Budget Thursday: Byrdie Satchel

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  1. I gained the same amount of weight in both my pregnancies. I was a couch potato for the first pregnancy whereas I stayed very active in my second pregnancy. After the birth of my first, my diet was terrible for months and it took me months to resume an exercise routine. I was nursing. I held on to half of my weight gain for almost a year. After the birth of my second, my diet has been excellent and I’ve resumed my normal exercise routine very quickly. I am not nursing. I am holding on to the weight gain, just like I did with my first.

    This leads me to believe that our bodies simply have a set point that we are supposed to be at in our pregnancy and postpartum periods. I feel great and while I do focus on how I’m feeling most of the time, I would really like to lose this weight sooner rather than later. I have a major work event in a few months and would like to look as good as I feel.

    Does it actually take our bodies a certain amount of time to lose the baby weight regardless of what we do? I would step up my game even more but it sort of feels in vain when I’m running 25ish miles per week, practicing clean eating 85% of the time, with a toddler and a 3 month old, but I’m still not moving the scale.

    • I’m in a similar situation, one year postpartum. The last 8-10 lbs are so sticky. I cut out sugar, broke up with most carbs, and still cannot shed the weight. It’s driving me nuts.

      I think you are right on about the set point. Even though you’re not nursing, those of us for whom bf’ing is not the metabolic miracle that I was led to believe it was might be programmed to hold onto the weight for a certain amount of time to support milk supply. There might be very little you can do to change it (esp 3 months pp), other than waiting it out and in the meantime doing things that make you feel good/healthy

      • That is a really good point about hanging onto the weight for those of us missing the “metabolic miracle”! Thanks for that insight. I definitely expected the weight to fall off from nursing and it didn’t. Then I expected the weight to fall off since I wasn’t nursing and therefore eating more salads. And it hasn’t.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it’s also age related. My parents used to say that they didn’t need to eat as much to maintain their weight as they got older. I eat maybe half of what I ate at 16 but I weigh 30lbs more.

    • After both of my sons I feel like I didn’t regain non-baby producing hip width until around 9 months. There was always some magical shift, where, despite the fact I didn’t change weight, suddenly my hips seemed narrower. This leads me to believe that this is the amount of time it takes my body to shift back to a pre-pregnancy state. With that said, I think it would definitely be normal for our bodies to hang onto weight longer because they haven’t fully shifted back to a non-baby producing state.

    • I EBF’d my first baby and lost weight with no effort at all, to the point where 9 months pp I weighed 12 lbs less than I did when I got pregnant. I’m now 9 months pp with my second. This baby is 50/50 nursing and formula. I weigh 10 lbs more than I did when I got pregnant. It’s annoying, but I’ve accepted it for now, especially since I’m still waking up a million times a night to nurse. This baby sleeps better, is sick way less often, and my anxiety is far less. I would much rather feel the way I do mentally/emotionally and have this body than be as skinny as I was and feel the way I did last time. It’s just so odd how differently things are going this time. I’m curious to see what (if any) changes occur after I’m no longer nursing. Bodies, man. They’re crazy, eh?

    • If you haven’t already, you could try body weight/weight lifting exercises in addition to cardio. I think losing weight with cardio alone is difficult. Also, simple changes like cutting down/out sugar and portion control works for many people. I was on a good track to losing weight using these techniques w/ 15-20 minutes of cardio, then I got pregnant. Now I am 36 weeks pregnant and have gained 22 lbs so far. My game plan is to start moving 1 week pp (let’s see how realistic that will be), and start with body weight exercises as soon as the doc gives the clear. I also bought a belly bandit post partum belt on the advice of my cousins who regretted not using them pp and now have a pooch that has been difficult to get rid of.

    • Anonymous says:

      I just read that you only have a 3 month old. So give it more time!! I have a 9-month old and still nursing (though not exclusively), and I had a huge shift in weight loss around 6 months, especially after I went back to work. I’ve lost 15 additional pounds since my baby was 3 months old, it was just really slowly. I think once I went back to work and was on more of a schedule and walking on my commute (even though I took 3 mile walks while on maternity leave), I burned a lot more calories. My sister and mom say that it takes a full year to get your body back after a baby – and by that they mean “feel” like you have your body back, even if measurements/weight aren’t the same. I would just focus on feeling great and treating your body well for now. Be easy on yourself, you just gave birth 12 weeks ago!

    • Katala says:

      I feel you. I gained very similar amounts of weight with both pregnancies even though (1) I still had 30 lbs from the first when I got pregnant again and (2) I ate and exercised differently. With both, I lost a little bit at first (like 20 lbs, which was not that much of what I’d gained) but nursing did NOT cause me to shed the weight like I was led to believe it would.

      I’m 10 months out from #2 and this is around the time when I was able to (very slowly) get the scale to budge with my first. Before about 9 months, I got to a certain weight and could.not.lose.more. No matter what I did. All that to say, yes, I think at least some of us do have a set point and it may be those of us for whom nursing doesn’t lead to weight loss.

    • Anonymous says:

      This was 100% true for me for the 1st 2 pregnancies in my early-mid 30s. Gained a ridiculous amount of weight (about 40% of my pre-preg weight) and then lost it all and then some over the 12 months postpartum despite continuing to eat ice cream every night.

      3rd/last pregnancy at 39…I’m still hanging on to 20 lbs 1+ year after giving birth, despite doing exactly as with the other 2 kids wrt nursing, etc…It’s possible the set point thing is still real, just that getting old is a real bi****.

      But…I am so impressed with all y’all who exercise.

