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Paci Addiction

I’ll admit it. I was THAT mom who would give a sideways glance at kids still using a paci past the age of two, but that was before I really understood paci addiction. My first two babies wanted nothing to do with the paci, spitting it out the second I put it in their mouths. After assessing the nipple I thought, “Seriously, who designed this thing? It doesn’t look the real deal at all.” Then came my third baby and from the second they gave her that little plastic portal to peace in the hospital it’s been an ever-present source of both sanity and stress.

So I want to call us all out of the paci closet. I even called on the help of fellow moms with paci addicted kids to share their stories (anonymously of course). Here are the 5 stages of paci addiction as I see it.

Stage 1 – The Soothing Savior – In the beginning we love the fact that our baby will take a paci. It helps them self-sooth and sleep better at night. We practically bow down to the paci gods on those days when our child is crying nonstop and the answer is a simple bink away. You learn never to go anywhere without it. If you’re me, you buy one of those paci clips to keep it firmly attached to your child’s clothes because you’re tired of picking it up off the dirty floor and rinsing it and God forbid you lose it. Which brings us to…

Stage 2 – The Frantic Finder – This is the stage where you start looking at those little plastic nubs in a new light. When you find yourself racing off to Walmart in the middle of the night with three kids because the paci is lost and your child won’t take the backup paci because the nipple is too small and your child won’t sleep without it, you start to suspect there’s a problem.

You know the instant she gets her soothing suck on, she’ll hit the hay in peace and so you drive through detours and go to multiple stores because the dollar store down the street doesn’t stock the “right” paci. Oh you know what I’m talking about because with paci addiction comes a very real preference for a certain brand or nipple type. Oh, and you are pretty much guaranteed to find their paci after you get back from the store with the new one. Which brings us to…

Stage 3: The Paci Hoarder – You reach into your coat pocket and find them, you have them stashed in different drawers in your house, they’re stashed in purses, diaper bags and cars because you don’t want to be the frantic finder anymore. You want to make it rain pacifiers if your little darling should start bawling in the middle of a well-visit at the doctor’s office, at the grocery store, or in a restaurant.

One mom confessed that she recently found a paci stashed in her purse from this phase and her son is 21 years old now!

Stage 4 -The Enabler – So you enter this phase sometime around your child’s second birthday. My daughter is almost two so I get it. You start to wonder when this paci obsession is going to end and yet, you’re terrified to take it away.

So you start to rationalize it. It’s ok because they aren’t 4 years-old yet, or if they are 4 or older you’re probably hiding their paci habit from others because you don’t want to be judged. I get it. Sadly, I was probably one of those moms who saw kids out in public and thought, “Your child is way too old to still have a paci.” Yet as I’m staring down the barrel of that gun, I totally get it now.

My daughter will legit have a mini-panic attack if she doesn’t feel the cord of that paci clip on her shirt. She starts rubbing her hands against her shirt frantically looking and making helpless whimpers until I help her find it or get it for her. Though she’s trying to wean herself now by wanting the clip off during the day, she still has a few of these moments of panic each day.

Since my first two kids didn’t go through it I had no idea the struggle paci moms go through so please forgive me. I vow NEVER to do it again, if only you’ll help me get off this crazy ride.

Stage 5 – The Skilled Negotiator – Whenever we try to wean our kids or get them to drop a habit, we break out our hostage negotiating skills. I’ve been blessed to hear some really funny and inspiring stories about how some moms have weaned their kids off their paci habit.

A new blogging friend of mine shared how she broke her son’s paci addiction after he developed sores in his mouth, which she thought were from the pacifier: “I hid them all and kept saying, “Binky hurts you now.” Three days later, my friend called and told me her daughter had hand, foot, and mouth disease and that my son might get it since they played together a few days earlier. I laughed and told her he already did, but I didn’t realize it because it was all inside his mouth. So I never thought I’d have anything good to say about hand, foot, and mouth disease, but it did get rid of his binkies for us!”

A mom in my Facebook mom’s group talked about her son’s successful binky trade-in: “One night while I was getting his PJ’s on, he handed me his bink and wanted a new stuffed animal to sleep with so I took it as an opportunity to barter for the bink FOREVER. I told him he could sleep with the new toy or the bink, but NOT both. He said “Ok, Mommy,” slept through the night without it, and never asked for it again.

Another mom reported what she did after the dentist told her it was causing damage to her daughter’s teeth: “We took her to the dentist. He said she had damage to her front teeth. We threw it out the car window that day, told her the car ate it, and never turned back!”

