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I heard it again the other day, “Oh, you have your hands full!” I was pushing two kids in my shopping cart, while my oldest daughter walked beside us as we navigated the aisles of Walmart. None of my kids were acting up. Nobody was yelling, pushing or annoying each other. There was nothing to warrant the comment from this stranger except the number of children with me.

I’m not sure when it was that three children was officially declared the tipping point that pushes you from mom to mental case. How could I possibly handle three with only two hands? I’ve seen better mothers than me handle far more than three kids. I have a good friend who has six. I bet she hears the phrase far more frequently than I do.

I suppressed an eye roll and kept on shopping, because with three kids the goal is always to get in, get what you need and get the heck outta there as quickly as possible. It bugs me sometimes. The implication that I must be burdened by having more than the “ideal” two kids.

Here is what I want to tell everyone who’s ever made the comment to a Mom that has three or more kids that she has her hands full.

Yes, my hands are full. About a hundred times a day my hands are picking up small toys off the floor. At least twice a day I’m picking up someone’s discarded clothing and throwing it in the hamper or folding little tee-shirts or balling up socks.

My hands are holding little hands tight as we cross roads. My hands are brushing hair and weaving braids. They’re probing for imaginary boo boos on arms and legs, scouring for ticks in the summer, and giving reassuring pats on backs as my arms encircle my little ones. They’re feeling foreheads for signs of fever, pulling up covers, administering medicine and providing comfort in a million little ways.

These hands are often wet with sudsy dish water or being washed because I’ve touched all manner of disgusting bodily fluids. They are changing diapers, zipping coats, pulling on snow pants, and searching coat sleeves for wayward shirt sleeves.

These hands of mine are cooking endless meals, baking cookies, making hot cocoa, and filling sippy cups and water glasses. They are searching for lost toys and games, replacing batteries in toys I wish made no noise and decorating Christmas trees.

They’re pulling sleds up the hill for children too tired to do it themselves. They’re shuffling decks of cards to games I don’t always feel like playing or building Lego towers, assembling puzzles and turning the pages of countless books. They are in the air as I dance crazily around the living room with three little squealing kids who are getting down right along with me.

My hands are also typing, always typing because I’m a writer and there’s nothing I love to write about more than my kids. It’s because I want them to know that even though mommy doesn’t always have it all together, they are the best of me.

Yes, my hands are busy. They are always full. There is almost no point during each day where they are empty.

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And you know what? I’m so incredibly grateful for full hands. Children aren’t a burden. They are a blessing; one not everyone gets.

I read an article the other day about a writer who regretted having children and urged other people to reconsider having kids. My first thought was, “I hope her kids don’t read her article one day.” Not everyone wants to have kids and that’s fine. But they deserve to be treasured once they’re here.

The argument was that you would have far more money, could advance your career, travel and have more “me-time” if you didn’t have kids. While all of that is true, children give so much joy to your life.

If it weren’t for my three, I would never have learned how to love someone more than myself. Sure, you can love a spouse, but there are still strings attached. If they hurt you badly enough, you walk away. Not with kids; that love surpasses all limitations.

Hannah is a result of my stubborn will to become a mother after my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. I desperately wanted my son Jayden after falling in love with motherhood and my daughter Sydney was the happy ending to a year-long heartache for the child I knew would complete our family.

When you tell me, “Your hands are full!” I want to tell you, “If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart!”

And I would tell you except I don’t have time to stop. As you can see, I have three little ones to hold tight. My hands are never empty.

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

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I cannot believe my “twinadoes” are turning 6 already! The time has really gone by quick! This year instead of throwing them a big party we decided to treat them to a week long vacation. Smack dab in the middle of all that planning and packing, the first wiggly tooth arrived! My kids have been waiting for this moment their whole lives. All they can focus on is the magic! All I can focus on is the pressure to make magic.

I see so many moms on Facebook handing out $5 bills for one little tooth, or buying a pile of presents and throwing about pixie dust to celebrate. There are even apps that allow you to snap a pic of the tooth fairy hovering over your sleeping child. I am all for magic, but all of that just seems like too much for me to invest in. I’m not judging these other parents for their efforts, I just know it isn’t my style.

