Merry Christmas from the Morales Family!

Merry Christmas from the Morales Family!

Hello dear friends!

We are so blessed to have you in our lives! As much as I would love to send out Christmas cards to all those we love…there are just so many that it unfortunately didn’t happen this year. So, I thought I would take a moment to share a few highlights from our family this year.

The biggest highlight would have to be the arrival of our precious little boy, Caleb. He has brought so much joy to our lives and we can’t imagine our world without him!

He’ll be 7 months at the end of December and is just beginning to crawl. His two little teeth make his smile all the more endearing…although, they make the occasional chewing on your finger a little more painful 😉

We love seeing him grow…which is happening waaay too fast! His little personality is beginning to shine through and he seems to be a typical first child…never going to sleep when there is company and paying rapt attention to the conversation going around him.

We are so blessed to have family and friends who love and pray for him…and his parents!

Jose and I have been adjusting to life as parents and praise be to God who has given us strength and joy throughout the learning curve and sleepless nights. We have been learning just how patient, kind, and loving our Heavenly Father is to us as we seek to imitate that towards Caleb…nothing reminds us more of how we are flawed than being parents and we are grateful for His guidance in raising Caleb.

Another big even this year was being able to move into our own home. I am so proud of Jose and all the hard work he put into this house making sure it would be perfect for us. Even after work was done he would go and work on the yard to make sure it would be perfect. (Special thanks to my suegro {father-in-law} for giving up of his own time to help with that project!)

Ever since I was young I imagined having a home where I could raise my own family and be able to host friends and family. We have been granted that blessing and pray that we might be able to use our home as a means to bless others.

Of course, this year though filled with blessings has been filled with times of testing and growth and we are ever so thankful for those of you who keep our little family in your prayers. We have so much to learn in this journey of life and are grateful for every moment we have together.

May God bless you and your family as you celebrate His love this Christmas season.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Morning Routine to Transform Your Life As a Working Mom

Morning Routine to Transform Your Life As a Working Mom

I’m seriously in LOVE planning and routines! However, as far as having a steady morning routine…I must be honest. I struggle!

Wanting to wake up and start the day has never been my forte. No matter how much I have wished to be a morning person. Coupled with the fact I have a 4 month old, any desire to get out of bed has gone out the window!

Despite feeling like my eyes need to be propped open with toothpicks in the morning, I have found that creating a morning routine helps to keep my mornings as a working mom flowing smoothly. And…even helps me to enjoy them a tad more.

I am falling in love with my morning routine more as the days go by, so I’d share it in a little more detail with you.

While I love doing trying to do this routine every morning, this post isn’t about trying to get you to do it too. This post is just my way to share how I figured out what works best for me so that it might help you figure out the same.

I am working on following this routine almost every morning, even if I haven’t gotten as much sleep as my heart so desires. But, I’m am going to become morning person!

The point of this whole thing is figuring out what will work for you! So, I’ll just say now that if you’re like me and are not a morning person, try to set yourself up with a morning routine that will give you the best chance of succeeding. Make sure you only choose a few things and be proud of yourself when you do them. This is about you, not about comparing yourself to anyone else.

Focus on your strengths instead of trying to improve your weaknesses.

As you read through what I do, try to think about whether it fits your own personal needs and goals or not. Don’t do something just because I’m doing it! My morning routine gets me feeling productive and awake and ideally yours will do the same. There are a thousand ways to end up with that result. Do what works for you, it does not need to be the cookie cutter copy of mine.

To help you create your perfect morning routine, I’ve created a free easy to follow guide to share the exact process I used to create my morning routine. The guide includes worksheets to help you plan your morning routine as well as a morning routine tracker.

All right…let’s get to the good stuff!

1. WAKE UP

Ok, so I know that waking up is a pretty obvious part of this whole morning routine. But, I can attest to the fact that this first step is often the hardest. 

Seriously, as a working mama it is a struggle of enormous proportions to even think about leaving my warm, cozy bed. The desire to hit snooze and get “just 5 more minutes” is many times overwhelming. I’ve definitely been there.

But it is possible to train yourself to get up in the morning. Here are some things that have helped me.

  • Only setting 1 alarm and stick to it. I have come to the realization that I will get better sleep if I just set one alarm and wake up when it goes off. I only feel more groggy when I decide to hit that snooze button.
  • Putting my alarm clock/phone on the other side of the room. I havne’t gotten to this point yet; however, it is an excellent option to propel yourself from the embrace of your favorite comforter.
  • Don’t shock your body by all of the sudden waking up an hour earlier. I have found it easiest to get up earlier in the morning by gradually moving back my alarm in 15 minute increments. This will help you stick to your routine and not hit that snooze button.
2. OPEN THE BLINDS & MAKE THE BED

Unless my husband is still sleeping, I always make the bed and open the blinds as soon as I wake up. This is a great way to keep yourself from diving under the covers again. Who wants to have to make their bed twice?! If I don’t do it as soon as I get up, I will as soon as hubby gets out of bed. Not only does it help me to keep from crawling back in, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment to see my bed nice and tidy.

