Pigtails: Bonding With My Daughter

Kat has always been a baldy baby.  I thought Reece was a bald baby, until Kat came into our lives.  By the time she turned one she had slight peach fuzz.  Her second birthday her hair started to fill out a little bit, but was only an inch at best.

 

 

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Kat, about to turn 2, and starting to grow some hair. Woohoo!

When I noticed Kat’s hair was juuuuust long enough for a ponytail I had a mini celebration in my head.  I started to try to brush her hair more often, which meant Rich holding her down while I sprayed a liberal amount of detangler and brushed.  It wasn’t pleasant.  I had moments where I considered letting my daughter’s mangy hair go unchecked into the wild, curly, messy mop it naturally wants to be.  She can just wear a hat.  Every day until college.

I should have made more of an effort with clips and headbands from the start, but being a second child these good intentions often fall to the wayside.  Her animosity over hair brushing did not provide hope.  I didn’t let that discourage me.

I, somehow, had to get her on board, maybe even excited.  I got a sparkly cat headband with ears, a small array of hair elastics, and a cute wire headband since the wrap around headbands haven’t been well received in the past.

Kat’s hair turning point happened a little bit by accident.  I put a headband on her, and she ripped it off so Reece tried to put it on.  Of course then Kat really needed the headband and begged to put it on.  A mini fight ensued.  I found a compromise with Kat wearing the headband and Reece wearing a bow clip.  She wore her hair “done up” for the rest of the night instead of the usual twenty seconds.  A break through!

 

 

Since hair brushing was not a pleasant time, I tried to turn it into something fun and exciting.  I sit Kat on the bathroom sink so she can see her self and we brush her hair together.  Once that started going smoothly I added in putting her hair in a ponytail.

The first time I put her hair in a ponytail (and almost every time after) she is so proud.  Ear to ear smiles.  Then she leans over the sink and puts her nose right on the mirror, sometimes she kisses herself.  For all the times she drives me crazy, she has some of the sweetest moments.

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The 1st day Kat wore her hair in a ponytail out of the house! Reece is so proud he held her hand the entire day.

Since then we have done ponytails, pigtails, and headbands.  Every time she is so proud.

I sometimes find it harder to connect with my second child.  It takes a lot more work to bond because big brother can take up a lot of the spot light.  We didn’t have the same focused solo time that Reece and I had his first two years.

When it’s time to do hair its a small way to have a mini bonding session every morning.  I make a big deal about putting a towel in the sink so her feet don’t get wet, I get the brushes and hair bands out, then ask Kat what she wants to do today.  She watches me as I brush her hair, sometimes moving her head a little too much in order to see.  It’s a peaceful moment of just us girls in the morning.  After a little bit of girl talk, and mother-daughter bonding over hair, and we rejoin the chaos of our morning.

What do you do to bond with your children?  Big ways or small I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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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.

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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!