Posts tagged parenthood
Switching Roles: Mom's Going To Work
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Life with a newborn isn’t easy. Newborn babies mean extremely long nights with no consistent hours of sleep, diaper changes in a pitch-black room, and breastfeeding on demand every 2-3 hours. I’m so used to being the primary caretaker for our babies and kids. My entire day was scheduled around pick-ups and drop-offs but that’s all over now. I took a nanny role which requires me to be away from the kids most of the day. My husband who was always the daytime worker, now he’s going to be the hands-on superstar daddy because we’re switching roles!

With Aria, I had the luxury of working remotely from home for the first two years before she went to school. This time, I had only 8 weeks before I had to go back to work. Ugh, playtime with my chicken nugget is over! It was the hardest thing ever to imagine being away from my little baby for 38 hours out of the week. I’m dreading all of the things I’ll miss if I’m at work whether it’s his first word or him learning to scoot around. I will actually cry if he walks for the first time while I’m away.

The hardest part about going back to work is working out the logistics for childcare. He’s too little for us to feel comfortable going to a large daycare center. I’m horrified about the types of stories I see and read about regarding child care staff members harming or neglecting babies who are too young to speak or defend themselves.

Luckily, Dezmond is a business owner so we were able to work out our schedules so that I could work until 6 and he will work evenings and weekends. That way, the kids will be with one of us throughout the day and not in the hands of a stranger. Aria is also old enough to be going to school full-time (until 3:30) so that allows him to focus his time on our cluster-feeding baby. I can’t say that switching roles doesn’t come without heartburn. We had to put in fool-proof systems in place so I wasn’t worried about the house burning down with all of them in it.

Here’s what I did to help daddy prepare for full-time diaper duty

  1. Put everything in designated bins. Keeping yourself organized is key to making sure things go smoothly. For instance, we have 6 main bins. Diapers/wipes, burp cloths & linen, lotions and creams, daytime clothes & undershirts, jumpers, and outerwear/socks/shoes.

  2. Label everything. You can never be too thorough! Avery brand makes labels of all sizes that you can write on yourself or print them out on your home printer. Stick them on and reinforce them with clear packing tape on the front of your bins to “laminate” them.

  3. Make a baby manual. I have an entire PDF I created in Canva that’s full of info every new child caregiver would need. There’s a morning checklist, a health information sheet, a “where is it” location guide, emergency contact form, and diaper bag checklist.

  4. Re-stock the baby bag at night. Make sure that the bag is stocked with 8-10 diapers, a change of clothes, extra socks, a pacifier, a burp cloth, an empty bottle, changing table pad, and a pack of wipes. We also keep a lavender essential oil roller and natural dissolvable chamomile tablets for Sire just in case of fussy days or when teething begins.

  5. Pre-make bottles at night. Make sure you make 3-4 bottles and fill it with the desired amount of breastmilk or formula. I pump during work so that’s what he’ll eat until he runs out of it and then the rest of the day until I get home he eats Organic Similac bottles and resumes breastfeeding when I get off.

It’s going to feel super weird for the first couple weeks, but I know I’ll get used to it. The most important thing to remember is that he’s healthy and he’ll be fine for a few hours each day while I have to work. I know he’s in good hands with his daddy who magically has a newfound respect and appreciation for stay-at-home moms and understands that work productivity can be drastically impacted when you have a small baby. Who woulda thought?!

I’m with you.

For all my working mamas, when did you go back to work and where did you find help with childcare?

So That's How I Got Here! Aria's Birth Story

So although I've been blogging for more than 2 years, I realized that I have never shared Aria's birth story! With all this new baby hullabaloo, it's brought up so many old memories that I want to make sure I document on in the baby book and on the blog!

Some of you may know that when I was pregnant with Aria, Dez and I decided to not find out the gender. It was a cute idea at first but it drove our parents totally crazy. We figured gender neutral items would do and when the baby arrived we would get things more geared toward the gender. At about the 20 week mark, I was absolutely positive we were having a boy. We threw out names like Malachi (Kai), Cruz, we even bought one comforter with sports gear on it, just in case.

We had planned to have a natural birth. I even checked out the natural birthing center at the hospital I was designated to. I read up about all the benefits of a natural birth for baby and mom. How hard could it be, right?

At 37 weeks, I had a regular check up on a Tuesday. I saw my OB, Dr. Winthrop in the morning and she excitedly shared with me that I was 2 cm dilated. I was terribly surprised to say the least remembering the fancy Doona carseat/stroller we had ordered from BuyBuy baby hadn't even arrived yet! She assured me that it could be days or weeks before I gave birth, so I went home and continued on with my day.

