My kids are scientists - they learn by exploring. Everything. That hand soap over there? How many pumps can I fit in my hand? What does it feel like if I coat my hands and the sink in suds? How much rinsing does it take to get the bubbles off?
My kids are artists - they create using any medium. Anything they can find. That bar of soap on the dish? Surely that was meant for sculpting, right? What does it look like when I break it into bits? Can I make something new of those pieces mixed with water?
Because even a trip to the bathroom sink to wash hands after playing with chalk turns into a wondrous science experiment or artistic creation, I want to know exactly what is in my kids' hand soap. For me, making it myself offers just that option.
That said, for me to make ANYTHING myself it needs to be quick and easy.
Today, I’m sharing the simple DIY foaming hand soap recipe I use at all our sinks. In addition to being quick and simple to diy, this foaming hand soap makes it easy for little ones to work up a good lather. And, it is also extremely inexpensive, which means that when they decide to make foaming beards instead of washing hands, I don’t stress about wasted soap.
What you need:
Distilled water (Or boil tap water for 10 min and then cool.)
Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap (You only need a tiny bit, so one bottle lasts me years.)
Foaming bottle dispenser (If you have one from other soap, just give it a good rinse and fill it with your new diy version!)
What you do:
Because I use this to wash baby and kid hands, I choose the unscented baby castile soap. If you prefer scents, Dr. Bronner’s has many varieties available.
Did you try this DIY recipe? Share your thoughts below.
Are you looking for more ways to make your home eco-friendly for baby? Check out Nested Mama’s Eco Baby Consultations.
It’s no secret - I love summer adventuring with my kids. I live for packing a picnic, spending the day outside, napping the baby in a sling or on a blanket, and watching my kids tumble into bed heavy limbed and super sleepy from a summer day well-spent.
Today, I’m sharing a few of our favorite spots to creek stomp. These locations offer shallow waters easily accessible within a short hike from parking.
*Please note* summer rains can make creek beds swell and add currents that are unsafe for little walkers. Always offer careful, hands-on supervision of children around water.
Morgan Creek County Park, Palo
This park gets its name from the creek that winds throughout. The creek is most easily accessible by parking in the lower day use area parking and walking the trail north towards the campground. Once summer hits, make sure to pack bug spray, as the creek is popular with mosquitoes.
Pinicon Ridge County Park, Central City
To find this awesome creek stomping spot, take the park entrance south of the Wapsipinicon River. (The north entrance is for the campground.) Park at the trailhead for Woodpecker Hill trail (right before you reach the observation tower). Head down the trail about .5 miles until you reach “Horseshoe Falls” and a large wooden bridge. This limestone outcropping makes a fantastic spot for splashing. Pack water shoes or rain boots to avoid any sharp rocks.
Wapsipinicon State Park, Anamosa
Dutch Creek cuts through the park and may be accessed at several points. For an easy walk, park near the playground and walk the short distance to the creek. This makes a great opportunity to alternate between the hot surfaces of the playground and the cool water of the creek. This state park has several caves which can make for a fun family day of exploration.
Photo credit Kelli Eggert
Bever Park, Cedar Rapids
Between the barn at Old MacDonald’s Farm and the duck enclosure, you’ll cross a bridge over a shallow creek just right for mucking about. Pack a picnic and enjoy the nearby shelter or take a hike on the dirt trail just north of the ducks.
Photo credit Suzanne Halekas
When I am asked what foods can be nourishing and easy to prepare postpartum, sweet potatoes always top my list. I love that they are nutrient dense and have a pleasing hint of sweetness that makes a nice contribution in a variety of recipes.
As part of Nested Mama’s prenatal doula support services, I offer meal prep assistance to stock your freezer before baby. And postpartum, I’m happy to prepare you a hot meal and then hold your little one so you can eat it with two hands while it is still warm.
Today I’m sharing with you some of my favorite recipes that I make frequently in my house and recommend to my doula clients. All of these are low-effort and packed with veggies and protein - which makes them a double win.
Skillet Sweet Potato Chicken Hash with Eggs from Skinnytaste
This one-pan meal is packed with plenty of protein and nourishing sweet potato. It comes together quickly and requires minimal attention while cooking, which is ideal at busy times.
PO-TACOS from Weelicious
With a base of roasted sweet potatoes, Po-tacos are great for using up leftover chili, shredded chicken breast, or topped with a variety of meat, beans, cheese, guacamole, or whatever you have on hand. Our family really enjoys them with plain greek yogurt, ground sausage, pesto, and asparagus. And, it has the added bonus of letting your kiddos customize what toppings they like, which always increases mealtime enthusiasm at our house.
One-pan Sausage with Sweet Potato and Asparagus from Primavera Kitchen
I love a good sheet pan dinner - throw it in the oven and your work is done. Clean up is simple, too. Here, the flavors of the three ingredients pair so well and can be prepped in just a few minutes.