3. MORNING SKIN CARE ROUTINE

The next thing I do after jumping the hurdle of getting myself out of the bed taking care of my skin. Plus, a splash of cold water help to jolt the last bit of sleep out of my system. Not only does it help to wake up, but it helps your mindset to have a short moment of self-care.

4. DRINK SOME WATER

I love drinking water! I have come to find that my body truly does run at its optimum level when I have had enough water. However, as a busy working mom I sometimes forget to get in the recommended amount of 8 glasses. So, I make it a point to drink at least 25 oz before I even get to work. 

Side, note…I also in this time frame will drink my pre-workout, because the next step is:

5. GETTING IN A WORKOUT

The final stage in waking myself up is doing some exercise. I have found that if I don’t get exercise done in the morning, it most likely won’t happen. I have found there are so many benefits to getting in a workout. For me these benefits are:

  • Knocking out those last waves of sleep that try to reel me back in.
  • Endorphins…exercising really does help my mood and mindset!
  • Sets the stage for a great day…I’ve gotten off to a good start, why would I want to mess it up with bad eating habits?

I have always struggled with putting together a good workout routine, especially at home. BUT, then I discovered BeachBody. I know I’m seriously late to the party with this one but for some reason, even though I’ve heard AMAZING things about it for the past year, I was really resistant to checking it out. However, a few months ago when I was on Instagram I came across another mama on her fitness journey who was a Beachbody coach. Her transformation and posts got me so excited about how I could have the same results, so I finally checked it out and I’m so in love with the programs and support that is offered.

So far I have done Liift4: an awesome program that builds muscle and burns calories, with 40 min. workouts only 4 days a week. Perfect for this working mama! I can’t tell you how great this program is! Plus, with their “Netflix” of workout programs I have so many options to choose from!

There are several free workouts that you can follow too! Which I find is always awesome 😉

6. GET DRESSED AND DO MY MAKEUP

Again, this seems obvious but it’s so important.

I find that if I get dressed into a cute outfit and make sure my makeup is on point. Not full glam, just enough so that I look like my best self 😉 Feeling like I look good helps to change my vibe towards myself and the day. 

I also try to always have my outfit picked out the night before so I don’t have to make any decisions the next morning (which can seriously fatigue you, as you probably know when you’ve tried on 30 outfits and still don’t know what you’re going to wear).

6. HAVE MY QUIET TIME

My favorite tool for my quiet time are the studies from She Reads Truth.
I don’t like to simply wander around in my Bible without a plan. It helps me to be more focused and learn more in my devotions when I have a guide/plan to follow for my Bible reading. 

The devotionals from She Reads Truth are always timely and I have grown immensely since I found them. An additional benefit is being able to connect with like minded women in the comments section. Connecting over struggles or blessings is a great encouragement.

I also try to take a few moments during this time to create a list of things I am thankful for. Whether written or mental, spending some time considering the things I have to be grateful for, helps me to be in a better mindset and less likely to complain or be grumpy.

7. PLAN AND GOAL SET

As a working mom I have a lot on my plate. Taking a few short minutes in the morning to check and prioritize my to-do list goes a long way to accomplishing my daily goals. I’m also less likely to forget about any appointments, payments, or other important tasks I need to get done.

I highly recommend finding a paper or printable planner that will help you schedule out your day. I find that if I don’t have it written down, it isn’t going to happen! Plus…mom brain, it’s a real thing and some days I have it bad. Having a planner is crucial to me staying on top of everything.

8. BREAKFAST

The final part of my morning routine is breakfast . As a working mom I find it really hard to be able to make a good breakfast each morning. So, I almost always have the same thing…a smoothie. Or, if I have prepped a breakfast casserole at the beginning of the week I will have a piece of that. Find a good option that works for you and your schedule. Having breakfast planned out will make it less tempting to get drive through on your way to work.

HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN ROUTINE

As I said at the beginning, this post isn’t about me trying to tell you that you should do my morning routine too. In fact, I don’t really recommend it. If you’re starting from scratch, it’s best to build up your routine. This routine didn’t just happen overnight. Little by little I added in a step until this complete routine came to be.

Focus on one or two things and do them every morning for a month. Then add another the next month, and another the next month. If you want to create a routine that you’ll actually keep doing, don’t try to do everything at once!

I think it’s super important to make a morning routine that involves you making as few decisions as possible while you’re doing it. After playing around with your routine for a few weeks, choose an order that you’ll do things and stick with it. I always do my routine in the order I listed it so I don’t have to decide what I’m going to do next. Thinking clearly in the morning is not on of my strong points!

