July 2008


Many of you read my post a couple of months ago about how meeting new moms is much like dating.  Well, I’m happy to report that I have found the Mommy-Dating equivalent of going all the way:  unveiling your bathing-suit clad bod to your new mom friends.

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It’s an innocent event that is born out of genuine goodwill: “Hey, I have a pool – want to come over for a swimming play date?”  When it’s 95 degrees and humid and the proposed date is a week away, that sounds like the bliss you haven’t experienced since your honeymoon.  As the date creeps closer, though, a million thoughts run through your mind: what will I wear?  Will I look okay?  What will she (or they) think of this post-partum body?  Will she think it has always been this way?  Will hers be like mine?

When it comes to having the guts to go all the way with your mom friends, there are different levels of confidence and inhibition.  There are those who, confident as all get out in their bodies regardless of size or shape, shed their cover up and frolic around that pool with graceful, playful abandon.  There are those who might be a little skittish at first, but get used to being in a swimsuit as their bodies acclimate to the temperature of the water.  Then there are the girls like me, who grit their teeth, take off their shorts, and try their darndest to have good time despite their inability to forget the fact that their muffin top is poking out between the tankini top and bottom like too much cream cheese oozing out of a bagel.  Oh, and the muffin top is the color of the cream cheese, too.  Hot.

Luckily, unless your new mom friends are grown up versions of the Mean Girls, they won’t judge or silently take in every lump, bump, and dimple that you’ve got going on.  Instead, they’ll be happy to take this budding friendship to the next level, will most likely be preoccupied with their own appearance, and will just be glad to have something to do that day.  Think about that as you are preparing for this momentous occasion, and prepare properly: take care of any grooming needs, throw on your most flattering suit, slick on some lipgloss with SPF, and give yourself a good, old fashioned pep talk.   Something along the lines of “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”  or even, “Screw them if they don’t like cellulite!”  Whatever works. 

When you’re as ready as you’ll ever be, just go for it.  Whip that sarong off with abandon and be confident and proud of your body, no matter what shape your in!  It just performed a miracle for you, so you better not be too mean to it. 

Going all the way was fun when you were dating your husband, so chances are you could end up having a good time now, too.  I double dog dare you!

Photo credit: www.babyswimming.com

Posted by Duff

Hey, who’d like to pay full price for baby gear you’ll use for a limited time?

Bueller?

Great news, you don’t have to, thanks to Albeebaby.com. Add fast shipping (free for orders over $100 — never hard to accomplish when shopping for your child) and a great selection of products highly rated by users and consumer reports alike, and it’s your basic no-brainer.

Albee Baby

You probably think there’s a catch. Here it is: some of the items are last year’s models. But what do you care? It’s not like it’s parachute pants and fluorescent leg warmers. It’s carseats. Strollers. Playards. Stuff that’s functional and still cute. Not dated boots with the obviously wrong-shaped toe circa so four years ago. It’s brands you know and trust at great discounts.

Have I rationalized a spree for you yet?

Enjoy your retail therapy. What you save may pay for your next mani/pedi.

This just in: Albee Baby now has a registry option. Celebrate good times. C’mon.

Posted by Fitz

Since The Bean was born, I’ve had it easy.  I stayed home with her five days a week, and worked from home the other two.  Tuesday mornings, without fail, my mom would drive up in her little convertible carrying treats for The Bean and an even bigger gift for me – 48 hours with hardly anything to worry about except for the work waiting for me on my laptop.

This economy has robbed people of much more than what it has taken from me, but my nice little part-time gig has gone the way of real estate bidding wars and cheap gas.  The consulting business is notoriously fickle – especially during the summer – and organizational cutbacks have made it impossible for my company to continue to give me the hours that I so enjoyed.  This isn’t necessarily a permanent situation, but it has gone on for long enough that I truly need to consider what my next steps are…and I’m between a rock and a workplace.

There is a big part of me that has really enjoyed being a stay at home mom.  I love being the enforcer of The Bean’s routine, scheduling playdates at will, and seeing her sleepy-eyed smile every time I go in to get her from a nap.  I’m not sure, though, if I can be a stay at home mom indefinitely.  I worry that I’m not cut out for it, that I can’t stimulate her enough, that she’s not seeing other kids enough, and that I might lose my mind.  I have the ultimate respect for the moms who stay home, planning craft projects and singing home-written songs to their kids before feeding them freshly pureed mangoes.  Or just staying home to make Kraft mac and cheese, for that matter – the constant day-to-day is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. 

