How to manage a baby meltdown when you’re not at home

Ah, we’ve all been there at some point with baby meltdowns. There comes a time when the cries begin to sound like requests rather than just noise. This is when you begin to hit your stride as a mom and realize you know your little one best. When a baby meltdown hits, I like being home to have everything I need handy. Nursing pillow is always near, there are lots of places to lay down for quiet time, and even a roomful of toys in case baby boredom has struck. But being out of the house with a meltdown on my hands? That takes a special kind of resourcefulness that only a mom can understand.

A baby crying

It takes time to build up the confidence to leave the house for any period of time with baby, especially as you’re learning that perfect mix of items to keep in your diaper bag to help you while you’re out. Here are a few strategies that I’ve learned from my many meltdowns so far:

  • Scan the area for a sympathetic face. If you’re somewhere public like a supermarket or shopping centre, someone will be empathizing with what you’re going through. See if your baby is interested in interacting with this person. The change in energy can lighten the mood for both baby and you.
  • Show baby an item they haven’t seen before. I bring toys with me for baby wherever I go but sometimes even this doesn’t work in my favour. There are usually plenty of items available out of the house for baby to see which always ends up being far more interesting than what I bring along. These don’t need to be other toys either – A kitchen spatula at a department store or a bright red fire extinguisher may catch the attention of those curious little eyes.
  • Consider removing or adding a piece of clothing. If baby is hot, then loosening a onesie or popping open a few buttons on a sleeper can help cool them down. If baby is cold and you don’t have extra layers on hand, consider using a sweater or shirt of your own to drape over them.
  • Find a quiet area to recharge. Overstimulation is tough on a little baby, and what calms them down will depend a lot on their little personality. Public washrooms may seem like a good idea but I’ve found that the loud sounds in a washroom (hand dryers, multiple toilets flushing) can be disruptive. Instead, ask an employee to direct you to a quiet area in a store or venue so that you can be alone with your little one and give them time to calm down.

What are some of your strategies for baby meltdowns? I’d love to hear what’s worked for you in the comments below.

 

pic via earlyinterventionsupport.com

Helpful tips for attending your first mommy meetup

Mom walks on a footpath with a child in the stroller

To help ease any worries you may have before joining your first meetup, here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way:

  • Find out where the group is meeting in the location that’s listed. e.g. If the meetup is at a playground, where in the playground will all the moms be?
  • Check out the profiles of the other moms that have RSVP’d to the event that you’re attending. Usually moms will include information here about the age of their babies and what they are looking to get out of the group. This is a nice icebreaker for when you arrive and you’re looking for a way to start a conversation.
  • Bring supplies. Having sunscreen or wipes on hand when another mom has been in need has helped me start conversations when I was feeling shy.
  • Take along a carrier or lightweight stroller. Unless you’re part of a mommy stroller group, having lightweight equipment to navigate a new space will help you to focus on spending time with other moms rather than worrying that your stroller is blocking someone’s way.
  • Check in first with the person who organized the event when you arrive. Let them know you’re there and that it’s your first meetup. Meetup organizers are usually passionate about helping other moms get out of the house and will be more than happy to introduce you to others within the group.
  • Give it a chance. Some weeks I went to meetups and I was zombie tired (barely functioning or talking) and other weeks I was buzzing from having such a good day with baby. The same goes for all the other moms there. Give them a chance before you decide if a certain meetup isn’t for you.
  • Lower your expectations. If you expect to come out of one meetup event with a playdate partner you may be disappointed. Focus on using this as an opportunity to get out of the house and be proud when you do it! It’s not easy to get out of the house like we used to when we have baby in tow.

Now that you’ve got an idea of how to get started and what to expect, you’re ready to take the plunge!

 

pic via pgeveryday.com

What to expect at a mommy meetup

When I first went to a meetup, I felt a little awkward putting myself out there. I desperately wanted to have some other mom friends who were also going through the same thing as me, and I had no idea where to start. For as long as I could remember, friends either just happened or developed through interests that I had outside of work and school. Finding a partner online has become the norm, but finding a friend online? This was a whole new world for me.

A group of moms stand together with their babies in strollers

In my experience attending meetups, I’ve learned that every mom has the same reasons for being there as you do. Many of them are dying to talk with someone who gets what it’s like to be a new mom, but they may not know how to begin a conversation about all that they’re going through.

