How to Make Cute and Easy Burp Cloths in an Afternoon

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As a crafty mom, I can’t always carve out big or ongoing chunks of time to work on a creative project. That’s just a fact of where I am in life right now with other obligations. I do, however, love it when a project comes up that’s pretty straightforward and can be completed in a finite block of time.

Cute Easy burp cloth tutorial

One such project found me ready recently! My sister-in-law, Kara, wanted us to sew some baby burp cloths using cloth diapers. I’m in! She had found some examples of what she had in mind on Pinterest, where cute fabric was sewn onto the middle panel of a tri-fold cloth diaper. So, we spent some time looking and taking the best of the patterns we found online. I like to think we chose the best elements of what we looked at!

Quick and Easy Burp Cloth Tutorial

1. Select your fabrics.

This part was so much fun! Kara and I headed to Joann’s and immersed ourselves in darling patterned flannel. There were so many to choose from, so we decided on a theme and then found coordinating fabrics. We opted for three different patterns for each set we made, but you could do as many as you want. Kara had gotten cloth diapers in packages of 10 for about $13.00, with each diaper measuring about 20 inches long by about 15 inches wide. We got ¼ of a yard of each patterned flannel, planning to get at least two burp cloths out of each. (The fabric we got was 42” wide, so that was just about perfect!)

Cute Easy burp cloth tutorial

2. Pre-wash the diapers and flannel.

There was some discrepancy among the patterns we found online, but we did pre-wash both the diapers and flannel and were very glad we did! Both the diapers and flannel shrunk, and it would have been bad sending them through the wash after the fact.

Cute Easy burp cloth tutorial

3. Measure the diaper panel to determine how big to cut the flannel.

I opted for a ½ inch seam allowance, so we measured 1 inch more than each dimension. The “art of sewing” came into play here, as the diapers didn’t all shrink exactly the same, so I had to modify as I went. Generally speaking, though, the diapers were about 18 inches long with the middle panels measuring 4-5 inches wide.

4. Cut flannel into long rectangles.

Using the measurements above, we cut the flannel into 20-inch x 6-inch rectangles.

Cute Easy burp cloth tutorial: ironing

5. Fold edges of flannel under ½ inch and press.

This step is pretty straightforward, but the one tip I would add is to cut your corners on the diagonal where the side and edge folds overlap. This gets rid of some of the extra bulk of the material and makes it easier to sew. It also helps it to lie flat.

cut the corners

Cute Easy burp cloth tutorial

6. Pin the flannel to the diaper.

Pin the flannel to the center panel of the diaper. I looked at both sides of the diaper and chose the least visually appealing side to attach the flannel.

7. Stitch the flannel to the diaper.

With the right side of the flannel facing you, topstitch the flannel to the diaper. I used an inside edge of the presser foot as my guide, but generally, just stitch as close to the edge of the flannel as you can. (Don’t look too closely at the picture below–my sewing was far from perfect, but overall they turned out great!) Don’t forget to either backstitch your start and finish points or overlap your stitching once you’ve gone around the entire piece of flannel.

sewing the flannel

8. Iron

Give the finished burp cloth a quick once-over with the iron, and voila! You have an easy, cute, handmade burp cloth to keep for yourself or to give as a thoughtful baby gift at a baby shower.

Cute Easy burp cloth tutorial


Do you have an easy craft that can be done in an afternoon?

The Iowa Caucus: Where to Go + What to Expect

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Iowans: we are in the home stretch! The final days of the Iowa caucus season are upon us. While I’m sure many of you will be grateful that the endless ads, door knocking, and phone calls are about to end, I will be sad to see the circus pack up and leave town.

I truly enjoy caucus season.

I believe we are privileged as Iowans to have the opportunity to see and meet so many of our presidential candidates and their surrogates during the caucus season.

Plus, it’s a great educational opportunity for our kids!

The Iowa Caucus: Where to go and what to do

So what’s it like when the big night finally arrives? There’s no easy answer; caucusing in Iowa isn’t the same as stepping into a voting booth and filling out a private ballot. The process is different depending on which party you’re caucusing with. In addition, the Iowa Democratic Party has implemented some changes to the rules in order to increase transparency and reduce confusion about how results are tabulated.


What to Expect at the Iowa Caucus

Although each party has a different process, the endgame is the same for both: each candidate wants to finish the night with the highest number of delegates possible.

If you’ve never caucused before, here’s what you can expect.

Republican Caucus

The Republicans’ process is fairly simple. The caucus will be called to order promptly at 7:00 p.m. Usually the caucus chair will invite attendees to speak briefly in support of their favorite candidate. Once all speeches have concluded, eligible attendees will be given a piece of paper to write down or mark their vote. After everyone has filled out their secret ballot, the votes are tabulated and announced to the room. The final results will be reported to the county, then the state. The candidate with the most votes statewide wins the Iowa Caucus, and the most delegates.

Democratic Caucus

The Democratic process is a bit more complicated. Here’s an overview of their procedure, in a nutshell.

1. Check In

In order to participate in the caucus, attendees must be in line by 7:00 p.m. This doesn’t mean you have to be checked in by 7:00, you just need to be in line by that time. If you arrive after 7:00, you will not be allowed to participate. Doors will be open by 6:30 (although most sites begin line-up and check-in as early as 5:00.) Be sure to allow plenty of time to arrive and get checked in.

2. Preliminary Candidate Preference

Upon arrival, caucus-goers will divide into preliminary candidate preference groups. The caucus chairs will conduct a count of how many attendees are in the room to determine the viability threshold for candidates. Getting an accurate count of attendees is extremely important as it determines candidate viability. The candidate viability threshold is set at 15% of the eligible attendees in the room.

3. Preference Cards

One of the new procedures this year involves candidate preference cards. The caucus chairs will distribute the cards to all the participants in the room. Participants will write down their first choice on the front of the card. The caucus chairs will collect the cards and tally the numbers.

4. Candidate Viability

If a participant’s first candidate choice meets the viability threshold, the results are locked in place. (This is another big change from previous years. In the past, members of larger preference groups could move to non-viable group in order to help less viable candidates earn more delegates.) Anyone in a viable group on the first alignment is done and is free to go if they choose. If a participant’s first choice is NOT viable on the first alignment, they have the choice of joining one of the viable groups. The participant would then note their second choice on the card and move to the viable group. (This is why it’s wise to have a first and a second candidate in mind before you attend).

