Thursday, July 20, 2017

DIY Frozen Treats

Summer has finally arrived in Ottawa after literally weeks (and weeks!) of rain.  We've restocked our popular stainless steel popsicle molds in both the rocket and paddles styles.  These popsicle molds are durable and easy to clean, and they will last for years -- even their bamboo sticks are reusable (but you will have to train your family not to throw them out). 


DIY popsicles are a great way to give your family healthy frozen treats, and they're so simple to make, your kids can help.  DIY popsicles can be as simple as frozen juice, but once you get hooked on DIY popsicles, it's fun to get creative in the kitchen. 
 
We've made the following recipes successfully (meaning more than once).  You don't 'need' popsicle molds, you can get by with cups and popsicle sticks, but the portion size and design of our stainless steel molds makes them easy to eat, and their drip catchers help cut down on mess.  I've linked the original recipes in the titles, the recipes below reflect any adjustments we made.

Avocado and Coconut Ice Pops

This recipe is not terribly sweet, so I liked it more than our kids (and to be honest, having popsicle in the freezers that the kids don't like as much as you do is not a terrible thing!).

Ingredients 
 
1 fresh (large) avocado
1 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp. honey (may substitute with 2 Tbsp. sugar)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
 
Instructions 
  1. Place avocado, coconut milk, honey and lemon into a blender. Blend on high until smooth.  Mix in shredded coconut.
  2. Pour into popsicle molds, insert lidded sticks into the popsicle molds.
  3. Freeze until firm.
  4. Run popsicle molds under warm water for about 15 seconds to loosen the popsicles so they slide out easily.

 
This recipe is quite sweet, the original recipe calls for up to 1 3/4 cups of sugar -- that's cray cray, 1 cup of sugar is more than enough (and quite frankly you could probably use even less).  Naturally, our kids love this recipe.  I like this recipe enough to make a point to keep two cans of coconut milk in our fridge at all times so I can whip this up whenever we feel like it -- it actually blends up into a nice, soft ice cream right out of the blender if you want instant gratification.
 
Ingredients
 
2 (13-oz.) cans of chilled, full fat coconut milk (don't use 'light' or fat-free coconut milk!).
1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 
Instructions 
  1. Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until smooth. 
  2. Pour into popsicle molds, insert lidded sticks into the popsicle molds.
  3. Freeze until firm.
  4. Run popsicle molds under warm water for about 15 seconds to loosen the popsicles so they slide out easily.
Optional: if you have the paddle-style popsicle mold, you can slide an Oreo cookie into the mold -- just slide the stick into the cookie cream before you insert it into the popsicle mold.
 
 
This recipe is great because you can use frozen fruit -- using frozen fruit reduces the work involved (who doesn't like easy?).
 
Ingredients
 
2 cups fruit (fresh or frozen)
1-2 tablespoons honey
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water, juice, milk or yogurt (add enough to achieve smoothie-like consistency)
 
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until smooth. 
  2. Pour into popsicle molds, insert lidded sticks into the popsicle molds.
  3. Freeze until firm.
  4. Run popsicle molds under warm water for about 15 seconds to loosen the popsicles so they slide out easily.
 

    Thursday, May 25, 2017

    28 days...

    disclaimer:  Are you a man?  I'm going to talk about my period here.  You have been warned!

    We have sold reusable menstrual products for a number of years now, and when customers come in to consider their options, we often chat about our own experiences using them.  I have dabbled with the Diva Cup, and it wasn't for me, but I'm the exception to the rule, and I really only gave it a 2-hour test drive one time (yes, one time!).  I know that it takes at least a couple of cycles to get used to a menstrual cup, there is a bit of a learning curve in terms of positioning it properly, and if I'm perfectly honest, my Diva Cup went missing basically immediately after that one time I used it, and I'm fairly certain it probably became a Barbie hat.  But that's beside the point. 

    Cost?
    Anyhow, I have been using cloth pads for a long time now -- I've had the same set of pads in rotation for close to eight years.  My initial investment was approximately $60.00; like buying cloth diapers, there can be a little sticker shock when getting set up with reusable menstrual products, but when you consider their longterm use, you can be sure you'll save $$$ in the longrun.  Things cost a little more now, but you could still comfortably get set up with a set of cloth menstrual pads for approximately $75.00.

