Love & Loss: Mother’s Day When You Are Grieving

Like many holidays, Mother’s Day can be a difficult day when you are grieving. And in my experience it changes with each passing year after a loss. Be ready for your feelings, be kind to yourself, and be sure to practice self-care any way you need.

It has been more than 10 years since my mother died, and we were estranged for over a year when she passed away. To say my grief process has been long and complicated would be an understatement. I was only 17 when she died, and in the years since I’ve moved through grief in various ways and become a mother myself.

The most difficult part of grief for me has been when it creeps in unexpectedly. A complicated, often taboo subject, it is difficult to navigate alone. I have found that having a plan has helped me manage my feelings and get through days that I can expect to be more difficult, like Mother’s Day.

The first year after my mother died, I didn’t realize that grief would come in waves and sneak up on me. I didn’t plan for Mother’s Day, and I was caught off guard when I found myself in heavy mourning all over again on the day. I learned that day through lots of tears to not let that happen again.

By the fifth year, I was ready. I created a routine. I was prepared with simple, healthy food, a cleared schedule, a book to journal in and another to read, and a candle to light as a way to remember her. But I was surprised again. Pleasantly surprised, to not be overwhelmed by tidal waves of grief. The day came and went. That's when I knew that I was finally through it. Not that I will never experience sadness when I think of my mom, but that I can think of her and not be swallowed up by the sadness.

Having a ritual gives you space to feel your feelings, time, and grace. If it turns out you don’t need it that is ok, but it is better to be prepared than surprised by your feelings.

Things to try in your ritual:

Journal

It doesn’t matter if its just a few notes in an old notebook, or you keep a beautiful and perfectly decorated bullet journal. Writing down feelings is a wonderful way of letting them out. Write down a favorite memory. Write a letter to your mom. Write a letter to your past or future self. Give yourself space and ink to let it out.

Find the perfect bag for all your journaling supplies.

Read

Reading whether for pleasure or processing grief is a wonderful activity to bring yourself some peace when you are grieving. If you are looking for books to help you with the loss of your mother, I recommend:

  • Letters from Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman
  • Brene Brown, honestly any of her work
  • If you had a complicated relationship with your mother, you might also enjoy Gabor Mate’s work, his book In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts, in particular helped me gain perspective on my mom’s life and struggles with addiction

Watch a Movie

Maybe something comforting and cheerful from your childhood. Maybe something sad that feels good to ugly-cry to. For me, my comfort movie is My Neighbor Totoro, and I love to get comfy with a snack and relax with this movie.

Eat a favorite food

During hard times for me that's something healthy but easy, like a veggie sub. If I’m feeling more sentimental, I make a seafood chowder, which is a food that reminds me of happy times with my mom.

Make a playlist

Maybe its cheerful to help you keep your spirits up and distracted. Maybe it is sad, if you need to sink into your feelings.

Whatever your ritual, prepare it ahead of time and make it personal to you. Light a candle, create something, talk about it. Take time to acknowledge the person you are grieving. Say their name.

Motherhood & Moving Forward

When I became a mom myself, my experience of Mother’s Day changed again, but I still dread the day. As wonderful as it is to enjoy celebrating with my own young family, I’m not sure the day will ever come without a sting. It is a reminder of what is missing in my life. But I try to focus on the positive; acknowledge my sadness and move forward. Hugging my girls tight and wishing my own mother had had the chance to meet them.

When you are grieving on Mother’s Day, feelings of love and loss become messy and tangled and it can be hard to tell one from the other. The key is to acknowledge all your feelings but not let them take over completely.

Wishing all of those who are grieving this Mother’s Day joy and peace. Supporting each other during times of grief is so important.

What is a ritual you use to help with your grief? What do you miss most about the person you are grieving? Tell us in the comments down below.


About the Author

Caitlin lives in Alberta with her husband, 2 little girls, and too many animals cause she is a sucker for a rescue. When she's not chasing kids and changing fluff bums she spends her time crocheting, gardening, and binging true crime docs.


