Showing posts with label Mom Advice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mom Advice. Show all posts

Monday, February 1, 2021

5 Money Saving Methods that are Trash

Okay, confession time, I listen to Dave Ramsey and I also follow Jordan Page. Additionally, if there was a money saving tip of any sort, from any mama or lifestyle blog, there's a good chance that I have listened to it, clicked on it, or read it depending on the media format. Sometimes, I just like to have things on in the background while I'm cleaning.

I wanted to dive into some "user" feedback for some of the advice bits that feel profoundly out of touch to me. It felt right talking about these things seeing as the financial industry is witnessing a bit of a small ripple. 

If anyone has a money blog, or if you are an avid reader of these blogs, my general TLDR message is that most advice is out of touch or not relatable to most families. 

Here is my artwork for my rant: 

Moms are tired of cutting corners, and these recent bits of money advice are trying to make cutting corner a full time job. 

1. You are the Problem--So Change Yourself or Your Habits

There is this unwritten rule that if you are reading these resources or seeking these resources, there is something inherently wrong with your approach or your practices or you are merely a believer in constant improvement (I am like that too and it's okay, this isn't what my rant is about). There is a perceived proverbial something that a "money expert" will see in a few minutes that can change your life within a short amount of time. 

"Stop being silly and ordering avocado toast and that latte!"

Problem solved, I now have access to generational wealth. 

In reality, most single people and families that I know, are doing the best they can. The mentality that it's the 4$ latte keeping you from owning a home in America and not the 50k of college debt in a stagnant job market has been disproved. And, yet, despite this, there is a culture of "fix what you are doing wrong and everything is going to fall into place."

This mentality is very attractive. It gives the reader the perceived control over the situation. And while that is romantic thinking that you are only 3-10 steps away from a private island of your very own, the reality is that there's a good chance that struggling families are doing the most they can. Already. There's a good chance struggling families have been doing the best they could for years without significant changes.

2. The Money Fasting Technique

If removing a bad habit that costs a small bit of change, but adds comfort is not doing the trick, it is important to double down and do it for longer periods and on as much stuff as you can. Yes, let's turn buying nutritious food for your family into a sin that is keeping you poor. 

Does "No Spend November" actually help you if you need to fix your car in November? Or does it really help to miss on the reoccurring expenses that keep your household running and keep you living a certain quality of life?

Spending is one way to avoid long-term issues in ares of life like your home, your car, and personal health. In fact, one thing that becomes pretty obvious is that someone who lives a comfortable middle class lifestyle spends a certain amount of money for general repairs to avoid replacing appliances and tools.

The money fasting technique was introduced to reduce costly spending due to self-control that one could argue is a necessity to replace "time" (i.e. convenience shopping or getting take out) or  comfort (i.e. a bath bomb and a bubble bath to replace the discomfort of bad weather). Money fasting is great to some degree for nearly immediate gratification, for example, paying off a loan, or saving up for a PS5. That's great. 

In contrast, more often than not, spending fasts are used to try to tackle a fundamental problem with personal or family finances. Usually, the problem that needs broader strokes like significantly more free time, money or comfort, is instead treated with metaphorical band-aids in the form of spending freezes. And quite frankly, it doesn't make sense to have a lifelong spend freeze on an essential need.

3. Making Everything from Scratch

Let's be honest, not many of us possess the skills to make bakery level bread. Not many of us have the time needed to make that bakery level bread. So apart from extra time during quarantine or a super awesome bread machine, I can't think of a good excuse to adopt making staple baked goods from scratch week to week. 

May I also remind you that you reader are also not a food scientist. Sure, you might get away with bread here or there, but it would help to know how to make something nutritious as bakery bread. 

Maybe I will get there, but I don't like this solution full of hypocrisy. After all, many people don't make their own pasta sauce or salad dressing. Not everything has to be from scratch. So why choose something that takes so much time and skill? 

And as far as time goes, many people reading these articles are just as worried about every minute of free time as every dollar.

Perhaps a better way to re-word this tip is to suggest honing in cooking, baking, foraging, and gardening skills to be able to make more with less and make ingredients stretch across several meals for the week? 

Maybe something like, "find enjoyment in cooking again," is a much better goal than trying to cut down on a food bill. After all, finding enjoyment in cooking may mean getting some base ingredients and slowly but surely moving away from higher price, pre-made, less healthy choices.

