Maternity Monday’s Workwear Report: Alexandra Maternity Dress

ALEXANDRA MATERNITY DRESSI think if I had an unlimited budget and were building a maternity wardrobe from scratch (and planned on having at least two kids) I’d want to start my shopping experience at Isabella Oliver — everything they make seems so professional, flattering, and sophisticated, it’s hard to compare it to hardly anything else out there considering so many brands think pregnant women want either bodycon dresses to emphasize the bump or hipster slouchy dresses with voluminous fabric. This black maxi dress is unusual for Isabella Oliver in that it’s not your typical knee-length sheath dress, but I kind of like it, particularly for a tall pregnant woman. I think as styled here, with tall boots, a prominent belt, and black tights, it looks great and professional enough for a casual day at even conservative offices. The dress is part of a big sale they’re having — it was $188, but is now marked to $111; use code DRESSTEN to take another 10% off any dresses.  Alexandra Maternity Dress

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  1. I like this dress but I’m not sure expensive maternity brands are so much better than inexpensive ones. I didn’t buy much for my second pregnancy so decided to splurge on a Seraphine dress and while it fit great and made me feel good, it started to look a bit tired after maybe 5-6 wears. The one nice thing about it was that many of the dresses I tried on from Seraphine looked flattering (vs the more hit or miss experience from other stores) but the fabric still felt shoddy on most items.

    • Moms Solo says:

      I found Isabella Oliver to be a big step up from all other maternity wear (including Seraphine). That said there’s always good stuff on their site that’s marked down, so I never bought something full price.

      • Agreed – I bought a few items on sale from IO and thought the quality was great and that their sales made the prices not terrible (though still on the splurge side). Unfortunately my first was born in the winter and #2 is due in late summer so I probably won’t get that many more wears the second time around. I ended up liking the styles a lot and discovered that they have a non-maternity brand.

        • Consider putting your stuff up on ThredUp or another consignment site to recoup some of that money. I bought a few maternity pieces there and was pleased with most of the items.

      • Legally Brunette says:

        I loved Isabella Oliver for tops, but not for dresses. I loved loved loved my Seraphine dresses and wore them constantly and they held up really well. I’ve actually never got so many compliments before as when I wore my Seraphine dresses.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      I got a Seraphine and an Isabella Oliver this pregnancy as my “important meeting” dresses and I got the Seraphine bump kit and I’d agree, the Isabella Oliver has held up EXTREMELY well and the Seraphine just… meh.

      If I had it to do over I would’ve invested in 2 or 3 good Isabella Oliver dresses early on for more variety.

      • Good to know! I am hopefully done with maternity clothes for ever after this month but nice to know that some quality brands exist. Come to think of it, I think I have an IO for Gap maternity dress that I bought the first time around and it is also pretty great – held up for both, and I actually was able to wear it a few times non-pregnant, with the belt lowered.

    • Anonymous says:

      My Seraphine dresses have held up pretty well (through one pregnancy) and one of them in particular is SO cute that I’m really wondering if I could get away with wearing it when not pregnant. I know I probably can’t, but I just love it so much and get compliments every time I wear it. I’m not planning to have a second baby so it makes me sad that soon I will never be able to wear it again….

  2. AwayEmily says:

    This weekend I had the “oh s**t, baby #2 could be here any day” moment (I’m 38.5 weeks). Any words of advice for making the transition easier for my 21-month old? She is in daycare from 8-5 but during the hours she’s home with us, she’s used to undivided attention from both me and her father. We’re also a very routine-oriented family (both AM and PM) and so I worry that throwing a new baby into the mix will be especially disruptive.

    My mother (who she loves and lives nearby) will come and stay with her during labor, which will probably be fine but also disorienting — she’s never babysat for more than an hour or so. And we are *not* pulling her out of daycare — she will keep going throughout my maternity leave.

    We’ve been reading the “big sister” books and talking about the baby but I feel like there’s more we should be doing, or situations we should be anticipating, or…something? I think I’m partly panicking because I just have no idea what to expect, so hearing others’ stories (good or bad) would be really helpful.

    • NOVA Anon says:

      In a similar boat, so following (37 weeks, with a 3YO) – so no first hand experience. But one thought I had – could you have your mom come stay one night this week before the big day, just so she can see first-hand what the morning and evening routines look like in practice? That way, she can try to replicate as much as possible.

      • AwayEmily says:

        This is a great idea — just texted to see if she can come over on Wednesday night. Thanks!

      • So we didn’t do much other than read the books and talk about the baby coming.

        We had a pretty detailed plan for where DD1 would be when I went for my scheduled induction, which of course went out the window when I was sent from an OB check up to the hospital (the day before Thanksgiving!) DD1 had a night at home with one Grandma, then went to the other Grandma’s house (and ended up sleeping over at my sister’s house–I got text updates but they seemed to have it under control so I just kept saying OK sounds great) There were no routines (the nightlights and lovies got packed, so she did have some of the usual comforts) but it was a great big adventure.

        The best thing I did was make sure that when DD1 came to visit in the hospital, I was not holding DD2 so I could pick up and hug DD1. I read that somewhere when preparing for the transition, and it let her have those few minutes of Mama time right away so she was ready to meet the baby. Also, for when you’re home and in that routine-disrupting few days, it helps the older one to hear “OK baby, I will come take care of you in a minute, right now I’m helping Big Sister” because the older one will hear the reverse so often. (that one comes from Siblings without Rivalry, which I would recommend in general, but that’s the only piece of advice from it you probably need in the first 6 months)

    • FTMinFL says:

      My son was 21 months when my daughter was born and we were about as hands off with preparation as we possibly could have been – we didn’t read any books, but did tell him that the bedroom next to his was his baby sister’s and told him her name. Rakma pretty much covered our post-birth strategy above.