    How many?
    I have six cloth pads in rotation, which is more than enough for me.  As a family of six, we (read: me) are always doing laundry.  My cycle is approximately five days long, and to go five days without at least a couple loads of laundry would be nothing short of a miracle.  I usually use two-three pads a day -- I can comfortably wear the same pad for 4-6 hours (even on those heavy days at the start of my cycle).  Cloth menstrual pads typically come in light/regular/heavy variations, I only use the 'regular' pads, they are sufficient for my needs.

    Do they work?
    How do the menstrual pads perform in comparison to their single-use counterparts?  Just fine!  I have never leaked through a pad, in fact, I find less 'mess' ends up in the pad by comparison.  Single-use menstrual pads contain super-absorbing polymers (the same chemicals used in disposable diapers) to draw liquid from your body.  Using cloth menstrual pads, I find most of my flow ends up in the toilet. I'm confident in this theory enough that I don't even use a pad at night -- as long as I go to the bathroom immediately when I wake up, I have no issues with leaking (I absolutely detest wearing a pad at night!).

    Öko Creations hemp/cotton menstrual pads
    Are they comfortable?
    In terms of comfort, cloth pads are a little bulkier, but not enough to bother me.  Some customers have switched to using cloth pads because single-use menstrual pads chafe their lady bits (yes, I said lady bits).  Cloth pads stay in place well as long as I'm wearing underwear that fits properly (when I wear underwear that's too loose on me, the pads can move around, which is not ideal, but completely avoidable). 

    Do I have to switch entirely?
    The only time I favor single-use menstrual products is when I play soccer (and not necessarily always, just sometimes), and occasionally when I run (which is rare because I hate running, but I'm only mentioning it so you think I'm actually more active than I really am).  Like cloth diapers, switching to reusable menstrual options doesn't have to be an 'all or nothing' commitment.

    How much work is it?
    Honestly, none.  I know there's lots of information 'out there' about how to 'properly care for' you cloth menstrual pads, but I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  You don't really have to do anything special.  I don't soak mine in a bucket beside the toilet because the idea of doing that makes me what to throw up (for realz). I toss my dirty pad into the laundry hamper (out of care and consideration for my family, I will bury them under other pieces of dirty clothing because I don't want anyone to faint from horror if they are confronted with a reminder that I still have a properly functioning uterus).  In our family we (read me:) wash everything on hot, and dry everything on low heat.  Even though our kids are well out of diapers, I still use CountrySave detergent because it is gentle, but effective at cleaning everything, including my soiled menstrual pads.  When my pads come out of the dryer with all the other laundry, they are thrown into my underwear drawer where they shall remain until I need them again 28 days later.


    So that's it, what do you think?  I hope I've made it sound as easy as it truly is.  Now that I have two teenagers who have periods, I'm reminded of all the waste that single-use menstrual products generate, and how much $$$ they cost (seriously!  They are so expensive!).  My girls know that I use cloth menstrual pads, and I know that they are horrified at the idea right now (and to be honest, at their age, I would have been too), but it's my hope that one day they consider switching to reusables.  I think for a lot of people, it's just getting over the 'ick! factor', once you get going, it's really NBD (no big deal).


    Wednesday, February 1, 2017

    Books, books, books!

    If you've visited our store in the past few months, you may have noticed we've been growing our inventory to include stock aimed at older children, we're not just a 'baby' store anymore.  As part of that effort, we've been growing our selection of books beyond board books and puppet books.  As someone who enjoys a good book more than anything else, I think reading is a valuable pastime for everyone, big and small.  It's a great way to improve your comprehension, vocabulary, and grammar skills, and it's a wonderful escape from real life.  


    As much as I enjoy reading books for my own pleasure, reading to our children when they were younger is something I'll always look back on with fondness.  Reading at bedtime was a great way to wind down at the end of the day, and it was part of our nightly routine.  Aside from providing entertainment, children can benefit from the message some books can offer.  Towards that end, we've stocked three new titles that emphasize gratitude, kindness, and sharing.  Given current world events, I think these messages are especially important right now.

    The Invisible Boy



    Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class.


    When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.

    This gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.



    Last Stop on Market Street


    Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.


    Those Shoes

    All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for "want," just "need," when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants. 





    These books are a great way to open the door to conversations about the themes they present.  And those conversations, in turn, can serve as a great reminder that as uncertain as things may feel right now, the vast majority of people are kind and caring, and everything will be alright. 

