Spring Cleaning with Essential Oils

Spring Cleaning with Essential Oils

By Taylor Elliott, Owner of Palmettos & Sunshine

Birds are chirping at all hours of the day but especially the morning. It’s a delightful sound to wake up to and I love watching my son run to the window to see if he can see our resident cardinal outside. Azaleas and other spring annuals are in full bloom, pollen counts are high, gentle rain showers are coming more frequently, and my personal favorite warmer weather and sunshine has arrived. It’s Spring!! And with that fresh bright direct sunlight, I can see the handprints on the windows and the dust on the blinds that I’ve let build up all Winter. Whoops.

It’s a time of year when a lot of us start to tackle some larger cleaning projects that we’ve been putting off. Whether it’s cleaning out garages, organizing pantries, starting a 30-day detox program, or finally getting to those dirty baseboards, Spring has almost become synonymous with cleaning. But what if in our efforts to make our homes cleaner and a respite for ourselves, friends, and family, we are actually inflicting more harm than doing good?

 Dangers of Typical Household Cleaners

Here is the quick low-down:

  • On average, most people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, most homes have air pollution 2 to 5 times greater than the air outside – mostly due to the toxic chemicals in household cleaners. So while we may think we are avoiding toxins by spending time indoors, our efforts are backfiring.
  • The Environmental Working Group warns that many cleaners are pollutants that contribute to smog, reduce the quality of drinking water, and are toxic to animals. When I stop to think about it, it seems pretty strange that I should need to wear a mask, or in the case of cleaning an oven even leave the house, while using a typical household cleaning item – particularly since I will be showering and eating in those same places later in the day!
  • Unfortunately, children often experience these harmful chemicals in higher doses than adults. They are more vulnerable to chemical exposure particularly during fetal developmental stages. In addition, younger children have higher respiratory rates than adults, therefore they absorb more air contaminants per units of weight

But take heart! Seriously, we have options now! There are so many fragrance-free and more organic or natural options readily available. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or scary task to get that stuff out of your home. Take things one item at a time if you need and switch to safer brands. Better yet, start making your own using essential oils. I promise, it’s much easier than it seems and it is generally more cost effective.

How are Essential Oils Effective Cleaning Agents?

Let’s start with the basics, what are essential oils and how are the effective in cleaning my home?

Essential oils are naturally occurring volatile aromatic compounds found in various parts of plants (seeds, flowers, roots, bark, and others). These compounds serve protective, regenerative, and reproductive purposes vital for the plants survival. They help protect the plants, participate in plant pollination, and provide plants their distinctive aromas. Essential oils are highly concentrated when distilled for purity, potency, and efficacy.

Each oil can have hundreds of individual constituents that provide specific aromas and benefits and embody protective properties, allowing them to be used to support human emotional, mental, and physical healing. Each constituent has its own distinct structure (shape, size, arrangement of chemical bonds is unique). The different constituents in an essential oil determine both the oil’s aroma and the benefits it offers. It is these chemical constituents that give certain essential oils powerful disinfecting and cleansing properties. For example, essential oils that have monoterpene alcohols as a part of their make-up are known to be antimicrobial, cleansing, gentle, and mild (basic favorites here are lavender, melaleuca/tea tree, and frankincense).

In short: Organic chemical constituents that occur naturally in nature are what manufactured cleaning agents are created in the lab to replicate.

Basic Cleaning with Essential Oil DIY Recipes

Thanks for reading this far everyone! Obviously there is a lot more information about typical household cleaners and chemical constituents of essential oils but I imagine a lot of you are saying. . . gracious. . . get to the recipes already. I wanted to make sure that I provided a bit of background that hopefully lends some insight into why I’ve switched to essential oils in our household.

Ingredients to have on-hand

  • Baking Soda – eliminates and absorbs odor. Use to clean countertops, sinks, and tubs.
  • White Vinegar – contains natural antifungal and antibacterial properties. Cuts grease and dissolves mineral deposits
  • Castile Soap – lifts dirt, cuts grease, eliminates tough stains.
  • Salt – effective scouring agent. Pour salt mixed with hot water down the kitchen sink to deodorize and keep grease from building up.
  • Fractionated Coconut Oil or Olive Oil – natural cleaner and polisher

