Calming Breathing Techniques for Toddlers

One of the tools in my parenting bag is deep breathing. Breathing techniques are a great way to divert your toddler’s attention and help them calm down.

I’ve used deep breathing for many years to calm myself. I find that I don’t breathe enough when I’m stressed, nervous, angry, or sad. When I’m feeling those emotions, I notice my breath becomes shallow and quick or that I hold my breath.

Since breathing deeply works well for me, I wanted to share this tool with my daughter.

Why should you breathe deeply when you’re upset

Deep breathing has many benefits including:

  • Reducing anxiety and depression
  • Lowering and stabilizing blood pressure
  • Increasing energy levels
  • Relaxing muscles
  • Decreasing stress
  • Boosting your immune system

Breathing deeply activates the parasympathetic nervous system and can reverse the stress response in your body. Breathing techniques can slow down your heart rate and help calm your body and mind.

Breathing techniques to try with your toddler

There several different methods for deep breathing that you can try.

  • Square or box breathing

Square breathing is the technique of inhaling on a four count, holding it for four counts, then exhaling on a four count, and waiting for four counts before inhaling again.

  • Belly breathing

Belly breathing is a technique where you lie on the floor with your knees up and place your hands on your stomach. You inhale and exhale through your nose and bring the breath into your belly instead of your chest. You can also do this exercise while standing. Sesame Street has a great song about belly breathing featuring Elmo.

  • Alternate nostril breathing

Alternate nostril breathing involves blocking one nostril while inhaling and exhaling and holding both nostrils for a moment at the top of an inhale. This a more advanced technique for older children and adults.

How to teach your child deep breathing techniques

This is a skill that you’ll want to practice when your child is in a good or neutral mood. You don’t want to try to tell them to “take a breath” when they are already in distress or crying.

When your child is relaxed and attentive, tell them that you want to teach them something that will help them when they are upset, angry or crying. I call it a “calm down” activity.

Tell them to follow your lead by breathing in then blowing out the breath. Once you’ve done it a few times and they have the concept down then you can try counting the breaths in and out and aiming for a 1-2-3-4 in and 1-2-3-4 out breath.

I started doing this with Norah when she was in her more agreeable 15-18 month old phase. It was already firmly engrained in her mind once she hit the tantrum stage.

Using deep breathing during difficult times

Once your child has the concept down, you can try it when they’re having a difficult time. Next time they are crying, screaming, etc. say “Let’s take some breaths”. They may resist. You should start doing the breathing exercises anyway. They may join you, they may not.

If you continue to do these exercises in front of them when they are upset, they may eventually try them. Once they do, make sure to praise them. Ask them if they feel better afterwards and tell them that deep breaths always help you feel better.

Breathing techniques in other situations

I also use this method when my daughter is overly excited or scared. I have her sit in my lap and we do some deep breaths until she is calm.

I also found it helpful to do deep breaths when my daughter was potty training. Breathing would take her focus off trying to go to the bathroom. She’d usually end up peeing or pooping while she was breathing without really noticing it.

Breathing techniques can be very beneficial for both parent and child. If you child is having a difficult time and you are getting frustrated, try doing some breathing exercises before dealing with their issue. Breathing will help center you and keep you calm. Your positive example will help your child learn this self-soothing technique that they can use for the rest of their lives.
Calming breathing techniques for toddlers

Building Your Child’s Language Skills From Birth

One of the first things that people notice about my daughter is her vocabulary. At 2.5 years old, she knows hundreds of words and meets the speech milestones of a 5+ year old.

Some of her speaking ability may be genetic. Her father and I are both very talkative! But I also used tips from experts to build her language skills from birth.

The first three years of a child’s life are crucial to language development. I’ve spent a lot of time since she was born developing her speech through the following methods.

Talking to her and narrating our day

I cannot stress how much I talk to my daughter. For the first three months of her life, I wore her in a sling for most of the day. I took her for walks in the park, did chores with her attached to me, and generally went about my life with her against my chest. Whenever she was awake, I spent a lot of time talking to her.

