Saturday, October 29, 2011

Infant Potty Training Is Fun

One of the huge bonuses you get from practicing Infant Potty Training is the fun you'll have with your baby! Infants are by and large exhausting little bundles of joy, but there's something that's just so entertaining about a baby who poops on the toilet.

The typical baby poops between 8 and 10 times a day. If parents do the traditional diaper thing, more than likely they will argue with each other about whose turn it is to change the poopy mess. The occasion is rarely, if ever, met with enthusiasm or joy.

Compare that to a baby who signals his need for the toilet, and then poops on the toilet. I tell ya, it is a JOYFUL experience, each and every time it happens. Even after all my experience, I am always amazed when it happens. There's just something so fun about seeing a baby who seems tiny and helpless in so many ways take control over his body.

Babies also make some hilarious faces and sounds when they're going poop. If your baby is in diapers and making these faces and noises, they might seem funny, but there's also a sense of dread at what lies ahead. However, when your baby is doing it on the toilet, it's just good clean fun. Well, kinda. :)

To me, it's also a lot of fun to save money. And if you do Infant Potty Training, you're going to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars. So, come on, try it! It is fun.

Friday, October 28, 2011

To Homeschool, Or Not To Homeschool, That Is The Question

These days many more people are considering homeschooling their children. The reasons they choose to home school are varied. As a mom of a five year old, this is something I debate in my head constantly. I do not want to harm my children. I only want the best for them. But yet I can see possible harm in either choice. So today I'll lay out what I see as the benefits and risks of both choices.  

Actual Education
The first thing I think we have to ask ourselves is "Why do we send our children to school?" The main answer, in my opinion is, "To give them an opportunity to acquire knowledge in a variety of subjects so that they can become successful in life." There are other answers, and we'll get to those in a moment.

So far, homeschooling has produced outstanding results, compared with public schooling. Homeschooled students score 30-37 percentile points above their public school peers on standardized tests. Furthermore, while a big minority gap exists in public school test scores, the gap is basically gone among homeschoolers. This idea that homeschooled kids do not get a good education simply is not backed up with any data. For example, homeschoolers average higher college GPAs than their public/private school counterparts, from the first semester all the way until graduation. Home schoolers are also more likely to graduate college than their traditionally educated classmates.

Socialization
Many people will probably agree that homeschooling provides an obvious advantage on the education point, but where many have a problem is on the "social education" point. They would argue that home schooled children are too isolated. That they won't be able to function, socially speaking.

The idea is, kids need to be around other kids all the time in order to learn how to function in society. To keep them in the home all the time is to deprive them of social interaction, which is vitally important to a child's growth.  However, there are many flaws in this argument. Ask the vast majority of homeschoolers, and they'll tell you that they go on field trips, get to interact in the real world more often than those in traditional schools, and in general have an excellent social life.

Let's take this argument in a different direction. Which makes more sense? A child being directed in his everyday life and studies by his parents, or rather have him guided by children who are by and large immature? Teachers, for all the good they do, simply cannot substitute for parents. Furthermore, in what other situation in life (think job, church, other social gatherings) are you with a group of people who are exactly your age? You're not. Real life dictates that you constantly interact with people of varying age groups. As it turns out, homeschooled children actually are more active in their communities and a much larger percentage of them vote as well. (For statistics see this article)

Sheltering
This idea of sheltering goes hand in hand with the socialization argument. The argument is that if you home school your kid, you won't teach him opposing viewpoints. Some would accuse home schooling parents of giving their children a very one sided education.

First let me say, I believe the best thing you can do for any child is to give him all possible sides of the argument. But what's very interesting is that the same people who will accuse home school parents for teaching creationism, are not shouting from the rooftops that creationism needs to be taught in schools. In other words, public school instruction is, for the most part, extremely one sided, and those who agree with the one sidedness do not mind it being one sided. They only care if the one sidedness opposes their viewpoint. Science, as it is taught in schools today, has become much more like a dogmatic religion than it is actual science. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should watch Ben Stein's documentary "Expelled".


Again, while the danger does exist that a homeschooled child will not learn ever side to every argument, that doesn't disappear by putting him in a public school. In addition to that, parents can and do overprotect their kids, whether they put them in public, private, or home school.

So far, I've decided to homsechool my kids. In fact, I've already kind of started. Even though my son is only 5, he's able to read simple books, and he can do simple math. Not a bad start, I'd say.

If you have any comments or additional points to add which I didn't cover, please comment below!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How To Keep Your House Clean When You Have A New Baby

It's ironic. Even if you're not much of a neat freak before you have a baby, odds are you'll be much more paranoid about a dirty house when your little one arrives. The ironic part, of course, is that your life is much more hectic than it was pre-baby, and keeping your house clean is much harder. But there are some easy ways to get your house in order, and keep it that way.

