Mommy Tips and Hacks!

Hello again! After a long stint away from the blog, I’m back… again. Spring is a very busy season for my family, so many birthdays and milestone occasions. It takes a hot minute to get back into the swing of things once it has been derailed.

Also, in this absence, I kicked my business into full gear. As a SAHM, I take care of my, now 1 year old, daughter, 2 dogs, and try to do what I can to make Hubby’s work week a little easier. He commutes 3 hours a day so I try to get lunches made, dinners prepped, and house tidy with as little of his assistance as possible.  This may not be the dynamic in your house, and that is ok. This is what works for us. We’re partners in the same game with the same end goal, keep the tiny humans we make alive and turn them in to functioning, reasonable members of society while maintaining our own sanity! 😉

You can find things I’ve made or have available on my etsy shop page, Ribbons and Curls Boutique. I also have an Instagram and Facebook page you can find by clicking @TheRibbonsandCurls.  I make custom items like signs, t-shirts, mugs, tumblers, wine glasses, tote bags, onesies… you name it. If my machine can crank it out, I can make it for you.

Just a sample of something I’ve made before we get into the mom hacks!

beauty beast

So now on to the hacks I’ve discovered!  As a first time mom, you’re really just feeling things out. For the first 6 months to 1 year, you follow doctors advice religiously. Ask your friends and family with kids all kinds of questions (and sometimes receive unsolicited advice), and you google just about EVERYTHING! That is ok! You’re learning, and as long as they are happy and healthy, you’re doing a good job. It is completely acceptable to kick up your feet and enjoy that glass (or bottle) of wine once they are in bed.

Here are some things I’ve picked up in the year I’ve been keeping my tiny minion alive.

  1. Keep a toy on the changing table! At some point, those little hands are going to try to “help” you, whether that is their intention or not. I tried to do the thing where you wrap their arms up in their onesie before changing, by my kid is a little hulk ninja, and that never worked for us. A toy will distract them just long enough to wipe and secure!
  2. Dollar Tree containers will save your mind! Once my daughter was able to crunch on her own treats, we kept her section of the pantry stocked. She enjoyed Baby Mum Mum crunchy sticks (we called them surf boards because of their shape) and any Gerber treat you could imagine! If you don’t get them on sale or in bulk, it can be pricey. Best alternative, CHERRIOS! Now, they can’t have honey nut until after 1 year, but the plain ones are just as yummy to them. You can use any cereal you prefer. As an alternative to constantly getting up and down for cherrios or giving her her own bag due to the fact they would then become the dog’s cherrios, I picked up some containers from the Dollar Tree store. I personally got these. I keep one in the family room and one in her upstairs play room. Plus she loves to shake it because it makes noise, two things in one! Never had it open up and spill on us. You can get any style you like. The baskets and bins are also amazing pantry organizers, but that’s a different hack post all together.container
  3. Freeze your berries! I’m pretty sure this is all kids, but ours LOVES fruit! She cannot get enough of it. Blueberries and raspberries are her favorites. Right now is the peak of fruit season. Our grocery had buy one pack of strawberries and get two free! Of course I stocked up, but then was at a loss of how to keep them from going bad before we use them all. Then I remembered a cooking show I watched were they put berries and fruits on a cookie sheet and flash froze them before bagging. That’s just what I did. I cleaned the berries and laid them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and stashed them in the freezer. I gave it a day and then bagged them up in freezer bags, no need to vacuum seal as you will probably use them quickly.  What makes this a mom hack is pairing it with a strainer teether like the one below. Let the berry thaw just a touch so you can get it in there, or pre-cut your berries before freezing. Then you not only have a nice cool snack for kiddo on a hot day, but you also have teething relief for sore gums! You can also portion out into snack size bags and toss a frozen bag into the diaper bag before the park or lunch time. It won’t get smushed in there because they are hard and will soften by the time you need them.
  4. Hair Ties! Now this may just pertain to my mamas with little girls, but these could be handy for anyone really. Dollar Tree also carries the small elastic hair ties. I pick up a box of 700 for a dollar! You can use this style for a number of things. I mainly use them for her hair but they can be used to tie loose shirts back during craft time too. Regular hair ties are handy as a way to keep kids out of cabinets you haven’t child proofed yet. Put it in figure 8 around each knob and they can only get it open just a little. Buys you some time until you do something more permanent if you chose to.
  5. Snack Tray! It’s after nap time, you’ve got to run to the store for groceries. You are dreading an afternoon trip because it means you’ll likely have a melt down on your hands. Here is your sanity saver, the Snack N Shop! Ever since my daughter could sit in a cart herself, I’ve always engaged with her while shopping. I’m pretty sure I sound like a crazy person talking to myself up and down the isles. I ask her questions, talk about what were going to do during errands, make for dinner, whatever really. Sometimes, that’s not enough. She will get peckish and want a snack, but I don’t want to leave a trail of snacks thru the store by giving her a baggie or having to hold it, push the cart, make sure she doesn’t drop anything, and decide what I need in the store. A friend posted a picture of her daughter using this snack tray while shopping! I decided to give it a shot and it has completely changed my shopping experience with a child!! You can get it on Amazon here. Ranges from $15 to $17 depending on the color you want. Has a lid so you can close it up if there is still food inside. I always hate myself when I’ve forgotten it on the counter after cleaning it, it makes such a difference in how we run errands! Every single shopping trip someone is asking where I got it. 20180612_112203.jpg
  6. Dave and Ava! I know there is a great debate about screen time. I am of the camp “everything in moderation”. Lets face it, when we were kids, we had TV time. However, we didn’t have cell phones so we still did the playing outside gig. While I don’t advocate handing your toddler a tablet and using that all day every day, sometimes, you need help to keep their attention while you do dishes, switch the laundry, or scrub the bathrooms. Let’s face it, a show is the quickest, easiest way to buy yourself 30 minutes. ava