Another mom used New Year’s Day to declare, “All the pacis go to the New Year’s babies now.”

So there you have it, 5 stages ranging from complete gratitude for the paci to nerve-wracking stress, but one thing we should never feel is shame over our child’s paci addiction. So I urge you to come out of the paci closet and share your stories with other moms.

For what it’s worth, my oldest two kids that rejected the paci used me as their paci instead and that was no picnic either. We all have this great opportunity to grow in motherhood together if we just break down the walls of our own fear. Share your paci stories here.

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found writing on her blog The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her three adorable kiddos. This “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow her on Facebook or Twitter for her delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If there’s anything a toddler is good at, it’s sniffing out trouble. My daughter has discovered the joy of climbing on chairs and reaching a whole new world of items to touch, throw and spill. She’s also found a new favorite pastime – throwing herself on the floor in a fit of rage when she’s told she can’t do something. Every single time I see it, I have to try not to laugh and cry at the same time.

toddler climbing

She’s just itching to get bigger and to do things on her own. When my older children are putting on their shoes to go outside and wait for the bus in the morning she thoughtfully brings me one of hers and says, “shoe” in her sweet baby voice.

Sometimes she throws a fit when I tell her she can’t go too and sometimes she simply waves and says, “bye bye.” But I see it, that little spark in her eye. That determination to grow up and leave me.

I know it might seem a bit dramatic, but a part of my heart cries out, “No. Please just stay this little forever. Don’t rush it. Don’t grow up too fast. Don’t walk away. Because these are the last of the firsts for me.”

It’s so bittersweet knowing that she’s my last baby. Some part of me rejoices that I’ll never have to get up several times a night to nurse an infant anymore, and yet there it is – the finality that I’ll never snuggle a newborn again. I try to drink deep the moments I see those chubby toddler legs bounding around the corner with her sweet giggles of delight as I chase behind.

This is where I’m going to be from now on; always chasing behind her, watching her run farther ahead than I’m ready to let her. One day, I’ll have to take her for her first haircut and that will be the last of the first haircuts. Perhaps then those beautiful ringlets will disappear like they did with my first daughter.

This is the the last of the littles- little clothing and little chubby arms reaching out for me. Soon there will be no more kissing chubby baby cheeks and bellies and it’s slipping away so fast. I want to hold onto this moment forever.

I look at my older children and it takes longer to see the babies they were in their faces now. The roundness of my daughter’s cheeks is all but gone, and she’s growing into a beautiful girl who is discovering who she is without me. I know that’s a good thing, but the pang of sadness is there. My son is entering the age of the last of the little cuddles I steal before bedtime. Soon he won’t let me kiss him goodbye in public anymore and I’ll halfheartedly settle for a wave and a smile.

It’s so strange to watch your children growing up before your eyes. You are so happy and excited to see the people they are becoming each day. It goes by in a haze of homework, after-school activities, summer camp, and more meals than I want to recount cooking. It goes by while I’m just itching for bedtime so that I can get work done or watch my shows.

It goes by while I’m singing them to sleep on these last days of our nighttime routine. My son who used to require hours of singing before he would sleep, will one day turn to me and simply say, “It’s ok Mom, you don’t need to sing tonight.” And just as fast, it will be the end of “Night night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite. Have some sweet dreams. See you in the morning. I love you all to pieces.” I rush through it tonight and it’ll be gone tomorrow.

The littles will be over soon. The little arms beckoning me to pick them up. The little wet baby kisses on my cheeks. The little legs running through the house will one day walk out the door and oh how I’ll miss them.

There is nothing I can do to stop them. They’ll keep growing, no matter how I beg time to slow down just for a minute. Each year will blur into the next in waves of school years and work, sprinkled with vacations and trips.

So every day I vow to crank up the radio and dance with little arms around my neck. I’ll watch little legs wiggle to the beat of her own soundtrack. I’ll kiss little baby cheeks until she pushes me away and even then I’ll steal a few more. I’ll appreciate every single little thing about having small children, because every day they grow a little less little.

The song “Slow Down” by Nichole Nordeman perfectly sums up how I’m feeling right now.

