5 New Year’s Resolutions Worth Making

Woman writing in notebook

I like making New Year’s resolutions. This isn’t my only check in on goals during the year, but I like the scheduled reminder to look at my progress.

I also love the tools of goal setting. ‘Tis the season of new moleskine notebooks.


Simple Tracking

Despite my love of online goal trackers, I found over this past year that my most effective method of keeping on track was pencil and paper—colorful paper (that’s my motivator!). Simpler has been better.

Spreadsheets play a big part in my tracking as well. For any routine tasks, I use spreadsheets for check lists, time tracking, and dashboard measurements. I’m spreadsheet addicted. My favorite awesome spreadsheet guy has gifted a bunch of new spreadsheets to his readers this week. I noticed that my husband has been using a spreadsheet to keep track of his ambitious vacation to-do list, so I put the New Year’s Resolution Tracker in front of him and told him it is his. He’s a spreadsheet geek, too, so he’s actually excited to use it.

Simple is better. Use the simplest tracker that works for you, and get on to making your resolutions.


Goal-setting Cheerleaders

For those of us who relish goal setting, this is one of the best weeks of the year. I not only get to check in with myself and understand what I want, but I have a lot of great advice to read from others because everyone seems to be asking, “What worked in 2010? What are you going to do differently in 2011?”

One short post that stayed with me warned of the danger of setting big goals when we aren’t prepared. The solution? Think big, act small, and start today.

My plan to focus on just one thing worked very well for the holidays, and I’m going to stick with this approach in the coming year.


5 Resolutions

Make your resolutions a mix. I remind myself to improve my connections with the people I love, upgrade the things I choose to live with, and build my own happiness. Look around to see what you are motivated to start today.

If you need a nudge, here are five goals worth setting this year.


1. Spend Alone Time with Children

Schedule time when you can sit with one child, face to face just to talk, laugh, ask how things are, and enjoy being together.

You’ve heard that it goes fast. Especially if your children are still very small, let me tell you again that I think you’ll be as shocked as I am to find that your time with your children is almost over sooner than you think. Write it on the calendar so you won’t forget. Your child will learn to anticipate your time together.


2. Use Non-plastic Food Storage Containers

By now, you probably have a decent understanding of the problems with plastic. In particular, chemical toxins in some plastics can leach into food.

It seemed like a daunting task, but over the past two years I’ve switched all of the old, round plastic containers inherited from my mother (and from another era) to glass food storage containers with snap-on lids a lot like our popular wean cubes for storing baby food. I took a while to make the complete switch because I just bought a container here and there to keep the financial impact low and to be sure that I had sizes that we most needed. It’s a bonus that the new containers are square and stack well, so there is a lot less wasted space in my refrigerator.

Start with one cupboard or one starter pack of containers and improvise the rest of the transition one step at a time.


3. Schedule Date Night

It can be difficult to tear yourself away from your babies, but you need to. You need adult time to ground yourself and give your parenting time a positive context. Whether it’s a dinner date with your spouse, a night out with the girls, or even a night in when the children go to friend’s house while you stay home, your adult time can be rejuvenating.

When my children were young enough that they had only ever stayed with family or friends away from us, my husband and I traded time with friends. They got one night a week alone while we added their children to our herd then we got one night when they added our children to theirs. Sometimes 6-8 women from our play group left all of the men at one house with babies while we went out. To make this work, you need a circle of trusted friends or willing family. Start by making an offer to watch someone else’s children while they go out.


4. Use Reusable Cloths & Napkins

Go through your kitchen and your bathroom and replace any paper towels or napkins. Everyone in my family now carries reusable tissues in their pockets. I can hear my grandfather saying, “Handkerchiefs! They are called ‘handkerchiefs.’” Whatever they are called, runny noses do not have to mean full trash baskets.

Using reusable napkins and cloth tissues is an easy habit to make for the whole family. It is also a step toward bigger changes when everyone sees how easy it is.


5. Schedule Alone Time with Yourself

Checking in with yourself regularly is essential to making any kind of changes work for you. Schedule time for yourself and don’t break your dates. Don’t put everyone ahead of yourself then wonder where the time went. You could take 15 minutes before your children wake up to walk or shower or write, or you may need to make your Me Time part of your date night deal.

If you already have scheduled alone time, how can you improve it?

Whatever way it works for you, make sure your check in time includes reminding yourself to take several deep breaths then asking, “How am I?” and “What do I want from today?”


Start now!
Write down what you are going to do then take even one small step to move you closer to a goal. Your steps don’t have to be the same size every day, but don’t make your plans so ambitious that it’s just easier to forget it. Take a small step then take another if you feel like it.

