Simple Mom Cleaning Hacks

I don’t fancy myself a domestic goddess in the least.  Along the way, I have learned some tips on how to clean our baby gear or hacks on how to avoid having to clean to begin with.  Whether it be from other moms, youtube tutorials, Pinterest, or various FaceBook groups, I’ve learned a few things since having my first baby.  Below are a few tips and hacks that have saved my sanity – or at least crib bedding – at one point or another.  

Bedroom

Bedding: For quick and easy sheet changes make the bed with a mattress protector, fitted sheet, mattress protector again, then fitted sheet again.  This way if you have an overnight leak/accident you can just pull off the top sheet and mattress protector and the work is already done for you.

Uncluttered bedrooms: This might not be a hack, but, in the kids rooms we only keep clothing, books, and a few stuffed animals.  If Reece has quiet time in his room I will bring a toy he picks out into his room.  When he’s done the toys go back in their bin and back to the play room.  So far, this has kept their rooms relatively mess free.

Reece's nursery
Reece’s minimalistic, super easy to keep clean, nursery

Laundry

Meal Time: Use smocks instead of bibs to avoid staining baby clothes for messy eaters. 

Stain removing must haves: Shout, white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, Kids & Pets (or some other enzyme carpet/fabric cleaner), and rubbing alcohol.

Poop-cidents: Potty training underwear blow outs are covered here.

Socks: Hang a mesh delicates bag on the side of the hamper for socks so your socks can stay with their match.

Playroom

Crayons: Art project missed the mark and got some crayon on the table or wall? WD40 is super easy. A lot of people swear by Magic Eraser, if you have only one coat of paint, tread carefully. 

Mega blocks and Duplo Lego: there are two easy ways to clean: 1) Throw in large mesh laundry bag and wash on delicate in the washing machine or 2) Soak in the tub with a little bleach and agitate manually (swish around with hands), make sure to follow up with a rinse.

Kitchen

Sour smelling sippy cups:  Do a bleach and water soak, then wash as you would normally.  (1 tbs bleach to 1 gal water ration) Another trick is denture tablets!

Microwave: For the love of all things holy, buy a microwave cover and use it. EVERY time you nuke something.  It will save you so much cleanup and they are super cheap.  I clean my microwave pretty much never, but it’s not because I let it slide.  It just doesn’t have the ick buildup that I had before using a cover.

Inside microwave
This is the inside of my microwave at all times thanks to the cover!

Stove/Counter Black Hole: For the space between the stove and counters use a stove guard.  Maybe this space isn’t a place you think about cleaning, which makes the guard even more vital, but spilled or splattered oil dripping down the sides of the counter and stove is a fire risk if it gets bad enough.

Gas Stove Grates or Grill: Throw it in a trash bag and add some ammonia.  Let it sit for a few hours then rinse off.  No elbow grease needed.

Baby Gear

These tips aren’t “simple” but a lot of first time parents, or even seasoned parents aren’t sure how to clean these items so I added them to the post.

Car Seat: Always, Always! Refer to your car seat manual.  Some seats can only be surfaced cleaned, some hand wash only, and some can go in the washing machine.  If you can put yours in the washer, wash on gentle cycle and use a gentle detergent such as Tide Free and Gentle.  For the base vacuum up crumbs then wipe down base and straps with a baby wipe.  DO NOT use a Clorox wipe, it breaks down the integrity of the car seat.

Toddler in car seat
A clean car seat is my JAM!

Pack and Play:  If it’s only a minor stain use a baby wipe.  If it needs a deep clean, it’s improtant to check if your mattress has a cardboard/pressboard or plastic board.  If it’s plastic it’s safe to throw all parts, mattress and play yard part (collapsed), into a tub to wash.  Soak in warm water, detergent, and Oxi.
If it’s cardboard I would recommend sticking to surface cleaning for the mattress.  If you must deep clean the mattress you might have to get a little crafty.  Cut a slit in the back and remove, wash minus the board, then glue velcro strips where the opening is so you can close it after cleaning.

 

The Mommy Friendship Hustle

Far away, are the easy breezy days of meeting people and making friends in high school or college.  Graduating can bring a sense of starting over, but you work at it and while finding your way in the world, you meet some cool people.  Then you become a mom.  The new life phase can wash away at the momentum you gained growing friendships.  Your priorities, lifestyle, schedule, availability all shift.

I’ve been a mom for four years now, and it wasn’t until recently I started to remotely feel like I’ve gotten into a groove with other moms.  Motherhood is awesome and fulfills me in a way I never realized was missing.  What also comes with it are innumerable responsibilities and a rollercoaster of feelings that can be overwhelming.  I swear, half of the burden of motherhood can be the mental load, thinking about everything you need to be doing, what everyone needs.  Finding a peer you can trust, to talk freely with and unload with, is cathartic.  But how do you find your people?