4. Taking on Extra Jobs

Money is time, and time is your one and only non-renewable mystery resource. You do not know how long you have left. If we all knew that, we would live each day very differently; however, an overwhelming amount of suggestions include taking on formal work, one-off gigs, or completing effort that might as well be an extra job. Even something as romantic sounding as foraging or gardening equates to added hours that cannot go towards something else. It's not all bad, kids love watching things grow and with enough instruction they might water the garden or do something else on their own. 

The issues come when adults in the home are stretched way too thin. Way too thin to complete the big emotional labor tasks, teach life lessons and skills to their children, and take care of their emotional and mental needs in a way where they are thriving.  

I understand sometimes it has to be done, I have done this too, but I wish this was not the easy solution. Truth be told, time is too precious. 

5. Sacrificing Comfort

Comfort goes a long way. I should know, I had spent an overwhelming amount of my life without it. So once I had found it and worked to keep it, I cringe at the awful advice of "getting out of your comfort zone." Here's my secret, I thrive in my comfort zone. Most people thrive in environments that are conducive to their own long-term growth. 

Your mind, body, and soul are their best when you are comfortable. Sure, stressful situations may bring out “your best” here and there; however, they are typically not sustainable and the lack of comfort is noticeable.


 

Friday, January 22, 2021

C-section and VBAC Birth Stories

Giving birth is a miracle--it doesn't matter how much of a role modern medicine plays. 

Doing all of the right things during a pregnancy doesn't seem to have that much of an impact on actual birth itself. At a certain point, it is about genetics and your odds. Without modern medicine, my first baby and I would have died or become seriously injured. 

And I'm not talking about modern medicine like give birth at home in a pool--no I'm talking about the operating room being available right there to save my life and ensure my baby is as healthy as he can be.

And I did all the right things like dieting, prenatal visits, prenatal vitamins, and prenatal exercise. I researched how different vitamins and nutrients absorb into my body. And for vanity, I researched the best lotions and butters to put on my belly to ease the growing pains and permanent marks. 

 

C-section Birth Story

Disclaimer: there is a lot of medical advice out there from local and global health resources, this is not one of those posts. 

None of this helped when I woke up early in the morning with cramps that just did not go away. I am not 100% even during my normal wake up time, so it was no surprise that it didn't register as birth right away. I followed the medical directions and timed my contractions for an hour to reach that 5, 1, 1, rhythm--just like I learned in the birthing class. I took a non-medicated birth class too. 

After the longest car ride, and the longest paperwork sessions of my life, I was in a bed, in absolute pain. 

I took the epidural shot thinking that absolutely anything including death is better than this. The shot worked, the IV worked, and my husband who was there with me by my side the entire time felt that he could move the car. One nurse mentioned that I could sleep until the baby is ready to come. With that assurance, I relaxed, and my husband left the hospital building to move the car. 

The doctor came in , completed a check. The doctor said that the baby was stressed and in a position impossible to deliver safely and that a c-section was the best outcome. I don't exactly remember the words, but there was expediency and I was given lots of paperwork to sign. 

I am sure these procedures are derived from research, data, and training; however, at the time, it did not seem like a choice. What was I going to do? Let my baby die or become injured inside me? I scribbled on all of those signature lines and initial spots as fast as I could. I was moved into the operating room. 

My husband was surprised when he was given a set of scrubs to put on immediately when he came back. I did not notice him changing, but I assume it was fast. 

I was given additional anesthesia, but could not go under due to the epidural. The anesthesiologist checked to make sure that I could not feel a wet wipe on the surface of my belly. 

The amount of anesthesia made my head spin and I managed to throw up every where. It was embarrassing, no one was happy, and to make matters worse, it was red because I had eaten frozen cherries the night before as a healthy treat in place of something with more sugar.  

But I never felt the cuts, I barely felt a change in pressure. All I heard was a crying baby. I could not see him. My husband, who didn't even deliver his baby, saw him and took pictures of him. 

They sewed me up, while cleaning up my baby and giving him his newborn exams.

We were moved into a smaller room and my baby was snuggled up like a borrito in a hospital swaddle blanket. My husband helped with taking care of the baby and changing the diapers. I was still feeling signs of my anesthesia. 


