One Hand Open

Parenthood is a time you learn just how amazing you are in so many ways.  You just learn to get things done that previously would have seemed impossible because there’s no other option. Case in point: The other day I was nursing the baby in one arm and cracking pistachios with the other for my 4 year old. All of a sudden, I realized, I am opening pistachios with one hand! I would never have thought that was possible before becoming a mom. That got me thinking… what else do we do with just one arm?

besides walk our goats…
  • Write emails, texts, navigate the web – no 2-thumbed typing here! Heck, I even wrote most of this blog post one-handed.
  • Put on make-up. Because of course they want to be held when the babysitter shows up.
  • Blow-dry hair – actually a great way to soothe a colicky baby
  • Get yourself or another child dressed
  • Carry 17 bags of groceries and a diaper bag
  • Crack an egg – no longer the exclusive skill set of fancy chefs.
  • Heck, make breakfast, lunch and dinner!
  • Open a soda
  • Open a bottle of wine (twist off makes this one a gimme…), pro-tip, hold it between your thighs and be thankful you don’t have a thigh gap!

  • Make a martini. Hendricks, shaken, up, dry, with a twist of lemon.
  • Pay for groceries, put that one card and ALL THE OTHER CARDS back into wallet after baby takes them out
  • Paint toenails. Also a little body-origami required for this.
  • Pick up another child – this one should be a crossfit exercise
what it actually feels like
  • Fold laundry. It may not be KonMari perfect, but it get’s the job done!
  • Pull second child out from under the water at baby pool
  • Administer first aid (aka apply ice packs and bandaids)
  • Give other children reassuring hugs and kisses

  • Go to the bathroom – this is challenging, but when your alternative is sticking your baby on a nasty public bathroom floor or half-broken changing table, yeah, it’s possible.
  • Wash your hand – singular, the one that you wiped and flushed with 😉

I guess the question really is… what can’t parents do one-handed?!

Save Our Water Series Volume 3: Filtering out Fluoride

As a mother, I want to ensure that, as much as possible, what my children ingest leads to their best possible health. I am grateful to be part of a community that is knowledgeable about healthy food, sustainable farming practices, and responsible waste practices. I am also hopeful that soon we can go even farther and follow in the footsteps of some countries that are banning GMO foods and many other know toxins from their food markets altogether. But, with all this progress, I’ve still yet to hear much talk amongst mothering groups about what, for me, is a giant elephant in the room.

What about the safety of our drinking water?

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Photo of Painting by Lead Saulnier: The Painting Maniac

It’s fairly common knowledge that water in most American cities is treated with fluoride, chlorine, and other chemicals to keep it “safe.” The Environmental Protection Agency has been in charge of the safety of our water since 1978 (1). Today, the United States has some of the safest water supplies in the world in terms of preventing outbreaks of disease (1). But, let’s take a closer look at what we are adding to our water, and what that means for those of us ingesting it.

Water Processing

So what is really done to “keep our water safe?”  The details become very chem-heavy so, for brevity’s sake, I’ll sum up what is done in most city-treated water (aka not well water).  When water is collected, a chemical is added that has an extra positive ion. That ion bonds with dirt to form sediment that has a higher density (makes it heavier) than the water and can be filtered out via gravity. Then, we add another chemical, usually chlorine (Um…like bleach? Yup….like bleach) to kill any bacteria or parasites that may be lurking. While the idea of drinking bleach water is a little alarming, we also don’t get cholera outbreaks, so that’s good. THEN, we add fluoride, a mineral that exists in nature and is considered safe in small doses.

woman drinking water

The good news there, folks, is that fluoride is a great tooth enamel strengthener, decreasing cavities by up to 25%. The CDC touts water fluoridation as one of the 10 “great public health achievements of the 20th century” due to its “contribution to the large decline in cavities in the United States since the 1960s”. However, they, in the same beat, go on to say that “cavities are still one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood.” They also review all the ways you can get the benefits of fluoride if you don’t live in an area with fluoridated water, like, ahem, brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste that you then spit out. (2)

The Trouble with Fluoride

In 2014, the well respected medical journal, Lancet Neurology published this review of Neurobehavioral effects of developmental toxicity which was completed in a joint endeavor with the National Institutes of Health. They had previously warned about 6 toxins in a 2006 review. In this update, they add six additional developmental neurotoxicants to the list: manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers …..(3).<record scratch>

Hold up, I’m all for the prevention of cavities, but did you say… NEUROTOXICANTS??? 

