Help Manage Separation Anxiety with a Simple DIY Photo Book

separation anxiety tools for kidsWhen I stared this blog I never dreamed it would become my job or that I would go to conferences and speak about blogging to other bloggers. This week I am heading to BlogHer in San Jose to lead a writing lab about brainstorming. As I prepare I can see that my daughter is getting a little anxious. Over the years I have made different little activities for my children when I go away like this Kissing Hand Necklace and Mailbox Activity. I decided to make a little photo book because my daughter has always found peace in photos. When  she gets upset looking at photos of family has always helped her calm down. You can use this same tutorial for any kind of book not just one for when you are separated from your children.

Gather your materials. You will need some self laminating sheets ( or a laminator), photos or print outs of photo collages ( I used to make mine) , a hole punch, scissors, and a small binder ring.separation anxiety

Start by making collages in a 4×6 size. As I said above I used to make these because I like how easy it is to add text to the collages. When we are apart page layoutThis is the text I added :

Even if you aren’t tight in my arms, you are snug in my heart. My love for you is just the same when we are apart.

When I am gone build with cars and Lego, say hi to the deer, take care of your babies, and get some fro-yo.

When I am gone I am going to ride in a taxi, wait at the airport, fly on a plane, listen to speakers, teach some other bloggers, and see Ms. Maya.

If you miss me while I am gone look at all these photos and know that love can stretch all the way across the world.

My heart is always filled with you and I will hold your hand again in a few days.

Mama loves you no matter how far apart we are.

Create a cover page.

when we cover

Print them out and trim to a 4×6 sizephoto book tutorial

Use the self laminating sheets and laminate the photos. This step was SUPER easy and I picked up these sheets at book for kids

Time to punch the holes!photo book for children

Add the ring.when we are apart photo book for kids

Read the book.when we are part book for anxious kids I had my husband read the book to my daughter and I will read it to her many many times before I leave so that it’s familiar. We will talk about each photo and tell stories about them as well. I find it really helpful to tell my children what I will be doing while I am away as well. I never say I won’t miss them, instead I always say I will and then tell them how I handle the emotions and ask them how they do. Giving them control and not telling them what to do has always helped my children feel empowered with hard emotions. I love when they explain to me how they conquered something hard.  I also find the following books very helpful when dealing with any sort of separation anxiety.

Books For Separation Anxiety

All book lists include affiliate links.


The Kissing Hand by Audry Penn is an absolute favorite . Chester is a raccoon who like most of us doesn’t like change. In his case it’s starting school. He wants to stay home with his mama and play with the friends he already has instead of going to school away from her and his friends. So his mama explains to him the magic of the kissing hand . The real magic is the message that we have to do things that scare us sometimes but that the love of our family is always with us to help us through. Go get this book.

Owl Babies

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell is perfectly written for toddlers who are eager to “do it myself” but still need a loving parent safely within view.  Three baby owls wake to find their mom away and as time passes the three all get more anxious in their own ways. My daughter loves this book and completely related to poor little Bill who repeats ” I want my mommy!” over and over.  At night she is very much like little Bill, but during the day she is braver like the other two owls Sarah and Percy. No matter what level of separation anxiety your child may have at times they will relate to one or all of the little owls. Of course the story ends with mama coming back and reassuring her little owl babies that she always will.

mama always comes home

Mama Always Comes Home by Karma Wilson was a last minute grab at the library that I am so thankful I saw. It starts off with animal mother’s leaving their babies, for all different reasons . A bird gathering food, a dog greeting his master and more. The animal mothers leave, but they also always return to their babies. Then it switches to a child and mother. She reassures the child that she will be back and we watch her leave, and return . I loved this book because my son isn’t the best when I leave him, he related to this book immediately and was repeating ” Mama always comes home!” half way through. { I originally reviewed this in 2009 and have since read it many times to my daughter who also needed those gentle reminders that I would always return. }

Happy Birthday Sweet Boy

He’s 5 . How is my little guy 5 years old? People keep telling me that soon he will be taller than me and I will be looking up as I discipline. I am 5’4 I know my days are numbered. He was born on Thanksgiving 2006 and today on the eve of the holiday this year I am devoting my post to the little guy who made me a mom, took me away from teaching in a class and sparked so many things I never expected to be part of my life including this blog.


Below are links to his favorite crafts and activities , I hope one ( or more ) of them bring you as much joy to share them with your kids as it brought us.angry-birds

Nothing beats this Angry Birds Waterballoon Game. He loved this. We played a handful of times before we moved and the weather turned. We will be playing again once warmer weather comes back.

