Tag Archives: moms

10 Time-Saving Apps for Busy Moms

When you’re a busy mom, every second counts. Here are some time-saving apps to help you shortcut your way through life.

RetailMeNot (Free)
My stepmom turned me on to this app over the holidays, and I am obsessed! When you’re out shopping, just type in the name of a store to find all of the coupon codes available. When you go to checkout, they just scan the barcode on your phone.  With 24 different categories, you can find coupons for nearly every major retailer.

Evernote (Free)
Evernote’s slogan is “Remember Everything,” which is fitting for this accessible repository for notes, articles, links, photos, whatever you want to keep track of. What I love about Evernote is that I have it on my iPhone, iPad, work laptop, and home computer, so no matter what device I’m on, if I come across something I want to remember or go back to later, I can easily save it. I also love the voice note feature, which lets you dictate a message to yourself and save it as a note. I use this all the time when I think of a great blog post idea while I’m on the go!

Mint.com (Free)
This app lets you view all of your accounts in one place—bank accounts, investments, credit cards, mortgage—to give you a bird’s eye view of your finances. It even tracks and categorizes your transactions so you can see how much you’re spending each month on groceries versus gas. The Mint.com app will also give you financial advice based on your accounts and your spending habits.

Wunderlist (Free)
The ultimate list app, Wunderlist keeps track of your to-do list, your grocery list, your packing list for your upcoming trip, pretty much anything. It syncs across all your devices, and it allows you to share your lists, which comes in really handy when your hubby offers to go to the grocery store for you.

Grocery IQ (Free)
If you’re looking for a dedicated grocery list app, look no further. Build your grocery list using text, voice, or barcode scan, and then organize your items by aisle to help you get in and get out as quickly as possible. You can even search for relevant coupons based on what’s on your list and share your list across multiple devices.

IFTTT (Free)
IFTTT stands for If This Then That. Okay, so this isn’t an app, strictly speaking, but it DOES help your apps work harder for you. With IFTTT, you can set up “recipes” to help you automate just about anything. Some of my favorite recipes: when I star a blog post in my Google Reader, it automatically creates a note in Evernote; I get a text message to let me know it’s going to rain; and anytime I change my Facebook profile picture, my Twitter picture automatically updates as well. Sure, these aren’t necessities, but they do save me a step or two.

RedLaser (Free)
Never waste time bargain hunting again! This app lets you scan an item and instantly see the best online and local prices. You can also find top deals and search for stores nearby. Best of all? You can scan all of your loyalty cards right into the app so you never have to worry about keeping track of them all.

Find My iPhone (Free)
Things will go missing when there are kids around. It’s almost a rule of physics. At least with this app, you won’t spend an hour trying to figure out where your two year old stashed your phone. You have to set up this app BEFORE you lose your phone, but it definitely comes in handy when you need it to spring into action.

How to Cook Everything ($4.99)
Mark Bittman’s bestselling cookbook, How to Cook Everything, is now an easy-to-use app! Search reference information and recipes, complete with shopping lists and built-in timers. You can also easily print out your recipes and shopping lists. I love that this app doesn’t require a network connection to work, so even when I have no signal at the grocery store, I can still pull it up.

Total Baby ($4.99)
I so wish I had had this app when I was nursing my daughter. It keeps track of which side you nurse from and when, as well as a gazillion other things that new moms need to keep straight. Log vaccines, track sleep patterns, time pumping sessions, you name it, this app does it all.

Do you have a go-to app to help keep your life organized or to save you time? Share it!

How being a mom cut me to the quick—and why I am better for it

When I became a mom, I was warned that I would be unsure of myself and would question every parenting decision I made—at least until I got my bearings. What I wasn’t prepared for was the hit that my self-confidence and esteem would take. I’m not talking about not being able to fit into my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans or the fact that my belly button doesn’t quite look the same. I’m talking about how being a mom has forced me to put all of my own flaws and shortcomings under a microscope on a daily basis.

I thought that reaching my thirties and being a mom would give me a self-confidence and a surety that, until now, I never realized I was lacking. Instead, I am struggling with my inner self-image more now than ever before.

When my daughter throws a tantrum, or hits, or yells “You’re mean!,” I see my own impatience, my own short fuse, my own irrationality, my own  jealousy, my own competitiveness, staring out of those big blue eyes. And I feel ashamed. I know that this type of behavior is normal for a toddler, but the last thing I want is for my daughter to pick up these traits and experience the same self-doubt and discomfiture that I feel. It breaks my heart to even think about it (seriously, tears are licking my cheeks even as I type).

As difficult as it was for me to acknowledge these failings, I think it’s this recognition that will ultimately make me a better mom. I can begin to recognize my behavior and make conscionable choices to correct it. While becoming a mom was the catalyst for my introspection, it is also my motivation to be a better person and a stronger role model for my daughter. As she grows up, I want her to see me as someone who is not impatient but efficient, not irrational but passionate, not competitive but driven. And I want her to be able to see these things in me because I can glimpse them in myself.

