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Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts have been hand selected by our editors to bring you the latest and greatest products that make your life a little easer and a lot more stylish! Our product scouts have a variety of children from newborn to age 10 and are on the ground (literally) using and testing these products. Our reviews are honest and the opinions of the scouts are always their own.

Moving, in general, can be the best/worst experience. There’s the packing and the purging and the tape… so much tape. But, on the other side, you also get a new house and new spaces to decorate, which is worth the rest of it. I think I could be considered a chronic mover. In my eight years of marriage, we’ve moved eight times. And I won’t go into how many times I moved growing up. So basically, moving and me are besties.

Recently, my family moved into a new house. This move was a bit different because I had two kids that were old enough to know what was going on. Even having moved so many times, this move felt like a completely new experience as I navigated packing, purging, physically moving our stuff and settling down with two child “assistants.” I made some mistakes and I had some sweet victories. Here’s my best advice for moving with kids.

6 Tips for Moving with Kids

1. Make a “priority box” and put the wine glasses in it

This is my no. 1 tip to anyone moving. Take a box and write Open First on it. Then, throw anything in there that you have to have within 24 hours of moving. Now you know where all those important odds and ends are. Mine had some paperwork, my computer charger, extra sippy cups, dark chocolate M&Ms and wine glasses in it. Oh, and don’t forget the corkscrew. That’s an amateur mistake.

2. Buy more boxes than you think you’ll need

I went back to the box store four times during this move. Kids have a lot of stuff. They hide it away in the deep dark crevices of the closet and you don’t realize how much there is until you start packing it. Toys are big and oddly shaped so they take up a lot of room in boxes. And don’t get me started on my shoe collection. I actually mislabeled some of the boxes so my husband wouldn’t realize how many there were. Which brings me to my next tip…

3. Pack while your husband isn’t home

If you’re like me, you may actually own way more stuff than your husband does. He doesn’t need to know that you have a collection of 17 cake stands or that you enjoy hoarding party supplies in the spare bedroom closet. Pack that stuff when he isn’t home. What he doesn’t know can’t hurt him… or you.

4. Hire movers

I know what you’re thinking, “That’s just extra expense.” Just wrap it into the cost of having children. They don’t really need to go to college anyway. If you have kids, you’re officially too old to ask your friends to help you move in exchange for pizza and beer. Do you want to help people move? Probably not. Don’t do that to your friends. Also, it’s really hard to juggle watching and entertaining the kids while carrying a king size bed up the stairs.

6 tips for moving with kids

5. Don’t let the kids in on your craziness

This is actually a serious one. Moving can bring on stress and anxiety. If your kids pick up on it, they may feel sad or nervous about the change. I wanted my kids to be excited about the new house instead of sad about leaving the old one. We let them pick out new bedding for their rooms and talk about what colors to paint the walls. My son, who is a little older, loved feeling like a part of the process.

6. If at all possible, find something for the kids to do on move day

Kids watching all of their belongings being broken down and moved is a little tough on them. My daughter cried every time she saw a piece of furniture or box leave the house. She’s only 2-years-old and she didn’t understand that they were literally just moving it into a different house. She basically thought someone was stealing all of our stuff. It was miserable. If at all possible, have the kids go somewhere else during the actual move — school, grandma’s, a friend’s. Even if they don’t get emotional, you’re going to have enough to deal with on move day.

At the end of the day, everyone will survive the move. There may be some tears shed and a few broken dishes, but as long as everyone gets to come home to the same house that night, I’ll call it a victory.

Have you had the joy of moving with kids? Was it stressful or was it a breeze?

This post was contributed by Lindsey McPherson, owner of The Nashville Mom. You can find more from Lindsey on Instagram.

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I sent my oldest off to kindergarten last year, and while that in no way qualifies me as an expert, I still feel compelled to share what I’ve learned… from one mom to another. Last year at this time I was a little anxious and navigating so many firsts preparing my son for kindergarten. I found the most reassurance and helpful tips came from other moms. So in no particular order, here are 12 tips I want to pass along:

12 Tips for a First-Time Kindergarten Mom

1. Give the bus a try from the beginning

If you are going to have your kiddo ride the bus at all during the year, have them start from the very beginning.  At least in our school system, the start of the school year is a time when they have additional adult support/guidance on each bus and have the kindergartners ride in the front. In the beginning of the year school, all the bus drivers and school staff have a heightened awareness of making sure the kids are comfortable and in the right place.

