Love it! What will you all be doing on the #firstdayback?!
What makes mama happy makes everyone happy – that’s the truth! And that means having friends.
But having a group of local moms to turn to when things get tough isn’t just good for mom. It’s good for her kids, too, and not just because it means there’s always someone to hang out with. Seeing moms interact with their friends early on is a great way for kids to learn how to be good friends. Here’s what seeing mom friends living life together can teach little ones:
You don’t have to share every opinion to be friends: There are so many parenting decisions to make that it’s unlikely you’ll be on the same page with every single one of your besties. I mean, how likely is it that you’ll find local moms who share your ideas about breastfeeding, vaccination, organic vs. conventional, daycare, and what kinds of shoes new walkers ought to be wearing?
But you do have to share: Someone forgot a sun hat. Someone else forgot a snack. Do you have a wipe I could use? Help, I need a little black dress for an event at my partner’s work! A mom friend will understand how you could walk out of the house without a single diaper for your three-month-old or a single change of undies for your three-year-old.
You get by with a little (or a lotta) help from your friends: Sure, it’s possible to walk through the world alone and make it but life is a lot more fun and a lot less stressful with folks who’ve got your back. I’m not saying everyone in your address book has to be a mother but local mom friends are a great asset to have when you’re on the verge of freaking out because your kids are nuts and there is still a month of summer left to go.
And speaking of help it’s okay to ask for it: Motherhood isn’t as easy as it looks from the outside which is why you need to build your tribe of mom friends so there’s a shared inside. The same goes for kids – childhood isn’t as easy as it looks from the outside, either. Having good friends makes the slings and arrows easier to bear.
Friends deserve to be appreciated: Moms are great at making their friends feel appreciated because we share everything. A little one just outgrew size 3 diapers and there’s a whole Costco box? Another local mom can definitely use them. Wine night? Is a great way to show your friends you care. Sometimes it’s one mom bringing the muffins and sometimes it’s another but we all do a little for each other and get a lot in return.
How about the story of the cat who stole the baby’s breath. Heard it? You know, the super scary one that every parent with a cat will eventually hear from someone? It’s totally true, we swear. Okay, not really, but as someone who doesn’t own a cat I know that the idea that a cat in the crib could hurt the baby is one that made me go cross-eyed when the idea of ever adopting a kitten came up. If I had a cat? I know I’d be pretty anxious about it ever going into the baby’s room – or any room the baby was already in!
Ever wonder what your cat does when he/she sneaks away for an adventure? One family decided they really wanted to know what kitty was up to when she went prowling around the nursery so they set up a cam.
Surprisingly – or maybe not so surprisingly – the cat did get into the baby’s crib. She didn’t steal the baby’s breath or even try to cuddle too close for comfort. What she did do probably says a lot more about the mammalian mothering instinct than anything else:
Is that what you expected? Do you love it? Hate it? Are you like totes grossed out?
We’d love to hear from other moms out there with cats. Did you ever feel anxious about having a cat in the same house as your baby or child? Please give us non-cat-owning mamas the 411! I’m allergic so ultimately that kitten had to go home with someone else, but I still love watching these sneaky pets from afar and hearing good stories and viewing hilarious videos from all of you cat owners. Let’s see yours!
I’ve been a SAHM since my daughter was born, two and a half years ago. Being able to stay at home and watch her every development, her every step, her every movement has been a blessing that not every mom gets to enjoy. But to be completely honest, I get a little sick of watching her EVERY MOVEMENT. I’m still more than a mother, right?
1. When your little one was first born, I’m sure that people said, “If you need anything, let me know,” right? Well, those are usually good people and most are willing to watch your kiddo at any age while you get a couple hours of alone time.
2. As she starts sleeping better, make time for yourself. I get up an hour and a half earlier than my toddler so I can play online or catch up on an episode of my fave TV show.
3. Unless you still sleep when he sleeps, take advantage of naps! Don’t just do chores or pay bills; one nap a day should be for you to draw or crochet or whatever you do.
4. If you’re married, don’t neglect your other half! They are in this with you and typically have no idea what they’re doing either. Be each other’s support, and allow a date night every once in a while.
5. Hook up with other local moms…and talk about more than just the kids! Sure, you can swap tips and tricks, but talk about adult stuff too.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter more than life itself. Some may disagree with me but this is my motto: Being a mom is my number one priority, but I’m more than just a mom; I’m a woman/wife/daughter/sister/friend that has my own needs – and you do, too.
