Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Benefits of Starting a Parenting Blog

I’ve been blogging for a little over a year.  It’s been a great journey and even though blogging has it’s own share of frustrations, there are a lot of benefits.  Here are some ways blogging has benefited me, and I think it could help you too!

Meeting Other Parents

I know you can meet other parents pretty much anywhere.  However, sometimes, it can be hard to make parent friends.  And, if you don’t have a great support system, parenting can be isolating. Through blogging, I have met some amazing people. Some of them are like-minded and some of them challenge my beliefs. Some of them live in the same county as me and others live thousands of miles away.  As a southern California parent, it’s interesting to get the inside scoop about places to visit in Washington or Thailand. I’m hoping someday I will get to meet some of my blogging friends in person or visit the places they have talked about.

Tweet this: Writing is therapeutic.....and other reasons why I blog.
Working Through your Feelings

I believe writing is therapeutic. While I often write humorous or practical posts, I also like to share personal parts of my life such as the time my son stayed in the NICU or my feelings of imperfection. While it’s sometimes hard to share your parenting trials and blunders, it can be helpful to share these feelings.

Helping Others

By writing about your own feelings, you may also find that you help someone else in the process. You may be the voice that a struggling parent needs, the inspiration for the mom who is not sure if she wants to home school, or the blogger that opens up the dialogue about a difficult topic.  Or you may give someone a much needed laugh or a great tip about how to get food coloring off their kids’ faces.

Seeing Life Through Another Person's Eyes

I think it’s easy to judge other parents because we haven't walked in their shoes. I read blogs by working parents, single parents, and really parents from all walks of life.  Each one of them has different experiences. Sometimes I can relate to these experiences and sometimes I can’t. However, it has opened my eyes, challenged my thoughts, and made me appreciate other parents.  Of course, you don't have to blog to read other blogs. However, if I didn't blog myself, I probably wouldn't network and be exposed to so many different types of blogs.

Making Money

It’s always nice to make money doing something you love.  I make money through ads, affiliates, and sponsored posts.  Money doesn’t have to be a focus but it’s nice to have the opportunity to bring in some income. 

Blogging isn’t for everyone!  However, if you’re on the fence about starting one, I encourage you to jump right in….the water is perfect.

Why do you blog?  If you don’t, have you ever considered it?
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Mom's Small Victories

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How to Make Bedtime Less of a Battle

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of My Happy Pillow.
All opinions are 100% mine.

I don’t know about you but sometimes my kids’ bedtime routine feels like it takes longer than an oral reading of Gone with the Wind.

Tweet this: What to do when your kids’ bedtime routine takes longer than an oral reading of Gone with the Wind.

They want a drink of water. Then they have to go to the bathroom. Then they want more water.

You ask them to pick out two bedtime stories and they come back with five.  

I imagine you’ve probably experienced something similar?

Sleep is important for kids. With school starting, I want to get my kids to bed at a reasonable hour to make sure they are rested and ready to go in the morning. Luckily, there are a few tricks I’ve learned that have helped make bedtime less of a battle*.   


I’m a big fan of a healthy dose of exercise each day. My kids enjoy swimming, indoor rock climbing, and running around at the park. Kids and teens need at least an hour of physical activity a day. Children need additional unstructured play time time too. Along with helping kids stay fit, exercise can also help kids fall asleep faster and improve their sleep quality.  

The Before Bed Snack

Since my kids are constantly moving, I offer them a snack before bedtime. I often give them oatmeal with a little bit of honey and cinnamon. As a complex carbohydrate, oatmeal is a great snack because it stabilizes blood sugar and helps keep your child full through the night. Other good snack choices include bananas, whole grain toast, and eggs. Just make sure your child doesn’t eat too much because a very full stomach can actually disrupt their sleep.

Calming Bath

My kids take a bath every night. I don’t lather them up with soap but I find a warm bath is a great way to help kids wind down. Lavender is a soothing scent so I will often add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the bath or use a lavender-scented bubble bath or body wash.  

An Object of Comfort

Being separated at night can be scary for some children.  A personal object, such as a stuffed animal or a special blanket, can be comforting and help a child fall asleep more quickly.  This is one reason I was thrilled when I was asked to review My Happy Pillow.  My Happy Pillow are lovable character pillows that also help children express their emotions. At age six, a young entrepreneur named Isabella thought up these great pillows that have one facial expression on one side of the pillow and another emotion on the other side. My daughter chose the pink Rosie the dog pillow with happy and sad emotions and my son chose Leo the Lion with happy and scared emotions.

