Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mom Tips - For Children's Things, #2

I so enjoy the little "mom tips" that I've come across in life - those little things that I've learned learned from my mom, or a mom friend, that just make life a little nicer.  Things that make the "daily-daily" just a little easier, or make me smile a little more, or maybe will be a time saver for me.  I'm not referring to the bigger projects like de-cluttering or re-organizing, (although those definitely make me smile)!  But just the small things - the "mom tips" that aren't in the self-help books, they're just life-experience things that I've gotten from a mom with experience under her belt.  Well I'll share with you some of my Mom Tips for Children's Things, part 2 (here is part 1); I hope they bring a simple breath of fresh air to your regular every day patterns!  *smile*

~ Diaper bag preparedness.  I totally rely on our diaper bags to keep me fully prepared when we're out.  I like to have everything I could need to enable any situation to go smoothly, which effects the whole family's experiences, time, and the success of our outings.  I have one bag for each toddler or baby who needs one, stocked with the items each could need; currently this is 3 bags kept in our van at all times (unless being refilled before being sent right back to the van).  Our twin babies have one bag together, and our 1-year-old, and our 2-year-old each have one.

In the photo you can see all of the items I keep in a diaper bag.  A whole package of Costco baby wipes (the best in the world, in my opinion, never going dry, nice and thick so my hands stay clean using one at a time, and inexpensive); several diapers; an extra onesie undershirt and an extra outfit in that child's current size, in case of diaper blow outs; a bib, baby spoon, and empty sippy cup which can contain any liquid I need it to (we actually keep 2 of each of these items in our twin's bag); a container of cheerios in case I ever need to hold the babies off until the next meal unexpectedly, or in case I'm in a Dr.s office or something and need to keep babies quiet if they're fussy; the padded changing pad that comes with the diaper bag, to keep baby off of public changing station surfaces or floors; a mini Purell hand sanitizer for my hands; infant Tylenol for teething comfort; a mini baby powder which I put into a fresh diaper to help baby's pants smell nice when they sometimes have absorbed a bad odor having contained a pooey diaper for a while, and I desire baby to smell as clean as I know she is; Desitin diaper rash ointment; a bag of diaper baggies to contain pooey diapers; a mini room spray in case we cause a friend's room in their house to be really stinky and I don't want to leave it that way; and two diapers for our toddler boys, kept separately in a side pocket outside the diaper bag, so when we're out I don't usually need to carry in the boy's diaper bag's, too.

