Normally in this space, we share behind-the-scene photos of our desks or give you the rundown of what one of us has been streaming, reading or watching lately.
But these days have been far from normal.
Due to the state’s stay-at-home orders, I haven’t seen my work desk in months. And because our babysitters are in the high-risk category for COVID-19, my husband, Josh, and I have had little time beyond work and taking turns watching our feisty 2-year-old daughter, Gianna.
So instead of the latest binge-worthy shows that I know nothing about, I’m sharing four mommy finds that I hope will help make any parent’s life easier. (And since some experts are predicting a baby boom due to the coronavirus pandemic, we could have more first-time parents-to-be than usual.)
The Imagination Library, started by country singer Dolly Parton, offers free age-appropriate books to children from birth to age 5, regardless of family income. Gianna has received four books in the mail since January.
What I like most about it (besides the fact that it’s free and I know I’ll have a new quality book in the house every month) is that I never would have picked out these books for her. I thought the first book, “The Little Engine That Could,” was too long (37 pages) for a then 20-month-old and that “Little Excavator,” a story about different types of construction equipment, would not hold her interest. But she absolutely loves them, and we read them again and again and again. Another bonus is that these books also include discussion prompts and activity ideas to help you go beyond simply reading the book.
Where to find it: ohioimaginationlibrary.org
2. Baby sign language
Before G could talk, she was signing “more” and “all done” in sign language. It helped us avoid some of the early tantrums because we adults were able to understand what she was trying to communicate (“milk” continues to be a frequently used sign). I highly recommend the video series “Baby Signing Time” (for ages 2 and younger) and “Signing Time” by Rachel Coleman. They combine clever songs with scenes of children demonstrating signs about everything from foods to things you find outdoors to the names of family members.
Even though Gianna can now clearly say full five-word sentences, she still loves to sign (I stopped counting after 50 different signs), especially her colors, animals and emotions.
Where to find it: mysigningtime.com
3. EWG’s Skin Deep Database
I’ve known about the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetics database for a few years but only recently realized that I could use it to look up the ingredients in children’s products. The database provides safety ratings on more than 78,000 personal care products—including children’s sunscreen, soap and toothpaste—based on what chemicals are used in the product. How I wish I would’ve known this when we registered for our baby shower.
Where to find it: ewg.org/skindeep
4. Dawn and peroxide
Invest in bottles of Dawn dish soap and peroxide now to use as a stain remover on your tot’s tiny clothes for the next few years (and probably more). It’s a safer alternative than the harsh chemicals of most traditional spot removers, and it works really well. I’ve used it to remove everything from dirty diaper spillovers to spaghetti slops and more. It’s even erased weeks-old stains.
Where to find it: Pretty much any store.