Joanna Anastasia

raising kids

10 tips for a better postpartum time and surviving first weeks with a newborn

10 tips for a better postpartum time (1)

As a mom of three now, I had all sorts of postpartums  – there was the first one, when I was exhausted and in shock over my life changing so drastically, the second one, with a postpartum depression, and lately the third one, definitely the calmest of all. Even though my third baby had colics, and even though I already had two older kids around. And I think that it all went so much better this time around thanks to of some things I learned over time.

So If you are pregnant now and trying to imagine and plan how this new chapter in your life will pass, or if you just had a baby and feel overwhelmed, here are some things that may help to have a better postpartum time and survive these first weeks with a newborn :

  1. Give yourself grace. Your body just went through truly amazing transformation and  it’s normal that it takes time to heal. It’s perfectly normal that it looks different now. And yes, once you give birth you still look pregnant for a while! Take these first weeks very slowly. Both with expectations of what you’ll accomplish, as physically.  For some woman it may be a month and more, for some only a week or two but all woman in postpartum need time to physically heal and emotionally adjust.
  2. Don’t fight with your baby’s instincts. While our society may tell us to go out, put the baby in a crib in a nursery and sleep train, these first three months are actually a baby’s fourth trimester – a time when they need to be close to us, feel our presence and be cuddled, nursed and reassured as much as they want. So using a baby carrier ( even at home) , having a little bassinet next to your bed ( or even co sleeping) and not planning too much, might be actually the best things you can do for your baby and your sanity!Great tips and tips from a mom of three- how to seyrvive the newborn phase, and how to have a better postpartum time
  3. Ask for help. Especially if you have older kids. Ask for help while healing and ask for help while being sleep deprived after a month or two with a newborn. It doesn’t make you less of an independent woman to ask and accept help. Remember, it takes a village to raise a kid. And every child is different, so even if you have older kids, you can still feel lost and powerless. Find a breastfeeding consultant as soon as you feel you’re struggling and don’t wait to the last minute to call your health care provider – google search might make you feel just more nervous when in doubd!
  4. Prioritize you and your baby, because everything else can wait. Yes, even the older kids, even the laundry, even the dishes. And there’s no harm in feeding your older kids with sandwiches and cereal for a month or two – if you’re alone and there’s nobody to help you around, it’s totally fine to lower your standards and switch to a survival mode!Great tips and tips from a mom of three- how to seyrvive the newborn phase, and how to have a better postpartum time
  5. Don’t ever talk negatively to yourself. Every time you think : I got nothing done today; I look fat, my belly is to big – you depreciate yourself and the amazing and important work you did and are still doing ! Embrace your postpartum body as it is. Soft, squishy, larger than before. No, you don’t need to “get your body back” you have the same body but more amazing! A body that grew life, gave birth and is maybe even feeding a baby! If you do exercise or try to eat healthy, do it for your well being. But don’t put too much pressure on yourself now.
  6. Do what works best for you and your baby – even if it’s something that you never thought you would do as a mother. And by that I mean whether it’s breastfeeding on demand or bottle feeding, co sleeping and baby wearing all the time, or feeling like you need to leave the house for a just little bit and introducing the bottle and a pacifier earlier than you thought – do what you feel works for you, and don’t let other people’s expectations guide your parenting.Great tips and tips from a mom of three- how to seyrvive the newborn phase, and how to have a better postpartum time
  7. Invest in pretty postpartum wardrobe. Sometimes it means that for a while you’ll be wearing a larger size then you youse to. Don’t ever wait for ” after I lose the weight” to dress pretty and appreciate your body for what it does. Go and get yourself couple of pieces that will fit you in your 4th trimester, with the squishy belly and all.
  8. Repeat to yourself : ” it’s just a phase, it will pass”. Every time your baby has colics, every time you’ll wake up as tired just as much as you where the night before, every time you”ll feel like crying. It will all pass. I promise. Research shows that when we look at challenges as something that will eventually pass, rather then a never ending obstacle, we gain perspective and we’re less stressed in the end!10 tips for a better postpartum time
  9. Find yourself a mama that has been there and that you can call anytime: when you are unsure of your choices, worried and feeling down. Someone that can listen. A real person, and not a google search bar!  Sharing your thoughts with someone who has been there will make you feel less alone.
  10. And lastly, don’t let the mom guilt creep in: whether you’re ” not enjoying every minute of it’ as you thought you would, or you feel that actually you would have it another way. Whether you feel like you’re not doing it right, or fear you’re making a lot of mistakes. It’s normal. You’re doing your best and that’s all that matters.

