Over a Sunday brunch with a group of friends, someone said to me, “I have never been able to ask this because people can take it the wrong way, but what do stay at home moms do all day?”. Being 11 months pregnant at that time, I would have no idea what keeps a parent at home and possibly busy the entire day, but I promised this friend that I when I do find out, I’ll let him know. Now I’m letting you know, Brian.
It’s. Non. Stop.
Babies just seem to up the ante when it comes to tackling laundry and the number of times that you can wipe a surface. What was simply a weekly chore of throwing clothes into a wash and letting it spin away has now become an unending stream of stain removal (Who knew that yam puree and yes, poop, can stain like that!). Add in scraping up throw up, disinfecting bottles, and the daily mopping now that we have a crawler. For a while I wondered if I had been hired at a home cleaning agency and just didn’t know it.
If you think that waiting for that bus in the rain was long, try waiting on a fussy child go to or go back to sleep. Children do not care if you have a pot that is boiling over or a bladder that is about to burst. The time to put a baby to sleep, get them to eat or dressed is like the time spent driving through rush hour traffic to and from work: Disproportional, done several times a day, and non-negotiable.
^Finally exhausted from reading night time stories with mommy and ready to go over to her own crib.
When they’re young, the whole breastfeeding and milk bottles thing means that you’re on call 24/7 every few hours. When they’re older and taking solid foods, this brings you back to #1: More cleaning. And if you’re one of those moms that insist on making all the baby food from scratch, or you have a fussy eater that likes to look at the food more than eat it, then you can count away your time there as well.
^A slow and messy dinner: My LO having corn on the cob for the first time and loving it.
It may seem like “home free” once the kid is down for a nap or sleeping for the night stretch, but the shop sure isn’t closed. There are appointments to book, paperwork to review, bills to pay, and research on your next purchases to do. For parents who choose to work from home, count in any part-time work and/or helping out the partner with his/her business and time just flies right out the window.
Oh, and don’t forget that all of this is done while still in PJ pants and with disheveled hair. Grooming and dressing like a normal member of society has been temporarily placed at the bottom of “daily things to do”.
5) Checking Mommy Blogs/Forums-
This is when you are finally able to ask your partner or family member to watch the baby for a bit while you “go to the bathroom” or “quickly take a shower”, but you bring your phone into the bathroom with you. Here you get the extra 10 minutes to sit on the ledge of the tub either to troll the web or simply be quiet for a few moments and gather back up your sanity. On more ambitious days, you use the time to intensely read up on “sleep solutions”, “baby rashes”, or “How to potty train”. If you’re lucky, you may be able escape a couple times in a day without someone suspecting what you are really up to.
To all those SAHM and parents, have I missed anything? What keeps you busy all day at home with the kid(s)?
Fashion blogs used to be my vice, but since I have had the Little One, I am a big fan of blogs by women who are also moms. These women show that you can be mommy and also realize talents as a designer, artist, career woman, visionary, dreamer… Below are my top 3 that I am always checking up on.
1) Oh Joy!- Joy Cho’s blog is a visual delight. I suppose you can’t expect otherwise from someone who currently has her own line of kids bedding at The Land of Nod and party accessories at Target. From her latest edible indulgences to her design projects and pictures of her adorable little girl, Ruby, I can’t get enough of blog-stalking Oh Joy!
2) Design Mom- Gabrielle best describes her own blog as “…where design and motherhood intersect”. She makes motherhood (and to 6 kids!) look so good.
3) Chloe Fleury- This mom to 8 month old Lula is a paper artist. She creates the most vibrant paper portraits, landscapes and miniatures, all the while documenting her daily life with her little girl. Need we say more?
Crib? Check. The perfect paint colour? Check. Bedding sets that you have absolutely fallen in love with? Check. So what’s left for that nursery before baby arrives? Here are 7 nursery tips that often get missed but would make those sleepless nights and hectic days a whole lot smoother.
1) Light Dimmer-
It’s a relatively easy installation and/or feature to include in your lighting selection and it will allow you to navigate those late night feedings and clean up with a bit more ease. A dimmer works wonders in giving you just enough lighting to get your job done, but will not startle or stimulate baby when you need your little one to go back to sleep.
