The wheels on the bus go round and round. A song that as a parent of young children, I know well – and listen to way too often, ha!
Lately though, I am happy for that song.
This is my third week back at work after being a stay at home mom for 2.5 years, and it’s been a harder transition than I imagined. Much harder than I thought. I miss the kids so much more than I ever imagined and I often find myself questioning if this was the right choice. Was this the right time? Is this what I want? There are things happening in the background that I am hesitant to share, in case I jinx it, but hoping for a better balance soon *sending the universe all the positive energy*.
The weekends have become my fuel for the week. I cherish every second I have with the kids in the week day mornings and evenings, but the weekends are my heaven. I immerse myself back into what once was our everydays, and we pick up right where we left of. I lay in bed with them a little longer, I look at my phone less, I listen to the new things they tell me, the new words Penelope learns, the new sounds Oliver is able to make, and I make sure that I try reeeeaally really hard not to miss a thing.
The kids are doing well. They are happy to visit with Grandma everyday (thank goodness for my mom being able to watch them- makes the transition a million times easier). They are also making new friends, and I hear Penelope talk about her favorite when she comes home, which makes me smile.
For my first weekend after going back to work, we decided to spend a day out, differently. We bundled up, left our car keys at home, and explored the city for a whole day on the bus. Sounds like a very simple thing to do, but it was so much fun.
Whether you take the bus often or not, there is something about taking the bus when there is no pressure of making it from point A to B on time that makes the ride so enjoyable. My husband and I could cuddle and hold hands while we heard the children’s laughter, watched how they made other people on the bus smile, and witnessed the joy on their faces for simply doing something new.
My favorite moments of the day were the transitions. The moments of dancing and entertaining the kids while we waited for our next transfer. The walks from the bus stop to our many destinations that day. The moment Oliver fell asleep nursing, and the moment Penelope slept on my lap on the way back home.
It’s beautifully ironic that it was the transitions – of all things- what I loved most about that day, yet I can’t wait to pass the life transition I am in right now. I have to find beauty in that irony.
And so I go back to the song, the wheels on the bus go round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round, and they do. But I like to think I have found an underlying message of perseverance in that song. In a metaphorical sense, with my return to work, the wheels of my life are going round and round, and I’m going to be making stops along the way, making transfers, trying to find the best way to go through this transition in my life, and I will persevere because well… the wheels go round and round, and so will I.
Edmonton is a great city. A perfect mixture of urban and country, and the river valley is hard to beat! Depending on whether you’re a city or a country person, Edmonton really has the best of both worlds.
Then I had children, got to know the city so much more, and now I REALLY love Edmonton as a city.
Whether it’s to find resources to make the early postpartum days easier, or finding things to do with the kids (that doesn’t require breaking the bank), Edmonton has so much to offer to parents of young children, and it really is such a great city to raise your kids in.
With a limited “going out budget” while on maternity leave, or on a single income as a stay-at-home parent, there is so much you can do with kids in Edmonton, and it’s affordable and available to all families.
As I reminisce on my years at home with the kids, all I am left with is feeling grateful for the wonderful time I spent with them, and for being able to raise them in such a great city.
And so below I share my list on how I had the best Stay-at-home Motherhood / Maternity Leave Days in Edmonton (but a lot could apply to your city too!)
Set your intention to have the MOST AWESOME stay-at-home parenthood/ maternity leave. I’ve said this before in my “Two under Two” post, and I really believe it. Attitude is everything. Whether you’re at home with your child(ren) for a year, two, three…etc, set your intention to have the fullest, most fun, and awesome days, and you WILL!
Join a Mommy Group. When Penelope was 6 months old, I joined a mommy group through Mommy Connections, a program that does exactly that: connect moms with other moms and programs in your community. I met a wonderful group of mamas, and I still see them today… 2+ years later! Having a mommy community is so wonderful for support, play dates, or for text messaging back and forth on the hard mama days. Definitely a must for a happier maternity leave or stay-at-home motherhood.