Image © Jochen Schönfeld | Dreamstime.com

5-star Sale

BabyHawk Baby Carrier Cammo

As I’ve been checking out the byNature.ca sale on baby products today, I see that there are some great bargains on some of the most loved products in the store. I love the review system, and I admit to skipping straight to the highest-rated products because I figure I need to check them out before everyone has the same thought that I do and they are all gone.


Baby Carriers

BabyHawk mei tai (above) is a versatile, reversible baby carrier that makes babywearing easy for mothers and fathers alike.

Couldn’t live without it!
Price – 4 stars
Value – 5 stars
Quality – 5 stars

Our babyhawk is our workhorse carrier. It is SO comfortable. I’ve carried both kids in it at different ages, including my 2 year old daughter on my back while I was 36 weeks pregnant! Its easy to use, comes in great fabrics, is durable and just all around fabulous. Big thumbs up! (Posted by Kalista on 6/7/10)


Off Season

When you are looking for a bargain, it helps to think ahead. If you can manage to look past the snow to next summer, think of your baby swimming. Bummis Swimmi swim diapers are the best swim diaper around, and Badger Non-toxic Sunscreen is a best seller every year.

Bummis swim diapers

My search for the best reusable swim diaper is over!!
Price – 5 stars
Value – 5 stars
Quality – 5 stars

I’ve tried a few different reusable swim diapers and this is the only one that has held in the really loose newborn poop, which saves me from a lot of embarrassment!! We go swimming often and it’s nice to know that my kids are keeping the water clean. (Posted by Nicole on 7/2/10)

Badger non-toxic sunscreen

The best natural sunscreen!
Quality – 5 stars
Price – 5 stars
Value – 5 stars

Since discovering my daughter is allergic to the active ingredient in most chemical sunscreens, I started investigating natural options. I have tried a number of different zinc oxide and titanium dioxide based sunblocks and Badger is far and away our favourite. It rubs in easily and doesn’t leave large white streaks like many zinc-based products. This sunscreen does have an oily texture so I would not recommend it for adults with oily skin, but for children and adults with normal skin, it is just fabulous! (Posted by Lorraine on 6/30/10)


Cloth Diapering

Cloth diapers and diaper accessories have no season. The constant need for diapers is one of those realities of parenting. So, when the sales come around on your favorite products or products you’ve been considering trying, it’s time to act. Berry Plush minky diaper covers and two styles of FuzziBunz, Classic one-size and Perfect size, are on sale. We also have vinyl-free changing pads.

Berry Plush cloth diapers

LOVE this one, so soft, really absorbent, very much worth the price
Price – 5 stars
Value – 5 stars
Quality – 5 stars

I love this diaper. I don’t think I could say enough about it. It is a little expensive, but so worth it. The mink is soooooo soft – I have a hard time resisting touching it when I take it off the line. It is so absorbent and the outside is so soft to the touch and so cute that I love letting my son run around without pants when he’s wearing it. I love that it can used as a wrap, and that the inside unfolds to dry easy and fast. (Posted by Miranda on 6/12/10)

FuzziBunz perfect sized cloth diapers

Great Diaper
Price – 5 stars
Value – 5 stars
Quality – 4 stars

I’ve tried a bunch of different diapers and this is my favorite. It fits great for new babies and is very adjustable as they grow. . . . For those that think cloth diapering is leaky… every morning, my little one completes her morning routine…smile, eat, poop,blowout. Since we switched to cloth, everything has stayed IN the diaper. (Posted by mom2three on 12/3/10)

FuzziBunz classic one-size diaper

Love these!
Price – 5 stars
Value – 4 stars
Quality – 5 stars

These are our #1 choice for going out in. They have never leaked on my 5 week old and we were able to start using them when he outgrew the newborn disposables at 1 week (he was 9lbs 11 oz at birth). I just wish the price was lower but they are worth it and come with 2 inserts. (Posted by NinaN on 11/9/10)

Diaper changing pads

Great and Simple
Quality – 5 stars
Price – 5 stars
Value – 5 stars

I bought one and ended up buying a few more. It’s a simple product, but so effective and practical. The fleece truly is super soft and of good quality (stays clean and nice after many washes and things don’t stick to it like some fleeces). Even the vinyl-free material is nice to the touch. The material is much like the pocket diapers but in a changing pad format. I ended up putting two under the cribs fitted sheet. They fold very small and, the best part, no vinyl! (Posted by Michelle on 7/1/10)

You can get some great bargains with the other bynature.ca sale products. These are only some of the items that have already been reviewed. Help other parents make the best choices, and help us know what you like best, by leaving reviews for products you like as well as for products you don’t like. It’s fast and easy. Your honest reviews help everyone.

