16 Sanity-Saving Tips for Celebrating Christmas With Little Kids

16 Sanity-Saving Tips for Celebrating Christmas With Little Kids

Last year, on the night of December 25, I put my kids to bed and collapsed on the couch. 

All I could think was, WHEW. It’s over. Thank goodness.

I remember feeling quite the opposite when I was a child. The end of the much-anticipated holiday was a major letdown; I couldn’t believe I had to wait 365 days to experience it all again. 

What happened to me, I wondered, that the end of the Christmas season now sparks relief rather than disappointment?

Oh, that’s right, I became a parent.

It’s true that having little kids makes the holidays more complicated—and sometimes more frustrating and stressful too. But small children are also amazing reminders of the magic, joy, and wonder of Christmas.

So this year I’m taking a different approach to make sure my family actually gets to enjoy all that magic and joy and wonder. I’m starting with these 16 serious sanity-savers. More →

5 Adult Conversations You Should Let Your Kids Overhear

5 Adult Conversations You Should Let Your Kids Overhear

A few weeks ago, my husband and I found ourselves in a rare situation: The toddler and the preschooler were happily playing a game together—no arguing over toys, no fighting over turns—and there was no end in sight.  

I realized my husband and I could have an uninterrupted adult conversation during the daylight hours. It was thrilling!

I quickly made two cups of tea, and we sat across from each other in our kitchen—within earshot but out of sight of our kids. While they laughed in the background, I shared with my husband that I was worried about an upcoming work project, and asked for his advice on making some frightening career-related decisions.

Ten minutes later the kids appeared asking for snacks, so we wrapped up our conversation and moved on.

Imagine my surprise when…

The following morning, my pajama-clad 5-year-old sat cross-legged on our bed, watching me put on my jewelry before heading to work.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he said: “Are you scared to go to work today, Mommy?”

“Scared to go to work? What do you mean?”

“Yesterday you told Daddy you were scared about your work.” 

Ahhhhhhhh, yes, I did. But I had no idea little ears that seemed to be pre-occupied heard every word of it. More →

What You Need to Know About Caring For a Sick Toddler

What You Need to Know About Caring For a Sick Toddler

Tracking PixelI received product and compensation from Mead Johnson Nutrition to create this post written by me. All experiences and opinions expressed in this post are my own and not those of Mead Johnson Nutrition. You can contact Mead Johnson Nutrition with product related questions or comments toll free at 1-888-777-3395.

What You Need to Know About Caring for a Sick Toddler

When my oldest child was not quite two years old, we took him for a train ride on a real-life Thomas the Tank Engine.

This is going to be so much fun! I remember thinking the morning of the trip. What a wonderful family excursion I’ve planned! He is going to love it! 

But he did not love it.

Quite the opposite, actually.

He spent most of the time whining to be held, then whining to be put down the moment I picked him up. He shied away from all the sights and sounds, but then cried when we took him away from the hustle and bustle.

He didn’t have any clue what he wanted, and we didn’t either.

That day my son was one unhappy child, which made me one frustrated mama. Come on, this was supposed to be FUN! I remember thinking.

After an hour and a half, we threw in the towel and headed to the car. We were all grouchy the rest of the day.

You know where this is heading, don’t you?

More →

How Ruining My Kid’s Artwork Made Me a Better Parent

How Ruining My Kid’s Artwork Made Me a Better Parent

It all started innocently enough. My 5-year-old said he wanted to make hearts for his grandparents for Grandparents Day, and wouldn’t it be cool if they could be all glittery???

Most days I’d be hesitant about that idea, but for some reason that day I immediately exclaimed, “Sure, let’s get out all the glitter!” 

My first mistake, perhaps? 

How Ruining My Kid's Artwork Made Me a Better Parent

Making the art

So we cut out the hearts, retrieved some bottles of glue, and lined up eight different vials of glitter. My son got to work drawing various designs on the hearts with marker—shapes and spirals and even a bird for his Gigi’s heart—which we then accented with lines of glitter.

