Material World – On the Go

In deviation from my usual posts, I am posting this series, Material World.  For me, setting up a baby registry was much like packing for a trip, but not knowing where we were going. The lists you find on Pinterest are borderline absurd. It’s amazing how many “barely used” wipes warmers I see for sale on Facebook. So, to help in your journey, and as a reminder for future me, I have compiled a list of the things we have liked with Ollie.  I have included links, where I can, for these products.


Where I go, Oliver goes, but how does he go?  Baby carriers are great for bonding time and for places like Luray Caverns.  Strollers are great for walks around the neighborhood and trips to the mall.  And then there’s the necessary evil of car seats.

Here’s the list, but scroll down if you’d like to read more about why we liked each product:

Why these products?

Graco Classic Connect 30 car seat- $100: I wish I could say I did a bunch of research on car seats, but I didn’t. My sister did though, and not only is she a car seat guru (read: nerd =), I was watching her daughter and we could use the same bases and strollers for our car seats by getting the same one.

Big selling point is that it’s one of the lightest carriers and the strap to adjust is at the kid’s feet and not hidden underneath or behind somewhere. Keep in mind that it’s still an 8 lb addition to whatever your kid weighs, so you don’t want to be lugging the thing around without a shopping cart or a stroller.

Avoid the Infant specific seats if you want to save money. They have their own bases and strollers, so when you get the next level of car seat, none of your accessories fit.

Also, I do not recommend buying car seats used. There is always a chance they have been in an accident and are damaged.

Graco Snugrider Elite Stroller – $10: But the link says $80! Don’t buy this new. I see these things on the facebook used baby item groups on a weekly basis for less than 20 dollars. Pretty much all snap and go type strollers work fine with this. You’ll want a different kind of stroller once they can sit on their own, so don’t spend a ton of money on this.

That said, it is perfect for quick trips to the store. Target carts are notoriously bad for snapping in carrier car seats (the way you’re not supposed to in the front seat part). This has a pretty big basket for items, but is small enough to still maneuver.

Chicco Capri Umbrella Stroller – $80: We got ours for free from a friend who was done with hers, again, check for used first! This made it through her two boys and is great for walks with Ollie now that he’s sitting on his own. Honestly we used it before he could sit up because it straps him in nicely and has a slight recline feature as well. If you’re travelling light, this stroller is great!

I also purchased a graco double stroller second hand for Ollie and his cousin and it is about as convenient as a double stroller can be. It can hold two carriers, two seated children, or one of each. It’s a little cumbersome to turn around, but everything is more cumbersome with two!

O2Cool Battery Clip Fan – $18: We don’t want to cover him in bug spray, which he will promptly lick off of his arms, so we came up with a different solution. It also helps make our walks a little more comfy for him.  There are other kinds specifically designed for strollers which might actually be better, but this is the one Target had when we were looking and it works just fine for us!

Moby Wrap – $36: We used this more when Ollie was a little guy.  He lived in it while I did dishes or laundry and used to snuggle up for naps against my chest.  It can be difficult to figure out all of the wraps, but if you use Youtube and practice a few times it really proves worthwhile. You can use a moby from the day they are born and there are many front and hip carry options.  It is not my go-to now that he is sitting, because he is very wiggly while I’m trying to oragami us both into it!

Ergo Baby Carrier – $135:  I bought mine second-hand from a local mom for about $60.  This provides excellent support for both Ollie and me and can be used for front carry, back carry, and hip carry. We started using this one once Ollie could hold up his head, and hold a sitting position with support.  That isn’t necessary if you also get the infant insert.

Were I to invest in another carrier, I would pursue the Ergo 360, which also allows forward-facing front carry.

We have yet to travel very far, but we do have our first plane ride coming up in January, so feel free to share your airplane travel tips with me!

Are there products you love for getting your baby from point A to point B?  Post your recommendations in the comments and help your fellow Mamas and Papas (including me!).

