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Family Swim Session

When my son was first born two years ago, I had a lot of anxiety about taking him out in public. Going places with a newborn posed a lot of challenges and I was honestly more content just staying home. Then, after about three weeks of mid-winter maternity leave, I began feeling the serious effects of cabin fever and I realized that a little anxiety was worth a trip out of the house.

In the beginning, I had no idea what the hell I was supposed to bring with me when trekking out with a tiny baby, so I typically ended up bringing everything. The travel system stroller was always crammed into the trunk of my car and the backseat was packed full with the diaper bag (which was more like a suitcase at that time), a baby sling, bottles, formula, the breast pump, and so on. With all the shit that I brought along for every trip out of the house, you’d think I was preparing for the end of the world to occur during every outing. If it was possible to buy an SUV that housed a mini-freezer for storing breast milk and small diaper factory in the trunk just in the case the baby had 400 blow outs while we were in public, I would have purchased it with a doubt.

Ironically, I never really needed any of the crap that I packed during our first few solo ventures into the real world for one reason. While I had finally gotten brave enough to leave the house with my baby, I was still terrified to actually get out of the car. For at least the first month, I only went to stores and businesses that offered a drive-thru window, solely because I was afraid there was a chance I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to get the car seat back into the car if we actually got out. Or what if I got into the store and the baby screamed for 15 minutes in a long check-out line? Or what if he got hungry and I had to feed him immediately?? I sure as hell wasn’t prepared to bust my boob out to breastfeed in public. And so, we stuck to the drive-thru.

Over the course of the next 18 months, I slowly kicked my fear of parenting in public and finally felt comfortable when we were out of the house. As Grey got older, I realized I didn’t need to pack 14 suitcases of baby gear in order for us to stop by the grocery store. I stopped caring if he cried in the checkout line. I learned to mix a bottle when stopped at a red light (talk about distracted driving….) and I wasn’t afraid to change his diaper in the backseat of my car before heading home from running a few errands.

I realized that getting out of the house was the best thing for both of us. We started going to story time at the library every Monday, visiting friends for play dates, and dropping by a free music class in our community when we had time. While I do still have a tiny bit of anxiety when we are out and about, which I’m sure is normal for every mother, I think we’ve gotten pretty good at getting out.

Which leads me to the bright idea I had on Monday. I’m off from work this week so I want to make sure I get in as many exciting things with Grey as possible. The weather has finally gotten a little bit warmer and we’ve been craving some summer-type activities. And so, the idea to try open swim came to be.

While we have taken tons of classes and visited lots of kid-friendly places, swimming is one of those things that I’ve avoided. We have never taken any baby swim classes with Grey and he’s probably only been in a pool two or three times. I have to admit, I’m just not a swimmer. I don’t love it – I’m not good at it. It’s just not my thing, which is probably why I’ve had no interest in signing us up for a mommy and me swim class. But this week, I really wanted to try something we’ve never done before and show Grey a good time.

I found an open swim session at our local high school for Monday afternoon. As I was getting us ready for family swim, I had new-mommy déjà vu. It felt like we were leaving the house for the first time all over again. I had no idea what the hell I was supposed to bring with us. I stuffed something crazy like 40 swim diapers in the diaper bag just in case Grey decided to shit in the pool several times. I had towels and dry clothes and swim shoes and all kinds of other crap that I knew I probably wouldn’t need.

image via canva.com

image via canva.com

Here’s the issue with trying new things with your children. A lot of logistical questions come up. My thought process went something like this: “Do I need to bring some sort of flotation device or not? I mean, I’m just going to hold him in the pool right? What if the water is too cold? What if he doesn’t like it? Should I get us dressed in our swim suits before we leave the house or change in the locker room? Wait, what the hell should I wear to this? Is a bikini inappropriate for family swim? Do I have to wear a mom-approved tankini or one-piece?? OMG – the other mothers are definitely going to judge me if I wear a bikini. Maybe we shouldn’t go after all.”

Luckily, I had invited a friend and her son to join us, so there was no backing out. As I turned into the high school parking lot, I had another small panic attack as I realized I had no idea where the pool even was within the school. There were four different buildings and about eight different doors to choose from. Thankfully, my friend Googled the information for me while I drove around the high school campus looking for other clueless mothers with kids in swimsuits. I realized that bringing a friend when attempting something new is crucial – otherwise I probably would have nixed this trip when I realized I didn’t know where to park.

Surprisingly, the open swim session was a success. I had no idea if Grey was going to get into the water, but he ended up loving it! It was a little chilly, but we survived. After spending at least twenty minutes worrying that a bikini wasn’t appropriate for family swim, it turned out that there was only one other family there so we pretty much had the entire pool to ourselves anyhow.

And even though I was totally prepared by packing 40 swimmy diapers, Grey didn’t shit in the pool after all. I’d call that a swim session success.

The Newborn Baby Basket

basket4

When I was pregnant, my husband and I were so lucky to be given hundreds of amazing, generous gifts at our baby showers. We had all kinds of gear – swings, seats, carriers, strollers. We had things that we didn’t know how to put together and we had things that we didn’t even know we’d need. It’s amazing how much stuff it takes to raise a tiny baby. Anyways, as far as the baby products go, we were sure we had everything.

And then, the baby came. As we were preparing to leave the hospital, the doctor rattled off a list of directions and medications. He mentioned infant acetaminophen and vasoline for my son, who was recovering some a circumcision. He told me it was safe to take ibuprofen around the clock for the discomfort. One of the nurses recommended Lanolin to help with the pain during the first few days of breastfeeding. All of a sudden, I realized we did NOT have everything we needed. We actually had to make a pit stop at the pharmacy on the way home to stock up on the little things we had forgotten about. 

Since then, I’ve attended two baby showers. When it comes to finding a gift, I have to hold myself back from buying butt loads of adorable outfits and toys. Additionally, I’m always compelled to purchase the precious gear that mothers cannot live without in my opinion, like a bouncy seat and a good baby carrier. But instead, I’ve made it my mission to pick up all those little things that often get forgotten in hopes that my friends won’t have to worry about stopping at Walgreen’s during that first family car ride home.

Today, I want to share with you the basket I put together for a friend this weekend. My apologies about the awful photos, but I didn’t think to take any to post until the last minute. Hopefully you will find this useful and consider putting one together for your preggo friends, too. Enjoy!

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First, I purchased a bunch of products that I found useful in the first few months of motherhood. Then, I found a set of free printable labels from a scrapping blog called Vintage Glam Studio. Print them out here.

These are the labels I chose from Vintage Glam Studio.

These are the labels I chose from Vintage Glam Studio.

I printed the labels, cut them out, and attached them to card stock. I wrote the name of each product on the front of the label. Then, on the back of each label, I wrote a tip for first time parents. Here’s how they came out.

