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With the New Year around the corner you are probably planning your most Savvy resolution to date. This year you will make a plan and stick to it, but before you go crunching that heart out, or latching on to the next craze diet, try these seven tips to flatten your tummy, and help your resolution become a reality.
So make a resolution this year that is not only going to help you get your pre-baby tummy back, but will help you feel healthier too, and all without doing the dreaded crunches.
As a trainer and mom, kegels are very close to my heart (not physically, but emotionally). This muscle needs to be tightened and toned for prenatal, postnatal and beyond. Pelvic floor muscles are just like other muscles: exercise makes them stronger, and kegels are an exercise that you can begin at any age or fitness level. The muscles in your pelvis attach to the front, back and sides of the pelvic bone. The two most important muscles in postnatal recovery are the transverse abdominus (the sling muscles that held your baby in your belly as you grew) and the kegels. In order to engage your kegels, you must engage your transverse, so it’s a win-win when you practice your kegels.
Remembering to work on your kegels can be challenging, so make a daily schedule that includes time for them. Make sure taking care of you doesn’t fall off the list in 2010.
A friend forwarded this illuminating quote to me:
The Living Will
“Last night, my kids and I were sitting in the living room and I said to them ‘If I am ever very ill and dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle…please if it ever happens, just pull the plug’.
They got up, unplugged the computer, and threw out my wine.”
There are so many reasons we mamas, myself definitely included, love our computers. Just to name a few:
This holiday season I opted out of dragging six kids around crowded shopping malls. Sure, I could have tried to shop while the kids scaled escalators or got soaked trying to clear pennies from the bottom of the water fountain. Instead I put the kids to bed, poured a glass of wine and did all my seasonal shopping online in an hour.
No longer does a social occasion require me to get showered and gussied up. I can hang out with my girlfriends on one of the many mama message boards out there, or participate in any of the popular Twitter #GNOs. The best part—hair is in a ponytail and flannel PJs are on. How’s that for a social life without the hassles of getting out the door or paying a babysitter? Though I do occasionally try to get out for an ‘in real life’ girls’ night, my bailout rate is far lower with my online friends!
What better way is there to catch up with your high school friends without having to lose 10 lbs in time for the reunion? If you can handle dealing with friend requests from folks like that creepy guy you smooched when you were 20, you can use Facebook as an easy way to get connected, stay connected, and share information. Quite simply, it’s time efficient and what savvy moms don’t value that? And for those of you not sold on Twitter—get on the Twitter bus—getting and giving updates in 140 characters easily fits into any busy mama’s schedule.
So if our kids were to unplug our computers and throw out our wine, there would be serious implications. What mamas find in our online communities is likely what makes us more sane and rational. Maybe we’re not hooked up to machines and fluids just yet, but our kiddos should think twice before messing with a tech-savvy mama’s other lifelines!
Sometimes we set our expectations too high, too low or we have none at all when it comes to our baby’s sleep. It is healthy to have realistic and positive expectations for achieving good sleep habits in the home. Here are some ‘peace-of-mind tidbits’ to help you relax—mentally and physically.
Expect motherhood to guide you to solutions and perpetually transform your expectations. The more well-rested and relaxed you are, the easier it will be to adjust to the constantly changing world of motherhood.
While there are many advantages to working from home, there is no point unless you can find an appropriate space to do business without interruption. Here are some simple recommendations on how to run a successful home office and keep the peace at home.
Winning the 2009 SavvyMom Mom Entrepreneur of the Year Award has been an incredible journey and a wonderful opportunity for me. I am so honoured that my community, family, friends and exhibitors worked so hard to campaign with me to help bring in the votes I needed to win this prestigious award.
I learned that there is real strength in the connections we make and how incredibly important it is for small business owners to support each other. It’s impossible to go it alone, and I feel very lucky to be surrounded by such amazing people.
The campaigning was fun and a perfect opportunity to get out there and ‘toot my own horn’. I got out into the community, talked to people about the Vancouver Island Baby Fair, had face-to-face contact and asked them to go online and vote for me. That was an important element—despite being an online voting contest, I was making real-life connections with people that mattered, whether I won or not.
When you work in a home office, it can be a bit isolating, so being named the SavvyMom Mom Entrepreneur of the Year for 2009 was incredibly validating as a business owner. It was a real eye-opener for me to see how much my community cares about the Vancouver Island Baby Fair and appreciates the work that I put into it.
As if the recognition and title were not fabulous enough, the prizes I received have been absolutely priceless. From PR consultations, SEO improvements and productivity advice, to mentorship and money to invest in my business, I was given a life-changing boost to my career as an entrepreneur.