C-section Birth Recovery 

C-section recovery was worse than birth itself. I had no core muscle strength since my muscles were stretched and also cut up from the c-section operation. It is a major abdominal surgery. It was awful. I did not have the strength and comfort level to sleep in my own bed. I just slept on the couch. I was not getting the same quality of sleep, and I was not recovering as fast as others who had c-sections. 

I had developed an infection at the incision site despite cleaning the area and taking the prescribed antibiotics. The infection slowed down the healing process and only after a 3 or 4-hour trip to urgent care did I have the antibiotics dosage right to fight the infection.

I recovered slowly, I could eventually use my core muscles, cough, sneeze, and laugh at jokes without being in pain. 

It took me about 6 weeks to be able to do what I would have been able to do immediately following a vaginal birth. 

 

VBAC Story

A vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is not the default. There is effort from practitioners to make these more common, but not everyone gets one. This Web MD resource is a good primer. Your body is rated for how likely you are to be successful at this endeavor. Arguably, none of the criteria are something you can easily control in a healthy way. Yes, BMI is on there as well, and I do not believe that drastically changing a BMI in a short span of time, and especially while pregnant, is possible in a healthy way. 

So, I really wanted one. I did everything I did with my first baby, albeit less personal time since now I had a child. 

This baby did everything right during birth, and I had a long labor without losing patience. I had my wonderful epidural, I had my husband, I had my nurses, and it was a lot of pressure. I could feel a lot of pressure--not sure if it was pain exactly, but it was not the comfort other mothers have described like "having the biggest poop of your life."

Not for me anyway, my experience was long, and the baby's head took a while to go through the birth canal, and my body took a while. It just all took a while. My doctor said the right things to push me and she also knew that I was afraid of large tears seeing as I had a very bad experience with my c-section recovery. 

But the baby was happy the entire time while being born. It was the craziest thing going from a birth where I just heard my baby, to seeing the baby come out and go right to me. I had the baby on my chest crying like his brother did. It was a giant baby and the long labor made more sense after the fact. 

Unlike his brother, my younger baby had the classically reformed head from the birth canal journey. And like, his brother, he was almost the same weight. The doctor called my 9lb 7oz baby a whopper. 

I had a second degree tear that my doctor fixed with absorbable sutures. 

VBAC Recovery

The recovery was just like the Frida commercial that caused controversy. That was a good and honest commercial. But it was shorter. Much shorter, and I was able to walk longer distances sooner, as well as complete my chores. 

I had used up so many products from the hospital and from Amazon in order to make the recovery bearable.

While neither recovery from birth was glamorous, the recovery from the VBAC was much easier. I would recommend a VBAC to anyone who is able to get one. 

 

How the Births were the Same

1. Both were hard. 

2. Lack of sleep was consistent

3. My exercise routine was changed to being very gentle on myself after recovery.

4. Pain and discomfort were present during recovery

 

How the Births were Different

1. I could not drive after my c-section birth due to the pain relief medication, while I was able to drive almost right away after my VBAC.

2. I was unable to get up from the couch easily using my core muscles after a c-section, while I had trouble sitting from bruising my tailbone during birth after my VBAC. 

3. I was able to mitigate pain and recovery with my VBAC. The pain was in places that I could get to and I could identify what parts were in pain. I think I will write my experience bruising my tailbone in the future because it was profoundly painful weeks after birth and I don't think this injury is talked about enough.

4. I could laugh with a VBAC, meaning that I could relax with a VBAC.

5. While I am reminded everyday that I had a c-section when I get dressed, I cannot detect my second degree tear. Second degree tears are most common (link). 

6. Bathroom trips following a c-section were easier.

Monday, January 18, 2021

8 Approaches for Reaching and Surpassing Your 2021 Mama Goals

It's a new year! And I'm happy to be back and ready to make my 2021 goals not only a reality, but a happy reality. I want to run a few victory laps. 

But, it's difficult to do when you're a mom. 

2020 was a hard year during which many doors had closed and I wanted 2021 to be different. This is why I had gathered up resources to help my bring my goals and dreams for 2021 to fruition. 

 

1. Hour by Hour

 

There are so many cliches that come to mind about parenting such as "they're only little once," and "the days are long, but the years are short." All true, which only makes these sayings more cringeworthy. 

