How to escape swim diaper hell

This post was almost a cry for help. Until another mom took pity on me and showed me the light. (Thanks, Alison!) Now I can do the same for you.

All I can say is that I’m looking forward to next summer when the littlest member of the fam’ is potty trained. Trips involving all things water are sooooo much easier sans diaper. Rather than change a messy kid, I’d prefer taunting him to take a swim potty break. (Trust me, the taunting is necessary. Learn from my poolside potty trials here in this post.)

Maybe I’m the only one in this boat, but I devote my pool time to 3 things: trying to keep little brother from drowning, eating the drippy remains of big brother’s day glo-orange popsicle, and scanning the water for free-floating poop. Because, in my experience, swim diapers suck.

summer should be all fun all the time - without the worry of a swim diaper fail
summer should be all fun all the time – without the worry of a swim diaper fail
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Next summer my little guy will turn 3 and he better be a potty professional by then. If not, he and I are going to have words. Are you listening, kid? Do you like goldfish? Do you like milk? Mommy only guarantees such goodies for potty trained 3-year-olds.

But this summer, we endured the humiliation that is the SWIM DIAPER. By which I mean, there were a couple shut-down-the-baby-pool incidents that I’d love to blame on another child, but you know how it goes.

I’m not exactly sure the purpose of the lowly swim diaper. Except to make pool managers think pool attendees are sanitary members of society. Because these things definitely don’t hold pee. And when water meets poop…Let’s just say it’s an unholy union. Where each party tries to flee from the other one. Usually by running down the leg of the innocent child whose parents have been duped into making him don a swim diaper. (And what, pray tell, are swimpants?)

After two humiliating incidents on the same day, my friend came to the rescue. And loaned me her kid’s Tuga-brand reusable swim diaper.

Editor’s note: This post is not a product push. The manufacturer doesn’t know I exist, so, no, they aren’t paying me to hype this thing. Hashtag I wish.

Since I’m one of those cloth diaper moms, I’ve been down the road of the reusable swim diaper before. From my experience, the only benefit is that you get to keep your hard-earned cash, instead of dolling out precious dollars every other week for another pack of tossable swim nappies. The mess-containment properties are pretty much the same as with the disposable jobbies: na-da. Thus, I was a little skeptical when she suggested I try yet another reusable option.

But I was desperate. And not disappointed. It was, like, praise baby Jesus!

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my little cutie with his cute fluffy bum

That’s why I’m here to tell you to drop everything and find one of these diapers. I don’t actually care if you get this Tuga brand or not, but here’s a link if you’re interested. Hey, maybe you’re lucky and have an Alison in your life who can just loan you one.

Now, as promised, here is my 3-pronged approach to SWIM DIAPER BLISS.

1. Leverage layers.
I use this Tuga thing as a diaper cover. I’m too much of a chicken to let my kid just wear it by itself. Because the humiliating incidents from other swim diapers are still fresh in my mind.

Simply pull the cover up over (CONTAINMENT!!) your swim diaper of choice. Regarding which I vacillate between a disposable one and a regular cloth diaper without inserts. (The inserts water-log and weigh down your little swimmer.) The benefit of the disposable, of course, is you don’t have to cart home a dirty diaper. For extra cuteness, you can cover the cover with your kiddo’s swim suit.

Ladies, the cover idea is BRILLIANT. When you do have to change that mess, you just peel off the cover and change the diaper underneath. You can always rinse the cover with hot water and soap if needed and then get on with the fun.

2. Size up.
My little guy currently wears 2T, yet this loaner model is 4T. This way you can truly use it as a cover (CONTAINMENT!!) per above. Plus, you can get an extra year of wear out of it in case your kid refuses to potty train next summer.

3. Live for elastic.
Check out the picture above again. The key component is ELASTIC EVERYWHERE. Increasing the odds that nothing’s getting past this thing. My kid has “road tested” my cover-over-swim-diaper cocktail 4x now. And I’m pleased to say this combo is where it’s at.

Good luck to you during these final days of summer. And may you experience swim diaper bliss!

Comment below to share your tips for escaping swim diaper hell or on Facebook at MothersRest.

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The secret to date night success

You know how it goes. You haven’t talked to your partner in weeks. Between chores and work and baby stuff and big kid activities and walking the dog and…well, life leaves little room for connection.

Bring on DATE NIGHT.

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anything goes for date night, even some super hot disco

And everyone knows the first rule of date night: Don’t talk about the kids!

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You can talk about the trash truck schedule for the upcoming holiday week. But, under no circumstances, should you mention the (shhhhh) children.

This makes sense. The reason you’re on the date in the first place is because those pesky, lovable little creatures have disrupted quality coupling couple time. You’re out on the town with your beloved to reminisce about the good ole days.

So here’s a fun drinking game for you to play on your next date. Every time someone mentions “Bobby’s” name, you both have to take a shot of tequila. (For legal reasons, I must now state that I only condone such activity if there’s an uber driver involved in your evening festivities or you’re doing one of those staycation date nights where you sneak off to the dining room after the kids go to bed and eat PFChang’s on the wedding china.)

Let’s recap now, shall we?

YOU MUST NOT TALK ABOUT THE KIDS. PRETEND YOU DO NOT HAVE KIDS. ACT LIKE THE KIDS BELONG TO THE NEIGHBOR.

That’s the rule, right?

NOOOOOOOOO, don’t give in to this myth. Go with your heart and TALK ABOUT THE KIDS AS MUCH AS YOU WANT.

What the what?!

I know, I know. Your best friend only offered to babysit for free tonight (bless her) if you promised you’d stick to any topic but (oh, the horror) the children.

