Daily Checklist for Toddler’s Schedule

I  love schedules. In my former life, a boss of mine introduced me to a color coded, “Ideal Day” schedule. It. Changed. My. Life. I had everything scheduled out, short of bathroom breaks. But even then, the perfect time was “white space” time! That schedule made me so happy and it really kept me on track. Well, fast forward several years to being a stay at home mom, and I can’t seem to get on a schedule to save my life.

It feels like every time we get into a groove, little man changes it up! 

Maybe it’s because I don’t work outside of the home or because we don’t have other kids to keep us on a time table but sometimes it seems like our schedule can change pretty drastically from day to day or week to week. Even so, it’s really important to me that we have a schedule of daily activities that we include in our day.

So, I came up with a checklist! I have written down the main activities that I want each day to include. Then, I just check it off after we do it. This really helps me not to waste the day, even if little man decides he’d like to nap at 10am instead of noon (which has already happened twice this week!).

Daily Checklist for Toddler's Schedue

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure for more information.)

What are the main activities?

I’m glad you asked! 

Independent Play 

For the most part, this happens after meals while I clean up. Not only is it helpful to me but it’s great for him to learn to do things on his own. 

Bible Time

(Usually) In the morning we have Bible time. It’s not too “structured” but it has been a priority to teach my son this habit since day one. I just pull out his My Big Handy Bible  and let him flip through. I read the stories as he lands on them. I make it a point to have props on hand that might enhance the story, like our spray bottle for Noah’s Ark! We also sprinkle in songs that go with the stories. 

Music Time 

I like to make sure to do about 15 minutes of music time with my son each day. He loves to dance and will dance throughout the day but this is a time where we sing songs, play instruments and of course… dance! Check out this post for music time ideas. 

Outdoor Time 

This could be a splash in the pool, a walk around an outdoor shopping center, using our season pass at the little local amusement park or a “nature walk” down to the mailbox! Whatever it is, I like to make sure that every day we get out of the house. 

Sensory Play 

Each day we do about 15 minutes of sensory play. We use sensory bottles, water bags (Ziploc bags with colored water inside), wax paper and anything else I can come up with… the kitchen is a great place to find sensory items! 

Reading Time 

My son loves his books! His book bucket is within reach to play with at any time but in the afternoon we sit down and read together. Right now my son’s favorite book is his Touchy Feely Animals Book. At the back of the book is a grid with pictures from the pages of the book. He will open the book to that page immediately and wait for me to ask, “where’s the…”. So far he really only has the dog and “dut dut” (duck) down but we’re working on it the others. He also really likes First 100 Words which has a similar set up.

With my checklist, I can easily make sure we’re on track with our daily activities!

Download a FREE checklist for yourself!


Breastfeeding A Toddler

I wrote a post recently on things I’ve learned about breastfeeding but one thing I didn’t include, that perhaps I should have, is that when you reach a certain point in breastfeeding people will start to ask how long you plan on continuing. Or if they don’t outright ask they’ll ask and say other things.

Things like…

But he has teeth. What if  he bites you? (This one makes me laugh since he’s had teeth since he was three months old. Also, if he bites me it hurts.)

Can’t he drink milk? (I’m not sure what they think comes out of there.)

But he needs to eat! (For the record he does eat and not just from my breasts.)

And it’s not just the slightly skeptical that make remarks. 

Oh, good! I hope you’re going to go to 18 months. At least. You are going to 18 months, right? Two years old would really be more ideal.  (Whatever you say, lady that I barely know.)

My 6 year old still nurses sometimes. (Keep your eyeballs in your head, Inez.)

Well, I nursed my kids until three years old. (Well, probably won’t!)

Though I can make light of it, the point at which I stop nursing my son is something that has caused me a bit of inner conflict. Some days I just really want my boobs back (and I feel guilty about that). But, for the most part, I don’t feel that my son is ready to wean and I really have no plan as to when the nursing will stop.

I know I’m not the only mama “still” nursing and many are far beyond the point I am at. This is why I am totally loving this Real Moms Talk interview I’m going to share with you today! 

Jennifer from My Mama Project is sharing her experience with nursing her toddler and I can honestly say, her words were a big encouragement to me personally. And I know they will encourage you, too, whether you are nursing a toddler or not!

Breastfeeding a Toddler. Real Moms Talk. Diary of a New Mommy. Breastfeeding.

How long have you been breastfeeding? 

I started breastfeeding my son when he was less than an hour old and we have been going strong for 18 months.

Did you initially plan to breastfeed beyond one year? 

Well, the plan was always to breastfeed for at least a year and then to be honest, I planned to just see what happened from that point forward.

What made you decide to breastfeed into toddlerhood? 

I think the best answer to this question is nothing. As he is my first child, I am kind of making all this up as I go along. Ultimately, my son still wants to breastfeed and I believe that he is getting nutrition from it, so nothing has crossed my mind about stopping just yet. I think that he will make the choice to stop when the time is right and if I ever personally feel that it is time, I think I will know when we get there. Not a very specific answer, I know!

