Lessons from the Newborn Days

Lessons from the Newborn Days - There is much to appreciate and learn from those first days, weeks and months when you have a baby. Here are some of the lessons I learned in hopes that it encourages other new mamas.

When I was pregnant, I read lots of books and blogs, all full of advice for pregnancy and parenting. There was so much information about having a healthy pregnancy and countless opinions available on labor. The same is true with parenting and caring for a baby, but there were many things I didn’t know until I did it.

This was a list I began months ago when I was in the midst of caring for my newborn, Nathan. Amazingly, my little, tiny baby will turn one in a week. The past year has flown by. As I look back over the past year, I thought it fitting that I share this list now. These are a couple things I wished others had told me – or the things I wish all mama’s of newborns would know.

You don’t get a medal for having a baby without an epidural. My friend, Allison, wisely told me this piece of advice. If you want to labor without an epidural, that is certainly your prerogative. The same can be said of your decision to have an epidural. I wasn’t planning on having an epidural, but when my labor sped up too rapidly (with contractions every minute when I was only 4 cm) for the doctor’s comfort (and mine!), I opted for an epidural. I was glad I did! My sisters have amazingly labored without epidurals. We all ended up with healthy babies. This is just one of the many difference of opinions but every laboring mama gets to decide for themselves.

Enjoy your time at the hospital with nurses available at any hour of the day or night. Yes, the constant interruptions can be annoying to some but I chose to be thankful for their constant checking up on me. Ask your questions. Accept the advice they give. And be sure to take home the “free” things they give you – like bottles, diapers, pads, and formula.

Lessons from the Newborn Days - Take advantage of your nurses while you can.

If someone offers to bring you a meal, graciously take them up on the offer. It may not be a meal you’d typically cook for your family, but the time spent out of the kitchen is lovely! Even if you have meals in your freezer and feel ready to cook, still accept the gift of a free meal for what it is. A thoughtful gift!

Your baby will take all your time. Find a comfortable spot because you will be spending majority of your days (and nights) feeding your baby. Remember that the typical two hours of a newborn baby’s feeding schedule are from the start of one feeding to the start of the next – so it’s really only an hour and a half break (or less) between feedings. The time between feedings does lengthen as your baby grows. There will come a time when you can do things other than feed your baby.

Learn to appreciate any amount of sleep you can get. It’s been said to sleep whenever the baby sleeps. Sometimes that is possible but sometimes it is not. After waking up multiple times through the night, and with an early rising baby who still likes to wake around 5, I found those early morning naps (around 8am) to be just what I needed before getting started on my day. It’s also important to go to bed earlier in the newborn days because you will be up before you know it with your baby. And most importantly, remember that someday, you will sleep again!

Lesssons from the Newborn Days - Appreciate any amount of sleep you can get!

Whether you breastfeed or use formula, you need to keep your baby well-fed. I planned to nurse and, thankfully, was able to do so for the first 12 months of Nathan’s life. I never anticipated using formula, but due to his unexpected start in the NICU, he did take a bottle. After a week or so, Nathan was a primarily breastfed with only an occasional formula bottle, but I learned not to feel guilty about using formula. That said, just because your baby starts on formula doesn’t preclude you from successfully nursing. On the flip side, a little bit of occasional formula won’t hurt your baby if he / she is hungry! Nursing was the more frugal and convenient option for our family, but I have many friends who have transitioned to formula with their babies just fine.

Stock up on free formula deals before the baby is born. Even if you are not expecting to use formula,you may find you need it. For that reason, accept all the freebie samples that come in the mail, as well as from your doctor, and save them until after the baby is born. If you don’t need them, then you can easily give the formula to a friend who needs it for her baby or donate to a local pregnancy crisis center. You will save a lot of money (for you or someone else) by collecting these formula freebies.

You will question what is normal for your newborn. Should he breathe like that? Is that congestion typical? Are all babies this gassy? Is she eating enough? Is he sleeping enough? Especially if this is your first one, there will be questions. Call your Mom. Ask your doctor. Text your friends. And (cautiously) Google, if only for your own assurance. This is normal to wonder what is normal.

