade 1. As in she’s officially in grade school.
This year has been incredible. Not working in corporate America made it so I was present for class parties, school awards, art shows and more. It was lots of fun but there was so much I didn’t know to expect.
Mini’s teacher was pretty awesome. If there were ever any issues, I knew I would get an email and I welcomed that. But there were emails, newsletters, and other random communications sent home. In the beginning of the year I was on it. I kept all of these papers somewhere safe (where that is now, I have no idea). But towards the end? I was struggling man. My suggestion is to set up a station for all this. I ran to Target and grabbed some pretty folders in their $1 section to create a central location for all these papers. There were some that were just “FYI”, things that needed to be returned, and her artwork. Don’t get overwhelmed like I did–organize and then dominate!
Mini’s teacher kept asking me if what she was saying sounded right as I sat there with a blank expression on my face while she reviewed everything. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to say since this was all pretty new to me and based upon everything the teacher was saying, mini was excelling in everything but her behavior. Pro Tip: Be prepared with a question or two about how to continue what they’re learning in school at home to support what the teacher is doing. This makes you look like you know what you’re doing with this parenting thing way better than the blank stare.
I know, this seems obvious. Either have lunches prepared or buy lunch. What I didn’t anticipate was the effect of school lunches on mini’s body. After having her lunches prepared with love for the past 4-5 years, school lunch had a pretty bad effect on her stomach (I even had a dream I was talking to Michelle Obama about how terrible this was). She dealt with constipation as a result and that’s not fun AT ALL. Preparing lunches daily can seem a pretty daunting task but it’s worth it to know that what you’re putting in their bodies is truly fueling them for their days. Pro Tip: If you pre-package a weeks worth of healthy snacks it makes packing lunch way easier since you’re only worried about the main meal.
Yep. This is the age that you truly have to be aware of what’s going on. On mini’s second week of school there was an incident on the playground. Mini knows how to defend herself so I wasn’t too concerned but some kids just don’t know their boundaries. And now that they’re riding the school bus, they’re with older, meaner kids that will more than likely pick on them–as will their classmates. Pro Tip: Don’t fight their fights for them unless they really need it. Teach them how to handle it and make sure they know you have their back.
We Made It Through Kindergarten!!!!
Despite mommy’s lack of preparation and the much needed learning curve, we made it. And what better way to celebrate the last day then with a trip to Six Flags!!!! On mini’s last day of school, I picked her up early and we battled through Atlanta traffic to get to the place where a great time was guaranteed. I surprised her by meeting up with our best sisterfriends TiTi and Little A.
World’s First DC SUPER FRIENDS Family Area w/ 5 Attractions Opens at Six Flags
And we were there to test drive the awesomeness of these rides. We are HUGE DC Comic fans so when I found out this was opening up, I knew that I had to take her. It’s located right next to Tiny Town and is perfect for kids that are big enough to want to have some fun at an amusement park but not tall enough for some of the bigger rides–so it was perfect for mini.
The Joker Funhouse Coaster
This was the first ride we went on (the only one we adults did) and it was super fun! Even as an adult (who may or may not suffer from some mild fear of heights) my stomach did some flopping around. There were lots of screams and fun on this ride! This one was definitely a favorite.
WonderWoman Flight School
SuperMan Tower of Power
This one was ok. I think that the girls were a little too big for this or maybe we should have started out with it. After the Tower of Power and the Joker Coaster this one didn’t have that exciting element for them.
Harley Quinn Games
I still can’t believe that I now have an official FIRST GRADER!!!! Time is flying by with these kids but I’m really happy that we were able to make her last day of kindergarten one to remember with the help of Six Flags Over Georgia.
One of my favorite subjects growing up was science. Ever since I can remember, things like how eyes work and how to put together a skeleton were really interesting to me. Now that mini is old enough to have appreciation for such things, it’s time to get started with sharing my love of science!
