Swimming Lessons with your Baby

Hi everyone! Caitlin here on the blog this week to share with you about my experience at swimming lessons with my toddler, Aileen!

Covid19 Considerations

I originally started writing about this after our spring swimming lessons, which ended around the same time the shutdown due to Covid19 started in our province.

Now, as we move into the fall, many extracurricular activities are restarting with a ‘new normal’. In the coming weeks, Aileen and I will be starting her next level of swim lessons, with smaller classes, no physical contact with the instructor, and time limits in the change room.

Frequent hand washing, physical distancing, and wearing a mask are all a part of our new normal to stay safe.

This means we have to make our time at the pool as safe and efficient (in terms of getting in and out) as possible, while still hopefully enjoying this special activity that we both love so much as a way to stay healthy both physically and mentally.

While my family is choosing to join these activities again, with safety precautions, each family needs to carefully consider what is right for them. I hope some of these tips can help you create a safe transition to this new world, as we all try to do what's best for our families.

Swimming lessons are a great way to spend time having fun and bonding with your little, and there are tons of benefits to early exposure to water and water safety. At least in the early years, it is usually a fairly inexpensive activity too, so I highly recommend it to all my mom friends.

Getting your little one ready and too the pool can seem like a lot of work, but once you are there I promise it is so worth the fun and bonding time! Here are my tips to make your trip to the pool a little easier.

Swimsuits and Pool bags

First off, let’s talk about swimsuits. If you’re child isn’t potty trained you’ll want to use a swim diaper either under the swim suit, or instead of bottoms. Swim diapers contain poop, unlike swimsuits which would let any solids make a mess of the pool!

Did you know Lil Helper recently released an improved swim diaper!? The new swim diapers are made out of swimsuit material rather than PUL which allows water to pass through more easily without any solids (aka the dreaded pool poop) escaping.

Aileen wearing the same swim diaper almost a year apart. Just like Lil Helper diapers the swim diapers have long lasting fit so you don’t have to worry about buying new as your child grows!

Next, your bag. When heading out for some wet and wild fun with your little, you need to consider how you are going to carry your swimsuits and towels when they are both fry and wet. The Lil Helper Dry/Wetbag is the ideal bag for swimming lessons. You can fit everything you need in the dry side and all your wet stuff and towels in the wet side afterwards!

But I also recommend bringing a spare reusable tote, especially if you are taking lessons in the winter – a little extra room just helps make everything easier to juggle.

Packing for Swimming Lessons

So what should you pack in your bag for the pool? Here is my list:

  • Underwear for afterwards
  • Spare change for getting a locker
  • 1 towel
  • Extra socks
  • Snacks
  • 1 spare swim diaper and swim shirt for little, plus wipes
  • 1 clean diaper for afterwards
  • Wet bag if you aren’t already packing everything in a wet/dry bag!

I think I learned a lesson on what to pack each time we went. I blame mom brain, but I always forgot something! I hope this list helps you avoid some of my swimming lesson mistakes.

Underwear for afterwards (for you)

To save time at the pool, I usually wear my swimsuit under my clothes on the way there. This helps when you have a toddler with you who is impatient to get going! But beware – don’t forget you will want something dry afterwards!

Spare change for getting a locker

Most public pools offer lockers to rent for $0.50 to $1.00. I always bring my phone and car keys in with me, so I like having that security when leaving my belongings in a public place. Check online or call your local pool ahead of time to find out how much change you need.

1 Towel

At least for my toddler and I, I found that sharing a towel saved us space in our bag, and drying off and packing up is such a quick process, you probably don’t need two.

Aileen proudly carries our towel to the car after her swimming lessons.

Extra socks

This is perhaps my most out-there recommendation but an important one! Most public pools require no outside shoes past a certain point and the first time we took off our shoes but left on our socks – which got soaked once we stepped in the change room! Save yourself the barefoot trip home and bring a spare, or leave your socks tucked in with your shoes at the entrance.

Snacks (for us it was usually granola bars – something easy!)

My little was a snack machine after our swimming lessons! And bonus, this usually kept her occupied long enough for me to get changed in peace as well. Keep your little busy so they don’t crawl out of the stall while you are half undressed!

1 spare swim diaper and swim shirt for little, plus wipes

Just in case the dreaded pool poop happens to you! It would be a shame to have to leave early.

1 Clean diaper for after

Getting warm and dry is key after swim lessons. I always change my little first so her lip doesn’t start quivering and once I had to put her back in her diaper she came in – thankfully it was Lil Helper charcoal so it still felt dry!

