Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Category: Becoming a Parent (page 1 of 2)

Don’t Be Ashamed to Share: Hysterectomy, Infertility and More

This contributed post is near and dear to my heart for several reasons. First, I 100 percent agree that it is still difficult for many women to open up about the subjects discussed below: hysterectomies, infertility, their bodies, etc. I  had a hysterectomy two years ago, and before I was blessed with Katie, I had to see a fertility specialist. I think this post below makes an important point that we need to talk to each other and not stay silent. 

Sometimes, as women, it is difficult to  discuss intimate issues. And to be honest, it’s easy to understand why. There still seem to be a lot of social expectations that force women to believe they should only act in a certain way or discuss certain topics in public. Although it is much better than it was even 20 years ago, this issue still exists. So, when for any reason, women find themselves having to handle intimate issues that most people don’t talk about, it’s easy to feel at a loss. The main problem with these issues is that they are generally surrounded by silence. As a result, if you’re struggling with any of these topics, you might feel as if you’re the only person dealing with it. You might feel like a failure when everyone else seems to be managing their lives without any trouble. Here’s the thing about intimate issues: You are not alone. This is what a lot of women need to hear:

There’s no shame; things can go wrong down there too

Sometimes, your body doesn’t perform as well as it should. While there is no embarrassment in discussing catching a cold, you should train your mind to perceive intimate issues in the same way. If you’re not ashamed of your cold, why should you be ashamed of experiencing pain while urinating or even while having sex? That’s precisely why there are specialists such as https://www.urologygeorgia.com/, to help you understand the problem and find a solution. Ultimately, you need to be assured that doctors support and respect you.

When there’s no other choice

What defines a woman? Depending on how you feel about your femininity, you might refer to reproductive organs, silhouette or even parental situation to explain what makes you feel like a woman. So, for a lot of women, the idea of having a hysterectomy can be devastating as they often wonder if they are still real women after the operation. But you only need to look at charities such as https://www.hysteriauk.co.uk/ to see that there is massive support around the issues. In fact, for many patients, talking and writing about their feelings can help to redefine the way they perceive themselves.

You struggle to get pregnant

As a woman, you’ll find that society expects you to have children. You might even be dreaming of having children. So, it can be devastating when you try to get pregnant without success. Many women feel so ashamed about it that they prefer not to address the issue in conversation. But don’t think that you’re the only one. There are many reasons why you might be struggling with pregnancy, from infertility to blocked Fallopian tubes. Talking to your doctor and friends can help you to find support and help.

You don’t want children

What if you don’t want to have children? As surprising as it might sound, a lot of women find themselves under fire for choosing not to have children. In reality, it is your own decision, and there is no need to feel guilty about it. You don’t owe the world a child, and more importantly, you are too valuable to let others decide your life. In the end, you’ll find that you can open up about your decision to those you trust.

The bottom line is that a lot of women feel isolated when it comes to their intimate choices and life. Don’t ever think you”re on your own. If you start talking, you’ll find that most women around you can sympathize with your problems, and you to theirs. Spread the word and help destroy the shameful isolation.

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The 100% Five Genuine Health Benefits To Having Pets

(contributed post)

It’s only natural that anyone who loves their pets should see all the benefits when it comes to making room in their lives for a furry friend. But, believe it or not, science is in agreement with them, too. Owning a pet has been shown to have some seriously positive impacts on your health, mentally and physically. Here, we’re going to look at some of the health benefits that pet owners get to enjoy.

Playing off the pounds

Let’s talk about one of the most obvious benefits of owning some of the more energetic pets out there. This might not be true for those with more independent cats or rabbits, but owning a dog, ferret, or any other highly playful animal is great for providing you with a little exercise. If your dog is particularly energetic, then those big long walks are going to play a huge role in helping you manage your weight. With the lower risk of obesity due to more exercise comes the lower risk of several chronic illnesses, not to mention a lower risk of back or joint pain in later life. Walking your dog hardly feels like exercise, too, so it’s easy to get motivated to do it.

Breaking the ice

Isolation is becoming something of a minor health scare as of late. Whether the blame is to be laid at the feet of social media and the internet adding distance between us or the fact that increasingly urban lifestyles have us living on top of one another is uncertain. There has been a marked rise in people who consider themselves “isolated”, however. Pets are great for helping you with that, too. Walking your pet or even going to the vet for your checkups gives you a chance to meet like-minded people just as into their furry friends as you are into yours. There are even social meetup apps for dog owners looking for walking buddies, now.

Making a real positive impact

One of the most keenly felt health benefits a pet can offer, however, is in the realm of mental and emotional health. Animals, like cats and dogs, have been shown to have a truly huge impact in helping with issues like stress, anxiety, and depression. There are even animals like service cats whose role it is to provide those benefits. What is a service cat? Essentially, they provide emotional support, helping people with conditions like social anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and PTSD manage their symptoms. Mental health professionals widely acknowledge that simply spending time with a cat or a dog, as the case may be, can help people better come when they are having serious trouble with their emotional health.

