Mom Hack: Themed Bins

Mom Hack: Themed Bins

By: Natasha Grogan, Founder of Playful By Design

Themed bins are one of my all time favorite toy organization hacks. Since I tend to keep my toys to a minimum and only have select ones out at a time, I love having clear bins to organize our themed toys. It is super easy:

1- Collect all of the books that you have on the topic.

2- Collect toys that you have related to that topic.

3- Print out coloring pages on the theme online.

What do you get in return? A wonderful curated bin that fills hours of fun. As an educator, I believe in project-based learning but my daughter is only two, so we do not do formal learning projects yet. Instead, I create themed “Learning Bins” for her. These are simply bins that have one main theme and contain all of the toys, puzzles and books that we have on that theme. This approach offers her to explore and learn through play and literacy.

A wonderful place to begin when creating these bins is to think of your child’s interests. If your child loves dogs, then a bin full of plastic toy dogs, fake bones, doggie dishes and books are a wonderful bin to pull out on a rainy day. Does your child love dinosaurs? Then dinosaur figurines, books and even baking soda for volcano making creates a fun dinosaur learning bin.

We also love our zoo bin. We were gifted with a zoo membership and go every couple weeks. My daughter loves zoo day and her excitement can be a bit over the top on our zoo days as she waits to go. This was until I had the idea of creating a zoo bin. I usually set out all of the books and toys on her bookshelf to surprise her the morning that we will be heading to the zoo. She squeals with delight and plays with all of her Zoo Learning Bin toys until it is time to go.

Ready to get nerdy with me? The child-development researcher in me can’t help but mention all of the benefits of project-based learning. When you design themed studies, children are able to really work on their critical thinking and analysis skills as they compare books. It offers the opportunity to learn through multiple learning styles and avenues. It provides an opportunity to embrace children’s interests. Do you want one more, not as research based benefit? It is a total parent sanity saver!

About the Author: Natasha Grogan, Founder of Playful by Design

Hello there. I am so glad that you have come into my playful, simplicity seeking space. I have always had an entrepreneur’s mind with an educator’s heart. I am a nature loving mama of a sweet little girl.  I am also a lucky wife to my hard-working college sweetheart, Zach.

When I’m not playing with Lydia, I sneak in some work. You see, I’m a self proclaimed child development nerd. I love learning about developmental levels and how the activities and environment that we create effects our brain function.  I believe that childhood should be cherished, dirt is meant to be played in and songs are meant to be sung.

I research, I consult and I pour my heart into helping others learn mindful ways to help their little ones play and grow. My focus is on helping families create a happy home through gentle habit formation, family rhythm and minimalism.

And just in case you were wondering… I can be bribed by black coffee, raspberries and salvage wood furniture.

Here are links to follow Natasha’s blog, Facebook and Instagram!

Your Best Birth: Tips from a Birth Doula | Meraki Mama Collective

For the vast majority of us, preparing for birth includes choosing a place of birth and what medical interventions we do and don’t want. But birth is so much bigger than that. Medical interventions aside, you will need to be well-versed in comfort measures to help manage discomfort, reduce stress, and create an environment that you feel safe and able to birth in. It’s said that all mammal mamas require five things to give birth: darkness, silence, safety, warmth, and privacy. Just like the cat who hides to birth, these five qualities of a birth environment help the birthing person to relax and surrender to the surges and sensations that bring us baby. It doesn’t matter whether you are planning for a home birth or an epidural, comfort measures can help you attain your best environment to help labor progressing, with a positive experience for mama!

Set the scene

As a doula, the first things that do after I check in with the mother in labor are to dim the lights, turn on some gentle spa music, and get my essential oils out. These simple steps can really change the mood of the room dramatically. It can take a hospital room and make it more intimate and more home-like. I use a mixture of lavender and clary sage during labor as both oils help the birthing person to relax and feel safe, which in turn helps labor for stalling. Although oils are natural, be mindful that the scent may be too much while in labor, try a little on washcloth or cotton ball before you start a diffuser. Another way to set the scene is asking your birth partner to tell staff not to talk to you during contractions, and to keep chatter to a minimum. This really protects your space, and the energy in the room.

Managing Discomfort

I hear so many women say, “Just give me the epidural,” solely relying on the epidural for pain relief. Let me tell you, this is not always the best plan. For one, you’ll want to labor as long as you can without it, to get baby moving downward using gravity, think hips swaying, walking, and sitting on a birth ball. This will help your labor to progress, as epidurals will slow down your labor. Also, the anesthesiologist is not always readily available, and they don’t always relieve 100% of the pain.

