Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Tips for Stress-Free Potty Training

This is a guest post from our friends at Spral Pal, the most amazing way to rinse cloth diapers easily in your home.  Joovy is delighted to participate and so happy to share these wonderful products with all of you.

You may be wondering why a brand like Spray Pal would be writing about tips for helping your kids succeed without their cloth diapers, but here’s the thing. Most parents find that their kids will actually potty train sooner when wearing cloth. This is likely due to the fact that with cloth diapers, you have the option of allowing your child to feel the wetness, which signals to them that something has happened down there that they don’t necessarily feel comfortable sitting in, as opposed to disposable diapers which contain harsh chemicals and “stay dry crystals” that are meant to keep your child from feeling wet.

Mini Spray Pal 1.0 actually started noticing this phenomenon at around 18 months, and by 21 months she was telling us in her own words and signals that she wanted to go on the potty and didn’t want to wear her diapers anymore. By waiting until she was ready and going off of her cues, she completely ditched the diapers well before she turned 2, which was bittersweet for me because I loved her adorable fluff!

Not to fear, we still had our little guy rocking the cloth in the NICU. Now that he’s turned 2 and is still facing lots of developmental delays, we’re realizing he’ll probably be in his cloth diapers for an extensive amount of time. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start reading his signals and practicing elimination communication for those times he’s clearly showing us he’s ready to go. Every opportunity for him to communicate something with us is a good one, and this will just prepare him down the road as he starts to make the connection that the bathroom and the toilet is where this stuff is actually supposed to happen.

Here are my tips as we start down the road toward bathroom independence:

  • Look for cues, but don’t force it. If your child is giving obvious signs that s/he is about to have some potty action, just ask in a super friendly tone, “Would you like to go sit on your big kid potty?” If they accept the invitation, just go with it!
  • Stay positive and encouraging. If your child isn’t in the mood to go on the potty at that moment, just act like it’s no big deal. But the times that they do choose to make the attempt, play into those moments. Tell them how exciting it is and how proud you are and basically just ham it up and act like a goofball. They’ll love this positive reinforcement and they’ll remember it next time you ask if they want to use the potty.
  • Play down the accidents. If your child is going without diapers, and doesn’t quite make it to the potty, just play it down. Clean it up and go on with your day. You definitely don’t want them to start thinking it’s hilarious when mommy or daddy freaks out about the mess on the floor! Maybe ask a bit more frequently after that if they’d like to try the potty and see the previous tip. ;)
  • Give TONS of positive praise, even if they just try. We never had to do a reward system or treats with my daughter when she started using the potty. She just loved hearing how excited and proud we were of her! Of course there are some kids who respond better to candy, so you’ll have to go with your gut on this one. You know your kid best! ;)
  • Don’t beat yourself up! You are doing a great job, mama, no matter what happens. If your child isn’t quite getting it after a few days, it might be time to throw up the white flag and save it for another time. It’s not the end of the world if you have to wait a few more weeks, especially if you’re using your cloth diapers! At least you won’t have to run out for a few more packs of diapers, right? :)

So, since we’ve recently started working on this with mini Spray Pal 2.0, we have teamed up with some amazing companies to offer some super helpful tips and products that can make this journey easier! One lucky winner will win a gift set containing one of each of these useful products!

Potty Training Must Haves:

1. Oops! Sheet.  $40. This is a waterproof cotton mattress protector for night time potty training and occasional oopsies. Learning is a process, and accidents can happen, so protect your mattress with this great mom-created product! Available in sizes ranging from crib to king.

2. A Joovy Loo.  $40. In the beginning stages of learning, it’s important that your child have a small, easy to access place to practice using the potty. We highly recommend the Joovy Loo potty chair. The folks at Joovy have designed this potty chair to be just as functional as it is stylish, which means it’s easy to clean (always a plus in the Spray Pal household). You can read more about what makes it so great on their website HERE, and one of you will win one below!

3. EcoNuts Natural Ammonia Bouncer.  $16.50. Depending on how many accidents you have to clean up, you may need this product all throughout the various stages of potty training. I’ve actually seen this product in action first hand, and it’s amazing how it actually does destroy the strong ammonia smell with only natural ingredients! Safe to use on cloth diapers or anything that ends up getting pee on it, you can even add it to a spray bottle to spritz it on accident spots.

4. Joovy StepTool.  $20. Some sort of step stool is a good idea to have around from the very beginning stages of potty learning because your kids will feel a great sense of accomplishment after they do their business and wash their hands in the grown up sink. Joovy is giving away one of their stylish StepTools for this purpose, and it will pair perfectly with our next innovative product.

