3 Easy Keepsake Ideas for Busy Mamas

Years ago, I got really into scrap booking. I loved it. I bought the whole Creative Memories Kit (being a student at the time, that was a major purchase). There was only one problem. I didn’t have much to scrapbook. I was still a little too young (and broke) to have a very exciting life and, as a ministry student, I didn’t have the traditional college experience.

But, still, I tried. I have a lovely scrapbook with the brand new car I got at 21, New Year’s 2002 when my friends and I stayed at a nice hotel (and then stayed in our room all night because we were afraid of all the drunk people), a road trip to Disneyland, and my friends and I posing with the books we bought at Barnes & Noble (I told you).

I finally gave up on documenting my life and I ended up making a scrapbook as a Christmas present for my mom. My friend and I would meet with some of the moms from church and scrapbook with them. I would frequently comment that I wished I had something to put in my book and they frequently assured me that when I did, I wouldn’t have the time and would fall very behind.

Boy were they right!

When I have a few spare minutes, I almost always choose a shower.

Still, documenting my son’s life is important to me. I want him to be able to look at pictures of himself and read about the things he was doing and saying. I’ve found 3 easy keepsakes to help with this!

3 Easy Keepsake Ideas for Busy Mamas - Click to see these easy ways to document your baby or child's life!

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information.)

Words to Remember Book 

I received this book as a gift from a friend at Christmas time and I totally love it! It’s just a journal to remember the things your child has said. I’ve only written in it less than a handful of times and that’s really what I love about it. When I do write in it, I just jot down the new words my son is saying and date it. It only takes a few minutes and I don’t feel like a bad mother for not keeping a daily journal of my son’s life!

Old School Photo Album 

When I was pregnant I decided that instead of a Baby’s First Year book I would just buy a simple photo album, print pictures from Wal-Mart and put them in. (OK, fine, I actually have two books because I filled up one book with the first 6 months!) This is such an easy option for documenting the first year (or any year, really). Of course, it still requires a little work.

My Social Book 

If writing and printing pictures still sounds like a little too much then My Social Book is perfect for you! My Social Book takes pictures, status updates, etc. from your Facebook timeline (or Instagram feed) and puts them into a book. It looks like your timeline… in a book. It’s really cool! I had one made from the time I announced my pregnancy publicly (at 28 weeks. Yes, I said 28 weeks.) up until my son’s first birthday. I could not be happier with the outcome of the book. As you can see from the unboxing video. I will definitely be making more of these books.

Use this link for 25% off at My Social Book. 

Do you have any easy keepsake ideas?

The Truth About Co-Sleeping

My son and I co-sleep. Actually, we bed share (more on that later). This is a fact that I didn’t use to talk about openly. Yes, there was a little hesitation to open myself up to all of the “opinions”  but, more so, because I know that there are legitimate concerns about it. But after months of trying to hide it like I hid the emergency formula (you can read about that in Confessions of a Breastfeeding Mom), I started noticing something – a lot of moms co-sleep, at least sometimes. Like me, though, many don’t willingly offer that information. Specifically in the U.S., sleeping with a small child is not culturally acceptable.

And yet… many of us do it. But, wait, aren’t we the culture? Something is amiss. 

I am not writing this post to declare that all parents should co-sleep. What I hope to do here is shed a little light for parents that are considering co-sleeping, are co-sleeping and maybe even those who shame others for doing it because there is a lot of misinformation and fear surrounding the topic.

The Truth About Co-Sleeping - Is it really bad to co-sleep Click here to find out the truth!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure for more information. 

Co-Sleeping doesn’t have to mean sleeping in the same bed. 

Co-sleeping is often used to reference parent and child sleeping in the same bed but co-sleeping doesn’t necessarily have to be thatCo-sleeping is sleeping in close proximity of the child (close enough to touch) but not on the same surface. For the first month of my son’s life, this is what we did. I had the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper and I slept as close as possible to my son without him being in my bed. Then we transitioned to bed sharing. Which, is exactly how it sounds – sharing a bed. 

Co-Sleeping can help baby breathe better. 

When baby and mom sleep close, their breathing patterns will sync up. This is especially helpful in the newborn stage, when the baby’s sleep pattern is irregular. In a sense, baby is still learning to breathe and being close to mom while sleeping helps with this process. 

Co-Sleeping babies spend less time in deep sleep.

Now, this may sound like a negative thing but when it comes to concerns such as SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) this is actually a good thing. One of the concerns with SIDS is  the lack of sleep arousal but when sleeping next to mom, mom and baby have what Dr. Sears (my go to guy!) calls synchronous arousal. This means when one stirs, coughs, etc. the other does as well. Again, this is a huge benefit in preventing SIDS. In fact, sleeping in the same room decreases the chance of SIDS by up to 50%

Co-Sleeping may actually help baby to sleep better than sleeping in a room alone. 

