Maternity Monday: Black Zip Detail Maternity Dress

My favorite maternity dress I bought myself was by Seraphine, and when I was recently browsing their site, I came across this dress and knew I had to recommend it. I think this is a great maternity work dress, but it can even be worn to a more casual wedding. I like the well-placed zippers and the notched neckline and sleeves — and it’s machine washable. I’m not crazy about the way it’s styled in some of the photos (what’s the point of nude shoes when wearing black tights??), but it does show the dress’s versatility. The reviews are very positive, and I like that many of them mention that the material is thick. The dress is $109 at in sizes 2–14. Black Zip Detail Maternity Dress

Building a maternity wardrobe for work? Check out our page with more suggestions along both classic and trendy/seasonal lines.

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  1. Redux says:

    Help me settle a silly debate with my DH:

    What do you call the various living spaces in your house? What is the difference between a living room, family room, and den? What is a great room?

    We’ve lived together for 13 years, all in small places that had only one living area, which we’ve always called the “living room.” We’re soon moving into a place with multiple living rooms for the first time (!), and cannot agree on how to refer to the different rooms. Growing up we called our two living rooms “the living room” (where the TV and couches were), and the “formal living room” (which we were under no circumstance to enter ever. HA!). My husband had a “living room” a “den” and a “sitting room” growing up, and now he’s tossed “great room” into the mix because our new place has an open kitchen/living space which he thinks makes it “great.” Probably a lot of difference lies in the region you grew up, and I’m so curious– what do you name your living rooms and why (and where did you grow up)?

    • avocado says:

      To me a “great room” is an open kitchen/living space, usually gigantic with a high ceiling, where the two spaces flow directly into one another.

      A “family room” is the primary informal gathering spot and usually contains the TV. The family room is usually connected to the kitchen and is located towards the rear of the house. A “living room” is the primary formal sitting area and does not usually contain a TV, but may contain a piano.The living room is often connected to the formal dining room and is located towards the front of the house. If there is only one living space, it’s the “living room.” A “sitting room” might be a more private space, e.g. a small sitting area off the master bedroom, or it might be a third public space that is probably smaller than the formal living room and is where you would receive visitors.

      • avocado says:

        And a “den” is a smaller, secondary TV room.

        • I think of a den as an office. It may or may not include a tv. Otherwise, I’m with you on most of the above. However, I think “great room” is becoming less “great” with open concepts being more common.
          Older great rooms might be gigantic with a high ceiling, but now I think of it as any open and combined kitchen/living/dining space. Midwest, FWIW. I’ve also called a formal living room a parlor.

    • mascot says:

      Grew up in the SEUS
      Great room- two story room, generally open to space above with a balcony across the top that connects stairs or upstairs hallway. Ours is separated from the foyer by a hallway, but is open across the ceiling.
      Family room- what we call our main living space (technically it’s a great room based on the above). Interchangeable with den, although I think of dens as being a bit more cozy.
      Living room- more formal living space, particularly if you have another space designated as family room/den.
      Sitting room/area- part of another room, like in a master suite. In a kitchen, I’d call it a keeping room- ours has a sitting area and fireplace that is on the other side of the kitchen from the dining area.
      Sunroom- enclosed porch.

      • Mrs. Jones says:

        Ditto what mascot said.

        • Anonymous says:

          Also in the SEUS: parlor. What is one and how can I know if I am in one (or if my old house has one)?

          I do know what a sleeping porch is :)

          Varsity topic: how do you know when a walk in closet has officially become a dressing room? Is it the presence of seating and a vanity?

          • Redux says:


            How about powder room and bathroom? Is this the same as a half-bath and a full-bath distinction?

          • Lana Del Raygun says:

            If you’re wearing a large hat and drinking tea out of hundred-year-old bone china, you’re in a parlor.

          • mascot says:

            I’d venture that a parlor is the same as a formal living room. Public space in the home to receive guests. Preferably complete with uncomfortable furniture and lots of breakables- you don’t want these guests to overstay their welcome.
            Same with the powder room- bare necessities only, they aren’t moving in. Please display, but do not use, the fancy guest towels.

      • Anonymous says:

        Agreed. We refer to our formal first floor living room (white couches, glass coffeetable, fireplace) as our living room and our basement space with a large sectional couch and a TV and air hockey table as our family room. We pretty much only use the living room when we have guests.

    • I’m with your husband on this one. Growing up we called the equivalent of your Formal Luving Room just the living room and the room with the TVs was the family room/den. In my husband’s family they referred to their rooms the same way mine did. Could be a regional difference if you and your husband are from different areas or if each of your parents is from diff areas

    • octagon says:

      We have the living room and the family room. The living room is for conversation and reading. The family room is for toys and the television. Both are open rooms, if that makes sense — no doors.

      Growing up we had a living room and a den. The television was in the den, which had doors to close it off.

