Parenting

6 Ways your Toddler can Help with Laundry

6 ways your toddler can help with laundry

Toddlers love to help out around the house. One area that is easy for them to help with is laundry. Laundry can be one of those tasks that can feel quite mundane. However, with the help of a toddler it can go from a chore to an exciting new adventure. Below are 6 ways your toddler can help with laundry. Teaching children at a young age to participate in housekeeping can build skills, grow independence, and keep them entertained.

 Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

Filling Laundry Baskets

The first task that Little One can help with when starting laundry is filling up the laundry baskets. He takes the clothing that is in the hamper and puts it in the basket to be taken to the washing machine. This is done with varying degrees of success – some days Little One throws the laundry around more then them ending up in the basket. When this happens I try to turn it into a game where we toss the clothes in like a mini game of basketball! I am going to include a couple links to some laundry baskets made of natural materials. Check out this wicker one, a jumbo wicker one, and this cotton rope one. They are all great options.

Pushing Laundry Baskets

This is Little One’s favorite task when it comes to laundry. He gets to push the laundry baskets across the floor and toward the laundry room. We pretend that they are cars or trains that go zooming down the hallway. This is a really physical task and makes Little One feel really strong. It is also a great task for developing gross motor skills.

Loading Dryer

This is a great activity if you have a front loading dryer. I’ll hand whatever item needs to be dried to Little One and he will toss it into the dryer. It’s really simple but keeps him involved and stops him from wandering around in the laundry room and getting into mischief. This is great for smaller items like socks but can be challenging for larger items, such as sheets.

Adding Laundry Detergent

If you use liquid or powdered laundry detergent, I would not recommend letting your Little One help with this. However, we recently switched to these great zero waste laundry strips that just tear off and get thrown into the drum. It is so easy for Little One to throw it into the washer. We also have a glass top, so he can watch the clothes spinning for a bit. We are all about the cheep thrills!

Take Items off Drying Rack

Little One loves taking clothes off the drying racks. It works best when they are smaller items, like his clothes or his cloth diapers. This activity allows him to reach and bend while taking the clothes off the rack and putting them in the laundry bin.

Help with Hangers

The last activity I do with Little One is hanging up the clothes. We do this one of two ways. I’ll stand by the closet and put a pile of hangers on the floor. He will hand me one and I’ll put a shirt on it and hang it in the closet. The other is if my hubby helps. I’ll put a shirt on a hanger and hand it to Little One, who will bring it over to my hubby who will hang it in the closet.

Does this process take a lot longer than if I were to do laundry on my own? Yes, it does. But Little One enjoys helping me so much that it makes it all worth it!

These activities are easy to keep Little One engaged and out of trouble when I need to get chores done.

Do you have any other tips on how your children help out with the laundry? Let me know in the comments below!

Little One Birth Story

When things don'e go as planned a emergency c-section birth story

I remember when I was pregnant, I would read birth story after birth story to help me prepare for what was to come. Everyone’s story is so different and beautiful. I thought I would share my own unique story and experience.

To anyone who is family or friends who don’t want to know the coming details about labor, I suggest you turn back now. For those of you who are reading birth stories to prepare for your own. I will try to ride the fine line between sugar coating and sharing.

Pregnancy

I was extremely pleased to find myself having a relatively easy pregnancy. I had some nausea but not much morning sickness in the first trimester. In the beginning of the second trimester, I found myself spending days wondering if I was still pregnant because I couldn’t feel kicks yet and was feeling so much better. The third trimester brought on the usual aches and pains but altogether went okay.

I have read and heard about expectant moms being sick all the way through. However, I wanted to put out to the universe that some pregnancies are not too bad. I did experience many changes (as you do with pregnancy) but it was all manageable.

Little One Coming

I went into labor three days before my due date and we started on Little One’s birth story. I was brushing my teeth, getting ready to go to work at 7:30 in the morning. Having just used the facilities, I felt my water break and there was a moment where I thought maybe I didn’t do a good enough job. That was not the case, my water broke! I then spent the next 30 minutes on the toilet with water coming in small gushes. Every time I though it was done, a little bit more would come.

During this time I yelled for my husband. He was fast asleep but woke with a start. He said that there was something in the tone of my voice when I said “honey” that he knew it was time. My husband worked on gathering our bags and getting the car ready to go. I asked him to lay a towel on the seat, due to us having a 45 minute drive to the hospital.

I first called the hospital and told them what was going on. It had been my plan to labor for a while at home. With my water breaking it changed those plans. Due to the risk of infection my doctor wanted to come to the hospital right away. At this point I did not feel any contractions.

I also called my work and my mom to tell them it was time. After loading up with pads we headed to the hospital!

Baby Hand

At the Hospital

Being that I went into labor during business hours, we parked in the parking ramp and walked to the labor and delivery floor. If I had when into labor after hours I would have had to enter through the emergency room. We got all signed in and were shown to a room.

I had a very helpful nurse who just happened to go to school with my husband (small world!). She got me all set with the monitors, checked little one’s heart rate, and gave me wrist bands (maybe six of them all together, but I’m assuming they were all necessary).

The doctor came in to check me over. Only one centimeter…I had a long way to go! For those of you not in the know, you need to reach 10 centimeters before pushing. I was given a medication to help the contractions along. At that point I still wasn’t feeling them too bad. I spent the next several hours contracting. I used the exercise ball and the bath to ease some of the contractions. Also, I depended on my husband for support and back rubs. I know some people don’t like being touched at all, but for me it felt good.

At some point in the afternoon, they checked on me again. Only two centimeters this time. The doctor increased the medication and boy, did the contractions start coming then. I also then made use of the laughing gas (nitrous oxide). When I first started using the laughing gas it was very helpful. A couple of hours in, though, I found that it wasn’t working well and I forgot to do the correct breathing. However, at that point I had been in labor for hours and hours and couldn’t really think straight.