Now, I don’t have a green thumb BUT both mini and I have an obsession with planting and flowers so I figured building a terrarium would be perfect for combining both of our loves here.
STEM Project: Mason Jar Terrariums
Teaching About the Water Cycle
The terrarium is a great project that teaches kids in a hands on way about the water cycle. While creating the terrarium, some great questions to ask your child are:
The point of these questions is to lead the conversation towards the topics of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. Keep these things in mind as you guys are building the terrarium.
So how does the terrarium work?
The plants in the terrarium release water vapor into the air (transportation) when there is light and heat present. Because the terrarium is an enclosed environment, when the water leaves the plant (evaporation) and comes in contact with the sides of the glass (or whatever container you’ve chosen), it forms droplets of water on the inside of the glass (condensation). The condensation will then fall back down once enough has gathered (precipitation). The water falls and then gathers in the soil (collection) and then it evaporates and the water cycle continues.
Cool right? Here’s an awesome image from Charger Water that illustrates this cycle:
Check out this worksheet to help illustrate the process.
What’s your favorite way of teaching science to your kids?
**This post may contain affiliate links.**
I can still remember my first encounter with a cloth diaper. I was babysitting my friend’s baby when I was in college and he brought over all these pieces of thick cloth and showed me how to fold into a perpendicular triangle that somehow created a diaper around his baby’s little bottom. I’m not sure how we made it through diaper changes but I’m sure there was at least one time that I shed some tears as I tried to wrap her up while she skillfully maneuvered out of it and away from me. At that point, I broke up with the notion of ever cloth diapering my kids. I was scarred and unforgiving.
So a big part of being “crunchy” is cloth diapering. Given my history of it, I wasn’t so enthusiastic about this aspect but part of growing up is forgiving and thus I’ve ended up where I am now. Ok, so maybe I didn’t forgive but I did get over that prior experience after seeing the huge changes that were made in cloth diapering. Not only were they absolutely adorable, but they were easy to use!!!
Cloth Diaper Essentials
Unlike disposable diapers where you just toss the entire diaper and wipes in the trash, you don’t do that with your cloth diapers. Have a wet bag is super important and makes the cloth diaper cleaning process so much easier. Once you’ve pulled out the wet cloth, toss it in one of these babies to hold until it’s time to wash.
I didn’t think these were so necessary until I was trying to figure out where to put the wipes that I’d just used on her poopy bottom. With the cloth wipes, you can easily roll them up with the cloth diapers to dump into the wet bag for washing. Assuming you go with this option, snag one of these wipe solutions to keep the wipes ready to use.
I thought that my little tubs from Walmart would work (and we made them work) but special detergent for the poop, having a tub with a splatter shield, and stain remover are all really important.
Deciding On Your Cloth Diapering System
I thought this would be harder than it was. Here are the different types of cloth diapers:
I went with an All-In-Two diaper system. This was the most convenient to me for a couple reasons. My system has a snap-in system making diaper changing super easy. I also like the way these fit abc. You can’t tell that she’s wearing a cloth diaper because her little bottom isn’t super fluffy. Outside of them being hard to use in the beginning, I hated that clothes didn’t fit because of the size of the cloth diaper! I specifically got the Best Bottom Cloth Diaper System with the Stay Dry Inserts.
Q: How many do you buy?
A: That honestly depends on how often you plan on doing laundry and how old your baby is. With abc being 18 months, we go through between 6-8 diaper changes a day. I have 3 shells and 12 inserts. Because with our system we have you don’t have change the shell with every diaper change we do laundry every other day.
Q: Was it expensive to get started?
A: Nope. It took about $85 to get started with this package here. On average, we spend about $40/month on diapers. Now we spend pretty much nothing–though I still send her to daycare with some disposables.
Q: The poop… How do you deal?
A: I’m not going to lie. It was hard at first. But we keep some black tubs ready and waiting to have the poopy ones dumped into.
How about a giveway!?!?!?