Wet bag if you need it

Don’t forget your things will be wet afterward. Protect what you packed with a wet bag. Lil Helper has large and small options but I find the dry/wetbag is the perfect size for swimming lessons. I’m able to carry all our dry stuff in the front and our wet things fit in the large pocket at the end.

Even on the days when I forgot something, our swimming lessons were still a wonderful time. It is a great opportunity to spend time with your child without any distractions, and will hopefully build a lifelong love of water and fitness for your little.

What else do you like to do to bond with your babies and toddlers? Share down below!

The best blog you’ll read all day. PERIOD.

Let’s talk periods. The good. The bad. The gross.

Remember way back, when you might have thought naively, “I can't wait to have my period”! It seemed so grown up. So mature.

Then it actually happened.

All of a sudden that glorious rite of passage turned into a proper pain in the, you know, sides. Because of those cramps. Well, and the non stop bleeding from your nether region, which can be pretty traumatic if you have no idea what's happening to you.

What it feel like to be on your period

Whether you got your period early (I still remember the poor girl in my grade 5 class who had hers) or a little later we all dealt with similar issues. Whether your cramps were light or so excruciating you had to miss school. Whether you experienced the joys of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) or didn't- if you had a bad day, parents, family members and strangers alike would assume you were and always ask *eyeroll*

And for the rest of your days people felt they could comment on your emotional state by assuming you were “pms-ing”.

Emotional huh? Must be on your period.

Regardless of whether or not your experiences were the exact same as the next person we had one thing in common.

We all had the navigate the waters of menstrual products.

The embarrassment of having to buy them. The confusion as to what the heck all those different sizes, absorbencies and colours meant. The struggle and pain of trying to figure out a tampon and how to insert it. Oi.
I still remember my first experience with those. My mom only had the old school ones in huge, thick cardboard applicators (definitely not meant for my freshly post-pubescent lady bits) I got it half-way in and thought, “ok. This will be fine? I guess?” SMH.
It most certainly was not!

You seemingly had to figure it all out on your own, because periods weren't talked about. They weren't normalized. They were something that was hidden and barely whispered about. With silly euphemisms to describe them, like “Aunt Flo coming to visit” or “riding the crimson wave” or the most crass, that a lot of bad ass girls would use when referring to theirs, was being “on the rag”.

Hiding menstrual products in the deepest, darkest crevices of your purse or backpack and praying they never fell out.
Remember that tampon commercial where they advertised them being so discreet a boy could shake it like a packet of sugar and never actually know what it was, lest we offend his delicate sensibilities?

Things have gotten better since then.

Thankfully periods are no longer the intensely taboo subject of yester year. People are talking about them. Using proper terminology. Monthly bleeding is no longer whispered about and thank whatever deity you worship for that!

Periods have gotten more commonplace and there has been a shift in the menstrual products offered. No longer are we pigeonholed to using just tampons and pads.

No longer are the commercials focusing on just the happiest of girls, giggling and fresh, while riding a horse (seriously? why were there always horses?) which is great because I honestly questioned those commercials and ads. Or more honestly, I questioned myself. I never looked fresh faced and felt that happy. Are you kidding? I was sore, and miserable and could sometimes be sporting a hormone related pimple. Sigh. Puberty.

Those commercials just made me wonder what was wrong with me. Never once thinking that others felt my misery or anything, because, of course we never talked about periods, remember?

Now, instead there are alternatives like period underwear, cups, and reusable menstrual pads. Rejoice! Not only do we have options but we have green options! Reusable options to make our imprint on this world a little less. However the options can STILL be overwhelming.

Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups seem great and I know many a person who swears by them. They come in different sizes (as do we all) and finding the right fit can be tricky but once you do you’ll be thrilled with life!
Did you know you can even feed your plants your period blood?!
Or so Ive heard but haven't tried. Waste not, want not and all. I personally have mental images of Audrey II.

Unfortunately for me I know what a spazz I am and trying to insert a cup correctly and then remove it delicately, without spilling a drop -like Eddie Murphy in The Golden Child- would end in total disaster. I would end up looking like a crime scene, so for me a cup, especially in public, is out.

Period Underwear

I love the idea of period underwear (we all have them anyway if we’re honest! The ratty ones that hide out in the back of our drawer 3 weeks out of the month – you know the ones!) but I feel like I have too much “flow” to use those just on their own.
I do love the idea of having them as a bit of extra backup protection though! Nothing worse than having your pad leak and pool through your underwear and often times your pants.