Finished Labels

Finished Labels

Here is the list of products I chose and the tips I included on the labels:

  • Desitin Diaper Cream: Diaper cream is great for preventing diaper rash. However, don’t apply diaper cream to an open rash, as it can cause further irritation.
  • Nursing Pads: Be sure to keep extra nursing pads in your car and at work for the morning that you forget to put them on!
  • Lanolin: Lanolin is every breastfeeding mother’s best friend!
  • Tide Free and Gentle: Many people use Dreft detergent for newborns. However, a dye-free, perfume-free detergent is safe and sensitive for babies – and 1/4 the price of Dreft!
  • Aveeno Lotion: They say newborn babies’ skin doesn’t need lotion right away. However, when baby is a few months old and dry skin appears, we have found Aveeno to be the most sensitive and effective.
  • Aveeno Baby Wash: For the first week or two, use a washcloth and water to clean baby. It’s safe to bathe baby in a tub of water once the umbilical cord has fallen off.
  • Soft Brush and Baby Oil: If baby has cradle cap, apply baby oil to baby’s scalp and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, use a soft brush to clean the scalp.
  • Nail Clippers and Emery Boards: Emery boards (nail files) are much easier to use than clippers in the beginning. Plus, files help soften sharp edges on nails so that baby won’t scratch her face.
  • Baby Powder: Desitin is great for preventing rashes, but we have found powder to be much better for easing the discomfort once a rash develops. Also, add 2 TBSP of baking soda to a warm bath to help soothe baby’s rash.
  • Vick’s Baby Thermometer: Anything above 101 degrees is considered a fever in an infant. Ear or forehead thermometers are great, but a rectal thermometer is most accurate. This thermometer is great because it is very small, making it easy to use and fool-proof.
  • Adult Advil: It’s safe for you to take ibuprofen for pain after birth even while breastfeeding.
  • Vick’s Baby Rub: Vick’s Baby rub is safe after three months of age. They say rubbing Vick’s on the chest and on the soles of the feet help ease an infant cough.
  • Infant’s Acetaminophen: Acetaminophen is safe after three months of age. Dosage charts can be found online.
  • Infant’s Ibuprofen: Ibuprofen is safe after six months of age. Dosage charts can be found online.
  • Little Remedies Saline Spray: Saline spray and a suction will help remove congestion from baby’s nose.
  • Formula Dispenser: Once baby is drinking formula, a travel dispenser will help assist in making bottles-on-the-go very easy!
  • Vasoline: Vasoline can be used on the tip of a thermometer to help when taking a rectal temperature. Also, Vasoline can be applied to the inside of a diaper to help protect baby boys after a circumcision.

It’s amazing how quickly I had forgotten most of this stuff. I used a parenting book that I had read when my son was born for some of the information that I used on the labels. I attached these labels to each baby product using ribbon and placed them neatly in a basket. I also purchased clear shrink wrap to place the basket inside. I found both the basket and the shrink wrap at Hobby Lobby, but you can find these items at any craft store.

Here’s a closer look at the products and the finished basket! Happy Baby Showering!

Finished Product!

Finished Product!

The Peaks and Valleys of Parenthood

Throughout our lives, we take on a lot of things that require a serious level of responsibility. We work stressful jobs, we become homeowners, and we enter into marriages. We want to be successful in all of these areas and of course, each of these things will have their own up and downs over time. For instance, you probably have weeks at work in which you close record amounts of sales or you take on a handful of new clients. Maybe every student in your classroom does well a test. These weeks are the best – you impress even yourself and you feel like a success. On the other hand, there are times when everything feels like a challenge. You get stuck in rush hour traffic and miss an important meeting. You spend three months losing ten pounds and you gain three back after one indulgent, irresponsible weekend. Or maybe your furnace kicks the bucket. Either way, these are the weeks when you want to crawl into a hole and hibernate for the remainder of this god awful winter.

And raising children, my friends, is no exception. In my short experience, I’ve learned that parenting is a long road filled with peaks and valleys. The good times go something like this: You get up early enough to work out AND cook a homemade breakfast for the kids before they wake up. You enjoy a large cup of fresh, hot coffee first thing in the morning because you remembered to pre-set the pot the night before. You have time to shower every day. You get everyone to school on time and you even have a few minutes to enjoy a second cup of coffee before starting your day at work. You’re on top of your game at home. The laundry hampers are empty and the clean clothes are neatly folded and put away. You even remembered to send thank you notes for your child’s birthday party in a record amount of time. Your kids sleep through the night for several nights in a row and you (almost) feel well-rested.  Such months (or days, even) are amazing. You feel like supermom. You’re so put together during these times that you might even consider having another child someday…….. Until you hit a rough patch, that is.

The months when everything runs smoothly are like the calm before the parenting storm. Something will inevitably come your way and throw wrench into your routine. You might recognize a rough patch to look something like this: The baby cuts a tooth, and thus spikes a fever, keeping you up all night for at least three nights in a row. You finally get him back to sleep around 5:00am only to wake up to your alarm a half hour later. You hit snooze these times, then fall back to sleep accidentally, causing you to miss your morning workout and your shower. You drag whatever kids are still asleep out of bed, throw clothes at them, and shove them into the car since they clearly missed the bus. You hand every one cereal bars for breakfast in the car as you head to the daycare, only to realize that you left your work bag, your purse, and your coffee at home. Mornings like this tend to snowball, causing you to become so exhausted that you can barely stand by the end of the long day. The kids will eat dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets or hot dogs and you will choose to skip dinner because you’re too tired to cook anything substantial. The laundry is overflowing, the floors haven’t been washed in weeks, and no one can remember if they’ve fed the dog.  Your children are fighting so much that it seems as though they might kill each other, and you’re considering allowing that to happen simply because you can’t take anymore fighting. Times like this make you wonder why you ever decided to raise children in the first place, and you daydream about your childless life as you wash off two-day-old mascara from your face. During a rough patch, there isn’t enough coffee on the planet to keep you from falling asleep at any given moment due to downright exhaustion.

You’ll have one or two moments when you feel like you can’t take another second of craziness, when you reach that point of no return. You’ll feel like you might need to lock yourself in the bathroom for a very long time solely because you haven’t peed in peace in months, and it’s usually at that exact moment that the parenting gods decide to take pity on you and throw you a bone (and a large glass of wine). Your schedule stabilizes and everyone seems to stay on routine once again. The kids quit annoying the hell out of you and the baby finally gives you a straight eight hours of rest. It’s amazing really – one or two nights of good sleep can make you feel like normal, functioning human being. And as quickly as you had fallen into your parenting pothole, things calm down.