  • Change positions: This is huge. Familiarize yourself with different positions, a doula is a great resource in your labor to offer up position options. Squatting, hands and knees, leaning on your partner, sitting on a birth ball, or standing up and swaying. If you’re not hiring a doula, find a print out of positions and bring it with you as cheat sheet for your partner.
  • Hip squeeze: An old Midwife and doula trick, this can not only relieve pressure, but create space for baby to move down in the birth canal. Placing the heal of the hands into the soft spot on the buttocks and pressing inward. Most moms love this, and like lots of pressure too.
  • Sacrum press: Placing the heal of the hand on the sacrum and pressing in can create counter pressure to baby pushing on mom’s sacrum and tailbone, think back labor.
  • Heating pad: This is great for early labor (and for afterbirth cramps too). Just how it relieves cramp pain during your menstrual cycle, it can relieve discomfort, so you can rest during early labor.
  • Ice pack/Cold cloth: Most women are so appreciative of cold cloths during labor. The hormones and chemicals in the body can create hot flashes, and this is a fast and easy way to soothe mama. You can freeze wet washcloths, or if in the hospital, as for a basin, fill it with ice. Then ask for 4-5 washcloths and put all of them in the ice. This way, as you use one, and it warms up on mom’s forehead, back, or neck, you have a fresh one right away to switch out!
  • Hydrotherapy: I once had a client say, “I never knew water could feel so good,” while laboring in the shower. It’s true, water can be so therapeutic. Standing or sitting on a birth ball or stool, and let the water fall on your back, belly or all over your body. Remember to keep the water warm, but not too hot, and take breaks.

Although there are so many more ways to bring safety, relaxation, and respect to the birthing space, this is a great place to start. Hiring a doula may be the best way to ensure all of these options are available to you, and that your partner feels supported and confident in the process.

About the Author:

Lauren Shields, CD(DONA), RPYT, Founder of Meraki Mama Collective

Meraki means the soul, creativity or love put into something; the essence of yourself that is put into your work. Meraki Mama Collective is a space for women to gather + find community. A space that supports and empowers women to develop positive, healthy visions of their bodies as they transition through pregnancy, birth, + into motherhood.

Lauren is passionate about working with individuals and couples in helping to empower women to trust their bodies and their instincts throughout pregnancy and into motherhood, serving as their advocate + holding space during this sacred transition.

The Meraki Mama Collective studio opens on May 12th in Atlanta, GA! Follow Lauren on Instagram and Facebook for inspiration and updates!

Rhythm and Structure: The Benefits of Music Therapy for Kids with ADHD

Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) need help developing a sense of structure and organization. Problems associated with the disorder include an inability to concentrate and focus on tasks; difficulty listening to direction; and a tendency to be restless and intrusive, among other symptoms. Parents have to be careful about how they organize their child’s daily routines. School can be a significant problem for ADHD kids, who often have trouble completing assigned tasks.

There are many therapeutic treatment approaches for kids with ADHD, but music is uniquely effective at helping them overcome symptoms that can cause trouble in their social and school lives. In fact, few things help instill structure like music, with its combination of rhythms and melodies. Researchers have found that musical exercises can improve an ADHD child’s attention, motor skills and academic performance.


“Music is rhythm, rhythm is structure, and structure is soothing to an ADHD brain struggling to regulate itself to stay on a linear path,” writes Anni Layne Rodgers, ADDitude Magazine. It’s been shown that children can benefit simply by clapping or tapping their feet along to the beat of a song. Kids who undergo music therapy interact with music by playing rudimentary instruments such as drums, cymbals and wooden sticks.

The intrinsic social quality of music is also helpful, as children keep time together and contribute their individual creativity to the achievement of a larger objective: The performance of a piece of music.


Differences in tempo and melody can encourage desired behaviors, calming or stimulating a child’s cognitive and motor functions depending on the song. For example, playing an up-tempo song can help a child burn off pent-up energy, while a slow, relaxing piece of music can help them settle down for meals or bedtime. In fact, changing rhythms periodically can help ADHD children focus because it causes them to pay attention to changes in time and alters their physiological reaction.

As such, music can help children learn to listen and concentrate. Playing music requires them to pick up on changes in tempo, and anticipate changes in melody and harmony. Kids also benefit from having a “voice,” a creative outlet that’s heard alongside others. Exposing your child to such an experience by hiring a certified music therapist can be a little expensive. Fortunately, there are many ways you can incorporate music into your everyday life. 