    Wednesday, June 1, 2016

    Farewell, Waterloo.

    June 2016 marks our presences in the K-W area for ten years, unfortunately, it also marks the end of an era.  Declining sales have forced me to make the difficult decision to close our doors.  It is with great sadness that I'm announcing our last day of business will be Saturday, June 18th, 2016. 

    Over the past ten years, our Waterloo store has been staffed by a great bunch of mothers, many of their children have grown up in the store.  Far from 'just' salesgirls, I know these women have been a great resource in the community, providing wonderful assistance to new mothers in terms of offering breastfeeding support and general parenting advice.

    The unfortunate reality of our situation is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to compete as a brick & mortar business in the world of natural parenting products.  14 years ago, when I started this business, I was filling a need in the community.  I started the business because I thought other parents like myself would find it easier to buy to natural parenting products in person, rather than online.  At the time, being able to see products in person, and in the case of carriers, learn how to use them properly, trumped the convenience of online shopping, which was still in its infancy.

    Over the past few years, we've noticed a trend whereby despite the same number of people coming into the store to learn about the products we sell, our sales have steadily declined. This trend picked up steam over the past year as we had to raise prices to compensate for the weak Canadian dollar, making it harder to compete with WAHMs who enjoy a lower overhead, and big box online vendors, who have the volume to justify slimmer margins.  

    As sad as I am about making this decision, the store's closure will bring with it a sense of relief.  I think when people consider an independent business, they forget there's a real live person behind it, usually just one.  Dealing with declining sales (and mounting debt) has crept into every second of my life, it's been tough being the only person to shoulder the stress.  I did not start this business to become rich, I started it as a means to share my passion for natural parenting products with other parents, and to carve out a career that allowed me to contribute to our family's finances, and spend time with our children.  I am proud that I managed to foster a work environment that allowed other mothers to do the same, and I know that they are just as gutted as I am about the situation, but they support my decision.  

    I have no plans to close our Ottawa location, but I am slowly adapting its inventory to meet the community's needs.  We have been increasing our gift and toy selection, and I am planning on extending our hours so that we can catch the after work crowd.  I have resisted changing the nature of the store for a long time, but the reality is that we need to sell what people want to buy, and if I want to keep our doors open in Ottawa, I need to adapt to the market.  

    Effective immediately, all regularly priced inventory in Waterloo (excluding Padraigs) is marked down 25%.  Clearance prices are not applicable to previous purchases, and all sales are final.  If you have an outstanding gift card, I encourage you to use it ASAP.  Once the store is closed, you will be able to use them online, but shopping in person will save you the cost of S&H.

    If you are a K-W area parent, I would greatly appreciate it if you would share this post with friends who are in the market for cloth diapers, carriers, or breastfeeding essentials.  My husband and I will be travelling to Waterloo to pack everything up and bring it back to Ottawa on June 19th - the lighter our load, the easier our job. I would also encourage you to stop by the store, and let the ladies who work there know how much they'll be missed. There were tears when I broke the news to them, and I'm sure there will be many more tears before our doors close permanently.  I know they formed close friendships with each other, and many of our customers.  I feel fortunate to have had an opportunity to work with such a great group of women, I will truly miss them.

    Lastly, if there is a local store you enjoy, please make a point to shop there.  I know a lot of businesses in the K-W are are struggling right now due to the construction of the LRT.  Don't forget to show them your love, every purchase counts.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016

    Kindergarten Registration? Consider the Alternative!

    At this time of year, parents come into the store lamenting the fact that it's time to sign their children up for junior kindergarten.  Having 'been there, done that' four times myself, I know it seems like in the blink of an eye, your child goes from being a helpless lump to an independent little ball of energy ready to get out into the world.  Certainly, when we were in the position of signing up our oldest daughter for JK 12 years ago (!!!), we were fearful of how she'd fare at school.  Will she make friends?  Will she like her teachers?  Will she enjoy school?   