Like everything, parenting is going to have its up and downs. My advice is this – enjoy the good times. Celebrate when things are calm. Don’t take the quiet moments for granted. And when you feel like the house is starting to get a little hairy, prepare yourself. Pre-set your coffee maker for a strong 12-cup pot and prepare for the cyclone of crazy children to come swirling through for the next couple of days. And if worst comes to worst, you can do what I am doing at this very moment – grab your wine glass, lock yourself in the bathroom, and hide in the tub until the rough patch passes.

 

Why Finding a Good Sitter is Like Finding Good Love

enquire today (3)

I stood outside my son’s daycare classroom today and ran through what I was going to say to his teacher as I watched him play for a minute or two. I walked into the room, gathered his things, and struck up a casual small talk-type conversation with this girl. He’s been there for about three months now and I know that he loves her. However, because I only see her for a few minutes in the morning and at night, I don’t actually know too much about her. I asked her where she went to college and what she was studying as I worked up the nerve to ask her what I had rehearsed. After a few awkward minutes and some stuttering on my part, I finally took the plunge and went for it. “So,” I said, “do you babysit?”

If you have kids, then you understand that good babysitters are tough to come by. You want someone who has a specific set of qualities – someone who is dependable, trustworthy, intelligent, nurturing, compassionate, punctual, reliable, and loving. In fact, it’s a lot like looking for love. They say a good man is hard to find. And a good babysitter? Even harder to find. And sometimes, even more important.

Overall, securing a good babysitter is very much like the awful and tiresome process of dating. Maybe a friend sets you up with their sitter who you’ve met before and were interested in. If you’re desperate, maybe you hire a babysitter who you don’t know but who was highly recommended by a friend, much like a dreaded blind date. Or maybe you’re brave and you consider using a website to scroll profiles in order to meet your babysitter soul mate. No matter how you go about it, the important thing is to find a good one and hang on for dear life.

Once you’ve committed to an awesome care taker, you’ll fall deeply in love with the ability to actually leave your house child-free more than once every six months without having to desperately beg your own parents to watch your child for you. You’ll be able to meet up with friends, enjoy a glass of wine at happy hour after work, or even go on a much needed date with your husband (imagine that!). Before you know it, you will have fallen head over heels for your hired help and you’ll do anything to keep your relationship intact. You’ll purchase pizza every evening that she’s scheduled to sit for you. You’ll pay her an absurd hourly rate and then some, even though the baby was asleep for the majority of time that you were out – solely because you want to keep her happy. After all, you remember how much effort it took to find a good sitter in the first place.

Unfortunately, just like many of our past dating relationships, the babysitter breakup is often inevitable. Maybe she stops answering your calls or she claims she’s too busy to babysit. Either way, it’s almost as painful as losing your first love. You’ll sadly call and cancel your dinner reservations for your date night, knowing that you’ll never find another sitter by the time the weekend rolls around. It’s depressing, really. And if you’re like me, you’ll take a break from the babysitter-searching world and you’ll accept that it could be months before you’re back at your favorite bar for happy hour.

It’s been about six months since our last babysitter sadly (for us, at least) took a permanent teaching position. We’ve been relying on our family and friends to help us out when we are desperate for a sitter, which I totally hate doing on a regular basis. I knew it was time to finally get back in the game. I’ve had my eye on her for a few weeks. I have a very important baby shower to attend next week and no sitter in sight. And so, today was the day I finally worked up the nerve to ask her. I felt like I was getting ready to propose – to pop the most important mommy question – I even considered getting down on one knee and begging her, “Will you babysit for me?”

“Sure! I’d love to.” She said. I almost died from relief, or cried tears of joy, knowing that we might be able to leave the house alone occasionally once again. I wiped the sweat from my brow and clumsily fumbled around with my purse. I told her I’d write down my cell phone number and address for her. I walked out of the classroom and silently cheered to myself. I called my husband immediately to share the good news – we’re getting a sitter. We’ve only got the first date scheduled, so I don’t want to get my hopes up for a long-term babysitting relationship. But in the meantime, we’re going to enjoy any adult-only time we can get.

 

25 Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy When You’re Stuck Inside

If you live anywhere within the Midwest or the Northeast, then I’m sure you’re aware of Winter Storm Vulcan passing through this very moment. The only positive side to enduring a major blizzard in the middle of March is an unexpected day off from work to spend at home with my son. Between the 10-24 inches of forecasted snow accumulation and the 50 mph winds, I think it’s safe to say that we are going to be stuck inside today.

I’ve been back to work full time for a few months now, so I’m savoring any extra time with my son. That being said, we still get cabin fever after eight hours trapped inside the house. And if you are one of the millions of mothers dealing with this awful winter weather (and lots of snow days off from school), then I’m sure you and your kids often feel the same way.

So today, I want to share with you some creative ways to keep your kids busy when you’re stuck inside. As a teacher, I love coming up with exciting activities for my son and I to enjoy at home. However, we are on a budget around here and I like to try to use what we have around the house rather than spending tons of time and money on buying supplies for extravagant crafts. Here you can find twenty five quick and easy activities to keep your kids busy on those blustery, winter indoor days. Enjoy!

1.) Pop Bottle Bowling – Remove the labels from six pop bottles. Then, fill the bottles with a cup or two of colored water. Have your kids take turns knocking them down by rolling a ball and keep score. At the end, have your children add up their scores to determine a winner!

2.) Mystery Sensory Box – Invite your children to make a Mystery Box by decorating an empty tissue box. Then, hide something inside the tissue box. Have your children reach inside, feel the mystery item, and then take turns guessing what it might be.

3.) Road Work – Use wide masking tape or painter’s tape to make “roads” on the floor for your children to drive their cars on. When they are finished, invite them to help peel the tape off the floor (a great fine motor exercise!).

Beep! Beep! Coming through!

Beep! Beep! Coming through!

4.) Kid-Friendly Yoga – Get your kids exercising with a kid friendly yoga session! I’ve seen this website used in a kindergarten classroom that I was working in and the students loved it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cNjAj_o0SI

5.) Shoe Sort – Set ten pairs of shoes on the floor in a pile. Have your little one match the correct shoes together. Then, give them index cards with names on them to label who each pair of shoes belongs to.

6.) Oatmeal Sensory Play – Pour a container of dry oatmeal into a baking tray. Let your kids scoop and pour the oatmeal with measuring spoons or offer them small trucks to dig and push around the oatmeal.

7.) Shaving Cream Play – Shaving cream is such a great sensory activity and it’s pretty easy to clean up, too! Set your kids up at the table with a baking sheet to keep the shaving cream contained (hopefully…). Today, we used shaving cream to “paint” in the tub. Either way is lots of fun!

