Why It’s Never Too Early to Introduce STEM to Your Child

Why It’s Never Too Early to Introduce STEM to Your Child

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Why you should introduce your child to STEM and tips for doing so.

If you are a parent to a young child, it’s fun to imagine what career they’ll be undertaking in 20  years or so. It’s fun to get their opinion, too. What do they want to be? Astronaut? Pilot? Vet?

The truth, however, is that many of our kids will be starting their working life in a job we’re only just beginning to imagine. Some of today’s careers will vanish while some will remain (we’ll always need doctors, right?) but will evolve as technology develops further. Other brand new career options will appear, too.

Here’s what experts in STEM education in Dubai predict for the future.

A Future in STEM

The vast majority of new careers will be related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).  For today’s working generation, STEM has already opened up countless exciting career opportunities in these fields. AI and robotics, IT, aerospace, medicine, and climate science are just a few examples of areas where people are working right now in interesting, rewarding and well-paid jobs. And the list of STEM job titles will just keep getting longer.

STEM careers evolve rapidly thanks to investment, research and fast updating technology. For example, working in IT today can mean many more things than it did 30 years ago. Think about cybersecurity specialists, app developers, and web analysts — these are popular careers that didn’t exist at all back then. Even just five years ago, the picture looked quite different. For example, in medicine, new lines of diagnostics and treatment have led to a demand for new but highly trained staff in nuclear medicine and genetics.

The argument for encouraging your child to take an early interest in STEM subjects is strong when it comes to preparing them well for the future.

Why start early?

The study of STEM through school and into the college years will help prepare your child for a career in one of these areas. If your child is still a toddler or baby, that time is still a long way off. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to wait to get your child interested in the wonders of STEM. Cultivating this interest and curiosity early on is vital if you want to encourage your child to take the path towards a STEM career. And there are plenty of ways to do it.

Here are important reasons why encouraging a love of STEM from the earliest of ages will pay off:

1. Because young children are incredibly curious

Babies and toddlers are innately curious. If you watch them play with even the simplest toys, you can see that they are trying to make sense of their world. Give the youngest child wooden building blocks, for example, and they’ll experiment with bashing them together, observing the noise that they make. Toddlers may investigate how best to stack them to make the tallest tower.

These are young scientists, engineers and mathematicians at work, making observations, experimenting, testing ideas, and making sense of it all. The more we nurture these skills now, the more inclined our children will be to continue developing them.

2. Because “The loftier the building, the deeper must the foundation be laid”

This quote from German philosopher Thomas A. Kempis illustrates perfectly why children benefit so much from higher-quality early education. In fact, children who start formal school with a strong foundation in the STEM subjects, particularly math, tend to do better than their peers throughout their school careers.

One study by researchers from the University of Denver has even found that “early knowledge of math not only predicts later success in math, but also predicts later reading achievement even better than early reading skills.”

So, the more STEM knowledge and skills to be gained by preschoolers, the more they’ll benefit later in life.

3. Because you can help accelerate the development of soft skills

When your child experiments, plays with STEM-inspired toys, and takes part in STEM activities, then they are developing a whole range of skills that will benefit them in the future, no matter what career they go on to choose.

Confidence, problem-solving ability, and adaptability are all vital non-career specific skills that are brought on through STEM activities.

How do I inspire my young child and help them get a head start with STEM?

There are many ways you can help inspire your child to love STEM and start to build the foundations of STEM skills.

1. Use STEM language as often as possible

Getting accustomed to basic mathematical and scientific language is a vital early building block. Try to use these words as much as possible around your child and encourage them to use them, too.

For example, talk about toys and simple items around your home in terms of how many there are, how heavy/light they are, how they are shaped, and how they compare with others.

You could use language like, “Which is the heaviest block? How many blocks are in your tower? Which block is square and which is rectangular?”

2. Read STEM-based books

Look in your local bookstore or library and you are bound to find plenty of books that help children increase their STEM vocabulary or encourage an interest in STEM topics. Here are the kinds of books to look out for:

  • Books that involve numbers and counting
  • Books that teach shape names
  • Books about people who work in STEM (i.e., vets, doctors, astronauts, etc.)
  • Books about robots
  • Books about space
  • Both fiction and non-fiction that might inspire an interest in any kind of vehicle

For all these categories, there should be something age-appropriate for your child, even in baby board book form.

A great option for babies and toddlers are the Baby University book series. There are so many different books that explain complicated STEM topics in easy to understand ways for babies and toddlers. Parents may even brush up on their organic chemistry, rocket science and quantum physics.

3. Encourage your baby or toddler to investigate their world

Why It’s Never Too Early to Introduce STEM to Your Child

Here are some fun activities that will help develop your young child’s curious nature:

  • Water play. Investigate sinking and floating.
  • Color mixing. Play with paints and find out what happens when you mix colors.
  • Build bridges and ramps together to support toy vehicles.
  • Build with bricks. Lego is an amazing educational resource that your child can grow up with. It inspires STEM play, from engineering the simplest structures in toddlerhood through to robotics for older children.
  • Play with your shadows. Shadow puppets are amazing to behold.
  • Get out the bubbles for some cool chemistry fun.
  • For your child’s first piece of scientific equipment, give your child a magnifying glass and encourage them to investigate anything and everything.

