The real truth about taking a Disney Cruise with a toddler. Are you ready to travel on DCL with your toddler, or should you wait it out? Let’s find out.
In a previous post, I shared about everything we did to prepare for a Disney Cruise with our toddler. While writing it, I found myself compelled to bring you more informative information about our experience with the cruise itself. Eventually, the post became more like a mini-book. The whole topic about preparing for and taking a Disney Cruise with a toddler encompassed more information than I felt fit comfortably in one post. So, I chose to divide it up and offer a second post sharing our actual experience on a Disney Cruise with our toddler.
I’ll tell the good and the bad of cruising with a toddler. Hopefully you’ll have enough information to help you determine if taking a cruise with a toddler on the Disney Cruise Line is something you should consider.
Once you’ve figured out what you’re packing and taking with you, it’s time to embark on your journey. Spend a few minutes online pre-registering you and your family on Disney’s Cruise website! You will get all the boring and tedious contract and waiver documents done online which will save you a lot of time in the line. You can also schedule your arrival and boarding time in advance! We chose the 2:00 – 2:30 arrival time and were processed rather quickly (aside from the wait in lines). Since boarding opened at 1:30, we were able to immediately board the ship.
Our Bahamian cruise was in early September on the Disney Dream for 4 nights from Port Canaveral, FL. It was myself, hubby, and 2-year-old daughter in celebration of her 2nd Birthday and our 4 year wedding anniversary.
I’m disappointed to find that we paid the same cruise fair for our two-year-old vs. children of other ages. She wasn’t eligible to participate in the free children’s programming and was limited to the splash pad because she isn’t potty trained. If we wanted baby free time, we had to utilize the nursery at $6 per hour. Pricing for the cruise, in general, was a little more than we wanted to pay, but the experience being geared to children made our minds up. Plus, she was able to see Mickey and his friends more than we could have if we’d visited Disney (in my opinion)!!
Book Your Shore Excursions and On Board Activities
DO THIS AS SOON AS THE SYSTEM ALLOWS! We waited a while to register because we were waiting for my passport to arrive to be sure I was actually going to be able to cruise. And, because we waited until 4 weeks before the cruise, when it came to booking our adult dinner and several other onboard activities, there were little to no availabilities for the things we wanted. There were only a couple dinner reservations available on the 1st night of the cruise and one or two slots in a virtual golf simulator for hubby to do on the full day of sea. Private cabanas on Castaway Cay were all booked as well as many shore excursions for both Nassau and Castaway Cay. Lesson: book your activities as early as the online system allows!
Children’s Activities On Board the Ship
Children 3 and under can go into the nursery
At the time I originally wrote this post, the charge per hour was $6 (with a discounted hourly rate for subsequent children in your party).
When we began looking at cruises, we were disappointed that we had to pay for our 2-year-old to join us AND we would have to pay by the hour to use the Nursery as she wasn’t eligible to use the other “clubs” (aka Children’s Programming). We did use the nursery one night and were happy to have a quiet adult only dinner for one night. The other thing to note is that, based on the length of the trip, we could only utilize 10 hours of nursery services for the entire 4-night cruise.
If you’re looking to put your child(ren) into the nursery, I’d recommend booking this at the time you’re doing the rest of your bookings to ensure they can take your child(ren) when you need.
Swimming and Splash Pad
Because our 2-year-old wasn’t fully potty trained, she wasn’t able to use ANY of the on-board swimming pools, which we hadn’t realized at the time of booking.
The Nemo’s splash pad was the only on-board water activity available to her. While it was adorable and had a cute water slide, baby girl kept asking to go to the pool. I would love to see the addition of an UN-potty-trained toddler-friendly pool – this feature would have been greatly appreciated amenity to my daughter.
Children aged 3 and older are eligible to participate in the children’s programming that doesn’t cost extra. They still must be fully potty trained to use the swimming pools on board the ship. This leaves us at a huge disadvantage when taking a Disney Cruise with a toddler. There were plenty of areas that the little one wanted to explore. Plus, mom and dad would have liked a little more alone time to enjoy the pools or other activities together.
I was pleasantly surprised by Disney’s food in the main dining rooms. Excellent quality food was served with a good amount of spices, though the portions were sometimes small. The food was presented as an upscale restaurant would do, which isn’t necessary, in my opinion. I’d prefer an ample amount of food on my plate in lieu of making it look pretty.
Prepare to rotate dining rooms throughout your time on the ship. You’ll receive your dining room assignments on tickets in your stateroom the day you board the ship.
Additionally, you’ll be assigned to a table with at least one other family who will dine with you throughout the cruise. We were lucky enough to get a family with a daughter approximately the same age as baby girl. The conversation was just enough to not be uncomfortable without also being overwhelming. Definitely got lucky!
There were ample character greets and photo opportunities.
If you’ve ever been to a Disney theme park, you know the lines for character greets can be nearly as bad as lines for rides. This is one major benefit of a Disney Cruise with a toddler. The lines to meet characters were never more than a few minutes, even if you weren’t one of the lucky few in the front! But, you know any wait for a toddler is overwhelming.
The end result, however, is totally worth is when your toddler FINALLY gets to hug their favorite character.
Nassau – For Nassau, we chose to pay $169 per person for the Atlantis Aquaventure. Children under 3 were free (and the system will not allow you to select them for the excursion) and it included lunch for the two paying adults. I have mixed feelings about the excursion. Firstly, the park is HUGE! We weren’t prepared for how much walking was involved. Honestly, I felt tired by the time we arrived to actually start playing in the pools because I’d walked a lot with a toddler in my arms.
Since baby girl wasn’t charged, they didn’t supply us with a meal ticket for her – if she had wanted a lunch, we would have had to pay for her. When we asked about her meal, the staff told us that we should have gotten a meal ticket from our cruise line. I suggest contacting Disney directly if you book this excursion to make sure your child receives a meal ticket in this instance.
In general, for this particular trip, we chose to use ONLY Disney’s site to book our excursions. Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island so we couldn’t use a non-affiliated site to book anything for that day anyway. You could potentially save money using another site for shore trips, not on their private islands, but you also assume the risk of not making it back to the ship should something happen. I’m not against non-affiliated sites either though.
