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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.

A week from today, I’ll be returning to work after a luxuriously extended maternity leave. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to take more time off for our second baby (due to a miscalculation, I actually didn’t take the full leave – actually ANY time, since he was born during summer break – I should have for our first), to write and work on my own projects, to snuggle and experience the sweet newness of our sweet girl, and to help our son through the emotional transition.

But, now it’s time for my own emotional transition. No matter how much (or little) time you take when you have a baby, if you head back into the workplace, it’s Tough with a capital “T.” Okay, worse than that.

Today, I’m here with some tips that are helping me get my head back in the game and making the transition a bit less bumpy, a bit less emotional.

 

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– Plan in advance, if possible. If you’re anything like me, your mind will be on getting back in the work groove, dealing with any anxieties of returning, and, of course, the distraction of being without your little one. If you’re a breastfeeding mama, you’ll also be figuring out your pumping schedule. The last thing you’ll want to think about is stuff like cooking and cleaning.

So, if you have the time before going back, try to do a bit of extra cleaning. Make a couple of extra meals for the freezer, or at least jot down a basic meal plan of your family’s simplest, favorite meals. Embrace the slow cooker. You’ll thank yourself when you walk into a picked-up house knowing what you’ll be eating that evening.

– Create cushions of time and fill them with simple joys. Find short, five minute spurts of time throughout the day to give yourself a mental break. Listen to your favorite Pandora station. Gaze at a picture of your child. Text the sitter to check in. Or even just have a child-free coffee break (which is now far easier than it once was) or some meditation.

And even on those crazy busy evenings, take a moment to listen to coos, splash together in the tub or write in the baby book. These will be your memories; not the meal making and diaper washing.   

– Don’t overbook free time. Evenings and weekends will be more precious than working-mom-computerever, so plan wisely. Sure, we all have things come up that are unavoidable. But, this isn’t the time for those extra activities that keep us running 7 days a week.

In our case, this means that we’re skipping a month or so of Saturday morning kindermusik. This transition will be just as strange on our 3-year-old son, who won’t have as much time from his grandmother (who sits for us) with sister tagging along, so this is a good time to take a break and make family time a priority.   

– Allow yourself the freedom to adjust. This is a tough one, especially for mothers (for some strange reason). We simply don’t cut ourselves any slack. We expect perfection out of ourselves. At least, I’m hoping I’m not the only one. 😉

Change is hard. It takes flexibility and leeway. Allow yourself that leeway and allow yourself to be sad. Just remember that it will get easier. Just with all phases of parenting, this, too, shall pass.

– Plan for something special. Having something for your family to look forward to, even if it’s a quick day trip or looking towards a holiday on the calendar can pick up your spirits. For us, it may be a trip to the farmers’ market or even just planning a family vacation.

And, for the more mundane, the fact that we’ll have a Superintendent’s Conference Day at the end of our first week back will throw just enough of a breather into the week that it won’t feel QUITE as long.

– Most importantly, ASK FOR HELP. You know how, when you have a baby, people tell you to ask for help? Not to take on all the tasks yourself? It’s totally true, and it doesn’t end after baby’s second week. This time is just a different type of challenge, and you don’t have to deal with it all on your own.

Be sure that your partner knows that you’re in need of just that – a partner-in-crime to help, whether by doing some dishes, picking up dinner, or folding some laundry. Mention oh-so-politely that you really love your mother’s tuna casserole…and you may find yourself with an extra meal. (If only my guys ate it, too. ;-)) Whatever it takes, help yourself by accepting the offers.  

What do you think – anything to add? If you’ve ever had to return to work after a baby, what are your favorite tips for your fellow parents?

 

 

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MEGAN MCCOY DELLECESE writes about her life as a mom and her family’s attempts at living a realistically green life at her blog, Meg Acts Out. She has a soft spot for DIY blogs, Katharine Hepburn movies, the Monkees, and community theatre. Megan lives in upstate New York with her husband, two quirky kiddos, and three rescued cats.

 

leap-into-cloth-2Happy Leap Day! This always feels like such a special, interesting day. It’s almost like a holiday that you only get to celebrate every 4 years. Just the perfect type of day to try something new!

Unless you’re a cloth diapering expert (and I know many of you are!), we all have an area of the cloth diapering world that we haven’t tried out. Maybe you only use cloth part of the time. Maybe you’re just in the “research stage” of cloth diapering and are too scared to give it a go. Maybe you’re only using disposable wipes.

