8/20/20

Everything You Need To Know To Host A Sleepover

The time has finally come, my lil' guy is ready for epic sleepovers. He's been talking about having a sleepover with his best friend since they were four, but they never went through with it. That all changed three weeks ago when Ollie took the plunge and stayed the night next door at his best friend's house. I couldn't believe he made it. I stayed up all night waiting for the call to get him. It never came. What did come was the next morning when the two boys were already planning a sleepover at our house. 

Y'all, who knew the idea of having a sleepover could cause so much angst?! Where would they sleep? What would they do all night? Do I plan activities? What do I feed them? Do I make them go to sleep? Do I just let them be crazy all night and try to not lose my mind? 

Thankfully, a little Q&A with other parents, online research and a new super comfy Gel Foam Bed gave me all the confidence needed to host an epic sleepover. Here's how it's done...

1. Pick Your Poison

The first thing you have to ask yourself, what kind of sleepover do you want to host? Do you want to be an all-out overachiever and plan an extravagant night of fun? Or do you want to be easy-breezy go with the flow? Or somewhere in the middle. Before you answer, I want to give you fair warning... If you go wild with a super themed party complete with out-of-this-world themed snacks, that is where you are setting the bar for all sleepovers to follow.

Whether you are an over-achiever or a go-with-the-flow parent, below are some great, and easy enough, ideas to help you host an epic sleepover.

DIY Pizza + Movie Marathon

Stuff the idea of ordering three pizzas with a multitude of toppings, halved on each pizza, to please everyone. Buy premade pizza rounds or dough and let everyone make their own pizza. Another great twist on the movie night popcorn is offering a popcorn topping and mix-in buffet. Again easy and crowd-pleasing!


Indoor Camping + Scavenger Hunt

This is a great idea during those cold winter months. Pitch the tent and throw in loads of pillows, blankets and fairy lights. A fun way to wear down the little ones is make up a fun scavenger hunt. Have stations with small puzzles and videos that hold the clues to the next stop. It fills the time and keeps their brains churning. 


Ultra-Girly Get Together + Mask Tye-Dye DIY

A pamper party with fun crafts is always a winner. Think: Mask tye-dye party or paint Kindness Rocks. BONUS: When the rocks are dry take a late-night neighborhood stroll to hide the rocks.


Backyard Camping + Glow-In-The-Dark Games

I LOVE the idea of blowing up a backyard pool and turning it into a cloud of pillows and blankets for a night under the stars. Keep the backyard party going with glow-in-the-dark ring toss, egg hunt, water bottle bowling and DIY faux firefly jars!


Themed Throwdown

If you feel up for the challenge, head to the party supply store and go theme crazy. Consider everything down to the pajamas and slippers. While it may kill you to go all out, your slumber party could end up being the event-of-the-year! 

Think: LEGO, Superheros, Pirates, Princess...

2. Games For The Win

Don't have the budget or time to pull together an extravagant planned sleepover? Then make sure you have a few games ready to fill the lulls in the night. Or better yet, make it a game night and keep them guessing on what's next with timed events hidden inside balloons!


There are LOADS of fun games to play at sleepovers all over the internet. Here are a few of my favs...

  • Would You Rather IRL: Make up a Would You Rather game with real-life choices! Think: Eat Sardines or clean up dog poop. (Get the kids to do all the stuff you don't want too! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!)
  • Hide & Seek: Speaking of sardines, have the kids try the new fun twist on Hide & Seek called Sardines.

 

  • Bob for Apples: It's one of the oldest party games because it NEVER GETS OLD! 
  • Keep, Pass, Eat: Even without Covid-19, it's best to use wrapped/sealed pieces of candy for this one.


  • And of course, video games. But that's a given. 

3. Snacks or Die.

Don't depend on only your pantry or the pizza dude to feed the crew. Make sure you have snacks, meals, and drinks planned. But before you head to the store, call the parents to see if you should be aware of any food allergies or forbidden foods. I have a friend who will not let her child have anything with certain food dyes. Making the call also opens the line of communication between you and the parents. 

Two of my favorite easy snack ideas were the all-night cereal bar and premade snack kit.


This little snack kit is perfect for containing spills and keeping everyone organized. 

**Whether or not you want to set up a food bar or have snacks on hand, make sure they are easily accessible and as low on sugar as possible.

