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My winter weekday and weekend morning routines

Busy mom of four morning routines by Nesting Story

As a mom of four (and a puppy) my morning routines are constantly evolving. Whether it’s my twin toddlers waking up earlier, kids with colds, or needing to taking our puppy out to pee, there always seems to be something disrupting my morning rhythm. Until lately.

Recently, despite all of the above, I seem to have found my groove in the morning. I have been consistently setting my alarm clock in the morning, and getting myself going before the rest of the family.

I wanted to share with you what my current winter weekend morning routine looks like. The meltdowns, the wins and everything in between.

Morning routines during the week…

Busy mom of four morning routines by Nesting Story

and on the weekend.

Busy mom of four morning routines by Nesting Story

Join me and be a fly on the wall in my home in the mornings.

I’d love to know, what does your morning routine look like?

Valentine’s Day gift guide for the expecting mom, new mom and the kids

By Carly Viger and Joanna Venditti

Love is in the air and it’s time to tell someone you love just how much they mean to you. But what do we really want? What would your kids love? Do you even buy your kids Valentines gifts, or is it your time to be pampered? Here are some gift ideas that I am sure will spread the love this Valentines Day.

For the Expecting Mom

1. Sweets/Chocolates
Is the mommy-to-be craving anything in particular?
You can’t go wrong with the gift of food for an expecting Mom. The classic heart shaped box of chocolates is the best option, and the bigger, the better! Who wouldn’t love some delicious truffles from Godiva?

2. Comfy Maternity Clothes
The Expecting Mom may have started to outgrow her favorite pre-baby clothes, so some new maternity clothes would be a great gift idea. Maybe a cute dress or blouse for a night out? Or better yet, some pajamas or loungewear for her to relax (or nap) in. I love this bright red trendy top from A Pea in the Pod, it’s perfect for a Valentine’s Day dinner date before the baby arrives.

3. A Pedicure
Baby coming soon? Has it been awhile since mommy has seen her toes? They probably need some TLC, so a pedicure would surely be a great Valentine’s Day gift. If a trip to the spa isn’t manageable, then a nice set of nail polishes like these from Nails Inc. would work wonders. These gel polishes are enriched with coconut water for hydration, and they create a flawless and glossy finish just like at the spa. And to make the gift even more special, maybe Dad can offer to paint her toenails for her?

For the New Mom

4. Pampering
A new mom deserves some pampering. Whether it’s her first or fourth child, she is giving everything she has to her new baby and maybe she’s neglected herself along the way. Show her that she’s important too with a little something special. Fab Fit Fun boxes are a great way spoil her. You can purchase a subscription so she receives a new box of personalized items every month/season.

5. Jewellery
Why not have a piece of jewellery engraved with the new little bundles name? These stacking rings from LetterbyLinda on Etsy.com are a sweet and sentimental idea sure to make Mommy very happy.

6. Cleaning Service
New Moms are busy dealing with sleepless nights, diaper changes, pumping, bottle feeding, sleep training, etc, etc, etc. Maybe the housework is a lower priority now? The gift of a house cleaning service would be much appreciated, whether it be a one-time deep cleaning or even better, regular scheduled visits! Give Mom the gift of time with her new little love by taking some things off her to-do list.

For the New Baby

7. Cute Clothes
Who can resist a sweet little baby dressed up for Valentine’s Day!? Dress your little one in something cute and comfy, like one of these outfits from Gymboree.

Baby True Red Stripe Set by Gymboree

Baby Ivory Mommy Set by Gymboree

8. Books
Books are perfect way to bond with a new baby, and to teach them language, colour, and feelings. For your little one’s first Valentine’s Day, you can gift them a classic board book and write a special message inside the cover for them to cherish when they’re older. Here are some favorites:
Read your little Love Bug a story from the classic character The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

9. Or enjoy the bestselling book “I Love You Through and Through” while your little one cuddles the plush bear that comes with this set.

10. Stuffed Animal
For Baby’s first Valentine’s Day, a soft and cuddly new friend is a perfect gift. Jellycat toys are soft and warm, perfect for little ones to snuggle. You can choose from many different animals including dogs, cats, dinosaurs, hippos and elephants. The adorable Bashful Bunny is available in a variety of colours, including this bright Strawberry pink which is perfect for your little Valentine.