Have you found that some people are uncomfortable with your decision to continue breastfeeding your toddler? 

I have been very lucky to not have the experiences that many other people report having. I have never had anyone tell me to “cover it up” or give me strange looks (or if they did, I wasn’t looking!). I feel very confident in my choice to continue breastfeeding and I know my inner Mama Bear would come out in full force if anyone tried to make me feel bad for my decision to breastfeed my toddler. I think some people in my life probably wonder how long I am going to keep this up or think that at this point I am only doing it for myself and not for my son’s needs, but they are smart enough to keep those views to themselves.

What are some challenges of breastfeeding a toddler that you may not have experienced when your child was an infant? 

This is a great question. For starters, when my son was an infant he would calmly nurse under a cover (and I had a bunch of cute ones). On the flip side, there is no way my toddler will tolerate a cover put over him now while he nurses. He instantly grabs it and pulls it to the side, so there is really no option but to nurse out in the open. My toddler is also a very “active” nurser. I’m talking a – nose grabbing, stomach kicking, clothes tugging – kind of a nurser. I feel a little overly stimulated after a nursing session sometimes. Lastly, a toddler (at least mine) can ask to nurse. For my son that usually means putting his hand down my shirt and heaven forbid if I am wearing a shirt that isn’t conducive to that. He will find a way in!

What is the most common response you get when people find out you breastfeed your toddler? 

“Oh, you’re still breastfeeding? (insert slightly impressed and slightly confused face here) Wow!” is usually the response I get. Most people are respectful of my choice, some are even quite curious, but mostly people show their slight judgement in their face and not their words.

What is the best piece of advice you have for a mom who may be trying to decide how long to breastfeed? 

Do whatever makes you and your baby happy. Don’t give a second thought to what anyone else tells you or what you think others expect you to do. Trust your mom gut and always know that whatever you choose, you are doing the best you can for your baby and for you. Whether you are breastfeeding your 2 year old or feeding formula to your newborn, be confident in your choice and let your inner Mama Bear shine.

Meet Jennifer: Jennifer Hanson. My Mama Project. Interview on Breastfeeding a Toddler. Real Moms Talk. Diary of a New Mommy. First Time Mom. New Mom. Breastfeeding.

Hello, I’m Jennifer! I’m a wife, mama, and lifestyle blogger trying to raise my tribe with gumption and grace.  I love yoga pants, coffee, ice cream, and reality television.  You can follow my motherhood journey at www.mymamaproject.com and on Instagram @mymamaproject. I’ve always loved a good project.  My favorite one calls me Mama.  {I’m always tired and make it up as I go along!}

3 Steps I took to Start Monetizing My Blog


If you’re a blogger, chances are you would like to get paid. Even if you don’t want to make a full-time income from it, if you’ve blogged for more than a day you know it’s a lot of work and getting some type of compensation would be really nice.

Am I right? 

Although I knew you could profit from blogging, it wasn’t necessarily my goal when I started this blog. My goal was to be a writer. But in order to be a writer, I needed people to read what I wrote and in order for that to happen I had to actually promote my blog. Which is work. A few months into blogging, I decided that I wanted to monetize. Not just to be compensated for my time, but because I love blogging and I want to continue to stay home with my son.

It seemed like a win-win to me.

Although I knew how people monetize, I wasn’t really sure what that meant for me. As I started to research, I found that many bloggers have invested a lot of money into their blogs. One day I read about a stay at home mom that makes a 6 figure income from blogging. This really inspired me, so I bought her book which only cost me a few bucks. I was so excited!

I was almost immediately deflated when I read that she was “broke” and invested her last $6,000 into her blog.

$6,000??!?!  I barely had $6!! 

3 Steps I Took to Start Monetizing my Blog

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page for more information.) 

The more I researched, the more I found that this is very common. And why wouldn’t it be? Blogging is a business and financially investing into your business is important. But, the good news is you don’t have to invest thousands or even hundreds of dollars into your blog. (If you have it, by all means… do it! I guarantee you, I would.)

A $6,000 investment may help you monetize more quickly but it absolutely is possible to make money without breaking the bank… or robbing one!

Here are 3 (FREE) steps I took to start monetizing my blog: 

1) Got rid of all the buts in my life. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard bloggers talk about how they “wish” they could make money… but. But I don’t have enough traffic. But I don’t have enough time. But I don’t have enough money. Can I let you in on a little secret? I don’t have any of those things but and I have money in the bank right now that I’ve made through blogging (and more on the way this week). No, it’s not thousands of dollars but it’s a lot more than nothing which is what I was making up until a couple of months ago. It wasn’t until I decided to stop with the buts that I started to make money. I decided that I wasn’t going to wait for more page views, more time, more money, etc. Because the truth is, the only thing I really needed more of was hustle

2) Started applying for sponsored posts. 