If you have the space, any type of arrangement that can allow you to lie down in the same room as baby will be a godsend for those nights when the LO is not feeling well or needs close monitoring. Your partner will also thank you for it as it will reduce disturbing his/her sleep as well. By day, it also offers an extra surface for folding away those baby clothes, displaying those adorable stuffies, and eventually turning into the “big boy/girl” bed down the road.
Image credit: Decorpad
3) Open Storage-
I loved having all the little clothes and accessories neatly stored away in the two dressers that we had set up in our nursery before baby arrived. Little did I know, however, that there would come the day when I would find myself holding a struggling baby with a huge mess down her front in one hand, and trying to wrestle a drawer open with the other. Save yourself the hassle and get some open storage to put items that are on high rotation in (nappies, blankies, a change of clothes, or diaper changing accessories). Changing tables with generous shelf space underneath (See our Aspen and Tuscany options), or large baskets to place on the top of a dresser work well for easy access when nothing else seems easy.
4) Easy to Clean Surfaces-
That designer silk pillow set and hand tuft rug may be hot pieces for the nursery, but make sure you do not mind the occasional spill (Milk) or splatter (Throw up. Eeps!). Mommyhood and daddyhood also comes with a whole lot of cleaning up, so unless you have yourself a 24hr maid service, make it easier on yourself by selecting easy to clean surfaces:
-Rugs and pillow covers that can be tossed into the wash
-Skip the changing pad cover in the warmer months as wiping the plastic surface of any mess is easier than scrubbing out fabric.
-Select upholstered furniture such as gliders/chairs with spot-cleanable fabrics and even removable cushions that can be replaced, in case there is a stubborn stain that cannot be removed.
5) Blackout Blinds-
Unless you are that one enviable parent that has a kid that attains the golden 2.5 hour naps regardless of surroundings, the rest of us need blackout blinds. They do not solve the struggles against naps and night sleeps, but they will aid in giving your little one the sleep cues to start winding down. I have noticed that they come in handy as the days get longer and there is still light outside at 8pm.
6) Comfortable Chair-
If space allows, get one. Your legs and back will thank you during those times when your LO needs the extra cuddling. It’s also great for story time, breastfeeding, and also those late nights when baby simply will not settle without you being near. See our Tuscany and Hoop Glider & Ottoman sets.
7) Decorating Safety-
Unless you do not mind reinstalling that ceiling mobile or wall hanging in 4-6 months when baby can sit up or even stand, make sure that accessories (canopies, netting, etc.) and decorations near and over the crib are well out of range of curious hands. Too often I see decorative elements that are great features in a room but are simply hung too low. Taking safety into account from the get-go will save you from unnecessary anxiety (or redecorating) down the road.
-Use decals. Most are removable without damaging paint and they do not pose risk of falling into a crib.
-Hang up mobiles and items like bunting well out of reach.
Image credit: Apartment Therapy
UPDATE May 28, 2014:
Please continue to check the Zutano website for updated dates on the Tivoli Collection’s arrival to your preferred retailer.
Zutano’s Tivoli collection by Stork Craft is showing some major colour love, and we are excited to announce that it will be available in June 2014! Bringing together form and function, the Tivoli collection pays tribute to the clean lines and simple shapes of modern design. It will feature a convertible crib, a 2 drawer changer and a 3 drawer dresser. The colours include the sunny/natural combination as shown above (which I have absolutely fallen in love with), as well as classic colours such as espresso/white and grey/white.
Having grown up in the suburbs, I had always imagined that I would have a house on a tree-lined street to call my own by the time that I had my own family. Who would have thought that I would wake up with a baby and be living in a two bedroom suite? It’s a lifestyle choice that my husband and I have chosen in order to stay within the city. So now with the Little One added to our family, we have had to get creative with our place. While our second bedroom is our dressing room/guest room, our LO is sharing her space with us for now. Yes, it is a little cramped, but we have managed to make it work. Click here for some inspirational Nurseries in the Master Bedroom from Apartment Therapy.
Image from Apartment Therapy
Now that Spring is in session and the cold, dreary days are easing up, I can’t wait to take baby out and about town. I had previously written about indoor places to go in Vancouver, BC to shake off the winter blues. Here’s three places to take the children to welcome clear skies and warming weather.