Go to Mommy & Baby Yoga Classes. I was so happy to have found this Mommy and Baby Yoga Class run by Hapie Yoga & Fitness and did the program with both my kids. It was such a great way to make some time to relax, to work on strengthening my core and pelvic strength after baby (which is something we don’t make enough time for, but should!), and an awesome way to meet new mama and babies. I love that this was part of our postpartum experience and definitely recommend it! New sessions starting January 16th!
Go to La Leche League Meetings. I started going to La Leche League meetings after my second was born, and as a breastfeeding mother (twice), these meetings were invaluable when it came to education, community and support with my breastfeeding journey. For more information on when and where their next meeting is in the city, visit their wesbite https://www.lllc.ca/find-group-alberta
Follow Box Social Events.One of the best things I learnt about while on maternity leave, especially with an energetic toddler and a baby, is Box Social Events. They organize kid friendly events all over the city, their events are ah-mazing, and most of them at no cost to the public! The kids and I have enjoyed so many great ones this summer and it’s definitely a huge part to why my stay-at-home mom days were so awesome.
Visit the outdoor playgrounds around the city. It’s very easy to get in the habit of visiting the same outdoor playground often, and so I gave myself a challenge to try and visit as many outdoor playgrounds in the city with the kids. And there are some great ones! Fun and budget friendly, plus outdoor time for the kids; all around win! A list of great outdoor play grounds by Just Another Edmonton Mommy here.
Visit the Edmonton Riverboat. Perhaps I’m biased because we got married there, but the Edmonton Riverboat experience is truly beautiful. A gorgeous view of downtown Edmonton and the River Valley, and the newly renovated boat is gorgeous!
Visit the Edmonton Public Library often. We love the Edmonton Public Library and have attended so many of their Baby and Toddler activities, and the kids love it! EPL provides a “Welcome Baby” package when you get your baby his or her first library card. You receive a bag, a book, and helpful information about the programs that the library offers children and parents, perfect for new mamas! And for any bilingual mamas like me, EPL is a great resource. More info on early literacy for bilingual babies here.
Visit the Edmonton High Level Bridge Streetcar. I’ve lived in Edmonton for 10 years, and only visited the Street Car after having kids because it seemed like it would be something fun to do- and it was! Round trip fare is $6 per adult, and children under 5 ride for FREE! A great way to explore your city, learn about it’s history, and the kids loved it. Check out their website for more info.
Learn through play at home. We have loved following Live it All In for inspiration on activities you can do at home with the kids using materials you already have, or that are easy to get. The kids not only have fun, they learn in the process too. One of our favorites ones for letter matching here .
Go to the Pub…with your kids. Because sometimes, it’s nice not to have to go to a “kid friendly restaurant” every time you want to have a family dinner out. Edmomton has a great list of kid friendly pubs in Edmonton here , and it was actually through that post that I found her blog! We have enjoyed some lovely family lunches/dinners in some of these pubs, and, if someone judges you for drinking a beer while holding a baby, tell them it helps with milk production, ha!
Go on family bike rides. Edmonton is a great city when it comes to bike trails, and though we may not be able to bike all year round, the beauty of the trails make up for it when we are able to go on them. Edmonton has so many bike/multi use trails around city and it’s such a fun, healthy and inexpensive activity to do with the kids. A map of Edmonton bike trails here.
Spend afternoons picnicking in your backyard. I found so much beauty in having simple afternoons like this one with the kids in our backyard. As moms, we put a lot of pressure ourselves to feel like we have to have a full itinerary for our children e v e r y d a y – and we just don’t. Some of the best afternoons the kids and I have had, have been picnicking in our backyard, and having the most special times doing nothing special.
Explore your city and find the most unexpected places. One of our most memorable moments from this summer was discovering Cotton Tail Corner , a clothing optional beachnear Edmonton. We went on a hike, stumbled upon it and made an afternoon of it. Goes to show there is always something new to find in your city, you just need to go and explore!
