5 Ways Pets Prepared Me for Motherhood

For years I worked in animal rescue and when I finally took the plunge from fur babies to human babies I quickly learned that those years in animal rescue helped prepare me for the adventures of motherhood (or did they?)

Grooming

You would think clipping hundreds of tiny little cat claws and dog nails would help prepare you for the task of trying to clip tiny little human nails. I’ll take trimming a critter’s nails over those of a squirmy little babe any day. At least with the critters you can wrap them in a towel or lie on top of them and accomplish the job in one sitting. (I don’t think CPS would take too kindly if you tried these methods with your mini human). When trimming the nails of a toddler I am lucky to get one hand’s worth of nails total in one sitting, it takes all week to get all 20 little fingers and toes trimmed and by the time you do accomplish this feat, it’s time to start over.

Rise and Shine

I had a diabetic cat for a period of time that required insulin shots in the morning and evening with his morning and evening meal. This cat would wake me up every morning by sitting on the pillow and meowing next to my head. If I would shoo him away he would sit in the hallway (just outside of sock throwing range) and continue his serenade until I would get my lazy butt out of bed to give him his shot and his breakfast. This helped prepare me for a toddler who bounces awake first thing in the morning, pulls all my covers off, grabs my hand and tugs me out of bed.  (In all honestly both ways are more effective than the alarm clock that has a snooze button.)

Rules Boundaries and Limitations

According to expert dog trainer, Cesar Milan when training dogs you need to give them rules, boundaries, and limitations.  His same theory can be applied to training; um, I mean teaching, your toddlers and small children. You must be the pack leader. You set the rules for the child and if they do not follow the rules they can go to time out (although I don’t suggest using the dog kennel for the child’s time out, again CPS might frown upon this practice). Repetition will be required. When your child masters following commands, um, I mean behaving properly, a trip to the park is a great reward. Unlike with pups I do not recommend using food as a reward during training with children (unless it’s broccoli and mini carrots).

Poo

If you have pets you are already somewhat of an expert at poo, or so you think. Let me warn you cleaning cat boxes and picking up poo in the yard is nothing compared to the bowels of a baby. Hand me the litter scoop and doggie bags any day because I’d much rather clean up that mess than the one in my child’s diaper. I did quickly learn, though, the doggie poo bags are excellent for bagging dirty, smelly diapers.  I promise you one of the best tricks I ever learned was keeping a roll of doggie poo bags in the diaper bag, you never know when they will come in handy.

Unconditional Love

One thing that’s great about our pets is that they shower us with unconditional love. Dogs are super happy to see us when we get home every day, drowning us in slobbery kisses and cats will rub against your legs and purr (especially if you’re near the food bowl to show us they at least tolerate our presence in their house). A child’s response to us is even more heartwarming. Their little eyes light up when we pick them up from daycare and they run uncontrollably around the room screaming and expressing their joy at our return. They throw their little arms around us and smile and laugh. It is in those little smiles and laughs and the almost bursting fullness you feel in your heart that will lead you to realize that this is a love that your pets never even came close to preparing you for.

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All Hail, Another Round of Babies is Coming Forth!

It seems like babies come forth in little swarms and another round of babies are about to make their presence known in this world.  To celebrate I’m passing on a few healthful hints to new mommies (or reminders to veterans if it’s been a while.)

In General

If you are not part of some type of online mommy support network, join one! (This is where I give a shout out to all my NHCM’s!  I love you all!) You make tons of new friends and there is always someone up at 2am, or 3am or 4am when you are in desperate need of some help or a pick me up that will respond to your desperate plea for help.

About Sleeping

-They say to sleep when baby sleeps… YES, do this! Don’t clean or organize or do anything else! SLEEP. (I am still a big fan of this rule and love taking weekend naps with my toddler.)

-Cry it Out is not for everyone.  A lot of people will tell you to let your baby cry themselves to sleep or “self-soothe”.  I am NOT a fan of this method. I just cannot do it and you don’t have to either.  Sarah Ockwell-Smith has a great article about it Here: Self Settling-What really happens when you teach a baby to self soothe to sleep. –

About Breastfeeding and Pumping

-Breastfeeding isn’t easy, try not to get frustrated (which can be so very hard).  Keep Trying and Ask for Help if you need it!  Lactation consultants are great! Also Le Leche League International- is a great resource

-Breastfeeding is messy keep a burp rag nearby.

