How to survive a long road trip with a toddler

2020 has been whack. Totally freakin’ whack. January started off with such promise, such potential. By February we had a few quick trips and flights on the books, by March, our calendar was cleared. The whole damn world cleared their calendars and hunkered down. But as May morphed into June, and I started to question my sanity, it became apparent that my little family of 3 needed to GTFO of our house. Desperately. Being locked up raw with a fussy husband, I mean, toddler, for months can really cause a lot of stress and strain, so a getaway was desperately needed, and downright essential to survival.

We started looking at options of stays within driving distance and nothing seemed right. Nothing seemed safe enough or a good option. That’s when we decided we were going to drive to visit my aunt and uncle in Traverse City, Michigan. They have room for us, have been totally socially distant, live on a lake with a pontoon boat (boats are the ultimate social distancing machine) and plus, my uncle flips a mean blueberry pancake.

But there was a catch. The drive was 15 hours NOT including stops. And we have a 16 month only mini human. SHIT. Okay, we’d stop half way. But where could we stop to ensure we weren’t exposing ourselves to covid?

Long story short, we decided we were just going to go for it. Yep, straight through. We were open to stopping if we absolutely had to, but the goal was to keep going until we were greeted by the friendly midwestern smile of Aunt Deb (who was definitely going to be pouring me a glass of wine as we rolled in.)

So, to get to the point here, this was our game plan. I was going to pack all our food, to avoid stopping and wasting time + possible exposure to covid. I was going pack smart and be prepared. We would pack our patience. We were prepared to make lots of stops, but ultimately, it was doable and we’d get there.

Since it was a 15+ hour drive with a toddler, when we arrived was important because if it got too late, we’d be way past bedtime and we’d have a meltdown on our hands. So we left early AF. Our car left the driveway at 3:50am (both ways). Bubs was asleep in his crib and the car was packed and running in the driveway. When we were ready to go, I quietly scooped him out of his crib, changed his diaper and immediately transferred him to the car seat still in his jammies. I turned on white noise on Spotify via bluetooth and luckily, he was quiet/ asleep until 7. So we had 3 solid hours of a calm, chill baby. People thought we were crazy for doing this, but honestly, this was huge and next time, I’d leave even earlier.

After he was fully awake, I hopped in the backseat and offered him his usual breakfast routine. Which is usually a sippy cup of milk, a banana and some dry cheerios. I tried to keep our usual “routine” in place as much as possible. Which is a bit of joke but I did try to pretend like it was a normal day.

Around 9am, he was getting fussy so we stopped. Another hot tip that worked great for us was bringing a small ball along for rest stops. We stopped a rest stops with lots of green space, so we kicked the ball around and he went chasing after it. Like playing fetch with a dog, only my dog was of the human breed. This was great for stretching his little, usually non-stop toddler legs.

The rest of the trip was a lot of keeping the baby entertained. I packed a ton of (NEW) books. This was also a win. I picked up a bunch of new books and didn’t give them to him until the we were in the car. That way, they were new and exciting. Books with flaps or touch and feel is an added bonus!

Meals were tricky for Bubs, as he really only eats “hot” foods for lunch and dinner. The kid wont touch a cheese stick or a cold sandwich so to be fair, he ate mostly bananas, snacks and pouches the entire day, with the exception of 1/4 of a peanut butter sandwich. I was anxious about this, but in reality, he was totally fine. He’d eat it if he was hungry enough. I packed sandwiches for my husband and I and had everything in a cooler that was easily accessible in the back seat.

I had the iPad loaded with pre-downloaded movies and shows on Disney+, Prime Video and Netflix. I did not bring this out until it was absolutely necessary, which was about the last 4-5 hours of the trip. DO NOT. I REPEAT. DO NOT bring the iPad out too early. It’s the hail mary to the finish line.

In total, it took us 16 hours to get there and 17.5 hours to get home because of traffic and several casualties like a cup of milk in the car seat and a blowout diaper. I will say, 16 hours is the MAX I would do again. 17.5 was two hours too long and we were all miserable. But we made it.

So, to simply all of the above, here is a list of advice:

