A Toddler Birthday Party Picnic

On August 1, my tiny baby who was basically born yesterday turned

To celebrate, we invited family and some toddler friends to a nearby park for a low-key birthday party.

Truthfully, I didn’t go too far down the road of a “theme.” In fact, I was kind of like, meh, party in the park, everyone show up, we’ll bring the food. But then, I asked my friend Jennifer of Flying Pinwheel to design the invitation, and when she showed me the colorful picnic invite, I knew I had a theme to run with.

But let’s talk about this invitation first.

toddler picnic theme birthday

Isn’t it adorable?

Jennifer sells several reasonably priced printable invitations in her Etsy shop (I was actually torn between this onethis one and the eventual winner). She has 14 design templates available — covering many themes perfect for little kid parties — but she’s also able to custom design an invite if you have something specific in mind.

The process was stress-free and smooth — Jennifer and I exchanged a few emails, and she made updates to the text and a few tweaks to the design to make sure it was special for Emme’s day. She sent me a proof to approve and then final files — one PDF version with that could be printed with the invitations two-up, and one jpeg, so I could email the invite as well. I actually did both, so having the jpeg file was a nice bonus.

Going this route cost me about a third of what I’ve spent on invitations in the past. It also meant I could skip the hassle of waiting for personalized invitations to ship and could do all the printing at home or take the file to the local whatever-Kinkos-is-called-now and have them print it. (I, of course, chose the latter… and it took about 20 minutes). Yay for less hassle!

For the actual birthday, we kept it pretty simple — mostly because I waited until the last minute to do anything other than the invitations. We covered picnic tables in the park with gingham table covers. This was cheaper than buying separate tablecloths; I could cut them to whatever size I needed, and I still have the majority of the roll leftover. I also purchased tablecloth clips, which held the table covers in place and were tremendously helpful as it ended up being a windy day.

Because we were in a section of the park that was far from the playground, we brought toys for the kids to play with, including a few hula hoops and beach balls. We sprang for a bubble machine, which was a big hit (if you ever purchase one of these, make sure you get the refill; the bubbles go fast). For favors, we gave out novelty sunglasses, which proved popular among the toddler set as well.

Joey grilled burgers and hotdogs, and we had a princess cake, off-theme per the birthday girl’s request, from Costco — which got rave reviews, FYI. 

Despite a quick costume change because the birthday girl fell in the one muddy spot in the entire park, the party was a success. And I’m glad it’s over.

This was my punishment for buying her a new dress for her birthday.

I Am Not a Perfectionist

I’ve always worn my lack of perfectionism like a badge of honor. I smugly assumed I had figured out a secret of adulthood by embracing imperfection.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard or strive for 100 percent in some areas; it just means that I know it’s not realistic to reach for some vague bar that has been set for “life” in the age of Pinterest — that pinnacle of living that encompasses everything from having your kids dressed in the right clothing to preparing homemade, healthy meals each day to maintaining an impeccable physical appearance to excelling at a high-powered career while somehow keeping your house clean.

Nope. That’s not me.

I’m cool with imperfect.

At least, I thought I was.

Then last week, I found myself in a particularly ugly spiral of negative self-talk. I was in the midst of grappling with why I simply could not do anything right ever when I realized, I may not be a self-professed perfectionist, but that’s only because I know I can’t reach that bar.

But perfection is still my bar.

progress not perfection

I expect 100 percent across the board knowing it’s simply not possible then I beat myself up for not being able to do it. And when I inevitably fail (which I knew I would), I get even more down on myself and throw the so-called baby out with the bathwater.

Sometimes, I don’t even try. (What’s the point? Failure is inevitable.)

It becomes an excuse to avoid taking chances and putting myself out there. (Why bother, really?)

And a byproduct of this perfection-seeking habit is ultimately, I don’t believe in myself.

The one thing I’ve been trying to live up to these years is impossible, and I knew that. And yet, I’ve let this attitude of “Life: You’re Doing it Wrong,” get to me.

It was, dare I say, an epiphany. Last week, I deliberately set the bar where that I knew (thought? hoped?) I could reach it and maybe hang for awhile. I cut my daily to-do list down from about 20 items to three or four. I focused on racking up small wins (I did all my training runs! I wrote an article every day! I ran an errand I’d been putting off for 3 weeks! I managed to put dinner on the table a few times!) so I could bank them later as a reminder that I am capable even though I will fall behind sometimes, even when the goal isn’t perfection.

And I reminded myself that this is about progress.

Progress, not perfection.

Hey Moms, It’s Time to Lose the Cape

When I started Mommy Sanest, I did so with the premise that I was searching for sanity in this (sometimes?) crazy world of parenting. What does sanity mean to me? It means dropping the perfectionism, the extreme styles of parentings (too many rules, man), and embracing an attitude of “good enough.”

So when the opportunity to read and review a new book called “Lose the Cape: Realities from Busy Modern Moms and Strategies to Survive,” I, of course, said yes. “Lose the Cape” is written by bloggers Alexa Bigwarfe and Kerry River, two moms who realize that being “supermom” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I love hearing how other mothers manage home and work particularly when they’ve decided that perfection can’t be the goal.

While I received the e-book for free, all of my opinions are my own.

“Lose the Cape” was a super easy, quick, entertaining, and worthwhile read with lots of great tips for moms with kids at every age and stage. There’s so much pressure — mostly from the Internet — to be a perfect mom and many of us get caught up in this ideal. Often, we feel like we’re not measuring up.

Lose the Cape

Granted, I’m kind of automatically on board with anything that combats the idea of “supermom” or “perfect parenting,” but I loved the practical aspects of “Lose the Cape.” Every chapter featured specific scenarios that we all deal with: Being a new mom, the dreaded and never-ending pile of laundry, meal planning, maintaining a strong relationship with a partner, routines, being over-scheduled, not being able to unplug from social media, and more. The strategies and advice, coupled with the examples from real moms, are very helpful. Not all of the advice was brand new, but it’s stuff that bears repeating, and there were definitely a lot of ideas I hadn’t heard before.

But moreover, I loved the attitude of the writers. I had a real sense of, “We’ve got your back,” throughout the book. Clearly they aren’t about the mommy wars, and they believe we’re all in this together. The chapter about “forming your mom squad” really drove this home. None of us can do this without support from other moms — even if that support is just listening to each other air our grievances and strategizing together.