Preventing allergies

You may be skeptical of this idea at first. If anything, you have probably met people who are specifically allergic to pet hair. It’s true that pet hair does contain allergens. However, research has shown that children who grow up in a household with pets are much less likely to develop an allergic reaction to them in the long run. In fact, exposure to pets can stop people from developing any allergies or even asthma by improving your gut health. However, it’s worth noting that exposure to pets won’t “cure” anyone who already has asthma or allergies. Don’t go shaking your dog in anyone’s face; you’re just more likely to trigger an allergic reaction than anything.

Looking after heart and mind

Living with pets has been shown to drastically decrease your risk of blood clots for a couple different reasons. Owning a cat has been shown to cut the risk of a heart attack or a stroke by a third. One major reason for this is the stress-busting qualities that pets have, which reduces stroke risk. It also helps lower blood pressure thanks to the production of “feel-good” hormones, like dopamine and serotonin, when spending time with them. You can’t deny the power of the daily walkies when it comes to looking after heart health, either. Physical activity plays a key role in helping to protect the heart. Both physically and emotionally, pet ownership is likely to help decrease your chances of both heart attack and stroke.

If you’re ever trying to convince a partner or family member to let you get a pet, the five benefits above might just sway them a little if you’re lucky. Above all else, it just goes to show the positive impact that pet owners feel simply from having their favorite animal companion in their lives.

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4 Reasons Dogs Can Help You Maintain a Healthy Weight

The above photo is of my dog yesterday, staring out the window, and I thought it was funny, so I took the photo. He sat like that for over 10 minutes! I wondered: What is he watching for? So even though this contributed article is mostly about working out with your dog, which I do take him for walks frequently, even on cold days when I would’ve never went out without him, I wanted to show you my funny boxer just sitting. 🙂 Read on for a more active and healthy post though…

Working out is hard, which is why most of us need a partner to help ease the strain. Not only is it less lonely working out with a friend, but it also drives us to be better. When you let yourself down, you’re letting down the person who agreed to train with you in the first place. And the majority of us feel too guilty to let this happen. There’s a problem, though – who wants to be your workout partner? Everyone has commendable intentions, yet they can go by the wayside when it comes to crunch time. So, where are you supposed to turn? Who is going to help when your friends and family won’t? The answer is the family pooch and here’s why.

They’re Reliable

Humans can overthink things. Exercise is the perfect example because we may not really want to do it anyway–or least make ourselves go to the gym at 5am or after a long day at work. As a result, lots of people decide they will skip and then get into a bad routine. Dogs aren’t like people because they always want to leave the house. If they’re cooped up during the day, they need a long walk to blow off steam and release tension. Going for a jog or fast walk together, then, is a perfect compromise.

They’re Aerobic

Running has its advantages, but most aerobic activity is as healthy. In fact, depending on the goal, it can be better for you than a 10K. Let’s look at exercise helping you to lose weight. After the holiday season or one too many takeout sessions, we can feel the weight start to become a problem. To shed the pounds, the body needs to metabolize oxygen, which is a fancy way of saying you need to keep your heart rate down while moving around. Taking the dog for a long walk, instead of going for a run by yourself, is an excellent excuse. Plan the route so that it includes inclines as well as declines for ultimate results.

 

It’s Fun

Part of developing a  healthy exercise routine is finding a way to enjoy the experience. Because exercise can be difficult, it’s not enjoyable one-hundred percent of the time. The good news is that a dog instantly brings fun to the party thanks to their enthusiasm. Throwing a ball and chasing them around is not only a physical activity for you but it makes them wag their tails. Plus, regular dog activities can take place in beautiful locations such as the beach or the park. It’s hard not to enjoy exercise with your best pal as the sun sets over the ocean.

They’re Vacuums

If the above doesn’t appeal to you, then how about this… 😉 Of course, dogs need their own healthy food–whether you decide to buy dog food or make your own.  Any amazing pet review site will provide info on the best products on the market.  Still, your pooch probably likes human food: chicken, green beans, rice, and salmon, of course. Indeed, if dieters (or kids who don’t want their dinner) should “accidentally” drop leftovers on the floor, with your dog around, you may not need to vacuum! It’s a brilliant method of reducing meal sizes and cutting down on your daily calorie intake. I bet you are ready to rush out and get one of these dogs right now, aren’t you?

Do you need a healthy accountability partner? If you own a dog, the perfect solution is right under your nose.

 

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Which Car Is Best For Your Family? 3 Tips When Choosing

(contributed post)

Choosing a family car is not like choosing a car for yourself, when you were single or even before kids. For one thing, you probably don’t have the money to splash out on something fancy when you’ve got a college fund to save for! Instead, think past what you want and focus in on exactly what it is you all need.

