Posted in Holidays, motherhood

7 Holiday Gift Ideas for New Moms

Have you noticed how once you have a baby, everyone’s attention (including yours) magically shifts to your little bundle of joy? And sometimes, as much as you appreciate the love that your friends and family pour into your baby’s life, you strangely feel left out. Well, if you are a new mom, or if you if you have a friend, a sister, a daughter who’s recently had a baby, the holiday season is a great opportunity to treat her (or yourself) to a little something practical, relaxing, or both!

holiday-gifts

Here is a list of thoughtful Holiday presents that will be sure to please a new mom:

#1 Make her feel like a TEN with a mani-pedi gift card!

Heck, new moms barely feel like a TWO on a good day! Seep deprived, hormonal, and trapped in the house is how we feel. Yeah, and then we secretly start weighing the pros and cons of reducing our shower frequency from daily to every-other-day (but hush, hush, don’t tell anyone, that’s our secret). 

So here’s a great gift idea for new moms – I’ve been hearing about this trending Beauty Bar Chain called The TEN Spot and I love their concept. Positioned like the Starbucks of Beauty Bars, it is based on a key feminine insight that every woman wants to feel like a TEN. I like to get a mani-pedi monthly myself but the one thing that annoys me is how in our market, you have to choose between poor service nail bars and overpriced pompous spas to get something as basic as a mani-pedi. So the added benefit of feeling like a TEN on top of getting pretty nails and getting away from baby for a couple of hours is definitely a good reason for new moms to try The Ten Spot over the Holidays. Plus it’s so easy to get a gift certificate via their website

#2 An Otterbox case – the ultimate smartphone/tablet screen protection.

I used to choose my phone and tablet cases solely based on design… but that was until Makai happened! Now, I proudly carry my smartphone in its ugly Otterbox case! Why? Because while it will surely kill the sexy look of an iPhone 6, unless one can afford to get a new one every other week (because that’s how often our munchkins will crack the screen), I highly recommend an Otterbox case cover. Otterbox offers – hands down – the best protection for your smart phone and other portable electronic devices against the occasional drops, drools and spills… A practical gift idea especially if her tot is still small and hasn’t started breaking things. It means she probably has not crossed that bridge yet. 

#3 A small cross-body bag to carry essentials

Let’s face it… New moms typically have a million and one things to remember, a million and one things to carry whenever they muster the courage to actually leave the house with the baby. I am sure lots of moms would agree with me that some of the pocketbooks we used to rock pre-baby just aren’t practical anymore. This is when a mini cross-body bag can actually come in super handy. This type of bag is a smart way for moms with small children to keep IDs, credit cards and car keys in one single location making it easy to find things on the go. Available in a variety of colours, materials and brands, you will definitely find one that suits her personal style at any of the major department stores like The Bay

#4 Ease the aches and pains with a cute Hot Water Bottle

I have to admit that when I saw this product at Winners, I had no idea what it was and the only reason I was attracted to it is because it looked so pretty. The colours, the cozy texture and the cute statements all seemed really cool and since I was looking for gift ideas for a couple of friends who had babies this year, I picked one up. And what a nice surprise! This is not just a pretty gift for a new mom. It’s a useful one! 

Fill it with hot (or cold) water depending on what you need, and place it where it hurts. It will help soothe anything from the back pain we experience post-pregnancy, to the strained muscles we pull by moving around with a little human hanging on our arm all day. Not to mention the tummy cramps some of us experience post-partum…know what I mean!? Definitely a favourite! 

#5 Baby’s Hand or Footprint Holiday Ornament

Yeah, all moms are suckers for their baby’s firsts. There are so many and yet we don’t seem to get enough of them, at least in the early years – don’t ask me what happens in the teenage years, I don’t want to think about those firsts just yet. So this is a cool little gift that you are sure will have a great sentimental value for a really long time. I’ll probably be nostalgic when I look at mine in ten years and I’ve totally forgotten what it’s like to have a baby and I realize that I’ve become that random mom with bigger kids who tells new moms that they should cherish the baby phase while it lasts. Indigo Chapters, Winners, or Babies R Us usually carry one of some sort. Make sure you go for the no-mess version!