As you can see from these activities, introducing the world of STEM to your baby or toddler is fun. It builds on their natural curiosities. It’s also hugely beneficial to their future progress in school. What’s more, it may well set them up for the most amazing career.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

How To Get Free Products for Sharing Your Honest Opinion

How To Get Free Products for Sharing Your Honest Opinion

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

So, I went on Amazon the other day looking for a new cell phone charger. I saw a 5 pack for about $11 that had a 4.3-star rating with 1,916 customer reviews. This seemed like a pretty good deal.  However, I do like to check reviews before purchasing, so I started sorting through them.  The first few reviews were standard about it the chargers working well and the benefits of it being a 5-pack. Because there were so many reviews, I looked at the key phrases I could search the reviews by.  One option was “Barbie Nutcracker”, and I was definitely curious about how a cell phone charger review would incorporate “Barbie Nutcracker” into it.  I selected that phrase and was presented with a collection of reviews for a movie.  I then did the same thing with the phrase “backup camera” and received a group of reviews for a backup camera.  The problem with this is that I was still supposedly looking at reviews for a package of cell phone chargers. I thought maybe this was a glitch with Amazon.  However, when I started looking into that possibility, I found that these mismatched reviews are really just a small part of a much bigger problem.

How To Get Free Products for Sharing Your Honest Opinion

The Chicken and the Egg Cycle

To understand the scope of this problem and why it’s so difficult to correct, we first have to understand what caused it.

When we purchase products online it’s difficult to gain all the information we need from a description and pictures from the seller. Therefore, we rely on reviews from others to make sure that the product will meet our needs and is good quality.  If we are short on time, we might even just glance at the star rating and make sure that it’s 4 or 5 stars.

However, when a product is first introduced to Amazon it won’t have any reviews.  Would you as a buyer decide to purchase a product that had no reviews?  Maybe if it was cheap, but probably not if you were looking for something higher end.  We all know too well that there are internet trolls out their trying to cheat us out of our money. 

Conversely, how many of us regularly go back on to Amazon and write reviews for everything we purchase? I know that I’m tempted to only go to the effort of writing a review if I love or hate a product.  If it is sufficiently average, then I don’t review it.  I’m guessing there are a lot of others out there in the same boat.  That leaves a product with reviews on the two extremes when a large number of people may believe it’s perfectly average.

The end result is a chicken and egg type of situation where a product needs reviews to sell, but it needs to sell a lot to get one review.  So, how can a company get a new product on Amazon to sell?  They hack the review system, and there are a variety of ways they do this.

  • Editing a current product that has a lot of reviews to a new image and description so reviews from the old product get tied to a new one.  This is what seems to have occurred with my cell phone charger situation.
  • Contracting with a company that sells fake reviews.  There are a variety of these out there (many have shut down, but the problem hasn’t gone away).  These charge a fee for a certain number of reviews and then they will leave that many fake 5-star reviews.
  • Reaching out to people and telling them they will cover the product cost and then pay you a small amount ($5 or $10) to give a 5-star rating and post a pre-written review they provide.

All of the above methods result in a large number of 5-star reviews that can boost the product to the top of the Amazon search results.  Then when we get online to make a purchase, the 5 stars pulls us towards purchasing a product that may not be 5-star worthy.

The Solution

Amazon is working to crack down on companies that are utilizing these fake review methods.  However, that isn’t solving the problem that is causing the fake reviews in the first place.  Therefore, we need an additional solution – something that will help companies get these first honest reviews without deceiving potential customers. 

That’s the goal of the Early Review Service (ERS) Team – to help companies get new products off the ground on Amazon by providing fair reviews while providing customers with accurate information about these new products.  This is all done in compliance with the Amazon Pro Reviewer Program.

The ERS Team is really a simple concept:

  1. A company purchases a review package from them consisting of 5, 10, 20 or 30 reviews.  By purchasing a package of reviews, they are being promised that many reviews over an extended period.  However, there is no guarantee of rating or content of those reviews.
  2. The products are posted in the ERS Team Facebook Group where members that are interested in the product can comment that they want to do a review.
  3. Those that will be reviewing the product are sent a Google spreadsheet showing when to order and when to review the product. 
  4. Reviewers order the product, try it out for a few days, then write a review.  After the review is written they are reimbursed for the actual cost of purchasing the product.

The end result is that companies get honest reviews from people really using the products.  Reviewers get to try out products such as kitchen utensils, privacy screens and skin care items that are new to the market and then keep them or gift them in exchange for telling others what they thought of the product.

Do you want to be a reviewer?  If you meet the following criteria, then it may be your lucky day.

  1. Residing in the US
  2. Have an active Facebook account because the group is run through Facebook
  3. Have access to an Amazon prime account
  4. Have a personal PayPal account (for reimbursement)
  5. Have an active Gmail address (to facilitate sharing of the Google doc)

If you are willing to become a member of the review group, request to join the ERS Team Facebook group, and answer the required questions.  When you answer the question about who referred you, use the code R8 which indicates that you came from a reputable source.

