Let’s Spread Kindness

Where in the world do I start?

The last month or so, we have gone from making light of a serious situation that the Western Hemisphere was too privileged and naive to take seriously, to realizing first hand how serious all the warnings were from countries from the east. Those of us who are immuno-compromised, have underlying respiratory issues, or are older are really feeling the heat when it comes to this virus.

Saying tensions are high, is putting it lightly.

Here in Ontario, schools and childcare programs have closed down, government buildings. A lot of other businesses have closed or are limiting how many customers can be allowed through the doors. Precautions are being taken to ensure we flatten the curve and don’t over-stress the hospitals.

For parents, even though they don’t put children in the high-risk margins, that doesn’t keep the stress or anxiety low.

I came on here not really sure what this post would be. Would it be something that just outlines exactly how crazy this all is, let you know my anxiety is at an all-time high and allow my readers that breath of relief in knowing they are not in this alone? Would it be light-hearted, a reminder that no struggles last forever? A coping post?

Now, I am sitting here while my daughter naps finally getting a moment to breathe on my own and realizing I don’t really know where I am going with this, but I just felt the need to reach out. Write something in the hopes of connecting with anyone out there who really feels the weight of this isolation.

This is a very trying time, you never quite know if what you say is going to rub someone the wrong way because we are all coping with this the best we can, and no two people cope in identical ways.

You may be stuck at home, but at this age, there are so many other ways to reach out to someone. Make a video call, make a video blog, do something to make you feel like the world is bigger than the walls of your home.

It was brought to my attention recently just how much there is for us online. Did you know most zoos and aquariums offer live streams on their websites? Here in Toronto, we can watch the sharks at Ripley’s aquarium or the animals in different enclosures at the zoo all without getting out of our PJs. This is amazing for parents because what child doesn’t love animals? My daughter and I watched the sharks for around thirty minutes today before she passed out.

Jump on your favourite search engines and see just what there is out there to help keep your kids busy. With my daughter being too young for most crafts and at the age where she is getting into everything, something like that was really a lifesaver.

Have realistic expectations of how human the people in your life are, and don’t try to tackle big conversations or issues right now. 

Let’s be honest, communication is a weak point in the make-up of a lot of people. As much as we would love to say communication comes easily to us, especially knowing how healthy communication is for all relationships, for most people that really isn’t true. Right now may not be the best time to address the shortcomings of a loved one, or try and push your views on them. Keep conversations light and positive, it will be easier on everyone involved.

Practice being kind, compassionate, and empathetic.

It’s so easy to forget that just because people are a big part of your life, they aren’t you and don’t think as you do. Sure, you may not be stressed about a certain aspect of his, but don’t invalidate anyone else’s anxieties about this. Everyone’s feelings are valid at this time, and kindness will really make the biggest difference at a time like this.

Just because you’re young and healthy, doesn’t mean you won’t get sick and are not a carrier.

I could go into this one, but really, it should just be common sense at this point.

Mostly, just be kind. Be kind to as many people as you can online, as so many people have flocked to social outlets to feel less alone. Tell that girl doing the beauty tutorials that she is beautiful and killing it. Comment on that adorable baby or pet. Say hello to someone who few comments on their posts. Like the new post with no likes. The smallest thing could make someone smile, and right now, we need that more than ever.

For people battling mental illnesses, this time is especially hard. Most mental illnesses already make you feel so isolated, physically being isolated (even if this is something you did before the pandemic) only amplifies that. Choosing to be alone and being told you have to be alone definitely have different weights. Take the time to be kind, it costs you nothing and can really change how people react to this very difficult time.

Hold the people in your life a little closer. Appreciate moments.

Nothing lasts forever.

We can get through this!

Tantrums and Terrible Twos

For those of you who have followed my blog since my Little Bean was in the oven, you’ll know she is 17 months now. One month shy of being a year and a half. So many of you are thinking, well, she has got about 6 months until she gets thrown onto the emotional rollercoaster of her toddler, feels completely overwhelmed, and becomes a patient at a facility to overcome everything that takes place during the Terrible Twos. 

Well,  buckle up people, have I got some terrifying news for you.

The Terrible Twos don’t always happen when they’re two!

Apparently, children don’t give two flying fluffy ducks about milestones and schedules. They do what they want when they want and you just have to deal with it as their parents. All those timelines and studies they’ve done to give you a rough idea of when things with happen? Just chuck those right on out the window, you’re in Crazy Town now and there are no maps. Up is down, and up, and sideways, and backwards, and down is anything is wants to be but always stops at a screaming toddler who bites when they are frustrated despite your best efforts.

I started to notice my daughter had a bit of an attitude to her as soon as she started walking which was around her 1st birthday. I remember sitting there thinking “This is way too much attitude for this tiny little person”. 

Every day she gets a little more and with that, takes a little bit more of my sanity away.

The word ‘No!’ is a bullet in my house, laced with hormones that explode and go all through her body every time I have the audacity to say it. Once those hormones have reached every corner of her body, she screams, turns red, throws herself on the floor and just goes haywire.

In the beginning, I found myself stepping in right away, trying to soothe her and talk her through it. After a bit of time I noticed the more I did this, the more often those tantrums happened. I found myself stepping back, letting the tantrums run their course and telling her I would talk to her again when she was done.

Some days, she just isn’t done.

*SIGH*

I think the most frustrating thing for a parent is trying to figure out if this is right? Am I doing the right thing? In the back of your mind and in the depths of your heart you tell yourself that if you were, it would be easier, and that thought alone plagues you with a pang of guilt that some days is crippling. There are days when the tantrums are constant and as a parent, especially if you are home with your little all by yourself, you just feel like a failure.

