BeautyCounter Q&A with Stephanie Hedge

BeautyCounter Q&A with Stephanie Hedge


We are thrilled to share this Q&A with a mom we adore, Stephanie Hedge! Stephanie is Mama to 3 adorable kiddos, Wife to Joel, and a BeautyCounter (BC) consultant in Greenville, SC. As mamas, we are ALWAYS on the hunt for safe products for ourselves and our little ones. If you’ve heard of BC and want to know more, here’s your chance!


For those of you who don’t know, what is Beauty Counter (BC)?

BC is a company on a mission to put safer products into the hands of everyone.  As it pertains to the beauty and personal care industry, BC is constant advocator for regulatory change and only develop products that are safe and high performing for women and their families.  BC is committed to a health and safety standard that is far beyond what is legally required in the US.  We pioneered the “never-list” that now comprises over 1,500 questionable or harmful ingredients that will never be used in BC products.  The presence of these ingredients in the market is the reason BC is so active in their push for change.


When did you first learn about BC?  When was the moment that you decided that you wanted to try BC yourself?

A friend posted about BC’s summer offerings and it immediately caught my attention as I was looking for a safer sunscreen for my young boys.  I was also pregnant at the time, my skin was a mess and I wanted a regimen that would work but that I could use worry free.  I did some reading on BC and the industry and realized that I could be making better choices about the products I was using and putting on my family.  I borrowed a consultant’s kit (that at the time only consisted of a basic skin and hair care line) and after spending a couple of days using the products, I was hooked!


BC has a wonderful mom following, why do you think that is?

Because it’s a great company, with a great mission.  As moms, I think we are hardwired to take care and protect.  Health and safety awareness is increasing and armed with a little knowledge, it’s hard to not want better for ourselves and our families.  BC aligns with these concerns and offers moms peace of mind not only with their beauty and personal care product offering, but also with the overall efforts they make to put safer products into the hands of everyone.


How has pursuing running your own business through BC positively affected you?

It gave me something that was just for me. It can be challenging to find a balance between yourself and being mom.  Having this opportunity with Beautycounter I don’t have to compromise anything.  It allows me freedom to keep a flexible schedule for my family all while contributing financially as well as being a part of something positive.


What are your words of advice for moms when trying to launch a business like BC?

Don’t feel like you have to know everything right from the start. Someone once said “they would rather be ignorance on fire than knowledge on ice.” Sometimes you just gotta go for it!  And then there is the hestitation of time. That was my biggest hang up. Did a mom of 3 have enough time to begin a new business? I realized quickly, I did! That’s the beauty of BC, it can easily conform to your life. You work this business how it best suits you. Making small pockets of time available for it (think naptime, carline, etc.) can set you up for success.


What is your mom hack?

We use Sunday’s as our prep day.  We grocery, laundry, food prep, school prep and clean!  It makes you feel ready for a new week! Also getting up and getting myself ready for the day before little feet hit the floor definitely makes for an easier day…..til the little feet need breakfast!


You get an hour to yourself…..what would be the ideal way to spend it?

That’s easy……give myself a quick manicure (I love to paint my nails) and look on Pinterest and pin things I’ll never do!


How do you juggle it all, and find your balance?

The juggle comes down to having a good routine for the daily grind and I find balance with my family…….and the occasional night out with the hubs.


What’s your favorite BC product and why?

Nourishing Cleansing Balm hands down.  It’s the ultimate multi-tasker which is so great for busy moms.  It’s a cleanser, a make-up remover, and an overnight treatment and that’s only naming a few.

For kiddos, it’s the Baby Daily Protective Balm!


If you could say one thing about BC to our mom audience, what would it be?

Start simple.  Like me, try the sunscreen!  Read labels and empower yourself through the information available. Swap out potentially harmful products for ones that are safer and worry free. Small changes, can make a big impact!


For more information on BC products or to connect with Stephanie, please follow her on Facebook or visit her website!

No Body is Perfect | Mary-Catherine Riner, PhD

Does your physical appearance dictate your self-worth, confidence, or happiness level? In today’s society, it is all too common for magazines to use Photoshop and airbrushed images, which ultimately leads to unrealistic expectations and unattainable standards. Likewise, how often do you hear people arguing and bickering about the size of their bodies, asking if this makes ‘me’ look too fat, or stating that they should skip dessert? Other individuals may make body comparisons, decline social invitations due to self-doubts, or try on 20 different outfits before feeling somewhat satisfied. Each are indicators of someone who may be experiencing poor body image—which to often leads to eating disorders and other emotional problems. To improve your self-worth, consider these 5 body image boosters.