Crockpot Beef and Sweet Potato Stew
This stew also works well in the a pressure cooker, which means you can prep and freeze ahead of time. When ready to use, just a quick thaw and a drop in the pressure cooker give you a delicious stew with relatively little effort. The combo of cinnamon and apricots really sets this apart from other stews, making it a nutritious option for comfort food.
Got a favorite sweet potato recipe? I’d love to know! Drop it in the comments below.
Looking for prenatal or postpartum support. Find all of Nested Mama's services here.
As my kids get older, I’m starting to hear the the dreaded “I’m bored” more and more.
In general, I’m a big fan of boredom - I want my kids to have moments of quiet in their day, where their thoughts can run wild and imaginations flourish. Often, when I start to hear declarations of boredom, I find that just going outside gives them a change of scenery and the inspiration they need to get in a groove of exploration and creativity.
But, when caring for a new baby, I need my deck stacked with easy activities to supplement those quiet moments, especially activities that can be done indoors with relatively low prep and little cleanup.
One of my favorite resources that meets all of these criteria is Art Hub for Kids. These kid-friendly art tutorials often feature an adult and child working alongside each other. In particular, I love the drawing tutorials, because my kids can do the prep all on their own (grab out paper and markers) and clean up takes no time at all.
I also love how the tutorials say again and again that it is okay if the kids’ projects look different - that is just their own unique style. And, the tutorials gently emphasize practice, which I find an encouraging outlook for kids as they develop these skills.
In my experience around 4 or 5 is a good age for the simpler tutorials, but that will vary greatly on your child’s own development and interest. My middle child enjoyed watching and scribbling on his own paper or sticking stickers while his older sister did the tutorials. Now, as a young four year-old, a switch flipped and he’s on fire to learn to draw.
In any case, if it isn’t a hit at this moment for your child, you can always try again later when a few quiet minutes of art could do you both some good.
Looking for more suggestions for a better postpartum? Register for the next Nested Mama Planning for Postpartum Workshop on June 2 at Robinson Family Wellness in Coralville.
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Looking for new adventures with your kids this summer? Here is a list of our favorite parks in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and surrounding communities. So pack a picnic, slather up that sunscreen, and enjoy the season!
F.W. Kent Park, Oxford
Lots of shade and a large structure make this a great spot for a summer picnic. The lake is currently undergoing restoration during summer 2018, but when that is complete, keep this location in mind for a trip to the beach or a hike around the lake, too.
Noelridge Park, Cedar Rapids
This playground opened the Fall of 2017, and it offers features designed for ADA compliance. In addition to play, watch geese on the pond or walk across the bridge and enjoy the beautiful flowers of Noelridge Gardens.
Kiwanis Park, Iowa City
Surrounded by paved trails perfect for biking, triking, or a stroller, Kiwanis Park offers tons of sand, tunnels and a unique layout sure to inspire imaginative play. Don't forget to pack your sand toys!
Photo Credit Becca Dirks
Tiffin City Park, Tiffin
A large tree-theme structure and nearby splash pad make this park a popular one for summer adventures. Bring a stroller or trike and enjoy the trail that continues behind the baseball fields.
Mercer Park, Iowa City
This park offers a large structure with unique features, sure to entertain kids of a variety of ages. For those nostalgic for a merry-go-round from your childhood, Mercer Park includes that, too!
Photo Credit Becca Dirks
Beaver Kreek Park, North Liberty
Recently renovated, the park includes an updated structure, zip-line, sand, and shallow creek, all surrounded by large trees. Because it is ringed by homes and buildings, this park feels like an oasis. Pack a picnic and have fun!
Richardson, Cheryl. The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time. 6th ed. New York: Hay House, Inc., 2012. Print.
With Nested Mama Bookshelf, I offer short reviews on books related to Pregnancy, Birth, Postpartum, and Parenting.
In a nutshell:
Richardson offers a 12-month plan for you to take on the project of “extreme” self-care. As a buzzword, self-care can denote anything from a chocolate biscuit to a 10-day trip to some exotic location. What makes Richardson’s view “extreme”? Rather than a bucket list, Richardson’s plan overhauls how you see yourself, your time, and your worth. Emphasizing boundaries, rituals, and an honest look at your values, Richardson (gently) calls out the reader’s tendencies to blame obligations or others for stress and unhappiness.
Richardson writes, “To practice Extreme Self-Care, you must learn to love yourself unconditionally, accept your imperfections, and embrace your vulnerabilities” (10). Simply put, this is a project not for a year, but for a lifetime.
While the cover art made me doubt that I was the book’s target market, the book’s content felt like it was written just for me. More than that, she was writing ABOUT me.
For example, Richardson writes in the first chapter, “When you hear yourself complaining, ‘No one appreciates the things I do,’ what you most likely mean is: ‘I take on way too much hoping someone will notice and tell me how good I am or how grateful they are’” (5).
Has she been spying on me?! Truly, so many of the examples resonated with an honest look at my own behaviors and feelings.
Other quotations of note:
“So many of us, especially women, have taken on this ‘noble’ role. What we don’t realize-until it’s too late-is the high price we pay for being ‘so generous’. . . a price extracted from our very bones” (x).
