Five Ways to Calm your Child Before Bed

Posted 05-7-2015 at 05:49 PM by Ellen

Do you find it challenging to get your child settled down to get to bed at night? Kids of all ages often find it difficult to “switch off” at the end of the day. Their days are so full that they need time to be able to wind down or they won’t be able to settle down and get the rest that they need.

Parents attempting to put a child to bed who simply is not ready to settle down will usually run up against a brick wall of non-cooperation. Your son or daughter will resist staying in his or her room and bedtime will eventually turn into a battleground.

Setting up a routine of calming activities before bedtime will help your child learn different strategies to settle down for the night. Here are a few ideas to help you end that inevitable and stressful battle of wills.


Children of toddler age and up can work on an age-appropriate puzzle before bed. Sitting down and thinking about where each piece should be placed forces them to slow down their movements and focus their attention on a quiet activity.

In the case of a younger child, a simple wooden puzzle is a good choice. Older kids can work on a more complicated puzzle that they may not be able to finish in an evening, giving them a feeling of anticipation for “puzzle time” every evening until it’s completed.

Audio books

Toddlers and kindergarten-aged children always enjoy listening to stories – it’s another way to help focus their minds in one direction – and this activity they can do with a minimum of help. Your local library will usually stock a variety of age-appropriate CDs that can be borrowed for a few days. This will keep the selection fresh and give your child something to look forward to at bedtime.

Do let your child have some say about choosing the titles you bring home; being part of the decision-making process will pique their interest in the stories before bedtime.

Quiet play with a favorite toy

Your child may just need a little extra time to settle down by playing with a special “bedtime” toy, such as a favorite stuffed animal, doll or car. Make sure the toy is something that can be played with quietly in order to avoid over stimulation.

Younger children love having a “cuddle buddy” in their bed or crib, but should not play with toys that sing or light up at bedtime. Your daughter may want to spend time with a favorite doll you can settle in next to her with her own “bedtime” blanket. If your little boy loves cars and trucks, help him make a special “road” mat out of cardboard that is to be used only before bed.


Reading is a great way to get kids of all ages settled down for the night. Even toddlers can learn to lull themselves to sleep by thumbing through a few of their favorite picture books. The act of focusing on the book helps calm even the busiest little mind.

Older children who are reading independently can have a special shelf where they keep books that are reserved for their quiet time before bed. Help your child choose books that hold an interest for them – whether it’s a popular series or books by a particular author. The important thing is to encourage an interest in reading at a young age and the time before bed is the perfect time to do so.

Keeping a journal

School-aged children can unwind by writing about their day in a journal. Unlike schoolwork, their journal should have no format, no formula and no restrictions. Allow them to “unload” their day into it every night – no matter if it includes drawings, writing or colorful stickers. Whatever is in there makes sense to your child. Be sure to have a number of pens, colored markers and notebooks on hand for your child to jot down whatever comes to mind.

Making the transition from the activities of the day to going to bed isn’t always easy for children. Allowing them some “quiet time” every night before bed will help them relax enough so getting settled down for the night will be a much easier process – especially if the routine is established when they’re very young. You’ll end up with a less stressful bedtime, which will only benefit the entire family.

Diaper Swapers

Looking Back At My Parenting Style Before Children

Posted 05-4-2015 at 09:09 AM by Matrivine


Do you know who can be the most critical of parenting? People who don’t have children. I’m sorry to say that I was no different. I would look at parents struggling with their children in private and public places. I would analyze their parenting style. And then I would wander off to future land where I would deal with my children in a more productive, less damaging and much more selfless way.

Yeah… I miss thinking I was going to revolutionize the art of parenting.  Now I’m a real parent to real children and much to my surprise I remember all those moments of judgement. While ashamed of my judgmental point of view, I’m glad I was paying attention. I needed some of the lessons these parents taught me.

The Good That Comes Of The Mommy Wars

Posted 04-30-2015 at 12:47 PM by Matrivine


I know. What good can come of war? What could all this social chaos and finger pointing lead to that would be beneficial? Well, the mommy wars may be a war of ideas, but it’s a war none the less, and war has a dark secret with a glimmer of hope. War is a catalyst for advancement and social change.

Technological Advancement

Like any war the mommy wars have resulted in technological advancement. Don’t believe me? We have baby monitors that have video as well as sound. We have five point buckling security in our car seats. We have created a safer crib, a safer bouncer, and ways to protect our children around the home.

Would any of this happened without the mommy wars? Perhaps, but the progress would have been slower. The pressure to have such items would not have been as severe. In reality our desire to be better parents have resulted in technological advancements by companies trying to cater to the grow “protect my child child” industry.

Goodbye Good Cop, Bad Cop Parenting

Posted 04-7-2015 at 12:47 PM by Matrivine

Parent Mother Child Discipline

Why Do I Always Have To Be The Bad Guy?

Imagine that you come home from work and have missed your family all day. Then the first thing you have to do when you get home is go up to junior’s room and straighten him out. It’s not fun for you and it teaches your child to lack respect for the babysitter or stay at home parent. It also associates your homecoming with a negative effect for your child. What can you do about it?

Discuss Discipline With Your Partner

The first thing you need to do is discuss what type of rules need to be instated with your spouse or babysitter. Discuss what type of discipline is appropriate in each situation and, in the case of the babysitter, when a parent should be handling discipline.