 2. Size up with the backpack

From our experience, in kindergarten you can no longer get away with the adorable, yet tiny, character packs. We found that our son needed a much bigger backpack than we would have anticipated. Between take home folders, library books, projects/artwork, a change of shoes, water bottles, and snow gear (which takes up a ton of room and for such a long season here in Maine!), we opted for a large backpack that he could still manage on his own.

3. Appropriate footwear your kiddo can manage independently

My son lives in sneakers, so not an issue for him, but our teacher was constantly reminding families to send kiddos in appropriate footwear. They had PE twice a week and three recesses throughout the day that required sensible and safe footwear. It’s also important that your child can be independent with their shoes. If he has not mastered laces, stick to Velcro.

4. Keep an open mind about your child’s teacher

In our little town, teacher assignments are sent home in the mail the same time every year, and we all run to the mailbox in anticipation. As parents, we get excited and we love to compare notes which is great, but one thing I’ve learned thus far is to keep an open mind about our assigned teacher. Every kiddo and every family is different, and no one’s experience will be the same.

Books to read about starting kindergarten
5. Read books and watch shows that talk about the transition

The start of kindergarten is a big transition for our little people. Every kiddo is different — some, like my son, are beyond eager to jump in full speed ahead, but others need extra reassurance. I’m certainly no expert, but I think all kids can benefit from talking about the transition ahead. There are many great books out there to help with the dialogue,  like Wemberly Worried and Kindergarten Rocks!and some favorite shows like Daniel Tiger have some great episodes helping kiddos through change by example

6. Label everything

We lost countless hats, mittens, and water bottles last year, but on many occasions, labeling saved the day. No matter how hard you try to find unique items, you will be surprised how many other kids have the same thing. Label everything… shoes included! There are lots of great options out there for labeling and monogramming.

7. Lead by example: show them excitement not anxiety

Show your child that you’re comfortable with with her starting school to help her feel more at ease. Certainly it’s a great time to have open dialogues with your kiddo about the transition and any of their fears, but show confidence in them and the experience. Try not to stress out about where you’re child is at in terms of skill set. My son literally could not write his name when he started Kindergarten, but he picked it up in no time.

12 Back-to-School Tips for Kindergarten Moms

8. Choose an easy-to-navigate lunchbox

Many new kindergartners haven’t had to navigate a lunch box on their own before. To help them with this transition, pick a lunch box that is easy for them to open and navigate. For us, a bento box style works best as it’s easy and efficient for my little guy to manage and also gives him variety. Also, don’t stress out if the lunch box comes back full in the beginning. Lunch time at school is short and they’re learning how to balance their social time and eating. They will figure it out and they will eat, but don’t be surprised if “I’m starving” is the fist thing they say when they get off the bus.

9. Go to all the school orientations, meet and greets, and play dates that you can

This seems like a no-brainer, but schedule permitting, try to get to all the school functions and orientations that you can. Many classes will organize a few summer play dates to get to know each other; definitely look into this or work on organizing one yourself. When school does start, be sure to check your child’s backpack daily and read everything that comes home.

10. Encourage independence

You might be having a hard time letting go — especially if this is your first kiddo — but as summer is winding down, be sure to encourage your child to try things on their own and give them a little extra responsibility. Picking out their outfit, regular chores around the house, reading time, packing their bag, labeling their gear are great places to start at this age.

11. Start your routine early

Kindergarten (especially if you have full-day, like we do) is a long day. These kids will be pooped, making sleep and routine key. If you’re like us, bed times have often been pushed later on these beautiful summer nights. Now is the time to starting shifting back to earlier bed times. It’s also good to start other elements of your school days routine before school actually starts, like having your child lay out an outfit the night before, working together to prep lunches and snacks, establishing a grooming routine, and practicing being all the way ready to leave by the time you would need to be out the door.

12. Ask your child more specific questions

Remember that your kiddo has had a long day, they will be tired (especially in the beginning!), and not always wanting to chat. With that said, I’ve learned that you get more information when you ask more specific questions. Who was your reading partner today? What was your special today? What sport did you play at recess?  In the beginning I would say, How as school today? and my son would give me a quick “good” and move right along. His amazing teacher sent parents weekly questions to ask that were probing and more likely to get the dialogue flowing, and it was a huge help.

 

What’s your best tip for newbie kindergarten moms? If you’re a newbie yourself, what has you most anxious?

 

 

This post was contributed by Rebecca Spear as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Rebecca on her blog, Mainely Mama.

