Baby Gear Recommendations for a Minimalist Mama-to-Be

Baby Gear Recommendations for a Minimalist Mama-to-Be

A few weeks ago, we shared the love story of Anna Sugarman, a beautiful mama-to-be, and one of our newest baby planning clients. Today we want to share some of the items we’ve recommended for this minimalist mama. Things to know about Anna: this is her first baby, she is a frequent traveler with minimal storage space, and living a Green lifestyle is of utmost importance to her and her husband. If this also sounds like you, we hope this list helps!

You need a great baby carrier, a great bed option (just in case) for naps and a reliable and sturdy diaper bag, a few lightweight blankets and a lightweight and easy to collapse stroller.

 

Baby Carriers

We think every mama who plans to babywear should consider both a wrap and a soft structured carrier. Wraps can take a little getting used to, but once you master it, it takes up virtually no room in your diaper bag and can be whipped on in a breeze. The different wrapping methods allow a little more freedom with how you position baby, and can be used from birth up to roughly 25 lbs. Soft structured carriers are a hot choice for mamas that want the ease and benefits of babywearing without the intimidation factor of the extra fabric that comes with wraps.

We love Ergobaby All Position Carrier, and Solly Baby Wrap; both are made with super breathable material and comfortable for mom (or dad!) and babe.

 

 

Travel Beds and Co-Sleeping 

Co-sleeping is a hot button topic for many parents. When done safely, there are many emotional benefits for both mama and baby. If you decide to co-sleep, make sure you have a designated space for baby to comfortably sleep on their back. We love Dockatot for this purpose; it has lots of other purposes besides co-sleeping; it can be used as a lounger, for tummy time, as a changing pad, the list goes on.

Not co-sleeping? Traveling with your tots? A lightweight, compact travel crib is a must for families on the go. Whether for naps, overnights, or contained playtime, the Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib is one of our favorites. You can literally pack it up and carry it as a backpack!

 

 

Muslin Blankets

We cannot stress enough how much use you will get out of having extra blankets around. From swaddling to a light layer over baby for walks, you will definitely get your money’s worth with these. They transition into toddlerhood, and can even be fashioned into a nursing cover if needed! We love the prints and fabric from Aden + Anais.

 

Diaper Bag

We highly suggest a backpack! Backpacks are easy, spacious, sleek, and comfortable, especially when wearing baby. Check out this cutie from Skip Hop!

Travel Stroller 

You need something lightweight and easy to maneuver. The UppaBABY G-LUXE Stroller can be used from 3 months on, and is a great option for frequent travelers.

 

Cloth Diaper Recommendations

Cloth diapering can be incredibly intimidating because there are so many options out there. How can you be sure they won’t leak, especially on the go, really leaving you in a bind? The technology has come SO FAR on cloth diapers… these are our favorites!

SoftBums

Lots of great reviews regarding the snug fit and dry baby for hours!

Best Bottom Diapers

It is the trimmest form of diaper that comes with three types of inserts – stay dry (4 layers), overnight (6 layers), organic cotton (5 layers). You can use it for newborns and for babies who weigh 35 pounds or more!

Bummis Tini Diapers

Again, keeps the baby dry and the diaper fits snug to the leg.

BumGenius One Size Pocket Diaper

It’s one of the best diapers because of its rich features like stretch-to-fit and easy to dispose. Made of organic cotton it has six layers of absorbency. Your little one will stay dry for sure if he uses this one.

The Best Natural Baby Care Products

This is a great site to subscribe to for all things natural and safe for your baby- www.bestproducts.com/parenting/baby/g174/organic-baby-products-clothes-toys/

Our favorite brands that are all natural, safe and eco-friendly-

 

The Fourth Trimester. It’s a Real Thing.

The Fourth Trimester. It’s a Real Thing.

“Why can’t I put him down? Why is he only happy in my arms and on my chest? I can’t even get a quick shower without him crying!”

These are some of the few things I have said to myself over the past 6 weeks. I feel like the moments I have without my 6 week old in my arms are so rare, that I don’t remember what it feels like to not be holding him. I feel horrible about complaining, but sometimes I just need to not be touched for a moment. I just didn’t understand why he was so attached! You’ll hear from others to just let them cry, that they want to be held because you are spoiling them and giving in.

That is just not true at all.

Babies don’t spoil.

That still leaves the question, why do they want to be held so much?
Have you heard of the fourth trimester? I hadn’t. I mean, I had heard about it a little with my daughter, but quickly forgot about it as she got older and needed to be held less. So when my son came, and it was the same thing all over again, it was not the first thing that came to mind. I immediately wondered, what am I doing wrong? Am I not producing enough milk? Am I starving him? WHY! WHY! WHY!