Best Essential Oils for Cleaning

  • Arborvitae – Antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, stimulant
    • Repel bugs and insects and kill airborne pathogens
  • Lemon – Antiseptic, antioxidant, antibacterial, disinfectant, degreaser
    • Eliminate airborne odors, polish wood furniture, remove grease/residue
  • Lime – Antiseptic, antioxidant, antibacterial, tonic, detoxifier, disinfectant
    • support healthy immune function, purify skin/hair, remove grease spots
  • Melaleuca – Antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-parasitic, antiviral, analgesic, decongestant
    • Clean & disinfect wounds, protect against environmental threats, freshen/purify air
  • Juniper Berry -Detoxifier, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, anti-parasitic
    • Cleanse and purify air with calming/grounding effect
  • Wild Orange – Energizing, sedative, anti-carcinoma, carminative, antiseptic
    • Cleanse kitchen and bathroom surfaces, purify air with revitalizing aroma, polish furniture
  • Peppermint – Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, expectorant, antispasmodic
    • Freshen breath and kill bacteria, repel bugs and insects, stay alert
  • Purify Cleansing Blend – Lemon, Lime, Fir, Pine, Citronella, Melaleuca, Cilantro
    • Kill germs and microbes on surfaces or in air, eliminate odors
  • OnGuard Protective Blend- Wild Orange, Clove, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Rosemary
    • Kill germs and airborne pathogens, immune booster, antiseptic cleaner

Favorite and Most-Used Recipes

The Best All Purpose Lemon Cleaner

2 cups water

1 ½ cups vinegar

1 tsp castile soap

10 drops Lemon

5 drops Melaleuca

10 drops OnGuard

Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a glass container and mix well. Spray on the surface you’d like to clean and wipe off with cloth. Ideal uses: shine stainless steel, remove grime from microwaves, freshen the garbage disposal, deep clean appliances like washing machine or refrigerator. Shake well before each use.  NOTE: You can also use OnGuard Cleaner Concentrate and water.

Hand Soap

2 tbsp. unscented castile soap

1 tbsp. fractionated coconut oil

10 drops essential oil (like OnGuard, Lemon, Wild Orange, or Bergamot)


Instructions: Pour soap and fractionated coconut oil in bottle, add essential oils, slowly add water until full leaving room for pump.

Citrus Dish Soap

2 cups castile soap

20 drops Lime

20 drops Lemon

6 drops Citrus Bliss

Instructions: Fill large glass bottle with soap, add essential oils, shake before each use.

Fabric Softener

1 64 oz. bag Epsom Salt

40 drops Lavender

20 drops Lemon

30 drops Melaleuca

Instructions: Pour salt into a large glass container with lid, add EOS and stir to combine. Use ½ cup for medium to large loads in wash cycle.

Liquid Laundry Detergent

1 cup castile soap

1 cup baking soda

1/3 cup coarse salt

7L hot water

20 drops dōTERRA EOs

Instructions: Whisk together in large bucket and portion into containers as needed. Shake before each use.

Disinfecting Toilet Bowl Cleaner

10 drops Melaleuca

15 drop Eucalyptus

¼ cup white vinegar

½ cup baking soda

Instructions: Add ingredients directly into the bowl and scrub as the vinegar and baking soda react. If needed, let sit for an hour and then scrub.

Tub & Shower Cleaning Gel

1 cup vinegar

½ cup unscented castile soap

10 drops Lemon

Instructions: Combine ingredients in squeeze bottle and shake well. Squeeze on desired area, scrub and let sit for 2 hours. Rinse.

Soft Scrub Bathroom Cleaner

¾ rounded cup baking soda

¼ cup unscented liquid castile soap

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon vinegar

5–10 drops Lemon oil

Instructions: In bowl, combine baking soda and castile soap. Add water and stir. Add vinegar and essential oil. The consistency should be a soft paste. Store in airtight container. Add ingredients directly to partially drained bowl. As it reacts, scrub toilet.

Garbage Disposal Refresher

2 cups baking soda

1 cup salt

½ cup water

⅓ cup unscented liquid castile soap

30 drops Lemon oil

Instructions: Combine baking soda and salt into a bowl. Add castile soap and essential oil to the mixture. Add water one tablespoon at a time while stirring with hands until it forms the consistency of damp sand. Added too much water? Not to fret, just add a bit more baking soda until the mixture sticks together some. Using a tablespoon measuring spoon, pack the mixture tightly and then place on parchment paper. Let it dry for 24 hours or until they are hard. Put into a glass jar and use the next time you do dishes! Just add 1-3 refreshers in the disposal when you turn it on.