My son had terrible separation anxiety starting at about 6 months. I used to joke, “it’s like he thinks I’m gone forever”. Well, guess what. He probably did. Babies don’t have the reasoning that says, “she’ll be right back” or “she’s just sleeping in her own room”. Babies also don’t have the out of sight out of mind ability that we do. When a baby under one wakes during the night and mom is not there he panics. When a baby wakes in the same room he is more likely to fall right back to sleep.

Again, I am not trying to convince anyone that they “should” co-sleep, I am just addressing the fact that co-sleeping is not bad. There are many benefits, in addition to the ones I’ve shared in this post. That being said, it is important that parents who decide to co-sleep do so safely.

5 Tips for Safe Co-Sleeping: 

Parents should never bring a child in the bed when they have been drinking or under the influence of drugs.

Parents that smoke should not co-sleep/bed share.

Moms that smoked during pregnancy should not bed share.

It is not recommended that formula fed babies bed share, ever.

Make sure sheets are tightly pulled, baby’s area is free of pillows & blankets and the bed does not have any gaps for baby to fall through.

Check out this article for more tips on safe co-sleeping/bed sharing. 

If you would like more information on co-sleeping I would recommend checking out the articles and books listed below. Bed sharing has been a wonderful experience for my son and I… and I am not ashamed to say it!

Co-Sleeping and Bed Sharing 

Co-Sleeping: Yes, No, Sometimes

Cosleeping Around the World 

Sleeping with your Baby (Book) 

The Baby Sleep Book

Confessions of a Breastfeeding Mom

In honor of National Breastfeeding Month, I thought I would share some of my breastfeeding confessions. Also, I am sharing 12 really great breastfeeding posts written by a few of the mamas from my Mom Blog Tribe. Make sure you scroll down to check them out – these moms have some great experiences and advice!

Ok, let the confessions begin..

Confessions of a Breastfeeding Mom - Breastfeeding Blog Post Roundup & Super Basic Breastfeeding Checklist included - Click to get it!

I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding for the first few months. 

The first day my son was born, I was in complete awe over how he nuzzled his way down to nurse within minutes of being laid on my chest. But once we left the hospital that awe went straight out the window. It hurt. It was awkward. And it hurt. When my friends would tell me that I would start to love it, I had serious doubts.

I constantly questioned my milk supply. 

There was no reason to, I just did. My son gained weight fine, he peed and pooped as he should but, still, I was always thinking I didn’t have enough.

I was too lazy to pump. 

The only times I ever pumped was during the engorgement stage and the few times that my son slept through a feeding. (I know there’s different school’s of thought on this but mine is, unless there is a medical reason to wake the baby for a feeding, I don’t!) Other than that, I was just way too tired physically and mentally to keep up with pumping on a regular basis.

I gave my baby some formula.

Being away from my baby and unable to feed him was extremely rare but for such events (since I didn’t pump) I had formula.

I hid said formula because I was ashamed. 

Yep. I have only ever told a couple of people (until now, that is) that I had formula on hand as backup because I felt so guilty and feared being judged.

I worried that my milk wasn’t good enough for my baby. 

Ironically enough, I often worried that my milk wouldn’t be nutritious enough and frequently thought that maybe I should just give my son formula.

I co-sleep because, again, I’m lazy. 

To me, one of the biggest perks of breastfeeding is you don’t actually have to get up to feed the baby. Just make sure the boobs are out and sleep tight. (I love my sleep!)

I’ve never worn a nursing bra. 

A friend of mine told me to buy nursing sports bras. So, I went to the store to get one and… yikes…  they’re expensive. I bought two regular old sports bras for less than the price of one nursing sports bra. I wore those for awhile then, eventually I just started wearing my regular bras again. I fill them in a little more than before but, to be honest, I kind of like it.

I have nursed my son while in a moving vehicle. 

Don’t worry, he was safely buckled in his car seat. I’ve also nursed while sitting in a kids’ playhouse at one of those little kiddie land places, in the bath tub and on the toilet!

I’m pretty shocked that I have breastfed so long, or at all. 

I initially set a breastfeeding goal of 6 months because mentally that felt much more doable than a year or more. But, honestly, I had little faith in myself that I would make it past the first two weeks (I’m pretty sure my support people had even less faith in me!). I was quite shocked that I even made it to six months let alone 14 months (and counting).

Please note, I am speaking from the experience of someone that had minimal challenges. We had a very small latch problem that was fixed in the first three days and my son had oral thrush for two months but there were no major difficulties for us. So, for me, the biggest battle was really and truly my own will and mindset.

What breastfeeding confession do you have? 