The excursion we chose in Castaway Cay wasn’t terribly expensive or long. We decided a glass bottom boat ride would be nice for the whole family. Turns out, this isn’t a typical glass bottom boat and didn’t end up being as exciting as I’d thought. When I think of a glass bottom boat, I think of one that has a full glass bottom with seats surrounding the floor so that you can just sit and enjoy the view. Not the case. In order to see out the glass bottom, you had to stand up and look over the railing down into a pit. There wasn’t as much sea life as I’d hoped to have seen and trying to feed the fish over the side of the boat was impossible for small children. It seemed most of the children were bored with the ride.
The night before disembarking a Disney Cruise with a toddler, you are posed with two options for your morning departure. You can either a) have everything but carry on items packed and set out of the room by about 10:30 (maybe it was 11:30) p.m. with non-electronically coded tags if you want assistance or b) get off the ship a little earlier with no assistance with all of your baggage.
Well, we chose to put our baggage out of the door the night before and go have our final breakfast in the dining room. Turns out, we didn’t really gain any more from the option we chose, other than eating breakfast that we didn’t have to pay for. Here’s what we discovered:
* Breakfast in the dining room was rushed and we didn’t receive the same level of attention from our waitstaff
* We were directed to luggage pickup. You had to remember the color of your tags with what character in order to locate the luggage yourself. One of our pieces couldn’t be located easily because it was hidden behind a larger bag. Because nothing was coded, there would have been no way to track your luggage.
* If you wanted assistance with your luggage to the car, you had to pay someone. That’s fine and all, except that’s not how it’s presented.
* There was still a wait line to get through customs
Truthfully, neither option seemed better than the other when it was all said and done. Like I said, at least we received breakfast on the final day that technically we paid for in the cost of the cruise anyway.
I had a great deal of fun and I bet it would be amazing to do this again in the future when S is out of diapers and can participate in the kid activities that are included in the price of the cruise. At the time we went on this cruise, we didn’t feel comfortable paying extra for day care services.
That said, our enjoyment of the cruise and inability to experience some of the activities at night made it nearly impossible for us to believe it was worth the price to take a Disney Cruise with a toddler again.
We later priced a stay at Nassau for the same amount of nights, just to compare costs. Booking a hotel that included unlimited access to Atlantis water park and factoring in flight costs, a trip would cost us nearly $1k less and we’d have to freedom to eat where we liked.
Tough call. Tons of fun and the little one loved seeing the characters. Still, I believe we should have waited until she was older so she could stay up later (allowing us to catch shows/fireworks), enjoy the pools, and to let her enjoy the free children’s activities.
What do you think? It it worth going on a Disney Cruise with a toddler?
Need help choosing the perfect baby carrier? I’m sharing 5 tips to help you choose the best baby carrier, plus 3 of the top baby carrier styles for your introduction to babywearing.
Babywearing isn’t a new thing. For centuries, mothers of many cultures have used baby carriers for carrying their babies around. In the past, baby carriers were simple slings and wraps, which are styles still used today in the modern world. But, with the resurgence in popularity, more styles of carriers are being created to accommodate the growing demands of the overwhelmed moms in all different situations. Various styles, colors, sizes, and fabrics make choosing the perfect baby carrier seem to be an even more daunting task.
While it may be intimidating when you first begin looking into babywearing, it’s not nearly as difficult. I’d like to make choosing the perfect baby carrier for you and your baby a little easier.
More important than the carrier itself, you must always follow the manufacturer weight recommendations. Baby carriers are not one size fits all, therefore, it’s important to know weight and height recommendations for your baby, so that you and your baby will be safe and comfortable. A baby who is too small for a baby carrier will not be properly supported. A baby who is too large will be uncomfortable and can increase strain on your own body.
Many manufacturers will list sizing details about how much adjustment room each specific baby carrier has. This makes narrowing down your carrier options a little easier, so know your own size and whether or not you can adjust the carrier to fit you. You want your baby to be snug, but you don’t want the carrier to be too tight or too lose.
There’s nothing like making the mistake of purchasing a baby carrier without doing your research. Ask me how I know this is a disaster…
Do the research because choosing the perfect baby carrier doesn’t just happen by chance. Check the specifications of the carriers you’re considering to make sure they’ll fit and are of fabric fitting for your environment. Further, reading moms honest reviews of carriers will help you determine whether or not any carrier is one you should consider for yourself and your baby.
Try them on
You may be able to try on a variety of styles in your local baby shop. If you’re lucky enough to have a local babywearing group, make a point to visit one and try on some demonstration carriers. Bring along your spouse if he intends to practice babywearing. Choosing the perfect baby carrier is likely going to be a different experience for each of you.
Trying on a carrier with your baby will help you determine fit and comfort for anyone wearing (or being worn). Of course, the best place to do this as a new babywearing mama is under the supervision of someone experienced, so they can help watch for the baby’s safety as well as making necessary adjustments for the right fit.
What Not to Focus On
You’ll find that the more involved you become in the babywearing community, the more you’ll hear about the different ways to carry your baby. If this is your first time practicing babywearing, focus on the basics. A simple front-carry is really the first thing you need to know to get started. As you become comfortable with a certain style of carrier, and with your baby, then venture out to learn all you can about other ways to carry your baby. But, don’t overwhelm yourself from the start.
Choosing the Perfect Baby Carrier – Styles
Aside from all the research, choosing the perfect baby carrier means narrowing down the baby carrier style that’s right for your baby or toddler’s age. I’ll touch on the three most popular carrier styles, in hopes of making choosing the perfect baby carrier easier. When you’re more comfortable with babywearing, you can potentially find yourself experimenting with other styles and more carrying positions. But, my intent is not to overwhelm you with choices.
A sling is one of the best newborn baby carriers, assuming you can get over the feeling that your little peanut is going to wiggle himself right out. Choosing a sling for a newborn means you have to choose one that fits close to your body. Plus, the rings shouldn’t be made of a slippery metal. The rings need to keep the fabric in place so that you can be certain the baby won’t be able to wiggle free.
