How to Take the Price and Tension Out of Traveling. A Guest Blog from DadSolo.

Daniel Sherwin is a single dad raising two children, a 9 y/o daughter and 6 y/o son.  He created DadSolo.com, aiming to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.

PHOTO BY RAWPIXEL.

Hey Parents, Here’s How to Take the Price and Tension Out of Traveling.

As a parent about to travel with kids, chances are you’re trying to figure out how to make it to the destination without experiencing the tantrum of the century that results in forking over money for an airport stuffed animal. It’s true, children add a unique challenge to the traveling experience, but seeing their smiling faces makes it all worth it! Here’s how parents can take the tension out of traveling and avoid unnecessary spending for a more seamless experience.

Don’t Stress Over Booking

Rather than have a gazillion Internet browser windows open trying to find the cheapest price on hotels, flights, and/or car rentals, use a travel site like Priceline. Combine that with cashback options and online promotions for Priceline, and you can increase your savings even further. It’s easy to book, easy to compare prices, and easy to save. Plus, you’ll find that travel sites are able to predict price changes so that you can book at just the right time.

Choose Kid-Friendly Accommodations

Not all accommodations are created equal on the kid front, and you shouldn’t have to pay extra for a kid-friendly experience. As far as airlines go, opt for those that offer pre-boarding for younger children, discounted child fares, stroller/car seat gate checks, WiFi, and special accommodations like changing tables and bassinets. When looking for kid-friendly hotels, pinpoint specific amenities such as large or connecting rooms for big families, family rates, pools, playgrounds, and easy food options via an attached restaurant or room service.

Pack Travel Food and Snacks

Children are snack experts, and it never fails that they want one at the most inopportune times, such as when the plane is taking off or your only option is an overpriced candy bar. Save money, prevent meltdowns, and stop hunger pangs by packing food and snacks not only while traveling but once you arrive at your destination as well. Use containers with labels to keep things organized, and only bring things you know your child enjoys. Once you get where you’re going, find the nearest grocery store so that you can save on lunch and perhaps prevent a meltdown when a restaurant has nothing your child likes. Stick to the staples such as fruits, veggies, bread, deli meat, and mess-free snacks.

Don’t Forget the Basics

Whether you’re traveling to a tourist destination or not, it’s likely you’ll have to pay higher prices for the basics, so bring them yourself. Create a comprehensive packing list that includes everything you and your kids might possibly need including medications, Band-Aids, earplugs, toiletries, and anything your child absolutely can’t function without, such as their favorite stuffed animal, pillow, sheets, tear-free shampoo, etc. Add to the savings by shopping at your favorite stores like Target, searching for coupons, and taking advantage of price-match guarantees. If you’re flying, take a look at the checked-bag policy for each airline to find one that offers the most bang for your buck. For example, your first two bags on Southwest are free, while most other airlines charge $30 to $40 for each checked bag.

Drop Your Expectations

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling with four kids, one toddler, or solo, having travel expectations is a sure-fire way to result in a letdown. Why? The unexpected happens, and if you have this magical idea in your head of what your trip will look like, then you’ve set the bar high. Let it be what it is. There will be mishaps, maybe even a few tears, but ultimately this trip will be something the entire family remembers.

Regardless of whether this is your first time traveling with children or you’re a seasoned pro, it can still be stressful. Plus, there’s that expectation that it has to be expensive. Hey parents, travel doesn’t have to make your hair fall out or break the bank! A little planning and zero expectations are all it takes for a trip the whole family can enjoy!

Earnest Mom Squad Feature: Peaceful Parenting of a Tween.

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A guest article from a member of The Earnest Mom Squad,  Kahentiiosta.

I have one girl amid the tween stage and two just beginning.  You would think that I would be a pro since I’ve had one girl as a tween for two and a half years now. Alas, I am still learning something new every day.  A Tween is no longer a little child, but not quite a teenager.  A tween is a child between the ages of  9 and 12. Their emotions and behaviors reflect this in between stage.  The term tween has become very popular in the last few years.

Even if you thought having an easy child, would make tweenhood easy as well.  You may come to realize it is very different.  There are new challenges with each stage of your child’s life.  Learning to deal with your newly independent tween can be frustrating, for both the parent and child.  There are so many new things to think about, discipline, school, homework, spending time with family and friends, and learning independence. 

