Making a Swaddle Quilt

DIY, Home, Parent Life

One of my favorite aspects of newborn life was wrapping my son and daughter up in those super soft swaddle blankets. Made from muslin and printed with adorable images, they brought so much comfort to those early days. Each time I wrapped them up I remember thinking, ‘I would really love being wrapped up in this fabric, too – it’s so dreamy.’ As my kids grew I couldn’t stomach getting rid of their swaddles. Aside from the soft fabric, the memories of those early days were also in each and every one.

To be honest, the decision to make a quilt out of all their swaddles was a bit spur of the moment. I needed the closet space and didn’t want to part with them. The perfect solution – make a quilt!

The Process

Something to know about me and my quilting skills…I’m not a perfectionist. I’m more of a progress-over-perfection quilter which, for me, means just the right amount of planning and execution. I love love love working on my sewing machine and care for measuring, ironing, and pinning much less. I still do all of those things, but definitely don’t get as much joy out of them. I see quilting as a fun creative outlet verses a serious craft. That likely puts me in the minority among quilters, but that’s ok, I’m comfortable here.

Luckily, as I discovered, all of the swaddles we had collected were perfect squares of 44″ x 44″. This made planning out the quilt super simple. Not so lucky for me, swaddle fabric is very stretchy and super difficult to work with. They make amazing swaddles but can also be a nightmare when it comes to ironing, measuring, and cutting. Unsure of how to proceed, I called my quilting expert Aunt Jan. She confirmed the fabric would make this tricky and if I wanted to have perfectly cut and sewn squares I likely would be investing serious time on the front end to spray starch, iron, and measure each swaddle before cutting and sewing. I made the decision this quilt would be made with love and care, but wouldn’t be perfect. This approach isn’t for everyone but it worked for me!

I started by taking each of our nine swaddles and cutting them in half and then in half again. (Yes, I skipped the ironing and measuring.) This resulted in 36 equal(ish) squares, which would become the blocks of the quilt. I decided to make this quilt a perfect square with six blocks across (rows) and six blocks down (columns) so all 36 blocks would be used.

Next, I laid all the blocks out on our basement floor – the only place large enough in our home for a quilt to be spread completely out. With all the blocks laid out, I did my best to arrange them in a loose pattern with varying colors so the quilt felt balanced, though not a perfect pattern.

Now came time for pinning – one of my least favorite aspects of sewing BUT also one of the most important! Just about every time I approach my sewing machine I ask myself if I can skip the pinning part. Then I hear my grandma’s voice in my head, sigh, and get out my pins. I pinned together all the blocks from one column before taking the full strip over to my sewing machine. While my kids were less interested in me cutting squares and arranging blocks, they were super interested in the sewing machine. Veda helped me sew just about all of the blocks together. This quilt was made with love and contains all perfect imperfections I was hoping for.

Once all the columns were done, I joined them together strip by strip to form the top quilt. You’ll notice from the picture a few of the blocks have trim. We had two plain white swaddles with a decorative trim that I loved. I didn’t want to loose the trim in the quilt, so I sewed those blocks with the edges up so the trim would remain visible. It adds a nice dimension to the quilt.

Ok, with top quilt done I had some choices to make about what to do next. Option one: add a backing, finish it like a traditional quilt, and call it done. Option two: add a backing to strengthen the muslin top, then turn this into a duvet cover that could be stuffed with a fluffy comforter. After consulting the family, the consensus was to make this a fluffy duvet.

Time for a trip to Joann! While soft and scrumptious, the muslin top quilt was still very stretchy and a tad bit fragile. I was concerned the quilt wouldn’t stand up to the test of time OR use by two rambunctious kids. I found a slightly thicker and more sturdy white flannel for the backing. This gave the muslin some security and shape while still protecting the softness of the original swaddles. To make the duvet pocket, I selected a light gray jersey fabric that I knew my family would find super comfortable and snuggle-worthy. Yes, I know, jersey is another tricky fabric to use. But since this quilt is a standard square with no fuss I figured I could make it work.

Back in the basement it was super simple to add the backing. Honestly, the most time consuming aspects involved maneuvering the largeness of this now king-sized quilt. It’s heavy and massive and took some finesse to get it over to and through my sewing machine with pins around the edges.