Material World – Toys

In deviation from my usual posts, I am posting this series, Material World.  For me, setting up a baby registry was much like packing for a trip, but not knowing where we were going. The lists you find on Pinterest are borderline absurd. It’s amazing how many “barely used” wipes warmers I see for sale on Facebook. So, to help in your journey, and as a reminder for future me, I have compiled a list of the things we have liked with Ollie.  I have included links, where I can, for these products.


Early on babies need very little in the way of entertainment that doesn’t come directly from you. Hold them, love them, sing to them, talk to them. Soon, for their stimulation, but also your sanity, you’re going to want things they can amuse themselves with.

Here’s the list, but scroll down if you’d like to read more about why we liked each product:

Why these products?

Mobile – We liked this mobile for the living room. It’s simple, it’s wood, and it’s colorful. He’s just now outgrowing it, and that’s mostly because he wants to get it and put it in his mouth rather than watch it peacefully.

Portable Crib Mattress – $30: We used a yoga mat at first, but really preferred a pack n’ play style mattress. This was supportive and soft on our hardwood floor, and helped somewhat with tummy time. He is just now getting too big for it as he rolls around.

Rings – $5: These things come a close second to burp cloths as Ollie’s favorite toys. We have some clipped to his car seat, and some in virtually every room of the house. They are great for grasping or hanging other toys.

Skwish – $15: Man does Ollie love to hold, shake, and chew on this thing. Never met a baby that did not love one of these.

Crinkle Book – $7: Anything that crinkles is well loved. In fact, you can make a crinkly thing with a potato chip bag and some fabric.

Basket of Fabric Scraps – Free: I just went through my craft room and plucked out different textures. He will play with these all day.

Ring and/or Bell on a Ribbon – I made ours and they are straight out of the Montessori Materials books. It’s a ribbon on some elastic with a bell or a ring on the end. Hang it from the ceiling and your baby can grasp and pull it. Ollie likes to pull the bell as far as he can now then let go and watch it fling into the air. He’s learning physics.

Gelly Bag of Treasures – Ollie’s Aunt made him this toy and it’s fantastic. It’s a double ziplock bag filled with hair gel and small soft plastic toys. The edges are sealed with fun duct tape. It’s especially amusing for tummy time and he squishes it and tries to eat it. When he’s older we can look for specific toys in it as a more advanced game.

Baby Signing Time – $80: These videos are baby crack.  I was hesitant to start screen time so early, but we watch them together and work on our signs.  Despite 6 months of his father and I signing with him, he didn’t show us his first sign until Rachel, of Baby Signing Time, showed him how to sign.

Baby Bjorn Bouncer – $134: We actually bought a much cheaper bouncer, and it recently broke. Not getting more than one kid out of that one. The Bjorn brand, however, is solid and we will be buying one for our next kid. Or we’ll steal my sister’s since it has been through her three kids and is still going strong.

Graco Bumper Jumper – $34 – Ours was a hand me down, but we would have bought one.  Ollie loves it like his mother and father before him. He has wanted to jump from day one, and now that he can hold himself up, he does. Just need a doorway with a frame.

Ollie liked his swing for a short time, until we started forcing him to nap in it by placing a thin blanket over the entire apparatus and ignoring him for a bit. That was probably our fault.

He loves many other toys, but I picked some go-to faves.

Are there toys you love for your baby?  Post your recommendations in the comments and help your fellow Mamas and Papas (including me!).

Material World – Diapers

In deviation from my usual posts, I am posting this series, Material World.  For me, setting up a baby registry was much like packing for a trip, but not knowing where we were going. The lists you find on Pinterest are borderline absurd. It’s amazing how many “barely used” wipes warmers I see for sale on Facebook. So, to help in your journey, and as a reminder for future me, I have compiled a list of the things we have liked with Ollie.  I have included links, where I can, for these products.


No matter how you do it, you will spend a good portion of your baby budget on your baby’s bottom.  We currently use disposables at night and cloth during the day.

Here’s the list, but scroll down if you’d like to read more about why we liked each product:

Disposable Diapering

Cloth Diapering

Why these products?

Disposables:

Get Amazon Mom, use Subscribe and Save.