Best of luck as you create your own life changing routine!

xo Rebecca

Organization and Time-management Tips for Working Moms

Organization and Time-management Tips for Working Moms

Being a mom isn’t easy…in fact it’s pretty much the hardest job you’ll have. ever. Working a full-time job on top of being a mom…just call yourself superwoman! Now, that is not saying stay at home moms have it easy…keeping the tribe alive all day while also trying to get things done around the house is beyond challenging; however, there are some unique challenges that we face as a working mom.

Really the biggest challenge is maintaining the balance between work and home life. The key is to get organized, stick to a plan and figure out what works for you as a person and a family to maintain that balance. Here are 10 ways to help make sure that you flourish in all aspects of your life as a working mom.

1. Let go of the guilt.

This is all about mindset. Would I rather be with my child instead of at work…yes! However, choosing to focus on the reasons and benefits from working instead of how you are a “terrible mom” can help you to release the guilt and embrace your superwoman ability to manage a career and a home. Why is it you are working? Is it to provide daily necessities and a better life for your child? The ability to give your child a warm home and food, good medical care and quality education? The ability to do these things for your child even when you would rather be with them in person shows your love and strength for them. There is no need to feel guilt when you are making that decision to work when it comes from a heart of love and desire to provide for your child’s needs and future.

Remember, this decision or necessity to be a working mom work might not last forever. Perhaps you will be given more flexible hours to be able to spend some more time at home, or perhaps there is an opportunity for you to earn some money at home.

Here are 3 quick ideas that could get you earning money this week!

2. Plan ahead.

I cannot begin to stress the importance of planning ahead when you’re a working mom. This can range anywhere from creating a menu plan for the week ahead, laying out outfits or packing lunch the evening before, or scheduling in a date night with your spouse. If it isn’t planned…it’s not going to happen!

Some benefits of planning include:

  • Meal Planning: saving money on eating out, not having food go bad in the fridge, sticking to the healthy eating plan you started.
  • Weekly Planning: not forgetting your child’s doctor appointment, having the time to fit in that workout, getting one cleaning chore done a day.
  • Daily Planning: not forgetting your lunch because you packed it the night before, saving 10 minutes in the morning because you already chose what you were going to wear, peace of mind knowing what tasks are priority (and not worrying all day that you are forgetting something!)

3. Have routines.

As a working mom having routines helps to simplify life soooo much! I like to have one for the morning and evening. This ensures that you are well prepared for the day ahead, don’t forget any important tasks (or leave them half done), and keeps you on schedule.  Here’s an example of what my routine is…well, what I attempt to have!

Morning Routine

  • Wake up and drink some water
  • Devotions with a cup of coffee
  • Drink my mama juice (if you have kids you NEED this, haha!)
  • Get in a workout
  • Shower and get ready (while possibly drinking another cup of coffee…)
  • Check planner to review plans/goals for the day
  • Make smoothie
  • Head to work

Evening Routine

  • Dinner
  • Family time
  • Put baby down
  • Prepare for the next day: pack lunch, lay out outfit, write to-do’s in planner
  • Reflect on goals (what steps I took to reach them that day/what needs to be done tomorrow)
  • Read (it’s been a struggle to get this one in, but I love to try to get at least 15 minutes in before bed)
  • Gratitude (this can be a journal you keep or simply taking 5 minutes to reflect on things you are thankful for)(this helps me end the day on a good note and be able to wake up the next morning with a good mindset)
  • Get ready for bed and sleep (well…as much as one can with a 4 month old!)

4. Prioritize.

I’ve said this before…but, as a working mom you can’t do everything! No matter how much you try or how well you plan there is no possible way for  us to get everything done.

and you know what?

It’s ok!!!

So, what’s a working mom to do? Prioritize! 

Every morning I like to look at the day ahead and see which tasks are the most important. I will then write down my “top three” in my planner. Even if there are 10 tasks in my to-do list for the day as long as those top three are done I consider myself accomplished. As a working mom, sometimes you just have to decide what is more important…a homemade meal or a clean bathroom. 30 minutes with your kids before bedtime or folding the laundry. Priorities will be different for each situation and each family, but if you prioritize than the important tasks can get done and you can let go of the guilt of not completing everything on the to-do list.

5. Use a planner

Mom brain…sleep deprivation, whatever you want to call it…might be the reason why I continually open the fridge to find my phone or apologizing because I’ve missed an appointment.

Having a planner, whether paper or digital goes a long way to helping us frazzled mama’s not forget what is important!

I have found that if it doesn’t get down I’m most likely not going to remember! So, for things like:

  • Schedules
  • Appointments
  • To-do lists
  • Bills
  • Grocery lists
  • etc

Have a cute planner you love and put EVERYTHING in there!