If you manage to find a prospective mom you think you might click with, you still have to contend with so many factors that go against making friends.  To make new friends you need consistency, the confidence to make plans, availability, and commonality.  Other things as well to be sure, but these are some main building blocks.  Kids throw a major wrench into the mix.

Is it me?

It can feel like you’re the only one struggling to make friendships.  Not so!  There have been so many times I’ve cried or been in a funk over not having close friends nearby or false start friendships.  When we are viewing our friends, acquaintances, bloggers, etc., through the lens of Instagram and Facebook, we have to remember, that is NOT real life.  It’s a projected life that is cropped using only one perfect picture out of fifty crappy pictures or moments.

The Mommy Dating Game

Motherhood is a friendship HUSTLE!  You’ve gotta work it!  When you do meet someone you mesh with, you have to actually meet up a second time to get the ball rolling.  Sounds easy, but damn!

Moms (I mean, kids) are signed up for some many activities and obligations.  Trying to plan a playdate with another Mama is like playing the most complicated game of Tetris Scheduling there ever was.  On the one hand, all those classes, activities, and other obligations are helping moms to get out there and meet new people.  On the flip side, they can get in the way of making plans sometimes.

First Base, and Beyond

While you are meeting people at these cool kid things, you typically don’t have a lot of down time to talk and connect.  This is where it gets awkward.  You think someone seems could be cool and you want to “take it to the next level” by doing something outside of class.  You’re basically back in the dating scene.  Only instead of guys, you’re trying to catch a mom friend.  Remember when you thought dating was soooo hard?  Mom dating, is a whole other level.

Then, say you do find that miracle day where the stars align and you can meet up.  Congratulations!  You’ve made it to second base!  There is a 1000% chance a kid will get sick, have a poopsplosion all over the car seat making it impossible to drive anywhere, some family emergency, or some other crazy issue will arise for one of you.  Boo!

The Setbacks Can Be Killer

If it’s not you that had to cancel/reschedule, then you’re thinking, “Did I do something wrong? What if they just aren’t that into me? Maybe I came off too strong?  Or not strong enough?!?!”  Stop the downward spiral.  Avert! Avert!  Your logical self understands.  After all, it could have just as easily been you that had to cancel for all the crazy reasons that happen when you have kids.  Still, it’s hard to not feel insecure or slighted sometimes.  And this can happen multiple times before actually succeeding in both of moms showing up for a date, I mean, play date.

Get Out There, Then Be Ready to Repeat

You must put yourself out there.  Way out there.  I think I’ve had more play dates or mom nights out that have been rejected or cancelled, than have happened.  It can get a person down.  I know how easy it is to get discouraged, just keep at it. I swear, took FOUR YEARS for me to find and connecting with new people.  While I’ve gotten to 4th base with some moms, I would still say we are in the honeymoon phase of our dating.  I do think the outlook is promising!

Mom besties
This is one of my mom besties. She lives across the country, but we make it work. My motivation to get out there and connect with other Moms near me.

Haste is Waste

It’s not to say it won’t happen next week, or tomorrow even.  Remember though, any friendship needs time.  Sometimes in our haste to connect with other people we overlook the fact that maybe there isn’t much substance.  Sure, you both have kids the same age, and that can go a long way, but similar parenting philosophies, love of gardening, or whatever, other real interests are needed in any friendship.

Tall, Dark, and Handsome!

Remember when you were out there in the dating field?  Didn’t you think you had a ‘type?’  You still must look around and be selective.  As a Mom, you don’t have time (I mean literally, the schedule is packed) to date moms that you don’t even care to hang out with.  I know it seems like you can’t be, but you need to!  This isn’t high school.  A core group to keep you grounded, save you from your kids, show up for plans.  This will only happen if it’s the real thing.

Keep perspective by knowing motherhood is perfect for no one.  Again, don’t get sucked into the social media projection.  Successes and setbacks are all part of finding cool moms.

If you can relate to this, please, please share!  Better yet, let me know how you work through the mom dating scene or how you persevered and found a mom bestie!

Missing Items or Missing Brain?

Parent or not, there are always items you misplace, daily even.  Things you might routinely lose: your keys, phone, TV remote, or wallet.  These are items pretty much everyone can relate to misplacing regularly.  After kids, the list seems to increase exponentially.  Pillows from your couch can go missing for days.  I don’t even know how that can even happen, but it can.  We have packed everything up, moved, gone through everything while unpacking and still been unable to find outfits, books, or tools.

I’m not sure if it’s mom brain, or sneaky kids, or just complete loss of your bearings, but items just seem to disappear into a black hole, never to return when you become a parent.  

The list is endless, but these are my top missing items offenders:

  1. Nail clippers
  2. Thermometers
  3. Butt cream
  4. Shoes/socks
  5. Lovies
  6. Half eaten food
  7. Fridge magnets (Especially the ABC’s magnets)
  8. Toothbrushes
  9. Sunscreen
  10. Shoes

There are even multiples of most of these items (I’m talking about you most of all nail clippers!) and still we are unable to unearth it when we need it.  Below are just a few found (or half found) items over my past four years of motherhood.

