Date Nights at Home

Date Nights at HomeFor many of us moms, it’s a big deal to get a date night. I know for me, date night only happens when we go home 6 hours away for a visit. However, it is still vitally important for your marriage or relationship to have date nights. It’s so easy to fall into the roles of “mommy and daddy” and forget you are “wife and husband,” too. Here are some fun ways to still get to have a date night, even when you can’t leave the kids.

Dinner for 2:

This is something I have to try. For me, like many moms, dinner consists of wrestling with my toddler and her food, all the while feeding my infant oatmeal. Somewhere in there, I take a few bites and that’s dinner. Try saving dinner for you and your spouse after the kids are in bed. For us, this would be at 8 p.m. Order in your favorite or opt for take-out. If you are really ambitious, make a meal for your spouse, set the mood with candles, and even put out menus and fancy table decorations. You may be in your dining room, but you can pretend you are in your favorite restaurant. Enjoy the food, conversation, and time alone.

Movie Night:

Pick a movie that you and your spouse want to see. Choose one that isn’t animated or rated G. Pop popcorn and buy some fancy candy that you see at the movie theatre. You can even get cute popcorn tubs and soda glasses to use. Dim the lights and enjoy the show. If you’re lucky, you may even get a few smooches during the movie!

Get Outside:

If it’s warm outside, take the time to take your kids for a stroll. If you just have one child, and it’s a baby, this is even easier. Pop the baby in a carrier and go for a long walk at the park. Most likely, your baby will snooze and you can enjoy the conversation with your spouse. Hold hands, talk about memories, and dream about your future together.

Enjoy Hobbies:

Maybe you and your spouse love sports? Watch your favorite team play and fix nachos and food you can only buy at the ballpark. Wear your team t-shirts and enjoy the game!

If you used to love to go to nightclubs, create a dance party in your living room. Get dressed up and make a fun playlist. Just don’t turn up the music too loud, so you don’t wake up the kids.

If you’re into working out, create a gym in your home and work out together.  Or, you can take advantage of local gyms and work out together while your kids enjoy the child care.

Spring for a Sitter:

If you have a trusted friend, family member, or baby sitter, it is so worth it. Schedule a few hours a month to spend together without the kids. Here the possibilities are endless! Go for a quiet, long drive. Check out a local museum. Go see your favorite band in concert. Eat at a restaurant where high chairs and sippy cups are not the norm. Splurge. It’s worth investing in your relationship.

So, mom, you can still have the romantic date night! I need to remind myself of this. I’m thinking a dinner date with some Chinese take-out is in my near future. What have you done with your spouse to keep the magic alive?  You can always go to bed early, too!

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2 in Northeast Indiana. She loves date nights with her husband, James, but she sure does miss her kids!

Friday, April 24, 2015
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Sunning Your Cloth Diapers

Sunning Your DiapersDaylight savings? Check! Warmer temps? Check! Sunny skies? CHECK! None of these things are necessary elements of diaper sunning success, but doesn’t it just feel like it’s time to open those windows, pull out your clothes pins, and get those cloth diapers in the sun?

Generally, I am a big-bang-little-buck kind of mama, minimal if you will. I’m not against oxygen bleach, chlorine bleach, or other additives, but I am cautious as they may cause wear and tear and void some warranties.

Prevent stains first by never letting them set. Use a disposable or fleece liner to catch most or all of the stain. Hopefully you are able to change poopy diapers as soon as possible, mostly for the sake of your kiddo’s comfort and cleanliness. Quick changes will allow you to address the stain before it sets. Water is also your friend, whether you spray, dunk-and-swish, or rinse.

Enter the sun. Allow it to work for you most by setting out your washed, damp diapers in direct sunlight on a bright, shiny day; Know that even a cloudy, rainy, or cold day will prove effective. If it’s chilly or you can’t leave your diapers outside due to housing rules or safety, lay them out by a sunny window inside. If a stain proves unruly, try adding a squirt of lemon juice to it for another sunning session immediately or when you next have time to sun. You can also try a natural stain stick like buncha farmers to aid the process.