-There are many different tools that can help make nursing easier, like nipple shields and fenugreek. . . try them if you’re having trouble.  Using tools to help you achieve your breastfeeding goals does not make you defective.

-Pumping sucks, but you should do it if you can, build a stock before you go back to work, it’s amazing how quickly it can deplete.

-Watch the video that comes with your pump. Sometimes it takes two or three or four or five times to figure it out. (Like,oh duh, the dial turns up higher than the stupid little picture above it.)

-Pumping can be messy, keep a burp rag nearby.

-Use your friends who have or do Breastfeed and pump as a resource. They are an invaluable resource!

About Diapers

-They say you will change 8-12 diapers a day in the beginning. I swear it was more and I think sometimes I’m still changing 8 a day.

-Diapers are labeled all sorts of different fancy ways: swaddlers, snug and dry, cruisers etc… I haven’t found much of a difference except the color change indicator is way cool! Most brands seem to be about the same quality. (I didn’t choose to cloth diaper, but to all the moms who do I just want to let you know I think you’re awesome)

-For kicks and giggles put a diaper through the washing machine to see how much they can really hold (Oops, did I really do that? Why Yes. . . Yes, I did).

Cheers and Congratulations!

A Journey in Making Your Own Household Products-Butt Balm

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If you have a baby at some point of another you will experience the dreaded diaper rash.  About 6 months into having a baby and being frustrated with a commercial natural baby diaper rash cream I stumbled across The Hippy Homemaker.  She has an awesome butt balm recipe that works absolute wonders on rash and red baby bums!  You can find her recipe here:
http://www.thehippyhomemaker.com/the-best-homemade-first-time-moms-kit-or-any-new-mother-for-that-matter/

I altered the recipe just a bit and include tea tree oil in mine.  I have also made it with Cocoa Butter as a substitute for Shea butter when I’ve been out of Shea Butter and it doesn’t seem to alter the effectiveness of the balm.

Recipe

1/4 cup of Beeswax
1/2 Cup of Coconut Oil
1/4 Cup of Shea Butter (Or Cocoa Butter if you have that on hand instead)
40 drops of Lavender Essential Oil
30 drops of Chamomile Essential Oil
15 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil (Some people don’t feel comfortable using Tea Tree Oil on babies less than 6 months old so you could leave this one out or half the amount (8 drops) if you want to play on the more cautious side. If you’re making the recipe for a baby over a year you could use as much as 30 drops)

I don’t own a double boiler, so I don’t know how to instruct you on how to use one of those.  I place a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup in a pan of water and bring it to a boil.  First I add the beeswax and make sure it is entirely melted.  This takes a little while.  Second, I add the coconut oil and let it melt in the beeswax while stirring frequently.  Next, I add the Shea Butter (or Cocoa Butter), again, stirring frequently until all the ingredients are completely melted and liquid.  Using a Hot Pad/Potholder remove your Pyrex cup out of the pan of water and set aside.  Add your essential oils and immediately pour the mixture into your container(s).  I always use metal Tins for my containers. If you are going to use a glass or  plastic container remember you are dealing with a  SUPER HOT liquid here and you could possible melt the plastic container, or have the glass crack and hurt yourself if you do not use EXTREME CAUTION.  If you are using a glass or plastic container let the liquid cool a bit before transferring.  The The recipe makes roughly 8 ounces.

Clean Up:  I always immediately wash my utensils after making this as the wax will quickly harden in your glass pyrex cup.  I always triple wash my pyrex cup to be sure there is no traces of essential oil left.  I also have wooden spoons designated specifically for using with essential oils and do not use them for any other cooking.

CAUTION: Always use caution when making products using essential oils for babies and children.  I recommend to ALWAYS dilute oils for babies and children.  A standard rule of thumb is to use 1-2 drops of essential oil per 1 ounce (2 TBSP) of carrier oil.  Some experts recommend not using Tea Tree Oil on children under 6 months while other experts put it on the list of safe oils.  Use your judgement and do your own research!