Calling me "active" while pregnant would be an understatement. I single-handedly set up the nursery when I was in nesting mode. I successfully put together the crib, the rocking chair, hung all the closet gear, hand-painted and framed a canvas, picked out every tiny piece of decor to be nailed into the wall, or sit nicely on the steel bolted shelves I power-drilled into the wall. I even changed out the electrical fixture because everything had to be perfect for our new babe. 

In the evening following my appointment I was still moving like a champion. I was crushing piles of laundry and whipping up my daily craving-baked lemon chicken, while I waited for Dez to get home from work. He got home around an hour after I was feeling minor contractions. We ate and got comfortable on our bed watching tv until he started drifting off to sleep. Unfortunately, I was wide awake when the contractions gradually started to increase.

Soon, they were almost intolerable! I had the bright idea to take a warm bath. I filled the tub with warm water and epsom salt and slid into the tub. It felt amazing for the first 15 minutes and I got out because I didn't want to overheat. For a few minutes, the pain stopped, only to return with a vengeance. I ripped off my towel and sunk back into the tub for another 15 minutes. This time, when I got out, they only stopped for a few minutes. 

I remember putting on a sleeveless flannel nightgown (it was September) and I laid in the bed next to Dez swatting at him every few minutes when the contractions started up again. He was dazed but reached out his hand to squeeze when the pain got too tough. Soon, I was sweating buckets and I forced him to wake up so I could call the nurse.

I could barely make it through the phone call without screeching in this poor woman's ear and she politely told me it was time to get my -ish and make our way to the hospital. We were stunned! No baby bag was packed. I was jamming stuff into my petite Vera Bradley duffle through the contractions which were now only a few minutes apart. I had to stop at times while packing sitting on all fours just trying to get through the pain of each one. 

Slippers, check, nightgown, check, newborn outfit, check, eyeliner? Sure, throw that in there. I'm pretty positive it was the most ill-prepared bag in history. I coiled up the straps in my arms and my beloved snoodle pillow (curved pregnancy pillow) and Dez was ready to take us to the hospital. He raised his phone for a selfie and I almost punched the phone out of his hand. We got into my sedan He drove eagerly to the hospital which was only 10 minutes away. I screamed in the backseat of my Hyundai, laid across all the seats. I was pressing the door of the car with my soles so hard that my left foot kicked a hole through the speaker of the car. It was almost 3:00 am so luckily there was no traffic because nobody was on the road that early. 

When we got to the hospital, it was after-hours so the normal entrance was locked. We felt defeated and desperately tried to find the entrance while I waddled around in pain with my pillow in hand. We had to enter through the emergency room of the building, and when I realized the room was absolutely full, I realized I looked absolutely ridiculous. I had a Ludacris fro, I was sweating all over my face. I'm trying to block everyone's view of this tragedy with my gigantic pillow and the woman at the front desk was entirely too calm.

"What are you here for?" She asked us. I'm 37 weeks pregnant and I'm about to have a baby." I responded with a hand on my belly and a grimace. She called the Ob unit and told me to sit in a wheelchair while we waited for assistance. Soon, my name was called and Dez wheeled me to the triage room where the nurse asked me to pee in a cup for her. "A WHAT?" I thought. I was absolutely positive I was going to have our baby on the floor of the bathroom. 

"You're 10 centimeters dilated," she informed me as I laid on the hospital bed when she finally came back into the room and checked on me. Even though we had planned to have a natural birth, I was ready to throw all of that out the window for pain relief. I asked for an epidural and she uttered, "It is too late for that, you're about to have this baby, now." They wheeled me over to the delivery room and I gripped the hospital bed darting my eyes from left to right as I watched the nurses scramble to prepare for delivery.

Thank GOD, my normal Obstetrician Dr. Winthrop was on call and she walked into the room and greeted me with a smile. "Didn't I just see you today?" She laughed. Once she was dressed and ready she checked the monitors and told me I needed to get ready to push. Dez was standing to the right of the bed doing his best to walk me through their instructions and stay calm. Pushing wasn't the hardest part, the contractions were, but by now, I was exhausted and I felt like she would never make her way through; even though I pushed as hard as I could.

With one last gust of energy, I was able to bring her into the world. She cried and her daddy gladly cut her umbilical cord to assist them and they whisked her away to be cleaned. At 3:42 a.m on a Wednesday, they informed us "It's a girl!" And we looked at each other in total shock. We were grateful for whatever gender our baby was and were just glad she was healthy and safely in our arms.

Hours later, we cradled her in our arms checking her face and all her tiny toes. "What should we name her?" I asked Dez. Aria? I asked. Aria. He agreed. Aria Rose. Aria Rose clocked in at 6 lbs. and 6 oz.

Baby was perfect, and we all left the hospital together a day later after staying only that first night in the hospital.

Fun fact: Mommy popped a blood vessel in her eye which was visible in all our initial pictures together.

Did any of you have to switch up your whole birthing plan? What did or didn't work for you all? Sound off below!

