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Outside The Box Questions For A Babysitter

Hiring a babysitter can seem like a daunting task, so we’re here to help! Of course its important to connect with your potential sitter about logistics like availability, pay rate, and references. But what do you ask when you want to go a bit deeper? Check out our Outside The Box Questions For A Babysitter!

“What was your favorite childhood toy?” This question is a lot more exciting to answer than the generic, “What do you like to do with kids?” It takes the pressure off the sitter to come up with the “right,” educational answer and allows her to speak from the heart. The type of toy or play she reminisces about is also what she will most easily engage your child with today.

“Who was your favorite babysitter or teacher growing up and why?” This question tells you a lot about your sitter’s past and what traits she values in a caregiver. You may even ask if she’s had any negative experiences with sitters or teachers. Hearing both sides, get a full vision of the type of babysitter she aspires to be.

“Do you have young kids in your family?” This is a great way to find out more about her personal involvement with family care. Watching a proud auntie’s eyes light up as she talks about her toddler nephew is a great way to get to know her. And it may even lead into a conversation about which ages she finds the most exciting or challenging to care for.

“What are your favorite things to do on your days off?” This is a more open ended question than the usual, “What would you do with my kids on a long Saturday afternoon?” You will learn a lot about what activities she enjoys, who she prefers to spend her time with, and what types of places she feels the most at home in.

“What are some things a family can do to make a babysitter’s job easier?” Encourage her to be honest! Does she feel overwhelmed by food prep? Does she hate getting called at the last minute for work? Does she feel uncomfortable disciplining a child without the parents there? This is also a great time to ask about her past experiences with families. The good, the bad, and everything in between. Learn more about her up front and it will smoother sailing throughout your babysitting adventures!

(originally posted on Toddler Blog)

A More Challenging Choo Choo!

When we can’t pull our toddlers away from their favorite toy, we can try changing up how they use it! One toy can always be used in a multitude of ways to make it more developmentally stimulating.

Today we’re exploring an old favorite, the Toy Train Track, to make A More Challenging Choo Choo!

– Play with color! Connect all of the red trains, then all the green, etc.

– Make a pattern! What if you linked a green then a red then a green — What color would come next? Older toddlers will benefit a lot from starting to build and recognize patterns!

– Never stop counting! Can we connect just two trains? How about three? Four? Have your little count as you go.

– Practice listening skills! Call out Red, Green, or Yellow Light and have your little adjust their trains’ speed accordingly.

– Play with speed! Can your tot practice restraint and drive her train in slow motion? Then try filling up the gas tank and taking a super speedy loop around the track!

– Change direction! Practice going backwards when someone calls out Reverse!

– Go off railing! Why not make your own track together on a large piece of butcher paper? Winding roads and a great view make for one exciting trip!

– Time for a wash! Take your favorite toy outside with a bucket of water and washcloth. Watch your little’s face light up as you get your trains all spick and span!

(originally posted on Toddler Blog)

Messy Mondays!

Can we even put the words “toddler” and “manners” in the same sentence without making you burst into a fit of giggles?

Wiggle worms have a hard enough time sitting still, never mind remembering to use their forks. So sometimes the most effective way to teach a toddler table manners is to take a day off! Try your hand at it this “Messy Monday!”

  • Spread your picnic blanket on the kitchen floor and get ready to have some foodie fun! Playing on the floor is an important step since it shows toddlers the physical difference between how we act at the table versus when we are playing down low.
  • Eat everything with your hands, no utensils allowed. Or better yet, try your hands behind your back and eat just with your mouth! Foods like pudding and pasta noodles work best when trying to slurp up your super silly supper!
  • For an added twist, serve the unexpected! Why not have pancakes for dinner? Or spaghetti for breakfast? No rules apply when you are making the most of your family’s Messy Monday!

Getting Toddlers To Try New Foods!

Getting toddlers to try new foods is a superhero task! But we are here to help you get your tot tasting a variety of nibbles in no time flat. Read on for our best, tasty tips!

