10 Things I Did Before I Was 33 (And You Should Too)

I celebrated my 33rd birthday on February 1st. I’ve always used my birthdays as a reset button for the new year. I set goals on January 1st, but usually don’t get motivated to pursue them until my birthday rolls around and it’s officially a new year for me.

In honor of my 33rd birthday, I’m sharing 10 important things I’ve done in my short time here on Earth.

1) Expanded my palette

The first twenty years of my life I subsisted on chicken strips and fries. I was scared to death of flavor, intolerant of spice, and happy to live in my mashed potato bubble. My ex-boyfriend’s father was an excellent cook and I tried many new things at his house with the sole motivation of looking good in front of his family. Even though the relationship didn’t last, I left with a love of avocados, Peking duck, and Indian food. There is so much good food out there, try it!

2) Got over my childhood (for the most part)

I quietly carried the brunt of my dysfunctional family until my mid-twenties. At that point, it came to a head, I was regularly crying and raging over what had happened during my childhood. I had flipped the switch from “everything was cool” to “everything was horrible” and I couldn’t get out of the funk. Thoughts about my past encompassed 90% of my brain space and even crowded into my current situation and made me doubt my present relationships. I came from a we-don’t-need-help family and when I was able to break that stigma and talk to a therapist, the relief was nearly immediate. After several months of therapy, I gained the tools to deal with my past and present. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad about things or have times when I wallow in it, but I’m a lot better off than I was before. My past doesn’t dictate my future and neither does yours. Get help if you need it.

3) Took a big risk

I wouldn’t say I’m risk-adverse. I was always the friend convincing her more cautious friends to do something daring. One boring evening, I led the charge to go get something pierced, just for fun. However, when it came to my work history, I followed the straight and narrow. I had one career after college and I intended to stay there indefinitely even though I wasn’t able to express myself creatively and it wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life (though I enjoyed the work). During bed rest and maternity leave while pregnant with my daughter, I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do with my life. This led to me resigning from my job and beginning a work from home career. That blossomed into my own business and led me to where I am today. I was scared to take a risk, but if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have experienced the happiness, excitement and career satisfaction I feel now. Make a plan and then make the leap, it’s worth it.

4) Cut out toxic people

I’ve made the tough decision to have limited or no contact with several people in my life. I agonized over these decisions and kept expressing my hurt, waiting for the person(s) to change. Spoiler alert – they never did. Don’t give your time to people who make you feel bad about yourself. Just don’t. It’s better to have no one to talk to then have someone who makes you feel worse every time you talk to them. This advice even applies to family. Just because someone has known you for a long time or is related to you doesn’t mean they deserve a place in your life. You don’t have to know someone forever, so don’t. You can stop talking abruptly or do the slow fade, but just get the people out of your life. Your deserve to be happy.

5) Made a commitment

I said I’d never get married until I met my husband. When he proposed, it felt right and I wasn’t worried about the lifelong commitment any longer. Making a commitment is hard enough to keep without forcing yourself into it in the first place. Being committed to something has made me a better person. I was flaky and hard to reach when I was younger and being with someone for an extended length of time bored me. Obviously marriage isn’t always perfect, but I know that hanging in there through the tough times leads to some of the best times. You don’t have to get married to make a commitment, vow to do something that you want to do and see it through. It will give you the same satisfaction.

6) Saw some of the world

It took me into my 30s to realize I don’t really like traveling. So many people feel that traveling is THE thing to do. If you can see the world then you’ve made it and you’re a more fully formed human than those who stay in the same place for their entire lives. While I love the idea of traveling, I don’t enjoy the actuality of it. I’ve seen around 15 states, been on tropical beach vacation, saw some ancient churches, and flown internationally – for now, I’m good. So, maybe I’ll be a less cultured person that someone else, but as they say, is the juice worth the squeeze? And for me, it’s not. If traveling makes you happy, do it. If you prefer to stay local, there’s nothing wrong with that either.

