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The Parent Trap

The Parent Trap

Anyone who tells you they love every single minute of being a parent isn’t telling you the truth.

Projectile vomit? Massive diarrhea diaper leaks? Bleeding nipples? Public tantrums?

Come on.

It is 100 percent possible and reasonable to love your kids completely, and yet NOT love being a parent 100 percent of the time. Parenting is a 24-hour a day job that, frankly, sometimes sucks. And you feel stuck. I mean, you can’t even get away when you sleep when your child is young. The kid needs to eat every few hours, after all.

The thing is, we aren’t supposed to talk about it. We’re supposed to act like it’s all sunshine, rainbows, unicorns and kittens. With glitter.

Ugh.

You do love your kids. More than anything. And while this stage is hard - it doesn’t last forever. (I know, blah, blah, blah. That’s the last thing you want to hear while you’re living it. But hold on.) There are some things you can do to help find joy in your life and in your kids, and break free of the parent trap.

Take a break

It’s important. You’re still the same woman you were before you became a mom. Those interests you had, those hobbies you enjoyed - they didn’t vanish into thin air. Build time to nurture things you love and enjoy into your life. Leave your baby with someone you trust, and spend a few hours caring for yourself. No mommy-guilt allowed!

Cut yourself some slack

Sometimes, we feel trapped because we’re putting too much pressure on ourselves to be the “perfect mom.” (Perfect according to whom, anyway?) Don’t. Buy. Into. It. Is your baby healthy, well-fed and clean? Then you’re doing just fine.

Friends

Feeling trapped because you’re home alone all day with the baby? That’s not unusual, or surprising. It’s time to get out with the baby. Hit up your local library, church or community center and begin connecting with area mom groups. (Trust us, they’re out there.) You’ll find tons of friendly people with children the same age as yours, and have the chance to participate in fun activities with your child. What could go wrong? (Exploding diapers excluded, of course.)

Go ahead. Take the selfie with your baby.

Go ahead. Take the selfie with your baby.

Parenting - or for that matter, life - isn’t always easy. Between the feedings and the laundry and the dishes and work, there are days when it can feel nearly impossible to balance it all. Your house is a mess, there’s no milk in the fridge and you can’t remember the last time you had a shower.

But you know what? You should go ahead and take a selfie with your baby.

You’re busy. Maybe you’re not comfortable with how you look post-baby, or maybe you just don’t like to have your picture taken. Maybe you didn’t bother to put any makeup on today. That’s OK.

You should go ahead and take the selfie.

Is your shirt stained? Are you wearing your old, worn leggings with holes in the knees? Did you never get out of your pajamas today? That’s OK.

You should go ahead and take the selfie.

All too often moms are on the other side of the camera, capturing precious images of our families. They’re beautiful memories, but they don’t include us. You see, we’re usually the designated family historian, making sure every special moment is captured. But when you’re the one capturing the moments, you’re rarely represented in them.

We won’t be here forever. And anyone who’s lost a parent can tell you, they’d rather have photos of their parent, than a photo of the family holiday tree. Time passes. Memories fade. Leave your children plenty of photos of you together to help them remember you by.

Go ahead and take the selfie.

Camping with Baby? You bet.

Camping with Baby? You bet.

 

Some people really, REALLY like camping. It’s their THING. They live for time in the woods, sleeping on the ground, campfires, and shared bathroom facilities.

Others, well, not so much. In fact, the thought of spending an entire weekend in the great outdoors breaks them out in hives.

If you’re in the second group, this post is not for you. Carry on.

But if you’re in the first group - yay! You’ve probably been camping your whole life but now that you’re a parent (or soon to be), you might be wondering how you can continue camping with a baby in tow.

Pull up your folding chair and let’s have a little chat.

First of all, let’s be completely honest. No matter how much you enjoy camping, it ain’t easy. Camping with your baby compounds that, but if you know it going in you’ll be fine. All in all, it’s mostly about the extra gear you’ll need to take. Your baby’s day-to-day routine doesn’t really change just because you’re living alfresco. Baby needs to eat, sleep and play. Pack accordingly.

Eat

If your baby is young and still on breastmilk or formula, then you’ll just need yourself, or formula and bottles. When it comes to formula, bring twice as much as you need. No, really. Just in case. To make life a little easier, use disposable bottle liners for the duration of your trip. You can sterilize the nipples in boiling water on your camp stove. Easy-peasy.

If baby is on solids, take a freestanding portable high chair or one that clamps to the picnic table. And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t forget the vinyl tablecloth.

Sleep

The bigger the tent, the better. Family of three? Get a tent for 10. Ok - we’re exaggerating. But only a little. You’re going to want the biggest tent you can afford, preferably one you can stand upright in, and one that has room for your bed, baby’s portable crib or bassinet, all your luggage, and a diaper changing station.

A word about baby’s sleeping arrangements and temperature - as in you can’t regulate it in a tent. So given the time of year, pack accordingly. Socks, warm pajamas and sleep sacks are musts, even in the summer. And be sure to take a HUSH hat, to block out sounds from camp so baby can sleep peacefully.

Play

Even though we’re talking about it last, this is what you’ll probably take care of first when you arrive at camp. After all, you’ve gotta unload the car and set up the tent. What in the world are you supposed to do with your kid?

Set up the pack n’ play and put a mosquito net or a sheet across the top to keep the bugs out. You’ll use it all weekend. Other ideas: a small, separate tent that’s just for play, an inflatable baby pool (Boom! It’s also your baby bath tub!), a portable play yard. The choice is yours. Just Do. It. First. You’ll thank us. Promise.

If you have some camping experience under your belt, adding your little one into the mix really isn’t that hard. Just be sure to plan ahead. And maybe rent an extra-large trailer to haul all the extra gear.

We’re kidding.

Sort of.