Category: Parenting

Pro-Development Play That Every Child Should Experience

While play for play’s sake is undoubtedly important, we also want to make sure that our children are getting the kind of development that helps foster them and makes them more likely to grow up happy, competent, and successful. As such, you might be wondering which toys are most likely to help them as they grow up. The answer isn’t as simple as picking out one single best toy, however. Here, we’re going to look at a range of options, each of which might be able to help your child develop in the direction that you’re aiming.

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Teething and grasping toys

If your child is teething, then offering them some ways to help them soothe their pain is going to offer both you and them a little respite. However, rather than simply getting a teether alone, or something solely for teething like a pacifier, you can get something that engages their teeth and their hands at the same time. Teething and grasping toys have been becoming a lot more popular over the past few years. So long as they’re lightweight enough, they’re highly versatile and can help children develop some fine motor skills. Many of them are also multicolored, meaning that they can also help with colour recognition. That way, you can offer your baby some peace for their sore mouth while also getting their brain working.

Books that sing or speak to them

While reading to your own child and singing to them is vitally important when they’re young infants, you should also consider giving them toys that make noises and speak to them. Things like interactive books with nursery rhymes or recordings of lullabies can help get them used to communication at a very young age. The more you engage a child’s social side at their youngest, the better they will be able to grow their communication skills over time, as well. Interactive story and singing books combine this need by giving them things to reach for and touch, which helps develop motor skills such as their spatial awareness.

Play water mats

Water is a very entertaining plaything for young children, indeed. For one, sensory play is greatly important to their development, as we’re going to take a closer look at later. However, for young children, one of the big benefits of an age-appropriate water mat is that it encourages the extremely important activity of tummy time. Tummy time helps physically develop your child so that they can start to sit up, walk, and crawl. Furthermore, tummy time improves their ability to move around using their own arms, motor development skills that will continue to be more crucial as they get older. A good water mat combines tummy time with sensory play while offering your child a safe environment to play with water.

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Kinetic sand

One of the most important parts of development at an early age is getting a good idea of your own senses. The better we develop these senses as youngsters, the more benefits it can have for us in later life. How we interact with different materials and objects with different properties as children helps us get a better idea of how different forces work on those objects. For instance, playing with kinetic sand can help us build nerve connections in the brain when we are younger and can encourage scientific thinking and problem-solving. One of the best ways to understand how the world works is to get hands-on with it, after all.

Board games

While it’s important to choose the age-appropriate examples for your children, and some children might not be old enough to have the attention span to sit down for them, board games are generally great for childhood development. They are one of the kids toys that helps teach them about structure and rules in the greatest depth. This can be something as simple as snakes and ladders for children who are just getting into school, or chess as they’re getting into their adolescent years. More complicated board games then go on to help teach them about problem-solving and creative thinking, which can help them excel in the school and beyond. They’re also a great way to teach healthy competition in a stress-free environment so that they’re better able to deal with it elsewhere.

Creative play

Whether it’s things like markers, crayons, non-toxic paints or otherwise, let’s not underestimate just how important it is that you encourage your child to be creative. From as young as one year old, they are going to love getting hands-on and seeing all the things they can draw, paint, and even build. Creative play has a range of both intellectual and physical benefits. Learning to draw, for instance, helps to develop mathematic abilities in children at a very young age by helping them see, learn, and create shapes, as well as seeing how sizes and sorting works. The motor skills that get built up through drawing can be incredibly important for their ongoing physical development, as well. Creating with a range of materials is best.

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Playing pretend

It might seem like playing pretend is nothing more than just a fun pastime, but the truth is that it has a great impact on a child’s ability to use their imagination to come up with creative ideas. Furthermore, playing with dolls and teddies also helps them develop their social skills. By interacting in different scenarios and relationships, it gets them thinking about how people act with one another, allowing them to better intuit social situations as time goes on. This can then help them better co-operate and compromise with their friends as they get into school. They will better understand social cues, different tones, and even improve their language development by talking to their own toys.

Building blocks

From toddlers to teenagers, there are different kinds of building blocks that incentivize learning more effectively than the vast majority of toys out there. Early age building blocks improve motor skills such as hand-eye coordination, ensuring that children learn how to reach out, place, and balance blocks so that they do not tip over. This exercise also stimulates their creative learning, getting them to think about and imagine how block placement will affect the overall structure. Of course, as they get older and the blocks can get more complex and create increasingly diverse and complicated objects, they get to thinking about long-term planning and improve their overall creative thinking. Playing with building blocks alongside your child also helps teach them how to share and how to take turns in play.

