Top Tips for Budgeting for Back to School

Budgeting for back to school? Yeah, aren’t we all! I have a first grader this year, which means he’ll now need a backpack. And I also have two new high schoolers this year! Both have had the same backpacks since third grade (wow!) and need upgrades. And of course the added expenses of new shoes, school supplies and replacing outgrown clothing. But do we really need to buy ALL of those new things? Check out my tips for assessing what you have and how I’m budgeting for back to school time!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

This post was originally published August 6th, 2014

Budgeting for Back to School

The stores have us in the mid-set that “back to school” means freshly sharpened pencils, crisp new clothes and brand new shoes. There must be a snazzy new backpack, bright new spiral bound notebooks and never-used crayons. All the kids in the ads look like there is no better place to be than at school, decked out head-in-toe in shiny new stuff!

Sure, new stuff might soften the landing a bit for kids who are reluctant and cranky about starting the new school year. But what if you don’t need anything new this year? What if the school stuff they were just using back in June is still fine and acceptable for September?

I think all kids love getting brand new stuff but it’s certainly not always necessary, especially if what they have is still in usable condition. Why waste money buying or replacing items that are truly good and usable just because it’s what you’ve “always done” or because the stores are having a sale!

Here are my top tips on how not to get sucked into the Back to School buying trap!

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

Assess What You Already Have

Put your credit card back in your wallet. Before you run out and buy a bunch of new stuff, you need to figure out what things are essentials and what things can be skipped this year. You’ll do this by assessing what you already have and determining what you truly need to replace.

BACKPACKS & LUNCH BAGS

  • Inspect the current backpack. Are straps, zippers and hooks all in good working order? Sometimes all the backpack needs is a good washing! During the year, I have my kids completely clean out their backpacks every two weeks and we toss them into the laundry. Upkeep is important during the entire year to keep items in good working condition. If the backpack is truly broken or has an un-repairable rip or tear, then it’s time to toss and buy new.
  • Consider purchasing a quality backpack that will get your student through multiple years and has a guarantee. I bought my son’s backpack from L.L. Bean before he started 3rd grade. That backpack got him all the way through to the 8th grade! (And you have to know how rough boys are with their stuff!) We’re only replacing it because he needs a larger version.
  • My daughter also has a backpack from L.L. Bean and the hanging strap frayed towards the end of the year. I was able to exchange for a brand new one! L.L. Bean has a great return policy and stands by their products, replacing even if it’s been used. Buy the best you can afford and don’t waste money buying something cheap that you’ll have to replace mid-year.
  • Lunch bags should be washed every week during the school year to keep them sanitary and in good condition. Treat stains right away to avoid them setting in. If the hook & loop closure, zipper or snaps are broken off and can’t be repaired or there is a funky smell that doesn’t dissipate with washing, it’s time to buy a new one.
Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

My son started third grade with this backpack and used it all the way to 8th grade!

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

  • Every page used up in the spiral notebook? Okay, time to buy a new one. Only half the pages used? Rip out the used pages and finish up with it before buying another.
  • Broken crayons or paper peeled off? Relegate them to the arts and crafts bin at home or toss them out. Gently used crayons that still work just fine? Keep ’em and there is no need to buy a new box. Same goes for pencils, pens, glue, glue sticks and erasers! If they are still in usable condition then just keep using them.
  • Folders with rips can be repaired and reinforced along the spine with a strip of colorful duct tape. Decorate the fronts with markers or Washi Tape.
  • Plastic pencil boxes often just need a cleaning (run it through the dishwasher after wiping it out). A good scrubbing with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will bring it back to like-new condition. Colorful stickers decorating the top will make it “new to you”.

Read More: Motivation for School to Keep Kids (and Moms!) On Track

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

CLOTHES

  • Pants with blown-out knees beyond repair or that are now high-water length should either be tossed into the rag bin or delegated to donation. Tees and sweaters with unfixable holes, unsightly stains or that are too short at the waist or sleeves face the same fate. Socks that are too small, have holes or that are heavily stained make good cleaning rags. Underpants that are too tight or have stretched out elastic should be thrown out.
  • Based on what is still in the closet and drawers, assess the need for additional items at that point. Kids probably don’t need more than 7 of each daily wear item (one for each day of the week), so 7 long sleeved tees, 7 short sleeved, 7 pairs of pants, etc. My kids do have more than this, just for the sake of variety. However kids don’t really need in excess (it also helps to streamline the morning dressing routine when they have less to choose from!) I rarely buy my kids brand new clothes at the store any more unless it’s something like a Christmas or birthday gift. When I buy new items, I shop either Gymboree because they have high quality clothes that resist stains (and great sales throughout the year). I buy gently used clothing at the local thrift store or online at ThredUp.

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

SHOES

  • Shoes with holes or completely worn out soles should be thrown out. Put decent but dirty shoes into the washing machine or the sink for a scrubbing. Finish by cleaning up the rubber with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to bring them back to life. Replace frayed or stained shoe laces with bright new ones.
  • It’s tempting to buy cheap shoes when your kid’s feet are growing! I recommend buying high quality shoes that will last until your child outgrows them. I have personally had great luck with Pediped shoes. My daughter wore her pair almost every school day for a year. I was able to toss them into the wash every other week and only when they were getting tight did they develop a small hole in the sole. I definitely recommend paying a little more for one or two fantastic pairs of shoes (rather than 5 or 10 pairs of cheap and poorly made shoes that will need constant replacing).

Read More: Kid’s Back to School Clothing Hacks and Budget Tips

Top Tips for Budgeting for Back to School

Discuss Budgeting for Back to School With Your Kids

If your kids are accustomed to getting brand new stuff every year but this year they don’t truly need anything, you’ll need to address this with them upfront. Kids are going to expect the regular back-to-school shopping extravaganza and if it’s not going to happen this could set them up for disappointment. You’re going to have some very disgruntled kids going back to school with “the same old stuff”.

  • Involve your kids in the assessing process. Discuss how the closet full of clothes still fit,  are in good shape & will be acceptable for them right now.
  • Allow kids to decorate last year’s pencil boxes or folders with fun washi tape, Duct Tape or stickers.
  • Attach a fun key chain or fob to the zipper pull to freshen up last year’s backpack or hoodie.
  • Compromise by purchasing one new (or “new to them”) outfit for the first day of school and to wear for school pictures.

Read More: 12 Secrets to Successful and Stress-free School Mornings

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

Divert The Focus Off of “Getting New Stuff”

Get back to the heart of what going back to school is all about and take the focus off the need for new stuff by starting new family traditions that don’t include buying new stuff.

  • Take pictures of your new student.
  • Cook a special first day breakfast or dinner.
  • Greet them with balloons on the front door when they get home.
  • Create a first day interview that you can save in your memory box.
  • Serve a special dessert.

Read More: 5 Ways to Make the First Day of School Extra Special

Just make the day special for them! Here’s to new adventures…even while wearing last school year’s shoes!


In what ways are you budgeting for back to school? 

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have. #BacktoSchool #budget #Kids #School #Fall #Budget #SavingMoney

 

 

 

1 Change That Now Lets Me Do 4 Things

I made a decision three months ago that completely changed my life. Seriously. I’d wanted to have LASIK eye surgery so I could ditch my glasses and I finally did it. And you know what? It truly has changed my life. That one thing has changed so many things in my life, I can’t even believe it.

I received a discounted rate from Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center in San Diego to facilitate this post series about laser eye surgery. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Medical procedures vary between patients so please seek a personal consultation with Clearview to see if you are a candidate for LASIK.

When I went for my three month post op appointment, Dr. Sandy T. Feldman commented on my beaming smile. She knew! She knew how happy this one thing is. Being able to see clearly without glasses or contacts? It’s truly a life changing event. I’m seeing clearly. I’m feeling more adventurous. And I definitely have more time and less hassle.

My successful LASIK surgery results are allowing me to do things I’ve never been able to do before! Here are a few things that I’m able to do now that I’ve had my LASIK surgery.

I Can Swim and Play in the Water

This was one of the things I’d mentioned in my post-surgery article. I wanted to be able to enjoy the Disney World water parks with my family on our trip. And I totally did!

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

In the past, you wouldn’t have found me anywhere at a water park except for in a lounge chair or maybe the lazy river. Wearing my contacts, I would have been too worried about getting spray in my eyes to ever brave a water slide. And if I’d been wearing my glasses, I would have hated having them splashed with water every three seconds!

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

But as you can see from the photos, I did everything at the water parks and had a fantastic time. Since returning from my vacation I’ve been spending nearly every day in the pool, swimming alongside my kids. I’m finally enjoying my life and not wasting it, sitting on the sidelines.