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Yups. Yes, they did. The scientists concluded that,

Neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, affect millions of children worldwide, and some diagnoses seem to be increasing in frequency.
Industrial chemicals that injure the developing brain are among the known causes for this rise in prevalence. (3)

According to this study published in The Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives in 2012, researchers found that children tested in areas where water fluoride is higher have “significantly lower IQ scores than those who live in low fluoride areas.” (4)

The National Academies Press published this review by the National Research Counsel (NRC) on Fluoride in drinking water in which they discuss research in both human and animal models showing:

  1. Fluoride has a direct effect on the brain’s areas involved in memory. “Recently, the number of receptors for acetylcholine has been found to be reduced in regions of the brain thought to be most important for mental stability and for adequate retrieval of memories.”
  2. Fluoride exposure decreases lipids and phospholipids (which coat the brain cells), phosphohydrolases and phospholipase D, and protein content of the brain. These substances are responsible for neurotransmission, regulation of sugars that the brain uses for energy potentially impairing function.
  3. Fluoride exposure also increases free radicals in the brain (nasty substances that go around damaging cells) in several ways. “These changes have a bearing on the possibility that fluorides act to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

The NRC completed this large scale review in 2006. There was also a Harvard review article published in 2012 in which the author of the study, Philippe Grandjean, concludes, ““Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain”. (6)

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Holy…..Canoli

But the controversial debate that remains is this: Is preventing cavities worth the mass administration to over 70% of the population with a known neurotoxin (7)? After all, the lethal dose is said to be 5-10G for an adult and 16mg/kg body weight for children (7). The dose in the water is much below that, but the IQ study referenced above strongly suggests a dose-response. Meaning, a lower dose has less negative effect than a higher dose, but still has an effect. The CDC and other large organizations think that small negative effect is worth it.

Not to go totally Erin Brockovich over here, but… I. Ain’t. Buyin’. It. While the CDC celebrates that fluoride was great in the 1960’s, I’m gonna go ahead and ask that someone raise the bar to today’s standards.  I mean, in the 1960’s, cigarettes were also advertised by that same era of physicians. Cigarettes?!

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Photo credit: Cigarettes.Stanford.edu

 It turns out that the original dogma proposed in the 1940s and 1950s that fluoride had to be ingested in childhood to strengthen teeth before they erupt was mistaken. This 2004 review in the journal Caries Research concluded that topical fluoride (like the one you get at the dentist office) is a safer and more effective method than ingesting fluoridated water (8). Other factors also play a large role in cavity risk such as what bacteria grow in your mother’s mouth (9). This 2017 study in Frontiers of Pediatrics concluded that,

The major contributing factors for the for the high prevalence of ECC are improper feeding practices, familial socioeconomic background, lack of parental education, and lack of access to dental care (10).

The final argument proposed is that many people can’t afford to take their children to the dentist for fluoride varnishing or maintain satisfactory dental care at home due to socioeconomic factors. I would argue that it seems like it would be a good idea to ask the parents of those children whether they are more worried about cavities or the increased risk of neurological toxicity before mass public action is taken like fluoridating the whole cities-worth of water.

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Sup, Erin Brockovich….Photo Credit Take Part

While I am picking on fluoride here, the second overarching point is the introduction of more and more chemicals via pesticide and herbicide treatments of irresponsible industrial farming into our water system (See: Volume Two of Save Our Water Series for more on that). While treatment plants do their best to filter and treat it, we have to decide if that is a risk we are willing to take with the information we have gathered about the amounts of these chemicals that exist our food, water sources, and the quality of the air that we breathe.

What to do

Even if it is deemed “safe”, I cannot help but cringe when I’m thirsty and take a sip of water fountain water, or watch my kids drink a mouthful that smells like the pool at the YMCA (you know what I’m talking about). But there’s a simple solution!