Bring on the Epidural

Around 1 in the morning I finally had enough. I had rolling contractions for hours and was in a good amount of pain. I was also exhausted. At this point I also had been in labor for 18 hours, so I asked for an epidural. Unfortunately the nurses told me that I had to take in a whole bag of IV fluid before I could get the epidural. But the anesthesiologist came eventually and I did get the epidural. It was magnificent! I wished I would have gotten it hours earlier. The pain dissipated almost immediately and I was able to lay down and rest a bit.

During that time the nurse checked things over again, checked the baby’s heart rate, and inserted the catheter. I was barely aware that she was doing all of this. I do recall her turning me from side to side, trying to get a better read on baby’s heart rate. It was a bit sporadic. My husband also took this opportunity to lay down and rest a bit.

Emergency C-Section

While I was being turned from side to side, the nurse also got the doctor because Little One;s heart rate was dipping. He needed to come now! The doctor checked me again – only 2 centimeters (if you have been adding this up we are at over 20 hours of labor and only reached 2 centimeters). So off to surgery we went. My husband later told me he literally woke up to the word C-section.

At 4 something in the morning my room became really busy with doctors and extra nurses getting things ready to go. I don’t remember a whole lot, but I remember being scared, scared for my baby, and just hoping it would be alright. I was also scared about surgery however I remember being shaky as they wheeled my bed down the hall and into an elevator. They then brought me into an operating room and got things ready. The anesthesiologist checked my epidural and gave me something to help with my nausea…it didn’t work. They put a curtain up at about shoulder level on me and got my husband outfitted in disposable medical gear. They gave him a chair and he was able to sit next to me throughout the ordeal.

The team was amazing and got Little One out very quickly at 4:39 am. The doctor did tell us that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. This could be the reason that I was not dilating at all. I remember they were holding him over the curtain so I could see and they took him and my husband over to their station to check Little One over. It took them a bit longer to close things back up. I remember being really cold and shaking.

Little One Birth Story
(Stock photo)

Recovery

When they finished me up, they moved me off the operating table and back onto my bed. They handed me Little One and wheeled me to the recovery room.

We were in the recovery room for about an hour, where we then started skin to skin contact. I don’t remember if they had me start trying to feed him at this time or if we waited until we were back in the room. In the room with us was my nurse who was with me throughout and another nurse who was doing paperwork. Again, I’m a little foggy here but I believe he took out my epidural and gave me some pain medications, as well. My nurse also gave me heated blankets at this time. As I said before I was shaking and cold in the operating room so the blankets were awesome!

They wheeled me up to my room and got me all settled in. We spent the next three days in the hospital, learning about our new Little One and how to nurse. It wasn’t going well until a nurse said that he might be tongue tied. Sure enough, he was. A pediatrician came and did a short procedure to clip the tie. After a little recovery time Little One latched on like a champ.

Little One

The emergency c-section was a bit of an ordeal. As I mentioned a couple times throughout the post, some of the details are a bit fuzzy to me. It’s true what they say that the body has a way of making you forget. My husband and I are so overjoyed with his arrival and couldn’t be more in love with him.

So 21 hours from start to finish and ending in an emergency C-section. It definitely didn’t go as planned, but thanks to the amazing team at St. Luke’s Hospital we welcomed a beautiful little boy into our hearts and both of us are doing fine.

The recovery from a C-section is not the easiest process in the world, but I think I have rambled long enough. We will have to save that for another post.

So that’s the our Little One’s birth story! If you’re comfortable with it, share some of your experiences down below in the comments.

Hey before you go, we decided to cloth diaper our Little One, you can check out that post here.

7 Eco-Friendly DIY Toy Projects You Have to Try

Are you tired of hearing “Mom, I’m bored!” but don’t want to fall into the trap of indulgent parenting and buy a bunch of plastic toys that get thrown out in a few weeks? There is a surprising solution that you might not have thought about before. Making DIY toys at home is a great way to expand your little one’s creativity, and it also has the added benefit of being more environmentally conscious.

Check out these great toy hacks that are easy to make yourself with environmentally friendly materials.

Recycled Cardboard Play Houses

This environmentally friendly option lets you turn all those old Amazon shipping boxes into a fun activity instead of tossing them in the trash. A cardboard playhouse is a great project because your child can have hours of fun building it and then continue to use it for weeks. Place it outside to get some fresh air or keep it indoors to let the house last longer.

To get started, all you need is a collection of cardboard boxes, some sturdy scissors, and tape. Decorating with water based paint can add a fun touch, but remember to use it sparingly because painted cardboard cannot be recycled later on. There are all sorts of neat ideas all over the internet, or you can come up with your own original design. 

Homemade Baby Blocks

Blocks are one of the most classic toy options for any baby or toddler, but they are often pricey and coated in layers of harmful paint and varnish. This project can involve a little woodworking, but it is not always necessary. For those new to DIY and carpentry, making these baby blocks can be as easy as getting precut wood cubes, sanding them down, and applying a finish. However, if you or your partner is interested in things like wood carving, you can customize with carved letters or other cute designs on the side!

The key to making these blocks baby safe and eco-friendly is all about the materials you select. Pick high quality wood that has not been pressure treated or otherwise soaked in chemicals. Use a food safe, penetrating oil like tung oil or linseed oil to provide a protective coat along the outside of the block. After letting the oil soak in and cure, you get adorable, glossy wooden blocks to build towers with your little one!

Repurposed Play Kitchen

Avoid buying unsustainable plastic toy kitchens by upcycling an old piece of furniture instead. You don’t have to be an experienced woodworker, all you need is a little paint and a few screwdrivers! This incredible idea comes from GiggleBerry Creations, and it shows just how much difference a few simple changes can be. Start out with an old TV unit that is just the right height for your little chef, and give it a fresh coat of paint.