    • Lana Del Raygun says:

      East Coast: I would say a family room or den is more closed off and a living room is where you sit with guests. You can also sit in your own living room, of course, and my family reads in both. If you only have one, it’s a living room; if you have two the second is a family room or a den. The more closed off and buried in the house it is, the more likely it is to be a den. If it has video games or is in the basement, it’s probably a den, unless it has lots of toys and is a playroom.

      I think a great room has high ceilings and velvet wallpaper and a fireplace and giant paintings (Gilbert Stuart portrait of one of your ancestors, probably, and a scene from the First Battle of Bull flanked by an Allegory of the Muses diptych), but this seems to be an outlier opinion.

      • I agree that a great room definitely has wood paneling with dead birds and fruit awkwardly carved into it, a large roaring fireplace, less than adequate insulation and lighting, and a bearskin rug. In a great room you consume alcohol, possibly tea, definitely whiskey.

        From growing up in a large, noisy Asian family…

        Living room: where you sit with guests (otherwise it’s DO NOT ENTER territory). Food and beverages are occasionally consumed in living rooms, but only when guests are present, and only in minute quantities from little trays of candied nuts and bonbons on the coffee table. Other beverages consumed include small glasses of the orange soda your grandmother reserves for visitors, each glass carefully placed on its own cork coaster. Said glasses are also 3/4 full of ice that is quietly melting because everyone is too polite to take more than a single sip, and sweating condensation so that surface tension causes the coaster to stick to the bottom of the glass when you pick it up.

        Family room: mostly enclosed space that contains the TV and comfortable couches. TV-watching, lounging about with a book, lying on the rug playing with trucks, and family conversation happen here. Everyone removes to the family room after dinner to relax and watch the news or a Cantonese drama serial. When extended family is over, the grownups crack open a beer and the conversation turns loud and boisterous. You are then shooed off to bed.

    • Our “family room” was the couches, TV, etc. Our “living room” was – I now realize ironically – the “do not enter” room except for practicing piano, violin and cello. It’s where my mom taught music lessons, held our piano (obviously), and had white carpet (!) and fancy furniture.

      • Yes, our DO NOT ENTER “formal living room” had white carpet, a white couch, and one of those globes that opens to reveal a collection of alcohol.

      • Spirograph says:

        Growing up was the same as my house now:
        Living room = piano, nice couch. Only for reading, grown-up entertaining, and playing musical instruments.
        Family room = tv, toys, not-as-nice couch

        My family room now is in the finished basement. As a kid, they were both on the main floor, but separated. In the one house where they were adjacent, there were french doors in between.

    • Anonymous says:

      haha, we have this problem at our new house. Our solution was to designate each of the rooms with a name so we agree which room we’re talking about. Rather than trying to fit some kind of description that will have value outside of the house, we arbritrarily chose “the parlor” (has tv, couches, fireplace), “the sitting room” (near the kitchen, currently unfurnished but will have wingback chairs, couch, coffee table, some storage, maybe a tv), and “the library” (books, sofas, playroom; specifically will be tv-free).

      • When I read the first line of this reply, I was really hoping you’d chosen actual names like “Mabel” and “Harvey” for your house’s rooms.

        • Lana Del Raygun says:

          I used to know a guy who named all of the rooms in his house after fictional places. Like he would say “Would you like to come into Rivendell and have some coffee?” and you’d be like “…sorry, where?” and he would gesture and you’d be like “Oh, the living room?”

        • I grew up in a house with a weird little half wall between the kitchen and living room that we didn’t know what to call. Someone, either me (6) or my sister (8) christened it “George” shortly after we moved in and the name stuck, so we would regularly say things like “have you seen this thing I left on the George” for 15 years…

    • Seafinch says:

      Growing up on the East Coast of Canada, the formal living room (which we used all the time) was called the Front Room and room with the TV in it was called the Family Room. But we also said “Chesterfield” not sofa or couch.

  2. I had this dress! It’s awesome. I even wore it on an interview at my peak pregnant and felt like a million bucks. It did start to wear towards the end of pregnancy so I’d say if you’re trying to justify the price by thinking you’ll wear it for multiple pregnancies, I’d rethink; but for me it was well worth it anyway just to feel professional at work when I was otherwise feeling pretty off.

  3. I need a really good bday gift for a soon to be 1 year old that I can order and have delivered in the next few days. Yikes. Anyone have any “go-to” gift ideas? TIA!

    • My default is always a Mozart Music Cube, which you can get from amazon in 2 days. I can tell you as a parent that has one it’s one of the few “non-annoying” baby musical items we have. You can a couple of board books about music if you want something “more.”

      We also have one of those Baby Einstein musical aquariums that you can put on a crib, which can be a nice gift. Although I think my daughter if more into it at 2.5 than she was at 1.

    • Anonymous says:

      Little People Camper. Any sort of push toy. Music table. Nice wooden blocks. Duplos.

    • Matthew van Fleet book? We got “Dance” for our son’s first bday and it’s still a favorite at 2.

