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Health During Pregnancy - SmartMom

Health During Pregnancy: 9 Tips for Expectant Moms

Photo by Abi Porter from Babble

If you’re reading this, most likely you’re already or soon to be pregnant.  And if that’s the case, I’m pretty confident this isn’t the first post you’ve read about how to maintain optimal health during pregnancy.

Beyond that, I would imagine that you have had conversations with your medical professionals about how to maintain health during pregnancy for you and your unborn child.  Here we have a few “less traditional” pieces of advice for staying in great health during pregnancy.

Tune Out the Advice

Obviously, listen to your medical professional’s advice about how to keep your healthy during pregnancy strong, but beyond that, try to turn down the volume from outside observers.  These people do have the best intentions, but you are going through a significant event in your life and should therefore be treated as such: sacred.

Take a break from the parenting blogs (I realize the irony here), put down the pregnancy books and tell your mother-in-law that you have another call coming in.  No matter what, there will always be things you look back on and wish you had known, and that’s all part of the process. Just breathe.

Tune up Your Intuition

When I was pregnant with my son, I really tried to connect with my own inner sense of what felt good and what did not.  If I was feeling tired, I slept.  If I was feeling energetic, I went to the gym.  If I was hungry for a second bowl of cereal, I went for it.  Our bodies know how to do this, and if we listen, they will tell us what we need.

Walk

I exercised throughout my pregnancy, but the only physical activity that I would come to with joy on a daily basis was walking.  My husband and I took long walks with our dog every day and I have to admit these walks were not only great for our relationship, but also prepared me for the insane amount of walking I would do during labor as well as following the birth of our son (walking was one of the only reliable ways to get him to fall asleep).

Eat Nourishing Food

I definitely indulged when I was pregnant, but I never felt more convicted to eat for healthy during pregnancy. I was keenly aware that every bite I took would nourish my son, so I wanted to make sure it was worthy.   Eat fruits, and vegetables, and grains, and healthy fats.   Consider your eating habits during pregnancy your first opportunity to show your child what a healthy diet looks like.

Prioritize the Health of Your Relationship

I know the constant advice of “Go on a date because you will NEVER BE ALONE AGAIN” gets old, but putting some extra effort into your relationship prior to the addition of a child is important.   The most stressful and trying moments of my relationship with my husband came about at 3:00 in the morning over the screams of our son.   Had we not had the foundation of a healthy relationship to fall back on, I’m not sure we would have been able to weather that storm.

Stretch

I purchased a prenatal yoga video within minutes of finding out I was pregnant.   Now granted, prenatal yoga is VERY different when you are four weeks pregnant instead of 40 weeks, but there was nothing more blissful than gentle stretching towards the end of pregnancy.  Once again, listen to your intuition and only do the poses that feel good, but when they do, stick with them.   Spend hours in them if you like.

Rest

This is easier said than done, but whenever you can, grab some shut eye.   So much generative growth happens during sleep (I mean, babies sleep 90% of the day when they are newborns, and you see how fast they grow??), so allowing your body to sleep when it can not only helps you, but helps your baby’s growth and health during pregnancy.

If you can’t sleep in long stretches due to discomfort, do it in spurts.  Invest in a pregnancy pillow.   Create a space completely designated for restorative rest and spend as much time there as you can.  And if you fall asleep while watching movies, that’s okay too.

Hydrate

Once again, you probably already know this, but your body needs water.  Beyond the fact that it’s crucially important to keep hydrated for health during pregnancy, this sets the stage for healthy habits after the birth of your child.

If you choose to breastfeed after the baby is born, you need to doubly hydrate because your body is literally losing a large amount of liquid each feeding.  My doctor told me that with each feeding, I should drink 10 oz. of water to replace what I was losing and that this would help me have more patience with my husband/dog/cable guy etc.  It seriously worked.  I had no idea being dehydrated could have such an impact on my patience, but that was the best advice I’ve ever received.

