Everyday Craft Supplies for Toddlers and Preschoolers: The ULTIMATE List!

Arts and crafts are developmentally vital activities for toddlers and preschoolers.

They help children develop fine motor skills, hand strength, pre-writing skills, and even help them succeed academically!

According to experts, art helps children develop not only creatively and physically but it also helps them explore science and math skills.

Art also helps toddlers and preschoolers express themselves and develop social skills.

Whether you’re just trying to occupy your toddler or preschooler for a few minutes while you get some work done (eat chocolate in secret)—or you are hoping to help them gain new skills, this is the ultimate list of art and craft supplies for young kids!

art and craft supplies for toddlers and preschoolers ultimate list

You know your child best, so feel free to skip any items you don’t think they’re ready for—I have one daughter who was able to be trusted with all of these materials from an extremely young age and another daughter who is still exploring shoving things in her nose at nearly 2 years old (ask me how deep play dough can get in a nose, actually don’t).

Without further ado:

 

crayons

eco-friendly non-toxic crayons for left-handed or right-handed toddlers and preschoolerscolored pencils

colored pencils

washable markers

washable markers for toddlers and preschoolers

washable glue sticks

washable glue sticks for toddlers and preschoolers

washable white glue

washable white glue for toddlers and preschoolers

washable glitter glue

washable glitter glue for toddlers and preschoolers

metallic glue pens

metallic glue pens

safety scissors

safety scissors for toddlers and preschoolers

washable paint

http://www.anrdoezrs.net/links/8362112/type/dlg/http://shop.crayola.com/paint-and-create/paint/assorted-color-washable-paint-6-ct.-5412040011.html

washable neon paint

washable neon paint for toddlers and preschoolers

washable glitter paint

washable glitter paint for toddlers and preschoolers

spill-proof paint cups

spill-proof paint cups for toddlers and preschoolers

washable finger paintwashable finger paint for toddlers and preschoolers

finger paint paperfinger paint paper for toddlers and preschoolers

artist paper

artist paper

construction paper

construction paper for toddlers and preschoolers

drawing paper

drawing paper for toddlers and preschoolers

easel paper

easel paper

standing easel

art easel and chalkboard and dry erase board for toddlers and preschoolers

tabletop easel

tabletop easel for toddlers and preschoolers

paintbrushes

paintbrushes for toddlers and preschoolers

foam sheets

foam sheets for toddlers and preschoolers crafts

pom poms

pom poms for toddlers and preschoolers crafts

sequins

sequins for toddlers and preschoolers crafts

rhinestones

rhinestones for toddlers and preschoolers crafts

pipe cleaners

pipe cleaners for toddlers and preschoolers craftscraft sticks

craft sticks for toddlers and preschoolers

tissue paper 

tissue paper for toddler and preschooler crafts

googly eyes

wiggly googly eyes for toddler and preschool crafts

washable watercolors

washable watercolors for toddlers and preschoolers

washable watercolors for toddlers and preschoolers

tape

tape for toddlers and preschoolers arts and crafts

masking tape

colored masking tape for toddlers and preschoolers arts and crafts

feathers

feathers for toddlers and preschoolers crafts

beads

beads for toddlers and preschoolers crafts

colored pasta and rice

colored macaroni pasta and rice for toddlers and preschoolers arts and crafts and sensory play

yarn

yarn for toddler and preschooler arts and crafts and fine motor play

yarn needles

yarn needles for toddlers and preschoolers arts and crafts and fine motor play

modeling clay

modeling clay for toddlers and preschoolers fine motor playair dry clay

air dry clay for toddlers and preschoolers fine motor skill play and arts and crafts

stickers

stickers for toddlers and preschoolers arts and crafts and fine motor play

stencils

stencils for toddlers and preschoolers arts and crafts

buttons

buttons for toddlers and preschoolers arts and crafts and fine motor play

felt

felt for toddlers and preschoolers crafts

stamps and inkpads

dinosaur stamps and inkpadfairy garden stamps and inkpad

animal stamps and inkpad

play dough

play dough for toddlers and preschoolers arts and crafts and fine motor play

glitter dough

glitter play dough for toddlers and preschoolers arts and crafts and fine motor play

play dough and clay modeling tools

play dough or clay modeling tools for toddlers and preschoolers fine motor play

kinetic sand

kinetic sand for toddlers and preschoolers

art smock

personalized kids art smock

art mat

art mat for toddlers and preschoolers

spray bottle and sponge

cleaning supplies for toddlers and preschoolers

drying rack

art drying rack for toddlers and preschoolers

craft supply storage

craft supply storage

For even more ideas for art and craft supplies for kids check out these lists!

60 Must Have Craft Supplies for Kids

Top 20 Craft Supplies Every Home Should Have

30 Must-Have Kids’ Craft Supplies

Kids Craft Supply List

The 25 BEST Kids Art Materials and Where to Buy Them

The ultimate list of must-have art materials for preschool & kindergarten

Which art and craft supplies are must-haves in your house? Let me know in the comments!

How I got Pregnant TWICE with PCOS: WITHOUT Fertility Treatments!

Hi there, fellow PCOS warrior! Are you searching for ways to get pregnant with PCOS without medication?

***I am not a doctor or medical professional, this is simply what worked for me. Please consult your doctor with any changes to your treatment or questions you may have.***

pregnant with pcos

I have gotten pregnant with PCOS without medication twice now and wanted to hopefully help some fellow cysters out.

Before I get started, I want to say, my heart is with you. I know PCOS is not a disease where there is a one-size-fits-all fix.

However, regardless of your situation, my research indicates almost any woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome can benefit from these lifestyle changes I am about to explain more in depth.

When I say in depth, I mean it, this is an info packed article. Go grab a mug of coffee or hot tea, you’re going to be hanging with me a while!

pcos and pregnant naturally

When I was first diagnosed with PCOS I listened wholeheartedly to my doctor’s recommendations to take birth control to regulate my cycles (I was having an average of maybe two periods per year) and to take Metformin to improve my insulin resistance.

Well, my periods did regulate- but it was artificial. I did lose weight on Metformin- but I felt horrible due to the constant diarrhea and the fact it made me vomit daily.