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found writing on her blog The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her three adorable kiddos. This “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow her on Facebook or Twitter for her delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The End of A Chapter

Yesterday I packed the mini-van with a lot of Sydney’s baby gear she no longer uses like her co-sleeper, jumperoo, swing, and walker and I drove it to a local pregnancy support center to donate it. On the outside it may just look like we’re decluttering and we are, but it’s also much more than that. What it really means is an end to our baby years. What it really means is an end of a chapter in our lives.

Perhaps some people go into parenthood with a number in mind. Perhaps they want to replicate the number of siblings they had or create a family they wished they had had growing up. I swore up and down that I was done having babies after my second child was born. I’ve been here before. I’ve given all the gear away. I’ve told myself I wouldn’t ever need the maternity clothes again, but this time it feels different.

Are We Complete?

I’ve asked other women before if they just knew when they were done having babies. Some said they felt a sense that their family was complete. I think others just sit on the bench running out their biological clock till the option isn’t on the table anymore. I suppose until someone gets “fixed” the option is never totally off the table. I can’t say that will ever happen, but the days of us ever trying for another baby are over.

It’s bittersweet. The baby years are something so special and so rare and they go by in the blink of your bleary sleep deprived eyes. We went away for my son Jayden’s birthday this weekend and Sydney slept horribly in our shared hotel room. It took five attempts just to get her to sleep in her pack n play and then she woke up at 2 am wanting to play and we had no other choice but to put her in bed with us so she wouldn’t cry and wake up the other kids. Though we had already decided to pack away the baby years, the next morning solidified our decision. I was wrecked. It’s surprisingly fast, how quickly you forget the sleep deprivation once the veil finally lifts and you can see clearly again. It’s hard to willingly want to go back to that state.

Saying Goodbye To New Beginnings

Don’t get me wrong, the baby years are also some of the best in your life. The pure excitement of a positive pregnancy test, hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time or seeing him or her on an ultrasound for the first time are incredible. I will miss those moments, standing on the precipice of a new beginning.  Falling in love at first sight has only ever happened when meeting my babies for the first time; feeling the delicious weight of them in my arms and smelling their perfect newness radiating from their heads and faces. I will miss those beginnings, especially before the work really begins.

I’m not terribly sad to never get pregnant again, just because my pregnancies are full of vomiting, aches and pains, sometimes rashes that are so bad you’d like to rip your skin off, and Braxton Hicks contractions so painful you can’t move. Whoever said they were painless was full of it. The idea of never visiting the labor room again or enduring between 12-20 hours of labor seems like a relief. But I know I’m feeling all this now because my youngest is only 15 months old and while we’re knee deep into toddler town, she’s still a baby. It’s hard to make the call when you have a baby in the house. There is no “baby void” to fill. But I know I can’t afford to wait years for that void to grow. While I’m not physically old, 35 is now the new “advanced maternal age” when it comes to birthing babies. I know I don’t have two or three years to decide to have another child.

Beyond that my older children are beginning to take on more activities. They both do scouting and now basketball. There seriously NEEDS to be a support group for sports parents. All the running around, cooking dinner at 4 in the afternoon and trying to cover who is going to pick them up at 8 pm is enough to drive you to drink. It’s only made more complicated when you have a baby that goes to bed at 7 pm. I don’t know how much juggling is truly in me.

The Last of The Firsts

The only real regret I have is not knowing at the time, that it would be my last positive pregnancy test or heartbeat to be heard or sonogram picture to hold tight. I didn’t know that it would be the last time I swaddled a newborn and brought them home from the hospital. I didn’t know that her first birthday would be the last first birthday I would see. I wish I had known so I could have held tighter to those moments instead of them passing by in a haze. Even though I strongly suspected she would be my last, there’s a big difference between suspecting and knowing.

At what point after you make the decision, do you feel completely at ease with it instead of feeling the bittersweetness of it all? Do years need to pass? Does it ever go away? A part of me is relieved I won’t have to endure the challenges of the baby years. A part of me is glad to see the big clunky baby gear find it’s way to a new baby in a different household. It feels good to clear out my house, but it also feels sad to clear out the hope in my heart. I am simultaneously glad and sad. It’s sort of strange to close a door in your life and say this chapter is definitely over.

Yes, it’s hard to say goodbye to the baby years. There are things I will miss like the weight of an infant napping on my chest. I may miss nursing or rocking a baby. I probably won’t miss diaper explosions and three-a-day outfit changes. I won’t miss being so tired that my fuse is super short and EVERY LITTLE THING feels like a mountain I can’t climb. I won’t miss the miseries of pregnancy or the pain of labor. I will probably always miss the reward at the end though.

