Radon Gas: Your Home’s Silent Killer

I received the guest post below from BJ, ‘lil Burghers fan and
head radon professional at Home Radon Pros. He asked if he could share some information regarding the dangers of 
radon gas and the harmful effects it has on families in the Pittsburgh area. Although this post is contains sponsored content, I was interested in sharing this important message with you. All opinions are that of the author.

radon pros

Everyone puts their family’s health as a top priority in their lives. From dieting to exercising, we take many precautions to ensure we can live a long healthy life. Take a look in your home, you probably have multiple smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in order to alert your family of these potential dangers. You probably preach to your older children that drunk driving is dangerous and remind them to be smart and safe when consuming alcohol. But I would bet that you haven’t had your home tested for the number one danger in a home that kills more each year than house fires, carbon monoxide, and drunk driving combined. This danger is an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas called radon. A gas deemed by the surgeon general as a “class A carcinogen” that kills 21,000 people every year. That is one person every 25 minutes in the United States. As the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US, next to cigarette smoking, it is something that you should be concerned about for you and your family’s well-being.

What is Radon and Is My Family Affected?

Radon gas comes from the breakdown of uranium in the soil. It enters your home through small cracks in your basement and travels throughout the rest of your home. Radon is present everywhere, but becomes threatening when it gets trapped in small spaces. As the gas seeps into your basement, the gas condenses putting more particles in a smaller space. Not all homes have high levels, but for us living in Pittsburgh, PA, we have a higher chance of high radon levels in our homes. In fact, 40% of all Pittsburgh homes have radon levels higher than the EPA recommended action level

You or the previous homeowner may have had radon testing conducted in your home when you first moved in, but this doesn’t mean that your levels haven’t changed. Radon levels in your home are constantly changing due to factors such as; changes in the soil conditions beneath your house, home renovations, and weather changes. This means the radon test you had 10 years ago when you first moved in, is far from accurate.

What Can I Do To Keep My Family Safe?

Knowing your homes radon levels, and the health impact it is having on you and your family, is the first step in the direction of keeping your family healthy. Radon testing can be done by radon professionals in a few short days. This will either give you the peace of mind that your home is safe from radon, or give you the direction that you should have a radon system implemented into your home to remove the radon. Both radon testing and radon removal are quick and affordable processes that will not compromise the beauty of your house. The only way to truly know if you and your family are in danger of radon gas, is to have a radon test conducted in your home. The longer you wait, the longer you and your loved ones are exposed to this deadly gas, which puts you all at a greater risk for developing lung cancer.

Home Radon Pros is a Pittsburgh company that focuses on educating families on the dangers of radon gas. We want families in our local communities to be healthy and protected from something that they may not even realize is slowly harming them. We recommend that everyone has their house tested, at least once a year, to ensure that radon gas in your home is not putting your family at risk. Testing is the first step, don’t let you or your family be a statistic in the ever growing number of radon related deaths every year. Call us today at 412-584-0799 to schedule a radon test for $159.99: a small price to pay for the well-being of you and your loved ones. You can also found out more information on our website at www.homeradonpros.com. Mention the ‘lil Burghers blog for $10 off radon testing in your home.

Babies & Bumps 2018 – Cranberry Parenting/Baby Convention

Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Babies & Bumps, a Parenting/Baby Convention coming to Pittsburgh in 2018. All opinions are 100% my own.

On April 14, Pittsburgh will be welcoming Babies & Bumps for their fourth event for Pittsburgh parents with babies and bumps. The event will give parents time to get support and resources as you navigate the parenting life.

Babies & Bumps 2018 – Cranberry

Parenting is an amazing journey, but like anything, it helps to feel confident in what you’re doing. That’s why I am excited that Babies & Bumps is coming to Pittsburgh this spring – they are a premier convention geared toward new and soon-to-be parents that covers all questions about what to expect on the parenting journey. Bonus – they bring in local resources for demonstrations, seminars, Q&A’s, and more – so you leave with a network for local places and people to turn to. It is not just for the moms – dads can come, too!

Babies & Bumps will feature exhibitors and vendors such as pediatricians, infant development experts, prenatal and pediatric chiropractors, baby boutiques, and more! With topics like babywearing, what to expect as baby develops, peer groups, and early childhood education, there is something for everyone. Some of the things I wish I’d known about before having the kids was chiropractic care (for mom and baby) or how to spot issues before they develop will be covered during the event, too.