Missing socks
Socks with no pairs
Shoes in dishwasher
Just… Why?
Moms shoes in play kitchen
Oh yes, right where I left them…
Shoes on play kitchen
The kids kitchen is a popular place for shoes
Unmatched socks
More solo socks
Kale in the play kitchen
Found this real kale cooking in the play kitchen

If you are in the same boat as me, always check the play kitchen first!  Did I hit the mark, or miss something in your top 10?  I would love to know.  Please tell me I’m not alone!

Mom and Son Date In The City

The entire summer there has been no overlap in daycare for Kat and Reece.  As a result, Mondays and Fridays, Reece has been getting 100% mom time while Kat’s in daycare, and Tuesday through Thursday the mornings are all about Kat, while Reece is at camp.  Once school starts in September, Reece’s mom only days will be few and far between.  This will be great for my productivity, but will be a little sad.  We will still have plenty of time together, but the dynamic is just a little different with little sister or dad around.  Since our Reece and Mom only days are numbered once school starts, I took advantage and planned a special day for both of us.  A Mommy/Reece date!!

I got an invitation to go to the Trunk Club Boston’s Clubhouse and decided it was the perfect excuse to make the drive into Boston.  I don’t venture into Boston often because I don’t like risking a car nap happening at the wrong time.  But, caution to the wind, it’s our special day!  My Trunk Club appointment motivated me to follow through.  I kept the plan flexible, with just an itinerary of my Trunk Club appointment, swan boats, ice cream, and explore the Back Bay and Beacon Hill neighborhoods.

Mom and son sitting by fountain
Reece and I sitting by the fountain, taking in the city.

We arrived a little early and sat by the fountain outside Trinity Church.  I pointed out the John Hancock Building, Boston Public Library, and Copley Place Mall to him.  I also pointed out a Wendy’s that used to be Poppy’s pizza shop.  Reece was only interested in the Hancock Building.  Now I have some homework to do finding toddler facts about Boston’s tallest building.  Our Trunk club appointment took about an  hour, I got two cute shirts.  The focus for the rest of the day was whatever Reece wanted to do!  We drove down to the Boston Public Garden and only had to circle once for a spot.  I was so relieved, there are parking lots nearby but street parking is so much cheaper!  We would have walked, but I forgot the stroller and the parking meter time was a factor.

 

Reece really wanted to explore and inspect every acorn.  He’s a dawdler, I rushed a little bit to make our way to the swan boats.  I didn’t want to risk lots of aimless wandering, then scratching the main event to haul it home ASAP for a nap.  Don’t worry, I didn’t rush too much.  It still took us about 20 minutes from the car to the docks – it’s about a 3 minute walk for a normal person.

Reece exploring Boston Public Garden
Reece exploring The Boston Public Garden

We spent about 10 minutes on the footbridge talking about how we were going to go on the swan boats.  I have to mention, Reece dressed himself, which explains the backwards shirt.  I asked him several times if he wanted to fix his shirt to no avail.  Nope, very proud, he did it himself, doesn’t need help.  At least his shorts were on right.  I think it’s 50/50 that any article of clothing is on the right way.

Reece on Boston Garden footbridge
Reece on the footbridge checking out the Swan Boats

Once we had soaked up the idea of what the swan boats were, we made our way into the line, applied more sunscreen, and hopped onboard.  If you don’t know the history of the swan boats, you should read about it here.  It’s not a long read, and the sweetest story.

 

Back at the dock we decided it was ice cream time, so off Reece and I ventured to some of the pushcarts nearby.  I did not have any cash so that was a fail.  We explored the Commons and Gardens a little more and headed down to Charles Street to find lunch.  A few of the places I wanted to check out had crazy, long lines and weren’t the most toddler friendly, and most importantly, NO ice cream.  After three or four restaurant fails we decided on Caffe Bella Vita.  I told my father later, and his response was, “That place is still open?”  Apparently, he used to go as a kid for gelato.  We ordered gelati for lunch with a PBJ dessert.

Reece eating strawberry ice cream
Reece nomming on some strawberry ice cream. Yum Yum!

We still had time left in the meter for one more thing.  It would be tight, but just enough time to go to the Boston Common Carousel.  I found $3 after rummaging through my diaper bag, hurrah!  Reece picked a bench instead of a horse and was in toddler heaven.  I even let him have a slush on the walk back to the car.  Which was sort of a bad idea because at this point we were pushing the limit of our parking meter time.  I tried to carry the slush to pick up the pace but no dice.  We got to the car and while I was buckling him in our time expired.  Whew!

Mom and Reece on carousel
Best picture we could get on the carousel. Just too exciting for selfies!

