Pumping at work: Responding to unsupportive colleagues

The other day, a friend of mine wrote online about the trouble she’s having pumping at work. Coworkers walk in on her while she’s pumping milk for her baby. She’s rushing to pump and still get back to her class in time to teach. And unsupportive colleagues are making insensitive comments.

Because that’s just what a working mom needs: Flak for doing her best to feed her baby, continue her career and maintain her own health.

(Skeptical that pumping is more than a luxury or convenience to breastfeeding women? Please read this NPR article about the health risks of not being able to pump breast milk regularly.)

Other moms and I jumped in to defend our friend online, since we can’t drive to work with her and stand up to those jerks in person. Unfortunately. Though I’d totally do it.

We suggested a handful of comebacks a working mom could use to the ignorant, curious or hostile comments she got. If you’re heading back to work—or are already back and are unsure of how to respond to coworkers—here are ready-to-use replies for an unsupportive colleague’s comments about your about pumping at work.

Pumping at work is hard enough without unsupportive coworkers. Here's how to respond to insensitive, mean or just ignorant comments. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Flashcards fun: 5 ways to entertain your kids for $1

Think back to high school or college and you will probably not have fond memories of flashcards. I know I don’t. I break out in a sweat when I remember quizzing myself on the date of the transcontinental railroad for my AP US History test and, later, on the mating habits of bonobos. (That last one was for Evolution of Human Sexuality, an unforgettable anthropology class in college, in which my professor stood on a chair at the head of a 300-person lecture hall and pretend-birthed a baby doll. Awesome!)

But unless you’re prepping your kid to get into that genius pre-K program (please tell me you’re not), your preschooler hasn’t formed an anxious association with flashcards just yet. So it’s time to get in on some flashcards fun!

All you need for these 5 games is a pack of flash cards—just $1 at the store. Your kids will have fun with these easy, portable kid friendly activities! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Make the most of new moms’ group

When Kiwi was three weeks old, I packed a diaper bag, strapped her into her car seat and drove to a nearby new moms’ group. I felt shockingly good for being just a few weeks postpartum. I had put on mascara. My nursing tank was clean. I felt ready to meet new people, build a village in a relatively new community and offer the wisdom I’d already gained, having done this whole newborn thing once before.

In the coming weeks and months, though, that I can do this! attitude crumbled under the weight of sleep deprivation, Kiwi’s silent reflux and my own postpartum depression.

In those months, the new moms’ group became a lifeline.

Joining a new moms' group can offer support, ideas and the amazing friendships that will last your kids' entire childhood. Here's how to make the most of it. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Why join a new moms’ group?

A friend of a friend who was expecting once scoffed at the idea of a new moms’ group. “Why would I ever pay to join a group where people would tell me what I already know?” she asked. I didn’t know her that well, so I kept my mouth shut.

But here, I’ll tell her what have gained going to a new moms’ group, both with Kiwi and Peeper. I got:

  • Unconditional support. My fellow mamas were there every week, and they listened to me no matter what.
  • Ideas. I have a new question nearly every week, from how to transition a baby out of a swaddle to how to make sure your cruiser doesn’t faceplant in the tub. Brainstorming ideas with a room full of experts—aka moms—gives me more tips to try.
  • A chance to help others. Especially now that Kiwi is older, we have been through much of what moms with younger babies are struggling with. I, then, can chime in with what worked for us.
  • A reason to get out of the house. Having a newborn can feel like living under house arrest. It feels good to leave the house—and even better if you get to interact with people other than the checkout lady at Target.

Joining a new moms' group offers a lifeline in one of the most challenging parts of your life. Here's how to make the most of it. Ten Thousand Hour MamaThe families you meet at new moms' group will become your village—and your baby's besties! Make the most of the group you join—here's how. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Win at new moms’ group

Not all new moms’ groups are the same, but I have been unspeakably fortunate to have found the communities within the moms’ groups for Peeper and Kiwi.

That said, it takes a little effort to make the most of a new moms’ group.

New moms group night out

Based on my experience, I offer these suggestions to connect deeply and build your village.

