I am Jon Snow, I know nothing. No amount of books, anecdotes, podcasts, or documentaries prepared me for childbirth or motherhood. I had the birth I had, not the one I wanted. Thats a story for another day though.
I am constantly in awe of the gifts that motherhood has given to me, and the things it has taken away too. I thought i’d share some of the lessons I have learned over the past two years.
Community is so important because caregiving can be isolating. Reach out.
Being a steward of the earth is important. Maybe you don’t give a heckin heck about animals, or have no interest in growing plants or going vegan. But you can recycle, and buy ethically raised and organically grown foods and meat if your life allows you to. You can teach your kids where their food comes from and how to be ethical consumers because you owe it to them to teach them how to survive on this planet and not trash it.
I have to be gentle and kind to myself.
My body is magnificent. Even though sometimes I am dehydrated and sleep deprived, it continues to show up for me and my grabby toddler each day with minimal complaints.
I owe it to myself and my kid to follow my own dreams.
Constantly access what is in front of me and be creative.
They are watching you (your kids, that is…not ‘the man’ lol).
You will probably lose friends. Certain friendships are seasonal, and when you enter a new season in your life its ok if they don’t want to join you. Even if it sucks.
Your kid is a product of their environment. They will learn how to cope, manage their emotions, and express themselves from how you do the same.
Your kid will probably lose it in the grocery store.
If someone is acting like they have their shit together, they are lying.
This week is International Baby-wearing Week. I’ve been wearing Thandiwe since she was a few weeks old and it has been an amazing hands-free way to keep her near. Baby-wearing has also been an awesome way for my partner to bond with the baby when he’s with her. He loves how it easy it is to keep her close and it makes putting her down for a nap much easier. Thandiwe enjoys being worn too, she often comes running when she sees me grab a woven wrap or stops fussing when she sees me buckle the soft structured carrier to my waist.
Finding a carrier that works for your body type can be a challenge which is why I am a fan of trying before you buy. Buying second-hand is also a good way to be eco-friendly and economical. Seeing everyone share their baby-wearing stories all over the internet this week has made me reflect on our baby-wearing journey as well. We have one soft structured carrier, one woven wrap, and one ring sling. I also enjoy trying different carriers from my local baby-wearing chapter’s lending library since I am training to be an educator and need to be familiar with all kinds.
Scroll down to see some photos of us baby-wearing and an inforgraphic from momlovesbest.com about the benefits of babywearing.
Pregnancy left me with some rough and raggedy skin on my body. I chalk it up to negligence on my part combined with some hormonal changes. I’m working to combat it. Anyway. Once upon a time I tried out a sample of this amazing scrub from a company that shall not be named. I loved the scrub, and once I finished the sample I made my way to their website to order a full size for myself. Lo and behold, the scrub and the shipping cost were ridiculous. Back to the drawing board I went and recreated the same simple scrub with the same (if not better) quality ingredients.
What you will need:
Fair trade organic ground coffee
Wild Orange Essential Oil
Almond Oil (organic if you can find it )
Mix a cup of ground coffee together with a few tablespoons of the almond oil till you have a consistency that feels good on your skin. Add 10+ drops of the wild orange oil and keep the concoction in a sealed glass jar. Use whenever you need a moisturizing and invigorating body scrub down. Fair warning, coffee grounds are messy AF in the shower but I love how I feel after using them.
I never had a dryer growing up. I never knew that I needed it. We used a machine or our hands to get our clothes clean, then we took them outside still dripping and hung them in the bright sunshine. I’ve been looking to recreate the peace that came with doing such a simple task now that I am a homeowner and I am happy to say I have my own clothesline courtesy of my spouse. Read more about why I love them over at my guest post on the Black Women Do Cloth Diaper blog.
I’ve been a mom for almost a YEAR now. Holy crap. It’s been amazingly fulfilling and challenging. My daughter is growing into a smart, beautiful, hilarious ham and I am so glad I get to be her mom.
I thought I’d share some products, services, themes and advice on what got me through this first year of motherhood.
Therapy – I started seeing a therapist a few weeks after she was born to get a handle of my PPA, and PPOCD. It was amazing to have a professional assure me that I was not alone and that other mom’s went through what I was going through.
Baby bookworms – A free book club for infants at my local library that introduces literacy. It was a perfect FREE excuse to get out of the house and be around other parents and babies.
Minimalism – I have written about this before here but minimalism freed my house and mind of clutter. I only allow items that are useful or bring me joy in to my house. That goes for Thandie’s clothes and toys too. I have a clear idea of what I want for her (the strict african mom in me dances with joy) so If she is gifted something that does not fit then it gets passed on to another kid who may enjoy it better.
Lactation Consultant – Thandiwe spent the first 9 days of her life in the NICU and I had to pump every 2-3 hours so she could be bottle fed. When she came home, we struggled to latch. Without the help of Gale, the amazing lactation consultant from the hospital and her continued support and encouragement I think our breastfeeding journey would look a lot different.
Toy and Clothing Rotation – This has been an amazing money saver for my friends and I. Thandie gets hand me down toys and clothes from my friends kids that have outgrown their stuff and she passes them on to my friends with younger kids when she has outgrown them too. I rotate her toys around weekly so she has something different to play with often.