“For example, I had to stop being a martyr and focus on getting my needs met. I had to stop expecting others to read my mind and start being direct about what I wanted. I was challenged to try to ask for help before I needed it” (xi).
“The truth is this: if your life is chaotic, your schedule is overcrowded, and your brain is too full to think straight, the key to reclaiming your life has a lot more to do with what you remove from your life than how you organize it” (44).
In some respects, as a mom of three little ones, I felt that implementing her 12-month plan may be out of reach in this season of life. But, if you are looking for accountability and encouragement as you learn to set boundaries, say no, or embrace those things you truly value, she provides a resource to do just that.
Are you beginning your family and looking for ways to carve out space and boundaries? Check out Nested Mama’s upcoming Planning for Postpartum Workshop June 2, 2:00-4:00 p.m. at Robinson Family Wellness in Coralville.
Looking for more support before and after baby? Learn more about Nested Mama doula services here.
Our cultural moment is an odd one. Things we laud - bouncing back after baby, returning to our pre-baby body (as though we could ever truly be the same), and getting back to our normal obligations as soon as possible after the birth of a baby.
We also speak highly of so-called “good” babies - those babies that “don’t make a fuss,” those babies that are “happy to be put down,” and those mythical babies that “sleep through the night” within weeks of birth - as though these little markers of supposed independence are the ultimate indicators of a baby’s relative goodness or future successes or the trajectory of an entire parenting journey.
Oof. That's a crushing amount of pressure.
Recently, in a continuing education webinar with Julia of Newborn Mothers Collective, I learned something fascinating. In cultures that still embrace the postpartum period as one that requires specific care and traditions, the expectations for that 40-day period immediately following the birth of a baby are straightforward. Mothers are to feed their babies and to fall in the love with them.
This is simultaneously an incredibly simple and complex idea of the postpartum period to carry out. For truly, just resting, bonding with baby, and meeting baby’s needs for food and comfort can fill your days postpartum. But, juxtaposing this view of postpartum against the way the term is most commonly used in our culture (that is, laden with the expectation that you cruise out of those postpartum days and leave behind that postpartum body with little acknowledgement of the tiny, completely dependent-upon-you human you have just birthed), the radical differences in these approaches to life after baby emerge with clarity.
Given these cultural pressures and a lack of tradition in our contemporary moment to meet our needs on the other side of a birth, what can we do if we want to embrace a different definition of postpartum? Start with a postpartum plan.
So, what is a postpartum plan?
A postpartum plan is like a birth plan, where you learn as much as you can about the process of postpartum recovery and demands of newborn care, explore your options with evidence-based information, and together with your partner or support person, craft a statement communicating your wishes with those who care for you in the days and weeks after baby arrives.
Just like a birth plan, the postpartum plan is made with the understanding that life can be unpredictable and postpartum life can come with different situations that need different levels of adaptability and care. But, a postpartum plan also brings with it the understanding that having the ability to make choices for your family and being supported in those choices matter immensely.
Perhaps most profoundly, a postpartum plan offers the opportunity for you to connect with your partner and dig deep into your priorities. Forming your own family unit comes with the sudden need to establish and communicate boundaries with family and friends. A postpartum plan aids you in thinking through your needs as a little family and how to create boundaries that help you flourish.
Additionally, a postpartum plan offers you the chance to think through and engage your support team ahead of time. Who can bring you meals, help with older siblings, or grab you groceries after you return from the hospital? Who can walk the dog or care for pets while you are in-hospital? Who can come and hold the baby for a bit while you take a hot shower or grab a much need nap? Who can you call or text when you need to reach out for support?
By creating a postpartum plan, you are creating the space and building the support essential for a better postpartum experience. Rather than rush through it as though a race to the finish, you can prioritize what matters to your family and savor the first days and weeks with your little one. While we can’t change our culture’s view of postpartum with a snap of our fingers, we can do all in our power to embrace a different view of postpartum in our own lives.
Do you want to make a postpartum plan but don’t know where to start? I’m thrilled to share that I offer a Planning for Postpartum Workshop as part of Nested Mama’s services.
Available in private and group settings, these workshops combine education about the physical and emotional realities of the postpartum period with a workshop that steps you and your partner through the conversations you need to craft a postpartum plan that works perfectly for your little family.
Workshop topics include:
Finding Joy - acknowledging yourself and your partner
Setting Expectations - understanding postpartum recovery
Bringing Baby Home - understanding infant behavior
Setting Boundaries - charting your vision for postpartum life
Intimacy After Baby - deepening your connection as a couple
For information on the next workshop or webinar or to register, click here.
Overwhelmed by all the choices when it comes to preparing your home for baby? Want to make decisions in line with your values and concerns but don't know where to start?
I'm thrilled to share that I completed my EcoBaby Certification with Bebo Mia and Green at Home and now offer personalized consultations. We start with what matters most to you and make sure you have all the resources you need to make informed choices for your family.
Want to learn more? Visit the Nested Mama site for more info, and check out the tips in the infographic below.
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.