The 5 Stages of Sleepless Nights & Holiday Traveling with Your Children

It seems that every time my family travels somewhere my child loses his ability to sleep. Usually by the end of a trip he kind of begins to grasp the concept, but even then toddlers are unpredictable creatures, when you think they’re going to zig they zag, and when you think they’re going to zag they just throw their sippy cup on the ground and do their best banshee impression. The holidays bring out the inevitable, the decorations, the festive sweaters, all the carbs, being forced to listen to your Trump loving uncle’s tirade about the election, and of course, the travel. Many travel to see their loved ones around the holidays and if your child is anything like mine, he or she may not do so well sleeping away from home two doors down from Aunt Betty who snores loud enough to wake the dead. And because sleep is necessary for parents to function here are some stages to help you cope with the inevitability that your kid will not sleep during your holiday trip home to see your folks:

Denial

“This year it will be different.” It’s sweet really, but it’s naïve. Right off the bat you may be optimistic that your little ray of sunshine will have no sleep problems while your away— this is something that I swear children feed off of. The moment you have this twinkle of positive thinking in your eye is when they strike. And by strike I mean quite literally they go on strike and stop sleeping. Denial is all part of the process, but just ride it out because you have a rollercoaster of emotions ahead of you.

Anger

Usually by night two or three this hits. “WHY WON’T HE JUST SLEEP?!” I know you don’t mean to feel this insurmountable anger, but sleep deprivation will do that to a person. The worst part? Junior will not accept a bedtime routine from anyone else but you, so while your family and friends are downstairs playing games, drinking some of grandpa’s homemade wine, and sharing stories, you’re stuck in a bedroom singing “Let it Snow” for the 13th time because you literally can’t think of any other song to sing.

Bargaining

My child is still too young to understand the concept of Santa, but I’m putting this in my back pocket for the future. “Santa will go on Amazon Prime right now and make sure you have _____ on Christmas morning if you just go to the f to sleep.” I’m not above bribing with cookies and Daniel Tiger, and I’m certainly not above bringing Santa Clause into this, too. But no Elves on the Shelf, I simply refuse to do that one.

Depression

This is more of a nightly occurrence after the 3rd wake up, usually due to someone in the house who is not used to living with a small human. Get that baby down, mama. And the minute you do so grab yourself a glass (bottle) of wine and sip (chug) it. After all, who knows how much time you have? 15 minutes? 3 hours?

Acceptance

By night four or five you realize that there really is no hope for a decent nights sleep until you get home, so you might as well ride it out. The sooner accept that you will have no sleep on your trip to visit your family, the sooner you can accept that there is literally nothing you can do about it. Well, actually there is one thing. Store this pain, suffering, and memory of sleepless nights in the back of your mind and remember them fondly when you wake your kid up before 9 a.m. on this same trip when they are a teenager. Then have them fetch you a coffee while they’re at it. Hell, you certainly deserve it.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and hoping that Santa brings you some sleepy dust. If he doesn’t bring that then I hope he at least drops off some espresso and some wine.

9 Ways My Sorority Prepared Me for Motherhood

"From the outside looking in, you can never understand it. From the inside looking out, you can never explain it."

As I get older and (I’d like to think) wiser, I can’t help but look back on the road that led me to where I am today. I only graduated with my undergraduate degree four years ago, but being married and a mom makes it feel like it has been three times as long. Instead of drinking wine out of a bag I go for a moderately priced bottle, and my evenings are spent picking up toddler toys and cuddling on the couch with my husband instead of doing whiskey shots and dancing to bad top 40’s music.

I always was designated the “mom” of my friend groups, not in that I always carried the Advil, was the first to show up with ice cream during a break-up, or because I really knew how to rock some high waisted jeans, but because I just always felt that it was a part of who I was. When I was pregnant I took classes, I read books, and I consulted with online mom groups way more than I’d like to admit. Here I am now, the parent of a 14 month old in the trenches of toddlerhood, wondering how I made it through my first year and how I learned to parent. Then I had an unbelievable revelation: my sorority prepared me for motherhood.

You’re probably imagining every awful stereotype that has been perpetuated by the film industry and the news, but that’s what those are, stereotypes. I gained so many valuable life-lessons from being a part of my sorority, and so many of those can be applied to motherhood.

