All posts by Autumn Green

About Autumn Green

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

A smiling, elderly man talking on the phone

How Long-Distance Grandparents Can Stay Involved

It’s tough when your children leave the nest for a faraway land, whether that’s the next state over or across the world. It’s even worse when they take your beautiful, beloved grandchild with them.

Few things hurt the heart as much as being separated from your child’s little one, but don’t despair! You can still have a significant, loving relationship with your grandchild, even from miles away.

Here are eight top tips for grandparents to keep the connection strong despite the distance.

1. Skype (or FaceTime)!

If you have a smartphone, tablet or a modern laptop computer, you probably have the ability to video chat. This is about as close as you can get to a face-to-face interaction with your grandchild. Schedule a time with their parents that works for all parties, then simply make the call.

The great thing about video chatting is that it’s appropriate for kids of all ages. Your grandchild may only be at the babbling stage of communication, but what matters most is that you get to see him or her in real time.

2. Start a text chain

Text messages are better for carrying on lengthy conversations. Because neither party has to respond immediately, you can chat with your grandchild at length about whatever you want, serious or silly. Of course, this method of contact only works if the little one knows how to speak and spell. If your grandchild is too young to type, stick to video chat for now.

3. Be pen pals

This is a great way to engage your grandchild when he or she starts learning to write. Kids love getting mail from anyone, but a letter from a grandparent holds special meaning. Being a pen pal helps you maintain a relationship with your grandchild while helping him or her develop their writing skills. You can write about nearly anything, just as long as you always respond.

A young boy writing on a piece of paper.Be your grandchild’s pen pal and help him or her learn to write.

4. Participate in an activity, then talk about it together

Just because you and your grandchild live far away doesn’t mean you can’t talk about shared experiences. Organize activities where the two of you do the same thing but in different locations. See the same movie, read the same book, go to a local zoo or something similar. Then, call your grandchild on the phone and talk about the experience.

5. Personalize birthday cards

Show your grandchild you care by remembering their birthday each and every time. Go beyond a standard Hallmark card and add a personal element by making your own. Get your crafting on with cardstock, stickers and glitter!

6. Visit when you can

“Nothing soothes the heart quite like a visit in person, so try to see your grandchild at least once a year.”

While the above five suggestions are all great options, nothing soothes the heart quite like a visit in person. If you’re still able to travel, try to get out to see your grandchild at least once a year. If not, ask your family to come visit you. Stock your home with fun toys and treats so your little one is eager to come see you. Kids love seeing grandma and grandpa when snacks and sweets are involved!

7. Focus on your relationship with your grandchildren

It happens – sometimes you think the other set of grandparents gets more attention than you do. This may actually be true, particularly if they live in the same city as your grandchild. Don’t get jealous, and don’t let this detail discourage you. Stay positive and focus on maintaining a healthy, loving relationship with your family. Otherwise, your emotions may seep out on the rare occasions you do get to see your grandchild, which isn’t fun for anybody.

8. Learn to live outside of your grandchildren

Remember, your time raising kids is over, especially if you and your partner are long-distance grandparents. This means it’s OK to have a life outside of your grandchildren. In fact, it’s healthy to do so!

Even if your grandkids lived nearby, they’ll eventually grow up and spend less time with you. As such, it’s important to have local friends and hobbies outside of them. If you don’t know where to start, head to a local recreation center or search online for meet-ups about activities that you enjoy.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it also puts a strain on your relationship with your grandchild.

Use these eight tips for grandparents to keep the bond going strong and stay connected with your little one. You may not be able to see your family every day, but they’ll certainly love you just as much.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

Let your child enjoy the summer with these cool tips.

Keeping Your Baby Cool and Cute in the Summer

The summer is past its peak, but it’s not over yet. In fact, as The Weather Channel explained, some areas of the U.S. have to wait until September to reach their highest temperatures. This means there’s plenty of time for fun left, but it’s also important to keep summer safety in mind. Here’s how to keep your child cool and cute:

Grab a light wardrobe

Kids’ fashion has come a long way, so you have the chance to get really creative. You can dress your toddler like a super-chic Anna Wintour in the making, or grab a sleeveless flannel shirt and some baby Doc Martens for a mini-punk look. Just make sure the clothes you choose are summer-appropriate. The right cuts and fabric keep your child cool and help prevent heat-related illnesses.

When shopping for a summer wardrobe, choose loose, breezy fabrics made from 100 percent cotton. Avoid dark colors like black and navy; such hues absorb heat, increasing your little one’s body temperature. Opt for sturdy footwear with thick soles, especially if your toddler likes to climb and explore.

Also, if you plan to stay home all day and aren’t expecting any visitors, feel free to let your child run around naked! Just make sure to lather your baby up with sunscreen before going into the backyard – clothes or no clothes. The Environmental Working Group has a list of 19 baby sunscreen products with top ratings, so your summer safety regimen won’t include any harsh chemicals.