Thankfully, both of my kids believe with their whole heart the only thing the tooth fairy brings is a bag full of coins. Well, all chocolate coins and one real gold coin. I do not know where they heard this information but I am totally cool with it. To make it more “magical” I created these quick little bags to take with us on vacation should her first tooth fall out. Which it did. She almost lost it in the swimming pool. That story alone is worth more than the magic she’ll remember about losing her first tooth.

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Here’s what you’ll need: (Makes 4 bags)

4 Medium organza gift bags (you can find at the dollar store)

1 Piece of white felt

8 Googly eyes

Elmer’s glue

8 inches of string or yarn

Wax paper

*Optional pink paint for rosy cheeks

I did a quick search online for a tooth shape that I could print, cut and trace onto the felt. After I cut out my felt shape, I began adding the little face. Cut string into two inch pieces to start, then glue mouth and eyes to the felt. Allow to dry before applying to the bag. If you’d like cute little pink cheeks, dip a pencil eraser, small dowel, or the end of a paint brush  (whatever you have on hand) into the pink paint and apply at the ends of the smile.

Since you are working with a mesh fabric the glue is just going to seep through. Cut a small square of wax paper (small enough to fit inside the bag) to keep the glue from sealing the bag closed.

First, insert the wax paper into the bag.

Next, apply Elmer’s glue to the felt and apply to the bag. Wait a few minutes before pulling the wax paper out. Then hang the bag upside down over a pencil, chop stick, craft stick or whatever you have to allow to dry. Be sure the baggie is open and the glue is not touching the stick. Allow to try over night.

I made 4 at once so I can have one set per kid. I give my kid one empty bag to put her tooth in and place under her pillow. This way the tooth isn’t rolling around loose and I can find it quick. I fill the second bag with all her required coins and just swap out the bags once she falls asleep. We can reuse these for each lost tooth and I’m already ahead of the game for the next round.

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I picked up chocolate coins at Party City (15 for $1.00) and a gold dollar coin at the bank. In fact, I picked up 10 so I can have back up! Once that first tooth falls out, the next is right behind it! Three weeks behind to be exact. We currently have both kids wiggling a tooth just waiting for their gold coins. Having twins means double the magic and double the tooth fairy money. So keeping some pre-filled bags between payouts means I won’t be caught off guard the night a tooth falls out.

My girl woke up to find this cute bag filled with coins under her pillow and was on cloud 9 the rest of the day. She told everyone we ran into how the tooth fairy left her coins in the middle of the night. For her it is a dream come true. I have to say that alone is pretty magical.

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Do you go all out for the tooth fairy, or do you keep it simple?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

 

 

 

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As you can probably guess, as I’m typing this post I have a cold. I’m also wishing it were a “man cold” and not a “mom cold.” What’s the difference? Let me break it down for you.

What Is A “Man Cold?”

If I had a “man cold” I would be able to take off of work and take a nap. I could drink orange juice and hot soup and take some medicine that would make me sleep the afternoon away. I could focus on taking care of myself.  Instead, I have a “mom cold.”

Sickness Is Not On Our To-Do List

That means I’m up plugging away at the many things on my to-do list, despite my deep desire just to lie down and rest. I have laundry that needs to be done, a dishwasher that needs to be unloaded before dishes start piling up in the sink since I seem to be the only one capable of looking to see that it needs to be emptied, oh and my toddler decided to boycott her nap again today so I don’t even get a few hours to drag my butt through these tasks without chasing her around pulling her off the couch, which she has learned to body surf down this morning.

Hit By A Bus

If you’ve been following my posts for a while you know that I love my husband, like L O V E love him and I’m always bragging about him, but today I’m going to throw him under the bus, along with half the men in the US. And you know who’s sitting in this bus with me, all the other moms I know. We are so tired of getting stuck with the “mom cold,” while you men are allowed to wallow in your misery.

We Helped Create The Monster

But it’s not all your fault. No, we played a part in this. We take care of you when you’re not feeling well. We make you soup and dry toast and bring it to you in bed. We make sure the kids keep their voices down and don’t barge in the room a million times, interrupting the nap which is going to propel you back into good health.

We carry on with every task we normally do and exempt you from it all. Why? Because we’re moms. Caring for our family is what we do. And because thankfully you aren’t sick that often.

As a work at home Mom I know I have it easier than a lot of work outside the home moms. If I were really feeling horrible, I’d just focus on getting my blogging work done and let the housework go and deal with the avalanche of mess when I’m feeling better. Though the day you crawl out of your covers to find that nobody cleaned up the half a box of cereal that spilled on the floor is so NOT fun.

