Winter Survival for Parents: Five Tips to Get You Through the Cold

Baby, it is COLD outside! And while your Instagram feed might be full of beautiful photos of families playing in the sparkling snow, you and I both know what’s really up. We know that those pictures don’t show the whole story. They don’t show the hour-long process that was getting everyone suitably bundled. They don’t show the moment when someone inevitably needs to pee and, thus, be disrobed. These idyllic images can’t capture the true struggle that is winter survival for parents.

Five Winter Survival Tips for Parents

winter survival for parents
📸Skye C.

1: Layers on Layers

winter survival for parents lifesaver mat
📸Katie P.

Winter survival for parents means letting your kids blow off steam. Which usually means heading outside to get everyone some fresh air. Getting everyone geared up is rough, but using smart layers is an essential part of the process.

Much like the concealer I apply to the enduring bags under my sleepy eyes, when it comes to winter clothes I tend to start light, get heavier as I go, and add more when needed.

The amount of coverage I need.

Over-sized coats and endlessly long scarves are cumbersome and don’t do as good a job of keeping everyone toasty as smaller, smartly layered items.

I should also note that this winter survival tip applies to you too. Now is not the time to focus on the kids and forget about yourself. Not if you want to keep your toes, anyway.

It is also not the time to try and bring sexy back. Winter survival dictates that bulky is the new sexy, so bust out your long underwear. If everyone looks like the Michelin Man by the time you are done, you’ve got it right.

Bonus: All those layers will act as cushion when you inevitably eat snow trying to save your floundering toddler from exactly that fate.

2: Add Winter Essentials to Your Diaper Bag

lifesaver mat winter survival for parents
📸Katie P.

I know, I know. Carrying all of the things that you need for your offspring has already got you feeling like a pack animal.

But winter survival for parents means taking on some extra gear for the sake of your sanity.

Prioritize items that will be useful in or affected by the weather. Extra socks and mitts are a few obvious ones. But things like sunglasses to combat the glare or some moisturizer for post-outdoor dry skin could also come in handy. And blankets or a spare Lifesaver Mat are a must-have in case someone needs an extra layer or a dry place to sit and rest in the midst of the outdoor adventuring.

3: Brush Up On Winter Survival and Safety Tips

📸Heather M.

Winter survival for parents can also mean literally focusing on winter survival and safety. Especially for your little ones. Winter hikes are a great way to get the family outdoors and active but they also come with the potential for some risks.

Teaching your kids, especially the ones who possess the pesky ability wander off on their own, some basic safety tips is a good idea. Talk to them about how and where to take shelter. Have them carry a small bag with some really basic gear. All of this could be essential in the event that your family gets separated outside in the cold months. Check out this great blog post, to learn more about ways to teach the whole family about winter safety.

4: Take Care of Yourself

📸Breahanna K.

We’ve said it before and we will say it again: parenting is rough. Like, a hedgehog carrying a cactus and brandishing sandpaper rough.

So if you add in the extra dash of stir-crazy and healthy dollop of “why is leaving the house like 1,000% harder?” that winter brings, things can get downright depressing. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, a huge part of winter survival for parents is focusing on ourselves.

Now, I know the word “self-care” gets thrown around a lot these days. So much so that, rather than motivating me to take care of myself, it actually feels like another unattainable to-do to add to my endless list. But if you are feeling the winter blues, it is important for you to find ways to recharge and refresh. Not only for you, but for your kids. They need their caregiver to be at their best.

And before you get overwhelmed by the seemingly vast idea of “self-care,” remember that it is something that looks different for everyone. It could mean blowing off adulting for the night to sit, snack, sip, and scroll through your favourite social feed. It could mean going for a walk (with or without kids, you decide). Check out this post if you are lacking self-care inspiration. But whether it means doing something new or doing nothing at all, please make sure that you take a break from simply trying to survive the colder months to do something for yourself now and then.

5: Stay Sane Inside

winter baby indoors cloth diaper
📸Bianca C.

Despite all of my best intentions, most of the time the winter months mean a lot more time inside for me and my kids than I’d like.

Some days it is because of the weather. Others it is because the idea of fighting my toddler into his snowsuit or struggling to get my preschooler’s thumb into the right spot in his damn mittens sends me into a straight up rage.

Seriously, is there some trick to that that I’m missing?

So we shelter-in-place for the sake of our collective sanity.

But staying inside comes with it’s own set of challenges. So an arsenal of engaging indoor activities is essential to winter survival for parents. Maybe it means some super low-effort activities to get the whole family moving or thinking. Maybe it means getting into the spirit of whatever the next holiday is and planning some activities around that (these ones are Valentine’s themed but could easily be adapted). Maybe it means bringing the outdoors inside for some sensory play.

winter survival for parents
📸Erica C.