A pile of baby clothes in light shades of green, blue and pink.Choose cotton fabrics in a light colors to keep your toddler cool.

Guard against bugs and poisonous plants

Bug bites and the itchy, inflamed skin they leave behind are probably the least-liked aspect of summer. What’s worse, the number of insects infected with diseases is on the rise. This past June, a press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an increased number of disease-carrying mosquitoes were seen across the southern U.S. this year. These insects are known for spreading Zika virus, West Nile virus, Dengue fever and many other illnesses.

If you live in a grassy or wooded area, you must also look out for ticks. These pesky bloodsuckers are notorious for spreading Lyme disease, which affects the joints, heart and nervous system if left untreated. Additionally, toddlers that are allergic to bee stings need to be exceptionally careful in spring and summer.

To keep your toddler safe from insects, coat your child with an insect repellant. The brand you choose doesn’t matter, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends repellant with at least 10 percent DEET, the active ingredient. A higher concentration doesn’t increase your child’s protection; the repellant just lasts longer. A product with 10 percent DEET lasts for about two hours, while one with 30 percent lasts around five hours.

Below are a few other bug safety tips:

  • Ditch scented soaps and sprays, which might attract insects, for fragrance-free versions.
  • Avoid areas where bugs tend to nest, including pools of water (mosquitos), summer-blooming flowers (bees) and wooded areas (ticks).
  • Stay inside during mornings and evenings when gnats and mosquitos are most active.
Toddlers chasing bubbles outside.Use an insect repellent with a DEET concentration of 10 to 30 percent.

Prevent heat-related illnesses

According to the CDC, children under 4 are most at risk for developing a heat-related illness. These ailments include heat rash, sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and symptoms range from small red blisters to nausea, headaches and possible loss of consciousness. Below are the specific symptoms of each, as well as treatment options, from the CDC:

IllnessSymptomsTreatment
Heat rash
  • Small, red blisters
  • Baby power
Sunburn
  • Painful, red skin
  • Blisters
  • Leave blisters to heal naturally
  • Keep the skin moisturized
  • Stay out of the sun until the burn heals
Heat cramps
  • Heavy sweating
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Stop physical activity
  • Drink water or a sports drink
  • If cramps last more than one hour, seek medical attention
Heat exhaustion
  • Heavy sweating
  • Pale, cold, clammy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fainting
  • Exhaustion
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Move to a cool place
  • Remove clothes and drape body with cool, wet cloth
  • Take a cool bath
  • Sip water
  • Seek medical attention if your toddler throws up, if symptoms get worse or if symptoms last more than one hour
Heat stroke
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Headache
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Hot, red, dry or damp skin
  • Body temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Call 911 immediately
  • Move to a cool place
  • Lower temperature with cool cloths or a bath
  • Don’t provide anything to drink

Of course, as with any medical condition, prevention is always best. Use the following tips to improve your toddler’s summer safety and avoid heat-related illnesses:

  • Dress your toddler in breathable, lightweight clothing that’s light in color.
  • Use cool, but not cold, water when bathing your child.
  • Stay indoors when it’s overly sunny and warm. Sunlight is strongest at noon, but the temperature doesn’t reach its peak until about 3 p.m.
  • Give your toddler plenty of access to cool (not cold) water.
  • Never leave your child in a parked car, even if the window is open.

Enjoying the last bit of summer

Summer is officially over on Sept. 22, so you’ve still got about a month to enjoy the season. Choose the right clothes, grab a bottle of baby sunscreen, protect yourselves from bugs and heat, and you’re ready to make the most of the last few weeks of the season.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

Casual woman typing on the smartphone in the city.

13 Mommy Instagrammers You Need To Follow

Instagram has something for everyone: outdoor adventurers, celebrity followers and, of course, moms. This visual platform is a great source inspiration for moms everywhere, whether you’re looking for cute outfit ideas or new nursery decorations. Here are 13 mommy Instagrammers you absolutely must follow:

1. Laura Izumikawa (@lauraiz)

It’s not hard to see how Laura Izumikawa and her adorable daughter, Joey, became Instagram’s most popular mother-daughter pair. Laura, a Southern California-based lifestyle and wedding photographer, began posting pictures of little napping Joey on her Instagram.

These weren’t your standard cute snapshots, however. Laura would wait until Joey was sound asleep, then dress her up in costumes of pop culture icons.

Joey’s a bit too big and Laura’s a bit too busy for consistent naptime, but don’t worry. Laura’s Instagram feed is cute moments, and the pair have a book chronicling Joey’s best costumes.

2. Ilana Wiles (@mommyshorts)

If you’re looking for a little humor, Ilana Wiles has you covered. She’s candid about parenting, willingly admitting that it’s not as glamorous as other moms on Instagram. Still, her feed is chock full of typical mom things like beautiful locations, a spotless home and lots of color.