Knight’s Shield. After we moved this summer this never left his side. He slept with it on his night stand, he had it next to him at meals. Although I doubt it was conscious this was his security blanket until he was comfortable in our new digs. It’s now happily lumped in with his sister’s Dora toys,  and the others in the family room toy basket.

Puffy Paint Moon. This has been up in his room since the moment it dried. A big puffy moon to gaze at as we chat about our day at bedtime even if we can’t see the real one every night in the grey Pacific North West sky.

This Scrap Paper Rainbow is more one of MY favorites but it’s also his very first craft. Although I don’t think it was posted as our first, it was the first he helped me do for the blog. I wish I’d kept it!

This roadway and the 2nd version using an up cycled kitchen mat are used daily at our house still. Not bad for a craft!

And are you shocked that this Ice Cream Taste Test made the cut?

Happy Birthday Big Boy – I love you even especially with playdough on your head.

Sunday Spotlight : The Nursery


A few days ago I tweeted that I wondered if anyone would want to see a spotlight of all the shops and items that I have used to decorate my baby girl’s nursery. Within moments I had many many replies asking for it so by request the Sunday Spotlight this week are all the shops that have contributed . I should say upfront nothing showcased was given to me to review, I bought everything  I am showcasing.

Nursery showcase 002

Here is the main themed wall, although we aren’t heavy in a bird theme a lot of the accessories are birds and butterflies, most notably this vinyl tree and bird decal from Styley Walls The room was already tan ( it has been a guestroom and a playroom previously) and I had no desire to repaint.  Instead this tree would make it all more feminine.

Nursery showcase

More birds are on this awesome alphabet print with each letter is in an adorable birdhouse .This was a standard listing from Wall Candy that they happily made  into a larger size. I am in love with this and everything else in their shop.

Nursery showcase

This butterfly mobile from Liv’s Lullaby was a last minute addition, I wanted something light and airy and not pink. This was perfect and I love that it spirals down in size.

Nursery showcase

This book nook is dominated by my great great grandmother’s rocking chair , to think about how many generations of our family have been nursed in it makes me smile. Obviously it wasn’t bought on Etsy but the pillow comes from Stitch Bandit It was just the splash of chocolate and pink the book nook needed.

Nursery showcase

Not to be forgotten are these awesome teethers from Little Alouette. I actually won the heart one at a conference and bought the birdy one to match the theme. I can’t wait to see if my daughter loves them as much as I do.

Nursery showcase

This magnetic frame from Shabby Vintage Mom is a great place for pictures , I love how delicate it is , girly without screaming princess! I didn’t want to open the package when it came it was wrapped so nicely.

Other Non Etsy:

Crib: Ikea- Hensvik
Crib Sheet: Pottery Barn Kids
Changing Table: Pottery Barn Kids ( discontinued)
Baskets and Liners : Pottery Barn Kids
Lamp: Ikea
Curtains: Ikea ( discontinued)
Paint Color : Benjamin Moore Arizona Tan

Parent and Tot Projects

We normally focus on things kids can make but making something for your child to play with and use is something special to share. These are some of our favorite parent and tot projects we have made in the past 2 years.With the exception of the firetruck ( which was well loved and recycled) everything  is still used years later!

Diaper Box Fire Truck ( above)

Alphabet Fishing Game

Custom Roadway Mat

Bleach Dyed Tee-Shirts

DIY  Framed Chalkboard

Yes They’re Flash Cards !

Flash Card Garland


See flash cards are good for something! When a friend asked recently if  flash cards were good for anything, I jokingly replied with ” You could make a craft with them!” and so this idea was born. Flash cards aren’t inherently bad, if you play, create or need them to accommodate disabilities they can be fun or even crucial. However sitting and teaching the average preschooler with them just isn’t the best way, rote memorization and learning are not equal. So if you have some don’t throw them away, make this and dress up your playroom or kids bedroom .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need flash cards, some card stock ,double stick tape,  scissors , ribbon, and a hole punch.ASept9 001
  2. Start by deciding on a pattern for your paper. My son helped me and we took the opportunity to talk about patterns.ASept9 005
  3. Cut the paper to size. ASept9 002
  4. Attach the flash card on the paper with the double stick tape. ASept9 003
  5. Punch two holes at the top.ASept9 004
  6. Repeat 25 more times.ASept9 006
  7. Time to start lacing the cards on. I used just over 9 feet of ribbon. I left extra on both ends just in case. This is not a fun part of the craft, I forgot G and had to re-lace H-P.ASept9 007
  8. Tie bows at the end of the ribbons once all the letters are laced on. ASept9 013
  9. Put it up. My playroom is too small to allow me to get a good shot of the whole thing! ASept9 014

For another fun alphabet activity check out what I posted today at