And know that most women feel the same, but socially we’re expected to express only joy and gratefulness over motherhood. But while it is the most beautiful thing that can happen in life, both rewarding and fulfilling, it’s also a big source of stress and frustration. And it’s only human to feel all the mixed emotions. The love, the gratefulness, the joy. The fear, frustration, and despair. Even in the same day, even all at once. 

And if you’re still pregnant and trying to prepare for the future or if it’s your first baby, just try to take one day at a time. Before you’ll know it, your newborn will turn in to a toddler, and then it’s a whole different story altogether !

 

Great tips and tips from a mom of three- how to seyrvive the newborn phase, and how to have a better postpartum time

 

Why you should travel with kids- even if it seems difficult

“Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination.” – Roy M. Goodman

Since our first daughter was born, six and a half years ago, we traveled as a family to Poland, Croatia, France, Barbados, and Cuba. We visited far regions of our province Quebec and while at times it was difficult, it was also something that I’ll never forget.

Because travelling with kids is being really present in the moment, it’s enjoying the unexpected and not planning too much. 

Of course, travelling with babies and toddlers isn’t for the weak: kids might sleep bad and whine half of the time. Sometimes the planned sightseeing attraction can turn out to be the-biggest-tantrum-trigger-ever, but then the unplanned stop to soothe a crying baby can turn out to be the most magical place on the way!

why you should travel with kids

why you should travel with kidswhy you should travel with kidswhy you should travel with kids

Traveling with kids is also a patience test : the time it takes to dress, the time it takes to get to the beach, the time it takes to look at all the rocks and flowers on the way.

But it also means that while traveling with kids, you see more details. And sometimes they’re so lovely, you’re happy you took time to slow down.

So if you’re still doubting if your family is ready to travel together, here are the reasons why I think you should give it a try:

  1. Family bonding.  While family bonding can happen anywhere, it’s during travel that families bond the most. Sharing new experiences with people around us leaves us with the feeling of closeness, and having more time together then usually, mixed with the lack of every-day responsibilities, results in stronger attachment and bonding!
  2. Natural learning.  Instead of teaching kids about other cultures, show them other cultures! They’ll remember much better the differences between renaissance and middle ages architecture if they’ll get a chance to see that architecture in person.
  3. Developing self esteem. Kids who travel and are put in new and challenging for them situations – such as ordering food in a new language, making new friends on the beach, helping with packing and travel organization – grow to feel competent and mentally strong.
  4. Language skills- we all know that learning a new language at home with a book is never as efficient and fun as being emerged in that language. And even if the trip lasts only a week, it can sparkle the motivation and curiosity needed to learn a new language!
  5. Making memories that will help in dark moments. We all have moments of self doubt, sadness and loneliness – even our kids. Having a bank of happy memories to look back at during these moments can help dealing with stress and anxiety.
  6. Time passing slower- with lots of things happening within one day, our brains get tricked in to experiencing time differently then during the day filled with repetitive every-day activities. When we travel we get to see so many new places, people and things that our brains are much more busy then usually with processing it all –  and in the end, we have an impression of the time passing slower, and our days happier then usually.

why you should travel with kidswhy you should travel with kids

 

why you should travel with kidswhy you should travel with kidswhy you should travel with kids

And in the end, I really believe that travelling kids is like depositing coins in their own bank of happiness- and ours too. Even if we’re traveling with a baby who won’t remember anything on a conscious level – they will take in the atmosphere of excitement, smiles of relaxed parents and sound of a new language. And I think that this is truly priceless.

why you should travel with kids

And if you’re wandering HOW to make travelling with kids easier, here are my best tips for traveling with a toddler, and here are my best tips for camping with kids! Also I’ll be sharing more of my tips and tricks for plane travel soon, so stay tuned!

if you're wandering if you're ready to travel with your kids- here's WHY you should and why you'll love it!