Boston Common Carousel

When we saw Dada that night, he asked Reece, “What did you do today?”  Reece told him, “I went shopping with Mama.”  Glad the swan boats, ice cream, carousel, and exploring the city and BPG made an impression!  When pressed he did also mention he had ice cream for lunch, haha.

Reece’s Dr. Seuss Birthday

First I had to say goodbye officially to the infant phase of my life when Kat turned two, and now Reece is four?  His last birthday before he is ‘school aged.’  Stop growing babies!!  Pity party aside… This year Reece could, somewhat, help pick out what he wanted to do for his birthday party.  I gave him a couple options he picked a backyard Dr. Seuss party.  The past few months he’s fallen back in love with his Dr. Seuss books and his birthday party countdown commenced.

We invited our family and Reece’s preschool class, which is pretty wild for us.  I took the gamble that most people wouldn’t be able to make it since it would be summer vacation.  As I had thought, only a handful of classmates RSVPed yes, a couple no, but the majority we didn’t hear from.  We planned food for more than we expected, since we weren’t 100% sure how many to expect.  Best to have too much food than not enough.

I later found out during our play group, pretty close to the party, several people didn’t even get the invitation and just assumed we only invited close friends when other play group moms mentioned it.  The problem with distributing cards to the class AT school I suppose.  Oops.  Hopefully we didn’t offend our classmates.  I learned, three and four year olds aren’t the best messengers.  Who knew?

As with Kat’s party I whipped up a Pinterest board for ideas on what little touches of Dr. Seuss I could bring to the party.

Decor

We only bought a couple things, a Dr. Seuss party banner from my favorite store, Target, of course, and a few red and blue plates and cups.  The only other decor were signs I drew myself.  Since it was a backyard party, we didn’t need to go crazy on decorations.

 

Food

To go with the Dr. Seuss theme that was preschool friendly we did pasta salad (noodle eating poodle), gold fish (the fish from The Cat In The Hat) and of course (Truffula) fruit salad.  Not theme related, but other food included: hotdogs, popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, and mini Oreo. The kids spent about half the party crowded around the food table helping themselves to Oreo and popcorn so good thing we didn’t stick to only theme food.

 

Activity

We were going to do water activities, but nixed it since not all the kiddos had suits.  Didn’t matter, the kids played on the swing set, a crawling tunnel, balls, and all the other outdoor toys we have and had a blast.  By candle time pretty much all the kids were ready for naps.  Not very Pinteresty, but at this age running around outside is much more fun than adults trying to tell them what to do and when to do it.

Dessert

Reece requested cupcakes.  The most important part of these cupcakes (for me) were the Dr. Seuss colors.  So I picked up a food coloring kit.

 

I picked a couple different story books: The Lorax, One Fish Two fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and Oh, The Places You’ll Go!  For the truffula trees I used this super easy tutorial to make yarn flowers which actually make a cool truffula trees, then stuck the pipe cleaner into straws that I cut down a little to fit the cupcakes.

Truffula trees
Truffula tree tops

For the One Fish Two Fish cupcakes I piped yellow frosting, then put gummy sharks or Swedish fish on top.  Oh, The Places You’ll Go cupcakes, simply piped a layer in few different colors with the round frosting tip.

Dr Seuss Cupcakes

Since I made more than enough, my husband brought the leftovers to his office and he reported back that his coworkers knew it was Dr. Seuss cupcakes!  I was pretty jazzed. For any allergy kiddos we made some Cat In The Hat parfait.

If you are thinking of a birthday party that isn’t a typical character theme that you can find at Party City, don’t feel overwhelmed!  There are ways to get creative and not spend all your budget on Etsy.  And, don’t forget the most important goal, a fun party for the birthday boy/girl.  All that’s needed for a successful birthday party, really, is playing and toddler friendly food.

Kat Turns Two! – Art Birthday Theme

Another year, another year older for Kat.  Wahhh!!  I officially no longer have a 1 and 3 year old.  After lots of self pity wondering where the time went, I got to planning on how to celebrate my despair… Umm.. Happiness…  Time to get cracking on the birthday party planning.

I’m not one to go all out with huge, fancy blowout birthday parties, but I do like to do a couple special touches.  We typically have smallish backyard parties since we have April and June babies.  We invited our family and a couple friends who have toddlers the same age as Reece and Kat, keeps it somewhat manageable for us.

Since Reece and Kat are still pretty little, I have a good amount of control on all birthday party aspects.  At this age, let’s be real, it’s basically the parents party.  Regardless, I wanted to make it Kat’s party as much as I could.  She’s a pretty sunny baby and loves her unicorn costume, trains, gymnastics, baby dolls, legos…  So many interests and cool things, what to pick?!  After some brainstorming, and a lot of flip flopping, I settled on an art theme.  We do art class every week along with big brother and this was a chance to show off her artistic chops!  

I created a pinterest board to help inspire me.  Then I tried to figure out what could be done with minimal work and on the cheap.  