How To Get Free Products for Sharing Your Honest Opinion

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Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Tips for Taking Frame-Worthy Photos of Baby

Tips for Taking Frame-Worthy Photos of Baby
Tips for Taking Frame-Worthy Photos of Baby

Babies are so cute, you can’t help but take boatloads of pictures of them.  I absolutely love having amazing photos of Paxton, but I can’t afford to get professional photos done every season.  Therefore, my husband and I have drastically improved our photography game since Paxton was born.  Here are our top tips for taking photos of baby.

Warning: Once you learn these tips, you will take so many pictures you won’t know what to do with them all! Check out this post about why you should digitiz them.

Get At or Below Baby’s Level

If you are standing up and your subject is sitting down, you end up with a really unflattering angle.  Crouch down to the height of your subject to instantly improve the angle.  That said, you can still try different angles.  I find that directly above can work in some cases.  Here you can see you get a better view of my son in the image on the bottom where I was at his level versus the image on the top which I took standing up.

baby in pumpkin patch standing next to big pumpkin
Baby in pumpkin patch standing next to big pumpkin. pumpkin is orange and the rest of the photo is black and white.

Play Around With Angles to See What Works Best

Often you can get softer photos from a slight sideways angle compared to straight on.  You may also get better photos of tiny humans by being lower than their level and shooting up a little.  Play around with the angle at which you take the photo to find what works best for your baby and background.

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Have an Assistant

It’s really hard to jump around and clap and wave to get baby smiling and looking at the camera while trying to take the photo at the perfect time.  Having an assistant means they can jump around like crazy while you get the perfect shot.

Zoom In

If your subject fills the frame, the background automatically become more background and less of a focus. You can see in the pictures below, the zoomed in version gets the important part of the image front and center while hiding my cluttered house.

Zoomed out photo of a girl in workout cloths lifting baby to the side.
Zoomed in photo of a girl in workout cloths lifting baby to the side.

Make Your Subject Off-Center

If you want to get a particular part of the background in, off center your subject a bit.  This adds a slightly more ‘artsy’ feel to your photos.

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Design a Fun Background

Set up a background that matches the season.  We had great fun taking pictures with pumpkins for fall (check out this post for other fun fall ideas), and during the summer we took pictures by/in the pool.  However, landscaping can make a nice background as well.  The below images were taken with the same kid, same football, same pumpkin, same camera and only minutes apart.  Simply moving the setup to my landscaping instead of the front porch drastically changed the photo quality.

baby sitting in a pumpkin with a football next to it on a front porch
baby sitting in a pumpkin with a football next to it in the landscaping.

Enlist a Friend to Take Family Photos

If you just want photos of your babe with one parent, you can do without the friend.  However, if you are already doing a photo shoot, why not get some great family photos.  Have a friend come help you out, so you can all get in the photo.  You could even set up a fun photo shoot for both families and take turns taking the pictures. We had a friend take this photo which gave us much better quality and fun, spontaneous shots that we couldn’t achieve with a tripod and a timer

A mom and dad standing on a front porch while dad lifts a baby into the air.

Invest in a Good Camera

Cell phone cameras are getting pretty impressive, but there is still something to be said for using a digital camera. The cell phone works great in a pinch, but when doing a mini photoshoot, the quality of pictures from our lower end digital camera far exceed cell phone pictures. More info on basic camera equipment is available here and here.

Find a Good Photo Editor

You can find something pretty good for free.  For cell phone editing I really like this app.  For editing on my desktop, I love this app which has versions for Mac and Windows.  Whichever editing program you choose, practice using it to learn everything it can do.

Work a Toy (or Toy-Like Item) Into Your Shoot

Older babies get bored quickly and will decide they would rather play with the nice background or leave the scene all together.  Keep baby happy with something cute to play with.  For our fall photos, a tiny pumpkin that Paxton could hold worked great and made a cute addition to the photos.

A kid sitting on a front porch holding a small pumpkin with pumpkins behind him.

Look to Pinterest for Ideas

You can see what others have done for backgrounds and fun photos for different seasons or holidays.  We got the baby in a pumpkin idea from Pinterest.

Set Yourself Up For Success

Little ones have short attention spans and tolerance levels.  Plan to work quickly to get your shots.  This means setting up the background ahead of time and making sure you have all your props ready.  Also, start with a baby that is well rested and fed.  Taking photos at the time of day when baby is usually happiest helps too.  If that time of day is when it’s really sunny, then opt for putting your photoshoot in the shade or choose an overcast day.

Know Where the Sun Is

If you really want the perfect photo, take it during the morning or evening when the sun isn’t brightest.  If you take it midday try to do the photos in the shade or when it’s overcast.  If that’s not possible, position the sun to the side of your picture.  For indoor photos, you can never have too much light, but natural light is best if possible.

There you have my tips for taking great photos!  Remember to get out from behind the lens and into some of the photos with baby.  You may want the cute baby pictures, but someday that baby will be grown and will want the pictures with mom and dad in them too.

What are some tips you’ve discovered while taking pictures of baby?  Let me know in the comments.

