Lessons Learned after Having a Caregiver

We’ve had Nana with us since the boys were six weeks old and she’s played such a huge part in raising M & B.  In the last five or so years, we’ve been blessed (cliché I know, but it’s true) to have her as part of our family.  What started off as part time, quickly became full time caregiving.  Nana’s a talented and loving woman who not only took care of the boys, but took care of hubby and I too.

Here is what I’ve learned over the years:

She’s Taken Care of Me – if someone’s going to see you at your most vulnerable (other than your partner/husband), it’s your nanny.  As mentioned previously, Nana started with us early into my maternity leave so we were together all the time.  I nursed and pumped and I used to be conservative and pumped privately or had a towel cover on.  But I remember I was on the brink of filling up a bottle pumping and didn’t have another on hand.  The boys were by my side and she came in with a bottle, took my milk and was gone.  I also remember days where the boys were napping in the car and we’d be driving around getting errands done and we’d be chatting about life, her family and motherhood.

I Am Their Mother – were there times where the boys preferred to be with Nana over me?  Yes.  Were there times where I was hurt by this?  Hell … Yes!  But, when they’re with Nana all day .. every day, it was inevitable.  It didn’t bother me too much because my boys are quite affectionate and vocal about their love for their mama.  But those days when I came home from a bad day at work and all I wanted to do was make it all go away by cuddling up with my boys and they didn’t reciprocate.  I may or may not have cried in the bathroom on one or two occasions. But on the serious tip, I will always be their mother  and that doesn’t change anything.

You Won’t Always See Eye to Eye – and that’s okay.  I came into motherhood with zero experience.  Nana’s had years of experience, years of patience and she brought that added touch to the family.  Also, I’ve come to realize that my mothering style is different, especially when it comes to discipline.  I would say that my hubby and Nana were similar in forms of disciplining, meanwhile I go from zero to one hundred and once you’ve crossed the line, there is no turning back.  A less intense approach is probably the way to go, but intense works with me.

Having someone care for your kids and live in your house is not for everyone.  When we found out we were having twins, we knew that we’d be getting a nanny but we just didn’t know what that would look like or what it meant.  Nana came into our world because the stars aligned and when they say it takes a village to raise children, she was the village.

Nana

 

 

Stay at Home Mom, Working Mom, Mom-to-Be … Just Support One Another

I didn’t have the courage to post this on my Instagram Page and I almost deleted it completely.  However, I feel safe putting it here, I don’t get a lot of visitors to my blog and maybe it will resonate with a reader.

So here it goes …

In 2015, I made the decision to stay home with my twin boys. questions like “are you sure that’s the right thing to do?” or comments like, “that’s not really putting your degree to use”

In 2017, I made the decision to re-enter the workforce full time … questions like “are you sure that’s what you want to go back into?” or comments like “oh wow, the kids are still young and the first 4 to 5 years are so important”

Last week, I resigned for an opportunity outside the industry where I spent 10+ years of my career in and questions like, “are you sure that’s the right move?” or comments like “your kids are so young to make a move” came up.

Just wow … there were so many well wishes in all three scenarios above, but all I remembered and harped on were the comments that were not so positive and what blows my mind … the comments were from women WITH kids.

Today (2019) stats show that there is still a wage gap between men and women (a bigger gap for women of colour) … stay at home moms are not given the recognition for managing a household and working moms are still going home and taking on the larger share of household duties.

We all have reasons for the paths we choose with or without kids, and everyone questions themselves, they write a pros and cons list and they lean on others for advice.  No decision is made overnight, but whatever path a woman chooses, we should be supportive of it.

So the next time you come across a post or hear news of a woman’s doubt, success or struggle … lift them up … don’t pull them down.

cafe

Travel Tips with Kids

Travelling with kids … you either love it or hate it. It’s a lot of work and it probably doesn’t help that I’m a planner and I feel the need to do right research to get the best bang for my buck. So I blame some of that on me.  I dislike the time spent on finding flights at a reasonable price, accommodations at a reasonable price, packing, car rentals, car seats, strollers and the list goes on. But at the end of the day, the vacation is sooooooo worth all the time invested.