Decor

I hung up Kat and Reece’s art work around the house to showcase their beautiful work (read: scribbles).  Then I bought a unicorn table cloth and a couple little strings that had colorful mini poms on them and strung them up on a window and the front door. Kats Art themed birthday party decor 

Food

I tried to keep things colorful since it was an art theme.  I did a veggie rainbow platter and a bowl with all different colored fruit.  I stumbled upon some Chewies that had rainbow sprinkles on them.   Then we got lazy and bought some chicken bites, plus mac and cheese bites and baked them up. Hey, it’s a toddler party, right?

Kat nomming on strawberries
Kat nomming on strawberries

rainbow of fruit, birthday art food

Activity

Of course we have to have some painting at our Art Birthday party! So I bought a pack of board canvas, one for each toddler friend and restocked our paint.  Then I moved the craft table into the main room so the kids weren’t squished in the playroom. They spent about 5 minutes painting and crafting, the rest of the time they were either eating (80% of Kat’s time at least) or going to town with whatever toys they could find in the playroom.  Somehow, the house wasn’t a huge mess after the party, woohoo!Kat drawing in a coloring bookKat and friends painting

Cake

This is typically the ‘big’ thing I do for my children’s birthdays.  To create this cool looking cake, I baked SIX layers of cake then frosted it with vanilla frosting.  I melted white chocolate in several bowls and mixed each one with a different food coloring color.  Using a spoon, I dribbled the chocolate over the cake edge.  I let Reece help by letting him go to town with some dot rainbow sprinkles, covering the entire top.  To top it all off, I got a pack of paper poms.  A pretty big show stopper.  I thought with all the white chocolate it would be disgusting since I’m not really a fan, but paired with the cake it was yummy.Kat's rainbow art birthday cake

If you are planning an Art themed birthday party, I hope this gave you some ideas of what you could do.  Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks if you are interested in a Dr. Seuss theme, I’ll be posting Reece’s Dr. Seuss party!

What To Consider If You Want To Become A SAHM

“Should I leave the workforce and be a stay at home parent?”  I believe, ultimately, you already know the answer to this question.  BUT, there are some things you may not have considered as part of the equation.  A lot of parents focus on finances when trying to decide whether one parent will be staying at home.  Then there are a lot of hidden considerations that can go overlooked.  While I can’t give you the answer, I can give a little insight to some factors to be considered if a parent should ditch the 9-5 to become a stay at home parent. It’s a big decision and should be heavily weighed before handing over your resignation letter.  Where do you start?  

Resentment

Will there be resentment from the working parent towards the non-working parent?  Will the stay at home parent resent that the working parent gets “a break” from the kids, adult interaction, a further identity than just Mom or Dad?  Will there be resentment because of how long the working parent is gone for the day?  It might seem sweet and sunshiny to be with the baby all day long, but the sleepy newborn days end and by 4:45 you could be at your END.  When Dad is 10 minutes later than normal, he is almost guaranteed to walk into a shit show.  The working parent has to be able to take on kid duty as soon as they walk through the door.  

Loneliness

How will you connect with others? How will it feel to be without adult interaction day after day? Unless you have a lot of friends that live nearby who have kids that are at least somewhat close in age to yours, you might be pretty lonely only talking to someone who can’t communicate all day every day.  Signing up for multiple activities does not guarantee a Best Mom Friend, at least not immediately.  All mom’s are very busy and their babies/kids have their own schedules so trying to make the leap from acquaintances to friends outside of a class/activity can be a hurdle since the best way to make a friendship grow is constant interaction.  Gaining mom friends is a constant hustle.     

Loss of Identity

Leaving the workforce, even if it’s only for a couple years, can leave you feeling like your identity slipping away from you.  Being at home all day with the kids turns into an identity as Mom.  I can’t even recall how many parents I know simply as ‘so and so’s’ mom.  You remember the children’s names but it’s always so hectic so mom and dad’s name gets lost in the shuffle.  Sometimes it’s hard to separate from mom duty in order to attend to your own hobbies and interests. 

How will you “refresh?”

Getting space away parenting to attend to your own hobbies and interests is vital not only for your identity.  Don’t feel guilty about this one!  Treat yourself to some self care.  Wether it is once a week, month or few times a year, make it a priority to have some time away from your baby/babies.  Everyone needs a break from Mom Mode. Being burnt out constantly means the entire family suffers.  Schedule a date night or a Mom’s Nite Out or just go for a run.

Think beyond newborn phase

Try to think beyond the sleepy newborn phase where you’re cuddling, napping, or walking in the stroller all day.  At some point your baby is going to start to sit up and roll.  Then comes the crawling, the walking, and the talk talk talking!  Beyond that, there’s regressions, behavior issues, power struggles and boundary pushing.  As a parent you have to roll with this no matter what, but when you’re home ALL day, every day, it’s a whole other animal!

What will you be doing all day?  