    • I didn’t lose all the baby weight (plus a few extra pounds) from my first pregnancy until a few months after finishing nursing (14 months later…). I gained less weight with my second pregnancy and most of the weight came off more quickly, but I’m still a few pounds shy of pre-preg weight (still nursing; 4 months out). What’s really helped me lose some inches, though, and get back to being proud of my body is weight lifting. My husband convinced me to try it, and I kinda love it. I think you’re right that we have a set weight/body structure, especially after kids, so what can change is our outlook. I’m not thrilled with my pooch, but deadlifting 95 pounds makes me forget that and feel like I kick a**.

  2. Toddler Water Shoes? says:

    Can anyone recommend toddler water shoes that ACTUALLY STAY ON?!?! Thanks so much!

  3. Transition to toddlerhood says:

    My LO is coming up on 11 months and it seems like a lot is supposed to happen by a year — in terms of nursing less and eating more. Talk to me about this transition in your experience… Did you start intentionally nursing less/send different meals to daycare/move to only sippy cup etc., or did it kind of happen naturally. We nurse morning, evening, and once overnight and send three bottles to daycare. I’m definitely going to get the daycare’s input/support in transitioning to the next room as well but more interested in hearing about how the transition was for y’all. I’m still nursing and pumping, but would like to wean as soon as he’s ready for cow’s milk because PUMPING and because we’d like to get working on #2.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would step down your pumping now. Switch to twice a day, wait a week, switch to once a day, then stop pumping after another week. You can continue to nursing morning and evening for as long as you want, nursing that much usually doesn’t affect your ability to get pregnant.

      In Canada, cow’s milk is considered fine from 9 months so don’t worry about introducing cow’s milk before his first birthday.

    • I didn’t change anything until my LO was a year old. I kept the same pumping/nursing schedule. Then I gradually took away pumping sessions and weaned him at 13 months. I had no problems; LO didn’t ask to nurse after that last session.

    • Cornellian says:

      Mine is also 11 months. From May – august I pumped three times a day. September – last week I pumped twice a day. This week I switched to once a day, which I think I’ll maintain for a couple months. Pumping sucks but once a day seems more manageable, I think because I have fewer parts/bottles to carry, and because it’s easier to carve out one 25 minute session betwen 12 and 2 than several sessions within a one hour time frame.

      I’m pumping 8 or 9 oz and he’s drinking 11 or 12, so we’ve been giving freezer milk. When that runs out we’re replacing one bottle with cow’s milk and going from there.

      My pediatrician said cow’s milk was fine from 10 or 11 months but we haven’t tried it yet. I think we will over the holiday.

    • At 10 months, mine was taking 6-8 ounces (formula) in the morning, two 6 ounce bottles at daycare, and 6-8 ounces at bedtime. We also sent in cereal, one puree, and one fingerfood to daycare, and we would have a puree at dinner and offer bites of our food. She wasn’t great with the sippy. At 10 1/2 months she moved up to the toddler room at daycare, where they ate “real” lunches and snacks, and she did absolutely fine. She dropped one daycare bottle pretty quickly, and I think she would have stopped the second except I asked our center to continue with at least one bottle until she was closer to a year old. Our ped okayed cow’s milk at 11 months – we started mixing it with her formula and just continued increasing that until we ran out of formula, which happened to be after a year.

      I was really surprised at how quickly “meals” happened once she moved up to the toddler room, so I give daycare a ton of credit. I stopped pumping at 7 months, but I cut down to two pumps a day for a couple weeks, then one pump, and my supply dried up pretty quickly – it might be different if you’re still nursing some.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m curious about this too. DD is 9 months old and I’m confused about balancing reducing bottles/eating more solids with still keeping her hydrated. She may take a few sips of water from a sippy cup, but not much. Right now she’s nursing in the morning, take 3 bottles at daycare plus 3 meals a day, and sometimes snacks, and a bottle at bedtime. Sometimes nursing once overnight.

    • avocado says:

      I think the keys are (1) sippy cup, (2) reducing pumping and adding formula or cow’s milk, and (3) transition to toddler room. Honestly, this is one of those things you can mostly outsource to day care if you wish. If day care bans bottles and serves real meals and snacks in the toddler room, then your child will naturally adjust and you can follow day care’s lead.

      • AwayEmily says:

        Yes! I also recommend outsourcing to daycare as much as possible. Just tell them your end goal and let them figure out what works best. They have lots of experience!

        Start by dropping pumping altogether (and make sure to let everyone here know when you do so we can all WOOO!! you, because stopping pumping is AMAZING) and tell daycare you want to transition him to formula/milk during the day. Daycare handled this entire transition for us (I stopped pumping at 11 months)..basically they started her on formula, which she loved, and slowly mixed in cow’s milk until she was 100% cow’s milk. I kept nursing in the AM and PM until she was 15 months.

        And re: sippy cups — give daycare a bunch of sippy cups and tell them to do their best. They were SO much better at teaching my daughter to drink from sippy cups than we were. I would say it took her maybe two months to drop the bottle altogether.

  4. Help interpreting a leave policy says:

    cross posting from the main site and apologies for the length of this post. Unfortunately, the HR department where I work has a history of providing people with incorrect information. I’m pregnant with twins. My manager has already indicated that I should take as much time as I’m allowed, so I am trying to figure out exactly what that is before I go and speak to HR because I want to be able to advocate for myself. We don’t have a great policy – it is basically STD (6 pr 8 weeks depending on how you deliver plus unpaid leave through FMLA). My question is about the FMLA part of the policy. Someone else posted about this recently where they were able to take extra unpaid time because their FMLA 12 weeks per year was based on their start date rather than a calendar year and I think that my policy might read like that as well. Here is what it says:
    “Family leaves, which may be limited to 12 weeks in any 12-month period, will be provided if requested for the birth of a child of the employee. The company uses the individual’s current anniversary date of hire in a benefits-eligible status to calculate the 12-month period.” —> This makes me think that if hypothetically my start date was August 1 and I give birth on May 15 via c-section, I would take 8 weeks of STD bringing me to July 10. Then I would use 3 weeks of unpaid FMLA bringing me to July 31 and those 3 weeks would be coming from my FMLA allotment for August 2017-August 2018. But then the way the policy reads, it seems like the FMLA period start over on August 1, so could I take an additional 12 weeks unpaid? Or am I completely misinterpreting this?

