Creating A Toddler Sleep Schedule

Finn has been a fantastic sleeper since about nine weeks old. It was around that time that I went back to work and getting on a normal schedule certainly helped him start sleeping through the night. As Finn got older, he continued to be a great sleeper. As crazy and unpredictable as he can get throughout the day, I can always depend on an afternoon nap and an 8pm bedtime.

Routine Is Key

I get asked a lot about how we got Finn to stick with this routine, and honestly, I think we just got lucky! Of course we don’t really make nap time or bedtime an option, it’s just something he knows is going to happen.

About an hour before he goes to sleep, we remind him that it’s almost time for a nap or for bed. We continue to remind him by saying things like, “After you eat lunch, we are going to take a nap” or “We’re going to bed after this show.” We get him changed into his jammies around this time and put on a movie for him to unwind to.

Of course there are moments when Finn fights us, but ultimately, he does give in. Now that he’s a bit older, we’ve given him some autonomy. He likes to put the toothpaste on the toothbrush by himself and he likes to climb into bed alone. This gives him the independence he craves and gets him excited about going to bed.

We still give Finn milk before bed. Just a little bit in his sippy cup, solely for comfort. We’ve started not giving it to him unless he asks for it, but he usually does. I know this will have to end at some point, but for now, it works.

David and I both tell him stories or read him books before bed. We don’t make it drag on, usually only about five minutes apiece. Then we kiss him and say our goodnights. If he is fussy or tries to fight it, we give him something to look forward to the next morning. We will say, “Do you want to see your friends at school in the morning? Then you have to sleep so we can wake up and see them!” This usually does the trick.

Timing Is Everything

It’s been difficult to stay regimented at times, but we do our best to have Finn in bed before 8pm every night. This has creeped later into the evening as he gets older, but we will likely keep it there for a while.

This means that our dinner is eaten early, baths are taken before seven, and we get to watch cartoons for a bit before bed. If we are out and about, we make it a priority to be home before his bedtime. We’ve stuck to this rule so strongly, I believe it makes bedtimes easier. Since it rarely fluctuates, he knows it’s coming.

We also do the same thing with naps. For the two years or so, Finn has napped every afternoon. We usually get him down between 12:30 and 1pm, and his naps are typically two hours long. This means our days are broken in half, but we are usually needing a break from parenting around the same time, so it works out well πŸ˜‰ .

Avoid Bad Habits

I made the mistake ONE time in my almost three years as a mom, and I won’t do it again. Finn woke up early one morning, around 4am. I was pregnant with Reese at the time, and so exhausted I just scooped him up and brought him into our bed. BAD IDEA! He kicked and squirmed and asked to watch movies, and eventually I gave up, made a pot of coffee and decided to start my day.

That night, bedtime was awful. He screamed and fought us the whole way, wanting to “sleep in Mommy and Daddy’s bed.” We finally got him down and I swore he’d never sleep with us again. Yes, it was easier than trying to get him back to sleep in his own bed, but in the end, it created an expectation that we had to break.

Transitions

Over the last two years, Finn has been a rockstar when it comes to change. I know not every kid is like this, but he is totally a go with the flow type of kid.

We transitioned him into a big boy bed the very same night we moved into our new house. We never set up the crib, so he didn’t ever think to ask where it had gone. We set up his bedroom, got him excited and he has slept in that bed every night since.

I’m a firm believer in going cold turkey with kids. We did the same thing when we switched from bottle to sippy cup – he got whole milk in it instead of formula, and he drank it without any fuss.

I realize that this is just our experience with our one child. Already, things are so different with Reese. However, I wanted to put it out there since I get asked about it! Toddlers are crazy little monsters, but getting them on a schedule has been a game changer when it comes to sleep!

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What’s Your Core Competency?

Happy Monday! I love that I now look forward to Mondays instead of feeling dread. All weekend long I was thinking about all the work I was looking forward to getting done this week. What a totally different feeling that is!

Since launching my own business, I’ve been watching a ton of Shark Tank. The show is so entertaining, but also inspiring and educational. It breathes fire into my passion of entrepreneurship!

One thing I’ve taken away from the show is that Mark Cuban repeatedly asks the entrepreneurs “What is your core competency?”

I didn’t give much thought to the question at first, but the more I heard him ask, I started to wonder what my core competency was.

I think it’s important to understand what you are really good at, and also understand what things you may struggle with in all facets of life. It helps David and I in our marriage and as parents. It helps you pick a major when you decide to attend college. It helps you in job interviews and in countless other areas of your life.

I think a common misconception is that life is about being great at all things. And of course this is something to strive for, but ultimately, we each have something inside of us that we are just really, naturally great at.

After giving this some thought over the past few weeks, I’ve determined that my core competency is telling stories in a way that attracts people to listen. I’ve been able to develop this skill in my career over the past few years and I’ve realized I’m really good at it.

