Monday, July 23, 2012

How to get your baby to sleep, my Sleep Coaching Business

I  have finally gotten my website and Facebook page going for my new sleep coaching business.  I am certified as a Gentle Sleep Coach by Kim West, The Sleep Lady. I did about 60 hours of coursework to receive my certificate and continue to be supervised by West and other qualified Gentle Sleep Coaches. If you are having troubles with your child age 0-5 years and sleep, I now offer consultations for local and nation-wide clients (for non-locals I do a "Skype" consultation + phone calls/emails).  I have been certified since April 2011 and taken about 10 clients so far... all with 100% success!  You can be sleeping better in an average of 1-2 weeks.

This blog will still be my family blog but also host my new "Sleeping Family" business.  Check it out here and Facebook page and Twitter.

post signature

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Newborn Sleep Tips that work

This post comes from my sister, Kate, who just had her first baby about 8 weeks ago. She has cared for my children during the last four winters when her seasonal job ended. So she has recent infant experience. As a new Mother, I think it helped her out a lot plus we see eye to eye on child rearing for the most part. Little Rory is a mellow and happy baby who was born at 42 weeks at home. I'll have to get Kate to write up her birth story for this blog too.

I might also add that Kate received a video monitor as a gift and it has helped her be fairly scientific about this whole process. When I started to impart gentle tips, Rory was only 2 weeks and sleeping in a co-sleeper with Kate and Norm, her husband, was sleeping in the guest room. A very common formula. I didn't want to see her reactive co-sleep for too long but I also didn't want to push my "ideas" on her. It's fine to co-sleep for up to 3 months if your baby is doing well with it and it works for your family. Kate mentioned it wasn't working well for her. So I gave her some options. My words are in blue. Kate's are in black.

Here is the advice I gave her that she wanted to share with my readers:

1) Encourage the baby to sleep longer at night. It seems absolutely stupid to wake a newborn, but after the first week (as they are going to be recovering from the birth and need to feed so often) don't allow the baby to sleep more than 3 hours during the day. I started to see the benefits of following this advice within days. I also want to add that all you are doing for these first weeks is shaping their sleep. Helping the newborn to know the difference between night and day... so try not to always nurse in the room with the curtains shut or in your bed if it's daytime. Bring them to a room that has natural light but not too noisy. ALL newborns will sleep one long stretch per day, and you want that to be at night. So keeping the daytime naps to 3 hours is one way to target that. I myself had a really hard time waking up Harper but looking back, I know it kept her from sleeping well at night.

2)Rory wasn't doing well sleeping in a co-sleeper right next to my bed at night (it took forever for him to finally pass out), but he seemed to be doing well in his crib in his room during his day naps. When I told you this during week 2, you basically said "forget the co-sleeper, just have him sleep in his crib. YOU are probably what is keeping him up." I felt bad about this--don't new babies need to be close to momma, hear her sleeping and breathing? Nope, the first night I put him in his crib, he went to sleep, and fell back asleep, faster and with less fussing. Of course, he was also born at 42 weeks, so maybe he was more independent. Also, having a video monitor and the sleep positioners, if I woke up and freaked out cause I couldn't hear him, all I had to do was flip on the monitor and see him. I gave Kate a sleep positioner or "wedge" so the baby can sleep on their side or back with a little more snug feeling. It looks something like this except mine had a pillow. The little bolsters velcro on there. I don't recommend using these once your baby is more active, or when you stop swaddling them. You have to use common sense here: if it doesn't seem safe for your infant, don't use it.

3)Swaddling tightly. Taking care of your kids, you and Matt taught me how to do it. Maybe some babies can do without, but Rory would wake himself up slapping himself in the face. I still swaddle him now, but not as tight because he can sleep with his hands out--once he is already asleep. My husband is really big on this one.

4)The two pieces of advice, that sort of go hand in hand, that I would tell every new mom (that you emphasized) is this: Minimize motion sleep or the "sleep anywhere" routine. Yes newborns can do it, but if they only ever sleep during the day in your arms or in a swing/carseat/etc., then you will be screwed later on because they won't be able to put themselves to sleep (or back to sleep). Which leads us to the second part of the advice, as much as you can, put your baby down drowsy but awake. Eventually, they get the idea; "Mommy doesn't have to be here every time I go to bed" and "this is my happy, sleepy place, I know what to do". And so far it is paid off. Very rarely now does putting Rory down take a lot of time. He is starting to understand that a dark room, white noise, a swaddle, and a few minutes of rocking means go to sleep. We are still working on his ability to put himself back down to sleep. If your baby is able to link more than 45 minutes together, he is putting himself back to sleep on his own... their sleep cycle is 45 minutes so any nap longer than that and they are having a partial arousal... and will put themselves back down. I've seen Rory do it myself on the video. He opens his eyes, then blinks slowly until he falls back asleep. It's pretty cool for me to watch!