Balls of all size

Physical development is just as important a part of play as the mental side is. The sooner that you get your child involved in physical activity, the better. This applies to more than just fine motor skills like hand-eye coordination, as well. Getting up, running around, jumping, and the like are all going to help them physically develop so that it becomes easier to incorporate fitness into their lives as they get older. There is all manner of toys that can help with this, such as ride-on toys, tunnels, slides, and the like. However, one that combines the physical activity with the fine motor skills, both of which your child needs, are balls. No matter the size, so long as they are age-appropriate, balls can be some of the most beneficial toys for your child to play with.

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Early age computers

There is a lot of debate that goes on about just how much contact we should be letting our children have with technology and at what age they should be having that contact. There’s a good reason for this debate as well, as there’s increasing concern that technological addiction and the sedentary lifestyle it can involve is bad for the health of your child in a wide variety of ways. However, there is no denying that technology will play an increasingly large role in daily life and the working world as time goes on. Early learning computers can help children start getting used to this technology so that they take to it much more easily as they get older.

Other children

It’s not all about the toys. It’s important that you find the opportunity to have your child play with others. Many of the skills mentioned above, such as the ability to communicate, to read social cues, and to share while playing, aren’t going to be fully developed unless they’re tested out there in the field. Solo play and playing with family is important, but playing with new friends and other children will help your child get used to other relationships, as well. It’s recommended that you get them playing with other children before they get to school so that they can integrate and socialize more easily.

Of course, play and toys aren’t the only ways to foster the development of your child. Providing a safe and positive home that engages and encourages them is just as essential, but the examples above can at least help.

7 Signs Your Child is Athletically Gifted

If all the news herald today about athletes enjoying multi-million-dollar yearly contracts has done anything, it’s made parents acutely aware of any athletic prowess of their children. Whether a son or daughter is in high school or diapers, parents’ schedules are full chock of practices and sports training classes.

Many parents ponder their children’s success when it comes to raising athletic children. Is it best to raise a child in one sport or multiple sports? At what age should we start them? How do we find an athletic program? What follows are seven signs you better start looking into athletic shoes.

Is Your Child a Leader?

If your child demonstrates the ability to lead early in their life, you probably have a future athlete on your hands. These characteristics will often show, but you must watch for them. If they struggle between which toys to play with, you could have a leader.

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Do You Live in a Warm Climate?

According to a recent story in the Journal of Sports Medicine, the high number of professional athletes who come from California, Florida, and Texas indicates the benefits of warm weather on potential athletic development. By contrast, children who live in colder climates are often unable to practice their sports, putting their development on hold.

Tall Parents

Most athletes, especially at the professional level, are well over six feet tall, whereas the average American male is five foot nine inches. Want to know your child’s potential height? Just add both parents’ heights, divide the result by two, and then add 2.5 inches for boys and subtract 2.5 inches for girls.

Eye/Hand Coordination

Coordination is an essential skill for an athlete. Unfortunately, children are born with no coordination. It’s not until they are about six months old that they begin to understand the correlation between seeing and touching. Their ability to watch an object as it moves and transfer an object from one hand to another is an early indicator of coordination.

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Fearlessness

There is a point at which fearlessness becomes stupidity, but it’s also true that athletes have a degree of fearlessness that others don’t. For example, that basketball player who attempts the difficult lay-up or the gymnast who isn’t afraid to try the seemingly impossible maneuver is a fearless athlete. Fearless children are often climbers, talkers, and much more that prove they aren’t afraid of failure.

Resilience

Does your child fall and never fail to get back up and try it again? Or, does your child try to reach something that’s too far away, only to try again? These things and more indicate early resilience in a child.

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Quick Learner

Does your child pick things up quickly? Do they learn things fast? Being a quick learner is an excellent attribute for any athlete. Learning things like proper form is essential to athletic success, such as the basketball player who watches the form of a professional and attempts to copy it.

There are many more critical indicators of a child’s potential for success in athletics. These include their body type, competitive nature, and much more. In many cases, it’s difficult to determine which is a more important characteristic than another. And yes, there are those athletes who defy all the norms but become standouts against all expectations. It all comes down to the attitude of the child.

How to be Social While Social Distancing

“Social distancing or physical distancing is a set of infection control actions intended to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease. The objective of social distancing is to reduce the probability of contact between persons carrying an infection and others who are not infected, so as to minimize disease transmission, morbidity and ultimately, mortality.” – Wikipedia

With the current pandemic that the world is currently facing, we have been instructed to practice social distancing and with great reason. As we see numbers rise in positive cases all over the world, we can’t help but fear for the safety of our loved ones and of ourselves. We have been doing social distancing for over a week now and we will continue to do so until we are told it is safe to interact once again.

