weekend round up
We had a true suburban weekend! Check out what we wore + used below! I love and highly recommend each of these products. We own everything below, other than the girl options.
weekend round up
We had a true suburban weekend! Check out what we wore + used below! I love and highly recommend each of these products. We own everything below, other than the girl options.
I love H&M, and it shouldn't come as a surprise as the boy's wardrobe is pretty much all H&M plus a little Janie + Jack here and there. Charlie is pretty skinny but 70th percent for height. He is turning three in October and fits in size 12-18 months. I sized up and bought his back to school clothes in size 1.5-2-year-old so we can get more wear out of these. H&M runs very big. Charlie goes to a school where they spend most of the day outdoors. This rain suit is fantastic as they spend hours in the rain. We usually buy hunter rain boots, but they are pretty expensive, and H&M has very similar ones which I added.
I'm kind of in the less is more camp right now with kid's clothing. Charlie could care less around what he wears, and in the past, we've had too many options. I'm purchasing a bunch of these polo shirts which I plan on monogramming. His school uniform will consist of those + pants. Keeps our back to school process E-A-S-Y. I added some sweaters and sweatshirts for fall weather.
THE POINT , ADULT SUMMER CAMP
“Each meal is an event, each day an adventure, each night a celebration. It is simply stunning, majestic in its breathtaking setting, gracious in its delivery and so very original…a place like no other.”
A few weeks ago we experienced the trip of a lifetime and it was driving distance from our home in New Canaan, CT. Just five hours away, though the Adirondacks, was somewhere I had never been. Our plan for a summer kid free getaway of a few nights was going to consist of a quick trip to Nantucket. As Ray and I thought more about what we wanted to experience during our time away together, the number one thing was relaxing together, something we rarely experience these days. Nantucket is beautiful but the week after 4th of July is very busy and didn’t fit the bill. However, I was very hesitant to do the Adirondacks. Ray talked me into it and I’m so glad he did!
Ray and I believe that it’s really important for our marriage to occasionally take some get away time for just the two of us. This type of mini vacation gives us time to reconnect as a couple and give some TLC to our relationship which happens to be the foundation of our family. If we are not heathy and strong as a team, then parenting and offering the kids a happy home can be difficult. Every couple has certain topics that can set off fireworks. These topics can create stress in your relationship, the last thing you need on vacation. We have a date night + vacation rule: No speaking about these topics during either. It’s not that I am recommending to not address obstacles in your relationship, but I am saying there is a time and a place. A kid free parent vacation is sacred because for us they do not happen that often. Keeping it fun and lighthearted is at the top of our agenda. Another rule we try to implement is going to a no kids property. The last thing we want is to be reminded that we left our kids behind. Not seeing babies and toddlers really helps us disconnect during our guilt free getaway.
When Ray stumbled upon The Point online, I knew it was a perfect fit. For us, quality is always valued over quantity during kid free getaways. We have a lot less time for these trips now that we are parents. Our 10 day vacations pre kids are now 3-4 days long, so we need to make the most of them. The Point is also an adult only property. Insert thumbs up emoji here :)
A week prior to our trip, I received a call from The Point. I remember being incredibly excited the moment I hung up the phone. I forgot what it was like to be truly taken care of as a mom of two young children. Our conversation went something like this:
The Point: “Hi, Mrs. Ariola. We are looking forward to your stay. We wanted to get an understanding of the activities you might be interested in. We have many on the property, but we can make absolutely anything happen. You name it and we will look into meeting your needs.”
ME: hmmmmmm... What do you have? (I was a little thrown off. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to just “play” in life).
The Point: Archery, fishing, waterskiing/wake boarding , axe throwing, also we can arrange a private lunch on an island, or take one of our wooden electric boats and have a picnic right on the boat. If the weather is bad, we also have an alcove boat you can dine on.”
ME: (mouth and eyes wide open) Are you serious? All of the above!!!!
The Point: Wonderful. What kinds of special food or alcohol would you like to have? We can bring in almost anything, so if there are any specifics you can let me know.
ME: BLTs + Mezcal? ( I mean I was clearly put on the spot lol, it’s been a long time since I’ve been catered to)
The Point: Wonderful. Just to let you know, we do have black tie, multi course dinners on Wednesday and Fridays. We look forward to seeing you.
I remember hanging up the phone and thinking WOW!! This place is going to be pretty freaking special. I felt such a feeling of warmth come over me. Probably similar to how a seven year old feels the night before Disney.
When we arrived, we immediately knew we were at an incredibly special place. We played it cool for our mini tour of the property and Upper Saranac Lake. However, the moment our camp guide left our room, we looked at each other and mouthed, O.M.G.!!!
The Point was built by the Rockefeller family as a 75 acre secluded woodland retreat during the era of the Adirondack Great Camps. Today, it is the perfect balance of rustic simplicity and extraordinary luxury. The Point is designated as Forbes only 5-star resort in Upstate New York and is a Relais & Chateaux property. Stepping onto the property at The Point like walking onto a Ralph Lauren styled shoot. The quality of service is something I’ve never experienced in my life. There is no detail that is overlooked. Think Dirty Dancing + Ralph Lauren + The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel all in one property. The property only has 11 rooms and we had our own “camp guide” that made sure we were taken care of around the clock. Absolutely anything we wanted to do, our camp guide made happen in a matter of minutes. “Oh wait you rather have rose champagne, no problem brb.” We met some of the other guests, all of whom were lovely. Ages ranged from people in their 30’s all the way to 80 year olds. We all connected over a beautiful seven course black tie dinner.
The magnificent guest rooms are housed in four log buildings on the peaceful wooded shore of Upper Saranac Lake. The Point is a study in delicious contrasts: exceptional meals, blazing campfires at the edge of the lake, artworks and antiques, snowshoes and skis for winter exploration of the magical white forest, and so much more. Enjoy gourmet picnic excursions, journeys through the rippling waters in gleaming mahogany boats, and a staff that organizes each day according to the pleasure of the guests. It is truly a gem.
Things we loved: We felt like we were on someone’s estate which had such a warm positive energy. It was extremely laid back. Most guests were in bathing suits and shorts or sweatshirts later in the day. I was definitely dressed up compared to others. We could order anything from the kitchen at any time of day and the chef encouraged guests to come stop by to check out what was being prepared. (The food was incredible - using my NYC standards) We had a guide that made our time there effortless. We had so much fun!! The type of fun you had when you were a child, just good old carefree fun. Kick the can, ghost in the graveyard fun which we both agreed, we had not experienced in years.
The setting is incredible. Upper Saranac Lake is easily the most beautiful lake I’ve been on. I’m the mom that stays out at the pool and ocean most of the summer. Ray does the “water” parenting. One day at the point and this mama was wake boarding, wake surfing, rock jumping, and rope swinging. Because of the small close knit feeling The Point offers, we felt like we were having a private experience during most of our stay. Lastly, we loved the staff. We felt like we were hanging out with our friends during every interaction.
I would recommend The Point a million times over. Though you might shy away from the price, it included absolutely everything you heart desires and is worth every penny. Now I just need to go back for the fall and winter!
Lastly, (two examples of the extraordinary service in this non- tipping property)
1) I mentioned where we were staying prior to our time at The Point (the other property was an hour away) during our initial phone conversation. I could not find my sandals prior to our trip so I ordered a pair of sandals which arrived at The Point a day early. The Point hand delivered the sandals all the way to the other property, so I could get them immediately.
2) Ray mentioned to me that we would need to get gas on the way out. Much to our surprise, when our car was delivered to us from valet for the trip home our empty tank was completely FULL. We both looked at eachother and shook our heads in disbelief. We left with a full meal for the road and full hearts ready to reembrace our little munchkins!
We fell in love with The Point and hope to return one day soon.
Activities we enjoyed:
relaxing on a hammock
Touring the lake on the house Hacker Craft
Taking a boat out ourselves to go rock jumping
Water sports: wake boarding + wake surfing
Taking a boat to a picnic on a private island with 2 bottles of champagne + tacos (my favorite) + warm cookies
Black tie seven course meal (incredible)
Picnic on an electric wooden boat
Reading on an electric wooden boat
Sodium lauryl sulfate, a popular surfactant found in shampoos, has been linked to birth defects in animal studies.