Create a ‘soundtrack’

Record a list of songs your child likes preferably, one that features different rhythms and styles,   and find ways to incorporate it in your daily routine. Play calming music when you’re sitting down to dinner, or something more upbeat when it’s time to do chores, homework or on the way to school in the morning. Sing along with your child, especially when his favorite tunes come on. Consider writing a song with your child, something you can both play and sing when he needs a little mood boost. Let him experiment with different kinds of music. Classical, jazz and certain kinds of rock are good choices, though avoid more aggressive forms of rock.


Learning to play music restructures brain functioning in positive ways. Encourage your child to try an instrument and play in the school band. Kids benefit considerably from the experience, which provides the structure and socialization they need, as well as self-discipline and self-confidence. Be sure to do some research before buying or renting an instrument. You can consult with an expert at your local music store.

A touchstone

Music can be incorporated into your daily routine quite easily. For a child with ADHD, it’s a touchstone in the midst of what can be a confusing and chaotic world. Those who are exposed to music and learn to play an instrument boost their sense of well-being and confidence and often do better in school.

About the Author:

Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.

Visit Ashley’s website for further information and resources!


Using Essential Oils in Pregnancy | Distill + Express


Hello YMS family!

It’s Jamie Sabat, founder of Distill + Express, a health and wellness community in DC, back to chat with you about essential oils and safety. I get so many questions from mamas about natural solutions during pregnancy. My first stop is with Doterra Essential oils.

I’m here to share tips and tricks for all you natural mamas. I turned to natural solutions with my last pregnancy and realized there are so many ways to use essential oils. They are pure, yet highly effective! Check out this list of recipes to aid you on your journey into motherhood.

Breast tenderness is one of the first symptoms of pregnancy, and it is a gift that keeps on giving! This “Tender Ta-Tas” blend is a must for the entire pregnancy and after.

  • Clary Calm for hormonal balance
  • Grapefruit for breast & uterine issues
  • Lavender is a natural analgesic that’s relaxing and soothing
  • Ylang Ylang is great for combating hormonal imbalance.

Anyone ever have problems with digestion? One of the most common symptoms of pregnancy is constipation and affected me.

  • Digestzen works great for upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, heartburn and acid indigestion/reflux.
  • In a 10ml roller bottle combine 5 drops of the DigestZen and roll on your belly bottom. This blend works in just a couple minutes. You can also add a couple drops of DigestZen in your water or Veggie capsule if you prefer.


Then you suddenly feel so tired. I’ve been taking my LLV and it’s been a life saver, but when I’m feeling extra tired (which can happen from time to time during pregnancy), this blend does the trick and picks me right up!

  • Citrus Bliss is very uplifting and helps combat low Energy & Exhaustion
  • Peppermint is invigorating and helps increase Alertness & Energy
  • Elevation is “happiness in a bottle” and helps Energize & Refresh.
  • Combine these 3 oils in a 10ml roller bottle (5 drops of each). Apply on the palm of your hands, rub together, and inhale. You can also diffuse this combo. It smells amazing!

Are any of you experiencing swelling? You get to a certain point in your pregnancy where shoes are not fitting- YAY! This means not only is it time to increase my water and protein intake, but the combination of the two products below will help you support your body, keep that fluid circulating, and combat aches and pains that so often accompany this magical time in our lives.

  • Deep Blue Rub – this has been a life saver for me since I’ve been pregnant (and before)! This “Physical Therapist in a bottle” is SUPER cooling and soothing when you’re feeling pressure (due to swelling or anything), aches, pains, etc. I just love how it feels and absorbs so quickly into my skin.
  • AromaTouch blend also works amazingly for muscle aches, poor circulation, muscle tension, soreness and cramps. It also promotes feelings of comfort and relaxation.
  • Apply a little Deep Blue rub on the palm of your hand and add 1-2 drops of AromaTouch, rub together, and apply. This combination feels heavenly and your ankles and swollen feet will thank you later.


I also had the worst morning sickness. I had a hard time at the beginning of my pregnancy with morning sickness and it lasted the entire time. I tried many different oils and supplements, but this regimen helped me the most:

  • I increased the amount of TerraZymes I would normally take to: two capsules with an empty stomach and one with my meals. Giving your body (the right) enzymes can help your digestive system big time.
  • Cardamom behind my ears and neck. It blocks the receptor pathways of nausea (aka. Makes you feel less nauseous)
  • Peppermint I just inhale straight from the bottle- this helps a lot of things, including giving you a little boost from your yucky feelings
  • Ginger in my tea also helps block the receptor pathways of nausea.
  • Slim & Sassy chewing gum was a life saver for me. I would take everywhere with me and it was such a great relief.

