Getting Baby on a 'Schedule'

I’m a routine-driven person by nature; falling into the same pattern day after day is very easy for me, sometimes to my detriment. Ideally, I would like to wake up at the same time, eat the same breakfast, drink the same coffee, and head out of the house at the same time every day. I like predictability, I like being on time, and I like knowing what is coming next.

So, as you can imagine, having a baby really rocked my world. Gone were the days of predictability and schedule. Gone were the structured days with designated meal, rest, and activity times. Instead, I was thrown into a whirlwind of nursing, napping, changing diapers, and trying my best to keep my eyes open when I was only sleeping in 2-hour stretches. To be honest, I was worried for my sanity; this ever-changing infant in my life could very well be my undoing.

I read everything I could get my hands on about putting baby on a schedule, developing routines, and sorting out mixed up nights and days. But a two month old doesn’t understand the EASY method; if she wanted to nurse, who was I to insist it was ‘activity’ time instead? Little Oats was strongly and resolutely anti-schedule.

So, in an attempt to make sense of my changed world, I let go. I let go of the idea of 2-3-4 nap schedules, of knowing that I could eat lunch at 12:00 on the dot, of being able to predict the next step in my day. And instead of focusing on a strict schedule, I adopted the idea of a general routine.

Hold on, you’re saying. Aren’t schedule and routine just two different words for the same concept? Absolutely not. My idea of a schedule going into this whole parenting thing was exactly that; the day-planner equivalent to mapping out my day with a baby. 7:00am wakeup, 7:30 breakfast, 8:00 playtime, etc. But a routine (especially a loose routine) was more a general idea of how the day would go. So regardless of what time Little Oats woke up in the morning, I knew that we’d start our day off with a long nursing session. I knew that she was happiest in the mid-morning; if we were planning to head out anywhere, that was the time to do it.

A typical day for us around the 3 month mark looked a little something like this:

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In Honor of World Prematurity Day

In recognition of World Prematurity Day today and November being Prematurity Awareness Month, I asked some of the bloggers and board members who’ve had preemies to share their stories. According to the March of Dimes, every year about 450,000 babies are born prematurely in the US, and prematurity is the leading cause of death for newborns. These HB babies were born anywhere from 25w to nearly full term, and some are dealing with longer term consequences, and some aren’t. I hope these varied experiences give you all more perspective on preemie babies and parents, and please share your own preemie stories in the comments!

All of the moms were so kind to give me a summary of their preemie's story, and any advice they have to preemie parents.We'll go from youngest gestational age at birth to the nearly term babies - starting with Dylan!

Dylan (Baby MrsGreenGrass) / 25w

I went into labor, bleeding first, then contractions out of nowhere at 23 weeks. My friend dropped me off at emergency while she parked the car and I had no idea where to go -- ER? L&D? I wandered around while bleeding and crying until a pregnant woman led me to triage. When I heard Dylan's heartbeat, I thought everything would be okay and that I could go home, but that first night I got up to 13 contractions in an hour and the next day I learned I probably wouldn't leave until Dylan was born. The suddenness of it all was one of the most traumatic parts.

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Going Back to Work

Dear Baby Checkers,

It's been real.

We've spent about the last year together, you and me. Albeit, most of that time was in utero, and I feel like I am just starting to know you.

In two weeks you will be four months old and I will be returning to work. To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, I enjoy the work I do and I'll admit, it will be nice to spend a part of my day with adults who can speak in full sentences again. But on the other hand, my heart breaks when I think about this time together ending. Isn't motherhood funny that way? One minute we want a break, and when we get one, all we can think or talk about is our kids?

My maternity leave has been so different this time around than when your sister was born. I spent the better half of my leave then depressed out of my mind, mostly because my hormones were out of whack and I wasn't sleeping, but also in part because I am a little crazy. Don't get me wrong -  I loved your sister from the beginning. But becoming a new mom is disorienting to say the least, and I don't exactly thrive on change mixed with two hours of sleep.

With you, I was much more relaxed. I learned to watch you, and not the clock, to tell me when you were tired or hungry. Instead of being a prisoner at home, you and I went out, A LOT. Did you know between the hours of 10 AM and 1 PM, all retail shopping areas become Strollerville? I know this because I am a big believer in 1) getting out of the house after having a baby and 2) retail therapy. A new top or eyeliner or onesie or socks can kind of make up for not sleeping the night before. Or the night before that. Also, Target is the mommy mecca.

In your first two weeks of life, you tricked us. All you did was eat and sleep as most brand-new newborns do, and we told everyone, "He's much easier than his sister was!" You sure fooled us. You've had good weeks and bad weeks, as all humans do, vacillating between easiest and fussiest baby of all time. I've now concluded that you're actually neither; you're just a baby. But you are fantastic because you are mine.

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21 ikea christmas gifts for the littles

Ikea has some pretty great stuff at incredible prices, and their children's department is no exception. Until November 25th, they are having Ikea family member prices on select items, including their MAMMUT stools, chairs, and tables - the latter two come in soft shades of pink, blue, and green. I've been eyeing some Montessori type furniture for my daughter to work upon, and while these admittedly aren't wood, a $10 chair is all kinds of awesome.