General Essential Oil Safety:

  • Keep out of reach of children and pets
  • If swallowed immediately contact poison control and do not try to induce vomiting.
  • If product gets in eyes flush with milk than water
  • Keep away from heat 
  • Do not leave in direct sunlight

For more safety tips go to https://www.naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/safety/#general

Disclosure: The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA or any other organization.  Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any diseases.  Readers are advised to do their own research and make their own decisions and refer to their own healthcare provider regarding anything health related.

Find Essential Oils and Carrier Oils at:

Mountain Rose Herbs

FTC disclosure:  I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement/recommendation/testimonial and or link to retail products in this article to support my blogging habit.  I will never link to a retail provider I have not used.  I will only link to providers I would personally recommend

There is a tiny bit of Good Baby Advice

When you are pregnant, and after you have your little bundle of joy, you get bombarded from all directions with unsolicited advice. Friends, family, your doctors and even strangers feel the need to tell you: what you will need, what you will want, what you should and what you shouldn’t do with your baby.  A few words of caution: most of the advice you will receive will be utterly worthless.  Did you read that, utterly worthless! But…a few randomly tossed pieces of advice will stick to you like glue and you will rack your post pregnancy brain to no end trying to remember what saint of a person delivered you such advice so you can send them a Thank You note with a gift card for their genius.

1. Have a diaper party and buy diapers once every paycheck while you are pregnant.  If you aren’t part of the cloth diaper revolution I suggest you start stocking up on diapers!  This technique lets your wallet feel the pain in advance and then if you get in a pinch with money a little later on your baby’s butt can still be covered.  Buy all different sizes newborn-6.  Yes, it will take up some of your precious storage, but let me tell you how awesome it is to NOT have to buy diapers all the time during the first year of baby’s life, you just open the door to the closet and, wham, take your pick.  (On a side note your husband will thank you for not having to make a run to the store in the middle of the night because you thought you had enough diapers to make it through until morning.  He got his fill of that when you sent him for hummus and watermelon at midnight while you were pregnant.)

2. Sleep when baby sleeps.  I think a lot of us have heard this one and don’t think much of it, until we actually do it!  I cannot tell you how much you should heed this advice!  I still do this and my baby is almost two!  Most mothers are sleep deprived and can use every extra wink of sleep they can get.  If you put your baby down for a nap and try to accomplish anything, that little sucker will wake right up, babies have a sixth sense that kicks in anytime you try to get something done and they will immediately put a stop to progress of any kind.  If you sleep while they are sleeping, you feel better and I swear they sleep for longer because they can sense they aren’t missing anything.  (For hands free cleaning try wearing baby in a sling/carrier of sorts.)

3. Get a good baby monitor.  You will appreciate this for the few nights the baby actually sleeps in their own bed. You can spy on your spouse while they are in with the baby, so you know if you need to come flying in to fix something they are doing wrong.  And if you need to go outside for a minute to scream and release a little tension of your own, you can watch your little angel on the monitor to make sure your own screaming doesn’t in turn cause their screaming.

4. Find a good online mommy group and join!  Because, let’s face it, the only other people that are awake at 2:30 in the morning who willimmediately respond to a question you post (because they are also up) is another mom.  If you have a good mommy group you can post all sorts of questions you are too embarrassed to ask your friends or family and you will get NO JUDGEMENT because they know exactly what you are talking about and want to help you through it the best they can!

All the advice on what items you need for baby are opinions.  Different things work for different babies and parents. Take all this advice with a grain of salt (even mine). It’s all trial and error when it comes to yourbaby.  You will hear people say you can’t live without “blah, blah, blah”… but the truth is, if you didn’t know it existed, you might just be able to.

Cheers!

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What to give for a Baby Shower Gift

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Even before I had a child of my own I would sometimes look at people’s baby registry’s and think “Do these people even know what they need for a baby?”  The truth is before you have a child of your own it really can be hard to wade through all the hundreds of baby items that are supposed to simplify your life and figure out what it is you will really need.  When I make up gift baskets for baby showers I try to give the parents to be things I feel like they will actually use.  I also like to try to add a personal touch.

