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Make your Blended Family Work with These 14 Tips

Today, the U.S. Census estimates about 50% of families are some form of stepfamily.

The stepfamily has become the modern family.

Here are some basics tips and rules for anyone currently struggling to make it work, compliments of Jeannette Lofas, PhD, LCSW of the Stepfamily Foundation, whose ground-breaking research has been used to develop methods for assisting blended families work.

  1. Build “Couple Strength.” Almost everything you do builds or takes away from couple strength. Know that you come from different points of view about many ways of doing things. Honor your differences and create new norms and forms together.
  2. Displays of affection in front of the children, initially can lead to acting out and fear of loss of their biological parent. In the beginning, keep your loving behavior private.
  3. The couple comes first (after you are married). A strong, supportive couple relationship sets the cornerstone and helps children build self-esteem.
  4. The couple recognizes that the family is a blended/stepfamily and knows how stepfamilies function and does not expect this family to act like biological family. It cannot and will not.
  5. It is OK to have discussions. Arguments are out. Agree to agree. Agree to disagree. And, work it out. Call time outs for the couple when things get “too hot.” Remember you are partners. He is the male head of the household. She is the female head of the household. You are partners in creating a stepfamily. Creating a stepfamily that works looks like the couple deciding on how they are going to manage all aspects of their household. Partners decide on rules, regulations, discipline styles, job descriptions, use of time, energy and money, etc.
  6. Establish concrete house rules and structure. Rules need to be written in the positive form. The couple must decide on the rules and define job descriptions themselves and of each member with positive and negative consequences.
  7. The biological parent disciplines his/her children and the stepparent says, “As you know your Dad/Mom and I have decided, in this house we…” The stepparent disciplines based on rules agreed and presented to kids as a couple. And the couple must make sure the children treat the stepparent with respect.
  8. The couple must maintain their positions as male and female heads of the family. They cannot allow the children to dominate. The male and female heads of the household teach the children the models, forms and norms as to how we live and act with each other within the stepfamily.
  9. The couple in the stepfamily takes responsibility for creating a predictable structure of events, manners and responsibilities for in house and visiting stepchildren. The couple agrees with each other and backs the other up so the children have consistency, which is a necessary foundation for creating intimacy and closeness.
  10. Make sure meals with the children are not child-centered chaos. Plan to converse, know what is going on in each other’s lives and thoughts. The adults set the tone of dining. We come together not to eat, but to dine. Teach kids good manners. Good manners allow for intimacy. Poor manners create isolation, lower self-esteem and cause confusion.
  11. Plan visitation as good co-parents (exes), parents and stepparent. Avoid allowing visitation to become a chaotic episode where the child is caught in the cross fire between ex-spouses.
  12. The bad-mouthing of the prior spouse. When we bad-mouth and put down the other parent of our children we are bad-mouthing and disparaging half of that child’s identity. Less than half of divorced parents today realize that bad mouthing their ex lowers the self-esteem of their child.
  13. Ask for counseling from professionals trained plo treat stepfamilies. The dynamics of stepfamilies are crucially different from the biologically connected family. The stepfamilies are now the majority of families, but not all professionals are taught about their specific behaviors in graduate school.
  14. Research and Make it work.

It’s Palentine’s Day, A Day to Celebrate Everyone Else You Love Today (CARDS & TIPS)


Happy Palentine’s Day!

What is that? It is the day before Valentine’s Day and a campaign by Paper & Packaging – How Life Unfolds™  to celebrate friends, family and everyone else we care about.

It’s a twist off the fictional “Galentine’s Day” that Parks & Recreation character Lesline Knope (played by our fave here Amy Poehler) created to celebrate gal pals.

