Pinterest V. Reality

About a year ago–when I was spending about 8 hours a day sitting in a chair nursing my newborn–I discovered the addictive internet time-suck called Pinterest. For those of you who have managed to evade the world of Pinterest and pins and pinners and all that is “pinteresting”, let me fill you in.

Pinterest is a website where you basically create virtual bulletin boards of images from the internet. Each “board” is a collection of ideas and inspirations that you create and share with others on the website. You might have one board full of cooking ideas, another with birthday party ideas, another with fashion tips, and so on.

When I last checked, I had over 20 different boards chock-full of amazing ideas. Ideas that, last time I checked, have pretty much all remained at the “I should try that some time” stage. Because, you see, Pinterest is not reality.

I like the idea of beautiful organization and creative DIY projects and over-the-top parties. But I can’t do that stuff. Pinterest is beautiful and clean and well-planned–real life, though, tends to be more chaotic and dirty and thrown-together. Here are a few examples of how my real life compares to the magical world of Pinterest.

Pinterest: Cute little bins for each day of the week to entertain your child during quiet time. Each bin is full of interesting activities that will captivate even the most restless of preschoolers. 6bc6827a1ce63bc452626ccfe913ef39 Reality: About two weeks ago David gave up his naps. Cold turkey. He’d always taken a 2-3 hour snooze in the afternoon and then, out of the blue, he just quit taking naps one day–and he hasn’t looked back. So now we have “quiet time”–time where he is supposed to retreat to his room and rest or play quietly for half an hour so I can prep dinner or watch YouTube videos in peace. I have discovered, however, that the quieter he is during his quiet time, the more trouble he’s getting in to. Case in point: IMG_2862 Moral of the story: the only thing worse than a noisy 3-year old boy is a quiet 3-year old boy.

Pinterest: Cute, hip, trendy, fashionable. This is how I should look. f7e92c834559481edbeb1a1aec3aa0f5 Reality: My baby would smash bananas on the cute shirt, my 3-year old would break the shiny glasses, I’d trip in the ooh-la-la shoes, and the bag would be full of diapers and spit-up rags. My mommy uniform of choice consists of black yoga pants, a technical shirt and my fuzzy Ugg-inspired slippers. If you ever see me looking even remotely cute or hip or fashionable, you know I’m just putting on a show for you. photo

Pinterest: An immaculately organized closet for baby. Everything is sorted by size and color and adorableness.d418b4dee37c29c8dab3b20c4ec6b922

Reality: We recently moved into a smaller space (and, by smaller, I mean that Jacob literally sleeps in a closet now). We have to make the space work for us. And, by work for us, I mean we have stuff crammed into every nook and cranny we can find. Jacob’s closet consists of his jackets, boxes for the too-big/too-small baby clothes, a laundry basket full of diapers and wipes, more diapers piled up the sides of the closet, a Pac-N-Play on the floor, and luggage piled up to the ceiling. Hey, it works.

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Pinterest: Dazzle your child with this rainbow-layered sprinkle cake. 2013-06-20-6341922529_877ef3437e_o Reality: I made a sprinkle cake, too: chocolate cake mix from a box, topped with sprinkles. IMG_3060 …and within about 2 seconds, it looked like this: IMG_3066 I bet mine was just as yummy, though!

Pinterest: Look at this cute way to organize all of your child’s art and craft supplies. Cute, cute, cute. Perfect little jars arranged on a shelf. Notice how each jar contains exactly one type of supply. Notice also how all of the crayons are in one piece with their wrappers on, the markers all have lids, and the chalk is unused. 85a85f7d2bf5d923ae05494459b02fb1 Reality: We have a large Rubbermaid bin that I stash under a bench in our kitchen. Into this bin we stuff all of our crayons, paint, markers, Play-doh and stickers and we pull it out any time we feel like getting crafty. And, just so you know, half of the markers are lid-less and all of the crayons are in tiny, broken shards. photo (3)

Pinterest: A DIY family rules sign. Charming. All you have to do is go out to the woods, chop down a tree, plane the wood until you have a smooth working surface, prime the wood, paint the wood, apply a second coat of paint, create text stencils on your Cricut, adhere the text with a glossy varnish, “weather” the wood with sandpaper, and drink a glass of wine to reward your hard work.24x48_wood_house-rules-2

Reality: I bought this sign on Etsy. It took me less than two minutes to select the product, enter my credit card info, and hit “submit order”. I still drank a glass of wine to celebrate a job well done.