As promised, here are some really great Breastfeeding articles from my Mom Blog Tribe. Check them out! 

The Early Days of Breastfeeding – Sophia Says Hello

Intimacy and the Breastfeeding Mother – Lactivist in Louboutins

Breastfeeding My Biggest Nursing Surprises – Short Sweet Mom

5 Things to Include in a Distraction Free Breastfeeding Zone – SoLace in a Small Town

Challenges with Breastfeeding a Toddler – Healthy Happy Thrifty Family

Lessons in Breastfeeding – Momma Junebug

These are a Few of My Favorite Breastfeeding Things – Naturally Made With Love

Breastfeeding While Traveling – Tapped Out Travellers

Confessions of an Exclusively Breastfeeding Mom – From Nurse to Mom

Working Mom Breastfeeding Essentials – Fab Working Mom Life

15+ Recipes that Boost Lactation for Breastfeeding Moms – Fab Working Mom Life

Remembering the Last Latch – Fab Working Mom Life




One more thing! Are you a soon-to-be breastfeeding mama or know someone who is? 

Get a FREE Download of my Super Basic Breastfeeding Checklist. 

 Super Basic Breastfeeding Checklist - Click for a FREE download

7 Ways to be Kind of Crunchy

 

If you’re a mom, chances are you’ve heard of “crunchy moms”. You know… the ones that don’t vaccinate or wear deodorant. They clean with vinegar, they’re obsessed with essential oils, only shop at farmers markets, cloth diaper, wear their babies and breastfeed toddlers. Oh my!

Of course, not all crunchy moms do all of those things – the scale of “crunchiness” definitely varies – and while I’m not really into labels, I do think there is something to said about being even just a little crunchy.  According to crunchymoms.com “crunchy” means being “environmentally, health and socially conscious”. There are a variety of ways that we can do this. And, honestly, I think we can all stand to be a little crunchier.

Why wouldn’t we want to be conscious of these things? 

Though I have been called a hippie and the other day my mom told my brother that I don’t use soap (not true by the way!), I wouldn’t consider myself super crunchy. I have just found little ways to be a little more environmentally, health and socially conscious.

Here are a few easy ways to be kind of crunchy: 

7 Ways to Be Kind of Crunchy

Buy natural products as much as possible. 

Natural products really aren’t that hard to come by anymore and they are better for both your health and the environment. Consider switching out things like your detergent, dish soap and cleaning products with a natural brand. Some of my favorites are 7th Generation, Honest Company, BabyGanics and Dapple. Yes, natural brands can be expensive, this is why I like to have a few favorite brands that I can switch between based on sales!

Make your own products as much as possible. 

This kind of stems from the “but it’s so expensive excuse”. Making your own products can save you a significant amount of money. Like I said earlier, my mom told my brother that I don’t use soap. He was disgusted and I got a good laugh but it’s actually not true. I made Baby Wash when I was pregnant and started using it on myself because I wanted to eliminate soaps with fragrance. I’ve been using the wash ever since and when my son came along, I started using it on him. This has saved me a huge amount of money. To date, I have spent less than $33 on body/baby wash since March 2015.   (You can get the recipe here.) I also made diaper cream for my son when I was pregnant, for less than $5 and we haven’t even used half of it yet. (Get the diaper cream recipe here.)

Use reusable bags. 

So simple yet so many of us just don’t do it. Leave several in your car. Something else I often do is use my reusable bag as a “purse”. I just throw in my wallet and a couple of diapers/wipes.

Find little ways to conserve water and electricity. 

I have often joked that my lack of daily showering isn’t because I’m a tired mom but because I am doing my part to end the drought in California! All joking aside, cutting back on showers whether by shortening your shower by a few minutes or taking one less shower a week all together is certainly not a bad idea. Did you know the average American shower uses 17.2 gallons of water? Check out this article for more ideas on how to conserve water in your shower time.

Also, an easy way to save electricity is by unplugging unused appliances. Not only will this conserve energy but it can save you money, too!

Always have vinegar and coconut oil on hand. Always. 

I never cease to be amazed by how much you can do with vinegar and coconut oil. I use vinegar in the wash, to wipe down counters, unclog drains (just add baking powder)… and I keep seeing more uses for it! And coconut oil? I’m pretty sure you can use coconut oil for anything. I currently use it as face wash but if that’s just too crunchy for you, it’s also a great eye makeup remover! There really are a ton of home remedies you can do with these items. 

Invest in essential oils. 

