Sleep training after co-sleeping

IMG_4610For the purposes of this article, there are two types of parents.

The first type, they were blessed with babies who slept through the night at 3 or 6 months. We are very happy for this group.

Then there is the other group. The rest of us. The moms and dads out here with 1 and 2-year-old babies who still wake up throughout the night. The parents of colic babies.

This article is for us, the “other group,” the tired masses of zombie parents.

IMG_3814Sleep training is a hotly debated topic amongst parents and pediatricians alike. My own pediatrician recommends the Ferber method, which involves laying baby down to bed and checking on the baby at regular intervals, but not picking baby up.

As a co-sleeping advocate, I do not subscribe to the Ferber, or Cry-it-out methods, or any method that forbids me from comforting baby or that has me making drastic changes to our normal bedtime routine.

I have handled both of my children differently. What worked for my son has not worked for my daughter, and why would it? I believe that each child is different, with unique personalities. It is up to us as parents to figure out what works best for our individual children.

For my son, I used a version of the Fading Out method. I started when he was 18 months old. Step one was laying down with him in his toddler bed. I did this for maybe a week. Then, I would sit on the floor right next to his bed until he fell asleep. This meant rubbing his back and putting him back in his bed over and over again for another week or so.

When he could fall asleep without me laying with him, just touching his back, I started to just sit with him near his bed and not touch him. After a week or so of success, I started lying him down and standing by the door. That progressed to laying him down and then leaving the room.77EB8A85-D62A-4ADF-9A07-A6E0EB9C1B09

It took at least 5 months to get to that point and sometimes I would still have to put him back in his bed multiple times a night.

With my daughter, I am starting the process a lot earlier. We got her a co-sleeper bed at 10 months old. She is right next to our bed with just a small bumper between us. It is high enough that she cannot roll onto our bed, but low enough that she can easily crawl over it.

I started out transferring her to the co-sleeper after she was asleep. She would wake up in the co-sleeper and crawl back to me. I would nurse her and when she fell back to sleep, I would put her back in the co-sleeper.

After a few weeks, she would allow me to put her in the co-sleeper before she was fully asleep as long as I was touching her. It took my daughter only about a month before she started to prefer to sleep in the co-sleeper bed. Now, after she nurses, she crawls back to into her own bed.

Once she is no longer nursing through the night, I will move her to a regular crib away from my bed. Then, eventually, to her own room.

The key to any method is patience and consistency. Some kids take longer than others, and some nights will be harder than others. Just keep at it and remember that it is a short time in a big life.

Reducing Waste with a Family

My husband and I have always been a bit hippie-ish. We like to live sustainably where we can, eat healthy, and be active.

Lately, I have been introduced to the idea of zero waste living. Now, I have no illusions about myself or my family, so I know that we cannot, or will not, succeed in zero waste. However, we can make a drastic reduction in our waste by making just a few small changes.

I have decided to share with you, our journey to reduce our waste, and do our part to keep this planet beautiful

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 11.47.22 AMThe first and easiest change that we made, was to switch to reusable grocery bags. There are so many more options today. You don’t have to carry ugly brown canvas bags; you can even use your bags to separate your items while you shop.

A new change we are planning to make is to ditch bottled shampoo and conditioner for bar shampoo and conditioner. Most of what we are buying in those big bottles is water. The bar eliminates the water and the extra plastic packaging, while taking up a lot less room in the shower.

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 11.49.06 AMComposting is something that we have been inconsistent with. My hope is that, by adding an indoor bucket for collecting organic waste, we can get better at composting our food waste.

Going hand and hand with composting, are reusable K-Cup with paper filters. You can use your favorite ground coffee in a single cup maker and dump the tiny filter full of ground directly into your compost bucket.

My children and I both love those little fruit cups, but they are trash makers. Like the K-cup, every single use cup puts another plastic container in the trash. I was pretty excited to discover these little glass jars. I can either cut my own fruit or buy bulk fruit salad and use the refillable glass jars instead of the disposable plastic containers.

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 11.48.17 AMHomemade toothpaste is something that I have been passionate about for years, not because of the plastic tubes, but because I didn’t like the idea of brushing my teeth with something that is harmful if swallowed. Getting my family on board has been a bit harder, but then I found these adorable refillable tubes. Now, the toothpaste looks more like what they are used to, while eliminating the plastic trash of the store-bought toothpaste.

The last change on my list for this segment, is to replace my plastic left-over containers with plastic free glass containers. The lifespan of glass containers is so much longer than the flimsy plastic ones. They clean up nicer, and they can be recycled if you do need to replace them.

A Mom’s Guide to Looking Good Quick

Before After.jpg

When you have a baby, you rarely have time to pamper yourself. So, what can you do to erase months, or years, of neglect when you have a big day coming up.