It took me talking to another mom, well, more like ranting to another mom, to be reminded of the fourth trimester. (I highly recommend mommy groups by the way. Being a part of them and finding mommy friends has been a life saver for me, with my daughter and now even more with my son.)

So, the fourth trimester, what is it?

Well, your sweet little bundle of joy has spent the last 9 months cozied up in your belly. It was nice and warm. It was dark. They could hear the swooshing of the fluids that protected them, and most importantly, they could hear your heartbeat. So, when they are born, are we supposed to expect them to just be ok with being shoved into a bassinet by themselves in a cold, bright, silent room? How would you feel about your environment being suddenly changed? I’m sure it would take you a bit to acclimate if you were suddenly uprooted from your warm, beach chair in Florida and shoved into the snow in Antarctica, right?

We can’t expect them to do that either.

The fourth trimester is time for your little one to adjust to the outside world, while still feeling safe. The world is a loud, bright, cold place and being held on your warm chest where they can hear the heartbeat that has been music to their ears for the past 3 trimesters is where they feel that. I know it can be frustrating, believe me. I have to remind myself daily as to why they feel they need to be held all the time. Just remember that they are only this small for a very tiny amount of time. It may seem like the days are long because all you have done is feed, hold, and change your baby, but before you know it they will be one and won’t want your snuggles as much.

So hold your baby close. Sit on the couch with a bottle of water, snacks and a good book or TV show and soak in those cuddles. Smell the sweet newborn scent. Let those tiny fingers wrap themselves around yours. Let their cheek rest against your chest so they can listen to your heart. Try not to let the household chores stress you out. (If you are like me, and can’t let the house be put on hold, try baby wearing.) Let them be held close to you, while you do your daily tasks. Don’t compromise their needs for your wants.

The house really can wait.

They need you.

He needs me.

I will miss these days, just like I miss them with my now two year old. It feels like just yesterday she was attached to me as I complained to my friends that I couldn’t get anything done. I miss it. So for now, I will soak baby boy’s cuddles up. Let them take me over. I don’t want to miss it. Don’t miss these moments with yours.

How Anna and Rich’s Happily Ever After Led Them To Your Milk Shoppe

How Anna and Rich’s Happily Ever After Led Them To Your Milk Shoppe

When Your Milk Shoppe was gearing up to work with the lovely parents to be, Anna and Rich, we couldn’t help but to wonder: what is their love story leading them to baby, and could we share it??!! We are tickled to be virtually supporting this beautiful minimalist couple residing in Brighton, England and feel so lucky to share their journey with you!

 Anna’s Fairytale…

She was living in paradise – Koh Samui, Thailand (aka a postcard) – loving every moment of her solo life which entailed practicing and teaching yoga all day, dancing all night, indulging in tropical fruits, guided meditations, great DJs, sunset boat rides, beachy moonrises… she didn’t think it could get any better.

It did…when the manager of a fancy villa nearby asked if she’d teach private lessons to a VIP client, she declined as she was busy concluding a yoga teacher training. But she said, “Pleasssse!” and she soon found herself motor biking into the jungle at 6:00 am to share yoga. After savasasa, in a hurry to make it to her next class, whilst running down the gigantic marble staircase, simultaneously pulling the rubber band out of her hair as to be ready at the bottom to whip my helmet on, jump on the bike and go – a tribe of butterflies dive-bombed her head which sent her stumbling down the steps in a mess of wings and locks. Anna’s fall was halted when she crashed directly into a suntanned VIP strength and conditioning coach. Wind knocked out of her, gentle hands firmly steadying her shoulders, she gazed up into the kind sparkling eyes of her soulmate.

Morning after morning, Anna got to see him entering the villa on her way out… Rich showed up for both of her public yoga classes that week. After the second session, he stayed to “discuss the client,” so she invited him for vegan ice-cream, and over those frozen banana infusions his depth was illuminated and their connection ignited. A month together in Thailand – a lifetime worth of joy and sadness, glitter and costumes, deepening their love and planning their future.

Rich was to go to Bhutan with the team, Anna was heading to the US for the birth of her nephew – he joined her there, and met her family… Three months later they were back in Thailand for more work and adventure. Five months in and they were engaged in England. Seven months of love was celebrated at Burning Man. Ten months after joining forces they married in Anna’s hometown. And for their first wedding anniversary, they are preparing to welcome their baby girl. Happily ever after…

 

A Love Letter to My Middle Son

A Love Letter to My Middle Son

You may remember Alison of  DippyEggPlease from her first post with us about Surviving Solo Parenting. She’s back again to share a love letter to her middle son. <Cue the swoons and heart swells.>

Moms of 3 (or more!) — we hope this hits home for you!