Tips for Keeping It Clean

Once you’ve spent time and energy getting your house all spiffed up and are breathing in the bonus side benefits of essential oils (think a lighter, less anxious, uplifted mood dissipating throughout) you’re going to want to keep it that way! Here are a few ideas to keep in your routine.

  • Keep plants that naturally clean the air
    • Peace Lily, Eucalyptus, English Ivy, Boston Fern, Spider Plant
  • Take your shoes off.
    • Prevent the contaminants that you likely walked through (playgrounds, subways, public restrooms, sidewalks, gas stations) from getting past the door.
  • Use natural cleaners such as the recipes listed above
  • Vacuum Regularly – dust mites can hold on to bacteria and unpleasant smells.
  • Change your air filter at least every 3 months (and put in a drop of Wild Orange) to keep dust mites and bacteria away. Especially important if you have pets. Also consider running fans frequently and open windows when you can.
  • Replace toxic air fresheners & diffuse Essential Oils
    • Purify, OnGuard, Juniper Berry, Lemon, Lime, or Melaleuca (Tea Tree) all have purifying properties as well as immune boosting, calming, or uplifting side benefits.
    • Add a drop of essential oil to the inside of the toilet paper roll for a fresh scent with every spin
    • Add a drop of peppermint to the bowl when the bathroom smells grosser than it did earlier

Additional Resources

If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils and the myriad of ways they can assist in creating a healthier home and lifestyle, I’d love to hear from you! I’d be happy to discuss your needs and help you determine the products that serve you best. taylor@palmettosandsunshine.com

Palmettos & Sunshine

10 Ways to Spring Clean with Lemon

10 Day Essential Oil Cleaning Challenge

BONUS: In the month of May, starter kits like the Home Essentials or Natural Solutions Kit earns you free green cleaning and immune boosting powerhouses: On Guard Sanitizing Mist, On Guard Essential Oil, Whitening Toothpaste, and Wild Orange Essential Oil.

About the Author: Taylor Elliott, Owner Palmettos & Sunshine

Hi! I am Taylor Elliott, a native Floridian living in the upstate of South Carolina, an introvert on most days, a mom, sister, wife, friend, entrepreneur, and community member among other roles. I love basking in the sunlight, finding adventures near and far, and hanging out with my tribe. My previous careers have involved civil engineering, program management, business consulting, and account management. Now I spend my time teaching individuals and groups the power of essential oils, how to use them to transition from toxic household items, and growing an independent entrepreneurial team through business consulting.

It was never my intention to join dōTERRA® as a wellness advocate and begin to build a business but I believe that things and ideas only fall on people when they are ready to take on a new venture. My goals shifted in a manner that made me want to be a leader of a community that would support and build one another in our various endeavors and encourage each other to truly be our best selves.


MomBiz Spotlight: Q&A with Paula Hoss, Founder of CLN & DRTY

Q&A with Paula Hoss, Founder of CLN&DRTY


How was the CLN & DRTY brand born?

There were two distinct moments that brought CLN&DRTY into life…

The first moment was in 2014. My first daughter, Juniper, was just a few months old. It was summer, we were about to go on a walk, and I had sprayed a drug store sunscreen all over my body. I picked her up, and since she was teething, she immediately started chewing on my shoulder. At that moment, I realized that she was ingesting all of the chemicals that I had just sprayed on myself.

That evening, I searched how to make a natural sunscreen at home. I purchased all the supplies online: non-nano zinc oxide, shea butter, cocoa butter, beeswax, essential oils and I got to work. I ended up with a dozen containers of sunscreen and knowing that I wouldn’t go through that in a year, I posted on Facebook to see if anyone would want to purchase them and they sold out immediately.

The next year, I made a few more batches and sold through it again.

In Spring of 2016, I was pregnant with my second daughter, Rowan, and had to take an early maternity leave for health reasons. Friends were already asking for the sunscreen and since many of them were in different states and even in different countries, I realized that I had to find a way to take their payments and field their orders.

One evening, after Juniper went to bed, I sat down and just got to work. I created a logo, launched a quick website and took some product photos. The orders for the sunscreen started pouring in from my friends and family. Soon they were asking for other natural products: deodorants, body butters and facial skincare products.

