Breastfeeding Awareness Month + Lansinoh SmartPump, Bessie’s Best Lactation Cookies, & Mason Bottle GIVEAWAY!

AUgust 2016 (1)

With a second baby on the way, nursing is going to be making a comeback in my day-to-day life! This time around, I am working full-time and pumping will be a big part of my routine. I always get excited when National Breastfeeding Awareness Month rolls around because I know how many moms truly struggle with this aspect of motherhood and it is HARD. And mamas who don’t nurse, I still love you, too, and, support you on your journey of motherhood! You’re all amazing.

From my pictures and stories, it may seem like breastfeeding came so easily to me and my daughter. It sure started out easily in the hospital – perfect latch, ate like a monster, plenty of wet diapers. I was convinced something had to be wrong… it can’t be THIS easy can it? The answer? NOPE. It cannot be that easy. When we got home from the hospital, it was like my daughter totally forgot what the heck she was doing. Her latch hurt, she cried, I cried. It was a mess. I was exhausted and convinced I was doing something so wrong. Some days, I lost my determination to keep going and bottles looked SO appealing. My husband was and is my rock. His encouragement is literally one of the biggest blessings in my life. He saw me struggle and he knew I was struggling. I’m sure he thought it would be easier to just give bottles instead. But, he also knew how badly I wanted to breastfeed and he encouraged me to keep fighting for that. So I did. We did. My daughter did. And we succeeded. We finally got back into a groove and a routine. We had some hiccups along the way, but, we did it. We nursed until she was 2 years old and I am so proud! I think if I hadn’t gone back to work, she probably would have still nursed at least a couple times during the day and night for a bit longer. I have such a special place in my heart for my nursing mamas, whether you’ve nursed for 2 minutes or 2 years.

So, with National Breastfeeding Week wrapping up and it being Breastfeeding Awareness Month , I am so excited to show you some of my favorite products for nursing mamas and there’s an AMAZING giveaway thrown in here too ;) Woo hoo!

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Packing the Hospital Bag!

 

Hospital Bag

Packing the hospital bag.

I’d say this task was even more daunting than packing the diaper bag after the kiddo had arrived earth-side, and now, we’re going to be doing it all over again! I had no idea what my experience was going to be like, what things I’d need the most, what would comfort me the most, and add in “end of pregnancy” hormones… yikes.

Once we got to the hospital, I didn’t even use a ¼ of the things I had packed. When people tell you to only pack the essentials, they’re right. But, what ARE the essentials?! Obviously, the essentials are different for every person, but, I’d like to think that us mamas can agree on some things :)

So, if you are seriously stressing about what to toss in your hospital bag before that buddle of joy (or bundles of joy!) arrive, read on!

Plus,  I’ll be adding a list of top suggestions that all of you wonderful mamas submitted to me!

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Top Essentials from Mamas Like You!

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Diaper Bag Must-Haves!

Image courtesy of Pottery Barn
Image courtesy of Pottery Barn

Packing the diaper bag. This was a daunting task as a new parent.

“How many diapers should I bring?”

“Do I have enough outfits in case of an ‘explosion'”…and we all know what kind of explosion I’m talking about!

“Will I really need ALL of this stuff?”

“This bag is SO heavy!”

It’s tough and I’m pretty sure it took me almost the entire first year to realize that I was over packing the diaper bag and honestly never used half of it during any given trip out somewhere! 

So, what DO you pack in the diaper bag?

I’ve narrowed the list down to the 15 items that I ALWAYS carry and things that come in handy and I use frequently. Hopefully it helps you, too!

