My favourite season of the year is here and, as I do every year, I vow to enjoy it. I don’t complain about the endless heat because, sadly, it isn’t endless in Southern Ontario. I do my best to leave the comforts of an air conditioned house and experience some of the amazing activities, events, and memories that can only be found this time of year. Though summer has my heart, it also has a few challenges and when adding two children into the mix, it can get tricky. But, now that we are into the full swing of the season, I have found my groove and am sharing with you my favourite things to do with two! Whether you choose to beat the heat or bask in it, there is something here for everyone!
I’m not sure how any of us every grew up in a time when splash pads didn’t exist, but I think they may just be one of the best inventions ever. Each child can get as wet as they are comfortable with, they aren’t weighed down by floaties or a life jacket (but are being supervised closely by an adult), and they can run in all different types of water sprays that are so much more exciting than your lawn sprinkler. Both my 9 month old and 4 year old can play at the same time (in different ways) and I don’t have to worry about them being at different ability levels. Perhaps the best part is that most are FREE! And the second best part is that they aren’t swimming in a pool that is filled with equal parts chlorine and urine. Score one for the germaphobes!
Next on the list of things that I was deprived of growing up are these awesome indoor play spaces. When the heat and humidity is just too much to bear, head to the cool comforts of an indoor energy zapper. Kids can climb, slide, jump and dance for hours in these places and there is usually nice seating and coffee for parents to enjoy. Most play spaces have dedicated areas for smaller children and babies so we can take a cruise through an area of sensory play or smaller slides and when babe gets tired of that, I can feed him or snuggle him while big sister plays her heart out.
Who would have thought that writing on your driveway and your sidewalk could be such a thrill? I think because I forbid crayons and markers to exist anywhere play tables, drawing on the ground seems really rebellious and that means my daughter is all in. There are so many great chalk sets now that contain the chalk to a holder and make it possible for babies to play too. We trace everything, including each other, play tic tac toe and write our names with colourful flourishes. This kind of art is such a fun way for kids to express themselves and it keeps the mess outside! One rainfall or a sprinkle from the hose and you have a blank canvas.
The level of excitement over this one must stem from the same reasons as the chalk drawing. Since it is a universal fact that children are rock hoarders, the idea that they get to both hunt for a special rock AND keep it to paint on it is like Christmas in July. For my older child we use traditional paint and she can spend at least an hour combining different colours, patterns and words to make the prettiest garden stones. For my baby Picasso I use food colouring tinted water and help him transform his rocks into works of art. We keep some of our favourites and then also place others in parks and gardens where others may find them and get some enjoyment out of them too. Also, it addresses these hoarding tendencies at an early age.
When I was a child, I would visit my grandparents and wherever we would go we would pack a picnic lunch and eat it on the way. Fast food was never an option and I have such fond memories of my grandma’s triangular sandwiches and baked goods packed away in large margarine tubs. I love sharing this with my own kids now. We pick a fun place to spread out- sometimes near a playground, other times near the beach, and often somewhere where we can just people watch. We unload our spread and are free to get as messy as we want. Eating on a blanket is liberating, especially when you shake the crumbs onto nature’s floor instead of your own.
Whether you brave the beach or fill up a bin with sand, this is one activity that can keep little hands busy for hours. Grab some plastic sand toys and watch as your kids work together to fill them up, bury one another and just dig. The freedom to play in a more sophisticated form of dirt makes kids feel like they have pulled one over on you, meanwhile you sit back and read a magazine for two glorious uninterrupted minutes (to stop the next sand meal from being eaten).
Another cool spot for a hot day, your local library is a great place to spend a blistering afternoon. With all kinds of free programming geared to different age groups and abilities, there is usually something for everyone. We join the Summer Reading Club to instil a love of books (and winning prizes) early and my young readers love the independence of picking out absolutely any book they want to within the children’s area. Most libraries are equipped with so much more than books now and we spend a good part of the day playing games on the computers, putting together puzzles and even making crafts.
This is one kind of grocery shopping that can actually be enjoyable with kids. There is usually room for a stroller, you can often taste test the goods and there is always an animal or some interesting thing making an appearance. Letting kids pick out your produce increases the likelihood they will eat it and also gives them an education about where and how food is grown. With a renewed pleasure for local and home made goods, we love to discover great baked sweets, beauty products and toys that have been made by human hands and are often the best kinds of treats.
