6 Ways to AVOID going crazy as a stay at home mom

My 6 Ways to AVOID Going Crazy as a Stay at Home Mom

When I decided to stay home, it took me a while before I realized that I may go (or may have already gone) crazy! Being with the kids is great, but the isolation from other adults and other interests can start to wear you down over time. So here’s a few tips I picked up along the way!

1. Find classes. We first went to our local library. They do a weekly child’s story time. Best thing is, it is free! They also have free story time most Barnes & Noble and our local Kroger has a story time as well with Grandma Snazzy. We found a kinder music class at a nearby church. Then once Maddox was old enough, I started signing up for classes at our Rec Center. This is by far our favorite! He has done soccer, general sports (combo basketball, foodtball, soccer and golf) and gymnastics. They also have art, music, cooking, karate, etc. There are so many other options for classes as well like Catch air, Sky Zone (Alpharetta does a toddler time every other Wednesday), Little Gym, and All Fired Up (Ceramics Classes), just to name a few.

2. Meet other moms! The best way I found so far was through Facebook groups. If you are local to Atlanta, I would join The Mom Posse. I also meet other moms at some of the classes mentioned above.

3. Play groups. Find moms nearby and set some up or join some that are already established.

4. Go to playgrounds/indoor play areas. We LOVE the playground at Chik-fil-A and the indoor area at our mall. Northpoint Mall and Avalon have great ones! Northpoint also has a train the kids can ride for $4/ride and the Avalon has an indoor/outdoor climbing area. And as the weather improves, go to your parks and recreation areas. Lots of kids, moms, and fun and all of these.

5. Schedule time for yourself. I admit I’m terrible at this! My daughter is exclusively breastfed and rarely takes a bottle. So rather than leaving the house, my mother-in-law offered to entertain the kids at home so I had a little alone time for whatever I need. Usually I just get caught up on laundry, cleaning or shower but hey, it’s alone time! If you don’t have a mother-in-law who is retired and can come every week, I would definitely recommend finding a babysitter one day a week for a few hours. You could even exchange with another mom and take turns watching each others kids.

6. Find something you do JUST for you. This can be working out, reading, painting, shopping, hiking, etc. Recently I started blogging, which has honestly been a huge outlet for me! The most important thing is to find ways to get out and spend time with other people doing things you like, both for your kids and for yourself. I guarantee it will make you not just a happier stay-at-home but a happier person!

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Baby Led Weaning

IMG_6807 When Maddox was young and it was time to introduce him to solid food, we started him on purées. I made all of his food and we introduced one new food at a time. Maddox loved baby food. I couldn’t shovel it in fast enough for him. However, Marlow was a different story. I started the same way and made her purees. She would take maybe a bite or two and that was it. I quickly realized I was wasting a ton of food. Then Marlow went on an antibiotic that was really hard on her stomach and hard to get her to take so I had to hide it in her food. That’s when her eating habits really changed. She went from eating a bite or two to complete refusal to eat anything I tried to give her. She would eat things that she could feed herself but didn’t trust me at all anymore. She was sure I was hiding medicine and about to force feed her ?. That’s when I decided to try baby led weaning.

“Baby-led weaning allows babies to control their solid food consumption by ‘self-feeding’ from the very beginning of their experiences with food. The term weaning should not be taken to imply giving up formula or breastmilk, but simply the introduction of foods other than formula or breastmilk.”

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I started to give Marlow small bites of food she could pick up. We started with small pieces of soft fruits and cooked veggies. However, because she is only 9 months old, feeding herself purées did not come easily to her. So I did some research. I needed something that would allow Marlow to feed herself. I tried with the baby spoons I already had from Maddox, but by the time she got the spoon to her mouth the food had all fallen off and then she was mad.

A quick google search for “baby spoon self feeding” helped me to find NumNum! I bought their pre-spoons on Amazon but you can see the link to their website and read more here. I can’t say enough about these pre-spoons! The spoon has a textured, dimpled surface that helps grab the food so it doesn’t fall off while its on the way to the mouth, and it’s completely flat so there’s no “right” way to hold it and no upside down. What I really love is that they are “designed to introduce the concept of utensils to kids eager to learn, reduce frustration and encourage independence.”