Then you go to bed, wake up, and for whatever reason, your child decides to skip the tantrums all together that day and you fond yourself wondering what went wrong the day before.

Children have very little logic. What is fun to them one day may drive them to hysterics the next. What they refuse to eat becomes a favourite food overnight and those moods are just as unpredictable. The lack of communication between you and your toddler never feels too obvious as when they are just flipping their noodle and you are sitting there begging them to give you some sign of what is wrong.

What does this mean for us logical adults trying to parent to the best of our abilities? It means sometimes we have to bend a little for our sanity. I think people try and make parents out to be martyrs. You’re either doing it exactly like all the studies say, to hell with your own health, or you’re a bad parent.

To those people, I have a very special finger on each hand.

Maybe step away from the 100% organic, homegrown, ethical treats and give them a goldfish cracker if it means it gives you the time you need to regroup and catch your breath. Ignore that article about how screen time is no good for our kids (even though every kid from like the 50s was raised in front of the TV and are completely functional), and put on a movie you know will keep them entertained enough for you to wash your face, brush your teeth, and do whatever you need to do. Even if it is just to sit in silence without a clingy baby clawing at you and screaming.

DO IT FOR YOU!

A happy parent, is a happy kid and it is going to take a lot of effort to remain even functional, let alone happy when the waves of tantrums start to roll in… trust me, I have a new patch of grey hairs that will attest to this.

Comparison is a one way street to depression. Please, please, please, don’t look at the woman at the park with the kid the same age who is playing happily, grinning ear-to-ear while yours lashes out and kicks you while you try and load them back into the stroller. They have been there, or they are going to be. Just because they are not going through it right now, in front of your eyes, doesn’t mean they are a better parent than you.

We are all great mothers (and fathers)!

When the junky snacks, mindless programming, and bargaining doesn’t work just remember, THIS IS ONLY TEMPORARY! 

However wrong they may have been by calling them Terrible Twos the one thing they did get right was that it isn’t going to last forever. Once your child is better able to communicate their needs with you and understand your responses to their requests (AHEM DEMANDS) it will get easier.

Hang in! Binge-watch shows while you are going to bed while cramming junk food in your mouth for your sanity, and maybe have a little cry every now and then. You just have to run out the clock…

YOU CAN DO THIS!

Toddler Mom Winter Blues

This is my second winter as a mommy, and I would have to say this winter has been tougher than the first.

Why?

My daughter was a September baby, which meant the first winter she wasn’t very mobile. I was still recovering from giving birth, so it’s not like I had any plans to do anything. Spending the whole winter in High Top Hanes Her Ways, with thick reading socks on and a shirt that was always either wet or stained from breastmilk while I binge-watched all the shows I had never gotten around to while working was the perfect way to pass the winter.

All her cries could be easily soothed with breastmilk or a diaper change. She was asleep more than she was awake and if I’m being honest, so was I.

This winter, she is big, she is mobile, and she is her own little person. The amount of attitude and sass is immeasurable and just like you or me, she gets bored on days when we are stuck inside. Typically, no matter how busy I keep her through the day, at around 3:00 pm, she is just over being inside and that is when her tantrums begin.

I have dealt with a lot of children in my time, and tantrums usually go hand-in-hand with children this age. That being said, the intensity of her tantrums still surprise me! (I will likely do a whole post just on tantrums later.)

She screams until she is beet red, pulls her hair, hits. This kind of tantrum was something I wasn’t expecting so soon and had thought would come more around the age of 2.

Lucky me, the Terrible Twos have come early and with an unrivalled intensity. YAY!

On a good day, 4:00 pm is her nap time. So typically, I let her ride the waves of her emotions and tantrums until she has tired herself out, sneak in with a bottle and she will pass out. However, sometimes this just doesn’t happen.

With staying indoors, it’s hard to really tire them out. There is so much unspent energy, sometimes she doesn’t go down for a nap at all.

One these days, the Winter Blues kick in super hard for me. My emotions are spent, my nerves are wound to the point of breaking, and that weight of parenting guilt so many of us feels becomes just too heavy to manage. I feel exhausted, worn down, and just so spent that each moment feels like an hour. My eyes are constantly glasses over, the threat of tears constantly there as I just try to make it through the day.

Parenting is HARD!

Parenting through the winter when you have a rowdy toddler who wants nothing more than to run around and play outside, is even harder.

My suggestion for any moms who are going through what I am going through is to reach out. Find moms in your area that can come over with their little for an hour or two and just lessen the weight for both of you. Go for a walk, even if the weather is awful and it’s just to the corner to get a coffee. Set play areas for you and your little that are inside, but close to the window on days when you can’t get out.

Making it through the winter in places with four seasons is tough. A lot of days the weather just doesn’t permit being outside with a child under 2. The past few days we have had winds so strong, they have blown her over when we ventured out to walk the dog. Nothing like a child turned into the wind, gasping for air as it blows into their face that ends up on their back to really improve both your moods. (Insert dramatic sigh here.)

Really, I am just trying to hold onto my sanity until Spring decides to make its appearance. With how the weather is here in Canada, Spring is almost never on time and we always have a teaser of Spring before we backslide back into Winter for another month or so.

*SIGH*

I got this. I can do it.

Helo!

The Stressful Search For A Daycare In the GTA

The longer I’ve been a parent, the more obvious to me it becomes that stress is endless. From the moment of conception, your mind is constantly racing. Can I eat this? Can I drink this? Can I do this? Can I lift this? Every moment you are constantly second-guessing everything decision you make.

I told myself once she arrived, it would get easier on me mentally. Sure, I would be tired, I would be breastfeeding, but I would have a little more control and that in itself would be freeing.

Boy, was I wrong.

