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6 Best Dog Breeds For Families With Small Kids

By Gen Cohen

It's not unusual for families to adopt a dog around the same time as having their own children. But are some dog breeds better suited for families with small children? We were recently asked that, so we reached out to Dr. Eva Radke, DVM, of the East San Rafael Veterinary Clinic in California to see what we could come up with.

There are various things to consider, according to Radke, aside from a dog just being a family-friendly breed. She recommends taking your own daily life into account. "Are you an active family who spends a lot of time hiking, running, and camping?" she asks. "Or do you tend to stay home cooking and enjoying movies? You will want to choose a dog whose temperament, size, and energy level best matches your family."

At the end of the day, it's also important to remember that your dog is just that: a dog. "Even the gentlest-mannered dog is still an animal with her own set of instincts and ways to express herself," Radke said. She suggests you never leave your small children unattended with the dog, just in case, and always supervise them when they're together. Your pup may always tolerate the ear and tail tugs from your kid, but you don't want to run the risk of the dog snapping one day when you aren't paying attention.

Scroll through to find six dog breeds Radke said are best suited for families, based on each breed's typical personality traits.

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10 WTF Surprises of Being a New Mom That You'll Never Read in Any Book

By Gen Cohen

Like most women, I was nervous about becoming a mom and worried a lot about what it would be like. I tried to prepare myself as best I could, and while I didn't read all the baby books, I definitely asked around. Before I gave birth, I knew I might be surprised by the challenges of breastfeeding and the weird noises my newborn would make in her sleep. I heard all about the squeeze bottle I'd soon keep by the toilet. And I was warned to get my sleep in now.

But there are some things I realized soon after becoming a mom that no one ever told me and I certainly didn't find while flipping through What to Expect When You're Expecting, or even when reading articles online chronicling the "37 Most Shocking Things You Never Knew About Motherhood." Here, 10 of the real surprises no one warns you about.

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4 Easy Ways to Transition Your Nursery to a Little-Kid Room

By Gen Cohen

This past weekend, we moved my almost 3-year-old son from his crib to a big-boy bed. The transition hasn't exactly been seamless — he's transitioned himself to our bed every night around 2 a.m. — but the design process of transforming his nursery (check it out below) into a room fit for a growing boy (you can see his above): well, that was breezy.

Here's how you can turn your baby's bedroom into a little-kid space easily and affordably.

  1. Think ahead. If possible, design your nursery with the mindset that it won't always be the home of a newborn baby. Try to pick transitional wall colors (Benjamin Moore's Gray Owl is a personal, gender-neutral favorite), furniture pieces that will grow with your child (a sturdy dresser and a book case are my must-have investment pieces), and even artwork that doesn't scream baby. I had a gallery of photographer Sharon Montrose's baby animal prints in my son's nursery. While the collection hanging together seemed a bit baby-ish to me, a single baby zebra still looks great above his big-boy bed.
  2. Work within your nursery color scheme. My son's nursery was pretty neutral, with pops of mustard yellow and a medium grayish blue. When I spotted a camp-themed duvet from Serena & Lily that matched pretty much everything in his nursery, I jumped on it, even though he was years away from a big-boy bed. With that purchase, I guaranteed I could use his existing rug, pillows, blankets, storage baskets, and lamps, saving me tons of money.
  3. Get rid of the glider to make room for a play area. After you've spent years pretty much living in your glider for nursing, cuddling, and bedtime book sessions, it can be hard to imagine life without it. But, now's the time to move it to a different room (mine is currently my favorite reading spot in our master bedroom). With that real-estate now open, you can set up a sweet play space for your little kid, which both encourages independent play and gets some toys out of your living room. Consider adding a fun tent or play canopy to the room (I'm in love with the Land of Nod rocket ship I just purchased for my son), a play kitchen, or a reading nook.
  4. Ditch the crib. Even if your crib transitions to a toddler bed, I'd recommend ripping the Band-Aid off and making the switch to a twin or full-size bed. An official big-boy or -girl bed is an exciting thing for a little kid (my son wouldn't let his sister even sit on his for a week, despite screaming "I hate this bed" the whole two hours his dad was putting it together) and sends a message about their new "non-baby" status, which can be helpful if you're also working on potty training and/or new big-sister or-brother duties.

 

www.roshambobaby.com

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How This Mom's Morning Routine Sets Her Up for Success

By Gen Cohen

 

There's no denying that family mornings are hectic. Parents and kids need to eat breakfast, get dressed, gather belongings… there are lots of moving parts, and an ill-fitting sock, a missing glove, or spilled orange juice can derail the schedule in an instant. But busy mornings don't have to be stressful, and there are ways to find moments of bliss within the chaos. Here are a few methods that work for my (mostly functional) family of four.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / THEM TOO

Wake Up Early. I set my alarm for 20 minutes before my youngest child usually yells, "Mama!" What do I do in this time? I stretch, freshen up, pull on a robe, and page through the newspaper or listen to morning news radio for a few minutes — by myself. That alone time is the perfect way to create a calm front to meet the whirlwind of energy that my kids create when they literally jump out of bed. Not a morning person? Try 10 minutes early at first and I'll bet you'll find this change helps you feel more rested overall. Bonus: This practice gives me a jump on the day when I sit down to my desk, too. No need to scroll through headlines, I've already had my morning news fix, so I can get right to work. That means the whole day is more productive.