Want more? Check out Ilana’s book, “Remarkably Average Parenting,” and her second Instagram feed @averageparentproblems.

3. Hannah Carpenter (@hannahcarpenter)

Hannah Carpenter isn’t just a freelance illustrator and stay-at-home mom, she’s also a teacher for her homeschooled children. Three jobs for one woman sounds like a lot, but Hannah makes it look easy. Her children range in age from childhood to teenager, so even moms with older children can find a lot of inspiration. Don’t forget to check out her blog full of interesting products to make parenting easier.

4. Ileana Sosa (@thespeciallifeofus)

Ileana Sosa’s daughter, Giselle, received multiple diagnoses throughout her first few years of life: microcephaly, congenital ventriculomegaly and cerebral palsy. Ileana’s Instagram and blog of the same name chronicle the setbacks and triumphs of parenting when your child is in and out of the hospital. Illeana and Giselle bring hope to all parents of disabled children, showing them a bright side of parenthood filled with love.

5. Dana Ferrer (@livebeautifulmama)

Dana Ferrer and her daughter Ava don’t have some of the major brand backing of other moms on this list, but that doesn’t mean she’s less deserving of a follow. Dana’s beautiful self portraits, travel photos and snapshots of Ava celebrate the complex and sometimes contradictory elements of motherhood: love for child and love for self.

6. James Kicinski-McCoy (@bleubird)

Former vintage clothing store owner James Kicinski-McCoy turned her shop’s companion blog into the popular lifestyle website Bleubird. She’s also the co-creator and editor-in-chief of the mom-focused website Mother. Her Instagram is full of minimalist decor inspiration, comfy outfits for moms on the go and snapshots of her family.

7. Hannah Jeng (@happilyeverlyafter)

Hannah Jeng knows why you’re on Instagram: for endless photos of adorable children. Her feed is devoid of all the carefully curated shots of home and mom. Instead, it’s just picture after picture of her hilarious, outgoing little ones.

8. Joni Lay (@laybabylay)

Need some bedroom and nursery inspiration? Check out Joni Lay, whose Instagram and blog feature all sorts of design tips and tricks. The pictures she posts are bright, youthful and full of household items you’ll want to add to your wishlist.

 

9. Latonya Yvette (@latonyayvette)

Stylist, writer and lifestyle blogger Latonya Yvette began documenting life as a young mother, both in terms of child care and self care. Latonya’s Instagram is full of fashionable selfies, snapshots of her native Brooklyn and adorable images of her children.

10.  Joy Cho (@ohjoy)

If you’ve been inside a Target recently, you’ve probably seen some of Joy Cho’s work. The graphic designer first rose to fame through blogging and Pinterest, and a series of successes led her to create her own home decor line Oh Joy! Her Instagram is filled with bright colors – pink appears to be a favorite – and matches her patterned design aesthetic.

11. Camillia Courts (@disneyinspiredphoto)

Are you or your little one obsessed with Anna, Ariel and Belle? Do you live life like a Disney princess … or would you like to, if given the option? Check out Camillia Courts’ Instagram, where you’ll see her daughter Layla dressed as a new princess each month. The craftsmanship on display is stunning, and Camilla herself will sometimes make a cameo.

12. Kersey Campbell (@andweplay)

Crafter extraordinaire Kersey Campbell created And We Play as a DIY resource for moms looking for creative activities to do with their children. Her bright, happy Instagram makes every day feel like summer and leave you dreaming of sweet treats that are easy to make.

13. Tiff (@tiff_thebarbie)

Barbie’s had every job in the world, so it shouldn’t be surprising that she’s also an Instagram mom. Tiff, as she’s known on this account, is a momma of two with another on the way. She and her family do everything together, from group trips to attending ultrasound appointments to dog shelter adoption extravaganzas. Although Tiff’s life isn’t real, she perfectly encapsulates life as a modern mom on Instagram.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

Young pregnant women with a sweet golden retriever.

A Sixth Sense?! How Cats and Dogs React To Pregnancy

You may have heard this story from other moms or experienced it yourself during your first pregnancy:  On what was otherwise a normal day, the family pet suddenly starts acting weird. For some reason, the dog won’t let anyone else around its human mom – not even her husband. Meanwhile, the cat is being uncharacteristically affectionate, curling up on the female owner’s belly – yet she still hisses when the man tries to pick her up. What’s going on?

The man and woman in this story realize they’re expecting a few weeks later, and that’s when the theories start flying. Do Rover and Mittens know mom is pregnant? Do they have some sort of sixth sense?

It’s not uncommon for pet owners-turned-parents to suspect their furry child has a psychic link to mom’s womb, clueing them into the presence of a baby before anyone even thinks of a pregnancy test. Here, we’ll delve into the science behind this phenomenon and share some cute stories of pets and newborns.