I’ve used some essential oils here and there but I recently received a DoTerra starter kit with Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint from a distributor I met on Instagram (her name is Rachel and she’s AWESOME. You should check out her feed! Also, though I received these products for free, all opinions are my own). It’s only been a couple of weeks since I received the oils and I have already used them for all kinds of things. The package arrived right as I was leaving for a camping trip and when I came back, I brought allergies back with me. I used a combo of the three oils to relieve them and they really worked! I also had a horrible headache the first night we came back, so I rubbed some Peppermint on my temples and within an hour the headache was completely gone. Then I caught some kind of stomach bug. (I know… so many issues!)  I used  Peppermint, lemon and coconut oil (always on hand, right?) and rubbed it on my stomach. It took a couple of times but the bug was gone within hours. My mom had the same thing and it held on for a couple of days. I totally give the oils credit for my bug being gone so fast!

There are so many uses for oils from cleaning to medicinal.

Drive Less. 

When I lived on Oahu in Hawaii, I did not have a car. That was not initially the plan but I quickly realized that I didn’t really need one and I actually liked not driving – no car insurance, or repairs or gas  meant more money in my pocket! Plus, I felt like one less car on that tiny rock was definitely a good thing. Oh and I felt so much healthier (and less stressed!) because of all the walking I did!

I realize there are places that being without a car would be difficult but there are definitely still ways to cut back on driving (unless you are in a really rural area). Now, I  do have a car but since there is a store within walking distance rather than jump in the car I will walk (except when it’s 100 degrees out!).

These are just a few of the things I have found that help me be a little crunchy. What crunchy habits do you have?

Singing the Baby Blues

What happens when something that is supposed to be the most joyful, though tiring, time of your life turns out to have you singing the blues? It is not at all uncommon to feel this way after (even before) having a baby. Today, we have a guest post someone that experienced just that.  I hope you will be encouraged by Mrs. Z’s story and share with someone that may need to here it!

Before we move on to the post, I feel it is important to point out that Baby Blues is not the same as PPD. You can check out this Real Moms Talk post for more explanation on the difference between the two.

Real Moms Talk Singing the Baby Blues

(Did you miss the Real Moms Talk interview with Rachel Bowers on Maternal Mental Health?) 

Bringing a baby home from the hospital is suppose to be a joyous time. You brought new life into the world. A new life with a clean slate and endless possibilities. This tiny human being is yours and life is suppose to be amazing.

That is what everyone tells you, right? And for the most part it really is an amazing time. Looking back on it, I wish I could relive those first few weeks. The thing is that most women won’t tell you about the strong emotions that come with having a baby. Maybe they don’t say anything to protect you. I am not quite sure but I wish someone had clued me in just a little bit so that I would have been prepared for what they call the “baby blues”.

I don’t really like to call it that but it has become so engrained in our culture to call it that. Like I had mentioned in my last post, I loved my job. I loved talking to people and having a schedule. Life with a newborn is not consistent and definitely far from having a schedule. (I have since given up on being so perfect. Life with kids does that to you 😉 ).

I remember coming home from the hospital and not having a clue as to what to do next. Life was all about changing diapers, feeding, sleeping. It was on constant repeat. Time to take a shower? Forget that. Time to eat? Well, I always found time to eat. But it was always with a baby in my arms. Get a manicure and pedicure? Not likely. Go run an errand? Forget it. Just order it through Amazon.

I even remember one moment where I was so lost and broke into tears. I laid my head down next to my dog and cried my eyes out. I remember looking at my dog and saying “What did I do?”. I feel so guilty that I felt that way. However, those emotions you feel after the baby is born are so strong.

I don’t want to scare anyone about having a baby. It is the greatest thing I have ever done (twice). I love being with my boys. However, those first few weeks are like nothing you will ever experience again. Many of those memories are blurred images in my mind. But the one thing I remember was being exhausted. And I cried. A LOT. I cried whenever my baby looked at me with this gorgeous eyes. I cried when I thought of him being a grown man and not needing me anymore. I cried about the demand that was being put on me for every single thing.

I know not everyone goes through this but it was such a difficult time in my life. And for those of you who might be going through this right now, just remember: You are not alone. A lot of people I knew had babies around the same time and I would see pictures of their perfect lives on social media. That actually made me feel worse because I thought that this was just me. I would look so hard but I only saw happy babies and perfect lives. Then it hit me: These pictures are a one second snippet of someone’s life. Who knows what chaos ensued right after the picture was taken.

The “baby blues” will pass. I know it is such a repeated phrase but here it goes: Please enjoy these moments while they last. I actually can’t believe I am saying this because when older moms would tell me this I wanted to poke them in the eye. In all honesty, I would do it again and again. Even with all of the emotions, hormones, and recovery that comes with it.

 






 

More About Mrs. Z  Mrs. Z

Mrs. Z is a stay at home mommy to two wonderful boys and wife to an amazing husband. Spending time with her family, writing, and enjoying life are some of Mrs. Z’s favorite pastimes. You can check her out at The Mrs. Z Files. You can also find her on FacebookPinterest, and some of her work on Huffington Post.