Remembering everyone’s schedule is different: Back when we all had babes in arms between maternity leave and high-earning husbands we were all SAHMs, but eventually some moms have to work, some moms want to work, and some moms just plain have other stuff going on. Just because a mom goes back to work or gets super involved in the PTA or has a high-needs or medically fragile child doesn’t mean she no longer wants to hang. Translation: Don’t schedule everything on a weekday morning.
Being the babysitter: Once in a while, that is. Commit to actually exchanging sits instead of just offering them. If everyone is getting a little child-free time, whether it’s to run errands during the week or for an evening out, whole families are happier. If you want to make it official, websites like https://www.babysitterexchange.com can get you started forming a babysitting co-op for local moms.
Planning outings and events in advance: Surprise parties are fun for everyone except moms who are notoriously busy and scheduled down to the minute. While not everything can be scheduled in advance most things can be and should be if you want to make sure the SAHMs, working moms, volunteering moms, and otherwise heavily scheduled moms can all make it.
Starting a monthly wine night: One of my mom friends did this and I will be forever grateful to her for suggesting it and then hosting the first ever one. Getting together with the kids is fun, of course, but after you’re interrupted five times while trying to listen to a single sentence it’s pretty clear why the mommies’ night out concept was invented. Don’t drink wine? Make it a monthly hockey/art/movie/etc. night.
Using technology: You say you don’t email? Start emailing. You don’t use Facebook? If every local mom you love is on Facebook, suck it up and create an account. The technology you’ve been avoiding could just help you keep in touch.
Listening without judging: Make your mom tribe a drama-free zone. Seriously. Everyone in your circle of friends should be able to open up without worrying that her tale of woe is going to become the next coffee klatch discussion topic. Gossip is fun but leave it behind at the supermarket magazine rack. Angelina Jolie doesn’t care what you think of her; your mom friends do. Make sure they know they can come to you with any problem and you’ll keep it on the DL.
Now mamas, you tell me: what do you wish your local mom friends would do for you? What do you wish you were doing more of for them?
Have you read this? In case you haven’t, here’s a summary. This guy blamed his SAHM wife for their messy house. He’d look at that house and think “You have one job! One job! To take care of the home.”
Finally, his wife said, “Sometimes it comes down between cleaning the house, and taking Tristan and Norah to the park. Or spending time having fun with them, or teaching them to read or write. Sometimes I can either do the dishes, or teach our son how to ride a bike, or our daughter how to walk.”
Even quicker summary: Man realizes wife is also human who must also prioritize her day.
Thankfully, he got the picture and eased up.
Now I’m glad that this mom’s husband finally realized she wasn’t just a slatternly layabout. I’m glad that his realization prompted him to start helping around the house, even if he ought to have been helping around the house from the start. I’m glad that he sees that there are some things that are more important than whether or not there are crumbs on the floor when he steps through the door at the end of the day.
But I can’t say I like the way he framed his post.
My dad had seven kids and he kept his house neat and tidy without sacrificing family time. He taught me that keeping on top of stuff is the key. Wipe down the counters while you cook. Put things away when you’re done using them. At the end of the day, do a walk-through of the house and pick up the toys and art supplies. Sweep up. Don’t let the bathrooms get too icky. Empty the sink every day.
These are not tasks that take hours and hours. Will there be crazy days where a quick wipe of the counters won’t be enough to undo the chaos at the end of the night? Of course. But most days the time it will take you to clear away the breakfast dishes will use up roughly five minutes (or less) of what could have been family time.
Me? I am happy to sacrifice those very few minutes that allow me to really enjoy my kids because it means I am not looking at crusty dishes while we’re painting or having a dance party or baking something for our afternoon snack. I am not choosing between cleaning the house and taking my kids to the park because going to the park might be an hour-long excursion or even longer and cleaning the house takes minutes. Especially if you enlist the little ones’ help.
Nobody chooses between doing the dishes and teaching a kid to ride a bike or between clearing the table and potty training. They’re things that take place in entirely different spheres of an average day. It’s not either/or.
Please don’t take that the wrong way. If you don’t mind a little clutter or sticky counters or stuff on the stairs (and you should see MY stairs, omg), that is totally okay. There’s nothing inherently bad about letting things go, as the state of my month-old chipped nail polish proves. But whether you couldn’t care less about polishing the floors or polishing your nails you should own it. Don’t use spending time with your kids as a justification because you feel like you’re being judged.
Or as was the case with the original poster’s wife, you ARE being judged and badly, too.
Cleaning and tidying up is not a monumental task. All of us local moms are all spending time with our kids. To imply that a messy house means you’re a more involved parent is just plain ridiculous. Being an involved parent is what makes you a good mom or dad, regardless of the state of your house.
