Go down the swaddle aisle at any baby store, and there are countless styles and patterns to choose from—enough for stores to justify dedicating a whole aisle to swaddles. You never know what your baby will tolerate before they are born, and some kids love certain swaddles and totally hate others. After trying nearly everything on the market between my two kids, I came to the conclusion that the good ol’ fashioned simple square-piece-of-fabric swaddle is the most versatile and easiest to care for. Learning to swaddle the old fashioned way can be a bit tricky at first, especially when you are sleep deprived at 3am, but with a little practice you will be a swaddling pro in no time.
This swaddle is so big I couldn’t get it in the whole camera frame without becoming Spider-Woman and sticking myself to the ceiling. Just trust me that it’s diamond-shaped.
I defy stereotypes because I hate shoe shopping.
To be fair, I have good reason. How many other 5-foot-4-inch tall people do you know have a US size 11 wide foot? Women AND men a good 6 or more inches taller than me often have smaller feet. I live in the Pacific Northwest so I suppose there’s the potential for some literal Bigfoot genes floating around somewhere. Anyway, it’s a pain finding shoes that fit and are comfortable, and even harder to find shoes that are also somewhat stylish (come on, I’m still in my 20s, I don’t need ten slightly different pairs of loafers!). Basically, I’ve hated shoe shopping since I was about 14 years old.
And then I had kids, and after they started walking, I suddenly found myself needing to go shoe shopping for them. No more cute little stretchy booties or soft-soled leather moccasins. And I was annoyed.
At first I tried to make it easy on myself and picked up kid’s shoes at consignment and thrift stores. I figured they’d just grow out of the shoes quickly, so why pay full price? Sometimes I do find good deals, but some mornings I wake up and the $1.99 Goodwill Stride Rites that fit my kid just fine yesterday are suddenly two sizes too small, and of course the size I now need isn’t to be found at any secondhand store in a 50 mile radius.
My daughter wore these size 5 shoes for about two weeks before she grew out of them. I saved them for my son, who never wore them because he went straight from a size 4 to a 6.5. Of course.
Recently, I flew across the country with two kids for the first time. My husband was with me, but our kids are three and one and often after 8 hours with them I feel a bit insane—and that’s when I have an entire city at my disposal in which to drag them around. Spending several consecutive hours smushed between them, trapped in a narrow metal tube with 150 other people sounded like a very special punishment for all the stupid things I’ve ever done in my entire life.
I was so freaked out about the entire trip that a couple of weeks before I sat down and wrote an item-by-item list of things to pack for every person in our family. It was color coded by person and which piece of luggage each item would be packed in and everything, and if you knew how incredibly unorganized I usually am (once I lost the baby monitor and eventually found it in the refrigerator, because DUH, where else would it have been?), you’d appreciate how much I was stressing out to the point where I’d do something like that. Then I hit up the dollar section of Target and threw whatever looked semi-interesting into my cart. Usually I like quality toys, often wood, and carefully budget for them, and don’t (often) bribe my kids with junk food, but this time I strapped them into the front of the cart and shoved Icees into their hands to distract them from seeing the sheer amount of crap I was tossing in the basket. I am sure every other parent in the store was glaring judgmental daggers at me.
How is it that when you travel, you always feel like you’re bringing way too much and not enough at the same time?
Mommy’s are more than givers of biological life. We giver care to our little ones as well. We care about them without end and give them everything we have. It’s a small wonder then that we have the ability to raise the spirits of our children.
During Hard Times
I have read hundreds of stories that praise mothers that stand between their children and hard times. It doesn’t matter if it is an unhappy divorce or tight purse strings. Mothers everywhere will take the hardship on themselves. They eat less, live on less, and spend long nights finding ways to help their children feel as little impact as possible from their new circumstances.
The worst feelings come from relationship disappointments. Your toddler’s friend may not have been nice this past play date. A sibling may have been impatient. It could even be the sadness of realizing that they need to share their parents with a new baby.
Doing these things without the moral support of mommy could be even worse. Life is rarely fair when it comes to the ending of a friendship or family growth pains. Mommy’s hugs can reaffirm feelings of comfort and security.
“Come in,” said my neighbor, flashing me a shy smile as she held open the door with some hesitation. Her 9 month old and my then-2 year old and 6 month old were having a playdate. “And, um, I’m so sorry about the mess.”
I looked around as we entered. The floors were swept clean. Her kitchen counter sparkled. A small box of toys sat in the very corner of the room, behind a couch. All the toys were actually in the box. The 9 month old sat in a jumpy seat and looked up at me as she gnawed on a stuffed bunny. She grinned and the bunny fell onto the crumb-less carpet, followed by a trail of drool. My neighbor was in front of her daughter in a flash, wiping the drool up and tossing the bunny back into the toy box. “I didn’t really have time to clean up much this morning,” she apologized again as my two year old ran straight to the toybox, dumping everything out, and my 6 month old promptly spat up onto the floor.