  1. DIAPERS. This is definitely one of the most important things to remember to pack. With a newborn, we went through SO many diapers. It was inevitable that our girl would have a massive pee or poop while out. We always kept a good handful of diapers on hand and always checked/restocked before leaving the house. Now that she’s almost 2, we don’t carry nearly as many!
  2. Wipes– Self-explanatory. Wipes can be used not only for diaper changes, but, sticky hands, messy faces, minor spills, and other quick clean ups. We always keep a good stock of wipes in the bag. 
  3. Changing Pad– we love our folding travel changing pad! It makes it so much easier to change the kiddo and prevents us from having to lay her on the not-so-clean public changng tables or the floor- for those places who obviously still don’t realize that people (including Dads) need to change their babies.
  4. Daddy Caddy*- Speaking of diaper changing Daddys, the Daddy Caddy is an awesome alternative to having to carry the diaper bag. It not only carries the essential diapers and wipes, it also has separate zippered pouches to store Dad’s essentials while out with the kiddo. It can be hung from a belt loop so Dad’s hands are free to wrangle the kiddos and he’s not stuck carrying the usually feminine diaper bag! ;) Great idea for the simple and no fuss Dads in your life!
  5. “Butt Cream”– Not the classiest term for diaper ointment, but, it’s our term :) Our daughter only got diaper rash a couple times (thanks to a swim diaper and again thanks to a stomach bug and the consequences of that…). Keeping an extra tube of cream in the diaper bag and using it at every changing makes our lives so much easier!
  6. Disposable bags for dirty diapers– not a necessity, but, super convenient when you’re out somewhere and the little one has a terrible, horrible, gag-inducing diaper. These bags typically come in scented varieties and they help trap in the stink when you have to toss them in the trash can or worst case scenario…keep it in the diaper bag until you get home.
  7. Kandoo Wipes*– these wipes are awesome for the potty training kiddos in your life. You can even use these wipes for quick clean-ups. They smell amazing too! We seem to use them mostly for little messes and sticky hands while out and about. 
  8. Germbloc Hand Cream*– Let’s be honest, hand sanitizer is a mom’s best friend most days. One problem? Hand sanitizer is SO drying for our skin, let alone our kiddos’ skin! Plus, it never smells very nice. We started using GermBloc’s hand sanitizer cream and I refuse to use anything else anymore. It’s actually creamy and it smells like peppermint. It leaves no gross smell or residue after you use it. Your hands feel soft and moisturized. It’s completely alcohol free and has 7 moisturizers, 2 vitamins, and 6 botanical extracts inside. My favorite part is that you can buy them in various sizes including a super convenient travel size with a carabiner to attach to your bag. They also carry a spray which is perfect for going out to eat and spraying the table and high chair off before your kiddo rubs their hands all over it. It’s a mama necessity :)
  9. Snacks– Self-explanatory. Kids get hungry. Moms get hungry. Kids and moms get grumpy if hungry. Always take snacks! One of our favorite on-the-go snacks is Crunchies Freeze Dried Fruit. They come in 7 different varieties and our kiddo pretty much loves all of them (and so do we!) The most unique one is Freeze Dried Grapes…sounds strange, but, they are AMAZING. For the not-so-adventurous, they have the basics like Freeze Dried Cinnamon Apples and Bananas and Strawberries. All delicious and no weird ingredients or additives. Just the fruit, and when necessary, cinnamon. You can buy them in re-sealable pouches so they’re perfect for the diaper bag or car.
  10. Germ X Wipes– Okay, fine. I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for antibacterial and no germ wipes. I’m not a fanatic about it, but, I like having a variety of tools when we go places where other people are not always so clean. Germ X wipes are my favorite because they smell good, they don’t tear, they aren’t too dry or too wet, and they can wipe any gross surface you encounter.
  11. Light Blanket– we always carried a light blanket in the bag until just a few months ago. The light blankets are perfect for if baby falls asleep somewhere, if you want to cover up while nursing somewhere (or if baby is distracted), if you need to lay baby down somewhere that doesn’t have a changing table (just be sure to wash it ASAP when you get home), etc.
  12. Clothes– extra clothes for baby and at least an extra shirt for mama. When kiddos are in the infant and baby stage, it’s inevitable that you’re going to need changes of clothes. There’s no denying it. When our girl was itty bitty, I always carried extra shirts for myself in the bag too because I knew that I’d either leak breastmilk on myself or get spit up on. And, there’s just some days that you don’t feel like walking around with leaky boob marks or baby spit up on yourself.
  13. Extra boob pads– speaking of leaky boobs…if you’re a nursing mama, don’t forget the extra boob pads (breast pads if you want to be technical about it). During those first few months of nursing, I could fill a boob pad with milk instantly and it was not comfortable. Plus, keeping those wet pads on your nipples for too long is a breeding ground for not-so-nice things that can cause rashes, cracked nipples, thrush, and possibly mastitis.
  14. Dreft To Go Pen*- for those clothes that just didn’t make it without an accident, our go-to is the Dreft To Go pen. This thing is awesome. Not only is it small and compact, it helps to get rid of stains right away and keep them from setting until you can get home and wash them. Babies and kids are always messy, and now, you can maybe save that adorable, one-of-a-kind onesie instead of having to throw it away. Plus, Dreft is perfect for babies and is a little gentler on their sensitive skin and does not affect the flame-resistance capability of your baby’s sleepwear.
  15. Cell Phone– this is a necessity for me. Not only is it just for safety reasons in case there is an emergency, but, this is how I take the majority of my photos. Perfect for capturing photos out and about and for impromptu trips! Also, one of my new favorite things is the CardNinja pocket. It adheres to the back of your phone (or phone case) and you can fit a bunch of cards (up to 8), cash, etc. in it for quick trips. I LOVE it. I can keep all my important cards in there if we go somewhere quick or someplace that I can’t or don’t want to carry my purse/wallet. It’s stretchy and secure and the adhesive holds well. It has become a must have for me lately :) 

