8 Reasons Why Every Dad should take Parental Leave

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HAPPY mid-SEPTEMBER EVERYONE!  Are we all adjusted back to regular programming, daycare/school/work?? Not so much around here… does it ever get easier?? WAHH.

Well, despite our difficult adjustment so far (I’ve been SPOILED with hubby home) I wanted to provide a bit of a recap as to why every Dad should take parental leave. If you’ve been following along up to this point you will know that my amazing hubby took this past summer off to stay home with our two munchkins (aged 1&3) after I returned to work from 12 months of mat leave. We learned early last year that in Canada, DAD’s also have the opportunity to take parental leave…and not just within the first 12 months, thus forcing Mom back to work. While most people know that the parental leave (35 or 37 weeks) can be split between both parents, and the government provides us a financial benefit, what most people are unfamiliar with, is the additional 9 months BEYOND the original 52 weeks that can be extended to the opposite parent who took the first 35 (or 37) weeks. The one caveat to this policy is that the government will only provide a financial benefit for a combined total (maternity & parental leave) of 52 weeks (Well, actually 50 weeks because the first two weeks is unpaid.. I still don’t understand that!). So YES, hubby stayed home for the summer (4.5 months), and did NOT get paid. Since his income is more than mine, this was painful…not gonna lie. HOWEVER, I would do it again 1000x over.. except I won’t have 1000 more kids so it’s more just a metaphor to say IT WAS THE BEST DECISION EVER, and here’s 8 reasons why: Continue reading

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10 Tips For Surviving The First Year

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Life has blessed us with two incredible children, and for that we’ll be eternally grateful. If I said, “the best children ever” you would all disagree with me because YOUR children are the best ever. Ok. Let’s agree to disagree, shall we?

B is turning 1 in less than a week, and with this milestone comes a lot of next level emotions for this Mama. I just love watching B grow and learn and master skills. I love watching how much more interaction takes place between him and his big sister, K. I also love that I can feed the same thing to both of my children, and have them sleep at essentially the same time every day. What I’m not digging, is that I go back to work in 1 week and gone are the days I get to spend every waking hour with my two amazing munchkins. As exhausting, and challenging as these days can sometimes be, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this year off with my two loves. For the next 4.5 months, Daddy gets to stay home with the rugrats, and I am over the moon excited for all 3 of them to spend some serious quality time together!!

This is it for us, I will not be having any more babies… we decided this before we got pregnant with B, and I wondered if my mind would change. It hasn’t. It’s not always easy to accept that I won’t be pregnant again, or breastfeed, or even have a newborn snuggle up and sleep on my chest.. but I am really excited to move onwards and upwards in our life as a family of 4.

With two babies, in two years, I have learned A LOT about the first year of life with a baby, and then how to manage a baby AND a toddler at the same time. Here are a few things I’ve learned in the last two years

