How to Successfully Bring Your Baby Along on a Work Trip

If you’re facing a trip away from your infant that you don’t feel good about, think about whether you might be able to bring her along.

A few months ago, I went on my first work trip since having my baby. As I packed my bags in preparation for heading to the airport, I ran through a mental checklist: computer, work clothes, presentation materials, onesies, diapers, and pacifiers. That’s right, my baby was coming along.
When I returned to work, my boy was 14 weeks old, and I was already dreading the trips I’d scheduled before his birth. While I knew that he would be perfectly fine if I left him at home and that he was too young to really miss me, the thought of not snuggling up next to him at night made me anxious.
I’m also a breastfeed mom, so being away from my little guy for 48 hours would mean somewhere around 20 sucky (pun intended) pumping sessions in a row.
After spending a few weeks stressing about being away from my baby, I decided to make the case for bringing him along. Luckily, my supervisor gave me the okay. Each night, as I cuddled up to his warmth, I knew I made the right decision.
If you’re facing a trip away from your infant that you don’t feel good about, think about whether you might be able to bring her along. Check out the tips below to find success when adding a tiny tag-along to your itinerary:

Know your schedule

It’s important to consider what your schedule will look like while you’re working from afar. Often, when employees travel, they maintain a regular eight-hour day. Sometimes, though, travel lends itself to sun-up to sundown scheduling. If you’re going to be engaged in all-day activities that don’t mesh well with having baby along, it might be easier to leave him at home. If, however, you’re going to be working a pretty regular schedule and any after working-hours events will be baby friendly, consider adding your tot to your ticket.

Think about child care

Just because you’re brining your baby along doesn’t mean they’ll be able to be with you the whole time. Just as someone else likely provides care for your child when you work local, you’ll need some assistance when you’re out of town as well. Most city’s have travel nanny agencies that guarantee a safe, reliable nanny for the times you’re engaged with your work.

Have a plan when you make your ask

At most organizations, it’s not standard to bring babies along on travel. If your request will be a first, make sure that you know exactly what you’ll need and how you’ll handle any challenges before you make your proposal to your supervisor. Generally, as long as you can ensure your boss that your baby’s presence won’t negatively impact your performance, they’ll be agreeable to your request.

Inform those who need to know

While it’s obviously a good idea to get the green light from your supervisor, you’re not obligated to tell anyone about your child’s presence who won’t be impacted. Neither your client nor your co-workers need to know if you worry that it might impact their perception of your professionalism.

Do the math

Before you bring your baby on your next trip, do the math to make sure their presence won’t cause a financial burden that you’re not prepared for. While babies under two can typically fly free as long as they’re in your lap, you’ll likely find yourself paying out-of-pocket for things like childcare or an upgraded ticket. Consider these costs honestly before making a decision.

Enjoy your cuddles

While work trips are often exhausting, for new parents they can sometimes serve as a break from middle-of-the-night diaper changes and early morning feedings. If you’re choosing to mix business and baby, you’re likely doing so with the knowledge that it will be harder, at least in some ways, than leaving them at home.
You’re also likely doing so because you know just how magical their cuddles are after a long day’s work. Enjoy those cuddles. You’ve earned them!

How to Keep Your Non-Mom Friends

How can we continue to nourish relationships with people who can’t relate to the sometimes all-consuming experience of motherhood?

Motherhood is lonely. And I think we all know that starting to seek connection with those who are going through a similar experience is the antidote. We feel less alone and more supported when we find members of our own mom tribe.
But what happens to the people who were there for us before baby? What about those friends that knew you long before diapers and breast pumps? How can we continue to nourish relationships with people who can’t relate to the sometimes all-consuming experience of motherhood?
I feel most connected to my pre-mom self when I’m with my non-mom friends. These friends have seen me at my weirdest and weren’t embarrassed to be around me, supported me when I wasn’t sure where my life was going, and made me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe.
I may have a mom tribe, but these women are my soul sisters. Sometimes it’s work to keep in contact, and I never seem them as much as I would like to, but I know every time we get together that I feel truly myself.
Here are some ways to keep your old friendships going after you become a mom:

Don’t make assumptions

It’s easy to go there and think, “They probably think I’m not fun anymore,” or “They probably don’t even want to hang with me anymore.” This can make you resentful and less likely to make an effort in maintaining the friendship.
In reality, a lot of times friends aren’t sure how to act. They may be worried about inviting you places and making you feel disappointed when you can’t come or even not wanting to “bother” you since you have a new baby.
Bottom line, never make assumptions unless you have evidence. Assumptions create unnecessary and unfounded tension and distance in your relationships.

Be assertive in the face of judgement

If you have a friend who says, “I know you’re all baby now,” or “I know your hands are full and you’re too busy for me now,” put it back on them. They may make assumptions or judgments, and you can set the record straight.
“Yes, a lot has changed, but I’m still your friend,” or “You’re right, I’m busier now, but I would still like to make time for us to hang out. Please don’t assume that I’m leaving you behind.” Putting things on the table reduces passive aggressive attitudes and opens up the relationship for more honest and deeper communication.

Let them know you need them

When your life is consumed by baby and family, it can be easy for friends to start to think you’ve “moved on” and don’t need them. It’s an important part of any relationship to feel there is reciprocal desire to keep the relationship going. Let them know you miss them, how much you value your time with them, and the fact that you need their support or whatever else they bring to your relationship.