Over the Summer of 2016, CLN&DRTY Natural Skincare started to boom as my belly grew. Rowan was born in August and it soon became clear that CLN&DRTY was on track to become a viable and even successful business.

On the day that I was supposed to return to work from my maternity leave, I went in and told my boss that I wasn’t going to return and instead was going to follow CLN&DRTY full force. My entire team applauded and supported me and I haven’t looked back since!


When did you realize the difference natural makes and why?

I struggled with painful, embarrassing, cystic acne for years. I had tried everything from drying lotions to harsh 3-step systems… from expensive prestige brands to pretty much anything I could find at the drug store and nothing really seemed to work.

Around the time I launched CLN&DRTY, I began experimenting with natural skincare formulation. Since we obviously don’t test on animals, I began testing the formulas on myself. The earliest trials were products with organic argan and rosehip oils, apple cider vinegar and witch hazel toners and aloe vera based moisturizers.

Slowly, my skin started improving. And, within just a few short months, it was completely clear. I felt like I had found an absolute miracle cure for something that had been just so embarrassing for years. I started sharing my story with my customers and they started seeing the same results!

That’s when our skincare products really took off, when people started spreading the word about our products.


What’s your go-to product you use every day? 

The first skincare product that we ever formulated, and my favorite to this day is the Luxury Anti-Aging Oil for Combination Skin. It’s so simple: organic argan oil, organic rosehip oil, tea tree oil and lavender oil. It’s a game changer as a daily moisturizer and can be used both day and night. You can even use it as a hair oil and a body moisturizer if you’re in a pinch. Our customers call it “liquid gold,” and I totally agree!


Do you have a simple miracle product/ingredient that you’ve discovered?

I’m just so amazed how a simple ingredient like a good quality tea tree oil can make a huge difference in the skin of someone who has been suffering with stubborn acne. Conventional products tend to use salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, which can work for some people, but can also be incredibly harsh and drying for others. And when you dry out oily skin, it tends to fight back and increase sebum production, therefore increasing acne. It’s vicious cycle.

It’s awesome how putting an oil, like tea tree, onto your skin (in a diluted form with other healthy carrier oils), can really mellow out your skin, help it relax and get back to normal.


Do you have advice for people who want to start using more natural products but might be daunted by the ingredient list on bottles?

Start small. Don’t believe a company that tells you to throw out everything in your medicine cabinet and start over with an elaborate skincare regimen.

If you run out of your moisturizer, find a natural one to replace it with. If you’re in the market for a new toner, research natural alternatives. Ask your friends who have similar skin types to you what they love and find unbiased reviews of that company. Don’t be afraid to contact the company and ask them questions! Start by buying one product from a trusted company and try it out with your existing skincare regimen. Go from there and see what works and what doesn’t.


Advice for keeping clear skin with a busy life and schedule?

Invest in high quality products that you love! Find products that you look forward to using at the end of the day and feel like you’re pampering and treating yourself rather than a chore. Also, keep the products simple. All you really need is a great cleanser, toner and moisturizer. If you can do those three steps twice a day, you’ll be golden.


How awesome and adorable is this mama?!? Learn more about Paula and get your hands on some CLN&DRTY products by following her along on Facebook, Instagram, or visit her website!

Benefits of Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

Q&A by Dr. April Lundy, D.C., Harmony Chiropractic Center in Roswell, GA


Is it safe to be adjusted while pregnant?
Yes! Chiropractic adjustments are specific and gentle. There are chiropractors that specialize in this area and achieve higher learning to better serve mothers. Webster certification is one way and it is
through the ICPA- International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. Finding someone with experience and knowledge is key when choosing your Chiropractor during pre and post-natal care. Not all providers are comfortable with adjusting during pregnancy nor do all understand what goes into caring for a mother during this time. Www.icpa4kids.orgwill lead you to a doctor that is in your area.


What can chiropractors help with? Isn’t pain and being uncomfortable a part of the process and normal?
Chiropractic can help with many common discomforts. Pain is not considered normal, but more of a signal from the body. A list of common problems that Chiropractic may help are listed below:

-Constant nausea and vomiting
-Shoulder pain
-Wrist pain/carpal tunnel
-Rib pain
-Round ligament pain
-Low back and pelvic pain
-Pubic symphysis dysfunction
-Numbness and tingling
-Posture and gait (the waddle)
-Baby positioning (breech, transverse, posterior)


How do adjustments work while pregnant?
Chiropractors who see pregnant women have special pillows that allow for the mother to lay face down. There are also adjustments that can be made to the table that allow for the comfort of the mother.