The biggest stress in my life right now is daycare. Apparently, it is well-known to most moms, or at least all the daycares speak to you as though you should know, that you should have your child on the waiting list for daycares the moment you conceive. Before that little bean matures enough for you to even feel safe telling people about your pregnancy, you should be adding Little Baby Unknown to every daycare waiting list in your area to ensure when your child is 18 months (which is the youngest admitting age for most daycares) your child is close to having a spot there.

It’s even worse if you have this ridiculous idea of getting your child into a city-run daycare instead of a private one.

Late to the party, of course, I managed to put little ReeRo on waiting lists when she was a year. I know, I know… what was I thinking?

If I am telling the honest to goodness truth, I wasn’t. My train of thought at the time was that I knew for sure she would be staying home with me for a year, I had a hope she would be home with me until 18 months because I knew she would be my only child and wanted to spend as much time with her as I possibly could. That being said, I thought right before a year would be the right time to look through the options and see what I was looking at in my area and in my price range.

Well, I was pretty much floored as I looked. All the ones in my area with openings are private daycares in which we will be handing out as much as we pay for our 2 bedrooms + Den apartment with our utilities and parking. I was just sitting there looking at website after website not only wondering who the hell was paying this, but how in the world people could afford it.

A lot of people like to sit back and complain about Millenials, but Jesus, the cost of living for us, especially in a city like Toronto, Canada, is INSANE!

If your maternity leave has run out and you are trying to get your child into an affordable daycare spot relatively quickly so you can start working, you’ll quickly realize just how ridiculous it all is.

First; this information isn’t readily available to everyone. When I tell moms who are still in the early stages of their leave about my struggles finding a placement for her, they are in disbelief. A lot of moms who are going about this for the first time are completely blindsided by the cost and waitlists involved in childcare.

Second; if you are a parent who qualifies for subsidized child care, you should know there is a waitlist for approval for that as well. What does that mean? Well, it means that before you even think about getting a place for your child in a subsidy approved daycare (with waitlists that probably triple the length of any other daycare you’ll be looking at), you’ll have to not only apply for subsidy in your district, but also go to an interview, and get approved.

Third; if you are going the route of subsidy, THERE IS A TIMELINE! Once your interview is booked with subsidy, you have to go and be approved. Once approved you have somewhere between 30-90 days to find your child a spot in a subsidy approved daycare or you will be moved back to the bottom of the waiting list!

You’re probably reading this thinking: That seems like a lot of time. 

Let me put my timeline out here for you guys so you can see if it really is enough time (if you were unaware of how long the waitlist was and put your child on those lists late).

I applied for Toronto Child Subsidy at the end of August right before my daughter’s first birthday. At the same time, I applied for Subsidy, I made about 30 calls and put my daughter’s name on waiting lists for daycares in my area. Every daycare that had a waiting list I put her on, this worked out to be 23 daycares of the 30 I called.

I heard back from Toronto Childcare Subsidy in December letting me know I needed to go to an interview in January. Just applying to subsidy took just about 4 months, and that was without even being approved. It’s important to note, that from August to December when I received the letter I hadn’t heard from a single daycare letting me know there was an opening.

The second week of January I called every daycare she was on a waitlist back to see if maybe there was an opening and I just hadn’t heard from them, I also called 15 more daycares, branching out to the point where we would need to travel to get her to daycare and it would no longer be an easy pick-up/drop-off situation. The 14th place I called told me I needed to recall Toronto Childcare Subsidy and go through them in order to put my daughter on the waitlist at that location. It was only at this point I was informed that once I attended my scheduled interview and got approved for Subsidy, I would potentially lose my spot if I couldn’t find her a daycare in time.

This is when the panic began to set in. It had already been five months and I hadn’t heard from a single daycare. That meant I would need to hear back from them relatively quickly after getting approved. I didn’t want to lose my spot and then have to wait another 4 months to once again reach the top of the list.

I called 10 MORE DAYCARES going as far East as Bay St (I live completely WEST and getting there would be a hassle and a half, but I was desperate).

If you weren’t keeping track, that is a total of 55 different GTA daycares called and not a single opening. It definitely has me asking the question if there are enough subsidy approved daycares in the GTA. There is a population of roughly over 5.2 million in the GTA, a good number of those families would require Toronto Child Subsidy for daycare and would be looking in the same places I was for child care. Just how many calls do you have to make before you find that opening, if ever?

How can there possibly be enough daycares for that many children? How can they expect parents to afford to become a single income household when you can’t find childcare for your child to return to work? Is it any question why debt is becoming such a huge issue for Millenials in the GTA and why mental health issues are on the rise?

Personally, I can’t even express to you the added stress and anxiety this search has added to my already stressful day to day life of being a stay at home mom to a very moody toddler. When I am not pulling my hair out, or prying her off of my, I am struggling to try and figure out what the hell is going to become of my life. No matter how much I prepared, I didn’t prepare for this.

The cost of living is constantly rising, being a single income family in Toronto in 2020 just doesn’t even seem possible.

For any parent who has a baby on the way and is reading this, the time to start looking into daycares was a month or two before you read this… definitely get on it before your little bean makes its entrance into the world. Waiting until you’re ready like a lot of first time parents think is the best thing to do, is definitely not the best thing to do.

Sleep vs. Parenting

I think back to when I was in my late teens, early twenties. I had the kind of lifestyle where staying up all night, closing my eyes for an hour in the wee hours of the morning, and getting up to conquer the day unaffected was something I took for granted. I would down several coffees during the day more because I enjoyed the taste than because I really needed it. Sure, my energy wasn’t ever really at a hundred percent, but it was at this level where even my exhaustion had energy to it.

Fast forward to now.

I am a footstep away from thirty, a new mom and living off of that same amount of sleep I was back then, but now I fee, it down in my bones. That exhaustion I used to scoff at, wear as an accomplishment for days, even weeks, is this weight that has me dragging, my mind completely useless.