I Can Pack Lighter

Another post-op wish was that I’d never again have to worry about packing all my eye care essentials when traveling. It was a blessing to pack my vacation luggage and not have to bring the giant jug of contact lens solution, the contact case, the cleaner, my glasses, my glasses case and my glass cleaning spray and cloth.

I Can Go Straight to Bed

It’s still the strangest feeling to put on my pajamas, brush my teeth, wash my face and get into bed without having to remove and clean contacts. My vision had been so bad, I always had to keep my glasses on the night stand “just in case” I needed to get up in the night.

I Can Skip the “Morning Contacts” Routine

And what do I see when I wake up  in the morning? An alarm clock that I can actually read! I jump out of bed and go about my day. No need to ever think about putting on my glasses or inserting my contacts again. It’s a very special feeling to know that these are MY EYES and my clear vision is ALL ME!

Want to follow my LASIK story? Here are the two posts prior:

Weaning a Toddler – 3 Tricks I Used to Stop Breastfeeding

I never expected to breastfeed my daughter past a year. My eldest son weaned at 13 months. My second son weaned himself at 10 months old. But my daughter appeared to be in for the long haul. I was a stay-at-home-mom with 24/7 nursing access. And with 3 other kids in the house, it was often easier to just “give in” and nurse her rather than deal with the fussing. Let me say that in my experience weaning a toddler takes a bit more pre-planning to stop than when your baby is younger. But I finally weaned my toddler and these are three “tricks” I used to finally stop.

Weaning a Toddler – It’s Different for Every Family

I’m going to share what worked for my daughter and I. This is what happened during the weaning process for us and obviously may or may not work for you. I know that when I was attempting to start weaning, I had a hard time finding information online. I’m hoping that these ideas might help you a little along the way.

Weaning a toddler? Follow these 3 gentle parenting "tricks" for eliminating breastfeeding sessions and how to wean a toddler completely.

Nursing a Toddler? Expect Flack from Both Sides

Last year when I was trying to wean my toddler, I wrote this post about why I was still nursing my toddler for Disney Baby. My daughter was 20 months old at the time and I was long ready to stop breastfeeding her. I wrote the post from my own personal perspective and was shocked by the feedback and comments I read on the Disney Baby Facebook page about my article.

While many moms understood the feeling I expressed (I was ready to quit but my toddler wasn’t), some gave me a very hard time. There were some that criticized why I’d want to stop nursing when breastmilk was so beneficial. And then others that thought I was being selfish for wanting to quit when my daughter still needed to nurse. And then of course there was the group that couldn’t understand why anyone would be breastfeeding a child after the infant stage.

I totally get that when I’m writing a public post it opens things up to so many different opinions. Hopefully you won’t experience the same negativity and in such a large quantity as I did. But if you’re breastfeeding a toddler, you can probably expect to hear something about it from someone.

1. Using Distraction to Shorten & Eliminate Nursing Sessions

You can’t really wean a toddler cold turkey. You’re going to keep producing milk so shortening sessions is ideal. Shortly after my daughter’s first birthday, I started working on eliminating breastfeeding sessions. I was able to use distraction when she’d asked to nurse mid-day. My daughter never took a bottle or a pacifier (she refused them both early on) so I wasn’t able to substitute either of these in place of breastfeeding.

Offering substitutions like a snack, a sipper cup or cuddle time with a book were good distractions for my toddler when she wanted to nurse. Try a new toy that you play with together only when breastfeeding is requested. The most challenging thing was getting her down to nap without the afternoon breastfeeding session. I started putting her into the stroller at the same time every day for a walk. This did the trick most days; she’d drink out of a sipper while I pushed her in the stroller and soon enough, she’d be asleep. Here are more tips on taking your baby out for a walk.

Work to find a distraction to shorten or eliminate breastfeeding sessions for your toddler. At first they may protest but it’s important that you not cave in (too often!) if your goal is weaning.

Weaning a toddler? Follow these 3 gentle parenting "tricks" for eliminating breastfeeding sessions and how to wean a toddler completely. #Toddler #Weaning #Nursing #Breastfeeding #PositiveParenting #GentleParenting #ParentingTips

Knocking Out the Night Feedings

After a few months of shortening and eliminating sessions, I was down to two nursing sessions a day (once each night before bed and then again in the night). My daughter continued on this way for another 8 months or so. I grew tired of the midnight wakings and was ready to knock that off too! When I’d tried simply refusing to allow her to nurse in the night she’d become very angry and scream. With three other kids asleep and my husband waking at 3:30 am for work every day, I just couldn’t let her scream and wake up the entire house, so this was tricky to navigate.

I stopped bringing my toddler into the bed to nurse. This was always my go-to because she could breastfeed and I’d go back to sleep! Instead I started having a sipper cup of milk ready to go in the fridge so I could offer that in place. Some nights she’d go for it, but usually not. If I did breastfeed I stayed awake, sitting in a chair, to let her nurse only just a few minutes and then aim to detach as soon as possible.

Weaning a toddler? Follow these 3 gentle parenting "tricks" for eliminating breastfeeding sessions and how to wean a toddler completely.

It was a challenge to wean a toddler who nurses to sleep. Detaching while she was still awake was key. She’d attempt to latch back on and I could often distract her by gently closing her mouth with my finger under her chin. After we’d done the abbreviated night nursings for a while, I stopped taking her to the designated “nursing chair” in the night. If she didn’t stop crying with my patting her back, I’d hold her in my arms but stay inside her room. If she cried longer than a few minutes, I’d go into the living room but NOT sit in the usual chair. It really only took a few nights of this before she got the point that I wasn’t going to night nurse anymore and she stopped asking.

2. Prepping Your Toddler

I started talking to my toddler about stopping breastfeeding long before we actually did it. During those night feedings, I’d tell her, “Only for a few minutes and then you need to go back to sleep”. When we were down to just the one feeding before bedtime, we’d talk about how “Mommy milk” was going to go bye-bye soon. I’d talk to her about how she was growing up and could drink milk from a cup now. I did these pep-talks with my toddler several months before actually stopping the nursing.

Pep-talks throughout the day can help prepare your baby for weaning. As you reduce and shorten breastfeeding sessions, you’ll produce less and less, which your toddler will notice. There are books that you can read to your toddler that help to prep them for this transition as well.


Someone Else Put Her to Bed

Shortly after my daughter’s second birthday, I had the opportunity to attend a conference out of town. This meant I’d be gone for three days and two overnights. I’d never gone even one night without nursing her before bedtime! I knew that she was ready and this would be the beginning of the end to the breastfeeding.

Grandma was in charge of bedtime while I was gone (since my husband gets up for work very early and is often in bed before the kids!) There were some tears with my daughter crying for me but not much and my daughter slept through the night. Naturally upon returning home I did have to nurse her again because I was still producing. But at that point I knew my toddler would do just fine with weaning. On to the next phase!

3. Eliminating Nursing Triggers

About a month later we had a family weekend vacation planned to Palm Springs. I thought this would be a great opportunity to eliminate the final bedtime nursing session and stop breastfeeding altogether. I talked about it with my toddler several times before the trip and told her that her Boppy Nursing Pillow (“aka: “Milk Pillow”) was going to leave our house and go to a new baby.

Without her noticing, I packed up the pillow so it wouldn’t be in the house when we returned from our trip. In the hotel, my toddler asked for milk and I told her we couldn’t nurse because we didn’t have our pillow. She was content for those two days just to snuggle and fall asleep in my arms. No crying or fussing (boy, was I surprised!)

When we returned home after the trip she went to the closet to look for Milk Pillow. Of course, I’d packed it up so it wasn’t there. She came to me and let me know she couldn’t find it. I told her a fib (“the Milk Fairy took it to a new baby!”) That seemed to be explanation enough for her. For the next several days she’d tell me that Milk Pillow was with a new baby and she never asked to nurse again!

How Will You Stop Breastfeeding Your Toddler?

Weaning a toddler? Follow these 3 gentle parenting "tricks" for eliminating breastfeeding sessions and how to wean a toddler completely.

Naturally, each mom and child have a different relationship and what worked for me here might not work for you. As far as milk production, with gradually reducing and eliminating sessions, I was able to quit without pain. It’s been over 4 weeks since our last nursing and I do still have a small amount of milk. I’ve heard that placing cabbage leaves inside of your bra helps with stopping milk production, but I haven’t done that. Instead I’m taking a “hands off” approach and not touching.

Toddlers who have been relying on the extra calories from breast milk will need to take in more food. Offer additional snacks throughout the day.

Hopefully these tips and story about what worked for my daughter and I will help guide you towards gentle weaning for your toddler!

