Why I Take Toys Away At Christmas

So, before you start to think I am the biggest Christmas Grinch ever, let me explain…

I feel that in our society today, kids can become so easily influenced by marketing and materialism that they can inadvertently get into the mindset of “I want” instead of “I have”. They make lists of wants to give to Santa and their family, knowing that they will magically have presents under the tree for them on Christmas morning. They are not old enough to go out and buy gifts for other people on their own yet and can miss the lesson of giving and receiving. But I have devised a plan to (hopefully) avoid this with my son as he becomes old enough to understand Christmas.

“Our family will write a wish list AND a ‘give list’ for the holidays”

Teaching my son the lessons of giving rather than receiving, and to be grateful for what you have, is my end goal with this plan. (Now mind you, he is only 13 months so this won’t be something we do this year, but plan to when he understands it). At Christmas time when he becomes excited for the newest toy or trinket that everyone has to have, I hope that he can take a minute to look at what he already has and be grateful for it. To see that he already is blessed with many toys that some kids are not fortunate enough to have. So, when he makes his Christmas list for what he wants, he also has to make a list of what he gives. Every year, if he wants to receive toys, he must give away toys. Our family will write a wish list AND a ‘give list’ for the holidays.

Here is how it will work. His wish list to mom and dad must contain 5 kinds of things: a want, a need, something to wear, something to read, and something to do (thank you Pinterest for the brilliant idea!). For every few ‘wants’ he puts on his wish list, he must put one toy/item (something that he already has) on his give list. There may be a toy he has outgrown, or something that he no longer enjoys playing with. That toy will now be a gift to give to another. The items on his give list he will then take himself and donate for another child to receive for the holidays.

Hopefully this will do two things. First I hope that it will instill in him a love to give to others, perhaps those who are not as fortunate as he is. To have him acknowledge that giving to others and seeing the joy it brings them is sometimes the greatest gift of all. Secondly, I hope it will give him cause to reflect on what he really wants and what he already has. Maybe that new toy looks really cool but when he knows he will have to give away one of the toys he already has, it may not be worth it after all.

The magic of Christmas is not the presents themselves, but the joy the present brings. As I have grown, my favorite part of Christmas is seeing the reactions on everyone’s faces as they open their gifts. I want my son to have joy on Christmas morning when he opens his gifts under the tree (because that will be the best gift he could give me). But I also want him to know that he brought that same joy to someone else.

What do you think of doing a ‘give list’? Is there a similar tradition you have in your house for the holidays? Let me know in the comments below!


Baby Sleep Advice (from a sleep expert)

The most common theme throughout motherhood seems to be sleep. When you are pregnant people tell you to sleep now while you can. When you have a newborn people are obsessed with asking if they sleep through the night. As a new mom you always get asked if you are sleeping okay or if you are getting enough sleep (ask again in 20 years right?!?). As a new mom you hear about swaddling, sleep training, sleep methods, co-sleeping etc, etc, etc. You get the idea… sleep is a hot topic when you have kids!
In an effort to help you new moms (and dads) out, I have asked certified sleep consultant, Susie Parker, to answer a few burning questions for us about your little one’s sleep! After all, we know that baby sleeping means you can sleep. If you feel that you need help getting your little one to bed then Susie offers consultations and assistance to sleep deprived moms and dads. Check out her site Sleep Baby Love for more info!
Here were my 5 questions to Susie and her answers:
1.  There seems to be an endless discussion about whether or not to let babies cry-it-out. What do you think about this method, and do you know if it really causes any trauma/negative effects?
“CIO is only one component of sleep training and is not necessarily the only method out there… so parents need to become informed which would work best for them and feel confident in their decisions.  There is a great study out there that shows that babies that were sleep trained were not any different from their non-sleep trained peers at 5 years old and just using common sense of those that you know that are sleep trained, there is no long lasting harm or effect.
If you’re even going to consider sleep training, I suggest taking a look at this article first, since it breaks down everything you need to know.”
2. What would you suggest to transition away from nursing to sleep, and teach baby to self-soothe? Especially when the baby does not take any item for comfort (pacifier, blanket, etc.) except mom.
“Until you’re ready to dive right into sleep training, for a baby who doesn’t know how to fall asleep independently, you just have to think of everything as practice.  So, keep working with your baby to fall asleep independently.  The biggest misconception that I had is that my baby shouldn’t ever cry… and I took that literally.  So every time she squeaked, I went in to soothe her.  If you give your baby a little space (even if it’s a minute or two), the act of self settling becomes a little easier.  The pick up/put down method is also a great way that you can start gently giving your child independent skills.”
3.  Is there anything that can be done to help with sleep regressions, most notably the dreaded 4 month sleep regression?
“There will always be set backs with sleep, even for the best sleepers!  The 4 month sleep regression is so substantial because it’s due to developmental changes in your baby, most notably your baby becoming more aware.  So if you’re nursing or rocking your baby to sleep you may find that it takes much longer to get into that deep sleep.  So now is a great time to keep working on independent skills and having your baby sleep in their own room.  I have other great advice (and don’t forget to download your survival guide).”
4. What is your favorite piece of advice you love to give (about sleep) that most people don’t know?
“Sleep challenges don’t end with babies!  For many parents (even though they had the best sleeper), there are many reasons that sleep can take a nosedive once they become a toddler and preschooler.  The same techniques that I use for sleep training can be used, but you have to incorporate your child into the plans that you make for the best success.  For example, you can create a great bedtime routine that your child has some say in to make sleep fun.  Always keep the positive spin on sleep.  Make sure to get your preschooler sleep made easy checklist.”
5. What is the one thing you get asked about most, and what is your response?

