I have to confess, when reading Minimalist Parenting, something happened to me that has never happened before. I was on the subway, and I was so engrossed in this book that I almost missed my stop. The doors were closing when I looked up, ran over and literally put my hand in the door to get out (I had never done that before either, and I do not recommend it). Simply put, Minimalist Parenting is a must read for the parents of today who have schedules filled with play dates, sports commitments, dance recitals, birthday parties, etc., along with homes filled with kids clutter and stuff. This book recommends simplifying and slowing down so you can enjoy your life, and your children.
The minimizing clutter and stuff part really resonated with me. I swear my kids have everything, and three of everything. Does my daughter really need multiple diaries? Do I need to save every homework assignment? To be honest, I haven’t tackled the diaries yet, but I did purge the homework/art projects folders after reading this book and it felt great. My son and I also went through the art supplies closet to determine what would really be used, or what was frivolous. Another idea from Minimalist Parenting that I plan to tackle next is the stuffed animals. I cannot fathom why my children have so many stuffed animals. I don’t even know where they came from. The moms at Minimalist Parenting had the same issue and found somewhere to donate stuffed animals. My children are going to go through the massive piles of stuffed animals to determine which are to be kept, and which can be donated. I am proud that they are willing to part with things, and are beginning to understand that life is more about having stuff that is meaningful, not collecting more and more stuff.
There’s lots of good information in the book, from pairing down extracurricular activities to how to go about preparing meals for the week. There’s even a section devoted to carving out time for mom, which might be my favorite part, now that I think about it.
Minimalist Parenting was written by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest, two successful “mom” bloggers who live today’s fast paced life and really get what families face, and provide real solutions for common problems.
We’ve been teetering into the world of potty training for a while, but I am hoping to make the full on leap. The little miss loves stickers so I have been looking for a potty training sticker chart. I found some super cute printables on Pinterest and read a few posts on ways to use a sticker chart. For us, there is already a lot of potty time so no stickers will be given for just sitting. But if you have a hard time getting your kid to the loo you may want to give 1 sticker for sitting on the potty. Here’s how I plan to use the chart: 1 sticker per box, pee pee on potty = 1 sticker, poop on potty = 2 stickers. Once a row is filled, a small reward will be given (to be determined – likely a small toy). Once the entire page is filled in a larger reward will be given (again, TBS – likely a larger toy or a requested excursion/activity). I’ll keep you posted on how this works out – hoping that the sticker chart is a big hit.
The templates for the free printable potty training sticker charts (boys and girls versions) are available here.
Green Toys Chef Set
It was pretty chilly in SF the other day so we headed to our favorite kiddo store down the street, Sprout, which has an awesome playroom in the back. My little one was obsessed with the Chef Set by Green Toys. It’s made from 100% recycled milk containers and is dishwasher safe (yay!). The set meets FDA food contact standards and is also BPA-free. Of course I bought the little guy his own Chef Set before we left and he hasn’t stopped playing with it since. Fourteen months isn’t too young to get started in the kitchen, right?
I love this idea from Mother Huddle for making paint pops out of the last bits of paint using an ice cube tray and popsicle sticks. The pops are perfect for little toddler hands and give a new twist to painting for those who are bored with traditional brushes. Find the full tutorial for making these cute paint pops here.
I find that if I make anything in the form of a muffin my toddler goes nuts for them. She literally devoured these muffins which are packed with veggies and fiber and no added sugar. They look like a crappy carb (to her), so she was thrilled. In reality, these muffins are a nutritional powerhouse, at least as far as baked goods go. The recipe was inspired by “toddler muffins” I saw on Pinterest, which gave me the idea to use up a stray leftover jar of babyfood by making muffins. I added in leftover steamed veggies (carrots and a bit of chopped cauliflower), substituted flax seed meal and oat flour for the wheat flour that the original recipe called for and used bananas and apple sauce as the “sweeteners” and in place of butter in the recipe. The result is a muffin that is hearty and filling – reminiscent of a whole wheat banana bread with only a hint of sweetness. These are not the type of muffin you would consider a “treat” unless you are a real health nut (like me). But for a kid who doesn’t get much sugar these are a winning snack and very simple to make.
Be sure to either freeze half of the muffins or refrigerate them within a day (or both). Because of the high moisture content from the vegetables they will spoil quickly at room temperature. Also, you can use muffin liners to make these (saves on clean-up), but because they are so moist some of the muffin will stick to paper liners. The muffins take about 30 minutes to make, not include cooling time.
Healthy Toddler Snack Muffins
4 oz jar pureed squash baby food (such as Earth’s Best)
2 medium bananas (I used frozen bananas, defrosted in the microwave and used the resulting “juice” in the recipe)
1/3 cup shredded carrots (or a mixture of shredded steamed carrots and chopped cauliflower)
½ cup apple sauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup oat flour*
½ cup flax seed meal
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease mini muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Mix squash through vanilla in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Whisk together dry ingredients (oat flour through salt) in a medium bowl. Add mixed dry ingredients to squash mixture and stir just until full incorporated and no dry patches remain.
2. Divide batter among prepared muffin tins and bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. Store at room temperature for 1 day, refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze.
*To make homemade oat flour grind old-fashioned oats in a food process until they resemble a coarse flour.
Initial necklaces are such a great gift idea and you can give them without spending a fortune by finding an artisan designer. I adore the tiny initial necklaces made by Sarah Feingold of Feingold Jewelry. Sarah is a multitalented childhood friend who is both a jewelry designer and Etsy’s in-house counsel. Sarah’s handmade vintage brass letters come on a sterling silver chain; the petite letters are simple and modern.
Sarah’s initial necklaces would make a great gift for any mom, grad, bat mitzvah or sweet sixteen. It’s a thoughtful and reasonably priced “push gift” if any of you out there are looking for a hint to pass on to your significant other.
Check out Sarah’s full jewelry line here. Initial necklaces are $18 each.