To see a little bit of what happens at the event, check out this video overview:

Babies & Bumps is sharing details from some of their vendors on their Facebook event page, so check it out for more info.

Babies & Bumps 2018 – The Details

When: April 14, 2018 10 AM – 2 PM

Where: Pittsburgh Marriot North (Cranberry, PA)

Cost: All-access tickets are regularly $25 for individuals and $35 for pairs, and include a gift bag; a limited quantity of $15 tickets are available through March 20 or until sold out. – Purchase tickets here

Website: Babies & Bumps – Pittsburgh North

Social: Facebook | Instagram

Please note – the event is for adults; however, babies in slings/carriers are welcome and a mothers’ room will be available for pumping. The space cannot accommodate strollers at the event.

Ticket Giveaway

If you’re interested in attending, let me help sweeten the deal! We are giving away a pair of tickets for the April 14 Babies & Bumps event! The giveaway runs through March 26, 2018 at 11:59 PM ET. Good luck!

Pair of Tickets: April 14 Babies & Bumps Pittsburgh North

Pennsylvania Families and Paid Parental Leave

It’s been three years since I was anxiously preparing for how things would go when I went on maternity leave, including stashing away some extra money since almost half of it was going to be unpaid for me and two weeks unpaid parental leave for Greg.

Our Experience: Parental Leave

After having Arianna, I got six all too quick unpaid weeks off then headed back to work. With Evan, I took eight weeks and felt a bit better physically and mentally – but admittedly I cashed in a retirement plan in order to make ends meet. Once we had the twins, it was 11 weeks off due to complications post c-section and postpartum anxiety. Part of that was brought on by my feelings of being out of financial control for so long!

Even though we’re not preparing for any more parental leave, this article came across my radar this week and I feel it’s super important to talk about! Once you’ve read, head to the comments section and tell us about your parental leave experiences. 

Pennsylvania Analysis Shows the State’s Workers and Families Urgently Need a National Paid Leave Program

A National Paid Family and Medical Leave Plan Could Reduce by 83 Percent* the Number of Pennsylvania Families Facing Economic Insecurity When They Need Time to Care

An analysis of demographic data in Pennsylvania released today reveals the significant and growing need for a national paid family and medical leave plan that covers all working people in the state for the full range of serious caregiving and medical reasons. The release kicks off a series of nationwide activities marking next Monday’s 25th anniversary of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides unpaid leave. Across the country, working people, businesses, lawmakers, advocates and others will come together on the ground and online to celebrate the law’s progress, recognize state and private sector innovations and call for a national paid family and medical leave policy that advances the movement for more equitable and family friendly workplaces.

The new analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families. The full set of findings for Pennsylvania is available here. Similar findings for all 50 states and the District of Columbia can be found at NationalPartnership.org/PaidLeaveMeansMap.

“Twenty-five years after the FMLA was signed into law, it is past time to take the next step by ensuring paid leave for all working people,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership, which drafted and led the fight for the FMLA. “The FMLA has transformed our workplaces and culture in tremendously positive ways, but these data show that unpaid leave is inaccessible for too many people. Working people and families are caught between the demands of their jobs and their families, and as a result, our economy and businesses are not reaching their full potential.”

The Pennsylvania analysis sheds light on why the failure of policymakers and the private sector to guarantee paid family and medical leave is causing people in the state to experience conflicts between their jobs and their families. For example, women, and especially women of color, are key breadwinners for their families while also continuing to be primary caregivers. People already have significant family and medical care needs that are increasing as the workforce ages. And the consequences for the economic well-being of families and the state can be serious when people are not able to hold paying jobs while providing and receiving critical care. Specifically:

  • In 72 percent of Pennsylvania households with children – more than 1.8 million homes – all parents hold jobs;
  • In Pennsylvania, 85 percent of Black mothers, 64 percent of Latina mothers and 50 percent of white mothers are key breadwinners for their families;
  • In less than 15 years, the share of Pennsylvania’s population age 65 and older will grow by more than one-third;
  • Thirteen people die every day from drug overdoses in Pennsylvania;
  • In Pennsylvania, there is a 10-percentage point gap in labor force participation between men and women; and
  • A national paid leave plan would reduce the number of working families in Pennsylvania facing significant economic insecurity when they need to take family and medical leave by 83 percent.