You can find them in zoos, pet stores, friend’s houses and on trips through the country, so you don’t have to travel far to find some animals for kids to love up on and delight in. Kids and animals seem to have a unique chemistry, likely due to the fact that they have the same opinions on cleanliness, indoor voices, toilet training and smiling for a camera. And they are both pretty cute to look at, so grab a candid photo while you are at it.
Though this list is by no means filled with new and innovative ideas, perhaps it will give you some inspiration on those days when bedtime can’t come soon enough and kids are melting down like an ice cream cone. Remember that summer is short so take advantage of the sticky kisses and sweaty brows while you can because, before you know it, you will be back in the season of extra layers and hours to leave the house on time.
Katie is a new mom of two and will be sharing her experiences in parenting a toddler and a newborn though this series “New with Two”.
Summer is here and it feels amazing! Worrying about the wind shield and wrestling with snow pants are distant memories, and the long, lazy days of summer are the new reality. Personally, I feel like a much more easy-going and spontaneous parent in the summer months. I rarely hesitate to leave the house, because there’s no concern of below freezing temperatures or heavy outerwear to put on. But if it’s your first summer with a little one , there are some things you need to know to best enjoy summer with a baby. Below we’ll talk water safety, being sun smart, and how to maximize your days outside.
The hot days call for refreshing water – be it a splash pad, a kiddie pool, or the lake up at the cottage. Either way, water safety is extremely important.
I love splash pads because the highest risk we face is a skinned knee if the kids fall while running through the jets of water. They’re refreshing and wet, not there is no drowning risk. These are great for all ages – babies love to sit and play with water as it pops up from the hidden jets, kids love to race through, and even parents can cool off with a quick dash inside. Do a quick scan of the splash pad before letting your kids run wild – since these are in public parks, there is always the small risk of something unsavoury like a broken bottle being on the ground. Encourage your children to keep their sandals or water shoes on as they run about, too, and always remind them to be mindful of smaller children and babies.
Typically, a kiddie pool in your town or city will have life guards on duty, but parents still need to be vigilant. I asked our local lifeguards at the kiddie pool that we frequent for a few tips and he was happy to help. I learned that the greatest risk is drowning for babies, and choking on water due to rough playing for older kids. Even in very shallow water, a baby can drown if their face is covered by water, so make sure you are always with your baby, sitting together in the water. If your kiddie pool has a gradual entry, or extremely shallow spot, she can walk to you, but never let a baby be more than an arm’s distance away. Older kids must be taught to respect the pool rules of no running and no rough housing. It can seem like a bit of a kill joy, but when faster, larger kids get rough, smaller children are at a greater danger, too. Before you go to the kiddie pool with your older kids, make sure you go over the rules with them before you let them loose.
The fresh water of a lake is one of the best parts of summer in Canada! With the vast water, it’s important to be safe with your little ones. All the same rules from the kiddie pool apply, with the additional recommendation of a flotation device for your children. If they’re in a boat, it’s the law that all passengers have an official life vest, such as the Salus Nimbus Infant vests, but even at the shore or in shallow water, puddle jumpers are a great option for kids under 50lbs.
With the warm temperatures, we like to be outside for hours on end, and sometimes all day long. Though it is dangerous on extremely hot or humid days to be outside (especially between the hours of 12pm-2pm ), there are lots of ways to stay safe and enjoy the sun while it’s here.
Hats for all ages are a must! Baby’s sun hats should be attachable, since they often like to grab them off. I love the ones that cover the back of the neck for extra sun coverage, like this one from Cali Kids. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen every 2-3 hours and after swimming. I really love the sticks for applying sunscreen to little faces – it makes the whole process so much easier and faster. Check out Sun Bum and Think Baby for great options in SPF 30, and for SPF 50 sun sticks, check brand Mustela.
If you have a little one who will be napping outdoors this summer, make sure he’s sheltered from the sun. Find a shady spot under a tree, or cover their stroller with a sun shade.
Maximize Your Days!
Always make sure you pack a swim diaper, along with enough diapers to last you several hours. You never know when you’ll run into friends, or get the urge to stop by the splash pad on your way home from the park! Pack a water bottle and some healthy snacks in your diaper bag so that you don’t need to rush home on account of hungry. If you baby still drinks formula or breastfeeds, plan accordingly. If you want to avoid peak heat hours, get out first thing in the morning, when the temperatures are coolest.
Long live summer! What are your favourite ways to beat the heat with little ones? We’d love to hear!
Emily is a Montreal-based writer and blogger, but most importantly, a mom of three littles (age five and under). She geeks out over cloth diapers, lattes, and will do just about anything to travel. You can find her on Instagram @emmorrice where she profusely overgrams pictures of her meals, kids and city.