Many parents react to the them by distancing themselves due to the tween’s moodiness, increasing independence, and maturing physical body.  This can cause some strife to the tween, as they begin to lose that connection with their parents.

One of the main ways to make it through this stage is continuing to build a firm foundation with your child and this will ease the transition to the teen years. 

Here are six tips to peacefully parent your child.

  1. Recognize and work with your tweens need for independence and reduce rebelliousness. As parents we often feel less powerful and become overprotective to compensate.  Instead of hovering over your child, learn to agree and enforce rules that are reasonable and meaningful. Example no phone until after dinner and homework, setting a curfew for the weeknights.
  2. Continue to stay connected.  Spending one on one time with your tween is crucial for this age.  Even if it is a quick check in with them each night, a dinner out together once a month, or taking a walk together. Allow your child to voice their concerns, inspirations, and goals for the future.
  3.  Learn to re-think your ideologies of discipline.  Learning to repair rather than punish, ask open ended questions instead of lecturing.  This will assist in your child learning how to have better judgement with new life challenges.  Learning to base the consequences on the actions, will only work for so long until your child begins to talk back.  Learning to reciprocate the love for one another, will lower the power struggle of one thinking they are always correct. 
  4. Preteens are actively shaping their identity.  It seems as if every week there is a new popular fad, you just caught up to one and another one your tween has jumped into.  Offer support to their experimenting and exploring.  It may be difficult but try not to comment on their fashions if their body coverage is appropriate and keep an open mind about their music. Be supportive of their deep passions and add guidance as needed.
  5. Don’t take it personally!  If they yell at you, don’t overreact.   They may hurt your feelings, and your first line of defense is to walk away, take a deep breath and stand your ground.  Responding with love and calmness will get a more respectful reaction.
  6. Teach your tween about healthy physical self-management.  Tweens need at least nine hours of sleep each night, regular meals with low glycemic snacks, and protein.  Along with regular exercise.  Find ways to maximize on learning mindfulness by encouraging them to listen to guided meditation.  This can assist with fueling creativity, concentration, and reducing moodiness.  Working together as a family can be beneficial, instead of centering your tween out.

It is natural for a parent to worry about their ever-growing child, but we must be mindful of our reactions to the ever-changing world, and culture around ourselves and tweens.  Enjoy this newfound freedom and learning together as a family as the new norm for a developing tween.

What are some of your advice for families with growing tweens?

Me & My Earnest Mouth

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I am a mom, I am a blogger, I am a sister and I am a friend; and in all of those roles, I am a sharer.

There is a huge trend today where us mamas feel judged, or overwhelmed by advice and tips in the mama world and to be honest – I get it. We are so quick to put up the “advice not welcome here sign” and stop lending an ear to generations of wisdom that maybe we miss the intent of the advisor. I am a sharer, big time. When I see a fellow mama in need of help, asking for help or simply seeking mutual supports in different aspects of motherhood I cannot help my earnest mouth and I excitedly share my experiences and what I have learned along the way.

When I was brand spanking new to the mama world, I was one of the first of my close friends and the very first on both sides of our immediate family to have a baby and to be honest, I was totally clueless. I did not know what to ask, where to look or what to do! I sought advice but was left short; I read books, I googled all the baby and new mom articles. I overwhelmed myself in written media and wished I had found a tangible example in my little village. Do not get me wrong, my mama and mother-in-love helped a lot – but no offense their children were grown and advice was slightly antiquated.

From that experience I made sure to add mamas more experienced than I to my village, plus pick their brains for tips and advice relevant to my life. I love when someone notices me and my children and have the thought to want to share their sage wisdom with me – do I take in all advice as absolutes, no. However I do sift through to find the gems that can work in my own life while raising my wild and amazing littles.

Sometimes, I feel maybe today we are too quick to stamp down or hush those around us who are only seeking to help – and while some of the advice may have been best left at the door, this verbal interaction is what makes the village of motherhood. Mind you I still hear the occasional rub rum on teething gums (I am sure as more of a joke than advice) but I glean so much from listening to other mama’s birth stories, sleep training tips and so on. What may work for one family may not for another but that is what makes us all unique and successful in our own paths.

