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September is Emergency Preparedness Month. Are you ready?
School is back in session for the kids and now is a great opportunity to do a little reorganization and preparation to ensure that your family is ready in case of a catastrophic event.
As a registered nurse and mom I have become more paranoid in the last few years about natural disasters. And I’m not alone with my concerns. If you recall, in 2017 the United States was hit by 3 of the largest hurricanes to have hit the US in over a century.
In addition, my family lives in Los Angeles County which means our home sits right in the middle of earthquake country. The experts have been saying that we are due for the “big one” at any time. We can’t predict when it will actually happen, of course. But we can do our best to prepare in case it does.
As I write this, I am currently taking inventory of the homemade emergency survival kit I made last September . And I’m asking my self the same question as I did then: is my family prepared if we had a major emergency such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack?
What will you do if there is an emergency?
I like to think of myself as a person who is ready for an emergency. After all, I am an emergency room nurse. I’m used to dealing with emergent situations during my twelve hour shifts. In the hospital we have all the training and supplies we need to be ready for (almost) anything.
I have plenty of first aid supplies stashed away in our garage. And last September I made it a priority to store enough non perishable food and water to last our family for 5 days. Now I want to reassess and make sure that my emergency food and other supplies are still up to par. After all, we do have an additional family member, our 7 month old son!
You can buy an emergency supply kit online.
There are lots of websites online that sell emergency supply kits. Many of them cost from $100 up into the thousands, which may not be affordable for some people. In addition, they still may not include all of the supplies you may need such as food, water, medications or other personal items.
If purchasing an emergency supply kit is not an option for you, why not build you own kit and customize it for your needs? I gathered the following information from several websites and I have resources listed at the bottom of this post.
What To Put In A Homemade Emergency Survival Kit:
The CDC and FEMA state that we should have a minimum of a three day supply of water and food for everyone in the family, including pets. This water is for both drinking and sanitation. Of course it never hurts to prepare with more.
You should have at least the equivalent of 1 gallon of water per person/per day. For our family of (almost) 4 that means we should have at least 12 gallons of water stashed away to have the minimum three day supply.
It is possible that electricity could be out for several days in an emergency, which means perishables in the fridge and freezer will go bad. Cooking is also difficult without electricity so the foods should be “ready to eat.” In the case of a major emergency non-perishable foods become important for survival.
Emergency food supplies:
Canned fruits, veggies
Canned beans, pastas
Dry cereal, granola
Trail mix, dried fruits
Protein bars, granola bars
Non-perishable pasteurized milk
Food for infants (formula, jars)
Food for pets
The Department of Homeland Security’s website, Ready.gov states that you should try to avoid foods that make you thirsty, so you don’t end up drinking all of your water.
Keep these items in a designated place in your home and don’t use them unless there is an emergency. You don’t want to go to your stash in the event of a natural disaster to find that portions of your emergency kit are missing.
You can’t plan a disaster. But you can prepare for it.
Take some time this weekend to prepare a homemade emergency survival kit. You will thank yourself later for being responsible and taking care of your loved ones in advance of a disaster.
Are you prepared for a disaster? What are you going to do today to ensure that your family has what they need to survive? Leave a comment below!
( *Post updated 3/9/2020. There are affiliate links in this post. You can see my disclosure page here.)
Who knew that a crib tent would give our family the gift of sleep (and sanity)? I purchased our crib tent 16 months ago, and it has since become my #1 most important toddler purchase, ever.
Just to give a little background: our daughter was never a good sleeper (sweet as pie, but hated going to sleep). As a result, delirium due to a lack of sleep became a “normal” part of our family’s daily routine.
So, when our daughter was ten months old, I hired a sleep trainer. Her methods were a success, and we all finally started sleeping again!
But then, after nearly six consecutive months of almost uninterrupted slumber, the unimaginable happened. Our toddler, Zoe, learned how to climb out of her crib!
Our toddler’s “crib jumping” was a problem.
Once again, we were all losing sleep. My toddlers daredevil escapes seriously concerned me because:
It was unsafe. Our tiny toddler could seriously injure herself by falling several feet or getting stuck between the slats.
I did not want her wandering alone through the house at night. Again, a significant safety issue.
My husband and I were not going to get a good night’s sleep until we found a solution we were comfortable with. We were all sleep-deprived but also experiencing daily stress from this new problem.
Sleep is important.
Sleep is so crucial for both physical and mental health.