    • +1 for the Mozart cube. My six year old still plays with hers.
      If you want something with less noise: Duplos, pajamas, trucks (or ambulances, or school bus, or garbage truck.)

    • A big box of Lego Duplos is our go-to 1yo gift.

    • avocado says:

      I like the Green Toys dump truck or car carrier.

    • If weather is conducive to outdoor play for the next few months, bubble machine – we got so much mileage out of that thing. Useful for outdoor birthday parties as well.
      Also Duplos, a basic train set, a Magna Doodle and a set of shape magnets. And lots of books! Sandra Boynton or Curious George board book set?

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve done memberships to a local children’s museum but those are not cheap.

    • Moms Solo says:

      Just was recipient of one-year-old gifts. Gifts I really appreciated: box set of The Chronicles of Narnia, National Park Passport. Stuff one-year-old really appreciated: John Deere Animal Hayride toy

    • Things I or our family have bought my soon to be 1 year old in 2 weeks:

      – Mega Bloks set (and the folding table they sell) – opened early and she LOVES them (as did the 18 month old and 3 year old who came to visit – so long-lasting).
      – Pottery Barn My First Anywhere chair (not opened yet)
      – Radio Flyer Wagon (not opened yet)
      – some sort of musical soccer ball (accidentally kicked in the box and adored, but since put out of sight for the time being so it can be opened with Grammy)
      – a mallot and ball set that the balls zig zag out the bottom (not opened yet, but she loves the one from my childhood at Grammy’s – the discovery toys tugboat is similar but way more expensive)
      – rocking horse

      Things I want to get her that my husband (perhaps justifiably) vetoed:
      -water table
      -play kitchen
      -learning tower (we’re going to wait until she’s a little more stable)
      -bubble machine
      -“popocorn” push toy
      – drum set

  4. I didn’t have this dress but I lived in Seraphine dresses when I was pregnant and got so many compliments on them. Worth the cost.

    My husband decided he really wants to go to the Bahamas toward the end of August (so in a few weeks). He is busy looking for accommodations and flights. Anyone have tips on what to do/where to stay in the Bahamas? It will be husband, myself, two kids (3 and 5) and my MIL. We would want to stay in a condo/home that has a full kitchen, would rather not do an all inclusive or hotel. Obviously we will spend a lot of time on the beach but looking for other ideas as well (MIL doesn’t swim, so there’s that). Thanks!

    • Anonymous says:

      I loved Seraphine too!

      Atlantis is great for kids that age but is obviously a resort.

    • Anonymous says:

      The main thing to do is the beach. If you want more than that stay at Atlantis.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      No tips for the Bahamas, but I would urge you to find a place that has a pool. We went to Turks and Caicos with my daughter just before she turned 3 and she was terrified of the ocean and hated the sand. We hung out by the pool every day except for one.

  5. Double-Bingo says:

    My 17 month old has started informing us when she needs to poop. We should embrace the opportunity to introduce the potty, right? I was thinking of just sticking a potty seat in the bathroom, and when she makes an announcement (“Mama, I poo”), put her on it. Is this going to be useful at all, given how young she is? Is there any point without buy-in/reinforcement from daycare? She is switching to a new place after Labor Day, so maybe we wait to try then?
    I had envisioned waiting until she is closer to 2.5 and doing the weekend boot camp method, so the prospect of trying something else now has me flustered.

    • CPA Lady says:

      I would just keep her in diapers but let her go on the potty when she says she needs to. Then pull the diaper back up, like a pull up (if it’s still dry). At her age, it may be a passing fancy. If not, count yourself very lucky. My daughter pee trained herself basically immediately upon entering the 2 year old daycare classroom, since they spend at least 50% of their day going to the potty and she was very into doing what everyone else was doing. She was routinely dry way before I put her in just panties. Once she showed a lot of interest, which was supported by her teachers, I put panties on over her diaper to keep it fun for her but easy for her teachers in case she had an accident. Once she was solidly trained for a few months with minimal accidents, I switched to just panties. I could have bought pull ups, but they are more expensive and less absorbent so I never bothered.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes! Do it! While you most certainly don’t have to, if she is showing an inclination to it, there is no reason a 17 month old child can’t be potty trained, partially or fully. I know several that were.

    • Anonymous says:

      FWIW– and this is entirely secondhand– our day care teachers told us a lot of kids get REALLY interested in potty at 18 months and are definitely not ready for training. So we got a little $5 IKEA one for ours and let her sit on it if she wants, but we’re definitely not officially POTTY TRAINING till closer to 3. I don’t think it hurts but I wouldn’t get invested, this seems to be a super common phase.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes this. It’s pretty rare for a kid that young to have the ability to hold it or predict when they need the bathroom.

    • My kid did this too and I wholly encouraged it. Three months later, she isn’t potty trained, but she’s on her way. We have a potty on each level of the house and if she tells us she has to go, she sits down and uses it. We also sit on it before bed. With a kid this little, potty training doesn’t seem to be the weekend exercise that it can be for older children. It’s more of a process. I read Diaper Free before 3 and quite enjoyed it.