 

Daily Checklist for Toddler’s Schedule

I  love schedules. In my former life, a boss of mine introduced me to a color coded, “Ideal Day” schedule. It. Changed. My. Life. I had everything scheduled out, short of bathroom breaks. But even then, the perfect time was “white space” time! That schedule made me so happy and it really kept me on track. Well, fast forward several years to being a stay at home mom, and I can’t seem to get on a schedule to save my life.

It feels like every time we get into a groove, little man changes it up! 

Maybe it’s because I don’t work outside of the home or because we don’t have other kids to keep us on a time table but sometimes it seems like our schedule can change pretty drastically from day to day or week to week. Even so, it’s really important to me that we have a schedule of daily activities that we include in our day.

So, I came up with a checklist! I have written down the main activities that I want each day to include. Then, I just check it off after we do it. This really helps me not to waste the day, even if little man decides he’d like to nap at 10am instead of noon (which has already happened twice this week!).

Daily Checklist for Toddler's Schedue

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure for more information.)

What are the main activities?

I’m glad you asked! 

Independent Play 

For the most part, this happens after meals while I clean up. Not only is it helpful to me but it’s great for him to learn to do things on his own. 

Bible Time

(Usually) In the morning we have Bible time. It’s not too “structured” but it has been a priority to teach my son this habit since day one. I just pull out his My Big Handy Bible  and let him flip through. I read the stories as he lands on them. I make it a point to have props on hand that might enhance the story, like our spray bottle for Noah’s Ark! We also sprinkle in songs that go with the stories. 

Music Time 

I like to make sure to do about 15 minutes of music time with my son each day. He loves to dance and will dance throughout the day but this is a time where we sing songs, play instruments and of course… dance! Check out this post for music time ideas. 

Outdoor Time 

This could be a splash in the pool, a walk around an outdoor shopping center, using our season pass at the little local amusement park or a “nature walk” down to the mailbox! Whatever it is, I like to make sure that every day we get out of the house. 

Sensory Play 

Each day we do about 15 minutes of sensory play. We use sensory bottles, water bags (Ziploc bags with colored water inside), wax paper and anything else I can come up with… the kitchen is a great place to find sensory items! 

Reading Time 

My son loves his books! His book bucket is within reach to play with at any time but in the afternoon we sit down and read together. Right now my son’s favorite book is his Touchy Feely Animals Book. At the back of the book is a grid with pictures from the pages of the book. He will open the book to that page immediately and wait for me to ask, “where’s the…”. So far he really only has the dog and “dut dut” (duck) down but we’re working on it the others. He also really likes First 100 Words which has a similar set up.

With my checklist, I can easily make sure we’re on track with our daily activities!

Download a FREE checklist for yourself!

 

Breastfeeding A Toddler

I wrote a post recently on things I’ve learned about breastfeeding but one thing I didn’t include, that perhaps I should have, is that when you reach a certain point in breastfeeding people will start to ask how long you plan on continuing. Or if they don’t outright ask they’ll ask and say other things.

Things like…

But he has teeth. What if  he bites you? (This one makes me laugh since he’s had teeth since he was three months old. Also, if he bites me it hurts.)

Can’t he drink milk? (I’m not sure what they think comes out of there.)

But he needs to eat! (For the record he does eat and not just from my breasts.)

And it’s not just the slightly skeptical that make remarks. 

Oh, good! I hope you’re going to go to 18 months. At least. You are going to 18 months, right? Two years old would really be more ideal.  (Whatever you say, lady that I barely know.)

My 6 year old still nurses sometimes. (Keep your eyeballs in your head, Inez.)

Well, I nursed my kids until three years old. (Well, probably won’t!)

Though I can make light of it, the point at which I stop nursing my son is something that has caused me a bit of inner conflict. Some days I just really want my boobs back (and I feel guilty about that). But, for the most part, I don’t feel that my son is ready to wean and I really have no plan as to when the nursing will stop.

I know I’m not the only mama “still” nursing and many are far beyond the point I am at. This is why I am totally loving this Real Moms Talk interview I’m going to share with you today! 

Jennifer from My Mama Project is sharing her experience with nursing her toddler and I can honestly say, her words were a big encouragement to me personally. And I know they will encourage you, too, whether you are nursing a toddler or not!

Breastfeeding a Toddler. Real Moms Talk. Diary of a New Mommy. Breastfeeding.

How long have you been breastfeeding? 

I started breastfeeding my son when he was less than an hour old and we have been going strong for 18 months.

Did you initially plan to breastfeed beyond one year? 

Well, the plan was always to breastfeed for at least a year and then to be honest, I planned to just see what happened from that point forward.