Are you newly pregnant? Feeling unsure about what to expect from your pregnancy? Well you’re not alone. I’ve teamed up with Snuggle Bugz to share the experiences of my pregnancy with all of you. I’m talkin about the ups, the downs and the crazy. You know, those questions that are like – what the heck? OR how the? The good stuff! Thanks for tuning out the world and tuning in for some ‘baby talk’.
Who am I?
My name is Jackie. I’m normally a tired person but when you add being pregnant, HOLY I’m tired on a whole new level. I’m almost 6 months pregnant and I’ve probably slept for half of it. Ok, maybe this is a slight exaggeration but I do nap for about 2 hours a day. I keep telling myself that I’m getting my sleep now because I’ll be a zombie once this baby arrives. Trust me, I know what it’s like to live off of very little sleep. I was a morning show host for CHCH’s Morning Live First Edition for 4 1/2 years.
TV Life vs. Baby Life
If you can believe it, I used to wake up at 1:30am to be at work for 2:30am 5 days a week. Good practice for kids I guess right? The only difference was that I was allowed to go home at 10am and I would sleep all afternoon. I understand that that’s not quite acceptable when your nursing a baby. I also hosted Tiny Talent Time on CHCH, I was the weather and traffic girl for Morning Live and I was one of the hosts for The Shopping Channel. How can these jobs help me with baby life? I can mange up to 40 kids at a time, plan a week’s worth of outfits, multi-task but still can’t seem to avoid the traffic and make it to things on time but hey… I’ll have a kid to blame for that soon enough haha.
A New Chapter
A lot of people would agree that TV is coming to the end of it’s tracks. The only reason we have cable in our house is so my husband can watch basketball, baseball, football or golf. With that said, I’d definitely be ok if we didn’t have it. Who’s with me? Knowing this I knew it was time to find another career. It was SUPER scary to make the leap. To trust that I could actually make a living doing something that I was crazy passionate about. Oh and how the heck can you plan for children when you haven’t even established your full time career yet?! I know I’m not alone in this. I had a plan. I wanted to have my life sorted before I was 30 and I was hoping for my first child by 29. Luckily, I’ve always had a passion for Interior Design and decided about 2 years ago to start working as an Interior Stylist part time while I was working at The Shopping Channel. BEST DECISION EVER. When I was let go, it made things so much easier to transition to a full time career and to make the switch. I’m not going to lie, being let go from a job is never easy. Especially, when you’re working in Television and you’re in the public eye. It did however, make it a bit less painful because I had a backup plan. I currently work for Karin Bennett Designs in Burlington and have done so for the past 2 years. In fact, we redesigned the entire Nestled store. Have you been yet?!? If not, you are in for QUITE the treat. The decor is outstanding. Makes it quite difficult to narrow things down to just one nursery to take home. It honestly took months of drafting, 3D Renderings and Vision Boards to pull the space together but we are OVER THE MOON with the way everything turned out.
Are you finding out if you’re having a boy or a girl? We’re not. We love the fact that this is just one of those things we have no control over and we’re up for the BIG surprise. With that in mind, it’s HARD to plan a gender neutral nursery these days. I’m so excited to bring you along on our nursery journey. I’ll be heading to Nestled to check out the latest and greatest. We’ll talk colours, co-ordination, lifestyle, longevity and of course the decor. I’ll be blogging about nursery themes and trends and would love to give you tips and tricks for your nursery as well. That’s going to be a great time for you to ask me your burning design questions.
Pregnancy So Far…
If you’re like me you open a baby app on your phone every week to see how big your baby is. And yes, I watch the weekly videos. My husband always knows when I’ve gone up another week because it’s the first thing I do in the morning. I’ll be 24 weeks on Saturday and I can’t believe it! I know our parents always say, “where has the time gone” and “you’re growing up so fast” but SERIOUSLY… this pregnancy can slow down anytime now. I don’t think the summer helps because everything is always so fast paced. Before ya know it it’s Christmas (my absolute favourite time of the year). I’ll delve a little more into what I’ve been using while I’m pregnant in my next post and some of the symptoms I’ve been having. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through this pregnancy it’s that every pregnancy is completely different. Don’t worry mamma, we’re in this together.
Jackie is a Southern-Ontario based TV Host, Interior Stylist and first-time mom due in October. Follow her journey through pregnancy and into parenthood weekly through this series “Baby Talk” with Jackie and check out her Nursery planning tips and tricks in her blog “Nursery Style” with Jaclyn Colville.