XO,
Your Milk Shoppe

Dearest Milo:

You are my beautiful middle boy. 4 years old, changing before my eyes from a chubby little toddler into a lean almost-ready-for-school boy. All big brown eyes, ridiculously long eyelashes, floppy blonde hair, cheeky grin and dimples. I catch sight of you sometimes and you take my breath away. If you take a nap on the settee in the daytime, I love to watch you sleep. I can’t believe that something so gorgeous and perfect came from me and your Daddy.

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You are strong willed, fiercely independent to the point of stubbornness, have an unquenchable need to run and jump and shout and wrestle, and never want to sit still. A typical boy in so many ways, always happy when you’ve got a ball at your feet, a stick in your hand, or a superhero costume on.

When we told people that your younger brother was on the way, many of our friends and family commented that you were always destined to be a middle child. The general consensus tells us that middle children are troublesome and awkward little sods. Resentful of their older sibling who has done everything first and is normally the golden child, and jealous of their younger sibling who will always be the baby of the family. Often rebellious, trying to catch their parents’ attention by doing something naughty or dangerous. And at the time, when you were just over 3, you were all of those things. In bucketloads.

People would smile and nod, knowingly, when they saw me dragging you along the pavement, wailing because I wouldn’t let you run into the road, with your older brother in tow and my pregnant belly on show. Aaah, the naughty middle child they’d think. He’ll be the one who turns his Mum’s hair grey and keeps her awake at night.

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Well, my darling boy, in lots of ways they were right. You are a non-stop bundle of energy and enthusiasm. Verging from sweet and extremely loving to a raging teary mess and back again in the blink of an eye, yours is the name that I shout in frustration most often, head in hands, and for this I am sorry.

I’m sorry that you weren’t the first person I loved unconditionally – your big brother took that prize. I’m sorry that you’ve never had all of my undivided attention, coming second in line as you did. And you won’t be the last person to make me cry when you say, “love you mama” for the first time. That honour will go to your baby brother.

I’m sorry that your baby brother pushes you away when you cuddle me because he wants me all to himself, although you graciously say, “it’s ok because he doesn’t understand you’re my Mummy too”, which makes me weep a little inside. How can you be so understanding, patient and grown up already, when I can remember you being a toddler like your brother is now.

I’m sorry that you won’t be the first one to start school, to learn to ride your bike and to swim. Big brother gets all that stuff. Doesn’t mean we won’t cheer you on like we did him though, and praise every achievement, however small, in the way that you applaud your baby brother’s first wobbly steps, arms outstretched to you, his beloved “Ma”.

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I’m sorry that you’ll always be compared to your big brother. All those milestones, recorded and compared for ever more. First steps, first words, first time you slept through the night. It’s just your luck that your big brother is a brain on legs and could read when he was three. You aren’t interested in reading yet and that’s fine, but something tells me you’ll flourish at school and be reading in no time, once you set your mind to it. Plus you are a much better footballer and can run faster than your big brother already, and he’s 9.

But being a middle child has given you so much too. You are confident and outgoing, self assured and sure of yourself. You don’t follow the pack, but make up your own rules and run with them, not caring whether anyone else wants to join you. Superhero costumes at 6am? Yup, that’s how things work in your World. You are a great negotiator, a skill you’ve developed in many bargaining episodes with your big brother over Lego figures, or with me over how many bites of your dinner constitutes enough. And you are smart enough to know because I’ve got your brothers to contend with too, just how far to push things. And push things you do!

Desperate to be a ‘big boy’, you hero worship your big brother, learn so much from him and love to be involved in his games, tagging along with him and his mates whenever you get the chance. But you also love to play with your baby brother, spending hours showing him how to build a tower and drive cars on your car mat, and are fiercely protective of him at toddler group, so much so that you’ll tell off any other children who come too close to ‘your baby’.

In many ways you seem so much older than some of your peers who aren’t middle children. You are excited to start school, and not at all phased by any of it. Going to school will cement your place as a big boy in the family, in your eyes. You excel in your swimming and football lessons, listening to your coaches and following their directions, in a way that you never do at home. You are so, so proud when you are awarded player of the week, or come home with another swimming level passed and a badge to prove it.  And the first person that you want to tell is your big brother, as it is his praise and admiration that makes your little chest swell with pride, and a tear come to my eye.

So, for not being my first or my last love, I’m sorry. But you, my precious middle boy, will always be right there in the very middle of my heart. Life is never dull with you around, and your cheeky grin can brighten even the darkest of days, especially when accompanied with your well timed favourite phrase, “guess what Mum…I love you”. For all your exasperating, maddening, hair tearing out behaviour, I wouldn’t change you, or your place in the middle of our family, for the whole World.