I was faced with this issue when, 4 months after giving birth, I was getting married.

I am by no means a beauty consultant, or even an avid makeup user, but here are the tricks I used to lose weight and trick my skin into looking like I take care of it.

2 months prior to the date:

I went on a strict Paleo diet. This allowed me to still eat enough to keep up my milk supply while also losing weight rapidly.

Basically, the Paleo diet is meat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. To lost weight, you should focus on lean meat and vegetables. Fruit is high in natural sugar and nuts are high in fat. Strict Paleo diet rules required grass fed beef, but that is just too expensive for a family of six, so I ate a lot of chicken and fish.

Also, increase your water intake if you can. Water helps the skin as well as the waist line.

2 weeks prior to the date:

Pick up some new make-up and practice applying it at least two or three times. Also, pick out your outfit ahead of time and whatever jewelry you are going to wear.

There is nothing worse than running around the day of because you can only find one earing, or your shoes no longer fit, or you need to get control top pantyhose. Give yourself time to order new items online or to get out to the store if you need to.

GlamGlow1 week prior to the date:

Time to trick your skin into looking flawless. I used Glam Glow Supermud and a one of those charcoal black peel-off masks every day on alternating days until the morning before the big day.

My skin was so smooth, and my pores were so tight, that my makeup applied flawlessly.

Brutally Honest Review: Menstruation Cup

Warning, this is a brutally honest review of a menstruation cup. Content may not be suitable for those uncomfortable with their body and its functions.

I am a woman who has a heavy period. For at least the first two days of my cycle, I go through a super tampon every 45 minutes. I have never cared for pads, for I just deal with the frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the day.

Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 4.27.51 PM
At night, I use three super tampons at once, then get up in the middle of the night to change them. Sometimes I have to do this twice a night…that is nine super tampons just to get through the night.

Needless to say, this is uncomfortable. I experience crapping due to the tampons and I frequently bleed through my pants. Not to mention, I have a bathroom trash can full of bloody tampons, which comes with its own issues.

Every cycle I go through 40 plus super tampons.

After 25 years of menstruating, I started looking for a new solution. I Googled “tampon alternative,” and that is how I learned about menstrual cups. I asked around and found that only one of the women I know uses a menstrual cup.

Based on her recommendation, I decided to bite the bullet and try it out for myself. I went to Amazon and bought the Dutchess Cup. I got the size A, which is the bigger cup, suitable for women who have had children or are over 25. I am both.

Day one, I opened the box and read the very simple instructions. Mostly, I looked at the picture of how to fold the cup to make it small enough for insertion.

The material is silicone based, so it is very flexible, but still strong. The cup itself fits in the palm of my hand. You insert it just enough to hide the whole thing, pull nubby and all, maybe 2.5 inches.

I was able to insert it on the first try. I was worried that it didn’t unfold all the way, so I wiggled it a little from the pull nubby. Then, off to my son’s soccer game…of which I am a coach, so no bathroom breaks for me.

Ladies! Let me tell you, I forgot that I had my period. I was so comfortable and had zero feelings of impending leakage. I came home from soccer and was still fine. That first cup lasted almost five hours. I could feel a slight difference and so I decided that I might be full, sure enough I was.

Now, taking the cup out for the first time was a bit harder than putting it in. The cup had a pretty tight suction going on, so I had to pull harder than I had anticipated, which made me a little nervous, but once it started to move a little, I yanked it right out.

Unfortunately, that first yank was not the best idea. When the cup popped out, it sprayed blood everywhere. If I am ever murdered, my husband is definitely going to jail, because that bathroom had tiny blood splatters everywhere.

My second attempt at taking the cup out went much better. My suggestion for a clean removal is to pull the nubby until the cup is about half way out, then grab the cup and pull it the rest of the way out slowly.

I dumped the cup out into the toilet and rinsed it in the sink with hot water. Put it back in place and washed my hands. The more I did it over the course of my cycle, the better I got at it.

On my heaviest flow day, overnight I had to empty in the middle of the night once. That next morning, I did experience a very small leak, but it was because my baby daughter prevented me from getting to the bathroom. I could feel the sensation of being too full and needing to empty, but I couldn’t get away in time. That being said, the leak was a teaspoon or so, not the half cup I am used to.

After using the Dutchess Cup, I will never go back to tampons again.

American Working Mothers are the Most Stressed

According to a recent study, American working mothers are more stressed out than their European counterparts.
Sociologist Caitlyn Collins reveals in her new book, “Making Motherhood Work,” that American mothers experience higher stress levels and feelings of guilt than working mothers in Germany, Sweden and Italy.

