5 tips for finding your people

20180407-DSC_0149

It’s funny where memory is rooted.

Slicing an orange today, I was reminded of a mamas group that I belonged to when my first baby, Sage, was a newborn. Though it’s been some 15 years, I still remember our weekly morning potlucks.

Together at the local park or in our kitchens, we would drink tea, nurse babies, chase toddlers and talk about our nights, our days, our struggles – motherhood. It was the local crunchy mama group full of small town living-, attachment-parenting, homebirthing-, breastfeeding-, cosleeping-moms. It was my first taste of community as a mother, a place where I could ask questions and trust the answers would be more-or-less in line with my world view; a place to talk about our non-traditional choices as if they were normal.

I needed it so.

But back to the oranges. I remember one week, a mom who was having a rough morning and struggling to simply get out the door, brought a bowl of sliced oranges. “That’s the best I can do this week,” she said. Not apologizing, but simply acknowledging and honoring the day she was having.

After 15 years, I still remember those oranges.

What was significant about them? For me, as a struggling new mom, in her realness and lack of perfection (what, no freshly baked bread or homemade granola and yogurt?) I saw my own struggle. “The best I can do today is oranges, and that’s enough.”

And though she certainly long ago forgot, I still think of it every time I slice an orange.

Her honest imperfection validated my own rough days. It validated my flaws. It validated the always messy, often painful deconstruction of who I thought I was, as I slowly found my feet again in a brand new reality.

That group was a lifeline for me during those first months of motherhood.

How important it is that we show up for one another – whether with freshly baked muffins or a bowl sliced oranges or only dirty-faced babies in our arms and tears in our eyes.

All this to say, mamas of little ones: find your people.

In real life or online; at the yarn store; at church; in a parenting group; or a virtual community. But find them any way you can, and show up in all of your beautiful flaws.

You never know what may shape your life.

And you never know the powerful impact your own honesty may have.

5 tips for mamas to help you find your people

Ready to find your people?

Here are five simple tips to get you on your way.

1. Become a sling stalker

(Or a stroller stalker. Or a jogger-stroller stalker. You get the idea.) Keep your eyes out for other moms who look like “your people”, whatever that may mean. It might be parenting-style specific, or it might just be another mama of little ones to connect with. At the park, the grocery store, or walking downtown, keep your eyes open for other mothers who might just be speaking your language.

Then step out of your comfort zone.

Make eye contact, say hello, exchange a few words about motherhood, toddlers, or life.

Making new friends can be hard at any stage of life, but with a baby on your back or a toddler in your arms? Connection is somehow easier. (My mama group found me when I was still pregnant with my first, because one of their members saw me and invited me in. I’m so glad she did.)

It takes courage to reach out, but your boldness will be rewarded.

2. Join an existing group

La Leche League is about more than just breastfeeding. So is any parent-child group that you can get your hands on. I signed my young son up for a Spanish-language immersion morning once a week, more for him than for me.

No, my 2 year old didn’t learn a lick of Spanish, but I met some lifelong friends in that class, and for that I am still grateful.

Find other parents who are already gathering, and join them.

3. Start your own group

Whether you live in a big city or a tiny town, there’s no guarantee that you’ll find your people in a day. Or perhaps there is no local group that speaks to you.

If you’re coming up empty, put a notice on your local community bulletin board (something in the local coffee shop, grocery store, or online forum) and invite other moms to a meet-up.

If you wish, narrow your focus in to attract the moms you’re looking for. Our group went by the name of “Earth Mothers” so I had a decent idea what the group would be like before I ever showed up, but it certainly wasn’t the only mama group in town. Start one that speaks to your heart, based on whatever drives you: diet, religion, parenting-style, anything! Chances are it will speak to others as well.

4. Connect online

In the absence of a flesh-and-blood mama’s group, online is a wonderful alternative. Find a community online through a favorite parenting website or social media platform. Use keywords that are in line with your personal or parenting values to narrow down the scope.

5. Be patient

Finding your people takes time. Repeat the steps above as needed until you find the community you’re looking for. They are out there, and they’re waiting for you.

