November 29, 2018

Toddler Road Trip Tips


Planning a road trip with your family? Check out these helpful tips for ensuring a smooth ride on the next road trip with your baby or toddler.

Toddler Road Trip Tips

Have you ever heard the one about “happy toddler, happy car ride”?

No?

Ok, so maybe I made it up. But, anyone that has taken a road trip with a toddler knows it is the absolute truth.

Planning a road trip with your little one(s) can seem like a daunting task, but it shouldn’t be scary. While it may take a bit more planning that if it were just the two of you, the memories you will create with your family while on the road will make it all worth it. 

These tried, tested and true tips for a road trip your little one(s) will ensure a smooth ride for all.

Timing

Plan the road trip around the kids’ napping schedules. For us, we plan around our toddler’s nap schedule since our 3 month old can sleep anywhere at any time. It’s hard to fight the car nap.

Keep in mind that babies and toddlers do not have the patience or attention span for super-long road trips that you might. As they grow, so do their attention spans, allowing them to sit in a car for longer stretches. But until that time, if your road trip is going to be a long one, plan for frequent stops to stretch your legs. Break it into manageable segments with stops for playing, eating (including nursing the babe) and regular potty breaks (if your toddler is potty training). 

Packing

When packing the car, if you are travelling with another adult, leave space in the middle of the back seat in case one of you need to join your child(ren). Whether its to calm a fussy baby or read a few stories with your toddler, take the time in the backseat to bond with your kids. 

If you drive a vehicle that does not have a separate trunk, be sure that all items are secure so that if there is a need to stop suddenly, items will not fly into the front of the vehicle and potentially hurt the passengers. 

Create a car kit, filled with activities for your little ones (see: Activities)

Toddler Road Trip Tips
Toddler Road Trip Tips

Snacks

Snacks, snacks and more snacks. You can never have too many snacks.

Put snacks in separate containers and provide them one at a time to avoid overwhelming youngsters.

For safety reasons, be sure to bring snacks that you know your child could eat. The last thing you want it for your child to start choking while strapped into their carseat in a moving vehicle.

Some of our favourites include goldfish, granola bars, baby carrots and hummus.

Music

Music is one of the best tools for keeping families content and entertained during a family road trip. 

A few of our current favourites that always get the whole family singing:
I Like to Move It - Crazy Frog
Who Let the Dogs Out - Baha Men
Let It Go - Disney’s Frozen
Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) - C+C Music Factory

Note: These will probably change as our little one gets older and starts to understand the meaning of the lyrics. But until she loses that innocence, they’re a good beat to get her moving and grooving in her seat. 

GoogleMusic has some great family-friendly playlists, including my personal favourite, Disney sing-a-longs.

Activities

For when they are awake (or if they don’t sleep at all), activities are important to keep them occupied. 

Whether it’s a quick trip to the store or a three hour road trip to visit my parents, our toddler always has to bring her “stuff”. Within reason, we let her pack her own backpack. It usually includes her iPad, a colouring book and crayons, a few Shopkins and some other random toys.

If your toddler enjoys some screen time, be sure to bring along your iPad and some toddler-friendly headphones (such as these). Our toddler’s iPad is loaded with all of her favourite apps. Check out her favourite apps, here.


>> You may also like: Traveling with a Toddler: Busy Bags 

Toddler Road Trip Tips

Comfort 

This usually includes a blanket, the stuffed animals of the week and her PawPatrol travel neck pillow (which doubles as her dolly “breastfeeding” pillow at home).

Extra Supplies

Motion sickness, blowouts and spills are bound to happen. Make sure you have extra diapers and wipes, clothes, towels, garbage bags, snacks and lots of water, just incase. If your child suffers from motion sickness, a bucket may also be a good addition to the car emergency kit. 

Safety

Of course, your number one priority during a road trip (especially with a baby or toddler) is to arrive at your destination safe and sound. 