5) Understand that they are going to cry. You said this to me when you learned it yourself with Owen and reminded me of it recently. It won't scar them for life (both your children love you and have a healthy attachment to you and Matt--and we definitely let them fuss and cry when they were babies). Also, letting him fuss, and even cry a little, and not rushing in at every sound of discomfort, has taught me the difference between his "I'm fussing, but give me a minute and I'll go back to sleep" and his "ok, I'm getting pissed now, someone come in here and get me, I want to be awake/changed/I didn't eat enough before". Five minutes of fussing and crying and then back to sleep happens A LOT. If I had gone in there, as I did before you suggested letting him fuss (unless he was getting worked up), I would have stimulated him and woken him up--which I think I did early on. I never advocate for crying it out or crying incessantly. I think mother's should be with their babies when their baby needs them. The problem is that if you respond TOO quickly the baby doesn't learn how to self-soothe, which is a great skill to have. Something that Kate has done a really great job at is knowing what is a super pissed off cry vs fussy moment.

6)Babies go through different grow spurts. If everything is going fine, and then he has a fussy day, or couple of days, its ok. Just keep doing what you are doing, he will go back to normal. Never underestimate the power of developmental interruptions on sleep. If something major is going on developmentally it can really interfere.

7) The first three months you can't expect too much. Just try to help shape his sleep and it will make things a bit easier now and a lot easier later.

I just wanted to add that there are a few things I knew from helping you with your kids. Dark rooms, white noise, setting up a simple, but consistent, routine before sleep, some quiet whined down time, and having them sleep most of the time in their own crib.

post signature

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

TV shows for toddlers from a parent who doesn't like TV

I'm not a big fan of TV in general. It's fair to say I greatly dislike most television programs especially reality TV. I get frustrated with commercials, especially during children's shows, and I believe America watches too much TV (and video games), which contribues to our obese population among other things... In our house we watch 20-30 minutes of shows per day, TOPS and most days there is no TV. I do not have the TV on unless we are watching it. I seriously don't even know if Owen would watch any TV if it wasn't for having these two kids so close together.

Research shows that we shouldn't watch TV for the hour before bedtime because it makes it a lot harder for them to fall asleep. There is research to support that "screens" before bed stimulates our brains and make it harder to "shut down." Great series of articles here about unplugging and the importance of it from the New York Times.

In our house we don't have cable TV, we have streaming Netflix connected to our television set via a Roku box. Check Netflix site because you can find several ways to connect without equipment you might already have. I know that not everyone can "live" without TV but we can and we do happily, especially since the invetion of MLB-TV, which is a channel my husband can get on the Roku. Matt likes to keep up with his beloved Atlanta Braves and prior to this year, there was no way to do this without having an expensive monthly rate PLUS the MLB Extra Innings package. Yearly total on that was around $1,400. Ridiculous. So our compromise was to have them "put our account on hold" during non-baseball months saving us $500. However, it seemed ludicrous to pay that much money to watch a little baseball since we literally don't watch anything else.

Blah blah, back to the kids. So when we had Harper we were in a prediciment. We live in a two story house and I needed 10 minutes to put the baby down several times a day where my 20 month old, Owen, wouldn't interrupt. It seemed the baby didn't really care for her nap routine being punctuated with a loud toddler banging around in her room. I tried having him play quietly in his room or reading books on his own, but he was just too young to understand "stay here while Mommy goes here..." He wasn't that interested in TV until after 24 months, so it was a little hairy at our house for awhile. I just needed 10 minutes alone with the baby... He would watch garbage truck videos on You Tube on my laptop for 7-10 minutes but then one day he ripped off the function keys on my laptop so that failed.
When he did have more attention span, he would sit and watch a 20 minute video (often while peeing his pants, read previous post). Enter Roku's intervention. I could sit him in front of an appropriate show on Netflix with NO commercials and run upstairs to get the baby down and I didn't have to worry about him squirming around, going outside by himself, etc etc. NOt all kids would go for this. Honestly it's not as big of a deal anymore, Owen (40 months) will play by himself in his room or even play in our backyard safely while I put Harper down, it was just when she was tiny and he was still a baby too.

Recommended Shows:
Closer to 2 years old:

Kipper- This is my favorite show for parents who hate TV and don't really want their kids watching much of it. Brittish dog, Kipper, and his friends are so RIGHT on target for this age. Owen still loves it. The graphics are simple, the language clear and understandable, despite the accents and--Bonus--it's SUPER funny for kids. It's very simple and SHORT stories. One segment is about 10 minutes long. Pig, Arnold, Tiger and Kipper are very kind to one another and overall it is a huge hit. Owen watched the same episode a lot and I would hear him downstairs laughing hysterically. This show helped Owen to learn about irony, jokes, and humor in general. A+

Max & Ruby: Another simple show that features two sibling bunnies.. Ruby, the older bunny sister often "includess" her younger brother, Max, in games with her bunny friends. A lot of the plot surrounds Ruby's adventures while Max sabatoges her efforts in a way only a toddler brother can. We sometimes see Grandma bunny but strangely enough there are no parent bunnies around in any of the segments. It focus truly on Max & Ruby's relationship. Based on books by Rosemary Wells.

