What is on my Baby Registry

One of the things I was most excited about doing during pregnancy was putting together my baby registry. There are so many components! Here's what I picked!

One of the things I was most excited to do during my pregnancy was making my baby registries! I love browsing baby registries to find the perfect gift for my friends showers! So I couldn’t wait to get started on my own baby registry! I even started before we knew if we were having a boy or a girl, picking out gender neutral items.

I decided to make two registries (see why multiple registries are handy here): Target and Amazon. And between the two I was definitely able to find everything I needed for reasonable prices. Knowing I would not be able to furnish an entire nursery, would have limited storage space and would be sharing a room with baby the first year I chose space conscious, multi purpose items whenever I could.

What I am using as a Crib & Bassinet:

To save space in my room- I knew I wouldn’t have room for a full size crib I found The Graco Travel Lite Crib . It has stages so it can accommodate baby as she grows!

And then for a bassinet I found the Graco DreamGlider that is a two for one item! It is a swing and a bassinet! The back can be moved to an incline for babies that have acid reflux! In all my years as a nanny, no piece of baby gear ever saved me more than the swing, so I was definitely putting one of these on my registry.

Since the crib is an odd shape, I found these sheets and waterproof liners that will fit the mini pack n play! Mine and babies room will be grey and pink, with mint details and flowers. So these grey sheets work perfectly for her bed too! The Kushies Baby Bassinet Fitted Sheet fit and are so cute, plus being 100% cotton will keep her cool in the warm Hawaiian weather. Munchkin Waterproof Changing Pad will protect both the swinging bassinet and the pack n play in even of a blowout!

                                   

Car seat and Stroller:

I had read so many great things about the Chicco Keyfit car seat. So off to the baby store I went to try out how easy it was to lift the car seat, how heavy it was and more. And when I liked it I decided to check out the stroller that went with it! It folds easily and small, and is fairly light. So I chose the Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System to easily meet all my needs! The Keyfit car seat is the number one safety rated car seat across numerous panels including Consumer Report! A baby seat is namely about safety and so I feel confident in choosing this one! If you need more convincing just check out some of the reviews on Amazon!

Play Gym & Toys:

Because I knew I wasn’t going to have a full nursery and I would be saving money from not having to buy a crib, a glider, changing table due to lack of space I thought I might be able to splurge a little bit in some other areas! Like the play gym I picked out. It is the Infantino Grow-with-Me Playtime Teepee. Just look at how cute it is!

I think she will love it, and as she gets bigger we can remove the mobile and she can have a fun play space!

Baby Bath:

Originally I wanted to get a sink bath support since the house is small, and doesn’t have a lot of storage space. Normally those are smaller and take up less space and I figured this would be our best bet. But, the kitchen has no counter space and the bathroom sink has no vanity. So we decided that a smaller tub I can put in the big tub will be the best bet. Then I save money by only having to buy one baby bath. Because I have seen it in action, used it, and its collapsible I picked the Stokke Flexi Bath with Newborn Support.

And then to save my knees and elbows I found these two products! I love the what theme going on with baby bath supplies. For my knees I am getting the Milliard Bath Kneeler Cushion Mat and for an elbow rest, Skip Hop Moby Bath Elbow Saver. I think these will make bath time easier on me!

Baby Carriers:

I was a nanny and a baby sitter for nearly 12 years at this point in my life! So I have tried a lot of baby carriers out. And my favorite is the Baby Tula Ergonomic Baby Carrier! It is so comfortable to wear, wasn’t hard on my back and is cute too! Since you have to purchase an infant insert to support them as newborns I wanted a wrap style a carrier instead for the early weeks. I decided to try the Baby K’tan Original Baby Carrier. I wasn’t excited about the moby wrap and trying to figure out how to wrap it on my own. But the baby K’Tan is based on your t-shirt size so it is already more fitted to my size.

A baby carrier was important to have because my hubby won’t be home during her first year. I can use the carrier so I can get chores around the house done, like laundry.

Nursing Essentials:

I plan to breastfeed our little one when she arrives and so being prepared to nurse was important to me! My favorite nursing bras are the Gilligan and O’Malley brand from Target! They are affordable and so comfortable! I may never go back to wearing an underwire bra again!!

But I wanted to make sure I was prepared as possible so I also went for a Boppy Nursing Pillow on recommendations from family! I know babies make a lot of mess- from leaking diapers to blowouts and spit up, so I wanted to protect the boppy so I could save it for future babies with a Boppy Water Resistant Protective Cover and a washable cover in a fun color, Boppy Pillow Slipcover Trellis Turquoise.

Beside a nursing pillow I wanted to be prepared with breast pads. I got some Medela Washable Bra Pads, and UpSpring All Natural Nipple Balm so that I don’t have to remember to wipe it off before each feeding. I also have already had some tenderness, so I’m worried about the level of sensitivity and tenderness at the beginning. These heating pearls by Lansinoh TheraPearls should provide relief.

Diaper Bag:

The diaper bag is another item I picked out because I had used it while babysitting. It is cute enough to use as your every day bag. Plus its roomy with lots of pockets. The Skip Hop Baby Duo Diaper Bag w/ Mat can double as my purse, meaning I only have to carry one bag. As a bonus it has a changing mat for public bathrooms. And can easily hang on the back handles of the stroller so I won’t have to carry it while pushing her around!

