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10 tips every mom should know before returning from maternity leave

It’s that moment girl when you start thinking about going back to work after having your beautiful baby. On the one hand, you are so excited to get out of the house, have lots of adult conversations, work on something meaningful. On the other hand, you feel guilty and scared to leave your baby with a babysitter, at a daycare, or if you’re lucky with grandparents. You can always try to take turns with hubby, but not every job or schedule allows it. So, I decided to create a short list of top 10 tips every mom should know before returning back to work from the maternity leave:

Make sure to update your professional skills

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been on a leave for 6 weeks or 3 years there is always work stuff to catch up on. Read professional articles/blogs, do some additional training. Basically, get yourself in professional shape. You might want to go to some professional meetings (Meetup is a great app to find ones in your area) or apply for additional certifications. Don’t you want to rock upon your return?

Find a babysitter/daycare for your child

I recommend checking all the reviews, asking for other moms’ feedback in local mommy groups on Facebook and do all that research far in advance since good places get booked months if not years in advance. Later, you’ll have so little time for anything and desperately looking for a new place won’t be in your agenda, right?

Meal plan and create a menu for at least one or better two weeks

You can use bookmarks in your favorite cookbook, hand-written recipe book, any cooking app or even Microsoft Office. I personally prefer to type my favorite recipes in Microsoft Word with grocery list on top of each recipe and just print them out. When I go to the grocery store, I just take the recipe with a list with me. For saving time on actual cooking I highly recommend Instant Pot Duo pressure cooker. The reviews are great and I love that you can just put everything in and it sautes, cooks, slow cooks, steams, pressure cooks.

Bulk shop at places like Costco or Sam’s Club

I personally don’t like frozen food, but you need to sacrifice something in order to survive being a working mom. Saves you some cash and lots of time, so you don’t have to stop at the grocery store every other day. Canned pantry items like beans, tuna and diced tomatoes can save any dinner. I love to have frozen ravioli and lots of vegetables/fruits in my freezer.

Pamper yourself with some new work clothes, makeup, shoes, planner, haircut etc.

First, it’s a great motivation to finally get out of the sweatpants and look all nice and professional again. Second, our body changes a lot after having kids, so it’s just nice to have clothes and shoes that fit you perfectly and make you feel like a million-dollar girl.

Plan your wardrobe

Get a couple of dresses for every season or 2-3 pairs of pants and blouses that match perfectly with each other. If you wear a uniform, make sure you have a couple of pairs and good quality and comfortable work shoes.

Create the dream board and envision the changes in life you work so hard for

I personally believe that we should always have a target in life to go for. Anything from saving money for the down payment or going on a vacation, do saving for the repairs around the house.

Plan your budget

Probably it’s not a new thing for you, but with all the expenses for childcare it’s important to keep track of all finances and have extra money at least for emergencies. Carefully plan every purchase and don’t do impulsive buying especially to make your kids feel better for not being with them. Save for bigger dreams.

Do something fun with your kids on a weekend or your day off

There is no doubt kids will miss you on the days you work, therefore it’s very important to get them enough attention on your days off. Amusement parks, field trips, picnics will bring the whole family together and your kids will look forward to spending time with you every week.

Have a serious conversation with your husband or partner about splitting chores around the house

Women are powerful, but they can’t do it all. He’s probably gotten used to you being home and taking care of most of the stuff around the house, but now everything will change. Just when you both learned how to survive with a toddler, it’s time for another big change. You both will be working, so it’s time you split the chores and discuss everything ahead.

To sum up, take a deep breath, stay positive and do in life what you like. Only you can make it happen and combine being a mom and building a career. Everything is possible. Just takes a pinch of effort and a little bit of time management skills. After all, moms can do it all.

 

 

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Top 15 simple and easy first birthday party ideas

Congratulations! If you’re reading this post most likely you and your baby have survived the first year and it’s time for a big party. As a first time mom I started looking for birthday party themes long before my son was born and with my baby getting older month by month I was more and more excited about it. I decided to collect 15 best party themes for the first birthday party celebration and share the inspiration with you in order to make the choice easier.