Weaning a toddler? Follow these 3 gentle parenting "tricks" for eliminating breastfeeding sessions and how to wean a toddler completely. #Toddler #Weaning #Nursing #Breastfeeding #PositiveParenting #GentleParenting #ParentingTips

 

6 Things to Do With a Toddler

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I received product and compensation from Mead Johnson Nutrition to create this post written by me. All experiences and opinions expressed in this post are my own and not those of Mead Johnson Nutrition. You can contact Mead Johnson Nutrition with product related questions or comments toll free at 1-800-BABY-123 (1-800-222-9123).

My third baby was my little “surprise”. Several years ago I was “lucky” enough to be laid off of my full time job. The same month, I found out I was pregnant with my third child. That’s the surprise! It all worked out for the best because now, for the first time, I’ve been able to be home with one of my children. I’m just delighted to spend time teaching her and learning everything about her. Toddlers have such fun personalities with their adorable voices, at times-indecipherable language and all that boundless energy! You know, even the little tantrums don’t bother me (too much!)

Things to Do With a Toddler

It’s been a great few years and I love how we’ve been able to connect, play and grow alongside my toddler. However there are some days when I just don’t know what to do with her! I want her to learn through communication and age-appropriate activities but it can be a challenge to know just what a toddler will enjoy. My daughter has only just turned two, so she still needs lots of supervision and parental guidance with everything. How can you keep your toddler healthy inside and out? I’ve come up with a few simple crafts, exercise activities, brain-building games and ideas for proper toddler nutrition.

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

1. Creative Play & Crafts for Toddlers

Many toddlers will insist that you either play with them or at least remain with them while they’re playing. Encourage the use of toys that are “open-ended”. Classic toys like wooden blocks, vehicles, colored silk cloths and stacking cups let toddlers play creatively and in their own unique way. Here are a few suggestions for creative play and crafts to offer your toddler.

  • Finger Painting with Pudding – If your toddler keeps trying to lick off the paint, try using pudding to paint with instead. I set this up outside where I can rinse off the concrete when my daughter is done painting.
  • Indoor Tent – Set up an easy “tent” by draping a towel over two chairs or angling pillows to create a crawl space. Don’t be surprised if destroying the tent each time you set it up becomes the game!
  • Magic Mirror – Sit side by side facing a mirror and make faces. See if your toddler can mimic your expressions.
  • Sponge Stamping – Soak sponges of various sizes with water and show your toddler how to stamp them on the ground outside to leave a wet impression.
Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

Clay is a classic for toddler’s creative, open-ended play.

2. Fun Indoor Physical Exercise for Toddlers

Toddlers absolutely need physical exercise every day. If you can’t get outdoors or to the park, try these indoor exercise ideas with your toddler to help them strengthen their muscles and improve coordination.

  • Balloon Toss – Blow up a balloon and show your toddler how to tap the balloon gently with the palm of their hand to keep it in the air.
  • Stretching – The slow movements of stretching are easy for little ones to learn. Put on some peaceful music and use kid-friendly connotations like “melt to the floor like ice cream”.
  • Dance Party – Play some kid-friendly songs like the “Hokey Pokey” and “Ring Around the Rosy”. Instructional songs like these that teach the lyrics along with movements are ideal. Make up silly moves like, “wiggle like a dog after bath time” or “waddle like a penguin”.
  • Marching Band – Grab an old pot and a wooden spoon to beat out the rhythm. Teach your toddler how to march and clap and then how to synchronize both movements together.
  • Balance Beam – Tape a piece of blue painters tape on the floor and show your toddler how to walk on the line.

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

3. Brain-Building Learning Games for Toddlers

Your little one probably isn’t quite ready for board games with lots of rules. Try these basic learning games that help your toddler make brain-building connections.

  • Basket Toss – Use a laundry basket and balled up socks to create a tossing game to improve coordination.
  • Bean Bag Balance – Show your toddler how to balance a bean bag on the back of their hand, their elbow, top of their foot or her head.
  • In and Out – One of my toddler’s favorite things to do is empty the kitchen drawer that holds her sipper cups and flatware. Give your toddler some kid-friendly general use items (like cleaned-out bottles in a variety of sizes with the caps removed) and a small box to let him load and unload.
  • Sing Along – Encourage toddlers to learn lyrics and sing along to a rhythm (you’re going to have to sing along yourself to facilitate this!)

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

4. Toddler Story Time

Turn off the device and television in favor of story books and snuggles. Toddler story time is a great segue between playtime and nap time. Sometimes the books that toddlers love aren’t the ones that you’re usually drawn to! If you’re bored of reading the same books over and over, head for the library to borrow new stories.

5. Restful Time for Toddlers

As much as they might protest, a proper rest and nap time is so important. Not only for your toddler but for you as well! Toddlers that have a nap schedule just seem to have better nighttime sleeping habits too.

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

Start by cleaning up toys, indicating to your toddler that playtime is over. I offer a sipper cup with Enfagrow® Toddler Next Step™ and my toddler will sit on my lap while I read, and she drinks. Once I feel her relaxing, I’ll segue into singing some of her favorite songs and she’s ready to sleep. If she’s resistant to lying down in her crib, we’ll often go for a walk in the stroller instead, which usually helps her to nod off.

I’ve been flexible on the nap time lately, noticing that my toddler hasn’t been tired or doesn’t sleep as long with an earlier nap time. I’ve adjusted my nap schedule, pushing it back 90 minutes and finding that she’s falling asleep easier and sleeping longer. It’s all about watching and knowing your own child and what works for them.

Looking for fun things to do with a toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

6. Ensuring Proper Toddler Nutrition

Toddlers are fickle little people, especially when it comes to what they eat. One day they love peas and can’t get enough of them. The next day they’d rather toss peas on the floor than eat them! It can be frustrating and worrisome; when you’re concerned your toddler isn’t getting proper nutrients. My just-turned-two-year old is already a picky eater and I worry she’s not getting enough nutrition from the little amount of food she eats.

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

85% of brain growth happens in the first three years of life, so help ensure your toddler is getting important DHA to help nourish this brain growth. Experts recommend that toddlers have 70-100 mg/day of DHA to support early brain and eye development, but most toddlers only get 25% of the recommended amount of DHA, leaving a gap in their nutrition. The main source for DHA is fish and unfortunately many toddlers refuse to eat fish. Most of the foods that appeal to toddlers (like cereal, cheese, bananas, regular milk, chicken nuggets, mac & cheese) have 0 mg of DHA.

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

I was excited to find out about Enfagrow® Toddler Next Step™. Enfagrow Toddler is a milk-based drink ideal for kids aged 1-3 years. It has DHA and complements a toddler’s diet to help ensure good nutrition for their changing needs and tastes. I had no idea that there was a product available that has DHA for toddlers! And my little girl absolutely loves the Enfagrow Toddler, she sips it right up!

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

Enfagrow Toddler is available in a convenient 32 fl oz. liquid bottle and 32 oz. powder can. Visit Enfagrow.com to learn more about Enfagrow Toddler, to receive coupons and to request free samples.

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

This is sponsored by Enfagrow® Toddler Next Step™.

16 Ways to Surprise Your Kids (and Tips for When a Surprise Goes Bad)

SURPRISE!! You’re plotting and planning out the perfect way to surprise your kids. Maybe it’s a surprise party with all his friends for a milestone birthday. Or you’re surprising a kid with their first cell phone. I bet it’s a surprise Disney vacation!! That’s always fun, right? Ehh, maybe? Kids can be surprisingly sensitive and emotional about things that aren’t a part of their usual routine. As I’m sure you already know, sometimes the slightest thing can set off a kid’s mood. And that goes for surprises, no matter how amazing that surprise is. Surprises can make some kids cry. Or get mad. Or even be embarrassed or disappointed.

I have the tested and tried tips to surprise your kids, how to handle things when a surprise goes bad and some simply sweet ways to surprise your children.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way (without any additional cost to you). Thank you!

The Good and Bad of Surprising Kids

Last week, my daughter’s junior high school teacher sent me an email to let me know that my daughter would be receiving an award. My first question back to the teacher was, “Did you tell her she’s getting the award? We can’t make it a surprise”.

See, I’ve learned over the years that my daughter isn’t the kind of kid who enjoys surprises. Getting called up in front of her classmates to stand on stage and have the teacher offer a glowing review? That would be akin to facing the firing squad for this easily-embarrassed 14-year old. Several years back her 6th grade teacher insisted on surprising her with an award and the poor child stood in front of her schoolmates, crying openly. The teacher felt badly. And now we know: surprises just aren’t the best idea for this child.

Is there ever a good time to surprise kids? Should certain surprises be allowed? Is it a rite of passage to surprise kids and let them deal with it, even if it might upset them?

Is surprising your kids ever a good idea? These are the tips for how to plan a perfect surprise, what to do if a surprise goes wrong and 16 sweet surprises for kids!

