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Best Track Out Camps

School is officially back in session. I’m thrilled to send my daughter off to school (with a mask of course) but the next logistical challenge is already upon us. We have all of two weeks before the first teacher work-day and it’s time to line up our track-out and day camp options. I’ve listed some of our favorite track-out options. Did we miss anything? Let us know!

Camp Chillin’ at Polar Ice

Locations in Raleigh, Cary, and Wake Forest

Full and half-day options

Ages 6-12

Activities: Ice skating, hockey, arts and crafts, STEM, Team-building activities

Rush Hour Karting Academy

Garner

Ages 8-14

Activities: Driving skills, basketball, arts and crafts, games and team-building, weekly inflatables and wall-climbing, fields trips to swimming, bowling, ice-skating and more

Science and Math Interactive Learning Experience

Raleigh/Cary border

Ages 5-18

Activities: Math, physics, chemistry, engineering, technology, coding, and more

YMCA of the Triangle

Multiple Locations

Ages 5-14

Activities: Swimming, games, sports, arts and crafts

Enso Movement - Parkour

North Raleigh

Full and half-day options

Ages 6+

Activities: skill-building lessons, confidence- and team-building games, and more

Marbles Kids Museum Camps

Downtown Raleigh

Ages 5-10

Activities: hands-on, play-based learning enrichment in activity rooms, play in the museum, and join in active outdoor play

The Little Gym

Half and full-day options

North Raleigh

Ages 3-12

Activities: Gymnastics, Legos, Arts and Crafts

Wake Forest Ninja Academy

Wake Forest

Ages 5-14

Activities: Games, team-building, ninja warrior skill-building

sensory bins for hot summer days

Sensory bins, aside from just being good fun, come with a whole host of benefits for our kiddos. By engaging all the senses in play, sensory bins encourage cognitive development, enhance memory, build vocabulary, and strengthen fine and gross motor skills. Additionally, it introduces the concept of cause and effect and provides ample opportunities for experimental play, problem-solving, and logical thinking.

What’s better than all these wonderful benefits?! The kids love a good sensory bin and it’s a great way to keep them busy during the dog days of summer. So grab your bins and take advantage of these simple ideas. We highly recommend you enjoy these bins outside so that you can fully enjoy the fun your kids are having and not stress about the mess. Just me?

Work Site - Fill a bin with dirt and construction vehicles.

Car Wash - Once the kids have played with their worksite sensory bin, fill a second bin with soapy water and sponges.

Ice Table - Ice and a bit of water. My kids enjoy bringing out the paint and paintbrushes for this one too.

Science Table - Fill a bin with baking soda and give the kids droppers and little cups of vinegar.

Bubble Foam - 2:1 ratio of water to bubble bath. Mix on high with a blender and fill your bins.

Under the Sea - Fill a bin with water, plastic fish, and glitter just for fun. Give the kids nets or even just a strainer from the kitchen.

Edible Sand - ½ C. Corn Meal, ½ C. Flour, 1 Tbsp Oil, 1 Tbsp corn syrup, small sand toys. Find the recipe here.

Shaving Cream Marbleizing - Shaving cream and food coloring. Give the kids a toothpick or wooden skewer and let them make shapes and designs in the shaving cream.

Watermelon - Give the kids a half a watermelon and a melon baller. Have a bowl on the side for their little melon balls. A snack and an activity all in one.

The possibilities with sensory bins are endless. Let us know what your favorites are.

Keywords: sensory bin, toddler activities, fine motor skills, sensory play, cognitive development, water table

Meal Planning Apps and Tools for Busy Families

When I stay on top of meal planning, it significantly reduces stress and my mental load. So with that being said, I’ve compiled a list of Meal Planning Apps and websites that will hopefully ease some of your mental load. But first, a couple of things to note when choosing the right meal planning tool for you:

  • Make sure they cater to the right diet (quick and healthy, kid-friendly, vegan, gluten free etc.)