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A new school year is about to start and that means back to schedules, carpooling, and packing lunches everyday. It also means a whole new classroom full of moms to get to know. I always think it’s great to know the other parents in my child’s classroom. One, because I’m overly social, but also because we have to have each other’s backs. We all need help with this crazy thing called parenting. I’m a firm believer that it takes a village and the parents in my child’s classroom are a great addition to mine.

5 Tips for connecting with moms at school

But, that raises the question: How do I connect with the other moms at school? I’m sure there are a lot of ways, but these are my best tips for connecting with the other moms and growing my own village.

1. Don’t be scared to break the ice.

Yes, this seems obvious, but I have witnessed a bunch of moms just standing in a room not talking. Don’t be afraid to be the talker. Say hi and tell everyone your name. Tell them which child is yours. Tell them why they should be your best friend and you should go have a glass of wine after this insane parent meeting.

2. Be yourself.

Again, this seems like a guide for middle schoolers, but I think moms seem to revert back to their childhood when it comes to connecting with other parents. You can’t expect to start a good relationship based on your fake alter ego. Don’t pretend you love to throw class parties or craft cute teacher gifts if you don’t really love to do that. Maybe your talent is writing great class newsletters, picking up the store-bought cupcakes, or just being the life of the party. Here’s a time when you shouldn’t fake it. Be true to who you are. People will like the real you better than the miserable fake you.

3. Don’t be judge-y.

The other side of being yourself is don’t judge others. Don’t judge them because of the way they parent, the way they love to bake homemade vegan cupcakes, or the fact that they have to work and can never make to any of the class activities. We’re all doing the best we can. If you’re judging everyone, you have no time to really become their friend.

4. Get involved.

This is one my biggest tips to moms looking to make friends. Whether it’s at school, playgroup, church, or even just the gym — get involved with something. You could join the PTA, help out in the classroom, be the room mom (if you’re brave), help out in the teacher workroom. Being active and involved in whatever organization you choose will help you connect with the other moms in that group. It’s basically forced friendship.

5. Just ask.

I’m betting if you just ask another mom at school if they want to hang out, they’ll say yes. If you want to connect with the moms in your child’s class, host a little brunch party at your house, invite someone for coffee after drop-off, or maybe even dinner or drinks one evening. The best way to connect with a new person is to ask!

I hope some of these tips will help you with the start of a new school year!

What tips or ideas have you used to help connect with the moms at school?

This post was contributed by Lindsey McPherson, owner of The Nashville Mom. You can find more from Lindsey on Instagram.

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Another school year is right around the corner, which means parents are gearing up for the classroom. This is the time when parents start receiving supply lists from teachers, take advantage of back-to-school sales at clothing retailers, pay tuition fees, schedule physicals and immunizations, and the list goes on. It can be exhausting and frankly, I don’t want any part of it. Here’s why.

The Benefits of Homeschooling

10 Reasons to consider homeschooling

My family has chosen to join over 1.5 million homeschoolers in a non-traditional educational journey. Homeschooling allows parents to have a hands-on approach to educating their children. I’m not referring to the type of homeschooling where children sit in front of a computer screen learning independently or being taught by a virtual teacher. Homeschooling has allowed us to focus on topics that will be most helpful in life and in creating a customized education for our children. Homeschooling takes some effort, but choosing this path is already proving to be beneficial for both my children’s education and our family’s lifestyle.

I have had no dealings with a public or traditional schooling since I graduated high school in 2005, but I remember what my mother had to deal with when sending my siblings and I to school — finding before and after school childcare, packing lunches, dragging us out of the bed at six o’clock in the morning, and the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my traditional, public educational career and it helped me to earn a degree from one of the largest universities in the U.S. However, the school system has changed quite a bit and social media has provided a good look at what goes on in today’s classrooms. From large classroom sizes to Common Core math (what a nightmare) to bullying, traditional education appears to be more of a stressor than beneficial.

10 Reasons to Consider Homeschooling

10 Things traditionally-educated children and their parents experience

Waking up early
PTA meetings
School fundraisers
Carpools
Drop-off and pick-up parking wars
Teacher-parent conferences
School uniforms
Late night or last minute projects to help with
Guessing about school delays or cancellations due to weather
Astronomical enrollment fees or lotteries

OK, I know that the list above aren’t the worst things in the world to deal with, however, homeschooling allows you to experience your child’s education in a rewarding way. Homeschoolers have many, if not more, opportunities to learn about the world and practical living and to socialize. Co-ops, numerous play dates, homeschool specific days at local museums, zoos, and libraries are just some of the ways homeschooled children can experience diverse learning opportunities and environments.

