Playing Together: The Importance of Sensory Play (Guest Post Featured on Rookie Parenting)

As a parent helping your child learn is one of the most important things to you, and sensory play is a fun and engaging way for your child to excel in many different areas. Sensory play encourages scientific processes because problems are solved using the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. By stimulating your child’s senses, you are helping them develop creatively, socially and emotionally, cognitively, linguistically and physically through simply playing with them.

You have probably seen your child play with the most inexpensive “toys” like a paper towel roll, a pot and a spoon, or straws. Your child is using anything and everything to explore the world around them and encouraging this behavior will benefit you and your child by letting your child explore and create and giving you the opportunity to discuss what is happening in any given project.

boy-958457_1280By stimulating your child’s senses you are helping their brain develop because when a sense is engaged neural pathways are being created to assist with further learning in later years.

Sensory play is not only important for babies and toddlers, who often have the time to play and explore at home, but also for preschoolers and elementary children. When your child is allowed to use multiple senses to accomplish a task, they will learn more from the experience and retain more information. This ideal does not change as you get older, even adults retain more information when multiple senses are engaged! Even you are creating new neural pathways in your brain when engaging in sensory play, which can help negate Alzheimer’s(1), assist in creative thinking, problem solving, and time needed to respond to a catastrophic situation (2). Creating time for your child, of any age, to engage in sensory play is imperative for their long-time learning and health.

Creating time for your child, of any age, to engage in sensory play is imperative for their long-time learning and health. Click To Tweet

IMG_20160826_064459

So how do you start integrating sensory play into your everyday life? The good news is it is simple! By taking objects that you already have in the house you can create many fun experiences for you and your child. For example, take a colander and spaghetti noodles (or pipe cleaner) and challenge your child to put the noodles in the holes. They will be drawn to this experience and will start to develop basic motor skills as well as problem solving skills when they break IMG_20160824_210528the spaghetti noodles.

 

For older children play-doh and fondant are great ways to teach sensory play, as well as skills that your child can

use in the future such as baking a cake. Fondant can be used to make beautiful designs, but it takes time and patience to get the results wanted, both are needed skills in everyday decision-making and life.

 

 

Don’t be afraid to try something new and make a mess! This is a great time to bond with your child and create fun memories that will last a lifetime!

For tips on handling the mess, more sensory ideas, and using American Sign Language with your child (also great for sensory play!) visit imaginationsigning.comis designReferences:

(1) How to Help the Ones We Love Symptoms and Strategies for:. (2016). Retrieved August 25,
2016, from http://www.alzheimershope.com/stop_delay.php

(2) Center for Brain Health. (2013, September 9). Retrieved August 25, 2016, from
http://www.brainhealth.utdallas.edu/blog_page/study-finds-brain-training-enhances-brain-health-of-adults-over-50

Other Resources:

Good Habits Make You Feel Like You’re Gonna Die. Published on May 31, 2012 by Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D. in Your Neurochemical Self

Getting Messy: Childs Play, the Mess It Creates, and How to Handle It

What is Sensory Play?

0-3 Months Sensory Play: Lighting

Babies are really fun to play with, if you know what to do. One of these technics is using different variations of lighting to let your baby explore visually the world around them. This will also help your child start to develop the idea of night and day based on the lighting in the room and outside.

This sensory play topic is very easy because you only need what is in your house already!

Day Time:
Place your baby in a safe place, like in a bouncer, and turn off all the lights. Open the curtains at different lengths and let your baby look at thelight on the wall. It is great to talk to your baby about the light as well explaining

whether it is dim or bright. They are getting to the point where they will start to coo and have “conversation” with you so have a camera ready because it gets pretty cute!

Night Time:
This one is really fun in our house. If you have a bathroom attached to your bedroom, turn on the light in the bathroom and the light off in the bedroom. This will create a different atmosphere for baby to explore with the room half dark. The light will be making shadows on the wall that you can talk about with your baby. If you do not have a bathroom attached you can always turn on a light of an adjacent room as well.