Cloth vs Disposable Diapers: The Truth about Cost, Time, & Sustainability

Cloth diapers or disposables? Sometimes it can feel like an either or choice, with the two camps pitted against each other. One side argues for reduced environmental impact and long term costs. The other speaks of convenience, accessibility, and up front costs. But is it really an either or debate?

With my first, I used disposables in the beginning. I wanted to adjust to some of the other realities of being a new parent before taking on the extra task of cloth diapering. Around one month we ran out of the case of disposables. It was time to start cloth diapers. She was in cloth diapers full time, day and night, from then until potty training.

My first in cloth on vacation at 3 months old.

When her little sister arrived, we waited a few weeks to start cloth again. We made the switch at around one month, gradually at first. A few cloth diapers a day. Now she is in cloth full time during the day, but we still use a disposable at night. She has been a naturally good sleeper. Even though we have successfully cloth diapered before, I just don’t want to mess with her sleep. I’d definitely call myself team cloth diapers. But our family still uses 2-3 disposables a day (technically, a night).

The truth is there is a time and a place for both. Lets compare.

Cloth Diaper vs Disposables: Cost

One barrier to cloth for people seems to be the start up cost. It takes money up front to build your stash, even if it does save money in the long run. That initial investment can be tough.

My second is using the same set my first did , so I can definitely say it has been cheaper to cloth for my family. Using cloth diapers across multiple kids or buying used (Did you know there is a Lil Helper Buy/Sell/Trade Facebook group?) is a great way to make sure it is truly cost effective. Lil Helper also offers a trial diaper deal if you want to try them out, save a buck, and aren’t quite ready to commit to a full stash yet.

When I buy our cases of disposables, it makes me feel motivated to stick with cloth. Every time you use cloth it offsets your costs, even if you only cloth part time.

Environmental Impact

This one is obvious. Most guesses put disposable diapers breaking down after about 500 years. The truth is we haven’t had the materials they are made of in use long enough to really know this. Regardless, they are here a long time.

While the PUL of your cloth diapers may be here a long time too, the volume won’t be. Many cloth diaper users can get away with 20-30 diapers comfortably. Used across multiple kids, or buying second hand, you are getting more use out of less, compared to putting literally thousands of disposables per kid in the landfill.

The Convenience Factor

This one, disposables probably win out. Most cloth diaper parents will tell you that the extra laundry becomes a regular part of their routine. But if there is a reason to choose disposables, it is probably this.

Convenience is why many cloth diaper users decide to use disposables for the early days of parenting. Less chores is key when you are in total sleep deprivation and often still recovering from giving birth.

There is a definite convenience factor to disposables, but there are lots of ways to make cloth diapers work in the early days too.

Choosing a one size fits all diaper like Lil Helper is a great way to get lots of use from just one set of diapers, and it is possible to get a fit on a newborn. Plus, if you are exclusively breastfeeding diapers don’t need extra rinsing. But still, its understandable that people choose disposables when life feels chaotic

Cloth Diapers vs Disposables at Night

One thing that many people (aka me) who try cloth diapering struggle with is taking the leap during sleep. Its one thing finding good absorption for day time when changing is easy. It is another thing to start experimenting with baby’s sleep. It can be pretty intimidating to already sleep deprived parents (aka me).

With our first, she took a long time to sleep through the night, so cloth at night seemed like no big deal because we were already up anyways. My second, however, started sleeping through the night before we made the switch. I don’t want to mess with a good thing, so we aren’t touching nighttime cloth for now.

With 2 under 3 at home, we don’t mess with sleep.

Overnight cloth diapering can be a challenge with the need for 12 hours of absorbing power, not wanting too much bulk, and building a good diaper for how your baby sleeps. Tummy sleepers may need more layers up the front of the diaper, for example. Lil Helper has you covered though with everything from overnight inserts to boosters and HELLO! A brand new crib sheet that doubles as a mattress protector just in case.

I miss when we were in cloth 100%, but if disposables are helping us get a little more rest, I’ll take that too.

I will also say, my little one has never removed a Lil Helper cloth diaper. But my youngest has removed a disposable. Inside her PJs and sleep sack. In the middle of the night. After a big poop. Oh the joys of parenthood.