Meetup groups vary in format because they are organized and hosted by moms who are all as individual as the next. Generally speaking, meetups are very informal. There aren’t name tags or introductions where you have to face the group and find the right words to avoid sounding stir-crazy. Meetups are usually held in public places and from the outside looking in, it can look like a big group of friends getting together. At first it may look like there are some cliques within the group and this is normal. The moms that know each other well are most likely the regulars which is a good sign the meetup is worthwhile. There’s a reason they keep coming along!

If the meetup you choose to go to is held at one location (like a playground, or cafe) then punctuality is not an issue. Being anywhere on time as a mom is tricky enough, so if you are running late, know that no one is judging you for it. There are lots of ways to start conversation but one of the best is to introduce both yourself, your baby and to mention your baby’s age. This often means there are a lot of names to remember at a meetup but, most moms there will do their best to get to know everyone there and learn their name. With conversation, you’re able to talk about anything so long as you reserve any judgement. What may surprise you is how easily you can talk about all the stuff you can’t say in front of your friends without kids. You can talk about diaper blow outs over coffee and most moms wont bat an eyelid. They’ll laugh along with you or nod in understanding.

If you find yourself enjoying spending time with another mom there, take the opportunity to ask her to catch up again. If you know of another mommy meetup, baby program or stroller trail, invite that mom to join you. She will probably appreciate the chance to do something different and get out of the house. Swapping phone numbers and keeping in touch over text is recommended before taking the plunge with a Facebook friend request. Do I almost sound as if I could be talking about dating? Well, it can feel like that. Most new moms will feel that way when they’re making new mommy friends!

If you’re still feeling a little hesitant, in my next post I’ll be giving my tried-and-tested tips for attending your first mommy meetup. Stay tuned for more!

 

pic via readysteadymums.blogspot.ca

Join a mommy meetup group

What surprised me most about having a baby and being on mat leave is how few people I had to spend time with during the day. When my partner is at work, and most of my friends are working too, it started to make sense why mat leave can sometimes feel so lonely. I was desperately missing adult conversation, and even felt guilty for needing it.

Three moms sit together with their babies

If you’re finding yourself at a similar point in your mat leave, know that every other mom on mat leave is also going through the same. And the crazy thing is, we can forget how to talk about regular adult things because we spend most of our day talking to baby. Interacting with other moms is the best remedy for these feelings and will improve your experience as you learn how to be a mom. If the thought of walking into a group of new people makes you anxious, know this – Having a baby is more than enough subject matter to relate to any new mom that you meet, no matter what your circumstances.

There are many ways to meet moms in the Durham region and these will vary from free groups (like Babyville) to paid groups. After spending the first few months of my mat leave cooped up inside, I joined a mommy meetup group on meetup.com. This website requires you to create an account to join, and once you do, you’re able to join many of the mommy meetup groups that Durham has to offer. Best of all, most of the meetups posted in these groups are free:

Joining these groups is the first step, and it’s a big one! In my next post, I’ll fill you in on what you can expect when you attend your first mommy meetup event.

 

pic via huggiesmominspired.com

Break out the camera at a local pumpkin patch

One thing that is fast becoming a must-do this month is visiting the pumpkin patch for a photo shoot. The possibilities for some of the best staged photos are endless… big pumpkin, tiny baby… tiny baby, holding tiny pumpkin… This was never much of a thing for me growing up but since visiting a pumpkin patch with my family this year, I’m happy to add this to my growing set of family traditions.

The sign for the Linton's Farm Market surrounded by large pumpkins

One of the higher rated pumpkin patches in the east end of Durham is Linton’s Farm Market.

Access to the pumpkin patch is free. What I liked about this farm is that you can also wander  through the small petting zoo with goats, sheep and chickens before you make your way over to the pumpkin patch to take some photos. There is also a kid’s play area available with a sandpit, play equipment and access to the pumpkin cannon. This section is worthwhile if you’re bringing along kids that can run around, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend paying the $2 admission for entry to this area. For you – and anyone you bring along – there is a large farm market to shop, which includes honey, meats, preserves, apples, beets, garlic, brussels sprouts, carrots and farm decorations (think decorative wheat).

Linton’s Farm Market is located at 571 Raglan Road East, Oshawa. Opening hours vary, and their website recommends calling ahead. As a side note – I visited around lunchtime on a weekend and that seemed to be a good time.

