Organizing Your Freezer Meals for Easy Summer Cooking

by Gena Kittner

I love the term “nesting.” It brings to mind a plump little momma bird busily feathering her home. Lately, I can relate, at least regarding the plump part, and with this pregnancy, my nesting tendencies have taken a decidedly food-related turn.

Let me explain.

“New Baby” will be born in July, one of the two hottest months in Tucson, with an average high temperature of 99 degrees.

There are many adjustments I’ve learned to make here during the summer. For example, I now place a frozen water bottle in Ellie’s car seat while running errands to make it bearable for her to climb in after a grocery run.

Crayons and granola bars are diaper bag no nos as both will melt into gooey messes.

But the trickiest part, for me, is figuring out what the he** to cook for dinner. I’ll admit, this question stumps me even when it’s not 100 degrees, but I find it especially challenging when the last thing I want to do it turn on the oven or stove.

So I’ve turned to the freezer.

Don't turn on the oven or stove this summer to cook! Instead spend some time organizing your freezer meals and have easy meals all summer long using these tips.

I’m a big fan of freezing food. Soups, steaks, fruit, quiches, pies, hummus — all find homes in my freezer. The problem, though, is finding and remembering what you have, otherwise you’re stuck with a quart bag of what you think is spaghetti sauce that turns out to be beef stew (true story). My goal is that leading up to, during and after New Baby’s arrival, I can take the stress out of making dinner by easily pulling something out of the freezer.

So I recently decided to spend half an hour and overhaul my freezer. Here’s what I did:

  • To avoid future spaghetti sauce/beef stew mishaps, virtually everything in the freezer is stored in a quart or gallon freezer bag that’s labeled and dated.
  • I have a side-by-side freezer with several shelves and a drawer at the bottom, so I organized all food into separately themed shelves. For example, the bottom two shelves are MREs — Meals Ready to Eat. Leftovers like chili, soup, or already cooked meat that can be defrosted and heated in the microwave. NO STOVE REQUIRED.
  • Another shelf I dedicated to raw meats for the grill. Steaks, pork chops, scallops, etc. On the door I have smaller shelves dedicated to frozen veggies, cheeses and lunch items (Morning Star burgers, etc.).
  • The biggest shelf is for over-sized items. The huge bag of chicken breasts from Costo, a gallon of ice cream, a pork butt, etc. Finally, the top shelf is for dessert and breakfast items such as frozen loaves of bread, cookie dough and popsicles.
  • In addition to labeling the bags of food themselves, I put actual stickies in the freezer indicating which shelves have which foods. My thought is when my butt’s glued to the couch nursing new baby, daddy, grandma etc. can easily located some dinner options.
  • If you have the type of freezer that sits on top or underneath the fridge, I suggest organizing the freezer bags of food into small plastic bins that you can easily pull out and look through. I did this in my house in Wisconsin with good success.

This is just what applies best for my family — your freezer organization might take on different themes. For example, my husband grills most every weekend, so having a shelf dedicated to just raw meat makes sense. Maybe you’ve done a make-ahead crockpot workshop and want to dedicate a shelf just for that. Or you often take frozen dinners to work for lunch — dedicating a freezer shelf would maximize your staking space and minimize the chances of those boxes sliding out every time you open the door (yes, I know from experience).

The key, I believe, is knowing what you have and where it is. So here’s to a coming summer of keeping cool and low-stress dinners (I hope!).

Gena is a Midwest transplant living in TucsoGena Kittnern, Arizona with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, Ellie. When not killing scorpions, Gena writes about food and family. Follow her on Twitter @genakittner, and check out her previous posts on Mommy Sanest.

5 Surprising Ways Essential Oils Can Make Your Home Life Easier + a Giveaway

By Angela Baker

Are you using essential oils? It seems that everyone and their neighbor has started hoarding these tiny bottles. I started learning about essential oils a year ago, and the natural approach to wellness and housekeeping immediately appealed to me. The more I learn, the more it seems that keeping a stash of essential oils in the home is a smart move when you consider the many practical uses.