Prioritize them

It can be easy to just want to hang out with other moms because they get it. Remember your other friends and put effort into those relationships. Make a standing monthly or weekly date that takes priority over other committments. If that’s too difficult, make an effort to text or call them once a week to see how they’re doing.

Be open and honest if things feel different

You can always reach out and say, “Hey, I feel like we’ve been disconnected lately. I know things have changed a lot. Your friendship is important to me. Can we get together and talk?” Be honest about your expectations from them. Ask them what they need from you to heal any wounds and maintain your connection.

Be empathetic to their feelings

Sometimes friends struggle with seeing their friends married and having a child if they want those things, too, but don’t have them yet. If you feel this is the case with a friend of yours, you may need to give them some time.
This may be especially true for friends who have struggled with infertility. Time and space can offer the healing they need before they reconnect. When they return to the relationship, try to offer understanding and compassion. You never know what your friends might be going through or how they see your situation. Try to feel them out and be there to listen and support them.

They won’t get it and that’s okay

Did you “get it” before you became a mom? Most likely not. So don’t expect them to “get it” now. Just because they can’t necessarily relate doesn’t mean they can’t or don’t support you. Try to find other ways to relate and limit the time you spend talking about your mom stuff. Remember there are things you can talk about outside of motherhood. It’s refreshing!
Some friendships just won’t make the transition. This is just a part of life. You may have friends whom you easily partied with before but don’t find much in common outside of the bar. It’s okay to prioritize the friendships you want to keep.
The friendships that are meant to be will somehow make it through.

Research Says: Leave the Kids, Take the Trip

Taking a trip without your kids may feel like you’re trying to escape, and that’s okay. Escape. Your relationship thirsts for it.

Thinking of leaving the kids to take a trip with your partner, but anxiety has you second-guessing?
Run over that stop sign in your brain, call the in-laws to babysit, and go.
According to current research conducted by Travelocity, 56 percent of couples claim that travel is vital in keeping that “spark” flickering in their relationship. However, only 31 percent of couples surveyed have been on a couples-only getaway.
Parenting often feels like you’re stuck in the dugout, you and your partner never getting a chance at bat. In this monotonous phase in a relationship, the study reported that couples only spend about six hours a week together marked as “couple time.” This then leads to only seven minutes per day of “romantic time.”
Being teammates in this parenting game is vital, but we often forget to look at each other the way we used to. The sex, if it’s there at all, is often scheduled, rarely spontaneous. Between picking up the kids, homework, meal-prep, and emptying the dishwasher, finding time – real time – with your partner is tough. Taking a trip may feel like you’re trying to escape, and that’s okay.
Escape. Your relationship thirsts for it.
My husband and I found ourselves in a similar rut. It was nothing drastic, but working out and grad studies always took precedence over date nights. We knew our marriage needed a drink of adventure.
So, we packed up our bags, phoned the grandparents, and headed to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan to hike, explore, and eat and drink with the locals. We wanted to hike Hogback Mountain to view the Caribbean-blue waters of Lake Superior.
We ended up getting lost and heading 90 minutes in the wrong direction on the North Country Trail. Mosquitos swarmed us, and there were times when we wanted to quit. But we didn’t. We used the teamwork that we’ve exercised so often in parenthood and challenged one another to make it to the top of that mountain – for our marriage. It was the “spark” that our relationship needed.
Research conducted by the U.S. Travel Association claims that 77 percent of couples who travel together reported having a vibrant sex life. “Couples who take time to vacation alone together at least once each year report happier, healthier relationships overall compared to those who do not travel as couples,” says Pam Loeb, principal of Edge Research. These trips don’t have to include a pricey plane ticket. See what your own state has to offer and explore.
I’m not so sure how comfortable I feel about reporting on sex. (I have three brothers who still think the stork delivered our babies to the doorstep.) But this trip did increase our spontaneity, which, as we know, can help in the bedroom.
One rainy afternoon, we sauntered into a local bar, did shots with the locals, danced on a floor scatterd with peanut shells, and got a ride home with the bartender by 5 p.m. We would never have thought to be so liberated with our kids in tow, or even in our own town. In other words, it wasn’t just a vacation without the kids. It was a vacation for us.
Having the ability to be this free felt like a gift – one I will look forward to when I’ve grown old and have wrinkles all over my body.
We’re more than just our kids. Get out of that dugout and take your partner with you. Traveling will add not only to your sex life, but it will strengthen your teamwork, your bond, and your communication as well. It’ll remind you that life can be lighthearted again if you let it.

Love Is Sweatpants and Take-Out, Actually

I’ve recently made a commitment to look out for the little things – those things that happen on a daily basis that show me just what love is.