Well, here’s the dealio. Assuming your kids are important to you both, let’s all get on with it and stop censoring ourselves. If you want to talk about the kids, then talk about the kids.

In fact, I love this quote from John Gottman, the famous marriage and relationship expert, from his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work:

Many well-meaning experts recommend that you consider marriage and family a balancing act, as if your lives are a seesaw with the baby on one end and your marriage on the other. Couples are counseled to spend some time away from the baby and focus on their marriage and outside interests: talk about your relationship, your job, her job, the weather, anything but the baby at home. But marriage and family are not diametrically opposed. Rather, they are of one cloth.

Yes, the couple should spend time away from the baby occasionally. But if they are making this transition well together, they will find that they can’t stop talking about the baby, nor do they want to. They might not even get through that first meal without calling home – at least twice.

Too often, such couples are made to feel as if they have done something wrong because they have made their own relationship seemingly secondary to their new roles as parents. The result is that they feel all the more stressed and confused. But in fact, they have done something very right. The important thing here is that they are in it together. To the extent that both husband and wife make this philosophical shift, the parent-child relationship and the marriage thrive.

Can’t say it better than that guy.

And now you definitely need to hire an uber driver for your next night of disco fun. Gonna be a whole lot of tequila shots going on. Cheers!

Share your comments below or on Facebook at MothersRest.

Never move a nursing mother

Trigger warning: This post contains sad puppies. And then a happy ending.

The fun story about the boob-turned-squirt-gun nursing mom got me thinking.

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When I was growing up, we were always surrounded by dachshund puppies. As in our house was an upscale puppy mill. Because my dad thought we should experience the miracle of dog birth. Which is, frankly, gross. Puppies are born inside individual sacks which the mother eats. That’s a little much for middle schoolers to swallow. But, y’all, dachshund puppies are the dang cutest ever.

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me (11 months) with Skoshi (4 months) – because having one baby in the house was too easy.

The thing with puppies is that the sole purpose of the momma is to spend the day lying around. So the little sweeties can nurse. Especially because puppies start out with eyes wide shut. They find mom by instinct and while away the hours munching, sleeping, peeing, chewing. You know, pretty much like people babies.

One summer after a litter of cuteness was born, we headed off on our annual trek down I-81 to spend a month at “the lake.” (Sounds fancy, right? Lake vacation…Think more like: double-wide. It was the late 80’s, McMansions hadn’t infiltrated the heartland of Virginia yet.) My parents loaded all of us up, including momma dog, daddy dog and 5 wriggling newborn wieners. By the time we arrived at the lake, all hell had broken loose.

(Activate trigger warning here. But I promise it gets better!!!)

Riding for hours (for FOUR hours to be exact) in the car was not what this nursing dog mom had in mind. My dad, you see, liked to go off-roading through the mountains. That often led to car-vomit sessions among us kids. And it definitely threw momma dog off her game. Her game being to laze around calmly to indulge her wean ones. Unfortunately, she refused to settle. Which meant the puppies couldn’t nurse. Which meant the puppies were, um, starving.

(Here’s the HAPPY part!)

My mom, who solves all things, having been a nursing mom 3x times herself, immediately took action. And hauled the whole kit and caboodle to the emergency vet. Who managed to save the day by educating everyone on how to create the optimal canine nursing environment. This, long story short, revolves around one rule:

NEVER MOVE A NURSING MOTHER.

Now, years later, having myself breastfed two boys for 13 months each, I totally get this rule. It absolutely applies to people moms, too.

Nursing, especially for new mothers, is incredibly stressful. You’re all, like, why won’t this nursing thing work? Why does this nursing thing hurt? What if baby bites me? How do I know baby’s getting enough to eat? How do I deal with cracked nipples? How do I deal with mastitis? What is mastitis?

Nursing people moms, like nursing dog moms, need calm.

Here are my tips for creating your own optimal nursing environment. (Listen up, #RockStarDad!)

1. Never move a nursing mother. Once mom is settled with baby, leave her be. Even if she decides to nurse topless in public where all those peeping tom “distracted husbands” can see her. (Seriously, people, baby’s head is basically the same size as the titillating boob, so how much can you actually see?)

2. Wear a mom diaper. While I have friends who claim to have carried nursing baby suspended upon nursing pillow to the bathroom and peed, this just seems like a recipe for disaster. What if you trip?! And sometimes those nursing sessions are interminable, like 1.5 hours. Baby snacks, baby dozes, mom wakes baby, baby snacks, baby dozes, mom wakes baby. Repeat. Then mom has to pee.

3. Create a luxurious spa-inspired nursing station. Claim a designated area of the house with minimal decor distractions to keep baby focused on getting the job done as soon as possible (see #2 above: because you have to pee.) My first little guy liked to gaze at the quilts my great grandmother made, so all colorful trinkets were, henceforth, banished.

Outfit your cozy nest with lots of supplies.
— Rocking chair with foot rest. You can get one of those fancy rocker glider, matching sets. Or just go with the old school wooden rocker and prop your feet up on a random box.
— Blanket and mom pillow in case you and baby reach that nirvana state of the post-nurse nap.
— Side table stocked with essentials: finger foods, water, books, burp cloths, nursing pillow, 3 or 4 nipple shields (if needed – saving grace in my opinion!)

Other considerations: How much of a tech-addict are you? You might want access to the digital (or non-baby) world via TV, tablet or smartphone. I’m a Luddite and only kept the phone nearby in case of emergency, preferring to sing or chat endlessly (or nap) while baby nursed. Because I was afraid of Wi-Fi signals. (And now you hate me for giving you something else to worry about.)