Teaching Your Baby to Sign


When you first had your little bundle of joy I’m sure you talked about what it would be like when they started playing, walking, and talking. You will see, even in these very early stages, the look of curiosity and learning as your little one see colors, textures, and items that they have never seen. I highly suggest heading over to the Sensory Play section and trying out some sensory play with your child at each stage of development. This will be a fun way for you to play together and bond, but will also show your child the world around them in fun and new ways.

Children are such sponges for everything around them, even language. It is so natural for the brain to acquire language that we do not think much of it, as long as we are talking to our     babies regularly.

But, what if you could start understanding your child before they could verbalize sounds to make words?

The answer is American Sign Language, which will benefit you and your child now through early communication and less frustration as well as later on with advanced vocabulary and communication skills. You can view all the benefits by age group here.

Now you are probably asking, “How do I get started? Won’t it be hard to teach myself and my child a new language?”

It is so easy to start to teach your little one basic signs starting as early as 3 months, however, don’t get discouraged if you do not see results right away. Just like it took time for you to learn how to ride a bike, swim, and cook your favorite dish, your child will need time to learn the signs you are presenting them as well. The more you practice together the faster you will see your little one start to manifest the signs you are using.

“The signs my baby is using are different in ways than the real sign! What should I do! Am I doing something wrong?!”

This is completely normal! I have parents concerned about this topic ALL THE TIME! Continue to encourage your child as they sign and keep showing them the correct sign. For example, let’s say you have been learning all of the animal signs and your child loves their teddy bear, but continues to sign bear like this:

IMG_20160420_201116IMG_20160420_201125

(The way your child does the sign)

IMG_20160420_201059IMG_20160420_201108

(The correct sign)

Acknowledge that they have signed Bear by saying something like, “Do you want your bear? (Correctly sign Bear) Good job telling me what you wanted! You love cuddling your Bear!” (Use correct sign again). Once you have done this multiple times with a sign your child will correct it all on their own.

Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day and you will not be fluent in a few months and you may still sign things differently than some people. But, perfect practice makes perfect, so keep showing the correct sign and encouraging them as they continue to learn and develop more fine motor skills.

Learning a new language together will be an adventure and some days it will be hard, but you have support! Please feel free to email kabrina@imaginationsigning.com or fill out the contact form with any and all questions, comments, and concerns you may have!

 

Seven Wonders of the Pregnancy World

 

*This post contains affiliate links that help me keep bringing you free content.
 

I have been sitting on this post for awhile because I am crazy busy being a Mommy to a very lively toddler (read about surviving pregnancy the second time here) and trying to run my business before I have to take a break when baby #2 comes along. But, I have been thinking about all the wonderful things pregnancy brings, as well as all the beautiful things people have created to make our lives easier. I compiled this list in no order, but I think you will agree that these seven things are pretty amazing.

 

1. Zofran

 

If you have been super nauseous during pregnancy, like me, you have probably been prescribed some form of Zofran. I love, what we call, the puky pill! It was a life saver with my daughter when I had to still get up and go to college and work like an adult and when I have to teach classes now. My Mother-in-Law always says she wishes they would have had a magic pill when she was pregnant. But, she did give really good advice on how to throw-up into your purse with discretion.

 

2. Tylenol

 

Back pain anyone? When my weight shifted in both pregnancies I was in a lot of pain the first few weeks and Tylenol was what saved me from laying in bed crying because I couldn’t pick up my screaming toddler.

 

3. Pregnancy Body Pillow

 

This is an AWESOME invention that makes sleeping possible! I was skeptical the first time around, but after I wore the pillow in, it was and is wonderful. I love that I can move it in a million different ways to ease pain and that I can lay in almost the same position on either side without flipping the pillow back and forth. This is super convenient for me because I get restless at night sometimes and like to be able to lay on whatever side I choose. Check out the pillow that I bought by clicking on the photo below.

 

 

4. Antacids

 

This pregnancy, I LOVE savory foods like tomatoes and pasta, but I could die from the heartburn that they make for. I live with Tums in my purse because I don’t want to be tasting what I ate for the next several hours and have a puky feeling from it. And if you don’t have heartburn while you are pregnant, count yourself blessed!