Social Distancing

Social distancing isn’t too hard for me to do personally as I don’t mind being in the comfort of my own home but as a parent of a social five-year-old, I know the difficult time will arrive depending on how long we need to stay indoors. This got me thinking on how people interact socially. Prior to this pandemic, I would notice people constantly using their technology devices and not interact with people right in front of them. Now here we are in a state of emergency and people are craving the need to interact in person. Irony at its finest if you ask me.

It also got me thinking why not use this technology that we seem to not be able to live without while we are with people and use it to interact while keeping our distances. Seems simple, doesn’t it?! We implemented a few things in our home to keep social in hopes it will inspire others to do the same while we all observe “social distancing.”

Social Media

The good old social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and so on. These mediums are working well so far and it’s a great way to stay connected with all your family and friends. We have been sharing light stories and posts as a way to bring a smile to people’s faces during these difficult and uncertain times.

Another way to use social media is to use private messaging on Facebook to create group chats. I am part of one right now where we share pictures within our group of our kids, food or just anything positive. It is a great way to remember that there is a world of people out there loving you even if they are not in the same room as you. I have also been private messaging some close friends who are really down with everything going around as I want to make sure they know they are not alone and that they are very loved. You would be surprised on the positive impact that this can have on someone with anxiety and depression. Every little bit of compassion we can reflect onto others does help as I know it has helped one of my good friends.

Phone Calls/Text Messaging

We have been finding ourselves calling and text messaging more to check in with our loved ones. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t call my parents to see how they are doing. When I first got married my husband would ask, “Why do you call your parents every day?” My answer was always the same and it still applies to this day more than ever. “My parents are aging with each passing day and their health status can change from one moment to the next. I always want to make sure that I make that phone call so I can rest easy knowing that they are ok.”

I think it is important to check-in at least once a week or every few days just to make sure that the most vulnerable are doing well. It doesn’t cost us to check-in and it’s the kindness that we all need to be surrounded with. If you don’t like calling people then you can always send a text message especially if the recipient knows how to use text messaging. 😉

Video Talk

There are many apps that allow you to talk over video which is our favorite thing to do. Nikki loves to see people over video as it gives her that social interaction that she has been missing. We are not with them physically but we can see them which is so comforting for everyone. I have encouraged these videos with our close family members who have been calling us. When I see Nikki talking to her cousins or a friend through Facebook Messenger, her face lights up with so much happiness and I am truly thankful for all this technology that is at our fingertips.

We are able to interact with all our loved ones in ways that couldn’t be done many years ago and we should be thankful that we can. My sister even mentioned that we could have a girls night at home by video calling each other in a quiet room in the house. I thought this was a great idea and now it is just a matter of time of actually doing it. This is a great alternative from going out.

That is what we are doing to stay social in a social distancing time. You can stay social and connected by using technology. We don’t need to physically be together to know that we care about one another. Remember that we are doing this to protect ourselves from this pandemic. It may seem like an inconvenience and yes this will impact the economy but it will save lives. So let us stay calm, show compassion, be kind and we will get through this together.

To protect yourself from the Corvid-19 virus, there are steps that you can do and if we all do them we will be on the right path.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

One and Done: Our Family is Complete

A family is defined as a set of parents living with their children. The definition of family is the group of people who share common ancestors. Those are the definitions you can see in the dictionary but family is really up to personal interpretation.

To me a family is people who love each other unconditionally. It does not matter who makes up your family or how many are in it. At the end of the day, the love that is shared is what should matter most.

Our Family Beginning

Every story has a “Once Upon A Time” and our family story is no different. It all started when a young lady fell in love with a handsome and sweet young man. They dated for seven years before getting married and it was a rollercoaster of a journey but they did it together. To them an ideal family would be to have two children as it only seemed fitting since everyone in the family were only having two children.

Our wedding day.

Unfortunately, not all families are made quickly or as planned. This is just how life goes. Thinking the struggle was over when they found out they were expecting; however, it was short lived when a miscarriage had occurred. There hopes and dreams of having a family seemed just that…a dream.

A few years after, a pleasant surprise had happen with another positive pregnancy test. But this time, nine months later through a difficult pregnancy, our family grew by one with the energetic little one that we call Nikki.

Family Life

The adjustment into parenthood is never easy and it took (still is) a lot of tinkering along the way. As we grew with our daughter we started to see that one was plenty for us and our family felt complete. It didn’t always feel that way as we were always questioned as to why not add one more child. At one point we took that to heart and felt maybe we should consider adding one more. We seemed to have allowed that pressure to consume us once again and it was affecting my health. However, I quickly realized that it wasn’t worth all the extra stress and anxiety I was feeling. Of course with any life changing decisions we discuss it as a team as it takes a village to raise a child.