Love, Mum x

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About Alison:

Alison is a UK based (via a year living the expat life in Chicago), sleep deprived Mum of 3 boys, 9, 4 and 1 who blogs about food, nutrition and Mum stuff. She is passionate about feeding her always hungry boys with as much home-cooked healthy food as possible. 9 out of 10 times, when she asks the kids what they want for tea, they say “dippy egg, please”, hence Alison’s blog name, ‘dippyeggplease’

She has a Diploma in Nutrition with a special interest in children’s nutrition, but putting theory into practice isn’t always easy when you are tired from feeding the baby all night, your 4 year old is demanding Coco Pops for dinner, and your 9 year old vegetarian son has decided he has an aversion to most vegetables.

Her loves, apart from her boys and partner, are travelling (this year the family have visited Spain and Germany, and have trips to Switzerland and France planned), working out early in the morning before the madness of the day starts, and relaxing with friends and plenty of wine!

Follow Alison: dippyeggplease on Instagram, on Facebook and Twitter

Affordable and Eco-friendly Baby Items for Your Registry

Affordable and Eco-friendly Baby Items for Your Registry

When most parents hear “Organic”, they often think eco-friendly and see Dollar Signs… but choosing everything Organic is not the only way to have an eco-friendly nursery. The best way to truly “go green” is to simply do more with less. Choosing quality products that will last, and that are multi-purpose, will lessen your overall footprint and decrease the sheer amount of “stuff” you have to deal with in your home. Knowing the materials your products are made from is an important secondary step. One of our top priorities as Baby Planners is to pair new parents with the items that make the most sense for their lifestyle. Finding items you’ll love that can grow with your family is always our number one goal!

We LOVE working with Gugu Guru every chance we get… the ladies of this amazing brand share in these similar philosophies. We recently worked on a client registry together and these were some of our top eco- and budget- friendly picks for a travel-loving, small town mama-to-be!

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Stroller/Carseat Combo: Britax B-Agile or Britax B-Agile and B-Safe Travel System.

You can find this combo for roughly $375-400, which is a steal!  This stroller is super lightweight, folds down very easily (also with one hand), and features a large canopy for sun protection (so it’s good for a lot of outdoor use) and a generous storage basket. Please note, it doesn’t give you the option to rear-face your child (unless using the car seat), so your baby will always have to face forward when using the stroller seat. The B-Agile is compatible with the Britax B-Safe car seats (and you can save nicely by buying the two together as a travel system set), as well as Chicco, Peg Perego, and some Graco Snugride car seats using an adapter.

Organic Crib Mattress: Naturepedic Lightweight Organic Cotton Classic 2-stage crib mattress. $289.

This mattress is slightly more expensive than your standard mattress, but worth the investment as it grows with the child and can be used for every crib sleeper in your family to come. Baby will (eventually!) sleep 12-15 hours a day in his/her crib; making sure the sleeping environment is safe and healthy is one of the most important aspects of a nursery. There is a firm side for infant, and a softer side for toddler comfort. At only 10-12 lbs, this makes crib sheet changes quick and easy for mom and dad, too!

Diaper Pail: Ubbi Diaper Pail. $69. 

This diaper pail not only keeps in the lovely diaper smell, but also saves you money as you only use standard 13-gallon trash bags as a liner… no brand specific bags needed here. This eco-friendly pail is made of steel and comes in several different colors to perfectly match your babe’s nursery.

Bathtub: Puj Tub. $45.

BPA, PVC, and Phthalate free, the flaps of this foam tub fold to fit right into the sink. Great for travel as it lays flat and can fit in your suitcase, or hang flat to dry.

Swaddle blankets: Aden + Anais 100% Organic Cotton Muslin blankets. 2-packs start at $28.50.

These blankets will be EVERYTHING to you from birth and beyond. The perfect swaddling blanket, you can also use as a breastfeeding cover or a light layer during walks. You will use these well into toddlerhood and beyond. Highly recommend this as a must-have on every registry!

Play yard/portable crib: Guava Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard. $189. 

This portable crib and playard combo has breathable mesh sides that unzip for even more fun for your kiddo as he/she gets older. It is non-toxic and is free of PVC, lead, and flame retardants, and is certified to the GreenGuard Gold standard. (The only travel crib in the world to have received this certification!)

 

Disposable diapers: Honest Company

Starting at $79.99 per month + free shipping and option to auto ship and make changes to monthly order, you can get an extra 50% off of your first order. Hypoallergenic diaper with sustainable material that is super-absorbent, the core is made of fluff pulp harvested from sustainably managed forests. Well thought out diaper that prevents most leakage and blowouts. Diapers are made without chlorine or bleach processing, without latex, synthetic fragrances or lotions. Not to mention, the prints are to die for!