 

5. The Baby Kicking

 

Being pregnant is not my favorite past time, however, I love feeling the baby move around inside me. It is one of those weird things you have to experience to realize how wonderful and awesome it is. It is really cool when your husband and toddler can start feeling those little movements too. My husband said that is when it really became real that we were having a baby because he could experience it too.

 

pregnant-518793_1920

 

6. Prenatal Vitamins

 

I know that these don’t seem like a big deal and I will be the first to admit I forget to take them sometimes, but they can make you feel better. During those first few months of feeling sick, or your whole pregnancy, taking them at different times during the day can help ease the nausea. I liked taking mine at night because it made it easier to take them as well as made me feel better in the morning. Taking them in the morning was not an option because I had a version of pregnancy called all day sickness, whoever titled it morning sickness lied! Ask your doctor about good times to take your prenatal based on how you are feeling.

 

7. Holding your baby for the first time

 

I was so nervous when I got to see my daughter for the first time. It was like meeting a celebrity that you had talked about for months meeting and it was finally happening! My husband and I both had no idea what to say and kept repeating, “Hi baby! I love you! Hi!” like we were star struck teenagers. But when that little precious face looked up at me and smiled, I was in love forever. I wish I would have had someone taking pictures of that moment because I can remember it, but I would love to see it on my wall in a frame.

 

baby-22194_1920

 
 

What moments or life saving products would you put in your 7 Wonders of the Pregnancy World list? Let me know by commenting below or feel free to give me a shout!

happy mommying

 

 

 

3 Ways to Ease Constipation During Pregnancy

 

 

I don’t know about you, but for me, pregnancy equals constipation. Being able to poop like a normal person is such a wonderful thing that we (or maybe just I) took for granted before pregnancy. My first pregnancy, I had no idea that there was issues down there and didn’t feel comfortable talking about it to anyone to ask for help, so I suffered through it. I did find some ways to help get things moving down there that I hope will assist you in your journey to bathroom bliss. Note: If you are having these issues please try these suggestions, but PLEASE talk to your doctor about it as well. These are all opinions of my own and you try these at your own risk. You can read my whole discloser policy here.
water-bottle-962934_1280
1. Drink Lots of Water.
I know everyone is telling you this, but it is harder than it sounds. Drinking as much water as they want you to during pregnancy takes resolve. I always felt like all I did was have a water bottle strapped to my mouth and my doctor STILL told me I wasn’t drinking enough water, so make a plan. Ask your doctor how much water you should be drinking for your situation because it may be more than Google suggests.

2. Put Lemon in Your Water

Fruit is amazing at making things better in our bodies. Lemon in your water has many benefits, but helping ease your constipation is one of them. Try slicing a large lemon and placing it in a pitcher of water. Place another slice or two in a glass and sip on that all day since you have to drink as much water as a camel anyways.

milkshake-1021027_1280

3. Make Yourself a Smoothie

I love Jamba Juice, but going there everyday gets a little pricey, so I started making my own Strawberry Wild smoothie at home. There are some great recipes out there on Pinterest so find one that you like and make one everyday. I am partial to easy and fast so I chose a banana strawberry mix. (Click here to get the recipe)

Did any of these suggestions work for you? Have your tried something else that we should know about?

happy mommying

 

How to be Pregnant with a Toddler Under Two and Survive

 

 

Let’s start with the obvious, while you are throwing up and have a little person watching you gibbering things you don’t understand; pregnancy is A LOT harder the second time around.

With your first child, you read the cute advice people blogged about sleeping when you could, having an excuse to not do anything strenuous, and getting to eat whatever you want for two and blaming it on the adorable little human growing inside your belly.

Well, as I am sure you are finding out, sleeping is over rated (even though you could collapse with pregnancy and toddler exhaustion), having a toddler and picking them up or walking them up and down stairs IS strenuous, and whenever you have food in front of you most of it goes to the toddler who acts like you haven’t fed them in a week, even though they ate twenty minutes ago. Being a Mommy now seems more difficult than ever, so how can you survive it?

baby-1151348_1920

1. Put your toddler to bed early.

This may sound like obvious advice as well as difficult if your little one enjoys staying up late, but try it. Start by starting bedtime a half hour earlier every three nights until you get to the desired time. Before we were married, my husband and I were being mentored by a couple with three kids. When 7pm rolled around, all three were in bed and we were like, “Man, this is an early bedtime!” We found out though, that it can save your sanity, give you some much needed time alone to rest or go to the bathroom by yourself (THAT NEVER HAPPENS!), and help your marriage. And, guess what? Our little girl is in bed by 6:30pm every night!