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While I was ordering the spoons, I saw that NumNum also makes a beginner bowl. The inside of the bowl is small and sloped so the spoon can easily find the food. The base is broad with a no-slip grip, making it hard to tip over. Once the bowl and pre-spoons arrived, I was able to give her yogurts and purées that she can feed herself. Just an example of some of the things I give her either in puree form or cooked/cut up into tiny pieces:

Fruits: Bananas, pears, strawberries, blueberries, melons, pineapple. Veggies: avocado, sweet potato, pickles (she LOVES them but doesn’t chew them so I cut them extremely small), butternut squash, asparagus, peas, carrots, zucchini. Others: Yogurt (specific for babies), hummus, cheerios.

Marlow is loving feeding herself. With her NumNum pre-spoon and bowl for the soft foods and her fingers for the small pieces she can pick up, she is willing to try almost anything I give her. Of course, I am introducing foods one at a time to watch for allergies or reactions, but I could not be more pleased with our progress. This weaning process is not just baby-led; it is baby-loved.

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Attachment Parenting

I’ve had many people ask me about my parenting style, mainly my attachment parenting. I’ve tried to write a post about it many times and each time I’ve stopped and started over. There are so many different parenting styles, and we each have to do what works best for us, for each baby, and for our family. Keep in mind that I am currently able to be a stay-at-home mom, and your circumstance may be very different. I’m hoping to convey my feelings without sounding prejudiced against those who parent differently.

What works best for my family falls in line with attachment parenting. Attachment parenting is defined as: a parenting philosophy that proposes methods which aim to promote the attachment of mother and infant not only by maximal maternal empathy and responsiveness but also by continuous bodily closeness and touch.

To me this means skin-to-skin contact as much as possible (especially in the early days), baby wearing, breastfeeding, responding to all my babies cries, co-sleeping, and gentle parenting. Some of these are self explanatory but I wanted to talk about how I respond to their cries. I’ve always thought of crying as the only way babies can communicate their needs and wants. I believe whole heartedly that babies cry for a reason. I’ve never thought of their crying as manipulative or deceptive. It’s their only way to tell you what they need, whether it be hunger, dirty diaper, pain or just needing comfort. I also felt that by ignoring their cries, I would be telling them their voice doesn’t matter. That their one way of telling me what they need doesn’t work.

For this reason, we’ve never considered using the Cry it Out method or sleep training. It’s important to add that neither of my babies have had any medical concerns such as colic that would cause excessive crying.

So when Maddox or Marlow cry, Josh and I comfort them. Sometimes that means picking them up, talking to them, singing, moving to a new environment, distracting with toys, but mainly just keeping them close so we can respond quickly. For example, here’s what we would do when Maddox or Marlow would wake up crying. When they were tiny babies, we always picked them up immediately and softly talked to them to comfort them (i.e. “It’s ok. Shh. I’m here”). As they got older (maybe 4-6months), we didn’t pick them immediately. We cuddle next to them, pat their backs, and talk to them using the same language we did before to reassure them and comfort them. Our goal was for them to open their eyes and realize we were right there and they were ok.

We want to provide constant, consistent nurturing and comforting, and the way we do that changes as they mature. With Maddox, we have gone from immediate comfort when he was an infant, to verbal comfort as a pre-toddler, to encouraging him to “use his words” to express his distress, as he became verbal. Now I see an independent almost-three-year-old who seldom needs the sort of comfort I now offer Marlow, but who still gets our full attention when he does need it. And one of the most amazing things, since Marlow was born, I’ve also noticed Maddox offering comfort to Marlow in the same way that we did to him!

My thought behind always comforting them is that they know we are always there and they are safe, comforted, and reassured. This is what has worked best for my children and my family so far. I would love to hear what has worked for you. We do not all parent the same, but we all want the same thing — happy, healthy, well adjusted children.

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Bringing Home Baby

13308275_682624648352_211249782888313148_o-2Our friends and family have commented at what an absolute rock-star of a big brother Maddox has been since Marlow was born (And I totally agree). Preparing for Marlow’s arrival was very different from preparing for Maddox. We already had most of our “baby necessities” that we acquired when Maddox was born, so one of the main things we really tried to focus on was preparing Maddox. We talked a lot about Marlow and what would happen when she was born.

First, we shared our plan for what would happen when Mommy and Daddy went to the hospital. Until our first night in the hospital, Maddox had never spent the night away from us. So we worried this separation might be tough. To prepare, we discussed, almost daily, how Mommy and Daddy would go to the hospital and Maddox would go stay with Lolli, Poppi and aunt Kelsey. We talked in detail about how much fun he would have, where he would sleep, and when he would come see us. We also had him tell us what the plan was and what he wanted to do. I really think all the preparation and discussion made for his easy transition! He was amazing and never once seemed upset or unhappy about being away from us at all!

