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    Packing for the Beach with Toddlers

    Packing for the beach with toddlers

    *This post contains affiliate links to keep free content flowing. 

    Raise your hand if you LOVE going to the beach and having a blast. My hand is raised high. There is no place I would rather be in this world than sitting in the sand or running in the waves but that has changed since having kids. I still love spending hours at the beach but I have learned that a fabulous time spent running in the sand can quickly take a turn for the worse if you haven't packed correctly. I have been THAT crying mom dragging her two screaming toddlers through the sand to get to the car as quickly as possible. If you have been that parent before than you know how important it is to pack all the essentials and to have them on hand to create the happiest beach experience possible. 

    Beach Packing List 

    1. SUNSCREEN

    If we forget sunscreen we don’t go. It is hands down the number one thing you need to spend a few hours in the sun even if it is overcast. Our favorites so far are California Baby and ThinkBaby (not the sport one). I love sprays for my toddler since he can only sit still for literally a couple seconds! 

    2. HATS & SUNG:ASSES

    Yes hats to protect those tiny little eyes and if your kids are anything like mine they rip their sunglasses off first chance. I love a good trucker hat. Born to Love has some adorable ones! I play makes some really great baby sun hats that tie as well. My kids are very sneaky and can find ways to get the buckle undone but they have yet to figure out a good tie. My kids won’t keep sunglasses on no matter how hard I try but I do love Coolsome rubber flexible glasses with the strap. 

    3. SUN UMBRELLA OR TENT

    Some kind of easy pop up shelter from the sun. We love our classic sun umbrella by Sport - Brella because it’s light and easy to carry. It also has little flaps on the sides. There are millions of fancy tents, but anything that blocks a little sun is perfect!

    4. EXTRA CLOTHES & DIAPERS

    Pack an extra outfit, rash guard (to keep your little one out of the sun), swim diapers! We like  iPlay reusable swim diapers.  At the end of our day we throw out wet clothes into a wet clothes bag and always have extra dry ones to throw on. 

    5. BEACH TOYS

    We try to keep this to a minimum. My son carries his own little bag and I let him fill it with a few cars, small shovels and maybe a small bucket. He has the Melissa and Doug Sunny Patch bag. I like this one because it has mesh in the bottom to shake out the sand before we get in the car. It doesn't take much to be entertained! I always throw in a few extra throw away cups or forks for digging.

    RELATED POST BEST OUTDOOR TOYS

    6. BLANKET & TOWELS

    I keep it super simple and use our Las Bayadas beach blanket. I received it as a gift and it has been the best! It’s light and easy to shake off. You can find it at Nordstrom’s or Amazon. There are a lot of different blankets out there. If I was to invest in a new one, I think I would try out the sand free blanket by LAGHCAT or possibly the waterproof/sand resistance blanket by Campfy. This one is neat because it comes with stakes and a zippered pouch.. I don’t bring towels! We air dry at the beach, unless it’s cold and in that case I’ll throw in an extra towel!

    7. WATER & SNACKS

    Okay this is a big one! You don’t want to make it all the way to the beach and have to pack everything up to go get snacks. We always over pack on food and water. I try to stay away from plastic bags but they are a must for the beach. Everything in ziplock bags to keep it from getting sandy before you have a chance to eat it. Reuse it and put your wet suits in when all finished. Just don’t forget to carry these bags out with you and try to reuse them!

    8. CLEAN UP 

    Last but not least BABY POWDER! Finally a chance to use up all those powders you got at the baby shower. If you’re like us, you got a lot and you didn’t use any on their bums. This is a trick that has literally saved me when leaving the beach. Simply sprinkle it on where the sand is stuck - toes, belly, butt and wipe away. No more sand in the car for the ride home. 🙂

    ** BONUS ITEM**

    We try so hard not to pack anything valuable when heading to the beach. There is nothing worse then having to stay within running distance of all your things. Your focus should be on having fun and running around! I just discovered these amazing beach capsules! You can hide your things in them and put them under your blanket. Better yet they now have these amazing hair brushes and sunscreens with secret compartments!!

