Hello, hello! I some exciting news to share with you guys. I have discovered the most phenomenal summer must-have item for anyone with a toddler. Behold:
It's basically a life jacket, but oh so much more. Avery HATES wearing traditional life jackets. I used to put them on her sometimes when we would go swimming in a deep pool, but she could never keep herself upright and we always ended up doing this awkward dance of me trying to hold her up and her trying to be independent. Enter the Stearns Puddle Jumper. Avery actually likes wearing it, and it keeps her afloat in an upright position. We tried it out for the first time this weekend, and she can actually swim by herself with this thing on (with me nearby for safety, of course). It allows her to swim on her back, on her tummy, or just to float around without inhaling the water. I'm not kidding you guys, this thing has made a WORLD of difference for both us and Avery. We get to be more relaxed when we go swimming because we know she is safe, and she gets a lot more freedom to swim around on her own. Here she is in action...
You can get the Stearns Puddle Jumper on Amazon for 15 bucks. And you should. Read the reviews if you don't believe me. Here's the link:
Disclosure: Betty's Balance is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Let's talk about fitness when you have a toddler. Although chasing a 2 year-old around is exercise in its own right, I'm the kind of person who need my regular workouts on my time to keep me sharp both physically and mentally. This is why I wake up at the crack of dawn, week after week, to get in a good sweat session before Avery and Brandon wake up. This little bit of morning "me time" always sets a good tone for my day. However. Having a toddler means that NOTHING is absolute. There are days when Avery decides its time to party at 5 am. Or nights when she keeps us up way past our bedtime. Or nights when she sleeps between us and none of us get much shut eye. And then my morning workouts are a bust.
If I still want to get some exercise on the days when my morning workout plan fails, it has to be with Avery by my side. Of course, workouts with Avery are much less intense and include lots of potty, snack, play, and snuggle breaks. But, I have to admit, they are a fun change of pace every now and again. One of my favorite ways to workout with Avery is to put on Toddler Dance Radio (her favorite Pandora station) and have a jam session. We have a dance party warm-up together, and then she continues to dance/sing/totally ignore the music and do something else while I exercise. I like to do one exercise or exercise set per song - its a manageable length because kids songs are typically shorter than "adult" songs. I put together a sample workout to share with you guys below. Enjoy and happy Monday (:
It's no secret that "me time" pretty much goes out the window when you become a mommy....with the sweet exception of naps. Aaaahhhh naps. Every parenting book and online forum says that toddlers generally nap until the age of 3. My little one, on the other hand, had different ideas. She stopped napping a little before she turned 2, which left me in the dark about how I was supposed to get anything done. Ever. Because at age 2, a busy toddler needs pretty much constant supervision/attention. It's been a work in progress but I've managed to come up with some ways to squeeze in a little "me time" on most days. Even in the absence of sweet, sweet nap time.
1. Quiet time where nap time used to be. Regardless of whether Avery sleeps or not, I've still stuck to our afternoon nap schedule. This means that between 1 and 2 o'clock, we wind down with some story time in her reading nook and then I put her in her crib. I tell her "it's nap time," give her a kiss, and tuck her in. About 4 seconds later, I watch through the monitor as she kicks the blankets off herself and starts jumping on the bed. She'll talk to her stuffed animals, sing, jump some more, do some weird yoga poses, and so on. She tried to climb out of the crib once, but we nipped that in the bud quickly by moving her mattress to the floor. No way she is scaling a crib wall that is higher than the level of her head (I hope). So while Avery has her "quiet time" in her crib, I take some time for myself to unwind. She usually lasts 20-30 minutes, which is just enough time for me to drink a cup of coffee and get a few household things done. I find that this really helps me get re-energized for the afternoon/evening and allows me to be more present and attentive with Avery. Plus I truly think it's good for her to have some time to herself too.
2. Early mornings. I've always been a morning person, but even more so now. I love the quiet and the solitude of the hours before everyone wakes up. I get ample "me time" in the early morning of 2+ hours during which I can easily fit in a workout, shower, breakfast, and some reading without interruption. It does mean that I have to get to bed early, often right after we put Avery down between 8:30-9:00, but I typically have no trouble crashing at that time after a busy day.
3. Digital babysitter. People have lots of opinions about this one- here's mine: I'm okay with Avery watching a little TV or the iPad when I need to focus my attention elsewhere. I usually let her watch a show while I cook dinner. And drink a little wine in the meantime. Of course we filter what she watches and limit it to educational kids shows (Frozen IS educational, thank you. Very important moral lessons). We also generally limit screen time to 30 minutes or so per day (on most days....). As an added bonus, Avery will generally agree to sit on the potty in order to "earn" her screen time. Win-win.
4. Human babysitter. This one is obvious, yet we find ourselves rarely using this option. Since Avery is with a sitter during our work week, we want to spend as much time with her as possible during non-working hours. The balance we have found here is to let Avery spend one night per month at her grandparents house so that Brandon and I can go on a monthly date night. It's been great for our marriage, and a great way for Avery to bond with her grandparents too.
5. Dedicated relax time. I've really tried to be intentional about taking some time each day to relax. Even if it's just 1-2 minutes of deep breathing (let's be honest, while checking my Instagram feed). I can always find 1 or 2 minutes while Avery plays, or while she is eating in her high chair, or even while she is watching her 30 minutes of TV. Again, it's a way for me to re-set and try to let go of any stress/worry so that I can be a better wife and mommy for the rest of the day.