Pennsylvania legislators are considering paid leave at the state level. Nationally, the FMLA guarantees unpaid leave, but it is inaccessible to 59 percent of workers in Pennsylvania because they either are not covered by the law or cannot afford to take the unpaid leave it provides. Just 15 percent of workers in the United States have paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40 percent have paid medical leave through employer-provided temporary disability insurance. California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and, as of Jan. 1, New York, have paid family leave insurance programs in place. Washington state and the District of Columbia have enacted similar measures that have not yet taken effect. Research shows that existing programs are working well and lawmakers in other states continue to use them as models as they consider programs of their own.

“We now have a powerful body of evidence that shows the widespread benefits of paid family and medical leave, the urgent need for it, and the key components of a meaningful policy that would promote gender and economic equality, strengthen businesses and our economy, and promote the culture change we need,” explained Vicki Shabo, vice president for workplace policies and strategies at the National Partnership. “Lawmakers who advance strong paid leave proposals demonstrate that they understand their constituents’ needs and the value we all place on knowing we can care for our loved ones without risking our jobs. Voters’ support for a strong national paid family and medical leave law cuts across parties and ideologies, and large and small companies say they support a national paid leave plan too. It is past time for all lawmakers to show the same interest in real policy solutions.”

The Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, sponsored by Sen. Gillibrand (D – N.Y.) and Rep. DeLauro (D – Conn.), is the leading paid family and medical leave proposal in Congress. Reps. Boyle, Brady, Cartwright, Doyle and Evans are co-sponsors of the legislation. The FAMILY Act would create a national insurance program, similar to those in the states, that would be funded through small employer and employee contributions of 0.2 percent each (less than $1.50 per week each for a typical worker). It would allow workers to take up to 12 weeks of leave for serious family or medical reasons while receiving a portion of their pay.

The National Partnership’s reports for all 50 states and the District of Columbia are available hereThey were released in advance of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the FMLA, which is Feb. 5. To celebrate the day and advance the movement for paid leave, a broad and diverse coalition of organizations is joining with businesses, state and local lawmakers, and working people across the country to call for a national paid family and medical leave law like the FAMILY Act. Supporters will be sending messages to Congress, hosting events, sharing stories with the media and their networks, and using #FMLA25 and #PaidLeaveMeans on social media.

For more information on paid family and medical leave, including details on existing laws, a summary of recent employer policy announcements, a collection of fact sheets and the latest research on the impact of paid leave policies, visit NationalPartnership.org/PaidLeave.

*Figure calculated using new data released by Brandeis University’s diversitydatakids.org.

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The National Partnership for Women & Families, based in Washington, D.C., drafted and led the fight to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act. The organization promotes fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care, and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at 
NationalPartnership.org.

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We received this information from The National Partnership for Women & Families.

Twin Parent Checklist

*articles may contain affiliate links* We’ve put together a Twin Parent Checklist – our take on the “essentials” for twin parents as you navigate through the first years as twin parents. If you’re a twin parent, check it out and tell us what you’d add!

twin-parent-checklist

Twin Parent Checklist

Despite the look of the girls in the photo, they have totally rocked their first years (almost THREE) of life, challenging everything we thought we knew about parenting based on our older two. We’re no experts but have come up with a list that can be helpful if you’re navigating this twin parenthood thing for the first (or second) time.

Things You’ll Want Two of:

  • Cribs (we love mini cribs)
  • Playpens (get one with a double bassinet)
  • High Chairs
  • Toddler Beds
  • Car Seats (and an extra set of bases for infant seats)
  • Bumbo Chair
  • Ring Sling Baby Carrier
  • Coats
  • Car Seat Covers (if you live in a cold area)

 

Things You’ll Need One of:

 

Go Big (get multiples):

  • Crib Sheets
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Training Pants
  • Footed Pajamas
  • Swaddle Blankets and/or Sleep Sacks
  • Onesies

Check out a more detailed post about some of these items or a list of things for the PARENTS of newborns!

Get the downloadable version here –> Twin Parent Checklist

Kudo Banz: Helping Our Kids SOAR

Kudo Banz provided me with product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

This fall, The Bigs went back to school and learned about their new rewards program – SOAR. Instead of moving from green to yellow to red [on a behavior chart], they now have to earn four levels of getting caught being good.

I was surprised when the kids came home complaining about this. “It’s going to be too hard” and “It’s not fair” rang from their throats. I shook my head. Did our time giving Kudo Banz a try this summer not teach them anything? I reminded them of earning their Kudos and they quickly quieted down. And in the three weeks since school’s started? I haven’t heard another word. I think it has worked – Kudo Banz set my kids up for success with this new program!