A Load Of Laundry A Day
This is perhaps the hardest habit to get into. It's easy to let the laundry pile up and pile up until we are forced to tackle it, due to not having any clean underwear for the next day. A load of laundry a day is so simple to do, and when it is no longer an all-day neverending cycle of wash, dry, fold, and put away, you will stop procrastinating. And here's a bonus: you'll be so far ahead on laundry that you'll start looking around for things you haven't washed in a while (sheets, in my case), and you'll finally have the time to wash them.

Get Rid of Clutter
No matter how well you clean your house, or how often, if you have lots of clutter, your house is never going to feel clean. The less clutter you have, the easier it is to actually clean your house, and it also stays cleaner longer. It's a good idea to get rid of clutter with a new baby around, because if you're not organized, it's very easy to let your baby be around dangerous items (small or breakable things), without even realizing it. The best tip for decluttering? Ask yourself of each item in your house, "Do I LOVE this?" If you do, then keep it. If you don't, toss it. Don't let junk clutter up your life.

A Load of Dishes A Day
The average family has enough dishes to justify running the dishwasher at the end of each day. The key is to always unload the dishwasher first thing in the morning, load it throughout the day, and then start it after supper. If you do this, your kitchen will be a much cleaner place.

5, 10, or 15 Minute Increments, Working As Fast As Possible
Most people hate cleaning house. And so, they dawdle. They take all day to do a task that should take an hour. And then they hate it even more because it took up the whole day. To break yourself of this habit, give yourself a set amount of time to clean. Depending on how much you hate cleaning, you might try 5 minute sessions. During that session, work as fast as you possibly can. You will be shocked at how much you can get done, in a very short amount of time.



Follow The Ten Commandments
Zig Ziglar, in his book "Success For Dummies", provides some excellent tips on overall self-improvement and self-organization. If you have a chance, I'd highly recommend adding it to your personal library! Zig suggests that everyone in a household follow the Ten Commandments:
  1. If you open it, close it. 
  2. If you turn it on, turn it off. 
  3. If you unlock it, lock it up. 
  4. If you break it, admit it. 
  5. If you can’t fix it, call someone who can. 
  6. If you borrow it, return it. 
  7. If you value it, take care of it. 
  8. If you make a mess, clean it up. 
  9. If you move it, put it back.
  10. If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it. 
If you get into the habit of doing these things, your house will always be in relatively decent shape. Remember to nicely ask your spouse to get on board! If you would like to know even more about home organization and keeping your house clean, I highly recommend http://www.flylady.net/.

Do you have house cleaning tips? Please share them below!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Five Ways To Save Lots of Money on Baby's First Year

Everyone always talks about how expensive it is to raise a baby, and with good reason. The estimated cost for baby's first year is around $10,000. For most people, that's a lot of money. Fortunately, there are several easy things you can do to make having a baby a whole lot cheaper!

Daycare
The biggest chunk of money is spent on daycare. A lot of moms had jobs before children, and assume they'll need to keep that job in order to keep the family afloat, financially. However, if you put pen to paper, you might realize that if you stay home with the baby, your family can make it on a single income. Conversely, you can look into finding a stay at home job. If you don't like those two options, you could find a job that offers flexible hours and work when your spouse is at home. If you keep an open mind, there's a good chance you won't need daycare.

Breastfeed
Breastmilk is by far the best thing for your baby. Ironically, many moms don't even try it because they feel like they need to go back to their job after having the baby, which they might not even need to do if they would cut baby expenses to the bone. The problem is, formula is really expensive. Like, $100 or more a month expensive. I know it's challenging, especially if you're like me and you're not from a family of breastfeeders. Do your homework while you're pregnant, and be sure to talk to people who have successfully breastfed their children. Do not spend your time talking to people who didn't get the hang of breastfeeding. It will discourage you, and it might even keep you from trying. When you want to succeed at something, it's always best to surround yourself with successful people, and breastfeeding is no exception.

Infant Potty Training
Of course, you knew this one was coming. You can save thousands over the course of each child's life by practicing Infant Potty Training. Not only will you save a ton by not having to buy diapers constantly, but you'll also save time and gas money because "diaper runs" won't be necessary. This blog is a great place to start, and I'm always happy to answer any questions! Check out these books for even more information and perspectives: Infant Potty Training Books

Ditch the Baby Food
Yeah, you heard me. Baby food is a ripoff. Let's do some math. Say you buy a 4 oz jar of Gerber Carrots for $1.19 at Walgreens. That's 29 cents per ounce. That comes out to $4.64 per pound of carrots! That's ridiculous! What's worse is the stuff tastes like dirt. Lest we forget, Gerber hasn't always been around. So, what's an alternative approach? You could make your own. And that'd be great! Except, most moms really can't find the time to do that. What do I recommend? Simply let your baby eat the stuff you're eating. (Caution: You may start eating healthier when you realize that your baby is going to eat what you're eating!) Of course, use common sense. I let my babies eat grown up food cut up into small bites and now as a 5 year old and a 2 year old, I have the best eaters around! They'll eat all the different fruits and veggies and meats. They're by no means picky!