So there you have it! All the basics on my baby registry! I am so excited to be setting up the nursery and getting to start using all these baby products soon! Be on the look out for reviews of them as I get to use them more!

 

What were your favorite registry items?

One of the things I was most excited about doing during pregnancy was putting together my baby registry. There are so many components! Here's what I picked!

How Nesting is Preparing me For Breastfeeding

One area my nesting has centered around is breastfeeding preparation. I wanted to share some of the ways I am preparing to breastfeed with all of you!

A few weeks ago I wrote about my nesting instincts and all the ways I was working on getting ready for our Little Miss before we made it to Hawaii and I could start getting her nursery/my room all set up! Now that I have just two short months left till we meet her, I am nesting in a whole new way! One of the biggest things I am preparing for her arrival is preparing to breastfeed!

I have heard stories that run the gamut.  From being super easy- latching for baby is easy and happens quickly, milk supply comes in easy and in full force. All the way to struggling with latch and supply issues. I know there is no real way to prepare for breastfeeding. So much is dependent on your baby, you just have no idea what will happen. I am trying to educate myself as much as possible. And have as many tools at my disposal as I can to begin with. This includes a determination to breastfeed, and tools like a nursing pillow, nipple balm, and lactation teas and treats.

I want to share a little bit about how I am preparing to be able to breastfeed.

I set up my Registries to Promote Breastfeeding Success.

From the beginning I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby if we are able to do so! Of course, if she is having health issues and we struggle then I am totally open to formula or exclusively pump. But it is my goal to breastfeed for the first year. So, when I started setting up my registry I added breastfeeding essentials to my registry.  I registered for a boppy pillow, nnipple balm, nursing cover, nursing pads- disposable and washable, and a rocker to comfortably nurse in. Another essential piece of baby gear that is often recommended to promote breastfeeding is a baby carrier. I also registered from lactation tea and goodies- cookies and granola bars that had good recommendations.

These are not items that many people purchase as shower gifts. However, having them on the registry will help you feel prepared; just like purchasing bottles and formula will help you feel prepared to feed your baby that way.

Another essential tool for breastfeeding is a good nursing bra and nursing tanks. I have purchased a couple of nursing bras from Target and some tanks from Motherhood Maternity; but there are so many options out there.

I’m sure all you mamas-to-be out there know how daunting it can be to try and pick out a nursing bra before you’ve started your breastfeeding journey, so I wanted to share a new option that’s on the market. ThirdLove recently released their nursing bra collection and it looks as cute and stylish as it is functional! Their nursing bras come in wired and wireless versions so you can find something that works for you no matter your preference. It’s nice to be able to stock up on both styles so that once baby comes you can test out which works best for you. Don’t forget that your size is probably going to fluctuate once you’re nursing, so have a variety of sizes on hand to avoid squeezing into a bra that’s suddenly way too small!

I spend time Researching

As a blogger, one of the first places I turned to for information (other than friends and family) was the internet and other bloggers. Reading firsthand accounts about what made their breastfeeding journey a success or failure really helped me nail down what I needed to do to start my journey out on the right foot. So I went and bought the recommended books other bloggers shared. I added the products they wished they had to my registry to keep track of the best tools I needed to succeed.

One of the most popular books was the ­The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding that is put out by the La Leche League. It is a comprehensive manual that includes trouble shooting for when issues arise. I also plan to register and for a breastfeeding class at the local hospital. They talk about latch, storing pumped milk, and other breastfeeding essentials.

 

I talked to Friends and Family

As a part of my research I reached out to friends and family members that have breastfed their babies. They told me about their favorite nursing bras, how they kept track of feeding schedules. They told me which were their favorite nipple creams from natural coconut oil based products to lanolin. What I learned was that what works for one might not work for everyone. But, there are so many options out there that everyone can find something that works for them.

Another friend who is big into natural wellness suggested the use of essential oils. Fennel and Clary Sage are both great essential oils for helping establish your supply. I plan to ask about this at the breastfeeding class.

I Choose a Baby-Friendly Hospital

OK, now I know being on military insurance that I didn’t have a great deal of choice in where I would deliver my baby. But there are a lot of things that Tripler Army Medical Center does to promote breastfeeding success. If there are no required medical interventions necessary from mom or baby then skin to skin is immediate. I will immediately be handed baby to hold and try to nurse her.

After I am moved to the mother-baby recovery unit, then baby remains in the room with me. This promotes nursing success because baby is right there. I won’t have to wait for the nurses to bring her to me to nurse her. This will help me identify her feeding cues even early on. Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand schedule, and so the more I nurse the more supply I will make.

Furthermore, while I am in the recovery unit, I will have access to a lactation consultant. She will be able to help me assess baby’s latch and guide me on nursing positions that will work for us and other helpful tips.

I also plan to take my lactation teas and cookies & granola bars to the hospital with me so that I can begin using them right away. I have heard this is the best way to establish a good supply.

Like preparing for anything as a new mom there is only so much preparation I can do.

Everything will depend on how baby is when she arrives, but I am a planner. Since breastfeeding is important to me I am preparing the best I can. As a SAHM I don’t have to worry about the stresses working moms have when it comes to breastfeeding. I also have a supportive community behind me. My hubby is supportive (even from afar!). My parents who will be primary supports are also supportive. They purchased the rocker for their living room for me to nurse in.  Preparation is key and I can’t wait for her arrival so I can start my breastfeeding journey!