I have used the Erin Condren planner in the past and loved it! Or you could download some printables and just print out pages as you need them. I happen to know of some cute ones that I love to use 😉

6. Stay connected during the day.

I am so fortunate to be able to have my “suegra” (mother-in-law) take care of baby Caleb during the week. I am able to check in with her when I need to and she send me pictures throughout the day helping to motivate me to work hard for my little boy and minimizing how much I miss him. My husband also is able to stop by for lunch and often during my lunch break I can Facetime with him and Caleb.

See if your child care provider uses and app or has the ability to send you a quick photo or update on how your child is doing. Or if your child is older see if you can call them during your lunch break. This not only helps comfort your heart as a working mom, but also strengthens your relationship with your little ones as they get to hear you and know you are near.

7. Spend time with your spouse.

It’s easy for our spouse to begin to feel a little left out as we get home from work and then rush to prepare dinner, clean the kitchen, do the laundry, calm the baby, etc, etc…

The best way to combat this is to maintain open lines of communication. I know it is hard to find a quiet moment, but perhaps you can find time to connect while you both fold that huge stack of laundry that has been sitting on top of the dryer for the last three days. Any little thing you can do together goes a long way to helping keep your relationship strong. There are several things you can do to help prepare your marriage for when kids arrive.

Don’t feel bad about leaving baby for a date night. Yes, you did spend 40 hours away from baby during the week, BUT strengthening your marriage is truly an investment for your whole family. Having a strong happy marriage is going to help create a more loving, stable environment in which your children can flourish. It will also help to make daddy feel special and loved as you take the time to focus solely on him.

8. Have some “mommy time”.

Burn out happens. Help avoid the meltdown by taking a few moments to yourself. For the stage of life I’m in this is the ability to exercise (I’m using an awesome at home program that takes less than 40 minutes 4x/week…perfect for this busy mama!) and then take a hot shower and get ready for the day since hubby takes the baby to his abuela’s every morning. This allows me a quiet moment to breathe, think, and prepare my mind for the day ahead without worrying that Caleb will wake up and start crying while there is still shampoo in my hair! Find a small thing that gives you a chance to collect yourself and feel refreshed each day…or at least once a week!

I know as a mom it seems there is hardly a spare moment, but taking care of yourself means that you will be more capable to care for those you love.

Happy wife/mom = happy family!

9. Eliminate time wasters.

Be disciplined and set time limits when it comes to things like social media or surfing the internet…believe me, I know what a black hole Pinterest is 😉 One thing that can be helpful is to set a timer on  your phone once you get on Facebook, Instagram or whatever your social media platform of choice is…once the alarm goes off it’s time to move on to something a little more productive (eliminating that crazy moment of looking up and realizing it’s been two hours instead of 20 minutes!). Also try to reduce watching tv to once or twice a week to maximize time with your family in the evenings. Spend time together having a game night or a walk around the block. This will help to promote healthier relationships (not to mention a healthier lifestyle!).

10. Be present.

Whether you are at work or at home…be all there. As a working mom you will accomplish so much more and connect better with others when your mind is focused on the task or people you have in front of you. You will become a much better performer at work and a better parent/spouse when you take the time to be present and in the moment.

This is especially important with your children. I know how easy it is to get distracted by to-do lists or scrolling through Facebook while they recount (with specific detail) their day. They know mama isn’t paying attention! Putting down the phone and focusing in on them will go a long way towards strengthening the relationship you have with your children.

Remember, life is a journey and you’re always learning…you’re not going to get it right all the time. Give yourself grace, be filled with love and realize it will all be okay!

This page contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you use them. All opinions are my own and I only recommend products I trust.

#momboss, mompreneur, working mom, help for working moms, working mom advise, time management for moms
#momboss, mompreneur, working mom, help for working moms, working mom advise, time management for moms
How to Prepare Your Marriage for Baby

How to Prepare Your Marriage for Baby

It is no question that life changes drastically with the arrival of a baby. Everyone understands the huge responsibility that comes with bringing a baby into this world; however, you don’t realize just exactly how difficult and time consuming it can be until baby has arrived. 

As a new mom your entire focus is on keeping this tiny human being alive. There is hardly any time to bathe and feed yourself, much less to strengthen your marriage.

Unfortunately, the stress, sleep deprivation and emotional exhaustion that comes from taking care of a newborn can greatly weaken a marriage.

Thankfully for us we had this understanding going into this journey of parenthood; however, just because you know what is coming does not mean it makes it any easier. For us the changes that were the most difficult to face as a couple would be:

No down/quiet time to focus on our relationship: In the first two months there were days where we barely said two words to each other. Not because we were angry or upset, simply because we were so focused on keeping this tiny human alive. Hubby would come home from work and then the next few hours were filled with trying to feed and calm baby (a screaming child does not exactly help with good communication). Then once baby was finally asleep we didn’t want to waste any of the precious time and promptly fell asleep ourselves. Sleep deprivation is no joke!