Love

Love the baby.  Love your partner.  Love the world.  Love yourself.  The world is a scary place and sometimes the thought of bringing a baby into it can be terrifying.  One of the best ways to maintain your sanity and mental health is to practice gratitude and take time to express love to those around you.  It may not create peace in the Middle East (yet), but it will create a happier home for which to welcome your new child.   Above all, love.

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smartmom christmas gift budgeting

Christmas Gift Budgeting: How much should you spend?

Photo by Ariele Alasko

Whether you’re a First Time Mom or veteran with three of more, budgeting your Christmas spending can be difficult.  You want to buy your child something special to show them how much you love them, but you don’t want break the bank.  We asked our SmartMom contributors how they decided to budget their spending this Christmas.  Take a look!

“My budget changes every year and I work hard to keep my spend for each of my kids around the same level. My kids each get one big item each year and then a few smaller gifts. I also limit how many things they can ask Santa for (no more than four). I’m a big bargain hunter, so I tend to watch the sales and specials like a hawk. When I see a good deal for one of the “big” items, I snap it up. The biggest item out of the three helps me set the spending limit with a little cushion for the smaller items.”

Angela Moore

“I always aim for quality over quantity for gifts — so your kids get three presents from us (a “big” gift, a toy and one other present), a stocking and a present from Santa. In deciding how much to spend, we always spend about the same amount on both kids — and then budget based on what our finances allow.”

Sarah Caron

“This year was cheap and easy for us! Our son is only four months old, so our list consisted of necessities and just a few fun, educational toys and books. Most of what we’re getting is stuff we would have bought anyway, like cloth diapers and clothes, but this way we get to watch him tear open the wrapping first!”

Christina Maki

“Our kids each get three gifts: Something they want, something they need, and something to be treasured (like a daddy/daughter date night, or a special homemade gift.) As far as how much money we spend- that totally depends on the year. For example, last year my husband was unemployed, so we spent next to nothing on Christmas gifts because we had next to nothing. However this year we’re living more comfortably and can afford to spend a little more. I think the key is trying to live within your means. Kids are so much fun to shop for, and it’s hard to stop once you’ve started! There are so many amazing sales going on this time of year and I just can’t resist a good deal! My advice? Snag things while they’re marked down, and then put them away to use as birthday presents! It saves money in the long run!”

Jamie Younker

“Our three children, ages four, three, and one, already have so much–toys practically spill out of their playroom.  Our theme for Christmas this year is simplicity.  I’ve come to learn that little ones really don’t need much to be happy.  This year, each child gets a total of five gifts; three from mom and dad and two from Santa with each gift costing around $10-$15.”

Nicolette McKinlay

“First we look at our budget – how things went for the year and how much we have to spend. When our kids were younger (infant and toddler) we spent less and bought more general toys and books (fewer of them). Now that they are Kindergarten and elementary school age, they have more specific interests, and we try to plan ahead and get significant gifts. Sometimes we try to spread it out and start in the earlier fall months so we aren’t spending a lot in just one month.”

Andrea Newell

 

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creating holiday traditions with your new family

Creating Holiday Traditions with your New Family

Traditions are, without a doubt, the primary touchstones of a family history. Creating Holiday traditions with your new family has to be a conscious, intentional decision to follow through on making the holidays special for your kids, no matter how young they are.  Whenever I think of my own childhood, the first things I always think of are the traditions my parents maintained as I grew up.

Listening to my dad reading a Christmas Carol every night for the week before Christmas.

Having a campout in the living room (tent and all) the night before Thanksgiving.

Seeing the Happy Birthday sign draped across the mantle the morning of each family member’s birthday.

Smelling the Irish soda bread baking early in the morning of St. Patrick’s Day.

These are the memories I cherish and the moments I share whenever I talk about my family or childhood. They are also the ones that make me smile when I’m missing my family the most.

Why Are Traditions So Important? 

In a world that is constantly racing to reinvent itself, traditions are the things that can be counted on. The things that make someone feel safe and secure with their family and loved ones. Without traditions, many people can feel lost and unsure of themselves when it comes to big moments. Traditions help make the special moments in life a true treasure to hang onto.