It almost seems easy to say that I should just go back to work, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.  Work-outside-the-home moms seem like superwomen to me, and I’m not sure if I’m deserving of that title.  My career doesn’t lend itself to regular hours, manageable stress levels, or minimal travel, so I’d really need to switch things up if I wanted to work full time.  I have some ideas about what I’d like to do, but I’m not sure how to sell myself in a new way.  Then, how would I make the whole daycare thing work?  Would I really be able to get The Bean and I dressed and organized to be out the door at the same time every day?  Would I be able to drop her off and leave her somewhere?  Would I get enough time with her at home?  Could I follow the suggestions on Duff’s list, or would I just let chaos happen all around me from the sheer overwhelming nature of it all?   I just don’t know. 

Now, I know that an incredible number of women don’t have the luxury of being able to make this decision.  Sometimes, though, I wish it wasn’t a choice for me – it would take me out of the equation and just force me to make it all work.  It is a choice for me, though, and it is one that is far from being resolved.  Whatever decision I make – to stay home full time or to go back to work, even to my old job – is going to require a leap of faith.  No one ever told me that there wouldn’t necessarily be a solution that’s perfect for our family, and I’ve been searching for it high and low like a puppy chasing its tail.  Now that I’ve realized this, it seems like I was a fool for not getting it from the beginning – but even if someone had told me, I never would have realized how complicated and difficult this decision would be. 

There are always going to be tradeoffs, there are always going to be compromises, and I’m learning that the peace of mind I’m searching for will only be found in some sort of balance.  Like fingerprints, I’m guessing that all of us have a delicate – sometimes precarious – balance that is unique to our families’ needs and dreams for the future. I hope we find ours soon, and I imagine it will take several stops and starts before we get it right.

Posted by Duff

workingmom.jpg working mom picture by duffoliver

We’re all working moms, of course.  A great big high five to all of us for doing our best at the most important job we’ll ever take on.

But today I’m talking about the challenges faced by moms who work outside the home and/or away from their kid(s). Specifically, how to make it outside your home and/or away from your kid(s) so you can report to your other boss on time. And how, with some practice, you can find a little time for your family. And oh, yeah. Yourself. Eventually.

 The tips below may make your morning routine easier. Especially if you have a kid who likes to play independently. But if you don’t have that kid, and I don’t, you do what you have to do to make it work. Kids can survive whining long enough for you to apply deoderant (even if your ears bleed while doing so). Your co-workers will appreciate it.

Disclaimer: I’m glad none of you witness me putting the following tips into practice, because then you’d know what a frazzled imposter I really am.

So:

Prep as much as you can the night before. Wash, fill and refrigerate bottles, pack up leftovers from dinner or whatever your child is currently willing to eat, more diapers, etc. Multi-task and catch up on your music, tv shows, and phone calls. And before you go to bed, pick out clothes for yourself and your child so you’re not victim to a frenetic morning fashion show.

While doing the above, throw in a load of laundry. Doing this during the week means you get some of your weekend back.

Shower at night. I know not everyone will take me up on this. And it takes some getting used to. I’m just saying that sometimes, your little one will wake before the birds, and then you’re SOL shower-wise.

*It probably seems like you won’t have time to manage the three above suggestions and have any time leftover for yourself. I am suprised to report it’s possible.

A trip to the bathroom is an opportunity. Need to pee or brush your teeth? You can wipe down the sink or clean the toilet in under a minute. And since you’re already eked out the time, stay put and read a few pages of your book. I won’t tell anyone.

Get up 30 minutes before your Dervish. Obviously this only works if yours keeps a steady schedule. I know sleep is priceless, but better to get a jump on things than awaken via the fire alarm method. (Get up, I am!). You might even get a quiet cup of coffee and look presentable when leaving the house.

If your child self-feeds in a high chair, make the most of this time.  Load or unload the dishwasher, fold the re-spun laundry from the night before or eat something yourself before leaving the house (other drivers will thank you for this one).

Go easy on yourself. You probably aren’t cooking too much from scratch these days. If you don’t have a cleaning service, you may not know the last time your house was dusted or the windows were cleaned. Guess what? Your kid forgives you. Now forgive yourself. People (most importantly, your child) will be more likely to notice if you appear sane than if your house passes the white glove test. I can pretty much guarantee that in your final days, you won’t wish your house had been cleaner in the past.

Your lunch break belongs to you. Use it. Read. Talk a walk. Taste your food. Whatever. Use it or lose it. Why not bask in the glow of your alone time?