Painting with Shaving Cream!

Painting with Shaving Cream!

8.) Shoe Box Building – Bring down as many shoe boxes (or any cardboard boxes) you can find and let your kids use them to build a tower! One time, I covered them in white paper to look like ice blocks and had the kids build an “igloo.”

9.) Use masking tape or painter’s tape to make indoor hop scotch.

10.) All About Me Book – Use a file folder to help your child make an “All About Me” book. See the photo below!

File Folder "All About Me" Book

File Folder “All About Me” Book

11.) I Spy – I almost always have empty paper towel tubes in my recycling bin. Invite each child to decorate a tube as their “telescope” and then enjoy a game of “I Spy” using your homemade telescopes.

12.) Make Play Dough – Play dough is always a big hit around here. But it’s even more exciting (and time consuming, too) if you let your children make their own playdough. Mix one cup flour, one cup salt, and a half of a cup of water in a bowl. Add food coloring if you like. You can even have your children make a sculpture with this dough, bake it, then paint it when it dries!

13.) Shape Block Sort – We had a bin full of colored blocks that come in various shapes. I used construction paper to make a spot for each block shape. Then, the kids sorted the blocks by shape.

Blocks are not JUST for building!

Blocks are not JUST for building!

14.) Indoors/Outdoors– Bring outdoor toys inside!! My son loves his big basketball hoop that we usually keep outside in the summer. However, on days when we are stuck indoors, we bring the hoop inside! We even let him ride his tricycle inside, too….. although if I ever get around to refinishing the floors, we will probably banish bikes from being inside.

15.) Treasure Hunt – Before I went back to work, every Friday was designated “Treasure Hunt Friday.” I’d make little clues that led the kids from one place to another around the house and leave a little treasure for them at the end. The treasure was usually something silly like a pack of fruit snacks or a cookie, but they we’re always excited no matter what they found! If you have big kids at home, they can be in charge of writing the clues!

16.) Obstacle Course – Make an obstacle course indoors! Here are some ideas for obstacles: crab walk through the kitchen, crawl underneath the dining room table, crawl through a tunnel in the family room, hop over painter’s tape on the floor in the playroom, somersault on the rug in the living room, and finish with 10 jumping jacks at the front door.

17.) Fashion Show Snow Day – Have your kids plan a fashion show from start to finish. Encourage them to pick out outfits, make posters, create a program, and pick music to play. Have them model the clothes down the “runway” while you video tape.

18.) Water Play – Plug the sink and fill it with water, bubbles, and bath toys. Let your child pull up a stool and play!

19.) Table Cloth Toss – I used a table cloth leftover from a birthday party to make into a bean bag toss game. Draw large shapes on the table cloth and put a number inside each shape. Kids take turns tossing a bean bag (we used beanie babies since we didn’t have bean bags handy) and invite them to keep score by adding up their points.

Table Cloth Toss!

Table Cloth Toss!

20.) Cloud Sand – I haven’t tried this one yet, but it sounds awesome! Mix two cups flour and ¼ cup of baby oil to make cloud sand. Check it out here!  http://www.kiwicrate.com/projects/Flour-plus-Baby-Oil-equals-Cloud-Dough/384

21.) Homemade Puzzles – Help your child choose an image of their favorite character online. Enlarge it and print it. Then, glue it onto a piece of cardboard. Once the glue has dried, cut the image into pieces to make a homemade puzzle!

22.) Make a Fort – Use pillows, blankets, and chairs to make a huge fort. My son loves to play with flashlights while he hangs out inside his fort.

23.) Felt Activities – I had some felt leftover from another craft. There are TONS of cool things you can do with felt pieces! Make shapes for your children to match. Cut felt into the shape of a face. Then, cut several mouths, eyes, and noses. Let your children use the pieces to assemble silly faces. During the holidays, I cut felt into pumpkins and Christmas tree shapes so that the kids could make jack-o-lanterns and decorate the trees. One time, I even cut felt pieces into an Angry Bird for the kids to put together. Check out the photo below!

Angry Bird Felt Characters

Angry Bird Felt Characters

24.) Balloon Play – My son is totally obsessed with balloons! Anytime we are really struggling for something fun to  do, we blow up a few balloons left over from his birthday and try to keep them in the air.

25.) Paper Airplane Contest – Have your kids design a paper airplane. Have each child throw their airplane. Use a measuring tape to measure and record how far each air plane flew. The airplane that flew the farthest is the winner!

For photos of other activities plus lots of arts and crafts for kids, visit my Camera Roll page at http://thehonestmommy.com/camera-roll/

From Mommy Obsession to Daddy Infatuation

When my son was eight months old, we traveled with him to Buffalo, NY, to attend our best friends’ weddings. My husband and I were both in the wedding, so we planned to leave our son with my in-laws for the evening of the rehearsal dinner. Because my in-laws live out of town, we only see them about every 6-8 weeks. Still, our son had stayed with a babysitter a few times at that point and I wasn’t concerned that he’d be uncomfortable. We were thrilled to be in our friends’ wedding and we were even more excited for a few evenings out. Considering that my son was only about eight months old at the time, my husband and I were still new at this whole parenting thing and apparently we were pretty naïve, completely disregarding the possibility of any problems that weekend. But low and behold, two hours into rehearsal dinner, I got a phone call from my mother-in-law, and I quickly headed home to my inconsolable, crying infant. I felt equally ad bad for my in-laws as I did for my son. I’m fairly certain his two hours of tears traumatized all of them. And so began a long stretch of some serious separation anxiety.

At two days old, my son had some serious mommy attachment. Look at that grip!

At two days old, my son had some serious mommy attachment. Look at that grip!

Apparently, attempting to leave my baby with his grandparents in a hotel room for two hours completely scarred him, urging him to assume that every time I took more than three steps out of his line of vision, I was surely leaving him permanently. It was like all of a sudden, he was old enough to realize when he was near strangers and the thought of letting his mother move freely around a room full of people he didn’t know was completely outrageous. He clung to me and cried for me every time I attempted to leave. Having a child with separation anxiety is like the equivalent to being grounded when you were a teenager. You’re unable to go anywhere, you have absolutely no privacy or rights, and you can kiss your personal space a sweet goodbye. The only difference is that being grounded as a teenager lasted for a very specific length of time, usually a few weeks depending on the offense, and then granted you back your freedom after you’d completed your sentence.  Separation anxiety, on the other hand, surfaces unfairly without warning and lasts for an undetermined, sometimes unbearable, length of time.

This is the result of me attempting to leave the room when Grey was about 10 months old: screaming, crying, gripping, clinging. Oh the joys of separation anxiety.

This is the result of me attempting to leave the room when Grey was about 10 months old: screaming, crying, gripping, clinging. Oh the joys of separation anxiety.