Is a surprise birthday party ever a good idea?

WHY Do You Want to Surprise Your Child?

Whether is a surprise trip or a birthday surprise party, the temptation to plan a huge SURPRISE for kids is strong! The question you need to ask is “Why”? If you think that the surprise adds to the celebration, then go forward (after reading the rest of the cautions in this post!). But if the surprise is just your way of sharing the information then the actual event should stand on its own. Don’t diminish the celebration by tacking on the surprise beginning unless it’s adding that-much-more to the emotional punch. And if you think that your child can appropriately handle the surprise as well.

Who’s In On the Surprise?

Secret keeping. Little white lies. Sneaking. It can be hard to keep a surprise a secret. More often than not, the person getting surprised starts getting an uneasy feeling that something fishy is going on. If your surprise relies on being overly sneaky or telling your child a lie, you may want to rethink the surprise plan. No child wants that awkward feeling when the truth is revealed. And many kids won’t appreciate that you planned something special without them. They may have hurt feelings knowing that you were keeping secrets with their teacher/grandparent/friends behind their back. It won’t matter to them the reasoning, they may be upset all the same.

Is surprising your kids ever a good idea? These are the tips for how to plan a perfect surprise, what to do if a surprise goes wrong and 16 sweet surprises for kids!

A surprise trip to the beach after church was a welcome respite.

Know Your Child Before You Plan a Surprise

My 6-year old son is a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. I could surprise him with just about anything and he’d go joyfully right along with it. I’ve surprised him with a Disneyland trip and he was just delighted. But not every kid is like that.

In fact, most kids (and some adults) are the opposite. Many kids need ample time to process before an event. Only you truly know your child and how they will react to a surprise. There’s no point in planning what’s supposed to be a FUN event and then having the initial reaction put a damper on the celebration.

Easing Kids Into Surprises

Not sure how your child will react to a surprise? Start small with little surprises and see how it goes. Little changes in the regular routine can help your kids to be more flexible. Try something like, “Today we’re doing something different! We’re doing/going to….” and then surprise them with something that’s unusual for your normal schedule. Make it something that your kid usually enjoys, like the park, library, movies, play date, picnic, baking cupcakes, etc. See how your child reacts to the change in routine and you’ll be able to gauge how they’ll react to a bigger surprise.

Is surprising your kids ever a good idea? These are the tips for how to plan a perfect surprise, what to do if a surprise goes wrong and 16 sweet surprises for kids!

Everyone’s in the car, but the destination is a surprise!

Surprises That Involve Friends

The very essence of a surprise is the reaction that it ensues. The reaction from your child after a surprise could be a squeal of excitement. It could also be embarrassment or overwhelming emotions that can’t be contained. And no child wants to cry in front of their friends.

What to Do Instead

While a surprise birthday party with your child’s entire class might sound like a blast to you, this may be incredibly overwhelming for your kid. Instead of a surprise, involve your child in the planning process so they have more control over the events. If you REALLY want to create a surprise that includes friends, choose carefully. Invite only one or two very close friends that are more like family.

Some kids even feel awkward opening gifts in front of their friends. The uncomfortable feeling of not knowing “What’s inside?!” and then having to gauge a proper response in front of a crowd can make some kids upset. Consider opening gifts after the party if your child can’t handle the surprise element of opening gifts in front of their friends.

Is surprising your kids ever a good idea? These are the tips for how to plan a perfect surprise, what to do if a surprise goes wrong and 16 sweet surprises for kids!

Disneyland or Walt Disney World Surprise

Living just 90 minutes from Disneyland, I’ve had my share of Disneyland surprise vacations. I have a vivid memory of my parents surprising us with a Disney day instead of going to school. I was about ten years old and the surprise was great! I’ve also surprised my son on his birthday with a Disneyland trip. We go to Disney frequently so he was familiar and excited about the day trip. And I think that’s the key. He’d been to Disneyland before so the place, events, rides, etc wasn’t a surprise; just the fact that we were going was the surprise. But once I surprised him with the day’s plans, he was thrilled because he knew what to expect when we got there.

My friend and fellow blogger Jessica at The Happiest Blog on Earth suggests that parents Don’t Do a Surprise Disneyland Trip. Jessica brings up some great points, including my favorite – Kids should be involved in the Disney vacation planning. I’m totally against making your very first Disney vacation a complete surprise. I always cringe when I hear about parents taking their kids to the airport and getting on a plane to Disney when the kids don’t know where they’re headed. If your kids have been before a surprise may go over better because they know what to expect. But if it’s your first time, I recommend letting kids get involved in the planning before the trip.

A surprise birthday Disneyland trip for my son’s 5th birthday. It went over well because he’s been to Disneyland before.

Disney Vacation Surprise Twists

You can still make the vacation a surprise, if it’s handled in a delicate way. There are tons of cute ways to surprise the kids at home, several months ahead of your trip. If you’re planning a Disney vacation, I recommend ordering the Disney Video Planning Guide (it’s FREE!). Watch it together as a family and plan your trip.

CLICK THE IMAGE TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE DISNEY VACATION PLANNING VIDEO

Then check out these other tips:

Is surprising your kids with a Disney vacation ever a good idea? These are the tips for how to plan a perfect surprise, what to do if a surprise goes wrong and 16 sweet surprises for kids! #Disney #Surprise #TravelwithKids #DisneyWorld #Disneyland #FamilyTravel #TravelPlanning #Positiveparenting



Time to Let the News Soak In

Don’t think that you can’t EVER surprise your kids! Surprises are ultimately changes in what’s expected. Kids absolutely need to learn how to be flexible, how to roll-with-the-punches and how to adjust to change. But there are ways of doing a surprise that honors your child’s personality, doesn’t embarrass them and also builds their trust in you.

Make a Surprise Announcement

Instead of making the surprise happen right then and there, make the announcement the surprise. Avoid putting kids “on the spot” by making surprise announcements at home without an audience.

To Video or Not?

I know you may want to video the surprise but we all know kids act weird when we turn on the camera! Consider hiding the camera to show them the video later (and only share if you have their consent).

Is surprising your kids ever a good idea? These are the tips for how to plan a perfect surprise, what to do if a surprise goes wrong and 16 sweet surprises for kids!

Surprise, we bought you a new bike!

Allow Time Between the Announcement and the Event

Processing thoughts and feelings can take some kids time. Personally for my kids, I try to inform them several months before a trip. This allows us to discuss the plans over and over, to talk about our activities, meals and schedule. Fortunately we’ve never had any travel meltdowns and I know that pre-vacation prep is a big part of that reason. When we know what to expect, we can relax and know what’s going to happen next.

When a Surprise Goes Bad

So what happens if a surprise goes badly? Your son screamed when you surprised him with the announcement that he’s going to be a big brother. Maybe your preschooler cried when you said you were going to Disneyland? And your daughter had a total meltdown when you threw her a surprise birthday party.

Resist the urge to admonish a child for their poor reaction. It can be difficult to contain our own disappointment when things do go as we planned! But your child doesn’t want to hear about how much your trip costs, how much work you put into the surprise, etc etc. They just need your reassurance.

A silent hug goes a long way towards comforting your child. Consider pulling them away to a quiet area where they can process and calm down. Later, you can discuss what happened and talk about why you wanted to surprise them.

Fun Ways to Surprise Your Kids

Little surprises are a wonderful way to show love and playfulness. These simple and sweet surprises will surely delight all children.

  • Host a board game night
  • Serve breakfast in bed
  • Put loose change inside the pocket of their jacket
  • Get out the art/craft supplies on a whim
  • Print out favorite photos of you and your kids and tape them onto their bedroom wall
  • Send them a letter in the mail
  • Cook their favorite dinner without telling them
  • Make a treat for after-dinner dessert

Pistachio pudding is a special surprise treat for my kiddo

  • Have a spontaneous dance party! Put on music and just start moving.
  • Serve their after school snack on a fancy plate
  • Take the kids to the park after school instead of heading straight home
  • Leave a note next to their plate
  • Build a fort in the living room to greet them when they wake up on a weekend
  • Create a treasure hunt at home for a small prize
  • Build a reading nook (a pile of pillows in a corner with a stack of books will suffice)
  • Rent a new movie to surprise them with on a Friday night

Is surprising your kids ever a good idea? These are the tips for how to plan a perfect surprise, what to do if a surprise goes wrong and 16 sweet surprises for kids! #Surprise #PositiveParenting #Family #Kids #Parenting #SpecialNeeds

 

“I’m Too Busy to Eat Healthy” and Other Excuses Moms Make

I’m a busy mom. But we’re all busy, right? So how is it that some moms seem to have more hours in the day to get things done than others? No extra hours are involved, these moms just have different ways of prioritizing. No matter how accomplished we are, all moms tend to bust out one of these excuses time to time. I’ve personally used *ahem* ALL of them! Overcoming these excuses is truly the little change that makes a big difference. So how can we kick those excuses aside and be a more improved version of ourselves?