Being home all day can make you stir crazy fast.  Draw out a tentative schedule of activities.  Maybe it’s lunch with a friend or family once a week or a mommy and me class.  The eat, sleep, play cycle gets boring fast.  Look up what’s available in your community.

Budget For Activities

There are free and cheap things to do with baby besides going for walks and the playground, but there are so many cool things to do, even the less expensive activities will add up.

Consider what you experiences you might want to have with your baby and price it out with a liberal guess at how much and  how often you will go.  Will you want to do dance or art classes? How much is the indoor playground? If you live somewhere with tough winters take into account that you might want to go frequently in the winter when you’re unable to play outside.

Finances

Think beyond income vs. daycare costs.  Additional costs of working would be commute (time/gas), health insurance costs, take out food costs.  Keep the income loss amount in perspective.  Take home salary is usually about a third less than your actual salary (in the US at least).

When and how and/or if you will reenter the workforce?

I have probably edited my plan several dozen times, but even if it changes, there should be a plan.  Think about when you would go back, after the youngest is in elementary school?  Only a year?  Then, think about how to reenter the workforce.  Keep your resume updated, if possible, do volunteer or part time work in your field, and keep up with networking connections.

Mom working on laptop
Me trying to work with my ‘napping’ newborn.

After all these different factors have been thought out, which are you leaning towards?  If you are leaning even slightly towards one or the other, you know your answer.  It’s never easy, but often times the decision is simple after working it out.  What will it be for you?

Trapped in Your House? 8 Awesome Places To Go With Your Baby

I’ll admit the thought never occurred to me while still preggers that my house could become my prison.  I thought, “We’ll go on walks, mommy friends will fall from the sky, it will be tough, but I’ll figure it out,” loneliness was no where on my radar.  You don’t know what you don’t know, until you know…  And that is pretty much the everything learning curve when it comes to parenting.  Additionally, baby blues happen after the “joy” of giving birth which will not motivate you to look up all sorts of cool and fun things to do.  The catch 22.  

Now that I have a little more mommyhood under my belt and have finally started exploring, and I’ve discovered tons of ideas and activities.  Signing up or at least getting the schedules for a couple classes, meetups, or play dates prior to delivering can be helpful.  Plus, having that commitment might be the push in the tush you need to step out of the house and into the world.  Below are just a few things to get you started, but check out your community page, ask your local mom Facebook group, ask other mom friends! There are so many cool things to do with your baby, it’s just a matter of learning how to find them.

Stroller Workouts or Baby Bootcamps

This is great because you have achieved not only leaving the house but also working on your post baby bod.  Yes!  Another alternative is also finding a gym with a daycare/kidzone, but these usually do not allow babies until 6 months and are you going to wait 6 months to work on getting back in shape or just leaving the house!  Hell no!  

I found out about Baby Boot Camp when my son was about 3 months old, but you can start going as soon as you get the OK from your doctor.  Reece loved it.  Seeing all those other babies was such a kick for him.  Plus the workout was pushing me but I could still dial it back when my postpartum body wasn’t ready.  Our instructor always offered TONS of modifications for everything we did.  An alternative to Baby Boot Camp is Stroller Strides.

**Note: Running with infants under 6 months is not recommended. I either walked with the stroller or left it to the side with a mommy that was feeding there baby, there’s always one baby at any given moment that’s hungry.

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Your Local Library

Each one is different, but most, if not all, minimally have a story time, but activities can vary.  One in my area has Jumping Beans Toddler Time that is stories and singing, Mother Goose Lapsit, or just letting the little ones roam in the kid area that might have a few toys that they can explore. Another bonus, this activity is FREE!

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Photo by Robyn Budlender

Music & Movement Classes

I had heard whispers about such classes but had brushed them off.  Then when my son was around 18 months I finally tried it and really liked it.  Damn! Why did I wait so long to check this out?  These classes usually involve singing, dancing, moving about, and a few minutes of letting the kiddos explore instruments.  

Whole Foods

I know what you are thinking: Did she just say Whole Foods? Huh?  A lot of Whole Foods have little kid play areas now and offer story time and other activities so after taking a spin around the store to pick up your organic milk and cereal, stop by the kids zone for some fun while Mom sips on a smoothie. Kids also can have a free apple, orange or banana during shopping or playing.  Win/Win! (More fun on the free while spending a small fortune on one bag of food.)
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Baby Matinee

This is typically for moms of newborns.  The lights are dimmed, the sound level is baby friendly, and many other parents with crying babies is what you can expect from a baby matinee.  Even though you have a newborn baby you can still catch the most recently released movie in the perfect baby friendly environment.   Check out your local movie theaters for these weekly showings!  

Sadly AMC stopped their baby matinee program. Maybe we should start a petition, bring it back AMC!