I would walk around the house and tell her the name of everything. I’d say “here’s our couch, here’s the lights, this is a remote control.” I would describe what I was doing “Mommy is making dinner. We’re having chicken with salsa and rice.”

I don’t think what I was saying mattered as much as how frequently I was talking. I exposed her to thousands of words before she was six months old because I was constantly talking to her.

If I waited for her to hear language when her father and I were home, she wouldn’t have heard much. We are often discussing the same things each night – what needs to get done, what’s on the schedule for tomorrow, and how our days were.

Since I work from home, I rarely see anyone throughout the day. Occasionally, I make phone calls, but those are often me saying “Yes, I can do that. Sure, no problem. OK, thanks, bye.” She wouldn’t get much from those calls either.

Making an effort to talk to her throughout the day exposed her to much more conversation than she would have heard otherwise.

Why this works: The more words a child hears, the bigger their vocabulary will become.

Singing to her and making up rhymes

If I wasn’t talking to her, I was singing to her. I sang kid’s songs, top 40 music, made-up songs, and whatever earworm popped into my head. She would always smile and coo while I was signing so it made me want to keep doing it for her. If she started crying, I would sing and she would usually get quiet and stare at me.

I would make up little tunes for the activities we were doing. I actually did this before I had any children too, it’s one of my annoying or lovable (depends on who you ask!) traits.

I often played music in the house and car for Norah to listen to. Sometimes this was children’s music, but most of the time it was the music that I like.

It’s no surprise that Norah’s quite a little singer today. She also makes up her own songs. One of my favorites goes “It rains on your head, it rains on your shoulders”. She goes through all of the body parts she knows as she sings this song.

Why this works: Singing and listening to music helps children learn the sounds of words and how to pronounce them.

Reading to her every day

From a few months old, I took Norah to library every week to borrow children’s books. We would then spend 30 minutes to 1 hour each day reading. This did not include her bedtime routine with daddy where they read 3-5 books.

By 15 months, she was turning pages in books and spending at least 20 minutes a day looking at them. At 2.5, she “reads” her stories to herself for at least an hour per day.

I’ve always spent extra time with each book asking her questions about the story. For example, if a book has a character who loves cake, I’ll ask her if she likes cake, when we usually eat cake, who makes cake, etc.

She also loves the library and looks forward to our weekly trip. She is great at memorizing the lines in stories and knows the authors of her favorite series (Marc Brown, Norman Bridwell, Mo Willems, and Beatrix Potter).

Why this works: Reading and asking questions about the story teaches children speaking skills.

Engage her in conversation

Both Michael and I make it a point to involve Norah in our conversations especially during meals. We talk with each other, but we ask her questions about her day and let her interrupt with questions about what we’re talking about.

Every day during lunch I talk to Norah about what’s coming up later in the week. I tell her if we have any appointments or playdates. I let her know about relatives visiting or things we’re going to do on the weekend.

As she gets older, she is better and better at picking up context from our conversations. She will often know who or what we are talking about after a few minutes of talking. She likes asking “Are you talking about me?”

It may feel silly to try to have a conversation with a small child, but children are little people. They need social interaction and engagement just like adults do. They want to have their thoughts and opinions heard.

Why it works: Engaging children in conversation helps them develop social skills and learn new words.

There are many ways you can help build your child’s language skills, but the biggest one is being a present parent. If you are interacting with your child throughout the day, you will help their brain build connections. Investing your time and energy into your child’s language development will set them up for success in the future.

We’re Reading 1000 Books Before Kindergarten

We love reading! Every week we go to our library and pick out a new batch of books to add to Norah’s list of 1000 books before kindergarten.

The 1000 Books before Kindergarten program

The 1000 books before kindergarten program encourages parents to read 1000 books to their children before they start school. The program promotes pre-literacy and literacy initiatives as well as family bonding.

Though the goal of 1000 books may seem huge, it’s very doable!