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Tips for Taking Frame-Worthy Photos of Baby

How To Fit In a Workout As a New Mom

How To Fit In a Workout As a New Mom
How To Fit In a Workout As a New Mom

I see you, new mom that was cleared to workout weeks or months ago but hasn’t.  I see you, mom that can’t imagine cutting into the little sleep you get to fit a workout in.  I see you, mom that feels like all you do is take care of baby, pump, work, eat and sleep.  I see you, mom that is exhausted from working all day and then getting up with baby during the night.  I see you, mom that misses the strength and muscle she used to see in the mirror.  I see you because I was you.

Finding time and energy in the already crazy working mom life to do anything for yourself can be daunting.  However, a quick workout on a regular basis may help you feel a little more like your old self again.  That brings us back to the original problem of not having time. How do you fit in a workout as a new mom?  Here are my 5 tips on fitting in a little exercise.

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  1. Be realistic about what you can do. Maybe you spent hours running every week or at the gym pre-baby, but that may not be practical right now.  Keep in mind that anything is an improvement over nothing, and you can always add more.  The fastest way to get discouraged is by trying to do too much.  If baby isn’t sleeping well and you are working full time, it may not be the time to start working out – maybe wait until you get a bit more energy back.
  2. Start small and work up.  This follows with the first tip.  Don’t jump back into the workout routine you had before being a mom.  Start with something that you know is doable.  For example, I started by doing 10 push-ups, 20 sit-ups and a 30 second wall sit every night before bed.  It took less than 5 minutes but made my core muscles plenty sore.  After doing this for a few weeks I decided I could manage a 30-minute workout at home most evenings as soon as I put my son to bed.  I’m still trying to decide if a longer workout is doable, but for now the 30-minute ones are plenty tiring.
  3. Set a start date and stick to it.  When baby isn’t sleeping, and you are exhausted may not be the best time to start, but you could set a start date for when baby only gets up once during the night or sleeps all night.  This goes along with being realistic about what you can do.  However, once you set this date, stick with it.  You will never feel as well rested and ready to work out as you did pre-baby.  You will have to adjust to the new normal.
  4. Change your mindset.  I love the Henry Ford quote, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”  This is so true about exercising after you have a baby.  If you mentally think that you are able to get in a 30-minute workout, you can.  If you mentally think you are too tired, then you are.  I said I would start working out when Paxton slept through the night, but when he did, I was still tired, so I kept putting it off.  Eventually, I had a long mental talk with myself that he reliably falls asleep every night at 7pm, and my husband reliably cooks dinner based on my schedule.  Therefore, there is no reason why I can’t turn on a workout streaming video at home for a quick 30-minute workout before eating dinner.
  5. Get your family on board/incorporate baby. To fit my workout in, my husband cooks dinner (he was already doing this though), and we eat 30 minutes later than we were.  He doesn’t have to work out with me, but his buy in to accommodating my workout makes all the difference.  I’ve also done workouts while entertaining Paxton.  A 20-pound baby makes for a tough arm workout when you do baby lifting instead of weight lifting (see pictures).  Paxton also thinks it’s great entertainment to have mom on the floor doing push-ups and sit-ups next to him.  Working out with baby is a fun way to bond.
  6. Bonus Tip!  Choose workouts that are the most likely to get done.  For me I know that getting to the gym after a 10 hour workday is never going to happen.  However, working out at home is easy to do with baby or after bedtime.  I have this Beachbody online streaming service.  Running is also another great option.  All you need is a jogging stroller and baby can enjoy a nice view of the neighborhood while you get a workout in.
How To Fit In a Workout As a New Mom
Paxton is 20+ pounds.  I usually use 10 pound weights.  Therefore, lifting him instead of the weights was plenty of effort and he thought it was fun “playing” with mommy.
How To Fit In a Workout As a New Mom
Staring at this cute face makes holding a plank much more bearable.  This position also works for push-ups.  Each time you go down, you can kiss baby.
How To Fit In a Workout As a New Mom
Paxton liked having me laying on the floor next to him.  Watching me was his entertainment while I did some upper body and ab exercises.
How To Fit In a Workout As a New Mom
In this exercise, I was holding him next to my chest and then straightening my arms out while twisting to the side.  I would bring him back to my chest while straightening and then twist the other way.  I usually do this with a 5 pound weight in each hand, so Paxton made it a much more exhausting exercise.
How To Fit In a Workout As a New Mom
We start our Saturdays with a family run.

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Remember something is better than nothing but give yourself grace.  You will learn to fit fitness into your life just like you’ve learned to fit everything else in.

What are your hacks for fitting fitness into your daily routine?  Share what’s working in the comments.

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How To Fit In a Workout As a New Mom

Mom Organization Hacks

Mom Organization Hacks

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Mom Organization Hacks

Who knew that babies came with so much stuff?  Certainly not my husband and me. 

As you start collecting baby stuff, you will need to become a master at organization if you have any hope of maintaining some order in your house.  But as a new parent, mastering organization is likely falling pretty low on your list of priorities.  Therefore, I’m here to help. 

If your kids are a little older, still check out the tips in this post, but also grab these tips on teaching kids to declutter for themselves.

I’m not going to solve your organization issues by telling you to get rid of a lot of things.  However, there is no doubt that it’s easier to organize when you have less stuff.  If you want tips on decreasing your things, check out the Marie Kondo show on Netflix or grab her book here

In the meantime, keep reading for my tips and ideas on how to organize all of the baby items to minimize clutter.