 

Parenting mantra for the days you’re in doubt.

parenting mantra for the moments when you feel like you can't mother anymore

Gone are the days when my anxieties consisted of the choice between the bottle feed-breast feed or both. Gone are the struggles of potty training and the terrible twos meltdowns. I’m pretty ok with how my kids share their toys, how they play independently and how they sleep through the night. They learned ro talk in two languages and they even like sushi and indian food.

I used to share my solutions for picky eating problems and for teaching kids how to play alone.I would give tips on teaming tantrums and on dealing with a strong willed child. I used to be alarmed by a new behavior, then try various technics and quickly find a solution. The results where fast and lasting and then I would blog about it. Because babies and toddlers are like that. Difficult but easy in a way.

Now I have a 6-year-old who’s sass have turned in to attitude, and who’s strong will have turned in to ridiculous stubbornness. Every month there’s a new thing on my radar and every day I’m asking myself if she’ll actually turn out ok? Will she become a compassionate human being? Will she ever stop with the tantrums? Let’s just say that I’m in doubt more often then not.

And with these thoughts, I fell like I should stop writing about parenting all together. Because lately I have more questions than answers to be honest.

And while reading other parenting blogs I have an impression it’s not only me: somehow we share in general less and less while the kids step in to the school age. I guess this is when we realize that there are no easy solutions that work anymore, and that our kids are these little complex humans who are changing everyday now.

See, I used to be able to find solutions to all the parenting problems I encountered and now I hope that ” it’s just a phase and it will pass”. And this has become my mantra. It’s just a phase. It will pass.

parenting tips

Motherhood is a funny thing,. We hope for the best outcome, but we don’t really know how to get there. And we all have a different definition of ‘”there”.  For me, it’s kind and happy independent kids. Who know what they want, and who are in connection with others.

And I heard somewhere, that the best way to understand someone ( who’s acting bad) is not by accusing him, but by compassionateing with him.

So my only answer to all these questions lately is to try to be more understanding. Even of the biggest attitude and of the biggest meltdown. Because keeping my calm and compassion can go a long way. And I hope that by showing kids empathy, they will learn it too. And for everything else, I repeat my mantra: it’s just a phase. It will pass.

10 tips to raise self-driven girls

10 tips to raise self driven girls, girls who'll know what they want and how to get it.. while staying kind and open minded. Parenting tips and ideas for every girl mom (or dad)

Recently I’ve met this self-driven, beautiful and successful women, a real girl boss, and while talking to her, she said lowering her voice that she is a feminist. And then she looked around to see if anyone listened. I just smiled and said that she doesn’t need to worry about words around me, because I consider myself as a feminist, and I hope to raise my girls to be feminists too. And I realized, that even if a boss lady from a big city is afraid to use this world, then there’s still so much work to be done.

What does it mean to be or not a feminist, is still a huge discussion. Lots of educated self-driven woman will say they’re not, they’re just strong and believe in right for education and equal pay. Many stay at home mom’s that I know will openly say that they are feminists. Many feminists will say that a woman who doesn’t work isn’t really a feminist, and many SAHM’s will see feminists as arrogant and self centered people.

Recently Emma Watson, a young, self-driven actress and a voice of modern feminism, was criticized for doing a photo shoot that showed her breasts a bit more then she usually does. And she was accused of not being a feminist.. by feminists.. And it just showed how much misconceptions there are out there.

