Why I Switched to Shopping Small for Children’s Clothing

Why I Switched to Shopping Small for Children’s Clothing

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that I love to share children’s and infants’ clothing from big retailers like the Gap, Zara, Ralph Lauren and Carters. I still love those brands, but this year my boys’ wardrobes look a little different. Most of their items are from small shops I discovered on Instagram. I share a lot of my finds in my Instagram stories. If you’re wondering why I made such a dramatic shift, here are the reasons why I decided to start shopping small: 

Great Boy/Gender Neutral Options

I’ve frequently discussed how boy moms get the short end of the stick when it comes to kids fashion. A few large retailers like the Gap and Zara do a good job of providing fashionable options for boys, but there are some small shops that really understand that boy moms (and dads) want more options. Small shops make shopping for my boys fun- seasonal colors and silhouettes feel well thought out and special. Some small shops also specialize in gender neutral items. And I’m able to find options that are comfortable enough for play but feature high quality (and often organic) fabric that holds up well and makes it easier to pass items down to siblings or friends. As a mom of three boys close in age, I’ve learned that quality definitely matters when I try to pass as many items as possible down from one brother to another.

Support for Women Owned Businesses

Most of the small shops that I frequent are women (and mom) owned businesses. I have a lot of respect for female entrepreneurs. Several years ago I started a small vintage and retro clothing company with my husband. It was a lot of work and I remember how excited we got every time we heard the sound of a new order (we’re running on autopilot right now with plans to relaunch soon, but we still get excited if there’s a new Etsy order). If I have a choice between handing my money over to a large corporation or to a woman who’s chasing her dreams, I’ll choose the latter. 

Resale Opportunities 

The most frequent complaint I hear about shopping small for children’s clothing is that the cost is too high. I’ll admit it took me a little while to get over my sticker shock. Most large retailers are able to offer clothing at a lower price or with frequent sales because they can absorb the costs. When I researched this issue, I found out that making children’s clothing is actually quite expensive. Factories often charge a premium for smaller sizes, especially when they have to apply additional safety and quality standards. While it’s unfortunate that these costs have to be passed on to the consumer, I think it’s worth it to invest in quality you can trust and to avoid the hidden dangers of fast fashion. Some small shops also make items by hand and the price is a reflection of materials, labor, and love.

One of the ways that I get around the higher costs is by making money back when I’m done with an item through resale markets. This is my #1 tip to save money over time. There are many groups on Facebook that allow users to buy and sell clothing via paypal. Some are specific to one brand and some cover a variety of brands. You can usually find them by searching for “[brand name] BST” in groups. And some brands have a very high resale value; I have been able to resell some items from Childhoods Clothing for more than their original retail value when I changed my mind about a particular style. 

Here are some of my favorite shops for baby and children’s clothing. If you have any favorites let me know in the comments. 

Childhoods Clothing

Gus + Steele

Fin & Vince

Jamie Kay

Milk Bots

Maddog Made

Bolts & Blooms

Learoo Baby

The Simple Folk

Rylee + Cru

Darling Clementine

Hugo Loves Tiki

In an upcoming post I’ll share some of my favorite small businesses for toys, educational resources and sensory play. 

Xo,

Courtney

Why I Will Likely Choose to Homeschool

Why I Will Likely Choose to Homeschool

Earlier this year (before coronavirus and social distancing) I took my sons to the park on an unusually warm day. It had just rained, and there were puddles all over the sidewalks. My oldest son Mason ran to a puddle and proceeded to jump and splash around. I saw his shoes and jeans getting soaked, and my first impulse was to pull him away and redirect him to a less messy activity. But I squashed that impulse, thinking isn’t this exactly the kind of thing kids are supposed to do? As I let him have his muddy puddle day, I noticed other moms walking by, tightly gripping their children’s hands and firmly telling them that there would be no puddle jumping that day. While I don’t judge those moms (I know realistically that every day can’t be a muddy puddle day) I have this lingering sense that we’ve lost some of the magic of childhood. I feel like our society is so obsessed with comparison, and meeting milestones and achievement now, that we put a lot of pressure on children rather than letting them develop naturally and at their own pace. That also creates a lot of pressure for parents, and may give children less opportunity to explore their environment and interests. 