    Later on it says “staff members whose medical leave, family leave, or medical leave in combination with family leave does not exceed 12 weeks will be returned to the same or an equivalent position.” but does not say anything about 12 weeks within the calculated 12 month period or 12 consecutive weeks or anything like that. It does say that you can take the leave on an intermittent basis or through a reduced work schedule and I’m not sure if that is relevant on how to interpret this part. Is it incorrect to imply that when it says “does not exceed 12 weeks” that means “within the calculated 12 month period,” based on the definition provided at the beginning of the policy?

    • Cornellian says:

      I am not sure about your first question, but in your second question I think they’re just summarizing FMLA as it applies to employers. Assuming your boss is on board with you taking >12 weeks and wants you back, I don’t think the last part is directly applicable.

      • Anonymous says:

        This doesn’t apply directly to your question, but if you’re taking some paid leave and some unpaid leave and if you also have things like health insurance or parking deducted from your paycheck, see if HR can stagger your paid/unpaid leave so that there is some pay to get things deducted from. I also had twins (congratulations!) and luckily the HR lady did this on her own, but when she explained I thought wow, that is so sensible. So I took 10 weeks paid leave and 12 unpaid (I was on 6 weeks bed rest before the birth), and she finagled it so that my time was entered as about 4 hours unpaid and 4 hours paid each day. That way I was drawing a half-salary the entire time, from which my health insurance premiums and parking payments were deducted. Otherwise, during the 3 month block of unpaid leave, I would have had to write work a check for my insurance premiums, and nobody has time for that with newborn twins.

        Also be cognizant that with twins there is a much higher probability that you’ll need to start maternity leave before you actually go into labor and make sure HR knows that too.

        • Also, ask what their policy is on getting paid for holidays if you’re on unpaid leave. You may need to stagger your paid leave so that you are on paid status the day before/day after if that is what is required to get paid for the holiday, e.g.

          • Help interpreting a leave policy says:

            these are great suggestions! fortunately i get my health insurance through my husband’s employer, so i won’t need to worry about that. But that is a good idea re half days and holidays. i know i don’t earn PTO while on FMLA or STD, but maybe I can stagger it in a way so that it works to my favor.

      • Help interpreting a leave policy says:

        i hope that if my boss wants me back I can take more than 12 weeks total and not lose my job! the thought of only 12 weeks with 2 is already making me anxious about going back to work

    • Anonanonanon says:

      I read “limited to 12 weeks in any 12 month period” to be you can only take 12 weeks within 12 months and there’s no set start day for those twelve months, but that your start date determined your eligibility?

      • Help interpreting a leave policy says:

        it says somewhere else that you are only eligible if you’ve been there for a year, which is what lead me not to read it that way. i wasn’t sure if i could almost interpret the first sentence to read 12 weeks in any 12-month period and the 12 month period starts/ends based on the date of hire. if it doesn’t mean that, then the words “the company uses the individual’s current anniversary date of hire in a benefits-eligible status to calculate the 12-month period” seem superfluous to me? so i guess i was trying to think of what that sentence even means since based on other parts of the policy it seems clear that it does not mean the start date of eligibility.

  5. I love the Mighty Girl website for empowering books for my daughter. Does anyone have suggestions for similar type books geared toward young, elementary-aged boys? Also on the hunt for books about it being ok to make mistakes.

  6. Elaine says:

    Please help me unf*ck my get-home-serve-dinner routine. I have two kiddos, a son who is 15 months and a daughter who is 3. I pick them up from daycare, walk them home (max 10 min), and then do dinner, bath and bedtime. I should be able to pull dinner together in five minutes or less – it’s usually just microwaving the main dish and cutting up some sides – but I can’t because from the moment we walk in the door, the kids are awful. My daughter does all the things she shouldn’t do (going in my room, grabbing my phone, rummaging through my purse, sneaking treats, etc.). My son only wants to be held (and my back isn’t made for baby carriers).

    Without getting into the humiliating details, let’s just say that every day this week, I have grown livid by the time dinner is on the table and have ended up bellowing, guilting or going totally silent (none of which is good for me or the kids) But they drive me nuts! I don’t even have time to put down my bag or change out of my work clothes (or take off my coat, even), because I am just trying to prevent crying / screaming / destruction, and get dinner on the f-ing table so that the whole night doesn’t go off the rails. I’ve started dreading pickup for this reason.

    So: What how do I fix this? I’ve already tried half-paying-attention to the baby, ignoring the baby and just trying to get dinner ready ASAP, and bribes for the toddler; none of this has been successful. I guess I could sit them down with some snacks, but then that works against their eating the dinner that will follow literally within five minutes (and snack prep takes a bit of time too). Based on past experience, I don’t think TV/phone time is a good solution.

    Please help me retain my sanity and not set my kids up for years of therapy. Thanks so much for any advice.

    • This sounds so frustrating for you! If it’s possible, could you come home first, change into home clothes and fix food for the kids (put on plates ready for microwave) before picking them up? That way you have only to pop things in the microwave when you get home. I know it might keep them in care for a bit longer, but it could smooth your evening routine out.