What made you decide to breastfeed into toddlerhood? 

I think the best answer to this question is nothing. As he is my first child, I am kind of making all this up as I go along. Ultimately, my son still wants to breastfeed and I believe that he is getting nutrition from it, so nothing has crossed my mind about stopping just yet. I think that he will make the choice to stop when the time is right and if I ever personally feel that it is time, I think I will know when we get there. Not a very specific answer, I know!

Have you found that some people are uncomfortable with your decision to continue breastfeeding your toddler? 

I have been very lucky to not have the experiences that many other people report having. I have never had anyone tell me to “cover it up” or give me strange looks (or if they did, I wasn’t looking!). I feel very confident in my choice to continue breastfeeding and I know my inner Mama Bear would come out in full force if anyone tried to make me feel bad for my decision to breastfeed my toddler. I think some people in my life probably wonder how long I am going to keep this up or think that at this point I am only doing it for myself and not for my son’s needs, but they are smart enough to keep those views to themselves.

What are some challenges of breastfeeding a toddler that you may not have experienced when your child was an infant? 

This is a great question. For starters, when my son was an infant he would calmly nurse under a cover (and I had a bunch of cute ones). On the flip side, there is no way my toddler will tolerate a cover put over him now while he nurses. He instantly grabs it and pulls it to the side, so there is really no option but to nurse out in the open. My toddler is also a very “active” nurser. I’m talking a – nose grabbing, stomach kicking, clothes tugging – kind of a nurser. I feel a little overly stimulated after a nursing session sometimes. Lastly, a toddler (at least mine) can ask to nurse. For my son that usually means putting his hand down my shirt and heaven forbid if I am wearing a shirt that isn’t conducive to that. He will find a way in!

What is the most common response you get when people find out you breastfeed your toddler? 

“Oh, you’re still breastfeeding? (insert slightly impressed and slightly confused face here) Wow!” is usually the response I get. Most people are respectful of my choice, some are even quite curious, but mostly people show their slight judgement in their face and not their words.

What is the best piece of advice you have for a mom who may be trying to decide how long to breastfeed? 

Do whatever makes you and your baby happy. Don’t give a second thought to what anyone else tells you or what you think others expect you to do. Trust your mom gut and always know that whatever you choose, you are doing the best you can for your baby and for you. Whether you are breastfeeding your 2 year old or feeding formula to your newborn, be confident in your choice and let your inner Mama Bear shine.




Meet Jennifer: Jennifer Hanson. My Mama Project. Interview on Breastfeeding a Toddler. Real Moms Talk. Diary of a New Mommy. First Time Mom. New Mom. Breastfeeding.

Hello, I’m Jennifer! I’m a wife, mama, and lifestyle blogger trying to raise my tribe with gumption and grace.  I love yoga pants, coffee, ice cream, and reality television.  You can follow my motherhood journey at www.mymamaproject.com and on Instagram @mymamaproject. I’ve always loved a good project.  My favorite one calls me Mama.  {I’m always tired and make it up as I go along!}

3 Steps I took to Start Monetizing My Blog

If you’re a blogger, chances are you would like to get paid. Even if you don’t want to make a full-time income from it, if you’ve blogged for more than a day you know it’s a lot of work and getting some type of compensation would be really nice.

Am I right? 

Although I knew you could profit from blogging, it wasn’t necessarily my goal when I started this blog. My goal was to be a writer. But in order to be a writer, I needed people to read what I wrote and in order for that to happen I had to actually promote my blog. Which is work. A few months into blogging, I decided that I wanted to monetize. Not just to be compensated for my time, but because I love blogging and I want to continue to stay home with my son.

It seemed like a win-win to me.

Although I knew how people monetize, I wasn’t really sure what that meant for me. As I started to research, I found that many bloggers have invested a lot of money into their blogs. One day I read about a stay at home mom that makes a 6 figure income from blogging. This really inspired me, so I bought her book which only cost me a few bucks. I was so excited!

I was almost immediately deflated when I read that she was “broke” and invested her last $6,000 into her blog.

$6,000??!?!  I barely had $6!! 

3 Steps I Took to Start Monetizing my Blog

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page for more information.) 

The more I researched, the more I found that this is very common. And why wouldn’t it be? Blogging is a business and financially investing into your business is important. But, the good news is you don’t have to invest thousands or even hundreds of dollars into your blog. (If you have it, by all means… do it! I guarantee you, I would.)

A $6,000 investment may help you monetize more quickly but it absolutely is possible to make money without breaking the bank… or robbing one!

