{FAMILY} How To Prep Your Kids To Stay Home Alone For The First Time

When I was a kid, playing outside and staying home alone without parental supervision was the norm. I learned from an early age how to fend for myself, recognize boundaries, and stay safe, and never found myself in harm’s way as a result.

I know it’s not the 70s anymore, but that doesn’t mean that we should trust our children, or our own intuition any less than our parents did when we were growing up.

My oldest daughter will be 10 years old in 3 months, and while the average family waits until at least the ages of 10-12 to leave their child home alone for the first time, we’ve decided to start a bit earlier. I believe that she’s old enough to start easing into the next step of independence, and with the right tools, I’m  confident that she can do so safely and successfully.

Here’s how I’ve prepared her (and myself) for this big milestone:

Suss it out.

The first step in determining whether or not your child is ready, is to ask them how they feel about it. For some kids, the mention of having the house to themselves conjures up images of them sitting in front of the TV watching inappropriate movies and stuffing their faces with candy-topped ice cream sundaes (thanks for that Home Alone). But it’s important to discuss the situation in more detail to really get a feel for your child’s comfort level. Ask them how they would feel if the power went out, or if someone they didn’t know were to knock on the door. Helping them to visualize the reality of the situation will help you to gage how ready they really are.

Related: Home Alone: How Young Is Too Young?

Hit the books.

My daughter and I were browsing the shelves of Chapters Indigo awhile back when we came across a great book that has become a valuable resource for us: A Smart Girl’s Guide: Staying Home Alone by American Girl. The book starts with a cute quiz called “ready or not?” where kids can take a self evaluation to determine their readiness, with real-life situations as examples of how they would react to sticky situations. Not only does the book highlight helpful tips on how to be prepared, responsible, and in control when home alone, but it offers fun tips like boredom busters and snack recipes that can be made without the use of appliances.  My daughter read the book from cover-to-cover, and likes to keep it by her side when we leave her home alone.

Establish rules and boundaries.

There are obvious rules and boundaries that should be established before you leave your child alone – don’t open the door for anyone, don’t use the appliances (unless they are seasoned experts), don’t leave the house without permission, and what to do in the case of an emergency. Not only is it important to list the do’s and don’t’s, but it helps to walk them through various scenarios. Quiz them on what they would do if they were hungry, or if someone knocked on the door and said that their parents gave them permission to come in, or if a power outage were to occur.

Practice makes perfect.

Before you leave your child home alone for the first time, do a test run. Do something in the yard and leave them in the house. Call to see if they answer. Knock on the door and practice a few scripts to see how they would respond in various situations. The more you practice, the more confident they’ll be when it’s really time to stay home alone.

I like to make sure that at least one of my neighbours is going to be home – just in case my child feels unsafe or unsure of what to do. We don’t have a home phone so I make sure to leave a fully-charged iPhone with my daughter so she can call or text me whenever she wants. We’ve been easing into it – leaving her home for only 15-20 minutes at a time, and never with her siblings.

Whether you decide to wait until your child is a teenager, or you feel comfortable doing so at an earlier age, independence is an important life skill that takes time to learn successfully. With the proper guidance, it can be a fun and easy transition for your family.

Check out these safety tips for more: American Red Cross Safety Tips 

{FAMILY} Why It Took Me So Long To Get A Trampoline

I grew up in a small apartment in Granville Island. No backyard, and definitely no trampoline to call my own.

I had friends who had trampolines in their backyards, and I did everything I could do to have playdates with those friends, just so I could feel the rush of bouncing high into the air – doing bum drops and summersaults as I reached for the sky on each ascent towards the clouds.

When I became a parent, fear and hesitation replaced my enthusiasm for trampolines. Having young children made me privy to the downfalls of trampoline play. Everyone seemed to have a story about a broken leg, an injured knee, a head injury or a chipped tooth that resulted from trampoline falls. I swore I would never get one, no matter how much my children begged and pleaded.

Now that my oldest children are in school, my resistance has started to subside, replaced with curiosity and a whole lot of research.

One night my husband and I were discussing the options, and came across the Springfree Trampoline. We watched their safety video, and this unique story about how a Springfree trampoline saved a family’s house, and thought it sounded like a safe and feasible option for consideration – so we bookmarked their website for future reference.