Closer to 3 years:

Busytown Mysteries:
This is based on Richard Scarry's books about an imaginary place, Busy Town. Huckly, Lowley, Pig Will and Pig Won't are the main animal characters. They solve mysteries during this show and it has prompted Owen to ask "what, when, where, why and how," as those words are part of the theme song. He now LOVES to discover a mystery and attempt to solve it. He adores these characters and it goes along with the four books we have with the same characters. You probably read these books as a kid, they've been around FOREVER!

Backyardigans: I'm lukewarm on this one but it's pretty cute. The animals sing and dance drawing from difference musical genres. Ex: One show will be set to all Tango music, the next all Country, etc etc. I really like the varous musical themes and the producers get clever with that. They also "imagine" things in their backyards and have multi-cultural animas and voices. Enough with the caucasian animated voices in other programs! It's a very PC from that standpoint. The animals have great pretend adventures and then at the end return to their backyard and have a snack at home.

Wonder Pets: Personally, Matt and I find the music annoying and the stories and characters sorta lame, but Owen likes it. Slightly more complex plot than the other shows. A few houspets team up: a guinea pig, a turtle and a duckling. They ride in their magical boat outside their home and "save the day" using "teamwork" and often rescue another pet or situation. The duck talks in baby talk, which I don't like. It's not bad, really, but not my favorite show.

Dora the Explorer: I'd say this is best suited for 4+ years. Latina Dora and her monkey friend, "Boots" go on adventures using a map and other magical elements to complete their journey. It incorporates minimal Spanish and requests the children to call out to help dora, paddle across the mighty river, sled down a mountain, etc. etc. Owen doesn't participate when Dora requests his help so I figure he's not that into it. There is one episode I stumbled upon that he and I both like, it has trucks, so he's in heaven. Diego is the same show with a male lead except they are rescuing rare or endangered animals in need across the globe and there might actually be some educational value to it.

Sesame Street: Oldie but gooide. Owen doesn't like it but I assume as he gets older he might. I'm not really keen on all the new animated parts of the show and it's LOOOOOONNNGGG so we've only watched it once or twice.

Shows I don't like:

Thomas the Train: I give this show a C-. Thomas the Train and friends are self-proclaimed "cheeky." I found out this means they are jerks. At first I thought their use of cheeky would mean mischievous like Curious George but some of the themes include, mean, unkind, vengeful and jealous behavior amougst all the trains. They usual resolve the plot at the end and Thomas is sorry that he was rude to Diesel 10, etc. but I still don't like it. I tried to be reasonable about this but the more I watched it with Owen the more I grew to hate it. We don't watch it anymore. Honestly the show could be so great but they based it too closely on a book written back when people didn't consider that children were as smart as they are. They didn't realize using terminology like "fat controller" or "stupid and hate" would be objectionable. I just want my children to have nice manners and the trains on this show absolutely DO NOT have good manners.

More book reviews to come and much much more. If you don't own any Richard Scarry books, time to get some!!

What shows do you like?

post signature

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Potty Training on the early side

Owen was gradually potty trained from 2-3 years old. He took early to pooping on the potty and so we just basically let him go all day with underpants. But oh boy did he pee in his pants--for 6 months. He finally initiated his own peeing on the potty around 30 months -- aka "I have to go pee" but I'd say it wasn't fully realized until 36 months. Meaning, we still had to ask and remind him a lot or spot the signs (shaking a leg) and he wasn't going by himself without our presence. Personally this was better for me than changing two sets of poopy diapers so I made the push for it. I hear if you wait longer you have faster results. I was just DONE with 2 year old diapers and baby diapers.

What we had going was
Mommy: "Do you have to pee, Owen?"
(repeat 1,000 times a day)
Owen: "No"
-- then he'd pee in his pants moments later. We wouldn't have a big reaction and just change the pants and remind him that he needed to pee in the potty and when he felt that funny feeling, run to the potty. Hubs was behind me on this one too. We never put him back in diapers or ever used pull-ups, even at night. At first I bought 2-3 cloth big kid pants but he seriously NEVER peed in them, so we left him in underwear pants at night and for naps.

We went everywhere in those undies pants we just peed before we left and when we got home and took preventative measures. Basically at home we had a good routine going. Pee after waking up, pee after breakfast, pee before going out for a walk, pee when we got back... you get the idea.

