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.
Now that I am on week three of my mat leave, I have been trolling Pinterest like never before, looking for recipes, craft ideas anything that strikes this expectant mother in general. Here are a few of my top picks for this week.
With a little one on the way, baby showers, little children birthday parties and homemade toys have been on my mind.
I love the simplicity of decorating with balloons like this by Oh Happy Day. Perfect for a shower, little child’s b-day party or a weekend dinner.
Sometimes the simplest toys make the best ones. Take a look at more DIY cardboard ideas here.
Good, Good Food:
I had initially thought that with the extra days off work while waiting for baby to arrive that I would turn into the baking maven. Talk about wishful thinking! So, my solution? Easy recipes that make me appear to be one.
Finger Food that is handle-ready for potlucks and summer picnics.
For the Little One:
Hello to the most adorable coats by littlegoodall.
A changing or dressing table is one of those pieces of nursery furniture that is often up for debate as to whether it is a basic essential item for baby or not. While it can be argued that you can pretty much change baby on any safe surface, here are the top reason why I have prepped for one to be included in our nursery.
1) Extra surface area: For anyone living in an urban area where space is in short supply and bathrooms do not have long counter tops for baby toiletry storage, a changing table offers the extra surface area that is desperately needed. Living in Vancouver, BC, Canada where real estate is at a premium, our 2 bed, 1 bath suite doesn’t have much counter space. A changing table provides the extra shelving for the diapers and bottles, as well as a secure place for our changing pad.
Better yet is a piece that could offer the changing area top but also transition easily into the extra shelving for when your child no longer needs diapers. The StorkCraft Beatrice and Aspen Cube Organizer Change Table does exactly that. It makes for a great cubby for toys and books down the road.
(Images: Aspen Cube Organizer Changer in espresso)
2) Easy Access: With the shelves situated just below the changing level, all of baby’s toiletries, diapers and wipes are right at your finger tips. No need to separately pull out all the necessities and then having to put them all back, which would be something that would have to be done if changing takes place on a bed or floor.
3) Designated Space: Babies are creatures of habit, and having a set space for the diaper changes lets your baby know that changing time is taking place whenever they go to the designated area. Doing a diaper swap on the floor or some random place each time may seem alright, but baby may think that it’s play time or wiggle around in curiosity as the space is not familiar.
4) Correct Height: For any mommy who is recovering from a c-section or any caregiver with any back problems, doing several diaper changes in a day on the floor or a bed may cause extra stress on the body. A proper changing/dressing table offers the correct height for getting the deed done and eliminates the need to get down on hands and knees or do major bending to lift baby back up.
5) Safety: When it comes to handling baby at any height higher than floor level, safety is always a concern. While beds, counter tops and standard dressers may seem like good alternatives, they do not offer the raised sides that a changing table does. These raise sides keep the changing pad from shifting around especially if baby is particularly active and wants to move about.
When it comes to prepping everything before baby’s arrival, one the best pieces of info that I received was “you will need less than you think”. Perhaps a generation ago, when the marketplace for baby products wasn’t as varied, it was less overwhelming. You simply made a list based on what your parents and other mommies had to say was useful. More so, there simply were fewer options to select from, and there was no need to find out the opinion of 200+ other people on an item via internet forums and ratings. But now with so many different products and brands that promise to be the next “must have” item or to solve the most specific of dilemmas, how does a first-time parent know what is an essential versus a “nice-to-have”, or even a “don’t-even-bother” item?
Currently I’m really liking the newborn checklist on Today’s Parent magazine. It gives a good rundown of the essentials that are generally required, and I particularly like how they split the items into lifestyle too, like “If you are formula feeding” vs breast feeding, and splitting diapering under re-usable vs disposable. The specific number of items that are suggested are a great help as well since new mommies, like myself, are not well versed in knowing, for example, how many crib sheets, change of outfits or bottles are considered “enough” to stock up on. I certainly would not want to be caught short on something and having to send hubby out in the middle of the night for last minute purchases, but yet it would be a waste to over purchase items that do not get to be put into good use. For those of you located in colder climates, taking a look at the the government issued maternity package that is issued to all parents in Finland upon their request also gives a good guide to what sorts of basics that baby will need for the initial first month too.
It’s interesting to see that items like fancy bedding sets, decorative pillows, designer outfits, Moses baskets and even things like a baby wipe warmer are not on the list of must-haves. Shoes and an overload of toys are also products that many would advise as being completely non-essential for the first few months. While all these things may add the extra touch to a nursery or look cute on baby, your baby certainly will not miss these items, and if not, it sure doesn’t hurt to divert the funds that would have been spent into something more useful.
