My 3 year old is a mess. 

That’s right. A big, sweet, undeniably cute mess of emotions. Life is simply too big for her to bear at this time, and for the past few months. At first, I wanted to place blame elsewhere. She was in daycare and staying with my parents at times and her granddad at times while daddy and I were working. The day I went on maternity leave (2.5 weeks before little budders even made his appearance), she lost it. And she’s been losing it ever since. I have vowed today to help her find it. 

It’s easy to place blame. Grandparents go easy on the kids and don’t follow the same rules we have set. But that wasn’t the problem, I set too strict of rules. Daycare provided structure, although not one-on-one time, and I wasn’t making up for it at home. She was going through a ton of changes, and I expected it to not make a difference. And now, we are facing the repercussions, and my daughter is lashing out with a fierceness that can no longer be ignored. 

Imagine literally every request you make being met with, “no!” Every. Single. One. This morning, after 1.5 hours of extremely tense interactions this morning while I gritted my teeth and gently led my daughter through our routine, I lost ALL patience. I let her sleep in, we had a leisurely breakfast, she sat around in her panties (all she will wear to bed mind you), and when it came time for her to get dressed she refused. I tried so hard. I even thought warning her may help. “Mommy is getting so close to yelling, can you please just get dressed?” “Nooooooooo! You’re a poo poo!” So I put mister man on the bed and shoved her legs into her pants, put her socks on, brushed her hair and followed her to the bathroom where I brushed her teeth, filled her rinse cup, made her potty, wipe, flush, close the lid, wash her hands, put her shoes on, put her coat on, and by then she put her own back pack on. Micromanaging. She cried, but no more than usual. #choirofscreaming

My sweet girl, I have tried everything. I start the day with so much patience in store, and by noon it’s depleted. I’m easily distracted. I have so much to do in the next 4 months. And you have a 2 month old baby brother. I never meant to slide you down the priority list, it just happened, and you are acting out more and more. I have gotten more and more frustrated in return. We need to make a change. 

So today, let’s start anew. You let your frustrations out and instead of reacting, I will simply observe and be present. When your brother starts joining in what I fondly refer to as “the choir of screaming”, I will simply breathe and concentrate on the fact that you’re only little for so long. Of course that is the type of thing that has always sounded beyond cheesy to me, the more one believes in something, the truer it becomes, right? For the love of all that is good in this world, right??? 

If you have, or have had, a threenager, you know exactly what I mean. And God speed. 

Get Your Newborn to Sleep (Without Tears)

I have learned a LOT since the first time I put a newborn to sleep, and to sleep again, and to sleep again. I am by no means claiming to be an expert but I do know a thing or two. 

First of all, make sure you aren’t keeping your baby up for too long. Their first four weeks or so of life they require even more sleep than you would assume. Have you heard of the EASY method? It’s great. Basically your baby Eats, then has Activity, then Sleeps, which allow you some YOU time! This order is helpful because baby doesn’t rely on feeding/nursing to sleep and means you won’t be nursing a toddler to sleep in the years to come. 

Now comes the timing. Newborns stay awake for 30-60 minutes at a time, from the moment they awaken. This sounds obvious but here’s a scenario: Baby wakes up and is ready to eat. You feed him (typical nursing session is about 30 minutes in the beginning) and change him and wow, it’s time for a nap! But as a first time parent: You feed him, you change him, you play for 30-60 minutes and HOLY CRAP HE IS EXHAUSTED AND MAD AND WON’T SLEEP. But the scary part is, you can go weeks without realizing the baby is just tired. Trust me. I’ve done it. 

You also want to put baby down drowsy. You’ll find it sweet to rock your baby and watch them fall asleep. Don’t be fooled. You can get stuck in this routine several times a day/night for years. Did you catch that? Years. So, get baby swaddled (I recommend swaddle blankets with Velcro to pull it tight), make sure baby is fed and changed, hold baby close until his eyelids are fluttering and his eyes are rolling back (yes it’s a bit terrifying), then lay him down. Wherever you want him to be sleeping (bassinet, pack n play, crib), lay him down there every time from the beginning. It will be hard to get up several times a night and go to a crib if the room is on another floor (like our situation…) so I would recommend starting them by the bed or in the same room. Regardless, this is how you don’t get stuck with them only sleeping on you. 

I mentioned swaddling. This is a very big deal. There are many options but my favorite is the Velcro swaddle sack. We used the brand Ziggybaby this go ’round and have been very happy (every nap and night since about 2 weeks old) and the Velcro is just now starting to wear. I have heard good things about Muslin blankets but haven’t splurged on those. Babies enjoy feeling squished like they are in the womb again and it also helps with their startle reflex. 