My disenchantment extends to education. Let me preface this by saying that I know there are many great public and private schools around the country. Educators have some of the most important and undervalued jobs in our society. I also come from a family of educators and people who work within the public school system. My mom is a licensed school counselor and former counseling director, and my stepdad is a superintendent for a city in Hampton Roads. They feel passionate about public schools and work to make them better. But I have some concerns about whether or not public school will be the best fit for my boys, and the more research that I do the more I think it may not be a good fit. And now that so many people are being forced to consider their options because of the pandemic, homeschooling has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight. 

Here are my concerns with traditional schooling and why I think homeschool may be a better fit for my family: 

  • I’m not a fan of the grading system as a whole. I think grades are one of many ways in which kids are separated into groups of good and bad. We give opportunities to high achieving students and make low achieving students feel as if they are deserving of less, and sometimes this is done without diagnosing why students aren’t performing well. It’s also unfortunately true that African American boys are more likely to be mislabeled as bad because of cultural differences and educator biases. And as someone with three black boys, that’s not something that I take lightly. With homeschooling, I can ensure that their learning environment is highly supportive and collaborative, and that it fosters confidence. I can work with them on their weaker subject areas and push them in their areas of strength without the reward/punishment system that grading creates. 

 

  • Teachers in a traditional classroom aren’t given enough time or freedom to teach in a way that works with every student’s individual learning style. I believe Mason and Myles have a visual learning style. Mason also has some sensory processing issues and gets overstimulated very easily. I can already foresee that a traditional classroom environment may be challenging for him. If I homeschool my children, I can create a low stimulation environment that focuses on their individual learning styles. I can also have the freedom to include subjects that I believe should be on a standard curriculum, and include whatever supplemental materials, outside activities, and field trips that I want to include. Homeschooling is not bound to a set schedule or confined to the walls of a traditional classroom.

 

  • And my final concern is that our reliance on checklists and standardized testing sometimes forces students to move on before they’ve really mastered a subject. With homeschooling I can take my time if the kids struggle in any area before moving on, to build a stronger foundation. Kids are allowed more freedom to grasp ideas without the pressure of standardized testing. 

 

That being said, I know there are many benefits to traditional schooling and what’s best for your family will vary by the individual. Of course homeschooling isn’t a solution for everyone. For some it may not seem financially feasible or work with their schedules. Many people do not want to be at home with their kids all day and that’s okay too. And many value the social and academic structure of a traditional school. However I know there are also many people who have an interest in homeschooling but find the idea of it daunting. The number one concern that most people seem to have is that their children won’t get enough social interaction if they are homeschooled. Many homeschool families participate in local homeschool groups and co-ops, use group tutors, place their children in sports and extracurricular activities, attend church etc. We plan to supplement their education with these types of activities outside of the home, and encourage group collaboration within our home. 

Another big concern seems to be parents feeling like they’re not up to the task of teaching all day and providing all of the support that a child needs. One important point to note is that homeschooling does not require teaching for eight hours a day, and for younger kids it shouldn’t span more than a few hours. Parents also have the freedom to be as involved in the curriculum as they want. You can create your own, go with a very structured curriculum that requires little planning, or combine things that you like from different curriculums. Parents can also use tutors or co-ops for difficult subjects, and seek outside resources and referrals for help with developmental issues. 

If you’re interested in homeschooling or having some additional resources to supplement distance learning for the upcoming school year, there are a lot of great curriculums out there to consider. I already have a few favorites, and I’m looking for more. These are made by Christian companies, but if you’re not interested in that I think it’s possible to tailor them into a more secular curriculum. I’ve heard great things about Masterbooks. I’m also very intrigued by The Good and the Beautiful (a very structured curriculum that makes homeschooling multiple children easier by teaching two subjects family style) and Gather Round (which focuses on unit studies and teaches all subjects family style except math). I also highly recommend the book The Brave Learner; it’s a great resource for parents who want to lean into their children’s education and enhance some of the magic of childhood.

How do you feel about homeschooling? If you have school aged children, what are your plans for the upcoming school year? Let me know your thoughts.