Consider the functions and purposes of your body. Create a gratitude list of what your body allows you to do on a daily basis, such as playing an instrument, walking to get the newspaper, dancing at concerts, lifting groceries, walking up stairs, or typing an email to a friend. Your body gives you life, breath, and mobility. It also allows you to communicate through crying, laughing, and smiling. Consider your body your personal automobile, asking yourself if you want to fuel it up with positive self-talk or run on empty with negative self-talk. This will also help build self-acceptance.

 Change your language and environment. Negative body image talk only fuels negative feelings and emotions about our bodies and ourselves. Invite people into your life who provide support and who see beyond physical characteristics and attributes. When you hear other women and men bashing and shaming their bodies, challenge their statements or indicate your discomfort with that topic. Change the focus because negative body talk is contagious. Rather than meeting a friend for lunch or shopping, consider a different context such as a bookstore or park.

Use your voice. Tell others when hearing comments about physical appearance and weight negatively influence you. This doesn’t have to be communicated in an aggressive way, but rather in a gentle and compassionate way that builds and encourages all parties involved. Other ways for self-expression are to journal or to write sticky notes describing what makes you unique outside of weight and physical attributes. No two people are alike, so consider your other achievements and positive qualities. Ask friends and family for what they admire and respect about you. Repeat to yourself that a number on a scale or the size of a body part is not indicative of your self-worth.


Listen to your body and its’ needs. It is easy for humans to fall into the comparison trap. The problem is that we all have different needs. Are you choosing a lighter meal or salad because your friend is, or because that is really what is best for you? Someone who exercises or is more active on a day-to-day basis will need more fuel than someone who is less active. The problem is that we often don’t see the full picture and that is when comparisons can become self-defeating. Likewise, healthy eating does not equal dieting. Before going with the pack, take a step back and listen to your body and its needs.

End unhealthy relationships. If friends or significant others make negative comments and fuel an unhealthy dialogue with yourself, consider taking a break or limiting toxic interactions. Life is too precious to spend it with people who make you feel bad about yourself, who don’t appreciate your positive qualities, and who are only focused on the external appearances. This also serves as an act of self-care and personal empowerment—you have the power and control to decide whom you hang out with and for how long. Choose wisely and choose people who love you unconditionally.


For more support, consider scheduling an appointment with a local psychologist or counselor. Talking about these concerns with an objective perspective can also be beneficial. Professionals can help you better identify between an unhealthy and healthy voice, and help you achieve a more realistic self-image.

About the Author, Mary-Catherine Riner, PhD

Mary-Catherine Riner, PhD, Ed.S, M.S., is a licensed psychologist serving South Carolina and Georgia. She earned her doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology and School Psychology at Florida State University in 2014. Mary-Catherine completed her residency at Johns Hopkins University and her post-doctoral fellowship training at the University of Georgia. She specializes in eating disorder treatment, body image interventions, OCD, couples counseling, and reducing suicidal/self-harm risk. Mary-Catherine also conducts ADHD/LD evaluations for high school and college students, and performs mental health compensation evaluations for veterans seeking benefits. In her spare time, she enjoys tennis, does cross fit, plays with her dogs, and spends time with her husband. For more information, visit her website:, view her Instagram posts at riner_counseling, or check out her Facebook page: ;

Spring Forward Sleep Tips | Aimi Palmer of My Little Sleeper

Pre-children you likely loathed the Spring time change as it meant losing an hour to your Sunday morning. Now you have kids, specifically an early riser, it means for a few days you revel in the fact that you have cracked it and they are getting up later. Sorry to say, but as the week progresses and they adjust their body clock, they will be back to old ways. (read our tips here for early risers). If you send your children to daycare or go to classes that you need to be up and out for, you will certainly want to be prepared for the time change.

Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for the daylight saving.

Change their schedule slowly. It’s not just bedtime and their wake-up that will need to be adjusted – you will need to adjust the day-time schedule too.  If your child is 12 months or younger, or sensitive to any change in their schedule, they will only likely be able to cope with a 10 minute adjustment. Therefore, you will want to spend around 6 days working on this adjustment. You can do this in advance of the Sunday time change, or the week after, depending on which works best for you. Each day, move their nap time forward by 10 minutes. For example, if they usually nap at 9.30am then on day 1 put them down at 9.20am, then day 2 at 9.10am and so on until you are putting them down at 8.30am which, with the time change, will be 9.30am. For older children, they can cope with larger changes over fewer days. Adjust their schedule by 15 minutes over 4 days.