This post is sponsored by DairyPure Mix-ins. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

"I'm too busy to eat healthy" is just one of the many excuses that moms make. What is YOUR go-to Mom excuse? #DairyPureMixIns #ad

“I Don’t Have Time for Exercise”

We all have the time to exercise. It just might require a little shuffling of priorities. Get up an hour early for a workout. Skip another episode on TV in favor of aerobics. Choose to take the entire family out for a walk on the weekends instead of to the movie theater.

For me, I tend to multitask when I’m exercising. I’ll take the baby for a long walk in her stroller. I might make a phone call on the walk while simultaneously exercising and getting my daughter to take a nap!

You can also squeeze in fitness here and there throughout the day if finding a larger chunk of time is a challenge. Elastic resistance bands are my favorite because they are lightweight and portable. I can take them in the car to do while waiting for my son to get out of school or in the kitchen while dinner’s in the oven. Sometimes this “I don’t have time” excuse is actually because I’m less than motivated to exercise. Getting someone to keep me accountable (a “Workout Buddy”) can really make the difference between exercise and sleeping in.

How do you stay motivated to workout when you just don't feel like exercising? I share 9 tips for staying on a routine when you feel lazy!

“I’m Running Late Again”

As a kid, I’d oversleep, struggle to wake up and dawdle over breakfast. Mornings were a big stressful mess. I’m very proud to say that now even with four kids, nobody has ever been late to school. That’s because we prep the night before, kids get enough rest and we wake up early. If I know I need to be somewhere, I work in plenty of extra time to allow. Sure, there are still exceptions, like freeway traffic. But that’s the exception and not the rule.

“I’ll Never Get Organized”

I’m a slob at heart. And I married an OCD neat-nik. Yep, it’s a daily struggle. But I’m going to tell you my number one secret for staying organized.

Deal with it immediately.

That means when the mail comes in, don’t toss it aside; while it’s in your hand, sort it and recycle out what you don’t need. Getting organized means tackling cluttered areas every single day. It might mean getting rid of a lot of things that are inhibiting you from staying organized. If I can get organized, you totally can.

“It’s Too Hard for Me To…”

You know what’s hard? Cancer. Losing a loved one. Having a sick child. You know what’s not hard. Losing weight. Dealing with bratty kids. Going to work. It’s all in perspective, planning and priorities. And I’m a proponent of research and learning as much as you can. If you want to lose weight, do your research on what might work best for your body type (for me it was eliminating certain carbs and sugar). If you’re struggling with your kids, talk to others, read books/articles and get deeply involved if you really want things to improve. It’s not too hard.

“I’m Too Busy to Eat Healthy”

So many times I’ve gotten busy during the day that I actually forget to eat. Then when the stomach grumbles finally get the best of me, I’m so ravenous that I just grab whatever’s in reach, whether it’s good for me or not. And of course it’s way too easy to drive through the fast food line when you’re hungry while running errands.

Having convenient ready-to-go foods is ideal to making healthy choices. It’s also important to plan my meals & snacks when I know I’m going to be out and about. I recently discovered new DairyPure Mix-ins. These individually packaged cottage cheese have delicious and fun mix-ins like fruit and nuts. I bought them all – Blueberry, Peaches & Pecans, Pineapple, Strawberries & Almonds in 5.3 oz. cups.

DairyPure Mix-ins are protein-packed (over 15 grams of protein) in a convenient on-the-go cup. Just like all of DairyPure’s premium products, Mix-ins have no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or growth hormones. So easy to pack in a chill bag with a spoon to eat while you’re running errands.

No excuses for not eating healthy when you have DairyPure Mix-ins in your fridge to grab when you need a snack. Plus, if you’re a mom you know there’s always going to be someone to share with (so pack two!)

In the San Diego area, I found these new DairyPure Mix-ins at Gelson’s Markets and Bristol Farms. Be sure to check the DairyPure website to see where these are available in your area!

DairyPure Mix-ins & Grocery Giveaway

The Motherhood would like you to try DairyPure Mix-ins for yourself and are sponsoring this awesome giveaway. One winner will receive a variety of DairyPure Mix-ins flavors plus a $50 gift card to Gelson’s Markets or Bristol Farms.

Giveaway is for U.S. residents only, ages 18 and up. Prize will be forwarded to the winner from The Motherhood.

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Laser Eye Surgery Checklist for Ideal LASIK Recovery

Four weeks ago I had my LASIK eye surgery. It was something I wanted to do for a very long time but had put off. I want to share all the details on what you need to know pre and post op about this eye corrective surgery for ideal LASIK recovery. I have included my own personal story experience so you’ll have an insider’s idea on what you might expect. Read the before and after checklist of LASIK tips that will help make your LASIK recovery smoother.

Read the first post in this series, Considering LASIK Eye Surgery? 6 Things You Need to Know.

I received a discounted rate from Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center in San Diego to facilitate this post series about laser eye surgery. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Medical procedures vary between patients so please seek a personal consultation with Clearview to see if you are a candidate for LASIK.

If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort

Last day with my glasses…so ready for LASIK!

Pre-Surgery Checklist for LASIK Vision Correction

In the days leading up to the surgery you’ll have several things you’ll need to arrange:

  • Scheduling Your Appointment – Take the latest appointment time at the end of the day. After the surgery you’ll go home, take your medication, maybe eat something and go straight to bed. Your eyes will heal best with long periods of keeping them closed. Plus you aren’t able to use your phone or watch TV anyway so sleep is the best thing for you!
  • Have a Driver – You must bring a driver with you as you’ll be unable to drive yourself home. You could have Uber or Lyft pick up but you’ll need to have someone else schedule the pick up because you won’t be able to see your phone! Your driver doesn’t have to wait with you the entire time. We live about 30 minutes from the Clearview office so my husband sat in the waiting room. When my surgery time was up, the staff brought him back to watch the procedure. There were other patients having the surgery whose rides didn’t come until after. The Clearview staff personally called the drivers to let them know the patient was ready for pick up.
  • Arrange Babysitting – The Clearview office is not a place for kids. Schedule a babysitter and do not bring the kids with you for the procedure. In fact, I recommend getting someone to watch the kids overnight (more on that later).
  • Pick Up Prescriptions & Medications – When you schedule your surgery, you’ll receive a list of post-surgery must-haves. This includes two eye drop medications (Prednisolone and Ciprofloxacin), preservative-free eye drops (I bought Stystane) and a bag of frozen peas to minimize swelling. Be sure to have them ready at home because you’ll need them first thing the following morning. Place your eye drops in the fridge; chilled drops feel good on dry eyes!
If you're considering ditching your glasses and/or contacts and thinking about LASIK eye surgery, read these 6 things to consider before planning surgery. #Lasik #Clearview AD

A list of post-surgery medications needs.

Every Surgery Is Different

Keep in mind that medical procedures and actual results vary between patients. This is my personal story about the LASIK surgery process and your actual experience will vary. I highly recommend talking to the doctors at Clearview Eye and Laser Center with any questions about the consultation and vetting process for prospective patients. 

If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort AD #ClearviewEyes #LASIK #vision #eyesurgery

It’s my surgery day at Clearview!

LASIK Surgery – My Personal Experience

I arrived for my appointment at 5 pm and was told the process would take at least 2 hours. There were quite a few people in queue so it actually took about 2 1/2 hours. After check-in, I was brought back and given one Xanax to start the relaxation process. About an hour before the surgery, the staff put my hair in a cap, put booties on my shoes and my eyes and surrounding skin were cleaned. They place the cotton pads over your ears to soak up any liquid from the drops the surgeon applies during surgery (the pads keep the fluid from running into your ears).

The waiting room and especially the surgical room are kept very cold. This is for the protection of the equipment. Dress in warm, comfortable layers as you’ll likely go straight home and flop into bed. Consider a shirt with a wide neckline that will be easy to remove without rubbing across your eyes. I wore leggings, a tee and a loose sweatshirt. I still needed a blanket over me during the actual surgery because I was shivering. Each patient was given a Clearview teddy bear to hug during the surgery.

If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort

Who care that you’re wearing this? Everyone has their glasses off and can’t see you anyway!

I had remained blissfully ignorant on the actual LASIK procedure. I’m sure if you REALLY want to know all the details of every step, you could find it online somewhere but the less I knew about the surgery, the better! I’ll give you the basics: The surgeon places a lid retractor on the eye to retract the lids and hold your eye still when the laser cuts the flap. After the cuts are made the surgeon tapes your eyelashes open and another laser reshapes. The corneal flap is replaced and that’s it, you’re done. The entire process takes most patients about 10-15 minutes.