Reusable Pads

There are also reusable pads. New modern options that are not your grandmothers period rags. Layers of absorbent material wrapped in pretty prints that snap or velcro around your underwear. Wear. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

Lil Helper now make these reusable menstrual pads for the people out there that mestruate! They come in different sizes. And new prints. The excitement is real.

There are liners which are on the smaller size and perfect for those who wear cups that need the extra bit of protection. The regular size is meant to mimic the size and thickness of a regular thin disposable and the heavy/postpartum Hyps are meant to hold even the heaviest of flows.

The Hypatia pads are certainly on the way to making life easier every time your body gives you the red alert. So if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly option give these a try!

https://lilhelper.ca/product-category/menstrual/

Is there more to say on the topic of periods? You bet your ovaries.
But that's a blog post for another day.

Are you willing to try a cup or reusable pad? Do you use reusable menstrual products now? What are your experiences with them?

Teaching Our Kids to Love Their Bodies as We Struggle Loving Our Own

Hey y’all! It’s Jess again.

Today I’m going to go into something that I think is super important and definitely not talked about enough- body image. I know we think about our own body image all the time but that’s not really what I’m talking about- I’m talking about our kids seeing us. How do we make our kids feel more confident in their bodies when we aren’t comfortable in our own?

I have always struggled with my body. I have never been comfortable in my own skin. I know now that so much of that stems from my own childhood and experiences growing up.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog posts, you know I am part of a Latinx family. Well, my family in particular loved to talk about bodies. “Te estas poniendo rellenita” meaning you’re filling up/getting chubby. “Estas muy flaca. Come más” meaning you’re too skinny. Eat more.

All. The. Time. To everyone.

I have found this to be a common theme with my other Latinx friends but I will not be so bold as to say that this is an issue in all Latinx families because all families are different.

Anywho, when I found out I was pregnant, I went above and beyond to train my brain so I would never speak badly about my body in front of my kid.

I didn’t want her to grow up with all the same insecurities I did. I set what I thought were realistic expectations for postpartum so I wouldn’t feel pressured to “bounce back.” To be honest, I didn’t feel that. I loved my body. I made a whole other human whom I am still in absolute awe of. It definitely helped that I had essentially “bounced back.”

Well, cut to two babies in under two years who both nurse and no free time ever, I am looking like a hot mess express pretty much all the time. Not doing great things for my confidence.

Still, I have worked hard to ensure my kids never hear me speak negatively about my body. I don’t always get it perfect but I try every day. These are some of the things that have worked for us:

  1. Pay attention to media. What are your kids watching? Getting nostalgic and wanting to watch a movie from your childhood? Watch it first and check for how they speak about bodies and food.
  2. Don’t speak poorly about your body. This includes- I need to work out, I shouldn’t eat that, I’m on a diet, I need to get skinny, My pants don’t fit anymore, My body isn’t what it used to be.” These all seem harmless but can lead to so much damage in a child without the understanding that just because my body isn’t what it used to be, doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful and powerful.
  3. Do speak positively about your body. This includes- I am so strong, I love to run, I like working out because I feel powerful, I love to eat different foods, My body is perfect.
  4. Books books books. Y’all already know I’m obsessed with books. Books about having positive self-image are incredible additions to any library.
  5. Create a good relationship with food. I am a huge believer that nobody should be forced to eat. Ever. Some days I eat enough for a small army and some days I only eat a sandwich, a smoothie, and fruit but it fills me up. We all have different days. Days where we want to eat everything we see and days where we don’t care too much for food.
  6. No “bad” foods. I totally get not spoiling dinner with a carton of ice cream but when we give dessert only if “you eat all your veggies” we are making veggie the obstacle (negative) to get to the prize (positive) thus reinforcing that ice cream or whatever other desserts you planned has a higher value and satisfaction quotient than say broccoli.
  7. Wear clothes you feel good in. I am so guilty of this. Especially during COVID because I hate shopping for myself. I hate buying bigger clothes for myself when I have all the intentions of losing weight. All this leads to is our kids watching us feel and look uncomfortable in our own clothes and as a result, our skin.
  8. Set realistic goals. If you want to lose weight, that’s totally okay. Trying to lose 10 lbs in a week is not realistic and can lead to harm when our kids see us starving ourselves and working so hard to get to a magic number. When trying to lose weight, it is best to try for more reasonable goals like one to two lbs a week so we feel inspired and are constantly reinforced by achieving goals that are within our reach.

Let’s be real- this has absolutely nothing to do with the number on the scale. I know that number has haunted many of us for years but now is the time to change that.