 

So, now that you have our go-to’s and favorite items to keep in the diaper bag, it’s time to pack yours! My biggest tip is try not to overpack. Test out the contents of your diaper bag with a few regular trips out and see what you actually use. If you NEVER use something, it’s probably safe to take it out. Don’t forget to take things that are suitable for your own child- we don’t take little toys with us every time, but, you may have a little baby who needs something to teeth on or play with to avoid a meltdown. Tweak this list as you see fit and you’ll have an awesomely packed diaper bag!

 

What is your #1 MUST HAVE item to carry in the diaper bag!? Also, stay tuned for a Hospital Bag Must Haves edition ;)

 

*Crunchy on the Weekend sometimes receives complimentary items to review on the blog. The items marked by asterisks above are products that I have received complimentary in exchange for my HONEST review. All opinions are my own and were not influenced by any other factors. I decide which items I will post reviews of and I will never recommend an item that I wouldn’t use myself. My reviews are just that- my reviews. If you are unhappy with an item that I have reviewed on my blog, I will not be held liable. If you have questions, please contact me at crunchyontheweekend@gmail.com.

 

 

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Keeping Your Sanity in Chaos

Keeping Your

Being a parent is TOUGH. Go ahead, you can admit it. There are days when you let your kiddo eat puffs and grapes for every meal (I promise I won’t tell…my little one does it at least once a week). There are days when you AND the kids don’t make it out of pajamas (guilty again)! There are days when you realize you’ve been wearing the same yoga pants for 3 days (I’ll admit I lose track when I resort to dry shampoo and think my hair is cleaner than it really is). There are days when you have an enormous “to-do” list and you’re lucky if you can get 1/2 of one task accomplished. There are days when you have the entire house to clean and your little one decides you will be her slave and nurse all day, forcing you to be stationary on the couch ALL.DAY.

I get it, because, I know those days all too well. And to top it off, that’s just a REGULAR, NORMAL day. 

Lately, our house has been ranking in the upper levels of chaos with no mercy.

When we suddenly decided to think about putting our house up for sale, we realized we had a hefty “to-do” list before that would be possible. We’re not talking painting a few rooms and cleaning the carpets. Nope. We’re talking full-on construction and renovation project over weeks and weeks. On top of that, we decided to do most of the work ourselves, thanks to the amazing handyman skills of my Dad. 

We were pretty prepared for the timeline and work that would be ahead of us. 

BIG SURPRISE when I ended up breaking my ankle and having to be in a cast for 4+ weeks and being unable to bear any weight AT ALL. I’m finally in a walking boot, but, this was a major setback since my Mom and Gramma had to help with our daughter EVERY DAY while I was in my cast. Without that help, we would have been in a pretty bad place all around! So, instead of being done with our renovation project at the end of August, we’re now looking at being done at the end of September. 

