As a committed international adventure traveler, I often get asked for tips for traveling with tots in tow. You asked - here they are!1. Keep it Simple
I swore when we had kids that we would still travel to cool places like Africa and India and more specifically, NOT travel to any big, tacky, all-inclusive resorts. After a few miserable cross-country and international trips, I gave in and realized it just wasn't any fun. Now, I'm not even embarrassed to admit that we travel to Mexico and stay in those big all-inclusive beach resorts every year, and we have fun! 2. Strategic Airplane Seating
If you're traveling more than 2 hours, buy a seat for your kid, even if your baby is under two. It will be worth every penny. If you don't have an extra seat, be strategic about your seat assignments. If traveling with two parents, book aisle & window seats -- the guy in the middle will gladly move! If that's not an option, get to the airport early, bring your baby in your arms (mom) for check-in, smile, and ask politely if there are any better seats for your family. Sometimes, unless a flight is oversold, the ground staff may even "block" a middle seat, giving you a whole row.
3. Feeding for Take-offs and Landings
Time feedings during take off and landing. If they're nursing, sucking on a bottle, or snacking on cheerios for take-off and landing, their ears will pop naturally, it will be easier on you, and they're more likely to pass out with the motion.
4. Car Seats You might hear that you need car seats on the airplane, but you don't. If you're renting a car, leave your car seats at home and book car seats with your car rental company. Request infant, toddler or booster based on your child's needs. If you must bring car seats, check them so you don't have to bring them through security. You can buy a car seat cover like this to protect your seat in general baggage.
5. Go With the FlowInstead of stressing about naps and where your kids sleep, can you give yourself permission to forget about your routines, where and when your baby sleeps, and just have fun? Your baby will sleep in the car, in the stroller, she may get overtired or want to sleep in your hotel bed with you. Can you let go of your fear that your baby won't get enough sleep, or have sleep regressions when you get home? Honestly, it's going to happen whether or not you stick to your routines and schedules, so why not skip the stress and have more fun!?!I know there's so much more travel wisdom out there, so if you have any more great family travel tips, share them with us here!
Those of you who already know me, know that I’m totally transparent and humble about my own parenting struggles. And I’m just going to tell you straight: Nearly 9 years into parenting, I still struggle with a lot of the same things that you do.
I still don’t get enough sleep. I’m still plagued with fears, anxiety and guilt about what I should and shouldn’t do. I’m constantly worried that I’m doing something wrong, and I often feel like I’m failing at everything. I’m scared that my kids will struggle at school, that they won’t make any friends, that my apartment will never be clean enough, that my kids don’t get enough protein, and that they’ll hate me when they grow up. And even though I know this is all totally normal, I still feel crappy about it.
The thing I sense that you and I most likely share is the worry, the anxiety, the fear that we’re not good enough parents, that we’re doing something wrong, that we’ll never get enough sleep, and the (annoying!) feeling that every other parent looks like they’re handling it with more grace than you are. And maybe those other well-rested, happy parents really are fundamentally relaxed, Zen people. Or maybe, as I suspect – they’re all lying!
If you want to hear more about this topic, you DEFINITELY want to listen to my recent tele-seminar (download here), where I’ll be sharing some of my best-kept secrets: the ones that really help me, and families like you sleep and feel better.
And as always, I love to hear from you. If you're struggling with sleep or any new parent anxiety, share them with me here. Tell me what's keeping you up at night and how you're feeling.
And if you're just sleep-deprived and ready to change, please reach out to me. You can schedule a complimentary connection call HERE.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Seven years ago today, I became a mom. It was as humbling then as it is today. While I strive for a Utopian work-family balance, sometimes I feel like a miserable failure.
Reflecting back on those first days and weeks and months of motherhood, I can't say I enjoyed it much. I felt awful. I had extreme difficulty with breastfeeding; I felt overwhelmed and overly-anxious, lonely, crippled with sleep deprivation, and torn between staying home with my baby or going back to the job I previously loved. I felt plagued with guilt and fear, and suffered from severe postpartum depression. I slept about 8 hours a week for roughly 6 months. I thought I was losing my mind.
How I managed to get myself out of this is a long story, but somehow my husband and I were able to reinvent our lives from two parents with full-time jobs and a (wonderful) nanny, to two parents running home-based businesses and ample time for ourselves and our family.
Though often I feel like my family is totally out of balance (and always feel like it's my "fault" if we are), I endeavor to keep us all on track, and have ample time/space for everything, everyone, and be fully present in every moment.
It's extremely challenging to cultivate balance, and feel happy in all aspects of our lives, but I truly believe it's possible. I have a long, detailed strategy of how I balance family and work, but even with all my lists and systems and strategies, it doesn't always work.
In those moments, when everything comes unraveled, I try to not judge myself, because that's just the way it is with kids sometimes. It's a mess, and it's magic, all at the same time.
So all this is to say, keep striving for balance, people. I believe we CAN enjoy our work and family and ourselves, if we make it our top priority.