1. I can withstand impressive volumes and decibels of noise

There is no noise level like the noise level of a room of 150 girls before a chapter meeting. Nothing except the noise of a toddler running rampant on a bunch of Fisher Price toys. Not only am I embedded with the ability to handle decibels of that caliber, I can also command a room of loud college girls or toddlers within seconds.

2. I am all about singing songs

I still love the songs we sang in my chapter; I sing them to my child pretty often. Especially a lullaby which (in my most wishful of thinking) would put my child to sleep. Either way, those recruitment songs with their catchy beats and hand motions and clapping trained me perfectly for what I endure on a daily basis. If You’re Happy and You Know It? Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star? Literally any Disney hit from the past 30 years? Get on my level, y’all.

3. I can pull an all nighter and still fully function the following day

All nighters in college and all nighters as a parent are two different worlds. One thing that they do have in common is that every time I’ve done it, I’ve been surprised that I survived. I would like to thank my days as a sorority girl for my ability to withstand functioning on two hours of sleep with a boxed wine hangover all while volunteering at 8 a.m. I now stay away from the boxed wine and drink the good stuff, but this is just as applicable when you're parenting with a hangover. I would also like to thank my days as a sleep deprived sorority girl for teaching me how to utilize dry shampoo and make myself look like a human being. Seriously, I'd be nothing without you. 

Advice for new moms: Invest in dry shampoo before you even make it into the third trimester of pregnancy, you’ll thank me later.

4. I recognize the importance of tradition

Something that I’ve always loved about my organization is that is was built on such foundational traditions. When I was initiated, my organization had been around for 113 years. That’s 113 years of holding up values and sisterhood, 113 years of unconditional love and service to the community. Starting traditions that hold true within my own family is something that is so important to me because when I’m old and senile looking back at the start of our family, I’ll know again just how important those traditions are and how much they help you to grow.

5. Crafting is a necessary skill in life

I’ve always been on the crafty side of things. I’m not an artist by any stretch, but I am pretty damn creative and I can get crafty when I need to. My child is only a toddler, so the crafting only goes so far at the moment with Halloween costumes and homemade decorations for his first birthday party. If my obsessive crafting for twins (twin littles, that is) taught me anything it's that I need to always use a stencil when it comes to lettering, and that crafting is good for the soul. Stay tuned for some future science projects, because they’ll be f*cking epic.

6. Catty Girls are a fact of life

Sigh. Catty girls are everywhere, from sorority rivalries to the playground. Women can be plain mean. Luckily from years of tight-lipped smiles, backhanded compliments, and knowing when and when not to bite back, I’ve carried with me the skills necessary to take on the mean girls, even if those girls are also members of the PTA.

7. There is strength in numbers

Not all women are catty and competitive when it comes to recruitment and not all women are catty and competitive when it comes to motherhood (although I legit do not care that your little angel was walking at 6 months and sleeping through the night since birth). Half the battle of getting through motherhood comes from support from my friends. Friends who are also my sisters, friends who have kids, and even friends who don’t. It’s a hell of a lot easier to get through the B.S. and celebrate the big wins when you have your tribe by your side.

8. Squad Gear

mamabear.jpg

From the moment I accepted my bid I imagined myself with my letters. I then immediately plastered them on everything: my car, my purse, my outfits, hell I even had a belly button ring with Greek letters on it (not my proudest moment). Little to my surprise, I did the same thing when I found out I was pregnant. I traded in my lavalier in for a necklace with my child's initial on it, and I swear within minutes of seeing those pink lines I was ready to order every “mama bear” product they had on Etsy. Zero shame up in this game.

9. Sorority Wardrobe and Mom Wardrobe Go Hand in Hand

Speaking of mom shirts, let’s talk about how my sorority prepared me for the greatest thing of all: looking cute AND comfy. Am I aware that walking around in a huge t-shirt and running shorts (that I never run in) makes me look like I rolled out of bed? Yes. Do I care? No. I dressed like that in college on campus and it was socially acceptable. Now that I’m a mom I can do the same exact thing and it’s still acceptable. Beautiful. Half the time I think the barista at Starbucks is impressed when she sees that I put on mascara or that I'm wearing a shirt that matches.