  6. NYtoCO says:


    Looking for suggestions on how to fly with an infant. Specifically, what equipment to bring/leave at home. We’ll be taking 3 hours flights (there and back) with her at 2.5 months to a wedding. She won’t have her own seat. We’ll be renting a car at the destination. Do we leave our car seat at home, only do babywearing and use a car seat that comes with the rental car? Do we bring her car seat and stroller (ub cruz)? If so, what do we check and what do we bring on the plane?

    Additionally, any general suggestions for flying with a young baby are much appreciated. Will (hopefully) be exclusively BF.

    • If she won’t have her own seat then I would recommend babywearing in the airport and renting a carseat from the rental car company. We have done this many times and have never had an issue. Just make sure to reserve it ahead of time and note it needs to be an infant seat (you might want to call the day before just to be sure…those people sometimes don’t really know the difference). On the stroller, I think it depends on what you’ll be doing. We always just left the stroller at home because we typically do a lot of hiking/walking on our trips so we would babywear the whole time. But if you’re not sure whether you and/or your baby will like babywearing the whole time then it might be good to bring a stroller. We flew a ton when my oldest was little so I wrote up everything I remember from that (in link) in case it’s helpful!

    • Excellent age to travel! At this age I brought the infant bucket seat + car seat frame, which doubled as a luggage trolley. I asked on every flight if there was an extra seat, and if there is they will usually reseat you so you can just keep the baby in the carseat. Otherwise babywear or at that age they’re so small they just sleep in your arms like a little lump (caveat, mine didn’t have colic!).

      If there was no seat for the carseat, I gate-checked the stroller frame + carseat. I bought one of those red gate check bags and reinforced the seams with duct tape per some reviews I read online. Several flights later and both have survived unscathed.

      I called ahead at every hotel to make sure they had a pack n play. We brought our own pack n play liner + sheets because at that age there were still diaper blowouts rather frequently.

      If you are EBF, this is a great age to travel bc you really don’t need anything feeding-wise, unless you plan to be away from baby part of the time and will need to pump. I also pump and dumped after drinking back then (though I’ve since read you don’t really need to do this, I probably still would for such a tiny baby just in case). So, I had to bring all the pumping nonsense but luckily that counts as a medical device and not part of carryon allowance (ditto for diaper bag – does not count as part of carryon).

      Good luck! Really, that age is great for travel. Baby is so portable.

    • AwayEmily says:

      Bring the car seat plus whatever stroller it locks into. It’s super easy — they will gate check for free so you get to wheel it all the way down the jetway.

      Just to emphasize how easy it is: I just traveled by myself with an infant and still brought the stroller + carseat (I wore him in the Ergo onto the plane). Especially with two of you you shouldn’t have to check anything — you get a “bonus bag” with the baby so you can each bring your own carry-on plus a diaper bag for the baby.

      Make sure you know how to attach the carseat to the car without the base.

      • Anonymous says:

        +1 to bringing your own seat

        Sometimes rental companies don’t have a spare or it has just been returned with vomit on it or the seat turns out to be a booster seat not an infant with a floppy head seat.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, definitely bring your car seat! You can check it with the luggage or at the gate, but there is no guarantee you’ll get an infant-appropriate seat at the rental agency, even if you call ahead of time and they promise you.

          My personal preference is for gate-check so it’s less likely to get lost, but some people don’t want to deal with bringing the seat through security.

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes! We rented one and brought one and THANKfULLY we brought the convertible because we ended up being given a high back FF only car seat when I’d reserved an infant one. My kid was 7 months. Luckily we just popped my toddler into the rental and adjusted the straps on our convertible so the baby could rear face.

    • Anonymous says:

      We flew with our daughter at a similar age. I’d encourage you to rethink buying her a seat. It’s safer and it’s easier for babies to sleep in a car seat than in parents arms. I wouldn’t be enthusiastic about renting a car seat with a rental car since you have no idea how old or dirty it will be. I guess you can gatecheck the car seat but then it may get damaged. Honestly I find flying with babies a breeze and none of my friends do and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we spring for baby to have her own seat. Everyon will be happier that way.
      We didn’t bring a stroller -DH is strong enough to carry baby and car seat through the airport and we took Lyfts at our destination. If I were traveling alone I would have needed the stroller at the airport and gate checked it.

    • Definitely bring the baby carrier – even if you do bring the stroller, the carrier is useful for soothing fussy baby, discreetly nursing, wearing baby to sleep at the wedding if you don’t want to be stuck in a dark hotel room, etc. I would wear baby through security and gate check the car seat and stroller.

      Is your destination a city or somewhere less urban? How many days is the trip? Do you foresee getting out and doing tourist-y things, or are you more likely to be chilling out with friends? What’s the lodging situation – will you need to call the hotel and request a pack & play?

