Road Trips with Toddlers

We’re heading to Massachusetts next week so we’ll be in the car for several hours.  I’ve rounded up some ideas for entertaining my toddler that are affordable and quick to create…

  • Snack Necklace: This will keep Olivia occupied and cover a snack at the same time.  We’ll also have a variety of hearty snacks to keep her satisfied.  (by Design Improvised)
  • Cookie Sheet Fun: The cookie sheet can provide a flat surface for eating, coloring, puzzles, magnets, Wiki Stix, Play Doh molds, etc… You can place magnets on the back of items to hold them in place (puzzle pieces).  (by Playdate Crashers)
  • No Mess Paint in a Bag: Place paint in a large Ziplock bag and tape the bag down to the cookie sheet.  They’ll use their fingers to move the paint around in the bag creating different pictures.  I’ve done this before at home and it was a hit! (by Hippie Housewife)
  • I Spy Bottle: Place small items in a clear plastic bottle, filled with uncooked rice or sand.  You could have a list of different items that are in the bottle and tell them to look for it, or take pictures of each item and they search.  (by Apartment Therapy)
  • Calm Down Jars: Fill a clear bottle with water and glitter glue and the kids can shake it around.  (by the Realistic Mama)
  • Busy Wallet: Use an old wallet and fill with cards that you’ll never use.  I know Olivia will love this since she’s always getting into my wallet.  (by While he was Napping)
  • Busy Bags: Fill small bags with different activities or various small toys.  A favorite is having them place felt squares on the bendy straws. You can break the bags out along the trip. (by True Agape)
  • Deck of Cards:  Give them a deck of cards that you don’t plan on using and they can have fun shuffling the cards, bending them, and most likely, throwing them around… (by the Realistic Mama)
  • IPad: follow the link for a selection of toddler apps that you can download on your IPad. (by Moms Without Answers)
  • Audio Books Podcasts: follow the link for some great audio books podcasts. (by Picklebums)

If you have any other ideas, please share!

Going from One to Two Kids

Jack has been with us one month already, and so far we have survived!  Thankfully, the second time around seems a bit more natural with a smoother transition.  There are plenty of similarities when welcoming your second child compared to your first, along with many differences so I thought I’d share…

Smoother Adjustment: Of course, there are things you forget when caring for a newborn and there are great challenges at times but overall, it’s a smoother adjustment the second time around.  You’re already in the rhythm and on a kid-schedule, so welcoming another one into the mix isn’t as difficult.  They seem to just fit right in.  This makes the newborn phase seem a little extra sweet the second time around.

Requires More Prep:  Plan on it taking longer to prepare your things and make it out the door wherever you’re heading (getting in the car, running errands, playing outside…).  You have one more person to account for so this isn’t surprising.  And don’t forget to consider the time it’s going to take to breastfeed the baby before leaving.

Use Your Time Wisely:  You get very few hands-free opportunities, so when you do, use it!  Newborns are certainly time consuming! During naps I prep dinner, fold laundry, throw a load of laundry in the wash, unload the dishwasher, etc. I take about ten minutes each night to prep for the day ahead. This even includes setting out my morning coffee cup (important) and breakfast bowl.  The less I’m scrambling around in the morning with a little one in my hands, the easier it is!

Greater Helping Hand from the Husband: Having two kids requires the hands of both parents. This is a big difference with having a second child.  Since I’m breastfeeding, I’m usually the one caring for Jack, while Peter handles the reigns on Olivia.

Toddler is Challenging: The newborn may be time-consuming but they are not as challenging as a toddler (in our case)! With the change in the household, it’s common that the toddler will be more challenging at times as they are seeking attention and control. Truly a patience tester at times!

Slow Your Roll AND Keep It Moving: There’s a balance between slowing down your schedule to care for yourself and the family, BUT also keeping it active for the older child so they’re entertained and happy.  Typically, I plan one activity for the day.  We head out in the morning before Olivia gets stir crazy, then make it home for naps and take it slow at home in the afternoon.

Feelings of Excitement, Gratefulness + Sadness: In the beginning, there are feelings all across the board.  I was incredibly excited and grateful to welcome another baby to the family, and I found my heart doubled in size.  But seeing Olivia lose the one-on-one attention that she had before, hit me with sadness at times.  She suddenly felt so much older to us and would never be our little baby again.  Waaa! It hit me hard but then I felt so incredibly blessed to have given her a sibling, which is such a gift.