Overall, it’s definitely worth a read for any mom who is feeling overwhelmed or is sick of living up to ridiculous standards and expectations (regardless of whether they are real or imagined). Actually, I’d recommend moms-to-be pick up “Lose the Cape” — this would be a great gift for an expectant mother as this book gives you a clear idea about the reality of early motherhood. Moreover, the book’s solid advice on different stages and situation really makes it worth while to keep on hand throughout the years.

Why I Stopped Promoting My Blog (OK, Not Totally)

As I approach my one year blogiversary (or maybe I’ve passed it, who even knows), I’ve been reflecting on how I’ve swung in every different blogging direction over the past 12 months.

I’ve gone from, “It will be fun to blog again,” to “I AM DOING THIS MOMMY BLOGGER THING FOR REAL / WATCH OUT WORLD,” to “effe this nonsense,” to “Eh, I’m just going to do this blog thing for fun.”

Full circle, much?

I’ve learned a little about myself — about what I’m willing to do and what I’m not willing to do as a blogger (including that the term “PR-friendly” doesn’t apply to me) as well as where I need to focus my energy for my freelance career (Spoiler alert: It’s probably not on my blog). On one hand, I put a lot of energy and hours and a little money into attempting to promote and learn how to monetize this blog, but it’s a weight off my shoulders to admit this isn’t a world I want to compete in.

The best part is now that I’ve made my way back over to the “whatever” end of the blogging spectrum, my authentic writing voice seems to have returned and I’m actually kind of enjoying enjoying social media (gasp!) rather than feeling overwhelmed by it. To be more succinct: Acknowledging my blog is not going to be my business took the pressure off and has made me feel more creative.

That said, in the process of figuring this out, I read about ALL OF THE THINGS I should do to facilitate my meteoric rise to blogger fame. I tried many of these tactics, and a lot of them didn’t really seem to have the impact I was expecting.

Now this isn’t to say that my expectations weren’t the problem in these scenarios, but the return on time investment didn’t pay off for me. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other bloggers out there who have found these tactics to be super useful and valuable to their growth and goals. But, if you happen to be someone who has tried one or more of these only to see minimal, if any, results, I want you to know you’re not the only one.

Four Things I've Stopped Doing to Promote my Blog

NO MORE LINK-UPS

I loved the idea of link-ups. There are a few bloggers I like a lot who host link-ups, and I tried to get with the program on several occasions. And while I would see a trickle of referrals, it never amounted to much traffic or participation for me. Moreover, reading other blogs, commenting, pinning posts — whatever the deal was — was incredibly time-consuming. I always followed the link-up rules (because no one wants to be known as someone who link drops and runs, but I don’t actually know how anyone truly figures out who participates without a complicated manual calculation), but the ROI just wasn’t there for me. This isn’t to say link-ups aren’t a great tool for you to grow your blog, they just didn’t work for me. If I had all the time in the world, I’d probably participate in approximately 20, but I don’t, so I’ve crossed this one off the blog promotion list.

EMBRACING TRIBE-LESS-NESS

For real, there are bloggers who I like and follow. There are (a small number of) bloggers that I feel I’ve made a more personal connection with — though some of those are from my old time-y blogging days. There are bloggers whose stuff I promote via social media whether or not they reciprocate — I don’t care — and there are blogs I more regularly comment on. But the idea of a blogging tribe remains elusive for me. I suppose I should provide my definition of a tribe to you, so here it is: A group of maybe 5-10 bloggers who consistently promote, comment on, and participate in each other’s blogs.

Now maybe what I’ve described is a clique and not a tribe, but truly, that’s what I feel like I’m supposed to have. Again, maybe the problem here is my perception versus reality, but I tend to shut down when anything feels vaguely like high school, so this has not been an easy feat for me. Maybe I will change my mind about the importance of this eventually, but right now, I’m not putting any effort into finding my tribe.

NO GUEST POSTING ORIGINAL CONTENT FOR FREE

For a writer-slash-blogger, guest posting felt like the holy grail of blog success. So I did it a few times. For most, I guest-posted content that had been repurposed / reprinted from something that I had already published on Mommy Sanest. I’m generally OK with that approach, though the editing process can be a little bit time-intensive. But I did write a few free posts with original content in the process, which ultimately amounted to very little exposure for me. I’m not saying writing for free is always a bad thing — there are extremely high profile sites out there that can boost your writer cred and send your blog significant amounts of traffic (though, to be honest, I’d probably argue that these are exactly the sites that should be paying) — but I never saw much growth from any of my guest posting activities. Again, perhaps I haven’t done it enough or in the right places, but I struggle with the idea that this is how I should spend my time when I can be doing other things to further my writing goals that also happen to pay.

IX-NAY ON THE BLOGGER GROUPS

It took me awhile to figure out that there are tons of Facebook groups dedicated to bloggers supporting other bloggers. You can share links, get more comments on your blog, ask for likes on your social posts, etc. So here’s the deal: These do work — though depending on the rules, some work better than others. If you’re a committed blogger with time on your hands or a virtual assistant, this is actually a pretty good way to increase your numbers. But (BUT!), being involved in these groups takes a lot of time. For some it may be time well spent, but it made me feel like my blogging duties were never ending. Visiting dozens of sites a day, stumbling posts, liking tweets, commenting — despite seeming super easy to do, takes a ton of time. So I stopped. And I’m pretty sure my blood pressure went down (medical fact). This isn’t to say I won’t participate in some blogger group activities (I participate in one very active group that from time to time will do a follow thread for different social media platforms, and I will do those if I happen to catch them), but I’m picky and have generally stopped promoting individual blog posts this way.

I haven’t totally stopped promoting my blog — despite my leaning-toward-click-bait title and graphic — but after 12 months of this mess, I’ve figured out where my time is well spent. And my time is well spent on Pinterest, other social platforms to some degree, and search, but really Pinterest. I invest time and a small amount of money into my graphics and pinning strategy, yes, but that’s way easier to handle when I’ve taken several other items off the list.

What about you? Do these promotional activities work for you? Are there other promotional activities you’ve stopped doing for your blog? Is it me, and not you? Or is it you, and not me?

A Stranger Reprimanded My 3-Year-Old in Front of Me

A few days ago, a stranger reprimanded my daughter. In public. In front of me.

Ellie wasn’t causing physical harm to anyone, she was simply having a 3-year-old meltdown after a long, hot morning.

Moms: What do you do when a stranger reprimands your young child in front of you in public?

Here’s what happened:We were in the check-out line at Nordstrom’s Rack when the cashier realized the hairbands Ellie picked out didn’t have a UPC code, so she gave the bands to another cashier who walked back to the display to check the price.

