Why We Chose to Go With 4 Presents for Christmas

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Last Christmas was our first Christmas with a baby.  When the conversation of Christmas came up we had to decide what traditions were going to adapt as a family.  It was exciting to pick what we wanted to do.  Things I knew I didn’t want:

  • to spend a bunch of money
  • to raise spoiled children
  • to have a house full of toys

That’s when I went looking for a tradition that didn’t involve aimlessly shopping for a crap ton of toys and I found The 4 Gift Tradition.


What is the 4 gift tradition?

If you have never heard of the tradition it goes like this- each kid gets 4 presents each one falls under a specific category.

  1. Something they want
  2. Something they need
  3. Something to wear
  4. Something to read

Want

I love that this tradition covers the difference between want and need.  It’s such a good lesson and I really like the idea of teaching it so young.

So this category is what you think of when you think of a Christmas present. This is the present that would be used as their “big present.’ What is that thing they have been wanting all year or would love to get.  Both of our babies are still under 2 so we picked this present for them but if you have toddlers here are some ideas of things they may want.

If you need more GREAT gift ideas visit the queen of all things tiny human toy related: Two n Tow & On the Go

Need

This is where you can get your kids really thinking about what they need to have.

Some ideas could be:

  • equipment for a sport (new glove, a bat, skates)
  • something for school (a backpack, new organizer)
  • do they need to replace something that is broken or outdated?
  • supplies for a hobby they have (scrapbook paper, new headphones)

Wear

One of our presents to our kiddos is either a new outfit or something they can wear. This category is kinda open ended.  You can customize it for each kid or make a rule for all your kids.

Whether it’s:

  • shoes
  • new coats
  • outfits
  • something they’ve had their eye on to wear

it’s completely up to you. 

Read

Ahhhhhh… my favorite category as an educator, books!  You can change this up for whatever age child you have.  For older kids I love the idea of having them writing down books they WANT to read.  It’s a great way to make reading fun for kids.

For smaller kids like mine, we buy them an assortment of books to start exploring. This year we opted for cloth books that both our 19 month old and 2 month old could enjoy together, were soft enough to play with around the baby, and were durable enough to last.

Here are the ones were went with. I love the idea of making reading a gift to my kids!


Over all…

Christmas is about family and tradition.  You can use this system and make it work for your family.  We do these four gifts but we also added a gift for the kids to share and we still do stockings as well.

This tradition works for us because it keeps the holidays simple.  Using the 4 gift tradition keeps Christmas about family and not JUST about gifts.  I want my kids to understand that we are not made of money and that presents are great but wants and needs are separate things.

Buying 4 presents will make each one special and Christmas morning will be more than just a free for all of wrapping paper.  My house won’t be turned into a giant toy box of toys that will be forgotten by January 1st. My hope is that this tradition will make the holidays fun, will teach my kids to appreciate what they have and will keep us from being wasteful and buying things we don’t need.

So, what do you think, will the 4 gift tradition be something your family will do?

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6 Hard Lessons I Learned Nursing the First Time Around

Breastfeeding is not for the faint of heart. Something that seems so natural is actually really freaking complicated and for most does NOT come natural. It takes practice and patience.

my first experience with nursing was messy, hard but I learned so much. Those hard lessons I’ve learned have given me much more confidence nursing this second time around. Here is what I learned the hard way nursing my first born.

1. Your emotions affect your baby’s emotions

Yep. Looking back on my time nursing the first time this makes SO MUCH SENSE.

When you’re postpartum you’re of course super emotional but when you are nursing your baby you have to be in a calm state. Think of it like being around a horse (I know weird analogy stay with me). When you ride a horse they always tell you to stay calm because horses sense fear and anxiety. The same for your little one.

It’s so easy to be on edge. You’re tired, hormonal (that’s probably an understatement) and sure you probably have anxiety about feeding still. But staying calm and knowing when you take a break will help you tremendously.

2. Less is more

When you’re at the hospital they make you write down when you fed, which side and for how long. They also make you track wet and dirty diaper and what the poop looks like. So, when you get home it can be overwhelming to do all that on top of, I don’t know adjusting to life with a tiny human!

With my first I obsessed over every minute he fed, the time between feeds and what his diapers should look like. It was exhausting.

My best advice the first week or two track it. The doctor will want that info and it’s hard to recall it all. But once your babe is back to birth weight relax and go with the flow. Make sure they nurse a good amount but don’t obsess. Forget the clock and soak up the bonding.

3. Let baby take the lead

Since breastfeeding is natural a lot of it just happens. Baby knows what to do (in most cases). Let them nurse as long as they want to. Nurses made me believe if my baby didn’t nurse 20-30 minutes he wasn’t getting enough. False.

Of course always make sure baby is swallowing and nursing. A good amount of time but some babies are more efficient and will nurse less. There are also other factors time of day, mood, age. All these things play a part in how long a nursing sessions last. Let baby lead and as long as they’re making diapers, are content and satisfied you’re doing great.

4. What works for one mom, may not work for you

This one is hard and honestly it applies to more than just breastfeeding. As a new mom people will have so much advice for you. Take it with a grain of salt.

