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Image Credit: © Eden, Janine and Jim| Doctor Aunt | CC by 2.0

We’ve all been there – cruising along, well into yet another well-check appointment for your child when your ped asks about “it”.

That child-rearing topic (sleep, discipline, vitamins, etc.) that you know you’ve either been slacking on a little or you just don’t completely see eye-to-eye with doc on.

So what do you do? Proudly come clean with a “you wanna tussle?” glint in your eye , fudge the truth a bit knowing you’ve got the situation fully under control, or hang your head, mumble the truth, and wait for your lecture

I’d LOVE to hear your honest answers in the comments, here’s our parenting contributor, Jessica, with her story…

Co-sleeping, the family bed, call it what you want, but we do it.

I just wrote about it, but here’s the gist: our ten-month old has been snoozing in “the big bed,” as it’s called around here, since the day she came home from the hospital.

Our three-year-old makes a nightly trek to join us in the wee hours of the night, so that’s four of us sharing a Cal King. It’s getting a little tight, I won’t lie, and while the three-year-old’s dreamland acrobatics can be disruptive, for the most part, we’re all getting decent sleep.

And that’s our measuring stick. It has been for four kids now.

It’s no secret among our friends, some of whom think we’re crazy (and back at you, you sleep training maniacs) and the others who just give us that slow “uh huh” head nod and a look of utter been-there-doing-that commiseration.

But we took E to the pediatrician the other day for her ten-month check-up. And when the doc ran through his little checklist – Breast or bottle? Soft poops, not a constipated baby? Sleeping through the night, and she’s in her own crib now? – I didn’t hesitate.

Breast, with lots of mashed/pureed/pre-chewed food. Oh, and water in a sippy cup. Nope, no constipation issues.

And then I looked him straight in the eye, smiled and lied.

Yes. Read More

If I’m honest, I’ve always thought setting up a birthday gift closet was a pretty unrealistic and over-the-top idea (as evidence by probably the most popular thing I’ve ever written).

But then my son started elementary school and I quickly realized that the number of birthday party invites that come once your child becomes a student can be immense.

Not only is it a stress-saver to always have an appropriate gift around, it can also be a serious money saver if you stock up whenever you see a quality toy on sale.

But how do you know how many gifts (and what type) to keep on hand? Today our resident professional organizer, Annie, is here sharing her signature strategy for setting up a killer gift closet.

And how do you know a high quality toy when you see one on sale? Check out all 350+ of our toy recommendations in our famous MPMK Toy Gift Guides (17 detailed guides sorted by age and interests).

Here’s Annie with the DIY… 

In my experience, parents of young children tend to fall into three camps in regards the birthday party present-prep.

1. They keep no gifts on hand, have no time to shop, and generally find themselves whispering obscenities under their breath when they realize, hours before the big event, there’s nothing in the house to give to little ____. Read More

Image Credit: © Suzette Normand | 07.17.10 191192 | CC by 2.0

The weather is warming up and summer is feeling like it’s just around the corner. Wouldn’t it be amazing if this summer was free of whining on the kids’ part and yelling on your end?

It’s possible! I’m once again teaming up with my friend and personal parenting guru, Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions, as affiliate and host of:

A FREE Positive Parenting Webinar: Get Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding, or Yelling

We are only able offer this webinar only 3 to 4 times a year and it’s always enormously popular, often selling out all 1,000 spots so if you want to learn her tricks and use them to enjoy a peaceful summer with your family, now is the time to sign up!

If you’re not familiar with Amy and her Positive Parenting Solutions program, she’s a self-described “recovering yeller” and champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids.

She’s also a frequent guest on the TODAY Show and has also appeared on Rachael Ray, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, and elsewhere.

During the webinar she’ll be sharing a few of her most effective positive parenting techniques and talking all about her positive parenting toolbox (something our family loves).

Here’s a little more info. on the course in case you’ve missed it the first couple of times around… Read More

Talking to your kids – who knew it would be this tough, this early?! I want so badly to build a relationship where they’ll come to me with the hard stuff. But how do I do that when some days even getting what they did at recess out of them is a battle?

Today, one of MPMK’s former contributor’s, Kim (who also happens to be a speech-language pathologist), is going to share with us the best ways to ask our kids questions.

Didn’t know there was a right way? Well there definitely is – it’s the difference between making your littles feel like they’re on the spot and making them feel like they’re really being heard.

This is important stuff when they’re small and becomes absolutely critical as they get older (and you’re dying to know what’s going on in their heads). So take notes now, while there’s still time!

As adults we ask children a ton of questions. Although questions can be a great way to find out about our kids, it’s crucial that we don’t just ask about what our kids know, but instead get to know our kids.