A pregnant woman holding a pet dog next to her belly.Pets can have a variety of reactions to your pregnancy.

Can dogs sense pregnancy?

Man’s best friend is surprisingly aware of changes in the human body. Some studies show dogs can be trained to detect cancer based on the smell of a human’s breath or urine. They also may be able to detect an oncoming seizure, although the research is inconclusive.

But can your pup double as a pregnancy test?

Turns out, your dog may be able to sense one pregnancy-related change before you can: your scent. Changes in your body chemistry alters you natural odor – a smell your dog knows very well. A slight shift tells your canine that something is up, although it may not know what exactly has changed.

In fact, most behavior changes occur after mom starts experiencing the visual and physical effects of pregnancy. This may cause the pup to change in kind. It may get more impatient with shorter walks or become overprotective – possibly to the point of being overbearing – of you and your developing child. Most dogs simply become more supportive, making sure you don’t exert yourself and eagerly anticipating the new baby.

Can cats sense pregnancy?

We expect unconditional love from dogs, but what about finicky felines? Cats can have an attitude about a different brand of food, so surely a new human in the home will shock their system.

While cats are more likely to vary in their reactions to pregnancy than dogs, they don’t necessarily become more aggressive.

“It’s harder to pinpoint the cause of behavior changes in cats.”

Is your cat more affectionate because you’re pregnant, or did it just take her seven years to realize that she loves you? Is she upset over the new baby or because you were late feeding her this morning?

As it turns out, cats learn that you’re pregnant the same way that dogs do: changes in your hormones. Some cats, like many dogs, become more protective and affectionate. Others act less rambunctious, as though they know that the last thing you want to deal with is claw marks on the couch. Your cat might even curl up on your belly while pregnant, though this may just be because you’re warm and comfy.

That said, cats may also get jealous of your incoming baby and start acting out.

Keeping pets calm during pregnancy

A pet can make pregnancy even more difficult, but there are steps you can take to make the situation as smooth as possible.

Your best course of action is to stick to a familiar routine as much as you can. Keep up the daily dog walks, and make sure your cat still gets lots of love. Pets are creatures of habit, and routines keep them comfortable even when other things change.

If this doesn’t work, you may need the help of a pet behaviorist. Check out some local mom forums or veterinarians for trainers with experience introducing pets to new babies.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

Family looking at train at subway station in Prague

What To Consider When Traveling With A Stroller

There’s no denying that strollers are some of the most helpful baby-related accessories you’ll buy, but they also become an absolute nuisance sometimes. If you’ve ever seen a woman try to bring one on a plane, you certainly know the struggle. When shopping for the best stroller to travel with, you’ll need to consider your daily lifestyle and any sort of vacations you plan to take while your baby is young. Then, think about how a stroller will affect your travel plans.

Here’s what city moms, suburban moms and vacationing moms should consider when traveling with a stroller:

If you live in the city

City living is all about maneuverability. Whether you’re awkwardly getting around tourists, shoving yourself onto a packed train or trying to avoid a speeding car, you need to be able to stay quick on your feet.

That’s why the best strollers for living in the city are lightweight and foldable. They’re easy to push around and, once your little one is able to stand on her own, can be folded up to fit in a smaller space. This is incredibly convenient for when you’re traveling on the bus or the train – especially during rush hour as you get your toddler home from daycare. Look for strollers made of aluminum, which is much lighter than steel.

If you live in the suburbs or country

Public transportation and crowded sidewalks probably aren’t a problem where you live. In fact, you’ll probably be doing most of your transportation by car – and you’ll need a stroller to fit.

Many driving parents swear by travel systems: strollers that convert to car seats and, in some cases, carrycots. The car seat detaches from your vehicle and snaps on to a lightweight frame, turning it into a stroller. This way, you don’t have to continuously buckle and unbuckle your toddler every time you get in and out of the car.

Happy young family taking a walk in a park, back view. Family holding hands walking together along forrest path with their daughter, father pushing the pram

Keep in mind, however, that you don’t want to leave your little one in the car seat for too long. The constant pressure from sitting with her head flat against the back can lead to plagiocephaly, otherwise known as flat head syndrome. Make sure she gets some tummy time every few hours, both for her head and her upper body strength and motor skills. Studies show babies who don’t spend enough time on their bellies tend to have delayed motor functions.

If you’re going on vacation

Planes, trains and busses have certain methods regarding traveling with a stroller, and it’s best to be aware of them.

Each airline determines its own stroller rules, and they all differ slightly. To get the full scoop, check the website of your carrier. But, while you’re at it, here are some general recommendations compiled from consumer advisory website TSA Travel Tips:

  • Try to bring only one stroller. Some airlines only allow one per customer on the plane, while others let you bring more for an additional fee.
  • If you want to bring a stroller on board with you, make sure it can fold up to the size of a standard carry-on bag.
  • Larger strollers must be checked either curbside, at the check-in counter or at the gate.
  • Note that a lot of airlines – but not all of them – include a disclaimer saying that any damage to checked strollers won’t be covered.