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So, Pinterest: I love you. I hate you. You inspire me, you guilt-ify me. In the end, though, you really just entertain me. I know that I can never live up to your unrealistic expectations, and that’s fine by me. I’m just gonna keep on going the best way I know how–and it’s gonna be messy, and unorganized, and frumpy. It’s gonna be real.

Traveling With Bebe, Part 2: Pre-Travel Arrangements and Packing

IMG_2635Booking Your Flight
Try to schedule your flight for a good time of day for you and your baby. I have found that it’s best to assume the baby will not nap on the plane, so plan accordingly (nap time + no nap = fussy baby, so try to avoid in-flight nap times). Try to schedule your flight for the morning so you can arrive in your destination before baby’s usual nap time. Or, if you still get 2 solid naps out of your little one, you can try the evening after nap #2, but still try to arrive before baby’s usual bed time. Obviously if you have a really long flight this logic won’t work, so just try to travel at the time of day when your baby is usually happiest (for us, that’s the morning).

If you can choose your seats ahead of time and will be traveling with a “helper”, choose two seats together (the best scenario is to find a row with only 2 seats so you don’t have to split the row with a helpless stranger). I like to sit on the aisle so I can get out easily to tend to baby’s needs, but some people prefer the window seat so they can entertain baby with the view. Also, the back of the plane is usually more kid-friendly–fewer passengers choose the back of the plane so there are usually more empty seats and you’re closer to the bathroom (for diaper changes) and the galley (if you need to stand up and bounce baby around for awhile).

If you will be having a layover, always opt for the longer time over the shorter time (i.e. take the 90 minute layover instead of the 60 minute). It takes longer to get from point A to point B when you’re carting along a stroller, car seat, diaper bag, carry-on, and an infant. Plus, you’ll want some extra time to do diaper changes, use the bathroom, get snacks, and get some wiggles out before the next leg of your journey. Short layovers always induce panic, so just don’t do it.

If you are traveling with a baby under age 2, It’s also a good idea to call your airline the week before you travel to confirm that you will be traveling with a lap infant. That way they can ensure there will be an extra oxygen mask at your seat and that you are seated in an appropriate spot (babies aren’t allowed in exit rows).

Packing
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare–you travel to some far-flung destination with your child, everyone arrives safe and sound, and then you realize that you forgot IT. You know, that one thing that your child NEEDS to survive, that thing that you NEED for your sanity, that very important thing that unless we find it NOW our entire trip will be RUINED!!!! So packing is very important. There are a lot of little things to bring with you when you’re traveling with young ones, and if you don’t pack them, nobody else will.

I have learned that I need to organize my packing well in advance of our travel. Otherwise, that shirt that I needed will be in the dirty laundry hamper or that baby food I needed will already have been eaten. I usually start packing bags about 3 days before we leave. This allows me to have everything I need in one spot, clean and organized. It also allows me a day or two to remember that thing that I forgot.

I keep a packing list stored as a document on my computer, then I print it off before I pack for a trip. Our list is broken down into what each member of our family (including the dog) needs for travel–whether we’re going for an over-nighter or a week-long vacation, we still need to bring most of the same things. If there is something on my list that I don’t need for this particular trip, I just cross it off my list before I start packing. If there is something additional I’ll need for this trip that is not on my usual list, I add it to the list before I start packing. As I’m packing, if I think of something else I might need, I also add it to the list. Then, after each item has been packed, I cross it off the list. Since I pack a few days ahead of time, there are usually a few items that have to be packed last minute (like our toothbrushes and my son’s “lovey” Mimi). I highlight those last minute items on my list and keep it with the bags. Then, at “the last minute”, I grab all of the highlighted items and toss them in the bags as we’re loading up the car. Yes, I realize that I sound really anal about all of this. But it works and I’ve never forgotten Mimi or my underwear.