In an interview with Psychology Today, Collins says, “I want American moms to stop blaming themselves. I want American mothers to stop thinking that somehow their conflict is their own fault, and that if they tried a little harder, got a new schedule, woke up a little earlier every morning, using the right planner or the right app, that they could somehow figure out the key to managing their stress. That’s just not the case.”
Alleviating the stress on American working mothers is easier said than done. Working mothers often feel like they have to work twice as hard at the office just to prove that they are still dedicated to their jobs.
Science Magazine reports that working mothers often feel this way because they face, what the magazine calls, the “maternal wall bias.” Described as a type of discrimination that working mothers face from co-workers and management. It is a perceived lack of dedication because the mother is, or should be, focused more on their children than on their careers.
On top of the stress of having to prove their dedication to their careers, working mothers also face the societal pressures to be active in their children’s school programs and sporting associations, maintain the household chores, and engage in social activities.
Just writing this article and taking the time to critically think about all of the directions that I am being pulled in as a working mother, was enough to get my anxiety flowing.
Katrina Alcorn, author of “Maxed Out: American Moms on theBrink,” said, “We’re expected to do our jobs as if we don’t have children and then raise our children as if we don’t have jobs.”

So, what is the answer? How do we dial back the pressure on working moms?
In her book, Collins sites the American mother’s lack of external support as a major factor in her increased stress. Working mothers in other developed countries, like Germany, Sweden, and Italy, expect to be supported by both their employers and husbands in order to maintain a healthy work / life balance.
Meanwhile, in the United States, stay at home fathers are routinely mocked for doing “women’s work.” There is no such thing as paternity leave and zero federal regulations for maternity leave.
Men are expected to use vacation days to attend the birth of their children and women are expected to return to work as soon as they are medically cleared. In some cases, as soon as 3-weeks after giving birth.
Changing these ideals won’t be easy, and it will take time. Fathers will need to be more vocal about accepting a larger share of household duties. Working mothers, and fathers alike, will need to demand more from their employers or seek new employment with more family focused companies.
Eventually, companies who want top-notch employees will have to change with the tide and begin offering working parents more flexible options for a better quality of life.

Forgive yourself the way you would anyone else

Women: We are too hard on ourselves, and I can prove it.

Image your partner is trying to lose weight. They are struggling with their diet, and they can’t always get their workouts in. What do you think? Are they a failure?
 

That time I forgot to
bring a baby blanket

No, you would never think that way about your partner just because they are struggling to find time for themselves when the family needs their attention more.

Now, imagine yourself in the same scenario. I bet you have a totally different view.

Next, imagine that your partner packs the diaper bag and forgets the baby’s favorite sippy cup. How do you handle it? Do you tell them they are the worst? No, of course not. You tell them it is OK, it is just a cup, it is not a big deal.

Now imagine you forgot it…different story?

I know that I, for one, hold myself to a completely different standard than I do anyone else. I am constantly beating myself up over not meeting or exceeding my personal goals. I agonize over forgotten toys and under packed diaper bags.

We need to learn to forgive ourselves with the same ease that we forgive others. I am not saying that we need to make excuses for ourselves, or that we shouldn’t set goals and work hard to reach them. I am saying that we need to remember that we are human too.

Moms are not perfect, and that is OK.

It is OK to mess up, it is OK to forget sometimes. We should talk to ourselves the same way we would talk to a loved one. Let’s work to change our internal dialogue to mirror the same love and respect that we show others.

A CBD Themed Baby Shower for Kim K

I don’t usually follow pop culture icons, like Kim K…BUT, this caught my attention because it is something I am actively researching.

 

I believe in the CBD movement. In my heart, I am hoping that CBD is the holistic answer to anxiety and depression issues in both children and adults.

 

The pop culture princess herself has jumped onto the CBD bandwagon, and is planning a CBD inspired baby shower for her 4th child, according to an USA Today article. She claims that the couple just want a Zen party to help her relax before the baby’s arrival.

 

Now, it should be noted that Kim and Kanye’s baby is being carried by a surrogate, so Kim is not actually pregnant.

 

CBD oil has been highly touted by its supporters as a basic cure-all. While I do not believe that CBD is the cure for cancer, I do believe that CBD can help reduce anxiety and pain in patients, which leads to a better quality of life and more effective treatments.

 

There is strong scientific evidence that CBD can reduce seizures in children with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). Both of which, according to an article on the Harvard Health Blog, typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications.

 

The concerning part about CBD is the lack of production and quality regulation. WebMD cautions potential CBD users that in “a 2017 study led by Bonn-Miller found that nearly 7 of 10 CBD products didn’t contain the amount of marijuana extract promised on the label.”

 

If you are planning to try CBD oil as a treatment for pain, anxiety, or sleeplessness, it is important to research the brand that you plan to use. Look for real reviews. Reach out to the company’s customer service and ask them questions about their quality control process. Look for an ingredients list to be sure there aren’t hidden hazards in the product.