Beware of excessive heat if you live in a climate that reaches excess of 120+ degrees in the sun. Though unlikely, your TPU/PUL waterproof materials and elastic may also experience unneeded wear and tear if you leave your diapers out for hours on end. Speaking of which, don’t forget to bring your diapers in when you’re done! Yes, I’ve been there and done that! Line drying in the sun not only saves energy and adds freshness to your load of laundry, it also serves as a cost-effective, natural, and non-toxic bleaching agent. Enjoy your fresh fluff!

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

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Breastmilk and the TSA

Breastmilk and the TSA

When my youngest was still breastfeeding, I took a trip for work that involved riding in jump seats of commercial airplanes. I had flown with my pump before, which was always interesting, but this was a new challenge: Was I allowed to take my pump (and expressed milk on the way home) in the cockpit with me? The answer turned out to be the same as for any other part of a plane: yes.

Here’s the lowdown on breast pumps, breast milk, and the TSA. Keep in mind these tips only apply if you’re flying domestic; if your plans involve international travel, check out this helpful article.

First, these rules are the same whether your baby is with you or not–you don’t need to have your child with you to take a pump or expressed milk onboard. The TSA allows medically necessary liquids (this includes breast milk, formula, and juice for babies) in excess of 3.4 ounces through security, and it does not have to be in a quart sized ziploc bag. You are allowed to take a freezer pack as well to keep them cool.

However, if you have liquids that fit this category, you will need to let the agent know when you first start the screening process. You will send your belongings through the regular x-ray conveyor belt, and then after you have gathered your gear an agent will escort you to a separate area. They may ask to open your liquids, and then they will do an explosives check which is simple and fairly quick (they run a small square of cloth over the bottles and process the cloth for explosive material).  Plan to be at the airport a little earlier for this.

Keep in mind that you are still subject to the airline rules of one carry-on and one personal item per ticketed passenger, even if you are toting a pump or milk.

If you have your pump with you, you are not obligated to declare it to the screener, but you may want to give them a heads-up. I alarmed a young screener one time with mine. I think he saw an electrical box and tubing on the x-ray screen and assumed I had dastardly plans. He was even more alarmed I think once he found out it was a breast pump and not a bomb.

Finally, if you need to pump en route, some airports now have nursing lounges. I have personally found these to be more common overseas than stateside, but hopefully more and more airports will be on board soon (pun intended).

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two little boys, ages 3 and 6. She’s currently enjoying the expat life in Japan.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
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Diaper Rash Solutions

Diaper Rash SolutionsWhen you have a new baby, there are so many things to learn. You want to be there to take care of every pain and uncomfortable feeling they feel. But with the amount of diaper changes–and let’s face it, giant poos–a baby goes through daily, diaper rash can sometimes be inevitable.

Diaper rashes are usually red, irritated skin that can appear warm to the touch, puffy, and even bumpy.  Here are some easy ways to remedy even the most stubborn diaper rash.

Store Bought Remedies:

  1. CJ’s Butter:  This stuff is amazing. I have used the stick form and spray form on both of my kid’s bums. The best part about this product is it is completely cloth diaper safe. CJ’s Butter comes in a variety of creatively named scents as well as unscented. “Monkey Farts” and “Narwhals and Unicorns” have been my favorites. You simply rub it on baby and wait for the magic to happen.
  2. Balm Baby Diaper Balm: I have recently discovered Balm Baby and I am in love. I have used the Pucker Up lip balm and Glowing Mama scrub. Now, to try the diaper balm! This is also cloth-diaper safe and made of healing herbs and healing oils from Hawaii. It can be used on baby’s bum along with other areas to treat eczema and even cradle cap.
  3. California Baby Diaper Rash Cream: French lavender and organic tea tree are in this cream that can be used on newborns and older babies alike. This cream has soothing and healing powers.