The next day (no lie), I received an email from my friends at Vancouver Mom. They had partnered with Springfree and were looking for some blog ambassadors to try out the trampolines and share their experiences. I applied and was selected as the North Vancouver ambassador (squee!), and my large oval trampoline was delivered and set up shortly afterwards.

Why did it take me so long to get a trampoline?

After hearing a slew of trampoline horror stories, I was afraid of the possible accidents that could occur. I didn’t want to put my children in harm’s way, and didn’t want to be held liable if their friends were to get hurt on my watch.

I’m still a little nervous about adding a trampoline to my family, but I feel safe knowing that the construction of the Springfree trampoline is far more advanced and safety-tested than the net-free, broken spring bouncers I used to play on when I was a kid.

Are they as safe as they say?

I guess I won’t know until I try it, and today, we tested it out for our very first time.

This afternoon two Springfree employees came to my home, and manually set up our brand new tramp. After each adult bounce-checked and gave it their thumbs-up of approval, I zoomed off to school to pick up my kids – I couldn’t wait to reveal the surprise that waiting for them at home! Here’s how it went:

They jumped on that trampoline until the sun set. Happy kids = happy mom.

Springfree trampoline

Springfree trampoline

Springfree trampoline

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes and will share my honest feedback on our Springfree trampoline along the way. I welcome any questions you may have as we embark on this jumping journey, and look forward to a whole lot of outdoor fun on our new toy this Summer!

{FOOD} What To Feed Your Child’s Gluten-Free Friends

Let me preface this by saying that until recently, I had no idea what ‘gluten’ even was. I figured it had something to do with bread, but other than that, I was completely (and embarrassingly) clueless.

A few of my children’s friends have celiac disease (an intolerance t0 gluten). And while eating a gluten-free diet has become somewhat of a trend these days, celiac disease is not a lifestyle choice, and definitely not something to be taken lightly.

When one of my daughter’s friends came over for a play date the other day, I wanted to make sure that I only offered gluten-free snacks, but I didn’t know which foods to avoid. After a series of lengthy texts with her mother (and with a little help from ‘Dr. Google’) I did my research, and was surprised by some of my discoveries.

Some sneaky foods that actually aren’t always gluten-free (check the labels!):

  • chocolate
  • pickles
  • hot dogs
  • soy sauce
  • sushi (not just soy sauce, but imitation crab and wasabi)
  • liquorice
  • french fries

What to look out for:

With so many foods on the “not safe” list, I found it helpful to reference a list of ingredients to avoid when preparing food for my child’s gluten-free friend. Here’s a great resource for both ingredient-checking, and learning more about the impacts of celiac disease: Celiac Disease Foundation.

With all this new information in mind, I wanted to feed my daughter’s friend without making a big deal about her dietary restrictions. For snacks, I stuck with fresh fruit (strawberries and blueberries are definitely a safe option), and a bowl of Boom Chicka Pop sweet & salty kettle corn (it says “certified gluten-free right on the bag – easy peasy for moms like me!).

For dinner, I grilled some chicken on the BBQ (lightly seasoned – but no BBQ sauce, because upon reading the label I discovered that was out too!), served with broccoli and plain rice.

 

I was happy to have fed my daughter’s friend without slipping up on the gluten-free front, but I felt as though I could have done better. I’m sure the dinner was bland and thought I could definitely have done better to satisfy her palate. So to prepare myself for next time, I’ve pulled together a great list of gluten-free recipes from some of my favourite mom bloggers. I’m going to file them away, and hopefully this will give you all some new gluten-free snack ideas too!

4 delicious gluten-free recipes to bookmark for later:

(click on the images to link to the full recipes)

{FAMILY} Teaching My 8yo Daughter About Self Confidence

Eight seems to be an age of self-awareness and unbridled insecurity. My 8-year-old daughter has suddenly become so self-conscious – constantly questioning her looks, her physical abilities and her mental intelligence. I always reassure her that she is beautiful, talented and smart, but it’s tough for an almost pre-teen to believe those words when they come from her mother, who of course loves her unconditionally.