7) Forgave

Anger is a smooth talker. It will always make you feel that you are justified in your feelings. When someone wrongs you, whether they did it on purpose or not, whether they are sorry or not, whether they will do it again or not, just forgive. Holding onto anger is toxic. Forgiveness takes nothing from you, it doesn’t prove the person was right, it just allows you to move past the event. I spent a lot of my youth raging at machines and it ultimately just wore me out. It gave me a hard shell that made me distrustful of anyone’s intentions. Once I figured out that my reaction to the situation mattered more than the actual situation, it became a lot easier to choose peace and forgive. Let go of a grievance and your soul will feel lighter.

8) Got my sleep

I’ve always loved sleep. Even as a child, I was slow to wake up and could stay in bed until the afternoon. I enjoyed my time sleeping in until I turned 30 and had my daughter. Once that happened, sleep became something that was less controlled by me and more controlled by the whims of a tiny dictator. Enjoy your sleep, revel in your sleep. Get your sleep while the sleeping’s good. I’m sure I’ll sleep soundly again…someday.

9) Experienced unconditional love

I don’t think I could have ever experienced true love had I not had my daughter. I love my husband, and I’ve loved men before him, but it’s not the same. The love I have for my daughter could move mountains. It has changed my life in the best possible way. I am kinder and braver than I was before she was born. I was petrified of having children, possibly intuiting that some core part of myself would break loose when it happened, but it was the best decision I have ever made. Having children is not for everyone, and I don’t doubt that a person can find the same type of unconditional love for an animal, significant other, or even career, but for me, it’s my daughter.

10) Shared my light

I’ve bailed two ex-boyfriends out of jail, picked people up in the middle of night when I was barely able to focus my gritty eyes on the road, taken someone to a concert at the last minute when their other friend bailed, given dozens of people money (overtly or secretly), complimented strangers, hugged people who were crying in public, left giftcards on car windshields, sent anonymous Valentine’s, donated my time and money to local charities, and sincerely told no less than 30 people that I thought they were beautiful. Kind actions are always out of my comfort zone and they always take bravery, but I know these actions make an impact. The world needs all the good we can put into it, especially now.

I’m not afraid of aging, I’ve only become more confident, less concerned about people’s opinions of me, and happier as I’ve gotten older. I wish the same for you.

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Transitioning From a Crib to a Toddler Bed

Right before she turned two years old, Norah started complaining about her crib. She would wake up in the middle of the night and yell that she didn’t want to sleep in her crib and didn’t like it anymore. We weren’t sure when we were going to transition from crib to toddler bed, but Norah let us know when she was ready.

Choosing a new bed

Our first decision was to choose whether to buy a twin bed and add a rail or buy a toddler bed. There are pros and cons for each. The twin bed could grow with Norah and be her bed for the next 10+ years. The toddler bed was more manageably sized, less expensive, and could be passed down to future children. We thought we could consign the toddler bed when we were finished with it, assuming it was in good condition.

We ended up deciding on the toddler bed and bought this one from Walmart for $60. We got the cherry stain version to match her dresser and bookshelf.

We built the toddler bed on a Saturday so that Norah would have a chance to get used to the bed when sleep disruptions wouldn’t mess with her routine.

We let Norah pick out her own big girl comforter and sheet set. She chose this three piece Minnie set from Walmart for $40. Having a big girl comforter made her excited to get into the new bed. The set has held up through quite a few washings, but the decorative pillow unraveled in the dryer and I had to throw it out.

The first night Norah slept in the new bed went beautifully, she didn’t get out of the bed once and she went right to sleep. We figured she was telling us the truth when she said she didn’t like her crib. She was ready to transition to a toddler bed. She has been in the bed for five months now and she still loves it. She occasionally gets out of bed to gather random toys and books and bring them into bed with her, but she’s never tried to leave her room.

Adding an alarm clock

Another issue we had to tackle was Norah’s habit of waking up around 5 or 6 am and deciding that she wanted to be up for the day. This was a new occurrence and had only been happening for a month or so, but it was tough to deal with. It’s likely this had to do with Norah’s two-year molars coming in, but we wanted to introduce the concept of a “wake up time” sooner than later.

We bought the OK to Wake clock from Amazon for $21 to teach Norah time. The clock lights up green when it’s time for the child to wake up. There’s also an option for a ringing alarm, which we don’t use. It took a few days for Norah to understand the concept and follow it. We told her that she was allowed to get out of bed and read books or play with toys before the clock turned green, but that she couldn’t yell for us or leave the room.