I’m sure most of us moms have heard of the term “baby blues”. But what exactly is it? And how serious can it get? I am here to address this very thing and give some tips on how to effectively get through this difficult emotional time.
First, we need to identify the difference between “baby blues” and postpartum depression. “Baby blues” are defined as a normal drop in hormone levels that cause moodiness, forgetfulness, stress, and an overall weary feeling. Typically, the “baby blues” last only a few weeks and affect 50-80% of new moms. With postpartum depression, you experience similar side effects. However, these side effects are much more intense and last much longer; ranging from a few months to a year or longer. Those who suffer from postpartum depression (also known as PPD) typically experience extreme sadness, anger, confusion, hopelessness, and have a hard time bonding with their baby.
If you are feeling these symptoms for longer than a few months, you may have a serious problem and I encourage you to keep reading! According to Shoshana Bennett, PH.D, “25% of mothers untreated for PPD remain depressed after 1 year.” (cited from psychologytoday.com). That is exactly what happened to me. After having my first son, I was unaware of how emotionally unstable I had become. My PPD symptoms lasted approximately 3 years. It was a difficult journey to navigate through. But I was finally able to discover ways to break free from it. Below, I have created a list of (non-medicated) ways to help maneuver yourself back to a steady emotional state. (I understand there are extreme cases where medication is necessary. However, that will not be included as one of my suggestions).
1. Addressing the Loneliness
The number one complaint I hear from new stay-at-home-moms is how they suddenly feel so alone. And to make matters worse, your spouse (or significant other) most likely doesn’t understand how you feel. My husband used to ask me all the time, “How can you feel so alone when you’re with the baby all day?” Well, that’s just it!…you are with a baby all day. A baby who has not yet learned to communicate in an intelligent way. You are constantly guessing what he needs…ALL BY YOURSELF. So if you are also suffering from “baby blues” or PPD, this feeling of loneliness would be intensified and overwhelming. My number one suggestion for helping you get through this, is reaching out to other moms with children of similar ages. If you are a shy person, like myself, this is a lot easier said than done. But at the end of the day, us women have an undeniable need to have a social connection with others. I would certainly recommend mommeetmom.com as a starting point in achieving that social connection. Also, there are usually churches that have local mom groups that meet once a week. Those would be the two best places I suggest you start.
2. Allow for Flexibility
The type of flexibility I am referring to is your baby’s own crazy schedule. Never assume the sleeping or feeding pattern that your baby is following will continue for very long. Always be prepared for her to change it up! If you truly take this advice to heart, you will have an easier time adjusting and adjusting again! It will be less of a shock to your already fragile emotional state. You need to be aware ahead of time that changes will keep coming. Also, don’t ever try comparing your baby’s development with another child. Because in all reality, there are no true “rules” as to when your baby “should” be able to do certain things. If your baby’s lack of advancement is truly giving you anxiety, first RELAX! There are plenty of resources available to help you guide her growth. Most importantly, you need to learn to go with her flow, and she will get there too!
3. Don’t Isolate Yourself from Your Spouse
As someone who suffered from PPD, isolating yourself can turn into a strangely comfortable thing. Even to the point of isolating yourself from your spouse. However, communicating your frustrations to him is actually good for the both of you. But if you’re living within a depressed state of mind, communication can often go haywire! “Communication” is a common word now-a-days that is often overused and misunderstood. Just like anything else in life, there is a Right way to communicate, and a Wrong way to communicate. For example, would you attempt to run a mile at a sprint pace the entire way? Or would you attempt to create a steady pace that is more manageable? This concept is similar in the ways we choose to communicate. When you open up to your spouse about your frustrations, do you frantically dump each and every detail of your feelings all at once? Or do you give him a moderate picture of what is going on? Yes, it is good to have your spouse as a safe haven to express your feelings. Yet, it is not good to expect him to harbor every last detail of your thoughts. I know it will be very tempting for stay-at-home-moms to do this (given the fact that you are by yourself all day). But learn to steady your pace in the way you reveal your thoughts. It will help make things feel a little less hectic.
4. Find Your Daily Mantra
A lot of people find it motivating to have some sort of key word or phrase that reminds them to keep going. I always thought it was pretty stupid, actually. But when I thought of my own motivating phrase, it completely changed my attitude on life. The phrase I live by is “Create Your Own Paradise”. The biggest meaning behind that is no matter what sort of out-of-control situation you are in (whether it’s “baby blues”, PPD, or getting laid off from work), there are always things to do each day that you CAN control. I allowed myself to acknowledge the little things that gave me joy. So I did them! And I don’t mean little things like doing the dishes or sorting through laundry. (But if that stuff gives you joy, then by all means, do it! And come clean my house too if ya want!) Give yourself something to look forward to. I am talking about stuff like reading a few chapters of your favorite book, or taking your baby for a walk in his stroller, or even going to the drive thru to buy that special coffee drink you can barely afford! Having little joys in your day can make all the difference. And since exercise and motivating phrases commonly go hand in hand, I would also recommend doing an at home exercise routine. Nothing complicated though. It could be as simple as 30 minutes every other day. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, exercise is a great way to help keep emotional balance. I truly believe that my exercise routine in combination with my new “life phrase” were the biggest parts of my transition out of my depression.