 I load the items in to the diaper bag in order of how often I need to access them.  Extra outfit and onesie on the very bottom, below the wipes; bib & spoon on inside pockets; mini supplies in their own bag in a side pocket with the changing pad; sippy cups in either external side pockets; toddler diapers in external side pocket.  Then nothing is in my way when I open the bag - out trip to change pants is quick and easy, and can be done easily with one hand in the bag and one hand on the baby.  *smile*
 ~ Water ready.  When making bottles for our babies I always desire to use room temp water with the formula.  This is enjoyable for baby, and very easy for me both when I'm at home and when I'm out.  We used to serve warmed bottles for our first baby or two, but that was a huge headache when we were out or at church to try to somehow get the bottle warmed to just the right temperature for baby.  So now they're always room temp. and this is SO easy.  And to make things every easier, I keep a 24 oz. water bottle (the kind that store-bought water is sold in) in the cupboard full of water.  Whenever I'm ready to make bottles I just use that water which has sat at room temp. for a while so that I don't have to sit at the faucet adjusting the water temp...adjusting...adjusting...waiting for the water to be just right.  I just pour strait from the water bottle in the cupboard.  When I've filled baby bottles up an there isn't enough in the water bottle for next time I fill it from the tap at that time so that it'll have time to sit and get to room temp. before the next feeding.  And I keep a 16 oz. water bottle in the diaper bag for when I'm out and not near a sink for water, or in case we need to make bottles in the van on-the-go.  Time efficient!
~ Hear no evil, see no evil.  I'm applying this principle to chewing gum for our children. *wink* *chuckle*  We don't have our children chew gum until they are old enough to be responsible with it; this has been about age 5 for our girls, and about age 7 for our boys.  We are not willing to have gum ruin the carpet, the furniture, or stick in the children's hair.  It is also our opinion that gum looks sloppy and cheap for people to be slapping it around in their mouth - for children or adults.  When I went to create some rules for our children's gum chewing I had quite a list, which would be difficult for children to remember and apply.  So I instead combined all of my list of rules in to just two family rules that would cover the whole list:  no one should hear your gum, or see it.  That way it does not leave their mouths and it is not a distraction for someone to listen to during conversation.  We also only chew one half of a piece of gum at a time, which enables the children to easily implement our family rules pretty effortlessly.  The gum can freshen breath, clean teeth, or just tastes nice for a while - but no one hears it or sees it.  We also choose to cut all of the gum from a package in to half pieces right when we open it, and we dump all the halves into a baggie.  This way there is no tearing a "half" piece of gum in to actually 1/4 and 3/4-size pieces, no one can complain that they got "jipped", and everyone is content and happy when they choose their piece from the baggie.  And, we do not buy "bubble gum" as that is simply too tempting to not blow bubbles with.  We buy fun flavors, though, like Extra's "Key Lime Pie", "Watermelon", or Trident's "Apple Pineapple", "Strawberry Citrus", or mint flavors.  *smile*
~ Crib climbers & cats.  If you've had a toddler who disagrees with your choice to have him sleep in a crib and climbs out often, a Crib Tent II is a miraculous invention!  We've had this problem with two children, and the Crib Tent is such a simple, safe solution.  My mommy's heart and mind are immediately put at rest.  And I'd recommend the Crib Tent II over the Crib Tent I (we've owned both) as it is a better design with the sides of the crib enclosed in the mesh as well as the top space (which incidentally also keeps pacifiers inside the crib).  This is also a great solution if you have a cat which could climb in to a crib and sit on the baby's face and cause suffocation.  We used to have to locate our cat around the house somewhere always before closing our baby's bedroom door to make sure he wasn't in the room with the baby.  With a crib tent baby would be totally protected.  Crib tents can be purchased for about half the retail price (half would be $30-40) on Ebay.
~ Storing silk flower hair clips.  We store the girls' silk flower hair clips on two ribbons in their bathroom.  I used a push-pin to tack the ribbon to the wall at the top.  This way the flower petals do not get bent or squashed as they do in a drawer, and the girls can also see their full selection at-a-glance.  Pretty.  *smile*
~ Labeling diaper bags.  I make a laminated name tag for each of our diaper bags.  This is valuable for church (especially if you leave your children in a church nursery), if you have a diaper bag that is identical to other people's (such as the free ones from the hospital, or if you purchased an identical bag to a friends because you liked it so much - like I did!  *laugh*), or if/when a diaper bag is left some where on accident.  And it is very easy to do!  Kinko's will make a luggage tag for people by laminating a business card.  I simply use some cute scrapbook paper and cut out 2 business-card-size rectangles (for the front and back of the name tag), print the child's name out on the computer 2 times in a font I like (one for each side of the tag), and have them laminate it for me for a couple dollars.  The hard plastic laminated card comes with the clear, stretchy cord for attaching it to the bag.

~ Baby powder bottoms.  I used to think that baby powder was such a gimmick - why would someone ever strive to make a baby's bottom softer, I wondered?  But then we discovered a great use for it!  Maybe it's what baby powder was always intended to do, but no one ever told me about it.  Whenever our children have pooey pants now and they've been in them for a while, say during nap time or in the car, and their clothes then stink even if the clothes are technically clean, then after we get them cleaned up we put a lot of baby powder into their clean diaper and seal them up.  *chuckle*  Then they actually smell as clean as we know they are.  Other wise it's common for someone to pick them up, right after they've been changed, an say, "Oh...this one's pooey", when in actuality the little one's clothes are just a bit odious from their last diaper.  With baby powder bottoms we know and smell that the little one is fresh and clean, especially when we're away from home!  I keep a mini baby powder bottle in each diaper bag just for this reason.