Carriers: Our best recommendation for choosing a carrier is to join a Babywearing International group and attend a meeting if there is one in your area. The variety of wraps they have in their library is impressive and you will have a chance to try on styles to determine your favorite. Some even have the choice of renting before you buy, and you can get safe babywearing tips and adjustments once you have baby in tow. Some of our favorite carrers: Ergo 360, Tula Free to Grow, Solly Wrap, and Baby K’Tan Organic wrap. (Note: the K’Tan comes in different sizes.)

This is the Solly Baby Wrap in Natural & Grey Stripe.

 

Cultivating a Playful Home – Tips from Playful by Design

Cultivating a Playful Home – Tips from Playful by Design

You know that little Elf on The Shelf or my personal favorite alternative, The Kindness Elves? Part of the phenomenon of these little characters is because it helps the parents play and dive into the holiday spirit. But I want to encourage you to think about how you can cultivate this playful home atmosphere year round.

Children have a way of bringing us parents back to a more playful nature. Their true delight in the squishy feel of play dough or their fascination with how the tree branches blow in the wind allow us to channel our inner child. But sometimes, in the mix of work, laundry, cooking, finances and the less than glamorous aspects of adult life, we lose this playful attitude towards life. But, having a home full of play is so important for a child’s creativity and stress relief. So how do you cultivate a playful home?

Invitations to Play are simple little set ups with toys that you can surprise your children. This is one of my favorite parts of being a mom. When my little one falls asleep for a nap, I sneak around her room and set up little play situation with her baby dolls. Some days they may be building with blocks, other times they may be reading books. Sometimes her dinosaur figurines are holding paintbrushes for an invitation to paint upon waking up. Maybe you have a car lover? Grab a roll of painters tape and make a road down the hallway and have the cars waiting for him to drive down that fantasy lane. Have an animal lover? Take the plastic dog toy and rub a bit of dirt on it and place it next to a washcloth and bowl of water for a dog washing station. These little Invitations to Play only take about two minutes to set up but the absolute joy on her face when she wakes to find her stuffed animal wearing sunglasses is priceless.

Children are good at play. By simply following your child’s lead, you are able to see genuine learning happen. So when your child asks you to play with them, agree and be the second-in-command. My daughter had her baby dolls in our bedroom when she asked me to play with her. My original thought was to walk across the hallway to her room to play with them in her baby doll bed. Luckily for both of us, she had something far better planned.

She immediately took my husband’s shoe and pushed her dolls into them. I watched her little eyes twinkle with delight as she starting zooming them around. After sitting on the floor and watching her for about 30 seconds, I tucked a doll in his other shoe and we drove around the room. After about two minutes of driving our shoe cars, she started pushing her shoe to her room. I zoomed behind her. Turns out, her baby dolls wanted to drive to the zoo so she asked for her animal train set out. I pulled it out and the cars turned into strollers as they looked at the animals. I simply was there as company, not the play director.

So as summer comes to a close and we welcome fall into our days, I challenge you to take some steps into cultivating a playful home.

About the Author:

Natasha, 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!

Financially Planning for Baby – Q&A with Parent Financial

Financially Planning for Baby – Q&A with Parent Financial

In a few words, tell us who is Parent Financial?

Parent Financial is a financial planning firm that believes every family should have a financial plan. To carry out that mission we have a team of advisors that specialize in working with moms and dads to navigate their financial questions and concerns.

 

How long has Parent Financial been operating?

We were founded in Charlotte in 2011.

 

What cities are you currently located in?

We have advisors in Charlotte, NC; Cleveland, OH; Greenville and Charleston, SC; and Knoxville, Nashville, TN. We are looking to add advisors in Atlanta and Boston by the end of 2018.

 

Why do expectant parents need your services?

Becoming a parent so much of the focus is on preparing your life for your newborn child. Using great resources like Your Milk Shoppe to prepare the nursery and find nanny help there are countless decisions and changes to make. We have found that far too often parents don’t take the time to make just as many updates to their financial life as they become parents. Moms and dads need to review their work benefits, update their insurance and make financial changes to their lives that are just as important as getting a new car seat. In addition to all of the important work our team does with expecting parents, our firm works with moms and dads that have children of all ages all the way up to empty nester parents who are in their 70’s.

 

We noticed that PF offers three classes: Expecting Parent Seminar, College Seminar and Retirement/Investment Seminar. Would you mind breaking down the focal points of each class and why they are so helpful?