    In terms of deciding which school to send our kids to when we lived in a suburb of Ottawa, the only consideration we had to make was English or French.  As Anglophones who both grew up in Southwestern Ontario, despite its widespread availability in Ottawa, French Immersion was not important to us.  Prior to coming to Ottawa, I had never heard anyone speak French outside of the classroom, where I became quite fluent at issuing commands such as "Open the window!", "Close the door!", "Raise your hand!", and my personal favourite "Shut your mouth!". As someone who moved to Ottawa and managed to carve out a respectable living just fine without being fluently bilingual, exposing our children to French Immersion was not important to me.  My father taught himself to speak and read German when he started dating my mother, so I wasn't terribly concerned about introducing French to our children at a young age, on an ongoing basis - if they are so inclined, they can learn to speak a second language later in life.  We enrolled our kids in regular Public school, and things were fine.

    When we packed up and left the suburbs almost four years ago and put down roots near the Shoppe, we had to enroll the kids in a new school.  I was under the impression our only choice of schools would be Devonshire (offering early French Immersion), or Connaught Public School (regular Public, at the time).  In deciding which school to enroll our children in, I was mostly concerned about our son Owen; he was still working on overcoming a considerable speech delay, and according to his teachers at the time, he was lagging behind.  In a casual conversation about school options with someone already living in the neighbourhood, I was ecstatic when I learned our kids were eligible to attend Churchill Alternative School.  I already knew other families who had their children enrolled at Churchill, so I was thrilled that our move had also put us within the school's boundaries. Talk about serendipity!  Now we weren't simply limited to choosing between schools that differed based on whether they offered a French Immersion program or not, we had an Alternative school to consider. 

    When casually discussing school choices with parents of preschoolers, parents often dismiss Churchill on the basis that it doesn't offer an early French Immersion program.  Like all kids in Ottawa, the kids at Churchill receive 40 minutes of core French daily from Grade 1 onwards; starting in Fall 2016, all children in JK will receive 50% of their instruction in French. There are schools in the area that offer a middle Immersion program, so if French is an important factor in your decision in terms of which school to send your child to, Hilson Avenue Public School accepts children in grade four into a French Immersion program - the decision to take advantage of a French Immersion program is not one that must be made when you enroll your child in Junior Kindergarten. 

    Alternative schools teach the same core curriculum as regular schools, but they differ in approach.  My daughter's former teacher (the talented Shauna Pollock) summed up how kids learn at Churchill perfectly with the phrase "Different kids learn in different ways, on different days."  Rather than apply a one-size-fits-all solution to teaching, the teachers manage to engage kids individually. The core tenets the school adheres to foster a sense of caring and respect among students, and it encourages intrinsic learning; children are internally motivated to participate and succeed.  Owen went from struggling at school, and disliking it as a result, to thriving - it was like someone had flipped a switch.  Our other children, despite not 'needing' an Alternative program, loved their new school.  

    At our previous school, like any traditional Public school, our kids received letter grades on their report cards. At Churchill, the report cards do not show a grade (although the report card is filed with the school board with a grade); rather, we receive detailed comments that provide us with a much better sense of how our children are actually faring in class.  The letter grade and canned comments we received from our former school were not helpful, they were just a source of stress for our son, who felt inadequate.  


    What the school lacks in French Immersion it makes up for in a comprehensive music program that culminates at the end of the school year with a community concert.  Our kids went from having zero musical ability to being able to read (and compose!) music by participating in the school's 'Ukulele Club.' There are many secondary benefits of musical instruction that influence children's development; as someone who doesn't harbor any musical talent, I'm glad our kids are getting a chance to tap into a creative outlet they would not have been exposed to otherwise.  In addition to the various music clubs, the teachers run a number of interesting and engaging extracurricular activities at recess that expose children to topics and skills outside of the core curriculum.  Given how taxed teachers already are trying to keep up with the basic demands of their profession, I am really appreciative that they find the time and energy to run these programs.

    The Alternative teaching model encourages parental involvement in the classroom. Although not required by any means, volunteering in our children's classrooms has given me a chance to witness firsthand how they're doing, and it's given me a great opportunity to get to know their peers and their teachers.  Communication at Churchill goes beyond occasional newsletters sent home in backpacks. We receive regular e-mail updates from their teachers, and many teachers maintain a class blog that gives parents a regular peek (including pictures!) into their child's day at school. Updates aside, having access to teachers via e-mail encourages an open dialog; if we've ever had concerns about our children at school, they are easily addressed directly with teachers.  

    I can't speak about the teachers at Churchill without mentioning how highly I think of them. They are kind and compassionate, and above all, they are clearly dedicated to their role as educators. 

