Full-time mommy, not full-time crazy

There’s a reason that newborns nap so frequently.

Yeah that circadian rhythm, rest thing is there too. But I honestly believe God made us this way so that mommies could get a break.

Once that umbilical cord is cut a baby becomes an independent functioning unit separate from the mom. So why is that we feel (or told to feel rather) that we must be joined at the hip with our kids to be good parents?

It’s in a baby’s best interest to have a happy mother.

If you have a tired, cranky mom there will be a breaking point. No matter how we miraculously multi-task or function without more than a cereal bar for breakfast, we are, after all, human. We need naps, too.

And it doesn’t help to have some dads retort: Well you’re a mom. You are supposed to spend every waking moment with your kids. AND enjoy it.

Uh, no. Have you seen your children?!

I’ve never read of a mother who intentionally woke up her kids (besides for setting a sleep routine) because she wanted to spend more time with them. On the contrary, I have heard of parents who will stop at nothing to get their kid to sleep so they can get some relief. I’m talking about you, Mr. Drive Around the Block 15 Gazillion Times at 10 P.M.

God injects this beautiful thing in women when He makes them mothers. They love unconditionally, will bend over backwards to make their kids happy, cry at their pain, etc. However that love is what makes us want to be better parents. I love my girls and that is why I want them to thrive and be successful.

And no doubt: A happy mom means a happy baby. A well-deserved break brings a mother back to her child refreshed and clearheaded. If I am already running on empty, it won’t take much to tip me over. Admit it. We all have been there and it’s not pretty.

Just the other day I had a 9-month-old ankle deep in canola oil. I didn’t say one word – I just cried. It had already been a long day. Mayyo didn’t take her afternoon nap, so I had her to deal with. Plus FZ. And I had been in the kitchen for 3 hours straight already. I was tired. Thank God this happened after my husband was home from work.

We should not feel guilty for wanting a moment alone to ourselves. We should not feel guilty for feeling some days like packing up our kids in a box and shipping them to Chuck E. Cheese’s house. (He likes kids right?)

And all joking aside, it is not healthy to have a mother start feeling resentful. Depression is serious, and it can creep up easily for a mom. It’s so vital to have go-to people you can count on when you need a break – Dad, Grandma, a sibling, or best friend.

So to all those moms counting the minutes down until their kid naps, you are not alone. I hope you enjoy your break and live it up.

Baby stuff – what you need and what you don’t

When I was having my first child I turned to a few experienced moms (thanks again Sughra, Kim and Carissa – you know who you are!) who could offer me sage advice on the important things one needs when preparing for a baby.

And when I say “important,” I don’t mean the matching valance and diaper stacker for the nursery – I mean really important stuff.

A cute nursery with all the matching crap that baby boutiques advertise as must-haves for us sucker moms might look simply adorable but it’s not necessary.

And it doesn’t last. Sooner or later your kid will grow out of a crib, and he/she will have favorite colors and tastes in different cartoon characters, and before you know it, that $400-plus crib bedding set is out on the curb, to be replaced by Dora sheets and SpongeBob pillowcases.

I consider myself somewhat experienced now, after having 2 kids and buying/trying/returning all those wonderful things that I thought my little girls would need.

So here is a rundown of all those things that a new, and even experienced mom, should not live without. This is definitely not a complete list, so feel free to add more must-haves!

1. A good, everyday stroller. And I would say you should even splurge a little on this because a good stroller that takes care of business is a blessing. Trust me.

What to look for: Easy folding, reclining options, sun canopy, maneuverability

Top picks: Baby Jogger City series, Maclaren Quest, Peg Perego Pliko3

The Baby Jogger City Mini offers a reclining seat, big sun canopy, quick one-hand fold, and great maneuverability.

2. Baby carrier. Strollers are not always an option, and sometimes you just want a quick carry option, like when you are at the airport.

What to look for: Easy on/off, back support, sturdy, is baby happy in it?

Top picks: Ergobaby, BabyHawk, Baby K’tan, BabyBjorn

3. Feeding items – like bottles, sippy cups. Nothing is worse than a leaky bottle or a sippy cup that spills. I’ve bought the gamut and finally found the few that actually work.