5. Aquaduck Faucet Extender.  $13. This is another mom invented product that was created out of necessity. When Susanna’s kids were getting to be too big and heavy to hold up to wash their hands, she created the Aquaduck faucet extender to solve the problem. This makes the water from your sink easy for your child to reach when they’re finished using the potty and need to wash up.

6. A Spray Pal.  $25. You’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute. I already have a Spray Pal. Isn’t it just a cloth diaper sprayer splatter shield for protecting my bathroom and walls from the poop splatter? What does this have to do with potty training?” Well, let me tell you. One of our amazing fans gave us an idea for repurposing the Spray Pal splatter shield after your boys are out of diapers! She has a 4 year old who wakes up in the night to use the bathroom all by himself, which is fantastic, until she wakes up in the morning and wonders why her bathroom smells like urine. Turns out in his half asleep state, he is standing in front of the toilet and just spraying away aimlessly, lol. So she suggested putting the Spray Pal in the toilet as pictured before bed, then it will continue to serve its purpose as the perfect splatter shield even while you sleep!

Little Jimmy can wake up and go to the bathroom as always, and mom can wake up, quickly spray down the Spray Pal with the diaper sprayer and stick it back in the wetbag to tuck it away until the next night. No more mystery urine smell, no more mess to clean, everybody’s happy! Also, we love that this makes your investment in a Spray Pal and a sprayer last even longer and it’s a way to reuse something you already have! I’m even envisioning people drawing bulls-eye targets at the bottom of the Spray Pal to make learning to aim easy and fun. So, if you didn’t think the Spray Pal was a bathroom must have before, and you have a little boy, you may want to reconsider. ;)

7. Oops! Undies. Prize value $30. These waterproof bamboo underwear for kids are the perfect reusable option for that transition out of diapers. They look and feel just like regular underwear, but they will protect against minor accidents if your little one is having a hard time making it to the bathroom on time. These are great for mid to later stage potty training, but if you already have some natural fiber cloth diaper inserts or doublers at home that you’d like to add for extra protection, you can use these even longer! Available in sizes for ages 2-7.

8. Easy Daysies Get Dressed and Bathroom Routine Pack. Prize value $18. This handy magnetic schedule is perfect for kids just getting used to the routing of using the bathroom independently. Personally, I think it’s especially great for kids with special needs who really benefit from having each step visually laid out for them. You can tell this was invented by a former teacher, right? ;)

We wish you all the best of luck as we enter this crazy journey together!

Thanks to Jen at Spray Pal for these great tips!

Friday, 22 November 2013

How I Got My Kids to Eat Fruits and Vegetables Without Hiding Them

One of my favorite discoveries this year is my weekly organic fruits and vegetable delivery service.  The seed was planted when my good friend, Liz, told me about her weekly delivery and I was intrigued.  I love to cook and I love good food and I am always striving to eat healthier.  And then I found the Groupon.  It was for $15.00 for the first delivery.  It was a no-brainer.  The first morning I woke up to my delivery outside my front door I was so excited.  I opened the box and emptied it onto the counter.  When the kids woke up and saw it, they were excited too.  The box contained things they loved, things they didn’t love and things they didn’t even know the names of yet.  When I told them that everything was fresh from the farm, they wanted to try it all…even the things they knew they did not like.


We’ve been receiving our delivery since August and every Tuesday morning there is still a race to the front door to get the box and empty it onto the counter.  The kids are still willing to try anything…at least once.  It has also broadened my menu planning.  I will plan meals around what is in the box.  With the exception of my monthly run to Costco for the basics, this leaves me with minimal grocery shopping for the week.


The service we use is Farmfreshtoyou.com.  You can change your schedule or  cancel at any time.  The cost did double after the initial Groupon but I find that it is worth it for my family to eat healthy and we are supporting our local farmers.


Tonight I will be making butternut squash lasagna.  Do you have any yummy vegetable or fruit recipes to share?


Do you receive organic produce delivery service in your area?


IMG_4130 IMG_4131

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Help! We Have a Stereotypical Boy!

My youngest child and I went to the doctor for his five year old well check the other day.  The doctor asked if we were having any specific issues and I answered, “Nothing physical, just behavioral.”  She let out a giggle.  We had three girls before our son.  I had no idea what mothers meant when they said their sons were just so physical and active.  Now, I get it.   We need to “run” our son like a horse so he can burn his physical energy or disaster will strike.  Even after the “run,” we need to keep him engaged at home in a project, a lot free time leads to trouble.  He likes to help around the house.  Lucky for me, his favorite projects are with Dad and usually involve tools…and power tools are even more exciting.    This weekend they decided to take our rusty golf cart apart, sand it down and repaint it.  It’s like vacation time for me.

