Travelling with kids

If you are like me then the idea of traveling with your kids is terrifying. A long car ride, or worse, a flight, with young kids sends shivers down your spine.

At least that’s what I used to think – then I gave it a go!

It turns out that traveling with kids isn’t anywhere near as bad as I imagined. In fact, it’s fun!

Travelling with kids

We have taken a few trips with our kids and next month we plan to travel all the way to Italy with them. This is something I never would have dreamed that I would do!

Our vacations so far have been within California or to neighboring states. We also flew down to Mexico last summer. I was initially worried about that but we had the best time. It was so good to have two weeks of quality family time where all our energy went on each other instead of being taken up with work, cleaning and cooking. We were able to just have fun and it was great for my husband to get so much time with the kids.

I had worried so much about silly things – like the kids screaming all the flight and all the time we were away or the kids not eating anything, us getting all sick and other silly worries. I found this article good for helping me feel better about it all and better prepared. The reality was that none of these things happened. We just had a good time.

Some things I do find essential for a great family vacation are staying in great accommodation, working around the kids nap times and being well prepared. The first time we went away, we stayed in a tiny hotel room and it did not work out that well. The next time we stayed in apartment style accommodation and that was so much better – we need our own space. We also need great facilities with plenty of space around the resort so the kids can run around. We especially like a big pool and room service comes in handy for when we can’t be bothered going out.

Nap times are also important. I have found as long as the kids are well rested, things go well – just like at home! If they get cranky and over tired, things stop being fun. I actually quite like having nap time every day. We all chill out for awhile and it’s nice.

I can't wait to go to Florence!!

I can’t wait to go to Florence!!

Going to Italy will be more challenging as there is just so much I want to do! I hope I am not aiming too high. I have never been before and it’s a life long dream so hopefully it goes well. Wish us luck!

Why I love toddlers

Toddlers seem to get a bad rap. There is so much talk of the terrible twos, toddler tantrums and other such things that it seems like all the positives of toddlers get ignored. And there are lots of positives.

I actually love toddlers. They have their challenges but I think there are more good points than bad points (like saying goodbye to breast feeding). Here’s why!

Why I love toddlers

1. They are super cute.

Toddlers are super cute. They are such little things with such big personalities. From the way they dress to the way they play to the way they draw, they are super cute to watch and enjoy.

2. Their amazement in the world is beautiful to watch.

My favorite part of toddlerdom is the amazement they have in the world. It doesn’t take much for their faces to beam and their interest to be heightened. It is a great age to explore and discover as you can see them lapping it all up. It doesn’t have to be far afield exploring either – they love the little things, like a walk to the park. It’s fun!

3. They love cuddles.

No other age group seems to lap up cuddles like a toddler. They love many many cuddles and aren’t shy about launching themselves in your direction to get one. The amount of love that they show is priceless.

4. They nap.

As much as I love toddlers, I also love that they generally sleep well at night time by this point and also have a decent day time nap. I love the downtime in the middle of the day giving us both a chance to rest.

5. They don’t talk much.

If you have had a preschooler, you will know why this is good! They can say enough to get their point across but don’t have a million questions and the constant chit chat of older kids which helps stop my own brain from exploding!

6. Even when they have a tantrum, they are still small enough to handle.

Tantrums are never fun but toddler tantrums can at least be cute! And they are still small enough that you can pick them up and remove them from a situation if you have to. You also don’t get as many judgmental looks as what happens if your preschooler has a tantrum.

7. It doesn’t take much to make them happy.

Toddlers are super easy to please. Just give them a tutu or a snack or some blocks or anything at all really and you are likely to see a big smile and have them happily play for awhile. It’s great!

There are many more reasons why I love toddlers – these are just the main ones! Do you love toddlers?

I have to admit, I was nervous about using a convertible car seat. Before I purchased one, I read a lot of reviews. I saw a few of them at parenting.com before reading more reviews. My main concern was safety. I had read previously that convertible car seats were not as safe as infant car seats and this made me nervous, as it would any mom.