Now, in the mind of a 3-year-old, someone just took away her “special treat,” and a meltdown ensued.

I tried to explain to Ellie that the cashier would be right back, and we couldn’t buy the hairbands unless we knew the price. But it’s largely pointless to reason with a semi-hysterical 3-year-old. I know this, so admittedly I didn’t try too hard, knowing she’d be OK in a couple minutes.

The woman behind us felt differently. As she passed us to get to an open cashier, she leaned into our cart where Ellie was sitting, got within six inches of her face, and shushed her.

I couldn’t believe it and was momentarily struck dumb.

When I snapped back to it, I reassured Ellie, and after 30 more seconds of processing what had just happened, encouraged her to cry louder.

Perhaps this was not the most mature reaction, but I’m a hormonal 8-plus month pregnant woman. I’m already slightly insane.

By this time, other women in line behind me were expressing shock and outrage at the shusher’s actions. The cashier also was apologizing profusely. I smiled and thanked people for their support, paid, and tried to leave as quickly as possible. But before I left, I stopped by the shusher, who still was paying, and said, “I’m sorry my child was being loud, but what you did was not OK.”

She didn’t even look at me.

Ellie had calmed down once we reached the parking lot, and as we loaded up the car, I told her how cool I thought her new hairbands were and how we should totally ignore the woman who shushed her — she was just having a bad day.

I’m pretty sure none of that sunk in with Ellie — she was just happy to have her hairbands back.

But here’s what I’m wondering, and why I’ve decided to write about the incident: What’s the best way to handle this type of situation? Has this ever happened to anyone else? And how much do we need to explain what happened to our children?

What I’ve told myself, and what I honestly believe, is the shusher was having an off day. Maybe she hasn’t been shown a lot of compassion or patience in her life and therefore doesn’t know how to show it to others. And, she’s obviously not a “kid” person.

I’m also trying to focus on the kindness the other strangers showed — especially the woman who stopped me in the parking lot and offered Ellie her own hair ribbon to make Ellie feel better — an incredibly sweet gesture.

But man, the more I think about it, the more I really want to slap the shusher — if not physically, then verbally. My child had a meltdown at Nordstrom’s Rack — not at a church, school, library, or during an event where such actions are especially disturbing.

What would you have done?


Gena Kittner

Gena is a Midwest transplant living in Tucson, Arizona with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, Ellie. When not killing scorpions, Gena writes about food and family. Follow her on Twitter @genakittner, and check out her previous posts on Mommy Sanest.

Tough Questions: Talking to a Young Child about Baby No. 2

BY GENA KITTNER

Ellie: How is new baby getting out of your tummy?

Me: I’m going to wiggle him out.

I was just about to pat myself on the back for what I thought was a snappy, non-graphic, on-the-spot answer regarding delivery of our second child, due in July, when my 3-year-old came at me with a follow up:

Ellie: How did it get in there?

Oh boy.

How to talk to your Young Childabout

Ellie is super excited to be a big sister, in fact I’m pretty sure it’s her favorite topic of conversation. She alternates between what toys she thinks “new baby” (as we’ve coined him) will like, and which ones she plans to hide.

She’s also had lots of questions. In the beginning, when I’d started to show and we told her mommy had a baby growing in my tummy, Ellie decided she had a baby growing in her tummy, too.

She’s since abandoned this idea as I’ve continued to expand and she hasn’t. Now she’s more concerned with the details of her brother’s arrival.

In the true preschooler mindset, everything must happen immediately. Almost daily she asks if new baby’s here. I tell her he has more growing to do and will be born when “it’s really, really hot.”

Ellie Is your baby giving kicks?

Me: No, I think he’s sleeping now.

Ellie: Why is he sleeping? It’s morning time!

But back to the tough question at hand — how he got there to begin with. In the end, I took the easy way out.

Me: You know when we plant tiny tomato seeds and they grow into big, tall plants? Well, mommy has a small seed in her tummy and it’s growing into a baby boy.

Ellie: Oh, OK … (But) he’s going to be too big to get out of your tummy.

Yeah, no kidding.

A couple days later, I went online to see how other moms approached this topic, figuring I could always improve my answer when I’m inevitably asked again.

But I didn’t find anything I really liked. I’m the first to admit I’ve taken the easy, not-anatomically-correct route. But I’m just not ready to get that real with my 3-year-old. Some Internet commenters suggested watching a video of puppy or human births. But as truly awesome as I think the miracle of birth is, even I don’t want to watch it on video. Plus, Ellie tends to get scared during tense moments of Sofia the First. I don’t want to scar her with, literally, blood and guts.

So I’m still on the hunt for better answers.

Mommies of multiple children — how did you answer inquiries involving the arrival of your “new baby”?

If Caillou’s Mom was a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills

Disclaimer: Mommy Sanest is not a place for judgment of other moms, but we are making an exception for Real Housewives and cartoon characters.


BY SARAH BERG

Caillou – it’s that show you let your toddler watch one time. You hated it, but your kid loved it, and now he’s always asking to watch it.

Like many aspects of parenting it’s time to weigh the pros and cons of the situation before making a decision.

SITUATION: SHOULD I LET MY KID WATCH CAILLOU?

Making this call is kind of like deciding whether or not your kid should eat food off the floor. You know it’s bad, but is it really that bad?

My inner monologue goes something like this: Ugh… Cliff (my kid) is asking to watch Caillou. I hate that show. If he watches Caillou will he become as annoying as Caillou? That kid is so whiny. Plus, he’s always yelling at his sister. I don’t like that. Speaking of his sister, how old is she? They act like she’s 9 months, but she has the vocabulary and motor skills of a 2-year-old. It’s so confusing. Also, and I’m sorry, this is mean, but what’s up with his hair? I don’t understand the early onset male pattern balding. He’s 4 years old (I know because he says so in the opening song). Shouldn’t he have hair by now? I will feel bad if he has a genetic condition. Wait, why would I feel bad? He’s a cartoon! On the other hand, when I think about it, the show isn’t that bad. It’s not like there’s any violence. And I guess they try to tie in a lesson about sharing… and… I don’t know. One time Caillou learned he shouldn’t pretend to be a lion and scare babies. I guess those are all important lessons. Plus, Cliff is so engaged with the show. But first, let’s see if he notices me turning on Super Why instead. Oh crap, he’s screaming. I can’t take it! Okay decision made – he can watch Caillou.

Sigh.