Synthetic fragrances which may contain phthalates (Phthalates may alter hormone levels)
The preservative, methylisothiazolinone (MIT) In scientific studies, MIT inhibited the growth of rats’ nerve cells
Pregnant or not, choosing a safe shampoo and conditioned is important because your hair follicles provide entry points into your skin, so these chemicals could easily enter your body. Keep in mind it's even more important you are confident in your hair care products because these are products you will be using on a weekly basis throughout your pregnancy. That being said, navigating the lists of ingredients on beauty products seems to be more of an art, something many of us do not want to spend time doing.
1. Less is more when it comes to daily hair care
2. I keep it as natural as possible with chemical free products
3. I also try and go as long as possible between washes. If I don't do an intense workout, with my thick coarse hair I can get by for about five days after a good blowout.
4. I try to let my hair air dry as much as possible. I blow out my hair around once or once every other week.
5. If I let my hair air dry but I have a meeting or event I just run a Drybar curling iron through it, SHOP HERE.
I just started using a shampoo, conditioner, and leave in conditioner I’m loving. The shampoo really gets your hair clean, only one wash is needed. I think this would be an especially great line if your hair is hard to really get clean. I struggle with build up on my scalp and this line really helped with that. The conditioner and leave in conditioner leave your hair feeling hydrated without getting that feeling that it’s being weighed down. I asked the team behind the Be Chic line and they shared that the fatty acids and rich vitamins found in coconut oil protect and moisturize hair during the cleaning ritual. Coconut binds to the hair proteins and helps remove dirt and excess oils without stealing your hairs natural beauty. You can find the full line of products, HERE. I wash my hair 1 to 2 times per week using this line and I use the leave in conditioner 1 time per week.
The best way to extend my color between highlights is with purple shampoo. If you have blond highlights or your brown highlights tend to get warm purple shampoo will do the trick to tone down your hair at home. I try and wash my hair with purple shampoo and conditioner once per week. Let the shampoo sit on for a few minutes. Here is my go-to purple SHAMPOO + CONDITIONER. Purple shampoo can give your highlights LIFE I highly recommend you add it to your weekly routine.
Keratin is something I've been doing for years. When I was pregnant with both boys it was the number one thing I missed! It honestly is life changing, especially for my other curly or thick haired mamas. I highly recommend getting a treatment done (if you are not pregnant or breastfeeding). It takes a few hours so schedule the time, but it’s worth it. Most times your hair is treated with the solution, you are put under a dryer, and then your hair is blow dried and straightened with a flat iron to seal in the product. The results in the photo were taken before my first wash. My hair is very curly so after my first wash my hair was still very wavy, all the keratin does is help cut the frizz and make your hair more manageable. It also cuts your blow dry time in half. When I lived in the city the salon I went to used Lasio Mocha Silk (wash in 24 hours). I love this brand. Recently I went to Becker Salon in Greenwich, CT where I also had good results though I don’t know which brand they used. If you are pregnant/breastfeeding or would rather not use harsh chemicals on your hair then I’ve also heard wonderful things about Magic Sleek, HERE. They recommend you run the list of ingredients by your doctor first, HERE. Keratin is an investment but you get your money back in the amount of time you save spent on maintenance.
I dye my roots at home to cover my grays. I’ll share all the details in a following post but I would recommend you ask your hair dresser for the brand she uses when she dyes your hair. Ask for brand, your shade, step by step process, and have her order it for you in bulk or buy on amazon. It sounded so intimidating at first but it’s incredibly easy and my hair has looked so great each time. My hair dresser was ok with this because I don’t have the time to go into the salon every two weeks. I still give her a good amount of business with my balayage appointments. I love balayage! It brightens up your face and I think it looks much more natural on brunettes then foil highlights. Think of it as free painting highlights to really get that natural sun kissed look. I’ve been doing this for years. If you’ve never done highlights or balayage and you have brown hair give it a try! It really brightens up my face drastically.
Happy Friday mamas! Hope you enjoyed this post about how I maintain my hair. May your weekend be filled with as many kisses from your babies as possible.
CHICWISH, MY GUIDE TO SUMMER SHOPPING
I placed my first order at Chicwish 2 years ago as we were getting ready to leave for our summer vacation. I was thinking about summer shopping this year when it dawned on me that the few pieces I ordered were not only my most worn items over the last 2 years but also my most complimented pieces.
Chicwish is a great place to find clothing that is inspired by many high fashion items but for a fraction of the price. It comes from China so it does take a few weeks to get to you but in my opinion it’s worth the wait. I’ve never shopped their winter line but their summer clothing has exceeded my expectations. Check out their instagram and pictures of people wearing their clothing on their site below the listed item so you can get a better sense of how it looks IRL. This is kind of a hit or miss place but I’ve had a high success rate. Everything I order has been TTS.
I have all of these items + highly recommend. Everything is under $79. The long floral dress is inspired by a Zimmerman dress. The Zimmerman dress retails for $700 and mine was $79. I’ve seen the Zimmerman dress IRL and they look identical.
THE BIG NEWS
A year after a very lonely winter with a newborn, I decided to take a chance. I started the Mrs. Nipple blog and community because I felt like there wasn’t a space to connect with new moms during pregnancy and that first year home with a newborn. I also remembered having a million questions when I was pregnant. While registering, I so wanted to connect with real moms and not just websites filled with information. I was also blown away by the amount of women running small baby companies and so passionate about innovative baby products. I launched Mrs. Nipple November of 2017.
It’s been an incredible few years! I’ve loved every minute of this journey and will still be continuing to focus on Mrs.Nipple, even with this new venture.
Over the last few years as I started learning more and more about blogging, I became extremely passionate about the business aspect of blogging and the influencer space. I also started doing a great amount of networking with brands. One common theme I heard from small, medium, and large sized companies was the obstacles they faced when trying to find influencers that both align with their brands and deliver results.
This didn’t surprise me. After over a year of market research, it was very clear that from a brand perspective it’s very hard to weed out the influencers from the people who want to be influencers but just inflate their follower count, likes and comments with unethical strategies. From a brand perspective, follow count, likes, and comments are how many brands decide if they want to work with an influencer. However there are more important metrics on which brands should be focused. At Mrs. Nipple + Co we’ve developed a vetting system which analyzes multiple data points so brands can be confident in their partnerships in the influencer space.
At Mrs. Nipple + Co. we also developed the highest level of respect for so many bloggers that are busting their backsides every single day with hundreds or even thousands of real likes, comments and followers but are having to compete with knock off influencers who hurt this entire market. I wanted to work with brands to help them develop an influencer strategy they can feel good about and help connect them with authentic influencers who are moms.
What I soon realized was millennial moms are all influencers in their own right. We naturally love talking about everything mom and what’s working and what’s not. That’s why I’m launching the first social media agency, Mrs. Nipple + Co. that is open to bloggers, mom coaches (anyone that guides a mom or mom to be in any way), and the everyday mom (moms that love telling their mom friends and family about everything baby). I wanted this entire community to have a space at Mrs. Nipple + Co. and be able to connect all of you with mom brands, either with paid partnerships or to sampling programs with access to free product. There really is something for everyone! So, if you are a blogger, a mom coach, or an everyday mom head to, www.mrsnippleandco.com to sign up to become part of the Mrs. Nipple + Co. influencer agency and sign up for potential brand collaborations.
For brands, please visit www.mrsnippleandco.com to learn more about Mrs. Nipple + Co. I would love to connect. Not only am I developing an incredible roster of moms to work with but if you want to keep your influencer efforts in-house I also offer a one day course called, “The Goodies". Where I both develop an influencer strategy for your brand and teach you the ins and outs of navigating the influencer space.