Practical and smart ways to use essential oils in the home. Easy recipes (directions) for making homemade, natural pest control spray, all-purpose cleaner, shoe deodorizer, and hand sanitizer using essential oils.

Pest control

You suspect you have a pest problem, but you’re not ready to call the exterminator and spray your house full of who-knows-what. Try a homemade pest control spray with essential oils instead. Peppermint oil naturally repels many of the most common pests, including mice, ants, spiders, house flies, and some other things you don’t even want to think about.

To make a natural, indoor-friendly bug spray that’s safe around kids: Fill a small spray bottle with water and 10-15 drops of peppermint oil. Spray around the affect area. For greater coverage, spray the entire interior and exterior perimeter of the house.

Even better, many essential oils have properties that naturally repel mosquitos and other outdoor pests. Essential oils are derived from the part of the plant that produces the aromatic compounds that protects it from natural predators and other environmental threats. Using the oils as an insect repellent means you are harnessing the natural defense system of several different plants, and using them to boost your own defenses. TerraShield Repellent Blend is safe for the whole family and naturally repels mosquitos when diffused, blended with water to make homemade bug spray, or applied directly to the skin.

Less mess = Less stress

Lemon oil has a multitude of household cleaning uses, all of which will save you from purchasing separate products for specific messes. Among the cleaning problems solved by lemon oil: scud marks, tarnished silver, grease marks on the range hood, and hard water build-up, along with your everyday, dirty kitchen counters and bathroom fixtures. Lemon is safe on practically any surface, including stainless steel appliances and granite/natural stone counters.

To make a homemade, all-purpose cleaner: Add ½ cup white vinegar, 1 ½ cups water, and 5-10 drops of lemon oil to a glass spray bottle. Use to safely clean surfaces throughout your home.

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Deodorize summer shoes

Sometimes parenthood stinks in the most literal sense. Potty training? Aggressive diaper pail odor? Stinky shoes? Essential oils don’t just mask odors — they neutralize and replace some of your home’s most offensive smells. And tiny, sweaty feet can produce some of the most impressive shoe odor in the summer. Rather than trashing the offensive shoes, deodorize naturally with essential oils.

To remove the stench from a favorite pair of shoes: Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 5 drops of DoTERRA’s Purify blend (or your favorite citrus oil). Dump one tablespoon of the mixture in to the heel of each shoe, and shake it down to the toe area. After sitting for up to 24 hours, shake out the excess powder, and voila, de-stinked shoes.

Immunity boost

As a parent, I would do anything I could to avoid my children getting sick. And yet, I don’t want to keep them locked in the house to avoid contact with potential runny noses.

Essential oils can support your effort to keep your family healthy by boosting the body’s natural defenses and curb the spreading germs through the house. Just like essential oils are the natural defense system of the plant, they are also the immune system. The aromatic oils of a plant keep it healthy and protect it from environmental threats. By applying appropriate oils, you can harness the power of plants to support your own immune system.

To make homemade hand sanitizer: Mix 5 tablespoons aloe vera gel, 4 tablespoons water, ¼ teaspoon Vitamin E oil, and 8-10 drops OnGuard protective blend. Pour in to a small squeeze container.

Shaken, not stirred

Parenting goes down easier with a chilled beverage. Enhance your bedtime celebration with an infused cocktail. No need to keep a fully-stocked bar. Essential oils make it easy to get creative when mixing up drinks. A drop of lime oil pairs nicely with a gin and tonic. Or ,give your mojito an extra punch with a drop of lime and a drop of peppermint.

When using essential oils in your drink, make sure you are using the highest quality oil available. Not all brands of essential oils are safe for consumption, and the bottle will let you know if yours is safe. DoTERRA oils are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade, which means that many of them are safe for consumption. Look for the nutrition facts on the label if you’re not sure. Other, less pure and concentrated brands have a warning label instead: Not for consumption.