Plan to accomplish only one or two things a day. It may be as simple as showering and unloading the dishwasher. Or perhaps doing a load of laundry from start to finish. Keep your plans simple and you’ll be much happier at what you accomplished. This one was a hard one for me since I was used to accomplishing a lot during my days. You are still accomplishing a lot but most of that is tied to the care of your baby.

Learn how to use a baby wrap. I am convinced this relates directly to the previous lesson. You get more done when you have free arms. A baby wrap / carrier makes that possible. There are countless options! I was given a Baby K’tan and Nathan loved it. I loved it, too! He spent a lot of time in that wrap as a baby. It was a lifesaver in the grocery store and even made our walks to the post office more enjoyable.

Lessons from the Newborn Days - Learn how to use a baby wrap.

Take lots of pictures. There will come a day when you’re not snapping as many pictures as you do in those first days. Keep your camera nearby and take pictures of all those moments you want to remember. Sleeping, tummy time, bath time, in the bassinet, in the car seat, with the pacifier, and of course, take pictures of all the people who come to visit. If you are a video person, do the same. Nathan used to make this sound like a little puppy whenever he started to nurse and I wish we had recorded that sound. Oh, how we laughed!

Write down the firsts and the little (and big) events you want to remember. This is where I didn’t do as good of job as I planned. It’s hard in the sleeplessness of newborn days to keep track of all these things. I wish I would have kept a calendar attached to the fridge where I could jot little notes. I have little notes all over the place but didn’t stick with any one thing….and it’s already hard to remember the specifics of all those little moments I was so delighted by.

You are the Mama that God chose for this baby. No one else can take your place. Trust your instincts. Follow your heart. You will do things different from your Mom, sister, friends and neighbors. It’s okay. Don’t be offended by well meaning advice. You’ll choose to follow some and ignore the rest. Do what works for you and your baby and your family. Do what you and your husband believe is best for your baby!

Lessons from the Newborn Days - You are the Mama God chose for your baby!

Cherish these days because they will be over before you realize it. All too soon your baby will be sitting up and crawling and walking and the memories of these newborn days will fade. I love the quote about time spent raising children, “The days are long but the years are short.” This is most certainly true for life with a newborn.

Those are a couple pieces of advice from a mother who is past the newborn days with her (gasp) almost 1 year old son. What pieces of advice would you add to this list?

Sun Maid Instant Win: 14,000 Free Books

Win a Free Children's Book


Here is another instant win sweepstakes and one that I’m particularly excited about! Sun Maid Raisins are giving away 14,000 free children’s books – or 200 daily! Through May 23rd, head over here daily to enter for your chance to instantly win one of 14,000 free book including Goodnight Moon,The Grouchy Ladybug, or Paddington ($17.99 value). Again, there will be a total of 200 winners every day. Let me know if you win a book!

Thanks, Hip 2 Save!

Kroger: Basketball Bracket Instant Win Game

Kroger Basketball Bites Bracket

Kroger has a new instant win game called Basketball Bites Bracket. Daily, two different snacks will be shown. Vote on your favorite for a chance to win one of the following prizes. Prizes will be digitally loaded to your Kroger card. You can play daily, now through April 6th. Let me know if you and what you win! Instant win prizes include:

  • 250 – $25 Gift Card for the Kroger Co. Family of Stores
  • 300 – Wheat Thins Toasted Pita (8 oz.)
  • 300 – Wheat Thins Crackers (5.5-9.1 oz.)
  • 300 – Wheat Thins Popped (4.5 oz.)
  • 300 – Ritz Crackers (7.5-13.7 oz.)
  • 300 – Ritz Toasted Chips (8.1 oz.)
  • 2,000 – Hershey’s or Reese’s King Size Candy Bars
  • 1,000 – Powerade (32 oz.)
  • 1,500 – Coke Zero (20 oz.)
  • 1,500 – Coke Zero (1.25 L)

March Madness Sweepstakes

If you have a couple minutes, I’ve found that sweepstakes can be a good way to win some free products or prizes. I’m a fan of the instant win ones with lots of prizes because I know right away if I’ve won. I also like the ones where you can register once but enter daily to increase your odds. To make the most of my time, I’ve started entering both my husband and myself at the same time – to better our odds. Here are a couple sweepstakes that I’m currently entering.