NIP PICKS X AMAZON FASHION
BEACH GEAR FOR THE BABES
DISCLAIMER: I HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH SOME BUT NOT ALL PRODUCTS LISTED BELOW. SOME CAME RECOMMENDED FROM MOMS IN THE MRS.NIPPLE COMMUNITY + I FOUND OTHERS. I HAVE RESEARCHED EACH PRODUCT + FEEL THEY WOULD BE GREAT ADDITIONS TO YOUR BEACH GEAR!
KIDS & TEETH
After high school I had zero clue of what I wanted to do in life. I mean I wanted to get married and have babies, but in order for that I needed to find my future spouse and I hadn’t yet. I was a typical teenager working a minimum wage job, somewhat attending classes at community college, and trying to figure out my next step. Then, one day I decided to just get out of my comfort bubble and go to career college to be a registered dental assistant! I was so proud of myself for making it through school, graduating with honors, passing all three tests-one being hands on and terrifying for me, and then finding a job as a pediatric assistant!
I had no idea what was all involved in the pediatric field, but I learned quickly and even became the back office supervisor and lead assistant. Pediatric dentistry involves infants and children, children with special needs, and adults with special needs. I saw everything from a hospital setting for special needs, toddlers being put under general anesthesia for full mouth dental work, and parents that just did not care. It became too emotional for me and I needed to do something else in life. It was such a good learning step in life for me though.
In my almost 4 years working in the field I learned so much about dentistry. I have tried my best to take what I learned and put it to use with my own sons. I haven’t found a local pediatric dentist yet, but that’s next on my list. I wanted to share tips with other mamas because without working in the field I wouldn’t know any of this either. Diet and hygiene are huge in taking care of teeth!
Finding a dentist:
Find a pediatric dentist through the American dental association, not just a dentist that says they see kids too. A play area does not mean they are trained in pediatric dentistry.
Never leave your child. I’ve heard stories of children being strapped down, luckily I worked in an office that didn’t believe in this.
Brushing– 2 times a day, if you want to battle just once, pick night to remove everything from the day! Start when they get their first tooth, you can use a cloth to wipe teeth, a finger toothbrush, or a soft toothbrush.
What to use: ” For children younger than 3 years, parents and caregivers should begin brushing children’s teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice.” ADA
For children 3 to 6 years of age, parents and caregivers should dispense no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Teeth should be brushed thoroughly twice a day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Children’s brushing should be supervised to ensure that they use the appropriate amount of toothpaste.
How to brush: toddlers are hard! I battle my 17 month old every night! Make it as fun as possible! Stand behind them and brush that way. Make sure to brush in circle type motion, not just back and forth. The top teeth are more sensitive! Eventually they will get use to it if you do it daily!
Flossing– only worry about this if their teeth touch. If they have gaps, no need yet!
What to use: any floss, the pickers will be the easiest!
Diet: Diet plays a HUGE role in cavities!
What causes the most cavities:
Apple juice should never be given! It has SO much sugar, and it’s what caused a lot of problems. I saw it daily.
Never give anything Gummie- even vitamins!
Soda as we all know has a lot of sugar-the lighter in color the more sugar!
Of course, on occasional anything is okay. These should never be consumed daily.
A few good snack ideas:
Yogurt- although check the sugar, Greek yogurt is most likely the best option.
Peanut butter- natural
Water or milk to drink only, and make sure brush after final milk at night.
“It’s genetic, our family just has bad teeth!”
I heard this SO much. Sure, your family may have bad teeth, but it’s not genetic. Children do however get their mothers bacteria, meaning without good hygiene or diet, their chance is higher from cavities. Once again mom is to blame, not dad. Orthodontic wise is a totally different story!
I am in no way an expert, but this is what I learned from working in the pediatric dental field. Hope these tips can help more mamas out there! Tickle those sugar monsters away, their health depends on you.
Check out The Brushies Finger Puppet Brush and Book ! So fun for kids!
MY GO TO FOR HATS & BAGS
WHAT I WORE
I SIZED UP FOR THIS LACE TOP. THIS PIECE IS WELL MADE AND WILL NOT GO OUT OF STYLE, SHOP IT HERE
I’VE HAD THESE JEANS FOR OVER FIVE YEARS. THEY ARE EXTREMELY SLIMMING BECAUSE OF THEIR LOOSE FIT. I ENDED UP GETTING THIS SAME CUT IN THE WHITE WASH AS WELL. THEY ARE A SLIM BOYFRIEND CUT. HERE ARE THE ONES I WORE (ALMOST IDENTICAL), HERE. HERE ARE SOME OTHER OPTIONS HERE AND HERE. YOU CAN CHECK OUT EVERY WASH IN THIS SAME FIT I LOVE, HERE. (IT’S THE EMERSON FIT)
I WAS GIFTED THIS BEAUTIFUL BAG BY PERSIFOR IT IS HAND MADE IN COLOMBIA YOU CAN FIND IT ON ETSY, HERE
I’VE ALSO HAD THESE WHITE SNEAKERS FOR YEARS. ANOTHER STAPLE. I’VE WASHED THEM OVER 5 TIMES AND THEY ARE STILL IN GREAT SHAPE. SHOP THEM HERE.
THE HAT I’M WEARING IS HAT ATTACK. THEY ARE MY FAVORITE HAT BRAND. YOU CAN CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE, HERE.
YOU MIGHT HAVE SEEN ME WEARING MY UGG RAIN JACKET ON SUNDAY. IT’S ANOTHER STAPLE OF MINE. I BOUGHT IT FOR IRELAND A FEW YEARS AGO. IT ACTUALLY KEEPS YOU DRY, NEVER WRINKLES, AND IS EXTREMELY EAST TO PACK. SHOP IT, HERE.
I HAD SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT THE EARRINGS I WAS ROCKING ON FRIDAY. THEY ARE REALLY COOL BUT SLIGHTLY HEAVY….OBVIOUSLY WORTH IT :) YOU CAN FIND THEM HERE.
PARENTING WITH ANXIETY BY CAROLYN STACK MATERNAL WELLNESS RN
I am so excited to share this piece today for so many reasons.
It will 100 percent help every mom dealing with anxiety that will read this
It will help those be better support systems to those who are living with anxiety
It’s written by my sisters best friend who is basically my older sister because being four years younger than your sister makes all her BFFS your sisters as well. Carolyn seriously makes every person around her laugh and smile. She has a larger than life personality that makes you just simply want to be near her at all times. When you read Carolyn’s story below you will find that she lives with anxiety but it does not define her. She has dedicated her life to help those around her.
Carolyn is a Maternal Wellness Nurse at The Center for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, NJ. One of only 10 comprehensive programs in the entire country for PMADS. She is a two time survivor of Postpartum Anxiety, Intrusive Thoughts and Birth Trauma. She is a maternal mental health advocate and a peer group facilitator for The Bloom Foundation for Maternal Wellness. She lives at the Jersey Shore with her 2 little boys and amazing unicorn of a husband who helped her out of the dark.
Parenting with Anxiety: Coming Along for the Ride.
You know that meme about anxiety that goes something like, “Hold on. I’ve gotta overthink about it.” ? That’s pretty much me. The majority of the time. In some form, anxiety has always accompanied me on my journeys. Sometimes in the back seat quietly peaking its head up over my shoulder every once in while, and other times, like when I suffered from severe postpartum anxiety and intrusive thoughts, it has been the pilot of this ship. For the most part, I had a pretty good handle on my anxiety in my early 30’s. Life was moving along nicely. That was until I had kids. There’s nothing like babies and kids and pregnancy and childbirth and PARENTHOOD to wake up that backseat driver and push you right out of the front seat. But if you have anxiety as a parent it doesn't mean you have to always be teetering on the edge - holding on for dear life from that shriveled up fossilized french fry you've found lodge into the carseat. Postpartum goddess and guru, Karen Kleinman, author of Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts, says it best: “Recognizing and understanding your anxiety might mean the difference between unnecessary suffering and healthy coping.”