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What Are Kudo Banz

Since we haven’t talked much about the Kudo Banz, you might be wondering what I mean by this. A “parenting game changer”, these are wrist bands that kids wear then earn charms (Kudos) throughout the day for doing good things. Think of it as a sticker chart but constantly there as a reminder.

When the child earns three Kudos, they scan the QR code into an app (on a parent’s device) that then allows them to spin a reward wheel. These aren’t necessarily toys or treats, they are extra things that you and your child plan to add to the wheel together. (Our kids asked us to customize the wheel with things like “family dance party”, “make a YouTube video”, and “one on one time with the twins”. Your child can add whatever they want and even include a photo!)

Kudo Banz Starter Kit

There is a starter kit that has two Banz and a few star Kudos, but then you can also order additional Kudo collections to add to their fun and motivation. My kids opted for the Pirate and Princess sets (but of course) to motivate them.

Background: Kudo Banz

Amanda and Hamza, whom I got to meet in person at Blogger Bash, know that parenting is a challenging but important job. They created this reward system to combat all of the negative messages children receive (like time outs and being yelled out). The Kudo Banz became a tool they could use on the go and for reinforcing positive behaviors. It worked with their three children, and they’re hopeful other parents will find them helpful!

How Did Kudo Banz Work for The Bigs?

Our experience was pretty positive. The first few days were a bit of a growing pain, but the starter kit we got came with a book that we read a few times as a reminder. This book chronicles the story of two boys who get a visit from their grandma and learn that they need to be good and helpful to earn Kudos…then good things happen. We’d pull it out and read when Evan would get upset that Arianna earned her reward wheel first. But you do not remove a Kudo! No matter how upset he’d get, he got to keep his kudos. We’d just remind him to BE GOOD.

Admittedly, Evan broke his Banz. It was a bit tight to get around his hand, which stumped me because Kudo Banz are made for kids ages 3 and up. The sizing definitely looked like it would have been better suited for the twins, but they aren’t 3 yet. (I agree with this age range for not only size but understanding!)

Because Evan’s broke, Arianna sort of lost interest, but when things start getting tough, I mention them and they both remember the basic concepts. We’ll definitely want to start these early with the twins!

If you are interested in learning more, check out kudobanz.com or get started by adding them to your Amazon cart here.  

How to Get Kids to Enjoy Their Lunch

This post is a partnership between myself and UnitedHealthcare talking about kids’ lunch. All opinions are 100% my own. 

 

kids lunchIs mealtime a struggle in your house? It is in ours, mainly because we have six different appetites to please. As much as we want to say we don’t, the truth is that we are often making four different meals. There is the adult meal (Keto or Whole30), Arianna’s mostly grownup meal (but considerations need to be made for her expander), Evan’s “scoop of peanut butter and apple slices”, then whatever the twins eat. I’m exhausted typing it, can you imagine the scene while making these? Torture, indeed.

peanut butter sandwich kid
Evan and his Peanut Butter

We’re all about healthy choices, but truth is, we parents do need to give our kids something they’ll eat. Having a meal plan and routine will help avoid our efforts going to waste – studies show “that children are throwing away roughly 25-45 percent of food, with vegetable waste up to 90 percent” (source: United Healthcare). That’s alarming to a mama who pinches pennies and tries to push the veggies!

Arianna working on dinner

How to Get Kids to Enjoy Their Lunch

My tried and true mom tips are to have the kids pick out what they want to eat, and hope for the best; however, that’s lead to plenty of wasted food in our house. I know. It pains me. That’s why I was excited that UnitedHealthcare was willing to share some tips to make fun, healthy lunches without spending too much time or getting stressed out.

Dr. Craig Butler, Medical Director, UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania and Delaware, shares some tips for parents and caregivers on how to make school lunches that are both nutritional and appealing to kids.