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What Moms Really Wants for Mother's Day (When you're on a budget)
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Happy Mother's Day weekend to all my mums out there!

We are amazing people to be able to deal with tiny humans, live out our own dreams, work out 9-5's, wash everyone's laundry, and STILL make time for our partner-before we even think of ourselves. 

Most of our American holidays shove down our throats that we need to go to Kay Jewelers to find something special and unique for mom, but that's NOT what moms really want for mother's day. I'm going to speak for all of us when I say, we just want a restful day with our loved ones. A day where we're not sprinting children to practice, or waking up at 7 a.m. to not be late for school. Here are some awesome ideas to celebrate mother's day without breaking the bank!

  1. Freshly baked bread. You can literally go to the grocery store, buy a box of bread mix, throw some chocolate chips or dried fruit in it. Hell, throw some nuts in it if that's what mom likes and throw it in the oven. Banana Nut is highly recommended.
  2. Breakfast in bed. I'm telling y'all, we LOVE it when our families take the time to cook for us. It's like waking up on Christmas for a mom. You can keep it simple with toast, eggs, and bacon, or you can shake it up by making some crepes or blueberry pancakes for her. Here's a fab recipe for my favorite, Lingonberry crepes.
  3. Make her a video. Heck, you have an iphone. Get it edited on Fiverr to personalize it for $5. For all of her children to speak and share what they love about her. Movies and film are forever, we cherish all our pictures but videos make us feel like we can remember exactly what they looked and sounded like at that moment in time. Doblonk is a great person to use!
  4. Set up an outdoor picnic. Make some basic sandwiches with cut fruit and chips or swing on over to Potbelly and grab some. Set up a cute blanket outside with wine or juice for mom. We love to slip off our shoes and surround ourselves in the great outdoors.
  5. Clean up the house. Take some initiative by vacuuming the house, sweeping and picking up the rooms. Having a clean home without forcing someone to do their chores is a magical feeling that no mom can truly explain. Warm a candle or stick some cinnamon in a pot with water with some citrus, bring it to boil then let it simmer.
  6. Paint her something. Michael's has amazing deals for assorted acrylic paints that you can get for about 0.50 cents each. Kids can use brushes or paint with their hands. We literally try to keep everything so anything handmade feels that much more special.
  7. Give her a day off. Ask dad to make sure mom doesn't have to lift a finger unless she wants to. Kids forget every other day that they can ask their dad for snacks and everything else they harass mom for. Let dad take the lead that day. 
  8. An Edible Arrangement. You can literally make them at home with hand-cut fruit and bamboo skewers if you're a DIY queen like me. I used a bucket from the dollar store, styrofoam, skewers, a pineapple, strawberries, grapes, and cantaloupe which cost me about $12. If not, Edible Arrangements can be purchased in time for mother's day for pick up near your home! 
  9. Movie day. Binge on Netflix or load up on the newest Redbox movies. You can set up a comfy spot to lounge in your living room where everyone can pile together. Lazy days are the absolute best days and when you're a mom, those days are few and far in between.
  10. Make a Handmade Card. We literally always get sappy when we look at the ornaments and cards our kids made from scratch. Cards can be expensive when you purchase them from the store and often aren't very personal. Colored pencils and some help from dad goes a long way in making mom smile.
Keeping It Real With Mom-Blogger Sam Lenz

My goal is to share our experiences of women all over the world to show how much we can relate to each other, as well as support one another! I'll be reaching out to mom-bloggers, artists, entrepreneurs and influencers who you should be following if you aren't already.

Sometimes there is nothing better than getting lost in another’s story then your own for a moment.
-Samantha Lenz

Samantha Lenz is a mom-blogger who should inspire us all. Not only is she a freelance writer who makes her own schedule, she advocates for mental health awareness and effortlessly snaps pictures of her life in British Columbia which is incomplete without her adorable toddler, Ry.

1. I was raised by a single mother and I know how tough it can be. What is your biggest struggle parenting solo?

Hmm, that’s a tough one - because most of the time the struggles can change day-to-day. One day I can be having a struggle getting my son to eat, and no other parent to try and help, etc. It can be something so minor to something so extra.

For the most part I would say my biggest struggle would be financially supporting my son on my own and the fact I am a “solo” parent. There is so much more responsibility - you’re playing the role of both parents.

2. What is your biggest concern about introducing new people you’re dating to your baby?

What’s dating? HAHA just kidding. Honestly, I haven’t had this concern yet. My son will be two in a few months and I sadly haven’t even gone on a date (I’ve considered it) but being a single parent - you don’t get out on your own much. So dating yet alone meeting someone is a hard task.

I feel though, my biggest concern when introducing someone is - not wanting me son to see me get hurt or attached to someone and have it not work out. And visa versa, I don’t need him getting attached to someone who isn’t in it for the long haul.