~ Stirred not shaken.  When we make baby bottles with formula for newborn through about 6 months or so we stir the formula with a little whisk to mix instead of shaking it.  This eliminates the foam, which helps prevent gassy tummies and spitting up.

~ CamelBak's.  We got to a point years ago where we were exceeding in one day the number of tumbler drinking glasses we had.  I couldn't really buy more because our kitchen is too small to store any more.  So I purchased 24 oz. water bottle for each of the older children (and keep sippy cups of water for little ones) and we fill these daily and keep them out on the table all day for the kids to drink from.  This also eliminates the need for me to be getting drinks of water for younger kids.  I can also control their water quantity at certain times of day for certain people, say just before nap time, or before bed time at night, or even before a meal when certain kids tend to fill up with water and then be too full for the meal.  If they finish their entire bottle during the day then they earn a sticker for their chart (watch for a future post on incentives), and then they get to drink other things like milk or iced tea.  We've tried many different kinds of cheap water bottles and most of them failed the many-kids test.  *wink*  The lids would pop off when the bottle tipped over, dumping 24 or 32 oz. all over school work and the floor.  Or the bottles would crack and leak.  From a friend's recommendation we finally got CamelBak's!

These are not the most inexpensive water bottles ($10-15 each), so my parents gave these to the kids one year for Easter.  However the bottles have lasted us for YEARS - no more replacing water bottles!  Their lids never pop off, and they rarely leak when on their sides (unless someone has removed the bite valve at the mouth).  We have a different color for each child.  The bottles also come in 32 oz., but I felt those would be too tall and more likely to tip over, and they'd be very heavy for the 4 and 5-year-olds; 24 oz. size has been perfect.  And I can buy replacement straws and bite valves when they crack over time when they split after a while they last for years first, though).  I also hardly ever have to wash them because we empty them out completely every night, and flick the water out of the straw, and let them air dry; so they never get yucky.  One of the best tools we've owned.

~ Handful of raisins.  All moms have probably experienced at some point what can happen to a child's "diaper" if they've had too much!  Yikes!  And older kids tummy's don't feel very good having had too much, either.  So my general rule of thumb has become that each child may have a quantity of dried fruit equal to one of their own handfulls.  For us this has been a good-sized portion, but no one's uncomfortable (including mom's nose while doing diapers!).  Older children have their-sized handful; toddlers have their own sized handful.

~ Moving up in the world.  Diaper explosions are NOT so fun to handle in our experience - standing there with the child wondering where to begin cleaning up???  So we put our babies and toddlers into the diaper size that holds what it needs to for at least 3-4 hours, no matter what the diaper box label recommends.  We habitually and proactively change our children's pants at certain times of day, unless they have pooey pants before that time and need a sooner change.  Typically this means upon waking up in the morning, then again late morning, after lunch before nap time, when they wake up from naps 3 hrs. later, and before bed.  Our babies start in size 1 when they're born (our babies have always averaged 8 lbs. at birth, so they're always beyond the newborn size), but as soon as they've flooded their diaper 2-3 times we determine that it's time for the next size and move them up (after finishing up what we've already purchased).  So flooding diapers is our cue to move to the next size.  No sense in continuing to flood.