    As a mom of a baby and a toddler, I know how hard it is to get out that door and onto new adventures. I keep our beach bag packed and ready to go so we don’t waste time searching for missing beach hats or blankets. Having these things ready to go will not only make your life easier but will set you up for a much more enjoyable time at the beach! Don’t forget the reason you are there, to relax, enjoy the sun and to laugh with your littles!

    Check out my beach list below and let me know in the comments what your number one beach essential is! 

    Packing for the beach checklist
    Favorites, Parenting

    Best Summer Outdoor Toys

    This post contains affiliate links to keep free content flowing. 

    Summer is right around the corner and we have been dusting off all our favorite outdoor toys. It feels like the perfect time to get out the slides and buckets. Some of last years toys have retired and we now have room for a few new toddler things.  We replaced our baby blow up pool with a nifty new exciting one that the kids are sure to enjoy for the next few years!  Check out our favorite summer toys below.

    Toddler in a spider web swing
    Toddler in spider web swing

    Summer isn't complete without some water fun! A water table is the perfect backyard toy that can allow for a little bit of water play when it's still not warm enough. Our favorite part about a water table is that it can easily go from a water table to an indoor toy. Take it indoors and fill it with plastic pit balls. or race cars around it! 

    This was a toy that also started indoors! It was too cold when it arrived so we blew it up in the living room and let the kids fill it with pillows, stuffed animals and blankets.  When it got warm enough we dragged it out and the kids had a blast. The best part was the spout at the top that sprays out water. It's big enough for two kids and a couple friends! 

    Our Little Tikes Trampoline has provided the kids with hours of fun! We create numerous obstacle courses using it and it's the perfect pre bed activity. There are so many different ones but this one here is our favorite because it has a handle and is small enough that we know they are safe.

    Our sons favorite upgrade this year was to our Spider Web swing. It's a great toy for the whole family. I often lay on it when the kids drive me crazy. This swing is one of my top three favorite toys ever. 

    This one is on our list of dreamy backyard toys. I know that my kids would love this little house and spend hours in it. But it is also a BIG gift so we are saving it for their joint Birthday gift in August! 

    This was hands down one of our favorite gifts. Austin and Charlotte love this blow up jump house. It's easy enough to put away and big enough for Birthday parties.

    We've been through our fair share of bikes! First was a little roller to take around the house then the balance bike and finally a bike with training wheels. But one of our favorites has been this little bike here. We all love to scoot around on the Plasma car and it is great for indoors or outdoors. 

    Any car by Little Tikes has been a hit in our house. We love our Cozy SUV but Austin has had his eye out for a Cozy Truck. 

    We love gardening, we aren't that good at it but we try and our kids love to join in! Last summer we planted tomatoes and our kids loved digging holes. Along with the tools we have had a lot of fun with this version of the kids wheelbarrow.  

    With all the time we spend out doors- a table and umbrella is a must. We eat all meals outside in the summer and this little table is the perfect size. The umbrella provides them with some much needed shade. 

    What is your favorite outdoor toy for toddlers? Share in the comments below! 

    the best outdoor toys for busy toddlers
    Favorites, Parenting

    The Minimalist Mom: Newborn Favorites

    bob stroller, graco carrier, carseat, booster, high chair, top 10 baby essentials

    With three years behind us and two toddlers growing more and more each day, I feel like my go-to newborn favorites list is finally complete. 

    *This post contains affiliate links to keep free content flowing.

    When we had  Austin, I started with one of everything. 3 different night lights - I NEED THEM, 100 onesies (Size newborn) - I NEED THOSE TOO, 500 bottles - YUP NEED THOSE TOO. I was literally drowning in baby swag every place I looked in our house. 