Cue the Music. When my children bound down the stairs with requests for everything from clean shirts to buttermilk pancakes (not likely on a weekday, kid!), I put on some music. As a family, we created a "Morning Mix," which includes a little Beach Boys, a few Adele songs, and yes, one favorite Alvin and the Chipmunks number. The music creates a sense of ease that helps the morning flow, plus it's a mood booster that lifts their—and my—spirits well into the afternoon hours.

Savor a Taste. As the rush to brush teeth and put on shoes and tie ponytails swirls around me, I keep my sanity by focusing on the steaming cup of coffee I'll pick up after school drop-off. Each warm, rich sip reminds me to take things slow and steady as I begin the part of the day that is my own.

Bag the Accessories. Winter comes with… stuff. We stay organized by keeping child hats, gloves, and scarves in a bag in the entry closet. When the kids come home, they know the accessories go right into the bag. As we head out the door, the bag gets dumped and everyone grabs their respective items. It's messy but it works, which is pretty much our family motto.

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26 Easy, Wholesome Baby Food Recipes

By Gen Cohen

Easy, healthy snacks for babies and toddlers beyond Cheerios and bananas, from Boddler Bites: Food in a Flash.

Tags: Baby Food

From the editors of Parenting.com

A is for Avocado
Chop peeled avocado into bite-sized pieces. Puree crackers or chips in food processor. Pour over avocado pieces and gently toss.

Hoping to raise a natural baby? Read how!

B is for Beans
Puree (canned, rinsed) white beans with a little milk and stir into Alfredo sauce. Stir into prepared pasta.

C is for Cottage Cheese
Stir into scrambled eggs, prepared quinoa or pasta sauce.

D is for Desserts!
Like chocolate-covered banana treats—Drizzle organic, melted, semi-sweet chocolate chips over banana slices. 

E is for English Muffin
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Spread light canned tuna (drained & mixed with a little plain yogurt) on English muffin. Top with grated cheddar cheese. Bake for 8-10 minutes. 

F is for Fish Sticks
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Slice ½-pound cod, halibut or salmon fillets into 1-inch "fish stick" strips. On small plate, spread out 1/3 cup whole wheat flour. In small bowl, mix 2 eggs and 2 Tbsp. milk together. Lightly coat fish sticks in flour, then dredge in egg mixture and cover with ground, organic potato chips. Bake on greased baking sheet for 6-7 minutes per side, until cooked through. 

G is for Grapefruit
Cut grapefruit in half (crosswise), remove seeds and use serrated knife to separate sections. Sprinkle each side with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and drizzle with 1 Tbsp. maple syrup. Broil on tray for 5 minutes. Scrape out grapefruit sections and serve warm. Top with vanilla yogurt if desired.  

H is for Hummus
Spread on crackers, toast or pita bread. 

I is for International Food!
Like French store bought crepes (in produce section) spread with any of the following and roll up: cream cheese, jam, diced fruit, yogurt, grated cheese, Nutella, nut butters, ricotta cheese, maple syrup or honey. Cut into pieces. 

J is for Jicama
Mix plain yogurt with mild salsa and use dip for jicama sticks. 

Preparation tip: Peel jicama with paring knife from top to bottom. Once peeled, rinse and pat dry; then cut through the middle. Lay flat and cut into strips. Steam until tender (to avoid potential choking hazard for young Boddlers). For older Boddlers, it’s delicious raw. Tastes like sweet carrots.

K is for Kale
Make kale chips! Wash and de-stem one bunch of kale. Pat dry. Toss in 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil, lightly coating both sides. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes on 300ºF. 

L is for Lemon Yogurt
Make lemon yogurt pancakes by preparing 1 cup whole grain pancake mix as directed. Stir in 1/2 cup lemon yogurt. Add a handful of fresh or frozen blueberries to batter, if desired. Cook as usual. 

M is for Milkshake
Make a berry milkshake by blending the following until smooth: 1 cup milk, 1 cup any flavor yogurt, 3/4 cup fresh/frozen berries and 1 tsp. honey. Add ground flaxseed or wheat germ if desired. 

N is for Nuts
Grind/chop and toss into cereal or yogurt. 

O is for Olives
Canned, jarred or fresh pitted olives. Rinse, drain and cut in quarters. 