“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.”
—August Wilson 

Margarita in a Can {They’re good. Seriously!}

My brother brought Bud Light’s new Lime-a-Ritas to dinner the other night and I, the on-the-rocks-extra-salt margarita snob, was certain they’d be terrible. Much to my surprise (and chagrin), however, they weren’t. They were actually pretty good. Nothing will ever beat a fresh mixed margarita, but for those nights when your stress level requires 100 cc’s of alcohol stat, these will certainly do the trick. And the best part is, the only effort you have to put in is popping the top!

Disclaimer: Don’t be stupid. Make sure you’re 21 before you try these. At the very least, don’t tell the arresting officer that you learned about them here!

Preparing for Delivery Day: Quick Tips and Helpful Hints

May is Pregnancy Awareness Month, so today’s post from guest blogger, Katie Moore, is in honor of all mamas-to-be. Katie’s blog,  Moore From Katie, covers all things mama and baby, so be sure to check it out!

Bringing a new life into the world takes a lot more planning than simply prepping the nursery.  Healthcare, both pre- and post-delivery, should be the main focus of every pregnancy. There are several standard steps you can follow to help make sure you are ready for delivery day.

Find the right doctor

It may be necessary for you to interview several doctors before finding one that has a similar birthing philosophy.  Some doctors offer scheduled cesarean procedures while others opt for natural childbirth whenever possible.  Be sure to research patient opinions and board certifications on any doctor up for consideration.

Decide where to have the baby

Unless you live in a rural area, there are probably several different options for birthing facilities near you.  There may be a birthing center that serves your local area, a hospital with a maternity ward, or even a midwife who specializes in home births.  It’s important to plan ahead with your doctor or midwife to determine the location for your delivery.  Not every doctor/midwife has privileges at every hospital.  Keep discussions open about the options in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises when the day comes.

Write up a birth plan

Before ever stepping foot into a birthing center or hospital, it’s a great idea for you to have a birth plan drawn up that details your preferences for labor and delivery.  Generally less is more, so the plan should not be too complex but should provide a general outline for how you want your labor and delivery to be handled.

Pack a bag

Putting together an overnight bag for the hospital stay is another must.  Make sure to pack a at least one change of clothes for yourself, clothing for your baby, a toothbrush, breastfeeding paraphernalia (if you plan to nurse), slippers and entertainment in the form of a book, music or movie.  For a more comprehensive packing checklist, click here.

After the birth

There are some other considerations to take into account immediately after the baby is born.  For example, is the baby going to be vaccinated?  Will the baby be fed with breast milk or formula?  Will you be collecting the baby’s cord blood for cord blood banking?  Knowing the answers to these questions in advance can save you a lot of stress.  Vaccinations are universally performed in the hospital, often within hours of birth.  If the hospital is not notified in advance that a baby should not be vaccinated, it is likely the infant will be vaccinated almost immediately.  Of course, no mother can know in advance whether breast-feeding will be successful, but you can decide whether or not you are going to try.  If you decide to bank your baby’s cord blood for future medical treatments, it should be collected soon after delivery, so the hospital will need to be aware of your plans in advance. Forward thinking and early planning can help make delivery a breeze and allow you to spend the first few hours after birth blissfully cuddling your new baby rather than making stressful but important decisions.

Katie Moore is a blogger who discusses maternity, motherhood, prenatal health, childbirth and other topics within this niche.  Visit her blog,Moore From Katie, or follow her on Twitter @moorekm26.

Guest Post: When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Work Out

I had a pretty difficult time breastfeeding, which I talked about here. My friend Shannon also had a less-than-ideal breastfeeding experience with her first child, but she had to deal with a grief and a guilt that I never experienced. Breastfeeding didn’t work out for Shannon and her son, and she agonized over it for months. But time gives us perspective, and Shannon has been kind enough to share her story in the hopes that it will help other new moms who might be struggling with breastfeeding.

© Jerry Bunkers

Breastfeeding is supposed to be a natural bonding experience between a mother and child.   I went into childbirth with no doubt that I was going to breastfeed my son. After all, there is so much research supporting breastfeeding and its positive lifelong effects. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.”   Because of this research, I was determined.   No matter what, I was going to breastfeed my newborn son.

Like many things in life, what I expected did not happen. Not even close. The agony started in the hospital.  My son, Finn, would not latch, and lactation came in to help us with every feeding.  Finally, the head lactation specialist said, “Well, I don’t usually recommend this, but I guess you are going to have to supplement with formula.” The first pang of guilt coursed through me.  Am I doing something wrong? Will my baby be okay even though I gave him formula?  These thoughts raced through my mind.  Lactation continued to visit and, because I work in the hospital, I knew that we were the lost case of the weekend.  My son was the only full term baby in the Newborn Nursery who would not latch and needed 24/7 help with breastfeeding.