Then I got angry.

angry at pcos

Angry at the disease. Angry at the doctor. Angry at myself and the universe. You get the picture.

But that anger was the most productive anger of my life.

It led me down the path to better health with PCOS.

It made my two amazing little girls a reality.

Let’s start with the road to my first pregnancy.

pregnant with pcos without medication

The February before I conceived my first child I was at my heaviest weight, my skin was going crazy with acne, that lovely PCOS facial and body hair was having a heyday. I felt so completely discouraged.

Once I quit feeling sorry for myself and got angry, I went into obsessive research mode. It’s kind of my superpower.

What I discovered made me angrier but also gave me direction. I found out birth control is bad for PCOS. Wait? Didn’t my doctor prescribe that medication to help me get better?

Apparently, no.

Birth control just masks some of the symptoms of PCOS like amenorrhea (aka my lack of periods). Yeah, that really pissed me off too.

My groundbreaking discovery was that PCOS is largely controlled by blood sugar regulation.

pcos and blood sugar

Ladies, this is amazing news for us. It means we have so much more control over our disease than we may realize.

I actually ended up having a yearly physical around this time with my general practitioner. I talked with her at length about the effects I was experiencing with Metformin and my research.

She confirmed my suspicions. Her advice to me was to quit the Metformin and to make the necessary lifestyle changes to increase my insulin sensitivity and control my blood sugar.

I decided to start a blog called SECS vs PCOS to keep me motivated and also to try to connect with and possibly help other women with this disease. I have moved all of that material onto this blog as I let the other one gather dust after my first child was conceived and born.

blog for pcos

However, it is dear to me because it is a journal of progress that leads directly to my first natural pregnancy with PCOS.

Here is how I got pregnant with PCOS without medication:

Diet

When I was in high school I was lean. I had some issues with being overweight from the ages of about 7 years old until I was around 12 years old.

When I did my PCOS research I realized the key components that kept me lean as a teenager were my diet and exercise habits.

I will be forever grateful that I discovered The Schwarzbein Principle as a teenager because it was life-changing.

the schwarzbein principle for pcos

This book helped me naturally keep my PCOS in check before I ever knew I suffered from the disease. I followed the advice because I wanted to be healthy (and of course thin, I was a teenager after all!) but the added side effect it had was protecting me from the effects of my disease.

All through my teen years I chose to follow a mostly whole foods based diet that followed a healthy carbohydrate concept. I tried to keep my meals below a certain number of carbs and I tried to always pair my carbs with fat and protein to mitigate the effects they would have on my blood sugar.

blood sugar control key to pcos

Well, I never went hungry and I was as thin as I’ve ever been.

All of this to say, finding a way to eat that keeps your blood sugar in check is a key component to combating polycystic ovarian syndrome.

When I realized that I knew how to eat properly for this disease (and had just let it go by the wayside as a young adult out on her own for the first time) I hopped right back into this way of eating.

I kept careful watch over my net carb intake at each snack and meal and I also kept a tally to limit how much added sugar I was eating each day. The limit I set for myself was no more than 45g of net carbs per meal, no more than 15g of net carbs per snack and no more than 20g of added sugar per day.

This works for my body. I am able to lose excess weight and control symptoms of my PCOS such as acne and irregular periods when I eat this way.

This is also how I was eating when I conceived our first child- a mere 7 months after I committed myself to getting healthy.

After our first daughter was born I carried an extra 15-20 pounds after my initial breastfeeding weight loss. That extra weight started coming off when she was about a year old without worrying too much about my diet and exercise.

However, as she began eating solid foods, my husband and I decided to move towards a healthier lifestyle since we are both predisposed to metabolic and autoimmune diseases.

autoimmune paleo for pcos

We began eating mostly autoimmune paleo. The rest of the excess weight came off in a snap plus an extra 10 or so pounds. I felt amazing, and even though we have fallen out of the habit of eating this way, I know this is probably the most ideal way for me to eat.

I became pregnant with our second daughter within 6 months of losing the weight and eating this way.

After our second daughter was born I decided I wanted to get the bit of extra weight I was carrying off my frame a little sooner and I discovered Trim Healthy Mama.

trim healthy mama for pcos

Trim Healthy Mama was a good fit for us at that time because we were also gluten free as my husband was working to heal his gut health. I loved having so many healthy, low carb and gluten free options available in the accompanying Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.

http://www.anrdoezrs.net/links/8362112/type/dlg/https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/trim-healthy-mama-cookbook-pearl-barrett/1122036711?ean=9781101902660

The plan and cookbook are written by two sisters who are moms to many children so they “get” how hard it can be to eat properly, especially with a new baby or small children running about. It really helped me to get so many PCOS friendly recipe ideas that were quick like protein shakes or single serve treats.

Another book that I am currently reading is The Obesity Code. A friend of mine who also suffers from PCOS recommended it to me and it is truly a fascinating read. It specifically addresses insulin resistance and ways that our modern diet and lifestyle have led to an insulin resistance epidemic and therefore our obesity crisis.

the obesity code for pcos

The topics and strategies he covers are perfect for PCOS sufferers and my friend, who was struggling to control her PCOS despite doing seemingly everything right is finally seeing some awesome results thanks to the advice in this book and following a ketogenic diet.

ketogenic diet for pcos

These diets all have one thing in common: carefully controlled blood sugar

Each of these eating plans specifically monitors carb intake and its effect on blood sugar regulation. Boom.

Find a plan that fits your lifestyle and kick some major PCOS butt with it!

I am currently using the knowledge I have gained from all of the books and methods to create a healthy eating lifestyle that works best for our family. Rather than sticking with one specific plan, I have found that I can do best by using the parts of each that work best for us.

Exercise

All of my initial research into controlling PCOS naturally helped me understand that moving my body was critically important. Equally important was how I moved my body.

Again, in high school, I was at my leanest. I was super in shape from spending most of my free time at the YMCA. It was an escape from the insane home life a messy divorce created.

During my gym time I would usually do 30 minutes to 1 hour of moderate cardio on the treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical. Then I would do some serious strength training. Most days I also got outside and walked around 4 miles.

fitness for pcos

My PCOS research helped me understand that both of these activities are equally important for increasing insulin sensitivity and controlling blood sugar.