 

Treat CBD oil like you would any other medication or health product. Make sure you are getting what you are paying for and not getting anything you don’t expect.

Stop judging moms with messy houses, and mind your business

Recently, I read an article on Scary Mommy about living in a messy house. I, like many mothers, struggle to keep my house from tipping the scales from “lived in” to the next episode of hoarders.

The article was “My House Is A Damn Mess — And I’m TotallyOK With That,” written by Megan Lieb. But the article’s content is not what I want to talk about. Instead, I would like to talk about the scathing comments under the article’s Facebook post.

Woman after woman wrote how the home in the picture was disgusting and unacceptable. Who are you to decide what is acceptable? The picture was of a home with grocery bags on the counter and children’s shoes and back packs strewn around.

The photos that we are seeing are a singular snapshot of another person’s home.

We don’t know what the circumstances are. We don’t know what the rest of the house looks like. We don’t know that person’s life. Who are we to say what their house should look like?

Every single time that I have the choice between playing with my children or cleaning, I will choose my children. If that means that the dishes wait in the sink, or that toys are all over my living room, then so be it.

Do you think that my children are going to grow up a think, “gee whiz, I wish mom had spent more time cleaning the house?”

I’m pretty sure that my children are going to grow up and remember the times we were playing in the back yard, or walking to the playground, or roasting marshmallows.

My home is safe, and my children are clean and cared for. The fact that my house is “messy” has nothing to do with my ability to be a good mother, and frankly, it is none of your concern.

Mommy Life Hacks

Over the years, we all develop our own little tricks to make mom life easier. Here is a list of some of

my favorite mom hacks…

Use the rounded edge.

Use a blackhead extractor as a baby boogie hook.

I know it sounds weird, but trust me, this is the easiest way I have found to safely pluck those hard
boogies from my baby’s nose without hurting her. In the past, I would use my pinky nail, but often times I would end up hurting her tiny baby nostrils.

Port-a-Potty for anytime you are away from home.

Potty training is hard. Kids can’t always warn you that they have to go, and they definitely can’t hold it until the next rest stop. A small training potty lined with a grocery bag or puppy pad can save your seats on long car rides. You can take the potty with you to older sibling’s sporting events, play dates in the park, or anywhere that has limited potty access.


Mesh laundry bags for small baby clothes.

Baby socks, tiny t-shirts, miniature shorts, and all the cutest little clothes you can find for your special little angel make doing laundry a nightmare. I have a drawer full of unmatched baby sock, who’s mate will never be seen again. If you wash your baby’s clothes in with other children’s clothing or even your own, put the baby clothes in a mesh laundry bag and toss the whole thing in the washer and dryer.

For a bonus hack, use a different mesh bag for each kid’s clothing and making separating the laundry easy peasy.

Buy a tub of diaper cream and use a wipe to apply it.

I actually can’t claim this hack as my own, my neighbor taught me this one. The tubs of diaper cream are much cheaper and last much longer than the tubes, but you have to scoop it out with your finger. We all know that diaper cream under the fingernail is a lost cause, it is there forever. The hack here is to use a wipe to cover your finger, dip it in the cream, apply to baby, and toss the wipe. No more diaper cream manicures.

Screen Shot 2019-04-19 at 6.16.30 PMUse a small box as a breast milk bag freezer organizer.

Breast milk bags can pile up in the freezer in short order. If you are like me, you end up shoving the bags anywhere they will fit and then dodging the falling frozen bags every time you open the freezer. That is, until I had the brilliant idea to cut the top off of a long soda can box and use it to store my bags in one spot.

 

Yes, my baby uses a pacifier. No, I’m not worried about it.

Pacifier use is a hot button issue amongst new parents. Everyone seems to have an opinion about whether or not soothers are appropriate for baby.

 

I for one, believe that parenting is hard enough without depriving my baby of something that comforts her. Not to mention, helps calm her when she is fussy.

 

According to the Mayo Clinic, “a pacifier might help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).” Research has been unable to pin point exactly why, but SIDS deaths are reduced in babies who use soothers during sleep.

 

Pacifiers do have downsides, like creating a dependency or early breastfeed weaning, but in my opinion, these are easily remedied issues.

 

Many mothers believe that pacifiers are bad for a baby’s teeth. While this is true for older babies, it isn’t a concern for infants. Dentists recommend ending use of a pacifier before the age of 3 to avoid dental issues.

 

I have always been a believer that pacifiers help to curb thumb sucking. I have found it easy to break my children of the pacifier by simply eliminating their access to the pacifier. I would not have that option with their thumbs.

 

If you find that a pacifier isn’t right for you, that is great. I am happy for you and your baby.

 

However, I find that it is right for us. So please, keep your anti-pacifier speech to yourself. Moms and Dads are under enough pressure to be perfect parents, we don’t need to worry about pacifiers too.