If you want some personal motivation and small steps to get the clutter under control, join my free one-week organization challenge here.

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Organizing Hacks

Pack away things that are not appropriate for your baby right now. 

Most things that you have for baby are needed frequently, so you want ready access.  However, you likely have some clothes and toys that your baby has outgrown.  Pack these away.  On the flip side, you may also have clothes that are too big or toys that are too advanced for the current stage.  These can also be packed away.  I keep a small storage tote in the back of my son’s closet for clothes that are too big.  I then also keep a box for clothes that he’s outgrown.  Once the box fills up, I move the clothes to space-saver bags.

Baby clothes in storage bags then shown in space saver bags.
We took two large, overflowing storage totes and condensed them into 3 space saver bags which then shrunk down to be thin enough to fit two per storage tote with room left over.

Maximize your storage space. 

Identify where you might be able to store things that don’t need to be readily accessible, and then make the most of that space.  If you have a closet, find which size storage tote fits best and then get a bunch that are the same size.  By using a uniform storage tote size, you will have easier stacking and therefore, can fit more.  I also highly recommend these storage bags.  Use these for all of the soft items like clothing and bedding.  You can then put them into the storage totes if you desire.  If you have a garage to store items, consider shelving or even overhead shelves to maximize the space for totes and boxes.

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For large, odd-shaped items, save the boxes. 

Many baby items that are used short-term are had to fit into storage totes.  For these items, save the boxes.  Just breakdown the boxes and store them up against a wall behind a dresser or storage tote.  Then when you are ready to pack away the item you have a perfect size box for it.  We did this with the newborn swing and the jumperoo

Store accessible items off the floor when possible. 

A crib, rocking chair and dresser take up a lot of space in a small nursery.  Therefore, decrease the items needing floor space as much as possible.  For stuffed animals, grab an animal net like this oneThis keeps all the stuffed animals contained without taking up any valuable floor space.  For books, get a couple of floating shelves like this or this.  They give you great storage without taking up any floor space.  If you have a closet, you could hang a lot of your baby’s clothing to decrease the size of the dresser you need.  Regardless though, use your closet as a place to put plastic storage drawer sets to increase your storage.  You can likely fit one high underneath of hanging clothes, or you may be able to stack a couple if you aren’t hanging clothes.  These are helpful for storing various items like diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, etc.

Roll clothes. 

When storing clothes in a dresser, you want to fit as much as possible but still be able to readily find all the cute outfits.  I found that rolling each item maximized the amount I could fit in each drawer while still making it possible to see everything. 

Mom Organization Hacks
With the items rolled, I can quickly find whatever I’m looking for by being able to see all the shirts at a glance.

Skip the diaper changing caddy. 

Instead of having a designated cart for all your diaper changing essentials, dedicate a top drawer of the dresser to diaper changing items.  This means one less item taking up floor space.

Diapers and gloves in a drawer.
The drawer on the top right of the dresser keeps diapers organized and readily accessible.

Get multi-purpose furniture. 

In the past, once baby was ready for a toddler bed the crib got stored for the next baby or sold/donated.  However, that’s no longer necessary.  There are a variety of cribs that are well-made and convert into a toddler bed, then a full bed.  A crib plus two small conversion sets provides a bed until your baby is ready to move out.  This means there is much less to store compared to storing an entire crib after the first couple years.  It’s also more economical than buying a completely new bed every few years.  These conversion cribs also often have matching dressers that double as changing tables.  The dresser we got for my son has a changing table topper.  Another way to decrease the amount of floor space taken up.

Take advantage of cute storage boxes. 

There is a good chance you will want an end table next to the glider.  When you get one, grab one of these that has an open space to fit a storage box.  You get the table and you can pick out a cute box to match the nursery décor. The box then works as a place to store items in a readily accessible way.  If you like the look of these boxes, you could even do larger shelves with them (either floating or regular if you have the floor space.). You could even use this awesome hack and roll the clothes inside the cube boxes!

Mom Organization Hacks
These are some of my Target favorites.

Use multi-purpose toy storage. 

For keeping toys contained, grab an ottoman like this one.  It looks nice in your living room and doubles as extra seating. 

Store puzzles efficiently.

Those chunky baby puzzles are great learning toys, but finding a way to store them and not lose the pieces can be challenging. I use plastic legal-sized envelopes that are see through like these. They are great for the Melissa and Doug chunky puzzles. You can then fasten them closed and store in a decorative box.

Repurpose containers. 

Some food containers make great storage!  I repurpose the Costco animal cracker containers for toy storage simply by making a label to cover the current one.  I also use drink mix containers to store small toys or diaper bag snacks.  If you want a baby-proof container, Tide Pod plastic containers work well.

Mom Organization Hacks
After my little piggy finishes the giant container of animal crackers (with hubby’s help) I put it to use because it’s really a great container.

Use small storage trays to keep drawers organized. 

When storing small items in drawers, it’s really easy for them to become disorganized.  Grab some of these plastic trays to compartmentalize your drawers and keep small items organized.  I also love these storage containers for keeping small toys contained inside an ottoman.