Most people can chalk all this up to aging. As you get older those aches stay with you, those sleepless nights roll over into your day, a day without eating can make you feel as though you are withering away completely. This is growing old.

That being said, there is something so complex about becoming a mother. The physical tolls from pregnancy and childbirth live on hour body for longer than they tell you, the emotional exhaustion only adds to the physical. For the first time in my life, my mental health is constantly at the forefront of my mind. There’s an alarm going off in my head constantly, warning me of what will happen if I dance too close to that line, wearing myself too thin.

Physically, my body may seem as though it’s bounced back, but deep beneath the surface I know there are aspects of my pregnancy, even my delivery that still linger. Exhaustion is like a weighted blanket I can’t quite get out from under, my mind constantly hazed, my emotions always up in a cyclone.

I constantly get asked when I will stop cosleeping. It’s so easy from the outside looking in to try and diagnose my problems and tell me exactly what I need. “What you need is more sleep.” “You need to nap during the day when you can.” “You need to get your daughter sleeping in her crib so you can get a better night sleep.”

Realistically, new moms neglect their self care for so long, it would take months of spoiling ourselves to really try and right ourselves. Its not the quick fix everyone seems to think it is.

The root of it all is sleep, but even when our babies are sleeping soundly in their own cribs, it’s hard to completely shut our minds and emotions off.

Moms are always mentally on the clock, and that plays a huge part on why we never really get the sleep we need and why self care, if not constant, doesn’t really work the way people preach it does. Personally, I don’t think going out to get my nails done or hair cut will ever really help with the constant emotions I have coursing through my body every day.

That all being said, parenting is definitely something I feel like has been my greatest happiness. Sure, I am exhausted, I cry more often than I would dare to admit, and underneath everything else inside me there is always this quiet voice telling me I am not a great mother, barely even a good one, but I wouldn’t trade my daughter for all the sleep and self care in the world.

Parenting is life changing, anyone who says it isn’t probably isn’t doing it right.

Sleep?

I need it and crave it, but have come to terms with the fact that it may not be something I get for another year or so.

The Holidays With Your Baby

For as long as I can remember I have never really been one who has been excited about the holidays. In this day and age, everything seems to come with a hefty price tag and December is already the month with a few birthdays for me so it kind of ruins the whole month for me.

I am basically the Grinch.

Having children really changes your outlook on things. Now, as a mom, I found a new sense of excitement surrounding the holidays. There is something so special about getting to watch your child experience things for the first time. I find myself getting giddy just thinking about watching her tear open wrapping paper, or see anything new. With that in mind, Christmas was different for me this year.

Last year, my daughter was here but she was so new that that feeling wasn’t quite there. We gave her any gifts we bought as we bought them last year because most of her gifts were things we hoped would make everything easier for us; swings, playmats, activity seats etc. Anything that would give us ten minutes where we could just sit, watching her from across the room was something we didn’t want to give her. We were exhausted new parents.

This year she was a toddler, walking around. She knew who Santa was in a sense from seeing him at the mall and watching little videos of him. Sure, she couldn’t fully comprehend the idea of Christmas, but she could participate in it this year which was a game changer.

The gifts were still things we hoped would keep her busy, but we actually waited until Christmas morning for her to open then. We got to see her walk around the corner and look at the Christmas tree with wrapped gifts under them. We got to hear her say her signature catch phrase (one we hear about a thousand times a day) “What’s that?” as she slowly walked towards her Bounce Barnyard Animal.

It was enough to put up with all the stress that goes along with Christmas.

As a mom, I do reach out to a lot of moms. I have a mom app that I regularly use to chat with other moms. Around the holidays, it really opens your eyes to the struggle a lot of parents are going through. There are so many parents who think the dollar amount is what makes up Christmas. They think they have to spend X amount for their children to enjoy the holidays, and let me tell you, they couldn’t be more wrong about this. Especially in younger children.

I have a friend who chooses her son’s favourite toys and wraps them for Christmas. Why? Because she knows he loves those toys, and she knows half of the excitement of these holidays is just opening things, regardless of what’s beneath that ornate paper. She buys him one larger gift, and then things he needs like PJs, socks, toiletries etc. Then she wraps two or three of his favourite toys. Every year (she has been doing this for three years and he is four now) he opens it and his eyes light up. He doesn’t care that he’s already seen those toys a thousand times before. He just knows they make him happy and he’s happy to see them again.

I do think this is a wonderful thing to do around Christmas because it makes your kids appreciate the things they already have without really breaking the bank.

Looking back on my own childhood, my mom was a single mom of 5 so splurging on gifts wasn’t really in the cards. That being said, I can’t remember a single year when I felt we didn’t get more than enough.

Utilize things like the dollar stores to fill stockings. What did doesn’t like holiday themed candies and chocolates, colouring books, and even picture books? All of these things can be found at the dollar store without breaking the bank.

My go-to gifts for most kids (including my own) is always books. My daughter can sit with a pile of books for half the day. So anytime a new book comes into our house she is in heaven. Places like thrift stores often sell books for as little as $1.49/book with the 5th book being free. These books are often in amazing condition and some are even donated by libraries and bookshops.

It’s really easy to make Christmas affordable if you try.

Something my mother still does is buy gifts throughout the year. I know our gift (a personalized Sherpa blanket) was purchased in April. Certain things will always be great gifts. Buy things throughout the year and put them away so the holidays don’t feel like such a big financial hit.

If I am being totally honest, the best gift I received this year was the photos I got to take of my daughter and husband opening gifts. I could have got nothing this year and that would have been enough.

Some of the best gifts come without tags.