Bonding With a Difficult Baby

Posted 04-2-2015 at 12:39 PM by Matrivine

postpartum depression blog image

As excited as you are about the new addition to your family, you dread the wailing at night that comes with your bundle of joy. You find yourself wondering why you thought you could be a parent and worrying that you aren’t giving your little one the best mommy they could have. Sometimes you are even worried that you may not like your baby. As soon as you let yourself think that you feel guilty.

To the new mom out there that feels this way, you need to know that you are not alone. Your sleep is being constantly disrupted and your body healing and possibly even chasing after your new baby’s older siblings. Anyone would feel ill equipped to bond positively with a crying baby, but it can be done.

Time Out

Not for your little one. Take a time out for you. Almost every book or blog I have read on being a new parent says it’s okay to put the baby down in a safe place (like a carrier or a crib) and take a moment to breathe. Those five or ten minutes can help you clear your mind of the negative feelings and give your nerves time to un-knot.

The Eternal Prefold

Posted 03-30-2015 at 06:27 PM by Banana Cat


Prefolds have been around for quite some time. Before prefolds, flat diapers—squares of cotton that were folded and pinned onto baby—were the most common way of diapering in Europe and the United States. However, one issue with flats was the time needed to fold them into the proper shape and thickness for baby. Folding one flat is fast. Having to fold six to a dozen flats or more a day, every single day, for every diaper change for a year or more, easily tired out families who were already swamped with cooking every meal from scratch and hand washing the laundry.

In the 1950s, the prefold was invented when someone had the bright idea to pre-fold and sew together a flat diaper. The prefold still had to be pinned into place, but the more time-consuming part of folding all the layers together was no longer an issue. Although cloth diapers have gone through many more innovations in the last sixty-five years, prefolds are still extremely popular. Part of the reason is that they are still fairly cheap compared to other cloth diapers—really, only flat diapers are generally less expensive than cotton prefolds—and the traditional cotton prefold tends to last forever. Ok, not really forever, since cotton is a natural material that breaks down organically, but they tend to last far beyond their uses as diapers.

Slightly Unorthodox Children’s Room Décor Ideas

Posted 03-23-2015 at 04:58 PM by Banana Cat

We never really had a “theme” for either of our kids’ rooms—mostly because neither of them have ever had their own room. However, after my daughter turned 3 I caught her hammering a push pin into the wall with her toy hammer so she could hang up a photo of a tiger we took at the zoo. I realized that she was starting to want to express herself on her walls—who doesn’t?—but none of the mass-produced wall art at our local stores seemed to catch her attention. So we turned to some far less orthodox, but really fun, ways to decorate her side of the room.

Their Own Art


The tiger picture that started it all…and a heart she made in preschool.

Craft Tutorial: Poster Board Animal Wings

Posted 03-20-2015 at 06:37 PM by Banana Cat


Ok, I really forget why my daughter suddenly decided she needed wings. Not just any wings would do, either—they had to be bat wings. I reached under the bed for the plastic bin that serves as our very lame dress-up costume repository, only to discover that we had no wings at all. I’ll pick up a bunch of costumes at Goodwill for cheap after Halloween, I had thought but never actually followed through on. So instead we made some.

Are you in my exact same situation? Never fear! Whip up some animal wings at home really quickly, and you get the bonus of your child helping out, as well.


  • Poster board
  • Scissors
  • Decorative materials
  • String

Step One

The Confident Toddler

Posted 03-6-2015 at 09:06 PM by Matrivine

mother and toddler

No one wants their child to grow up feeling insecure. We want them to feel like they own the world. Confident children are more likely to create and use opportunities available to them. So, how do we build confidence in toddlers?


How do I feel about myself? Well, it seems that no matter how much I exercise or how healthy I eat I haven’t lost weight. I should wear makeup more often. I am not a fan of my skin and I hate my nose.

Imagine how surprised my two year old would be if I told him all that. To him I’m beautiful. I know because he tells me daily. Now imagine how he would feel if I told him everything wrong with me. Best case scenario he would feel mommy is sad and try to comfort me.

Worst case scenario is a much darker road to go down. The person he thinks is beautiful and perfect as she is has flaws. These flaws, she says, makes her not pretty. How many flaws does he have? What does he need to change about himself to be cute? Did he get mommy’s nose? Mommy is always saying she hopes he didn’t get her nose! What if he did?

The Bedtime Blues

Posted 03-5-2015 at 06:18 PM by Matrivine

Two Kids

Woe to the mother that tries to put young children to bed. This is particularly true of mothers putting multiple young children to bed. How do you keep them from ganging up on you? How do you keep them in bed? Here are a few tips.


Each child should have their own bedtime ritual. This means they have their own special songs, special blanket, and special stuffed animal. Have a spoken checklist of before bed activities. This could include prayers, turning on the night light, and getting a drink of water. Let each child know they are loved and safe. After the ritual of bedtime give them a kiss goodnight and walk out of the room.

Two In A Room

When children are young they often share a room. This means double the trouble at bedtime. They seem to have a tendency to feed off of each other in bedtime defiance. The trick to turn this pair into dueling snorers it by separating them as best you can.