Galentine’s Day (or Palentine’s Day) can be celebrated in countless ways, but here are a couple of suggestions to get you started:

  1. Movie Night – Score movie tickets to the newest release on everyone’s list, stock up on popcorn, and candy and bring along your closest crew. Or, invite your friends over and catch up onOscar-nominated best pictures.
  2. Brewery Tour – gather your hipster, beer snob friend and spend a fun evening sampling new brews and enjoying old favorites.
  3. Game Night – invite your gaming guild members for a night of pizza, passionate comic book debates and board games. A round of Cards against Humanity is sure to break the ice.
  4. Dinner – Forget date night. Grab a friend with an adventurous palate and go to that Scottish-Mexican fusion restaurant you’ve been dying to try.

Paper & Packaging has partnered with Hello!Lucky to create some special Palentine’s Day cards to help you and your readers honor the standout pals in their lives.

Download them HERE!

And give them to someone you love! Happy Palentine’s Day!

Here are some other fun Palentine’s Day cards:

palentines' day
palentines' day 4
palentine's day 2

palentine day card




images: http://www.notonthehighstreet.com, http://www.6by6arts.com/, http://www.creativecapability.com/, https://dribbble.com/shots/1931646-Happy-Palentines-Day

What Candy Should You and the Kids Avoid This Valentine’s Day (INFOGRAPHIC)

valentine's day candy

Valentine’s Day is perfect for getting sweets and goodies, but parents and families have to be mindful of all the extra sugar that is loaded inside Valentine’s Day treats.

Because the day’s goodies are typically loaded with calories and sugar, AquaBall, the only no sugar, no calorie children’s drink on the market put together an infographic (below) showing which Valentine’s Day treats will make the day sweet for your little sweetheart and which ones you should avoid.

valentine's day infographic

9 Last Minute DIY Valentine’s Day Gifts Under $50

last minute valentine's day poster
Still scrambling for what to give your sweetheart today for Valentine’s Day?!
Don’t panic! I racked my brain and came up with five last minute ideas that you can pull off today and at a cost of less than $50 total!
And the other great things that they should take less than one hour to prep for presentation if you are focused on the task and get going!
Angela Roi bag
Thank me later! Get busy!
Here they are to choose from:
Plan a Romantic Casual Pizza Dinner and Movie Date Night In
Commitment Time: 1/2 hour to 45 minutes

Cost: $25-$30

Step 1: Pick up phone and order a Papa John’s heart pizza

Step 2: On the way to pick it up or while you wait for delivery, head to the local liquor store or grocers and pick up a bottle of wine and/or order or pick up take out Chinese for two and some flowers for the table.

Step 3: Order a movie or two on DVR or from Netflix or Redbox and have a romantic casual dinner in.

Have Your Love Star in a Social Media meme
who do you x and o
Commitment Time: 10 minutes

Cost: $0

Step 1:  Pull up the WHO DO YOU XO?  website.
Step 2: Add a photo, add big bold x & o’s with  a description of the person and post in social media. Very cute! It is the brainchild of Robert Appelblatt and Tim Crean, who came up with the idea after updating and completely revolutionizing the old tic-tac-toe game by creating TIC STAC TOE.

Present a Personalized Photo Wall


Commitment Time: 20 minutes to 45 minutes

Cost: $10-$25

Step 1: Use the CVS Facebook Order function to order photos of you and your honey from Facebook and pick up the prints the same day. There is even a mobile App which makes the process 2x faster!

Step 2: While you’re there to pick up your pics, grab some tape.

Step 3:  Pick a blank wall in the bedroom or living room and arrange the photos in the shape of a heart above your bed.

Step 4:  Have movies and/or take out nearby and make it a movie night.


Send Personalized Balloons.


Commitment Time: 20-45 minutes

Cost: $10-25


  • Balloon Time Helium Tank
  • Mylar heart balloons
  • Ribbon
  • InkJet tattoo paper
  • Printable Valentine’s Day messages
  • Damp paper towel or rag

Step 1: Print out the messages from the website here on the tattoo paper and adhere the clear liner on top according to the instructions on the package.

Step 2: Trim each message as close to the letters as possible

Step 3: Peel off the clear liner from one of the messages and lay it face down on top of the balloon, wherever you would like it. NOTE: We recommend not putting your letters within three inches of the edge of the balloon, to ensure they are legible once inflated.

