Saturday, October 24, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things...(sorry, Julie Andrews)

For better or worse, I find that new moms are full of of suggestions when it comes to products and services - and I, of course, have more than a few favorites of my own. Just this past week, I helped a mom decide which bathub to buy for her 5-month-old daughter when I was browsing the aisles at Target. (In case you're curious: the whale tub wins, hands down.)

To be clear, no company or product asked me for an endorsement, and I didn't receive any free samples or the like. I just happen to really like these products/companies. In no particular order...here are some of my favorites.

1. The Belle Baby Carrier is by far the simplest one I have seen. We have another brand, too, which my husband likes and I cannot stand, since it puts a lot of stress on your upper back - but the Belle is comfy, cake to use, and it fit both me (small) and my husband (strapping, 6'2" triathlete). Plus, it rolls up into a tiny ball, so you can stuff it in your diaper bag. Now that C is more than ten months old, I don't find a front carrier comfortable, period...but the Belle was a lifesaver while I was home on maternity leave, and something that we used for months afterward.

2. I love, love, LOVE Diapers.com. They carry a wide array of supplies, including organic products, and deliver your entire order for free in two days if you order more than $49 of stuff (which I always do). I bulk order formula, wipes, and diapers. Huge time saver.

3. A friend of mine from high school told me about the Lilypod/Padalily carseat handle pad, a simple but genius product. It velcros over the handle of an infant car seat, and makes it much more comfortable to lug around. C switched to her "big girl" car seat at 8 months, but I cannot say enough about the Lilypod (which, coincidentally, was invented by a mom).

4. If you live in the Greater Boston area, you are so fortunate to have Isis Maternity in your backyard! There are four centers, in Needham, Arlington, Brookline, and downtown Boston, and they sell all kinds of mom/baby gear, but Isis is really on my list because of their outstanding customer service, and the great classes they offer. I took a bunch of classes before C was born (husbands/partners are welcome!), and then signed up for a "new mommy group" that C and I started going to when she was just 4 weeks old. If you have ever had a baby in the dead of winter, you will understand when I say that having a regular excuse to get out of the house and bond with other brand new moms was a complete sanity saver. My Isis Mommy friends are a wonderful group of women, and we still get together on a regular basis (both with and without our kids). As to customer service: we actually purchased two car seats from Isis, after an incredibly helpful associate helped me figure out what would fit in my car (and my husband's car) when rear-facing. She actually hauled several different seats out to the parking lot and helped me install them to see whether or not they would work. I will be an Isis ambassador for life.

5. On the topic of car seats, I have to give a big thumbs-up to the Sunshine Kids Radian 80. It has a five-point harness, is steel reinforced, is super easy to install, and it folds (it even comes with a carrying strap). My husband actually brought the Radian on the ferry to the Vineyard this summer, popped it into the car once on the other side, and was on his merry way. Plus, it lasts eight years, or until your child weighs 80 pounds...but it's surprisingly compact. Rumor has it that you can fit THREE Radian 80s across the back seat of a car. (Not planning on testing that theory, but a great option for those who need it.)

6 and 7. Not sure whether it was the Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe or the Halo Sleep Sack that helped C sleep through the night at an early age, but I'm certainly not going to start questioning a good thing. We started using a SwaddleMe after C started pulling a Houdini and wriggling out of the "blanket burrito" that the neonatal nurses taught us. Once she started to roll over, we graduated to the Halo. She's actually in the Early Walker version now, which makes her look kind of like a Teletubby, but I feel more comfortable having her in a sleep sack than rolling around with loose blankets.

8. Land Of Nod - This store is a spinoff of Crate and Barrel. You can say what you want about people needing to buy fancy bedding for infants that don't know any better, etc., but we outfitted C's room almost entirely in Land Of Nod gear, and yes, it's adorable, but it is also really well made: after almost a year, we have yet to see any wear or tear. Plus, they have lots of choices for girls that don't look like a "pink explosion" (my husband's pet peeve). They also carry furniture, toys, books, and baby gear, as well as kids' stuff.