  1. Be vulnerable. Motherhood is not easy. No one expects you to be that uber together mom. (Does she even exist? I don’t really think so.) And, as the wonderful facilitator who runs my new moms’ group says, “Being vulnerable is a gift. By opening up, you allow others to be vulnerable, too.”
  2. Start a Facebook group. Crises always seem to strike at 3am, and having a place to vent/ask questions/post a picture of your baby’s weird poop—at any hour of the day—helps you stay sane.
  3. Don’t leave without getting someone’s number. Exchange numbers with at least one person each time you go to new moms’ group. Then don’t be shy to text.
  4. Keep a standing date. Every week after new moms’ group, a handful of mamas and babies go to lunch together. There’s no strict commitment—we attend as our schedules (and kids!) allow—but we know the option of grabbing a bite or heading out for a picnic is always on the table.
  5. Plan play dates. Every so often, one mom hosts a play date. The get-together gives our kids a chance to play/poke each other’s eyes and gives us a chance to catch up.
  6. Introduce your families. In new moms’ group, we see our mom friends and their tiny babies. Most of us have a partner, and some of us have older kids, too—none of whom come to group. Meeting the whole family, like we did for a holiday party and a giant brunch potluck, strengthens our ties. Some of the dads are becoming friends, too!

All the babies! Joining a new moms' group will build your village when you most need it. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

I’m still friends with many of the women I met during the new moms’ group I attended when Peeper was born. It’s been a beautiful experience watching their babies grow from tiny peanuts into preschoolers.

I feel so fortunate to have built this community—this village—of moms. But don’t take my word for it. If you have a new baby, test out a new moms’ group for yourself. It’s in your power to create a nurturing, supportive, loving and fun community to raise your baby—and yourself as a new mama.

Did you find a supportive community when you were a new parent?

11 reasons why I love breastfeeding

Back before I had Peeper, I felt ambivalent about breastfeeding. I resented the fact that people assumed I would breastfeed my baby (what if I wanted to use formula instead?), and I didn’t have a goal of nursing her for a certain stretch of time.

Two babies, two years and uncountable challenges later, I have a totally different perspective:

I love nursing my baby.

Despite the hard parts of nursing—considering formula, low supply, mastitis, clogged ducts, tongue tie and more—I love feeding my baby. Here's why I love breastfeeding. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Here’s why I love breastfeeding—in spite of our troubles nursing.
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I have bounced all the bounces: When sleep training works

When I graduated high school, a group of friends and I went camping alongside the sand dunes at Honeyman State Park. We went skinny dipping, we played drinking games, we flirted—and, gathered around a campfire, we burned the spiral notebooks and three-punch paper we had filled with notes on biology, history and literature.

As remnants of high school went up in smoke, I felt ready for a new chapter to begin.

I’m considering doing the same with our giant stability ball—because that’s apparently what I do when sleep training works.

Don't let anyone mommy guilt you about sleep training your baby. Ferber works—and it gave me my life back. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Powered by breastmilk

Powered by breastmilk breastfeedingKiwi is powered by breastmilk.

She rolls, she giggles, she kicks, she chews on anything she can get her gummy mouth on.

She has dimpled cheeks and rolls on her thighs.

She watches her sister play, stares out the car window on drives, listens to books and turns toward any sound to figure out precisely what made that noise.

Up until last week, when Kiwi tried her first food, all that growth, activity, curiosity and learning was 100% fueled by breastmilk—magical, powerful, nourishing breastmilk. Read more

‘Twas the night before Christmas

IMG_4769“Tis the season of lowered expectations,” I recently texted a dear friend and fellow mom of two. Because in this month of hyped-up hopes and dreams of how you’d like to celebrate, the reality is it’s hard to keep up—especially when you have a few kiddos in the mix.

So this year I tried to scale back what I planned to do at Christmas with my girls.

IMG_4766
Peeper really, really likes Christmas jammies.

Lowering Christmas expectations

It was hard to minimize expectations because Peeper is so into Christmas. If she’s refusing wind-down time before bed, I mention Christmas jammies and she sprints to her room. I bribe her not with candy or TV time but with the privilege of putting an ornament on the tree. She literally jumps up and down when I return from the mailbox: She wants to open “Christmas mail.” I’m pretty sure I could call asparagus Christmas trees and she’d dig in.

(Hey, that’s actually a good idea. I may try that.)

Yet when the day we’d planned to cut our own Christmas tree turned into a deluge, I said we could go to the lot instead. And when Kiwi was having a hard morning—and therefore I was having a hard morning—I suggested Eric take Peeper. And when the day got later and we were approaching Peeper’s nap time, I agreed that he should go by himself. And when it took the entire day to get the darn tree into the house, I didn’t mind (too much). And when we put up ornaments piecemeal throughout the week instead of decorating the tree as a family, I sighed but realized I could live with it.

See? Lowered expectations. Read more