How To Clean Dirty Shoes…The Easy Way

WAM cleanshoes

As I’m sure is the case with most kids, my 3 years old gets his shoes so dirty so fast. One day they look brand new, and the next day they look like they’re three years old too. I know he plays hard, but I also like him to look like we didn’t find his shoes in a dumpster.

The easiest and best way to clean the plastic part of shoes is by using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser! You may have heard this before, but it really does work. Try it. I took my son’s filthy Converse shoes and did a quick 5 minute job of scrubbing them late one night before he started preschool and they looked amazing! I could have spent a little more time getting in the grooves, but I actually didn’t care that much, so I didn’t. They looked good enough and by good enough I mean pretty darn good! Imagine how much better these shoes would have looked if I had thrown them in the washer first! On this pair I actually used the Mr. Clean Bathroom Magic Eraser because it’s what I had. They all work ridiculously really well!

WAMshoes

So, if you have a pair of shoes that are still in good condition, but are all dingy and dirty, pick up a Mr. Clean and give it a go! Any cleaning tips to share? Visit The Extraordinary Everyday Adventures of a Wife and Mom on Facebook!

*All opinions in this post are entirely my own. I have not received any compensation for this post. 

Breakfast Ideas for Kids

Now that my little guy has started preschool, we have a lot more going on in the mornings than before! It wouldn’t seem like it, but just knowing there is somewhere we have to be makes the whole morning seem a little more pressed for time. As we’ve been in a new routine, I’ve noticed myself getting bored of the same old things that I make my boys for breakfast. Plus, because most of the time, I end up eating whatever I am making for them, so then I get bored of a frozen waffle every day. Most of the time, I make my boys any combination of these:

frozen waffles
cheesy scrambled eggs
breakfast sausage
toast
fruit
those things that look like a corndog, but it’s a piece of sausage with a pancake around it (I don’t know why, but my 3 year old loves them.)

And thats it. Boring!

I need to try some new stuff! I found a great article on parenting.com about 15 on-the-go breakfasts for kids. Now, we don’t need them to be on-the-go, and I would never give a young child an open topped yogurt with nuts and honey to eat in anything that is moving, but the new ideas for breakfast are great! I wouldn’t even use them just for kids. They all look delicious.

How simple it can be! Homemade granola bars! Egg burritos (my kids LOVE burritos!), a bagel with cream cheese (duh, talk about easy!), so many good options! And along with every new idea, each one includes the whole recipe too! Score!

Check out these inspiring new recipes here!

It’s time to revamp breakfast!

A Jar of Mommy Kisses

WAM MommyKisses

In our house, Mommy kisses are pretty important. They can make an bump, scratch, bruise, or any other type of owie feel all better. Instantly. When I was leaving for 5 days without my little boys I knew I had to come up with something that would work in place of a real live Mommy kiss.

I decided to make a jar of Mommy kisses. I filled a mason jar with cotton balls and sat my 3 year old down to let him know how they would work. My husband and I had been telling him for a week or two that I was going to be going on vacation, so it wasn’t a surprise to him. We sat together and he watched me put a mommy kiss on each of the cotton balls. He decided he needed to add a kiss too, which made it even sweeter. Then, I told him that anytime he got hurt, missed me, or needed a Mommy kiss for any reason, all he had to do was get one of them and touch it to the spot where he needed the kiss. I also told him that when he uses a kiss it goes right back in the jar because thats where we keep the Mommy kisses and he can use it again. Really, this was only so he wouldn’t be taking them out and leaving them everywhere and driving my husband crazy with pulled apart cotton balls all over the house!

It’s not that Daddy kisses don’t work or aren’t good enough, it’s just that sometimes a little boy (or girl) just needs a Mommy kiss. I left knowing that there was a way I could comfort him even though I was on the other side of the country.

It worked like a charm and the jar still sits out in our kitchen. Occasionally, he’ll use it when he needs a Mommy kiss and I can’t do it right away, or if I’m not home. What an easy way to let your children know you’re there for them, when you might not be able to be there physically! You can use this for grandparents houses, military parents who might be deployed far away, send a little baggie of kisses to summer camp, wherever they might need a little kiss.

Any sweet things you do for your kiddos when you have to travel and can’t be with them? Leave them in the comments!