Some slings are a solid piece of fabric, meaning you wouldn’t have to worry about the rings, but you’d definitely need to make sure to get the correct size for your body.
A sling was never one I was able to get comfortable with. However, mothers who do get comfortable with them have found them useful for baby and toddler years.
Popular slings include:
The Hip Baby Ring Sling, which has a 4.6 star rating on Amazon with over 300 reviews. This one sells for under $30 (at the time of writing this), which is reasonably affordable for most moms entering the world of babywearing.
The Maya Wrap Lightly Padded Ring Sling fetches a 4.3 star rating on Amazon. It’s major bonus is the lightly padded shoulders and claims to be more comfortable than other carriers. You’ll need a little more room in your budget at nearly $80, but it may be worth it for some extra comfort as you lug your new baby around.
For the mom who is uncertain about a sling, but wants to give it a try, check out the Seven Baby Slings! You can get a Seven Baby Sling for free with code SAHM40. You’ll just have to pay a $3.50 sizing insurance fee and shipping and handling. But, with minimal investment, you won’t feel terrible if you don’t end up loving a sling. Sizing insurance with this one is important because this is not a ring sling and you will not be able to get the proper fit on-the-go.
A wrap is often the most intimidating to new mothers. To be honest, I had a wrap with my first baby, but was never able to comprehend how to wrap myself and a wiggly baby tightly enough to be of any use.
It took a babywearing introduction class at a local babywearing group to get a better understanding of how it’s done. I attended one when I was pregnant with my second and practiced babywearing with a baby doll after the introductory discussion was over.
Once my confidence was built with practice on the baby doll, I purchased a used wrap from a friend and practiced with a teddy bear over the course of the next few months as I waited for my second baby to be born.
Though wrapping a live baby is significantly different, I found this to be much easier than I’d ever given it credit for. And, because my son was under the weight recommendation for a soft structured carrier right after birth, the wrap was the perfect baby carrier during his newborn stage. I loved it because I was able to custom fit a wrap for my body and my baby, perfecting the support of my newborn’s neck, and keep him close as I carried on essential business.
The Boba Wrap, Grey, is an Amazon Best Seller and Amazon Choice product. With the soft, stretchy material, you’re sure to get just the right fit for you and baby. Though it only gets 4.2 stars with over 2600 reviews, the Boba Wrap is an amazing product. It’s not unreasonably priced, and the stretchy material makes it possible to get a comfortably snug fit.
The Ergo Baby Carrier by CuddleBug has a fabulous 4.4 star rating with over 1500 reviews on Amazon. It is also a #1 best seller! For just a few dollars less than the Boba, you can have a very versatile and comfortable wrap. It’s also made of stretchy material to make getting a snug fit easier for you and your baby.
Seven Baby now offers wraps. With the discount code SAHM40, you can purchase one for about $20 plus shipping and handling. That’s a pretty good deal for giving a wrap a shot if this is your first time.
Soft Structured Carrier
This was, by far, my most favorite carrier. The moment my son was big enough to transfer to a soft structured carrier, we switched. My husband gave me one for Mother’s Day after I lamented about believing I needed one, but wasn’t willing to shell out good money on one for the second (and last baby). And, there was no way I was buying another cheap carrier that would hurt my back and make me hate wearing my baby.
A cheap carrier was the reason I didn’t practice babywearing with my first.
So, to my surprise, I was gifted a Boba 4G and became a firm believer in the power of babywearing. We did everything with the carrier. From talking walks to the creek to visiting theme parks, the carrier went everywhere. And, eventually, I learned to breastfeed in a carrier.
A soft structured carrier is, in my opinion, the easiest of all the carriers to master. Once you select the perfect one for your body and your baby, it’s relatively easy to adjust them to fit. Learning to carry in different positions is easier too. Finally, some manufacturers make soft structured carriers strictly for toddlers, so you have a wide range of carriers available to choose from.
I will start with my personal favorite, the Boba 4G.
The reason I chose this carrier was because it included an infant insert (although my little guy was still under the weight recommendation for the first few weeks). I had to start with a wrap and then moved to using the Boba as soon as he weighed enough.
Once he past the infant stage, I pulled out the insert. I’ve been wearing him nearly everywhere in the 4G and learned to breastfeed in it. Additionally, I learned to back carry, which we do on occasion now that he’s a toddler.
For the money, a Boba 4G is versatile. It will last you several years and through some of your baby’s toddlerhood, depending on weight.
Features I like about the Boba 4G:
*Wide body to help conceal a breastfeeding baby.
*A hood that zips into its own pocket for sleeping or shielding from sun.
*Variety of patterns to suit your personal tastes
*Functionality and comfort at a price fit for the years of use you’ll get.
*Fits a variety of body types from XS to XXL.
The verdict is still out for me on the Beco 8. While it has the back brace for added support, I feel as though it prevents me from tightening the straps enough for a comfortable and snug fit. I have yet to take the back brace off and try a back carry though.
What I DO love about this carrier is that it has a zip down mesh back to help keep your baby cool in warmer climates (I’m in Florida). And when it’s cooler outside, I can zip it back up for warmth.
Additionally, it comes with an infant insert and is capable of 8 carry positions.
Hopefully I have you set up for choosing the perfect baby carrier. As always, let me know if you have any questions!
What other advice do you have or need for choosing the perfect baby carrier?
Is every holiday about food? Um … of course it it! Now, get ready to be amazed by these easy and cute Easter treats to make for your kids.
Ever since I found out I have food intolerances, I don’t spend much time in the kitchen making treats. Go ahead and feel bad for my kids. Spending tons of time in the kitchen cooking mostly homemade food kinda burns me out. So, we buy a lot of store bought treats.
But, this year, I’m seriously considering trying to make something special for Easter. Some of these Easter treats and snacks are easy enough for me to really think about making.
I might just have a problem with the kids eating my creations.
27 Adorable Easter Treats and Snacks
Though there are tons of Easter treat ideas out there on Pinterest, I narrowed my favorites down to these. I think these are the cute Easter treats to make this year. Though, some of them might be too cute to actually eat.