Situations for Both

After experiencing that middle of the night poo-nami, I started combining the best of both worlds. When a situation comes up that I feel I just want that added convenience and absorption of a disposable, I still put a cloth diaper on over top of it. This guarantees that it stays in place and I have only on the rarest of rare occasions experienced my kids blowing out a Lil Helper. Those paper disposables just can’t contain the mess sometimes, so the extra cover on top helps!

At home and even on the go, for me I love a fluff butt. There is something so cute about the big booty of a cloth diapered babe, plus the adorable prints on the covers are much more appealing to me than the paper look and feel of disposables. But every rule has its times to be broken.

Sometimes I will reach for a disposable if we are doing a long car ride and I’m worried about compression leaks. Or sometimes on vacation, or to give your diapers a deep clean, you might decide its better to take a break from cloth. Some folks do cloth at home and disposables at day care/out and about. Its up to you and how much you think you can handle. There are pros and cons to both.

Remember, even if you only cloth diaper once a day, you are saving seven diapers a week from the landfill. If your kiddo potty trains at 2 (aka is a unicorn, it usually takes longer) that's 728 diapers saved from the landfill. Every bit helps and the more you use them, the more cost effective they become.


About the Author

Caitlin lives in Alberta with her husband, 2 little girls, and too many animals cause she is a sucker for a rescue. When she's not chasing kids and changing fluff bums she spends her time crocheting, gardening, and binging true crime docs.


On the fence about cloth diapering? Have a question about how to get started? Let us know in the comments below!

Safe Sleep 101: Popular Products & Keeping Baby Protected

At Lil Helper, we care about the well-being of kids and families. Its why we created our God Forbid Guarantee, and why we are thrilled to have teamed up with Shayna Raphael of The Claire Bear Foundation for this piece all about safe sleep. As parents, we’ve all experienced both the sleep deprivation of young kids, and the worry of wanting them always to be safe and well. To make that as simple as possible, Shayna shares her knowledge of AAP recommendations & baby products here.


Safe Sleep: The Basics

A Lil Helper fitted sheet (which doubles as a mattress protector) in a crib makes for a cozy, safe sleep space.

Safe sleep can seem overwhelming, but taking it back to basics makes it a little easier to understand. Let’s focus on the ABCs recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

A stands for Alone:

Babies should be alone in their safe sleep space, with nothing except for a fitted sheet, a sleep sack or swaddle, and a pacifier. Swaddling should end by eight weeks or baby’s first signs of rolling, and then moving to a sleep sack is a wonderful choice. Pacifier safety involves plain pacifiers, not attached to a clip or stuffed animal—but parents need not be afraid to throw a few in there so baby can reach them.

B stands for Back:

Babies should be placed on their backs at the start of every sleep. If baby rolls over by himself while in a sleep space, he can stay there, but you want to continue to place him on the back for every nap. Why? Well, babies are forever changing, and their development can sometimes come in waves. While one day a baby can roll all by herself, the next day she might be sick or overly tired and not have that same strength. So start out on the back, and let baby get there all by herself!

C stands for Crib:

Babies should sleep in a crib, bassinet, or pack n play. In the U.S., these items are highly regulated to meet ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards to keep baby safe. So if you’re ever unsure about a device, check out those standards for safe sleep!

Please note: Our guest blogger, Shayna, is sharing her wealth of knowledge based on standards in the United States. Always base your product use on the recommendations from the country you purchase your products in. In Canada, play yard’s are not recommended for sleep. For the most up to date guidelines in Canada, see here.

Infant Sleep Products

Being a new parent can be overwhelming, and if you throw in all these products on the market, it certainly adds to that uncertainty. Unfortunately, there are many products on the market that seem like a dream come true, but too many aren’t safety tested for infants. Did you know that nappers and sleepers aren’t actually regulated for sleep? While they have standards for their material, they don’t meet ASTM standards for safe sleep. Likewise, breastfeeding pillows, nests, and sleep positioners are also for awake time only. This can seem confusing when advertising shows infants sleeping in these products, but the AAP has made it very clear that the evidence shows babies are safest in regulated items.