1. Unicorn party theme

I would say it’s perfect theme when you have a little girl. All you need is some pinkish/violet balloons, a cake and cute unicorn outfit for your little one. There are tons of diys how to decorate the cake, but I personally like Rosanna Pasino’s video or if you’re a busy mom you can just order cake topper from Etsy and just buy the vanilla cake at the store. There is nothing better than saving some cash and making your mom’s life easier, right? Lollipops or colored candy you find at any candy store can be a perfect party favor gifts. Quick and easy.

2. Mickey/Minnie Mouse theme

Good old-fashioned theme. Probably when you were a kid your mum has thrown one of those to you. All you need is a bunch of headbands, black/red dress code for quests, red tableware and utensils, Mickey/Minnie balloons and a cake. I personally think that every kid should have Mickey/Minnie Mouse birthday party and probably when they are older it might not be their first choice of the party theme, so why not do it when they’re little and we can still make decisions for them.

Minie Mouse cake

Minnie Mouse cake” by Linda Marklund is licenced by CC BY 2.0

3. Woodland

This theme is becoming more and more popular as are rustic furniture and décor. You will have lots of choices for colors and animals. Foxes, owls, deer, raccoons and hedgehogs can be perfect table decorations. It’s perfect both boys and girls and all kids like the animals. Stylish, chick and creative theme. How adorable are these animal cupcake toppers and woodland style wrappers?

4. Little Man Theme

Quick, easy and very cute birthday party theme for your little boy. There are lots of free invitation templates as well as photo props to choose from, so all you have to do is print them out. Your quests will love the bow tie dress code. All you have to do is find a perfect party decoration kit and enjoy the party.

Little Man cake

Mustache Cake” by Janet is licenced by CC BY 2.0

5. Very Hungry Caterpillar

I won’t be original here, but kids love Very Hungry Caterpillar. The World of Eric Carle Very Hungry Caterpillar Cake Decorating Set will make your cake pop. I like that you can serve lots of fruits at the dessert table as a healthier option.

6. Dr. Seuss

I absolutely love Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat cardboard stand in for this party theme decoration and photo prop.  With this theme you won’t have to be creative about party favors and just get Dr. Seuss books for every attendee. Frugal moms will love red decorations since so easy to find and you can always reuse them for next birthday parties.

7. Circus

Lions, monkeys, elephants and tigers will be perfect decorations for this party theme. There are lots of decoration kits, but I love the one from Fisher Price has everything you’ll need and is customized for first birthday.

8. Elmo

It’s the classic. Both parents and kids love Elmo. Suitable for little boys and as well as girls it’s great for celebrating first year of your baby’s life. Just add some pink to traditional Elmo color palette and your guests will be thrilled.

Elmo birthday cupcakes

Elmo’s World Cupcakes” by Janet is licenced by CC BY 2.0

9. Peppa Pig

If your little one can’t have enough of Peppa, this theme is for you. You can get as creative with all Peppa Pig-themed desserts as you can. Pink cake pops, Daddy Pig’s doughnuts and muddy puddles chocolate desserts will make the birthday sweet and memorable.

Peppa Pig birthday cake

Peppa Pig cake” by Eldriva is licenced by CC BY 2.0

10. Panda

A bit unique and unusual theme for creative moms who love black and white pattern. Panda balloons will be great decoration for this party theme and just adding a touch of pink you can transform it into girlish party theme.

11. Ahoy Matey Nautical

Another great summer birthday party theme for a boy. Dark blue chevron design with yellow polka dots, touch of red and fun nautical designs will make the party special and colorful. Your little sailor will enjoy all the attention at his party.

12. Pink Ladybug

Pink flowers, ladybugs and green grass will make the birthday pictures look adorable. Just look at this party balloon bouquet and candle set  for the first baby cake and it will take your heart away in a second.