According to The National Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep is linked to hypertension, heart disease, depression, diabetes, and several other chronic diseases.
The National Sleep Foundation also states that sleep is especially crucial for children because it is when blood supply to the muscles is increased, energy is restored, tissue growth and repair occur, and important hormones are released for growth and development.
We looked at several alternatives.
After getting over the shock of my daughter’s uncanny ability to scale the crib, we tried several things to deter her.
We took out the bottom of the crib, so the mattress was on the floor to make her escape more difficult. That stopped her from climbing out for exactly one night, and then she was back at it again.
We took everything out of her crib so she couldn’t use it as a prop to climb out. This method didn’t stop her either.
We watched our toddler climb out of her crib on a monitor so we could see exactly how she was doing it. She made it look so easy! She held on to the top bar and put her feet in between the crib slates, hoisting herself to the top, then she teetered on the top bar and balanced until she could get both feet over the sides and jump to the floor. Usually, with a big SPLAT.
A toddler bed was not yet an option.
I scored the internet for more suggestions and solutions. A toddler bed was out of the question because our toddler would not stay in her bed (or room for that matter) for more than 1 minute.
Inevitably, we would end up having a little visitor in bed with us every night for the foreseeable future (or worse, roaming the house!).
My priority for our daughter was safety. I didn’t want her to get hurt while climbing out of her crib, but I also didn’t want her wandering around the house in the middle of the night either. And frankly, we ALL needed to get some sleep!
I read a ton of reviews on this crib tent, and it sounded like people were having a lot of success without having any safety issues. From my personal experience, these are the reasons this crib tent has been a gift from the sleep Gods.
Our toddler could no longer get stuck between the rails (which previously happened several times!).
Our toddler was unable to grip the sides of the railing, which prevented her from scaling the crib walls.
The material is made from BPA-free mesh netting and is hypoallergenic.
The crib tent fits snugly over the crib, and our toddler couldn’t get stuck in the crib netting. The bottom of the crib tent sits under the mattress.
It was super easy and fast to set up. No extra tools were required.
We ALL finally got the sleep we needed and finally felt refreshed again during the day.
I was given a spinal block which numbs the entire lower half of the body from just below the diaphragm. It is the weirdest feeling to not be able to feel or move your entire lower half!
The doctors had a difficult time getting Oliver out. After the surgery I was told that he was wedged in at a difficult angle to grasp. After several minutes of effort to get him out they had to use suction just to get a grip on him.
Our baby boy arrived with a great set of lungs!
Our sweet boy finally arrived.
Oliver came out kicking and screaming, which is the most reassuring sound for a new baby to make. He was much bigger then the doctors had expected him to be. In fact, they told me that it was a good thing I was set up for a c-section because there was very little chance I would have been able to get him out on my own. They said I would have ended up having another emergency c-section anyway!
Oliver was exactly 2 times bigger then our daughter was when she was born so he felt like a huge baby! Looking at him I couldn’t believe that he had actually fit inside my stomach.
Fortunately, Oliver took very well to breastfeeding, which was a welcome relief (it had been difficult with our preemie). He seems to be able to self sooth with his fingers and has been relatively easy (knock on wood!) to care for thus far. As long as he is fed every 2-3 hours, changed frequently, gets his sleep and is held frequently he is a happy camper!
There were a few surgical complications that I was not anticipating.
I lost 2 liters of blood during the procedure. According to my doctors I had a few large vessels that they were trying to bypass but still ended up causing a large amount of bleeding. As a result I had even more post postpartum bleeding over the next 24 hours. This resulted in me needing to have a total 4 blood transfusions and multiple different anti-hemorrhage medications.
It was a bit scary and uncomfortable for another day and a half after my c-section. Luckily we were able to get the bleeding under control and I was able to be discharged on day 3 to go home. What a relief!
Zoe is doing great in her new role as big sister.
Our daughter can’t stop giving Oliver hugs and kisses every chance she gets. We do need to keep as eye on her though because she does try to squeeze him hard and force his pacifier into his mouth (out of love and her desire to help).
So far she has not expressed any jealousy towards sharing her time with a new tiny human (hopefully we can keep it this way!).
Zoe tries to help by letting me know when Oliver needs things like toys, a blanket, or his pacifier. It is so sweet and melts my heart every time.
My mom friends are so helpful.