4. The Sleep Spot

Being that it's a sleepover, you're gonna need a solid sleeping arrangement. After all, there is a point where sleeping should commence. Even if it's when the birds start chirping. 

This was one of my biggest concerns. Ollie has nowhere near enough room for two sleeping bags to fit on the open floor space in his room. I knew it was time to finally put a trundle bed under his open bunk bed space. He'd been using the space as a 24/7 fort, or really, the place he would stuff everything when I told him to clean his room. 

I was able to secure the Miranda gel foam bed-in-a-box mattress from Sound Sleep Solutions and was BLOWN AWAY! It's INSANE what can be done with a mattress these days. And it was SO LIGHTWEIGHT! I could carry it up the stairs by myself! In the words of my mother, "That mattress is far superior to any mattress I've ever bought." 



All Sound Sleep Solutions mattresses are made in the USA and they have been rated #1 by Better Homes and Gardens! As a bonus, the box is huge so the fun for the kids is really endless. It's possible my son was just as excited about the box as the mattress.



Y'all, if you've bought a cheap box bed in the past, and have lost all hope for them, I'm here to tell you all hope is not lost. I wholly recommend checking out Sound Sleep Solutions' Gel Foam Beds. Currently, (8/20) the company is offering a $350 off summer sale - that's basically 40% off the mattress! If you're reading this post after the sale has ended, no worries, use CODE: Firsttimemomanddad at checkout to get $350 off!

Click the image below to see full specs...




*I worked with Gel Foam Bed in the creation of the article. All opinions are my own. No affiliate links were used within this post.

7/19/20

How to Quarantine With Kids And Not Lose Your Marbles





Thanks to COVID-19, chances are you have been stuck at home with your child for what seems like forever-and-a-day. To add insult to injury, millions of children are not going back to school anytime soon. Most likely, January. So, if you're asking yourself, How in the hell am I going to survive this madness, then keep reading for a few tips to save your sanity...

1. Get over yourself. YOU CANNOT DO IT ALL!

The first rule of Stay-at-Home Parent (SAHP) Club: YOU CANNOT DO IT ALL. Seriously, let it go. Consider this time an incredible blessing with your child. Don't waste it stressing out. Your mantra is one-day-at-a-time.  There will be no parenting awards given out at the end of quarantine. Do what you can, and don't stress about the rest.



Admittedly, it took some time, but I finally learned, I'm not a superhero. Being a boss mom, wife, domestic diva, and get my work done all on the same day is crazy hard and should be avoided at all costs. I'd half-ass so much inevitably I'd have to go back and do it again. So, rather than stress out about doing it all, I do what can and I'm happy with that. 

2. Create a safe place for both of you. 

For parents of super littles (0-3yrs):
Create a place in your home where you can leave your child for a few minutes and walk away.  When Oliver was a baby, it was his crib, then eventually his pack-n-play in front of the TV or window, and now, the iPad. (That’s right, I let my kid watch TV before 2 years old. Judge me. I don’t care.)   Tip: No, Pack-n-play? The highchair with a snack is a good spot.

I LOVE this photo... it's a 10-month old Ollie!

Again, this is a 10-15 minute fix. Not a babysitter! A few minutes away can do both of you a tremendous amount of good. Get your shit together. And get back in the trenches.




For the Big Kids (4+), I've found making up a task for my son to do is great for buying a few quiet minutes, or more... folding the clothes in his drawers for a treat. Or hide something in the house and send your child on a treasure hunt, or sort toys or read a book and give a book report to earn a treat.

The point of the 'safe place' is so YOU BOTH can have a time-out whenever needed. The minute you are going to lose your shit, and it happens to the best of us when we have a child attached to our ass 24/7. 

3. Play with your child(ren), don’t just go through the motions.

One of the biggest issues with being a SAHP is getting things done. It's nearly impossible when you're answering four hundred, 'Why?' questions, cleaning up crumbs and spills and digging You child’s toys out of the dog's mouth.  I can get so caught up in the daily mom-madness I forget my  little guy is looking for a playmate. A good playmate. Not, a mommy so preoccupied in thought only sort of playing and sort of not.

I've found if I mentally prepare myself for giving my son undivided attention for the next five to ten minutes, I can relax enough to play wholeheartedly and appreciate every minute. I've also found that all my son wants is a few minutes of my attention before he is satisfied and off to the next stop in his day. I'll also offer ideas of things to do I enjoy as well  like coloring or a board game. We both have way more fun, I get up feeling like a good mom, and my son is happy to resume his solo play. It makes SUCH a difference. 