Whether it’s riding a bike or swimming laps or dancing like a madwoman, finding a way to get your heartbeat up is an important part of taking care of yourself with PCOS.

My research helped me understand that it’s important to choose a moderate intensity exercise with PCOS because our adrenals tend to already be fatigued. However, it is a vital part of any PCOS care plan because it helps empty cells of excess glucose which in turn increases insulin sensitivity.

When I was first on my path to health and on my way to conceiving our first daughter, I committed to walking the recommended 10,000 steps per day. I bought a pedometer and my husband (fiance at the time) and I competed over who could get the most steps in a day to keep it a little bit more fun (nowadays I wear a Fitbit that also tracks my heart rate and sleep since I know those are other important measures of my health).fitbit for PCOS

When our daughter was about 18 months old I felt ready to start prepping my body for another pregnancy because I was convinced it was going to be another uphill battle. Part of this prep work included getting back into a good exercise routine. A goal of mine has always been to be able to run a 5k at some point in my life.

We decided to invest in a jogging stroller after some research because it turns out jogging and running with a regular stroller isn’t a safe option. We found a decent jogging stroller similar to this one on Craigslist for the right price, thankfully.

single jogging stroller for pcos

My husband and I started working through the Couch to 5k program together, and I started walking regularly again as well.

Surprise! Our second daughter was conceived within the first few weeks of the Couch to 5k program (sadly I get too sick during my pregnancies with hyperemesis gravidarum to keep up with much of my healthy intentions and this goal got put on the back-burner again).

I’m not saying that doing the Couch to 5k program is what led to my pregnancy directly, but I feel sure that combined with my healthy diet and some supplements I was taking that it likely helped things along.

Now that my second baby is older I have been working on the Couch to 5k program again (it’s a bit slow-going right now between my running buddy quitting and the Southern summer heat, but I WILL finish this program at some point and probably write about it!). It’s a great program that makes even me, the girl who used to bribe the boys with kisses (on the cheek!) not to chase me during recess in kindergarten, feel like even I can run!

I got started again by trading our single jogging stroller for a double jogging stroller like this one.

double jogging stroller for pcos

 

I also found a friend (who also has PCOS!) who wanted to work through the program with me which made sticking with it much more fun!

As a side-note, I did recently change from my $20 budget running shoes to some nice Asics running shoes similar to these and I really wish I had done that sooner.

women's asics running shoes for pcos

And I also invested in a good high-impact sports bra, longer length compression running shorts and compression running tights (bye-bye chafed inner thighs!), and some breathable tank tops.

It is amazing how much of a difference having the right type of gear can make for an activity. I did make progress with my less than shoestring budget running hodge-podge and it’s totally cool to do it that way, but the difference it makes having gear that makes you more comfortable is incredible.

strength training for pcos

Although I know I should be doing strength training I haven’t gotten around to making it a commitment yet. However, I feel quite certain this is the component of my teenage lifestyle that really kept my PCOS in check. Building muscle is one of the best things you can do for blood sugar control and reversing insulin resistance. Hopefully I get this added back into my life soon, it was my favorite part of my gym time as a teen!

Rest

Research shows that disrupted sleep leads to disrupted hormones. People who are sleep deprived have an increased risk of becoming insulin resistant. Lack of sleep also causes increased cortisol levels (which causes more fat storage) and increased ghrelin (which makes you hungrier) with decreased leptin (which means your body doesn’t get the message it’s had enough to eat) meaning people suffering from sleep deprivation are more likely to be overweight.

sleep for pcos

Not getting enough sleep also causes higher blood pressure and reduced fertility in women.

This is an area I have always struggled with, although now the struggle is mostly due to having two small children who need me throughout the night.

In a nutshell, make sleep a priority. Set an alarm to go to bed. Use good sleep hygiene. Do whatever it takes, but get good rest each night. It’s a critical component to controlling your PCOS and your overall health.

Research

Lastly, I did a ton of research before conceiving each of my girls. I did research about the best diet and exercise for PCOS but I also did research about supplements, vitamins, minerals, and herbs that might support my PCOS goals. This information is constantly evolving and changing so it is well worth the time to read up on the latest information.

research for pcos

Before my first daughter I got pregnant with PCOS without medication the first time, some of the supplements I used included the following:

They were chosen at different times for different reasons. You need to do your own research and talk to your own doctor before adding in things like supplements. Some should not be taken together, some need to be taken together. Some are great for one situation and awful for another, so please please please do some careful research first. That being said I strongly believe they (along with dietary support) can help PCOS.

Cinnamon with Chromium

cinnamon for pcos

Magnesium with Zinc

magnesium calcium and zinc for pcos

B Complex 

b complex for pcos

Saw Palmetto

saw palmetto for pcosSelenium

http://bit.ly/2tCg7IB

Black Cohosh

black cohosh for pcosVitex (chaste berry)

vitex (chaste berry) for pcosInositol

inositol for pcos

Multivitamin

multivitamin for pcos

Fish Oil for Omega 3s

fish oil for pcos

Before conceiving my second daughter I decided to try out moon cycling even though I thought it sounded crazy, and I think it is what really sped up my conception time.

moon cycling for pcos

I didn’t use the suggested seeds but I did add in the following supplements during the “correct moon phase.”

Evening Primrose Oil

evening primrose oil for pcosCod Liver Oil

cod liver oil for pcos

Another thing I did differently before I got pregnant with PCOS with our second child was use a fertility tracker.

I was using Kindara at the time but I also like Life Period Tracker. Thankfully there are lots of apps to try out or you can chart signs the old fashioned way.

Tracking my fertility signs and cycles helps me gain a deeper knowledge of my body. When I see fertile signs such as increased cervical fluid or mittelschmerz (ovulation pain) I know I am on the right track with my PCOS care.

I highly recommend the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, you will understand your body so much better!

taking charge of your fertility for pcos

Tracking cycles and fertility can show you if you’re having any issues that need to be resolved like a Luteal Phase Defect or alert you that you’re having a fertile window open (yay!).

All of the actionable steps I have outlined are things you can start doing right now to improve your health with PCOS.

