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Survival tools for stay-at-home moms

Survival tools for stay-at-home moms

Many women across the globe have learned that being a stay-at-home mom is not as easy as they previously thought. The responsibilities are endless, the boss is demanding regardless of time, and you may even have to perform some tasks with little or no sleep. Your baby must be fed, bathed, entertained and changed around the clock. Broken down, each task is fairly simple enough to perform. However, these are not the only responsibilities for a stay-at-home mom.

Although you may have finally gotten your baby to sleep, there are still jobs you must do around the home. Laundry is constantly piling up, as are dishes and dirty bottles. And don’t forget to pay bills on time, buy the groceries and prepare dinner for the rest of the family. Unfortunately, you can’t just cater to baby. You have to make sure the rest of the family is comfortable too.

To lessen the stress of these day-to-day requirements, organize and prioritize. Every morning, take a pen and paper, and write down all of the activities that need to be done that day. Try not to leave out even the smallest activity. Once you’re finished, look over the list again. Rewrite it in order of priority: most important activities at the top. When your baby is napping, go down the list, completing each activity. If you finish your entire list before your baby wakes – congratulations. If not, put the list aside for now and focus on baby until the next nap time. Using this method will ensure that you always get the most important task done that day. If you don’t finish the other activities, it’s okay. Remember they weren’t high priority to begin with. You can even carry your list over to the next day then cycle back to the top when the list is finished.

Time management is an essential skill for a stay-at-home mom. Sometimes this means dinner is prepared during your baby’s afternoon nap at 1pm and reheated when the family is ready to eat later in the evening. It may become the norm for laundry to be washed and folded at 4am after your baby’s early morning feeding, when it’s too late for mom to go back to sleep. Compromises will be made every day. The most important thing is to eliminate any stress over daily tasks as much as possible.

This might leave you wondering – is there any time left for mom? All moms need time to focus only on themselves in order to recharge for the next day. This time could be as simple as having time to shower or bathe, being able to enjoy a cup of tea, meditate or taking the time to write in a journal about your day. Time alone for mom is often extremely limited but absolutely necessary. Making the most of these available moments can help make mundane daily tasks seem like less of an obstacle.

While your baby is awake and ready to play, singing and dancing are wonderful ways to make mom and baby smile. Try holding your baby close while making slow, fluid movements. You can even sing your favorite song. Your baby will love the closeness he feels with mom, and it will help mom melt away some of the tension that builds up during the day.

Soon more time will be available as your baby develops a routine and sleeps for longer periods of time. Until then, try not to stress over chores. Organize, prioritize and spend every moment possible building a loving bond with your child.

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Decorating your child’s room

One of the most thrilling activities on the journey to preparing for your baby is decorating the nursery. There are endless possibilities when it comes to the latest trends with colors, fabrics and themes. However, before you dive head first into picking out furniture, consider the energy given off by each color when putting it in the room. Do you ever wonder why you can walk into a room and feel soothed regardless of furniture placement? Or perhaps you try repeatedly moving the furniture in a room, but something just never feels right? The colors in the room may be your problem. Each individual color exudes a specific vibration or energy that contributes to the mood of the room.

When decorating your baby’s room, try to think beyond the stereotypical blues and pinks that accompany gender roles. Consider the feel and energy you want the nursery to have. For example, think of the color blue. Shades of blue are very calming and tranquil. Both girls and boys would benefit from having a space where they can relax and feel at ease. It may even help a fussy baby sleep better. Mixing softer shades of blues with pinks can produce a serene space for a baby girl that has a bit more of a feminine flare. The color pink has a feminine and loving energy that will add a friendly feel to the room.

A color combination to take into consideration if encouraging sleep is the goal is mixing together shades of blues and grays. Like we said before, blue has a tranquil energy, while gray works well to neutralize any negative energy. The result is a calming space that helps you forget your negative thoughts just by being in the room. If you are still totally against having blue in a girl’s room, a combination of gray and pink will also work very well. If it’s a boy for whom you’re decorating, gray walls with blue accents are neutral enough to withstand the years to come while still achieving the soothing and comfortable feel of the room for a newborn baby.