And, honestly, sometimes it is just really nice to cuddle on the couch and watch whatever annoyingly repetitive show your kid is obsessed with. Screen-time recommendations be damned.


What do you think? Are these tips on winter survival for parents helpful? How do you and your family weather the winter months? Let us know in the comments below!

Guilt, Shame, and Self-Esteem: A Guide for Parents

Hi all! Caitlin here on the blog this week to talk about a touchy subject: shame. More specifically, what is guilt, shame, and how we can build our self-esteem as parents.

Parent Shame in the Internet Age

Some might blame the age of social media, but I suspect parent shaming has existed a lot longer than that. There have always been mother-in-laws waiting with a “in my day we never ___” or a neighbor peeking through a fence with judge-y eyes.

But with so much of our lives moving online, it’s easy to feel like this is a whole new era of shame in parenting.

First, there’s the “Instagram vs Reality” effect. Where folks post only their most perfect pictures and give us a skewed version of what their lives are really like.

But the real problem lies not in the posts but in the comment sections.

Miscommunication and self-doubt lead to accusations and shaming. To understand how these problems arise, we first have to understand the difference between guilt and shame.

Guilt vs Shame

First, guilt and shame can be both feelings and actions. I can feel guilty or I can feel ashamed. I can also lay a guilt trip on someone, or shame a person. But there is a difference between the two.

When you feel guilty, you might think “I did a bad thing”. When you feel shame, the thought is “I am bad”. The difference between the two is important because guilt makes us feel bad about an action. Shame makes us feel badly about ourselves. In some ways, guilt can be positive and motivate us to not repeat mistakes. But I don’t believe shame is ever positive.

For example, if I forget my Dad’s birthday, I might feel guilty. And that guilt might motivate me to take extra care to not forget the next year. If I start to feel shame, however, and I start to believe that I am a bad person because I forgot his birthday, I’m more likely to isolate myself and it can actually end up negatively impacting our relationship.

Guilt & Shame in Parenting Groups and Comment Sections

Why is this difference important? Because I’m noticing a trend in the parenting groups I’m in. Often times we parents read something online that may make us feel guilty. We might think to ourselves “Oh, Susie doesn’t give her kids screen time. Maybe I shouldn’t either.” But instead of taking ownership of those feelings, we often get defensive and accuse the other person of shaming us.

Since Lil Helper is first and foremost a cloth diapering company, I’ll use this as my example.

Recently, in LilHelper: Unsnapped, I posted about how I couldn’t wait to be done with disposables. When my babies are small we always use disposables for a time, for a number of reasons. The newborn haze, the difficulty in getting a good fit on a tiny baby, to name a few. But I have always found I end up cleaning up way more “poo-namis” during the first month with my kids in disposables than the remaining two years they are in their cloth. I posted saying that I find cloth infinitely easier for these reasons and I don’t understand how cloth is not more mainstream.

I was accused very quickly of shaming other parents. Which again, by definition, means telling them “You are bad.” In this case, more specifically, “You are bad if you use disposables.” I was surprised. When my intentions were to say, “I don’t like disposables,” I found a bunch of people telling me I was saying, “I think you are bad if you do like disposables.” It made me start to wonder how this happened. Especially because I use 2-4 disposable diapers a day in my house! There is no judgment here.

I Choose My Thoughts & Feelings

Let's use another example, sleep training.

I do what I refer to as ‘gentle cry it out’ with my kids. It's a strategy that works for my family and results in happier kids and a healthier mom. But of course, this is a parenting choice that is often seen as controversial. I will often come across posts that speak to the importance of being super responsive to baby’s every cry. I can take these posts one of two ways.

1. I am a horrible mother for letting my child cry for a few minutes.

2. I am doing what works best for my family after a lot of research and thought, and folks who choose to co-sleep or reject CIO methods are doing the same.

The first choice is filled with shame. The second is an honest look at the facts.

When someone says “I choose to parent ‘x’ way” they are not inherently saying, “I think anyone who does it differently is trash”. But that seems to be how it is often interpreted.

This becomes a problem for a few reasons. First, we can end up feeling bad that we have hurt others, which leads to more guilt or shame. And, second, we can become so scared of ‘shaming’ others, that we are not authentic. All of this, when we are probably posting and reaching out in an effort to find connection and empathy with other parents.

Real Trolls Exist, But Not Everywhere All The Time

Perhaps it is because we have all experienced the genuine internet troll. The harasser. The shamer. Enough times that we have come to expect it. But what would happen if we assume the best of each other? If we take responsibility for our own thoughts and feelings and own our parenting choices.

Then we wouldn’t be so worried about guilt and shame – we could instead parent from a place of confidence.

The opposite of guilt and shame is self-esteem. Recognizing that you have worth and value and are enough for those tiny humans every day.