    • I did something similar at almost the same age and with the same stroller. Brought the stroller base and car seat to gate check. Booked the aisle and window seat and ended up having the middle seat empty on way to destination so we used the car seat for baby to sit there; on way back, plane was full and we gate checked car seat. Buy one of those gate check bags on amazon or at Buy Buy Baby. We bought the UB bag for the stroller, which was great (you can always find them barely used on CL or Ebay for less, too), but you could also just get a generic gate check bag. You want to pack it in something to avoid dirt, rain, etc. Bonus – you can throw in some random extras in there like a coat, shoes, whatever. I would not trust rental car car seat because I’ve heard too many stories of the wrong size/kind, filthy seat, etc., on arrival. And anyway, you’ll want a stroller when traveling with an infant for naps, restaurants, etc. It’s actually a lot easier to travel with them at this age because the car seat + stroller base combo makes it so easy. Bringing our infant seat was much easier than bringing a toddler seat!

      My other tips: nurse on take off and landing, if you can, because it helps with ear clogging, BUT if you can’t don’t stress out – a pacifier does the same thing! Bring a baby carrier with you on the plane in case baby is super fussy and you have to walk up and down the aisle with her. Also – anecdotal but I think in the event of a crying baby, passengers are nicer about it when it’s the dad dealing with the baby vs. the mom. If you haven’t booked tickets yet, check to see that your airline has a changing table in the bathroom, not all do. Also, it doesn’t hurt to get to the gate early and ask the agent about any empty seats. If the plane isn’t full, they may seat you somewhere with an empty seat. Finally, I recommend taking one bigger suitcase and check it. I am normally a carry on person but with a baby and all that gear, I found it easier to just throw all our stuff into one big suitcase and checking it so that we could have one less thing to lug around.

    • We traveled with mine at both 2.5 months and 3.5 months and he never had his own seat. The first trip we brought the car seat + stroller framer through security. In my opinion, it was not worth the hassle of taking it all apart to get it on the x-ray, taking baby in and out, folding it up and putting it in the bag to gate check etc. Second trip (and all subsequent) we checked the car seat and stroller in the red gate check bags pre-security and I baby wear through the airport. The one time I traveled entirely alone, I used the rental car baby seat and was not super impressed — I’m sure it was safe etc, but I didn’t feel as confident with installation as I do with my own and baby wasn’t as comfortable. In the airport, I aim for minimalist: I carry the baby. Husband carries his backpack and the diaper bag (which includes my ‘purse’ items).

      For the hotel: call ahead to reserve pack ‘n play. Bring your own pnp sheet to make it smell/feel as close to home as possible. Also bring noise machine if you use one. And this is going to sound odd perhaps, but after multiple hotel stays we have learned that all three of us sleep best if baby sleeps in pnp in the hotel bathroom (unless we have a two-room suite). Bathroom is darker and quieter and let’s us stay up post baby bedtime.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Need a second to rant. Finally got the courage to go off my diclegis at 22 weeks after having really bad morning sickness… the first day went well, but of course it’s Monday morning and the vomiting is back. To top it off I got splashed in the face by toilet water after a particularly bad episode right as I was ready to walk out the door to work. Back on diclegis I go tonight… until then, this Monday is going to be miserable.

    • Hugs from a diclegis until 38w and 2d when I delivered Mama.

    • rosie says:

      Aww, the toilet water splash is just insult to injury…I know the feeling. Hang in there (from another diclegis-for-the-length-of-it mama)!

    • anne-on says:

      Man I wish diclegis was approved when I was pregnant. I had hyderemeis and threw up until I gave birth (and threw up plenty while in labor for good measure, yay!). Zofran was not covered by my stupid insurance, so I say take the meds! Enjoy not being so sick – there is no reason to suffer.

  8. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to not worry about saving my milk on my last business trip – it was sooo much easier not worrying about cleaning and sterilizing and keeping everything cold. I made a lot of use of my manual pump, maybe because the batteries on my electric were so anemic.

    And the best part was, LO still wanted to nurse when I got back! I really think I’m more sad about weaning than he is.

  9. Due in December says:

    When and how did you begin telling your kids about work trips (or other times one parent would be away)?

    I’ve gone on maybe 2-3 week long work trips a year since 2.5 year old was born, and have also taken a few long weekends with friends (leaving the kiddo with my husband). While I always tell her when I’m leaving for the day to go to work, typically I haven’t told her ahead of time I’d be gone for a number of days since she didn’t have a good concept of time. I’d just put her down to bed at night and be gone in the morning.

    Last trip, I think she asked for me / was upset I wasn’t there in the morning more than usual. This was a few months ago. I have another week long work trip coming up in a couple weeks. Should I tell her about it before I go, or will that just make her upset? When did you start explaining this to kids, and how?