Maintain your bedtime routine. We have said it before and we will continue to repeat this key tip– Consistency! Your little one will be more accepting of sleep when they know what’s coming. As their internal body clock is adjusting, a consistent bedtime routine will help them to calm  down and prepare for their nap or bedtime sleep.

Blackout blinds! Last summer you had a newborn and they weren’t affected by the early rising sun; however, now you have an older child they are more sensitive to it being light or dark outside. Time to make them believe it’s night time! Here are our favorite blackout blinds as they completely block out all outside light. Any kind of light can suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone our bodies produces to help us fall asleep and stay asleep. If they have light coming into the room in the evening they will struggle to fall asleep, especially at this earlier bedtime.

Remember to change the toddler clock! As you change your clocks around the house on Saturday night before you go to bedDon’t forget to change the toddler clocks too. If you are changing their schedule before Sunday, remember to adjust the toddler clock each day to match their new schedule. If you are looking to implement a toddler clock to help deal with this change, remember to use a reward system to help encourage the change in sleep behavior. We recommend the OKAY to Wake toddler clock and the soon to be available OOLY sleep companion.

Be consistent with your sleep training. If you are in the middle of sleep training whilst the spring time change ticks round, be consistent with your sleep plan and how you respond to their night waking and day time nap wake ups. There’s no reason to put the sleep training on hold, just be conscious of the changes to their internal clock.

About the Author:

Aimi Palmer, My Little Sleeper

Aimi Palmer is a child sleep consultant and the Founder of My Little Sleeper. Quite literally, she is helping sleep deprived families achieve their dreams! Aimi is a Certified Sleep Consultant having completed the “Sleep, Baby, Sleep” consultant-training program, approved by the International Institute for Complementary Therapists. 

Her interest in sleep training started when she had her first daughter… what a learning experience that was. She and her husband did, after many sleepless nights, employ a sleep trainer and seeing the results sparked her initial interest in the subject.

When she had her second child, she put everything she had learned into practice then low and behold – baby girl slept!  Not being totally exhausted the entire time meant that she had more energy to enjoy being a mom to Jessica and Lexi and it was around this time that she thought how much she would love to help other parents benefit in this way.

My Little Sleeper offers no cry sleep tips, and can provide consultations and services virtually, so location (or mom’s state of mind!) is never an issue — Aimi can help.

Follow Aimi on Instagram and Facebook for tips, tricks and inspiration to get your little ones sleeping in no time!

Maximize Your Child’s Developmental Potential | Our First Year

Maximize Your Child’s Developmental Potential | Our First Year

When should I start playing with my baby? The answer to this question is, as soon as that little bundle of joy makes their arrival.

You have been preparing for months for your little one. The nursery has been freshly painted, the crib and Pack ‘n Play painstakingly put together, and all of those adorable (albeit somewhat impractical) baby clothes have been washed and carefully put away (organized by size, of course). The baby shower has come and gone and you’ve received diapers, wipes, an abundance of clothing, blankets, strollers, bottles, pacifiers, wipe warmer (sure, you’ll use it once or twice), and the occasional gift card for a mani/pedi from a seasoned momma. But what about toys??? Did you forget to put them on your baby registry?

One can become overwhelmed by the variety of toys from which to choose. Go with the traditional toy or the current fad? Boy toys, girl toys, or gender neutral? And what about batteries and technology?

The Our First Year team is going to let you in on a little secret…YOU are your baby’s favorite toy. Your baby would prefer to look at your face, hear your voice, and interact with you rather than the trendy top of the line baby toy. With that being said, there are some toys that promote the appropriate and crucial interaction with your baby that is necessary for the development of fine/gross motor skills and language/social skills.

The Our First Year team is comprised of three practicing therapists – a Speech-Language Pathologist, a Doctor of Occupational Therapy, and a Doctor of Physical Therapy. We have taken out the guesswork for you and have hand-selected 8 developmentally-appropriate toys for babies from birth to one year. We have designed an activity card for each toy, using our many decades of expertise in our fields. These activity cards contain tried and true methods for meaningful playtime with your baby. The activity cards will inform you of why each toy was selected and which areas of development it targets. All 8 toys are housed in a crimson-colored Our First Year backpack, so that you can work on baby’s developmental milestones wherever you go.

The Our First Year backpack, welcome letter, toys, and activity cards come in handy when visiting the grandparent or staying with the babysitter and other caregivers. You can feel confident in knowing that your child is engaged in meaningful play while you are away.