Get a summarized version of these tips sent directly to your E-mail by visiting this post to request a free printable list of steps (it’s really pretty too, I promise!).

You can read more about my PCOS journey if you are interested. It is my biggest hope that my story can help more women with PCOS regain their health- and to achieve their pregnancy goals like I have.

Nothing in the world can compare to taking the steps needed and achieving this dream. If I can help you, I want to.

second baby pcos

 

As always, I love to hear from my readers! Are there any tips you would add to my list? Did you learn anything new? Let me know in the comments below!

Lastly, if you liked this post, please take a moment to share it with others!

 

I will be starting the PCOS Take Action Challenge soon, please sign up below!

By signing up you will be joining my E-mail list, and first to know about the PCOS Take Action Challenge Kick-Off! It will be a full month of weekly E-mails filled with valuable, highly actionable (but never overwhelming) information to help you show your PCOS who’s boss!

As part of my list, I will occasionally send out a newsletter (no more than once a week) or let you know about new posts, but I hate being bombarded with E-mails and suspect you do too so I won’t smother you or SPAM you, promise!

10 Ways to Use SEO for Beginners: A Guide for Work at Home Moms

Have you ever wondered what is SEO or Search Engine Optimization? What on earth are these words and acronyms and how are they going to help me be a work at home mom?

If you are trying to create your own profitable business online you are going to eventually run into all this SEO mess. Perhaps you are curious about Etsy and SEO or SEO for Pinterest. Maybe you are a blogger and need to figure out SEO for your blog.

At the root of it all, SEO is a way of making sure your stuff gets seen by search engines. When someone types in a query they use keywords. The search engine uses those keywords to find content that provides the sought information.

If you haven’t used appropriate SEO within your content, guess what! Your content isn’t going to pop up in search results. Sad face.

You don’t want to take the time to create a kickass post only to have it hidden in cyberspace forever. Unless you’ve got all the time in the world to manually promote all of your stuff forever and ever you’re going to need to learn some strategies to get it seen without your constant hand-holding!

Thankfully, there are some easy ways to implement SEO as a work at home mom without losing your mind:

Let’s use the example of writing a post for the Fourth of July.

  • You can perform keyword research to find low competition keywords and long-tail keywords (or phrases)

There are tools you can use such as the Google Adword keyword planner that you can use to see which words would best serve your post. As you can see in this example, there are several key phrases you could use in your post that get a decent number of searches without a lot of competition:

long tail keyword research for SEO

-4th of July activities

-4th of July crafts

-Fourth of July crafts

-Fourth of July crafts for preschoolers

These would all be good phrases to target for your post. They get a good number of searches but there isn’t a saturation of content to compete against.

  • You can use long-tail keywords in your post titles.

This is a good place to tell people and search engines what you’re writing about. Make sure that you use titles that are engaging on top of being keyword dense otherwise you’re going to lose your people audience’s attention pretty quickly!

  • You can use keywords in your page slugs. 

This is a subtle way to show the search engines what you’ve written about.

  • You can use long-tail keywords in your opening sentence for a post.

Another key area to tell the search engines AND human readers what you’ve written. Make sure that you catch people’s interest here before you lose them to all the other things demanding their attention!

  • You can use long-tail keywords in subheadings. 

Subheadings help people and search engines scan your writing and get a good understanding of your points. Using engaging but clear subheadings with appropriate keywords can be an excellent SEO strategy.

  • You can use keyword phrases in your photo title and alt-text.

You may have never noticed the “alt-text” box when you are adding photos but it is there for you to write a short description in case a picture doesn’t load on your post. You can use this area to plant a few keywords as well.

  • You can use keywords in your content.

Obviously, as you are writing you should strive to create engaging content that naturally flows with your targeted words and phrases. Don’t overdo it or you’ll sound spammy, but do remember to keep your keyword strategy in mind as you write.

  • You can link to authoritative sites.

A great way to help your post perform better in search results is to link to high quality content on high quality sites. When the search engines see you linking to truly helpful information to add to your post you get rewarded with a better search ranking.

Likewise, linking to low quality content will lower your search ranking and penalize you. Be careful where you link your site!

  • You can link to your own content.

Linking to your own content helps keep readers engaged with your site longer. It also makes search engines happy so it’s a win-win!

  • You can update your meta-description.

As you complete your posts you can edit your meta-description, which is the blurb that will show up in search results, to include a quality description that engages readers and search engines alike with keywords and phrases.

what is SEO for work at home moms

I’m sure there are still tons of things I will learn about search engine optimization in the future, it’s a constantly evolving beast.

However, these small and simple SEO strategies can go a long way in helping you achieve search engine success! Whether you’re a beginning blogger or an artsy entrepreneur on Etsy, knowing how to talk to search engines is a mandatory skill to learn for long-term success.

The right words and phrases used the right ways in the right places will get your content seen without your blood, sweat and tears being wasted on constant manual promotion in Facebook groups and the like.

What are some ways that you utilize SEO to help search engines work for you? Let me know your favorite strategies below!

If this post was helpful for you, please take a moment to share it on Pinterest or Facebook- I would be super grateful!

Are you a work at home mom or a stay at home mom or do you work outside of the home? Regardless you’ll benefit from my FREE 30-page self-care workbook just for moms like you!

7 Ways to Be a Calmer Mom Today

I know, we’ve all been there. Those days where everyone seems to be crying, including you.

Where one more whiny question is going to make you just lose your mind. Absolutely. Lose. Your. Freaking. Mind.

You are only human, sweet mama.

Those clinging, screaming banshees are the thing you protect most fiercely in life.

Then you snap. And you feel like failure is tattooed across your every pore.

Those are your babies and you hurt them with your harsh voice or the cut of your eyes. You treated them the way you always swore you would never treat your own children.

You hear that scary mommy monster rise from its angry cave and you are powerless to stop it.

We have all been there. 

Our days are spent pouring our very souls into these precious beings. Showing them how truly cherished they are. Remembering who likes grape jelly and who likes honey on their peanut butter sandwiches. Playing the same pretend game on repeat all.day.long. Kissing every boo-boo, wiping every tear, and relishing a million tiny moments each day.

And sometimes, it all goes well enough. The tantrums happen and we are able to remain calm and let the storms pass. And other times we get triggered.