I’m going to change gears. I am writing today not to bash Caillou – that’s been done. I’m actually writing to bash his parents, specifically his mother, Doris. And the reason I’m bashing her is because, frankly, I’m jealous of her life. And since I am also jealous of some of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast members and since season 5 is coming to a close, I couldn’t help but think about how Caillou’s mom has a little bit of RHOBH in her. Here are some similarities between Caillou’s mom and a few of the RHOBH cast members and how Doris would have handled some of the sticky situations we saw the real housewives get themselves into this season.

YOLANDA

Both Yolanda and Doris have nailed down that “work-life balance” myth we’re all aiming to achieve. Between tending to 500 lemon trees and maintaining a perfectly fresh see-through fridge, Yolanda also manages to help pack her kids up for college, schedule an easy-on-the-eyes yoga instructor for a private lesson, and take a ton of vitamins for her Lyme disease every single day. Meanwhile, Doris has the ability to drown out all the noise around her and focus. She never misses a chance to improve her yoga practice, even when her crazy 4-year-old Caillou has an electric train set going in circles around her. Doris didn’t even notice when Caillou broke the train. (Spoiler alert: He realized he should admit his mistake and confess.) All of this happened while Doris was juicing kale and beets, obviously.

But the biggest thing Yolanda and Doris have in common is their relationships with their spouses. Sure, Yolanda always says, “Hey ladies, my life is not perfect. Let’s be real friends, not ‘Hollywood friends.’” But let’s face it, only the perfect side of her marriage to David Foster is ever shown (even though that one time he was kind of a dick to Taylor Armstrong… “You used to be married to my best friend! Stop acting like you never met me!”). Sure, I wish Yolanda would tone down the sexual references, “Oh we were away on vacation, doing what lovers do.” I didn’t need to know that. Regardless, it seems to me like David and Yolanda handle parenting much like Caillou’s mom and dad — meaning, they will not let their children come between their relationship, and by relationship, I’m talking about their physical relationship.

Remember that episode when Caillou was afraid of monsters and he wanted to sleep in his parents bed, and they were all, “No way”? You know there was a real co-parenting discussion that went into that decision far in advance. They seem like the type of couple that anticipates everything and annoyingly communicates well.

The conversation probably went something like this:

Caillou’s dad: Hi there Doris. Can we take a moment to talk about our relationship and how having children has impacted our intimacy and ways that we can combat that problem as a cohesive parenting unit?

Caillou’s mom: Why sure hon. I’ll make some hot cocoa. Then let’s sit down and have a rational, adult discussion.

5 minutes later
Caillou’s mom: Here you go dear. It’s hot, so make sure you blow on it first. (Wink.)

Caillou’s dad: Wow, this hot cocoa is out of this world.

Caillou’s mom: Slow down there big guy. We have a lot to discuss. First of all, since having Caillou and Rosie, I know there aren’t as many opportunities to be intimate with each other as we’d both like. And sure, I’ve been a little self conscious about my body since I did just give birth to Rosie anywhere from nine months to two years ago. Having said that, I’m starting to incorporate yoga and ringette into my daily routine. Sure, this means I tell the kids I’m ‘busy’ whenever they ask me to play, but we both know how important it is to balance ‘work’ and ‘life’. Without that balance, I fear our intimacy will suffer.

Caillou’s dad: That’s a fantastic observation. First let me say that I am so proud of you for being able to take time out for yourself and for being a loving mother and wife. Your body looks amazing. I hope some day in the future you believe me and take off your shirt while we’re making love. [Dorris nods yes.] But let’s not focus on what we don’t have and let’s focus on what we do have and what we can do as a cohesive parenting unit to benefit our relationship and ultimately our entire family.

Caillou’s mom: Of course dear. What did you have in mind?

Caillou’s dad: I propose we implement a structure around bedtime that disallows the kids to sleep in our bed. The bed is a sacred space that is meant for our intimate relations and sleep. If Caillou ever fears there are ‘monsters’ under his bed and asks to sleep with us we should agree to tell him there ‘isn’t enough room,’ even though we did just buy that California king.

Caillou’s mom: That’s a fantastic idea. I fully support this.

End scene.

KYLE

Both Kyle and Doris will do anything to maintain respect from their children — which means they will not eat space cake on camera. If Doris was given space cake and called out by Brandi for previously smokin’ a doobie, she would have handled it almost the same as Kyle. Except for the fact that she would have lied through gritted teeth. Here’s how that would have gone:

Brandi: Doris, I don’t understand why you’re acting like you’ve never smoked pot. I know you’ve done it. In fact, the last time I smoked weed was with you.

Caillou’s mom (smiling so hard her eyes are about to pop out): Why, that’s a funny thing to say, Brandi. We smoked pot together? How could that be? I don’t usually prep my garden until April. The soil just isn’t ready. And if I had potted something in advance, how would I have smoked it? Do you mean set the weeds in the garden on fire? That actually sounds like a really interesting way to solve my pesky weed problem.

Brandi: Don’t play coy with me. You’re such a hypocrite. You know you smoked the reefer with me. Stop pretending to be something you’re not. You’re not perfect! I’m sick of being called a liar and an alcoholic when you’re just as bad!

Caillou’s mom: Okay Brandi, let’s take a deep breath. When you refer to ‘reefer,’ are you talking about my Australian honeymoon when the hubs and I visited the Great Barrier Reef? I don’t recall seeing you there, but it was an awful long time ago. Either way, I’m sorry you’re upset Brandi. Sometimes we have feelings of happiness and sometimes we have feelings of sadness and sometimes we have feelings of anger. These feelings are a normal part of life.

End scene.

EILEEN

Since this was her first season I don’t know a ton about her. Her story was centered on the drama of other people, but I am excited to learn more about Eileen. I find her fascinating. The same goes for Caillou’s mom. She’s a mystery.

What do we really know about Doris? I actually had to Google, “What is Caillou’s mom’s name”? (P.S. His dad’s name is Boris.) I’m also unclear if Doris works. She occasionally has a “business call” at home. Since I’m pretty sure they don’t live in the U.S., maybe she’s still on a fully paid maternity leave? Maybe she has a flexible work from home job? Perhaps she’s in the direct sales business for Avon or Stella & Dot? Speaking of jobs, we all know that Eileen is an actress by trade – like a real actress (no offense Kim and Kyle) – and we all know that Doris does a lot of acting on a daily basis, considering she’s able to always keep her cool when faced with parenting a dilemma. And by dilemma, I mean her annoying kid.

LISA V.