    We are incredibly fortunate to be a member of this school community, with four years under our belt, we're officially at the halfway point, and I'm already feeling verklempt about leaving. I think I'll take it harder than the kids when it's time for us to part ways!  Moving to the Hintonburg area was a great choice for our family for a number of reasons, the change in school's was an unforeseen benefit that I'd put at the top of the list.  If you live in the school's catchment area, and you are still debating which school to enroll your child at,  I would strongly suggest you consider Churchill. Weekly tours on Friday mornings give parents considering the school an opportunity to see the Alternative teaching model in action.   









    Thursday, January 14, 2016

    Just keep swimming!

    Are you starting swim classes with your little one?   Perhaps you're heading south to escape the cruel Canadian winter, taking advantage of parental leave and free plane fare for the under-two crowd.  Either way, you may be in the market for a swim diaper



    Swim diapers, unlike regular diapers, are only meant to retain solid waste.  They do not hold urine because they are unable to distinguish between urine and water, and if they were absorbent, swim diapers would pose a hazard because they would swell and become heavy.  For this reason, regardless if you use a washable or single-use swim diaper, you do not want to put your child into a swim diaper until you are ready to get into the pool.

    Will a swim diaper contain runny, breastfed poop?

    Customers are often skeptical of a swim diaper's ability to contain breastfed poop, however, you can rest-assured that if your little one is wearing a swim diaper that fits properly, it will do it's job.  If your baby does poop in the pool, even though it will be contained in the diaper, you will still have to get out and change her swim diaper (a poop in the diaper is still a poop in the pool!).  For this reason, it's a good idea to pack a spare swim diaper 'just in case.'

    What style should I buy?

    Single-use swim diapers pull-on, however, they are made with a tearaway seam at the side of the diaper so you can tear it off.  Washable swim diapers are either pull on, or wrap-style.  Pull-on swim diapers can be a challenge to get on (especially with a small baby), as you have to shimmy that baby into the swim diaper.  Furthermore, if you have to take a poopy swim diaper off, a pull-on swim diaper must be pulled off.   Think about that for a minute.  Easy-on and easy-off aside, a wrap-style swim diaper also offers a customizable fit.

    Sized or one-size?

    It was only a matter of time, but since one-size cloth diapers have become popular, manufacturers have introduced one-size swim diapers to the market.  Given that 'one size fits all' translates to 'one size fits most', we have elected to eschew this new trend.  When the only thing standing between your baby's turd and a pool evacuation is a swim diaper, fit is important. Something that fits well is going to do a better job that something that fits OK.

    Velcro or snaps?

    A wrap-style swim diaper will be secured with snaps or Velcro.  Both offer their own advantages.  Velcro is quick and easy, if you have a diaper Houdini, this can be appealing (especially when you're trying to negotiate a public pool changeroom!).  Some people prefer snaps because they don't like the feeling of Velcro rubbing against their skin or bathing suit if they are holding their baby on their hip.

    Can I use a regular old diaper as a swim diaper?

    You can, but we would only recommend it in a pinch.  Regular diapers are sized assuming there is an insert in there, so an empty diaper (or diaper cover) will fit differently with nothing in it.  Furthermore, regular diapers are laminated, so they will hold fluid in the pool (like a plastic bag, it will catch water, when you pick your baby up out of the water, or move them through the water - a swim diaper will allow water to filter through the fabric).  If you do use a regular diaper in a pinch in a public swimming pool, be sure to rinse it properly immediately after you leave the pool - public pools are typically highly chlorinated, and chlorine can ruin your diapers laminate.

    Happy swimming!





    Tuesday, December 1, 2015

    If the Mountain Won't Come to Mohammad...

    As soon as you have a baby, your baby's sleep habits will become fodder for conversation with friends, families, and random strangers who feel the need to inquire about a subject that, until you became a parent, is usually quite private.  Before having children, I can't recall a grocery cashier ringing up my eggs, then casually asking how my nights are going, can you?  I didn't think so.  I don't think such questions are ill-intentioned, it's just the equivalent of 'weather speak' between parents, a subject meant to fill in those awkward pauses.  Banal, yes, but a subtle way of enforcing the idea that babies should sleep well at night. 

