Family

Important Decisions for New Parents

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

There are many new decisions that new parents need to make when bringing baby home for the first time. Hopefully, you will have already decided on a name, so at least that is out of the way. However, there are many other things that need to be considered when planning how to raise your child in those early weeks and months of their life.

There are many, many different resources on the best way to raise your child online and so it can be overwhelming to look at a whole host of contradicting ideas. Luckily for you, the way you raise your child is entirely up to you. All babies are different, and while some methods may work for one child, they may not work for others.

Finding the right balance and understanding your child’s needs takes time, especially when they can’t speak or express themselves any other way than crying or laughing. There will be a teething period for you, as much as there will be for them later on in life, and so it is essential that you are not afraid to make mistakes, you are as new to this as anyone else, after all.

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Family

When’s the Right Time to Start a Family?

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

As you age, it’s normal to think about what the future holds. Most of us grow up with a template in our minds that we assume we’re going to follow at some point. The typical pattern involves falling in love, committing to each other and having a family. Now, this formula isn’t for everyone, but many people do want to become parents. If you don’t already have children, and you’re thinking about parenthood, you may be wondering if there’s ever a perfect time to welcome a new addition to the family. If you find yourself in this situation, hopefully, you’ll find this guide helpful.

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Family

Healthy Habits we can Teach Our Kids

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

As parents, our number one priority in life is for our kids to grow up happy and healthy. And one of the most important things we can teach them is how to achieve this themselves, how they can grow up to make good food choices and live an active life and have fun in the process. When they’re little we’re responsible for making these kinds of decisions for them, but by teaching them the value of a healthy life we can pave a good path for the future. Here are some worthwhile habits to teach our kids.

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Family, General, Valentine's Day

Cute Valentine’s Day Crafts for Kids!

Do you remember your school days? How the first two week of February were always full of candy and treats and crafts?
My kids aren’t in school yet, but I have plans for them to experience Valentine’s Day the way we all did (plus, what grandparents don’t love getting Valentine’s from the little ones?)
Here are a few I saw on Pinterest that I absolutely /love/, and you will too!
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Family, Self-Care

Finding a Balance Between Careers and Motherhood

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Trying to make your career work alongside being a parent is hard. Being a mother comes with a side order of guilt. We feel guilty if we are working and contributing to the family because that takes us away from time with our children. We feel guilty if we don’t work at all, believing that we aren’t putting enough into our home and our bank balances. Guilt is the ingredient of motherhood that often traps tired mothers into a decision about their career that they do not want to make.

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When you’ve had a baby, you get two choices, but they aren’t really choices as they depend on your income. You can choose to stay at home and be a parent, or you can go back to work.

There’s a secret third option, in that you can choose to retrain and find a career that suits you better around your children and family. Whether you have decided to stay at home, retrain or go back to your job, you have taken on double the responsibility: you’re a parent and you are an employee.

Trying to find a balance between your career and your newfound responsibility as a mother is tough. It’s not going to be easy to retrain, either, because even if you find a job with flexible shifts like nursing, it’s a long road and not all about Greys Anatomy pants and McDreamy!

You have to try and find the balance between the challenges of shift work and the responsibility of the children at home. It’s important not to compare yourself to other moms out there. It may look like everyone has their act together, but it’s more likely that they don’t, and comparing yourself is only going to make you feel bad about the way that you balance things.

To find more of a balance between home life and work life, you have to treat your home life as important as your career. Family events shouldn’t be flexible because work events wouldn’t be. There is no guilt toward your job because family comes first. Your job may pay the bills at home, but that doesn’t mean you have to live and breathe it. Don’t be too hard on yourself if your schedule changes, but make it clear to your employer that you must be balanced at work. If you choose to retrain into another profession, find out whether your new career path offers flexible working hours or fixed shifts. Your family will rely on you to be there for them and yet you may still need your job for independence. If your job isn’t going to feed into your success, then a change is necessary.

Balancing motherhood and a career isn’t easy, but it can be done with perseverance and patience. It’s a struggle that happens to more than just moms, too, as it’s a human thing to struggle with finding a life balance with work. Give yourself a break – you are human and you matter, too.

