If Your Kids Don’t Watch TV, You Are Not Alone

tots without techI made a decision two years ago that I’ve never regretted. No tech for my tots. Because we’re in the minority on this choice, I don’t talk about it very much. The thing is, even without watching shows or playing apps, the girls are still exposed to tech all the time. I’m a blogger for goodness sakes, of course they see my iPhone. I didn’t want to write this post from a position of authority and dictate 10 Reasons Why Children Should Not Watch Television or 8 Apps that Stall the Development of Infants. I just wanted to put it out there, that if you spend a day with children circling your legs and immersed in your to-do list, you’re not the only one.

If the thought of playing with children’s toys and entertaining them all day sincerely terrifies you, I can tell you that I am in the same boat! Hannah feels that way, too. She gives me about 8-24 minutes of solid focus and then takes off on her own. Generally in the morning she and Audrey play independently or together while I get breakfast ready. She pops in just in time to cajole me to put the food on the table and then happily gobbles her meal. After that we clean up the dishes. Some days I do the dishes by hand because it keeps Hannah out of the dishwasher and it takes a little extra time.

We have a helpful morning routine upstairs that stages our day. I open the windows and water the plants in the bedroom. Then we make the bed, brush our teeth and get dressed. Sometimes this happens at 8:15 and sometimes it happens at 11. I try to be flexible and follow Hannah’s lead. A few times a week we run errands or meet up with other Moms, but most days we stay home and hang. The girls are fascinated when I do laundry or vacuum. Truly, any household chore is entertainment for them and that makes it enjoyable for me.

When we play together, I watch, listen, and offer suggestions. She loves to hear stories so I generally read to her while I nurse Audrey. Sometimes I’ll put on my creative hat and reminisce old Blue’s Clues episodes for inspiration on how to play with Hannah. In our world, I am Steve, Elmo, Big Bird, Mr. Rogers, and Miss Piggy. I am awesome. Hannah loves to watch me cook and assist when she can. We took our time and made big pots of soup last winter. I will say that we spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Did I mention that I’m also Giada? When Hannah is with her Dad, he fills the time by building and creating in his workshop. This summer he is hitting the backyard hard and creating the ultimate backyard escape. Out there, Hannah, Audrey, and I can watch the Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie.

I do not think that the girls will ever be behind the curve when it comes to technology. Just from observation, Hannah knows how to identify and manipulate technological objects. My Mommy Mantra is based on Montessori ideas, so I’m happy to follow their lead on identifying skills to work out for children instead of learning through tech. Our life is far from boring without TV or Apps during the day. It is full of creations, hobbies, and peace. We walk, think, talk, share, laugh, and learn. I don’t know yet when I will switch on the Tube for the girls. I always enjoyed Disney movies as a kid and I’d like to share those with the girls. Hannah is turning two this summer, but I think I’ll wait for a rainy day. Although, we do like to play in the rain, too…

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A Fairy Tale Come True

fairy tale cakeBed time in this house is a challenge. No matter the day, it seems that one of the girls finds a way to prolong the ‘night night’ ritual. Hannah tends to practice her rock climbing skills while Audrey attempts to drain every ounce of breastmilk that she can get. I try to relax and remain calm while all the action unfolds, especially since they play off one another. The way these girls do fall asleep is downright comical. Sometimes Hannah conks out on the couch while listening to a story. Other nights, they’ll fall asleep on either side of me in a Mama Pajama party. Only on rare occasions do both girls fall asleep in their own beds, and that never lasts the whole night.

This evening, I lost all my inspiration for singing songs or reading board books. Instead I let the words to this happy fairy tale roll out of my mouth and coax Hannah to sleep. It. Was. Magical. Maybe I should get this published?

Hannah Falls Asleep

Once upon a time there was a beautiful Princess named Hannah.

Hannah lived in the highest tower of the biggest castle on the highest hill.

She loved to explore and play all day.

Sometimes, it was hard for her to go to sleep because she was so excited after learning all day.

This made her Mama very sad because she wanted to go to bed, too.

One day, Hannah realized that she could go to bed and wake up the next morning to continue playing.

She decided to lay down and get some sleep.

After that, she felt very happy and she slept all night long.

(Mama crosses fingers.)