There will be time later on when the kids are grown to get a snazzy sports car, but for now, you will need to settle for something a little more practical. Think about how you want to use a car and what your budget is realistically. Though you can get a lot for your money these days, a car is not the be all and end all of family life and should fit in with your other financial obligations.

Why Motorcycles are a No (For You and the Kids)

Obviously, you can’t get a baby seat onto the back of a motorcycle and nor should you try! But, also think about hanging up your helmet, too. Motorcycles can be dangerous, and if you were to get into an accident, you could be in real trouble. As a parent, this could have a massive impact on your family. Even with motorcycle accident lawyers that can help recover the cost of any treatments you require, you will never regain the time you lost with your kids if you are injured.

The thing is, and the reason that this small section is included, is that many men can feel that they are losing who they are when they become parents. While we often talk about how women can maintain their sense of self throughout motherhood, there isn’t as much self-help for the guys. Many men seem to think that the antidote to being a parent is to take risks, and motors can feature highly from the teenager’s moped to the midlife crisis car. The point is that it isn’t the motorcycle that makes the guy who he is.

So, motorcycles out of the way – what are we looking for here?

Car Safety is Your Main Priority

Once upon a time, car safety was mainly about being able to slam on the breaks and swerve in time. These days, it is a lot more technical, and there are all kinds of ways that cars have improved. If you are looking for the safest car, you can easily research consumer safety reports, warnings and tests on the Internet. 

Though many cars advertise the powers of their media center (and, let’s be honest, being able to play DVDs in the backseat is pretty cool), you should be looking at the safety features and working out what is worth the money. What is really cool about a lot of media center screens is that they also have a rearview camera to help you see what is behind you before backing up as well as a proximity alarm, if any car or person is coming near the vehicle. Hands-free calling and voice command will also keep your attention on the road where it belongs.

Older road users might think that all this tech is just a fancy way of making cars more expensive, but look carefully at your insurance because many of these safety features could end up saving you money.

Higher Seats Are Easier to Manage

First things first: if you are going to wrestle a howling toddler into a car seat, it will always be easier to wrestle them into a seat you can easily reach. Saloon cars are great once you are in, but the number of times you will bash your head against the roof of the car while trying to strap all the kids in will get old quickly.

Instead, look for a higher car like a 4×4, which will allow you to get the kids in without a fuss: you won’t bang your head, and everyone will be happier. Another advantage of this kind of car is that you will also be able to pack plenty of stuff into the trunk when you are traveling with your family.

There is a downside, though, and that is simply that bigger cars cost more. So, if you can afford to splash out on a more expensive car and save your back, then do.

Sliding Doors Are Your Friend

If you can find a model of car with sliding doors ,then you are in for a real win. Car doors are definitely high on the list of irritants for parents, especially when there are limited space in a parking lot. With a sliding door, you won’t have to worry so much about having room on either side of the car.

Sliding doors are also great because they are much less likely to catch in the wind or the door closing on a family member accidentally. In other words, you get maximum access with minimum fuss – and what’s not to like in that?

When you think about how much time you spend getting in and out of your family car, ferrying your kids – and other people’s kids – to all kinds of events and just driving yourself, it actually adds up really quickly. It is well worth taking some time to choose carefully and imagine how the cars various features will work for you and your loved ones.

 

One last tip: take a carseat to the showroom with you to see how it will fit in a prospective car. Honestly, some a brilliant and obvious winners but some just look like that until you realise that once the booster seat is in, nothing else will ever fit.

 

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As Parents, What Can We Do to Give Our Children The Best Start in Life?

(contributed post)

When you have a child, your world changes. No longer are you the most important person in your life, you now have a responsibility to look after your child and ensure they’re happy, healthy and grow up to be a functioning member of society. Raising a child can be a minefield, and lots of things will depend on factors like the country you live in, your own personal views, your religion and much more. However there are some things that are common with all of us. Here are some of the ways your child can get off to the best start.

Look After Their Health

As parents, our children’s health is of the utmost importance. However, we’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic, and even well-meaning parents can find that their children are a little heavier than guidelines suggest they should be. This can be a mixture of a lack of knowledge, easy access to convenient foods and things like technology making kids more sedentary. A decade or two ago, children would be running around outside, playing on their bikes and being active to curb boredom. These days, they can access the world at their fingertips using their phones, computers or TV. One of the best things you can do to promote good health in children is to make it fun. Encourage them to prepare healthy meals with you, choose good ingredients while shopping and even grow some of your own foods together. Make exercise enjoyable- hire a bouncy castle on a summer’s weekend or purchase a trampoline. Have water fights and play active games together. Go on family hikes and bike rides together , which are great for bonding as well as getting in some all-important exercise. When it’s fun, kids are more likely to get on board, and eventually healthy living will become an ingrained habit. It allows them to make healthy choices for themselves as they get older, which can set them up for success in their life in future.