When my husband and I first started dating, I was one of those hopeless romantic types. You know, the kind that grew up watching Disney movies and rom-coms involving Prince Charming, happily ever after, adorable meet-cutes, gigantic, suspenseful, highly emotional grand gestures, perfect lines at the perfect moment, so on and so forth, et cetera.
Ah, that warm fuzzy feeling.
That whole, “oh-my-gosh-that-perfect-guy-is-so-perfect!” paired with a hope that one day, you might have someone bulldoze through crowds of people at a busy international airport to stop you from getting on that plane so that he can perform a heartbreakingly beautiful soliloquy about why you two belong together.
Sigh.
I still watch rom-coms. And dang, I still love ’em.
But, to be honest, my husband and I rarely do big, romantic gestures. We have a mutual agreement about it. Despite that, I used to hold that against him. I used to get all passive-aggressive about it.
For instance, a holiday like Valentine’s Day would come and go, and we wouldn’t do anything because “we” didn’t believe in it. But I’d still feel a little shortchanged. Poor guy. I mean, come on. How’s that for unfair?
The truth is, I used to be all about the grand gestures, the big demonstrations of love, the utterly romantic, perfectly crafted moments that take your breath away.
It’s funny though, because 10 years and two kids later, I’ve come to see love and romance in a whole different light. Flowers and chocolates are all well and good, but I’ve recently made a commitment to look out for the little things – those things that happen on a daily basis that show me just what love is.
They’re everywhere.
Love is in that extra hour of sleep you didn’t even realize he gave you until you woke up feeling just a little bit more human.
Love is in that secret look and the stifled laughter you exchange when your toddler says or does something hilarious and maybe borderline inappropriate.
Love is in the fresh bottle of cold water that magically appears by your bedside lamp every night, because he knows you get thirsty when you get up to nurse the baby every two hours.
Love is in the realization that it’s been an entire week and you haven’t washed a single dish because he has just taken care of it.
Love is in putting away the laundry your partner spent time folding, because folding laundry is no easy feat when you have an assistant who’s under three feet tall and considers “folding” to be synonymous with “throwing.”
Love is in that moment when you’re in separate rooms trying to get the kids to sleep, and you unexpectedly get butterflies in your stomach because you’re excited that you get to hang out with your best friend soon.
Love is in that conversation on the couch in your sweatpants eating Pad Thai out of a box while you exchange stories about things your children did and replay videos of them being adorable even though they’ve only been asleep for five minutes.
Love is in those times you irritate each other and then realize that being annoyed at each other is really no fun and that you miss your buddy, so you suck it up and say you’re sorry.
Love is in the empathy he shows when you both know full well that, in this particular instance, you really are just being hormonal and maybe, possibly, mildly irrational.
Love is in the effect of that text message he sends telling you he’s coming home early.
Love is in the realization that, actually, you’re just as excited as your toddler to see him walk through that door at the end of each day. And not just because it means there are now more adults on duty to tackle the troops, but because your person is here and he makes you happy.
Love is in his acceptance of your obsessive hygiene standards, and when he uses your designated kitchen sponges in line with The System without making a fuss.
Love is in that moment when you’re trying to put your child to sleep, and just can’t anymore, and he comes in and takes over the bouncing, the shushing, the comforting. And you sit on the edge of the bed just watching him love your baby.
Love isn’t always in the big moments. More often than not, it’s in those numerous, seemingly inconsequential, in-between moments that punctuate a day. The moments that are prone to pass you by without you noticing them because you’re too busy waiting for the string instruments to start playing and the fireworks to shoot into the sky.
So take stock. I guarantee you’ll be surprised. You may find that love has become so ingrained in your life together that it infuses your daily actions and decisions – those things you do that are no big deal, but when examined closely, stem from your love for each other.
I’d take that over flowers and chocolates any day.

7 Ways to Resolve Parenting Disagreements With Your Partner

Instead of yelling and screaming, here are a few tips to help resolve issues smoothly the next time you find yourself in the middle of a heated discussion.

Whether it be a simple disagreement about what your child can eat for dinner or a near relationship ending blow-up about how to discipline your kids, conflict is inevitable when it comes to parenting.
There’s so much to discuss, and it’s rare that two people will agree entirely. Instead of yelling and screaming, here are a few tips to help resolve issues smoothly the next time you find yourself in the middle of a heated discussion.

Avoid using broad statements

Never say never. The saying also stands true for arguments. The thing about saying “always” and “never” is that it’s rarely ever true. Using such sweeping, broad language can cause unnecessary drama and ultimately, damage.
Instead, try using sayings like “I’ve noticed that recently you’ve let her stay up later than I’m comfortable with.” Using gentler language can promote a softer reaction and help you reach a peaceful agreement.

Stick to the topic

There’s a tendency to bring up past issues and grievances during an argument that may have nothing to do with the disagreement at hand. Focusing on the issue in question and trying to resolve that alone instead of dredging up the past will make it easier to come to a resolution.

Allow space and time to process

You know that old saying: Never go to bed angry. Forget all about it. Sometimes, sleeping on an issue or choosing to walk away and discuss something at a later time allows you time and space to process your emotions. You could wake up with a new, fresh perspective that makes room for a simple solution.

Use “I” statements

Instead of placing the blame on your partner and leading with statements like, “You never do anything in the kitchen,” or “You’re never home,” try leading with “I really appreciate it when you do the dishes,” or “I love spending time with you.”

Validate emotions

Sometimes, a person simply needs to be heard and validated. Validating emotions and your partner’s point of view can be helpful when resolving disagreements. Try saying “I understand where you’re coming from,” or “I can see how you would feel that way.” Practicing empathy is critical when it comes to conflict resolution.

Pay attention to timing

Timing really is everything, especially when it comes to talking things through. Choose a time to talk about issues when you and your partner both have the time and the energy to work things through. This can often mean tabling a discussion until the kids are asleep and you’re able to focus.

Understand that you both offer value

Each of you has different strengths you bring to the table. Recognize that you both have unique gifts to offer your children and play those up. If one of you has more patience at bedtime, designate that person as the official bedtime parent. If the other loves cooking, take advantage of that passion and allow him or her to spend some time getting creative in the kitchen.

