4 Surprising Words Kids Should Say Every Day

4 Surprising Words Kids Should Say Every Day

4 Surprising Words Kids Should Say Every DayA typical conversation around my dinner table sounds something like this:

Daddy to preschooler: How was your day today?

Preschooler: Good!

Mommy to preschooler: Did you have fun at gymnastics class?

Preschooler: YES!

[Baby squeals!]

Mommy to preschooler: What was your favorite part?

Preschooler: I liked jumping on the trampoline. I also liked swinging from the rings.

Daddy to preschooler: That sounds like fun! What else did you do today?

Preschooler: Ate a grilled cheese sandwich and played with cars.

[More baby squeals!]

And on and on.

Do you see a trend here?

In every part of the conversation, a grown-up is asking a question and the child is answering it. Back and forth, back and forth—a tennis game of sorts between bites of pasta and sips of water.

There’s nothing inherently wrong about this scene, of course; what’s most important is that we’re engaging in regular family dinners and using that time to catch up and connect. 

But the constant focus of the conversation is glaringly obvious: my son. 

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7 Fun Ways to Foster a Love of Reading in Your Preschooler

7 Fun Ways to Foster a Love of Reading in Your Preschooler

Thanks to Speakaboos for sponsoring this conversation.

7 Ways to Foster a Love of Reading in Your Preschooler

One of my 3-year-old’s favorite treats is when we let him stay up late and hang out in our bed reading as many books as we can.

“Tonight I want to read FIFTY books!” he’ll declare with delight. 

I’m delighted too (even if the idea of actually reading fifty books with him sounds a bit exhausting!). It’s wonderful to see him that excited about reading.

That’s because I know an early love of reading creates lifelong readers and learners. A child who loves reading from a young age is more likely to succeed in school and develop a healthy curiosity about the surrounding world.

But like many passions, it has to start early. It’s much easier to cultivate a love of reading in young children than it is to try to play catch-up later on.

Want to encourage your preschooler to #ChooseReading? Here are seven fun ways to get your 3, 4, or 5-year-old enthusiastic about books and learning. More →

The Surprising Truth About the Transition to Two Kids

The Surprising Truth About the Transition to Two Kids

I am a mommy ROCKSTAR.

Those were the words I thought to myself four weeks after my second child was born

I had just come up with this genius way to play with my first child even while I breastfed my newborn around the clock. As I nursed my baby, my then 2-year-old would play with his cars on the floor in front of us and I would narrate the action like a broadcaster.

“The blue car and the red car are lining up to race. Now they are revving their engines. Who is going to win this epic battle? And they’re off! Look, the blue car is taking the lead!” 

He would squeal with delight as I reported every detail of his play aloud. He didn’t feel neglected in the least; indeed, I was probably paying more attention to him and his play than I had before his little sister joined the family.

The Surprising Truth About the Transition to Two Kids

I am a mommy ROCKSTARLook at me, transitioning to two children with such ease!

With ease, indeed.

You see, looking back on those first few weeks and months, I realize how far from the long-term reality they actually were.

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12 Painless Ways To Be a Greener Family

12 Painless Ways To Be a Greener Family

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Scott Tube-Free. All opinions are 100% mine.

12 Painless Ways to be a Greener FamilyEvery morning, after I’ve scooped my morning yogurt into a bowl already filled with fruit and granola, I have an important decision to make.

Am I going to rinse out and recycle the empty yogurt container, or save a few seconds in my busy morning and toss it in the trash?

Some of you might be horrified that I even consider pitching it, but the truth is that I struggle with this daily. Deep down I believe in being environmentally friendly, but in the moment I sometimes choose the easier option because life is hectic, and I also believe in cutting myself some slack.

I’m no psychologist, but I think the internal discomfort this causes me is called cognitive dissonance.

Part of the problem, I think, is that I’ve bought into the myth that being green requires a complete lifestyle overhaul.

I’ve convinced myself that if I truly showed more care to the environment, it would totally alter my schedule, my day-to-day activities, and my budget.

But that’s not really true.

While a total lifestyle overhaul is probably ideal, small changes—painless changes—can actually add up to a big impact on the environment.

Here are some of the practically effortless adjustments we’re making in our family to show a bit more care to our earth.

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I Don’t Want My Body Back

I Don’t Want My Body Back

Why I Don't Want My Body Back“Your baby is how old again?” she asked me.

“Ten months, I can’t hardly believe it!” I responded.

“And you’ve obviously gotten your body back, too. Good for you!”

[Insert my eye roll]

There’s no shortage of advice out there for how to “get your body back” after having a baby, and in case you think it isn’t doable, there’s always a gossip magazine to show you how such-and-such celebrity got hers back in just 3 weeks/days/hours/minutes.

That’s right, you just went through the most physically and emotionally exhausting feat of your life, and you’re led to believe your next thought should not be, Whoa, my body is freakin’ INCREDIBLE! but rather, I wonder how soon I can start doing crunches again?

This is unbelievably messed up, and I think it all begins with that ridiculous phrase “get your body back.” 

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29 Ways to Soothe a Fussy Baby (with printable checklist!)

29 Ways to Soothe a Fussy Baby (with printable checklist!)

29 Ways to Soothe a Fussy Baby...with a free printable checklist!

Before I had my first child, I had zero real experience taking care of a baby.

I was banking on those so-called maternal instincts to kick in, and therefore was quite terrified when I realized that a bunch of those things new moms are supposed to “just know” actually don’t come naturally to a lot of us!

So when my baby boy arrived, I kept a mental checklist of all the soothing techniques I had read about and tried them out as needed to see which ones worked for him.