The Easy List of Chores Your Toddler Can and Should Do

WAMtoddlerchores

Most of the time, when a toddler wants to “help” the go to instinct is to roll our eyes and accept the fact that whatever we’re doing is going to take three times as long and still probably not be done correctly. This list of chores won’t get you out of the times when your tiny human will want to be your special helper, but it will give you some ideas of what your toddler CAN and SHOULD do at home!

I don’t like to give my toddler chores that have to be done in a certain way, such as folding laundry or “organizing” anything. Instead, I choose to give chores that can be completed easily and are truly a help to me!

1.  Clear the table after meals– Chances are, if you’ve got a toddler, you’re not usually eating on fancy China or beautiful and heavy ceramic dishes. Have your child carry their plate and silverware to the counter or sink and then come back for additional items. They can carry the salad bowl to the sink, put napkins in the trash, and even put condiment items back into the fridge. It really helps decrease the amount of trips I have to make clearing the table!

2.  Put away clean silverware– You probably want to take away the large knives, but otherwise, what a fun game it can be for your toddler to match where the spoons, forks, and butter knives go! Show them where wooden and serving spoons go too and just keep expanding the amount of items they are in charge of putting away.

3.  Clean up their toys– There are plenty of times during the day that I put away my childrens’ toys. I don’t think it’s realistic for toddlers to put everything away all the time, but I do think they need to help clean up toys before getting new ones out, before leaving the house, and before going to bed at night.

4. Wipe down the table and bathroom countertop– Give your child a wet rag or paper towel and give them the task of wiping down the table after a meal, the bathroom counter, or a coffee table they may play on. Even if you have to wipe the table after them, it’s still showing them that they will be responsible for cleaning the mess they made while eating.

5.  Put dirty clothes in their hamper– This shouldn’t really be considered a chore, but since most children tend to leave their clothes EVERYWHERE, it’s a good one to work on, even if it just means that YOU don’t go around the house and collect their dirty clothes, they do!

6.  Dust– Give a kid a feather duster and watch the excitement!

This list is what we try to have our toddler do fairly regularly. Of course, it doesn’t happen every single day, and most of them definitely do not happen without having to remind and tell him to them. I think that’s ok! It’s important that he begins to learn what is expected. Every time he does something automatially, I know it’s working!

I’d love to hear what you have your littles do for chores!

Muffles for Breakfast!

Have you ever had a muffle? Let me tell you, it’s quite possibly the easiest and most delicious breakfast you can make that looks like it took you a lot of time and effort.

Now, I’ll begin by saying that I’m completely OK with using quick and easy, prepackaged things. Ya, I make homemade things from scratch too, but there’s not always time or the desire to. These Betty Crocker muffin mixes are great because they require only water and some stirring. They come in different varieties such as blueberry, chocolate chip, and triple berry, which is what I used. Oh, and they’re inexpensive. We used 2 pouches and got 3 large waffles, so you almost need a pack per person.

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Grab a few bags of these babies, mix em up, and pour them into your waffle maker.  MUFFLES! They’re SO good and SO easy and I like them even better than making them into actual muffins. We ate them so quickly that I didn’t even stop to take a photo of how pretty they turned out!

Top with fresh berries, maybe some powdered sugar or whipped cream, and you’ve got an amazing breakfast that only took a few minutes! Plus, my toddler loves to help make waffles muffles in the Belgian waffle maker, so it’s fun and keeps him involved too! Ours is the kind that you get to flip over, so it’s pretty much the best thing in the world if you’re three years old. If you don’t have one, it’s not a bad thing to get. You can pick one up right at Walmart.

Enjoy your muffles!

*The opinions in this post are entirely my own and are not influenced or endorsed in any way by Betty Crocker or any products or stores mentioned. 

An Easy Game To Play With Your Toddler

WAM toddler game

In between playing with cars, trucks, planes, helicopters, 6 different firetrucks, and a variety of bouncy balls in varying sizes, I try to squeeze in a game that makes my little guy really think! I love his imagination games and I encourage him to be (most of the time) loud and all over the place, but I also love it when he sits, focuses, and learns new things. Today we played a seek-and-find type of game that requires no prep, no materials, and pretty much no effort! Sounds good right?

While sitting in our living room, I started to ask him to find different types of things around the room. Here’s some of the questions I asked…

Can you find something purple?
Can you find something soft?
Can you find something tall?
Can you find something hard?
Can you find something that’s a circle?
Can you find something skinny?
Can you find something tiny?
Can you find something really big?
Can you find something bumpy?
Can you find something that is really smooth?