Another major difference I noticed is that my son has a much more difficult time verbally expressing himself than my daughters.  These days we are really working with him on using his words when he is frustrated.  Yesterday, he started to lose his temper.  I pulled him aside and he told me that I was embarrassing him.  I was so proud of him for communicating that to me.   In turn, instead of just putting him in a time out we explain to him what that issue is so that he understands.  This seems to be working…most of the time.

All the physical things aside, I love my son.  He looked up at me when we were watching a movie the other day and said, “Mom, you are the most beautiful woman in the world.”  Kids always seem to know what to say and when you really need to hear it.



Please like this on Facebook if you have an active boy at home.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

When Volunteering Becomes a Full Time Job

I received an email from AYSO soccer and they are looking for coaches.  Immediately, I thought I might coach my 7-year old daughter’s team if I could get a friend to assist me.  When I mentioned it to my husband, he said, “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”  I don’t really blame him.

A few years ago I was volunteering for everything.  I had two leadership roles; as a mom room for one child’s class and the Girl Scout leader for another child among the many other volunteer jobs I was doing, all with a small toddler at home.  By the end of that year, I was a disaster.  While I enjoyed being with my children and getting to know their peers, there were many parts of the volunteer jobs that were not a lot of fun.  Plus, I still had all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, paperwork, etc. to handle at home.

One of the reasons that I stay home with my children is so that I can provide an organized and calm home life for my children and for my husband.  I want to decorate for every holiday.  I want to have a home-cooked meal on the table most nights.  I want the kids to come home to the aroma of cookies baking in the oven.  This was not happening.

In recent years, I still volunteer a lot in my children’s classrooms but without taking a leadership role.  This allows me more flexibility.  I am also focusing on my children, their academics, extra-circular activities and sports.  Oh, did I mention school projects.  As your children get older, you will see the projects they are assigned and realize there is no way they can complete this projects without help from you and many trips to the craft store.

Kudos to all the moms that step up and take the leadership roles.    It is great experience for moms that are out of the work force because you can put it on your resume if you decide to re-enter the work force one day.  I am sure that I will again take on a leadership role but for now, I will enjoy being a a worker bee instead of a queen bee.


worker beeimages

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Balancing Your Child’s Way to Ride a Bike – Balance Bikes

When is it time to introduce your child to a two-wheeler bike?

Some parents are doing this as soon as their children start to walk!  Yes, the newest way to build your child’s confidence and get them ready to ride a two-wheeler on their own is to get them on a balance bike – a bike without pedals.

The idea may sound a bit farfetched for some, but the idea is catching on FAST!  It’s likely that you have seen these awesome little balance bikes in your neighborhood or at the park.  Kids straddle the seat and power these bikes with their feet as they scoot along, totally in control.  It is not surprising then, to see them learn quickly how to balance and gain confidence in themselves and the idea of riding their bike on their own.

Balance bikes have been popular in Europe for some time and are growing in popularity in the US because of their practical approach to teaching children how to ride bikes – one step at a time.  Mastering balance comes first.

For some, learning to ride a bike can be a daunting task. The idea of learning to balance and pedal at the same time is difficult, even for some adults.  Training wheels were introduced to buffer the challenge of learning two skills at once.  While this sounds like a reasonable way to learn, the reality is that training wheels can be counter-productive and introduce a false sense of confidence.   Children become dependent on these little wheels rather than mastering balance and coordination; essentials to successful bike riding.  Taking the wheels off can lead to defeat and frustration for the child as well as headache and exasperation for parents.

Rather than introducing training wheels just to take them away, it makes sense to leave them out of the equation altogether.  This makes it easier on parents too; less whining, skinned knees and bending over little bicycles.

Joovy thinks balance bikes are the coolest invention for kids and takes the hassle and headache out of teaching a child to ride a bike for mom and dad.  This fun and alternative method makes sense to many modern parents who love that their kids learn faster and in a more positive, confidence-building manner.  When kids learn on a balance bike, they are ready to try the two-wheeler having already mastered the balance part of the equation.

Check out the new Joovy Bicycoo balance bikes for kids 3 years and above.  Kids start slowly by walking over their bike, and before long, they are zipping along at their own pace, full of confidence and independence.

This puts a smile on our face.  Balance baby, balance!