So what does parenting with anxiety mean for me? It means a lot of self care. And I don't mean in the form of manicures and massages and GNO’s (although don't get me wrong - these are important much needed time outs that can FEED your soul). I’m talking about the type of self care that involves doing the hard work, the heavy lifting. For me it means still going to therapy every other Monday to make myself accountable for my anxiety and to figure out what I can do to make it better. It means that I do a lot of checking in, grounding and mindfulness when I feel my brain going to that place. Stoping. Taking a deep breath. Fact checking what my brain is telling me vs what is really going on. ANXIETY IS A LIAR, and when we take the power away from our thoughts, they become that, just thoughts.
If I feel my heart starting to race or a tightness in my chest, it means pressing pause on whatever I'm doing and (if possible) splashing some water on my face, sticking my head in the freezer ( silly sounding but totally effective), or using some yummy smelling hand cream to get in touch with my five senses and to ground myself back to the present.
Sometimes doing my best also means taking medication. There is SO MUCH stigma around medication - everyone, everywhere wants to be the one who “doesn’t need it” - myself included for a long time. I would advocate for everyone else, but when it was my turn to take that little white pill I’d come up with every excuse in the book. My favorite analogy for taking medication for anxiety goes something like this: “I wear glasses. Can I manage without glasses? Well, yes, probably. I could squint a lot, constantly move up close to anything I want to see…I could just accept that I’ll never be able to see eagles flying in the sky or whales jumping out of the ocean.But why? Why try so hard to manage life when I could just put on a pair of glasses? No one would ever suggest a near-sighted person should just work harder. No one would say ‘Maybe that’s just your normal’ to someone that needs glasses. They would say ‘Let’s go to the eye doctor and get you a prescription so you’re able to see again.’ So, I’m here to tell you its ok. Its ok to take medication. Its one tool in your toolbox. It doesn't make you weak. It makes you strong, mama.
Sleep. I know that sleep is huge for me, so making sure that I get at least seven hours a night is a must. No screen time right before bed (easier said than done) so my mind can relax. I found checking Insta or FB right before I went to bed made my mind race with all sorts of thoughts. Find a little nighttime ritual that sets your body up for a deep sleep. We play ambient sounds thru Alexa and use some lavender spray on the sheets before bed. You could always put on your essential oils diffuser or do a quick mindful meditation thru one of many free apps available. I LOVE Insight Timer and Calm!
Lets go back to social media for a second, I know that this can be a huge trigger for me and a lot of other parents. Social media can be amazing and give us a support system and help us connect with other parents - just like in this platform. I find personally and professionally, that social media can also be fuel for the fire. I refuse to read sad or upsetting stories about babies and children. It doesn't make you a bad person to not read it - you must protect yourself - JUST KEEP ON SCROLLING! It’s like a social media version of ear muffs.
Exercise and clean eating is also a must to keep my anxiety at bay. It’s no secret that exercise helps improve our mood thru the release of endorphins. This was a major hurdle for me, but something that I had to commit to because I knew how important it was to my over all mental health. Doing some moderate to light exercise 3 x week makes me feel more level headed and clear. It makes me feel like a good mom! I’m not talking about anything crazy (but if that’s your thing by all means go for it). For me, it is 20 mins on the bike or a 30 min jog in the park. Just pushing your stroller around the block or getting out in the fresh air and running around with your kids at the park can be invigorating. And it’s a win/win for everyone involved.
Here’s another tough one: learning how to say NO and then doing it! If you’re anything like me you're a people pleaser and you want to do all of the things, all of the time. There would be some weekends we’d look at the calendar and see that we had committed ourselves to too many things, and that would send me into a complete tailspin and my anxiety would go into overdrive. I had to learn to under schedule. CRINGE. To say no to that second birthday party in 1 day or that playdate when your kid had a crappy night sleep, or your husband’s brother’s girlfriend’s BBQ that interferes with bedtime. Its OK to say NO!
And the big finale - the concept of radical acceptance. For years, I fought the fact that I was an anxious person. If someone mentioned that I was anxious, I’d almost physically wince. I’d get defensive and angry. When I was struggling with severe Postpartum Anxiety after my first was born, it took me OVER A YEAR to accept help. When I finally completely and totally accepted that anxiety was a part of my life and probably always would be— I stopped letting it define me. I was no longer an “anxious parent”. I was a parent who had anxiety - along with a long list of other wonderful traits.
So what am I saying? - I’m saying OWN IT. Talk about it - speak its name. Call yourself out. Tell your family and friends whats going on - they can’t begin to understand if they are left in the dark. I also started finding the humor in it. “Anxious mom, over here!” I’d say if the after school playground banter turned to something that would start to make my heart race. And you know what? I realized when I let my guard down - that I wasn't alone. That there are plenty of other parents out there having the same struggles, and we are all just doing our best and TRYING to do our best for our kids. At the end of the day, healthy moms equal healthy families and we owe it to ourselves and our children to be present and available.
Carolyn is a Maternal Wellness Nurse at The Center for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, NJ. One of only 10 comprehensive programs in the entire country for PMADS. She is a two time survivor of Postpartum Anxiety, Intrusive Thoughts and Birth Trauma. She is a maternal mental health advocate and a peer group facilitator for The Bloom Foundation for Maternal Wellness. She lives at the Jersey Shore with her 2 little boys and amazing unicorn of a husband who helped her out of the dark.
MOTHER’S DAY GIFT IDEAS FOR YOU & FOR YOUR MAMA
A FAVORITE FOR MY MOM & FOR MYSELF! DUDLEY STEPHEN’S FLEECE STYLES ARE MADE IN BROOKLYN FROM SUSTAINABLE RECYCLED YARN. YOU CAN’T GET US OUT OF THESE FLEECES. AFTER YOUR FIRST PURCHASE YOU WILL BE HOOKED. IT’S ALSO RUN BY TWO MOMS SO WHAT BETTER DAY TO SUPPORT BUSINESSES RUN BY MOTHERS. YOU CAN FIND THEIR SITE, HERE.
ONE PIECE OF MEANINGFUL JEWELRY TO ME IS MY ZODIAC PENDENT NECKLACE FROM ASHA. THIS PIECE FEATURES A LARGE ZODIAC MOTHER OF PEARL PENDENT (SCORPIO) FOLLOWED BY TWO SMALLER MOTHER OF PEARL PENDENTS FOR THE BOYS ( LIBRA ) & ( ARIES ). I ALSO WEAR THIS PIECE NONSTOP. YOU CAN WEAR IT LONG OR STYLE IT BY WRAPPING IT AROUND YOUR NECK FOR A LAYERED LOOK. YOU CAN USE MOM20 FOR A DISCOUNT CODE. I KNOW THERE’S A COMMON THEME GOING ON, ASHA IS RUN BY A MOM AS WELL. YOU CAN FIND THE ZODIAK NECKLACE, HERE.
PERSONAL TRAINING WITH COUNTDOWN FITNESS, GREENWICH
SOMETIMES WE CAN FEEL LIKE THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD IS ON OUR SHOULDERS ,SELF CARE IS SO IMPORTANT. WHAT I LOVE ABOUT PERSONAL TRAINING WITH COUNTDOWN FITNESS FOR BUSY MOMS ARE 30 MINUTE SESSIONS , THE SLOW BURN METHOD (THINK TONING TO THE MAX) & ONCE A WEEK TRAINING. COUNTDOWN FITNESS IS OWNED BY A TODDLER DAD SO HE GETS IT! YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE, HERE.
MODERN DERMATOLOGY, WESTPORT
ANOTHER SELF CARE ITEM WHICH IS AT THE TOP OF MY LIST. EVERYTHING SKIN! A GIFT CARD TO MODERN DERMATOLOGY WOULD BE AT THE TOP OF MY LIST FOR A MOTHER’S DAY GIFT! YOU WILL BE IN GOOD HANDS AS BOTH DERMATOLOGISTS /OWERS OF MODERN DERMATOLOGY HAVE FOUR KIDS EACH. MY FAVORITE TREATMENTS, THE VAMPIRE FACIAL AND HYDRO FACIAL. YOU CAN FIND THEIR WEBSITE, HERE.
