10 Signs You’re Officially in Toddler Life

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It all happens so fast. Somewhere between the cooing days and the first true meltdown, your baby becomes a walking, talking, and dare I say, exhausting toddler. In the blink of an eye, you are packing up the burp cloths, bottles, and onesies. In comes the Disney themed tableware, sippy cups, legos, and big kid clothes. Let’s be honest, the baby phase is sweet and precious, but the real fun is when our children start interacting, learning, and amazing us with how quickly they are growing into a little person, with their very own personalities. It’s not as though we have a celebrated date for the beginning of toddler life. We don’t wake up and think to ourselves, “Today is September 28th and little Bobby becomes a toddler”. Nope. The day you realize, that your world is completely consumed by the tiny and adorable tyrant(s) in your house, is the day you’ve officially entered toddler life. Here are 10 signs that day is upon you.

1. Toys become much more parent involved. Where did the squeaky, soft, lovable and easy toys go? You know the ones that we could just whip out of our diaper bag, and baby would be entertained. Pretend keys, board books, and carseat toys no longer make the cut. Now we’ve got toys that require eight batteries (never mind how those batteries constantly die), and come with ten page instruction manuals. Suddenly toys require thought, math, and geometry. The thing about spending hours putting together little Susie’s life-size doll house, is that in a week, she will be over it. Your Saturday mornings are now dedicated to the newest toy in the house, and that fun instruction manual.

2. NEVER, EVER, have you disliked public bathrooms so much in your life. Because when your toddler has to go, and the two of you enter the bathroom stall, its on like donkey kong. Here is your conversation.

Don’t touch anything! Don’t touch that toilet seat! Don’t take your pants and underwear off, and then throw them on the floor! Why would you do that? Do not open that shiny little box next to the toilet.Those are not toys inside. Don’t touch the sides of the toilet seat. Don’t flush the toilet handle, because Mommy will do it. Hey.. I know you like to look at your poop after, but can you not lean in so far and simultaneously flush the toilet, because the water sprays all over you, and it’s not funny. It’s disgusting! Don’t touch the baby changing station. Yes, that brown mark you are pointing at is actually poop, but mom is trying to speed pee, so DON’T touch it! Can I just pee!? Hold on..wait!! I’ll give you a sucker if you don’t sit down or touch anything. Ughh, can you PLEASE not sit on the floor, it’s covered in pee and gross stuff, which now means you are!!

A public bathroom is your WORST enemy! Note to new mom’s – Carry a travel potty in the trunk of your car, and embrace nature pees, when you can!

3. Sleeping eight, or even five hours without a single interruption is a thing of the past. No seriously, you would pay big money for a solid nights sleep. It was such a tease when your little one starting sleeping through the night. You thought, “Hey this isn’t so bad, I’ve got this”. No, no you don’t, because that was just a dirty rotten trick that your precious baby played on you. Enter –> Toddler beds, nightmare’s, and potty training. All three culprits have arrived and are doing a fantastic job at demolishing any and all hope for a normal night’s sleep. Time to invest in quality eye cream and a larger coffee pot.

4. Cooking a meal that should take you 30 minutes takes you 2 hours. You will never understand this, until it finally happens. To put it in perspective, it’s like cooking in a kitchen full of puppies. You’re trying not to trip over the toys or small wild animals running amok in the house. You’re interrupted at least ten times because the adorable, but wild animals are either fighting, have emptied all the finger paint on the floor, need a snack, water, or potty break. My advice – Invest in a slow cooker!

5. You never, ever, have enough band aids. When you see them on clearance, buy all of them!

6. Remember when your little one first said “Mommy”, and you just about cried with joy. Now you hear, “Mom” 85 times a day. If you’ve ever had the urge to hide in a closet after the 63rd, “Mom, can you..” , “Mom, I need..” , “Mom, he hit me..”, don’t worry because you are completely normal.

7. Picking your battles has never been so important. It’s no use crying over spilt milk, right? That famous quote has never rang so true. It’s time to pick your battles with your toddler because they want to challenge you, and your patience, on EVERYTHING!