Finding a Balance Between Careers and Motherhood - The Southern Smiths: Make sure your kids don't get lost in the hustle and bustle!
Family, Self-Care

First Trimester Mini Survival Guide

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Congratulations on your pregnancy! You’ve tried for the perfect little bundle of joy, and here you are in the beginning stages of your first trimester. There’s a mighty oak the size of a poppy seed burrowing down in your womb, and other than feeling excited, frightened and happy, you’re probably feeling all the joys that the first trimester brings. The first trimester of pregnancy is arguably the toughest trimester of them all, and not just physically. You’re dealing with the emotional side of praying that your little poppy seed will root and stick, and you’re hoping and praying the first ultrasound provides that comfort of a healthy little heartbeat flickering away.

Image source whether this is your first baby or your fourth, you need to know that every single pregnancy is different. I’ve learned this from experience! I’ll be having my third child in the next 17 days! Different symptoms, aches, pains, and emotions happen with each baby, and dealing with those is tough! When your head is hanging down the toilet bowl and you are revisiting your breakfast, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be thinking about your prenatal fitness, but you are still thinking about your health. The thing is, the first trimester can bring you so many quirky symptoms that managing to stay healthy when fruit and vegetables make you vomit is hard! So, what is it about first trimester that you need to know the most?

You need a good support system.

It goes without saying, pregnancy is hard. You’re a hormone casserole and you need people to tell you that how you feel is valid – even when you are overreacting. Always seek advice from a doctor if you are concerned about any pains or symptoms that are extreme, such as constant sickness. However, your family and friends should be around you and support you as much as possible.

You need to sleep.

If this is your first baby, the one thing that you should spend as much time doing before the third-trimester kicks in is sleeping. Once you hit the home stretch before labor, insomnia and restless legs kick in. Alongside this, your bladder seems to shrink to the size of a walnut. Sleep is hard to come by beyond the second trimester, and then there’s a baby keeping you up. Relax. This is your pregnancy and your time to bloom. Let it happen in peace.

Learn to combat sickness.

You may not have full of vomit drama throughout your pregnancy, but nausea and food aversions could still factor for you. Read here some cool tips and tricks to hold off nausea and the vomit and use trial and error to see what could work for you.

Prenatal vitamins are not a joke.

Forgetting your vitamins could make the difference between a healthy baby or not. Don’t miss out on yours and set an alarm every morning so that you don’t forget to take them. Make it the evening if the morning sickness is too much.

Your pregnancy is a time of joy, as it should be. You should do what you can to make your pregnancy happy, relaxed and calm. A storm in a teacup is coming, and it’s a cute one!

Family

Managing Sibling Rivalry

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

We all think of siblings as being the best of friends and getting on no matter what. Unfortunately, though, the relationship between siblings isn’t always that simple. There can be quite a lot of rivalry between them, especially when they are very young and they each think that they should get their own way. With two (soon to be three!) kids, I can tell you that from experience.

Sometimes it manifests itself as arguments and some back-and-forth chatter, but sometimes it can be much worse and could even end up in a physical fight. Sound like your kids? If so, you are probably at the end of your rope and would do anything to make them get along.

Putting an end to sibling rivalry isn’t always that difficult. These tips should help to ease any conflict.

Take It In Turns

One of the main sources of arguments is when a child thinks that they haven’t been given a fair chance at something. For example, they might feel that they haven’t had the same amount of time on the computer as their sibling.

One way around this is to get an internet deal that offers multiple devices to be connected at once, like the one only at Optimum.com, so that your kids can use devices at the same time. But when your kids are doing things that need to be done in turns, make sure you time everyone’s turn and ensure that they are all equal.

Don’t Label Them

Some parents label their kids. You know the kinds of things, like “the sporty one”, “the quiet one”, or “the intelligent one”. You shouldn’t do this as this can cause them to compare themselves with one another, and this could help rivalries develop. Sure, you might have a child who is more sporty than the others, but this difference shouldn’t define them. And you certainly shouldn’t use it to label them.

(Related post: How to Teach Your Children to Make Healthy Food Choices)

Team Spirit

It’s a good idea to try and create a team spirit within your family. Rather than being a group of individuals, you should see yourselves as more of a team with the tips at imom.com. Everyone works together to help each other and for the greater good. This will help to make sure that all of your children feel equal and just as important as each other. No one will feel left out at all, which will help cut down on all those arguments!

No Favorites

It is absolutely necessary that you don’t have a clear favorite child. This will only make all of their siblings feel inferior and very much left out. Every child should be your favorite! This can sometimes be difficult to show, though, especially when your kids ask awkward questions like “who do you love more?” You need to answer these tactically with answers like “I love you all in special ways!”

It can be difficult to completely put an end to sibling rivalry but all of these tips should help you get there. At least sibling rivalry often comes to an end as they start to get older!