I’ve always focused on teaching my children to be self-confident beings (and I do my best to be a self-confident mom as well, because it’s important to practice what you preach). But a big part of self confidence, is actually believing in yourself, not relying on others to believe for you.

The other day, my beautiful girl – eyes welling up with tears – asked me why she was finding it so hard to remember the steps in her ballet class. “I try so hard to get them right” she said softly. And I completely understood where she was coming from. Choreography is hard! I told her that I was also struggling to remember the steps in my adult ballet class, and that learning new moves is something that just comes more naturally to some people than it does for others. I went on to explain:

“Dancing is like learning how to play a musical instrument. You have to start with learning how to play the notes before you can learn how to play a whole song. With dancing, you have to learn the steps before you can master the choreography of a whole dance. Keep practicing, and before you know it, you’ll be playing your song.”

I’m not sure if she fully understood the message behind my simile (because I love a good comparison), but I think the empathy in my personal story and in my comparing dance to music, made her realize that she wasn’t alone in her struggle.

I hope that she’ll continue to come to me when she’s feeling down or insecure, and I hope that I can find the words to help lift her spirits.

self confidence

{FAMILY} What To Expect: Leaving Your Toddler Overnight For The First Time

With my first child, it took me almost 3 years to warm up to the idea of leaving her overnight with my parents. Leaving my toddler overnight was a scary thing! I was afraid that she would experience separation anxiety – that she would reach towards me with her arms outstretched as tears streamed down her face, sobbing uncontrollably and begging for me to stay as I walked out the door.

I imagined that she wouldn’t sleep, crying for me throughout the night, calling out “mommy” to the dark and empty room in which she laid her head. I feared that she wouldn’t eat, hanging her head low as she wandered aimlessly through each day, convinced that I had abandoned her for good. And most of all, I worried that I wouldn’t survive the separation – that I would yearn for her day and night, and that the guilt of leaving her parentless for the weekend would forever damage her fragile little soul.

toddler overnight

 

They’ll be alright, I promise.

All of this of course was ridiculously untrue. When I finally did leave her, she waved happily goodbye and went on to play gleefully with her toys. While I was gone, she enjoyed new adventures with her grandparents, and when I returned, she was excited to see me – not broken, but possibly more whole as a result of our time apart.

With my third child, I’m more than confident in our overnight separations. Perhaps because I know that valuable time spent with my parents is almost as important to her well being as spending her time solely spent with her parents. Perhaps it’s because I know that having time away makes me a better parent, and that exposure to varying environments is important for early childhood development. She feels comfortable with our nights apart, as do I.

The one thing that might take awhile to accept…

But there’s one thing that sometimes comes with overnight separation that took me awhile to accept. When I returned from my time away, my children weren’t always excited to see me – at first. They would reach for my parents, rejecting my outstretched arms in favour of Nana and Papa. It wasn’t because they had grown to love my parents more than their own, or because they were traumatized by the experience of sleeping in a different place.

According to my Mama Dina, it’s natural and completely healthy for children to “punish” you for being away. While at first they may seem to reject your advances, they quickly learn that you come back. Which is a good thing. After a few experiences with being apart, they grow comfortable in their new environment, and confident that their parents will be back soon.

And the “punishments” will quickly pass, I promise.

How to make it easier?

I’ll leave you with some quick tips on how to make an overnight stay a little more comfortable for your toddler:

1) Make sure that you are leaving them with someone familiar. Leading up to the overnight stay, pay a few visits to the place where they will be staying and enjoy some time together in that new space. It’ll be easier to say goodbye if they feel comfortable where they’ll be.

2) Bring comfort toys. My youngest has a favourite stuffed bunny that she likes to sleep with, so I make sure to always pack it for her. I also include a photo of the family so she can see our faces regularly (my mom tapes it near the crib where she sleeps).

3) Let them hear your voice. If you aren’t able to call, leave a little voice recording for them to listen to – there’s nothing more comforting than the sound of a parent’s voice when feeling unsure of a new environment.

4) Prepare them for what to expect. Talk to your child about how long you’ll be gone and when you’ll return.

Good luck, and don’t fret, your little one will be just fine.

