The holidays are here and we’re putting our traditions in place. This includes a visit to a brown-skinned Santa!Read More
Having to find childcare is tough, read below on my thoughts and the tools I tapped into.
Let’s be honest, no one will ever care for your child the way you do, but unfortunately we live in a society where we are not fiscally able to stay at home for 1 year after bringing life into the world or just having completed adoption. In other societies around the world this is almost the norm, who knew!
When I worked for a breastfeeding consumer Products Company (several years ago) I learned that in places not too far away from America, like Canada, parents can take up to 50 weeks of paid maternity/paternity leave…AND can be split between parents. Talk about a progressive stance and model for other countries! This chart I found to be super powerful, it illustrates the maternity leave time by nation…
America, we got to do better
Anyhow, when I worked in the breastfeeding industry it was such an interesting difference with regards to breast pumps and breastfeeding accessories sales between American & Canadian markets. In Canada there was virtually no milk storage bags/bottles or double electric pump demand as those mothers didn’t have the pressure of feverishly preparing a supply of milk to go back to work in 12 weeks or less like American mothers. This was such an awakening moment for me; it was then that I knew if I were to ever lobby for a cause greater than me, this would be among my list of ideas.
Fast forwarding to my experience as a new parent preparing to go back to work, I was very nervous about looking for childcare, it was legit the hardest decision to date we had made as parents.
Around month 1 of my 3-month maternity leave we started researching what we wanted Bella’s childcare to look like for the first year of her life. Many would probably argue that that’s a little late; some parents chose to put their baby’s on waiting list for childcare facilities in their area while they’re still in utero. Well, we knew she [Bellamy] wasn’t going to daycare until she was at least one year old so we weren’t pressed.
[I will caveat with it really depends on the market you live in, major cities tend to be very competitive with good daycares and often times require you to get on a waitlist more than 1 year before your child is born.]
We started off our initial arrangements by researching independent nanny services, agencies and nanny-share options in our neighborhood. Let me tell you right now, plan more than 3 months for interviews and trial runs if you go the nanny route.
Out of the gate I thought I’d prefer an older, more-experienced woman coming into my home and being with us 5 days out of the week for 5-7 hours – let me share why I was wrong.
We had three different trials before we found the perfect fit for our family. The older lady that I had so comfortably envisioned and nestled in my head as the best option was so darling AT FIRST, then she would come in and sit at my Kitchen counter and drink her coffee and eat her biscuits while Im trying to pump my breast milk or be on a conference call. It was almost as if she thought she was my grandma or something, just odd – Strike 1. Stairs then became an issue for her as our laundry room was on a different level than Bellas Nursery – Strike 2. And the last strike was when I caught her sleeping with my 4 month old on her lap with no support to my baby’s body or neck! And why was she napping with the baby anyway??? Needless to say “Grandma” was DONE.
The bright side to this story is that we found a nanny that came from another family in our area that had experience caring for multiples, so she was great at balancing the day of play and attending to my house needs; a win-win. When it was time for Bella to increase her socialization we parted ways with her, and it worked in both parties favor as she was relocating back to her home state. Im grateful for our experience overall as it really opened my eyes to how overwhelming finding good child care truly is.
It’s been exactly one year since we put Bellamy into daycare at a facility and it was a struggle at first, not being able to lay eyes on my child whenever I had time in my day to do so or simply step away for a snuggle when my job was getting my nerves was an adjustment to say the least. But now, this Mama looks forward to the hours in the day that I can attack my To-Do list freely and feverishly, without distractions or interruptions!
I thought this was an important topic to share as I get how incredibly difficult it is to release your babies into someone else care, especially for first-time parents but it’s what a majority of us American moms have to do so have your plan outlined when youre ready.
3 Helpful Sources to Use when Researching Childcare of any kind in your Area:
Nanny Share.org – nanny sharing is a great option if you’re interested in your child have some socialization but limiting it to one other family. It involves one Nanny caring for the children of two families at once. It can be done at your home or the other family’s home that is a part of the share.