      I just wanted to add, this may go much better than you think. 21 months is so young that your DD probably won’t remember a time without baby after a few weeks. The adjustment to a new sibling will likely be much harder for you than DD, so give yourself grace and put aside unnecessary anxiety (though I had aaaalllll the unnecessary anxiety toward the end of pregnancy since I couldn’t control anything about timing!). Fingers crossed for you!

    • Everlong says:

      DS1 was just shy of his second birthday when DS2 was born. We were in a similar spot in terms of being routine oriented and the fact that no one had ever even put DS1 to bed other than my husband or I. What worked for us was having my husband be at home with DS1 for the dinner/bedtime routine. He was able to get DS1 to bed and then my mom was fine overnight. DS1 was used to my mom being there in the AM on occasion so it wasn’t an issue for him. I was a scheduled c-section at noon with DS2 so that’s the only reason that worked for us the first night, but maybe subsequent nights for you after the baby is born this would work. We scheduled other people to come be in the hospital with me while husband was at home.

      The other advice I have is to keep the schedule the same as much as possible with your first. I have been surprised at how doable this is. Almost everything is the same for DS1 – baby just hangs out on me (babywearing is amazing), in his swing, etc. while DS1 gets what he needs.

    • I’m in the same boat, so following with great interest. If your kid is into Daniel Tiger, the show has a couple of episodes about this very thing actually so we’ve been watching those a lot (there is one on the baby coming and DT going to stay with his grandpa and a couple on adjusting to baby).

      My daughter spends a lot of time with her grandparents already so I am hoping that having them take care of her while I’m in the hospital will work out, but I think generally talking about it is a good idea.

    • Katala says:

      DS2 was 3 weeks early, but with some warning that it would happen within a week, and we had friends stay with DS1 that night (with their 7 month old). He’d never spent a night away from both of us. And it was all totally fine. They were going to let him stay up late playing and he led them upstairs to his room shortly after bedtime!

      We read books, watched daniel tiger and talked to him about the new baby, but at 20 months I’m not sure he ever got what was going to happen. And he had conveniently switched “favorite parent” from me to DH towards the end of my pregnancy, so he was happy to have Dad attention. He honestly barely noticed his brother until the baby was more mobile and could get into his stuff. Overall, the whole transition was much easier than I anticipated! Good luck!

    • Your little might be too young to understand, but with my niece was 3.5 when my son was born and she wasn’t prepared for:
      1) Me being incapacitated after giving birth. In the hospital she asked, “So are you coming to the beach with us later?” We explained that mommies are very tired after having a baby. We had to remind her to be “gentle” (not run at me full speed or throw herself on my lap).
      2) Baby doesn’t do anything. She’d never seen a newborn and was rather confused that he didn’t open his eyes or want to play with her. She seemed to take it rather personally.

    • AwayEmily says:

      These are all great pieces of advice/stories — thanks! I’m feeling a bit better about all this.

  3. Ugh, so Twin B has started all kinds of mean kid behavior with Twin A. A is probably mildly autistic (we’re still waiting for our appointment for testing) and B is an exceptionally sharp kid (A is bright, but he shows it differently). The boys are 3, will be 4 in March. A is sort of the baby of the family, both because he’s often a few months behind B in hitting certain milestones, and because he honestly is a little faker sometimes and pretends helplessness to get people to do things for him. Overall, B is a good brother to him and often goes out of his way to help A and to advocate for him. But he recently discovered meanness and is often also bossy. For example, A loves playing with a set of foam numbers they have. B usually prefers playing with the letters. The other night, he snatched the numbers A was playing with and ran into the next room with them. When A appeared, chasing B and crying, B laughed at him and waved the numbers at him to taunt him. The au pair says this is a thing that’s been happening. He’s also been telling A what he “can” and “can’t” do (e.g., “No, A, you can’t have apple juice. I’m having apple juice!”), and literally pushing him around.

    He’s been getting immediate time-outs for this kind of thing, with clear statements from all of us (me, my husband, the au pair, my MIL) that this kind of behavior is Not Okay. Is there anything else we should be doing? I’ll admit this is a major hot button for me. I’ve never been truly angry with either of my children before, but when I saw him laughing at his brother for crying, I saw red. I had to calm myself down before intervening because my instinct was to give B a hard smack! (There was no smacking, just firm talking and time out, but wow I never felt angry at my kid like that.) Any advice? I’m an only child so I also don’t have much experience from the other side.

    • PinkKeyboard says:

      Mine is still young (2.5) but a girl so it has happened a few times. We do the same, immediate discipline and talk about it along with an apology. The last time I can remember she was making fun of the baby at daycare because she had a granola bar and the baby did not. I took the granola bar, had a talk with her, and had her apologize to the baby (who really is 1 so I should stop calling her a baby). This may be an unpopular opinion but little kids can be pretty mean even if they are good little people, especially till they really develop empathy. It does make you see red like nobodies business though.

    • EB0220 says:

      My 3 year old often acts this way with her big sister (5). Older sister is chill and younger sister is very assertive. We try to let them sort it out for themselves, unless there’s a safety concern. I’m not sure what I would do if the kids were twins, but since 5 year old is 2.5 years older we figure she can handle it. We also think that 3 year old is doing this for attention so we try to tell her it’s not OK when we witness the behavior but not react too strongly. It’s definitely hard to handle when your kids are adversaries.

      • This is our strategy as well. We follow the Siblings Without Rivalry/Janet Lansbury methods of “sports casting” without intervening unless there is a safety concern. It keeps one child from becoming the perpetual victim and the other child from becoming the perpetual bully bc you really don’t take sides, ever.

        So in this instance we would say “Twin A seems upset because Twin B took his numbers. Twin B is laughing at Twin A when he is crying” If Twin A comes to ask for help I would say “that sounds like a problem that you can solve with Twin B. Can you talk to him about how you want the numbers? Or go and take the numbers back?”