 

{FAMILY} Take Care Of You

For that past two weeks I’ve been wholly consumed by the dizzying chaos of back to school and back to work. My days have been jam packed with onboarding new clients, attending conferences, workshops, and networking events, taxiing the kids to and from soccer practices and dance classes, catching up on neglected housework, and keeping my toddler entertained amidst it all.

All the while I have been fighting what I had assumed to be the inevitable back-to-school bug – resisting submission to my body’s cries for rest. Loading myself up with nasal spray and Tylenol so that I could get through the day without an overabundance of hack attacks and nose-honking blows.

In the back of my mind I knew that my body needed attention – that I wasn’t my full self, but I shook off those feelings and kept my focus on my kids. Making sure that their needs were being met. Making sure my work was up to par.

When I realized that I was feeling more and more physically depleted, the thought crossed my mind to pop into a clinic to make sure that I didn’t have an infectious bug – you know, so I could make sure my kids didn’t catch whatever it was that was bringing me down.

It took me 3 days to actually make that visit, and when I did, the doctor was not too pleased with me.


 

“In the back of my mind I knew that my body needed attention – that I wasn’t my full self, but I    shook off those feelings and kept my focus on my kids.”


 

I hurriedly told her that I had had a cold for about 2 weeks, and that it was likely nothing but that I had a nagging cough and aching/rattling in my chest that just wouldn’t subside, and I wanted to just double check that it wasn’t anything that I could pass on to my three kids. When she gave my chest a listen, she shook her head and said “Oh honey, you are so sick. You were definitely right to come in – you should have come in a lot sooner.”

She said that I had an abundance of fluid in my lungs – that it was definitely pneumonia, and that if I had waited much longer I would have ended up in a hospital bed. She shook her head and told me that as a mom, I should be taking better care of myself – that putting my own needs aside could be worse for my kids in the long run.

She sent me home with a prescription for antibiotics, and 2 different puffers to help settle the swelling and fluid build up in my lungs.

I left feeling a bit ashamed. I’m always writing about how important it is to take time out for yourself. Preaching about how moms need to be a bit more selfish. And there I was, being gently reprimanded by a doctor (and fellow mom) for doing exactly the opposite of that.

I’ve been told to rest, and this weekend I plan on doing just that. And while it is impossible to completely toss aside the daily responsibilities of a self-employed career mom of three kids, I’m going to do my best to take the doctor’s (and my own advice) to heart – and you should too. Take Care Of You.

take care of you quote

{FAMILY} 5 Tips On How To Stay Sane as a Mom of Three

As a career mom of three, I’m constantly asked the same question: How do you do it all? And the answer is easy: I don’t.

The truth of the matter is, any mom who tells you that she ‘does it all’ is simply lying. It’s just not possible to give 100% of yourself to everything that you do. Doing it all (in the true sense) would be like riding a unicycle, blindfolded, while juggling 100 balls in the air with one hand. I don’t know about you, but for me, balls would get dropped.

But while I’m not ‘doing it all’, I do like to think that I’m successful at what I’m doing. Because successful moms don’t strive for perfection, they create their own definition of success. The key is to recognize that you can’t do it all, and to prioritize the things that you are able to do by the things that are most important to you.

Striving for perfection will drive you crazy, so why not strive for perfectly imperfect instead?

To keep your sanity amidst the chaos, here are 5 things that will keep you from completely losing your mind:

mom of three

1) Practice saying no.

Stop being a ‘yes’ mom and pick and choose your projects and events based on how they will be of benefit to you and your family. You can’t be everywhere all the time – learning how to effectively manage your time will play a big role in finding your own success. I know it’s easier said than done, I’m always the first to say yes when asked to work on something or attend an event, but if I say no to a few things, I find that I have more time for the things that need to get done, or that I love to do.

2) Take time out for yourself.

As moms we tend to put ourselves at the bottom of the priority list. But spending too much time meeting the needs of others can be draining. People always ask me how I could possibly find time for myself with a business and three children. I find the time because I make it a priority. A massage, a quiet hour of focused writing at a coffee shop, or even a short nap are enough to maintain my sanity.

3) Limit your children’s activities.

Extracurriculars can be extra time suckers – especially with multiple children, and I can’t even imagine how much busier it’ll get when my third child is old enough for after-school activities. As much as I’d love for each of my children to take soccer, dance, swimming, skiing, skating, piano, and karate lessons, I know that too much running around will drive me insane, so I limit each child to two activities (one that I choose, and one that they are interested in pursuing). It’s still busy but limiting the number of activities that they take allows for us to enjoy family time together too!