The Expecting Parent Seminar is a step by step class designed to help expecting and new parents understand the key items to make sure they have reviewed and updated as they start or grow their family. Our College Seminar helps parents understand just how complex saving for college is these days. We help them learn about the different ways to save and how to maximize opportunities to qualify for financial aid. The Retirement Seminar is designed to help parents get a clear picture of their long-term goals and thus be able to make informed decisions today about how to navigate the changing markets and handling tax rates in the future. We’ve designed the classes to work as a stepping stone where each class provides you with the information needed to get you in a position to take the next one.

 

What is the difference between “Foundation Planning” and “Comprehensive Family Planning”?

We wanted to make sure that every family had access to a professional who could help them get their financial life in order so for that reason we do not have account minimums or fees to start our Foundational Planning process. Over 3 meetings we help parents get clarity and work to make sure they can check off that they have the proper amount in an emergency fund, updated their budget, have a will in place, review and update their home and auto insurance, and checked to see that their life and long term disability policies are updated now that they are parents. We work with each family to check each one of these categories off the list and that they truly have a strong financial foundation before moving on to any other planning topics. Once those are all completed the couples that want to continue working with us will then move into Comprehensive Planning. Moving into this next phase is the first time there is a fee associated with working with Parent Financial. Since all of the basics of the financial plan are in place, we then help couples to develop a clear strategy for saving for college, building their retirement strategy and developing an overall investment plan for their short term and long term financial goals. We then work with each couple through quarterly meetings and annual reviews to make sure we continue updating and monitoring the plan to keep the family on track.

 

We love your Community page; it is full of so many groups focused on moms and groups providing such positivity in their lives. What made you think to create these partnerships?

In working with parents the goal wasn’t just to provide great financial help. We wanted to become an overall resource for parents so if they needed to find a great place for their children to take swim classes we can help them know where to go. Parent Financial wants to be different in that we create lasting partnerships with other companies we believe have just as strong of a desire to help moms and dads as we do.

 

Once new parents find out that they are expecting, when is the right time for them to take your Expecting Parent class?

I would always recommend that they take a class as soon as possible. It gives them more time to understand and make updates prior to the baby being born. With that being said we have even had parents with 1 year old children who missed the class come back and take it and found it to be just as helpful. The goal is to help parents learn this important information so the key is that they take the class even if they aren’t expecting any more!

 

What is the easiest way to sign up for your classes? What days and times are they normally offered?

Go to parent-financial.com and click on the “Classes” link. Most classes are offered on Saturdays at 10am, but depending on your location there are also weeknight classes offered.

 

We ask all of our features these two questions: What is your why? & What is your daily mantra in life?

Our founder Court Creeden started Parent Financial after having a good friend pass away and another friend get diagnosed with cancer who were both in their late 20’s. After seeing the impact on their lives Court starting asking more and more people if they would be prepared for similar life events. Time and time again the answer was “I don’t know”, or “I don’t think so”. The people answering were smart, they wanted to make good decisions, they just didn’t know where to go for help. That led him to founding Parent Financial. Our why is simple. At Parent Financial we believe that every family should have a financial plan. Financial planning isn’t something just for the top 1%, but that every mom and dad needs to sit down with someone that can help them plan for what truly matters most, their family. For that reason, we have a team of passionate advisors who want to be the resource to help parents learn about what they have, so they can make educated decisions about where they want to go in life.

Our daily mantra is “I am going to help one family today”. If every one of our advisors does that each and every day we can truly change the lives of thousands of families in cities all across the country.

Securities, investment advisory, and financial planning services offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) 4350 Congress St, Suite 300, Charlotte, NC 28209 (704-557-9600). Parent Financial is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies. CRN201907-214860

To lean more about Parent Financial, visit their website or follow them on Facebook!

Tips and Tricks to be your Best at the Breast

Tips and Tricks to be your Best at the Breast

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, we wanted to share a few tricks and tips, as well as a couple of our favorite must-have items, to help you form the very best breastfeeding relationship possible with your little one.

 If it hurts, something isn’t right.

If it hurts, something isn’t right. Sore nipples is one thing, but pain is something entirely different. If you’re in pain, call a lactation consultant. A good latch is the gatekeeper to breastfeeding success, and most issues can be resolved with early intervention. Oftentimes, you can find a lactation consultant who is also a postpartum doula, and having that extra layer of support AND eyes only out for you during those first few weeks at home is a very good thing. They can help lead you to postpartum and breastfeeding support groups, too. Plus, depending on your insurance coverage, you might be able to submit for reimbursement. So many pros, and not a lot of cons in exploring this option. If you need a referral in your area, just ask us! (Huge shout out to Lisa Zimmermann with Maternal Child Connections in Chicago, thank you for being a lifeline for Kimmie & Quinn!)

Practice makes perfect.