Go Sale-ing (Yard Saleing, that is)
The last real expense is all the clothes and baby paraphernalia. Yard sales and kids consignment sales are your best friend. You'll be shocked at just how much you can find, at extremely low prices. Heck, a lot of the stuff is hardly even used! Join Yahoo groups like Freecycle, where people routinely give away big bags of baby clothes. It's very easy to keep your baby clothed that first year. Bonus tip: don't buy many (if any) 0-3 sizes. It's better just to get 3-6 months and let it be a little bit big on your baby.

There are some things that you'll want to buy new. Remember that you'll receive gifts at the baby shower and from friends and family. Create a registry and put that in your invitations. People are more than happy to buy what's on the list! Be wise about what you put on there. The most expensive items are the carseat/stroller combo, a crib or Co-Sleeper, and a baby swing. Put these on your registry. Many times a few people will go in together on an item, so don't be afraid of asking for something with a high price tag.

When you do buy new clothes, try to get the most bang for your buck. Don't get designer clothes that are going to get spit up on them immediately. Go for bulk packs of shirts or onesies. Your baby will still be just as cute!

So there you have it! Five excellent ways to save money on your baby's first year (and beyond!) If you have any baby related money saving tips, please share them in the comments section!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Diaper Graduation During Infant Potty Training

One important thing to remember when you're practicing Infant Potty Training is that to get to "graduation day" in the shortest amount of time, you're going to have to get out of that comfort zone.

When you start IPT, you'll definitely be stepping out of your comfort zone. Unfortunately, infant potty training isn't the norm (yet!), and it takes some courage to step out and do something different. The key is to keep advancing toward your goal, which is having a baby who uses the potty consistently with very few to no misses. (Do not misunderstand, this is not demanding perfection from your child when she's 2 days old! It's a process!)

The biggest challenge for you, more than likely, will be diaper graduation. Each time you step down, from disposable to cloth, from cloth to training pants, or from training pants to regular underwear, you're going to face the being out of your comfort zone. There are two possible scenarios:

A) You stay in your comfort zone, with your baby in disposable diapers until "he's ready" to move into cloth. He keeps having a few misses, and you keep putting it off. Eventually you get really frustrated because he's not making any progress toward the goal of being completely potty trained.

B) You step out of your comfort zone. Your baby has a few misses every now and again, but you take off the disposable diapers anyway and put him in cloth diapers. Suddenly, you don't have nearly as many misses! You get a little more confident and think to yourself, if he improved that much by moving to cloth, then let's try cloth trainers! And then let's try regular undies! He's trained! Whooo hooo!


The worst thing you can do, however, is go from Disposable diapers and then "graduate" into Disposable Pull Ups and then wonder why your child isn't progressing. Both products do their job really well: they keep your baby feeling nice and dry. On the other hand, graduating him down into cloth trainers or undies makes him very aware of miss. Granted, cleaning up misses are not fun, but if your kid is going to learn how and why we use a toilet, he's going to need this awareness. Luckily, most kids are quick learners, and it only takes a few misses before they get it.

Here is a quick guide of my suggested timeline for diaper graduation:

Birth-1-2 weeks old: Disposables (Mainly until Mommy is feeling recovered)

2 weeks - 2 or 3 months old: Cloth diapers

3 months - 6 months: Cloth trainers

6+ months: Regular undies

Of course, you can tailor this time line to suit your needs/comfort level. You can even graduate down into undies more quickly, if you want.

Some people have asked me where I find undies that tiny! Well, sometimes you can find training pants size 18 months at Wal-Mart. A quicker, easier option is to simply buy them from Amazon using this link:




Don't worry. Size 18 month trainers actually fit a much smaller baby (around a few months old, in my kids' cases. And you can move on up to size 2T in regular undies way before their second birthday.

Remember: if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Are We Teaching Our Kids To Be Wimps? Part 2

In my last post, I went on a bit of a rant about how we are not helping kids when we reward mediocrity and punish success. And wouldn't you know it, I saw this story yesterday that is a shining example of just how screwed up we are in America (and especially in the public school system). Here's the video:

Boy Banned From Scoring Touchdowns


So, what is the school teaching the kids by enacting this rule? One, it teaches the kids who aren't as good as Demias that in life, instead of practicing and getting better, the government should punish the ones who are excelling so that we "level the playing field." This rule punishes excellence and rewards mediocrity.

And what does it say to Demias? It says, hey kid, you're doing too good. You shouldn't succeed so much. For a lot of kids, this would be a big de-motivator. In an effort to get more playing time (which is why kids play sports to begin with), many kids would get the message and lower themselves to mediocrity to please the powers that be. Luckily, Demias isn't listening. He knows that next year he can score as much as he wants, which will probably be a lot.

Sports teach kids a lot about life, and a lot about our wonderful free market system. It says (when it's not tampered with by bureaucrats) "practice hard, play well, and your efforts will be rewarded", and "don't put any effort in, don't try hard, and you will lose, and losing stinks." But instead, when the government run schools get involved, we see that the message is now, "Everyone be mediocre, that way no one's feelings get hurt." What a horrible message to send to this generation of kids.