#6 A super Slim Silicone Water Resistant Watch – The SWATCH Skin

With a baby, we can easily feel like time is our enemy! Managing our time well is crucial and that usually means tracking feedings, naps & bath times, etc. But new moms likely don’t have the appropriate watch to wear around a baby. I certainly could not keep wearing the typical bling bling I would have rocked a year ago! And using my phone got old because half the time I didn’t know where it was.

So I recently visited Yorkdale Shopping Centre and noticed SWATCH, an old brand that I had completely lost touch with since childhood. The SWATCH Skin is the perfect slim watch you can barely feel on your wrist, 100% sleek, 100% water resistant, 100% silent and the BONUS is, you won’t scratch your little one with this. So when you put it on you don’t need to remove it – ever. Well, except to clean it of course. Hello again, SWATCH, I think I missed you!

#7 A Spill Proof Contigo Coffee Mug

Okay, I started using the Contigo Mug years ago and I’ve been hooked! But this mug is even more useful now. For the coffee lovers out there who can’t stand the idea of a lukewarm coffee, and for the clumsy mommies who want to make sure they don’t spill their hot beverage on their infant, this is the mug for you. When you close the lid, you can literally throw your mug (full of coffee) upside down in your diaper bag and you won’t get the slightest leak. Need I say more?

DISCLAIMER – If you are a husband, fiancé/boyfriend, you should probably do a little better than this list :-). I guess you could get her a spa package or a really nice version of the crossbody bag (watch out, it can get pretty expensive if she’s the Chloé type, ha!) but my point is, this is a list of casual gift ideas for friends and family. Good luck with your shopping!

Posted in motherhood, Parenting

3 Survival Books For New Moms

Before I had my baby, I thought I would read every book about parenting on Amazon to make sure I was giving the best of the best of everything to my most wonderful little tot. Then, well, motherhood actually happened, and I realized that I ain’t got time to read. I am too busy breastfeeding, washing, changing, cleaning, rocking, crying and watching, as my friend put it so well, the occasional mind-numbing tv show episode when I have a 30-minute break out of my 24-hour chaos. Plus, I am also trying to re-think, re-frame, re-direct my career in a direction that fits my new life – why is this taking me so long! God, give me back my brain cells!! Please!? 

With that said, there are 3 books I am willing and able to read simply because they are necessary for my survival. The first one is very practical because you don’t have to focus for hours to read it – you can do it piecemeal style. You can literally just open the table of contents and find the content you need to read in that moment. The second is sure to lighten up the mood, especially on a rough day. Start in the middle if you want, no one cares, you will laugh the whole way and you will learn a thing or two in the process. And the third, I get exited about because it addresses the one thing we ALL miss so much as new moms – SLEEP! 

#1 From Tiny Tot to Toddler. This is a free “practical guide for parents from pregnancy to age two” offered by the Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec. 

tiny-tot-to-toddlerTreat this book (or its equivalent if you can find it in your province/country) like your bible. It is divided into colour-coded sections that cover everything from pregnancy to 2 years-old. I love it because I can read about the upcoming stage that I will be facing soon, but more often than not, I’m rather in reactive mode than in proactive mode, which means I go to this book when I’m experiencing something new that I don’t know how to deal with. For example, by month 5, my little guy was starting to put everything in his mouth. At some point, I started to feel like I was living the 50 First Dates movie experience. I’d give him a toy, he’d put it in his mouth, drop it to the floor, I would pick it up, wash it, and give it back. Then we’d do this all over again as many times as it took for me to get FED UP! 