Does LASIK eye surgery hurt? Not at all in my case. I was given eye numbing drops and could feel a bit of pressure, but that’s all. I have very small eyes and there was a bit of issue getting the lid retractor on my eye. That was the most uncomfortable part of the entire process and likely something that a majority of people would not have an issue with.

My Personal LASIK Surgery Post-Op Story

Immediately after the surgery I was led out to the sitting area where my husband was waiting. He’d watched the entire procedure on a live television screen. It showed him the magnified view that the surgeon Sandy T. Feldman had during the procedure. Can you see after LASIK surgery? My immediate vision was watery and cloudy. I still needed help getting around because vision was not yet clear.

We were given instructions for what to do that night and process for the following day. They placed a pair of plastic goggles on my face and over that, plastic blackout glasses (like the elderly wear after cataract surgery). This was funny to me, wearing sunglasses since it was now dark outside! Once we stepped into the night, I truly couldn’t see anything. Streetlights were dim but had enormous halos and everything else was black. My husband helped me into the car and I kept my eyes closed for the ride home. My eyes felt very tired and heavy, I could hardly open them even when I wanted to.

Once home, my husband helped me to bed and gave me the first dose of Halcion. This was a pain-relief medication given to me by the doctors at Clearview.  I was instructed to wear the plastic goggles every night for one week, to make sure that I didn’t rub or bump my eyes in my sleep.

I woke once in the night and my eyes seemed to be glued shut, they were so heavy. After opening them, a flood of tears poured down my face. My husband brought me the second Halcion and I went back to sleep.

I was very glad that I didn’t have to worry about my kids. We’d arranged for them to stay with Grandma overnight. I highly recommend having your kids taken care of elsewhere because the combination of sleep-inducing medication and the limited vision would have made it very hard for me to care for a child.

Following Day after My LASIK Vision Correction

I woke up the day after the surgery with my eyes sealed shut. Dried tears had glued my eye lashes together. I was carefully able to open them but the light made them very sensitive. I put on sunglasses and let my eyes slowly adjust. It felt best to just keep my eyes closed.

My vision on the first day was still very watery and cloudy. I had my first follow-up appointment scheduled and discussed this with the doctor after the exam. She explained that I had some fluid under the flap and that this would dissipate in time over the course of the next few days. Each day I would see more clearly.

If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort

LASIK Recovery Must-Know Tips

The first few weeks after the surgery you may want to use these tips for ultimate healing and comfort:

  • Hands-Off- The plastic goggles should be worn each night for the first week to prevent you from rubbing or bumping your eyes. During the day, there should be absolutely no eye rubbing. You’ll also be instructed not to wear eye make-up for the first week.
  • Get a Very Dark Pair of Sunglasses-Your eyes will be extremely sensitive to light. For the first week, I wore my sunglasses everywhere, even indoors because any light was too bright. Though I always wear sunglasses outdoors, even at four week post-op I still find that my eyes are watering when in bright sun.
  • Minimize Screen Time – You may find that watching television, being on a computer or looking at your phone screen may irritate your eyes. It’s recommended to limit screen usage and to remember to continue using eye drops at least four times a day.
  • Be Diligent About the Eye Drop Medications – You’ll be instructed to apply your medicated eye drops four times a day, at breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime. This does make it easier to remember to take them. The eye drop medications must be taken five minutes apart (or else you’ll rinse one medication out with the application of the other). To remember to take both, I would take the drops out of the fridge and apply one (doesn’t matter which one you put in first), then put it back in the fridge. I’d return five minutes later to apply the second medication and put it back into the fridge.
  • Avoid Dry Eye with Drops In-Between- In between the medications, you’ll need to apply preservative-free moisturizing eye drops. This will greatly minimize any irritation, as dry eye is a major complaint after LASIK. I would apply these drops twice in between the medicated drops, a total of six times a day. This means you’re putting in eye drops 14 times a day! However I never suffered any dry eye side effects so I recommend using the drops as much as possible.
  • Drink Up! – Have a bottle of water with you at all times. The drops will drain down the back of your throat, so having the water to drink frequently will keep the bitter taste at bay.
If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort

A bit of eye redness is normal and this will go away.

LASIK Recovery – Better Each Day!

As the doctor had mentioned at my one-day follow up, the fluid under the flap dissipated and the watery vision started to clear. In the first week I was still experiencing vision that would get sharp and then cloudy again. I was told this was completely normal and to be expected. I had some red spots on my eye that went completely away after about a week.

Each day I was able to see more clearly and sharply. It was a gradual process and something that everyone should understand about LASIK surgery. Not every person is going to heal at the same pace. Some may have very clear vision within a few days and for others it may be longer. Every patient is different and you can’t compare.

My Three-Week Post LASIK Recovery Follow-Up

At my three-week follow-up at Clearview, Dr. Sandy T. Feldman was delighted with my vision progress. She tested my eyes and said that healing was going wonderfully. She then showed me what my vision looked like before the surgery and I was blown away. I’m thrilled with my new vision, you can’t even believe it!

If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort

Every night when I go to bed I still have the strange feeling that I’m forgetting to do something. 30 years of washing contact lenses before bed has been ingrained into my routine; it’s so weird that I don’t have to do it anymore! I wake in the morning seeing the alarm clock clearly. I’m able to jump right out of bed and not stumble around, looking for my glasses. After a four hour drive to Pasadena for the Mom 2.0 Summit, I experienced no vision fatigue (like I always did in the past) while driving for an extended period.

This summer my family and I are planning a week long trip to Disney World. For the first time, I’ll be able to enjoy swimming and water parks without concern that I’ll lose a contact lens. I’ll be able to pack without lugging a giant bottle of solution! I can’t wait to tell you how wonderful a vacation will be without having to worry about glasses or contacts.

If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort

I loved going on a trip & not having to mess with glasses and contacts!

Checklist for LASIK Recovery

To follow this post series, read the first post, Considering LASIK Eye Surgery? 6 Things You Need to Know.

I highly recommend Clearview Eye and Laser Center, they’ve really exceeded my expectations. Don’t take my word for it, schedule your own complimentary consultation and see how LASIK vision correction will change your life.

If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort during LASIK recovery AD #ClearviewEyes #LASIK #vision #eyesurgery

Image Credit: Pixabay

 

 

 

6 Life-Lessons My Mom Taught Me the Hard Way

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I received compensation from Hefty® to create this post written by Julie Bigboy at Mom Rewritten. All experiences and opinions expressed in this post are my own and not those of Hefty®.

This Mother’s Day I’m reflecting on my mom and the life lessons she taught me that challenged me to stay strong. Whether it is creative ventures, trying something new or even doing housework together, moms everywhere are supporting their kids in whatever they do! Keep reading for the hard life-lessons my mom gave me that have shaped me into the strong mom I am for my kids.

1. Be Yourself

I was a creative child, constantly drawing, singing, and daydreaming. And the creativity simply oozed out into how I dressed and presented myself to the world. Even if that meant paisley pants and a plaid shirt (hey, it was the 70s!) Moms only rule? No mixing and matching of plaids, even if the colors were the same. Other than that, if it fit, it was fair game!

I can remember layering two skirts on top of each other, rocking three ponytails on my head and wearing a floor-grazing skirt that was made from an old quilt. I was sooo confident in my young self and I have Mom to thank for that!

It never crossed my mind that anyone would think I was strange or weird for dressing so interesting – Mom felt that it was important for me to have a strong self-esteem. She also knew I’d eventually figure it out myself that maybe I’d look better without peacock blue eye shadow from lid to eyebrow!

2. It’s an Adventure

I was just barely 14 and my brother only 12 when my mom allowed us to take the bus to the mall. It was our first time navigating public transportation and apparently we did a lousy job of it, because we didn’t get to the mall! As soon as we realized we were miles in the opposite direction, we hopped off and found a pay phone. We were in tears, scared and worried about being in the completely wrong place. My mom laughed and reassured us we’d be fine. She told us to get on the next bus back and said something I’d never forget, “As long as nobody gets hurt, it’s an adventure!”

Going on adventures to places I’ve never been is one of my favorite things as an adult and I’m so grateful Mom taught me that getting lost was part of the fun.

3. Try New Things (And Don’t Whine About It)

I was the worst picky eater as a kid. I would refuse foods and to make it worse, I’d whine about it when my mom would ask me to just TRY it. I actually told my kids this story the other day at the dinner table (pointedly towards my own picky eater!) and they thought it was hilarious. One morning when I was about 12 my mom had made me a protein breakfast shake with malted milk. Malted milk has never been palatable to me (even now) and I refused to even take a sip. Looking back, I know I was a complete brat and deserved what was coming to me, but wow was I mad. My mom, in a fit of frustration, told me, “Eat it or wear it” and dumped the shake on the top of my head!