Some mamas are all good to whip out the ladies anywhere, without fear of who may get a little peep show. If that’s you, hooray, and thank you for your hand at normalizing breastfeeding for all of us! But for you mamas who are a little more modest, take a trial run at home. Get dressed in your nursing gear and take those duds for a spin! Practice your nursing holds as if you were in public, and if you have boob-slippage, at least it’s in your living room. Once you get the hang of it, the more confident you will feel, and the more you’ll want to tackle those first few breastfeeds out and about… and before you know it, you’ll be a public breastfeeding pro!

Breast pumps.

Two ideas on how you can get a pump without wasting the space on your registry!

Free option: You can typically get a breast pump covered by insurance through different third party distributors. Our favorite provider is Ashland Health. They are AH-MAZING and take virtually all of the work out of the process for you. Once you contact, they can obtain the prescription from your OB, determine your device options for you to choose from, and submit everything on the back end for you. Once the order is submitted, it’s delivered to you within days. They offer text and email support, which is SO helpful for busy moms and moms-to-be on the go. They also have a wonderful prenatal and postpartum email outreach campaign and support for breastfeeding mamas. Just wonderful all around.

Rental option: If you plan to exclusively pump or just want the BEST of the best and want to make the most of your time at the pump, you might want to consider renting a hospital grade pump for a few months. Check with your OB and insurance provider — if you can obtain a prescription, it could be covered by insurance in some cases. Most hospitals have this option, as well as most big box retailers.

Lastly, wardrobe staples.

Nursing clothes tend to be a little pricier, but you can absolutely get away with just a few staples and work your regular wardrobe around it. (Kind of like maternity, amirite??) Layering is the name of the game. For shirts, think about having a top and a bottom layer. Pull up the top layer for a little extra coverage, while the bottom layer pulls down under the breast and shields your tummy.

Must-haves:

Bras: You will without a doubt need a good nursing bra, or two. Find a maternity boutique or department store in your area and have a proper fitting as your cup size, and potentially your band length, will have most likely changed since pre-pregnancy days. Third Love and Cake are both great brands.

Tanks: Layering tanks will be your very best friend. H&M and Old Navy both have a great nursing line for mamas on a budget.

Sleepwear: Waking up in a milk soaked tee shirt sucks. And let’s face it, feeling sexy postpartum is probably the furthest thing from your brain. BUT, this staple is two-fold. Grab yourself a cute little nursing nightie with a built-in structured top, slip in a breast pad, and — boom — you’re waking up dry. If you can find one that also makes you feel pretty? Double boom.

Cover: There are different styles of covers, explore to see what feels right for you. Milk Snob and Copper Pearl make covers that also act as a car seat cover (win/win) in a million adorable patterns. Or check out fun scarves that you can absolutely wear as a regular scarf, post-breastfeeding. We are all about multi-purpose items, both of these styles hit that mark!

Please share some of your favorite gear and tricks with us, we’d love to hear them!

Happy Breastfeeding!

Cheers,

Your Milk Shoppe

The Unfair Judgement of Working Moms

The Unfair Judgement of Working Moms

Working moms are some of the most compassionate, helpful and non-judgmental people. They are doing their best, but barely keeping their head above water, so they know how important it is to give grace. And lots of it.

We each have different talents, personalities and skills. Some women are called to give their talents inside the home, and some are called to give theirs both inside and outside the home. Some work out of financial necessity. All are valid reasons in which there should be no judgement.

In this post, I’m sharing my own perspective about the challenges that make working outside the home harder than it should be.

Society gives women conflicting expectations once they become mothers.

We are told to invest in an education and develop skills that will be lucrative when we get into the workforce. Once we are in the workforce, we are expected to have a strong work ethic and quickly establish a career path.

Once we have a child, however, the expectation is immediately different. We are told to put our wants and desires aside for the baby, and give 100% of ourselves to being a mom. Of course we do this; we love our child more than anything in the world. But after a while, we lose ourselves and feel ashamed to even talk about it.

What everyone needs to know is that even after having a child, our core identity is still the same. We still have personal goals. We are still ambitious. We are just trying to figure out how it all fits together.  And we need encouragement in that decision making process.

The traditional workplace model isn’t working.

We have technology that connects us 24/7. The days of physically being “in seat” at the office are changing. There should be more employers that offer part-time or work-from-home positions, as well as offer flexible hours. Once this begins to take off, companies will regain the enormous talent base they’ve lost.

Also, working moms need managers that understand we are juggling two full-time jobs. We may need to take a 2 hour lunch to run errands, but we will make up for it. We might not have every detail of a project committed to memory, but we have it written down. We would like to take on additional responsibilities (because we know we would slay them) but we have to refrain ourselves because we know quality is better than quantity.

We are doing everything we can to maximize our time at work while also arranging childcare, sick kids, appointments, school events, field trips, etc. We miss a lot due to work. We only ask for your understanding.

