Tag Archives: motherhood

8 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Kids - SmartMom

8 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Kids

Photo by Julie Adams

The day I held my own wrinkly baby in my arms was the day I finally understood my mother.  I could not contain the emotional waves crashing over me, nor fathom the depth of love I felt for this tiny new being.  I knew my mom must have felt the same way.  Now with three little ones under the age of five, I’m learning daily the incredible difficulty it takes to be a mom and it surprises me how often my own mother’s voice guides my parenting.  All the same tired phrases my mom used to quote, I now wish I could tell my kids.

Mother/child relationships can sometimes be a rocky journey.  As a child, I adored my mom and would follow her to the ends of the earth.  I loved shopping with her and marveled as she pulled coupons, carrot sticks, and lost toys from her purse like Mary Poppins.  Then I became a teenager who knew everything and she knew nothing.  When I went away to college, mom once again became the omniscient expert on laundry, cooking, roommate disputes, and the boys that were and were not worth keeping around.

I used to roll my eyes at the following adages; now I embrace them.  I finally understand what my mom was trying to say—I finally get just how much love can be intertwined between mother and child.  So to my own little ones, here are eight things my mom said to me that I will inevitably say to you, over and over again.   One day, you’ll understand.

  1. “Eat!  There are starving children in Africa!”  If you could only comprehend how much effort goes into preparing you healthy meals.  I may not show it, but it hurts every time you say, “Yuck!”
  2. “You can go first.”  You may not notice yet, but moms take one for the team…a lot.  I am the last to eat, and my dinner is often cold.  I make sure each of you gets a cookie before I take one, and if there are no cookies left, I’m okay with that.  I’m also okay with being the gumdrop when we play Candy Land, because for some reason, no one ever wants the gumdrop.
  3. “I do it because I love you.”  It’s not fun being “the meanest mom in the world”, and it aches each time you call me that.  But in order to keep you safe and help you become a responsible individual, sometimes I need to say “no.”
  4. “Here, let me help.”  I see you struggling to color within the lines or write that “Z” in your name.  You push me away because you want to do it your way.  Please be patient with me; I only want to help you discover the world.  Plus, I’m actually pretty good at writing Zs….
  5. “When I was your age…”  From time to time, I may impart bits of wisdom on you, and you will most definitely cringe.  Humor me; these are valuable lessons I have learned and they may come in handy some day.  It’s bizarre, but I was your age once.
  6. I just want what’s best for you.”  I worry about you all the time.  Sometimes I can’t sleep because I worry about your safety, your future; I worry about being a good mom to you.  So when I get a little paranoid or snippety, understand that you are the most important thing in the world to me and you deserve the best.
  7. “I am your biggest fan.”   I am that loud mom, cheering relentlessly from the bleachers—the one you’ll pretend you don’t know.  It may be annoying, but just know that with every first crawl, first step, first word, I’ll be cheering you on.  At every dance recital, soccer game, and spelling bee, I will be your number one fan, and whether you win or lose, I’m happy just to be there.
  8. “I will love you forever, no matter what.”  From the instant I first felt you flutter, to the moment they laid you in my arms, I fell head over heels in love.  You are a miracle and there is nothing you could do to change the deep, intrinsic love I have for you.  Even when you say my food is yucky, even when you call me mean.  I will always and forever be your momma and I will always love you.

Ever get frustrated when your kids don’t listen to these? Don’t lose your cool, we’re here to help.

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SmartMom: pumping in secret

Pumping in Secret: One Working Mom’s Embarrassing Story

Photo by Sydney Everett

Being a working mom comes with a variety of challenges. One of the most difficult is figuring out how to keep your baby fed and happy while you’re at work. My first baby was supplemented with formula, but when my second baby came along, I decided I would try to pump at work. But I ended up pumping in secret.