If you have city water, there are filtration systems that can be used in your home for ingesting: cooking or drinking. The one I most commonly recommend is the Berkey Water Filtration System. This has fluoride filters, chlorine filters, and the test results of the filters efficacy are posted on the website. One of these filters is good for a family of two to four to provide clean, chemical free, drinking and cooking water for a span of 12,000 gallons. We have been filtering our family’s water this way for nearly 7 years.

1917041.jpgOne of the ways to filter water that has made a buzz in health food stores is reverse osmosis water.  The concept here, is the process takes water with bigger molecules in it, i.e. saltwater or water treated with chemical molecules, and pushes it through a membrane that only fits the water through and not the other molecules.  It’ll filter out any added minerals or heavy metals in your water as well, such as mercury.

Additional options from Pure Water Freedom include a variety of filters that directly hook to your kitchen sink and/or refrigerator, along with reverse osmosis systems. Take a look!

So I have to ask again… should our health goals should be prioritizing a small improvement in prevention of cavities versus the brain health of the citizens?  Just because it isn’t close to the lethal dose, doesn’t mean the dosage in our water supply isn’t still dangerous. Particularly for smaller bodies.

If you’re as passionate about this as my husband and I tend to be, another proactive thing you can do is contact your local state Representative. Voicing our concerns for public health may take a lot of noise, but hopefully the squeaky wheels will get the grease eventually.

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Photo Credit Quick Base Blog
The decision to filter out your water is categorically just that, YOUR decision. If you are drinking city water, however, the decisions are being made FOR YOU, and it was my goal of this post to make you an informed consumer. Choose wisely what you want to do, my friends….but remember that it is your right to be fully informed when you make said choice.

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Kristy is a wife, mother of 2 children, one with no cavities and one with 6 (where were you on that one fluoride?)

 

 

 


References

(1) CDC Drinking Water FAQ https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/
(2)CDC Flouridation Information page https://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/basics/index.htm
(3) Philippe Grandjean, Philip J Landrigan. Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity. Lancet Neurol 2014; 13: 330–38.
(4) Choi AL1Sun GZhang YGrandjean P.Developmental fluoride neurotoxicity: a systematic review and meta-analysis.  2012 Oct;120(10):1362-8. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1104912. Epub 2012 Jul 20.
(5) Doull, John, et al. FLUORIDE IN DRINKING WATER:A SCIENTIFIC REVIEW OF EPA’S STANDARDS. pages 205-223.
(6) Dwyer, Marge. Impact of fluoride on neurological development in children. Harvard School of Public Health. July 25, 2012
(7)  Hrefna Palsdottir, MS. Fluoride: Good or Bad? Healthline. August 17, 2016
(8) Hellwig E1Lennon AM. Systemic versus topical fluoride 2014 Mar;93(3):238-44. doi: 10.1177/0022034513517713. Epub 2013 Dec 19.
(9) Chaffee BW1Gansky SAWeintraub JAFeatherstone JDRamos-Gomez FJ. Maternal oral bacterial levels predict early childhood caries development.
(10) Anil S1Anand PS2. Early Childhood Caries: Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Prevention.  2017 Jul 18;5:157. doi: 10.3389/fped.2017.00157. eCollection 2017.

Respect

Motherhood is full of lessons. Starting with learning to aim your pee at a stick, then how to put on shoes with a basketball belly, how to not get peed on changing a diaper, and how to strap a screaming, squirming toddler into a car seat… it goes on and on. One of the biggest lessons for me by far has been learning to respect my body.

Respect is a positive feeling or action shown towards someone or something considered important, or held in high esteem or regard; it conveys a sense of admiration for good or valuable qualities; and it is also the process of honoring someone by exhibiting care, concern, or consideration for their needs or feelings.  -Wikipedia

Let’s break this down.

A positive feeling towards something held in high regard

Photo credit: Fiona Margo Photography

Your body, as a female, is miraculous. Dudes are cool too, but having ovaries and a uterus means you can GROW A HUMAN. Not all women do it and it certainly does not make you any less phenomenal if you don’t. The possibility and reality of your body as a mother though, is truly astounding.