Hormones, hormones, hormones: There are no end to them those first few weeks. It’s hard for hubby to deal with a crying baby and a crying wife!

Personal expectations: All of the sudden there is the switch from wife to mom. The change of your mind and heart to mommy comes immediately and the same thing happens for dad. Each of you are going to have expectations about how the other one will fulfill their role. Everyone’s take on parenting is different, so if it doesn’t match up those expectations it can lead to tension. Also, there are expectations when it comes to baby. After following all that advice you read from Pinterest and parenting books and baby still will not get into a routine or go to sleep easily…that can cause some not so nice feelings to rise to the surface.

But…

It’s not the end of the world! Yes, the changes are immense. Yes, it will be hard! However, there are some steps you can take within your marriage before and after baby comes to help keep your bond strong.

Communication is key!

As I mentioned communication can be quite trick once baby has arrived. One simple thing you can do to prepare beforehand is to discuss what your roles are as parents.

  • What fears do you have going into parenthood?
  • What expectations do you have for yourself and each other as a parent?
  • How will we raise him/her (discipline, schooling, etc.)?

Knowing these ahead of time can save feelings of disappointment or frustration later on.

Once baby has come and it is a bit more difficult to maintain that good line of communication, simply because of the time and energy it takes to take care of baby. One small, yet important thing you can do is to make sure whatever communication you do have is characterized by love and encouragement. It is so easy to snap or say something you don’t mean when you haven’t slept and are frustrated by a crying baby. Keep your words and tone loving and it will go a great way to keeping your marriage strong.

Make it a priority to spend time together.

This goes hand in hand with good communication. It is so key to let the other person know that they still have your love and attention even when it all seems to be directed towards baby. Whether its bundling up baby in the stroller and taking a walk together, getting takeout and watching a movie once baby has gone to sleep, or finding a few minutes for coffee together before work, any little thing you can do to spend some quality time with each other is great!

Those little moments do go a long way towards strengthening your relationship, but do try to give yourselves a date night once a week or every two weeks. Husbands can begin to feel a little left out when all mom’s attention is on baby…and as a mom it’s hard to turn our attention away from baby when we are with them. So let family or friends have the blessing of watching your little one while you two can get away and focus on each other without any distractions. It’s amazing how refreshed and closer after a night out together.

You are a team!

The last thing you want to be doing is arguing over whose turn it is to wash the dishes or do the laundry while baby is crying in the bedroom. Before baby comes set up a plan for the two of you as to how you can work together to get all those household chores done. This will of course differ for each couple and whether or not both parent’s will be working, but get this done before baby comes and it will make a world of difference.

Be a team when it comes to taking care of baby. Sometimes dad’s can begin to feel a little left out, especially if mom is breastfeeding. It may seem to them they never get a chance to take care of their little one. One thing that worked for us was for me to pump once in a while so that daddy could give baby a bottle. This allows dad to feel like he’s helping mom, bond with baby…and even allows mom a few minutes to go get a nice hot shower! If baby is having a rough night share the responsibility of staying up. Let one person sleep while the other soothes baby and then switch after a few hours. 

Intimacy changes:

It is the norm for a new mom to feel a bit discouraged with the way pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding have changed her body. Couple that with exhaustion and the desire to have some personal space after having a baby attached to you the majority of the day it can be hard for couples to keep the physical aspect of their marriage strong. It is important to sit down and discuss your thoughts and fears about how your body has changed and to discuss new approaches to intimacy. Although scheduling a time for intimacy might be unromantic it can help to find the time to reconnect and rekindle the pre-baby passion

Respect the hormones.

As moms we need to realize that we are not going to feel exactly like ourselves after birth. Along with the physical changes come a flood of hormones that can tend to take control of how we feel. Realize that it’s going to take some time to be “normal” and being weepy or sensitive right now is okay. 

The key is to realize when your hormones are causing you to feel this way and clue hubby in. It can be very helpful for him to know “I’m feeling sad because of the hormones” and not because you think he did something to make you feel bad. It will allow him to help your through this time by supporting and loving you instead of feeling down or defensive.

Taking the time before baby comes to talk about these different areas will help to make the transition from being just husband and wife to parents a bit more smooth. Being on the same page in these areas will allow you to be able to love, support, and grow your relationship even when you are in the trenches of parenthood.

Preparing for Baby: 10 Ways to Get Ready for Baby’s Arrival

Preparing for Baby: 10 Ways to Get Ready for Baby’s Arrival

Suddenly it’s there!

Two lines! What you have been waiting for, for what seems like eternity has happened!