Here are a couple morning sickness/nausea blends to help you out during this not fun time:

  • In a 10ml roller bottle combine 5 drops of Peppermint, Cardamom, and Lavender. Apply to back of your neck and behind ears. This blend save me big time
  • Spray/Mist in a 4oz spray bottle add 10 drops of Peppermint, Lemon and Wild orange. Shake well and spray. This spray helps to stay calm, energize and uplift during this time.


If you’re interested in learning more about natural solutions for you and your family, message me on my FB page, Distill + Express.

About the Author:

Jamie Sabat is the Founder of Distill + Express, a health and wellness community and mother of two little ones, James and Mila. Jamie and her husband, Michael, happily moved from NYC after their son was born and have relocated to Washington DC, looking for a slower pace of life.

She started working on Distill + Express to provide healthy solutions for her family. Her desire to live naturally and use essential oils as her main health solution comes from her love for them. She wants her family unit to be happy and the healthiest they can be. Now, her family uses oils to clean the house, fight a cold and rock themselves gently to sleep – all with natural solutions. What a great feeling!









BeautyCounter Q&A with Stephanie Hedge

BeautyCounter Q&A with Stephanie Hedge


We are thrilled to share this Q&A with a mom we adore, Stephanie Hedge! Stephanie is Mama to 3 adorable kiddos, Wife to Joel, and a BeautyCounter (BC) consultant in Greenville, SC. As mamas, we are ALWAYS on the hunt for safe products for ourselves and our little ones. If you’ve heard of BC and want to know more, here’s your chance!


For those of you who don’t know, what is Beauty Counter (BC)?

BC is a company on a mission to put safer products into the hands of everyone.  As it pertains to the beauty and personal care industry, BC is constant advocator for regulatory change and only develop products that are safe and high performing for women and their families.  BC is committed to a health and safety standard that is far beyond what is legally required in the US.  We pioneered the “never-list” that now comprises over 1,500 questionable or harmful ingredients that will never be used in BC products.  The presence of these ingredients in the market is the reason BC is so active in their push for change.


When did you first learn about BC?  When was the moment that you decided that you wanted to try BC yourself?

A friend posted about BC’s summer offerings and it immediately caught my attention as I was looking for a safer sunscreen for my young boys.  I was also pregnant at the time, my skin was a mess and I wanted a regimen that would work but that I could use worry free.  I did some reading on BC and the industry and realized that I could be making better choices about the products I was using and putting on my family.  I borrowed a consultant’s kit (that at the time only consisted of a basic skin and hair care line) and after spending a couple of days using the products, I was hooked!


BC has a wonderful mom following, why do you think that is?

Because it’s a great company, with a great mission.  As moms, I think we are hardwired to take care and protect.  Health and safety awareness is increasing and armed with a little knowledge, it’s hard to not want better for ourselves and our families.  BC aligns with these concerns and offers moms peace of mind not only with their beauty and personal care product offering, but also with the overall efforts they make to put safer products into the hands of everyone.


How has pursuing running your own business through BC positively affected you?

It gave me something that was just for me. It can be challenging to find a balance between yourself and being mom.  Having this opportunity with Beautycounter I don’t have to compromise anything.  It allows me freedom to keep a flexible schedule for my family all while contributing financially as well as being a part of something positive.


What are your words of advice for moms when trying to launch a business like BC?

Don’t feel like you have to know everything right from the start. Someone once said “they would rather be ignorance on fire than knowledge on ice.” Sometimes you just gotta go for it!  And then there is the hestitation of time. That was my biggest hang up. Did a mom of 3 have enough time to begin a new business? I realized quickly, I did! That’s the beauty of BC, it can easily conform to your life. You work this business how it best suits you. Making small pockets of time available for it (think naptime, carline, etc.) can set you up for success.


What is your mom hack?

We use Sunday’s as our prep day.  We grocery, laundry, food prep, school prep and clean!  It makes you feel ready for a new week! Also getting up and getting myself ready for the day before little feet hit the floor definitely makes for an easier day…..til the little feet need breakfast!


You get an hour to yourself…..what would be the ideal way to spend it?

That’s easy……give myself a quick manicure (I love to paint my nails) and look on Pinterest and pin things I’ll never do!


How do you juggle it all, and find your balance?

The juggle comes down to having a good routine for the daily grind and I find balance with my family…….and the occasional night out with the hubs.


What’s your favorite BC product and why?

Nourishing Cleansing Balm hands down.  It’s the ultimate multi-tasker which is so great for busy moms.  It’s a cleanser, a make-up remover, and an overnight treatment and that’s only naming a few.

For kiddos, it’s the Baby Daily Protective Balm!