Lately, I’ve seen so many beautiful stories online of women celebrating their bodies in motherhood. From Katrina Scott of Tone It Up, to Chrissy Teigen, to Bikini Body Mommy, and so many others, stories filled with positivity in celebration of the pregnant, postpartum, and amazing female body are on the rise. And that should truly be the focus of all of us. Not stretch marks, not pregnant cankles, not undereye circles or any of the other criticisms we throw at our poor bodies that work so hard for us. But a freaking cel-e-bration, people.

Hold your body in high regard.

This was a huge area of growth for me. I spent years criticizing every little bit of my poor body. If I was out of shape, I would think negatively about my arms, belly, thighs, or butt practically every time I moved or saw myself. If I was in shape, I would pick on my skin, my nose, my chin, or some other thing. Basically, no matter what I did, my body was never good enough. Becoming a mom, particularly to a little girl, made me realize that is NOT how it should be. Through the lens of motherhood, I finally recognize and appreciate that my body is strong and capable of hard things (like really, really hard things!) and deserves praise, not judgment.

The process of honoring something by exhibiting care for its needs

This was even harder for me. My first pregnancy, I was a resident physician working 80 hours or more a week. I was used to being able to disregard my body’s wants and needs, like, ahem, sleep, food, etc… But then, I was so run down I puked until I needed IV fluids and started having premature contractions. I knew exactly what I would tell my own patients, but it took me sitting in Labor & Delivery triage, watching a monitor show me the effects of my actions, to give myself the same respect.

So then, I had it, right? Nope. Decided to whip my poor postpartum bod into shape after having baby number 2. Went on a crazy diet, worked out like a madwoman and what-do-you-know, my milk supply tanked. I struggled with this, refusing to treat my body with kindness, understanding, and yes, respect. Then, I beat myself up some more about having to give that baby formula too. Guess what, she’s healthy and I eventually, through coaching and kindness and respecting my body’s needs, got into the best shape of my life.

Finally, now, with this third baby, I’m *starting* to get it. I took leave from work when my body needed it in pregnancy. I listened when I needed to change my birth expectations. And today? Today I’m spending the whole dang day resting, drinking tons of water, and nursing my baby because I did a little too much the last 2 days and I’ve learned to listen and treat my body with respect.

Photo credit: Jordan Marie Photography

Moving forward

How can you start to show your body more respect? How can you honor it, show care for its needs?

Step 1: Look yourself in the mirror and say, out loud, “My body is incredible!” Or whatever you want your positive message to be. Not only does this make a difference in how you feel, but we are also teaching our children how to view and treat their own bodies. Setting this intention will guide even your subtle, subconscious actions to show it to them, and the world.

Step 2: Treat your body how you would want a loved one to be treated. For whatever reason, I have to get all 3rd person to figure out what is best for me. My internal drive to just soldier on is not always the best thing. If this is you too, imagine your sister or best friend or even your child telling you how they are feeling. What would you tell them to do? Give yourself the same consideration.

What are ways you all treat your body with care? Tell us in the comments so we can share ideas!

Photo credit: Little Wonders Photography

Dr. Annie is a mama of 3, family doctor and lifelong learner of how to follow my own advice.

 

Life & Littles Podcast!

Exciting news!!!

Our own Dr. Annie is on this week’s episode of Doctor Mommy, MD’s podcast talking about second trimester of pregnancy. The Life & Littles podcast may just be your new favorite listen, friends!

Photo credit Fiona Margo Photography

“Imagine your best friend is a doctor and a mom, what questions would you want to ask her over a glass of wine? What questions would you text her in the middle of the night?” Sound helpful?

Grab a coffee or glass of wine and tune in on iTunes and subscribe to get all the upcoming fun times!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/life-littles-with-doctor-mommy-md/id1451847392?mt=2&i=1000429939961

You can also find Shelly on Instagram and Facebook @doctormommymd and should check out her gorgeous blog while you’re at it!

Xoxo!

Sexy as a M*ther

There’s a new sexy in town friends, and I would argue, it’s even better than before. It’s mom-sexy. We may not have the bouncy bounty of hair and bikini top filling of yesteryear, but we have some new moves that can light the 🔥🔥🔥 of romance like none other. (Literally. Because no one who’s not a mom would do this stuff…)

Wardrobe

Those young folks are all rocking flowy, low-cut tanks and dresses that show a hint of side or underboob here and there. The sexy implication being a nipple could be exposed at any moment. Enter: nursing tanks. This garment has the significant advantage of being able to actually whip out a titty in 1 second flat. Hey-yo!!!!