Since this quilt was so large, the backing needed to be secured to the top with more than just edge sewing. Generally, quilters will sew patterns in the top to help secure the top quilt to the backing. Since I do not have the machinery necessary to do that on such a large quilt AND I wasn’t about to sew it all by hand, I decided to knot tie it with yarn. I used an embroidery needle to knot tie short pieces of yarn through the center of all 36 blocks.

To add the duvet pocket I duplicated the same maneuvering I did for the backing, but left one side open. This is how the quilt, or should I now say, ‘duvet-quilt’ currently stands. I haven’t finalized the pocket with buttons just yet because this thing is so big and heavy I’m not sure we want to add a king size comforter to the inside. Yes, it would be fluffy and amazing. But, where would I store this massive thing?!

The (almost) Finished Product

So, the duvet-quilt remains slightly unfinished. Do I close the pocket and keep this a quilt? Or do I add the buttons and make this an official duvet? What do you think?

Either way, we tested it out this weekend and it makes for the perfect nap blanket! Tucker the Pug agrees.

Daily Skincare Routine: Normal Skin

Beauty

The routine below was developed for those with normal skin who are looking to get, or maintain, that ‘glow’. There are 6 evening steps and 7 morning steps to help keep skin hydrated and radiant.

Results

If you are new to caring for you skin in a disciplined way, you should start to notice results after day one! Your skin will look and feel softer and better hydrated with a nice all-day glow coming from consistent use and dedication. If you’ve been caring for your skin with fidelity for some time, results will take a bit longer to achieve and might be less noticeable. Stick with it – I promise you the payoff will be worth it!

Oh, and I always encourage people to take ‘before’ pictures so you can really see your progress.

Personal Consultations

Feeling a little overwhelmed with the routine above? Follow me on Instagram and send me a DM for a complimentary consultation where we can discuss your skincare needs, current routine, and goals. From there, I can put together an overview of what I might recommend for you individual needs.

More…

Five Skincare Tips to Live By

Take care of your skin and it will take care of you. I’m in my 30’s and have white European / Mediterranean skin, which means my face is in a race against time. I have always taken my skincare routine seriously and have spent loads of money on products over the years in search of…

Daily Skincare Routine Basics

The 10-step Korean Skin Care Routine, or what I call daily skincare routine basics, seems crazy intense, and it is, but it’s completely worth it. While 10 steps can seem intimidating, it breaks down into 4 simple parts: cleanse, tone, nourish, and protect. Read my daily beauty routine to see how I action these steps…

How to Layer Skincare Products

If you’re like me and have a cabinet full of skincare products, it can be confusing to decipher which ones to apply when. Following the Korean skincare routine I’ve outlined in Daily Skincare Routine Basics can give you a head start in identifying product order. Learning how to layer products can be tricky.  The general…

How to Master At-Home Chemical Peels

In effort not to look like a piece of crinkled up paper, I’m doing everything I can to prevent the signs of aging while staying out of the doctor’s office. Plastic surgery is not for me. No judgement for those who are into that. Chemical peels have become my favorite secret weapon. And thanks to…

Melasma Improvement

How I Improved My Melasma & Hyperpigmentation

Whew…it’s a little tough to see these pictures of my face. And super scary to post them online. But, I’ve come a long way in my battle against melasma and if my routine can help just one more person, I’d feel pretty happy about that. Melasma is a terrible beast that can crush self-esteem. Since…

Daily Skincare Routine for Minimalists

A self-named skincare fanatic, I take my Daily Skincare Routine seriously. With 7-10 steps depending on the time of day and my current skin needs, I’m spending more time on my skin than most people can stomach doing for themselves. While I firmly believe in the Korean skincare routine I outline in Daily Skincare Routine Basics,…

Let’s stay in touch!

Daily Skincare Routine: Dry Skin

Beauty

The 7 step routine below was developed for those who are looking to soothe and hydrate dry skin as their main skincare concern.

  • CLEANSE

    1 | Oil Cleanse

    $$ | Hanskin Pore Cleansing Oil | actively fights blackheads and helps deep clean the skin

    2 | Water-Based Cleanse

    $$ | Plaine Products Face Wash | eco-friendly, all natural, non-drying

    Exfoliate

  • TONE

    3 | Toner

    $$$ | Biologique Recherche P50W | this is considered a cult favorite and holy grail in the beauty world. It exfoliates, tones, balances, and brightens the complexion. BR is super particular about their products so P50 can only be purchased from a licensed vendor. I recommend Rescue Spa online.