Looking back, maybe I had brought this onto myself without even knowing it. I’ll admit, maybe I was a touch overbearing in the beginning. Plus, by that time, my son was home full time with me, so we spent every waking moment together. Somewhere along the line, I had taken over routines like bedtime, assuming that I could most definitely do a better job than my husband. However, around eight months my son could have been considered an appendage, an extension of my body, for the entirety of the day. I was exhausted. By bedtime, I was dying for a break.  But I had been putting him to bed every night for his whole life. If I was home and available, he simply would not allow anyone else but me to put him to bed. I had a little mommy attached monster and it was probably partially my own fault. In order to break the beast of his clingy ways, I would have to start separating myself. I started “hiding” around 7:45 so that mommy wasn’t an option at bedtime. I made sure to leave the house alone now and again. And within the next six months, I realized that I wanted to return to work full time by the time Grey reached 18 months.

As the months passed and I transitioned back into working part-time, something very strange happened. Slowly but surely, my son’s separation anxiety had thankfully dissipated, but so had his mommy obsession. To my surprise, he wanted daddy. He wanted daddy to play with him, he wanted daddy to hold him, he wanted daddy to feed him, and he wanted daddy to put him to bed. He even told me to go away during bath time one night. At first, I felt like I had won the mommy lottery. A break, at last. I had seriously lucked out in some respects. I got out of poopy diaper duty solely because he only wanted daddy to change him. I enjoyed a quiet glass of wine at night while daddy rocked out bedtime routine. I assumed that it was a stage, that I better enjoy it while it lasted, because sure enough, he’d return to his mommy infatuated ways at any moment. If anything, I knew that as soon as I switched to full time in January, he’d definitely be craving some serious mommy time.

So here we are, two months later, and you know what? The daddy streak continues. It was an amazing break at first, but as time passed, I started feeling hurt. I heard him tell my husband that he loved him and I was jealous. Mostly, I missed rocking him to bed every night. At two years old, he almost never wants to be held anymore, so bedtime is like a gold mine for snuggling time. And now, he only wants daddy to do it.

Last night, I decided that I had had enough. I wanted my bedtime back. So I did what any rational mother would do. I bribed him. I let him take two flashlights upstairs with us to play with while I sang him his songs and rocked him to sleep. We had a mini baby rave in his bedroom, swinging two small flashlights all around the room to sound of “Rock a Bye Baby.” He absolutely loved it.

And tonight, when bedtime rolled around, he wanted me again! I had won the bedtime battle by bribing him with two little LED lights. Tonight, I sang him another song as he pointed his flashlight in my face when I heard him say, “I love you, Mommy.” Maybe he really meant it, or maybe it was because I let him play with flashlights, but either way, I’ll take it <3

 

5 Things that I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming a Parent

A few weeks ago, a friend suggested that I write a post sharing “what I wish I had known” before becoming a parent for all those people who read my blog that might not yet have children. It sounded like an awesome idea, but I have to admit that I struggled with it. In a nut shell, here’s what I wish I had known: EVERYTHING. Parenting is a seriously overwhelming undertaking and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what information would have helped. However, there are a few things that I wish I had better understood and here’s my attempt at trying to share that with you.

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1.) Parenting is Mentally Exhausting: It’s common knowledge that parenting is physically exhausting. I won’t even bother boring you with the lengthy details. Waking up with a newborn is the most tiring task you will ever endure. If you are as lucky as I am, then the exhaustion will continue right on into toddlerhood. I’ve had a few parents that tell me that their toddler sleeps until 10, and honestly, I want to punch them in the face. Unfortunately, my kid is an early riser. 6:00am is now considered sleeping late in our household. But just like everything else that comes along with parenting, you get used to the exhaustion. Your body adjusts. Being tired is just the norm.

But what I was really unprepared for is the mental exhaustion. Having a newborn requires being on high alert at all times. You are constantly checking on your child. You analyze every facial expression, every odd movement, even the color of their poop. When you finally get them to sleep, you’ll spend your time glued to the monitor, making sure you can hear them breathe. I thought this mental exhaustion would pass, but then my child became capable of moving and I was constantly chasing him and childproofing things and making sure he didn’t fall down the stairs or smash into the coffee table. Once he became more stable, I again thought this stage would pass, but then he learned to talk and he wants to converse with me about everything under the sun and ask me 4000 questions for the entirety of the day. Here I am, at this very moment, thinking AGAIN that the mental exhaustion will pass, but then I know at some point soon he’ll be in elementary school and I’ll spend my mental capacity organizing his sports schedule and forcing him to complete his homework every night. It’s probably safe to say that I will be mentally exhausted for a very long time. At least until he’s married, I’m sure.

2.) You Will Have No Idea What to Expect:  There’s really no efficient way to prepare for parenthood. And no, having a puppy is not at all like having a child. As a dog lover and owner, there’s a chance I uttered that phrase before I became a parent. It is true; a puppy may require you to get up now and again at night to let it outside to pee. However, a puppy won’t latch itself to your breast and suck the life out of you for 45 minutes at least three times a night. Additionally, you can’t just open the back door and let your newborn out into the yard to take a shit and then conveniently lock him in a crate while you head out to run a few quick errands.

You can enroll for all kinds of classes about how to care for a newborn, but that doesn’t entirely guarantee that you won’t put the diaper on backwards during the first mid-night change in the hospital. You can read 14 different breastfeeding books, but that doesn’t ensure that you will be able to breastfeed successfully for the minimum of 12 months, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. And you know what? That’s totally fine. Parenting is a learn-as-you-go kind of undertaking. And as unprepared as you feel, don’t worry. You’ll figure it out.

Similarly, I can’t say that having one child has prepared me in how the hell to handle having another one. I’m guessing that the transition from one child to two will be just as insane (if not more so) as welcoming the first child into our family. But like I said, I’m sure I have no fucking clue as to what it will really be like until we get there.

Come to think of it, it’s probably a good thing that we go into parenthood without really understanding what is about to go down. Otherwise, we might just be smart enough not to have children at all.

3.) Parenting Doesn’t Change You: When you hit a milestone birthday, like 21, 30, or 40, people always ask things like, “So how does it feel?” or “Do you feel older?” And the answer is this: “No, dumbass. I feel the exact same way that I felt yesterday.”

Similarly, I think a lot of people assume that becoming a parent will change you. Let me fill you in here. Just because you carried a baby around in your belly for 40 weeks doesn’t mean that in the exact moment your child enters the world, you become a more responsible, more knowledgeable, more capable person prepared for raising a baby. Surprisingly, you are the same clueless, naïve, inexperienced person you were the day prior to giving birth and it will take many months (or years) for you to actually feel like a parent. On the day we brought my son home from the hospital, my husband and I sat in the kitchen eating lunch like normal. Then, we laughed and laughed at the hilarious, weird fact that there was a newborn sleeping in the next room. And not just any newborn, OUR newborn.