And now, dear reader, you will get a glimpse into my wonderful world of packing. I don’t include our everyday clothes on this list because I pretty much know that we’ll all need pants and shirts while we’re traveling. Here is my essential packing list, well-refined from years of implementation:

Mom and Dad:

  • Camera
  • Meds and vitamins
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Laptop and charger
  • iPod and charger
  • Sunglasses
  • Hats
  • Running gear: shoes, pants, shirt, socks, bra
  • Swimsuit and flip flops
  • Nursing pads
  • Breastpump and bottles
  • Coats
  • Hair straightener and makeup
  • Sunscreen
  • Entertainment: books, load apps and music
  • Passports

Dog:

  • Food
  • Food bowls
  • Treats
  • Leash
  • Toys
  • Dog bed
  • Pills
Boys:

  • Diapers and wipes
  • Mimi and Gigi
  • Swaddling blanket
  • Extra baby blanket
  • Spit up rags
  • Baby monitor
  • Pac ‘N Play
  • Toys and books
  • Booster seat
  • Bibs
  • Baby food and spoon
  • Sippy cups
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Tylenol
  • Snot Sucker
  • Pacifier
  • Snacks
  • Diaper bag
  • Stroller
  • Ergo
  • Coats and hats
  • Copies of birth certificates
  • Passports

Before we leave:

  • Take out garbage
  • Empty diaper pails
  • Turn off heat
  • Check mail
  • Run dishwasher
  • Lights off
  • Doors locked
  • Garage closed

Prepping For Travel Day
Time is of the essence when you’re traveling with young children. You get about 1 minute per year of their age before some earth-shattering disaster erupts in their world. I try to make our time in the airport go as quickly–and as smoothly–as I possibly can.This means calling the airline a few days ahead of time to notify them that I’ll be traveling with a lap infant (and making photo copies of his birth certificate in case anybody actually questions that my 6-month old is actually older than 2).

This means checking into my flight and printing our boarding passes at home before we leave for the airport. This means practicing how I will carry all of our stuff through the airport (yes, I’ve actually been known to do a trial run in our house with the luggage before the big travel day). This means loading our car as much as possible the night before we leave and keeping good notes on what still needs to be packed so we don’t have any last-minute forgettings of vitally important equipment (like the time I had to wake two sleeping babies at 5 AM to rush a laptop to the airport). Anything you can do ahead of time to minimize time and stress on your travel day is time well spent!

Think ahead to what will *potentially* entertain your baby or toddler on the plane, and make sure you’ve packed it. Snacks are usually the best bet–especially if it’s a special treat that they don’t get to enjoy very often. Also pack a few novel toys that he’s not already bored with. And, if you have a 2-year old boy, maybe even stash some earplugs for you and your fellow passengers. Just sayin’.

Travel Apparel
What you wear on the plane will make a big difference in your comfort on travel day. Here is, in my opinion, the perfect outfit for flying with a baby:

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  • A long-sleeved v-neck that is easy to pull down for nursing. Sleeves can be rolled up if it gets hot or pulled down if I’m feeling cold (temperature regulation on planes is always pretty wonky, so I like to dress in layers)
  • A nursing tank (underneath the t-shirt)
  • An extra-large scarf: it can keep me warm, I can pull it off and use it as a lap blanket if my legs get cold, it works as an on-the-go nursing cover, and it makes for a quick game of peek-a-boo if baby gets fussy. And it’s kinda cute.
  • Stretchy leggings that I can pull down easily to pee if I need to carry the baby in the Ergo with me into the cramped little airplane bathroom. Plus they’re oh-so-comfy.
  • Shoes that I can easily slip on with one hand during the security check. No laces, buttons, snaps, etc.
  • I’d probably also bring a light jacket with me in case things get really chilly.