5. Delegates

Delegates are awarded based on the number of people in the preference groups. The results are reported to the county and the state, and the candidate with the highest number of delegates wins the Iowa Caucus. Participants are free to leave at this point, unless they are interested in participating in the county party business that follows.

6. Other Business

After the results are tabulated, the caucus chairs will move on to other party business. This includes electing members to the county central committee as well as electing individuals to committees relevant to the county nominating convention. These activities are optional.


Can I Bring Kids?

Kids are absolutely welcome at Iowa caucus sites. Most sites are relatively kid-friendly–schools, churches, public buildings, etc. Some sites even have special rooms or areas set aside for kids. If you’re not at a site with a designated kids’ area, be sure to bring plenty of toys, snacks and supplies to keep the kids entertained. It might even be a good idea to bring your kids in their pajamas if the caucus is close to their bedtime.

While not as simple as a primary, the Iowa Caucus is a unique and personal opportunity to be a truly active participant in the democratic process.

Through meetings with neighbors in churches and schools across our great state, Iowans have the chance to shape the course of nation’s history.

It’s not to late to get involved! You can find more information and your precinct location here (Democrat) or here (Republican).


 

Iowa City Preschool Guide 2020

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Iowa City Moms Preschool Guide 2020

Welcome to the Iowa City Moms Preschool Guide 2020! Searching for the right place for your child to learn and grow can be overwhelming, but we are here to help. There are an abundance of preschools, child care centers, and in-home programs to choose from in our area, but we hope this guide will provide you with the information you need to find the best fit for your family.

MONTESSORI SCHOOL OF IOWA CITY

Montessori School of Iowa City

Ages:

Pre-Primary program: 2 years old
Primary program: ages 3-6

Hours of Operation:

Monday–Friday
Half-Day Primary and Pre-Primary Program (3-6 years of age)
8:30 a.m.–11:25 a.m.
Full-Day Primary and Pre-Primary Program
8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
Before Program 7:30–8:15 a.m.
After-school Program 3:15–6:00 p.m.

Enrollment Info:

A child can be registered to enroll in the Montessori School of Iowa City at any time before attending the school. The earlier a child is registered, the more likely he/she will secure a position. Registration requires a parent or guardian to complete a registration form and submit it with a non-refundable registration fee. Parents are encouraged to observe the school as part of the decision-making process. The registration procedure places the child in a waiting pool for enrollment.

Children entering the Primary program must be fully toilet trained. Discounts are available for multiple children from one family. Please ask for details. Class ratios are 10:1 for the Primary program and 6:1 for the Pre-Primary program.

The Montessori School of Iowa City’s mission is to provide authentic Montessori education that serves the child’s intrinsic motivation to learn and is inclusive, sustainable, and holistic. The Montessori School of Iowa City was founded in 1962 by a group of parents seeking a Montessori-based educational program for their children. The Montessori method of education was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy’s first female physician. Fundamental to all of Dr. Montessori’s ideas is a deep respect for a child’s ability to learn. This innate potential to learn is dependent upon a loving environment that encourages the active pursuit of knowledge.

Classroom Lead teachers are certified by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education. Each classroom has a Lead teacher and an Assistant teacher. All staff members are required to pass background checks and are trained in CPR and First Aid as required by DHS. We value excellence in teaching the whole child customized to each student’s intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs and abilities. In addition to an authentic Montessori prepared environment in each classroom, we also offer specialized instruction in Spanish and Music.

MONTESSORI CHILDREN'S GARDEN AND NURSERY

Montessori Children's Garden and Nurtury

Ages:

6 weeks to 6 years

Hours of Operation:

7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Enrollment Info:

The Montessori Children’s Garden and Nursery accept registrations at any time of the year. Enrollment is offered in summer and fall for the preschool program and offered as openings become available for the nursery program. Our schools value small class sizes and follow Iowa DHS ratio guidelines.

The Montessori Children’s Garden is a Montessori preschool offering full and half day options for children ages 3-6. We offer activities in the areas of math, language, practical life, sensorial, science, geography, art, and weekly music and Spanish classes. Classes are led by fully certified and experienced Montessori teachers.

The Montessori Children’s Nursery is a school for infants and toddlers guided by the educational philosophy of Maria Montessori. Each child is encouraged to explore in a beautiful and orderly environment with materials carefully chosen for their educational purpose and sensory qualities. These values occur within a safe and supportive environment organized by experienced, Montessori trained teachers.

Garden: 319-665-9625

Nursery: 319-626-2608

PREUCIL PRESCHOOL

Ages:

Ages 3-5

Hours of Operation:

M-F 8:15-3:30

Classes: We offer 2-day (T/Th), 3-day (M/W/F), and 5-day (M-F) options.

We hold morning (9:00 – 1:00), afternoon (12:30  3:30), and full day (9:00 – -3:30). We have an early drop-off option.

Enrollment Info:

Children must be 3 years of age and toilet trained. Registration is ongoing and takes place year round. It is usually possible to make an offer to everyone on the list. It is beneficial to get your placement form/fee in early if you want a specific program (2-, 3- or 5-days). Placement for fall begins in January/February.

We are a play-based fine arts preschool, inspired by the Reggio approach and the Suzuki Method. We focus on creativity, imagination and exploration. Our goal is to help each child grow and learn in all areas of human experience as it fosters cooperation, caring, confidence, action, intellect, knowledge, beauty, and inherent motivation.

The Reggio Emilia schools were developed in Italy post WWII by parents and educator Loris Malaguzzi. The schools have become world renown for their innovative methods and were named by Newsweek as one of the ten best schools in the world. Preucil embraces this approach in our arts-rich and engaging environment.

Children learn best through play and hands-on activities in which they are active participants. We approach learning in a spontaneous, playful manner. Project based learning and emergent curriculum are interwoven to create a curriculum that values children’s ideas and promotes in-depth investigation of those ideas. Music and art are offered daily with trained teachers. In music, children work on basic musical skills and most importantly, experience the joy of music. Our art studio is available daily for children to explore—it is a haven for their creative risks and whimsy. Children explore the world and its natural phenomena in our spacious playground. Sand, mud, water, grass, logs and stones are just a few of the natural materials that are accessible. Developing friendships and the important social skills of negotiation and compassion happens as we learn and play together.