One area my nesting has centered around is breastfeeding preparation. I wanted to share some of the ways I am preparing to breastfeed with all of you!

Baby Proofing Your Marriage

Becoming a parent is a huge shift in your marriage! But it shouldn't detract from the intimacy between you and your spouse!

We’ve all heard it said that your marriage is more important after you have children, not less. Yet, there has been a huge shift in parenting over the last several years in which we are always putting our children first.

The reason our marriages matter more after children is because our marriage is a model of what healthy relationships look like. And parenting children is so much easier when you are a team. And being a co-parenting team is much easier when you have a solid spousal relationship. Always remember that before you were a mom and dad, you were a husband and wife.

While I was working in the Chaplain’s office at Ft. Benning I read And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives by John Gottman. I liked it so much that it’s a book I highly recommend to all parents and parents to be (I even list it on my resource page!)

I value Gottman’s insights on marriage and so I really took some of his principles to heart in preparation for when we had our own kids. And it sure is coming in handy now! Gottman has Six Steps for Maintaining Romance After Children. Who doesn’t want to keep that spark alive? Nobody goes into having children intending to neglect their marriage. But during the new born phase so much of a new parents’ life begins to revolve around the new baby. The new baby’s eating schedule, sleeping schedule. And suddenly the intimacy and closeness between husband and wife begins to decrease. It just happens.

Maintaining the same level of romance and intimacy takes a lot of work. Here are just a few of the steps he recommends for maintaining Intimacy and Romance in your marriage:

  • Soften how you bring up a problem
  • The importance of repair
  • Accepting influence
  • Savoring your friendship
  • Giving Grace

Giving Grace

It is not about avoiding problems that may come up as new parents, but finding positive strategies to manage the problems as they occur. Tensions can begin to run high in the first few months home with a new baby. Neither parent is particularly experienced or confident in their parenting abilities. This insecurity can make emotions run high. New moms have a surge of hormones to top it all off making them even more prone to being emotional. Lack of sleep also contributes to the rise in tensions in the home. Nobody can function at their best when they are being awoken every two to four hours.

So small events may turn into larger disruptions than might be normal. When this happens remember to give yourself grace. And to give your partner grace.

Giving your partner grace can be more difficult for new moms. New moms may not see how the transition for their partner is as difficult for dad as it is for mom. New moms, especially those who nurse are now the primary source of survival for a new born and are often still struggling with postpartum symptoms. But both new Mom and Dad need grace during the transition into parenthood. Grace can help promote intimacy in your marriage because it will prevent harboring resentment. Resentment prevents intimacy because it allows there to be separation within the marriage. Resentment can build up walls. Walls up = no intimacy.

Importance of Repair

Because tensions run high during the transition from a two person family to a three person family, repair attempts are so important. Why? Because we may often hurt our spouse’s feelings. Making and accepting repair attempts is more telling of relationship satisfaction than how many arguments a couple has. But it is not enough for one person to constantly be making repair attempts; the other must accept them. By accepting the repair attempt you are coming back together and creating more intimacy. When you reject your partner’s repair attempt you are putting up a wall between you. This prevents intimacy from growing in your marriage.

Savoring Your Friendship

Remember what brought ya’ll together as a couple to begin with. Most likely it has something to do with a friendship that was cultivated. During the postpartum period sexual intimacy is off the table. So finding old ways to create intimacy is important. At the beginning of your relationship, most likely sex was no the element of your relationship that created intimacy. Most often intimacy is created through friendship which leads to a more sexually intimate relationship. Get back to basics and by spending time together you can help maintain levels of intimacy in your relationship. While you may not be able to find time to get away and spend one on one time with your spouse, spending time together as a new family can help you maintain your friendship. It is a way to create new memories and experiences together.

This is just a way to start maintaining intimacy in your relationship after the newest addition has arrived. If you are looking for more information check out Gottman’s book And Baby Makes Three. He has such relevant information for new parents!

Becoming a parent is a huge shift in your marriage! But it shouldn't detract from the intimacy between you and your spouse!

What to do when you Can’t Nest

One classic phenomenon in pregnancy is the desire to clean and prepare the house for baby, but what if you are pregnant and aren't where baby will make his or her appearance? Here are some ways to fulfill the need to nest when you can't do it physically.

I have always been super excited to decorate my baby’s nursery long before we had our first positive pregnancy test, to be honest, well before we even decided to start trying for a baby! I had a secret Pinterest board full of baby nursery ideas for both boys and girls! Of course soon after I found out I was pregnant I realized I wouldn’t be decorating any nursery! To say I was a little disappointed might be an understatement, but I quickly moved past it, and started dreaming about ways I could make a wonderful shared space for baby and I at my parents’ house! But dream is all I can do until I am more than seven months pregnant and starting my third trimester!

Not all pregnant women experience the phenomenon of nesting, but it is the intense feeling of wanting to clean and prepare your home for baby’s arrival. And all women experience at different points in the pregnancy. But I am a prepare-er, so I feel like I have felt this instinct since fairly early in the pregnancy, but without being able to really do much to prepare for her arrival since I had two moves to get through between when I found out I was pregnant and when our little Miss will finally make her arrival! This hit especially hard after the baby showers! I had all this cute baby stuff and all I could do was put it in boxes and suitcases as I prepared to fly to Hawaii.