Some very sweet friends brought over some of their old baby items that have really helped us out with Oliver. I am so glad they did because I never would have even known to get them myself. (FYI- the BEST invention ever is the Doc-A-Tot Grand. It has been a game changer!)
Life is good.
I am so relieved that our baby boy arrived safely and is a healthy baby boy. There is no greater gift then that!
My husband has been able to be home with us for the last week but he will be heading back to work tomorrow. It’s going to be a bit of a challenge caring for a very energetic two-year-old and a newborn for nine hours a day by myself.
I haven’t figured out how I’m going to manage that yet but lots of women do it so I’ll just have to figure it out day by day.
(This post may contain affiliate links. My disclosure page is really boring but you can find it here.)
We have had a lot of driving experience with our toddler on long road trips over the past year-and-a half. Our closest family members live in Sacramento which, with a toddler in tow, is about an eight hour drive from our LA beach community. We have pretty much been-there-done-that with every single tip ever mentioned on how to make road tripping easier when you’re toting a toddler along.
Having made that lengthy drive over a half dozen times you would think we would be experts at toddler travel by now. After all, how many learning opportunities does one need to figure that out?
Yet, road tripping with our toddler remains a constant learning experience for us. This week was no exception as our family trekked eight hours from El Segundo to Tomales Bay located on the Northern California Pacific Coast for a well-needed vacation.
Stinton Beach, CA (population 578). The best part of taking road trips is stopping at new locations along the way that you never would have seen otherwise. Zoe was happy for the opportunity to run around for a while.
As I have some depth of experience in the road-trip-with-a-toddler department, I thought for sure I would use my expertise to make this excursion particularly easy. After all, I have read about all the tricks by now: travel during baby sleep times, pack for every situation (terrible advice, boo!), make frequent stops at parks, bring lots of toys, be sure to have baggies/wipes/finger foods, yada yada yada.
My confidence had me dreaming of writing a post after our trip titled “how I mastered long-distance travel with a toddler without going crazy” or “how we helped our daughter love long distance road trips, and you can too.”
A Mom can dream, right?
Yet, once again I realized mid-way up the coast that traveling with a toddler can be messy, frustrating, and even intolerable even with the most thoughtful preparation and experience.
Toddlers are going through their very own developmental stages.
Toddler’s little bodies are immature and aren’t supposed to “sit still” for any amount of time, much less an eight hour car ride. In addition, they have under-developed communication skills to express their needs, which can lead to complete toddler meltdown on the highway (or anywhere for that matter).
This got me to thinking…
Is the key to mastering long distance travel with a toddler really just about understanding where they are in their current developmental stage? Is my job to better understand my toddler as a little, evolving human being? Do I need to adjust my expectations a little? Hmmm, maybe.
I continued to learn, even during this trip, that part of mastering toddler travel is about learning how to be a little more malleable with our daughter. Especially when she is acting exactly like, well, a toddler.
There are going to be meltdowns in between all the adorable, precious, little girl moments. That is how toddlers express themselves when they are upset and don’t have the vocabulary to communicate their frustrations. In addition, they are programmed to push their boundaries and it is our job as parents to learn how to productively handle each situation as we go along.
Tomales Bay, Ca. The long drive was totally worth the vacation. We got to hike almost everyday. If you look closely to John’s right you can see a line of large adult seals!
The final drive back home: something amazing happened!
On our last day we planned on getting up at 5am to start the dreadful trek back down the I-5 to Los Angeles County (not the amazing part). We wanted to get the drive out of the way as soon as possible. But, like many aspects of parenthood, things didn’t exactly start as we had anticipated.
Our (normally) great little sleeper decided she wanted to get up at 2:30am instead. After about 45 minutes of tears (I guess she was ready to go home?), my husband and I decided it would be better to just go ahead and start our travels. So we got ready and left by 3:30am instead.
You are probably wondering what the amazing part is, right? Well, I’m excited to say that Zoe did wonderfully and was content pretty much the entire way home! There were minimal tears and we only had to stop twice during the entire trip. It was a road trip miracle!
With a little help from Mom and Dad, she really handled the drive like a champ. And because we left so early in the morning we were home by noon. It is possible that I actually mastered the art of road tripping with a toddler after all?
Well, I’m not so sure about that. But I do think we made great progress. We did learn a few more things during this drive home.
Helpful Ideas For Long Distance Road Tripping With A Toddler:
To be clear, these tips may not be for everyone. Every toddler, and every trip, can be a different experience. These are just a few suggestions that worked for us. Here are my best ideas for surviving long distance road travel with a toddler in tow.