With a few additions like a cheap sink faucet, painted on stovetop, and new doors, it transforms into a cute little stovetop, sink, oven, and fridge. You can get all the knobs, faucets, and handles needed to transform the kitchen from broken appliances if you want to be extra eco-friendly. Once you finish this DIY project, your child can pretend to bake, cook, and clean just like mom or dad! 

Snuggly Teddy Bears 

Skip polyester bears filled with ocean-damaging microbeads and make a stuffed animal yourself. Whether you’re a seasoned knitter or just looking for a new craft to pick up, a knitted bear can be an adorable toy for a child who wants something snuggly. This project is easy to customize with different materials, colors, and knitting patterns. 

Wool yarn is an environmentally sustainable material that is gathered without harming the animals, and it has the added benefit of being resistant to spills! For a green filling, consider using buckwheat hulls, kapok tree fiber, or unspun wool. Feel free to use this easy (and free!) pattern from Ravelry, or pick out your own to find one that suits your needs.

Paper Towel Marble Runs

All this neat DIY toy needs is some paper towel or toilet paper tubes. Once you cut them in half and tape them into a fun shape, they turn into a cool track to slide marbles and other materials along. As this fun video from Brick Building Kids shows, there are plenty of neat configurations for a marble run.

In addition to being a great way to recycle cardboard, it can also be a great learning activity! You can generate an early interest in physics and engineering throughout this entire project. We know it might seem like this toy is only going to keep your child occupied while they are building it, but you’d be surprised by how long it continues to entertain. With some toy cars, bouncy balls, or other materials, the marble run can turn into a busy racetrack that provides excitement for hours.

DIY Drum Kits

This is the perfect eco-friendly toy if you just finished painting the house and don’t mind having a bit of noise! To make the drums, you start by simply collecting wood, plastic, or metal gardening and paint buckets of different sizes. Then you and your child can clean them, let them dry, and decorate them with glitter and glue. If desired, you can even hang a few of the lids on a rope or stand to turn them into gongs and cymbals.

Arrange the drums on a flat surface, find a pair of sturdy sticks, and get ready to rock. Of course we know there are plenty of moms who might cringe at the idea of giving their kid anything noisy, but if you have a basement or big yard, this can be a fun project that helps get your child in touch with their musical side. 

Fabric Baby Books 

Say goodbye to torn covers and creased pages when you create a cute fabric book for your baby to play with. You can choose your material based on your preferred style of environmental consciousness. If your focus is using sustainable materials without chemicals or toxins, consider natural fabrics like unbleached linen or bamboo dyed with vegetable dyes. Moms who love reusing and recycling can cut up old shirts or sheets to make the baby books, which can also be a cute way to incorporate fabric from sentimental clothing. 

To make the baby book, start by choosing your design. This can be as simple as shapes and letters, or you can get fabric printed with cute pictures to cut out. Then you just need to cut your pieces to the right size and sew or glue them together. Check out this helpful guide from MySewBliss to get an idea of how to assemble the book as easily as possible.

These fun toy ideas can keep your kids entertained for hours, so you can get some much needed “Me Time.” Since they are eco-friendly, you don’t have to worry about exposing your loved ones to a bunch of chemicals or having the toys pile up in landfills later on. If you’ve tried any of these neat DIY ideas before, let us know how it went!

Author’s bio:

My name is Ivana Davies and I’m an educator turned stay-at-home mom to a beautiful 7 year old girl and a playful 5 year old boy. Since I didn’t have a clue about raising kids, I had to learn it all in a hard way. I managed to find so much information online, and that inspired me to turn to blogging to share my experiences and struggles as a mom. Being a mom is not easy. In fact, in can sometimes be pretty isolating. My blog, Find Your Mom Tribe, is here to help you connect with other moms, as well as to share mom hacks, information, and tools to help you on this parenting journey. You can catch up with us on Facebook and Pinterest.

Note from Little Family

I want to take a moment to thank Ivana at Find Your Mom Tribe, for crafting this post. It’s chalk full of awesome activities for the Little’s in your life, so hopefully you find these ideas helpful! If you have some time I highly suggest you venture over to her site Find Your Mom Tribe. She has excellent posts on parenting, pregnancy and even recipes!

Tips for Flying with a Toddler

20 tips for flying with a toddler

We recently took our Little One on his first plane ride! Before the trip we were so worried about how he would react to the experience. Would his ears feel OK? Would he sleep on the plane? Would he scream the whole time? These questions circled around my head as we prepared for our trip. I am happy to report that the plane ride went very smoothly, and hopefully by following these tips you will have a smooth experience traveling with your toddler.

***Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart .***

Booking the flight

So my first tip is to book the flight for a natural nap time. This will make it a lot easier for your little one to sleep on the plane. Once we boarded and I started nursing him, he was out right away. There was so much to see in the airport that I think it tuckered him out watching everything.

If allowed to choose your seats, try to get a window seat near the front of the plane. The window seats have a little extra room next to them. When on a cramped airplane, any extra space is a life saver.

Book a seat for your child if you can. I know that budgets can be tight but having an extra seat can be so helpful. We did not book a seat for our Little One and instead kept him on our lap. Most airlines allow babies under 2 to ride free if they ride on your lap. On the way there, we did not have an extra seat. It went okay but was cramped. On the way back we had an angel of a flight attendant who moved some people around and gave us three seats! It was so nice to have the extra space and once little one woke up from his nap, it allowed him to crawl around between the two of us. Also, my husband is 6’3″ so sitting in a middle seat was rough on him!

Other bookings

Rent a car seat if able. We rented a car seat because I didn’t want to deal with packing one and checking it at the airport. It wasn’t too much more added on to our car rental. If you are not renting a car and being picked up, check your car seat at the check in, not at the gate. When we were flying we saw a family who had three small children, They were also carrying a bag for each, a two kiddo stroller and three car seats….they looked miserable. Flying can be difficult with a toddler, so I always try to make things as easy as possible.