Shock Value

Sure Victoria would have you think your partner wants you in lacy little get ups 365 days a year. Let me tell ya, when all they’ve seen you in for months is spit-up stained sweats and then you slip on a real nighty? Firecrackers!!!

Naughty Naughty

Remember those teenage trysts making out when you knew your parents might walk in and bust you any minute -so hot, right? Well, as a parent, you get to turn the tables! You never know when a kid might wake up with a need for an escort to the bathroom and discover you and your partner “practicing stretching” or “having a tickle fight” 😳

Exploration

Another level of kink factor is available for all you cosleepers. Kid is in your bed so that’s off limits (at least I hope, because, wow! Boundaries, people). Hello, laundry room! Or take it to the bathroom counter. Nothing makes for creative sexcapades like having a literal cockblocker in your bed.

You said it!

New Turn Ons

Totally aging myself here, but… Remember when Devin Sawa’s bowl cut was the hottest thing (or were you a JTT gal?)? And then a few years later, it was boy band moves, then Abercrombie store dudes in barely-not-showing-pubic-hair-low cut shorts? What turns you on changes with time. And let me tell ya, once you’re a parent, there is basically nothing sexier than your partner going above and beyond with home & childcare.

Tell Me What You Want

What you really really want…. I’ll tell you what I want, what I really Really want. Because I’m a mom. And ain’t nobody got time for that Oh-let’s-pretend-this-is-fun-because-I’m-too-shy-to-be-honest sh*t. We know what works (hopefully!!) and we know how to get it and THAT, my friends is sexy.

Pregnant Sex

Ok, this one is transient, but can be ahhhhhmazing!! Increased blood flow? Yes please! Embracing your new curves? Oh yeah! Those pregnant boobs? 🙌🏻🙌🏻! If comfort allows, this can be one of the biggest perks of gestation. Get. After. It. There is a big ol’ dry spell (literally, so dry down there) coming up after baby. Store up some good times to last you through!

As always, keepin it Real

Real Talk

In all honesty though, it can be hard to feel like your former sexy self as a mom. Your body is different. It might feel better, it might feel squishier, it might feel completely foreign – no matter what, it changes. You may not have time for basic self care, much less a “beauty routine”. But instead of beating ourselves up about it and missing out on the fun, why not embrace it?! Your body can LITERALLY grow human beings. It’s miraculous. This is a special season in life and won’t last forever. Get out there and have a spicy Valentine’s Day, mamas! I, for one, think you’re SMOKIN!!! 😘

Dr. Annie is newly a mom of 3, a family doctor and finding new ways to be sexy all the time 😜

 

 

Bringing Home Siblings

This post contains affiliate links to help you find the products we have found helpful. We may get a tiny reward if you use our links but the recommendations are our own. Pretty Photo above credited to Jordan Marie Photography

All of us Real Mothers have gone through the fun adventure of bringing home a second or third baby to the family and I think we’ve collectively had just about everything go wrong that the rest of you could expect. The inspiration for this post was a friend’s recent experience of her 2-year-old trying to help “calm” a fussy 1-week old brother by very silently and sneakily feeding him an almond <cue full mom panic by proxy>. Luckily she was watching and everyone is ok.

We thought we’d put together a rundown on what will help avert disaster in sibling-land and make the transition as smooth as possible. Most of this is directed toward families bringing home a new baby with a first child (or multiple children) between the ages of 1-5 years old. Older kids are generally a bit easier to explain about baby safety, mom’s recovery, etc… hopefully.

Talk early and often

IMG_3444Being pregnant while managing a tiny terrorist is hectic in and of itself. If this is baby #3 or more for you on the way, that craziness is compounding. It’s easy to forget to talk to your kids about what to expect with a new baby ahead of time because frankly, you’re just in survival mode 90% of the time as it is. However, it makes a HUGE difference and it is much easier to manage baby’s arrival at home if you have had a few convos ahead of time and set realistic expectations for big brother(s) and/or sister(s). Some strategies include using books (see suggestions below), children’s shows (also below), incorporating a little Q&A or “talking to baby” session into bedtime, or talking about it for a bit when you see other people with small babies.