Homeschooling May Be a Fit for Your Family

10 Things homeschooled children and their parents experience

Less time is spent on school work during after school hours.
Endless opportunities for field trips.
The ability to go on vacations all year long.
Parents can integrate practical life skills into lessons.
Quality time is spent with your child, allowing you to learn their personalities even more.
Being able to see your children grow and grasp an understanding of the subjects being studied.
More time to enjoy being a kid since fewer hours of school time are needed.
Sleeping in and not worry about packing lunches and backpacks.
Saving money.
Ability to teach the morals and values that are important to your family.

Homeschooling, just like parenting, has challenging moments, but is a great alternative for families who are looking to have a more hands-on approach to education. While the benefits of homeschooling are great, choosing what is best for your family and your child’s education should be the ultimate goal.

This post was contributed by Teri Watters as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Teri on her blog, MommyWifeLife.

 

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I am hands down a better mom when I’ve taken care of myself, and for me, workouts are an important part of that equation. While it’s not always easy to fit in a workout when we have little ones at home, it’s so worth it. With the school year winding down, I’ll soon have three kiddos home with me on most days. While it may not be the same workout or what I once considered the ideal workout, I will still be weaving one into my days.  DSC_0185

10 Ways to workout with kids at home
1. Early bird gets the worm

With my husband’s early schedule as a lobsterman, it’s not always an option (especially in the summer months), but whenever possible, I prefer to start my day off on the right foot with a workout. The upside to a morning workout is air is still cool, it’s peaceful, and you have the satisfaction of knowing your workout is done and don’t have to worry about the distractions of the day.

2. Make it a family affair

With the seasons of our lives, our workouts may have to look a little different. Right now, for us, that often means having kiddos in tow. Instead of getting frustrated that I can’t make it to a certain class or run longer, I’m trying to embrace these days and these workouts. My workouts often include a family bike ride (with a cart or seat for the little guys), strapping on a carrier for a hike in the woods, or a walk or jog with the stroller.

3. Invest in a quality jogging stroller

In the nicer weather, a good portion of my cardio comes from pushing a stroller around town. For me, a quality jogging stroller is key — I have a single and a double that I use, depending on who I have in tow. There are a number of good options available these days, but at the top of my list are BOB, Baby Jogger, and Thule strollers, as the easy push, smooth ride, and loaded features for Mom and Baby make a jog or walk a heck of a lot easier.

4. Find a gym with quality childcare

If your child will go willingly, and you find a gym with care you are comfortable with, and if it’s in your budget, this can be the easiest solution for getting a workout in. We are very fortunate to have a great YMCA just down the road that offers a clean and fun childcare room, and knowing that we use other services the Y provides, we can justify the expense.

5. Create a home gym

There are always those days when heading out is not in the cards, or maybe you only have a short window between pick ups or Baby’s nap time to a squeeze in a workout — carving a workout space at home can be a lifesaver. Your home “gym” can be as simple or elaborate as you chose.  My space is in my basement where I have a treadmill, free weights, and my favorite 30 minute workout DVDs.

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6. Look for parent focused classes

This works best with babies and young toddlers, but there are many opportunities out there to bring your little ones to an exercise class. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find everything from stroller boot camp to dance class with baby carriers, or a mommy and me yoga class.

7. Play with your kids

Lets face it, these days are long but the years are short — our time with our little ones is fleeting and some days the best choice is the best of both worlds. Be active while having fun with your kids. Have a dance party, play a game of soccer, walk the beach, play hide and go seek or tag, go for a swim, or make the playground your gym.

8. Ditch the car when you can

We are lucky to live in a small town where ditching our car is often possible… weather and temperament permitting of course! But when you head out this summer to the library, the store, or off to camp in the morning, leave a few minutes early and ride bikes, walk, or jog to your destination.

9. Dress the part

I often joke that my “mom uniform” on most days is workout clothes and sneakers. The upside of this is that I’m more likely to sneak in exercise throughout my day. If I’m already dressed for it, I’m way more likely to walk instead of drive, play instead of watch, or seize a short window of downtime for exercise.

10. Build support system

No one ever said this parenting gig was easy, but finding your village and working together and accepting help can make it a lot less daunting. Whether it’s finding a workout buddy to keep you motivated or getting childcare so that you can workout on your own, it’s important to have people in your corner that support your goals. I know many moms who do a babysitting swap with one and other and it’s a great way to get a break, have play dates for your kiddos with no cost of a sitter.