Maybe we are tired from staying up late to put the house back in order. Maybe getting the bills paid this month just doesn’t seem possible right now and you’re worried sick about it. Maybe you’re hungry or completely touched out from being so intensely needed.

Sometimes, try as we might, we just don’t have the tools we need to be the moms we want to be in these trying moments.

I find that I am constantly relearning how to respond to my children. I certainly don’t want their childhood experiences to mirror aspects of my own. I am aware that I lack tools to bring up mentally healthy children.

So I do a lot of research and reading and questioning my internal dialogue. I still struggle, often daily.

I’ve reached a new level of awareness that my mother did try her best. She did. She tried her best with the broken tools she had.

I know this because I try my best. I try my best, y’all. And I still fail regularly. With better tools, with deeper awareness of my actions and myself and my intentions. I still fail.

I don’t think the goal is not to fail. True failure as a mother would be no longer trying.

If you even care enough to worry about these things, I have a feeling you are doing a pretty amazing job at this motherhood thing.

With all that being said, I have found it helps me tremendously. Did I say TREMENDOUSLY? To have some brand new tools in my parenting toolbox.

Things I would have never in a million years thought about on my own. Things so far removed from my own childhood they can feel alien in nature.

Which is why I have to study and  memorize them.

Here are 7 of my personal go-to parenting tools that help me be a calmer mom.

  1. Setting firm and calm limits is something I am still learning to be consistent with. In the moment, sometimes it feels easier to let things slide. However, when I feel my calm slipping away it’s almost always after I’ve been avoiding setting proper limits for too long. Limits help all of us know what to expect of each other and get along better (even if they may cause some tantrums).
  2. Letting them cry has been one of the hardest things for me to learn to do. I am not talking about heartlessly letting them cry. I am talking about being a safe place for a child to offload big feelings without trying to distract them or make them stop. Once that storm clears we are closer and much, much calmer and happier.
  3. Finding creative ways to connect through play is another tool that can completely reset our day. When I take the moment to be as silly as possible and get my kids (and myself) laughing we are able to move past our upsets much more easily and start working with (rather than against) each other once more. I forget why I’m angry and am able to enjoy my children again.
  4. Special Time deepens my connection with my children and lets me really appreciate them as they are. I sometimes struggle with giving them this undivided attention, but when I do there is a huge shift in their behavior- and in mine.
  5. Giving choices helps me confidently but gently set appropriate limits which cuts down on my frustration. When a firm binary choice is offered there is much less whining and arguing which makes our days run much more smoothly.
  6. Listening to behavior is another way to reduce stress. When I take a minute to remember that all behavior is communication I am able to respond much more appropriately. Maybe my child is whining because I’ve said “just a minute” to her all day long. Maybe they’re bickering because they’re hungry and tired. Taking a step back to view the behavior as clues to how I can help them gives me a mental reset when I need it most.
  7. Paying attention is another area where I sometimes struggle. How many times do I catch myself not really focusing on what my children are trying to tell or show me and simply saying something like “way cool!”. Ouch. When I take the time to really notice them they magically stop demanding so much attention. Their cups get filled.

I am by no means telling you these tools have made me a perfect mom.

I am just sharing some things that can make a huge difference in my level of stress and how I interact with my children.

I hope these ideas help you be more of the mom you are always striving to be and less of the scary mommy today. Mothering is tough work and we need all the resources we can manage to help us muddle through.

Tell me- how do you help yourself be a calmer mom when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed or triggered and angry?

I love discovering new tips and tricks to make this journey a little bit easier!

 

7 ways to be a calmer mom

 

And if you’re feeling burnt out, please take a moment to go treat yourself to my FREE 30 page Self-Care Workbook for moms just like you.

 

For more motherhood musings click here and for more self-care for moms click here.

Little Boy Playground Bullying Behaviors and Little Girls

“No girls allowed.”

“Girls can’t…”

Little words that are so often ignored as innocent child’s play. Are they such harmless words?

Where do children absorb these concepts in the first place? Are they learned in schools, from television shows, or on the playground? I’m sure this type of conditioning is found the world over, but I would argue the heart of the issue lies in parenting.

We all know that bullying is harmful.

According to StopBullying.gov, children who are bullied experience “Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood” among many other issues. They also state that “kids who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood.” Interestingly, even children who witness bullying experience negative impacts.

Today, on her fourth birthday, my sweet little daughter experienced playground bullying. She wanted to climb on the play equipment and had a little boy yell at her that it was a toy that only boys could use because it was a ship.

(Well then. This must be a highly inappropriate children’s playground, a ship that must be steered with a penis? We need to get a petition going on this one.)

My husband and I both calmly intervened. We empowered our daughter and made sure her voice was heard. Still this small boy yelled at us and at our daughter that she couldn’t play. His mother did not even acknowledge there was a problem. The damage was done- he learned nothing.

This is not the first time a little boy has treated our daughter this way, and I know that it won’t be the last. Luckily, our daughter was shown (yet again) that her parents will back her up when needed.

Aboutkidshealth.ca tells us emphatically that parents are the responsible parties when it comes to bullying. When aggressive behavior is identified within a child it must be monitored closely and corrected. It is also important to analyze home life for any potential interactions that may model bullying.

Thankfully this encounter was mostly only upsetting for me and while remaining a blip for my daughter. But was it really a blip? What did she absorb from this situation?

What conditioning took place in that small chance of a moment?

We go out of our way to provide a gender neutral footing from which our daughters can explore their personal likes and dislikes.

We play with tiaras and princess dresses, yes. We wear pink and purple and sparkles. We enjoy the wonder of fairy houses and tea parties with stuffed animals.

We also play with dinosaurs and trains. We wear navy blue and red and dirt on our faces. We enjoy stomping in mud and digging in the dirt.

We are raising girls who can.

Not recess queens, not playground bullies.

Girls who can…

Bake cakes and grill burgers

Identify butterflies and vintage video games

Play with dolls and build forts

Wear tutus and soccer cleats

Do absolutely anything they set their minds to.

If one day we are blessed with a boy, we will raise a boy who can do all of those things as well.