My son is to the point where he can pour the glitter carefully, without turning the whole kitchen into a sparkly princess castle, but I sat by and assisted him anyway just in case. I had a long list of to-dos and mopping fairy dust off my table wasn’t about to be one of them.

The project was going well for awhile. But then, the clock began to tick. More →

An Educator’s Top Tips for Engaging Your Gifted Reader

An Educator’s Top Tips for Engaging Your Gifted Reader

This is a guest post by Emilie O’Neal.

5 Tips for Challenging and Engaging Your Gifted Reader #education #parenting

Having an avid and gifted reader is a parenting dream, but sometimes the reality of keeping your gifted learner challenged is hard.

We know the old cliché where the students who seem to be the most bored in school are, ironically, our top learners, but that pattern can be avoided if we identify those students and support them with the same vigor we support struggling students. We need to keep that learning spark alive by challenging and engaging our gifted readers from the beginning.

Not sure where to begin? When you’re reading books with your gifted reader (and learner), just remember Q.U.E.S.T.! More →

30 Ways to Make This Autumn Unforgettable [Free Printable]

30 Ways to Make This Autumn Unforgettable [Free Printable]

Last week, after I vocally mourned the end of summer for the fifty-seventh time, my son chimed in that he actually loves fall and is really excited that it’s finally here.

“We get to jump in the leaves at Nana’s house!” he cheered. “And pick out our Halloween costumes! And go to the fair!”

Leave it to our kids to find the silver linings, right? Gotta love those little optimists!

So before I complain again that the lazy days of summer have come to a close, I’m going to check myself and remember all the fun that autumn brings.

30 Ways to Make Autumn Unforgettable

To help, I’m printing out this adorable calendar with 30 Days of Fall Activities. More →

Dear Son, About That Pink Bathing Suit

Dear Son, About That Pink Bathing Suit

Dear son,

Can we talk about that pink bathing suit you wore all summer long? 

You see, you’re five years old now, which means you’re honing in on your unique likes and dislikes. We’ve started letting you choose your own clothes to make space for your self expression to flourish.

This summer you chose a pink bathing suit.

Dear Son, About That Pink Bathing SuitPink rash guard. 

Pink swim trunks.

Head to toe pink.

I wasn’t surprised when you picked it out. Like many kids, your favorite color has been variable, sometimes week to week, sometimes minute to minute. But the one color you’ve consistently loved since toddlerhood? PINK.

Not coral.

Not salmon.

PINK. More →

The Life-Changing Parenting Lesson I Learned From a Bucket of Seashells

The Life-Changing Parenting Lesson I Learned From a Bucket of Seashells

Because I’m a creature of habit, I got up at 6am every morning on our recent vacation to go for a walk.

What can I say, I’m a morning person

After the first day, however, my walks morphed into something much more than thirty minutes of exercise. They became focused, targeted, voracious hunts for…seashells.

You see, we were vacationing at the beach, and on the very first day my 4-year-old developed an intense obsession with collecting seashells. He’s always been one to go all in, and this was no exception.

Do you want to build a sandcastle? Nah.

Swim in the ocean? No thanks.

Look for seashells? LET’S GO, LET’S GO, LET’S GO!

His enthusiasm was contagious. On my early morning strolls I couldn’t stop myself from searching for a few to take back to the beach house for him. I splashed through the lapping waves and grabbed shells out of the surf—tossing the broken ones back as I sought out a coveted “keeper.” 

I found some impressive ones. Or so I thought.

The Life-Changing Parenting Lesson I Learned From a Bucket of Seashells

When I brought these two back for him, I expected oooooohhhhs and ahhhhhhhhhs. I expected eyes widened with excitement, a smile broad with gratitude. 