And yet, why do we as moms, and parents in general, sometimes find ourselves craving a stressful minute to just be over, for bedtime to start, or a babysitter to get here? It's because being "on" 24-7 is hard as a new parent and I bet it gets more stressful with age as the kids get older.

The hour by hour tracking system budgets each hour like a currency in a budget. Each hour was made for something. This way no longer does a day just slide out from underneath a tired caregiver, but the day can be tracked and documented. Each hour needs to work. 

I found this approach to be helpful when going for better habits like better communication with my kids.

I also found this approach to be useful when breaking down schedules that were weather dependent. For example, if it was going to rain around 3pm, the objective for a weekend was to complete a walk and take the kids to a playground before 2:30.


2. Try Something New

 

Being a new mom often has days that just blend together in which the new and all important responsibilities dance around in a 24-hour cycle around the different squares of the calendar. To combat this boredom from repetitive responsibilities, I enjoy adding something different to the mix to make each week stand out a little. 

Ruts still happen, but they are much fewer than they were before. My first choice would be to go out into a new place in nature. While that only happens weather permitting, my second choice is to find a nice audio-book or a good movie to watch. My favorite morsels of creative entertainment have been "Mexican Gothic" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Bridgerton, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. 

Trying something new gives new life to the most standard and mundane tasks.

Yes, having a beautiful and well-kept home is a wonderful thing if you are summoned by the divine for this endeavor, but some days, it's just hard. This helps so much. Maybe this tip is only for extroverts, but maybe it's for everyone a bit. (Side note: I prescribe to the opinion that  extroversion or introversion is not "how social you are," but how much you prefer to interact with your environment.) 


3. Mom Report Card

 

This one is for all of the habit trackers out there, myself included. In the business world, I prefer ground truth data over feelings and Deming principles over "going with the flow." As moms or parents or caretakers, we have to make our own flow or the day makes us. 

This is a great approach to crushing goals because they are about honesty. First, goals should be realistic. If you created a lofty goal and its demoralizing watching it be further and further out of reach, replace it with something more realistic. Next, it's important to document wins and setbacks. Both are natural and a part of life. 

 

4. Make it a Game

 

This one is great for competitive parents out there. Yes, competition between parents is toxic and not the foundation to true friendship, but competition between you and your past self is fair game and fun. The old you did not have the same experience and mindset that you have now. Your old personal record is about to be crushed over and over. 

You can make either completing your smaller goals a game or you can make the journey to get to the goal a game. Take for example a clean kitchen floor. You can either do it super fast, on time, and mark that task done, OR you can give yourself point for every square foot of space that you clean.  

My personal favorite is a throwback to mall arcades. I write a to-do-list where every distinct task has its own number, then I designate how many complete tasks correspond to prizes and what the prizes are. While this sounds a tad like treating yourself, it is, but there are also ways to do this while also being fiscally conservative by either buying things that you will need later earlier (e.g. tooth paste, you will hopefully always need toothpaste), or paying down a debt, or adding to a savings account. 


5. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

 

I love the approach to happiness as the approach to the happiness of the whole family. And that's why I love the Maslow's hierarchy of needs approach. It's easy to follow, it just goes from the ground up. Every great building is built on good solid ground or a solid foundation. 

This is often second nature, but we sometimes forget to continue moving up the hierarchy of needs. 

As a disclaimer, I have seen people thrive while not having some of the basic needs met. There are always exceptions, but for me and many people I know, and modern psychology would side with building up. 

For me, I cannot excuse crafting while my home is dirty. I once came across the partial hoax, partially doctored message "from a Singer manual"--debunked here. It emphasized having all other affairs in order before undertaking sewing. This meant nothing in the physical or mental space was to be a bother. While the origin of the story was a hoax, the author of the linked blog follows through with exerts of the original doctored work with its good message preserved. 

 

6. Mind, Body, Heart, Soul

 

Okay, this one goes to all of those past studious students who would study in the library until finals, live there, then spend summers outside to make up for lost rays of sunshine. N

No. Extremes don't work in a family structure. You cannot, not bathe your kids, or not prepare bottles and pump. You cannot ignore the emotional needs of your children while making sure they can get a partial football scholarship. You can't ignore these important aspects of your life, because if you ignore them, no one else will take care of them. 

