Surrender: a concept for overwhelmed moms

Surrendering, a concept for overwhelmed moms

Sometimes, when I feel like too many things are being expected of me, my stomach gets tied up in knots. I want to be able to cross everything off my list, make everyone happy, and have some down time. I have trouble knowing where to start when the day looks like a huge tangle of logistics and obstacles, and then I fear the presence of my own children, because each task is more difficult when they are in tow.

A couple years ago, I read something written by life coach Andrea Scher that impacted me. It was about the concept of surrender. She wrote, “The rain is just the rain”, which means that when you look out the window and see the rain, and feel fear, disappointment, and think, “Well now I can’t do x, y, or z,” to ask if it’s possible to reframe the rain.

It’s just water.

The consequence of experiencing the rain is getting wet.

I can live with that. I can get wet.

Surrendering to the rain means accepting its presence. Maybe tossing a towel in your bag, so that if you are really bothered by the water, you can wipe up some of it.

I’m not a generally neurotic person, but I do suffer anxiety about certain issues: namely sleep and time. [Read more…]

Stuff your kid just doesn’t like. Sorry, Pinterest.

Here’s a truth: Parents like things that are pretty to look at, thoughtfully designed, and often free of logos. Kids like bright colors, buttons, bells and whistles, and icons they recognize.

These two taste groups often butt heads, and in early parenting, the parent wins. A one-year old does not know she’s been dressed up as Frida Kahlo for Halloween.

At some point, she’s going to have her own opinions and will want to dress as Jessie from Toy Story or a big-eyed princess, and we have to be okay with that.

Show me an 8-year old boy who picks a striped Mini Boden shirt over a Minecraft T-shirt and I’ll eat my own son’s sweater, which, for the record is 100% clean because he has absolutely no use for sweaters. They are not made of athletic fabrics.

This post is about crap that kids just don’t like.

For several years, every time I asked my daughter to show me some toys she didn’t need or care for anymore, she offered up this hand-knit style doll. I thought it was too cute to discard, and it was from a special friend of mine, but I finally surrendered.

Adorable blablakids rag doll and other things kids hate

She’d rather have a shelf packed with these guys.

Calico Critters and other things kids like [Read more…]

Cute-as-your-kid birthday party decoration idea

Fourth birthday party ideas

My friend Daniella decorates her house for every holiday, so I was not super surprised when she posted an adorable birthday garland for her daughter Noa on Facebook this week.

Look, it’s Noa’s little face through the years (all four of them!) made festive with scrapbook paper hats.

Personalized birthday party decor

She pasted the photos into Word.

Find the menu that says Insert, then select Picture. [Read more…]

Activity #459: Keepsake your favorite baby clothes

When I was pregnant with my second child, a daughter, we went through our stored baby boy clothes, pulling out the ones that could be worn by our baby-girl-to-be, donating the majority, and saving five or six items that I couldn’t bear to part with. Predictably, those extra special clothes are still on top of my spare dresser because I’m not really sure where they go.

Then I saw this great idea from the now defunct WonderTime magazine’s blog (via Apartment Therapy).

Cut a small sample of the fabric and keep the swatch in a memory book, ideally next to a photo of the baby wearing the item.

Keepsake your favorite baby clothes

I’m torn. it would look really cute, but then we can’t enjoy the size and shape of the clothes when he’s an adult. Or, his wife can’t. (Secret fantasy: one day a baby grandson could wear these clothes– not that I have put one single thing on my son that my husband wore as a baby, and we have a similar hand-me-down-a-generation bag to choose from. It just seems that 1973 didn’t produce very soft fabrics.) I’ll let you know what I decide.

The Fourth Trimester: The struggle is real

When I was recovering from having my first child, somehow this book, now out-of-print, made it into my hands, and I found it hilarious.

Fourth Trimester book is so good

It’s still on my shelf, even though it’s not relevant to me anymore, because I remember relating to it so much.

The references are a bit dated, but the gist is a bunch of universal experiences new moms have in the first six weeks after childbirth.

Photo Apr 06, 7 25 29 AM

For those who cannot read the image above, here’s an excerpt from the back cover.