“Play-based learning.” Also known as, “OMG, I was only in the bathroom for TWO MINUTES, where did that paint even come from?!”
Last week, I visited another neighbor, who has a 4 year old and a 20 month old. “Come in,” she said, opening the door, “and, um, I’m so sorry about the mess. We were doing our once-a-month cooking last night and didn’t get a chance to clean everything up and then the kids—well, anyway, you know.”
I am a believer in teaching our children about technology in the home. With the many ways that technology can be used (for good and ill) we don’t just want to leave that type of education to a public school system. My children still get plenty of time playing with blocks, going outside, and reading. They also get plenty of time playing with mommy’s mobile device and watching their favorite shows on Netflix.
I had an impression that something was wrong when my little one only wanted to use the potty if he could play his learning apps while there. I rationalized that I needed to encourage him to use the potty and they were learning apps anyway. I would let him watch his favorite PBS show during breakfast when he woke up at 6 am, then 5 am. I even handed over my mobile device when I was at bank appointments and in doctor’s offices.
5 am started turning into 4:30 in the morning and would be followed with meltdowns when he didn’t get television time because it was way too early. He would refuse to use the potty and squat down on the bathroom floor in protest without my mobile device. The last straw was when we were in church and he had a meltdown because he wanted to play with his learning apps and I wouldn’t let him.
I’m a good mom. I’m a good wife. I try to keep a clean house and even (gasp) decorate. There are a few perfect settings that just don’t fit into my world right now. I’m okay not winning awards in these categories this year.
Best Potty In Show Award
We all know that one woman who has a guest bathroom that looks like a work of art. She has a full set of towels draped gracefully over the towel rack, a basket full of tiny soaps sculpted like sea shells and rolled up wash cloths. If that wasn’t enough she also has reading material on the off chance you get bored looking at the art work on the bathroom wall.
I have a travel size body wash for hand soap, a couple of paper free toilet paper rolls that change places on the floor and, when we are very lucky, a towel hung up to dry our hands so our children won’t wipe their hands on their pajamas. We do have some art on the wall, if you count the crayon mural our two year old was inspired to create for us. Throw potty training into the mix and I definitely won’t be beating this woman.
Secret Backyard Garden Award
You step into this woman’s backyard and around the pool it looks like a little tropical oasis. Or you find an English rose garden fit for a miniature castle. There are little walk ways and stepping stones. There are even beautiful little benches to sit on and enjoy the garden.
Congratulations! You’re pregnant! As you may have heard, birth is a miracle. You are bringing a new life into the world and that is reason for celebration. People will tell you that you are glowing from great hormones and happiness. Some will even say it’s the light of heaven shining through you. There are a few things that they will leave out.
You Will Be Tired All The Time
You will wake up in the morning feeling like you have had a wonderful night’s sleep. You will go to the bathroom, which will take all the energy out of you, and crawl back to bed. You won’t know what happened. You will want to sleep all the time.
The mommy worry starts long before you hold that sweet child in your arms. You will worry about too much movement on the baby’s part as well as not enough movement. You will worry that you ate something wrong accidentally. You will worry the vibrations from a movie theater’s sound system has caused harm to your baby. There isn’t anything you won’t worry about until you hear that heart beat again. After that you have about six hours before the worry starts again.
Children can do and say some crazy things sometimes. It’s part of their charm. Sometimes the things they say and do make us have to stop and question our priorities and points of views. If we are really lucky we can even change a few of our points of view to find the joy in life that comes so naturally to the small ones in our lives.
Be Excited About Life
An apple is worthy of a jump up and down celebration in my child’s point of view. So are new pajamas, taking the trash out, and watching a favorite television show. We are talking about uncontrolled bouncing shouts of joy. If we all celebrated the little things like a two year old the world would be a happier place. The opposite, however, does not apply. We would all be very unhappy if we all had toddler like meltdowns instead.
After about six months of trying to convince my son to use the potty, and cleaning up the aftermath, we have found a few potty training hacks we agree on (because when your toddler isn’t cooperating with potty training it feels like herding cats to a toilet) that have turned the tide in our potty war and resulted in a truce.
Hand Held Entertainment
I don’t let my children play with my Kindle Fire as a rule. This has resulted in making it one of the most coveted items for my children to play with. I can see their little wheels turning over how to play with it without getting in trouble. There is one way mommy will share her toy. On the potty. If my child is on the potty, he has five to ten glorious minutes on the Kindle. If he has a stubborn bowel movement, he gets more time. To get his hands on the Kindle he will even tell me when he has to go.
I set a fifteen minute timer on my microwave to make sure I hold up my part of potty training. My part would be to ask regularly if he needs to go. I have a seven month old, work from home, and do house work. Naturally I am going to forget. Setting a timer, however, makes me remember. I just have to make sure to drop everything and ask otherwise I’ll get sidetracked and forget all over again.