He only had around 2-3 pooping accidents in his pants over the 1 year timeframe and they were sorta "excusable," if you know what I mean. He also only ever peed in his bed at night in extreme conditions, either he was super exhausted or we forgot to have him go right before bed. I have heard of people having success overnight by waking their child around 11PM or whenever they go to bed and having them sleepwalk to the toilet , pee and put them smack back in bed. We never did that. Keep in mind that Owen doesn't drink a ton of water or liquids so I'm sure this helped the process...

One of our biggest challenges with this whole process was the fine motor skills it requires to unbutton and re-button pants. Most kids are great at this from an early age (I know Harper can do it and she's only 21 months) but Owen had absolutely zero interest in dressing or undressing (still would rather have us do it) himself so pulling up and down his pants was a HUGE HUGE deal for us. We were constantly doing it. This is a boy who didn't like to put on his shoes himself, dress himself, zip up his jacket, unbutton things. He's not interested in those skills. He did like to feed himself (wouldn't let me spoon feed him past 10 months).

On his third birthday we enrolled him at a Montessori school -- they had a mid-year opening so we took it and within a week he was self-actuating bathroom skills. He went to the bathroom all by himself and even washed his hands himself. He was still having trouble pulling up his pants in the back but he got the job done well enough. His favorite thing about pre-school was that the potties were his size. I still do the wiping we are currently working on that messy skill...

It's crazy to think that soon I will be diaper-free FOREVER! WHOO HaHaHaHaHaHaHaH (cue Dr. Evil-like laugh). I will make the push with Harper early too because Mommy is ready and dedicated. I think those are really the two most important ingredients anyway.

In terms of what we bought. We were given a One Step Ahead potty, which -- eh, didn't love it. The top of the seat flaps down all the time while they are trying to put it up. I might try the Baby Bjorn potties instead...they look comfy. Yes, you still have to then process the waste... a tad better than diapers, but still dealing with too much poop for me. If your child is game, do directly to the "on top" potty seat. We bought two sit on top seats from (one for upstairs and one for downstairs) and also the Kushie's big kid washable pants, a fold-able travel seat and a Baby Bjorn stool. We have a wooden stool upstairs but it slides around (added some tacky stuff to bottom) and I use the BB plastic one downstairs. If you are on vacation some kids won't go in just any potty... it's not as comfy and then they'll boycott pooping and poof, you've got constipated toddler. AVOID that like the plague, BTW.

If I had another child, I might go for the elimination communication method-- this requires EXTREME parental vigilance, which I was not ready for but in the long run, could be nice results.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

this and that

That is me finally coming up for air. Harper is 19 months and Owen is 3 years old and some change and I will finally get back to this blog. Admittedly my new iMac keyboard and new iMac are also making me feel the blogging love tonight at 11:41PM .

Guess what people? I've got two kids and they sleep through the night. Let the angels rejoice. I can stay up late and not have to pay the price, I can wake up and teach 5:45AM spinning... but don't give me any medals yet... Harper is still waking once or twice a week at like 3-4AM and saying "Dah-EE or mama." We go in there tell her it's "night night" and reassure her (without touching in theory) and she goes back to sleep. Seriously annoying but hey, I'll take it. I figure at SOME point it will be a month without interruptions.

Maybe I'll just do a stream of conscientiousness post... that's how my brain works anyway.

Harper: Harper is at just about the cutest age ever! I love a year and a half! She is definitely going through a "mama" stage and is feeling some separation anxiety. I SORTA, feel it could be related to our 8 night Costa Rica trip without the kids back in April (was that already 2 months ago)? She is a little more concerned now when I grab my purse and walk to work. HOWEVER, I won't let myself think that because Matt and I had a great time and I would do it again for our marriage and my own personal sanity. To summarize, we went to Costa Rica in April without the kids. We rediscovered ourselves and each other. It was awesome and I got a bonus tan. Grammie and Pop stayed at our house and Tia Kate helped out from time to time. It was glorious. Planning next year's adventure already. I'm thinking of a mountain bike tour next year...or maybe a trip up California's coast... we'll see. Ah yes, back to Harper, her receptive language is amazing...she basically understands everything you say and is just now trying out her words. She says "mama" and "Dah-EE" "OH-wee" (Owen), "Goo" (water). If you ask her how to say water she replies, "Goo." KAI (Kaibee), Dah (dog), AH-side (outside), BA (blankie), Ba-ee (bike), Ah choo, off, on, up, down, Yeah, Ok, a-right (alright), a-SPY-ER (spider), BAh (ball), moon, STA (stars), ouch, hur (hurt), no, no no, more, KA-ker (cracker), a-mee (vitamin), bye, hi, night night. I mustn't forget her two word sentence: "Oh-wee kai-een" (Owen's crying-- happens a lot). She roars like a lion, makes the cutest lamb noise you ever have heard, pants like a dog, meows like a cat. Lately she is obsessed with spiders and makes the cutest "spider" hand gesture when she says the word. She is almost always happy except when you take her bike away from her, then she is pissed. She LOVES her bike. She has a strider bike without pedals and she steers it and sits on the saddle. She wants to do whatever Owen is doing and she lives for when he wakes up from his nap. She barges into his room with authority and says, "Hi, oh Wee." She is strong as hell and is going to be a force to be reckoned with in any athletic endeavor she decided to embrace. We call her our little scrum half. Kate and Norm call her Cobra because she is so fast!

