Our Favorite Tot School Resources

Did you catch last week's post about getting your hyperactive toddler to focus? If you didn't, catch it here. In it, I announced an awesome new project which is launching super soon! Little City Tot School is a monthly subscription service that provides you with monthly tot school lesson plans. Enrollment is now open! It's a great way to start your new year off right!

In Little City Tot School I will provide you with weekly themes and activities to go with it. But in case you want some extra activities or if you want to learn more about tot school before starting your Little City Tot School lessons, I thought I would share some of our favorite tot school resources! These are things that help me come up with activities, find theme ideas, or that have tot school tips.

Tot School Resources

Pinterest

This may be a sort of "duh" resource but I also wanted to share my favorite boards with you! Pinterest is a wealth of information for pretty much topic in the world so it's a great place to go for tot school theme inspiration. I've got a board with general tot school tips and activities and then I've broken down the boards by theme: Occupations + Construction, Bible, Book Based, Transportation, Body Parts + About Me, Animals + Nature, Alphabet + Numbers, Colors + Shapes, Places + Events, and Seasons + Holidays. A few of the tot school boards that I follow include Let's Tot School, Tot School Ideas, and Simply Learning Tiny Tot School. If the idea of going through Pinterest and planning tot school lessons overwhelms you, Little City Tot School is the answer for you! Pinterest is still a great place for you to find DIY educational and FUN games to make for your kiddo.

Simply Learning Kids

Kaitlyn has a great list of theme ideas on Simply Learning Kids as well as curriculum ideas. Her lessons are great but I needed to keep the activities more affordable and I got too stressed trying to do it all and I wanted a set up that was a bit more organized.

Busy Toddler

This website is an amazing mecca of toddler-friendly activities. I mean seriously, I could spend hours on Susie's site browsing all of the fun ideas! She also has book recommendations, parenting tips and tricks, bath-time activities, activities perfect for summer, and so much more! You'll love her site, promise!

Your Vibrant Family

Your Vibrant Family has great tips related to homeschooling. Most posts relate mostly to older kids and grade school aged homeschooling but there are great tips for keeping things affordable, activities for kiddos, and school organization tips.

So mamas, do you do tot school with your little one? What resources help you plan out lessons and activities? 

5 Tips for Getting Your Hyperactive Toddler to Focus

My toddler is known at church for how active he is and how he runs from one thing to another. I love how active he is, it's who he is and it really is fun but sometimes it's frustrating when he doesn't just sit down and focus on a project for just a few minutes. I've tried every trick in the book for getting him to focus; from buckling him into the booster seat to yelling to bribery. I have learned a few tricks along the way that help him to focus on a project but he still doesn't sit and listen every single time--- he is a toddler after all. 

tips for getting your hyperactive
toddler to focus

1 - Be Patient and Calm

I am normally very patient but postpartum depression has made me extremely impatient with my two-year-old and when I’m anxious and easily frustrated by him, it makes him upset and there’s no way he’ll focus on a project. It takes practice to be patient with a hyperactive toddler, they just want to go from one thing to another as fast as they can and as adults that’s hard for us to understand. But it really is hard for them to slow down. The more patient and calm we are, the more patient and calm they will be. Check out these verses for parents of active toddlers (hint: they're focused around patience).

2 - Keep Trying

My son does best if we work on projects for short spurts of time with breaks in between. If they don’t follow directions the first time, try again in an hour after they’ve been able to get some play time in. This goes back to number one, you have to be patient and keeping trying with them. The more you try, the more they learn to sit and focus on one thing. I saw a huge change for the better as soon we started doing tot school last year. Having dedicated projects to do, helped my son to focus better but often we had to start and stop until he got the hang of things.

3 - Keep Distractions at a Minimum

Just to get my son to focus on eating his dinner we have to make sure the TV is of, his favorite toys are out of his line of sight, and  we have to make sure that there are no centerpieces on the table because he’ll just want to play with that and not eat.