Being an elementary school teacher, there were not many opportunities for me to slip away from my students to pump.  For weeks I suffered through embarrassing leaks and uncomfortable engorgement. My husband told me I just needed to talk to my principal about the situation, tell him I’m breastfeeding and that I need time to pump. To which I always replied, “No way! I can’t say the word breast in front of my principal! I’ll figure it out on my own!”

Thankfully there were a few other teachers who took their classes out to recess at the same time I did who were kind enough to offer to watch my class while I took care of business.

At first I attempted pumping in the faculty bathroom… but it didn’t take long for me to realize it was not the ideal location. For one thing, there was nowhere to sit other than the toilet, which, besides being uncomfortable, didn’t seem like the most sanitary place to pump. Also, it turns out the echoing acoustics of a public restroom didn’t exactly provide the discrete, private atmosphere I was hoping for. When it was brought to my attention that anyone within 100 yards of me could hear the ironic “mooing” sound of my electric pump resonating down the hall, I quickly moved my pumping sessions to the comfort of my classroom. It was quiet, secluded, and relaxing…and it worked for me.

Until one fateful day there was an incident out on the playground with one of my students. Let’s call him Bobby, for all intents and purposes. It was my job to prevent these kinds of situations from happening. My principal went from mildly upset to foaming at the mouth when he confronted Bobby, “What did Mrs. Younker have to say about your behavior on the playground?”

Bobby replied innocently, “Mrs. Younker wasn’t out at recess. I haven’t seen her at recess for weeks.”

With steam coming out of his ears, the principal marched down the hall to my classroom, fully prepared to give me a piece of his mind. When he came to my door he was surprised to find it was locked. Without even thinking of the various reasons WHY it might be locked, he whipped out his master key…

Up until that moment I had been sitting at my desk, hooked up to my machine like a cow in a dairy farm. Suddenly, I heard the door rattling, as if someone was struggling to get it open. Frantically, I yanked my shirt down, ignoring the streams of white milk now cascading down my torso. In one fell swoop I leaped up from my chair and shoved myself as far away from the pump as possible.

Just then the principal bounded into the room. “There was a problem with Bobby on the playground.” He said, each word dripping heavily with accusation.

“Oh no.” My voice caught in my throat as I asked, “What happened?” Just then, I looked down and realized that although I had managed to pull my shirt down, my bra was still twisted and bunched around my neck. I could feel heat rushing to my face as I casually crossed my arms over my chest, hoping to hide the damage.

“Do you want to explain to me why you weren’t there? Why you haven’t been out to recess in weeks? “

“Well….” I stammered, “I … uh…”

“It is your responsibility to be out on the playground with your kids every day.”

“I know… I just…” At that moment I realized I had to choose between complete and utter embarrassment, or my job reputation.

“I had to pump!” I blurted out.

At first he looked confused. Then, for the first time since he barged in, he took a good look around the room. His eyes fixed on the bottles of milk sitting visibly on my desk. His face turned a deep shade of red as realization dawned on him.

There we stood, the very definition of awkward, shuffling our feet back and forth waiting in agony for the other person to say something. Finally, he turned to me, careful to keep his gaze at eye level, and said, “Yeah… uh…we need to find a time and place for you to do that.”

And with that he turned and left… and avoided me for the rest of the week.

Let this be a lesson to you ladies. Don’t be afraid to talk to your employer about your needs as a new mother. Turns out, they are required to give you time to pump– It’s the law. Don’t worry, you are probably not the first person in the world to bring up the subject, and it is far easier to have a slightly uncomfortable conversation now than it is to have an extremely uncomfortable conversation later. Trust me.

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smartmom how does social media influence parenting

How does Social Media Influence Parenting?

Social media, a term that is used to define communicating and networking with others through the internet using a website site such as Facebook or Twitter, has completely changed the world.  In particular, it’s influence on parenting is enormous.  I instinctively keep things to 140 characters and assume everyone I meet can be added to my list of friends on Facebook. Social media has influenced my life in every respect, some things for the better, and some things for the worse.  So how exactly does social media influence parenting? 