Thinking about travel and taking a cruise with your toddler? Let’s talk about how to prepare for a Disney Cruise with a toddler.
I spent so much time trying to figure out how to pack for our family of three for our recent Disney Cruise. We went on a 4 night Bahamian cruise with Disney Cruise Lines as a celebration of our daughter’s 2nd Birthday AND our 4th Wedding Anniversary. This was quite a different experience from our honeymoon cruise, when all we had to worry about was ourselves. It was almost overwhelming trying to prepare for a Disney Cruise with a toddler.
In the months before the cruise, I had so many questions, especially considering S’s milk intolerance and the ship rules about not bringing food on board. I’d like to do an in-depth review of the experience from start to finish, but that would be more like a book. This will be the 1st in a two part series of our Disney Cruise Line (DCL) experience.
How to Prepare for a Disney Cruise with a Toddler
We ended up purchasing our cruise from Expedia.com while they were running a promotion in concurrence with Disney’s on-board credit promotion. The deal gave us an extra on board credit from Expedia on top of Disney’s $100 on board credit offer.
At the time, it was the best deal we could find. I was glad I didn’t just book through Disney. That said, be sure to check out all the deals and don’t be fooled into thinking there aren’t better deals out there.
The down side to this part of the story is that Expedia did an awesome job of hiding the requirements for receiving the additional on board credit in their terms and conditions, so we missed the requirements to claim them and weren’t eligible for it any longer. Worst part is that we didn’t realize it wasn’t applied until we were already on the ship when we received the note that we only had a $100 on board credit.
If you or your family have allergies or, like in our case, a child with a milk intolerance, be sure to contact Disney. Since S is milk intolerant and possibly soy intolerant, we have had her on Almond Milk versus other milk alternatives. When I contacted Disney about their milk alternatives, they didn’t offer Almond Milk (rice and soy were the alternatives offered) so I asked if I could bring it on board.
The answer is yes – coolers are allowed for baby foods and necessary dietary restrictions. In baby girl’s case, her Almond Milk will be allowed on in an unopened original container. Homemade or opened containers, from my understanding, are not permitted. Please check with Disney about their policies BEFORE boarding!
While we really didn’t pack anything other than some Almond Milk and some extra toddler snacks, part of those snacks weren’t necessarily “baby foods” and we weren’t given any trouble in boarding. So that we didn’t have to carry a cooler, I purchased almond milk in a 4 pack of single servings and packed it into a carry on bag.
Contacting Disney Cruise Line
If you booked through Expedia or some other online portal, I’d recommend contacting DCL’s customer serviceto make sure you have things set up for your family. I sent a quick email to notify them that our daughter is celebrating her 2nd birthday, we were celebrating our 4th Anniversary, and also included that we would be in need of a high chair at dinner and crib in the cabin. They notated in our account everything that we weren’t able to include when booking with Expedia.
In a later email to them, I had to ask if we could bring our daughter on an excursion that wouldn’t let us add her to in booking online. The answer was YES, but that the system wouldn’t add her because she was FREE for the activity we were booking.
My review of their services prior to boarding the ship was satisfactory. They answered all my questions and were very quick to respond.
To help you prepare for a Disney Cruise with a toddler, I’ll let you want we packed, just for our toddler:
A full sleeve of diapers (out of a box of Luvs) – about twice as many as we ended up needing
2 packages of Huggies Swim Diapers – this was more than 1 full bag too many for us
5 bathing suits – again, too many as we didn’t utilize more than 1 a day
2 sets of water shoes
UV Protective Swim Hat
A 4 pack of shelf-stable almond milk (for her milk sensitivity)
A small stroller (at the time, we had a Combi folding stroller that has a strap for easy carry) – this is helpful both on and off the ship! Look for more information in the 2nd post.
Found on Disney Cruise Line’s Website, here was the suggested dining attire for our cruise:
On 4-night cruises:
First night: cruise casual—no shorts, swimwear or tank tops
One pirate or tropical night (deck party)
One “optional dress-up night”—jacket for men, dress or pantsuit for women
Final night: cruise casual—no shorts, swimwear or tank tops
We ended up packing at least 2 outfits per day (one day time outfit and one dinner outfit worn the remainder of the evening). Hubby packed 2 bathing suits and I packed 3 for myself. I honestly think we all could have packed a little lighter. Maybe next time we prepare for a Disney Cruise, we’ll plan to use the laundry service and re-wear some of the same clothes. I would certainly not bring more than 3 swimsuits for the toddler to rotate through the week.
Have any questions about how to prepare for Disney Cruise with a toddler? I was kind of lost as a first timer myself, so I’d love to help if I can.
5 simple things you can do to promote toddler independence. At the same time, you may find yourself dealing with fewer toddler tantrums while building valuable skills. In the world of toddler parenting, anything that makes a toddler more peaceful is a blessing
Hi, I’m a toddler mom! I’ve been a stay at home mom for going on 7 years now and I’m tired. I think the words mom and tired are synonymous, right?
Well, I also have Hashimoto’s and am currently struggling with my iron stores, presently beginning to schedule iron infusion therapy. I kinda got the short end of the stick on mom life. Between getting older and dealing with my health issues, it’s important I encourage my children s’ independence as much as possible. Sure, I like to be a little lazy, too, but I keep telling myself the earlier I promote independence, the easier I’ll make my life in the long run. I promote toddler independence for this very reason.
I may also work on toddler independence because toddlers can act like little terrorists when they want to do something themselves and aren’t allowed. My son is going through a phase where he plops himself on the floor and throws his head back. With both of my kids, I had to deal with being hit (or kicked) or the full on tantrums if they were dead-set on doing something themselves. So, I do my best to help them with their independence. At the very least, I show them I want them to do things independently, even if something isn’t within their abilities at the moment.
Ways to Promote Toddler Independence
Following are 5 easy ways to promote toddler independence and help reduce toddler frustrations. By letting go of the idea that things will be perfect, you and your tot will find a few more moments of peace. And, you’ll be teaching him/her some valuable skills they’ll need as adults.