My sorority gave me so many amazing memories, incredible friends, and to my amazement, the skill set I needed to take on the craziest sisterhood of all: motherhood. 

9 Skills You Should Add to Your Mom Resume

This past May I graduated with my Masters Degree. My son was eight months old and we both managed to get through my grad school experience unscathed. I’ve done the working mom gig, and since my graduation I have done the stay at home mom gig. There are pros and cons with both, but anyone who tells you that a stay at home mom doesn’t “work” deserves to step on a Lego and have a food pouch squeezed into their hair. Despite what many think, I don’t hang out around the house all day watching Netflix, snacking, and playing with my toddler. I am a one-woman circus whose job is: to entertain my miniature boss, to find something that he will actually like to eat, and to clean my house when he sleeps. I don’t always get a lunch break but I’ve come to find that, on occasion, I can instead combine lunch and dinner. I call it “Linner” and it’s classy…like brunch.

Working moms don’t have it easy either. They have to return to work too early postpartum, shell out hundreds and thousands for child care, miss their kids while they’re at work, and then when they return home from their “day job” they keep working as a mom. Working moms work doubles, and their only breaks come from going to bathroom alone or hiding in the kitchen pantry to eat a piece of cheesecake. Well, maybe all moms do that.

As I continue applying for jobs out in the “real world” I’m often asked about my skills, my strengths, and my weaknesses. Being that my current employer stands 2.5 feet tall and calls me “mama” I’ve come to find that all moms, stay at home, working, work from home, and otherwise have a whole set of skills they develop on the job, and dammit I’m giving mom’s credit where credit is due. From the moment you trudge through the hell of labor and you become a mom you develop these “super powers” that become second nature to you. Here is a list of skills and strengths that every mom should consider adding to their resume for the toughest job out there:

1. Research

Before you even have your little bundle of joy you will read and research as much as possible. By the time I was in labor I felt like I was an expert on pregnancy. I’ll let you know when I feel like I’m an expert on parenting.

2. Active Listening

You not only have the ability to take in large quantities of information and remember every detail, you also have the super human skills to listen to your child in a separate room of the house, and because they have no concept of knowing that sound travels, you know what they are doing without seeing them.

3. Decision Making

Whether it’s choosing your child’s outfit for the day, deciding what to make for lunch, or choosing the best baby carrier, you are a champion at decision making. You know how to analyze a situation and break it down to get a result ASAP. And nothing says efficient decision making quite like a hungry toddler.

4. Time Management

“I don’t know how you do it.” Color coding my calendar and lots of coffee, my friend. Moms take on a whole new form of superhero when it comes to time-management. Whether you are juggling being a working mom, a student mom, or a stay at home mom, we all have done that juggling act that merits a big glass of wine at the end of the day. I don’t care who you are or what you do, NO ONE multitasks like a mom.

5. Critical Thinking

Moms are always using critical thinking when analyzing situations, solutions, and approaches to problems. I might as well have made an entire PowerPoint presentation when considering my son’s sleep situation when he was an infant, and I could have made an entirely new one based on other big parenting decisions like day care, food planning, and even the best methods of getting ready to leave the house for the day.

6. Negotiation

My toddler can only say five or so words, but dammit he is good at negotiation already. As a mother you learn to choose your battles, and when you do go in to battle, you can negotiate bedtime, what’s for dinner, and screen time like a boss.

7. Active Learning

No matter how many books you read, or how many classes you take you can’t learn to be a parent without actually experiencing it. As a parent, you take in all of that information you learned from those who parented before you and books you read, then you just roll with it when you become a parent yourself. Everyday you learn more and more about how to take care of this tiny human, and you do it all by learning hands on.

8. Problem Solving

You forgot a toy when you got into the car with the baby and you are already down the road so you grab an empty water bottle for them to play with. You forgot a breast milk bottle when you went to work so you pump into a cleaned out Diet Coke bottle. You’re out to eat and your child decides they are distracted want to crawl around, you gear up that pre-loaded Disney movie on your phone and let it ride. Moms know how to problem solve like no other.

9.Team Player

No one is a team player like a parent. From the moments my husband started telling me I didn’t look like a whale when I pregnant, to labor, and to gassy baby cries and toddler tantrums, you learn to be part of the parenthood dream team. Picture that scene where Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg, and Ted Danson are super dads tossing bottles and changing diapers in Three Men and a Baby. Something like that. Either way, you know how to quickly pick up on other people’s skills and make it work.