  • Some apps and websites are free, or offer a free trial

  • Solid menu and recipe variety (my kids definitely protest repeated meals so I’m all for the quick and easy solutions)

  • Automatically generated shopping lists

  • Calendar sync

Without further ado:

Our Favorite Meal Planning Tools For Your Busy Family

Cozi Recipe Box & Dinner Planner

An add-on to the Cozi Family Organizer, we like this app for the ability to import recipes from the web. If you already use the family planner, you can easily add recipes, make a shopping list and add everything to your weekly calendar. Another wonderful feature is “cooking mode” which will keep your phone or tablet awake so you don’t have to track down your recipe with raw chicken on your hands!

Mealime

We like Mealime for the ability to personalize your meal plans. They can accommodate tons of different dietary preferences and even note allergies. Even better, you can tell the app which foods you don’t like. An unpopular opinion, I can’t stand bananas and any recipe that features bananas immediately gets chucked. It’s nice that the app does the pre-screen so you don’t have to. You can also choose serving size and how many meals you intend on cooking each week.

Yummly

This free service has an extensive recipe collection and caters to many different dietary restrictions and food preferences. Yummly has partnered with Instacart so when you plug in your zip code, they autogenerate a shopping list broken down by store isle. Even if you’re not using Instacart to deliver your groceries, your shopping trip is insanely efficient. No more doubling back because you forgot to pick up that one item from the other side of the produce section!

Pepper Plate

Like others, Pepper Plate allows you to import and sort recipes and auto generates your grocery list. What’s special about this app is their “Cook Now” feature. This tool lets you set up multiple timers to keep track of everything you're making. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find your head spinning from the 4 different timers, not remembering why Alexa is yelling at you.

Meal Planner Pro

This free service focuses on healthy eating and unlike other apps, also offers breakfast and lunch options. What sets this tool aside is the focus not just on dietary preferences, but customizing meals for conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, digestive health and more.

Big Oven

With both free and paid options, there are two features I love about Big Oven. First, you can take a pic of your family recipes and can upload it into your recipe collection. Second, leftovers! Big Oven has a feature in which you select up to three leftover ingredients and they will make recipe suggestions based on what’s hanging out unused in your fridge. So cool.

Meal Planning for Family of 5

I signed up for my first Body Well session (back then it was Body Back) when my oldest was a year old. Hands down the best habit I got from it, aside from a new-found love for exercise, is meal planning. Last week my plans changed suddenly and I found myself without a plan for dinner one day. My stress levels were infinitely higher than normal that day and I wish that were an exaggeration.

Every family meal plans differently and what matters most is finding a routine that works for you. Every Sunday morning, I sit down with my coffee and a whiteboard that lives on my fridge. I scroll through Pinterest (I’m a little crazy when it comes to organizing my boards) or favorite cookbooks (loving SkinnyTaste right now) and decide what to serve each day. Only on weekdays because heck, someone else can worry about dinner on the weekend. I personally aim for one or two days with chicken, one with beef, and 2 vegetarian days. Taco Tuesdays (Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas) are a big hit as is build your own flatbread pizza night. With a menu set, I can create my shopping list and then use the online shopping services provided by Sam’s Club and Harris Teeter. I schedule pickups for Monday and we’re set for the week.

This routine works for my family and it’s so beneficial to find something that works for you. My method is admittedly low-tech. It’s a white board menu and then paper and pen to write out my shopping list. Without fail, I will forget necessary items without the list. It also prevents me from impulse purchases which the bank account likes.

What does your meal planning routine look like? Stay tuned for the next post in which I share some of my favorite meal planning apps and tools!

How to Keep My Toddler Busy While I'm feeding the baby

Ok, real talk mamas. I’ve got 3 kids and figuring out tricks to keep the toddler busy while tethered to a nursing baby is no easy feat. Yes, I have walked around the house nursing the baby while opening an apple sauce or disconnecting stubborn lego blocks. I can say with absolute certainty that it is neither graceful nor effective as inevitably both the toddler and the infant will feel slighted.