As your baby changes from newborn to infant to toddler, you want the room to evolve with him. By the toddler and preschool stage, you want to have colors that not only soothe your child, but also spark their imagination and encourage their rapidly increasing intellect. Yellow and green would be an excellent combination to use at this age. For boys, you might want to go with the primary versions of these colors, using yellow for the walls and green for the curtains, bedding and accessories, such as bookshelves and area rugs. In a girl’s room, try neutral beige walls with earthy tones of yellow and green in the window treatments and bedding. Green will provide a level of comfort with its healing energy while yellow ignites the intellect and aids in concentration. This will be key as your child continues to grow and learn. As many of us know, toddlers and preschoolers are like little sponges. They are continuously soaking up information all around them, though not always the information we may want. Reading, playing and learning while surrounded by yellow may help your child retain the information presented to them.

As children get older, they will want to show their independence by choosing the colors of their room. Colors to keep out of a space used for sleep, no matter how much they may beg, are red and orange. These colors exude such a stimulating energy that if sleep was accomplished in this room, it would not be the deep and rejuvenating sleep that’s needed. Red is a passionate color, and, even in the parents’ room, is not recommended due to its high energy level. Orange contains only one type of energy, stimulating. Reds and oranges are colors you would fit perfectly in a room that has a high activity level such as the kitchen. However, black is a color where you may want to bend a bit and give in. It is a color that can easily absorb and suck out negativity, leaving you feeling relatively stress free. Black sheets under colored blankets or a black comforter may be just what you need to achieve a great night of rest without using it as your primary color in the room.

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Moms! Put the spark back in your relationship

The journey of parenthood brings new responsibilities and a profound shift in focus for both parents. Suddenly, everything in the home revolves around your new bundle of joy – from money matters to laundry duty. Unfortunately, this new shift in focus can easily cause you to lose sight of the very relationship that brought baby into being – the relationship between you and your spouse.

As a stay-at-home mom, I am responsible for all our household chores while my husband works six days a week so we can afford our current lifestyle. Every ounce of energy we have revolves around our new baby. Regretfully, by day’s end, we have very little energy left to spend time on “us.” It’s a sacrifice most people have to make for the sake of a new baby. While it is unfortunate that we have to make such a sacrifice, it is completely understandable. However, I am always on the lookout for ways to put that “spark” back in our relationship.

As moms, we have to remember that not only was he in our lives first, our partner will still be in our lives long after our baby has grown up and is out living a life of his own. Make sure you show your partner how special he is every day. Here are some great ideas for keeping your relationship healthy while also taking care of your precious gift.

Have a romantic dinner for two. Being a mom myself, I know that creating a magical dinner for two isn’t always possible between baby feedings, doing laundry and dirty dishes. However, there will always be those days, however few and far between, when the Universe will seem to align in your favor. This is the time to prepare a meal that he will truly appreciate. Try making him his favorite meal but surprise him by serving it with the lights dimmed and candles lit. Let’s face it – candles can add a romantic glow, even when you’re just serving hot dogs and potato chips.

Surprise him by wearing something other than the normal t-shirt and shorts to bed. When your baby is finally asleep and you two retire to your bedroom, show him that it’s couple time by wearing an outfit that catches his utmost attention. Perhaps wear nothing at all. Whatever the outfit may be, it is guaranteed to give both of you a second wind and get those fires burning once again.

Try surprising him with a kiss. How many times a day do you walk by your partner and even show that you notice he’s there? Give him an unexpected kiss, a smile, a hug or a grab to let him know you are thinking of him. It may lead to some unexpected results that are sure to keep both of you smiling throughout the day.

Indulge his sweet tooth. The next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up ingredients for his favorite dessert. Perhaps if he’s feeling low or has had a rough day, you can quickly whip up something sweet and surprise him with a little decadence.

Send him a love letter. If you know he’s on his computer all day, send him an email. If he’s on the road all day, write a short love note and pack it in his lunch cooler for him to find while he’s away. I guarantee he’ll enjoy finding a sweet note to break up the monotony of his day.

I’ve been able to incorporate all these activities into my life without spending extra money to find a sitter…and without having to divert from my daily routine as a mom. These ideas are incredibly simple and yet so many couples underestimate their power. However, if a baby sitter is available, take advantage of this opportunity. Having time together as a couple outside the home is one of the best ways to keep the two of you in touch. Schedule a night out for dinner, a movie or surprise him with tickets to a sporting event or concert you know he is sure to enjoy.