Even better is the undeniable lack of routine in our household right now. Nap times? Ha! If we’re lucky.  Our good eater enjoying a plethora of nutrient-dense foods? Popcorn, tortilla chips, and grapes count, right? Bedtime routine? Now you’re really being hilarious! Kiddo going to sleep in her own bed at night before snuggling up with us later on? You have to be delusional! 

If I thought our day-to-day was hectic already, a renovation and broken ankle made me laugh at my previous daily mom “struggles”. Compared to lately, my days of having a fully functional ankle were a dream world! 

So, when your daily routine gets COMPLETELY thrown off a cliff by a broken bone, illness, or other major event, how do you deal?

Sh*! happens. REAL life happens. Bad days happen. Illness happens. Broken bones happen. Day-to-day life with a family is never ideal. Never flawless. Real life is how you handle those things when you really don’t want to or hadn’t planned to.

ADAPT AND OVERCOME, MAMAS. 

1.) Ask for help. 

When I broke my ankle (at a workout in the park- thanks for throwing me off track on my first day, ankle!), I was so freaked out about how I was going to care for my child and household. I expressed this fear to one of my fellow MOPS moms and she immediately asked if we could use some meals. This amazing mama (you’re seriously an angel, Ashleigh!) organized a meal train for the first 2 weeks. I am eternally grateful to all of the mamas who jumped in, regardless of their OWN daily demands and struggles, to help us adjust to our new “normal” for the next 6+ weeks. We not only had meals, we got fruit, cookies, and sides to go along! Huge help when our fridge was bare.

2.) Accept the help.

As moms, it’s hard to put your pride aside sometimes and admit that, yes- you, supermom, need some help. It’s okay, and believe me, no one will think less of you for it. I not only have my Mom and Gramma helping with my day-to-day stuff, they’re also helping with packing our belongings, scheduling appointments, cleaning our house, doing our laundry, cooking us meals, staging our house for moving, and the list goes on. I would have never been able to do even a fraction of that stuff with this broken ankle. Just graciously accept the help when someone offers, and when you’re feeling better, pay it forward!

3.) Try to get organized.

One of our biggest struggles with me being down right now is our household, well, EVERYTHING. I’m always the one in charge of our household binder including bills, checking account register, grocery lists, food prep/meal prep, cleaning (for the most part), and miscellaneous things here and there. With our routine being so out of whack, our household binder went downhill, FAST. We were forgetting due dates for bills because our routine was simply gone and my typical routine of seeing our calendar on the fridge with the bills written down (on a daily basis) was long gone. Grocery trips were done by my husband (with baby in tow) or by my mom. We were constantly forgetting things because I wasn’t able to make a quick notes throughout the week like usual. So, if something catastrophic happens to your day-to-day routine, carve out some time to get organized. Designate duties to your husband, kids, whoever. Make notes on how you usually do things so people can just take charge. Ask for help!

4.) Let it go.

Whatever it is that has forced its way into your normal daily life, accept it. It’s happened, and as frustrating as it can be, it can’t be changed (in most cases at least). We all have our way of doing things and it’s hard to forfeit that and let others take control of our usual daily tasks. I like to fold laundry completely different than my mom does, but, she’s doing me a GINORMOUS favor by doing MY laundry so I deal with it, thank her, and just tell her where things belong! The alternative is me trying to hobble down a flight of stairs to our construction zone of a lower level while trying to figure out how to get the laundry baskets down there on crutches…not a good idea and a recipe for more broken bones. Don’t dwell on the fact that some things may not be done the way you’d normally do them. Just let it go and know that eventually, you’ll be back to doing those things YOUR way!

5.) ENJOY IT.

