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Dressing for The Weather: Play Outside, Every Day

Now that are fully settled in Maine, I am going to share what has been the toughest part. I know my answer sounds like an old lady, but it has been the weather! Seriously, we arrived in June and experienced many wet/cold summer days. I was very surprised. For some reason, I was expecting moderate 70-80 degrees through at least August. Fall is here now, we are having cool to cold mornings, lovely afternoons and lower evening temperatures. Before we know it winter will be here.

I NEED outside. I start to crumble a bit if I do not get out. Fresh air, sunshine, the breeze– all of it restores and grounds me. I will NOT be able to hibernate for months. I only a Floridian for 6 years, and sometimes the lack of seasons was a bit discombobulating, but we only had days of cooler weather, not seasons. We rarely needed anything more than closed-toed shoes, socks, and a hoodie to stay comfortable.

Luckily, early in my motherhood journey I heard my Scandinavian-born family say “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. Now that I am prepping our wardrobe for the coming seasons; I thought I would share a little bit about how we will continue our days outside following that Scandinavian wisdom I learned many years ago.

Temperature Regulation

The younger kids are the ones I am focusing on in this post. As adults we have more awareness of what our bodies are doing. We know if we run hot or cold. Younger children are still developing their inner temperature gauge. Remember when you brought your newborn baby home and was told to dress them a layer warmer than you would yourself? This still matters well into younger childhood. They lack the awareness of their temperature and dressing appropriately allows them to play without exerting energy toward temperature regulation.

If you are the type that is hesitant to opt-outside in cooler weather, have no fear. It is pretty easy following a general guideline for layering and staying dry!

Must-Haves:

  • Base Layer: Long-johns, or long underwear. This is the layer that sits next to the skin, so it needs to be breathable, soft, and moisture-wicking. I prefer natural fibers, although there are some higher-quality synthetics that serve this purpose. I like wool, or wool-silk blends. Many people think of wool as itchy or uncomfortable. It is the kind of wool you choose and wool is wonderful because it is naturally antimicrobial, it regulates temperature, is moisture-wicking and super soft next to sensitive skin. One of my favorite brands is Engel, which is a German-made product that is virgin, organic wool and hasn’t been dyed with synthetics. My kids LOVE them. I will link some other brands/shops at the end of this post.
  • Mid Layer: This is your regular, every-day clothing. Pants, long-sleeved tees, short-sleeved tees, dresses, leggings, socks, etc. Again, I prefer soft, comfortable, natural fabrics like cotton, bamboo, hemp, wool, etc. I find my kids have less sensory-type issues when dressed in comfortable, natural fabrics. I still have a memory of being uncomfortable in church and school wearing synthetic tights and I think I have vowed to keep my kids from ever experiencing that level of discomfort, lol.
  • Extra Layer: This is a layer to wear on top of your regular clothing, but is still thin enough to wear under a heavier coat/outerwear. When dressing the younger kids, think about less bulk for less restricted movement. For this layer you’ll need a light coat, vest, sweater, or fleece. Wool is great for not adding bulk, however there are some good quality fleece extra layers on the market. We are looking again for moisture-wicking, breathability so the kids do not sweat and cause them to chill. Other staples are thick wool socks (we want to avoid layering socks), hat that covers ears, mittens, a scarf or something that covers their neck. Hoods are great as are balaclavas made of wool or wool/silk blends.
  • Outer Layer : (rain/wet/mud) The gear necessary for this type of weather are waterproof boots/wellies, rain pants or bibs, a raincoat with a hood, or you can purchase full one-piece rain suits. Oaki, Kite, and Polarn O. Pyret all sell these types of waterproof suits. For hands, wool mittens and waterproof mittens are necessary. Wool mittens keep hands warm, even while damp.
  • (waterproof/snow) Winter weather requires a bit more. For this season, waterproof snow boots, snow bibs, an insulated, waterproof coat with a hood and waterproof mittens will do the trick. There are so many options and price points for winter gear. My personal preferences are Gore-Tex and high-loft down fill.

Layer, layer, layer

Now, I am going to share a general guideline for layering based on temperature. All kids are different, some run warmer than others. My daughter tends to run on the colder side, and my boys are typically a little warmer so I see them shed layers much faster. The key really is to layer and make sure the layers are easy to shed for the littles as they play and move through the day. A good rule of thumb for checking a child’s temperature is to feel their neck first, then their backs and lastly their hands.