Explore the city with Edmonton Transit Service.Exploring the city using Public transit is often. The day is more intentional, not as hurried, and it makes for a day full of adventure – like a day we had this past winter, read more here – ALSO, children under 12 years old travel for FREE!
Take pictures in front of the murals in your city. During the walks the children and I would take, we found so many cool murals, and so we made it a thing to find more. Outdoor family time, exploring your city AND Instagram worthy shots – hashtag win!
Make a nature theme mobile. Using materials you can find outside, make a nature theme mobile with the kids. How to here.
Relax, Read and find Inspiration. Pick up a copy of YEG Inspired magazine at various locations around the city, and find wonderful local inspiration and resources for parents.
Break the rules. As a stay at home parent, it’s very easy to burnout when there is so much pressure to do everything perfectly and “by the rules”. So don’t. Give yourself a break, and break the rules. Have breakfast for lunch one day. Have a pj’s and movie day with the kids. Do whatever feels right for that day, when you need it.
Follow Alberta Mamas.If you’re a parent in Alberta, you need to follow Alberta Mamas. A great resource of information for parents across the province. Whether you want camping tips, ways to encourage your kids to read , or want to know how host a clothing swap (a must for all mamas!), Alberta Mamas has you covered!
My list could go on forever, and I’ve probably missed a few things, but I end with one last one.
ENJOY. The days may be long sometimes, but the years are short. The years with my babies have really flown by, and though I feel I’ve lived every moment intentionally, I already miss the time we spent together. So, slow down. Enjoy your babies, watch them play and laugh. Give them that extra hug and cuddle, and enjoy the days together.
I am especially aware of how I perceive the way time passes ever since becoming a mom. When my little Oliver no longer fits a piece of clothing because his legs are too long. When my Penelope outgrows her shoes. Anytime they move up a diaper size – time.
Their play area, set up for a baby who just learnt how to crawl and a toddler who likes coloring, becomes an abstract portrait of my children at 2 years old and 7 months old Anytime they change and grown, so does this space.
I love their little corner. Other than their shared bedroom, this play area is the only other spot in the house that is completely theirs. An eclectic backdrop of toys, lots of handmade details, and stuffed toys that were once valentine’s day gift given to me by their father, now theirs. There is something special in that isn’t there?
We don’t spend much time in this area during the summer months, but with some rain the past week, I got a chance to watch them play in this space again.
As a parent, do you find yourself feeling nostalgia with things you never thought you would? I do, I am nostalgic often. All of their little toys have memories attached to them. Pepe, for example, was Penelope’s first doll. She loved him from the moment she saw him, in an IKEA hallway, love at first sight, ha! I have videos of her dancing with him when she was still learning to walk properly, because Penelope danced before she walked. Pepe is still her favorite doll. Pepe has a special place in her heart, and he does in mine too.
Oliver’s little corner still has a mirror at floor level, the one he could see himself in when he could only roll over. Now that he’s crawling and pulling up to stand on anything he can, that mirror will soon be gone, but I wanted to capture him playing in that area with the mirror still there one more time.
In this area, I watch how they play together. Oliver is Penelope’s little copy cat. If she’s reading a book, he wants to read too, if she’s in the little canopy, he wants to be there too. Perhaps the reason the second child usually does everything sooner, as he’s trying to keep up with the oldest. It’s a bittersweet thing, but I love that he sees Penelope as his teacher. As with any siblings, they are starting to have their moments of frustration towards each other. The time they both want the same toys, or when Penelope gets a little tired of him following her around, or when Oliver tries to walk like his sister, but he can’t. Regardless of their dynamic, it’s wonderful to watch them grow, and learn through play, with their little corner as their stage.
I pulled out my camera, and without any interventions, watched them play. Like a fly on the wall, I just watched. Their play, their interactions, their little conversations. The things I want to remember forever.
Ok, I’m pretty proud of this DIY. It’s not often that baby items can be used again once they’ve been outgrown, or just not needed any more, and baby items aren’t cheap. Soooo… when you accidentally find potential in an old baby item, and make it into something so pretty, it makes me so, damn, happy. Without further ado, a DIY plant hanger/ wall hanging made from old baby gates!