Owen is adjusted to attending Montessori school--finally. He loved the first day and then kept coming home saying, "they don't have any trucks at school," meaning of course, his beloved matchbox cars. Owen talks and talks and talks and talks. Boy could talk himself silly. He knows the names and brands of cars often. Example: "Mommy check out that Subaru." He can spot a VW a mile away. He's been talking a lot about the Concord and how it files at mach II, the speed of sound, Mommy. It's in a book. He gets that from Kate. Mr.-Know-it-all is coming our way. He enjoys his shows on Netflix: Madeline, Bob the Builder, Kipper, Wonder Pets, Backyardagins. We allow him 20minutes or 1 hour of shows over the day. Some days he doesn't watch anything at all but he definitely likes to curl up with Mommy's iPad and kick back on the potty with an episode of Dora. He's 150% potty trained. He sleeps in his undies and never has accidents. He has got to be dehydrated. Kid hardly drinks fact, kid hardly eats food. He eats JUST enough to get by until the next 100 calorie snack. It drives me crazy but I've given up for now. He's a good sleeper, maybe I can train him to eat well as he gets older.

I will post some photos soon. How awful. A photographer who hasn't updated her baby blog with photos of the babies... and I have some really cute ones!

I will finally, FINALLY have storage for all my personal photos of the kids and a computer on which to edit and catalog them. Yippie! So that will help the documentary cause.

post signature

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Having a full-time photography business and being a full time Mom

I get a lot of comments about how I manage my life. The answer is: day by day. I find that parenting requires an extreme amount of two things I don't have a lot of:

1) patience
2) organization

I still manage...somehow. I think it's because I have an amazing husband and my amazing sister/nanny lives in town.