 

Xo,

Courtney

 

Thoughts on 50/50 Parenting

Thoughts on 50/50 Parenting

I recently started working on a blog post about how my husband and I split up our responsibilities and decided to delay it a bit to write about this theme for Father’s day. For those of you who are new to my blog, I like to challenge misconceptions about millennial motherhood. You can read one of my early blog posts where I covered a range of common misconceptions here. For this father’s day themed post I wanted to address what I believe is a common misconception about millennial dads (and maybe modern fatherhood in general). And if you’re new to my blog, here’s some background on my family: My husband Nosa and I met in college (almost 10 years ago- where does the time go??) but we got married in 2016 and have three beautiful boys ages 3, 2, and 8 months. Yes, we have our hands full. But our children are also the light of our lives. The past year has been a whirlwind. Three under three was no joke, especially with a colicky baby. Thankfully we are now at a stage where all three boys have a consistent naptime, a consistent bedtime, and sleep through the night. And our youngest Maxwell is crawling, being extremely vocal, and playing (aka fighting over toys) with his brothers already. Nosa always jokes that Maxwell is his favorite; he really completes our family. This period of our lives has been really intense, but we’re constantly learning and growing as a result. 

Sometimes well-meaning people ask me how Nosa is doing with a kind of pitying tone, and this always leaves me confused. He’s been sleeping through the night much longer than I have; he’s doing fine. Not that I want to make light of his experience, because being a parent is really hard. He’s had plenty of stress and frustration just like I have. But while I appreciate their concern for him, I think on some level it stems from the fact that many people expect men to be the weaker parent and inherently less capable when it comes to handling everything. I honestly find that a bit problematic and that’s the misconception I want to address. I don’t baby my husband. Am I better at packing a diaper bag, preparing meals, and scheduling appointments? Yes. But he’s better at entertaining the kids, shifting the energy in the room when I’m frustrated, and teaching them new things. We were both co-creators of our family, and my expectations for a 50/50 partner demand that he step up every day just like I do. 

I’m not trying to sound sanctimonious about my expectations, but I believe a lot of men are becoming increasingly involved and capable in their children’s lives and we should expect nothing less. And when a family grows at any stage we should assume both partners are equally involved and share similar feelings about that growth unless we’re told otherwise.

That’s how I feel in theory, but how does expecting a 50/50 partner look in practice (especially with me being a stay at home parent)? Well, I’ve had to let go of some things- I’m the kind of person who likes to take on a lot in order to ensure that things are done the way I like them. But that can be exhausting, especially since I’m with the kids 24/7. I’ve learned that his way of doing things usually works too, I just have to give him the opportunity to handle things on his own. This is very important when I need a break, and something I’m still working on. 

We’ve also had to make some adjustments to our schedule. Because I’m a stay at home mom, childcare is my job during the day. But mornings, evenings, and weekends are times that we divide responsibilities evenly. We both like to work out in the mornings sometimes, but if it’s his day he knows to be back in time to help me get our boys up and ready. And if it’s my day he’s on childcare duty. He always feeds and takes care of Maxwell while I prepare breakfast for my toddlers. After work he watches them while I take a break if I need it, and while I make dinner. Otherwise we usually parent together outside of work hours until our kids’ bedtime. I prepare the meals because I’m the better chef, but he usually does the dishes, etc etc. Our schedule can be hectic and intense but we reward ourselves with quality time after the kids go to bed. Is our system perfect? Of course not. There’s always room for improvement. But it’s always evolving to meet our needs and expectations. And I always give feedback when I feel like I need more support. 

Do you agree that the idea that men are less capable/enthusiastic parents is a common misconception? If you have a partner, how do you divide up responsibilities in your household? Do you embrace or reject traditional gender roles? Let me know your thoughts.

 

Xo,

Courtney

How to Avoid Mom Burnout

How to Avoid Mom Burnout

How are you holding up? I know the past couple of months have been tough for everyone. I’m grateful that my family is healthy and together at home (and also grateful that my baby Maxwell is finally sleeping through the night so I can feel like a real human being again) but of course spending so much time with two toddlers and an infant without a real break can be challenging at times. Burnout is a serious problem for parents everywhere.  Here are my top tips to fight back against burnout:

Take a walk or do a daily workout (preferably without your kids)– If you have the option to take a morning or evening walk/jog without your children present, this is a great peaceful activity to clear your mind and get some fresh air. In the past whenever I’ve done this I’ve always come back feeling much better. If you can’t get out by yourself, taking a walk with your children is still much better than staying indoors all the time. Sometimes our thoughts feel heavier when they’re trapped inside the walls of our homes, and getting outdoors can shift our perspectives. 

