Theo’s Favorite Things: 16 months

If your toddler is anything like mine, we are all getting a little bored of the activities we have at home. Here are some of our tried and true toys and shows that have been a big hit lately!

Songs for Littles: we all know how much Theo loves Dora the Explorer, but Ms. Rachel and Jules are becoming a close second. Their YouTube channel is full of educational videos for toddlers. We watch this episode usually once a day. I’ve been keeping it repetitive so Theo will know what to expect and start to learn the songs.

Yoda Hat: we were gifted this Yoda hat by one of Matt’s friends! His mom has an Etsy shop and makes them. Theo hates wearing hats, but he knows in order to go outside and go for a walk he needs his Yoda hat and slippers on. Isn’t it so cute?! For the Star Wars babe in your life, support this small business!!

Teapot: this Fisher Price teapot has been an MVP in our house for a while. It lights up and plays really cute songs. Theo loves dancing to the music it plays. It also comes with plastic teacups and a tea tray, once your toddler is old enough to enjoy playing pretend.

Ambulance: this Green Toys ambulance is such a hit in our house. It also comes with doctor toys, and that’s fun too. But the best part is the ambulance has an open top, so your toddler can fill it with toys and push it around! Even Theo’s milk got a ride one day.

What toys should we look into next?!

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Diversity and Raising Children

I wrote this post on June 1st, 2020 and shared it on my Facebook page. I wasn’t writing in my blog yet, so I am sharing it again here (editing for clarity + additional thoughts).

I want Theo to grow up in a world in which I am proud to live. There’s a lot of good in this world, but there’s a lot of bad in this world. I consider myself to be a worldly, well-rounded, progressive, and inclusive person, however I’m ashamed that it’s taken me until now to realize that I need to take action, which for my family, starts at home. There’s another human life that I’m responsible for now, and it’s incredibly important for me to teach him how to be a good human being. There are so many different kinds of people in this world, and I’ve learned the most from those who are different from me. I want to thank all of you for teaching me, and making me a better person for it.

When I was young, American Girl dolls were just becoming a thing. And there were only 4 of them. Samantha, Molly, Felicity, and Kirsten. Looking back, my privilege started with dolls and books. Molly looked just like me – brown hair, white skin, glasses. She was my favorite too. I wonder why? My brown haired Barbies were my favorite ones. They looked like me. My friends who are minorities, and my age, couldn’t have an American Girl Doll that looked like them (now they are available). I’m not frequently in the Barbie aisle, but I can only assume that most of the Barbies available are your “traditional” blond hair, white, skinny girl. The Baby Sitters Club had 2 minority figures in the book: Claudia, as one of the founding members, and they added in Jessie, as a “little sister” later in the series. However, I don’t remember them discussing their cultures and differences often. Even Bandaids matched my skin tone.

I want my family to DO BETTER. I ordered a bunch of books focused on diversity of all kinds, for Theo. While he isn’t big into books right now, I hope he will appreciate them in the future. We plan to keep race, politics, religion, sexual orientation, etc. a topic in our household, openly discussed with him. We will acknowledge that we come from a place of privilege and educate ourselves on how we can help others who may not come from the same place. We will not shield Theo from what’s happening in the world, but discuss it with him in a way that is age-appropriate. We will let him play with cars and dolls. His favorite TV show has a female, hispanic main character. I have purchased books about other cultures, religions, and sexual orientations. We have toys that feature faces that do not look like him.

Once we can get out and about again, we will spend time with others who are different from us. I want us to discuss and honor those differences, whereas those topics may have felt uncomfortable before. We vow to speak up in circumstances in which we may have remained quiet before, whether little eyes are watching or not.

How do you embrace diversity in your household? Any recommendations on teaching diversity to a toddler? I plan on sharing more books and other toys we like that celebrate diversity in future posts!!

13 realistic pieces of advice for the new mama

One of my best friends is having her first baby any day now. I’m so excited for her! She inspired me to write this post, with some realistic tips for all new mamas. So many people provide new moms with unsolicited advice, some of which is helpful but a lot of which is not. I hope these tips help you too!!

One. Don’t feel pressured to sleep when the baby sleeps just because that is what everyone tells you to do, and don’t feel bad if you can’t. It’s impossible. Just sleep when you can. Put your partner or support person on “watch the baby sleep” duty at least once a day so you can rest peacefully, knowing that someone has an eye on the baby.