 

5 tips for mamas to help you find your people

Women’s Moon Tea

Two friends reached out today with nearly identical requests: they were seeking herbal tea suggestions for menstruation.

Coincidentally, I was brewing up my favorite moon tea blend for myself! How serendipitous!

This tea supports women before, during, and after menstruation and is easy to adapt for cramps, heavy periods, or PMS symptoms, or even for use during pregnancy.

The heart of this blend is wild red raspberry leaf.

20180403-DSC_0123

Raspberry Leaf

Red raspberry leaf is a renowned women’s tonic that I learned about when I was pregnant with my first child and was told by my midwife to drink a quart of raspberry leaf infusion each day to prepare for childbirth.

This highly nourishing herb supports and tones women’s reproductive systems, and is recommended for women during a variety of stages of fertility, most notably as my midwife did, during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Because raspberry leaf it rich in iron, it also helps to restore strength in the body by replacing iron lost during bleeding, both during menstruation and postpartum. It is also an important herb for treating diarrhea and can be a useful herb to help reduce excessive menstrual bleeding.

Indeed, there are countless uses for the humble, often overlooked plant.

Raspberry leaf is rich in iron, niacin, and manganese. It’s also easy to identify and forage, for those who are interested, or can be purchased at your local natural foods coop or online (Mountain Rose Herbs is one shop I trust for ethically grown, quality herbs.)

20180403-DSC_0128

Fennel & Ginger Root

Both fennel and ginger can help quiet cramping – both menstrual and digestive – and make raspberry leaf tea even more delicious! If you aren’t crazy about the flavors you may substitute lemon balm or peppermint leaf instead, or choose from the list of optional ingredients below.

20180403-DSC_0115Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dried wild raspberry leaf
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger root, thinly sliced or grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seed

Optional additions

The ingredients listed below are also wonderful herbs to make a habit of, during any stage in your cycle. Nettle leaf is a miraculous, nutrient-dense herb (more information on my personal blog about nettle, here). Licorice root supports adrenal glands, reproductive system, and endocrine system. Burdock and dandelion are excellent for digestive health and liver function, and a sluggish or taxed liver can lead to more difficult menstrual cycles. Add none, any, or all!

  • 2 tbsp dried nettle leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp licorice root
  • 1 1/2 tsp burdock root
  • 1 tsp dandelion root

20180403-DSC_0134

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients in a quart-sized mason jar.
  • Slowly pour freshly boiled water over herbs to gently warm your jar, then fill to the capacity.
  • Cover with a plate and steep for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • When ready to serve, pour infusion through a fine mesh strainer into a mug and sweeten with raw honey if desired. Any remaining tea can steep longer, intensifying the flavor and infusing it with even more goodness. Dilute with additional hot water if flavor becomes to strong for your liking.
  • Drink a quart a day as desired.

women's-moon-tea

P.S. Sign up through the link below to stay up-to-date on my new posts here! If you subscribe to CLEAN, my personal blog, you will not receive notifications for the LüSa Organics Blog.

New Baby Checklist

I remember feeling overwhelmed as we stocked up on supplies for our first child. Do I need 8 cloth diapers or 28? Six onesies or sixteen? And what the heck is a receiving blanket for?

I wrote this post way back in 2010 and many parents have found it helpful as they prepare for their baby’s arrival. Since it’s quite buried in my archives now I thought I’d share it again today.

Pass it along to any friends you have who are expecting and wondering what they really need for their little one.

New Baby Checklist. What you really need for baby. | Clean

The simple checklist below is designed to ease the transition to parenthood, whether it is your first time or your fifth and you’ve forgotten (again!).

A Word about Quantity:

There is no right or wrong answer to the “How many?” question on baby gear.

The numbers below we feel are fairly frugal – and for most people will be just enough. They should last your newborn for 2-3 days (expecting diaper blow-outs and spit-up changes) before laundry needs to be done.

You may choose to acquire fewer (and do laundry more often) or more, depending on your desires.

A word about links:

I have linked to a few products that I make and sell (LuSa Organics) because it means so much to us when you choose LuSa. I also link to a few products that we used and loved. No, these aren’t paid sponsorships or ads in anyway. Just my opinion if what we love!