Lisa is English; Doris is Canadian. They both like to announce this to everyone. Sure, I’ve never actually heard Doris say she’s Canadian, but they did dedicate an entire episode to her days of playing ringette. That’s Canadian, right? Anyway, Lisa runs a tight ship at home with her family of 10,000 puppies, plus she’s manages a psychiatric hospital named SUR, which proves that she and Doris are basically the same person. Forgive the Vanderpump Rules crossover, but remember that time Lisa tried to convince Stassi to forgive Katie because she’s been “such a loyal friend over the years” and really, she did nothing wrong by going to Scheana’s bachelorette party? That situation is right out of a Caillou storyboard and Doris would have handled it almost the same as Lisa.

Caillou’s mom: Now Stassi, I hear you’re feeling some anger towards Katie for not telling you she was going to Scheana’s bachelorette party.

Stassi: Damn right I’m angry. She’s just like the rest of them. I hate her now. I hope Kristen hooks up with Tom Schwartz so Katie can understand a quarter of the betrayal I’m feeling. Once confirmation of hook-up is attained via Twitter or Insta, I’ll take a red eye to Miami and Uber it to Miami’s state run correctional facility where I will find an inmate willing to trade me some used improvised tattooing equipment – preferably in the form of a mechanical pencil and melted styrofoam – for cigarettes. Then I’ll Uber it to the bachelorette party, sedate Katie with a shot of Jagermeister laced with Xanax and Klonopin so I can easily tattoo KARMA’S A BITCH on her forehead. Wait, is Uber allowed at MIA?

Caillou’s mom: Let’s slow down a minute, Stassi. I understand you’re hurt, but that doesn’t mean using hurtful words will make you feel better. In the end it will just cause even more hurt. And to answer your question, Uber has not been banned from Miami International Airport, to my knowledge.

Stassi yawns: Can I get a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and some fried goat cheese balls?

Caillou’s mom disregards request: Why I’d be happy to make you some hot cocoa. I’ll be right back.

5 minutes later
Caillou’s mom: Here you go. You know, this reminds me of the time my son, Caillou, had his first sleepover at Leo’s house. He was sad and lonely and wanted to come home. But then he realized his teddy bear, Teddy, was in his overnight bag and then he felt better.

Stassi: What does that story have to do with anything?

Caillou’s mom: I think you should apologize to Katie.

Stassi: Look Doris, I know you like being in control of everything, but I no longer work here and I don’t have to listen to you.

Caillou’s mom: I know it’s hard to believe but sometimes the person we’re really mad at is ourselves. That’s not always an easy thing to admit. Sigh. Katie will understand if you call her and say you’re sorry.

Stassi: You’re right, I am sorry.

Caillou’s mom: I’m proud of you, Sta-.

Stassi interrupts: Sorry I didn’t plant a bomb inside Scheana’s penis necklace before they left.

End scene.

Lisa R.

Call her a people pleaser if you want, but at the end of the day Lisa Rinna is able to find the best in everyone (for example, telling Kim she has a beautiful heart less than 48 hours after Kim going crazy on her). To be candid – I love Rinna and she can do no wrong in my eyes, even if that means defending her wine throwing, glass shattering behavior to my 25-year-old co-workers who don’t get her hair and lips. Well I get her hair and her lips, and I will continue to stand up for her, at least until she becomes a mega-diva in her second season like they all do.

Speaking of defending, I’m not a super fan of Doris, but if push comes to shove, meaning if literally someone pushed me so hard it was considered a violent shove, held a knife to my throat and yelled, “You have a choice to make! Either sincerely say five nice things about Caillou’s mom or die,” I would think “WWLRD” and come up with five nice things.

  1. Much like Lisa R, Doris can find the best in everyone. I mean she’s Caillou’s mom and therefore has the patience of a saint. I don’t know what cocktail of happy pills she has to take to get through the day, but whatever it is, it’s working.
  2. She’s always exercising or gardening or doing something for herself and doesn’t apologize for it – bravo Doris!
  3. I don’t think I have ever heard her yell at her husband and she laughs at his terrible jokes.
  4. She cooks three meals a day. I have yet to see a “fend for yourself night” at their house or the kids plopped down eating pizza in front of the TV.
  5. I like her blue Ked-like shoes.

Kim and Brandi were left off this list because I could not not think of one similarity between them and Caillou’s mom and since I hold myself to high journalistic standards, including them would not have been right.

Now that you’ve reached the end of this 3,000 word essay about Caillou’s mom and RHOBH — first of all congrats — you might be wondering, “What’s the point?” Well, child psychologists say… who am I kidding, there isn’t a point, but the next time you’re guilted into watching Caillou I hope that remembering this epic blog post makes it slightly more enjoyable.

Namaste.

Encouraging Early Literacy Skills in Toddlers and Preschoolers

BY DENISE WORTHINGTON

During the toddler and preschool years, you are laying the groundwork for your child’s reading and writing success — but don’t let that overwhelm you. There are reams written about early literacy skills and reading development. We could spend all day discussing research-based ideas, what educators want to see when your child enters school, and things to do to help your child establish early literacy skills.

But, I don’t believe in making your toddler’s or preschooler’s playtime like school. I believe in creating a literacy-friendly environment without judgment so that your child learns to love books, writing, and creating — not a threatening place where reading, telling stories and scribbling becomes hard work and not much fun.

8 tips to help parents promote early literacy skills and reading readiness in young children. Try these ideas with your toddler or preschoolers. Build a foundation for reading with your child.

So instead of providing hard and fast rules, I’ll touch on some ideas that you can do easily to help your child begin to establish early literacy skills.

8 TIPS FOR ENCOURAGING EARLY LITERACY SKILLS IN YOUR TODDLER OR PRESCHOOLER

  1. The most important thing you can do is the most obvious – Read!
  2. Young children need to learn early that print contains a message, there is a world to discover in a book, and reading is fun. A child is never too young to be read to or to snuggle up with a bedtime story. You can read to your child from the day you bring her home.
  3. It’s important to expose your little one to various genres, including rhyming books, old-fashioned nursery rhymes, fairy tales, alphabet books, label books, and poetry. The cadence of language is important and helps to engage even the most reluctant and ‘busy’ child.
  4. Reading doesn’t start and stop with a book. Reading is all around us — on cereal boxes, road signs, in the mail — opportunities to read to your child are everywhere.
  5. Besides sitting down to read, you can take an ‘interactive approach’ when reading. This means that you can use descriptive phrases to talk about the pictures in the book in addition to reading the text of the story. I like the approach, but not to the point of losing the thread of a story. If you’re interested in learning more about interactive reading, check out The Incredible Years by Dr. Carolyn Webster-Stratton, who feels it’s important to encourage your child to be an active participant in the reading process.
  6. Another important area of literacy learning is writing. Writing is the reading process slowed down, and scribbling is the first stage of this important skill.
  7. Set your toddler or preschooler up with an area for writing and drawing. An easy way to do this is to have a box with scrap paper, construction paper, crayons, markers, and other writing tools. Encourage your little one to draw a picture about a favorite story. It doesn’t matter if no one really knows what the picture is. He knows, and he has had a chance to tell his version.
  8. Magnetic letters also help build early literacy skills. Besides learning the alphabet through songs, books, and puzzles, the tactile aspect of magnetic letters is important. Kids use all senses to learn.