Read the fine print. When booking your flight be sure to read the fine print, especially when it comes to the policy regarding kids. Different airlines may have special rules when it comes to carry ons, bringing formula or breast milk, and the list goes on and on. I read it more than one time just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. While you’re at it head over to the TSA website and check out the kids section for special instructions for going through security.

What to Pack

Bring a stroller. A stroller is a life saver when trying to run through the airport. Bring the smallest stroller you are able…we did not. The purpose of our trip was to go hiking at Yoho National Park, so we wanted to bring our trail stroller.

Bring snacks. Bring your little one’s favorite, but not messy, snacks on the plane. Anything to keep them happy is the goal. I headed to the bulk bins at our food co-op and got yogurt covered pretzels, yogurt covered raisins, and dried apples. I also brought some crackers and bananas. We got Cheez-Its as our snack on the plane, which little one gobbled up.

Bring a water bottle and sippy cup. Staying hydrated is obviously really important. To get though security, your adult water bottle will need to be empty, but they allowed water to be in the sippy cup, which was a win.

Bring small toys and books. Bring some of your little one’s favorite books and activities. We brought this ball, these blocks, a car, and Hello magazines. It is important to keep little one busy and toys will help with this.

Use a back pack as a diaper bag. If you already use a back pack you are ahead of the game! But if you don’t, they make life so much easier. When going through the airport and helping little one it is so much easier to have both of your hands free.

packing a diaper bag

Day of Trip

Pre-check into the flight. Again, try to make life as easy as possible. If your airline allows pre-check into your flight, I recommend you do it and skip those lines.

Dress in layers. Airplanes can be either too hot or too cold so it’s best to be flexible and dress in layers. Bring extra clothes, too, in case there is some sort of accident.

Soft sole shoes or socks. Once little one starts crawling around on your lap, you are going to want them to have soft soles. We did this and it worked great. Once the plane landed, we put little one’s shoes back on and he promptly stepped on my hand and I ended up with a bruise for a week.

At the Airport

When you arrive at the gate, check in with the attendants. If you bring a stroller or car seat to the gate, you will need a tag from them to label it. They may also give you special instructions for where to place the stroller/car seat for storage on the plane. This is also a great time to ask for seats to be rearranged, if needed. When we were assigned our seats upon purchasing tickets, they had my husband and I sitting in different rows. That was not going to work for us. The attendants were in full agreement and changed our seats so we were sitting together!

Check bags at the gate if able. Depending on how full the plane is, the gate attendants might call for volunteers to check bags at the gate. There is no charge for this. We did not check any bags at the check in counter and managed to pack everything we needed in our two carry on bags and our two personal items. By checking one of our bags it allowed us to store one of our personal items in the overhead bins. This freed up some leg room for my tall husband. It was also one less thing to keep track of and haul through the airport.

Boarding

When sitting at the terminal waiting for the plane to board, let your toddler crawl around when waiting to board. This will help them burn some energy and help get them ready for a nap on the plane.

Change their diaper just before boarding. The bathrooms on planes are tiny and I would not want to change Little One’s diaper in there. Try to change the diaper just before you board and then right after landing. Hopefully you are able to go through the flight without needing it to be changed.

Families board first. Pay attention to the announcements and board when called. Originally I thought I should wait until the end to board so Little One would spend as little time as possible on the plane. However, there are real benefits to boarding first. The first is that you are moving around less people when trying to get to your seats, which can be challenging. It also let Little One check out his new environment and watch the people come aboard. If we would have waited until the last minute to board I envision Little One having a hard time going to sleep during take off because he would have still been interested in watching everything.

airport

On the Plane

Use jackets to create a seat between the window and seat. This creates a little seat for a little butt to sit on. Little One loved looking out the window. Having made a little seat it allowed Little One to look out the window better and got him off my lap for a bit.

Nurse or give formula during take off and touch down. I have heard that this helps with ear popping – I am not sure if it did or not. But it did help Little One go to sleep, which was a big win.

Phew…those are my 20 tips for flying with a toddler! I hope your trip with your little one goes well and that this advice help you out. If you have any other tips for flying with a toddler, let me know in the comments below!

For more tips on traveling with a little one check out my preparing for travel with a baby.

Raise an Eco Conscious Child

How to Raise and Eco Conscious Child

My husband and I are trying to become more Eco Conscious, and with that, we are trying also to raise and Eco Conscious child. While Little One is only 15 months old right now, there are still things we can implement in our home to help with this. Here are our 5 tips on how to raise and Eco Conscious child.

Practice Eco Friendly principles in your own home

Children learn so much form their environment. if you practice environment-friendly principles in your home, your children, by extension, will also learn about these principles, too. Check out my post here about Eco-Friendly Rules to Live By.

Discuss It

Talk to your children about the importance of being Eco Friendly. Discuss specifically about what it means, how to do it, and why to do it. Ask them their ideas on how to be more Eco Friendly. Children are very insightful!

Encourage Learning, Experimenting, and Increasing Understanding

Encourage learning about the environment whenever possible. Whether in school, from books or on your travels, no opportunity should be wasted. I personally love the Green Kids Crafts Box for children, which encourages learning and experimenting.

Get them out and go for a hike or swimming. Allow them to examine the stick or the fish swimming around. Letting them explore their world will increase understanding and help develop a passion for preserving it.

Involve the in Changes

When you want to m them help you make a change, involve the kiddos. Have them help you with it. It helps them take ownership of the problem and the fix.

Be Politically Active

Go Vote! Vote for representatives who also care about the environment, and involve your child, too. Discuss the candidates, what they stand for and why you are choosing one over another. For as many small changes that we make at home, we really need organization on a large scale to make a big impact.

What other tips do you have for raising and Eco Conscious child? Le me know in the comments below!