P is for Pineapple
Mash diced pineapple pies with a little cream cheese. Spread on crackers.

Q is for Quinoa.
Make Quinoa Balls! Cook 1 cup quinoa according to package. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 Tbsp. butter, ½ cup shredded cheese and pinch of salt. Let cool. Form into mini, bite-sized balls. 

R is for Ravioli
Cook (whole wheat, if possible) ravioli as directed. Stir in pasta sauce or jarred pesto. Cut into bite-sized pieces. 

S is for Sugar Snap Peas
In medium bowl, toss 2 cups sugar snap peas (fresh or frozen) with 2 tsp. olive oil and 2 pinches of sea salt. Spread in one layer on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 425ºF for 6-8 minutes. 

T is for Tomato Soup
Cook ¼ cup dry lentils or open organic canned beans (rinse and drain). Puree ¼ cup lentils or beans with 1 tsp. olive oil until smooth. Stir into warmed, canned or boxed organic low sodium tomato soup. Top with grated cheese. 

U is for Under the Sea!
Let your baby try seafood, like canned salmon. Open a can of salmon and drain. Stir 2 Tbsp. salmon into prepared mac n' cheese, prepared pasta or a mashed and buttered sweet potato.

V is for Veggie Burger
Heat according to package, top with cheese and/or spread on some avocado. 

W is for Watermelon
Make watermelon soup by pureeing two cups watermelon, 1 cup strawberries and 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt. Serve chilled. 

X is for Xmas Dishes!
Buy boxed (ideally, organic) stuffing mix and prepare as directed on package. Stir in cooked, drained spinach or kale.  

Y is for Yams
Steam yams with peeled, diced apples, until tender. Mash with a little butter. 

Z is for Zucchini
Make your own zucchini fries. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Slice whole zucchini into "French fry" strips. Place strips on greased baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and pinches of salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool and serve. 

These yummy ideas were taken from Food in a Flash: Boddler Bites

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Cheater's Guide to a Clean House

By Gen Cohen

Having kids and a clean house may seem like an impossible dream. But with our cleaning tricks, you'll satisfy even the neatest of neat freaks.

From the editors of Parenting.com

 

Get over your high standards

That's the main obstacle to a clean and pleasant house, not the spitup stains and spilled Cheerios. "We say we don't have the time to clean because perfectionism takes over," says Marla Cilley, whose website, FlyLady.net, offers housecleaning advice. "Or we burn out because we do too much in one room. Instead, just set the timer and see what you can get done."

Set the timer for 15 minutes

That's about how long most children can stay busy on a task or content in the bouncy seat while you tackle a chore. Divvy up your housecleaning into 15-minute projects and aim to do two or three a day, when you can squeeze them into your schedule. Besides, it's a psychological boost to have a limit on cleaning.

Guilt inducer: You're not Martha Stewart

It might seem very June Cleaver, but moms today still feel like they have to be quintessential homemakers, even when they have so many other responsibilities. Competition between moms also adds to stress.

Ditch the guilt: Remember that your baby needs you more than your furniture needs polishing. "It's important that your home is a safe environment where your child can learn and explore. It doesn't have to be ready for the president to visit," says Aviva Pflock, coauthor of "Mommy Guilt: Learn to Worry Less, Focus on What Matters Most, and Raise Happier Kids."

Get the kids involved

Take advantage of the fact that your kids want to be with you every waking moment and recruit them for housework. Just be sure to stick to the 15-minute rule or they'll start to mess up what you've already cleaned!

Toddlers can become expert dusters with electromagnetic cloths, baby wipes, or small feather dusters. Give them sponges and they can wipe off the shower stall, tub, or sink. And don't forget the simplest way to tidy up: picking up toys.

Preschoolers can empty small trash baskets into a bigger bag. They can also clean windows using a spray bottle of water mixed with a squirt of lemon juice or vinegar, and they can scrub corners and small spaces with a toothbrush or nail brush. Or have them help with floors: They can use a handheld vacuum or a kid-size broom (available at toy stores).

School-age kids can vacuum carpets, sweep floors, and clean sinks with disinfectant or bleach wipes. They can also learn about the environment by putting out items for recycling.

An ounce of prevention

Save cleaning time by keeping big messes from happening in the first place. A room-by-room guide:

Kitchen
Wipe up spills right away and don't leave sauce-covered spoons or greasy pans for too long -- they'll muck up the sink, and you'll have to scrub it down, too.

Bathroom
Wipe the sink each morning after use (dried-out toothpaste is a pain to remove). Keep a sponge in the cabinet for handy access. Squeegee the shower walls and door every couple of days to prevent mildew and water stains.

Living room/dining room/entrance
Invest in an outside doormat. Have family members shed shoes when they enter (feet drag in 80 percent of dirt in the home). Spray cloth-covered furniture with Scotchgard or other stain repellent (if not already treated) for easy cleanup

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