I am very conscious when offering advice to fellow moms, I also work hard to read body language when I am chatting. However I always follow up with, this is just what worked for us and what works for one may not for another, but sharing is what I do! I share my experiences, tips and help I have found along the way in hopes another mama would not feel so underprepared and overwhelmed when needing to seek it all alone. Storytelling helps us all get through life and share ourselves with one another even if there are tips laced through the storyline.

Me and my earnest mouth come from a place of love, understanding, accepting and a true desire to help lift the mamas around me. I would only hope that articles, chats and interaction from me would only express the love and hopes to help that I have for others and never put down another mama. In this vast world of social media, perfect Pinterest examples, ideal Instagram images and fantasy Facebook posts – they are OVERWHELMING. We are the most connected we have ever been in history yet, it feels so lonely.

Mamas, let’s not be quick to push away or hurry through the conversations that we are having, lets get out there, find (or create) our villages and be encouraged to share your stories. Stories and experiences help us see likeness in others, visiting and listening help us connect. Let’s do more of that and less scrolling, trust me it will feel less lonely. Listen to the advice (and take only what you need), be willing to share yours – it may take a village to raise our children, but it also takes a village to support their mamas.

x. earnest mom.

Earnest Bedtimes + the 5 Stages of Grief.

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A slightly comical look at our bedtime routine, remember what may work for one family may not for another. Glean what you may and enjoy!

Typically these two things are not correlated, well not formally but I have come to discover that every single night my children (particularly my darling sweet middle child) experience ALL five stages of grief at bedtime. Here is a typical night at the earnest household, where both earnest dad and I are usually home as we try our best to have dinner as a family and visit together before bedtime.

Stage one: Denial.

Picture it: dinner is done, the kiddos are finishing homework, or chores; then we like to enjoy a show on Netflix before bedtime starts. So we are usually all snuggled up in the living room together and around 7:20 pm I announce “5 minutes and it is time to start potty and brushing teeth.” The reaction: my 9 year old instantly bolts from the couch in disbelief to check the clock in the kitchen; my 4 year old laments, “whaaaaat?! We have just had dinner, it is not time for bedtime yet.” And my 16 month old yells out “teeeeeeth” (he is just excited to brush his teeth). This first stage usually last about 2-3 minutes before the next stage hits.

Stage two: Anger.

Earnest dad or I typically reply to the confusion, “yes, we have about five minutes and then we need to start brushing teeth and going to bed.” My 9 year old, “ugh, why can’t I stay up????” And he may or may not be stomping or dropping to the floor. My 4 year old, “what?! Bedtime?! No!!!” Followed by her loud, tear-filled cry and hugs. My 16 month old, “teeeeth.” He is still excited to brush his teeth.

Stage three: Bargaining.

My 9 year old calms and slyly sits down next to me and asks the following in a hushed voice, “mom, can I stay up just a little bit later tonight? Please? Just a little.” My 4 year old, wiping tears and calming down, “wait” sniffle, sniffle, “can we watch just one more episode?” And my 16 month old, he has gotten up walked to the bathroom and is waiting for someone to open the door to hand him his toothbrush.

Stage four: Depression.

Here we get full on tears, and earnest dad and I stay firm. “Okay guys, time is up let’s go potty and get our teeth brushed.” All kids sadly get up, turn off the TV and head to the bathroom where the chaos of toothpaste, toothbrushes, potty time scheduling and a quick diaper change for the littlest happens. Then boom, we are all walking upstairs together and this is where the final stage sets in.

Stage five: Acceptance.

Kids are calm, I am usually with our 4 year old daughter and earnest dad takes the boys to their room. I tuck her in, we read a book, say prayers, give kisses and back scratches and, as I wind up her musical unicorn jewelry box she turns to me and says: “mama, what we doing tomorrow?” We review the plans for the next day and as I walk out of her room I get one final “night mama, I love you.” As I close her door I hear the same events taking place in the boys’ room. Their love tanks are full and, my earnest heart is overflowing.

By 8:00 pm all three are in bed, where they stay all night. And since realizing this routine they experience every night before bed, I am able to know just what to expect. There is so much joy in that, I find our bedtimes even in the 5 stages are smooth and fun. By the time we are heading upstairs the tears have turned to giggles, the cries have turned to ‘I love you’s’ and the one goal earnest dad and I try to meet every night in our marriage is being met with our children: never go to bed angry.