    • A few ideas: On the walk/drive/ride to pick-up the kids can you listen to music to pump you up? I go into those times knowing that I will hit a point where I want to scream. Then when I hit that point, I tell myself that I knew I would get here but that we will all get through it. Basically, spend a few minutes getting yourself into game-time mode. Can you change into more comfy clothes before picking up the kids? When my kids were that age, I would change out of my business formal gear at the office (frequently leaving jackets and pants at the office) and into jeans. It made me less stressed about getting baby gunk on nice clothes.

      Can you offer a snack on the walk home? A cheese stick, pouch of applesauce or piece of fruit (so nothing that would upend dinner but that may help avert the crankiness of being hungry)?

      Can you prep the house before you leave in the morning? Leave a coloring book and crayons on the table so that they are ready for the 3 year old? Playdoh? Anything to buy you those precious ten minutes to take a breath and get dinner going?

      In general, I remember that being a challenging phase! Be gently on yourself. Its tough.

    • Can you give them each a small snack on the walk home, maybe a piece of fruit or a small bag of gummies or something? Enough to tide them over without ruining dinner? Or can you give them a more substantial snack and push dinner just a little later, giving you time to change clothes, etc. before the melting?

    • mascot says:

      Have ready prepped snacks and serve those as appetizers/first course. Cut up raw or lightly steamed veggies or fruit work well here. Count whatever you’re serving as snack as part of dinner nutrition calculations. So if they eat some carrots first, don’t worry if they don’t eat another veggie during the “main” dinner.
      If you’ve never read Dinner A Love Story blog, check it out. Her philosophy helped me re-frame dinner expectations in the toddler years.

      • Momata says:

        Yes, this. I always have cut up veggies (red peppers, cucumbers, and carrots) in the fridge and I serve those as a first course right out of the container. Bonus, they also eat their veggies that way. I let my toddler color on the mail envelopes / open junk mail and color on that. I’ve given up on changing clothes and just power through in my work clothes until after they are fed. But — it just sucks. And I react the same way you do, so be gentle on yourself.

      • FTMinFL says:

        This is what we do. I have fruit/veggies/yogurt that I intend to be part of dinner and do not need to heat portioned out and ready to go. When I walk in the door, two year old gets a hug and sits down at the table to scarf down his “appetizer”. He is usually so involved in devouring the food (I swear he gets to eat during the day but you would never know it) that he is quiet and occupied while I take 5 minutes to prepare the rest of his meal. Once the full meal is on the table I sit next to him and nurse the baby. Generally, this results in a calm and happy evening. However, I do not change clothes before or during this process because something about going upstairs throws the whole evening into chaos. All of my work clothes are machine washable and I’m A-OK with getting toddler’s dinner or baby’s spit up on them as long as I retain my sanity!

        You have my commiseration – navigating the evening crazies can be so hard. Don’t beat yourself up for this week. You are self aware and trying to improve and that is all that can be expected of any of us. I hope the upcoming holidays are peaceful and restful for you!

      • this was going to be my suggestion too. cut up veggies on sundays and then put them out each day the second you walk in the door to buy you the 5-10 minutes you need to take off your coat and heat up dinner.

    • Anonymous says:

      Honestly, what if you outsource this for one week to reset your kids? Hire a babysitter to bring them home and feed them dinner. Give the babysitter strict instructions about how long to wait before feeding them after getting home. Sometimes, kids will listen to a babysitter and not mom.

      Alternatively, what if you just give them baby carrots immediately upon coming home? Something that takes effort to eat, is healthy, and will begin to satiate their hunger. Get the veggies on the table immediately. Cut up red pepper sticks, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, etc. work well for this too. That way, you can sit them both down, say “eat this while I change my clothes,” you can throw food in the microwave, go change, and then feed them.

      You’re right that something needs to change. You can do it!!!

    • Oh I hear you. Our family has been through these phases too. Do you park inside a garage? If it’s safe, I would honestly leave the kids in their carseats while you go inside the house, put down your stuff, and change. Then come back out and get them unloaded from the car and put away their stuff. Prepping dinner with kids underfoot is HARD and know this will get easier as they get older. Could you sit the toddler at the table with playdoh or a special toy that comes out *only* during dinner prep? As hard as it is, you may have to let the baby cry for a bit. Sounds like your dinner prep routine is very streamlined (kudos on that), so there’s no wiggle room there.

      Or, would the kids behave better if they got a little bit of time with you before you start prepping dinner? Fill their buckets, so to speak, and maybe they’ll be more amenable to distractions.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      My son was in constant meltdown at that age if I did not have a drink ready for him the second I picked him up. Could it be thirst that they’re misinterpreting as hunger? Can you come with juice boxes or water or whatever ready for them? My son seemed unable to grasp just how soon dinner was and would be starving/thirsty, but the drink was a good compromise.

      I feel you, evenings are the worst, I think a lot of it is
      A. the transition: you already transitioned from “home-mode” to “work-mode” once and transitioning back is… a lot. At least for me. It feels like you’re starting your shift at your second job when you just worked a full day
      B. The end is finally in site.. so any small thing that derails it is 100x more frustrating.

      Like someone else suggested, having an easy activity prepped and ready-to-go the second you walk in the door may help with the older one. I bulk ordered sticker scenes from amazon or oriental trading and would save those ONLY for waiting for dinner at home in a restaurant to keep them “special”

    • There’s lots of good advice here that I won’t repeat, but not knowing how fast everything has to be, would it work to spend 10 minutes just playing/snuggling with the kids when you get home? I went through a similar phase around 18-20 months with my (now) two year old, and it made a big difference to devote just a few minutes to her as soon as we got home, and then she would be so much better while I was getting dinner ready. It seemed like dinner went just as fast if I didn’t have to deal with her nonsense, and it was a huge improvement in both our moods.