Two. Accept the help. Outsource what you can, if you can, especially if you don’t have family nearby. Send out your laundry. Order delivery. Accept the meal train. Community is hard in these COVID times, so I understand this can be challenging, but accept any help that is offered to you, even if it’s a friend asking if you prefer DoorDash or Uber Eats.

Three. Baths are scary because newborns seem so slippery and fragile. I promise they aren’t. But don’t be afraid to ask for help for that first bath. Also, you don’t have to feel like you need to bathe them right away. Newborns don’t really get dirty. The spit up mostly gets all over yours (and their) clothes, not as much them.

Four. Not all chores actually can wait. The laundry must be done. Dishes must be done. Otherwise, let the dust collect. You might have a few extra dog hair tumbleweeds floating around, but I promise your newborn won’t notice. Let your partner or support person pick up the slack.

Five. Don’t beat yourself up over breastfeeding. It’s hard. Supplement with formula, or pump if you need to and don’t be afraid of it. I promise it won’t hurt you or your milk supply in the long run, no matter what anyone else says. I’m living proof. If it turns out it’s not for you, that’s okay too! Or if from day one, you want to feed formula, don’t let anyone in the hospital tell you that’s not okay. It’s okay!!!

Six. Lean on your partner, if you have one. If you don’t, try to arrange for a support person to be around for the first few days or weeks. It’s okay if you can’t or don’t want to get out of bed for days at a time. Make them bring you snacks and refill your water bottle. Let them help with the baby, even if it feels like everything they are doing is “wrong” (spoiler alert: it will probably feel that way). They need to find their own way too. And let’s be realistic, neither of you knows what you’re doing.

Seven. Don’t forget to drink water and keep hydrated. You’ll probably forget, but make sure you keep sipping throughout the day!

Eight. While we are at it, don’t forget to eat. Even if all you eat is a box of wheat thins and a few oatmeal creme pies. Keep snacks at your bedside and thank me later. Wait, was that just me?

Nine. Don’t feel pressured to spend all of their “awake time” doing educational activities. Simply holding them close to you and talking to them for a few minutes between feedings is enough. Laying them on their playmat or under their mobile so you can drink a hot cup of coffee is enough. Doing skin to skin is enough. Stop wondering if what you are doing is enough. You are their mama and you are enough!

Ten. Know the difference between the “baby blues” and postpartum anxiety (PPA) and postpartum depression (PPD). It’s incredibly normal to burst out into tears 22 times per day over absolutely nothing. Its normal to feel sad at times, but those feelings should pass relatively quickly. It’s indicative of postpartum anxiety to have obsessive thoughts regarding the health and safety of your baby. Please get help from your OBGYN if you are feeling hopeless or experiencing endless anxiety. I’ll be sharing more about my experiences with PPA and PPD in 2021.

Eleven. Don’t forget that this season will pass. I really didn’t like the newborn stage. Between the lack of sleep, the hormonal changes, the challenges I had with breastfeeding, and the general fear and intimidation of taking care of a human that you don’t even really know yet, it can be hard. And that is okay! Not everyone loves the newborn phase. But it’s just a phase. And if you love and miss the newborn phase, just know that it continues to get better and better! As Theo grows up, I feel sad sometimes. But some great advice I’ve gotten from my own family members is that each age and each stage of life – from newborn to adult children – gets more and more fun.

Twelve. It’s okay if it’s 3 pm and you’ve forgotten to brush your teeth. It’s okay if you go a few days without a shower. I promise you are not alone. But also, make sure you take care of yourself. I promise a hot shower and brushing your teeth will make you feel like a whole new bitch.

Thirteen. Most of all, trust your intuition. If your gut tells you something isn’t right, it probably isn’t right. A mother’s intuition is strong and accurate. It doesn’t really matter what anyone else tells you, and we can all spout advice until we are blue in the face. Trust yourself. Even if it feels like your baby is a complete stranger, you know them best.

Do you have any advice for all of the new moms out there?

Disclaimer: This blog post contains the authors researched opinions as well as actual experiences, and not one of a medical professional. Please consult to your medical professional for their official opinion on items referenced here, and defer to them in case of any conflict.