Working out indoors is also a useful way to boost your mood with endorphins. I recently started doing 2-3 short workouts a day using the Peloton app. I do a dance routine in the mornings when Maxwell is napping. My toddlers love the music and try to copy the dance routine so it’s a fun activity for everyone. Sometimes in the evenings we do one of Peloton’s 5 minute family cardio videos to get our blood moving, and after Maxwell has gone to bed my husband takes our toddlers downstairs to play and I do a cycling workout right before I start their bedtime routine. Scheduling that time for myself every day is a method of self-care that actually leaves me feeling recharged. There are a lot of great fitness apps to use for indoor workouts, or you can keep it simple with workouts like push ups, sit ups, pullups, squats, planks, and jump roping that are all very effective. 

Talk or video chat every day– One of the hardest parts of quarantine life for many of us is not being able to see family and friends like we used to. But reaching out for some light hearted conversation with other adults who are not a part of your household is a useful tool to avoid mom burnout. And checking on loved ones can be calming and reassuring. Make time to call or text friends or family every day.  I’m usually not a big fan of video chatting, but it’s been vital in staying connected to my mom and sister. I love the Facebook portal, my kids enjoy using all of the funny filters while they video chat with their Nana. 

Watch things that help you escape– There are so many great shows and movies on Netflix and other streaming platforms. Watching something that helps you escape from your own life for a little bit is a useful indulgence when things feel monotonous or you need a pick me up. I usually love action movies and dramas, but comedies and romance have been especially entertaining to me lately. Don’t feel bad for indulging in more screen time when you need it. 

Practice self care– In addition to restarting my fitness journey, I also started a new skincare routine recently. These small acts of self-care remind me that I need to make myself a priority in my household too. And my kids and I get dressed (almost) every day. I used to let them hang out in their pajamas all day pretty often, but now that the days are all running together I feel like getting dressed gives us a little more structure to start the day. Whatever makes you feel calmer, more productive, or more confident should be a part of your daily routine. 

Stick to a schedule– Sticking to a clear weekday schedule is one of the most useful tools that I have to combat burnout. Structure makes me feel like our ship is still sailing somewhat smoothly. I still use The Busy Toddler’s Playing Preschool lesson plans on weekdays. Thankfully my boys are still young enough to have a dedicated nap time so I use that time to take a break when I can. And we stick to a bedtime for all three kids. 

Those are my top tips to combat mom burnout. If you have any tips please share them in the comments!


Xo,

Courtney


My Must Have Clothing Items for Boys

My Must Have Clothing Items for Boys

As a mom of 3 boys, I jokingly refer to myself as a VIP member of the boy mom club. One thing I’ve noticed (and have mentioned here before) is that boy moms have far less options when it comes to finding cute clothing for our sons. Over the past few years I’ve gotten a lot of items from a handful of brands that I think consistently make cute options for boys (you can read more about them in my blog post here) but there are some items that have really stood out to me. These are the things that I find myself rebuying in new sizes and colors every year because they’re such a staple in my children’s wardrobes. If you don’t have boys, some of these items also make great gifts. Here are my faves, click the title of each item to shop:

Gap’s Icon Denim Jacket

It doesn’t get much more classic than a denim jacket. I love The Gap for baby and children’s clothing because the quality is excellent and they always make cute items for boys. Every time Mason outgrows his Icon jacket I get a new one and pass down the old one to Myles. They’re all in such great shape I’ll be passing them down to Maxwell as well. This jacket is definitely a staple from spring through the fall. You can add it to a pair of sweatpants and a tshirt for a more put together casual look, or put it on top of a button down shirt and a pair of pants. 

Gap’s Fleece Cargo Pants

These are my favorite casual pants for the boys. They’re super soft, have held up well through lots of washing, and have the ease of a sweatpant with a slightly elevated cool factor. I have these in 3 colors for both of my toddlers. They frequently sell out, but there are a few sizes left right now and they’re on sale. 