So I share with you, in my infinite wisdom, some tricks I’ve picked up along the way to keep older children happy while still bonding with and keeping the tiny human paperweight alive.

Tricks to Entertain Your Toddler While Nursing

If you’ve got a toddler at home with you, mindlessly scrolling through your phone or catching up on Netflix are not options. But there is a way to bond with both kiddos at once.

  1. Keep a basket of favorite books next to your nursing chair. Enjoy some quiet story time together. My kids love to help by holding the books and turning the pages while my hands are full. Fair warning - you may get a little dizzy following the words in a book held by a toddler.

  2. Ask the toddler to help you. Intentionally leave the water bottle on the other side of the room and ask them to go get it for you. It can be their job to keep you hydrated. Hydration is so important while nursing so if this doesn’t work with your kiddo, pick a different object to try it with or just skip this suggestion.

  3. Have toddler accessible snacks on a low shelf. My kids were always somehow starving the minute I sat down to nurse. The apple sauce and fruit are always kept within reach. This has had the added bonus of me not having to get up even if I’m not tethered down by a baby.

  4. Play games like “I Spy” or “Silly ABCs”.

  5. Have other activities ready to go nearby. My daughter loves to color so I make sure that the crayons and coloring page are right there so she can entertain herself and still have me to talk to.

  6. Encourage nurturing play. Have dolls or toys and little tea towels that your big kid can “put to bed” or nurse while you’re taking care of baby.

  7. Have a special box of quiet toys that you pull out only when nursing. Felt books, soft blocks or even Magnatiles. Sensory bins are great too. If the weather is nice, consider a bucket of ice in the backyard while you nurse in the shade. Another fun outdoors one is giving the kiddos a spray bottle of water and a towel to clean.

  8. Practice meditation and deep breathing with your little one. My daughter’s favorite is to breathe in the scent of a flower and blow out a candle. Helps both of us relax!

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you can maintain the quiet so baby can get a good meal. I found that the quiet enabled some wonderful bonding with my older kids that may not have happened otherwise.

Are there any tips that have worked for you to entertain your big kid while nursing? Let us know!

Also - if you’re looking for ideas to get out of the house with your toddler and newborn, consider these great indoor play spaces to keep the big one entertained and contained and come see us for Stroller Strides & Stroller Barre!

Keywords: breastfeeding, nursing, newborn, Parenting, Simple Parenting Tricks , toddler, toddler activities, motherhood

List of spraygrounds in Raleigh and Wake Forest

Summer is most definitely here and I can’t think of a better way to entertain the kids than a trip to the sprayground. The Triangle has some amazing splash pads in every corner so grab their swimsuits, snacks, and sunscreen and look forward to some solid naps!

Note that pricing for city pools is pretty consistent. Raleigh residents can expect to pay:

  • $2 - children 12 and under

  • $4 - ages 13-54

  • $3 - ages 55+

Fuquay-Varina Splash Pad

Located in South Park, this splash pad is well worth the 2$ admission - free for under 2 and FV residents.

Jack Smith Park

One of our absolute favorites, the kids love this splash pad. And if a morning of waterplay wasn’t enough, this park also features 2 playgrounds, a climbing boulder, cute sheep sculptures the kids can climb on and access to a greenway trail.

Taylor Street Park Sprayground

Located in Wake Forest, this park has a water feature for every age, a playground, and even grills for a barbecue.

Lake Johnson Pool

Featuring both a lap and recreation pool, a baby pool with a shower tower, and, obviously, a sprayground. Well worth the cost of admission. City pricing.

Millbrook Exchange Pool

Home to what might be the largest baby pool I’ve ever seen, our kids love running back and forth between the sprayground and the wading pool. City pricing.

Ridge Road Pool

The best part about this spot is that the sprayground and wading pool are right next to each other and not separated by a fence so the kiddos can freely move from one to the other.