This isn’t boys versus girls. There are challenges with sexism and parenting no matter your child’s sex.

But I am tired of hearing these gender stereotypes reinforced by society.

I can’t help but wonder how these situations inform a child’s identity.

Sometimes it’s not a mean child on the playground. Often it’s an adult- things said generally without any thought whether it’s based on how a girl is being treated or how she looks.

“He just thinks you’re pretty.” (don’t you dare, I might punch you)

“Boys will be boys.” (see above)

“What a shame her hair’s stick straight.” (what the WHAT???)

“You’ll get muddy.” (seemingly benign, but really, let her PLAY, she washes just as well as a boy!)

I hope that you catch yourself the next time you speak of something in terms of “boys” and “girls”- gendering life limits everyone.

According to an article by Natasha Daly featured in National Geographic:

“For adults, play is a break from life. For children, especially in the earliest stages of childhood development, play is life, and toys are the tools of early learning.

That includes lessons about gender. American society has made significant strides towards gender equality over the past century, but children’s toys seem to be moving in the opposite direction, reinforcing traditional roles rather than expanding them. The implications are serious: The way girls play may affect how their brains develop.”

Think about this.

When you say something is for boys or for girls you are limiting the potential interests and talents of roughly half of the population.

Little girls can do anything. So can little boys.

Let’s change the dialogue.

Let’s step in.

Let’s educate.

Don’t be like that mom today who couldn’t be bothered. Don’t be part of the problem.

Don’t let your words and actions further condition society towards gender norms that steal a child’s sparkle.

Your children are watching and they are listening, whether you realize it or not.

Letting a little boy menace a little girl about what is appropriate for “boys” or “girls” on the playground may seem innocent, but it’s not. You are teaching him that behavior is okay. You are teaching him to have a general lack of respect towards females. You are teaching him that force wins.

This is not okay.

Unless it requires a penis or a vagina to operate, it is for everyone. All the colors, all the toys, and all the playground equipment.

little boys playground bullying little girls

Mama, if you haven’t treated yourself to my FREE 30 page self-care workbook just for moms like you, go grab it here!

For more reflections on motherhood click here, and for more thoughts about children’s health and safety click here.

 

10 Perfect Father’s Day Gift Ideas 2017

Father’s Day 2017 is less than two weeks away, y’all!

June is a crazy month at our house. We have my husband’s birthday shortly followed by our oldest daughter’s birthday AND my birthday. Yep, I have a birthday twin!

Then, before I know it, Father’s Day arrives. BOOM! Oops.

I’m not a big gift-giver, but my husband is. It’s definitely his number one love language, so I always feel terrible for not being more on the ball with it.

Since it’s time for me to figure out what I can do to help him feel as special as he truly is, I figured I could bring y’all along for the ride. Hopefully I find some things that help you out too!

Father's Day 2017 Gift Guide

  1. This flat woven jute and wool Dhurrie rug is handcrafted in India from ethically sourced and fair trade materials.  Dad will love the global sophistication it brings to his office or man cave.
  2. What man doesn’t enjoy looking and smelling irresistible? Give him a gift he will love for months to come with a subscription to Scentbox. He can request colognes he’s been curious to try or receive surprise fragances in the mail each month. He will love creating his own personal collection of designer scents.
  3. My husband is an avid reader with taste for highbrow literature. He would love knowing his gift helped foster literacy in others by supporting Better World Books. However, when he’s on the go or has curious (code: destructive page rippers) kiddos in tow, a Father’s Day gift from eBooks would be most appreciated.
  4. If the dad in your life loves wine and has a taste for a little quirkiness, these safari themed wine corks might be just the ticket. Get the giraffe, zebra, rhino, and cheetah for a nice set that will bring a smile to his face when he sees them!
  5. The sweet father of my children has a HUGE love for all things coffee. He loves collecting fine implements to create the ultimate coffee making experience. He would love receiving this matched coffee pot,  mug, and cream pitcher and sugar bowl along with these fun coffee coasters for a smile. They would elevate his morning coffee ritual to something extra special.
  6. You might not be able to buy a dream vacation for your traveler at heart, but this handsome compass is a sentimental nod to his wanderlust that will dress up his desk and help him daydream about future adventures as a family.
  7. Every man needs a stylish option to tote his important gear. This leather satchel is perfectly masculine and a very eye-catching  way to haul around a laptop or tablet (or maybe even become the “daddy” diaper bag!).
  8. Put a twist on the quintessential Father’s Day socks by giving him this beautifully handcrafted gift set that gives back with every purchase.
  9. Hot tea makes a close second in competition to coffee for my husband. He gets a kick out of trying new blends and learning different brewing methods. This organic tea sampler would make a thoughtful gift he would enjoy sharing as a family.
  10. These fossil rock drink cubes and ancient cave stone coasters make a nice pairing for cold summer drinks or evening cocktails.

There you have it, 10 Father’s Day gifts that are unique and thoughtful!

If the father you are buying for is more at home in the kitchen (or the way to his heart really is through his stomach!) he may be touched by a thoughtful gift of surf and turf or a produce subscription for some easy but meaningful alternatives to those listed above.

I hope that your Father’s Day is spent reflecting on all that the special dads in your life do and enjoying some quality time together.

What are you planning to give as gifts for Father’s Day this year? Do you have any special Father’s Day traditions in your family?

Mama, while I know dad is the focus this month, are you taking care of yourself? If you need some inspiration sign up to receive my FREE 30 page self-care workbook here.

Recycling and Other Earth Friendly Activities for Kids

Spring is in full swing and this past weekend we got to celebrate Earth Day! This is the first year I have felt like my daughter was old enough to grasp some of the Earth-friendly concepts that make up Earth Day celebrations.

Last week we got into the spirit by planting some organic tomato and organic cucumber seeds to create a container garden, making bird feeders, discussing the meaning of “reduce, reuse, recycle”, and explaining certain practices like cutting the rings on soda can packaging.

Our seeds were gifts from the Easter Bunny, a tradition I hope to continue throughout my girls’ childhoods. Apparently my grandfather, Pops, always planted his garden on Good Friday. I thought it would be a nice nod to his memory to start the tradition of giving seeds every Easter.