If you could say one thing about BC to our mom audience, what would it be?

Start simple.  Like me, try the sunscreen!  Read labels and empower yourself through the information available. Swap out potentially harmful products for ones that are safer and worry free. Small changes, can make a big impact!


For more information on BC products or to connect with Stephanie, please follow her on Facebook or visit her website!

No Body is Perfect | Mary-Catherine Riner, PhD

Does your physical appearance dictate your self-worth, confidence, or happiness level? In today’s society, it is all too common for magazines to use Photoshop and airbrushed images, which ultimately leads to unrealistic expectations and unattainable standards. Likewise, how often do you hear people arguing and bickering about the size of their bodies, asking if this makes ‘me’ look too fat, or stating that they should skip dessert? Other individuals may make body comparisons, decline social invitations due to self-doubts, or try on 20 different outfits before feeling somewhat satisfied. Each are indicators of someone who may be experiencing poor body image—which to often leads to eating disorders and other emotional problems. To improve your self-worth, consider these 5 body image boosters.

Consider the functions and purposes of your body. Create a gratitude list of what your body allows you to do on a daily basis, such as playing an instrument, walking to get the newspaper, dancing at concerts, lifting groceries, walking up stairs, or typing an email to a friend. Your body gives you life, breath, and mobility. It also allows you to communicate through crying, laughing, and smiling. Consider your body your personal automobile, asking yourself if you want to fuel it up with positive self-talk or run on empty with negative self-talk. This will also help build self-acceptance.

 Change your language and environment. Negative body image talk only fuels negative feelings and emotions about our bodies and ourselves. Invite people into your life who provide support and who see beyond physical characteristics and attributes. When you hear other women and men bashing and shaming their bodies, challenge their statements or indicate your discomfort with that topic. Change the focus because negative body talk is contagious. Rather than meeting a friend for lunch or shopping, consider a different context such as a bookstore or park.

Use your voice. Tell others when hearing comments about physical appearance and weight negatively influence you. This doesn’t have to be communicated in an aggressive way, but rather in a gentle and compassionate way that builds and encourages all parties involved. Other ways for self-expression are to journal or to write sticky notes describing what makes you unique outside of weight and physical attributes. No two people are alike, so consider your other achievements and positive qualities. Ask friends and family for what they admire and respect about you. Repeat to yourself that a number on a scale or the size of a body part is not indicative of your self-worth.


Listen to your body and its’ needs. It is easy for humans to fall into the comparison trap. The problem is that we all have different needs. Are you choosing a lighter meal or salad because your friend is, or because that is really what is best for you? Someone who exercises or is more active on a day-to-day basis will need more fuel than someone who is less active. The problem is that we often don’t see the full picture and that is when comparisons can become self-defeating. Likewise, healthy eating does not equal dieting. Before going with the pack, take a step back and listen to your body and its needs.

End unhealthy relationships. If friends or significant others make negative comments and fuel an unhealthy dialogue with yourself, consider taking a break or limiting toxic interactions. Life is too precious to spend it with people who make you feel bad about yourself, who don’t appreciate your positive qualities, and who are only focused on the external appearances. This also serves as an act of self-care and personal empowerment—you have the power and control to decide whom you hang out with and for how long. Choose wisely and choose people who love you unconditionally.


For more support, consider scheduling an appointment with a local psychologist or counselor. Talking about these concerns with an objective perspective can also be beneficial. Professionals can help you better identify between an unhealthy and healthy voice, and help you achieve a more realistic self-image.

About the Author, Mary-Catherine Riner, PhD

Mary-Catherine Riner, PhD, Ed.S, M.S., is a licensed psychologist serving South Carolina and Georgia. She earned her doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology and School Psychology at Florida State University in 2014. Mary-Catherine completed her residency at Johns Hopkins University and her post-doctoral fellowship training at the University of Georgia. She specializes in eating disorder treatment, body image interventions, OCD, couples counseling, and reducing suicidal/self-harm risk. Mary-Catherine also conducts ADHD/LD evaluations for high school and college students, and performs mental health compensation evaluations for veterans seeking benefits. In her spare time, she enjoys tennis, does cross fit, plays with her dogs, and spends time with her husband. For more information, visit her website:, view her Instagram posts at riner_counseling, or check out her Facebook page: ;

Spring Forward Sleep Tips | Aimi Palmer of My Little Sleeper

Pre-children you likely loathed the Spring time change as it meant losing an hour to your Sunday morning. Now you have kids, specifically an early riser, it means for a few days you revel in the fact that you have cracked it and they are getting up later. Sorry to say, but as the week progresses and they adjust their body clock, they will be back to old ways. (read our tips here for early risers). If you send your children to daycare or go to classes that you need to be up and out for, you will certainly want to be prepared for the time change.

Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for the daylight saving.

Change their schedule slowly. It’s not just bedtime and their wake-up that will need to be adjusted – you will need to adjust the day-time schedule too.  If your child is 12 months or younger, or sensitive to any change in their schedule, they will only likely be able to cope with a 10 minute adjustment. Therefore, you will want to spend around 6 days working on this adjustment. You can do this in advance of the Sunday time change, or the week after, depending on which works best for you. Each day, move their nap time forward by 10 minutes. For example, if they usually nap at 9.30am then on day 1 put them down at 9.20am, then day 2 at 9.10am and so on until you are putting them down at 8.30am which, with the time change, will be 9.30am. For older children, they can cope with larger changes over fewer days. Adjust their schedule by 15 minutes over 4 days.

Maintain your bedtime routine. We have said it before and we will continue to repeat this key tip– Consistency! Your little one will be more accepting of sleep when they know what’s coming. As their internal body clock is adjusting, a consistent bedtime routine will help them to calm  down and prepare for their nap or bedtime sleep.

Blackout blinds! Last summer you had a newborn and they weren’t affected by the early rising sun; however, now you have an older child they are more sensitive to it being light or dark outside. Time to make them believe it’s night time! Here are our favorite blackout blinds as they completely block out all outside light. Any kind of light can suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone our bodies produces to help us fall asleep and stay asleep. If they have light coming into the room in the evening they will struggle to fall asleep, especially at this earlier bedtime.

Remember to change the toddler clock! As you change your clocks around the house on Saturday night before you go to bedDon’t forget to change the toddler clocks too. If you are changing their schedule before Sunday, remember to adjust the toddler clock each day to match their new schedule. If you are looking to implement a toddler clock to help deal with this change, remember to use a reward system to help encourage the change in sleep behavior. We recommend the OKAY to Wake toddler clock and the soon to be available OOLY sleep companion.

Be consistent with your sleep training. If you are in the middle of sleep training whilst the spring time change ticks round, be consistent with your sleep plan and how you respond to their night waking and day time nap wake ups. There’s no reason to put the sleep training on hold, just be conscious of the changes to their internal clock.

About the Author:

Aimi Palmer, My Little Sleeper

Aimi Palmer is a child sleep consultant and the Founder of My Little Sleeper. Quite literally, she is helping sleep deprived families achieve their dreams! Aimi is a Certified Sleep Consultant having completed the “Sleep, Baby, Sleep” consultant-training program, approved by the International Institute for Complementary Therapists. 

Her interest in sleep training started when she had her first daughter… what a learning experience that was. She and her husband did, after many sleepless nights, employ a sleep trainer and seeing the results sparked her initial interest in the subject.

When she had her second child, she put everything she had learned into practice then low and behold – baby girl slept!  Not being totally exhausted the entire time meant that she had more energy to enjoy being a mom to Jessica and Lexi and it was around this time that she thought how much she would love to help other parents benefit in this way.

My Little Sleeper offers no cry sleep tips, and can provide consultations and services virtually, so location (or mom’s state of mind!) is never an issue — Aimi can help.

Follow Aimi on Instagram and Facebook for tips, tricks and inspiration to get your little ones sleeping in no time!

Maximize Your Child’s Developmental Potential | Our First Year

Maximize Your Child’s Developmental Potential | Our First Year

When should I start playing with my baby? The answer to this question is, as soon as that little bundle of joy makes their arrival.

You have been preparing for months for your little one. The nursery has been freshly painted, the crib and Pack ‘n Play painstakingly put together, and all of those adorable (albeit somewhat impractical) baby clothes have been washed and carefully put away (organized by size, of course). The baby shower has come and gone and you’ve received diapers, wipes, an abundance of clothing, blankets, strollers, bottles, pacifiers, wipe warmer (sure, you’ll use it once or twice), and the occasional gift card for a mani/pedi from a seasoned momma. But what about toys??? Did you forget to put them on your baby registry?

One can become overwhelmed by the variety of toys from which to choose. Go with the traditional toy or the current fad? Boy toys, girl toys, or gender neutral? And what about batteries and technology?

The Our First Year team is going to let you in on a little secret…YOU are your baby’s favorite toy. Your baby would prefer to look at your face, hear your voice, and interact with you rather than the trendy top of the line baby toy. With that being said, there are some toys that promote the appropriate and crucial interaction with your baby that is necessary for the development of fine/gross motor skills and language/social skills.