    A few weeks after Austin arrived I realized how over-stocked, overwhelmed and how overly tired I was. I never knew the whirlwind of joy, fear and anxiety that I would experience when I brought him home for the very first time. It was then that I realized the countless trips that I made to the market, to Target (of course) and all the online shopping I did on Amazon  could have waited until we all got settled in. 

    When Charlotte came along, we did things differently. We loved all our gifts from our baby shower, but were they all things that we could not live without? Probably not. We could have survived with diapers, some onesies and a  few blankets

    So here is my go-to list on baby items and products that I found we used the most. They are our absolute newborn favorites, things we love so much that we couldn't live without. Do you need it all? Absolutely not. But will it make the ease of bringing a little one into the world a lot easier? YES! 

    Sleep

    Both my kids slept with me for at least 8 months. I thought they would go straight into the crib like every other baby/toddler that I hear about, but that wasn’t the case with us. The first time around I had a fancy bassinet and it took up too much room.  With my second, I opted to use a co-sleeper and loved every minute of it. It was cozy for the both of us and I still felt like baby was a safe distance away from me.  She couldn’t roll off the bed and she had her own area to sleep. My newborn favorite co-sleeper can be found here

    Rocker

    Considering that your baby will sleep the majority of his/her first few weeks, a portable rocker is a must. We moved ours all around the house depending on which room we were in. Even if she wasn’t sleeping I laid her in there for entertainment and for a much needed break from time to time. We also had a big rocker that took up much more space and had all sorts of bells and whistles on it. Our little one loved it. It you have the space I would say consider this. If you have pets or other kids, it is really nice to have them up off the ground as well. 

    Sound Machine

    Hands down favorite purchase ever and top of our newborn favorites list was our Dohm Sleep Machine.  I wrote a complete review on this product that you can read here. This is one of my favorite things ever! It is the best sleep machine around and so worth the money. My husband uses it when he works nights and has to sleep during the day. It utilizes two small fans to make a white noise sound that can be adjusted to a variety of different levels. We previously had a sleep sheep that we liked it  but the batteries always died at the worst times. You can find the Dohm here

    Monitor

    This one you can wait on, but it would be a great item to put on your registry, which you can create using this link Create an Amazon Baby Registry. Your baby will be by your side pretty much all the time during the first few months. It’s really nice to have this if you have a big house or will have your baby sleeping in their own room right away. We love our Motorola monitor. It has a nice big screen and allows us to have cameras in both of our kids’ rooms. 

    Diapers

    This is obvious, but there are so many different ones out there. We have our tried and true favorites. For diapers, we like Pampers when they are under 3 months (due to the wetness line that appears via a blue line on the front) and then Honest or Seventh Generation as they get older. As for wipes, our go-to brand was Seventh Generation. Babyganics and WaterWipes were a close second and third. 

    The two creams that I swear by Honest Balm and Butt PasteHonest Balm is a must. I used it primarily on their bottoms and faces, but found that it worked wonders for their cuts and bumps that they get along the way. For bad diaper rashes (fortunately we only experienced a few) I stick to Butt Paste. It does a good job of creating a nice thick layer between their skin and diaper, and it smells so good. 

    Blankets

    This could be number one on this list. There is nothing better than a big, soft muslim blanket. The uses are truly endless. I have used these to bundle baby, as a nursing cover, as a temporary baby carrier and as a diaper for baby (boy that day was a disaster). Invest in 4 - 6 quality muslim blankets and wash them a few times before using. They get softer with each wash. Our favorites can be found here

    Carrier

    Let’s talk baby carriers. I have so many of these! I feel as though some are best for different ages. For under 6 months, I loved my Solly Wrap and Boba. Figuring them out was a little tricky at first but practice made perfect! As baby got bigger stuffing them in a wrap became more difficult for me. I love my Ergo carrier and it is something I still use on a daily basis. We got the sports carrier because it was  super easy to keep clean. I can wear my baby or my toddler on my front or back and it’s super quick to snap on. 