We created bird seed “cookies” using this tutorial from the CornellLab of Ornithology. This was am activity that both my 3 year old and 1 year old thoroughly enjoyed. We also created bird feeders from our recyclables using an old milk jug and an old cream bottle. I let my 3 year old paint these with acrylic paint and then cut them to turn into feeders after they dried.

We are listening to the Recycling Song by Jack Johnson to broaden our learning experience

We are also working through this free recycling workbook from The Department of Conservation Division of Recycling of California. It’s pretty extensive and parts are a little advanced for a 3 year old but I think it’s a great resource to get the conservation conversation flowing.

To round things out (and because the only way I’ve found to keep the 3 year old occupied enough to let baby sister nap is with television) we watched a Magic School Bus episode that focused on a recycling plant. During the episode they showed how many objects we use everyday are made from recycled materials. After the show we had a lot of fun looking through our house for objects that were made from recycled materials. My daughter thought it was really cool that some of her toys used to be milk jugs!

I hope you’ve gotten some ideas to explore the topics of recycling and other earth friendly choices with your children. Here’s a little free printable activity you can work on together:

Earth Friendly Ideas for Families

Grab this printable here:


How did you celebrate Earth Day? Do you talk to your kids  about ways to be kinder to the earth? Tell me how your family handles this important topic in the comments below!

If you would like more mini lesson ideas look over here. For motherhood inspiration and a few funny anecdotes look here – and if you haven’t grabbed your FREE 30-page printable self-care workbook go get it, girl!

Stress Awareness is a Women’s Health Issue: Encouragement to Combat the Stress of Motherhood

Stress awareness month occurs every year in April. Motherhood stress is a very real burden for most of us. However, we need to do our best to keep mama healthy!

I personally know that I am in dire need of some self-care this week. In the last two weeks both of my girls have gotten sick with an illness that brought with it high fevers, clinginess, restlessness, and general misery for mama and child alike. We also have been inundated with massive storm systems in our area. Needless to say, we have been stuck inside the house to the point I have felt like climbing the walls.

Keeping two tiny people happy and the house in a reasonably safe and livable state can create a HUGE amount of mama stress. For one thing, there is the noise level that occurs with a small home and small children at play (or expressing upset). Then there are the endless messes that occur to keep these little people occupied.

I don’t mind the messes so much, but sometimes it creates safety issues. Tripping and slipping are very real potential outcomes.

Like yesterday, my obituary very nearly read “slipped in secretly spilled bubble solution and hit her head on a stepstool”. My heart is still a bit racy remembering that moment of uncertainty as to whether I would be able regain my footing before braining myself with no other adult home to assist me in the worst-case scenario.

STRESS!

Not much time elapsed before my younger daughter somehow poured most of the bath water on the floor- only to have my older daughter run in and slip, barely missing her head on the cast iron tub.

STRESS!

Mothers as a whole have a huge amount of responsibility on their shoulders. We keep other people ALIVE every.single.day. People who are hell-bent on finding the most dangerous possible things to do and diving in, we have to referee that mess! That right there is STRESS. Women stress about so many things because they have to.

We are the ones who remember that the older child only eats triangle sandwiches with no crusts while the younger one only eats crust. We remember a gallon of milk needs to be bought if anyone is going to enjoy their nectar of the gods in the morning (coffee is comfort in a mug for me!) and that the well-check appointments need to be made and that the power bill is due on Tuesday.

stress awareness is a women's health issue

Stress is definitely one of many women’s health issues that needs attention, so I thought I would take a moment in honor of stress awareness month to urge you to practice some self-love and offer some women’s health tips related to stress.

I love quotes, they inspire and encourage me along my path. I found these self-love quotes particularly lovely:

“Self-love is the source of all our other loves.”

– Pierre Corneille –

“It is not love that should be depicted as blind, but self-love.”

– Voltaire –

“We can climb mountains with self-love.”

– Samira Wiley –

And these mom health quotes are a great reminder of how important it is to prioritize ourselves and make mama healthy too:

“I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you.”

– Joyce Meyer –

“Your body hears everything your mind says.”

– Naomi Judd –

“The groundwork of all happiness is health.”

– Leigh Hunt –

Stress awareness is so important. Did you know that stress can take a toll on all of your body systems?

Motherhood stress could be impacting not just your mood but also your respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, reproductive, and nervous systems.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, some ways to combat the effects of stress are:

  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol
  • Mindfulness
  • Breathing
  • Time for yourself

Mama stress is such a real thing y’all. We have to take the time to take care of ourselves and prevent stress from harming our bodies.

Stress awareness month would be a great time to look at ways to implement routines that promote more time for you to devote to self-love, self-care, and mama health in general.

When we take care of ourselves we are better able to be the mothers and women we aspire to be.

Sweet mama, please tell me what you do to keep your stress levels down in the comments! I am always searching for new ideas to implement in my own life and to share with my loyal readers.

 

If you are looking for some inspiration to get your groove back, reduce your stress, and make self-care a priority please go grab your FREE copy of my 30-page printable self-care workbook for mamas just like you here!

To read more about ways I try to implement self-care, click here. If you’d like to hear more about my mothering journey click here.

As always, thanks for reading!

Until next time,

n Our Happy Imperfection!

 

 

Mom You Are Loved, Remember to Love Yourself

Moms, you are appreciated.  You are loved beyond measure.  You are your children’s rock and safe place. Motherhood can feel all too thankless and we often forget to care for ourselves. Alexandra reminds us how much we matter- and that practicing regular self-care is critical to be your best self in all that you do.

 

gratitude for mom self care adviceAlexandra is the founder & blogger of The Happy Life Formula. She is passionate about living a happy life through wellness, love, fun, lifestyle, money, gratitude and purpose. You can check out her blog or follow her on Facebook or Pinterest!

I distinctly remember being in the car with my mother when I was 22 years old and home for some time off from college.

 

In the car is when it is easiest to have conversations that are difficult, awkward, or meaningful since the other person can’t exactly run away and is forced to listen to whatever you have to say.

 

Usually, it had been my mom having one of these conversations with me. But on that day, I took a moment to let her know something that had been on my mind after conversations with all of the people and friends I had met at school.

