Travel with Toddlers {Giveaway}

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Traveling with toddlers (or kids of any age) is a real science. You can’t just jump in a car and hope for the best. It takes a lot of strategic planning. Since I’ve been traveling to Pittsburgh and back from New York City about every other month since Max was born, I have a lot of tips and takeaways to help make the long distance car ride much more enjoyable for everyone. 

1. Have entertainment.

Max is currently obsessed with his iPad. I try not to let him use it too much at home, but when on the road, it’s a great way to keep them busy. I also try to make sure they have something EDUCATIONAL. 

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My favorite: PlayKids. This app has it all – games, videos, “books on tape” – and they all work WITHOUT wi-fi.  The app is filled with over 200 videos, shows, stories and educational games that are constantly updated to provide full entertainment for kids up to 5 years. The most famous and loved characters of the world are here like Daniel Tiger and Peg + Cat, and Heroes of the City (one of Maximo’s favorite!). You can download all your favorite videos in advance, and have them all hosted on the app so they’re ready to play even during those really remote patches of highway through the middle of no where. Available for Apple and Google.

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2. Pack light.

Traveling with kids can test your limits on packing. You’ll find yourself bringing their entire room of clothes and toys, but be realistic. You can’t fit all of that into the trunk of a car let alone a suitcase for a flight. Pick clothes that are easy to pair and match with other items so you can mix them up, and only bring a few key pieces. 

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My favorite: Cute, one-of-a-kind tees from Littlebean Threads. These simple and cute tees are versatile, and unique so your child will still look chic while traveling for hours on the road.

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3. Have a plan

Pittsburgh is about six hours from New York City. I try to leave about an hour before Max takes his nap so he’s had some time to run out his energy in the morning, before sleeping the first leg of the trip in the car. This makes the first part enjoyable as the kids get a nap, and parents get quiet time, or can listen to their own music for once. I stop half way in for a lunch break, usually at a place like Chick-Fil-A that has a great (and clean!) kid-friendly area and food options so he can again burn off some energy before the last couple hours in the car (which are usually occupied by the iPad). 

4. Prep

Always plan in advance for a hiccup. Whether it’s a weather delay in the airport, or a flat tire on the side of the road (they’ve both happened!), be prepared in advance in case of the worst. That doesn’t mean you have to overpack, just “prep.” If you’re driving in the winter, make sure you have a blanket in the car. If you’re flying, make sure you have something to entertain them in the airport. Have a change of clothes available just in case of an unexpected vomit. (this TOO has happened! – I recommend getting off an exit and using a hotel bathroom – they’re clean and usually totally understanding of the situation. Plus they’ll have an extra garbage bag to throw those smelly clothes in to block the smell until you get where ever you’re going). 

This also includes food. Traveling usually means not a lot of heathy options – if any at all! You don’t have to bring full meals, but you’re going to wish you had some simple snacks like a banana, peanut butter sandwich or crackers when the baby starts yelling, and the next exit is 20 miles away (that only has a sketchy gas station!). Also, ALWAYS have water on you – for emergencies. If someone is thirsty, if you break down, or if you have a messy accident, water will always save the day.

{Giveaway}

 Win a six-month subscription to Playkids for your next adventure (also GREAT for underground travel on the NYC subway), and your own cute new tee from Littlebean Threads!

Six month Subscription to PlayKids and custom tee from LittleBean Threads

 

Why Is It So Hard To Be A Calm Mom?

Hi, my name is Stephanie and I am what they refer to as a “laid back mom.” A mom who sits back and lets their child explore the world on their own, only intervening when serious pain or damage will be inflicted to my son, another person or thing. You may think: “Hey, I’m a laid back mom too!” Good for you, but let’s talk about why it’s not always easy being the calm mom.

Trust me, I am not a “calm” person by nature. I am loud, outspoken and occasionally kick a cab when it gets too close to my stroller. However, as a parent, I tend to let my son “be a kid.” Let me give you some examples.

Scenario #1

The other day I attended a “kid-friendly” birthday party for a mom. Since the invite stated to bring the kids along, I brought Max. It was a setup. This was not a kid-friendly home. Everything was made of glass or had sharp edges—and they were all within reach of my toddler’s hands. Surprisingly, they have two kids of their own, and all the kids (ages 4 to 10) were confined to the bedroom to play. I think you can see where this is going.

Toddlers don’t like to be confined. Toddler boys like to climb, explore and maybe toss some toys around. As long as he’s not going to send anyone to the emergency room, or costing me a month’s rent in damage, I let him do his thing. However, sometimes this isn’t okay to other parents. Especially uptight parents. Max didn’t want to play with the kids—he wanted to climb up on the couch and look out the window at the trains going by outside. Nothing wrong there, I thought, but apparently this made the host extremely nervous. Then Max got overly excited and threw a rubber toy on the floor.