“There are many questions about sleep!!!  But, I think that regardless what the answer is – I always say do what works for you.  If sleeping with your child is working for your family, no worries.  If getting up many times throughout the night works, don’t worry about it!  It’s when it stops working and people ask for advice, they don’t always like the answers I give (since it involves some type of sleep training and people don’t realize that there are gentler methods out there).  Regardless, as a parent you should never do something because a sleep consultant, friend or family told you to do something.  Do it because you believe it’s the best way to make your family happier and healthier.”


I hope that Susie’s Q&A helped some of you! If you feel like you still have burning questions or really need some one on one help, visit her website Sleep Baby Love, she will be so glad to hear from you! You can also follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram

Sweet dreams tonight everyone…

15 Life Lessons I Want To Teach My Son

As a parent, one of my biggest aspirations is to instill a sense of values and morals in my son and teach him everything I can. You want to impart the best of everything you know in them so they can grow up to be a wonderful person. Even though my son is still an infant, I already know there are certain lessons that I want to teach him and hope that he uses to become a great man one day. Here are 15 lessons that I want to teach my son as he grows.

1) I will always love you no matter what.

Your dad and I will always love you unconditionally. All your triumphs and all your mistakes can’t change our love for you. You have changed our hearts forever and nothing you could ever do could take that away.

2) Know that you can come to me and your dad for anything at any time no matter what it is or how old you get.

I never want you to feel scared or afraid to come to me about anything. No matter what you may have done, or may be feeling, I will always be here for you. And not just when you are little, but for your whole life. No matter how big you get remember that you will always be my little boy and you can come to me with all of your joys and sorrows.

3) Always treat others as you wish to be treated.

If you would not want someone to do something to you, then do not do it to someone else. This works in the reverse as well. If you know that you enjoy something or that something makes you happy then odds are that it will also make someone else happy. Do things for others that you would want done for yourself. Giving joy is just as great as receiving it.

4) Show empathy and respect to everyone.

Having empathy will allow you to relate better to others and therefore treat them with care and kindness. Try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they are feeling or what they are going through. You also need to respect everyone. This does not necessarily mean that you have to agree with everyone or look up to everyone. Rather, it means showing them the respect that they deserve as a human being with beliefs and thoughts, even if they may be different from yours.

5) Never change yourself for someone else, always be true to who you are.

There are a lot of influences in this world telling you to be like someone, act like something, or do something a certain way. It can be hard to fight what society tells you to be sometimes, but remember that you don’t have to be someone you aren’t. In some cases it is harder to be true to yourself but it is always the most rewarding to do so.  Never change who you are just to fit in.

6) Find what makes you happy and surround yourself with it.

I hope that you are always happy. Having a happy life and happy surroundings is so important. Try new things, experience new adventures; take that in life which makes you happy, and surround yourself with it. Maybe it will mean living in a certain city, hanging your favorite photograph/art in your house, stocking your fridge with your favorite dessert, playing your favorite video games (like your daddy), or just reading your favorite book.

7) Always think positively.

Having a positive mind set is a choice. Sometimes it is a hard one, but that is when you may need it the most. Being positive and having a positive outlook on life is vital to happiness, living stress-free, and finding peace. If you focus on the negative and surround yourself with negativity (this includes people) then it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Negativity can drag you down and eat away at your soul. Try to look at the world with a positive lens.

8) Respect women in all regards. Period.

Treat women like your equal (because they are). Know that a woman can do anything you can do (and maybe do things better in some cases). And when it comes to a woman you are dating, you are to treat her with respect at all times; respect her mind, respect her body, and respect her wishes.

9) Chivalry is never dead.

This is not to say that women are inferior. Nor does it mean that if you show women chivalry that you are inferior to them. Rather, it shows that you are kind, that you care, and that you are a person who can go out of their way to help. Treat women like they are special to you, because they should be.

10) Don’t follow blindly.

Don’t let others make up your mind for you. Take enough initiative in life to experience/learn/investigate things on your own to make decisions for yourself. Question things in life; ask “why”. Don’t adopt the thoughts of others because that is what you are familiar with, or that is what is convenient, or you don’t want to go against someone. Be true to yourself and form your own opinions and beliefs.

11) Be responsible with money.

Life is not just about money, but money can make you comfortable. It is important to be careful with your money so that you can do what you want in life. Always be responsible with the money; make budgets and stick to them, always keep an emergency savings fund, pay your bills on time, and never go into debt to buy things you want but can’t afford.

12) Know how to do all the chores in the house.

You won’t live with me and your dad forever, and we won’t be doing everything for you when you get older. When you are on your own you will need to know how to take care of yourself and your house. Even when you get married, men and women should share the responsibility of housework equally; you never want to have to depend on anyone anyway.

13) Live in a clean house, don’t be dirty.

Your surroundings effect your emotional and mental state so surround yourself with a clean, fresh, and inspiring home. Living in a dirty, messy house just creates chaos and you won’t be able to enjoy your time there. Your house should always be a place of relaxation, serenity, and calm.

14) Unplug.

I know your generation will probably do everything from a wireless device permanently attached to your body, but unplug as much as you can. Remember to get outside, read paper books, write in a journal with a pen, look people in the eye and have a face-to-face conversation. The world will not disappear if you turn your phone off, and the world can also get by just fine if you don’t share your entire life on social media.

15) Learn how to cook for yourself.

This one should be fairly easy. Because your dad is a chef I am sure that you will learn all kinds of skills to be a great cook in the kitchen. Don’t rely on eating out for your meals. Cooking will allow you to eat more healthy, and also create meals that you love! Take it from your mom who is a terrible cook (even though your dad tries hopelessly to teach me) that cooking a delicious meal for yourself is a great skill.