4. Ban distracting people. If possible, send big brother out of the room to watch cartoons or eat chocolate – whatever enticements you need to keep him away. Or perhaps grandma can entertain him. Because little sis has a hard time choosing boob when her delightful sib is around.

And while you’re at it, keep extraneous adults away, too. If you’ve got amazing friends stopping by to drop off food (amazing friends!!), leave the front door unlocked and text them that your house is now robber-ready. The risk is so worth it because you and baby might actually fall asleep. Gotta guard that with your life.

What are your tips for low-stress #NursingZen? Comment below or share on Facebook at MothersRest.

10 ways to use a fleece blanket

I love me a fleece blanket. Shall I count the ways?

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1. As a blanket (duh).

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this absolutely hideous deer-inspired blanket that the 3-year-old loves will also appeal to his 10-year-old self

2. As your BFF in the middle of the night when dealing with your kid’s wet bed. Throw that baby down on the wet spot and toss the sleepy kid right on top. Wrestle with the sheets in the morning.

3. As a swim suit car-seat saver. Thus solving the old pool trip conundrum: do I change the kid’s clothes at the pool or drive everyone home all wet to deal with when we get home? Just lay the blanket between the kid and car seat. Works for mommas, too.

4. As a picnic blanket.

5. As a changing pad. As in you can change the baby’s diaper in your trunk or on the ground or on a random picnic table or on one of those (gag me) public restroom changing tables.

6. As a crib railing bite-guard. Why pay for a fancy plastic one when you can make your own in 15 minutes? Grab a pair of scissors and prepare to get all Pinterest-y. Check out the pattern below: the length of the finished product should be slightly longer than your crib (probably 54″), with the ties about 6″ across so you can tie it on between each rail.

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basic pattern for your no-sew, fleece bite-guard: be careful not to cut off any of the ties!

7. As a vomit protector. Similar to number 3 above. Kid throws up in car and you still have 3 hours to go (true story). Clean things up as best you can. Buy one of those vanilla car air fresheners. Then place blanket between kid and vomit-ladened car seat and carry on.

8. As a wall hanging. If you like my deer blanket, feel free to get your own and create an outdoorsy theme in your kid’s room. (Or in hubby’s man cave.)

9. As a toy. Drape it across 2 chairs and you’ve got a fort. Throw it over your toddler’s head and you’ve got peek-a-boo. Wave it like a matador at the dog and you’ve got creative play. Pin it to your kid’s shirt and you’ve got a super hero.

10. As a black-out curtain in the car. No sleeping babe’s beauty sleep should be disturbed by pesky lights during your 6-hour night trip. Simply hang the blanket over baby’s car seat by suspending it from one head rest to the other – this will allow air to circulate, while keeping out street lamps and hellishly BRIGHT car lights. Sleeping babe means driving sanity for momma! (Have you noticed a theme here? You should keep a fleece blanket in your car….)

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(the ugly deer head really gets around)

I could go on: fleece as cloth diaper liners, as momma cloth, as tissues, as party tablecloth, as napkins, as actual black-out curtains…

But I’d rather hear from you now.

Comment below with your own #FleeceTips or on Facebook at MothersRest.

FLOTUS for POTUS or, well, anything

Four score and seven years from now may generations of Americans learn this speech by heart.

For this blog post, whether it’s political or not, I bring you Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

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I’m raising boys. This may be an easier job than raising girls. So many contradictory messages out there in the ether for girls to absorb. I know because I have fought and wrestled with many of these: Wear this, don’t wear that. Submit to your husband, stand up for yourself. Sex is beautiful, good girls are chaste. Pursue a career, stay home with your kids. Be a leader, don’t be bossy. I could go on.

But I’ll probably discover it’s just as complicated out there for boys.

And so, I bring you the words of Mrs. Obama. Because one day, when my boys are curious about who their mother was, and they stumble upon this blog in some forgotten corner of the Internet, I want them to find this post. And say, “Yes, of course our mother would post that.” My deepest prayer is that my boys grow up to be men of integrity and empathy, with a love of and deep respect for women.

Thank you all. Thank you so much. You know, it’s hard to believe that it has been eight years since I first came to this convention to talk with you about why I thought my husband should be President. Remember how I told you about his character and conviction, his decency and his grace -– the traits that we’ve seen every day that he’s served our country in the White House.

I also told you about our daughters –- how they are the heart of our hearts, the center of our world. And during our time in the White House, we’ve had the joy of watching them grow from bubbly little girls into poised young women -– a journey that started soon after we arrived in Washington, when they set off for their first day at their new school.

I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just seven and ten years old, pile into those black SUVs with all those big men with guns. And I saw their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, “What have we done?” See, because at that moment, I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation for who they would become, and how well we managed this experience could truly make or break them.

That is what Barack and I think about every day as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight — how we urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith. How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain that when someone is cruel, or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level -– no, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.

With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. We as parents are their most important role models. And let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as President and First Lady, because we know that our words and actions matter not just to our girls, but to children across this country –- kids who tell us, “I saw you on TV, I wrote a report on you for school.” Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope, and he wondered, “Is my hair like yours?”

And make no mistake about it, this November, when we go to the polls, that is what we’re deciding -– not Democrat or Republican, not left or right. No, this election, and every election, is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives. And I am here tonight because in this election, there is only one person who I trust with that responsibility, only one person who I believe is truly qualified to be President of the United States, and that is our friend, Hillary Clinton.

See, I trust Hillary to lead this country because I’ve seen her lifelong devotion to our nation’s children –- not just her own daughter, who she has raised to perfection but every child who needs a champion: Kids who take the long way to school to avoid the gangs. Kids who wonder how they’ll ever afford college. Kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English but dream of a better life. Kids who look to us to determine who and what they can be.