Happy bargain hunting!

6 Tips to Help Your Baby through Holiday Time

Mother comforting baby

Holidays are a stimulating, even over-stimulating, time for a baby. Especially if this is your baby’s first holiday season, there is likely to be a lot more going on than usual. Between parties and family, shopping and looking at lights, and other situations full of crowds of strangers, your baby may need a break. Here are a few tips to avoid an over-stimulated baby.

1. Keep Up the Routine
As much as you can, keep the same general structure that your baby is accustomed to. Don’t skip feeding and sleeping times.

2. Carry Familiar Items
If your child has a toy animal or doll that seems to spread calm, bring it. The more unfamiliar the surroundings, the more comforting familiar items and faces will be.

3. Explain What Is Happening
If your child is beginning to talk, the content of what you say might actually be helpful. For a baby who doesn’t yet understand your words, just the periodic sound of your voice will be reassuring.

4. Take Breaks
Before your baby gets anxious, take a break. Sing, talk, sway, or do whatever your baby finds soothing. If you will be in a noisy environment—a New Year’s Eve celebration, for example—build a relatively quiet break time into your plans.

5. Follow Your Baby’s Cues
Follow your baby’s lead. When your child starts pushing and getting restless, it’s time for a break. If you wait, you risk a meltdown, which could be far more uncomfortable for all involved. Just excuse yourself briefly for some rest time, to breastfeed, or just to go into a quiet place and talk face to face.

6. Wear Your Baby
When you wear your baby facing you, it is easy for you to face out talking while the baby turns in when she wants to. She isn’t stuck facing the unfamiliar with no way to make it stop. If she can nuzzle in your neck, she has a positive choice to make when facing out it too much.

Friends meeting your baby for the first time will want to hold and talk, but that during that phase at about 4 to 24 months old, most babies will not want to be passed around. Let this first introduction be at a distance if that is what your baby needs.

Give your child the best chance to be at his best when he meets friends and family for the first time. He won’t care about making an impression, but a lot of eager people really do have a genuine desire to get to know him. Help them both by bridging their expectations and being your baby’s refuge when holiday parties get to be just too much.

Image © Vanessa Van Rensburg | Dreamstime.com

Holiday Lights

Holiday candle and lights

I love the lights of the holiday season. There is something stirring about twinkling lights on cold nights. No matter which holiday people celebrate, the midwinter holidays are celebrations of light, and I enjoy seeing everyone’s candles, fairy lights, luminarias, and bonfires.

Whichever holiday you celebrate, bynature.ca and I wish you a happy holiday.

Image © Kenneth Keifer | Dreamstime.com

Alternatives to the Cheese Ball

Cheese ball and crackers

Cheese balls. I dread them. If there is a cheese ball at a party, that is where I will find my children.

It’s not that I hate cheese balls. I don’t. I love them, but it’s a solid wad of cheese, and that is just not the way to keep me healthy and happy.

So, if you are looking for quick, easy party foods that do not include the requisite holiday cheese ball, here are just a few of my ideas for crowd pleasing appetizers that are relatively low calorie and high nutrition.

Guacamole

We have access to so much great, fresh Mexican food at local markets, that homemade guacamole is a staple in our house. If you are looking for foods that play on green and red themes, think avocado. Any kind of avocado dip is easy to make and fairly easy to eat while standing up and chatting. Plus, kids love it. Ours usually includes lime juice, pico de gallo or drained salsa, and a little salt and cayenne pepper. We mash by hand rather than in a food processor so the dip is chunky.

Baba Ganoush

You could go with bean dip or hummus, but those are fairly high calorie. When you might be dip dip dipping for a while, a dip made out of vegetables will give you fewer calories per dip. We like to make our own baba ganoush. It’s easy to roast eggplant, peel, then buzz it in the food processor with garlic, lemon juice, tahini, olive, and a little salt and pepper. I like it warm, but it still tastes great cool, so it works at the beginning of the party as well as toward the end—though, in my house, there is no way baba ganoush would last until the end of a party.

Smoked Salmon

Things on Crackers are easy party food for adults and for children. If I let myself indulge in cheese, I really like smoked gouda. To avoid the cheese and keep the smoke, how about smoked salmon as a tasty, non-cheese alternative. Especially if the fish is local to you and you have a fish market that offers sustainably harvested and processed salmon, this can be a special treat for a special party.

I love cheese balls. I admit I had some yesterday, but this is just not a food I can eat a lot of before I’m very sorry. If you are careful with the food you choose to serve or eat at holiday parties, you can avoid that eater’s remorse that so often follows the cheese ball.

Image © Stephaniefrey | Dreamstime.com