Step 4: Use a damp paper towel to moisten the tattoo paper completely and then peel it away, leaving the tattoo behind. Repeat as desired.

Step 5: Inflate the balloon(s) with helium and tie with ribbon.

Have A Romantic Indoor Picnic 


Commitment Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Cost:  up to $50

Step 1: Order Take out

Step 2: Pick up cupcakes at local bakery, wine and scented candles

Step 3: Arrange a blanket with all items on the floor in the basement or living room


Capture Your Relationship in a Personalized Photo Book

Commitment Time: 20 minutes to 45 minutes

Cost: $10-$25

Step 1: Go to the CVS Photobook order page to order photos of you and your honey from social media or your hard drive. Use Coupon code: Save30 to get 30% off today and pick up the prints the same day. There is even a mobile App which makes the process 2x faster!

Step 2: While you’re there to pick up a bag, tissue paper, a card and candy.

Step 3:  Arrange book, candy and card in bag and present over dinner!

Present a Personalized Digital Video

Commitment Time: 20 minutes to 45 minutes

Cost: $0

Step 1: Go to SoundCloud and pick a Valentine Mix to download, depending on the genre of music you or your sweetheart likes.

Step 2: Upload a video on your smartphone app (I like MixBit  )

Step 3: Pick your fave videos and photos from your phone’s photo album or social media accounts, then upload and use the valentine mix as the background.

Step 4: Give your phone with the finished project to your sweetheart to look at it and put the headphones over their ears so they can focus on that and not other distractions of TV, social media alerts, other people around etc


Make Homemade Cookies for partner With Dietary Restrictions

kick ass carrot cookies

For your sweetheart who has dietary restrictions like lactose intolerance, or is vegan, why not make these yummy Kick-Ass Carrot Cookies, featured in a new book, Dr. Koufman’s Acid Reflux Diet: With 111 All New Recipes Including Vegan & Gluten-Free? Dr. Jamie Koufman collaborated with Chef Philip Gelb for this recipe, perfect for Vegans.

Makes 3 dozen cookies | 65 calories per cookie

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup white flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup maple syrup

½ cup grapeseed oil

1 cup grated carrot

½ cup dried cherries

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. In one bowl, combine the oats, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the syrup and oil.
  4. Add the carrots and dried cherries to the wet mixture and mix well.
  5. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and gently combine. Do NOT overmix, or the cookies will be rubbery.
  6. Drop 1-teaspoon portions of the mixture on a grapeseed-oiled baking sheet, 2 inches apart. (These cookies only bake well if they are small.)
  7. Bake for 10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook, as they burn easily.

 Notes: For the picky eaters in your home, sneak a little carrot into their diet with this amazing cookie recipe. For a fun variation, dried cherries can be replaced by currants, raisins, dried blueberries, or dried cranberries, or a combination. – Chef Philip



Gift a Plush Gift that Gives Back to the Community

leo lionni kohl's cares collection

Give a gift and do good.

If you live near a Kohl‘s department store, you can pick up a Leo Lionni soft toy or other gift that are part of the Kohl’s Cares collection for just $5 each, and let your honey know that 100% of the net proceeds will benefit children’s health initiatives nationwide. The collection is available at Kohls.com  now through early April.

Books and accessories featured in the Kohl’s Cares collection this spring include:

  •          Frederick book and mouse soft toy
  •          A Color of His Own book and chameleon soft toy
  •          It’s Mine! Book and frog soft toy
  •          Cornelius book and crocodile soft toy
  •          Swimmy book
  •          Tote bag
  •          101 Kids Activities book

Good luck lovers and friends!

Had the Baby Before the Wedding? Here are 4 Ways to Still have that Fairytale Wedding on a Budget


The fairytale wedding that you’ve dreamed of since childhood may be the most magical day of your life. But weddings come with a hefty price tag. The average cost of a wedding in 2014 was more than $31,000, according to nearly 16,000 brides and grooms surveyed by The Knot. The venue alone can cost upwards of $14,000, and the average wedding dress is around $1,357. Don’t forget these numbers exclude the required engagement ring and honeymoon.