Of course all of us want our kids to know a lot, but getting to know our kids through the right questions allows us to follow their lead, tap into their intrinsic motivation, and help them pursue their passions.

Don’t ask too many.

Too many questions can make our kids feel like the pressure is on. Especially when our children are just beginning to talk.

We tend to play with their language like a newfound toy, asking them to name things, think of animal sounds, and rattle off shapes and colors.

But we often can find out more about our kids, and not just what they know, by simply listening and watching them. If we can be comfortable with quiet and fewer (and smarter) questions, we actually give children space to tell us (or show us) what they want to share.

Build connections.

The simplest questions, like “how was that?” or “how’d that feel?” can be the most powerful questions you ask your child, because Read More

I’ve been meaning to post this video for quite a while (we’re talking months) but – you know – life. 

Now, however, the warm weather is coming and I’m not putting it off anymore. A neatly stored disposable bag or two in the car is a must have during summer – perfect for harnessing wet clothes and suits, sand toys, impromptu picnics, etc.

And this method is pretty great just for keeping your cupboards from constantly overflowing too. Here’s our resident professional organizer, Annie, with the details…

A couple of months ago, we brought you a post about how to store reusable bags.

Since so many of us are aiming to be more eco-conscious, and because reusable bags can be fairly cumbersome, that post has turned out to be a bonafide crowd pleaser. (It’s always the littlest shifts that make the biggest differences, isn’t it?)

Given how popular the original post has been, we thought it only made sense to make the concept of taming your reusable bags even more accessible by way of a little video tutorial.

Check it out and get to folding:
 

Want more organizational tips and inspiration?

Check out all of our Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life projects!

Some of our favorites:

Car Hacks for Happy Kids

Free Closet Organization Printables (Too Big, Too Small, etc.)

10 Tips for Better Meal Planning

10 Best Ways to Organize Art Supplies

POYEL Quick Tips: Baskets

By this time of the school year, we tend to hit a rut in the lunch department.

Packing lunches Monday through Friday can be a little monotonous.  Sandwiches are our go-to, so when we run out of combinations of ingredients to go on the bread, it’s time to switch things up!

Meet the roll-up!  You can make a roll-up out of just about anything.

Today we’re going to show you how to make two roll-ups with a tortilla and two roll-ups with lunch meat (a great gluten-free option).

And hey, the roll-ups are a perfect idea for those times you forgot to buy bread at the store.  Not that it’s ever happened in our house. Read More

I don’t know about you guys, but sleep (or the lack thereof) is a repeated topic of conversation amongst my mom friends and I.

Thankfully,  I have been blessed with very good sleepers in all three of my kids (Aside from the first 5 or 6 months for each of them and for all naps with baby M. I love him but he totally sucks at naps.)

So while we dabbled in all sorts of sleeping arrangements and practices when the kids were babies – co-sleeping, sleep training, pseudo co-sleeping – it’s not something we have to deal with everyday anymore.

Close friends of mine haven’t been so lucky. We’re talking serious whack-a-mole/insomniac kids, a merry-go-round of sleeping arrangements, and possibly even the involvement of toddler sleep experts and sleep studies.

Here’s our contributor Jessica with her story…

First of all, I really hate that term. Co-sleeping isn’t much better, but whatever you call, it’s what we do, pretty much by default.

As idealistic parents-to-be some eight years ago, we had a plan when it came to sleeping. We didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl, but we did know our baby would sleep in the gorgeous crib on the organic linens and fancy crib mattress we had purchased because where else would he/she sleep?

Babies sleep in cribs. Right? We’d start with the crib in our room to make things easier for those nighttime nursings, and in a month or two, we’d move it down the hall to the nursery once the baby was sleeping through the night. That was the plan.

But, you know, life. Real life.

A real baby and a real couple who were initiated into this club of parenthood with one hell of a hazing. Because guess what we learned really fast.  Read More

As the school year comes to close, I’m looking at my personal time shrink like crazy.  Don’t get me wrong, I love spending the days with my kids at the beach or the pool.  I also love not having to pack lunches.

But, let’s admit it, having my kids home from school means that I may not get a shower before we start the day.  It also means that my hair will look less than stellar.

This summer, I’m looking for hair styles that take 5 minutes or less.

I’m also looking for styles that one-up the basic pony tail.  I want to look cute!  So, I put together…

My favorite 15 summer hair styles that take 5 minutes or less

First off we have The Gibson Tuck by Sara Lynn Paige.  It’s such a classy look and works for short or long hair.

The top knot has definitely had it’s moment for the last few years.  And it’s easy to see why.  They look effortless and cool.  The Top knot by A Beautiful Mess is a perfect example.

If you have very long hair or are looking for more of a polished look, try the full bun for long hair by Forever Amber.   It’s a little different than the traditional top knot.  I love the Audrey Hepburn inspiration.