How Creativity Can Help You Find Your Way Back to You

Even if it feels like there’s just no room in your schedule, here’s why you need creativity in your life.

There came a day, about 10 months into motherhood, when I lifted my head from naptime routines and baby-led weaning and wondered just when the old ‘me’ had wandered out the door.
That was the day I decided I had to get back to doing the thing that defined me before the word ‘mom’ did, and to find space for both versions of me.
Babies are wonderfully all-consuming little creatures. They’re designed that way. But for the 10 to 15 percent of moms who suffer with postnatal depression or anxiety, part of the struggle is an overwhelming sense of loss – the feeling that you’ve surrendered yourself along the way, that you’ll never get back to who you were or be able to find time for yourself again.
Although medication has traditionally been the first port-of-call, studies are investigating different methods of treatment for mild cases. According to Christina Hibbert, clinical psychologist and founder of the Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition, medication is often not an appropriate first treatment. Many women take the wrong drug for their needs or don’t want to take medication while nursing.
Psychotherapy or “the talking cure” is the tried-and-tested alternative. But could creativity have a complementary part to play in tackling PND, too?
In 2008, researchers in the UK set up a group called Time for Me designed for mothers experiencing mild to moderate PND. The group provided a safe space where they could express their creative side, and this, in turn, led to behavioral change. Although the study was small-scale, the researchers suggested that arts therapies could complement conventional treatments.
Even if it feels like there’s just no room in your schedule, here’s why you need creativity in your life:

Creativity charges up your happiness

Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand found that creative activities led to an “upward spiral” of wellbeing. Those taking part in the program reported feeling more enthusiastic and “flourishing” more than usual following days when they’d done something creative.
While successful completion of the bedtime routine often just has to be marked with a movie and a large glass of wine – you know, just for survival – it can be primetime for creativity, too. Making that effort to create, rather than consume, can leave you feeling more balanced and relaxed for whatever the next day has to throw at you.

It gives your mind something else to work on

Whether you’re painting seascapes, sewing patchwork quilts, or growing a garden, creative pursuits can help call time on overthinking. It’s about making something from nothing, instead of making something out of nothing.
Physician Carrie Barron, author of “The Creativity Cure”, recommends choosing manual activities, claiming that using our hands to make something serves to “honor anatomical intent.” In other words, it gets us out of our heads and puts us back in our bodies.

It helps you carve out time for yourself

That concept certainly isn’t on the ‘features and benefits’ billboard for motherhood. Before I started writing again, my anxiety would focus around my daughter’s nap schedule because I was starving for time to myself, desperate for a break and not sure how I’d cope without one. Now, once a week, I take time to just go write stories.
Of course, I feel guilty as I kiss my daughter goodbye, hold my breath, and march out of the house. And, of course, none of us need a justification to have time alone. But somehow this feels more worthwhile to me, because I’m going to do something with my time – to make something new.

It offers you community

When my child was born, I didn’t want to talk about anything but babies. Then suddenly, I needed to talk about something – anything – else.
Whether it’s online or in person, your creative hobby gives you something in common with people who just aren’t that interested in the Gina Ford debate. Heck, they may not even know you’re a mom. Perfect.

It teaches you to handle failure

Edwin Land famously said, “An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” If we can learn to live with our mistakes in crochet or watercolor, then we can apply the same to our parenting fails.
Our kids need us to model trying new things, making time and space for our own mental health and treating ourselves with kindness when we fail. That’s how they’ll learn kindness, toward themselves and others.
That’s how they’ll figure out that their best is good enough, too.

The Baby Registry Gifts You Won’t Be Selling at a Yard Sale

Baby registries are often full of things parents don’t need. Why not steer the giving nature of friends and family in the direction of these useful gifts?

[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]E[/su_dropcap]xpecting a brand new bundle of joy? If you’ve seen the ads, you’ve probably heard that your eight-pound money pit is going to need every contraption available to be happy, healthy, and comfortable during the first few months of life.
You had best get thee to a baby store! There are bassinets to buy, and monitors and diaper bins and coordinating sheet sets, too. In fact, the USDA estimates that the average American family spends more than $12,000 on child expenses in the first year of their child’s life. It’s easy to see how the expenses begin to add up when you need the newest, most high-tech version of everything.
But is there another way? The movement toward minimizing unnecessary “stuff” and focusing on securing baby’s future health – along with fewer but more functional and often higher quality belongings – has taken hold. It may resonate with you if you find yourself wondering again and again, “Do we really need that?”
Here, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite baby registry items for the minimalist. If you’re expecting a baby and wondering how to navigate the baby registry without going overboard, check out our collection of baby registry alternatives that won’t gather dust.

Baby gifts for indulging


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Prenatal massage

Add a gift certificate for a massage to your registry and enjoy some alone time before the chaos begins. Check with your doctor or midwife in advance to get the all-clear, and be sure to book a massage specific to expecting moms. Trust us, just the chance to lie on your stomach again on a specially prepared bed of pillows will feel heavenly.

Babymoon

If your host is up for coordinating a babymoon-themed shower, you could be in for a real treat. A friend who volunteers to babysit your older children, others who pool their frequent flyer miles towards your flights, and a few more who donate funds towards a hotel or activities could quickly add up to a weekend escape you’re sure to remember long after your tan fades. You could add individual elements of the babymoon to your traditional registry, or leave the organization to your host if she’s willing to be your fairy godmother.  