If your savings account falls short of your wedding budget, here are four ideas to financially supplement your wedding funds.

Use Your Mobile Phone to Save

One of the top wedding trends for 2014 is using smartphones to wedding plan, such as researching venues and wedding dresses. Couples can also use their smartphones as a wedding tool for saving. Download Unsplurge, an app designed to help you save with visuals and a community aspect.

Enter “wedding” into the app as the event you want to save for, along with an amount and photo. You can even break down “wedding” into smaller goals, such as dress, venue, photographer and florist. Then using visualizations, the app tracks your progress and keeps you on target to reach your goal. The Town, a section of the app where you can see what other people are saving for, can also help motivate you to reach your financial wedding goals.

Become an Independent Business Owner

Earn extra income by joining the direct selling industry as an independent business owner selling products you’re passionate about. Amway provides the opportunity for you to start your own business and work on the side with flexibility and convenience. This means you can still work full time and wedding plan while growing your business in between. Also, as your business and network grows, you’ll strengthen your investment with higher earning potential. Continue your business even after you’re married to help support other major expenses such as buying a house or starting a family.

Get Crafty & DIY

DIY wedding projects can help you stay within budget — and the extra savings do add up. Not only does a DIY approach give your wedding details a personalized touch, but craft projects also provide bonding opportunities with friends and family. Grab a couple bottles of wine, meet up with friends and create the following items:

  • Ceremony decor: Avoid expensive speciality arrangements and adorn your ceremony with vases full of locally grown flowers or candle centerpieces to create a romantic ambiance. Popsugar.com also offers 53 stylish DIY wedding ideas, from a farmer’s market bouquet to a glitter star garland.
  • Favors: Homemade baked sweet treats, such as chocolate bark or heart-shaped cookies, wrapped in a colorful box or cute bags are an affordable, charming wedding favor. Other creative low-cost ideas inspired by Better Homes & Gardens include s’mores kits, recipe cards in brown bags with fresh herbs or custom tea blends in small glass containers with brewing instructions.
  • Invitations and Save-the-Dates: Wedding invitations cost nearly $430 on average. Create stylish invitations for less with a printable DIY wedding invitation kit. Brides Magazine suggests making DIY thank you cards with a three-tiered wedding-cake shape using three layers of patterned washi tape and black pen to draw the stand.

Raise Money for the Honeymoon

As part of the wedding planning process, couples register for wedding gift items like kitchenware, appliances, home accessories and more. But what about registering for a trip to the Caribbean?

Honeyfund is a free online wedding registry, crowdfunding site and fundraising platform where wedding guests can help you afford the honeymoon of your dreams. With Honeyfund, the perfect honeymoon destination is possible across the globe, from the coasts of Greece to the untouched beauty of New Zealand.

Once your registry is set up, tools are available to share it. Friends and family can easily send payment gifts both on and offline to congratulate you and celebrate your marriage.

10 Ways to Grow An Entrepreneurial Child

Love this from our friends at by Babysitters.net. As an entrepreneur myself, I love having tips and ideas for arming my kids with the tools to follow in my footsteps. Very few people who work for someone else wind up rich or wealthy! It’s the business owners and entrepreneurs generally that do! Enjoy:

The world is filled with entrepreneurs, and it’s a good thing too! After all, where would we be without things like Velcro and disposable diapers? According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, of the over half a million requests for patents that were filed in 2010, over 244,000 were issued. Because entrepreneurs are how we continue to invent new products and services, it’s important to help create an environment that encourages our children to carry on in the same entrepreneurial spirit.

Check out 10 ways to spark the entrepreneurial spirit and fan the flame of creativity in your own child.

Encourage her ideas. Build up her confidence. Brainstorm with her if she comes to you with an idea for something she could do. Ask her questions and help her to come up with her own answers.