For Military wives we may not always get the opportunity to nest in the traditional sense, maybe our nesting instincts get sublimated into a pack out and move out cleaning. Maybe we know we will be moving within a couple months of baby’s arrival and so we don’t want to put so much energy into making a Pinterest worthy nursery! Maybe we are living in a hotel waiting for housing at a new duty station when our next bundle of joy arrives. Whatever the case is, we can find ways to direct that energy and make the best out of it!

While I know the urge to nest typically hits the hardest towards the end of the pregnancy, it still has been challenging to be able to do so little to prepare for baby early. So here are some things I am doing to help ease my anxiety before I have a physical place to prepare:

  1. Ordering bigger pieces of gear and having them sent to my parents’ house. By having some of the bigger items already waiting for me it will be easier to set up the room when I get there with minimal rearranging once my bed is purchased (better believe that is the first stop we are making on the way back from the airport!). Since her bassinet and crib (A Graco dream glider bassinet and swing in one; and Graco travel lite crib with stages pack n play) are already at the house I can sleep easier knowing that should she make an early arrival she will have a place to stay.
  2. Lots of online research. I spent so much time researching the best baby items for small spaces. I have known since the beginning of the pregnancy that me and baby would share the one extra bedroom at my parents’ house for just about her whole first year! So, finding products that served multiple purposes, were small/portable and most space effective were so important to me. Thank goodness for Google and Pinterest. It made it so much easier to decide exactly which products I needed. Also, it was helpful to feel like I was picking out strollers and car seats without having to purchase and then transport large items. I now know exactly what I want and can order it as soon as I get there.
  3. Thankfully I am going to be living with my mom and dad, so I can send them hunting for items on island to get for me, so they will be ready for me when I get there. I can go to my local Target here look at it all and then send my mom the link so she can find it at her local Target! She can do that with baby items too! I have sent her to her Target with my baby registry so she can tell me which items are more expensive at her local target so that I can get those before I get there or order online instead of paying for the island mark-up!
  4. And finally, spend countless hours envisioning the space. Since my parents have been there for the last 8 or so years I have spent a great deal of time at their house for vacations even though I have never lived there. So making layouts of the room in my head has been helpful so when I get there, if I am too big to move it all around myself I can direct my dad with how I want everything to be!

So while I may not be able to nest in a traditional sense, I have found ways I can prepare for baby and reduce my anxiety so I don’t feel pressured to have everything done in the first few days upon arrival!

What are some of the non-traditional ways you have nested in preparation for your new addition?

One classic phenomenon in pregnancy is the desire to clean and prepare the house for baby, but what if you are pregnant and aren't where baby will make his or her appearance? Here are some ways to fulfill the need to nest when you can't do it physically.

Pregnancy Update: 2nd Trimester

When I shared our pregnancy announcement I included a pretty inclusive recap of my first trimester including the hardships of morning sickness and emotional sensitivity that I can thank my lovely hormones for. So now that I am through with my 2nd trimester I thought I would share another pregnancy update including our Gender Reveal!

So the start of my 2nd trimester marked our move from Fort Benning. Funnily enough during this pregnancy I will be in a different state for each trimester. So being home in South Carolina has been fun for this trimester because thankfully I am feeling so much better, no more morning sickness and nausea! There was a light at the end of the tunnel!! And pregnancy is really starting to be more like how I imagined it to be, although I didn’t look anything close to pregnant till I really hit 6 months! Now that bump is poppin’! It has been fun to be with family and friends when I am actually feeling good about being pregnant and getting to celebrate this time and prepare for baby with those who will love this baby along side of me. However, everyone told me my energy would be back in the 2nd trimester, and that simply hasn’t happened yet! I still need a nap during the day if I want to be awake past 9pm! But hey, I will take that over nauseated any day!

One of my favorite parts of the 2nd trimester was getting to find out the gender of our little bundle of joy. So Are ya’ll ready to find out???

I am so excited to say we will be having a little baby girl!! Everyone was right except my hubby- he thought it was a boy! I personally had no inkling one way or the other, although in my dreams (when I wasn’t dreaming it was twins) it was always a little girl! Everyone said they saw me with a little princess, and you know what, she isn’t even here yet and she is already a little diva. When I leave for Hawaii next month, she will have her own suit case of clothes she already has so many! (I just can’t help myself at TJ Maxx and the Consignment stores sometimes- they are just so cute! And so affordable!!).

She is a super active little baby! She kicks and flips and elbows me all day long until her daddy comes home from work (he still hasn’t felt her move because of this) and then starts up again once he is asleep! She has kicked me so hard several times I have actually seen my belly jump! I love feeling her move around in there letting me know she is ok! I just wish she would cooperate with me so her daddy could feel before he leaves. But with us as her parents, I am truly not surprised by her intense stubbornness.

She confirmed her stubbornness during the anatomy ultrasound. When the technician was trying to get some of the brain and head measurements, she put her hands over her head to block the camera! She was being too funny!! It took a while but eventually everything turned out looking perfect! We have a precious healthy baby!

Putting together baby registries has been so much fun also! I chose to do Target & Amazon! Both had really fun welcome gifts! It was so much fun to pick out all the things for baby! And imagining how they are going to be used!