What’s your favorite way to get a workout in?

 

This post was contributed by Rebecca Spear as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Rebecca on her blog, Mainely Mama.

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Potty troubles? Try throwing a potty training party! #PampersEasyUps #adOh, potty training. I have such a love/hate relationship with it. I mean, no more diapers  would be awesome, but how to get started in the process can be so daunting. Thankfully, Pampers Easy Ups came to the rescue!

Pampers sent us a box full of goodies and helpful tips to host an awesome potty training party to get our family and all of our friends ready to take on this new adventure in parenting. We sorted through everything and called all of our friends over to party!

How to Throw a Pancakes and Potty Training Party #PampersEasyUps #ad

Pancakes and potty training

It isn’t a party without some snacks right? I decided to do pancake pops to keep our party guests full. They’re fun and easy, plus, “Pancakes and Potty Training” sounded like an appropriate theme for the day. If you’ve never made them, just use your normal pancake batter and add in a lollipop stick before you flip it over. I gave each kid their own cup of syrup so they could dip as they pleased. It was a big hit!

Once everyone had a full belly and was ready to party, we had the kids try on their own Pampers Easy Ups. They were loving it! The Easy Ups were just that — easy to pull on and off when it was time to go potty. Plus, the kids loved all of the fun designs!

Adorable Diaper Photobooth for a Party or Baby Shower #PampersEasyUps #ad

Take a picture to celebrate

To mark the occasion, we had an awesome “It’s Potty Time” photo booth set up for each child to take a picture in. I think it’s so fun to make a celebration out of potty training and I wanted to our party guests to know that it was a big deal and they were so big to start trying to go in the potty!

The photo booth was relatively easy to set up — I used a fringe doorway curtain, some honeycomb shapes, and then added in a few Easy Ups on a clothesline. The kids loved the balloons the most, of course.

 

Hosting a Potty Training Party for Kids and Moms #PampersEasyUps #ad

Fun for the moms, too

But, the party wasn’t just for the kids. Pampers also sent over some great goody bags and helpful tips for the moms. Some highlights to remember are:

  • Have team spirit! You are your child’s biggest fan and you are also their coach. Stay calm when faced with accidents and setbacks.
  • Be prepared with everything you may need. Consider step stools, potty seats, and training pants, like Pampers Easy Ups.
  • Celebrate every win. Don’t just talk about the accidents, celebrate when things go right, too.
  • Wait until your child is ready. Your child will show signs of readiness when she’s ready to potty train. If you wait until your child is ready, you will save everyone a lot of frustration.

How to Make Potty Training Easy with a Potty Training Chart #PampersEasyUps #adAfter a little learning and chatting about potty training methods, we went through our goody bags. These reward charts are going to be so helpful to encourage the kids to go potty and we each got a pack of Pampers Easy Ups to get us started!

 

Easy Up Designs

Pampers Easy Ups are our favorite

I really loved the Pampers Easy Ups. Not only did my daughter love the fun designs, but when she does have an accident, the Easy Ups hold 25% more than the other leading brands. This is extra wonderful when you get to the nighttime party of potty training. Not more leaks while she sleeps means a more restful night for all of us. Pampers Easy Ups make the transition from diaper to underwear smooth!

If you have several friends ready to embark on the potty training mission, have everyone over for a little party! Seeing all of her friends excited got my child extra excited about it, too.Celebrate Potty Training

What are some of your top potty training tips?

 

This was a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

This post was contributed by Lindsey McPherson as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Lindsey on her blog, The Nashville Mom.

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10 Summer Travel Must-Haves for Toddlers

With summer right around the corner, many of us are thinking about family vacations. Traveling with young kiddos — especially active toddlers — can be daunting, to say the least, but the time together and the memories made on the other end usually make it all worth it. When traveling with toddlers, you have to go into it with a good attitude, lots of snacks, and fully equipped with the right gear. Here are some of our favorites to travel with:

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Trunki
Must-Haves for Summer Travel with Toddlers- Versitile Diaper Bag
Baby Jogger City Mini
Toddler Travel Must-Haves- Beco Toddler Carrier
Toddler Travel Must-Haves- lil gadgets Headphones
Must-Haves for Summer Travel with Toddlers- Portable Toddler Bed
Must-Haves for Summer Travel with Toddlers- Mess-Free Activities
Must-Haves for Summer Travel with Toddlers- Hand Sanitizers That Smell Amazing
Must-Haves for Summer Travel with Toddlers- Wheels for the Airport
Must-Haves for Summer Travel with Toddlers- Yummy Face Wipes
1. Trunki