Mom Organization Hacks
Black storage baskets look nice in a drawer and keep hats, shoes, baby leggings and socks organized. Pro tip: Zip Tie the baskets together in the middle to keep them from sliding apart if they don’t completely fill the drawer.

Try to limit baby items to what is actually necessary. 

For what I’ve learned about which baby items you actually need check out the articles here, here, here, and here.

Final Thoughts

There are my tops tips and organizing items.  One final thought, when designing a baby nursery keep it practical with regards to storage.  So many nursery designs emphasize the cute but aren’t practical for storing all the items you will accumulate.  When designing your nursery, try to incorporate bins/baskets, drawer space, floating shelves and storage under the crib.

What Next?

I know the concepts seem easy, but actually having the motivation to tackle organization can be challenging. I’ve got two motivation solutions for you to try!

Right Now

Head over the YouTube and find some cleaning/tidying channels to follow. I really like Anna O’leary’s channel because watching her videos actually makes me want to go organize.

Overwhelmed at the Thought of Starting?

Mom Organization Hacks

If you are reading this, I’m guessing you are a parent, and I’m guessing you are tired. The thought of trying to organize when everything has gotten so far out of hand can be overwhelming. I want to help you tackle everything in a week. Join my free organization challenge where I break everything down into small tasks spread out over the course of the week. You get emails with simple tasks you can work through to tackle just one group of items at a time. If you follow along, you will make huge progress by the end of the week. You can sign up below or read more about the challenge here.

Organization Email Challenge

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    Mom Organization Hacks

    Happy Organizing!

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    Mom Organization Hacks

    Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

    20 Mom Hacks That Are Pure Genius

    20 Mom Hacks That Are Pure Genius

    Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

    20 Mom Hacks That Are Pure Genius

    Being a mom is challenging, so as a survival instinct we find the easiest, most efficient way of doing things.  I want to save you the trouble of trial and error, so I’m going to share with you all the worthwhile hacks I’ve learned since becoming a mom.  Read on to learn how to hack mom life.

    The Top 20 Hacks

    1. Laundry Basket in the Tub

    Get a normal, rectangular laundry basket and drill about six small holes in the corners.  Place this laundry basket in your bathtub.  When you bathe your older baby/toddler, the laundry basket gives them support with slates they can grip.  It also keeps the toys contained so that they don’t keep floating out of reach.

    The holes drilled in the bottom helps facilitate the water draining out once the bath is over.

    2. Bib Storage

    Put a large command hook on the back of the high chair.  Use this hook to store bibs.  This frees up drawer storage space and makes sure that you always have a bib handy at meal time.

    Bibs attached to the back of a high chair with a command hook.

    3. Activity Board

    Babies love to play with household items that you may not like them playing with.  Examples include phones, doorstops, lights, and buttons.  One way to satisfy your baby’s curiosity in a parent-approved way is to create a board that incorporates these ‘forbidden’ items.  We created one with doorstops (that don’t have caps that come off), push lights, a big metal hook, a tape measure, and a door lock.  Other things we may add in the future include an old telephone or remote, a magnetic section with large magnets and a curved pipe that a ball can roll through. 

    4. The Perfect Storage Containers

    Those drink mix packets that you can get at any store, come in plastic containers that are perfect for storage.  These containers fit inside the bottle pockets in diaper bags and are the exact size to fit graham crackers.  You can also store other snacks in them.

    Graham crackers spilling out of a drink mix container.

    5. Size Up on Diapers at Night

    If your baby starts flooding diapers overnight, go up a size or two.  You can do this with normal diapers or use overnight diapers that are a size or two larger for extra leak protection for good sleepers.

    Size 5 daytime and size 6 nighttime Huggies diapers.

    6. Make Diaper Bag Stroller Straps that Actually Work

    Sometimes diaper bags will come with stroller straps, but these seem to always be too short. I bought a hook to hang my bag on but it kept swinging all over the place. The solution that finally worked was to use a thin chain and clip to make hooks for the diaper bag.  These work so much better than the ones that came with my diaper bag.

    Stroller handle with chain and clip attached.

    7. Use Gallon Ziploc Bags for Everything

    Gallon bags are amazing.  They are great to keep in your diaper bag for storing dirty diapers or dirty clothes.  You can also use them when packing.  We use gallon bags for each outfit complete with all accessories.

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    8. Clip a Toy to Your Diaper Bag

    Diaper bag space is at a premium, but it’s a good idea to always have a toy handy.  Get a toy with a clip or ring and hang it from the outside of your diaper bag. I like this one and this one. This way you always have one, but it doesn’t use up any precious space.

    9. Add a Clip to Your Diaper Bag

    As a mom you will learn to juggle a million things and keeping track of keys can be hard.  Put a carabinier clip on the outside of your diaper bag.  Then when you get out of the car, hook your key ring onto the clip.  That way your keys are readily accessible but secure. I use a clip with a locking mechanism so that my keys don’t accidentally fall off.