Here are 3 (FREE) steps I took to start monetizing my blog: 

1) Got rid of all the buts in my life. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard bloggers talk about how they “wish” they could make money… but. But I don’t have enough traffic. But I don’t have enough time. But I don’t have enough money. Can I let you in on a little secret? I don’t have any of those things but and I have money in the bank right now that I’ve made through blogging (and more on the way this week). No, it’s not thousands of dollars but it’s a lot more than nothing which is what I was making up until a couple of months ago. It wasn’t until I decided to stop with the buts that I started to make money. I decided that I wasn’t going to wait for more page views, more time, more money, etc. Because the truth is, the only thing I really needed more of was hustle

2) Started applying for sponsored posts. 

Since I had no more buts there was nothing to lose and I got to work signing up with sites like iConnect , Linqia, Social Fabric and Socialix that connect bloggers with brands. Some sites (for example, Linqia) require a minimum number of followers or page views. Instead of using that as an excuse, use it as a goal.  In the mean time, go for the sites don’t have minimums and start applying. 

3) Changed my affiliate strategy (which was no strategy). 

Like many bloggers, for me being an affiliate meant putting up a banner on my sidebar or linking to Amazon when I talked about products I love. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this but you need more of a strategy than that. This is still a work in progress for me but I started by reaching out to my Shareasale  affiliate companies, first to ask for product to review and second to ask for help and guidance. How would they like me to represent them? What has worked well for other affiliates? 

Next, I set a plan to represent them beyond a single post, a banner or the occasional links in posts and I started keeping track of each communication, post and mention. My goal is to have an ongoing relationship with my affiliates which means I need to actively engage with them and promote them.

I still have a ways to go but by taking these three steps, I went from wanting, wishing and waiting to actually making money from my blog.

What buts have gotten in your way? And, more importantly, how can you get rid of them? 

Are you Addicted to Social Media?

In today’s culture, social media is just a part of what we do. It used to be that when we we met someone new we’d ask for a phone number, now it’s “Hey, are you on Facebook?  or “What’s your IG handle?” (Or if you’re really cool… your Snap Chat code.) Personally, social media has been good to me. I’ve reconnected with old friends (and by that I mean actually have reconnected in the real world), I’ve made new friends and, most recently, I’ve been able to earn some profit through my Instagram and Twitter accounts.

But, with all the good that social media can bring, it is certainly not all good. In fact, if we aren’t careful, social media can be harmful and even dangerous. This is why I am really looking forward to sharing this Real Moms Talk guest post with you today. Kate Shelby from Australian Mum shares some wonderful insight on the subject of social media addiction. I hope you find the information as helpful and interesting as I did!

Addicted to Social Media - Real Moms Talk - NoviceMommy.com

Are you addicted to social media? Social media addiction might seem harmless but it has the potential to take over your life.  Social media addiction can affect our daily life, how we behave towards other people and our pathological thought process.

The social media environment has us thinking our friends need to see every aspect of our life . I’m guilty of it too. Ask yourself the question. Are you addicted to social media? Were all affected in different ways.

The Desensitized

These are people who spend so much time on social media they live in a fantasy world where they don’t care if they hurt people’s feelings. They troll posts with constant opinions and abrasive comments. Because when you’re behind a keyboard for so long you become emotionally detached and void of real feelings.

The Oversensitive.

These are people who spend so much time on social media they produce a complex that has them feeling like every piece of content is someway aimed at them. Like they are a part of every social media topic. They will find a way for almost anything to upset them and are easily offended over just about any topic available.

The Lurker

These are people who sit on social media for hours at a time scrolling but don’t say anything. You may have noticed them in your feed. Constantly liking pictures but they never say much. But they are always on social media. You can pretty much bet anytime of day you can post a photo and they will like it. If you approach and talk to them you might get a conversation. But overall they are stuck in routine of spending all of their spare time in an eternity of scrolling.

Are You Addicted To Social Media?

The Signs Of Social Media Addiction

  • You can’t go a few minutes without checking your social media
  • You avoid going anywhere because you might miss something on social media
  • You feel like you have to engage in almost every thing on social media or people won’t know you’re on social media
  • When you talk with your friends – it’s mostly about social media
  • There’s more happening in your social media life than your real life
  • You get social media hangovers. Your depressed about social media but you can’t get off social media
  • You’re secretly getting on social media when you should be doing something else
  • You become unwanted or feel ignored when nobody interacts with you on social media
  • Social media has become a basic human need like Food, Water & Sleep.
  • You wake up in the middle of the night and the first thing you do is check your phone
  • You troll other people’s posts for entertainment or find things to be pissed off about on social media
  • You assume things about a person’s whole life based on a few pictures or opinionsReal Moms Talk NoviceMommy.com

My Own Personal Story With Social Media Addiction

The reason I’m writing this is not to judge but I’m not going to be soft on the topic either. I have been there. In 2007 I sat next to my son’s hospital bed for 9 months. My son had cancer and my son’s father had a mental breakdown so bad he wouldn’t even come and visit. My family was living two states away and the only way to stay connected to the world outside of the 8th floor of a hospital was social media – this is what I told myself.

