Baby Shower ideas for second time moms

Ideas for a second time baby showerWhen I was about to have my rookie baby, Holden, I looked at my friend Susan (going at it for the second time) as though she were a total expert. I thought that I was sooooo special (not true!) and sooooo clueless (true!) but she had it all figured out.

Well, I have news for my rookie-pregnant self and any of you rookie parents-to-be: a second-time around mom may be more comfortable with the new baby, but she’s still living on the frontier of how to deal with her older child PLUS more to juggle and even less time for a nap. So, it’s still a pretty big deal.

If you have any friends about to have second babies and you’re wondering what to get the mom who already has all the baby gear, allow us to make a few suggestions:

  • Private Yoga class: prenatal or post-partum yoga where she doesn’t have to figure out how to leave the house = awesome.
  • Food train. Enlist a gang of friends to sign up for meals on a calendar with or a shared google spreadsheet. Witching hour times two is no time for cooking.
  • Advice book: interview your friends with more than one kid about little and big things. How do you load everyone into the car? How do you get food on the table? What is something you swore you’d never do (that you now probably do)? Useful or not, these are great little keepsakes.
  • Forgo the shower and chip in for a massage.
  • Meal Prep party where mama gets freezer fodder from everyone; there are places that can organize this for you.
  • Everyone gets a massage :-)
  • If different gender, clothes
  • If same gender: a fresh towel, wash cloths, onesies that are unstained
  • If name known, personalized clothes so that #2 has a few things of his own
  • Babysitting dates where other moms of same aged #1 will come get #1 and take him away for a couple hours
  • The basics, be the sweetie that buys a full medicine cabinet’s worth of infant tylenol and butt zinc. More excellent gift ideas for new parents on our amazing registry guide.

What are some other great ideas for moms going again for their second, third, or fourth?

psssst. Hey Whit, You had a “real shower” with shower games and it looked like fun. did you like it? Did you wish you had a group massage instead? Shhhh… I won’t tell.

I would cook more if my kids were less rude about it

I like the satisfaction of preparing a meal; trying new recipes and cookbooks; and eating healthfully. So, why would I rather hide out on my computer seeing what’s going on with Facebook instead of actually cooking according to my meal plan most nights? I am frickin’ beat down from all the complaints.

Picky kids make for cranky cooks - solutions for picky eaters

This is a real photo of delicious homemade pasta with parm that he refused to try at all. xo

I don’t know what dinnertime looks like at your house, but we have three competing scenarios at mine.

After much trial and error (see below), RookieDad Alec and I have a few homemade go-to meals that most of us like (well, everyone but the three-year old): tamale pie, teriyaki salmon, chicken parmesan, or spaghetti and meatballs. If I’m on my game, I can do some of the prep before the witching hour or we team up in the kitchen on a weekend evening for a big cook. These are the good nights.

More often it seems, I try out a new recipe and at least one person is visibly disgusted. I made a homemade sweet potato and black bean stew tonight that was so ugly, my son shared, “When I need to taste something that looks like this, I just do it real quickly before I lose my nerve.” Uhh, thanks kid. [Read more…]

Activity #123: Streamline your toy box

IKEA Kallax storage system will radically improve your lifeAs we move away from the holidays, it is easy for me to think “we have too many toys!” and my boys just don’t need a thing. Other times, we visit friends for playdates and I think the opposite. Maybe my sons have all the wrong toys. Ugh.


Scary toy box from Wendy
Scary toy pile from Wendy

Here are some battle-tested how-to instructions for doing an effective toy box sort based on some of my own experience and other tips I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Sort. Make two big piles: “toy keepers” and the “toys you can do without” — More often than not, the toys in the “must keep” pile are open-ended (like Legos, blocks, stuffed animals) and the “forgotten” pile are toys that don’t do very much at all. [Read more…]

How many pregnant women want to know the gender of their babies?

Tracking PixelThis post was sponsored by Panorama.

Did you and your partner find out if your baby-to-be was a boy or a girl? Apparently, I’m in the minority (like less than a quarter) of people who didn’t want to know before birth, the ultimate reveal. RookieDad Alec and I both agreed that we wanted a surprise (!). Little did we know that having a baby of any flavor was going to so completely rock our worlds with surprise around every corner…

Here are some results of a recent survey of 500 expecting mothers for Natera, a non-invasive genetic screening company:
Natera infographic

Did you see that? More than three-quarters of those surveyed (79%) wanted to know the gender of their baby before he or she is born. And two-thirds (68%) feel learning the gender of the baby is even more exciting than winning the lottery. Aww.
[Read more…]

Santa Claus, how do you do it?

How do you DO Santa each year?
Christmas morning means matching jammies and “the pose”

I loved Santa Claus as a child. Loved. In fact, I made sure to stick little gifts in my mom’s stocking to make sure that she still believed in Santa (just in case she was really SC, I didn’t want her to find out.)

