Communicating with Babies & Toddlers

Communicating with Baby: Baby Sign Language | PepperDesignBlog.com

Taylor is quite the little communicator with three to four word sentences now, but there was a long stretch of time from about 9 months to 15 months where she knew what she wanted but couldn’t quite say what she needed.

If you were to ask me what my best and favorite baby development tips are, my first would be baby led weaning, my second would be my Secrets of a Baby Whisperer sleep training book (also mentioned here) and the third would be baby sign language. When your little one can tell you exactly what they need to calm them down or make them happy – even when they don’t have the words to explain themselves – everyone will be the merrier. Seriously. So much merrier.

When I heard about teaching babies basic sign language it made so much sense! With an infant you are deciphering cries based on needs: food, diaper, tired… When a toddler has a specific need they try so hard to convey it to you as well, and it results in endless frustration on both ends. Being proactive about teaching a few signs to equip them with communication has saved us many times over.

I dug up these photos from just a few months ago as a few examples of which were our favorite words. Our MOST used signs included: I want food, I’m all done (for eating, playing, taking a bath…) and I want more (for food, going down the slide, you name it).

Communicating with Baby: Baby Sign Language | PepperDesignBlog.com

In addition to those three common requests, we also frequently used: please, thank you, dog (she got a kick out of pointing out Bodie), water, milk and sleep (it’s a nice heads up that nap time is on the way).

A few visuals for those signs:

Communicating with Baby: Baby Sign Language | PepperDesignBlog.com

Thank you to Parenting for the above images :). Milk is hard to make out from the illustration but it’s a hand movement like you’re milking a cow. Ha! Especially fun if you’re still nursing.

We started signing when Liv was a baby, and I’ll start incorporating just the most basic signs into everyday communication when Marley is about 7 or 8 months old. It’s great when they make that little brain connection that they can talk to you and start to sign back! Communication is king in baby world.

What do you think? Have you or would you use sign language? Did you have a good experience with it?

PS I’m traveling with Marley for work this week and am pulling up this post on tips for traveling with babies, plus favorite baby products for the first year

Felt Flower Hair Clips

DIY Felt Flower Hair Clip Tutorial | PepperDesignBlog.com

Bows and headbands are adorable on every little girl, but I wasn’t so great about adorning the heads of either Liv or Taylor when they were younger. Most big bows and flowers were never really my style, or I’d see the little indent of the headband on their forehead and immediately have mom-guilt so I’d take whatever it was off, or we’d lose anything cute that I had boughten off of Etsy almost immediately so I didn’t really bother with adding more.

Now that they are older and not really into anything in their hair, I sort of wish I had been more diligent about cute head gear. Marley? I’m coming after you with a bow today.

DIY Felt Flower Hair Clip Tutorial | PepperDesignBlog.com

But for some reason, when we made little felt flower clips all together, their nothing-in-my-hair attitude began to change! At least for the time being. And since we turned some scrap felt into sweet little gems that even I really dig, I’m really hoping that their affinity for our newest creations stays!

My sweet messy girl let me take a few photos:

DIY Felt Flower Hair Clip Tutorial | PepperDesignBlog.com

And then she went back to her usual shenanigans.

DIY Felt Flower Hair Clip Tutorial | PepperDesignBlog.com

DIY Felt Flower Hair Clip Tutorial | PepperDesignBlog.com

By the end of our weekend craft hour, we had made maybe five or six felt flowers using basically the same steps.

DIY Felt Flower Hair Clip Tutorial | PepperDesignBlog.com

Small diamond-ish petals, some of which were glued pinched together to create texture, others of which were used flat.

DIY Felt Flower Hair Clip Tutorial | PepperDesignBlog.com

A quick note on crimping the petals – I found that if I cut the end of the pinched petal off it was much easier to work with.

DIY Felt Flower Hair Clip Tutorial | PepperDesignBlog.com

And then plenty and plenty of layering of small petals onto a small round felt disk. I used a glue gun for everything.