Class sizes number between 16 and 19. Each class has a lead teacher and one or two aides, an available full-time art teacher and a daily music class taught by a music teacher. Preucil Preschool has been celebrating children’s interests, ideas, and curiosities since 1976.

CHRIST THE KING CHRISTIAN PRESCHOOL

Ages:

3-5 year olds

Hours of Operation:

Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Enrollment Info:

Our preschool year begins in September and ends in May with registration for the fall beginning in February. We also accept applications throughout the school year as long as there are still openings. Students can be placed on a waiting list if the preschool classes are full. Families can choose 2, 3, or 5 mornings a week. Children must be toilet-trained. Low student-teacher ratios.

Christ the King Preschool strives to lay the foundation for skills that will last a lifetime. We provide a nurturing environment to further learning, social skills, and spiritual growth. Our play based program focuses not only on academic activities such as reading, science, arts, and music, but also places importance on teaching young children how to work well with others. Christ the King Preschool is Christian-based, but is open and welcoming to all faiths.

PURPLE BLOOM SCHOOL

Purple Bloom School

Ages:

Pre-K for ages 3-5

Overall school for ages 6 weeks to 6th grade

Hours of Operation:

7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday

Enrollment Info:

Call 319.338.3873 or 319.431.4604 or email [email protected] to schedule a tour get receive our application packet!

Purple Bloom houses three Pre-K rooms for ages 3-5! We offer social/emotional focused play-based learning including yoga, gym class, music class, and LOTS of outdoor play! All levels of potty training accepted from diapers to potty experts for Pre-K! Not quite ready for kinder? Bridge year program for 5 year olds also available!

WILLOWWIND MONTESSORI PRESCHOOL

Ages:

3-5 years of age and fully potty trained at enrollment.

Hours of Operation:

Full-time Preschool M-F 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Part-time Preschool M-F 8:30-11:30 a.m.
Before School Program M-F 7:30-8:30 a.m.
After School Program M-F 3:30-6:00 p.m.

Enrollment Info:

Willowwind welcomes applications throughout the year, enrolling students as space allows. Prospective families can expect to have a school tour and classroom visit as part of the enrollment process. Preschool classes are capped at between 18-20 students with two teachers per room ensuring a personalized experience for each child. Families may opt to go on a waiting list when enrollment is full.

Willowwind’s Montessori Preschool offers an engaging educational experience based upon the teachings of Maria Montessori. The goal of Willowwind’s preschool program is to teach the whole child, equally guiding their physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth. Students learn through observation, hands-on exploration, and modeling of peers and teachers.

Lead teachers are Montessori certified with backgrounds in early childhood education. Teachers guide children through self-paced learning using personalized materials to suit each child’s specific needs. The core Montessori curricular areas are Practical Life, Sensorial Development, Science, Language, Mathematics, Arts and Culture, and Grace and Courtesy. Along with these curricular areas, students also engage in regular social-emotional learning, as well as specials classes like physical education, art, and music.

Willowwind’s Montessori Preschool is committed to helping each child discover their unique strengths and talents in a learning environment that embraces exploration and questioning. Willowwind School develops passionate and confident individuals who value empathy, independence, community, and responsibility. Students value mutual respect, cooperation, and collaboration in classrooms where lasting and rewarding relationships are built.

We encourage families to investigate, explore, and enjoy the spirit of learning that takes place at Willowwind’s Montessori Preschool! Contact us to schedule your tour today. See you soon!

LA MONTESSORI NURTURY DAY SCHOOL

La Montessori Nurtury

Ages:

6 weeks-6 years

Hours of Operation:

6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Enrollment Info:

La Montessori Nurtury enrolls on an ongoing basis. Call or email to schedule a tour. We have full time and part-time (Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday) options. All options are inclusive of an unlimited amount of hours between 6:30 am and 5:30 pm and include breakfast, lunch and snack.

La Montessori Nurtury is excited to welcome your child to our unique Preschool Program, featuring experienced teachers; a peaceful, no-clutter environment; child-led learning; unique enrichment activities; and an incredible outdoor area for learning and play.

LMN offers an authentic Montessori experience that is also fresh and convenient for today’s busy families in an ever-changing world. The timeless Montessori method encourages the natural inclination of children to be independent and to learn. By allowing children to freely explore their carefully-prepared environment, teachers nurture their natural curiosities in each curricular area, while also encouraging meaningful participation in the life of their family, community, and school.

At LMN, teachers create individualized learning plans for each student in the curricular areas of practical life, geography and cultural studies, sensorial, math, science, and language. There is emphasis on cultivating grace and courtesy, fostering a sense of community in the classroom, and preparing students for life beyond our walls. In the Montessori philosophy, the classroom is viewed as a microcosm of society—that is, a little community itself—so LMN strives to bring the modern world in. Foreign language classes are part of our cultural curriculum component. Fun activities are planned to teach about age- appropriate current events and families are encouraged to share about their cultural traditions and travel experiences. We also partner with local organizations and professionals to complement our classroom studies, familiarizing our children more with our Corridor community.

To provide convenient extracurricular opportunities, on-site enrichment classes are offered for children ages 2-6 years old including soccer, gymnastics, cooking class, yoga, and dance.

A Pre-K Enrichment program is included for 4-5 year olds in our preschool classes. This is a small group that meets three times weekly to focus on kindergarten readiness. The focus is on challenging children in the areas of language, science, and mathematics. Monthly plans are provided for the Pre-K parents outlining concepts and methods used.

PERFORMING ARTS PRESCHOOL AT NOLTE ACADEMY

nolte logo

Ages:

3-5 years of age.

Students should be toilet-trained.

Hours of Operation:

Preschool 9:00 a.m. until Noon
Extended hours from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Enrollment Info:

Performing Arts Preschool accepts applications through the school year, enrolling students as space allows. Placement for fall begins in February. Preschool classes are capped at 16 students, offering a 8:1 teacher ratio. Each preschool room has a lead teacher and an assistant teacher. There are also designated music and art instructors who teach small-group lessons each day.