Two things learned that day; 1. Moms do have a breaking point. 2. What would it kill me to take at least a little taste? I can proudly tell you now that my picky eating days are over and I eat so much more now (but malted milk still isn’t a favorite!) Thank goodness my kids are better eaters than I ever was!

4. Shifting Focus

As the busy mom of four, I often find myself saying and doing things that I regret. It’s a trait that many moms share, I know, internalizing more about the things that we’re doing wrong rather than all the things we do RIGHT! That’s something my mom has pushed me towards – a focus on my strengths instead of my weaknesses. It’s not about perfect, or even just being “good enough”. It’s being the best mom for my kids, being an advocate, a leader and a teacher. About being a good example through my words and actions. That means sometimes the dishes get done. And sometimes they don’t. But I try not to beat myself up about it either.

5. The Job’s a Game

Oh, how many weekends I spent cleaning my messy room! I’m an organized spirit at heart but sometimes my creative side gets the best of me and clutter ensues. Mom taught me to tidy up before I tackle a project and to put things away as I use them to minimize the mess. When we did family chores around the house, Mom always played loud Sousa marching music! This kept things lively and made me move and dance around the house. Even today, I play music as a motivator when housekeeping with my kids. My mom can’t even believe how tidy my house is now when she comes to visit.

This Mother’s Day, Hefty® is helping to celebrate strong moms by teaming up with John Cena and his mom Carol Cena.

Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags help me and other strong moms tackle messes on a daily basis. With kids from toddlers to teens, I know messes! And when I use Hefty®, I know the mess will stay where it belongs. Triple Action Technology resists tears, punctures and leaks and there’s a break resistant grip drawstring to prevent the bag from falling inside the can (I hate when that happens!) Plus, Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags offer that strength at a low price.

6. Share Your Stories

My mom’s childhood was a mix of hardship and joy. Music and singing got her through many of the difficult times. My mom is also an ultimate storyteller. I’m certain that a vivid imagination helped her stay strong when things were rough. The tales and life-lessons of her own childhood were my nightly bedtime stories. I’m blessed to have this library of memories brought to life in her re-telling. Mom had a way of taking something that was challenging for me at the time and telling a story about it that helped me to work it out. I’m sure that’s why I became a writer myself. Mom passed her love of stories to me and now I’m thankful to be able to share them with you.

This Mother’s Day, what stories do you have to share with your children? I urge you to tell your childhood stories with your kids and see what life-lessons you can teach them from what you’ve learned over the years.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hefty®.

Our moms are always teaching us things, whether we want to learn them or not! Hefty® Partner Here are some life lessons my mom taught me. #MothersDay #LifeLessons

Procrastination Is My Mountain

You have no idea how long this post has been sitting in my drafts, incomplete. I’ve come back to it many times, adding bits and pieces here and there but never quite finishing it. I don’t know if it’s a season I’m in right now, or maybe this is the “new normal” but I’m having a terrible time finishing my tasks. Call it mommy brain. Maybe it’s distraction. Perhaps I’m just lazy. Focus has been an issue (see my “Word of the Year“). In any case, my motivation is shot and I’m really stressed out about getting it back!

I’ve been in the kitchen about three times today and this is what I see. Dishes piled up on both sides. Stuff that wouldn’t fit in the dishwasher before it was started last night as well as breakfast dishes. My husband’s French press is there, filled up with grounds to be emptied and rinsed out. My older kids emptied the dishwasher this morning so it’s clear and ready for me to load. Loading the dishes and washing the pans will take me ten minutes, tops. I just can’t get motivated to do it. It will get done for sure. I’ll start on the dishes as soon as my husband calls to let me know he’s driving home from work. That’s my ultimate motivation: getting it done before anyone walks in the door and sees dishes that have been ignored for 10 hours.

Procrastination is my unmovable mountain. Here's how I'm working to overcome the issue that looms daily in front of me (but I can't muster the mojo to get done!)

I should be over there, cleaning up the dishes!

Procrastination Problems

I’m a big time procrastinator. But only when it comes to certain things, I’ve found.

As soon as I’m up in the morning, I wake up my kids and I return to my room. I wash my face and I make my bed. Every day, I make the bed. I never procrastinate on that task. The bed gets made no matter what. It’s not like I enjoy making the bed, it’s just a habit that I get it done before I leave the house.

So why do I procrastinate on some things and not on others?

I know that I have certain tasks to do on the regular. I keep to-do items on my calendar. And sometimes even though they are STARING me in the face and I KNOW I need to do them, I skip right over them.

Why do I prioritize some things and not others? What is deemed more important to finish? I’ve learned that for me, it’s when I might suffer a consequence that I’ll get the job done. If I have a project due, it will get done or I don’t get paid. If my kids don’t have any more socks in their drawer, I’ll be sure to wash the whites. If my husband would be upset to come home after a long day at work and see that I didn’t take ten minutes to wash dishes, I’m definitely going to make sure the kitchen is tidy before he walks in the door.

If there’s no consequence, then I most often don’t push myself. How can I get that internal push to make myself better…for me and not for anyone else or because there’s a consequence?

Procrastination is my unmovable mountain. Here's how I'm working to overcome the issue that looms daily in front of me (but I can't muster the mojo to get done!)

Move the Mountains

I’ve seen You move, You move the mountains. 

And I believe, I’ll see You do it again.

You made a way, where there was no way.

And I believe I’ll see You do it again

Do It Again – Elevation Worship

A few weeks ago in church, our worship leader talked a bit before this song began about the meaning in the lyrics. I’ve sung that song dozens of times and had never thought of it in the terms he brought up. He shared that there have been times when he’s prayed to God that the mountain in front of him be moved. Whatever the obstacle was, he just wanted it gone. However in some cases, instead of the mountain moving, he tackled the problem instead by climbing the mountain, therefore bringing him closer to God.

How Am I Waiting for the Mountain to Move?

I feel like I have sooo many things I want to do, “if only” that thing or this thing wasn’t getting in the way. If I could afford a gym membership, I’d work out more often. If my toddler was more independent, I could go back to work. If I had more time, I’d sew more/write more/spend more time with my kids.

However in so many ways, God has moved those mountains for me but I put up my own mountains back in their place. I lost my job several years ago, which provided me with a LOT more free time! Instead of taking advantage of the blessing of more time to accomplish the things I really wanted to, I filled up my time with extra helpings of sleeping in, social media and television binge-watching. I’m sure it’s not exactly what He had in mind for me when I wanted more time!

Procrastination Is My Mountain

Procrastination has always been my mountain.

I’ve been waiting for it to move and for me to get my “mojo” back. But that mountain isn’t going to move. It’s never going to move. I’m always going to have that mountain in front of me with endless things I have to do, want to do and need to do. My mind and my list are going to prioritize them in order. Some things will happen. Others won’t. But if I keep standing in front of that mountain, waiting for it to go away or move, nothing will get done at all. I’m going to have to climb.

Get Out of My Head

For me, the key to getting all the things done that I want to do in a day in a daily to-do list. There is a certain satisfaction with writing down tasks and visually being able to cross them out as I get them done. It’s been important to my well being to get all the tasks out of my head and jot them on paper instead. Even little things like, “Drop off package at post office” are on the list because nothing is too small of a task. And when it’s done – whoosh, I can gladly mark through it…DONE!

Procrastination is my unmovable mountain. Here's how I'm working to overcome the issue that looms daily in front of me (but I can't muster the mojo to get done!)

I also keep an entire folder of things to follow up on. When I return something in the mail or I’ve made a phone call about something pending or there’s just something I need to check back on at a later date, it goes in my “To Follow Up On” folder. Once a week I go through every single item in the folder to keep myself updated and not let anything slip thorough the cracks. That folder has saved my Swiss cheese brain many times over!

By breaking up my tasks into smaller bits, I’m able to tackle them more easily. Number one on the list was to get this post published. And if you’re reading this, it’s finally happened…yay, me!

Now, how will you climb mountains today?

Considering LASIK Eye Surgery? 6 Things You Need to Know

Tired of wearing glasses and contact lenses and considering LASIK eye surgery? Before you book your surgical appointment there are a few things you must know about refractive eye surgery, from a mom’s perspective. You have to find out if LASIK is the right procedure for you. This vetting process will include an evaluation to determine if you’re a candidate, easing the fears of undergoing eye surgery and of course, figuring out the total cost of the procedure. Keep reading for the top six things you need to know when considering LASIK eye surgery.