MAMMUT Children's chair $10.49  |  MAMMUT Children's table $24.49  |  FABLER 3-piece flatware set, stainless steel $4.99  |  GRATTIS 5-p serving stand with cupcakes set $7.99  |  LÅTSAS 11-piece shopping basket set $7.99  |  LEKA Play book $6.99  |  UPPTRÄDA 7-piece bowling set $9.99  |  SAGOHUS 4-piece fairytale house set $14.99  |  DUKTIG Toy Cash Register $14.99  |  EKORRE Rocking moose $39.99  |  BEBOELIG Children's tent $19.99  |  MULA Crane with blocks $14.99  |  MULA Bead roller coaster $7.99  |  MULA Shape sorter $4.99

You can have the best toy at the doctor's office (you know the one, the Bead maze) in your very own home for under ten bucks. Oh - and something else I'd never thought I could house in my home - a folding gym mat in pretty colors - that brings back elementary school gym memories. The MULA Crane looks awesome with its magnetic pieces, and it even doubles as a shape sorter toy. The LÅTSAS shopping basket is brimming with adorable bowtie pasta, a pineapple, a baguette, an eggplant, and more. I love how the DUKTIG Toy Cash Register has a digital number readout (ok, so it's an oversized calculator nestled in a nice base, but I don't think my 1980's check out register could do division).

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Choosing to Formula Feed

I was able to successfully provide breast milk for Miss H until she was 10 months old, after which we switched to formula. My milk supply was never amazing so by 10 months I just couldn't keep up with pumping enough for her and since I work full time out of the house; I could only nurse her in the morning and evening during the week. But making it to 10 months made me happy.

When thinking about having Miss Hop and Mr. Hop, I didn't set any breastfeeding goals for myself. I wasn't sure how it would go and if we'd be able to make it work or not, or what it would be like to breastfeed twins. In the hospital we had great lactation consultants who were super helpful. Mr. Hop had a great latch but wasn't terribly interested in nursing, while Miss Hop was super excited about nursing all the time but had a shallow latch. Because of this, even attempting to tandem nurse in the beginning wasn't an option because each needed a lot of TLC to get them to successfully nurse.

Our first night home from the hospital was a nightmare. The babies were hungry and needy, my milk wasn't in, and the time it took to get a baby, get him/her to latch, change his/her diaper, swaddle, and then repeat the same with the other baby meant non-stop feedings with no breaks for mom. I was exhausted and incredibly stressed.

Then the next day at 4 days old (just the day after we got out of the hospital!) blood tests revealed that Miss Hop's jaundice levels were too high and she needed to be admitted to the hospital in order to get her levels down. I was admitted with her, which meant Mr. Hop had to stay at home without me. Both babies had to be supplemented with formula - Mr. Hop because I wasn't home with him and Miss Hop because my milk wasn't in yet and she needed the fluids to help flush the bilirubin out of her system. I was able to nurse her in addition to the formula, but her interest in nursing was waning with each bottle she received. I had no milk, making me far less appealing than a bottle.

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17 Tips for Getting Out the Door in Time for School

Mornings are always hectic in our home, trying to get two kids dressed, fed, clean, and out the door for school on time. It didn't matter if we were a little late before Charlie was in public school, but now that he's in kindergarten and all his tardies are recorded, we make sure that he's always on time. We've implemented a lot of tips and tricks over the years, and we're still usually rushing at the last minute to tell you the truth, but so far no tardies this year!

Here are some of the things we've tried over the years:

1) Use a morning routine chart. Kids thrive on routine and having a visual reward chart that shows each step of the process can be a big help. You can find a Hellobee printable for a morning and evening routine here, and Mrs. Jacks wrote a post on how effective a morning routine chart was for her daughter here.

2) Pick out the kids' clothes ahead of time. We've tried - devoting a drawer with outfits for the whole week, laying out the next day's outfit by Charlie's bed so he dresses himself as soon as he wakes up, and even dressing the kids in clothes they'll wear the next day (only tees and not pants). All of these methods help, but Charlie getting himself dressed has worked the best.

3) Check weather the night before, and/or as soon as you wake up. I check my Yahoo weather app as soon as I wake up because the weather has fluctuated from hat and scarf weather to short sleeve weather over the past month and I need to dress the kids accordingly. I also swear by the Dark Sky app which has been ridiculously accurate predicting when it will rain down to the minute.

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The pros and cons of being a teacher and a mom

I would love to be a SAHM. I know it's hard work, but I would be happy to do it full time. However, leaving my job means more than losing my salary, which we do need to maintain our current lifestyle. I would also lose my fantastic health and retirement benefits, not to mention that it is hard to get back into the workforce once you leave for several years; if I got sick of staying home one day, it might be very challenging to find a job again. So, I work. Is it hard to be a working mom? Yes, but I know it could be so much harder. Here are some pros and cons I have discovered for being a teacher and a mom.

Pro: Time Off

When I decided I wanted to be a teacher (I think I always knew, but I was pretty sure by the time I was in high school and then very sure I wanted to teach high school once I was in college), one of the main reasons was that I wanted the flexible schedule that teaching allows because I wanted to be around for my future children as much as possible. I always knew I wanted a family and since my mom was a restaurant manager and had very little time off, I wanted to choose a career that would allow me to have all the major holidays off, as well as being home for the same extended breaks that they would have when they started school. I get two months off in the summer, one week at Thanksgiving, three weeks at Christmas, and a week at Easter.

Con: Hard to Volunteer

The other side of this coin is that since I also follow the school year schedule, it's harder for me to take time off to volunteer in his classroom or attend class parties and performances. Since teachers have so much time off, we are discouraged from taking more days off throughout the year unless it's absolutely necessary. I can't just come to work late one day and stay a little later to make up for it. If I'm going to be late or leave early, I have to arrange for my classes to be covered during that time. Liam started preschool this year and somehow I became a room parent. This is something I've always wanted to do, but it has been challenging to fulfill those responsibilities as a WOHM.

Pro: Hours

I am home by 4pm everyday. I get so much time with Liam in the afternoon and early evenings so that I don't feel like I'm missing out on him growing up. I also get to see him in the morning when he wakes up around 7am, which is a great start to my day. I always have the weekends off so that time is for our family, too.

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