 I chose mind, body, heart and soul because those are the various areas of my family life and my focus. 

It's my focus for 2021 to care about all of these areas instead of just the mind and heart. Those were the 2020 objectives, but this year is going to be different. 

 

7. Continuous Improvement


One of my favorite words of all time is Kaizen, meaning change for the better. We have goals because we want to improve our lives in some way. 

This approach is perfect if you have BIG goals. You can break them down and try to reach small milestones without looking at the big goal all at once. 

Chances are that if you break down your big goals into small tasks or baby steps, and commit even one full minute to it everyday, you will move forward with enough focus if you have the necessary resources.

A big goal for 2021 is to write more and live more fully. As a result I have monthly goals for how often I write. My BIG goal is to write a book by the end of 2021. We will see how that unfolds. 

 

8. Accountability 

A lot of people say they want something, they tell everyone, and then they never do it. That happens a lot and in order to avoid this, you have to be accountable to yourself or others. Talk to those who want to see you succeed. Truly succeed. 

Maybe figure out a way to be accountability buddies or to give yourself consequences for not meeting certain goals. This sounds harsh but could be a great motivator. 

Did you not complete that one work email that you really wanted to? I guess that ice cream can wait, ice cream is for closers. 

What I like about this approach is that you can have flexibility when you need to. Being accountable to yourself also means not abusing your energy. All of your being is accountable to all of your being. And that is truly beautiful.

URSTYLE Link: https://urstyle.fashion/styles/2826113

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Five Reasons Why Sunday Night is the Loneliest Time for Working Moms--and What to Do About It

After a beautiful day of fun, accidents, messes, cuddles, and all around love, Sunday night is the LONELIEST TIME FOR WORKING MOMS.

URSTYLE link: https://urstyle.fashion/styles/2823227

 

Let's be clear, I wouldn't have it any other way, but knowing that you are about to wear so many hats during the week is hard for several reasons. 

1. It's Hard Filling Your Own Bucket While Momming

Let's face it, little kids need constant attention and focus on anything else for too long is either impossible or dangerous. And even while not watching them, I am making sure I order medicine, have enough diapers, and make calls to set up a doctor's appointment. These caregiver tasks don't end. Then, once the kids fall asleep, it's hard addressing my own tasks that I neglected for a while. Showers, planning out my week, writing a to do list, stretching, those things take time and are very hard to do within the small window between the kids' bedtime and my bedtime. It's just a space of alone time in my planner.

2. You Still Have Hopes and Dreams for Meaningful Social Interactions

I don't want to be melodramatic, but I still have things that I would like to complete in life like save the planet a little more, advance my career, travel, etc. And it is my non-parent friends that unabashedly talk about these things and I find a lot of common ideas, but not a lot of common free time to get into deep conversations on a regular basis. We end up bonding over our weekend projects instead through pictures and limited texting (please see number one about focus).

3. Getting Mentally Ready for the Week

I'm getting ready to juggle, my partner and I or our care giver team need to huddle up and know the game plan or someone will fumble a proverbial ball. One or two fumbles will not ruin a week, but little mishaps here and there add up until I'm are ready to count down to Friday.

I also have to switch personalities. No one wants to hear how potty training my child is going besides maybe another parent at work. I'm not saying you have to fake a stan level of interest in a sport or a movie, but it's time to put the "mom plus" personality away for the week because it does distract from the team dynamic at work. And also--people are shallow and generally don't value accidents involving bodily fluids. 

4. Then Sometimes, It's the Work You Have to Start Before Monday Ever Comes

There are a billion little tasks that need to get done as part of being a functioning person in society. These include regular doctors appointments, car service appointments, health and beauty appointments (self-care), and regular home repairs. Whether big or small, these errands and responsibilities carve away from the work week.

As a result, I want to get ahead before I can get behind. I also prefer to read important documents without kids crying and giggling in the background. Nights are perfect for first read overs, edits, and first email drafts.

5. Back to Number Two

It takes time to save the world, or to learn a new skill that can set you apart when you're back behind that computer. It's hard feeling like another weekend has passed and you are no where near where you wanted to be, and that's okay. I just feel empty compared to that energy boost I feel when I finish a big home or hobby project. 