You might be thinking, storytelling, really? Well, yes. I tend to think there is beauty in a journey. I like to think the bad times make the good times better. I take a topic like “core competencies” and turn them into think pieces. My goal is to tap into your inner workings and relate to something inside of you. I can do that with a story about a patient who has overcome an illness, I can do that while talking about my breastfeeding journey, and I can do that by asking really silly questions that make you think. I’m good at telling stories and getting people to react! That’s my core competency.

So, now, if I’ve done my job correctly, I’ve got you thinking about what your biggest strength is? Is it math and numbers? Is it caring for others? Is it your inter-personal skills? Are you great at thinking of big ideas? Are you a writer and pay attention to the details of the grammar and punctuation that is used? (This is something I need to hone in on!)

No matter who you are, you have a skill that stands above the rest. And the best part is, you probably already know what it is and maybe even use it to your advantage.

My older sister, for instance, has a knack for giving practical advice. She’s always been the most mature person in the room and her vibe gives off a very mothering nature. She is still the person I call for parenting advice, to read over my resume or other important documents. She has a way about her that makes me trust what she has to say and nine times out of ten, I implement her advice. She has taken this strength of hers and used it to her advantage in her career path. She is about to graduate with her doctorate and is going to be a professor. She has taught countless students over the past few years. She’s just a natural at it.

My younger sister is the life of the party. This used to mean that she was the funny one or the most outgoing, but as she’s aged, this skill has become something I depend on in my life. She always knows how to break the ice. She can make uncomfortable situations worthwhile. She has become dependable and trustworthy because of this skill. She has a knack for people and she has used this skill in her career by becoming an executive assistant at one of the biggest companies in the US. Her boss has sang her praises countless times and I’m so proud of her for turning her skill of being “the life of the party” into something constructive and positive!

Another example, my husband. David is a perfectionist, and as much as that term gets a negative connotation, David has flipped that stereotype on its head. When he puts his mind to it, there isn’t a thing he hasn’t been able to perfect in our almost nine years together. He became a blue bet in Jiu Jitsu in under two years. He has caught some of the biggest fish I’ve ever seen. He started tying flies for fly fishing and within months started selling them for real money. He has moved up at jobs he has no business working at, because on paper, he doesn’t have the skill. David’s core competency is perfecting the skill he needs to succeed. It’s an impressive quality to watch from the outside. When the rest of us are busy second-guessing ourselves, David decides he is going to be great at something and then proves himself right.

The point I’m trying to make is that your core competency isn’t necessarily something practical. It doesn’t have to be something tangible or simple like “I’m great at cooking” or “I’m really good at making the bed.” It can be something tangential or theoretical. We all have something inside of us, what’s yours?

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8 Items To Add To Your Spring Wardrobe

1.Leith Bodycon Dress – This is the best dress ever! And it’s currently on sale. I own it in two colors and, even though it’s non-maternity, I wore it throughout my pregnancy. Right now 8 colors are on sale. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this dress!!! It’s perfect for spring with a light sweater, and can be worn into summer and even fall.

2.Madewell Cotton Tank – The absolute best basic tanks out there. This tank comes in a ton of colors and are under $20! Grab a bunch and you’ll be set for spring.

3.Old Navy Field Jacket – I have this jacket in maroon and it’s one of my favorite jackets. (And ask my husband, I have a TON of jackets!) This one is a perfect layering piece for spring. It comes in a ton of colors and is currently on sale.

4.Boyfriend Jeans – I’m really into the Boyfriend Jean trend that is making a comeback. Not only is the fit flattering on my shape, but the cropped length is perfect for this transitional weather. I have this pair from Old Navy and they are perfect! Make sure to size down.

5.AE Slip-on Sneakers – I live in these sneakers. In fact, I need a new pair because the ones I bought last year are already worn out and only because I wear them THAT MUCH. I love this blush color from American Eagle. Trust me, if you’re a mom, grab a pair of these. There’s something so wonderfully simple about slip on sneakers!

6.AE Jumpsuit – I will be living in jumpsuits this spring and summer. The simple ease of having one item of clothing is so appealing to me! Plus, the fit of these are so flattering.

7.AE Woven Mules – I linked these in my American Eagle Try-On Post, and I haven’t stopped thinking about them! I think I’m gonna pull the trigger on them since they will go with just about everything this spring – jeans, jumpsuits, even dresses!

8. Peplum Tee – This peplum tee is the perfect way to dress up a basic outfit. It’s so adorable, and the fit is perfect. It comes in white and gray, the best basics, and can be layered perfectly for spring.

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What Are You Doing For You?

I played soccer the other day. It was the first time I had played in almost two years. And it was the best.

Today? Today I’m sore. But in the best way possible. In the way that makes you crave more physical activity because your body knows how good it is. Plus, I just feel like Erica, ya know?