Winning the SavvyMom Mom Entrepreneur of the Year Award has been a wonderful personal achievement, and a truly outstanding opportunity.
It was a real honour to win the 2009 SavvyMom Entrepreneur of the Year Award. After months of campaigning, telling people about the Vancouver Island Baby Fair and asking for their votes, the results finally came in!
SavvyMom announced that I was the winner the week before the Vancouver Island Baby Fair last September—which was perfect timing for me. I was thrilled to be able to send that message out right before the fair as it helped build excitement and increase exposure for the event.
Then the phone calls and emails came in! From the media, those who had supported my campaign, to Baby Fair exhibitors, and even people I didn’t know. Everyone called to say congratulations and tell me how thrilled they were that their vote and effort made a difference.
The great thing about the SavvyMom award is that it forces small business owners to get out there and tell people about their business. So many business owners have amazing ideas, great products or services, and incredible talent, but unless you let people know about yourself, what’s the point?
Working with the other women entrepreneurs who provided the prizing for the award has been an invaluable experience. While the SavvyMom folks put a dollar value to the prize, I can say that it truly is priceless to have this kind of personal access to such amazing business support!
I’ve been learning so much from working with these remarkable women. The opportunity to have all this wisdom, experience and guidance is such an incredible opportunity for which I am very grateful.
Also I’d like to give another big thank you to Sarah, Minnow and the team at SavvyMom for supporting and encouraging women business owners with the SavvyMom Entrepreneur of the Year Award program!
I’m just like every other parent—busy. We have two children, Beckett who is turning three soon and Zoë, almost two. I work full-time for CTV and I’m eight-months pregnant with baby number three.
Although I believe that you can have it all, I also believe that some things have to be prioritized. I never go to after-work parties, restaurant openings, fashion shows, movies—all the events I went to before I had kids. I come straight home every single night because I want to put my kids to bed—and because I’m so freaking tired. I’m a natural homebody, so this is easy for me.
I choose sleep over the gym. I’d rather be chubby and well-rested than skinny and tired. I have great support. My husband and I have weird hours, so we are lucky to have family close by. We also chose to have a nanny and put Beckett in part-time daycare because it has been instrumental in his growth. Beckett has Down syndrome, so anything we can do to encourage and nurture his development is a priority in our family.
Some tips that help me find balance:
Finding balance is truly a work in progress.
On a recent summer evening, I was putting my five year-old daughter to sleep when she suddenly turned to me and said:
“When I grow up, I don’t want to be a mom.”
“Really,” I replied. “Why?”
“Because it’s too much work.”
Laughing to myself, I vowed to write this one down. This was a conversation I wanted to remember. But I fell asleep and forgot all about it. Until now.
We all have those moments as mothers—precious, challenging, earth shattering—and by writing them down, we make them into unforgettable memories. When you’re feeling nostalgic, you can go back through your notebook and remember. When your child asks you what they were like when they were two, you can read them a snippet of conversation, or share a funny story.
It’s probably safe to say most mothers want a written record of their journey through motherhood, but there are many obstacles on the path that can prevent you from getting started. Here’s a short list of how to overcome those obstacles.
Keeping your family memories alive does not have to be time-consuming, but it does require some discipline.
It’s not easy to get up and read a personal story about your post-baby marriage breakdown in front of a group of strangers. But that is what I regularly ask my writing students to do. Bare your soul on a piece of paper and then read it out loud. I give them topics and a time limit and they come back (mostly beginner writers) looking sheepish and scared. They always start off with a disclaimer: “I don’t really like this, but…” or “I didn’t really know what to say, but…”. Always, the stories are interesting. Always, the group of strangers becomes friends.
It’s amazing what sharing your personal stories can do to transform your confidence and your connections with other moms. Here’s a short-list of benefits to baring your soul:
We often hide from the truth, pretend everything is fine, believe we can manage. But motherhood is hard, and sharing our stories can help us connect and feel less isolated and alone.
There’s a new industry that has emerged as an offshoot of one of the oldest professions in the world. It’s dirty, often takes place late at night behind closed doors, and creates controversy in terms of what’s really right and what’s really wrong. That’s right: Parenthood. But fear no longer, because today it is recognized that just because you actually are a parent doesn’t mean you’re necessarily qualified to be a parent, or that you should be expected to take on said parental duties.
Enter the Baby Concierge.
When I first heard this term, I immediately conjured up an image of the gravelly voice, cigar smoking, diaper-clad gangster baby we met in Bugs Bunny (Baby Face Finster, to be precise), cutting deals for Broadway shows, getting you into the best parties, finding a real sweet deal on some electronics, all from the comfort of his padded stroller. But I did a little research and apparently I should have been thinking more along the lines of a wedding planner.