You see, Hillary has spent decades doing the relentless, thankless work to actually make a difference in their lives advocating for kids with disabilities as a young lawyer. Fighting for children’s health care as First Lady and for quality child care in the Senate. And when she didn’t win the nomination eight years ago, she didn’t get angry or disillusioned. Hillary did not pack up and go home. Because as a true public servant, Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own desires and disappointments. So she proudly stepped up to serve our country once again as Secretary of State, traveling the globe to keep our kids safe.

And look, there were plenty of moments when Hillary could have decided that this work was too hard, that the price of public service was too high, that she was tired of being picked apart for how she looks or how she talks or even how she laughs. But here’s the thing — what I admire most about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure. She never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life.

And when I think about the kind of President that I want for my girls and all our children, that’s what I want. I want someone with the proven strength to persevere. Someone who knows this job and takes it seriously. Someone who understands that the issues a President faces are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters. Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have a thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady, and measured, and well-informed.

I want a President with a record of public service, someone whose life’s work shows our children that we don’t chase fame and fortune for ourselves, we fight to give everyone a chance to succeed and we give back, even when we’re struggling ourselves, because we know that there is always someone worse off, and there but for the grace of God go I.

I want a President who will teach our children that everyone in this country matters –- a President who truly believes in the vision that our founders put forth all those years ago: That we are all created equal, each a beloved part of the great American story. And when crisis hits, we don’t turn against each other -– no, we listen to each other. We lean on each other. Because we are always stronger together.

And I am here tonight because I know that that is the kind of president that Hillary Clinton will be. And that’s why, in this election, I’m with her.

You see, Hillary understands that the President is about one thing and one thing only -– it’s about leaving something better for our kids. That’s how we’ve always moved this country forward –- by all of us coming together on behalf of our children — folks who volunteer to coach that team, to teach that Sunday school class because they know it takes a village. Heroes of every color and creed who wear the uniform and risk their lives to keep passing down those blessings of liberty.

Police officers and protestors in Dallas who all desperately want to keep our children safe. People who lined up in Orlando to donate blood because it could have been their son, their daughter in that club. Leaders like Tim Kaine who show our kids what decency and devotion look like. Leaders like Hillary Clinton, who has the guts and the grace to keep coming back and putting those cracks in that highest and hardest glass ceiling until she finally breaks through, lifting all of us along with her.

That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves and I watch my daughters –- two beautiful, intelligent, black young women –- playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters –- and all our sons and daughters -– now take for granted that a woman can be President of the United States.

So don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this, right now, is the greatest country on earth. And as my daughters prepare to set out into the world, I want a leader who is worthy of that truth, a leader who is worthy of my girls’ promise and all our kids’ promise, a leader who will be guided every day by the love and hope and impossibly big dreams that we all have for our children.

So in this election, we cannot sit back and hope that everything works out for the best. We cannot afford to be tired, or frustrated, or cynical. No, hear me — between now and November, we need to do what we did eight years ago and four years ago: We need to knock on every door. We need to get out every vote. We need to pour every last ounce of our passion and our strength and our love for this country into electing Hillary Clinton as President of the United States of America.

Let’s get to work. Thank you all, and God bless.

Feeling like Mommy Dearest: why you need REM sleep

Mommy Dearest needs a little REM. No shiny, happy people here.

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Faye Dunaway in MOMMIE DEAREST, directed by Frank Perry – a movie I’ve never seen and will never see (because the photos online are scary enough)

It took me 8 months to begin to get a grip on the crazy I’d become after baby #1 arrived. I’m not talking postpartum depression. I’m just talking NORMAL, sleep deprived ick that goes way beyond Mommy Brain, the other gift that sleep deprivation brings new moms. (I explain the science behind Mommy Brain in this earlier post.)

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As a first time mom, I experienced a high level of anxiety. Then I wandered into the dark world of Mommy Dearest. Suddenly, I found myself in a place of rage. Too strong a word? Perhaps. How quickly lack of sleep took its toll.

I’m thinking a couple of you out there can relate.

Sleep deprivation. How about a science lesson?

Lack of sleep puts your brain in a state of flight or fight. You constantly scan the horizon for the next threat so you can flee from it or fight it. Mommy Dearest is really good at the fight it part.

You are here to protect baby, and that’s pretty much all you can do when you’re running on, like, 4 hours of sleep. You can’t care for yourself. And you can’t see the beauty around you (beyond the sweet babe on your lap).

In fact, I’m willing to bet your partner has been throwing 50 million amazing gifts your way. But you can’t see them. Your tunnel-vision purpose right now is all about baby. And heading into battle to attack, well, most anything (good or bad) that stands in your way. This may even involve screaming, for no reason, at the kind-hearted #RockStarDad who just made you breakfast in bed for the third time this week.

Mommy Dearest isn’t exactly top of the charts for love songs.

You need a little REM:

Everyone around, love them, love them
Put it in your hands, take it, take it
There’s no time to cry, happy, happy
Put it in your heart where tomorrow shines

I’ll share tips in another post to help you get there.

In the meantime, let me explain what lovely things your sleep-deprived brain is doing. Keep in mind, THIS IS NOT YOU. You, operating under optimal 7-9 hours of sleep, are better than this. You can find YOU again.

Good sleep requires two things: deep sleep (also known as SWS – slow wave sleep) and Rapid Eye Movement (REM).

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Basically, when you’ve got your sleep groove on: it’s 20-minutes of REM, then 3-4 hours of deep sleep, followed by more REM. Til it’s time to wake up.