8. If you could enter a food competition for the fastest eater, you would surely win. Sometimes you wonder if you actually tasted the food that you just inhaled. In between each bite, you were packing lunches, wiping butts, dressing kids, and cleaning scrambled eggs off the floor. Come to think of it, you probably haven’t sat down for breakfast or lunch in years.

9. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. You constantly have conversations similar to mine below.

Me: “Get dressed, Audrey”.

Audrey: “Okay Mom”. Audrey continues to color her art project.

Me: “Audrey, get dressed!” Audrey ignores, and runs to take her little brother’s lego car from him. Little brother has a meltdown and is looking for revenge.

Me: “Audrey, if you don’t get dressed this second, then you lose dessert tonight!”

Audrey: “I heard you, Mom!” Audrey goes in room and sees clothes on bed, but instead decides to start jumping off the bed over and over again.

Me: “Audrey, if I have to come in that room and you aren’t dressed…” Audrey hurries to take pajamas off. I walk by and see Audrey finally putting her shirt on, and sigh with relief! Unfortunately, she is quickly side tracked by a necessary head stand, but back on track when she sees my glare. After a few more somersaults, the pants and socks are finally on too.

Audrey: “Mom, I’m ready”. Mom is relieved. She walks in room, and sees that everything is on backwards. Audrey grins proudly, and Mom contemplates letting her go to school like that. 

10. You have officially touched, smelt, and felt every sort of possible toddler body fluid possible. It’s no longer spitting up formula or breast milk, it’s throwing up last nights spaghetti dinner all over you. It’s runny noses being wiped on your shirt. It’s catching your toddler with boogers on their little fingers, looking for a place to wipe them. It’s pee-pee on the floor or undies filled with poo-poo. You would hope, just as yourself, these things would gross your toddler out, but instead they are fascinated by all of it, so be prepared.

Life with toddlers is wonderful. It’s hilarious, honest, and exciting, but it’s also exhausting and down right dirty at times. I wouldn’t trade any of it. Okay, I’d trade the potty training stage, but that’s it. What I love the most about toddler life, is the raw vulnerability each child holds. To live life through the eyes of a child is a beautiful gift that we are blessed to experience as parents. Happy toddler life all!

Mom Notes: First Week of Kindergarten

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It came, it went, and we survived! The first week of kindergarten for your firstborn can bring a mixed bag of emotions. Although your baby isn’t taking off for college (we all know who will be a hot mess when that happens), he/she is transitioning into a new and exciting phase. The days of lazy mornings and walks to the park are over. Trips to mommy and me music class, drop-in gymnastics, or soccer tots are switching to organized sports/activities. This ultimately means..move to the sidelines, Mom, you’re no longer in charge of everything! School means curriculum, attendance, and accountability from everyone. The start of kindergarten is a right of passage for both child and mom. Whether your child is ready and eager to start kindergarten or a bit reluctant, being prepared for the first day and first weeks is helpful. So, to the first time kindergarten mommas here are my first week notes.

Emotional Preparation

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If you are the mom who can keep those emotions in check – BRAVO! It means you usually don’t need to carry the kleenex, wear the sunglasses, or avoid mascara that day. My suggestion, ignore your usual stoic self. Here is why. When you lay in bed the night before your child’s first day of kindergarten, tossing and turning like a fish out of water, you will come to the realization that you not just your child are overwhelmed with emotions. Anxiety, nerves, excitement and a bit of sadness will surface. These are the questions that pop in your head. Will she be sad to leave me? Will she know I’m sad leaving her? Will she feel alone at all during the day? What if someone is mean to her? What if she doesn’t make any friends the first days? Have I done enough to prepare her?

