Transitioning From a Crib to a Toddler Bed

Right before she turned two years old, Norah started complaining about her crib. She would wake up in the middle of the night and yell that she didn’t want to sleep in her crib and didn’t like it anymore. We weren’t sure when we were going to transition from crib to toddler bed, but Norah let us know when she was ready.

Choosing a new bed

Our first decision was to choose whether to buy a twin bed and add a rail or buy a toddler bed. There are pros and cons for each. The twin bed could grow with Norah and be her bed for the next 10+ years. The toddler bed was more manageably sized, less expensive, and could be passed down to future children. We thought we could consign the toddler bed when we were finished with it, assuming it was in good condition.

We ended up deciding on the toddler bed and bought this one from Walmart for $60. We got the cherry stain version to match her dresser and bookshelf.

We built the toddler bed on a Saturday so that Norah would have a chance to get used to the bed when sleep disruptions wouldn’t mess with her routine.

We let Norah pick out her own big girl comforter and sheet set. She chose this three piece Minnie set from Walmart for $40. Having a big girl comforter made her excited to get into the new bed. The set has held up through quite a few washings, but the decorative pillow unraveled in the dryer and I had to throw it out.

The first night Norah slept in the new bed went beautifully, she didn’t get out of the bed once and she went right to sleep. We figured she was telling us the truth when she said she didn’t like her crib. She was ready to transition to a toddler bed. She has been in the bed for five months now and she still loves it. She occasionally gets out of bed to gather random toys and books and bring them into bed with her, but she’s never tried to leave her room.

Adding an alarm clock

Another issue we had to tackle was Norah’s habit of waking up around 5 or 6 am and deciding that she wanted to be up for the day. This was a new occurrence and had only been happening for a month or so, but it was tough to deal with. It’s likely this had to do with Norah’s two-year molars coming in, but we wanted to introduce the concept of a “wake up time” sooner than later.

We bought the OK to Wake clock from Amazon for $21 to teach Norah time. The clock lights up green when it’s time for the child to wake up. There’s also an option for a ringing alarm, which we don’t use. It took a few days for Norah to understand the concept and follow it. We told her that she was allowed to get out of bed and read books or play with toys before the clock turned green, but that she couldn’t yell for us or leave the room.

On an average morning, we have the clock set to turn green at 8:30 am. She typically starts stirring at 8 and will either look at books or rest until the clock turns green. As soon as it does, she yells out “The clock is green. It’s morning time!”

Overall, we have a great sleeper which I credit partially to genetics and partially to using the SleepEasy Solution when she was four months old.

Tips for a successful transition from crib to toddler bed

    1. Look for signs of readiness. My daughter told us she was done with the crib, but other signs may include climbing out the crib or changing sleep patterns.
    2. Let your child have some say in the bed/comforter. We let Norah pick her comforter set and she was thrilled when she got to use it.
    3. Talk it up and make it fun. We surprised Norah by building the bed while she was downstairs then bringing her into her new room when everything was set up. We also acted extremely excited and positive about the change.
    4. Get a book about it. Norah loves to read books about things we’re going to do. We got her the book “Big Enough for a Bed” which talks about Elmo going from a crib into a big boy bed. This helped her understand what was happening and she frequently talked about how she had a big girl bed like Elmo.
    5. Give lots of of praise for a job well done. The first morning after Norah spent the night in her new bed, both Mike and I went in when she woke her up to talk about how great she did and how proud we were of her.

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What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed by Motherhood

Being a mother is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but it can also be one of the most exhausting, overwhelming and tedious ones too. At one point or another, all mothers have felt like they weren’t able to keep up with the onslaught of housework, caregiving, and maintaining their sanity.

Here are some ways to cope when you feel overwhelmed by motherhood:

  • Find a support group

In-person would be best, but if all you can find or have time for is an online group, that can work too. Support groups consist of other mothers, some in the same position as you, others who are newer to the job, and some seasoned pros. They can offer support and help. A weekly or monthly meeting can be a great place to recharge, relax, laugh and commiserate. Check Meetup groups in your area or Momsclub.

  • Ask for help

If you have a relative or a friend that you can ask for help, reach out and do so. Sometimes we don’t reach out for help because we’re embarrassed and assume that everyone else has it together. Everyone could use some extra help every now and then. Ask if someone can watch your child for a while so you can run an errand solo. Ask if someone could entertain your child while you get some things done around the house. Ask if someone could help you clean while your child sleeps. Whatever you need help with, put aside your temporary embarrassment and ask for help.

  • Take a break

When your child is napping or otherwise safely contained somewhere, take a break. Take a few deep breaths, do some stretching, read a book for a few minutes, or just leave the room. Sometimes separating yourself from the situation for a bit can help especially during toddler tantrums or newborn crying jags. When you calm down, go back and comfort and redirect.

  • Hire someone

If you don’t have regular help, you may want to hire someone to give you some time out each day. Babysitters, nannies, or ‘mother’s helpers’ can be as reasonable as $7-15 per hour depending on where you live. If you are able to pay someone to come a few days a week, it may be best for your mental health. You can find local caregivers on Care.com.

  • Find daycare

If you don’t want a babysitter coming to your house or can’t find one, you could use a drop-in home daycare service. This would allow you to bring your child for around $25-45 per day. Most commercial daycares will not allow drop-ins, but do have part-time schedules that can be as flexible as two days per week or a few hours each day.