      • I was going to say something similar. You’ve gotten a lot of food suggestions (feed them a snack on the walk, as soon as you get home, etc) but you haven’t said that they are fussy because they are hungry. They probably just want attention. They don’t get much one on one attention at school and they are both probably craving that.

        My 3 year old is super annoying until I can sit down and play with him for a few minutes. So I try to do that and then slip away to make dinner. Alternatively, can you get your 3 year old involved in dinner prep? Have her set the table or something? Give her a very important task just for her to do?

    • Anon in NYC says:

      I pick my 2.5 year old up from school, walk 10-15 minutes home, and then feed her dinner. I have gone back and forth on providing snacks during the walk home, but ultimately have realized that snacks make my life 1000% better. I can’t get away with things like cut up bell peppers or carrots – my kid wants “junky” snacks (goldfish, graham crackers, etc.) and will refuse vegetables. I used to pack a large-ish container of them in my bag so I could keep multiple days worth of snacks in my bag, but I realized my kid was eating them all in one fell swoop and spoiling her dinner. So now I pack a very small handful in a container, and she is satisfied that she got a snack and also doesn’t ruin her dinner. It takes the edge off just enough that I can get in the door and get her dinner ready.

      Also, though, it’s just a hard age/time of day. My kid is frequently on edge at that time because she’s getting tired. I’m on edge because I just want to be DONE. Unless you’re entirely opposed to screen time, sometimes I honestly just find it easiest to walk in the door and turn on Daniel Tiger for 15 minutes so that I can get situated. In terms of your phone, put it on a high shelf and say it “needs batteries.”

    • Anonymous says:

      I would definitely do juice box/small snack to get their blood sugar up on the walk home. Then – do you have a kid-safe area blocked off in your house with baby gates? So you can just pop them in there without them getting into anything they shouldn’t? What about TV/apple slices for 5 minutes while you prep dinner?

    • Sarabeth says:

      Agree with all the suggestions for ready-prepped appetizers, and also for 5-10 minutes of focused play if at all possible. In addition, our kids both still sit in chairs with straps (the 4 year-old is in a tripp trapp, and we never took the straps off). I don’t usually buckle her in, but in scenarios like this, I do if necessary. We have a bum-in-seat rule until dinner is finished, and if she doesn’t follow that, we buckle her in. I’d start that rule as soon as food is on the table, and use that time to get the rest of dinner ready.

    • BabyBoom says:

      This sounds frustrating, and very familiar! My kids are 1.5 and 2.5, so ages are a little off but close. This is how I cope with dinner. Baby gets big hug, and then straight into high chair. Toddler is cordoned off in living room/dining area combined area that is connected to kitchen and baby proofed while I prep dinner. He basically does all of the things he isn’t supposed to do, but I ignore it while I am making dinner (we are talking annoying things like play with the remote, not harmful things, this is a toddler proofed area). At least one of the kids has to be contained at all times. Both kids would like more snuggles before dinner, but I let them know that snuggles are for bedtime, now is for dinner. Once I bring food out, toddler generally wants to get in his chair and eat. I also am lucky that my spouse can usually be home for bath and bedtime so we do that together.

      At this point, I think you need a break and a hard reset. Is it possible to either get a mother’s helper to come over to help at night, or request your spouse to come home early to help at least 2 nights a week? If you are doing dinner, bath, and bedtime every night with two kids this age I am extremely impressed! Honestly, I have tried and I can’t do it. I can do dinner every night, and I occasionally put the kids to bed alone, but I will not bathe both of the toddlers alone.

    • POSITA says:

      My kids were always a mess in the evenings upon leaving daycare and getting home. We started giving the kids and snack on the way home, but often the kids would still melt down. We ended up asking the daycare to give them a snack that we sent about 30 minutes before pickup. This raised their blood sugar just enough to get them through the transition so we could get home. It really, really helped.

  7. Frozen stash says:

    I’m heading back to work in January after a 3 month maternity leave. I have been breastfeeding and giving a bottle a couple times a week. I have been pumping to start a frozen stash (about 75 oz) just in case i have to travel for work, am low one day, etc. However, I’ve seen on Google that women have freezers absolutely packed with frozen milk. How do women create such a huge frozen stash unless they are overpumping each day and creating an oversupply? And what’s the point of having such a huge stash? What am I missing?

    • I found that the purpose of having such a huge stash was so you could show off your huge stash on social media.

      I never carried a big stash, and was able to go on several work trips (and one four night personal trip!) without using formula. I found that I never needed to have all that much extra in the freezer, and if I knew I was going to be traveling, I would just start to save a little extra here and there. (for example, we got into a routine of three 3.5 oz bottles, so if I pumped more than that, I’d save it until it was 3.5 oz, then freeze that)

      I tried to be zen and was willing to use formula if needed. I hated pumping and wasn’t going to add extra pumping sessions with the electric pump. I would occasionally pump with a hand pump for a few minutes before bed.

    • Some people have an oversupply. Maybe they want to go on a longer trip (or anticipate that they will need to) and want to know that they have enough milk to cover them, maybe they want to stop nursing/pumping & continue to feed their baby their milk, maybe they want to donate…etc. You do you.

    • Anonymous says:

      You have the answer – they have caused themselves to have oversupply. Plus – even with a deep freezer, you can only keep milk for so long. And if you are continuing to pump and giving the fresh milk…You end up throwing out the freezer stash. Unless you stored it correctly to be donated. We ended up never using my freezer stash because I think I have that thing where the milk smells rotten when frozen (too much lipase? or something?).