After you replay these questions over and over in your head, you don’t fall asleep. Nope! Next you take a trip down memory lane. You remember all those precious firsts. The first time she rolled over, the first bites of baby food, the first crawl, the first words, the first step, the first time she really walked. You remember how incredibly proud your were of these little triumphs. You remember all the times you kissed a boo boo, wiped the tears, nursed a fever, or climbed in her bed to hug away a bad nightmare. You remember the spilled milk, the dresser drawers she cleared out, and the way she covered the entire kitchen floor with spaghetti. You remember the many potty training victories, and the first time she was brave enough to ride her scooter all by herself. Following memory lane, you start to question, “Did I savor these moments enough?” or “Was I the best mom I could be?” Suddenly, the only mommy advice you can remember, was from your mom, your aunties, your grandma, and the many women at the grocery store telling you, “Enjoy this time, it goes fast, and you will never get it back”. It’s during this pivotal moment, when that one statement, the one comment you heard so frequently during those baby years, suddenly hits the nail on the head.

So mommas, on the day you drop your little one at kindergarten, hug her tightly. When she let’s go of your embrace, and nervously walks into her new classroom, but thankfully turns back to smile, you will suddenly find it hard to swallow, but remember..it will be okay. You spent the last five years nurturing your little bean. You’ve done everything to help prepare her for this moment, you just didn’t realize you weren’t fully prepared. Those little daggers you feel in your heart, are just love pains. As you walk away and finally release those tears, you should feel proud and excited. Although it feels like your little one is growing up too fast, you have many years ahead. It’s true, you can’t go back to those infant years, but you’ve done good, momma.

Get Organized

Now that we’ve touched on the emotional part, let’s pull it together. You don’t want to be the parent who is scrambling from the get go. Yes, you are new at this, and are allowed to be confused about the exact way to drop off your child. Believe me, each school has some serious rules about pick up and drop off. So, instead of chatting with the other mom’s at Back To School Night, LISTEN! Know what the teachers expect from you. The teachers and staff have 25 little humans to attend to, they don’t need 25 clueless mom’s. Ask questions. Be on time! Make lunches the night before. Have school supplies ready. Know the proper school attire. Think of it as if you are starting a new job. You want to make a good impression from the start and lead by example. If you are organized, then your child will be too. It took a few days, but we now have a good morning flow. Biggest suggestion – leave 10 minutes earlier than planned.

Second Sibling Surprise

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This took me by surprise, but I wasn’t the only one who struggled with the start of kindergarten for my firstborn. To add to your emotional roller coaster, at some point during the first days of school, you may notice a change in your secondborn. He may have frequent tantrums, or increased “bad” behavior. You will feel thankful to have your second child at home, but expect a transition phase for little Bobby or Sally. During the third day of kindergarten drop off, I was feeling great and that little bubble in my throat disappeared. Well.. it didn’t disappear for long. It’s heartbreaking to watch your littlest miss their best buddy. Most second children idolize their older siblings, so it can feel like they are being left behind. You may hear questions and comments like the below:

“Momma, can I go to Kindergarten too?”

“Momma, I miss sissy”

“Momma, I want to go in the classroom with her.”

“Momma, when is sissy back from school”

“Momma, I’m sad”

Trust me, this feels like a stab in the heart all over again (especially looking at this photo that unintentionally captured his sadness). But, with a little extra love and nurturing they will get used to the new schedule. Engaging in new activities will make the time spent away from big brother or sister fun and exciting. Remind your second born that this is alone time with mommy, which they likely haven’t had much of. In time, the sadness will leave, especially when they see that their idol, best buddy, and protector comes home everyday, excited to play with them.

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First time kindergarten mommas, wipe away those tears. Enjoy a little time to yourself. Hey, you might even be able to go to the bathroom ON YOUR OWN for the first time in years. Get prepared to volunteer, be the soccer mom, the swim mom, or whatever it might be. Our hearts grew double in size the day our babies were born, and the unconditional love, guidance, support and nurturing will always be important! No matter how big our babies get.

10 Ways To Help A New Mom

Bringing a newborn home is one of life’s greatest gifts, but it also comes with new emotions, sleepless nights, and stressful moments. Whether she is becoming a mom for the first or third time, the love and support from family and close friends will be greatly appreciated. Here are 10 ways to help a new mom.

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1. Bring a meal. Mom really needs some down-home-cooking. With sleepless nights and no time to cook, she will appreciate not having to think about putting a meal on the table. Extra tidbit – Breakfast counts too! I once brought this breakfast quiche with a fruit salad for a dear friend. After a night of nursing, she loved having a hearty and healthy meal to wake up to.