~ Tylenol on record.  I keep a 4x6" size Post-It note stuck inside our kitchen cupboard near to where I keep the Tylenol for teething babies, and cold medicine (up high above the stove, out of reach of children).  This way I do not have to retain in my mind who had Tylenol when.  We've often had more than one teether at a time and with everything that goes on at our house I do not want to have to rely upon my memory to know when to give Tylenol again if they need it, and to be sure I never give it too early.  I just write it down and move on.  *smile*  On the far left size I write a single initial to tell me who had Tylenol, then the time with "am" or "pm" beside it, and then a letter to tell me what day of the week it was.  If I gave cold medicine then I write down "cold" beside that person's record so I'll know it was wasn't Tylenol that time but cold medicine instead.  This is also good for when someone else in the family, my husband or our oldest daughter, feels that a child needs Tylenol but isn't sure if that child has already had some or not, or when it was given.

~ B.R.A.T. Diet for the flu.  My mom taught me that "flu stomach's" should have a "BRAT diet" while they're sick, which consists of foods easy to digest, and soothing to their stomach, given in tiny quantities, 30 minutes apart, making sure they've not thrown up in that time having eaten earlier..  "B" is for bananas, "R" is for rice (white), "A" is for apple sauce, and "T" is for tea.  We also give soda crackers as soda is soothing to stomach acids, and sips of Coke because Coke syrup is also soothing.  We stir the carbonation out of the coke and serve it flat so as to not upset a sick tummy.  It does have sugar, of course, but they only sip on it during the roughest time of throwing up to get fluids down and bring some comfort to their tummy.  You can buy Coke syrup by itself, but we've never used it as that's just not tasty.

~ Locks to protect closet contents.  When we recently had a terrible time keeping young kids out of the close that contains craft supplies, office supplies, and games.  Also in the children's bedrooms when a young child is having a 30 minute "play alone time" in there and we don't want him or her accessing things in the closet (much less dumping out the closet).  So my husband came up with a couple of ideas that have worked beautifully.  *aaah!*  The first idea was to put two short, adjustable shower curtain rods on each side of the sliding doors, which we'd take down to open up a side of the closet.  This worked great, but was a bit of a hassle when we needed to open up the left side door as we had to remove the left curtain rod, and then the right-side curtain rod also just to get to the left side.

The second idea is the one we stuck with after that which has also been even better for us.  My husband drilled a small hole through both doors (when closed completely) and inserted a long nail through both doors to keep them from sliding open.  This way when we desire to open 0ne door we simply slide the nail out enough that it frees the doors to slide and then push it back in all the way to lock it again.  In our sons' bedroom closet which they access periodically during the day time we keep the nail out and hidden in a safe place, and only put the nail in during a young child's "play alone time".

~ Bite-size pieces for bite-size kids.  When we're taking a picnic lunch in the car (rarely), I pack crackers for the kids that are bite-size so they can pop them in their mouth and not bite in to them causing crumbs to go everywhere - and from 9 kids - which is a big mess.  This usually means Cheeze-Its or Fish crackers - not the most nutritious, but it's not a staple food item at home so I don't worry about it.  I also typically bring string cheese which is also very clean to eat, and apple slices which are clean to eat, they don't get squished easily, and which quench thirst well, enabling kids to not need as much water to drink (causing more necessary potty stops).

~ Beads we both love.  My sister just came up with a great idea for enabling her children to make bead necklaces for her that she really enjoys (we both have a lot of plastic bead necklaces by now) and that her children can be proud of having made!  She purchases a package of matching glass beads (varying in size, and having a color theme amongst them) and some elastic cording for jewelry-making (Michael's craft supply, about $8 for the beads, but with one of their weekly 40% off coupons it's only about $5!).  She then let her little daughter string the beads in whatever order she wanted to, and it was so pretty.  My sister cut the elastic cord long enough to make a necklace that hangs down about 10-inches from her neck which she can then wear long, or double it around her neck for a short length.  There are no clasps to deal with due to the stretchiness and length, and when she's holding a little child they can handle the necklace without the possibility of it breaking.  I love this!  Michael's coupon here I come!