I can’t wait to tell her how loved she was before she even made her appearance! Since this was the only trimester I would be near my husband’s family, my mom’s extended family and my friends, there were two showers thrown for her! My mom decided to have a gift card shower during our family reunion with her side of the family! Knowing I still had one move ahead of me before Little Miss arrived she wanted to make my life easier when traveling! She had some of the cutest games: the price is right! & Yummiest cupcakes!

Also while I was with my mom she took me shopping for some maternity clothes. And even though I didn’t have a very visible bump till month 6, the stretchy waist band of the shorts was so much more comfortable than my previous shorts! I found some really cute options!

And then my Sister in Law through another great shower with friends and my husband’s family! We had a great time, and I was so impressed with her gift wrapping skills! She had wrapped a whole clothes line of baby clothes ranging from new born to 24 months for us!! It was so cute! And I told her even the clothes pins would come in handy since my parents don’t have a dryer and they still line dry all their laundry!!

(that is my sister in law wearing the baby!)

So all in all the 2nd trimester has been really great so far! But it has not been without its difficulties either. Now that my appetite is back with a vengeance we don’t have a kitchen to make any food, living in a hotel is kind of the worst sometimes. And so, I can’t just make whatever food I am craving and fresh foods can be hard to come by!

Another drawback of the hotel room is there is really nowhere else to sit in the room other than the bed, which turns out is killer on your back to just sit in bed all day! So I have taken to doing all my work at Starbucks because at least I can sit in a chair for a few hours a day! Driving can also be hard on my back. One way I am alleviating some of this pain is through prenatal massages!

Heartburn is also a killer now. Being in the hotel means limited fridge space, and I get tired of water quickly so I have had the crystal light lemonade packets in our room, which have always gone down well before, but now I am finding that lemonade is giving me heart burn ☹ Tums have come to my rescue many many times!

Finally, not being able to nest has been hard, especially after all the baby showers and all the cute baby things I have! But only a few more weeks till I am in my final location before the birth! (+ more on this later!)

As my 2nd trimester comes to a close I am so excited about the final trimester, getting the baby’s room (also known as my room) settled at my parent’s house and getting into a good routine before the baby comes. Hopefully building a community of friends in Hawaii so that when the baby gets here I will be able to get out of the house. What a crazy journey it’s been so far!

Check out my latest BumpDate! The end of my 2nd trimester! It's a ....!

How to Save on Baby Necessities

Babies sure do cost a lot, but don't worry there are plenty of ways to save on necessary baby gear!

If you spend any time with babies you quickly realize that they require a LOT of stuff. And much of it isn’t cheap! And besides the necessities like car seat, stroller, crib, clothes, diapers, blankets and more. There are so many cute and wonderful extras that many new mommies (myself DEFINITELY included) feel like are needs. I have become addicted to looking through all the adorable baby items on Etsy, Target, Babies R Us, and Buy Buy Baby! Its how I pass my time along with browsing through Pinterest while I am stuck in a hotel room day after day.

But with all the cute baby items I am finding myself trying to sort through everything and put them in categories: “the must haves,” and the it “would be nice to haves.” And “just plain old wants that aren’t necessary”. Unfortunately, it seems like all the adorably cute items seem to fall into the “it would be nice to have” category, or just a more basic version that is less expensive would serve the same purpose. So how can you make sure you have everything you need for baby, and stull get to indulge your mommy fantasies of a perfect baby set up?

Since we are preparing for this baby on a single income, budgeting and finding deals have been a priority for my hubby and me. There are several resources I have utilized extensively to help get everything we Need for little Miss without breaking the bank! Here is everything I have done to help prepare for our new little girl on a budget so that I can still indulge in some of the frilly “un-necessary” items!

    • Consignment shops– I know I am not the only one who has a problem not buying baby clothes. Like most moms, aunts, grandmas, and friends of new mommies, baby clothes are just so irresistible! But the can also add up quickly! So hitting the consignment shops can be a great way to get cute baby clothes without breaking the bank! Also shop clearance racks at the end of the seasons. I am lucky enough to only have to buy one season of baby clothes for the first year of her life, so as the fall clothes begin to hit the racks, I am scouring the summer clearance items! Not only can you get clothes at a discount at consignment shops, they also have strollers, high chairs, baby bath tubs, and toys for baby at discounted prices. Just wash and disinfect and you’re ready to go!
    • Cartwheel by Target– Target is one of my happy places! In high school I lived within walking distance of a target and so I spent many Saturdays or Friday evenings walking through Target with my mom. And much to my husband’s dismay, long pointless walks through Target are still a favorite pass time (he often chooses not to accompany me anymore!). But what better way to stock up on diapers, wipes, and other baby essentials than checking out the discounts and coupons that are available through this wonderful app. If you are going to be buying these items anyway, might as well look for all the discounts you can! In the last week I found discounts on- bath items, swaddles, diapers, wipes, bottle accessories, and so much more!
    • While on the subject of Target, take advantage of the gift card deals! I love finding deals at Target when I buy so many of certain item I get a gift card. I have gotten gift cards ranging from $5 to $20. You can get them on items all over the store. Most of mine have come from stocking up on diapers/wipes, or hygiene items like shampoos and such. They will come in handy when completing my registry or last minute run on diapers once the baby gets here.
    • Ibotta App- Ibotta app offers rebates on items you typically purchase anyways. You can find rebates when shopping at stores like Walmart, Publix, CVS, Target, Amazon, Groupon, and many many more. Just by scanning the items and my receipt I can earn money back on purchases. It can come in handy as often there are rebates on baby items. If you are interested in signing up for a free Ibotta Account click here.
    • Another rebate App or Site, Ebates, is another great money saving tool! If you’re interested in signed up for a free Ebates Account click here.
    • Register (and Register at multiple places)– Register for baby items you want, even if its your 2nd, 3rd, 4th baby. Many places offer a completion discount for items not purchased off your registry. SO even if you are not planning on having a baby shower, taking the time to register. Also, places like Target  and Amazon offer welcome gifts when you set up a registry. These welcome gifts often include samples, coupons, and full size products- You never know what you might get! Currently Amazon is running a promotion!  If you Register with them you can earn rewards for diapers and wipes (What new parents don’t need those!!)