  • Pack school lunches with your kids. When kids are engaged in the process, they are more likely to help pack a meal they will eat and it’s a great teaching opportunity for parents.
  • Include at least three food groups: Lunches should include at least three food groups to provide nourishment and energy boosting nutrients to help get your child through the day.
    • Whole grains (popcorn, wraps, bread, rolls, crackers, pitas, cereal, pasta, quinoa, brown rice)
    • Lean- or low-fat protein (low-fat milk, cheese, nuts, cottage cheese, yogurt, hummus, turkey, chicken, roast beef, ham, nut butters, eggs, edamame, beans, tuna fish and salmon)
    • Fruits and veggies (100% fruit juice box, any fresh fruits or veggies, dried fruit, fruit cups in juice, natural applesauce cups)
  • Make it colorful. Adding colorful fruits and vegetables can make a lunch look more appetizing. Spice up vegetables with a little bit of guacamole, hummus, salsa, or low-fat ranch dressing on the side to add flavor and fun.
  • Don’t forget a drink: Hydration is particularly important for children because they have higher water requirements than adults. Besides water, more fun options include smoothies and low-fat milk. Skip sugary juices and sodas.
  • Pick the right sweet treat: It’s okay to add something small to their lunches because it gives them something to look forward to, but aim for less than eight to 10 grams of sugar per serving. Examples include chocolates that are at least 70 percent pure cocoa chocolate and natural fruit smoothies with plain Greek yogurt and almond milk.

Our favorites are to include colors – guacamole is a win in our house, allow for a small sweet treat, and to make it a family activity. Letting Evan loose on the peanut butter has made for some fun looking sandwiches, but when he helps, he eats!

Lunch Ideas

It’s great to have tips, but maybe you don’t know what to serve that is fun and matches the tips above. That’s ok, we get that. These lunch ideas are sure to please:

  • Grilled cheese a’la’ waffle – Use a waffle iron to create a whimsical version of the standard sandwich that can be enjoyed at room temperature. Serve with grapes, carrot sticks and 100% fruit juice.
  • Veggie quesadilla – Use whatever veggies you have on hand layered between a whole grain tortilla with cheese and cook quickly to melt the cheese. Serve with apple slices and lowfat milk.
  • Hard boiled egg-on-a-stick – Pair with popcorn, fruit slices to dip in a container of Greek yogurt along with a few cherry tomatoes and bottle of water.
  • Roll it up! – Roll up string cheese, a slice of lean ham, red bell pepper slices and baby spinach in a whole grain wrap. Serve with 100% fruit juice and a few strawberries.

Arianna’s vote is for the “hard boiled egg-on-a-stick”, but we’ll be working with Evan on breaking out of his “peanut butter only” mood to revolutionize our kids’ lunch. Which one(s) do you think your kids would like best? Tweet it out! 

For more healthy recipe ideas, parents can visit www.uhc.com/wellness.

Review of The Freeloader Child Carrier

This post is a review of the Freeloader Child Carrier. I received product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

A few weeks back, I hinted that I’d be getting a child carrier that would be useful not just for the twins but for The Bigs, too. Do you remember me telling you about the Freeloader? Well, it arrived and we’ve been using it to test our backs out for when the twins are big enough to use it by taking Evan up to the Rails to Trails right off our backyard.

freeloader child carrierNote – The Freeloader Child Carrier should only be used with children ages 2 and a half and up (the twins are just a few weeks shy of that) and when they weigh between 25 and 80 pounds. They should also be between 33-50 inches tall. (That means Ava is going to be carriable again soon! Isla has some height to gain, but the way she’s been eating lately, that’s going to be soon, too!)

Like anything new, The Freeloader takes some getting used to. “You’re not going to run with him on here, that’s for sure,” said Greg when he tried it out with Evan.

It’s true. I got pretty sweaty while wearing it and even though I know I’m strong, it still was a core workout. We’re not going to be signing up for any 10-mile hikes while wearing it anytime soon.

While I was carrying Evan on the trail, I wondered what people thought. The three girls were walking around and I was carrying Evan, the sportiest of them all. But then I didn’t care. It’s pretty cool to have a carrier that supports a bigger child – and my mind went to friends who have kids with special needs, how it would allow them to go on adventures, too! Great news, Freeloader has a community for parents of kids with special needs! They’re steps ahead of me.

Preparing for our adventure

The girls can’t wait to be worn again, and we’ll work up to bigger adventures than just our trail. The Freeloader Child Carrier is slim enough we could take it to amusement parks or festivals (it only weighs 5.8 pounds).

Wearing in Prep for our Walk

What We Liked: The Freeloader Child Carrier

  • It is lightweight but sturdy.
  • The straps around the hips and around the shoulders distribute the weight evenly.
  • I ordered a medium Freeloader, and it is just the right size for me and for Greg, even with our height difference.
  • The foot straps for the kiddo!
  • As our kids grow, they’ll still be able to use it, up to 80 pounds. Arianna’s even taken a ride!

