Archive for June, 2016

Let’s Stop Mom Shaming

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

mom shamingThere have been so many scary and sad stories in the news lately that revolve around parents and small children. First, the gorilla incident. Then the boy in Florida. Then the mom whose toddlers locked themselves in the car. While news outlets cover these stories, they also focus on the harsh and vocal judgments toward the mothers involved in these tragedies.

I am not writing about what should happen to the parents if they are found to be neglectful. I am not writing about animal rights and protections. We need accountability, sure; we need to protect children and animals, of course. What that looks like is not clear-cut to me. You may be disappointed, say I’m avoiding the difficult conversations that are at the crux of these stories.

Even more, we need to discuss humanity and fragility rather than what style of parent we are or whatever trendy conversation is happening. As others point out parents are in a no-win situation sometimes. Keeping the kid too close is helicoptering with research pointing to after-effects of anxiety and other troublesome symptoms. Putting a leash on the kid is inhumane to some, appropriate to others. A kid getting away for a few moments (or forgotten in a hot car) is, evidently in our society, assumed neglect.

I do not understand what accidents are if they aren’t, you know, accidents? I’d like to think life happens in a way that is purposeful and intentional with every move I make. I do strive toward that to some degree. But there are accidents, mishaps, and off-the-expected-path adventures I take every day. My two preschool-aged kids make sure of that especially with a newborn thrown in. I prefer my parenting not be judged on one moment alone.

I know some argue the severity of a situation matters: Would we dole out more or less judgment if the gorilla were not killed or had the mom jumped in after her child? The details somehow make a difference for others: Was she on the phone? How many kids does she have? I find that the nitpicking doesn’t encompass the complexity of life. Distraction is not necessarily neglect. It is impossible to constantly, accurately assess the safety of situations in every single moment of the day. Accidents happen. It’s ok that accidents happen. We’re human.

Can’t we just be sad that a family had a terrifying experience, deeply grieved that a captive animal was shot to ensure the life of a human? Let us take this opportunity to reevaluate safety protocol and regulations. Perhaps if we feel so strongly about the gorilla’s death we can get as excited about animal rights at large as some seem to be about burning a scarlet red N (neglect?) across this mother’s chest? Must we assume the worst of this woman while touting ourselves as better? I think we often survive, if not thrive, on blaming and pointing out others’ mistakes.

I believe all of us at one time or another (whether we realize it or not) are just a few seconds, even a split second, away from having a story that could or does end in tragedy. Most of these moments aren’t shared in the national headlines. Some of us may not share them even in the quiet dark of our own mind. It’s too painful and we block it out. Maybe that’s why we can’t let this mom off the hook. If she did something malicious or wrong, we are safe because “we” aren’t like that. If she did something human then we might have to realize the fragility of our own lives and how little control we have even when on full alert. If we blame her then we don’t have to think about how we’re just a few particulars away from being her.

I think it’s too easy to blame the parent, the smartphone, and distraction in a fast-paced society. Ok, sure. Sometimes parenting is neglectful, the smartphone a little too addicting, the schedule poorly managed.  I’m not saying we don’t need to have those conversations. But please let’s also have this conversation about our vulnerability as people, too.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 3 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Ju-Ju-Be: Stylish, Practical, and Absolutely Amazing

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 8.21.58 AMEveryone has something they love. For some women, it’s shoes or clothes. For me, it’s always been purses. So when I was looking for a diaper bag, I knew I needed something big, unique, and amazing. I have been through several over the years, but I keep coming back to my Ju-Ju-Be bags. They are worth every penny and have gotten me through trips, toddler meltdowns, and sticky situations with snacks.  Here are some of my favorite products I’ve used from Ju-Ju-Be.

Be Quick: These small bags are perfect for keeping your diapering essentials together. My Be Quick has diapers, wipes, and extra clothes inside for quick changes. I also use a Be Quick for snacks in my purse, because I can’t stand for things to not be organized. In the past, I have used these bags for my mommy needs. It’s easy to pull them out when you just need a small bag to run into a store. The wristlet feature makes it easy to take care of your little ones, too.

Super Be: This bag is my go-to bag for the gym. It’s huge and spacious for all of my needs including shoes, towels, showering items, extra clothes, kid items, and my water bottle. It’s perfect for a weekend travel bag, too. I have this bag in one of the adorable Hello Kitty prints, and I often wish I had about 3 more. It is truly super.

BFF: The BFF is just what it says. As a mom of multiple kids, this bag has become my BFF. It can be used as a messenger bag or backpack. It easily wipes clean and has pockets galore. It features a mommy pocket in the front for your phone, wallet, keys, etc. It’s not too big to use daily, but it holds a ton! The prints are beautiful and the interior is just as impressive. I have this bag in the Platinum Petals print and have gotten multiple compliments on it in the past.