        We’ve found that with our 2yo and 4yo this has opened them up to solving their own problems, and they are actually really good at it. Rarely does the conflict end in violence, and more often than not, they both move on rather quickly. Our 2yo has become surprisingly good at advocating for himself despite the fact that he has very few words.

        It takes a lot of practice to become “unruffled”, especially if you were a younger, bullied sibling like I was. It was so hard for me to not stand up for my youngest or get mad at the eldest when he was being mean. But the results have really been worth it.

        • This. My kids are in daycare and school, so we wanted to teach them how to deal with a bully (or not be a bully) even if there isn’t an immediate adult intervention. We try to follow the Siblings without Rivalry method described above, but we have to go back and re-read it every few months because it’s not how either of us were raised (and our “built-in” responses of screaming or punishing aren’t effective at all). We’re getting better at it though, so there’s hope that eventually this will become our built-in response.

          • Yes, we do a lot of re-visiting as well, as it takes some major mind shifting! I feel like I’ve read the first few chapters of that book so many times, ha.

            I wanted to also note that if it does end in violence, we are there to step in immediately with “I can’t let you hurt your brother, it seems like you need a break from each other before you solve this problem” I’m not sure if this is SWR approved, but we take the offending toy away from both of them if they get violent. So they both take a break and move on. This keeps us from taking sides, but also keeps anyone from getting hurt. it definitely takes a lot more active participation than I thought it would.

    • We’re dealing with a little bit of this too, but not twins so I don’t how much that changes things.
      I’ve been repeating constantly to my 4year old- “you are not a grown up”. When she’s bossing around the baby, or making proclamations, I am constantly reminding her that she does not get to make these decisions. Sometimes it’s even for things that are adorable and benign (Do you know what we should have for dinner? Chinese food! No, Daddy’s cooking, you don’t decide, you’re not a grownup.) It felt mean at first, but I think it’s a boundary thing, and honestly, I need her to stop trying to pick up the toddler or dictate where everyone sits at the table.

      In the moment, make sure that Twin A is getting attention for being the ‘injured party’. It’s hard, because your focus is on the negative actions and how to fix it, but it’s good for them both to see that the negative actions don’t get all of your attention, and even the punishment or talking too will happen after Twin A is calm and taken care of.

      • That’s a really good point. Fussing over A will be very effective, I think, both for A and for B.

    • POSITA says:

      We have similar stuff where our 4 yo is mean to our 1 yo. I’ve found that our 4 yo absolutely knows when she’s intentionally being mean. At the same time, she’s not yet sophisticated enough to only be mean when we’re not around or to hide her mean behavior. Eventually I’m sure she’ll get sneakier about it or the little one will start acting and we’ll have to reevaluate our strategy to prevent manipulation. For now, I feel like I need to protect the little one and set a good foundation.

      I tend to use a big stick for meanness–our oldest is warned that her favorite doll will go in time out if she’s mean to her sister. This works much better than me calling out specific behavior (no shoving, no snatching, no screaming in your sister’s face, etc). If I call out specific behavior, she just uses her smart brain to think of other more clever ways to be mean. If I say, no being mean or favorite toy goes in timeout, she is much better at self correcting.

      If I have time, another good strategy seems to be to take the younger sibling and start a fun activity (e.g., playdoh), giving lots of attention to younger sibling. I tell the older one she can’t play with us right now because she was mean and no one wants to play with someone who isn’t being nice. Then she’ll apologize to her sister. I’ll tell her she can join us as long as she’s nice. If she’s mean at all, she immediately gets kicked out of the activity with no further attention. This sometimes seems to break the mean-mood and everyone starts getting along and having fun. Often meanness seems to be born of boredom.

      My parents always took the approach that we should work it out with each other. This really caused lasting scars as adults. My brother was a bully and viewed as the favorite because he could abuse us physically and my parents would let him. I would rather monitor and selectively intervene than to allow a Lord of the Flies scenario.

      • POSITA says:

        For the record, this is the response when the little one is playing quietly and the 4 yo shows up to intentionally disrupt and be mean. We are less likely to weigh in on arguments when they’re playing together and have a dispute. It’s the intentional meanness that warrants punishment, not the disagreement.

    • i’m pregnant with twins and so scared my kids won’t get along! i have a sibling who is 3 years younger and we did get along pretty well until I was in middle school, but it all went downhill from there. Good luck!

  4. avocado says:

    My husband and daughter have been making noises about getting a dog for the past couple of years. I have been opposed to it because we had a bad experience with an aggressive dog that had to be returned when our daughter was a baby, because I am operating at maximum capacity and just don’t have the energy to take on any more responsibilities, and because we don’t have a laundry room or mudroom where we can keep the dog crate. However, every weekend I wish I could send my husband and/or daughter out to walk a dog, and I really want to give our daughter some of the wonderful experiences we both had growing up with dogs. I have been peeking at rescue websites off and on for a few months, and I’ve happened upon a dog I’d like to meet. She is the right size and breed and the foster family seems to have a really good read on her personality. Am I nuts to be considering this or should I mention it to my husband?

    • PinkKeyboard says:

      Mention it!! Our dog is a lot of work but we love him and he loves the kids. Plus on days my dimwitted husband leaves the FRONT DOOR WIDE OPEN at least there is 100 lbs of Shepherd starting through the storm door to repel burglars.

      • avocado says:

        Ha ha, this would be a 40-lb Golden Retriever mix so not quite the same deterrent. Goldens tend to welcome all visitors.

    • AwayEmily says:

      The biggest reason I would *not* get a dog is the extent to which it restricts your schedule. Someone has to be home right after work to walk the dog, it’s harder to take day trips because the dog can’t come, vacations require a layer of extra planning, etc. This is a big factor for me — I really being able to stop for dinner on the way home from daycare, etc, without having to worry about the dog.