  • Try and try again. Toddlers take quite a few times to get used to a new texture or taste. Try every day for two weeks straight and eventually, an odd food will start to become familiar and less intimidating to them.
  • Display it in a new way! Chunks of apple may not be a hit, but some littles will love apple slices, or a peeled apple whole, or even applesauce. And never underestimate the power of a funny shaped cookie cutter to make foods seem more enticing!
  • Talk it up. Before trying a raw carrot stick, build up the anticipation. i.e.: What color is that cute carrot? Is it hard or soft? I think that baby carrot is going to make a crunch sound when you bite into it! Do you?
  • Offer more than one newbie at a time. Play with offering two new foods on a dish in the same meal. As long as you also offer a side you know he loves, having two new options is great because you don’t know which newbie he will be drawn to.
  • Enlist a sous chef. Getting kiddos involved in picking and prepping food will definitely lead them to wanting to try the new dish they’ve helped create!
  • Sauce it up. Broccoli may become appealing when dipped in a favorite hummus or mixed in to the old standby, mac and cheese. A favorite sauce can make all the difference when first introducing something new.
  • Pair similar foods together. If your little nugget loves cauliflower, mix in a bit of broccoli with it. Pair nectarines with fuzzy peaches. Similar textures and flavors make new foods less scary.
  • Be an example. Kids want what we eat! So offer your tot a taste off your plate and the odds are stacked in your favor that she’ll want to try it too!
  • Take turns feeding one another. It may sound silly, but practice being the feeder and the one being fed. Kids usually get such a kick out of this that they’re willing to try a food out of their comfort zone to keep the game going!
  • Remember what you can control and what you can’t. You can choose what foods are offered to your little. But you can’t really control how much he eats. Pick your battles knowing that this too is temporary.
  • Be patient! Toddlers asserting their opinion and will is a crucial part of development. And though it may make meal time a bit tricky right now, that same independence and strong opinion will be to their advantage later in life!

(originally posted on Toddler Blog)

Top Tips For Toddler Transitions

Toddlers and Transitions are words that do NOT flow together. Any parent or teacher can tell you that. But learning how to move from one thing to the next without throwing a tantrum is a life skill all of us (from tots on up) need to learn! Here are our top tips for helping your toddler learn to transition!

1. Recognize and acknowledge their feelings. “I can see you’re sad because you don’t want Mommy to leave.” Just hearing their inner feelings said aloud is sometimes enough to calm a child down. Many times most of their frustration is caused by feeling unheard or misunderstood.

2. Get down to their eye level and speak calmly. Okay, we admit this is easier said than done with a screaming kiddo. But they will feed off of your energy. Try your best to keep perspective, even when they still have none, and you’ll be leading the way to a more communicative future together.

3. Give your little one a warning. Imagine you were at a party having a grand old time when someone unexpectedly told you, “Time to put your shoes on and go!” Anyone would have a hard time with that. We all need a warning to know what is coming next.

4. Offer two choices. “Would you like to hop or get a piggy back ride to the car?” Two choices offer toddlers independence while still giving you the desired outcome you need to keep your day moving forward.

5. Create some transition rituals. The best teachers do this beautifully! Singing a favorite Clean Up Song helps saying goodbye to the toy trains a little bit easier. Picking a flower on the way home from the park makes leaving a little less terrible. When kiddos know what to expect, they can relax into the next activity, and so can you!

(originally posted on Toddler Blog)

What To Do When Expecting Baby #2!

What if just when you think you’ve got this Toddler thing figured out, a new baby is on the way?! We’re here to help ease the transition for you and your tot with “WHAT TO DO WHEN EXPECTING BABY #2!”

1.  Don’t expect your toddler to get too excited right away. Even if Jacob has a little sister, your little guy may not fully understand what’s to come over the next 9 months. With that said, things will become a lot more real when he can feel a big belly kick or hold his new sibling.

2. Reminisce about when your toddler was also a baby! How small were her feet and how cute was her toothless grin? Toddlers love to be the center of attention, so show off their old baby pictures and tell stories of how tiny they were once too!

3. Set realistic expectations. Babies cry A LOT. They wake us up in the middle of the night and use a ton of diapers. Have your toddler take care of a baby doll along side you, just make sure he knows the real thing will be a lot louder!

4. Give your little helper a specific job! Can they rub the baby’s lotion onto his arms? Or choose the baby’s pajamas? Your toddler will feel a special sense of pride as a big sibling if they have a say in the baby’s life.

5. Allow your toddler a few toys that are private and off limits to the new bundle. This will help keep her identity in tact and help her to feel like she too has privileges as the bigger kid.

Finally, quality alone time and special treats never hurt either. But most important is just remembering that your toddler is still a baby too! And so they need as much attention and affection as your newest addition. Enjoy cuddling two with both arms!

(originally posted on Toddler Blog)

Alternatives to Time-Outs!

Whether you’re a fan of the ol’ Time Out or not, every parent needs a variety of discipline tactics in their arsenal to help keep the family peace! Here are a few of our favorite Alternatives To Time-Outs!

1. Try a Time-In! Sometimes when a kiddos is super tired, hungry, or just plain overwhelmed – They’re acting out because their needs are not being met. Why not take a few moments alone with your child to help them adjust? Maybe a snuggle, a snack, or a calm chat is all they need to cool down. Your focused, undivided attention is often a cure-all.

2. Aim to distract! Littles may continually act out even after you’ve told them no what feels like a million times. When they can’t resist the temptation and your patience is wearing thin, try completely changing the situation. Bring out a new item to explore, get up and change locations, do a silly tap dance if you must. Humor goes a long way in parenting! Anything to distract them and move on to a new adventure together.