What We Didn’t Like: The Freeloader Child Carrier

  • The padding, while super comfy for both parent and kiddo, got me sweaty. Either that or it was our September Summer, but I still think it would be warm on a normal day, too.
  • While I agree the carrier is well worth it, the price is a bit out of our range as twin parents. If we wanted two, we’d be shelling out almost $600 (they are $299 a piece). Also, if you and your partner are different heights, you want to consider this in your purchase.

All-in-all, The Freeloader will be a go-to for our times exploring the world around us. Greg’s excited to have it as an option for next summer’s Wildlife Wednesday adventures. I’m excited to have Ava close by without her pinching and tugging at me to “Up! Up!” without support. Definitely a series of wins.

If you’d like to get a Freeloader Child Carrier of your own, you can save 10% when you use the code freeloaderfun when you use this coupon. See more at myfreeloader.com and find Freeloader on Facebook. Freeloader is also available on Amazon.

 

Cars with Space for Three Car Seats: What Do You Do?

*articles may contain affiliate links* This post about searching for cars with space for three car seats is brought to us today through US Family Guide and cars.com. 

When we found out we were having twins, it was clear that a family of six wasn’t going to fit in our Avenger. We tried for a few months, but it didn’t work out like we thought (“we’ll never have to have all four in the “car” and can use the truck instead”, ha). Our search began for cars with space for three car seats.

cars with space for three car seats
source: Cars.com

This search is pretty difficult – so much so that Jennifer Newman of cars.com calls it “the automotive holy grail: a car that’s not a minivan and can fit three child-safety seats across the backseat”. That is true indeed!

The obvious was that a van was going to work, especially because we have four kids. But even now that we’re looking for a second “runner” vehicle, I’m pleasantly surprised that there are sedan options, too! I found this super helpful article from Cars.com that listed the results of their tests of cars with space for three car seats and LOVED to see five sedans made the list.

We’re at the stage where Evan needs a booster and the twins are in forward-facing seats, so the space is still a bit tight. We might not end up with a vehicle that actually fits three across the back (especially because Arianna still needs to be in the back, too), but at least we know our options!

car search

When you are looking for a new car, it definitely is a good idea to do your research. The dealer we recently visited encouraged us to check the car seats on a test drive, too. We’ll definitely do that as we move forward in our car buying process!

If you’re looking for how other cars passed the car seat tests and you aren’t a big family, Cars.com has information on that, too! Check out the results of car seats in several different vehicles here.

Unsupervised Play: Yay or Nay?

This post about Unsupervised Play is brought to you through a collaboration with myself and The Genius of Play. All opinions are 100% my own.

This morning I was working from home and got to experience the joy of listening to my two older children as they were playing in my son’s room. The conversations they held sounded very “grown” – such as “make sure the baby has a clean diaper” and “I’ll cook dinner so you can take a break tonight”. Surely modeled after the example Greg and I give them, their simple act of playing house (with Evan’s firefighter house and characters) spoke volumes to me. They know how to play and we are teaching them good things. 

Where was Greg during this play? He was feeding the twins their breakfast in another room. Where was I during this play? I was working in my office across the hall from Evan’s room. Shock! Our kids were engaged in unsupervised play…and not only engaged in it, they didn’t have to be told to just go play!

unsupervised play

What is unsupervised play?

In our house, unsupervised play is any play that takes place when an adult isn’t in the same room. It challenges them to fight off boredom and to make up ways to interact with each other without the help or influence of us adults or technology. Honestly, it helps us to get our to-do lists and work done, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t listening/checking in. Unsupervised play is showing our kids that we trust them (and letting them know when they’ve broken that trust).

Unsupervised Play: Outside vs Inside

But what about when that play is outside and unsupervised? Again, all parents are going to have opinions. When The Genius of Play posted the video below on social media, it gained many comments on the topic.

Things sure are different than they were in the 80’s and 90’s when I grew up, but we keep our boundaries pretty tight around here, too. As you know, we let them explore the wild but with our supervision. When they do get to go outside and have unsupervised play, I (imagine) they are pirates and princesses, braving the “wild seas” of our backyard. We have a fenced in backyard, but the kids don’t get to run out back whenever they want – we need to be downstairs so we can see/hear them.