Writing New Chapters

I know I need to just keep looking forward. I need to write new chapters with my husband, Hannah, Jayden, and Sydney. I need to seek out new moments to look forward too. I know before I know it there will be middle school, then high school, proms and graduations. I know there will be MANY more firsts to come, but there will also be a lot of “lasts” as well. The last time I will potty train a child. Ok, that one is probably a good thing. But it takes a “last time” to FINALLY come to see those “first times” clearly. There is good and there is bad to everything. The baby years are amazing and special, but they’re also super hard, frustrating and draining.

Surprisingly I didn't cry when I packed up the baby gear to donate, but I know there will be a day in the future where I do.

Surprisingly I didn’t cry when I packed up the baby gear to donate, but I know there will be a day in the future when I will.

So to all the other moms who’ve decided to close up shop and say the days of making babies is over, I’m with you. I feel how bittersweet this goodbye is. I think it’s why most of us avoid making this decision. Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to say nothing out loud and just run out the clock, but I realize that if you really love the game you gotta leave on your own terms. Ultimately, I would want it to be a choice my husband and I make together, just like we did when we decided to start a family. So I will say my goodbyes to the baby years and maybe once Sydney is 3 or 4 I will sit down and have a good cry about it.

I’m not unhappy with three great kids. I wonder if four would push me into insanity, but the truth is that any more than one child will do that anyway. When you make it through the baby years and decide to go back, that’s the insane part. Love will do that to you. It’ll make you forget how hard it all was. So on that day when I’m having my good cry, I’ll try and remind myself how tired I was, how scared, how fragile it all seemed and I hope I’ll remember why we decided it was time to close this chapter in our lives.

While having a conversation with a friend this week we had a random discussion about “baby arm.” Baby arm is when moms have one arm that is clearly stronger from constantly holding a baby/toddler. It launched a mini-discussion about all the things I had no idea I could do one-handed before I had kids. I asked other moms, “What things have you done with a baby in your arm?” Moms are amazing multi-taskers and this list proves it. In no particular order here are the top 15 answers.

Sydney loves when I do squats with her on my shoulders, especially when I do it in front of my hall mirror, which creates a game of Peek-a-boo with herself.

Sydney loves when I do squats with her on my shoulders, especially when I do it in front of my hall mirror, which creates a game of Peek-a-boo with herself.

 

1. Cooked – Ok, don’t call CPS and don’t tell me you haven’t done it. It’s either hold the baby or have cold cereal for dinner some nights, especially when they hit that fun separation anxiety phase. I always thrust the hip with the baby away from the stove and stir away. I’ve also used the baby carrier as well to get dinner made when I need both hands.

2 Used The Bathroom – Ok this one is just as awkward as you can imagine, but it can be done. It requires even the slightest movement to be super calculated. Put baby on hip, unzip pants with one hand, scoot pants down a little, shift baby to other side and so on till pants and underwear are down, holding baby awkwardly to the side while you go to the bathroom and then repeat process in reverse for pulling pants up. There was a weird situation where I didn’t have shoes on the baby’s feet and no stroller while at the doctor’s office and when you gotta go, you gotta go. They say necessity is the mother of invention. I say Motherhood creates the necessity to invent.

3. Wash Your Hands – This one involves a similarly awkward process of shifting baby from one hip to other while you wash each hand separately. I think there’s a semi-squat position involved when soaping up hands together, then balancing baby on hip holding the baby with one arm around them and then moving to the other side.

4. Cart Luggage Through An Airport – When Hannah was almost two we went to South Carolina by plane. As if carting luggage through the airport without kids doesn’t suck enough, try it with kids. As a toddler she wanted to walk but could only go at a snail’s pace which isn’t conducive to the hustle and bustle of a busy airport. So I sat Hannah on top of my rolling luggage, holding her on with my free hand and rolled her to our gate. I got two kinds of looks from people – “You Are CRAZY!” and “YOU GO GIRL! Why didn’t I think of that?”. I think I had her straddling the handle, holding her back while she was facing forward.

5. Help Your Other Kids – Having a baby doesn’t mean your other kids will stop needing you to do things for them. So moms learn to improvise and do a lot of things while holding the baby like brush your child’s hair, help them find clothes, read them a story, made them a sandwich, etc.

6. Eat – With the exception of cutting meat, eating while holding a baby isn’t that hard. Getting everything on the plate and not the floor while the baby tries to steal from your plate is another story.