You get the idea. You can use any colors or shapes, but I really enjoyed including words that may have been a little less known to him. It allowed us to have some great conversations and do some compare/contrast with opposites. The bumpy/smooth and tiny/really big were fun and I could keep asking him to find something even tinier than what he previously found! We had a great time and it took pretty much zero effort on my part!

Just think about how much fun this game would be in different rooms or places! The garage, backyard, in the car, at the grocery store, at a restaurant! And if your children are a little older, teach them how to play it together in more of an “I Spy” fashion and you just might get to sneak out of the room and go pee with no one looking for you!

Share one of your favorite quick games you like to play with your kiddos! I’d love to hear them!

The BINGO Game for Parents!

WAM Bingo

How many hilarious, annoying, and naughty things does a toddler do during the day? Now you can keep track with this BINGO game found on the Huffington Post! Check out the game by clicking here and see how long it takes you to win! Also, though it says the game is for ‘threenagers’- “a moody teenager trapped in the body of a cuddly 3-year old”, I’m sure this game would work for parents of any young children. Might as well make a game out of the times during the day when you want to rip your hair out! Maybe even reward yourself with something for winning! One bingo = one glass of wine? Black out that board and you buy a new purse or get a pedicure? Heaven knows you’ve earned it, momma!

How To Get Your Toddler To Clean Up Their Toys

WAM cleanuptoys

Do you struggle with getting your littles to clean up their toys? In our house, we try to always clean up toys at the end of the day. Yes, throughout the day we try to do the whole, “clean this up before we take out something else” thing, but by the end of the day, there’s always toys out. It’s not a big deal. Houses where children live should have toys out. Organized and neat, maybe contained in one area, but out. I feel like when someone walks into my home, it’s ok if they can tell we have children. Anyway, every night before bedtime we make sure the living room and bedrooms are cleaned up so when we wake up the next day we can start fresh again! But, sometimes it can be difficult to get a toddler to clean up their toys. Shocking news, right? It’s not that he’s not a good cleaner. It’s not that he doesn’t know how to pick up toys. It’s that doing everything else in the world except cleaning up toys is far more fun at that moment in time. Until he heard two new words…TOY EATERS.

One evening as we were coaxing my three year old to clean up, I casually said, “You don’t want the toy eaters to get them!”  His ears perked up and he followed up with a giggly, “What?”

I told him that when he’s asleep, the toy eaters come and they eat any toys that aren’t cleaned up and put away. The excitement (and small bit of real concern) of it had him diligently working on getting his toys cleaned up and he went to bed knowing that his toys were safe from the toy eaters! It was almost like he was a super hero saving his toys from being eaten.

We don’t say it every day, but when he’s having a particularly difficult time getting toys cleaned up, I just remind him about the toy eaters and it works again. Occasionally, he will even bring it up when we are cleaning. Oh, and if you’re sitting there thinking, “I don’t want to lie or use scare tactics to get my child to clean!” Really? Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Elf of the Shelf, the Easter Bunny, the list goes on and on. You say “lie”, I say “magic!”

*A few additional tips for getting toddlers to clean up…
1. Clean with them. If you are cleaning along side them, it helps them see a good example and they also see the job done quicker when everyone pitches in!
2. Be specific and verbalize exactly what they should clean next. If I tell my toddler to “clean up your toys” he doesn’t know where to start. If I am with him (see #1) and I tell him, “Ok, now pick up your fire truck and school bus and put them on the shelf.” He is focused on a specific task and he gets it done!
3. Make it a game! -Insert Mary Poppins singing A Spoonful of Sugar- But really, how can you make cleaning more fun? Any cart or wheel barrow that can be filled with toys is awesome! Just today, my little guy filled up his small plastic wheel barrow with his billion cars that were all over the living room and wheeled them to the bin where they belong! On his own!

Good luck getting your toddler to clean! And share any tips that work for you!

 

What I Wasn’t Prepared For When I Had A Second Child

WAM Second Child

I was never afraid of having two children. A two and a half year old is pretty independent and a newborn sleeps a lot, so I was ready to juggle two kids.  We had prepared ourselves for crazy situations that we knew would happen. For example, the first time we were driving somewhere with both boys screaming and crying from the backseat, Josh and I just turned to each other and laughed. And we did the same thing the first time both boys were peacefully sound asleep as we drove down the road as a family of four.