Holding Park Aquatic Center

A large pool with diving boards, 2 big water slides, and an impressive sprayground, my kids ask for this pool by name. I never hesitate to dish out the admission for this spot. There are also plenty of spots to sit in sun or shade depending on your preference.

Hill Ridge Farms

Indeed the sprayground is wonderful. I recommend Hill Ridge for the many other family activities and attractions - train rides, a maze, jumping pillows, and animals. On the pricier end but easily a full day that the kids will love.

red white and blue parfait

The 4th of July is just days away, temperatures are rising, and all I want in the morning is a refreshing breakfast to start my day off right. This recipe from FIT4MOM’s Body Well Nutrition Guide & Recipe Book is made even better when you use some delicious blueberries from one of the many U-Pick farms in the area. I intend to use my blueberry haul from Vollmer Farm in Bunn!

Red, White, & Blue Breakfast Parfait

Makes 1 Serving

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup fresh blueberries

  • ½ cup plain yogurt - coconut or dairy-based (non-flavored)

  • ¼ cup raspberries

  • ⅓ cup raw slivered almonds

  • 1 dash ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add fresh blueberries to the bottom of a clear jar or small bowl

  2. Next, create a layer with yogurt

  3. Add raspberries

  4. Top with almonds and cinnamon

Need more information about the Body Well Coaching group, Gather 30-day Meal Plan or other FIT4MOM programs? Check out www.midtownraleigh.fit4mom.com and stay tuned for more healthy summer recipes from FIT4MOM!

fathers day photo op

Father’s Day is just around the corner. Hopefully you’re not like me and are scrambling to plan something last minute - mom brain is real - but if you are, here are some ideas to celebrate all the Dad’s in your life.

Photo Shoot

What dad can resist an adorable pic of the little ones? Join us Wednesday June 16th at 10:30 am at Green Hills Park for a DAD photo shoot! Even better, come an hour early and join us for Stroller Strides!

Craft Project

Can’t join us Wednesday? Come for a Father’s Day themed craft after 9am Stroller Strides on Thursday June 17th at NCMA.

If you’re looking to do something at home with the kiddos, I loved this suggestion from one of our stellar Fit4Mom Midtown Raleigh instructors. “Instead of cards we have a notebook that the kids answer questions in every year and trace their hand/ sign their name. It’s been a hit so far and I love that it’s in one place to keep for years to come :)”

Family Sweat Sesh

Bring your baby-daddy to 9 am Stroller Strides at NCMA on Saturday, June 19th and gift him with a fun family sweat sesh on us!

*Bonus Juneteenth Story Time after Stroller Strides in the West building at 1030a that we encourage you to check out.

Family Excursion on the Eno River

A favorite morning in our family is a hike to Bobbit’s Hole followed by a refreshing swim in the Eno and a BBQ lunch just down Cole Mill Rd at Picnic.

Steak of the Month Club

I don’t know about you but we’ve got some serious carnivores in our family. Support a local business and your carnivores with The Butcher’s Market Steak of the Month Club.

Fine Spirits Subscription

Flaviar brings the distillery tasting experience home. Choose from themed Tasting Boxes that will introduce your lucky guy to new, rare, and exciting spirits.

Therabody Natural Health

For a short time only, buy dad a Theragun Pro and get a free Wave Solo. Theragun is a wonderful percussive therapy solution for tension relief used by athletes around the world.

Post Bedtime Date Night

Once the kids are in bed, pour dad a nice glass of whiskey, give him a massage and just enjoy the evening together. Just like we want a break on Mother’s Day, I asked my husband and he said this was his ideal.

No Dad’s in Your Family?

I grew up with a single mom. That meant she got to play mom, dad, and executioner. I kid...sort of. But Father’s Day was never a thing in my house (shout out to the amazing Fit4Mom Midtown Raleigh team for the above suggestions). My mom’s tradition on Father’s Day is to treat herself along with another friend that was also raising her kiddos solo. They would get together for brunch and a movie and give themselves a beyond deserved pat on the back. This obviously works for two-mom families as well! We see you and we love you.