Well, now that baby #2 is almost officially 9 months old and has spent as much time on the outside as he was on the inside, it is more than time to get serious about shedding the baby weight (before it becomes toddler weight). I fall into the same category as many second (and third, fourth, etc) moms who hadn’t lost all the extra weight from the first time around, so naturally, starting the journey this time is even more overwhelming. After starting and stopping more times than I can count, I am working on some strategies for long term success and commitment since every time I “quit” it seems to be that much harder to rally the motivation to start again. I’m in no real place to give advice or tips on this topic (the health and fitness industry would cry if I did), but I am happy to share my journey, tools, and plans in the spirit of accountability and we’re-in-this-togetherness. With two children, the task has certainly not gotten any easier since there is one more person that now comes before my own self care. On the bright side though, as a veteran Mama I also have a better understanding of what I can sacrifice in order to make ME a priority and work towards these goals. Here are some of the strategies I am working to implement to make this second time a charm.
Realistic but Real:
The time in my life where I can devote all of my energy towards healthy eating, meal prep, and exercise is gone, and this weight took several
months years to gain, so it is not going to come off quickly. It will be a slower-than-I’d-like, challenging, frustrating process that will require more dedication and commitment than ever before and I need to be easy on myself. That’s the realistic part. Now, comes the REAL talk. Motherhood is hard. Labour is hard. Toddlers and tantrums and waiting to drink wine until after bedtime is hard. But I’ve done it all and have come out fairly unscathed. I can do hard things if I am willing to try. So, like a child at bedtime, I am going to put all my energy into not giving up and remember that the hardest things usually have the best rewards.
Don’t Believe the Breastfeeding Lie:
If it worked for you, then that is fantastic (and I will pretend to still like you), but the rumour that weight just melts off if you’re breastfeeding is certainly NOT true in my case. If anything, I feel like it stacks the cards against me. I am constantly hungry, I now need to wear two sports bras to contain that bouncy milk supply, and I am tied to the baby with a feeding schedule that limits when I can exercise and eat. BUT, I know that my nutrition is key to a healthy supply and also to passing those healthy nutrients on to baby, and that for me is a motivator to make good choices. Knowing that breastfeeding alone will not allow me to lose the weight takes it mostly out of the equation and I will stop eating chocolate chips while I am nursing, thinking that I am burning them off as I go.
Channel Your Inner Dad:
I’m sure there are many biological and hormonal reasons for it, but it seems in most cases women have a much harder time leaving their children than men do. This must be the reason that I am grocery shopping on a Sunday with two children while my husband is home alone watching football. (Or maybe I am just a really great wife?) The point is, Dads seem to have the ability to love their children immensely but to also leave them on occasion in order to fit in time for themselves/sports/friends/beer/gym/hour long bathroom breaks, etc. Now that this is my second go around, I’ve started to let go of the mom guilt when I leave at bedtime (and surprisingly don’t miss getting my child her 32nd glass of water in bed). I can take some time for myself to go to the gym or on a walk with a friend in order to relieve the stress that can make losing weight very difficult. Whether it is your partner, your mom, your sister or your friend, accepting help with your kids allows you time to take care of yourself and recharge those batteries that have been running on empty. You will likely return happier and in turn, less likely to eat all your feelings.
The Problem is the Solution:
Those adorable little monsters that got you into this predicament can also help get you out. There will never be more than 24 hours in a day but you can make the most of the time you do have and include your kids in your activities. One of the best investments I’ve made in my health is in my running stroller. I have a Thule Cross 2 jogging stroller that allows me to keep both kids contained and comfortable while I get my sweat on. The best part is that I can use this for multiple activities (bike, walk, jog, and even ski) so that it switches things up for us all. I used to try longer walks with my regular stroller and after a while the kids would get restless, cutting our trip short. With the jogging stroller the ride is smoother and they also have more room to relax so they can last for a 5km run with no issue. I also use my baby carrier for more leisurely walks or activities where my older child roams free and I have the benefit of carrying an extra 20 lbs to increase that burn. Involving your kids in your plans also sets a great example and teaches them about healthy eating and exercise from an early age.