If you’ve been following my blog for a bit, you’ll know that I always look DIYs to be simple, easy and affordable. A little creativity, love put into your craft, and you can make the most beautiful things from items that you already have in your home. In this case, baby gates that we were getting ready to discard , as we had replaced them. My husband had them stacked up against the garage wall until the next garbage day, and I just couldn’t throw them away; there was potential screaming out from them. Baby gates are an item all parents have, and hopefully this DIY gives you an idea of what you could do with them once your kids have outgrown them. The side of an old crib would work just as well! #yourewelcome
What you’ll need:
Old baby gates
Wire and Wire cutters
Small indoor plants you have around the house.
Picture Hanging Set (which you can get at the dollar store)
I started by giving the gates a good wipe, as they had their years worth of love from a toddler with sticky fingers, and a dog, ha! I then measured enough wire that could go around the perimeter of one pot, added about 2 inches to that, and cut them with the wire cutter.With the baby gate leaned up against the wall, I twisted the wire around one bar where I knew I wanted a plant to hang. Once one side was secure, I place my plant adjacent the baby gate, looped the wire around the pot, and secured it to the other side. Because the pot is wider at the top than it is at the bottom, the wire loop is enough to keep it secure and from falling down.Once I had wired a loop for all my plants, I screwed two small hooks to the back of the baby gate, and secured the wire it would hang it from, just like you would for a picture frame. What I found worked best, was to hang the gate first, and then add the plants. And voila!I love how it turned out! Such an easy way to create a wall hanging to display your plants, or pictures… the potential is endless really. I hope you enjoyed this, and that it inspires one of you. Thanks for reading! xo
I hadn’t ever thought to press a dandelion flower, but the children have taught me to find beauty and potential with everything. Dandelions press beautifully – who knew? They are delicate, the yellow color preserves well, and there is something magical about them. From the moment Penelope could walk, she has loved picking dandelions flowers. I imagine Oliver will be the same. Where live, these flowers are everywhere in the spring and summer, perhaps even over looked in their abundance, but they really are quite beautiful.I didn’t grow up in Canada, so the dandelion is very much a flower that I consider native to the land. To my children, the dandelion is something they will have seen since the moment they were born, just a flower that grew in their home land. I imagine one day, when they are older, travelling the world, and come across a dandelion flower, they will remember this mobile, their mother, their father, where they came from. The dandelion flower, the inspiration for this DIY post.
As a mother raising bicultural children, I am always looking for fun and creative ways to teach them about both their cultures. My children are Canadian, and they are also Peruvian. I speak to them in Spanish so that they learn their mother’s tongue, I sing them the songs that I was sung as a child. During our walks in the beautiful Edmonton trails, Penelope picks up dandelions, fallen pine cones, tree sticks, and she learns about the flora of her country. Through exploration, my children are embracing the nature of their homeland, and learning to love their mother’s language as they practice the names for trees, flowers, rocks in English and Spanish.
As with any DIY that I do, like this and this , I look for it to be easy, simple and affordable. In this case, most of our materials are collected from nature, and the rest, most likely in your home already, or easy and inexpensive to get (ie- your local Dollar store).
We began by cutting the stems off the dandelions we collected, placed them face down between two sheets of paper in a large heavy book, and allowed them to dry. Penelope then helped me tie “talking knots”, or “quipu” into the string, a practice that is native to her Andean culture. The number and color of the knots conveyed meaning, sort of like writing. In this mobile, the number of knots in the strands reading both her and Oliver’s birthday.Once the dandelions were dry, I glued a small piece of cardboard onto the back of the flowers for easier handling, and glued them back to back onto the string. I tied pine cones at different heights and secured a little Spanish note in there as a special touch.