Excitement sets in…

and then

the questions…

  • What will pregnancy be like?
  • Will I be a good parent?
  • How will I cope with labor?
  • There is so much to do…where do I start?

This is just a sampling of questions I had running through my head as I stared at those pink lines…and assuming there are some similar ones running through yours!

Fortunately, I have some answers!

Yes, I’m still a new momma, but I have gone through pregnancy, birth and the first three months of living with a baby and I have found the answers to all of those questions. 

Here are 10 ways to prepare yourself for baby’s arrival!

Choose your health care provider for you and baby: It might seem a little bit early to be thinking about this, but you want to give yourself time to research your options. Which providers are accepting new patients, which ones are covered by your insurance policy, and one who aligns with your plans and desires for your pregnancy and birth. It’s important to take the time to find a physician who fits the needs of your family.

Consider how you yourself personally want your birth experience:

  • Are you extremely nervous about the birthing process and worried about complications? Perhaps, you should consider a hospital birth.
  • Looking for a more natural birth in relaxed environment that still provides some security and accessibility to some medical assistance if necessary? A birthing center might be the right choice for you.
  • Do you have a completely healthy pregnancy and you feel confident in the birthing process? Maybe this means you could birth at home with the help of a doula.

There are quite a few options, but with a few simple questions and a little bit of research you’ll be able to decide the right method for you.

(I personally saw a midwife during my pregnancy and had a hospital birth assisted by the midwife and not an OBGYN. This was the best option for me as I wanted as natural a birth as possible, but was nervous about the process as a first time mom.)

Familiarize yourself with your insurance policy: Yes, insurance is confusing. I’m still trying to learn how to interpret everything!

Though it might be something you are dreading, it is extremely important to become familiar with your insurance policy. Here are a few questions to help you get more comfortable with your insurance:

  • What is your deductible?
    (A specified amount of money that the insured must pay before an insurance company will pay a claim)
  • What is your total out of pocket?
    (The most you have to pay for covered services in a plan year. After you spend this amount on deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance, your health plan pays 100% of the costs of covered benefits.)

    Which providers does your insurance cover? 
  • How do you add your baby to your insurance policy?
  • Does your insurance cover breast pumps?

Having a general idea of your deductible and your total out of pocket will help you as you plan out your expenses and savings plan for baby.

Talk to veteran moms: Yes, everyone’s experience is different; however, having someone to talk to and sympathize with you about things such as diminished bladder control and lack of sleep can go quite a ways to easing those pregnancy worries and feeling like you are all alone.

There is a tremendous bond between mothers. If you don’t have any mothers to connect with in your area there are many areas where you can get connected online! There are a plethora of mommy discussion forums, mommy Facebook groups and Pinterest boards. Finding moms who are willing to share their real experiences can help adjust your expectations for pregnancy and birth.

However, if there is a friend or family member who insists on sharing all of the rare and terrifying birth experiences she has heard of feel free to graciously put a stop to it and ask them for their advice on baby registry items instead.

Use pregnancy printables: I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love all things planning and organization! I loved looking for weekly pregnancy trackers and hospital checklists. Anything to help me wrap my mind around what I needed to do and when I needed to do it. Having registry checklists or a hospital checklist helps to set your mind at ease, not worrying that you will have forgotten something important. In fact, I love printables so much I created a few of my own!

Create your registry: This is one of the more fun aspects of baby prep! It is so fun to go through the store or scroll through websites looking at the cute baby outfits and newest baby items. Here are few steps to make it even easier:

  • Decide where to create your registry.
  • Ask friends about their favorite/most used baby items.
  • Download a registry checklist

Yes, there are a million items! It helps to ask friends about what items they are in love with. And don’t forget about checking out the reviews! This really helped me to narrow down what I wanted on my registry.

Go for a tour of the hospital/birthing center: My husband and I did this when I was around 7 months pregnant. I can’t tell you how much it relieved our minds and made our birthing experience go so much smoother!

The last thing you want is to arrive at the hospital and not know where the parking is or what entrance you are supposed to go in! And once your inside you’ll want to know where you are headed!

The orientation at our hospital when over the entire process, explaining where to park and what entrance to go in depending on the time of day. They led us to where we would check in and then showed us the triage, birthing and recovery rooms. It helped me to feel a lot more comfortable about what to expect once we would head to the hospital. Knowing where to go and what the rooms looked like also helped my husband feel much more at ease about the process as well. It’s important hubby knows where to go in case you are to preoccupied with contractions!

Learn about the birthing process: Birthing Classes! Lamaze, Bradley, Hypnobabies…whatever birthing technique you decide to go with, there is a class for it! I highly recommend looking online to see what classes are offered in your area. This will help to relieve your mind as to what to expect during the labor and birthing process. I still recommend attending classes even if you feel like have a general idea of what will go on due to the books you have been reading or research you have been doing.