Before setting out, be sure your vehicle is up-to-date on any oil changes or scheduled maintenance. You should also keep a roadside emergency kit in your car filled with bandages, medicines, a flashlight, and other useful items (including the extra supplies, listed above).

Another thing you should never hit the road without? The proper car seat for your little one.

When it comes to vehicle safety, we don’t mess around. Especially with this scary and eye-opening car accident experience when Morley was just 7 months old.

Toddler Road Trip Tips

Now that she is bigger and forward-facing, we only trust the best when it comes to her car seat, and that is the Diono Radian 3 rXT ($399.99 Canadian MSRP). This all-in-one convertible car seat accommodates rear facing children (5-50 lbs), forward-facing (22-65 lbs) and those in a booster seat (50-120 lbs). 

Here is what we like about our Diono Radian 3 rXT car seat:

  • Sits upright and further back in the seat, giving more space for her legs and feet between the seat and the back of the driver seat.
  • As she gets older, the sides and seat bottom expand to accommodate a growing child with extra leg support and comfort.
  • Adjustable head support so that she can sleep comfortably. It is also reinforced for enhanced side impact safety.
  • Colours.
  • Fabric is easy absorbent, easy to remove and machine washable. (I know this first hand. Morley also has a Diono in her grandpa’s car. When she was younger, she had a projectile vomit incident. We were able to easily remove and wash the seat fabric.)
  • Perfect for airplane travel. Folds easily to be checked as luggage. If gate checking or using on the plane, it even turns into a backpack with additional straps for carrying ease). 

Do you enjoy taking road trips with your children? What are your tips and tricks to make them successful? I’d love to hear!






*Disclosure: To & Fro received product and/or compensation in exchange for this post, however, all opinions are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links.
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November 27, 2018

Toddler-Friendly Felt Christmas Tree Tutorial


Are you looking for a toddler-friendly Christmas tree alternative? This Toddler-Friendly Felt Christmas Tree Tutorial will add a festive flair to your home this holiday season, while creating a learning opportunity for your little one.

Toddler-Friendly Felt Christmas Tree Tutorial

Holiday decorating is upon us, and today, I'm flashing back to the 2016 holiday season with this simple and festive DIY for your little one. 

I originally created this felt Christmas tree tutorial when my husband, 8 month old daughter and I were living in a teeny tiny one bedroom apartment as we awaited the completion of our first home. We were so excited to celebrate baby's first holiday season, but since, at the time, she was starting to become quite the mover, we were worried about her safety around the Christmas decorations in the small space. 

We usually opt for a real tree, complete with all of the fancy decorations, but because of our little mover, that year we decided to try something a little different. 
We had a small tree tucked out of the way for mom and dad, but also added this felt Christmas tree to the living room wall, just for the babe.

This simple-to-make felt Christmas tree is baby/toddler-safe, maintenance-free and decorated with lots of brightly coloured ornaments that your little one can easily rip off and put back on.  It added a festive flair to our teeny tiny abode, while creating a great learning opportunity for little miss Morley. 

Why not make one for your little one this holiday season?


Toddler-Friendly Felt Christmas Tree Tutorial

Materials


Toddler-Friendly Felt Christmas Tree Tutorial

Directions

I purchased the felt from my local fabric store. They sell small individual squares in a variety of colours (for making the ornaments) as well as felt by the length, which I used to make the tree. You can also find a package of assorted colours, here

First, make the star for the top of your tree using the yellow felt. I started with the star because I had a limited amount of yellow felt and the size of the star would determine the size of the tree. 

Next, make the tree body. Lay your tree fabric (green felt) on the floor and fold in half, vertically. Using a marker, draw the outline of your tree. Cut along the line, through both layers of green felt. Open the fabric back up to reveal your bare tree. Attach the star to the top with hot glue.

Next step is to make the ornaments. I used a cup as my stencil to make circles on the felt. I made circular ornaments for my tree because they are easy for my daughter to grab. Get creative - you can make any size or shape you desire! Use the scrap felt to spruce up the ornaments.

