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A friend on Facebook boasted today that she had saved not one, but two marriages this week by pointing out that Sunday is Mother’s Day, and “what we like is brunch and jewelry.”
I beg to differ.
First, dining out with small children is not everyone’s idea of a good time, especially not during one of the most crowded brunch timeslots of the year. I would rather have coffee brought to me in bed, and eat pancakes and fruit prepared by my husband in the lazy state of my own house. That way, I’m not obligated to shower and primp on my “day off”.
Second: Wait? Is this a good platform for me to go on my feminist diatribe about the tradition of men buying women jewelry? It is? Okay, then. More
As the one-time recipient of baby clothes that had been stored since the late sixties, I know that future generations will appreciate my children’s infant jammies for all of five minutes. Then my daughter-in-law will call her best friend — probably using her titanium hair extensions as a phone — and complain that I keep foisting organic cotton on her baby. (And look at my unstylish Gwyneth Paltrow-inspired hair; I’m totally stuck in the 2000s.) More
I love to give and receive used kids clothing. LOVE. I suppose it all started when my son Holden was a newborn and my BFF Whitney brought over a few pajamas that her five-month old had recently outgrown.
When my husband and I were quite sure we were done having children, I passed nearly everything I had on to a twin-boy mama. And then, when we realized that we were in fact having one more son, she brought much of it back to us. (With interest!)
Since that first unexpected sleeper kid showed up, I have triaged and re-gifted hundreds more small garments — each one winding up in a very different destination. More
In the spirit of being budget conscious, we’ve been thinking about things that new moms can do to pool their resources, whether that means money or time. Even better than those savings, is helping out a fellow rookie mom, and letting her know that you’ve got her back. Pay it forward, and your kindness will surely come back to you at some point.
Here are five ways moms can team up: More
The happy memories I maintain of walking around town with my baby in a soft carrier or sleeping in his stroller all take place during mild weather. Fighting cold, rain and wind with a car seat handle hooked around my elbow? I’ve blocked that out.
Freezing temperatures make leaving the house daunting, but if we don’t make at least one outing each day, we can go crazy. Here are four missions for you to assign yourself and your baby, even in the winter months.
1) The mall. Like, omigod, totally! If there is an indoor shopping complex you can get to, head out. I’m not trying to make you spend money, but if you can get to a place where there is a coffee store and a bookstore under one roof, I think you and your little companion can have a good time. Do a few laps with your stroller. Show baby the trinkets in a gift shop, and leave without buying them.
2) Library. Shhhh, right? Not really. Locate the children’s section — follow the sounds to the noisy part of the library — and find a cozy chair. Read a bunch of board books with your baby, and when he nods off, browse the magazines. Check the schedule to see if they have a weekly baby circle time; most libraries do.
3) A friend’s house. Pack up your diaper bag and camp out at a friend’s house for the afternoon. Order in food and catch up on gossip. Facebook is fun, but nothing is more invigorating than face time with your buddies. Know someone who works from home? Offer to bring her lunch. Even better if you’ve got a buddy who is also on maternity leave.
4) Exercise class. If your gym has childcare, then you already know the drill. If you don’t know this thing of which I speak — The Gym — then google for a postpartum yoga class, the kind where it’s expected that you’ll keep your baby next to you. Seriously, even if you don’t care about yoga, it’s a great place to meet other moms, or at least where you know fussy babies are par for the course.
Do you have your own ideas about where you’ll escape to when you need to get out of the house? We’d love to know what they are.
How do you know that your child feels your love? That’s quite a heavy question. Am I not demonstrating all my maternal love by feeding, clothing, diapering, cuddling, and keeping him safe every day? I think so, but let’s break it down a bit further.
For me, showing my three sons I love them means I have to do more than just prepare nutritious meals and purchase organic play clothes. I have to do three important things — every day:
- Smile when I see them. No matter what.
- Say YES to their requests (well, within reason!); and really listen to what they want to do rather than impose my own agenda. (Confession: I often forget this one.)