For more information about the Our First Year Company, or to purchase the Our First Year backpack, please visit our website at We are also on Instagram (ourfirstyear1), Twitter (@our1styear) and Facebook (@ourfirstyear1).

Maximize your child’s developmental potential and enhance playtime with your baby. Our First Year…it’s all in the bag!

About the Authors,

The Team from Our First Year:

Heather Pawelkiewicz – In addition to a Master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Florida (Go, Gators!), Heather also holds a Master’s in French Linguistics. She has been a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist over a variety of settings (private practice, hospital, outpatient, school) for 13 years. When Heather is not writing blogs for Our First Year or treating students at the local elementary school, you can find her working on her historical/fantasy novel and reading, cooking, playing board games, hiking, and traveling with her high school sweetheart, 10-year old son, and 9-year old daughter.

Donna Woodworth – Donna is a Physical Therapist with over 37 years in the field. She holds a Bachelor’s in Physical Therapy and a Master’s in Exercise Science. After her youngest son entered college, Donna returned to school herself and obtained a Doctorate in the field of Physical Therapy from A.T. Stills University. Donna’s experience includes working with people throughout the lifespan; however, when her children were young she started working in the local elementary school in order to maximize her time with her two boys. To this day, Donna continues to work in the public school setting with the special needs population from age 3-22 years old. Donna is an avid exerciser and loves to hike and travel with her husband and two adult sons.

Hollie Hendershot – Hollie is an Occupational Therapist with 17 years of experience. She holds a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy and a Bachelor’s of Occupational Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia. She attended UGA for her undergraduate studies (Go, Dawgs!). Hollie has experience across the pediatric continuum including outpatient rehab, early intervention, home visits, and the schools. Additionally, she owns Foundations Therapy, a contracting company. Most recently, Hollie has started branching out and guest lecturing at a local college. Hollie enjoys time with her husband, son, and two daughters. As a family, they enjoy hiking, playing cards/games, and sports. Hollie loves sports and enjoys watching and playing them. She spends her leisure time reading, exercising/ running, and watching her kids grow!

Essential Oils + Safety

Hello YMS family!

It’s Jamie Sabat, founder of Distill + Express, a health and wellness community in DC, back to chat with you about essential oils and safety. I get so many questions from mamas about the dosage of essential oils and how to use them on their littles.

I’m here to share tips and tricks for all you natural mamas. When using essential oils on our little ones safety is of the utmost importance. There are certain oils we have in are arsenal to protect our children and boost their immunity and some we should use with caution.

During cold/flu season, I’m always super nervous about the kiddos getting sick. Here’s a great routine to keep them healthy and strong. For my 3-year old, I get him going with a healthy breakfast and vitamins before we head out the door. I sprinkle a PB Assist sachet in his water. It has a yummy melon flavor that he loves. It’s followed by a chewable a2z vitamin. He loves pancakes. Instead of using sugary syrup, I drizzle the IQ Mega on his short stack. Yummy!

Before we run out the door, I roll OnGuard on the bottoms of the feet and down the spine to protect against germs. For safety, always dilute in Fractionated Coconut Oil. Below is an illustration of instructions on how many drops to use according to their age. OnGuard is safe to diffuse.

At the end of the day, I start preparing for bed. Sleep and rest are key to staying healthy. I switch between diffusing Breathe in the kids’ rooms if they’re congested or Juniper Berry aka the “oil of the night” for relaxing and diminishing bad dreams.

If you’re interested in learning more about natural solutions for you and your family, message me on my FB page, Distill + Express.

Details on doTERRA products mentioned:

Juniper Berry: With the ability to cleanse and purify the air, the fresh aroma of Juniper Berry essential oil can produce a calming, grounding effect.

Breathe: A popular essential oil blend, doTERRA Breathe’s refreshing aroma can be used to create feelings of clear, easy breathing.


Onguard: As one of doTERRA’s most popular oils, doTERRA On Guard is a powerful proprietary blend that supports healthy immune function* and contains cleansing properties.