Care.com – online search engine for childcare in your area, there is a monthly membership fee that applies should you want to have access to specific information such as Background Check, Driving Record, Employment History and Contact (definitely worth the investment). We booked our nanny that we had for a year on Care.com and it served as a helpful tool to our family.
Local Children/Family Magazines – typically printed monthly and have special editions focused on daycares, preschool and grade schools in your area. They can be found in your local grocery stores, pediatrician offices and malls. These books are a great reference tool as the contact is tailored to your market, they have sections that advertise available childcare, grade school listings and weekend activities that are great for families and more!
I hope this post was informative and relatable! Let me know what your approach to finding childcare is/was.
Check out the older nanny that I caught snoozing on the job WITH Bella in her lap - SMH. I snapped this picture and text my husband, “shes done!”. I was so bothered by this…
3 Great Tips for Making Bath time Fun!
Help make bath-time a fun to-do for your kids! Our toddler mode has kicked into overdrive since our munchkin turned two last month. Now that Bellamy has a mouth full of teeth, wants to spend 8 hours playing in her bath water before getting washed and wanting to use her washcloth on her own we figured it was a good time to give her bathroom a little makeover! Her interest in grooming herself got me researching the perfect theme I knew she'd go nuts over.
Here are a few tips that will excite you and your little ones about splashing around, brushing their teeth and taking care of themselves.
1. Choose a Fun Theme
I'm a minimalist when it comes to home decor so I definitely believe less is more. When approaching this topic with my husband (Sean) he was totally against transforming Bella's bathroom as he didn't want it to look overly "kiddie" and cheesy, with that in mind I found the cutest Sesame Street decor that is so adorable AND very stylish. Land of Nod [recently re-branded as Crate & Kids ] did a collaboration with Sesame Street this year and all of the bathroom pieces are too cute! Bella is crazy over all of the characters so we knew she was going to love everything about her new space. The ABC Shower curtain was perfect as each letter resembles the characters and follows the first letter of their name. If you dont want a colorful curtain you could always go with a toned down shower curtain and choose colorful towels and bath mats to brighten the space and keep it youthful.
P.S. I will always be brand loyal to companies that get me and my style! Thank you Crate & Kids.
2. Add in Cute & Functional Storage / Aids
Whats' bath time without the best toys to pretend and expand their imagination with?! The toys are cool but what do you do with them after they're sopping wet is the question - find a nice storage container that is discrete and can also drain! You dont want mold to begin accumulating. The one we have is by the brand Boon and they come in different bug and animal Were not quite at the stage of Bella using a small toilet seat so we dont have that in her bathroom yet, but when we do get one it'll be important that it stores easily.
For the teeth brushing crazed child in your life why not have a fun step stool to make teeth brushing and hand washing more exciting! This cute solid wooden stool was perfect for our theme. Not to mention that the quality is unmatched.
3. Use Fun Bath Accessories
Listen, this mama is here for anything that will help my child do something willingly and with little fuss. Lately, her thing has been sucking the water from her washcloth (gag!) then smacking her lips...to avoid a belly ache or worse I found these cute shower poofs with Elmo & Cookie Monster at a Shop Rite in NY - I could not resist!
Try some of these tips to help your little ones get excited for bath-time and have an interest in all bath duties!
I’ve taken a two week break from writing and being present on social media, not because I needed to limit my intake of the massive amount of messaging that I’m constantly inundated with, but because I was tending to my mental, emotional and physical health – for real!
As we approach my baby girls’ 2nd birthday I am reminded of my birth story and postpartum changes I went through that I’m still affected by; so I thought I’d share some the details of my journey, particularly about the changes with my body.
Having a baby we all know will forever change a woman’s physical stature but more recently there has been a lot of media coverage around the mental changes as well, such as postpartum depression. All of these alterations have significant impact on life – I personally still feel like Im suffering from postpartum related issues.