Be Set: I purchased a Be Set on a whim recently, and I am so glad I did. These 3 pieces keep all of my needs organized in my backpack. I have this in the Royal Envy pattern. I use the large set piece for my mommy needs- wallet, lip gloss, hair brush, keys, feminine products, etc. I use the medium set piece for toys in my bag. It is so easy to pull-out in a restaurant when my kids need entertainment. The small set piece is perfect for make-up or just holding my credit cards when I don’t want to carry in more than needed to a store. There are so many uses for these products.

Ju-Ju-Be products are cute, versatile, and something I definitely recommend in investing in. I’m already thinking about getting a new bag for my baby on-the-way!

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana where she loves bags of all shapes and sizes. 

Overcoming Mommy Guilt with the Second Child

Monday, June 27th, 2016

mommy guiltLast August, I was so excited to spend just over a month enjoying every last minute that my older daughter (L) was an only child.  We were going to go downtown and ride the free shuttle bus. Zoo and museum trips were planned.  These last few weeks were going to be awesome, even if she wouldn’t remember them.  I needed these weeks to make peace with the fact that her little world would never be the same, and she no longer would have my undivided attention.

All my plans went out the window when my water broke at 35 weeks and 5 days.  Despite my best efforts to convince myself I was just accidently peeing, my younger daughter (J) was born early the following morning.  While I was overjoyed to meet J and that she was healthy, I had an enormous amount of guilt hanging over my head.

During the following couple of months, I struggled and worked through my guilt while adjusting to being mommy to two.  Here are a few things that helped me to get through this difficult time.

  1. Carving out time solely devoted to my older child: Bedtime routine was the part of each day that I can devote exclusively to L.  On more than one occasion, when she requested five more minutes of cuddles, I gladly gave in, because I needed the extra time just as much as she did.  The more time I could arrange to spend with just L, the less guilt I felt.
  2. Taking time to myself:  While this sounds counterproductive, because there is only so much time during the day, taking a half an hour to walk or run by myself, helped me to reset and improve the quality of time I spent with both my daughters and husband.
  3. Returning to our normal routine as soon as possible: When J was 2 months old, I enrolled L in her weekly mommy-and-me swim lessons and gym class again.  I managed to find times that corresponded with the baby’s naps.  Returning to our routines helped L burn off some of her toddler energy, and, again, carved out some time during the day for one on one time with her.
  4. Prioritizing tasks:  Taking care of my toddler’s emotional needs, establishing breast feeding, taking care of my newborn’s other needs, and keeping us all fed were my priorities early on.  I let everything else slide for a bit.  Doing a few things well (including spending time with L), gave me assurance that I was doing the best I could for my family.



At eight months out, much of my mommy guilt has dissipated with time (and lots of coffee).  My daughters now spend time playing together, and L seems to genuinely enjoy being a big sister.  I look back at the newborn months, and see that while it was tough and adjustment for all of us, L was not harmed or neglected and is still a happy, spirited toddler, and I am incredibly content with our expanded family.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to an energetic, spirited toddler and a happy, easy going baby from Denver, Colorado.  She enjoys running, hiking, and cooking with her two girls.

My Pregnancy: Postpartum Week 6

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

postpartumIt’s the end of the blogging journey for us, six weeks after baby’s birth. We’ve covered those first hesitant weeks of hoping this pregnancy would go all the way to feelings around gender and managing work while symptomatic. I spent time talking about the rough and happy parts of pregnancy and the great anticipation of waiting until baby finally arrives. I spoke to the exhausting challenges of having several children and my journey as a C-section mama, anticipating another cesarean birth. I spoke to the healing of it all, the challenges of breastfeeding, and now here we are.

What would I, as a mom of three, want to impart on a new family? If asked advice, what would I want them to know?