The Our First Year team is comprised of three practicing therapists – a Speech-Language Pathologist, a Doctor of Occupational Therapy, and a Doctor of Physical Therapy. We have taken out the guesswork for you and have hand-selected 8 developmentally-appropriate toys for babies from birth to one year. We have designed an activity card for each toy, using our many decades of expertise in our fields. These activity cards contain tried and true methods for meaningful playtime with your baby. The activity cards will inform you of why each toy was selected and which areas of development it targets. All 8 toys are housed in a crimson-colored Our First Year backpack, so that you can work on baby’s developmental milestones wherever you go.

The Our First Year backpack, welcome letter, toys, and activity cards come in handy when visiting the grandparent or staying with the babysitter and other caregivers. You can feel confident in knowing that your child is engaged in meaningful play while you are away.

For more information about the Our First Year Company, or to purchase the Our First Year backpack, please visit our website at We are also on Instagram (ourfirstyear1), Twitter (@our1styear) and Facebook (@ourfirstyear1).

Maximize your child’s developmental potential and enhance playtime with your baby. Our First Year…it’s all in the bag!

About the Authors,

The Team from Our First Year:

Heather Pawelkiewicz – In addition to a Master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Florida (Go, Gators!), Heather also holds a Master’s in French Linguistics. She has been a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist over a variety of settings (private practice, hospital, outpatient, school) for 13 years. When Heather is not writing blogs for Our First Year or treating students at the local elementary school, you can find her working on her historical/fantasy novel and reading, cooking, playing board games, hiking, and traveling with her high school sweetheart, 10-year old son, and 9-year old daughter.

Donna Woodworth – Donna is a Physical Therapist with over 37 years in the field. She holds a Bachelor’s in Physical Therapy and a Master’s in Exercise Science. After her youngest son entered college, Donna returned to school herself and obtained a Doctorate in the field of Physical Therapy from A.T. Stills University. Donna’s experience includes working with people throughout the lifespan; however, when her children were young she started working in the local elementary school in order to maximize her time with her two boys. To this day, Donna continues to work in the public school setting with the special needs population from age 3-22 years old. Donna is an avid exerciser and loves to hike and travel with her husband and two adult sons.

Hollie Hendershot – Hollie is an Occupational Therapist with 17 years of experience. She holds a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy and a Bachelor’s of Occupational Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia. She attended UGA for her undergraduate studies (Go, Dawgs!). Hollie has experience across the pediatric continuum including outpatient rehab, early intervention, home visits, and the schools. Additionally, she owns Foundations Therapy, a contracting company. Most recently, Hollie has started branching out and guest lecturing at a local college. Hollie enjoys time with her husband, son, and two daughters. As a family, they enjoy hiking, playing cards/games, and sports. Hollie loves sports and enjoys watching and playing them. She spends her leisure time reading, exercising/ running, and watching her kids grow!

Essential Oils + Safety

Hello YMS family!

It’s Jamie Sabat, founder of Distill + Express, a health and wellness community in DC, back to chat with you about essential oils and safety. I get so many questions from mamas about the dosage of essential oils and how to use them on their littles.

I’m here to share tips and tricks for all you natural mamas. When using essential oils on our little ones safety is of the utmost importance. There are certain oils we have in are arsenal to protect our children and boost their immunity and some we should use with caution.

During cold/flu season, I’m always super nervous about the kiddos getting sick. Here’s a great routine to keep them healthy and strong. For my 3-year old, I get him going with a healthy breakfast and vitamins before we head out the door. I sprinkle a PB Assist sachet in his water. It has a yummy melon flavor that he loves. It’s followed by a chewable a2z vitamin. He loves pancakes. Instead of using sugary syrup, I drizzle the IQ Mega on his short stack. Yummy!

Before we run out the door, I roll OnGuard on the bottoms of the feet and down the spine to protect against germs. For safety, always dilute in Fractionated Coconut Oil. Below is an illustration of instructions on how many drops to use according to their age. OnGuard is safe to diffuse.

At the end of the day, I start preparing for bed. Sleep and rest are key to staying healthy. I switch between diffusing Breathe in the kids’ rooms if they’re congested or Juniper Berry aka the “oil of the night” for relaxing and diminishing bad dreams.

If you’re interested in learning more about natural solutions for you and your family, message me on my FB page, Distill + Express.

Details on doTERRA products mentioned:

Juniper Berry: With the ability to cleanse and purify the air, the fresh aroma of Juniper Berry essential oil can produce a calming, grounding effect.

Breathe: A popular essential oil blend, doTERRA Breathe’s refreshing aroma can be used to create feelings of clear, easy breathing.