  1. IT GETS BETTER! Having a newborn is not a walk in the park.. it’s so hard that you don’t even believe it until you’ve experienced it. When I had K I almost swore off a second child… but by the time she was 9 months old, I knew we’d for sure have another child, and SOON. The thought of having a toddler and a newborn scared the bejeezus out of me but knowing how quickly the really difficult time passes, really helped me with the decision to grow our family.
  2. FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET YOUR BABY SLEEPING! Whether you cosleep, use CIO, hold your babies all day, baby wear… it doesn’t matter. Just figure out what works for you and your baby. Both of my children sleep like rock stars (most of the time!). It took A LOT of work and I would say that we endured some very very trying nights/days….BUT, we got there, and at almost 3 years old, K still naps (like a champ), and sleeps 10-11 hours per night. She goes to sleep 98% of the time without any fight whatsoever, and almost never wakes up through the night. I anticipate that B will follow essentially the same pattern, as he currently sleeps 11-12 hours through the  night with no wake ups, and at this time is still napping twice a day from 1-2 hours each nap. He also goes to sleep on his own, without any hassle (unless of course he’s going through a wonder week – ugghhh). I’ve found that having my kids sleep well, gives me the break that I need to be a better Mom. It’s saved my sanity knowing that in x hours they’ll be sleeping and I can relax. Also, I am a big believer that sleep is so incredibly important for babies because it helps them to learn, and without it can lead to serious attention and health issues. I’m no doctor, but I would strongly encourage every Momma to read up on the effects of poor sleep habits on children. (Ok, I’ll step down from my soap box now).
  3. EATING HABITS CHANGE – OFTEN. This one, I still struggle with all the time. One day, they will eat like they are starved gorillas, and the next day they will refuse every single thing you put in front of them. I’m slowly accepting that they’ll eat when they are hungry, and that forcing them to eat only creates negative meal time associations. Do your best to be okay with them drinking a cup of milk, and two bites of banana all day long.
  4. FORGET THE TOYS. I loathe baby toys. They are a waste of money, and ultimately clutter your space. We have learned that buying used toys is THE BEST way to go. There are a ton of buy/sell sites where you can find toys in near perfect condition for a fraction of the cost of buying new. My advice is to buy a few things (USED), and then get toys that are for 1-2 year olds. Babies have zero interest in toys anyways.. they want YOU. They can focus on a toy for about 5.6 seconds before it’s no longer interesting to them. Give them wooden spoons, bowls, tupperware, and you’ll be fine. The one exception to this minimal toy suggestion is blocks. Stacking, throwing, chewing. All winners.
  5. BUY USED. I was amazed how fast K would grow out of her clothes. Seriously, in the first year they go up a size every 2-3 months. Then by age 1, its every 6 months and by 2 it’s yearly. We learned pretty quickly that buying used clothes was the way to go. I am cheap… and the thought of spending $30 on a pair of jeans for my kid that would last 3 months. No thank you. I’ll make an exception to this rule.. and that is for PJ’s beyond 1 year. They get worn out pretty quickly. Buying used PJ’s hasn’t been hugely successful for us, but hey.. you might get lucky.
  6. GET OUTSIDE. Fresh air is the best way to hit the reset button. When my kids are super miserable (which makes me miserable), we get outside when possible. Honestly, it’s a mood changer. A walk in the stroller, sitting on the deck, running in the backyard. Also, babies are almost always happy being outside. If you have a summer baby, go outside, find some shade and lay them on a blanket staring at nature. It’s glorious. I can’t tell you how many times going for a walk or sitting outside has calmed the kids, and lifted me out of a funk.
  7. TIME GOES FAST. Time speeds up after you have kids. I remember adults telling me to enjoy being a kid because time goes faster as you get older. TRUE STATEMENT. The days sometimes feel LONG, but the weeks, months and years fly by way too fast. Enjoy the moments, but don’t stress about wishing for what’s next. The first year is so difficult, and you’ll constantly wish for them to sit up, crawl, walk, eat, sleep, etc. There’s nothing wrong with that… as long as you soak up what’s happening today. One day you’ll wake up and wish they couldn’t walk, or crawl, and that you could see them smile at you like they did for the very first time.
  8. TV IS NOT THE DEVIL. It’s a life saver… especially with two children. With K, we didn’t have the TV on a lot during her first year. I was somewhat anti-tv unless it had some type of learning to it. I’m over that… if I need a few minutes to breathe, I will put the tv on. When it’s 6:30 am and I need my coffee… the tv is on. Whatever. Judge me now…. and then tell me later how right I am.
  9. DON’T LOSE FOCUS ON YOUR MARRIAGE. I am 100% guilty of this at times. It’s sooooo easy to get caught up in the children. I admit, I read all the articles about keeping your marriage top of mind when you have children….and I still fail at this some days. Hubby and I don’t get out much together without the kids, and it totally sucks sometimes. However, we make it a priority to spend time together when they are in bed…even just relaxing together or talking to one another without constant interruption is hugely important. Stay connected… you need each other to get through this crazy journey of parenthood!
  10. BE AN AMBASSADOR FOR YOUR CHILD. This is one of the most important pieces of advice I can give to new parents. You cannot control your child. They are their own person, therefore it is incredibly important that you help them by supporting them and fostering a healthy environment for them to grow and learn. You cannot be perfect, and neither will they. However, if you can learn  how to be imperfect and always work at improving yourself, your children will do the same. In the early years, children are like sponges. Help them to soak up as much positivity you can muster, and always promote them for who they are. They need you, now, and forever.

I know there’s probably about 50 other things I could add to this list, but for me, these were the things I’ve had to constantly focus on. You want to give your children everything, buy all the toys, give them the best clothes, feed them the perfect foods, and avoid all of the technology for as long as humanly possible. You don’t want to spoil them, you want them to be independent, and kind, and thoughtful, smart, and generous. This stuff comes with time. It won’t happen over night, and the only way to ensure that it does happen is to be present with them. Be an example for them, and teach them by doing. Don’t focus on the material stuff, invest in experiences and give them and your spouse your time. They will not remember what you bought them, but what you did with them and how you were there for them. When life has gotten you in shambles, and your kids are driving you to drink all the wine, just take a deep breathe, tell yourself that you’ve got this, and push forward. Do not fret the small stuff, just get through it however you need to, and try to be the best version of yourself.

I would LOVE to hear what kind of tips/advice you all have for new Moms. Please feel free to leave your comments below. I really enjoy hearing what you all have to say. 🙂

XO

Shannon

 

How Your Second Child Totally Gets Shafted…..But Not Really

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One of the things we worried about the most when expecting our second child, was how his/her arrival would impact our first child. I wondered if I would be able to give enough attention to both children, how I’d juggle breastfeeding with a potty training toddler, how I’d deal with sleep deprivation and function enough to care for a toddler, and how I would manage feeding separate meals to different aged children (purees  vs. regular kiddo foods)…among many many other things. Continue reading

Go Away Scary Monster, Go Away

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MY BATTLE WITH POSTPARTUM ANXIETY (PPA)

How does one begin to discuss a topic that is so taboo, and often incredibly personal? Well, if you’re like me… you just dive right in. Cold water? who cares! After the initial shock, you come out feeling rather refreshed… am I right?

Anxiety… it’s a scary mother f’n monster!! According to statistics Canada, “one in four (25%) Canadians will have at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime”. If you want my humble opinion, I am guessing that number is actually much higher. However, it probably goes unreported or untreated for many people. Why? Well, because it’s socially unacceptable to admit to, or acknowledge that you suffer from this beast!

It wasn’t until I had my first child that I really came face to face with this ugly and debilitating disorder. Continue reading

The Countdown is On: My Return to the Real World of 9-5

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One month.

Whenever the thought crosses my mind, I actually get a gut wrenching pit in my stomach. It’s similar to the feeling that you left the house with the stove still on, only WAY worse. Have I done everything I can to prepare my kids to spend the days without me? How will I get myself and two kids ready in the morning to get out the door? Them to daycare, and me to my “day job”. Will I be so exhausted by the time I come home that I won’t be interested in spending time with them? You guys… I feel sick.

And yet.. Continue reading