Our family of three.

Only Child Syndrome

“Only child syndrome is the myth that only children are lonely, selfish, spoiled, impatient and maladjusted.”

We have heard that and more when raising our daughter. This was a big part of our discussions as we reviewed what would be best for our family. When looking at the definition and seeing my daughter, I couldn’t see it. We don’t see any of those characteristics in Nikki.

Lonely

Luckily, Nikki isn’t locked in a tower like poor Rapunzel was for many years of her life. 😉 We expose Nikki to everything that life and people have to offer. We set up play dates and have her interact with people all throughout her life. She has many great friendships that she has built already in her five years of life and we nourish her to continue to build these friendships and build new ones. She is also surrounded by so many loving family members that we as adults help her maintain.

On the other side, we also personally know many people who have siblings who don’t even communicate or connect with. Therefore, having a sibling does not mean you have someone with you for life as they may not want to be part of your life. A sibling does not mean a life-long friend.

Nikki with her cousin Connor as they embrace each other’s company.
Selfish

When you ask anyone that knows Nikki really well, knows that she is not selfish. Of course there can be moments that she may not want to share a favorite toy and that is absolutely normal as she is only five! However, she is very generous and shares with others.

Spoiled

This word in itself stings when I hear, read, or see it! I recall a couple of years back, a family member mentioning to someone I know that Nikki was a spoiled little girl. Of course as a momma bear I was going to call out on that person. But I stepped back and looked at their own family dynamics and knew they were just forecasting their own parenting style onto me. Nikki is very loved and we provide for her the best that we can. We feed her, cloth her and provide her shelter. There are many things that she asks for and she does not get as we can not afford to give her everything that she wants. With age she has learned that we need to be grateful for what we do have and know that we can’t get everything we want. She is our only child so it is natural that it would be easier for us to provide for her a few extras. In the process, we make sure she knows how lucky she is that this can be done. Throughout the year, we do donations to others in order to teach her how important it is to give back. Many times she goes through some of her really good toys and gives it to others who don’t have any. We even give away clothes that no longer fit to a family who is in need. Therefore, please don’t call a child spoiled as it is so hurtful to all.

Impatient

I am not sure what child is patient with a sibling or not? Nikki can be patient and impatient as it all depends what she is excited for. I know many adults who are impatient as well and they have tons of siblings. Therefore, we knew not to worry and with age Nikki is getting much better in waiting. 😉

Maladjusted

Nikki thrives in social settings and is sociable with all. Not to mention her amazing empathy towards others. It is something that even her teachers have noted in her report cards and we couldn’t be prouder. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another and it is one that can be hard for children to exhibit. I have been often asked if Nikki has any older siblings as she is so loving and caring towards others. Everyone is always shocked to hear that Nikki is an only child. I am never shocked as that is how we raised her.

Nikki with her best friend Madison. One of the many friendships she has built.

Momma Braga Closing Thoughts

We support the decisions that families make for themselves. Everyone does and chooses what is best for them. My request to everyone as we end the year, is to be more accepting and loving to one another. Let us respect others and just give a listening ear when needed. Remember that whether someone decides to have no children or ten children, we shouldn’t judge or condemn them. The definition of “family” truly depends on how you see your family looking and not what others think it should look like.

After discussing it all and seeing how life is at this point for us…I turned to my husband and said “I am one and done.” He of course agreed and we couldn’t be happier with our family of three.

Thank you to all my amazing readers for all your love and support. This year we have had 30,000 readers and we are truly thankful!!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

What Do You Do If Your Baby Just Won’t Sleep?!

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It’s one of the most painful parts of parenting, when your baby won’t sleep. Sometimes the issue is straightforward, such as if they’re teething, in which case, we can prepare ourselves for a rough night on occasion. But what happens when your baby just won’t sleep, and you think you’ve tried everything?

Have they been unwell recently?

It’s easy to say that once they’ve got over a cold that they are fine, but as you well know, it can take a long time to get over something. They may be fine in themselves but by the time bedtime rolls around, they need a little bit of extra comfort, and it’s definitely worth checking their temperature just before bedtime. If that’s the case where you can get some paracetamol for kids to lower their temperature. We can be unwell for quite a while, and when you think about your children being surrounded by other kids with other bugs, feeling under the weather can be par for the course for a while.

Are they going through a change?