Some of us may be growing out bangs.  The French braid at the crown by Bravi Online is a perfect solution for looking chic even in the in-between stages of hair growth. Read More

I realized lately I’ve been steadily filing away a lot of things I’ve wanted to share with you but – for one reason or another – haven’t yet.

No time like the present, right?

100 Ways to Be Kind to Your Child

First up is this absolutely fabulous poster, which was created by one of my Camp Mom: Summer Activities Kit co-writers, Alissa of Creative With Kids.

It arrived last week and now resides in a place of honor above the play kitchen in our play/family room (side note: this room looks nothing like this anymore – I will try to update you soon on the changes!)

It’s already such an important piece in our home. Multiple times a day I see it, usually while in the presence of my kids, and take just a second to reflect on the kind of Mama I want to be. Plus, the vintage vibe is really chic and looks great on our wall. Read More

I don’t mean to scare you or anything but, it’s May folks. Summer vacation will be here before you know it – do you have a plan?

Mine is to set up some sort of loose schedule. Nothing too confining but a flexible outline of how any days spent at home are going to go

I’ll have more details later this month, but for now, suffice to say, I’m gathering resources. And this list is one of them. 

Summer is the perfect time to try a science experiment or two from the comfort of your own kitchen and I plan to refer back to this list often over the next four months. Here’s Alli with the goods…

I don’t know about you, but my kids are suckers for a good science experiment. And I’ll be honest, so am I.

I can still remember “experiment day” in seventh grade science class. I mean, who didn’t love a good volcano eruption? Salt crystal formation? And flubber???

One of the best parts about being a Mom (in my humble opinion) is recreating fun memories with your children. And science experiments are the perfect opportunity to do just that.

And here’s the best part: They’re not as hard as you think!

Most experiments will work for kids of all ages, and actually make minimal mess. (Though, sometimes a mess can be a part of the fun.)

But most importantly, science experiments encourage our kids to be curious while discovering the world around them. And who doesn’t want that?

We’ve rounded up a list of 20 Kitchen Experiments your kids will love. Have Fun!

1. Make Elephant Toothpaste: Mix dry active yeast with water and hydrogen peroxide to produce elephant sized foam.

2. Make Rain from Clouds: Make a shaving cream cloud rain by mixing food coloring with water.

3. Make Invisible Ink: Write a special secret note using this mixture made with lemon juice.

4. Make a Tornado in a Bottle: Make your own swirling tornado using water and dish soap.

5. Make Spaghetti Slime: Make a colorful stringy slime. Read More

There are two things I absolutely adore about this simple kid project – No, wait, make that three!

First, it gets the kids outside from start to finish. Second, the results are so pretty you can easily frame them in any room for some easy and inexpensive artwork that will boost your kiddo’s confidence (score!). I’ve been itching to try this send-away framing service and I think this might just be the project for doing it.

And third, it’s an opportunity for learning at home, which we always love. Here’s Julee with the details…

Part nature exploration, part science and part art, making sun prints – also called cyanotypes – is the perfect spring-time activity.

Last weekend, we spent an entire afternoon collecting greenery from our yard, experimenting with making prints and, later, framing our creations for a nature-themed gallery wall in our living room.

Materials for Making Sun Prints

Here’s what you’ll need to create your own sun prints:

  • Light-sensitized paper and an acrylic sheet (we purchased this kit that included both)
  • Large flat surface such as a piece of cardboard
  • Water
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • An assortment of small objects (leaves or other flat items with interesting shapes work best)

Read More

Something I’m always on the lookout for are healthy new snack ideas that I can whip up in a snap.

My kids (and I’ve heard they’re not alone in this) are very cyclical when it comes to food. They’ll absolutely love something – it’s all carrots and hummus, all the time – and then, BAM!, they’re over it. Couldn’t entice them to eat another carrot stick or a dollop of hummus for anything.

Which is why I often find that one day I’ll be humming along, feeling good about the things I’m feeding them, and the next it feels like the only thing they’ll eat is cheese.

Today, my favorite nutritionists – the ladies from Prescribe Nutrition – are here to help.  They’ve kindly rounded up no less than twenty of their go-to healthy snacks for kids. (Hooray!)

If there’s anyone that can do it, it’s these guys. They are both wonderfully knowledgable in the field of diet and nutrition and they have kids of their own to feed so they feel our pain.

Now, on to the snacks! Read More

One of my number one priorities as a mom is to do my best to stay in the moment and enjoy my three young kids as much as I can.

As they say, though, “The days are long but the years are short”. Which, in my case, means that’s sometimes that’s easier said than done.