Babies also have periods of very light sleep that wakes them up at certain intervals: 10 minutes, 45 minutes, and when they’re well rested and just generally wake up. This is important to know because if your baby is anything like mine he may be getting over tired and waking at that 10 minute mark over and over. When you are aware of such an issue, you can be prepared and help soothe baby back to sleep because you’re there waiting at that point! They eventually learn how to sleep through that point but some babies take some guidance. The 45 minute wake up is some babies “thing”. They take more naps than longer sleepers and they are brief. Learn to work around it. I made the mistake of trying to convince my baby to sleep when he just wasn’t wanting to. Forty-five minutes goes quick. My little one likes a short nap in the morning after his big sleep and wakes up content! Whatever works for you and your babe. 

I hope you can learn from my mistakes. These are the most important facets of newborn sleep I have learned through two babies. What else do you do? Suggestions? Bueller? 

Those early morning people. 

I never thought I would be one. I have always been the person who sleeps until noon if given the chance (uh, once a year? I’m a mom…). After my daughter was born, my husband and I lost a LOT of sleep. I mean, more than average. She. Was. Terrible. Thank goodness she’s cute. When she turned two, maybe she was two and a half, she started sleeping. And I mean really sleeping. She slept until 10:00am, sometimes 11:00. It was also summer, so the older kids were out of school. So we slept. And I felt guilty, but I was pregnant. So we slept. Those were the days. 

Flash forward to now. Budder beans is here and let me tell you, he’s been a great night sleeper. His naps are hit or miss and usually happen on me in the carrier. But can you really be upset when little man is sleeping at night?! Granted, he sleeps next to our bed still and sometimes in the bed (he’s still feeding twice a night, sometimes a little more), but at least he’s asleep. He goes to bed about 8:30-9:00 at night and generally sleeps until 8:30-9:00 in the morning. 

So yesterday I tried to get up early and get him and his sister ready and out the door by 8:00. Well we left at 8:30, not bad, but by the time I got the three year old to school and budder beans to my parents and fed and changed it was 10:30. What?! My goal was to get to the gym. So after debating it, I finally went at 11:00. I had woken up at 6:15 and FIVE HOURS LATER, I was working out. Where in the world did that time go? 

Today, I had a different plan. I was leaving the kids behind. They are time suckers. So I woke at 6:15 and budders was ready to eat. It’s as if he has a sixth sense. I fed him, got dressed and brushed my teeth, and raced out the door. I worked out for 30 minutes, showered, and even did my hair and makeup! I returned home at 8:15 to a quiet house. Success! Within 15 minutes, little miss was awake and yelling “Mom! You forgot to get me up!” Haha! 

So the busy day has begun, but I think I found something that works. My husband gets to sleep in a bit, I have kid-free time, and I get to exercise. 

Now next week when his schedule is no longer consistent it will all change. Isn’t that how it always goes? Within a couple of weeks, budder beans nap schedule will shift. A few weeks after that the kids are out of school and on and on and on. 

As a parent you have to be flexible. Sometimes that means waking up earlier than you ever thought you would. And it definitely means stretching every morning. 

How to take a shower as a mom…

First, the children must be fed to avoid all hell breaking loose. Inevitably a meltdown will occur due to the choices your toddler is presented for the meal. Even though you have tailored half of your pantry and refrigerator to their “needs” (princess yogurt, cute tiny apples, popcorn, grapes, quasi-healthy cereal with cute birds on it, etc), they are never satisfied. So you slap a turkey hotdog and granola bar on a plate and call it lunch. You plop a boob into the baby’s mouth, and sip your cold coffee. Because: motherhood. 
While your boob is in the baby’s mouth you plan things. You think, “After this, I will lay the baby down for a nap and turn on a cartoon for the toddler and take a nice hot shower.” Your mind is drooling at the thought. Ok, so baby is done and you give him a good burp. You get him changed into a clean diaper. You make sure the toddler has gone potty so there are no accidents during your completely unnoticed disappearance. Toddlers love watching tv in their parents bed. Turn on the television, announce where you will be, wait for a response, and nothing. When a toddler is watching tv, nothing else transmits. Toddler occupied, check. 
Time to lay the baby down. You know this will be a struggle. This kid wants nothing more than to be strapped to your chest 24/7. The goal is for him to sleep in his bassinet next to the bed. So, start rocking. Rock Rock Rock. Eyes closing. Rock more. Very drowsy. Lay him down NOW or you miss your window. If he falls asleep and you lay him down, he will awaken, if not immediately, soon. He will be totally ticked off you tricked him and make life quite difficult. If he’s too awake, you’ll lay him down and he will pop his eyes back open and scream in your face because you’re obviously a terrible mom. Did you time it right? Let’s assume you did.

