Summertime Tips from a Floridian

Guys, it’s summer. No, I don’t mean “summer beach party” summer.

 I mean… It’s hotter than a goats ass in a pepper patch, dog days of summer…summer time. 

 We’ve hit that beautiful time of year where your makeup melts off of your face on the walk from your front door to the car. The second you get in the car, you feel like you’ve stepped into the 3rd layer of hell. You immediately forget about turning into one of those ugly blob fish because grabbing your steering wheel is the equivalence of shaking hands with a volcano. 

It’s Hot!

Now, I’m not calling myself a heat expert, but as a Florida Native, I’ve lived in the hell pit known as Florida long enough to have learned a few things about heat. So I wanted to share a few things about summer (here in Florida, especially) for those people who have not had the amazing pleasure to have felt this glorious weather. 

Summer Time Tips

  1. Deodorant is a requirement. Matter of fact… go ahead and throw on a second layer of that bad boy, and while you’re at it, throw a stick in your bag too. Reapplication is the name of the game. The people around you will thank you. 
  2. Drink more water. Only rookies get dehydrated. Seriously, it sounds crazy, but bring a bottle of water with you… EVERYWHERE! It’s amazing how dehydrated you get in humid weather. 
  3. Grab yourself a nice set of gloves or a steering wheel rag. Remember the volcano steering wheel above? Unless you’re trying to remove those fingerprints for…um… reasons… you may want to throw something like a towel over the volcano wheel or on your hands because your steering wheel will feel like it’s on fire. Or, if you’re special like me, just hop in the car and sit in the driveway for about 10 minutes with the vents turned to the steering wheel letting the A/C blow on it full blast to cool it down just enough to be able to touch it. 
  4. Speaking of hot, you know those amazing leather seats that you just had to have for your car, well I hope they look good with a beach towel on them because your thighs are going to melt to them without it. 
  5.  Put on some sunblock, yes even if you’re just going to be in your car or walking into a store. I learned the hard way, yes even as a Floridian, that sunblock is important even in a car. I may or may not have walked around with a sunburn in the shape of a Mitsubishi steering wheel for two weeks. So unless you want to walk around looking like Two-Face from Batman…Throw on a quick layer before you head out or have on some makeup with a bit of SPF to help protect your skin.
  6. Don’t be afraid to walk around looking like you’ve just dropped out of Victorian Era London.Umbrellas were not just meant for rain. Umbrellas can be a great way to break the sun and heat while you’re out and about. 
  7. Portable fans are a girls real best friend. For around $15 to $20, you too can be the proud owner of a fan that you can hang around your neck or strap onto a stroller. 
  8. Fun fat- Florida is one of the few states that allows you to break a window of a vehicle, without consequence, if there is an animal or vulnerable person, in a non running vehicle to help save them. So if you’re walking by a car in a parking lot and happen to see a child, dog, cat, bird… whatever, in a non-running vehicle and the owner of the vehicle is not around, don’t be afraid to go all Brittney Spears circa 2007 on the window. You can read more about that law here.

Now let’s talk about some important things.

Heat exhaustion and Heat stroke are real.

They don’t discriminate against age, race, or sexual orientation. So be prepared and know the symptoms to keep yourself safe.

Heat Exhaustion:

Symptoms to look out for:

  1. Dark urine
  2. You start sweating more than a sinner in church
  3. Headache
  4. You pass out harder than a groomsmen who’s locked his knees in a wedding
  5. Muscle or abdominal cramps
  6. You’re more confused than that cat with a flower on it’s head
  7. fatigue
  8. nausea , vomiting, diarrhea… and no that’s not a pepto commercial…

 

If you notice any of those symptoms get yourself into a cool environment, an air conditioned building is the best option and rest for a bit. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids, toss in a bottle of gatorade or pedialyte to help rebuild electrolytes as well. You can also implement cooling measures such as loosen clothing, placing a cool rag on the back of the neck or under the armpits and behind the knees, take a cool shower or bath. If you’re outdoors and not able to get inside, you can also try soaking in a cool pond or other body of water. 