    10. Warm Bottles in a Coffee Mug

    When you are getting up in the middle of the night to feed the baby and need to warm up a bottle, you want it fast.  Keep a large coffee mug handy for this.  To warm a bottle just fill the mug 1/3 full of water, microwave for 30 seconds, and then place the bottle in the mug for a couple of minutes while you do a diaper change.  This will warm the milk without causing hot spots.

    20 Mom Hacks That Are Pure Genius

    11. Store Diaper Change Items in a Top Drawer

    Instead of taking up space with a diaper change caddy, use the top dresser drawer to store all the items you need for a diaper change.  Plastic storage baskets are perfect for keeping this drawer organized. This is also helpful when your baby gets a little older and wants to get into everything that is accessible. If the diaper change things are stored inside a closed drawer, the temptation to get into them is removed.

    Diaper changing items in baskets inside a drawer.

    12. Roll Baby Clothes

    Baby clothes are small, so you can fit a lot into a drawer.  However, when you start stacking them the ones on the top get worn and the bottom ones get outgrown without ever being worn.  By rolling clothes to store them, you can fill the drawer and still see everything that’s in there for ready access. Join my organization challenge where I explain exactly how I roll baby clothes to make sure I can see what’s on them.

    Rolled baby clothes in a drawer.

    13. Create a Dump Bucket

    Babies that are just learning to sit-up don’t need fancy toys.  They can be easily entertained with some spoons or fun fabric.  Get a dollar store plastic container and fill it with dollar store kitchen items and other household items that are baby safe.  Babies love to dump the items out and play with them.  Get all the details on how I made one here.

    Baby chewing on a plastic spoon surrounded by household items.

    14. Use an Ottoman for Toy Storage

    Ottomans are perfect for storing toys because they can also double as seating in your living room, look nice and still allow easy toy access.

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    15. Roll a Spare Outfit for Your Diaper Bag

    Use the rolling technique below to put together an entire spare outfit that only takes up a little space in the diaper bag. By rolling the entire outfit together, you have quick access to a full change of clothes in case of an accident while you are out.

    Step by step visual on how to roll a diaper bag outfit.

    16. Super Glue Bath Toys Before Use

    Those bath toys that have holes to squirt water may be fun, but the inside gets moldy after only a few uses.  To prevent this, put super glue over the hole prior to the first use.  Your baby can still have fun playing with them, and you don’t have to worry about the inside filling with mold.

    17. Remove a Couch Cushion to Help Baby Stand and Climb

    When babies are learning to pull up to stand, they need something low but sturdy.  The couch with cushions is usually too high, but if you remove a cushion, it’s much lower.  You can then put a favorite toy or snack on the couch and encourage baby to pull up and get it. This also works to teach baby to climb onto things.

    18. Decorate the Nursery with Stock Photos

    You want to put together a cute nursery for your baby, but after a couple of years they will want a new theme, and this cycle will continue.  Instead of spending a lot of money on prints or painting or using decals on the walls, purchase some simple frames and get prints of stock photos.  These photos tie together a nice nursery theme but are inexpensive.  When it’s time for a new theme, just replace the photos. You can grab great stock photos at Pixabay.

    Nursery with animal pictures in frames.

    19. Use Expandable Legal Folders to Store Puzzles

    Chunky board puzzles are great for babies and toddlers.  However, storing them can be hard.  They don’t have nice boxes like more advanced puzzles and the racks designed for storage take up prime floor space.  Instead of this, use expandable legal folders to store the puzzles.  They can then be placed upright in a decorative box.

    20. Use the Baby Story App for Milestones Instead of Stickers

    Everyone wants cute monthly pictures, but the stickers don’t stick well and after a couple of months, babies start pulling them off.  Instead of spending $12 on a pack of stickers, spend $6 to get full access to the Baby Story app.  You can use some of the features for free, but the full access gives you everything you could want.  This app provides a variety of monthly “sticker designs” as well as other fun designs and the ability to add text.  It’s really simple to use and lets you customize the color of everything.

    There are the top 20 mom hacks that are worth your time.  Did I forget anything?  Let me know in the comments.

    20 Mom Hacks That Are Pure Genius

    Disclosure: Some of the links abov are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

    Tips for Going Out with a Newborn

    Tips for Going Out with a Newborn

    Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

    Tips for Going Out with a Newborn

    Before becoming a mom, leaving the house to go to the store, or a restaurant or anywhere really was easy and took little thought or planning.  However, once you become a parent, leaving the house is a whole new level of difficulty. 

    When my son was a newborn, leaving the house looked something like this:

    1. Nurse the baby
    2. Change a diaper and make sure clothing for everyone was weather appropriate
    3. Make sure diaper bag is fully stocked (don’t forget to grab my diaper bag packing list)
    4. Eat a snack/meal
    5. Nurse baby again
    6. Change diaper again
    7. Finally leave the house (~3 hours later)

    Obviously, the amount of time it takes to prepare to leave the house can keep many new parents home bound.  However, getting out of the house as a new parent is essential for your sanity!

    Unless you or your newborn has health issues or the weather is absolutely awful, I suggest starting to make short outings the first weeks after you come home from the hospital.  Here are my answers to common questions and tips for different activities that are completely doable with a newborn.