Considering LASIK Eye Surgery – My Story

I’ve wanted to get LASIK surgery for a very long time. But I had preconceived notions that prevented me from proceeding even as far as a consultation. I was off-put by what I thought might be an expensive and potentially dangerous procedure. I wanted to know more about the pre-tests, the actual surgical process, and of course the cost factors involved.

I’m a 44 year old work-at-home mom –  was it even “worth” me having the surgery? Wasn’t I doing just fine with my glasses? Isn’t wearing contact lenses good enough? Why was I considering LASIK in the first place? How much would laser eye surgery really change my life?

If you're considering ditching your glasses and/or contacts and thinking about LASIK eye surgery, read these 6 things to consider before planning surgery. #Lasik #Clearview AD

I had questions about LASIK and I wanted straightforward answers from someone I could trust. Now that I’ve gone through the vetting process for LASIK, I want to be the person for YOU! Here are the things you’ve been curious to know about having laser eye surgery.

I received a discounted rate from Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center in San Diego to facilitate this post series about laser eye surgery. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Medical procedures vary between patients so please seek a personal consultation with Clearview to see if you are a candidate for LASIK.

Are You Considering LASIK? – First, Find Your “Why”

Everyone has their own personal reasons for wanting laser eye surgery. Finding your own “why” is an important first step. For me, personally I’ve been wearing glasses since I was six and contact lenses since I was 12. Over the years I’ve grown increasingly tired of the constant care that glasses and lenses require. Getting my prescription “just right” has been a struggle with many wearisome visits to the optometrist. I’m over the cleaning of my contacts each night, the cloudy lenses, struggling to get the soft lenses in and out, and the big bottles of solution that I have to lug around when I travel. I’m sick of my glasses steaming up when I’m cooking, of them sliding off my face when I work out, the never-ending smears across the lenses and glasses getting knocked when I snuggle my kids. It’s been nearly 40 years of dealing with vision problems that I’m ready to ditch. What is your reasoning for considering LASIK eye surgery?

If you're considering ditching your glasses and/or contacts and thinking about LASIK eye surgery, read these 6 things to consider before planning surgery. #Lasik #Clearview AD

I can’t read anymore without removing my glasses & holding the page REALLY close to my face!

1. Do I Qualify As a Candidate for Laser Eye Surgery?

Once you’ve decided that you’d like to learn more about laser eye surgery, it’s very easy to find out if you’re a candidate for LASIK. I was able to call Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center in San Diego and schedule an appointment for the following week. Clearview offers complimentary evaluations that will determine what type of refractive eye surgery is best for each patient. I was instructed only to wear my glasses for three days prior to my appointment (not my contact lenses).

My evaluation included a extensive battery of simple eye tests. They use state-of-the-art technology to determine if LASIK is the right surgery for you. If you’ve ever been to the optometrist, many of the tests will be familiar. These evaluation techniques take 3-D images of the thickness and shape of your eye, map the curvature patterns of your eye, and take a microscopic exam of your eye (to check for health related issues).

If you're considering ditching your glasses and/or contacts and thinking about LASIK eye surgery, read these 6 things to consider before planning surgery. #Lasik #Clearview AD

Getting vetted at my extensive consultation at Clearview

The tests are easy and quick. However there are a lot of tests so plan on being there for about two hours. While it’s a good idea to bring a driver with you (since your eyes will be dilated), you should definitely get a babysitter for the kids. The exam areas are small and not a place for little ones.

2. Committing to LASIK Surgery

After the test portion, my counselor Richard asked big-picture questions about my personal vision needs, like what I do in my spare time and for work. He went over some of the surgery details and worked up a surgery proposal with cost breakdown. At check-in I’d received a folder with details on refractive surgical processes done at Clearview and information about medical director Sandy T. Feldman M.D., M.S. Since I still needed to discuss the process with my husband and look at my calendar, I wasn’t able to commit to a surgery date at that time. Which was totally fine – the evaluation is free and I left with all the information tucked in my folder. I liked having the information to take home where I could read it at my own pace.

Everyone I met at Clearview made me feel at ease during the entire consultation process at Clearview and I never felt pressured to commit to the surgery at any time. As someone who likes to take time and mull over a big decision, this was extremely important to me. If you’re a busy mom like me, you’ll probably need to make the arrangements for a good surgery date, along with child care and financial concerns (let alone talking to your husband about everything!) But there’s no need to rush – Your tests and cost proposal are good for 30 days so you have plenty of time to make plans and schedule a surgery date. However if you are absolutely ready to commit on the same day as your consult, you can do that too! They’ll have you scheduled for surgery within a few days.

3. Is LASIK Safe?

Hundreds of thousands of LASIK procedures are performed in the United States each year, making it one of the most common surgeries performed. Clearview uses a sophisticated iFS laser that is completely blade free. Dr. Feldman customizes the procedure individually for each patient, based on their eye evaluation tests. The precision technique takes less than ten seconds per eye. Clinical studies prove that patients have faster visual recovery and fewer dry eye symptoms after surgery with the iFS laser.

Seeing a qualified specialist is tops on my list for laser eye surgery safety. I specifically went to Clearview because of the reputation of medical director, Sandy T. Feldman. She has been performing refractive surgical procedures for over 21 years (over 20,000 procedures!) She’s been trusted by many athletes and even other doctors to perform their eye surgeries.

Refractive laser surgery is a medical procedure. There are no guarantees or promises when it comes to any medical procedure as everyone’s individual results may vary. If a surgical center guarantees “perfect” vision, be wary because that may not always be accurate. Everyone’s final results after surgery are going to be different.

Clearview recommends starting your process with an evaluation in their office and discussing the full details of surgery in person. The pre-surgical testing at Clearview is extensive. As noted earlier, it last around two hours and includes a wide range of vision tests to ensure that everything about the eye is recorded properly. Dr. Feldman personally reviews all records of the tests to personalize the surgery to each patient’s needs.

If you're considering ditching your glasses and/or contacts and thinking about LASIK eye surgery, read these 6 things to consider before planning surgery. #Lasik #Clearview AD

4. Overcoming Fears About Having Laser Eye Surgery

I have to confess that reading and hearing about the LASIK process sort-of gives me the heebie-jeebies! In all honesty, I didn’t want to hear about the actual surgery details at all. Just do the surgery and let me get rid of my glasses!

Naturally the fear of having surgery on your eyes is a major hurdle. You’ll want all the information on how safe the procedure is. You want to feel comfortable before/during/after the surgery. And of course you want to feel like you’re in capable hands. Fear of the actual eye surgery can be a major stumbling block and concerns about the end result often stop people from scheduling the surgery.

Choosing the right surgical center for your procedure goes a long way towards achieving that comfort level. At Clearview, the people you encounter in the office are the same people you’ll see in the surgery room. All of the refractive eye surgery equipment is owned and operated at the Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center so your consultation and surgery will take place in the same office. To put you more at ease, each patient meets with the surgeon before the big day. Having the chance to meet Dr. Feldman and ask your important questions helps with overcoming fear and feeling safe when facing surgery.

5. Best Questions To Ask in Your Consultation

A lot of questions will come up during your consultation. Here are a few talking points you might want to mention:

  • How long does it take to recover after the surgery?
  • What are the possible side-effects?
  • Will I experience pain post-surgery and how long will it last?
  • What kind of vision can I expect a few days/weeks/months after the surgery?
  • When can I go back to work/drive a car/exercise?
  • How in the heck do you keep your eye still during surgery when there’s a laser involved?!
  • How often should I return to the office for check-ups?
  • What happens if my vision gets worse?
If you're considering ditching your glasses and/or contacts and thinking about LASIK eye surgery, read these 6 things to consider before planning surgery. #Lasik #Clearview AD

A list of post-surgery medications and needs.

6. How Much Will Laser Eye Surgery Cost?

LASIK is considered elective surgery, which means most insurance companies won’t cover the cost. However I was actually surprised that the cost wasn’t as high as I’d expected. You can expect to pay about $2700+ per eye. Talk to your counselor about payment plans offered in-office. LASIK is also a great way to use your “flex plan”. There are also discounts available at Clearview for military and teachers, so ask about that during your consult.

At Clearview, any post-operative visits are covered in the initial cost for 12 months. This includes any possible “touch up” that might be required. It doesn’t happen that often but great to know it’s covered if you need it. After the 12 month period you can schedule additional check ups and surgical touch ups and the cost is only $750 per eye for these procedures.

My LASIK Eye Surgery Experience

I’ll be having my own LASIK eye surgery at the Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center in a few days and will share all the details with you in another blog post! Sign up for my email newsletter to be informed when my post-surgery update is listed.

If you're considering ditching your glasses and/or contacts and thinking about LASIK eye surgery, read these 6 things to consider before planning surgery. #Lasik #EyeSurgery #Vision #Clearview