So far, my husband and I have focused on allocating our resources mostly into items that have to do with safety and help with ease of transportation. These include an approved crib and firm mattress for a safe sleep environment (Read more on safe sleeping here. You may be surprised at the items that you will not be needing because they are not recommended!), car seat and ergonomic stroller. As for the cute clothing and toys, these have shown up as gifts. Baby bathtubs and bassinets are things that generous friends have either given or loaned us because they also fall into the category of items that have limited use and can be quickly passed down from one family to another. All in all, I have yet to test out everything that we have purchased and also the items that have been so lovingly gifted to us, but it certainly is comforting to know that it is not necessary to purchase every last product that you see in a store or advertisement. It is good to be assured that the safest and healthiest care for your baby during those first few months at home can be done in a practical and smart way.
Nursury furniture and baby gear safety is a top concern that parents and care givers of young children most often have (Read our tips on crib maintenance and general crib safety), but did you know that baby bedding and soft textile items should also be included in general safety awareness? This past year, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) launched their “Bare is Best” campaign. It promotes how to “keep your baby cozy without the clutter”.
While the trend in the past was to fill the crib with pillows, stuffed toys, and decorative bumpers, the advice is that a safe environment not only involves furniture that meets North American safety standards, but one that is clear of clutter. The CPSC explains that “Bare is best when placing a baby to sleep in a crib. By creating the toughest crib safety standards in the world and urging parents to keep pillows, quilts, heavy blankets, and sleep positioners out of the crib, CPSC has made great strides to ensure that babies and toddlers have a safe sleep.” Read more about reducing SIDS and creating the safest environment for baby to sleep here and here.
(Image taken from CPSC)
So what’s one to do when all those adorable frills and fills for the crib are no longer recommended? Does this mean that the dream nursery that you had already pictured has to remain plain and lack the plush look that we all love? Fortunately for design addicts, quite a few crib bedding companies have made the transition towards creating bedding options that will make you never miss all the clutter. Below are some of my favourites.
Skip Hop’s Complete Sheet bumper-free crib bedding has seven adorable designs to select from. Without that bumper, the crib may seem like it’s missing that extra decorative element, but Skip Hop has solved this by putting the print along the side of the fitted mattress sheet. I’ve already got a few of these sets selected on my baby registry list already!
Got a rambunctious child that you eventually realize does need a bumper to prevent bumps and bruises? Target 365 crib bedding makes sets where the bumper is included should you decide that a bumper is something that is required for your child. But even without using it, those crib skirts with their bold and playful patterns do more than well in keeping the design element present in the overall look of the crib.
Oilo’s crib bedding: Need a set with bumpers? Check! Need a great skirt that can make a crib look great without bumpers? Check! So whichever pattern you have fallen in love with, and whether you go bumperless or not, Oilo’s got the options for all their sophisticated crib sets.
This past Friday, the StorkCraft staff surprised me with a baby shower that included a cake with an adorable pair of icing booties and a desk full of gifts and decorations! Thanks for all the well wishes and the thoughtfulness, StorkCraft!
Tomorrow will be my last day at StorkCraft before I take my maternity leave. I still have not determined the full amount of time that I will be on this “break” yet, but right now it looks like it will be a full year to ease into being a new mom and being able to visit my parents for a few months. Hopefully I’ll be able to document my new journey into new motherhood via this blog during this time.
With the birth date being a month away, it seems to me that I will have a bit too much time on my hands, but all my mommy friends say that taking the one month off before the due date is a God-send for having some rest and getting last minute baby purchases and room organized.
How did you spend the weeks leading up to your due date? Any “must-do” items or things you wished you had done before your baby was born?
We can’t wait for the Target 365 Cribs by StorkCraft to launch in a few months time (Keep tabs on when they go on sale here at Target)! The two tone colour is so versitle as it allows you to play with your accent pieces.
For this espresso/white version, you have the option of selecting white dressers for a light and airy look, or espresso ones for a rich and sleek decor. What do you think of some of these pairings? One makes use of accessories that can grow up with your child and also transition into other rooms of the house if need be, and the other goes all out with everything cute and adorable.
Find all accessories featured below at Target.
For all those parents who have children in school, you’ll know that Spring Break is coming up right along side the Easter holiday. Any plans for keeping the family occupied? Here are some craft projects that I have been stashing away on my Pinterest craft board.
Milk carton houses: How cute is this easy craft idea? Suitable for both boys and girls, your children can create a small neighbourhood to a sprawling city.
Dyed Easter eggs: Ombre is the way to do colour and this mess-free method is one simple option of getting those eggs brightly decorated.
Wee Mouse Tin House: Could this be any cuter? Make use of those empty Altoid tins and scraps of felt and transform them into a little travel play kit that can slip right into your child’s pocket.
DIY jet pack: Halloween is far off, but this DYI project is still perfect for everyday dress-up and running around the yard.