A friend of mine recommended Dave and Ava. This show is on YouTube for free (with ads) or you can download the app on your phone or tablet for a fee and use it without ads or in app purchases for as long as you want.  I let her watch mostly at home so we have YouTube on our smart TV. There is minimal interruption, maybe 3 ads per 100 minutes. The best thing is, its all nursery rhymes! It’s a brother and sister and they are Old McDonald’s kids. They play with farm animals all while the nursery rhyme is playing. The animation is much slower than say Mickey Mouse Club house or any other kid’s show so their eyes can follow the pictures and it’s still brightly colored. It teaches counting and letters as well in some of the songs. She doesn’t watch it everyday, maybe twice a week really. And it’s generally if I have to do something and she is in a super clingy mood. We joke it’s like baby crack. She hears the opening song start and automatically looks for the kids!  Screen time is gonna happen unless you have strict rules, might as well be something wholesome and educational.

 

These are what I have for now, as I discover more I’ll be sure to share. If these work for you, YAY! Thats great! If not, just remember every kid is different, just have to find what works for you and your family.  If you have some hacks you’d like to share, please comment below! We all need help in this parenting thing.

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Life Update ~ Mom emotions and feelings

Hello internet. Not sure how many moms or parents follow this blog because I haven’t posted anything overly parent related lol. I realized mostly it has been recipes that have gotten my attention to post.

Today I am going to talk about mom stuff. I’m going to say right off the bat, I do not agree with mom shaming. Every one of us moms are trying our best. There is no manual, rule book, or game plan you can have that will turn out a perfect kid product. You have to do what you feel in your gut is right for your child, your family, and your own sanity. If I see mom shaming in the comments, I will delete them and deactivate the comment section. This is on any an all posts I make. You have been warned.

A little about me, I am an “older” mom. Most of my family had kids younger, early to mid 20’s. I would have rather been a younger mom myself, mostly for the possible increased energy to deal with the endless energy children seem to have. However, I didn’t meet my husband until I was 28 and there isn’t a single thing I’d change about it. I’m a firm believer that everything in your life prepares you for a certain path and I couldn’t image being married to anyone other than my husband. I can be neurotic, demanding, moody, and many other things and he is so “go with the flow” that we balance each other amazingly well.

So back to my daughter lol, now that I got all hubby mushy.  I found out I was pregnant with our daughter Avery 2 weeks before our wedding. She surprised us with how quick she decided to join us. We had planned on being pregnant a few months after and I had prepared myself for the possibility of having a hard time conceiving since I am a plus size gal. I’ve heard it can be difficult when carrying extra weight. I guess losing weight from wedding stress pushed us along lol.  When we got married I was 7 weeks along and in the thick of first trimester nausea.

Everything went pretty smoothly. It was a normal pregnancy by all accounts. I had occasional things I was nervous about, if she stopped moving a lot, any spotting, headaches, etc that I’m sure all new moms are nervous about too. You’re growing a human and you’ve never done it before, you’re allowed to make the occasional trip to L&D to get a check up. Towards the end of pregnancy, probably about month 7 or 8, I started to feel really tired. I wasn’t able to do all the things I wanted to around the house. My husband and I were living with my grandpa, he was mid 80’s when we lost my grandma and me moving in worked out as I was moving out of my apartment and he started needing someone around more. I made all his lunch, dinner, and snacks, did all the shopping, scheduled his appointments, took him wherever he needed to go because he opted not to drive. I was happy to do it. The new tired feeling made me not want to do any of those things and I started to feel like I wasn’t doing enough.