How to Raise and Eco Conscious Child

How To Find Stress-Free Kids Crafts

I have always loved crafting. As a kid I was doing projects literally every day! My mom had an in-home daycare and she did a fantastic job of facilitating fun craft projects focused on learning letters, science, animals, space, shapes, colors, the list goes on and on. I often reflect back on this time and now that I have my own Little One I think of how much work that must have been! Little One is not quite to the crafting stage yet and just thinking about it stresses me out a little bit. So in this post we explore a resource on how to find stress-free kids crafts.

That is why I was so happy to find Green Kid Crafts. They have taken the stress away from me having to figure out projects. They are a monthly subscription box that delivers age appropriate, education-focused, and Eco-friendly crafts right to your door step!

I don’t know about you but I am busy. Both my husband and I work, and between getting dinner ready, keeping the house semi clean, and trying to have quality time with Little One, it doesn’t leave much time for planning out craft projects.

Just so you know – read through to the end for a special offer!

**Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As a Green Kids Crafts associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you buy from them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart

The Contents

Green Kid Crafts offers both subscription packages or single purchase boxes for the kiddos. All the boxes contain 4-8 projects and are developed around STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math).

The boxes range from ages 2 years to 10+ years. I wanted to try one even though Little One is still a bit young for the boxes. So I got one and did all the crafts myself…just kidding. But I did get one for my niece in the 10+ category and she loved it!

Why Green Kid Crafts

There are many subscription boxes out there, so why this one? I personally gravitated toward this box for a number of reasons:

First, they are very Eco-friendly, as I try to be with all my crafting. Green Kid Crafts is actually a carbon neutral company! There will be more on that below.

Second, there are multiple activities in each box. I have checked out some other subscription boxes, and while very cool they often offer one or two activities. Green Kid Crafts offer 4-8!

Third, every box focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math! The boxes are developed by child development experts, and you can click this link to read bios of the child development team. I think it is so important to know that the projects are thoughtfully created by a team of experts.

The Company

As my husband and I keep considering the types of consumers we want to be, it is really important that we know where we put our money. That’s why we support companies like Green Kid Crafts – they hold and implement so many of the values that my husband and I believe in, too.

Green Kid Crafts was started by a mom wanting to encourage learning, development and creativity in her own kids’ lives. Mom power! She is an environmental scientist committed to creating a product that has as little impact on the environment as possible. They also have a partnership with the CarbonFund, and, like I mentioned before, is a carbon neutral company.

They use 100% recycled materials for all of their packaging, as well as implement sustainability into the contents of their boxes.

Green Kid Crafts partners with One Tree Planted, and they plant one tree for every online order! Click below to find out more.

The Blog

The Green Kid Crafts website has a blog that is packed full of fun activities to do with your kiddos. You can easily do some projects at home by following their clear directions. So when you are wanting to plan projects, Green Kid Crafts makes it really easy. Just go check out their blog page and pick from all of the wonderful activities they have available.

Special Offer

For a limited time you can get 60% off your first STEAM box! By clicking this LINK here. I will also receive some credit when you use this LINK, so thank you in advance for helping keep Little Family on the Big Lake up and running.

Or you can click the Order Now button to check out Green Kid Crafts subscriptions boxes. And don’t forget to use the code SUMMER19 and receive 50% off your first order. I am not sure how long this sale is running.

But to get the 60% off use my special link!

See their site for full promo code details and terms and conditions.

I hope you like the Green Kid Crafts boxes as much as I do. Let me know if you got a subscription box and what you thought of it in the comments below!

Next, check out my post on how to make a felt vegetable garden.

Cloth Diaper Routine

Cloth Diaper Routine

There are so many questions when it comes to cloth diapering and a cloth diaper routine. Having cloth diapered for over a year now, I think my husband and I have worked out a pretty good system. So for the new parents out there, I thought I would share it for any of you thinking about setting up your cloth diapering station.

I included links for all the products that I love down below.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart.

The Set Up

So first things first: the set up. We currently have 32 cloth diapers. I have a combination of Alva Baby, Nora Nursery, Anma Baby, Bumgenius, and Mama Koala brands. We also use bamboo and charcoal bamboo inserts.

I have a diaper changing pad of the top of Little One’s dresser, which is secured. On the right side of the dresser I keep a laundry hamper. On the left side I keep a diaper bin with a lid, lined with a large wet bag. Next to that I have a normal lidded trash can and an extra plastic container to hold dirty diapers that need rinsing. On the top drawer of the dresser I keep the diapers, cloth wipes, and creams/lotions. We also keep a spray bottle containing water handy for the cloth wipes when the situation gets…poopy.

The Routine

When Little One was brand new we went through at least 12 diapers a day. Now that he is bigger we go through anywhere between 6-10 diapers in a day. Even though we go through less diapers now we still wash every two to three days.

We keep all diapers ready to go with the inserts in them and folded in half. Once the diaper is used we take out the insert and place both the insert and diaper in the pail with the wet bag.

Once we have reached two days and roughly half the diapers used we will wash them.

To wash the diaper, we first put the diapers in the machine by dumping the wet bag (including the wet bag itself) into the washer. So need to touch any diapers! We first put the diapers through a rinse cycle with no detergent . After the rinse cycle, we do a regular cycle with soap (we use the unscented soap from Costco). I want to mention here that I have tried a couple plant-based laundry soaps, but they didn’t clean effectively and left the diapers with a smell. Also of note, we do an extra hot rinse every 4-6 weeks after the normal cycles just to give the diapers a more thorough cleaning.

After washing, we separate the laundry and the inserts and wipes go into the dryer on medium heat. The covers move to a drying rack in Little One’s room. We found it was easier to dry the diapers in his room – just in case we ran out we could make a new one quickly.