  • NOURISH

    4 | Essence | I’ve included 2 options below…

    $ | The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

    $$$ | Biologique Recherche Amniotique Serum | its hydro-fixing active ingredients help cells capture water and lock it into the outer epidermal layers, for long-lasting hydration. BR is super particular about their products so this serum can only be purchased from a licensed vendor. Reach out if you need one.

    5 | Eye Cream

    $$| Platinum Skin Care Eye Duo Kit | targeted eye therapy to help w/ bags, circles, wrinkles and loose skin (eye lids)

  • PROTECT

    6 | Moisturizer | I’ve included a few options below…

    $$ | Plaine Products Face Moisturizer | another win from my favorite sustainable company! This moisturizer is light yet effective. It comes in a refillable, returnable aluminum bottle.

    $$$ | Kiehl’s Super Multi-Corrective Anti-Aging Face and Neck Cream | this stuff works and works quickly. It’s extra creamy and rich, the perfect combo for dry skin. You’ll notice a difference in your skin’s texture immediately!

    $$$ |Biologique Recherche Creme Hydravit’s | it acts on several levels to infuse the skin with deep-down, instant yet long-lasting hydration. BR is super particular about their products so this cream can only be purchased from a licensed vendor. I recommend Rescue Spa online.

    7 | Face Oil (PM ONLY) | I’ve included a few options below…

    $ | Bio Oil | I’ve tried many face oils and recently purchased Bio Oil. It’s been around forever, is cheap, effective, and can be used all over the body. I love spreading it all over my chest and neck at night time, and because it’s affordable I don’t feel like I’m wasting it.

    $$$ | Naked & Thriving Rejuvenate Restorative Facial Oil | he smell is nice and light and I love using it day and night since it absorbs nicely

    $$$$ | Vintner’s Daughter | this is my absolute favorite face oil. While the price tag is shocking, know the ingredients are top-of-the-line. This oil has won countless beauty awards and is the holy grail of all face oils IMHO.

    7 | Sun Protection (AM ONLY)

    $$ | EltaMD UV Physical Tinted Face Sunscreen | I love this sunscreen and will probably use it for the rest of my life. It also comes in an untinted formula for darker skin tones or for those who prefer no tinting.

Results

If you are new to caring for you skin in a disciplined way, you should start to notice results after day one! Your skin will look and feel softer and better hydrated with a nice all-day glow coming from consistent use and dedication. If you’ve been caring for your skin with fidelity for some time, results will take a bit longer to achieve and might be less noticeable. Stick with it – I promise you the payoff will be worth it!

Oh, and I always encourage people to take ‘before’ pictures so you can really see your progress.

Personal Consultations

Feeling a little overwhelmed with the routine above? Follow me on Instagram and send me a DM for a complimentary consultation where we can discuss your skincare needs, current routine, and goals. From there, I can put together an overview of what I might recommend for you individual needs.

More…

Five Skincare Tips to Live By

Take care of your skin and it will take care of you. I’m in my 30’s and have white European / Mediterranean skin, which means my face is in a race against time. I have always taken my skincare routine seriously and have spent loads of money on products over the years in search of…

Daily Skincare Routine Basics

The 10-step Korean Skin Care Routine, or what I call daily skincare routine basics, seems crazy intense, and it is, but it’s completely worth it. While 10 steps can seem intimidating, it breaks down into 4 simple parts: cleanse, tone, nourish, and protect. Read my daily beauty routine to see how I action these steps…

How to Layer Skincare Products

If you’re like me and have a cabinet full of skincare products, it can be confusing to decipher which ones to apply when. Following the Korean skincare routine I’ve outlined in Daily Skincare Routine Basics can give you a head start in identifying product order. Learning how to layer products can be tricky.  The general…

How to Master At-Home Chemical Peels

In effort not to look like a piece of crinkled up paper, I’m doing everything I can to prevent the signs of aging while staying out of the doctor’s office. Plastic surgery is not for me. No judgement for those who are into that. Chemical peels have become my favorite secret weapon. And thanks to…

Melasma Improvement

How I Improved My Melasma & Hyperpigmentation

Whew…it’s a little tough to see these pictures of my face. And super scary to post them online. But, I’ve come a long way in my battle against melasma and if my routine can help just one more person, I’d feel pretty happy about that. Melasma is a terrible beast that can crush self-esteem. Since…

Daily Skincare Routine for Minimalists

A self-named skincare fanatic, I take my Daily Skincare Routine seriously. With 7-10 steps depending on the time of day and my current skin needs, I’m spending more time on my skin than most people can stomach doing for themselves. While I firmly believe in the Korean skincare routine I outline in Daily Skincare Routine Basics,…

Let’s stay in touch!

