Category: FAMILY

Learn all of my clever strategies to enjoy family life. I have tips on TTC, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Parenting, #MomLife, and much more!

The One Creative Thing Every Pregnant Mom Should Do

If you are a newly pregnant mom this is one of the first things you should do for yourself. It's so important to document your journey and maintain a method of self-care.

A Creative Idea for Every Pregnant Mom

Hey, Mama!  I am so excited for you…congratulations!  I am one of those crazy gals who truly loved being pregnant and I so hope it’s the same for you!

Pregnancy is such a wild time filled with excitement mixed with anxiety. Add to that a million questions about the unknown and some serious planning and you’ve got a lot on your plate as a newly pregnant mom!

One other thing that I recommend you add to the list is starting your very own personal blog right now.  And, “Why?” you might ask.  Well, I have some very good reasons for you!

Self Care Journaling

Pregnancy is such a crazy time.  It’s like a hormonal & emotional rollercoaster.  So self-care is truly vital for the well-being of every pregnant mom.

One great outlet for self-care is journaling.  And as much as we would all love to be those bullet journal people…for many of us it’s just not realistic.  However, journaling online is a much more sustainable option.

And blogging is, in many ways, like a form of online journaling.  It’s such a cathartic outlet to release your thoughts, emotions, struggles, and elation as you navigate these 40-ish weeks.  And doing so online is so simple and easy to maintain.

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Bottle Refusal Solutions for Breastfed Babies

Bottle Refusal

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Bottle Refusal: How To Get a Breastfed Baby to Take a Bottle. Tips to help you return to work from maternity leave or just go out of the house for a bit!

 

Preparing to Go Back to Work

Going back to work after maternity leave is one of the most difficult things a new mom will face.  There are so many emotions that come along with that transition.  You may feel like you are abandoning your baby.  Will their caregiver care for them properly?  What if something happens?  What if they forget you or you miss all of their milestones?  Those are just a tiny sampling of the thoughts that might race through your head.

There are so many things to think about and plan for.  But one of the things that you may not consider is how your baby will be fed in your absence.  Many moms who have been on maternity leave have been exclusively nursing and are confident in their choice to pump and continue to nurse after going back to work.  Bottle refusal is not even on their radar.

That was me.  And as my return to work date approached I was definitely dreading it. But making sure my baby was fed was not something I was particularly concerned about.  In fact, I’d never even heard of bottle refusal before.  That is until I had to go for a hair appointment about 2 weeks before returning to work.

Hello Bottle Refusal

I asked Dad to feed the little guy a bottle of pumped milk in my absence.  That should not have been a big deal because he’d had a handful of bottles over the past few months without issue.  All was right with the world until I received a panicked phone call that the baby would not drink from the bottle.  Of course, I immediately thought he was just doing it wrong and told him to console little Baby Guy for a few minutes since I was on my way home.

When I arrived home I tried to get him to take the bottle and realized that Dad wasn’t kidding.  He was straight up refusing it.  Pursed lips, shaking head, angry faced bottle refusal!  After I realized that this little one wasn’t going to budge, I popped a boob in his mouth and sat there stunned as I began to panic over what I was going to do about work.

I grabbed my phone and began to Google “what to do with a breastfed baby who won’t take a bottle” and up popped information on bottle refusal.  And I quickly realized that, although many chat groups had the question, there were very few resources out there.  So I set about doing what I do best.  And that is crazy research to cobble together some common sense solutions that we could hurry up and try.

 

Related Reading

3 Things You Need To Do BEFORE Date Night As A New Mom

10 Best Lactation Aids to Increase Milk Supply Quickly

 

5 Tips to Get Your Breastfed Baby to Take a Bottle

Below you will find the full list of the things we tried (or wished we had) and ultimately what worked for us:

1. Early Introduction \\ If you are a super proactive mama then you may be reading this before you’ve even given birth. Or weeks/months before you are planning to go back to work.  If that is the case, I highly recommend introducing the bottle early.  Not too early, because you want to avoid nipple confusion.  But that magic window between 6-8 weeks is prime.  At that point, you have probably established a solid nursing relationship, but baby is still a newborn and not stuck in their ways yet.  This is also a good time to introduce a pacifier, which I will address in a different post, but that can help with this as well.  Make sure that the bottle you introduce them to is the type of bottle they will be using when you are at work.  And make sure to let Dad feed baby at least one bottle per week until you go back to work.  It’s also helpful to feed freshly expressed milk initially.  That is just to get baby used to this whole thing.  That way the taste and temperature will be familiar.