Click here to learn more ~ Baby Registry – $100 credit towards diapers and wipes

  • Take advantage of sales– Once you register you know what products you will specifically be looking for. Then take advantage when they go on sale, buying them in piecemeal. For example, the car seat we picked out was on sale during Amazon Prime Day recently. Baby Tula had Christmas in July sale, I got my carrier for $75, rather than $150. Or look for manufacturer sales. Recently Graco has had 20% off their products, so I bought the pack n play during that sale. By keeping your eyes peeled you can take advantage of periodic sales. And it certainly is easier on your budget to buy one item at a time.

 

These are my top money saving tips for any mom who is looking to save money on the baby necessities. By shopping sales, using coupons, and being strategic with my purchases I have money left in my budget. I can get  items from the “it would be nice to have” category like cute bibs.

Babies sure do cost a lot, but don't worry there are plenty of ways to save on necessary baby gear!

How did you decide when to tell kids about Deployment?

There are two lines of thoughts when it comes to telling children about an upcoming deployment: (1) immediately, as soon as you find out so they have a long time to prepare; or (2) wait until just a couple weeks out to reduce concern and worry in the children?

Neither one of these way are the right or wrong. Each family is different and each family is different and we all  have to do what is right for our own family. But this can be difficult, what if our friends disagree and let it be known publicly?

Here are some Pro’s & Con’s of each:

As with many things the age and development of the children plays a huge role when deciding how and when to tell children that their parent is deploying. Toddlers might not understand and so it is difficult to tell them too far in advance, because they just don’t have the developmental ability to comprehend and remember that.

School aged kids and teenagers (especially those who have been through a deployment before) will be able to notice the signs of beginning of the pre-deployment cycle. Things such as frequent training, gear vomit, and tense/anxious parents are all warning signs. Because they will be able to sense that something is happening, they will not appreciate being deceived.

You also have to take into account that units typically deploy together. Chances are someone else knows they are leaving soon and you don’t want someone else to spill the beans. Especially because others might tell their children right away and as we all know children have no filters!

So how have you done it? If your spouse has never deployed how do you think you would handle it? Let me know it the comments, and join the debate!

Encouraging Positive Behaviors in Your Children: Using Behavior Charts Effectively

Behavior charts are one of the most effective methods of encouraging positive behavior in our childrens

Do you struggle to encourage good behaviors in your kid? Do they do what you ask them to do?

It can be difficult to encourage and reinforce good behavior because so often we are employing the wrong strategy! We are more likely to discipline negative behaviors in our children then we are to encourage and reinforce the positive behaviors.

SO how do you encourage those positive behaviors you might ask? By reinforcing them! A great way to do this is with Behavior Charts, you know like the ones they have in the classrooms! Every kid wants to be on “green” or whatever the top category is, and often feels ashamed when they fall below. But time and time again I have clients come back to me telling me the behavior charts just aren’t working for them.

The trick to behavior charts is rewarding good behavior, and rewarding it often! Behavior charts are not used to punish bad behavior. The more we reward positive behaviors, the more they will engage in desired behaviors. As much as we might think otherwise, our kids want to please us! They want out praise! And so, when they get our praise and attention for completing good behaviors they will continue to do so!

This is not to say we shouldn’t punish our children, but that is another post for another time!

Children are extremely visual operators. As much as we can praise them verbally, hug and kiss then when they listen, having a visual, tangible reward can be helpful. We will have an even greater impact when our verbal praise is paired with a concrete tangible reward. That is exactly what a behavior chart does.

But why do so many people come back saying it isn’t effective? Because sometimes we are over ambitious with the number of behaviors we start with. Or we are inconsistent with rewarding the good behaviors. So here it is:

My Simple Instructions to Rewarding Good Behavior Using Behavior Charts
  • Use separate charts for each child
  • Only start out with 3-5 behaviors
  • Consistently give them praise and marks when the complete or preform the behaviors listed
  • Agree when starting: ___ # of checks/stickers = 1 reward (i.e. ice cream, a dollar store toy, a special outing, 15 minutes extended bedtime)
  • When they master those behaviors, add in more behaviors slowly
  • All behaviors stated positively
    • Example: Do ________. Instead of Don’t do ___________.
  • Do not remove checks for bad behavior!