You can (and will) get a handle on it. It just takes a little time to adjust to a new schedule. I recommend finding a place for everything you need quick access to vs. things that you rarely use and can be stored to eliminate clutter (read: stress), set Outlook reminders for billpaying and non-work appointments if your brain is swiss cheese like mine (yet I still remember the words to most sitcoms from my childhood. Go figure.).

Enlist your spouse. It’s not all up to you to get everything done, and he’ll be reminded of why he loves you more often if you are less stressed and shrill. Don’t expect that he knows when and where to step in, especially if it seems like you run the house like a well-oiled machine. Ask. for. help. Don’t make me say it again. The assumptive approach can eliminate what is often perceived by male ears as nagging (i.e. “Hon, do you want to do the dishes or give the Dervish a bath? Husband’s choice, and we’ll meet up later for a glass of wine.”)

Say Thank You. To anyone who helps you, your husband, your child’s caregivers, your child when s/he is big enough to start trying to help. The thanked remember being appreciated and take on their roles with more enthusiasm. And the more your kid hears you say thank you, the more likely s/he is to say it one day, too. You’ll be influencing manners even when you’re not around.

Have sacred family time. Meaning time together that everyone can count on – nothing special, just time together to reconnect.

I’m sure there is a ton of great advice out there. Weigh in, ladies!

Posted by Fitz

If anyone watches How I Met Your Mother as much as I do, you’re familiar with The Bro Code, Barney’s intricate set of rules for how to treat your brethren.  Given that The Bro Code’s purpose is to create a bond between bros of all kinds, I think it’s high time for us moms to develop our own code.  The Mommy Code, if you will.   

The items in this code need to follow a certain set of criteria.  They need to be realistic, applicable to moms of all ages, religions, and nationalities, and something that moms around the world can strive to achieve.  I’ve come up with a few  ideas of my own, and I need your help to make sure nothing important has been left out.  Here’s where I am so far*:

THE MOMMY CODE

  • Do everything you can to open doors for a mom trying to navigate a stroller on her own.  It is tough to open a big glass door and try to get your baby and yourself in before said door closes on a random body part.
  • Do not offer your unsolicited advice on anything.  Anything!  Shut up already!
  • When your advice is solicited, be kind, gentle, and compassionate.  This is no time for tough love.
  • Unless it’s the most obvious lie in the world, when you encounter a mom with a newborn in public, tell her how great she looks.  It probably took her two hours to get out of the house and another hour to manage to blow dry her hair in between screams – encourage her to do it again.  If it is an obvious lie, find something else to compliment her on.  Not her baby, her.
  • Don’t give dirty looks to anyone trying to wrangle a screaming child in public.  This is not helping, and karma will come back to bite you when you’re in public and need your child to behave.  Big time.
  • Be generous with new moms you know.  They’ll be appreciative of diapers your baby has outgrown, coupons you can’t use, books you’ve read and enjoyed, or outfits that your kids never got to wear. 
  • Don’t ask a new mom if she’s breastfeeding.  This is probably not your business, and if it is, the mom will tell you about it on her own.  If you do ask, keep in mind that you might be making the mom feel very guilty if she’s wrestling with the decision to continue or decided to formula-feed from the get go.
  • Don’t give a baby gift without a gift receipt.  Even if she loves the darling outfit you picked out, it might not fit in the right season…or she might have more than enough clothes.  Returning the item will allow her to get something else that she needs, and isn’t that what you want?
  • Offer to babysit, even if the mom just needs to go grocery shopping.  Those 30 minutes out of the house could be just the respite she needs to feel human again.
  • Don’t go on and on about how each mom needs to make her own choices, and then subtly question even her smallest decisions (“When my daughter was young, I only let her play with my keys if I really had to.”).  Again, not helping.
  • If you see a mom struggling to unload a packed grocery cart with a (or several) kids, go over there and offer your help.  You know how hard it is to manage the shopping with all of the kids in tow – use this opportunity to pay it forward.
  • Kidnap your mom friends every once in awhile and go out.  Have a glass of wine, see a chick flick, eat some delicious food, and ask her questions about herself.  Remind her who she is – a fabulous woman who happens to also be a fabulous mom.
  • When you encounter a new mom, give her the best gift she could ask for: ask her how she is, and be interested in the answer.

*All items on The Mommy Code assume that the follower has not just been spit up on or the victim of a recent blow out.

It is my great hope that The Mommy Code will make the world a tiny bit easier for a new mom to navigate.  Please chime in with your suggestions to add…there are many new moms out there who are counting on you.