Potty Training

Last week Hannah decided she was done with diapers. I was hoping to put off potty training until this summer for the ease of wearing dresses and going bottomless. When she started handing me her soiled diapers, I knew it was time to bite the bullet and dive right in. Kids have windows of awareness and curiosity. When you catch it just right, you’re golden… for the most part.

I got some great advice from my Facebook fans about potty training. The next morning, I set a potty chair in our playroom on a blanket and let her roam. We talked about the potty now and then and if she started to go, I scooped her up and over to the potty and cheerily exclaimed, “Go potty!” She caught on really quickly. I’m not going to say there weren’t any accidents or it wasn’t messy, because it was totally gross, but I got over it. Just like the first time I pulled off a cloth diaper and threw it into the washing machine, it wasn’t that bad. In all honesty, I’m really excited about the progress because it means that I’m down to one kid in diapers!

The thing that really worked for Hannah was getting a book with a potty theme. I kept it next to her potty chair and reading helped her stay focused on the task at hand. Once we had the action and the vocabulary down, it was really just a question of if it would work out of the house. We took a chance and ventured to the nursery. I wore Hannah and when she started to fidget I asked, “Go potty?” She replied, “potty” so we walked to the parking lot and I let her sit on the potty chair in the front seat. She was a little nervous about it so I put it away and packed her back up. I asked again, “potty?” and when we set everything back up she sat on the chair and thought it was the bee’s knees. She laughed, quickly went potty and we caught back up with her Dad inside. I was so proud of her!

She was really happy, too. I feel like I have been holding her back the whole time. She’s known about her functions and has used squeals and escape tactics to let me know. I just wasn’t taking the opportunity to help her use the potty because diapers were easier for me. Let’s face it, anyone who has taken a picture of a toddler knows that catching any action in the moment is nearly impossible. I’ve hidden behind Audrey in the carrier for long enough, so I finally gave Hannah the attention she needed to develop her potty awareness.

This wasn’t our first trek with potty training. When Hannah was 4 months old, I read about Elimination Communication and held her over a potty while she peed. I thought it was the greatest idea in the world, but the process didn’t stick because I created a lot of barriers between a convenient potty and an infant. From the way I dressed her to the errands we ran each day, it just wasn’t going to happen for us. When she turned 12 months, I was eager to help her learn because she showed a lot of curiosity. Most likely, that was because I had to pee 25 times a day in my ninth month of pregnancy. That’s why I really liked the idea of Potty Learning. There were no expectations for her to go. If she wanted to try, she could. At 15 months she showed more signs of curiosity, so I bought her a potty chair. We made some real progress and had a few great days. Those were often followed by a week or a month of total indifference to the potty. By 18 months, I completely gave up. That child flushed the toilet more times than I can count each time we walked into the bathroom. When she lost interest, I decided to give our water bill a break until further notice. I’m happy to report that after months and several different attempts at different phases of growth, I really feel like we’re on the right track.

Potty training was a happy experience. It was positive and upbeat and it gave Hannah the chance to show her independence. If she uses a diaper tomorrow, that’s ok. If she doesn’t, that’s even better because I take a chocolate chip each time she has her potty reward, too. (Ok, I take 5, but I’m nursing!) This is an awesome age for potty learning because Hannah is motivated by her discoveries. She’s learning how to control her body functions and she’s learning about rewards. Luckily she is also too young to remember that I let her fall into the toilet. I can hardly forgive myself for laughing at that one, but she took it like a champ.

potty trainingIn all fairness, potty training a kid who wears cloth diapers is an easy task compared to using disposables. Not only do they feel the sensations easier, but we also have some great supplies for the task. If I don’t feel comfortable that I’ll catch her cues, I can put one of Hannah’s Gro-Via cloth diapers on her bum. She’s been keeping them dry during outings for a while, so she understands they’re more of a backup now. I have a diaper sprayer attached to the toilet which makes the messy cleanups a little better. Since I’m already doing diaper laundry for Audrey, I just use cloth wipes for her cleanup and pre-fold diapers as towels to clean up the potty chair. Baby Legs are also really popular in the cloth-diapering circles. These leg warmers come in lots of varieties for boys and girls and work great for cool-weather potty training.

For as difficult as it can be to wrangle Hannah, she’s been really great through this whole habit shift. How was your potty training experience?