    • avocado says:

      I started traveling when my kid was around 18 months old. I would tell her the day before I left that I was going on a trip and would be gone for X number of nights. I would also tell her about whatever special plans Daddy and/or Grandma had for her while I was gone. Most of the kids at day care had parents who traveled at least occasionally, so it all seemed perfectly normal to her. She never got upset about my travel until she was in kindergarten.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Counterpoint: kiddo gets really upset when I leave her. She is fine when she is leaving me. So I’ve always made a big deal about her “getting” to go spend time with daddy, while I “have” to be by myself. She’s also an extrovert beyond compare, so this might be a “know your kid” thing! It also helps that when I leave, she leaves too – usually to stay with her dad, but sometimes to stay with grandparents. So she can focus on her imminent adventure, instead of on me leaving her.

    • Following!

      Mine is 1, so he doesn’t actually understand the concept like you say, but fwiw we always explain to him what is happening. But I could see this def being a know your kid – I suppose if he starts to get freaked out when we say “Daddy (or Mommy) has to go visit a customer next week” maybe we won’t talk about it much in advance?

      We also give him a heads up about who will be at daycare, because not every kid comes every week and sometimes his best buddy is visiting her grandma etc. Again, doubt he ‘gets’ it, but eventually I expect it will help to prepare him.

      Caveat that he is super easygoing and on multiple occasions has gone to sleep and woken up to only one parent or no parents, just grandparents, and never has an issue. I’m sure this will change.

    • CPA Lady says:

      My husband is usually gone 3 separate work weeks a month, and he tells her the day he’s leaving, or the night before if he’s going to be gone before she wakes up. At this point it’s so routine that she just accepts it. I don’t think it would be helpful to give her a lot of advance warning, because I think it would add a layer of angst the to the small amount of time they have together.

      We don’t really “explain it” in a way where it feels like a justification, because there’s no point in getting into an argument with her about whether or not he is going– his job is literally to travel to places and do things there. The only explanation is that he’s going to the airport today because he has to go to work in xyz place, and that he will be back on xyz day.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      My husband travels roughly quarterly. At around that age, we started telling kiddo that “Daddy has to go to X for one week” about a day or two before he left. If she expressed any sadness, we just said, “Yeah, it’s sad that Daddy has to go away but you and Mommy are going to have so much fun together!”

      Recently, I’ve started to make sure to do things outside of our normal M-F routine – so, while I don’t ordinarily stop at the playground after picking her up from preschool, I did that 1 or 2x that week. Or, we went to a restaurant that played cartoons or got pizza for dinner. And, we face time with relatives a fair bit so she understands that she can have phone calls with people and see them, so we make an effort to facetime with Daddy a few times.

    • octagon says:

      I usually don’t mention the trip until the day before. Too far in advance and they dwell on it and get upset. I just say, Mommy is going away tomorrow, and you will have X sleeps with Daddy, and then Mommy will be home again!

      We have tried FaceTiming occasionally but it usually amplifies the separation. Now we only do it when I’m in the airport about to board the flight home, so I can say things like, I will be there when you wake up tomorrow!

      When I first asked this group about preparing for trips, someone mentioned the Daniel Tiger episode Grown-Ups Come Back. We still watch it regularly and I think it made a big difference in coping skills.

    • Anonymous says:

      I just talk about getting “stuck at work” and how many bedtimes she will have with my husband. /sorry for the brevity, on a work trip now!

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m the opposite of most that has been posted and I think it’s a know your kiddo thing. I start talking about the trip about two weeks in advance: “you’re having a sleepover at grandma’s and she will take you to school,” or something along those lines. They might get upset initially, but then I remind them that it’s well in the future. By the time the trip rolls around, and I have repeated to them several times what the plan is, they are used to the idea and don’t seem to get as upset.

      Also – when you’re gone, I find mornings are the best time to call. The kids are generally in a good mood. In the afternoon, it seems to be more “we are tired of grandma” and “when are you coming home.”

  10. Argh I’m an idiot – I submitted my infant daughter’s passport application without her social security number (she has one, I just don’t know it off the top of my head yet so I filled out everything else and then I meant to go back and fill in the SSN and…I just plain forgot). The US Department of State website says you can be charged a $500 penalty for failing to disclose your SSN. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t enforce this against people who just made an honest mistake but I don’t know. Any chance anyone here knows someone who has made the same mistake? Is my best bet to just withdraw the application? I don’t want to eat the $135 and the time spent at the post office, but I’d much rather do that then get charged $500 on top of the passport fees. I swear I feel like half my brain is missing since I became a mom :/

    • This sounds like something I would do. Can you call someplace and find out? Ugh, so sorry.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      I don’t know the answer, but sometimes I find that calling the business/org is actually helpful. Off the top of my head I would never expect that calling the State Dept for something would actually be helpful, but I had a question about taxes for a NYS dept and I got directed to an actual person who was able to give me a real answer. So, you never know!

      • Call. I once had to have a passport expedited and I found them very helpful! I can’t recall if I called or went directly but they were great.

    • a big orange drink says:

      If you are not successful with calling State, call the local office of your US Senator or House rep. They all have staffers whose job it is to help constituents with passport issues.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I just realized we’re traveling (with our now 5 month old daughter) every single month from July to April. And hosting Thanksgiving at our house. Some of it is work travel for me and DH and the baby are only joining because she’s still BF-ing but still…I guess this is the big downside of living a plane ride away from all our family members.