In addition, just because you enter the world of parenting doesn’t mean that you ultimately want to give up your pre-baby hobbies, like drinking wine or getting your nails done (though you may do these things much less frequently). Depending on your personal interests, becoming a parent doesn’t mean that you can’t still be a marathon runner, or a career driven woman, or someone who enjoys some alone time now again. You don’t have to replace your monthly book club meetings with mommy and me classes or your weekly date night with your husband for catching up on laundry and a good night’s sleep. You will still be the same person with the same hobbies and interests as you had before you had a child. It’s totally acceptable to still make time for those things (and very healthy, too) and you don’t have to feel guilty about that.

4.) It Doesn’t Get Easier: Every time I see a new mother struggling, I immediately feel the natural need to try to comfort her by assuring her that in time, it will get easier. However, I have to stop myself. The truth of the matter is this: it doesn’t actually get easier, ladies. But don’t get discouraged. Let me explain.

Every stage has its challenges and its perks. Having a newborn is a total pain in the ass because you’re up all night and the breastfeeding can be really tough. Then again, newborns are pretty portable since they will pretty much sleep wherever for long stretches of time. Now that my son is two, it’s so much easier because he’s a little bit more self-sufficient, but at the same time he is sassy and stubborn and energetic almost to a fault. I’m sure that when he’s a teenager, it will be so nice to have finally passed the needy newborn thing, but I bet waiting up all night praying to God that he’ll make his curfew without crashing his car will be super stressful. So here’s the deal. It doesn’t get easier, but you get better at it. You get better at managing the chaos and anticipating the challenges. You get better at staying organized and being prepared. You learn to stay patient and to handle your anxiety. Parenting is a lifelong process and it will always be challenging, but just like all the other parents in the world, we will be just fine. With that, I’m going to go refill my wine glass before I continue on here.

5.) It Doesn’t Always Come Naturally to Mothers: Many people assume that women are born with a natural maternal instinct that immediately kicks in as soon as they become pregnant. One person actually told me that women become mothers when they get pregnant and men become fathers when they meet their baby. Here’s a more realistic version of that statement: A woman becomes a mother when the baby is born because she doesn’t have a choice and she is the only person who can provide breast milk at 2:00am. A man becomes a father when his wife finally threatens to divorce him unless he starts helping with the baby.

Additionally, they say that women begin nesting even before the baby is born because of this natural motherly instinct. The truth is that not all pregnant women want to take on the task of researching and registering for 4000 baby items and washing bins of baby clothes, but that shit has to get done before the baby is born and someone has to do it. It doesn’t automatically mean that she is more prepared or more “ready” than her husband.

On the same topic, I’ve heard a lot of people talking about the instant motherly bond during that skin to skin contact right after the birth of a baby. I only know my own experience and I’m hoping you won’t judge me for this, but I’m not exactly sure I felt that “instant” connection. Here are the honest thoughts that went through my head immediately after giving birth and they occurred in this exact order: “I’m so thankful my son is here and healthy. It feels SO amazing to have that weight of a massive baby out of my body. I AM VERY HUNGRY.” I didn’t cry tears of joy or feel like I had become a mother instantaneously. And you know what? I think that’s perfectly fine. Maybe it took me a few weeks (or months….) to settle in to my new role, but I don’t feel guilty about that. I think it’s normal and honest to need some time to adjust. In my experience, it turns out that parenting was not a “just add water” kind of concoction and that’s totally acceptable.

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All in all, there’s nothing that I (or anyone else) can say that will prepare you for parenthood. Plus, everyone’s experience is totally different. I’m kind of an anxious, frazzled hot mess in general so taking on motherhood has been an adjustment for me. But trust me ladies, if I can do it, you can do it. And in the mean time, after our babies are born, we can drink as much wine as we need. Thank God for that, right?

Cake Pop Catastrophe

I’ve always felt that Valentine’s Day is a sad excuse for a holiday, mainly created by Hallmark purely for the sake of increasing sales. If you read my Valentine’s Day post last year, then I really don’t need to get into detail here. Because of this, I’ve never expected my husband to spend hundreds of dollars on some cheesy and hideous Open Heart necklace designed by Jane Seymour as a means of showing me his love on this fraudulent holiday. Before kids, we typically used Valentine’s Day as an excuse to indulge in dinner and drinks at a trendy restaurant without feeling guilty for spending a little extra cash. Come to think of it, at that time in our life, we didn’t really feel guilty for spending money at all, for the most part, considering we didn’t have a child to support at the time. But I digress.

In 2012, Valentine’s Day became the official day that we got to bring out newborn baby home from the hospital. Now that seems like something to celebrate. So even though I sort of hate the holiday, at least it has a little bit more personal meaning than in prior years.

While I would have loved to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the same way we did before having kids, enjoying late night dinner reservations in a cozy booth at a dimly lit wine bar, things have changed a bit. Not only are good babysitters hard to come by, but we are a little bit more careful with our financial situation, now that daycare costs are slowly sucking away at our savings. Nevertheless, we wanted to celebrate the anniversary of bringing home our little Valentine. With money being tight, we were forced to get creative.

I have to say, the first half of my Valentine’s Day surprise went pretty well. I used an idea that I found on another blog to create a simple, homemade gift for my husband. I bought a white mug and use chalkboard paint to paint a heart on the front of the mug. Now, I can leave personalized messages on my husband’s coffee cup every morning. Not bad, right?? Here’s a pic:

I wrote, "I Love You" in chalk on the mug. Tomorrow, I'm going to write, "Do the Laundry." :) So convenient.

I wrote, “I Love You” in chalk on the mug. Tomorrow, I’m going to write, “Do the Laundry.” :) So convenient.

And it was all downhill from there. Unfortunately, the second half of my amazing DIY Valentine’s Day idea didn’t go quite as well. I made the decision that I wanted to bake. Not only did I want to bake, I decided to bake something challenging. Cake pops. That’s right. A girl who has literally never baked anything in her life decided to tackle cake pops on the night before Valentine’s Day. You can probably imagine where this is going.

This is what I imagined my cake pops looking like. Hahahahahahaha.

This is what I imagined my cake pops looking like. Hahahahahahaha.

A few generous girlfriends of mine offered to assist with this overzealous undertaking. I drove over to my friend’s house on Thursday night after work to begin the baking. It was an evening filled with flying chocolate, crying babies, and several much needed glasses of wine. To sum it up, here’s a list of mistakes we made.

1.)    Baking cake pops while caring for four kids is probably too much to take on at one time.