Creating a Zoom Worthy Home Office

DIY, Home

When my partner and I moved to a new city in 2016, I had to find a new job. Thankfully, I found a position within my current organization that allowed me to work remotely. Most of my new team was based in New York, with a handful of us working all across the country. Adjusting to working from home definitely had its ups and downs. While I was able to complete some household chores throughout the day, like laundry and dishes, the isolation was a big adjustment for me. Additionally, I needed a work space that looked semi-presentable on Zoom. The messy home office cluttered with boxes and old papers was not a good look.

The Project

During my second maternity leave in 2018, I was blessed with a baby that did super well snuggled up in a Boba wrap tied to my body all day long. This allowed me two free hands for most of the day. Sitting around reading and watching TV got boring fast, and since my daughter was born in November, outside activities were limited. I needed a project. A big one. So I decided to tackle my home office.

Our current home office was located in our basement den. We were using my desk from high school (!!) and a few old bookcases we had collected over the years. In the corner of our office was a stack of boxes from our various moves that we just hadn’t gotten around to unpacking in 2 years. Cleaning out the mess was task number one. Task number two was envisioning a space that would be functional and beautiful while not breaking the bank.

The Vision

My vision for this new space was simple: wall-to-wall bookcases and two desks facing each other, partner-style. The bookcases would provide much needed storage and the desk set-up would give both me and my partner individual and dedicated workspace; something we desperately wanted. Finding budget friendly options was a little harder. I started my search like I always do, with the major big brands like Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel. Their beautiful designs gave me a ton of inspiration, though the price tags did not.

The Furniture

Enter IKEA. IKEA had an online planning tool that allowed me to virtually design my dream room using their products. My daughter and I made several trips to our new local IKEA to scope out the goods in person. I tested out all the desks and office chairs, and measured floor model bookcases and storage units until I finally landed on the perfect solution. I selected seven Hemnes bookcases and two Hemnes desks, all in the white stain. Though not the cheapest of the IKEA options, the quality and price balanced nicely for our intended purposes. I decided to splurge a bit for my desk chair since I knew it would be getting a ton of use so I went with the Hattefjall in grey and white. All in all, the total spent on on all this brand new furniture was just over $1,500. Not bad considering what we got in return! I was able to assemble everything, with my daughter snuggled up on my chest, over a couple of days.

The Light Fixtures

Since IKEA had proven economical and stylish, I stayed to browse the lighting fixtures. Who are we kidding, I could not have found my way out of IKEA without following the maze-like path and I just happened into the lighting section. Regardless, I found two black Ranarp pendants that were the right style and price I wanted. A couple of DIY Youtube videos later and I was calling myself an amateur electrician. The new space was coming together nicely!

The Décor

IKEA for the win, again! I found the perfect storage boxes for all the random papers and office materials we needed to keep, but didn’t want looking messy. Enter the Fjalla storage boxes. They were easy to assemble and look super sharp on the white bookcases. After a few hours of organizing and labeling, most of the office was assembled and looking awesome.

All that was left was something for my Zoom background AND a solution for all the random pictures and frames I had just cleaned out of the stack of boxes in the corner. With gallery walls notoriously tricky to get right, I opted for two black floating shelves from Amazon that I could stack all our framed pictures on. The end result was just what I had hoped for!

The Transformation

How to Conquer Winter Dry Skin

Beauty

Growing up in Arizona, I never fully appreciated the winter dry-skin phenomena. After living in the mid-west for the past 13 winters, I now totally get it. Layer on the brutal cold outside with the drying heat inside and your skin will be thirsting for moisture. As part of a strong daily skincare routine, I recommend these three things to keep your winter skin quenched…

1 | The Double-Cleanse

Yes, this means washing your face 2x. No, washing your face 2x won’t make you more dry IF you’re using the right products. By combining an oil-based cleanser and a water-based cleanser the result will be supper soft, supple skin.

Products I recommend

Oil-based cleanser | Hanskin Pore Cleansing Oil

Water-based cleanser | Plaine Products Face Wash

Process

  1. Rub oil cleanser all over face & neck in circular motions. Focus on areas with make-up.  Rinse completely with tepid water.  No need to dry.
  2. Add water and rub water-based cleanser all over face & neck in circular motions.  Rinse completely with tepid water.  Pat dry with clean washcloth.