Of course, essential oils offer many, many more possibilities for home use. These are just a few of my favorites. What’s your favorite way to use essential oils?

Angela Baker is a mother of two daughters, natural living ATBenthusiast, and DoTERRA wellness advocate. Her blueberry sourdough pancakes are better than you can imagine. Follow her on Facebook at Naturally Easy Living to hear more about essential oils and ways to keep things simple at home.

DIY EssentialOil Shower Bombs Try these five strategies to help you feel more balanced throughout the day. Perfect for overwhelmed moms who feel like they don't have time to center themselves. All of these take less than an hour a day (and some save you time). My Natural Skincare Routine | Oil Cleansing | Homemade Skincare Products

If Caillou’s Mom was a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills

Disclaimer: Mommy Sanest is not a place for judgment of other moms, but we are making an exception for Real Housewives and cartoon characters.

By Sarah Berg

Caillou – it’s that show you let your toddler watch one time. You hated it, but your kid loved it, and now he’s always asking to watch it.

Like many aspects of parenting it’s time to weigh the pros and cons of the situation before making a decision.

Situation: Should I let my kid watch Caillou?

Making this call is kind of like deciding whether or not your kid should eat food off the floor. You know it’s bad, but is it really that bad?

My inner monologue goes something like this: Ugh… Cliff (my kid) is asking to watch Caillou. I hate that show. If he watches Caillou will he become as annoying as Caillou? That kid is so whiny. Plus, he’s always yelling at his sister. I don’t like that. Speaking of his sister, how old is she? They act like she’s 9 months, but she has the vocabulary and motor skills of a 2-year-old. It’s so confusing. Also, and I’m sorry, this is mean, but what’s up with his hair? I don’t understand the early onset male pattern balding. He’s 4 years old (I know because he says so in the opening song). Shouldn’t he have hair by now? I will feel bad if he has a genetic condition. Wait, why would I feel bad? He’s a cartoon! On the other hand, when I think about it, the show isn’t that bad. It’s not like there’s any violence. And I guess they try to tie in a lesson about sharing… and… I don’t know. One time Caillou learned he shouldn’t pretend to be a lion and scare babies. I guess those are all important lessons. Plus, Cliff is so engaged with the show. But first, let’s see if he notices me turning on Super Why instead. Oh crap, he’s screaming. I can’t take it! Okay decision made – he can watch Caillou.


I’m going to change gears. I am writing today not to bash Caillou – that’s been done. I’m actually writing to bash his parents, specifically his mother, Doris. And the reason I’m bashing her is because, frankly, I’m jealous of her life. And since I am also jealous of some of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast members and since season 5 is coming to a close, I couldn’t help but think about how Caillou’s mom has a little bit of RHOBH in her. Here are some similarities between Caillou’s mom and a few of the RHOBH cast members and how Doris would have handled some of the sticky situations we saw the real housewives get themselves into this season.

If Caillou's Mom was a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills


Both Yolanda and Doris have nailed down that “work-life balance” myth we’re all aiming to achieve. Between tending to 500 lemon trees and maintaining a perfectly fresh see-through fridge, Yolanda also manages to help pack her kids up for college, schedule an easy-on-the-eyes yoga instructor for a private lesson, and take a ton of vitamins for her Lyme disease every single day. Meanwhile, Doris has the ability to drown out all the noise around her and focus. She never misses a chance to improve her yoga practice, even when her crazy 4-year-old Caillou has an electric train set going in circles around her. Doris didn’t even notice when Caillou broke the train. (Spoiler alert: He realized he should admit his mistake and confess.) All of this happened while Doris was juicing kale and beets, obviously.