Stress isn’t something that’s for parents; when toddlers and babies undergo various milestones, they can regress. Look at your child; has something happened recently that has caused major upheaval in their world? It doesn’t have to be a major thing, but when you think about those big changes, such as going to school, or a new sibling, you have to expect that they will regress in some way because it is their way of coping with the problem. If this is the case, and they need a little bit of extra care and attention, give it to them. Because otherwise, if you don’t feel supported, they will express themselves in ways that aren’t particularly nice, such as an aggressive manner.

Have they ever been to sleep by themselves?

It’s a comfort thing, especially at the very outset, and you want your child to go to sleep, you naturally cuddle them until they do drop off, but if they wake up in the night and you aren’t there, they’ll get upset, and so the cycle begins all over again. If you can find a way to help your child fall asleep by themselves, they will become self-soothing. We have to teach them how to fall asleep by themselves, and it can take a long time to get right. You can begin by sitting a little bit further away from the bed, and gradually, over time, move a  little bit further towards the bedroom door. As well as this, think about other ways to help them drift off, such as certain cues like giving them a bath before bed, reading a story, and building night-time routines that can help them go to sleep self sufficiently.

There are so many reasons why they won’t go to sleep by themselves, and a lot of parents feel that they just need to let their children cry it out, but this, as has been shown numerous times, isn’t a very good approach. As much as we need to give them comfort, if they don’t sleep, it’s definitely worth thinking about if they have been unwell recently, or are anxious for whatever reason.

 

Great Ways To Help Your Kids With Their Homework

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Many things in life have become more demanding and complex than when we were kids. With higher expectations, both for students and teachers, as well as additional challenges, like new curriculums and smartphones, homework is one of the many examples. Despite your already busy schedule, you have to teach your kids after school, while also making sure that you don’t interfere with their learning. This can be tricky, which is why these six great tips can be helpful.

  1. Talk To The Teachers

Parents often don’t know how involved they should be in their child’s homework. The only way to find this out for sure is the speak to the teacher. You and your child’s teacher should be a team dedicated to the academic success of your kid. This is an important relationship, which means, like any other, communication is the key. For this reason, you should attend all school events.

  1. Make A Study Space

Studying on the couch isn’t nearly as productive as your child would have you believe. After all, the living room is filled with distractions, from the television to siblings, and even pets. Your child must have a space dedicated to completing homework. This should be in a quiet and well-lit location, with plenty of space. As long as the room is free, your dining space could work well.

  1. Provide The Proper Tools

Although most parents make sure their child has plenty of stationery for school, many kids leave their pencil cases in their lockers at the end of the day. To make sure your child has no excuse to skip their homework, you must have all the tools they might need, including a computer, printer, and ink cartridges. Remember to store these things together so that nothing gets lost.

  1. Work With A Routine

Structure is very important for children, especially where homework is concerned. Different kids work best at different times of the day, so create a routine that works for your child. While most parents would prefer their kids to do their homework as soon as they get home, yours may not want to do that. No adult wants to begin the chores right after getting home from work, after all.

  1. Focus On Healthy Habits

It’s not uncommon for kids to have several hours of homework to complete each night. When your child also has other after-school commitments, like sports or music, this leaves very little time in the day. While making time for homework is crucial, your child’s health is more important. If they aren’t getting enough sleep or skipping meals, you may want to talk to the teacher.

  1. Set A Good Example

Kids learn by copying what their parents do. This means that, if your children see you working hard, they will know they should be doing the same. Although you don’t need to start pouring over a math textbook, you could let your child see you reading a novel or balancing the budget. Your child is much more likely to follow your advice if they see you doing the same.

We all want our kids to be successful, so help yours on their way by following the advice above.

Our First School Year Takeaways

Hard to believe that our first school year arrived so quickly and just as quick, it is done. It is hard not to get emotional as we reflect on our daughter’s first school year. I remember dropping her off at the first day of school and her politely asking me to leave while I held onto the lump in my throat. Then releasing all the tears as I entered my car alone and wondered the whole day on how she was doing. To the last day of school where everyone excitedly said good-bye as they get to experience their first official summer holidays.

It has been such a journey and we all grew so much in the time that we call “school year.” There are a few takeaways that I want to share that may help other new parents as they embark on school life for the first time.

High and Low Points

A life lesson that we all know is that there are high and low points in life. This same lesson can be applied to Junior Kindergarten. There will be days that your child will be happy and there will be other days that your child is not happy. This is absolutely normal as the child needs to adjust to school life and some days might be better than others. The most important thing to do with your child is to talk about all the points of the day.

Every day after school, I would ask Nikki how her school day went and I would try to prepare myself in advance of what the responses might be. Some days there were some crying and other days there were smiles. At the end of the day, we both learned together on how to cope with the feelings of the day and how to better express them especially on the bad days.