Doing squats while holding your baby is good for you and fun for them.

Doing squats while holding your baby is good for you and fun for them.

7. Exercise – Sometimes exercise is only possible while holding the baby and let’s be real it can be quite fun too. Baby squats anyone? I also like putting the baby on my legs to do crunches. Sometimes I put her on my shoulders and do squats and she thinks it’s hysterical, especially when I do it in front of my hall mirror so she dips below the mirror and then pops up to see herself once again.

8. Feed/Walk A Dog – I don’t have a dog, so I thanks to the ladies in my mom’s group on Facebook for suggesting this one. I can imagine the struggle of getting the dog to go one way while balancing a squirmy baby on your hip. I’m sure a baby carrier is the way to go on this one.

9 Blow Dry Hair – I can imagine this gets quite tricky, especially if your baby is like mine and hates loud sounds like hand dryers in public restrooms and the vacuum.

10. Open A Bottle Of Soda – I’m not even sure how you twist a cap off of anything while holding a baby, unless you’re using a baby carrier. I’ve been assured it can be done, but the degree of difficulty puts this one in the Mom-Olympian category.

11. Laundry – Laundry stops for no one. In my house it’s a daily battle and so is getting anything done without Sydney crying to be held. Don’t you just love the separation anxiety phase?

12. Grocery Shop – Pushing the cart with one hand is no easy feat, yet I think we’ve all done it at least once. I had all three kids with me and no baby carrier when Sydney held a melt down that could only be calmed by holding her. Needless to say, it took about three times longer to get through the store that day.

13. Clip Coupons – I haven’t personally done this one, but I can totally picture doing it (with some safety scissors of course).

14. Check Messages/Surf  The Internet – Who hasn’t done this one? Do we even get time to check our e-mail or surf the web without a child absolutely NEEDING something at that moment? Sure, there are nap times and bedtimes during which you sprint through the house trying to get everything else done that you can’t while the baby/toddler is awake. Trying to type with a baby in between your arms is especially tough, because the keyboard seems like the perfect thing to mash with their little hands.

15. Cleaning The House – Mopping, sweeping, and unloading the dishwasher are just some of the things moms learn how to do with our one free hand. The next time your husband looks at you and says, “You want me to cook AND watch the kids?” forward him this post so he can see all the things you quite literally balance all at once.

Moms are some of the most talented multi-taskers I’ve ever seen. We can do it all, though sometimes I feel like I have a serious case of dementia when I’m doing SO MANY things at once. Where did I put that item? There’s laundry half folded when I remember I have to take meat out of the freezer for dinner, unload the dishwasher and check my e-mail simultaneously. So Moms let me just say, “You Seriously Rock!” You put that baby on your hip and carry on like the soldiers you are. Just remember to switch sides once in a while or you’ll end up with a serious case of baby arm.

WAHM Title Photo

From SAHM To WAHM

If you’ve ever breastfed your baby while taking a work call or locked yourself in your bedroom and put on a movie for the kids in order to get some work done, you’re probably a Work At Home Mom (WAHM). Until recently, I thought of myself as a Stay At Home Mom. Then it was pointed out to me that I do in fact blog so technically I’m a WAHM. Being home for my kids has always been my primary objective and blogging flowed out of my need for free therapy from being home with the kids all day. The longer I do it though, the more I love it and the more I see it as my job.

Motherhood TRUMPS Everything

As I’ve said before, I’ve experienced many types of work/home combinations from full-time work, part-time, SAHM and now I can add WAHM to my list. In EVERY situation, there is one fundamental truth – Motherhood trumps all. I remember my mom picking me up from school when I was sick and I’d have to sit in her office kitchen with coloring books and small toys she always had stashed in her desk until 5 pm when we could go home. If your child is sick, has an event or doctor’s appointment, everything else gets dropped. I think the worst is being sick myself as a SAHM. There is no calling out of work and having to take care of three kids with a stomach virus is the WORST. There are some pretty funny and challenging situations that arise when you work from home. Here are my top 5.

1. Dodging The Kids – It’s like a horrible game of hide and seek where you tell the kids you have some work to do and then you move with the phone and laptop from room to room trying to avoid the constant barrage of, “I want a snack,” “Can I play outside,” “What’s for dinner?.” I swear my kids have a Spidey sense about when a door locks anywhere in the house. Then there is this NEED inside of them to damn near break down the door if I try to shoo them away. When my son was three he broke a plastic maraca against my bedroom door while I was on a conference call. It doesn’t help that there is no designated office space in my house, but I know that there is no boundary they won’t cross. I’m sure it makes for a humorous sight, me running room to room begging the kids for just one hour of quiet time to work.