2. Babysit. If mom is on baby number two, offer to take the older sibling out of the house for a bit. Even if you’re not the babysitting type, you can handle one hour at the park or a trip for ice cream. As she is adjusting to becoming a mother of two, the balance is new, and sometimes challenging. Knowing her oldest is having a little extra attention will allow her to relax with the new baby.

3. When you pop in for coffee to meet the new baby, DO SOMETHING! She will, of course, insist that you don’t do the dishes, fold the laundry, or make lunch, but your job is to insist back! If you are a close friend, then you are like family, and this new momma needs a little help from family.

4. Although baby and mom need the most attention, don’t forget Daddy. He is likely running around, unsure of what nipple cream to buy, how to stop a crying baby or aid an emotional new mom. He is also sleep deprived, trying to work, and needs a little love like momma. If you are close enough, then check in with the new Daddy. See if he has any questions, or needs a little help with his new and IMPORTANT role.

5. Back to the food thing again. Mom’s are hungry, nursing or bottle feeding constantly, and tired. So, if cooking isn’t your thing, I promise, she will love when you deliver a rotisserie chicken with sides from Whole Foods. Even better – Sign up with CareCalendar.org or Mealtrain.com. Both sites help you organize meals for the family.

6. Help her nap. If you have the time and feel comfortable to do so, offer to come over and watch the baby. Newborns nap frequently, so the baby will likely be sleeping on your watch – easy peasy! The problem with most mom’s, is that they are squeezing in every to-do during the baby’s nap. Knowing that a loving and capable person is in the room watching baby, gives mom piece of mind to actually sleep.

7. Run an errand for her. Getting out the door with a newborn is no easy feat. Ring your friend and ask if you can swing by the store to grab diapers, formula, or groceries. Again insist, because she doesn’t want to be a burden, but is secretly thrilled that you offered!

8. Listen. If your friend is exhausted or emotional with all the changes, be her soundboard. Hug her and tell her she is doing wonderful. Then go do #3 or #6.

9. Don’t stay too long. Although she loves seeing you and appreciates your help, she is tired, and everything evolves around a tiny human. Leave but know she loves you!

10. Gift mom, not baby (yes, I said that), a basket of goods. If you have ever been to a baby shower then you know the amount of baby gear a new mom gets is over-the-top. Don’t bring another cute outfit or Sophie the Giraffe, bring mom a few items that she can use. Her focus is 100% baby, so pampering herself is the last thing on her mind during these early months. A basket with her favorite snacks, a great movie, a pair of comfy socks, or cute pajamas (button down if nursing), is a great way to make your friend and new mom feel the love.

It’s sometimes confusing to figure out what to do, or how to help, but your love and support will be appreciated more than you know. Start with asking and offering. Remember, just being there is the number one way to help a new mom.

*Beautiful mom pictured for this post was not taken by me. 

To The Busy Mom..

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A few weeks back, I read this quote and it stuck with me.

“To the world you are a mother, but to your family you are the world”.

For me, it begged the question, “What can I do to be a better mom?” Afterall, I want Audrey and Jack’s world to be full of joy, opportunity, and most of all love. I’m not perfect. I’ve made many parenting mistakes, but I like to think I’m a good mom. The quote inspired me, but I wasn’t sitting around analyzing motherhood or myself. It was food for thought.

As a SAHM caring for a three and five-year-old, life can feel a bit groundhog day-ish. Each day has a busy schedule that includes breakfast, dressing the kids, taking them to preschool, lunch, driving them to soccer, gymnastics, playdates, naps, snack, dinner, bath..and so on. Let’s not forget, squeezing in laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc. Working moms or SAHMs..our days may look a little different, but it’s the same idea. We can all relate. Eight hours after my head hits the pillow, it starts all over again, minus Bill Murray. I love being a mom, but it can be exhausting. Any mother who tells you different is flat-out lying. When your life becomes about schedules, routines, and to-do lists, you feel as though you never have enough time. About two months ago, I had a significant conversation with my daughter. It was a reality check. One I didn’t know I needed.