Don’t open boxes until you need them; you can usually exchange unopened boxes for another size. We didn’t use cloth newborn diapers because they can be used for such a short time, we didn’t find the investment worthwhile.

Cloth:

Rent or borrow to start if you can. This helps you determine which kinds you might like.

We determined early on that we liked the pocket style, but later found we also liked all-in-twos and covers with prefolds. Even within the styles, we found we liked the price point of Alva and Happy Flute on Amazon, but I really prefer the durability and quality of Rumparooz.

Where possible buy from other parents online. I have joined several “For Sale or Trade (FSOT)” groups on Facebook, but there are sites like clothdiapertrader.com as well. Make sure to look at the pictures for any stains and use paypal for secure transactions.

As a personal note, I implore you not to go crazy for specific prints. Remember, this is a vessel for your child’s bodily waste. Spending $65 on one diaper because it’s a retired print with a pleasing pattern placement is absurd. Unless you have lottery winnings level money, there is no reason to shell out that kind of dough.

Last thought on the diapers, specifically, here is a video I just found that has helped us put our diapers on more securely.

Especially once the kid is eating solid food, use these disposable liners for easy clean up. We put ours in an empty wipes container for easy access.

We use Planet Wise diaper pail liners in a trash can with a lid. We have two because one is always in the wash.

We also have 3 wet bags, but, it seems, you can never have enough. These are nice because they have two separate compartments. We typically use one for diapers and one for clothes. Even if you use “sposies” (disposable diapers), these are great for wet/dirty clothes, bibs, etc.

We also use cloth wipes as often as possible. The beauty of cloth wipes with cloth diapers is that you don’t have to have a diaper pail and a trash can near by.  Everything just goes in the diaper pail – easy peasy.

I bought these wipes from amazon, but you can easily cut a flannel receiving blanket, or use baby washcloths.  We keep them pre-moistened in a wipes box.

Here’s my recipe, which I simplified from this recipe:

I usually make a triple batch for 30 wipes.  I mix it in my big 6-cup measuring cup.  I put my wipes in a bowl then pour the solution over the wipes. I use the original recipe link’s suggestion for how to fold them so they pop up out of the wipes dispenser.

Diaper Creams:

For cloth we use Earth Mama Angel Baby. This stuff smells like heaven, and Colonial Wiliamsburg, mostly Williamsburg.  We have also started using CJs BUTTer and we love it too.  They have a bunch of different types and scents, but we bought the 2oz tub of “plus”, which was refreshingly unscented.

We like to use the disposable liners with diaper creams as well to save the diapers from staining.

When he has a particularly bad rash we use either A&D, which our pediatrician recommended, or Bordeaux’s Butt Paste. Sometimes different rashes respond to different creams.

We are definitely still exploring the cavernous depths of cloth diapering styles. At the end of the day, his bum is clean, dry, and occasionally smells like beeswax and tea tree oil.

Are there products you love for your baby?  Post your recommendations in the comments and help your fellow Mamas and Papas (including me!).

Material World – Clothes

In deviation from my usual posts, I am posting this series, Material World.  For me, setting up a baby registry was much like packing for a trip, but not knowing where we were going. The lists you find on Pinterest are borderline absurd. It’s amazing how many “barely used” wipes warmers I see for sale on Facebook. So, to help in your journey, and as a reminder for future me, I have compiled a list of the things we have liked with Ollie.  I have included links, where I can, for these products.


There are so many adorable ways to dress your baby, some more practical than others.  See My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter for examples.

Here’s the list, but scroll down if you’d like to read more about why we liked each product:

Plus a bit on sizing and hand-me-downs.

Why these products?

Swaddling: Swaddling is key for infants. We became blanket swaddling experts at the hospital, very proud of ourselves and our new skill. The minute they wiggle, even a little bit, this becomes much harder.

Halo Swaddle Sleepsacks – $17: Sure, you can keep blanket swaddling and you will probably succeed, but they make zip up swaddle sacks so that you don’t have to become baby origami masters.   Put sack on baby and zip. Wrap one wing over one arm and under their back. Wrap Velcro wing over both arms and stick it to the back. Swaddled baby.