Summer Concerts

Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, a lot of towns (at least in Mass) have weekly or monthly concerts with different bands playing in the town center or a grassy area of the town.  Children roam free, picnickers abound, and frolicking dogs.  Perfect during the summer for escaping the house, getting fresh air, and squeezing in some culture! And this activity is completely FREE.

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Indoor Playgrounds

There is this crazy world of indoor playgrounds that can become an addiction during the winter months once the baby is 6+ months.  There is a fee with this, but it’s usually minimal.  A typical visit is $10 or you can get a small discount with a 5 punch card or monthly passes, depending on how it’s set up.  If you are also in an area that gets crazy like Boston in the winter this is worth checking out.  

To give you an idea of what these indoor playgrounds are about you’ll find: table toys (trains, legos, etc.), a kitchen room/area (R’s favorite), a smaller indoor swing set, a coloring area, doll/workshop room/area, party rooms, and a small eating area.

There are so many things you can do, these are just a few to get you started.  Going for a walk just outside your own front door is very popular, or to the park.  Tried and true, but these easy options can sometimes be monotonous.  Museums are good as well, but might not be an option for all parent’s area/lifestyle.  Don’t forget to swing by the library and see if they offer discount coupons.

Let me know in the comments if I left out your favorite get out of the house baby activity!

Hospital bag: What’s a minimalist Mama to pack?

For my second pregnancy my daughter was breech so I had an ECV (commonly known as a Version procedure), which was performed in the maternity ward.  While we were waiting in the Maternity lobby, we met a laboring mother and her husband with 2 suitcases and a big duffle bag. I’m not even exaggerating.  My husband and I smiled and asked, “Is this your first?”  To which they responded, “Yes, how did you know?!”  Our first time at the rodeo we didn’t pack very much, but of the few items we did bring, about 80% of it never left the bag until we unpacked it on our return home.

There are probably thousands of articles on this topic with check lists of “must have” items to bring but ultimately all you really need is Mom, support person/people, and directions to the hospital to really get you through it.  So if you forget anything, don’t worry too much about it.  

Labor Bag:

  1. ID/Insurance card/Hospital paperwork: It’s nice to have registration papers filled out ahead of time because after having the baby you and Dad will be exhausted and will not want to deal with any paperwork.
  2. Cell phone and chargers: You will be there for a while and these days cell phones live mostly on the verge of a 20% charge, so do yourself a favor and buy an extra cord and leave it in the hospital bag.  It will probably reduce insanity when the big moment happens since you will be scrambling around for everything you “need” and of course can’t find the cord or worse yet it’s plugged in behind the nightstand and you have to try and reach behind there with a big baby bump while having contractions to unplug it!
  3. Chapstick/lip balm/Vaseline: Labor is a lot of work and made my lips extremely chapped.
  4. Hair tie: Have a few dozen thrown in the bag, they always sink to the bottom and it’s a pretty hectic time, do you really want to be fishing around for a hair tie?
  5. Camera: Honestly these days, your cell phone can double as this so keep it charged and you’ll only need 4 things!

Now that you’ve done the hard part is over with time to take a nap and for Dad to run down to the car and grab the recovery bag that you’ll be using for the rest of your stay.

Labor bag items

Recovery Bag:

  1. Travel toiletries:  The hospital will provide toothpaste and a brush but they kind of suck.
  2. Nursing bra & pads:  If your plan is to breastfeed or even not best to bring these anyway, sometimes you change your mind once you meet your baby. And please, only bring one.  I know a lot of sites tell you to bring 3 or 4…  It’s gross but for reals, you will NOT be changing or possibly even showering.  Bringing a nursing pillow while not an absolute MUST was a nice have while I was there.
  3. Baby mittens:  Those nails are dangerous! Use a pair of baby socks if you don’t have mittens.
  4. Mom & baby going home outfit: Unfortunately pack maternity clothing only, boo!
  5. A gift for your nurses:  They deserve it.  Most awesome people EVER!  Cookies, donuts, some scent free hand lotion, or veggies from your garden.  You don’t have to go over the top but a little something to say thank you is appreciated.
  6. Car seat: Duh.

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Some Nice Have’s include:

  1. Nursing nightgown: I brought one with my 2nd and all the nurses thought it was the sweetest thing.  I personally don’t mind the hospital johnny, but it was easier to nurse when I had family visit and was a little more comfortable.
  2. Nursing Pillow: Boppy, Brest Friend, Ergo’s pillow, whichever one you have, grab it! Was so glad to have it with me for my second baby.  Wish I had the 1st time I gave birth.
  3. Birthing Plan:  Please know, this is just an idea. I have yet to meet a Mom who actually delivered true to their “plan.”  So try not to get to hung up over the birthing plan, low expectations are best.  My plan was: have a baby, no skin to skin until a quick wipe down, and epidural. That was seriously my only plan and unfortunately no one cared about my plan and plopped my slimy newborn right on me while I helplessly looked at my husband whose eyes said he also didn’t want to touch our goopy little alien, I mean baby, right then either. Just have to roll with it.
  4. Snacks from home:  Hospital food, not the greatest.
  5. Your baby book:  I personally didn’t touch this until my son was 9 months old but where I failed maybe others will succeed!