Nabisco Snack Bracket Sweepstakes

Through April 6th, you can daily enter the Nabisco Snack Bracket sweepstakes. I’m playing for my chance at one of the 1000 $25 gift cards they are giving away. Although, the grand prize is tickets to the Final Four which my husband would love! You collect a game piece each day you enter and you can also rate the recipes daily for more entries.

Coke Zero Bracket Sweeps

Also through April 6th, you can daily enter the Coke Zero Bracket Sweeps. This one you can actually enter twice per day and are assigned a team each time you enter. As your team advances, you’ll have chances to win prizes like free Coke, Reese’s peanut butter cups, or yes, tickets to the Final Four.

Twix Pick a Side

This one lasts through December 31st, so there is lots of time to daily enter Twix Pick a Side sweepstakes! They are giving away 100,000 FREE Twix coupons ($1.49 value) and 400,000 FREE music downloads. Each time you enter the instant win, you are also entered to win the grand prize of $100,000. Even better, you can win 5 times with this sweepstakes. I’ve won 2 music downloads but would really prefer to win the free Twix.

Mars Big Night In Instant Win

Finally, through April 16th, you can still daily enter the Mars Big Night In Instant Win Sweepstakes for your chance to win games, free chocolate coupons or movies. You can also win 5 prizes with this sweepstakes. I’ve already won a free candy bar coupon with this sweepstakes.

Happy entering and let me know if you win anything!

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Bonus Points for My Coke Rewards

Coke Bonus Points

Are you a Coke Rewards member? If you are, right now you can enter any cap codes you have for double points! This offer is good through March 13th only. If you’re not a member, consider signing up. Coke Rewards is one of the ways I earn my free Shutterfly books. We don’t necessarily drink a lot of soda, but other people give us their codes too.

How to Get Water Out of Little People

How to Get Water out of Your Little People A Brilliant and Easy Solution - Joyfully Thriving

When I taught preschool, I quickly discovered that my preschoolers loved playing with the Fisher Price Little People. They didn’t care so much for the play sets (and neither did I), but the Little People themselves were always in demand. They loved lining them, counting them, putting them in their Lego houses and block creations. I had a box of Little People for my students to play with and it was used every day.

For that reason, I started watching for Little People bargains. I wouldn’t pay full price for them so I always watched garage sales for them. My target price was a quarter – maybe $0.50 – per person. I also put out the plea to the parents of my preschoolers and when they cleaned out toys, we added some Little People to our classroom. The parents also helped me scour garage sales for them.

When we were given “new” Little People for our classroom, I always gave them a good cleaning first. I wanted to make sure that the dirt and germs were gone before the kids started playing with them. Little People are easy enough to clean but if they soak in hot water, we ran into a problem. Those of you with Little People know what I am talking about. Those little holes at the bottom let water in! I tried running them through the dishwasher in my bottle basket, but water still got in. I didn’t want them molding so I tried everything to get the water out.

I tried leaving them out to air dry. A week later, there was still water in them. I tried shaking them out. As hard as I shook them, there was still water left inside. I tried sitting them in a cup of rice to draw the water out. Nope. That didn’t work either! I Googled it and some said to throw them in the dryer but others cautioned that the paint would chip. I didn’t want that so I skipped that idea. Finally, I stumbled across a sure proof way to quickly and easily get all of the water out of my Little People. Are you ready?

Blow dry the air out! You need to stand the Little People on their head and hold the blow dryer very close to the hole. Turn the air on and aim it directly at the hole for about a minute. This is how it looked as I was working my way through my latest set of Little People. Hold the blow dryer as close to the Little Person for a minute or two.

Here's the simple trick to getting water out of your little people - Find out more at Joyfully Thriving

When you pick up your person, you will notice that the blow dryer has warmed the feet of your Little People enough that the plastic is moldable. Squeeze it tightly and the hole will open wide enough for you to shake every last bit of water out! I recommend shaking it over a towel because those few drops are always more than you expect.