11. Blankets and Accessories
A blanket is a classic and versatile item, perfect for a little one. Mom will use it now as a swaddle, burp cloth and stroller cover, and baby will use it as a toy and comfort item as they grow older. Aden & Anais make beautiful muslin swaddle blankets that are light and airy, bibs that are super soft, and sleep sacks that are perfect for bedtime. The classic Heart Breaker print is perfect for Valentine’s Day and is available in a number of items, including the Dream Blanket.

For a Toddler/Preschooler

12. A Dress
Little girls love to spin and twirl, so this adorable heart print dress with a pleated dress from Joe Fresh is perfect. Need something a little less girly and a little more suited for playtime? The same heart print design is available in leggings, rain boots and a super cute peplum t-shirt.

13. Toys
Toddlers are all about moving, exploring and making noise. This Red Race Car by Green Toys is a fun way to encourage the development of your child’s motor skills while playing. It’s safe for little hands with plastic parts made from recycled materials. And the bright red colour is sure to excite your little one.

14. Books
A new book to read together would be a great way to spend some time cuddling your busy toddler and teach them about love and kindness. Love Monster by Rachel Bright is a cute and funny story they will surely love.

For School-aged Kids

15. Accessories
Maybe she’s a budding fashionista? Now that she’s a little older, with friends at school and a style of her own, some new accessories would make a great gift. H&M has this cute little “LOVE” purse, which would be perfect even after Valentine’s Day.

16. T Shirts
Maybe now that they’re older they aren’t as keen on Valentine’s Day. Funny t-shirts are a great way to give them a themed gift. What kid doesn’t love pizza? This “Pizza is my Valentine” shirt would be a great way to get a laugh out of your little guy, his friends, and probably even his teachers.

17. Games
Maybe the days of romantic Valentine’s dates with your spouse are on pause, at least during this phase of life. Now that you’re a family, this day of love can still be spent having fun together-in a different way. Why not buy a new board game to play with the kids? This game of Speak Out Kids Vs. Parents would be an great way to spend an night in. It’s sure to make your kids laugh (and even you), there are categories for parents as well as for kids, and can work for up to 10 players.

5 Tips on how to create a routine for your family – Part two of a two part series

Twin toddlers routine

This post was created in partnership with Kids & Company.

Read part one of this series here.

Creating a routine came out of necessity when I first became a mom. I was a new stay-at-home mom, and the routine-less life was starting to get to me. In fact, there were days that my husband would come home from work and I’d be anxiously pacing the halls.

I truly believe that some people thrive off of constantly switching it up and living life freely. Others need a set routine to feel grounded and happy. I am a routine person, through and through.

So when I was finding myself floundering as a routine-free mom, I knew I needed to make some big changes. Over the years I have found ways to create a routine for myself when a job outside of my home wasn’t doing it for me.

Today I am a full-time, work-at-home mom, which leaves my daily routine’s structure up to me. Having childcare has been a huge game-changer for my routine, as well as some other tricks on how to create a routine I have learned along the way…

1.Set your alarm. This may sound like a no-brainer, but not having a job outside my home makes it very tempting to sleep in and race around just before sending my kids to school and Kids & Company (child care and early learning). Before my kids were in school it was even harder setting an alarm and sticking to it.

The days I actually do set my alarm and stick to it are typically great days. I am able to eat breakfast before my kids, feel more in control of my day and tend to have more patience. When do I wake up? I find 6:00 A.M. is the sweet spot… one hour before my family wakes up.

2. Use an agenda. I don’t know what I’d do without my agenda. I’m talking about an old-school paper and pen agenda. Everything from our four kids’ appointments to work deadlines and weekly meal planning goes in there.

On the days that I feel a little anxious about what is on my plate, just sitting in front my agenda book and planning right down to the detail, makes my stress melt away.

3. Embrace a to-do list. My to-do lists go hand-in-hand with my agenda. What I do is write a list each week full of must-dos and back-burner items (you know, those tasks that aren’t urgent, but hanging over your head), which include deadlines, shopping lists, chores… you name it. Then each week I hack away as best I can.