Some of the staples I like to include in a basket of baby goodies are as follows:

Diapers–  You can never have enough diapers and the good thing about diapers is you can give a box of a larger size so the baby can grow into the, babies grow fast and aren’t always in the newborn/1 size for very long so even size 2 or 3 can be appreciated by the parents.  (If you know the parent’s are going to be cloth diapering I would ask them what brand they are looking at using and maybe get them one or two of these or just skip the diapers altogether).

Wipes–  Dirty bottoms, spit up, sticky hands… Wipes are just convenient to have around, everywhere in the house.  My child is almost 2 and I probably have a package in almost every room of the house.  I always go with a natural type of wipe because some babies are super sensitive and I also personally can’t stand the smell of some of the scented wipes.

Bottle/Sippy Cups– Bottles are always good.  Even for a breast feeding mom, bottles are good to have around in case Mom needs a break.  And I promise almost every child at some point will use a sippy cup (even if only in the car).  Everyone has their own opinions of what bottles/Sippy’s are best.  I loved our Advent bottles/Sippy’s, but they are a little pricey compared to some brands. My main recommendation is the less parts the better, it’s easy to forget parts when there are a bunch or lose them and when there are less parts the cups/bottles are easier to keep clean.

Bottle Brush–  I can’t tell you how many bottle brushes we went through with our own babe.  They are inexpensive, but appreciated.  Throw a couple in the package.

Clothes–  Hand me downs are okay to give and are usually greatly appreciated, just make sure they are free from stains and tears and in good condition.  I usually give these in a separate box and don’t include in the basket of goodies.  If you want to buy something new for the babe I recommend buying larger sizes of clothes, anywhere from 12 months-2T.  I promise someone will give the expectant parents really cute newborn size onesies.  What they might not get is larger sizes that they will need in the near future because overnight it seems like your baby grows out of one size and into another.

Blanket– If you are super crafty you can make a blanket.  I haven’t yet attempted this, but instead give light muslin swaddle blankets.  I like the Aden + Anais blankets.  And if you’re anything like me you find that babies come in bunches so you could buy one pack of blankets and split them between goodie baskets.

Books–  You can never have enough books for your child.  Get them one of your childhood favorites, or your child’s favorites.  For children under two I really recommend board books as babies find tearing and eating pages amusing.

Butt Balm–  This is one of my personalized items.  I tried making my own butt balm and found that it works so much better than commercial products I have vowed to never use or promote the commercial products again.  I will warn you if you aren’t into essential oils the butt balm can be a little pricey to make, but it lasts for a long time, so I think it’s worth the investment.  I use a recipe from The Hippy Homemaker, but I also add tea tree oil to mine.  You can find the recipe on her blog at http://www.thehippyhomemaker.com/the-best-homemade-first-time-moms-kit-or-any-new-mother-for-that-matter/ (Also her blog is awesome!)

Homemade Anti-Bacterial Spray–  Another personalized item.  Because really, who wants to use chemicals on or around their tiny newborn?  This can be used on hands or on surfaces and is great to keep tucked in a diaper bag.  I will again refer you to The Hippy Homemaker for the recipe http://www.thehippyhomemaker.com/the-best-homemade-first-time-moms-kit-or-any-new-mother-for-that-matter/

Name Flag– I like being crafty and adding a personal touch so I usually add a little name flag in the basket of goodies.  It isn’t hard or super expensive and it’s something I can hand sew in about half an hour (If the babies name isn’t terribly long).  You can use Felt, Ribbon and pre-cut felt letter that stick on, and I promise everyone likes something with their babies name on it.

Container– When you have a child you can NEVER have enough storage containers.  Give the gift in something that can be used for storage!  A basket, a plastic container with a lid, a sturdy cardboard box with a lid (like photo boxes) anything that can be re-used as storage.

I promise with these few items you can’t go wrong and the gifts will be used and appreciated.

A passion for organicsFTC disclosure: I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement/recommendation/testimonial and or link to retail products in this article to support my blogging habit.  I will never link to a retail provider I have not used.  I will only link to providers I would personally recommend.