Onguard: As one of doTERRA’s most popular oils, doTERRA On Guard is a powerful proprietary blend that supports healthy immune function* and contains cleansing properties.

PB Assist Jr is a powdered probiotic supplement designed for children or adults who have trouble swallowing pills. It includes 5 billion live cells of a unique blend of six different probiotic strains, specifically selected for their benefits among children. These probiotics have been blended into a delicious powder that can be poured directly into the mouth for a fun and tasty way to integrate probiotics into anyone’s daily routine.*

doTERRA IQ Mega takes the fishy taste out of fish oil and puts the fresh orange flavor of doTERRA Wild Orange CPTG® essential oil in this great tasting and easy-to-swallow omega-3 supplement providing 1,300 mg of concentrated, omega-3 fatty acids per serving. IQ Mega contains the essential nutrients DHA and EPA to support healthy brain, cardiovascular, immune, and joint function.* IQ Mega is formulated to be used daily by children and adults with dōTERRA a2z Chewable™ tablets.

doTERRA a2z Chewable is a proprietary formula of ingredients developed with children and adults who have difficulty swallowing capsules in mind. Combining a blend of B vitamins with a blend of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as botanical extracts, doTERRA a2z Chewable supports healthy cell development and longevity when taken daily.* doTERRA a2z Chewable is formulated to be used with doTERRA Wild Orange-flavored IQ Mega™ Omega-3 fish oil as a comprehensive dietary supplement that supports healthy immunity and cognitive function as well as antioxidant protection.*



*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

About the Author:

Jamie Sabat is the Founder of Distill + Express, a health and wellness community and mother of two little ones, James and Mila. Jamie and her husband, Michael, happily moved from NYC after their son was born and have relocated to Washington DC, looking for a slower pace of life.

She started working on Distill + Express to provide healthy solutions for her family. Her desire to live naturally and use essential oils as her main health solution comes from her love for them. She wants her family unit to be happy and the healthiest they can be. Now, her family uses oils to clean the house, fight a cold and rock themselves gently to sleep – all with natural solutions. What a great feeling!



Dear Mama, A Love Letter on Valentine’s Day

Dear Mama, A Love Letter on Valentine’s Day

Dear Mama,

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love. Love for your spouse, love for your kids, your friends, your family, your life. But for us, it is a day to celebrate YOU. So, we want to tell you just a few of the reasons why we love you.

You wear all the hats, and you wear them well. You are a mama, wifey, sister, friend, aunt, colleague, boss, daughter. Your face alone completely lights up someone else’s life. Your laugh sparks immediate joy. You are loved quite simply because you’re you.

You are the only one who kisses the boo-boos just right. Your squeeze hugs are the best remedy, and your rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” can comfort the saddest of souls. You are the only one who can make everything better, just by being you.

You are selfless. You love your people something fierce, and nothing will get in your way of ensuring their life’s every happiness. You sacrifice for their peace. Your body, your mind, your thoughts, your SLEEP, relationships, you time, the list goes on, all of these things are subject to sacrifice for the sake of your loved ones. You don’t squawk one bit. You know that by putting in the time now, you’re doing your part to raise up good little humans. And for that, we’re grateful.

You wonder how you’re doing. You ask yourself “is that normal?” more times a day than you can count, and you wonder how other moms are handling situations in their homes. The meltdowns, the napstrikes, the sudden newfound food aversions. You’re worried if everyone in your family is eating or sleeping enough. If you’re eating and sleeping enough. (The answer is almost certainly, NO, you’re not.) You’re thinking about that bottle of wine and whether it was really necessary last night. (The answer is almost certainly, YES, it was.)

We are here to remind you that no one can Mom quite like you can. You’re doing an amazing job.

You wonder if you’re working enough, or too much. If you could be doing more for your clients or more at home. You wonder if you’re contributing enough time, money, energy to the people that need you. We are again here to tell you, YOU ARE. You are hustling and bustling for yourself AND your family, and that is something you should be so incredibly proud of. You are valued, needed, revered. You show up when it matters most, you are reliable and steadfast.

You have fears and insecurities, but you are confident in your skin. Even on the days when you’re riddled with doubt, you are a badass. You are filled with strength and grace, so much, all at the same time. You are a soft place to land, and also tough as nails. You handle any curveballs life throws your way — you take it in stride, and -almost always- with a smile.

You are a role model, a teacher, and a guide. You are wonderful and wise. You are Love. You are the only one who can do what you.

Wishing you a very Happy Valentine’s Day, Love.

Your Milk Shoppe


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