      • avocado says:

        This is one of my biggest worries. My husband is consistently home by 5:45 and within the next year my kid will come home on the bus at 3:45 about two days a week, but we do take a lot of 12-hour day trips on the weekends.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        ^this. It’s almost (of course not exactly) like having another child!
        Getting up at night with whining/needing to go out to pee, unexpected vet visits/bills, having to arrange care when you travel, etc.

        • Anonymous says:

          I don’t think adopting an adult, house trained dog is remotely comparable to having a newborn. Our adult dog has always slept through the night, only very rarely has accidents in the house (usually when she’s ill), doesn’t chew on furniture or generate laundry, eats only twice a day and it takes 30 seconds to feed her instead of 30 minutes+, didn’t require us to do any kind of baby-proofing of our house, can be dropped off at a dog sitter whenever we want the flexibility to travel without her, etc etc. She requires about 1,000 times less attention than a newborn does. Puppies are way more high-maintenance than adult dogs, but still don’t compare to a human baby.

      • mascot says:

        I mean, it is another layer of planning and expense, but it’s not impossible. I say this as someone who has owned at least one dog for the past decade. We now have a 13 yr old dog, 9 year old dog, 7 yr old human- each of them add their own flair to our scheduling. That being said, a well-behaved housebroken adult dog is pretty low key. We get pet-sitters or dog walkers for travel. Both of our dogs have full house privileges (after they proved trustworthy) and sleep in our rooms at night.
        We also had to return a dog for aggressive issues so I understand the emotions and trauma that go with that. Can you take this one home for a week-long trial and see how it goes?

        • avocado says:

          I would not commit to adopting without a trial period. Right now I am at the stage of “should I even submit the application to this agency that didn’t bother to review our application the last time around until we’d waited six months and given up and adopted from another agency, just on the very slim chance that they might read the application, do a home visit, approve us, and let us meet the dog before it gets adopted out to someone else.”

      • Butter says:

        We got around this by finding a couple of neighborhood kids that do walks for our dog when we’re out of town. They get experience, it builds a sense of community in our neighborhood, and the dog is well taken care of (if anything her walks are longer!). It does require some trust but there are always legit licensed dogwalkers available if we need them.

        It does help that our dog is extremely easy going, lazy, and only requires two walks a day, 12 hours a part, so we never have to rush home to let her out or anything like that, and she waits to get up until we do. Yay for older dogs!

        The base message is that for us the daily joy of having a dog far outweighs the inconveniences of organizing her care when we go out of town or can’t get home for walks. Hearing my kid call her name when we walk in the door is the cutest thing in the world.

        • Butter says:

          Oh and we also don’t do the crate – she has run of the house while we’re home, is contained to just a part of the house when we’re not (most importantly, not the kitchen). She is not allowed on couches but has one chair she is allowed on. Dog beds on each floor to encourage her staying off the furniture.

    • My parents have two rescues and because they were abused, they can’t be crated. We’re talking major freak out try to chew through the wire until their gums bleed can’t be crated. So that has had a significant impact on my parents’ ability to travel since the dogs either need to come with or someone needs to stay at the house with them. That being said I think rescues have so much love to give and mom’s are so happy and so loyal that they are worth the trouble, but something to think about.

    • Anonymous says:

      Could you guys foster a dog as an audition? See how a dog works for your family and if it works, you can foster fail. If you find you’re taking on too much of the responsibility, you’re only in for a few weeks or months.

    • If this dog doesn’t work out, consider adopting from a Paws in Prison program. I have a grad from the Arkansas program and I live in New England. They can be transported. Graduates come with their Canine Good Citizen Certificate.

  5. Leatty says:

    I need a gut check. Do you take your kids to the doctor when you think they just have a cold? DD is 6 months old, and has cold symptoms(runny nose, congestion, occasional cough, mild fussiness). No fever, normal appetite, no difficulty breathing. I haven’t taken her to the doctor because it seems like just a cold, but I’m wondering if I should be more proactive. The last time I thought she had a cold, she had RSV. I dont want to be a neglectful parent, but I don’t want to rush her to the doctor unnecessarily.

    • Download the “PocketDoc” app from Johns Hopkins. You can put in the symptoms and it’ll tell you when to treat at home vs doctor visit vs ER.

    • Mama Llama says:

      In this situation I would usually call the pediatrician and ask what they think. I’m always paranoid about missing an ear infection.

      • This is what I do. I think I’ve taken her in for things like this twice. Once when the cough was really awful sounding and once when she had a rash that looked worrisome. Most doctors are pretty good on the phone and will tell you what to watch out for.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        ^This is why I started taking mine in for colds. He has asthma which was a factor, but every time I took him in because a cold was affecting his asthma they found a raging ear infection (like.. puss-filled) and I’d had no other indication. No fever, no pulling at his ears, etc.

      • This. My ped told me that if the cough goes on for more than 10 days, bring him in. I did that recently and LO was totally fine and the cough went away literally the next day. But it’s piece of mind for me and very little out of pocket expense. You can always call and speak to someone about symptoms.

      • Leatty says:

        I didn’t even think about doing that. Thanks for the idea!

    • DD2 was sick so much in her first year, and we took her to the doctor when 1) she had a fever for more than 48 hours 2) she screamed her head off all night 3) eye discharge. We had a 50% rate of something more than a cold vs just a virus she’ll be fine, but each time the doctors said they’d rather have a baby with a cold in the office than see them in the ER because it was the middle of the night when you realize it was worse than that.

      The symptoms you describe don’t fit what our own personal metric for when to go to the doctor, so I don’t think you’re neglectful at all. If you’re unsure, you can always try calling the doctor’s office and asking their advice. I’ve done that when I’m not sure what to look for (like when my oler daughter got bit by a tick, I didn’t know if that was worthy of a visit, and I got instructions for when it would be something they want to look at) I’ve also had a nurse say, it sounds like nothing, but the office is closed for the next 3 days, so why don’t you come in just in case.