2 | Hyaluronic Acid

This ingredient is a powerhouse when it comes to hydration. It is naturally produced by your body and the largest amounts of it are found in your skin, connective tissue and eyes. Adding this ingredient to your routine will help your skin retain moisture, leading to softer, more hydrated skin. The best way to add and use this ingredient is during the Essence step in a serum.

Products I recommend

$ The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

$$$ Biologique Recherche Amniotique Serum

Process

  1. After double-cleansing and toning, rub product all over face & neck – spread remaining on décolletage.

3 | Face Oil

Ahhh….my secret weapon against dry skin. Face oils are decadent, smooth, and leave your skin feeling like a baby’s bottom. They always go on last in the evening and before sunscreen in the morning.

Products I recommend

$ Bio Oil

$$ Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+

$$ Plaine Products Beauty Oil

$$$ Naked & Thriving Rejuvenate Restorative Facial Oil

$$$$ Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum (expensive, but soooo worth it!)

Process

  1. As the last step in the evening and before sunscreen in the morning, rub oil all over face & neck – spread remaining on décolletage.  

Results

If you are new to caring for you skin in a disciplined way, you should start to notice results after day one! Your skin will look and feel softer and better hydrated with a nice all-day glow coming from consistent use and dedication. If you’ve been caring for your skin with fidelity for some time, results will take a bit longer to achieve and might be less noticeable. Stick with it – I promise you the payoff will be worth it! Oh, and I always encourage people to take ‘before’ pictures so you can really see your progress.

More…

Daily Skincare Routine: Normal Skin

The routine below was developed for those with normal skin who are looking to get, or maintain, that ‘glow’. There are 6 evening steps and 7 morning steps to help keep skin hydrated and radiant. Results If you are new to caring for you skin in a disciplined way, you should start to notice results…

Daily Skincare Routine: Dry Skin

The 7 step routine below was developed for those who are looking to soothe and hydrate dry skin as their main skincare concern. Results If you are new to caring for you skin in a disciplined way, you should start to notice results after day one! Your skin will look and feel softer and better…

Daily Skincare Routine: Acne

Acne is a rough self-esteem buster that can plague anyone from tweens to adults. I’ve been an acne sufferer for the past 20 years and have tried just about everything to cure my skin. Below is an overview of the daily morning and evening routines I follow, the products I recommend using to tackle acne,…

Our Compost Bin Make Over

Home, Sustainability

We started backyard composting back in 2018 and have never looked back. For the longest time, we had a fancy compost pail that sat in our second sink. It would fill up quickly and took up enough space that we stopped using the sink for anything other than compost. I hated the cluttered look and wanted my prep sink back. There had to be another way.

Our kitchen has one of those pull-out trash drawers that hold garbage and recycling cans perfectly. Since most of our garbage is compost and/or recycling, the trash can was really taking up more space than necessary. I decided we needed to find a way to make the compost fit, too. Armed with measurements, pictures, and a loose idea of the final concept, I made a trip to the Container Store.

After searching the entirety of the Container Store, I was not able to find three identical garbage cans that would fit into our pull-out drawer. What I did find was a very workable solution: a small compost bin, with lid, that could hang from the drawer, and two smaller garbage cans that could work for trash and recycling. Thankfully, everything fit perfectly in the pull-out drawer, marking my Container Store visit a success!

Compost Bin

I landed on a Simple Human small trash can with a lid that is designed to hang on the back of cabinet doors. It fits perfectly on our pull-out drawer and I appreciate the easy-to-open lid which contains compost smells. We purchase compostable trash can liners from Amazon that work well with this 2.6 gallon can and are suitable for backyard composting. When looking for compost bags BEWARE! Many are not suitable for backyard composting; only commercial facility composting. That was a nasty lesson :O.

Trash & Recycling Cans

I found two white Eco Cocoon trash cans that fit in the remaining drawer space. Made from recycled materials, these are sturdy and a little flexible which allow for a perfect fit. They each hold 3.7 gallons so I can use standard-size bag for the trash can. While the recycling can does fill up rather quickly, it’s well worth the hassle to have all three cans in the same, organized and tidy place.

How do you compost? Do you have a similar set-up in your kitchen? How do you organize compost with trash and recycling?