So I started to wonder… Why am I still sterilizing his bottles if he’s going to put everything in his mouth anyway? Aha! this is a good moment to read about sterilizing in the Tiny Tot to Toddler bible. I opened the book and in seconds, there it was! I could have stopped sterilizing at 4 months! Really, I’d been creating extra work for myself for a full month. Out went the sterilizer!

#2 Sh*tty Mum: the parenting Guide for the Rest of Us by Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline

As my motherhood godmother puts it, the first weeks with a newborn are very hard on us mommies, but it does get better! Two of the things that got me by during those early days, and even till this day, are a little humour and hearing about other moms’ experiences.  So when I recently came across this book that talks about the embarrassing moments of motherhood that no one is tells you about, the advantages of “half-assing” it and not feeling bad about it, I felt it was the perfect combo of realizing that you’re not alone in this struggle and being able to laugh about it. Hey, I guess it’s no surprise that a mama who wrote the Confessions of a shi**y Mom, would enjoy this book.

#3 Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems: New, Revised and Expanded Edition by Richard Ferber. 

Some people have babies that sleep through the night from day one. Well, that certainly isn’t my case. We still wake up at least once every night, depending on his mood! I sometimes blame myself for perhaps being too socially active or travelling with him maybe a bit more than I should, hence not giving him a chance to get used to a rigorous bedtime routine, but such has been my life, part due to my choices, and part due to my circumstances. I just have to accept what has been and move on.

So, I made my first 2017 resolution early – I’m giving myself until the end of the holidays to do things improv style and then we will start the scary process of sleep training as of January 3rd. So I have just ordered this book that many are raving about. There will be tears and anxiety, for sure, judging by the reviews and the experiences of my friends. Maybe even a couple of iterations, but I desperately want my baby to learn to fall asleep on his own and stay asleep through the night. While I can’t speak to how the method suggested by Richard Ferber will work for us, I will definitely be able to share that come January 2017. 

So why do I trust this is a good book? The answer is in the numbers – I usually go for reviews before choosing any book and this one has a spectacular 1000+ reviews on Amazon.com with 4.5 stars on average. So, even if this is not a match for us, it is definitely worth a $12 try! Plus, this is great timing for me as I will use the extra free time from being around family over the Holidays to read this book and get prepared for the concept.

How about you, have any book recommendations for the time deprived newbie mama? Please, share!

Posted in motherhood

Confessions of a SHI**Y Mom

Just because I blog about motherhood, it doesn’t make me a Supermom. In fact, I am a pretty shitty mom! 

Now that we have established that, no one has to hide their judgment. This post is entirely dedicated to pointing out the numerous occasions on which I’ve come to question my mommyhood style & abilities. So it is definitely full of opportunities to scrutinize and judge me – as a matter of fact, it is an invitation to do so. But if you are a mommy, a good one at that, surely you’ve had a moment or two of your own, and if so, this is a dare to share so that new mommies can learn from our mistakes. 

These are 5 of my very own inglorious SHI**Y MOM moves that I have spectacularly accumulated in just 6 (very short) months:

#5 Assuming that the Bumbo floor seat is a safe place to “park” my 5 month-old.

So my little guy couldn’t wait to sit up. His neck and back were strong but he was still figuring out the whole balance thing and he fell over quite frequently. So I borrowed my friend’s Bumbo floor seat to see if the support might help. The next day, I sat him in and parked him right outside the bathroom next to a bunch of toys while I took a quick shower. But when I switched off the water, something seemed strange. The silence… When I opened the shower curtain, I found him arched to the side, one leg & hip out of the seat, with his head almost touching the floor. He was trying to grab a toy that had fallen out of reach. Maybe I should have watched this video: 

BABY Bumbo Floor Seat Safety Warning

#4 Changing my baby between two sinks in the bathroom of a rooftop restaurant /lounge bar.