Since I had no more buts there was nothing to lose and I got to work signing up with sites like iConnect , Linqia, IZEA, Social Fabric, Socialix and Tomoson, that connect bloggers with brands. Some sites (for example, Linqia) require a minimum number of followers or page views. Instead of using that as an excuse, use it as a goal.  In the mean time, go for the sites don’t have minimums and start applying. 

3) Changed my affiliate strategy (which was no strategy). 

Like many bloggers, for me being an affiliate meant putting up a banner on my sidebar or linking to Amazon when I talked about products I love. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this but you need more of a strategy than that. This is still a work in progress for me but I started by reaching out to my Shareasale  affiliate companies, first to ask for product to review and second to ask for help and guidance. How would they like me to represent them? What has worked well for other affiliates? 

Next, I set a plan to represent them beyond a single post, a banner or the occasional links in posts and I started keeping track of each communication, post and mention. My goal is to have an ongoing relationship with my affiliates which means I need to actively engage with them and promote them.

I still have a ways to go but by taking these three steps, I went from wanting, wishing and waiting to actually making money from my blog.

What buts have gotten in your way? And, more importantly, how can you get rid of them? 

Are you Addicted to Social Media?


In today’s culture, social media is just a part of what we do. It used to be that when we we met someone new we’d ask for a phone number, now it’s “Hey, are you on Facebook?  or “What’s your IG handle?” (Or if you’re really cool… your Snap Chat code.) Personally, social media has been good to me. I’ve reconnected with old friends (and by that I mean actually have reconnected in the real world), I’ve made new friends and, most recently, I’ve been able to earn some profit through my Instagram and Twitter accounts.

But, with all the good that social media can bring, it is certainly not all good. In fact, if we aren’t careful, social media can be harmful and even dangerous. This is why I am really looking forward to sharing this Real Moms Talk guest post with you today. Kate Shelby from Australian Mum shares some wonderful insight on the subject of social media addiction. I hope you find the information as helpful and interesting as I did!

Addicted to Social Media - Real Moms Talk - NoviceMommy.com

Are you addicted to social media? Social media addiction might seem harmless but it has the potential to take over your life.  Social media addiction can affect our daily life, how we behave towards other people and our pathological thought process.

The social media environment has us thinking our friends need to see every aspect of our life . I’m guilty of it too. Ask yourself the question. Are you addicted to social media? Were all affected in different ways.

The Desensitized

These are people who spend so much time on social media they live in a fantasy world where they don’t care if they hurt people’s feelings. They troll posts with constant opinions and abrasive comments. Because when you’re behind a keyboard for so long you become emotionally detached and void of real feelings.

The Oversensitive.

These are people who spend so much time on social media they produce a complex that has them feeling like every piece of content is someway aimed at them. Like they are a part of every social media topic. They will find a way for almost anything to upset them and are easily offended over just about any topic available.

The Lurker

These are people who sit on social media for hours at a time scrolling but don’t say anything. You may have noticed them in your feed. Constantly liking pictures but they never say much. But they are always on social media. You can pretty much bet anytime of day you can post a photo and they will like it. If you approach and talk to them you might get a conversation. But overall they are stuck in routine of spending all of their spare time in an eternity of scrolling.

Are You Addicted To Social Media?

The Signs Of Social Media Addiction

  • You can’t go a few minutes without checking your social media
  • You avoid going anywhere because you might miss something on social media
  • You feel like you have to engage in almost every thing on social media or people won’t know you’re on social media
  • When you talk with your friends – it’s mostly about social media
  • There’s more happening in your social media life than your real life
  • You get social media hangovers. Your depressed about social media but you can’t get off social media
  • You’re secretly getting on social media when you should be doing something else
  • You become unwanted or feel ignored when nobody interacts with you on social media
  • Social media has become a basic human need like Food, Water & Sleep.
  • You wake up in the middle of the night and the first thing you do is check your phone
  • You troll other people’s posts for entertainment or find things to be pissed off about on social media
  • You assume things about a person’s whole life based on a few pictures or opinionsReal Moms Talk NoviceMommy.com

My Own Personal Story With Social Media Addiction

The reason I’m writing this is not to judge but I’m not going to be soft on the topic either. I have been there. In 2007 I sat next to my son’s hospital bed for 9 months. My son had cancer and my son’s father had a mental breakdown so bad he wouldn’t even come and visit. My family was living two states away and the only way to stay connected to the world outside of the 8th floor of a hospital was social media – this is what I told myself.

When my baby became well enough to leave the hospital life behind it was evident I had become addicted to social media. I became so reliant on social media for my friendships It took at least two years to make new friendships outside of Myspace (2007 People….it was the big thing then).

Then came a time a few years ago a huge wake up call slapped me in the face. Watching someone do the same thing to me. The collapse of my relationship had many factors, however, social media played a huge part. The relationships made on social media can be tempting and those that are trying to escape daily life may make mistakes. People get hurt.

Social media can also be very toxic. I’ve seen relationships collapse because of things being taken out of context. I’ve seen full-blown Mummy Wars over things that don’t even require further comment. The media have a huge advantage on social media and can often have people fighting because of one deliberate controversial post. It’s almost like a funny game to get mothers to attack each other on some of these sites. I refuse to play into that. You should too.