~ : : ~ : : ~ : : ~ : : ~

Clothing

Tiny bodies lose heat faster than big bodies. Therefore babies need more layers than adults.

A simple rule is to add a layer to what you are comfortable wearing (unless your baby is skin-to-skin or otherwise close to your body in baby carrier under some of your layers.

Use your own judgment here – baby’s skin should feel warm rather than cold, hot, or sweaty). If you are in a short sleeve shirt, baby will be comfortable in a long sleeve shirt. If you are in a jacket, bundle baby in warm clothing and then cover with a blanket.

New Baby Checklist. What you really need for baby. | Clean

  • 2 newborn baby hats (stretchy cotton or other absorbent natural fiber)

  • 6 Onesies or baby tees each in sizes NB and 0-3 (long or short sleeve or a combination, depending on season and climate) (My first baby never fit into size NB so it’s a good idea to have the next size ready as well)

  • 4 outfits (footed long sleeve sleepers or simple, soft, comfortable, natural fiber clothing (wool, cotton), appropriate to your climate)

  • 4 sets of pajamas (gowns or wool or cotton footies)

  • 6 pairs of baby socks

  • Seasonal items, depending on your climate and the season

    • Sunhat

    • Snowsuit

    • Mittens

    • Warm clothing (rompers)

    • Warm booties

 ~ : : ~ : : ~ : : ~ : : ~Baby Care Basics

The items below we believe are must-haves for new babies and parents.

Go for quality over price, and shop second-hand (Craigslist, Ebay, thrift, or rummage) to stretch your dollars.

The list is short. There isn’t much more than you that your baby really needs. 

New Baby Checklist. What you really need for baby. | Clean

Edited to add: yes, I’m wearing my baby facing out. There are a number of reasons this is now discouraged. I had no idea! Forgive me. 😉

  • Baby carrier (try a stretchy cotton wrap (like the Moby Wrapabove) for the first year, and/or an adjustable, padded ring sling like Over the Shoulder Baby Holder). Both of the carriers mentioned will fit mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, and babysitter with ease.

  • 3-6 Soft wash cloths

  • 1 hooded towel or soft cotton bath towel

  • 4-6 Receiving blankets. (Receiving blankets were a little boggling to us when we were pregnant with our first baby. “You’ll use them for everything,” my mom said. “Everything” for us included: spit up-clean up, post bath bundling, breast-milk absorption, baby wrapping, car-seat lining, changing table-covering, bed-piddle pad top layer, and sun shade-improvisation. Indeed, they were quite helpful.)

  • 1 small, warm blanket made of natural fibers. (You can make your own out of an couple of old soft sweaters!)

  • 1 bar of organic baby soap (we’re partial to LuSa Organics Calendula Baby Soap since, well, we make it.) Soap is useful for occasional bottom cleaning after acidic or messy diaper changes rather than all-over-bathing. No shampoo, lotion, powered, etc is needed for a newborn! Really! In fact, less is better. Babies aren’t dirty and their sensitive skin is stripped by excessive product and cleaner use. (Sure, I own a baby body care company. But seriously – less is better for babies. Go it slow. You’ll have plenty of time to suds them up when they are big.)
~ : : ~ : : ~ : : ~ : : ~

Nice to Have Additions

Most people will argue that this list is really a list of Must Have’s as well, but in the interest of economy, you can get by with very little! Therefore we call these “nice to haves”.

Yes, we had most (but not all) of these for both of our kids. We loved having them but could get by without them if we had to.

New Baby Checklist. What you really need for baby. | Clean
  • Car seat (a necessity for anyone planning on doing any car travel)

  • 1 swaddle blanket (Swaddling recreates a womb-like sensation for sensitive newborns. It is calming and comforting and helps overstimulated babies calm and soothe while you rock or nurse them to sleep in your loving arms). You can easily make your own for just a few bucks.
  • Bed guard (this one is great for cosleeping safely)

  • Breast pump (simple is fine, we loved our manual Avent Isis)

  • Nursing pillow
  • Additional baby carrier (as baby grows larger a more structured carrier is so comfortable. We loved our Ergo, above and used it daily until age 2 1/2. We still used it weekly with our 3 to 4 year old!).