How did I end up there with a 1 month-old? It was a friend’s birthday; before accepting the invitation, I asked if it was a family friendly place and my girlfriend actually called them to check. They said of course! Well, I guess we must have asked the wrong question, then! Because when I got there, the 3 looooong flights of stairs (no elevators), the loud music, the happy hour crowd and the lack of a changing table in the bathroom (to name a few), were all very loud signs that this was ABSOLUTELY not an appropriate venue for a baby. While I made it a quick one, sometimes a diaper change simply can’t wait, so I had to place him between two sinks and manage to take care of the shi**iest diaper change ever! 

#3 Realizing that my friends too, think I’m a SHI**Y Mom.

I was hanging out with two girlfriends and needed to get something in the kitchen, so I placed my little human on the colourful mat and headed to the (open concept) kitchen. But I was only gone 1 minute when he started to complain. So I came back and I saw that the lower half of his body was stuck in the space between the floor and the sofa. As he was learning to crawl, I understood that he had crawled backwards and gotten stuck. So I quickly approached to pull him out. That’s when both of my friends confessed that they had seen him but thought that I had put him there intentionally to restrict his movements. WOW! I’ve definitely successfully branded myself “The SHI**Y Mom”.

#2 Forgetting to buckle up my baby in the infant car seat (attached to the stroller) as i climbed up a flight of stairs.

After baby was born, everyday was a bad hair day. After one month, I decided to put an end to that. I made an appointment and headed to the cozy little salon that accommodates new moms and their babies (how cool!?). Anyway, at that stage, the baby slept most of the time. So when we got out of the house, he was asleep, but by the time we hopped on the train, he woke up cranky and HUNGRY! The only way I managed to calm him down was by getting him out of his car seat/stroller and putting him in the baby carrier to feed him. In less than 5, we were friends again, so I put him back in the stroller. 

When we reached our station I discovered that there were no elevators and a kind young man, who probably noticed the frustration on my face,  offered to help me carry the stroller up the stairs. So he lifted the front, I got the back and we started climbing. Half way through, I suddenly broke out in a cold sweat. “Shit, I didn’t buckle the harness straps! STOP! STOP! STOP!” I screamed at the poor guy; I didn’t know how else to express the urgency. We put the stroller down and I opened the canopies to find my 5 week-old quietly lying face down at the bottom of his car seat. While I’d just had the fright of my life, he seemed unbothered. How’s that for a shi**y moment. I am now as obsessive compulsive as Jack Nicholson in as Good As It Gets. 

#1 Being stuck in a broken Jeep at sunset between the lions and the rhinos with my 3-month old. 

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Before – (Don’t we look happy!)                                                    After – (So unimpressed)

It all began with a much needed sisters (+kids) vacation in Nairobi. My sister had a great idea; we would spend an afternoon at the Nairobi National Park which is just minutes from the city centre. Our trusted Nairobi driver hired us a guide and one of those oversized Jeeps that are designed to enhance the wildlife experience. The roof top goes up and you can stand up inside to have a better look at the animals and take photos. Surprised by this feature, I asked “So, Matthew, since the rooftop is open, can’t animals get in from the top?” His matter-of-fact-ish answer was: “No, no animals can climb up…except for cheetahs.” An awkward silence in the car was followed by an explosion of laughter. Well, if that was the case, we had nothing to worry about right?

A while later, after passing by the rhinos and zebras, we saw lions from afar! The driver decided to take what I would call the “back road” to get a closer look. But before he managed to get close enough, BOOM! We hit a big rock. The driver and the guide got out to check the extent of the damage. After 30 minutes of fruitless efforts they decided to call a rescue vehicle. By the time it arrived, the sun was setting. But that wasn’t the worst part; the rescue car offered the ultimate unobstructed view/access to our surroundings – no roof, no windows, no seatbelts. Need I say more?

I have had many more moments, but I think this is enough sharing for one day, isn’t it? Until next time!

So, what were YOUR inglorious moments? Dare to share and let’s save a new mom from making a bad move.