In recent years their safety profile has definitely improved. I found the reviews at Safe Convertible Car Seats pretty insightful, and finally settled on the Britax USA Advocate. I settled on this for one major reason – it looked the safest! It looks so well cushioned and comfortable and I definitely found this to be the truth.

Installation was very simple. Actually, I found it simpler than most infant car seats I have used in the past. But the real test would be on the road. I strapped my daughter in and she seemed very comfortable! It was a hot day too and the fabric seemed to breathe quite well.

Asleep in her seat. (Obviously we were parked!)

Asleep in her seat. (Obviously we were parked!)

My son is older than my daughter so I was excited to see how it would fit him. My daughter is young enough to have the seat sitting rear facing (the way I prefer), but my son now requires a forward facing car seat. Switching it over was sooooo simple and he told me that he was very comfortable!

I seem to have also found the solution to sleep time. For some reason, both of my kids that tried this car seat fell asleep within about 10 minutes… that was weird.

So, would I recommend a convertible car seat?

Without a doubt. Previously I would have agreed with the worry about their safety profile, but they are now better than ever. I am considering purchasing a second one. And apparently you get ones that sit three across. My bank balance better watch out 🙂

Apparently this has been floating around the internet for a bit. But I’ve just come across it, thanks to some of my friends sharing it around. I’m talking about the Babocush. Someone sent me to this great video on facebook and so I had to check it out some more.

The video makes it pretty clearly but if for some reason you’re allergic to facebook the Babocush is like a rocker for a baby where they lie on their stomach and not their back, held in place by a harness and then rocked to sleep. It seems so obvious…once I’ve seen it.

This video shows it in a little bit more detail:

It looks to be a great idea and part of me is just a tiny bit sad that my own kids are too big to use one: its’ really for kids that are under 6 months.

It’d be fun to try and see if it really could rock a baby to sleep so easily. It makes a lot of sense to have a baby securely on their tummy instead of their back. After all, that’s a natural preference for really young kids. Having the harness cuts out any rusk of sudden infant death syndrome (I would thing but I am not an expert).

I’ve liked walks for calming down children but this would work well in the home.

Medicinal Benefits

The Babocush website claims – or perhaps just suggests – that the Babocush helps babies with colic or reflux calm down and relax. It’s hard to say if that’d be true, especially as I don’t know much about either condition.

I’ve been lucky in that I have no experience with reflux or colic with our two kids. I don’t know if this product would help or not. I would be interested in anyone’s feedback if they want to send it to me.

Winding a baby is meant to be made easier with the babocush as well. That’s what that video was about above, if you didn’t watch it. That I have less trouble believing.

Just to be clear: I am not affiliated with Babocush and did not receive anything for writing this. 

After my last article, and having written about breastfeeding previously, I was accused of being too in favour of breastfeeding and wasn’t being balanced enough. My friend, in a good natured way, pointed out I don’t talk about alternatives or the downsides of breastfeeding.

I wasn’t sure how t respond. I mean, firstly this is a private bog and not some professional or official source of information like a newspaper or a government agency. There is no requirement for me to be anything at all – as a private citizen I can be as biased as I like.  If I want to root for Donald Trump and advocate  for a 100 foot high, electrified, border crossing proof fence along the Rio Grande I can (but I won’t because that would be silly).

Secondly I did try and point out I’m not all out in favour of breastfeeding as much as I advocate it. I don’t want to be one of those people who will implicitly or explicitly  criticise the choice of other mothers who don’t breastfeed or do whatever it is they believe in.

So What Do I Think?

So here’s a balanced perspective, in a nutshell.

Firstly, I like breastfeeding and I like writing and talking about it. Now I don’t do it anymore I miss it.

Breastfeeding has well researched and documented advantages over other forms of feeding a baby. Breastmilk is perfectly suited for your baby and their digestive system and needs. Nothing else is as good for your baby.

I'm trying to balance here....!

I’m trying to balance here….!

That said, there are plenty of reasons why breastfeeding is impossible or hard and it shouldn’t be looked down upon as a failure when a mother does not breastfeed. It can hurt, your baby might never get the hang of it, a mother might not be able to make enough milk and it can drain your energy and make you really tired – on that I can speak from some experience.