4 - Keep Things Fun + Interesting

Make sure you are giving your toddler activities that are at their skill level and include things they enjoy. William will do anything if dinosaurs or Lightening McQueen is involved. And if a project is too hard he will become easily frustrated and easily distracted.

5 - Give Them Freedom Too

Children thrive in structure but it’s important to remember to give them freedom too. Because William is so hyperactive and independent, he tends to do best when he’s doing his own thing. The majority of our day is basically free time for him, he can play in the playroom on his little slide or line up his Hot Wheels or read books. He’s happiest when we let him do his thing and having that freedom to do what he wants really does help him focus better when we sit down to do a tot school activity. I think it just gives him a chance to do all the things that are running through his head so he’s not distracted by them when we start a project.

Everyday is a battle to get him to focus just long enough to eat a meal but applying these tricks does help. Remember to just keep trying, giving in and giving up won't help anyone, it takes perseverance to parent a toddler. It's only a season and someday they won't be toddlers anymore and you'll actually miss the crazy toddler years (or so I'm told).

Do you have any other tips for getting your hyperactive toddler to focus?!

One of the other big things that has helped William learn to focus has been doing tot school activities with him. Tot school is basically intentional play and crafting to entertain and educate your toddler. I actually really enjoy planning themed activities for us (in elementary school I was a super nerd and would make lesson plans just for sheer enjoyment (kind of like my obsession with schedules)) even though it takes a lot of time to research and plan it all. 

Then, one day I thought, "Hey, I like planning and doing tot school so much, why don't I come up with a way to share tot school plans with other mamas who want to intentionally educate their toddlers but don't know how or don't have the time to plan?!" Enter Little City Tot School.

Little City Tot School

Little City Tot School is a monthly service that plans your tot school activities so you can spend more 1:1 time with your toddler; teaching them, playing with them, and teaching them about Jesus. Every month you will get a list of 7 activities (along with instructions) for each week based around a theme, a different Bible story for each week, a list of apps, books, and movies that match the week's theme, and tips for how to intentionally educate your toddler as you go about your day. 

I'll give you ways to teach your toddler basic skills like the alphabet and numbers everyday and then you'll have an activity to do each day based on that week's theme. It's more than just activities, Little City Tot School is about being intentional with your toddler 24/7. You'll even be able to chat with the other moms who are doing the same tot school activities. Oh, and William and I will be doing the same activities alongside you, so you know it's gonna be good! I think it's also important to note that the activities I will have planned for you won't make you go broke. When you sign up for tot school you'll receive a shopping list of supplies to get, many you will probably already have at home and almost all of them can be purchased at the dollar store. We live on a budget too and since we're doing the activities with you, you can know that the activities will be budget friendly.

Does Little City Tot School sound cool to you? Little City Tot School is now open for enrollment and begins the first week of January, so you can start your New Year off right! I can't wait for you to join me in this awesome community of mamas who want to intentional teach their toddlers.

DIY | Stamped Napkins

We pretty much always use paper napkins in our house, we aren't really fancy people. But sometimes it's fun to be a little fancy. The easiest way to get fancy at the dinner table is to use cloth napkins. I thought it would fun to make a cute pattern to make those fancy cloth napkins a little bit more fun. So that's what I did!

Supplies

  • fabric paint or fabric markers
  • small stamps
  • sponge paint brush
  • fabric napkins or plain cotton bandanas 

Notes about the supplies: It doesn't matter what type of fabric paint you get (puffy or non-puffy paint), you'll be using such a thin amount of paint that it won't puff up or anything. Also I accidentally bought glow in the dark fabric paint. I didn't mean to make glow in the dark napkins. I would not suggest using glow in the dark paint because the constancy is a bit too watery and doesn't stamp well. And for the napkins you can use regular plain fabric napkins or plain cotton bandanas. Either one works and has the same effect.

Step One

Lay a napkin on a flat surface. If you are using fabric paint, pour some onto a plate and use the sponge brush to brush the paint onto your stamp. You don’t want it to be layered on the stamp too thickly. See the photo above.