But in the end, aren’t all self-driven women who believe in freedom of choice feminists? Be it engineer, a stay-at-home-mom, or both . If all of them believe girls should have access to education and health services, then I think they are all feminist. So why be scared of this word?

People have these ideas about what a women should be, how should she act and look. And as a mom of two girls, who’ll become woman all too soon, I want them to know that in these discussions, what’s really important is the attitude, that freedom that you give yourself and others. Not an etiquette.

I hope to raise girls who won’t have these misconceptions about other women. About how a woman should look, act and talk in order to be seen as a good / intelligent / feminine / good mother / well raised / feminist enough / liberated / modest enough etc. Who won’t really care about all these etiquette’s and labels. Who won’t listen to others saying what they can and can’t do, but who’ll listen to their own inner voice. I hope to be raising self-driven girls.

I hope they’ll only follow a social code for being kind and open minded people. That they’ll decide for themselves how they should live their life. That they won’t be afraid of a word feminism. Nor strength nor motherhood nor femininity. I hope they’ll grow in to women who won’t judge other woman for being too much: too loud, too opinionated, too timid, too modest, too sexy, too carrier driven, too mommy-like. That they won’t say other woman are not enough: not enough of a feminist, not enough of a mother, not enough of a lady, not enough of a professional. Women who won’t put a tag on other women. Nor on themselves.

raising self-driven girls

So how do I make sure that my daughters will grow in to self driven, non-judgmental kind and open women? Well, of course time will only show if I succeeded, but for now, here’s what I do:

  1. I want them to choose for themselves. Be it putting their food on their plate, choosing their clothes, or crafts ideas, as long as it makes sense and isn’t in conflict with their safety or health, I want them to learn to take their own decisions. Girls who make their own decisions from young age are less likely to believe that that they need to fit in the stereotype in order to have friends or be beach ready. They are also more likely to choose a carer path ( or a motherhood route) in tune with their true feelings and dreams.
  2. I encourage them to (politely) argument why they want or don’t wan’t something. I think that often we tend to teach girls to be polite first and to say what they wan’t second, while we teach boys to stand for themselves first and be polite second. Well I think that kids need both, and that girls need more then ever to stand for themselves and say what they want. Because if ever they choose to be a working professional, nobody will give them a raise just because they waited politely for it to happen.
  3. I try to teach them the difference between an opinion and a judgment. Which means it’s fine to say at home what they like and dislike, but it’s not fine to say that other’s likes and dislikes are stupid or silly. ( Let’s say that this one is a starting point to many sisterly disputes around the table, and that we’are still working on it!).
  4. I try to talk to them about people around us, and their life choices in a way that they can see the ocean of possibilities rather then good and bad paths to follow. I have friends who are working full time and raising kids, I have friends who are full time stay at home moms, I have friends who don’t have kids, and who travel and live alone. Some are vegetarian and some dress in a different way. Some have tattoos and some are a part of a bible study. When we talk about other people I try to always let them know that all choices are good, as long as they come from the heart.
  5. I try to explain to them how everyone has their own perspective, and how we should always think abut how things look from a different point of view. Books and movies are always a great starting point. Imaginative play is another. I’d ask them how would you feel now if you where ( insert : your sister, or cat, your grandma, me, etc..) this exercise may be too difficult for a toddler, but my five year old got pretty good in it.
  6. Get dad involved. Girls who see men tackling house duties are more likely to believe that anyone can do anything.
  7. I let my girls help around, both in the kitchen as with tools ( as much as they can in their age). I hope they’ll be able to see which type of work they prefer ( and if both, then good for them!)
  8. I talk to them about publicity in the media and social stereotypes ( still very present in mainstream TV), even if they are really young. I’d say: look, this is someone who’s trying to sell us something ( and then we’d guess what is it). This isn’t real life. This may not be as good of a product as they say. I want them to be very judgmental when it comes to publicity, as this is where a lot of social messages are hidden, especially regarding how women should look and dress.
  9.  Whatever you do, tell your story to your kids, let them know why you choose to stay at home with them or work, or do both. Read them stories of other women and their different life choices. ( Great book that I’m recently in love in, is: “Bedtime stories for rebel girls” , not that rebellious after all, but very touching with 100 stories of women throughout the history, following their path and their dreams often against all the odds).
  10. And above all, I try to acknowledge their emotions, because I believe that only by letting them express their feelings, and experience kindness and compaction, they’ll learn how to be kind and compassionate themselves. (Within healthy boundaries and limits off-course!).