ALSO A MAMA! I LOVE A GOOD MONOGRAM. LIKE MY MOMS PINK TURTLENECK A GOOD MONOGRAM ADDS SUCH A FUN PERSONAL TOUCH. I LOVE THE MORE MODERN LOOK WHEN MONOGRAMMING WOMEN’S WEAR WITH THIS ADORABLE WHITE SWEATSHIRT WITH THE FIRST LETTER OF YOUR KIDS NAME SEPARATED WITH A HEART. YOU CAN FIND IT, HERE.
INNERLIGHT WELLNESS, DARIEN
INNERLIGHT OFFERS SELF CARE ON ALL LEVELS FOR MOMS. THEY OFFER ‘INFARED SAUNAS’ WHICH PROVIDE HEALING BENEFITS AND ARE CLINICALLY PROVEN TO DECREASE INFLAMMATION, BOOST THE IMMUNE SYSTEM, AND ASSIST THE BODY IN IT’S NATURAL DETOXIFICATION PROCESS. AT ILW YOU CAN ALSO FIND THE ‘STUDIO’ WHERE COACHING SERVICES AND WELLNESS EVENTS ARE HELD. THERE ARE SO MANY GREAT OPTIONS FOR NEW MOMS. NEED SOME CBD? YOU CAN ALSO PICK IT UP IN THEIR STORE. THE OWNER IS A TWIN MAMA!
INDIGO ACCUPUNCTURE & WELLNESS, STAMFORD
ANOTHER GREAT MAMA RUN BUSINESS. SARAH IS AN ACUPUNCTURIST AND CHINESE HERBALIST. “SARAH IS PASSIONATE ABOUT PROVIDING HEALTHCARE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY- FROM PEDIATRICS TO SPORTS INJURIES TO FERTILITY—CHINESE MEDICINE CAN TREAT IT ALL” I’VE BEEN TO HER SUPER CHIC STUDIO. I FELT A SENSE OF CALMING UPON ARRIVAL AND REALLY ENJOYED MY TREATMENT. SHE ALSO HAS A WELLNESS SHOP ON HER WEBSITE WHICH INCLUDES A BUNCH OF WELLNESS GIFTS & YOU CAN ALSO PURCHASE A GIFT CARD. I’VE BEEN THERE, MY HUSBANDS BEEN THERE & MY MOM HAS BEEN! WE ALL LOVE SARAH. YOU CAN FIND HER WEBSITE, HERE.
After our engagement, my good friend sent Ray a list of questions she asked Ray to answer so she could share them at my bachelorette. They were pretty simple questions. She read the question out loud and I had to guess what his answer were. Hearing his answers was one of the most special moments of my wedding season. Reading them this afternoon brought a smile to my face, that time in my life feels like decades ago. It seemed to be just what I needed.
I want to start out by saying, if you are struggling in your marriage you are not alone. Many women can relate and have been there. I can confidently say both new moms and seasoned moms have as well. Sometimes it can feel like you are all alone, you might often wonder if the distance you feel between yourself and someone you once called your best friend is normal, or if you have bigger issues to tackle.
If you are feeling like you don't know how you can get through this week or month or year.....I'm here to tell you that you can. Having babies is a wonderful thing but it can also flip your world upside down. We deal with crazy hormonal changes, grow an actual human, birth that human and then pretty much don't sleep for ten or so years. It's normal in my opinion to go through some serious growing pains in the relationship department. Don't be too hard on yourself and take one day at a time, it's NEVER to EARLY to reach out for help.
I'm no expert but I spoke with one and here are some tips she wanted me to share:
-Plan a date night with just the two of you once a month and leave your phones at home. If there are triggers that create conflict in your relationship agree not to talk about them during date night.
-Double date. Sometimes being around others will make you realize, "Hey, my spouse is fun :)” and you will naturally avoid most triggers mentioned above. Go out with other couples!
-Put the kids down and have a meal together once a week while sitting across from one another, no phones or television. Eye contact is key so make sure you are sitting across from one another, not next to each other.
-Focus on physical touch....holding hands, cuddling, kissing, sex (I know your exhausted but physical connection is so important)
-Plan an activity together once a quarter or twice a year without the kids that will incorporate some sort of team building. Cooking class, workout class, hike, wine tasting. Think 'something fun' where you will work together.
-If you can get away for a weekend or longer once a year without the kids, do it.
-If you have older memories of when you were in a better place, revisit them…what did you love about your spouse at that time?
I will be having a mom and a professional both share in-depth articles in the near future that will really get into marital issues after kids. For now, I wanted to give you some takeaways and let you know you are not alone.
I also want to share the question + answer game I briefly discussed above. I encourage you to try and get your husbands to play along. Send them the questions below. Have them answer them but don't have them show you. Then when you are together at date night have them ask you the questions and try and guess what they typed out. I know it sounds super corny but I promise it will get you laughing + connecting. If that’s something you haven't done in a while it could be a nice activity. Remind your husband that this is important to you. It might take some negotiating :)
Below you can find the list of questions to share with your spouse and here are Ray's answers ….from 2014:
What date did you meet Liz? March 17th, 2011
Where did Liz and you go on your first date? Well technically we went to Morimoto, but you can’t really count that, back then she wouldn’t go out with me alone for about two months (group dates only), so our first "real" date was at Locanda Verde, the same place we went after we got engaged
Where was your first kiss? On the lips. Just kidding. It was at Morimoto, about 30 minutes before we got kicked out
Describe your first impression of Liz in one word. Stunning (it’s Liz chiming in real quick…. I remembered this and I answered funny and then I also answered funny for the next one. Then I soon realized Ray doesn’t actually think I’m funny) lol
What's your favorite quality of Liz's personality? (ie - funny, trustworthy, kind, hardworking...) if I had to choose just one, I would say her loyalty/trustworthiness
What's your favorite body part of Liz? I’ll keep this PG and say her eyes...but I really love her butt. Don't say this in front of my 100-year-old grandmother, please.
What thing does Liz do that annoys you the most? when she doesn’t clean up after herself/leaves dirty pans on the stove
If you could get rid of one item of Liz's clothing what would it be? Sports bras. All of them.
What item of clothing would Liz throw away for you? That already happened. Nothing was left behind and she dresses me now. But prob her ex-boyfriend's t-shirt that I am actually wearing as I type this
What's Liz's most embarrassing moment? (if you can think of it) When she accidentally walked out of her apartment naked and locked herself out. I'd like to note that this was before she met me
Who is the one celebrity you would be worried Liz would leave you for? Prob Ronaldo Christiano, the soccer player
How many kids will you and Liz have? I say two, she says at LEAST 4. We will prob meet in the middle.
If you and Liz had a perfect day in NYC, what one place would you have had to visit? I actually think this is your hardest question and I am going to give you a very indirect answer. Before I met Liz, I was a lazy person not really living my life. I would get generally drunk on weekend nights and sit in my apartment all day watching TV. She taught me how to embrace this city and explore every corner of it. My favorite times with Liz are when we start out going for a walk and end up discovering the city for the next 6 hours, and I love that we have taken that zest for life and exploring to so many other parts of the world together. So there really isn’t one place, but I credit her with not only changing the way I appreciate this city but the way that I live my life. She will prob say Five Points for brunch...
If you could live anywhere in the world with Liz where would it be? California. Cheesy answer, but we both want to do it
What moment did you know Liz was your main squeeze for life? After our relationship continued to persevere through a lot of challenges early on (you guys remember Liz when she was a single 25-year-old right? juuussttt kidding), I knew it was for a reason, and we continued to grow closer. I’m not sure when it exactly happened for me, but the deciding factor was that I simply never wanted to do anything without her, and it was the first time in my life that I have ever felt this way. Whether it was happy hour, watching a movie, or going to watch football with friends at a bar, I always wanted her by my side no matter what, and I had NEVER been like that before, that is how I knew. My life is simply better when she is alongside me.
Reading that brought me back to the us before kids. I wonder how it would sound now :) You can find the questions below to send to your significant other xx Keep a lookout for the in-depth relationship post from both a mom & an expert coming soon.
QUESTIONS TO SEND TO SIGNIFICANT OTHER
What date did you meet?
Where did you go on your first date with your wife?