2.)    If you are going to attempt to bake something for a gift or an event, do a trial run before the real thing and plan for lots of uninterrupted free time to get them done.

3.)    PUT THE BALLS IN THE FRIDGE OR FREEZER BEFORE YOU DIP THEM IN THE CHOCOLATE.

4.)    Unless you want softball sized cake pops, make the cake balls small.

5.)    Have at least three bottles of wine on hand to manage the stress involved in creating these evil baked goods.

I know this isn't the best photo, but you get the idea. They looked like shit.Literally. LOL.

I know this isn’t the best photo, but you get the idea. They looked like shit.Literally. LOL.

At the end of the night, the cake pops looked like a hot mess. But I have say, I did have an absolute blast hanging out with my girlfriends and I probably haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. I can’t thank them enough for even attempting this uphill baking battle with me. Luckily, my husband thought the cake pops tasted awesome even thought they looked like hell. He even got a little creative, too. This is what I came home to on Valentine’s Day:

So romantic, right?? At least he had the smarts not to attempt to dip those strawberries himself. Apparently, store bought is always better in my house when it comes to baking.

So romantic, right?? At least he had the smarts not to attempt to dip those strawberries himself.

It takes an especially thoughtful man to purchase gorgeous chocolate covered strawberries and then add a mustache photo bomb selfie to the plate. You’re jealous, I know.

And the most important lesson learned in regards to Valentine’s Day baked goods? Next year, I’ll go with something store bought.

 

Websites Used:

http://alldayidreamaboutfood.com/2011/02/valentines-cake-pops-fun-projects-with-kids.html

http://www.kay.com/en/kaystore/diamond-necklace–round-cut-sterling-silver

http://thehonestmommy.com/2013/02/14/hallmark-hell/

http://emmalinebride.com/holiday-2013/6-diy-valentines-day-gifts/

My Toddler’s Construction-Themed Birthday Party

For some mothers, throwing a birthday party for a child is like an annual excuse to pretend that she is an event planner, a graphic designer, and a crafting queen. She spends hours on Pinterest months before the occasion, carefully choosing a theme and planning the beginnings of the party. She’ll pin thousands of pictures of gorgeous cakes and hand-made décor that she can’t possibly recreate herself, although she sure as hell is willing to try. She’ll order customized invitations and maybe even attempt to print perfect little address labels and stick them with birthday themed stamps. She’ll insist on doing it all herself, in an attempt to avoid spending an absurd amount of money at Party City on cheesy birthday signs and tacky games for the kids to play. When it’s all said and done, she’ll take 400 photos of her work and over-share on every social media outlet available. It’s annoying, but you can’t help but think she did a damn good job and consider attempting to create something comparable for your own child next year.

And this year, my friends, that crazy mommy was me. So here they are – all 400 photos of the construction themed party we threw this weekend for my son’s second birthday. I hope you enjoy them and I apologize in advance for sharing them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and any other social media site I come across in the next few weeks.

I did find a ton of ideas on Pinterest and used a lot of free printables as well. I’ll post links to the sites where I found this stuff in case you want to use it, too! Enjoy!

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I found an awesome blog, called How to Nest for Less, that had links to free printables for invitations and decor. This was the image for the invitation provided on the blog’s website. I used Pic Monkey to add the text on the invitation. You can find all of original printables here. Definitely check out this blog – it had some amazing stuff!

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We found cheap hats at Party City and labeled them with the kids’ names who were coming to the party in lieu of favor bags.

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We bought Caution tape at Lowe’s and used that and streamers to decorate the dining room. I used free printables from Birthday Express to make the signs hanging from the chandelier. We printed them on glossy paper and matted them on black card stock.

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 I used the free printables from the blog I found to make the birthday sign hanging here. Then, we picked up two cones for about $10 a piece and attached a few balloons.

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I used a black plastic table cloth and duct tape to make roads for the kids to drive trucks on. Looking back, I wish I had used a piece of black cloth so that I could have saved it! They had a blast with this.

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I grabbed a big plastic bin from my basement and fill it with a $4 bag of gravel from Lowe’s and a few trucks and shovels that we had around the house for the kids to play in. This was the biggest hit! I also borrowed orange cones from my mother and cut a few yellow plates for a ring toss game.

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I made chocolate cupcakes with orange frosting and used some chocolate sprinkles to look like dirt. Then, I made cupcake toppers from the free printables (linked above).

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I found a cheap four-pack of dump truck candles at Hobby Lobby.

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We used the Caution tape in the doorways, on the banisters, and around the windows for some added decor.

Overall, I think it turned out AWESOME! Unfortunately, the problem with putting this kind of effort into my son’s birthday is that by the time he’s five, I’m going to be all-partied out. I’ll probably just book some overpriced venue like The Jump Club to plan the party for me – cake included, of course. And if we ever do decide to have a second child, I’ll be so tired of kids’ birthdays that the poor kid will be lucky to get a party at all.

For now, I”m just going to revel in the fact that we threw a pretty kick ass construction party, if I do say so myself. :)

 

What to Expect When You are Expecting Again

Now that my son is turning two, I’m faced with one common question from friends and family: Are you ready for another baby?? I typically respond to this question by letting people know that, to their surprise, Greyson may very well be an only child. The reason for this is simple. Between work and parenting, my husband and I haven’t even had time to sit down and converse about the possibility of another baby, much less actually find the time to spend creating another child.

Not to mention, I’ve heard a ton of mothers say that going from one child to two children is harder than having your first. Before I can even consider another future child, I decided to do some research. Luckily, my friend Laura from the blog, Payette Pigtails, was willing to give me the lowdown on what to expect when you are expecting again. Be sure to check out Laura’s blog and  follow her on Twitter by clicking here. Thanks so much for sharing your mommy wisdom, Laura! Enjoy!

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Hi, I’m Laura and I blog over at Payette Pigtails about the ins and outs of life with two little girls who are 26 months apart. (Shelby is almost 4 years old and Natasha is nearly 21 months old.) Going from one to two kids was kind of a big deal. It’s not like we’ve got Irish twins (god bless you if you do!) or even actual twins (holy moly). We knew two kids would be more work. We just didn’t realize how much more. It’s sort of like before you have your first baby and you know you’ll be sleep deprived, but you have no idea just how hard it will really be until you’re in the thick of it, with hormones mixed in for good measure. Anyway, here are a few of the differences that two kids has meant for us (your experience may be totally different!):

No guaranteed down time after the kids go to bed

This is a big one. Sometimes what got me through the day when Shelby was little was knowing she would go to sleep by 7 or 7:30pm and then I’d at least have a couple of hours to myself to decompress. Not so with two kids. Obviously, when Natasha was a newborn she didn’t have any schedule and especially loved to cry at night. So we’d get Shelby to bed only to have to deal with Natasha — sometimes for hours. There was no letup. Chris and I worked out a shift schedule so we’d at least each get a chunk of guaranteed sleep. Now that Natasha’s older she goes to bed reliably at 7 or 7:30pm, but Shelby is up till 8:30 or 9pm (or later some nights — gah!), so down time doesn’t start till then and usually includes picking up the house, doing dishes and/or laundry, cooking, or any number of other mundane but necessary house chores that can’t otherwise get done when we’re at work or with the kids. We then stay up way too late to actually get some down time, which means we rarely sleep enough.