Are You Addicted to Social Media? - Real Moms Talk - NoviceMommy.com

Social Media Addiction

Actions You Can Take Today To Limit Your Activity

  • Remove Social Media Smartphone Apps to limit your usage at work
  • Log out of smart phone apps regularly to make ease of access more difficult
  • Set yourself a daily Data limit so your phone disconnects you at the maximum amount.
  • Plan other things to do in advance and set reminders that will interrupt you on social media
  • Tell your friends the truth. You have a social media problem and you need support
  • Tell your family you would like to see them every second weekend
  • Register for outside events on Facebook so you’re reminded to leave the house
  • Subscribe to local pages that remind you that your local area has things to offer
  • Remove yourself from toxic groups that encourage debates on shallow topics
  • Hide other people in your news feed that are constantly posting – Don’t play “Do as I do” with them
  • Consider a social media addiction Rehab Plan
  • Plan a holiday to somewhere with no network access to break the cycle of social media addiction
  • If you’re confident cold turkey will help have your internet cut of

Being addicted to social media does NOT define the person you are.

It is time to kick the habit.

Meet Kate: KateShelby - Are You Addicted to Social Media

My name is Kate. When I’m not writing I am busy raising my children and tackling the curve balls of life. My writing is influenced by my life. I’m sincerious but I don’t shy away from telling it how it is. I love Superheroes, Villians & Chocolate. 

You can visit me anytime at http://australianmum.com. 

Sippy Strap Review & Giveaway

I looked forward to the time when my son would start using a sippy cup. I don’t know why but I just think it’s adorable to see this little person drinking from a “cup”. But do you know what’s not adorable? The tiny person throwing the cup. Over and over. And over. At first, I didn’t mind too much because I had read that it’s all a part of development. So, I would just respond with something like “Wow. That’s a loud noise.” Or “Uh oh. Where did the cup go?” But after a million and one times, it got old. Plus, I think we are far beyond the “its good for his development” stage. Now, he just thinks it’s funny. And me? Not so much. Needless to say, when I received a message from Hny Baby asking if I’d like to review one of their products I was ecstatic to see one of those products was a Sippy Strap.

Yes, please! 

(I received the Sippy Strap in exchange for an honest review. However, all opinions are my own. This post may also contain affiliate links. Please see my ddisclosure for more information.) 


I was very pleased with how quickly my package arrived and also with the adorable packaging. But, of course, what I really wanted to know was if it worked. More specifically, if it really would work on our high chair and sippy cups. (Am I the only one that’s been disappointed by one size fits all claims that were more like one size fits some?)

We’ve been using our Sippy Strap for over a week now and I am really happy with it!

Sippy Strap Review - Diary of a New Mommy

It’s cute and, more importantly, it works. I have tried it out on multiple sippy cups of varying sizes and the strap is easily adjustable to fit all of them. It’s also the perfect length, as it’s long enough for my son to take a sip but not so long that it hits the ground.

Sippy Strap Review & Givewaway - Diary of a New Mommy

Hny Baby Sippy Strap Review - Diary of a New Mommy

I think my favorite part about the Sippy Strap is that it also works on strollers and car seats! We have the Summer Infant Go Lite stroller and the bars are extremely thin, so I wondered if the strap would adjust small enough. It did!

Sippy Strap Review. Baby Product Review. Toddler Product Review. Favorite Baby Products. Favorite Toddler Products. Sippy Cup.

Check out Hny Baby to get your own Sippy Strap (they also have some other great products, like super cute Bandana Bibs). Also, Hny Baby is giving away two Sippy Straps to one lucky reader! You can enter below. Contest closes on Sunday, July 17 at midnight (PST).

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3 Easy Activities for Toddlers

My son is 13 months and, though he’s just on the cusp of toddlerhood, he’s definitely not a baby anymore (sigh). He’s officially toddling and loves exploring the world around him and I am officially looking for more age-appropriate activities to do.

If you’ve followed me for very long, you know that I like to do things that are fun and easy. Also, inexpensive is always a bonus. I have three activities we have done recently that are fun, easy and cheap (or free, really)!

3 Easy Activities for Toddlers (1)

Water & Dyed Ice 

Materials Needed: Water, Food Coloring, Ice Tray, Saran Wrap, Water Bottle, Plastic Food Storage Containers or Baking Pans

Most families have food coloring on hand (if not, you can always use plain ice). As you know, food coloring can get messy – to make it less of a mess when you mix the water, you can add a few drops of your desired color to a water bottle, shake it up and pour into ice trays. I made two colors – blue and green. Put the trays in the freezer (like, you need me to tell you how to make ice…) and save them for a day that you’re looking for something to keep your little one busy (which is basically any day). Don’t forget to cover the tray with saran wrap to avoid a dyed freezer.