My second child is now ten months old, and that mental checklist of baby-soothing techniques has stayed with me. Indeed, I’ve been significantly more calm and confident as a mom the second time around—in large part thanks to this handy little list.

In the spirit of spreading the wealth, I’ve taken all my techniques and turned them into this convenient printable checklist. 

Got a friend who’s a first-time mom-to-be?

Send it her way so she can hang it on her fridge during those first few crazy weeks with a newborn.

Baby staying with a sitter for the first time?

Print this out and highlight the strategies that work best for your unique little one.

Grandparents out of practice?

Give them this list to help them brush up on their soothing techniques. 

Your fussy baby will be smiling in no time!  More →

5 Ways to Save Money While Keeping Your Family Healthy—Plus a Chance to Win $400!

5 Ways to Save Money While Keeping Your Family Healthy—Plus a Chance to Win $400!

Thanks to United Healthcare for sponsoring this conversation.

5 Ways to Save Money While Keeping Your Family Healthy

I stood in the produce aisle of the grocery store having a little debate with myself while my infant smiled at every shopper who walked past our cart.

Should I buy more than one package of the organic berries? I asked myself. 

On the one hand, I’m always encouraging my preschooler (and myself!) to snack on healthy foods like fresh fruits and veggies. So stocking up on those options is a must.

But on the other hand, I’d blown through my grocery budget the last few trips and was really trying to rein it in this time—and those berries were not cheap. 

It’s a struggle most parents can relate to.

We want to do the best for our children and families; we want them to be as healthy and happy as they can be.

But we also don’t have unlimited funds in our bank account to make it happen.

The good news is that getting and staying in tip-top shape doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are five little tricks that can boost your family’s health without breaking the bank. More →

10 Tiny Changes That Make a Big Impact on Your Family’s Well-Being

10 Tiny Changes That Make a Big Impact on Your Family’s Well-Being

My husband and I were recently discussing the fact that we’ve both pushed our health to the back burner for far too long, and we’re really starting to feel the effects.

“But getting to the gym regularly just feels impossible right now,” I sighed, thinking of the effort it would take to figure out what to do with both the 3-year-old and the infant every time I wanted to break a sweat. “And most nights we have all of 20 minutes to try to make a nutritious dinner,” he added.

But we agreed that complaining about the problem wasn’t going to solve it, so instead we made a list.

Not a list of our grand, someday health goals (like run another half marathon or expose our kids to every type of vegetable on the planet), but rather of itty bitty changes that could help all of us feel a whole lot better. Then we committed to tackling each item on the list one by one—assuming that as we did, we’d slowly start to build up our healthy habits, which cumulatively would make a big impact.

It’s a logical plan, yes, and also one that’s backed by research.

A 2012 study from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation found that small changes really can make a big impact on your health.

“Every increment towards a healthier lifestyle makes an improvement,” explained the study’s lead researcher. “You don’t have to be totally perfect starting right this very second.”

Want to make your own list of small (read: totally doable) changes that will make you and your family healthier? Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

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Why I’m Thankful for My Kid’s Meltdowns

Why I’m Thankful for My Kid’s Meltdowns

Why I'm Thankful for My Kid's MeltdownsIn my family, Christmas of 2015 will forever be remembered as the one when our son had a throw-yourself-on-the-floor-scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs meltdown after the last present had been opened. 

It was EPIC.

The poor kid was totally overloaded by the excitement and anticipation of the big day, and the fact that it was over felt unbearable to him.

Looking back on that day, you’d think that I would be a little disappointed that that happened. I mean, it was Christmas! A day of joy and celebration, not of epic 3-year-old meltdowns!

But I’m actually pretty glad it happened, and here’s why.

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5 Fun Ways to Make Easter Extra Special

5 Fun Ways to Make Easter Extra Special

5 Fun Ways to Make Easter Extra Special

For those who celebrate it, Easter is a very beloved holiday—partly because it is one of the most important holidays in the Christian faith, and partly because it is a symbolic beginning to the much-anticipated spring season.

After battling snowstorms, frigid temperatures, and icy driving conditions, we all seem to breathe a collective sigh of relief when Easter, and with it spring, finally rolls around.

Whether Easter is already one of your favorite holidays or not, these five simple ideas will make it an extra special day for your family this year.

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The Devastating Way We Are Unintentionally Limiting Our Daughters

The Devastating Way We Are Unintentionally Limiting Our Daughters

The Devastating Way We're Unintentionally Limiting Our Daughters© morrowlight/Dollar Photo Club

“Look, Mommy, there’s a squirrel over there!” my 3-year-old squealed five minutes into our walk at a local park.

“Yes, I see him!” I replied enthusiastically. “It looks like he’s gathering some of the acorns by that tree.”  

“Do you think he’s a cute squirrel, Mommy?” 

“Yes, I do. Do you?”

“Yeah, I think he’s really cute.” 

Did you notice anything strange about that conversation I had with my child? 

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15 Ways to Make Birthdays Special (Without Throwing a Big Party!)

15 Ways to Make Birthdays Special (Without Throwing a Big Party!)

15 Ways to Make Birthdays Extra Special Without Throwing a Big Party

The evening after my first child’s first birthday party, I’m pretty sure I collapsed on the couch with exhaustion.

It was an awesome Very Hungry Caterpillar-themed birthday party: tons of friends and family, a caterpillar garland of photos from my boy’s first year of life, and cake smashed everywhere. 

I went all out, and it was a blast! But I immediately knew that I wouldn’t be able to put in that much effort ever again.

Fortunately, big bashes aren’t essential to making your child’s birthday an exceptional event.

(They can also backfire, since many children find large gatherings overwhelming!)

Here are 15 ways to make birthdays special—and not one of them involves throwing a big party! More →