Once you decide what methods you will use to cut calories/ lose the weight, be accountable and write it all down to stay on track. I use an app to track my calories and stay within my daily range and I also keep a written journal to write down the way I am feeling. I write my “why” on the first page and whenever I feel myself faltering I revisit the reasons that I want to achieve a healthier lifestyle and body. As much as I dislike writing it down every day, it is somewhat cathartic and sometimes I find I write things down about the day that I didn’t even know I was feeling in the moment. Taking the time to reflect on how my choices throughout the day were tied to my emotions also helps me identify triggers and create strategies to maintain my healthy habits even when I want to eat all the chips in the house. It may also turn out to be a pretty interesting record of what life was like with littles when you read it ten years from now.
So, here is to our success! Whatever goals you are working toward, be they big or small, may you find a strategy that works for you and maybe one of these above will help you in your journey too. And, by all means, if you have some great tips you want to share, I am all ears!
Katie is a new mom of two and will be sharing her experiences in parenting a toddler and a newborn though this series “New with Two”.
The time will eventually come when you must exit your newborn bubble and leave the house again. There is a good chance that the second (or third, fourth, etc) time around will be even sooner than it was with your first as you have another little person to attend to. For some, taking both children out together for the first time can be a very daunting task. My first born is already four so I didn’t worry as much as I can
bribe reason with her and manage her behaviour easier than if she was a tinier terror. Adjusting to carrying out tasks with twice the occupancy does take some time and practice but with a few tips and a lot of wine patience, you will be a pro in no time.
Snacks. All the snacks.
Boredom= Hunger so if you are at the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment or on a walk longer than 30 seconds, children become ravenous. Having a snack bag on hand helps keep the hangry at bay and also keep them occupied. Bonus points for healthy snacks and triple word score if it is something that takes a really long time to eat!
A seat for each rider
When you are doing anything with small children it is always helpful to have them each in a seat that allows them to be both comfortable and also contained. Your double stroller is amazing if age appropriate but a ride on board that keeps your older child on board also works well. The invention of a double seat in grocery carts should win a nobel prize in my opinion as children free to roam the store will surely knock over at least one display of stacked coconuts. Plus, children forced to walk for any length of time when it is not to an activity of their choosing are ripe for a meltdown, and nobody wants to carry a screaming toddler home from anywhere.
Remember that you’re not an octopus.
Since you don’t have eight hands to satisfy each child’s every whim and demand, free up the two you do have and go hands free when possible and necessary. If you are taking a trip to the park, a baby carrier is the perfect place for baby to relax while simultaneously allowing you to push swings, open water bottles and carry rocks and dandelion bouquets. Backpack style diaper bags are also great for going handsfree but also being prepared with your on the go essentials. For destinations in your stroller, an organizer will free you up from holding on to your phone/water/keys/coffee and allow you to push freely.
You’re on the clock
Consider your children’s ages and how much time they can handle doing any one activity. If your baby naps every 90 minutes then capping your trip at one hour will leave you with enough time to be home for a nap and not wear your babe out. Similarly, in the blazing summer heat, extended trips to the park will result in a sweaty meltdown if you are not careful about limiting your stay. Plan your trip and stick to your timeline and you will set yourself up for success.
It’s ok to be a quitter
If, in spite of your best preparations and planning, the wheels fall off and the trip becomes an absolute disaster, don’t be afraid to abort the mission and call it a day. We all have bad days and there will be some days that are just better spent at home than battling the terrible twos, teething and traffic.
Whether your first trip out with your twosome is a fantastic success or a giant failure, remember to enjoy the journey and the destination. They won’t always be little, they won’t always hate the car seat and they won’t always fit in the grocery cart. Some of my most favourite times with my children are when we are out adventuring, even if the adventure is just deciding what we will have for dinner tonight while browsing aisle four. Setting the expectation that outings- whether fun or functional- are a part of every day life will make them just that and your kids will likely settle in and enjoy the side by side, reclined ride.
Katie is a new mom of two and will be sharing her experiences in parenting a toddler and a newborn though this series “New with Two”.
- Product Feature – Reese and Luke: Family Skin Care Essentials July 21, 2017
- Summer Pregnancy Necessities July 20, 2017
- Fun and Done- Summer Survival Guide July 19, 2017
- Planning a Nursery? Here’s where to start. July 17, 2017
- Voluntary Recall: Caramia Furniture July 14, 2017
Posts You Might Like
- Baby Registry
- Behind the Bumps
- Brand Spotlight
- Car Seat Safety
- Cloth Diapering
- Diaper Bags
- Double Strollers
- Get the Look
- Life With Baby
- Mom Talk
- Nursery Styles
- Potty Training
- Product Feature
- Product Recalls
- Product Reviews
- Save vs Splurge
- The Mom Files
- Winter Gear