 

What to Do About It

 

I bet you can already tell that I love numbers, so here are some suggestions without much order:

1. Do one minute of a hobby or home project. Be honest with yourself, you weren't going to install those solar panels yourself anyway. And you would have taken some time and thought about your choices before committing to a big project like this in the first place.

2. Learn to ignore anything that is not urgent. I am behind on Christmas cards and Christmas presents. It was just 2020 outside, I know people who did "everything right" and their stuff still arrived late and they are behind too. 

3. If your primary love language is quality time or words of affirmation, try out converting it to something that fits current COVID guidance. Words of affirmation can be completed on social media or over mail with cards. Quality time might be possible through refined coordination with friends and family about watching movies and shows at similar times or seeing each other while socially distancing. 

4. Instead of staying up late to work, focus twice as hard when you are at work and you can make every minute work a bit extra. 

5. Fill your bucket without apologizing. And figure out a way to fill your bucket faster and deplete is slower during the day. Sleep, hygiene, beauty, what ever it is. It is worth it. And the biggest investment that you can make is in yourself. This might be meal planning to include a decadent dessert after kids' bedtime.   

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

An Honest Usborne Book Review


I first came across Usborne books when one of my friends asked if I would go to an Usborne book party that she was a virtual host for.

Before that, most books companies that I was aware of were the big publishing houses that filled big book stores, used bookstores, and school book fairs alike. 

I do not need an excuse to buy children's books because we read books throughout the day. I quickly picked out some books that were interactive and accessible for my child at the time. 

I received the books and we have enjoyed many evenings touching textured pages and lifting flaps.

URSTYLE Link: https://urstyle.fashion/styles/2775628

The books vary in subject, targeted age range, and quality. The prices reflect this. 

The touchy-feely book that I own is an amazing quality with thick pages. The illustrations that accessible to babies who may not be able to see in full colors. And I appreciate that it was made for babies instead of the adults.

I want to be very honest when I say that the illustrations are not unique works of art exactly. The artwork is made to stand up to repeated wear and tear though. And that is most important to me right now. This might be a skewed view since I did not get any thematically intricate books like a fairy tale.

The drawback to these books is that they do thrive in an MLM structure. The MLM business structure makes me wary. And I will tell you why. Usborne books are everywhere online, in big box stores, and at virtual MLM parties. I feel like all of these platforms compete with one another and I genuinely feel like the "book people" should get a fraction of all generic online sales since they are the ones doing the majority of detailed marketing. 

Even as I write this, there is a list of books that I want to get and I also have a "maybe" future list depending on what my kids get into as they get older. 

All that said, I have heard some concerns and a bit of conflict from independent authors and illustrators who find that these books can overwhelm regional small business fairs to the point that it is harder for local authors to compete at the very events that were essentially designed for them. So knowing this, I hope that anyone reading this article spends additional effort sleuthing online for local authors and independent authors in addition to these wonderful books.

In particular, I think it is important to shop for books where illustrations jump of the pages, especially in this day and age where parents are discouraged from taking their children to museums. I think that illustrators are amazing and it is important to seek books that support illustrators. Also, I feel it is important to ensure that my bookshelf includes books with characters that look like my child as well as characters who that do not look like my child. 


Saturday, October 17, 2020

Maternity Wardobe Additions for a Fall/Winter Pregnancy

 

URSTYLE link: https://urstyle.fashion/styles/2773442

 

You don't have to buy an all new wardrobe in order to look stylish while pregnant.

If you are a clothing minimalist, or if you want to dress yourself without breaking the bank, this post is for you!

First and foremost, I want to say that most social media regarding pregnancy is a lot of lies. No one wears a maternity gown every day. Most expecting parents wear loose clothing that still fits from their non-maternity wardrobe until there is no choice but to wear maternity or otherwise over-sized clothing if maternity is not your cup of tea.

Outerwear

Second, yes, if you are going to be nine months pregnant during the winter then you will need a coat or a very, very warm wool sweater that fits over your belly and then some. There is no way around it in a cold climate. 

I would usually say that if you intend on taking walks, even if it's from your car to your destination that it is worth splurging on something comfortable. This being 2020 with outings limited due to COVID-19, it makes less sense to get something aesthetically appealing and more practical, social distance activity-friendly options seem like the best choice. 