2. When you have some alone time, don’t feel like you need to make the house look good.

If you are anything like me, you are reading this blog to find ways to be the most productive you can with the little energy and time you possess. However, you have to remember that you do have a lot less energy right now.

Give yourself a break!

I know there are dishes in the sink and the laundry looks like it may never end, but slow down! When that new bundle of preciousness pops out, you are going to get even less done so learn this lesson now, enjoy the moments with your toddler because the laundry and dishes will always be there.

Write yourself a list of things you want to accomplish, but don’t expect them to get done all in one day. Set a goal to get two reasonably sized tasks done during the day and if you get more done than two give yourself a pat on the back, but don’t stress over it.

Your husband and your toddler love you and, honestly, probably don’t mind the mess they are making anyways. (And if hubby does mind, hand him the list and he can check off a few for you. Give and take right?) TAKE A BREAK and do what helps you relax. You still are carrying another baby, even though you have more to do this time.

3. Give your husband chores.

My husband works A LOT, so when we got pregnant while nursing and on birth control, I didn’t want him to feel like coming home meant more work.

So I did EVERYTHING and if something went by the wayside, like spending enough time with my toddler, I felt like the worst person on the planet.

My house was clean, but my little girl went to bed without having the quality time she needed from Mommy and Daddy didn’t get home until after she was asleep. The honest truth is, you got into this together and you have to work together. That is marriage! Love each other, be there for each other, and help each other with what needs to get done because if you don’t someone is always going to either be bitter because they do everything or upset because the, visible never ending, mess of having a little kid is always there.

After a long conversation on what we both wanted to see or needed done, my husband and I agreed that I focus on dishes and laundry and he takes out the trash and cleans the bathroom while we share vacuuming duty. Let me tell you though, just because your jobs get done doesn’t mean the bathroom will get cleaned every week (or that it got clean once in four months) and you have to let it go and tell your husband when there are no bowls to wash one. ☺

woman-423608_19204. Whether you work or stay home, get out by yourself, even if only for a few minutes.

Being a mostly stay-at-home mom with a part-time (and a half) job, I am right in the middle of both worlds so I understand that there seems to be no time no matter which world you are in.

However, you need a moment where you don’t have to meet a deadline and you don’t have a toddler on your leg. Even if you don’t have a lot of money for pampering (we sure didn’t), treat yourself to coffee or a meal at a restaurant by yourself or with a close friend so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.

I have been really bad about this one, so I am preaching to the choir, but I love to go to Starbucks or the craft store and either get myself a coffee/tea or buy some fun craft I want to try during my “I put my baby to sleep early time” (or both).

Pampering yourself with little things doesn’t have to be pricey. Be wise about your budget, but put a little money aside for you and your husband for spending money each month (Read my post on how to have fun on a small budget here). Even if you only get $10 a piece, that is enough for coffee or a meal with a friend.

brushing-teeth-787630_1920

5. Start teaching your toddler small ways to help and take care of themselves.

I know that sweet toddler was JUST a baby and is still your baby, but this will serve you well now and when you are feeding your new baby ALL THE TIME. We started our daughter off watching Daniel Tiger, which is a blessing from heaven!

They have cute songs about being a big helper and what it is like having a new baby come into the family. (Seriously, watch this clip and buy the DVD about his baby coming here. You can thank me later.)

At first we sang the songs together and when my daughter did a task that we asked like placing a stuffed toy in her toy box or not shutting the door, we praised her. Soon we added in little plastic drawers so that she could learn that everything has a place, and then we showed her where those places were. This does not happen over night and will take months of patients, but when your toddler can put all her dolls in the doll drawer and can find the blocks she is in love with you will be grateful. (If you would like to see our set-up click here.)

If you have been a Mommy to a small toddler while pregnant or are in the swing of it what would you suggest? Did you try any of or all of the suggestions above? Did they work for you? I love hearing what worked and what didn’t and any other opinion or advice you have so always feel free to comment or contact me.