For the fun part… I put my son in one of his kiddie pools and placed a small baking pan with and a plastic food storage container, both filled with water, inside the pool. Then I dropped ice cubes in the water. I put a few in the pool, too. He had a blast playing with the ice and water. Not only is this activity fun but it is great sensory and learning play. Make sure you talk about the how the ice feels (cold!), the colors of the ice, the melting ice, etc. This is especially nice on a hot day!

Sensory Bottles  

Materials needed: Rice, Food Coloring, Paper Plates (much easier for clean up), Empty (and dry) Water Bottle(s), Gloves (Optional), Funnel or Funnel Like Object, Blanket, towel or sheet to work on (also much easier for clean up)

We have had sensory bottles since my son was 3 months old and they continue to be a favorite. In fact, his pasta filled water bottle is frequently the “toy” he chooses to take with him when we go out. Now that he’s a little older, though, I can (somewhat) include him in the process of making the bottles. I recently had a cell phone fiasco, which resulted in setting my phone in a bowl of rice.

I didn’t want all that rice to go to waste, so I decided to make more sensory bottles. It was just before 4th of July, so I decided to dye some of the rice red and blue. Before the dying began, I placed some rice on a plate and let my son play with it for a minute or two (strictly, supervised as he’s still likes to put everything in his mouth). 

To dye the rice, I separated the rice on three separate plates (red, blue and plain for white) and dropped 3-4 drops of each color. I mixed the rice with my hands but you could use gloves if you want. A mistake I made was that I didn’t give time for the rice to dry. Next time, I would wait a few minutes before placing it in the bottle.

You will definitely want to use something to funnel the rice. If you don’t have an actual funnel, paper rolled up would work. I used a breast shield. I just taped it to the bottle and it was perfect!

I layered the rice red, white then blue but they’re all going to get mixed up anyway so layering doesn’t really matter. Though, my son is still a little young to participate much, he really enjoyed watching me make the bottles and was even more delighted with the end result. Older tots, could definitely get involved with making the bottles.

If you keep everything on your sheet, towel or blanket clean up isn’t too bad.

Pet Store Trip 

This idea will require you to leave the house (which for me is an ordeal because I have to change out of my pajamas) but it is still a very easy and fun activity for toddlers. My son loved walking around the store and looking at the animals. He was especially enamored with the birds and fish. He wasn’t so taken by the cats, he preferred to watch the people looking at the cats.

Since I went through the trouble of putting on clothes and makeup, afterward we walked to Babies R Us and I treated him to a pouch (that’s like ice cream in our house). It was a nice mommy-son date, with very little cost or trouble.

What activities do you like to do with your toddler? (Please, I need more ideas!)

What is Maternal Mental Health?

Real Moms Talk NoviceMommy.com

If you’ve had a baby, you are probably familiar with your doctor asking questions about sadness, loss of interest and other things that involve your mood or state of mind. I assumed they were looking for one thing – Postpartum Depression. But, I am learning that there are a myriad of emotions that a mother deals with postpartum (in pregnancy, as well) and there are other perinatal disorders, aside from PPD. Though I dealt with the “myriad of emotions”, I did not have a perinatal disorder. However, I think it is so important that we – as mothers, sisters, friends – are informed on this subject.

In recent months, I have had the privilege of virtually crossing paths with Rachel Bowers from Mentoring4Moms. Rachel is a professional counselor who currently blogs about health and wellness for moms while staying home with her son. Her passion for educating women on this subject and offering help and support is evident.

I have invited Rachel to do a Real Moms Talk Interview for us and she so graciously accepted. I cannot express enough that this is a must read! If not for yourself, this information can help someone else.

What is Maternal Mental Health? Real Moms Talk. PPD. Perinatal Health. Perinatal Anxiety. Baby Blues.

On to the interview… 

What is Maternal Mental Health? I believe that maternal mental health refers to the broad array of emotional and psychological issues women face in the transition to motherhood. This can range from adjusting to the new roles that one gains when they become a mom, creating a maternal identity while coping with the changes or losses of their previous identity, Maternal Mental Health can also refer to Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADS) which include postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, and postpartum psychosis. Mothers can also have unique experiences when coping with posttraumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder during transition to motherhood.

How did you get interested in this topic? Before becoming a mother I was a child and family therapist. After entering motherhood my issues with anxiety became overwhelming and I spent most of my day experiencing distressing thoughts and being consumed with worry. I became interested in understanding maternal mental health and began blogging about it and obtained my certification in maternal mental health from Postpartum Support International.

What are some symptoms that a woman should look for regarding Maternal Mental Health? The most important symptoms to pay attention to are if you feel you have distressing thoughts of harming yourself, your child, or someone else. Other symptoms that are important to pay attention to are heightened irritability, intense anxiety, intense mood swings, constant worry about the safety of your baby, .highly distressing intrusive thoughts or images, and overwhelming guilt or shame. Some of these symptoms may be experienced due to normal emotional adjustments to motherhood or the baby blue but it is important to evaluate the impact these symptoms have on your daily functioning. If any of these symptoms impact your ability to care for yourself or your child or experience a healthy quality of life it is important to seek professional help. Symptoms of postpartum psychosis are also symptoms to seek immediate help for and these symptoms seeing or hearing something that isn’t there (hallucinations), false or irrational beliefs (delusions) and confusion/disorientation.