Invest in Their Education

Being well educated can give you so many more opportunities in life. It means you can apply for better jobs, get on a good career path and have the ability to earn money, which can give you financial freedom and a much more comfortable lifestyle. Making sure they get access to good education, and encouraging a love of learning are two of the very best things you can do for your child’s future. Studies have found that the quality of education that children receive has more of an influence than gender or even their family’s income. Your child’s attitude, their friends and peers, their knowledge and job prospects for the future will all be influenced by the school you pick. On top of finding a good school, you could focus on their education in other ways. Take them on educational trips such as to museums and galleries. Teach them around the home about nutrition, cooking, baking, DIY and crafts for example. Take them camping, fishing, teach them map reading and orienteering, and introduce them to lots of extracurricular activities, such as sports and exercise. There’s much more to learn in life that just what’s in school textbooks. Giving them a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning are so beneficial.

Think About Where You Will Live

You child’s home and school life are incredibly important, but they will also be influenced by the place that they live. Somewhere rife with poverty, crime and unemployment, for example, is never going to be the most positive environment for your child to grow up in. Of course, they can still do well and better their lives, but dysfunction can seem normal to them when they’re surrounded by it. If it’s in your power to move to a nicer area to better yours and your child’s life, then take that opportunity. Look for somewhere with good resources: activities for youth, high employment levels and good education.  Even a small apartment or HDB resale in a nice area would be beneficial compared with a larger house in an area that isn’t great. It’s certainly something to take into consideration when you’re looking for a place to rent or own.

Take Discipline Seriously

Being a parent isn’t just about providing for your child and giving them everything they need. It’s about equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to be a successful member of society. This allows them to form lasting relationships and friendships, and become a well-rounded individual who can navigate life feeling happy and secure. One thing that can help children is discipline. Discipline allows your child to become civilized in society; it’s not all about punishment. It’s a way of teaching that allows them to learn from mistakes without repeating them, and giving them the cognitive tools to be able to learn better behavior and do better next time around.  It’s about being clear on the rules and boundaries. It’s about accepting that they won’t be perfect, but acknowledging that all behavior has consequences–positive and negative. Children crave attention, rules and boundaries; they thrive when they know what it is they can and can’t do– even if they do push their boundaries at times. Remain firm but fair, and any punishment should reflect the severity of what they have done as well as their age and understanding. For example, very young children throwing tantrums aren’t going to understand or benefit from long time- outs or revoking of certain privileges.

Work on Their Self-Esteem

Again, parenting is about equipping children with the skills and understanding they need to get through life independently. And self-esteem and confidence is an essential asset. When you’re confident in yourself and your abilities, you aren’t held back from trying new things. You can smile in the face of adversity and know that even if you fail, you can keep at it until you eventually reach your goal. Children need to know that it’s ok to fail or go wrong, but that sticking with it means they will eventually achieve their goal and be proud of themselves when they do. Children with good levels of confidence and self esteem tend to be happier and more optimistic compared with those who don’t. Children with low self-esteem find challenges to be frustrating and can be a huge source of anxiety for them.  Praise your child’s accomplishments, and let them work out things themselves. For example, instead of doing everything for them, let them try themselves until they work out a solution. When playing a game, don’t let them win every time- that way when they do win, it will be well earned and they can feel proud of their accomplishments. It’s easy to want to give them everything they want, but understanding that not everything will go their way, and how to be a gracious loser when they don’t, is a fantastic skill to have. Be aware of your own words and behavior too. Criticizing yourself, others or your child can stick with them; remain upbeat and positive and realistic when things go wrong.

Teach Them the Importance of Respect

When we respect others, it shows that we value another as an individual. Respect allows us to honor the personal rights of other humans and allows them to keep their dignity. Because kids aren’t born with the ability to respect others, it’s something that as parents we have to teach them. Babies learn to manipulate the world they live in to get their needs met, so as they mature into a little person, it’s important to show them that this isn’t something they can do later on in their lives. They have to learn to respect their elders and those in a position of authority such as police and teachers. They need to be taught how to share with siblings and peers. They have to understand that sometimes they have to be patient and wait their turn for the things that they want. These are difficult lessons to learn as a child, and aren’t always things that they will thank you for in the moment! However they’re important things to understand and are crucial if they’re going to go on and be successful adults. You don’t have to be your child’s friend- you’re their teacher and guide!

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The Three Cs of Being Pregnant

The pregnancy process is one which demands much from you, both emotionally and physically. Your body will go through changes, which are both hard and easy to predict. We all know the cliches. You will be hungry for foods you never have or will never want to eat again; you will find it more difficult to get comfortable at night; and you’ll be greeted pleasantly by everyone you meet. Being pregnant is a wonderful time, but it does come with some challenges. In order to give your beautiful child the most healthy and strong start in life, it’s important to be diligent in looking after yourself.