  • Go outside

If you’re stuck in the house all day, you’re bound to get aggravated. Both you and your child need a change of scenery. Go outside! Go to the playground, the library, or take a walk around the block. Even running a few errands can break up the monotony.

  • Find free activities in your town

In most cities, there’s something free happening almost every day. Most museums and zoos have donation days where you pay whatever you can. Look up activities in your city and get out of the house. It can seem overwhelming to leave the house at first, but once you get to your destination, you’ll be glad you did. Search “free activities [your city]” or “donation day [your city]” to find lists of resources.

  • Join a gym

There are many gyms with childcare included in the membership price. The YMCA is a great example. For around $40/person per month or $70/family per month you can go to the YMCA every day and use the childcare for two hours per day. This situation is a win-win. Not only will you get some exercise, but you will also get a much-needed break.

  • Get more sleep

When you’re sleep deprived, everything is harder. Try to get to bed earlier. If your child is still waking through the night, consider sleep training. I used the SleepEasy Method to sleep train my daughter. If your child naps during the day, try to take a 20-30 minute nap with them. It’s tempting to power through your day on caffeine and sugar (I know I have!), but try not to consume them after 2 pm so you can fall asleep faster.

  • Speak to a therapist

If you’re feeling overwhelmed frequently, you may want to speak with a therapist. You could be experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety. Even if you’re not, the therapist will give you tools to help you cope with your day-to-day struggles. It’s often hard to find time to go to a therapist when you have children, but this is where babysitters, family, or friends can come in handy. You must prioritize your own health because no one else can do that for you.

Feeling overwhelmed is a normal occurrence in motherhood. Children can be demanding and exhausting and it’s stressful to have the responsibility of raising them on your shoulders. Make sure to take time for self-care. You are important.

If you feel hopeless or overwhelmed the majority of the time, please contact someone about postpartum depression/anxiety. It is very real and very serious.

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Celebrating Halloween with a Toddler

Halloween can be an incredibly fun time with a toddler. They are picture-perfect in their costumes, they can say “trick or treat” and are beginning to get into the excitement of the holidays. Halloween marks the start of the holiday season.

Here are some ways you can have a great Halloween celebration with your toddler.

  • Let them pick out their own costume

This year my daughter offered up the following options for costumes – Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, Mickey Mouse, or Minnie Mouse. I try not to push my agenda, but I knew that Sheldon was not going to be a recognizable costume since he wears superhero t-shirts and khaki pants which is not too different from some of the outfits she already has.

Once we looked online for costumes, she firmly declared she would be Abby Cadabby. Last year she was Elmo and Sesame Street is still popular in our house.

We also went to Target and picked out a fluffy kangaroo costume that would be more weather appropriate for night-time trick or treating.

  • Take them Trick or Treating

One of the great things about my husband’s employer is that they are a family business. They throw several events each year where employees are encouraged to bring their families. One of those activities is trick or treating around the office. There are about 50 people that participate and hand out candy to the kids trick or treating. Norah absolutely loves going to her daddy’s work and walking around the office with him.

We also do the traditional evening trick or treating in our neighborhood. Last year, Norah went to three houses, but was too scared to do any more. We came back home and she passed out candy to the trick or treaters. She really enjoyed seeing all of the kids in their costumes. Since she’s a little older this year, I think she’ll be more willing to go to the door and say trick or treat. She’s had a taste of candy and that’s a powerful motivator.

  • Talk up the holiday

We’ve been talking about Halloween since the summer. We keep reminding her of the order of the holidays and telling how fun Halloween is going to be. We do things related to the holiday for 2-3 weekends before the event.

  • Get holiday books from the library

When any major event is coming up I go to the library and get books about it. I always talk up new things so that Norah is excited and prepared, but I find that books are easier for her to understand than me rambling about something.

We’ve also watched several movies about Halloween including It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Trick or Treat Mickey Mouse.

  • Carve or paint pumpkins together

Last year we didn’t get around to doing this so we made sure it was a priority this year. We bought a kit with paint and sequins so Norah can go wild on her own pumpkin while Mike and I carved pumpkins. I made a cat pumpkin for Norah, Mike carved a ghost, and I craved an emoji.

  • Decorate for the event

My toddler loves decorating. She often takes stickers and places them all over the house and says “I’m decorating.”

When we see decorations in the grocery store, we go look at them and let her pick something for the house. She’s excited about the LED light pumpkins and spooky ghosts in the front yard. We also have a scarecrow in the front yard and a few things around the house. One of Norah’s favorite decorations are the sticky window clings so we made sure to get some pumpkins for the front window.

  • Disconnect and enjoy yourself

Nowadays it can be hard to be in the moment and enjoy yourself with so many digital distractions. By all means, take a few pictures of your child in their costume, but then put away your phone and wait until you get home to post them on Facebook. I see too many people interacting with their phones instead of their children and it makes me sad.

If Halloween isn’t your thing, most of these suggestions can be switched out for other holiday events. I’ve found that having a child makes the holidays magical again. I didn’t do much celebrating prior to my daughter being born, but I want to make sure she has special memories of the holidays. She makes everything fun!

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