13. All Aboard

Cute theme for celebrating birthday of a little boy. My one year old loves cars, trucks and trains, so I can only imagine how excited he’ll be to see all the means of transportation at his birthday party. It’s colorful and bright party theme that will stay in your memories forever.

All aboard birthday cake

14. Peter Rabbit

Garden setting is especially good for spring or summer Peter Rabbit birthday. You can stock up party supplies during the Easter time and just save them for the big day. Carrots and strawberries can be perfect healthy snacks at this fun birthday party. There are lots of cake or cupcake topper options available all over internet, so all you’ll have to do is find matching Peter Rabbit outfit for your baby.

15. Princess Birthday

I got inspired for this theme by the picture of the beautiful and cute pink room at the children’s center. Nothing looks sweeter than little girls in princess dresses. You little daughter will look perfect in a fluffy dress and a tiara crown.

Princess birthday party table decorations

How to survive with a toddler? The ultimate guide for happy moms

How to surviveNo matter if you’re a stay at home mom or a working mom at least once a day you might wonder if you’re taking part in one of those survival shows or running a Boston Marathon. There are good days and bad days, so I decided to share my secrets how to stay positive, sociable, happy mom and not lose yourself in caring about your family.

First, just remember that there is no way back. You’re stuck girl. Now, just take a deep breath and always, always find time for a morning cup of coffee/tea/lemon water – whatever your morning ritual was before having kids. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are extremely important for mom’s normal body functioning and taking care of your loved ones, so no skipping or constantly eating those easy sandwiches on the go. But let’s be honest, sometimes I don’t get to my breakfast up until 12.30 in the afternoon and have pizza party Friday night, but most days I try to be good. Nobody’s perfect! I don’t cook something like homemade ravioli anymore and everything that takes to cook longer than 30 minutes is a no. I still eat healthy meals made from scratch, but they’re quick and easy now. I love the recipes from Cooking Well Healthy Kids as well as The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor. Pinterest is my good old friend too. I think it’s a clever idea to meal plan for a week ahead and have everything ready. I print out or copy the ingredients list into Google doc or whatever app you use for shopping and voila. Just have those recipes ready and send hubby for grocery shopping.

So, here we came to my next tip- involve your partner as much as possible in helping you clean, shop and take care of the kids. I couldn’t make this year without my husband. We girls know that sometimes it doesn’t come easy and all those centuries women spent at home don’t help, but it’s 2017 now and women work as much if not more than men.

Now that you’re all happy and relaxed after your last meal and the husband is at the grocery store I’ll share one more secret. Don’t clean or cook while baby naps. Spend this time relaxing, studying, reading books or napping. You can always cook and clean with a baby around, but reading a book near the super active toddler sounds like a fairy tale, right? New mums need to stay productive to make it through. Lists, diaries, planners are your best friends, right? Especially if you plan on returning back to work from maternity leave.

And last, but not least. Always have time for yourself. Go or do at home your manicure, wash hair, do makeup and have hobby. Don’t lose your personality in everyday tasks. If you loved diving or playing video games before having kids, don’t give up on that. Overall, kids need happy moms and if fishing makes you happy, just go for it girl.

Lots of love,

TheMommyzilla

Best tricycles with handle for kids in 2017

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Our baby is turning one soon and it’s exciting time for us to pick his first tricycle. I would say all tricycles have some flaws, but as always with baby gear there is no perfect product. I focused my search on looking for tricycles with handle, since our little one won’t be able to do the pedals yet.

My top 3 short list:

1. SmarTrike Glow 4 in 1 89.99$

Age: 10-36 m

Pros:

  • price
  • high quality
  • easy to assemble
  • excellent back support and foot rest
  • lots of storage and parent bag (mommy’s phone and sunglasses will be safe now)
  • weight (11.7 Pounds or 5.3 kilo), moms living in the city will approve

Cons:

  • only 2 colors available (blue and red)
  • plastic wheels (I would prefer rubber, but oh well)
  • max age is 36 month versus 60 month or 5 years in competitors

Decision: We chose it for good value for the money, being lightweight and having foot rest. I’ll write the full review later after using it.