Oshkosh Overalls– 

Overalls from Oshkosh B’gosh are classic, cute and nostalgic. They make me think of my own childhood. Even though its a relatively simple item, my boys get a lot of compliments when wearing them. The quality is also high enough to pass down. 

Gap Slim Cords in Camel

These camel corduroys are a staple in the fall and winter. They work with a wide variety of tops and the slim design is a more modern spin on a classic corduroy.

Gap Chambray Slip On Sneakers

This is another item that I try to buy every time Mason outgrows them, but they’re so popular that they sell out very quickly in the Spring and Summer. It’s definitely best to grab these early if you can. This simple Chambray sneaker looks good with just about everything, and is so easy to slip on and off. 

Ralph Lauren Polos

There is something about a polo that looks so preppy, polished and adorable on little boys. I love the quality of these, and if you shop Ralph Lauren’s end of season sales you can get them at a steep discount (often less than $10). 

Gap Baby Brannan Sweaters

Gap makes these adorable sweaters with animal ears in neutral colors and cute prints for both boys and girls. Every sweater that I have purchased has held up well over time, so they’re another great item for gifting and for passing down to siblings. 

Zara Puffer Coats

Zara is one of my favorite places to purchase outerwear for the boys. Their winter coats are warm and stylish. They also tend to run a little big so your child has room to grow. 

Carters Sleep N Plays

My boys have spent practically every day in these popular one pieces from birth to nine months. They’re affordable and come in a variety of really cute prints for boys. Carters even makes a two way zipper version now that makes diaper changes easier. 

Those are the items that have been on repeat the most in my boys’ wardrobes, and that I continuously buy because they’re so useful. If you have any boys items that you love, or stores that you recommend, let me know in the comments!

Xo,

Courtney 

 

My Favorite Things: Home Edition

My Favorite Things: Home Edition

I realized that home decor is one subject that I haven’t really talked about much on this blog, but I’ve always been a fan of interior design. My style is a bit minimalist, a lot bohemian, and a bit farmhouse inspired (I’ve seen way too many episodes of Fixer Upper). My home is still a work in progress, but there are definitely some pieces I’ve collected over the years that I love, and thought it would be fun to highlight them here rather than do a traditional home tour. It’s funny how certain objects can take on meaning in our lives. I’d love to hear about your decor style and favorite things in the comments.

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Dining Room Sign

I have a farmhouse style dining table and this sign from Smallwoods hangs behind it. I love the sentiment behind this sign. This quote by Walt Whitman (that is actually  paraphrased from one of his poems) reminds me to appreciate my time with my family. Looking back we’ll remember the time spent with people we love rather than the small grievances and annoyances. Smallwoods makes a variety of cute signs and even lets you customize framed photos and quotes. 

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Photo Wall

I know that some people love to hang family photographs but I always preferred to keep my walls looking pretty minimal. I usually also prefer artwork to personal photographs. But that made things look a bit impersonal, so I compromised with this Mixtiles photo wall. I love the cohesive, clean lines. Mixtiles is incredibly easy to use: just download the app, upload photos from your phone, and choose the style of frame that you would like. When they arrive you can just stick them straight onto your wall- no nails and hammer required, and you can rearrange or add to your wall anytime.

My Boys’ Nursery

My boys’ room has always been one of my favorite rooms. I love the soft, soothing colors. You definitely do not have to use dark colors for a boys room (although I’ve seen many beautiful rooms that do). I chose to decorate in shades of mint and light blue with white accents. There is also an animal theme going on. Their wall tapestry is from Society6. I’m getting ready to transfer Mason to a “big boy” room and I’m currently researching ideas. 

 

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My Hat Wall

As you can probably already tell from my Instagram feed, I love hats. I also love head wraps and pretty much hair accessories of any kind. After seeing so many hat walls on social media, I decided to display my own this way. I have more than what’s pictured here, and some have come from places like H&M, Banana Republic, and Nordstrom, but my favorite hat style is available on Amazon for less than $20! I have it in multiple colors.