So for me raising self-driven girls, means raising girls who are kind and strong, sure of what they want and not afraid of social tags. Girls who don’t look at people from above, and who don’t care about stereotypes. Girls who follow their dreams. And who encourage others. Who are feminists. Now, wish me luck in making that happen!

 

 

How I teach my kids tolerance

 

While me and my family, we live in a big city, in our every day actions we still live mostly in our small circle of family and friends. And they are all a lot like us, white Caucasians celebrating Christmas and Halloween, wearing similar clothing and with pretty similar cultural and educational background.

But the world is much bigger then that. And I wish for my kids not to fear the difference, not to despise other ways of living and never believe people who say, that anyone who’s different then us, is our enemy.

I hope they’ll love exploring the world with an open mind and a big heart. 

But then again, as I said, our little circle is quite homogenic. And we all feel best when surrounded by people who think alike and act alike ( even while eating some east Indian take out). So teaching my kids about different ways of living and thinking is not that easy.

Luckily, there’s one thing that I’m happy worked out for my family and that helps me here: my kids part-time daycare.

My girls go here three times a week. And their friends are all different, with different cultural and religious backgrounds. Some speak French at home, some English, some Spanish and some Arabic. And the lovely ladies who take care of my daughters, are Muslim with their hair covered. And I couldn’t be happier about it.

By spending their days with them, they live the diversity and tolerance.

And they don’t even see the difference between our neighbor who wears high heels and very short dresses, and their day care educator dressed in a long sleeve and covering their hair. And I believe there’s none. These two women have chosen to dress according to the expectations of their circle of important people and values they where thought as kids. And according to what they believe they should do, in order to fit in to their culture’s norms. One believes she should be modest, and one believes she should be sexy. Both want to fit in the expectations of their family and friends. And I can look beyond that, and be friends with both, and that’s what I hope to be teaching my kids to do. 

I explain them, that even me I do things I don’t really like, only because in my culture as a women I’m expect to be doing these things: I shave my legs. I wear a bra. Sometimes even high heels, if I want to look elegant and well dressed. This is our cultural code. Of course, in our society I have a certain freedom and choice. ( That I hope my daughters will feel they have too, and who knows, maybe they won’t do thing as I do).  But there’s cultural pressure. My neighbor, she goes a notch higher : she does her hair every day, has fake eye lashes and had two plastic surgeries. And my daughter’s daycare educator covers her hair and never wears shorts. I don’t think we’re that different. In the end we are all women who want to be accepted. Who like to laugh. Who like kids and chatting about our favorite TV series. So I always try to show to my girls how similar people are in many ways. Even if they seem different.

And I hope my kids will learn to be tolerant and to see beyond these first-impression-differences. And that they’ll understand that we are all so similar.

So what I tell my daughters, is that we are all expected to look and behave in a certain way, and that depending from family, city or country, these expectations will be different. That as kids we learn to like certain flavors, places and even music, and that how we act is a result of where and how we grew. But we should always look beyond that, and see the real person.

how I teach my kids tolerance

And so here’s how I try to teach my kids tolerance:

  •  We read books about children from different cultural backgrounds.  Book that talk about being different then others, and abut embracing differences. Books that encourage finding your way and accepting others.
  • I try to get my kids in situations where not everyone is the same and different cultures mix together ( Like our multicultural daycare.  But it could be a camp, a day camp, a library activity or a festival. )
  • We try to travel to place where people live in a different way then we do. ( though not as often as I’d like, I’ll admit )
  • I explain them how in the end we are all the same: we want to be accepted, we want to have a loving family and nice neighbors!
  • I teach them about their own couture and traditions without undermining others.