Bubbly, for now, and then

Want a special gift to enjoy now and again later? Request two bottles of nice champagne, preferably with the year on them. Enjoy one with your family on your baby’s birth day and save the other to enjoy with your child when she turns 21.

Baby gifts that will ease your burden


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Meals

Your own feeding schedule is about to take a back seat to your hungry little peanut’s. If you’d like to avoid a diet of granola bars and lukewarm coffee, consider requesting the gift of healthy delivered, kit, or home-cooked meals. Then practice reheating and consuming them with one hand tied behind your back. Request that your host sets up a meal train if she’s willing, or consider asking for gift cards to local catering services or a meal kit subscription service.

Cleanliness

If there’s anything less important than your meals, it will probably be the cleanliness of your kitchen sink. A cleaning service can help take some of the load off, whether it’s scheduled once for a deep clean or arranged on a regular basis. Add a cleaning service fund, gift certificate, or Groupon to your registry and stay a step ahead of the mess. Just try to resist the urge to frantically clean up before the cleaners arrive.

Diapers

As you probably know, your life will soon be full of diapers. Whether you go for cloth or disposable, your little one is apt to go through six to 12 per day to start. Yup, that’s a diaper champ total of up to 84 diapers per week. While you might not get help changing them, you can certainly get help keeping them in stock. Request an Amazon Mom diaper subscription to automatically arrive each month (remember to change sizes as needed!), or add a cloth diaper cleaning service to your registry.   

Baby gifts for the Future


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College savings

You can open a college savings account for your child even before he or she is born. While a 529 account does require a named beneficiary with an existing social security number, you can name yourself as a temporary beneficiary and change the beneficiary to your child at any time. Websites such as UGift make it easy to receive gift contributions to a 529 or other college savings account. Simply include your account’s unique gift code on your registry, and friends and family will be able to contribute directly.

Cord blood and placental tissue banking

The day your child is born may be the happiest day of your life. For parents who choose to bank their child’s cord blood, it could also defend them against the worst days as well. Americord is the leader in umbilical cord blood, cord tissue, and placental stem cell banking and yields the lowest costs with the highest quality guarantee. The stem cells found in cord blood can be cryogenically preserved and used later to help treat certain cancers, immune deficiencies, and blood diseases. Adding a cord blood banking fund to your registry is a smart investment in your family’s future.

Daycare fund

The USDA reports that, on average, 30 percent of child expenses incurred during the average child’s first year stem from childcare costs. In fact, if you thought planning for college was important, consider this: According to the Economic Policy Institute, in 33 states and the District of Columbia, infant care costs exceed the average cost of in-state college tuition at public four-year institutions. Consider your family’s budget and childcare options and add a daycare fund to your registry if it makes sense for your finances.
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Americord Registry is a leader in the advancement of umbilical cord blood, cord tissue and placenta tissue banking.

Parent Co. partnered with Americord because we believe in the value of thinking outside the (gift) box.

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Baby gifts to get sentimental


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Online or text message baby journal

You may have high hopes for tracking every milestone and writing down every cute thing your toddler says, but when the bottles stack up in the sink and the sippy cups overflow, you may find that all your best intentions fall by the wayside. A subscription to a baby journal app or even a text message baby journal service can help you to save all the precious moments without the stress. Gift cards for either can usually be purchased on the host’s website and are easy to add to an online gift registry.

Photo book gift certificate or subscription

With the advent of digital photography, it’s easy to fall into the habit of taking lots of photos that quickly disappear onto an old hard drive. Sadly, many photos of your wee one will likely never make it off the screen. By requesting a gift card for a photo book or a photo printing subscription service, you can guarantee that more pictures of all that baby cuteness make it off your phone and into your living room.

Newborn photo shoot

The window for newborn photo shoots is surprisingly fleeting. Most photographers will tell you that if you want those adorable shots of your tiny sweetness sleeping sweetly with his chin resting on his perfectly folded hands, you’ll need to catch him on film before he’s two weeks old. Otherwise, he’s not likely to sleep that soundly again until he’s a teenager, and sorry, but the pictures won’t be nearly as cute by then. Plan ahead by registering for a newborn photo shoot. Get in touch with the photographer a few weeks to a month before your due date to make sure he or she can fit your cutie into the schedule.

Baby gifts to keep it practical


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Files to go

No matter how or when your baby arrives, she’s going to come with a lot of paperwork. There might be discharge notes, immunization records, or tiny footprints to save. There will certainly be a birth certificate and a social security card arriving soon. If you have some crafty friends, register for a homemade file system, complete with labeled hanging folders. You could request folders for keepsakes, immunization records, insurance paperwork, pediatrician visits, receipts, and warranties. Or you could just refer your friends and family to one of the hundreds of Pinterest posts that outline this super functional gift idea.  

Baby book club

When Oprah, gushing over the arrival of George and Amal Clooney’s twins, was asked about her favorite baby gift, the response was no surprise. Baby’s first book club is a great way to quickly gather a collection of favorites to start your child’s library. While it’s true that books might take up space and eventually go unused, great stories will be read again and again, well into childhood. Some can even be passed on to another generation someday. Ask your host to invite guests to bring their favorite child classic with a personal inscription written inside. You could even request books in lieu of cards. Who wants to spend five dollars on a piece of folded cardboard that ends up in the trash anyway?