Don’t Miss Topics:

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Photo credit: Fiona Margo Photography
  • Where Babies Come From: This is bound to come up in one form or another. Rather than just avoiding the conversation, do yourself a favor and have these books: What Makes A Baby and Hello in There!, for a low-level detail, kid-targeted, but medically accurate way to explain how the baby got in there and how it gets back out. Some other great books are in This Fatherly Blog Post.

 

  • Shows: This is a parent and sibling win-win situation. Your kid feels like they are being treated to TV time, and you get help explaining the sibling transition from familiar children’s characters. Some of our favorites include “We Can’t Wait to meet the Baby” and “The Baby is Here!” (also books!) from Daniel Tiger. You can also view some great short videos about welcoming baby on  PBSKids.org.

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  • Baby Safety: As reviewed above, kids love to “help” mom with baby and are often distressed by the baby’s distress. Go over specifically:
    • Never put anything in baby’s mouth (including pacifiers because you don’t know where that thing’s been when the toddler finds it). If your kid is older the rule could be “without asking a parent”, but err on the side of never. Since younger kids understand positive “DO” commands better than negative “DON’T” commands – you can frame this as always bring things to a parent BEFORE giving to baby.” This also is important because younger kids may want to share small (CHOKING HAZARD) toys that they may not understand are dangerous to baby even if they are not put near the baby’s mouth. More than one sibling in our crew has tried to share a lego or two to cheer up their new baby, and they need to understand that sharing with a baby is ONLY okay when a parent approves the toy.
    • Never put anything over the baby’s face. Kids also love to “play peekaboo” or give stuffed animals to the baby which can smother tiny nostrils easily. Again, the positive spin on this is that blankets/toys/etc always go on the legs, NOT the face. Include not putting things in the crib/basinet with baby – little kids are remarkably good at “sharing” when you least want them to.adorable baby beanie bonnet
    • Never pick up the baby without a parent’s help. If your kiddo is much older, you can adjust this to their ability. But again, err on the side of caution when baby is tiny and needs head support. A positive way to frame this is “always ask for a parent to help you pick up or hold baby.”
    • We also find it helpful to have a “no-touching-on-the-face or hands” rule to manage germ transition. Point out they can kiss the toes or top of the baby’s head. And keep antibacterial spray such as this kid-safe one from CleanWell ALLLLL over the house.close up of baby feet
  • Mom’s Body: As a second (or third or fourth)-time moms’ belly grows larger, it somehow becomes an irresistible target for kids’ boisterous jumping, bouncing and otherwise projectile launching. You can be reassured, the baby is very well protected in there – but of course if a direct hit results in ongoing pain or bleeding, go get checked! Talk a lot about ways to be gentle with mom’s belly each time this happens.

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    Photo Credit: Kimberlin Gray Photography
  • Birth and Recovery: Also take the opportunity to talk about what the plan will be while mom is at the hospital or birth center. Go over how mom will be very tired and have some “ouchies” after the baby comes out and talk about ways the kids can help out – getting ice packs for you, rubbing feet, making faces or telling stories to the baby, helping to fetch diapers, etc…. Most kids love being able to help. Emphasizing their “big kid-ness” helps them feel special. If your kid is reward-motivated, you can even set up a points-chart that they earn a sticker for each helpful act to earn a new toy or privilege.

Gift From Baby

Picking up a special time-occupying gift for big kid “from the baby” goes a long way to establishing the baby-is-your-friend status we all want. Some good ideas can be found in this post: Plane Travel with Littles: Carry-On Packing List. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT buy toys that make noise. Boys and girls alike usually like to have their own babydoll of some kind to “mirror” what the parents are doing with the real baby, here are a few other options by age.

1-2 year old: Buckle Toys, Latch Board or Latch Barn

 

 

2-5 Years Old: Magnatiles, Dollhouse and Green Toys Cars + Track

Also consider a tablet loaded with educational games, see Fave Fridays: Smart Screen Time for ideas!