These pillows are soft, lovable, and well-made. I was amazed at how well the kids took to their new toys. Sometimes, they receive a new stuffed animal or toy and within a few days the toy has been forgotten. This is not the case with My Happy Pillow. Along with taking the pillows to bed at night, they take the soft toys on the couch with them to snuggle with in the morning. They also took the pillows on a recent visit to their grandparent’s house. In addition, they have been using the My Happy Pillow to help talk about their emotions….which are, thankfully, mostly happy.

Along with pillows, the company also has cute, matching mini-me’s. These will be available soon and are available for preorder.  My kids have been taking their mini-me’s everywhere. They have a sturdy plastic clip that can be put onto backpacks.  

Oh, and as for the last minute dashes to the refrigerator and extra stories, I keep those to a minimum by being very clear with my kids and reminding them this will be the last thing we eat tonight or this is the last story we’re reading.  Overall, keeping our bedtime routine consistent keeps everyone happy!

Do you have any tips to make bedtime less of a battle?

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*The tips in this post are from personal experience and should not be used in place of professional advice. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

5 Signs You Need a Date Night

Recently, I went on a date night. And I don’t mean a Netflix movie and some takeout. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But sometimes it’s good to put on something other than yoga pants and go out to a nice dinner without having to worry about a three-year-old trying to snag all the french fries off of your plate. Here are five signs you need a date night.

You’re Ready for Bed Every Night at 8:00 pm

Let’s face it. When Friday night rolls around, most of the time I’m so tuckered out, I just want to watch a television show, chat with my husband or go to sleep. However, I decided it’s not a good thing to be in my pajamas by 8:00 pm every night, even if I end up staying up way too late. That could get a little boring.

Your LBD and Heels are Collecting Dust

I have half a dozen pairs of heeled shoes.  Most of the time, they just sit in the dark closet glaring at the flats and flips flops that get so much more use. Date night is a time when I can pull out my little black dress and some heeled shoes. After all,  I feel kind of silly wearing those types of things to play with my kids at the park. Plus, who wants  applesauce or boogers smeared all over their “dry clean only” outfit? 

Is your little black dress collecting dust? Tweet this:

The Last Really Exciting Movie You Saw Was…...hmmmm

Not to knock Lightning McQueen or anything, but sometimes I like to see a movie out of the G or PG range. For this reason, every few years, I’ll get robbed shell out the 20 or so dollars to see something exciting at the movie theater. Personally, I think T-Rex looks and sounds so much more menacing on the big screen.

You Forgot What it's Like to Have an Uninterrupted Conversation

We don’t go out to eat a lot. However, when we do go out with the kids, half the time I’m watching my minions to make sure they don’t choke, knock a plate on the ground, or douse the table with water. And of course, there is always a chance the three-year-old will get upset because his napkin is the wrong color. Going out on a date night means you can talk with fewer interruptions and focus on your relationship.  

In need of a date night? Here are a few ways to tell.  Tweet this:

You No Longer Know How to Let Loose

Are you used to having your life revolve around your baby’s nap schedule?  Wouldn’t it be nice to be free of your nursing bra?  Even though, you may not want to dance on any bars Coyote Ugly style, date night gives you the chance to let loose. This may mean staying out until 10 longer, having another glass of wine, or spontaneously ordering the molten chocolate lava cake that takes 20 minutes to prepare.

So when was the last time you went on a date night? Is it worth all the trouble of finding a sitter?  Would you rather have a date night at home?

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Because I'm Not Perfect

We used paper plates for dinner tonight while rows of clean, white china sat unused in the cabinets. And, on those paper plates sat leftovers, roasted chicken revived with herbs, barbecue sauce and a simple side of raspberries. 

Because I’m not perfect.

Unfolded laundry was pushed to the side of the bed as we collapsed from a day of playing, learning, and working. It may be put away tomorrow, but maybe not.

Because I’m not perfect.

Because sometimes you have to push aside some of the chores and the allure of perfection to savor the moments with your family.  Sometimes, the workout gets skipped in favor of coffee and laughs with your friends.  Sometimes, you realize that certain things are more important than others.

Today, I also raised my voice too many times, nagged my husband, and hardly gave my dogs any attention.

I wore mismatched socks.  I ate half a pint of Ben and Jerrys.  I cursed under my breath. 

Because, yes, I’m not perfect.

And, there may be moments when the notes of imperfection seem to take over until our lives are filled with discord.  