PB Assist Jr is a powdered probiotic supplement designed for children or adults who have trouble swallowing pills. It includes 5 billion live cells of a unique blend of six different probiotic strains, specifically selected for their benefits among children. These probiotics have been blended into a delicious powder that can be poured directly into the mouth for a fun and tasty way to integrate probiotics into anyone’s daily routine.*

doTERRA IQ Mega takes the fishy taste out of fish oil and puts the fresh orange flavor of doTERRA Wild Orange CPTG® essential oil in this great tasting and easy-to-swallow omega-3 supplement providing 1,300 mg of concentrated, omega-3 fatty acids per serving. IQ Mega contains the essential nutrients DHA and EPA to support healthy brain, cardiovascular, immune, and joint function.* IQ Mega is formulated to be used daily by children and adults with dōTERRA a2z Chewable™ tablets.

doTERRA a2z Chewable is a proprietary formula of ingredients developed with children and adults who have difficulty swallowing capsules in mind. Combining a blend of B vitamins with a blend of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as botanical extracts, doTERRA a2z Chewable supports healthy cell development and longevity when taken daily.* doTERRA a2z Chewable is formulated to be used with doTERRA Wild Orange-flavored IQ Mega™ Omega-3 fish oil as a comprehensive dietary supplement that supports healthy immunity and cognitive function as well as antioxidant protection.*



*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

About the Author:

Jamie Sabat is the Founder of Distill + Express, a health and wellness community and mother of two little ones, James and Mila. Jamie and her husband, Michael, happily moved from NYC after their son was born and have relocated to Washington DC, looking for a slower pace of life.

She started working on Distill + Express to provide healthy solutions for her family. Her desire to live naturally and use essential oils as her main health solution comes from her love for them. She wants her family unit to be happy and the healthiest they can be. Now, her family uses oils to clean the house, fight a cold and rock themselves gently to sleep – all with natural solutions. What a great feeling!



Dear Mama, A Love Letter on Valentine’s Day

Dear Mama, A Love Letter on Valentine’s Day

Dear Mama,

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love. Love for your spouse, love for your kids, your friends, your family, your life. But for us, it is a day to celebrate YOU. So, we want to tell you just a few of the reasons why we love you.

You wear all the hats, and you wear them well. You are a mama, wifey, sister, friend, aunt, colleague, boss, daughter. Your face alone completely lights up someone else’s life. Your laugh sparks immediate joy. You are loved quite simply because you’re you.

You are the only one who kisses the boo-boos just right. Your squeeze hugs are the best remedy, and your rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” can comfort the saddest of souls. You are the only one who can make everything better, just by being you.

You are selfless. You love your people something fierce, and nothing will get in your way of ensuring their life’s every happiness. You sacrifice for their peace. Your body, your mind, your thoughts, your SLEEP, relationships, you time, the list goes on, all of these things are subject to sacrifice for the sake of your loved ones. You don’t squawk one bit. You know that by putting in the time now, you’re doing your part to raise up good little humans. And for that, we’re grateful.

You wonder how you’re doing. You ask yourself “is that normal?” more times a day than you can count, and you wonder how other moms are handling situations in their homes. The meltdowns, the napstrikes, the sudden newfound food aversions. You’re worried if everyone in your family is eating or sleeping enough. If you’re eating and sleeping enough. (The answer is almost certainly, NO, you’re not.) You’re thinking about that bottle of wine and whether it was really necessary last night. (The answer is almost certainly, YES, it was.)

We are here to remind you that no one can Mom quite like you can. You’re doing an amazing job.

You wonder if you’re working enough, or too much. If you could be doing more for your clients or more at home. You wonder if you’re contributing enough time, money, energy to the people that need you. We are again here to tell you, YOU ARE. You are hustling and bustling for yourself AND your family, and that is something you should be so incredibly proud of. You are valued, needed, revered. You show up when it matters most, you are reliable and steadfast.

You have fears and insecurities, but you are confident in your skin. Even on the days when you’re riddled with doubt, you are a badass. You are filled with strength and grace, so much, all at the same time. You are a soft place to land, and also tough as nails. You handle any curveballs life throws your way — you take it in stride, and -almost always- with a smile.

You are a role model, a teacher, and a guide. You are wonderful and wise. You are Love. You are the only one who can do what you.

Wishing you a very Happy Valentine’s Day, Love.

Your Milk Shoppe


Adding Variety to Your Puzzle Play | Natasha Grogan of Playful By Design

Did your child receive a puzzle for Christmas? These wonderful little toys offer more possibilities than you may think at first. As your child determines where the piece should go, they are working on spacial awareness and problem solving. As your child manipulates the little pieces into place, they are practicing fine motor. When you work with your child on the puzzle activity, it becomes a wonderful communication and language learning experience.

But what do you do when they loose interest in the puzzle? What do you do when the challenge of knowing where the pieces go wears off? You add some variety to your puzzle play! These simple activities are best for chunky wooden toddler puzzles, not the more advanced cardboard pieces.


Peek A Book Photos

Take a simple shape puzzle and cut out family photos to place in the holes. Toddlers love peeking under the spots and finding their daddy’s face peeking at them. You can also quickly draw animals or cut out animals that you have printed to do a theme puzzle in the same way.