THE BIRTH DAY
My husband and I both were larger than the average 6-7 pound baby so by genetics alone we knew our little one was going to be a chunkers. My baby was born at 41 weeks and 4 days; I was a few days shy of being induced. I had gained 30 pounds during pregnancy but I wasn’t laser focused on my gains, instead I did lots of walking, prenatal yoga to help ensure my body was strong and healthy enough for the natural birth I desired. Despite my efforts to be as active and kind to my body while carrying I was unable to deliver Bellamy vaginally due to a number of factors. My water had been broken for over 24 hours, I would not dilate beyond 5 centimeters and Bellamy wasn’t responding to the number of “interferences” my midwife was introducing. She had inserted her hand in to touch her head, pressed all over my Belly during contractions to see if she would kick, move or anything – Bella wasn’t budging.
At 7:30am on July 12th, 2016 (6 hours post arrival to Labor and Delivery) Sean and I made the decision to have a cesarean. Talk about ear screeching crying – I had a meltdown, I threw the oxygen mask on the floor and proceeded to get off the bed as if I wasn’t hooked up to serval monitors. When my feet hit the floor I was swiftly humbled by the puppy pad that was laid out because during contractions I could not control my urine. I turned to my husband and quickly pulled it together as time was of the essence. After coming to terms with my fate I put my South Philly mug on and said, “I want to see my baby now!” 27 minutes later I was lying on the surgical table having battles of shivers and chills from the anesthesia listening to the staff shout “NOW that’s a big baby!” And I hear more and more voices chiming in and finally was able to find the strength to belt out “HOW BIG IS SHE?” “Someone tell me something, please!” Keep in mind, I’m still being sewn back to together, Bellas umbilical cord was also still attached as we requested a delayed cord cutting. I also hear the pediatric nurse that was assisting Sean with the cutting say, “I think this is the biggest umbilical cord I've ever seen!” They finally shouted to me that Bellamy was 10 pounds 7.2 ounces – DAAMMMNNNN. Literally she was the biggest baby I've ever known personally… and she came from my body, this was a major pause moment for me.
So what happens to your body after major abdominal surgery? After carrying a baby the size of mine? Fast-forward to my first appointment with my midwife, I was 1 week postpartum. It was at this visit that I found out one of my dissolvable staples had come out (likely from me doing the most and not staying off my feet as instructed). And yep my gangster and very much old school Midwife sutured me back in that very moment, no warning! Scaring memory #1.
NOTE: Your doctor or midwife will set up a 4-6 week birth appointment to check on your physical recovery from pregnancy and delivery, see how you're doing emotionally, and address your needs going forward. However C-section moms, for example, will have an appointment a week or two after delivery to have your incision site checked to ensure its healing properly.
I also learned at this appointment that my abdominal muscles were separated permanently. This condition is known as Diastasis Recti a.k.a the mommy pouch. I was immediately referred to a physical therapist that I was recommended to see once per week. I tried to keep up with the visits but traveling 20 minutes with a new born in the dead of summer, coupled with some horrific diaper/carseat blow ups and on demand breastfeeding sessions, I was OVER it. I took what I learned from the PT and tried to do my exercises at home. I also researched some helpful mommy blogs to get through, here’s one that I used: DA Helpful Exercises
In more recent times, my heartburn saga continues. This symptom was introduced to me during pregnancy but never left and has gotten more intense. My insides were so compressed that the band at the top of my stomach loosened allowing stomach acid to escape – this is probably the most painful lasting side effect of pregnancy. I am still dealing with residual effects of it. I think I will forever be on a Rolaid and Tums regimen, sadly. The most disappointing thing is I will never have a jalapeno margarita again L
Despite my hardships on this journey and physical transformation nothing will ever take away the pure joy my baby brings me and this blinding and powerful feeling is the very thing that allows us moms to do the pregnancy thing again.
Signing off and thanking GOD for the amnesia.