What to look for: Spill proof, easy to clean/remove parts, good grip

Top picks: Munchkin, Foogo, The First Years Take and Toss

4. Shoes.When kids are walking, nothing is worse than a shoe that pinches or isn’t durable.

What to look for: Wide options, easy on/off, durable, slight room to grow

Top picks: Stride Rite, Robeez

5. Highchair. Forget all the fancy names. A good chair doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. These days a spacesaver feeding seat works wonders – and you can put it anywhere you want, thanks to the attachment straps, without it getting in the way.

What to look for: Recline options, easy-to-clean seat, travel options is a bonus

Top picks: Evenflo, The First Years feeding seat

The First Years Newborn to Toddler reclining feeding seat is perfect for small spaces and for babies just learning how to eat. Plus has all the features of a highchair.

6. Diaper bag. While you shouldn’t go overboard, spending a little more on a quality bag is worth it. After all this will probably be the only bag you’ll be using for a good while.

What to look for: Pockets, easy to clean, Mommy pockets, how does it wear/comfortable straps, dual/triple use – stroller, backpack, messenger, etc.

Top picks: Peg Perego Borsa MammaPetunia Pickle Bottom, SkipHop

7. Diaper pails. While this is an essential nursery item, beware of all the froufrou versions with costly refills.

What to look for: One-hand open/close, roomy for all those diapers, can you use a regular trash bag with it?

Top picks: Diaper Champ, Safety 1st

8. Recliner/glider. Whether it is nursing a newborn or reading to your little one before bedtime, a nice recliner works wonders and is great on your back. I wouldn’t care too much about the matching ottoman, though.

What to look for: A recliner that rocks, soft and comfy, easy to clean fabric (your newborn will inevitably spit up all over it)

9. Play gym/activity center. These are great for keeping little ones happy and entertained, without feeling boxed in like in a playpen.

What to look for: Hanging toys, easy to clean mat/toys, removable items that your kid can play with, folding option for travel/storage

Top picks: Bright Starts, Baby Einstein, Fisher Price, Tiny Love

The Bright Starts activity mat is perfect for a baby learning to roll over and crawl. Plus it folds easily and has an easy to clean surface.

10. White noise machine. When a baby is finally down, there is nothing worse than it waking up to a phone ringing or an ambulance roaring into the neighborhood. You don’t have to buy those pricey ones, even a small desktop fan at the strongest level will work. Plus you don’t want your child getting used to sleeping in silence.

What to look for: Good volume control, definite shushing sound, travel options, good battery life

Top picks: Sleep Sheep, Homedics SoundSpa, Massey desktop fan

What not to waste money on

Here are a few items I would not bother putting on your baby registry, nor spending money on:

Fancy shower spa bathtubs – All frills, no use

Baby wipes warmer – They might be good for winter nights, but the refill freshening pads are pricey

Baby shoes – Until your baby is walking those expensive shoes are of no use. (Except for photo shoots or special occasions.)

Playpen – Might be nice to keep a kid contained, but I have yet to see a kid who likes them. They are only useful for really small babies.

Extraneous nursery items – Besides the basic crib bedding set, don’t worry about the matching clock, valance, diaper stacker, nightlight, wall painting, hamper, etc. etc.

Lots of clothes – When your kid is a newborn, only buy the essentials because you’ll get tons of clothes as gifts. Plus you won’t know until a month or so if your kid is on the smaller side or larger side, or how certain items fit. Also, always buy on sale. I never buy baby/kid clothes for full price, unless it is a must-have item, or I need it for a special occasion. Babies, especially, grow so fast that before you know it, you are looking at a rack full of brand new clothes that don’t fit anymore. At least when you pay less you won’t feel so bad.

Check out your local resale store

Once your kids have outgrown their clothes and toys, if there is no option to donate to another mommy, instead of throwing them away take them to a resale store and get some cash back – so you can buy more diapers. Resale stores also carry new items so you might even end up finding a nice pair of shoes or an outfit for less.

Here in Houston there are a couple I like: Crayons Children’s Resale in southwest Houston and Thread Houston in the Heights

The perfect parent?