4. Get out of the House! 




The minute I get cabin fever, I pack up Ollie and we go on an adventure. Lately, picnics have been our go-to.  There's a private airfield by our house we go to for plane watching while we eat lunch or cheeky donut breakfast. We also go for hikes in the woods, bike rides or do something as simple as going on a bug, leaf, and sick hunt in the backyard. Or, just go for a drive in the car. Break up the day when possible.

5. Plan ahead to get ahead.

As soon as you finish reading this post, grab a pen and paper and write down activities both in the house and out you enjoy doing with your child. Make a separate list of activities your child(ren) enjoy doing on their own.  Cut each idea into a strip of paper and throw it in a jar. When y'all get bored, pull an idea from the jar.

6. The art of Art is truly an Art.

I don't care how old you are, arts and crafts are always fun! Plan a few creative projects to do as a family. Paint a room, redecorate, buy cheap frames to paint and personalize, then take fun photos or find old ones for the new frames. Make wind chimes from sticks and rocks in the backyard or found on a walk. Or make your own frameable art!

For more fun family crafts check out my Family Crafts Pinterest board.


6. This Too Shall Pass

No doubt, it's a blessing to get to be home with your child, even if sometimes it feels like a punishment from the land of Karma. You'll never get these years back, so embrace them. When you think you are going to lose your sh!t take a few deep breaths, then go back and look at your beautiful child. Be thankful that you are there to share these precious moments. If COVID-19 has taught us anything... every moment matters...

When you are feeling overwhelmed, remember this too shall pass and when it does you will miss it very, very, very much. 



Have a Stay At Home Parent survival tip?  Please share!



5/29/20

These Are The Fruits and Veggies With The Least, And Most, Pesticides

Each year,  the Environmental Working Group (EWG) creates a Shopper's Guide To Pesticides in Produce.  I cannot begin to tell you how helpful the guide is for parents wanting to feed their child the healthiest and safest produce available.  What's more, this guide shows which fruits and veggies don't necessarily need to be purchased organic to be safe from pesticides and GMOs.


Disgusting Fun Fact:

Nearly 70 percent of the fresh produce sold in the U.S. contains residues of potentially harmful chemical pesticides, according to EWG’s analysis of the latest test data from the federal Department of Agriculture. But the dirtiest produce commodity, according to the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program, is not a fresh fruit or vegetable but a dried one – raisins. (-EWG 2020)














Below are the two lists: Dirty vs. Clean. 
TIP: Take a screenshot of the two so when you're shopping, you know which fruits and veggies rated as dirty and should be purchased Organic (or at the very least washed REALLY WELL) and which are 'clean' and fine to be purchased conventional or non-organic. 

EWG'S CLEAN FIFTEEN FOR 2020

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Cauliflower
  10. Cantaloupes
  11. Broccoli
  12. Mushrooms
  13. Cabbage
  14. Honeydew melon
  15. Kiwi


EWG'S DIRTY DOZEN FOR 2020

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes


For more information check out the EWG’s 2020 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

These 16 Sunscreens Got Top Honors For Use On Children and Sensitive Skin (2020 Edition)

If you've been a long time reader, then you know, I was diagnosed with skin cancer at 22 years old. As a child growing up in Miami, the sun was a part of life. What wasn't a part of my life was, sunscreen. My sensitive skin would burn from the first drop of the PABA loaded, chemical concoctions that doubled as sunscreen in the early eighties. My mom tried to keep me out of the sun, but in south Florida, it was pretty much impossible.

Now that I'm a mother, and totally freaked out about my son having the same skin issues I do, I am the queen of safe fun in the sun.

Summer Safety Tips Every Parent Should Know

YAY!  It's finally here... Summer! The warm, beautiful weather, outdoor activities and family fun are plentiful this time of year. Unfortunately, so are the opportunities for sunburns, heat rashes, bug bites, water dangers, and many more summer activity hazards. Below are five important summer safety tips to help ensure a super spectacular summer!

Why yes, that is Ollie and Professor "The Bloody Cat" playing at the beach!
1. Avoid sunburns like the plague: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, getting one blistering sunburn when you are a kid doubles your chances of developing melanoma. It goes without saying the best way to avoid sunburn is to avoid the sun, but during the warm summer months that is near impossible, so always apply at least an SPF 15 sunscreen to exposed skin 30 minutes before exposure. Also, whenever possible try to provide shade for your child in the form of umbrellas, loose clothing, long-sleeves, light pants, and wide-brimmed hats.