Similarly, different train stations have their own stroller rules. Amtrak, the biggest, lets you bring a stroller for free if you’re traveling with a child under 2 years old. The stroller doesn’t count against your carry-on limit.

Meanwhile, Greyhound busses let you bring strollers and car seats onboard. Some busses have lap and shoulder harnesses which allow you to attach your car seat with them.

Easy traveling with a stroller

Bringing baby along for the ride doesn’t have to be a nightmare. As long as you have the right stroller for the occasion and understand child-related travel rules, you should have no trouble at all.

Just remember to bring plenty of snacks and toys for when your little one puts up a fuss!

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

A man is sitting on the floor and assembling the baby crib on his own

5 Tips You Can’t Forget When Building a Baby Registry

Building a baby registry is supposed to be one of the fun parts of pregnancy, right? Yet so many mothers struggle to figure out what exactly to put on their lists. Your registry should be done after a leisurely afternoon, not months of revisions.

To make the process simple and enjoyable, here are five tips you shouldn’t forget when making your baby registry:

1. Start with the must-haves

Go to any shopping website targeting new moms and you’ll see hundreds of cool, shiny objects competing for your interest – and you’ll feel like you need every single one of them. A jogging stroller, travel system and a rough terrain stroller? Of course – you never know when you’ll take your baby hiking or on a road trip. Steam-powered bottle sterilizer? Certainly – an old-school pot of boiling water just won’t do.

Before you get carried away with the extras, focus on the must-haves. List one stroller, one diaper bag, one burp cloth, etc. Once you have those nailed down, then you can start padding your registry with fun extras.

2. Remember the messy stuff

Let’s face it – babies can be downright gross at times. Drool, vomit, dirty diapers and endless snot are simple facts of life. It’s good to keep this in mind when creating your registry so that you don’t fill your list with only cute or convenient things like toys and blankets. Diapers are an obvious must-have, but don’t forget about diaper cream and rubber suction bulb syringes.

A sick baby with a fever. Don’t forget about the things you’ll need when your baby is sick.

3. View a product in person before committing it to your registry

How frustrating would it feel to find what looks like the perfect registry item online, only to open it during your baby shower and find out it’s nothing like you imagined? Maybe the quality is lacking, or the color is less vibrant and more dull and dreary?

See if you can find the product in stores before adding it to your list of must-haves. If possible, take it for a mini test run. Maneuver the floor model of a stroller to get a feel for how smooth it is, or pick up a baby carrier to test its weight.

4. Listen to other parents, not products

Every diaper brand says it’s the best at preventing leaks, but they can’t all be No. 1. The best reviews come not from commercials but from other moms. And lucky you, there are tons of forums, blogs and other resources online full of parents ready and waiting to impart their wisdom.

If you have a product in mind, head to Google and search “[product name] review” to get a seemingly endless list of opinions. If not, there are tons of blogs with top-10 lists for every item you can imagine to help you choose.

5. Think beyond the first few months

Yes, you’ll need tons of diapers, newborn clothes and other items for when your baby first comes home, but what about after that? If you rely on your registry to supply everything you need without thinking about how your little one will grow, you’ll quickly run out of appropriately sized clothes and diapers.

If you really want to prepare, put things on your registry that you’ll need throughout your baby’s first year of life. (After a year, most baby items on the market will be updated in terms of style or functionality.) A list like this may not supply everything you need during the first month, but it’ll help prepare you for the 11 after that.

Don’t let the thought of creating the perfect registry add more stress to your life. Just set aside a breezy afternoon and consult these tips to make choosing items a breeze!

Looking for more baby registry tips? Check out this advice from thrifty mom Angela Wynne of BabyCheapskate.com!

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

a mom holding her baby

9 Thoughts You’ve Probably Had While Parenting

Oh, motherhood. It has its highs and lows, and there never seems to be anything in between. Thoughts of new mothers like yourself often range between extremes, from adoring love to absolute frustration. Here are nine thoughts practically every mom has had about her new little infant:

1. “I’m a superhero.”

After nine months of developing a tiny human being – not to mention however many grueling hours spent delivering it into the world – you’re bound to feel like you can handle anything. It’s an awesome feeling when that emotion is fueled by everything you do right – when you correctly guess whether your baby is hungry, gassy or just missing her toy, when she latches on during the first try, when she and your long-time pet companion bond instantly. Motherhood isn’t so bad, is it?

2. “I am the worst mother in the history of mothers.”