They are so important to my kids, that we have started our own tradition of adding a new tradition each holiday season. Confusing, I know. But my kids love it. Whenever we try or do something new and they really like it, I eventually get asked, “Can we make this a tradition every year?” It makes me feel good that they crave these repeatable, reliable moments with their family each year and it reminds me how important it is to have them on a regular basis for my kids.

When Should You Start Traditions?

I began to carry on the traditions of my childhood as soon as my oldest was born. She was only six weeks old on her first Christmas, but that wasn’t a reason for me to delay creating those special touchstones. I played the music, drove her around to see Christmas lights, watched the movies and read the stories. Many people might say, “Why bother? She’s so young it doesn’t matter.”

But it mattered to me. 

Today, when we put up our Christmas tree or read a special book, my kids tend to ask questions like, “How long have we been doing this?” And I can say with a smile, “For as long as you’ve been alive.” The wonder in their face at that moment is worth the effort. Trust me.

Another reason I started traditions with my kids so young was to train myself to follow through on them. I will confess that there have been a couple of traditions that I didn’t start at the beginning and all these years later I still haven’t made them a piece of our holiday routine. My oldest is ten now so you could say that I’m more than a little behind on it.

There will come a time when my children have grown and they move out of the house and the traditions that we have this year will be replaced with new ones and melded with others. That will be a time that will, truthfully, make me a little sad. But I’m also excited to see what traditions my children carry on in their own families.

 

Need to simplify the holidays? Here you go.

 

RELATED QUESTIONS

I would like opinions about how you ladies manage the holidays? My parents are divorced, my husband’s parents are divorced and we have divorced grandparents yet they all expect us to fit them in and usually they want us to see them on the actual holiday. It’s really hard for me to enjoy the day because it stresses me out so much trying to make everyone happy. I feel like my husband and I should be able to start our own traditions with our son & for others to be more understanding. Thoughts?

So every christmas my husband and I have the same argument. (This is our 3rd christmas with children) he always expects us to do presents in HIS childhood tradition. I’ve tried to compromise a little but when I put my foot down and try to get some of my own traditions in or even start our very own he acts all butt hurt. It makes the holidays no fun for me.

Anyone have to travel to spend holidays with your family? We usually spend few days before and Christmas Day with one family and then few days around New Years with other family. We are thinking of trying Christmas Day at our own house since they are getting bigger. Want to start our own traditions. Wondering what others do.

I know it’s a little ways out, but my SO and I have never been big fans of Halloween. Now that we have a 7m old we want to start traditions for all holidays. What are some traditions you do with your family for Halloween?

The holidays are around the corner and I would like to start a tradition with my son involving helping/giving to those who are less fortunate. He is two years old but is very understanding. We are far from rich but I grew up not having much and I want him to learn the importance of helping others and being humble. What are some ideas or things some of you ladies do with your LO?

“First Holiday Season with a baby (7mo) – How did you celebrate for the first time? Any traditions or things that you recommend that we do or start? I’ve already ordered an ornament with her birth details on it.”

What special holiday traditions do you all do? This Christmas is my first with my family in our own home so I’m excited and want to make it fun for my daughter!

Ok ladies I would like to hear anything you girls did in order to create lasting memories for your children or any special traditions or gifts I could do with/for my baby boy. I bought him a beautiful book called “love you forever” where I will dedicate so he can have it the rest of his life. Any ideas?! Thanks in advance and happy holidays.

Holidays are SOOOOOO MUCH HARDER now that LO is here!! Having to divide every holiday between each family! And it doesn’t help the SO’s family are split up so we have to go to 4 different places on each holiday! I just want to be able to start our own traditions! And if I don’t somehow find a way to make it to everyone it’s MY fault.

I’m upset because my fiancé’s family always gets together on every holiday. I think I’m somewhat jealous because my family isn’t like that. Maybe that’s why I hate going to his family gatherings, because my family never gathers therefore we never do anything with my family. It’s always his. I’m not the biggest fan of his family. I like them, I definitely don’t love them. I put up with them for sake of my relationship. I just wish we could start a few of our own family traditions.

 

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