6. Involving the kiddo. Counter-intuitive, right? Sometimes "me time" takes the form of me sharing something I love with Avery, and it's totally rejuvenating. Don't get me wrong, this is not easy to do. Late night baking with some wine in hand = relaxing. Baking with a 2 year-old = not relaxing. Fun, but not relaxing. It just has to be the right activity. For example, a low key workout. Avery likes to jam out with me to Toddler Dance Radio while we do squats, push-ups, tuck jumps, etc. Sometimes she likes to by my resistance too (see photo below). Another example is going for a walk. They are usually short walks and we typically stop at every fourth rock we see, but its quite refreshing to just be outdoors and see my toddler enjoying something that I love so much.
Any other ideas you guys have would be greatly appreciated! Especially how any "me time" is had with 2+ kiddos....
Our little munchkin has officially entered the toddler years. It was a little hard to find birthday party ideas at this age, being that she is a winter baby. She gets nervous when too many people are in our house, so a house party was out of the question. Too young for bowling, arcade, or an indoor jungle gym (the little ones always get trampled by the bigger kids). Too cold to do anything outdoors. And so forth. After talking to lots of mommy friends, we finally settled on an indoor bounce house place that is specifically for kids under age 5 called JJ Jump. It was fantastic. Adults are allowed to go with their kiddos into each of the bouncers, so there was fun to be had for everyone.
Since our little lady was turning 2, it was only right that she had 2 of everything this birthday. Two birthday outfits...
Two birthday cakes.... (the Humpty Dumpty a birthday surprise to Avery from her amazing babysitter...)
And 2x the birthday presents she got last year...
This birthday was a lot of fun because unlike her first birthday, Avery understood what was going on and was SO excited about all of it. We now spend more time than ever throwing birthday parties for stuffed animals and re-creating the whole experience. This one will definitely be hard to beat next year.
Icemaggedon was upon us this past weekend. It all started with a little dusting of snow on Saturday morning, which then quickly turned into freezing rain and resulted in ever accumulating layers of ice all over Portland. Flights in/out were cancelled, roads were closed, businesses shut down, etc., which forced us to stay home aaaaaalllllll weekend long. This was REALLY hard for my stir-crazy, type-A self who approached the weekend with a lengthy to-do list (which did not include being stuck at home for two days). Avery has some of my personality in that she gets stir crazy pretty quickly too, so this weekend I had to shift my focus away from my to-do list and onto finding ways to keep my toddler busy indoors. Here are a few ideas that work well in our household.
1. CAR WASH. 1 tupperware container containing water + 1 empty hand soap bottle filled with water and a little dish soap + 1 old toothbrush + 1 old kitchen towel = 1 squeaky clean set of toy cars.
2. PLAY DOUGH SURPRISES. What toddler doesn't love play dough? For a fun tabletop activity, I like to hide small toys (or a chocolate coin if I’m feeling generous) inside balls of play dough and have Avery open them to reveal the surprise inside. This activity is a gem because it keeps her busy for at least half an hour, sometimes more.
3. ART PROJECTS. Messy, for sure, but it helps my sanity to keep the mess art contained to a small area. I block off the entrance to our kitchen so that I only have a small portion of wood floor to clean up when it’s all done. Pretty easy. And to be honest, we could have made this even easier by skipping the markers, stamps, and stickers because all Avery really wanted to do was bedazzle everything in glitter (a girl after my own heart).
4. PEELING. Whenever I have a manual peeling project to do, I put Avery in her high chair and let her go to town. She LOVES peeling hard boiled eggs, small oranges, bananas, etc. This weekend, I gave her a dozen hard boiled eggs to peel for a casserole I was making. 40 minutes later I had 12 peeled eggs, ample time to assemble dinner, and one very proud toddler. Bonus - peeling is a great fine motor activity.
5. GROWING ANIMAL CAPSULES. I buy a pack of these every time I go to the dollar store. They are cheap an amzing. There are 12 capsules in a pack and when you put them in warm water, the capsules dissolve to reveal a foam animal inside. There is so much you can do with these things - try to guess which animal is going to come out, name the animals, name the sounds they make, match the animals to the pictures on the box, etc. Avery and I could do this for hours (toddler hours = lots of minutes).
6. DRY-ERASE ACTIVITY BOOKS. Whoever thought of this idea is a parenting genius. I can work on all kinds of educational stuff with Avery like tracing letters, learning numbers, identifying shapes and so forth while she stays engaged because she gets to draw all over the book we are learning from. AND THEN we get to erase it and do it all over again. It’s a bonus that she loves the erasing part too.
All in all, it turned out to be a great weekend. I had so much fun spending relaxed, quality time with Avery where we just got to focus on playing and nothing else. It was a good reminder for me to slow down and step away from my to-do list once in a while.
I’m Betty and I live in the beautiful pacific northwest. I'm a mommy. Vegetarian. Wife to a meatatarian. Pediatric physical therapist. Outdoor enthusiast. Enjoyer of fitness/healthy living. Even bigger enjoyer wine and chocolate lava cake. And hoping to find some balance between it all.