- Fill the tank and spend some time loving up the child before I try to get my own stuff done (like making all those deliciously nutritious meals!)
For each of my three sons, this looks a little bit different:
For my toddler, Sawyer, it usually means I have to slow down. I need to look at the world from the perspective of a 17-month old. If we’re outside, I admire the leaves and birds. If we’re inside, I play with a toy car or read a book over and over. I find joy in the little things that light up his face. If I’m lucky, he might reward me by running into my arms with a huge slobbery grin.
For my kindergartner, Milo, love looks like building LEGO structures and doing crafts together. He loves making art without any direction or goal in mind. One of us will choose the materials and then see what happens. He craves unstructured playtime and I do my best to schedule it as often as I can. Ironic, I know.
For my second grader, Holden, showing each other affection takes the form of a challenging board game. He’s a very skilled chess player (I am not!) but almost any strategy game will do as long as we’re both trying to win.
How do you show your love to your child?
Question: What’s a free and easy-to-use organizing tool that makes family life easier and works on both your home computer and your smartphone?
Answer: Okay, so there may be a lot of things that fit that bill these days, but the one I’ve found most useful on a day-to-day basis is Google Calendar — probably because it didn’t require me or my husband to adopt any new habits. As anyone who has tried to implement a new productivity tool can attest, it doesn’t work unless it taps into systems you are already using.
I stumbled upon a wonderful article by Brene Brown, which inspired my biggest New Years’ parenting resolution: Smile each time I first see my child.
Rather than feel nit-picked, I want my sons to feel how much I love them before I give any looks of “Your shirt is tucked into your undies, again”, “Why are you under that table?” or “Get those keys out of your mouth.”
One of Oprah’s greatest lessons in the ’90s was that everybody just wants to be appreciated or validated. She had an aha! moment in 2000 when Toni Morrison, author of The Bluest Eye, was on the show asking, “Does your face light up [when you see children]?” because that allows your face to speak how your heart feels.
Ms. Morrison’s advice is simple but deep. And Ms. Brown’s manifesto is also chock-full of encouragement to love your children for exactly who they are.
[Photo by my friend Alex Cave]
As we head into the new year, we’re looking back at the most popular posts from each of our columns from 2012. Our been-there, done-that moms Heather and Whitney have tips for you on topics like birth announcements, DIY Halloween costumes, gear that will last for years, throwing a modern baby shower, starting solids, and more.
10 REALLY Creative Birth Announcements
There are so many lovely, modern stationery companies that will allow you to create gorgeous custom birth announcements in a flash, but we dug a little deeper than Tiny Prints and the others to find the next generation of adorable ideas for announcing your adorable baby.
5 Halloween Costumes to Make from Everyday Baby Clothes
Even if you don’t have the crafty gene, Halloween may inspire you to get your hands dirty with art supplies to make your infant a super adorable and incredibly easy costume. Ok, how about just scissors? A Sharpie? Here are five costumes you can make in under an hour out of an everyday bodysuit.
Gear That Lasts and Lasts
Babies grow so quickly that many of the adorable items we might get at a baby shower are outgrown before the first year is over. But I have a few favorite items that last and last.
4 Ideas for a Modern Baby Shower
One person’s Lilly Pulitzer-themed country club brunch may be another woman’s personal hell. Here are a smattering of baby shower concepts that are unbridled by tradition.
Getting Ready For Solids
Moving beyond breast milk or infant formula toward a full menu of foods is quite a process. Though babies continue to get most of their nutrition and calories from milk or formula for the whole first year, learning to enjoy different tastes and textures is a foundation for a lifetime of eating. No pressure or anything, huh?
The holiday season is filled with joy, big expectations, and major performance anxiety for me. Being surrounded by family in close quarters makes me feel like I’m being watched. According to the year on my birth certificate, I’m a grown up. I’m supposed to know what I’m doing: what to serve for dinner or how to help in someone else’s kitchen; how to handle my child’s sleep needs while traveling; and what traditions are being carried in my newly created family and which are being left behind as memories of generations past. (See ya in the history books, fruitcake.)