Why you should participate in 1000 Books before Kindergarten

Reading to your child strengthens their language skills and builds their vocabulary. Did you know that by three years old, a child from a low-income family will have heard 30 million fewer words than a child from a professional family? In addition, one in three American children start kindergarten without the skills needed to learn to read. Two-thirds of children can’t read proficiently by the end of third grade.

Reading to your child is a great way to prepare them for future success. If your family doesn’t have the means to purchase books, that’s no problem. Search for your local library and become a member, it’s free!

Reading aloud to children promotes brain development and helps build important language, literacy and social skills. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading to your child daily from infancy.

In addition to the educational benefits, reading to your child helps build a nurturing relationship and develops their self-esteem.

How you can participate in 1000 Books before Kindergarten

To participate, you only need to make time to read to your child each day. The sooner you start, the better!

If you start at one year old, reading 4 books per week = 1,060 books by kindergarten

If you start at two years old, reading 1 book per day = 1,095 books by kindergarten

If you start at three years old, reading 2 books per day = 1,460 books by kindergarten

If you start at four years old, reading 3 books per day = 1,095 books by kindergarten

 

How to read 1000 books before kindergarten

 

Most children’s books take less than 10 minutes to read. Even if you start when your child is older, you’ll only need to spend about 30 minutes per day reading. That’s the length of one TV show! If you replace one episode of your child’s favorite show with three books, you’ll be supporting their development and your relationship.

Reading doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Taking your child to story hour at the library counts too!

Find out more about 1000 books before kindergarten

Each library decides whether to participate in the program. Find a participating library in your area. If your library is not currently participating, you can suggest the program to a librarian or the library director.

My local library supports this awesome program. They recognize children who complete 1000 books before kindergarten by adding their name to a poster on the wall and giving them a prize. They also provide a notebook to record books read.

If your library doesn’t participate, you can do this initiative on your own by recording the books read on paper or in a Google document. If your child reaches 1000 books, you could take them out for dinner or buy them something special to celebrate the achievement. Whatever you choose to do, make sure to read to your child on a daily basis to set them up for success.
1000 books before kindergarten

How to Handle Toddler Temper Tantrums

From 15 – 20 months old, my daughter was the sweetest little thing. She would follow basic commands without any complaint. She would happily go along with any plan. She didn’t mind sitting in the grocery cart for an hour or two and she didn’t need to be entertained. Car rides were painless and quiet.

Shortly after she turned two years old, I saw a shift in her behavior. Suddenly, she seemed to realize that she had opinions and wanted to share them. If she didn’t want to do something, I heard about it. She would yell, cry, and try to talk her way out of things.

If I don’t meet her requests in a timely manner aka immediately, she will have a meltdown. Sometimes she’ll cry or whine while other times she’ll have a full-blown temper tantrum.

Temper tantrums are very common and are a normal part of growing up. They usually appear between the ages of 1.5 and 4 years old. They can include crying, screaming, kicking, biting and rolling around on the floor. Even though temper tantrums are a normal part of development, it doesn’t make them easy to deal with.

Here are some ways I deal with my toddler’s temper tantrums.

1) Offer options or solutions

Sometimes temper tantrums are over something specific. She wants a certain snack, toy or book right now.

If I can’t or don’t want to give her the thing she requests, I offer another solution to her problem. I tell her what her options are and let her pick the one that sounds best to her.

For example, if she’s demanding a popsicle fifteen minutes before dinner, I tell her she can have two mini marshmallows or an apple slice. Sometimes she keeps crying, but most of the time she picks one of the choices.

Offering solutions or options doesn’t always work or isn’t possible in some situations. If I’m in public or stuck on a long car ride, I will give in to her demands on occasion.

2) Distract and redirect

If the tantrum has not reached full-blown levels, I try distracting her. “Oh, look at this thing” or “I think I have something for you in my purse” usually works. Most of the time the thing in my purse is random – one of her hairbows or a box of Tic Tacs for her to shake. Sometimes I offer my phone for a set amount of time – usually 10 minutes –  so she can look at photos of herself or play on the PBS Go app.