Really try to implement family into your holidays. Make it more about time than gifts. I think that is the best gift you can give your child around the holiday… your presence.

I am hoping to make these posts more of a regular thing, until next time guys I’ll just be around… pretending I know what I am doing.

Our Weaning Journey

We returned from our vacation in the wee hours of the morning on November 26th. From the 18th-25th my boobs had been hard at work. Because of how overwhelming the trip was for her, the constant heat and being on the go, and the lack of interest in solids during the trip, some days I felt as though I was breastfeeding around the clock.

As soon as we were back home, I turned to my husband and told him I was done. I couldn’t do this anymore. 14 months of breastfeeding is a long time. I think when we initially sign up for breastfeeding, we don’t really realize how much of ourselves we are giving up. We give up sleep, we give up personal space, we give up comfort, we give up privacy, we give up the whole of our bodies. Read that last one again, for people that don’t fully understand how taxing breastfeeding can be: we give up our whole bodies.

Breastfeeding isn’t solely about your breasts and the milk they provide. It can affect your hormones, and in turn your mental health. It can affect your weight, your energy levels, it can affect your appetite. There are so many other things, and I think for those people on the outside looking in chanting “Breast Is Best!” at women, they don’t fully comprehend just how much of a journey it is. There were so many days where I breastfed so much that my whole body just ached (surprisingly enough, my nipples were the only thing that didn’t). There were a lot of days I would be completely fine and then I would just suddenly start crying and be unable to stop for hours.

Breastfeeding is a lot, and it really opens your eyes to the true strength of a woman.

Long story short, after a week of being a constant buffet to my very picky and emotional child, I told myself that this was it, this was the end of our Breastfeeding journey. For my sanity, it had to be.

When I reached out to other moms about my weaning journey, I was bombarded with an endless stream of questions, rightfully so. When I started weaning I had so many questions and so little answers. I thought this needs to be a blog post. This is information that can be so helpful to other moms out there who have attempted weaning time and time again and failed because they didn’t know where to find the right answers.

How I Weaned My Daughter Off Breastfeeding In 10 Days!

Okay, first things first, buckle up and prepare for the worst. My daughter has always been a little diva. She is sassy, she is stubborn, she is a force to be reckoned with, so of course, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. That being said, never in my wildest dream would I ever imagine it would be so hard!

The first thing you really need to do to be successful at weaning is Come Up With A Set Schedule And Stick To It Come Hell Or High Water!

My daughter was an emotional feeder. What that meant was she would breastfeed when she got scared, when she was overwhelmed, when she hurt herself, any minor inconvenience in her life and she would come over and practically rip off my shirt. This meant a lot of days she was comfort feeding almost every hour or so.

My schedule was pretty simple. In the beginning stages of weaning, I would breastfeed her once when we first woke up, once in the afternoons before her nap, and once before bedtime. Outside of these set times, the shop was closed!

One thing I will suggest before you decide to wean is pump and stock up. If your child is like mine and acts as though you are trying to murder her as you wean her from breastfeeding, in the beginning, she/he will only accept breastmilk out of the bottle. Don’t even try anything else, it will just be way too difficult.

I think it’s also important to note, for other parents who have been introducing whole milk or other beverages to your child before weaning, that I found her being familiar with milk already made absolutely no difference. I had been giving her whole milk in places I couldn’t breastfeed, like in the car, since she was about 7 months and she still refused to take milk (even though she had taken a full whole milk bottle before) while weaning. She was too emotional and it was just a no-go.

What I did was keep a bottle handy with a small amount of breastmilk in it. Typically speaking, breastmilk before refrigerated can last about 4 hours out of the fridge. This is why I would only leave about an ounce out in a bottle because in the beginning, it was such a battle and I didn’t want to be throwing out so much unused milk. If you’ve been breastfeeding steadily, you will need to relieve some of that pressure by pumping outside of those times anyway, so I typically kept freshly pumped milk out in a bottle for her.

On standby, I would have a full 5oz bottle of breastmilk in the fridge. (Keep in mind you can’t microwave breastmilk.)

My days would start with a small breastfeed before she would have her breakfast, and while she was eating or playing I would pump out the excess milk, divide it into the two bottles, put the full one in the fridge and the 1oz bottle I would keep on hand because I knew when she got bored or upset, she would come looking for a feed.

Typically getting her to take the bottle was a battle every single time for the first three days. If your weaning while your child is fully mobile and can reach for you or pull your shirt down, I would suggest wearing a high neck, a fitted t-shirt during the first three days and even go so far as also wearing a sports bra underneath to make sure they are completely inaccessible. If my daughter even caught glimpse of my nipple she would completely lose her mind.

Most of the first three days will, unfortunately, be letting your child emotionally tire themselves out before they take the bottle because they have no more fight left in them (at least that’s how my wonderful weaning journey began).

This is going to take a lot of your strength, I know it did for me. My daughter became a completely amped-up version of herself and got quite violent with her tantrums. Typically a tantrum for her is lying down somewhere on the floor in view of me. She would press her forehead to the ground and cry before rolling onto her back (fake crying, mind you) and she would randomly lift her legs and slowly bring them down. It honestly looks a little bit like hilarious, emotional yoga. When we started weaning, she became obviously frustrated with the whole thing and started lashing out.

She would try and pull at my shirt and when I kept pulling her hands away and offering the bottle her frustration would peak and she would transform into this adorable little monster. Don’t let her cuteness fool you, she would pinch, slap, try and bite me. Honestly, my living room was the octagon and there were no rules in this match.

I personally think (although a lot of moms I have spoken to about this have disagreed) that it’s best to provide comfort during this time to help them with the transition. Comfort was important to my daughter because that was why she breastfed so often. It was a comfort thing to her, much like a soother would be to another child. So to take away breastfeeding and also take away the comfort she needed in that time and let her cry-it-out by herself was something I knew just wouldn’t work emotionally for my daughter.