How can Chiropractic help with baby positioning?
The baby’s position is crucial to an optimal birth and through the Webster technique Chiropractors can help balance the pelvis, sacrum, and spine to allow for all the surrounding muscles and ligaments to relax, balance, and allow for optimal movement and positioning for baby. Not to mention, the mother is more comfortable when baby is in the best position.


What about post-partum care? How long should I wait?
Post-partum care is just as important as prenatal care. Getting your pelvis re-aligned after birth is AMAZING! Also, the changes you start to have in your upper back and neck are intense from holding and feeding the baby. If you have had a vaginal birth without complications, adjustments can be as early as when you leave the hospital. If you have a cesarean, then waiting about 4-6 weeks for a full body adjustment is best.


Why should I get my baby checked?
In my opinion, all babies need to be checked. Noticed I said “checked” there – not all babies need an adjustment. But most parents need guidance as to what to look for and when to bring baby in for their first checkup. Deliveries with forceps, caesarean, suction, long labors, and mal positioned babies need to be checked and possibly adjusted in most cases. The most common reasons are torticolis, plagiocephaly, ear infections, colic, reflux, constipation, difficult latching, and traumas. A good resource for more information again is the ICPA. They have many research articles to support adjustments and provide evidence-based research in support of family chiropractic care.


For more information from Harmony or Dr. April, please visit their website or follow along on Facebook!

About the Author:

Dr. April Lundy, D.C., Harmony Chiropractic, Roswell, GA

Dr. April obtained her Doctorate of Chiropractic in 2007 from Life University. She also holds a bachelor of science in Exercise Sports Science with a concentration in Sports Medicine from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is a fellow member of the American Pregnancy Association and the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. Dr. April is dedicated to promoting the body’s natural ability to heal itself if given the chance. Chiropractic is about healing better, not just feeling better. Exercise, nutrition, rest, spinal, mental and emotional health play an important role in achieving optimal well-being. Dr. April is married to Ryan Lundy and is a mother to Damian, Alexandra, and Victoria.




Introducing: Motherhood Collective

Introducing: Motherhood Collective

Your Milk Shoppe is beyond thrilled to share this little thing we’ve been working on for you mamas. Please meet our newest baby, Motherhood Collective!

Motherhood is tough. Rewarding and wonderful, all of those things — of course — but it’s really, REALLY tough. And honestly, somedays, most days, we don’t do ourselves any favors. Try as we might to NOT play the games… mom-guilt, doubt, the comparison game, what have you… we ALL fall victim from time to time. We compare ourselves, our kids, our lives… taking tallies. Well, we say to hell with all that.

This is a time when we should be clinging to each other for dear life, pumping each other up and celebrating each other’s wins, and commiserating over our fails. Whether you have fifteen kids or one, you work in your home or out of it, a few things are true about each and every one of us. We are mentally clocked into momming every hour of every single day. We are in a constant state of worrying if we’re doing all right by them — if we’re doing right by ourselves. We feel depleted by the end of most days, yet also more fulfilled than we ever have in our entire lives.

We get it.

The adage “it takes a village” is such a hallmark phrase because it’s true: IT DOES. No one can do this alone. Not even Gal Gadot, and she’s freakin’ WonderWoman.

So, how can we help? Consider us your village. Whether you’re a mom that is still on the hunt for her tribe, or one that is super seasoned and has wisdom to impart, you have a place in this village.

What can you expect from Motherhood Collective?

-Social events, like yoga brunch and Mom’s night out, (MOMosas, anyone??)

-Classes and workshops with specialists on topics to help make your parenting journey just a little bit easier. (Think Q&A’s with sleep consultants and behavioral specialists for those terrib… I mean terrific twos, and of course, parent prep workshops led by your favorite YMS mamas. :))

-Real-life, real-raw, mom-talk. Stories from you and from us about things like momming through IVF, learning your child has developmental differences, battling PPD and balancing multiples, and any and everything in between.

Overall, you can expect solidarity and support from this collective of women, both in your backyard and all over the country.

Our mission is to give you all of the tools in your toolbox that you need in order to be the best version of you. Empowering you with education, support and community, we aim to leave you better than we found you.