Audrey: Mom, will you play with me?

Me: Sweetie, not right now, I need to finish this paperwork.

Audrey: Ughh, you’re always too busy cooking, cleaning, on the computer, or whatever else.

Me: Well Audrey, this is important. And all those things I do, are for our family.

As I finished filling out forms for her kindergarten, I kept thinking about our conversation. My mind kept going around and around. It went something like this..

I play with her all the time. Self-play is important. I’m constantly running these kids around town for fun. And that depressing head-down walk she did..looks exactly like that damn cartoon, Cailou. His entire life is a pity party. Can’t stand that kid. So glad I nixed that show. I need to finish some things in the house, and then I can take them to the park. She should understand. Or maybe she really misses me. Shit..now I feel terrible. But, this house..and dinner..and I really wanted to fit an eyebrow wax in today, because I may soon have a unibrow..ughhh. I need to go hug her. 

Most parents have encountered similar situations. Sometimes we have responsibilities that can’t wait. That’s called BEING AN ADULT and raising a family. But, our conversation struck a chord with me. I started to think about the last time I sat down and really played with her. Sure, I read to the kids, we cook together, and attend all sorts of activities. I’m ALWAYS with them, but when was the last time that I got down on the ground, to simply play? I couldn’t think of a recent time. I was flooded with mommy guilt. What was so pressing that it couldn’t wait 20 minutes? Nothing. My daughter simply wanted to spend time with me. It was a ding ding moment that rang clear. Kelly – remember to live in the moment.

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Like all mom’s, I want to nurture, protect, teach, and guide my children. But, I love being silly, fun, and light-hearted with them too. It’s when they are happiest. The sound of their giggles is priceless. When they are all grown up, I want them to remember the time, that we built a fort in the Presidio and pretended to be ninjas hiding from the bad guys. I want them to remember the time, that we played bowling in the hallway with paper cups and a tennis ball. I want them to remember the time, that we were covered in finger paint. I want them to remember the many pretend picnics we had with Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk, Mickey, and Mr. Lamby. These are memories we’ve already built and I want that to continue. Even though the days of toddler life seem to run together, they are filled with mini celebrations, milestones, and heart touching moments. I realized then, I didn’t need to be a better mom, I just needed a reminder of what is important during these precious and busy years. Being present and forgetting the to-do list sometimes.

I’m still the same mom running around the house with a schedule and list, but I’m okay letting things wait. I may never have enough time in the day for my to-do’s, but I always have enough time for a game of hungry hippos. I may never find the bottom of the laundry basket, but I’m pretty good at building train tracks with my son. Three nights ago, as I tucked my daughter in bed, she grabbed my face and whispered in my ear,

“Mommy, I love you so much. You are the best mommy in the world”.

That is all I need in this world. To be the best mommy for my family. Audrey reminded me that children thrive when they feel connected and understood. She reminded me that the dishes could wait, but life won’t.

5 Benefits of Journaling

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A few weeks ago, I finished a five week journaling course. Every Tuesday, two of my girlfriends and I would venture to the other side of town to “dive deeper”. Beneficial? Yes, and even more than I expected. When you think of journaling, what comes to mind? Any of the below thoughts?

  • I enjoy writing, but who has time for that?
  • I don’t need to document my life?
  • I don’t need to write about my personal problems, I just deal with them?
  • I’m not the type of person who journals?

In all honesty, I went into the course a bit anxious. I was wary that I’d have to recite some of my passages out loud, or that the class would feel too much like therapy. Initially, my goal was to focus more on the writing aspect, and better organizing my thoughts and words. Well..I did have to read passages, and at times, it did feel like therapy. Not surprising, right! That being said, it was an experience I appreciated. Writing has a way of surfacing all your feelings, emotions, and creative juices. Our instructor, Ben, provided interesting prompts each week that would help guide new writers or even experienced writers into unknown territories. Another added benefit with a journaling group is the diversity of students. The room sat photojournalists, successful entrepreneurs, artists, business professionals, rehabilitating individuals, and stay-at-home mom’s. Each individual brought something unique and fascinating to the conversation. I was inspired. I came away from the classroom with a much greater appreciation for what journaling can bring to one’s life. Whether you are young, old, married, single, happy, sad, journaling offers so much more than just expressing your feelings on paper. After the course concluded, I had a few weeks to reflect on the benefits it provided. A journaling class may not be for everyone, but if anything, I hope through my shared experience readers are inspired to write more.