  • Sleep sack (babies don’t like covers, so a sleep sack of itchless wool keeps little bodies warm and sleeping soundly. Make your own if you are a sewer, knitter, or crocheter.)

  • White noise machine (to drown out house sounds and outside noise while baby sleeps)

  • Baby Monitor (so you can wander a bit further than outside of your sleeping baby’s door)

  • Nosefrida (an easy to clean, safe “snot-sucker” as it were)

  • Thermometer

  • Baby nail clippers or nail scissors

~ : : ~ : : ~ : : ~ : : ~

For Mama

One of the leading causes of postpartum depression is the feeling that you aren’t taken care of. So get yourself (or your lady) ready!

Have these items stashed bedside for new Mama’s early days with baby.

New Baby Checklist. What you really need for baby. | Clean

  • (BPA-free) Water bottle (we love our Klean Kanteens) or mason jar with a straw closure. (Partners: Keep it filled for her, or keep a glass quart jar close by for refills. Most mamas drink a pint of water at each nursing in the early weeks. That’s a whole lot of refills each day. Keep on it.)

  • High-energy healthy snacks (Lara Bar, nuts and fruit, dried fruit, protein-rich healthy nibbles.) (Partners: restock this basket for her daily.) edited: I just posted a recipe for the best ever bedside snack for a nursing mama. Date balls. They store well and are a great labor snack as well, so make a few batches before baby arrives.

  • Baby-safe nipple cream

  • Phone number of local LLL leader or lactation consultant

  • Hot water bottle

~ : : ~ : : ~ : : ~ : : ~

Diaper Bag

  • Roomy, comfortable shoulder bag or backpack
  • Small wet bag

  • Travel-sized organic diaper cream (I make cloth diaper safe LuSa Organics Booty Balm but use what you love.)

  • Ziplock bag or travel container of wipes

  • Changing pad or receiving blanket

  • Change of clothes for baby

~ : : ~ : : ~ : : ~ : : ~

Diapering Needs

Diapering supplies below are broken down into three categories, depending on your approach (Cloth, Disposable, or Diaper-Free/Elimination Communication)

Both Elimination Communication (EC) and cloth categories will need the laundering supplies listed as well.

New Baby Checklist. What you really need for baby. | Clean

For Elimination Communication (EC) or Diaper Free Babies

  • Baby-sized potty (we used a Baby Bjorn little potty)
New Baby Checklist. What you really need for baby. | Clean

For Cloth Diapering

  • 20 cloth diapers (we love Canadian-made MotherEase)

  • 3 newborn size and 3 small breathable diaper covers or wraps

  • Baby Wipes (15) or high quality washcloths

  • LuSa Organics Baby Wipe Juice, homemade DIY wipe solution, or commercial wipes (but read those ingredients carefully! Most are sketchy at best and contain synthetic preservatives, fragrance oils, and other questionable ingredients.)

 

For Laundering Cloth Diapers (EC or Cloth methods)

  • Diaper pail or large wet bag

  • Unscented laundry soap

  • Tea tree essential oil

  • Vinegar

  • Baking soda

New Baby Checklist. What you really need for baby. | Clean

For Disposable Diapering

  • Two packs of disposable diapers, size Newborn

  • Paper towels and a sturdy container to hold homemade baby wipes

  • LuSa Organics Baby Wipe Juice, homemade DIY wipe solution, or commercial wipes (but read those ingredients carefully! Most are sketchy at best and contain synthetic preservatives, fragrance oils, and other questionable ingredients.)
  • Diaper pail or lidded trash can

~ : : ~ : : ~ : : ~ : : ~

What’s Missing?

What is not on our list may be as important as what is. There are no big furniture pieces or accessories. No expensive strollers, playpens, cribs, jumpers, or other doodads.

Why? Because all baby needs is your arms, mama’s milk, and love.

Really. That’s all.

I encourage parents to invest in a quality baby carrier ($100) and forgo an expensive stroller ($200). Your baby will thank you. Then take some of the money you saved and if you still want that stroller, tie on your baby, and scour rummage sales for a decent jogger stroller. You can often find them for under $25.00.

new-baby-checklist