Some weeks I cross off my entire list and others I am just able to get the mandatory tasks done. On the weeks that I haven’t tackled my back-burner items, I carry them over to the next week and try again.

4. Keep track of how you feel during different times of the day. Something I learned when I first created my own routine was how much more efficient I am in the morning than in the afternoon. In fact, most days I have to stop and have a little rest right after lunch.

Tuning into how I felt each day has helped me manage my energy levels and workload. I tackle big projects, must-dos and deadlines in the morning, and then leave my back-burner items until after lunch. So on those days that I am dragging my heels because I have been up all night with a sick kid, I can take the afternoon off, (well, as “off” as you can when you have a sick child at home).

5. Do laundry on the weekend. Can I tell you a secret? I don’t hate doing laundry. I know, I know, am I even human? Don’t worry, I detest doing dishes. But when it comes to laundry, I always schedule around it on the weekends. Being so protective of my “laundry time” on the weekend has dramatically changed my relationship with this weekly chore.

Every Saturday we (and I say we because my husband helps) wash all of our kids’ laundry and on Sunday afternoons I fold it. Because I have built my laundry-folding marathon into each Sunday afternoon, my kids expect it and I make it as pleasant as possible, while watching a movie on my iPad.

Whether a stay-at-home mom, a work-outside- the-home mom, or a work-at-home mom, routines can not only change your mood and help you complete your to-do list, it can help you complete more each week than you thought possible and even love some weekly tasks more than ever before.

Finding a childcare that not only gives me time to build my career, but that my kids also love, has been such a wonderful aspect to having more of a work/life balance. Kids & Company has the flexibility I need with my schedule, but also the unique programming, learning opportunities, from-scratch meals and sense of community they provide fills me with such confidence in my choice in childcare.

With locations all across Canada, Kids & Company is a high-quality care and early development centre that parents can trust and kids will love. It started under the leadership of two moms (one with 8 children!), who felt there was a need for flexible care options in a setting with amazing teachers, community, proven development programs and an understanding of today’s families.

Whether it’s their Grab ‘n’Go snacks, parent workshops, or their complimentary care for date nights and shopping days outside of regular hours, nothing has been forgotten.

Here’s where it gets exciting… right now Kids and Company is waiving the registration fee (a $150 value) for Nesting Story readers! Just email amcnaught@kidsandcompany.com to access this exclusive offer.
One waved registration per family for a newly registering child before December 31, 2018. Subject to availability.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kids & Company. While compensation was provided, all opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the opinions of Kids & Company.

5 Reasons why having a routine is so good for our family – Part one of a two part series

kids routine

This post was created in partnership with Kids & Company.

Routine. It’s the holy grail of motherhood. At least in my eyes it is. Routine for me was something that I found during a low point as a stay-at-home, first time mom. When your kids are in school, or you work outside of your home, a routine tends to be born out of necessity. But as a stay-at-home mom, or a work-from-home mom, (which I currently am), creating a routine and sticking to it must be an intentional decision.

Sticking to a routine is not only something that our family of six benefits from, but I do as well. Having our twins in daycare at Kids and Company has been a game changer for rounding out our family’s routine. Here are five reasons why…

1. Our kids are happier. All kids are different and thrive off of different environments and schedules. I’m not sure if it depends on their parents, or just how they are. But from very early on, when our first child, Holden was just over a year old, I realized that he craved a routine. It was at this time, while exhausted and pregnant with our second child, that I started putting Holden into part-time daycare. Using those few three hour breaks a week I created a daily schedule for our family and our kids thrived.
Today our kids thrive on routine. They are generally happier on weekdays when we have a strict routine. It’s predictable, it’s segmented, and it’s exactly what our kids need.

2. Easier to parent four kids. Four kids is a lot of kids. Jumping from two to four kids when we had our twins was a big transition for our whole family. One thing that I have found helps is doing daily tasks in large quantities. Snacks, meals, baths, getting dressed and brushing teeth, are each less time consuming and easier to remember to do when everyone does it at once and at the same time each day.