Hide the Pieces

Throw the pieces in a sensory bin or even a bin of water and let your child reach in and find the pieces before placing them on the puzzle. If you go with the water option, just be sure to dry them off after you are done with the activity so that you preserve the wood.


What’s in the Bag?

This one works best for puzzle pieces that have a specific shape, like animals or dinosaurs. Put the pieces into a non-see through bag. Have your child reach their hands in the bag and feel the puzzle piece to make a guess as to what it is before pulling it out of the bag. Older siblings can jump in on this game by playing with a letter puzzle set.


The Missing Piece

Place the puzzle pieces out in front of your child. Have them close or cover their eyes. Remove one of the pieces from the table. Then ask your child what piece is missing. This is a very intellectually challenging game for most toddlers, but such wonderful practice. You may want to just begin with three pieces and then slowly work up to more once they practice this skill.


Trace the Pieces

Puzzles make great tracing practice. Pull out some pencils or crayons, some paper and puzzle pieces and help them move their hands around each piece. Remember, that this is a skill to be practiced and will not be mastered until the child is older.

Create Your Own Puzzles

Cut up family photos into puzzle pieces. Children love photos of people that they know. You can also make puzzles by taking household items like forks, cups and socks, quickly tracing them on paper, then asking your child to match the object to the traced silhouette.


Stack the Pieces

Allow children to build and explore the shapes. Encourage stacking towers and making patterns with the colors.


Play Pretend

Puzzles that are animal, house or people themed are great for character play. Toddlers love using chunky puzzle pieces as fantasy play props.


Most of you know that I am all for open-ended toys, so when I tell people that I think puzzles are a great toy, I am often questioned. Just like most objects though, it is all how you use them. If you insist that the child simply places the puzzle piece in the correct location, then the toy is closed. But if you allow opportunities for play and exploration, this simple wooden toy becomes a wonderful learning tool.

About the Author: Natasha Grogan, Founder of Playful by Design

Hello there. I am so glad that you have come into my playful, simplicity seeking space. I have always had an entrepreneur’s mind with an educator’s heart. I am a nature loving mama of a sweet little girl.  I am also a lucky wife to my hard-working college sweetheart, Zach.

When I’m not playing with Lydia, I sneak in some work. You see, I’m a self proclaimed child development nerd. I love learning about developmental levels and how the activities and environment that we create effects our brain function.  I believe that childhood should be cherished, dirt is meant to be played in and songs are meant to be sung.

I research, I consult and I pour my heart into helping others learn  mindful ways to help their little ones play and grow. My focus is on helping families create a happy home through gentle habit formation, family rhythm and minimalism.

And just in case you were wondering… I can be bribed by black coffee, raspberries and salvage wood furniture.

Here are links to follow Natasha’s blog, Facebook and Instagram!

How Doulas Help, Lisa Zimmermann of Maternal Child Connections

How Doulas Help, Lisa Zimmermann of Maternal Child Connections

I recently asked a client to give me some feedback on how I have helped her as her doula. She replied: confidence booster, companionship, teacher.

I wanted to know what words she would use to describe my brand of postpartum help to her friends and family. These are her words, but I will break them down.

I offer four-hour shifts, one or two times per week, with a mental and public health focus. I do this to support and empower new parents, so that in between my visits, they can gain confidence.

This works for me, but most importantly—It works for them! They can get used to squeezing a lot of successful moments into a short time, and leave time open for my emergency lactation cases.

In four hours, we can boost confidence. We can give a bath together, or I can observe as the parent gives the bath. We can talk through where the best location for the bath is in the home, how to keep the baby safe, and what needs to be at an arm’s length.

At the same time, a doula can wash baby clothing and help organize things around the house. She can take care of the dishes, wash bottles, or just take out the garbage and recycling for you.

Mom can have a nap and shower, because she has someone to hand off the baby to. Doulas love to cuddle with babies, especially tiny newborns. It is our jam. Nothing is more exciting at three a.m., than realizing your doula will arrive in a few hours to relieve you.

Once mom has showered and eaten breakfast, we can go outside for the first drive with baby or for a walk with a carrier. All of these activities help a new parent to feel confident. Your doula can help navigate the complexities of leaving the house, because there is someone to talk it through with. It also helps a new parent to realize that the outing may not look the same every time, but they can problem solve to achieve it. This boosts confidence.