Where was your first kiss?
Describe your first impression of your wife in one word
What's your favorite quality of your wife’s personality?
What's your favorite body part of your wife?
What thing does your wife do that annoys you the most?
if you could get rid of one item of your wife’s clothing what would it be?
What item of clothing would she throw away of yours?
What's your wife’s most embarrassing moment? (if you can think of it)
Who is the one celebrity you would be worried your wife would leave you for?
How many kids will you and your wife have?
If you and your wife had a perfect day, what one place would you have had visited?
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
What moment did you know your wife was your main squeeze for life?
BABIES & RELATIONSHIPS
Hope Is Not A Strategy....Until It is Written by: Krysten Beaven
A former colleague and great friend used to love to remind me (and our team) that “hope isn’t a strategy” when we were creating and setting our team’s objectives and goals. I heard many times throughout the years that one must use concrete, action verbs (you know, the whole "SMART" - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound statements) when creating them so that you can ultimately measure whether or not you are making progress toward and, ultimately, meeting your objectives and achieving your goals. This is helpful and works quite well in the business world. Not so much, however, when you are looking to start your family and are faced with infertility.
It was almost exactly two years ago that we began IVF (in-vitro fertilization) after extensive testing, a definitive diagnosis (something I was ultimately thankful we got as many couples suffer from “unexplained infertility”), a treatment plan and two (or was it three?) other failed less-consuming treatments. As someone who was used to leveling up when the going gets tough in order to meet professional goals I set, this whole journey to start a family threw me for a huge loop. My husband and I wanted to become parents. To put that dream into a SMART-type objective statement sounded ludicrous or at best came across as an aggressive attempt at manifestation (not to mention phrasing such a precious wish in that manner made my superstitious self squirm). This was precisely one of those times in your life when you have to give up any illusion of control and look to hope and faith. Since so, so much of the process is out of your hands when you are going through it, hope is really the one thing that you can cling to throughout.
And cling to it I did. In this fight, there were no guarantees. I vividly recall sitting in our Reproductive Endocrinologist’s (or RE’s) office, staring at her computer screen that displayed our fertility testing results and blinking back tears, wishing she would just tell us that the odds were good that we would be successful. Unfortunately, she had limited data to go on and was not able to give that type of reassurance. “But what if this doesn’t work out?”This panicked question swirled through my head multiple times per day, every day. That period when we were going between lab visits and doctor’s appointments, unsure of whether or not there would be a baby at the end of it all was a hard space to live in. I led a dual existence: going in to work each day and showing up, contributing to and being present in meetings, meeting my deliverables and gaining a clearer understanding of my professional value while personally I was spiraling into doubt and feeling “less than” as I struggled to understand why something that happens to so many people unintentionally every day was not happening for my husband and me despite all this effort. And if one more person told me to just relax…
I tried to look to the next appointment, the next step in order to maintain some optimism. It was so hard. I felt like I was walking around with a heart that was a little bit broken and I cried a lot during those days - often times while driving to and from work but also in the doctor’s office, my acupuncturist’s office and probably some other places as well and made for some awkward times. I also prayed during that time as well. I won’t say that I just went ahead and “let go and let God” - noooo I am way too much of an overthinking control freak for that but I did find myself talking to God, St. Anthony and the other patron saints of mothers and those who wished to become mothers. I also was happy to receive any communication from the universe when it came about: that time one morning after a failed treatment round, I drove into work behind a car with the license plate “ITCANB” and found it comforting.
There were so many points in the process where I was pushed to the limit of what I thought I could handle but in those instances I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and some days those steps were tiny, but they were steps nonetheless:
Being told we had to take an IVF class before we could proceed with treatment. What? Yep. We ultimately did it and were certainly not alone as the room was full of couples seeking the same end. We left there with a binder of information on all the ins and outs of IVF (and who said babies don’t come with manuals??)
The fertility drug regimen. That box filled with hella expensive medications seemed so intimidating when it arrived. We read each and every label and all of the instructions and then lived by the alarms on my phone. I also got very used to needles.
Our first round of IVF that resulted in an ectopic pregnancy. This was certainly not the outcome we had wanted but I ultimately felt encouraged that I did get pregnant. For this, I had to go to regular lab visits as well as some additional doctor’s office visits to confirm that the pregnancy was, in fact, ectopic as they closely monitored my hormone levels. Once they had final confirmation, they called me in the middle of my work day and informed me that I had to leave work to go to the hospital for treatment.
The hours I sat in the hospital waiting for my name to be called for me to receive treatment for my ectopic pregnancy were some of the worst and lowest I had ever experienced. I grew numb as I sat and tried not to make eye contact with anyone. There were pregnant women all around me and I knew most would be leaving there that day still pregnant, but I would not. I saw an expectant teenage couple walking by, a little reminder that no, life is not always fair. The treatment itself was a Methotrexate shot that was administered in under five minutes. The hours of waiting among pregnant folk were just icing on the cake. I asked my doctor if there was a chance I would have a normal pregnancy and she said that she had a patient who was recently in my same position and who was now pregnant again and was 25+ weeks along. Thank you, universe. I needed that glimmer of hope so very much then.
When we returned to the RE’s office three months later, I found myself looking at that same computer screen, but this time the doctor’s words were different. “Based on the last round and the fact that you responded so well to the meds and you got pregnant, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be able to have a successful pregnancy.” At last, the phrase I had wanted nothing more than to hear. Happy tears welled up this time and I offered a silent thanks to the universe. Data can be a beautiful thing.
After our first loss, returning to yoga helped me see clearly how angry I had been at my body for so long and allowed me a space to truly witness that I could do more than I believed I was capable of physically (aside from self-administering fertility meds like a pro). It flipped my thought process on its head to be gentler, softer, and more hopeful. At the opening of a yoga class shortly before that second round of IVF, the reading that the instructor did felt like it was being delivered directly to me: it was about how sometimes there is something that we want but can’t have and that it can be so incredibly hard, but that we must keep an open heart as miracles can only happen when your heart is open. I felt the tears well up in my eyes and began class with goosebumps, a grateful heart, and hope. As we went into our embryo transfer on that cold January day a week later, we had no idea what would come of it, but we did believe that miracles were possible and hope carried us. Throughout everything, I was able to keep moving forward thanks to more than a little support and encouragement from my husband. Those two and a half years plus were hard. Yet, he always knew we would become parents. Many nights I asked him how he knew. He replied that he just knew. As frustrating as that answer was at times, it was just what I needed to hear. His hope was unwavering and helped renew mine. As my acupuncturist told me many times “families are built in many beautiful ways,” and if IVF ultimately didn’t end up being our path then there would most certainly be another way to parenthood for us.
Nine months later, the greatest little miracle came into our lives. I still look at him and marvel, thinking back to all the heartbreak and tears I shed during that dark time and his little face and smile are so much more than my heart could ever have imagined. Trying to comprehend and then convey the magnitude of the blessing we received in our son is overwhelming to me still and it feels a bit like staring into the sun. Suffice to say, even on the periphery it is pretty wonderful. Hearing his babbling and giggles each morning when he wakes up brings a smile to my face. In a world that at times can break your heart and take your breath away with its cruelty and injustice without a second thought, miracles and magic do exist as long as you believe in them. Any attempt to articulate the dream that has manifested into a small human form that I see in front of me now could never have been summed up into the tidy goal statements I was so used to setting and then achieving. Ah, no. He is so much more than that. This quest in realizing the dream of parenthood far surpasses anything that small SMART box could ever hold and it would have never revealed the beauty, grace and gifts that only come from struggle, uncertainty and hope when that is all you have to hold onto.
Becoming Me in Motherhood: Letting Go of the Guilt and Perfection
I love turning on the 90’s on 9 or Hits from the 00’s while I am in the car and sing or rap all the songs from my years past. I never realized what a cliché that was with moms listening to the songs of their youth and embarrassing their kids until, here I am. Because every time I hear one of those songs it brings me back to a great memory- of doing things. Things that brought me so much joy. Dressing up and going out on dates. Singing and dancing with my friends before we went out together to sing and dance even crazier. Running to a really good beat while I trained for a triathlon. When I hear and sing those songs in the car, I can remember a time when making those memories was my only focus.