As parents and educators, we’ve noticed the recent trend toward a focus on letters and numbers in preschool. This seems to come at the expense of vital social, physical and creative development during our children’s most crucial early learning window. The CREATE Curriculum, designed by the Performing Arts Preschool faculty, is finely tuned to the developmental stages of preschoolers, and nurtures analytical and creative learning.

We seek to develop the whole child — mind, body and spirit — while fostering academic readiness and creative abilities through a deeply enriching fine arts curriculum.

Other Reader-Recommended Preschools

Iowa City

Apple Tree Children’s Center

Christ the King Christian Preschool

Discovery Cottage Preschool

Good Shepherd Preschool

Kinderfarm

Kirkwood School for Children

La Petite Academy

Lion Heart Early Learning Center

Mary Jo Small Child Care at Brookland Woods

Our Redeemer Preschool

Parkview Preschool

Preucil School of Music

Regina Early Childhood Center

Stepping Stones Preschool

Sunshine Daycare & Preschool

Treebrook Preschool

University Preschool

Willowwind School

Coralville

Academy of Early Learning

Creation Kids Preschool (Coralville Location)

Grace Garden Preschool and BASP

Handicare Inc. Daycare Center

Helping Hands Playschool

Love-A-Lot Early Childhood Center

Montessori School

Nolte Performing Arts Preschool

Prince of Peace Christian Preschool

Simple Abundance

North Liberty

Corridor Christian Early Learning Center

Creation Kids Preschool (North Liberty location)

Heritage Christian School

Montessori Children’s Garden

North Liberty Community Preschool

Purple Bloom Preschool

Tiffin

Graceland Preschool

Solon

All Aboard Daycare/Preschool

Lakeview Preschool

Play & Learn Preschool

Swisher/Shueyville

All God’s Children Preschool

The Good Earth

West Branch

Hoover Elementary Pre-K

West Branch Community Early Learning Center

Multiple Locations

ICCSD preschool programs

Head Start through HACAP

Local mamas – Do you love your child's preschool?

We’d love to include it in our guide! Let us know about your favorite local preschool, and help other mamas who are in the process of looking. 

Would you like your program to be included in our Preschool Guide?

We want to show our readers all the great preschools available in the Iowa City area. Partnering with us allows your business greater visibility with a large targeted market of local families. Join us and help enrich the lives of Iowa City Moms!

Top 8 Insta-Mamas: Instagram Moms to Follow in 2020

I’ll admit it . . . I’m a social media junkie. I’m the mom who is constantly posting photos of my kiddos, our travels, and the chaos of our daily lives. I enjoy seeing what my friends and family are up to back in the States now that we’re living overseas. No, my life doesn’t revolve around the constant scrolling and clicking away of Facebook and Instagram 24/7, but I do check in to see what everyone is up to–especially fellow mamas! I want to see if I’m the only one that is trying to survive the craziness of motherhood. 

Instagram mamas to follow in 2020

I recently started to add more “mama inspiration” to my Instagram following. I never would have expected to get so much perspective from complete strangers, but these “insta-famous” mamas remind me (often) that I’m not alone. Whether I’m in need of advice, a quick laugh, or a “power through the storm” story, these Instagram moms have displayed their lives for all to see in a way that many can relate to . . . especially me. 

Top 8 Instagram Mamas of 2020

Instagram Mamas to follow

Laura Izumikawa

@Lauraiz, also known as Laura Izumikawa. I came across her Instagram feed because of her hilarious and sweet photos of her daughter Joey napping in the most clever costumes. She became instantly famous with her photographs and published a book in 2017 called “Naptime with Joey“. Although she became famous for her creative photographs, her Instagram feed is SO much more as she gives an inside look at her California based family.

Jessica Shyba

@mamagonecity, also known as Jessica Shyba. Just like @lauraiz, I came across Jessica’s feed because of her photographs and published book “Naptime with Theo and Beau“. I immediately fell in love with her rescue dog, Theo, and his instant connection with his human, Beau. What can I say . . . I’m a sucker for adorable puppies and even cuter babies. Although Beau is grown up now and has outgrown his nap times with his furry companion, I still find Jessica’s feed empowering. She’s pretty hardcore and is EXTREMELY brutally honest, which I absolutely love.

Cat Sims

@notsosmugnow, also known as Cat Sims, is a Brit known for her advice on parenting, relationships, and mental health. This woman has helped me tremendously, and I find myself constantly nodding “yes” to everything she says about marriage. Each post she makes is a story rather than a quick or cheeky update/status, and she’s not afraid to share even the hardest of truths.

Kristen Bell

@momsplaining, also known as Kristen Bell. She and her husband Dax Shephard are one of my FAVORITE celebrity couples, so not only do I follow her personal account but also this parenting account. If you need a constant laugh, this is the right one for you. This feed includes everything from videos, hilarious photos, and even funnier stories about parenting.

Jennifer Anderson

@kids.eat.in.color, also known as Jennifer Anderson, MSPH, RDN, is a nutritionist who is helping parents on Instagram with their picky eaters. In addition to helpful tips to get kids to eat their veggies, her posts are aesthetically pleasing, easy to follow, and extremely fun and helpful.

Elizabeth Willard Thames

@frugalwoods, also known as Elizabeth Willard Thames, is a financial blogger. Her account is all about living a life with financial independence. In a world where many pursue a life of trying to buy happiness, it is inspiring to find a couple who gave it all up to focus on family and health. Follow along with her family in Vermont and learn how to live a simpler and less stressful lifestyle.

Don’t forget the local insta-mamas!

Michele Langseth

@Vanillabeansanddaydreams, also known as Michele Langseth, is a local cookie artist in North Liberty. Her yummy creations will AMAZE you as she literally whips up cookies based on our favorite book characters, movies, and holiday themes. Follow along and see how she creates her delicious masterpieces and even purchase an order for your next event. 

Iowa City Moms

Last but not least: @iowacitymomsAs our mission states, “We’re passionate about our community and the moms who live here! We connect Iowa City area moms online & offline with local content, resources, and events.” Get to know us more on Instagram as you follow a new corridor area mama each day . . . including ME!

If you haven’t already, hop on over and start following these great Instagram moms now!