My Take On Cry It Out

When people talk about how their “such and such” month old baby sleeps through the night I used to get a little hot and bothered. The ears of the little, green, monster would pop up on my shoulder and I would clench my teeth while silently thinking “Eff you and your baby who sleeps.” I happen to have an almost 2 year old who still doesn’t sleep through the night on a regular basis. I remember a friend texting me when my babe was about 9 months old and hers was a few months old asking me “When did you letbaby sleep through the night?” I almost lost it. How could she ask me a question like that? Did she not see my FB posts at two in the morning because I was up yet again? Did she not remember that I had complained repeatedly about my baby who rarely napped for longer than 30 minutes and didn’t sleep long stretches at night either? I typed back a very long and mean text back and then deleted it because the rational me kicked in and said, you should never say anything in anger, if you can help it (especially not in writing).

After finding a good mommy support group of other mothers and having the discussion on sleeping or non-sleeping babies I soon discovered I was not alone.  I discovered that there are many other mothers out there who are going through exactly what I was. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief, my non-sleeping baby was normal, AND there are other mothers out there who could relate and sympathize with me. (My family doctor also admitted to me that her own son was a non-sleeper during one of my appointments.) Just the gain of this knowledge lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. When you reach out and connect with other people and find out you are not alone your spirit lifts, you gain a little more confidence and you realize you can tackle your problems in a whole new light. (I highly suggest all first time Mom’s find a support group, either one that meets in person or online, and use them!)

Now, with non-sleeping babies comes a slew of advice from other parents on how to get your baby to sleep through the night and the big ones that comes up is “Let the baby cry it out”. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge fan of loud noises and my initial instincts when I’m subjected to loud noises is to make them stop. For me the baby crying feel into this category. It went against my every instinct to let my baby cry while I did nothing.  It felt so incredibly wrong.  Then I read this article http://sarahockwell-smith.com/2014/06/30/self-settling-what-really-happens-when-you-teach-a-baby-to-self-soothe-to-sleep/by SarahOckwell-Smith and I was glad I went with my instincts.

I just couldn’t do cry it out, so I struggled and learned and struggled and learned some more.   For me the biggest challenge was getting the babe to go to sleep. (Although he would wake several times during the night, a quick change of diaper with some patting or cuddling or a bottle with some paddling or cuddling would usually do the trick. On the rare occasion a mid-night episode lasted longer than a few minutes  I figured out fairly quickly it was usually related to illness and I would just suck it up and be up with him.) Back to putting the babe to bed…  I tried a routine.  Bath, then books, nursing or bottle and bed.  He would seem like he was falling asleep while sucking away at the bottle, then BAM, bottle done, AWAKE.  I tried patting him.  I tried rocking him.  I tried walking and singing and bouncing.  I tried combinations of all the above…Sometimes one of these methods would work (after I tried and tried for 30-60 minutes).  Sometimes my methods would fail and I would give up and let him play for a while longer until he tired himself out a little more.  Somewhere along the way I got the idea to just try to tire him out before bedtime with physical play.  I let him play outside every day I can weather permitting.  This seemed to help.  I also tried signing with him when he was a little older giving him a warning before bed time.  I would sign and tell him “after we read these books it will be time for a bottle and to go to bed.”  This seemed to help too.  I figured out he was easily stimulated so it was best to stick to routine and also to limit things like the TV being on.  (Note I say the TV being on.  It doesn’t seem to matter if he is actually watching the TV.  Just it being on seems to rev him up a little, so no TV exposure before bed for him seemed to work better.)  Sometimes using a drop of lavender behind his ears (we do this when treating ear infections) seemed to help him sleep better so I started incorporating a little lavender into our routine. All of the things combined really helped me.  I started to relax and enjoy putting him to bed instead of dreading it.  I realized that being able to cuddle my baby to sleep would only last a short time and I was bound and determined that I was going to enjoy it and not be counting my minutes until freedom.  My change in attitude seemed to help too.  So if you struggle at all with putting your baby to bed, know this: You are not alone and it will get better!

Peace and Blessings and Good Night!