But the biggest thing Yolanda and Doris have in common is their relationships with their spouses. Sure, Yolanda always says, “Hey ladies, my life is not perfect. Let’s be real friends, not ‘Hollywood friends.’” But let’s face it, only the perfect side of her marriage to David Foster is ever shown (even though that one time he was kind of a dick to Taylor Armstrong… “You used to be married to my best friend! Stop acting like you never met me!”). Sure, I wish Yolanda would tone down the sexual references, “Oh we were away on vacation, doing what lovers do.” I didn’t need to know that. Regardless, it seems to me like David and Yolanda handle parenting much like Caillou’s mom and dad — meaning, they will not let their children come between their relationship, and by relationship, I’m talking about their physical relationship.

Remember that episode when Caillou was afraid of monsters and he wanted to sleep in his parents bed, and they were all, “No way”? You know there was a real co-parenting discussion that went into that decision far in advance. They seem like the type of couple that anticipates everything and annoyingly communicates well.

The conversation probably went something like this:

Caillou’s dad: Hi there Doris. Can we take a moment to talk about our relationship and how having children has impacted our intimacy and ways that we can combat that problem as a cohesive parenting unit?

Caillou’s mom: Why sure hon. I’ll make some hot cocoa. Then let’s sit down and have a rational, adult discussion.

5 minutes later
Caillou’s mom: Here you go dear. It’s hot, so make sure you blow on it first. (Wink.)

Caillou’s dad: Wow, this hot cocoa is out of this world.

Caillou’s mom: Slow down there big guy. We have a lot to discuss. First of all, since having Caillou and Rosie, I know there aren’t as many opportunities to be intimate with each other as we’d both like. And sure, I’ve been a little self conscious about my body since I did just give birth to Rosie anywhere from nine months to two years ago. Having said that, I’m starting to incorporate yoga and ringette into my daily routine. Sure, this means I tell the kids I’m ‘busy’ whenever they ask me to play, but we both know how important it is to balance ‘work’ and ‘life’. Without that balance, I fear our intimacy will suffer.

Caillou’s dad: That’s a fantastic observation. First let me say that I am so proud of you for being able to take time out for yourself and for being a loving mother and wife. Your body looks amazing. I hope some day in the future you believe me and take off your shirt while we’re making love. [Dorris nods yes.] But let’s not focus on what we don’t have and let’s focus on what we do have and what we can do as a cohesive parenting unit to benefit our relationship and ultimately our entire family.

Caillou’s mom: Of course dear. What did you have in mind?

Caillou’s dad: I propose we implement a structure around bedtime that disallows the kids to sleep in our bed. The bed is a sacred space that is meant for our intimate relations and sleep. If Caillou ever fears there are ‘monsters’ under his bed and asks to sleep with us we should agree to tell him there ‘isn’t enough room,’ even though we did just buy that California king.

Caillou’s mom: That’s a fantastic idea. I fully support this.

End scene.


Both Kyle and Doris will do anything to maintain respect from their children — which means they will not eat space cake on camera. If Doris was given space cake and called out by Brandi for previously smokin’ a doobie, she would have handled it almost the same as Kyle. Except for the fact that she would have lied through gritted teeth. Here’s how that would have gone:

Brandi: Doris, I don’t understand why you’re acting like you’ve never smoked pot. I know you’ve done it. In fact, the last time I smoked weed was with you.

Caillou’s mom (smiling so hard her eyes are about to pop out): Why, that’s a funny thing to say, Brandi. We smoked pot together? How could that be? I don’t usually prep my garden until April. The soil just isn’t ready. And if I had potted something in advance, how would I have smoked it? Do you mean set the weeds in the garden on fire? That actually sounds like a really interesting way to solve my pesky weed problem.

Brandi: Don’t play coy with me. You’re such a hypocrite. You know you smoked the reefer with me. Stop pretending to be something you’re not. You’re not perfect! I’m sick of being called a liar and an alcoholic when you’re just as bad!