    Stroller

    Living on a hill I have learned how the Bob separates itself from the pack of other strollers. With one baby we had a single Bob and an umbrella stroller. We loved both.  Second kid came along and we got a wonderful City Select stroller for our shower. We used it a lot when we were out and about, but quickly learned how impossible it was to push up the hill.  Then we got a hand me down double Bob. The City Select is super fast to put together and is narrow enough to go shopping with, but it doesn't turn well and isn’t easy to push for long distances. The double Bob glides along so effortlessly and is also super comfy for baby. The cons of the double Bob are its size and bulkiness.

    BONUS: Nose Frieda & Windi

    These are my favorite gifts to get people for baby showers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “You want me to suck boogers out of their nose?!” Trust me, you will be thanking me when your baby is full of boogers  and can’t breathe at night or has gas and can’t sleep! You can find a cute little set of their products here

    What are you favorite baby essentials for the first few months? Let me know in the comments what your must haves for toddlers are as we have officially entered toddler world with a 1 & 3 year old.

    newborn must haves, newborn favorites, newborn tips, newborn bed, newborn clothes, newborn care, stroller, baby blankets, sound machine, baby monitor, baby favorites, baby essentials, baby hospital must haves, favorite baby products, ergo, baby carrier, bob stroller, graco carrier, carseat, booster, high chair, top 10 baby essentials
    Favorites, Parenting

    How to Get Your Kids to Sleep

    Sleep and kids.

    Do these two combos ever mix? Am I the only person in the world that struggles with their kids sleeping? What is wrong with my crazy kids?

    These are the thoughts that go through my head every night when I put my kids to sleep. Austin was never a good sleeper and once he got into a good routine Charlotte showed up and threw a wrench into our schedule. We were headed nowhere fast and I had to do something to change it fast.

    Our routine prior to purchasing a Dohm, was lay in Austin’s bed as I nursed charlotte to sleep then roll her off into bed with him. It took anywhere from 1 - 2 hours. Then I would sneak out only to hear Charlotte wake once more and nurse her down again.

    sleeping baby

    Enter the Dohm.

    Talk about Heaven on Earth. This thing rocked our world, but in a good way. The first night it came in the mail I plugged it in and prepared myself for battle. I explained to Austin that being 3, he needed to be a big boy and fall asleep on his own. I stood in the hallway and watched as it wooed him into a deep sleep. He asked me to come in and kiss him once. That was it! 

    Next was Charlotte who had NEVER slept in her crib. I nursed her, rocked her and rolled her in her crib. Out cold. I snuck out of the room and waited for chaos to erupt…1 hour, 2 hour, 3 hour nothing. Eventually I got bored and went to bed. Charlotte woke up once to eat and went right back to sleep in her crib, Austin didn't wake till the next morning around 8 am. 

    RELATED POST: NEWBORN FAVORITES

    When I say these things are miracles I am not lying. The price of the Dohm made me hesitant to purchase them at first, but now knowing how good they work, I think about all the sleepless nights they could have saved us from! My husband works crazy hours, and is forced to sleep during the day.  He uses it to drown out all the noise the kids make when he is trying to sleep. Check out my link here to find where you can purchase your own Dohm for baby. 

    Dohm Sleep Machine

    This is not a paid post and trust me I know we (My husband & I) created this monster by snuggling and smothering our kids to death at bedtime.  I am an affiliate  and I do make a small percentage from links, enough for a cheap bottle of wine to chug when my kids go to sleep but not enough to send them to college.  All that aside, I simply LOVE this product and felt as though I needed to share it with the rest of the world and when your kids start sleeping longer you will have a little more time for yourself. Check out my post on Self Love here