How soon or how long after having a baby can symptoms show up? It is actually a common misconception that symptoms only come after pregnancy but symptoms can actually occur during pregnancy, soon after delivery, or even up to a year postpartum (this whole period of time is referred to as the perinatal period). Many women also have symptoms during this time but often don’t realize that they are struggling with these issues until years later so it is possible to still seek help and treatment after a year postpartum. It is also important to know that these symptoms can also exist in mothers that experience miscarriages.

What are some common misconceptions about Maternal Mental Health? A major misconception is that serious symptoms of PMADs are just the “baby blues” and will go away on their own. However, symptoms of the baby blues should only last a few weeks and symptoms lasting longer than that should be a cause for concern. Also, I think a lot of mothers fear talking about their symptoms will lead to others thinking they are not capable of caring for their children. However, mental health professionals are aware that many times symptoms of PMADs do not pose a serious risk of harm to the child.

What advice would you give a woman who is experiencing some of the symptoms mentioned? I think the first important step is talking to someone you trust about your issues. Opening up and being vulnerable is the first important step in reducing any shame you may feel about your symptoms. And it is so important to remember- you are NOT alone and there is NO shame in asking for help. It is a brave and very maternal thing to do to take care of yourself so you can take care of your child(ren). A solid support network is a major indicator in the recovery of moms with maternal mental health issues. The second step is seeking the services of a professional to provide you additional support whether this is through your obstetrician, general practitioner, or mental health professional.

What advice would you give a woman who has received a diagnosis? I would recommend finding a mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, or social worker) that specializes in maternal mental health. It’s also important that you feel comfortable with your therapist and that your therapist communicates with your a course of treatment so that you understand what is involved in therapy from the beginning. I would also tap into two organizations that provide a lot of additional information and peer support for maternal mental health issues (Postpartum Support International- postpartum.net & Postpartum Progress- postpartumprogress.com) You can visit the link provided above to learn more about seeking treatment for maternal mental health issues.

More About Rachel

Rachel Bowers Real Moms Talk Maternal Mental Health. Postpartum Depression. Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. PPD. Baby Blues. Rachel Bowers is a social worker with 8 years of experience as a mental health therapist. While currently staying at home with her 2 year old son she is obtaining her certification in maternal mental health from Postpartum International. Rachel blogs about emotional wellness for moms. You can contact her at rachel@mentoring4moms.com or find her other work fullmotherhood.com.

Pool Time: What’s in Our Bag?

Summer is in full swing and, let me tell you, it gets pretty hot here where we live in Northern California. Which means… a whole lot of pool time for us! Unfortunately, we don’t have a pool in our yard (unless you count our two kiddie pools) but our Homeowners Association has a really nice pool just down the street with a nice view of the lake. My little man loves the water and he loves watching the other kids. So, I try to make it a point to get down there at least once a week.

So, what’s in our bag? I’m glad you asked…

Pool Time: What's in Our Bag?

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure for more information.)

Mama Bear’s Organic Sunscreen – This is a brand new product in our bag. We’ve been using BabyGanics. For the most part, all of our non-homemade hygiene products are BabyGanics. It’s the most cost-effective natural brand I’ve found. However, though I thought the sunscreen was fine, I wanted to try something else. I felt like the BabyGanics was a little hard to rub in and a bit heavier than I would like. I had heard really good things about the sunscreen from The Crunchy Mama Bear. When I sent a message to the owner, Rebecca, inquiring about pick up since it’s a local company she delivered a bag of goodies (did I say for free?!?!) to my house in less than an hour! Oh, yeah,  is where I say… though, I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review all opinions are my own. Back to the sunscreen, we have now used it a few times and I really like it! It’s not white and it’s not heavy. I was a little concerned that it would feel oily but this is not the case at all. It has a nice solid consistency and it goes on smoothly.  It’s pretty easy to rub in and, more importantly, my son doesn’t look gray in his pictures! It does have a scent to it but I think it smells good. It definitely doesn’t have that sunscreen smell. Also, it comes in a round container rather than a tube. I love this packaging wise, however, I do feel like I have to be extra careful about washing my hands before I scoop. I would like to get a little spatula but, for now, I’ve been using the lid to scoop. Then I wipe it clean after.Pool Time: What's in Our Bag? Mama Bear's Sunscreen. The Crunchy Mama Bear. Natural Sunscreen.

Sippy Cup & Water Bottle – I always make sure to bring a sippy cup (we’re still having issues finding the perfect one, so if you have a suggestion, please let me know!) with water for my little guy and a water bottle for myself. Because hydration is important!

Snack Cup – I will usually make sure to have a snack prior to going to the pool but you never can be too safe so I make sure to grab my son’s Munchkin Snack Catcher which usually either has Annie’s Bunnies or Organics Happy Baby Superfood Puffs.