So let’s talk REM. Like I mentioned earlier, see Mommy Brain Explained for more on deep sleep (SWS).

You know when you wake up to pee in the middle of the night? (Prego ladies, can I get an amen?) You can thank REM for that – it’s a dream state you wake easily from.

REM is pretty amazing. It makes us creative, problem solvers and helps us CONTROL EMOTIONS.

(Um, ain’t no emotion control where Mommy Dearest reigns. Woke up on the wrong side of the bed like Oscar the Grouch? Batten down the hatches, Mommy Dearest has arrived!)

The major REM sleep starts around 4am-ish. It’s when you dream big. Dreaming is how your brain takes everything you experienced that day and connects it to all the other things you’ve ever done in life. This makes you a kickass member of the creative class: your brain spent the wee hours of the morning making these nice connections so you can see all the POSSIBILITIES! The answer is right at your fingertips. You can solve Euclidean geometry (no, I don’t know what that is. I’m in Marketing.)

Also, this super hero power makes you really happy. You get into a LOOP OF POSITIVITY. You can solve all things = which makes you super awesome happy = and when you’re super awesome happy, you can solve all things.

But lack of REM…not so much. And when baby wakes up to eat at 4am and then again at 5:30am and then again at 6:45am? Well, let’s just say REM canceled their latest concert after you bought a ticket for 100 bucks. Major suck-fest.

So the part of your brain that lives to control emotions and problem-solve shuts down. (The pre-frontal cortex, if you want to Geek out a bit.) When you get less sleep, something’s got to give. And this is it. Suddenly, it’s all about survival, baby. Your brain is now whacked.

GUT REACTION rules the day. As in flight or, more likely, fight. Your brain is primed with adrenaline and stress hormones. You are on HIGH ALERT so you can fight: The dog wants breakfast. Yesterday’s dishes are still in the sink. The laundry pile keeps getting bigger. There’s 3 days worth of junk mail on the counter. Baby daddy comes home from work 5 minutes late (again). It’s all game.

Sure, adrenaline is great if you’re staring down a bear on a hike. Not so good when trying to make a house a home. Mommy Dearest tends to put a little damper on love.

But, ladies, it’s your brain STARVING from sleep deprivation. We should start a campaign: KILL SLEEP DEPRIVATION, NOT YOUR SPOUSE.

I promise I’ll have tips for you soon to get life back under control (as in, under emotion control). Until then, give your loved ones a HUG. Even though you probably don’t want to.

Share your #MommyDearest stories below or on Facebook at MothersRest.

We have toddlers. And no TV.

We’re one of those weird families.

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The other day, my oldest said: “Mommy, I know how to turn on the TV. Do you want me to show you how?”

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photo credit: Sven Scheuermeirer on Unsplash.com

In other words, yes, we have a TV, but no, mommy doesn’t ever turn it on. Because maybe mommy doesn’t know how to.

There’s truth to that. We actually have Amazon Prime and Netflix. So we do watch stuff. Like Jessica Jones (love her) And, um, the GILMORE GIRLS…!

Years ago when #RockStarDad left town to take the bar exam, he wrote detailed instructions on how to turn on the TV. Did I mention I married an English major? This means the instructions were too detailed for my bullet-points-only-please mind. I had to call him during the break in the middle of his freaking exam to walk me through the steps.

Several years later, technology advances, my mom (who can’t live without college football and the Redskins) gives us a super complicated, Internet-ready TV. I’m totally screwed at this point.

So I just don’t bother turning the TV on. We’re over-scheduled anyway. The weekends mean the pool, church, herding children away from the oh-so-sandy sandbox, and stomping on ants. During the week, there’s the morning mad-rush to get everyone up and out the door for work. In the evenings, it’s dinner/play/read/bed by 7pm. I’m not sure where TV would fit. We’d literally have to trade something out.

I’m not a luddite (maybe). I use a smart phone and tablet, write a blog and over-do-it on social media. Also, I don’t actually care if your 2 year old has her own iPad. But, since I sometimes write about sleep, I do suggest you arm wrestle her for it every night, so she doesn’t head to bed with it. Even if it’s off, it can disrupt her sleep. Today’s gadgets and TVs and cell phones have all these glowing lights and emit WiFi and blah blah blah technology stuff I don’t understand. Basically, they don’t create the best sleep environment.

And while I’m at it, I should remind us ladies to dock our own blinking, electronic crack elsewhere, too. Because less texting = more sleeping.

I’m not an idiot. I know TV time is coming. My oldest loves to sing Paw Patrol songs (thanks, kids at daycare). Even though he’s never seen the show. For a while, I actually thought Paw Patrol was one of those stories he likes to make up, something about a dog and a firehouse…?

I’m raising boys. That means video gaming is in my future, too. And fights over how long they can be online after dinner instead of doing homework. And why can’t they get an Internet-enabled tattoo (is that a thing yet?)

My grand plan is “no TV til 2.” That’s what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. And since I don’t know how to turn on the TV anyway, I figured I’d give this experiment a try.

Besides, we moms are supposed to be terrified of the following TV-induced evils.

And here are my thoughts on how to combat each one.

Lower verbal IQ.
To fight lower verbal IQ, you should, um, occasionally talk to your kid.

Aggression.
The research people suggest that you watch TV with the little sweetness. So you can explain how while Batman can get away with KUR-POWING bad guys, this shouldn’t be big brother’s go-to method whenever baby brother looks at him weird. (Also, have these researchers ever met a 3-year-old? These creatures seem to come in only two flavors: whiny and aggressive.)