  1. Pack smart.Pack a things that are readily accessible in the back seat. Try your best to stay organized. I had a box like this and it was great for books, toys, snacks, change of clothes (keep a change of clothes handy so you don’t have to dig through the suitcase if needed,) diapers and wipes to keep in the back seat. (BRING A ROLL OF PAPER TOWELS AND A BAG FOR TRASH) It fit in the middle seat but was easily moved when I needed to scoot to the middle seat to entertain him.81ZjvYKGINL._SL1500_
  2. Pack all your food. Pandemic or not, stopping for food adds a lot of time and money to your trip. Packing your meals ahead of time saves a ton of time you don’t want to add on to your already long trip. Put a cooler in the back seat where it’s easily accessible, don’t put it in the trunk. PACK MORE SNACKS THAN YOU THINK YOU’LL NEED. TODDLERS AND GRUMPY SPOUSES LOVE SNACKS. BRING THEM ALL. *Snack ideas, Goldfish, Cheerios, cut fruit / fruit cups, pouches, veggie straws, Ritz Crackers, bananas, puffs, yogurt melts, etc… Less messy the better, but get over the mess, it’s going to be a mess… BRING THEM ALL.*
  3. Leave room in the backseat, you’re going to have to sit back there with your kid the majority of the time. This tip doubles as leaving a space for diaper changes. Changing a diaper in a rest stop bathroom is not ideal, so make sure there’s room in the car to lay your tot down for a diaper change.
  4. Bring *new* books and toys. They don’t have be brand new, but bring them out of rotation a few weeks prior to the trip so they’re exciting and engaging for your little one. Interactive touch and feel or lift the flap books are a bonus. Books like this book and this book were great for us. We also had a lot of luck with straws in an empty water bottle! He enjoyed dumping them out and threading them back in!
  5. Screen Time. Preload the iPad with movies, shows and if they’re old enough, games. We love Moana and Toy Story (Disney+) Blippi (Amazon Prime) and Little Baby Bum (Netflix).  But don’t bring the iPad out until you absolutely need to (ie. screaming fit). This is your last resort.  ALSO, get an tablet car mount or a case. We had this car mount for the headrest and it worked great. It fits a phone too! This also saved us!
  6. Leave early. If it’s a very long road trip (longer than 8 hours) leave super early and take advantage of groggy / sleepy little ones. If possible, plan around nap times/bed times too.
  7. GET OVER THE MESS – THIS IS HARD. Kids are messy. There are going to be crumbs everywhere. You can vacuum later, you’re in survival mode.
  8. Be prepared to make lots of stops, but if baby isn’t crying, keep going!

Remember, people have done crazier things. Eventually, you’ll reach your destination and it will have all been worth it. Good luck and safe travels!

-HMB

The battle of baby sunscreen. Choosing the safest option for your little ones.

Ahh, summer. The days are longer, the sun is brighter and we’re still “social distancing,” so playing outside seems to be the only thing to do these days. But in addition to protecting your children from Covid-19, protecting them from the sun’s harmful rays is also important.  And as if there wasn’t enough to worry about right now, some stories began circulating about certain brands of “baby” sunscreen that were causing some terrifying side effects such as seizures. After seeing the same post (and sharing it myself) from many, many different sites, I began questioning the validity of the original warning, but at that point I took it upon myself to do further research on what I was slathering on my son.

I’ll admit, I should have done my research on this topic a long time ago, but I assumed buying sunscreens labeled “baby, natural, organic, etc” meant I was doing the right thing. I grew up being doused in generic Coppertone Water Babies and I turned out fine? So I’m sure I’m already a step ahead, right? Maybe, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

First thing I learned is there are two main types of sunscreen, Chemical and Mineral (sometimes called physical), and the main difference is how they work to prevent sunburn. Chemical sunscreen (which is not recommended for babies) works by absorbing the sun’s rays, and through the magic of chemistry, creates a chemical reaction to then dissolve the sun’s rays from actually hitting and harming the body. However, there is a good chance that some of the chemical sunscreen is also absorbed into the bloodstream.

Mineral sunscreens, to keep it short and sweet, are different from chemical sunscreens because they sit on top of the skin and deflect the sun’s rays away from the skin. Which, from what I’ve read, is a better, safer option.

So, just pick up a mineral sunscreen and you’re good to go, right? Well, it’s a better  option, but there are SO many options it’s still pretty difficult to choose the right one.  And, some mineral sunscreens are “safer” than the others due to their list of ingredients.

*I’d like to insert an opinion of my own here. I think if you’re given the option of letting your baby get a sun burn, or putting on some random sunscreen with a not total ideal ingredient list, you’re better off using the sunscreen. But it’s good to be informed and make informed decisions on the behalf of your kids…But, you do you mama.*

So, where do we begin? First of all, EWG (Environmental Working Group) compiled a list of some great options. (< click to see list).

These listed do not have a bunch of the “unsafe” ingredients such as Oybenzone (also known as Benzophenone-3) which according to the EWG  can cause allergic skin reactions and is a weak estrogen and has potent anti-androgenic effects. It can seep into the bloodstream and acclimate in the blood, kidneys and liver. It can also damage coral reefs, and Benzophenone (aka Avobenzone) which according to safecosmetics.org and EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) can cause Organ System Toxicity and can can cause liver hypertrophy in rats. So, the list linked above is a great start.

From that list, I polled a bunch of followers and the top 2 were:

ThinkBaby – Although a few people said it’s hard to rub onto skin and it has a strange smell.  (I actually bought this and returned before using because of these comments)

Badger a few followers said they love this one, but I haven’t had a chance to try for myself.