Once everything is dry we assemble the diapers and put them back into the drawer. We often assemble diapers when Little One is playing on the floor, and often he tries to “help” by taking and throwing them on the floor!

Cloth Diaper Routine
The Poop

So the poop…we have to deal with the poop. When we find we have a messy diaper to deal with, the first thing we do is wet 2-4 wipes. Clean up your Little One, grab a fresh diaper, and toss the dirty diaper into the plastic bin next to the diaper pail. Remove the insert and place in the diaper bin. Place the lid back on and finish changing the diaper.

To clean the diaper, we dunk the diaper in the toilet to clean it off. Many people who cloth diaper use a sprayer to clean off the diapers, but I find that this method works for us well enough. Much of the time the #2 is solid and it just pops off. No biggie!

I will note that until little ones reach the age that they start solid food, the diapers don’t need to be cleaned in the toilet. They can go straight into the diaper pail.

My Special Cleaner

Naturally, sometimes the diapers will stain after so much exposure to poop. I have a special cleaner that I use for just this purpose. I have been wanting to do a post on it, but honestly we haven’t had a really stained diaper in quite a while…knock on wood!

My cleaner is simple – just a spray bottle with water and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Spray this on the diaper and lay it in the sun for a couple of hours and, like magic, the stain disappears!

Cloth Diaper Routine

So that is our cloth diaper routine! To me it seems pretty easy and now second nature. At this point, it’s been ingrained into our system just like any other errand we do around the house.

Let me know what you think of the cloth diaper routine, and if you have any tips or questions. I would love to know if you cloth diaper and what your routine is! If you haven’t already, check out my reasons to try cloth diapering here.

6 Surprising Items You Need For Baby

6 Surprising items you need for baby

There are so many lists of recommended baby items out there. Honestly, some are better than others and some are full of things that you don’t really need. The following list is 6 surprising items you need for baby.. These are things I realized would’ve come in handy when Little One arrived so allow me to share…

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart.

Laundry Basket

The first item on our list of 6 surprising items you need for baby is extra laundry baskets. I recommend at least one, but the more the better. Somehow these tiny little bundles create so much laundry! You may have the best laundry system in the world but when that bundle arrives that system may very well go out the window.

We have plastic laundry baskets at home right now, but once these wear out I want to switch to wicker baskets. Mainly I like the more natural material of these baskets. I have made the decision to always try to get more Eco friendly materials. But if you already have something that works, use that to exhaustion instead of purchasing something new right away.

Cooler

I purchased two coolers when I went back to work after maternity leave. One was used to bring with me in my pumping bag and the other to send with Little One to day care. I needed something to put his bottles in to keep them cool on the drive. I purchased a small one (unfortunately it’s no longer available) for my pumping bag and this one for day care from Thirty-One.

This one or this one are also great coolers. I really like the small coolers for bottles because they are easy to fit into a bag and, for me, they fit the perfect number of bottles.

Mini Clip on Fan

This mini fan has come in handy so many times. We live in northern Minnesota but it does still get hot here. We use it in our vehicle, and with the rear facing car seat the air conditioner vents don’t cool off the car seat very well. So we invested in this fan which helps keeps Little One cool in his car seat during those hot summer days.

Hand Vacuum

Kids are messy…that’s not really news. So having a tool for quick clean up is so useful and convenient. A hand vacuum will turn into your best friend to help tackle those frequent messes!

Sheets

If you don’t already have an extra set or two of sheets for your own bed, now is the time to get them. At some point, your sweet angel baby will spit up, pee on, or have a blow out on your sheets. It’s gross but it happens, and it’s best to be prepared. We had just upgraded to a king bed before Little One arrived and didn’t get an extra set of sheets right away. We quickly found out that we needed an extra set for accidents.

So make sure you have an extra set ready to go so you are not scrambling like us. Learn from our mistakes – it’ll be worth it.

Bag Clips

I know – bag clips? But stay with me…they are so useful when walking in the stroller. We have been in many situations where we are walking with Little One and it is windy and the blankets are flying all over the place. The bag clips solve this problem! Clip the blankets down to the sides to keep Little One warm and the blankets now stay put.

We have also used the clips and light muslin blankets to help keep the sun out of baby’s eyes. I should take a minute to note that a blanket should not be draped all the way over a stroller or car seat when it is hot out. This creates a bit of an oven in the stroller and the baby is at risk of overheating.

To solve this we used a lightweight muslin blanket and made sure it was always clipped a certain way so there was still air flow into the stroller. We would stop and re-position the muslin as needed and checked Little One’s body temp to make sure he was not overheating.

Bonus Item

Wet Bag

Since a wet bag is technically a baby-related item, I’ll throw it in as a bonus because it is so useful. If you cloth diaper you will most likely be all over this one. However, if you aren’t planning on cloth diapering, these wet bags are still really useful. For example, they are great for sticking in the diaper bag and have handy when dirty clothes need to be changed (the polyester material helps reduce the smell). So if you have clothes that are messy from a blow out or anything else, slip the clothes in there and the mess will be contained. They are also great for wet clothes after the beach or pool!

I hope that you found my list of 6 surprising items you need for baby. Are there any other items that are non-baby related that you’ve found useful with your baby? Let me know in the comments below!

Reasons To Try Cloth Diapering

Reasons why to cloth diaper

I absolutely love cloth diapering! As soon as I learned more about it, I never questioned if I would use cloth diapers or not. My husband was on board early on because all of the fantastic benefits. Below you will find my top reasons for choosing cloth diapers.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

The Environment

Babies on average go through 2500 diapers in their first year and each diaper can take hundreds of years to decompose in a land fill. I did not want to add to that, so I started looking for alternatives. Enter the cloth diaper. They are more modern now with all in ones, flip, and pocket diapers. It makes it much easier, although the old version of flats are pretty user friendly, too.