On an average morning, we have the clock set to turn green at 8:30 am. She typically starts stirring at 8 and will either look at books or rest until the clock turns green. As soon as it does, she yells out “The clock is green. It’s morning time!”

Overall, we have a great sleeper which I credit partially to genetics and partially to using the SleepEasy Solution when she was four months old.

Tips for a successful transition from crib to toddler bed

    1. Look for signs of readiness. My daughter told us she was done with the crib, but other signs may include climbing out the crib or changing sleep patterns.
    2. Let your child have some say in the bed/comforter. We let Norah pick her comforter set and she was thrilled when she got to use it.
    3. Talk it up and make it fun. We surprised Norah by building the bed while she was downstairs then bringing her into her new room when everything was set up. We also acted extremely excited and positive about the change.
    4. Get a book about it. Norah loves to read books about things we’re going to do. We got her the book “Big Enough for a Bed” which talks about Elmo going from a crib into a big boy bed. This helped her understand what was happening and she frequently talked about how she had a big girl bed like Elmo.
    5. Give lots of of praise for a job well done. The first morning after Norah spent the night in her new bed, both Mike and I went in when she woke her up to talk about how great she did and how proud we were of her.

**This post contains affiliate links.

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10 Things You Can For Yourself During Naptime

Some days you feel ultra productive. You work on your business during your child’s naptime. But what about those days when you’re drained? Self-care is very important especially as a freelancer. Self-care activities are positive stress relievers that relax you, inspire you, or recharge you.

Here are ten things you can do for yourself during your child’s naptime:

1) Meditate and stretch

My most important tip for naptime is to meditate and stretch. The whole routine can take less than 10 minutes, but it clears your mind and makes your body feel limber. I use the Stop, Breathe, and Think app to meditate. There are many meditations on the app that are five minutes or less. I usually do at least 10 minutes of meditation during naptime.

I do a simple stretching routine to keep my muscles from getting tight.

2) Take a nap

One of the most obvious things you can do is take a nap. A quick 20-30 minute snooze can give your brain a rest and recharge you for the rest of your day.

3) Read a book

Whenever I open a book, I take a tiny vacation. Try spending 20-30 minutes reading a book during your child’s naptime. It doesn’t matter whether the book is fiction or nonfiction, just choose something that interests you. I do almost all of my reading during naps and in the 10 minutes before I go to bed. I usually end up reading around 30 books per year. It’s possible to get a lot of reading done if you spend 20-30 minute each day doing it.

4) Take a bath or shower

As work-at-home or stay-at-home mama, we don’t get a chance to shower during the day without an audience. When your child takes a nap, you could spend some time relaxing in a hot bath or taking a shower. Having a peaceful shower that’s not rushed always makes me feel better.

5) Watch a show

Sometimes I’ll take a Netflix break during my daughter’s nap. I recently got through all seasons of Scandal. I don’t like having the TV on too much during the day and my daughter is not happy when a “Mama show” is on. I do my TV watching in the evenings or on weekends.

6) Get outside

If the weather is nice, I spend 20 minutes outside while Norah naps. I take the baby monitor outside and either read, do work, or just sit and enjoy the sunshine. Sometimes I walk laps in the yard to get a little exercise. If you have front porch or deck, try getting a little sunshine while your child is sleeping.

7) Have a snack

We all have those snacks that we don’t want to share with our kids. Get into your secret stash and have a snack during naptime. Whether your favorite treat is salty or sweet, it will be that much more delicious because you don’t have to share it.

8) Connect with a friend

Text or call someone and see how they’re doing. This is especially nice to do to other stay-at-home or work-at-home moms. The days can often be long and lonely so reaching out to each other is a good way to have a little adult interaction.

9) Work on a hobby or craft

This could be as simple as doing a little coloring in an adult coloring book or it could be as complicated as you are crafty. I enjoy knitting and I’m planning on learning how to hand-letter in the next few months. I like to have one activity I enjoy that doesn’t require screens.