I know I am comparing parts of our night with the stages of grief, but when you are little and every day is the ‘best day ever,’ why would you want it to end? I am so blessed by this predictable, earnest little event we have every night; it is in this routine we all find the comfort we need to sleep peacefully in our earnest little home. Let me know what your bedtime routine looks like? What works for you, and do your children experience any of the 5 Stages of Grief before bed??

x. earnest mom.

Motherhood: A wild and incredibly blessed ride!

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Wild and blessed, two words that can describe exactly where I am right now.

I am always shocked when I hear the words: ” I do not know how you do it” or “how do you get anything done in a day?” Honestly, I never feel like I hit the mark, I rarely feel like I have gotten anything done in a day and sometimes the only gage I have that I’ve accomplished something is by my husband’s reaction when he come in the door.

Seriously, as a stay at home mom to an 8, 4 and 1 year old my time feels like it is spent assessing risk factors from wild toddler antics, throwing snacks out like candy at a parade and refereeing disputes over claims of “bad words being said, walking passed someone too fast or slow, and simply not agreeing on the next show to watch on Netflix.” And yes, my children watch Netflix, I mean yeah, I could totally parent without screen time – I could also churn my own butter but let’s not get too crazy now.

Friends have told me how I seem to have it all together and that my kids are so lucky. I am here to tell you, looks are deceiving. There are days when I get up before my children, make the coffee and have laundry and dishes running before 9:00 am. Those days are rare. To be honest that happened once last week. The rest of the week looked more like me walking out of the bathroom to my two oldest using a half a stick of butter in each hand from the fridge to butter their toast because there was not any softened butter available. No kidding, this was last Wednesday and I chose to look at the fact that not only did they make their own snack, but they did as a team! Yay, MOM WIN!!! Another day I turn around from loading the dishwasher to my one year old eating a burnt waffle he took from the garbage. Perfection?! NO WAY, but like I said I am wildly blessed by this.

In my days as a stay at home mom I have learned to let go and let live. My children are growing so fast, right before my eyes and if I do not stop all of my busyness I will miss on theirs. My house is not always tidy, some days my sink of full of dishes and there have even been times that we have run out of clean laundry; but my kids are loved, happy, fed and safe. Those four elements are a language of love for this mama’s heart, and perspective is everything. My home may be messy but we have a place to live, my sink may have dishes but we have food to eat and laundry may be dirty but we have clothes to wear. My kids may be loud but they have a voice, they may be busy but their have a love of life to live. Pretty soon, in a blink, my kids will be on their own; the house will be perfectly clean and too quiet, and I will miss these wild and blessed days.

I know that I am in no way a perfect mom, but I know I have been made perfectly by God to grow these tiny humans He has given me. I hope that when I fall short I can give them an opportunity to see humility and compassion; when I make mistakes I can help them learn to forgive; and when I hold them, they feel what true love is. I am mothering the best way I know how, I know that the best of me as imperfect as I am is exactly what they need. By this mere fact, I am able to forgive myself the moments when they eat from the trash or use way too much butter, and find joy no matter what. This is us, this is our little life and our little home is massive in love, for truly we are wildly blessed.

Mamas, no matter what season you are in, please know you are perfect just as you are. I love the saying “to the world you are just a mom, but to your children you are the world.” Our little ones have this amazing God-given power to love us mamas unconditionally, let us too start loving ourselves unconditionally too. Doing our best everyday is the best we can for them, and even when we totally fail, guess what?! They will be right there, still loving us.

You are seen, you are loved and you are everything to those little eyes that look to you every morning. You are just what your family needs. Be wild and blessed, the days are long but the years are short.

x. earnest mom.

Earnest Mom x Sage Spoonfuls

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Guys!! I am so excited about this, earnest mom is OFFICIALLY a Sage Spoonfuls Brand Ambassador.

Okay, so what does that mean?? It means over the next few months I will get the privilege to share with you some of their brand new products plus awesome discounts!! Woo hoo.

I began using Sage Spoonfuls back in 2015 when I starting making baby food for earnest babe. (Check out my article here, An Earnest Attempt At Homemade Baby Food.)