As the mother of four children, I know the words ‘plan’ and ‘parenting’ really only go together as a birth control strategy, but Baby Concierge services will try to convince you that they can take the stress out of almost everything baby related for you, right from the moment the line on the stick turns blue. From doulas to diapers, nursing to nurseries and post-partum to pre-school, they can find the professional product or service to make your entrance into the world of Mommyhood or Daddydom a piece of baby-shower cake.
While I absolutely admire the intentions of these well-meaning service professionals to aid parents in their time of greatest need (and make a tidy profit as well, which as a capitalist, I also admire), there are some moments I feel that every parent should experience for themselves in order to wear the title parent, and not just Chief Procreation Officer. For instance:
Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for finding new, convenient and easy ways to do things, so perhaps I’m just a tad jealous these services weren’t around when I had a newborn. But in the spirit of growing and learning, I’m going to take a page from Finster’s playbook and find my own padded stroller to operate from. Minus the cigar.
I have never felt so exhausted in my life.
Ah, yes. There’s exhaustion—and then there’s the extreme exhaustion of early parenthood. And being tired is only the half of it. You’re forgetful, emotional, irritable, and you feel like a zombie. And your ability to figure out ways to problem-solve your way out of this sleep deprivation labyrinth are, well, non-existent.
That’s why you need other people to help problem-solve this one for you—parents who’ve been there, not-slept-through-that, and lived to tell. Here are five quick tips from veterans of the sleep deprivation trenches.
Embrace the mantra of all wise mamas: this too shall pass. And it will. It’s just hard to remember that right now.
Will baby number two be hard on my marriage?
It is tough to stay connected with your partner once you start to have children. Instead of having the luxury of devoting time to one another whenever the mood strikes, you have other people—tiny people—competing for your attention. And they have powerful strategies for ensuring that their wants and needs become top priority at any given time—like screaming and crying.
The good news is that you’ve already been down this path before as a couple. This time around, you’ll be more prepared for the realities of parenting a newborn and the toll that sleep deprivation can take on everything from your mood to your energy level to your libido.
Don’t assume, however, that because you’re old pros that you can handle this round on your own. Accept any and all offers of help. If friends and relatives want to come over and help you catch up on laundry, or they offer to drop off a few meals for you, that’s less time you have to spend on those chores and more time you can spend enjoying your kids and connecting with one another.
Think about what worked the first time—what you learned through the School of Hard Knocks—and apply that wisdom to your life this time around, too.
Be extra kind to your partner. You’re both struggling with sleep deprivation, increased responsibilities, and cascading emotions. One or both of you might even be battling something more serious than the blues: up to 3% of new fathers experience depression after their babies are born, with fathers whose partners are experiencing postpartum depression being at particular risk of experiencing problems with depression themselves.
Stay connected. Find little ways to stay connected as a couple during the postpartum period (a time when everything can seem strange, new, and unsettled) and as you begin to establish new routines as a couple with another child. Hold hands when you can, even if it’s only for 15 seconds. Text your partner a love note when inspiration strikes. Keep the spark alive, even if you haven’t had sex in weeks.
Share your hopes and dreams. If you have a strong vision of what you are working toward together (a strong family with happy, healthy kids and loving parents), you’ll find it easier to get through the long days and even longer nights of early parenthood. When you’re singing to the baby and your partner is reading to the toddler, you’ll feel a powerful connection to your partner, knowing that you’re both on the same page: that you both want the same happy tomorrows for your kids and for one another.
Stick with it and you’ll find those short moments can grow into longer, memorable ones.
From mama bears to mama birds, the instinctual ferocity of a mother to protect her young extends to every species. Mothers are hard-wired to protect and rescue their babies, fend off predators and provide a nurturing home environment. Fathers of course, have their own instinctual drives to provide and care for their families, and it is predominantly male attributes that have shaped the world’s businesses and governments. Throughout the women’s movements of the 1960s and 70s, women often took on ‘male traits’ to be successful in a ‘man’s world’. In today’s post-feminist world, however, we see women rising to the top on the merits of their own very female traits.
We’re talking about ‘mamisma’—female strength, resilience and grace under pressure. It’s kind of like machismo, only driven by a female instinct for getting things done in a collaborative, supportive, compassionate manner. Many politicians today bring their mamisma to the table. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, is one of the most respected leaders trying to calmly steer the Eurozone out of its debt troubles. Thailand, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica, Australia, India, Ireland, Croatia, Iceland and Finland are all countries that currently have female presidents or prime ministers who are leading with their mamisma.