I think I’m late to the party, but we just discovered Trunki and my boys love them. They have lots of fun packing them for a trip, they feel independent pulling them through the airport, and have a blast going for a ride during a layover.  (Trunki, $50)

2. Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. Bag

When traveling with young kiddos, a versatile bag that can be worn as a backpack is a necessity. While this is technically a diaper bag, I consider it an everything bag, with a perfect design and easy to wipe fabric for traveling. (Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F., $180)

3. Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller and Glider Board

There are a number of great travel strollers out there, but my go-to still remains the Baby Jogger City Mini. With a truly simple one-hand fold, a lightweight design, and its ability to accommodate any of my kiddos, it has been on many trips with our family. With multiple kiddos in town, especially non-stroller riders, attaching the Baby Jogger Glider Board is a lifesaver. (Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller, $250 & Glider Board, $85)

4. Beco Baby Toddler Carrier

I never leave home without a carrier — I find babywearing both convenient and calming for my little ones, especially when we’re traveling. For toddlers, Beco makes a great carrier that’s comfortable, well designed, supportive, easy to adjust between parents, and available in some great patterns. (Beco Baby Toddler Carrier, $180)

5.  lil gadgets Connect+ Kid’s Headphones

I’m not going to lie, technology can be a lifesaver during traveling situations with my little guys. I’ve learned the hard way that headphones are a must for plugging into our own devices or to TVs on the plane. These headphones from lil gadgets are great — they’re sized for little ears, volume limiting, come in cute colors, and use Shareport, which allows you to connect multiple pairs to one device without a splitter. (lil gadgets Connect+, $20)

6. Shrunks Tuckaire Toddler Travel Bed

I love this bed and it has been on countless trips with our family. It’s perfect for kiddos who are out of a crib, but do too much rolling or wiggling for a hotel bed. It’s surprisingly lightweight and easy to tuck in a suitcase. (Shrunks Tuckaire Toddler Travel Bed, $79)

7. Melissa and Doug Water Wow

I always stock up on fun new activities for our trips, hiding them until the day we leave to keep their novelty alive! I love Water Wow pads because they allow the kids to color and feel creative without the mess of markers or the hassle of loose crayons.  (Melissa and Doug Water Wow, $5)

8. The Honest Company Hand Sanitizer Spray

Germs are pretty much unavoidable when traveling. I try not to stress out about it, but I do keep hand sanitizer handy and distribute it liberally. The Honest Company spray is my go-to for keeping germ-free when we travel. It isn’t filled with harsh chemicals and I love the scents.  (The Honest Co. Hand Sanitizer Spray 2-pack, $6)

9. Go-Go Babyz Travelmate

With a young toddler, I find bringing a car seat onto the plane the easiest and safest way to ride out the flight, and a travel cart is definitely the easiest way to get schlep the seat around airport.  (Go-Go Babyz Travelmate, $90)

10. Neat Cheeks

Messy faces are inevitable when you’re eating out and in the car during your trip! These wipes are beyond handy, as well as being a natural and easy was to keep your favorite little faces and fingers clean.  (Neat Cheeks Peach Wipes, $5)

What are your must haves when traveling with your little ones?

 

This post was contributed by Rebecca Spear as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Rebecca on her blog, Mainely Mama.

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It’s finally spring… even here in Maine! People are outside again, the grass is turning green, and there’s a overall excitement in the air. I don’t know about where you live, but in my neck of the woods, it’s also a big season for some of our favorite charitable events.  There are so many great organizations and causes looking for support and lots of ways to get your whole family involved.

One of my big goals as a parent is to raise kids who are kind and generous, who give back and pay it forward. My boys are still very young and have a lot of growing to do. In no way do I expect that they’ll fully comprehend their philanthropy, but I do hope as they grow up their awareness, compassion, and commitment to helping others will continue to develop and I hope that they’ll feel good about their actions and empathy.

How to Raise Philanthropic Kids
Photo courtesy of @DesireeEaglin

5 Ways to raise philanthropic kids
1. Lemonade stand with purpose

I guarantee that my kids aren’t the only ones that love having a lemonade stand. Next time your kids ask you to make the lemonade, encourage them to donate a portion of their profits to the local non-profit organization of their choice. Maybe even offer to match their earnings for extra incentive and to show your commitment to the cause and their efforts.