In our earnest home, we used Sage Spoonfuls’ Baby Food Making System for making baby food, but once we were passed the baby food stage this system has been helpful for much more. The immersion blender has been used for shakes, soups and applesauce. The mini food processor has made pesto, freezer jams, breadcrumbs, cookie crumbs and chopping veggies. The glass jars (freezer safe) have served as Oriole jelly feeders, storage for home-made jam, tartar sauce and applesauce; stashing snacks in the diaper bag and even reusable wipes. This whole system grows well beyond the infant feeding years, definitely an investment. (Want more ideas? Check out Sage Spoonfuls).

Now that earnest boy 2.0 is 5 months, I am getting ready to start making baby food all over again. Sage Spoonfuls has a wonderful cookbook that gives delicious, fresh and healthy (and safe) recipes tailored to each specific baby food age/stages. I am excited to do it all over again, and with my mom brain forgetting all I did 3 years ago – this cookbook helps a lot.

That is my story on why I love Sage Spoonfuls SO much; go ahead, get your own Sage Spoonfuls and start your love story!! Want a discount while you shop?! Use SAGE25REBECCA at www.sagespoonfuls.com for your 25% discount today.

x. earnest mom

PS: Stay tuned for some new products from Sage Spoonfuls!

From then to now…

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*Trigger warning, discusses threatened miscarriage, subchorionic hematoma and bicornuate uterus*


One year ago, we were sitting in a triage room at 3:30 am.  “Threatened miscarriage.”  That was all I heard before I felt cold, afraid and empty.  That feeling could not be shaken over the longest three days I have ever experienced.  We had to wait, the ENTIRE weekend to see if that baby’s heartbeat was increasing or decreasing.  I was made to stay in bed or on the couch, not get too stressed or excited, nor could I lift anything.  Prayer.  Prayer got me through those three days, helped me to smile with my children, helped me to breathe in moments when I thought my breath would be lost all together.  It helped me when the tears would flow without my knowledge until they were cold on my cheek.  Helped me find a way through it all.

We got to the doctor and after another round of blood work and sonograms, I was diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma (a bleed on the uterine wall) and  bicornuate uterus (a birth defect that I have had all along).  Due to the size and location of the bleed, I was placed on restricted activity and every trip to the bathroom from there on out was stressful.  Would I lose the baby or would we be okay?  I was so worried, until I was educated more on my uterus shape.

As it turns out, a bicornuate uterus (which means my uterus is heart-shaped, or has two horns/cavities) is associated with increased adverse reproductive outcomes, such as recurrent pregnancy loss and pre-term deliveries.  I have had this condition from birth and never knew until my third pregnancy.  I never knew because, with a condition that should have proved pregnancy a difficult task or even a risky one; it had never caused a problem.  Once I realized that, I knew that this current pregnancy was not in my control.  It was in God’s hands, just like my previous two and as He tells us we should, I casted my cares (well worries) upon Him.  Comfort, safety and hope; those were what I found after that first week passed and I gave it all up to Him.

Here we are, a year later with a BEAUTIFUL baby boy.  Born full term, we went into labor naturally, delivered him naturally (unplanned as my epidural was turned off when my blood pressure dropped dangerously low), he is happy, healthy and thriving.  Our earnest boy 2.0 has filled our hearts, we are now a party of five and wholly complete.  For that fact, the tears of joy flow and I know they are there, my breath is full of humbling relief and my smiles are not struggling to be there.  I am in awe.

x.  em.

Postpartum Prep. Padsicles. 

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I have been trying to get more prepared with baby number three, so far I have 8 freezer meals done, my hospital bag and baby’s bag packed, nursing pillow at the door with bags and breast pump all cleaned up. Now I am making myself some postpartum care essentials to keep on hand.

For recovery I have created a nursing basket packed full of breast pads, Silverette nursing cups, protein bars, nipple butter, chapstick and boxed waters. I have also created a postpartum basket stocked with the Fridababy Fridet mom washer, stool softeners, Earth Mama soothing bottom spray and bottom balm, organic overnight pads, Tucks pads and Dermaplast spray.  Definitely not my first time at the postpartum recovery rodeo and with two children already in tow – I am trying to be sure this mama has everything on hand for those first few, fuzzy days home with our newest addition.