    • FTMinFL says:

      I was so freaked out about losing my supply once I went back to work with my first, mainly due to Internet crazies. I had a ridiculous frozen stash by the end of maternity leave, had to work through an oversupply (ouch!) in the subsequent months, and ended up having to toss hundreds of ounces of frozen milk which equates to wasted hours of my life that I spent pumping. With my second, I had exactly one day’s worth of milk frozen when I went back to work (24oz). I still tend toward oversupply and usually have 2-4 ounces to freeze each workday, which easily allowed me to go on a weekend getaway sans kids with my DH.

      To get to the point, there is no need to build a big freezer stash for the sake of building a big freezer stash. If you have a specific goal – needing/wanting to go on a four-day trip away from baby, for example – then freeze enough to get baby through the trip. Don’t make yourself crazy.

    • Sarabeth says:

      Meh, with my first baby, I had an oversupply well before I started pumping. Sometimes it just happens. When I did start pumping, I had an excess of 4-6 oz per day, sometimes more (over 2 pump sessions). I preferred to maintain that supply rather than pump once a day and risk underproducing. It’s just how my body worked. It had pros and cons – it was nice to never worry about having enough milk, but on the other hand I leaked and sprayed all over myself until my baby was over 9 months.

      My second, I went into it actively trying to manage my supply, but then had to exclusively pump for the first month because the baby was premature, so ended up with even worse oversupply that time. It’s hard to mimic a baby’s self-regulation with a pump, and once you get that level of oversupply (I was producing around 50 oz/day within a few weeks), it’s hard to scale down without getting blocked ducts, mastitis, etc. That was pretty terrible, but I used my enormous freezer stash to stop pumping a month early, and I donated almost 2,000 oz of milk. In neither case was it a commentary on anyone else, just what my body did.

      • Anon in NYC says:

        I also had a huge oversupply, probably both naturally and from early pumping to manage a bad latch, and thus had a large freezer stash. I certainly did not want a massive oversupply, but on a workday I could easily get >30 oz from 2 pumping sessions + an AM post-nursing session + a pre-bed session (all of which I needed to do to stay comfortable/avoid clogged ducts)… on top of nursing. As Sarabeth said, it was a double edged sword. Great because I never worried about supply, and also a real PITA.

      • Anonymous says:

        +1. Sometimes it’s just natural. I had a huge oversupply with my first. I could pump once a day and get 6 oz per side. With my second, I also had an oversupply, but not nearly as bad. Weaning was horrible the first time. I’m still nursing my second at 14 months because I’m afraid of completely weaning after how bad it was last time. I had mastitis 3xs the first time. The second time I knew the signs better and avoided it, but trying to avoid it sometimes had the counter effect of further increasing supply (i.e., by doing hardcore pumping to get a clogged duct cleared). I have also donated milk. It’s painful and annoying in a whole different way to have an oversupply issue. I’m not smug about it – I frankly wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

    • Cornellian says:

      I did not have a huge stash, in part because I have a tiny fridge/freezer.

      But one thing you can use it for is supplementing towards the end of your pumping journey. I’m back full speed at work and just switched to pumping once a day. I come up 2-3 oz short almost everyday, so we’re supplementing with freezer milk. Then we’ll move to cow’s milk, I think. Being 2 oz short seems not to affect my supply so much on weekends that the baby gets frustrated or hungry, and having one pumping session a day rather than two or three has been amazing.

    • I had a huge frozen stash, partly to ease my anxiety about loosing my supply once I started pumping more, partly because my body likes to produce a ton of milk, and also to help me feel like I could travel/leave baby last minute without stress.

      I built mine up by adding an extra “feeding” each day via pump around 3weeks. Every morning after baby ate I would pump. Eventually my body got the message and made more for that session. When I started back to work I would still get “extra” from this pump session, although it eventually went away around 6 months.

      I cycled fresh and frozen milk to keep the freezer stash fresh. I was able to stop pumping around 10-11 months with both kids because I had enough in the freezer to get them to a year, so that was great.

      So I don’t think it is all necessary, but those are the whys and hows of what I did.

  8. Oh shoot, I just realized you walk them home, so carseats are not in play. :(

  9. barrelroll says:

    Thanks all for the input on my nanny share/nap issue yesterday. I ended up talking with the other parents and leaving it open-ended about what we should do, and they were very apologetic and we came up with a good solution that works for all of us (other baby takes a short nap before arriving so she and my kid are on the same nap schedule for the rest of the day). Yay!

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s great to hear!

    • Thanks for the update, sounds like a good solution! Did your nanny tell you that this was how naps were working out? Or how did you get all the details?

      • barrelroll says:

        I was working from home for part of the day earlier in the week, which is when I observed the issue and became concerned. Since I have a good relationship with the other couple, I wanted to raise it with them instead of having the nanny try to be a go-between to find a compromise solution.

  10. I’m excited for a family beach trip coming up in June. Just so I can daydream away the cold weather outside, what would be your must-haves for a beach trip with an almost-2 year old? I am really, really hoping he will keep a hat on (currently we have limited success in that area).

    • mascot says:

      Some sort of tent for shade is really helpful. I also found that cheap wooden/bamboo spoons make great digging toys. I bought the brightest/most neon rashguards for my kid for the beach. We live on the Atlantic coast where the water is murky and muted colors don’t show up in the water.

      • Yes, we don’t even go to the beach very often, and we are getting one of these beach tents for Christmas. I’m so excited.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      definitely SPF rash guards. Cuts down on the amount of sunscreen applications/reapplications

      • blueridge29 says:

        SPF rash guards and long board shorts will greatly reduce the need for sunscreen. If you can get them used to the rash guards young you will use them for multiple years. We also found that the baby/toddler was more willing to wear a hat if EVERYONE was wearing a hat. If your kid goes in the water you may also want a toddler life jacket. These are much easier (and safer) to grab than an arm if a little one wants to play in shallow water.

