Pre-Fall Inspiration + 5 Fun Things to do with Your Kids in the DMV Area Next Month

Pre-Fall Inspiration + 5 Fun Things to do with Your Kids in the DMV Area Next Month

*The sweater below was gifted by Pink Blush but all opinions are my own.

 

I’m currently 29 weeks into my pregnancy and attempting to have a pretty low-key summer, but my family and I do have a lot on our agenda for August. I’m already thinking ahead to fall though, and I love that we’ll be transitioning to fall next month. I can’t wait for cozy sweaters, warm lattes, changing leaves etc in addition to the fact that I’m excited about having a fall baby this year. 

Speaking of cozy sweaters…I’m no stranger to the Pink Blush brand (I’ve worn their clothing in all three of my pregnancies and they also have non-maternity clothing for women) but they recently gifted me with this gorgeous and very on-trend leopard print maternity cardigan, and gave me the perfect opportunity to start thinking about my pre-fall wardrobe. I love that the leopard print is both bold and neutral, you can easily pair it with a variety of items in a neutral color palette. It’s also incredibly soft and I can’t wait to get cozy in it both before and after the baby comes. You can shop the cardigan here

Other items at the top of my pre-fall list include hats (they instantly add a dose of style to any outfit), open toe booties for the summer to fall transition, and denim. 

Another thing I’m excited about is taking my kids to do fun activities as the weather starts to cool down next month. I can’t say I’ll miss these 90+ degree temps. Here are 5 fun activities to do with kids in the DMV area in September:

  • Visit a farm- I love taking my boys to farms. Wide open spaces, fresh air, animals, and delicious fresh food are perfect for families with small children. Some farms even have elaborate outdoor play spaces. A few of my favorites are Great Country Farms (Bluemont, VA) Cox Farms (Centreville, VA),  Miller Farms (Clinton, MD) and Braehead Farm (Fredericksburg, VA- worth a trip for families who live in the Stafford area). The Cox Farms Fall Festival also starts September 14. 
  • Visit the zoo- The Smithsonian National Zoo’s free admission makes it a great choice for families, and visits are much more enjoyable when the heat isn’t unbearable. 
  • Attend a Washington Nationals home game- Another activity that’s great when the sun isn’t beating down on you is attending a baseball game. The stadium has a great selection of food, fun family theme nights, and places you in close proximity to other DC area attractions.
  • Attend the Prince George’s County Fair (Sept 5-8, Upper Marlboro, MD)- who doesn’t love a good carnival? Find more info here
  • Visit a Museum- DC has a number of amazing museums with free entry every day, but take advantage of Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day to visit a handful that normally charge an entry fee on September 21. You can download tickets here starting August 15. 

Do you have any recommendations for fun things to do with kids in the DMV area this fall? I also travel a lot and would love to hear about activities in Hampton Roads, NYC, and other areas. What are you looking forward to the most about fall?

 

Xo,

Courtney

The Routines That Keep My Household Afloat

The Routines That Keep My Household Afloat

Now that I’ve been a Mom of two for over a year (and am getting closer and closer to being a Mom of three!) I’ve realized the key to success in my household is creating routines and sticking to them, and how routines might help others even if you’re a parent (or future parent) of one. My household does the best when we stick to established routines, and when we stray from them for too long chaos usually ensues! Below I’ve listed some of the routines that I use to keep my sanity on weekdays, including the kids’ daily routines, my weekday mealtime routine, and most importantly our bedtime routine (is there anything parents want more than more sleep?) 

The Kids’ Daytime Schedule

We typically follow the same schedule Monday through Friday. When the kids wake up I let them play for about half an hour, make breakfast, then let them watch cartoons while I do some laundry or cleaning (yes, I am pro screen time when I need a distraction).

After that we do an at home preschool program by Susie of the Busy Toddler. It’s meant for kids ages 2.5 and up, but my youngest Myles still participates sometimes. The lessons typically involve a song or two, a book, and 2-3 hands on activities. I get most of the suggested books from the library, and the rest of the books and supplies on Amazon.

After “preschool” and more play time I make lunch and put the boys down for a nap. It took a little while to get both of them on the same nap schedule. This involved doing my best to keep Myles awake until after lunch, until he got used to it. Getting them down for a nap at the same time is so worth it, because it guarantees me an hour or two of free time where I can get some things done or take a nap myself (which has been helpful this pregnancy). If you have two children close in age I recommend getting them on the same nap schedule as early as possible. 

After nap time I take them out in the stroller for a walk or some time at the park or library. Then I just let them play until my husband comes home and he takes over while I make dinner. The rest of the evening typically revolves around whatever my husband and I are doing.

Mealtimes

I love to eat but I am not the type of person who loves to cook. I’ve developed a few hacks to make things easier for myself. The first thing I do to make things easier is never taking my kids grocery shopping. I rarely go to the grocery store at all these days, unless I’m running in for a quick item or two. The rest of the time I order groceries through Amazon Prime Now. They are conveniently delivered to my door and as long as you buy at least $35 worth of groceries the delivery fee is free (although you can add on an optional tip for the driver). This means no more struggling with a crying toddler or two while I schlep down aisle after aisle, and grocery shopping no longer raises my blood pressure like it has in the past. 

For breakfast I usually alternate between whole wheat pancakes, Abe’s amazing vegan muffins (I cannot stress enough how amazing they are), cinnamon raisin toast, or scrambled eggs with fresh fruit for my kids. In the future I’d love to expand to some more healthy recipes but for now these options are quick and always work.