Letting him know that you are still passionately in love with him doesn’t have to take a lot of work. Do what he likes and mix in new ideas for that added spark. The goal here is to let him know that not only is he always front and center in your mind, but that you are now and forever more madly in love with him.

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Visualizing the perfect nap time

It’s that time – time to lay your baby down in his crib for a nap. Picking your baby up, you hold him close and slowly make your way to his room. The shades are drawn and the crib is ready. The atmosphere is calm and serene to help lull your baby into a deep, rejuvenating sleep. Standing next to the crib, you wait for that perfect moment that only a parent knows. Now. Slowly, trying not to make any sudden moves that could startle your baby from his drowsy state, you lower your baby into the crib until finally you feel the mattress underneath your hands. You smooth your hands out, success so close you can taste it. Then, you turn your back to the crib and begin to tiptoe from the room when it happens. Your baby is screaming. What do you do?

You could simply walk out of the room, shut the door behind you and wait patiently right outside the door listening to every sound the baby makes knowing that soon sleep will take over. More often than not this works, at least it did in my case. However, I did feel a great sense of guilt about being away from my baby rather than immediately going in to soothe and calm him. I decided there must be a better way. There has to be a way for moms to detach and yet still be connected enough to their babies so there isn’t any anxiety.

Following my mommy instincts, I stumbled upon a method that helped make the transition from my arms to the crib an easier one for my baby and me. It involves using a visualization technique and requires mom to be calm and relaxed. This will work.

The first step is to determine when your baby is sleepy and ready for a nap. Look for signs such as glazed eyes, yawning, sucking on fingers or thumbs, red cheeks and crying. When a baby is tired, often he’ll look for a way to comfort himself like sucking on his fingers or thumbs. Maybe your baby prefers a pacifier. If baby is unable to comfort himself, or simply has not realized how yet, crying is what may come next. By crying, your baby knows he will get comfort from you.

Try to follow a normal routine before nap. This may include feeding or simply singing a favorite lullaby. Also make sure that your baby has a clean diaper. If your baby prefers to be swaddled in a blanket, do that as well.

Make sure you have the room ready for sleep so there is nothing more to be done besides putting the baby in the crib and walking out. There is nothing more distracting than trying to get shades drawn or a mobile playing while you’re trying to get baby into sleep mode.

When standing beside the crib, hold your baby close to you. Close your eyes and visualize a warm, soft colored blanket embracing both you and your baby. Continue to hold your baby close until this visualization is so strong you can almost feel the fibers of the blanket. Slowly visualize the blanket separating from you but still embracing baby. Know firmly in your mind that this security blanket will keep your baby feeling safe and close to you during sleep. Hold tight to the visualization as you lay your baby down in his crib.

This method helped me feel a sense of calm and security when leaving my baby in his crib for a nap, as I knew he was safe in our “security blanket.”

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Rethink, reuse, reward

By now, I’m sure you’ve noticed the amount of empty containers and boxes left over from disposable diapers and wipes thrown away every week. Or perhaps you have zipper bags that once housed your baby’s bedding and curtains. Oh, and let’s not forget the number of clothes your baby seems to outgrow daily. Ever wonder what in the world should you do with them? Well, there is no need to wonder anymore. Here are some great ideas on how you can reuse these items and perhaps even save yourself cash.

Let’s start with all of those diapers boxes. If you’re like me, you tend to buy diapers in bulk. Before you simply flatten them for recycling, try to “think outside the box.” When your baby begins to crawl, you’re going to want items to keep him entertained while he’s on the move. Why not use all of those cardboard boxes and make a tunnel? Simply open the flaps of a box so they are extended outward. Then, use some heavy duty tape to secure the box in an upright position. Lastly, cut two holes that will allow your baby to crawl in and out. If you want, you can decorate the outside of the box and use more than one to create a long tunnel for your baby to explore. If you’re unsure of using the boxes as toys, they can always be used for inexpensive storage containers. They are big enough to house several of your baby’s favorite toys while being small enough to cart around when visiting friends and relatives.