Monday, 24 June 2013

5 Hip Tips for Summer Travel with Kids {Pre Trip}


Summer travel is here and our parenting expert has some simple suggestions that you might take to heart while planning your family’s excursions and trips.

From the git-go, you know the kids are going start asking for goodies (and keep asking) the entire trip. Two weeks before leaving, assign them age appropriate “chores” so they can earn an allowance.  An allowance is great because the kids get excited about having their own money (they have earned), and you won’t have to break your bank during the trip.

While packing always remember less is always more. Pack things you know the kids will wear versus what they may look good in. The last thing you want to do after returning from vacation is a bunch of laundry.

Never forget the sunscreen! Regardless of where you’re going its always important to keep you and your child’s skin protected.  The higher the SPF the better and remember to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours, especially if you are in the water.  Everyone should have a hat and sunglasses too!

On the day you leave, have your kids wear comfortable shoes you know they can walk in easily. There can be lots of walking involved in travel so its important to be as comfortable as possible for the best experience. Even if you live in the desert and can’t imagine wearing a sweater in the summer months, if you’re flying always bring something to cover up your arms on the plane or restaurant just in case!                                                                                                         

Put down the electronics. Kids can be very observant. This is quality time your kids will remember forever. Don’t worry about posting on twitter/facebook or sending that email. Enjoy your vacation with your family without the distractions!

5 Simple Tips for Summer Travel with Kids:

  1. Have them earn their own spending money a couple of weeks leading up to the trip
  2. Remember that less is more when packing!
  3. Pack the sunscreen, hats and sunglasses for everyone!
  4. Wear comfortable shoes and take a sweater!
  5. Put down the electronics!
Thursday, 20 June 2013

Parenting Tips: How to Prepare for a New Sibling

Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 3.20.37 PM

So you’re expecting and the delivery date is drawing near.  How do you ease your child into the big brother or big sister role?  Barb Arnondin of Metroplex Baby and Kids shared some great tips on CBS.  She suggests reading!  There are so many wonderful books, both story and picture books that share about this big new thing.  She also recommends products like baby dolls and Joovy’s toy infant car seat and toy Caboose.  The infant car seat has been crash tested so it is safe for cars.  What better tool than having your child learn how to care for their doll by properly having them ride in a LATCH compliant infant car seat?

Thanks Metro Moms for sharing!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Reassurances to First-time Potty Trainers

Guest post by: Julie Kieras of the blog, A Year With Mom and Dad

I’m a former first-time potty trainer. In about a year or so, I’ll be back in the trenches, potty training my second child.

What I’ve learned from my sixteen month experience (yes, that long!) with my son is: “When they are ready, they are ready.” Our son gave many indicators he was interested in the potty at twenty-two months, but then lost interest about three hundred or so days of the following year!

I spent a lot of time being frustrated, comparing his progress to other children, and worrying something was wrong with him. In the end I learned … it was all okay and very normal. So I’m here to give a few reassurances to first-time parents of toddlers.

It’s okay: if the 72-hour plan doesn’t work for you. It didn’t for me. And I really, really tried it! In fact, in truth, it likely WON’T work unless your child is absolutely ready to potty train. (And you’re not nursing a newborn!).

It’s okay: if your child isn’t ready to potty train at the same time as other children his age. As my motherin-law always told me, “He’s not going to go to kindergarten in diapers.” Likely not!

It’s okay: if your child has an accident just milliseconds after you ask him if he wanted to use the potty.

It’s going to happen. About a million times! Just be consistent and help him attempt to go at regular intervals (upon waking, before meals, bathtime, sleeping are good signal times).

It’s okay: if your child seem unconcerned about whether they are wet or dry. One of these days it will just “click” and they will want to stay dry! Keep being positive about any success. When there are accidents, be matter-of-fact and positive about future success: “Uh-oh, it’s an accident! Next time we’ll get to the potty on time!” There should be no shame in trying to learn this very important life skill!

Look for true indicators your child is ready. Their excitement over a new potty chair and a sticker/reward chart might get you all excited too… but here’s what you should look for:

• Ability to take clothes off independently

• Finding more frequent dry diapers when you change them

• Willingness to sit on the potty for an extended length of time (more than 10 seconds!)

Above all – have fun with potty training. It can be draining and disappointing by turns! But don’t neglect to sing a special song to remind your child to use the potty, create a “potty dance” for successful “go’s,” and praise-praise-praise your child for all their efforts. Even when you do find toilet paper trails through the entire house because they wanted to find you to let you know wiped!

Looking back, most of the times I had to grit my teeth and keep pressing on have dimmed, and I mostly remember his delightful smile when he shouted, “I DID IT!” or “I’m DRY!!”