While it does take more water to wash cloth diapers it doesn’t create anywhere near the amount of waste. The conscientious user can offset this added water usage with modifications to other water-using habits, like showers and washing dishes.

The Money

Depending on what cloth diapers you use this can be very inexpensive. I personally like Alvababy and Anmababy but I have a few others I use for specific purposes, like Mama Koala. On average, they cost $5 per diaper (some of the high end ones can be $20-30 per diaper). I would recommend 28-32 diapers, bringing it to a total of only $160 for all of the diapers! These diapers can last years, all the way through potty training years and on to multiple kiddos. Here’s the rough math: 1 year of disposable diapers can cost $850, and after 3 years of diapering it would cost $ 2550 for each kid!

We actually didn’t end up paying anything for our cloth diapers. I added them to my Amazon registry, and had loving friends and family members purchase them for Little One. I ended up receiving all that I needed through baby showers, so my diapering costs went down to $0!

We did end up purchasing more bamboo and charcoal inserts, which I would highly recommend over the micro fiber inserts. Not only are bamboo and charcoal natural products, they are able to absorb a little more pee than the micro fiber.

The Bum

Cloth diapers are so much better for Little One’s bum. They drastically reduce the risk of diaper rash. Many disposable diapers have chemicals in them that are bad for babies’ bums, though there are some brands that are addressing the issue. They also dramatically reduce the risk of blow outs (meaning poop goes all over the place if you aren’t familiar with the term). We have been cloth diapering for over a year and have only had 3, and really they weren’t too bad. I remember my sister-in-law, who used disposables, sending me a pic of my nephew and it was all the way up to his neck!

The Cuteness

Cloth diapers are so cute! I don’t really need to elaborate…check them out for yourself.

Reasons why to cloth diaper
Reasons why to cloth diaper

Have you thought about trying out cloth diapers, but not quite convinced? I hope this post on the reasons to try cloth diapering helped. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments blow!

Next, check out my Harry Potter Nursery post.

Reasons why to cloth diaper

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

Little One’s first birthday is just around the corner, I can’t believe it! He is just growing up way too fast. So, as well as planing a birthday party, I wanted to make something special for him as a gift. During our brainstorming for gift ideas a swing came up. Of course, trying to rid ourselves of plastic, I didn’t want to get him a traditional baby swing. So off to the craft store I went with plans for a DIY toddler hammock swing. I had found a couple of tutorials online; however, I wanted to make some changes to those plans.

The biggest issue was safety. In addition to gathering supplies that could safely hold 200 pounds (a little overboard for my 20 pound baby, but still), I also added a safety strap to the hammock swing using a couple of D rings. All the supplies I needed were found at JOANN Fabrics and Home Depot. (I linked all products that I was able to on Amazon since I know some people don’t have access to the same stores). Some additional changes I made included doubling the fabric and adding a layer of batting for added comfort.

You can see my post on basic sewing terminology here if needed for this project.

I do have this hammock swing available in my store, click here to find out more!

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Supplies for the DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

Found at Craft Store

  • Outdoor fabric 1 1/2 to 2 yards, depending on how much extra you want
  • D rings
  • Batting – I had some left over from a quilt that I used. Remember, reusing is one of the 5 Rs of sustainability
  • Poly-fill – I also had some left over from another project. See, craft hoarding can save some money!
    • Find Batting and stuffing here I would use this instead if I did it again. I happened to have some old poly-fill and batting, but in the future I would go 100% cotton.

Found at Hardware Store

Additional supplies

Step One – Preparing Pieces

Each of the following pieces need to be cut out of the outdoor fabric. If the fabric you choose has a pattern to it, double check that it matches up. While the fabric I chose has a pattern, it is a little more random and allows for more flexibility. Cut the following pieces out of your fabric (and then proceed with the other cuts and measurements for the other materials that follow):

  • Fabric
    • 37″ x 12″ pieces for the seat – cut 2
    • 12″ x 11″ for the back – cut 2
    • 6 1/2″ x 11″ for the front – cut 2
    • 15″ x 3 1/2″ for the front strap – cut 1
    • 27″ x 3 1/2″ for the long strap – cut 1
    • 8″ x 3 1/2″ for the strap with D rings – cut 1
    • 12″ x 12″ pieces for the pillow (optional) – cut 2
  • Batting
    • 1 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ – cut 1
    • 6″ x 10 1/2″ – cut 1
    • 36 1/2″ x 11 1/2″ – cut 1
  • Dowel
    • 4 pieces that are 15″
  • Rope
    • 2 pieces that are 11 feet long

When starting to stitch the DIY toddler hammock swing, I wanted to make sure that every seam was very secure. So technically I sewed them twice…a little more work but so worth it. (Check out basic sewing terminology to help with following this tutorial.)

Step Two – Stitching Base

Start out by using the 6 1/2″ x 11′ pieces, placing right sides together and pinning. Starting at the base of the long side, start stitching up the side. Back stitch when first starting out using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Stop stitching 6/8″ from the edge of the fabric.

You will now have to turn the fabric; however, there is a neat trick I learned to make a crisp corner. Instead of making a 90 degree turn. stitch one stitch at an angle, then turn the fabric again to begin sewing straight as shown in the picture below.

Stitch along the 11″ side to the 6 1/2″ side and back down the 11″ side, back stitching when done. This should leave the 6 1/2″ side open. Clip the corners before turning. Use this side to turn the front piece right side out. Next, press the fabric with the iron. The outdoor material will be hard to get to lay flat. Try using a pin to pop the seam out (note that it will want to collapse inward) and steaming the fabric. Once complete, insert the piece of 6″ x 10 1/2″ batting between the two pieces of fabric.

Once complete, stitch around the edges again. This time stitch on the right side of the fabric with a 1/4″ or 3/8″ seam allowance. When turning the corner on the right side of the fabric, use the traditional 90 degree turn. Continue to leave the one 6 1/2″ side open – we will deal with it later.