Welcome to Motherhood Collective, your sisterhood in motherhood. We’re glad you’re here. ❤



Mom Hack: Themed Bins

Mom Hack: Themed Bins

By: Natasha Grogan, Founder of Playful By Design

Themed bins are one of my all time favorite toy organization hacks. Since I tend to keep my toys to a minimum and only have select ones out at a time, I love having clear bins to organize our themed toys. It is super easy:

1- Collect all of the books that you have on the topic.

2- Collect toys that you have related to that topic.

3- Print out coloring pages on the theme online.

What do you get in return? A wonderful curated bin that fills hours of fun. As an educator, I believe in project-based learning but my daughter is only two, so we do not do formal learning projects yet. Instead, I create themed “Learning Bins” for her. These are simply bins that have one main theme and contain all of the toys, puzzles and books that we have on that theme. This approach offers her to explore and learn through play and literacy.

A wonderful place to begin when creating these bins is to think of your child’s interests. If your child loves dogs, then a bin full of plastic toy dogs, fake bones, doggie dishes and books are a wonderful bin to pull out on a rainy day. Does your child love dinosaurs? Then dinosaur figurines, books and even baking soda for volcano making creates a fun dinosaur learning bin.

We also love our zoo bin. We were gifted with a zoo membership and go every couple weeks. My daughter loves zoo day and her excitement can be a bit over the top on our zoo days as she waits to go. This was until I had the idea of creating a zoo bin. I usually set out all of the books and toys on her bookshelf to surprise her the morning that we will be heading to the zoo. She squeals with delight and plays with all of her Zoo Learning Bin toys until it is time to go.

Ready to get nerdy with me? The child-development researcher in me can’t help but mention all of the benefits of project-based learning. When you design themed studies, children are able to really work on their critical thinking and analysis skills as they compare books. It offers the opportunity to learn through multiple learning styles and avenues. It provides an opportunity to embrace children’s interests. Do you want one more, not as research based benefit? It is a total parent sanity saver!

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!

Your Best Birth: Tips from a Birth Doula | Meraki Mama Collective

For the vast majority of us, preparing for birth includes choosing a place of birth and what medical interventions we do and don’t want. But birth is so much bigger than that. Medical interventions aside, you will need to be well-versed in comfort measures to help manage discomfort, reduce stress, and create an environment that you feel safe and able to birth in. It’s said that all mammal mamas require five things to give birth: darkness, silence, safety, warmth, and privacy. Just like the cat who hides to birth, these five qualities of a birth environment help the birthing person to relax and surrender to the surges and sensations that bring us baby. It doesn’t matter whether you are planning for a home birth or an epidural, comfort measures can help you attain your best environment to help labor progressing, with a positive experience for mama!

Set the scene

As a doula, the first things that do after I check in with the mother in labor are to dim the lights, turn on some gentle spa music, and get my essential oils out. These simple steps can really change the mood of the room dramatically. It can take a hospital room and make it more intimate and more home-like. I use a mixture of lavender and clary sage during labor as both oils help the birthing person to relax and feel safe, which in turn helps labor for stalling. Although oils are natural, be mindful that the scent may be too much while in labor, try a little on washcloth or cotton ball before you start a diffuser. Another way to set the scene is asking your birth partner to tell staff not to talk to you during contractions, and to keep chatter to a minimum. This really protects your space, and the energy in the room.

Managing Discomfort

I hear so many women say, “Just give me the epidural,” solely relying on the epidural for pain relief. Let me tell you, this is not always the best plan. For one, you’ll want to labor as long as you can without it, to get baby moving downward using gravity, think hips swaying, walking, and sitting on a birth ball. This will help your labor to progress, as epidurals will slow down your labor. Also, the anesthesiologist is not always readily available, and they don’t always relieve 100% of the pain.