It’s those moments of ugliness and character flaws that remind us that we are only human, that we need to slow down, get more sleep, and ask for forgiveness.  

Life is about falling down and then getting back up again.  It’s grace that allows me to get up again and again.  

Recently, I came across this quote from Emily Ley that rang true for me:  "I will hold myself to a standard of grace Not perfection."

I may have stumbled a few times throughout the week, but that’s okay because I’ve decided to swim in the pool of grace: unconditional love that keeps on giving and forgiving.  

If I think about life this way, in the grand scheme of things, I realize I’m doing better than I thought.

I know this when I hear my children laughing wildly, their eyes lighting up with joy.   

I know this when my children run into my arms after I’ve only been gone for an hour.  And, I know this when my husband looks at me lovingly, even on my worst days. 

When I notice my daughter’s latest drawing of four smiling people is captioned ‘I love my family,’ I know that I’m doing something right.  

And then there’s this:

“Grace is the love of God shown to the unlovely; the peace of God given to the restless; the unmerited favor of God.” ~ Justin Holcomb

By focusing on grace rather than perfection, I can deal with my shortcomings.

Because I’m not perfect, but God loves me anyways. Tweet this:

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

How to Break your Kids’ Bad Habits

Bad habits.
  They start small.  Then, they kind of creep up on you and intensify until you suddenly realize:


I don’t know how it started, but somewhere along the way, I started letting my kids have snacks while sitting on the couch and watching television. First, it was a piece of fruit. Then, it was a piece of fruit and a graham cracker...and so on. Then I noticed crumbs were getting in between the couch and, even worse, my kids were constantly wanting me to get them something else to eat while they were watching their television program. 

In the process, they were making a mess and driving me crazy.

So I decided it was time to break this bad habit.

Here’s what I did:

We don’t have cable. So, we have a set amount of time for my kids to watch a few shows on Netflix.

Before my kids started watching television, I would make sure they sat down at the table and ate a large snack. If it was near lunchtime, we would eat lunch. Then, I asked them if they were still hungry. I made sure to tell them that once we started the show, we wouldn’t be eating or drinking anymore...unless they wanted water of course.

And it worked.
Of course, kids are kids. I won't pretend my kids never ask for something to eat but the problem is much, much better). I had to make sure my husband was on the same page too.  

As a result, my house, at least in the TV viewing area, has fewer crumbs.

In addition, now we can watch a movie together, without being interrupted, or I can get some chores or writing done. 

Breaking bad habits isn’t always easy to do, but it is possible. Tweet this:

Here are a few more tips that have helped me break my kids’ bad habits:

Be Careful about Setting a Precedent

Kids have pretty good memories. One time, I went to the frozen yogurt shop after going to the store. Of course, from then on,  every time I went to that store, my daughter asked to get frozen yogurt, even if it was 8:00 in the morning. While I quickly taught my daughter that we wouldn’t be getting frozen yogurt every time we went to the store, I often think about this incident before acting. As parents, we have to be careful about setting a precedent. If we give our kids candy for rewards, we might be setting our children up to expect sweets for good behavior. Thus, be careful about setting precedents. After all, once we allow these bad habits to form, it is much harder to break them.

Be Consistent

When trying to break a bad habit, I realize have to be consistent.  I can’t let my kids eat snacks on the couch one day and then get mad when they want a snack the next day.

Be Clear

Setting up clear expectations is important. My kids now know that before they watch a show, they need to eat. Using tools such as chore charts and incentive (a.k.a sticker) charts have gone a long way for helping my kids clean up without me having to repeat myself over and over again.

Use Praise

If I’m trying to break a bad habit such as my kids leaving their clothes on the ground, I make sure to use a lot of positive praise when they pick up their clothes on their own.  

Ignore It and Redirect

As a child, I used to bite my nails. However, it was something I grew out of naturally. I have found the same thing applies with my kids. Some habits such as hair twirling or finger sucking may be bothersome. However, unless your child seems to be adversely affected (for example, if you think they might get a nail infection), the University of Michigan Health System, recommends “ignoring” it. After all, children often do these behaviors when they are “stressed, bored, tired, frustrated, unhappy, insecure, or falling asleep.” If you notice your child is bored, give them an activity to do or something to play with.

Don’t Expect Things to Change Overnight

Bad habits can take time to break. Don’t get frustrated if those horrible habits don’t go away immediately.

So, what are some of your kids’ worst habits?  How did you (or how do you plan to) break these bad habits?  Tell me in the comments!

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