I really believe that tolerant kids are happier, and that in the future these kids will be able help their communities better. And that in the end, we are all very alike.

How to organize kid’s shared bedroom

how to organize a room for a kids shared bedroom

I believe that when young children share one bedroom, they become closer together. Though sometimes the space is so small that it seems challenging to transform it in to a bedroom for two! But after almost two years of my two daughters sharing one tiny room, I have learned some tricks to make it work!

See, as soon as my younger daughter Rose started to sleep through the night, I’ve put my older’s daughter bed next to the baby crib. And that’s how they started sharing a bedroom together. Now, I think it has been one of the best parenting decisions that I had made so far. They became best friends. They sing each other lullabies before they fall asleep and they laugh and play first thing in the morning (which let’s me sleep longer!).

Though I know that organizing a cohesive, comfortable and practical space for two kids can be difficult. Here’s how you can make it work for your kids:

1. Choose a theme that’ll appeal to both of your children.

Decorating one room for two kids can be tricky, a specially if you’re trying to include their interests and characters.

That’s why instead of trying to match two different themes in one room, try something more general, like a color palette that’ll appeal to both of them. Then, using colours as your guide, add individual touches.

2. Pick furniture that’ll pass the test of time.

Choosing furniture that is good quality will save you money and time in a long run. Also while picking new beds, think about your kids needs in a couple of years : will they still fit in, will they be comfortable, will their style match their changing interests?

So instead of changing from the baby crib to a toddler bed and then to big girls bed, I decided to switch my younger daughters crib for a big girls bed right away. The small room looks more cohesive with matching beds, and the nighttime reading is so much more comfortable now!

shared bedroom

3. Go for neutrals and simplicity and then add accessories.

Since you’re organizing a room for two kids, you have double the chances that they’ll get bored with a flashy wall color or a bed in a shape of a car. Why won’t invest in a simple furniture that’ll match their growing personalities and neutral painted walls that’ll match any changing bedding.

4. Make organization a priority.

Two kids in one room doesn’t need to mean twice as mess. Add baskets for toys underneath the beds, and make sure that their clothes are easy to reach. Use vertical space above kids beds for storing small toys.

5. Accentuate personal space.

Let each of your kids have something unique: like a special decoration on top of their bed, or a shelf with their favorite figurines, a basket with their favorite toys underneath their bed, or a different bedding arrangements. If your children are old enough to read alone make sure they have a night lamp each. Let them choose the accent colors and let them arrange their own toys the way they like it.

6. Unify the space.

However if your kids are in the age when they always want what the other one is having, then you might like to unify their sleeping area as much as possible: by getting the same bedding and accessories for their beds. My daughters are two years apart, so in my situation unifying their room is the only way to go!

7. Keep it simple.

If your children do have a separate playroom, then keeping their bedroom as calming as possible will help them fall asleep easier. While decorating the bedroom, keep in mind that anything that attracts attention during the day, will do so also while you want them to fall asleep. So if you have a restless toddler, go for calmer colors and less toys around.

And that’s why most of the decorations in by girls bedroom is above their bed’s, so when they fall asleep it doesn’t distract them!

Sources:

Furniture: Leon’s

Unicorn and the tooth pillow : Brooklyn’s Room

Quilt: Not Sew Strange

Cloud Pillows: TwoLitlleTadpoles

Calligraphy print: Invited By Audriana

Unicorn in the purse: Endee Made

Dreamcatcher :Posh Pax Designs

Colorful prints on the shelf: free here on Pinterest

Rainbow/doughnut blankets : Little and Luxe Shop

Tassel garland : GenWoo

Great tips to help you organize a shared bedroom for yout kids: even in a very small space!

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