Back-To-School Lunch Ideas

back to school lunches

The week or two before school begins we always have plans to pack the most Pinterest-worthy snacks and lunches for our kids. But after a few “Pinterest fails” we get overwhelmed by the amount of time it can take to pack the perfect lunch.

Here’s the thing, “perfect” means something different than what you think. A lunch packed with care and love is exactly what your kids want, no matter how it looks. With some careful planning and a few ideas to get you started, packing healthy and delicious lunches for your kids will be easier than you think.

First, make a list of lunch “staples” that you can rotate through each week:

Fruits:Blueberries, strawberries, oranges, apples, bananas, peaches, pineapple, mangoes and melon

Veggies:Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers

Dairy:Cheese, yogurt, milk and pudding

Whole grains:bread, cereal, pasta, crackers and rice

Protein:Eggs, beans, chicken, nuts, seeds and peanut butter

Next, find ways to include the food groups in FUN ways that aren’t a lot of extra work:

Delicious trail mix:Put together some healthy cereal, nuts, seeds and raisins for a yummy snack to include in your little one’s lunch. You can even add in a spoonful of their favorite candy for a special treat.

DIY bento boxes:There’s a reason that kids love Lunchables – because there are individual items that they get to assemble on their own. So, invest in some containers with multiple dividers and let your little one do the work! Some suggestions include pasta, sauce and cheese; crackers, cheese and sliced lunchmeat; veggies and salad dressing; lettuce, veggies, seeds and dressing; tortilla chips, chicken, salsa, cheese and veggies;

A twist on sandwiches:Instead of just bread, meat and cheese or peanut butter and jelly, try something fun! Roll some cheese and turkey up and include fun sauces. Invest in cookie cutters to make fun sandwich shapes. Consider using flatbreads or tortillas instead of sliced bread.

Breakfast for lunch:Think along the lines of a DIY bento box and send your little one with breakfast for lunch. Make scrambled eggs and include toppings like bacon, salsa and veggies; or may waffles with berries, cinnamon and sugar or syrup to top it off.

Shop smart and pick a handful of items that you can use every day for a week to maximize your spending. Separate lunch items in your fridge and pantry so that you can easily scan your inventory to see what you might be missing.

If lunch food is mixed in with the rest of your pantry ingredients, chances are you’ll be left scrounging to put together a motley assortment of items for lunch. And remember – keeping premade lunches like lunchables or uncrustables is OK too!

Father’s Day Crafts

fathers day crafts

If you’re looking for a sentimental gift for dad this Father’s Day, we have some craft ideas for you to create with your little ones. Dad will get a meaningful keepsake and you’ll get some quality time with your kids in the process!

A new twist on the traditional handprints and footprints:

Create a card this Father’s day that shows dad just how much he means to you. Trace and cut out your kid’s handprint and fold the fingers over into the thumbs up position. Glue to the front of a card and go crazy coloring and decorating. Check out some inspiration here.

You can also check out your local craft store for a special plastic that shrinks when heated. Use paint to create hand as well as other art that can be turned into magnets and key chains. Check out the instructions here.

Use one of dad’s shoes to create an imprint on a piece of paper. Once it dries, overlay an imprint of your little one’s foot and write the message “Following in your Footsteps” with the date. Check out some inspiration here.

Cut out shapes and letters to spell out a special message for dad – something like “I [heart] U” or “Best Dad.” Then gently fix the outlines on a larger piece of paper in a way that they can easily be peeled off. Then have your kids finger paint over the letters, leaving a message in the empty spaces once you remove the cutouts. Check out some inspiration here.

Create a personalized book:

Do a quick search online for “Personalized Father’s Day Books” and check the results for one you love. Customize illustrations and names in the book to resemble your partner and kid(s). This is a gift the whole family can enjoy reading together. It will remind dad how special he is to you and your kids, and also provide long-term quality time as you read it together over and over again.