When it comes time to sticking the ornaments on the tree, you won't need any additional material. Thanks to a little science and the power of static electricity, felt sticks to felt like magic.


Toddler-Friendly Felt Christmas Tree Tutorial

Don't worry about making it perfect - your babe is not going to judge you if the tree is not symmetrical or the colours of your ornaments don't match. They are going to love it either way!

Now it's time to hang your tree. Using the glue gun, add a loop of string to the top of the star/tree. This will be how you hang the tree on the wall. Make sure that the wall you hang the tree on is a smooth surface. With the tape measure, measure the height of your tree on the wall. Following the directions on the package, affix the Command™Clear Medium Hook to the wall. 


Toddler-Friendly Felt Christmas Tree Tutorial

Hang the tree on the hook. Since our apartment is so dry, the felt automatically clings to the wall. However, you can repeat the above steps with a few more hooks to support the branches, if needed. Ensure the weight of the tree is evenly distributed across the hooks. 

The great thing about using these hooks for this tree is that if you don't like the placement, or need to move it for any reason, you can do so without the fear of holes or damage!

Baby-Friendly Felt Christmas Tree Tutorial

The possibilities with this tree are endless. You can add as many different colours and shapes of ornaments as you wish! If you are feeling especially creative, you can even make presents to go "under the tree" or even a stocking to hang beside (like I did in the photo above). 

To incorporate a learning experience into your felt Christmas tree, make ornaments of different shapes, sizes and colours. Add numbers and letters to the ornaments to take it to the next level.

Toddler-Friendly Felt Christmas Tree Tutorial
Toddler-Friendly Felt Christmas Tree Tutorial

Now it's time to let your little one play and have some fun with their new tree! But please remember, do not leave your child unattended while doing this activity.

For more baby-friendly activities, check out this recipe for baby-safe paint.


What are some of your tips and tricks for decorating your indoor spaces around the holidays? I'd love to hear!





*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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Toddler-Friendly Felt Christmas Tree Tutorial

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November 16, 2018

Life, It’s a Bit of a Circus


*Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and Dempster’s and have received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

As a new family of four, life is chaotic. With no sign of slowly down anytime soon. 

A “circus” is the perfect metaphor to describe us. 

Life, it's Like a Circus - NEW Dempster's Pull-Aparts

Yes, life as a new family of four is a bit of a circus. 

My husband is the magician. He works his magic to provide for our family. His days are long but he keeps the food on the table, the clothes on our backs and the roof over our heads with how hard he works. 

Our three month old is the clown. She keeps us entertained. She makes us laugh every day and reminds us to smile no matter what else is going on.

Our toddler, she’s the monkey. She’s messy, she's loud and she’s plain crazy. She’s everything a monkey is and more. Oh, and crafty. Man, oh man, is that little brain of hers smart.

And me? Not to toot my own horn, but mama bear would be the ringmaster - mastering our family's finances, schedules and life in general. I like to think I’m in charge, that I control the show and keep everyone in line. However, most days, it’s a real balancing act. Maybe I should take on the role of juggler instead…

Life, it's Like a Circus - NEW Dempster's Pull-Aparts

But back to that monkey. 

Not only are monkeys messy, loud and crafty, they also have immense amounts of energy. And with all of that energy, they’re always eating. Toddlers are the same. At least, my daughter is. She’s always eating. Girlfriend likes her food.

And as the full-time ringmaster/juggler and chef, I’m always having to come up with new snacks and meals to keep that monkey’s tummy full and happy. 

Turns out, my monkey is pretty easy to please when you find something she likes. Take bread for example. “Monkeys” like bread. She would eat it at every meal if she could. 

Life, it's Like a Circus - NEW Dempster's Pull-Aparts
Life, it's Like a Circus - NEW Dempster's Pull-Aparts

We recently took our monkey’s love of bread to the next level with the NEW Dempster’s Pull-Aparts - the sweet (but not too sweet) bun that is delicious, just the way it is. No need for butter, peanut butter or jam.