If we’re at home, I redirect her to another activity or location. If she’s having a meltdown over watching TV, I’ll tell her we’re going to go outside and draw on the driveway with chalk. If it’s cold or raining, I’ll take her down to the playroom in the basement and ask her if we can have a tea party. Sometimes changing location is enough to stop the tantrum.

3) Talk it out

Most of the time I talk to my daughter in my normal voice. When a tantrum starts, I go into a serious, deeper voice.

If we’re at a restaurant and she starts melting down, I will say “Listen to me. We’re at a restaurant, we don’t do this behavior here. If you keep doing this, we’re going to go to the car and not get our food/lemonade/toy.”

Most of the time, if I remind her that I expect good behavior when we are somewhere, she behaves. I’ve explained many times that good behavior means eating her food, not throwing anything, and using an indoor voice.

I also use language that shows I understand her feelings. I’ll say, “You’re very upset. You really wanted to dance on the booth, but mommy said no. That’s really frustrating.” Usually, she will respond by echoing that she’s upset. At that point, I’ll try to distract her or offer some options for things she can do.

4) Comfort and hug

A little love and affection can go a long way when a tantrum is starting. I usually stay silent when I hug and comfort her. If I say anything, I’ll repeat “It’s OK, it’s OK” in a soothing tone. I’ve been comforting her with that phrase since she was born and it seems to work.

I can tell right away if she’s feeling upset and wants the comfort or if trying to hug her is going to make it worse. If she is not responsive to the hugs or pushes me away then I move on to the next option.

5) Let her cry

If I’ve offered a solution or option, tried to distract or redirect, talked it out, or offered comfort and she’s still throwing a fit, I let her cry. I tell her that it seems like she needs to cry it out and she can go ahead and do that for as long as she wants.

Obviously, this method is a little trickier in public, but ultimately I am not concerned with what people think about my parenting. They are only seeing one frame of the movie and that’s not enough to judge the whole thing.

As she’s gotten a bit older, she will say “I don’t want to cry it out” and get control of herself. We’ve also told her she can hug her “Sad Bunny” when she feels bad and the bunny will help her feel better.

The crying usually doesn’t last long especially if I act like I can’t hear it or it’s not happening. If the crying escalates then I try my last option.

6) Ignore her and walk away

**Note: I don’t do this in public. If the other options haven’t worked, we will leave or wait in the car until she’s calm.**

Finally, if the tantrum is epic, I ignore her and walk away. I start washing dishes, answer an email, or eat a snack. I go about my business as if I can’t hear the crying and screaming.

I only use this technique if all other options have failed. Sometimes she needs to work through her tantrum on her own. She has never cried, screamed or whined for more than 10 or 20 minutes while being ignored.

Toddler tantrums can be stressful for both child and parent. When your toddler throws a fit, work through these options. Keep in mind, the most important thing you can do is keep your cool and act in love. Adding your own crying or screaming to the tantrum won’t help. Your child needs help navigating his or her emotions. Guiding them in a loving way will set them up to better handle their feelings when they are adults.

How to handle toddler temper tantrums

Announcing Baby #2

This fall, we got some wonderful news. We’re expecting baby #2!

Due to my miscarriage, I wanted to wait to announce this pregnancy until I was sure everything was going well. I also wanted to inform my clients before I let everyone else know.

We had our anatomy scan on February 15 and found out we’re having a boy!

The baby looked great and everything is on track. We should be expecting the new baby around July 4th!

I’m so excited to have both a daughter and a son! I imagined myself a mother of girls so I’m a bit nervous about this new adventure.

My husband grew up with one sibling and I grew up with three, so we always knew that we wanted at least one sibling for our daughter. We are very excited to welcome this new life into our home and become a family of four!