I needed to get her used to the routine but also let her know the comfort she needed from me was still there. So, I would pick her up with her back against my chest so she couldn’t hit, pinch, or bite me, and I would walk laps around our living room while counting softly, or singing. Usually after about five minutes or so she would calm down and it was time to repeat the process all over again.

Moms, let me tell you, this was a lot on me emotionally. I cried a lot, I lost my patience, I was frustrated and angry. Emotionally and physically, I was completely spent.

The most difficult part of the whole weaning process is feeling like you’re losing that bond with your child that you’ve build breastfeeding. It’s hard to go from being their favourite person to someone they may try and lash out because they don’t understand what is going on and why things are changing.

Emotionally I was a wreck, and my days were a tornado of tears, milk, and exhaustion.

The guilt was weighing really heavy on me during this whole thing and I found myself doubting my capabilities as a mom and whether or not I was fully up for the task.

After the third day, I eliminated the morning feed and kept her busy in the morning. If your child likes something else (mine loves water), I would fill their favourite cup with this and let them have that while they eat breakfast and play and you can pump. Typically I kept my daughter busy with Super Simple Learn videos because she loves to count along or watch the ABCs. (This company is super great and I absolutely love their videos. You can watch them for free on YouTube and they teach everything from animals, numbers, to days of the year, even sign language!) While she was busy, I would go into the kitchen where I could still see her but she couldn’t see me and I would pump.

The fourth day was still difficult, but substantially easier than the first three days. For any parent going through this, I would say once you get over the third-day hump, it’s pretty much downhill from there.

My biggest challenge was naptime and bedtime because my daughter was so used to nursing to sleep. Usually, when she started to get tired and her naptime was getting close I would put her in the stroller and take the bottle along knowing she wouldn’t give me any trouble taking the bottle in the stroller if she was busy looking around on the walk. Normally she would get just about through the bottle and would pass out.

On the fourth day, I also started to do 1/2 and 1/2 bottles. 

It’s important to start switching to whole milk, or whatever milk you decide is best for your baby gradually. The walks made that transition a lot easier, so will car rides and any other place your child will take a bottle from you without much fuss.

My daughter is also very curious, so I found if I took her into the kitchen with me to make a bottle and she could watch, she would take it from me right away just to see what was what.

When I started adding whole milk to her bottle she did give me a tiny bit of resistance. At that point, I also started adding a scoop of Ovaltine to her bottle which was something I would do when she started to get sick before we started the weaning process. It is chocolate flavour so of course, that made the world of difference to her.

By the sixth day, I eliminated any daytime feedings and we were strictly down to bedtime feedings. Having the few test days where I would give her a bottle for walks really helped with the transition and honestly, it was the easiest feed to completely cut out if I kept her busy.

Things to note, my daughter’s appetite completely changed while weaning but I expected that because when she is overly emotional she refused to eat any solid meals and will only snack. I had to get a little creative with snacks to make sure she was getting enough to eat. Anything your kids can pick up and eat themselves is always great because while they’re mad at you, getting them to sit and eat will be really difficult.

My daughter also got diarrhea while we were transitioning her from breastmilk. Now, a few people told me this wasn’t normal and that she may be lactose intolerant, however, she had been on milk since 7 months and had never had an incident. That being said, it is also possible to develop an intolerance. So when she started getting diarrhea, I switched to infant formula to see if that was what it was. The switch was awful, she hated the formula, it made her gassy and even made her spit up a bit, and she still had diarrhea.

I think you just have to know your child. My daughter is, as I’ve stated before, very dramatic. When she tends to be overemotional or resisting a big change in her life she often gets diarrhea. I decided to wait it out and see if it went away when she got used to this new routine.

Day eight was when I switched to 1/2 breastmilk and 3/4 whole milk. 

This was a fairly easy switch but I was also adding a scoop of Ovaltine to her first bottle and her bottle before her nap. Outside of those two 5oz bottles, she usually had a third around the time she woke up which was plain.

By the tenth day, we were exclusively bottle feeding. 

If you have a child who likes to feed to sleep as mine does, I find it helpful if you offer them the bottle before they actually get to bed. By the time we had gotten to the point where she was drinking from a bottle at bedtime, she was on 100% milk. I found it was better if I offered her the bottle while we were still reading stories because she didn’t associate that with bedtime and feeding to sleep. She would typically finish about 3/4 of her 10oz bottle before we were done reading. Most nights she would not want to finish it and she would roll around the bed a little bit until she felt settled enough to pass out.

So that’s it. That is how I weaned my daughter from breastfeeding in 10 days.

Now again, this is just my journey. My child is not your child. Maybe your child will be an angel while your transition and you will look back at this post wondering what in the hell was going on in my home during all of this, but maybe your child won’t be and maybe the things that worked for me may not help with your child. But honestly, sometimes just reading about someone else’s journey and realizing you’re not alone in your struggle is enough.

I am not an expert on anything, especially not parenting. All I can do is tell you what it was like for me and hope that somewhere in this blog entry there is something that will make your day even the tiniest bit easier.

As always, it’s been a pleasure pretending to know what I’m talking about!

Until next time.

Travelling With A Baby Or Toddler

The stress, anxiety, and just basic wear-me-down of parenting gets to you in the first year, which was why we thought going on a family vacation with my mom and siblings was something we both wanted to do. We worked the cost into our budget and decided it was worth the money to escape the daily routine of parenting.

Sometimes for your mental health and overall wellbeing, it’s important to step out of the rat-race of your life and have someone else cook your meals, lay on a beach, and not have to think about every little thing and moment of your day.