Having kids has changed that. I LOVE my kids more than anything in this world. Becoming a mother fulfilled a lifelong wish of mine, and it’s everything I could have ever wanted. But the focus of my priorities shifted so drastically and so quickly, as I was trying to keep up I forgot to hold on to a lot of what made me, me. I was so busy trying to check all the boxes for both of my children- enrolling them in activities for their enrichment, making homemade purees, photographing all of their milestones that I forgot what I even liked to do. I work full time and my new manager asked me to write up a little paragraph of what I like to do in my spare time and I honestly couldn’t come up with anything other than “spend time with my family”. I felt fake writing down “I like to run, do pilates and travel” because I hadn’t done any of those in a while. I used to be really creative and spontaneous, and when a mood struck me I did whatever it was I felt like doing. Even if that mood was just to sleep when I was tired. On my schedule.
For two years I was still adjusting to how no matter how carefully laid out my plans were, after having kids, I had no more control. Their needs came first. Their meals, their activities, their play time and I didn’t even question if that was the way it was supposed to be. If I actually did plan to go to the gym but one baby was fussy or needy, I wouldn’t even think twice for not going because they needed me more than I needed the gym. I was meticulous with the foods they ate- all homemade and according to the latest baby nutrition books. I had perfectly planned outfits laid out for them. Until I realized the care I put into their appearance and health was inversely proportionate to mine. They were thriving, looking adorable and fully engaged in activities. I had been gaining weight, not going out with friends like I had used to, and just feeling so unattractive I didn’t even want to go out on date nights with my husband anymore. I have a quote framed in my home office that says “Happiness is pretty simple: someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to” -Rita Mae Brown. I was so focused on surviving the days as the best mommy I could be that I stopped making plans I looked forward to as me. My daughter was getting older and I wanted to make it a point that she saw me have my own personality and have friends and have a healthy routine. I knew that them seeing me in action would be a better lesson than simply telling them to be healthy. I decided I needed to put my own needs into the schedule again despite the nagging excuses I had seemed to easily fall back on. Instead of my normal gym membership, I signed up for Orange Theory, an intense hour long exercise class with fun loud music and enough stimulation to make me forget I was away from the kids. The class also runs on a policy where you sign up ahead of time, and if you cancel within an 8 hour window before class you get charged a fee. It held me accountable to go when I signed up. I also made it a point to sign up in the early morning classes before I let the day get away from me and I found an excuse to not go. I could get to class and back before the kids needed to be dropped off in daycare and before my work. The first few months I struggled with letting my husband- who was completely supportive of me getting back into what I loved doing – get the kids ready. I felt guilty I wasn’t doing it, since this was the time I normally played with them in the morning, and would also get upset when he dressed my daughter in mis matched clothes and her hair was a disaster. But as my energy increased and my mood got so much better from this little me time I carved out I realized: no one but me cared that she had a bow in her hair that didn’t match. No one cared if I didn’t have homemade purees in my toddler’s lunch for daycare but me. I was becoming a happier mama to them because of the little time I took care of myself in the morning. I didn’t need to facilitate every minute of the time we were home and together- their play could be independent during the hour I was working out. I learned to practice grace for myself over perfection. I recently joined a women’s league to network with other moms. I love that I can plan ahead to these meetings, which take place after the kids have gone to bed and share in great female/mom/work conversations again. I also looked back at my quote and realized I needed to book things that got me excited in advance. I just signed up for my first race in a long time for two months from now, and a family vacation for later in the summer. Having the excitement of training for the race and planning for the vacation has me excited and focused on my goals.
I talked to a lot of my mom friends about what their thoughts and best tips were for rediscovering themselves after they had kids and I was surprised how much of the theme revolved around letting the little things go. Here are some of what they said:
“I was surprised how much of myself I had lost (and how guilty I felt for feeling that way). My whole world flipped upside down in the first two years of motherhood. When I was 7 months pregnant my dad got diagnosed with cancer, he finished his last chemo treatment the day my son was born and died right after my son turned 1. A couple of months later I was pregnant with number 2. Not only was he gone, my North Star in many ways in my life, but I had disappeared too. My life pre kids was filled with adventure, challenge, travel and well, freedom. All of a sudden I woke up in a life where I was idle. I LOVE my kids but craved anything that used to make me feel alive. I signed up for Body Back through Fit4Mom and a Ragnar race- a crazy 200 mile relay race where you run for 36+ hours. Nothing like a crazy adventure to get me back where I was. I then decided to become a Fit4Mom running coach to connect with other like minded moms local to me” -Missy, 39 Seattle, WA.
“I don’t sweat the small stuff (my kids don’t need a bath every night, they eat mac and cheese more than I thought I would be ok with and I take help whenever I can. I am ok with things not being perfect and instead taking me time in lieu of a perfectly cooked meal.” -Kate, 34, NYC NY
“I think working full time gives you extra guilt as a mother. Being away already for so long during the workday I don’t want to spend more time away from the kids. But I have had to learn to really say ‘no’ to things. I can’t volunteer for everything and I am more protective of my time so I can put my needs and my family’s on equal playing field.” Nicole, 38, NY
“As a mom I want the best for my kids. Sometimes wanting the best for them can lead you to compare your situation to others and that’s when the feelings of insecurity and nagging guilt can creep into your thoughts. I have learned that all my kids want is to be loved and feel safe. What my kids want is for me to be happy. Letting go of keeping up with what others are doing can be liberating!” Christina, 41, San Francisco, CA
“Since becoming a mom there has been an element of guilt when I splurge on something for myself. Recently I’ve realized that by not treating myself occasionally I may start harboring a tiny bit of resentment which ultimately detracts me from the fulfillment of being a mom... so now I buy the outfit or the pair of shoes. I still don’t spend on myself like I used to but I’m no longer rostering the same 4 outfits.” Rena, 39 Oakland, CA
“I realize the days of extravagant girls’ trips are on hold for now but it doesn’t mean a weekend getaway with girlfriends is impossible. I should feel confident enough in my spouse that my children will still be alive after 48 hours, after all it makes me a happier mom and wife”. R 42, CT
I will still listen to the songs and reminisce about the days before becoming a mother and enjoy the memories. I am learning and accepting that there is a difference between putting my kids’ needs first before mine vs.not tending to mine at all. I am exercising my “no” muscle and prioritizing my needs above anything else that isn’t mandatory. I’m still a work in progress, but slowly rediscovering that I am, indeed, more than just a mom.
TRAVELING WITH KIDS
The NEW article below is specifically speaking to traveling with kids domestically. HERE is a more detailed post packed with information around traveling with your baby internationally or for longer flights.
I remember how nervous I was the first time we took Charlie on a flight at five months old. It was an overnight flight to Ireland and I was most worried about the pressure affecting him. What if I had a baby that was screaming the entire flight and there was nothing I could do? I soon realized planning and having the right tools in place is all you can really do and there is no reason to worry about something that is pretty much out of your control to a certain extent. Think about all the parents that have traveled before you and survived….I guess what I’m trying to say is, there’s hope!
Parenting: Something I think that is important is that if you have two kids each parent is responsible for one. Figure it out before you go away but traveling this way was much easier for us. Ray and I did this until halfway through the flight and then we switched. Figuring out ways to keep cool and keep your husband cool can sometimes be half the battle. Flying with kids will probably be stressful at times. That being said, mentally prepare for the stress. Kids feed off of our energy so half the battle is keeping as cool as possible. Being on the same exact page as parents can help avoid any unnecessary tension. Come up with a plan TOGETHER.
I covered so much around planning in the older blog post I linked above, but one thing I don’t think I mentioned is how important airlines are when traveling with kids. I recently traveled on a United flight from LA to NYC and I was alone and felt extremely claustrophobic. I don’t know what I would have done with kids. There was hardly any room. When we took our Jetblue flight from NYC to Florida with the kids, we had a ton of space. Makes all the difference. Maybe it was just as much to do with airplane model but it’s something to consider.