Never tell him something won’t work. Instead of telling him that there’s no way a lemonade stand will work in front of your house because there’s no traffic, help him come to his own conclusion. By responding negatively to his ideas he could feel defeated and like his ideas are unworthy. According to Mimi Doe, parenting expert and author of 10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting, parents need to be careful with what they say because words have the ability to lift a child’s spirit or crush it.

Expose your child to other entrepreneurial kids. Head to the library and look up books that contain information about kids who have started their own business and been successful. Ask around and see if there are any entrepreneurial kids in your area that she could speak with.

Help with a lemonade stand. He has seen other kids on TV having lemonade stands and making money, and he wants in on the action. If he comes to you with the idea of a lemonade stand go with it. Don’t squash his excitement. Help him make the lemonade and devise his pricing and marketing model to show your support.

Let your child make mistakes. Parents often want to save kids from making mistakes, but mistakes are how everyone learns. You can’t protect your children from everything. If she sits at lemonade stand for a while and doesn’t sell anything, she will wonder why. When she asks, don’t just answer directly. Again, ask her questions like, “Do you see very many people walking past your stand? How do people know you are here?” She will figure out that she either needs to move or put up a sign directing people to her.

Teach your child about cost versus profit. Once he has had a taste of success and made some money, now comes the challenging part. Explain to him how much it costs to make lemonade and serve it to the public in a cup with ice. Help him do the math, if necessary,

need to be careful with what they say because words have the ability to lift a child’s spirit or crush it.

Expose your child to other entrepreneurial kids. Head to the library and look up books that contain information about kids who have started their own business and been successful. Ask around and see if there are any entrepreneurial kids in your area that she could speak with.

Help with a lemonade stand. He has seen other kids on TV having lemonade stands and making money, and he wants in on the action. If he comes to you with the idea of a lemonade stand go with it. Don’t squash his excitement. Help him make the lemonade and devise his pricing and marketing model to show your support.

Let your child make mistakes. Parents often want to save kids from making mistakes, but mistakes are how everyone learns. You can’t protect your children from everything. If she sits at lemonade stand for a while and doesn’t sell anything, she will wonder why. When she asks, don’t just answer directly. Again, ask her questions like, “Do you see very many people walking past your stand? How do people know you are here?” She will figure out that she either needs to move or put up a sign directing people to her.

Teach your child about cost versus profit. Once he has had a taste of success and made some money, now comes the challenging part. Explain to him how much it costs to make lemonade and serve it to the public in a cup with ice. Help him do the math, if necessary, and ask him if he made enough money to pay for the ingredients that went into his lemonade. If not then you can talk about why that is and what he can do to change that. Alyson Schafer, parenting expert and psychotherapist, says that parents should take any opportunity to teach their children about the value of money.


7 Ways to Tell If your Child is a Genius!

Your child learned to read at an early age, breezed through flash cards and mastered the multiplication tables. You wonder, is she gifted? Possibly even genius level? Well, there are a number of ways to know for certain just how sharp your little whiz-kid really is. We’re going to share some with you – ten ways to see if your kid really is a genius:

  1. It’s in the genes. – To an extent at least, you can get a sense of a baby’s intellectual capacity from her parents. Are you and/or your spouse of genius level intelligence? Gifted parents will tend to have gifted children.
  2. Verbal benchmarks. – If your child began talking before the age of one year, she is very likely gifted, possibly genius level, which is a score of 140 or more on a standard IQ test, by the way. There is really no more significance to the label than that, something to keep in mind.
  3. IQ testing – Results can vary, as do the forms of testing depending on where they are taken and who is administering them. An IQ exam will test a wide range of skills and aptitude. Experts suggest testing a child’s IQ between the ages of 4 and 9 years old.
  4. Child Development Specialist – A good place to start if you really wish to rate your child’s level of giftedness is with one of these professionals. They can administer the appropriate tests, and identify indicators that are common among gifted children.
  5. Vocabulary – A gifted child will not only learn to read and speak at an early age, but also demonstrate command of an extensive vocabulary for their age. Reading will be a strong habit for a gifted child, and she will be able to incorporate newly learned words into her vocabulary quite readily.
  6. At ease with adults. – It is common for gifted children to be able to interact easily with adults. Their interests and conversational skills will be considerably more advanced than those of average child their age.
  7. Reasoning/Logic – A highly developed power of abstract thought and reasoning is another common trait among gifted children. They will typically be able to conceptualize subjects and ideas that are too complex for an average child to comprehend.