Companionship is important to a new parent, because taking care of a newborn can be very lonely. Sure, you have a beautiful baby to hold, but you begin to forget other things you liked to talk about when consumed with cycle of feed, burp, diaper, sleep, repeat.

Your doula will understand this and can talk you through the highs and lows. Your doula can also can talk with you about current events, your favorite television show, how you secretly are glad you are no longer pregnant, or that you feel more insecure than you have since high school.

Finally, doulas are teachers. Your doula can teach practical skills like suctioning your baby, taking the temperature, when to worry about the umbilical cord, how a healing circumcision should look, what diapers should look like, and how to be good to a healing postpartum body.

Doulas can also talk about theoretical things such as parenting styles and expectations with non-judgmental support. Your doula can help you to figure out what you worry about, and just how much.

When you are pregnant it can be hard to know what type of parent you will be. But, once your baby arrives and you get to know them, you may find you become the parent they need. Our child’s needs dictate the parent we become to some extent, and doulas are trained to help you navigate this maze.

Four hours doesn’t sound like much, but it is the perfect amount of time to learn, grow as a parent, and build your confidence while letting you also figure out things on your own. And having these educational sessions a couple of times a week, will grow your confidence exponentially.

This provides doula care that works for parents, as they work together to grow into their new roles.  MCC wants to focus on your confidence and mental health by using a model of home visiting, with a public health and educational focus.

About the Author, Lisa Zimmermann RN, CPN, IBCLC:

Lisa Zimmermann is the Owner of Maternal Child Connections, and is a Registered Nurse, Certified Pediatric Nurse, IBCLC, Certified Postpartum Doula, and Certified Postpartum Placenta Specialist. Basically, she’s the bee’s knees and we just love her heart for helping mamas and mamas-to-be!

Lisa is the mother of a silly kindergartener and married to the king of bad jokes. She enjoys biking, reading, spending time with friends and family, and learning more about herself, her community, and humanity.

Maternal Child Connections offers lactation consultant, postpartum doula, and placenta encapsulation services in Chicago. To connect with Lisa or to learn more about how she can help you, please visit her website. You can also follow along with MCC on social media on their Instagram and Facebook pages!

Top Apps for Savvy Mamas

Top Apps for Savvy Mamas

Mamas! Check out this round up of some of our favorite apps that make #momlife just a little easier. From saving your memories to saving you money, we’ve got you covered with this list! Cheers!



The Text Message Baby Journal

Qeepsake texts you a question about your child. You text back your response, and an entry is added to your child’s private journal. From your account on the Qeepsake website, you can edit or expand upon your journal entries, add photos, and more. You can also send a text to Qeepsake any time something funny or memorable happens, and that memory is forever archived with the date, your thoughts, and even a photo, if you like.



We all know how hard it is to part with your kiddos artwork… but when they’re bringing home things EVERY.DAY, the clutter struggle is real. The best way to capture, organize, and celebrate your children’s creativity is with Artkive. Artkive saves your kids artwork so you don’t have to part with it forever, but you also don’t have to keep it forever. You can mail the piece in a pre-paid envelope, or upload a photo via the app, and the artwork is stored and dated and can be made into products as well, including hardcover books!


Wonder Weeks

Based off of the bestselling book, The Wonder Weeks, this app will keep you informed about the (mental) leaps and bounds of your baby — any time of day or night. By knowing what is going on inside the mind of your baby, you can help to stimulate development and make the leap a little less daunting. If your baby is having a particularly hard time, it could be because of a leap. The personalized chart prepares you for the upcoming leap that marks a specific difference in your baby’s mental development, while also explaining what your baby can understand and learn during and after this mental leap. It’s fascinating to have this kind of information about your baby’s brain right at your fingertips!


Having a hard time meeting other mama friends? Check out Peanut, which some have described as kind of like a Tinder for Moms. Peanut’s mantra: Meet as Mamas, Connect as Women. Peanut shows you likeminded mamas near you and makes it easy to meet. This is certainly something we can get behind!

Leap Second

A video montage of your baby’s life created with one-second videos. You can set it up so you receive a daily reminder to snap a recording, which takes the thought of out it. Leap Second makes it super easy to trim your videos and stitch them together to form a mini montage. Watch this back after a year and see how much your babies have changed – you will love reliving the moments back over again!\


Ink Cards and Postagram

This is one of our FAVES! This is the easiest way to mail one-of-a-kind greeting cards! Send a greeting card or postcard using your own pictures from your phone or social medias. There are card designs to match any holiday or occasion. Have a super cute pic of your bambino and want to send it to Grandma to make her day, but know you will literally never print and actually send? This app has your back… for $2 (this includes postage!) you can send it via Postagram! WE LOVE.