Germs

They do exist and EVERYWHERE in the classroom! We were told by many other parents that kids get sick often at school, we were just hopeful that it wouldn’t happen to us. Well, that dream bubble broke very quickly in the school year as we battled cold after cold the first four months of the school year. At first we thought there must be something wrong with our child for being sick so often. However, our family doctor reassured us that this is common especially in the first couple of years of school. There are even points throughout the school year that it spikes (After Thanksgiving, Christmas Break and March Break were the most common times). A child’s immune system is being exposed to the world around them and it will take some to adjust.

We felt relieved that it wasn’t just us and we all started to take our vitamins to make sure we all stayed strong while fighting any cold that tried to bring us down. *When your child is sick, many times so do the parents. Don’t forget to take care of yourselves!

Kids Can Be Cruel

We all know that kids are not the nicest of beings and unfortunately we learned that very early on in Nikki’s school life. We had to deal with a child who called our daughter “fat” and it was a shocking experience for us to deal with. We learned a great deal from this experience and we were able to provide tips to help other parents who may encounter themselves in a similar situation.

Kids will be kids is no longer an acceptable term in our home. We feel it is important to stop the cycle instead of encouraging the phrase of “it’s part of being a kid.” Our biggest take away from this experience was to make sure that my child loves herself. If we truly love ourselves, our self-image will always stay true.

Label EVERYTHING

The Lost and Found is a popular area in the school and I understand why. Many kids have the same bags, lunch containers, and even clothes. Therefore, many times the items are taken by accident by another student or the items are lost. This is why we highly recommend to label everything that your child brings to school, including their shoes. We use Mabel’s Labels as they are durable and they have the perfect label for each item you need them for! It was a life saver for us as none of our items were lost or misplaced. That saved us a lot of money by the end of the year. Thank you Mabel’s Labels! 🙂

Be Involved

It is very important to be involved with your child’s educational learning. In Nikki’s class they brought home a communication book every night, this is where we can write notes to the teachers and they would also write notes for us if necessary. We loved this as it got us to be more involved in the classroom by having this form of communication between the teachers.

We do encourage to participate in fundraisers at the school and attend events that are open to parents to join. We did the chocolate fundraiser and it was a great learning experience for our daughter to undertake. It brought out her fundraising skills out and she was one of the top fundraisers in the school (special thank you to our family and friends for buying chocolates in support!). We also attended the Fun Fair that they had at the school which was great to see and interact with our students and parents. It really made us feel like part of the school community.

Any form of involvement that you can do with your child at school will benefit everyone. We know that we truly enjoyed being engaged and involved. I took it one step further and volunteered on their first school field trip and boy was that an experience that I will never forget (article coming soon on this!).

Create A Yearbook

I remember having yearbooks when I was older in school and loved having people sign my yearbooks. I never thought of having my teachers sign it and I wonder what they would have written about me.

This is why when I heard about this idea from my sister’s friend, I just had to incorporate it in our lives. We bought the classic, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss and made it into Nikki’s official yearbook. Every year we will be asking Nikki’s teachers to write in it and this way she can look back and see what her teachers wrote about her. It will be interesting to see what each teacher sees in Nikki and it will be a keepsake for life.

We are truly grateful for the remarkable teachers Nikki had this year as they were very supportive of Nikki and of us as parents. This is why we decided to write a very detailed letter to the principal of the school to show our thanks to each teacher that impacted Nikki’s school year. Written compliments are rare in today’s world as we are all so busy. However, I wanted to make sure that the teachers knew how special they are and how thankful we are that they taught our child this school year. Nikki’s teachers appreciated this gesture by us and one was almost in tears as she was humbly touched by our words.

How Much They Grow

It truly is amazing to see how much your child grows especially in the first year of school. Nikki learned in leaps and we are truly grateful to her teachers who helped her grow as a person and as a student.

On the first day of school, Nikki had the baby face that still made me feel that she was my baby (pictured below).

On the last day of school, she was blooming into a young lady who had a magical first school year (picture below). The change in her appearance, demeanor and knowledge was tremendous that this was the biggest takeaway from the whole year. It is amazing how one school year changes everything.

Now here I am a parent who has fully embarked in school life and it has been a journey. I know there will be other challenges, triumphs and milestones ahead but for now I am going to bask in Junior Kindergarten glory as Nikki passed! There are more smiles, joys and tears to come as I know I have had my fair share of all this first year.