Childhood obesity.
How about guarding against childhood obesity by making sure your little lovely only eats organic, gluten-free doritos when watching her favorite shows? Or bribing her (with organic, gluten-free doritos) to run laps during the commercial breaks? (For all you DVR-raised, millennial moms, please refer to the Super Bowl to discover the lost beauty of the commercial break.)

The nature deficit.
You can overcome the nature deficit by simply placing the kid and TV on your back deck. Let her bask amongst the sun’s rays and mosquitoes, while watching The Lorax for the 20th time.

A couple years ago, my brother-in-law declared:

Oh, I get it. Why you don’t let the boys watch TV. Terrorists.

At the time, that was funny. Now, well, he’s got a point.

When my oldest finally got to the magic media age of 2, little brother was only 4 months old, which meant the “no TV til 2” challenge was still in play. Well, little brother will be 2 next month, and big brother is really interested in joining the culture wars at school. Lots of which revolve around TV-ish things: Elsa and Olaf, Dory, Daniel Tiger.

So, dear reader, I’m reaching out to you. To learn how you manage TV time in your household. Teach me your ways. How do you instill good TV habits in your kid’s life?

Thanks.

Signed,
Clueless, luddite (sancti)mommy

Comment below or share your #ToddlerTV tips on Facebook at MothersRest.

POST POSTMORTEM
Thanks for the amazing response for good tot programming. Most of these shows can be found on YouTube, Amazon Prime or Netflix. Keep the suggestions coming!

Debbie Doo — Mickey Mouse Clubhouse — Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (LOTS of recommendations for this one for teaching kids empathy and social skills) — Little Einsteins — Peppa (one mom reported this one potty trained her daughter) — Maisy Mouse — Curious George — Fireman Sam — Autonauts — Dinotrux — Caillou (this one got mixed reviews from moms) — Tumble Leaf — UmiZoomi (teaches math skills!) — Dinosaur Train — Sesame Street (ah, the classic!) — Mr. Roger’s (another classic!!) — Paw Patrol — Wallykazzam — Super Why (one mom reported this one straight up taught her son to read) — Wild Kratts

Swimming sans tampon – and other weird things to try

Thumb sucking – it’s the latest hiccup cure.

This will make you really popular with the gentlemen (or other ladies, if that’s how you swing.)

Babies get hiccups a lot.

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You know how it goes. If baby gets ‘em once, he gets ‘em, like, five times. Not that he cares. It’s just another weird day in this weird new world to him.

And the hiccups are tricky little devils. You think baby’s finally cured and twenty minutes later, his little body starts rocking again. The worst is when you finally get him down to sleep. Damn, those hiccups!

And so, ladies, bring on the boob. It’s the only way to shut that racket down.

Seriously, a little boob sucking and the hiccups are g-o-n-e gone. (Never mind that nursing might have invited the hiccups in the first place.)

This is one of those life lessons from nursing two kids.

Now how to apply this to your own life?

When I get the hiccups, I start sucking on my thumb like mad. Weird, right? So I only do this in private. Because a 40-year-old, thumb-sucking woman goes one of two ways: that’s really hot or so, so not.

When hubby gets the hiccups, he spends 30 minutes holding his breath, drinking water from a cup upside down, holding his nose while doing jumping jacks…

After a while, I take pity on him and remind him to get nursing. By which I mean, suck his thumb. He doesn’t buy it. If you think a 40-year-old, thumb-sucking woman is odd, well, wait til you see a 40-year-old, thumb-sucking man (with long, graying hair).

Plus, this trick never works for him. He has NO FAITH. So he fails.

You must believe, dear one, and suck like it’s going out of style. SUCK HARD, none of this wimpy shit. Ever seen a baby nurse? That kid is not fooling around!

Perhaps the socially appropriate route to take is the suck bourbon, I mean, air through a straw trick. I’ve never bothered with it though. Because, y’all, thumb sucking works.

Here’s another trick I learned from caring for very small people.

How to burp like a (lady) champ.

Gas – it’s the newborn’s nemesis. We all know what to do, right? Start pumping those little baby legs. Push em’ up, push em’ up, wayyyyy up!

One foot, then the other foot. And repeat. Now you’ve got that kid riding a bike without training wheels. Look at her go!

Sometimes even we ladies get (she says in a still small voice) gas. You’ve got a couple choices. You can pop some tums, or down a carton of sugary, caffeinated cold beverages. Or you can do some squats, newborn-style.

Seriously, curl up in a fetal position and then extend your legs, one at a time. And repeat. Now roll onto your back and pull your legs up to your chest. Wrap your sweet arms around those legs and give yourself a little squeeze. Now extend your legs and then give yourself another leg hug.

Feel better yet? At least you can check yoga off your “to-do” list for the day.

And here’s one final weird thing to try.

Ditch the tampon the next time you go swimming.

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photo credit: Angelina Litvin from Unsplash.com

I can’t guarantee this will work. So you should definitely try it in the privacy of your very own bathtub before you debut this trick at the latest fraternity-hosted pool party. Girls gone wild meets Stephen King’s Carrie would probably kick you off the “hook-up” list for the night.

When Aunt Flo comes to call during beach week, skip the protection and simply wet your bathing suit before you put it on. Flo will take a break. You can swim for hours with nary a care, as long as you KEEP YOUR SUIT WET DOWN THERE.

Your schedule should look like this: wet suit, put on suit, saunter down to shore, flirt with natives, jump in waves, relax on shore with a good book, jump in waves, play beach volleyball, jump in waves…And oh, yeah, don’t forget sunscreen.

I don’t know why this works or how I discovered it. It sounds like one of those things girls whisper to one another at summer camp. Must be some prehistoric evolutionary thing so we don’t contaminate the drinking and cooking water supply when we bathe upstream.