I was given discharge instructions to have Finn attempt to breastfeed while my husband simultaneously squirted formula through a syringe in the side of his mouth.  This was an agonizing experience for both my son and I, and it was clear that it was not working.  In tears, I looked to my discharge instructions from Lactation.  The bottom line of the sheet said, “No matter what, do not give in and give a bottle!” What was I going to do? I felt so helpless and scared.  I knew my baby needed to eat, but I felt so inadequate giving him a bottle because I felt like my chance at breastfeeding would be blown forever.  After a few breakdowns, I finally gave in.  Finn took the bottle and was so happy. He was finally able to latch easily and enjoy a feeding.  I began to relax slightly. My restless newborn was actually happy.

Fast forward another month.  At this point, I had given up on breastfeeding completely after consulting with Lactation several times with no success. I was pumping and giving breast milk via bottle.  I felt pretty good about this, because hey, even though I was not breastfeeding, at least Finn was getting my breast milk.  Well all of a sudden, at month two, Finn began to break out in a terrible rash around his mouth and neck and refused to take a bottle.  After several appointments with specialists and frantic phone calls to our pediatrician, we realized that Finn was allergic to both milk and soy and could not tolerate breast milk.

Finn was started on Nutramigen, a hypoallergenic formula that is dairy and soy free.  My son’s temperament changed completely in 24 hours.  My fussy baby that screamed for 8 hours a day was now a happy child.  On one hand, I was so relieved.  However, I also felt so lost because that meant I could no longer offer breast milk. I continued to pump and save my milk, hoping that maybe one day Finn could use it.  After two more weeks of pumping, I finally stopped.  My terrible, agonizing journey of breastfeeding was over, but my feelings of inadequacy continued, especially with probing questions about nursing.

After this experience, I have realized that most people ask about breastfeeding after you have a newborn.  Let me tell you, for a mom who is having difficulty with breastfeeding, this is not a welcome question.  I felt like I had to justify putting Finn on Nutramigen for several months after I stopped nursing.  So many people asked why he was on formula and gave me a strange look when I said that I was not breastfeeding. I felt like I had to go into the long-winded explanation that I just described as to why I couldn’t nurse.

I know that, for many mothers, breastfeeding is the clear choice.  However, this does not mean it is right or even possible for everyone.   New mothers are extremely vulnerable, and the judgment that some people pass about breastfeeding can be enough to put a new mother over the edge.  A new study in the August  2011 edition of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology finds that women who struggle to breastfeed in the first two weeks after giving birth are more prone to postpartum depression.  My experience supports this study.  I am usually such a happy person and was not myself through this feeding struggle.

If a mother is not breastfeeding, it could be for a variety of reasons.  People need to respect that and not pry so much into other people’s lives and experiences.  When a woman has a newborn, people need to be focused on the miracle of life.  As long as the baby is healthy and thriving, who cares if they are getting breast milk or formula? If the baby is healthy and happy, that is all you can ask for as a new parent.

Will I breastfeed my next child? I certainly am going to try.  However, if it does not work out, there is no way I am going to go through that grief, agony, and guilt again.  I am going to focus on enjoying my newborn.  Having a newborn is one of the most amazing experiences, and there is no way that I am going to let breastfeeding get in the way of this incredible miracle.

Go Ahead, Find Your “Me Time”

A couple of weeks ago, Wired Momma’s Monica Sakala interviewed NBC4’s Angie Goff about work-life balance. It was a good piece, but the nugget that stuck out most to me what was Goff had to say about her “me time.” She has her “me time” between 1 and 2 a.m., after she gets home from delivering the 11 p.m. news. My first thought was, isn’t she exhausted?! I thought, if it were me, I’d be crawling into bed the minute I stepped in the door.

But the comment made me think about my own “me time,” and I realized people would probably think what I considered “me time” pretty strange as well. You see, my commute is my “me time.” I know, this doesn’t seem like the logical time to destress and decompress, and it didn’t used to be. Then I discovered audio books. I’ve always been an avid reader, a book snob of sorts. I turned my nose up to audio books for a long time because I haughtily thought they would “taint the inner voices I lent to characters as I read.” I’m serious—I actually think I said that exact thing to someone once over dinner. But once I started, I was instantly hooked!

I commute to work 45 minutes to an hour each way, so that’s an uninterrupted hour and a half  (minimum, it is NoVA after all) that I get every day. When I’m listening to a particularly good book, I can’t wait to get in the car for my drive. I don’t get as annoyed by stupid drivers anymore, and I actually get excited when I get caught by a red light (I get to hear more of the story!). And with my library card in hand, I have a steady stream of free, in-car entertainment to fill my “me time.”

The point of me sharing this seemingly insignificant story is to encourage all women, but especially moms, to work with what you’ve got to carve out your “me time.” Even if it’s just 30 minutes here and 20 minutes there. The time is there—it just might need a little tweaking, or a really great audio book!

When do you find “me time”?