Suitcase: I try and pack as little as possible when flying with kids. If there is a washer and dryer where we are going I will pack two outfits a day for three days and then wash anything that needs to be worn again. I’ll also pack a “blow out” outfit for my diaper bag. I gravitate towards jumpers or one-piece outfits that are easy to throw on the kids. I love the top and bottom matching bathing suits for boys because they can wear them around as outfits as well as pre-beach or pool. I also love the Natives. They are the only shoes I need to bring on vacation for both of the boys. I like having as few checked bags as possible so instead of each of us having a suitcase I pack one large suitcase for both boys and myself. I get one side and the boys get the other. All of our clothes and toiletries go in these suitcases. With all of our baby gear sharing a suitcase is great, it’s one less thing I need to worry about keeping track of. I will do this as long as possible. I can’t imagine keeping track of a small suitcase for each child even when they are older.
Stroller bag: Always check with your airline but most let you check a stroller bag free of charge with no weight limit. I use the XL Dockatot bag, (this bag is worth it) and I stuff it with the boys Dockatot and everything they need to sleep. Blankets, swaddle, stuffed animals, noise maker, extra diapers, all the last minute things I need to pack…..the extra pair of shoes I definitely didn’t need :) I also put any carriers and feeding gear in this bag. Even our foldable highchair can go in here. I don’t ever travel with a big stroller so instead of throwing it in the designated stroller bag I gate check it or bring it on the plane and store it in the overhead compartment. I’ve only had one person question the stroller not being in the “stroller bag”. In that case, it’s $30 to check but still worth it.
Carseat bag: I use the $5 red gate check bags you can grab on Amazon for our car seat. We rent as much gear as we can where we are going if it makes sense. If there are any heavy items I throw them in this bag. I taped the slumber pods to the inside on our car seat during our recent trip to Florida. It worked out perfectly as they would have added too much weight to our luggage. Some people like to bring a car seat on board. I’ve heard it can be a great idea for very active toddlers during long flights. There’s this new travel car seat I CAN’T WAIT TO TRY: find it, HERE. You can also throw extra diapers in this bag as well. I prefer to buy diapers when we arrive at our destination.
Carry on bag: I learned the hard way that I really prefer a big bag that has a zipper. That way things are not falling out of your overstuffed bag. Also, put everyone's tickets and IDs in one pocket. In-flight entertainment is the most important. Here is a list of things we brought for Charlie 2.5 and ford 11 months..they didn’t see any of this until we were in the air:
-Paw Patrol headphones
-Many many paw patrol stickers
-i-pad in a rubber/plastic case that sits up. We downloaded many Paw Patrol episodes the night prior to our trip
-Kids water bottle
-Paw patrol coloring book
-A few toys for Ford
-Noise canceling headphones for the baby
Other things in my diaper bag:
-Many of the kid's favorite snacks or things that take a while to eat like bagels
-Wipes & 5 diapers
-Extra pair of clothes for both kids
-Xantex for us …haha j/k
TWO THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW:
1) Formula, breast milk, juice, baby food, and liquid medications in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces are exempt to the 3-1-1 liquids rule! When it comes to baby bottles and sippy cups you are in the clear. Just make sure to remove these items from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. Before the TSA worker inspects your milk make sure they change their gloves.
2) Things you can keep on: Children age 12 and under can keep their shoes on while going through security. You can also keep your baby carrier on with a baby inside as long as it doesn’t have a metal ring.
PRE-CHECK/GLOBAL ENTRY: Do your self a favor and get your kids registered if you are traveling internationally. They will have to do an in-person interview just like you need to do one as an adult. For domestic travel, kids under 12 do not need to register to be able to go through TSA pre-check with you.
OUR SET UP: We had our Babyzen travel stroller which I had Charlie sit in (best stroller ever), I wore Ford in our Artipoppe baby carrier (we have the cheapest one, which is still expensive but doubles as a wrap and carrier because it’s so soft and light. Only negative is you can’t face the baby out) and I had one big bag with the kid's items which Ray held. I told Ray that even though his bag was small to check it. LESS IS BEST. Also, a great tip is not to put any loose items under your stroller or in any stroller pockets when in the airport. Keep everything in one bag. It ends up being a huge hassle when closing the stroller.
When we had one baby, I would bring our stroller and store it in the overhead compartment. The flight attendants might stop you and say you have to gate check it but that’s not the case. It fits in the overhead compartments even on the small planes. This stroller was expensive so I like keeping it close by :) Now that we have two kids, I really stick with the LESS IS BEST rule and gate check it.
TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH BREASTMILK
1) Make sure you stay super hydrated while traveling.
2) If you will have to carry a very large quantity of milk through the airport I highly recommend looking into Milk Stork, HERE They will ship your milk home from anywhere in the US.
3) You can carry on breastmilk and freezer packs. This will be checked by a TSA officer. I froze my milk and put it in a soft cooler with ice packs and it held up fine for a short flight. I threw it all in a backpack.
4) Checking the milk could be easier but I think I would be too nervous something might happen to it after all of that hard work. I personally would rather carry in a backpack. Just remember to proactively tell a TSA officer during screening.
5) I had two plastic bags. Bag for clean pump products and a bag for used pump products) Bring a little soap in a small container and wash parts on the go. They also make small sanitizing bags you throw in the microwave which is also great for travel.
I’ve never traveled with a pack n’ play. When the kids are in the pre-crawling stage I use a Dockatot. You can place it anywhere. It’s the best on the go sleeping tool. Now that Charlie and Ford need a confined place to sleep I always rent gear. I’ve never had a problem finding rentals and it is usually pretty cheap and easy. Other items I’ve rented….car seats, walkers, mini bouncers, and highchairs.
We had a seat for Charlie as you need to purchase one for kids two years and older. It was really nice having an entire row for our family. I put Charlie in the window seat and set him up with Paw Patrol. We downloaded episodes and it actually held his attention for most of the flight, that and the snacks and stickers. ALL lifesavers.
I sat in the middle and Ray sat on the end and we both shared Ford. We kept Ford occupied with toys and food. We did have one really stinky diaper and I honestly wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. I ended up changing Charlie while he was standing on the toilet seat cover in the tiny bathroom. I took a poll on Instagram and some people said it was socially acceptable to change them on the seats and other people said NO WAY. I think it’s fine for a wet diaper but I felt most comfortable changing the baby in the bathroom.
LET’S TALK ANXIETY: I received many questions around what to do to ease your mom anxiety while your kids are acting up on the plane. Honestly, I think in my head prior to traveling that I hope for the best but meltdowns are very possible and I actively imagine myself keeping my cool. I also remember that even though this seems like hell not to get too embarrassed. Most people on the plane were children, have children, had children at some point or have extended family that are children. They know you are not trying to disrupt the plane. Once in a while, you might get a rude person but most of us have been there. Remember that.
We tested out the JetKids Bedbox on our recent trip to Florida. I knew I wanted to try it out the moment I saw it!. It’s a small carry on suitcase for kids that doubles as a fun object to ride through the airport and it turns any airplane seat into a bed. I think it’s such a wonderful idea, especially for long trips. Though we loved ours I think one thing I would point out is it does add one extra carry on bag to your luggage. Though it is approved for kids age 2+, I would recommend it to families with kids age 4+ OR at whatever point your kids can be responsible for pulling their own suitcase through the airport. Definitely check out the website, HERE.
This is another very innovative product. It’s a very user-friendly travel tent that pops up over cribs and pack n plays. It’s great for travel when you need more privacy for your baby. We can not share rooms with our kids because they won’t sleep so this is a perfect baby product for situations when your kids need to sleep in the same room or you have to sleep in the same room with your kids. Set up and take down was super easy and it really does create the perfect sleep environment. It’s very dark and we put our noisemaker right under the bottom. We set it up before the kids went into the tent. My only recommendation is to use it at home a few times before you travel so you kids can get familiar with the product and get them excited about it. We will be using these all summer. A mom I know just used two on her vacation and gave very positive feedback. You can check out their website, HERE.
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