What's in Our Pool Bag. Munchkin Snack Catcher.

Coach Wristlet – Even though we walk to the pool, I keep my wallet with me in case we want to buy something and, also, I attach my keys to it so I don’t misplace them. I absolutely love this wristlet wallet. I consider it one of my best purchases.

What's in Our Pool Bag. Coach Signature Black Wristlet Wallet

Towels – I would like to say “duh” here but first, of all that’s so 90’s and second of all, I’ve forgotten them. More than once. But when I’m not absent minded, I grab one for me and one for my son.

Swim Diaper & Wipes – I always toss in an extra swim diaper. We have both Pampers and Huggies. I prefer the Huggies because I don’t feel like it has a scent like Pampers and, also, they currently have Dory on them (duh). Also, I make sure to have enough 7th Generation Wipes in my Uber Mom Whale Wipe Box.

What's in Our Pool Bag. Huggies Litle Swimmers. Finding Dory. Toddler. Swim Diaper.

What's in Our Pool Bag. Seventh Generation Wipes. Toddler. Swim Diapers.

What's in Our Pool Bag. Uber Mom Wipe Holder. Swim. Summer. Toddler. Baby.


Hat & Sunglasses – Hat for him. Sunglasses for me. Not that he will keep the hat on but, still, I try.

Swimways Float – Last but certainly not least, I pack our Swimways Baby Spring Float (ours is a different style than this link.) My son loves this float! It comes with a canopy (which he doesn’t love so much for some strange reason) and toys. It also comes with a handy bag to carry it in. So, when you’re done you can just deflate it, fold it, and put it in the bag.

Pool Time: What's in Our Bag. Swimways Pool Float. Toddler Swim Activity.

As you can see, little man loves his Swimways pool float. Also, you can see that he refuses to wear the hat and have the canopy up!

I like to keep it simple. What’s in your pool bag?

This post is part of the July Blog Hop with some awesome mamas from my Mom Blog Tribe on Facebook. Check out their post titles below and feel free to “hop” around! Also, if you’re a mom blogger, you are invited to join our hop next month. Just join the tribe and watch for details!

Diaper Bag Contents: Differences Between Infant and Toddler Needs // Fab Working Mom Life

Diaper Bag Contents of a New Mom // Mothersrule

Mama’s Beach Bag // My Mama Project

What’s in My Bag? The Kids’ Day Pack // Mama’s Sweet Home Team

What’s in My Bag: A First Time Mom’s Weekend Bag // So(lace) in a Small Town

What’s in the Bag? Southbank Sunday // Amazing Beautiful Individual

What’s in Your Diaper Bag? // Sophia Says Hello

What’s in Your Bag? – Packing for a Road Trip with Toddlers // The Crafty Christian


7 Questions to Ask About a Church’s Children’s Ministry

In my former life, I was a children’s pastor. My job was to run children’s ministry programs from birth to 5th or 6th grade (depending on the church). Running a children’s ministry is no easy task. But then again, nothing that involves children really is. Especially when you are responsible for other people’s children. Caring for someone else’s child should not be taken lightly. But, as parents, it is ultimately our responsibility to ensure our children are safe, protected and spiritually nourished.

I have come up with a list of questions to ask about a church’s children’s ministry (particularly if you are looking for a church). Some of these questions might be answered without verbally having to ask (for example, many churches post some of their policies in a prominent place) but, my recommendation is if you do not know the answer… ask!