1. Travel during sleep times
This one is the big winner! If you can drive at night or at least during a long nap time it is so helpful. A sleeping toddler is a content toddler. One of the reasons I think our recent road trip went so well is that our toddler was able to sleep for about 3.5 hours during the start of our trip (we did leave at 3:30am after all). That got a large portion of our drive time out of the way right off the bat.
2. Don’t over pack
This was everything we packed for one week of travel. I made an exception for my yoga mat and I’m so glad I did. I used it almost everyday (there are some things you just have to make an exception for!).
I hear all the time that “when you have kids you have to bring so much stuff everywhere!” I emphatically disagree with this one. Packing light is so much easier and can actually make a trip less hectic and stressful: there is less stuff to pack/repack, take care of, store, and its feels so much better to not feel like you are carrying around your house.
Many things that get packed “just in case” never even get used and just end up getting hauled around pointlessly. You don’t have to schlep everything from home. See if the hotel can offer a crib. Buy food for the kitchenette when you get there. When packing ask yourself “is this something I really need on this vacation?”
I brought just enough clothes for myself and our daughter with the intention of doing a load of laundry at the hotel if necessary (it wasn’t). We also brought an umbrella stroller instead of the larger one we normally use.
Traveling is just easier with less stuff. It’s true that Zoe could possibly need her winter boots and coat. It can be on the cooler side on the northern California Pacific coast. But in August? Not likely that she will need them.
3. Have one adult sit in the back if possible
I sit in the back with Zoe during most of the drive (I stay in the front when she is sleeping). That way we can spend a little one-on-one time together and I can try to help sooth her before she starts to have a meltdown. I have gotten in the habit of making space for myself and whatever I think I may need in the back seat for the drive.
4. Sing and talk frequently
Did you know that a new study shows that babies’ pain levels are actually decreased when they are sung to? A London University found that children waiting for surgeries actually had a reduction in pain and heart rate after being sung lullabies.
Road trips are not actually painful, of course. But I have found that Zoe will pay close attention to my every word when I sing to her. She listens intently, quietly. It’s like I’m doing something amazing, and I’m a terrible singer! I’m probably driving my husband nuts but our kid seems to be enjoying it, so why the heck not?
Our toddler gets the benefit of learning new songs and staying engaged during the drive. I think it makes her happy too. To boot, it minimizes screaming child road rage so I see this as a win-win for everyone.
5. Keep a calm voice (especially during a meltdown).
My husband and I have found that the more calm we are when Zoe is upset, the less upset she gets and the better she is able to deal with her frustration. Our kids learn how to handle stressful situations by how we handle them.
Dr Sears, parenting expert, says that “an angry parent often leads to and even angrier child.” Being in an angry state clouds your thinking and can leave everyone feeling a bit abused. A temper tantrum from us won’t make the drive easier and it will make it more miserable.
I try to think of ways to get our daughter to laugh when I can see she is getting frustrated. Right now she is really into making noises with her mouth, and she thinks its so funny when Mom or Dad makes funny noises with her. Laughter can really be the best medicine for an angry child.
6. If all else fails, bring two sets of ear plugs and do the best you can. Or just pull over and find a neighborhood park.
We found this park on our way back from Muir Woods during our trip. Zoe met a new friend and we got an opportunity to explore a new, small beach community.
Seriously, if all else fails and the crying seams endless, nothing beats a good pair of earplugs. I’m not saying that you should ignore your child by any means! You can still hear everything and you can continue to help sooth your child. It just helps a little until you can get your bearings again (and helps minimize a pounding headache).
Or if you reach a point where you just can’t take it for another second, just pull over and find a park or a long stretch of grass. There have been a ton of studies that show that being in green grass can relieve stress and make you feel better. Getting out for some fresh air and a little nature will do everybody a little good.
I realize that not every drive will as good as our most recent one, but I do think we are on to something good here. Practice makes perfect, so I guess we will just have to plan another road trip soon!
Southern California is such a great place to live partly because there are so many amazing places we can vacation to via highway. Since our family will soon be expanding even more (we’ve got a baby boy on the way!) we have to adjust our vacation plans to accommodate our little nomads.
Next on our road trip travel list: The Grand Canyon!!
Sarah, Mother Nurse Love
Psst! Toddler backpack carriers are so great to have on an active vacation. Check out theses super cool ones!