    • FWIW we traveled nearly monthly with my oldest when she was a baby and it was great! Definitely busy but neat to experience new places with her. She’s now 6 and LOVES to travel.

  12. NewMomAnon says:

    I’m struggling a bit with drawing boundaries right now – I feel like a big chunk of my friends are grappling with Big Problems right now (seriously big problems, like messy breakups and chronic illnesses in the family), and that I am spending a lot of emotional energy listening to them and just being there. I’m finding myself really tapped out and not having the emotional energy left in the tank to thoughtfully care for myself and kiddo. All of these folks deserve a support network…but I need to be a smaller part of it. Any scripts or suggestions for how to have those conversations? Or logical places to draw boundaries?

    Also, I feel super guilty about this. I know I took up a lot of peoples’ emotional energy during my divorce, and I feel like I should be able to pass it forward…but I can’t. I’m feeling like a bit of a friend failure.

    • This is really hard. It’s easier said than done, but you may need to work on your *own* reactions to your friends’ stress. Is it possible that you’re a person who tends to absorb whatever stress is swirling around her? Because I am that person, too, to some extent. It takes practice, but it’s well worth developing the skill to be a good listener without taking on the other person’s emotion as your own. Again, SUPER HARD, and not something that will happen quickly. And, if you’re offering tons of advice, I would just … stop. Listen, empathize, but it’s not your job to solve other people’s problems — even when you love them!

      After one of these stressful talks, you might try having a mantra to repeat to yourself:
      – Listening is the best help I can offer.
      – Friend is a strong and capable person. I’m wishing her peace and happiness.
      – May Friend find hope and peace.

      Kinda hokey, but I got some of these ideas from a meditation class and have found them surprisingly helpful.

      • NewMomAnon says:

        I have gotten much better about not offering advice – I think all the parenting book recommendations have helped me hone that skill! But I find myself really seeking escape and actively avoiding people who require emotional work after too much time spent with sad people. Like, I want to live my own feelings sometimes! And I’m mostly feeling good about this season of my life.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      A few thoughts on setting limits without having a conversation about limits:

      1) can you call people when you’re in transit. This only works if they respect that you have to hang up when you tell them that you have to go. This way they get your time and attention but for a shorter duration of time.

      2) can you redirect your conversations with friends to evenings where kiddo is with her dad. “Friend, I will call you on Wednesday to talk about this.”

      3) can you shift some conversations to text or email rather than on the phone. Don’t answer a phone call, but text the person back. It allows you to choose when/for how long to engage.

      • NewMomAnon says:

        I don’t call people anymore. I don’t know how people functioned in a world of only phone calls – they go on forever! You’re tethered to a phone! You can’t listen to music or eat crunchy food or go to the bathroom for at least an hour! And then after you finish one, your prize is….another hour or more of significant life restrictions during the next call? No thank you! Especially after spending hours each day on work calls. Shudder.

        Text messages are a great idea though. I need to double down on that. And maybe limit sad friends to text messages or small group settings, not one-on-one meetings in person.

  13. Starting preschool says:

    Talk to me about first preschool experiences…

    I have two and a half year old twins starting preschool in the fall. They’ve had a nanny and gone to classes with her or with me, but never been left somewhere alone (but with each other). I am expecting to stay with them at first the whole time for a few hours and then leave them for longer time periods.

    Any other strategies? We’re reading books about all their favorite characters going to school but not sure what else. How long should it take until they can stay full day alone? I’m sure it differs a ton by child.

    Thank you!

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Talk to the school about their recommendation. And gently – I can’t imagine a school letting a parent stay the entire session, even the first few days. Both of our schools encouraged me to join kiddo for half an hour introductory sessions before she officially started, but always at the end of the day so she didn’t get confused about school being a place where mom stayed all day. When it came time for the first real day of school drop off, they encouraged a quick drop off. A hug, blow a kiss, hand kiddo off to a teacher and then leave. No lingering.

      • NewMomAnon says:

        OH! And my experience with the introductory sessions between toddler and preschool – the first session, I sat on the floor and kiddo sat on my lap and watched. The next session, she was interested in the toys and books and would drift away from me to pick one out, then bring it back for me to read or play. By the third session, she was interacting with the other kids and barely looked at me.

        It was even easier when she transitioned preschools; she launched herself into the playground within 10 minutes and barely looked back.

    • Anonymous says:

      This might only be marginally helpful because my twins have been in day care since 4 months, but I would suggest asking the preschool what separation measures they recommend. Mine are also almost 2.5 and my daughter is in a bit of a clingy phase, like she doesn’t want to let me go when we leave, and it is WAY easier on us when I’m like “hey! Look it’s day care teacher! Do you want to give her hugs?” and then basically run away while she’s distracted. For us, being there longer than it takes to say “bye sweetie” puts a lot of emphasis on “I’M LEAVING NOW” and it just makes them upset. So our day care tries to scoot us out the door a bit in the morning and give us our main kiddo updates/discussions in the afternoon. But this is very dependent on their personalities. It will probably help a lot that they are together.