There are so many different things to remember during pregnancy that it can be overwhelming. Not only do you have to look after your body, but prepare your home for the new child, emotionally and financially prepare, and organize your working schedules to best fit the expected day. We’ve crafted the following‘three Cs of pregnancy, which should help you keep everything memorable and streamlined enough to actually pull off easily. Here they are:

Care

Of course, you must take care of yourself. It’s easy to think this, but not actually plan for it. First, you need to focus on your diet. You are now eating for two, so be careful what you put in your body. Fast foods and high sugars are to be avoided, and well fibrous, vegetable and protein dense foods should be a component. If you can, switch to complex carbs, such as brown rice or whole grain pasta and bread. You should also supplement your diet with folic acid, and the right combination of prenatal vitamins – click here to learn more.

Caution

You must also be mindful of the way your body is now reacting to your day-to-day movement. Or course, it will be different, and you should note any changes and discuss them at your appointments with your obgyn. But there is no reason why you should not regularly exercise, unless your doctor says so. Cut any bad habits, such as smoking and drinking, as soon as you discover you are pregnant. If you are having trouble, then discuss this with your doctor also. Your doctor is your best resource for all your physical changes, and there is nothing that is “too silly” to bring up. Give your baby the best start in life by starting your loving care during your pregnancy.

Coordinate

Planning is one of the most important parts of pregnancy, and you have 9 months to plan for the new addition to your family. Discuss with your doctor your birthing plans and sign up to take a tour of the hospital, where you will deliver your child. Hospitals and obgyn offices often offer classes at a low fee for first-time parents and for moms who want to breastfeed. Coordinating could also mean learning about the duties of being a parent. Knowing how to burp, feed, change, and bathe a baby are all things, which take care to get right. Learn how much milk they need at different stages. Register with a preferred pediatric nurse in case any health occurrences should arise.

At home, decorate and detail the room for your baby. Think about ways you will need to baby proof the home because your infant will be growing and crawling before you know it. You might not need to cover up sharp corners or add baby gates to your staircases yet, but you may need to separate your pets, replace any toxic cleaners, and make sure the house is the correct temperature for your baby. Become focused in your planning. Your child will be here much sooner than you think.

With these three Cs, your child will be born to a loving, compassionate, safe, clean, warm and most importantly of all, prepared home.

What is a practical parenting tip you can give to expectant mothers that you wish you would have known when you were expecting? 

(contributed article)

Check out my holiday book sale here for personalized and autographed children’s books: http://margoldill.com/my-books/

 

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10 Ways to Prepare for Going on Maternity Leave

contributed article

Going on maternity leave is one of the most daunting and exciting stages of your pregnancy. You know that the end is near, your life is about to change forever, and you have months ahead of you to care for your little one. If you are passionate about your career as well, it is important that you start taking steps to prepare your company for your departure and pave the way for your return. Of course, you may find that your plans change somewhere down the line, but it will still give you peace of mind when you know that you have made all the necessary preparations.

Achieving a work-life balance is the ultimate goal when you return to your job again, which is something that more and more women intend to do. So, let’s look at some ways that you can prepare your company and yourself for your impending departure.

Learn More About Your Maternity Leave Rights

Maternity leave law is always being updated, so you need to know about your current rights with regards to how much time you are allowed to take off and how much you will be paid during this time. This maternity and paternity guide gives you more information on both counts, so it is certainly worth reading in detail. Once you have all the key details, you are in a much better position to move onto the next stage.

Inform Your Boss and Clients

Though you will be very excited to tell your friends at work about your big news, it is also a good idea to inform your boss at the earliest possible opportunity–preferably before your bump starts showing! Speak to them in person at first, and then you can draft up a maternity leave letter that details your intentions regarding maternity leave. Of course, these are just preliminary plans, which may adapt and change over time. You will also want to inform your clients about your big news, preferably with plenty of time to spare and when the plans about covering your absence are firmly in place. This way, you will be in the best position to talk them through how things will work while you are away.

Plan Your Leave

Once you know the date that you will be going on maternity leave, you can start preparing for your departure. Make a list of all your tasks at the company and who is going to take them over. If it is a current member of the team, you can start getting them up to speed as soon as possible. If someone is going to be covering for you on a short-term basis, you can make a document that helps them to transition into the role.

Crunch the Numbers

Making a detailed budget is always a good idea no matter what financial situation you find yourself in, but it is especially important if you are about to have a child. It may be quite challenging to calculate all your expenses in detail, but it is a good idea to make a rough estimate. You can then weigh this up against the amount of money that you receive from your maternity leave and any other sources of income. If you are able to accumulate some savings as well, it is always a good idea to have a contingency plan in case your expenses turn out to be much higher than expected.