    • Nope. I might call the pediatrician to let them know what’s up and confirm they don’t need to see her (5 months and 3 colds through), but unless the breathing is difficult, fast, labored, etc., there really isn’t much they can do and they don’t want to drag her in unnecessarily either. I always call for fevers, even low grade, but that’s the first-time mom in me.

    • So I personally err on the side of letting things run their course, but DH prefers to take our kiddo in. And I’m glad he does. Because almost every time, it’s something more than a cold (ear infection, eye infection, etc.) so I’m usually glad we’ve gone in. Things can escalate so fast when they’re little.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      No, I generally don’t. If she is acting normally, then I assume it’s a cold. But the last time my daughter had a cold she also had a weird barky cough that was unlike anything I’d heard from her before, so I took her in. I’ve also taken her in when she had a lot of eye goop, thinking that it could be a sign of an ear infection (the only time she’s had an ear infection, she had eye goop). I’m generally fairly laissez faire about these things (and so is our ped), but don’t hesitate to go if there’s something that strikes you as off or unusual.

    • Anonymous says:

      It depends. If it’s a cold plus fever, then yes. Cold plus really scary cough, yes. Cold and fast/labored breathing, definitely yes (if not urgent care/ER). But if it’s just a cold and no fever, then no we don’t.

    • I was raised by doctors and my parents’ standard procedure when we had cold-like symptoms (a runny nose, a little cough, a sore throat) was not to take us in unless we had difficulty breathing/ prolonged or high fever/ sounded raspy/ any other alarming symptoms (stridor, rash, etc). Of course, they usually knew what to look out for*, but I tend to approach childhood illness the same way: 1. if it’s cold symptoms and no fever, give it a couple of days. 2. If it’s not getting better, go in. 3. Trust your gut.

      * Fun story: in first grade, I complained one morning that I wasn’t feeling well. Mom took my temperature. No fever. She packed me off to school. By lunchtime I had swollen chipmunk cheeks. It was mumps.

    • Anonymous says:

      No, not without a fever, and then only after a few days. My son was in daycare and had the symptoms you described for most of every winter though. But I would definitely call if I was worried about something specific – they can often give you some guidance over the phone.

  6. Anonanonanon says:

    I thought of you all (specifically avocado) this weekend when the gloves I ordered for my son arrived. I got the 4 yo size (he’s 7.5) thinking SURELY they wouldn’t be huge…. AAAAAND my (average-sized adult) hands can fit into them. Sigh. Why are child gloves so huge?!

    • avocado says:

      Too funny! I think my soon-to-be-11-year-old is still wearing that size.

    • I replied late to the thread on gloves but Snowstoppers is my everything! They are “long sleeved” so they never fall off, they are really warm, and they make true to kid sizes. I have bought them for my kids for the last three years!

  7. Anonymous says:

    My 6.5 year old stepson has 2 sets of parents – his dad + me, his mother + stepdad. This weekend, at my house, he had a long emotional conversation with his dad and mentioned that stepdad is mean to him when stepson wakes up in the middle of the night with nightmares. On the main s!te today, someone said that they have nightmares more often when they are too hot. Any environmental changes DH & I could suggest, to help the 6.5 year old deal with his nightmares? This has become a problem only over the last couple of months, but he complains about nightmares daily. Also open to book suggestions, etc., to try to help stepson work through this issue.

    • This may not help, but at that age my mom told me that I could wish for certain dreams before I went to sleep and gave me a little magic phrase to say and it helped me relax before bed and sleep better as a result. Obviously, highly individual solution but maybe something to try out? Along the same lines, may be you can give him a dream catcher or something else symbolic?

      • That’s adorable, and would totally help with my stepson (to tell him he can wish for certain dreams). I believe he already has a dream catcher at his mom’s house, so maybe we should get one for ours too. Thanks!

    • Anon in NYC says:

      It’s so sad that his stepdad is mean to him when he has nightmares! He’s only 6.5! TBH, I don’t really have any answers for you. But here are some ideas off the top of my head.

      I personally sleep better when my environment is cool, so I will often crack a window even with freezing temps, and curl up under blankets.

      Is he watching videos / movies / tv before bed? Maybe he’s seeing things that scare him. Also, is he generally an anxious kid? If so, maybe his anxiety is manifesting in his dreams. Maybe school (or a classmate) is stressing him out.

      Do you notice a difference between your house and his mom’s and stepdad’s house? Does he have more nightmares there or vice versa?

      • Anonymous says:

        He definitely has more nightmares at mom+stepdad’s house, and they allow far more screen time (which is almost entirely unsupervised, and occasionally inappropriate). Yes he is an anxious kid, and yes that is surely part of what’s manifesting in his dreams. I’ll mention keeping his environment cool, thanks.

  8. CPA Lady says:

    Alert: I’m going to sound like an awful person and a super lax parent.

    Do any of you not do traditional dinner around the table on purpose (at least some of the time)? It is my least favorite part of the day. I’m exhausted at the end of the day, and I’m over it. I just wanna put on my sweatpants and sit on the couch. Instead, it’s like having dinner with a wild animal with bad manners who refuses to eat, complains, takes things off her plate, and crawls all over her chair and sometimes me and is defiant and tantrumy when I correct her or tell her no. It’s also the part of the day where I’m most frazzled and anxious. Family dinners growing up were terrible for reasons I won’t get into here, so I don’t have warm fuzzy memories of them to help me push through.

    My DH was out of town for work a few weeks ago and I let our child watch tv and eat in the living room and I ate in the kitchen. It was a huge wonderful relief but I also felt horribly guilty. Everything I read makes it sound like if you don’t have these perfect Norman Rockwell Family Dinners your kids will turn out stupid and unhealthy and it’ll be all your fault. It never occurred to me that there was any option other than trying to force it until today, when I suddenly thought… “maybe I don’t have to”…. Thoughts?