Well, why not use Leap Day as an excuse to give something a try? You may find out that cloth is easier to get the hang of than you expected. You may find your *favorite* new style of cloth. Or, you may fall in love with Thirsties’ new organic cloth wipes AND get some free Booty Luster in the process. (Seriously, it’s the perfect time to give them a go.) Since the resell value of CDs is awesome, you literally have nothing to lose!

Personally, I’ve been doing well with our cloth journey, using it from sun up to sun down. However, for some reason, we haven’t taken the “leap” into nighttime cloth diapering yet. It’s kind of funny because I’ve noticed that our 3 1/2-month-old daughter isn’t a heavy wetter at night. So, what am I so afraid of, anyway? Plus, it’s totally time to try out those new organic wipes.

I also have finally decided on using more AIOs, so I’ll finally be purchasing some more of OS AIOs. While I’ve been juggling daily laundering just fine with my current, I’d rather have the option of not HAVING to do the laundry every day. 😉 Or even every other.

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So, how will I “celebrate” cloth this Leap Day? By finally trying some round-the-clock cloth diapering and rounding out my stash.

What new cloth diapering technique or product would you try out for Leap Day?
How else will you “celebrate” the day?

Megan McCoy Dellecese writes about her life as a mom and her family’s attempts at living a realistically green life at her blog, Meg Acts Out. She has a soft spot for DIY blogs, Katharine Hepburn movies, the Monkees, and community theatre. Megan lives in upstate New York with her husband, two quirky kiddos, and three rescued cats.

 

potty-training-low-stress

Raise your hand if you’ve potty-trained a small human. Or are in the midst of doing so. Or plan on having a child not enter college still having bedtime accidents.

Then you know how daunting it may be. Especially with a super strong-willed child. (Should I finally admit here that my son is SO MUCH like me??? So. Very. Stubborn. I should be proud, really.)

If you read all the books and blogs and Facebook posts and advice handed down from generation to generation, you’ve literally heard every suggestion possible…including complete contradictions.

Offer a reward. No, wait, that’s bribery and never works. (Even though it worked on me as a kid. Not that it’s a good thing; it didn’t work with my son.)

Tell the child when to take a potty break. No, wait, let them learn to listen to their body’s cues. (In my experience, one leads to the next, but see my caveat below.)

Strip your child naked for several days and get the job done. Wait, what? We would literally be confined to a very small kitchen (hello, wall-to-wall carpeting), so…yeah. No, thanks. (And, um, I tried a very brief version of this…wasn’t pretty.)

The list goes on and on. And y’know what? All of these methods work. They must or else they wouldn’t still be making the rounds.

But not for every child. There is no “AIO” when it comes to potty-training rules (or kids in general). And that’s my one caveat.

pottyAs with all things in the parenting realm, no two children are exactly alike. Hence, no two experiences with said children should be generalized. So, when you see rules or methods touted proudly, don’t feel an overwhelming guilt when your kid doesn’t follow suit. “But, it must be my child. There MUST be something wrong!!!”

No, there’s not. You already know how incredibly unique and special your child is. Don’t let anyone else make you question this or your own intuition. If you push a child early on and they’re not ready, put the idea to rest for awhile longer.

This is not a time to keep up with the Joneses. Even if your child talked or walked before theirs, all kids won’t hit the same milestones at the same time, and this is a great time to realize it – and remember it through school and beyond.

The only generalizations I can make about potty-training, from the perspective of a mom who’s “successfully completed” a masters course in it (okay, I’ve got a B+ thanks to the rare accident) are that:

– Yes, he/she WILL get it in his/her own time…not our time, not their cousin’s time, not the kid down the block’s time, but his/her time.

– There WILL be setbacks. Just when you think he’s got it figured out, there will be wet pants…or sheets…or floor. (Gah!) Try, try, try to relish the successes and minimize these setbacks…as hard as it may be.

– As with all parenting, this challenging time is just a phase. It will pass, and you’ll one day be so proud that your child can recognize when it’s time to go, have DRY pants, actually go on the potty, pull up her own pants, wash her own hands…and not need you one bit to help. Kinda bittersweet, huh?

 

So, don’t rush it to flush it. Everything will be fine…until you realize you’re done with your cloth diaper stash. I can’t help with that. Sorry!

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(Not to be confused with Eric Carle’s The Mixed-Up Chameleon, although its theme of “you do you” would be right at home here today.)

mixed-up-stash


We recently shared a post about the fact that
there’s no one “right” way to cloth diaper, along with one discussing the importance of supporting the diverse reasons behind cloth diapering for #ClothCommunity Day. Whether you’re a part-timer (we still are) or a full-timer, use only one brand or have an array of options, there really is no wrong way to do it.