The second thing we really focused on was discussing with Maddox exactly what it will be like when we bring Marlow home. Very early on we started reading “new baby” books with Maddox. Our favorites were: I’m a Big Brother, The New Baby, My New Baby and Babies Don’t Eat Pizza. (Thanks for books Lolli!) The books were the best help for us. Reading them together really opened up the conversation for us to talk with Maddox. Some of the books are step by step bringing baby home, and others go through examples of what new babies can and can’t do.

Lastly, throughout the pregnancy we talked with Maddox about Marlow as a real baby, who was already part of our family. We really tried to include Marlow in all our conversations. When we were playing, we talked about how we will play with Marlow. We still do this. When we are building with blocks, we talk about how Marlow may knock our blocks down and how that’s what babies do sometimes. When we eat, we talk about what and how Marlow will eat. You name it, we try to talk to about it

So while it’s only been 4 weeks, Maddox has been a truly amazing big brother! He looks at her with great tenderness. He sings to her, and if she cries he offers comfort. We do everything we can to make him feel included and important when it comes to Marlow. He is our “big helper” and he loves doing jobs to help take care of his baby sister. I can’t predict how the future will be, and I’m sure there will be crazy days, but so far the transition of bringing Marlow home has been a very smooth one, and I credit really thorough preparation for that.

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10 Things My Child Will NEVER Do

10 Things my child will NEVER do…

1. Screen time at dinner

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2. Eat junk food and candy

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3. Get random things he “wants” at the store

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(He wanted a new backpack and cookie monster…)            (He wanted a new pink bat…)


 

4. Be naked all the time

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5. Leave the house in pjs

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6. Misbehave/Act crazy in pubic

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(playing baseball and racing with dad in Target-click photo to see video)


 

7. Watch/play video games

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8. Stay up too late

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9. Hit, bite, etc

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10. Be spoiled with gifts

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Will never do

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Overwhelmed with Fear

I first knew something in me had changed the day after Maddox was born. We were in the hospital and Maddox was lying down and started to cough (it sounded like maybe a small gag/choke). I jumped up screaming for Josh and ran to Maddox. I burst into tears and felt like I couldn’t breathe. Maddox was completely fine. It was honestly maybe 3 coughs, but I was so completely overwhelmed with worry that something was wrong or he was hurt. I grabbed Josh after and said (while sobbing) “I thought something was wrong.” That was when I knew something had changed.

I’m normally very laid back. From the beginning I didn’t fret over Maddox falling down. I let him climb and explore and figure things out on his own. I let him get hurt and waited for him to decide if he needed comfort (versus instantly running to check if he was ok). However, despite my worry-free attitude, when Maddox was born I suddenly had this overwhelming -at times crippling- fear of us dying. I wasn’t worried about everyday things. I was suddenly worried about freak accidents that were completely out of my control. Car accidents, fires, cancer, you name it. If I’m being completely honest my chest is tightening and my eyes are tearing up right now just thinking about it. Having Maddox made me realize that if anything ever happened to me or Josh, Maddox would be losing a parent. Worse than that, if anything ever happened to Maddox. And that was a crippling feeling. Dying had never even really occurred to me before. I never thought about how old I would be when I died or even what would happen if Josh died. It just didn’t cross my mind. But suddenly I was consumed with worry about not only keeping Maddox alive, but making sure Josh and I were alive long enough to see Maddox grow old.

In the beginning I had these thoughts and worries constantly throughout the day, everyday. As time has gone on I get them less often, and when I do start to worry I’m able to push those thoughts aside so they don’t become all consuming. I can usually brush it off, tell myself I’m being ridiculous and get distracted by something else until the feeling has passed. When I do start to get the truly overwhelming, worrying feeling, I find it’s best (for me) to just go with it. Be worried, get it all out, and talk to either Josh, my mom or my grandmother. Luckily, they are all great about listening to me talk about how worried I am about things I can’t control, and they hardly make fun of me at all (kidding, of course). By the way, if I need someone to just listen or talk rationally, I call Josh. If I need someone to understand, relate to how I’m feeling, and commiserate/cry with me, I call my mom. And If I need someone to patiently listen, tell me they understand and then gently tell me to pull it together, I call my grandmother. They each have their own way and all serve key purposes! I should probably mention I have an amazing family. I know I’m extremely lucky. Even with all that love and support, and my normally laid back, worry-free attitude, I still have times of overwhelming fear. And I totally blame Maddox! He’s lucky he’s so cute 😉

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