Toddler Games: An Indoor Bear Activity

One of Hannah’s favorite books is, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.” This was also one of my favorite stories from childhood, so it has inspired me to bring the story to life in our playroom. I can still remember tapping out the beat on my knees and swishing my arms through the grass when I was a kid. Maybe this will be one of Hannah’s first memories, too. If so, I hope she will pass along the fun to the next generation.

toddler activity bears

We start our bear hunt with Hannah’s favorite Teddy. The sign for bear is easy to remember, simply cross your arms across the chest and mimic dragging your fingers in a scratch. She also likes to practice making growl sounds. When I read the story, which is pretty much memorized at this point, I lay the book down so that I can make motions for each of the delays. The best part is when we find the bear and ‘race’ quickly back through all the detours. Hannah loves to hear me animate the fear in finding the bear and the excitement of the race.

After the book, Hannah helps the bear search for food from our brightly colored boxes. Each box contains two non-food items and one fruit. When she gives the bear food, I make him eagerly gobble it up. If she gives him a ball or crayon, he enthusiastically spits it out and asks for more food. He also sniffs around to help Hannah find what he likes best. She gets a huge kick out of hearing him snort. I’m not sure if she knows that it’s me making the noise, but she laughs and laughs about the silly sounds.

Next, Hannah sorts all the objects back into their boxes with my help or encouragement. She completes more of the task on her own if she’s not overly excited from bear tickles and snorts. Then I sing the song, “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” while moving the teddy up and down my arms. He perches atop my head for a little while, too. Those actions are silly, but they have helped me tell when Hannah wants to sing the song because she’ll bring the bear over to my head.

To round out our bear activity, we read the book, “Brown Bear Brown Bear, What do you See?” I found a great demonstration of all the signs that go with the animals and colors on YouTube, so I’m slowly learning the collection. Even though the bear hunt book ends with the line, “We’re Not Going on a Bear Hunt Again” we always end up repeating this activity.

Shop the Best New Toy Store In the Philadelphia Suburbs

Monkey Fish Toys opened their doors for a sneak peek for bloggers in preparation for the Grand Opening in April. They are currently open daily to the public in their new space in The Shops on Eagleview Boulevard. The new shop boasts 19 eco-friendly or sustainable toy brands in addition to the mix of popular toys like Legos and Gund. They have done a really great job identifying brands that parents can trust and value. The best part is that I didn’t see a single toy in the shop that required batteries.

monkey fish toys

Going to the shop is an awesome experience in itself because there are stations where kids (and adults) can test out or play with the products. For special occasions, parents can book the shop for an unforgettable party featuring their children’s favorite toys. With themes like Legos, dinosaurs, pirates, dress up, crafts, or Holidays, every kid is sure to have a great time.

All the craft supplies are from a new brand called Eco Kids that boasts products made from natural materials. This is huge for me since my kid always puts crayons directly into her mouth. We picked up a pack of the exploratory molding dough. I like that it is an appropriate toy for kids 2 and up since it is non-toxic. Some of the brands I’ve seen in stores recommend waiting till kids are 3, but age 2 is the perfect time to squeeze and press the dough into shapes. Hannah loves the stuff!

For me, seeing how hard Monkey Fish Toys worked to find new brands that fit the eco-friendly lifestyle is a huge motivator for me to help get the word out about their shop. It’s encouraging to see that a company who chooses toys that increase in value over time (like Legos) has honed in on this niche. I’m inspired to pick out the educational toys that will foster a love of learning through play in our home from their great selection and I would encourage you to visit the shop, too.

monkey fish toys exton pa chester tounty toy store

How to find Monkey Fish Toys:

This part gets a little confusing since they are in the transition phase, so I’m going to give as much information as I can.

Shop Address: 264 Eagleview Blvd, The Shops on Eagleview Boulevard, Exton, PA 19341

Phone: (484) 341-8367

Email: KerriR@bullmarkettoys.com

Monkey Fish Toys on Facebook

Monkey Fish Toys on Twitter

The Online Shop – Bull Market Toys 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received compensation for sharing this information. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Poop

The law of cloth diapering appears to be:

As soon as the laundry begins, the child will poop.