My favorite part about a toddler learning his independence is the pride we both experience when he is capable of doing something on his own.
[tweetthis]5 things you can let your #toddler do when he’s proclaiming his independence #toddlermom [/tweetthis]
Both my kids really enjoy helping mommy with chores. I know this phase won’t last. One day, they’ll be grouchy teenagers who’ll roll their eyes at me when I suggest they complete their chores. For now, though, I encourage their independence by giving them age-appropriate chores. I have a wonderful list of easy toddler chores that not only promote toddler independence, but help teach them responsibility.
Bonus: Including children in daily chores allows mom to get more done and can be a bonding activity.
Allow them to dress or undress themselves
My son loves putting on and taking off his own socks, but he’s had trouble with the process. For Christmas I purchased EZ Sox, which have loops to help him pull on his socks more easily. This has reduced the frustration he’s experienced with being unable to put on socks. Now, he’s generally able to put on and take off his own socks. Plus, he learned to take off his jacket about the same time. Wardrobe meltdowns are fewer now that he’s found more independence.
Bonus tip: Allow your tot to try something before offering assistance. When you see him/her struggling, ask if he/she would like help..
Give them choices
When feasible, give your toddler (appropriate) choices. In order to combat some feeding issues, I allow my toddler to choose what he wants for lunch. This isn’t a free-for-all, however. I usually stick to two options that I’m willing make (like turkey or grilled cheese sandwich). I may even let him choose sides (fruit or berries). I maintain control of a semi-healthy toddler lunch, while still giving him some independent control over what he’s willing to eat. Unless he’s stuck in irrational toddler mode, this often means I don’t have to deal with a tantrum over having made the wrong lunch.
Bonus tip: Choices can be extended to books, outfit selection, or an activity you’re willing to do. Giving choices reduces tantrums.
Toddler independence – self feeding with EZPZ mini mat in gray
As a mom of two kids, I understand our desire to have clean hands and faces. But, more often than not, food struggles have risen out of my kids’ desires to feed themselves. I’ve had to let go of the notion that we’re walking away from the table as clean as we came to it. If your child expresses an interest in self-feeding, let them do so in whatever way they’re comfortable. Encourage the use of utensils, but if your toddler wants to pick up food by hand, don’t fight them. You don’t want to further promote any reason for your child to become a picky eater.
Bonus tip: Offer food cut in cute shapes using a FunBites food cutter to make food easier to pick up. Serve on an EZPZ mat which may help food stay on a plate instead of on the table.
I don’t know about your kids, but both of mine have loved washing their hands and brushing their teeth. Encourage your toddler’s independence when they express an interest in any personal health activity. Make sure your children are exposed to your own personal hygiene routines so they know this is a grown up activity they need to do.
Bonus tip: Have a step stool in the room(s) they’ll be brushing their teeth and washing hands the most.
What are some of your favorite ways to encourage your toddler’s independence?
When you’re ready to teach toddler independence and responsibility, come up with chores for a toddler and check out these free toddler chore chart printables.
When my daughter was a toddler, I began having her do chores. Mainly, I wanted to give her some direction during the day, aside from the simple home preschool things we were trying to do. I’d realized early on that the busier I kept her, the better her attitude was.
She was always asking to help mommy and I needed to be able to get work done while she was awake. Admittedly, I struggled with starting her on chores because I spent a lot of time worried about them getting done right. Once I let go of the notion that things would be perfect, I realized how much better we were working together. I was spending time with my daughter while getting things done. Plus, I was teaching her responsibility and independence as a toddler, which was a bonus.
Having her working on chores allowed me to keep my house clean while bonding with my toddler and teaching her responsibility.
After you decide on chores for your toddler, the next thing to do is create a chart to track their successes. Don’t want to do the work? Check out these free toddler chore chart printables instead.
Why the Ecocentric Mom Subscription Box is the best gift for a new or expectant mama. It’s also perfect for any mom who just doesn’t have time to do all the healthy shopping she wants, but still wants the best for her baby or bump!
I value non-toxic products greatly. But, I haven’t always been that way.
When I began our new lives with a new baby 6 years ago, I was catapulted into a downward spiral of health issues. I never had the chance to experience autoimmunity or motherhood without the other. Just as I’m learning to be a mother to our new baby, I was also learning how to battle a whole uncharted world of autoimmune and sudden food intolerances. Even my new baby girl had issues processing dairy.
Since then, I’ve become more used to both parts of my life. I even decided to go on and have our second baby, who was born at the end of 2015. Though, the reality of my motherhood journey looks nothing like what I’d ever envisioned. I lack energy and I’m constantly battling my body from kicking it’s own tush.
My motherhood journey directly coincides with my health journey. Some moms want to start their new babies’ lives off with non-toxic products. I was that pregnant mom. And then, I became the autoimmune mom that had to reduce toxins in the household, not just for her babies, but for herself. That’s why I’m really happy to have teamed up with Ecocentric Mom, who provided me with an Ecocentric Mom box. All opinions expressed here are my own.
The Ecocentric Mom Subscription Box is a wonderful resource for someone like me. I get eco-friendly, non-toxic products for myself and my two-year-old delivered straight to my door. But, this isn’t just about me. It’s about all moms and why you need to gift this subscription box to a friend, a love one, and maybe even yourself! Plus, if you scroll to the end, I’ve got a sweet exclusive coupon code for you to use!
Why The Ecocentric Mom Subscription Box Makes a Great Gift
Whether or not you’re into the whole crunchy-mom thing, you can probably agree that, as moms, we like to think we’re taking the best care of our babies. And, you may even agree that we should be taking better care of ourselves. Knowing what I know now, I sure wished I’d taken better care of myself before I brought children into the world. Which brings me to why the Ecocentric Mom Subscription Box is the perfect gift for a new or expecting mama (or even one who’s kids are toddlers).