Plan Your Childcare

Though this may seem like a very early time to start planning your childcare, you can never be over-prepared. It is worth paying a visit to some different places to look at their facilities, as well as seeing how they operate on a day-to-day basis. You can also find out about their availability and how far in advance you need to apply. The other potential option is hiring a nanny, so it is also worth checking out the pros and cons of this particular approach. A nanny gives your child individual attention and care. On the other hand, a daycare center allows them to interact with other kids. A big influencer in your decision will be the standard of care available in your local area, and how yours and your partner’s jobs will fit around what is available.

Stay in the Loop at Work

In most workplaces, things tend to change at a fairly rapid rate, and it is worth keeping track of what is going on – even if it is just the occasional update from a close work friend. Even better, if you have a colleague who is just returning from maternity leave, you can find out the inside scoop about how easy or challenging it has been. Of course, when your baby arrives, you will find your attentions very much pulled in another direction. But if you are passionate about returning to work, it helps to keep up with what is going on. When it gets closer to the time to return to work, you could start coming in to have meetings with your boss about how you are going to manage the transitional phase together.

Create a Resources List

The balancing act of your family and your job is such a difficult one to get right. So, to give you a helping hand in this early stage, you can start pulling together a list of resources of people who can help you out in all eventualities. For example, someone who can clean the house, look after the dog, take care of the baby in an emergency. You are entering a daunting new world and you never know exactly which direction it is going to take you. Creating this list will help you to feel better about the challenges ahead of you. You will probably find that organizing your life becomes much more difficult when the baby arrives!

Wrap Up Any Outstanding Work

In the last weeks and days before your maternity leave begins, you should be wrapping up any projects that are still ongoing. Since babies are often known to arrive ahead of schedule, it is a good idea to deal with the top priority items first in case your little bundle of joy decides to make an early appearance! One of your final tasks will be to draft up an out of office email explaining who people need to contact in your absence. You can help out whoever is monitoring your emails by unsubscribing from any newsletters or email lists. Keep a note of them and you can subscribe again once you are back at work.

Make Arrangements for Your Return

Though nothing will be set in stone at this stage, you can let your boss and HR department know of your intention to return to the company. You can even create a rough outline of the transitional approach that you intend to take back into your job. Of course, nothing will be fixed as you never know the challenges that having a baby brings until you experience them first-hand.

Now is a good time to find out where your employer stands with regards to flexible working. More and more workplaces are embracing less rigid work patterns, so you may well be in a better position to fit your family life around your working life. Perhaps you could even arrange to telecommute on one or two days of the week. Rapid technological advances mean that this is becoming an option for an increasing number of workers. Of course, you should examine the pros and cons of this approach in more detail. For example, it can be very difficult to draw the line between your work life and your home life.

Be prepared that your mindset before the baby is born may be entirely different to your mindset afterwards. And after your return to work, be prepared that you may be treated differently in your workplace, so this could significantly impact your viewpoint towards your current employers. It is always worth thinking about the different pathways that could be available to you in a wide variety of situations.

Relax Before the Baby Arrives

Once you have done everything else on the list, the time has come to give yourself some much-needed relaxation time before the baby arrives. You may only have a matter of days or you may have several weeks ahead of you, but it is important that you give yourself the maximum time to rest before the baby arrives, as well as buying any last items you may need. Things will certainly change significantly afterwards.

Remember that all the plans you put in place should all have a degree of flexibility built into them. After all, you never know how they are going to shift and adapt over time. Draw as much support as you can from your partner, friends and family, and prepare yourself for what is bound to be one of the most incredible experiences of your life.

 

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Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying A (nother) Baby Product

If there’s one thing that women do while pregnant, it’s shopping. Shopping and expecting a baby seem to go hand-in-hand, and admittedly, most of those purchases are necessary. You’re going to have to fill your home with equipment and supplies you have never needed before so that you’re ready to welcome your new baby.

However, if you read enough guides, you will find yourself with a shopping list so long that it feels you will never complete it. How can a baby need so much stuff? The demands are endless, and naturally, every product manufacturer absolutely insists that their product is completely necessary. Of course, you want the best for your baby, so you buy… and then find yourself joining the ranks of parents who don’t use half of those so-called “essential” items.

Before your next purchase, it’s worth running a few questions through your mind to see if a product truly is needed, or if it’s one you can skip.

“Can I Envisage A Scenario Where I Will Use This?”

Many products will pass this question with ease; it’s simple to imagine when you’re going to use a breast pump or a toy that can also monitor your baby’s breathing while they sleep. More esoteric products, however, will fail this test, helping to shorten your shopping list in one fell swoop.

“Does This Product Fix A Problem?”

The majority of products will pass this test as well. Concerned about your baby rolling over while sleeping? There are plenty of baby pillows that can help fix that issue. Worried your baby is going to struggle to adapt to their new environment? Then you can look for the best baby sound machines to help meet that need. A huge number of baby products are expressly designed to meet the needs of parents, so this test is relatively easy to pass.