I will also be navigating running a business and a household with TWO small children. I won’t lie, I’m a little scared. I plan to talk about my maternity leave, informing clients about a life change, and how it’s going during each developmental stage.

Thank you for sharing this happy moment with me!

Announcing Baby #2

Transitioning From a Crib to a Toddler Bed

Right before she turned two years old, Norah started complaining about her crib. She would wake up in the middle of the night and yell that she didn’t want to sleep in her crib and didn’t like it anymore. We weren’t sure when we were going to transition from crib to toddler bed, but Norah let us know when she was ready.

Choosing a new bed

Our first decision was to choose whether to buy a twin bed and add a rail or buy a toddler bed. There are pros and cons for each. The twin bed could grow with Norah and be her bed for the next 10+ years. The toddler bed was more manageably sized, less expensive, and could be passed down to future children. We thought we could consign the toddler bed when we were finished with it, assuming it was in good condition.

We ended up deciding on the toddler bed and bought this one from Walmart for $60. We got the cherry stain version to match her dresser and bookshelf.

We built the toddler bed on a Saturday so that Norah would have a chance to get used to the bed when sleep disruptions wouldn’t mess with her routine.

We let Norah pick out her own big girl comforter and sheet set. She chose this three piece Minnie set from Walmart for $40. Having a big girl comforter made her excited to get into the new bed. The set has held up through quite a few washings, but the decorative pillow unraveled in the dryer and I had to throw it out.

The first night Norah slept in the new bed went beautifully, she didn’t get out of the bed once and she went right to sleep. We figured she was telling us the truth when she said she didn’t like her crib. She was ready to transition to a toddler bed. She has been in the bed for five months now and she still loves it. She occasionally gets out of bed to gather random toys and books and bring them into bed with her, but she’s never tried to leave her room.

Adding an alarm clock

Another issue we had to tackle was Norah’s habit of waking up around 5 or 6 am and deciding that she wanted to be up for the day. This was a new occurrence and had only been happening for a month or so, but it was tough to deal with. It’s likely this had to do with Norah’s two-year molars coming in, but we wanted to introduce the concept of a “wake up time” sooner than later.

We bought the OK to Wake clock from Amazon for $21 to teach Norah time. The clock lights up green when it’s time for the child to wake up. There’s also an option for a ringing alarm, which we don’t use. It took a few days for Norah to understand the concept and follow it. We told her that she was allowed to get out of bed and read books or play with toys before the clock turned green, but that she couldn’t yell for us or leave the room.

On an average morning, we have the clock set to turn green at 8:30 am. She typically starts stirring at 8 and will either look at books or rest until the clock turns green. As soon as it does, she yells out “The clock is green. It’s morning time!”

Overall, we have a great sleeper which I credit partially to genetics and partially to using the SleepEasy Solution when she was four months old.

Tips for a successful transition from crib to toddler bed

    1. Look for signs of readiness. My daughter told us she was done with the crib, but other signs may include climbing out the crib or changing sleep patterns.
    2. Let your child have some say in the bed/comforter. We let Norah pick her comforter set and she was thrilled when she got to use it.
    3. Talk it up and make it fun. We surprised Norah by building the bed while she was downstairs then bringing her into her new room when everything was set up. We also acted extremely excited and positive about the change.
    4. Get a book about it. Norah loves to read books about things we’re going to do. We got her the book “Big Enough for a Bed” which talks about Elmo going from a crib into a big boy bed. This helped her understand what was happening and she frequently talked about how she had a big girl bed like Elmo.
    5. Give lots of of praise for a job well done. The first morning after Norah spent the night in her new bed, both Mike and I went in when she woke her up to talk about how great she did and how proud we were of her.

**This post contains affiliate links.

toddler

10 Things You Can For Yourself During Naptime

Some days you feel ultra productive. You work on your business during your child’s naptime. But what about those days when you’re drained? Self-care is very important especially as a freelancer. Self-care activities are positive stress relievers that relax you, inspire you, or recharge you.