Step Two

Firmly press the painted stamp onto the napkin. You will probably need to reapply paint each time. Repeat until you are happy with the pattern. If you are using a fabric ink pen, use the pen and color directly onto the stamp until it is covered in fabric ink. Follow the same steps for stamping as with the fabric paint.

Step Three

Let the paint or ink dry completely. Use the directions on your bottle of paint to set the paint and for washing.

If you make some cute stamped napkins, tag it with #littlecitycrafts so I can see it!

It's Okay Not To Be Okay After Six Weeks

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The thoughts in this post are based on my personal experiences. Always consult a doctor with medical (physical or mental) concerns.

As I write this, I am about 13 weeks postpartum with baby number two and this postpartum journey has been significantly harder than the first time. I have been dealing with some pretty bad postpartum depression and anxiety, on top of the anxiety disorder that I already have. So basically it’s been loads of fun.

According to americanpregnancy.org, 15% of new mothers experience postpartum depression and 10% deal with postpartum anxiety. Symptoms can occur anywhere from just a few days after delivery to a whole year after baby’s birth. If you even think you may have symptoms from one of these issues, please call your doctor immediately! Do not try to deal with it on your own, I cannot stress that enough! And do not feel guilty or embarrassed if you have postpartum depression or anxiety, it’s not your fault! I promise! Just ask your doctor for help so that you can feel normal again.

Here’s the thing, postpartum depression and anxiety can occur up to a year after baby is born but no one seems to talk about it after six weeks. And for me, my depression and anxiety did not start until after I had my six week appointment. Probably the only reason that I am okay is because I know the signs of anxiety and depression since I’ve been dealing with it for my entire life. Even though I’ve been dealing with it for basically the past 23 years, I still felt like it wasn’t okay for me to not be okay after six weeks.

This isn’t a rant but the way things are set up, most women never see their OB after six weeks. And we need them most after six weeks. And because we don’t see them after six weeks, sometimes we feel like we aren’t supposed to struggle once that “magical” six week mark has passed.

But I’m here to tell you that it is perfectly okay for you not to be okay after six weeks.

There is nothing wrong with you if you start dealing with postpartum depression, anxiety, or another postpartum disorder after six weeks.


It is completely normal, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Don’t be afraid to call your doctor at the smallest sign of anything related to postpartum depression/anxiety. They will see you and they won’t judge you. Promise. And if for some reason your doctor does make you feel stupid for being depressed, then you need to find a new doctor because depression and anxiety are not your fault.

The verse that helps me is John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
 

Those negative and destructive postpartum emotions are not what God desires for us. I repeat that verse over and over in my head, to remind me that this is not how God wants me to feel and that with Him, I can get through it.

Again, please call your doctor if you are experiencing even one or two symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety, even if it’s three months after delivery! Because it is okay not to be okay after six weeks.

Recipe for Toddler Approved Snack Mix

If you can't tell by those cute little toddler fingers, this snack mix is 100% toddler approved. Though I will admit that half the time, he just picks the chocolate and marshmallows out to eat, ha! That's a two-year-old for ya.

This is a great snack mix for you to put into small baggies or containers for your kiddo to grab whenever they're hungry. Actually, William woke up insanely early so my husband took him down to the living room so he could play and my husband could rest on the sofa. My husband fell asleep for like two minutes and woke up to find William sitting beside him, munching away on the giant bag of this snack mix. Someone forgot to lock the pantry and somehow William opened the bag by himself. Again, that's a two-year-old for ya. Ha!

The snack mix is easy to customize with your toddler's favorite snack foods (like popcorn, mini pretzels, that Pirate's Booty stuff, or goldfish crackers). And it lasts a super long time, as long as the bag or container it is stored in is sealed. 

If you and your little one make this mix, snap a photo and tag it with #littlecitykitchen so I can see it!

Toddler Approved Snack Mix