4) Accept help from others.

I’m constantly feeling overwhelmed as a mom of three, yet I have a bad habit of saying ‘no thank you’ when help is offered. When my husband offers to take over with the bedtime routines, I tell him I can do it and then rush around to get it all done myself. My parents are always offering to take the kids for the night and I kindly decline, worried that my busy little trifecta might be a burden on them. Accepting help from others will allow us to enjoy a little rest – which I’m sure we could all use.

5) Lower your standards.

Your house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean all the time, and no one’s going to die if you order pizza every once in awhile. I remember thinking it was so important to cook gourmet, perfectly-balanced dinners each night, have the house perfectly clean before bed, and never have the laundry basket more than half full. And then I had kids.

If you try to do everything yourself, you will lose your mind. Accept that you can’t do it all, let others help you, and take the time to smell the roses. Because you only live once, so make the most of it.

{FAMILY} How I Got My Baby To Sleep Through The Night

Unfortunately, teaching your baby to sleep through the night is no easy feat. With each child, I have struggled with long periods of sleep deprivation, and with each child, I have eventually found a solution that works – convinced that I have unlocked the mystery to babies and sleep. But the truth is, there is no one easy answer – at least that hasn’t been the case for me.

With my first child, I tried the Ferber CIO method and let my girl ‘cry it out’.  I found that a combination of playing quiet music, surrounding her with soothers, and leaving her to cry in her crib when I put her down, actually worked quite well.

I remember being so nervous to try it out for the first time – afraid it wouldn’t work, or that I wouldn’t be able to last for more than a minute hearing my baby girl cry for me from another room. But I was so overtired! I had reached the point of desperation where I was willing to try anything.

sleep

My first child – sleeping soundly on her own.

She cried for 40 minutes straight, and then fell asleep on her own. And after that night, she was sleeping through the night. I would lay her down (asleep or awake), and she would suck on her soother and fall asleep peacefully on her own. I was so ready for baby #2. Or so I thought.

With my second child, nothing worked. From the day he was born, my sweet little boy would. not. sleep. There was no honeymoon period at the beginning – where newborns usually sleep most of their days and night away. He just didn’t want to sleep. Ever.

Eventually, when I reached a point of losing my mind from sleep deprivation, I decided it was time to try the Ferber method again. After (I hate to admit) letting him cry for more than 2 hours straight, I realized that it just wasn’t going to work with him. He didn’t take a soother, and just couldn’t settle on his own. I tried every other sleep training technique I could find, and eventually gave up.

sleep

My second child – who would only sleep on the go.

While it took a really long time for him to learn how to sleep on his own in his bed, my little guy had no problem falling asleep when we were out and about – especially in the car or on our boat. With him, I learned that each child is completely different when it comes to sleep patterns and sleep training, regardless of consistency in parenting efforts.

With my third child, this method worked like a charm (so far). For the first 6 months of her life, baby #3 slept like a rockstar. I’d put her down, and she would just sleep. I thought I had been blessed with the best sleeper in the world, and was living the dream. Until about 2 months ago.

Suddenly she just wouldn’t let me put her down. She’d fall asleep in my arms, and if I so much as inhaled too quickly, she’d awake with a vengeance. If I did manage to get her down, she’d wake up in the night frequently. Exhausted, I would pick her up, bring her into my bed, and nurse her to sleep. But I couldn’t sleep with her next to me, and I was starting to lose my mind with sleeplessness once more.

Baby Sleep

Ready to try anything, I started with trying to let her ‘cry it out’. I put her gently down as she wailed desperately for my rescue. I sat in another room listening to her helpless cries, and watched the clock. But as the time went by, I couldn’t handle it – I couldn’t stand to hear her so upset. After about 30 minutes, I went to her rescue. I’m not sure if it was the fact that she’s my last baby, or that my old age has weakened me, but I just wanted to make her feel better. After another long run of sleepless nights, I decided to try something new.