It was later brought to my knowledge that the hosts were not fond of Max, and thought he was going to dent their wood floors or break something, including his neck climbing on the couch. So, why say this is a kid-friendly event? I felt like I was on that episode of Sex and the City where the hosts don’t serve brown food or drink at a house party because they don’t want to risk any spills. If you’re going to act like this, why have a party (or invite kids) in the first place?

If you had to choose between Max having a full breakdown in front of everyone because I won’t let him watch the trains, which is harmless, or making him sit in a bedroom with older kids, what would you do? Being the classy person that I am, I just calmly rounded up Max’s things and left without saying good-bye and causing a scene. But since when were kids expected to act like perfect angels under the age of two?

Scenario #2



There was once an awful scary time when I had to call 911 and an ambulance showed up. (You can read the entire story here.) I rode with Max to the hospital, holding him in the back of the ambulance and the medics told me I was the calmest mother they had ever seen. I didn’t think anything of it, and took it as a compliment that I could stay calm in an emergency situation.

Later I learned that it’s a red flag, and the natural reaction is to freak out. Being calm can mean we actually hurt our child, looking for attention like we are the hero. I swear! I even know a friend who was reported for being too calm!

As a child, I grew up on a farm far away from people and hospitals. I learned that when something serious happens, you have to be able to stay calm and react because guess what—no one is there to help you. There were no cell phones, and the closest hospital could be over 30 minutes away from your home. If you were in the field, on a tractor—well, let’s just say we hope it isn’t life threatening!

Are we teaching ourselves as parents, and thus showing our children, that it’s not okay anymore to remain calm or take a step back? To let children explore and climb? Some people scour when I tell them I have been taking Max on the New York City subway since he was two months old. How could I ever expose my child to such filth? Well, guess what, Maximo never even got sick until after he turned one. How’s that for exposure?

My point?

If you say your place is kid-friendly, make sure you aren’t going to need a Xanax because I bring my son along.

If you see my son climbing on the jungle gym on the playground, know that I am there and watching, but from a distance. He’s fine.

Realize that if some seriously bad stuff goes down, you’re going to be happy there is a calm mom like me around to help handle the situation.

This post was originally published on MommyNearest.com.

Surviving the First-Time-Mom Invitation Season – Minted {Giveaway}

A lot of my friends are finally getting married and having kids. I knew I started the trend – of babies that is. I look back and remember just how many cards I was sending out when I was pregnant – baby shower cards, birth announcements, Baptism save-the-dates and even the first holiday card AND first birthday announcements. Did I mention writing out all those thank you cards? So I decided to put together a little list to help these first-time-moms get ready for all those paper cards they’ll be ordering soon. 

Who helped me through? Minted.

Minted has the prettiest cards by far that are fitting for any type of mom – fancy mom, partier turned mom, urban mom, farmer mom – you name it. 

Planning the Baby Shower

Pregnant moms don’t really have time (well, if it’s their first, maybe they have a little time!) to be worrying about all these little details – so I figured I would be a good friend and help them out a little by picking my favorite designs. Minted offers tons of options for all walks of life, but I thought this one was cute for my urban moms:

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And this one for my ladies who are giving up the party life and moving into motherhood. Hey – we’ve all been there! I threw a kegger as a baby shower, so I know you all like to party.

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Thank You Notes

Don’t think you can get away without some thank you notes. Yes, you better get started writing them now, and you can order in advance so you won’t have to worry about wobbling out to pick some up with that big belly. One of my favorites is this thank you note that is fitting for the yinzers in my life. You can customize it, so these are great thank you’s for any reason – so you’ll be able to use any extras you have left over!

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Birth Announcements

And then comes along baby! You are saying now that you won’t but trust me, you will! Once that little bundle pops you’ll want to show them off to the world. We even made magnets so now little baby Maximo still clings to our friends and families refrigerators. I picked this theme from Minted as my favorite, because like me, I know you’re going to have a hard time picking just ONE photo – so just go ahead and use three.

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Birthday Parties

Don’t think you also won’t be already planning for those first birthday invitations. Or second. Or third. Since Maximo is obsessed with trains, I am already planning for his big-3 to be all about the choo choos, and thought this invitation was pretty cute, yet still manly, you know, for a boy. So if you get this one in the mail in a few months – don’t be surprised!

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Cause Life Happens

Just because we’re getting ready to make the big M-O-V-E into Manhattan, I felt it might be a good time to commemorate the occasion. We’ll be throwing a goodbye Queens party. I thought these invitations were adorable to send out because (1) I own a couple companies and I’m going to have to update everyone on my new address and location, and (2) everyone is always wondering what your address is anyways – so this way they’ll be able to save it to update for birthday and christmas cards when they’re going to ask me anyways! Plus, living in NYC as a single mom is an EFFIN ACCOMPLISHMENT. I’ll probably frame one of these on my walls as well. 

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{GIVEAWAY}

Want to get a head start on those invitations ladies? Minted has teamed up with me to give away a $50 gift certificate. All you preggos (and brides) I’m looking at you! Enter below!

 

$50 Minted Gift Card