The Part Inequality In The Workplace Plays

Most working moms I know don’t even take a day off of work unless they feel like death. Why? Because they are saving their sick days for when their children are sick and need to take off to care for them. Why aren’t men taking off more time to care for their sick kids?

It may be attributed to the breakdown of differences for men and women in the workforce. Men typically get paid more than women. They take off less time when their children are born and less time when their kids are sick or off of school.

It’s less detrimental to a man’s career that he has a family than a woman’s if she has children. Why? Because we are the caregivers (primarily). Not, that it makes it right.

The “Mom Cold” Mentality

It’s really pretty sucky and it all contributes to the “mom cold” mentality that we have to power through even when we feel really awful. Moms can’t afford to be sick.

Even if this were more than a cold, like say the stomach bug, I know my kids need to eat even if the thought of lunch makes me lose mine. My husband will pick up medicine and take out for dinner if I’m really sick and that helps. I appreciate it. But you know what all moms need?

The Thing Moms NEED Most

Men, we need you to take off work and take over sometimes. We need the same rest and care we afford you during your “man colds.” We need you to put out the figurative fires, take care of the chores and keep the kids alive till morning.

We need you to put your career on the back burner. Not forever, but just for one day. Heck, we’ll settle for a half-day.

We don’t expect you to single-handedly close the wage gap. We don’t expect that you can change the perception of care-giving roles for men and women all by yourselves, but you can do us a solid.

The next time we feel sick, give us the gift of having a “man cold” instead of a “mom cold.” Pick up the slack and do what needs to be done. Why? Because we do it for you ALL…THE….TIME and we deserve it.

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

During my years as a personal trainer, I’ve had the pleasure of working with all kinds of people. For the most part, they share two dilemmas: not knowing what exercises to do and not having enough time to do them. Fortunately, when you correctly perform the best exercises to meet your goal, it doesn’t take nearly as much time as you might think. I’ve chosen three movements to effectively work your core right on your kitchen chair. Work up to three sets of ten of each, then cycle through them again if you have the time.

  • Seated Elbow-to-Knee: works obliques
  • Bicycle: tones every muscle in the abdominal group
  • Pendulum: strengthens upper body in conjunction with abs and hip flexors

Next time you finish your morning coffee, push back from the table and give these a try!

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How crazy is it that we had snow four days before Halloween? Then, the very next day it’s a typical fall day? I expected a nice dusting of snow that we could simply leave a few foot prints in on our way to school, and then it would all melt away. But noooo. I had to break out the shovels!  While my kids were helping me clear the driveway they began singing Christmas carols and asking me when Santa is coming. They forgot entirely that we didn’t even get through trick or treat yet!

But all that caroling had me thinking about Christmas and our Christmas list. In the past I have shared my $150 Christmas spending plan with tips on how to spend less to get more. This year I am going for no plastic toys and all the crap that comes along with it. We have so much stuff in our house it is almost impossible to keep up with. No more toys with tiny parts. No more Lego sets that are eventually dumped all over the floor. No more extra pieces. This is the year we say no more crappy toys for Christmas!

It isn’t just the overkill of toys that I am looking to change; I’m looking to add more thoughtfulness to our holiday.  When I was growing up there wasn’t enough money to go around, so we put a lot of thought into what we did buy and dressed it up really pretty. Or we made it a funny experience by wrapping small gifts inside of a box, wrapped inside of a box, wrapped inside of another box. Sometimes we’d have to hunt for a gift somewhere on the tree.  And sometimes we even made gifts for each other.

Today it is just too easy to lavish our families with flashy electronics, or a brand new ride on toy, or toys with lots of lights and sounds. But what happens to those toys in the long run? You can hand them off to another child eventually, but plastic things never truly go away. Once they’ve outlived their use they get tossed directly into the trash. My husband and I decided to keep eco-friendly in mind when making our purchases this year.