All about dad:

This craft is especially fun for younger children. Print out or create your own sheet that’s “all about dad” and have your child answer questions or fill in the blanks about their dad. Items on your printout may include:

  • How old is your dad?
  • What is dad’s favorite thing to do?
  • Name something your dad is good at.
  • What is something dad always says to you?
  • Name something that makes dad laugh.

You may get some serious answers, but you may also get some funny, silly answers! This is a keepsake you can repeat year after year to see how answers change. Click hereto see our inspiration.

Sure, it’s great to get dad an awesome gift he’s had his eye on, but don’t forget to make the day meaningful in small ways, too. Leave a note in his lunchbox, car, or wallet for him to find sometime during the day. Cook his favorite meal and watch one of his favorite movies together as a family. Encourage your kids to ask their dad about some of his childhood memories so they can hear stories from him. There are so many ways you can help your kids show dad how special he is!

Sleep Safety – What you need to know

Sleep Safety

Sleep safety is a hot topic right now, and so we wanted to share some tips on how you can ensure your little one has a restful and safe night’s sleep. We’ve probably all heard that baby needs to be alone on his back in a crib to sleep, but sleep safety extends beyond that. We have eight tips for naptime and bedtime.

  1. Always place your baby on his back to sleep.When you lay your little one down for a nap or at night, always place him on his back. Once your baby is able to roll over on his own – sometimes a surprise for mom and dad at first – he may roll over in his sleep to his tummy or side. As long as he is able to roll back-and-forth, there isn’t a need to return him to his back.
  2. Room share with your baby.While your little one should not share a bed with you it is recommended that his crib or bassinet be in your room for at least the first 3-6 months. This way, you can hear your baby and get to him more quickly if he needs you.
  3. Ensure a firm sleep surface.A lot of times we want our little one to be bundled up and comfy. However you can rest assured that your little one is much safer on a firm sleep surface than a fluffy one like on a pillow or comforter. A simple crib mattress or pack-and-play is perfect.
  4. Free your crib from pillows, blankets and toys.Your baby’s crib shouldn’t have pillows, blankets or bumper pads. If you’re concerned about your little one sticking a leg or arm through the crib and getting stuck, use a mesh crib liner instead of the padded bumpers.
  5. Don’t let your baby get hot.As mentioned above, there shouldn’t be blankets in your baby’s crib. If you’re concerned about him being warm during the winter, opt for socks, footie pajamas or another sleeper for warmth.
  6. Consider offering a pacifier.As with all things, there are pros and cons to offering a pacifier. Even if you only offer a pacifier during naps and at bedtime, it can be beneficial in preventing SIDS according to many studies.
  7. Stay away from smokers.Second-hand smoke is very dangerous for babies and has been found to contribute to an increased risk of SIDS. A relatively new term, third-hand smoke is just as dangerous. Third-hand smoke is a term for residual contamination that lingers on walls, toys and clothes.

Remember, when in doubt you should reach out to your pediatrician. Your little one’s health and well-being are your number one priority, so take advantage of your pediatrician’s office. Attend all well check-ups and be sure to ask any questions no matter how trivial they may seem. Most pediatricians’ offices also have an after-hours nurse line that you can call at night or on weekends.

Additional safety information available at kidshealth.org.

 

Family Board Games

board games

When was the last time you played a board game? It’s probably been a while! What’s your favorite game? #Life and #Monopoly were definitely some of our favorites. (Although the amount of children you can have sometimes get way out of control and pretty much everyone knows that monopoly can be the longest game in history).

Maybe you already play board games together as a family, but if you don’t this is a great opportunity to introduce your kids to a fun way of learning! Board games mean quality time together as you teach your children valuable skills like following rules, taking turns, winning/losing graciously and in this case – spelling.

If your kids are younger, look for ways to make the game appropriate for their age level. Instead of playing with random letters, start out with one word and work together to use all of the tiles to spell additional words. Break out a dictionary – yes a real and actual book dictionary – and use it to look up and spell words together.