Personal Experience

When it comes to parenting, social media sites are my ‘go-to’ resource. Perhaps traditional parenting books will always maintain their own strong following, but social media is giving them a run for their money.

As soon as we decided we would try to conceive, the internet was the first place I looked for information. I joined online forums where I could connect with other moms, who then invited me to join multiple Facebook pages and follow many Twitter handles. I became a thirsty sponge for knowledge about everything baby related as soon as we decided to attempt having a baby. My uterus wasn’t even occupied yet, but I was already joining Breastfeeding Support pages on Facebook in hopes that one day I would have these ladies around to help me.

For Better

In general, social media has influenced my parenting for the better. Pregnancy and parenting unite people. You could have absolutely nothing else in common with another person except that you both have a child or are pregnant and suddenly you are so very much the same.

It was through social media that I was able to find people going through the same experiences I was, and was able to connect with them. I had no friends who were pregnant and was looking to talk to someone besides my husband and mom. I joined an amazing Facebook group for moms who were all due within the same month. We supported each other, grieved many losses, celebrated healthy births, asked thousands of questions that we were too embarrassed to even ask our own doctors, and even collected money for a mom who lost everything when she came home to an empty house. I’ve never met these women in my life but I gladly handed over $20 to help this woman I had come to ‘know’. That’s how powerful social media is.

When I was having difficulty in the early days of breastfeeding, I knew at any time of day I could go on Twitter, ask a world renowned breastfeeding expert a question and have an answer almost immediately. Any stressed out mom sitting on the couch at 3am, looking for reassurance that everything is going to be alright, can connect on Twitter and feel better instantly through the right connections.

I have built my Twitter followers to include many different people but have made sure I have a lot of moms so when I put my question out there, someone can answer it for me.

For Worse

The downside of social media (in terms of parenting) is that it can also portray inaccurate information. I have friends who, according to Facebook, look like they have it all together. It seems like they have it all: a great marriage, beautiful children, a home, and a stable career.  But I know the truth: they’re battling depression, their father is dying a slow death, and they have been suffering from infertility issues. Facebook and Pinterest specifically (because of the graphics) can make you feel like less of a mother for not having a perfectly clean house, for not wearing makeup all the time, or for not having the extra money for that amazing family vacation that everyone else is going on.

Social media has the potential to draw out the angry green monster in all of us. As parents, we should never compare our parenting to someone else. If breastfeeding works for you, but your friend announces via social media that they formula feed, who are you to judge? Every child, family, and situation is different.  Unfortunately, these are difficult lessons to learn.

Overall, social media is a very useful tool. I can’t imagine what my life would be without pictures of my beautiful daughter plastered all over Facebook for friends and family to enjoy, what life without Twitter in general would be like, or what loosing hundreds of amazing online friendships would do to me.

I can honestly say that I am a better parent because of the knowledge I have gained and support I have been given through social media. I have friends online who know me and my daughter better than some people I see every day.  Honestly, I can’t imagine my life as a mother any other way.

See how Chelsea Campbell uses social media!

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Find a Good Babysitter - SmartMom

How to Find a Good Babysitter

I can still remember the first time I left my baby with someone else.  She was eleven months old and my husband and I were going on a much-needed cruise.  I cried from the moment we pulled out of our driveway to the moment we pulled into the port, over 100 miles away.

We would be gone for 120 hours…five days, but every hour absent from her seemed monumental.  She was in great hands with my mother-in-law, but I felt like I was abandoning her.   I was the only one in the world who knew that when my baby girl tugged on her left ear, it meant she wanted her Lovey Bunny.  Only I knew the exact temperature her bottle needed to be and that she had an aversion to the color purple.