Here are my top tips to manage having your own business and being a full time Mom {I have a photography business)
  • decide how you want your children to be cared for while you are away? There are more options than you think here.
    1. Full time daycare? This just wasn't something I could ever "swallow" and because I have a flexible job, I didn't have to. PHEW. I think that was one of my biggest fears about having kids. I hear that many of my friends kids love it, but for ME, it was always going to difficult mentally to drop them off. Especially if they cried
    2. in the home of someone else-- there are lots of options like this where Moms stay home and watch other people's children for fairly inexpensive. Sometimes as low as $3-5/hour. This could've worked when I had one but with two it was a bit challenging with various nap schedules I wanted to keep.
    3. trade days with another Mom. I did this one fall and it worked beautifully except I was pregnant and it made it super hard to take care of someone else's baby if anything went "wrong" ie: child refused nap so she needed a push in stroller or to be worn, or extra attention. Little did I know this was my baptism into having two children.
    4. in your own home care/hiring a nanny. This is the option I chose since I only had to work 2.5 days a week. Matt comes home a half day every Friday so this option was awesome. I interviewed a bunch of college students via the site and had great luck, only to have that gal move then learned what questions to ask and got a great nanny who is still with us. My sister does this job 6 months a year (she works seasonally) and I pay her. Bad part with this method: when nanny is sick -- you have to stay home.
    5. work from home while baby sleeps. HAHAHHAHA. I thought this could work for me for awhile but honestly when I'm home with a newborn or new baby and they go to sleep, I take a nap too. I did work from home with nanny at home some and found that I just got sucked into holding and loving my babies too much. I definitely needed to be working outside the home if the kids where home
  • set a schedule and stick to it. I work Monday-Wednesdays and Fridays and always take Tuesday and Thursday to be with my kids. This REALLY helped me schedule work appointments, get into a weekly groove and it really feels like I spend every other day with them... because I DO!
  • Support from the husband is critical. Matt can do everything while I'm away. He's very hands on and is super capable of any task with the kids: ie: bedtime, morning breakfast, diapers, making dinner with two kids running around, you get the idea. You work odd hours without great help either from your husband or a great nanny.
  • Allow your husband to figure out how to watch the kids "his way"-- try not to micromanage him. I have to remind myself of this all the time. At the same time, try to "get on the same page" with your nanny and husband about all the food choice, discipline, etc etc.
  • The days you are at home with your kids: play with them. This is the time you've set aside to be with them, don't be trying to squeak out more time to "check email" or make business calls. Make it clear to your clients: I don't work on X and X day. Set limits up or you'll find yourself not really enjoying your time at home with your kids and they will learn that Mommy isn't really paying attention to me and a whole slew of problems can arise from this.
  • Do personal errands and what not on your "home" days so that the days you are at work you have no personal stuff to take care of and you can really focus on being productive. This means scheduling personal appointments either when your husband is home or bring the kids to the grocery store, doctor, etc.
  • I can't "take lunch" with friends or plan any "non work" activities the days I'm working. I have to pack 40-60 hours of work into 30 hours. I bring a lunch and eat at my desk as much as possible.
  • I take Sunday completely off. I never schedule client appointments on Sunday. Unless it's a wedding, I try to unplug on Sunday.
  • On a non-wedding Saturday, I try really hard not to schedule anything. These weekend times with the whole family are really precious, I don't want to bother with a meeting I could have scheduled for Friday and miss flying kites with the kids, etc. There are exceptions to this but not many.
  • I schedule client calls at 8PM after the kids are asleep. It's usually a great time for clients to chat too. I will not talk to clients at home with my kids in the background.
  • keep a great calendar. I use iCal and have it on my iPhone, iPad, home and studio computer. Set alarms, send yourself emails. This really helps because life with kids is managed chaos.
  • Get your kids on a great nap schedule... that way when you do have days a home you can still get an hour or two at the computer to catch up when you should be doing housework, of course!
  • speaking of housework, hire a maid. Best money I spend every month. I.DO.NOT.CLEAN.MY.OWN.HOME. -- EVER. I tidy up, yes, I clean the kitchen nightly, yes. Bathrooms, floors and dusting... nope-- NEVER. This is a luxury service, but frankly I do not have the time nor the inclination to clean my home. It costs me $150/month to have a maid every other week. Bottom line: we don't have cable TV and we don't eat out much and I don't buy fancy coffee drinks. It's priorities, people. Believe me, you can find the money. You cannot get this time back with your kids. If you are a working Mom, you owe it to yourself. There is almost nothing that makes me happier than the day the house is 100% clean top to bottom and I didn't lift a finger.
  • Finally you will always feel guilt when you leave your children. When they are in Kindergarten and "supposed" to be at school, I think a weight will be lifted off my shoulders (and my pocketbook). Guilt is just part of being a working Mom. Hopefully these tips will help you get more quality time with your kids, be productive at work and make you a happy Mommy. I know my time at work is not only productive for my business but also for my family. I love my job and I look forward to every Monday, Wednesday and Friday but I also LOVE Tuesday/Thursday. It's a good balance. I hope you can find yours.

side note: I realize I'm super lucky to have this type of flexibility, but it's a blessing and a curse. Mostly a blessing but the business has suffered a little since I had the kids-- okay, A LOT. While I love my business, my #1 priority is my family. I can always have a successful business, but I can never get this time back with my kiddos.
post signature

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Final shakedown: Cloth Diapers, how to, why and well, just do it...

It's been almost 3 years and two kids in cloth diapers so can I consider myself a veteran? Yes, yes, I can. Do I still love them? Yes, I do. I've certainly had my moments, especially when both kids were in diapers for 6-8 months -- lots of diaper laundry but with one kid... PIECE OF CAKE! Here are my tips for cloth diapers. I will take a photo of my set-up and add it.

Supplies you need:
1) a baby that is 8-12 weeks (let's face it folks, who wants to wash 20+ diapers a day ? Rather than make yourself a slave to diapers-- I say wait until that poop is not happening every time you blink, and then start)

2) a good set of cloth diapers -- I'd say 15-20 is really comfortable. Do what you can afford but at LEAST 12. I use Fuzzi Bunz and YES I know they are made in China but really people, what isn't? I've had the same size medium Fuzzi Bunz with me since Owen was 3 months. MJ did a review of other cloth diaper ideas including g-diapers on this blog here.

3) Good detergent, I've used Charlie's Soap and now I'm using Vaska, which I can get locally at New Profieteers (I mean Frontiers), so I don't have to have it shipped and thus save the planet even more... ah hem anything you ship uses fuel...

4) Just bite the $50.00 bullet and buy a diaper sprayer. Do I have to go there? Believe me some sticky baby poop needs a little "shower" to release itself into the will thank me later.

5) a cloth can liner. Personally, I don't even have a disposable diaper trash can in my nursery...too tempting. Make it a hassle to use anything disposable... I mean, it's nasty anyway-- What's nasty you ask me? POOP sitting inside plastic disposable diapers rolled up in plastic bags shaped like a sausage so it doesn't smell like poop in your house... THAT is what is nasty. I use a regular trash can with a flip up top. We got it at Target and yes, I wish it wasn't plastic.