    • Anon in NYC says:

      I don’t do traditional family dinners, and probably won’t until my daughter is a little older / eats later / stays up later. I don’t want to eat dinner at 6:30pm. Growing up, I didn’t eat dinner until 7:30 or 8-ish. I walk in the door at around 6:15-ish now. I can’t cook dinner in 15 minutes (which is why my daughter gets mostly leftovers all week). Also, I find weekday evenings are generally the hardest times to parent for exactly the same reasons you mentioned – I’m exhausted, she’s cranky, and I just want to be done.

      We try to do lunch together on weekends – she’s far more pleasant then. I know a very successful dual-partner couple who do Family Breakfast and don’t bother with a family dinner at all. I personally don’t feel like the act of eating dinner together is what makes well-adjusted kids. I think that’s driven more by quality time where you focus on your kid and have conversations – which can occur at other times.

    • rakma says:

      DD1’s standard dinner request when I’m solo parenting: “A tunafish sandwich, cut up, on the couch while I watch my show.”

      We try to do family dinner most of the time (right now that’s actually the easiest way to get us all fed, but there’s also an adult in my house while I’m at work who is happy to cook, which makes this all 1000x easier) but when it’s too hard, or when it becomes a fight, or when I know she’s not going to eat which means she’s not going to go to bed which means I’m going to have a terrible week? Tunafish sandwich, on the couch, cut up while she watches her show. Maybe some cut up fruit if I’m feeling like pushing the line.

    • D. Meagle says:

      I am with you, except for the part about my memories of family dinner. Growing up, we ate dinner together as a family most weeknights, and I have fond memories of it. Now, I get home way too late to eat with my kids, so our nanny feeds them dinner, then my husband comes home and eats something and I graze once I get home. I feel really guilty about not doing family dinners, but when we try, it is just as painful as you describe. My daughter makes a giant mess and my son, who is super picky, declares everything disgusting, as only a 3yo can, and goes to play with his toys.

      What I try to do is have breakfast with them – I sit them at the kitchen island and they eat while I kind of eat and prepare lunches, we chat, and I feel like they are kind of getting the social benefits of eating together but at a time when we don’t all want to kill each other.

      PS – hardly any of my friends or family do “family dinners” where everyone eats together in harmony. Its usually in shifts.

    • Sabba says:

      My daughter eats much earlier than the rest of the family, so here is what we do. During the week, I make her food and sit down with her and try to be present. Honestly, though, half the time I am on my phone. If she gets too feral, dinner is over and food is removed and we go to playtime or bathtime. I do think there is a “CIO” component to eating and sometimes you have to put up with a few terrible nights of screaming to break a bad habit. We do a family dinner at least twice on the weekends though my husband and I usually eat a snack after she goes to bed because dinner was so early.

      I think everyone should just do what works for their situation. In your situation, I might do the TV thing once or twice a week (maybe joining your daughter in front of the TV sometimes) or just do it when DH is out of town. So not every night, but semi-regularly on an intentional schedule. Then, I would focus on having a traditional family dinner as many times as makes sense for you. We can only squeeze it in 2 or 3 times a week due to schedules. But I think it is important to model manners and behaviors and that things should get better over time. If you can take a few weeks with consistent strategies (whatever works for you) to break the habits that make mealtimes the worst for you, I think I would put the effort into that so that you don’t dread the time so much. Go ahead and put on sweats for dinner or make some other changes because you should change something if you are dreading it each day.

      • mascot says:

        I agree with the points about being present and modeling good table manners. We do family dinner most every night because that’s the time that works for us. Also, my kid is in elementary school so he’s able to wait until 6:30 or later to eat. When he was younger, we tried to do family breakfasts or lunches since dinner was generally early and fraught with peril. Some weeks/months were better than others. Dinners don’t have to be fancy. Saturday night, I threw a bunch of nibbles/left-overs on a plate and we ate them as snacks while playing a game. My husband is traveling a lot this month and I predict that we will eat cereal or eggs for dinner several times.
        One tradition that we’ve developed at dinner that I love is that we go around the table and everyone talks about a good part and a bad part of their day and something they are grateful for. We may be eating take-out and we may spend the rest of the meal getting the pokey puppy to finish up and get in the shower already. But, for those 5 minutes, we’ve re-connected.

    • Carine says:

      Eh I’m not sure dinner together every night is the only way to get those benefits. I’ve read (maybe in Laura Vanderkam’s I Know How She Does It or Gertchen Rubin’s the Happiness Project) that it’s not about dinnertime, exactly, but it’s the consistency of being together and talking every day that makes a difference in kids’ well-being – mealtimes are often ideal for having everyone in the same place so you can do family breakfast or snacktime after school instead, for example, or come up with something else that works for your family. I think it also depends on the age of the child. We do family dinner because it works for our schedule but we also have one night a week where we eat pizza and watch a movie in the den and I don’t really have to parent at all. At this point I don’t think my 2yo gets a great deal out of family dinner, but my 5yo does and I imagine it will be more important the older they get.

      All that is to say – routines are good and reassuring for kids and connecting is important, however you do it. Find something that works for you. If you really need and take that time to unwind and not be “on,” I bet it’s helping you be a better parent at other times and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it.

    • PregLawyer says:

      No way we could do family dinners. We have about an hour at the house between when we get home from daycare and when our kid goes to bed. That means one of us preps dinner while the other plays with my son; son eats dinner (usually reheated leftovers, sandwiches, frozen vegetables, i.e., anything we can get on the table in 15 minutes or less) while one of us sits with him and the other picks up/reads the mail/throws clothes in the wash/etc. Then my husband and I eat dinner around 7:30 after my son goes to bed.

      Maybe this will change when everyone gets older, but I don’t really care if it does. I’m kind of over the idea that there’s one way to be a good parent and a good family. So much of those suggestions do not take into account the realities of working parents, so they’re just not worth my time anymore.