The best news is that the zipper opens to the top and closes to the feet. What does this mean? This means that when you need to change a diaper in the middle of the night, you can unzip to the hip, keeping the arms swaddled all the while. We bought the cotton ones, my sister swears by the fleece because they don’t stretch out as easily. I have not tried the muslin ones.

Comfort and Harmony Peanuts – $12: I wish we had found these sooner. Just stuff the whole baby in and zip. Slightly more wrangling than the Halos, but a little lighter weight and cheaper. These have a dual zipper. Zip from the top, zip from the bottom, the possibilities are not endless, but they are pretty great. We explored the regular peanut, and the one with snap up arm holes. I was hoping to try the one with mesh air vents for the summer, but we stopped swaddling him at around 5 months.

The Halos and the Peanuts with the snapping arm holes can be used to transition out of swaddling. Let them have one arm, let them have both arms, but keep the tightness around the chest. We didn’t really bother, we just moved him into non-swaddling sleep sacks ($20) over his onesies for naps and sleepers for nights.

Sleepers: While your baby is in swaddle sacks, peanuts, or sleepsacks, I highly recommend sleepers with snaps. When you zip up to the hip to change a diaper, you can undo the snaps at the legs only. If you have a zipper sleeper underneath, the likelihood is that the sleeper zipper closes at the top so you have to undo the entire swaddle, peanut, or sleep sack in order to unzip the sleeper.

Once you move to sleepers only, snaps are for suckers and let me tell you why. If you’re like us, you moved out of swaddles because your baby kicked, punched, stretched, and otherwise got fought their restraints and you thought, maybe he’d hate sleeping a little less if he could move more freely now. (He won’t, nothing you do will change your child’s opinions on sleep J). We put Ollie in snapping sleepers only when his zip ones are in the wash. We do not buy snapping sleepers because he pulls up his legs, kicks out a snap or two, then wails because his leg is stuck sticking out of his sleeper. The kid has to have some serious soccer legs to take out a zipper.

When we were still swaddling, we swaddled for every nap. We put him down for naps after he’d been awake for an hour all day, so that was a lot of swaddling. The swaddle sacks and sleep sacks double as blankets, which is nice since you aren’t supposed to use blankets with little guys.

Now that we’re not swaddling, I do not bother with sleepers for naps. He sleeps in his onesie, sometimes in a sleep sack and a onesie because it helps remind him that it’s sleep time and not play time. Once he was reliably able to pull a burp cloth off of his face (fun game), lift his head, and roll a bit, we started using blankets.

Sizing:

Don’t stock up unless you find incredible deals. Even then, keep in mind that clearance clothes often can’t be returned. Not only will you receive a bunch of clothes at your shower and potentially as hand me downs from family and friends, you don’t know what size your baby will be. The ultrasound techs like to tell everyone that they have giant dinosaur babies, but most are born smaller than the sonogram suggests. That being said, many babies only spend a couple weeks, if that, in a newborn size. After that they’re totally unpredictable.

Three things I learned, slowly, about clothing sizes.

  1. Gerber is tiny; estimate one to two sizes smaller than the label says. Ollie fits in 6-9 right now in almost everything, only he no longer fits into 12 month Gerber.
  2. Some brands give a range (3-6) some just give a number (6). The number is generally the upper range. Don’t hold 6 month clothes until the child is 6 months or you will have a very short window to use them.
  3. Look for the actual tag on the inside near the leg for the weight range. If it isn’t there, check that brand’s website. This should say something like 18-22 lbs, which is a much better indicator than the monthly size range.

Borrowing Clothes:

If you are borrowing clothes from family and friends, I also recommend writing their name on the inner tag by the leg. When your child grows out of clothes, sort out what’s yours and what’s theirs and give it back as soon as you can. (You know, in all that spare time you have). This helps both your storage and gets the clothes back into rotation for other friends or family with babies.

Finally, this tip, another awesome mom shared with me.

onesie

Are there products you love for clothing your baby?  Any tips or tricks? Post your recommendations in the comments and help your fellow Mamas and Papas (including me!).