So with that, I’m sharing with you my top five tips when it comes to travelling with kids.  Am I an expert?  Nahhhhh, but we’ve taken the boys on thirteen trips (air and road) and with each trip, it got easier because you learn and then incorporate what worked well to the next trip.

Direct Flights

With the boys, we’ve never flown with a connecting flight and we’ve never passed the five hour mark for a destination on purpose.  So, if there is a flight that offers direct only, we’re booking it.  Why?  From my experience pre kids, connecting flights have stressed me out, have had delays and I just don’t like getting up out of my seat and hauling my stuff to board on to another plane.  I can’t even imagine having to do it with kids.  One day I probably will, but right now, I’m booking direct.

Pic Below – Air Canada: direct flight to San Francisco (Brandon was just under 2 so he flew free)

Dre

Accommodations

Book accommodations where you want to hang.  We love the west coast (Cali) with kids in tow.  And as you know, getting the day started, packing up and loading the car just to get out takes time.  And on top of that, if you’re heading to the beach, you’re going to have to drive, park, unload and get settled.  Booking an airbnb, within a block or two from the beach, saves time, arguments and less items to carry.

BONUS: if you want to just hang out at the beach to watch the sunset after a day out and about, it’s amazing to just park the car walk to the beach and hang.

NOTE: booking anywhere near a beach is pricier.  But this is important to us and to avoid paying a lot of money, plan ahead, call ahead or try to negotiate. I always throw in the  “so do you offer a twin discount?”.  And sometimes, it works!  So, it’s worth the time to plan.

Pic Below – Air BnB booked two blocks from Ocean Beach in San Francisco

airbnb

Plan but Don’t Over Plan

Make plans but don’t get bummed out if they don’t work out entirely.  I’m a planner and I invest a lot of time researching.  So when you invest time, you want to make sure it pays off.  Now throwing kids in the mix, plans go out the window.  Okay not entirely, but make loose plans with A LOT of room for delays, naps and mood swings. One trip that comes to mind, we were enroute from San Diego to LA and my little one had to use the bathroom.  We were already running late and I wanted to get to LA.  Made a pit stop at a coffee shop in Encinitas and of course, while in the shop the rest of the gang said that they were hungry.  So we grabbed our food to go and hubby decided to drive around the neighbourhood to check it out.  We ended up finding a beach where locals hung out and pulled up, parked in a residential area and made our way down.  We spent 2.5 hours there and didn’t want to leave.  Why didn’t we want to leave?  It wasn’t busy, everyone was so cool and we had no expectations which made the experience a heck of a lot more memorable.

Pic Below – Encinitas, California (best planned but unplanned experience)

TWins

Packing

Toys, Books and Dolls– pack favourites and familiar items from home to make the trips and adjusting to accommodations a little bit easier.  I’ve found that my boys love having a piece of home with them.  They don’t bring the whole gang of dolls but they’re involved in the packing process.

Snacks – fav snacks too should be packed.  And if I could bring my whole pantry of snacks, I would and I may have once or twice.  Saves money, easy to take along  and can be packed in your luggage.  PS – we always pack oatmeal – crack open the pack in a thermos, add some hot water and voila!!!!

Containers and Thermoses – we bring all of that!  It’s familiar to them as they know how to open and close it and keeps us organized and avoids spills.  Thermoses are amazing because you can feed them a hearty meal!

Pic Below – Baby and Baby Baby had to come along

Bags

So that’s it.  Thanks for coming by and reading ’til the end.  This blog post just gave me the kick start that I needed for our upcoming trip in May.

If you have any other tips, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Happy travels!

XOXO

Sunshine Lily

 

 

Women’s International Day and sharing the celebration of Women with my boys

March 8th is Women’s International Day and while I’m not raising the next generation of empowered women, I play an important role in raising the next generation of men supporting empowered women.

My boys are 4.5 years old and so their attention span is minimal. I’ll be honest, I don’t go all out and put together a list of things to do with them.  But leading up to March and specifically leading up to March 8th, I bring out items such as books and puzzles that recognizes the accomplishments of women.