 

happy mommying

 

Having Fun on a Small Budget

 

Doing anything when you are married with little ones can be a challenge. Do we get a sitter? Do we take them with us? What can we even do?
 
Going out to eat or doing an activity like bowling can get expensive fast, especially when you have to pay someone to watch your little bundle of joy. My husband and I have seen some really dark days of no dates and screaming kids in restaurants when we tried.
 
We had NO budging room for a sitter and finding a reliable one was a whole other problem so we ended up bringing our toddler along with us and later a baby and a toddler. This made for some interesting no talking, feeding the kids, quick date nights that I felt more exhausted then relaxed from.
 
We soon learned that we had to start doing something different. Here are some of the things that we changed about dates that helped us have a moment or two to connect together.
 
autumn-22012_1920

1. If you can get your baby or toddler to nap at a certain time go on your date then! We figured this one out by accident when our daughter was a little over one. After no dates for months we finally decided to give it a try. We pulled into the restaurant parking lot and our baby was asleep! I was upset because I thought she would wake up and be grumpy from not getting enough sleep. But, my husband has the special touch, and managed to get her out of her car seat and into the stroller that we covered with a blanket (because people are nosy and they don’t care if they wake the baby). We walked in were seated, ate our whole meal with no peep from our little girl. I literally cried tears of joy because we finally had some time to talk and eat like we used to and we put her back in the car with her still asleep! I know this won’t happen every time, but if it works for you it is wonderful!

 
2. If you live close to relatives or friends, Let Them Babysit Having a family member watch your baby is great and free. If you don’t live close see if your other Mommy friends would be willing to baby swap. You take their baby for a few hours one day and they take your baby for a few hours another day. That way two Mommies and Daddies get a date night and your little one gets a play date.

dollar-941246_1920
 
3. Set aside a budget for eating out/dates This was super important for us because we had to use every dollar to its full potential. Every pay check I would pull $25 from our account and place it in an envelope. If we got pizza one night or if my husband had to have a frosty, it came out of that. It makes you very aware of how easy it is to bust through money going out when it’s in cash, but being young and poor we had to be careful not to use our grocery money to eat out someplace. This meant that many months we only had enough money for one date night, this is where you have to be creative.

 
4. Make a date night at home Ready to be creative? Try picking a theme, like Paris, and make food that you would not normally make for the theme. My husband loves to do this one because we can put the baby to bed have dinner and have some quite time alone. When we were first married, and really had no money, my husband found a twist on a chicken dinner and cooked it, making the plates all pretty like a restaurant would and we sat and had a really good meal together.

 
5. Save change and any tips in a piggy bank You know the old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind”, well the same is true for money. We have a piggy bank on a shelf in our room that I place any change I find around the car or in the laundry in. After a few months dump it out and see what you have. We had a time when I would place any money I had in there and one month we were in a pinch. I opened the jar and found a couple $20 bills and my husband and I were able to take care of our bills and still have a nice date together. So those pennies add up and go a long way!

 

What have you done to spend time with your spouse on a small budget? Did you find a fun way from the suggestions above? Let me know!

 

happy mommying

When Enough is Not Enough: Fighting to be Mommy

 

At the request of my mother-in-law my husband, daughter and I tagged along to a party with some of her lifelong friends. The promise of good food, no dishes, and leaving early for bedtime sounded like a great idea to an almost seven month pregnant Mama and an overworked Daddy.
 

My mother-in-law had asked me to make some decorated sugar cookies for the party like I had the year before and, since there was free food and $150 involved, I agreed. Everyone loved the cookies and was very excited about the cute bunnies, lambs, and chicks that decorated the silver tray.
 

However, a complement soon turned into a Mommy bash when the hostess said, “Kabrina, you have to go to pastry school! We all love your cookies and they are so cute! You can’t be a stay-at-home mom forever! It’s a waste of your talent!” I tried really hard to let it run off my back like the baby oil I put on my daughter at night, but it stuck…
 
for days…
 

it stuck.
 