After rocking her and walking her for hours – I put her down in her crib and watched her as she cried. And as she continued to stand up and wail, determined to have me pick her up, I would gently lay her down on her stomach, and say in a hushed voice “It’s night night time, mommy’s here” while patting her back.

For 45 minutes, I continued to repeat those words in a calm and soothing voice, and continued to pat her back and lay her back down as she stood. Yes it was tiring, but I wanted it to work. And you know what? It did.

Her cries faded and eventually she fell asleep.

I ninja’d myself out of the room, and fist-pumped my way back to the living room where I celebrated my victory with a quiet night of tv-watching – baby free and grinning from ear-to-ear. And (knock on wood), she has been letting me put her down (awake!) ever since.

Some nights I still have to pat her back for a minute or two and say “night night”, but then she drifts to sleep – and sleeps all night long.

There is no simple solution – trial and error is what has worked for me.

I’d love to hear what has worked for you – have you unlocked the mystery of babies and sleep with your little one?

Bringing Home Baby: The Only 10 Things You’ll Need

The baby products industry is so jam-packed with fancy-pants  thingamabobs and whatchamacallits that it’s becoming difficult for parents-to-be to determine what they will actually need for the arrival of their new little ones, versus the on-trend nice-to-haves of modern society.

Having done this new baby thing a time or two, I thought I would share with you my quick list of the only things you’ll need to buy before bringing home baby (and a few of the things that can wait until later).

Baby

1) A Car Seat. You’re going to need to bring your baby home in something, so a rear-facing car seat should be at the top of your list of must-haves (unless of course you don’t have a car, in which case, see #8 & #9). There are about a million different models out there, but I’ve found this one to be my favourite (or I’m currently using this one for baby #3 which I also like). These seats are both lighter than most (which is important because for the first few months you’ll be carrying them on your forearm like a purse), and they are quite compact (especially important if you have a small car or other small children). I’ve also found that they are adaptable to most strollers.

2) A Bassinet/Cradle. Because babies sleep. A lot. If you have the space, I would suggest starting with a little bassinet or cradle. In the first few months your new little baby will need you at least a few times throughout the night, and having baby nearby makes those midnight feedings a little more bearable. A smaller bassinet is also more mobile so you can move your baby’s sleep locations more conveniently. Of course, some parents co-sleep, or start putting baby in a full-sized crib right from day 1, so this one can be left up to your own personal preference.

3) Diapers. Whether you like it or not, babies also pee and poop. A lot. So you’re going to need something to catch it all. Whether you plan on using disposables or cloth diapers, you’re going to need to stock up. Babies do the deed an average of 10-14 times a day, so plan ahead my friends! You will not want to run out to the store for another pack of diapers in the first few days of bringing home baby.

4) Change Table/Surface. With all of those diaper changes, you’re going to need somewhere to actually change the baby. I like having a full change table with space underneath to store the supplies (wipes, diapers, creams, powders, cloths, etc), but I know many people who use dressers with change pads on top and this works too – you can just buy a basket or install some shelves above for the extras.

5) Wash Cloths/Blankets. I’ve grouped these together because basically you’re going to need some fabrics to wash, swaddle, and block your baby (block = defence against unwanted explosions, i.e.: pukes, spit ups and blow outs). You will need a lot of these too.

6) A Vibrating Chair. Some parents may challenge me on this one, but with all 3 of my children I found this to be a godsend. Because as much as you love to cuddle your baby, your arms will get tired and you’ll have other things to do. And while the dream is to have a baby who will self-sooth and fall asleep in their cradles on their own, this is rarely the case. I used my vibrating chair constantly – to keep baby happy while I did chores (easy to move from room-to-room), and many times to coo baby to sleep when rocking in my arms just wouldn’t do.

7) Sleepers. While there are endless drool-worthy baby outfits out there (hello adorable sneakers, bomber jackets, tutus, and baby denim!), you’ll really only need a sizeable collection of onesie sleepers (and zippers are a MUST). Cutesy accessories can come later, but for the first few months, the goal is to keep baby warm and cozy, and to regain your sanity from a long slew of sleepless nights.

8) A Baby Carrier. Some parents prefer this one, but I’ve always been happy with this one. There are a TON of choices out there, and the one you choose will really come down to personal preference, but you will need one if you ever plan on leaving the house or using your hands again.