Lunch is usually peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Dr. Praegar’s spinach, broccoli, sweet potato or kale littles with veggies or fruit. I don’t experiment much with lunch foods because my oldest Mason is so picky.

Dinner is when I do the most experimenting. I recently restarted my Hello Fresh subscription so that I can learn more vegetarian meals, and we go meat free 3 times a week with their veggie plan. I won’t keep the subscription going forever, but for now it’s a great way to learn new recipes and cooking skills, and having a subscription has definitely increased my interest in cooking. The rest of the week I cook with meat from a farm CSA (community supported agriculture) share. This allows us to purchase 15 lbs of pasture raised, hormone-free meat each month. I purchase my share through Liberty Delight Farms. And once a week we order takeout for dinner (my favorite night of the week).

Bedtime

Thankfully both of my children sleep through the night at this stage (I’m getting ready to start over with baby #3 so wish me luck!) but we got there by moving the kids out of our bedroom, establishing a bedtime routine, and using the cry it out method (aka sleep training) for a little while. Moving the kids out of my bedroom was vital for me. I always start off with co-sleeping before moving my kids to a bassinet or pack n play in my room. But there’s something about having me nearby that just causes my kids to wake up looking for my attention (or milk) more often. I was amazed at how much longer they started sleeping when they left my room. This is only recommended when your kids are about 6 months +.

Crying it out is a controversial method, I know some parents can’t stand to hear their little ones’ cries go unanswered and I felt the same way at first. We tried it with my son Mason when he was about 5 months old because I was still getting up multiple times a night and feeling like a zombie at work. The first night of crying it out my husband had to stop me from going to him and I felt so sad. But then when he finally fell asleep, he slept for the rest of the night! On the second night he cried for a much shorter interval before falling asleep. After a few days he barely cried at all. The time it takes to get this method to work can vary but trust me it does work. And both of my kids survived the experience and are happy and very attached to me. 

Some people are amazed at how easily they usually fall asleep at home but it’s because we’ve been doing the same bedtime routine for so long that they’re very used to what comes next. I use Honest Calming Lavender Bubble Bath to help the boys get in a sleepy mood. After bath time I read 1-2 board books that are appropriate for Myles, then take him to his bed and turn on 15 minutes of bedtime music on his Scout dog (I’ve also used a noise machine and night light in the past- the Hatch Baby Rest is amazing, but found that they do fine without it now). I rock him in my arms for 2-3 minutes then lay him down and leave. He’s usually asleep within 10 minutes without any fuss. Then I read 1-2 more advanced books for Mason and repeat the same music/rocking routine with his Scout dog. Sometimes he takes longer to fall asleep but he lays in his crib without crying until he does. Then I give myself a mental pat on the back and relax for about 30 mins before joining my husband for a Netflix show. 

I know a lot of people who co-sleep end up doing so long-term, but once my babies reached the 6 month mark having designated kid-free time every night and sleeping in my bed without them has been so beneficial to my mental health and my marriage.

Those are the most important aspects of my daily routine. I would love to hear your thoughts/tips for establishing a routine in the comments. 

 

Xo,

Courtney

The Best Indoor Playspaces in the DMV

The Best Indoor Playspaces in the DMV

I hope you all are enjoying the warm weather. I love this time of year and really appreciate being able to take my kids outdoors. There are still times when we need a good indoor location though, like when it’s 90+ degrees outside or when its raining, and I’m a huge fan of indoor play spaces. I’ve tried several in the DMV area and have a few favorites that I’ve listed below. One caveat is that I haven’t tried any in DC. I live outside of DC and as many of you know, driving and parking (or taking the metro) in DC can be a hassle at times, especially with kids, so we typically reserve that for bigger occasions like taking them to the National Mall and museums. If you know of any good indoor play spaces in DC please let me know in the comments. We also travel to Richmond, Hampton Roads, and New York fairly often so I’d love to hear about fun things to do with kids in other cities.
The Best Playspace for Babies- Nook (Arlington, Fairfax)


Nook features soothing neutral colors that won’t overstimulate a baby and age appropriate activities for those who aren’t walking or crawling yet. Each station is equipped with fun but educational toys and there’s also a small ball pit (with white balls, also low stimulation) and places to curl up and read to your baby. Nook is also a popular spot to host instagram worthy birthday parties.

The Best Playspace for Toddlers and Older Children- Scramble (Alexandria)

Scramble has the best toddler section of all the indoor play spaces we’ve tried and is my favorite overall. The toddler section is large and runs along one side of the facility, and there are cute stations like a mock starbucks and a racing pit. The other side of the facility has plenty for older kids to do including climbing equipment and ball courts. You can easily play with your children but it’s designed to allow kids to play independently and features a cafe and generous seating area for adults. Everything is bright, clean, and well maintained.

The Best Playspace for the Adults- Badlands (North Bethesda)

Badlands is another good choice for older children. Instead of the typical toys and climbing structures that play spaces usually have, it truly brings the outdoors indoors with faux rocks and tunnels, hills, grass, and trees. Kids can have a great time running and climbing and everything is supervised well by the attendants. It’s my favorite choice for the adults though because it features an actual bar. Yes, you can schedule a playdate with a friend and indulge in wine and other drinks at Badlands. That feature alone is pretty amazing but it also won’t overstimulate you with bright colors since everything is so natural. They host parties in event pavilions that look like chic cabins so they’re another great spot for instagram worthy moments.

Those are my top three recommendations for playspaces in the DMV area. What are some of your favorite places to take kids for a fun outing?

Xo,

Courtney