Here are ten things you can do for yourself during your child’s naptime:

1) Meditate and stretch

My most important tip for naptime is to meditate and stretch. The whole routine can take less than 10 minutes, but it clears your mind and makes your body feel limber. I use the Stop, Breathe, and Think app to meditate. There are many meditations on the app that are five minutes or less. I usually do at least 10 minutes of meditation during naptime.

I do a simple stretching routine to keep my muscles from getting tight.

2) Take a nap

One of the most obvious things you can do is take a nap. A quick 20-30 minute snooze can give your brain a rest and recharge you for the rest of your day.

3) Read a book

Whenever I open a book, I take a tiny vacation. Try spending 20-30 minutes reading a book during your child’s naptime. It doesn’t matter whether the book is fiction or nonfiction, just choose something that interests you. I do almost all of my reading during naps and in the 10 minutes before I go to bed. I usually end up reading around 30 books per year. It’s possible to get a lot of reading done if you spend 20-30 minute each day doing it.

4) Take a bath or shower

As work-at-home or stay-at-home mama, we don’t get a chance to shower during the day without an audience. When your child takes a nap, you could spend some time relaxing in a hot bath or taking a shower. Having a peaceful shower that’s not rushed always makes me feel better.

5) Watch a show

Sometimes I’ll take a Netflix break during my daughter’s nap. I recently got through all seasons of Scandal. I don’t like having the TV on too much during the day and my daughter is not happy when a “Mama show” is on. I do my TV watching in the evenings or on weekends.

6) Get outside

If the weather is nice, I spend 20 minutes outside while Norah naps. I take the baby monitor outside and either read, do work, or just sit and enjoy the sunshine. Sometimes I walk laps in the yard to get a little exercise. If you have front porch or deck, try getting a little sunshine while your child is sleeping.

7) Have a snack

We all have those snacks that we don’t want to share with our kids. Get into your secret stash and have a snack during naptime. Whether your favorite treat is salty or sweet, it will be that much more delicious because you don’t have to share it.

8) Connect with a friend

Text or call someone and see how they’re doing. This is especially nice to do to other stay-at-home or work-at-home moms. The days can often be long and lonely so reaching out to each other is a good way to have a little adult interaction.

9) Work on a hobby or craft

This could be as simple as doing a little coloring in an adult coloring book or it could be as complicated as you are crafty. I enjoy knitting and I’m planning on learning how to hand-letter in the next few months. I like to have one activity I enjoy that doesn’t require screens.

10) Clean something or declutter

If my house is a disaster, I have a hard time focusing. Of course, there are toys strewn all around the living room for most of the day, but I like to take five minutes to tidy up while Norah sleeps. She destroys the living room as soon as she wakes up, but my sweeps help a bit. At the very least, they help me find the half-eaten snacks that she’s hidden in the couch.

When your child takes a nap, ask yourself whether you’d like to spend the time working or practicing self-care. Don’t feel guilty about your choice! Either way you are doing something good for yourself.

 

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What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed by Motherhood

Being a mother is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but it can also be one of the most exhausting, overwhelming and tedious ones too. At one point or another, all mothers have felt like they weren’t able to keep up with the onslaught of housework, caregiving, and maintaining their sanity.

Here are some ways to cope when you feel overwhelmed by motherhood:

  • Find a support group

In-person would be best, but if all you can find or have time for is an online group, that can work too. Support groups consist of other mothers, some in the same position as you, others who are newer to the job, and some seasoned pros. They can offer support and help. A weekly or monthly meeting can be a great place to recharge, relax, laugh and commiserate. Check Meetup groups in your area or Momsclub.

  • Ask for help

If you have a relative or a friend that you can ask for help, reach out and do so. Sometimes we don’t reach out for help because we’re embarrassed and assume that everyone else has it together. Everyone could use some extra help every now and then. Ask if someone can watch your child for a while so you can run an errand solo. Ask if someone could entertain your child while you get some things done around the house. Ask if someone could help you clean while your child sleeps. Whatever you need help with, put aside your temporary embarrassment and ask for help.