Her words and my mother-in-law reminding her that I finished my degree through a pregnancy and a half kept replaying in my head because I knew, many people thought I was wasting my time on my children and my start-up business.

I knew, many people thought I was wasting my time on my children and my start-up business. Click To Tweet

This wasn’t the first time I had heard something similar, but in the heat of being pregnant and my husband bringing up that he had wanted to retort back later that evening made it sting just a little more. It was as if our family planning, for me to stay home and raise however many children we decided to have, was a mistake and we had missed a valuable piece of information along our research path.

 

It was as if our family planning was a mistake and we had missed a valuable piece of information along our research path. Click To Tweet

Now don’t get me wrong being a stay-at-home mommy is wonderful, but is DEFINETLY not all I do. If you have been following my blog for any amount of time you can see that I started my entrepreneur lifestyle with a camera in hopes of becoming a full-time photographer, and then moved on to a more viable start-up teaching American Sign Language classes along with writing this blog that supports sensory and ASL. So as you can see I don’t get to just play and clean my house all day, which is what everyone who is not a stay-at-home mom imagines us doing. And whether you blog, work part-time, or just stay at home it is still not butterflies and roses to be a Mommy.

 

Whether you blog, work part-time, or just stay at home it is still not butterflies and roses to be a Mommy. Click To Tweet

I want to encourage you though! You are a wonderful, needed, exceptional part of this world! You are a mom! You are strong! And what other people think right now in the poopy diapers, long nights, missed romances, throw-up, and exhaustion time of being a mom doesn’t matter.

 

What other people think right now in the poopy diapers, long nights, missed romances, throw-up, and exhaustion time of being a mom doesn’t matter. Click To Tweet

You are doing something that only you can do, raising YOUR children. Yes, it can be thankless work, but there will be moments like your little one being attached to you at the hip and laying their sweet little head on your shoulder every time you hold them, that you can never replace with job success or more money. It may take longer to buy a house or get into a place that is your dream home, but those sweet pleases and thank yous that you have been teaching and showing everyday will pay off.

 

I’m not saying you have to be a stay-at-home mom forever, but don’t miss the sweet moments that drip like honey from time with your kids. Not everyone has the opportunity to do what you do, and not everyone is built for it. But even if you are an OCD overachiever, in need of fulfilling work like me, take a step back and watch you baby sleep, go to the park, take it all in as they asked to be ticked one more time because these are precious moments that they will outgrow and you will miss.

 

But also dream big! You have lots of potential and being a mommy is adding to what you can do. Think about it, if you were not good at conflict resolution, with siblings, you are now! You may have had no idea about empathy before you had kids, but now you can understand where people are coming from, from a whole new light. It’s like Atticus Finch said in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” And don’t we do that everyday?

 

Finally, don’t compare yourself to other women; moms or not. When you look at someone’s life on social media or in a coffee shop conversation, you are getting the super, “How do I look to the world” edited version. You will never know how many nights she went to bed exhausted, only to get up an hour later for work or how her marriage is flimsy at best, although he brings home what they need and she sells her beautiful masterpieces on Etsy. Just like you may view your talents as something menial (Well I can do it so anybody can) they aren’t.
 
Think about it this way, there are more than one kind of company that sells smart phones. You may prefer Apple over Android, and others will prefer Android over Apple, but they make the same type of thing. Each business brings a certain value to their customer that only they can bring in their way. If you prefer one over the other you may disagree, but if another famous person would have only thought about all the rejection and hurtful things people said he would have never created the empire we know today as Disney.
 
Walt Disney was rejected for a business loan by 302 bankers before he finally got the money needed, and, when he was younger, was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor thought he lacked creativity.
 
In hindsight we all can see he knew what he was doing and followed his dreams, but he also made mistakes along the way.

Give yourself a break, you may be super mom, but you are still human.

Give yourself a break, you may be super mom, but you are still human. Click To Tweet

Enjoy everyday and comment with some of the comments you’ve heard and how you used them to drive you forward not drive you down.

 

 

happy mommying

Enjoy this blog? Share us with your friends!

Follow us on Facebook!
Follow us on Facebook!
Pinning Party!
Pinning Party!
Hit us up on Instagram!
RSS because missing something would mean an SOS!
Follow by Email