Customized to the recipient
You can gift this eco-friendly discovery box to moms in many stages of motherhood. Ecocentric Mom offers subscriptions for:
Mom and Bump
Mom and Baby
Mom and Little
The recipient would simply enter their baby’s due date or birth date in the required fields. Plus, they can further customize their subscription box based on the gender of their baby. Unknown is even an option if they’re team green (choosing not to find out their gender until birth).
Since the subscription boxes only go up to children about the age of 4, I couldn’t include my 6 year old daughter in this. So, I chose the mom and little box for myself and my 2 year old.
Eco-friendly products delivered
Once you become a parent, you quickly realize time will never again be on your side. That song “Time is on my Side” just came flying to me as I said that … and I didn’t want to be the only one with it stuck in my head, so that’s my gift to you *wink*.
A N Y W A Y
Between constantly feeding babies, shuttling the kids back and forth to school, doctor’s appointments, and soccer practice, myself to doctor’s appointments, and the myriad of blogging and house duties, time is elusive. That’s just me with 2 kids.
I remember back when my littles were new and I was also figuring out how to be a mom, how to breastfeed, and how to cook dinner with a little one attached to me in some way. My son nursed like a champ. He nursed so much that he never lost the initial weight in the first week that most babies lose. In his first week, he gained weight. You wanna talk about not having time? Having a hungry boy latched almost constantly really took a toll on my energy and ate away (no pun intended) at the time I could have been doing other things.
Aside from working around schedules, new moms have to pack up humongous diaper bags, extra clothes, and remember ALL. THE. THINGS. with 2.5 hours of broken sleep. And what if her new discovery in-store didn’t work out? Either waste more time to return or waste money if you can’t find someone to take it off your hands. Not to mention, dealing with a crying newborn mid-shop is not the least bit fun. I can’t even tell you how many times I forget things or totally grab the wrong thing because I was distracted by one of the littles having a meltdown in the store.
Yep, I’m done with going out to shop.
I like discovering new organic and non-toxic products, but at this juncture, having things delivered is just about the only way to go. I know it’s not the only way to go, but it sure has become my favorite. As a first-time mom or mom with the new second baby, I would have killed to be able to discover fabulous new products without leaving the house.
While you’re at it, check out my terrible Ecocentric Mom Subscription Box unboxing, when I first learn what products were included in this delivery.
In each Ecocentric Mom subscription box, you’re guaranteed to get at least one self-care item. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you probably know self-care is really important to me. In fact, it’s one of this mom’s major goals in 2018. At the very least, I wanted to take a few minutes every day to take care of myself, even if it was simply doing a face cleanse and moisturizing.
As a first-time mom, I struggled with taking the time I needed for myself. But, this year, I’ve gotten so much better about scheduling my days off ahead of time.
I’m willing to bet, however, that the person you gift this subscription box to (especially if they’re a first-time mom) is going to need the reminder to take a few minutes to focus on themselves. And this can come in the form of a subtle reminder when it’s already included in their subscription!
In my box, I received a bottle of organic, handmade perfume from Gypsy Soul and a bottle of Glow Up Milk nourishing face mist from Rose Affinity.
An eco-friendly item is included to care for your home. Conventional home cleaning products are filled with all sorts of toxins. It’s taken me 6 years to filter through my products and find non-toxic versions I like. Honestly, I’m still searching for suitable replacements.
Having something practical, like this, delivered in the Ecocentric Mom subscription box is a wonderful idea!
In my box, I received Toilet Tablets by Stacey Ogden’s Homemade. These smelled amazing and deodorized the bathroom while cleaning the toilet at the same time!
Something for Baby or Bump
You’ll get at least one item perfectly matched to a current milestone in your pregnancy or your child’s development.
Because my son is two, we receive toddler-friendly items. Our box included Effortless Art Crayons by Two Sparrows Learning Systems and Tiny Tummies by Love Bug Probiotics. I personally take probiotics and started my daughter on them this year. She didn’t get sick over the winter, unlike last year, so I’m really excited to try probiotics for my son (who doesn’t get sick often).
Additionally, my toddler son just recently began expressing an interest in coloring, so I’m really excited for him to try these crayons out.
Ecocentric mom lists this as something to enjoy (or share). We’re moms … we know whatever food we have is never ours unless we’ve mastered the art of hiding our stash in a closet and sneaking away. Even if you think you’ve got it mastered, those little ears can hear a wrapper a mile away.
Thankfully, you know whatever yummy treat is included in the box is going to be a healthier product you won’t actually mind giving your little ones (assuming they’re capable of eating).
Do me a favor, will ya? Can you try to remember how hard those first few months (or years) are for moms? Think about that and get her an Ecocentric Mom Subscription Box so she can discover a world of organic, non-toxic, non-gmo products from small businesses without having to leave the house.
As promised, now that you’re ready to subscribe to the Ecocentric Mom Subscription Box, be sure to use this coupon code, SAHM7, for $7 off your purchase. Plus, the longer your subscription, the larger the discount you get directly from Ecocentric Mom, so you’ll bulk up on savings!
I think you’ll agree, Ellie Explorer is a great show for your kids because she offers education and fun in one package. I share 4 reasons we love watching Ellie Explorer.
For 2018, I decided I was going to do a home preschool experience for my toddler, similar to what I had done with my first, who is now 6. The trouble I had in preparing his curriculum was that I had no idea how to make educating him more of a physical activity than what I did with S. You see, B is a very active toddler who rarely sits down to read and takes about 2.5 seconds to scribble on paper. Unlike his sister, he has very little attention span for worksheets and sitting. It’s even a major challenge visiting the library for story time with this toddler.
But, I was determined to teach B, like I had done with S. I just needed to get creative about how I was going to get educational messages through to an active kid, such as himself.
I perused WildBrain’s site and found quite a few shows I found interesting. As my son napped over the course of a couple days, I sat watching a few of the shows to find one I thought the kids would like. My main objective was to find an entertaining and educational show that would grab my toddler’s attention. I specifically needed something really upbeat to keep him from getting mad that I wasn’t showing his usual favorite.