Then, of course, something goes wrong, and being a mom turns into a nightmare. One night your baby won’t stop crying, and you start to wonder if you’re cut out for this. Not only that, but soon you’ll start to think that everything you’ve done is wrong. You’ll question your birthing choices, your parenting style, even the color of the teddy bear you chose and quickly conclude that you’re the worst mother, ever. This anxiety is normal, if a little frustrating, but trust us: You’re a much better mother than you think you are.

A pregnant woman resting.Every new mom feels both great and terrible throughout the course of motherhood.

3. “Being a mom is the best.”

Nothing on earth is more amazing than seeing your baby smile. When that giggly face is directed at you seemingly out of nowhere, well, it’ll make you feel sky-high. You were born for this: to raise a baby into a model child, teenager and adult; to go to mommy-and-me yoga; to impress the other neighborhood moms with your amazing prowess. You are, in a word, exceptional.

4. “Being a mom sucks. Can I get a refund?”

Except, of course, for when you realize that nothing is worse than cleaning up a dirty diaper while your face is covered in vomit. And where did that snot come from: you or your baby, who can’t seem to get over his cold? When will your body stop feeling like a stranger’s? How many more months until your baby sleeps through the night? Come to think of it, what does a good night of sleep feel like?

5. “Did I put this together right?”

Whether it’s a crib, a car seat, a baby bouncer or all three, chances are that something you bought requires assembly. Even if you follow all the instructions to a T and watched the how-to video to boot, chances are you’ll randomly feel insecure about your skills as a carpenter. Fear not – thousands of people assemble baby products every single day without incident. In fact, your parents did so, and you turned out perfectly fine. You’ve got this.

6. “I can eat again!”

Caffeine addicts and sushi lovers rejoice: Your favorite foods are back on the menu. That said, you shouldn’t go drinking like a college student or downing three lattes in a row if you plan to breastfeed. Also, keep in mind that some foods change the flavor of your breast milk, which your little one may not like.

7. “I don’t have time to eat anymore!”

Of course, just because you can eat your favorite foods doesn’t mean you’ll have time to enjoy them. When you’ve got diapers to change, laundry to wash and a baby to feed, even ordering takeout seems to take too much time. At that point, you might start eyeing the baby formula – easy to make and consume.

8. “Why isn’t my baby cute like all the other babies?”

It’s a fact that no one wants to admit, but some babies – especially newborns – just aren’t cute. Their features are squished, their skin looks raw and their bodies look animatronic.

“A surprising number of mothers think their babies aren’t cute.”

If you feel like your baby isn’t cute, you’re not alone. A surprising number of new moms feel exactly the same. Just Google “I don’t think my baby is cute” and count the number of pages of results.

The short answer? Don’t worry about it. Whether it’s a matter of your child growing into his features or your ideas on cuteness shifting over time, you’ll eventually come to realize just how adorable your little one is.

9. “Fact: My baby is the cutest baby in the world. Ever.”

And again, that smile appears and every motherly instinct you’ve ever had comes flooding back. Your baby isn’t just cute; she’s the absolute cutest. If there were a worldwide contest for most adorable baby in the history of mankind – nay, the galaxy – your child would win without question.

If motherhood has you wavering between frazzled and fabulous, don’t worry. Every new mom feels similarly at some point or another. Just go easy on yourself and enjoy these years as best as you can.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

Cropped shot of a pregnant businesswoman using a laptop in an office

Pregnant In The Workplace: Know Your Rights

Pregnancy can be the start of a great new chapter in your life, but your employer might see things otherwise. Unfortunately, many businesses still believe pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is perfectly acceptable, despite federal regulations and changing cultural attitudes. Even if you work in an incredibly supportive office, you may be surprised to find your job duties change – or worse, your position “terminated” – after coming back from maternity leave.

Here’s what every woman needs to know about her rights in the workplace when pregnant:

Employers are federally prohibited from discriminating against you if you are pregnant.”

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects you during and after pregnancy

Enacted in 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to cover discrimination “on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.” Essentially, this means employers are federally prohibited from discriminating against you if you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or have recently given birth. This means that:

  • You can’t lose your job on the basis of your pregnancy.
  • You can’t be bypassed for a promotion because you’re pregnant.
  • You can’t be fired for taking leave while pregnant.
  • You can’t lose benefits if you are pregnant but not married.
  • Your position can’t be eliminated or given to someone else just because you are pregnant.
  • Employers cannot refuse to hire you because you are pregnant.

You may also be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, especially if you experience complications. Employers must make reasonable accommodations to modify your workload when you’re pregnant, just as they would a person with an injury or disability.

This means, for example, that an employer can’t reprimand you for taking more frequent bathroom breaks.

Keep in mind, however, that the PDA and ADA only apply to employers with 15 or more employees. If your company does not meet this criteria, check your local laws to see if they protect your rights in the workplace when pregnant. Even if they don’t, you may find support from a local women’s or civil rights group.