    Favorites, Parenting

    Mom Crush Monday: My Mom

    In honor of Mother's Day, I wanted to do my Mom Crush Monday on someone who inspires me on a daily basis and has been there for me since Day 1 (Literally). A woman who has managed to do it all, day in and day out. She has been a supportive and loving mom, and is someone that amazes me with her ability to balance her marriage, her family and her goals with ease.  Honestly it was an easy pick for me this week. Every day as I venture into another day of being a mom, I ask myself how can I be more like my mom.  How can I be an involved, positive role model to my kids, while being calm and collected amongst all the chaos that comes with the responsibility of raising kids. The thing that I love most about my mom is she was always present no matter what she's doing. She has grown from my mom into one of my best friends. 

    The reality of her commitment hit me when I had my own kids. I would give my life for these kids. There is nothing in this world I wouldn’t do for them. Seeing them laugh brightens my day, seeing them cry crushes my world and watching them grow makes me wonder what the future holds for them. I can never thank my mom enough for all she has done for me.  She is my idol and my role model. She is everything I strive to be each and every day - brave, compassionate and of all things kind.

    I started by asking Austin what his favorite thing about Mima was and he said “playing with Mama and making handprints.” If that doesn’t speak volumes about her involvement in my life I’m not sure what does! She spends hours upon hours sitting on the floor with my kids tracing their little hands and laughing with them. She's exceeded every expectation I've ever had for my kid's grandparents. She makes me want to have more children just so I can see them laugh with her. 

    How did you and Dad meet?

    We first met when I was cheering for Castle Rock elementary school's boys basketball team. I felt so tall and uncoordinated compared to the rest of the cheerleaders. I remember one of my friends asking if I knew one of the basketball players named Andy from the school we were playing. I didn't and asked where he was sitting. Boy was I beet red when I looked over and saw such a cute boy staring back at me and watching me cheer. Talk about feeling self conscious! Well he finally got brave enough to ask me out in high school and the rest is history!

    You have managed to keep a strong marriage for close to 35 years! How do you do it and what is your secret?

    I think one of the biggest things is we really enjoy each other's company and have fun together! Sure we can annoy each other or argue over the absolute silliest things, but we are both quick to forgive and move on. We feel very blessed to have such a close knit family and now with the grand babies we are loving every moment with all the crazy fun times that are coming our way! It just seems to get better and better and we can't get enough of it!

    Looking back what makes you laugh the most about being a parent?

    Having 3 babies in 4 years makes you wonder if there was ever a sane moment in our household, but really it worked out pretty well because you guys had so much fun playing together! We had built in family entertainment! You three had us constantly giggling at your hilarious outfits you created as part of make believe. You, your sister and brother came up with the best adventures when you played in the backyard or when we went out for a walk or hike. We could always count on your dad's jokes and sense of humor when things got too serious and we all needed a laugh. It was a crazy fun time!

    Your best piece of parenting advice?

    The best days we had were when we kept a sense of humor with the three of you and didn't get bogged down with perfection or taking ourselves too seriously! We loved being parents more than anything but we were a better mom and dad when we had time just for ourselves either as a planned date night together or a few day getaway. We were very fortunate to have lots of family and friends that made this possible for us. We would get so excited to have time for just the two of us and planning our adventures away and then what did we do? We would start missing the three of you like crazy and talk about you the entire time we were gone! It was hilarious!

    What inspires you and how do you manage to stay so positive?

    I think what always kept us grounded is realizing how extremely blessed we were  with amazing family, friends and good health! We can't wait for all the crazy adventures ahead and feel very fortunate to be at this place now in our lives!

    If you could relive one single moment what would it be?

    I had always dreamed of being a mom and loved it so much! I think that first moment of holding all of you and staring down in total awe and amazement at you and feeling that sweet love is a moment like no other!

    "The only thing better than having you as a mom, is my kids having you as a grandma" (or a Mima as we like to call her). I am so incredibly thankful to be able to learn from the greatest person out there. She teaches me how to be patient each and every day.  The best part is now I get to watch my kids laugh and smile with her. We love you Mima. 