~ Invisible nutrition.  Once in a while I make a recipe that contains an unusual, "scary" food item.  *chuckle*  For example, I have a beef and vegetable stew that is yummy but one of the ingredients is marinated artichoke hearts which have a slimy texture in our opinion.  But they add amazing flavor!  So I puree them before adding them to the stew.  *smile*  That way we all get the yummy taste and nutrition, but no one has to see them or experience the texture (which I personally don't like either, so I can empathize).

~ Kids in the diaper bag.  I heard what I thought was a great idea recently for keeping as a safety measure.  A friend keeps a fairly current photo of each of her children in her diaper bag so if one of them were ever lost while out in public (heaven forbid), she would have a current picture of that child to show to authorities...Not a thought I like to think about, but a very good idea none-the-less.

~ Kids in the phone.  Similar to the idea above, another friend simply takes a photo of each of her children with her cell phone upon arriving at a public place where children could get separated from their family, such as at the zoo.  Then she has in her phone an exact photo of that child, including what they were wearing that day so she doesn't have to try to recall that information!  Brilliant I think.

~ Textbook bookmark/proper-opener.  Our son was constantly losing book marks for his workbook causing him to waste time looking for his place (you wouldn't think this would be time consuming - but for him it was), and he was also not able to keep the large book propped open so he could easily work on it.  So I put a rubber band around the completed pages, on the left side which serves as a book mark as well as a tool to keep the book held open for him.  Works beautifully.


~ Baggied teethers.  We keep our baby teethers cold in the refrigerator, but the compartments where condiments stand up in the door isn't where I'd like the teethers to rest that will go in to our baby's mouth.  I keep our refrigerator pretty clean, but it still gets dirty from use of course, and I wouldn't have our baby lick the surface, so I don't feel that teethers that rested on those surfaces shouldn't be in their mouth either.  So I use a strong, freezer, Ziplock sandwich baggie and keep the teethers in there, with the baggie open (not zipped closed) and standing up in a door compartment where I can easily reach in and take out the teethers when ever a baby needs one; and it goes right back there when they're done with it.  Teethers are cold but still clean. 

~ Which diaper is which?  We have four children in diapers and therefore varying sizes of diapers in the house simultaneously, and often in the same place.  We have a changing table in our bedroom, which is on the main level of the house and easily accessible, but the bottom drawer contains 2 to 3 sizes of diapers.  So when I stack them in the drawer together I always put the piles with the number of the size pointing up where I can see which pile is which at a glance.  Size 6, size, 4, size 3 - clearly looking up at me; no mistakes which waste time, and no switching a smaller diaper for a larger one after a change, having realized that I just put a size 3 on a size six toddler.  Oops.  *smile*


~ Thicken it up.  Gerber rice cereal works great to thicken any pureed baby foods, making it easier to feed to baby without a drippy mess that's not even getting in to their mouth.  It also works great to thicken soups for our 1 and 2-year-olds for the same reason, so that they can eat (or be fed it) more easily and without even changing the taste.

~ Painting without table protection.  I used to get out plastic table covers when our children desired to paint, but that was such a hassle and wasn't always a flat surface.  So now I draw a 1-inch "artist margin" around the edge of the paper, similar to what a professional painter has in order to create a space at the edge for framing.  The rule is then that the child needs to paint only within that boarder, not near the edge of the paper causing paint to get on the table - and I don't need to protect the table then!  Our 5-year-old daughter stays within that margin easily, and so she gets to paint more often because preparing to paint and clean up are pretty easy.

~ Monitors that don't tempt.  Our 4 computers that the children use are kept in the same room as our play room, and we've had problems when toddlers are tempted to play with the mouse for the computer and start clicking on things (even when they technically need to log on to access the whole computer).  So we just started turning off the monitors when children are not using the computer (not the computer off, just the monitor).  This way there is no "reward" when a toddler handles a mouse, as they don't see anything happen. 

I would really love to hear about any other Mom Tips you have for Children Things!  You can add them to this post in the comments section.  Let's all add a little "Nice!" to our daily-daily!  

Blessings on your day today!

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