Material World – Eating

In deviation from my usual posts, I am posting this series, Material World.  For me, setting up a baby registry was much like packing for a trip, but not knowing where we were going. The lists you find on Pinterest are borderline absurd. It’s amazing how many “barely used” wipes warmers I see for sale on Facebook. So, to help in your journey, and as a reminder for future me, I have compiled a list of the things we have liked with Ollie.  I have included links, where I can, for these products.


We had a unique experience, both breastfeeding and formula feeding, so I have a little bit from both worlds.  Since we have started solid food, I have even more to add! Food could probably be a series all its own!

Here’s the list, but scroll down if you’d like to read more about why we liked each product:

Breastfeeding

Bottle Feeding

Solid Foods

  • Bananas
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Potato
  • Egg Yolk (mix with milk, formula, or avocado for better texture)
  • Mango
  • Blueberries
  • Applesauce
  • Steamed Carrots
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Peas
  • Happy Creamies
  • Shot Glasses

Why these products?

Breastfeeding

My Breastfriend Pillow – $30: My breastfeeding endeavors were not successful, but during the frustration that was my attempts, this pillow, borrowed from a friend, was fantastic. It attaches to you, and makes a shelf so you can adjust, rearrange, squeeze, “sandwich”, and manipulate what needs manipulating with both hands if necessary. And there’s a pocket, everything is better with a pocket. The Boppy pillows are good for transitioning to sitting up, and will work for feeding, but put the Breastfriend on your registry or find one used if you can.

Medela Pump in Style – Free?: Our pump was possibly covered by our insurance. One phone call they said it wasn’t, another phone call they told me to order one because it was covered. We didn’t pay for ours, but then we received an EOB from the insurance saying it wasn’t covered. We have yet to receive a bill. Most insurance companies cover some kind of pump.

Mine did not come in a fancy bag, but if it’s a free pump, you can put it in a bag of your choosing.

If you think you’re going to pump a lot, get a battery pack and extra shields. Make sure you have a shield that fits you, this does not guarantee a painless pumping experience, but it sure helps.

For hands-free pumping, grab an old sports bra, or buy one on clearance.  Put it on, mark your targets with a sharpie, take off, and cut small holes.  Push the pumping shield through the hole and you have yourself a very cheap, machine washable, hands-free pumping device.

I put all of the shields, valves, and bottles in the dishwasher on the normal wash setting and they were all fine, so don’t feel like you have to become as slave to the sink.

Lactation Consultant – ?: I met with 3 different consultants at the hospital and left with a baby that couldn’t latch. I didn’t visit a lactation consultant once I came home and subsequently spent the next three months hating breastfeeding. I couldn’t say whether it would have helped or not, but I should have tried. If your insurance will cover it and you are still at all interested/invested in breastfeeding, use the resources that are available. If you are not, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty and own your decision to formula feed like a boss.

Bottle Feeding

Dr. Brown’s Bottles Wide (5 bottles) – $32: I didn’t try a wide array of bottles. We registered for these and liked them. We tried an avent bottle we got for free but the more natural nipple proved to be as difficult for Ollie as a natural nipple. If you are using formula, do yourself a favor and get the wide neck bottles. The regular ones work just fine, but the mouth is the same size as the formula scoop, so it gets a bit messy.

Again, we wash all of the bits and parts in the dishwasher on the normal wash setting. We use one of these Munchkin Dishwasher Baskets ($4) for the nipples and air vent bits. Note: a friend’s dishwasher turned one of our bottles orange. Not sure what setting or soap they used, so test one out before washing the lot. I don’t think it makes the bottle any less sterile, but it looks kind of funky.

Formula – Free: Take every sample the pediatrician will give you. Keep the samples you get in the mail. Once you find a kind you like, tell your pediatrician and they will likely give you enough samples that you never have to buy formula. Our pediatrician will call me between appointments when they want to clear out their stock. The formula company reps bring cases and cases to these doctors and they will expire before most offices can distribute them as single sample cans. I have a friend who uses a special kind of formula and she hooks me up with what her pediatrician gives her.