2. Graduated Return to Work \\ What I mean by this is don’t just jump back in full time on a Monday for a full week. I recommend going back half time starting on a Wednesday or Thursday.  Maybe work a half day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the next week.  Then do a full week, then ramp up to regular full time.  That will be easier on both you and baby.  I also recommend doing a trial run once or twice before you go back just to anticipate any problems.  You could go spend half a day shopping with your girlfriends but could easily get back home if there is an issue.

3. First Week Caregiver \\ My recommendation is to ask either Dad, Grandma, or another close family member to take off that first week to stay with baby in your absence.  Whoever it is should be someone that your little one knows well and someone with incredible patience and compassion.  That first day or two will be hell on everyone, so you need someone who can handle it.  And it will be easier on baby if this person is not a stranger.

4. Pace Feeding \\ A really great strategy for feeding a BF baby from a bottle is called pace feeding.  The recommendation is for a caregiver, other than Mom, to hold baby in a position other than the standard nursing position.  This is often sitting up with their back against your tummy so baby is facing away from the adult. You hold the bottle just about horizontal with a slow flow nipple.  Feed baby for a short time and then take a break to burp and then repeat on the other side.  A feeding should take a similar amount of time as a standard nursing session.  For more information on this technique please see recommended reading at the bottom of the post.  Timing is also important here.  I recommend attempting to feed right as baby is waking up, while still groggy.  Also make sure to pay close attention to hunger cues so y ou can try right when baby is getting hungry, but not starving.

5. Choosing a Bottle \\ This is actually the most difficult of the five tips because every baby is so different.  I did so much research and purchased so many bottles & sippy cups it was ridiculous.  I literally spent over $100 in one sitting just buying every single recommended type to see which one he would take to.  The SUPER expensive Mimijumi, the one that actually looks like a ta-ta, worked quite well.  However, I realized that it wasn’t sustainable for us to buy a bunch of these.  The nanny we ended up with preferred the First Years Breastflow  These were fine but had lots of parts to wash.  I’m not a fan of washing lots of little parts, but desperate times call for desperate measures!  However, in the end, we landed on the super cheap disposable Enfamil slow flow NB nipples that we just screwed onto the Medela pumping storage bottles.  Go figure!  We also tried the Minbie Newborn Feeding Kit EXTRA and the Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottle.  Our little guy didn’t take to either of these, but I hear that other babies have LOVED them.  So you might want to add these to your list of possibilities.

* What to do if these tips don’t work: I also prepared myself for the possibility that these options wouldn’t work. For us, that left very few options because we had chosen to delay introducing solids.  But if your baby does eat solids then it may be easier.  But if you’re like me you have to get creative.  I considered trying a nipple shield to get my guy used to the different sensation.  I figured that would be similar to the feel of a bottle in his mouth but returned it because we never got to that point. We also purchased a large soft tipped medicine dispenser as a backup.  I figured that I could just have him fed via dropper in a pinch.You could also create a contingency plan where you have baby brought to you at work to nurse.  However, that is not likely a sustainable option.  In the end, you all may just need to “suffer” through it for a day or two.  Your baby will eat when they get hungry enough, so you don’t need to worry that your baby will starve.  I promise!

How Things Played Out For Us

So, in the end, we decided that Dad would stay home that whole first week to make the transition easier.  I purchased all of those bottles & supplies and left detailed notes on what to do.  We tried giving him a bottle once a day until started work, but he never did more than chew on it.  Then the day came.

The first day started out fine until Logi got hungry.  Dad tried all of the tips & techniques and nothing worked.  Logi got more & more worked up until Dad broke down and called me in a panic to see if there was any way I could come home.  I could not and just advised to comfort him to the best of his ability & keep trying.  He did.  All day. And over the course of the day baby only ate about 1 ounce and was ravenous by the time I got home.  But we all survived to see day two.  That was similar, but a little better.  And by the end of the week, our little Baby Guy was a bottle drinking pro!  Bottle refusal conquered! At that point, it was on to the next hurdle.  The introduction to the nanny…

You Will Survive

So mama, I just want you to know that even though this will be challenging for your family it will all work out in the end.  And nobody will be any worse for wear.  I hope that this will help you anticipate what is in store and do your very best to prepare as much as you can.  But in the end, we can’t control everything.  And this is one of those things that is just going to be hard.

This battle with bottle refusal is also one of the challenges that planted the seed in my mind that I might want to be a stay at home mom after all.  Which led me to get serious about this blogging thing.  So everything happens for a reason…right?  Okay, now get back to mommy stuff and enjoy before you have to start working again!!