Jeans and Pants

If you use the popular and brilliant rubber band technique or the belly bandit, then you might be able to spend the majority of your pregnancy in your favorite, non-maternity, jeans. 

Jeans are very practical and I placed these on my list because I wore them at least three times a week during the second and third trimesters.

If you work outside of the home where business attire is the norm, you will have to purchase enough office friendly bottoms. More often than not, business and business casual clothing is less friendly to the life hacks such as the rubber band or the belly bandit. 

One of my favorite shopping moments was finding a pair of Loft Maternity pants at a thrift store for maternity wear. It was a steal for the price, and although they were a bit tight in the ninth month of pregnancy, I love these pants and still wear them almost a year postpartum.

Nursing Tanks

If you are also planning to breastfeed, this is a good investment now. These tanks tend to run long and they will be the go to top after your baby is born. You might want to get some ahead of time now and have additional undergarments. These tanks tend to stretch.

Leggings 

Leggings are essential for the winter time to go under dresses. And if you are following your doctor's recommendations of doing light exercise, you need to supplement your athleisure with maternity choices during pregnancy. You don't even have to get maternity leggings although they are a big plus. If there is a non-maternity pattern or style that you like, you might be able to size up and wear them up to your due date, it all depends on the material and the clothing brand.

Dresses

Dresses are underrated as maternity wear. I love sweater dresses or wrap dresses because they will stretch. 

Shirts and Sweaters

While I highly suggest re-purposing your own pieces, it might be a good idea to have a few key shirts and sweaters ready to go for just about any activity. There is only so far that re-purposing can go. And sometimes, it makes sense to be put together just a little more.

I think sweaters are a good investment in general and they don't have to be maternity. A cozy wool or cashmere blend sweater will always come handy while sipping coco by a campfire or taking a brisk walk long after the baby is born. 

As someone who is naturally always a bit cold, I want to point out that Merino wool, machine cold-washable wool, is a great investment and will stay warm even when wet. It will always be worth the initial investment without the headache of dry-cleaning. 

Open Faced Cardigans

While this might look like an ordinary sweater, it is more of a maternity wear power house. These cardigans can often effectively shield a pregnant belly from the elements without having to be a maternity item. 

They are easy layers to put on and take off and will serve time and time again during pregnancy and long after the baby is born. 

If you live in milder climates, these pieces can be your outerwear layer. 

Comfortable Sleepwear

This last essential addition to the maternity wardrobe is comfortable, breathable sleepwear. The final trimester is not a comfortable destination. You need all of the comfort so that you can get the rest that you need and deserve. 

Also, chances are that when your baby does come, you want to be as comfortable as possible. 

To be fair, most Mamas I know tend to "borrow" an oversized shirt from their husbands, but it is far better to get your own.  


 

Friday, September 25, 2020

The 7 Secrets to Happiness on Mondays as a Working Mama

Being a working mother is a beautiful thing. And yet, it does not look like it on Mondays. Sometimes it doesn't look like that on other days of the week either. 

Mondays are like the first game of the season for the week. It seems to layout a certain flow to the rest. That's why having it go well is a wonderful gift. 

I used to hate Mondays up until just about recently. Funny enough, these are also the years that I have accepted more responsibility in my home life and in my professional career. By all accounts, I should be having miserable mornings full of spilled, cold coffee on business casual clothes, multiple diaper changes, and dramatic scenes at maximum volume.

And while those Mondays happen as well, I am pleased to say that my mornings typically function smoothly. Or smoothly enough. Here are 7 secrets to finding that elusive happiness on a Monday morning.

1. The No-Brainer Secret

This one is a baseline secret, but here it is, Get into Your Flow.

Here is a good video on what is flow and I will try to paraphrase it in Mama terms with concrete examples. Flow is being completely involved in the task at hand with the ego forgotten. Flow is being really good at sorting laundry when you focus on it. Flow is listening to your child talk about a story and bonding. 

Flow can happen on Monday mornings. 

My Flow is borrowed from habits established from wearing many hats and the wonderful and very helpful Jordan Page's Block Schedule idea.  

It is much easier to be happy, relaxed, and focused when you know exactly what you have to do and how to do it. 