Caillou’s mom: Okay Brandi, let’s take a deep breath. When you refer to ‘reefer,’ are you talking about my Australian honeymoon when the hubs and I visited the Great Barrier Reef? I don’t recall seeing you there, but it was an awful long time ago. Either way, I’m sorry you’re upset Brandi. Sometimes we have feelings of happiness and sometimes we have feelings of sadness and sometimes we have feelings of anger. These feelings are a normal part of life.

End scene.


Since this was her first season I don’t know a ton about her. Her story was centered on the drama of other people, but I am excited to learn more about Eileen. I find her fascinating. The same goes for Caillou’s mom. She’s a mystery.

What do we really know about Doris? I actually had to Google, “What is Caillou’s mom’s name”? (P.S. His dad’s name is Boris.) I’m also unclear if Doris works. She occasionally has a “business call” at home. Since I’m pretty sure they don’t live in the U.S., maybe she’s still on a fully paid maternity leave? Maybe she has a flexible work from home job? Perhaps she’s in the direct sales business for Avon or Stella & Dot? Speaking of jobs, we all know that Eileen is an actress by trade – like a real actress (no offense Kim and Kyle) – and we all know that Doris does a lot of acting on a daily basis, considering she’s able to always keep her cool when faced with parenting a dilemma. And by dilemma, I mean her annoying kid.

Lisa V.

Lisa is English; Doris is Canadian. They both like to announce this to everyone. Sure, I’ve never actually heard Doris say she’s Canadian, but they did dedicate an entire episode to her days of playing ringette. That’s Canadian, right? Anyway, Lisa runs a tight ship at home with her family of 10,000 puppies, plus she’s manages a psychiatric hospital named SUR, which proves that she and Doris are basically the same person. Forgive the Vanderpump Rules crossover, but remember that time Lisa tried to convince Stassi to forgive Katie because she’s been “such a loyal friend over the years” and really, she did nothing wrong by going to Scheana’s bachelorette party? That situation is right out of a Caillou storyboard and Doris would have handled it almost the same as Lisa.

Caillou’s mom: Now Stassi, I hear you’re feeling some anger towards Katie for not telling you she was going to Scheana’s bachelorette party.

Stassi: Damn right I’m angry. She’s just like the rest of them. I hate her now. I hope Kristen hooks up with Tom Schwartz so Katie can understand a quarter of the betrayal I’m feeling. Once confirmation of hook-up is attained via Twitter or Insta, I’ll take a red eye to Miami and Uber it to Miami’s state run correctional facility where I will find an inmate willing to trade me some used improvised tattooing equipment – preferably in the form of a mechanical pencil and melted styrofoam – for cigarettes. Then I’ll Uber it to the bachelorette party, sedate Katie with a shot of Jagermeister laced with Xanax and Klonopin so I can easily tattoo KARMA’S A BITCH on her forehead. Wait, is Uber allowed at MIA?

Caillou’s mom: Let’s slow down a minute, Stassi. I understand you’re hurt, but that doesn’t mean using hurtful words will make you feel better. In the end it will just cause even more hurt. And to answer your question, Uber has not been banned from Miami International Airport, to my knowledge.

Stassi yawns: Can I get a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and some fried goat cheese balls?

Caillou’s mom disregards request: Why I’d be happy to make you some hot cocoa. I’ll be right back.

5 minutes later
Caillou’s mom: Here you go. You know, this reminds me of the time my son, Caillou, had his first sleepover at Leo’s house. He was sad and lonely and wanted to come home. But then he realized his teddy bear, Teddy, was in his overnight bag and then he felt better.

Stassi: What does that story have to do with anything?

Caillou’s mom: I think you should apologize to Katie.

Stassi: Look Doris, I know you like being in control of everything, but I no longer work here and I don’t have to listen to you.

Caillou’s mom: I know it’s hard to believe but sometimes the person we’re really mad at is ourselves. That’s not always an easy thing to admit. Sigh. Katie will understand if you call her and say you’re sorry.