3. Call a Do-Over! Instead of just jumping to a Time-Out, take a crack at empowering your child to make a wiser decision on their own. Even as an adult I often wish for a chance at a Do-Over. If your kiddo makes a better decision this second time around, make sure to celebrate it! Letting go of the previous mistake and keeping positive will make everyone’s lives a lot easier!

(originally posted on Toddler Blog)

What To Do In A Long, Long Queue

What’s a mama to do when stuck in a long, long queue? Even as a grown up, even without a toddler in my arms, I admit I hate waiting in line. But waiting is a part of life and learning patience & delayed gratification is one of the most valuable lessons we can give our kids. Here are our best tips for keeping your tot happy while waiting in line!

  1. Play a game of Eye Spy! This is a mini scavenger hunt for the eyes. See if your little one can find all of the red things in the room. How about all the number 2s on a sign?
  2. Make silly faces together. You may not have time for much makeup, but you can put that compact mirror to good use.  Your little will learn muscle control and how to recognize emotional cues.
  3. Clap out a rhythm. If you tap twice quickly, can your kiddo repeat that beat? Try different sounds and speeds.
  4. Play a mini game of Follow The Leader. Encourage your tot to watch closely then repeat a movement the very best they can. Vary speed and size to keep it interesting!
  5. Guess the hand! Put a coin in one hand behind your back, then bring them back to have your little guess which hand the coin is in. Take turns hiding.
  6. Name your faves. Older toddlers will love to chat and bond with you over all their favorite things. What’s your fave color, number, animal, song, or snack to eat?
  7. Enlist the help of a toy friend. An old teddy bear becomes a perfect puppet when stuck in line. Give him a funny voice and let him tell your kiddo a short story!
  8. Pack a prop. A deck of cards or a few pipe cleaners can keep tiny hands busy while you wait. Best of all, they require little space and make no mess.
  9. Blow bubbles outside. Epic lines at theme parks are a breeze with these! Have your littles pop as many of them as they can!
  10. Get tech savvy with your voice recorder app! Kids will be mesmerized by hearing themselves in the play back. And don’t forget, you’ll make your parents day by sending them the undeniably cute audio clips afterwards!

(originally posted on Toddler Blog)

Preschool Prepped!

Getting ready for the start of preschool is one of the most exciting (and challenging!) times in a toddler’s life. Moms often ask us to share how to best prep their little one for this new chapter. So here are our top tips on how to get your kiddo PRESCHOOL PREPPED!

1. Visit beforehand. Plan a mini tour with your little, taking note of all the fun details the space has to offer. The red door, the caterpillar picture hanging on the wall, the green leggo table, etc etc.

2. Snap photos to bring home with you! Having the visual reminders of all these things will become a huge source of comfort for your soon-to-be preschooler! It’s especially helpful if you get a great snapshot of your soon-to-be teacher too.

3. Tell the school story! For example: “When we go back to school on Monday, we will push open the big red door, say Good Morning to the caterpillar picture, and then you can play on the green leggo table! What will you build?” Play this story out over and over again until your kiddo can tell it themselves.

4. Plan a post-preschool date. To assure kids you will be back, talk about what you will do after you pick them up. Will you listen to a special song in the car or get an after school snack together?

5. Listen. Sometimes a little one’s fears are kept inside because no one thought to ask them.  Although it’s tempting to quickly reassure your child and move on, instead let your child know that their worries have been heard.  Then you can address any fears before moving forward with this milestone together!

(originally posted on Toddler Blog)

Dining Out With Your Little!

Having a toddler in tow doesn’t mean your social life has to end! Here are some quick tips for surviving DINING OUT WITH YOUR LITTLE!

  • Get to know the most kid-friendly restaurants in your area. Local websites like  tastertotsla.com here in SoCal have helped us. Yelp can help too. Though nothing is as valuable as a recommendation from another mom!
  • Feed your babe before you leave the house. This way you can focus on your own food when the time is right. And if she wants to taste new things at the restaurant, great. If not, she’ll still be content with a full belly.
  • Arrive early. It’s a smart way to beat the dinner rush! And it also gives you time to get situated and get acquainted with your server. Friendliness goes a long way!
  • Keep your visit short, but your diaper bag full. Save those tasting menus for another trip, but be prepared with extra diapers and a change of clothes just in case.
  • Bring some simple distractions like a favorite book, stamps, or removable stickers. Just make sure they are easy to clean up and quiet activities. Work those kiddo’s fine motor skills while you wait for your food!
  • Have realistic expectations. Kids are not mini adults. And while we can challenge them, we have to adjust our expectations accordingly. Pick your battles and praise all appropriate behavior.
  • Be prepared to exit quickly. Worse case scenario, if your little has a meltdown, be seated by the door for a quick escape route so that there is minimal disturbance to the other customers.