When my baby became well enough to leave the hospital life behind it was evident I had become addicted to social media. I became so reliant on social media for my friendships It took at least two years to make new friendships outside of Myspace (2007 People….it was the big thing then).

Then came a time a few years ago a huge wake up call slapped me in the face. Watching someone do the same thing to me. The collapse of my relationship had many factors, however, social media played a huge part. The relationships made on social media can be tempting and those that are trying to escape daily life may make mistakes. People get hurt.

Social media can also be very toxic. I’ve seen relationships collapse because of things being taken out of context. I’ve seen full-blown Mummy Wars over things that don’t even require further comment. The media have a huge advantage on social media and can often have people fighting because of one deliberate controversial post. It’s almost like a funny game to get mothers to attack each other on some of these sites. I refuse to play into that. You should too.

Are You Addicted to Social Media? - Real Moms Talk - NoviceMommy.com

Social Media Addiction

Actions You Can Take Today To Limit Your Activity

  • Remove Social Media Smartphone Apps to limit your usage at work
  • Log out of smart phone apps regularly to make ease of access more difficult
  • Set yourself a daily Data limit so your phone disconnects you at the maximum amount.
  • Plan other things to do in advance and set reminders that will interrupt you on social media
  • Tell your friends the truth. You have a social media problem and you need support
  • Tell your family you would like to see them every second weekend
  • Register for outside events on Facebook so you’re reminded to leave the house
  • Subscribe to local pages that remind you that your local area has things to offer
  • Remove yourself from toxic groups that encourage debates on shallow topics
  • Hide other people in your news feed that are constantly posting – Don’t play “Do as I do” with them
  • Consider a social media addiction Rehab Plan
  • Plan a holiday to somewhere with no network access to break the cycle of social media addiction
  • If you’re confident cold turkey will help have your internet cut of

Being addicted to social media does NOT define the person you are.

It is time to kick the habit.

Meet Kate: KateShelby - Are You Addicted to Social Media

My name is Kate. When I’m not writing I am busy raising my children and tackling the curve balls of life. My writing is influenced by my life. I’m sincerious but I don’t shy away from telling it how it is. I love Superheroes, Villians & Chocolate. 

You can visit me anytime at http://australianmum.com. 

Sippy Strap Review & Giveaway

I looked forward to the time when my son would start using a sippy cup. I don’t know why but I just think it’s adorable to see this little person drinking from a “cup”. But do you know what’s not adorable? The tiny person throwing the cup. Over and over. And over. At first, I didn’t mind too much because I had read that it’s all a part of development. So, I would just respond with something like “Wow. That’s a loud noise.” Or “Uh oh. Where did the cup go?” But after a million and one times, it got old. Plus, I think we are far beyond the “its good for his development” stage. Now, he just thinks it’s funny. And me? Not so much. Needless to say, when I received a message from Hny Baby asking if I’d like to review one of their products I was ecstatic to see one of those products was a Sippy Strap.

Yes, please! 

(I received the Sippy Strap in exchange for an honest review. However, all opinions are my own. This post may also contain affiliate links. Please see my ddisclosure for more information.) 

sippy

I was very pleased with how quickly my package arrived and also with the adorable packaging. But, of course, what I really wanted to know was if it worked. More specifically, if it really would work on our high chair and sippy cups. (Am I the only one that’s been disappointed by one size fits all claims that were more like one size fits some?)

We’ve been using our Sippy Strap for over a week now and I am really happy with it!

Sippy Strap Review - Diary of a New Mommy

It’s cute and, more importantly, it works. I have tried it out on multiple sippy cups of varying sizes and the strap is easily adjustable to fit all of them. It’s also the perfect length, as it’s long enough for my son to take a sip but not so long that it hits the ground.

Sippy Strap Review & Givewaway - Diary of a New Mommy

Hny Baby Sippy Strap Review - Diary of a New Mommy

I think my favorite part about the Sippy Strap is that it also works on strollers and car seats! We have the Summer Infant Go Lite stroller and the bars are extremely thin, so I wondered if the strap would adjust small enough. It did!

Sippy Strap Review. Baby Product Review. Toddler Product Review. Favorite Baby Products. Favorite Toddler Products. Sippy Cup.

Check out Hny Baby to get your own Sippy Strap (they also have some other great products, like super cute Bandana Bibs). Also, Hny Baby is giving away two Sippy Straps to one lucky reader! You can enter below. Contest closes on Sunday, July 17 at midnight (PST).

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