In my low-stress cloth diapering post, some were surprised to hear that we’ve been partial to all-in-one style diapers ever since my daughter was still a newborn. They thought that a Duo Wrap with a prefold or flat combination was the way to cloth diaper a newborn. It made me realize that literally EVERYONE has different cloth diapering experiences and preferences. While I hate the saying, it’s true; there’s more than one way to skin a cat.  

Case in point: our 3-month-old, Harper. We’re using a couple of different brands (although Thirsties is undoubtedly our hands-down favorite, even if I wasn’t affiliated with them!), mostly because we had a small stash that we used for the limited CDing we did with our son. So, between pure cost (and, admittedly, laziness – I’m totally devoid of any free time to pull the things out of rotation and resell) and necessity, most of our stash is made up of AIOs.

We also have a ton of prefolds that we use with covers and a Duo Wrap or two. So, all together, we use whatever we have washed and ready at the time: AIOs and prefolds/covers.

Thanks to a local green business (sadly) going out of business a few years ago, I own a couple pockets and AI2s. With such a varied stash (and so many types of diapers on the market), it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Yet, this is advice #1 offered by many sage, experienced CD mamas: buy (or rent) a variety of styles before committing to your favorite(s).

While I agree with it, this tip always bugged me. “But I want to be TOTALLY ready when baby comes!” I thought. In hindsight, I realize that this could very well be one of the reasons that cloth diapering didn’t work my first time around. I had pigeon-holed myself because I had read about a particular brand (that was used by my favorite bloggers – so, it MUST be awesome, right??), a brand that ended up being the least favorite in my stash. Blah.

So, this time? I’m making do with the variety I’ve accumulated and remembering to leave room for adjustments as the baby gets older. As with all things baby, I’ve learned that flexibility is key. When we finally try an overnight solution, I realize that it’ll be trial-and-error, and most likely completely different than our daytime routine.

Plus, there’s always B/S/T groups to weed and replenish my stash with what I’ve found to be my true love: Thirsties AIOs.

Are you a “one style” family or do you have a good variety of diaper styles? We’d love to hear what works for you!

 

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VALENTINE'S CRAFTS

It may not be the hippest thing, but our family is full of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” fans. One of the interesting things they do is celebrate alternative holidays. In other words, they have a winter festival called Snowflake Day (Christmas/Hanukkah), Dress Up Day (Halloween), and Love Day (St. Valentine’s Day).

So, of course, our son doesn’t call it Valentine’s Day; it’s Love Day. I kind of like it even better. They sing about the different ways that you can say “I love you.” Hadley prefers hugging. Like, everyone. Family, friends, strangers… I know, we’re working on it. 😉

With “Love Day” coming up this weekend, I thought it’d be fun to share some fun crafts from around the blogosphere for you to do with your little loves.

shake-it-up-hearts

via Sunny Day Family

I can’t WAIT to try this one. It’s a great way to repurpose/recycle materials (I’d totally keep and reuse the jar for this particular purpose). I’d also do this one for St. Patrick’s Day after having the little man hunt for a “blarney stone” to use instead of the candy hearts. And, yes, I’d explain what the real blarney stone is. My maiden name is McCoy, after all. 😉

newspaper-hearts

via You Are My Fave

Hey, look! More repurposing! Who knew newspaper could be so pretty?

carolynsarrows

via Carolyn’s Homework

There aren’t any directions here, but it’s pretty self-explanatory: felt arrowhead/tail + twig (or straw) = super cute Cupid’s arrow. Maybe add some glue to the mix.

pocketofpreschool-heart

via Pocket of Preschool

There are some other awesome ideas on this post particularly aligned to literacy and math skills, but the project I like is the squares-in-a-heart one. Great for fine motor skills and simple enough for kids to try on their own. Add that “I love you to pieces!” and you’ve got a sweet, adorable card.

funkyhearts

via Little Bit Funky

We did this craft last year and it holds a special place in my heart (pun totally intended). I had or little guy do the painting and I cut them and assembled them since his skills were still minimal. We gave them along with a little candy and a card to grandparents and a beloved cousin. Add some string and you’ve got some fun decor, too.

Thirsties Love Day Crafts

How will your family be celebrating “Love Day”? Any super cute crafts in your futures?
We’d love to hear!