Managing Sibling Rivalry - The Southern Smiths: Tips to help foster your kids relationships with each other, and you!
Family, General, Self-Care

6 Ways To Deal With Empty Nest Syndrome

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Most parents dread the same thing, and that is the day when their children move out. Even though it is exciting to see kids move off to start their own lives in the world of work or at college, it can still be quite upsetting for the majority of parents. After all, your babies have left after a lot of time together!

After their kids grow up and leave, most parents develop empty nest syndrome. This is when you experience extreme emotions and feelings, such as grief and loneliness. Thankfully, though, there are many ways you can prevent this syndrome from setting in once your children do move out.

So, are you expecting to say goodbye to your little ones over the next year? Here are some tips that can help you stay well away from any symptoms of empty nest syndrome!

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Downsize

When the kids move out of your family home, you will be left with their empty bedrooms and a lot of extra space in your house. Many people find that all of this excess space reminds them that their children no longer live with them, and this can worsen their feelings of loss and grief. There is one solution to this, though.

Home downsizing involves moving into a smaller home. When you and your partner find a house that is big enough for you and all your belongings, you will find that the home doesn’t feel quite so empty and you won’t rattle around in it so much. It’s still a good idea to get a new house with a spare bedroom, though – your kids will want to come back to stay sometime!

Talk To Your Partner About Your Feelings

I’m sure that your partner will be going through the exact same emotions and feelings as you are once your children move out of your family home. I’m sure that you will both benefit from being open and honest about what you are going through right now. Plus, talking about any issues will help you feel like you’ve let a weight go from your shoulders. You might even be able to come up with ways each of you can try and take your minds off things for a while.

Get A New Hobby

Now that you don’t have to spend so much time caring for and looking after your kids, you will have a lot more spare time to yourself in the evenings and on the weekends. So, why not do something useful with your time and get a new hobby?

Not only is this a great way to spend all your new free time, but it will also take your mind away from the loneliness and sadness that might have been getting you down since the kids moved out. If you have been meaning to get in shape for a while, now is your chance to do it by taking up a new sport for a hobby.

For example, you might want to look into joining a local running club so that you can start running and meet some new people. There are lots of hobbies that don’t involve sports if you don’t like getting active. For instance, how about joining a book club or taking part in a cooking course?

Get A Pet

Some couples like to fill their empty nest by bringing a new pet into their home. Your kids might be jealous of this new pet and they might even threaten to move back home! Joking aside, though, this is a good idea as it provides you and your partner with a brand new companion.

You’ll find that a new dog or a cat can bring a lot of joy into your home, and you won’t be quite so lonely anymore. Another benefit that comes with getting a dog is that it will help you stay fit as you will have to take it for a walk each and every day. If you and your partner are at work every day, you should try and get a peaceful breed that won’t be too bothered about being left alone all day.

(Related post: Don’t Forget Your Dog This Christmas!)

Keep In Touch With Your Children Regularly

Just because your kids have moved out doesn’t mean that you can’t keep in touch with them! In fact, if they have moved quite far away from you and you will no longer see them on a regular basis anymore, there is, even more, reason for you to try and keep in regular contact with one another. And you will find that keeping in touch can help to alleviate any loneliness or sadness that you might have been feeling. So, if you are ever feeling a bit down and miss your kids, pick up the phone for a quick chat with them!

Make Some Plans

Quite a few parents find that making plans helps to take their mind off their empty nest syndrome. So, it’s worth taking a look at your calendar for the coming months to see if you have any time to plan some days out or vacations. You and your partner might like the idea of going away to an adults-only resort, for example. Or perhaps you want to book a weekend away with some of your friends.

In fact, why don’t you visit your child and his or her new town or city for a weekend? You will, hopefully, find that packing your calendar with plenty of plans can help you to stay busy and can turn all your thoughts of sadness to excitement instead! If you do book some holidays, it’s a nice idea to see if your kids want to join you on a few of them as well. You will find that they will never be too old to accept a free trip away with their parents!

Hopefully, you won’t end up suffering from the empty nest syndrome for far too long. The ideas above should help you change your sadness to happiness!

Cleaning, Family, General

4 Ways to Make Your Kid’s Clothes Last Longer

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

One of the biggest struggles for parents is clothing. You’ll need a lot of it to cover different occasions and weather, but kids grow so quick that many items are unwearable after a short period of time.
Add in the fact that children will play, get dirty and fall over, leaving clothes ruined.Kid’s clothes are expensive, so if you’re looking for ways to get more for your buck – take a look at these top tips for helping your kids’ clothes last longer.