Cost: Visiting the pumpkin patch is free. If you’re interested in bringing home a pumpkin from your visit, the pumpkins in the picture above were priced at $8 each or 3 for $20.

Learn to play in the pool with swimming classes

Most moms will have different reasons for joining an infant swim class. Some do it so they get out of the house, to meet other mommies, to burn off some of that boundless baby energy or as I did in my case, to get my little one used to being in the water.

Swimming classes held at the local Whitby Recreation Complex are led by a trained swim instructor who will guide you and a group of other parents through water play activities. This includes, holding your baby on the side of the pool and having them “jump” into the water, helping your baby to float on their back with the help of pool toys, practice using life jackets (for baby and parent) and if you’re brave – dipping your little one under the water!

A view of the baby pool and the toys used in the Starfish swimming class

The view of the baby pool at the Whitby Recreation Complex and some of the toys used in the “Starfish” infant swimming class.

What I love about this activity is that there are a ton of scheduling options offered through the Whitby Recreation Complex. Starfish Infant swim classes are held on both weekdays and weekends, so if you decide to try an activity like this you can be flexible in who you bring along, whether it be a family member, mommy friend or your partner.

Registration is open now for these group swimming lessons for January-March, 2015. Starfish swimming classes are open to babies 4-18 months old.  You can register in person at the Whitby Recreation Complex, or online.

Cost: The Starfish Group Swimming Class program runs for 10 weeks and costs $89.51 (approximately $9 per class).


 

To register online, these are the steps that you’ll need to follow:

1. Check out the Fall/Winter Activity Guide and pick your preferred class times and days. Note the corresponding class codes as you’ll need these for later in the process.

2. Call the Recreation Program staff (905-666-1991) and ask for a PIN and barcode, which becomes your username and password for the online registration system. Keep these details saved somewhere that you can find them again. This is important because you will continue to use these login details when signing up for swimming classes in the future! This is a one-off type of step in the process but it’s worth it.

3. Once you have this information, sign into the online registration portal and search for the class code you noted earlier. Once you have searched for the class, a screen like this will appear showing you how many spots are still available. If there is space available, a green button will appear at the top of this box that says “Add” which allows you to add this class to your account.

Example of online registration for swimming classes on the Whitby Rec Centre online registration system

This is an example of what you will see when registering online for one of the Winter Starfish swimming programs

4. Make sure to select your child’s name for this program so you can continue with the registration

5. Find the Checkout button and finalize your payment for the program.

Save time and have baby supplies delivered

As moms, we have to take every shortcut we can get now that we’re so limited on time. There are so many options available to take advantage of the best delivery options for both mom and baby supplies, that you owe it to yourself to try at least once during mat leave. I had everything from diapers to potato chips shipped to my door last winter – at that time it was just too cold and icy for me to confidently leave the house with a newborn.

Packages delivered to a house are left to sit on the front steps

Below is a list of my top three suppliers for the best shipping options, ranked:

1. Walmart.ca

Of the three mentioned here, Walmart has the widest range of items for both mom, baby and pantry. What I love most about using their free shipping option is that there is no minimum purchase required. You could easily order a block of chocolate and have that ordered to your house, if you wanted to. I’ve found delivery times to be very reliable and if anything is back-ordered, Walmart is fast to send an email out to notify you.

Cost: $0.

2. Well.ca

While not all orders on this website are necessarily free, it’s not hard to spend the minimum $25 required to gain access to free shipping. Well.ca is a young company eager to establish themselves in the online space, so their service is the best among the three options mentioned here. You can expect packages to arrive fast and attentive customer service. Well.ca has a wide range of items from diapers and wipes to nasal aspirators and Vitamin D drops. What defines this online store over all others is their range of organic / vegan / natural products that are very difficult to find all in one store.

Cost: To access free shipping, there is a $25 minimum for each order. If you’re a new customer, use the coupon code MOTHERHOODSCENE at checkout to receive $10 off a $40 purchase.

3. Amazon.ca

The best you can do with Amazon.ca is using their unlimited shipping option, Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime is a program that allows you to have free, two day shipping on *most* of the items sold through their site. This claim is pretty hit and miss. I’ve ordered Amazon Prime eligible goods on their site and they haven’t always arrived on time. So factor that in if delivery speed is important to you. I find Amazon is best for the regular baby supplies like diapers and one-off toy / babyproofing supplies that I realised I needed last minute.

Cost: Minimum $79 per year + tax

 

pic via catalog.wlimg.com