Let us know if you have a real Baby Einstein in your home.

The 5 Destinations I think You Should Consider for Your Babymoon

baby moon

Much is said about the importance of new parents getting a babymoon in before the delivery of a newborn, especially for first time parents who may be woefully unprepared for the drastic and dramatic shift in their lives to come.

I don’t believe they were en vogue when I was first pregnant, but if I could go back in time and do it again, these would be my top 5 destinations and why:


La Jolla Cove, California– This quaint Orange County city is an absolutely fab place to get away to for several reasons. It’s near the water and provides a wonderful place to have a late evening picnic or to watch the sun rise or set. It boasts a generous amount of day spas for getting a pregnancy massage or a couple’s massage. It has lovely restaurants, boutique shops and brand name exclusive shops along the main boulevard. It’s moments away from bustling down town San Diego where you can find a live band in any genre playing at the varying pubs, clubs, nightspots and hangouts there. Highly rated. I loved going there on my one year wedding anniversary and would highly recommend it as a baby moon destination. If I could live my life over again, I’d apply to get into the University of San Diego which is near this town. Yeah. I love this area that much.


Las Vegas, Nevada- You wouldn’t ordinarily think this is a wonderful place for a pregnant woman to go especially since many people smoke at the various casinos that litter that town. However, to the contrary, there is a variety of entertainment options offering from Cirque du Soleil to Vegas show girl caberets to world class concerts from music industry legends. Prince, Toni Braxton, Celine Dion and others all headlined major nightly shows there. Even if you go there for a weekend, you’re bound to take in a lot of sights and entertainment. And every time I go, I notice a brand new “it” hotel to supplant the one that was the hottest only a few years prior. Don’t sleep on Vegas as a baby moon option. You can’t get knocked up twice. So what happens in Vegas can stay in Vegas.

st martin

Saint Marteen and Saint Martin, West Indies. This twin island which is a Dutch property to the South and French one to the north provides visitors all the pleasures of vacationing in Europe but with the extra plus of being in a warm tropical hotspot surrounded by water. The few times I’ve visited, I was able to escape to the the North and take in the villas of the French side or walk into a bakery and greeted by the shopkeeper telling me “Bon Soir” just as if I were in Nice. I could also appreciate the wonderful international flavor of its multicultural population. Locals speak over 8 different languages and as you walk from one block to the next you are bound to hear people talking in different tongues. On the Dutch side, there is gambling and haggling. St. Maarten is known as one of THE best places to get a deal on jewelry. Then for an added bonus, for the fee of the price of a tiny ferry, you can take a day trip over to the even tinier island of Anguilla, a famous and often visited getaway for many A-list celebrities because of how secluded the villas and rented mansions are. It’s a great place to go to really get away and loaf on a quiet beach. Love Love it


Paris, France – It’s not called the city of love for nothing. The museums, cultural sights, restaurants and shopping make this an ideal destination for any occasion. It may be a long while after baby comes that you will be comfortable either traveling with a baby, small child or children or okay leaving the kids for a Paris trip. While you have the opportunity, it may be a great time to take this sojourn across the ocean and to Europe.


Local Bed and Breakfast – Because not everyone has the budget, time away from work option or interest in traveling too far from family or the doctor or delivery hospital while pregnant, taking advantage of a quick weekend getaway to a nearby inn, bed and breakfast or hotel could do! There are sometimes specials on sites like GroupOn, LivingSocial and other sites that can be taken advantaged of and it saves the cost of car rental and air flight. You can plan to catch a play, movie or head to a local lounge or nightclub in the day and then order in, watch movies, chill by the hotel pool and vege at night. It’s a great option for those who already have kids and want some quiet time alone.