As I put together my shopping plan this year, here are the questions I am asking myself:

  1. WHAT DO MY KIDS PLAY WITH? My kids really enjoy special characters like the Octonauts, Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony. Instead of buying them the plastic characters and accessories (which we already have a ton of), I am keeping an eye out for plushy toys, puzzles and books and clothing sets with those characters. These are all more eco-friendly and still fun.
  2. WHAT DO WE DO FOR FUN? My kids love going to places like Fun-e-farm, Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum and eating at their favorite restaurants. Those places ALL offer gift certificates. Buying them tickets, or gift certificates for an experience to enjoy together means no toys cluttering up my house.
  3. WHAT DO MY KIDS NEED? Do they have enough warm shirts? Enough pants? Do they need shoes, or sneakers? Yes, it is the cliche mom thing to slide packages of wrapped socks under the tree in stealth like fashion. But why mess with tradition? And again, no tiny pieces to step on here!
  4. WHAT ARE MY KIDS LACKING? In our house it can be difficult to get enough time one on one with each kid. With busy work schedules, school routines and all the “adulting” we do as parents we often fall short on spending time together with just a parent and one child. I’m thinking those gift certificates will pair nicely with a calendar filled with special date days.
  5. HOW ARE MY KIDS SPENDING THEIR TIME? Right now we aren’t participating in any extra curricular activities. But my girls do like to take swim lessons during the winter to learn water safety skills as well as get some good exercise. Swim lessons or a membership to a Karate school or gymnastics school take up zero space in the home!

This year we plan to go with the less is more concept with a smaller quantity of better quality gifts. There may be a few toys in there to enjoy along side of the prepaid experiences we are putting under the tree. But with enough thoughtful planning we won’t find any plastic, cookie cutter toys among the gifts.

Stay tuned for my post next week where I share our actual gift giving list!

Do you plan your gift giving, or just wing it?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

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Hang on to your socks, I’m about to say something you probably wouldn’t expect from your resident Hudson Valley Parent frugal blogger. Stay At Home Moms you MUST invest in yourselves. “What the what? You want me to spend money? On myself?”

“I Deserve” Spending

Yup, you heard right. But it’s more than just spending money on yourself, though that is part of it. When you work outside the home, you tend to form the mindset of “deserving” this or that – whether it’s a new pair of shoes, or a night out with your girlfriends. Now this mindset can set your finances back if left unchecked, but I’ve noticed that when you become a stay at home mom, the mindset is sometimes reversed – “I don’t work, so I don’t deserve to treat myself.”

The sad thing is, “treat” for me means buying myself a brand new mop and four bras. Living on one income requires that I always keep an eye on our budget. As I get more years of being a SAHM under my belt, I’ve gotten a little, tiny bit better at spending money on myself.

We’ve paid off all our credit card debt and we actually can make it between paychecks without borrowing from our savings. Ok, so sometimes we squeak by with $25, but it still counts. Those bi-weekly paychecks are tricky.

Addicted To Self-Sacrifice

Moms take care of everyone else in our family first, am I right? We make sure they have everything they need and most of what they want, then if there is money left over maybe we take care of our needs. Do you make self-sacrifice look like an art form too?

I used to think that sacrificing for my family was admirable. In the beginning it was just a matter of survival and as a SAHM I didn’t need to get my hair done or buy work clothes so it was easy to let things slide. The truth is that the longer you live like this, the more the feeling of undeserving grows and you know what else grows, resentment and sadness.

A few years ago my husband would have to force me to buy something for myself and if money was super tight, I’d sometimes return it for a refund. Not investing in taking care of your own needs isn’t admirable so much as dangerous.

Yes, we all make sacrifices for our families. Most of us already put our kids’ need first. But you can’t suppress your own needs forever. They start to bubble up in unhealthy ways. I find myself lamenting in front of my kids that I can’t do this or buy that for myself.

Investing In You Is Investing In Your Family Too

The truth is, the reason keeping me from doing that is me. When you don’t invest some money in yourself, you tell yourself over and over again, “My needs don’t matter,” or “My wants are less important than everyone else’s.” That, my friend, is no way to live. You know why? Because your family needs you.

They need you to take care of you. They need you to be happy. They need you to know that you are important and deserving.

Beyond just spending money on yourself, you need to invest in yourself SAHMs. What I mean is, you need to invest in the things that make you happy outside of your family. When you’re a SAHM the boundaries of work and home are completely blurred. There is never an “off the clock.”

I love my kids, in fact I’ve always done everything in my power to be home with them as much as possible. BUT I’ve learned that I need to pursue interests outside of them.

Find Your Happiness

Four years ago, I started blogging again and landed this tremendous gig at Hudson Valley Parent. It’s been the therapy I need to get through life as a SAHM.