10) Clean something or declutter

If my house is a disaster, I have a hard time focusing. Of course, there are toys strewn all around the living room for most of the day, but I like to take five minutes to tidy up while Norah sleeps. She destroys the living room as soon as she wakes up, but my sweeps help a bit. At the very least, they help me find the half-eaten snacks that she’s hidden in the couch.

When your child takes a nap, ask yourself whether you’d like to spend the time working or practicing self-care. Don’t feel guilty about your choice! Either way you are doing something good for yourself.

 

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What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed by Motherhood

Being a mother is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but it can also be one of the most exhausting, overwhelming and tedious ones too. At one point or another, all mothers have felt like they weren’t able to keep up with the onslaught of housework, caregiving, and maintaining their sanity.

Here are some ways to cope when you feel overwhelmed by motherhood:

  • Find a support group

In-person would be best, but if all you can find or have time for is an online group, that can work too. Support groups consist of other mothers, some in the same position as you, others who are newer to the job, and some seasoned pros. They can offer support and help. A weekly or monthly meeting can be a great place to recharge, relax, laugh and commiserate. Check Meetup groups in your area or Momsclub.

  • Ask for help

If you have a relative or a friend that you can ask for help, reach out and do so. Sometimes we don’t reach out for help because we’re embarrassed and assume that everyone else has it together. Everyone could use some extra help every now and then. Ask if someone can watch your child for a while so you can run an errand solo. Ask if someone could entertain your child while you get some things done around the house. Ask if someone could help you clean while your child sleeps. Whatever you need help with, put aside your temporary embarrassment and ask for help.

  • Take a break

When your child is napping or otherwise safely contained somewhere, take a break. Take a few deep breaths, do some stretching, read a book for a few minutes, or just leave the room. Sometimes separating yourself from the situation for a bit can help especially during toddler tantrums or newborn crying jags. When you calm down, go back and comfort and redirect.

  • Hire someone

If you don’t have regular help, you may want to hire someone to give you some time out each day. Babysitters, nannies, or ‘mother’s helpers’ can be as reasonable as $7-15 per hour depending on where you live. If you are able to pay someone to come a few days a week, it may be best for your mental health. You can find local caregivers on Care.com.

  • Find daycare

If you don’t want a babysitter coming to your house or can’t find one, you could use a drop-in home daycare service. This would allow you to bring your child for around $25-45 per day. Most commercial daycares will not allow drop-ins, but do have part-time schedules that can be as flexible as two days per week or a few hours each day.

  • Go outside

If you’re stuck in the house all day, you’re bound to get aggravated. Both you and your child need a change of scenery. Go outside! Go to the playground, the library, or take a walk around the block. Even running a few errands can break up the monotony.

  • Find free activities in your town

In most cities, there’s something free happening almost every day. Most museums and zoos have donation days where you pay whatever you can. Look up activities in your city and get out of the house. It can seem overwhelming to leave the house at first, but once you get to your destination, you’ll be glad you did. Search “free activities [your city]” or “donation day [your city]” to find lists of resources.

  • Join a gym

There are many gyms with childcare included in the membership price. The YMCA is a great example. For around $40/person per month or $70/family per month you can go to the YMCA every day and use the childcare for two hours per day. This situation is a win-win. Not only will you get some exercise, but you will also get a much-needed break.

  • Get more sleep

When you’re sleep deprived, everything is harder. Try to get to bed earlier. If your child is still waking through the night, consider sleep training. I used the SleepEasy Method to sleep train my daughter. If your child naps during the day, try to take a 20-30 minute nap with them. It’s tempting to power through your day on caffeine and sugar (I know I have!), but try not to consume them after 2 pm so you can fall asleep faster.

  • Speak to a therapist

If you’re feeling overwhelmed frequently, you may want to speak with a therapist. You could be experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety. Even if you’re not, the therapist will give you tools to help you cope with your day-to-day struggles. It’s often hard to find time to go to a therapist when you have children, but this is where babysitters, family, or friends can come in handy. You must prioritize your own health because no one else can do that for you.

Feeling overwhelmed is a normal occurrence in motherhood. Children can be demanding and exhausting and it’s stressful to have the responsibility of raising them on your shoulders. Make sure to take time for self-care. You are important.