    • BabyBoom says:

      My advice is for a beach trip with a house rental. If you go to a resort, I think a lot of this would be covered.

      I really love my sport brella (on amazon and sometimes available at costco). The price seems high to me now, so maybe wait on that? One thing I really like about them is that then can either go on the ground like a shelter, or be set up like an umbrella. Depending on the wind both options are nice. At the beach we had two set up, one for us to sit, and the other for the kids to play under.

      And we did get sun hats at costco that then then 2 year old and 1 year old kept on their heads. They are on amazon (sun protection zone upf 50+safari sun hat).

      And get some of those temporary room darkening window shades, or take blackout fabric to cover the windows. My kids got up as soon as the sun hit the window every morning. That was not awesome.

    • Baby powder is excellent for getting stubborn sand to rub off . My 2 y.o. only wants to roll in the sand (cue the baby powder), so we found a regular beach umbrella was more useful than the iCorer pop up tent that was so highly recommended (she refused to sit in it and wanted to be on sand). A wagon or cart to haul all the stuff would be useful. Shovels, scoops, molds, and other stuff to manipulate sand are fun, but they seem to love just using their hands. And low expectations are essential — you won’t be able to camp out and bake under the sun for 8 hours like you used when you were 20.

  11. Help! Need gift ideas for a 7 year old boy. He is really into Harry Potter (already has the books) and loves to play basketball. He is super smart for his age.

  12. Frozen stash says:

    Thanks for the input ladies! That was helpful.

  13. If you gave birth to a baby in early January, would you be ready to go away for a long weekend without the baby by late April? Baby would stay with my mother, who will be with me throughout maternity leave and will be the caregiver after I return to work. It’s a tradition for us to travel on our birthdays, and was kind of hoping to keep that alive, but now I’m a first time mom so I have no idea how I’ll feel.

    • avocado says:

      How about making fully refundable travel arrangements for a destination a short drive away? It is really impossible to predict in advance how you will feel. You might think “no way” in March and then be ready by April, or vice versa. Things just change so fast with babies that little.

      Your comfort level may also depend on your trust in the caregiver. I left overnight for the first time when my daughter was around 18 months. It was a business trip and she was with her dad, so I had zero issues and actually sort of enjoyed it. A few months later we left her overnight with my husband’s parents, and I was so worried that they would let her sleep on a soft surface or get into a car accident that I cried.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        ^This last paragraph. Yes, so much yes. I could do it if my mom was watching my son at that point, but not anyone else. This is still true and my son is almost 8. He can visit my parents for a week and I know he’s fine and I don’t worry, but every time he’s with his biological father for a weekend I’m a nervous wreck

    • Cornellian says:

      I gave birth January 6 last year. Are you planning on breastfeeding? Honestly, I would have been borderline ready from an emotional perspective, but don’t think I could have handled it physically as a breastfeeding mom. Your supply will still be regulating at that point; pumping doesn’t work well for everyone; even for those for whom it’s easy, it’s a lot of work to mimic your baby’s schedule and deal with pump, pump parts, bottles, sanitizing etc on the road; and you are definitely prone to blocked ducts and related problems at that point. I think a night away would be more manageable.

    • Another vote for refundable reservations! You really won’t know until you’re near the time. Baby will be a-ok with a competent caregiver, so it’s going to be about how you guys feel as parents and whether the stand-in caregiver is up for it. I would have been fine leaving DD with DH at that time, and certainly left her during the day with a nanny and with a night nurse at times, but probably would have passed on a weekend away with DH. Next kid, though, we’re already talking about taking a weekend early on to go recharge. We’ll see how we feel when we get there. :)

    • Marilla says:

      I wouldn’t have been ready for that by 4-5 months – I think either emotionally or logistically with nursing (I didn’t pump at all since I was home for a year). However this is totally up to each person – I like the idea of making refundable arrangements for an overnight nearby.

    • I would not have been ready emotionally. Plus, I was breastfeeding at the time, and pumping would have put a big damper on any weekend away.

      Around 8 months, we did two nights away for a good friend’s wedding. The wedding was about an hour from my parents’ house, so we flew to my parents’ city and then drove their car to where the wedding was. I was no longer breastfeeding by then. I trusted my parents. And I took comfort in the fact that we were an hour’s drive away if things went south for anybody. (Looking back, though, DH and I both drank so much one night that we would not have been able to drive ourselves back anyways, so I guess we weren’t actually worried.)

    • I’m going to agree with everyone that it totally depends on your comfort level, which will be hard to know before the baby is here. I wouldn’t have been comfortable with it at that point, largely because baby is still breastfeeding pretty often.

      Could you make reservations and plan on bringing the baby? They don’t need an extra ticket at that age, and are actually pretty portable because they aren’t moving yet. Then you can decide last minute if you want the baby to stay with grandma or not.

      • Cornellian says:

        Agreed. and if you want to bring baby, you can hire a sitter where you are and pop in for nursing, etc.

      • Jeffiner says:

        I agree, bring the baby. My daughter was 5 months old when we took her on her first trip, and she did great. I enjoy traveling with her.

    • Nope.

    • No. Partly because it’s not a vacation when you’re bringing a breast pump.

    • mascot says:

      For me, yes. We did an overnight away when our baby was around 6-7 weeks old. I weaned at 4.5 months, though, so that drastically simplified the process. Our baby took a week long trip with my parents around 7 months old. You may not emotionally be ready for the separation or you may be totally comfortable. Both are ok. But, I agree that you should make refundable reservations until you know for sure.