Whether you’re a stay at home mom who is thinking about getting back out into the work force, or you are a working mom who wants to elaborate on her resume, you have one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs out there. And let’s face it, no one can do it like a mom can.  

The 7 Poo Encounters of Parenthood

It was a Saturday afternoon. My husband was at work and I was home with our little guy. We were playing with blocks and reading books when all of a sudden I smelled it, my kid had done a number two and I had the honor of changing his diaper for the 437th time. It looked…weird. So what did I do? I snapped a photo and sent it to my husband asking “Does this look normal to you?” His response was a very nonchalant “Yes.” I was a woman on a mission who wanted a second opinion so I consulted with Dr. Google who confirmed my husband’s “Yes” and I went on with my day thinking about what led to this questionable poo in my son’s diaper. I then realized the brutal reality of parenthood: your life begins to revolve around feces.

It all starts during pregnancy and evolves from there. I’m about to get real with you.

1. Pregnancy Poo

Pregnancy is like 90% beautiful and 10% disgusting. There is just a deluge of weird, gross, and questionable things that happen to pregnant women, especially in the last month or so. And this is the shit that no one tells you about in baby books. You are going to feel like you have to poop like all the time because you have a small human the size of a watermelon crushing your bowels and punching you in the butt (literally). You will long for the days of having to do your business and swiftly completing the task at hand. Poo during pregnancy is no joke and if you’re not careful you’ll get the dreaded big H (it rhymes with shemorrhoids).

2. Poo During Delivery

If you have ever been a pregnant woman you have worried that you will shit yourself during labor and delivery. Let me tell you something, you probably will. And you know what? You will give zero f*cks. When you eventually get to the pushing stage of labor you are going to be so hell bent on getting that baby out of you that you literally won’t care. You won’t care what you look like. You won’t care about amniotic fluid on your socks. And you really won’t care when you poop in front of an audience, because it’s the beginning of many poop assemblies you will experience. Welcome to motherhood!

3. Postpartum Poo

I told you that you should get used to an audience. This is because you will probably have one when you decide to forge ahead in an act of postpartum bravery: your first postpartum poop. I legitimately think I would rather go through labor twice over than to experience that again. Natural birth, epidural, C-Section…it doesn’t matter. In that moment we are all sisters in being quite literally scared shitless.

Helpful Tip: Make sure your partner or someone is home to watch the babe for you. Grab yourself a big glass of wine, knock a few Colace back, and bring Netflix with you. It could be a while.

4. Meconium: Black Tar Poo

In the same week not only do you get to experience the sacrilege of the postpartum poo, but you also get to experience the joy of meconium. Meconium is a fancy word for really sticky newborn baby poo. It has the consistency of super glue and the color of black tar, but luckily it doesn’t smell and it only lasts a couple of days!

5. The Poo on Google

I bet you never thought you would Google poop as much as you have now that you’re a parent. Maybe it’s just me, but I have Googled “Baby Poop” multiple times now (always with the intention of making sure my kiddo is healthy) and with each search it gets a little less weird.

6. Poo Logging

I already find it funny that couples (especially the one’s who don’t have kids) will not go to the bathroom in front of their significant other because once you have a baby you are up for some next level poop discussions with your partner. Not only do my husband and I discuss whether the baby has done a number two yet while eating our lunch together, we also openly discuss the size, color, and consistency of aforementioned poo. Yes, it’s disgusting. Yes, it’s all part of the beauty of parenthood.

7.  Longing to Poo Solo

Ah, I remember my pre-mom days, when I didn’t have to put on an episode of Sesame Street and bribe the baby with a cookie just to go to the bathroom alone. Remember that whole audience thing? (See #2) My son not only follows me into the bathroom and attempts to re-decorate with toilet paper or grab the plunger, but sometimes he demands to be held (bonus points for you rock stars who have nursed while on the pot-- desperate times, y’all.) Not only will you develop the prowess of entertaining a small child while going to the bathroom, but you will also develop the skill of holding said child and pulling up your pants with one hand.