If you feel hopeless or overwhelmed the majority of the time, please contact someone about postpartum depression/anxiety. It is very real and very serious.

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Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 10/24/16)

This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, marketing, and parenting with occasional wild cards thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.

Freelancing

If you like hearing other freelancer’s stories, check out Jess Creative’s Journeys in Business video series. The first episode is with wedding planner, Ashley Stork.

CloudPeeps has the top 10 trends of freelancing in 2017. Highlights include the digital toolbox continuing to expand and freelancers getting more representation.

Bianca Bass shares 15 money lessons everyone needs to know. This advice is particularly useful for freelancers. I agree 100% with her stance on never working for free.

Marketing

David Kadavy shares what you need to know before starting a course. A lot of his suggestions are about the things that you don’t need before you launch.

Mallie Rydzik shares a cute post on the scariest thing about being a working creative. Most creatives fear losing clients and money.

Being authentic is a current trend in marketing. Camilla Peffer discusses when too much information can be bad for your brand.

Parenting

Interesting musing on how a woman had no sympathy for mothers at her workplace until she became one. Once you become a mother you see that no mother has it easy, whether she stays home, works at home or works outside the home.

Megan Nash’s story about her special needs son being turned down by a modeling agency is making headlines. She’s hoping to get Asher into a national campaign to promote acceptance and inclusion.

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5 Easy Ways to Entertain Your Toddler at Home

I’m not only a freelancer; I’m also a stay at home mom to a two-year-old girl. I spend most of the day working, running errands and doing housework, but I also spend a few hours each day focused solely on her.

At this age, she can only concentrate on one thing for about 20 minutes so I’ve put together a bag of tricks to keep her entertained.

Here are some easy (and cheap!) ways that I entertain my toddler:

1) Creating artwork

Art projects are one of my favorite things to do with Norah. We color with crayons, markers, or colored pencils, paint with watercolors or fingerpaint, string macaroni, and glue things to paper. Pinterest is a great resource for cute art projects for toddlers. I’ve put together some of my favorites projects here.

2) Playing outside

Unless it’s the dead of winter, Norah and I go outside every day for at least 30 minutes. We walk around the yard looking for sticks and leaves. We take short walks around the neighborhood. We play with her outdoor toys (water table, sandbox, jungle gym). We are lucky to have a large yard, but even in our previous home we spent time on the stoop getting some fresh air and watching the cars go by.

3) Flashcards and letters

We spend 20-30 minutes per day doing flashcards and letter games. During the back-to-school season, I found a bunch of $1 flashcard sets at Target. I bought Cat in the Hat cards for shapes and colors and a deck of animal cards. We also have a few letter puzzles that spell out small words like cat, moon, and hat. We love this Melissa and Doug See and Spell puzzle set.

4) Reading

Since Norah was about three months old, I’ve taken her to the library every week and read to her for at least 20 minutes per day. Thanks to this, she absolutely loves books and will now spend 20-30 minutes sitting in her rocking chair “reading” her books to herself. Her most often requested items are a book and one of her stuffies to read it to. Our local library has a goal of reading 1000 books to your child before they enter kindergarten. If you read just one per night, you’ll read 365 in one year, 730 in two years and 1,095 in three years. You can find out more about this program here.

5) Games with household items

I set up inexpensive or free games for Norah to play in the house. Some examples of these include:

  • Homemade obstacle course

One of the easiest and cheapest things to do is set up an obstacle course in your home. I use couch cushions, pillows, moving boxes, and a hula hoop for obstacles and washi tape or painter’s tape to create lines and zig zags on the carpet for Norah to follow. This has been especially helpful in improving her motor skills.

  • Hide and seek

We play hide and seek by me hiding and her finding me (contained to one level of the house) or hiding her stuffed animals and telling her to find them. The stuffed animal hide and seek usually holds her attention longer because they are harder to find.

  • Scavenger hunt

This is the same concept as hide and seek, but we look for specific things. I’ll hide seashells, an apple, a few leafs, and some toys around the house and then give her a list of what she’s looking for. She can’t read yet, but she likes to cross things off the list with a crayon when she finds them.