Old School vs. Evidence-Based Practices for Safe Sleep

Perhaps the biggest obstacle when navigating infants sleep is sifting through older recommendations, new data, and family and friends telling us, “Well I did it, and it turned out fine.” Data and recommendations have changed over the years, and with that, new practices have been established. For example, inclined sleep is no longer the recommendation for congestion or reflux. It sounds counterintuitive, but babies actually clear their airways better when flat on their backs. If you are concerned about something like severe reflux or GERD, always talk to you doctor about your concerns. If they recommend inclined sleep, a medical grade monitor is much more reliable than at-home device. Sleep positioner, wedges, and bed-sharing are all practices that are no longer supported by the AAP due to risk for infants.

Don’t feel like you have to navigate this alone! If you’re in need of a safe sleep space or support navigating information, reach out to us at www.theclariebearfoundation.org.


About the Author

Shayna is an educational consultant in the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband. Together, they have had three beautiful daughters. Unfortunately, Shayna lost her second child to unsafe sleep at child care. Since that time, Shayna has become a fierce advocate for infant safety and founded a non-profit, The Claire Bear Foundation. She believes strongly, and knows first-hand, that safe sleep can save lives.


Practical Advice For A Happy Maternity Leave During COVID-19

COVID-19 wasn’t around for my pregnancy. This was my first baby; I was really looking forward to having him, having visitors and attending those parenting classes! I couldn’t wait. I ended up having an emergency C-section and had to be really careful while I healed. It was hard enough being a first time mom and now I had to heal from a C-section too. Eeek.

Finally I was healed and able to get around comfortably and then BAM- COVID.
EVERYTHING STOPPED.

Changing Expectations: Maternity Leave & Covid-19

No Visitors, No Parenting Classes, and no family coming to help.
(We live away from family so we were anticipating a lot of visitors.)
And now nothing. NOTHING. I felt on my own and alone.

When they say ‘It takes a village’, it’s because it does! My village couldn’t come and help. I felt completely HELPLESS. But after realizing that now I had all of this time to bond with my child and I didn’t have to share him with anyone except my husband… I thought ‘Well… maybe this will be ok!’ And you know what, it was. Sure, some of the days I probably had more tears than my baby did but looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Activity Ideas for Maternity Leave during Covid-19

Of course I had to get a little more creative on things to do to entertain us and to prevent the walls of my house from closing in on us.

Activities with Baby:

Walks – so many walks! And when it was too cold for a walk we did ice skating. My husband would bundle our little guy up, clip him into a sled and pull him on the ice- he loved it.
Water play on the kitchen floor.
Sensory play with colorful noodles! (He LOVED it!)
We had dance parties.
We read a lot of books.
Peek-a-boo.
A lot of sitting on the floor and helping him play with his toys, did some of that include rolling a ball and playing fetch with my child? Yes. Yes it did.

Activities with Your Partner:

I did a lot more baking!!
I became more knowledgeable about photography and took A LOT of pictures –(Lil Helper obsessed? I think so! Did you know there is an exclusive Lil Helper group for Ambassadors who love photography? Check out the Unsnapped Group for more info!)
We started some woodworking and made toys for our son after he had gone to bed. (This benefited us by giving us something to do AND helping us to provide gifts for his first birthday).

We did as much as we could to try to stay away from the TV and entertain ourselves in other ways.

But let’s be real, I totally did binge watch Tiger King.

Finding Your Village in Isolation

It was hard being on maternity leave during COVID but there were still parenting resources available. The Lil Helper family helped me any time I had a parenting question. By anytime, I literally mean ANY time… if I was up in the middle of the night with a fussy babe and a question .. someone on Unsnapped was also awake.

It’s been a year now since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a year no one will forget.

If you are having your maternity leave during this time you may not have that village you thought you would but you are strong and you’ve got this! Trying to find activities to entertain yourself is key. And when you need a virtual shoulder to cry on, your Lil Helper family will always be there.


About the Author

Ashley is a first time mom who lives in Saskatchewan. When she has free time she loves to bake -her go to is banana bread. She randomly stumbled across Lil Helper when looking for an AI2 style diaper and is so grateful she found them and the Unsnapped community that came with them.