In addition to the list above, HMB tried out a few in person and this was our findings!

Earth Baby Broad Spectrum Sunscreen imagesI’m going to be honest, I love this stuff. It’s organic, free of all the nasty stuff (Parabens, Sulfates, Phthalates, Benzophenone, OybenzoneFormaldehyde, Mineral Oil, Propylene glycol, DEA, MEA, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Triethanolamine, Petrolatum, Lanolin,) and it applies SO EASILY. Rubs in clear and when used with a beauty blender, it’s even better. (Here is a link for some cheap ones I now leave in our beach bag!)

It’s also reef friendly and only fragranced with essential oils plus they donate 1% of all sales to organizations such as the Preface Project and The Folded Flag Foundation, which helps the children of fallen heroes.

Babo Botanicals – This is a great option!images-1All of their sun products are family friendly and they have lotions, sprays and stick options. I love the spray for squirmy toddlers, but the spray does come out white and still requires some rubbing, but not a big deal AT ALL.  Their Sheer Zinc Continuous Spray scored a ZERO (which is the best!) rating on Think Dirty, as did their Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen! All of their sunscreens are family friendly so I stocked up on the non-baby ones so I don’t have 15 million different brands in my beach bag. Highly recommend!

The third product we tried was Tubby Todd Mineral Sunstick. maisonette-sunstick-duo-two-yellow-towel There are so many sunscreens on the market, it would have taken me years to try them all, so I wanted to grab one good option in stick form that I could leave in the diaper bag or stroller! This stuff is great too. It goes on smooth but it does need some extra rubbing in. But it works great for little faces and noses! I use it on my own quite often as well! It’s certified organic and also free of all the harmful crap mentioned above.

If you want to give it a try, here is a 10% coupon! Just shop this link.

I hope this post is helpful. The world is weird right now, so don’t stress yourself out over sunscreen. We’re all just doing out best, so slather that babe up and get out in the sun. Oh, and PS, don’t forget to have someone get your back. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.

Hey Mama, stop SHOULD-ing on yourself

We all do it, don’t we? Walk around feeling guilty about what we “should” be doing instead of focusing on all the things we actually are doing?

Yeah. I think everyone does it, but you know who SHOULDs on themselves the most? Moms.

The SHOULDing starts right away. Pregnant? I SHOULD probably stop drinking wine (LOL, kidding, you really should stop the wine,) I should have a nursery full of all the newest and most expensive baby products prepared for baby’s arrival, I should have a natural, unmedicated birth. I should breastfeed. I should sleep-train. I should co-sleep. I should pump until my nipples fall off. I should be feeling healed and better from my 24-hour traumatic birth 3 days later. I should have lost the baby weight by now…. It literally never stops. And then, it just gets worse.

As baby starts to grow, society (and instagram) can easily chip away at all the layers of the paint color aptly named “all the things I’m doing” and roll over it with a new, cheaper color called “but you should be doing…”

I SHOULD have introduced solids by now, I should have done baby lead weaning. I should do a different sensory activity every day and I should NOT ever let my child watch Sesame Street. My baby SHOULD be crawling or walking by now. I should be preparing healthy meals daily with foods cut into shapes so it’s both nutritious and educational. I should never feed my child store-bought pouches or macaroni and cheese. I SHOULD go back to work… I should provide more for my family. I should be able to juggle work and kids and excel at both. I should do the laundry every day and keep the house sparkling clean. I should have the massive house and chef’s kitchen and brand new SUV.

I should, I should, I should. But I don’t.

In reality, you know what you actually should do?  Stop SHOULDing on yourself. Take a step back and look around at all of your accomplishments. Are your children fed and loved? Yes. Do they have a safe place to call home? Yes. Do they have a mother that loves them unconditionally even though she’s tired as hell? Yes. Do they eat nutritious yes. Do they eat microwave hot dogs? Also yes.

You’re doing more than you think you are mama. Stop comparing yourself to other mamas who seem to “have it all” or “do it all” because chances are, they’re shoulding on themselves for something else. We are our own worst critics, so be kind to yourself. The work you’re doing is amazing and just what your family needs.

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How we weaned off bottles and made the switch to sippy cups

If there is one constant in the world of motherhood, it’s that nothing is constant. Once you’ve gotten into a groove with something, it’s time to move onto tackling the next obstacle. First, it’s tackling breast or bottle feeding, finding the right formula or adjusting your diet to your infant’s sensitivities. Then it’s sleep, well, it’s always sleep. Then, it’s introducing solids, then baby proofing, and then just as you’ve figured all that out, they turn one.

When they turn one, there’s a sense of gratification and pride, almost like you’ve finally figured it all out. You’ve survived a year, so you’re a veteran parent now. But at their one year well visit with their doctor, that’s when pediatricians recommend moving them off of bottles and formula, and on to milk and sippy cups.