More…

Making a Swaddle Quilt

One of my favorite aspects of newborn life was wrapping my son and daughter up in those super soft swaddle blankets. Made from muslin and printed with adorable images, they brought so much comfort to those early days. Each time I wrapped them up I remember thinking, ‘I would really love being wrapped up in…

Creating a Zoom Worthy Home Office

When my partner and I moved to a new city in 2016, I had to find a new job. Thankfully, I found a position within my current organization that allowed me to work remotely. Most of my new team was based in New York, with a handful of us working all across the country. Adjusting…

Sustainable Gift Wrapping for All Occasions

When it comes to gift wrapping, I used to fall into one of the following camps: I have wrapping paper, but it’s themed (Christmas/birthday) and doesn’t fit the need I need right now (occasion and/or recipient) I have the right wrapping paper, but not enough of it to wrap the gift/s I don’t have any…

Sustainable Gift Wrapping for All Occasions

Home, Parent Life, Sustainability

When it comes to gift wrapping, I used to fall into one of the following camps:

  1. I have wrapping paper, but it’s themed (Christmas/birthday) and doesn’t fit the need I need right now (occasion and/or recipient)
  2. I have the right wrapping paper, but not enough of it to wrap the gift/s
  3. I don’t have any suitable wrapping paper and need to go buy a roll (and tape) while on my way to the event
  4. Screw this, just use a gift bag. Wait, I don’t have any tissue paper. FML.

It was annoying and wasteful, which just made me even more frustrated. Like most people, I don’t have unlimited space to store a Paper Source’s worth of cute wrapping paper in my home. My closets are filled with linens, craft supplies, and clothes. Wrapping paper ranks pretty low on the storage priority list. It’s also really expensive, shockingly expensive given it’s only going to be ripped apart and thrown away.

There had to be a better, more sustainable way.

Wrapping Paper

I scoured the internet and landed on my perfect solution: brown craft paper. Yes, it is plain and boring. BUT, it’s made from 100% recycled materials, works for any occasion and recipient, can be used as coloring/craft paper and other house projects, and can be repurposed after use. Another added bonus is that it can be purchased in bulk and will match another roll perfectly, so there’s less of a chance you won’t have enough on hand. The neutral brown allows you to customize any gift/package with ribbon and/or bows depending on the occasion and recipient. Win-win-win- win!

Tape

My next search led me to find eco-friendly paper tape made from brown craft paper. I love this stuff for so many reasons, but mostly because it’s easy to tear and works well with my wrapping paper. It also blends in nicely, and since it’s recyclable, I don’t have to separate it from the paper before the whole things gets recycled.

Ribbons

For the final step in any gift wrapping process, ribbons, bows or other accoutrement add a visually appealing touch. I love to use multi-colored compostable twine. It’s perfect for adding a touch of color and better for Mother Nature than plastic-based alternatives. I purchased the 11-yard, multi-color pack linked above over a year ago and so far it’s lasted two Christmases, countless birthdays and several housewarmings. When the gift has been opened, I pull aside the twine to reuse or compost.

While my wrapped gifts are not the most shiny or flashy, they do make a statement in their simplicity. Choosing this less common route also opens up a conversation about sustainability; one I’m always up for having. How do you bring sustainability into gift giving? Do you have alterative gift wrapping methods that are good for Mother Nature? I’d love to learn from you!

More…

Our Compost Bin Make Over

We started backyard composting back in 2018 and have never looked back. For the longest time, we had a fancy compost pail that sat in our second sink. It would fill up quickly and took up enough space that we stopped using the sink for anything other than compost. I hated the cluttered look and…

Secret Bookcase Door

The dream of having a secret passageway in my house has been one since I was a child. Maybe it came from the 90’s classic movies the Secret Garden or Clue. Regardless, when we moved into our current home I saw the perfect spot to build one. My son’s room had four doors in it:…

IKEA Play Kitchen DIY Hack for Under $100

The kid play kitchen. It’s become ubiquitous in the homes of most millennials with kids, and ours is no exception. I originally got the idea to take a base model kid kitchen and spruce it up into something that would blend better in our home from our cousin, Priya. She had taken her daughter’s IKEA…

5 MLK Day Activities for Little Kids

Parent Life

1 | Read

Reading is one of the best ways to teach littles about a topic. There are countless books about MLK for all ages and I encourage you to read them all year long, not just today. Some of my favorites include…

Who Was Martin Luther King Jr.

Good Night Martin Luther King Jr.