Home Remedies:

  1. Colloidal Oatmeal Application: Allow baby to soak in the tub (if older) or just apply to the skin. Be sure to wash and dry thoroughly.  The oatmeal will soothe the pain and dry the skin.
  2. Make Smart Choices: Stop using wipes with fragrance and alcohol. Consider switching to cloth wipes and water or use a cloth wipe solution that you can make easily at home. Be aware of irritants from laundry detergents and switch to one that works best for your family. I love Charlie’s Soap.
  3. Baking Soda: Allow baby to soak in the baking soda which will soothe and also regulate the pH balance of the affected area.
  4. Calendula Extract: This is from a marigold flower. Find it in an anti-inflammatory water based cream. California Baby also makes a cream with this extract!

Tips for Preventing Diaper Rashes:

  1. Keep baby’s skin dry.
  2. Change diapers frequently and make sure you are laundering your diapers correctly.
  3. Get some air down there!
  4. Use ointments to create a moisture barrier when things start to become irritated.
  5. Pat your baby’s skin instead of rubbing it with wipes.

Whatever you choose to do, just take care of your little one. Diaper rashes aren’t fun, so make sure you get in some extra snuggles and kisses, too.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana. She loves happy babies, and she hates to see her little ones in pain

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Pros and Cons of Bumbo Seats

Pros and Cons of Bumbo SeatsBaby registry “needs” and top ten lists of “best” and “worst” baby gadgets are aplenty. The Bumbo Floor Seat has been on a variety of those lists, so you may wonder what the buzz is about. Is the Bumbo worth it?

Retailing just under $45 with a tray available for purchase at around $12, the Bumbo is arguably the most popular floor seat for kids 4-14 months. Mamas & Papas has the Baby Snug Floor Seat for under $60, including the tray and with extended use up to 3 years. These soft-structure seats offer support and stability for sitting upright once a baby has the strength to hold his or her head stable.

Bumbo International states the seat offers “improved visual field of the environment” and “stabilizes [the] child into slight hip flexation” to allow for comfortable sitting with support. Some of the reasons people love the Bumbo include:

  • Essentially no assembly required—Step 1: Read the directions; Step 2: Enjoy!
  • The tray provides development of fine motor skills and upright play at a younger age.
  • The seat may provide extended use for children with developmental delays or challenges.
  • As placing babies on their backs to sleep, use of infant carseat carriers, and swings/bouncers keep young children with pressure on the backs of their heads, the floor seat can offer relief related to flat head issues.
  • The seat keeps baby upright, possibly helping with reflux.
  • The tray and seat are both easy to clean.
  • The seat is portable and light, ideal for travel as opposed to a high chair.

On the flip side, the floor seat has come under fire for issues of stability and several voluntary recalls. When used properly, the chair offers minimal hazards. Bumbo International worked hard in the last few years to articulate more clearly via social media, clearer warning labels, and general instruction of proper use of their product. Still, parents raise a few concerns about the seat, including:

  • The seat decreases the amount of time an infant may spend on belly, lessening opportunity to strengthen important muscles for development in the back and legs.
  • Babies that arch and twist, or are particularly top heavy are more likely to fall out of the chair.
  • There is some continued misuse of the Bumbo by parents, placing the seat on the counter or uneven surfaces, leaving a child unattended, or not using the seat belt (Either included or offered free of charge stemming from the 2012 voluntary recall.)
  • Chubby babies may not fit so comfortably or may not use the product long enough for it to be a worthy investment, however each family defines that.

We used the Bumbo with our first son until one day, after less than ten minutes of use, his chubby legs started turning bluish. We did not have it for our second son and did not miss it. I often wore my sons instead if there came a time I wanted to situate them in a limited space. If there were times where I really needed to set them down, like to shower, I secured them in another safe space. Some people swear by the Bumbo; others claim their baby never liked it. If you monitor your use, utilize the seat strap, and allow moderate periods of time for use on the floor, the Bumbo can prove to be a great gadget in your parenting closet.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Monday, April 20, 2015
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