For baby: Dress him in something comfy that is easy to take on and off (if you need to do an in-flight diaper change you’ll be glad you choose a no-fuss outfit). Think: elastic waistbands or zippered pajamas–leave the cute outfit with a thousand buttons in your suitcase.*Note* Not all airplanes have changing tables, so you may be doing mid-flight changes on your lap!

Now that you have your bags packed and your clothes laid out, you’re ready for travel! Check back tomorrow for my tips on getting through the airport with little ones.

Why Having 2 Kids Isn't As Hard As Everyone Says

When I was pregnant with Jacob I had a lot of people tell me: “Watch out! Having two kids isn’t just twice as much work…it’s more like ten times as much work!”. Now, granted, I’ve only had two kids for 5 months now, but it’s really not as hard as everyone said it would be. In fact, I’d say that having 2 kids is not even twice as much work as having 1.

When I was teaching, I had up to 22 kids under my care for 6+ hours a day.  So, having only 2 kids that I love unconditionally feels like a pretty sweet deal (plus, they both still take naps. That helps). In both the school and the home scenario, though, the only way I’m able to manage kids is through a simple formula of routine, organization, and discipline.

On Routines
We have routines for everything in our day: wake up time, meal time, getting dressed, getting shoes and coats on when we have to leave the house, nap time, clean up, bath time, bed time.  We have David so well trained now that all I have to say is “it’s time for snack and story” and he cleans up all of his toys and goes to sit on the couch to wait for his snack. This allows me to get his snack ready while he’s cleaning up, and it means we have no battles over how this part of our day should go. We’ve practiced it a gazillion times and he just knows what to do and what to expect. The funny thing is, if we ever stray from our routine David gets really upset and tells us the “correct” way to do it!

On Organization
Organization is a huge help when you have kids. Having children is like living in the middle of a tornado–everything and everyone seem to be in a constant state of upheaval.

One of the most important parts of my personal organization is our schedule. I keep a fairly strict yet flexible schedule. What I mean by that is that we have a set plan for how each day in the week goes, but we adjust what that looks like as needed. For instance, Jacob can still nap in his carseat if we’re out and about during the day. I know, however, that when he’s older and won’t sleep in his carseat any more, I’ll have to be home for his naps and we’ll have to adjust our schedule to accommodate his new needs.

I also sit down every Sunday and fill out a weekly calendar that includes our activities, chores I need to do, errands that need to be run, our dinner menu, and even when I’ll exercise.

My weekly schedule

My weekly schedule

I write my schedule out on a magnetic whiteboard and I stick it on the front of my fridge. I like this method because it doesn’t require me pulling up an app on my phone and Jon can see it just as easily as I can. Plus, the teacher in me still likes writing on white boards. Having and keeping to a schedule allows your routines to be more effective because everyone knows what to expect each day.

Built into my schedule are things like dinner prep. I always prep dinner during the boys’ nap so that when it’s actually time to make dinner everything’s ready and I can just throw it in the pan (or, even better, it’s already in the crock pot or roasting in the oven and all I have to do is take it out to eat it). Really, if there’s anything I can do ahead of time to make my time with the boys go easier, I do it.

On Discipline
I’m not going to get too into this subject right now, because that could really be a whole series of posts on its own. And, admittedly, discipline is one of my weakest areas as a mother. But, I do know how important it is and I work at it every day. Here’s how discipline relates to my theme of managing the kids, though. Kids NEED boundaries. When the kids know what is expected of them, they tend to live up to those expectations.  When kids know there are consistent consequences to their actions, they learn how better to control their behavior. By me not spending 4 hours a day chasing wild banshees through my house (OK, that actually IS how most days are…) I can focus on more important tasks. We can move through our day more quickly, with more sanity, and have more time for the fun stuff when behavior is (mostly) in check.

So, that’s it. Having kids IS tough. I’ll never deny that. But with a little preparation and consistency, your job can be a whole lot easier!