Hospital care kit

Once baby arrives, your self-care will play second fiddle to the whole mothering thing, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Register for a hospital care kit filled with stuff just for you. Include nipple cream, healthy snacks, a super soft robe that’s easy for skin to skin or nursing, some dry shampoo, a good water bottle, some nice travel sized toiletries, and whatever else you think might help while you’re recovering. There’s a tendency to focus on the baby only when you create your registry, but you’ll be in need of care, too.

How to Register

If you’ve kept up with Emily Post and Miss Manners, you probably know that it’s considered a bit gauche by some to ask for a pile of cash, especially for an occasion such as a baby shower. Luckily, there are other options now.
If you want to request a service, homemade gift, or contributions towards a large item, registries like Babylist allow you to list not only traditional items from any website, but also gifts you can’t buy in stores, like help with the laundry or a home-cooked meal.
You can also use a fundraising site like Plumfund to receive contributions towards a specific high-ticket item, like cord blood banking. Distribute a link to friends and family so that they can contribute directly to your fund, and consider including a short explanation in your shower invitation so that invitees will know why this is an important gift to you and your family’s future.
Baby clutter can add up quickly, but there’s no need for the minimalist parents-to-be to feel overwhelmed or caught in the consumer rush. While there are tons of products out there to make parenting a little easier, many parents will agree that the most important requirements for their little ones aren’t things that can be bought in a store. Consider your family’s future and create a baby registry that truly reflects your values and needs.
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Americord Registry is a leader in the advancement of umbilical cord blood, cord tissue and placenta tissue banking.

Parent Co. partnered with Americord because we believe in the value of thinking outside the (gift) box.

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A Tale of Two Moms: When Best Friends Have Polar Opposite Parenting Styles

In a culture that likes to pit moms against each other simply because of differing choices, our story proves that it doesn’t have to be that way.

You grew up together, were in each other’s weddings, and dreamed about the day that you would raise your children in unison. Then, BOOM. Kids arrive, and it doesn’t take long to realize that, whoa, you and your best friend have very different approaches to this parenting gig.

The odds of her letting her babies “cry it out” are about as high as me co-sleeping with mine, and by that I mean not a chance. That’s not the only thing that makes us very different in terms of parenting. I enforce strict bedtimes, while her kids are catching a 7 p.m. movie at the theater. My little ones eat most meals from a box or the freezer, and hers have palates more developed than most adults.

We’re both teachers. She cries when August rolls around at the thought of leaving her kids to go back to work. Me? I’m itching for “me time” and aching for conversation with someone above the age of five.

Sure, we’re both trying our best to raise happy, respectful, and kind children, but when I’m faced with a grumpy four-year-old whose mood rivals a teenager, I choose to send her to her room for quiet time. My best friend tickles the grouchies away.

She has endless patience while I’m nearing the end of my fraying rope by noon.

 
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I’ll never forget one day when my daughter was having an epic tantrum, and I said to my friend, exasperated, “Ugh, sometimes I just want to scream ‘Shut the f*ck up!’”

Her response was one of shock, her eyes wide with horror. “Jennifer!” she said, appalled.

“Of course I would never actually say that,” I quickly clarified. “But c’mon, you mean to tell me you’ve never thought that before?”

“Never!” she replied.

Then we chuckled about how different our mindsets are.

That’s the thing – it’s not a secret that we’re raising our kids using opposing methodologies. We know that about each other and we respect that about each other. Here’s the key: there’s no judging.

My friend’s children are being raised with religion in the household – praying at meals and before bed, talking about God, and falling on faith to help explain many of the mysteries of the human experience. My husband and I rest pretty low on the spirituality ladder and while we have no problem explaining religious beliefs to our kids, we have no plan to incorporate religion into our family.

“Johnny included you in his bedtime prayer last night,” she recently told me.

“Aww, tell him thanks,” I said, “and I love him.”

We don’t hide things from each other or pretend to be similar in ways that we’re clearly not. With such different approaches to most aspects of parenting, you’d think that it would be difficult to be friends, but the opposite is true. Honesty, empathy, and support go far in maintaining a lasting friendship.

In a culture that likes to pit moms against each other simply because of differing choices, our story proves that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Many of our conversations start with: “I know you think I’m crazy, but…” Sometimes when one of us (usually me) needs to vent about an issue with our child, the other one just listens and does her best to offer advice even if it’s not something that we would do personally.

In the end, it comes down to this: there’s no right way to be a mom. No one hands out gold star stickers to the moms who are doing things “this” way, rather than “that” way.

So, is it possible to be best friends with a mom who has polar opposite parenting styles as me? The answer is yes. She may be the June Cleaver to my Rosanne Barr, but what can I say? It just works.

Discovering Myself Once the Kids Head to School

With the impending approach of September comes the age-old existential dilemma: Who am I?