Yep! Nicki’s Diapers wants to giveaway a system to get someone started in their cloth diapering journey:
Use coupon code “crunchymommy” for a 5% discount on all orders through March 2016.
**I received product to test but all opinions expressed are my own.**
One of my degrees is in Psychology and I honestly never thought I’d be putting to use the concepts and principles I learned early on in my journey of parenting but those principles regarding behavior modification have definitely come in handy. We didn’t go through the terrible two’s with mini. She was investigative but a good listener. It was fun watching her brain develop as she saw and experienced new things. But once we hit 3, active defiance became our norm. As queen of stubbornness, we bumped heads QUITE often then and I had no clue what to do. Disciplining smart children is especially hard because, well, they’re smart. There has to be a careful balance between guiding them to do the right thing and not putting out their fire.
I started using those chore charts early on but they weren’t so effective because mini couldn’t read at 3 and because I struggle with consistency. I would forget to mark the chart and go over it with her and she couldn’t read to even know what it was we were working on. At 3, this method of behavior modification was a fail. When she turned 4 she became interested in money so she earned a certain amount of play money for displaying a certain behavior and then once she earned $20, she then gained access to her treasure box where she was able to buy things that were in there. Now at 5, we’ve returned to the charts because she’s an avid reader, does NOT struggle with consistency, and likes the visual that shows where she’s doing well versus not so well.
I believe that mini’s teacher and I are a team when it comes to her development. When she told me that mini was having some issues with following the class rules and that she was going to put her on a behavior chart, I knew that it was time to create our chart. I have a thousand and one pre-printed charts but there are just tooooooo many behaviors that they’re focusing on there. In my research and experience, it’s best to work on 1-2 behaviors with a child. You don’t want to set them up for failure and focusing on 2 at a time until they have made that behavior a strength is the best way to go for all parties involved. As parents, we want ALL the behaviors corrected at once but it’s not feasible for the kids–or adults for that matter.
The best way to choose the focused behaviors is to list out all of the issues you’re currently having with your child. Often times these are just symptoms of a root problem(s). For us, it’s first time listening and not talking back–mini’s mouth will get her into trouble more often than not. Her behavior chart also reinforces what her teacher is working with her on. Mini knows that her teacher and I are on one accord and that’s best for the kids.
We’ve gone with the red, yellow, green smiley face method that has point values associated with them. Every Sunday, we discuss what it is that she’d like to earn by the end of the week. Once she’s decided and we’ve agreed upon it, I share with her the minimum points she has to earn at home and at school in order to earn it. Because I want her to be successful, I’ve made the minimums on the lower side. I want her to earn her reward so that she can see how good it feels to earn her reward.
And For Adults Too
Hypocrisy is one of the things that drives me crazy. I’ve always wanted to be the mom that says “do as I do, not just as I say”. I also believe in being pretty transparent with my kids. Mini is so smart and sees so much that I don’t want to hide things for her so that she sees the value in being open. I’m not perfect and there are some things that I need to work on in order to the best version of myself as well. I need to do a better job making time for myself and caring for myself. I want to be a better mother–more patient and less stressed–and I think this is rooted in how I take care (or haven’t been taking care) of myself.
Just like once mini achieves her goals, once I do I get a reward as well. This weeks reward will be a much needed evening at JeJu to enjoy silence and relaxation. Unlike mini, my system is more cut and dry–either I completed it or I didn’t. I don’t get any points for trying because as an adult, I believe that I either make it happen or I don’t.
All people are visual. For those that struggle with consistency, having a visual aide makes it hard to forget to check-in with whomever it is that needs to be checked in. Location is also really important for these charts. Mini’s is located right outside her door–once she opens her door she sees it. Mine is located next to my bed for me to see every morning and every evening. With the constant reminder of what we’re supposed to be doing as well as seeing what is we’re working towards, it keeps the behaviors that we’re working constantly in the forefront of our minds.
How do you handle disciplining in your house?