 

I have created a behavior chart that you can download here. Print one for each child. Then sit down with your kids and decide on what 3 to 5 behaviors you want to address first! Remember these are things you want your child TO DO, like pick up their toys, eat dinner, stay in bed at night. Then both you and your child should sign it, it is a contract. They are agreeing to do the behaviors, you are agreeing to reward them for doing so. Each time they do one of the behaviors listed, praise them verbally and give them a check mark!

Depending on the age of your children I recommend between 10-15 check marks equal a physically reward. You want them to be able to earn the tangible reward every week to two weeks. They younger they are the more frequent the tangible rewards should be.

The key to behavior charts are: consistency, reinforcement not punishment, and follow through. When we get lazy and stop praising our children and giving them check marks, we will most likely see a decline in the good behaviors we desire. Eventually these behaviors will become habits, but we should always keep a sharp eye out to praise our kids. Have you ever heard of the movement catch them doing good? This was developed to encourage parents to keep an eye out for the good behaviors kids do.

Military parents, I know how hard it is to keep good behavior patterns going through times transitions. Between deployments, PCSs and mom/dad coming and going, friends PCSing can all disrupt our children’s behavior patterns! If you looking for great ways to help lead your children through these transitions and maintain good behavior hop over to my Military Parenting Page and check out my program coming soon: Parenting Coaching Designed specifically for Military Parents to address the unique concerns that we face with our children. Take a moment and sign up for updates and receive a FREE GIFT: An Easy How to Guide for Promoting Positive Behavior in our children to help go with your Behavior Chart.



Have you tried behavior charts to encourage positive behavior in your kids? Did it work? Let me know in the comments below!

Behavior Charts are an effective method for reinforcing and rewarding the positive behaviors we want to see more of in our children. Having trouble using them? Here is my simple explanation for behavior charts used effectively!

Parenting Toddlers: More than the Terrible Twos

Parenting toddlers can be wonderful and infuriating all at the same time! Here are some ways to help keep the toddler years more fun than stressful!

I had a client come to me once, and they told me, “Whoever labeled it as the terrible twos, clearly never had a three year old! My toddlers has it out for me!”

The toddler years can be some of the sweetest, most fun, and hilarious times of your child’s life. But they can also be one of the most frustrating and exhausting stages of parenting. After all we have all read those hysterical stories of why toddlers are crying. My niece was because she wasn’t allowed to eat dog food! With their new found vocabulary and growing sense of independence, the most commonly heard word out of their mouths (and their mother’s) is “no!” Sometimes that “no” can be cute ad you can’t help but giggle and grin as he says it. And yet other times it is downright infuriating, using every last ounce of patience to stay calm.

As trying as it is I promise you, your toddler is not out to get you! They are just trying to assert their own space in the family. Up until now the baby was so connected to you, she didn’t need or occupy her own space. As she grows and turns into a toddler she starts to need more and more of her own space. If she does not get it, she will begin to demand it. As parents our goal should be to raise children to be happy and healthy individuals who are productive in society. We want our children to be kind and strong people who can take care of themselves. So if that is our goal we can’t stifle their independence right from the beginning.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for giving into every tantrum or toddler whim that blows their way. Part of raising strong independent people comes from knowing the boundaries and understanding that every decision has a consequence for good or bad. But we do have to find ways in our daily lives to allow our children to begin making their own decisions and supporting them in that, even our tyrant toddlers. Here are some ways we can help our toddlers gain some control over their surroundings.

The Never Ending Questions

Toddlers will question you about everything and anything they can name – what they wear, eat, do, see, hear, anything. They are trying to control their surroundings by gaining more knowledge. While the endless questions get old fast, by answering them we are giving them more and more pieces to the puzzle they are constructing in their heads. When they don’t know something and you won’t answer they get incredibly frustrated and begin to tantrum. This is not manipulation so much as lacking the ability to articulate clearly what they want or need. So answer their questions the best you can, they don’t know any better.

Channel their desires to make Decisions

            One way to help them gain more control is to allow them to make their own decisions. This can be from what they play with to what they eat. I am going to talk mostly about dressing themselves and meal times because those are the biggest struggle for parents to relinquish the control while still remaining in authority. I say this because, unless they are playing with something harmful we don’t particularly care, and it is easy to allow them to make that decision.

            Dressing themselves.

Being allowed to dress yourself is a lot of freedom. As parents we can control what they are allowed to choose from by only putting out things you want them to wear. This means putting up or away all seasonal wear so that everything is weather appropriate. As much as we might hate it, if they choose to wear three different patterns, it isn’t going to hurt them. They can be proud that they made a decision about something that you can support.

         Meal times.

Meal times are another area of struggle for many families. One way to let your toddler have control over meal times is by giving them several options and allowing them to eat freely from their plate however they choose to do so. Now please hear what I am saying, do not make your child 3 different meals, just present them with a few options you already have prepared. If they choose not to eat, that is their choice. But the consequence of that choice is not eating, so they don’t get to go directly to the pantry and demand fruit chews.

Work with your Child

            Working with your children instead of against them will make everyone’s life easier. Giving your child your attention prevents them from having to demand it from you in negative ways (i.e. tantrums). While they are growing in their independence, parents are their safe harbor. They want you to be right there with them every step of the way. This means answering their questions, playing with them, instead of watching them play. Remember in just a few short years they will want nothing to do with you. So soak it up now!