Heat stroke

Okay time to get serious here for a second. Heat stroke is extremely serious and requires immediate medical attention. If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or in someone you’re with, seek immediate help from an ER or call 911. 

  1. Throbbing headache.
  2. Dizziness and light-headedness.
  3. Lack of sweating despite the heat.
  4. Red, hot, and dry skin.
  5. Muscle weakness or cramps.
  6. Nausea and vomiting.
  7. Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak.
  8. Rapid, shallow breathing.

 

So to all of my internet friends out there, may your summers be fun and your A/C be plentiful. 

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The Struggle of Finding Your Identity after becoming a Mother

The Purpose Beyond Motherhood

Motherhood is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. It’s given me a sense of purpose and meaning outside of living just for myself. That being said, I’ve found, like many other mothers, that motherhood can also be overwhelming and honestly a bit distracting from other passions you may have pursued prior to diving head first into mom life. For many women like myself, who have taken that incredibly scary leap into being a stay at home mom and especially a homeschooling stay at home mom, you can have a tendency to kind of lose your sense of self. Everything suddenly is about the kids and your family instead of email inbox politics and office water cooler drama. Your project management skills suddenly shift from navigating the best sales proposals for your team to negotiating what constitutes a “bite” of broccoli with your toddler.

Now before I go any further into this, I am by no means complaining about being able to be a stay at home mom. I love the fact that I have this opportunity to be home with my children and to educate them. No, what I want to bring up here is the question that many women have, and that’s…How can we have a sense of purpose or fulfill our passions outside of motherhood? 

How do you rediscover your identity, without neglecting the family?

This can be kind of a touchy subject. I think for many women, motherhood is their ultimate purpose in life. They’ve dreamed about it since they were children and that is absolutely awesome. These women rock their motherhood title like no body’s business, and that’s great. For many other women, they wrestle with the idea of losing their identify and find that exploring passion projects beyond mom life can be a bit of a challenge. There’s no right or wrong way to wear the mom badge, everyone is going to have a little different experience based off of what exactly they are wanting to do.

Let’s face it, being a woman is complicated. Being a mom is even more complicated. We are professionals with well-established careers. We are entrepreneurs with a desire to go out and create something new and watch it blow up. We are lovers, wive, and free-spirited individuals. We have many different hats to wear, and sometimes wearing them all seems impossible. So how do we do it all?

I’ve always had a desire to help people. Growing up, I always wanted to be either a physician or nurse practitioner. I loved medicine, and to me, that was the ultimate way to help people. I went to high school and actually managed to graduate with my Certified Nursing Assistant license and became a Patient Care Technician shortly after my first child was born. Sadly things were derailed a bit for me after a car accident and lifting heavy patients was just no longer an option. Add in the lack of time I had from working to attend college, and I sadly abandoned my goals for a desk job, still within medicine but working on the back end helping with insurance and billing and EDI. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing, but I was still helping people which I enjoyed.

When I became pregnant with baby number 3 is when I made the leap to being a stay at home mom, and shortly after that was when I noticed that my passion for helping others was slowly dwindling, and I became consumed by the day to day work of being a mom. It wasn’t until just recently that I realized how far on the back burner I had placed myself and my passions and realized above all, I had lost my identity and I needed to make some changes.

Everything I had once loved… music, reading, hanging out with friends had all been pushed aside, and I had allowed myself to be overwhelmed by motherhood. So what do I do about this? How can I get back into all of those things that I once found purpose in and incorporate them into motherhood?

The short and not so sweet answer is “you can’t” and the longer answer is “it’s complicated”. Every mother’s journey back to self discovery is different, we’re all like snowflakes…maternal snowflakes. Just like Simba’s vision of Mufasa telling him to “remember who you are”, a simple spark is often all it takes to start realizing “hmm, maybe I need some me time”. And frankly, the ultimate answer here is time. Your husband or partner wants you to be happy, and if they’re worth keeping around, they’ll graciously help you by lending this precious commodity of time to help rediscover your pre-mom roots, after all who you “were” is who they fell in love with the first place.