Sensory Activities for Baby

Sensory Activities

So, your little one is rolling over, scooting around and maybe even crawling. She’s very interested in the world around her and she’s depending on you to learn each and every day! Toys can be expensive and often don’t actually “teach” your little one anything.

Instead, skip the toys and check around your house for simple ways to create sensory activities for baby. Sensory activities are things that stimulate your little one’s senses of sight, touch, sound, smell and hearing.

Reading

Our number one favorite sensory activity is reading! Children’s books often have bright and colorful pictures that will keep baby’s attention. Plus, listening to your voice is one of the best ways that baby can learn. Be sure to use different voices for different characters and put emphasis on emotions.

Mess-free Finger Paint

Go to your local craft store and pick up some small bottles of brightly colors paint – any kind will do! Squirt a few different colors into a Ziploc bag and seal it. Baby can squeeze and squish the bag while mixing the colors and watching them change. Worried about baby finding away to open a bag? Just add some duct tape to seal it tight.

Jiggle-y Jell-O

This one gets messy, but it’s SO FUN! Get a shower curtain liner and spread it out on the floor. Dump some Jell-O in the middle and let baby lay in it, roll in it, grab it, squeeze it and even eat it! Even thought baby will definitely need a bath after this activity, cleanup otherwise is a breeze because you can fold up the liner and throw it away or rinse it with the water hose and keep it for next time.

Rice Play

This can get messy, so keep it in a confined area if possible or on a tile or hardwood floor where the rice is easy to sweep up. This is also an activity you’ll want to supervise in case your little one likes to put everything in her mouth. You can use dry rice or cooked rice (if you’re brave!) in a bowl for her to squish and feel. Add other small items or toys in the rice for baby to find.

Twinkle Twinkle

You can probably find a string of holiday lights in a storage bin somewhere in your house. It’s time to break them out and use them for more than the holidays! Put the string of lights into a mason jar and plug them in. This is another activity you’ll need ot supervise, but this is especially fun if your lights are multicolored or if they twinkle.

Pin Board

Think of a time before Pinterest. Find a corkboard or similar and secure items for baby to play with. Check out your local hardware store for knobs, handles and switches you can secure to the board. Then add some ribbons, shower curtain rings, small mirrors and even macaroni to the board for more fun.

Shake, Shake!

Use toilet paper or paper towel rolls to make shakers with different ingredients – rice, beans, sand and beads are a few of our favorite. Or mix-and-match different items for even more unique sounds! Seal each end with tape and let baby shake away!

No matter how you play with your little one, you’re investing in their development. By introducing new sounds, shapes and interesting feelings, you’re teaching about the world around them.

ChangePal Product Review

ChangePal Review

ChangePal Product Review

As parents, we’re always on the hunt for the next greatest baby product. With all the “gear” on the market promising to make your life as a parent easier, it can be difficult to determine what really works like it promises.

One of our goals with the Pregnant Pauses blog is to help simplify your life – and that means seeking out the best baby gear on the market to share with you. We know (from experience!) that simplifying “life on the go” is one of the biggest struggles moms have.

(more…)

Infant Safety Checklist – Free Printable!!!

Infant Safety Checklist

Download a free infant safety checklist.

The safety of your baby is critical.  We spend a lot of time caring for our little ones and there are a million things to do before they arrive on the planet.  However, falls rank as the number one cause of non-fatal accidents for infants, followed by burns.  Leaving their carrier on a high table without side rails, not putting safety gates on stairs.

Additional information on infant safety can be found at womenshealth.gov .  Check with your physician and other healthcare providers for more information and resources on infant safety.

SafetyChecklist_Infant

 

Two Natural Ways to Boost Your Health

natural health boosters

When it comes to being healthy, every small change you make can add up to be a huge difference for your health. We like to think of healthy changes in two ways: there are things that you can remove from your life or diet to make positive changes, and there are things you can add to make improvements.