Above 60 degrees—- mid/main layer

60-50 degrees—- base + mid or mid+extra

50-40 degrees—- base + mid + extra

40-25 degrees—- base + mid + outer

below 25 degrees—- base + mid + extra + outer

A Note on Costs

It is easy to find great quality, gently used kids gear online or in your town. I recommend higher quality brands but RARELY do I ever buy new or pay full-price. I also work in a gently-used children’s store on the weekends so I have the perk of finding these items. Kids grow so quickly and barely have time to really do damage to their seasonal wear. If you have multiple children, these items can easily be passed down through several children with normal wear and tear.

Links

Nova Natural— wool baselayers

Patagonia— down filled outerwear, synthetic base layers

LL Bean— down, Gore-tex

Bogs— winter boots and rain boots

Polarn O Pyret— a mix of all winter gear

Kidizen— online source for used children’s clothing

Mercari— another site for used children’s clothing

Patagonia Worn Wear— Patagonia’s resell site

and again your local children’s consignment store, used gear store, or even thrift stores are wonderful resources to outfit your children with all of their seasonal layers!

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5 Easy Immune Boosters for Children

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A couple of posts ago I wrote about the lost art of convalescence. My little kids are going through their developmental time of catching viruses and building their immune systems. At Mira’s 6 month well-check her pediatrician told us to expect about 1 new virus per month and expect fevers of 103 as “normal”. I am a mom who loves home remedies and tries to avoid antibiotics unless we are in a situation where they can not be avoided, so I spend a lot of time learning and trying new things.

As my kids develop their immune systems I have several things I am passionate about and have found great success with. My new favorite thing is cod liver oil. My grandparents always swore by it, I watched my oldest son’s Norwegian family administer it to the kids, and for me, I never quite caught on until reading some incredible information in Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. This book has several informative chapters on caring for babies and young children through illnesses.

I laugh at myself because I get excited about fat-soluble vitamins and remedies, lol. My five favorites for this season are:

1. Cod liver oil Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K are tremendous for building a healthy immune system. Vitamin A and Vitamin D in adequate doses (so it is truly important to look for a good brand, some commercial brands contain very little Vitamin D) can help to stave off colds, flus, and asthma. Fat-soluble vitamins help with mineral metabolism, cognitive development, intellectual development, and vision. 

When a child runs a fever, the heat and inflammation in the body quickly deplete vitamin A. It is said that a Vitamin A deficiency is why some children have febrile seizures or end up with febrile blindness.

2.Hydration– Staying hydrated is also important, and in the time of a high fever, it is difficult to stay hydrated. Pedialyte and those types of beverages are loaded with crap. I have been mixing up my favorite mineral supplement and having my toddler drink it to stay hydrated. It provides excellent sources of minerals and electrolytes and tastes so yummy. I usually make a glass for myself and just fill his sippy. Babies only need breastmilk or formula.

3. Elderberry Elixir is another super immune booster. I have been interested in elderberry syrups and have researched a lot about elderberry immune-boosting properties. I wasn’t too keen on giving the honey or maple syrups to the little kids and not being able to find where the berries were sourced from was another one of my mind-bogglers, so I was happy to come across this elixir that is farmed in Maine (hubby’s home state), on a biodynamic farm, with a very controlled process.

4. Probiotics— I have blogged and blogged about gut health and probiotics. A healthy gut contains 5-7 pounds of healthy gut bacteria, which secretes vitamins that we absorb, creates anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral substances that fight pathogens and helps us detox and keeps our feel-good chemicals in balance. If our balance gets disrupted then our whole immune system is compromised. A good quality probiotic is vital so that the necessary strains of bacteria survive the digestive tract and juices and can reach the gut to populate and do their job.

5. Outdoor time– Fresh air and sunshine are amazing. 10-30 min per day can work wonders. It supports healthy vitamin d levels. I luckily live in Florida, so our outdoor weather is usually pleasant. However, if you’re in a different climate, appropriate clothing still makes outdoor time possible.

Generally, if it seems like your child is always catching a cold, don’t panic. The advice my pediatrician gave me was that the kids’ immune systems are still developing, and because of that, they are more susceptible to colds and infections. Over time, as long as health is supported with a healthy diet and physical activity their immune systems will catch up and this too shall pass.