That is exactly why I truly love my Keurig (like I’d be kind of lost without it) and why I think it would make such a wonderful Mother’s Day gift for anyone who doesn’t have one this year. I seriously don’t think I know a mom who wouldn’t be thrilled to have one of these beauties.

And to make it an even more perfect gift – today we’ve got three new must-try recipes to go with it PLUS a special discount for MPMK readers.

Now through May 30th the first 200 readers who use the code MODPARENTS will get 30% off your Mother’s Day Keurig 2.0 Brewing System Purchase!

 

Read on for those recipes from our contributor Kristin…

Read More

Ever since becoming a mother, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my blessings. I am so humbled to be called “Mom” by happy, curious, loving and healthy kiddos (aged 6, 4 and just barely 1).  I often wonder how did I get so lucky? Lucky in more ways than I can even count.

Lucky that they are healthy. Lucky that I don’t have to worry about how to feed them or how to afford gifts on their birthday. Lucky that I have this incredible job that helps me provide for them while allowing me to take the baby to “Mommy and Me” class or volunteer at the big kids’ field trips. Lucky that I’ve been able to find high quality childcare for them for the hours I do have to work. Lucky that I have an amazing partner to help me in the never-ending work that is parenthood. Lucky that they get the chance to play outside every day. Lucky that they go to a great school surrounded by caring teachers and bus drivers.

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky.

And when I start thinking about why are we so lucky, I naturally start to think about those that are not. And that’s what I want to talk to you about today.

Parenting is a busy and overwhelming task, often not leaving room for a whole lot else. Maybe you’ve thought about ways to volunteer or give back to your community but have gotten stuck trying to find the time or the momentum to get started.

I’m so proud to be a part of this wonderful project with Huggies. It’s such an easy way to take a step back from ourselves and give back to others with just a single click.

And here’s another great thing – there is so much inspiration to be found there. Maybe you want to give but just don’t know where to start. Take 20 seconds and check out the page and then the hashtag #ultrahug on Twitter. The ideas of ways you can contribute will come flooding in – I promise.

Personally, I’ve been thinking a whole, whole lot about foster children lately.

All those kids out there who haven’t been as lucky as mine. Who have found themselves in the home of a stranger with nothing but a small bag containing all that they hold dear in the world.

I want to gather each of them up in my arms, I want to hug them and tell them they are safe, that they are special, that things will get better.

Of course I can’t do that – but I’ve been wondering what I actually can do to help the children in the foster care system in my community. A little digging and I came across a truly inspiring organization called Treehouse.

This is their mission statement…

Every Child Deserves a Childhood

With fierce optimism, Treehouse invests in the lives of young people who have faced the deep wounds from a crisis of parenting. In helping them to secure the essential education, basic material needs, and social experiences they equally deserve, we help kids in foster care discover their own resilience and strength. Treehouse is committed to leveling the playing field for youth in foster care, so that each is included, may prosper in, and contribute to society.

What I find most impressive about this organization is how they strive to stand beside foster children in every facet of life. From basic needs like clothing, toys and school supplies to enriching experiences such as summer camps and Driver’s Ed – they are continually providing for kids in the foster system.

People involved in Treehouse also give a great deal of their time. The organization is always looking to grow their network of mentors and volunteers involved in all aspects of the children’s education. This might mean assistance with changing schools, tutoring, providing summer learning activities, and even setting up college scholarship funds.

I really can’t say enough about this incredible organization and I truly hope you’ll take the time to check them out, and also to check out the Spread the Love campaign and find a super simple way to give back to your community!

 I’m pretty excited to introduce a new feature we’re staring on MPMK today.

As a busy mom of three little ones, I find anything that can help me keep our home clean and healthy in an easy and efficient way is pretty much invaluable. So how bunch a whole collections of somethings that do just that?

“Project Green Clean Your ENTIRE House” is a series that is not only going to show you how to clean everything in your home using non-toxic, green methods – it’s also going to tell you how often to do it.

I know it’s just cleaning that we’re talking about here but I’m kind of geeking out over creating an extensive resource like this!

Here’s Kaley with our inaugural post in the series addressing something I think we can all collectively groan about, cleaning the windows…

Spring is here. The sun is shining, the days are getting longer, and things around the house are looking a little, well, dirty. It’s definitely spring cleaning time!

And what better place to start your spring cleaning than with the windows? After a long, cold winter of rain, snow, wind and mud, the outsides of your windows are probably looking pretty cloudy and spotted. And if your kids are anything like mine, the insides of your windows are covered with fingerprints and goodness knows what else.

We have french doors leading into our dining room that are constantly covered in food and splatter of milk since my daughter’s high chair sits right next to the doors most of the time. Not exactly the view I like when I’m sitting down to breakfast on a beautiful spring day.

Luckily, windows are super easy to clean using just a few ingredients you are sure to have in your cupboards right now. Read More