Last year, while attending a blog conference, I met a representative at Wild Brain. I’d never heard of it before then. Come to find out, it’s a cool YouTube channel offering tons of your little one’s favorite shows for FREE right on the web. Now, the funny thing is, my daughter had been watching a couple of these shows and I hadn’t even realized it until I began scouring YouTube for shows for my youngest. Ellie Explorer hooked me, unlike many shows I find online! I’ve partnered with WildBrain to share all the reasons we love watching Ellie Explorer. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.
While both kids were home one morning, I turned on Ellie, quite to the dismay of my son, initially. But, her bright bubbly personality grabbed him as quickly as it had done with me. Even my 6 year old watched rather intently, occasionally repeating something to her brother to make sure he was paying attention.
The next thing I knew, they were both so enthralled, I was able to leave the room and have a few minutes to myself. I’ve since used Ellie Explorer as a means to help me with several problems.
4 Ways Ellie is More than Just Silly Fun
This is one of our favorite shows, especially for the toddler. She helps our little one focus on colors and spells some of the words for an extra boost of education.
Learning games for kids | ABCD | #TodayILearned with Ellie Explorer | Educational Videos for Kids - YouTube
For some of our home preschool learning with B, I know I have to mix up the way information reaches him. Because of his short attention span, I need to constantly change up how educational facts and messages are delivered to him. He loves watching TV shows and I’ve never been one to want my kids to watch those that don’t have some kind of educational value to offer. Ellie Explorer is good because she delivers knowledge to my kids in a really fun and engaging environment.
I don’t know of many little kids who don’t love most animals. Do you? The cool part about Ellie Explorer is that she shows real life animals and some animated ones. Both are highly appreciated by the kids.
Just the other week, we were learning about the jungle. For part of the morning, I switched on Ellie Explorer and had him watch an episode about monkeys, since they’re one of the animals you find in a jungle. He was able to watch them in their habitats and hear their sounds.
One of my son’s favorite things to do is count. Very often, Ellie counts in her videos and my son really loves that.
Ellie Explorer encourages movement during videos. She uses large motions, sounds, and songs to get kids moving. To be honest, as I struggle with my energy, I’m quite pleased that Ellie is so upbeat and active. She’s really engaging, which is something little ones need to hold their attention. My 2 year old definitely doesn’t have the attention span I’d like, so anything that can get, and keep, his attention for even a few minutes, like Ellie can, is a blessing!
Especially during moments I use Ellie Explorer videos as part of a preschool morning activity, I’ll sit with my son and do the activities or try to sing along with him and Ellie. We have fun making animal noises and learning to count (or even spell) together.
A quiet break for mom
I can’t lie! Sometimes I just need a few minutes away from the kid(s) to either take a minute to myself or get something done around the house. I love when I hear “Eyyie” in my little guy’s tiny excited voice. I love that she captures his attention quickly and I can rush out to take care of whatever it is I need to for a few minutes. It’s a great feeling knowing he’s entertained (and learning), instead of trailing behind me seeking to be held.
In the real life interview with Eleanor, the presenter for Ellie Explorer, she says it takes “high energy” to be a good presenter. She couldn’t be more right! I’ve noticed, over the years, that when a show or story time teller doesn’t have enough energy, they lose my children’s interest. Thankfully, Ellie doesn’t have this problem. That’s why I can rely on her to give me a couple minutes to regroup or present a topic to my little one when I need a break.
And the best part is, there are TONS of videos to watch, including special holiday episodes. This means there’s something fun for many interests.
So far, the kids really get a kick out of the Llama Song, too! As usual, Ellie Explorer is energetic and entertaining.
Learning for Kids | LLAMA SONG | ABC - Animals - Colors | Learning for kids - Ellie Explorer - YouTube
I know many of us feel compelled to limit our children’s screen-time. I used to be that mom. But, after having a second kid, I really struggle with my energy. Screen time with the few shows I approve of sometimes is just a necessary evil. I love that I can add Ellie Explorer to our routine knowing the kids aren’t sitting around watching fluff. Instead they’re learning. And, that I approve of something that even the picky toddler wants to watch is amazing!
Ellie Explorer is now one of our favorite shows to watch when I want a break or when I want to focus on a specific area of education with our toddler.
Did you know January is Get Organized Month? Are you wondering how to start organizing your home? Use these tips to help you organize for January or all year long.
January has been quite the month around here. I don’t know about you guys, but it’s been busier than any normal January and it all started in November.
Yes, you read that right. I just mean that we started our busy season in November and it didn’t stop. Nearly every weekend was taken up with some activity or other. Thanksgiving, birthdays, Christmases, and reclaiming days solely dedicated to my mental health.
Every November, we reclaim our formal dining room in order to accommodate guests as we now host Thanksgiving every year. I decided last year I would cook a Thanksgiving meal solely for the purpose of filling my belly with gluten and dairy free EVERYTHING. It’s the one holiday that made me miss not having sudden food allergies and I absolutely hated watching everyone else eat Turkey, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin pie. So, Thanksgiving is the one holiday I force people to eat allergy friendly food. And, I get to leave the table unbuttoning my pants from the sweet satisfaction of overindulging (for a change).
But, I digress.
My point was we spend the first couple weeks of November cleaning out the formal dining room, which, in the course of a year, becomes our catch-all rooms for deliveries, boxes of toys the kids didn’t bother to open at Christmas or birthdays, boxes of crap we intend to donate, and random odds and ends we just don’t have a designated place for. I literally call that first part of November the reclaiming of the dining room.
By the time Christmas is over, everything gets stuffed in the dining room again for us to go back through it at our leisure. The sad part is, we’re always so busy and have so much stuff that we don’t typically get through it all. This past year, in fact, about half the kids’ gifts were still piled up in a corner of the room. They never opened the presents.
This year, however, we’ve managed to somewhat keep the dining room usable, though it’s still a staging area for donations, trash nights, and reorganization projects.
I thought I was going to be clever and call January “organization month,” but apparently get organized month already exists in the month of January.
So what made January different this year?
For starters, we did the annual reclaiming of the dining room, just as we do every year. I loved it so much, that I’ve been making sure to keep up with breaking down shipping boxes and trashing or recycling regularly.