While I don’t have all the self discovery answers, for me I really enjoy self improvement – going to the gym, exploring new music, and reading. Starting the long process of reshaping my body after my five little lovely monsters wrecked it during 45 total months of pregnancy has proven to be a great catalyst for me. As an accompaniment to my workouts I’ve rediscovered music I haven’t listened to since high school and listened to new audiobooks from my favorite authors. For someone else, the answer may be to enroll in college and slowly works towards a degree. Or setting aside time for themselves to go to a library and read as many books on physics as they can to self educate in a subject or to further their education. For others, it may be, finally making themselves take culinary classes or just practice a specific culinary style until they’ve perfected it because they have a passion for cooking or baking. Or traveling around the world seeing as much of the world as you can, children in toe.

The important thing though is to understand that it is perfectly okay to have a passion that lies outside of motherhood. To have and to fulfill a purpose other than just raising children. This is going to look different for everyone. The road may be steep and at times feel overwhelming, but for you to be the best mother that you can be for your children. For you to be able to set the best example for your children as possible, you need to be able to live your life with a sense of purpose and satisfaction that one can only get by fulfilling their own passions.

 

 

The Oh Shit car kit

Let’s face it, there are going to be mornings where shit happens and you’re half way through the drop off line at school. For these emergency situations, I highly recommend having your “Oh S.H.I.T.” (S.H.I.T. – Situational Handy Items Traveler) kit in the car to keep you from having to run back to the house and make everyone late for the day. Now, I’m not talking about your typical car emergency kit here. I’m talking about an emergency kit for when shit hits the fan. This may seem weird, but trust me, at some point you will need to use it and you’ll be very thankful you have it. 

Has someone just yelled out from the backseat “Mom, I just spilled … on my…”? Maybe someone tells you as you pull in to drop the kids off “I forgot my lunch”. Or maybe it’s an “Oh No!!! I need…” situation. Try to have it covered in you car kit to help save your morning destroying, gas draining, tardy slip inducing trip back to the house to fix the emergency. 

What to keep in your kit

I try to think of anything that could possibly go wrong in the morning and be prepared for it in my kit. Now, I know, you may not be able to think of EVERYTHING because kids can have some weird shit happen to them, but as situations arise, that you may not have prepared for before… add it to the kit as well to save yourself from the events happening again. 

Make sure that you restock whatever you use, so it’s ready for the next time. God knows, I’ve been known to use something in an emergency and forget to restock it. Then when I need it again, I’m up shit creek without a paddle. So, I guess what I’m saying here, is don’t be me. Restock the kit!

Money

It’s inevitable, at some point one of the kids is going to forget their lunch or maybe they forget to tell you that field trip money is due today. For these kinds of events, I recommend keeping $30 in $1’s in an envelope in your kit. Plus it’s great for the $1 menu when you get a sudden urge or are stress eating from the kids fighting all morning. 

Clothes

If your family is anything like mine, someone, at some point, is going to have some kind of accident. Either a pen leaks, or they spill a drink, or they actually have an accident. Be prepared and have a change of clothes stashed in your kit for each child. Underwear, socks, and something to wear. I like to keep a dress for the girls and some shorts with a t-shirt for the boys. Keep it simple and easy to change into. 

Empty ziplock

This can have many uses! Kid feels sick? Whip it out and let them barf in the nag. Kid had an accident? Let them throw the soiled clothing into the bag. Something leak in the lunchbox? Toss it in the bag. I love keeping an empty gallon ziplock or two on hand at all times.

Wipes

Baby wipes are pretty much the universal cleaning tool for all parents. It can be used on pretty much all surfaces without fear of causing damage. Plus it works great at keeping my cars dash and steering wheel looking AMAZING! So keep a to-go pack of these in the kit to help clean up little spills and mess that may arise. 