7 Questions to Ask About a Church's Children's Ministry

  1. What is the screening process for children’s ministry workers? This is hands down the most important question. Children’s ministry workers should go through some type of process and, in my opinion, this process must include a background check. In this day and age, one would think this is a given but it’s not. I have known of many churches that don’t do this. Some churches also require applications, interviews and the workers have to attend the church for a certain amount of time. The most important thing to me is that children’s workers have background checks and an application on file.
  2. Are children’s ministry workers trained? I don’t expect children’s ministry workers to have gone to Bible school (I do prefer if the children’s ministry director/pastor has) but I want to know that they are trained and equipped to successfully handle and teach the class my child will participate in. Often times churches simply don’t have the time to implement a rather involved training process. Most need workers now. Whatever the process for training is, it is very important that the children’s ministry workers are informed on the policies, classroom set up and how to use the curriculum prior to arriving to teach his or her first class.
  3. What is the bathroom/diaper changing policy? Personally, I would rather change my son’s diaper myself. There has been one occasion I can think of that I told a worker she could do it because I was working in another classroom. But, for the most part, I would rather do it myself. And I definitely want to make sure if someone else is changing my son’s diaper that there are rules in place. For example, I wouldn’t want a teenage helper changing his diaper. And I would want to make sure there is another adult present. For older children, I would want to know who is allowed to take my child to the bathroom. Again, it is important to me that adults do this task. Another thing that is important is that my child would not be taken to the bathroom alone. Is there a buddy system? Are workers instructed to stay out of the stalls? Does the children’s ministry have bathrooms that are private or are they sharing with the adults? These are things that parents should be aware of.
  4. Am I able to observe the class? As a parent, you should be able to observe the classroom your child is in. From the other perspective, it can be disruptive and sometimes it makes things worse, particularly if your child has a hard time going to class, but if you want to see what or how your child is doing, you should be able to. If a church does not allow observation (whether in person or on a TV monitor) that is a major red flag.
  5. How will you contact me in the event my child needs me? Most times this will be communicated to you when you check your child in but, if it is not, make sure to ask. Is there a number you need to watch for on the screen? Do you need to keep your phone handy (on vibrate of course!) for a text message?
  6. How many workers are staffed in a room? There should always be a minimum of two workers in a room (more if it is a larger group) and at least one of the two people should be an adult. Personally, my preference is that both are adults. If minors are helping, I think that’s great but I do not consider that a “teacher”. What if the adult has to step out for some reason? Minors should never be left alone in charge of other children.
  7. What is the format of the class? While I believe that it is the job of the parent to spiritually nourish the child, not the church, I am a firm believer that children’s ministry should not be babysitting. Church is an opportunity for someone other than the parent to teach and connect with the child, which is extremely important especially as they get older. It’s also a time for kids to learn about their faith with their peers and put it into practice by doing things like praying for one another. Even for babies and toddlers, church can have these elements. While they may not be able to sit through an organized lesson they certainly can have circle time with songs and a story. This simple question will quickly tell you if the children’s ministry is in fact ministry or if it is simply childcare. Also, it will help if you want to keep your child with you for a portion of the service, pick up early, etc.

You may also be interested in Purpose Driven Mother.

Pin-Worthy 4th of July Ideas

I can’t believe the Fourth of July is already almost here. If you’re anything like me, and let it kind of sneak up on you… don’t worry, my Pinterest obsession has you covered! Here are a few fun and easy ideas for snacks, activities and decorations.  These are just a few of my favorites, you can check out more from my 4th of July board. (Be warned, the board might be a little heavy on the snacks.)

Pin-Worthy 4th of July Ideas. Crafts. Snacks. 4th of July DIY. Decor.

Land That I Love Coloring Page – What’s easier than a coloring table? Print out some of these coloring pages, put some red, white and blue crayons out and you’re done. You can find the coloring page at Super Teacher Worksheets.

Land That I Love Coloring Page

Image and coloring page from Super Teacher Worksheets.

Fireworks in a Bottle – I really love this idea from No Twiddle Twaddle. I am planning on making this for my son, as it will be a great sensory toy for him to play with on the fourth. It seems simple enough, too. If you have a group of kids coming over for 4th of July, you could do it as a group craft.

Image from Twiddle Twaddle.

Image and craft from No Twiddle Twaddle.

Red White and Blue Strawberry Shortcake – I pinned quite a few fun snacks on my board but I had to choose this dessert from Two Sisters Crafting as my favorite because I love strawberry shortcake so much and this is really easy to do!

Image and recipe from Two Sisters Crafting.

Image and recipe from Two Sisters Crafting.

Kid-Friendly Patriotic Punch – Maybe I love this one because I’m in love with Twizzlers or maybe it’s because I am a firm believer that the beverages should always match the theme (I had a bit of a panic attack when my mom set out tea at my son’s UNO party) but I love this idea from Mom Endeavors. It is such a cute idea and you don’t have to deal with straws all over the ground because the kids can just eat them!


Image and recipe from Mom Endeavors.

DIY Sparkler Tee – Here’s another one from Mom Endeavors (man, I love that site!). This tee really makes me wish I hadn’t already gotten my son’s 4th of July outfit. He’s a little young to do this as a craft but I definitely would like to try it out in the future. It seriously looks so easy, I have full confidence that even I can do it!


Fireworks Painting Craft – If you don’t know me by now, you will never ever know me… sorry, it’s like I have a jukebox for a brain. But seriously. If you don’t know, I love to do things that are easy. In my head I have this grand idea of being a super crafty, super fun, super cool mom but then I remember… I’m super lazy. This is why I love this craft idea from  Happiness is Homemade. So easy and chances are you already have all the supplies.


Image and craft from Happiness is Homemade.

DIY Patriotic Wreath – Full disclosure: this is a pin that I would send to my sister and say, “hey, we should do this!”. And by “we” she will know I mean she should do this. However, even though it may be slightly above my craft skill level it really does look easy for those that aren’t craft dummies like me. Plus, it’s just way too cute not to include. I love the touch of burlap! Get the how to at Living that Mom Life.

Image and wreath how to from Living that Mom Life.

Image and wreath how to from Living that Mom Life.

Painted Lawn Stars – I really love this idea! It’s fun, festive and… yep… you got it, easy. I would love to show up to a party and see the lawn littered with red, white and blue stars. You can check out the tutorial at The Concrete Cottage.

Fourth of July Decor Painted Lawn Stars

Image and tutorial from The Concrete Cottage.