What won’t pass is decorative and novelty items. These items are nice, of course, and there’s no harm in having a few, but you don’t want to go overboard and stretch your budget as a result.

“Is This Something That Will Be Used Frequently?”

The most important products to buy are those that will be in constant use, such as baby monitors, strollers, highchairs, and car seats. These are the items that should command the majority of your budget.

However, if an item is only designed to be used in certain, infrequent situations — such as when your baby has a cold — then it’s wise to leave these products on the shelf for now. You can always purchase them in the future, when you’re experiencing the problem that these products are designed to ease.

In Conclusion

There’s enough shopping to do to meet the essential needs of your baby, so it’s important to avoid making life even more difficult by buying additional items that may not be necessary. If a product can pass the three questions above, chances are it’s a good purchase; if a product fails, then you might want to leave its purchase until a later date or not at all. With less shopping to do, you can focus on enjoying being pregnant, and look forward to greeting your bundle of joy!

 

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Helping Your Dog Grow to Be Happy and Healthy Despite a Busy Schedule

So, you’ve welcomed a new puppy into your life , and now you’re committed to giving them the best life possible. You’re committed to seeing him grow into being an adult dog who is both happy and healthy. You want to do everything you can, or everything that your busy schedule will allow, to ensure that your dog grows the way he should and needs to.

But, that’s just it: you can only do what your schedule allows you to do. You can only take your dog on walks when you are not at work. You can only feed him when you are home to do so. Basically, you have to manage your schedule while also doing what is best for your dog. And it is for this reason why you should most certainly look for the easiest ways to help your dog to grow to be happy and healthy; fortunately, some ways to do this can be found below.

Keep dogs active, even indoors.

Ideally, you should be taking your dog out for regular walks every day. If this cannot be achieved because of your work commitments and being away from home during the day, then you should absolutely ensure that he is walked when you return home from work. To try to make up for the lack of exercise some dogs receive during the work day, you can work on ways to keep your dog active in your home too.

Your dog can be kept active inside the comfort of your own home. But, they can only be kept active if the activity they participate in stimulates them enough to do so. This means getting to know your dog and his likes and dislikes and then working from there. If you know your dog to be one that refuses to give in until he gets what he wants, for instance, then play a game, such as tug-a-rope, with him. If you tug at a rope with him, you will keep him active for the length of the game because he won’t give in easily and will continue to fight for the alpha dog position for as long as it takes. Or if you’d prefer an easier game to play, then you can play fetch. By doing this, you can actually be slumped in front of the TV while you throw the ball to one side of the room, wait for your dog to retrieve it and return it to you before throwing it again. Something else you could do is hide different parts of his food around the house and let him sniff it out and find it on his own; this is a great way to force your dog into burning some calories.

Don’t make mealtimes hard

If you have limited time in the morning before work to get your pet to eat, then you want the process to be as quick as possible. Dog owners know that some of them can be somewhat picky eaters. Specifically, this means that it is in your best interest to ensure that they eat whatever is on their plate (or in their bowl) when you are providing them with their meals and treats.

Fortunately, today this means that you can provide them with nice-tasting foods that are still healthy for them to consume. One dog’s food that falls into this category is the Betsy Farms duck jerky dog treats. These treats are sure to make your dog’s mouth water, which means he is sure to eat them, and this equates to a quicker routine in the morning, especially if you are trying to get your dog to go outside to go potty, too, before you go to work. What’s more, these treats, and treats of the like, are made from wholesome ingredients that go a long way in improving and maintaining good doggy health, and you can use them as a reward also when your dog is being obedient, especially during busy times. 

Let them go if that is best for them

One of the best things that you can do to truly ensure that your dog grows to be happy and healthy, if your schedule just won’t allow you to do it, is to give it up. As hard as that may be, for both you and your dog, it simply must be done sometimes. No dog can grow to be all he can be if he is not tended to by his owner. What’s more, no dog deserves to not be tended to by his owner as often and as well as can be. So, if you truly can’t bend your schedule enough to meet the demands of looking after your dog, then simply do not have a dog.

When it comes to doing this, the most important thing to check is that you are leaving him in a safe place that will nurture him and find him a far more ideal home in the future. You must not sell him to somebody you do not know or really trust. And you must certainly not just leave him on the streets to fend for himself; in fact, it is a crime to do this in many countries! You should take your dog to properly licensed dog rescues or general animal sanctuaries or shelters. But, when you do take your dog to any of these kinds of places, make sure you inquire as to whether or not it is in fact a no-kill facility.

Something else you could do is ask family members or friends if they could keep your dog for a while until your schedule calms down; or if you don’t think it ever will, ask your loved ones if they would consider adopting your dog. 