Diapers

If you have a baby or toddler, chances are that you may have to change a diaper here and there. Chances are even better that this may have to happen while you’re out if you have to sit in the pick up line after school… those things are the devil! So be prepared and have one or two diapers with you. 

A pen

Kids like to surprise us with those field trip slips and things to sign. Have a pen handy to sign the papers in the car when they pull them up. 

Hair care

SO picture this… you’ve got two screaming kids, one is refusing to put on their clothes. Another has to finish their homework.. and the baby just had a blow out. So you rush out of the house, once everyone is ready, only to realize halfway to school that no one has brushed their hair. I know I’ve run out of the house several times forgetting to brush or style the kids hair. Having a hairbrush, hair ties, and hair gel on hand makes doing a quick in car hairstyle much easier. It may not look like a Instagram baby hairstyle… but at least they don’t look like a rats made a nest in their dome fluff. 

**On a side-note: Make sure not to leave hairspray in the car during the Summer. The cans can explode if they get too hot… I may or may not have learned this one the hard way…Let’s just say the baby wipes came in handy. 

Personal care items

Travel toothbrushes, mouthwash, deodorant are all kept inside the kit in case someone forgot to take care of business before heading out. No dumpster kids are leaving my car and heading into a public place. 

Emergency things

Triple antibiotic, bandages, alcohol wipes, wet wipes, bug spray, sunscreen, tweezers, a little light. Because lord knows, in that 20 feet between the front door and the car, something is bound to happen. 

A backpack

You’ve got all this crap that you have to put in your vehicle… how the hell do you do it without it going everywhere? I’ve found that the easiest thing to keep all of this in, is a backpack. It’s big enough to keep everything I need for 7 people yet small enough and portable enough to just throw in the back of the car or take in places as needed. 

These kits are pretty easy to assemble and easy to keep in even the smallest of cars. The things that you keep in there should be non perishable (Obviously) and should not be aerosol based (again… these will explode and scare the sh** out of you when you least expect it) because they can become dangerous if left in these ridiculously hot cars in the summer. Hopefully having this ready will keep you from having to waste another morning traveling back and forth to the house during non-emergency, emergencies. 

Don’t forget to join the GnG fam by clicking on that follow button before you head out, for more real world tips and tricks from a large family mom. Also, make sure you’re following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Breastfeeding Essentials

One of the benefits of breastfeeding is that you don’t need a lot of gadgets and gizmos to help you do it. For the most part, if you’ve got at least one breast, you’re pretty much set. It’s why a lot of people like breastfeeding so much… it saves a ton of money.

That being said, there are some things out there that can make breastfeeding a much more comfortable and enjoyable experience for all of us moms.

Things every breastfeeding mom should have. 

Nursing Pillows

I say this all of the time…nursing pillows are where it’s at! They help to support the baby so that your back and arms don’t get worn out and will help you to achieve better holds for your nursing baby. They can also be a great source of back support in those first few weeks when your core muscles are like jelly and you find yourself slouching every time you sit down. Plus, once the baby gets a little older and you no longer have to use it to support them, they turn into a perfect laptop table! WIN WIN WIN!!!

Nipple Cream

Nipple creams will be your best friend those first few months while you breastfeed your new baby. There are a ton of different options out there. My personal favorites are the ol’ reliable Lansinoh hpa Lanolin that you can find pretty much everywhere. It’s been around for a long time and is pretty much the go to remedy for chapped irritated nipples. I also really like Boobease 100% organic healing nipple balm. I’ve found this on both Amazon and at Target stores. It’s a thick balm that helped heal irritation really quickly and a small jar lasted for a long time. Both of these also make a great dry skin cure too. I love using them on my hands and lips during the winter time instead of lotions of lip balms.

Breast Pads

Even if you don’t find yourself leaking like a faucet every time you see your baby, it’s still nice to have some decent breast pads around. They help to protect your nipples from getting more irritated from your clothing in the beginning and will also keep the above mentioned balms from ruining your dress.