This is what being a WAHM looks like in a good moment post nap time dash.

This is what being a WAHM looks like in a good moment post nap time dash.

2. Nap Time Dash – Ok, you’ve got the baby or toddler down now the clock starts. You turn on the baby monitor and try to cram as much work as you can into that hour, if you’re lucky to get a full hour. You learn to work with what time you get. I’m sure some moms wait for their kids to go to bed at night, but that’s my only opportunity to hit the gym and leaving the house to go ANYWHERE on my own is a privilege I’m unwilling to sacrifice.

3. Multitasking Mania – So you find yourself breastfeeding and trying to scroll through e-mail with one hand, proofing text while folding laundry and a hundred times a day answering non-work related questions during your “work hours.” Can you imagine being in your office and having your boss barge in every five minutes to tell you a co-worker has stolen his stapler or to ask if it’s lunch time yet? Yeah, that would be something, but that’s just another work day in my house. Between breaking up fights, helping with homework, and making dinner I somehow manage to squeeze work in. My typical to-do list has at least half a dozen things on it which include blogging, usually next to laundry, unloading the dishwasher and making doctor appointments.

My office is wherever I can find a quiet spot in my house, but I'm always confronted with household tasks that also need to be done.

My office is wherever I can find a quiet spot in my house, but I’m always confronted with household tasks that also need to be done.

4. Fighting Cleaning OCD – I recently had a conversation with a friend who works from home. She doesn’t have kids, but she still falls into the cleaning trap. You have work to do, but that pile of dishes or laundry is really bugging you. She admitted to doing laundry while on the phone with clients. I do miss the separation of home and work sometimes. I NEVER thought about laundry at my office job. Imagine someone emptied their trash can on your office desk. Beyond being pissed, you simply couldn’t work until your space was clean. Now picture your whole house as your desk and that’s where I’m at.

5. You Must Be Free – There is a misconception that if you are home that you’re just watching TV all day. Let me tell you that my kids are not back to school like most everyone else and I am itching for some free time to work. Case in point, my husband just called to ask me to do something during my “nap time dash/dodging the kids” time to write. I love that recently my husband got a small taste of what my day is like and FINALLY understood this is no cake walk. There are no breaks, save those few minutes I attempt to wolf down a sandwich before someone asks me for another cup of water or a snack after barely touching their lunch. My kids were searching for the remote this morning and I can honestly say I haven’t so much as touched it in two weeks. You may also find yourself volunteering a lot because technically you’re home and you try to work out the balancing of everything else later.

Can I Clock Out Now?

Most working parents know when their work day starts and when it ends. There is also a good chance they have a job description. Working from home means that not only are the lines between work and home blurred, but occasionally they are downright broken. Work and home flow together like a rapid current that can’t be stopped. Sometimes I’m grateful that I’m here for my kids if they are sick or have off from school and sometimes I wish for some division of duties. I met a lady at church who works from home. She said she hired someone to help her with her business and when it became clear her employee wasn’t cut out for that line of work she had the employee watch her kids instead so she could work uninterrupted. Maybe that’s what I need hmm…

This is the WAHM reality most days. Sydney is upset because I dared to put her down to take this photo.

This is the WAHM reality most days. Sydney is upset because I dared to put her down to take this photo.

During the drafting of this post I’ve played the baby dash, taken a call from my husband, made a hair appointment for my daughter, made my bed because I can’t stand working in my bedroom looking at it, been asked for a snack, been informed about an irrelevant topic (I brushed my hair Mom) and I’m just now realizing I forgot to eat breakfast. It’s just another day in the life of a WAHM.

Share your funny or frustrating Work At Home moments. Follow me on Facebook.

Last week I talked about four ways to save money on the cost of having a baby. Here are four more.

5. Give breastfeeding a chance – Please do not mistake me. I am in no way judging anyone’s choice on how to feed their baby. What I am suggesting is that women give breastfeeding a real chance.  My lactation nurse in the hospital recommended two weeks of exclusive breastfeeding before deciding if you want to stick with it.