2. 4-in-1 Stroll ‘N Trike by Radio Flyer 83,49$

Age: 9-60 m

Pros:

  • nice design
  • good quality
  • cup holder for the baby

Cons:

  • no footrest
  • only 2 colors to pick from- red and pink
  • lots of reviews on Amazon say about squeaky noise made by the wheels
  • 2 handles to push. Hate those 2 handles since my bad experience with umbrella stroller experience. I’m the mom who likes talking on the phone and pushing a baby simultaneously, so I have just one hand to do each.
  • long time to put together

Decision: since there is no footrest and squeaky nose it’s a no.

3. Little Tikes Perfect Fit 4-in-1 Trike starts from 74,99$ depending on the color

Age: 9 to 60 m

Pros:

  • my favorite design
  • price (it’s currently on sale for 74,99$ as of June 12,2017)
  • variety of colors (tile, blue, orange and pink)
  • rubber foot platform that offers a comfortable ride while keeping your child’s feet away from the pedals in Stage 1 until 18 month or whenever your little one reaches the pedals.
  • parent bar and cup holder. But on the other hand I always spill stuff with that cup holder. Do you?

Cons:

  • poor quality and cheap materials
  • hard to assemble

Decision: since my husband hates building anything this tricycle was out of question.

Never wanted to be a mom and got pregnant

Seeing two stripes on a test might be tough, especially if you didn’t plan that pregnancy. Shall I keep the baby or not? What’s my life going to be like after? Is it painful? There are millions of questions you want to know answers to. In our case we decided to keep the baby. Our son is one year old now and today I decided to write down the list of things to keep in mind before you decide what’s next:

  1. Pregnancy and delivery are not that scary. Well, maybe delivery is. On the one hand, I was in labor for around 36 hours and that was hell. On the other hand, my friends delivered their babies within 5-6 hours and had wonderful experience. After all, look at all the women around who went through the same experience, they seem fine, so will you.
  2. Sleepless nights might affect your emotional and physical health a lot. The issues you had with your partner will become 100% worse after having a baby. Lack of time, sleep and shitty food you eat might turn you in an angry witch your partner will not recognize anymore. So, it’s better to have babies in mature relationships or have somebody like parents or family who you can count on around. Sex after giving birth is different. Usually you’re simply too tired to even get to bed never mind being sexy and active. You may need antidepressants, therapist and a lot of support.
  3. Forget about normal social life. At least for the next 5-10 years. We go out and travel with a baby a lot, but there are simply places you can’t take baby to: nightclub, business meeting, trip to Somali (God knows why you need to go there on the first place). Babies have the same mood swings as adults and sometimes they just want to spend the day at home and stay in bed even at 11 months old.
  4. There will be lots of pressure on what you eat while pregnant, how you bring up your baby, what do you feed the baby and so on. Not necessarily from you family, but from social media, other moms, TV shows. Every day you’ll ask yourself a question “Am I doing it right” about a million times.
  5. Your finances will get worse. Even if you get back to work right away, expenses on babies are huge. It’s not just diapers and clothes, toys, classes, daycare, tutors and who knows what else on the way. You need to move to a better area, bigger apartment, buy bigger car. Babies are expensive. That’s the truth.

Nevertheless, babies are fun. So much fun. You get happier after having a baby. You laugh more, explore and enjoy new achievements every day. You lean and teach. Research studies show that moms with kinds, especially those who have 2 or 3 kids are more productive. Things that bothered you before like dirty floors or summer styles will bother you way less, just because you’ll have less time for that stuff.

Going back to the question about keeping a baby. You’ll aske me “Do I regret it?”. Usually I don’t, but there are days when I talk with my husband what our life will be like if we didn’t have baby now. I guess the older kids get, the more happy you are they were brought in your life at that exact moment. Overall, if the pregnancy wouldn’t happen maybe we would never get to the point of having kids anyway.

Always yours,

Momzilla