Buying used – Kids are gross. Thandiwe is almost always covered in cantaloupe stains (she’s obsessed with cantaloupe) . My parents encouraged lots of outside play and I was a filthy kid too, which makes me a big fan of letting her be outside and exploring. My head would explode if her brand new items got holes and stains on them too. Buying used toys and clothes when you can-is better for the environment and my wallet. Her summer wardrobe for this year was almost completely second hand and free except for a few new gifts.
Baby wearing – Ive written about my love for babywearing and its benefits before here. I had Thandiwe at work with me for 6 months before I became a SAHM. My lillebaby carrier was a life saver. Now that she is older I am excited to try out different carriers.
Baby wed leaning – I had this beautiful vision of me feeding my baby pureed organic foods that I made myself. She quickly squashed that by refusing all pureed foods. She only wanted what was on my plate. I learned about baby led weaning and started giving her soft hand held vegetables and fruits that she could eat when she wanted at meal time and she has been happy as a clam ever since. She loves cucumber, potato, broccoli, melons, and apples.
Mango butter – The main component of my handmade diaper cream. I love a good multi-use product. I buy mango butter in bulk and make diaper cream, body lotion and hair moisturizer for my family. I use different essential oils to tailor the butter for its different uses.
Chewelry – Chewable jewelry made of silicone or wood are great to have around if you baby wear or breastfeed. It is entertaining for little twiddling hands to explore and to soothe little teething gums. I have a coupon for 20% off some cute pieces from Okrosh etsy store if you are interested in investing in some pieces for your wardrobe. The code is HILBILL20
Cloth diapering and wipes – We’ve been cloth diapering since Thandie was 1 month old. I was cloth diapered and I knew it was something I wanted to do so save money and reduce my contribution to landfill waste. My favorite diapering system is pocket diapers followed my covers. Learn more about different types of cloth diapering options here.
Envelope System – I am a fan of the envelope system for keeping things organized. It allowed me to keep my diaper bag/purse in order. My diaper bag was very minimal. One pouch had her wipes, cream, diapers and wetbag, another -my wallet, keys and lip balm. Id use the pockets to keep a water bottle and some toys for her and that was it.
Daniel Tiger – Shout out to PBS for producing sweet, educational content. Daniel Tiger has provided many a distraction while I attempt to manage Thandiwe’s thick curls and his catchy songs have brought many smiles to her face.
Lullaby renditions of Rihanna has brought on many naps for which I am ever so grateful.
Discovery Center and other free programs – It is so fun to watch my little one engage with toys and other kids. Free programs and places like splash parks and drum circles are a great way to socialize your kiddo.
BWI – My local chapter of Baby wearing international was a great help in teaching me how to safely use and try out different characters as well as meet parents with kiddos of similar ages.
Podcasts – For keeping me company and making me laugh and cry.
Online communties – For advice about cloth diapering, to breastfeeding and meeting kindred spirits.
I hope you find a simple system that works for you and your littles.
Spanking as a form of discipline is in my DNA. I was spanked, as were my siblings, my dad, my mother, my grandparents. Same goes for my partner and his relatives. Spare the rod, spoil the child.
Growing up In Botswana, most adults in my life adopted a “it takes a village” mentality. Teachers, aunts, even complete strangers used spanking to discipline wayward children. But that’s the thing. We were kids. In our attempts to learn good from bad, we test our or environments in the most frustrating ways. We make decisions without forethought. Which is normal for a child. I was a star at this. My favorite misdemeanor to date was stealing my families entire months supply of pasteurized milk to feed my neighbor Rea’s new baby goat. This resulted in a spanking, with no conversation regarding my actions. Whenever I got a beating… my mind wasn’t focused on my actions, I went in to self preservation mode. I was worried about the pain, how soon the pain would stop, what I needed to make it hurt less and how to not get caught the next time to avoid this pain. I was not aware of the fact that milk was expensive, that my family bought it in bulk coz it was cheaper that way and that if I gave all the milk to the kid, that we would have no milk for cereal in the morning. I was unable to think critically yet, but if these points had been brought up to me, I’m sure I would have made better choices.
I can joke about it now, as most people who got spanked can. Often times parents spank their kids in the hopes that the threat of violence will keep them from making poor choices. I remember when I would go outside to play I would be told “if you get hurt, I will beat you”. Instead of just saying hey, be safe out there, be careful when you are playing because don’t want you to get hurt.
This is obviously an opinion I have developed from a place of privilege. Both my daughter and I are safe and healthy, with a roof over our heads. I recognize corporal punishment as a swift albeit temporary way to end behavior that may be unsafe for a child, especially when they are in different environment that Thandiwe and I are in.
Because of his experiences, my father chose to never lay a hand on me. As a matter of fact, he only raised his voice to me once. I had done something bad, and he told me what I had done , why it was wrong and how disappointed he was in me and the consequences of my actions. You can bet I never did it again, and this experience has stayed with me far more than the numerous beatings I got from my stepmom. My goals is to never spank Thandiwe when she inevitably messes up. I will sit her down, we will talk about her choices and actions and go from there. It’s up to me to end the cycle of violence in my family .