The next thing I have done which is a first for me, is making some homemade padsicles. I remember the cooling, soothing relief I had with the ones I was given in the hospital after labor  with both previous pregnancies, and I missed them once I was home. This time around I have them stocked!!  Here is what I used:

  • Witch Hazel
  • Lavender Essential Oil
  • Aloe Vera Gel
  • Organic Cotton Pads
  • Spray Bottle

I filled the spray bottle with Witch Hazel, 4-6 drops of the Lavender EO and shook well.



I then, opened the pads but kept the sticky liners on, applied a generous amount of Aloe Vera then followed with 6-8 sprays of the Witch Hazel/Lavender blend.


I then folded the pads back together, placed back in their packages and then into a gallon sized ziplock bag. That’s it – repeat until then whole package is done, seal the bag and place in your freezer. It took me about 20 minutes total and it will be completely worth it!!  Trust me, your perineum will thank you ;).

Good luck mamas and hope my prep work will help you get prepared to recover after welcoming your darling littles into this world. Take care of yourself and then you can take care of others!

x. em.

Baby is Expected in a Month?!

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I remember being in my last month of pregnancy with my first two children, and it felt like eons had passed with many more to go!  This time around, I am all of a sudden into my 36th week of pregnancy and feel like I have NOTHING accomplished.  #momlife right?!

My current goal is baby bag, mommy bag and daddy bag for the hospital, and the birth plan (see my post last year about birth plans and how they changed my life here: Birth Plan).   I have been BLESSED this pregnancy to have a crazy supportive and helpful Doula who tasked me yesterday with resting and relaxing.  A much-needed task after surviving the weekend with my post-op hubby laid up in bed and two busy children running about the house!

Our third, and final pregnancy has been quite the whirlwind of emotions and life; I was diagnosed early on (after going to emergency with what I thought was a miscarriage) with a Subchorionic Hematoma, which has dissolved thank God, but had me on restricted activity for the first trimester and a half.  Then, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes which so far is 100% diet controlled and looking great (again, thank God)!  Needless to say, on top of pregnancy conditions and all other stresses life sends our way, the time has just flown by.

As I think about this being my last pregnancy, I am savoring every jab and kick – even though I am convinced he is trying to push his way out any way he can!  I am cherishing the hiccups, the late night rolling with in me and all the movement that I feel with this little miracle growing inside me.  I feel so blessed that I am able to carry my third and will forever treasure all three of my pregnancies!

I will be posting my postpartum kit and the baby’s hospital bag as I build them this week!  Giving myself some accountability – of course unless this little man plans an early arrival ;).

Hope you have a great day and keep in your prayers all of those affected by hurricanes and earthquakes in the past few weeks!!

x.

em.

Earnest Mom Squad Feature: Making Time for YOU

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Here is a feature from our Earnest Mom Squad member, Kate.  This one is all about you, yes, you mama – we see you, tired, working hard, hustling everyday.  This feature contains some great tips on how to make time for you, which will help you have a better time with your family.  x. em.

When you have kids, making time for yourself is hard…how do you think of yourself when you’re kids need you 24/7? I always remind myself that in order for my kids to have me 100% I need me.  Even if that time is only 10 minutes of showering ALONE, or a bubble bath while my husband takes our son.  Sometimes I put our little man to bed, and as exhausted as I am wanting to sleep, I light some candles and draw a nice warm bath with my favorite country music.  Of course right next to the tub I have the video monitor, because lets face it as much as we say we want to unwind and step away we think about them constantly, what are they doing, are they sleeping, are they hungry, are they crying for me.

Then there are the nights that ME time is holding my son while I put him to sleep and instead of putting him in his crib right away I hold on tight for as long as I can. These cuddles to bed won’t last long so I will enjoy them as long as I can as much as I can.  My heart melts when my son knows it’s bedtime and he rests his head on my chest on his own and puts his arms around me, he doesn’t know but those are the moments I live for. In those moments, I flash back to every second with him, from his first cry, to the first time he rolled to when he learned to talk and say “momma” and “dadda.”  A lot of the time, my ‘me time’ is mostly with my son.  I am the person I am for my son it only makes sense for me to make my me time us time for as long as I can until the day he thinks spending time with his mommy isn’t cool anymore.