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Special Blogger Spotlight: Susie Allison of Busy Toddler

Photo by: iStock

How do you keep up with an energetic toddler? Susie Allison has a few ideas. Her site Busy Toddler offers parents a bounty of clever activities and tips that capture a toddler’s imagination (and keep those grasping little hands occupied). What started as a fun way to bond with her toddler son while her infant daughter napped quickly evolved into a fulltime business with a dedicated social following. So how did this stay-at-home-mom become the founder of a toddler-trending enterprise? Read on to hear Allison’s unexpected journey and her tips for staying organized when things get “busy.”

What prompted you to leave become a stay-at-home mom and launch Busy Toddler?
Motherhood wasn’t something that came terribly easy to me. Being a Mom – I was meant to do this. Becoming a Mom…that’s a very long story with a lot of needles but a happy ending. I had my son, Sam, in May 2013. I always wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom, and the long journey it took to get to motherhood made the gift of staying home just that much sweeter.

Fast forward two years later, and I had just had a miracle, surprise baby. I was over the moon to have two under 2. Even still, I missed hanging out with my little buddy and doing just us things. I made a nap time plan: During the baby’s first morning nap, we will do something fun and different each day.

I started searching the web for ideas but wasn’t finding “my kind” of fun: almost free, zero prep, but still great. I was hanging out a lot on Instagram in those days and on a whim one night, searched the name “Busy Toddler.” When the search came up blank, I knew it was meant to be. I started Busy Toddler with the goal of sharing some of the quick and easy activities that we were doing to pass the time.

Did you have any idea you were launching a new business at the time?
I had NO idea Busy Toddler would turn into what it’s become. I vividly remember telling myself, "If somehow 100 people follow this account by the end of month one, I’ll keep going.” I had 2,000 followers by the end of the first month but even then, I never could have dreamed this would turn into the business it’s become.

How do you find the time to manage three little ones and blog on Busy Toddler? What’s a typical day like?
The gift of not starting this as a business is that I had zero expectations or pressure going into it. I made Busy Toddler simply because I love teaching children and I love helping parents do the same. The only thing I promised myself from the beginning – once things took off – was that Busy Toddler would always be my second job. My first is being a stay-at-home-mom. So, I work around my family, but it works for me!

A typical day means waking up about an hour before the kids. I get my Instagram post up, check my social channels, make sure my site didn’t crash overnight and return emails. During the morning, Busy Toddler is closed (lol) except for during Baby’s nap.

Now it’s my third born sleeping in the morning and I’m making the most of time with the bigger two. So we do an activity or two (they call them “projects” – I have no idea why). Everyone naps from 1:30-3:30pm in the afternoon (hallelujah, right?) so I work then. Everything pauses again until the kids go to bed at 7:30pm, and I work until it’s time to dream feed the baby aka 10pm.

It works, and it’s also super relaxed. If things implode and the day goes bottoms up, oh well. The world will live without me for a day. It’s my first, primary job that I’m most concerned with.

How do you come up with the activities you share on Busy Toddler?
I always joke that it’s my dark gift. Please do not ask me to make a pie or sew you a dress or make some crafty what-have-you from Pinterest. I am a walking Pinterest fail. But activities and ways to teach little kids in a fun, play-based way – get me a bag of rice and a measuring cup! I got this! I usually just stand in front of my supplies or watch the kids playing and boom. It hits me. I know exactly what we are going to do.

What should every first-time mom carry in her diaper bag?
Can the answer be to NOT carry a diaper bag? I’m such a minimalist when it comes to packing. Keep it simple. I keep the car stocked. Diapers, wipes, a change of clothes per kid. When we hit the mall or go to a friend’s house, I am literally the Mom in that Luv’s commercial with a single diaper and a handful of crackers.

This approach has been failsafe for four years but did bite me in the booty the other weekend when my two year old covered herself in grease at a park. Good news is that I have no problem asking for help so I found a very prepared mom and she gave me all the wipes I could ever need. Crisis averted.

Confession time: Any activities that didn’t go as planned?
All the time! Did you know rice won’t slide through a funnel? We found that out last week. Oh and you should never use dish soap for bubble activities. Stick with tear free baby wash always and forever. That was not a fun lesson to learn (sorry first born). And FYI. Don’t dump 6 cups of flour in your bathtub and vacuum it out. It will clog the vacuum. Sweep it out with a broom. Not that I would know…just a theory I have…

What’s your favorite activity to date?
That’s a tough one. Different activities are special for different reasons. Pouring Station will always be special because that’s the first post that went crazy viral for me. Lego Bath was a magical day – I’ll never forget my son’s face when I dumped the whole bin in the bathtub. I once poked some holes in an oatmeal container for my daughter to shove crayons in and that activity is so special because of the number of families who sent photos of their toddlers doing the same. My inbox was flooded for weeks, and I loved each one.

What’s the most surprising aspect of motherhood (so far)?
For me, I’m shocked at how quickly I’ve adapted to certain things or become an “expert.” I say “expert” in the loosest sense of the term because I’m certainly not one. But (for example) after having three newborns, I’m on the other side of newborn advice. I swear it was just yesterday I was sending texts about first foods or which sleep sack to buy and suddenly I’m the one answering those with “here’s what worked for me.”

What’s your favorite way to spend “me time” (if you’re lucky enough to find it)?
I love to just sit. I’m a gifted couch potato – I’ve always excelled in lounging. Any chance I have to take a moment and breathe: that’s what I want to do. Sit, chitchat or (what I say to the kids) “chill and be chill.”

What’s the best piece of parenting advice you’ve received?
Before I had my first, my husband’s uncle said, “Everyday could be the last day of whatever is driving you nuts.” He was so right! It’s all a phase and children are ever changing. Tonight might be the night the baby starts sleeping. Tomorrow might be the last diaper change before potty training. Next Wednesday might be the last time you have to remind them not to throw food at the table. Don’t get bogged down because the seasons change quickly. Tomorrow they are different and older, and you are a more experienced parent than yesterday.

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