Today’s Hint: Turn Mommy (or Daddy) Getting Ready into an Activity

Today’s Hint: Turn Mommy (or Daddy) Getting Ready into an Activity

As a working parent, I try to maximize the time I spend with my daughter. But I also like to get out of the house and off to work in the morning at a reasonable hour.

So, I turn the time I spend getting ready in the morning into an activity my toddler and I do together, a time management strategy and baby and toddler activity that is today’s hint.

Here’s how this “Getting Ready” activity, which I’ve been doing with my daughter since she was an infant, works.

When my now 20-month-old daughter was younger and couldn’t sit on her own, I used to place her in her Fisher-Price bouncy seat and let her watch me as I went through, and explained, “the mommy’s getting ready” motions – from showering to flossing and teeth brushing. (For some great tips on how to take a shower when you have an infant, especially if you don’t have a bouncy seat, check out this helpful post from the site Rookie Moms. You also can find some helpful tips in this Apartment Therapy post).

Since my daughter has been able to sit and walk, the activity has become less me dictating what I’m doing and more of an imitating mommy game. I still narrate what we’re doing, but now we do it together.

We “floss” together (I give my daughter some floss to use, under my supervision of course) and then “brush” our teeth. (My daughter uses her Nuk toothbrush and toothpaste, or her “Mommy”-style toothbrush and my toothpaste). When I’m in the shower (I make sure we’re locked in the bathroom), my daughter plays with her toothbrush or her bath toys right outside the shower door, or I play peek-a-boo with her, wiping off the steam to say “hi.”

Then, I let my tot smell lotion and perfume as I put it on myself, and I pretend to put it on her as well, and I do a similar routine with makeup. My daughter then watches me get dressed, while she plays with my bracelet collection, my shoes or my hanging clothes. And next, we’ll move into my daughter’s room and get her dressed (despite her protests).

In addition to getting to spend some additional precious time with my daughter while also getting to work on time, I figure I’m also installing good habits in my little one, like daily flossing and teeth brushing. Plus, she’s also learning a host of words like “brush” and “floss.”

To be sure, bringing a mobile little one into the bathroom with you will only work if your bathroom is childproofed (ours is), and there certainly are some days when I need to get to work really early and my husband will have to watch our little one while I’m getting ready. In addition, there may eventually come a time when you won’t feel comfortable having your little one watch you shower.

Still, I figure my involve-my-daughter approach has saved me from the kind of take-a-very-quick-shower stress many parents describe, and most days, playing “getting ready” is how we start our day. I’m also not the only parent who does this. Over at Popsugar Moms, other parents say they bring toys into the bathroom and let their kids play while they’re in the shower, and the blogger at Little Mama Big Life says her daughter watches her get ready in the morning too.

Elsewhere, Jen, who blogs over at All Four Love, shares this clever hack in a great post on 109 hacks for parenthood: “My daughter watches me get ready in the morning. I sit her outside the bathroom door and hand her her toothbrush. She will often ‘brush her teeth’ while I do.”

What do you think of this activity idea? How do you balance getting out the door in the morning with spending time with your little one? Share your thoughts and tips below.

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Today’s Hint: Back-Friendly Ride-On Toys

Today’s Hint: Back-Friendly Ride-On Toys

Whenever we go over to my sister’s house, my 20-month-old daughter makes a beeline directly to her 18-month-old cousin’s pink low-to-the-ground Fisher-Price ride-on toy.

She loves to dance to the music it plays and to sit on it, and she does the same whenever we see a similar toy at one of our neighborhood parks (assuming the owners will let us use it).

Still, I long held off on buying my daughter a similar ride-on toy. One reason: I imagined pushing and pulling my daughter around in it would involve a lot of hunching on my part and wouldn’t be good for my back.

However, I recently learned a clever strategy for making baby and toddler ride-on toys more back-friendly, a trick that is today’s hint and that helped me reconsider my anti ride-on toy stance. [Read more...]

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Today’s Hint: The “Dream Toy”

Today’s Hint: The “Dream Toy”

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband tiptoes into our sleeping daughter’s room each night around 9:30 p.m. and sprinkles extra pacifiers around the crib.

He does this “Dream Paci” to make it less likely our 20-month-old tot (a pacifier addict) will wake up in the middle of the night and cry because she can’t find a pacifier.

Well, recently, my husband added a new element to his nighttime ritual, a trick that is today’s hint. [Read more...]

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Today’s Hint: A Very Easy Toddler Activity (Think Box & Crayons)

Today’s Hint: A Very Easy Toddler Activity (Think Box & Crayons)

The Internet is chock full of toddler activity ideas. However, many of them involve significant prep time and or special materials.

While I’d love to be able to try them out, as a working mom, I just don’t have the time (and I’m not sure I’d have the time to devote to such activities even if I was a stay-at-home mom). Rather, I like toddler activities that take only a minute (or more accurately, a few seconds) of prep time and are easy to do with items I have on hand.

That’s why I so love the easy toddler activity idea I learned from Jessie Stansberry, who blogs at Berry Sweet Baby. It’s a simple trick to keep toddlers occupied that is today hint. [Read more...]

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Today’s Hint: Use Your Stroller as an On-the-Go High Chair

Today’s Hint: Use Your Stroller as an On-the-Go High Chair

It’s a dilemma we’ve all faced: you’ve arrived at the restaurant and they don’t have any high chairs available for your little one to sit in.