This post is for the mamas out there. But really, anyone can relate to this feeling – of just trying to make yourself fit in.

Here’s my story:

When I was in high school, soccer was my life! I even chose a college based on where I would be able to play. I ended up quitting the game after my freshman year for reasons that I don’t need to go into. The point is I quit. I stopped playing. And at that point I stopped being Erica.

Dramatic? Yes. But when they say your twenties are confusing, they aren’t lying.

In the past decade I’ve struggled with my career path, I’ve fought the urge to go out on my own out of nothing but fear, I’ve moved around trying to make a geographic place make me feel more like me (news flash – this is impossible), I’ve tried to blog about things I thought people would care about rather than things I actually care about, and endless other messiness that just happens in life.

For so long I looked elsewhere for that feeling of being Erica again. The problem was that no one and nothing else could fill that void for me. In order to feel like myself, I had to stop caring about the world around me and what they thought about me and start listening to what I want.

Listening to what I want – this is nearly impossible to do when you become a mother.

However, when I started putting myself first – a resolution I made to myself this year – I started feeling Erica creeping back in. And you know what else? My marriage is happier. My kids don’t drive me crazy nearly as often. I’m following my dreams. I feel confident. I signed up for another season of soccer even though I was absolutely terrified that my postpartum body would never allow me to play like I used to. I started blogging about things that I feel in my heart, and in turn, my blog and Instagram has been growing! Being Erica is pretty awesome.

This post has been a little stream of consciousness and probably a little hard to follow, but I guess that’s just me being me – I’m a little chaotic, a little bit all over the place. I’ve got big ideas that need to be wrangled in. I’m a thinker and a dreamer and not really an organizer. And I’m still a little angsty if I’m being honest πŸ™‚

I guess what I’m trying to say is – if you’ve been wanting to do something and the only thing holding you back is fear, then that’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. Let yourself be authentic because it will pay off in ways you’ve always wanted!

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Reese at Three Months Old

My sweet little baby girl is already three months old… really three and a half. It’s insane how slowly time goes by the last twelve weeks of pregnancy, but once baby gets here, time whips on by.

I recorded each month of growth for Finn starting at three months old, and I want to do the same with Reese. I just read through my blog post from Finn’s three month update, and boy are things different with Reese!

Parenting

I’ve mentioned this before, but I feel like an entirely different person this go round. Going from zero baby to one was a huge adjustment. This time, we knew what to expect and rolled with it. I feel like a seasoned pro some days, and on other days I still question how the hell I’m old enough to have two children.

David and I have tried to carve out some time for just the two of us, but admittedly it’s tougher with two. However, Reese is a good little babe and will go along with anything, so dates now just include another girl as well.

Physical Growth

Reese was almost 12lbs at her two month checkup. Since we haven’t been to the doctor since, I’m not sure on her exact weight. She is holding her head up quite well and I did witness two rolls from belly to back just this week! She is swatting at toys, and loves to chew on her hands. She’s a solid little babe just like her brother was.

Brain Growth

Reese loves to coo and tell us stories. She definitely recognizes me and her dad, and absolutely loves to stare at her brother. She is tracking things through the room and is starting to respond to noises. She is smiley, but she makes you work for it!

Sleeping

Where Finn was a great night time sleeper and sucked at naps, Reese is the opposite. And I can’t even complain that much, because although she wakes up once or twice a night to nurse, she eats and goes right back down, and has done this since about a month old.

Currently, I put her down around 6:30-7pm each night. She usually wakes up around 2-3am and then for the day around 6:30am. However, she’s been teething a bit and has started waking up around 11pm and then again at 2-3am.

Reese is a solid napper, though. She currently has about an hour of awake time and then goes down for a nap that lasts about 90 minutes. We just cycle through this routine all day. She naps and sleeps in her crib at night, and has been since about six weeks old.

Eating

Reese is exclusively breastfed. Those are words I never thought I’d say. After the struggle I had nursing Finn, I never thought my second baby would only eat from the boob!

Reese hasn’t taken a bottle yet, and I’m to blame. Here’s the thing – I pumped exclusively for Finn for eight long months. The thought of pumping milk is literally a nightmare for me. I haven’t taken my pump out in about two or three weeks, and I don’t intend to anytime soon. I know Reese needs to take a bottle, but right now, I love breastfeeding her! One, it’s so easy – there’s nothing to clean, nothing to carry around, nothing to measure. Second, it has created such a bond between her and I. And third, I kinda want her to stay my baby forever.

Things I Don’t Want to Forget

  • The way Reese looks at her daddy is absolutely heartwarming. She is attached to my hip, but when David is around, she smiles so big.
  • The way Finn likes to help with Reese. He “changes her diaper”, gives her kisses when she cries, and brings her his toys.
  • The way Reese scrunches her nose and sticks out her tongue when she wakes up and sees me over her crib. I’m one lucky mama.
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