      • Boston Legal Eagle says:

        “I’m kind of over the idea that there’s one way to be a good parent and a good family. So much of those suggestions do not take into account the realities of working parents, so they’re just not worth my time anymore.”

        +1,000,000 to this. There are so many variables in parenting that it’ll drive you crazy trying to meet some ideal parenting standards (which don’t guarantee anything anyway).

        In our house, we feed our son his dinner at around 6:30 (who usually rejects most things we give him, other than mac n cheese), then we do his bath while my husband cooks our dinner, and we eat after he’s in bed. That way, we can actually enjoy our dinner! We’ll probably try to do dinner as a family at some point when he’s older and actually eats (some) food that we also like. We try to do family breakfast on the weekends, and at least all sit at the table while my husband and I eat and my son has a few bites.

    • EB0220 says:

      One of our favorite things to do on a busy day or when my husband is traveling is a “pizza picnic” = order pizza, eat it on a blanket in the living room while watching TV/movie. I usually read while they’re watching something. It is wonderful, but not for every night. We always have family breakfast to provide that time together.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      You don’t sound awful.
      We rarely do family dinners. We will have at least one of us sit down with my son while he eats, but we usually eat after he goes to bed. We want to be at the table to talk about his day, instill table manners, etc. but we don’t want to eat at 6:00 so just sitting with him is a good compromise. We try to do family breakfast on the weekends, though.

      I grew up doing a lot of activities that meant I missed traditional dinner time, so I don’t have family dinner memories, and my husband grew up with a single mother who often worked night shift, so I don’t think he does either. That may factor into it.

      • Meiqi says:

        We do family dinners, every single night, even though we have three wild animals (3.5, 2.5 and 1). Dinners usually include time outs and tantrums, but at the step daughter’s other home, she isn’t even expected to sit in a chair, much less have table manners, so we are trying to maintain structure for her. She is also an extremely picky eater with severe constipation issues and we are fairly certain that the only vegetables she sees are at our house. My son, 2.5, will eat nearly anything put in front of him, even kale salad, but he is an Olympic level whiner. It’s almost like I’ve created a monster: I told him once that we were having pork loin for dinner and he said “Noooo, I want sushi!” The baby is a good eater so far, too, but she makes huge messes. Definitely no Norman Rockwell in our house! It helps that we eat at 7:00-7:30 and put the kids to bed at 9:00. We couldn’t do it if they slept any earlier. And we also disobey the other modern rules of parenting, like no spankings and no screen time. I definitely park my son in front of Sesame Street while I cook dinner and he will get a swat on the butt if he hits the baby or does something similarly egregious.

    • EP-er says:

      No, you’re not awful or super lax. We do family dinner because it works for us — I go into work at 6/6:30 AM so I am home at 4. We can cook dinner & eat as a family when my husband walks in the door at 6. Family breakfast can teach a lot of the same things (manners, talking about your day, asking questions, etc.) if that fits in better, especially on weekends.

      I would maybe think about eating while in front of the TV regularly, though. As a treat, awesome! Solo-parenting for a week, do what you need to! As a regular, every night thing, I would be worried about learning habits where TV is associated with food.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your kiddo is young right? I remember having similar feelings and feeling really bad about myself (also, food & media behaviors are part of what I study, so I had all kinds of FEELINGS about how hard it was to keep my kids at the table). I also compared myself to my best friend, whose kids are slightly older and just seemed so much better behaved at the table. Of course they were. They were older than mine. Ages 2-3 were SO TOUGH for family meals. They are crazy eaters, and dinner time is everyone’s meltdown time, and it’s just not the right time to set the highest bar for yourself.

      Even now, with older kids (school-aged), we do aim for family dinner every night, and sometimes it’s totally Norman Rockwell ish, but sometimes its still pure H E L L with someone or other complaining and whining and fighting and getting up and down and up and down. SO….do what you need to do, not what you feel you should do.

      • CPA Lady says:

        Thank you, this was so helpful to think about– she turned 3 a few months ago.

        And it’s not like I NEVER want to do family dinners– I do– it’s just that right now it’s a battle and it feels not worth it, especially when I’m there alone with her most of the time. I’m a complete hard-ass about some things, but this is maybe a place where I could chill out and just drop the guilt and pressure on myself and work on this when she’s a bit older.

  9. Patty Mayonnaise says:

    Any suggestions for a nursing-friendly dress (but pref not specifically a nursing dress) to wear to a graduation ceremony later this month? At work, i usually just zip down my regular sheaths to pump, but I’ll def have to feed my 10 month old st this event, so need something that can facilitate that. I also have big boobs, so lots of nursing specific clothing can look inappropriate or frumpy. Thanks, ladies!!

    • Anonymous says:

      maybe a stretchy jersey v-neck dress with a nursing cami for modesty? pull down/unsnap to feed? add a scarf for modesty if you prefer

    • avocado says:

      Wrap dress all the way.

    • Check out Pink Blush Maternity. I have a couple of their dresses which I’ve worn to events like you describe. I also have an ASOS maternity/nursing dress but I don’t like the quality as much.

      The other thing is, depending on what the venue is, you could see if there’s a private place for you to feed kiddo and just unzip a regular dress. I was in a wedding and thus my dress was not my choice and not b-feeding friendly. I went to a private room and unzipped to feed my son.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was in your situation a year ago! Randomly found the Berrydess Women’s 3/4 sleeve 1950s Vintage Lace a-line dress (link to follow) non-maternity / non-nursing specific dress for cheap on Ama zon. It looks MUCH nicer than the price tag would suggest (and I am a bit of a snob about fabrics and lace), and it worked great for nursing my then-9-month-old. It does not have ANY stretch at all though so you just sort of push aside one of the sides and pull your b* out.

      My bust looked amazing if I do say so myself (yay, nursing!). I was about a 34H when I wore this. I had to size up 2 sizes because the bodice is very tight. The a-line/flare skirt was forgiving on my hips (I’m pear-shaped). I love this dress!

