Tag Archives: balance

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Join me, Mama!

I love naps! Who doesn’t, right? That’s a cheap applause line if I’ve ever written one.  It’s practically “It’s great to be here in Toledo, the best city in the world.”

But I do love ‘em. I used to doze in the passenger seat on the long drive from NY to Boston; doze on planes, doze on a lounge chair at the pool, doze at my desk.  Just kidding about that last one, former bosses.  Oh that reminds me – yesterday I was watching my 3 year old jump off the side of the pool about 40 times in a row and over his shoulder I could see this middle aged dude just snoozing the afternoon away, mouth agape. I was so jealous that I wished a wasp would fly into his mouth.  Somebody’s tired, eh?

Anywho, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, so I happen to be extremely committed to awesome, consistent, gentle nighttime parenting.  My motto has always been “be the same parent 24 hours/day”.  And that, my friends, is a tall, tall order.  I’ve failed, but I keep trying because I think it’s a worthy goal and I like a good challenge.

For the first 2 years of motherhood a key component to being awesome was napping with my son.  Luckily my guy excelled at naps.  I was often the envy of playgroup with tales of his 3 hour zonk-out sessions which gave me ample opportunity to refill my tank with some shut eye by baby’s side if only for 30 minutes. Sometimes I’d be the best wife in the world and and get some household chores done to boot.
When I got pregnant with my 2nd son I was in denial that those days were over.  I fantasized about all three of us napping simultaneously.  Psych!

I’d also forgotten about the topsy-turvy day-is-night-is-day schedule of the first 60 days or so.  With #1 I remember complaining to a childless friend “I’m stuck nursing all day.”  Man, I didn’t know how great I had it “stuck” in a comfy club chair, living on Baby Time, snoozing when he did.  Just one tiny being relying on me.

My point is this and sorry for burying the lede here: Nap with your child if you are EVER offered the chance.  Just do it, okay?  Don’t think about the reasons not to, because when it comes down to it, you probably have the time or energy to cross, like, one lame thing off the To-Dos if you don’t nap.  And if you’re honest with yourself, when you don’t nap you’ll check Facebook and Perez Hilton and eat a sleeve of Thin Mints because you’re starving from breastfeeding.  So push out of your mind the dirty dishes and the last time you shaved your legs and climb in the nest. Of all the parenting choices you have in a day, that’s one decision you won’t regret.

Rebecca is Mom to one napper and one non-napper.  To quote Bill Cosby, she enjoys sleep like a good steak and is starting to “get” her grandparents 2 twin beds which she used to find hilarious.  

The Sleep Games

My husband and I have guided our daughter to sleep for about 430 nights now (and yes, thank a calendar for that number, not my fuzzy mommy brain). Some of those 430 nights we dreaded bedtime and fought over who would initiate sleep mode. Some of those nights she fell asleep in a peaceful slumber without much effort on our part. And there were many nights that fell somewhere in the middle. Regardless of your parenting style, bedtime can sometimes equal stressful time for newbie and seasoned parents alike.

In my pre-baby months, I really didn’t give baby sleep much thought except that I didn’t want to do a nursery. We purchased an Arms Reach mini co-sleeper (best purchase ever, by the way!), bought some king-size pillow cases to use as sheets, and got an organic mattress for it as well. That’s all we needed, right? I had heard the phrase “sleep like a baby” and assumed that means babies sleep soundly. Yep, total fool.

In reality, I didn’t actually understand the logistics of infant sleep. I guess I erroneously assumed that babies enter sleep and stay asleep in a similar pattern as adults. But in fact it is so much different! Their sleep cycles are shorter (50-60 minutes), and they just don’t sleep as deeply as adults. When we try to shoehorn babies into adult sleep before they are ready, we are ignoring their biological wiring and even basic needs.

And believe me, there were many nights that my husband and I, after listening to multiple people tell us that our baby should be sleeping longer or in her own room, tried to (briefly) make it happen. We wished so ardently for that elusive “good sleeper.” But time after time we realized that we did not feel comfortable forcing her into a sleep pattern that her little brain and body couldn’t handle. It just wasn’t our parenting style.