  • Take a break

When your child is napping or otherwise safely contained somewhere, take a break. Take a few deep breaths, do some stretching, read a book for a few minutes, or just leave the room. Sometimes separating yourself from the situation for a bit can help especially during toddler tantrums or newborn crying jags. When you calm down, go back and comfort and redirect.

  • Hire someone

If you don’t have regular help, you may want to hire someone to give you some time out each day. Babysitters, nannies, or ‘mother’s helpers’ can be as reasonable as $7-15 per hour depending on where you live. If you are able to pay someone to come a few days a week, it may be best for your mental health. You can find local caregivers on Care.com.

  • Find daycare

If you don’t want a babysitter coming to your house or can’t find one, you could use a drop-in home daycare service. This would allow you to bring your child for around $25-45 per day. Most commercial daycares will not allow drop-ins, but do have part-time schedules that can be as flexible as two days per week or a few hours each day.

  • Go outside

If you’re stuck in the house all day, you’re bound to get aggravated. Both you and your child need a change of scenery. Go outside! Go to the playground, the library, or take a walk around the block. Even running a few errands can break up the monotony.

  • Find free activities in your town

In most cities, there’s something free happening almost every day. Most museums and zoos have donation days where you pay whatever you can. Look up activities in your city and get out of the house. It can seem overwhelming to leave the house at first, but once you get to your destination, you’ll be glad you did. Search “free activities [your city]” or “donation day [your city]” to find lists of resources.

  • Join a gym

There are many gyms with childcare included in the membership price. The YMCA is a great example. For around $40/person per month or $70/family per month you can go to the YMCA every day and use the childcare for two hours per day. This situation is a win-win. Not only will you get some exercise, but you will also get a much-needed break.

  • Get more sleep

When you’re sleep deprived, everything is harder. Try to get to bed earlier. If your child is still waking through the night, consider sleep training. I used the SleepEasy Method to sleep train my daughter. If your child naps during the day, try to take a 20-30 minute nap with them. It’s tempting to power through your day on caffeine and sugar (I know I have!), but try not to consume them after 2 pm so you can fall asleep faster.

  • Speak to a therapist

If you’re feeling overwhelmed frequently, you may want to speak with a therapist. You could be experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety. Even if you’re not, the therapist will give you tools to help you cope with your day-to-day struggles. It’s often hard to find time to go to a therapist when you have children, but this is where babysitters, family, or friends can come in handy. You must prioritize your own health because no one else can do that for you.

Feeling overwhelmed is a normal occurrence in motherhood. Children can be demanding and exhausting and it’s stressful to have the responsibility of raising them on your shoulders. Make sure to take time for self-care. You are important.

If you feel hopeless or overwhelmed the majority of the time, please contact someone about postpartum depression/anxiety. It is very real and very serious.

motherhood

Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 10/24/16)

This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, marketing, and parenting with occasional wild cards thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.

Freelancing

If you like hearing other freelancer’s stories, check out Jess Creative’s Journeys in Business video series. The first episode is with wedding planner, Ashley Stork.

CloudPeeps has the top 10 trends of freelancing in 2017. Highlights include the digital toolbox continuing to expand and freelancers getting more representation.

Bianca Bass shares 15 money lessons everyone needs to know. This advice is particularly useful for freelancers. I agree 100% with her stance on never working for free.

Marketing

David Kadavy shares what you need to know before starting a course. A lot of his suggestions are about the things that you don’t need before you launch.

Mallie Rydzik shares a cute post on the scariest thing about being a working creative. Most creatives fear losing clients and money.

Being authentic is a current trend in marketing. Camilla Peffer discusses when too much information can be bad for your brand.

Parenting

Interesting musing on how a woman had no sympathy for mothers at her workplace until she became one. Once you become a mother you see that no mother has it easy, whether she stays home, works at home or works outside the home.

