A long time ago, I set an alert to tell me when the OK to Wake clock went down in price. Then we went ahead and bought one before any sales happened and haven’t looked back since. But for the last week, camelcamelcamel.com has been alerting me of the latest low price, and I keep wanting to share this exciting sale with someone… but who? And then I thought of someone who might appreciate this information: YOU!
So today I’m here to share about this, and some other sanity savers that I hear myself talking about a lot. There are a gazillion amazing products for kids out there, but here are some of my unsung heroes. Some I came across by chance, and some are recommended by loads of people. What they all have in common is that they are beneficial for my children while also making my days smoother and happier.
1. OK to Wake Clock ($21-30)
After recommending this about 100 times to my friends, I figured it was worth a mention on my blog. Sure, $30 is a lot to drop for a for a kid alarm clock. But here is the big question for you: How much would you pay for an extra 20 minutes of sleep every morning? Try asking yourself that again tomorrow at 5:30am when your two year old is clamoring for you, and you’ll see why this clock has become one of my FAVORITE THINGS IN THE WORLD.
It comes down to this: my daughter cannot tell time yet. So if I said, “Stay in bed until 7am,” she would have no idea when that was. She would probably wake me up at 6am every morning to ask if it was 7am yet. BUT if I said, “Stay in bed until the light turns green,” then she waits until the light turns green before getting out of bed (or before calling out to us, back when she was still in her crib). THAT’S IT. IT’S SUPER. I set the clock to turn green at the same time every morning, and use it as a napping clock in the afternoon (which uses an independent countdown timer).
I have so many good things to say about this clock, but I’ll just tell you this for now: The other day, we were all wiped out from a long day. I put her down for a nap. I set the nap timer for our usual 1h20 minutes and then left her room. I would at least get that 1h20m of peace, and she’d get that 1h20m of rest time. Even though I knew she was wiped out (she had been rubbing her eyes and yawning for half an hour prior to nap time), I saw her moving around in bed for the first hour, clearly awake. I prepared myself for a no-nap kind of evening (ugh) and started wrapping up my activities at the 1h15m mark.
THEN at 1h18m, right as I was ready to receive an overtired and un-napped preschooler, I saw it. She. Was. Sleeping. This happy truth was confirmed when the green light turned on at the 1h20m mark and she did not stir. She proceeded to sleep for the next hour, which means I WON. It was amazing. I mean, she is amazing too, but there’s nothing like some extra me-time (and a well-rested toddler!).
True story. I promise the OK to Wake people didn’t ask me to write this. I just want to share the love/sleep with my fellow sleep-deprived parents!!
Note: At the time of writing this, the clock’s price has gone down to $21! That’s pretty good.
2. Dry-erase tracing book ($8)
We have purchased a number of books from children’s book publisher Usborne and enjoyed them all a lot so far! Last year, I hosted an Usborne “party” (on Facebook) to support my friend’s new side gig as a consultant, but I am thinking about hosting one again because I really love our Usborne books that much and want to share the bookwormy love!
Our current favorites are the wipe-clean books. About half a year ago, I let my daughter have a go at the “beginning pen control” tracing book and even though her lines were rather squiggly, she LOVED IT and spent at least 30 minutes of focused silence working on it the first day. And the second. And the third. And the I LOVE THIS THING.
Last week, she became super motivated to learn her numbers when I introduced the dry-erase dot-to-dot book, and we’ve been having a really fun time learning numbers and connecting dots to make pictures! Totally worth the $8!
3. Toddler scissors ($3.50)
I actually had prepared a whole post about this a while back, but I guess I can condense it down to these main points:
4. Hide ‘Em in Your Heart CD of Bible verses
My mom buys these for new parents whenever she gets the chance, and for good reason. My brother and I grew up listening to these songs from childhood, and to this day, these are the Bible verses I know best.
I still remember the first ball game I played with my new CYO girls’ basketball team in middle school that my friend invited me to. At the time, I didn’t know that our team name, “Transfiguration” had anything to do with Jesus or that “CYO” stood for Catholic Youth Organization. I just knew that when they gathered us in a circle before the game began, everyone started reciting the Lord’s Prayer. After I got over my initial shock of, “Why is everyone suddenly chanting together…” and moved on to, “Wait, this sounds familiar!” I realized that, “Hey, I know these words!” And the rest of the verses rolled off my tongue like I had known it all my life… probably because I had known it all my life, thanks to Disc 1, Track 7: Our Father in Heaven. I guess the words really were hidden in my heart!
Today, we play the songs while we drive and I still remember the first time my then-baby girl requested her first song ever: “Up! Up! Up up up!” (Disc 2, Track 2: Encourage One Another). At night in the darkness of her room, we have heard her singing, “When I am afraid I will trust in You,” to herself, and on more than one occasion I have reminded her that the Bible tells us to do all things without complaining or arguing (applying it to myself as well!).
I have memorized a few more verses since my childhood, but those lines took considerably more effort to memorize than simply listening to songs as a child. I also appreciate how the little introduction given for each song helps tie the verses back to a child’s real life. Another bonus: IMHO, these songs are relatively not annoying to listen to.
When I was pregnant again two years ago, I spent way. too. much. time trying to figure out what to do about the stroller situation. As a stay at home mom, I would need to take the two along with me everywhere, from the grocery store to amusement parks to the mall. My daughter was one at that time, and not yet able to walk the miles and miles she can handle now. What would be the best stroller for our lifestyle? A double stroller (hmm… side by side or tandem?). Or just carry the baby in the baby carrier and push the toddler in the stroller? Or… just make the one year old improve her walking endurance and push the baby in the stroller?
I’ll spare you my detailed inner monologue (which I just spent ten minutes typing out (and then deleting) just now) to tell you this: it was complicated, and I ended up toting THREE STROLLERS around everywhere the first year. Thank you, Minivan.But you know what we carry around in the car now? One stroller with a glider board attachment. The heavier Sit and Stand tandem stroller sits in the garage most of the time. The glider board attachment allows my daughter to hop on and off easily (no straps!), tucks away easily when not in use, and adds relatively little weight to our existing City Mini stroller. She loves it. You do have to adjust your stride a bit so you don’t kick the board, and the entire stroller is a bit harder to wield when you have both kids on, but it’s still my favorite stroller option 95% of the time.
If you’re thinking about buying one of these, I’d say the main thing to keep in mind is that if your child has a bad experience with it early on, they might be too scarred to try again and then your investment may go to waste. I noted that some of the negative reviews came from parents whose children fell while stepping off the glider board unannounced, and then didn’t want to get back on again. I took note of that and did “glider board training” with my daughter at a park the first time I introduced it to her. I made it a point to train her to communicate every single time she wanted to get on and off. To this day, she makes a trolley “ding ding!” sound when she is ready to alight the stroller. Cheesy, but effective.
Wow, I had a lot to say about those things. I promise guys, these things have made this past year a better one for me. These items brought moments of peace and harmony in my day. They are items that buy me much-needed down time, help my children grow, and bring happiness to the family (sometimes in the form of sleep!). I talk about them with my friends all the time, so it seemed only right to share away here, too, with my reader friends! 🙂
If you’ve got some life-saver items happening in your home, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!