The thank-you note real moms in the Fourth Trimester would like to send:

Dear ________ :
Thanks for sending us ________ . I’m sure __________ will love it as soon as _______ can do anything besides eat, sleep, cry, and run up the stock price on Pampers. Having recently entered the Fourth Trimester, right now my goals in life are to sleep more than three hours and shower before 7:00 p.m. So please excuse this impersonal note.
I’d love for you to come over and see _________ . But no helpful hints, no critiquing of the fact that I
(1) breast-feed without a cover-up;
(2) do not breast-feed and use formula;
(3) allow my child to use a pacifier;
(4) use a Swyngo-matic to hypnotize my child into a state eerily similar to an Ecstasy trip.
Do not tell me that __________ looks cute. I know that __________ looks like a cross between E.T. and Yoda. And no comments about my figure. I am not Cindy Crawford and, yes, those are maternity clothes I’m still wearing.
Bring rain gear and you’ll be well prepared for the nonstop torrent of liquid escaping from __________ and me. Can’t wait to see you — of course, these days I’m even looking forward to having my mom and mother-in-law visit. I’ll take whatever adult company I can get.

Love and kisses from me and the pumpkin!

Related: The Rookie Mom’s Handbook

52 Project, a weekly photo challenge

52Project, week 2 by Lila of Lingering DaydreamsI met first-time mom Lila at an event in San Francisco and she told me that the 52 Project was the best thing she did as a new mom.

The motto is “A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in (fill in the year),” and although you might think, aww man, I wish I started this in January, I’d like to remind you that any 52-week period makes up a year. We start school in September, our babies turn new numbers whenever their birthdays are, and we pay taxes in April. Today is just as good a day as any to embrace a new practice.

52Project, week 3 by Lila of Lingering Daydreams [Read more…]

Meet awesome mom Jillian and an app for moms who like to be connected

Our guest today is Jillian Darlington, aka Taylor’s mom, who lives in San Diego, CA. Jillian is the founder of the MomCo app, and this is the story.

Jillian Darlington awesome mom from momco

The MomCo app was inspired by my own experiences as 1) a new mom trying to connect with other moms in my community AND 2) an owner of an indoor playground trying to find a way to advertise to my target demographic that was within my budget.

I was young when I had my son. None of my friends had children, so I worked hard for the first two years to build my amazing group of mom friends. I was fortunate to have made them,  because a few years later my marriage fell apart.

Without the support I received from my mom friends, there is no way that I would have survived my grueling divorce, raising a toddler completely on my own, and being a small business owner. [Read more…]

Activity #193: Meet a monkey at the zoo

toddler at the zoo

It’s time to introduce your baby to lions and lizards. And won’t you feel like an official parent when you brag that you take your child to the Zoo?

My friend Sarah gets credit for this one. “It’s fun for parents, too,” she says. Honestly, I think it’s mostly fun for parents. Even at 12 months, Julian could not pick the animals out of their environments with his untrained eyes. We’d stand right in front of an enclosure with giraffes in it, and couldn’t be sure that he could see them. He did see a lot of running water that excited him, though, and there are areas for babies and toddlers to crawl around.

Just like the children’s museums, when you join, you get to go whenever you want all year. My local Zoo membership includes free parking and a few other benefits. Also, the Zoo is a non-profit, so membership is a feel-good thing (not to mention a tax deduction). The money helps take care of the animals. Since as a mother, you now have a Responsibility to all things living, including those startling reptiles your child will soon be fond of, this is a Good Thing.

10 Things to do with a baby in Oakland, CA


When we’re not busy raising kids or writing, we manage {510} Families, a website for East Bay parents. Whitney and I created the resource we wish we had when home with our firstborns wondering what the heck to do with our time on maternity leave: a calendar with drop-in events and fairs (always ready to answer the old “It’s 10am on a Tuesday, where should we go?” question) and a ton of great free advice about places to go with little ones.

Together with our friend Lisa we offer you some of our favorite spots in Oakland, CA for baby mamas. We’d be thrilled if you made your weekly plan of attack using our notes:

  1. Baby Brigade at the New Parkway Theater @ 474 24th Street, Oakland, CA 94612 . Officially, you are welcome to bring your baby at any time, but Baby Brigade showings are specifically set aside for parents with infants with changing tables set up and an audience that understands if there are a few screams or whimpers along the way. See calendar.
  2. Then Comes Baby @ 3657 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610. New moms can stop in during drop-in times for a comfortable place to nurse or sip coffee. Owner Sabrina is adding post-partum classes and services all the time. See our introduction of Then Comes Baby before you stop by.

Places to go with babies in Oakland
Then Comes Baby lounge area
[Read more…]

Almost as good as a wall full of elevator buttons: Open Gym

I can tell by my local mom’s group discussion boards that people with toddlers are the most stir-crazy of all the people. I get that. How long can you stay in a house with someone who may, at any moment, throw a spoon full of food at you and not feel one lick of remorse?

