Month: October 2019

  • 7 Essential Playroom Spaces (and why you need them)

    So now that we have discussed the importance of play I wanted to share with you some must have spaces that will help encourage active play. While it would be great to have all these in one area of your home to reduce clutter and give kids a space that is solely designated for them (and keep them out of your hair), there are ways to do it without having a dedicated playroom. Consider finding corners of your home to use for different purposes, use part of their bedroom for a calm down corner or reading nook, make the dining room table double as an art space. If you want to make it happen, you can. If you can’t figure it out, email me. Seriously. I will help you. We can FaceTime. I will come to your house (if you’re within driving distance… or if you’re not and want to pay for my flight I wouldn’t turn that down). It’s that important.

    7 Essential playroom spaces and why you need them

    1. Calm down space: I love to have a place where the kids can begin to practice regulating their own emotions. The best way for them to do this is to have a space that is calm and quiet–I love canvas teepees and nest swings that give kids a cozy space for them to decompress.

    Why you need this: One of the most important skills for kids to learn is the ability to identify and manage emotions. This ability is what allows them to learn to cooperate, negotiate, problem solve, manage relationships, persevere through difficult time, handle stress, and make good decisions. Emotional intelligence is key to success in almost all things.

    2. Cozy reading area: This can be a favorite chair, a bean bag, a couple b blankets on the floor and some pillows. I love to have a few floor pillows in our teepee so kids can snuggle up and look at their books. Neither one of them can read yet but it doesn’t change the fact that they LOVE to read. They look at the pictures and tell themselves a story. Developing a love of reading is crucial.

    Why you need this: Did you know that children who are in close proximity to books have higher cognitive, numerical and problem solving skills? Just by having books available you are providing access and helping to develop skills that will continue throughout their life.

    3. Space for gross motor play: Having an open space, a gymnastics mat, or a play mat (we love our Ruggish play mat because it’s two sided, super cushioned, and extremely easy to clean) is a great way to encourage gross motor play. We also love to have items for climbing, jumping and balancing like the Nugget, a piklar triangle, a wobble board or the Gonge Hilltops or Riverstones.

    Why you need this: Gross motor skills are developed by the movement of your large muscles. To encourage the development of these skills kids need a space where they can engage in physical play–running, jumping, and climbing. This type of play allows for kids to develop strength, coordination and confidence.

    4. Sensory table: We actually have four sensory tables because they keep the kids busy and entertained for long periods of time. I love this basic one and we also have this larger one, as well as this one with two containers side by side. My kids love to play with kinetic sand, rice, lentils, water, pebbles, leaves, snow….really you can put anything in there and they will enjoy scooping, dumping, pouring…. just make sure you also buy this little vacuum so they can clean up after any mess they make (mine took a few weeks but now they are mostly good about keeping everything in the actual table).

    Why you need this: Sensory play is play that focuses on stimulating the senses. This types of play helps in brain development and the ability to appropriately process sensory input.

    5. Flat surface for building and fine motor play: This can be a space on the floor or a nice play table. It can even be a table that doubles as a little snack area for the kids like this one. If you don’t have space for another table the dining room table or kitchen counter will do although I would encourage a space that won’t have to be cleaned immediately as kids often create something and want to continue working on it the following day. This space is where kids can play with things like LEGOs, blocks (standard wooden blocks will do!)Magnatilestegu blocks, people and animals figurines (I love wooden peg people because they allow for more creativity).

    Why you need this: Building and fine motor play are crucial for development. Building with things like blocks encouraged development of mathematical and problem solving skills, as well as critical thinking skills. Fine motor play with smaller pieces like LEGOs and figurines help kids develop fine motor skills which are necessary for things like self-feeding, writing, tying shoes, doing buttons and zippers.

    6. Pretend play area: This doesn’t necessarily need to be it’s own area, but you should have somewhere to keep dress up clothes and props kids can use in imaginative play. I personally hate standard “dress up” costumes and prefer more open ended simple things like silks, maybe a few hats, a pair of old sun glasses, a twirly skirt–I also love Hanna Andersson’s Halloween line for “dress up” clothes. You can check their BST on Facebook and often find great used items for pretty cheap!

    Why you need this: Pretend or imaginative play is how kids practice different social and emotional roles in life. It allows little ones to develop an increased awareness of their own thoughts, act out different scenarios and problem solve, and help aid in self-regulation.

    7. Art space: Any flat or vertical surface can work as a place for kids to do art. And I’m not talking about perfectly coordinated Pinterest projects. I’m talking about unrestricted messy creative child led art. Just allow them access to paper, colored pencils, markers, crayons….just no sharpies, they are the devil. Check this out for a list of our must have art supplies for kids of all ages.

    Why you need this: Unrestricted art encourages cognitive development, fine motor practice, creativity and visual processing. This is a great read about the importance of art.

    Check out my recent post that outlines all my favorite toys for encouraging active play

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  • Homemade thieves essential oil blend

    The history behind Thieves oil blend

    Thieves oil blend is a common blend of clove, rosemary, cinnamon, eucalyptus and citrus oils that is often used to help fight germs and boost immunity. The blend is said to be inspired by a 15th century band of thieves who covered themselves in these aromatics so they could steal from people who died of the bubonic plague. None of them contracted the disease, and when they were caught they received a reduced sentence for sharing the secret blend that kept them safe.

    Common household uses for Thieves

    People use thieves blends (all the major essential oil companies make a similar blend) for many things around the home. The most common are diffusing, especially during cold and flu season, mixing with a carrier oil and applying topically if you are getting sick, and using the blend to make a cleaning solution.