  • Change positions: This is huge. Familiarize yourself with different positions, a doula is a great resource in your labor to offer up position options. Squatting, hands and knees, leaning on your partner, sitting on a birth ball, or standing up and swaying. If you’re not hiring a doula, find a print out of positions and bring it with you as cheat sheet for your partner.
  • Hip squeeze: An old Midwife and doula trick, this can not only relieve pressure, but create space for baby to move down in the birth canal. Placing the heal of the hands into the soft spot on the buttocks and pressing inward. Most moms love this, and like lots of pressure too.
  • Sacrum press: Placing the heal of the hand on the sacrum and pressing in can create counter pressure to baby pushing on mom’s sacrum and tailbone, think back labor.
  • Heating pad: This is great for early labor (and for afterbirth cramps too). Just how it relieves cramp pain during your menstrual cycle, it can relieve discomfort, so you can rest during early labor.
  • Ice pack/Cold cloth: Most women are so appreciative of cold cloths during labor. The hormones and chemicals in the body can create hot flashes, and this is a fast and easy way to soothe mama. You can freeze wet washcloths, or if in the hospital, as for a basin, fill it with ice. Then ask for 4-5 washcloths and put all of them in the ice. This way, as you use one, and it warms up on mom’s forehead, back, or neck, you have a fresh one right away to switch out!
  • Hydrotherapy: I once had a client say, “I never knew water could feel so good,” while laboring in the shower. It’s true, water can be so therapeutic. Standing or sitting on a birth ball or stool, and let the water fall on your back, belly or all over your body. Remember to keep the water warm, but not too hot, and take breaks.

Although there are so many more ways to bring safety, relaxation, and respect to the birthing space, this is a great place to start. Hiring a doula may be the best way to ensure all of these options are available to you, and that your partner feels supported and confident in the process.

About the Author:

Lauren Shields, CD(DONA), RPYT, Founder of Meraki Mama Collective

Meraki means the soul, creativity or love put into something; the essence of yourself that is put into your work. Meraki Mama Collective is a space for women to gather + find community. A space that supports and empowers women to develop positive, healthy visions of their bodies as they transition through pregnancy, birth, + into motherhood.

Lauren is passionate about working with individuals and couples in helping to empower women to trust their bodies and their instincts throughout pregnancy and into motherhood, serving as their advocate + holding space during this sacred transition.

The Meraki Mama Collective studio opens on May 12th in Atlanta, GA! Follow Lauren on Instagram and Facebook for inspiration and updates!

Rhythm and Structure: The Benefits of Music Therapy for Kids with ADHD

Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) need help developing a sense of structure and organization. Problems associated with the disorder include an inability to concentrate and focus on tasks; difficulty listening to direction; and a tendency to be restless and intrusive, among other symptoms. Parents have to be careful about how they organize their child’s daily routines. School can be a significant problem for ADHD kids, who often have trouble completing assigned tasks.

There are many therapeutic treatment approaches for kids with ADHD, but music is uniquely effective at helping them overcome symptoms that can cause trouble in their social and school lives. In fact, few things help instill structure like music, with its combination of rhythms and melodies. Researchers have found that musical exercises can improve an ADHD child’s attention, motor skills and academic performance.


“Music is rhythm, rhythm is structure, and structure is soothing to an ADHD brain struggling to regulate itself to stay on a linear path,” writes Anni Layne Rodgers, ADDitude Magazine. It’s been shown that children can benefit simply by clapping or tapping their feet along to the beat of a song. Kids who undergo music therapy interact with music by playing rudimentary instruments such as drums, cymbals and wooden sticks.

The intrinsic social quality of music is also helpful, as children keep time together and contribute their individual creativity to the achievement of a larger objective: The performance of a piece of music.


Differences in tempo and melody can encourage desired behaviors, calming or stimulating a child’s cognitive and motor functions depending on the song. For example, playing an up-tempo song can help a child burn off pent-up energy, while a slow, relaxing piece of music can help them settle down for meals or bedtime. In fact, changing rhythms periodically can help ADHD children focus because it causes them to pay attention to changes in time and alters their physiological reaction.

As such, music can help children learn to listen and concentrate. Playing music requires them to pick up on changes in tempo, and anticipate changes in melody and harmony. Kids also benefit from having a “voice,” a creative outlet that’s heard alongside others. Exposing your child to such an experience by hiring a certified music therapist can be a little expensive. Fortunately, there are many ways you can incorporate music into your everyday life. 

Create a ‘soundtrack’

Record a list of songs your child likes preferably, one that features different rhythms and styles,   and find ways to incorporate it in your daily routine. Play calming music when you’re sitting down to dinner, or something more upbeat when it’s time to do chores, homework or on the way to school in the morning. Sing along with your child, especially when his favorite tunes come on. Consider writing a song with your child, something you can both play and sing when he needs a little mood boost. Let him experiment with different kinds of music. Classical, jazz and certain kinds of rock are good choices, though avoid more aggressive forms of rock.