Follow the same procedure for the pieces that are 12″ x 11″, leaving the 12″ side open for turning.

Step Three – Assembling the seat

For this next part, use the 37″ x 12″ pieces and the front and back that had already been finished. It’s a bit tricky so please stay with me. Find the center of the 37″ side and mark either side. Next, find the center on the front and back piece on the open side. Lay the back piece on top of the right side of one of the 37″ x 12″ pieces, lining up the center marks on each side. The raw edges should be together and the back piece should be on top of the seat piece. Next, line up the front piece with the center of the other side of the 37″ x 12″ piece and pin it down.

Lay the other 37″ x 12″ piece on top, right side down, and line it up and pin. Sew around using a 1/4″ seam allowance while leaving an opening to flip right side out. It is best to leave the opening on one of the 12″ ends. Use the same method as listed above for the corners. Flip the seat right side out and press with an iron. When flipping the seat, the back and front pieces should now be hanging out of the seam.

Next, insert the batting and stitch around the seat again. Fold in the open part and stitch closed. This is the basic seat structure.

Step Four – Creating Pockets

Next, on each of the sides, front and back, create pockets for the dowel. Using the dowel, estimate the pocket size needed by folding the top part of the fabric over the top and pinning it down. Make sure the pocket is even all the way across and is snug enough that the dowel doesn’t easily move, but still loose enough that you can easily insert the dowel into the pocket. Stitch a straight line where pinned, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and the end. Repeat these steps for each of the sides and the front and back. Measure each side to ensure that all the pockets are the same width and make changes if needed.

Step Five – Create Safety Straps
  • 15″ x 3 1/2″ for the front – strap cut 1
  • 27″ x 3 1/2″ for the long strap – cut 1
  • 8″ x 3 1/2″ for the strap with D rings – cut 1

For the next step use the the above pieces and iron press each of the straps in half the long way. Next, fold in the raw edge on either side and press with the iron. Fold in the ends to from a clean edge and pin. Stitch all the way around the strap. Fold down the shortest strap to create a pocket for the other straps to sit in. Stitch the edge of the pocket down. Using the medium strap, place the flat edges of the D rings on the strap. Fold over the fabric and stitch down.

Attach the two longer pieces to either side of the back piece (not the side that has the D rings attached). Make sure they are evenly placed on the center of the back side piece and pinned down. Back stitch at the beginning and the end. I chose to sew in a square around the tab of the strap to ensure it was secure. Next stitch the smallest strap to the center front of the seat in a similar manner.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Six – Sewing The Pillow

This step is optional but adds a whole lot of comfort. It’s also really cute. Create a simple pillow using the 12″ X 12″ pieces. Pin the pieces right sides together. Leaving a small gap for flipping, stitch around the pillow using the corner method as described above. Flip the pillow right side out and press with an iron. Next, stuff the pillow with poly-fill (or cotton stuffing if able) to the desired amount. Then hand stitch the opening closed using a needle and thread. There you have it – a cute little pillow! The pillow is especially great for little ones because it gives extra support and helps them sit better in the swing. The pillow can be removed for older toddlers, which makes this swing versatile for a number of years.

Step Seven – Making Supports

The next step is to cut the dowels to the length of 15 inches. Then using a drill bit, drill a hole 1 1/2 inches from each end. Using sand paper, sand the dowels down and curve the ends to take away any sharp edges.

Step Eight – Finishing The Dowels

At this point I wanted to finish the dowels, but didn’t want to use a product like polyurethane because I know Little One will end up munching on them. Instead, I used coconut oil! This is a natural alternative and is something I keep in my cupboard. Using a small glass bowl, melt the coconut oil in the microwave. Next, apply a small amount to each dowel with a rag. The dowels will remain wet feeling for some time, so give it a day or two to dry completely. I think the coconut oil brings out the natural beauty of the wood and gives it a really nice shine.

Step Nine – Securing The Rope

Cut the rope into two 11 foot long lengths. Finding the middle of each piece, combine and tie around the metal rings. Create a loop through the metal rings and pull the remaining length of rope through the loop that was created. I added an additional knot for security.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Ten – Inserting the dowels

The next step is to insert each dowel into the pocket on each side, as pictured below.

Step Eleven – Tie the Dowels Together

Layering the sides over the front and back and dowels. Insert the rope through the top hole and then through the second. Tie the rope with a secure knot and repeat with the other three sides. Burn the ends of the rope using a lighter.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Twelve – Hanging The Hammock Swing

Find a good place to hang the hammock swing, ensuring that it is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the swing and your baby. We used a thick tree branch, but plan to use a C hook in a beam in our basement playroom for winter time. Using the left over rope tie around the tree, use the other O ring and tie to the bottom of the rope. Using the carabiner attach the two O rings together to hang the swing.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

While the fabric is weather resistant, the hammock swing will last longer if it is not left outside for extended periods of time. The carabiner makes it really easy to put up and take down. We store ours in the bin that holds our outdoor cushions.

Little One is only 12 months old right now, and has room to grow with it. My three year old nephew can fit in it, too. I absolutely love how this turned out. I know that is it many steps but it was fairly easy to make. This DIY toddler hammock swing was definitely worth the time, and is so much cuter and softer then the plastic ones available in stores.

Have you tried this DIY toddler hammock swing? How did it turn out for you? If so, left me know in the comments below!

If you want one of these awesome hammock swing but would to order one you can do so by clicking the button below!

Note

Please check that all materials are intact and strong enough to hold your child before each use. While I hope you have success with this DIY toddler hammock swing. I am not responsible for any injuries. Ensure that you have tested all the equipment before using with your child and never leave your child unattended in the swing. While there is a safety belt, kiddos can be squirmy and get free. Use at your own risk. If you have any questions about the product or how to make this please contact me at maria@littlefamilyonthebiglake.com

Hammock swing