    Here are the directions for each of these uses:

    • Diffuse 10-15 drops in a diffuser during cold and flu season. I love this diffuser by doTerra but there are a ton of options that are less expensive or blend better with your decor.
    • Mix with a carrier oil and apply topically (to feet or chest) when sick. I like Plant Therapy fractionated coconut oil–it’s reasonably priced and I love their essential oils. The National Association for Holistic Therapy recommend 3-6 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil for infants and young kids, and anywhere from 15-60 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil for adults (depending on the oil and your level of tolerance–people with sensitive skin would use less)
    • Make an all purpose cleaning solution by adding 10-15 drops per ounce of water and a splash of witch hazel (this acts as an emulsifier and allows the oil and water to mix better) to a glass spray bottle. Use to clean whatever you would normally clean with an all purpose cleaner.

    Oils you will need to make your own Thieves blend

    You will get all kinds of opinions on “the best and highest quality” essential oils–you can do you own research but I have found that there are a few high quality brands that are great and affordable (and on Amazon–yay Prime!) I love Plant Therapy and Aura Cacia is a close second. These are the ones I own and use to make my thieves blend.

    The recipe I use is below. Enjoy and stay healthy!

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  • Top 10 Natural Medicine Cabinet Must Haves

    Fall is here and that means sickness season is back in full swing. As much as we try to keep our kids healthy during cold and flu season it’s inevitable that they will get sick at some point. Below are my top 10 must haves for your medicine cabinet.

    Top 10 Natural Cold and Flu Must Haves

    Elderberry syrup: This is something we try to give the kids daily–as often as we can remember. You can read all about it here. It’s an amazing immune boost, very simple to make (if you choose) and PROVEN to help the body fight cold and flu. If you want to buy it I would recommend this one.

    Dye and alcohol free pain medication: Dye and alcohol are two things kids just don’t need. So when you feel like they need medication choose something that doesn’t contain unnecessary ingredients. For acetaminophen I like Little Remedies and for ibuprofen I get the berry Motrin. Acetaminophen last 4-6 hours and ibuprofen last 6-8 hours. Make sure you only use ibuprofen (the active ingredient in Motrin) for children over 6 months of age. Also, always consult with your pediatrician before giving any medication to your little one.

    Chest rubMaty’s chest rub is my go to because it’s made with all natural ingredients vs the standard Vick’s. We use this on the chest and throat, and also the feet (and then cover with socks).

    Snot sucker: You can either get the popular Nose Frieda (I can’t handle that–too much of a gag reflex) or my favorite the OCCObaby I like the OCCOBaby because it’s battery operated so I don’t have to actually suck out snot and it does seem to get way more gunk out than the Nose Frieda.

    Saline nasal spray: I recommend getting the value pack! This stuff isn’t just for congestion. It’s amazing for coughs too. It helps move everything along. Our pediatrician recommended doing it 5-6 times per day during a virus that presented with a nasty cough. I thought it was excessive but it worked! We usually spray this stuff, wait a few seconds and then do our snot sucker.

    Stomach remedies: Ginger tea, probiotics and Activated charcoal!! All these are medicine cabinet necessities. Stomach viruses are my biggest fear. And it’s almost inevitable that someone (and likely all of you) will come down with a stomach virus during sick season. They are SO ridiculously contagious and just literally the devil.  Ginger tea helps calm the stomach and is great to give kids if they are having trouble keeping fluids down (add some honey, try it iced if they are wanting something cold–sometimes cold drinks are best when the stomach is upset). Probiotics help bump up the good bacteria in your gut to help fight the bad stomach viruses/bacteria making you sick. I do like Mary Ruth’s spray but it is pretty expensive so if you are looking for a less expensive option try this one. Activated charcoal may absorb the bacteria or virus that is causing stomach issues .

    Sore throat relief: Propolis Throat spray for dry cough and sore throats or good old honey–especially if you have Manuka honey–are my go to things for sore throats. I also make my kids a “medicine water” that is 2-3 ounces of hot water, a pinch of cinnamon and a big squeeze of honey. They love it and it helps soothe their sore throats.

    Ear infection relief: Ear infections are often caused by viruses and thus will not respond to antibiotics (antibiotics are strictly for treating bacterial infections). The standard of care USED to be to automatically prescribe antibiotics for ear infections but it not anymore because we are over medicating and developing resistance. Often times ear infections go away “after antibiotics” because they would have gone away anyways on their own. Remember it takes a few days for antibiotics to work, and it takes a few days for the body to natural fight off viruses….That said, Garlic drops for ear pain and infection will go a long way to speed up the process. We also use a warm compress on the ear and take the kids to the chiropractor (no they don’t adjust their necks….).

    Epsom salt: Baths are so relaxing for kids (and adults!). I love to give the kids baths to help them relax, if they are having a hard time going to the bathroom, if they are sick or cranky. Really warm water is an amazing–and underrated–healing treatment. Epsom salt helps rid the body of toxins and relaxes muscles. I love Dr. Teals for myself and they have a kids version that is made with lavender essential oil to help soothe and promote sleep.

    Magnesium: Getting good sleep is one of the BEST ways to allow your body to fight illness. Most of us are lacking magnesium so we give a magnesium gummy and if they are having trouble sleeping or feeling sick we also use magnesium lotion.

    Other medicine cabinet favorites (that aren’t necessarily cold and flu related)

    “Antibiotic” cream made from Manuka honey–great for cuts, scrapes, burns, and splinters.

    PATCH Bamboo bandaids— bandaids made from a natural material that are compostable and biodegradable. I love that they have multiple versions based on the type of boo boo you’re dealing with.

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