Finally, you’re also protected by the Family Medical Leave Act, which allows you to leave for 12 weeks to care for yourself or an ailing family member. Yes, this includes yourself during pregnancy and your baby after he or she is born, meaning you can take FMLA leave even before you give birth.

That said, you still need to meet the following requirements in order to qualify for FMLA:

  • You must work for an employer with at least 50 employees.
  • You must have worked for this employer for at least 12 months within the past seven years.
  • Your time worked in the past 12 months, not including sick or vacation days, must meet or exceed 1,250 hours.

If you don’t meet these requirements, talk to your human resources department about the company’s maternity leave policy.

A pregnant woman working at a desk.Many federal regulations protect you from pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

What to do if you experience pregnancy discrimination

Unfortunately, even though discriminating against pregnant women in the workplace is illegal in the majority of cases, many women still encounter such hardships. According to a report from the National Partnership for Women and Families, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and various state-level fair employment agencies received nearly 31,000 charges of pregnancy discrimination between fiscal years 2011 and 2015. These charges included wrongdoings such as:

  • Disciplining or discharging pregnant women.
  • Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations.
  • Harassing pregnant women.
  • Enforcing discriminatory terms of employment.

If you find yourself in such a situation, there are a number of steps you can take to receive justice:

  • Write down what happened, including the date, time, location, what was said and as many other details as you can remember. For your peace of mind, store this document (or a copy) someplace outside of your workplace and off company property (that is, not a work computer or tablet).
  • If you’re in a union, discuss the situation with your representative.
  • Consult your human resources department. These people are responsible for properly handling the situation.
  • If HR doesn’t help, you may want to bring your case to a women’s or civil rights group.
  • If you plan to file a charge with the EEOC, you’ll need to do so within 180 days in most cases. You don’t need a lawyer for this, and you can file a charge even if you no longer work with the company.

Discrimination has no place in the office, and pregnant women shouldn’t be subjected to such hardships when they’re about to enter motherhood.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

Rear of a caucasian baby crawling and lifting his/her durable cloth diaper high up isolated on white background.

The Benefits and Tips on Cloth Diapering

These days, moms have the freedom to be any type of parent they want to be. They can raise their children on vegan or Paleo diets if they wish, incorporate a variety of parenting styles and more. If you can think of it, there’s a book and a product out there for it.

One parenting choice that’s quickly becoming popular – or coming back in style, depending on how you look at it – is cloth diapering. Many families are choosing cloth diapers over disposable for their longevity, lack of waste and chemical-free makeup.

If any of these benefits sound appealing, then cloth diapers may be for you! Here, we break down their styles and dispel any myths you may have heard.

A set of cloth diapers sitting on a shelf.Cloth diapers come in tons of colors and patterns!

Different types of cloth diapers: All shapes and sizes!

Cloth diapers, as you might expect, are made of fabric and meant to be reused. Unlike their disposable counterparts, they generally aren’t treated with any chemicals, and they help reduce landfill waste.

They work by using various layers of cloth to build absorbency, then sealing in any mess with a waterproof outer shell. They also come in a variety of styles, from flat to hybrid to all-in-one:

Flats

These cloth diapers are the most old-school. They consist of a thin piece of fabric that can be folded many ways to fit your baby. While they do take longer to diaper than other types, you can customize their absorbency by the number of folds you create.

Pre-folds

As their name suggests, these come with extra layers of cloth pre-folded and sewn in. This means they are nicely absorbent, but you can’t change them to meet your baby’s needs. That said, pre-folds are designed to be pretty universal, so you shouldn’t have any problems.

If you go the pre-fold route, you’ll need to buy diaper covers: a waterproof outer casing that prevents waste from leaking. These generally look like disposable diapers and fasten at the hips with Velcro or snaps.

Hybrids

Hybrid cloth diapers come with a waterproof outer cover and an insert made of an absorbent material – either cloth or something disposable. They’re designed to combine the benefits of both diapering methods, generating less waste while keeping the changing process quick and easy when you’re on the go.

“Cloth diapering isn’t more or less messy than disposable diapers.”

All-in-one

These combine the absorbent layer and waterproof outer shell into one piece, making them like an all-cloth version of disposable diapers. Like the standalone covers, all-in-one cloth diapers fasten with Velcro or snaps at the hips.

Cloth diapering: Less messy than you think!

Many moms are afraid of dealing with the waste that comes with cloth diapering. In actuality, this style isn’t more or less messy than disposable diapers. Clean up is quick and easy; just follow the steps below:

  • When the diaper is soiled, shake any solids into the toilet.
  • Put the diaper in a pail lined with plastic.
  • Once the pail is full, put all of the diapers in the wash without any other items.
  • Wash once on hot using a baby-safe detergent. Do not use bleach.
  • After the rinse cycle, wash and rinse the diapers again.
  • Dry them on hot air.