5. Don’t ”Enjoy Every Moment”
I know this may sound bazaar, but enjoying every moment of your child’s life as a baby is damn near impossible! So don’t try. The worst thing you can do if you are suffering from “baby blues” or PPD is to paste a fake smile on your face and pretend that you are so in love with mommy-hood. You have to let yourself FEEL those negative emotions when they happen. Don’t hide from them. If you do, you will only prolong the process of getting past it. However, you must not let those emotions consume you! That’s when it can get dangerous. Have an outlet. Write in a journal, rock out to your favorite music, scream into your pillow for 9 minutes if you have to! Whatever thing you need to do to release your frustrations in a constructive way, go for it! And for the record, rockin’ out to music in your living room does not make you a crazy person. It’s actually really fun! ALL of us need those type of releases in our lives. It’s basic emotional therapy and it’s important to give yourself an outlet. And by the way, the commonly used phrase “enjoy every moment” is mostly uttered from the mouths of parents who have truly forgotten what it’s like to raise a baby. They’re not trying to be mean when they say that awful sentence, but perhaps they are trying to say “savor the precious moments”. Not every moment is precious, but trust me, there WILL be some great ones you will never forget. Which some people might say, is the biggest reward when it comes to parenting.
So keep your head up and keep working to better yourself. I know that “baby blues” and postpartum depression are no joke when they grasp onto you. But I can only hope that these things I’ve suggested will help you overcome your struggles like they have helped me.
Rachel Young is a stay at home mom to 3 young boys. She’s been married to her husband for 7 years and they live in Sacramento, California.
Whether a new mom or the most seasoned, there’s no doubt that you’ve experienced this familiar situation: your child begins to spiral out of control and heads for a full-blown tantrum; your heart begins to race and you find yourself holding your breath hoping for the best and fearing the worst. As you move in to diffuse what seems like an impossible situation THEY step in and takes control.
Maybe it’s your co-parent, maybe the babysitter or the au pair but this person is able to speak to the child in a way that instantly flips the switch and returns them to their angelic self. They must have a magic wand, right? More likely what is happening is that the authority figures in your child’s life are not presenting a unified approach. Use these approaches to avoid the good cop / bad cop situation in your household.
- Create a common ideal: Moms, nannies, au pairs, and family members that watch your children are all individuals that bring their own personal perspective and ideas on childrearing. Even with all these outside influences your common goal is a happy, well-behaved child. Take the time to discuss it as a group to ensure everyone is on the same page, and then allow the individual caregivers to carry out the plan in their own way.
- Be consistent: Easier said than done, but this is the key. Are time-outs for hitting a sibling a rule? Then that should always be the case regardless of the caregiver. No exceptions. Children thrive with consistency and repetition.
- Be clear with your message: Who is in charge and when can be confusing, especially to little children. Be clear in messaging that when mom and her partner aren’t around, the au pair, babysitter or nanny is in charge and the child should listen to them the same way they would mom or dad. If there is overlap when you are all around, explain who is in charge during that time.
- Support each other: Let your children see you back your partner and childcare provider’s decisions. Let them know you are a unified front that is working together in mutual respect. This not only reinforces your ideal, but is an amazing example of interpersonal communication for life in general. If you do have a disagreement, make sure it is discussed away from the kids.
- Reinforce your plan: Use daily or weekly meetings to touch base with your childcare provider and partner to make sure that you are all still on the same page and that your plan is working. Maybe utilize a family log or behavior chart. You will find that as your child grows the approach will change. You may also find something just isn’t working. Use these times to discuss a new approach.
Kerry Lavin is the local development director at Cultural Care Au Pair, the leading au pair agency for 25 years. Cultural Care Au Pair provides flexible, affordable childcare solutions for parents across the country. Aside from her role at Cultural Care, she is the mom of two active boys and lives in Newton.
In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I would share with you some things that I have learned about boobs since I started having babies. I want to say up front, though: breastfeeding is great if you can do it, and formula feeding is great if you can’t breastfeed. Not all moms can (heck, some moms don’t even have breasts)! As long as you are feeding with love, you’re doing it right!