  • Money sort

I have a giant jar of coins that she likes to transfer from one container to another. This activity requires supervision because coins are choking hazards. Norah almost never puts non-food items in her mouth, but I still watch her when she plays this game. This is a good activity for her to do in the kitchen while I’m cooking dinner. I’ve also done this with uncooked macaroni noodles.

  • Cup stack

I have 50+ plastic Solo cups in different colors from her previous birthday and holiday parties that she likes to stack. She’ll spend 20-30 minutes stacking them and knocking them over in the kitchen. She also likes doing this with plastic plates.

  • Tupperware drums

Playing drums on pots and pans is way too loud, but Tupperware drums are a great alternative. The noise isn’t deafening so your kid gets the satisfaction of hitting a spoon onto something and making noise without giving you a headache.

A game that I’m not including on the list, but Norah always wants to play is called “blankiehead.” She puts her blanket over her face and runs at full speed around the house. I do not recommend this game!

Entertaining a toddler does not have to expensive or exhausting. The most important part is being present with your child and actively engaging in whatever activity you choose to do together.

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Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 10/10/16)

This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, marketing, and parenting with occasional wild cards thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.

Freelancing

Jason Zook discusses how he got over his fear of writing. Some tips include getting vulnerable, making writing a daily practice, and always sharing something useful.

Brent Jones talks about how he pitched 88 clients in one day. This article motivated me to set a goal of pitching 2-3 new clients per week.

This article on taking the reins in your freelance business is great for those just getting started. Nellie Akalp lays out a plan for getting your business in order.

Marketing

Jon Westenberg offers some quick and dirty tips on increasing your website’s traffic. Of course,  learning SEO is one of the most important suggestions.

John Hall talks about the most important factor in PR and marketing and no surprise, it’s trust. I particularly liked the part about customers being extra sensitive to “me” focused marketing.

This short article talks about brands’ top marketing priorities over the past few years. SEO is ranked #1 and blog content is #2.

Parenting

How does parents’ smartphone usage affect their kids? Parents can feel pulled in all directions and kids can feel ignored. This article suggests setting limits on screen time.

Interesting article on how a child’s intelligence develops. I learned that some portion of intelligence is determined in utero by hormones in the mother!

Guest Posts

I’m proud to announce my first ever guest post on The Write Life. I talked about how I wrote for 30 minutes every day in September. I plan to write for 30 minutes every day until the end of the year then for all of 2017! My next update will be in another ~20 days when I complete a 60 day streak.

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Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 10/3/16)

This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, marketing, and parenting with occasional wild cards thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.

Freelancing

Caroline Beaton discusses her journey from full-time employee to full-time freelancer. She made a series of smart, strategic moves to ensure that she could always support herself.

Ryan Robinson shares his tips on how to write an effective pitch for a freelancing client. These suggestions secured him a $500 per post gig!

Julio Vincent Gambuto wants you to be a freelancer who actually makes money. He has some fantastic ideas for how to stay lucrative.

Marketing

Your customer has 30 different needs, does your product or service meet them? Larry Kim talks about the attributes driving customer purchases. Which ones can you tap into?

Email marketing has many benefits including boosting your website’s SEO. Jayson DeMers explains how regular email communication can improve your rankings.

Kevan Lee walks through the process of getting verified on Twitter. A verified account can boost the perception of your online presence, but you need to be a somewhat public figure to be approved.

Parenting

A round-up of 45 hilarious “parenting tips” ‘from Twitter. “Never take a toddler’s word for it” was one of my favorites.

How do Jewish mothers approach parenthood? The Chicago Tribune has four suggestions and I love the one about encouraging geekiness.

Hobbies

Cat Noone talks about how she got started hand-lettering. This is a skill I plan on learning.

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Daytime Potty Training Using the Oh Crap! Method

Because I’m an overachiever and my daughter is very verbal and showed interest, I started potty training her in April at 22 months old. It was actually common for parents of the previous generation to potty train around 18 months! For millennial moms, this may seem a bit early because the current trend is training around two years old. Each child is different and although you should wait to see signs of readiness, you should also give it a try when you are ready to put in the work.

I used the book Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right by Jamie Glowacki to daytime potty train my daughter.