I watched a toddler open my lowest dresser drawer, violently pull all the pajamas out of it into a heap of tangled garments on the floor, and then throw a fit because there were no more clothes to pull out.

“Where can we go that has a bottomless drawer of pajamas?” I thought. But there is no such place.

If I were the queen of the world, there would be an indoor playspace for toddlers packed with all the things they actually want to do. None of these bullshit ball pit distractions.

How about room where one of the walls is entirely covered with elevator buttons? Why don’t they install that in a kids “play area”?

Or how about a train table store, where the whole place is wall-to-wall train tables and none of the trains are lost or broken — and you’re not expected to buy anything. And there’s foot massages for the moms.

Since Super Duper Elevator Train Toddlerland with Massages for Moms not a thing, let’s focus on practical solutions for getting out of the house until naptime.

How to find an Open Gym playtime near you


Let’s find you a place to go using one of the following strategies:

1. An indoor padded warehouse designed for jumping. Look up these terms to find one near you: “trampoline park (your city)” or “open jump bounce house”. National chains include Pump It Up and Sky Zone. While some of these joints are reserved for birthday parties only, many have open jump hours where you pay an admission price. Typically there is an area where the under fives are protected from any big kids who might trample them accidentally or on purpose.

2. A gymnastics training studio where the gymnasts are at school all day. While your kid may be too young to learn a balance beam routine, she’d probably like to hurl herself onto a gymnastics mat. Many gyms make extra money during the middle of the day by hosting “Open Gym” which means you can pay to enter and trail around after your child for an hour or two while she explores all the equipment. Google for gymnastics in your area and then check the websites to see if the schedules will answer your prayers.

3. A “family fun center”. This will take some sleuthing. What we’re looking for is a place where big kids rack up a jillion tickets playing skeeball and turn them in after a couple hours for a plastic parachute man. Some of these places will have a special room or set of activities for little kids. Again, they want to make money while big kids are at school, so if they know what’s good for them, they install a coffee bar and a toddler room with kiddie rides. What’s good about it? Everyone else there is in the same boat as you. What’s horrible about it? The lighting, germs, and electronic sounds. If you’re an outdoorsy person, a minimalist, or would rather be out hiking or stomping in puddles, I get it, and this post isn’t for you, anyway.

Things for toddlers to do

The Fantasy: Outdoor Organic Popsicle Land Elevator Button World

Need more ideas? Check out our list of things to do with a toddler before s/he turns 2.

[Photos: Eric Fung at Pump it Up used with permission; Whitney’s fantasyland also used with permission]

These pumping bras are for nursing too, and they’re pretty

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

A hands-free pumping bra is on the Rookie Moms’ short list of real must-haves for new moms. At a birth and baby event in Berkeley last month, I met Emily, founder of The Dairy Fairy, who has even loftier goals. On her list of must-haves is a pretty hands-free pumping bra, and so she invented one. From her website:

Pretty Pumping Bra

We’ve developed an all-in-one nursing and pumping bra and tank that lets you nurse, hands-free pump, and adjust for fluctuating breast size. Best of all? It lets you look like the beautiful mother that you are.
Anyone who has pumped at work with a hands-free bra knows that it’s a hassle to take it on and off. If you were old school, like me, you just pumped from your nursing bra, but held the bottles and got nothing else done, except for developing cramps from trying to hold a phone or device at the same time.
Lacy nursing bra
Emily designed her Dairy Fairy bras to be worn all day. The adjustable cup size closure you see around the rib cage enables women who change sizes throughout the day to get the right amount of support, before and after pumping or nursing. Dairy Fairy even has matching underwear for those who are choosy about their undergarments.
Save 20% on The Dairy Fairy’s website with promo code BOOBIEPALOOZA.

Why my entire home will soon be covered in wall decals

I am in the throes of a kitchen remodel, and it’s beginning to hurt. The work is running late, over budget, and having sparkling new cabinets makes me yearn for new overhead light fixtures and a waterfall of other Things that are out of scope for this project.

Since we have ivory cabinets and are getting grey countertops, I wanted to plan for something with a sense of humor for our updated kitchen, a contrast with the reserved color palette and style. My friend (and Rookie Moms contributor) Karen has a glorious orange stove that screams, “You can’t make me grow up!” and I want a little taste of that in our space, too.

I discovered The Lovely Wall on Etsy and became obsessed. The shop sells vinyl wall decals that can be repositioned whenever you like. The genius is the simple geometric shapes.

How to decorate with wall decals


lovelywall-triangles [Read more…]