No guaranteed respite during nap time

Nap time is another godsend that keeps you going. It’s a break in the middle of the chaos. But when both children don’t nap — or at least at the same time — it’s painful. Shelby gave up weekend naps for the most part just before she turned 3. We tried instituting quiet time, but it just didn’t take. Do you have any idea what that does to your sanity?! It tanks it! Just when you’re thinking you’ll get a reprieve — haha! Not only is your older child not sleeping, but she also wants to play with you. She’s no dummy; she knows she’s got you all to herself. Sometimes you have to dig deep to make it work.

Overlapping schedules

So speaking of naps, when Natasha was little, but big enough that she needed to sleep at home and not on the go in the car seat, it was hard to go anywhere. It took so long to get everyone and their stuff in the car that, by the time we got to our destination, we’d practically have to turn around to get back home — that or seriously risk screwing up nap time. And when you’re trying to teach a baby to sleep, it’s sort of counterproductive. Even now that Natasha is older and takes a solid midday nap, we have to plan around it. Most kid-friendly places near us don’t open on the weekend till 10am and are 25-30 minutes away, but N goes to sleep at noon. It doesn’t work so well. Meanwhile, Shelby is always restless and wants to go somewhere!

Severely reduced ability to just “run out”

When you have one kid, you can theoretically leave them at home with your spouse/partner and run out to do an errand by yourself. You get your errand done faster, you get some alone time — it’s great! And you can return the favor for your partner. When you have two kids, you divide and conquer, which means you’ve almost always got at least one kid with you. Outings that once seemed easy and maybe even fun turn into ordeals. Need to pick up your prescription? No problem — that’ll take an hour. Need some new clothes? Better pick them up at Target, along with your milk and baby shampoo, because you’ll never make it to a real store, let alone have time to try anything on. Think about it: How do you buy new bras? Let me tell you from experience, it doesn’t work real well to take your kid in the fitting room with you. Need to get your haircut? You might just need to hire a babysitter.

Virtually no ability to focus on anything (because someone always needs something)

When you’ve got one kid and they’re beyond the baby phase, they learn to entertain themselves — at least long enough for you to go pee by yourself (in some cases, anyway). But when you’ve got two, someone always needs something from you. “I’m hungry!” “I need a Kleenex.” “Can you get me that toy (that’s out of reach)?” “I wanna watch Ariel!” “I want milk.” You no sooner sit down than someone’s asking for something that requires you to stand back up.

Because you can’t catch a break, you also can’t focus to get anything done. You learn to work in snippets of time — 30 seconds here, 3 minutes there. Laundry takes ages to get folded or put away (if ever). Recipes you used to think were easy to whip up (that took 30 minutes) get relegated to a dust heap. Now you make what you can throw together in 5 minutes or less. You start to wonder if you can keep a thought in your head:

Mom: I need to finish the grocery list so I can get to the store before…

Kid 1: Moooooooom! Where are my shoes?

Mom: Check the kitchen, by your coat…Oh crap, I need to put their coats in the car so I don’t forget them…

Kid 1: I don’t see them!

Mom: Well, check in the family room. Where did you last have them?…Ok, grocery list…

Kid 2: I want a snack.

Mom: Scrambling to think of something…How about some grapes?

Kid 2: Yeah!

Mom: Okay, I need to cut them up…Here you go…sits down again…

Kid 1: I wanna watch Jake [and the Neverland Pirates].

Mom: Fine. Just till I finish this list and then we’re going. But I want you to go potty first…turns back to grocery list, frantically trying to finish.

Kid 1: Kid goes potty…Can you wipe me?

Mom: Gah!

Never Ending Opportunities to Parent

“She won’t give me that toy!” “Hey, that’s mine!” “She hit me.” Basically, you can kiss peace and quiet goodbye for a long time once you have two kids (unless they’re are asleep). Someone is always jabbering, asking questions, complaining, crying, screaming, or otherwise trying to vie for your attention. It literally never ends. And with all the arguments and questioning and curiosity come limitless opportunities to parent. Sometimes you’ll feel on your game, but most of the time you’ll be too exhausted and/or bewildered to even know what to do or say. In fact, you’ll wonder when Amazon is going to deliver that magical parenting manual — not that you’d have time to read it.

Constant Juggling at Mealtime

Okay, this is a little exaggerated in our house because Natasha has a peanut and an egg allergy, but even without that the girls have different appetites and eating schedules. Which means that by the time you get food for one of them, the other one wants something…different, of course. It means if you’re not careful you’ll spend your whole life in the kitchen — either making something or cleaning it up. At the very least you’ll be refereeing comments like, “Ewww, I don’t like that!” and, “I need more milk!” Remember the line from A Christmas Story? “My mother had not had a hot meal for herself in 15 years…” Believe it.

A House That’s Never Clean

You might think it’s hard to clean your house with one kid — and it is! Add a second kid to the mix and you can pretty much kiss clean toilets and bed sheets goodbye. Well, maybe not toilets because that gets gross, but baseboards and other niceties for sure, like counters. (I hear we have them.)  Ain’t nobody got time for that  — unless you have a housekeeper (it’s on my wish list). My house always looks like it’s been hit by a tornado. Toys, shoes, stuffed animals, dirty socks, art projects — they’re constantly strewn about. And it does little good to pick them up because five minutes later one kid or the other will deposit something new on the floor. I’m not saying don’t try to pick up — just know that it’s like a bucket that’s constantly being filled with water; you’ll never empty it.

Larger Family Expenditures

This one is obvious, although you might not necessarily think so. It’s not like you’re feeding another adult (or growing teenager — eek!). But even if you’re like us and have two kids of the same gender, hand-me-downs from kid #1 don’t always work, so you buy more clothes. You need more car seats. You spend more for kid activities. You pay more for daycare. And if you’re lucky enough to go on them, you spend more on family vacations. In short, cha-ching.

Now, I’m not saying don’t have a second kid (or third or fourth). Just don’t be surprised when baby two isn’t like baby one and you find yourself wondering how in the world you can get through each day without eight arms and a lot of coffee.