The Oh Crap! method offers two options, you can tackle day and night time potty training in one swoop or you can separate the two. Since I don’t like my sleep messed with, I decided to start with daytime potty training. This decision was also influenced by my pregnancy. I thought that I would tackle nighttime training in December when I would be up with a newborn anyway. Although there won’t be a newborn in December, I will still be tackling night time training after Norah transitions to her toddler bed.

The Oh Crap! method starts with getting the child to recognize when they are going to the bathroom. There are six stages in the process:

  1. Peeing and pooping while naked, either with prompting or without
  2. Peeing and pooping with clothes on, commando, with prompting or without
  3. Peeing and pooping in different situations, with prompting or without
  4. Peeing and pooping with underpants, with prompting or without
  5. Consistent self-initiation
  6. Night and nap (unless you do it all at once)

On the first day, we kept Norah naked from the waist down (per the books recommendation). We bought three inexpensive Summer Infant potties for $9 each. We keep one in the bathroom upstairs, one downstairs, and one in the back of my car. As Norah went about her normal day, she would notice that she was peeing. The first time it happened she stopped what she was doing and stared off into the distance. We immediately grabbed her and said in an upbeat voice  “We go pee in the potty” while carrying her to the potty. By the time she reached the potty, she was done. By the second or third time that day, she was saying “Uh oh pee pee” or otherwise indicating that she knew she had started going.

The first day she also pooped on the carpet without much fanfare.

Note: I kept a Bissel spot cleaner in the living room to clean up messes as soon as they happened.

We started this process on a Saturday so we’d both be home during the first two days. Sunday proceeded much like Saturday, but Norah showed more awareness of what she was doing.

We did not go anywhere or do anything besides potty training for the entire weekend. We kept her contained to one room and one of us had our eyes on her the entire day. It was absolutely exhausting! Even though I take care of my daughter every day, I don’t have my eyes fixed on her nonstop.

After several days, she began going on the potty with more regularity. We took her to the potty as soon as she woke up in the morning and every two hours during the day. We had her sit on the potty before we got into the car and immediately when we arrived at our destination.

She was able to transition to the next stage – being fully dressed – by day five. She had many accidents during the first 5-7 days. Around the one week mark, something seemed to click and she was able to hold it while telling us she had to go. We also became aware of her “potty tells” which are stopping what she’s doing, standing completely still, and staring off into the distance. Whenever we saw those signs, we’d rush her to the potty.

We also had her go commando (no underwear) for three weeks per the book’s recommendation. Jamie’s hypothesis is that tight underwear feel too similar to diapers and the child will have more accidents if you introduce them too soon after taking away diapers. When we introduced underwear during the third week, there was an uptick in accidents for a few days.

Norah has been daytime potty trained for about six months now. She rarely has accidents, but does not like to poop in the potty. She will often hold it until her nap or bedtime. There is an entire section in the book that I need to revisit that discusses what to do in that situation. As of right now I’m not worried about it because I still need to tackle nighttime training. Most of the time when Norah has an accident, it’s our fault because we’re dragged her to several stores or went a few hours without bringing her to the potty. She is also much more likely to have an accident if she’s engrossed in something like a TV show or game.

A few tips for tackling potty training:

  1. Choose a method and be consistent

I chose the Oh Crap! method because I liked the humor of the book and that the method is a “no rewards” strategy. I did not want to use treats, toys, or stickers to motivate my child to go the bathroom for a few reasons:

  • I didn’t think I would always have those things handy
  • I didn’t want to associate food as ‘reward’
  • I didn’t want to reward biologically necessary behavior
  • I didn’t want to get into a heated negotiation about how many things she could have.

If rewards sound good to you or you think your child would do better with incentive then you should choose a method that includes them.

All in all, I doubt it matters which method you choose, but it does matter how consistent you are. Potty training will eat up an entire weekend so don’t try to do it when you have other plans, don’t feel well, or aren’t up for it. It’s an exhausting weekend and you only want to have to do it once. You don’t want to give up on day two, only to start from scratch a few months later.