6) brings me to WIPES: that's right, CLOTH WIPES... might as well so long as you are washing the diapers. I get them on whatever site I buy the diapers from.. you'll need around 20-25. If you are crafty and can use a sewing machine, which sadly I cannot, then make your own from old soft towels. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT have disposable wipes handy or you'll use them and guess what you won't have a trash can for them...thing is disposable wipes are nasty... believe me people I want as much cloth between my fingers and human poop as possible and flimsy little disposable wipes just don't cut it. I get grossed out anytime I have to use them.

7) While you are at it, get a cloth wipes warmer. I have a Prince Lionheart and apart from the little glowing heart being like 60watts, I love it. HINT: use black electrical tape to cover blasting light. This is the way to go for cloth wipes because they will always be WET and ready... and you guessed it, WARM!! I also used a friend's disposable wipe warmer when I was running my "two kids in two diapers" circus over here. It worked fine. Ask around, I'm sure someone has one. A trick is to put a wet cloth at the bottom of the warmer and don't let it get too dry. Here in AZ every damn thing gets dried out even a wet wipe warmer. I know, I know... it uses energy. So get some solar panels.

7) Use one disposable a day until they don't pee so much at night. Just trust me on this one. The peace of mind is worth the 365 diapers in the landfill. If you can do cloth diapers at night, my hat is off to you. Personally, I wanted the child to sleep and NOTHING was going to stand in the way, least of all a WET diaper. I buy Nature Babycare because they are supposedly compost ready but don't let me fool you, I also buy Huggies Pure and Natural because they work amazing. Harper is 15 months now and we are using cloth at night because she doesn't pee so much anymore at night... some babies and kids do... but those kids probably drink A LOT more liquids than my kids.

8) Some type of small cloth diaper tote thing that travels in your diaper bag. I have two and it's plenty. Yes, you can take your cloth diapers on the go. I have taken them on EVERY vacation we go on. The only time the child wears a disposable on vacation is on the actual day of travel if it's more than 10 hours... I just don't have room in my carry on for dirty diapers. When you travel with kids you are likely going to a place with a washing machine. The only glitch is that you need to remember your own detergent and have access to a washing machine. I have a small bottle that I carry with me on every trip. I usually only end up doing diapers two times... NOT that big of a deal. NOTE: if you are going to a hotel, call ahead to see if there is access to a washing machine, you will be surprised. If we are camping or traveling by car, I just pack one of our large diaper can liners and put dirty diapers in there and wash when we get home. Click here to view additional cloth diaper accessories.

9) A place to go with all the money you save. The average American family spends -- ARE YOU READY?? $3,000 on ONE CHILD's disposable diapers. Save yourself approximately $5,200* get some cloth diapers and hit the Caribbean! It's cheaper, folks what else do you need? *that figure assumes two children. I've spend approximately $700 on TWO KIDS!! My initial investment was $400 and then the accessories and replacing some inserts, etc.

1) NO EXCUSES. The moment you start making excuses why you should use a disposable, well, it's a slippery slope. I just limit myself to one a day. No exceptions.

2) You are worried about how gross poop is and what it does to your washing machine? Don't be silly, you are a Mom, you'll be cleaning up some serious S*IT in the next 18 years, this is literally the least of your worries. Once you've knocked out most of the solids, or flipped it out (if your kids hate veggies --really poop just flips right into the toilet after they start eating solid food), or sprayed it out, or sloshed it out... you'll find your own tricks... you flush it, and pop that diaper into the can liner and it won't stink because it's not a huge turd sitting in your nursery. You will need to wash diapers every 3 days at the most, which means about twice a week, WAY MORE with less diapers. Again get 15-20 - it's worth it.

3) All, I repeat ALL the grandparents, babysitters and nannies have used my cloth diapers with no problems. If a 14 year old girl and a 65 year old man can do it, trust me, you can too!

If you have questions, please comment here, I'll get an email and respond!

post signature

My yearly family album

In my professional photography business, I make albums for people using companies that only work with photographers, blah blah, but in my personal world I make albums for myself and my family using -- They even have bookmaking software, which I did end up using for this album. It took me HOURS to do this... as in 30 hours or something -- it's sure was a labor of love!

post signature

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Potty Training Sucess!

Owen is a big boy! He is potty trained. I am so happy! About every six weeks I'd try for the morning to take off his diaper and either let him run around naked or just put on underpants. He would pee in them all. 16 pairs one morning. So I knew he wasn't ready. It was frustrating because the child has pooped in the potty since 20 months. Finally this last two weeks he seemed to stay dry longer. One day he said, "I have to pee" and ran to the potty... that time he didn't make it but he recognized the feeling and within a week or so he was holding it!