Pressure from our peers and the generations of moms before us.

It is a struggle to get from point A to point B for working moms. We often cannot make class parties or make cute lunches for our kids everyday, although we would love to. We need scheduling flexibility from the schools and from other parents. We can drop off party supplies before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. We can make PTO meetings if they were at night and not during the day. We can do Saturdays. But we cannot do Tuesdays at 10 a.m.

The generations of moms before us often pass along the guilt they received from their own mothers for working outside the home. Our mothers had it worse than we did. Remember the working girl boom of the 80’s? Can you imagine the conversations with their moms?

Guilt.

This could either be self-imposed or a manifestation of all the above. Either way, its up to us to cut ourselves some slack. No one else is going to do it for us. Try to turn down the volume of guilt and start choosing joy instead. Believe in yourself and be content with what you are doing. Our kids deserve happy moms.

I consider myself fortunate that I can personally manage my three kids schedules full-time, take them to all appointments, play dates, and pick them up from school. Many would love to do this, but do not have that option.

Lets be kinder to working moms, extend flexibility when possible, and grace always.

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About the Author:
Carli Best, The Best Kind of Life

Hi, I’m Carli! Wife to Chris and mama to Baylor (7), Loxley (5) and Wells (1). I’m a former professional working mom turned stay at home mom and live in Birmingham, AL. I’m the author behind Best Kind of Life, a lifestyle blog that focuses on family, fashion and home. As a busy mom, I’m always thinking of ideas that will make life easier and more enjoyable. I show our real life, as it happens –  and focus on the beauty in each day.

Here are links to follow Carli! Best Kind of Life BlogFacebook, & Instagram!

Sensory Play, The Easy Way – Ideas from Natasha

Sensory Play, The Easy Way – Ideas from Natasha

Exposing your little one to sensory experiences can be some of the most rewarding moments as a parent. The absolute delight on their face as they trickle sand out of their hand or crunch fall leaves under their feet can just send a thrill through my body. But, we can’t always jump in the car and head to the beach or jump on a leaf pile. Sometimes, we want to sit in our living room with a cup of coffee and see that little excited face. While sensory bins don’t offer the genuine beauty of natural sensory experiences, they are a fun alternative. These bins offer opportunities to practice fine motor skills, they offer for open-ended play and conversation. When children play with a sensory bin, they are playing with different materials and textures that all blend together to create a learning experience.

Sensory bins are just as they sound, a bin or box of materials that encourages hands-on, open-ended play. They can be easily created and pulled out when you are itching for a simple, engaging activity.

I see creating sensory bins just like creating a ice cream at your favorite mix-in ice cream shop. You grab your utensils and bowls, choose a base, choose what added elements you want, decide if you want any fancy shmancy additions and your end result is a beautiful blend of your efforts.

I recommend clear shoe-box bins as the containers because they stack and store easily in the closet and are small enough that toddlers aren’t climbing in bin. (Yes, this is from personal experience!)  If multiple kids want to play in the same bin, the flatter Rubbermaid bins are a great option.

After you have your bins and utensils, it’s time to choose your base.

Base Options (Your “Ice cream”):
Rice
Dry pasta
Beans
Sand
Water Beads
Dirt

Shredded Paper

Cereal
Water

The base can remain in the bin for months. Dollar stores  (and Amazon Prime!) are great spots to get your bases.

After the base, choose your mix ins.

Mix in Options (Your “Chocolate Chips”:
Spoons
Cups
Ice cube trays
Popsicle holders
Paper muffin tins
Paper towel tubes

Cut up pool noodles

Pipe Cleaners
Sticks
Shells
Cotton balls
Craft Pom Poms
Animal figurines
Magnetic Alphabet letters

Truly, anything goes when it comes to mix ins. I try to encourage mixing, dumping and pouring so I almost always include some type of cup and bowl in the mix regardless of the base.

It’s fun to throw in some seasonal mix ins too:
American flags
Felt shaped pumpkins
Wax dipped leaves
Santa hats
Easter eggs

If you really want to go all out and get fancy, try:
Dying the pasta or rice with food coloring OR
Adding essential oils

Let your creative juices flow. These can be fun to make and offers hours of entertainment once they are put together.

Don’t forget to create a designated play area for the bins. I usually use a large beach towel or throw blanket. Then I can just scoop up the contents and dump it back in the bin for the next play time. This activity can get messy but even in our messiest of sensory bin activities, it takes less than 10 minutes to clean up – and they stack so nice and neatly in the closet!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember to watch your little one while engaging in this play because a lot of the materials are not independent play materials for kids under three. Enjoy!

 

About Natasha, 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!




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