 

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My Children of War Art Print

I used to live in Old Town Alexandria, and one of my favorite day dates in my neighborhood was browsing the art at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. I fell in love with a painting from Michael Fischerkeller’s Children of War series. Unfortunately the original wasn’t for sale at the time, but I was able to score this signed print. I really appreciate that you can get to know the artists at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. 

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The Boys’ Play Kitchen

Three boys means that I have a ton of toys everywhere. But this Kidkraft Farm to Table Play Kitchen that we purchased this past Christmas is one of my favorites, despite the fact that it took half the night to put it together. My boys love to play with everything in sight in the real kitchen, so I wanted to get them their own to hopefully keep them out of mine (so far this has been unsuccessful). I love that this particular set looks gender neutral and the colors complement my real furniture. It’s available on Amazon.

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My Grandad’s Swords

My grandad passed away after battling pancreatic cancer in 2017, and he and I were very close. I grew up visiting my grandparents every Sunday, and my grandad was present for every major life event that I experienced before his passing. During his life he traveled to many different countries thanks to a long career in the Air Force. He picked these swords up in South Korea. I keep them on top of my fireplace in remembrance of him. 

Those are some of my favorite items in my home. What items have special meaning for you in your home? What’s your favorite home decor style?

 

Xo,

Courtney

Life with 3 Under 3

Life with 3 Under 3

My oldest son Mason just celebrated his third birthday on New Years Day so I can’t say I have three under three anymore. But the past three months have been interesting to say the least. I haven’t really talked much about the experience, so I wanted to start off the new year with a quick review of my experience so far and some of the challenges I had to overcome, because while there were plenty of special moments, it definitely wasn’t easy.

As you may know if you’ve read some of my previous posts, I didn’t have too difficult of a time transitioning from one kid to two because my middle child Myles was so incredibly easy going. But our new addition Maxwell was not so easy going in the beginning. About 2 weeks in, he developed what the pediatrician called “a touch of colic” which basically meant he would scream and cry all day and night if he wasn’t held, but he was usually perfectly content as long as he was in someone’s arms. If you’ve never dealt with colic, trust me it can be pretty stressful. And with two other toddlers to take care of, unfortunately holding Maxwell all day long was just not an option.

I got around this by “baby wearing” as much as I could. I used this inexpensive carrier (available on Amazon). It allowed me to keep my daily schedule with the other boys mostly the same. I also gave Maxwell Gerber Soothe probiotic drops at the advice of my pediatrician, and I do think they helped a little. From there we just waited it out. 

Another huge challenge was sleep deprivation. Maxwell was up every 2 hours until very recently and it was hard to transition back into those sleepless nights again so soon. I divided up night shifts with my husband but we knew we would mostly just have to hang in there until he started sleeping longer stretches.

Breastfeeding and pumping around my toddlers was also challenging because they demanded so much of my attention during those times. Maxwell’s weight dropped a little after his birth and our pediatrician recommended that I supplement with formula until it rebounded. After that I made the decision to continue breastfeeding and supplementing (something I also did with Myles) so that I could give Maxwell the benefits of breastfeeding while also being able to make a quick bottle of formula if I couldn’t nurse him or pump around my toddlers during the day. I plan to continue doing this for the next few months at least.

But despite those challenges some things went really well. Mason and Myles handled the transition to being a family of five well. I can tell that Myles (who was 17 months at the time of Maxwell’s birth) has felt a little jealous at times, but because he’s so easygoing it hasn’t been much of an issue and I’ve tried to prioritize giving him individual attention. Mason was really excited and has been very sweet towards his little brother. Dealing with colic was new for me, but Maxwell’s general care was still easier this time around because I have experience. I also felt like he became a part of the fabric of our family very quickly.

Now that Maxwell is 3 months old the clouds have lifted and we’re not really dealing with colic anymore. Instead we get to see his super sweet personality forming, and I’m beginning to develop routines that align with Mason and Myles’ schedules. He’s even starting to have a more consistent bedtime, which means more “me time” and alone time with my hubby. And there are moments when I’m holding Maxwell and my other boys are snuggled up against me and I feel so blessed. 

But during peak exhaustion I had considered getting a mother’s helper and strongly recommend that route if its a possibility for you and you need an extra pair of hands. But I waited so long to consider that option that now things are finally getting easier and I’m not sure if I want to use a mother’s helper. But I will keep you posted on what that’s like if I do.