I find my Flow from knowing my what I need to do in the morning. There is a checklist in my head that I go through before anyone leaves the house. And there are so-called blocks or periods of wearing certain hats, like my make believe firefighter hat or my chef hat. 

I call this the no-brainer secret because there is no overthinking involved. People reach a state of Flow when they are doing tasks and activities that are second nature to them in that moment in time. 

2. Your Phone is Not Your Friend

There are so many things to unpack here. I am not saying that browsing social media and connecting with people is wrong. Checking email first thing in the morning is also not inherently wrong. 

It is the habit for habit's sake that is the problem. It creates an odd family culture in your household where your child might learn very early on that being physically there is not the same as being mentally or emotionally present.

So if you can be there mentally and emotionally for your child while looking at 3 screens and making dinner, then all is good. 

I know for myself that my minutes can escape me as I scroll through social media.

I try my hardest to avoid this. 

It is also a lot harder to do things in the morning when you are not mentally and emotionally in your same space.

I am trying to cutback on my phone use and when I do, I notice my mind come to a healthier place. I am not curious to know what 800 of my closest friends--some of whom I've only met once or haven't talked to since high school--are doing. And my phone transforms into a pocket reference to the rest of the world instead of an invisible net that is tying up my morning routine. 

3. The Morning Routine

Speaking of the morning routine, it is crucial. 

And here I am a stereotypical mother who loves her morning routine. We all recommend a good morning routine because it works. 

It's not really a secret, but it is detrimentally underrated that it might as well be one. A routine is not meant to remove any spontaneity from your life, but instead is meant to take out a lot of the bad possibilities.

4. Not Starting Behind

It is a wonderful feeling not running behind on chores, social obligations, or work deadlines. It is an amazing feeling not drowning in tasks, but instead having the time and opportunity to enjoy them in a state of flow. 

A very easy thing that you can do is to prepare bottles ahead of time or meals ahead of time as much as possible. Another thing is to take care of one weekly chore per night. And yet another thing is to complete some reading either for personal growth, a book club, or for professional reasons.  

The next aspect of this secret is one that unfortunately cannot be changed with just an "abundance" mindset. It's about having resources. There is a certain amount of basic resources or necessities you need like food, clothing, shelter, and safety that is necessary. 

For example, if you do not have food in your home, then you are behind sustenance for the morning. And in fact, it is usually the tangible and intangible resource deficits that make us miserable on Mondays. I hope that everyone reading this has their basic necessities on every day of the week. And same goes for people not reading this entry as well.  

5. Planning for Something Fun, Exciting or Comforting

It is good to look forward to something. So it makes my Monday better to look forward to a visit from family or catching up with a friend. 

I don't know who needs to hear this, but you should not reserve a bit of a reprieve from your daily grind ONLY for when everything is perfect. Chances are that perfect will never come. It is necessary to keep your bucket full. And filling your bucket is just as important as making sure your children are well-fed, clothed, and have their emotional needs met. 

I enjoy reading for enjoyment, catching up with friends, and taking bubble baths. You might enjoy something else. 

6. Make it a Game

As a Mama, I know what it is like to have your days melt together. With everyone spending more time at home on zoom calls instead of physical events and meetings, it is a lot easier to lose track of time. That is why I have a simple mental tool for how to avoid the old adage of "the years are short, but the days are long," Make. It. A. Game.

While this is not the best analogy, add some way to quantify an aspect of your day and make a goal. Then, give yourself a reward for it. Did you have nothing but patience as your child had a meltdown at a park after you spent hours planning and buying tickets? And did you not lose your head? Great! Give yourself a sticker, add a dollar to your savings account. Something. Find a way to measure your progress on your journey and most importantly celebrate each step.

7. Practice and Repeat

I am borrowing a lesson that was passed onto me from a very brilliant woman. And I am going to do my best to paraphrase it.

The first time that you do something that you have true talent in, you think you are going to be awesome at it. But no, the first time you do anything, even if you have talent in it, you are going to blow it and it will go horribly. 
 
Life takes practice. And the funny thing about being a mama, a mommy, or a mom, is that the title might stay the same, but our lives might change drastically from one week to the next. And as parents, we keep having these "firsts" that go horribly because we did not have enough practice of these new firsts. 
 
So practice and repeat. It will get better. 

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