Things to consider.

1. Seventeen magazine, the expert on all things when I was 12, says this is a myth: “Your period doesn’t slow down or stop in water — it just may not flow outside the vagina because of the counter pressure of the water,” says Dr. Nucatola, Senior Director, Medical Services at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

2. You probably shouldn’t try this when Aunt Flo has brought along reinforcements, like her nieces and nephews and the uncle from down the street. This is best practiced when she’s “light” in the baggage area.

3. Wear a black suit. You know, just in case.

Anyway, it’s worth trying. In your bathtub first…

If I haven’t weirded you out too much, let me know what worked. Comment below or share your own #WeirdTricks on Facebook at MothersRest.

POST POSTMORTEM
I asked a few girlfriends to read this post, and here’s their unedited, honest feedback.

The blog is refreshing and not the normal cute stories about your kids and everything’s so great! I like it!!

Hey! Thanks for sending this along. I might take out the tampon thing. Maybe replace it with a recommendation for a reusable cup like Diva or Thinx? Haven’t used them but have heard some good reviews.

I’m not weirded out at all! The gas/yoga thing is so true! The yoga pose is called “wind removing pose.” Ha! I’m sure there is some fancy Sanskrit term, but that’s what I’ve heard it translated to. And it WORKS! Plus, I’m totally intrigued by the whole no tampon/wet bathing suit thing! You might get some backlash if it doesn’t work, embarrassing moments shared on your blog, but it’s worth a test run in the tub! These are the things women need to share even if some are uncomfortable with them, it will make you think and maybe venture out of one’s comfort zone a bit??!! And I’m totally trying the hiccup cure next time I get them.

Interesting. And I don’t think it’s too weird, but I’m probably not the best judge of what is too weird. (I made momma cloth and used it when my period came back and just threw them in the wash with the diapers.) The first 2 suggestions had me thinking that maybe you had made it up just to see if you could get people to try sucking their thumbs and rolling around on their backs. When I got to the 3rd, I decided that would just be mean to make that one up. But I still don’t think I am brave enough to try that one. Or I’m too afraid of sharks!

To be honest – you had me laughing in the middle “gas” subject, but weirded out with the beginning and end. Maybe it’s being in a house of all boys, but I’m learning just how much the topic of flatulance makes these boys laugh. Hell, you say “tooted” around my reserved father and you’ll get a smile out of him! And don’t get me started on poop. I talk about bowel movements more in the past 4+ years, and think nothing about it. It’s a scary path we’re on being outnumbered females!

It’s definitely weird, but not uncomfortably so. It’s more like sharing conspiratorial secrets. But be prepared for comments. And I surely want to read them too. I’m intrigued by the swimsuit thing. What!?! I laughed aloud several times so relatively successful in my book. I’m pretty open when it comes to humor. It’s all fair game so long as it doesn’t belittle or ridicule a particular group. Unless you’re making stupid choices, then you’re fair game too. I ❤️ your blog because it’s (you’re) at the same point in life that I am.

And one friend’s husband wrote: “Wow, that is informational! I won’t wear a tampon to the pool this weekend!”

Working mother hacks

So you had a fabulous maternity leave. Because you followed my advice and created a maternity leave manifesto.

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Well, sleep deprivation may just win the battle when you return to work. All those amazing naps you got (what naps, who am I kidding?) when little sweetness snoozed are about to end with the 9-5 work routine.

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nursing mom “at work” must haves: pump, water bottle and the never-sometimes-always blazer (plus, that ultra sexy, hands-free pumping bustier to wear underneath)

Here are my thoughts on how to circumvent the nightly chores, so you can go to bed early and make up for those lost day naps. (Unless you have an office with a door. Or a cube with a fancy desk that you can cozy up under with a pillow. For 20 minutes. Of course, there’s always your car…)

Let daycare feed your kid.
You won’t see the benefit of this for a while. Your kid needs milk (yours or someone else’s) for now. But solids will be here before you know it. Then the nightly or crack-of-dawn meal prep begins.

I know, I know, you only want the best, most organic and wholesome eats for your little. Believe me, you can find a daycare that serves amazing catered lunches. But really, after you fix a sunbutter sandwich or cook up veggie-infused quinoa or chop and steam apples for the gazillioneth time, you won’t care if daycare feeds your kid Cheetos (or hands out lollipops every time she tinkles in the potty). As long as you don’t have to worry about it.

Already picked out the daycare of your dreams? Only to discover you get to make lunches every. single. day? Don’t worry, you can always SWITCH. (My oldest has been in 3 different centers, my youngest in 2.) Seriously, your kid will survive. You, on the other hand, will experience massive mom guilt, gut-wrenching, sweaty palms, can’t-sleep-at-night anxiety. Just give yourself a week or two to adjust and all will be fine.

Speaking of tinkling in the potty…

Let daycare potty train your kid.
Again, not something you need to worry about quite yet, but the no-diaper days are coming.

I’m a fan of the 3-day potty boot camp, but if it wasn’t for daycare, I’m pretty sure my 3 1/2 year old would still be in diapers. Daycare has this “can’t move up to the preschool class until potty-trained” rule. Also: peer pressure.

Stop washing your pump.
If you’re a formula convert, you can skip this one.

When I went back to work with baby #1, I bought into all the hype. You must clean your pump after every session. In fact, you must buy Medela-approved, specially-formulated wipes to clean your pump with after every session. And by every session, we’re talking at least 2x a day.

Then one of those professional exclusive pumpers told me a secret: simply rinse all the parts in cold water after every session, and don’t bother cleaning with soap til the end of the week. What?! Eew! Um, hell to the yes!