I’m sure there are a lot of things I could discuss in more detail, but that’s a brief overview of my my life with three under three. I’m excited to see how the next year unfolds.

Xo,
Courtney

How to Survive the Fourth Trimester

How to Survive the Fourth Trimester

I’m currently six weeks into my fourth trimester- the magical three month period after having a new baby when you’re recovering from childbirth and caring for a new human that’s still on womb central time. This is baby #3 but I’m still finding the fourth trimester to be a challenge at times. This time around I have the benefit of experience with juggling more than one baby, but still suffer from sleep deprivation and hormonal changes (among other things)  just like any new mom. I feel so blessed to have my three boys, but going through the postpartum period three years in a row hasn’t been an easy task and I’ve learned a lot (and I’m still learning) as a result. Here are my top tips for surviving the fourth trimester:

Manage Your Expectations– Having a new baby can be a wonderful experience at times, and at other times you might feel caught off guard by how challenging things like sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, or caring for a fussy baby can be. It’s important to know that these experiences are normal and temporary, and seek support if you’re struggling with anything. Lean on family and friends for advice when you need it.

If your hospital or another resource in your community offers a new mom support group consider joining.  Read books about the postpartum period. Join POSITIVE and ENCOURAGING mom groups online. I personally love reading updates from Lucie’s List and I read and post to a few mom groups on Facebook. You can never have too much support during this period. Hearing from others about what’s normal helps you manage your expectations when things feel tough.

Many times hormonal changes and sleep deprivation are the main culprits when new moms feel irritable or “off” but if you feel like things are more serious than that and you may be suffering from postpartum depression then don’t be afraid to seek help. Many women experience that too and your pediatrician or OB can get you started with resources that will help.

Prioritize Your Needs– People tend to prioritize the baby’s needs (this starts from day 1 in the hospital) but your needs are important too. The saying that you can’t pour from an empty cup definitely applies here. Ask for as much help as you want. Say no to any activities or visitors that feel draining.

Even simple activities like taking a shower and drinking a cup of coffee can be important rituals for a new mom. Invest in a bouncer or swing if you can so that you can put that cute baby down and take care of yourself when you’re on your own. The baby will be okay while you take a quick shower.

Also don’t neglect your nutrition, especially if you’re nursing. A healthy, balanced diet and lots of water are necessary to replenish your body after childbirth. You have to be the one in charge of your self-care.

Get As Much Sleep As You Can– Unless you’re blessed with a baby who’s a great sleeper from the start (it happens, I got that lucky with baby #2) this one is usually easier said than done. But getting more sleep usually starts with getting help at night if you can. Make your partner take a shift at night if possible. Even if you’re not going into work like your partner, you still have the important job of caring for a baby during the day.

They say sleep when the baby sleeps during the day, but it can be tough to choose between napping, getting work done, and just enjoying some time to yourself. And if you have more than one child then this is especially difficult. But if sleeping is an option, take it. Cleaning, cooking, your Instagram feed etc all can wait.

Get Out of the House– Sometimes when things feel tough or you’re just exhausted, you need a change of scenery. Taking the baby for a walk so that you can get some fresh air can lift your mood. Try to schedule a few fun activities out of the house with your partner or friends as well, but don’t overwhelm yourself.

The fourth trimester might feel never ending during the challenging moments, but before you know it your baby will have outgrown the newborn stage. There’s nothing like those sweet newborn snuggles, so remember to pause and soak in the sweetness whenever you can. Those are my top tips for surviving the fourth trimester. I’d love to hear your thoughts/advice in the comments!

Xo,

Courtney

Welcome to the World Maxwell

Welcome to the World Maxwell

On Friday I welcomed my third little M into the world. Maxwell (aka Max) made his debut at 37 weeks. I thought this might be a good time to post a quick update on how we’re doing so far and share his birth story. Although things didn’t go exactly as planned, I had a safe delivery and I’m so grateful he’s here and healthy.