Additional Reading On Bottle Refusal:

How to Bottle Feed The Breastfed Baby by KellyMom (One of my favorite resources!)

Pumpkin Oatmeal Lactation Cookies

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Oatmeal Lactation Cookies

Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year! And with that comes pumpkin everything…lucky for me since I LOVE pumpkin!  This fall I am busy with a million things including both nursing and pumping milk for my little guy, Logan!  As you know from my post “How I Increased My Milk Supply Overnight“, maintaining my milk supply is always on my mind.  So I figured what better way to shake things up than to incorporate pumpkin, a lactogenic food, into a lactation cookie for a seasonal twist on the standard oatmeal lactation cookies!

Not only does this recipe incorporate pumpkin, but it also includes the following galactogagues: oatmeal, flaxseed and brewer’s yeast.  So these cookies are a game-changing powerhouse of milk-making goodness all wrapped up in a yummilicious cookie!  These are so good that the rest of the family will be fighting you for them, however just write “Mama’s Milk Making Cookies – HANDS OFF” on a gallon Ziploc bag and store them in the fridge to prevent them from disappearing!  Or you could just make a double batch to share!

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The Unique Way That We Pay for Childcare

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The cost of childcare is ridiculous these days! Learn about the unique way we pay for childcare that has saved our sanity!

 

Today I was talking to my hair stylist about our kids and about getting older.  We are both in our mid to late thirties and both considering having a 3rd child.  We discussed the age thing, the impact on the other kids, and the dads.  Then the conversation inevitably turned to the cost of and how to pay for childcare, as we are both in two career households.

Her children are both within two years of my oldest at 7 and 9.  And last time she was a SAHM and in a different relationship.  So she had never had the *pleasure* of paying more than the cost of housing or college to pay someone else to raise her kids.  Needless to say, I had to school her on the hard truth about the cost of childcare here in the Seattle area.

 

I just did some quick research and found that the average cost of infant care in the Seattle area is $1,083/MO.  To me, that seems low based on my experience, but I’ll go with it.  That’s for just ONE kid!  And it’s more than a year of tuition at the UW!  Crazy isn’t it?

 

Now let’s backtrack a minute to about 9 years ago when I was in those same shoes. I was so naive when I first began to suspect I might be pregnant back in 2008.  I truly believed that everyone got 3 months paid time off, that I would be immune to gaining any baby weight, and that childcare would be affordable.  By now I’m sure you’re laughing at 20-something me and my blissful ignorance!  Affordable childcare?  What is that?  It’s this thing we hear a lot about in political arguments, but none of us out in the trenches have ever seen it.

 

And as naive as I was back then, I was even more of a procrastinator and an idealist.  I truly believed the old adages that “everything happens for a reason” and “it will all just work itself out.” Wasn’t I precious?  So I visited a couple centers before I gave birth, but hadn’t nailed anything down before I had GQ.  And as my return to work date approached, I realized that I really should select a location and button everything up.

 

And then I got a phone call.  MR was calling to tell me that he’d been laid off and my heart sank into my shoes.  Now mind you, this was during the heart of the recession and there were no jobs to be had.  So I went back to work and he stayed home with 3-month-old GQ. And that was our life for two years.  It was tough, but in the end, he was still being raised at home by a parent.

 

And in hindsight, it was truly a blessing in disguise because of the unemployment benefits and all of the extensions available at that time.  We were probably in the same boat financially as we would have been even if he had been working.  That is if you consider the high cost of having to pay for childcare.

 

By the time GQ went to daycare for the first time he was already two, so the monthly rate was under $1,000.  But not by much.  So we pretty much worked to pay the bills and to have other people raise our kid.  This is why we put off having a second child.  For six and a half years!

 

But he got older and we became more stable.  We planned everything out perfectly…right?  Firts, we sat down with the cost sheet for the same daycare that GQ was attending and figured out how we would pay for their combined rates.  Plus we scheduled around my busy time at work.  We were on top of everything!  And we got pregnant on our second month of trying!  Winning at parenting!

 

So I called our daycare to reserve our spot and was informed immediately that it would not be possible because of some new regulations.  All of their spots were now reserved for the new Early Head Start infants & they were not accepting any private pay infants.  I freaked out but figured there must be somebody who had an opening.  Boy was I wrong!  Everyone had that same answer or a waitlist that stretched into eternity or cost $2,000+ per month.  We were screwed!  What to do?