      Re: strategies, we just introduced the Daniel Tiger “grown ups come back” episode– I don’t think it’s sticking because my husband does pickup and I do dropoff, but it’s a good opening to remind them you’re not gone forever.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      I agree with NewMomAnon’s rec to talk to the school about the transition process. My kid’s preschool doesn’t have a problem if you want to stay for a bit, but I also agree that I wouldn’t linger for that long as it could make the tears/upset a more drawn out process.

      My kid’s daycare let you do a gradual transition process, where you bring your kid in for an hour or two on day 1, then two or three hours on day 2, etc. I know of a private school in NYC that asks parents to stay physically at the school in a separate classroom just in case their entering kindergartners get upset. But all of this will be up to the school.

    • Mrs. Jones says:

      I wouldn’t stay with them for any length of time, because I wouldn’t want them to get used to your being there. It may take a week or so, but kids are adaptable.

    • Anonymous says:

      Drop them off and leave. They’ll be fine. It’s preschool not a gulag

  14. Mother’s helper rates says:

    I have a 12 y/o at my house playing with my 5 y/o today. I’m at home in maternity leave; baby is with me and toddler is napping. She’s here as her first mother’s helper gig after taking a babysitting class, and I booked her via her mom. I realized I didn’t ask her mom about her rate, so I’m going to ask the girl. She’s going to defer to me, I assume (and if not I’ll pay her what she wants…). We pay high school sitters that drive to us $15-18, college sitters $18-20, and professionals (moonlighting nannies or daycare teachers) $20-22/hr. Rate varies a little based on persons experience. This girl is getting picked up and dropped off (though I offered to do one way…)

    Is $10/hr fair? I don’t want to be cheap. It’s going to be about three hours (could be a little less). Frankly I want to make sure I pay her fairly but don’t set her expectations too high for future families- this is one of her first jobs, might actually be her first job.

    • I would pay $8/hr but my pay scale is a bit lower than yours (high school $10-$12/hr, college $12-$15/hr, professionals $20/hr).

    • avocado says:

      As the parent of a kid around that age, I would say $10 per hour is on the generous side of fair. I pay college sitters around $20/hour through a service.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where are you located? Seems fair based on what you are paying the others. FWIW I think being a mother’s helper rather than a babysitter is driving the price difference rather than the fact she doesn’t have to drive. She still has to spend time getting to and from your house regardless of whether she is the one driving.

      • Anonymous says:

        Boston suburbs. That’s why I included the other sitter info, which is market. Some people pay (and charge) $25 as nannies but we don’t use them.

        • Also in Boston, and other sitter market rates are definitely accurate; I’d say $10/hr is fair (plus snacks, drinks, whatever you’d offer other sitters) for a mother’s helper. That’s probably what I’d pay a neighbor’s kid for a similar job.

  15. Any tips for dealing with in-laws? No need to go into details, but my in-laws live across the country and spend time telling me how disappointed they are that we don’t see them more often. We visit at least 2 times per year and they are always welcome at our place (separate guest suite in our house and my husband and I have generous vacation time). They have visited only once since my daughter was born 2 years ago. I actually liked them prior to having a kid, but now they are shoveling on guilt about not being close to their grandkid. It’s stressful and makes me want to visit less. I also think that their lack of visits (not due to lack of money – they are well off) makes me believe that grandkid isn’t a priority to them. Which is okay! But then I don’t want the accompanying guilt trip. They also make no effort to call, FaceTime, etc. Am I being a jerk? How do other people cope with this? I will be spending a week in close quarters with them soon and need to be prepared for this…

    • No advice but solidarity. I have an extremely similar situation (minus the guest house, but plenty of room for them to stay at our house!), and they come less than 1/yr and guilt us constantly about going there.

  16. Autoimmune Flare Up in Pregnancy says:

    Late in the day but- Hs anyone experienced autoimmune flare ups with their pregnancy? I literally can’t move and this is only the first trimester. Any tips for me?

    • Yes. Apparently they are not uncommon. I had psoriasis that flared while I was pregnant and still now while BFing at almost 12 months PP, and I likely had (based on symptoms) a pregnancy-induced arthritis flare at about 3 months post-partum (but we got it under control with ibuprofen before I had the CT to actually confirm psoriatic arthritis). Had a CT confirmed psoriatic arthritis and had we not been able to get it under control with OTC meds, my rheumatologist was telling me about a biologic that was purportedly safe for BFing (and I think she said pregnancy too). My psoriasis I was and am treating (generous use of the word) with limited use of a super mild steroid on my face, but it mostly keeps me from wanting to scratch my face off rather than treating in any meaningful way, but the other drugs are definitely on the no-go list. So, my advice is to talk to your (specialist) doctor about what options are available.

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