All these options are wonderful for mom and for dad who may have had to deal with an irritable, irate and demanding wife for nearly 9 months. Getting away on a baby moon gives couples that time to reconnect and rededicate their love one last time before the restless nights begin with a new baby!


Packing Your Hospital Bag: Leave These 12 Things You’re Not Gonna Need At Home

Listen, you know all those baby prep books you’ve read that give you super long lists of stuff you need to pack to take with you for labor and delivery when it’s time to welcome your new baby? Okay, you’re not gonna need most of that stuff. Now, you may feel some comfort and security knowing that you have your 90s soft rock 3-disc CD to take your mind off of labor pains, but most likely, it won’t make it out of your suitcase. 

Besides all the useless and uncessary things you’ll chorale to the hospital, you’ll have additional things, flowers, gifts, balloons and baby stuff to add to the pile and schlep back home. To save you the trouble and hassle, here is our old tried and true list of 12 things you can leave home and spare your poor partner the back pain.

  1. Newborn diapers– Hospitals provide all the diapers the baby needs during the stay and even send you home with extra starter packs
  2. Nursing cover -There is no need for modesty in your hospital room in your hospital bed. The nurses have seen plenty of boobs in their career. If guests visit while you’re nursing, you can ask them to wait outside until you’re done feeding the baby. Most people won’t get offended.
  3. Wipes– Most hospitals use a very thick napkin that they wet with water and wipes contain elements that aren’t good for a newborn’s skin.
  4. Diaper Cream -Most likely the baby won’t be born with a diaper rash and won’t develop one within the first2-3 days of his life while in the hospital. If he does, the hospital has sample cream to use. Those tubes and jars can add weight to an already stuffed take home bag
  5. Any childbirth class notes or guidelines and labor hints: Really now? Do you think in the midst of breathing through labor pains you’re gonna want to review your notes?
  6. Underwear– Many hospitals provide the most comfortable mesh disposable ones that you will love to use instead of messing up your own. The joke among my friends is that they are the special order Victoria Secret mesh panties for new moms.
  7. iPod or music player – with music selections to help with relaxation Besides being outdated and taking up too much space, piping Gregorian Chants or Enya in the room may be a distraction for the hospital staff, interrupt with monitoring equipment and/or disturb a neighboring laboring moms. If you have a smartphone that has the capability of accommodating music, download music on there and bring your headphones. It takes up less space than bringing your phone AND ipod.
  8. Receiving blankets- The hospital provides plenty that you can take home even afterwards. Save all the cute baby shower gifts for home.
  9. Two regular-sized bed pillows (in bright, distinctive, hard-to-lose pillowcases)- The Hospital or maternity center provide enough. If you are a germaphobe, think the hospital’s pillow cases may be too rough or want something familiar from home, just bring the pillowcases and replace the hospital’s cases. They take up less space.
  10. Baby’s “memory” book – for footprints or staff names and guest signatures Nice idea if you have someone who will remind guests to sign because you’ll be consumed with baby, nursing, caring for yourself, and will likely forget.
  11. Entertainment items (books, crayons, games) for children are to visit in hospital – A lot of hospitals don’t permit young children  in the maternity wards, but for those who do and if children come to visit they may not be staying THAT long to get bored and need entertainment. As for other people’s children, it’s not your job to tote extra crap to entertain your friends’ kids.
  12. Clothes for hospital baby photo AND clothes for baby to wear home  You only need one of these. Either or. The kid shouldn’t be a fashionista YET that she can’t be seen in the same outfit twice. You can simply put on the outfit before the photo and take it off afterward. If you can, schedule your photo the same day and around your discharge time.