Now, I know you are probably thinking that it’s a great solution but you don’t want to warp the plastic. Amazingly, it won’t! After you squeeze the feet and get all the water out, the plastic quickly returns to it shape and hardens exactly as before. I was truly amazed. You would never know that I had squeezed all my little people flat. The best part? There is not a single drop of water remaining in of my Little People. That makes me very happy!

Now that I know how simple it is to clean – and dry – Little People, they remain at the top of my garage sale list. In addition to all the ones I left at preschool, I am collecting Little People now for Nathan to play with and will happily add to them when I can. Give it a try! I hope you’ll be as pleased as I am with this easy and effective solution!

Coke Zero Bracket Sweeps

Coke Zero Bracket Sweeps

Here’s an easy and fun free sweepstakes – just in time for March Madness! Go over here and click get started to enter the Coke Zero Bracket Sweepstakes. It’s quick and easy to do so. Once you enter, you will be randomly assigned a game piece that represents 1 of the 64 teams in the March Madness tournament. You can enter twice a day through April 6, 2015. The more times you enter, the more teams you will be assigned and the better your odds of advancing and winning. If you win, you will be notified via email. I’m hoping to win a free Coke Zero and Reese’s bar! :-)

Top Mommy Blogs

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

Many of you know that one of my goals is to grow this blog of mine. It’s a bold dream of mine that I would be able to supplement our family income by writing this blog. I’m doing a lot of research and trying different things, even as I continue focusing on writing quality content to share with you. I have a wealth of articles and recipes written that I want to share with a wider audience. Pinterest has been a great source of traffic for my blog. Thank you to everyone who pins and shares my articles and recipes there! It really has made a big difference.

I recently joined “Top Mommy Blogs” as another way to share my blog with a wider audience. It is a huge link-up of thousands of mommy blogs written on a variety of topics. I listed “Joyfully Thriving” in the frugal living category and am currently ranked 11. How is that possible? It’s simple. Because of you.

Every time someone clicks on the Top Mommy button on my blog, my rank goes up. If you don’t mind, will you continue to click to vote for me? It may not look like it’s being tallied but every click does count. The unique thing is that you can click every 24 hours for a new vote. That means we can vote daily for my blog – or every time you remember.

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Some of you may have noticed the above signature banner on a couple of my posts. I’m going to occasionally share that as a reminder to help vote. Otherwise, there is a button on my side bar that looks like this. That is always there for you to click on, if you are reading an article on my blog.

Just Click To Send A Vote For Us @ Top Mommy Blogs

Finally, if you want, there is an option to leave comments and rate my blog. Thanks to Bethany for doing that already! :-) If you want to do that, I’d appreciate it as well. It’s odd for me to speak so boldly about publicity for my blog, but how can I grow if I’m not sharing what I’m writing?

While you’re at Top Mommy Blogs, be sure to check out some of the others! I’m honored to be listed in the same category as some of my favorites – Living Well, Spending Less and Creative Savings Blog.

You certainly don’t have to do any of this, but I greatly appreciate everyone who shares my blog – in whatever form you do that. Whether you’re pinning my content, forwarding my emails, sharing links on Facebook – it is all greatly appreciated! Thank YOU for helping me grow this blog of mine!

Mars “Big Night In” Instant Win Game

Mars Big Night In Instant Win

It’s another easy instant win game for you to play! Enter the Mars “Big Night In” instant win game to win one of 1 million prizes. Prizes include free Mars chocolate (which I already won), Uno card games, and more. You can enter daily now through April 15th. You can win up 5 times! You can enter via the link above or by texting FAMILY FUN to 87654. Again, let me know if and what you win!

Pampers: 10 New Points

Pampers Rewards

Here’s another 10 points for your Pampers Gifts to Grow account. Enter the code FB999CNEKJRKN14 and the points will be added to your account. If you don’t collect Pampers codes yet, start saving the free ones I share to earn free gift cards and rewards. You can join Pampers here.