Remember, there are no hard and fast rules for developing early literacy skills. No two children are alike and children develop at different rates. Think about the time when your child was learning to walk. He crawled, pulled himself up and then took off on his own schedule. That’s how it is with the reading process too — in stages and at a child’s individual pace. 


Denise Worthington is Lou’s Mom. She’s a retired reading teacher and children’s book author who spends her time serving on local boards, entertaining at the lake, and running for political office.

Mommy Sanest is Expanding

Let me tell you a story. Seventeen years ago, I went to orientation at Ohio University the summer before college began. I knew my roommate’s name — room assignments had been sent earlier in the summer — and I knew she would be at the same orientation session. We had plans to meet, but before that happened, we ended up sitting back-to-back at lunch and somehow, my mom figured out that she was at the table next to us.

And so, Gena Kittner and I met, eyed each other suspiciously, and after a few months of living together in a tiny dorm room, became friends. (The turning point for Gena, according to Gena, was when I hugged her good-bye for winter break.)

Post-college, Gena and I have become even closer. Before Mommy Sanest was born and Gena’s family moved to Arizona, I would retreat from Chicago to visit Gena in Wisconsin (and not just because she always bought me New Glarus beer). Then she had her daughter Ellie, and I had Emme 11 months later, providing us with yet another dimension to our friendship. When I started Mommy Sanest, I “jokingly” asked Gena, who is a seasoned journalist, if she would be interested in writing for me from time to time.

And the rest is history.

Then, last fall, I met a woman named Deb at a mom’s group in the western suburbs of Chicago. I swear I wasn’t being a stalker, but I happened across her Facebook profile and realized that she and Gena, both journalists, worked together in Wisconsin for several years. Deb was relatively new in town, so the next time I saw her, I said something about not being a stalker, but I thought we might have a connection in common… oh, and would you like write for my blog?

And the rest is history.

Then it the whole thing got META.

In November, Deb wrote a piece for Mommy Sanest about baby sprinkles — smaller showers for moms who are expecting their second child. Who would have thought that less than six months later, Gena, Deb, and I (we’ve never all been in the same room!) would be celebrating together at a baby sprinkle…

for Gena! Baby no. 2 is on his way (yep, his).

Gena’s sister, who lives in Chicago, threw an adorable destination sprinkle for Gena. Family came from Ohio, friends from Wisconsin, Gena from Arizona (obviously), and Deb and I from the ‘burbs. The theme was cowboys and cactuses.

Don’t worry Internet Police, Gena’s just refreshing my prosecco mimosa. Isn’t she an adorable pregnant lady? Not to mention, she’s a great host… why on earth is she getting me a drink?

It was good food and lots of fun. I always love catching up with Gena’s family, and it was so cool to finally hang out with Deb and Gena in the same place, at the same time. I feel lucky to have both of these women in my life, and the random connection really does make it all the more special.

Anyway, I can’t tell you how excited I am for Gena (and not just because I know this will give her good material to blog about). Gena is an amazing mom, which you probably already figured out based on her creative playdates and smart parenting tips, and Ellie is going to be an awesome big sister. I told her that when her son is 21, I will be able to say, “I’ve been friends with your mom for 40 years,” when I call him on my space phone from Mommy Sanest’s moon office.

Congratulations Gena!

How to Make Mom Friends

Being a new mom can be lonely. Literally one minute you’re not a mom and the next you have this living thing that you have to feed and care for and keep alive — all while your hormones fluctuate wildly and the number of hours you sleep plummets. Then, a few weeks after your baby is born, your partner heads back to work, family members clear out, and you’re left alone in your home for eight-hour stretches at a time (or more) with a tiny creature who communicates by screaming.

It’s time to make mom friends.

How to make mom friends: Seven practical tips from BTDT moms to help you move past your comfort zone, strike up conversations and get to know other moms.

Here’s the great news: Becoming a mom is a rare point in our adult lives when people who are otherwise settled are ready and willing (and maybe a little desperate) to make new connections. All new moms need mom friends, and nothing bonds two sleep-deprived women faster than an intense discussion about feeding schedules and birth stories.

And yet, it can be hard to figure out how to make mom friends and daunting to push past your social comfort zone. But it’s worth the effort — mom friends help us stay sane and balanced during the ups and downs of raising children. They give you an outlet to discuss everything from swaddling to potty training to preschool and beyond. They say, “You’re a good mom,” when you need to hear it most. And they pass along wisdom and tips for making life more manageable (or they hang out with you in the chaos).

HOW TO MAKE MOM FRIENDS: 7 PRACTICAL TIPS FROM MOMS

To put together these “how to make mom friends” tips, I reached out to some IRL mom friends as well as a few of my favorite mom bloggers. I asked them how they make mom friends — in different stages of parenthood, when they’ve made a major move, or just when they feel like they need to expand their network. Several moms likened it to dating. A few of us had good conversations about the importance of connecting with other moms as a way to start to feel part of a larger community. I have also included my own thoughts and experiences. So whether you’re a brand new mom or you have older children, here are a few tips on how to make mom friends.

TIP 1: JOIN A GROUP.

Groups for moms are readily available — online, offline and (likely) in your neighborhood.

If you’re pregnant or have a young child and are looking to connect online, Babycenter and The Bump are good places to start. They have online groups dedicated to every stage of pregnancy and early parenthood, as well as local groups.

My number one tip for making mom friends is to join groups! Online groups work especially well. I joined due date groups for both of my kids while pregnant. While the groups are online, there are several local moms that I have since met and established offline relationships with as well. These groups are a great source of support through pregnancy and all of your baby’s milestones and they are always available 24/7! I also join local Meetup groups in my neighborhood, which are great for getting out of the house, having play dates for my kids, and meeting other mom friends!”