I don't know when you drop the diaper at nap time and bedtime... I'll have to ask some other mom's because he seems ready for that too since his nap and bedtime diapers are dry after he wakes up.

Here are some things he's said recently.
Mommy: "Owen, how did you like camping last night?"
Owen: "I peed on a tree"
"No, Thank you" -- he says this to the funniest stuff. I need to write one down.
"Aweee, it's okay girl" (he says this to Kaibee when Thunder rolls outside-- she get scared)
"Mommy are you sending messages?" When I'm at the computer he says this.
from the bathroom, "Harper, Chill"
after sleeping in our bed... Matt went to check on him and he was at the top of the stairs (he had let himself out of our room -- probably the first time he's woken up from sleep and been able to get out of bed himself) "Daddy, I cannot go anywhere"
Owen, what is your favorite thing about school? (we visited a preschool and meet the teachers at Matt's elementary campus) "The mini potties," what else, "I can wash my hands in the sink myself."
Vovo Pirate told Owen that if he could keep his pants dry and pee in the potty, she would give him a truck, he said, "I need to pee in the potty now." She said she would give the truck to the mailman and now every time the doorbell rings Owen says, "it's the truck!"

post signature

Monday, July 26, 2010

Harper 8.5 months Owen 28 months - notes

So I thought I'd just do a quick stream of conscientiousness post about where the kids are with all their "stuff"
Harper is 8.5 months and is crawling, pulling up to stand and sleeping fairly well. She gets up usually only once in the middle of the night, nurses and goes right back to sleep. Occasionally she'll get up one other time and then sometimes get into a bad habit of waking 2-3 times. Recently that happened and she was waking at 11PM, 1AM and 4AM. One night we let her cry herself back to sleep during the 4A wake up (with Mommy at her side for part of the time) but it took her 1.5 hours and she didn't want to be held and I didn't nurse her (I wanted to wait until at least 6AM) and then the next night she was back to waking only once. I love holding sweet Harper when she has just fallen asleep and puts her thumb in her mouth and is on my chest right before I lay her in her crib. It's a very sweet bonding time for us and I know it doesn't last forever. She isn't really into reading stories yet but we've begun trying to read her some before bed from time to tome. She still just wants to put everything in her mouth and eat the books. She has two bottom teeth but that's all and she loves to eat in general. If you leave her alone for two seconds, she'll have a hairball and a bark chip (from the plants) in her mouth. She moves it around in her mouth and spits it out. She is such a sweet baby that I am NOT looking forward to her growing up like I did with Owen. She is at that quintessential baby age where they love rattles, laugh and explore everything. She goes to bed around 7PM and wakes up between 6-7AM and if she is up early, one of us gets up and walks down to the coffee shop while the other one sleeps in. Owen wakes up around 7AM.

Owen: is 28 months (2yrs) and talks and talks and talks. He frequently has 7-9 word sentences and is beginning to tell us how he feels. We are unsure if he really means it or if he's just repeating some memorized phrase but he'll say things like, "Daddy, I don't feel so good." and "I'm not hungry." He had been telling us when he has to poop with more regularity first beginning with "My stomach hurts" and then progressing to actually telling Matt he has to go potty or poop, which is great. Now if he could just recognize the signals for peeing!! He is pooping on the potty very well now but doesn't care about being soaking wet and will wet his "big boy" pants if we put them on him and he doesn't care about being wet. We try about every two months with the big boy underpants to see if he can keep them dry but he's too busy to stop and pee. I'm not pushing it and I'm just glad he doesn't poop in his pants anymore. GROSS! Owen sleeps from 1PM-4PM and often we have to wake him up around 4PM or he doesn't want to go to bed. He goes down around 8PM but could stay up later and often talks to himself in the crib for an hour in the pitch black darkness. He loves the movie Cars and has a lot of the die cast cars -- his favorites at the moment are "Gill" his green 18-wheeler. He has watched the whole movie cars many times at home and has begun to enjoy watching "shows" or TV. We only let him watch actual TV for 30 minutes a day if at all because Mommy hates the commercials. He likes Max and Ruby, Little Bear, Go Diego Go, Dora and some others but we really don't watch a lot of TV. I use it sometimes if I have to go upstairs to put Harper down and it buys me some "safe" time with him sitting mesmerized on the couch. He's a little scared of the scene in Cars where Mater and Lighting McQueen go "tractor tipping." He has had a great summer home with Matt and gotten lots of Daddy time. I dread Matt going back to work but the consistency and schedule are nice. Right now every day is different and that's hard to get used to. He's gotten more into "hiking" and we've taken him to the trail on various occasions and he loves to walk and walk and walk. He's definitely into walking more vs. riding in the stroller but he gets "tired" and then you end up carrying him home.

post signature