2) Talk it up and make it fun

Norah loves books so we made sure to borrow as many potty books as we could in the weeks before we start training. We’d talk to her about how fun it was going to be and what a big girl she was. We let her pick out underwear and the color of her potties. We talked to her about how everyone and everything goes poop and pee. We tried to make the process as fun as possible because she initially showed some fear of the toilet.

3) Stay positive

Potty training can be very stressful and tiring. Keep in mind that it’s a slow process and there will be many accidents. Look for progress and not perfection. The first time Norah went on the floor there was no recognition that she was even going. By the second or third time, she was looking down at the mess and by later the same day she was saying “Uh oh.” No matter what timeline your child is on, it’s pretty incredible that they can grasp the concept within a few days. Stay positive and focus on the progression towards the goal instead of how much urine is soaking into your carpet.

Once the process is over, hopefully you’ll never have to do it again…until the next child.

daytime-potty-training

10 Things You Can Do For Your Business During Naptime

There is no sweeter word in the freelancing mama’s vocabulary than ‘naptime’ except for bedtime. Naptime can be a chance to get between 30 minutes to 2 hours of concentrated work done (or not, it’s up to you). Most days I buckle down and work during my daughter’s naps, but other days I take some time to recharge.

Here are ten things you can do for your small business while your child naps.

1) Update your social media sites

Are you posting regularly on your social media sites? You should be! According to a 2014 study, 62% of people check Facebook to find out more about a small business. If your page is infrequently updated your business may appear unprofessional or closed down. Try to post at least twice a week with a mix of other people’s content and your own – a 60/40 split is a good rule of thumb.

2) Write a blog post

Blog writing keeps your site fresh and your Google ranking high. Make sure to use keywords to describe your services like copywriting, blogging, social media management, virtual assistance, or whatever it is you do. Blog posts don’t need to be long, around 500 words is good. Aim to post something new at least once per week on your site, more often if you can swing it.

3) Brainstorm ideas

How often do you sit in silence with a pen and paper or a blank Word document and brainstorm ideas for your business? Try to make some time to do this once per week. You never know what ideas will emerge when you let your brain have time to imagine.

4) Ask for recommendations or reviews

Take a minute to email a past or current client asking for a recommendation or review. Make sure you ask specific questions like:

  • “How has working with me benefited your business?”
  • “Can you describe a situation where my work had a positive impact on your day?”
  • “Would you recommend my services to a friend? Why?”

Questions like these give your client a framework to think about your services. Your client is more likely to respond to specific questions than a general request to ‘review you.’ Bonus points- set up your questions as a Google form that you can easily send to clients after work is complete and keep track of the responses in one place.

5) Read something inspirational

Reading positive news or inspirational business stories can have a lasting positive effect on your mind. Spending only five to ten minutes reading can reduce stress which increases compassion and unlocks creativity. Plus, you never know where your next great idea is going to come from so keep your eyes peeled for inspiration.

6) Google yourself

What’s showing up when you Google yourself? Make sure your internet presence reflects who you are and what you want people to know about you. Consider which accounts you should make private and which you want viewable to the public. Most clients are going to Google you before working with you so you want to know what they’re seeing.

7) Set up a LinkedIn page for your business

Your business should have a LinkedIn page that lists your industry, website, and contact information. Take ten minutes to set up your page so you’re searchable on the platform. How frequently you update the page will depend on your social media strategy. 

8) Set up a Google+ page for your business

Even though the fate of Google+ is constantly being discussed, it’s still helpful to have a page for your business. Google prioritizes Google+ on search results so as long as the platform is still kicking, you should take 10 minutes to create a page and build your online presence. Again, how often you update will depend on your social media strategy.

9) Join a Facebook group

Facebook groups in your area of expertise, or ones for freelancers in general, can be some of your greatest resources. They are full of other small business owners who are doing the same thing you are. You can ask for advice and even get some work. If you’re not a member, join the Freelance to Freedom group right now!

10) Reach out to a mentor or peer

How often do you communicate your goals with someone else? It can be hard to find a one-on-one mentor, so consider a peer mentorship or mastermind group. You could also find an accountability buddy to share your weekly goals with. Reach out and message someone about how you’re doing and ask them to share the same. Just like receiving snail mail, getting a heartfelt email can be a rare occurrence that can make someone’s day.

Naptime