There are two things that are certain in parenthood: you will have an unspeakable and unconditional amount of love for your children, and you will have a new found acceptance and tolerance when it comes to poo. So, when you find yourself stressing about the possibility of delivery table defecation or when you are frantically Googling baby poop, just remember one thing— you’re the shit. 

I Tried Out 11 Baby Sleep Solutions So You Don’t Have To

My child is funny, kind, smart, and adorable. He shares his toys, he tries (most) of the food I put in front of him, he’s only peed on me twice! My child’s biggest downfall: He sucks at sleeping. It pains me to admit this because sleep is something that my husband and I hold very near and dear to our hearts. A kid who is bad at math? Or a mouth breather? Or a kid who only eats chicken nuggets? That I could handle. A mini insomniac who likes to party at 2:00am is something I figured we would reserve for his college years.

Parents are constantly trying to make excuses for their children and I think it starts with this whole sleep debacle.

“Oh, it’s a growth spurt!”
“Did you check the Wonder Weeks app? Maybe he’s in the middle of a Leap”
“She’s gotta be teething”
“Maybe he’s hungry!”
“Are her pajamas too small?
“He’s probably too warm at night”

I have been making excuses ever since the damn 4-month sleep regression hit our household like a hurricane. If you are expecting a child, or if you have been so lucky as to spawn a child that doesn’t sleep longer than two hours, then strap in! Here is list of sleep solutions I have purchased, tested, and reviewed from the past year (so you don’t have to):

1.    A Crib

This is a common mistake that parents make. You will optimistically purchase this expensive piece of furniture when you are still pregnant, wide-eyed and sleeping at night (even if you get up to pee 20 times). Your child won’t actually sleep in it, it will end up being a hamper for clean baby clothes and a convenient spot to keep baby toys.

2.    A HALO Bassinet

I got this sleek and high tech side-car sleeper in hopes that my little sweet pea would sleep in it next to me when I brought him home from the hospital. He hated it.

3.    Sleepsacks/Swaddles

I honestly wish these worked because I like the concept. My kid not only hates being warm, he also hates not being able to kick his legs, and when I put him in it I’m pretty sure he hated me, too.

4.    Humidifier

I got this partially because my son had a perpetually stuffy nose his first 6 months of life and partially because he liked the sound. This worked pretty great until it became Summer in North Carolina.

5.    Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit

I was so doe eyed when I ordered this mini sumo wrestler costume. I thought that this would for sure be our ticket to sleeping through the night. I bought two sizes- neither one worked.

6.    Angel Dear Lovey

I purchased a lovey when my son was 5 months old in hopes that the attachment he has to me and my mammary glands would transfer to a lovey instead. 7 months later and he throws the lovey on the ground while he nurses to sleep. Moving on…

7.    Pacifiers

I introduced pacifiers to my child pretty much every week up until he was 11 months old. Same result as the aforementioned lovey.

8.    The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep Book

This ~magical~ book is supposed to basically hypnotize your child into sleeping. It works until he tries to rip the pages while he fights sleep.

9.    A Memory Foam Crib Mattress Topper

This actually kind of worked. It just hurts to recognize that I paid an absurd amount of money for a piece of foam.

10.  A Dohm White Noise Sound Machine

I tried the white noise apps. I tried soothing sounds of rain, oceans and the great outdoors. This bad boy cost me $50 and I will never look back. It muffles the dog barking, the Friends theme song, and popcorn popping.

11.  DockATot

The DockATot is pretty awesome. These baby nests are all the rage in Europe and the reviews on it gave me the hope that my child would stop flipping himself sideways in his crib. I felt so optimistic about this purchase that I bought both sizes and different points in my sleep deprived first year of parenthood.

Since I have begun this journey into parenthood I realized something: I chose the wrong profession in life. I should have gone into the baby sleep business because I have contributed enough money that I could already pay for part of my kid’s college tuition. I know I’m not alone in this. I can’t be the only once who orders a sleep solution for my little sleepless wonder at 4:00am off of Amazon and I know I’m sure as hell not alone when it comes to missing sleeping a full 8 hours a night. Parenting is a lot easier when you have a village to give you a shoulder to cry on, a glass of wine to drink, and a list of sleep solutions that have been tested out. I’m pretty sure the only thing that makes your kid better at sleeping is time.

Hang in there, I’ll be right there with you when it’s 3:00am and you are wondering who else is awake in the world.