If you don’t have a travel high chair handy (like this $20 one that fits into diaper bags), then you’re out of luck, right?

Not necessarily, according to Keryn Means, the travel expert behind the site Walking On Travels. I recently learned an on-the-go high chair trick from Keryn that is today’s hint. [Read more...]

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Today’s Hint: 4 Ways to Make Cleaning Pump Accessories Easier

Today’s Hint: 4 Ways to Make Cleaning Pump Accessories Easier

When I think back on the year I spent breastfeeding and pumping, many of my memories involve standing by the kitchen sink and cleaning my pump supplies. Why? I spent a lot of time washing pump accessories. I washed them using hot water and dish soap after each pumping session, and also sterilized them at least a few times a week using Medela’s microwaveable sterilizing bags.

But now, as I’m starting to think about going through this whole pumping process again eventually, I can’t imagine spending so much time again on part cleaning. So I turned to an expert — Charity Pitcher-Cooper, a lactation consultant and nurse at my pediatrician’s office – to find out if there are any tricks for cutting down the time involved in pump accessory cleaning. The tricks I learned make up today’s hint. [Read more...]

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Today’s Hint: Drink From Your Child’s Straw Sippy Cup

Today’s Hint: Drink From Your Child’s Straw Sippy Cup

One evening about three months ago, as my friend was washing the straw sippy cup his 1-year-old daughter had used that day, he noticed that the straw wasn’t fully secured and hadn’t been all day.

“I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if that affects suction,’” he says. So, he took a sip from the straw and sure enough, no liquid came through.

Turns out, his daughter had been drinking nothing from the cup all day, since the straw hadn’t been fully hooked up. “I thought she was drinking happily, but it turned out she wasn’t getting a drop. It was an a-ha moment,” says my friend, who remembers thinking “Oh, this is why she’s been crabby all day!”

So since then, my friend and his wife have implemented a strategy for making sure their little one’s straw sippy is properly functioning, a tip that is today’s hint. [Read more...]

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Today’s Hint: 5 Ways to Use Up Leftover Baby Cereal

Today’s Hint: 5 Ways to Use Up Leftover Baby Cereal

Note from Hint Mama: I have three full boxes of baby cereal sitting in our pantry (see above), leftover from days long ago when my now 19-month-old daughter would eat rice cereal or oatmeal at least once a day. However, it pains me to think that this cereal, which expires later this year, will just go to waste. Luckily, new Hint Mama contributor Laura Grice (aka Mamahacks), a Toronto-based mother of a 1-year-old son and a former communications professional, has five clever ideas for what to do with all that old cereal. Here’s her first hint.

Packaged cereal is a favorite first food for many babies, and continues to be a staple for most as they make the transition to finger foods.  But as we all know (or will soon learn), once our little food critics decide they don’t want to eat something anymore, there is little we can do to convince them otherwise – unless we want to end up wearing it!

So, what to do with all that extra unused baby cereal sitting around in your pantry before it expires?  Regardless of whether it’s rice, oatmeal or another variation, don’t throw it away! There are lots of ways you can use up that cereal and save a little money while you’re at it. Today’s hint is five such ways. [Read more...]

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Today’s Hint: Dress Your Baby & Toddler in Too-Big Clothes

Today’s Hint: Dress Your Baby & Toddler in Too-Big Clothes

My daughter is only 19 months old, yet her closet is already filled with size 3T as in 3 toddler. This isn’t because my daughter is really big for her age. She’s not.

Rather, it’s because buying and outfitting my little one in too-big clothes is one way I’m cutting down the cost of new little clothes, a money saving strategy that is today’s hint and that I mention over at U.S. News Money’s The Frugal Shopper blog in a post on 3 ways to save on new clothes for babies. [Read more...]

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Today’s Hint: How to Store Baby & Kid Clothes (& Gear) for Future Use

Today’s Hint: How to Store Baby & Kid Clothes (& Gear) for Future Use

Note from Hint Mama: Our garage is filled with cardboard boxes and plastic bins stuffed with my daughter’s old clothes. Meanwhile, tons more outfits that my little one has outgrown fill up drawers in her closet, waiting to be packed away in the garage. I hope to one day pass these clothes down to a future child, but I have to admit that my process for storing them has been very haphazard and disorganized. Luckily, I now have the hint below from Hint Mama contributor Crystal Sabalaske, a mom and professional organizer, to help me. Turns out, I’ve been doing the storage thing all wrong.

Do you ever feel like you have more storage space in your home designated for kid items than for your own stuff?  On a daily basis, you likely have to deal with regular child-related paraphernalia such as little shoes, heaps of toys, plastic cups, schoolwork and art supplies.

Then, if you’re like most parents, you have the added burden of managing the stuff your kids are not yet using on a daily basis, the items designated for future use like hand-me-downs you’ve luckily received or that you’re saving for a younger child.  I’m not going to lie.  It can be very time consuming to properly care for and manage items you want to preserve until a child is old enough to use them.

But the good news is that if you plan and invest a little time now, you can minimize both the time and space required to store your child’s items properly, and save money too. You’ll skip having to spend time down the road sorting through messy bins and boxes all filled with random gear, you’ll maximize the storage space available, and you’ll save money by not having to eventually buy replacement items for gear that got stained or moldy in storage.

So what do I recommend doing now? Today’s hint is my step-by-step process for what I consider the best way to organize toys, books, baby gear and clothes for future use. [Read more...]

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