No matter what time of day I start the laundry, I can be sure that the next diaper will be full of poo. Some days are worse than others. Take, for instance, today. No sooner did I delay my early load of laundry, than Hannah greeted me with a load in her pants. I smugly thought I was ahead of the curve as I plopped the dainty, compact poo into the toilet and started the laundry. For once, I was experiencing diaper serendipity! I couldn’t have been more wrong.

toddler poopEach diaper throughout the day became progressively worse. In total, there were five diapers with poop in them today, each of a distinct and very different sort. The second detestable diaper came predictably as soon as the washing machine started the pre-rinse. It did not ruin my high spirits though, because I could easily toss it in for the wash cycle. The third undesirable diaper occurred while I was wearing Audrey, about 20 minutes before she was due to wake up from her peaceful slumber. If I laid her down she would undoubtedly wake up, so I opted to crouch next to Hannah for a standing diaper change since I figured it couldn’t be that bad. I was completely unprepared, so I raced back to the diaper supplies and loaded up on extra wipes and washcloths. By the time I got her all cleaned up Audrey woke up anyway, so I changed her, too. When it comes to diapers in this house, there is never a dull (or dry) moment.

A little bit later Hannah and I started talking about her doll that we now use to demonstrate potty routines. She eagerly walked to the bathroom proclaiming, “poop!” So, I followed her in and got ready to watch her act out how to help her doll use the potty. To my surprise, she started to attempt to use the potty herself. I was so excited to help her along that I ripped off her diaper and another poop spilled right onto the floor. OMG gross! Of course I was wearing Audrey again so I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off collecting wash cloths, wipes, and cleaning supplies all while trying to prevent Hannah from getting poop on the back of her dress. In the midst of all this madness, I had to simultaneously entertain Hannah with the narrative of what I was doing to keep her from creating her own entertainment in the bathroom. That usually consists of her taking whichever child potty accessory is available and splashing it in the toilet bowl.

At this point, I was totally pooped. I literally sighed and collapsed on the couch for a few minutes before making dinner. I casually considered not feeding the kid since she was obviously filled to the brim, but reconsidered when she set off to scale the bar stool on her own in pursuit of the source of the smell coming from the kitchen. We polished off a meal and got ready to go upstairs to take a bath. Once again, I opened a poopy diaper and had no choice but to shrug it off.

It never ceases to amaze me that a child so cute can produce something so foul so frequently. This is not one of the finer moments of Motherhood, but this is real. Parents spend up to thousands of dollars on poop solutions without batting an eyelash because we can’t stop it from happening. Some days it feels like I’m up to my elbows in it. If you feel that way too, you’re not alone.

Curse Words My Toddler Says

I clucked up by using curse words around my kids. My mouth has not been very clean. If I had a bar of Organic soap for every time that I cursed around my kids, I would have a lot of soap. I saw it coming, too. My husband is a sailor after all. I always thought, “At least I don’t curse as much as Zac!” Well, it finally bit me in the sass. Luckily, Hannah misinterpreted my lingo and has adapted a much sweeter word into her vocabulary.

I’m having a hard time wrangling Hannah while wearing Audrey. Usually around 4 PM, I just hit that breaking point where I can’t use the ‘wonderful Mommy script’ anymore. I can only explain to Hannah, “Mommy doesn’t like you to climb the furniture” while blocking her and redirecting her to a new activity so many times before my inner voice takes over and snaps. Generally this is because Audrey has just pulled my nipple with her in a graceful swan dive out of my arms. My tension gets the better of me, and as Hannah reaches for a dangerous object like the knives after precariously climbing the bar stool, I lose it. I’ve said s.h.i.t. in front of my kid more times than I care to admit and she learned. But, as with most things I imagine she will learn from me, she has interpreted it in a better way. Hannah thinks I said ‘SIT.’

curse words kids sayNow, when Hannah reaches her dangerous perch or climbs the dinner table, she announces, ‘SIT’ and plops down on her bum. I have to say that I think it’s awesome that she interpreted my curse word like this. First of all, she’s not saying it the bad way so I won’t get a mean glare in public. She’s also sitting down and preventing herself from injury. Now that I’ve learned my lesson, I can start spelling out curse words like the smart Moms do. How else will I get my husband to turn off the d.a.m.n. TV when the kids are in the room?

I know that just by writing this, I’ll have lost the magical power of the ‘sit’ word, but it was great while it lasted. So I have to ask. How do you keep your vocab clean around the kids? Do you use silly words to replace bad words or do you just not say them?