3. There are fewer complaints. When you do many of the same tasks every day around the same time, everyone becomes accustomed to it and there is very little push back. On weekdays, after breakfast when I ask our kids to go get dressed, there is rarely a complaint. But on weekends, when we’ve slept in a little and had a slower morning, the moment I ask our kids to switch gears and get themselves dressed I hear excuses and complaining. I have often implemented a routine on holidays and seasonal breaks from school just to avoid this problem.

4. Helps control my weight. Having a routine makes it much easier to keep track of what and how much I am eating. Having a schedule leaves room for meal planning, which I try to take full advantage of. Also, I find I am more likely to work out regularly if I choose a specific time each day and stick to it.

5. I am happier. I am. I thrive on a routine. I was raised on a routine and I come from a long line of routine-driven people. It’s in my blood. When I stick to a routine I feel happier, clearer, more levelheaded, more ambitious and more energetic. What more could I ask for?

Finding a childcare that not only gives me time to build my career, but that my kids also love, has been such a wonderful aspect to having more of a work/life balance. Kids & Company not only has the flexibility I have needed with my unique schedule, but the incredible fresh, from-scratch meals they provide for my kids each day (which they actually eat), fills me with such confidence with my choice in childcare.

With locations all across Canada, Kids & Company is a high-quality childcare and early development centre that parents can trust and kids will love. It started under the leadership of two moms (one with 8 children!), who felt there was a need for flexible care options in a setting with amazing teachers, community, proven development programs and an understanding of today’s families.

Whether it’s their Grab ‘n’Go snacks, parent workshops, or their complimentary care for date nights and shopping days outside of regular hours, no detail has been forgotten.

Here’s where it gets exciting… right now Kids and Company is waiving the registration fee (a $150 value) for Nesting Story readers! Just email amcnaught@kidsandcompany.com to access this exclusive offer.
One waved registration per family for a newly registering child before December 31, 2018. Subject to availability.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kids & Company. While compensation was provided, all opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the opinions of Kids & Company.

I won’t let winter swallow me

What is the temperature where you live? Here, just outside of Toronto its the kind of cold that the air hurts your face. I barely venture outside, and even driving somewhere makes me groan. But I am refusing to let winter take me down with it.

Last week I wrote a post about how I was actually enjoying Christmas break. In fact the next day when I re-read it I annoyed myself. Because the next day I unravelled. Actually I unravelled the day after that too. I hit my wall, because doing multiple activities a day with my family left zero time for my introverted side to go into a quiet place and recharge. I was burnt out, peopled out and just done.

I didn’t cry though, which is a big improvement. I more just started stressing audibly about messes in our home and saying loudly, “I need school to start.”

Actually, random fact… I learned last week from my lovely husband that apparently I talk to myself… all the time. According to him I narrate my day. A habit I am assuming I picked up over the past couple years of working from home with kids in school and daycare.

So when Mike would yell, “pardon?” every five minutes from the other room and I had to yell back, “I wasn’t talking to you!” It didn’t help my fraying nerves.

Last year the winter won. I always start fighting seasonal depression each fall, but between having a bad case of strep throat in January of 2017 and immersing myself in the red hot political world of news, I fell into a black hole of despair. It took me a couple months and some big changes to pull myself out, but I finally did.

So by the end of the day on Saturday I had a choice to make. Was I going to let the winter swallow me like it did last year? No I wouldn’t allow it.

So what I am I doing about it? I am taking control. On Sunday I put my foot down and slowed down. I sent my family out of the house and enjoyed three hours of silence. I am still standing up for what works for me.

But the two biggest things of all…

I am hanging onto a routine while life is routine-less. That means setting my alarm for 6:45pm and doing our typical routine to get our twins to daycare, despite our big kids still being off for the holidays. And I am hanging onto my typical grocery shopping and meal planning routines.

I am being careful about what I watch and consume. Whether it’s a disturbing movie, the news, or even too much crappy food. I know that it is tempting to let it all in when you are mostly homebound, but I have finally learned that all of those things have a big impact on my mental state.

How do you feel this time of year? Is there a certain time of year that triggers you? Do you have any tips on how to beat the winter blues?

Here is a look back at some of our family’s summer routine  videos that I created for Baby Center. Maybe we can all take a little motivation from these routines.