A new season is fast approaching, and I’m not certain that I’m prepared. Truth be told, I’ve known this day was coming. I’ve contemplated it for months, years even. I’ve dreamed about it. I’ve spent countless hours trying to wrap my head around the fact that my life is about to take a drastic, inevitable turn.
The narrow road I have traveled over the past eight years is suddenly widening and twisting, dotted with signs, dangerous curves ahead. Once the carefree days of summer are over (replete with endless cries of “I’m bored,” multiple interventions, and failed attempts to keep the pantry stocked with snacks), a new chapter begins.
This will be the first year that all three of my kids will be in school full-time. Perhaps this change is heightened by the fact that my youngest two are twins, so I am losing both of my babies at once. Perhaps I’m overestimating the impact this will actually have on my life. Perhaps I’ve created the proverbial mountain out of a molehill. Or, perhaps the feeling that this is a pivotal turning point in my life as a stay at home mom is, in fact, spot on.
Regardless, with the impending approach of September comes the age-old existential dilemma: Who am I?
 
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Over the past eight years, I have enjoyed the joy (and sometimes hair-pulling craziness) of watching my children grow, being a part of each milestone, of every achievement and failure. My world has silently shrunk down to being wholly centered around my children.
As the kids have gotten older and changed, so have I. Everyone tells you how quickly time passes when you have kids, but no one warns you that time is also passing for you. I am not the same person I was eight years and three kids ago. I am no longer the career obsessed, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. office professional that I once was. I would like to believe that that I have been upgraded to someone softer, more nurturing, more patient, more understanding, and more tolerant.
But with that is also a sense that, somewhere along the way, I’ve lost a bit of me. When someone asked me what the best event of this past year was, it was difficult to think of something that was my accomplishment, rather than my kids’. My identity has become entwined with theirs.
Prior to having kids, I never imagined that I would be a stay at home mom. I expected that I would work and mother, balancing it all in perfect harmony. But the loss of my own mother and the birth of my daughter a year later changed my perspective. I opted out of my well-paying job, a decision supported by my husband, and one I have never regretted. But now the world is opening up, my small bubble ready to burst. I must face the reality that life is changing, whether I’m ready for it or not.
It’s difficult to deny this inevitability with the endlessly repeated question from friends, family, and acquaintances: “What are you going to do with all that free time?”
What indeed.
I give the same pat answers I gave when the twins went to part-time kindergarten (and which are all, in fact, true):
“I have dreamed of grocery shopping alone.”
“I’ll enjoy having the house clean for more than five minutes.”
“I will revel in drinking a cup of coffee, blissfully uninterrupted.”
“I’ll volunteer in my kids’ classrooms.”
But now it seems as though these answers are not enough. “Are you going back to work?” quickly follows.
Don’t presume that I haven’t spent hours exploring this very question myself. I miss a lot about working – financial independence, adult interaction, positive reinforcement, accessing now dormant parts of my brain.
There is also the guilt of not working. What will people think? When other parents ask at school drop off what I’m doing for the rest of the day, and I smile and shrug my shoulders, will I be judged? Considered lazy? Will I feel as though I have to justify my existence, my purpose in life? Will I find myself slipping into a depression with all this time alone?
If I do choose to return to work, will I be satisfied in my former career? Have I changed so much that that part of me has become irrelevant? I am also hit with the reality that the school day is three hours shorter than the work day and subsequent calculations of the cost of before and after school care, summer vacation, Christmas break, spring break, sick days, and all those days off in between.
I am approaching a curve in the road, unable to see what lies ahead. So I continue to hold on tight to these last fleeting days of summer, to my life as I know it. I feel an impending sense of loss, but also a tingle of excitement as I look to the future, to exploring the person I want to become – the new version of me – and to writing a new chapter, whatever it may be.
This piece was originally published on Mamalode.
If you’re contemplating the road back to work, our podcast “Where Was I…”  provides a roughly-sketched road map for anyone wishing to return to work after taking a career break to care for their young children. 

I Hope My New Neighbors Like to Drink Wine

We’d been dealt a good neighbor hand. On a quiet gravel road in rural Vermont, this is a huge bonus. Let’s hope their successors are just as awesome.