    • Another vote to just bring the baby, both for peace of mind and because pumping makes it really not a vacation. Babies are pretty easy travelers at 3 months.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m a first time mom, DD is 9 months. I was (and still am) nowhere near ready to leave my baby overnight. I had a hard time leaving her with my parents and a nanny for 12 hours when I was in my friends wedding. Pre-baby I thought we would certainly go away for our anniversary when she was 6 months old, nope nope nope! It really depends on the person though. We also nurse, so having to pump on the trip (including 2-3 times at night when she was 3 months) wouldn’t have been great. I think I’ll be ready when she’s 18 months old.

  15. For how long do you consider home cooked leftovers good in the fridge? For months now we’ve been cooking food on Sunday to eat through the following Friday, so five days. This includes meals for our toddler. I never thought much of it but then saw the FDA recommends 3-4 days in the fridge for meat. Yes, I realize the safest way to proceed would be to follow the FDA rec exactly, but we have indeed been operating this way for months without issue and I’m leaning toward agreeing with DH that it’s just a conservative guideline and we’re fine. Looking for some anecdata. Thanks!

    • Anonymous says:

      We routinely eat food that is a week old, although my goal is a few days less. (I like to freeze things, and my husband likes to avoid freezing).

    • avocado says:

      If you are worried, how about freezing half the prepared food on Sunday and putting it in the fridge on Tuesday to defrost for use Wednesday – Friday?

      • I think this is a good solution. I’m not comfortable with more than 4 days for myself and 3 for our toddler, while my husband will eat food well past that. For me I’d much rather err on the conservative side than deal with one bout of family puking.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      I eat week-old food, and give it to my toddler, but that’s about my limit. So, 5 days is totally fine with me.

    • I’ll leave things in the fridge for a week and then through it out on the principle that it’s been a week, even though it sometimes still looks good!

    • Anonanonanon says:

      I try to follow the FDA guidelines (mostly because we both work for departments of health and would not want our colleagues investigating our foodborne illness) but if you dig deeper into the FDA guidelines there’s actually a chart that specifies the amount of time for each specific type of food, and I find that I generally agree with/find it easy to follow those guidelines. However, a lot of them are in the 3-5 day range as you mentioned, so I think cooking on Sunday and eating on Friday it’s unreasonable.
      Some stuff I do let stay longer, though. For example, an opened pack of hot dogs is generally going to be in my fridge longer than the recommended 1 week (in a sealed bag, of course) but I ensure it’s cooked to the proper temp. Ensuring foods are safely reheated is the most important thing. Microwave is safer than oven, for example.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        Also I’d recommend a fridge thermometer to make sure your fridge is staying at the right temp and a meat thermometer to make sure you’re reheating to the right temp, that will mitigate the risks a lot.

      • Interesting. We do have a fridge thermometer. I definitely eat leftovers, including cooked meat, cold straight out of the fridge like…more often than I reheat it. I love cold leftovers and so does toddler. And I just now looked it up and realized I maybe shouldn’t be doing this, or at least shouldn’t be having toddler do this. Definitely something to think on. Thanks for the info!

    • I had a friend who went away for a weekend for a bachelorette party when the baby was only 8 weeks old. she said it was nice to get out for a weekend and had no trouble leaving! everyone is different. if you usually go for 3 nights maybe this time go for 2? you could go some place driving distance + refundable hotel, or on southwest while you can’t get a refund, you can get a credit.

    • My rule of thumb is seven days.

      Anecdatum: Pre-kids, I used to play fast and loose even with this rule. I once ate some homemade (vegetarian) food that was a little more than 2 weeks old, took a red eye that night, thought I was going to throw up on the plane. I have never had the slightest bit of tummy trouble with food that is seven days old. My guess is that the FDA rule is too conservative.

      • Just to add: I only keep fish in the fridge for 2-4 days, depending on the fish and the preparation, because I typically don’t cook it all the way through.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Late post, but I’m fried and trying to finish up year end reviews while sick and tired. I have an associate who has an “affect,” and I’m struggling with how to incorporate it into her review. She tends to be a bit of a know it all, even with senior partners. With clients, she can project confidence, but I get annoyed when she pushes back or second guesses to a degree that is overreaching. I want to encourage her confidence with clients, while encouraging her to tamp it down slightly internally. Is there a way to communicate this in a review? Is it even appropriate for a review since I’ve not discussed with her personally? It is otherwise a very favorable review.

    • Is she playing devils advocate in an effort to issue spot or is she showing off? Does she really disagree on the theory of a case and isn’t expressing it well? Perhaps frame in as keeping internal clients happy and knowing when you’ve been overruled. If you are the one giving her the review, then maybe you can save this for some in person comments if you can’t quite find the phrasing on paper.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Is she speaking beyond her knowledge? Is she wrong? Because you should be reviewing her based on the substantive quality of her insights, not on whether she’s allowed to share those insights…I’ve had to step back a few times when I was judging a junior person for speaking more freely than I would have done. Just because I felt like I didn’t have a seat at the decision-making table, doesn’t mean I should perpetuate that for future generations.

      But if she is incorrect, or speaking without the underlying knowledge of what she’s talking about, then yes, put that in her review. Something like, “[Person] sometimes speaks without having all the information. For instance, in [X] situation, [person] interrupted senior employee about [topic] without knowing facts A, B and C. While I value [person’s] input, I would like to see her ask more questions and gather more information before second-guessing her colleagues.” And if you don’t have a specific example, don’t put it in writing.

      If you think she is making waves that could get her in trouble politically, then talk with her about it. Don’t put it in writing.

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