Within several days of all the December gift-giving events, we homed most of the toys. Thankfully, the grandparents went easy on the number of gifts and we used the 4 gift rule to help cut down on the number of items we had to find room for.
Now, one of the major things that prompted all this organization was having received a Cricut Maker for Christmas. This meant we had to turn our mess of an office into usable office and craft space. Hubby had to clean up his 3D printing area and better organize those supplies so that we could make room for crafting supplies.
About the same time, my daughter made heavy use of existing craft supplies on Winter Break. Though she happily “crafts” quietly most of the time, she’s not very thrifty. She blew through a ream of paper, a pack of felt, and a couple packs of chenille stems, just to name a few. The kids’ craft supply cart was nearly emptied, despite my many pleas to cut down on waste. So, I had to move the craft cart out of the playroom into a storage closet, requiring total reorganization of yet another area of the home.
How to Start Organizing Your Home
Making room for new items isn’t easy when you don’t have room for items you already own. There’s only so much shuffling you can do with 20 years of stuff you’ve collected in your adult life. And I have more from my childhood and teen years.
This year though, it was time for a change! These are the things I did to reorganize every room in our house. And, I recommend these steps if you’re reading to start organizing your home, at time of the year.
If I haven’t used it in a year (or more), the item when into one of 3 piles. Good items generally went into the SELL pile. When selling online, if it didn’t sell within a week, it went into the donation pile.
I put it in my mind that I didn’t have any time to sit on items any longer. The year it sat there unused was long enough and I wasn’t wasting any more time holding on to it “just in case”…
Bonus tip: Free up space in your closets by eliminating clothing that no longer fits or haven’t been worn in the last year.
I’ve been given some pretty nice items over the last couple years, but some people just have me all wrong. So, I’ve got these things I just hate and I hang on to them because I feel bad. But, I shouldn’t, should I? That’s part of the reason we have things without a place in our house … because we just don’t need (or want it) and we’re hanging on to it because it was given to us.
Eff that! Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you don’t know someone who would. Re-gift those nice items and make someone else’s day and help clean up some extra room in your house!
Write organization efforts on a to-do list
A to-do list (or an app) will be handy to keep you on track. Like goals, you’re more likely to complete tasks if you have them on a list to check off. Keep yourself accountable and remember the details with a to-do list.
The to-do list on my phone reminds me of all my necessary to-do items in one place, including my organizing efforts. Using a to-do list allows me to keep up with my housekeeping schedule and a calendar app keeps my family schedule organized too.
Put stuff away as soon as possible
I told myself to find a home for almost everything within 2 days after receiving it. Additionally, my formal dining room was not going to be the storage room for the kids unused toys. They have an upstairs playroom with a large bookshelf that now holds unopened boxes of toys, which I’ll use throughout the year when their love wanes from their current favorites.
This mentality filtered down to any orders we were receiving. On my end, I made it a point to put things away as quickly as possible.
Buy New Stuff
Here’s the craft room in the beginning stages of organzing
Boy, that’s a weird thing to say! Well, that’s the truth. Turns out buying things to actually help organize went a long way in actually getting it done. New shelves and designated storage options for specific items was very helpful. In the craft room, we placed storage shelves in the odd-shaped closet for craft supplies. We bought under-the-bed storage bins for clothes that originally were stored in large bins. If something wasn’t in a “home” we made sure it had one.
These are the new shelves bought for organizing the craft room closet
The thing about January is that we were committed to getting the house organized. But, we hadn’t been motivated to get organized until we realized we had no more room to place the things we bought or received in December. We were tired of having to shuffle things around in order to use a space, then shuffle it back when we needed to use a different area of the house.
Aside from organizing the house, I also became motivated to organize the family schedule again, including scheduling time for myself and making sure my to-do list was up to date. I needed to keep up with my housekeeping schedule and remind myself of any special items I wanted to accomplish as part of my 2018 goals.
Will you use these tips to help you organize your home this year?
What other tips do you have for helping others organize their homes?
It’s time to think of yourself beyond mom roles, but maybe you don’t know what to do. Get some inspiration from this big list of hobbies for stay at home moms.
Get a job! Wait, no that’s not what I want to write about. Today, I want to encourage you to get a hobby. As a stay at home mom and blogger, I’m bogged down in the day to day activities and needs of everyone else. From the moment I wake up, I’m busy filling cups, making food and wiping butts. I look off into the distance, longingly, as my coffee mug sits half full, turning ice cold. (I’m having to learn to love iced coffee, even if it wasn’t an intentional beverage). If I get to finish my own breakfast without sharing even the tiniest bite, I’m lucky. And if I get to drink an entire cup of coffee while it’s fresh and hot, I’ve hit the jackpot!
Nothing about SAHM life is remotely selfish. But, I need some “selfish” time. BADLY!
Once a month, I get out with my husband to Autocross. It’s NOT enough time away from the kids, but I love sharing this hobby with my spouse. This year, I’m going to be learning how to use my new Cricut Maker, because I needed something else to enjoy at least once a week.
And, I totally recommend all stay at home moms getting a hobby. Spend some time solely devoted to yourself and building a new skill or doing something you already love.
And most importantly, choose something you’ll actually love, regardless of what you believe others will think of it! Hobbies for moms isn’t a one size fit all situation because we’re so unique! It took me a long time to settle into a hobby that I really loved because I didn’t think it was “appropriate for a stay at home mom”. What would others think of me? You know what? I’m on fire when I do what I love. If someone doesn’t agree with my hobby, we’re obviously not suited for each other. And that’s totally okay! Finding a hobby you’re truly passionate about will bring the people into your life that should be there.
Remember, I just wrote about Accepting That This Is The Mom I Became? Part of that acceptance was recognizing my love for something specific and letting go of the notions that doing what others view as acceptable moms practices just wasn’t working for me.
Do what you love! Need some ideas? Check out this big list of hobbies for stay at home moms!
But remember, if your new income earning “hobby” adds stress and isn’t as “fun” as a hobby, you’ll still need to build in time do do a hobby solely for your enjoyment! The key is to find a more enjoyable balance between your to-do list and your “I like to do” list.