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You and Me + 3

When I met my husband, I was blown away. “He is perfect.” I told my mom. There are a couple of other things you need to know though. He is divorced, has 3 kids, and is 10 years older than me…I know. A lot to swallow especially coming from her 18 year old daughter. Needless to say, she was speechless and my dad was not happy at all.This guy was so perfect, I didn’t care at all. In fact, a week after meeting him I moved from Texas to Washington D.C. So I became insta-mom. FAST.

family

Being a stepmom is no piece of cake. It is hard work. It is probably the most challenging thing I have ever experienced.  I don’t think any woman ever dreams up a fairy tale of being a stepmom. The same goes for marriage. Nobody gets married with the intention of it ending in divorce. It has been almost 7 years since we met and here are some key points I have learned during my time so far as being a stepmom to 3 kids.

  • Leave the discipline to their dad. This is tough to learn and respect. I will never be their ‘mom’ and I shouldn’t try to be. When we first met, I would try to discipline the kids and the outcome was laughable. Who are you to discipline me? We just met you! Believe me when I say this, Leave it to their dad! If something comes up where the kids need discipline, tell the dad and let him handle it. (At least in the beginning.) Once your relationship grows, the kids will learn to respect you and your rules.                           (more…)

Traveling with a Toddler

Traveling a far distance with a toddler can be a daunting experience. After having taken my one year-old on several cross-country flights and a week-long road trip, I felt it would be nice to share some of our successes and failures in case there are any parents out there who are gearing up to bravely take their little ones on their first big trip.

mom baby place

As far as places to stay go, I can’t stress enough how much more convenient it is to find a hotel that either offers suites with a kitchenette, which is ideal, or a room that has a refrigerator. Your toddler is going to need somewhere for their milk and other perishable snacks and food. This is beyond difficult to deal with when you are limited to ice machines and coolers. Having experienced both options, I would gladly pay a few extra dollars for the luxury of the refrigerator amenity.

When it comes to flying, there are some things to consider. We have successfully maneuvered our baby boy through long flights and flights with layovers. There are benefits to both depending on what kind of kid you have. A flight with layover gives you the opportunity to stretch your legs and take a break from the plane atmosphere. A direct flight makes for a much shorter day of travel. While a layover can be a nice break, it can also make for a super long day because switching planes takes an hour at least.

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Bed Time For Baby

by Tara on April 25, 2013
category: 0 – 1 year (baby),1 – 3 year (toddler),Children’s Health

Consistency is key for most endeavors where children are concerned, bedtime is no exception. When it comes to getting your little one to sleep, you will want to make a routine that both of you will love and stick to every night. Although I can not guarantee this will make a seamless transition into slumber all the time, I can say that your child will be cozy in bed at roughly the same time every evening, which makes for a happier mommy and baby in the morning.

baby sleeping

Every child is different, of course, but it is widely excepted that young children should be put to bed around seven and eight PM. This was a natural time for my baby boy to go to bed, in fact, putting him to bed any later usually gets me wrestling with a grumpy bear throughout our entire routine. Your routine can be anything that works for your family, but I would like to share what works for us.

We usually start to wind down around one hour before our boy needs to go to sleep. We cut out anything that is super stimulating like his noisy toys in an effort to get him somewhat calmed as we transition into his bedtime routine. Even though, by now, our son knows what to expect, we also talk him through the separate events in the routine. For example, we might tell him, “Now we will have dinner and then we will take a bath.” That way once we are done with dinner, there is no surprise about having to get in the bath.

If both of us are home during bedtime, one of us will prepare his bath and bed while our baby finishes his dinner, otherwise, we carry him along with us and as said before, we tell him what we are doing while we do it. After bath, we take baby to his changing table for a fresh diaper. We often time give him a little lotion massage before putting on his pajamas. We also use a noise machine to create a background sound that cancels out any noises that may be happening in our house or neighborhood, not everyone is in on our bedtime routine, so we have to make due.

Our son has favorite stories that we read nearly every night. As he has grown, we make reading more interactive by asking him to point out characters in the book or show us colors as we read. It is fun and an easy way to work on his vocabulary during these precious moments. Our boy also enjoys a small sippy cup of milk while we read and relax into bedtime.

Once the story is over, we turn down the lights and get into our cuddle positions. Our family has adopted a co-sleeping method. Our son shares a family bed with us. It might not be for everyone, but we enjoy this closeness. From here we hand deliver our little one to dreamland by laying with him until he drifts off. We sometimes sing or hum to him as he fights his last attempts to stay awake.

This routine takes about an hour start to finish and with any luck, he goes to sleep without any cranky fussing. On a good day, this is still my favorite time with him. I love to catch a look at his angelic face as he slips into sleep, it is just about the best feeling in the world.

Considerations About Day Care

For many moms, there comes a time when when choosing a day care is part of the parenting process.  Whatever the reason, it is not an easy decision.  It can be a very stressful time because you are choosing the place where your sweet child will spend the better part of many days.  As a former infant/toddler, twos, and preschool teacher, I have found myself giving friends and family advice when they are on their quest to find the best center for their child.  There are a few things I always stress when having this talk and I would like to share some of those things with you in this article.

parents 7.04.00 PM

One thing that shocks most new parents is the high sticker price for child care.  It is especially expensive for infants and toddlers.  It is tempting to shop around for the best price, but you may be making sacrifices that aren’t apparent when you choose a less expensive day care.  Centers that charge less have a smaller budget to run their business.  Since it is a business, after all, you will find that these facilities go to great lengths to cut costs in order to keep their business profitable.  This doesn’t mean that it is necessarily a bad place, but you will find that they are most likely striving to meet legal requirements and not much more.

For example, an infant/toddler ratio is four babies to one teacher/caregiver.  Two-year-old children have a legal ratio of one teacher to twelve students.  Depending on your experience with children, you may or may not realize that these legal requirements are quite a bare minimum.  Twelve two-year-olds are A LOT of two-year-olds! As are four infants to one caregiver.  I am not claiming it is an impossible situation, but when you consider the type of care and attention your child gets when they are one-on-one with mom and dad,  they are definitely going to get less personalized care when the ratio goes up.

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Getting Out of the House Quicker

If you’re anything like me, getting the kids moving before school is exhausting. From the moment the alarm goes off, I feel like a drill sergeant telling them to stop talking, quit day dreaming, or hurry up and finish eating. It’s a true nightmare just to get them to school on-time and for me to face my morning commute to work.

organized mama

Although not fool-proof, recently I’ve found some things that have helped our family come closer to an overall successful track record (with less yelling on my part ).

  • Verify the next days weather and lay out clothes the night before. My pre-teen daughter is notorious for last minute wardrobe changes, so she prepares two outfits to choose from.
  • For breakfast, I actually have the bowls and spoons out/ready to go, along with oatmeal packets or their preferred brand of cold cereal. That way, when they come downstairs, they can choose which they’d like, and I simply heat some water up or grab the refrigerated milk (along with their gummy vitamin).
  • Backpacks are now neatly placed by the door to just grab on the way out to the car. They used to be scattered wherever homework was completed just yesterday.
  • Another trick is to set their bedroom clocks for 5-10 minutes earlier than the actual time. This helps settle them into bed earlier the night before and those “extra” minutes can be spent perfecting their hairstyle of the day, swapping out matching accessories, or getting that tank of gas you were too tired to stop for after work the other day.

I hope some of these tips allow you to maximize your morning routine (if not be a lesson to your children on organization and structure). What are some of the things you do to get out the door faster in the morning?

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