9. Maclaren Triumph Stroller - After C outgrew her infant travel system, we realized that we needed a lightweight stroller. The Triumph is ridiculously easy to fold/unfold, and weighs only 11 pounds. The buckle is a little tricky to master at first, but since the stroller carries up to 55 pounds, I consider that a good defense against wily toddlers.

10. I never really thought about how quickly kids grew until I went to pick out an outfit for C this summer and realized I had essentially chosen a crop top and hot pants. For cute, affordable baby clothes, I shop Old Navy and Baby Gap on a regular basis, and look for sales at Hanna Andersson and Gymboree.

I could go on and on - but I think ten is plenty for one post! What are some of your favorites?

Monday, October 12, 2009

A "sneak preview" of Baby Steps

In between starting my new job and chasing after C (who just learned how to climb stairs last weekend...yikes!), I have been working on Baby Steps, the e-book. I am so incredibly excited about the women who have contacted me with their stories: marketers, entrepreneurs, lawyers - these are amazing women who have all found a way to balance mommyhood and successful careers. In honor of their achievements, here is a sneak preview of some of their anecdotes and tips.

Jennifer, a marketer and a mom of three, reflects on "juggling" it all.
For a long time I held onto a lot of guilt that I could not give the same level of attention to my job, my house, my husband, my appearance/self and other things that I did before kids. One of the things that got me past that was hearing a quote somebody said about my generation of women being the first ones to have our father’s job along with our mother’s responsibilities. I found relief in knowing that what I was expecting myself to take on was almost twice the amount my mom and her friends had done and I really did not have to do it all. I basically said to myself, “Look, every day I can’t be a model mother, employee, wife, housekeeper, friend, frugal shopper, accountant, educator, etc. So pick one today.” Each day, especially when my kids were in the infant stage, I’d pick one area and be absolutely focused on that area and allow myself permission to give less energy to the others.

Sara, CEO of FlexJobs.com and mom of two, suggests adjusting your expectations.
Keep it in perspective...and GO EASY ON YOURSELF! It’s really easy to feel like you’re so behind in “things” and will never get caught up (there are so many more balls in the air to throw/juggle/catch!), so try to adjust your expectations of what is truly important to get done versus OK to leave until later. Also, for me, I realized that it was a good exercise to look back in hindsight… it seemed that every 3 months or so I remember realizing how much better I was doing than 3 months before, which was better than 3 months before that, etc.

Josephine, an entrepreneur and mom of three, offers some sound advice for heading back to work.
On your first day back to the office, GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! Be upbeat and positive. Remember you are going back to work for a reason. Gently remind yourself why you are going back to work. In my case, I gently say two words to myself, College Education. That usually gets me back on track. I know I'm working to create a better life for my kids and somehow I feel better.

Gennifer, a consultant who spent 14 years at Nickelodeon/MTV Networks, and a mom of two, stressed the importance of having a strong network.
I founded a support group called "The Mama Birds" that I brought to human resources' attention so that we could get the company to support our needs for balance and so the company could retain its excellent employees. My group grew from 7 women on my floor to over 65 in MTV's regional offices and included some dads. After I left the company in 2007, it became an official group at MTV. The name for Mama Birds came from one day when I was hysterical on the phone with my mother after having a rough drop off with my clingy 18 month old and racing for a train into the city to get to the job that I felt no longer supported who I was spiritually. I said it wasn't natural for me to leave my child and go off to work and that cave women had their kids with them while they picked berries etc. Her response was, “Mama birds leave their babies safely in the nest while they go out to get their babies a worm, and that's all you're doing...getting your baby a worm.”


This is just a taste of some of the stories that will be incorporated into Baby Steps. I am working diligently to tie everything together and hope to have the e-book completed by the end of the year. Stay tuned for more!