Stockpile coupons and rebate checks for the rare times you need to buy and you will never pay $26 a tub. If you somehow miss the boat on free samples, use a subscription service like Amazon Prime Subscribe and Save.

Another odd note: We use Enfamil but we like Similac’s reusable tub and scoop design. The tub has a rubber ring on the inside that keeps the formula fresh and contained. Also, the tub is contoured so it’s easier to pull out of the cabinet with a wiggling baby on my hip. The scoop has a handy half-scoop line, which is good for measuring single ounce proportions. Honestly, we’d use Similac if we didn’t get so much free Enfamil from the doctor.

Solid Foods: We skipped the baby food thing and gave Ollie foods he could gum.

When you’re ready, some of our favorite firsts were bananas, avocado, roasted sweet potato fries, egg yolk (mix with milk, formula, or avocado for better texture), mango, blueberries, applesauce, steamed carrots, and roasted or grilled squash and zucchini. The trick is things they can hold in their hands well enough but can also gum into oblivion.

We also recently discovered Happy Creamies – $3.50. They’re fruits and veggies with a sweet potato base and coconut milk – what’s not to love! When we are out at a place like Five Guys, where everything is cooked in peanut oil, we can grab these out of the bag for Ollie to munch.

My new love is peas.  He can pick these up with his finger and thumb (at 6 months), they’re bite-sized, and they’re not very messy.  This is the dream when you aren’t spoon feeding purées.

Because we have coke style glasses, we bought these coke shot glasses for Ollie to learn to drink water. Not only is it super cute to see a baby sized glass, he is learning to control the cup and the liquid while he drinks, which is awesome. Any shot glass will do, but sometimes the “Three Tequilla, Floor” glass seems inappropriate. (It’s actually hilarious and totally OK though because they can’t read and you have to amuse yourself somehow.)    

 Are there products you love when feeding your baby?  Post your recommendations in the comments and help your fellow Mamas and Papas (including me!).

Material World – Sleeping

In deviation from my usual posts, I am posting this series, Material World.  For me, setting up a baby registry was much like packing for a trip, but not knowing where we were going. The lists you find on Pinterest are borderline absurd. It’s amazing how many “barely used” wipes warmers I see for sale on Facebook. So, to help in your journey, and as a reminder for future me, I have compiled a list of the things we have liked with Ollie.  I have included links, where I can, for these products.


There are many theories on sleep and I cannot recommend a good book or system. We chose a more child-led scheduling over parent-led scheduling because I have the luxury of a flexible schedule. We chose a floor bed over a crib because we believe this will foster independence. Is our son the perfect model of sleep habits? No. We like our system; you do you.

Here’s the list, but scroll down if you’d like to read more about why we liked each product:

Why these products?

Lullyboo Travel Bed – $60: This bed has been used in some many ways and was definitely worth the cost. (It was given to us as a gift, but we would have spent the money on it.)

When we brought Oliver home, this bed was like a co-sleeper bed. We placed the bed between us and kept him close without the worry of rolling over and smooshing him. There are plenty of parents who co-sleep without smooshing, but the anxiety was not worth it for us.

After a few weeks we moved this bed to the floor next to the bed. He got comfortable sleeping on the floor, semi-independently from us.

After a few more weeks of that, we moved this bed to his room and just set it directly on top of his floor bed. He kept his small and familiar sleeping space while he grew accustomed to his room and to a longer delay when he cried.

When we were ready, we laid him down to sleep directly on his bed. At this time we struggled with naps, so I moved the travel bed to the living room so that he could sleep during the day. In hindsight, he probably would have slept better in his bed. Our sleep adventures might be a story for another day.

To this day we still use the travel bed for naps when we are visiting friends and family. It folds up with backpack straps to carry it. Everything about this bed is genius and I’m sad that he’s finally growing out of it.

Graco Audio Monitor – $50: If you, like me, know that a video monitor would make you insane because you would watch your baby all night every night, here’s the audio monitor we got instead. It’s high quality, reliable, portable, etc. My only complaint is that there is often a crying baby on the other end of it, but what can you do?

myBaby Sound Spa – $20: I like the white noise option on this sound machine and I like that it plugs in and we can run it all night and day. Where possible I avoid things that are solely battery operated, but we did also purchase the myBaby Sound Spa On-The-Go – $9, to attach to the car seat. This helps for long days out in the stroller or in the car.