I started to feel like I was useless, questioning and doubting myself. Would I be a good mom? Would I be able to keep taking care of everything if I could barely do it before the baby came? It was a big mess. They say hormones really mess with your emotions and boy they were right. I mentioned it to my doctor and she suggested I talk to psych to make sure I was doing ok. I was never able to make it to an appointment before I had Avery so I tried to deal as best I could. It would come and go in waves and I always talked myself out of going because I was in an “upward swing”. Looking back, I really should have just gone.

I dealt with so many issues during delivery and after Avery was here that I think talking to a professional would have been a good idea. Delivery was hard emotionally. I had gone in at 38 weeks with a headache and low-grade fever. I have Kaiser and they have you come into L&D to get checked out before they admit you, kind of like ER for pregnancy.  I tried to get some rest while hooked up to fetal monitors. I should also mention, Kaiser’s policy is if a mom has hypertension and you come in 38 weeks or later, they have you deliver for your safety and for the safety of the baby. I didn’t know this.

So I’m tired and scared I’m going to have to deliver. My blood pressure went up so much that they said I had to calm down or they were going to pull her right then and their C-section team during the day was the best team to use. I was there in the middle of the night. I did my best to calm down and relax. C-section was the option at the time because Avery was breech, both her feet were in my pelvis. The plan was to try to turn her around and be induced to deliver vaginally which was my birth plan. If they couldn’t turn her, I was going in for surgery. I had not, in any way prepared myself to undergo major surgery.

Long story short, she didn’t turn and I had to have a C-section. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t have my daughter naturally. You read all these things about how a vaginal birth is best for you and baby and by not being able to do that, I felt like I cheated Avery out of something beneficial. Part of me wonders if having a C-section caused my issues with breastfeeding too. I think that is what messed me up the most emotionally. I was never able to produce enough to adequately feed her. She lost too much weight in the 3 days between when we got home and her newborn check up. The sent me home with as much premade formula as possible to feed her to see if we could get her to put weight back on.

Talk about a failure, my own body couldn’t do the one thing it was designed to do. Have a baby and feed it. It took me weeks not to feel ashamed that I had to give my daughter formula. I did everything I possibly could to get milk to come in. I’d feed her, pump constantly, eat lactation cookies, make lactation smoothies, I even landed myself in ER because one of the supplements they suggest caused me incredible abdominal pain. I was never able to produce more than 1 oz in day. Even now, when she’s almost 11 months and coming off formula soon, I feel like I failed her. In my mind I know fed is best, no matter how she gets it. The benefits of her being on formula meant that we could go out and I didn’t have to worry about breastfeeding in public which is its own issue we won’t go into here. My husband could get up and feed her and let me sleep and I got help when we went to visit family and friends since I wasn’t her only food source. I keep reminding myself she is happy and health and that is whats important. But it still bothers me.

All this kind of carries over even now. Just like any mom does, I wonder if I’m doing a good enough job for her. Am I the best version of myself for my family? I’ll have days where I’m so frustrated trying to get her changed or in pajamas that I can’t help but cry and feel like I don’t deserve my family. Just last night I fought tears trying to get her bathed before bed. She is starting to get her own mind and personality. This is great but makes doing things that are necessary difficult. I remind myself to give myself a break, we have gone thru a lot in the last 6 months.

We lost my grandpa in November, we moved 100 miles away from our friends and family so we could buy a house and have me be home with Avery. I’m completely thankful for the chance to be home and be with her everyday, but a new town means minimal friends let alone other mom friends. Then in March, we lost my other grandpa unexpectedly. We got a lot to process and get thru. I don’t want to bog anyone down or load them up with my issues since everyone is fighting their own battles you can’t see.

I’m hoping my feelings and over-emotional moments are due to the pile of things life has stacked on us lately. I will say, getting this out, even in digital form, feels so amazing. Even if no one reads it or can understand what I’m feeling, I got it out of my head and off my mind. That in itself is a big step to feeling ok.

So in a very rambly nutshell, if you feel like you aren’t enough or inadequate, you’re not alone. There are other moms out there struggling and you don’t have to feel happy everyday. Not being OK is OK sometimes.