Let’s teach our kids to not care about a meaningless number. It does not measure our health or our worth. Do you feel good? Beautiful? Fit? Healthy? That is enough. The number is irrelevant.

You are beautiful. Your body is beautiful. Wear it with pride so your children can too.

What are some ways you discuss foods in a positive way? What are some of your favorite non-physical compliments to give your children? Most importantly, what’s your favorite thing about your body? Drop it in the comments and let’s spread some body positivity today.

How to talk to people again once the Covid-19 Pandemic is over

Hey y’all. It’s Jess again with a very important PSA. If you’ve been quarantined for the last few months with very little to no human contact outside of your family, you are now, most likely socially awkward if not straight-up weird. Trust me. Do you remember your child’s first day of school? Yup. Like that.

I am a social butterfly. I LOVE talking. My mom says I give her headaches because I never shut up once I started talking.

I didn’t get it until my first baby started talking… But now, she even talks in her sleep.

Anyway, the other day I made the decision to socially distance with a friend. I NEEDED it. We went to the park. Set up our blankets and basically screamed at each other from 6+ feet away.

Remember being in the playground standing in line for jump rope and seeing your bestie across the yard but not being able to risk your spot in line so instead you had a full-blown convo from across the yard? Yup. That was us.

We were both so eager to talk to another person that we didn’t stop the whole time.

Now, talking a bunch isn’t weird right? No, of course not. My kid does it all the time and it can be downright adorable. This is why things were weird- we had no filter. None. Any sense of “maybe I shouldn’t say that went right out the window.”

Our conversation was so bizarre too. I talked for 20 straight minutes about snails. My daughter is into them so I have done a ton of research on everything snail. Its what 90% of my conversations consist of now so it’s what I had to share.

My friend and I spoke on the phone the next day about all the inappropriate things we said to each other and how we basically forgot how to human. Which leads me here… We have all gone a little weird. That’s right. We have become our toddlers.

No need to worry. I am going to go through some quick steps on how to once again communicate with other people so you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

Step 1: DO NOT TOUCH

Obviously we are all up on the restrictions but many of us used to hug, kiss, shake hands pre-COVID and that is just not a possibility anymore. I’m not going to lie, I almost went in for a hug despite being super paranoid of any human contact. It is just a force of habit. So, I repeat, NO TOUCHING. Back to Kindergarten rules. Hands to yourself.

Step 2: Pleasantries

You might have hated pleasantries before but they are a crucial part of not word vomiting all your innermost thoughts at this point in time.

Repeat after me: “Hello.” Pause a few seconds to let the other person answer. “How are you?” Pause once more to let the person answer. “How’s (child/spouse/pet/plant/anyone else they care about)?”

Once again, pause. Take a moment to practice in the mirror if need be. Make sure you pause so as to not overwhelm the other person and to appear normal.

What do you do if they ask you “How are you?”? It is okay.

Do not panic.

Respond with one of the following: “great, tired, good, not bad, I’ve been better.” Woah, that was exhausting.

Did you realize how difficult talking to other humans is? Yeah, me too. No wonder kids skip this whole part altogether.

Step 3: Word Vomit

You have been cooped up for months. There is no way to stop it. Embrace it.

Talk about snails for 20 minutes.

The good news is, we are all kind of weird right now so your friend won’t be alarmed when you do this step. Talk about any and everything your heart desires.

My daughter tells everyone about our dog's poop. When we walk around the neighborhood she yells at people across the street if she sees poop so everyone knows. She also does this with snails.

So, just listen to your friend's wild new activities. Are they super into baking now and talking about how they score their bread perfectly with a new tool they got from Etsy that looks like a UFO? Maybe, maybe not.

Either way, just take in all the weird you’re about to absorb and be at peace with all the weird you’re putting down.

Step 4: Goodbyes

At some point, you have to leave right? Yes, I know.

It is so sad to leave other humans. I totally understand why kids throw tantrums when it’s time to go now. Now, say goodbye in your preferred form – “goodbye, see you alligator, catch you later, chat soon” or any others you may have up your sleeve. Resist the pre-COVID urge to hug or shake hands. Just don’t do it. We all have cooties right now.

Once you have accomplished this and are walking back to your car/house, start to think about/obsess about all the things you just said that were kind of weird. This is totally normal. It is the new normal.

All jokes aside, we will see people again. I think. I hope. When we do, pull out this handy dandy guide on how to once again communicate with other humans. Under no circumstance

Who are some of the people you are most excited to see?

If you have seen people have you had any weird conversations? Feel free to share your embarrassment with us in the comments below!