Thursday, August 30, 2012

Making the Most of Your Mat Leave

As my year of maternity leave comes to a close and Willow's first birthday approaches I find myself reflecting on the events of the past year.

I've accomplished everything and much more than I ever expected. Endless fun with my girls, an updated home, a new blog, a conquered reading list and incredible family time. With this particular post I offer myself reflection and other new mom's inspiration. So in my humble opinion these few things are key to making the most of your mat leave.

Sleep and Routines

Don't Underestimate the Importance of Sleep

Babies sleep a lot. Don't be fooled into thinking that you need to keep your baby or toddler awake all day so they sleep longer at night. In fact, more sleep during the day means more sleep at night. Over tiredness can lead to restlessness and interrupted sleep.

Young babies need 11 or 12 hours of sleep at night plus 5 or 6 hours of daytime sleep. Naps should carry on until age 3 or 4. Now I am no expert, but Kitty Raymond is and I fully embrace and endorse her workshops on sleep. As far as I'm concerned without Kitty I wouldn't be the best mom I could be.

Routine, routine, routine

Yes, three times was necessary. Routine is not just for school age children, it's for everybody, babies included. Once again, I attribute my success in this department to Kitty Raymond Parenting, where I learned that babies thrive off of routine. My girls sleep 12 hrs through the night, nap for 1.5 - 3 hr stretches during the day, eat 3 square meals a day and 1 or 2 small snacks, play well together, play independently and are so very happy. And let me tell you happy children make happy parents.

The basic principle of routines for children is Eat, Play, Sleep. And then, you do it all over again. This simple routine was started with our youngest daughter when she was just a couple of weeks old.

To Clean or Not to Clean

A Messy Home is a Fun Home

Don't get me wrong, I love a clean house and so do my children. However, it is sometimes necessary to ignore the untidyness, step outside and enjoy the day. If you focus too much on a spotless home when you're raising young children you'll quickly find that cleaning and tidying is an all consuming and never-ending task.

Naptime is Your Time

Don't make the mistake of using nap time for cooking, cleaning and other chores. Before you know it you're children will be up, ready to play and you'll be exhausted. Plan for 30 minutes of chores and an hour of time doing something you enjoy (reading, crafting, taking a nap, write a blog post, etc). When you're children wake up you'll feel ready to embrace motherhood once again.

Independent Play = Chore Time

After reading that nap time is not for chores you may be wondering when they get tackled. Children need to be given the opportunity for independent play from an early age. Although parent involvement in play is very important it doesn't need to be and shouldn't be all of the time. Set your child up with an age appropriate activity that can be supervised from a short distance away, leaving you with an opportunity to wash dishes, fold laundry, sweep floors or other chores. Independent play will also build confidence in your child.

Create Helpful Children

Tidying isn't just for the parents. Encourage children to tidy up their toys when switching to a new activity or before nap time. Children will learn responsibility and you'll be able to focus on other household tasks and time for yourself when nap time eventually comes along. Simple storage solutions like baskets will make tidying a cinch for young ones.

Live Your Life

Be Social

Adult interaction doesn't have to go by the wayside when raising little ones. Maintain relationships or create them with other mom's or dad's in your neighbourhood. Set up play dates where children can safely play alongside each other and parents can socialize.

Do What You Love

There's no need to eliminate your pre-baby activities from your life. You'll be much happier and avoid resentment if you take steps to involve your children in your favourite activities. As they grow older they may just learn to love them as much as you.

And there you have it. In a nutshell that is how I enjoyed every moment of maternity leave and how I will continue to enjoy every moment with my children as they learn and grow.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Make It Monday: Chalkboard Front Door Accent

I've been wanting to put something together for awhile to adorn my now super fun Yellow Door. In the past the only thing I've hung on my door is a wreath during Christmas season, but I love the idea of having something year round. A chalkboard seemed like a great, versatile adornment to carry us through the seasons.

What you'll need:

Metallic plastic serving tray - $1.25 at Dollarama
Chalkboard paint
Foam brush
Wreath hook


Step 1. Using a foam brush, paint the centre of the serving tray with 2 coats of chalkboard paint, let dry in between according to the directions on the can.