Boom. More change. For some reason, this one was a doozy for me mentally. No more bottles? I have made and cleaned bottles every day for nearly 13 months, and now what, just, no more? I remember so clearly one middle of the night feeding early on. Me, in a zombie-like trance shuffling to the kitchen to make yet another bottle and thinking to myself, wow. The bottles will never end. And here we are, at the end. My baby is growing up.

There was something that told me my baby wasn’t ready to give up bottles. I called his doctor a few times after his visit (like a psychopath) and told her I don’t think he’s ready. She assured me he was, and the sooner we got him off the bottle, the easier it will be in the long run.

That’s when I realized it wasn’t my baby who wasn’t ready for the transition, it was me that wasn’t ready.

When it was time to start weaning, he was already down to only two bottles of formula per day, one in the morning and one at night before bed. (I should also note we introduced sippy cups at meals times around 7 months, although he didn’t use them very much.) We decided to start gradually, and initially replaced his morning bottle of formula with a sippy cup of formula for a few days, and then a sippy cup of milk. He didn’t mind the sippy cup of formula  (we have had the most luck with this one) but he hated the milk. And we tried offering milk all different ways. Whole milk, 2%, warmed milk, cold milk, milk in a bottle, milk in a sippy, milk mixed with formula… If there was milk in it, it was going to get thrown at my head.  It was frustrating, but we did not go back to having a morning bottle. If he didn’t drink his morning sippy cup, oh well. He ate more at breakfast.

I tried offering milk for weeks before I made another call to his doctor and asked what to do if my son just didn’t like milk. What do I offer him before bed if he wont take milk? She assured me that as long as he was getting calcium and calories in his diet in other ways, he will be fine. She told me to continue offering milk daily, because eventually, he will come around to it. But he doesn’t “need” anything before bed. The thought of him not getting a bedtime “baba” really worried me. He had a bottle before bed his entire life, how would I just take that away?

That night, I told myself, this is it. We just have to do it. It will get harder and harder the older he gets, so let’s rip the bandaid off with the one bottle a day he’s still getting. So that night I did not offer him a bottle before bed. I offered him a sippy cup of milk, mixed with some warm water. He took a few sips and then was done, and I put him to bed. And guess what happened?

Nothing. He was totally fine. He slept through the night, completely unfazed.

The next few days I was on egg shells. I didn’t speak of what had happened. I didn’t tell anyone we dropped all his bottles. I didn’t tell anyone we switched to milk. I didn’t want to jinx it. I waited a solid 72 hours before even speaking of what we had done. If you’re a mom, you get it. If something is going well, you do not speak of it. You will jinx yourself!

We have now been a bottle-free house for a month and I can say with a good deal of confidence that it was a much bigger transition for me than it was for him. I was so worried about him being okay, that it took a few weeks for me to realize he was perfectly fine. I have stopped offering milk in a sippy cup before bed at all, as most of the time he just throws it and it leaves a mess. If he has an early dinner or is acting hungry, I will offer it, but it’s VERY rare for him to finish more than a few sips. Milk is offered at mealtimes and there is a sippy cup with water available to him all day and before bed. He now drinks more milk with his meals, but other than that, I don’t offer it. Mainly because it’s a mess.

And guess what? He’s fine. He’s better than fine. He’s also eating his meals way better now that he doesn’t get bottles too (jinxing myself here).

His bottles are now packed away with the clothes he’s outgrown. They are no longer on my kitchen counter drying on their designated Boon drying rack. There is no longer a can of formula on my counter. I thought I’d be excited about this, but it breaks my heart a little. My baby isn’t such a baby anymore. But as bittersweet as it is, I’m so happy and proud to see my little guy becoming more independent and growing, just like he should.

6 things one labor & delivery nurse wants you to know about delivering during a pandemic

Let’s face it, the world as we know it is a scary place right now. We’re told to stay home with a stockpile of food and toilet paper, wear masks and stay away from loved ones or else we may get ourselves or someone we love very, very sick. For many, the stay at home order is inconvenient, for a lot, it’s devastating for their financial well being, and for pregnant mothers, it’s all that plus terrifying, upsetting, and downright unfair.

For mothers nearing their due date, I want to personally say my heart breaks for you. Giving birth is a life changing experience that is a bit scary even in “normal” times. Throwing a pandemic in the mix certainly adds unneeded stress, anxiety and fear to what should be an exciting and joyful time. I know this isn’t what you planned, but please know so many people are rooting for you and think you’re very, very brave.

In an effort to ease the worry of expectant mothers, I caught up with my friend Jessica, a BSN, RN working in the OB, Postpartum unit at a South Florida hospital through these unprecedented times. During our chat, I asked her some questions that many expectant mothers have concerns about. It’s important to note that these answers stand true for the hospital she works at, but are a good reference overall. Since I personally gave birth during a different time, I polled a few friends that are currently pregnant, and most of these questions came directly from them.