Photo Credit: www.cbs.com.  This picture of NPH was chosen specifically to make Duff happy.

Posted by Duff

My brother, who has always been wise and had a patient perspective that has had many wondering if he actually has a pulse, said the following to me with his typical Steven Wright enthusiasm:

“You won’t always be the mother of young children.”

It’s amazing what fourteen more months experience can do for someone. I advise everyone to find someone fourteen months ahead of you in parenting, and beg that person to be your sponsor. They are close enough to remember what it feels like, far enough away to have gotten over it (‘it’ being the parenting issue of the moment).

If you don’t believe my brother, as I didn’t, here’s an exercise:

Take your child’s age, in months (24). Cut those months in half (12). Now, before you read further, go back and look at a picture of your child at the halved age. I’ll wait right here.

Now look at your child today, who has better things to do at this very moment than worry about the passage of time. 

It’s no secret that I’m not, based on my single experience thus far, the biggest fan of the infant stage. I love me some toddlerhood, and I can already predict that preschool age will be even better (as my brother also forecasted). I didn’t say easier.

So how can I look at pictures of even the toughest stages with aching ovaries? (If I have likewise re-inspired the dormant baby fever in you with this excercise, please comment below).

It makes no sense to me. I am exhausted, because the Dervish never stops. Uppy. I get down. On my lap. Off. On again. No, off. Outside. Downstairs! That way! C’mon!

Three days will pass, and suddenly, the Dervish has beanstalk legs. Where is my baby?  She is someone else altogether now – an entire girl. And the blueprint for her upcoming years is already under contruction.

The other day, she and I were sitting on the couch together. I asked for a snuggle, and she rebuffed me. She had arranged herself in such a way that I could see her as a tween, bored with me, drinking fluorescent beverages, her commentary more repetitions of ‘like’ than substance.  At this moment, I am a mere hint of the embarrassment I am destined to become.

I’m transported back to her 4-month sleep regression. I am spent. I am frustrated. I just want her to sleep so I can. But she is warm and cuddly in pink fleece feety pajamas, and she clings to me like a little monkey. When she drifts off to sleep, I find it hard to put her back in her crib, and stay awake just a little longer to breathe this in, because I remember my brother’s mantra. And in that moment, I am as happy as I am sad.

Have I mentioned that he, my older brother, was a surprise baby and had horrific colic? I am proof that our mother must have had her own feety pajamas recollection. And obviously, she is no longer a mother of young children.

Posted by Fitz

Thank goodness for Jennifer Wider, M.D.!  Her new book, The New Mom’s Survival Guide, is genius.  It’s frank, it’s funny, it answers the questions that you don’t want to admit that you have (to yourself or anyone else).  The topics range from breastfeeding to sex to just feeling normal again – and while they are serious, Wider has a lighthearted way of writing about them that makes it a pleasure to read about your own problems. 

In my humble opinion, this book is a must-have for any mom with an infant, and is a great baby shower gift.  It tells you the truth in a way that makes it okay for anyone to hear it.  It won’t scare anyone off from having a baby, but it doesn’t sugarcoat the real issues, either.

Here is the product description from Amazon, since I can’t say it any better than they can:

-Why can’t I lose the extra weight? Why am I shedding like my pet golden retriever?
-I’m just too tired to have sex— and it hurts. What should I do?
-How can I tell the difference between the “baby blues” and a real depression?
-Why am I having so many fights with my husband?

At last your baby has arrived, and you’re experiencing all the joys that come with being a new mom. But you may not have bargained on acne and enlarged feet, not to mention constipation, vaginal pain, mood swings, or perhaps one of the more serious conditions that pregnancy can trigger. So what can you do to deal with all these unexpected challenges? In this compassionate, comprehensive guide, Dr. Jennifer Wider, a physician as well as the mother of two small children, delivers up-to-date medical information, candid answers to a host of questions, and expert advice on a range of postpartum issues, including:
-Sex and intimacy after pregnancy—physical and mental roadblocks
-Marital stresses and strains
-How to safely lose weight and exercise
-Cracked nipples and other breast-feeding concerns
-When the baby blues are more than just a phase
-Coping with thyroid problems, anemia, diabetes, urinary incontinence, and other conditions that can show up during or after pregnancy

 

 

From redefining yourself to taking care of yourself while caring for your baby, The New Mom’s Survival Guide offers such a wealth of practical help that new moms will turn to it again and again.

 

 

 

 

Let your fingers or your feet take you to your nearest bookstore NOW to pick up this gem of a read.  It’s worth every cent!

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