Megan Nash’s story about her special needs son being turned down by a modeling agency is making headlines. She’s hoping to get Asher into a national campaign to promote acceptance and inclusion.

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5 Easy Ways to Entertain Your Toddler at Home

I’m not only a freelancer; I’m also a stay at home mom to a two-year-old girl. I spend most of the day working, running errands and doing housework, but I also spend a few hours each day focused solely on her.

At this age, she can only concentrate on one thing for about 20 minutes so I’ve put together a bag of tricks to keep her entertained.

Here are some easy (and cheap!) ways that I entertain my toddler:

1) Creating artwork

Art projects are one of my favorite things to do with Norah. We color with crayons, markers, or colored pencils, paint with watercolors or fingerpaint, string macaroni, and glue things to paper. Pinterest is a great resource for cute art projects for toddlers. I’ve put together some of my favorites projects here.

2) Playing outside

Unless it’s the dead of winter, Norah and I go outside every day for at least 30 minutes. We walk around the yard looking for sticks and leaves. We take short walks around the neighborhood. We play with her outdoor toys (water table, sandbox, jungle gym). We are lucky to have a large yard, but even in our previous home we spent time on the stoop getting some fresh air and watching the cars go by.

3) Flashcards and letters

We spend 20-30 minutes per day doing flashcards and letter games. During the back-to-school season, I found a bunch of $1 flashcard sets at Target. I bought Cat in the Hat cards for shapes and colors and a deck of animal cards. We also have a few letter puzzles that spell out small words like cat, moon, and hat. We love this Melissa and Doug See and Spell puzzle set.

4) Reading

Since Norah was about three months old, I’ve taken her to the library every week and read to her for at least 20 minutes per day. Thanks to this, she absolutely loves books and will now spend 20-30 minutes sitting in her rocking chair “reading” her books to herself. Her most often requested items are a book and one of her stuffies to read it to. Our local library has a goal of reading 1000 books to your child before they enter kindergarten. If you read just one per night, you’ll read 365 in one year, 730 in two years and 1,095 in three years. You can find out more about this program here.

5) Games with household items

I set up inexpensive or free games for Norah to play in the house. Some examples of these include:

  • Homemade obstacle course

One of the easiest and cheapest things to do is set up an obstacle course in your home. I use couch cushions, pillows, moving boxes, and a hula hoop for obstacles and washi tape or painter’s tape to create lines and zig zags on the carpet for Norah to follow. This has been especially helpful in improving her motor skills.

  • Hide and seek

We play hide and seek by me hiding and her finding me (contained to one level of the house) or hiding her stuffed animals and telling her to find them. The stuffed animal hide and seek usually holds her attention longer because they are harder to find.

  • Scavenger hunt

This is the same concept as hide and seek, but we look for specific things. I’ll hide seashells, an apple, a few leafs, and some toys around the house and then give her a list of what she’s looking for. She can’t read yet, but she likes to cross things off the list with a crayon when she finds them.

  • Money sort

I have a giant jar of coins that she likes to transfer from one container to another. This activity requires supervision because coins are choking hazards. Norah almost never puts non-food items in her mouth, but I still watch her when she plays this game. This is a good activity for her to do in the kitchen while I’m cooking dinner. I’ve also done this with uncooked macaroni noodles.

  • Cup stack

I have 50+ plastic Solo cups in different colors from her previous birthday and holiday parties that she likes to stack. She’ll spend 20-30 minutes stacking them and knocking them over in the kitchen. She also likes doing this with plastic plates.

  • Tupperware drums

Playing drums on pots and pans is way too loud, but Tupperware drums are a great alternative. The noise isn’t deafening so your kid gets the satisfaction of hitting a spoon onto something and making noise without giving you a headache.

A game that I’m not including on the list, but Norah always wants to play is called “blankiehead.” She puts her blanket over her face and runs at full speed around the house. I do not recommend this game!

Entertaining a toddler does not have to expensive or exhausting. The most important part is being present with your child and actively engaging in whatever activity you choose to do together.

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