Yep. I said it. And no, I’m not being delusional or facetious! This will obviously not apply to all derailed routines, but, you can try it regardless.
As I’ve been stuck on the couch for the last 4+ weeks with minimal movement besides the necessities, I’ve come to realize that this happened for a reason. I know, I know- overly cliche, right? Bare with me.
As a mama who has struggled (and still is struggling) with PPD and postpartum induced anxiety, this broken ankle has allowed me to take a break. It has allowed me to open up to some of the closest people to me and allow them to see my daily struggles as a mom. It’s allowed me to focus on my blog, freelance work, networking, and in some ways, myself. I was so stressed out by so many things, and then, I break my ankle. Am I glad it happened? Not one bit. It added to my stress at that moment. However, it happened and I know it happened for a reason. As much as I don’t want to admit it, it was nice to not have to clean the house, cook meals, and change diapers. I was essentially good for boobs to nurse my daughter, and, arms to snuggle her. It wasn’t an ideal “vacation”, but, it was a little break and I know things will return to normal, eventually. You’re not less of a mom for wanting a break once in a while.

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Your kids will survive a not-so-perfect bedtime routine. Your spouse will manage to figure out your side of this parenting thing. Your family will realize how insane your kids can be on a daily basis when they’re seeing them for more than an hour or two at a time. Your spouse and kids will realize how much you do for them and see that they’d be screwed without you :) Your family will understand why you’re exhausted half the time when they see you. Your kids will realize that they can’t and don’t want to survive on popcorn for the rest of their lives.

We forget how specific our routines are and how they impact our daily life. We stress out at the first sign of change and think about all the negatives. We overwhelm ourselves with schedules and routines. We rarely stop and think about the positives in our daily life and why the craziness makes it worth it.

We all want a break, and when we get it, we want our craziness back. We must be INSANE, right!? Yes. Yes we are. And that, is what makes us moms. 

Lansinoh Breastfeeding Starter Set + Traditional Medicinals Mother’s Milk Tea GIVEAWAY!

Mamas- are you on a breastfeeding journey or about to start one!?

Whether you are a new mom or a well-seasoned mom, this Breastfeeding Starter Kit from Lansinoh  along with some Mother’s Milk Tea from Traditional Medicinals will be a huge help!

Lansinoh Breastfeeding Starter Set ($30 Value)
Lansinoh Breastfeeding Starter Set ($30 Value)

This awesome set includes:

– 24 Disposable Nursing Pads 
– 1 LatchAssist™ Nipple Everter
– 2 Thera°Pearl® 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Packs
– 1 HPA® Lanolin Tube (.25oz)

Breastfeeding can be TOUGH. Thankfully, companies like Lansinoh understand and make some awesome products to make nursing a little easier :)

The disposable nursing pads are my FAVORITE. They have been the most comfortable pads I have used- soft but durable enough to last the day without falling apart or leaking. These nursing pads are also discreet under your clothing which is a huge plus! The last thing I want (besides a milk stained shirt) are huge, bulky nursing pads showing through my shirt!

I have a couple friends who had some stubborn nipples when it came to nursing. This can create a very difficult situation, especially for new nursing moms- talk about discouraging and an affected milk supply. Lansinoh’s Nipple Everter will help your sweet little one get the latch you want them to get! Crisis averted and everyone is happy- especially that boob-lovin’ baby ;)

New moms- your boobs get sore and tender, right? I get it, and it is not pleasant! Pop the Breast Therapy Packs in the fridge or freezer for some serious relief from engorgement and pain. Warm them up to aid in milk letdown, clogged ducts, and mastitis relief. You can even use these packs while pumping to help your milk production! A win all around!

LANOLIN. This stuff was a lifesaver for me during the first few months of nursing my girl. A sometimes poor latch, frequent nursing, and pumping can leave your nipples tender and sore. Lanolin provides great relief while helping to heal cracks and other ouchies! Plus, it’s safe for baby to ingest- in small amounts so don’t let your little sugar pie use your lanolin tube as a teething toy, k? :)

Traditional Medicinals Mother's Milk Tea

I think every mom worries about milk production and whether she’s getting enough (side note- the amount you pump has no indication in how much milk baby is getting while nursing!). I love Mother’s Milk Tea by Traditional Medicinals. It gives my supply a little boost when I’m doubting myself the most! It has a slight black licorice taste to it (which I personally love!) and gets the job done!

So, are you convinced that you need and want this set yet!? If so, enter below for a chance to win and be on the way to a happy breastfeeding journey, thanks to Lansinoh and Traditional Medicinals!

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