In the end it is a choice for each and every mother to make specific to their circumstances. Sometimes that “choice” is dictated by those circumstances so the choice isn’t a choice at all.

The Bottom Line

So while I enjoy and encourage breastfeeding I think that as long as a mom makes the decision that ensures the best outcome for her and her child then scaremongers and everyone else should butt out. The important elements in any “formula” (pardon the pun) is making sure the baby gets what they need from mom without affecting mom’s health and wellbeing.

So there, I hope that adds a bit of balance and perspective to this blog and – if anyone ever reads this – the wider perennial debate.

Oh, and it seems like post-weaning depression is a thing after all. For anyone who was interested.

Hi everyone. I wanted to be more active on my blog this year. I really do enjoy writing when I get the chance to sit down and type out my thoughts or what’s been happening. Last year I never seemed to have the time although now my kids, especially my youngest, is now that bit older I’m hoping to improve. Not that I’ve done so well so far this year.

I’m a big advocate of breastfeeding and have spoken a lot about it before on my blog. Its something that I enjoy and advocate. It isn’t for everyone – I don’t like to be one of those people who are so strongly pro-breastfeeding that I’ll criticise anyone  who doesn’t breastfeed. It’s an individual thing.

Bu t that’s not what I am writing about today. I wrote in my last post about how well feeding solids was going. That was some time ago and in the passing weeks and months things are only going better.

What The End of Breastfeeding Means

So it means that my youngest has petty much stopped drinking milk, or at least my milk. My breastfeeding days  are pretty much over.

This isn’t a bad thing but I am surprised how sad it makes me feel when I stop and reflect on the fact I don’t need to breastfeed any more. It’s like a little bit of the bond between me and my daughter has gone. It’s silly I know but that’s how I feel.

I thought maybe it wasn’t just me – and it isn’t – but I’m not sure if post breastfeeding termination sadness is a thing or not. Some research on the internet and the library hasn’t turned anything up, but if it is a real thing (or rather something somebody’s researched) then I’m not surprised.

child-waving-goodbye

Breastfeeding is a special act involving mother and child, making you close as you can be (physically anyway) and helping forge the loving bonds that are so important. I wasn’t ready for it to end, even though the end was clearly coming (and has to come) so now the end is here I have been surprised by the depths of feeling I have. It’s almost a nostalgia.

I miss the special time of sitting on the couch with my “baby” and having it feel it  like we were the only two in the world. If only for that small slice of time. And maybe, to be honest, I miss having that special bond. Now I’m no longer my baby’s food source. Anyone can feed her!

Not every mom will go through this. In fact many moms are more than happy for breastfeeding to end as it means an end to the many aspects of it that are not nice or enjoyable (breastfeeding isn’t all roses, I know). And that’s okay.

One person who is happier is my husband! He is now able to take a greater role in feeding and loves his “special time” of having all his little girl’s attention and goofballing around, making planes fly or boats sail into her mouth.

There comes a time for every mom when she has to realize that her milk just isn’t enough for her baby. And that time is the time when it becomes obvious that your baby wants to eat food. From there it is only a short step to introduce solids.

I have to admit I was caught unawares when it happened to me. It sort of creeped up on me and it was my husband who first noticed the changes. Our baby was watching us intently when we were eating. You could see her follow the  food laden cutlery from our plates to our mouths. She even looked like she was imitating our chewing. When my husband pointed these things out to me I knew my little girl, and her diet, were growing up.

The first step was baby cereal. Made from either ground rice or grains these baby cereals are available for babies from the age of four months or up. Our baby was a little bit older than this so we were fine. We mixed our baby cereal with either water or some expressed breast milk (when I started doing that) and made something that looked like a baby version of oatmeal. Together with little baby spoons, whose tips were rubber coated to be gentle on soft baby gums, we began feeding our baby.

My husband really enjoyed this as he could get far more involved than was possible with breast feeding. I think it became a real bonding activity for them.