Set them up for Success

As you work with your children give them every opportunity to success and make you proud. That means catering your schedule to theirs. Don’t go out during nap times or right before nap time. And be prepared for the expected and unexpected when you leave. If you set them up for success from the beginning there will be fewer tantrums along the way. Because as much as they want control, they still rely on you to help them.

So see, toddlers don’t set out to make our lives more chaotic. They just want your love and attention as they begin fully exploring their world and claiming their independence and place in the family. As parents we begin to learn the art of slowly giving more and more freedom along with more responsibility as we pull back control a little at a time. Parents are resistant to this process because somewhere deep inside they know it means they are losing their baby. So they hold on tighter. If we learn to allow our toddlers to make their own decisions, we will be surprised by how much happier they can be. Find the areas you can give them some freedom and praise them when they succeed. And then you will be well on your way to raising those happy, healthy, independent adults you dream of.

Military parents, I know how hard it is to keep good behavior patterns going through times transitions. Between deployments, PCSs and mom/dad coming and going, friends PCSing can all disrupt our children’s behavior patterns! Age affects how children react to all of these events, as development plays a huge role in behavior and ability to process change.

If you looking for great ways to help lead your children through these transitions and maintain good behavior hop over to my Military Parenting Page and check out my program coming soon: Parenting Coaching Designed specifically for Military Parents to address the unique concerns that we face with our children. Take a moment and sign up for updates and receive a FREE GIFT: An Easy How to Guide for Promoting Positive Behavior in our children to help go with your Behavior Chart.



What areas do you let your toddler have more control?

Toddler years can be wonderful and infuriating all at the same time! But here are some simple ways to help make them more wonderful than stressful

10 Ways to Help Anxious Children Calm Down

10 ways to reduce anxiety in kids pinnable image

As much as we adults get stressed out, so do our children! And military life provides lots of opportunities to create anxiety in our children- deployments, field time, training, frequent moves, changing schools, and constant fluctuation of friends. Or things such as adding new children to the family that many families face. As their parents, teachers, babysitters, or other family members we need to be prepared to help them calm down and relax when they are stressed and anxious.

Here are my top 10 tips for helping calm down when they are feeling stressed and anxious!

 

  • Blow Bubbles! Having a little kid sit there and just take deep breaths in and out can be hard, as most parents know! But blowing bubbles is so fun and cane help the child visualize the deep breaths by watching the bubbles.

  • We’ve all seen the pretty calm down jars like these ones! Watching the glitter move through the jar can still the child, which can have a calming effect, especially if the child is visually oriented in other tasks, such as learning.
  • Give them a big hug! Wrap your baby up and hold them tight. Knowing they are secure and safe in your arms can relieve a lot of anxiety for little ones.
  • Pop some bubble wrap. This is great for children who are kinesthetically oriented. Having something active, constructive, and nondestructive can help relieve anxiety. Doing something with your hands can help swap the mind from the emotionally over-charged center of the brain to the calmer logical part.
  • Coloring. We have all seen that adult coloring books are all the rage right now for decreasing anxiety, well if it works for us then it works for the little ones too! Sit down with them and spend some time coloring together. Maybe put some soothing music on in the background for an extra effect.
  • Put on their favorite Disney Jam and sing it out with them! Singing out loud has been shown to release endorphins, which lifts the mood! So have a dance party while you’re at it and shake those worries away!
  • Put the kiddos in a nice warm bubble bath and have them splash and play their worries away! What momma isn’t relaxed by a nice warm lavender vanilla bubble bath! This means what works for us, typically works for them. If you have more than one, and bath time is normally full of conflict, maybe bathe them one at a time tonight!
  • Got play-dough in the craft room? Give some to your kid and let them squish it between their fingers, roll it around. Playing with something in their hands can be a grounding effect. For people who suffer from panic or severe anxiety one of the most suggested ways to ground oneself is find things you can see, smell, touch, hear, taste. Squishy play-dough is something to feel.
  • Get some exercise in! Go for a bike ride, play tag, jump rope, just get outside and run around. Exercise in any form can release endorphins to have a calming effect.
  • If you notice that your kid still suffers from anxiety and have tried a variety of calming methods perhaps it is time to look into counseling. One of the main modes of therapy for kids is play therapy and incorporating expressive art therapy. Both of these modalities is helpful for children who struggle to express their feelings verbally or who express most feelings physically, in a more negative manner as it allows them to express their feelings in any form in a safe, contained area.

I hope you find these methods helpful in your household! I know the struggles of living with children with anxiety, as it often feeds our own anxiety which feeds theirs and we end up in a never ending cycle. These methods have been shown to break the cycle! If we can calm our children down it will reduce our own anxiety as well.

Military parents, we know how stressful military life though for our kids! Between deployments, PCSs and mom/dad coming and going, friends PCSing our kids are placed under so much stress! If you looking for great ways to help lead your children through these transitions hop over to my Military Parenting Page and check out my program coming soon: Parenting Coaching Designed specifically for Military Parents to address the unique concerns that we face with our children. Take a moment and sign up for updates and receive a FREE GIFT: Behavior Chart & an Easy How to Guide for Promoting Positive Behavior in our children.



What are the best methods you have found to help reduce anxiety and stress in your kiddos?

10 ways to reduce anxiety in kids

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