1) Southlands Farms-
With my LO’s obsession with farm animals (She loves saying “quack quack quack” and “moo” to her stuffies and picture books), the Southlands Farms is the perfect place to introduce her to the real thing. Just large enough to keep your LO entertained and exploring, but small enough to cover the grounds and make it back home in time for the nap, this family run farm has all the essentials: A stable (They have riding lessons!), petting zoo with goats, sheep and pigs, orchard, and chicken coup. On your way home, check out the market stand for fresh, local produce and products.
Image courtesy of Southland Farms.
2) Kitsilano Beach-
Need some fresh air and gorgeous view of Vancouver? This is just the place for a relaxing stroll along the jogging path. For children who are steady on their feet, Kits beach has a great playground. Well equipped with a rubber surface for soft landings, and sprawling play decks, slides and bars, let your little one get their energy out here. My 11 month old isn’t fully walking on her own yet, so we will be sticking to the baby swings.
3) Easter Train-
This miniature train runs rain or shine and is fully covered, so no fear of getting wet with Vancouver’s often inclement weather. The two kilometer ride through the forest and tunnels will have our little one excitedly saying, “Choo choo!”.
“You probably have a Storkcraft crib, don’t you?” is what I often get from people when they ask me about my nursery furniture. And I do! I have the Bradford 4-in-1 Convertible Crib in white. Our LO has adapted well to going from a bassinet during the initial first few months to clamoring around in the full-size crib, and in turn, my husband and I are happy to know that she has a safe and comfortable environment to sleep in.
^My LO having just woken up in her Storkcraft crib
There were many things that I expected when I became a mother …and then there were many things that I did not. Looking back on this past year as a stay-at-home-mom, here are five things that surprised me the most.
1. Sleep Deprivation
With the arrival of baby, I could not believe how sleep deprivation from the night feedings and eventually the baby sleep regressions (Helloooo sleep training! More on this later) would wear the life out of me. What happened to the night owl that used to thrive on pulling all-nighters in college? What happened to the woman that used to poo-poo the concept of naps? Well she isn’t here anymore. While I had thought that I still had the sleep rhythms of a spritely 21 year old, this new momma could not see straight with such broken up sleep. When they say “Take a nap whenever your baby does and leave the chores alone”, take the advice. If you need your partner, close family or friends to help hold baby just for you grab that 30min of Z’s or to simply wash up for the day, do ask for it. It will help you keep your sanity (My husband will attest to it!).
2. Post-baby Body
They warn you… but they don’t warn you. Yes, there is the whole post-delivery sutures and ickiness, but it was the “muffin top” that really got me. While there is the small percentage of celebrities and “that friend of a friend” who bounce back in a few weeks into those skinny jeans, the majority of us normal people do not. You’ll have a full wardrobe of your carefully curated clothing and shoes sitting inactive for a good many months, while your boyfriend shirts and the one pair of jeans that you had to go out and purchase in order not to become “sweatpants lady” is on heavy rotation. I felt like people were “just being nice” when they said things like “It took nine months to grow the baby, so it will take nine months to shrink”. But fear not, it is true and there will be the day that you will get the joy of discovering that you can re-fit into your original clothing again.
I have a great support system, but I never really knew how great until I had the baby. Prior to having a kid, I always believed in being self-sufficient and not being a “burden” on other people with requests. But with post-delivery recovery, the lack of sleep, and a baby that will not be waiting for you to even take a pee break, learning to being open to people’s generosity was humbling. It redefined the word “gratitude” for me. Say yes to those who offer their help (They want to!). Even if you do not have close friends and family around, simply going to your local mom group or baby activity class at the community centre will allow you to receive and, in turn, share and remind you that you are not alone. Being receptive to generosity opened my life and my relationships grew.
4. You Mean Babies Don’t Know How to Simply Go to Sleep?
Again, on some internet forum or from that “friend of a friend” you will hear about the baby with the dream schedule: He/she sleeps from 6PM to 6AM by three months. The rest of us? Yeah, sorry. No dice there. If you do not have a great sleeper, get ready for sleep training somewhere along the line between 4 months to a year.