In fact, you make their world spin.

It is not your job to justify to the internet why you made your choices for your family. Whether that choice is related to what's on your baby’s bum, how they fall asleep, what they eat, or anything else. As long as your babe is safe and loved – who cares what anyone on the internet thinks?

Likewise, someone doing it differently than you is not wrong either.

And perhaps the next time you come across something on the internet that makes you feel guilt or shame, take the time to really read the words.

Sometimes there are truly mean people on the internet, who are accusatory and who put others down. But oftentimes these feelings actually come from our own interpretations. If there are no “You” statements (You are bad if you don’t do baby-led weaning) then perhaps your feelings are coming from somewhere else.

“I love baby-led weaning so far! I can’t believe I did purees before! I wish I did BLW with my first! Anyone have any more first food tips for me?”

You can choose:

“Some of us love purees so don’t shame us” or “I like purees. I’d guess the easy to mash foods would be your best bet? Avocado, banana, raspberries.”

The Golden Rule

The bottom line is we are all just trying to do our best. When you read something online you don’t agree with, remember to be kind or keep scrolling. And if you feel like someone else isn’t following this golden rule, take the time to be kind and think about your response carefully in return anyway.

If we are all a little more thoughtful online we can make the world a little brighter, one comment section at a time.

Bags of Potential: 10 Ways to Use Lil Helper Reusable Snack Bags

See what I did there? 🙂 If there is one thing to love about LH products, it has to be the versatility. It’s not unusual for people on the Unsnapped Facebook group (if you don’t know, you should join !) to post the unconventional ways they are using LH products. It’s how we LH customers roll and the reusable snack bags from Lil Helper are no different.

I’m Amanda and have been helping out in the LH 2.0 group as one of the folks taking some of the lovely photos LH uses in their marketing. When I’m not chasing a nearly 18 month old, or helping the 5.5 year old with remote schooling, I work full-time as an electrical engineer for my local power company. I hope you enjoy this fun take on a versatile LH product – reusable snack bags aka Bite Bags! There are a few different types. Combo bags, Bite Bags, and small zippered wet bags. Read on for ten fun uses for these great products!

1. Journaling Supplies

Photo By: Brittany K. Combo Bag.

It’s the beginning of a new year and we all went out and bought those fancy planners and journals to plan out our lives this year. Granted the first half of the year will probably have a whole lotta nothing, it’s still fun to accessorize and fantasize. These combo zipper bags are more than just reusable snack bags. They are excellent for storing all of the stickers, markers, pens and stencils you bought on Etsy in a rush to “get ourselves organized”! And cute prints to really show off our new found hobby.

2. Hypatia Pads (and other fun bathroom necessities!)

Photo By: Katie P.

Of course the combo bags were designed in conjunction with the release of LH Hypatia Menstrual Pads, so it only makes sense that they make the list of things you can use the bags for. If you aren’t a Hyps user (we won’t hold it against you, we promise!) you can also use these lovely bags for any of your bathroom essentials. They are lined with the same water resistant PUL that many other LH products use, making them great for things that are wet, soggy or, dare I say it, moist.

3. Secret-not-to-be-shared Snacks

You know. The snacks you want to eat in secret, in the closet, out of earshot of the kids (or pets!). Yes, those snacks. Since the Bite Bags come in a few different sizes you can choose how big (or small) of a snack you sneak off to consume. Unlike disposable bags, these reusable snack bags feature fun designs, so your secret is safe inside.

4. First Aid Kit

My family has one current bandaid addict. She prefers cute bandaids that fall off 5 min after you apply them. So we go through a lot. I always have a small first aid kit tucked in our go bag for legit cuts, scrapes and boo-boos and the occasional replacement magical bandaid. The combo bag or the big bite bags are great for this use.

5. Accessories for your kids

Photo By: Amanda U.

Seriously, kids have so many things you have to pack with them on outings. What better use than small, zippered bags with fun prints to keep everything in check? From spoons, sippy cups, bibs (check out our Biggie Bibs here), wash cloths (and our T-Shirt wipes), and anything else you can imagine, these bags hold it all. And with the snaps on either end they can hook together so you don’t lose them as easily.

6. Small Pieces

Photo By: Erica C.

Kids’ toys and activities always have tons of pieces. They might actually be designed for us parents to spend all our waking time finding the ONE LOST PIECE. The zippered bags with bright prints and colors make it just a little bit easier for those small pieces to stay relatively close together. Goodbye plastic baggies, hello reusable snack bags!

7. Coloring Supplies

Photo By: Erica C.

On the go coloring supplies. Chalk for the park. Markers for the car. Crayons for grandma’s house. All are valid uses of the snack bags. Plus with the PUL inner layer, cleaning up is easy as tossing them in the wash.

8. EXTRA POCKETS

Photo By: Katie F.