 

Mom Dates: Getting Together Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

I let my Costco membership lapse. I don’t know about you, but my children seem to suffer from the Costco problem–they tell me they like something, so I go buy a lot of that item in bulk, and then they decide they don’t like it anymore. Or Costco will have the thing that they like, but not quiiite the right version (heaven forbid I get the wrong flavor of PopTart).

I still like to go sometimes, though, and I’m lucky, because I have a mom friend with a membership who is willing to take me on dates.

To Costco.

mom dates to costco

This may sound really boring to some.

Who wants to go hang out with their friend at Costco?

Wouldn’t it be better to go to a Girls’ Night Out? (Maybe one of the many put on by Iowa City Moms?)

Well, sure. But those aren’t always easy to plan. Going to Costco? An easy thing to do. You can fit it in on a Saturday afternoon, if you’re willing to risk the crowds. And it’s a way to make what can be at tedious chore like grocery shopping more fun.

Our kids like to play together. We like to play together. But we also need to get to the business of doing Mom Stuff. 

Anything is more fun with a friend.

Hmm, maybe if I ever started cooking, I could do that with a friend, too!

mom dates to costco
Riding bikes is also fun, but there are fewer free samples

 

A Simple Question: Asking About Guns Before Playdates

On December 14, 2012, a mass shooting occurred that shook me to my very core. Why was I so affected? I didn’t know any of the victims or their families. Until that day, I’d never even heard of Newtown, Connecticut. But I was terrified, and since that tragic day, I have carried the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting with me every day of my life, and that is why I always ask about guns before playdates.

An image of question marks for Asking About Guns Before Playdates

What made Sandy Hook different than other school shootings?

I had a 22-month-old baby at home. It’s pretty remarkable how your outlook on everything changes when you first discover that a piece of your heart beats outside of you, within your child.

The very next day, I took my baby to tour a preschool for the first time. Instead of questions about diet and naps, and learning experiences and potty training, I was asking questions about safety and emergency protocols and escape plans. I could not have cared less about what they fed her, but I had to know who was permitted into the building and who would have access to my child. All great questions that should be asked, but I probably wouldn’t have thought much about them had we toured that preschool on December 13th instead.

That 22-month-old baby is now almost nine years old and has a far more robust social life than I have ever had. My calendar is filled with her social engagements–play dates and birthday parties, and sleepovers. While I am not nearly as frantic as I was touring that preschool back in 2012, I do still ask questions about gun safety whenever she is going to be visiting a new home for the first time. What the questions are depends on the context of the visit and how well I know the parents, but there is one question I will always, always, always ask:

Do you keep any guns in your home, and if yes, how are they stored?

That’s it. Just a “simple” yes or no question . . . that rarely feels simple as I am about to hit send on that email or text message. When I first started asking, I would become unbelievably nervous. I would preface the question with apologies and explanations, but as time progressed, I’ve learned that I do not need to do that.

I ask the question respectfully, but unapologetically. I will do everything in my power to protect my daughter.

The truth is, I don’t care if someone does keep guns in their home.

I am in no way casting aspersions on responsible gun owners. We live in Iowa, and people hunt. It’s a hobby, and it’s normal. But, I do care how those guns are stored, because every year, hundreds of children in the United States gain access to firearms and unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else (Be Smart for Kids website, 2019).

One in three U.S. households contain at least one gun, and over 4.6 million kids age 18 and under are living in households with loaded and unlocked firearms (Azrael, Cohen, Salhi & Miller, 2018). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 78 children, teens, and young adults are injured or killed by guns every day in the United States (AAP, 2019). The AAP advocates for common-sense solutions to help prevent gun injuries and deaths, and one of those solutions is asking about the presence of guns in the home.

Teaching our children about gun safety is important, but the onus of safety is the responsibility of the adults in the child’s life.

If there is any chance a child, either mine or someone else’s, can gain access to a gun, then my daughter will not be allowed over to play.

It is so easy and natural to talk to another parent about food allergies, pets, screen time, and other concerns. We willingly lock away our cleaning supplies and put medicine out of reach, so why is asking about another safety concern so difficult? Asking about safe gun storage hasn’t been normalized yet, and it is high time it was. It is not a question that is meant to offend. It is a question that ensures that my child, and all children in the home, are safe from unintentional shootings.

I just want my child–and all children–to be safe.

Practice makes perfect, but if you aren’t sure how to initially phrase the question, I’ve included screenshots of actual conversions parents have had with other parents to ask about gun presence in the home. If it feels uncomfortable, and it probably will at first, that’s okay. Please ask anyway. As someone who generally dislikes phone calls, the glory that is email and text messaging has definitely eased my way.

Do you ask about guns before your child’s playdates?


Additional Gun Safety Resources

Browse below for additional information and guidance on gun safety and storage.

Asking About Secure Gun Storage

A helpful guide for asking about the presence of guns in the home.

Safe Gun Storage

Information about secure storage practices to reduce gun violence.

Gun Safety Initiatives

Learn more about gun safety initiatives from the American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization dedicated to the health of all children.

National Survey

Read the results in, Firearm Storage in Gun-Owning Households with Children: Results of a 2015 National Survey. Journal of Urban Health.


 

Mom Friendship: My Daily Mission to Include Others

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It was a normal day in my life. When that light turned green in my kids’ room at 6:30 a.m., we were off and running. The morning rush began. Everyone needed to be fed, dressed, teeth brushed, and rushed out the door. I needed to get my oldest two to school by 8:15 a.m. After dropping them off I would come home to spend time playing with my youngest, but I also needed to run to the grocery store and do a few other errands. Lastly, I needed to pick up my middle child from preschool at 11:15. 

For pickup for morning preschool, I usually follow the same routine every day:  Take my two-year-old out of the van and strap her into her blue stroller, because she is a runner and she gets antsy waiting. Walk in to the school and wait for my daughter’s class to come bounding up the hallway. Usually as we stand there and wait, I will talk to other moms or say hi to teachers I know as they walk by.  This is just me. For those who know me well, they know I am an extrovert and a social butterfly. It is just who I am. 

 Mom Friendship: My Daily Mission to Include Others

This particular day wasn’t any different. I had noticed a mom whom I did not recognize. For a few days, I did not say anything because I was not sure if I had seen her before and had forgot, or if she truly was new. But on this day, even though my day was chaotic and full, I decided to say something to her.

I walked up to her and said, “Hi! Are you new to our school? I don’t know if I have seen you before.”