We all consider Instagram and Facebook the highlight reels of our lives, right? So why not turn those reels into books we can flip through every once in a while? Sign up with ChatBooks and automatically receive a new book for every 60 pictures you upload. Each book only costs $10, and you don’t even have to remember to order it… it just shows up on your doorstep!


So, this one isn’t an app, but it makes the list because every mom needs to know about it. Stop what you’re doing and download this on every browser you could possibly ever use for online shopping. Honey is an extension you can install on your web browser to automatically search for coupon codes to apply every checkout. It picks the best ones so you save the most money and it’s FREE to use. Plus, join Honey Gold and you can even start to earn rewards and money back. Makes those late night shopping sessions that much more enticing!


This app is for mamas with school-age kiddos. Chauffering to practices, games, rehearsals, etc., can begin to feel like a full-time job. No mind if you have more than one in this phase! Ridesharing is only helpful if all of the parents are on the same page all the time, which is sometimes takes numerous back and forth texts, calls, messages. With the Carpool-Kids app, parents can manage the details of the carpool, knowing when it’s their turn to drive, who they are responsible for, and who is responsible for their child, at all times. This is such a great way to share the weight and have peace of mind about who is going where, when, and how they are getting there!

These apps have certainly made our lives a little easier… we hope they help make yours a little easier, too!

Your Milk Shoppe

Resources for Parenting with Disabilities

Resources for Parenting with Disabilities

Mamas, meet Ashley Taylor! She started a website and resource to help disabled parents navigate some of the trickier aspects of parenting with disabilities. From laws to rights to must-haves, you can find tons of useful information on her website. We love this particular message from Ashley because she’s speaking to parents with disabilities, but this advice is wildly helpful and applicable to all parents. Please take a moment to check out her tips for preparing for parenthood below!

Parenting with Disabilities

Life with a disability can present many challenges, from prejudice to environments often created from an ableist perspective. There are plenty of practical and emotional challenges, too, but one which can be overlooked is that of parenthood. Here are some tips and advice on preparing your lives, and your homes, for this adventure.

Don’t Compare

Life shouldn’t be a quest for perfection. It’s okay to make mistakes, so don’t compare yourself to your peers or to parents shown in the media. If you’re too worried about hypothetically trying to be the perfect parent, you will undoubtedly not only add unnecessary stress to an already difficult situation, but you may deter yourself from parenthood, or at least undercut your self-esteem. Don’t worry about being perfect; you aren’t. No one is. You’ll make mistakes. That’s okay. It will be hard at first, but every day, you will learn and grow with your child.

Plan Your Finances 

The first financial plan you’ll need to prepare for, even before factoring how much the new baby equipment will cost, are your delivery fees. Make sure you have enough to cover what you’ll need, get up to speed on what your insurance will help with, and go from there. Next, make a list of short-term priorities (cribs, diapers, things of that ilk), start saving (and create a savings account for your child), but also consider long-term finances (such as college funds). Even if you can’t save as much as you want to immediately, having a goal will help keep you on track in the long run.

Make Your Home Childproofed and Safe

Of course, you will need to babyproof your home by securing large pieces of furniture, covering sharp edges and electrical sockets, and making sure you’re up-to-date with your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Depending on your disability, you may also require adaptive baby-care equipment. It is important to pay particular attention to those items often overlooked (like the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors previously mentioned), and to make sure they are up-to-date and working properly. The last thing you need is a faulty detector with your new family.

Seek Support

Depending on your specific disability, there may be information and support out there to help give you some pointers from others within your community. There are specific groups for parents with disabilities to utilize. Communication during parenthood is imperative. Now that you are a parent, you must communicate with your co-parent on things you may have once overlooked, from money worries to hidden fears about your parenting ability that you never wanted to discuss. The sooner you address these issues, the quicker you can deal with them together. If you suffer from a mental illness, such as anxiety or depression, it can compound the issue of pregnancy and parenthood. It is incredibly important to not try to hide any issue—no matter how small you think it is—from your partner, or those who are there to support you. Parenthood is a huge challenge, and you will need to care for yourself to properly care for this new life you’re bringing into the world.

There are challenges for everyone when becoming a parent. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, but you have all of the tools for success at your fingertips. If you prepare yourself, your home and your life for your new bundle of joy, you are sure to have a prosperous and happy family. Remember, check those overlooked areas, and ask for help when you need it. You’re not alone in this new venture.

About the Author:

Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.

Visit Ashley’s website for further information and resources!




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