— Jen of Breastfeeding Needs

You can also find local mom groups on Facebook. Several communities set up private Facebook groups where you can ask for advice, sell or buy baby items, and get to know other moms in your area. Informal, on-the-fly playdates often arise from these groups. Consider posting that you’re heading to the neighborhood park once other moms have a sense of who you are. You might end up with a companion or two.

Meetup is a hotbed of moms groups. Many cities and neighborhoods have active Meetup.com groups for moms with young kids. Can’t find one in your neighborhood? Most groups welcome moms from surrounding areas, so check out nearby towns to see if there’s an active group. These groups host tons of activities, playdates, and even moms nights outs, and people will expect and be open to newbies showing up.

Some communities have larger groups and forums separate of Facebook or Meetup.com. For example, Chicago has the Neighborhood Parents Network, which includes online forums, events, resources, and more. Bump Club and Beyond is active in a handful of cities. Google or ask around to find out if there’s a local group you should be aware of.

If an already-tight-knit local moms group feels intimidating, how about checking out a group that coincides with another interest of yours? That will give you obvious common ground with other moms as well as an activity to focus on while you get comfortable.

I’ve met friends through Fit4Mom. Fit4Mom has Stroller Strides classes (a stroller fitness program) that caters primarily to moms who stay at home, but they also have moms-only fitness classes in the evenings and on weekends, and they host playdates and moms nights out. Mommy and me yoga or infant massage classes are options for moms with babies under six months. Or perhaps you’ve found a passion for (or just want to learn more about) a specific parenting topic. Babywearing International has chapters in several states, and so does La Leche League.

Don’t forget, your hospital likely has a group for new moms (and often has a lactation consultant attend them, so you can ask your breastfeeding questions, too). If you can’t find information online, call — hospital websites can be cumbersome. And if the hospital where you gave birth doesn’t have a group, check others nearby — they likely don’t require you to be a patient.

Join a group where you will meet other moms. My hospital had a postnatal class I went to for four weeks after my baby was born, and that’s where I met a few of my closest mom friends. And don’t be afraid to stalk them on Facebook. I did that with a woman I thought would be a good friend after I only met her once. It felt so strange, but she was grateful I looked her up and sharing on Facebook together really helped us solidify our friendship. I felt awkward for a few minutes as I searched her name initially, but it paid off sooooo much in creating a now close, dear mommy friend.”

— Jennifer of A Splendid Messy Life

TIP 2: PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE.

This is easier said than done — I realize that. But I look at this in two ways: 1) You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by making the first move with another mom; and 2) Your desire to make mom friends is not unique. I don’t mean that to sound harsh, but if you’re looking to make friends, chances are that the mom you see at the park or Target or music class is wanting to connect as well and feels similarly shy about reaching out. She’ll likely appreciate you striking up a conversation, asking for her number, or suggesting you connect via Facebook.

Two of my good mom friends have moved across the country with their young children. Understanding that you have to push past your comfort zone if you want to meet people becomes even more critical if you’re new in town.

After moving to Tucson a year ago and knowing no one, I was on a serious hunt for friends. Not just for me, but my daughter, too. And after being a reporter for 10 plus years, I have no problem starting conversations with strangers — whether they like it or not. I honestly remember getting gas one day and thinking “that woman’s daughter looks about Ellie’s age. Maybe I should follow her and see if she lives near me.” Hello crazy stalker lady! Ultimately, I have found the best way to make mom friends is by enrolling your child in some sort of activity. I’ve met some really wonderful ladies through Ellie’s school and her gymnastics class. All the moms instantly have something in common — we’re all dealing with the joys and horrors of raising a 3-year-old. Ellie’s teacher was really wonderful and helped make an introduction to a mom she thought I’d hit it off with, and we totally did. So don’t fear a little match-making. And the gymnastics class has the added benefit of being hands-off for moms, so we get in some quality chat time while waving to our kiddos through the glass windows.

— Gena, Mommy Sanest contributor and freelance journalist

Be more assertive than you might normally be. We lived in three different places before my daughter was 18 months old. By that time I’d figured out that a casual meeting at the park or library could turn into a friend, especially if you have similar-aged children and live nearby. But you have to capitalize on the situation. Three months after I’d moved to our current home, I was walking my dog with my daughter and we happened across a family sitting outside their house. Their daughter looked to be about the same age, so I stopped to talk to them. It turned out there was only a one month age difference and we lived less than a half mile away. We exchanged numbers and we’ve now had several play dates. I’m not sure I would have run into her again by chance (soon after that the weather turned cold), so it was important that we exchanged numbers at that first meeting. I’m not that aggressive by nature, so it’s taken me a little out of my comfort zone to ask for someone’s number after one meeting. It feels a little like dating!

— Mom to a two-year-old daughter

Here’s another great example: My sister and her husband took a pretty big risk putting themselves out there when they threw my nephew’s second birthday. They’re also relatively new in town, and they decided to invite everyone from our daycare to the birthday party. We go to a home daycare with about 10 kids who are all close in age. I think it was incredibly courageous on their part — it can be nerve racking and I’m sure they worried about the other parents thinking it was weird or not wanting to come (we all worry about this stuff!). Three-quarters of the daycare showed up, and it ended up being a great opportunity to finally formally meet and talk with parents who we had previously only seen in passing. If you’re willing to put the invitation out there, people often will accept.

But you don’t have to be new in town, and striking up conversations with other moms can be casual. Tune into what’s going on around you — you’ll likely notice moms with similarly-aged children seem eager to chat. Have an easy, go-to opening line. When I see a mom whose child is close in age to my daughter, I ask, “How old is your little one?” It’s a good line because it can easily lead to a conversation or just be an off-handed question with a quick answer, but it gives you a chance to see if the other mom is interested in chatting.

I treat finding mommy friends similar to how I sought out my husband. Being open to talking with others when out and about and observing if we had any initial similar traits (a good sense of humor, laid back style of parenting, positive outlook). Oh and the best FREE places to make new mommy friends are the park and library!

— Amanda of Queen of the Land of Twigs n’ Berries (a local blog for Chicago-area moms)

Don’t be afraid to approach a fellow mom and ask to exchange numbers! This would be mostly from the stay-at-home mom perspective, but also as a new mom — without work, school, etc., it becomes really hard to be in scenarios where you’re introduced to someone. One of my closest friends right now I met at the grocery store. She had a baby the same age, and thank goodness we approached each other and agreed to exchange numbers.