Once two pieces were completed, I placed them together at a perpendicular angle, and secured them with wrapped knot, leaving a little loop at the top for hanging. And voila!I love how this DIY turned out! In the process of making this mobile, with the stories I tell my children while we’re out exploring nature, they are learning about the history and the culture before them, and I give them a sense of identity, a place in the world.
Gathering materials that are abundant in the native flora of where we live, with addition of details native to my ethnic culture, my children and I create a simple, but special piece of art that brings activity, culture, and nature together. All encompassed by something all mothers, of all cultures, share – love.
As a second time mom, something I think about quite often is how to be fair when it comes to the kids. From small things like buying the e-x-a-c-t same baby book for both of them, to making sure they both have their birth shadow boxes, to offering them the same snack (now that Oliver is weaning). If I handmade a mobile for Penelope, I had to do one for Oliver too, and the list goes on.
I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s stressful being equal with the children, but I’m certainly aware of it… a lot. Though I feel I have been successful at it so far, I make peace with the fact that I probably won’t be completely successful at it for the rest of my life. I can certainly try, but if I can’t, I know it’s OK too. The effort has to be worth something, right?
One of the things that came together quite spontaneously in the subject of being “fair” with the kids, is ” A Mother’s Love” session I had with both of them around the same time in their lives- Penelope at 3.5 months old and Oliver at 6 months old. Looking at these pictures, I see a few things. 1. Adam and I must only have one position one mold (haha) because I can’t believe how much Penelope and Oliver look like each other. I notice the little subtleties in their faces, Penelope’s softer edges and Oliver’s more prominent features, but they are very much little twins – girl and boy version, 18 months apart. 2. They have such great smiles. 3. Oliver has a lot more hair than Penelope did… and Penelope had a lot of hair for a 3.5 month old. 4. I love the wonderful space that both sessions took place in. Edmonton has so many beautiful little gems all around.
5. I see my smile, the way I look at them when they are nursing, the light in my eyes when they are around, and I know one thing…
One thing I’m never going to have to worry about when it comes to being “fair” with them is how much I love them. I love them with every fiber in my being, with every kiss, with every early morning wake up, every giggle, every hug. I just adore them.
When I was pregnant for the second time, I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to help make the postpartum period easier, especially since I knew I would be taking care of a newborn and a toddler this time around. Placenta encapsulation was one of those things.
I had heard about placenta encapsulation in my prenatal classes, from some friends and my midwife, but didn’t actually go ahead with it for my first pregnancy. Second time around, I knew I wanted to try it. I did some research on it, and the benefits sounded like something I would want. In a nutshell; helps with post labor recovery, replenishment of iron levels, increase in milk supply and can help with postpartum depression.
I’ve recently started to wean off my placenta pills (I am 4.5 months postpartum) and from my experience, I would definitely recommend it. Overall, I feel the pills really helped, especially during the first two weeks postpartum, which to me, are always the hardest. I felt really great given I was getting little sleep, recovering from labor, and taking care of two little people. My milk came in faster and my supply was stronger. In terms of my mood, I was less stressed and happier (this could all be because it was my second time around too), and in my husband’s words “I was nicer” (haha). I didn’t experience any hair loss, until I started to wean off them…that’s why I’m still sort of taking them.
The encapsulation service was done by a local doula, so if you’re thinking about it, I would start looking there. The service can be a little bit pricey (around $200 or more), but the benefits, in my opinion, were definitely worth it. The service included pick up of the placenta, encapsulation, drop off and a little umbilical cord heart shape keepsake (which I loved!).
It’s so incredible to believe the things I’m emotionally attached to since becoming mom; I still have the positive pee tests for both kids, their fallen baby hair in an envelope, and I’ve had Oliver’s heart shaped cord and both Penelope and Oliver’s stump saved for what seems like forever. I know, I know- I’m THAT mom.
It’s amazing to believe that the cord was what kept my little babies alive in my womb, so special. I finally got around to doing something with the cord and stumps, a little DIY below, and I absolutely love it how it turned out.
Did you do anything with your placenta? I would love to hear your experience!