Here are some pictures from our Trip to Riviera Maya Mexico - May 2018
We recently took our 3rd international trip with our 23 month old; Miss Bellamy Harper last week to Mexico and this trip was a bit different from the last trip we took in March because she’s WAY more active. She’s in to everything and has to move some part of her body at least 99% of the time, real talk. We made sure that this flight was a direct to our final destination cause ain’t nobody got time for unnecessary layovers with a toddler…
Since summer has finally arrived and school is out, its time to get ready for fun trips with the fam, beach trips, holiday vacations, weekend road trips – whatever you have planned don’t get caught out here without having prepped in advance!
My Top Tips for Traveling with Your Tot:
Get Organized: As if I don’t have enough arms and fingers to balance bags, a baby plus my own things already… I hate fumbling and searching for all of our boarding passes, stroller/car seat tags and passports when going through an airport. I take my LV Neverfull (which is ALWAYS full) shoulder bag and organize it based on whos going to need what. Its split into thirds, a space for Sean, Bella and then myself, that way I know exactly where everything is and I don’t have to rummage through. Eventually Bellamy will have her own carryon luggage once shes a ticketed passenger, in the meantime mommy lugs it all….
I also have this really cool Passport Holder that keeps me very organized and its easy to locate in my larger carry on. It’s perfect for all our travel documents and it also fits money and Pens! Those damn immigration forms kill me and whats worst is the flight attendants’ never have ink pens, so I carry my own.
Planned Entertainment: I prep lots of entertainment options for Bella to keep her from wearing out my personal phone and tablet battery (because she’ll try it). We want to keep her stimulated in airports, in-flight or long car rides so I like to pre-download all of her content at home just in case we don’t have access to FREE wifi once away from home. If you have a subscription to Netflix or Hulu they typically have certain movies or episodes of shows your child follows that are available for download (it takes a while so do this a couple of days ahead of travel). I also like to bring activities that we can do together and small format books that pack well.
Im so in love with this cute Felt “Busy” book I got from Target in the seasonal section! (this section gets at least one purchase from me per visit). The book is for Pre K + up and has 4 pages of activities that offer critical thinking, spatial relations and exercise fine motor skills, not to mention its super cute!
Travel Friendly Baby Gear: When we created our baby registry this was one of the first things I added, I knew we would have two strollers, our big-body that we use on the regular and a smaller one for when we’re flying or in tight spaces like amusement parks. The gb Pockit Stroller is a MUST HAVE in my book. Its sleek and lightweight which is important because when shes not in it we throw it in a backpack, yes its small enough to fit into a backpack, and keep it moving. It stows perfectly as well, once you get the collapsing technique down it’ll become your best travel buddy. Bella will ask to get in her stroller she loves it so much. The color we have it called Dragonfire Red, but its offered in 3 different hues.
This stroller is BOMB… so much that its in the Genius World Record Book as the “World’s Smallest Folding Stroller”. Whenever we’re out with it people notice how we break it down and they always comment on how innovative it is and how they wished something like that existed back when they had kids, LOL.
Check out this quick tutorial I did on how to quickly assemble/ break DOWN this strollER:
Snacks, Snacks, Snacks & more Snacks: Noone wants a hangry baby on-the-go so pack some healthy options for your little one to munch on. You don’t want to do too many sweet things that may make them hyper but definitely some of their favorites. If you’re flying you can put them in an insulated lunch bag and let TSA know when going through security if you’re carrying a container with liquid or pouches. We swear by the pouches when away from home.
Anticipate Mess: Sh*t happens, right? All the time. Pack several changes of clothes and plenty of extra diapers + wipes in your carryon or an easy accessible bag for car rides. I also like to take travel placemats with us because you cannot trust your babys’ food on just any surface, check out the below for some options we own.
2. Travel Placemats
It was a very bitter-sweet moment when we stepped off that plane this last trip because it’s the last flight my baby will take for FREE! (Insert tears-streaming down face emoji). Traveling with small ones can seem daunting but don’t let the fear of what could go wrong stop you from living! We were intentional about traveling with Bella at a young age so that we could expand her perspective of different surroundings, different languages and cultures – it’s always a good feeling to know that from each trip and experience we’ve taken away unforgettable memories, despite the work and preparation it takes to get there.
What are some of your tips when you travel with your little ones? Im down to hear some of your best and craziest on the road stories too!