All week I’ve shared with the boys and my husband, the various work events and how great it was seeing men in attendance.   My husband took a picture of what they did at his work recognizing the female employees at all levels within the company.

So Happy International Women’s Day!  Whether you are celebrating big or small, I hope that you are surrounded by loved ones who embrace this special day, because I know I’ll be.

Link to puzzles and books that I’ve shared with the boys.

Book: Pink is for Boys

Puzzle: Little Feminist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Shop Love for the Holla Days!

And just like that, it’s December!  Naughty or nice list, To-Do list, checking it twice list or I got no list to work with, I want to make things a little bit easier for you by sharing some of my favourite small shops and the reasons why I have mad love for them.

Buying for my boys is not always easy.  There are a lot of factors that I take into consideration when I buy for them.  There are lots of options for boys fashion, accessories and toys but not a lot of options of representation.

So, below are a few small businesses that I admire and had stumbled upon.  Short and simple list of three, but with meaning behind it.

NOTE: the shops below are for everyone (not just people who look like myself or my boys).

BIRDS LOVE BEES

Handmade one of a kind dolls, quilts and taggie blankets

Brandon

When I was pregnant, I was constantly looking for boy dolls that would represent my them.  Many small shops made dolls mostly for girls and even when I told them I would pay for a boy doll, they just didn’t have an appetite for it.  I met Kathryn two years ago at the One of a Kind Show in Toronto and when I walked by her booth she had rows of beautiful handmade dolls in ALL shades of colours that literally made me stop in my tracks.  Without hesitation, I bought the boys their dolls and to this day, they love their “baby” and “baby baby”.

The dolls are a perfect gift for anyone, not just a child.  Since then, we’ve added Coco the Monkey, Skoy Yoy the Dog and most recently, two custom made Brown Santas, which the boys have named “Santa Baby” and “Santa Baby Baby”.

mimiTENS

Started off making mittens, has now expanded to children’s accessories.  She also launched another business called Some of the Parts.

Maxwell

When my boys were itty bitty, I was on the hunt for a good pair of mittens that would stay on and would keep the boys warm.  I did my online research which led me to mimitens.  I love their awesome designs and high quality mittens. The boys won’t wear anything else.  Somehow Anne Maria (owner) and I connected and every encounter with her, she just oozes energy, integrity and a passion for her designs.

SIDE NOTE: she also has a store in Toronto called Some of the Parts.  She carries her line of adult bags that she designed and it fits securely on wheelchairs (this she discovered after the fact). That made my heart swoon!

So really, Mimitens and Some of the Parts can be a gift for anyone on your list!  Cheers to that!

MODERN RASCALS

Clothes and Toys that kids will love. Bright Colours, Bright Patterns and Ethical Production

Boys

I can’t believe that I only met Jana in person a couple of weekends ago!  I’m blaming it on #momlife.  Jana reached out to me in early 2017 and felt that the brands her online store carried would be great for my boys.  I played it safe when it came to dressing them … in greys, black, blues and white and she got that.  Then as I started engaging with Modern Rascals and understanding her brand of bright colours and patterns, and seeing the beauty of bright colours in her feed, I switched cold turkey to all the colours in the rainbow.  I love the quality of the designers that she selects and no joke, the boys get stopped on the regular by strangers complimenting them on their style.

Jana’s feed and carried brands are a true representation of our society.  From Pride socks to sourcing a company that makes handmade wooden toys that resemble all children, she really gets her customers.

A gift for that special kid(s) in your life, you’ve got a rainbow selection of goods to choose from. She also carries adult sizes with some brands, so that you can matchy match with your little one(s).

Hoping you got your bit of learning from my write up and I encourage that the next time you shop, take into consideration that we’re not a once size fits all society and that we all can gain from representation.

I know that there are so many other shops that I have yet to discover, so if you know of any, share please by leaving a comment below.

Sunshine Lily aka @shinelily

Links to Shop:

birds love bees

mimiTENS

modern rascals