3. You were able to breastfeed longer than most of us could! How were you able to incorporate that into your busy schedule? Do either of you have separation anxiety after choosing to ween him?

Oh the topic of breastfeeding is one I cringe at but also smile. I was one of those people who were completely against it. I wanted no part of it (I said I’d breastfeed 6 weeks max)... well here I am 22 months later and still breastfeeding. I should say primarily at night and the odd time in the day still. You just do… I don’t really have an explanation for it. I finally got comfortable in public - so doing it wherever and whenever my son needed was how I fit it in.

I think he is having some separation anxiety and maybe I am too? We’ve cut back the day feeds - which yay! It was getting a bit too much for me. The night-time is hard though, he uses it strictly for comfort and I am exhausted. I’m hoping as he improves his sleep schedule and the amount of times he wakes up that it’ll improve his neediness for the breast.

I’ll update you once we’ve officially weaned though!

4. You talk openly about your battle with depression which affects so many of us especially after baby. What do you do to cope with your mental illness?

It does. And for myself I had it well before I had my son and to this day still have it. It’s not something that just goes away… it takes a lot of time (medication, therapy, etc). to get a handle on things. I don’t think I will ever get over my depression - but I can use tools to help manifest it and properly deal and cope.

For me I see a psychiatrist monthly - it’s a big help. I have also become very self-aware over the years so that also helps. I journal (hence I am a writer, I love to write) and read. Sometimes there is nothing better than getting lost in another’s story then your own for a moment. Other things that I know can worked and have for others are exercise, support groups, and just talking to family and friends.

5. How does your depression affect your life as a mom and your everyday life?

The way it affects my life as a mom would be towards to simple everyday things. Some days I am just too down to want to do anything or leave the house. Don’t get me wrong I am still putting on my fake smile and being the best mom to my son. But some days there may be extra cartoon time and we’re eating McDonalds for dinner. It’s sad because I want to enjoy more of the little things… going to the park etc. but my depression and anxiety hinders me sometimes.

Same goes for my everyday life - I am very controlled and calculated and stress very easily. I can’t just be like oh let’s go to the zoo today. If I wake up on the wrong side, something doesn’t go right, the day is already shot to me. I like to pre-plan and be organized. I know this has to do more with the anxiety but depression hinders you from having a “normal” outlook on day-to-day things.

6. Blogging is definitely a great creative outlet. What other outlets do you have to blow off some steam?

I like to read, write, go to the driving and shooting range, shopping. Sometimes just having a good ol’ vent to a friend is cathartic!

7. Being a freelance writer takes a lot of entrepreneurial skill. What do you love most about the writing industry? What is your biggest obstacle for launching your writing business?

I like that the writing industry is always changing and evolving. Writing and written content is never going to go away. However the biggest obstacle is making sure you are unique. There are TONS of other people out there who can do exactly what you do. You need to differentiate yourself and make sure you are well rounded. I’m still new so growing my business. I also want to take some courses so I can offer my clients and future clients more within house and not have to outsource it.

I currently still work with and for a lot of other clients whereas I hope to have that go the other way around. I work for just me and have people I can eventually contract out. At the end of the day it’s a competitive business (price wise, how many people in your area do the same thing) there are a lot of logistics.

Also networking and knowing the right people is key! That is definitely a huge obstacle.
 

8. Life is one big balancing act. How do you balance having your career and having time to spend with your son?

Ah the word “balance”, I am not sure I ever will have balance or have ever had it to begin with. First off, I am lucky to be able to work from home; however the downside to that though is I am at home! Lol. My son and I literally spending 24/7 together. For the majority of the day it’s focusing on him and running errands and maybe a random work function or task. My real day doesn’t start till about 9pm once he’s in bed.

All about time-management and doing what works for you. I’d love to work during the day, but my son is only little for so long and that time is precious. I am fortunate a lot of work functions take place at night - but for business meetings and calls during the day my son comes with me (for now). Once I start doing better financially I can look at maybe doing drop-in daycare for those important meetings.

Prioritize!!!
 

9. British Columbia is one of the most gorgeous places on earth and you spend a lot of time outdoors. What are your favorite activities to do with your son?

Everyday things. Going to the park, beach, playground, etc. My son loves being outside and we have a great backyard full of toys and outdoor activities for him - endless things for him to consume himself with.

As he gets older I am excited to do more day trips though - go into the city, sight see, take day trips!

10. You and I share a love for writing, and tattoos! What is your favorite piece that you have inked on you and why?

Writing and tattoos really two things I love! I have ten tattoos currently, and have a few in the works. All of mine have some sort of meaning so I cherish each one in a different special way. I have one on my left forearm that says “Ich Liebe Dich, Opa” written in his handwriting. Which means “ I love you, Opa” in German. My Opa has since passed so it’s a nice reminder he is always here with me.

Follow Sam Lenz on Instagram at @snlenz