2. Peter Pan birthday party

When you host a “friends” birthday party, especially a larger one, the presents can often be too much… even when you politely request no gifts. Next time you’re planning a birthday party with your child, ask them if they would be interested in doing a Peter Pan birthday party. Instead of presents, have guests bring items for an organization you chose together, like a local pet shelter, food pantry, or children’s hospital.  We’ve done a few of these and it’s always a win-win during the party and when I see my kiddo’s pride when delivering the gifts afterwards.

3. Make it a family affair

Spring is a great season to kick off your family’s commitment to giving back. Participate as a family in a charitable event, such as a walk/run for a cause, food drive, or neighborhood cleanup. Or, volunteer together with an organization of interest like pet shelter or soup kitchen.

4. Set up a spend/save/give piggy bank

My older boys both have piggy banks and I love the way they’re learning to earn and save their money. Recently, we’ve added a new component to the process. When their piggy bank is full and we head to the bank, they need to save a third, spend a third (usually they chose the toy store!), and give a third to an organization they choose.

5. Lead by example

It’s hard to expect something from our kids that we’re not modeling ourselves and while it can be daunting sometimes, we are our kids’ role models. Our level of involvement with being charitable changes with the season of our lives, but there are so many simple, easy ways to help organizations we believe in, even in our busiest times. Be sure your kids see what you’re doing to give back… it will go a long way!

Got you thinking? How do you, or how will you, help your kiddos give back?

 

This post was contributed by Rebecca Spear as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Rebecca on her blog, Mainely Mama.

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I am certain I’m not the only one eagerly awaiting warm and sunny days. Here in New England, April showers have been quite persistent. While my kids do their fair share of playing in the rain, it’s still pretty chilly, which means that outside playtime only lasts so long. On these long rainy days of early spring, I need to be equipped for indoor fun!

10 Rainy Day Activities for Toddlers

10 Rainy day activities for toddlers
1. Make your own sensory bins

My son’s occupational therapist gave us this idea and the boys love it! Go to any big box store and buy plastic storage bins. I buy medium-sized bins that fit on the table and I also ensure they have secure lids… for obvious reasons. What you fill your bins with is up to you — we mostly do dry rice, pasta, or beans. I like to hide items inside that the boys have to dig around to find — lots of fun and great for their fine motor skills.

2. Build a fort

This is one of my boys’ favorite activities. It’s so simple and yet it gives you hours of entertainment. I pull out old sheets and blankets and help the boys hang them from the furniture safely. They’ll read books and hang out in their new hideout for hours.

3. Baking

My boys love to help in the kitchen. Baking is a great activity for us to do together, the boys feel accomplished, the house smells awesome, and well, every gloomy rainy day calls for a tasty treat!

4. Bathtub painting

What kid doesn’t like to make a mess? I say let them do it in the bathtub on a rainy day! Not only will it keep the mess contained, but you don’t have to worry about the cleanup. Looking for a fun bathtub paint recipe? Check out mine on Mainely Mama.

5. Make a home movie theater

Some days are just made to be movie days. A rainy and gloomy day in New England — or wherever you live — is a perfect excuse. My boys line up their chairs, I make popcorn, and they make “tickets” to get in to the show.

6. Make your own Playdough

After years of avoiding it, I finally started making our own Playdough. It’s actually super easy and smells a heck of a lot better than the store-bought version! Made with simple ingredients found in my pantry, it’s a great rainy day project. I also highly recommend experimenting with different scents using spices or essential oils, like this Pumpkin Spice Playdough recipe.

7. Play dress up and do a photo shoot

This can be really fun… if your kids are like mine and like to be silly and have their picture taken. Hang a white sheet on a wall in your house (preferably one that gets good natural light), get out your dress up clothes and props, and have a blast in your own photo booth. Take lots of pictures of your little ones having a fun, and if you have a timer on your camera, be sure to get in some of the pictures (years from now you’ll be glad you did).

8. Build an obstacle course

We are lucky enough to have a great basement for this, but use whatever space you have for this fun way to get some extra rainy day energy out of your toddlers. You can use everything from couch cushions to laundry baskets to exercise balls to mini trampolines. I love the ideas in this obstacle course post from education.com.