 

Of course, you know your kid best, get them something you know they’ll be excited about and will play with relatively independently for a while. Avoid toys with choking-sized parts even for bigger kids until you know they’re on board with the “nothing-in-baby’s-mouth” rule.

Lower Your Expectations

Most kids go through some form of regression when a new baby comes home. That can take a lot of forms. Potty-trained kids might have accidents again. Kids who have no trouble sleeping alone at night might suddenly be getting up. They will want to play in the baby’s bouncer, ride in the stroller, suck the pacifier. It’s a normal phase and will pass if you don’t overreact. Acknowledge it, talk about it briefly and move on.

Also lower your expectations for getting stuff done. Enlist more help. You will not get those luxurious “nap when the baby naps” moments as easily as when there was just one little being taking your time. (Did those really ever happen anyway?!) Set yourself up for success with a decluttered house, easy food in the freezer and loved ones on board to help as much as possible. If you have trouble asking for help, make a list ahead of time of things that would be helpful or set up a MealTrain or other chore-registry to delegate.

love sweet face portraitThis post is about preparing the kiddos, but part of that also involves preparing your coparent and other family/friends who will be helping. Make sure they know the priority is helping with the housework and the big kid(s). Your job is the new baby. They’re NOT there to hold the new baby while you ‘get stuff done’. I repeat: THEY ARE THERE TO GET STUFF DONE and only as much of the new baby stuff as you want to delegate. Liberally use the phrase, “My doctor/midwife said I need to be holding the baby as much as possible for bonding, immunity and milk production, so can you please <do the dishes, fold the laundry, go to the store, make dinner, take Jimmy to the park, etc…> while we go take a nap together?”

IF and only if you desire a moment away from new baby to shower, snuggle your big kid or whatever else, then others get to hold new baby. No one has a “right” to new baby time except YOU.

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Photo credit: Stacey Petersen Photography

If you don’t have family or a community to help, look at neighborhood list serves like NextDoor to hire a middle or high school aged “mommy’s helper” – cheaper than a nanny or babysitter, literally they just come over and do chores or play with your big kid while you’re home taking care of baby.

Enjoy the Before

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Photo credit: Jordan Marie Photography

The one guarantee with bringing another little life into the family is that things will be different. Better in many ways, harder in many ways, and just altered in many, many ways.

Watching siblings grow together and love one another is one of the greatest joys of parenthood.

Try not to worry too much about how you’ll manage it, because you just will. Do your best to try to soak in the remaining time while the newest addition is still easily portable, fed and clean on the inside of your body. Plan special outings that will be harder with a new baby like going to a movie or kids’ museum. Take a moment every day to pay attention to the little life on the inside as you did with the first baby without even realizing you were doing it.

Good luck multiples parents-to-be, enjoy the ride!

Anne is a mom to three (including one beautiful brand new baby) and family physician in California. Christiana is a mom to three, military spouse, attorney, and currently a stay-at-home mom in New England.

Finance Friday: Financial Resolutions

When I ask my clients, “So, what’s your 2019 resolution?” I get a lot of very similar responses, particularly with the uncertainty of the stock market as of late.  A lot of people are saying:

“I want to go on a financial diet.”

person holding piggy bank

BLLLEEECH.  “Diet.”  That dreaded word.  It makes it sound so… boring, and restrictive.  Yes?  Ok, so let’s rebrand it.  Let’s call it a “Financial Reawakening!!!”  No?  Too much?  Ok, well, whatever you want to call it, here’s what I suggest you consider doing right here, right now, in 2019, to improve your finances without feeling like you are sacrificing things and experiences that make you happy.

1.  Take a Good Look at Your Budget

I highly suggest you either use something like Mint.com (free!) or a good old-fashioned spreadsheet.  Whatever you use, the important thing is that you look honestly at what you are spending and why.

pexels-photo-870902.jpegStart asking yourself, “do I really need the gym membership/pet insurance/lawn service I’m paying $100 per month for?”  Or, “Am I really watching my cable or do I only watch Netflix/Hulu?”  See if you can cut out things that are monthly (re-occurring) expenses that aren’t really adding anything to your life, that you can afford to live without, or are costly services that you can manage to take on yourself.