Most women give up long before this because they are afraid their babies aren’t getting enough to eat or are worried about what breastfeeding will do to their bodies or lifestyles or maybe just because in the beginning it can be painful.  With breastfeeding all you need are a couple good nursing bras, some breast pads, a nursing cover up or blanket, and nipple cream (if needed).  You could save a lot of money by not buying expensive bottles or formula.

Get Skinny Without Hitting The Gym

A bonus for mom is that it burns a lot of calories and speeds up the process by which your uterus shrinks back to its pre-pregnancy size. You could find yourself back in your regular jeans a lot sooner.  It’s also great for bonding with your baby.  That being said, if you can’t breastfeed for whatever reason, there’s no need to feel bad because your baby won’t care how he or she gets fed.

6. Consider using cloth diapers – Notice I said “consider” and not “use cloth diapers.” You can buy some really great diapers now with adjustable buttons or Velcro that can be adjusted as your baby grows.  You could look for these diaper covers used on Ebay or Craigslist and simply buy new inserts for your baby. Cloth diapers could save you thousands of dollars on diapers over the course of the three years your baby will be in them.  Bonus: if you can use the same set for subsequent children you could save a LOT more.

7. Join the Club & Coupon It Up – When dealing with baby poop, we all have our limits on what we will or won’t do. Some people can’t get around the idea of washing dirty diapers or paying for a diaper cleaning service so I recommend couponing and taking advantage of every rewards program you come across. Sign up for e-newsletters from your favorite brands whether it’s Pampers, Luvs, Huggies, etc. Do this for your formula, baby food, and bottle brands of choice as well. You can get free samples and coupons just for signing up in many cases. ShopRite has a Baby Bucks program where you can earn a $10 catalina (coupon that prints at checkout) for a future order when you spend $100 on baby items including food, wipes and diapers during a certain time period. Check with your favorite grocery store to see if they have a similar program.

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Check for deals that give you catalinas for purchasing certain brands of baby items. On Saturday I got a sweet deal on Luv’s diapers at ShopRite. For buying four packages of diapers at only $6.49 a package I got two catalinas – one for $5 off a future order and one for $3 off a future offer. Plus I used a $1 off Luv’s coupon to reduce my cost to $24.96 pre-tax with $8 back, making it like $16.96 for 4 packages of diapers. I also snagged two packages of Pampers wipes on sale for $1.59 each and used two .50 off coupons that each double to $1. So I spent $1.18 for both packages.

8. Make your own baby food – If you have a stove and a blender or food processor you can make your own baby food. Make your meals like you normally do, but perhaps make a little extra and throw the unseasoned cooked food into a good food processor or blender and blend till appropriately smooth for baby (depending on how old the baby is). You can increasingly leave it thicker as the babies gets older so they have an easier time transitioning to finger foods.  Just ask your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns regarding their ability to mash or digest certain foods.

Share your money-saving tips here.

When I had a conversation with my Aunt last summer, I mentioned that I wanted to have another child. She asked me if I was sure because it’s so expensive. My response- “it’s as expensive as you choose to make it.” I’m not saying having a baby is free, but there are plenty of things you can do to save money.

1. Wait a little while before you go shopping. Don’t rush out to the store the minute the pregnancy test comes back positive.  Wait and see what you get at your baby shower if you’re having one.  If you’re not having a shower, inventory hand-me downs from previous children, cousins, friends’ kids, nieces and nephews, etc.  It’s important to know what you really need BEFORE you venture out to the store to buy it.

2. Buy it used.  With few exceptions like car seats and cribs, most baby gear can be found a lot cheaper used. Check your local children’s consignment shops, Craigslist, Ebay, and Freecycle.  You can always check with manufactures to stay up-to-date on recalled items.  Here’s the kicker about babies, you could spend big bucks on an item your baby will absolutely HATE. They are very fickle little people when they are first adjusting to life outside the womb.  If you have friends or family members with babies, ask if you can try out their baby gear to see if you’re little one likes it.

kid's consignment photo

3. Accept hand-me-downs with grace and gratitude. Babies often grow out of clothing or stop needing gear long before it gets worn out so put it out to friends and family that you are willing to gratefully accept any and all hand-me-downs that come your way. Sure some of it may not be your style or what you were looking for, but in my experience it’s best to accept it all. If you start pawing through these gifts and saying I’ll take this but not that, then people will become frustrated with you and not want to give you anything anymore.

Instead, take it all, say thank you and go through it at home alone. Don’t forget to thank those that bless you with hand-me-downs. You could be spending big bucks for these items, which you are getting for free. You can always give away, sell or trade items you can’t use (provided the giver doesn’t expect these items to be returned when you’re done with them).