Stassi: You’re right, I am sorry.

Caillou’s mom: I’m proud of you, Sta-.

Stassi interrupts: Sorry I didn’t plant a bomb inside Scheana’s penis necklace before they left.

End scene.

Lisa R.

Call her a people pleaser if you want, but at the end of the day Lisa Rinna is able to find the best in everyone (for example, telling Kim she has a beautiful heart less than 48 hours after Kim going crazy on her). To be candid – I love Rinna and she can do no wrong in my eyes, even if that means defending her wine throwing, glass shattering behavior to my 25-year-old co-workers who don’t get her hair and lips. Well I get her hair and her lips, and I will continue to stand up for her, at least until she becomes a mega-diva in her second season like they all do.

Speaking of defending, I’m not a super fan of Doris, but if push comes to shove, meaning if literally someone pushed me so hard it was considered a violent shove, held a knife to my throat and yelled, “You have a choice to make! Either sincerely say five nice things about Caillou’s mom or die,” I would think “WWLRD” and come up with five nice things.

  1. Much like Lisa R, Doris can find the best in everyone. I mean she’s Caillou’s mom and therefore has the patience of a saint. I don’t know what cocktail of happy pills she has to take to get through the day, but whatever it is, it’s working.
  2. She’s always exercising or gardening or doing something for herself and doesn’t apologize for it – bravo Doris!
  3. I don’t think I have ever heard her yell at her husband and she laughs at his terrible jokes.
  4. She cooks three meals a day. I have yet to see a “fend for yourself night” at their house or the kids plopped down eating pizza in front of the TV.
  5. I like her blue Ked-like shoes.

Kim and Brandi were left off this list because I could not not think of one similarity between them and Caillou’s mom and since I hold myself to high journalistic standards, including them would not have been right.

Now that you’ve reached the end of this 3,000 word essay about Caillou’s mom and RHOBH — first of all congrats — you might be wondering, “What’s the point?” Well, child psychologists say… who am I kidding, there isn’t a point, but the next time you’re guilted into watching Caillou I hope that remembering this epic blog post makes it slightly more enjoyable.


Sarah Berg is Lou’s sister. She’s a longtime fan of the Real Housewives, while her 2-year-old son, Cliff, loves Caillou.

Encouraging Early Literacy Skills in Toddlers and Preschoolers


During the toddler and preschool years, you are laying the groundwork for your child’s reading and writing success — but don’t let that overwhelm you. There are reams written about early literacy skills and reading development, and we could spend all day discussing research-based ideas, what educators want to see when your child enters school, and things to do to help your child establish early literacy skills.

But, I don’t believe in making your toddler’s or preschooler’s playtime like school. What I do believe in is creating a literacy friendly environment without judgment, so that your child learns to love books, writing, and creating — not a threatening place where reading, telling stories, and scribbling becomes hard work and not much fun.

8 tips to help parents promote early literacy skills and reading readiness in young children. Try these ideas with your toddler or preschoolers. Build a foundation for reading with your child.

So instead of providing hard and fast rules, I’ll touch on some ideas that you can do easily to help your child begin to establish early literacy skills.