9. Create a time capsule

The saying goes, “The days are long, but the years are short,” and it’s so true. These crazy rainy days can send my head spinning, but soon enough they’ll be a fleeting memory. Create a time capsule on your next rainy day at home — include a list of everyone’s current favorites (foods, words, toys, etc) and have each kiddo put in something special.

10. Do a scavenger hunt around the house

This doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated, but while the kiddos are napping (if you’re lucky enough to have nappers) or while they’re eating lunch, put together a scavenger hunt. Perhaps it’s a list of things they need to find — something blue, something furry, something old, something that makes noise — or if they’re a little older, write clues leading them to around the house and eventually to a small prize, snack, or new activity.

What’s your go-to rainy day activity?

 

This post was contributed by Rebecca Spear as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Rebecca on her blog, Mainely Mama.

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Car seat shopping can send your head spinning these days. There are so many great options out there and the innovation and technology is constantly improving. There is no one perfect seat, as every family’s needs are different, but here are some things to keep in mind when looking for a new seat: age of kids, number of kids, vehicles you own, travel plans, how many seats you have (i.e. are you transferring between cars often), and, of course, your budget.

We welcomed our third son 3-months ago and with the almost six year age gap between our oldest and youngest, we needed to update our car seats. We recently had the opportunity to try the new Grow and Go Air 3-in-1 Car Seat from Safety 1st and have had a great experience with it.  Each of my boys have had turns riding in it — they range in age from 3-months-old to 6-years-old — and each of them has been quite comfortable in the seat. Here’s some of the reasons we’re loving it and will be holding on to it for a while:

 Meet the New Safety 1st Grow and Go Air 3-in-1 Car Seat
Versatility and longevity

We are a family of five with three different vehicles, so a seat that can accommodate each of our kiddos and that can be easily moved back-and-forth between vehicles is a big win in my book. The Grow and Go Air 3-in-1 is designed to grow with your child from 5-100 pounds to 100 lbs — 5-40 pounds for rear-facing and 22-65 pounds for forward-facing,  with use as a belt-positioning booster for kids 40-100 pounds.

Car seats that will fit your kids from birth through kindergarten
Safety

As parents, we all want to feel confident in the safety features of our car seats. The Grow and Go Air exceeds federal safety standards, offering superior safety with Air Protect®, an advanced cushion system that provides extra protection, a QuickFit™ harness that allows you to easily get a good fit for your kiddo, and a three-position recline makes it easy to get a fit in your car. Always remember that proper installation is a key factor in the safety of any seat.  I strongly recommend having a certified CPST check your installation.

Rear-facing capability

I’m a big stickler when it comes to car seat safety and keeping my little ones rear-facing until at least 2-years-old is important to me. The Grow and Go Air makes that easy. The seat can be used in the rear-facing position from 5-40 pounds, with three recline positions, and three comfortable grow-with-Baby pillows to keep the kids comfortable as they grow.

Rear Facing in the New Safety 1st Grow and Go Air
Ease of use

We’ve really been putting this seat to the test over the past few weeks. I’ve been moving it frequently between vehicles and adjusting it for each of my boys, so when I say this seat is a breeze to install and adjust, I mean it. Some features that make it especially user-friendly include the QuickFit™ Harness, which makes it super easy to adjust both the harness and headrest in one simple step (love that), the seat is lightweight and easy to maneuver (even for me), and cleaning this seat is so simple (not matter how many times I say my kids will never eat in the car, that rule is quickly thrown out the window), so having machine washable seat pads is key. The pillows for Baby are also reversible, which is genius and and so helpful to keep going when dealing with messes and blowouts on the road.

Comfort

Honestly, this seat looks so comfortable — it’s nicely padded and the fabric is extremely soft. My older boys have actually been arguing over who gets to ride in it… their favorite features are the texture of the fabric and the two cup-holders. It’s amazing to me that each of my boys are happy riding in this seat. My 3-month-old was nice and cozy, and supported by the Grow-with-Baby pillows.

Car Seats to Fit Older Kids
Aesthetics

While the look of a seat isn’t critical, a nice looking seat is definitely a plus considering it will be in your car day in and day out. The Grow and Go Air 3=in-1 has a sleek appearance and comes in a number of different attractive color combos. Our seat is the Evening Tide design, and the aqua and gray is really sharp.

The Safety 1st Grow and Go Air 3-in-1 Car Seat retails for $199 and can be found online and at many major retailers.

What do you look for when shopping for a car seat?

 

This post was contributed by Rebecca Spear as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Rebecca on her blog, Mainely Mama.

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