There is something about hearing someone explain the process and even talk about their own experience that will make you feel more prepared for birth than reading it in a book. Plus, it is a great experience for hubby, because most likely he is just as nervous (if not more) about this experience and chances are he hasn’t really done any reading up on it. Going to classes together will give you time to bond and help prepare hubby so that he feels like he can be a better caregiver to you while you are in labor.

Stock up on the essentials: The last thing you want to have to do is run out of postpartum necessities, diapers, or even toilet paper and toothpaste while you are home with baby those first few weeks!

To make life easier stock up on all those household necessities before hand. Make sure you have all those baby necessities crossed off your registry and the postpartum needs all ready to go in a basket in your bathroom. You could even get enrolled in a subscription service through Amazon to have those items delivered to your house monthly!

Spend time with your husband: Once baby comes, even with your best effort to include daddy, it is very easy for him to feel a bit left out. Spend some extra one on one time with him now. It doesn’t have to be an expensive date night, curled up on the couch watching his favorite movie is just fine! This is something I wish I had taken more time to do. Here are a few ideas to help hubby feel loved.

  • Extra date nights before baby arrives.
  • Before baby arrives write weekly love letters to give him after baby is born.
  • If he has any favorites (food, music, books) purchase those little gifts to give him once baby is here.
  • Get a matching shirt for daddy and onesie for baby.
  • Create a dad basket to give him at the baby shower.
    (A friend of ours did this and it was great! It had some funny things like goggles, a mask and gloves for diaper changes, but a few useful things like diapers and wipes as well)
  • Once baby is here include daddy as much as possible in taking care of the little one (feedings and yes, even diaper changes! Daddy likes to feel needed and useful!).

I am so very thankful for my husband and how he has been my strength and encourager in this journey. He is a wonderful daddy and we are so blessed to have him!

Take time for yourself: The weeks leading up to when baby arrived I took a little extra time to take care of myself. I knew that once he arrived there would be very little “me-time”. Indulge in a new hairstyle or pedicure (most likely you can’t reach your feet at this point!). Go to your favorite coffee shop and get your favorite cup of joe and read your favorite novel. Indulge yourself in that eyeshadow pallete or highlighter you have been eyeing (once baby gets here it’s all about diapers and wipes…enjoy that special purchase without guilt…you have a hard job growing and birthing that baby!)

Enjoy this time! Pregnancy is a wonderful experience despite the morning sickness, food aversions, and aches and pains. It is filled with amazing firsts that both you and those around you can enjoy: telling your husband and then loved ones, hearing the baby’s heartbeat for the first time, seeing the little profile light up on the ultrasound, and feeling those first flutters in your tummy.

Yes, it is scary!

But, it is oh so worth it when that precious baby is placed on your chest and snuggles into you for the first time!

How to get ready for baby: Here are 10 ways to prepare for baby's arrival
How to get ready for baby: Here are 10 ways to prepare for baby's arrival

 

8 Tips To Thrive Your First Week Home With Baby

8 Tips To Thrive Your First Week Home With Baby

In all honesty I barely remember what happened that first week that we brought baby boy home! In the moment when I was right there in the trenches of taking care of this tiny newborn it seemed so vibrant, so real…but then as a few weeks go by and I looked back and realized what a hazy mess of hormones, physical exhaustion and sleep deprivation I was. Don’t take it the wrong way, that first week is an amazing time of bonding both with baby and hubby (seeing your husband as a daddy is the sweetest thing in the world)! However, when you get down to it…it can be a scary, difficult time…all of the sudden your thrown into this role of motherhood without really too much of an idea of what you are doing. You can read all the books and blog posts (which do help) but it’s one of those areas of life where you don’t truly learn until you are there in the moment actually doing it. The great thing is…motherhood is ingrained in us as women! Although you might question every little decision, that maternal instinct does kick in and there is a surprising realization that you are not actually surviving this motherhood thing, but rocking it!

Here are a few takeaways from my first week of being a mom:

Write things down: And I mean everything! Whether it’s with a good old-fashioned pen and paper (my personal favorite) or an app on your phone write down everything. This can be questions that pop into your mind at 2am that you want to ask your pediatrician, diaper changes, feedings, milestones, etc. With the sleep deprivation going on something will pop into mind and two seconds later there will be nothing but a vague recollection that you were needing to do/ask something. Also, you are having to keep track of so many things…diaper changes, sleep times, feedings, pumping, medication doses (if necessary)…make it easy on your poor tired brain and write down those times. Invest in a special notebook or app beforehand that you can use for these purposes. You will be so thankful you did.