1. Are the birthing person or support person required to BYOM (Bring your own mask?) Will the mother be required to wear a mask at all times, even during labor? 

Currently, literally everyone is wearing a mask 24/7. I can only speak for our hospital, but we currently have enough PPE to provide to the mom and support person. We all know it is very hard to breathe during labor, let alone with a mask on so all we can do is recommend it. Do all moms continue to wear the mask? No, but that is her choice to refuse our recommendations. You have the right to refuse any medical treatment at any time.

2. What are the main differences in the L&D ward now vs. prior to Covid

Our OB unit is great because the entire floor (L&D, Postpartum, and NICU) is locked and not really connected to the rest of the hospital. Its always been very secure and strict with allowing visitors even before Covid. Currently, we (and Pediatrics) allow only 1 visitor, whereas the rest of the hospital allows none. Besides more PPE and only 1 visitor, our nurses still provide the same compassion and care to our patients.

3. Are new moms getting tested for Covid-19? If so, is it only if they’re showing symptoms?

We are screening both moms and fathers/support person. No one is tested unless they show symptoms.

4. Some expectant mothers have heard rumors that due to Covid 19, mothers will be discharged from the hospital just hours after delivery. Do you know if there is any truth behind this?

There is no truth to that at my hospital and I have not heard that in others. I think that is completely unrealistic and utterly unsafe. Most mothers havent even recovered enough to even get out of bed, let alone go home and take care of herself and her newborn.

That is the exact reason for the postpartum unit. To continue to take care of a mother and her baby. Most complications can happen 24-48 hours later. I do not foresee a discharge that quickly ever happening.

5. Do you feel that first time moms are at any disadvantage receiving some of the support new mothers usually receive at the hospital? For example, visits with lactation support?

We are still allowing lactation specialists to visit mothers. They are a part of our staff, and we believe breastfeeding is so important, so they are still seeing families.
I do think its unfair to the mothers who want/need a doula. I personally didnt use one during my birth, but I know the unbelievable support they provide for some mothers, that no one else can provide. So currently, our policy is only 1 support person allowed. Which usually is the father.

What is your message as a L&D nurse to birthing persons during this time?

We always want and – more importantly- need a mom to be flexible with her birth plan. We will respect every decision a mother makes and will educate as much as we can to help her make an informed decision. Things change hourly and even by the minute, things that are out of our control. Just be open and flexible. We will try our best to still make it the best experience possible. Come with the idea in your head of a safe delivery and happy healthy mom & baby.

Also, since there is only the dad allowed in the delivery room, make sure to give another nurse your phone/camera to take pictures! We love capturing the beautiful miracle and even more so now with no help from family or photographers.

The takeaway here, is your labor and delivery nurses will be there to support you through the most monumental moment of your life, just as they always would. They may have a little more PPE on, but know that they are smiling underneath that mask and ready to help you become a mom, or a mom again!

You got this mama!

 

 

 

 

How one mom is getting through quarantine one creative transformation at time

Being in quarantine with your family is not something most of us ever thought we’d say. But here we are, four months into 2020 and most of us have been locked up in our homes for a month now. All the extra time with our kids can make us crazy. But it can also make us crazy creative.

Sarah Perry, who happens to be a dear friend of mine (not to brag), falls in the latter of those two categories. Sarah, who majored in art and has a degree in fashion, was not about to let her creative juices stop flowing when we were told to keep our doors closed. With the help of her adorable, 4-year-old daughter Sydney, who is a born performer I might add, Sarah began creating over the top looks that kept the quarantined people of instagram saying “I’m living for this.”

I caught up with Sarah because honestly, I had questions, and I also needed to let her know how much I look forward to seeing new looks as they pop up on my instagram feed. Anyone who knows the infamous Sarah Perry, knows she thrives in a costume. Halloween to Sarah is like Christmas to Santa and her daughter Syd doesn’t fall far from the Perry tree.

“Costumes have always been a thing in this household… Any excuse to dress up, we are in. The day Syd woke up and asked me to paint her blue and give her a beard to be Disney’s “Genie” was the day the quarantine looks journey started.” Sarah said.

The Genie
the look that started them all

“The face paint really made it’s debut during this time. Which is also my favorite part of it all.” She added.

Some of the duo’s looks have included, Genie from Disney’s Aladdin, Poppy from Trolls (which is Sydney’s favorite look to date because the girl lives for all things pink,) Maleficent, an Easter Peep, a carrot, Lady Liberty and most recently and in my personal opinion, most impressive, Rafiki from The Lion King.

The most impressive part of all, is all of these looks have been achieved with items they’ve had around the house—as running to the store for a few things is not an option with current social distancing guidelines. Some items used to achieve these impressive looks include; cardboard, wire, paint, headbands, cut up clothes, Jell-O shot cups, plastic easter eggs, construction paper, witch hats, rope and tissue paper to name a few. “Whatever you can look at and paint into something is key!” she said.