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Taking a Pause: The Art of Convalescence

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Cough, cough, sniff, sniff. Those are the sounds that have been traveling through our house the past few days. I have had 2 kids down with a virus, Ezra taking the brunt of it. He has entered preschool a few hours a week this year, and it seems each Friday he comes home with something. This time, the illness truly got my attention and required me to switch my mindset a bit. Recently my focus has been on what to do to care for my sick child when the importance was truly just caring for my sick child.

I’m a great caregiver, in theory. I will calmly make sure all of the logistics are taken care of, however, truly taking time to notice intuitively what my kids needed was missing. My mind fluctuated on everyone’s basic needs, the work I needed to do, and our recent sleep deprivation. Immediately, I went into “fix” mode with them. Fix the symptoms… you know, we have things to do!

I had a little ah-ha when the only thing that could console Ezra was me. I took the time to observe him, both physically and intuitively. What I realized at that moment was that he truly needed time to convalesce. Historically, this was something that was a standard for illnesses. We live in a society now where suppressing symptoms and getting back to “real life” is marketed heavily. We have “quick fixes” for everything. Yes, I believe in being comfortable and will not forgo medical care when necessary. But truly, just riding it out (even if it takes weeks) is often what we really require.

When our bodies are down, and especially when a child is ill, it is important to give space and time to truly heal. Symptoms may subside, but moving back into a hurried pace can keep the immune system weak and allow other illnesses to creep in easily. I have noticed with my kids that very often following a virus, they will have a physical or developmental leap.

The prescription I find the most helpful when we have sick kiddos is quiet time, less stimulation, and TLC. The definition of vitality is the state of being strong and active; energy. The power giving continuance of life, present in all living things. Overstimulation robs children of their vital energy. The very nature of screen time is vitality depleting, so that is something I am very cautious about allowing during illness. If I do allow screen time, we watch very gentle, calming shows. However, quiet play, books, mama cuddles, eucalyptus baths, etc are what I gravitate toward.

For me to nurture and tune into a time of convalescence, I had to release the expectations I have of myself and others and truly invite in a sense of stillness. The slower pace is necessary so the kids can replenish their vitality and do their inner work to heal. These moments are a great time to reevaluate our family rhythm and see what is serving us well and what needs adjusting so that we can all live together harmoniously and with minimal chaos.

The funny thing is, that when I spent a different kind of time with the kids I realized I was way off the mark in recognizing their needs. Ezra needed mama time, Mira needed me to loosen the reigns, and Keenan was squared away (he’s taken a lot of my brainpower lately). Every day is an opportunity to learn and grow and find new awarenesses for sure!

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You’re Going to Be a Big Brother

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One of the most perplexing things about being pregnant with baby #3, has been how to prepare or introduce the new baby to Ezra. I know that siblings have been introduced into families since the beginning of time, and I should not over think it. It is just a difficult transition in my mind when he has been the “baby” for the last 2 years. My older son was 11 when he learned he was going to be a big brother, so logic was in place and the preparations were easy.

My 2-year old seems to have a vague concept of there being a baby in my tummy. He attends prenatal appointments, hears baby Mira’s heartbeat, and has seen her on the “TV” screen during our ultrasound scans.  But, does he really “get it”? Probably not, is my opinion.

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How have we been preparing?

Reading + Repetition

I ran across a beautifully illustrated book, Mama’s Belly by Kate Hosford which we have been reading frequently. Over the months since we have introduced the book, he seems to make the connection that his mama’s belly is “rising up like a wave”. He will now point to my breasts or belly when asked where his baby sister is.

I do not buy multiple books about the same subject, I tend to find one we love and read over and over. I have heard many times that we tend to learn by shock or repetition, so for a toddler, repetition seems to work well.

Attending appointments

As I mentioned above, Ezra has attended most of our OB appointments. Our doctor is great about talking directly to Ezra and showing him the doppler and explaining it is the new baby. Again, I am not sure he “gets it”, but the repetition and expansion of my tummy may be helping him grasp the concept. Also, the familiarity of seeing the doctor and the office may make my hospital stay less of a shock.