I want my kids to love him every bit as much. But each year, I kinda forget how we did it the previous year. My husband and I invariably have a conversation like this on Christmas Eve:

  • Me: Was it one big gift from Santa and the rest of the presents from Mommy and Daddy? Ooh, but what about the wrapping paper? Does Santa always use the same wrapping paper? Wait a second, I know, we used plain brown paper from Santa!
  • Him: That all sounds fine. As long as you remember that Santa always brings Matchbox Cars!
  • Me: What are you talking about?!
  • Him: And the kids have to do “the pose” like me and my sister did.
  • Me: Well, all I really care about is matching Christmas jammies. Were we supposed to put out cookies? Oh crap.

And don’t bother to ask my BFF Whitney what normal looks like, the only opinion she offered is: it is bullshit to wrap stocking gifts. Well, ok then.

Another friend told me that Santa Claus brings the most commercial obnoxious gift that Mommy and Daddy would never purchase. That way, you can continue espousing the importance of independently crafted wooden toys and your daughter can still have her Barbie glam-o-rama dream house. I love that one.

So, friends, how do you do it? What are your Santa Claus traditions? Did you learn them in childhood or make them up as you go? And how the heck do you remember them each year?

Activity #46: Host a clothing swap party

Nine months on, nine months off? Something like that.

Your 46th weekly challenge is to obtain some new-to-you clothes that you’ll enjoy along with an afternoon of girlfriend hilarity all for the cost of some cucumber-scented spa water. The end of the year is a perfect time to plan a clothing swap.

Host a clothing swap party with your friends #rookiemoms challengeThis is me (not at a swap) trying on clothes too fabulous to purchase. In real life, I wait for my shopaholic friends to bring them over. Thank You Very Much, Don’t Mind If I Do!

We’ve mentioned this idea here and there, but now I present the instructions for how to throw a simple but fabulous women’s clothing swap on your own.

I have hosted no fewer than ten clothing swaps with my stylish friends and spawned at least three known copycats. For the record, this is better as a a no-kids-allowed event (or just pre-crawlers), so let Daddy take the bambino out for a hike while you get some well-deserved girlfriend-time. The whole event can take less than two hours.

Here’s the step-by-step to planning and hosting:
(kind of long, but I want to make it mindless for you) [Read more…]

9 Favorite clutter-free gifts

Friends don't buy friends clutter, figurines, or bookmarks

Again this year, we have created clutter-free gifts for babies, kids, grandparents, moms (AKA girlfriends), and dads. But this is the mack daddy round-up of our tippy top favorites. The good news is that most (if not all) of these ideas can be obtained up to the very last second of the holidays (like Christmas Eve at 11:50 pm or the next morning right before you leave for brunch at Grandma Barb’s).

Often, you just need access to the internet and a halfway decent printer. If you don’t have that, a crayon and piece of paper might work, too!

All I want for Christmas that is not a thing:

  1. Lessons for anything. Whether you’re registering your husband for pastry classes, your nana for Italian, yourself for hip hop, the kiddo for music together, or anyone for swimming, we love this gift of self-improvement. Try a free baby music class #rookiemoms
  2. Membership to a museum. Children’s museums, hands-on science, and zoos top our list of family destinations. Soooo much better for the family who lives in an apartment, am I right? {related: tips and hacks to get the best deal at your children’s museum}
  3. Tickets to a performance. Make a big deal out of putting it on the calendar. Check Living Social and GoldStar for half-price deals on local events. In our area, the Harlem Globetrotters are on tour next month.
  4. Something to eat or drink. Wine and coffee are popular consumables. Nuf said.
  5. A nook or new room. De-clutter some existing space for a child’s reading nook or a parent cave as needed. This year, two of our children are getting their own bedrooms. But they can read, so I won’t say who.
  6. Adventurous tourism (light). Though I’d like to take a trip to Paraguay with my family, I’d also be happy with the gourmet chocolate walking tour of San Francisco. Cloud9Living makes lots of experiences possible through their quirky tours.
  7. Amazon Prime. Yes, we are affiliates, but we are crazy-frequent users of this service. Two-day shipping, great digital programs including 48-hour movie rentals, and discounts on kindle books make this a must-have in our homes. Get amazon prime for someone you love. Amazon Prime makes a great gift
  8. StitchFix. I’ve been pretty happy with my subscription to StitchFix. Each month, I pay $20 for a person to choose clothes for me. If I like anything, I can apply the styling fee to my clothes. If I love everything — yet to happen — I get a mega discount. {related: My strong opinions about Stitch Fix}
  9. Your time. Even cheaper than half-price tickets is your time offered to do something together. Can you fix a broken something or offer to make dinner? My son would like an hour each weekend dedicated to art. I want a date night, I’ll even put the boys to bed first.