For children under 6 months old, consult your physician before using any sunscreen. For children over 6 months old, but under 2 years old, visit The Environmental Working Group’s website (EWG.org) for an extensive list of safe sunscreens for sensitive skin.  (To read my complete post on the BEST and WORST sunscreens for the little ones Click Here.)

*If sunburn occurs and your child starts to feel ill, consult your pediatrician – seek immediate medical attention if your little one’s temperature reaches 105f.

2. Swim Smart- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 800 children drown every year. That number is scary and beyond heartbreaking. For that reason, when around any body of water with young children and poor swimmers, stay within arm's reach.

Here are a few top tips from the Red Cross on pool/water safety-
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. 
  • Do not trust a child’s life to another child 
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
    This is what I have Ollie in this Summer--They are called Puddle Jumpers.
  • Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. 
  •  Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.
  • Teach children to always ask permission to go near water!
  • If you are around water and your child is missing ALWAYS check the water first. Seconds count. 
* Secondary drowning occurs after a child has struggled in the water. It is rare and accounts for only 1-2% of drowning cases, but still be aware that if your child has struggled in the water, and swallowed water. As a result, secondary drowning is possible. Look for these warning signs:
  • Trouble breathing, chest pain, or a cough
  • A sudden change in behavior 
  • Extreme Fatigue
The bottom line is that you know your child, after a near-drowning incident or a long day of swimming,  Be aware of any sudden changes from the norm.


3. Stings and Bites-With lovely warm weather comes evil pesky bugs. Unfortunately, bright colors and floral prints (summer colors!) attract bees and wasps, as do those sweet sticky faces and hands. If you are going to a park or area that you know will have a high concentration of bugs, bees, and wasps, stick to clothing with muted light solid colors.

If your child is stung, don't pull out the stinger with fingers or tweezers. Scrape gently with a credit card to push the stinger out in the direction in which it entered. Once the stinger is out, make a paste out of baking soda and water, or a 0.5 percent hydrocortisone cream can provide relief.

As for insect repellents… DEET can be toxic! Repellents with 10 to 30 percent concentrations of DEET can be used on exposed skin, clothing and shoes, but do not apply it too little faces or hands. If you want to avoid DEET, the (CDC) recommends repellents that are made of picaridin are non-toxic and work just as well as formulas with low levels of DEET.

*The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the CDC recommend that for children older than 2 months of age use 10% to 30% DEET. DEET should never be used on children younger than 2 months of age.

*Combination sunscreen/insect repellent products should be avoided because sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, but the insect repellent should not be reapplied.

We LOVE and use the Honest Company All Natural Bug Spray and their sunblock stick for squirmy little faces...


4. Over Heating/dehydration/and heat rashes- The key to avoiding overheating is to stay hydrated. Always have cool drinks, preferably water or sports drinks readily available to your children. Never wait for your child to tell you he is thirsty. According to the AAP, your child is already dehydrated when he asks for something to drink, so offer lots of fluids both before going outside and once your child is outside playing.   

* Hot, humid weather can lead to blocked sweat glands that lead to nasty rashes in the folds of your child’s skin. If this occurs, place your child in a cool, soapless bath.  Dry him completely then apply cornstarch powder to the rash, and avoid unnecessary clothing.  The rash should clear up in two to three days.

5. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CHILD UNATTENDED IN THE CAR FOR A MINUTE! Next time you are alone in your car, turn it off and count to 60 - Not very comfortable is it?  Within one minute your car can increase by ten degrees Fahrenheit!  TEN! Under no circumstance should your child be left in a car. 

*Even the very best parents and caregivers have been known to forget about a sleeping child in the backseat. A good rule of thumb is to keep a small stuffed animal in the car, and every time you get in place the small stuffed animal in your lap to remind you that your child is in the car. Or place your purse/laptop bag in the backseat with your child, so you have to get in the backseat before leaving your car. (Thanks for the tip, Mel!) This is especially useful in the mornings.  This may save your child’s life.  

If you have any experiences or tips that you would like to share...please leave a comment below.  Have a happy and safe summer!

And last, a bonus, and something near to my heart, proper eye care during the summer season, and all year long... you don't want crows feet right?  The following infographic will blow your mind!




*Sources

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