This was not our first trip with our daughter, we had taken ReeRo on a plane when she was barely two months old so we could go and visit my husband’s family in Nova Scotia. This vacation was very different. When we went to the East Coast to see his family, there was little stress around the packing process, because we knew that if we forgot anything, we could always run to the store and pick it up.

This destination was different. We were going to Santa Maria, Cuba and I would be able to run to the store and grab diapers, wipes, and other baby necessities if I had been so careless as to forget.

Packing, to say the very least, was quite stressful. She basically has a small carryon case and half of a larger suitcase all to herself. It was packed with diapers, wipes, baby wash, teething medication, bug sprays, lotions, toiletries, snacks, toys, I had to anticipate her every need for the upcoming week and make sure we were prepared for it. A destination like Cuba meant I knew she couldn’t eat a lot of their food options that had come in contact with their water, and she also couldn’t have any of their dairy. Goldfish crackers, Gerber Puffs and Cheesies, and breastmilk were her main diet for the week, despite me trying to get her to eat things there, she just wasn’t having it.

One thing I will say is I did anticipate her diet when travelling. Cuba is a bright and colourful place and I knew she would be overwhelmed with it all. She left our Canadian winter and was suddenly in the sun, free to explore the entirety of our resort on foot. Usually, when something changes in our routine, she gives me a hard time when it comes to eating, so I did arrive there knowing full well she would want to breastfeed more than anything else. I wasn’t prepared for her to not want any other food.

The only thing she would ever eat was their pancakes and bread.

What also made this trip very different is my baby girl was no longer the baby she was. She was this little person who got bored and had her own routine she liked to stick to. She was stubborn, and she more often than not, let you know if something wasn’t exactly how she wanted it.

She started to walk around the beginning of November, thank goodness. Her finally walking meant that there was no need to pack a stroller, and it also meant that a sense of independence would result in less tantrum and more exploration.

The fact that she was walking made the airport a breeze. She wanted to walk the length of the big windows, watching all the planes and other vehicles on the tarmac. With her new explorative side, I was worried she wouldn’t want to sit still on the actual flight.

Our last flight she was so small, she breastfed the whole short flight and I don’t think she knew we weren’t just as home sitting on the couch. This was very different, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well she did.

I packed her little princess backpack (that she could carry herself had she wanted to, of course, she didn’t want to) with two of her favourite books Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and Baby Bear, Baby Bear, some snacks, and of course the iPad with some interactive games and a few videos that we knew she liked and would keep her busy. We brought her noise-cancelling headphones because they have been said to help with the air pressure on take-off and landing. She did her own thing for most of the flight and did take a small nap on both the way there and the way back.

There seemed to be a lot of kids on our flight and she seemed to be amongst the best behaved, so I definitely felt good leaving the plane knowing how well she did.

I think whenever you travel with one of your littles, it’s important to just prepare. Over prepare! If you even think maybe you need something, pack it. It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

I think a lot of parents, especially new parents worry that travelling with your children may take away from the feeling of it being a vacation. Sure, it’s not as relaxing and you are never really off-duty, but there is this different feeling of bliss watching your child(ren) experience things for the first time. That sense of wonder is really so special.

I loved watching her see lizards scurry across the grass or the walls. Watching different, more colourful birds fly around and watching her try and walk up to a frog. We went on an excursion and swam with the dolphins after seeing a dolphin show, which I wasn’t sure if she would be okay with. She only had a small freak out when it swam by and her fingers grazed the underbelly (even though she had touched it’s back several times and was completely okay and even excited about it).

All in all, it was a wonderful trip. I prepared. I made sure she had more than enough for the weather, and to keep her busy and I am so happy we decided to take the trip.

If you’re a parent and you just aren’t sure, it’s a good time to test out travelling. Why? Because usually children under a certain age stay free and all you have to pay for is their tourist visa which costs under $30CAD in Cuba. And you DESERVE it!

A Low Bar For Self Care

My morning routines may not seem like much, especially considering most mornings my sink is more full than empty, my daughter is no doubt walking around the house with one slipper on, no pants, her hair still slightly messy from her sleep. Toys make up most of the space on the floor and at any given time my TV is playing Super Simple Learning Songs around the clock. From the outside looking it, I am sure there are handfuls of people that will wonder what in the hell I am doing with all my time.

For most stay-at-home parents, this is the norm and they are used to constantly drowning they don’t really expect a lifeline. They’re comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I never get to drink my coffee hot, I’ve stepped on more half-eaten ArrowRoot cookies than I can count, there are a lot of days when I don’t brush my teeth or my hair until late in the evening, track pants and old tees are my new fashion trend and all of my showers are taken with a small human at my feet, occasionally looking up at me from that very observant spot between my legs.

This is parenting.

I’m so used to it at this point, I don’t even know how I would function if things changed.

Today, while scrolling through Instagram, I saw something that pretty much stopped me in my tracks. It was a post by @scarymommy that had me pausing and rethinking the way I did everything.

To sum up, it pretty much said there has never been an instance where taking a shower, washing your face, or brushing your teeth has been considered self-care for dads, so why is it that when a mom gets to spend an hour by herself doing errands, taking a shower or doing anything any normal person gets to do as a daily part of their routine, the world stop and screams “Self-care!”?

Life for moms is rough. Someone who I love who tells it as it is; Chrissy Teigen will be the first one to clap back at anyone who questions her parenting, but having those questions and comments thrown out at her in the first place is not only eye-opening but completely normal in this day and age.

We live in a time where taking a moment to breathe sans kids is considered negligent. Where sitting at the park and pulling out your phone to message people about your day as your kids play ten feet away is enough to call the authorities about in the eyes of All-Knowing Amys and Judgmental Judys.

When did moms become these less-than-human things who had to live for their kids every moment of every day? Who isn’t allowed to admit they need time to themselves without being made out to seem like complete monsters.