A special clip of the moms in my village talking about their views on motherhood. I also share a recap of my time at the 2018 Momference - a conference for black moms in business.Read More
Literacy is critical and it starts NOW!Read More
Man... let’s talk self-care and attention this week. I don’t know about you ladies but these past couple of weeks have kicked my butt! All aspects in my life have been pressure testing my patience, literally. At one point I thought I was going to just lose it! The to-do list kept growing, new news at work (a lot to digest frankly), Bella was sick; now my husband is sick…I traveled for work, my rod set got ruined in the rain AND on top of all that I still have laundry to fold from our vacation last month lol . Let’s just say the breaking point was in sight.
When I feel like the walls are closing in on me I wave that white flag to surrender myself to that “mama needs a sec” place. Realizing that taking a step back is hard for us moms to do, it’s so necessary. It’s necessary for all those in the house... recharging that 9Volt battery that we run on is imperative so that you can be your best you for those you love and to maintain the stamina for that thing called work.
Self-care has become a buzz term these days but it’s what moms have been doing since the beginning of time to cope with existing as the heroine she is. I vividly remember my mom taking her moments, she would cut on her music, pour her bev of choice and tell us to take our asses outside and play!
Its not only critical that we remain thoughtful and intentional about carving out the time but that we also remain consistent! On the blog this week I wanted to share some ways and things that Ive done to take some ME time and hope that you ladies will share your ways of escape with me as well! You want to have fun and be creative, right?
I personally love being groomed! Even before all of my added responsibilities in life; manicures, pedi’s and waxing have been a part of my monthly routine. The only difference now is I have to get these appointments in where they fit in!
I’ve been trying to step up my “selfcare game” with some of these things:
CANDLES & WINE [PATIENCE JUICE] – Any time I can remove myself from my responsibilities around the house and take a breather is ME time as its best. Lately I’ve been obsessed with this soy candle line based in Brooklyn called LIT Brooklyn. My favorite scent is 1989 which is Sweet patchouli & almond scent—AH-MAZING! I light my 1989 and grab mama’s red wine goblet for a couple hours of mindless internet searching or TV. I call my red wine my patience juice because I’ll be honest Ive blurted out things in anger; yelling NO! STOP! and sometimes F*CK J! When that F-bomb is dropped I know I have to step away...Im predominately a red wine drinker but when stuff sh*t hits the fan anything will suffice. I like to stay within the $10 price point per bottle but I recently tried this Argentinean Malbec named Alamos that’s around $17 and its Superb! There’s nothing like quiet, the aroma of your favorite scents and some wine to take you to a different dimension. So treat yourself to the good stuff and save the house wine for another day.
GIRL TIME! – Oh how I miss my girls…our lives today are consumed with too much to do and too little time to chop it up like we use to. The feeling of being in the presence of like-minded women who just get you regardless if you are in the same stage of life is immeasurable. When I need a good pick me up or someone to vent to, to be my sounding board, I call my crew. Whether its over dinner, drinks or just a night in…the bonding that happens in a judge-free zone will do wonders for your soul & attitude. Though its not as frequent as we would like when we do link up, magic happens!
VAGACIAL – I’m a sucker for a good Brazilian wax, it redefines me - legit. It makes me feel like a NEW woman [Insert Cardi B Face with tongue out]. The last several times I visited my esthetician I decided to up my service with this post wax GEM! A vagacial is a facial for the outside of your lady parts [vulva] and its the latest in genital grooming trends. Its a deep cleansing, exfoliating, smoothing, and a variety of masks and serums. The best part is the steam machine works down there as well…talk about heaven!
TREAT YO SELF! Next time you get your pedicure or mani – opt for the deluxe, get the extra service or add the extra hour to your massage because WE deserve to.
What are some ways that you take care of yourselves?
Why I wanted to launch a blog. As a woman of color I believe our world can look a lot different when it comes to traditions, cultural influences and how we live so I want to share a glimpse into our world and to connect with other like-minded mamas!Read More