— Nikki of MBA SAHM

Finally, when I went back to work full time after having my daughter, I felt like the opportunity to meet and bond with other new moms was slipping away. With the added pressures of balancing work with raising a baby and maintaining a household, it seemed impossible to make these new relationships a priority. But, I knew that I wanted to strengthen my network of moms who could empathize with my situation. And knowing that time is always at a premium for parents of young children, I decided to make an effort to seek out other new moms at my workplace.

Striking up conversations with other moms at work isn’t typically too far outside of most people’s comfort zones. But when these chats turned into longer conversations, they’d often end with a passing suggestion of lunch. I used to write these offers off as a polite way to exit a pleasant conversation, but I decided to start making good on them. Once I got over the initial hesitation of sending a follow-up email, I became more proactive with my invitations. I ended up with a few regular lunch dates, women I could commiserate with about work and motherhood, and some new allies at my company.

TIP 3: GO WHERE MOMS GO.

Some moms don’t feel comfortable actively seeking out friends or making the first move, but just going where other moms go will often naturally lead to meeting new people, even if your kids are the ones who initially make the connection.

My number one tip for making mommy friends is to go to the park. As a playground regular, you will start to see familiar faces and gradually get to know other families. And as you begin to teach your child how to interact other kids (Hi, what’s your name? Nice to meet you!) — you will end up modeling this behavior for your child, too, as you chat with caregivers. If you remember, bring along an extra set of sand toys or bubbles to share.

— Jennifer of Flying Pinwheel Designs (adorable birthday party printables)

You’ll inevitably be surrounded by other moms and kiddos at the park, the library, indoor play cafes, and the zoo. You can also sign up your kiddo up for classes (think music, gymnastics, dance, soccer) where you’re guaranteed to be in the same place at the same time with moms of similar-aged children.

TIP 4: DON’T DISCOUNT FACEBOOK OR YOUR CURRENT CIRCLE OF FRIENDS.

I was talking to one of my closest friends about her experience making mom friends. Our group of friends from the city has dispersed in every direction around Chicagoland, but we were very lucky that several of our pre-kid friends had children around the same time we did.

Even though we don’t live in the same ‘hood anymore, this has been a tremendous support system — nearly every one of us has had a friend on a similar pregnancy and birth timeline, and we’ve had the mamas who went before us there to provide wisdom and reassurance. Even though it’s nice (and necessary) to have mom friends in close proximity, text messages, Google chats, and phone calls from mom friends you’ve known since before you were a mom are worthwhile too.

Your Facebook network is another great resource when you want to make mom friends. My friend pointed out that she recently reconnected with an old friend when they realized (via Facebook, of course) that they were both pregnant with similar due dates — they suddenly had new common ground after having lost touch for a few years and are now in regular contact. When my sister moved to Illinois, it turned out that one of her Facebook friends, a contact from high school in Ohio, lived 10 minutes away from her new home. Not only that, she has a little boy the same age as my nephew. Finally (last Facebook example, I promise), with the help of Facebook, I realized that one of the women in my Fit4Mom Body Back class knew a very good friend of mine from college. This added connection gave us even more to talk about when we were first getting to know each other.

TIP 5: KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THE PREGNANT LADIES YOU MEET WHEN YOU’RE A MOM-TO-BE.

When you’re pregnant with first child, you likely have something that you won’t have once that kid gets here: Time. Time to do things like go to prenatal yoga and birth classes and cloth diapering workshops (or whatever), where you’ll meet other moms-to-be.

Get their numbers. Friend them on Facebook. Keep in touch. I met one of my neighborhood mom friends at a prenatal yoga class, and I know plenty of women who put together moms groups with the women they met in birth classes. Even if you’re only going to a couple of hospital classes (rather than a longer-term class dedicated to a particular birthing method, like the Bradley Method or other natural birth class), if you find out mom-to-be life nearby, get her information. Send her a text after you both give birth to see how she’s doing, and see if she’s up for sitting around and feeding babies together.

TIP 6: IT REALLY IS KIND OF LIKE DATING…

And just like you didn’t marry every potential partner you had dinner with, you’re not going to be best friends forever with every mom.

That’s OK. Some of these connections might end up being causal friends (or friends of convenience for a period of time), others might just be acquaintances. But if you’re lucky (and you probably will be), one or two or a maybe even a handful will become friends for the long haul.

All of these connections have value. If you’re putting down roots in a new neighborhood or want to feel more connected to a community, it’s great to know names and recognize friendly faces and be able to say hello at the local farmers market. Keep in mind, people connect differently at different points in their lives — the mom you didn’t click with at the park might become your ally during some PTO drama 10 years from now.

You never know, and it’s worth keeping an open mind, which brings me to…

TIP 7: LET GO OF PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS.

Two people actually gave me tips that spoke to this idea of not having preconceived notions about other moms, and it really struck a cord with me. Here’s why: When you’re a parent, you have to make choices all the time. And when you’re a new mom, every single choice feels like a major, earth-shattering, sink-or-swim, screw-my-child-up-for-life or raise-a-well-adjusted-kid decision — and moreover, some people (I’m looking at you, Internet) would have us believe that whatever choices you make, you are in direct opposition to parents who are making different choices. It truly doesn’t have to be like this. We’re all in this together, trying to do the best for our kids, our families, and ourselves. Remind yourself when you start to fall down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and judgment (they go hand and hand, and it will happen) that there are lots of right choices — they just aren’t all right for you.

Share a bottle of wine. I’m only half-joking, but the best thing you can do is let your guard down. We moved to a new neighborhood almost two years ago when our son was about 10 months old. It took me a while to make friends because I commute into the city every day, and many of the moms in our neighborhood, who have kids the same age, stay at home. It took me a little while to let my guard down because I assumed the stay-at-home moms judged me for dropping my son off at daycare every day and working. It’s only recently that I started to realize we’re all in the same boat. We all have similar worries, frustrations. We’re moms. So share a bottle of wine, swap stories, laugh, and you’ll start to make a new friend in no time.

— Mom of a toddler

I think that for any mom, it is important to be open to the parenting styles of other moms. Moms can learn a lot from well, moms! Yes it’s nice to surround yourself with moms who are similar, but if you’re a mom, you know that every child is different, making every mom different. I believe that if you go into a relationship open-minded, you are going to get more out of it.

— Jules of One Ruud Mom

Do you have other tips on how to make mom friends? Do you find connecting with other moms to be easy, or do you struggle to push past your comfort zone?