    In recent years, an entire industry seems to have sprung up around the idea that babies should 'sleep through the night.' A recent baby show in Ottawa featured no less than five sleep consultants, all vying for the hard-earned dollars of sleep-deprived parents visiting the show.  Until they are thrown into it, nothing prepares new parents for the lack of sleep that having a baby entails.  It's no wonder sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique used to extract information, it's just as effective at extracting money from the wallets of tired parents who are willing to do just about anything to catch a few extra zzzz's at night.  Forget about the post-baby sleep banter mothers have been subjected to in the past, sleep consultants are now working hard to reinforce the idea that babies should sleep through the night at a young age before a baby is even born, offering workshops to parents-to-be that promise a '100% success rate' (note: no money-back guarantee!), claiming to offer tips that will ensure good sleep habits from day one.  Day one!!!

    Self-proclaimed 'sleep consultants' will list the many benefits of getting your child to sleep in long chunks at an early age, if you were to believe their claims, children who wake regularly through the night will grow up to be out-of-control dullards who will fail at life (of course, I'm paraphrasing, but the gist of their promise is that interrupted sleep at a young age will encourage brain development and good behavior).  While I won't argue that sleep *is* important, I would argue that the idea that young babies should 'sleep through the night' is unrealistic, and from a biological standpoint, not ideal. 

    The reality is that when your baby is born, she will have a very small tummy.  Newborns must wake frequently to eat frequently, because their small tummy's simply cannot hold much liquid.  Furthermore, breastmilk is quickly digested, which provides another reason for babies to wake regularly.

    Nutritional needs aside, like adults, babies wake frequently at night for a myriad of other reasons. They are cold, they are warm, they heard a loud noise, or maybe they just want reassurance that a parent is nearby.  Whatever the reason, sleep disruptions are normal, and do not reflect on your baby or your ability as a parent.  

    While sleep consultants will promise you tips and tricks to get your baby to sleep long stretches, I'm a little skeptical of their claims.  Babies are not machines, they do not come with user guides, no two babies are alike in terms of temperament and needs.  Some babies may self-soothe to sleep from day one, many (most!) won't; some babies may sleep long stretches at an early age, many (most!) won't. 

    As an example, our first daughter only woke once through the night basically from birth.  The rest of the lot (three of them!) woke many times a night, for many years.  Yes, it was tiring, but we got through it, and while I can remember being tired, sometimes to the point of tears, as our children get older and more independent, I miss the special moments that those middle-of-the-night wakeups afforded us (OK, mainly me).  

    On this last point, if you are reading this, and you are a severely sleep-deprived parent, you probably want to reach through the screen right now and punch me in the throat because I sound like a total asshole telling you to enjoy waking up eleventy million times a night because you will miss it one day, but trust me, I'm right (I ususally am).  Bookmark this page and come back to it in 10 years and re-read it, and you'll issue a silent apology to me, and maybe shed a tear or two when you wonder where the last 10 years went.  You'll probably also be googling "How can I get my child to wake up on time for school?" because guess what? You will actually never be happy about your child's sleep habits (true story).  If they're not sleeping enough, they're sleeping too much...

    So, what are you supposed to do then?  Where are the tips you thought I was going to offer that would solve all of your sleep problems?  Here it is.  Wait for it.  Are you ready???  Sleep when the baby sleeps.  Nap through the day, or go to bed early.  No, it's not fun, but it's a way to catch up on that desperately needed sleep.  The baby will only sleep on you?  Get a good carrier and carry your baby while she sleeps.  You are not creating 'bad habits', you are meeting her needs.  Baby never sleeps?  Call a friend or family member, and ask for help.  Someone in your life will gladly hold your grumpy baby while you catch a few zzz's.  Baby is waking multiple times through the night?  Bring the baby into your room, or into your bed, or ask your partner to pitch in - that may mean getting up with the baby through the night, or it may mean letting you sleep-in in the morning.  I often hear new mothers suggest their partners *can't* help with nighttime duty because they work. Guess what?  Mothers work too, and their job is just as important.  Nighttime parenting should not fall on one parent's shoulders.

    Most importantly, above all, if you simply acknowledge that your baby's crap sleep habits are normal, you'll feel better about the situation.  Adjusting your own ideas of what's 'ideal' will leave you less likely to feel pressured to force your child to adopt what may be an unrealistic sleep routine for your child.