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Stock up on the basics

Just like you have a closet full of basics, it makes sense to have the same for your children. Items like plain t-shirts, socks, and underwear are worth buying in bulk so that you always have a good supply at home that can be washed. You can get some great multi-buy deals that offer good values on kids clothing to help you save some money. Try to put them in basics most of the time so that nicer clothes are kept clean.

Buy a size bigger kids

Clothing comes in many different sizes, usually by age until they reach adulthood. If you’re investing in clothes that you want to last, it makes sense to buy clothes a size bigger that you can alter at the beginning, leaving slack to pull back out. If you’re not great with sewing, there are some excellent no-sew DIY clothing hacks out there that could save you a ton of problems.

Buy quality clothing

Investing in quality clothes can make a real difference to how long they last. While you might hate spending more on a coat or sweater, buying from a quality brand will mean that the items last longer, resulting in less frequent shopping trips for you. Take a look at the latest collection from Stone Island Kids – there are some great items there made from premium materials for looks that last. Quality clothing can easily be handed down as well, so it’s certainly a great idea to invest in items that can either be passed on to younger siblings, given to other kids or donated to Goodwill.

Learn how to tackle different stains

Kids can spill all sorts of things over themselves, get muddy or fall in the grass that leaves their clothes looking a state. As a parent, you’re going to need to become a whizz with the washer and learn how to remove stains from kids’ clothes.

Granted, it’s not always easy – but being able to remove the majority of stains will help your money stretch further and keep your child happy with their favorite sweater or dress gets dirty.

We all know that kids are messy, and if they aren’t getting their clothes dirty, they’re ruining your floors. Learn to prevent spills from staining so that you can protect your carpet and other surfaces from getting spoiled. A good arsenal of cleaning tools is a great thing to have around the house, ready to tackle whatever mess your kids get into next!

(Related post: Tips to Prevent Spills From Staining)

General

4 Guaranteed Ways to Help Your Kids Sleep on Christmas Eve

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

We all know that Christmas can be a super exciting time for all kids. Unfortunately, though, all that excitement can often bubble over and send them a bit wild. Once they get too excited, there is no chance that they will get to sleep at a reasonable time on Christmas Eve. For many parents, Christmas Eve can become a big battle between them and their kids. The children will want to stay up and try and spot Father Christmas, after all!

Want to make things easier for everyone this Christmas Eve? Here are some great tips that can help them get to sleep quicker despite all the excitement.

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Wear Them Out

If you don’t have anything planned during the day on Christmas Eve, you should spend the day doing something that will wear the kids out. For instance, you might want to go sledding if there is plenty of snow. If not, you could always spend a couple of hours at your local ice rink.

For those in warmer climates, a day at the park or full of a local town’s Christmas activities should do the trick! Look ahead on Facebook Events to see what’s going on in your area!

(Related post: Hello December!)

By the time your kids get home, they will be tired and ready for bed. Hopefully, they will fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow!

Stick To The Routine

Every child benefits from a daily routine, and a bedtime routine is especially important. A set routine before bed at any time of the year can help kids get into a good habit, and it also helps them know what to expect in the evenings.

It’s important that you try and stick to this routine as much as possible, even if it is the Christmas holidays. You might find that it is hard to get back into the usual swing of things if you do break it for a few days.

(Related post: Tips for Boosting Your Child’s Intelligence)

Help Them Relax

It’s also worth taking a couple of hours out before bed so that your kids have the chance to relax and unwind. Giving them a bath is a great idea as this will relax both the body and mind. A lot of moms suggest lavender oils and bubble baths for a bedtime bath to help calm the kids. You will also find that a bedtime story can be particularly soothing for young children as well. Why not read them a Christmas story? Here are 10 great Christmas stories to choose from!

It could also be useful to learn more about scent machines. These can release relaxing fragrances, like lavender, into your children’s bedrooms, helping them relax and drift off as quickly as possible.

Tell Them Santa Won’t Come

If you find that all of the above tips aren’t enough to combat your children’s excitement, there is something else that you can do. Thought a little mean, as a last resort it may do the job. You just need to tell them that Santa won’t come until they are fast asleep.

This should at least get them into bed. They might still take a while to finally drop off, but as long as they know that Santa won’t come with their presents, at least they might pretend to be asleep until they do actually fall asleep. So that will give you a bit of peace and quiet!

And then you just have their over excitement on Christmas Day to deal with!