Breast milk is magical. It clears up baby acne. It heals cracked nipples. It arms baby with super hero immunity. So if you rinse and go for a couple days, breast milk’s got your back. But I’m no pediatrician. If this doesn’t sit right with you, well, wash away, sister!

And all those fancy little bottles that Medela tells you to buy for pumping? Take it from another working mom. Just bring in large 8-ounce baby bottles and pump directly into them. Skip the cost – and washing angst – of all those little 5-ounce jobbies.

Oh, and go ahead and beg/borrow/steal an extra pump to keep at work just in case. Obamacare means you get a new pump with each new baby. Trust me, take advantage of this. I can’t tell you how many times I had to truck on home because I forgot one of those eenie weenie teenie little valve things. And keep extra bottles – with lids – at work, too. You never know when you’ll have that amazing 15-ounce pumping session (you’ll be my hero.)

Stop the cloth diaper madness.
If you’re a disposable diaper guru, you can skip this one. Actually, you should keep reading, because this is funny.

For those of you like me, a lover of all things reusable (aka, a dumbass who likes torturing herself with more laundry), here’s my tip: wash on Wednesday – wait 2 days – wash on Saturday – wait 2 days – wash on Tuesday – wait 2 days…You get the picture.

When I was a cloth diaper novice with my first, I became mentally unstable. From washing diapers (so very, very gross) EVERY OTHER DAY. It was maddening. Because I did laundry every night: Monday – diapers, Tuesday – baby clothes, Wednesday – diapers, Thursday – adult clothes, Friday – diapers…

This continued with baby #2. Until he reached 12 months and we went to the beach. And then came home from the beach. During which car ride, I realized I had left a shit ton of dirty diapers at the beach. These things aren’t cheap. I’m talking $20 a pop. So no way was I going to leave them there to languish. And no way was #RockStarDad going to turn the car around to go get them.

I did what we moms always do: I BRAINSTORMED HARD. And it hit me: our minister’s boys go to college at the beach. I actually paid $75 for them to retrieve my bag of so very, very gross cloth diapers and OVERNIGHT SHIP them to my house. People, did you read that right? I paid a couple college boys $75 to ship a bag of shitty diapers through the mail!!

When they arrived home four days later, well, let’s just say I used a lot of bleach. The interesting thing I discovered is that, really, they were just fine. Thus, if you want to, you can actually implement the following wash schedule: wash on Wednesday – wait 4 days – wash on Monday – wait 4 days – wash on Saturday…

Oh, and embrace your clothes drier. Screw the rule that you must pull each diaper out of the washer and lovingly hang it up to air dry. Just throw the whole lot into the drier on medium heat and be done with it.

Skip the daily bath.
Unless sweetness is covered head to toe in sand. Even then, you can do a little shake and she will be good to go. Baths are splashy and time-consuming. Plus, letting your kid marinate overnight in daycare germs is really phenomenal – just think of the immunity she’s building up!

Skip the pajamas.
For bed, simply dress little miss in her school clothes for the next day. Bonus: you’ll save lots of mullah because you don’t have to buy extraneous pj’s. And as soon as morning comes, voila! Sweetness is ready to go! This is totally easy for baby babies – pj’s are basically dayware anyway.

Comment below or share your working #MomHacks on Facebook at MothersRest.

When the church mascot wears tie-dye

In an effort to foster independence, I always ask big brother to pick out his clothes for the day. This he can handle because I organize his drawers so that the important things, like underwear, are within reach.

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But I’ve always picked out his Sunday attire. You know, nice(ish) slacks, nice(ish) button-down shirt. Since he’s a professional dresser now, Sunday should also be part of his dressing domain, just like Monday through Saturday.

One Sunday I announced it was his turn to pick out his “church clothes.” Apparently, this phrase means nothing to a toddler. But I didn’t think much about that when I gave him the Monday through Saturday “go pick out your clothes” speech.

Until he walked out of his room wearing a tie-dye t-shirt. Now we go to one of those love everybody, open and affirming churches. Thus, tie-dye could pretty much be the official church color. Only, it’s not really what I had in mind. Had I told him this? Of course not. He can read my mind, right? All those Sundays of nice(ish) slacks and nice(ish) button-down shirts? Didn’t his sweet little brain notice the pattern?

Um, the only weekday pattern he’s picked up on at this point is “trash-truck Tuesday.”

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waiting for the garbage man

Sunday falls into the category of one of those days when we don’t go to school. As Saturday is the other one and it’s anything-goes-clothes on Saturday, I can see how he might not have picked up on the we-wear-nice-things-on-Sunday vibe.

Well, I’d opened the door to the tie-dyed apparel. What to do now? (And honestly, no one at church cares what he wears. Gone are the days where my mom made me wear black patent leather shoes and a bonnet to church on Easter. It’s hello, jeans these days.)

I’d already dressed little brother in a frilly Southern frock. (The days are numbered for the froo-froo, male pettifor look, too.) Next to him, big brother looked like he was sporting pajamas.

I pulled out the secret weapon: the sweater vest. With a SAILBOAT. What could be classier? And I donned my best happy, chirpy, singsong voice to extol the virtues of the classy sweater vest.

It was like a pincer movement. He didn’t know what hit him. Suddenly, he was ready for the runway: church rainbow tie-dye mascot meets Cape Cod.

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all dressed up in their Sunday best

The boy loves a boat. Gotta use it to my advantage.

And next Sunday, I laid some ground rules: whatever you want, as long as a COLLAR is involved. This could go so very, very wrong….

What are your tips for fostering independence? Comment below or share your #IndyToddlerTips on Facebook at MothersRest.