I am Brave: A Little Book about Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

2 | Listen

Listen to MLK speeches and talk about them. What words do they hear? What’s the message he’s telling us. Does he sound happy, sad, passionate? Why? Listening during meals or art projects is a great way to incorporate multiple senses into each activity. You can listen to MLK’s five most memorable speeches online.

3 | Create Art

Art is a great way to connect with a message, especially for little kids. Consider making handprint doves while discussing peaceful protesting or cloud & rainbow pictures while talking about dreams.

4 | BINGO

Create a BINGO board with social justice phrases like civil rights, racial equality, discrimination, boycott, protest, freedom, etc. As you go through the day, encourage your kids to listen for these phrases and discuss them.

5 | Visit

Visit your local MLK park or memorial. Talk about his life and non-violent approach while you and your kids walk and play together. You can incorporate the BINGO activity above while you read about his life and legacy.

More…

How to PICK Toddler Consequences That Work

When my son was 3 years old he snuck out of his room after bedtime, found my work bag, and preceded to make several murals along our staircase, down the hall, on the door and walls of his room, and on various pieces of furniture with permanent maker, washable marker, and a full pack of…

8 Pregnancy Truths Nobody Talks About

Yes, babies are tiny miracles and it’s truly unbelievable that our bodies are made to grow and nurture these tiny miracles inside for 9 months. It’s also true that being pregnant can really, really, REALLY suck. While every pregnancy is different, below are the 8 gruesome truths I wish I had known beforehand. No, it…

3 Tips for Creating Healthy Toddler Boundaries

For the past three years I’ve been living with at least one toddler. My son, thankfully, is now 4-years-old and no longer considered a toddler. My daughter is 2-years-old and right smack in the worst of the toddler years. How can I tell? “No! I do it!” “No, mine!” Basically anything with NO in front…

How to PICK Toddler Consequences That Work

Parent Life

When my son was 3 years old he snuck out of his room after bedtime, found my work bag, and preceded to make several murals along our staircase, down the hall, on the door and walls of his room, and on various pieces of furniture with permanent maker, washable marker, and a full pack of gum. The devastation to our walls, banister, and furniture was epic.

Upon discovering this masterpiece my blood began to boil and I immediately sought out my partner, who was working late in our basement office, BEFORE I approached our son. I knocked lightly on the office door, interrupting his board meeting prep. “I need you for the next 30 minutes of parenting we have to do.” What unfolded next was a mix of strong parenting and not-so-stellar-parenting as we attempted to make this situation a learning moment for everyone.

We found my son still awake in his room sorting through the rest of the contents of my work bag. The second he saw us he started to cry – he knew he was in big trouble. While I had a chance to preview Pax’s handy work, my partner was just now seeing the full effects of our son’s actions. Regardless, neither of us had any clue what we were going to do when we confronted Pax. It was late, we were both tired, and it stung to see our clean walls defaced with black permanent marker. We both yelled.

“What were you thinking?!” “Why did you do this?!” “I can’t believe you would do something like this!” “You’re in big trouble!!”

Pax responded with uncontrollable sobs and a desperate plea for us to understand his ‘why’. Apparently, he was drawing monsters to scare away all the spiders. SMH. Not cool, dude. Not cool. If I’m being honest, I think we should both get medals for attempting to talk to Pax before we went in hard with any consequence. That night tested our patience like no other; I’ve never been more angry with him than I was in that moment. We put Pax in bed, sobbing, and left his room.

After debriefing the episode downstairs, we talked through what his consequences should be and decided to go back into his room that night for a quick follow-up conversation. We didn’t feel good about how we had yelled and then left him alone to cry himself to sleep. While his actions were not acceptable, he was still just a little guy learning boundaries. It felt right to go back in and remind him of a few things, most importantly that we still loved him. Pax had stopped crying, thankfully, so we all sat down and communicated a few things to him directly:

  1. We love you, and always will.
  2. You made bad choices; you are NOT a bad person.
  3. Your actions were unacceptable and there will be consequences.
  4. Your consequences are x, y, and z. We will discuss this again tomorrow morning.
  5. Goodnight, we love you and always will.

All in all, the entire episode took about 30 minutes and left us feeling like we had the right next steps in mind. Below is the framework we used to PICK his consequences. It’s a framework that can be applied for all consequences, big and small.

P: proportional

Does the punishment fit the crime? The consequence should be in line with action so the toddler can gain a healthy understanding of how actions have repercussions in real life. Small mistakes should be met with smaller consequences, and big mistakes bigger consequences.