All of us women have this same problem in life. The lack of pockets. Or pockets that won’t even fit a measurable bit of lint. Seriously infuriating at times. Thankfully LH put snaps on the sides of the snack bags so we can increase our pocket capacity fairly easily. Genius!

9. Treasure Bag

It is not gold coins usually, but kids do have a way of collecting things while they are on adventures. An easy thing to do with a snack bag is to let your child put their favorite items from their latest expedition inside for safe keeping. That way you don’t end up finding a dead frog in a pocket 3 weeks later. (Not that anyone here has had that happen…)

10. Snacks obviously

Photo By: Katie F.

Parents of children know they will eat snacks any given Sunday. With three sizes of reusable snack bags, the options for mobile food are endless. Carrots, cookies, granola bars, food pouches, etc. There is definitely one that will meet your needs. Not to mention the coordinating sets can let your kids each show off their personalities.

Wanna try a Large or Small Bite Bag? Order up to 6 and get free lettermail shipping! Use code TRYABITE

Placing a larger order and want to try a Bite Bag? Use code 10OFFBITE for 10% off any bite bags (bundle not included).

Whew, you made it! Do you have a favorite way to use the Bite Bags that was not listed here? Share below in the comments!

Single-Use Swaps: Five Ideas for a Greener Home

Hi everyone! Caitlin here on the blog this week to share my five favorite single-use swaps I’m made in my home.

Avoiding single-use products helps us reduce our household waste which is great for the environment, and personally, I love it because a lot of these swaps have allowed us to have less need to constantly take our garbage out! Make laundry not landfill as they say!

Single-Use Swap # 1 – Paper towels and Napkins for cloth wipes

This is one single-use swap I’ve been making in my kitchen over the last year. We’ve cut our paper towel use in half by keeping a basket of washcloths and a wetbag on the counter.

This has cut down on our kitchen garbage in a HUGE way. Between tables, counters, sticky little fingers, and oh so many spills that come with mom life, I use about half a dozen cloths a day.

single-use swaps cloth wipes

I rinse and wring them out each night and leave them to hang dry. Then, in the morning I toss them in the wetbag to be added to the wash on laundry day.

Really no more work than changing out the paper towel roll was. We still keep paper towel on hand but this single-use swap has been one small switch with a HUGE impact on our household waste and making our home a little more green.

Single-Use Swap # 2 – Plastic straws for metal or silicone

This one has gained a lot of steam recently, with lots of folks ditching plastic straws. But there are of course times when you really need a straw, on the go or at home.

I’ve found these jumbo silicone straws make my toddler super excited to drink her green smoothies every day.

There are all kinds of options out there when looking to swap our single-use straws. Sometimes with reusable items, it takes time to find what works for you. If you don’t like metal, try silicone, and if you don’t like that you can find paper disposable options or reusable plastic. There are lots of choices so don’t give up if you don’t like the first type you try!

Single-Use Swap # 3 – Reusable Produce Bags

Most folks have made the switch these days from plastic grocer bags to reusable, but a less thought of plastic during your weekly grocery trip is those thin plastic produce bags provided at the store.

Swap out single-use produce bags by bringing your own cotton or lightweight mesh bags. Bonus, no need to struggle to open them when you have your mask on at the store!

This is also a fun DIY project! You can make your own bags, keep an eye here on the Lil Helper blog, I’ll be sharing my cotton bag DIY instructions next month!

Single-Use Swap # 4 – Reusable snack bags

Another fact of life when it comes to parenting, toddlers gotta snack. So you can either go through 2 or 3 single-use plastic sandwich bags with every outing or swap them out and invest in some reusable snack bags.

Lil Helper bite bags are also easy for little fingers to open and won't tear or spill as easily as flimsy single-use plastic.

Single-Use Swap # 5 – Disposable for cloth diapers

Since this is the blog for Lil Helper, I had to mention this switch. But the biggest thing I want to say here is don’t be intimidated by cloth diapers, and just because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean you can’t do anything.

With my first, I cloth diapered full time, day and night from 6 weeks. Until she was not quite two and potty trained early, and now she wears disposables for nap and night time.

With my second, I have cloth diapered since six weeks as well but not at night. She has been a good sleeper and with adjusting to two kids, I’ve been hesitant to do anything with even the chance of messing with that.

Every diaper saved from the landfill is a win in my book. Test it out. Maybe your little one will use just a few a day of cloth and mostly disposable, or vice versa. This is one single-use swap that can seem intimidating at first. Try it out, there's a great deal to get you going here.

Of course, there are always more ways to go green. Choose products with less packaging. Try composting. And keep your eye on Lil Helper for more ecofriendly products to come!

What do you think? What single-use swaps are you making in your house to save money and the environment? Let us know in the comments below!