Like election cycles and diapering and menopause, change happens. It’s how we handle the change that separates the men from the boys, the actual wonder women from the virtual enhancements of wonder women.
Some incipient examples of change in my family ecosystem: My eldest just discovered he’s got a knack for freestyle ninja parkour at camp this week. My youngest has decided to boycott naptime at preschool. My husband just texted to say he put a down payment on a new-used car because our old one started squealing like a stuck pig, smelling bad (alright, worse), and seizing up at inopportune times.
For my part, I’m contemplating the impossible: life without coffee. In its place, “a 100 percent natural caffeine free drink with a coffee-like taste” (and good god they really need a new copy writer because that sounds terrible).
Also, our closest neighbors just moved to Canada, which proves they’re way more transactionally savvy than we are and not at all afraid of a serious mofo change. Their kids were friends with our kids. They both worked, like we do. They liked running and biking, like we do. They could throw a great party, like we have done and may get organized enough to do again someday.
Point being, we’d been dealt a good neighbor hand – a Full House if you want to get nerdy about it. On a quiet gravel road in rural Vermont, this is a huge bonus.
So, the big question of the summer: Who’s moving in?
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Ever since J and D put their house on the market, I’ve been texting for updates, trying to act casual about it: “Such incredible news! So happy for you.” (…) “Any interest yet?”
Meanwhile, the excitable extrovert in me prays daily for a serendipitous windfall that will somehow install another lovely family next door, one with smart, interesting adults – like-minded sociopolitical persuasions a plus – and kids our kids’ ages. They will be funny and fun, charming even, have complimentary parenting philosophies, share a love of live music, great food, the outdoors. Surely, the fates will find a way….
Then came the day J texted the news: “We’re under contract with a family from NYC! They have a boy about Jack’s age who also loves soccer and a daughter Finn’s age entering kindergarten.”
“Are you joking?!” I speed-thumb back.
“No! I think you’ll like them.”
I am instantly giddy with relief. I know almost nothing about these city escapists, and yet my brain has already fully rendered them as dear friends who we’ll be happy to see casually wandering up our driveway for impromptu brunches and bonfires, and who won’t mind if our boys bushwhack a trail between properties.
We’ll be each other’s emergency contacts for rec league soccer and summer camp. We’ll tag-team when that call comes from the principal with news of a water main break at school. We’ll share easy crockpot recipes and cocktail recipes and dentist recommendations and parenting blunders and be able to say things like, “Give me five, I’ll be right over.”
Beyond the friendship potential, I am eager to hear what they think about this place. We broke ground 12 years ago, and my husband’s family taproot reaches back close to 40. We’re pretty accustomed to life here. There are few big surprises.
We know the land in all its seasons and who’s likely to vote for whom, even if they split the ticket. We know the produce guys at the market who let the kids use the employee bathroom when it just can’t wait. We talk with John at the gas pump about the weather, his grandkids, and how much money they’ve collected for the town fireworks display this year.
It’ll be interesting to watch a family from Manhattan adjust to our town of 4,000. What will stand out to them? What will they notice? What will they find amusing, bizarre, offensive, beautiful? What will make them laugh and what will drive them nuts? What will they call us about or need help with? Are they the kind of people who call and need help? How will they change our experience of living here? How will they surprise us?
In about one week, we’ll find out.
In the meantime, New Neighbors, here’s a list of things I thought you might like to know about your soon-to-be home:
1 | There’s a way to get between your house and our house that is not the road. Requires bug spray, long pants, and a sturdy pair of shoes.
2 | If we don’t come to the door right away, have a seat on the porch or feel free to pass the time on the trampoline. We’re either down in the studio, reading on the toilet, working on the fort, have earbuds in, or we’re out. In the latter case, leave a note. In all other cases, just yell.
3 | My in-laws live off the grid at the end of our driveway. They moved here from Boston when my husband was six. Before that, they lived in Berkeley. Evidence that city transplants never go back.
4 | Get to know the Bells. They make amazing syrup. Also, the Zuckerman-Nevitts, our local organic farmers/awesomely outspoken civil servants. Also, Eugenie and Sam, who grow the most delicious strawberries on Earth.
5 | Ticks are a thing here. A serious thing. Make tick checks part of your bedtime routine.
6 | Don’t walk in the woods during hunting season unless you wear fuchsia or neon orange from head to toe. This is also a serious thing.
7 | If you hear something that sounds like mating monkeys in the woods at night, it’s actually barred owls. Coyotes will make a racket at night, too, when the pack has made a kill.
8 | The fireflies are good in June, but best in July. Our front field is a dynamite viewing spot.
9 | If you’re down for an ultra-local camping “excursion,” feel free to use the small clearing at the top of the cliff this side of the property line. Great sunset views from up there. Also, a squatter lived there for a while, so his fire ring might still be intact.
10 | Remind us to show you the way to the hidden meadow.
11 | Your house used to be occupied by animals. Wild ones. Yeah. But J and D completely gutted it and restored – or perhaps invented – its architectural integrity, so you’re in the clear. Nothing to worry about. The pigeons and mourning doves, and the weasels and fisher cats that hunted the pigeons and mourning doves, cleared out long ago, after the former resident (a fantastically eccentric .22-toting lesbian bird enthusiast dairy farmer who used to own much of the property on this road) passed on. I’m fairly certain none of this has anything to do with the slight sulphur smell of your well water.
12 | We tried to change the bus routes so they’d come down our road. No dice. Sorry about that. The other options are either a speedy car drop or a short bike ride away.
13 | We have the most incredible babysitter. Sometimes I think the kids like her better than me, which works in our favor on date nights. We will share her contact info with you…in trade. Negotiations TBD.
14 | If you want to heat with wood, even partially, get green cords delivered in spring. They’ll be cheaper and dry out come fall.
15 | The plow guys are great if you manage to dig your car out before they get to you. Otherwise, they pack a dense, impenetrable block around your vehicle, at which point it makes sense to just call in a snow day.
16 | This reminds me – our friends’ yard is the best sledding hill this side of town. We’ll introduce you.
17 | Vermont isn’t Soho, but it’s got a surprisingly rich cultural scene. Painters. Writers. Musicians. Filmmakers. Photographers. Sculptors. Potters. Woodworkers. Lots of fascinating people making great art. We’ll introduce you.

18 | We like wine a lot. And also beer (current fav brewed across from the post office by an old grad school friend). If not wine or beer, what do you like? Spirits? Bloodies? Mimosas? Spiked mulled cider? A well-crafted Martini or Sidecar? We can make arrangements. Come on over post-BT, a.k.a. anytime after 8:30 p.m.

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Update!
J finally made it to Toronto and connected me with the mom of the new family. We’ve been texting ever since. We’ve also admitted to screening each other on Facebook because, let’s face it, that’s what people do. We discovered that we signed our kids up for the same soccer camp this summer – a clear sign of natural like-mindedness. And she dropped her first f-bomb the other day, so I’m pretty much certain we’ll be friends.
Also, the title of this article was her idea. I’d say we’re off to a good start.