She said, “Yes, we just moved here last week!”

“Wow!” I said. “How is it going so far?”

“It’s hard,” she revealed. “The kids are doing surprisingly well, but it’s hard.”

We started talking and realized my oldest two are the same age as her youngest two. I learned they moved to the area from out of state for her husband’s job. They knew no one here. After picking up our kids who are in the same class, we walked out to our cars together and she said to me, “I have noticed you and I told my husband that the lady with the blue stroller is the nicest mom and I hope I get to know her.”

“Oh my,” I said.  “I am just being me.” 

As I left school that morning, my heart felt happy. I felt joy because just by being who I am, I made someone else’s life just a little bit better. I also gained a new friend in the process. This encounter gave me pause for reflection. We all have those days when things are not going how we want them to. We all have those days when life feels chaotic and unmanageable. Even on those days we can do our best to just smile at those we meet. We can do simple things like compliment another mom. If we see a mom struggling in a store, offer to help.

We never know what their day is like or what a difference that encounter can make for them. 

There is no harder or more isolating job than being a mom. I remember in those early days of motherhood, I often wondered if I was the only one experiencing (insert seemingly weird situations or milestones). I wanted to have other mom friends who understood and could relate. As I matured in my motherhood journey and began to meet and connect with other moms, I made it my mission to be an includer and supporter to other moms. I feel all moms are desirous of mom friendship because this journey is not for the weak of heart. If we can do whatever we can to support others, it will make our journey and theirs just that much better.   

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

~Maya Angelou


 

Family Independence: Well Done, Prince Harry and Meghan!

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I recently saw the news that Prince Harry and Meghan are in the process of leaving the royal family to venture off to become their own family. I admit, I’m not one to really follow the news or the royal family, other than really enjoying watching “The Crown,” but this “Megxit” news caught my attention.

I can imagine the decision Harry and Meghan have made is fraught with turmoil. But some of the best personal development decisions are.

Maybe it is my own value of independence showing, but I’m proud of those I see who are taking control over their life decisions and moving forward to pursue their best lives. It made me pause and reflect on our own family’s journey. 

Prince Harry and Meghan MarkleWe married and immediately had a baby. We lived in the same town my husband had grown up in; his entire extended family still lived in town, too. I had ideas of how this would be–my children growing up surrounded by family who loved and accepted them, who mentored them, who became lifelong friends. However, my husband and I ultimately decided our future wasn’t in this town. We needed a change.

So, we moved to Texas to live with my parents. We traded one family for the other. It was great. We actually lived in the same house, and my mom was home to provide child care so the two of us could just work to pay off debt and save.

However, again, we realized this wasn’t our dream life either.

We packed our car with everything we owned and moved to Nashville, TN. No, we are not aspiring singers. We had some connections within our church family and we had caught onto the mission of establishing and growing a faith community in downtown Nashville. We knew not a single person in the area, not even in the state. Neither of us had ever even visited Tennessee.

I cannot even begin to describe how incredibly difficult this move was. Our daughter was 15 months old. In order to make enough money to pay bills and buy groceries that first year, I worked seven days a week at three different jobs (teacher at mother’s day out program where my daughter could attend three days per week, Saturdays in the office at the apartment complex so we got a discount on our rent, and Sunday mornings in the nursery at the church that housed our mother’s day out program during the week,) and my husband worked second shift at a foundry. Did I mention we only had one car? The only time he and I saw one another was when we would trade the car and Sunday afternoons. It was a major adjustment!

While it was difficult, it was also an amazing experience.

We learned more about ourselves apart from all the other support networks we had always had in the past.

We were able to identify the bad habits we had developed and could work to correct them without the negative influence of the past. We had space to grow and learn and depend upon one another. We met and made some of our dearest friends during this time. Not friends that I’d had or he’d had before, but friends we both could enjoy spending time with, separately or together. We moved downtown and changed jobs so we had more time together.

We lived in Nashville for four years before we decided the Midwest was where our hearts longed to be, to raise our family, for me to go back and finish college, and to see what we could do with ourselves. Researching the area, we fell in love with our neighborhood in Coralville and have been here since 2007.

We saw our relatives about twice each year. And those visits were great. We had enough time to connect and not too much time for influence from the past creep in. We had changed from the people we were, and we liked who we were becoming.

While we love, love, love our families and are so grateful for their love and support, the best thing we ever did for the health and growth of our nuclear family was to move away and start our own journey.

As I imagine my own children growing up and continuing their life journeys, I hope they find the best path for themselves, whether that is nearby or far away.

“The best thing in life is having a large, loving family…somewhere else.” – Johnny Carson 

So congrats to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for making a difficult decision and prioritizing each other, their children, and their own health and well-being. Well done!

Also, the house next door to us is for sale. Want to be neighbors?

Iowa City Moms’ Guide to Hosting a Baby Shower

Event Checklist

Baby showers can be a lot of work, but we’re helping you break down your checklist to create a fun and stress free celebration for mom-to-be!

Venues

By investing in a beautiful venue, you can save yourself the work of coming up with excessive decorations. Instead, you can focus on the details that enhance your event.  Here are a few of our personal favorite local venues:

Little Lights on Main

Our team has hosted so many events at Little Lights Events, we cannot even count! Located on Historic Main Street in West Branch, this spot is absolutely PERFECT for small to mid-size gatherings, and as you can see from the photos, there is no need to bring decorations because it is already gorgeous!  Check out their website for more details and availability.

Little Lights on the Lane

If you’re looking for a larger space, head down the road a few minutes to the beautiful new Little Lights on the Lane, located at Cedars Edge Golf Course.  This incredible event venue offers seating for up to 300 people, and also offers a number of options to incorporate both indoor and outdoor spaces in your event. Check them out here!

Palmer House Stables

If you have attended our Glamping or Tailgate events for moms, you know exactly why Palmer House Stables is the perfect spot to host a baby shower!  With its rustic charm and cozy feel, this space is ideal for a small to mid-size event, and also has a beautiful outdoor space (with fire pit!). Check out their website for more information and available dates.

Celebration Farm

We have loved hosting our Moms Morning Out at the Celebration Farm the past few years, and this spot would be lovely for a baby shower! The Timber Frame boasts a beautiful balcony, as well as a deck out back if the weather’s nice! Check out all of the options at Celebration Farm here.