I want to live in a world where parents don’t have to choose between career or family or self; a world in which all parents have meaningful, flexible work, and have ample time to simply be with their families without constantly rushing. I want to live in a world where parents feel fully supported by society and by their communities and by each other. Yes I know it sounds Utopian, but...
The truth is that we don’t live in this world unless we create it. We have to build community, make time for ourselves and demand flexibility from our jobs, or create businesses of our own so we can design our lives to work around our families. It’s challenging to live life the way we really want, but I truly believe we can do anything we set our minds to. So strive for happiness, work less, play more, put yourself on your priority list, and enjoy life as much as you possibly can!
Because really, how many of our kids will ever think, If only my parents had worked harder and made more money!?!
Parenting is really, really hard. I've got 2 kids, 2 years apart, and I'm still humbled daily by the endlessness of parenting. Nobody told me I would have these feelings, but I swear every mom feels them. Even if you don’t admit these things to yourself, guilt may be secretly wearing away at your very core, threatening to take you down. Here are Five Mom Taboos, with correlating Guilt-Liberation Tips.
1. We feel like failures at everything. Whether we work at home, outside the home, or we’re the primary caretaker, we feel like we’re never doing anything good enough. I know you’ve heard these voices in your head: I’m a terrible mom, a lousy wife, a bad friend and I’m so tired, I can’t even do my job!
Guilt-Liberation TIP: Resist multitasking, cultivate efficiency, and re-program those negative voices! You’re not a failure; you’re a mom, you’re doing your best, and that IS good enough. Pinky promise.
2. We let our kids watch more TV than we admit. I’ve finally stopped agonizing about this now that my kids are 4 and 6, but I am guilty of lying to friends about how much TV they watch, and I know the lies are reciprocal!
Guilt-Liberation TIP: Chances are, if you’re reading this, your kids have very well-rounded worlds and have a LOT of stimulation. Give yourself a break, and worry about something else!
3. We want to run away. OK, maybe it’s just me, but some days I seriously feel like I just can’t take it anymore. Last week I was feeling particularly cagey from caring for sick kids ALL WINTER, and I thought, if I hear Mommy! one more time, I’m going to die, or leave, or both!
Guilt-Liberation TIP: Thinking about leaving and doing it are different. If your kids are driving you nuts, go away with a girlfriend for a day or a week, so when you come back you, want really want to be there! (I go away with a girlfriend for a week every year and it’s amazing, try it sometime!)
4. We have violent feelings sometimes. Yes, it’s true. We all have them. It’s those moments when your inconsolable baby is screaming at 3am, or your toddler is having a tantrum and hitting you.
Guilt-Liberation TIP: Relax, it’s normal. Yes, you might lose your cool with your kids, and feel TERRIBLE when you do (been there!), but beating yourself up about something you merely thought is a waste of energy.
5. We’re not interested in sex. After childbirth (or c-section), 24/7 hour breastfeeding, between the full time day-job or childcare-job (SO much harder); between laundry, groceries, poops and puke, I’m sorry man, sex isn’t on the priority list!
Guilt-Liberation TIP: You don’t have to pretend to be interested, just throw him a bone every now and again. Or trade for a massage if necessary. It will help your marriage, I promise!
Brand managers and marketers recreate brand image by renaming products, especially if their products receive unfavorable press. Sometimes companies reinvent themselves completely by simply changing their names. So, I’m thinking it’s time to re-brand Sleep Training.
Seriously, think of Sleep Training as a brand. What do you associate with that brand? Do you have any favorable associations with their products? Let’s face it, sleep training has had some bad press, especially from Attachment Parenting enthusiasts. Critics argue that sleep training is cruel, and bleary-eyed parents won’t even consider it because of the negative press. They hear about Sleep Training’s “Cry-it-Out” (aka CIO) method and often plug their ears. How could parents leave their babies to cry, alone in their cribs, because it is more convenient for them? Why would they buy those products? I agree, it sounds terribly cruel!
But what if we re-brand Sleep Training and call it something like Sleep Soothing or ???
We sleep trained both of our babies at about 6 months. Yes, it was hard and yes, there were tears (mostly mine), but it only took 3-4 days each, our babies were constantly assured we were there, and I guarantee there would have been more tears had we not done it. Ultimately our babies learned, through a process of soothing and cooing and shushing and reassuring, that falling asleep and waking up in the night is normal, and nothing to be scared of!!
If you teach your baby how to sleep, then s/he won’t be scared when they wake up and you’re not nursing or rocking or bouncing them. They’ll simply know that it’s normal, and roll over and go back to sleep, just like you do.
Increasingly, I’m hearing from more and more parents who aren’t sleeping. At all. Or if they’re sleeping, it’s a crazy musical bed situation where parents are hopping from bed to bed to couch, in a futile effort to get more sleep. Dads get displaced. Moms are chronically exhausted because they take on the night-time sleep battles. Kids are increasingly more cranky and tantrum-prone because they’re overtired, and marriages are suffering – if not totally falling apart – all because of SLEEP!
Does this sound familiar? Are you happy with the status quo? If not, make a change. Now. Get help if you need help, and be consistent.
Regardless of your parenting values, sleep is not optional. You cannot live without sleep, any more than you can live without food or water!