 

Mom, I just wanted to thank you for being the parent that you are. You encouraged, inspired, enabled and loved me through my years and I wanted to say thank you.

 

Mamas, while I may not be a mother yet, I am a daughter. In that moment I realized how much time, energy, love, and sacrifice my mom gave to me.  I was finally able to express my sincerest gratitude to her for mothering me when I was 22.

 

It took me 22 years to put into words the thank you that she deserved for shaping me into the person I am today. So I want you to remember a few things as you continue your journey with motherhood (and I hope I remember to take my own advice when I become a mother!)

mom self care mom love

You have to love yourself first

 

I know, you’ve probably heard this advice a million times but sometimes I think we need to remind ourselves of this a million more times!

 

Yes, I know you have tiny humans relying on you to meet all of their needs, but in order to do so you need to be well taken care of yourself.

 

You know on an airplane, when they are going through the safety instructions and they always remind you that in the event of an emergency, you need to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others? That same example applies to every day life.

 

mom self care self love

 

What does this mean?

 

Find some time to practice self-care. Ask your partner to watch the kids while you take a shower alone, without little ones prying the door open. Link up with your neighbors to take turns watching the kids so that you can take a nap or read a book for pleasure. Have grandma and grandpa take the kids for a weekend so you can visit a spa or hang out with your girlfriends.

 

I promise you, it is OKAY to take time for yourself! It will make you a happier person who will bring more to your interactions with your family. You’ll have new experiences to share and more love to give if you are filling your own bucket with love.

 

Your children’s opinions are the ones that matter

 

I thought that when middle school and high school were over it would mean the end of drama and judgmental people. Turns out, some of these people never grow out of middle and high school.

 

But guess what? Who cares what these people think of you! I know it is tempting to feel mom-shamed by other mothers who are posting photos of the handmade dresses they sewed for their daughters while making them organic bento box lunches and hosting Pinterest worthy birthday parties for their 2 year olds who won’t remember them. But the only opinions you need to listen to?

 

 Your children’s.

 

They are the ones that matter. They are the ones who should be driving your decisions and they are the ones who you want to make happy. And I promise you, in their eyes, you are doing an amazing job.

 

You don’t have to be perfect

 

There is a quote by Voltaire that sums this up beautifully:

 

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

 

What this means is stop letting the fear of not being perfect paralyze you and prevent you from taking any action towards something that can be good!

Baking a cake for your child’s birthday is an act of love, it doesn’t have to look like the perfectly frosted creations you see in the bakery window. Doing something and enjoying the process of spending the time with your loved ones is what matters.

 

Besides, I bet your kids and your family think you are pretty perfect already!

 

My hope for you, moms, is that you stop being so hard on yourselves. You may not hear the thank yous or the profound proclamations of how wonderful you are for many, many years but I promise you that a mother is a precious gift to a child. You may never know how loved you truly are, but I promise you, you are.

 

Xoxo

Alexandra

Mama, if you are ready to show yourself more of the love you deserve, check out the FREE 30 page self-care workbook made just for you right here, at Our Happy Imperfection. Or find more mothering inspiration here.

Free Self Care for Moms Printable Workbook

Until next time,

Sarah

Why I Work from Home: Why Working from Home is Better for Me

I know people may wonder why I work from home. To be honest, I’ve never seen another option I could live with long-term. I’ve always known I wanted to work for myself. After all, it’s the only way to ensure that I have full control over the priorities in my life.

Namely, my family.

I can remember the scoffing and “smart” remarks that many adults would make when I voiced this as a teenager. However, it’s always been my dream.

After having my first child I realized that I could never happily leave her in the care of someone else. It wasn’t really breaking news for me, just confirmation of the gut feeling I had always had.

Once my second child arrived, not only could I not bear the thought of being away from my miracles– but I realized I would have to be earning quite the pretty penny to even make working outside of the house financially worthwhile.

why I work from home

There was no way I was going to go to work outside of the home, away from my babies, only to net a couple of hundred dollars after accounting for expenses.

Since becoming a mother I have earned money in somewhat creative ways that allow me to be with my children.

I have picked children up from school and babysat. I have run a successful Etsy shop selling handmade toys and women’s accessories. I have culled items from our home and sold them for a profit. I have worked online as an independent contractor.

Now, I am focusing my energies on more online income streams to make a more stable and lucrative income.

I have also saved money in many areas to stretch our budget further than most people would ever think it could go. Some choices I have made have saved hundreds or even thousands of dollars:

  • cloth kitchen towels
  • cloth wipes
  • cloth diapers
  • breastfeeding
  • secondhand furniture
  • secondhand clothing
  • secondhand baby gear
  • living in a smaller home
  • going without cable
  • owning one smaller used car
  • holding my babies (as opposed to having multiple contraptions to soothe/hold them for me)
  • menu planning based around low cost meals
  • shopping sales and clearance
  • pursuing minimalism
  • cutting my husband and daughters’ hair at home
  • getting a free haircut once a year by donating my hair
  • enjoying small pleasures- like a picnic at the park- rather than more expensive outings

…just to name a few!

When being with my children day in and day out became my number one goal in life, I found ways to make it happen, and that is why I work from home.

It isn’t flashy or glamorous (yet) but I am doing my best to contribute to our household in a way that makes me happy and at ease in my soul.

There have been many moments along the way where I have doubted myself. I think my choice to put staying home with my children first comes with a certain amount of judgment sometimes. However, at the end of the day, what matters is how feel about my choices and how my family feels about those choices.

I know that if I worked outside of the home for someone else it would sap my joy. I would be constantly anxious with worry about my children. Especially because I know one of them would wilt in daycare. She’s just a very sensitive little soul who needs her mama, and that’s okay. She won’t always need me so much, but I want to be there for her now while she does.

In time I know that I will be able to look back and feel confident that I made the best choices I could for my family.

I won’t live with regret that I missed my children being small. I won’t live with regret that I gave my all to a business only to get laid off. Why I work from home isn’t just about me nowadays, it’s about my family too. It isn’t for everyone- but for me, it is the only choice.

To read more about being a work at home mom click here.

How has your career changed since you became a mother? Did you decide to become a work at home mom or do you work outside of the house- or not at all outside of taking care of your family?