And when it comes to making positive changes, we like healthy habits that are easy to add and stick to. Two of our favorites are body brushing and taking a detox bath once a week. Each one takes very little time, but the health benefits add up quickly! Include these in your routine and you’re sure to see positive changes in as little as a week after introducing them. Plus – they’re great for the whole family!

(more…)

New Ways to Celebrate the New Year

New Year

Once upon a time, ringing in the New Year meant parties, confetti, champagne toasts and excitedly counting down until the clock struck midnight. Now that you’re a mom, those may seem like distant memories that won’t be in your future for a long time to come.

In fact, you may be glad to trade those parties for a few extra hours of precious sleep if you have an infant. But that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate. Ringing in the New Year may look a little different now, but it doesn’t have to be less special. We have some ideas to help make the 2019 New Year your most special one yet!

(more…)

Staying Organized Before, During and After Christmas

staying organized

If you’re like a lot of Americans, “Santa” may have gone overboard at your house this year…again! You may have shopped ahead in an effort to save money, but then forgotten about some of your purchases. Or, the “hottest” toys hit the stores, and you ended up buying more than you anticipated.

Once you factor in friends and family buying gifts as well, it can be overwhelming to think about all the toys and gifts that will be in your home in the next week or so. It’s time to get ahead of the mess now and plan how you’ll get organized for the New Year.

First, organize what you already have.

We know you’re thinking When do I have time to organize anything right now?But the investment of even a few hours can make a huge difference in getting organized. Start by doing a quick purge of your kids’ toys. Get rid of all the small kid’s meal and gumball machine toys that somehow multiply overnight. They won’t be missed!

Consider when the last time you saw your kids play with each toy. Has it been months? Is it something they’re bored with or have outgrown? Time to pass it along! There are many kids in need, and your local thrift store is the perfect place to re-home gently used toys.

You’ll also want to find an organization method. Put all your board games together, action figures somewhere else and Barbie needs her own place, too. Stop by the store and get some medium sized storage totes to put each different kind of toy in, and then stack them on shelves in a closet. This way, they are visible and accessible, but not all mixed up together.

Then, plan for the big day.

You already know it’s going to be crazy. The wrapping paper, tape, bows and boxes will be everywhere. Everywhere! So go ahead and set the expectation that gifts are handled with care and that ALL trash makes it into a designated trash bag before moving on to the next gift. By doing this, you won’t be left with a mountain of paper after an hour of opening presents. If you save gift bags, go ahead and fold them up and you go, stacking them in a neat pile for future use.

Try to open only one toy at a time (or one toy per parent/helper) so that all pieces, parts and instructions are accounted for while trash makes it into the bag. After all, you already know how many little twist-ties and small plastic pieces are holding toys in boxes. If you’re not careful, you’ll be finding them around the house for weeks to come!

Finally, find a place for everything.

Presents have been opened and the rush is over. Everyone is now settling in to inspect their new treasures and see how it all works. But there is still work to be done! Now it’s also time for you to assess all of the new additions, sort through them and find places for each thing.

Even if that means that some things don’t HAVE a place. Did you get a gift you know you’ll never use? Or something you know your kids will never reallyplay with. Just go ahead and set it aside unopened. Maybe it’s something you can re-gift at a later date or donate now to a charity where it can have a better home. It’s better to be honest than to let it end up unused in the corner of a closet for the next six months.

Once you’ve decided what you want to keep, it’s time to find places for everything. Remember how you organized toys into storage containers? Now that’s paying off! New dolls can go in the same place you’ve already got some organized. Action figures can be added to their box, and board games can be added to their stack as well. Of course, you’ll have some miscellaneous things that don’t really have a place, but that’s OK. You made it 90% of the way there!

Many of us have a New Year’s Resolution to be more organized in 2019 – but don’t wait until then to begin. Start your New Year out right by getting organized now, so it’s something you can maintain instead of another project to tackle.