DIY Felt Flower Hair Clip Tutorial | PepperDesignBlog.com

A few variations included using flat petals and spinning a felt strip into a floral center.

DIY Felt Flower Hair Clip Tutorial | PepperDesignBlog.com

Or layering two sets of petals for a little depth (the purple flower in the top collage is a pinched petal flower topped with a flat petal flower, the burgundy below are two flat petal flowers stacked).

DIY Felt Flower Hair Clip Tutorial | PepperDesignBlog.com

Once they realized that flowers in their hair might be fun, it was all about the more the merrier. Liv actually went to preschool two days in a row covered in flower clips.

DIY Felt Flower Hair Clip Tutorial | PepperDesignBlog.com

DIY Felt Flower Hair Clip Tutorial | PepperDesignBlog.com

They were a little time consuming each, but they were a lot of fun! This is a project I’d do again for sure, but next time with a more kid-friendly glue for Liv when she joined me so that she could make more herself.

A very easy felt bow, multi-purpose diy art boards for more kid-creative moments.

For Me, Productivity > Time Management

Time Management & Productivity | PepperDesignBlog.com

Guys, it’s my first full week back at my job after eight crazy but wonderful weeks of maternity leave. I have to admit that I’m a little excited to be back. I enjoy my work… I enjoy the strategic side, the creative side, even the spreadsheets side. While I’ve really loved being 100% present for my three beautiful girls for two whole months, I can’t say that drinking a hot cup of coffee (in a real ceramic mug) and sitting down at my computer to write a full, uninterrupted email is something that I don’t appreciate. A lot. Marley is still by my side most of the day (I’m fortunate enough to work from home) but Taylor’s sweet college nanny is available to scoop her up for conference calls and the like.

One of my main goals, now that I’m back in the swing of things, is to explore ways to achieve a new level of calmness amidst the daily busy-ness that keeps us on our toes.

I was reading this article on time management and appreciated the insight on what time management vs productivity is to author Jordan Cohen. His motto is make time for what really matters, and he points out that it’s not about time per se, but more about what we do with that time. Essentially, our productivity.

This struck a chord and started a new internal dialogue for me because I feel as though if I really want to try and balance that great motherhood juggle, then I have to be really good at being productive in the small amounts of time that I’ve allocated to the many tasks on my plate. Not busy – no, that results in feeling drained and frazzled. Not just busy but instead productive. That, for me, is the ultimate definition of juggling.

Here are a few new approaches that I came up with that I think will help with making sure my time is productive time:

Prioritize my list – what must I get done, what would I like to do (Cohen suggests keeping a list of a few things that you really want to do, and then to go back to it frequently to figure out why you can’t do those things)

Organize my day around that list – schedule and allocate various tasks based on priority

Truly value my time for each task – be productive with what I have

Ask for help when I need it – yes!

Don’t forget to enjoy :) – this exercise for me is to create breathing room

Being productive can’t just be multi-tasking on steroids – I’m sure that, like me, most moms already pick up the living room while brushing their teeth, mop the kitchen while overseeing breakfast or update company spreadsheets/expense reports while listening in on conference calls. Being productive also means knowing when tasks can be deleted, delegated or redesigned.

New idea: let’s not manage our time by the hands on a clock, let’s measure it by what we are accomplishing (what if every company had this expectation out of their employees? Imagine work-life balance!).

Now that I’m not on maternity leave I will miss taking Liv to dance on Tuesday mornings, I will miss the flexibility to run a quick errand, I will miss Friday mommy & me with Taylor, I will miss cooking fancier dinners that require afternoon meal prep, I will miss random trips to the park.

But the grass is always greener, and soon enough I will realize there’s still time for little bits of all of the above, just without the same frequency. BIG plus – weekends will be special again! Having an extra eye for productivity during my weekdays means that I am storing up extra time for the things that matter most. And then I can put the whole productivity concept to rest (family time, pancakes, staying up too late) for a couple of days before starting again. I love that.

More ideas and musings from a working mom.

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