No one is a perfect parent but we can always learn from each other. And don’t write off anything unless you try it. Our kids are all different, and what works for one parent might not work for another. I hope this list helps! And please, feel free to add more to this list and share your top picks of other items.

There are good days, and there are bad days

I felt like a horrible mommy yesterday. I totally messed up my kids’ routines and in the end FZ refused to fall asleep during bedtime.

She wanted to snuggle with me and I was just agitated at why she wasn’t going down like she was “supposed to.”

But mostly I was irritated with myself. When she was tired and ready to go down, I didn’t pay heed to her signals. I was working on my laptop.

I didn’t want to admit that I was at fault, though. No, that’s just right.

In the end I was mad at my husband. For not realizing that I was doing it all by myself while he was at work. He should’ve helped me out.

I was mad at FZ. Why can’t she just go to sleep?

I was mad at Mayyo. For getting up while I was still irritated.

Oh man…. this parenting thing – does it ever get easier?

Lucky for me, my dear husband walked into the kids’ room where I just sat thinking about how upset I was, and he told me to go. And I did.

I walked into the dark den, sat with a bowl of double fudge brownie ice cream and surfed the Web.

My kids are my life. I love them and I love being with them. But when I get upset with them, why does it bother me that much more? Why doesn’t my love for them simmer down that anger?

Maybe it’s because I know I caused it. And because I know my kids are from me. I should’ve done better, especially since I know better. I know those sleep signals. Why didn’t I listen??

We’re moms, and moms who do it all. We’re allowed moments to release anger. But it’s nothing that can’t be diffused with the sweet sleepy face of a child.

 

Honesty is the best policy – yes, even with kids

It’s easy to lie to our kids, right? What do they know?

But what we easily forget is that when we keep on lying to our kids, they will start losing faith and trust in us.

So your kid is throwing a tantrum in the car after passing Chuck E. Cheese. You need to get home and get dinner ready. What do you say?

“Chuck E. Cheese is closed. We can go tomorrow.”

No.

Sooner or later your child needs to learn that when Mom or Dad says no, then that should be the final word. Why always make excuses or lies? One day she will pass by Chuck E. Cheese and see people going inside while you said it was closed.

You can distract her by offering her some other incentive. Tell her you will take her tomorrow if she behaves right now.

Lying is an easy way to bypass a kid’s tantrum or whining. For example, you’re drinking soda and your 2-year-old wants some.

What do you say?

“I’m drinking medication.”

No.

You say, “You cannot drink this. This is not for kids. This is for Mama.” Enough said.

I have seen a lot of Pakistani/Indian parents use this lie for soda. You know, one day your kid will think medication is something pretty great if all the adults are drinking it. What will you do the day they ask: “Can I have medication, too?”

Small, insignificant lies add up. Pretty soon our kids will start losing trust in us since we never own up to our decisions. And this will follow our kids as they grow into adults.

Give your sweet kids a little credit. If you are consistent and firm, your kids will appreciate this more than a flimsy parent who always gives in or sugar coats things.

Mum’s the word

Silence is golden. And that rings more true once you have kids.

I heard an “amen” somewhere.

And right now it is relatively quiet at home, and I am doing what I love most – writing!

Here’s some background:

I had a mommy blog when I used to work as a full-time editor with a major newspaper. I had my first child, FZ, and I blogged about becoming a mommy, and all of the new wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) things that come with being a parent.

And then I got laid off. In the meantime I had another beautiful baby girl, Mayyo. (That’s not really her name.)

And then blogging somehow got really, really hard.

But I’m back.

I sincerely believe that parents possess the magical powers to raise kids exactly how they wish. What comes between us and good child rearing is time, energy and patience – all things we lack at one time or another.

There are no bad kids or good kids – just kids who have been given more time and love, and those who have not.

In Islam, it is said that heaven lies under the feet of mothers and therefore there lies more of a responsibility for us moms to be as good as we can when raising children, so we can raise kids who will do us proud.

And I hope you will join me as we talk kids, life, mommy moments, interesting things our kids say and do, and hopefully have a giveaway or two!

Here’s to moms everywhere – we wouldn’t be here without you.

God bless.