4. Buy big ticket items in neutral colors.  If you aren’t finding out the sex of your baby before it’s born or if you’re planning to have another child someday, this tip is key.  Sure that pink stroller was super cute when you bought it for your daughter, but if your next child is a boy you’ll find yourself shelling out a bunch of money for a new one just because you don’t want to keep correcting everyone when they say, “Aww, what a cute little girl.”  Stick to neutral patterns and colors for playpens, cribs, highchairs, strollers, swings, etc. If you can pass the gear down to the next child, you’ll save yourself a bunch of money.

Stay tuned for more tips, and feel free to share your money saving tips here.

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Lia talking to her mom on my cell phone.

My granddaughter, Lia, just turned 8 on July 3rd. I remember when she was born. The doctor told my daughter-in law Caroline that she probably give birth the last week of June. I was looking forward to that hoping she would share my June 25th birthday. June 25th and 26th and 27th past and no Lia.

Now I’m having a problem because my mom’s birthday is July 4th and she lives in southern New Jersey quite a distance from my kids. I had been staying close to the phone so I wouldn’t miss the call about Lia entering the world. After Caroline gave birth, Clay and I were going to take care of Robert, who was 3 at the time. Finally early on July 3rd I called my mom to say Clay and I were coming over to celebrate her birthday.

You can guess what happened next. We were all at an outdoor ice cream stand laughing as we sat under some trees enjoying some cool ice cream cones when my son, Paul, called. “Mom, where are you? Meet us at the hospital.” In the car. Bring mom home and drive the I-95 corridor toward Trumbull, CT.

Although I didn’t see her right after she was born, I am sure Lia came out singing and dancing. (Would have made a great YouTube video.)

And she has been singing and dancing ever since. For example, the family would meet at the Danbury Mall, and when Lia was 3-years-old she would dance to the tunes coming from the free-standing ad kiosks. Shoppers would stop, smile, applaud and Lia kept dancing.

This past year she joined a hip hop dance class which she loved. She would demonstrate her new moves every time we came over. “Look what I can do,” she would say with a big grin on her face.

Saturday, June 8th was Lia’s big day…her dance recital at the Klein Memorial Auditorium, a beautiful Bridgeport theater. And believe it or not, this was the first time she said she didn’t want to perform. This is a girl who would dance anytime she heard a tune. Caroline encouraged her to put on her costume and just go to rehearsal, knowing that once Lia heard the music there was no stopping her.

The recital was more than I expected with colorful costumes, great music and wonderful backdrops. All the kids seemed to enjoy being on stage. The auditorium was filled with parents, relatives and friends of the dancers who were all there to support the kids on stage.

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Lia enjoyed her celebration lunch after her first dance recital

Afterwards, Lia came running from the backstage door with the biggest smile. Would she do it again? “Yes, grandma,” she said. “I am ready for the fall classes.”

If not, then Hudson Valley babies are in the minority. According to CNN , 92% of US babies are online. “Thanks to the ubiquity of photo-sharing websites like Facebook, 82 percent of children in 10 Western countries have a digital footprint before the age of 2, according to a study by internet security firm AVG.” They’re not the ones necessarily uploading photos onto Facebook though. It’s parents, family members, friends of the family, etc. that are doing the uploading.

I am definitely guilty of doing that. When my niece and nephew were born I splattered pictures onto my Facebook page like there was no tomorrow. (They are were too cute not to be seen!)  But then I decided I wasn’t sure who exactly was looking at these pictures and deleted my photo albums. It does raise some security issues regarding Hudson Valley children and the internet, as discussed by our Child Behavior columnist Dr. Paul Schwartz. The times are a’changing and now apparently my two year old niece will soon surpass me in Facebook “friends”.

While babysitting my nephew the other day, we were both playing with some great baby toys when  suddenly he heard the Mickey Mouse Club House theme song start to play on the TV in the background. He started weaving and bobbing his head, basically turning into a dancing machine. He loves when you dance with him or sing towards him. He will always dance back. Other than being adorable, I just read today that babies loving to dance is now a proven scientific fact.

According to a new study from the University of York in England, “Babies love a beat and dancing comes naturally to infants. The research showed babies respond to the rhythm and tempo of music, and find it more engaging than speech.” You can read the rest of the article here.  Have you noticed this is true? Leave your dancing stories here!

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