Five Benefits of Journaling 

1. Preservation – In today’s social media driven world, it seems all too easy to document life. Facebook creates a virtual timeline. With a snap and quick edit, Instagram provides a gallery of your moments. Twitter sums things up in a 140 characters. But, social media stops with intimacy. Journaling provides a private and safe environment to share your stories. It’s a great tool for preserving memories in greater detail. The class I took required me to dig out my high school journal. I met my husband in high school, so many of my entries described our young love. Reading those passages had me laughing out loud, but also feeling grateful for having the words I had written almost 20 years ago. My journal tells our history in ways that a picture on Facebook (if FB had been around) could never have done. In this post, I mentioned that I have a journal dedicated to my kids. When something funny or exciting happens, I date the entry, write the story, and try to use exact quotes. This is how my Toddler Talk series evolved. I wanted to capture the humor and innocence of our children right now. As my kids mature, we can share these memories together. Journaling offers a unique way to preserve moments in your family history that you will cherish for years to come. Your kids will one day become parents and grandparents. With journals, they have your hand written words to share with their own children and grandchildren, and I find that incredibly special and bonding. What a gift!

2. Therapy/Gettin’ It Out – This is an obvious benefit, but sometimes a forgotten one. As we grow older, life continues to get busier. Time is sacred and often it’s challenging to fit in activities like journaling. Growing up also brings responsibilities that can cause stress. Careers, raising families, financial responsibilities, or common marital issues can arise, but quickly be swept under the rug. Taking a moment to write down your thoughts and stresses can help provide an immediate sense of relief. It’s the first step to addressing those concerns. By writing it down, you are encouraging yourself to follow-up with actions.

3. Creative Outlet (Story Telling) – We all know the importance of reading and it’s connection to language and learning. Writing is similar. The more I write, the better my stories develop and come together. If your goal is to one day write a book, journaling is a great platform and encourages creative writing. A lady in our class always had the most beautiful passages. Poetic and inspiring, I couldn’t wait to hear her words.

4. Personal Reflection/Growth – This might seem similar to #2, but it’s not. If you’re a regular at journaling then you have likely experienced this benefit. Being able to look back at earlier journals can help you identify habits or patterns that maybe you want to change. Reflecting on previous journal entries is also a great way to see how you have evolved, grown, and changed as a person.

5. Penmanship – Can you immediately identify a family member or close friends handwriting? Is there someone’s handwriting that you admire? For me, my mom and mother-in-law have the most beautiful cursive. An authors message lies in the words written, but the way the letters connect, curve, and flow create a distinct and personal penmanship. With technology taking over the way we communicate, gone are the days of hand written letters and papers. Most will agree, that a hand written card will always be more personal and sentimental, so regardless of technology, the value of penmanship is still important. Journaling can be done on a computer or in a traditional notebook, so do what makes sense for you. There is no right or wrong to journaling. However, if like me, you journal the old-fashioned way, then you may notice an improvement in your penmanship. Something about “pen to paper” creates writing with intent and awareness. I like that.

Finding a Journal

Kate Spade offers some pretty fabulous, and affordable journals. If traditional leather is something you are looking for, Etsy has great options. I also love gifting Mom’s One Line a Day journal to new mom’s. Consider giving Grandma or Grandpa the My Life journal from UncommonGoods. There are so many things I’d love to know about my grandparents, so I adore this idea. What a wonderful keepsake for the family.

The above suggestions make beautiful gifts, but your journal doesn’t need to have a fancy cover. It can be a simple notebook. The true value is found within the pages of your words. Happy journaling friends!