Then him beckoning me, “Come on, Mommy! Do the potty dance!”

And why not? – because every parent could use a little more dancing, right?

*Note that none of my advice here is to be considered professional or medical advice. I am speaking solely from my own experiences in hopes of helping other parents!

*Note from Joovy:  be sure to check out our potty for your potty training toddler. The Joovy Loo looks good and pairs perfectly with the StepTool for reaching to wash hands!


Wednesday, 15 May 2013


As a mom, we all worry about how our first and only child is going to react to bringing a new baby in the house. Will they love the baby, will the feel neglected, will they be gentle, will they act out? We spend so much time worrying about how this is going to change things for our first born, we spend less time enjoying our pregnancy and those last few weeks alone with the oldest. We do everything we can to try and prepare the oldest for the change that is about to rock their boat, we read parenting books, we buy books to read to them, we talk about it. I found that the best way to prepare my child for bringing in a sibling was make her feel like she was going to play a big role in helping care for the baby.


My oldest is a caregiver, similar to myself and enjoys nurturing things whether it is her absurd stuff animal collection or one of her many babies. Joovy’s Toy Bundle, allows older sibling to mimic mom in caring for a baby. From the car seat that has the correct latch system and can fit on the stroller, to the pack n play for both play time and naps, my oldest is able to do many of the activities that I do with the baby, making the transition a whole lot easier on everyone. Bravo Joovy on not only making products that are helpful to us as parents, but also our little ones who want to be parents as well.


Bump Club Twin Cities


Monday, 25 March 2013

10 Safe and Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids

It’s a known fact that kids spend too much time glued to the TV, computer or video console.

Decades ago parents couldn’t get their kids to come indoors because there was too much
happening outside with kick-ball games, bicycle rodeos, mud pie making, relay races and more.

The warmer weather is almost here, so get ready to get the kids out of the house and moving.
Here are some safe ideas that encourage wholesome, family fun.

1. Have a scavenger hunt – Create a list of things around your home or neighborhood that
the kids can find and send them on a hunt. If you have more than one child, or your child
has friends over, you can make a contest out of it. First one back gets a prize!
2. Play in the sprinkler – Running through the sprinkler is great fun for little kids on a hot
day. You don’t have to worry about the water being too deep, and they love going back
and forth chasing or being chased by the spray.
3. Host relay races – Get a group of kids together and explain to them how the relay race
works. Set up a couple of teams and let the fun begin. This is a great way to work off
4. Play in the sandbox – A large box full of sand in the backyard is still a great play space
for kids. Just add pails, shovels and perhaps a plastic dump truck or two and let the fun
5. Have a backyard picnic – Instead of the usual lunch in the kitchen, pack a lunch and eat
it outside. Sitting on a blanket on the grass and eating lunch with the kids is a wonderful
way to spend some quality time with them.
6. Make fairy homes – Using natural things from around the backyard, the kids can build
little fairy homes. Once they get started, it might be hard to get them to stop.
7. Plant and tend a garden – Kids love planting seeds and watching the garden grow. You
may even get them to eat some of the vegetables they plant, especially if you show them
how to make some of the fantastic kid friendly recipes available online.
8. Make sidewalk art – Grab a bucket of sidewalk chalk, and let your budding artists
express themselves. Kids love drawing pictures on sidewalks and driveways. Blocking
off the driveway for safety is a smart idea if your kids choose to create their art work
9. Play hopscotch – As long as you have the sidewalk chalk out, you may as well draw
a hopscotch court and teach the kids how to play. It’s a popular playground game that
provides kids with fun as well as exercise.
10. Blow bubbles – Have you ever seen a kid encased in a giant bubble? There are all kinds
of bubble makers these days from the little round circle on a stick to the giant bubble
maker that can encase a child. Kids love making bubbles, chasing bubbles, watching
them dissolve and breaking them. Show older kids how to make homemade bubble
solution by mixing 1 part Dawn or Joy, 15 parts distilled water and ¼ part Karo syrup.

There are so many activities for kids to do outdoors. From playing backyard games like Red
Light, Green light to inventing a world of make pretend, encourage your kids to take advantage
of spending time outdoors.

Michelle LaRowe is the editor-in-chief of eNannySource.com. eNannySource.com has been
helping families and nannies find each other since 1994. LaRowe is also the author of Nanny
to the Rescue!, Working Mom’s 411 and A Mom’s Ultimate Book of Lists. She was the 2004
International Nanny Association Nanny of the Year.