Posted in motherhood

5 SMART ITEMS Every Savvy Mom Should Own

Not that I’m the savviest of moms out there; actually, I’m pretty new at this. But I am definitely extra motivated to make choices that get things done faster and better (the first time around). Why? Because like every new mom, I am sleep deprived and on top of that I’ve made the decision to give up on sleeping when baby does. Instead, I take advantage of his naps to squeeze in some career planning, professional training, reading and so much more. So I am constantly trying to maximize the use of my time.

This, and the fact that I’m a true Marketer a.k.a. a sucker for a good value proposition, is why I’m always excited to find products that make my life easier, allow me to get stuff done faster and to avoid redundancy. Plus, with globalization, who knows where life will take me next… I dont want to accumulate lots of stuff; I want to buy the SMART stuff, and usually, that translates into something like this: “Less is more”.  So I thought I’d share a short list of the 5 most useful products I have bought since my little prince has made his grand entrance last summer.

#1 THE ONESIE EXTENDER

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Do you also feel like your baby outgrows her onesies within seconds? Mine has just turned 6 months old and I already have a suitcase full of  brand new, yet outgrown clothes.  I’ll admit that I am guilty of buying one too many onesies here and there (because they are just too cute sometimes), but I frankly did not overdo it. Had I known about this little wonder earlier on, I definitely would have extended the life of most onesies by at least a month or two. But I checked at Babies R us, Walmart, The Gap, Gymboree, Amazon…And I only found 1 overpriced set of 3. Surprised? I’m not! Baby clothing manufacturers probably calculated the sales dip this single item would cause and they decided to bury it in the “not-so-good ideas” drawer. But this is why we have retailers like Amazon US! Just because this item may not be the manufacturers’ best friend, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be every mommy’s!

#2 THE STRETCHY WRAP BABY CARRIER

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I’ve mentioned it in my travel essentials post and I cannot stress it enough; this is by far my best spent 70 bucks. The wrap-around baby carrier has the advantage of swaddling because it restricts your baby’s movements and it also offers the advantage of mommy-baby bonding as your baby is snuggled up against your chest and will quickly fall asleep to the sound of your heartbeat. It is great for travelling, but it has also often saved my life during witching hour. Baby won’t stop crying at bedtime, put on your stretchy wrap, slip him in and walk around for a few minutes. Did the trick everytime! 

#3 NIPPLE BRUSHES 

When I got my bottle set as a gift at my baby shower, I assumed that all the required cleaning tools were included in the set. What I came to realize though, is that there are hard to reach areas inside the bottle nipples and this is the best hiding place for mean mean bacteria! So, if you want to make sure that your bottles are 100% clean, get yourself some nipple brushes. Smaller than the large bottle brushes, they will effectively clean nipples by any brand. The Babies R Us house brand offers a set of 2 for just $3.99.

#4 TOMMEE TIPPEE PADDED NECK BIBS 

Babies spit up all the time. And most of the bibs you will find on the market have a wide neck or will fit a little loose around the neck. So if baby spits up, there are good chances you’ll have to change their onesie too as it will inevitably get wet. But it doesn’t have to be that way! When I received a set of two Tommee Tippee padded neck bibs as a gift, I didn’t know just how amazing they were. But then I put them on, I realized how much more effective they are in keeping baby clean and I had to go back to the store and get a few more! They are now my main go-to bibs. Definitely more expensive than the usual since they come in packs of 2 only, but it is soooo worth it! 

#5 MITTEN CLIPS

mitten-clips

Baby GAP and several other retailers sell adorable gloves and mittens. What is unfortunate however, is that while they are very warm (and cute too), they may not keep your baby’s little hands warm for very long. Before you know it, your baby will have found creative ways of removing the mittens and throwing them around. For the crafty mom, you can sow on a string that connects the 2 mittens; but for the rest of us, there are very cute mitten clips that you will only find online. Just like suspenders, you attach one clip to the glove/mitten and the other to the sweater/jacket, and tadah! No more lost mittens for the little kittens!

Any products you’d like to share? I’d love to try them too!