 Tip toe to the bathroom and close the door, THEN turn on the light, baby cannot sense any sudden movements. Whew. You’re so close now. Start the shower while you take off each layer of clothing containing its own level of disgust. The spit up covered hoodie, the shirt your toddler used to wipe her nose, your nursing tank top wet with milk leakage, your pants with bits of dried food from who knows what, your underwear that still have a postpartum pad inside, and when you see your body in the mirror you wonder what the hell happened. We don’t have time for those thoughts today, so you go ahead and step into that gloriously hot shower. Ah. Luxury. What’s that? A knock at the door? Come in, you say to your toddler. She enters with a question, “Can I get a snack?” You say, “Yes, now go on so mommy can shower!” Back to sweet, sweet bliss. 
Over the sound of the water you hear what sounds like baby cries. Crap. Leap out of the shower and open the door, dripping water everywhere, and nothing. He’s sleeping. Ok, good. Back to serenity. Get your hair and face washed, lather up your loofah and there’s another knock at the door, followed by, “Mommy!” Say, “Come on in, child!” Your toddler walks in with a grin on her face and says, “Look at my nails!” That’s right, they’re painted. What a hack job, you think. Then you realize they’re still wet. WHAT?! Ok, you’re getting close to clean so give the kid a wet washcloth and tell her to wash her face while you finish up. Believe me, this can entertain a child for a good bit. 

Ok so you’re washing up now, smelling good. The toddler is contained so you think you can shave your legs. Get started with that and say something to your toddler like “Whatcha doing now?” No response. “Hello???” No response. Peek outside of the curtain and see the door open and cotton balls strewn everywhere. Stop the shaving (I’m sure no one will notice that one leg is shaven and the other is not, and if so, who cares anymore?) and dry yourself as quickly as possible. Look into the bedroom to see your toddler standing next to the bassinet and saying, so excitedly, “Look mommy! He’s awake now!” 

You have some soap left in your hair, we’ll call it perfume if anyone asks what the smell is, but you feel like a million bucks. Pick the baby up and wander naked to your closet to grab the first clean clothes you can find (they’re probably maternity pants and one of your rotation of three nursing tanks). You never got to the makeup part, much less the drying your hair part, but it’s ok. You’re clean. Your babies are happy. And all of this took about 6 minutes. So now you have the rest of the day to attempt one load of laundry, or half washing the dishes. You know, something obviously productive. Bravo, mom, bravo!

This (not so) stay at home mom

I’ve been trying to find time to write my first post, and as I’m breastfeeding my nearly 8 week old son, I thought, “What better time to write about lactating and life?” As a stay at home mom, who never stays home, time can be hard to come by. I had an inkling of guilt when dropping my 3 year old off at preschool today. Why? Maybe it was the fact that her 6 and 10 year old stepsisters and baby brother came in with me. You see, when I signed her up for school, I didn’t realize the older kids had a teacher workday. I wanted her to start the week before I went back to work to make sure everything would run smoothly. I was going to drop baby brother off at the sitter as well and head to work to put my work station back together. As it turns out, I didn’t go back to work, and she thrives in the school environment (even just part time), so here we are:  
She couldn’t be happier about going back to school! 

You see, I’ve been working as a hairdresser at a kick ass salon for the few months before I gave birth in December. My coworkers were amazing, my bosses were seriously nice, and I had clients who hugged me. Oh, and the pay was superb, well, when we were busy. That combination is rare. But after having my son, and actually being successful with breastfeeding, I couldn’t do it. You see, I stayed home with my daughter for two years. “Stayed home” is used very loosely here as well. I took college courses, cleaned houses, and played home health aid to my father those first two years. I also tried my best to breastfeed her, but unfortunately misinformation and stress stunted that process. This time, I get milk drunk faces:   

So here I am, lactating like a mother! A type A mother who can’t sit still, and certainly can’t let her mind be restless. As I have had more down time than I can stand, I have decided to return to my roots. I was the kid who ran to her room after school to catch up on my novel or to write poetry. English class was always my favorite. My father, since having his major brain stem stroke at the ripe age of 39, has become an author. I edit his manuscripts and I illustrate his book covers. We like to bounce ideas back and forth. 

It struck me: I can write from home. I can do what I love and maintain the life that I love. Unfortunately, I haven’t written anything except coursework in years. I realized I needed a portfolio, so in my efforts to produce a portfolio, clear my head, and develop a much needed creative outlet, I started this blog.  

I wanted a cutesy title that captured my essence (don’t we all), and in my search for something that rhymed with lactation, I quit. What can I say? Rhymes with lactation has that special ring to it.