But as the weeks went by of having both of these little boys, I realized that there was something huge happening that no one prepared me for.

Their relationship with each other.

The bond they share and the complete adoration they have for each other brings me to tears every time. (It really helps remind me that women can be hormonal crazy people for at least a year postpartum.)

But seriously. The way a baby who is only a few months old can look at his big brother in such genuine awe is remarkable. The way a toddler turns into the most gentle little helper makes you so proud.

Every time I watch my boys together, my heart grows two sizes and I well up with a feeling that I can’t even describe. I know they’ll bicker, tease, and fight with each other as they grow. C’mon, they are boys after all! I can only imagine how many times I’ll say, “Stop hitting your brother!” But amidst all the craziness, I hope they will look out for each other, stand up for each other, and cherish each other and the bond they’ll always have as brothers.

P.S. I also wasn’t ready for potty training! So. Much. Pee.

What’s something you weren’t ready for when you had kids?

Favorite Apps for Kids

WAMAppsforkids

As much as I’d like to be the mom whose children don’t spend more than a few minutes a day watching TV or staring at an iPad, it’s just not always how it is.  Sometimes, as a mom, dad, or care giver, you just need some quiet, down time. Time to yourself, time to get dinner started, time to feed the baby, etc. and allowing my {almost} three year old to watch shows and play games on his iPad (yes, he has his own, go ahead and judge me) is easy. There are some days when “easy” is the best you can do.  Mason uses his iPad to practice his letters, numbers, fine motor skills, colors, shapes, to learn songs, animals,…a ton of great things. So when he watches Paw Patrol or Curious George, I have to know that’s OK too.

We go outside, we play with toys, we build forts, we get creative with art supplies, and we watch TV. It’s just part of what we do.

So, I decided to put together a list of our favorite apps for babies, toddlers, and children. Many are free, and some are not. I know these are all on the AppStore, but I can’t say if they’re on Android as well. You’ll have to let me know if you’re an Android user.

endless-reader-1-l-280x2801. and 2.  Endless Numbers and Endless Reader– These apps are great. Endless numbers works on number recognition, counting, fine motor skills as you child “catches” the number and drags it to where it belongs. It also incorporates addition. Endless Reader is the same format, but children become familiar with words and the letters that make up each word. They also incorporate sentence structure, not just isolated words. If I remember correctly, you can start off with a small amount of numbers for free, but then you have to purchase additional numbers. Definitely worth it though.

icon180x1803. Pretty much all of the Fisher Price apps – These are all free and awesome for babies and toddlers. They have storybook ones that include nursery rhymes such as Pat a Cake, Hickory Dickory Dock, The Animal Fair, Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Buckle My Shoe, and Itsy Bitsy Spider. They also have a counting one called “Let’s Count” that incorporate animals and their sounds as they cover the numbers 1-10. All of these apps also have fun bright colors and sounds to engage and peak the interest of babies and toddlers.

the-wheels-on-the-bus-100-l-280x2804. The Wheels On The Bus – This app has grown with us. You can listen to and sign along with the song, play a memory matching game, drive the bus on a racing type game, and more. At first I thought it was cheesy, but Mason has always enjoyed it and the fact that theres multiple things to do within it.

88x88xICON_Disney.png.pagespeed.ic.YiuVVfaRS85. Disney Junior Appisodes – This app is free, but you have to purchase any “appisodes” that you want to actually play. They have Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Doc McStuffins, etc. You are watching an episode, but it becomes interactive and your child gets to help the characters, click on stuff, and play little games as part of the episode. You can get the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally Appisode for free. Honestly, I think they’re too expensive, but they are fun. I have purchased one or two for Mason after we got iTunes gift cards, but they’re not something we purchase often.

These are just a few of our favorite apps, in addition to the regulars like Netflix and NickJr. Mason also watches anything that involves big trucks, buses, firetrucks, and trains. If you have boys and want to know more about our favorite truck apps and shows, just let me know.

Maybe the next time you’re stuck in the car or doctor’s office and your kiddos are trying really hard to be good, you’ll give one of these apps a try.  Share your favorites too! I’d love to hear what apps your children are loving right now!

*These opinions are entirely my own and were not sponsored in any way.