It allowed me to find my purpose in the world. I asked my grandmother once if gardening was her hobby. She spent sun up to sun down tending her flowers like they were her very own babies. She said, “No, it’s my love.” That’s how I feel about writing.

That’s what you need to find for yourself. Invest in finding your love. Yes, I know you love your kids. But you need to find what you love, what motivates you, what inspires you because that passion is going to trickle down to your family.

It’s Not Wasted Money

It was super scary for me to invest money into my writing career. When I wrote my book, “So, You’re Broke?” to help other moms live well on a budget, I paid a professional editor. I started my own blog and put money into running it.

It still terrifies me to think that it all might be a waste of money. I might never make it back. It’s a REALLY slow process of changing my mindset.

Because I’m not investing in whether or not I’ll make money with my writing. I’m investing in me. I’m investing in my happiness. Each day I get to write is a day I get to feel alive. That’s what I need to remember.

Money is money. It’s temporary. As much as I like teaching tips to save it, I know money is made to be spent.

Money may not buy you happiness, but you can use it to invest in yourself. It’s not enough to say, “I’m deserving. I’m important.” If you can’t back it up once in a while. So, I urge you SAHMs, take care of yourself. Buy something you need and maybe something you want just because you know you deserve it.

I’m not saying go on a shopping spree, charge up your cards and then endure an emotional spending hangover. I’m saying loosen the purse strings, go out on a limb and find your happy. Take a class, pursue a long abandoned hobby, do whatever it takes to find your passion.

If you won’t do it for you, do it for your family. They need you happy and they need you to know that you deserve it.

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

 

We often have the best intentions of exercising during the day, but after working, cooking, driving kids to activities and cleaning, sometimes all we want to do is sink into the couch afterward. Fortunately, we can sneak in a few effective core moves in the car while we’re waiting for a latte at the drive-thru or parked outside school picking up the kids. These three Pilates moves have far-reaching benefits:

  • develop core strength
  • improve posture
  • deepen breathing patterns
  • cultivate postural awareness
  • encourage healthy spinal alignment

Even a few minutes a day will benefit you. Give it a try!

Want a change in your look? Subtle lightening or highlights might just do the trick, and you can do it yourself on the cheap.

Use one or a combination of these three items you probably have in your house right now:

  1. Peroxide: pour into a dark spray bottle.
  2. Lemon Juice: Pour into any spray bottle, but keep this in the fridge.
  3. Chamomile Tea: Steep 4-5 tea bags in 8 oz of hot water until cool. Squeeze out the bags, and pour into a spray bottle.

Whichever product you use, douse your hair until fully damp for overall lightening. For highlights or an ombre effect, spray on sections of hair. Leave on for up to two hours, preferably in the sun (wearing your sunscreen, right?) and let nature take its course. Shampoo out, and follow up with a good conditioner (I leave my conditioner in.) Regular application of coconut or jojoba oil helps counteract the slightly drying effects of lightening your hair. Enjoy your new look!

Whether you’ve been sitting as a desk or picking up toys, laundry and children off the floor all day, your back is probably screaming by 5pm. This one move is sure to soothe your tight, overworked back muscles. As a bonus, you’ll strengthen your abs, which helps you avoid serious back problems in the future. Here are some of the many benefits of cat/cow yoga flow:

  • Improves mobility in a stiff spine
  • Strengthens core
  • Relieves lower back pain
  • Lessens hip pain
  • Strengthens the abdominals
  • Encourages baby to move into ideal birth position (for pregnant woman)
  • Strengthens shoulders and arms

Try adding cat/cow sounds to encourage your little ones to join you!

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I still remember the man who approached me at the mall while I was changing my seven-month-old son. He was holding his sweet little newborn daughter with a look in his eyes that was a mixture of exhaustion, nervousness, and desperation. “How long did it take for him to sleep through the night?” he asked expectantly.

I knew what he wanted me to say. I could see he was desperate for some reassurance that he would get to sleep again one day soon. “He just started sleeping through the night now at seven months,” I said as I watched his face deflate. “Is she six weeks old?” I asked. “She’s only five-weeks,” he replied sounding sad that he had a very long road ahead of him.

I remember how nervous I was as a new mom. I was terrified to take my daughter home from the hospital. I was also exhausted and worried I wouldn’t be able to survive the seemingly endless sleep deprivation. By the time I had my second and third babies, there were certain things that were less surprising and scary.