Here in Canada, Dr. Samantha Nutt—co-founder and Executive Director of War Child Canada—exemplifies mamisma in action as one of the country’s most prominent anti-war activists. Dr. Nutt has worked in some of the world’s most violent war zones, providing hands-on help to women and children. She also works at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto and at the University of Toronto in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Named by Time Magazine as one of Canada’s Five Leading Activists, by the World Economic Forum as one of 200 top young global leaders, and by The Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, the 41-year old Dr. Nutt was recently appointed to the Order of Canada.
So, how can we apply our own mamisma to our roles at work? What are the mamisma traits that make a female leader exceptional? Here are a few tips.
The world needs more mothers
Whether you have children or not, you are blessed with the inner female instincts that can equip you to become a powerful mama-bear, among your friends, colleagues and community. We are fortunate to live in a world today where people of all nations are celebrating the virtues of womanhood and using mamisma to make the world a better place. Now get out there and let’s hear you roar!
Actress and comedian Amy Poehler was recently named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People”. At the award gala in New York, Amy used her acceptance speech to give a shout out to the women who help care for her two children. She encouraged working women everywhere to take a moment to thank their nannies and babysitters: “Those are people who love your children as much as you do, and who inspire them and influence them.”
According to ivillage.com, nearly three-quarters of moms are juggling jobs and families. A recent poll by ivillage.com and TodayMoms.com found that nearly 70 percent of working moms would choose to have an assistant at home rather than an assistant at the office.
Decisions around childcare can be overwhelming. For those without extended family to help take care of the kids, it’s even more fraught with complications. Do you choose daycare or a nanny? If a nanny, live-in or live-out? Does it even make sense to go back to work if your entire paycheque ends up paying for the childcare?
Daycare or not to daycare?
Going by the price of daycare, Ontario is the most expensive province in which to raise a child. The average daycare cost for childcare in Ontario ranges from $33/day for a school-age child to $57/day for an infant. Manitoba offers parents some of the lowest daycare rates, between an average of $15/day for a school-age child to $28/day for an infant.
How much for Mary Poppins?
No matter the province, however, daycare rates tend to be much higher in cities than in rural areas. For urban working moms or those with two or three kids to pay for, hiring a nanny is sometimes more economical than daycare.
According to Today’s Parent, the average weekly salary for a live-out nanny ranges between $450-$750. For a live-in nanny, the average weekly salary is $300 plus room and board. Again, wages vary widely depending on the province you are in.
If you’re planning to sponsor your nanny from abroad, The Human Resources and Skills Development Canada website posts all the wages and requirements you need to know, organized by province, under the “Live-in Caregiver Program”.
What help does the government provide?
For working parents, childcare expenses can be deducted on your tax return through the Working Income Tax Benefit (WIBT). Generally speaking, the lower-income spouse can deduct the childcare expenses up to a maximum of $7,000 for each child under the age of seven, and $4,000 for each child between the ages of seven to sixteen.
A disability tax credit is also available for kids with physical or mental impairments and the age limit is broader than for other kids. Childcare expenses in this case may be deducted up to a maximum of $10,000.
Remember to keep your receipts for these expenses. A guide to eligible expenses can be found on the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) website, Form T778. Be aware that the total deduction for these expenses cannot exceed two-thirds of your earned income.
In addition to tax credits, the federal and provincial governments offer programs to help with childcare costs based on income, such as the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB). The federal government also provides a Universal Childcare Benefit (UCCB) of $100 a month for each child under the age of six, irrespective of your family income. (While it won’t make much of a dent in daycare fees, that should cover babysitting for a couple date nights out for mom and dad, at the very least!)
To help you sort out what you may be eligible for, check with CRA’s benefits calculator or better yet, talk to your tax advisor.
The choice to stay at home
According to insure.com, an online American insurance brokerage and information site, if you were to pay professional service providers to do all the various tasks and errands a typical mom does in a year, it would cost $61,436. This includes activities such as cooking, driving, cleaning, party planning, shopping and keeping an eye on those kids. With childcare directly responsible for about half of that cost, it makes financial sense for many women to choose not to work outside the home.
As a sidebar, insure.com makes a great point that the “hidden costs” of all these services provided by mom ought to be insured. Quite often couples ensure they have life insurance for the breadwinner and forget that the person who stays at home with the kids should be covered by adequate life insurance as well.
So many decisions
The childcare choice is ultimately a highly personal one. Only you know what the right kind of care is for your family. For those working moms who have helpers, whether family members, daycare centres or nannies, there is no doubt they would consider these caregivers worth their weight in gold.
As Amy said at the Time 100 gala: “On behalf of every sister and mother and person who stands in your kitchen and helps you love your child, I say thank you—and I celebrate you tonight.” Let’s all go home and do the same!