And as I’ve talked to more and more parents, I’ve realized that what we’ve experienced is more the norm. That it is incredibly rare for babies to sleep through the night, and most likely it’s either because they’ve either been pushed to do so or the parents have been blessed with a heavy sleeper. And if you’re pregnant now, throw out any books that promise you a baby that sleeps through the night by 8 weeks because it’s not a realistic or healthy expectation.

Ultimately, parenting a baby to sleep can be stressful or it can be a beautiful, shared moment. We have two choices as parents: to focus on the negative (my baby won’t sleep through the night!) or focus on the positive (my baby and I have a special nighttime bond). I choose the latter, and I cherish the moments my daughter is sleeping peacefully in my arms or next to me. And EVENTUALLY she’ll sleep through the night, right?

What have well-meaning friends, family, and physicians told you about infant sleep? Did you follow their advice? 

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!
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Kate has perfected the twin arts of sleeping upright and taking extreme cat naps in random places. Her favorite guilty (sleep) pleasure is taking an afternoon nap with her daughter whenever she can. Read more about her and her family at Boomerang Mama.

Traveling light: Goddesses and Gods First, Part 1

photo credit: Jennifer Griffes 2012

Spring has sprung! There is nothing like opening the door to have a whiff of Spring blast you in the face. The world feels lighter. We block off weekends for spring cleaning. We crave salads over comforting mashed potatoes.

With the flowers blooming, animals scampering, and birds building nests, it awakens something within us that whispers “it’s time to get out of the house.” What better time to travel with baby on that road trip to Grandma’s house? How about cashing in on one of those Groupon Getaway deals to take the family to Niagra Falls or to tour the castles of Ireland?  Can you feel the wind whipping through your hair? Yes!

Needle off the record. Whether you are flying or driving, we have all stood in front of the massive pile of “stuff” that we are supposed to fit into a space that is physically impossible to fit into, let alone carry through a busy airport. Stress levels rise. There may be some bickering. Traveling with a child(ren) isn’t nearly as spontaneous and carefree as it was when we were all single or married without children. It can be totally overwhelming.

Traveling light is empowering! When I had my daughter, I never thought I would travel again…at least not in the way that I used to (wind through my hair as I sashay on the plane with a small carry-on bag after scoring a cheap flight the night before). But we do!

Join me in this several part series exploring travel and adventure with your infant or toddler.  With a bit of adjustment, we can reduce emotional and physical baggage to have you all traveling like Other Baby Book Goddesses and Gods in no time.

Emotional Baggage: Stress level down, joy level up.

We begin with you. Yes, you, travel God(dess).  Hopefully, you have all read Kate’s post “The New Myth of the Stay-at-Home Mom.”  If not, please wander here when you have a chance. The long and short of it all is that sometimes you must put yourself first. Dirty dishes, laundry, and packing for your child be damned.  If you are planning a family adventure (and I mean adventure in the loosest of terms…even a trip to Grandma’s house counts), this is a great time to follow such sound advice and take some time for yourself to strategize.

You are your child’s rock, base, and who he looks to as a first indicator of whether or not a situation is fun and comfortable. Whether your child is 3 weeks or 30 years old, he will always know when you are stressed. Traveling can cause a lot of emotional stress! Just a little bit of careful planning can reduce travel stress, and your family will love you for it. Through my travels with our daughter, I have discovered that four things can make or break my emotional traveling state. If you do nothing else for your next trip, please try these tips.

Tip 1: Bring your own blankie.

You take so much care in making sure that your child has their favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or lovey. While traveling, you should do the same for yourself! We are not just talking about blankets here. We are talking about something portable that can give you extra enjoyment when you need it most. We all identify certain items that bring us into our comfort zone, be it an awesome book you are reading, a favorite raw food snack bar that you tuck into your carry-on bag, meditation beads, or your favorite music. It can be anything just as long as you know that during a stressful time you can whip that puppy out and feel your joy level shoot up to the sky. I love packing special “momma only” snacks that I don’t get to have that often. It is instant pleasure.

Tip 2: Make sure you have designated God(dess) space.

If you are staying at a hotel during your travels, try to book at a place that you can get a suite or a room with an outside space (balcony or patio). This will alleviate any “feeling trapped by sleeping baby” feelings. My husband and I discovered this on a recent trip to California when we were upgraded to a room with a balcony. Completely fabulous!  Don’t forget the baby monitor!

Tip 3: Have a special place for special documents.

