Christmas Survival as a New Mom

Congratulations on your new winter arrival! The streets are glowing with festive lights, big baggy jumpers are in fashion for the next few months (phew!), and the radio keeps telling you ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year!’ Looking down at that squidgy newborn face, you find it hard not to agree. It truly is wonderful.

But, if you’ve just had a new baby, you might also feel like it’s going to be the most stressful time of the year. Yeah sure, your house is loaded with adorable ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ paraphernalia, but it’s also running on very little sleep….and if it’s anything like ours was in the early weeks, it’s also quite likely a train wreck.

And maybe any other time of the year you might be ok with that….but this is Christmas y’all. The time of year where family descends from all directions. Or perhaps worse when you have a newborn, the time of year where you are expected to travel to family!

Yes, you absolutely are bursting with pride and want to show off your baby, but perhaps not just yet. I mean, how are you supposed to host or uphold family traditions if you can barely hold yourself up? There’s a good chance you might fall asleep in your dinner listening to another one of Aunt Cheryl’s stories. Or you might even miss dinner altogether if your new tiny boss is demanding a feed of his / her own.

The truth is, with Christmas comes a whole bunch of expectations……most of which are self-inflicted.  It’s easy to feel like a hot mess when you scroll through social media this time of year – it’s just perfect shot after perfect shot of family holiday pictures. Many women might feel the pressure to ‘get it all together’ and be the yummy mommy type that earns praise daily in the media, but in our experience, this whole ‘let’s go on with the show’ mentality earns no medals in the long run!

If you can get it all together for Christmas, feel good, and want to host, then by all means go for it! You’re awesome. But please don’t feel forced in to faking it if you don’t feel ready. The holidays are just as much about taking time off to recharge your batteries – and you certainly won’t do this by being a crowd pleaser with a newborn. Do what works for you!

You might feel like a Grinch saying no to family events at this time of year, but you know what, people might surprise you.  ‘No’ might not be half as scary or as guilt-inducing as you thought. Remember, many of these people will be parents too. They know.

You might feel terrible for not decorating the house the way you wanted to for ‘Baby’s First Christmas’, but hey, guess what, baby’s not judging, baby’s snoring!

And you might feel terrible for not putting on a traditional dinner spread, but that’s not what you will remember in years to come. You’ll remember how perfectly tiny they were, not how perfectly tired you were.

Our advice, for what it’s worth: Stop worrying about getting Christmas perfect this year….you’ve already done perfect. You’re cuddling perfect right now!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

The Babysitter Checklist

Not everyone is lucky enough to have trusted close friends and willing family nearby to babysit. And for those who don’t, finding the right person to trust can be HARD.

Sure, you’ve had people generously offer. You’ve had locals moms tell you that their teenager is always available. You’ve heard from a friend about a great professional sitter that she uses. But when you don’t know someone all that well, or at ALL, the thought of leaving your little one with them can be daunting. In fact, the thought alone can put you off the idea of even having a night out in the first place…

But you need that time mama. You need some time off. And more than that, you deserve it!

At Babies in Bloom, we know exactly what you should be looking for in a babysitter – because we have a dedicated program that trains them right under our roof. The Child & Babysitting Safety Class is a hands-on community education program designed to teach youths, age 11 and older, basic care techniques and child safety – everything from home safety and diapers, to choking and CPR.

For those currently in search of Ms. (or Mr.) Right, here are some of our top tips:

  • Maturity Level: While The American Red Cross says parents shouldn’t choose someone younger than 11 to look after their baby, some say 15. Others even older. It all depends on the context, as well as your personal comfort level, the age of your child, their needs (diapers? Feeding? Lifting in to high cribs?), the length of time you will be gone, and of course, the sitter’s own maturity level. Take ALL of these factors in to consideration if you are contemplating using a local teen. Why not have them assist you at home for a few afternoons or evenings first? It’s a great chance for you to see them in action.
  • Knowledge Check: Whatever their age, you’ll want to know how a sitter would think on their feet. Ask them if they know basic First Aid? CPR? The Heimlich maneuver? If they are a local teen and it’s a no, ask them if they would be willing to learn. Also run ‘what if’ scenarios by them, e.g. ‘what would you do if the baby had a fever?’ etc. This will not only reassure you, but could also highlight significant knowledge gaps for potential eager young sitters to work on.
  • References: If you are using a professional service, check their references. At least two. Yes, they might have been pre-screened by the agency, but this doesn’t always mean satisfied families. Reassurance from other parents is gold!
  • Routines: Once you have found your sitter, make sure you go through your child’s routine together – when they go to bed, food allowances, VIP toys to aid sleep etc. And don’t forget to clarify communication routines. Leave both your numbers. Do you want a text message every hour for reassurance? Would you want the sitter to call you to let you know when they are asleep? Would you prefer the sitter to not call at all and ONLY call in an emergency? Let them know your expectations.
  • The Just In Case Details: While it’s unlikely you will need it, tell your sitter where your first aid kit is, the flash lights, the fire extinguisher etc. Also leave behind the number for your child’s doctor and a neighbor who can be contacted for help. Covering all these worst case scenario bases will leave you feeling surprisingly more confident when you walk out the door.