Dempster’s Pull-Aparts are the perfect snack at home and on the go, and they are now available at major retailers across Ontario. All you have to do to enjoy them is, literally, just pull them apart! There’s no wrong way to pull apart a pull-apart, even a monkey can do it!

Life, it's Like a Circus - NEW Dempster's Pull-Aparts
Life, it's Like a Circus - NEW Dempster's Pull-Aparts

But if we're like a circus, that means we're also a good team. And despite still trying to establish the foundations - we’re still learning our new routines, the ground rules and those new roles that come with them - our new family of four is just that, a team. Despite the craziness, we work well together. And only three months into this journey as a family of four, we are on our way to becoming a well-oiled machine. We have fun. We laugh loud. We love hard. We are one big happy family. 

Oh, and good food also helps.

>> You may also like: Celebrating Spring with the Perfect Toddler Tea Party


If your life was a circus, what roles would your family play? How do you juggle it all? I’d love to hear!

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November 12, 2018

Taking a Sick Day


*Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bayer®. To make sure Bayer® products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

Being a mom is a full time job. But, unlike a regular 9 to 5, being a mom is a full time job that doesn’t come with sick days. You’ve always got to be on your game, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No calling in sick.

Creating a Mom Sick Day Kit

If you’re a mom, you can agree that being sick and having to take care of little ones, is not fun. 

And while it may not always come first, now that the cold weather is here, its time to start taking care of ourselves and being extra vigilant in the fight against those pesky viruses ready to wreck havoc on your health.

But, if you do find yourself losing the battle against sickness, and so badly wanting to “call it in”, make sure you’re armed and ready to face it head on. 

Creating a Mom Sick-Day Kit

Arm yourself with a well-packed sick day kit, and be sure to include some of the following items,

For Tummy Troubles:


Chamomile Tea - helps ease the pain of an upset stomach. Keep a couple of packets in the cupboard to help reduce unpleasant cramping. 

Heating Pad - an inexpensive and cheerful way to soothe and calm your stomach. They also give you that warm comfy feeling that will make curling up on the couch much more pleasant (especially if you only have a few minutes before someone needs your attention).

For Cold & Flu:


Tissues - a no-brainer. There’s nothing worse than running out of tissues when your nose is leaking like a faucet. Keep your nose happy with a pack of your favourite soft tissues. 

Soup Packets - no on wants to cook when they’re sick and drinking soup is a great way to make sure you’re getting the liquids you need to stay hydrated. Soup is also a favourite amongst toddlers (or, at least mine), so its a win-win when you don’t need to make multiple meals.

Redoxon - a great way to get your vitamin C dose year-round whether you are sic or not. It is especially helpful when a cold throws off your usual diet, which always seems to happen when you’re sick. Just one tablet is equivalent to the vitamin C of 10 oranges**.  Available in great-tasting oranges flavours, Redoxon® also gives your water a fun fizz and flavour in case you’re getting tired of gulping down plain water all day. (**Not meant to replace food.)

hydraSense - clear your nose fast with a hydraSense® saline nasal spray. Just spray, blow and you’re clear. hydrSense is medicine-free, so you can use alongside your other cough and cold medicine. Made from 100% naturally sourced seawater, it is clinically proven to reduce and relieve nasal congestion and nasal cold symptoms. There is also a children’s version, incase they need a little help in the nasal department as well.

Creating a Mom Sick-Day Kit

For Headaches:


Over-the-Counter Pain Reliever - to help take the sting off your headache.

Essential Oils - while they may not have any scientific claim to healing, a nice peppermint, lavender or rosemary essential oil can help.

Ice Pack - can help to temporarily take the sting off a headache. Wrap the ice pack in a towel or cloth before applying for more comfort.