I want to thank my husband, my family and all my friends for all their loving support of Nikki and me as we all go on this crazy journey called parenthood.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

Mealtimes Without The Mess With Tidy Tot Canada

Mealtimes with little ones can get messy at times (ok I will admit all the time). We have all seen the mess that is left on the table, floor and even on the child themselves. However, what if I told you that it doesn’t need to be like that anymore?!

We at Momma Braga are very excited to introduce you all to Tidy Tot Canada! They have a solution that can help with mealtime mess and that is the coverall bibs.

What is so awesome about this product is that they have coverall bibs for the different stages of your weaning journey. From early weaning to toddler feeding and on-the-go.

Stage One Weaning – Tidy Tot Bib and Tray Kit

This stage is for children up to two years of age. All you need to do is attach the bib to the tray for no more gaps between your baby and highchair and to keep food well within baby’s reach. This is the only kit to be certified 100% food safe.

Benefits
  • Fully waterproof long sleeved bib attaches to tray for no more gaps!
  • Protects baby, floor and highchair from food mess and spills.
  • Tidy Tot Tray is just wider than babies arm span preventing food being dropped to the floor.
  • Easy to clean. Machine washable.
  • Comes in wipe clean travel pouch for easy storage.
  • BPA free, Phthalate free and food safe.
  • Compatible with highchairs and booster seats.

Stage Two Feeding – Tidy Tot Long Length Coverall Bib

When you no longer regularly need the full protection by the Tidy Tot Bib and Tray Kit, the next stage is the Tidy Tot Long Length Coverall. This is ideal for toddlers up to three years old. This bib is one of the longest coverall bibs on the market giving full protection from food and messy play.

Benefits
  • Large crumb catcher pocket to catch dropped food with side fastening poppers to make for easy cleaning – just open the poppers and scoop out the mess.
  • Water-resistant, lightweight and durable.
  • Comes with travel purse.
  • 360-degree protection from mess with long sleeves and full cover fastening at the back.
  • Easy clean, machine washable.
  • Fun unisex print that appeals to inquisitive toddlers.

Tidy Tot Disposable Coverall Bib- On the Go Mealtimes

This is great for families on-the-go and it is great for children up to two years of age.

Benefits
  • Long sleeves and unique patent pending design keeps little ones clean from head to toe when eating out.
  • Essential for travel, holidays and meals out.
  • Resealable strip at the bottom of the bib sticks to table or highchair – no more gaps!
  • Waterproof.
  • Made from recyclable materials.
  • Resealable Twin Pack for easy storage – two bibs per pack.

#MelAndNikkiReview

We at Momma Braga are very lucky as we have amazing testers to try out products that we receive and in this review we got my goddaughter, Adriana who is one years old. We got Adriana to try the Tidy Tot Bib and Tray Kit by Tidy Tot Canada.

Adriana’s mom tried it out and completely fell in love with Tidy Tot. “This is SO amazing! We love it!” stated Adriana’s mom after the first use. Best part is that Adriana didn’t mind it at all and the mess truly stayed contained which made clean up faster and easier.

Adriana’s mom also mentioned to us that the Tidy Tot Bib and Tray Kit is especially great when rice or spaghetti is served for dinner. “It gets REALLY messy! But the Tidy Tot Bib and Tray Kit made it so much better”, she stated. We call this a parent win!

Adriana enjoying the little bit that is left from her rice dinner and look at how clean everything looks!

We love how Tidy Tot is making life easier for parents especially during mealtimes! Now these great coverall bibs are not just great for mealtimes but also great for creative play. The coverall bib fully protects their clothing from paints and spills whilst the tray provides a secure, self-contained (and wipe clean!) surface, and keeping any mess well away from the floor. So time to get creative with your little one! 😉

Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview we give Tidy Tot Canada 10 stars out of 5! We love it and it has received thumbs up from our tester, Adriana which is the highest compliment you could possibly get. 😉 There are so many great benefits for your little one to use Tidy Tots and of course the benefits for parents is the peace of mind of a safe product that makes mealtimes less messier.

If you would like to purchase one of the Tidy Tot Canada products, please click here. You will love it too!

Special thank you to Adriana and her mom for testing out this product for us as we really appreciate their honest feedback.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

*The Tidy Tot Bib & Tray Kit in Dove Grey was provided in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are our own.

Things Every Child Should Learn

When it comes to teaching our children the skills they need to be the best in life, there are a lot to things to teach and many directions which we can go in this year. If you are looking to teach your child the best skills for their lives this year, here are just some of the ones to consider.

Ride a bike

When we look at some of the most iconic skills to teach to kids, we can’t not mention riding a bike. Riding a bike might just be the most obvious of all of the things to teach our kids and it is a huge challenge every step of the way. When you start off teaching your child to ride a bike you will want to think about using stabilisers and as time goes on you will be able to teach them to balance on just two. It could take a long time to teach this to your child but once they have learnt this skill it will stay with them for life!