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To answer the question I think a lot of us are wondering, which is will there be more looks? Sarah says, “As long as Sydney is asking for it, my answer will always be ‘if I can make it happen you got it kid!’ It is a lot of fun to share this creative bond with her.”  Each look has been requested by Sydney, and Sarah knows that if her daughter’s heart wasn’t in it, they wouldn’t be pulling off such incredible looks! “Trust me, Sydney would not commit to the look if she wasn’t feeling it. Which says a lot about her when she chose to look like a carrot.”

To follow along on Sarah’s impressively creative journey, she has been posting the transformations on her instagram page.

Syd as Rafiki
Rafiki from The Lion King

“You just need to use your imagination… and that is something as a mother I will nurture forever. Her imagination is so big and I keep things as magical as they can be for her. I will forever be the mom that will encourage her to dream big and if I can help guide her on that path I will…One crazy idea or look at a time.”

3 Simple Activities for Littles

As if being a parent doesn’t come with enough pressure to be the “perfect” mom as it is, throw a pandemic into the mix and that pressure is now through the roof. The same roof of your house that you can not leave and has now become your office, gym, school, restaurant and playground.

Although doing activities with your little one is not something to do only during a pandemic, there seems to be more pressure to do them now. Also, the days can be long so incorporating a little activity for the kids can be something to look forward to and help pass the time while being somewhat educational.

I’ll keep it real, I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a “lazy mom” when it comes to activities. First of all, my baby is barely a year old, so it’s not like I can sit him down with some crayons and let him have at it. He’s not quite old enough yet to do arts and crafts or make me macaroni necklace, so we’re kind of in that in-between stage where he’s not a baby but not quite a full-on toddler either. But, I do like to find things to do with him that he will enjoy, don’t break the bank, may teach him a thing or two and most importantly, not make a huge mess.

So, I thought I’d share three simple activities for toddlers that are simple, inexpensive and not incredibly messy.

1. LAZY MOM’S WATER TABLEIMG_5815

This can also be dubbed the poor mom’s water table, but whatever you want to call it, it’s a fan favorite in this house! We live in New England, so it’s still too cold to play outside, so having a full on water table (like this) in my living room doesn’t seem like an option right now. However, one inch of water in a plastic tub did the trick just fine and kept my one-year-old entertained for a solid 25 minutes. (Anyone with a toddler knows that’s a pretty good stretch).

What you’ll need:

  • A plastic tub, bowl, or anything that can old some water in it. We actually used the plastic tub from the hospital!
  • Some household items or toys. I chose a whisk, a small bucket toy with holes that drain out, a measuring cup and a foam bath toy! Some items that sink and some that float keep it interesting.
  • Warm water
  • Towel
  • Optional, bubble bath or soap to add bubbles

Lay down the towel, fill the tub, strip them down and let them have at it! The floors will get wet, but hey, it becomes a 2-for-1 because the floors get a washing too!

 

2. TOILET PAPER ROLL SHOOT

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Especially because toilet paper is such a prized item these days, why not let that empty roll get the proper send off before it make’s its way to the recycling bin like the hero it was. We’ve done this one a few times and sometimes Emmett cooperates and plays and sometimes he just plays with the tape, either way it occupies him for a little and it’s something different than his toy shelf.

What you’ll need:

  • Toilet paper or paper towel rolls, or a few of each!
  • Painters tape, or tape that won’t damage walls
  • Cotton ball, craft pom poms or even Cheerio’s or puffs if your little one tries to eat the cotton ball!

Tape the roll to the wall, show them how to put the ball through the toilet paper roll and let them have at it! I like to roll up a few pieces of the tape and stick that to the wall too. He loves to play with the sticky, crinkly tape balls too!

Don’t get frustrated if your little one gets more excited to rip the roll off the wall and run around with it, or to play with the roll of tape. Let them explore and be grateful you didn’t spent too much money, time or mess on this one!

 

3. BABY VAN GOGH MESS-FREE FINGER PAINTING

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I will say this one was the least successful as far as keeping him busy for an extended period of time, but it’s still cute and he liked it for a few minutes. Plus, it’s easy and mess-free so I still consider it worth sharing! I think next time I will tape it to his high chair tray so he can’t run away! But we’ve done this twice and Em has played around with it both times.

What you’ll need:IMG_5822

  • Paint. I used a some old acrylic paint I had laying around.
  • Cardstock or photo paper. Regular paper ends up getting really wet.
  • Two zip top bags (You could always use Saran Wrap too and saran wrap it down to the table, floor or highchair)
  • Tape to secure

 

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Put a few generous dollops of paint on the paper and slide into a zip-top bag. Then slide that bag into another bag. Trust me, the first time I did it with one bag and it ripped almost immediately. Then tape the bags down to the floor or their high chair and let them have at it!