8 Tips for Encouraging Early Literacy Skills in Your Toddler or Preschooler

  1. The most important thing you can do is the most obvious – Read!
  2. Young children need to learn early on that print contains a message, there is a world to discover in a book, and reading is fun. A child is never too young to be read to or to snuggle up with a bedtime story. You can read to your child from the day you bring her home.
  3. It’s important to expose your little one to a variety of genres, including rhyming books, old-fashioned nursery rhymes, fairy tales, alphabet books, label books and poetry. Cadence of language is important and also helps to engage even the most reluctant and ‘busy’ child.
  4. Reading doesn’t start and stop with a book. Reading is all around us — on cereal boxes, road signs, in the mail — opportunities to read to your child are everywhere.
  5. Besides sitting down to read, you can take an ‘interactive approach’ when reading. This means that in addition to reading the text of the story, you can use descriptive phrases to talk about the pictures in the book. I like the approach, but not to the point of losing the thread of a story. If you’re interested in learning more about interactive reading, check out The Incredible Years by Dr. Carolyn Webster-Stratton, who feels it’s important to encourage your child to be an active participant in the reading process.
  6. Another important area of literacy learning is writing. Writing is the reading process slowed down, and scribbling is the first stage of this important skill.
  7. Set your toddler or preschooler up with an area for writing and drawing. An easy way to do this is have a box with scrap paper, construction paper, crayons, markers and other writing tools. Encourage your little one to draw a picture about a favorite story. It doesn’t matter if no one really knows what the picture is, he knows and he has had a chance to tell his version.
  8. Magnetic letters also help build early literacy skills. Besides learning the alphabet through songs, books, and puzzles, the tactile aspect of magnetic letters is important. Kids use all senses to learn.

Remember, there are no hard and fast rules for developing early literacy skills. No two children are alike and children develop at different rates. Think about the time when your child was learning to walk. He crawled, pulled himself up and then took off on his own schedule. That’s how it is with the reading process too — in stages and at a child’s individual pace. 

Denise Worthington is Lou’s Mom. She’s a retired reading teacher and children’s book author who spends her time serving on local boards, entertaining at the lake, and running for political office.

‘Why Does She Look Different?’: Teaching Diversity to Preschoolers

By Gena Kittner

While riding in her stroller the other day, Ellie held on to the sides and said “Whee! This is my wheelchair!”

Unsure of what to do or how to react, I stopped and asked her what she meant and how she learned about wheelchairs. Instead of answering, in true 3-year-old fashion, she repeated the wheelchair line. So I told her this was her stroller and wheelchairs are for people who need “a little extra help.” Teaching Diversity to Preschoolers and Young Children

I have found this is my go-to phrase when explaining to Ellie certain things we’ve been doing lately — like how we bought Christmas toys for kids we didn’t know, but whose parents “needed a little extra help.” Or why we put money in the Salvation Army kettles or donate toiletries to a local shelter.

But I realize I’m going to have to up my game and find a better response. Ellie’s a smart girl who is starting to notice that people look and act differently. And she’s going to want to know why. And, chances are, she may not pick the most appropriate time or volume of voice in which to inquire.

This got me thinking about a thread from a mommy group I follow on Facebook. Awhile back, a member posted, saying her 3 1/2-year-old is near the age where she notices people who look differently than she does — be it size, race, disabilities, etc. The mom expressed wanting to raise her to be loving and accepting of diversity; however, she wondered how best to respond to these questions when asked in public.

Bingo. I found many of the suggestions about teaching diversity thoughtful and creative. Here are some solutions that you can try when your child asks about differences:

  • Explain that everyone different and “that makes the world beautiful and interesting.”
  • Respond to your child’s inquiries and observations about differences with, “I know! Isn’t that cool?” This tip came from a mom who said her daughter comments on “everything” indiscriminately.
  • Try showing kids this short Elmo video featuring Lupita Nyong’o. During the video they talk about all of the great things about their skin and that skins comes in all different colors and shades.
  • Read People, an award winning book that will help your child understand that it’s OK to be different.
  • Check out the book NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, which includes a chapter about race. The mom in the Facebook group said, “the main point is let [children] ask and try not to ‘hush’ what we think are embarrassing questions. Acknowledging for kiddos is different than judging. We know about judgement — toddlers are just learning.”

These are great tips, and I’d be curious to hear some more. How do you answer your children when they ask pointed, but perhaps embarrassing, questions about diversity in public? How do you respond in private?

Gena is a Midwest transplant living in TucsoGena Kittnern, Arizona with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, Ellie. When not killing scorpions, Gena writes about food and family. Follow her on Twitter @genakittner, and check out her previous posts on Mommy Sanest.