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I'm not quite sure how we are already headed into July! June has been a really busy month, and July is shaping up to be pretty busy as well, but in a great way! Here's what I've been up to this month.
I was provided with Tidy Snap free of charge. However, all opinions are my own.
When I first had Caleb, like any first time mom, leaving the house was an exercise in how much I could fit in my bag. I had a pretty big diaper bag, and I wouldn't leave the house without anything I thought I might possibly need in any scenario. Before Caleb was even born, I had my diaper bag packed and full to the brim, because you know, I could have to leave the house at a moment's notice and God forbid I didn't have anything and everything I needed ready to go. I carried about 3 extra pacifiers with me, a bottle of ready to feed formula just in case my milk dried up from one minute to the next (I know, I know), several extra outfits, blankets (yes, plural) and anything else I could think of.
I learned that I barely used half of what was in there, and I could definitely cut back on what I was carrying with me on a regular basis. I eventually transitioned to a diaper backpack and minimized the amount of things I carried with me.
This time around, I hadn't even prepared a diaper bag. I actually pulled out the diaper bag I used with Caleb, washed it, and had every intention of using it again, but instead I turned to my trusty RYLA Pack. Now I typically alternate between my RYLA Pack and my Louis Vuitton Neverfull, because it's big enough to carry everything I need and still look stylish.
My RYLA Pack comes with a diaper storage and changing kit that folds up into itself (but you can buy something similar to this on its own), so I just take that and switch it from one bag to another. In there I keep diapers, wipes, baggies to throw away stinky diapers, a travel size diaper rash ointment, and a travel size lotion. I also keep hand sanitizer, a sanitizing spray, hand and face wipes, and pacifier cleaning wipes that help remove dirt and germs when she inevitably drops her pacifier on the floor.
Another great product I have found has been Tidy Snap. Do you remember those slap bracelets we used to collect and go crazy for in elementary school? These are just like that! As a matter of fact, whenever Caleb gets his hands on them, he uses them as bracelets! They're rubbery, so they don't slip and slide around, but they are really great for helping to keep you organized.
I take two of these Tidy Snaps and in one I roll up a muslin blanket. The Tidy Snap helps keep it from becoming a mess in my bag. I use another snap to wrap a burp cloth (which I sometimes use to cover my breast while nursing - without having to cover the baby's entire head) and an extra onesie or romper in the case of a diaper blowout.
So anytime I want to switch bags, I grab those three things and make the switch (or leave it out altogether if I'm going out without them). It's really simplified things and helps me to stay much more organized. I know the kids things are wrapped up in one of these, and it's not getting mixed up with my stuff. The snaps are also really great for organizing outfits for travel, and keeping blankets rolled up in the drawer so you can see what you actually have in there.
I've linked all of these essentials or similar products on my Amazon Influencer Page, under Diaper Bag Essentials. For Tidy Snap, you can go directly to their website.
As a former teacher, I know how important it is for children to be good readers. As someone who truly enjoys reading, I’d love to pass the love of reading on to my children. This is why when I heard about The Children’s Trust and the #Read30 movement, I thought it would be great to share with you and challenge you to participate along with me.
If you are a family in South Florida, the Children’s Trust is challenging you to join the #Read30 movement and close the summer reading gap, aka the “summer slide.”
The social media campaign began June 1 and is running through August, and it asks parents and caregivers to read with their children for 30 minutes each day. The campaign is part of The Trust’s Read to Learn initiative, aimed at increasing the number of children who read at or above grade level by the third grade. How can you participate? Easy! Read with your children for 30 minutes a day. Then share a photo to social media and use the hashtag #Read30.
“Reading achievement can typically decline an average of three months in summer and the best way to prevent kids from losing that kind of ground is to keep them reading, which is what #Read30 intends to do,” says James R. Haj, president and CEO of The Children’s Trust.
Reading with your children on a daily basis can really give them a leg up and help them succeed in school and in life. Aside from reading together for 30 minutes each day, The Children’s Trust also suggests following these simple guidelines:
Summer reading always felt like a huge chore while I was in school, but it’s so important. For kids who have assigned summer reading books, try and get involved with what they are reading. Once they’ve finished their required reading, let them choose their own reading material. Take them to a bookstore and let them browse. Give them ownership of their reading material. I LOVE to read and I finished the last few Harry Potter books in under a day, yet required reading was always the worst for me to get through and would take me weeks. [Teachers, one thing I used to do was assign one book and then make the second book reader’s choice - it had to meet certain requirements or it was chosen from an extensive list. They had to do a full on report once school started, but I had a lot more success that way.]
And thirty minutes may sound like a lot if your kids are little like mine, but you can break it up! Read a book in the morning, another after lunch, and then again at bedtime. Remember, it all adds up!
Children who read for 30 minutes daily are more likely to read at grade level by the third grade, increasing the likelihood of academic and professional success. According to a 2010 report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “reading proficiently by the end of third grade can be a make-or-break benchmark in a child’s educational development.” Until the end of third grade, most children are learning to read, but beginning in the fourth grade, they are reading to learn.
So join me this summer and share your your photos across social media using the hashtag #Read30. I can wait to follow along!
For more information on The Children’s Trust and the Read to Learn initiative, please visit https://www.thechildrenstrust.org/read30.
And that means that teachers everywhere are jumping for joy, shedding their cardigans for swimsuits, their chalk for a cold drink, and handing the baton off to Mom & Dad. Which means... oh. Wait. You mean, I've got my kid 24/7 for the next couple months? What on earth am I to do with them for all that time?
I'm sending Caleb to day camp at his school for a couple of weeks, but camps can get expensive, so he's not going all summer long. I also thought it would be nice to spend some quality time with him and Chloe together (day 2, already reconsidering this decision lol). But I knew if I wanted to do that, I was going to have to come up with some activities to keep him busy and out of trouble, and so that he didn't sit in front of the TV all summer long.
So I put my teaching skills to use (or rather, my Pinterest pinning skills), and created a Summer Schedule and some weekly themes to help keep this little guy entertained.
For the schedule, I built plenty of downtime into it, in case stuff comes up or we want to have a play date or something. I gave each day of the week a theme, so that it's easier to prepare for crafts on Mondays, going somewhere on Tuesdays, etc. Also, none of it is hard and fast, and we can adjust as we go - kind of like I used to do with my lesson plans when I was teaching. The big gaps in the schedule are to fill with crafts, field trips, the library, pool time, or anything else we decide. (Make sure you scroll to the end of the post to download the PDF files - these jpegs aren't so great!)
While I wanted to be creative, I don't feel like I need to reinvent the wheel. I decided I would come up with a few themes for the weeks I have him home with me (unfortunately there aren't enough themes for the whole summer). I started searching for activities on Pinterest, and boy did I find them! There are some pretty creative activities out there, and my Pinterest board is now full of them! Since Pinterest now lets you subdivide boards, I made one Summer Activities board, and then created sub-boards (is that what they're called?) for the different weeks, based on themes. Just because I pinned all these things doesn't mean I'm going to get to every single one of them. On the calendar with the weeks, I linked the theme for that week to the board. Some of the activities are more involved, others require very little prep.
I know this won't function perfectly every single day, and it's not a set-in-stone schedule, but it is something that will help us to do some activities this summer and not drive one another crazy. And as always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or suggestions.
Click the files below to download them.
Follow the Summer Activities Board