Swim

Teaching a child how to swim is so important for you to do, and the earlier you can teach them the better. Choose a good swim school and take your child once or twice a week and let them learn how to keep themselves afloat above the water. Children are very adventurous and curious and they are prone to drowning because of this fact. If you can teach your child this essential skill you can let them into the pool and the sea without too much worry.

Throw a ball

Playing sports and games is one of those things which is great for the development of a child and it can be a wonderful skill for them to learn. Being able to accurately throw a ball and join in with games and open them up to a whole world of different sports and this could even become a hobby or career for them later on in life. It might take them a while to learn but it is the ideal excuse for some garden play dates on sunny days!

Look after animals

Looking after and being responsible for another living thing has to be the best way to prepare a child for their future. If you want to make sure that your child is able to live a great life and look after themselves, teaching them how to look after a pet can be a wonderful thing. You can get a pet hamster, fish or rabbit and let your child be the one responsible for looking after the animal. You can show them the importance of caring for another living thing and this will help them become more independent as they grow older.

Be kind

A smile, a hello, a please and thank you… to teach your child to be kind and respectful to other people is a skill in itself and one which you should definitely consider trying out this year!

Self-Care: How to Combat Parental Burnout

Written by: Claire Adams

Do you ever get tired of parenting? Do you ever feel like you simply can’t take it anymore? Most parents reach that point from time to time, that moment when all you want to do scream and run away somewhere where somebody will pamper you for a change. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. If anything, the fact that you’re trying so hard makes you a good one. However, you should consider your own mental health and how parental burnout can affect you and your family if you don’t do something about it. If your mind is in overload and you don’t know how to get through another day of being an exemplary parent, here is some advice for you.

It takes a village to raise a child

It takes a lot of effort, devotion and patience to raise a child, but nobody can have it all under control all of the time. So, try not to be offended or threatened when another parent steps up and offers their wisdom and experience to help you in some situation you could be handling better. Instead of jumping to the conclusion that they only want to undermine you and show they’re a better parent than you, consider the fact that they might have been in your shoes and in a situation identical to this one in the past. Maybe at that point somebody helped them, or maybe they just wished somebody did. In any case, try becoming friends with other parents. They might offer some good advice on things like helping your kid with school stuff or dealing with them when they act out. Talk to moms and dads at school or at the playground, organize playdates and dinners to create your own village and maybe make parenting a bit easier.

It’s OK to ask for help

When taking care of your children seems too much to handle and you need some time off, remember that you can always ask for help and that it’s not something you should be ashamed of or hide from. There are many people you can turn to. It could be your spouse, your parents, siblings, friends or neighbors or anybody else you trust. When you try doing everything on your own, of course you’ll feel like you’re on the brink of madness. And if you have nobody close to you to jump in, there’s always the option of paying for help. For example, there are some amazing catering companies out there which will impress even the most demanding guests, meaning that you don’t have to make all the food for your kid’s birthday party yourself. Also, if cleaning your home takes too much of your time and energy, find somebody who’ll come once or twice a week and get things sorted out for you. Just don’t shy away from reaching out when the going gets tough.

Lower your expectations

When the bar is raised too high up, you won’t be able to reach it no matter how hard you try, which can leave you feeling inadequate, frustrated and desperate. When you notice that this is happening, remember that you’re the one who decides where the bar is and lower it a bit. Don’t expect perfection from yourself, because there is no perfection when it comes to parenthood. A lot of times it comes down to trial and error, whether we like to admit it or not. What does this mean? Basically, it means it’s not the end of the world if let things go when they get too difficult. Nobody will judge you if your house is messy from time to time, if you let your kids watch Trolls on TV or if they skip their piano lesson or football practice once in a while. Adjust your expectations to something more realistic and you’ll relieve yourself of some stress momentarily.

Be more than just a parent

Once you become a parent, it can become hard to remember that you were ever anything other than that. Well, you were and you are. You’re a person with needs, desires and ambitions that have nothing to do with your children. Send your kids to kindergarten and find a part-time job if you don’t already have one. You can even start working online from home, or at least find a hobby you’ll enjoy. If nothing else, don’t forget to give yourself some time away from your family occasionally, to do things that make you feel happy and help you unwind. Under no circumstances should you think that this is selfish. It’s a way to preserve your mental and physical health, so that you can be a calmer and more supportive parent to your children in the long term.

Parental burnout is a real problem and one you should deal with as soon as you feel the need to. Consider this an important part of your self-care and a way to stay on top of your parental role.