Here are the top 10 worries you can kiss goodbye the second-time around.

1. Labor – I can still hear myself saying, “I can’t do it.” There were several moments I just didn’t think I could deliver my first child. I was in the worst pain of my life and exhausted after eleven hours of labor and an additional hour of pushing.

While my second and third labors weren’t exactly a walk in the park, I no longer worried if I could do it. Having my first baby proved just how strong I could be. And all the gross and surprising things that come with labor didn’t freak me out the second and third time around.

2. Basic Baby Care – I was terrified to take my first child home from the hospital. I had no clue what I was doing beyond the brief nursing, diapering and swaddling tutorials I got from the nurses. I almost didn’t want to leave the hospital. The second and third time I couldn’t wait to go home. I had all the basics down, though I never did fully master the swaddle.

3. Common Colds and Minor Injuries – My first born had Respiratory syncytial virus  (RSV) at three-months-old and I was horrified watching her breathing in the vapor from her nebulizer. She looked so tiny and helpless and it felt like she would be sick forever. After that, minor colds and injuries didn’t faze me as much. I learned to save my worry for the bigger illnesses.

4. Poop – If there’s one aspect of parenting you find yourself talking or thinking about the most, it’s poop. Color, frequency, texture, you think/worry about it all. Newborn poop changes color and frequency quite often which is really unsettling for new parents. With the exception of prolonged periods of constipation I never really worried about poop with my other babies.

5. Nursing In Public – I used a cover up with all my babies, but I was really timid about nursing my first baby in public. Even when you aren’t physically exposed you still feel vulnerable. By the time my second baby was a few months old I really didn’t care if people knew what was going on beneath my cover up. I think you gain confidence in feeding your baby and you become less concerned with how someone else might react.

6. Sleep Deprivation – Don’t get me wrong, sleep deprivation is a given when you have a baby. With my first child, there was one night in particular I thought I felt my brain break from lack of sleep. I wondered whether or not I was actually going crazy. The second time around I was like, “Okay, crazy is the new normal.” I also had the experience to know that it wouldn’t last forever.

7. Sleep Training – Sleep training (if you choose to do it) feels like an exercise in torture the first time around. It’s hard to hear your baby cry while trying not to immediately rush in to comfort them. It’s still hard with subsequent children, but you realize that it’s worth a few really sucky days to have them sleep through the night for the rest of their lives. The first time, I kept my eyes glued to the video monitor, making sure my baby was physically alright.

By the second child, I knew he was physically fine even though he was unhappy about not sleeping next to me anymore. I know sleep training is not for everyone, but it gets easier once you have seen great results and know you’re the only one who will remember how tough it was.

8. Being On Time – Before you have kids you take for granted how easy it is just to grab your keys and get out of the house. Once you have kids you have to pack diapers, clothes, food, toys, a change of clothes and possibly medicine just to go on short trips. It can take far longer just to get in the car with kids let alone attempt to get to your destination on time.

Now that I have three kids, I don’t sweat being on time. I’ve figured out the trick to getting somewhere on time or early is just to assume you’re going to be late. It’s strange, but when I start the process of getting ready to go somewhere I already have it in my mind that we’re running late and it gets me out the door ahead of schedule to compensate.

9.Trying To Solve All Their Problems – With your first child, you think it’s your job to prevent every boo-boo, solve all conflicts with friends and make sure they don’t feel bad in any way. With subsequent kids, you learn to relinquish some control and discover that you need to let them find their own solutions.

Now, I simply point my kids in the right direction and let them work things out on their own. The biggest gift we can give our kids is the ability to cope with and solve their own problems.

10.The “I Hate You,” “You’re So Mean,” or “You Don’t Love Me” Rants – You never forget the first time your kid says one of the statements above. It stops your heart, you can’t breath and your blood runs cold. By the third kid, I don’t feel like I’m doing my job if I don’t hear it occasionally.

I’ve learned not to take it personally. As parents we have to make decisions our kids won’t always like, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid making them just so our kids will be happy with us. After the first kid, you recognize that they don’t mean it and it’s our job to be their parent, not their friend.

Many people say that it’s hardest going from one kid to two. I personally found it to be harder going from none to one. While the juggling and multitasking increases with multiple kids, so does your ability to go with the flow and trust your instincts.

What things got easier with your second, third or fourth child?

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

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