    Favorites, Parenting

    Mom Crush Monday: Amateur Super Mom

    Being a mom isn't always glamorous (is it ever?!).  Sometimes you have to laugh at every single thing. I loved learning about this new mama and her amazing site. It's a safe zone for all things MOM.  "Strive for Happiness", something I can try to do each and every day.

     Tell me about yourself...

    My name is KC and I am an overwhelmed mom. I am trying to not just survive, but enjoy motherhood while managing life with anxiety. After pulling myself out of a dark place of depression, obesity and loneliness, I found my groove in motherhood. Through positivity, self-care and a healthy(-ish) lifestyle, I was able to change my take on life... mom life in particular. Although I still struggle, I am finding that focusing on striving for happiness (rather than perfection) has allowed me to combat the monster that is anxiety, comparison and depression.

    After seeing that my transformation was not only noticed by other moms but had inspired them, I found my calling. I wanted to ensure that no other mother suffered as I did. I started Amateur Super Mom not because I saw myself as a super mom, but because I realized super moms were fictional. I use the blog as a means for me to share my struggles, unite mothers in happy imperfection, and to provide the resources I found on my journey: family & coaches, grief counselors, self-care routines, family management techniques, and of course HUMOR! Finding time to laugh and seek enjoyment in simple things was a huge mindset shift that I hope to encourage in other mothers. In addition to the blog, The Amateur Super Mom Community online provides a tribe, a village of mothers to support each other through this adventure that is motherhood. We share our triumphs, seek help in struggles and find small ways to laugh and enjoy life each day. Thus AmateurSuperMom.com provides community, resources, advice and humor for overwhelmed moms. Amateur Super Moms strive for happiness, not perfection. And my goal is to help moms reclaim their sanity, their happiness and ultimately themselves by embracing our core values. 

    Your favorite blog post...

    As I was developing and growing my blog, I kept pondering the idea of what it meant to be an AMATEUR super mom. One day I looked up the word amateur. It turns out that an amateur isn't a mark of inferiority. It is a designation for someone who partakes in an activity or pastime out of love, not for gain. Someone who works for something for little to no money or recognition. Sound familiar? My favorite blog post describes what it means to be an Amateur Super Mom and the changes I hope to see in our society relating to motherhood. You can find the post here

    "I hope my take moves you and inspires you to help us change the face of modern motherhood to be more inclusive, less judgmental, and, well... happier!"

    What is the biggest piece of advice you have received?

    The best mothering advice I ever received was to take care of myself. Always doing for others, even out of love or with the best intentions, can wear us thin. We have more to give our families and friends when we take time for ourselves to recharge, rest, and care for our bodies, minds, and souls.

    What is the most challenging part of motherhood?

    To me the most challenging part of motherhood is staying in the moment. It is so easy (especially with my anxiety) to get caught up in worrying... worrying about the past, worrying about the future. Things will always go wrong, kids will get sick, houses will get messy.... but letting go of all of the worrying can actually turn those bad moments into mere blips on your radar. You begin to see them as challenges rather than setbacks. This is easy in theory but difficult in practice. 

    Funniest thing your kids have ever done?

    My kids have an uncanning ability to repeat the things I say or do in the most inopportune moments. For example, my son overheard someone telling a friend at the store, "that is just bad karma." To which he replied, "yeah man... karma is a bitch." (gasp)

    Top 3 mom must haves- "A sense of humor, a self-care routine and wine (in case the first two fail you)."

    What is something you strive to do for yourself?

    As I already said, I strive for happiness, not perfection. Thus something I have been doing more and more is to focus on mindfulness... being in the present. Which means the best thing I can do for myself is practice: practice parenting, practice self-care, practice patience, practice yoga... practice! practice! practice!

    You can find out more about KC & her tribe on her blog or find her on instagram @amateursupermom.