 

As I mentioned, I think next time I will tape it to his high chair to keep his attention longer, but he did move the paint around so I don’t think it was a total loss. Plus, you can leave it there for him to come back to later, the paint won’t dry up right away inside the bag.

So no hard feelings if he runs away from it for a little while!IMG_5828

I can’t take credit for any of these because I found them on the internet somewhere, but I wanted to share my experience making easy, cheap and mess-free little ones in hopes to inspire you to do the same!

Happy playing!

-HMB

Easter basket ideas for a one year old

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays. The pastel colors, the spring dresses, the Cadbury eggs… It’s just a cheerful time that signifies new beginnings, rebirth and maybe even a Honey Baked Ham.

Last Easter, our baby was only 5 weeks old and we had just returned from the hospital for his pyloric stenosis surgery, I did a post on his surgery so I’ll tag that here in case you’re new to HMB. But, we weren’t feeling very festive last year, but instead exhausted, worried and emotionally drained. So last year wasn’t much of a celebration, although the Easter Bunny did visit him in the hospital! So even though this technically isn’t Emmett’s first Easter, we’re celebrating like it is.

Once again, this won’t be a typical Easter as we are smack dab in the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic. However, it’s given me something to look forward to and I got excited thinking about putting together Emmett’s first Easter basket! Yet again, I was having a hard time deciding what to include gift wise, because he’s still a little young for a lot of things and I hate collecting plastic crap toys in our already small house! He’s too young for Peeps and Ring Pops, so what could I give him that isn’t just silly toys or candy he’s too young for? This would be an ideal time to search the Target Dollar Spot, but since we’re on “stay at home” restrictions, I made his basket virtually and ordered everything online! This is what I decided on for his “first” Easter!

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  • Egg MaracasI’m particularly excited for these! He loves holding little gadgets and gizmos and he definitely loves a noise maker! Plus these are in theme for Easter so they’re a win win!

 

 

  • Toy Indoor Basketball Hoop Set61y1lMsW1oL._AC_SL1200_ this says it’s for the bath, but I plan to suction cup this to one of our indoor glass french doors and let him have at it!

 

  • Stainless Steel Sippy Cups41jA+c1NIYL Summer is coming and I can’t wait to make him fresh fruit smoothies served in these awesome cups! Plus, keeping him healthy is more important than ever right now.

 

In addition to these, I’m going to “regift” some birthday gifts we haven’t given him yet, including a stuffed Baby Shark and some Easter books! I wanted to get a customized Easter basket for him too, but with the pandemic, the one I wanted wouldn’t arrive in time for Easter, so hopefully next year! This year, we’re repurposing a soft laundry basket, don’t judge.

Happy Easter, Happy Spring, Happy Passover, Happy Whatever everyone! Stay healthy and STAY HOME.

-HMBIMG_5921

A letter to a mama on her baby’s first birthday

Dear Mama,

You did it! You survived your first year and your baby is growing just like everyone said he would, too fast. You probably have a lot of big feelings today, and that’s okay.

You’ve probably spent some time over the last few weeks looking through the 10,000 pictures in your camera roll, dating all the way back to a year ago. It’s amazing, isn’t it? How fast they grow? How much they change? How time stands still yet flies through your fingertips at the same time? The beginning was such a blur. There was self-doubt and maybe some tears. Okay, there were a lot of tears. But as you scrolled through the photos, maybe you noticed it wasn’t just the baby growing and changing as the weeks ticked by, but you were too.

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A year ago, the 12-month sized baby clothes hanging in the nursery probably seemed outrageously big, and your pre-baby jeans seemed outrageously small. But now that tiny baby fills out those 12mo sized pajamas with little room to spare. Your jeans may still be small, but that’s okay. Really mama, it is.

Maybe you feel like you just barely survived the last 12 months. Maybe you’re finally getting your postpartum depression under control. Or maybe you’re still working through some trauma from your birth story or the early weeks. Maybe, you, Mama, are still a work in progress. We all are, aren’t we?

You look at your baby now, almost a toddler. That alone is enough to make you weep. A TODDLER? How did that happen? Maybe they’re crawling, walking or a combo of both. You wonder how they used to need you to feed them every 3 hours around the clock. There were feedings and burpings and spitup and blowouts. Round and round you went on the foggy new mom carousel, wondering if you’d ever see the day that tiny baby could hold their own bottle, or feed themselves dinner and not need you at 12, 3 and 6am. But here you are, your baby is now a lot more self-sufficient and you inhale them when they cuddle up and need you. Because truth is, they just don’t need you as much as they did a year ago. They’re always on the move, exploring, learning… Not just laying on your chest as you lay pinned on the sofa. They’re doing everything they’re supposed to do, and everything you taught them.BLUR1

The work you have done this year may seem small. It may seem like you barely got anything done at all, it may seem like a blur. But no mama, some of the most important work of your life happened this year. You learned things no book could teach and trusted instincts you didn’t know you had. Mama, you’ve never worked harder.