 

So we hired a nanny.  And that was a whole new basket of issues.  We had some great experiences & some awful experiences between the three nannies that we dealt with over the course of 5 months.  I know…three.

How Do People Pay for Childcare These Days?

But even at the bare minimum a nanny ain’t cheap!  We were facing a child care bill that was about 150% of what we pay for our mortgage.  How can anyone afford to pay for childcare these days?  So, what…is child rearing now only a luxury for the rich?  It didn’t seem fair, but I understand that’s the thing with life…

 

We made it work for a little while but quickly realized that it was not sustainable if we kept doing the same thing that we’d been doing.  So we sat down to brainstorm.  How in the world were we going to make this work and continue to pay for childcare?  One of the thoughts that eventually came up was this idea of the side hustle.

 

If you’re not familiar with the side hustle, it’s really just any type of side project to make extra money.  It’s usually a little unconventional or novel and creative.  For some people, it’s selling essential oils, or overpriced leggings, or fancy shakes, or slimming body wraps.  Or it could be an Etsy shop or playing gigs in a band, and on and on.  And in this case, it led us down a path that has changed our lives in so many ways.

 

Related Reading

3 Things You Need To Do BEFORE Date Night As A New Mom

FREE Printable | Nanny Daily Sheet

 

Mister Mister

 

Now MR had been throwing around this one idea for ages, but it always seemed a pipe dream because he didn’t have the tools needed to make it a reality.  And that idea was rideshare driving.  But he had this old 2001 SUV that was his baby and you just can’t use a car that old.  So we put that idea to bed.  That is until he was in a wreck and totaled the truck.  Which led to a friend offering to sell him a fancy Saab for a killer price that was less than 10 years old!

 

This was the series of events that paved the way for MR’s side hustle.  Honestly, the ink was barely dry on the title before he signed up to drive with Uber!  Things moved fairly quickly and he was out on the road within about two weeks.  The plan was for him to drive weekends and some nights.  And that is exactly what he did.

 

It was like a miracle.  He immediately began averaging $20/hour and earning an average of $300/Week on top of the salary from his day job!  That’s around $1,200/month!

 

My Turn

 

Right around that same time, I realized that the blog I had been tinkering with might have the potential to earn some money itself.  This was a foreign thought to me as it may be to you.  However, I will quickly tell you how bloggers make money and you will have your “ah-ha” moment too!

 

First, they allow display ads on their blog.  Second, they write what are called sponsored posts.  That is where a company pays them to write about a specific product or service.  Third, they participate in affiliate marketing.  This is where they will write a blog post like normal, but add links to products or services that they naturally mentioned in the post.  If you make a purchase then they receive a commission.  And finally, many bloggers sell their own products like ebooks, printables, online courses, etc.  I have a friend who earns over $100,000/MO from her blog doing just those very things!

 

No, I’m not bringing in anywhere close to that!  I wish!  But some months I’ve earned around $300 and it continues to grow!  Not too shabby for a gal who just writes about mom life!

And That’s How We Pay for Childcare

So between the two of us, we are side hustling our way through the crippling cost of daycare!  And some months we have extra money left over!  It has been such a feeling of relief knowing that we have this extra money coming in so we don’t have to worry about how we’re going to pay our bills from one month to the next.  For a while there we were really worried about how we were going to keep all the balls in the air.  And finding our own unique side hustle(s) has made all the difference!

How do you pay for childcare?  Do you have any unique tips or tricks for other families reading this?  If so, please leave them in the comments below!  And if you’d like more information about driving for Uber click HERE.  Or if you think that starting a blog might be more your style click HERE.  And good luck to you as you navigate this special, and so very expensive, time in your life!

Update – May 2017

Since this was originally published MR was able to quit his day job to stay home with the boys during the day thanks to rideshare driving!  He also drives for Lyft now, but Uber remains his steady!  He made over $1,000 this week alone!  And we no longer have to pay for childcare!  Woo hoo!

How I Increased My Milk Supply Overnight

This post may contain affiliate links

 

Increased Milk Supply

So many moms struggle with supply issues, particularly after going back to work.  It was the same for me.

I found myself “Google-ing” things like “Increase milk supply fast” or “Increased milk supply overnight” and ultimately came across a Pinterest post that caught my eye.  What I read changed the success of my pumping, and really our nursing, relationship for good.

I just gave birth to my beautiful boy, Logan, in December.  I am now the mother of two incredible boys!

And, of course, I wanted to give my little man the best start I could possibly give him.  Among other things, breastfeeding was a priority for me.

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