If instead you tend to buy diapers by the bagful, don’t simply throw away the bag as soon as it is empty. Try using it to line your waste basket like a trash bag. You may end up saving money on the amount of trash bags you need to buy. If not, then at least you can wrap up your dirty diaper before throwing it in the garbage. That might help reduce the smell.

Purchasing baby wipes in those lovely plastic boxes is very convenient. Unfortunately, the more of them you purchase, the more plastic boxes you will have. Don’t fret. There are many ways you can use them after they are no longer needed for their original purpose. Once your baby is older, these plastic containers will be invaluable. Use them as boxes to house your child’s crayons, markers, pencils or even stickers. He could also keep toys organized and labeled for his marbles or cards. Flash cards would also fit perfectly in the containers. The possibilities are truly endless.

Another convenient item to have on hand is the plastic bag in which your child’s bedding came. These bags are great because they usually have zippers. The smaller bags are great to keep extra clothes in for when you’re on the go. You can also use them to store small items such as toys and crayons. The larger bags would be great for storing blankets and even toy blocks. It’s been my experience that the packaging the large building blocks come doesn’t always hold up very well when it has been opened and closed repeatedly. Having a replacement for the packaging is always a good idea.

And let’s not forget the never-ending parade of baby clothes. Babies tend to outgrow their newborn clothes quickly. But don’t just throw them out. If you have a daughter, she will enjoy using those clothes to dress her dolls and stuffed animals. Even cloth diapers could be used during play. Think about when she is learning about how to use the potty. When she trades in diapers for big girl underwear, she can then move on to using them for her own “babies.”

The idea here is to think before you simply toss something out. With a little creativity, you can find alternative ways to not only use the items purchase, but the packaging as well

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Mommy pick-me-ups

With jam-packed days that start at the crack of dawn, it’s easy to see how the feeling of being overwhelmed can creep into your mind. Breathe! Feeling constantly overwhelmed doesn’t have to ruin your mood for the entire day. At the onset of these feelings, close your eyes and try to use the following techniques to help bring your thoughts and feelings back to a happier state.

Quick mood-lifter
Take a deep breath. Hold it in, close your eyes, and smile a little. Better yet, give a huge smile. Count backward from 10 while exhaling slowly. At the end of the exhalation, while still smiling, open your eyes. Hold your smile for as long as possible.

The five-second makeover
No matter how your home is decorated, I’m sure you know where all of the reflective surfaces are. How do you see at yourself when you look at your reflection? Do you stop and study yourself? Are you pleased with your reflection? Do you scowl at imperfections? Do you ignore your presence altogether? The next time you run into the bathroom for anything, look at yourself in the mirror, smile and say a positive phrase to your reflection. For example, “I am beautiful”, “Blessed be” or “I can overcome.” If you can’t think of anything to say, try a simple gesture. Blow yourself a kiss or simply smile at your reflection. After just a day or two of complimenting yourself each time you see your reflection, you will start to feel quite happy with how you look. Perhaps it will also help you feel better about yourself all week long.

Stand tall
Inhale deeply while reaching high above your head with your hands. Stretch with your whole body from the tips of your fingers down to your toes. Exhale slowly while bringing your arms down to your side, and relax until your feet are flat on the floor. Repeat as much as you need until you feel renewed with energy.

Smile
Never underestimate the power of a smile. It will make you feel better inside while doing it and it will make those around you feel better and want to smile with you. Remember, misery loves company. Don’t invite it into your life when you’re trying to be positive. Smile until everyone else is smiling too.

The scent of citrus
Not only is citrus a healthy snack full of vitamin C, but giving it a quick sniff may be enough to lift your spirits and give you an energy boost. Fruits such as lemons and oranges aid in battling colds and can help keep you off the couch. With a new baby, who even has time to stay on the couch all day anyway?

Stay hydrated
Drinking the recommended eight glasses of water daily will do more than make your body work more efficiently – it will help keep your mood at an even keel as well. Mild dehydration may cause headaches, muscle cramps, and constipation. All these symptoms could wreak havoc on a person’s emotions. Grab a glass of water and drink to your health and happiness.

The most important thing to remember is that you have plenty of time to complete everything on your “to do” list. You will accomplish all of your tasks regardless of your stress level. Take the time to look around at everything you have already completed so far. Be your own inspiration.

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