Even I am guilty of calling things that should be my basic human rights self-care, when in reality, if I kept the bar where it had been before having my daughter, I haven’t received a single moment of self-care since becoming pregnant.

Society is failing moms, and for every troll on the internet that has the audacity to call a mom who dares go out for a drink with their girlfriends a bad mom, we fall lower and lower.

Sure, this isn’t the life of every stay-at-home parent. Some parents who stay home get up with an alarm clock every day, take a solo shower, put on their faces and get dressed without a child ever even popping up. But more often than not, that isn’t the case. It may be a few days, or even weeks before you see a make-up brush. Dry-Shampoo may know you better than your shower does, and although that is okay, don’t settle for the little things and tell yourself it’s big.

As parents, especially as mothers, we’ve earned the right the have guilt-free time to ourselves. We’ve earned time to work on our mental health and emotional wellbeing without someone saying that doing so makes us bad mothers. We deserve a lot more than we’re given and shouldn’t be shamed for saying so.

Basic care is not the self-care we desperately need and pretending it is maybe more damaging than helpful.

Look, I am just as guilty as every other parent out there. I’ve hidden out of view behind the couch eating a snack I didn’t want to share and raised a ”Self-Care” flag in triumph. I’ve gotten ready; makeup, hair, clothes, without being interrupted and dubbed that alone time as self-care. As ridiculous as it may seem, those stolen moments without a child attached to me are blissful.

But I deserve more, parents deserve more.

Mothers deserve more.

Let’s stop pretending basic care is enough.

Day 4 Of Weaning

The decision to start on the weaning process was not a difficult one to make for me. My daughter has gotten into the habit of feeding for every little thing and having my shirt constantly pulled down, whether at home or in public, was getting old really fast. I knew it would be difficult, my daughter has a big personality topped off with a whopping dose of drama, but I really didn’t think it would be this hard.

I did my research and came up with a game plan. I knew I wouldn’t go cold turkey because that seemed to have bad side effects for both mom and tot. The clogged breasts were enough for me to say I wasn’t going to try it, but knowing my daughter using feeding as a source of comfort, I didn’t want to completely rob her of that and leave her feeling as though she did something wrong.

My plan was to cut all feeding down to three times a day, which is substantially less than the dozen or so we were at before we started this process. There would be days where she would be in a mood and literally, all she would do is feed. Cutting it down to three was something I wasn’t sure if we could do the first day, but we made it through with a lot of screaming and tears (on both sides).

One feeding in the morning, one feeding before her midday nap, and then one at bedtime. Any other drinking outside of those three were going to be with cups and bottles and of course the solids.

At day 4, I have eliminated the morning feed. It’s easiest to keep her busy in the mornings and distract her from her need to feed with her solids and toys. Without them afternoon feed at this point, she won’t nap. I know a lot of moms reading this who have read somewhere that you shouldn’t nurse to sleep are probably thinking this is why. Sure, she needs to nurse to sleep at some points, but I also feel like as mother’s it’s our job to provide that level of comfort if our little ones need it, despite what some literature may tell us. I’m definitely not sorry I’ve been nursing her to sleep thus far, but it is a difficult habit to step back from.

However, with cutting back, it only takes a few short minutes of feeding for her to completely knock out, which is wonderful compared to the 30 or so minutes it took before that.

Her hate of bottles has really set us back a bit. Ever since she was a baby she just hated the nipples of a bottle and refused to take them. It’s definitely made my job a lot harder. Looking back, I probably should have pumped more and given my husband more of a role in the feeding process and it definitely would have made this weaning process that much easier. With co-sleeping and my lack of sleep, I was just doing was easiest and best for both of us at the time, and I regret not taking more of a bumpy road.

Live and learn, no going back now.

Of all the bottles we’ve bought, and we have bought quite a bit, I find she likes the Avent bottle the best.

I’ve heard great things about the Nuk ones as well, but we have a few of these and she just prefers the Avent ones. You can buy them from Amazon, Walmart, BabiesRus for our Canadian mamas. They’re sold pretty much everywhere as they are a popular brand, and this nipple is closest to my own, which is why she prefers it.

What I’ve learned when buying bottles is just stick with one. Buy a bottle, and just keep at it. Eventually, they will be okay with it. Switching out bottles constantly for preference (unless your baby has colic) only makes things more difficult and your baby fussier.

If you have a tot with as strong of a personality of mine, you are going to have to tough out some majorly bad behaviour. At this age, it’s hard to correct behaviour as their understanding is not really at a point where you can nip things in the bud. All you can do is stop them from doing what you don’t like and try and get them to do something else. My daughter is really bad for biting, although it seems to be something she just does with my husband and me when she loses her temper. I cover her mouth with my hand when she is going to bite me, gently push her face away while saying “No” and try and get her to do something else, like look at her book or play with her toys. It usually takes more than one attempt but takes fewer attempts than it did in the beginning.

When I first introduce the bottle, she likes to drop dramatically to the floor and “fake cry” (did I mention she was dramatic) eventually this fake cry will grow into a full-blown wail that eventually turns into an actual cry. In short, she works herself up. (YAY ME!)

In the beginning, I would pick her up and calm her and try again. I would do this over and over. It left me feeling like I had gone about ten rounds in the ring when I was done. Now, I let her finished her dramatics first and when she’s all but calmed herself, I step in to provide a little comfort. It’s extremely hard! I’ve never been the kind of parent that lets her cry it out for any reason, but stepping in too soon showed her tantrums got her what she wanted and lengthened the process.

It’s been rough both physically, mentally, and emotionally. All I can really do is pretend it’s a little easier than it is and tell myself the break of the storm is coming sooner rather than later.