What’s your go-to, last-second, can’t-go-wrong, clutter-free gift?! I might need it.

[Photo credit: of us Megan Small + of Weston Olivia Howell]

When we gave each other nothing more than ideas for Christmas

We really did this when we had infants. If you have a little baby (or nutty toddler), permission granted to do the same!

Three easy steps to a super cheap (FREE + GREEN) thoughtful gift:

  1. THINK about your friend. Really think about them. What does she need? More time away from the kids? Time to run a great trail? An excuse to try the newest brunch place?
  2. Write out some fun ideas. Use your markers or different fonts to make it look interesting.
  3. Pack it up. Pretty envelope. Tin can. Decorative box. Ribbon around a scroll. Glitter on a toilet paper tube. Whatever you have on hand.

This goes along well with our holiday mantra of more fun and less clutter. Ok, I just made that up but it sounds like us.

You can do this for a friend — capture ideas for her to do on her own or things for the two of you to enjoy together.

Give the gift of experience to your besties

Or, give this gift to a couple. A few years back, in lieu of holiday gifts, Whitney and her husband and me and my husband exchanged the gift of seven different date concepts. It was funny to see where we overlapped. Having written a book together, we were not surprised to discover that our styles of presentation were very similar.

Alec and I still have two more of the assigned dates to cross off our list (and we won because as far as I know, Whitney and Ryan have done only one!). If we can only squeeze in a date-night at the rock climbing gym on Friday night, then find a day when the kids are in preschool and we have no work, we might just get the daytime cycling date in as well.

We keep our list on our fridge so we never run out of ideas for dates. You can see our scribbles from which ones we crossed off already. This was indeed a gift that lasted all year long.

Related post: Babies should wish for non-material possessions

Activity #45: Do what YOU want to do

Do what you want to do #rookiemoms challenge

my date enjoys an appetizerWhen my husband had to be gone for six whole nights on business leaving me alone with baby Holden, I panicked and called in my smartest mom friends for advice.

They had perfectly reasonable suggestions about lowering my expectations, keeping it simple, and making plans to keep from going stir crazy.

This tip came from my friend Molly, a mom of two, and thus an expert:

Think about one thing you might do if it were just you on your own, or perhaps if you were going to play host to a dear friend who you rarely see and wanted to impress. Visit a museum with an important art show? Take a drive to a beautiful place and go for a hike to see the magnificent view? Go to a cafe and chat with the strangers at the tables nearby just to feel the buzz of the city?

[Read more…]

How to get your breast pump covered by health insurance

I’m so happy to offer this guest post today about how to get your best breast pump covered by insurance. Sarah Wells is a mom, an entrepreneur and a women’s health advocate. She is also the CEO and founder of Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bags and she shares her best tips with us. Affiliate links and excellent advice included.

How to get your breast pump on insurance

By now, you may have heard that the health reform law (or Affordable Care Act, ACA, Obamacare, whichever name you prefer to use) will cover a breast pump for expecting and new moms who have health insurance coverage. Many moms have already reaped the benefit of a free pump; while some may still not know exactly how to get started. Here’s a quick rundown, for most* moms, on how to get your breast pump on insurance:

  1. Find a supplier. Call your insurance (or look at their website) and ask for an approved list of “durable medical equipment” (DME) suppliers that stock breast pumps, or Google “breast pump and DME” and you’ll find several with easy-to-use websites from suppliers and pump manufacturers. (In most cases, you cannot go out and get a pump from a retail store and be reimbursed – you need to work with a supplier.)
  2. Let the DME do the heavy-lifting. Contact the DME and ask them to deal with your insurance on your behalf (they will probably have you fill out a form and/or get a prescription from your doctor for a pump). Trust me, this will save you a lot of hassle of back-and-forth with your insurance. They will figure out WHEN you can get the pump (while pregnant or after baby is born?) and WHAT pumps you can get (based on insurance reimbursement levels and the suppliers inventory).
  3. Make an informed decision about your pump. Talk with the DME you have chosen to work with about which pump brands and models are an option for you, but also which pump is RIGHT for you and your circumstances (e.g., the full-time working mom who plans to pump a lot may want a double-electric pump to own).
  4. Ask for help. After you receive your pump from the supplier, speak up and call the DME if there are any problems with the equipment, it doesn’t fit well, or if you need extra parts. Many DMEs have certified lactation consultants on staff who can help you with pumping challenges, such as low supply (and if they do not, seek out support from a CLC practice in your area).

A breast pump can be a really helpful (and often necessary) tool for a mom to achieve her breastfeeding goals; under the new law, you are entitled to a pump from your insurance. Buying a pump off-the-shelf can run upwards of $300+, so this benefit is a huge one to many new moms. [Read more…]