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That’s my list.   These are items that we brought and actually did leave the L&D bag at some point in our hospital stay.  Think I missed anything vital? Let me know!  But, I’m pretty sure you can still have the baby even if you bring everything, plus more than my list, or nothing at all. However you do it, congrats mama! 

My Mom Funk

Ever notice one day that all the days are blending together? Like you’re stuck in the mommy version of the movie Groundhog Day?  You’re overwhelmed and have so much to do, but you’re too lazy to do anything.  Or, care about it, but don’t care to do anything about it (how is that even possible?).  Everything about what you do or accomplish is mediocre, it’s just all so bla.  It happens to me more there I would care to admit.  

The other week I realized, I was in a funk.  Sadly, not a cool disco funk, a mom funk. Living through a New England winter it seems as if it’s a given that by the time mid-March rolls around I should be checking the calendar for it. Unfortunately, it’s not just a long, cold winter that can set me down the road into a mom funk.

Life with two toddlers is endlessly pulling me in multiple directions, figurative and literally. All the activities we do, the obligations, social and work responsibilities, housework, and constant relationship work it takes to maintain a marriage, to say it’s a lot is probably an understatement.  Compacting all these reasons that make life a constant treading water situation, motherhood can oftentimes feel like a lonely journey.  

When I’m in a mom funk, the entire family starts to suffer from it.  I become short with my husband and even worse, my kids.  I interact with my phone more and my kids less. Housework starts to be put off with lame excuses and promises of ‘tomorrow’.  I’ll recycle the same outfit a few times during the week, no one really knows besides me, but still…!  Then, when everything does get checked off the list and a nice dinner is made it doesn’t feel like I did enough.  Even when I’m doing everything and more, it’s can feel like I’m still not productive or just eh.  

It doesn’t even make sense, what is enough?  

As long as my kids are loved and still alive by bedtime the job is done. Sometimes the pressure of motherhood we put upon ourselves to do it all and be it all can be oppressive though.  Not helpful to a mom funk!   

What do you do after you’ve opened your eyes to find yourself in a mom funk?  Typically, the first thing I do is let a close friend know.  Admitting I’m in over my head to a trusted friend has the feeling of exhaling a breath I didn’t know I was holding in.  I suggest talking to a close friend or your significant other, whoever it is that might lighten the weight of your shoulders.  

Acknowledging you’re in a funk is the fastest way to get out of it.  It might not be an instant release.  Sometimes it can be, but by the end of the day I’m usually beginning to give myself some slack.  Knowing that I’ve been unkind to myself by falling into a cycle of dysfunction, putting all the kid and house stuff first and myself last, I am can finally start to pull out of this funk.  I can start to put some focus back into myself.

There are so many reasons we get into funks.  What is this current one revolved around? Just like knowing which emotion we are feeling helps to get a handle on the emotion (sad, angry, overwhelmed, frustrated, etc.), figuring out the root of your funk can help you to work on ways to improve your situation and avoid another funk or worse, slip into a depression.  

So think hard about might be weighing you down more than normal.  Is it hard to push through what can be a very repetitious routine we as mothers set for our children?  Routine is much needed for them, but can feel like a rut for us.  Perhaps it’s the social pressures of trying to fit in with the moms in your area.  That’s a tough one, for sure.  Something that can also give moms a sense of mediocrity is a loss of identity, and from time to time we get sucked into the mommy vortex.  

Whatever it is, it’s time to step back, get some perspective, and try to reset.  If you can’t get out for a mom date then try to change up your routine by adding a special day with the kids by doing something that you want to do and it’s 100% for them.  Maybe that means simply taking a bath or nap during nap time and letting dishes pile up or asking dad to take over when he gets home so you can savor the bedtime routine instead of getting sucked into the rush and craziness of bedtime.  If your gym has daycare GO! Then read a book in the lobby!  Anyone asks, you’re “cooling down” after a tough cardio workout.  This may sound like an odd suggestion, but maybe watch TV with your children for a half hour, with them.  Put the phone, book, cleaning aside and cuddle up.  It can be really relaxing to stop the constant go, go go.  

Please know, all moms and dads get down on themselves from time to time.  Even if no one else In Real Life is talking about it.  Parenting is a constant exploration of learning what works, what doesn’t and making adjustments.  BUT, if these funky or blue feelings last too long (and especially if you have recently given birth) talk to your doctor.  Being in a funk is one thing, slipping into a depression is another.  If you aren’t sure, it doesn’t hurt to get checked, if not for yourself then for your family.

If anything in this post made you think “YES!” or “Exactly!” or “I totally get that!” Then I’m so glad.  Glad I’m not alone and maybe now someone else knows they aren’t alone with this weight either.