The next stage was baby purees – those little jars of baby foods that are so easy to buy. We started off adding a little to flavour the cereal we were making up. When we were confident she was happy with the flavour we began feeding her whole jars. Starting with fruits we slowly expanded the foods she had been exposed to before adding some vegetable purees.

eating

I wasn’t sure how to progress next -it was obviously too big a jump to go from there to giving her whole foods. So I had to do a little bit of research. It turns out I simply had to make the foods more coarse – slowly – until our baby was ready to eat solids.

This wasn’t too hard as I was already making some fruit purees using my blender. I just started blending the foods less, making them less smooth. This proved a success! Now I was my own baby food supplier I realised all the different things I could give my daughter. I started adding vegetables, such as potato, pumpkin, broccoli, sweet potato, cauliflower, carrot, parsnip and peas to the mix. Each time I tried something new I added just a little to a mix of existing fruits or vegetables. This worked really well, for the few times my daughter didn’t like something I could easily cut it out for a bit.

Soon after I felt my daughter was ready to try meat. Given my baby was now happily eating foods that were chopped finely but not to the point of being pureed it did not seem too big a jump. Like the vegetables I would steam the meat – chopped up bits of chicken or beef to start with, before introducing fish and even port. My daughter really enjoyed the new textures of meat.

From there it was a slow but steady progression to more solid food. Rusks seems a sign she could handle small pieces of steamed food. And sure enough she could, and that’s when I knew – for my daughter at least – my days of breastfeeding were numbered.

First of all, Happy Halloween!

Like I talked about in my last post, I’ve been feeling a bit tired and overwhelmed at times lately. It’s only more recently that I’ve began to think maybe its just not all the work around the house and with the kids that’s made me feel this way. I’ve began to take some steps to try and improve things – and I’ll talk, or write anyway, a bit more about it all soon – but one of the things I’ve really enjoyed doing is getting out for a walk with my youngest child early in the mornings.

Getting Active

My young daughter gives me plenty of opportunities to wake up early. Often, she is hungry early on and after a feed, if everything goes smoothly, we’ll go for a walk. If we don’t get up early enough, or things take too long then I’ll still try and go for a walk, but instead of first thing it waits until after my other kids have gone to daycare and school.

Around dawn is a great time to go for a walk.

Around dawn is a great time to go for a walk.

At this time of year sometimes it is too dark when my daughter gets up to go. Or the weather isn’t good enough for it. But even if its cold (but the weather is otherwise fine) I’ll make an effort to go out and have a walk.

It’s something I’m fast coming to love, our walks together. Early in the morning, especially if the sun is still rising in the sky, everything is calm and peaceful and it’s just my daughter and I. I can tell she loves being out and about and watching all the little things that go on. Maybe a garbage truck, or a delivery truck, out and about on their morning rounds. Or maybe its a jogger, or the birds singing as they wake up. There’s not too much going on to be able for us to notice and talk about the little things we see.

Not only is it relaxing but it is some special time between just my daughter. My middle child, who goes to daycare but still gets up early, often wants to come too.

The Best Double Jogging Stroller for me

At first I tried to use our smaller umbrella stroller for our walks. It works fine, but it didn’t feel right.

I’d noticed – for a while – a lot of moms using bigger, three wheeled, strollers for walking their kids around. It often struck me as unnecessary, these large strollers. Now that I am using a stroller just for walking, without needing to go somewhere or get something done, I’m looking into this new world of larger strollers.

It turns out they are “Jogging Strollers” – strollers designed to make walking or jogging or running with a kid a lot easier. I borrowed one from a friend to give it a try. Her stroller certainly make it a lot easier to walk – which the handlebar at a good height and little resistance. It feels like it glides along.

So I have decided to get one myself. Given my son’s interest I’m looking at getting a double stroller so I can take two kids. I’m still looking at what is the best double jogging stroller for me – there are several good choices available. If you have any options then feel free to send them to me.

I haven’t used the stroller I’m borrowing for jogging yet, just walking. I’d like to build up to it though. At the moment though, just going for a walk helps me wake up and feel energized for the day ahead.

 

Given my last two posts there has been a lot of feedback from people about what might be wrong. Lots of people suggested there might be an underlying health problem, like a thyroid issue. I didn’t think so, but went to see a doctor anyway. After some visits, some tests and a couple of bills it seems there is nothing out of the ordinary. I was relieved there was no serious medical issue as the cause.