What works for one mom may not work for you. Maybe, Sally really loved nursing on demand for a year, good for her. That might not work for you, maybe it will. Who the heck knows! Only you can make that call. My advice is try it. Try Sally, Megan’s whoever’s advice. If it works, great! If not, great! Do you, momma.

5. Build you stash early and wait on the bottle

With my first I would pump and freeze it (even as a SAHM) but then I would let my husband use the frozen milk to feed at night. Which was fine but I did it too often.

If you pump and only use it when necessary then when it’s time for date nights, meetings, or simple mom time you have it. Even if you’re a stay at home mom, make a stash, you’ll thank me on date night when you can stay out that extra hour or so.

6. Your journey is your journey

This one is most important. If you’re scrolling and didn’t read anything stop and read this….

It’s your journey! It doesn’t matter if you nurse 3 years, if you exclusively pump, if you nurse part time, or if you supplement. It doesn’t freaking matter!

Breastfeeding is hard, it’s taxing emotionally and your journey is yours. Do whatever it takes to keep you and baby happy and healthy no matter what that looks like or what anyone thinks.

What lessons did you learn through your first nursing journey? I’d love to hear them below.

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Spending Time at Home : The Art of Slowing Down

Spending Time at Home

I don’t know about you but as a stay at home mom being at home can be daunting.  Being home, 7 days a week can be not only lonely but can make the days drag on.  Things become the same old same old and you become bored. So, you over compensate, right? You schedule to go out to eat, spend time with family, go to the zoo, and the list goes on and on! You avoid spending time at home in hopes to feel less contained and monotonous.

So where is the medium? How do you enjoy slowing down without going crazy? How do you make the decision to intentionally slow down and spend time at home. 

The Art of Slowing Down

We (my family and I) somehow got caught up in rushing around (to no where), always having plans and over scheduling A LOT.  I always hear the song  I’m in a Hurry (and I Don’t Know Why) by Alabama when I am feeling this way.. is that just me? Okay any who back to the point.  We were trying to not feel bored and ended up feeling something worse.

I noticed a change while we were over scheduled.  My family felt disconnected.  We were “doing,” all these things how could we feel so disconnected… Although fun: the zoo, family visits and going here and there, they were draining us.  It was/is time-consuming.  It’s time in the car, loading and unloading.  It’s chasing Killian in environments that aren’t baby proofed.  It was taking its toll.

How to slow down

I would say like any good thing, slowing down takes practice and being intentional! My husband and I are pretty open when it comes to how we are feeling.  So when we both looked at each other after a few MONTHS of running ourselves ragged we knew something had to change.

Step 1- be intentional with one block of time. Getting started takes one small commitment.  What can you commit to one day, one weekend, one afternoon?  Start there.

So, we started small with something manageable, one weekend.  That’s it.  That’s how it got started, one small weekend. We agreed that the majority of that weekend we needed to be at home.  We had only scheduled to have one small family lunch and we stuck to that but that was it.  The rest of the time we had to be home.

Now what?

Now you have decided one, that your family and you need a slow down.  Going and going has somehow brought you to this point and you have agreed to spend time at home, slowing down with each other.

Great!  Now the easy part- do it! Just be at home.

Our weekend at home was absolutely not Instagram grid worthy.  We didn’t sit in matching outfits, cooking in our perfect kitchen laughing all weekend.  We just spent time in our home with each other.

It sounds so simple and maybe not impressive but it made such an impact on us. Staying at home and tinkering around the house was awesome. We were amazed at how:

  1. long our weekend felt versus being out and about.
  2. much stuff we got done without even trying.
  3. many meals we ate at home, together, and at the table.
  4. relaxed we felt, even while getting things done that were over due.

Making the choice to spend time at home just that one weekend helped reset the dynamic in our family for the week to come.

But staying at home is boring…

So, I know some of you are thinking this right now as you read this post.  Spending time at home doesn’t have to be boring.  Like I said any good thing takes practice and being intentional! Just agreeing to start is a huge step.  If a whole weekend feels like too much, especially being a SAHM then pick a smaller time frame.  Maybe, just one Saturday you agree to spend time in your home.

Trust me, not having plans can lead to some of the best memories BUT if you need plans here are a few staying home activity ideas that will help you slow down, connect and still be together as a family.

These are just a few activities that could help you reconnect as a family in your home.

Make a plan to schedule unscheduled time

Once you commit to spending time at home schedule to do it again. Be intentional!  Commit to whatever you feel like you can handle and to what you think your family needs.

We started with one weekend and have talked about making a three-day commitment.  My husband works in the evenings so for us staying home in the mornings can be hard because it’s when we get our ‘running around done.’

BUT

This is also what seems to drain us and make us feel like we haven’t connected.  For us three days a week at home is what we need to feel like we are balanced.  Find your balance and try to stick with it.

So, let’s review

  1. Make the decision to slow down.
  2. Talk about what that needs to look like.
  3. Commit to what works for your family.
  4. Make a plan to not make plans!
  5. Be intentional practice slowing down during those committed chunks of time.

LASTLY! Leave me a comment and let me know how you’re doing with it!

I would love to hear all about your ‘boring days at home and how they are going!!

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