The Extra Crap you don’t NEED but you CAN bring (eh hem, especially if you are a diva or fashionista):

  1. Make up– because you don’t want to end up on Facebook looking like you just went through a train wreck. If your goal is to look like Khloe Kardashian after she delivered Mason or at least attempt to, then you’re gonna want some make up.
  2. Towels- Because the hospital ones are usually washed a lot and can be itchy.
  3. Your own toilet paper – Hospital toilet paper can be thin. Your delicate bum may want something soft then
  4. Your Own Plush Robe – For accepting visitors, walks to the nursery to visit baby and /or walking off the gas for those who have c-sections.
  5. A spare bag – You can use it to store the extra stuff you’ll have to carry home.

Overdue? Here are 5 Ways to Naturally Induce Your Labor

Bellyitch Rewind


Premature birth may worry you as it worries most expectant parents but becoming overdue can also bring its own concerns and difficulties, and knowing natural ways to induce your labor could be helpful. As you become larger, sleeping can become more challenging. It becomes increasingly more difficult to get into a comfortable position as does breathing as your lungs become more crowded due to your overgrown uterus. If your baby stays in too long then there are risks associated with this, most commonly that your baby could pass meconium. If you find yourself overdue and are seeking advice to naturally help induce labour then the following is a list of ideas to do exactly that.

  1. Sex– is often prescribed by doctors to help induce labour because the prostaglandins in semen help soften and prepare the cervix to dilate.
  2. Herbs – hundreds of years ago midwives used herbs to prepare mothers for pregnancy, labour and birth. This was before the invention of pitocin. You must be very cautious with herbs of any kind as they can cause great damage if the correct dosage is not administered. Black cohosh, available in capsules or teas is commonly used to induce labour and can be with or without alcohol. During birth, black cohosh can help strengthen and regulate uterine contractions. Other herbs which have similar effects are red raspberry leaf and false unicorn root. These particular herbs have natural chemicals which are released into the woman’s body and stimulate the baby to encourage her to move and get positioned for birth. Herbs should not be used until the cervix is ready to open as they will not work until then. Beware of some herbs which can be dangerous to you or your baby such as aloe vera, bungleweed and pokeroot as these are some of the herbs that can cause premature birth or birth defects. Always consult a doctor before self-medicating with herbs. Primrose oil is used to induce labour as it has a comparable effect to semen in the cervix by softening and ripening it.
  3. Castor Oil – is taken by some women as a natural method of bringing on labour. The theory being that the diarrhoea and cramping it causes also causes contractions that can induce labour. It is unpleasant to taste but two tablespoons can be mixed into another drink such as a juice. It is advised to consume castor oil in the morning as you will be woken in the night with the cramping and diarrhoea if you take it in the evening. There are risks with taking castor oil such as the expectant mother becoming dehydrated because she has diarrhoea and also it increases the risk of the baby passing meconium while still in the uterus.
  4. Nipple Stimulation – for hundreds of years nipple stimulation has been used by women to help induce labour. It has an effect of releasing a natural form of pitocin called oxytocin. Similarly to pitocin, oxytocin triggers contractions that can bring on labour. This method for naturally inducing labour is only effective near to your due date and when you are ready to give birth. Before forty weeks, it is not advisable to induce labour. The nipples can be stimulated manually or a breast pump can be used. Care needs to be taken as your uterus can become hyperstimulated. Only stimulate one nipple at a time and rest immediately once you notice contractions. Wait at least fifteen minutes after the contractions have stopped before resuming. If you do not get any rest between contractions other problems can arise.
  5. Be Active – whilst most doctors advise you to slow down and reduce your activities as you approach your due date, it is also helpful to remain active as long as you do not cause yourself any stress. Walking a wee bit more than usual and slowly swinging your hips from side to side can help induce labour by stimulating your baby and getting her moving into the birthing position. If you fancy some fun, sex is always a good idea as I mentioned before because along with semen helping the cervix to soften, the female orgasm produces a hormone which aids childbirth.

Other methods women have used include acupressure and eating spicy foods, but watch out for possible nausea with spicy food and medical research has not yet supported this idea as definitely being beneficial.

God luck! Godspeed! And safe labor and delivery to  you!