The other major suggestion was that I should stop breastfeeding, as this was a likely contributor to my fatigue. It was a suggestion that was hard to take. I’ve written before about how I love to breastfeed my child – it is something that makes me feel closer to her, and I am sure makes her feel loved and closer to me. However, after some thought I noticed that part of my “energy recovery” was coinciding with a reduction in how much breastfeeding I was doing.

With my youngest daughter becoming old enough to ween there has been a reduction in the amount of breast feeding that has been needed. In fact it is actually zero, now I think about it – I express a little but that is about it.

So maybe there is something to the idea that my tiredness is linked to breastfeeding. I had to do some research.

sleepybaby

Breastfeeding = Sharing Your Calories

It seems obvious now, but a simple web search reveals the answer. You only get so much energy from the food you eat. If you use that energy to produce milk and then give that milk to your baby then that means less for you! Like a chocolate bar, you’re dividing up your nutrients between two people. As a result you get less, which in turn makes you feel less energetic.

That does not mean you should simply eat more, but you should try and eat better. Even if that does mean increasing the amount of food you eat, eating better foods like foods with a low glycemic index. Snacks of the right type of foods is okay, too.

Feeling Drowsy Right After Feeding

One of the more interesting things I discovered as I was doing my research was that breast feeding itself makes you sleepy. According to this page there is an gastrointestinal hormone called cholecystokinine (CCK) that increases in both mother and baby during breast feeding. The effect that CCK has is to induce a state of relaxation and sleepiness as well as feelings of satisfaction.

There is a second hormone, prolactin, sometimes known as the mothering hormone, that is released as a result of breast feeding. Like CCK, prolactin helps make a mother feel relaxed as she feeds.

Between the CCK and the prolactin hormones, breast feeding moms can feel very sleepy as the feed. CCK will make babies feel sleepy and full once they have had enough milk. Roughly 30 minutes after feeding the CCK in an infant peaks and it is an ideal time to get them to to go sleep.

Should I Stop Breastfeeding?

No, feeling tired alone is not a good reason to stop – not if you wouldn’t stop otherwise. As previously discussed, tiredness can be addressed in other ways. If you feel that breast feeding is making you so tired you are unable to function then it is fine to consider stopping but all other possible causes ruled out and any other courses of action should be  considered first.

You can also read what I have to say about saying goodbye to breastfeeding here.

It’s been a little while again since I’ve written anything. Quite a few people have contacted me through the contact form with advice and opinions on my energy levels and what I should do about it. I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to write to me and offer an opinion or advice. I appreciate the time everyone took.

First an update on how I have been feeling. I’ve been feeling better since I last wrote about my problems. I’ve been feeling  better of late. More energy to do things and feeling less tired. I still don’t have the time to do things that I’d like but there’s probably a whole different set of issues behind that.

I’ve been doing my best to follow the tips I gave in the last article. Preparing and eating better food has been a challenge, especially when cooking for a family, but I’ve been making improvements where I can. I have had better luck implementing my other suggestions, especially on exercise. I’ve now made it part of my routine to either go or a walk early if my young daughter wake me up (we go together). If she doesn’t get me up early we go instead after my other children head off for school.

It’s something I’ve really come to enjoy, even given the colder time of year. It has helped me feel fresher in the morning, getting off to a good start.

I’ve also been making a real effort to have more me time. At least one night a week we’ll get take out or dinner will be something quick to make or prepared in advance. And then I’ll try and take the night “off” and treat myself to some time doing nothing. I’ve noticed I’ve felt really recharged the day after.

With my daughter being older, she has started to sleep better. This has helped with getting more sleep, which must make a big difference to how I feel.

So overall I am feeling better. I am still not getting more done, but that’s okay. I feel less tired and have more energy for my kids and husband, which is really important for me. I am not sure how much of my energy has been from following my tips or simply things improving as my daughter gets older and I get more sleep. It is probably both but I do feel better when I take deliberate action to improve things. I feel more in control.