Creating a Mom Sick-Day Kit

With kids, sickness seems to be a never ending cycle of lovingly sharing germs. Especially if they’re in school. So, once those symptoms subside, be sure to plan ahead for the next round of sickness. Oh, the joys of parenthood.

Here are a few things you can keep on hand to get your back into your regular routine,

Getting Back on Track:


Hot Bath - when your partner gets home, pass of the kids and draw a hot bath to help clear your head and relax. Pour in some bubbles or essential oils, grab a good book and enjoy a nice, long soak. 

Sleep - nothing can truly rejuvenate your system like a full night’s rest (if you’re so lucky). Sleep plays such an important role in your overall health by reducing stress, improving mood and increasing energy. 

One A Day Multivitamins - when you are sick you may feel like you’ve been unable to eat anything, which means you may not be getting the important nutrients your body needs. One A Day® Gummies Plus Immunity Support contain zinc and vitamin C to help maintain immune health in a great-tasting gummy.

Motivational Playlist - a great playlist will lift your spirits and get you motivated to start moving again. And if you have kids that love to dance, a good dance party and a good laugh will make you feel that much better.

And there you have it - almost everything you need t make sure you’re prepared to fight the good fight when it comes to the cold weather crummies. Or in the case of being a mom, the things that can make being sick and chasing after the little ones just a little more bearable. 

REMEMBER, if your symptoms are severe or your find they are getting worse instead of better, or your children fall ill too, talk to your doctor about the best treatment for you and your family!


Do you keep a sick day kit at home? What are some of your sick day must-haves? I’d love to hear!





*Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bayer®. To make sure Bayer® products are right for you, always read and follow the label.


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Creating a Family Sick Day Kit


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November 1, 2018

Roasted Beet & Kale Salad


Looking for the perfect fall recipe that's both healthy and delicious? This recipe for Roasted Beet and Kale Salad is sure to be a tummy pleaser around the dinner table. 

Roasted Beet and Kale Salad Recipe

Beets. Some people love ‘em, some people hate ‘em. Personally, I’m a lover. Pickled, steamed, roasted, I love them all. 

I really don’t think beets get the credit they deserve. When roasted, they turn into this unexpectedly sweet vegetable. Perfect to pair with the bitterness of another one of my favourite vegetables, kale. 

Tip for buying and storing beets: When buying your beets, look for firm, small to medium-sized beets. To store, loosely wrap in paper towel and keep in refrigerator crisper for up to one week. 

Roasted Beet and Kale Salad Recipe

This recipe for Roasted Beet and Kale Salad is sure to be a tummy pleaser around the dinner table. And it may even convert those haters into lovers of this delicious, hearty root vegetable. 

Make this salad for a hearty weeknight meal or for lunches on the go. Wherever and whenever you eat it, it’s loaded with good-for-you nutrients to keep your body fuelled as the weather turns colder and all we want to do is hibernate.

Roasted Beet and Kale Salad Recipe

Roasted Beet & Kale Salad

Serves: 2

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 6 large beets
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp slivered almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Wash and dry the beets and kale.
  3. Prepare the kale by removing the middle rib and chopping roughly.
  4. Prepare the beets by cutting into bite size (approximately 1 inch) chunks.
  5. Toss the kale with salt, pepper and a small amount of olive oil. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast in the oven for approximately 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. 
  6. Toss the beets with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a small amount of olive oil. Place the chunks on lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast for approximately 45 minutes, tossing twice.
  7. While beets are roasting, make the vinaigrette. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic powder, salt and pepper in small bowl and set aside.
  8. When beets are roasted to your liking, remove from the oven and allow to cool. 
  9. In a medium bowl, combine the roasted kale and beets, thinly sliced red onion and half of the slivered almonds. Toss with honey-lemon vinaigrette. 
  10. Garnish with remainder of the slivered almonds.
  11. Enjoy!

What is your favourite (healthy) fall meal? I'd love to hear!




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Roasted Beet and Kale Salad Recipe

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