Accept all the help you are offered: Something I struggled with was wanting to be the mom that did it all. I didn’t want others thinking that I couldn’t take care of my baby, myself, or my home…but one can’t do it all…one shouldn’t do it all. Take your doctors advice and rest! It really does take a village when it comes to raising a baby. I was blessed to be living in an in-law apartment so my husband and I would just pop up to the in-laws and enjoy a warm meal. My mom also came down to stay a few days and it truly allowed me to get some much needed sleep. There will be friends and family who offer to make a meal, do the laundry, hold the baby while you sleep…don’t say no! Not only does it help to relieve some of the physical tiredness it will lift you heart knowing that so many care for you and your baby!

Include your husband/let him know how he can help: When we got home from the hospital and I was breastfeeding I know Jose felt a bit at a loss as to how to help. It was also difficult because baby always needed me to feed him and sometimes hubby can begin to feel a little left out. Let you husband know ways that he can help you and baby so he can be a part of this journey. This can be bringing you a cold glass of water or rubbing your tired shoulders while breastfeeding. One thing we began to do pretty quickly was pumping (due to various reasons)…this allowed Jose time to hold Caleb and feed him a bottle and helped them to bond that way. I know it is something that he truly enjoyed. So if you are breastfeeding, consider pumping even just once a day to give daddy a chance for some bonding time with baby (this might even allow you to sneak in a nice hot shower!).

You aren’t a bad mom (or dad): Pretty quickly there will be a point where you doubt your abilities as a parent. This came for us one night when Caleb had a three hour period of inconsolable crying…we just couldn’t figure out what was wrong and that turned into thinking we were doing something wrong. We figured out later (Google research and then verifying with our pediatrician) that he was suffering from reflux. It wasn’t anything we had done, or didn’t do…we weren’t bad parents and neither are you! Of course you as a parent want what is best for your baby and when everything is so new it can be hard to figure out what that is…and that’s ok! The fact that you are doing your best and love your baby is what makes you a wonderful parent, even if you don’t know what you’re doing! 

Breastfeeding is hard: You might even cry…several times. That is completely normal…there is nothing wrong with you, mama! Use the resources you have to help make breastfeeding a more enjoyable experience for the two of you. Many areas will have a breastfeeding center or lactation consultants that can help you correct latch issues, check for tongue ties or any other reasons you might be experiencing pain. Also, if you find that breastfeeding is just to painful because of physical issues don’t let it get you down. Pumping is always a great alternative to get baby some mama’s milk. It is time consuming, but worth it! Finally, if you can’t breastfeed or pump…there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Feeding your baby formula does not make you any less a mom. Unfortunately I lost most of my milk supply due to mastitis and then could just not build it back up. Heading back to work caused it to drop even further to the point where it has been necessary to use strictly formula. You know what…it’s okay! As far as giving your baby nourishment, fed is best and don’t let anyone tell you different whether you are a breastfeeding, pumping, or formula mom!

Love your body: It’s changed…it’s puffy, lumpy, jiggly…and will be for a while! You’re body nourished and grew a human life for nine months. It’s going to take time to get back to the physical shape you were in before baby. Don’t worry about trying to get in shape right away. Your body needs to heal and rest. Sleep when baby sleeps and take it easy (don’t be ashamed of being a couch potato right now!) in a blink of an eye your baby will be a toddler and you’ll long for a moments rest! We are strong, beautiful women who brought a life into this world and we should be proud of those stripes and jiggles we earned carrying our little ones. They are our mom badges of honor!

Find what works for you: THIS! Probably one of the biggest pieces of advice I have for new moms is find what works for you. Every single person will have a different tip/trick, style of parenting and it can get overwhelming to say the least. One person will say to wake your baby every 2-3 hours to eat and another will say let a sleeping baby sleep. You’ll find out what works for you and baby. Don’t feel bad to lovingly accept a piece of advice, but then put it away on a shelf if you don’t believe it is your best option. It can be overwhelming all those tidbits and personal views…just remember it always comes from a place of love and care for you and your little one. So yes, even though I am writing what I think will be helpful from my experience it’s okay if you don’t follow what I’m writing here. Find what works best for your family and stick to it! 

Every baby is different: This goes hand and hand with the previous point. Each and every baby is different and that is a wonderful thing! Don’t get discouraged if your best friend tells you that her baby slept through the night the first week. Your baby will get there. Some newborns get more hungry then others and want to eat every two hours while others go 3 hours between feedings. Every baby is a unique individual and once again your mother instincts will kick in and you can follow them and do what is right for you and your little one!

All in all…everything will be all right! If they are fussing and you need to take a moment it’s okay! Set them down in there bouncer or crib, breathe and remember that this is a journey and you are a great mom! Motherhood is going to be one of the most difficult tasks you ever face, but also one of the greatest blessings you’ll ever have the honor to enjoy!

postpartum, newborn, first week with a baby, surviving the first week with a baby

 

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