Videos

We are not big proponents of tv time with Ezra. When we do allow screen time, we try to keep his exposure to “quieter” cartoons like Little Bear. However, Daniel Tiger Season 5 deals with Daniel becoming a big brother. We have watched these episodes multiple times as a teaching tool.

Visiting Other Babies

Luckily, we are in an environment where we have many friends and acquaintances who have new babies. We have been exposing him during story times, play dates, and even when we are walking in the store we will point out the new babies and explain that he will have a new baby soon.

Preparing the House

As we have set up the room (which he will be sharing eventually), we have explained who the new items are for. Her clothes are in the drawers and closets, so he sees them often and we have even installed her car seat to establish the new seating routine in our van.

We have also introduced more stuffed animals into his life, and he is bonding with them. With the animals, we reinforce “gentle touches” animals so that he can make a similar connection with the new baby.

 

 

There are many blogs and articles with tips and tricks to introduce a toddler to a new baby. We are doing these small steps to include our toddler in the process. Ultimately, we will allow it to unfold naturally and deal with the transition as it comes. Our childcare comes a few days before our scheduled birth-day, so that will be another aspect we will talk up and make exciting! A sleepover with bestemor and big brother! How have you introduced a new sibling? Any tried and true tips?

 

 

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Essentials for Postpartum Mental Health

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Postpartum Depression and Anxiety are huge topics these days. I am in Facebook groups that have thousands of members, all of which are dealing with and healing from varying levels of PPD/PPA.

My Story

After my second son was born, I experienced Postpartum Anxiety. It was rather unspoken, and actually quite scary. My husband knew I was “off” for some time. We chalked it up to sleep deprivation, me dealing with a lot of change very quickly, and our son’s premature birth and NICU stay. I tried counseling for a few visits and never went the medical intervention route.

Luckily, I finally confided in one of my dear friends who is incredibly versed in holistic health and she helped me figure out what my body was asking for from a nutritional and hormonal perspective. I knew something was going on in my body– more than normal postpartum hormones.

Know this. If you are feeling off after pregnancy, you are not alone. The immediate drop in progesterone and estrogen in a mama’s bloodstream cause emotions that many of us have never felt. When these hormones drop our entire endocrine system is disrupted, our natural serotonin levels can be affected, and sometimes our body has difficulty finding homeostasis again. All of the emotional chaos is “normal” for a bit after pregnancy, when it persists more than a few months you may have more of an issue.

I am also NEVER suggesting you forgo medical advice, I am just a mama sharing my story. 

The things that helped me the most were simple changes and additions and just knowing in my heart that these small changes would help me feel like me again. The funny thing about motherhood is that when you have a “mental health” challenge, it is easy to feel you are a complete fuck up, your kids are suffering, and your husband hates you. It is how the mind works, and the thoughts keep the “funk” going when you are in a rut.

Be Gentle With Yourself

During the postpartum period, and when healing from any sort of issue, it is a step by step process. There will be ups and downs, nothing is instant. After a mom has been pregnant for 9 months; it takes time for physical recovery, adjustment to the “new normal”, hormonal rebalance, and emotional balance. It is not going to happen overnight. There will be good days and bad days. The better we get and the better we feel, more than likely the good days will outnumber the bad.

All of the tools I am sharing in this blog today are things that I am still doing throughout this pregnancy (which has been completely different and much easier than my last), and I will definitely take it beyond the postpartum period.