Up your efficiency and lower stress by having everything you need (especially at the airport) when you need it. This includes birth certificates, confirmation numbers, driver licenses, etc. You will never have to frantically dig through bags while keeping an eye on the little one (or endure the deep thigh squat if you are wearing him), hold up lines, or waste time you could be spending gliding through security and getting a bite to eat instead.  We have a dedicated gallon-sized Ziplock bag for this purpose when flying (and then we separate important documents after check-in).

Tip 4: Set aside special time to pack for yourself.

Just do it! The first time we flew with our daughter I had everything ready to go…everything except anything packed for me. The clock blinked 2am. We had a cab coming at 6am to take us to the airport. I wept.  Now, I pack myself before I pack our daughter. A God(dess) who feels organized (and  has the right pair of shoes and, ahem, remembers underwear) is a happy God(dess). You can make this happen in any number of ways…during naptime, in the evening after bedtime, having your partner take the kid(s) for a bit, or hire a babysitter for a few hours. Just make sure that it happens!

Join us in two weeks for the second installation of our Traveling Light series, Gods and Goddesses First, Part 2: Physical Baggage. Once you ditch the “stuff,” traveling is a breeze! Let’s use Spring as an inspiration and lighten our traveling loads! Happy travels!

Stephanie’s greatest packing achievement was for a 2.5 month journey to Kenya and Tanzania which included a geological field season, summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, a safari in the Masai Mara, and a snorkeling excursion in the Indian Ocean. She fit everything into a single backpack. She never wore any of those clothes ever again.

 

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!

Post-partum Weight Loss Challenge: One Mama’s Journey

Hi, Mamas!

My name is Rachel T. I’m a Registered Dietitian who specializes in healthy lifestyle modifications for children and families. I am also the proud mother of a beautiful 4 month old baby girl, Olivia.  During my pregnancy I gained 35 pounds and I still have 10 pounds left to go before I reach a weight that I’m comfortable with.

This is the first time in my life that I have been really concerned about my weight. I am also hungrier than I have ever been before, thanks to exclusive breastfeeding (well, exclusive pumping).  Thankfully making milk burns tons of calories (about 500 a day), so I attribute most of my weight loss to breastfeeding–yet another reason to love nursing my babe!

On June 8th I am heading to Miami for good friend’s bachelorette party, so that’s good motivation to drop those last ten pounds! So for the next six weeks I will be kicking my butt in gear and sharing my weight loss journey with all of you.

My philosophy on nutrition:

– Moderation, moderation, moderation

– Don’t skip meals ever

– Don’t drink your calories–stick to water

– Skip diet foods and drinks, which contain loads of chemicals–especially toxic for nursing mamas like me

– Eat a varied diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, and healthy dairy

– Treating yourself is okay (as long as you remember it’s a treat)

Okay so all that being said, since Oliva’s birth I have broken two of my cardinal rules! I have been skipping breakfast almost every day and I have been drinking way too much juice (…and I hate to admit it…soda).  So these are going to be the two major areas I work on.

I also plan on cutting down on my portion sizes and increasing my fruit intake (I’m pretty good with veggies!).

Week One

Initial Weight: 130                 Final Weight: 128

Week 1 triumphs

– I tried coconut milk yogurt for the first time. Not sure if I love it yet, but it was pretty good.

– I only drank water and seltzer (and of course decaf coffee, with skim milk and sugar)

– I ate breakfast every day

– I lost 2 pounds, yay! ( a healthy weight loss is about 2 pounds a week)

Week 1 issues

–  I ate more prepared foods than I want, like Kashi or Amy’s frozen meals for lunches. I need to work on this.

– I ate half a cupcake yesterday. Eek! That was definitely a treat.

– Today I was really craving French fries and came so close to getting them…but I ate wheat thins with hummus instead. While it’s a good compromise, I probably ate too many crackers!

Here are some pictures of my meals from this week and a picture of Olivia eating her favorite doll!

For new mamas, what have been your challenges when it comes to returning to pre-pregnancy weight? What questions do you have about making healthier choices?

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!

Wordless Wednesday: Reflection

Sometimes it just takes some time by the water to reflect and relax- whatever our age.

As the mom of two young kiddos, Jennifer is often searching for time to reflect-  and the ocean always provides it.  Yes, because of the calming effects of the water, but mostly because it is a limitless open space for said children.