Step 2. Once dry, pierce two holes in the top of the serving tray with a nail.

 Step 3. Thread string through the holes and create a loop for hanging. Hang in place on a wreath hook.

Step 4. Attach the The Simple No-Knot Gift Bow or other accessory to add a little pizzazz.

Step 5. After 3 days condition the chalkboard by rubbing a piece of chalk on it's side over the entire surface and wiping it with a dry chalkboard brush or paper towel. Now it's ready to go!

Time for a little front porch sitting...

Happy Monday!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Make It Monday: The Simple No-Knot Gift Bow

Ever have a project or gift that requires a finishing touch with a little extra pizzazz? Well this sweet little bow may be just the thing. If it wasn't ridiculous to have a super long title I'd be tempted to call it The Simple-No knot-stay put-sweet-versatile-loopy-gift-bow.

I'm one of those people that tries to perfect everything, but tying a bow is definitely not my strong suit. So hot glue to the rescue!

What you'll need:

Hot glue


Step 1. Cut your ribbon into 4 strips 8" long and 1 strip 3" long.

Step 2. Hot glue the ends of each strip together, forming 4 medium sized loops and one small loop. See image above.

Step 3. Put a dab of hot glue in the centre of each of the 4 medium loops directly on the seem and press the loop together creating a bow shape.

Step 4. Glue one "bow" on top of another "bow" forming a cross. Repeat with the remaining two "bows" so you end up with two crosses.

Step 5. With one cross rotated into the 'X' position and the other in a '+' position glue the two together.

Step 6. Glue the small loop into the centre of the bow.

Step 7. Depending on what you're using the bow for you may be finished at step 6. I added tails to my bow. Cut one strip of ribbon 24" long and one strip of ribbon 14" long. Fold each strip at the centre on an angle and glue the overlap together. Simply glue to the back of your bow and it's ready to go.

Now what to put it on...

Happy Monday!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Make It Monday: Wooden Bracelets

I was inspired to make these sweet little bracelets after stumbling across a similar project on Suzy's Artsy-Craftsy Sitcom. Her designs used a wide Popsicle stick and showcased her intricate artwork abilities.

What you'll need:

Wooden coffee stir sticks
Drinking glass or other cylinder - in your desired size
Acrylic paint or markers


Step 1. Simmer stir sticks in a large skillet of boiling water for 30 minutes. Allow to cool to touch.

Step 2. Curve stir stick into a drinking glass or other cylinder. Note: to make the kids bracelets I used an empty paper towel tube.

Step 3. Place the glass or tube in the sun, allow to dry completely before removing.

Alternate Step 3. If you're impatient like me you can bake the glass in a 200 degree F oven for about 30 minutes until dry. Make sure you use an oven safe glass if you do it this way. A shot glass may be an alternative if you want to make small bracelets.

Step 4. Be creative and decorate to your hearts content with acrylic paint or markers or whatever medium you decide. Be aware that if you coat the entire bracelet in paint it may soak into the wood and cause it to release it's shape slightly. If you plan on coating it completely it may be a good idea to make your bracelet smaller than you want it.

I made matching bracelets for the girls.

Sophie also got a ladybug bracelet at her request. The little girl can't seem to get ladybugs off her mind since her birthday party.

Happy Monday!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Make It Monday: Clothespin Zoo Animals

If you bought a whole whack of clothespins to make last weeks Modern Note Clipboard, you can use up some spare ones to make this fun craft with your preschooler. On a rainy day last week, Sophie and I decided to create our own at home zoo experience.

What you'll need:

Pipe cleaners
Googly eyes


Step 1. Cut body and head shapes out of the cardstock for the various zoo animals.

Step 2. Colour and design the clothespins and cardstock bodies and heads for each animal

Step 3. Affix the clothespins, heads, googly eyes, pipe cleaner tails and mane to the cardstock body using glue and tape. You're done.

If you're so inclined, use an old cereal box to make the zoo and pen up those wild animals.

Happy Monday!