Breast Therapy Gel Pads

Cold therapy can help to relieve pan and swelling from engorgement while heat therapy can help reduce tenderness and help relieve clogged ducts. You can get good quality gel therapy pads from pretty much any retailer now.

Comfortable Nursing Station

It’s essential to have one or two places around your house where you can comfortably sit and feed your baby. Either a comfortable sofa or chair placed in the nursery or bedroom and someplace out in the central area of the house. You’re going to find yourself sitting and feeding your baby a lot, especially in those first few months, so you want to make sure that you are comfortable. So set yourself up a little nursing area with everything that you’re going to need for the next few hours and get comfy.

Feeding Caddy

This isn’t for the baby… this is for you. Get a small bin or caddy and fill it with snacks, water, your phone and charger, a diaper or two for the baby, wipes, breast pads, a towel or small swaddle blanket, nipple cream and put it next to your nursing station. That way you have everything you may need, right at your finger tips, when those feeding sessions run a little longer than expected.

Snacks and a Proper Water Bottle

Breastfeeding will make you extraordinarily thirsty and pretty hungry. So I love having a good water bottle filled with ice water and a couple of different options for snacks stored away in my caddy for when I’m stuck nursing.

Entertainment

We all love looking down at our babies while they eat but after a while you may find yourself getting a little bored. That’s why I recommend having either your phone or an ipad handy with games or books or Hulu/Netflix on it. This way you have something to do while you’re sitting up feeding the baby at 3 in the morning.

Milk collection options

No, I am not talking about pumping. In those first few months, before your body regulates itself (or if you’re one of those amazing women with an over supply) you tend to leak… bad. The baby is only able to eat off of one side at a time and the team that is not in use at the time may flood everything that’s near it. So I always like to have clean rags or swaddle blankets around to help cover the side not being nursed on. There are also milk-savers that you can get to place over the unused breast that will collect the leaking breast milk for you to store or use later.

A good Bra

Most women can expect their breast to grow 1-2 bra sizes while they are nursing and your actual breast size can change throughout the day based on when you may have nursed last. So having a good supportive bra is key. You want to make sure that you’re wearing a bra that is not too tight and preferably does not have an underwire in it as this can lead to clogged ducts and constricted milk flow. I personally do not wear nursing bras any long, as I found them to not be the most comfortable option in the world for me. I just always look for a bra with a nice thick band around the ribs that fits comfortably and that has supportive cups that are easy to fold or bend down. The Bras at Torrid are perfect if you happen to be like me and be a little on the busty side.

The Right Clothing

Shirts are a big issue when you breastfeed. Do you want to layer and wear tank tops under other shirts so you can pull up the top shirt and pull down the tank top or do you want to just be able to pull down the neck of a single shirt and nursing. I personally do not like layering. Mainly because I live in Florida and it’s too damn hot for more than one shirt and a bra but I also just find it easier to just pull down the neck of the shirt and be able to nurse. This can pose an issue with limiting the types of shirts I am able to wear though. All of my shirts must have stretchy necks that can be pulled down easily without pulling on my neck or being tight under the breast. Layering does give you more options since you don’t have to worry as much about having a lower stretchy neck. You just have to make sure that whatever tank top you wear can be pulled down easily.

A Nice Cover

For those moms that may be a little more modest or feel a little more insecure nursing out in public a good quality nursing cover can make life much easier. There are a ton of options out there now for nursing covers. Everything from the apron style covers that have been around for ages to fashion covers that start out as neck scarfs, ponchos, and even car seat covers that convert to breastfeeding covers. So there are options out there for everyone.

Learning to navigate through those first few months of breastfeeding can be difficult, especially for first time moms, so I hope that this helps you to prepare for breastfeeding your new little one. Make sure that you check out Mistakes to Avoid While Breastfeeding and my Breastfeeding Pinterest board for more information on breastfeeding.