I sure never knew that you had to teach a baby to sleep. My LO was addicted to her soother and could only sleep with it in her mouth. This meant that every time it fell out, which was several times a night, I would have to get up to find it. This was a recipe for a baby that frequently went into distress and a mommy that couldn’t function in the mornings. At nine months my husband and I decided enough was enough and that we had to buckle down to train baby to self soothe and sleep on her own. It took a lot of tweaking to see what method worked best for our baby and sticking to our guns even when we wanted to give up. It took three long weeks with just as much crying from me, but in the end was worth it for the LO and parents’ sanity. Whichever method you end up choosing, you will thank yourself for committing to it when you and baby finally get uninterrupted nights of sleep, and more importantly, more patience and endurance to take on the next morning.
5. Changing the Question of “What do I need to do?” to “What do I need to be?”
While I knew that I had been given the big duty of caring for a little being, I was surprised to find that it bothered me so much that I was “stuck” at home and couldn’t account for what I was doing in a quantitative way: I wasn’t bringing in income, didn’t have the time nor energy to upkeep the home in the way that I was accustomed to, and with baby’s feeding and sleeping schedule I couldn’t just fill my calendar with social events like before. For someone who was so used to always asking herself, “What do I need to do next?”, I felt like a failure to adapt to this new, stay-at-home mom life. But one night, while washing off the day’s frustration in the shower, it dawned on me that with all the fuss I was putting into “being productive”, I had forgotten to ask myself “What do I need to be?”.
I needed to be patient. I needed to be kind. I needed to be grateful for a loving husband and a healthy baby. I needed to be OK with not being busy just to be busy. I needed to be content with the here and now. I needed to savour the privilege of being able to stay at home to witness a little girl grow and come into her own personality each day.
How did you settle into motherhood? Was it as you had imagined? Or was the experience full of surprises?
Grey has been the go-to neutral for a while in fashion and décor, so it’s about time that Storkcraft came out with a grey crib. Say hello to the Storkcraft Sheffield II Crib that will be available soon. This piece pairs easily with the Storkcraft Beatrice dressers in white for optimal storage space and a backdrop for cute accessories to stand out.
Or change it up with a bright and bold coloured re-finished vintage piece and accessories like the ones below.
I’m back from maternity leave and, boy, has time flown by. When I first packed up my desk for the leave at 11 months pregnant, I thought that a whole year would be a “long” time to have off. But like any parent knows, time runs like water when you have a child. My little girl is already approaching her first birthday, so all things birthday party related has been on my mind lately. Here’s to re-starting up this blog again with a Pinterest Tuesday, and this time as a new mommy so I can take this crazy journey of parenting along with you.
^Bright and colourful for the children (and the children at heart), and sophisticated enough for the adults. I ran out to get the plates, hats, noisemakers and Happy Day banner already and will be incorporating them somehow into baby’s bday, but who says you can’t take inspiration and create your own colour theme with some DIY? (Image credit 1 and 2)
^My little girl has a love for balloons and would be delighted to see this table set up.
Say hello to the non-traditional cake (Pinata cake, Doughnuts, Brownies). I think the piñata cake may have to be saved for the day I polish up my baking skills, but the other two are great DYI and would still be easy to transport and assemble should the party be at a location outside of home.
Having been to a few children’s birthday parties for my friends’ children, I can say it’s not easy to hunt down a gift. My dilemma is usually that kids seem to “have it all” these days. And if they do not have it, it’s probably for good reason, like the parent does not wish for their child to have it (Ex. A drum set or any noise making devices) or it’s in a price range that is out of budget. So what’s a good “auntie” to do? I have stuck to old fashioned items that I hope still awaken the imagination in today’s children, as much as it did in my childhood.
^The Storkcraft Rocking Horse is my go-to gift for baby showers and birthdays. It’s a piece that will last for years to come and may even be an item that your child could pass down to the next generation.
^To our surprise, my LO has taken a liking to books (Yes, that’s her up there). Whether she flips through the pages on her own or wants you to read her a story, she has yet to grow tired of books that are illustrated by Caroline Jane Church. We can’t wait to add more to her collection.
^Get your DYI on and gift some custom T’s. With this craft project from 100 Layer Cakelet, you’ll be sure that there won’t be any gift duplications.
^How cute and thoughtful would a framed infographic be as a gift for a first birthday? This is taken from the lovely blog, Life Love & Lucy. Not a graphic artist? Me neither. I will be custom ordering mine off Etsy.