Happy Father’s Day!

jogging stroller bog jogger running

Jogging is a great form of exercise. Maintaining good form with a stroller definitely adds some challenges but is critical to preventing injuries. We’ve gathered a few tips so that your jog can be fun, safe, and effective.

When can I start running with my baby?

For starters, most pediatricians & stroller manufacturers recommend waiting till 6-8 months. It’s important that your baby has good neck control. Some, myself included, will run with the car seat plugged into the stroller. This provides the baby with proper head support but does make the stroller top-heavy. If you choose to start running earlier with the car seat adaptor, take it slow and choose flat, straight paths for your runs.

Are there stroller safety features I need to look for?

When running with a stroller, always use the safety strap around your wrist and lock the front wheel. Especially as you’re adjusting to running with a stroller, choose your paths carefully so you can focus on figuring out this new style of running. This should go without saying but always make sure that baby is safely buckled before any run.

What about my form?

While you are pushing the stroller with your arms, the power should really come from your legs and core. Keep your core close to the stroller to prevent yourself from bending forward. Hold on to the stroller with one arm so you can use your free arm to pump as you would during a stroller-free run. Make sure to switch arms regularly.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Give yourself grace. Running with a stroller is an adjustment. Forget pace and focus on good form. It may always feel challenging because the weight you are pushing (.i.e. your baby) is constantly increasing. If you find that your locked front wheel is causing your stroller to bounce, you're likely pressing down on your stroller handle bar and don't realize you're doing it. Try holding the stroller bar from underneath and see if that helps!

What about the kids?

There’s an obvious additional challenge when jogging with the stroller...the kid. You may have to make frequent stops. The baby is crying or the toddler wants a snack or needs to go potty. For starters, bring snacks, a travel potty, and books or toys to keep your kiddo distracted and maybe even a travel white noise maker. If you’re lucky, the rhythmic rocking of your run will put your child to sleep, but that’s not a given. Be prepared. If it’s really hot, consider a stroller fan. If raining, use a rain cover.

A good jog can give you endorphins and energize you for the rest of the day. Hopefully these tips will allow you to maintain a regular jogging routine that will keep you and the kiddos sane.

Want some in-person tips for running with a stroller or some fellow mamas to workout with? Come visit us at Stroller Strides, Stroller Barre or Strides 360. Your first class is free!

pick your own fruit farms in the Triangle

North Carolina has way more seasons than my family is accustomed to (California transplants) but my absolute favorite is finally here: U-Pick season! My kids love grabbing their baskets and visiting one of the many wonderful u-pick farms. In no particular order, I present to you our favorite U-Pick Farms in the triangle.

I highly recommend following these farms on Facebook as that seems to be where they update their hours and if fields need to close for ripening.

Lyon Farms, Creedmoor

1544 Munns Rd., Creedmoor, NC 27522

919-528-3263

Check Facebook for updates.

Spring: Strawberries

Summer: Blackberries, Blueberries, Tomatoes, Peaches

Page Farms, Raleigh

6100 Mt. Herman Rd., Raleigh, NC 27617

919-451-5534

Check Facebook for updates.

Spring: Strawberries

Summer: Blackberries

Fall: Pumpkins

Buckwheat Farm, Apex

2700 Holland Road, Apex, NC 27502.

919-303-0339

Check Facebook for updates.

buckwheatfarm@bellsouth.net

Spring: Strawberries

Summer: Blueberries

Phillips Farm, Cary

6701 Good Hope Church Rd, Cary, NC 27519

919-467-3004

Check Facebook for updates.

Spring: Strawberries

The farm also hosts a lovely farmers’ market and has Christmas trees in the winter.

Granny Pearls Farm, Zebulon

7209 Mitchell Mill Rd., Zebulon, NC 27597

919-426-1772

Check Facebook for updates.

June and July: Blackberries

July: Blackberries, Peaches

August and September: Pears, Apples, Grapes