9) A Stroller. Babies get heavy so you’re going to want one of these too. Especially if you have a dog, need to go to the store, or pretty much have to go anywhere that requires you to walk for longer periods of time. Not only are they great for transporting your kids, but you can put stuff in them when you’re shopping which is handy! My favourite strollers of all time are these ones (I was spoiled with baby #1 and received one as a gift from a group of family members – pricey, but THE BEST). Due to tighter budgets with baby #3, I now have this one which has been pretty good so far.

10) Poo Bags. This one might sound a little strange, but I’m telling you, you DO NOT NEED a diaper genie. The thick poo bags that were designed for picking up after your dog are perfect – especially these ones which are biodegradable, and totally affordable. We put the poopy dipes in the bags, tie them tightly, and toss them in our regular garbage can. No stink. I found the diaper genie to be a pain in the arse to change the bags, and it was often difficult to find the refills (not to mention pricey!). If you’re using cloth diapers, it’s still nice to keep these on hand for dirty baby wipes or blowouts when you’re out and about.

There are of course other things you’ll need as well, but you don’t need to buy it all right away! Here are some things that you can save for later.

Save for later:

– full-sized crib

– Bumbo chair

– bottles

– soothers

– high chair

– exersaucer

– toys

– clothes (beyond sleepers) & shoes

– baby foods & accessories (dishes)

If you have friends with kids, ask them if they have any of the items on your list before you go shopping, or add them to your wish list for baby shower gifts. Congratulations on your new babies to come, and good luck!

 Fellow parents, have I missed anything? 

Baby

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How To Win At Working From Home

As I nestled into the corner booth at a local coffee shop to begin my work this morning, I had an epiphany. It hit me like a slap in the face – I had suddenly realized that it has been just over 2 years since I left my corporate job to become a work-from-home mom.

2 years since I took the breath-taking, heart-racing leap from the cushy comforts of an in-office nine-to-five career, to a financially-risky, part-time, home-based job. I remember being anxious, scared, and hopeful about working from home – wondering if I had finally found the work-life balance I had been searching for. I remember writing about my first week as a WAHM and listing the challenges I anticipated I would face in my new work environment.

And now here I am – a recently self-employed mom of three, doing what I love from my home office. And while there are definitely days where I feel like the pendulum is vigorously swinging in one direction, I feel like I’ve come a long way from where I was 2 years ago.

working from home

 

So for those of you who are considering a similar transition, or who need some tips on how to make it work, here are some things that have been working for me (so far):

1) Schedule Time To Work. Like an outside office job, it helps to determine what your hours are. This will help you to manage your projects and complete them efficiently. Working with a young  baby at home can make it tricky to keep a consistent schedule so I have one day a week where I have my parents watch the baby for a few hours so I can work at a coffee shop – uninterrupted. It’s amazing how much work I can accomplish when I know I have 2 hours of time to myself. This also helps me to schedule business meetings – knowing I have at least one day/time when I won’t have to have a little one in tow. If you don’t have daytime help, allocate some hours in the evenings when your babies are in bed (I do this as well). Pour a glass of wine or stew a warm cup of tea, put on some quiet music and force yourself to focus.

2) Learn When To Turn It Off. Separating work from life is a difficult task – especially when the two are based out of the same location. One thing that I find helps is to have a room or space in your home that is allocated as your office space. When you’re ready to work, go to your place and do your best to stay focused. When your work hours are over, close the door, or leave that space just as you would leave your office to go home at the end of a work day outside of the home. Keep your family updated on your work hours, and keep your unwashed laundry and dirty dishes out of sight (out of sight, out of mind, right? – kind of).

3) Get Out, Get Connected, Get Inspired. When you work from the confines of your home, it’s easy to become an introvert. While communicating primarily by email is sometimes more convenient, it helps to schedule in-person client meetings and coffee chats. Having face-to-face interactions with adults can be rewarding – both professionally and personally. Take it one step further and join networking groups or workshops that hold regular in-person meetings. I’ve attended a few Mom CEO Academy and LOCO BC events and plan on making it more of a habit in 2015.

Are you a work-at-home mom who feels like you have it all figured out? If so, I’d love to hear your tips and tricks too!

working from home