  • Life changes, and with that comes grief. It could be you wanted the natural birth and had an epidural or C-section. Or maybe baby came earlier, much earlier, than expected. Maybe you experience loss in those late nights when you just want sleep. When your friends want to catch dinner and drinks but you can’t stand the thought of leaving your young one or have to find the money for a sitter, this great bundle of joy is also a source of great change and sometimes it hurts. Life abounds around you but give a little space for your losses and don’t feel guilty. Process that pain.
  • Get out! It’s worth the trouble. If you can’t afford a sitter, simply accept when someone offers their time. You can also trade—you watch my kid an hour and I’ll watch yours an hour. Grab coffee with a friend, dinner with your hubby, run a few errands, take a longer shower, or just go for a quiet walk. Make it 20 minutes or 4 hours, whatever you can manage. If you don’t have someone, start investing in a person, a friend, someone else’s babysitter, a church member, or someone else with whom you can build trust. I’m not saying you need to go on three-day vacations, but I truly believe sanity can be found in short bursts of autonomy.
  • You have the opportunity to be more vulnerable than ever before. Sure, you can try to tidy up before someone brings you dinner or you can just let your life be as it is. Accepting help is a form of vulnerability. Or maybe you want to cover your tears when you cry for “no reason.” Don’t try to play strong when in reality you are super hero strength! Who else could manage staying up through the night, changing diapers endlessly, rationed showering, balancing one or more children, feeding non-stop, and all the other ceaseless needs of children while hyped up on a large dose of hormones and, for some, pain meds? Batman move aside!
  • You look great, mama. In all your swollen feet-dirty hair- comfy clothes glory, you are a rock star. How you “look” doesn’t matter, but I know deep down it probably does. So I say embrace the belly, the leaky breasts, and the stain-covered shirts. It’s the season of life you’re living. Live it. When you’re ready, take some walks and pull out something besides yoga gear—I find it lifts my spirits to carve out just a little space to care for myself.
  • Grace, grace, grace. Offer your mother grace when she says not quite the right thing. She’s learning to be a grandma just like you’re learning to be a mom. Same with hubby. Offer yourself grace when you mess up or think you did. It happens. Your worth is not dependent upon doing everything “right,” whatever that even means.
  • Break the rules you set for yourself. Maybe that means having a few disposables on hand when you committed to cloth. Use the co-sleeper, swing, or whatever else you have in your arsenal to let the baby sit while you take your shower or fix a lunch, even if it means baby cries for a minute and you swore you’d never make let your baby cry. A couple of minutes are ok when it brings you some respite to meet the day with renewed strength and patience.  Sit with the feelings of wanting to run away instead of covering them up because you said you really would “enjoy every minute.” It’s hard. Pretending it is not doesn’t help.
  • You got this mama.

Annie is a mom of two boys, ages two and four, and now a newborn gal. She is taking in every moment of every day because, let’s be honest, she’s not getting much sleep. 

Gently Weaning Your Toddler from the Pacifier

Friday, June 24th, 2016

pacifierA quick search brings multiple techniques on weaning: everything from using bitter polish, hot sauce, mutilating the pacifier to decrease the pleasure, to making a child give it up cold turkey. While the pacifer has lots of benefits for a young baby, when it’s time to wean it can bring up many issues. For a gentle parent, finding a way to respectfully and calmly ease the use is a must.

Gentle ways to wean from pacifier use include starting gently, using positive reinforcement, moving slowly and letting them make the decisions of when. Peaceful Parenting had a lovely post on a creative way to gently wean your child from a pacifier:

When young Ben was old enough to understand via conversation with his mother what was happening, she tied his pacifier to a stuffed animal that he could carry with him during the day. This allowed him to use it for comfort as needed, but made it slightly less convenient to walk around with for hours on end at home.

Next, Ben’s mom introduced the idea that the pacifier and animal needed to stay in bed. She and Ben made a ritual of tucking the animal (with pacifier) into bed each morning. If Ben wished to use the pacifier during the day, it would be in bed – where his animal needed to stay for animal’s comfort and snooze time.

Once Ben became accustomed to returning to bed to use the pacifier as needed, his mom untied the pacifier during the day time hours and put it up on a high shelf in the bedroom, retying to his animal at night. If the pacifier was needed during the day, he would ask for it, and they would snuggle into bed during its use. Day time use became less and less frequent, and eventually faded away altogether.

Each evening Ben’s mom continued to tuck him into bed with the animal and asked him, “Do you want your pacifier tonight or would you like to try sleeping without it?” One night the time came when he asked for it, looked at it for a while, and then handed it back to his mom. He then presented her with a question, “If I change my mind, will you get it down for me?” “Yes, of course I will,” his mom replied. But he never asked for it again…It lived on his shelf for many months to come – there just in case he needed it, for the security of knowing it was there should the time come. And Ben’s weaning from this comfort item was complete–without tears, fears, or the introduction of anxiety.


When my son was ready to start having a conversation about his binky use, we calmly spoke about how big kids don’t use a binky through out the day, how it is hard to understand him with it, and asked his feeling about it. We compromised on an only in bed routine. He was only allowed to use the binky in his bed. When that became comfortable, we started removing his binky from him bed with his permission and he only had it at bedtime. During the day he only had his lovey to comfort him, and slowly it became habit to only use that. With lots of encouragement, positive affirmation and allowing him to set the pace we were able to remove the binky from his days with minimal tears and anxiety.

The last thing I wanted to do with my son was create an anxiety ridden power struggle over his pacifier. By giving him time and space to gently give up his binky habit and ease into the next phase of comforting with a lovey, he was able to give it up with no tears and no anxiety. It took my son until a while to give it up, yet he was comfortable with his decision and choices. And that is the most important part to me.

PIa Watzig is a stay at home mom living in Portland, Oregon with three crazy boys.