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Ways to Support Recovery

  1. Keep Self-Care Routines– This is something that I can not stress enough. If you are a mama who needs a shower every day to feel human, take one. Even if it means getting up 20 min early so your husband can entertain the baby. Don’t feel guilty if you must shower with the baby in a bouncer, crying for a few minutes. I am not one who can dry shampoo for 10 days and be okay with it. A shower, washed hair, and shaved legs make me feel like a better person, so I make sure it happens. Also, resting when baby rests is important, especially in those first few weeks. Sleep deprivation is real and the cumulation of lost sleep can cause damage. I have a difficult time napping, however sometimes just resting for 10-20 minutes quietly can really recharge my batteries.
  2. Get Outside– Luckily, we live in Florida where the weather is pleasant more days than not and we have easy access to nature. Fresh air, sunshine, and the sounds and smells of nature are incredibly mood boosting. My husband and I work from home, so sometimes we don’t feel the need to get out. However, making the effort to get out for a little bit each day is always on my schedule. As the newborn grows a bit, story-times or other mom & baby activities are great for mental health. Social support is often instrumental in feeling “normal” again.
  3. Good Nutrition– Diet is another thing that is incredibly important for health and wellness. Meal planning before baby is a good way to go. If that didn’t happen prior to birth, meal delivery services, Instant Pot meals, or even enlisting family and friends can take the pressure off. You can even grocery shop online these days and quickly drive by for pick up. Processed foods, sugar, and many grains really affect my anxiety levels. My friend said to me– “what if you can no longer say I am Lucy with anxiety and instead realize that I am Lucy and this feeling is how I interact with certain foods?” After eliminating the offenders from my diet, it is easy to feel that “interaction” when reintroducing the culprits.
  4. Supplements– Taking good quality supplements have been vital to my health and well-being. It is nearly impossible to get all we need from diet alone. I know I have written this and said it SOOO many times in my life– our soil quality is poor, it is difficult to find good quality meats due to factory farming, there are a lot of pollutants, and our food travels many miles to reach our grocery store and finally our plate. All of these affect the vitamin and mineral content of the food we consume. I will share supplements that are valuable for PPA/PPD and why.

Two time Nobel Laureate, Dr. Linus Pauling, said: “You could trace every disease and every ailment to a mineral deficiency.” Approximately 99% of the human body is comprised of minerals, yet minerals are generally overlooked when nutrition is considered. Chromium is especially important for the postpartum period. Having an adequate balance keeps the insulin levels balanced and allows the body to use glucose as it is designed to, keeping stress from our major organs and maintaining our energy levels. Adequate magnesium intake is also important for mental health, and supplementing can calm the nervous system quite rapidly. I buy my mineral

Again I’ll suggest a probiotic. I have written many times about gut health. A short synopsis is that our gut is our second brain and serotonin and dopamine levels start in the gut. For me, I noticed a rapid change in my mental health after starting a good probiotic. My shakiness and racing thoughts calmed way down. Life 9 has a lot of the good mental-health strains of bacteria and is specifically encapsulated so that you actually receive the bacteria in the GI tract. I have tried many other probiotics. However, what I didn’t know is that many brands can’t actually survive the digestive juices to populate the gut adequately. Game. Changer.

Vitamin D3– The symptoms of a Vitamin D3 deficiency are vast. A quick google search will show you very quickly how bad you can feel with a lack of this essential vitamin. One of the first symptoms listed is depression/anxiety coupled with decreased endurance and exhaustion. It is also difficult to heal from wounds with this deficiency. I use Vitamin D3 throughout my pregnancy and beyond.

5. Uplifting Music & Books– A drive to the beach in my minivan with a good playlist is often my best therapy. Sounds like the epitome of motherhood, lol. I keep my phone stocked with good music & audios because when I am feeling down, flooding myself with positivity will help break the mental cycle of depression or anxiety.

My favorites are:

The Gifts of Imperfection or anything by Brene Brown

Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali is a book I found early in my motherhood journey. Even though I am not Buddhist, she had wonderful insight into living present-centered and releasing anger, worry, or fear.

Everyday Blessings by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn

The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

Atomic Habits by James Clear

6. Journaling and Affirmations– These are tools I often use to change my mindset. When I am overwhelmed, anxious, or feeling down writing what I am feeling helps release the negativity and become aware of how my mind is circling around certain ideas. Affirmations of how I want to feel are also helpful. I will write them on post-its and put them on mirrors, on my computer screen or somewhere I look many times per day. I have even been known to make an affirmation the screen saver on my phone. What else do I look at more often than my phone?

“Be Gentle With Yourself, You are Doing the Best You Can”

“I am Doing an Amazing Job”

“I am honest with my partner”

“I am surrounded by love, and so is my baby”

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Being Well

There are many steps and tools to utilize during the postpartum period. Just know that if you are not improving while taking steps to nurture and recuperate, you may need to seek medical attention, and that is okay. Especially if you are feeling the impulse to hurt yourself or your baby.

I hope this information was helpful in any way and I am always here if you want to reach out. Understand how to get your supplements here for 24% off. You can find me through email, or on IG @integratedmama or facebook.com/integratedmama.