Themes

After you’ve found your venue, you’ll want to focus on picking a theme. Themes are endless and can often be hard to narrow down when planning a shower. We suggest considering special pieces of décor mom-to-be loves to build the theme around. Do the parents have special interests? Do they love books? Travel? Specific food? These are all great places to start.

For example, for book lovers you can ask guests to bring a book instead of a card to build baby’s library. Additionally, you can provide materials to decorate bookmarks instead of playing shower games. The key is to personalize it according to the guest of honor.

To see some trending baby shower themes, check out the adorable cookie sets below, all from our girl Michele at Vanilla Beans and Daydreams:

Cookies & Cakes

As Julia Childs once said, “A party without cake is just a meeting”.

We say cake OR cookies will do, and we have so many amazing places to choose from in our community!  Here are a few of our faves:

Vanilla Beans & Daydreams

Our ICM Events Coordinator also happens to be the talented owner of Vanilla Beans & Daydreams! Give her a theme, and she will nail it every time! Check out her Instagram for the latest creations!

The Pink Umbrella Bakery

If you’ve ever attended our annual Easter Egg Hunt, chances are you have enjoyed the delicious, melt-in-your-mouth cookies from The Pink Umbrella Bakery! Owner Heather makes the classic sugar cookie that we all know and love, and we can’t get enough!  Check out her website here.

Deluxe Cakes & Pastries 

A long-time staple for delicious homemade cakes and pastries, Deluxe is located downtown Iowa City and offers up a wide variety of sweets daily.  Check out their website for more information!

Bread Garden Market

Another downtown staple, Bread Garden Market makes their goodies from scratch daily, and there are so many to choose from that you won’t be able to choose just one! The perfect addition to your baby shower; check out their website here!

Shopping List & Registry

We know it’s easy to hop on Target, Walmart, or other large box stores and set up a registry. However, we highly recommend checking out some of the amazing LOCAL options and giving them a shot! We promise you won’t be disappointed! Find something unique and beautiful, and support a local business at the same time? Win, win!

The Purple Wagon

We absolutely LOVE the adorable handmade accessories from the girls at The Purple Wagon! Check them out; we guarantee you’ll find something you love for the new little bundle of joy!

The Lovely Baby Co.

Another local mama creating BEAUTIFUL gifts for babies AND their mamas! From natural teething necklaces to adorable mama totes, be sure to check out The Lovely Baby Co.!

Cielo Goods

If the mama-to-be does not own anything from Cielo Goods yet, look no further for the perfect gift for her as she becomes a mama! Monica’s moon warmers are a STAPLE for any mom (or any woman!) in their self care routine. In fact, we dare you to buy one for her and NOT buy one for yourself too!  To check out the latest moon warmers in stock, and her other gorgeous inventory, click here!

University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Safety Store

If you’ve followed us for any amount of time, you know our love for the Safety Store.  What an incredible resource in our community! Not only do they have the kindest staff, and the latest products for all things safety in your household, but they now have a REGISTRY option! Check out their website here for more information!

Games!

The internet can provide endless lists of baby shower games and while many games may be hilarious to some guests but make other guests uncomfortable. Make sure you take time to consider your guests lists when deciding on games. Here are a few safe options that are stress free and fun for any crowd!

Guess the baby photo – Asks guests to bring along a baby photo of themselves. Display the photos on a wall or table with numbers and ask guests to match names to the numbered photo.

Picasso Baby – Print out a photo of mom and dad for each guest. Give guests each photo, a piece of paper, scissors, and glue. Let them piece together features from each parent to see what baby will look like.

Baby Predictions and Advice – We’ve created this FREE print-out for guests with their best predictions and advice for the parents-to-be. Enjoy!

Enjoy Yourself!

Our final, and most important, tip: ENJOY THE DAY.  This goes especially for the mom-to-be, but also for the rest of you grandmas/aunts/cousins/friends to be too! This is a celebration of a new life coming into your family or your friend group…soak it in and enjoy it!!

Mom Hacks: By Moms and For Moms

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While life is grand, it sure can be chaotic as a mom. Since life is definitely too short to do things the long way, I compiled all the ICM writers’ favorite mom hacks to share with you. We’re covering everything from the home and food to kids and road trips!

mom hacks

HOME HACKS

Organization

Declutter: Less stuff means less time cleaning and organizing. Don’t bother organizing your stuff. Just get rid of it.

Manage ALL the paper: Have a station at home with a magnetic white board to see the school lunch calendar, sports schedules, and a wall file for each kid to manage their individual papers, keeping your counters and dining room table clean!

Keep things on the kids’ level: Keep snacks and napkins down low in the kitchen so they can get what they need themselves. Have hooks for backpacks and coats when they get home, and a basket next to it to put hats and gloves.

Make things work for you: We took the door off our entryway closet and made it a mini mudroom.

Kitchen

Toothbrushes in the kitchen: Brush right after breakfast and after supper, before leaving the kitchen!

Do the kids’ hair while they eat breakfast: Keep a tub with hair ties, clips, detangler spray, a brush, etc. on top of the fridge.

Fridge: Use slotted racks over things in the fridge to gain extra “shelf” space.

Cookie sheet covers: Use foil or parchment paper on cookie sheets when baking to easily clean the pan. BONUS–you can soak the foil in soapy water and reuse it multiple times.

Basement

Tornado ready: During tornado season, keep a phone charger, snacks, water, diaper, wipes, etc. in the basement or in your safe room.

3-hamper system for laundry: Everyone throws their laundry in three hampers: whites, colors, and darks, which roughly corresponds to hot, warm, and cold for most of our clothes. You can easily see which hamper is fullest, and anyone can grab it to start a load! Check out all these laundry hacks and stain tricks, too.

Cleaning

Cleaning on a schedule: Earmark specific chores the same day every week. For example, strip bedding and wash sheets every Wednesday, vacuum on Tuesday/Thursday, etc.

Teach your kid “move out skills”: Have them do their own chores that they’ll need to know: laundry, clean their bathroom, etc.

Hire someone to come clean your home: This is totally worth the money if you have it in your budget, and it forces you to keep your home ready for someone to come do the deep cleaning.