Angel Dear Loveys (3 pack) – $38: This is Ollie’s Linus the Lion.

We didn’t introduce him for sleeping until Ollie was pulling things away from his face and able to roll a little bit, for safety reasons. These are small, soft, and easily managed by tiny baby hands.

Oliver thinks the nubs and tags are delicious. Get the three pack; trust me. I wash one Linus a week due to the tag sucking. He has one for his bed, a back up in the car, and one that lives at his Meme’s house.

Are there products you love for your baby’s sleep?  Post your recommendations in the comments and help your fellow Mamas and Papas (including me!).

Autobullying

The internet is notorious for shaming women – about their weight, about their dating behavior, about their parenting, about their aging, about their wanting to be paid the same as men for the same work. I’m not saying there isn’t a fair bit of man bashing out there as well, but I’m a lady, so I’m going to roll with that perspective.

While the internet is plagued with shaming ranging from subtle size-0-only marketing to full on death threats for stating an opinion, I believe our greatest enemies are ourselves. For many women there is a nagging internal voice questioning how we should look, how we should behave, and how we should feel. Surely constant bombardment from advertisers, Hollywood, and social media planted and perpetuates this feeling, but it becomes a monster all its own.

How many women look at a 90-pound, bronzed beauty in a magazine and think “this woman is how all women should look and I am sad because I do not look like her.”? I’m guessing not many. Most of us look at that photo and think, “If I had the money, the time, and Photoshop, I could look like her.” We know it’s unrealistic. Furthermore, how many of us look at our female friends and think “Why don’t you all look like that model?” Hopefully none. We wish our friends joy, success, and good health. We enjoy their sense of humor, their loyalty, their empathy, their companionship. But the only reason I care at all what size my friends are is because sometimes you need to borrow a dress. Yet, I inherently feel less valuable when I am overweight, sad, overwhelmed, out of style, or old.

I keep a particular Amy Poehler quote in my (metaphoric) pocket for just such occasions:

“When the demon starts to slither my way and say bad shit about me I turn around and say, ‘Hey. Cool it. Amy is my friend. Don’t talk about her like that.’ Sticking up for ourselves in the same way we would one of our friends is a hard but satisfying thing to do. Sometimes it works.”

Amy Poehler

Like she says, it’s hard, but sometimes it works. This is not to say that one can just will themselves out of a depression or change deep seeded negative self-perceptions overnight. There is, however, the reward of feeling less like crap when you can combat negative thoughts with positive ones, which is helpful for nipping the occasional funk in the bud.

What helps me take it a step further is being a parent. Kids don’t start out with any perceptions about how anything should be. They don’t think people should be a certain ethnicity, religion, gender, or orientation. Heck, they don’t even realize inanimate objects don’t have feelings until they’re like 7. You have a cat? All small furry things are cats. Tell them a robust man shimmies down every chimney in the known world in one night delivering presents from his flying sleigh? Seems legit. While they may refuse to believe, no matter how many times you tell them, that their balloon didn’t intentionally float away because it was mean, they do eventually learn all of their perceptions of the world from us.

Clearly I’m not going to sit Oliver down and say

“It’s not OK for a woman to be overweight.”

Or

“A classy lady always look her best, in well-done make up and trendy clothes.”

Or

“Women who feel strong emotions are just being irrational and you shouldn’t take them seriously.”

Because these are horrible things to say and I do not believe them. About other people.

The danger is when I say

“I can’t find anything to wear that doesn’t make me look like a cow.”

Or

“I’m almost ready to go; I just need to put on my face.”

Or

“Sorry mommy was so hormonal today, I had some chocolate and now I’m all better.”

I wouldn’t say these things about a friend, and I certainly don’t want my children saying these things about themselves or others, so I have to stop saying these things about myself.

Instead, this is the attitude I want my children to learn from me:

tiara