You may have stayed up too late planning the perfect first birthday party for your little one, scouring the internet for all the adorable party hats and decor to perfectly fit your theme. Maybe you even went a little overboard. Who cares. Your baby’s first birthday is reason to celebrate, so celebrate it how you wish.

But on your baby’s birthday, with all the balloons and big feelings, all the strolls down memory lane and birthday cake, don’t forget to celebrate you too. Mama, what you have done in this past 365 days is worthy of it’s own smash cake, and maybe even some champagne.

So, Mama, cheers to you.

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If someone tells you you’re a good mom, believe them

Motherhood is one of those jobs that you can accomplish incredible, mind-blowing things, and at the same time, question yourself every single day.

You carried that baby inside your body for 9 months and gave birth, (pretty incredible and mind blowing) and you’re caring for that baby every single day. That baby is alive and well, (but is he doing well enough? Is he getting everything he needs? Questions, questions, questions.)

Something about motherhood makes you question if you’re doing enough, if you’re making the right choices on behalf of your kids, if you are enough.

Here’s the thing. I don’t think I’m a bad mom, but sometimes I don’t think I’m an amazing mom either. But instead, an average, just trying to survive each day mom. A “good enough” mom, if you will. But, when people look at me and tell me I’m an incredible mother, I wonder what they see that I don’t?

Sure, family and friends tell me I’m a great mom all the time. I thank them, internally disagree and go about my day. They love me and my son, so of course they’re going to tell me that, they’re being supportive. But the other day, we were out to dinner (at 4pm because, mom life) and a man came up out of no where, tapped me on the shoulder and introduced himself. He said “Hi, I don’t mean to interrupt, but I just want to tell you I think you’re doing an amazing job with him,” he said pointing to my 11-month old baby sitting in a high chair throwing puffs (hey, they were organic) all over the floor. He continued to tell me he had a 2-year old daughter, and he could just tell I was an incredible mother and that my son was a lucky boy.

Huh? If a total stranger seems to see this in me, why can’t I?

For some reason, the words of that stranger have stuck with me and have honestly  made me a little sad. I can look at another mom and tell her what an amazing job she’s doing, and truly mean it, but I have a hard time looking in the mirror and saying the same words to the mama looking back at me.

I think to myself, I don’t have it all together, Not in the least. These are the things the people who think I’m so great don’t see. I’m a stay at home mom—I don’t provide any financial support to my family.  This was a choice my family made together, and it’s a gift that I’m able to stay at home with our son. But yet, I feel incredibly guilty for this gift every day. If I was “working,” maybe then I’d be a “good mom.”

Some days, my baby fights me with all the tiny little fibers in his body. He refuses to nap, eat, or do anything other than being held. Instead of being nurturing and understanding during these times, sometimes, I break down. I get frustrated, I cry. And then, I fall deep into a pit of guilt. He’s just a baby, and he needs me, so get it together and be there for him. Be a good mom. Maybe if I could avoid breaking down sometimes, maybe then I’d be a “good mom.”

Some days, the thought of preparing a baby-friendly meal to therefore just clean it all up off the floor gives me more anxiety than I can handle that day, so my baby gets a store-bought baby food pouch and some Cheerios for dinner. Maybe if I made my baby homemade, healthy, nutritionally balanced meals like so-and-so does (for him to throw on the floor) daily, maybe then I’d be a “good mom.”

But after that man tapped me on the shoulder, I looked in the mirror and decided I needed to change my way of thinking. It would take time, but it was important to work on a mental shift on how I saw myself and my work as a mother.

Being a stay-at-home-mom is harder work than I’ve ever had in the workplace. It’s relentless. The days are long and a HUMAN BEING depends on me to show up every day. So instead of feeling guilty for not bringing home a paycheck, I will feel proud of what I’m accomplishing every day and watch my baby grow with the things I’ve taught and given him. Soon enough he will be in school, and I’ll be able to get back to bringing home some bacon. Now is time to focus on the present, not the “should be’s.”

Instead of feeling bad about having hard days when my baby is being difficult, or the fact that there’s no way I’m preparing a meal from scratch, I’m going to focus on the fact that everyone has hard days. If a good cry is needed, let it happen. If boxed mac and cheese is for dinner tonight, so be it. But know that tomorrow is a new day. I’m a human with feelings and I am more than my bad days. Because for every bad day, there are 5 more good ones, so don’t dwell on the bad.

Instead of waiting for someone to tell me I’m a good mom and rolling my eyes at the statement, I’m going to tell myself, YOU’RE A GOOD MOM. Your baby feels safe with you and needs you. He searches for you in a room and knows when you’ve left. You’re his person, the only person he needs. You would do ANYTHING for that child and you want nothing more in this life than to help that little person thrive.

Why do you do all this? Why do you care so much?

Because, you’re a good mom.IMG_0852