I started having very mild contractions on Thursday afternoon. I thought they were Braxton Hicks contractions and that I needed to hydrate and take a walk as my doctor had previously advised. I took my boys for a walk and they went away, but my intuition told me to start prepping for the hospital just in case that evening. Around 1 or 2 am they came back and were strong enough to wake me up, and by 4am they were intense but irregular. I knew to call my doctor once the contractions were 3 minutes apart so I timed them on my phone and gave him (and my mom) a call around 5 am. He told me to head to the hospital.

By the time I got there my contractions were very intense but still a few minutes apart and I figured I was close but still had a little while to go. Apparently it was a very busy birthing weekend at the hospital so I sat in triage for a while. When the on-staff doctor finally came in to check me she was shocked, I was already fully dilated and ready to go. She told me to avoid pushing no matter what and they scrambled to get me into a delivery room in time and get ahold of my actual doctor. Thankfully he made it in time, but coming in fully dilated meant that I didn’t have time for an epidural. I was pretty scared beforehand, I’ve never had a natural birth and wasn’t prepared for one this time. Pushing without an epidural was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but thankfully it was all over in about 8 minutes!

Since it was my third delivery I was discharged from the hospital the next day. We’re settling in and doing great, although I have to admit the first couple of nights have been tough. My second child was a great sleeper from the start, but so far Max is more like his oldest brother. Hopefully we get through this stage and into a routine quickly. Thankfully I have a lot of help right now- my husband, Mom, and sister are keeping my head on straight this week and my mother in law will be here on Sunday.

Maxwell is so sweet and adorable, I’m soaking up all the cuddle time I can get. And his brothers are showing a lot of interest in him. They keep rubbing his head and Mason has even been giving him a few kisses. I can’t wait to see the three of them playing together eventually.

I’ll be posting more updates on my experience with three under three here. Thanks to everyone who sent us well wishes!

Xo,

Courtney

 

Style Inspo with Pink Blush + My Top Fall Fashion Tips

Style Inspo with Pink Blush + My Top Fall Fashion Tips

*The top mentioned below was gifted by Pink Blush, but all opinions are my own. 

Fall is without a doubt my favorite fashion season, and now that the season has officially started, I’m already starting to wear some of my favorite pieces. Feeling stylish while 36 weeks pregnant isn’t easy, but thankfully Pink Blush’s line of maternity clothes are comfortable and always on-trend. They’re really at the top of their class when it comes to making clothing that women actually want to wear to look and feel good during pregnancy. 

One of my favorite pieces currently is the Striped V-neck Tie Front Maternity Top pictured above (and fyi, it comes in a non-maternity version that you can find here). It’s incredibly soft, accommodates my rapidly expanding bump perfectly, and works with a variety of looks. It also comes in black with white stripes. Here I styled it with denim, over the knee boots, and one of my signature hats for a casual yet on-trend look that’s perfect for grabbing a meal with friends. 

You can easily style a date night look with this top by pairing it with black denim, heels or booties, and a moto jacket. Or turn it into a comfy casual look perfect for running errands or heading to the park by adding a pair of black joggers or leggings, tennis shoes, and a denim jacket. The possibilities are pretty endless, making this top a wardrobe staple. You can check out more cute and versatile tops from Pink Blush here

I’m excited to continue wearing this piece and some of my other favorites throughout the season. Here are my top 5 tips for transitioning into a fall wardrobe:

  • Accessories are everything. This is the time to break out boots, hats, scarves, and jewelry. Simply adding on accessories really ramps up the style factor on any outfit. 
  • Don’t be afraid to mix neutrals. Black, brown, beige, grey, and navy can all look amazing together. 
  • Adopt a signature print. Leopard and plaid are popular choices for fall and look amazing, but so do stripes, florals etc. A signature print lets you mix and match simpler wardrobe staples without having to think too hard. 
  • A pop of color is always refreshing. There are so many ways to incorporate a pop of color- lipstick, your nail polish, a bag, or your shoes are all easy ways to go bold when you’re wearing fall neutrals. 
  •  Make a statement with your outerwear. Once the temps cool down and you have to wear a jacket, you might as well make it one that immediately displays your chic sense of style. Moto jackets, trench coats, wrap coats, and teddy bear coats are some of my favorites. 

What are your favorite fall clothing items? If you have any additional tips for transitioning into a fall wardrobe please share. 

 

Xo,

Courtney