I: individualized

The consequence should speak directly to that specific individual toddler, meaning, it should focus on something they can relate directly to. For example, if your child is allowed to watch TV, then limiting or cancelling TV time would be a consequence they can relate to. If they are not TV watchers, clearly this won’t work. Try to pick something that they will really feel and experience as a loss while keeping in mind the proportionality mentioned above. I would also recommend never putting any comfort items on the consequence list – taking away a favorite lovey or stuffed animal that your child uses for comfort verse play would be cruel and might undermine the entire consequence altogether.

C: concrete

Toddlers are very literal beings in that they need to see, touch, and experience something before they can understand it’s meaning and context. As such, consequences should be concrete so they see, feel, experience the repercussions of their actions. I give an example below of one consequence we implemented then later took away because it felt too abstract for Pax to grasp.

K: known Time

When will the consequence take effect and how long will it last? Time is a tricky thing in toddler land – 5 minutes can feel like a week and things that happened last year can be recalled as ‘yesterday’ experiences. For this reason, you need to be clear and purposeful when setting time boundaries on consequences. In most cases, the consequence should start immediately, or at least be communicated immediately, and last no longer than a few days to a week. Anything beyond a week and toddlers tend to forget why they were given the consequence in the first place and it loses its power.

Consequences in Action

Pax’s actions were pretty extreme; he had never done anything this naughty that left this much devastation before. That being said, he was still just a 3-year-old with a developing brain. While shame is an emotion 3-year-olds can process easily, guilt and regret are still in development. We decided on a handful of consequences that would both send a message and help teach Pax a lesson.

First, we locked his door that night and told him the lock would be on until we could trust him again. Pax was an early climber, which meant he transitioned into a toddler bed at an early age. We had to install a toddler lock on his door to prevent him from roaming the house in the middle of the night before age 2. The lock wasn’t used anymore, but we decided it was necessary after this epic post-bedtime adventure. His door remained locked at bedtime for the following three nights and we talked to him daily about why so he could internalize the idea of a consequence for bad choices.

Second, I had Pax help me the next morning in cleaning up his mess. I gave him a wet wash cloth and made him wipe down all the walls and banisters that had marker on them. The washable marker came off easily, thankfully, but the permanent wouldn’t budget. While he did that, I scrubbed away the best I could at the permanent marker and we talked about how some markers last forever and some wash away. We also talked about when to use makers, paper only, and why it’s important to only use markers supplied by adults, verses going through Mama’s work bag.

Third, we canceled a weekend play date planned with Pax’s good friend Harrison. Since the marker debacle happened on a Tuesday, this meant Pax had three full days of playing with Harrison at school before the scheduled playdate. As the days ticked on it became clear that Pax wasn’t really bothered by this consequence and it was losing its power. So, we backtracked and decided to keep the playdate. It didn’t feel concrete anymore AND it wasn’t very fair to Harrison. This was huge for us as parents, too. We were still angry at the damage but also recognized cancelling might have been a little too much. It’s ok to change your mind and share the reasons why with your kids. Humans make mistakes. How we respond to and learn from the mistakes is what makes a human different. In backtracking on this one consequence we were showing Pax that adults can make mistakes and that we can always do something to make it better.

Lastly, we put Pax ‘on consequence’, as he called it, which meant no dessert after dinner. This was lifted at the same time we took the lock off his door and he was officially ‘off consequence’.

All in all, the marker debacle of 2020 was a big test for us as parents and helped us lay the foundation for healthy consequences. Pax has never colored on anything other than paper since that night, and is the first to alert us anytime his little sister attempts to. He also has a strong understanding of what ‘consequence’ means, contextually, which makes it much easier to preemptively stop bad choices in the moment with, “Pax, think about your choices and make a good one.”

What’s Next?

What do you struggle with most when it comes to consequences and your toddler? Do you think PICK will help you the next time you need to implement some? Share your thoughts and questions by commenting below – we always enjoy learning from other parents on this crazy journey.

#BetterTogether

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Beauty

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    Step 2| Water-Based Cleanse | Plaine Products Face Wash | eco-friendly, all natural, non-drying

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  • TONE

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    $$ | Son & Park Beauty Water | this is also considered a cult favorite and provides a nice, light refresh so you skin can better absorb what comes next.

    $ | Thayer’s Witch Hazel | a classic, all-natural toner that can be found in any drug store

  • NOURISH

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    Treatments | skip

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  • PROTECT

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