2. Take Control

Speaking of re-occurring expenses, get a good handle on those.  I love Madison Reed hair color, but I haven’t ordered it.  Want to know why?  They want permission to bill me monthly and send me more on a regular basis.  As a financial advisor, I hate these auto-billings and reoccurring orders, unless it’s truly something I use every day and run out of on a regular basis if more doesn’t arrive at my doorstep.  Take back control.Cancel these auto-payments and take some time to understand what you really need, when, and order it yourself.  You’ll save yourself some money right there.

3. Start Small

Make some MINOR adjustments to start.  If you usually spend $500 per month on eating out at restaurants, cut it back to $450, then back to $400, and until you get to a point where you feel like you are still able to socialize and have a good time, but can still save money.  Do not say, “No, I can’t hang out.  I’m trying to spend less money.”  That’s a Debbie-Downer attitude that will spell out short-term budget success but long-term burn-out.  (And probably like zero friends.)

Don’t do it!

Have fun.  Go out.  Just be more budget-conscious when you do.  Maybe don’t order the surf and turf at dinner (every time) unless someone new you met on Bumble is treating you. 😉

4. Stop Boredom Shopping

No judgment, of course, but I see you – Yes YOU, the one reading this.  At the top of your web browser, there is that tab open to Amazon.  I challenge you to stay away from shopping online when you should be doing other things, like working, sleeping, or hey, catching up with your spouse about his or her day over a glass of wine (a budget-conscious varietal of course).

woman holding card while operating silver laptop
Stahhhhhp it!

It used to be that when exhausted, burned-out parents zoned out at the end of a long day, they’d just watch TV.  (I’m not saying that I personally did, of course, I’ve just heard from certain trustworthy parents that they binge-watched a few shows after the kids went to bed…) Ok, ok, Netflix is still in the rotation. But now, with the enormous growth in online shops, we also have retail therapy constantly at our fingertips, and with our “virtual wallet” we can easily order just about anything (did you know you can buy a hot tub on Amazon?!?!) at anytime without even looking at our debit card, let alone our account balances.  That can be a very dangerous habit.  Make a commitment to yourself that you won’t shop when you are bored or sleepless.

5. Understand Needs vs. Wants

Before making any purchase ask yourself:  “Is this a NEED to have, WANT to have or NICE to have item?”  If it’s a NEED to have, like new tires to safely drive your family vehicle, then by all means, go ahead and make that purchase. (These are almost always the least fun to spend our money on, FYI.  Chock it up to #adulting. Womp, womp.)

silhouette of man and child near white hyundai tucson suv during golden hour

If it’s a WANT to have, don’t deprive yourself, but don’t go crazy.  An example of this is a fancy latte.  You may arguably need a cup o’caffeine to perform your best at work after your kids wake you up at 3am, but you don’t need a Starbucks “double-shot, extra whip, no-fat, extra whatever” you could make a pot of coffee at home.  However, sometimes it just feels good enough to be a little #extra that you can justify spending a few more bucks. Make a commitment to treat yourself to these WANT-to-have items a few times a week, but not every day.  Finally, if it’s a NICE to have (like a boat, a motorcycle, or a Prada purse), don’t purchase it until you have no credit card debt and at least three months of expenses in a savings account. Sorry to break it to you, sailor. 

When in doubt, skip the boat. (Keep the flippy-floppies.)

6. Treat yo’self.

Did you just save $100/month for three months because you were doing these things?  If so, go get a $100 massage.  Yes, I realize that means you’re saving $100 less for the year, but this is about long-term success.  Did you save more than that this year?  $5k?  Go on a trip to Italy with a friend for $3k.

man riding on the motorcycle beside woman standing on the road

Treating yourself because you are making more sound financial decisions will reinforce this behavior and ensure it sticks.  And the longer you do this, the higher the chance is you will see REAL results.  Yes… just like a regular diet.  The rules are the same. Cheating never works and it takes longer than you’ll want. But it feels damn good when you succeed.

HAPPY NEW YEAR and sending my best for your Financial Reawakening!!!!

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Margo Cook is a Certified Financial Planner and mother of two on Maryland’s eastern shore.