Finally, remember to share your good fortune! If you strike gold and uncover a dream sitter, tell your friends! Not only will the sitter appreciate the additional business, you’ll be an absolute HERO to all those other moms out there dreaming of a well-earned night off!

We See You. We Are You. #infantloss

Every year for infant loss awareness month, the world unites for a moving global ‘wave of light.’ A night where we are encouraged to light a candle to remember the little ones whose parents never had a chance to hold them, those who were born sleeping, and those who arrived but could not stay.

Remember.

At first glance, remember feels like the wrong word for parents to use, doesn’t it? To remember almost suggests you’ve forgotten. You’ve survived, but you’ve never forgot. You might put on an old top one day and remember that time where it was once a little snug as you desperately tried to keep your bump a secret.  You might see or hear your baby’s name when out in public.  You might sit there and wonder what he or she would have looked like at one year…five…ten, etc. However long your baby was with you for, he or she was part of you, and always will be. So yeah, remember doesn’t always feel like the right word for parents. But then again, what IS the right word?

People can be so afraid of using or finding the right words that they choose not to talk about loss at all.

Some parents can’t understand why or feel they failed, or did something wrong. So they stay silent.

Some simply can’t find the right words to express how they feel, so they stay silent.

Some worry months or years later that people will think they should be ‘over it by now,’ so they stay silent.

Friends are scared of ‘bringing it up’ or upsetting parents, so they stay silent.

And so all too often, it stays silent.

And that’s exactly why this awareness month, and nights like the wave of light, are so important. It’s a reminder to break the silence. A reminder of how powerful sharing stories can be. Sharing is solidarity. It’s strength.

And it’s not just about sharing. It’s also about asking. It’s about opening up a two way dialogue. It’s reminding wider family and friends to simply ASK. Reminding them to say your baby’s name. To talk about your child. Because they existed. Losing a child doesn’t ever stop you being a mother or father.

So this week, the Babies in Bloom family took time to remember all those little ones who didn’t make it. We shared. We asked. And we supported.

Parents, we see you. We are you. And we’re here for you. Always.

For those who believe in the healing power of sharing, we thought we would share this website that we stumbled across with you: Stillbirth Stories. It’s a powerful collection of honest interviews about loss from the side of parents and clinicians.

 

October Free-ness!

There’s a lot to love about October:

You’ve got the school run nailed by now. #pro

You get to dress your little ones up outrageously cute for most of the month – and yourself too!

You get to eat your kids Halloween candy once they go to bed (go on, admit it!)

There’s pumpkin spiced lattes in the world again. Oooh and pumpkin pie! Lots of lots of pie! Mmmmm.

These are all great reasons to love October. BUT, the biggest reason we adore October is, it’s KIDS FREE SAN DIEGO month! That means FREE admission to some of the biggest attractions in San Diego throughout the whole of October for your biggest kids – from the San Diego Zoo to the USS Midway Museum.

We don’t know about you, but after a packed summer of fun, and with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas costs looming, this free-ness is sweet music to our ears! You can download your free entry coupon here.

As well as all of these amazing offers, here are some of our favorite FREE family things to do a little closer to home in North County.

  • Firstly, if you don’t already, pick up a copy of Family Magazine next time you are at Babies in Bloom. It doesn’t cost a dime and it’s your new secret mom fun weapon. It is LOADED with events each and every month – a lot of which are free – so get planning!
  • October is prime tide pool season – the tides are often negative or below sea level meaning MUCH more to see! Your little explorers could kill hours on a tide pool adventure. Add a home-made picnic and you have yourself a cheap day out! Check out the best spots in North County here.
  • It’s easy to take the beach for granted when you live so close to it, but why not re-brand a day at the beach. Plan a beach treasure hunt at your local! You can bury colorful ping pong balls, small toys etc and give the big kids clues and directions from the comfort of your beach chair! Just don’t bury any important toys in case you lose them… you know, the kind that will lead to a code red melt-down if lost at sea!
  • If you love babies in Halloween costumes, you’ll love dogs in fancy dress! You and your little people will be all smiles, laughs and ‘awwwwws’ at the FREE Howl-o-Ween Doggie Costume Contest & Parade at Bates Nut Farm on October 29th. batesnutfarm.biz
  • Look out for FREE seasonal kids’ crafts at your local stores – Lakeshore Learning Store for example offers free crafts for ages 3 & up throughout October (702 Center Dr., San Marcos).

And of course, there’s always us at Babies in Bloom. We’re conscious of family budgets all year round, so we like to offer free and low cost services to parents looking for support! Check out our wide range of classes and support groups here and make us part of your Fall plans!

Happy October-ing! And happy saving!