Anyway, on to the fun facts!
- Your boobs act as soft, fleshy thermostats for your babies. It’s true! Lay a baby on your boobs. If the baby is too cold, your boob will heat up to warm the baby. If the baby is too hot, your boob will cool off, once again helping the baby thermoregulate. If you put a different baby on each boob, they will warm and cool independently in response to the individual needs of each baby.
- Breastmilk may be able to reverse resistance to antibiotics. On its own, breast milk already has antimicrobial properties, particularly against the bacteria that cause bacterial pneumonia. It turns out that if you isolate a particular protein from breastmilk and expose bacteria to the protein in the presence of an antibiotic, the protein changes how the bacteria’s cell membranes work in a way that makes the antibiotics more effective…even on MRSA.
- From an evolutionary perspective, breastmilk might be a fancy version of sweat. Some scientists believe that breasts are actually heavily modified versions of sweat glands. That’s some amazing, protein-filled sweat!
- Humans are unique in having boobs all year. Other apes (and other animals) only develop full, rounded breasts (or teats, udders, or dugs, depending on the species in question) when suckling young, then go back to being flat-chested the rest of the time. Human females keep theirs all the time, much to the chagrin of upper backs everywhere.
- There are (at least!) Four types of nipple. Leaving out the many variants of size, shape, and color of areolae, the main nipple types are “normal,” “flat,” “puffy,” and “inverted.” Don’t get hung up on the word normal, either – it just means that your nipple protrudes a bit even if you aren’t cold, and more than one third of women have nipples that fall into categories other than “normal.”
Want to meet local moms and other parents nearby for a heated discussion of the merits and flaws of breasts? Join Mom Meet Mom!
- Ludington-Hoe et al. (2006). Breast-infant temperature with twins during shared kangaroo care. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs, 35(2): 223–231.
- Marks, L.R., Clementi, E.A., and Kakansson, AP. (2013). Sensitization of Staphylococcus aureus to Methicillin and Other Antibiotics In Vitro and In Vivo in the Presence of HAMLET. PLOS One
- Ackerman (2005) ch.1 Apocrine Units.
- Moller, AP, Soler, M and Thornhill R (1995) Breast asymmetry, sexual selection, and human reproductive success. Ethology and Sociobiology. 16 (3): 207-219
- Eagen-Morrissey, T. (). What type of Nipple are you? The Guardian.
The first time I breastfed in public… it was awkward.
I was a brand new mom in a crowded store and the bathroom – where I’d planned to nurse – was occupied. I stood there trying to guess how long I had until it got bad. Really bad. I looked at the line and took a deep breath. Jack screamed. Boy did he ever scream. There were the stares and glares from complete strangers. It was so transparent I wondered why they didn’t just speak up and say what they were clearly thinking.
What is wrong with her? Why can’t she calm her child? Someone shut that child up before I freak out.
It was obvious we were not welcome and besides, I knew what my baby wanted wasn’t on the end of the bathroom queue. But I also knew that I hadn’t come prepared. You see, 30 minutes earlier he threw up in the car. All over the Aiden & Anais blanket I typically used to cover up whenever nursing him in public.
Eventually I walked away from the bathroom line and out of the store, then into the lobby. It was snowing so hard outside. The car would be too cold. There was no other bathroom or private area anywhere nearby. So I did it. I whipped out what the good Lord gave me and offered my son what he needed. He went silence instantly. Thank you, mama.
I looked up only to see a new audience. These eyes were different from the judgmental ones in the store. They were curious. They weren’t sure how to react. The stares were equally transparent, but it was obvious they weren’t sure how they felt about my public display. A young girl stood by her mother in a deep red coat and that young girl was staring.
While all I wanted to do was turn away ashamed because, yes, my boob was out in public for the first time ever, deep down I knew what I needed to do. If not for me, then for the girl. With confidence, I looked up and smiled at her. She smiled back – her curiosity still evident. Then I smiled at her mother. Immediately and surprisingly, she smiled back.
This time, I was chilled by the transparency of her expression and the message I could see so clearly in it: Mama, I’m on your team. I’ve got your back.
As I watched them walk away, her daughter looked up and tugged on the arm of her mom’s red coat.
“Mama? What was that lady doing back there?” she said.
With pride and without hesitation her mother responded, “She was feeding her baby just like I used to feed you.”
To the local mom in the red coat, thank you so, so much. You not only helped me, a first-time mom, feel comfortable and proud about my choice that day, but more importantly you also taught me a very important lesson.
As mothers, we will always have to face our differences, but in the end our ability to empower each another trumps all.