    Where to Take a Newborn

    Newborns are surprisingly portable.  Until about 4 months, they are able to sleep anywhere, and you can transport them both in and out of the car with a car seat and stroller travel system.  You can take a newborn most places that you would go anyway. 

    It does take a little practice to juggle all the extra items you need to bring, and plan for feeding sessions. If you have family visiting, enlist help for your first few outings.  It’s great to have an extra set of hands and the person can spend time with you and the baby and no one is thinking about how messy the house is.

    During my son’s first 2 months, we went to the grocery store, target, various restaurants, the mall, church, and wine tasting.  Enjoy the portability of your baby now because once they get older they become less portable and require more planning. Follow the tips below, and you can take your newborn out as part of your normal activities.

    Taking a newborn out doesn't have too be extremely difficult.  You can do most activities with a newborn in tow.

    Taking a Newborn Out Before 6 Weeks

    Six weeks seems to be the magic number with babies, but things don’t really change that much at six weeks.  Your baby is still portable, and many children don’t get their first vaccinations until they are closer to 2 months.  The biggest thing that changed for us at six weeks was I went back to work (read more about that here and here).

    The biggest concern with taking a very young baby out is that they will catch a virus.  Viruses that are minor annoyances for adults can result in severe illness in babies.  However, a few precautions can greatly decrease the chance of your baby catching something.

    1. Don’t let others hold your baby

    If someone asks to hold your baby, you are allowed to say no.  Exercise this right!  The less people that hold your baby, the less likely baby will get sick.  This also applies to letting people rub his hair, kiss him or touch his skin.

    2. Utilize a car seat cover

    Many respiratory viruses are passed through coughing and sneezing.  If you use a stretch car seat cover like this one, you can block respiratory particles from infecting your baby.  It also helps keep people from touching your baby and provides a dark, quiet area for sleeping.

    3. Practice baby wearing

    If you aren’t planning to carry the car seat with you once you get where you are going, then your best defense is baby wearing.  This keeps baby snug against you and protected from respiratory particles.  It also helps deter people from touching or wanting to hold your baby.

    When can you take a newborn out for a walk?

    You can take a walk with your newborn as soon as the weather cooperates.  You want to do your walk at a time of day where it isn’t super hot or super cold.  Also make sure to provide adequate warmth and/or sun protection.  Newborns have very fragile skin, so err on the side of too much sun protection in the form of a stroller shade, car seat shade, and/or car seat cover.  If the weather is okay taking the baby for a walk can be great for both of you, and you usually won’t have to fend off too many people.

    The best time to take a newborn for a walk will vary by location.  You will want to decide based on the weather and what you feel like.  Chances are good your newborn will sleep for most of the walk anyway, so at this stage, you don’t need to worry about nap times.  Usually, earlier in the morning or early evening work well because the sun isn’t as bright as it is midday.  However, if the sun is out, you will still want to make sure baby is shaded.

    When can I take my newborn to a restaurant?

    You can take baby out to a restaurant as soon as you are ready to go out.  You will want to make sure your diaper bag is fully packed, so that you are prepared for any dirty diapers or feeding needs.  I found that taking the car seat into the restaurant is the best way to have a calm meal.  Infant car seats generally will fit into the booth and restaurants often have high chairs that when flipped over hold a car seat.

    When can I take my newborn to church?

    We took our son to church when he was 1 week old.  You will want to follow the tips above about keeping people away, so your baby doesn’t get sick, but otherwise, it’s pretty easy.  We took the car seat into the church and sat at the end of the pew so the car seat could be on the floor next to us.  This also allowed for a quick escape if necessary.  Just make sure you don’t pick a seat right next to a speaker. 

    Many churches have a room for nursing mothers.  Scout out the location of this room when you arrive, so you are prepared if necessary.  Churches also usually have child care that extends to infants.  However, I would recommend keeping your baby with you for the first couple of months – usually they will sleep anyway.

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    Can I take my newborn to a wedding or other family gathering?

    Major family events are often ones you don’t want to miss, but your family and friends likely didn’t plan their special day around the age of your baby.  Therefore, you may find yourself needing to choose between taking your newborn or staying home.  My best friend got married when my son was 4 months old, so off to a wedding (on the other side of the country) we went.  Many of the principles from above apply here.  However, if it’s something that is going to have a DJ or other loud music, make sure to grab a pair of these baby headphones.  Without them loud noises can quickly overwhelm a newborn.  However, with the earmuffs, a party with flashing lights and dancing can be great fun for a baby.  My son loved dancing and looking at the lights with his headphones on.

    Taking a newborn to a wedding with noise canceling baby headphones works well.
    Photo taken by Josh + Jeanette

    Final Thoughts on Leaving the House with a Newborn

    Getting out of the house is good for the whole family, so you shouldn’t be scared to leave the house with a newborn.  Just make sure to follow these tips and plan short outings initially.  Pretty soon you will gain confidence and running errands or going places with your newborn won’t be a big deal at all.

    Taking a baby out on an airplane doesn't have to be overwhelming.  This infant in a car seat looks very content in the window seat.

    If you start getting really brave, you could fly with a newborn.  If you decide to brave that (we did when our son was 4 months old), make sure to read these Tips for Flying with a Baby.

    Tips for Going Out with a Newborn

    Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.