Keeping my overzealousness in check, I painfully waited 45 minutes to call and check on her.  To my amazement and chagrin, baby girl was not screaming, but cooing happily for grandma.  I was almost hurt by the fact that she didn’t seem to care I was gone.

However, once I shrugged off my sensitivities, I had a fantastic vacation, grandma got some special one-on-one time with her grandbaby, and everyone was safe and happy.  This experience taught me that not only is it okay to leave little ones with a responsible babysitter, but it is necessary in order to recharge your own battery and strengthen spouse relationships. My daughter is now four years old, and now has a little brother and baby sister.  Needless to say, we have mastered the art of finding a good babysitter.

Leaving your small children with a babysitter can be scary, especially for the first time. Here are a few tips to help you find a good babysitter for your family.

  • Get referrals.  Ask friends and family for babysitters that they trust and employ on a regular basis.  Ask for specifics on what they like about that particular babysitter.
  • Request an application.  Babysitting is a job, so don’t feel strange asking for applications.  Request basic information, previous experience, and references.  This way you can keep a file of sitters you like for quick and easy access.
  • Check references.  Don’t be afraid to call or meet with references listed on the application.  A conversation with another mom about a potential babysitter can tell you more than what is written on paper.
  • Interview potential sitters.  Once you’ve narrowed down a few prospects, interview them over the phone or in person.  Ask about their experience with children and what they would do if certain situations arose, such as choking, injury, discipline, etc.
  • Observe them with children.  The benefit about home interviews is that you can watch candidates interact with your children.  Are they playful?  Comfortable around children?   Observation can help give you that “gut feeling” when it comes to choosing a babysitter.
  • Babysitting training courses.  Look for individuals who have completed babysitter training courses, like this one offered by the American Red Cross.  Many local hospitals and YMCAs offer similar courses that cover child care safety, age-appropriate games, and how to handle emergencies.  Some even offer a 2-year certification in Pediatric First Aid and CPR.

Now that we have three children under the age of four, my husband and I need a regular date night.  Having a file of babysitters we know and trust makes it much easier to enjoy a night out.  If you do your research and put in a little time, you will find someone wonderful that both you and your children will come to love.

RELATED QUESTIONS

Can anyone recommend a good site to seek a babysitter?

Who babysits when you all go on Date Night? What sites are good to find a babysitter!?

I’m getting a molar extracted. Am I going to be on excruciating pain after the numbness wears off? I have a 22 month old and 5 month old to take care of. Wondering if I should enlist the help of a babysitter or will it not be that bad?

Looking for a babysitter in the Washingtonville area. Flexible hours. I will be returning to work April or May. Any info will help. Thanks.

I have a toddler son and I work and go to school at night. I live with my mom and she watches him while I’m at work/school. I hate the idea of daycare or babysitters. I’m not that trusting. I feel like I should be doing more to support my son because my mom helps a lot with money. Should I get over my fear of daycares?

I saw a girl at a park who was a babysitter and looked young (around 18) but very good with the kid. We need a sitter. She is cheap but doesn’t know CPR and my hubby doesn’t want her because of it. But money is tight so a really experienced sitter may charge a lot more.. I feel like interaction with the kid is really important and she was great. What do I do?

I live in Texas and I need a babysitter for my 2months old does anyone knows a good sitter? I am so apprehensive in leaving my baby with anyone.

I have a 6 week old baby and I go back to work soon on 3rd shift! I know this is the worst shift to work but right now I have no choice! I was wondering what would be a good price to pay for a babysitter?

What age do you mommas like your babysitters to be? Girls (we don’t have many boy sitters) around my area usually start babysitting around 12 , which I think is fine if the kids are a bit older (like 3+) but I think 15+ is a good age. What do you think?

We are wanting to switch babysitters and I’m wondering if anyone has advice on how to tell the current sitter that we are going to a new sitter. She is a friend of the family, but she just has too many kids and we know he’ll get more attention at the new sitter’s.Has anyone gone through this?
 

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