      PS – it has POCKETS! :)

  10. Fun question: I am in need of a makeup refresh and would like to take some time to re-learn how to do an everyday face. Should I go to Sephora or Nordstrom for this?

    • avocado says:

      I would go to Sephora for foundation, primer, and powder because they will look across all brands to find the best fit for you. Then I’d go to Bobbi Brown or Trish McEvoy at Nordstrom for a natural everyday look for cheeks, eyes, and lips.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      Agree with avocado, Sephora for foundation and pick a brand at nordstrom for the other stuff. I’m partial to Lancome and have always had good luck there (and now I use all Lancome products). One great thing about being brand-loyal at department stores is all the freebies you can get through their promotions if you buy at the right time! I save all the samples for my “car makeup kit” aka the makeup I keep in my car for when I forgot I had a meeting that day and came to work with barely any makeup on and need to spruce myself up.

  11. Everlong says:

    Please plan a vacation for me or at least give me a plan of attack.

    We’re in Eastern PA. We are willing to drive up to 4 hours or would be open to flying 2-3 hours if I can comb the archives here and learn how to fly with little people. Target date is end of May. By then we will have a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old. As of now, the toddler does well in restaurants and enjoys milling around Target and wholesale clubs with us. The baby is too little to have an opinion. Pre-kids, our perfect vacation destination was Asheville, NC because it was the perfect combo of nature (hiking, Blue Ridge Parkway) and food (excellent, all excellent, and very veg/vegan friendly)!

    I’d love to do a national park and was looking at Shenandoah Valley, staying in Harrisonburg, VA. Is there enough to do? Where else should we consider? We’re more mountains people than beach people and have low expectations. I just want to get away and be outside.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think this is do-able. You could go visit Luray caverns, easy access to hiking in Shenandoah, and hit up wineries/cideries. VA wineries are kid-friendly in our experience, especially if they have good outdoor space where you can just let a little one run around.

      • octagon says:

        You don’t say how long you’re staying, but consider lodging in Luray (the caverns are great, and the older kid would probably get a kick out of the car museum next door). Another option would be to stay at one of the hotels/cabins in the park itself. Shenandoah is great but requires a lot of driving, so you may want to minimize distances to a bed at naptime or at the end of the day. There are some junior ranger programs that are fun though.

  12. It’s normal for my ten month old to hate bedtime stories, right? DH is obsessed with reading him a story right before bed, but LO just wants to grab the book and tear it up. When he realizes he can’t do that, he wiggles until he’s out of DH’s lap and then tries to leave. Should we keep doing bedtime book or give it up til he’s older?

    • He might be too tired? My 5mo will enjoy a story or two if he hasn’t been kept up too late. Otherwise, he melts down and any effort to read is completely in vain (though like yours, my DH tries).

      I think wanting to tear or eat the book is kinda age appropriate tho? We read only board books for this reason.

    • Anon. says:

      Give. It. Up. Mine didn’t start tolerating a (VERY short) book until 12-13 months and even then it was sporadic.

    • My kid went through this for a few weeks around this age. We went with shorter books, often with a tactile component. Your husband could also tell him a story without a book, possibly making a song out of it, if he wanted a little bit of special time. Also, the more tired my child is, the less she wants to sit for a story. She’ll sink right down to slide out of a lap.

    • AwayEmily says:

      Counterpoint: our now-21-month had similar struggles focusing on books. Starting when she was pretty little, we made it part of her bedtime routine, but she was never really into it. Finally at around 18 months it “clicked” and now she actually seems to enjoy the pre-bed books. The thing is, she’s NOT into books during the rest of the day (if we ask “do you want to read a book?” she’ll inevitably say “NOOOOOO”) so I now really appreciate that we made it a non-negotiable part of the bedtime routine — she doesn’t even see opting out of bedtime reading as an option since we’ve always done it, which means she has some guaranteed exposure to reading.

      In terms of the wriggling out part — could you do it in your bed? We put her in between us in our bed so we had “human walls” on either side to contain her. Sometimes the book reading devolved into Child Containment Party but that was fun its own way.

  13. All my 10-month-olds want to do is chew on books, so you’re not alone.

  14. I just returned from my 3 month maternity leave and am suffering from major senioritis. I didn’t love my job before going out, but also didn’t absolutely dread going like I do now. I know a large part of it is because I miss my daughter. I know I need to work for my own sanity and to pay the bills, but I hate feeling like I don’t care. Does this fade?

    • It does! I know it’s miserable right now, but honestly it does get better. This is coming from someone who spent half of my first day back texting a fellow mom things like “I hate working.” and “I can’t do this.” She told me to be nice to myself, don’t try to be super productive and give it some time and my feelings would improve. They did. Drink extra coffee! Enjoy adult conversation! Take a nap at your desk! Ok maybe not that one. Just know that your LO is benefitting from having another caregiver who loves him/her and can provide things you can’t (even if it’s just a different personality to interact with). It was SO HARD to leave my LO at day care that first week/month but he is more social, better-adjusted and behaves better for them than he does for me now. Some days it’s still hard but I take comfort in knowing I’m doing what’s best for him and me right now and that is working (even if I don’t love this job).

    • It will get better! Going back to work is SO HARD, even when you like your job. Being a working mom during the baby phase is just tough, and I promise it gets better when you’re back into the swing of things, not completely sleep deprived, and not (as) hormonal.

  15. Butter says:

    Piggybacking on the vacation post above – favorite roadtrips from Chicago with a toddler and a dog in tow? Looking for options 2-5 hours away driving, and would love options for all year round.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you like exploring new cities, I think Indianapolis is super underrated. I live in the Indy burbs (with a toddler and dog) and we love the city. The Children’s Museum is one of the best in the country, and there are a ton of great restaurants. It’s not a city I would fly halfway across the country to spend a week in, but it would be a great weekend roadtrip from Chicago. It’s a ~3 hour drive.

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