(This post may contain some affiliate links. My disclosure policy is really boring but you can find it here.)
My husband and I have a favorite family activity that we frequently partake in now that we are parents: Sunday Funday at the park with a growler! (I’m excited to talk about this, can you tell?).
Before baby, my husband and I were regular daters. Meaning, we spent a lot of time doing really fun stuff together. We live in southern California and its always warm, so there is no reason not to be outside enjoying ourselves.
Then came the best thing that ever happened to us: the birth of our daughter!
So how do new parents find the time to have fun together in between sleepless nights, diaper changes and 3 hour feedings? It took us a while to figure this one out.
I’m not sure if it was the sleep deprivation or just utter desperation to get out of the house and be like regular adult humans again, but finally we found a solution to our dilemma:
Sunday funday + growler in the park = super happy parents!
What exactly is Sunday Funday?
Sunday Funday is how we spent Sundays pre-child in our Los Angeles beach suburb. It was often spent enjoying a boozy brunch on the pier or spending time at the beach with friends. And it was a very fun day of the week.
But now we have moved on to this amazing institution called parenthood. As much as I love being a Mom, sometimes we have to carve out slices of fun here and there so we don’t completely lose our minds. Hence, we began our Sunday Funday ritual so Mom and Dad can enjoy life while still being responsible parents.
Before you judge you should know that my husband and I are super responsible parents and generally very nice, good people. I’m a nurse, he’s a lawyer and we both work at a large teaching medical institution in Los Angeles. We spend our days being extraordinarily adult and doing good work.
Mom and Dad need to have some fun too! Life is way too short to be so serious all the time.
After babies come into the picture it becomes much harder to have spontaneous fun as a couple. But it’s important to both of us that we make time for each other so we don’t get lost in baby madness. Sharing a Sunday Funday growler at the park is one way we build our relationship up and continue making a happy life.
Our rational goes like this: happy parent relationship= happy baby.
So on sunny summer Sundays we delight in the opportunity to have some family time at the park. With the addition of a growler, as mentioned.
For those who don’t know, a growler is a container that allows for the transport of beer. The kind we use only fits about 4.7 beers total. It the perfect amount for us to split and sip on over an afternoon. Not enough to amp things up to party level.
We are so lucky to have an adorable local brewery about 3 blocks from where we live called the El Segundo Brewing Company. It is one of our favorite local watering holes and we are often there on our date nights.
Our task is simple: enter taproom, pick up a growler of the finest El Segundo craft beer, and head out for Sunday Funday, child-rearing version. Fortunately for us, our town is super pedestrian friendly and we can walk everywhere.
Our five essentials for Sunday Funday, parenthood version:
With our now 1-year-old in tow, a picnic blanket, some finger foods, music (via the iphone) and a growler of tasty craft beer fresh from the tap, we set out to to savor the day.
Our goal is to escape the routine and live in the moment.
With the sun shining, a warm breeze, and a beer or two we feel relaxed and we can talk for what seems like hours. We play barefooted on the lawn with our daughter and look at the sky.
Some of our best bonding moment as parents have come out of having growlers at the park during her first year of life. I can honestly say that it is been one of the better things we’ve done for our relationship.
Why a growler at the park makes the best date (in case you are not already convinced):
It requires no planning
It’s very low cost
You don’t have to get dressed up
You get to spend time outside in nature
It gives you time to connect
On another note, I’m sure there is a law against drinking alcohol in the parks where we live. But I think those laws were put into effect mostly keep people from having parties in the parks. We are rule breakers, what can I say?
We don’t flaunt our 2.3 beers each and so far it hasn’t been a problem. Just a regular family having a picnic on a beautiful day.
Last summer our daughter was immobile which worked well for growlers at the park. We could enjoy the day while sipping our cold brews in the sunshine and not worry about her getting up and taking off.
Unfortunately, we will not have that luxury this year as she is a seriously fast runner. I love it, but it does require more focus on our parts. Good thing we keep it to only one growler.
Have I convinced you that this is a really good idea yet? If you and your man are new parents and are dying for a way to enjoy some quality time together that sort-of feels like a date too, then this might be your path to feeling like a normal adults again.
Just pack some munchies, grab a growler at your local brewery, and walk yourselves to the park!
Sarah, Mother Nurse Love
Psst! Check out some of these adorable and very functional picnic baskets!