If you absolutely can’t stand the thought of handling a poopy piece of cloth, your other option is to use a service that will pick up and wash dirty diapers while leaving you with clean ones in the interim. This choice is also great for busy parents who insist on using cloth. That said, diaper services typically give you fewer options in terms of cloth patterns, and their long-term cost tends to be just as expensive as disposable ones.

How many diapers do I need?

That answer depends on how frequently your baby uses the potty and how often you feel like washing diapers. If you plan on doing laundry every three days or so, you’ll need at least two dozen cloth diapers if not more.

Cloth diapering myths

Many moms think of cloth diapers as a magical cure-all for the environment, but unfortunately, they’re not as green as marketing makes them appear. Here are a few truths about cloth diapers:

  • They’re more eco-friendly than disposable, but not by much. While cloth diapers cut down on landfill waste, they still require resources to create and clean. And if you use a cloth diaper service, well, that means gas was used to bring the diapers to your house.
  • They’re more expensive than disposable … at first. Cloth diapers cost a lot of money up front, but they can save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. You also might be able to get your hands on some unused one from a mom who bought too many or sell your extra stock and recoup some of the cost.

Are cloth diapers for me?

Many moms love cloth diapering, while others can’t stand the thought. Whether or not this style is for you depends on how much time you want to spend changing your baby’s diaper and cleaning up the mess.

Still don’t know if you’re the cloth diaper type? Check out our mom quizzes to discover your parenting style!

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

Close Up Of Baby Girl Sleeping In Nursery Cot

Is My Baby OK?

Every mom-to-be expects her natural maternal instincts to kick in, but there are some things babies do that are just plain confusing. Should she be sucking her thumb this early? Wait, what was that position he just put himself in?

Take a deep breath; most confusing baby behavior is perfectly normal. Here are a few strange things you may notice with our baby that you don’t need to worry about.

Posture

Babies spend a long time in the fetal position – legs curled to their bellies, arms in front of their chest, fists clenched, head down – before they’re born. It’s only natural that they’ll return to this position during their first few weeks of life. As your little one develops more control over his or her movements, you can expect more activity.

Reflexes

Babies have lots of natural reflexes, some of which may startle you if you’re not prepared:

  • Sucking reflex: Your little one will suck on any object put into his or her mouth. This makes sense when you think about how newborns consume food! Also, the nerves in a baby’s mouth are more developed than the ones in the fingers, so he or she can learn more about the environment by sucking on something rather than by touching it.
  • Grasp reflex: Try putting something in your baby’s hand and watch as his or her little fingers start curling around it. Newborns automatically try to grasp anything that touches their palms.
  • Startle response: If your little one hears a loud noise, sees a bright light, catches a strong smell or encounters another unexpected stimulus, he or she will throw the arms out and then draw them back in to the middle of the body.
  • Asymmetrical tonic neck reflex: Sometimes, a stimulus will cause your baby to turn it’s head and extend the arm out to the same side. Because of the way babies look in this position, it’s also known as the fencing reflex. This is a primitive reflex, and as your child’s central nervous system develops, it will disappear in about three months.
  • Stepping reflex: If you hold your baby upright and rest his or her feet on a flat surface, he or she will pick the feet up and down as if walking.
A baby's hand holding a mother's finger.Babies automatically hold anything placed in their hand.

Thumb sucking

Remember the sucking reflex? This is an extension of that. Babies will put their thumbs in their mouths to explore or just as a comfort mechanism. Because the thumb is always there, your little one has an easy way of calming down at any moment. Also, just like the fetal position, developing children also sucked their thumb in the womb, so it makes sense that they’d continue this behavior outside of it.

Backwards sleep patterns

Your new baby may appear nocturnal at some point, sleeping during the day and being active at night. This is yet another side effect of spending time in the womb. Night and day don’t mean anything while inside mom, and in fact, being inside the womb is probably more like nighttime anyway. Don’t worry; a healthy baby will eventually realize that day means activity and night means sleeping.

Sneezing

“Sneezing doesn’t necessarily mean your baby is sick.”

You may be alarmed to see or hear your newborn baby sneezing all of the time. Don’t worry; she probably isn’t sick. Sneezing helps newborns clear the nose of airborne particles and congestion. It also helps your baby open up a nostril, which can become smooshed during feeding. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself covered in baby sneezes after nursing!

Crossed eyes

Human babies aren’t like puppies or kittens; they can see as soon as they’re born. That said, newborns do have trouble focusing for the first two or three months. It’s also easier for them to look at objects from an angle, according to Cleveland Clinic. As the ocular muscles get stronger, your baby’s eyes will focus better.

So if you have a cross eyed, sneezy infant who poses like an archer, don’t be worried! These are all signs of a healthy baby. Take a deep breath (and lots of pictures to commemorate these first few moments).

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.