Will that change as they get older? Honestly, likely. We’ll trust them more and give them a little bit of freedom. But for now, our unsupervised play will continue to take place within the four walls of our house where we can check in on them every ten or so minutes.

Tell me – what are your thoughts on unsupervised play in and outside of the home? 

I’ve teamed up with The Genius of Play to help raise awareness around the vital role play has on kids’ lives and development. They are currently sharing this set of videos to bring awareness of some hot play topics to the table – head out and see what you think! Let’s help each other navigate the world of parenting.

Stay on top of your parenting game when it comes to play! Follow along with The Genius of Play on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Their website is full of creative ideas and advice on play – be sure to check it out!

*articles may contain affiliate links*

On The Move: Tips for Families to Minimize Stress When Moving

This post is brought to you by Northwood Realty Services and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own. When I think of the most stressful times in my life, moving easily trickles to the top of that list. Yes, even our wedding day or having twins is beat by the times I’ve moved. Is there really a way to minimize stress when moving?

Minimize Stress When Moving

The thing is, I’ve moved a lot in my life. Moving kind of was my “thing” for a long time. It didn’t bother me in the least, probably because I grew up moving every three to four years as a preacher’s kid. It became part of my blood, something I expected. But just because it was my “norm” doesn’t mean it was easy.

In the time that Greg and I have been together, I’ve moved five times (back to Pittsburgh, down the street to our first rental together, to our first house, to my parents’ for an interim stay between our closings, and to our current – and hopefully forever – home). That’s a lot in a span of eight years, and every one of them was with kids, four of them with dogs. You try to hold it together and keep your sanity so the kids don’t get all worried about the move, but it’s nearly impossible when you’re dealing with schedules and rental trucks and trying not to break precious household items. (And sometimes when you add being pregnant to the mix, it’s just 100x more stressful!)

Luckily, I recently found out that the things I worry about when moving aren’t things that I make up in my head. If you’ve ever had to move (or buy or sell a home), you’ve likely felt these same things. At least that was the case when I got the chance to sit down and talk with fellow Pittsburgh-area bloggers and Northwood Realty Services about the huge life event of moving. We talked about our experiences and personal challenges then came up with ways to minimize stress when moving as a family.

Families on the Move: Tips to Minimize Stress for Moving

Okay, so you’re ready to move from your current home and into your dream home. What gets packed first? What do you pack last? Who do you have help sell the home? Who will be there on moving day? Before you start to fret, here is a list of tips that Northwood Realty Moms (both Realtors who are moms and mom bloggers) came up with to make it less stressful:

Can you tell which tips resonated with me? Here they are:

  • Time house showings for when you know your house will already be empty. We did this when we sold our home in Tarentum – put the sign up in the yard then booked it for Aruba. Thing is, we left Greg’s mom and dad to handle the Bigs and the Dogs for a slew of showings that happened while we were away. Maybe all the family should go on vacation!
  • Make your new house a home. First thing Missy and I did when the guys were off getting the last load of things from my brother’s garage (in our current home) was set up Arianna and Evan’s rooms. I then texted my mom a picture so the kids could see – their beds and packed away special friends were waiting for them to arrive the next day!
  • Don’t overlook selling over the holidays. We didn’t buy or sell over the holidays, but in both I was able to envision the Christmas tree. I can’t even begin to imagine how amazing both would have looked trimmed for the season and how much more in love with them I would have been (if that is possible).
  • Help ease transition to a new school. Arianna went to three different schools her kindergarten year. If she wasn’t such a resilient kiddo, there’s no way I would have embarked on that! We would have moved in the summer or at the end of Christmas break. Hands down. (Next time we move will be after the Twins graduate! HA!)

Families on the Move

So moving with kids (or babies in the womb) isn’t the easiest, but there are plenty of stories from the women who contributed to this infographic – we’ve all survived and I think most of us would do it again for the right house at the right time. I’m not suggesting that Greg and I up and move again anytime soon (our family and friends who bear the load when we move are thanking me), but I know that if the time comes again we’re seasoned and will make it through.

Have you or your family ever moved? What tips and tricks would you add to this list (including buying/selling ideas) to minimize stress when moving?

About Northwood:

  • Northwood Realty Services is one of the region’s largest real estate service providers, serving customers across 30 counties from 39 offices in Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.
  • Since 1956, Northwood has earned a reputation for integrity, accountability and hard work. Guided by these principles and a desire to serve others, Northwood provides its clients with full-service real estate solutions that cover every step of the buying and selling process.