The best thing you can do when it comes to tending to a dog while living by a tight and busy schedule, however, is to assess your circumstances in the first place. Simply, if you know you’re going to be out of the house for long periods of the day, and subsequently won’t be able to provide a dog with attention it needs, then don’t let a dog into your home in the first place or make sure you have the means to hire a good dog sitter who can help you out during the day. 

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8 Things to Do if Your Dog Has Fleas

I don’t write much about my dear old dog on here, although here’s a photo with he and KT that I’ve posted before. But he’s an important part of my family too. When someone asked if I would consider posting this article, I said: YES! Pets are family members, too, and they need to be taken care of. Here is one of the battles you face when you have a dog (or cat): 

Flea treatments need to be kept up with every two to four weeks, depending on what you are using. Fleas can be picked up from a number of different places, including pet groomers, pet hotels, contact with other animals, and even the grass your dog runs through. It’s actually very easy for a few fleas to jump onto your pet, make themselves at home, and spread the infestation. So your dog may not stand a chance while unprotected. Here’s what you can do if you spot a flea on your dog.

Flea Shampoo

The first thing you need to do is go to the heart of the problem; your dog. Your furry friend needs to be treated before you can hope to get rid of every flea. You can start by giving your dog a bath  with flea shampoo and following the directions on the bottle carefully. Make sure you buy a shampoo that comes highly recommended, rather than one that pretends to be something it’s not. After the bath, brush your dog through with a flea comb and immediately dispose of any fleas. Don’t allow your dog to return to its bed after having the bath.

Clean Bedding

You’ll be surprised how quickly fleas can make themselves at home in your dog’s bedding. You’ll need to either thoroughly wash blankets and beds in hot water or throw them away and buy new ones. Without doing so, you’ll have a never-ending problem. Fleas will be able to jump to and from your dog’s bedding back onto your dog. The same goes for your dog’s toys. If your dog frequently plays with cuddly toys that could easily be a home for fleas, the toys will either have to be washed or replaced.

Clean Your Home

It’s not just your dog that fleas will cling to; they’ll quickly spread throughout your home, too. They like to set up camp in rugs, sofas, and even bedroom mattresses. So, it’s important to keep your home as clean as possible while you’re dealing with fleas. You’ll need to vacuum regularly and clean out your vacuum once it’s been emptied. It’s also important to wash your floors. A strong disinfectant in water on a wooden floor will help to kill fleas quickly. If you have carpet throughout your home, you may want to think about using a carpet cleaner, specifically designed to get rid of fleas, to wash out any remaining pests.

Treat Your Home and Dog

Unfortunately, fleas are a persistent kind of pest; and it can take weeks, months even, to completely eradicate them. It’s something you must stay on top of and the best way of doing that is to regularly treat your home and dog. There are two main treatments for dogs. Take a look at Advecta flea treatment products, where you’ll find tablets and spot on treatments. When it comes to your home, you have several different options. You can buy sprays for your furniture and floors, you can fog your home and evacuate until the treatment is complete, or you can call a pest control company to take the problem off your hands and ensure the job is done properly.

Essential Oils

If you know there are fleas in a certain area of the home, but you just can’t seem to catch them, essential oils are ideal. A few drops of an essential oil, like lemon, ginger or lavender, is an attractive smell to fleas; but the oil is deadly to them. So, if they make the mistake of walking or jumping into the oil, you could be cleaning piles of them off the floor at once. The only problem is, this method is often best used in rooms where your dog won’t venture, as some essential oils can be harmful to your pet, too.

Water Bowl

They may be tiny, but fleas are certainly no fools. They’re usually most active at night time, when you aren’t around to catch them. One of the best ways to catch them at night is to place a small bowl of water  filled with warm soapy water in the center of your room. Fleas are attracted to the water and smell of the soap; but once they jump in to investigate, they’re usually killed. It’s a great way of catching them during the night and finding out how many fleas you still have around. The downside is this trick usually only works on the adults, and it’s important to kill the young fleas and eggs too.

Keep Going

If you think you can clean the home and your dog once and be rid of these pesky creatures, you may be in for a nasty surprise. Many pet owners have made the mistake of thinking one flea bath or treatment will kill all fleas, and the problem has only gotten worse because the fleas have been left to procreate. Even if you believe your flea problem has been resolved, you’ll still need to repeat all of your treatment methods regularly for at least four weeks.

Don’t Forget Your Yard

Your backyard is another place that your pet can spread fleas. Unlike the house, it’s very difficult to know where fleas are in the yard, and getting rid of them can be tricky. But, without the yard being treated, fleas have free reign to jump to and from your dog, making your flea problem impossible to deal with. The best way to get rid of fleas outside is to buy a flea treatment product for outdoors. Many of them are toxic, so it’s likely you’ll have to keep your dog away from the yard for a few hours, but they’re usually very successful.

It takes time and patience to get rid of a flea problem, and you may find yourself going around in circles many times. But to protect you and your pet, the work is worth it.

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