Stop cleaning up after everyone: Let everyone see what it feels like to live in a messy house and hopefully they will solve the problem themselves! (Don’t hold your breath, though…)

Stop matching and folding socks: Put socks in a bag or bin and let each person get their own. (We’ve got lots more kid clothing hacks!)

Morning Rush

10 minute tidy: Before bed, everyone helps and makes sure the toys and books are put away, dishwasher loaded and run, counters and table cleared and wiped down. It takes 10 minutes with everyone helping and makes getting out the door the next day so much easier!

Prep the next day the night before: Clothes laid out, lunches packed, backpacks packed, prep supper the next night, get the meat out to thaw, etc.

Get up before your kids: If you are ready, you can get them ready and the chaos is so much less.

Shopping

Savings Apps: Use Ebates when you shop online for FREE money and use Shoptagr if you are watching items for sales.

Automate your bill pay and savings: Try this one small switch that can change the way you budget!

Stop grocery shopping yourself: PICK UP IS THE BEST! Walmart, Hyvee, and Target all have it now, or use Instacart for Aldi, Costco, etc. Use our Guide to Online Grocery Shopping.


FOOD HACKS

Breakfast

Keep your toaster on a small cookie sheet: Not only does it catch crumbs, but it makes it easy to slide in and out of a cupboard and keep your counters clear!

Egg in a mug: Need a fast, healthy breakfast? Spray a coffee mug with cooking spray, crack in an egg, whip, and microwave for about a minute.

Make-ahead egg cups: Make a dozen egg cups every Sunday so you have a quick, healthy breakfast to eat on busy mornings.

Lunch

Smoothie shortcut: Make a blender full of smoothie, then freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays. Throw 4-5 “cubes” in a container for kid lunches. By the time lunch rolls around, it’s thawed to a slushee consistency. Filling lunch with protein=done.

Grab & Go: Make five peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for lunches on Sunday for a grab & go lunch that week.

Dinner

Publish your plan: Plan the menu for the week and “publish it” on a white board in the kitchen and on social media for accountability. I post every Monday on Instagram and it keeps me accountable!

Thaw the meat: Pull meat from the freezer for planned meals and put it in the fridge at the beginning of the week—I’m less likely to say, “Let’s get take out” if I have food that will go to waste if I don’t use it!

Theme nights: Have theme nights with meal planning—Meatless Mondays, Try me Tuesday (new recipe night!), etc.

Buy & Cook in Bulk

Make two: When you are making a meal, eat one and freeze the other for a future meal for yourself or a friend!

Cookies on demand: Make and freeze cookie dough balls for cookies on demand

Extra storage: Buy in bulk when on sale and store it in a different space. We have a shelf in our garage that is our dedicated grocery shelf. Before buying groceries, we go “shopping” in the garage and re-stock our pantry inside. This trick gives us fewer trips to the store, fewer impulse purchases, cheaper, eco-friendly, and less packaging!

Make extra of the time consuming things: Whenever I make rice, I make a big batch and then freeze the leftovers in gallon freezer bags. You can take out just what you need to microwave for lunch bowls, quick clean-the-fridge stir fry, etc. Pro-tip: Freeze your extra Chinese take-out rice and save it to make fried rice for another meal.

Money Saving Foods

Cheap meals: Have a list of super cheap meals and serve at least 2-3 of them per week. Rice and beans, clean-out-the-vegetable-drawer stir fry, homemade pizza, pancakes, eggs & toast, and anything vegetarian are all cheap hits!

Plan 3, Leftovers 3: Plan three meals for supper each week, eat leftovers for 3 nights and your final night is take-out or an easy frozen pizza and bagged salad! REPEAT!


KID HACKS

Morning bath: Kids don’t have to have a bath at night! Move it to the morning or afternoon if it is easier.

Swim lessons: After swim lessons, have the kids shower there and have them wear their pjs home: they’ll be ready for bed and you’re saving on laundry!

Stomach bugs: When your kid is puking, cover everything in towels, blankets, or puppy pads–so much easier to clean up!

Kids taking regular medication: Use a permanent marker and create a chart on the medicine bottle. Or text your partner each time you give it so you never forget or double up.

Kids’ Clothing

Diaper box method: As your kids outgrow clothing organize it in their current size diaper boxes!

Stop buying new: Goodwill, yard sales, online free sites, etc all offer good-as-new or actually brand new gifts. Buy throughout the year and stash away for your gift needs!

Present stash: Bulk-buy kids’ presents when they go on sale and keep a stash hidden away—maybe even wrapped and labeled with a post-it note. When the neighbor surprises your kid with an unexpected holiday present, no sweat! You just so happen to have one for her, too.

Rules

Rule follower: Telling kids “ I don’t make the rules I just follow them” is a GREAT phrase that gets my toddler and preschooler to listen.

Lie: Yes, sometimes it’s needed. The park is closed, mom’s phone doesn’t work in the van, Santa won’t leave presents in a messy house . . . all totally worth it.

Photo list: When we go shopping and the kids want something, take a picture and add it to their birthday or holiday wish list, sending it to family or friends who need gift ideas.

Out and About

Play areas: Big Grove and Wild Culture Kombucha bar were both recommended on Facebook for having unique play areas for kids. UIHC has a playground that is almost entirely enclosed which is great if you have a runner. Enjoy an appetizer or beverage while your kids play! Check out our indoor play guide for a full list of ideas!

Car music: In the car exclusively listen to CDs or the radio–no streaming off the phone to minimize arguments.

Early risers: Need to get out of the house early? The malls typically open early for mall walkers. Take the kids to run around or go to the play area and beat the crowds.

North Liberty resident: Check out their own local hacks here!


ROAD TRIP HACKS

Pack the snacks: Pack pb & j’s for meals and snacks, plus water and snacks for mom and dad, and save a ton at gas stations!

Prepare for sleep: Wear comfy clothes and have neck pillows and a blanket to help kids sleep

Clean as you go: At each stop clean out car- throw out trash, reorganize toys/books- get new stuff out

Pass it around: Keep extra paper cups for food distribution.

Lap trays: Use lap trays for eating and activities.

Pack purposefully: Pack clothes in packing cubes or put kid outfits in ziplock bags.

For more road trip hacks check out these posts here and here!

What MOM HACKS can you share?


 

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