Learning to play music restructures brain functioning in positive ways. Encourage your child to try an instrument and play in the school band. Kids benefit considerably from the experience, which provides the structure and socialization they need, as well as self-discipline and self-confidence. Be sure to do some research before buying or renting an instrument. You can consult with an expert at your local music store.

A touchstone

Music can be incorporated into your daily routine quite easily. For a child with ADHD, it’s a touchstone in the midst of what can be a confusing and chaotic world. Those who are exposed to music and learn to play an instrument boost their sense of well-being and confidence and often do better in school.

About the Author:

Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org 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!


Using Essential Oils in Pregnancy | Distill + Express


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 natural solutions during pregnancy. My first stop is with Doterra Essential oils.

I’m here to share tips and tricks for all you natural mamas. I turned to natural solutions with my last pregnancy and realized there are so many ways to use essential oils. They are pure, yet highly effective! Check out this list of recipes to aid you on your journey into motherhood.

Breast tenderness is one of the first symptoms of pregnancy, and it is a gift that keeps on giving! This “Tender Ta-Tas” blend is a must for the entire pregnancy and after.

  • Clary Calm for hormonal balance
  • Grapefruit for breast & uterine issues
  • Lavender is a natural analgesic that’s relaxing and soothing
  • Ylang Ylang is great for combating hormonal imbalance.

Anyone ever have problems with digestion? One of the most common symptoms of pregnancy is constipation and affected me.

  • Digestzen works great for upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, heartburn and acid indigestion/reflux.
  • In a 10ml roller bottle combine 5 drops of the DigestZen and roll on your belly bottom. This blend works in just a couple minutes. You can also add a couple drops of DigestZen in your water or Veggie capsule if you prefer.


Then you suddenly feel so tired. I’ve been taking my LLV and it’s been a life saver, but when I’m feeling extra tired (which can happen from time to time during pregnancy), this blend does the trick and picks me right up!

  • Citrus Bliss is very uplifting and helps combat low Energy & Exhaustion
  • Peppermint is invigorating and helps increase Alertness & Energy
  • Elevation is “happiness in a bottle” and helps Energize & Refresh.
  • Combine these 3 oils in a 10ml roller bottle (5 drops of each). Apply on the palm of your hands, rub together, and inhale. You can also diffuse this combo. It smells amazing!

Are any of you experiencing swelling? You get to a certain point in your pregnancy where shoes are not fitting- YAY! This means not only is it time to increase my water and protein intake, but the combination of the two products below will help you support your body, keep that fluid circulating, and combat aches and pains that so often accompany this magical time in our lives.

  • Deep Blue Rub – this has been a life saver for me since I’ve been pregnant (and before)! This “Physical Therapist in a bottle” is SUPER cooling and soothing when you’re feeling pressure (due to swelling or anything), aches, pains, etc. I just love how it feels and absorbs so quickly into my skin.
  • AromaTouch blend also works amazingly for muscle aches, poor circulation, muscle tension, soreness and cramps. It also promotes feelings of comfort and relaxation.
  • Apply a little Deep Blue rub on the palm of your hand and add 1-2 drops of AromaTouch, rub together, and apply. This combination feels heavenly and your ankles and swollen feet will thank you later.


I also had the worst morning sickness. I had a hard time at the beginning of my pregnancy with morning sickness and it lasted the entire time. I tried many different oils and supplements, but this regimen helped me the most:

  • I increased the amount of TerraZymes I would normally take to: two capsules with an empty stomach and one with my meals. Giving your body (the right) enzymes can help your digestive system big time.
  • Cardamom behind my ears and neck. It blocks the receptor pathways of nausea (aka. Makes you feel less nauseous)
  • Peppermint I just inhale straight from the bottle- this helps a lot of things, including giving you a little boost from your yucky feelings
  • Ginger in my tea also helps block the receptor pathways of nausea.
  • Slim & Sassy chewing gum was a life saver for me. I would take everywhere with me and it was such a great relief.

Here are a couple morning sickness/nausea blends to help you out during this not fun time:

  • In a 10ml roller bottle combine 5 drops of Peppermint, Cardamom, and Lavender. Apply to back of your neck and behind ears. This blend save me big time
  • Spray/Mist in a 4oz spray bottle add 10 drops of Peppermint, Lemon and Wild orange. Shake well and spray. This spray helps to stay calm, energize and uplift during this time.


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

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!









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: www.rinercounseling.com, view her Instagram posts at riner_counseling, or check out her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rinercounseling/ ;

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