Instead, I got a shrug. A measly shrug.  More →

This Magic Trick Can Completely Transform Your Relationship in a Single Day

This Magic Trick Can Completely Transform Your Relationship in a Single Day

I could tell you that I didn’t hear my husband come in the door, but that would be a lie.

The truth is that I did hear him fiddle with his keys, then pick up his computer bag with one hand and gym bag with the other, ultimately shoving the door open with his elbow.

I did hear it, though it would be understandable if I didn’t—what with the thunderous crashing of my preschooler’s Disney cars as they raced across our dining room floor, not to mention my toddler screaming “Mommy hold me!” on repeat as she clung to my leg while I seasoned the chicken breasts for dinner.

Even with all that noise and chaos, I did hear my husband come home from work. I heard him loud and clear.

But I did not budge from my spot at the stove. I did not turn my body or even just my head. I didn’t say a word either.

I simply pretended I hadn’t heard him come in.

Here’s the really crazy part of the story

It sounds like a passive aggressive move, doesn’t it? A really mean, manipulative thing to do. Is pretending not to hear our husbands walk in the door a regular thing wives do when our husbands are in big, big trouble?

If so, here’s the crazy part: There was no trouble. I wasn’t angry at him in the least; indeed, I was HAPPY that he was home. Inside I felt a surge of joy—joy mixed with relief that my solo parenting was over for the day.

So why did I not acknowledge his presence?  More →

The Train Analogy That Will Completely Change How You See Your Crying Child

The Train Analogy That Will Completely Change How You See Your Crying Child

My 4-year-old was climbing into bed, his face turned away from me and toward the wall, when he asked the question.

“Where’s Glenn?”

His tone made the question sound like an afterthought, but I know better. Glenn is the opposite of an afterthought; he’s the tiger lovey blanket my son has been carting around with him since he was old enough to maintain a tight grasp. 

The Train Analogy That Will Completely Change the Way You See Your Crying Child

My husband offered to head back downstairs to search, and I absently commented that I actually hadn’t seen Glenn around that evening, which was unusual.

At that, my son slowly turned around to face me but without making eye contact, his mind racing. His eyes were fixed on some background point as his mouth twisted and turned with each darting thought. They met mine only as he realized it, his shoulders straightening and his back growing taller as the panic scaled him. 

Finally, the shout: “I left Glenn in the back of Gigi’s car!!!” More →

This is the Last Chubby Summer

This is the Last Chubby Summer

Savoring the Summer With a ToddlerI’m sitting cross-legged on the grass in the middle of our half-acre backyard. There isn’t a foot of shade to be found, so I’m letting the sun beat down on me as I shield my eyes to watch my two kids run around our play set. 

Suddenly my two-year-old is barreling toward me, then she’s collapsing into the tiny spot between my crossed ankles. She’s all sweat and dirt and giggles.

I forget that we’re both sticky and gross in this summer heat and just wrap my arms around her little toddler body. My hands find a resting spot on her fleshy thighs, and I give them a loving squeeze. I inhale deeply and try to memorize the moment, but in an instant she’s up again and running across the yard and back to the play set. All I’m left with is the echo of her happy squeals, but I remain hyper-aware of the way her legs felt pressed up against my thumbs and forefingers. More →

5 Gifts Moms Must Start Giving Themselves

5 Gifts Moms Must Start Giving Themselves

5 Gifts Moms Must Start Giving ThemselvesDo you know how some people are just amazing gift givers?

I have one particular friend who always blows me away with her birthday and holiday gifts. They are always simple—never extravagant—and yet obviously chosen with such thoughtfulness and kindness.

And they are always so me. I am reminded again and again that she understands me in a way that others do not just be looking at the small tokens of our friendship she picks out for me.

She’s basically the Jack Donaghy of gift givers.

I, on the other hand, am not. When choosing a present for someone, I struggle and agonize and google gift lists all day long.

The only thing tougher than choosing a gift for someone else? Giving one to myself. More →