“You can have it all. Just not all at once!” I’m not quite sure where I heard that for the first time. Could have been Oprah. Could have been someone’s Instagram caption. Who knows. Just kidding, it was definitely Lady O. But I never really understood what it meant until I became a mother. I am sure all you mama’s out there will agree with me, it’s bloody hard to keep it all together and I only have one baby. How the hell do y’all do it with multiples? I had delusions of grandeur that my modified mat leave was going to afford me time to do all of the things; hang with Max, learn how to edit videos, take cooking classes, host a mommy group for other new mother’s and periodically work on projects somewhere in between. Hahaha, well that has NOT been the case. A slew of amazing working opportunities have come my way and I’ve found it difficult to say no consequently creating a workload that has not only caused some anxiety but has also interrupted my ability to create a harmonious balance that I so desperately need. Taking on more than I probably should because…well, because life and bills need to be paid. But you know what? It’s f*cking tough when you’re self employed and your household requires two incomes to stay afloat. The blog and my branded partnerships comprise most of my time however, there’s also modelling gigs, consulting projects, guest speaking and commercial work also taking it’s share. So, full time hours. Full-time mommy. Struggling to somehow also fit in workouts, family time, a social life, and Réjean. Jesus, I just realized I typed out that list probably the way I am currently prioritizing them. Welp. Not intentional at all and yet another indication that I need to make a change.
That begin said, I will be going on a short hiatus for a bit, taking some much needed time to focus on my little nugget who seems to be growing at lightening speed right before my eyes. After my trip to Le Monastere des Augustines, I realized I need a proper re-set. My life and my brand is based on wellness and if I am going to talk the talk, I better be walking the walk. So, I have booked a vacation. Like, a real vacation not a press trip. I will be spending my first Mother’s Day away in México and will be drinking all of the margaritas. Our departure day cannot come soon enough, let me tell you. I also just really want to enjoy the rest of Maxwell’s first year, rather than having my head buried in a laptop or phone most of the day. Therefore, there won’t be as much action on my blog and social channels during the month of May. Unless it’s work I have already created prior or organic stuff I just feel like posting in the moment if I feel like it because exhaustion, weather inducing seasonal depression and lack of time has literally depleted my creativity. I chose a career change to be able to be my own boss and creative my own rules, so it’s about time I action a plan that let’s me have as close to everything at the same time as possible.
And yes I know, life looks glossy and perfect sometimes on the gram…but it really isn’t. I try my best to share my experiences; the good, the bad and the ugly. Do y’all remember the dog eating Maxwell’s shit the other day? If you see me killing it at work, just know there’s other things that have fallen by the waist side that week in order for me to get shit done. I don’t even remember the last time I cooked a proper dinner for our family because I just don’t have the time. That’s sort of become Réjean’s job tbh and I have had someone come in bi-weekly to help with cleaning until until a few weeks ago but I’ve fired them and realized how tough it is to fit in cleaning 1200 sqft while trying to juggle admin work and a baby at the same time. If you see me taking extra time to do cool things with Maxie like Giggly’s Baby Spa in the middle of the week, best believe that something work related was sacrificed and depending on how the day went, may have even skipped my workout.
I am not really sure what direction I will take going into June but I have a vague idea. An update will be shared once I am back in full effect. Just wanted to thank you guys for all your support. Honest to goodness, it’s all your the comments and DM’s that have gotten me through.
*Special thank you to the amazing and talented Nicole Cohen (@BlondeCoffeeBean) and Elizabeth Phipps (@Somersette_) for creating these magical images that I will not only cherish forever but is making me seriously reconsider baby #2.
For those who have wanted to details on Maxwell’s gorgeous romper from Instagram, you can find it and shop more of our faves from ultimate online baby boutique, Poppy’s Collection. Insanely adorable, it’s almost impossible to not to want everything. If I feel up to it I will share Maxie’s Mexico wardrobe which will consist of Poppy’s summer pieces.
Reading time was integrated super early in our household when I was growing up. Some of my earliest memories besides traveling with my family was connecting with my parents over books. I actually can recall vividly my mother reading to me super early on. So early, she barely believes me when I tell her. The different voices she would use for each character when she would read Robert Munch’s, “The Paper Bag Princess” will forever be etched in my mind.
When Max was about three or four months, it was my father who had told me about the importance of consistent infant reading and encouraged us to to integrate story time at home. This happen to occur right around the time we started sleeping training so reading became part of her nap and bedtime routine with us reading to her 3-4 times a day. Now 30+ years later, it has become one of my favourite ways to bond and connect with my daughter.
Story time with my parents gave me the confidence and interest to want to start reading on my own from an early age and I have a distinct feeling it will be the same with Maxwell. As parents, we have a tendency to repeat the same words to infants and babies. Not consciously of course, but if you read to your little one even for just 20 minutes a day, that’s 1.8 million new words and phrases for them to learn every year. Shocking, I know! It’s as if every single page you turn sets your child up for a bright future in school, with advanced vocabulary, language, and literary skills.
Indigo is the first place that comes to mind for books and all things reading. I can easily spend countless hours in their Sherway location and shopping online, especially since I can earn Aeroplan miles with my online purchases. We were given all the class Dr. Seuss and Robert Munsch classics at my baby shower so lately I have been focused on age appropriate books for the 6-12 month category and fell absolutely in love with Petite Boutique. It’s a line of baby books and they even have a few titles that have been designed exclusively for Indigo. Each book in this colourful and cute collection was created with babies in mind, covering core concepts like counting and colours, while engaging young kiddies in learning and literacy from day one. Maxie is OBSESSED with the touch and feel pages, mirrors and silicone buttons like in “Five Little Dinosaurs“. She is in a stage where she loves textures, which is really cute so I have to read this to her a few times in a row before sleep time so she can press and play with the dinosaurs.
I’ve been posting our story time quite a bit on my IG stories and I love how many of you have been sharing photos and videos with me of your own reading time with your baby. It’s really never too early to start reading and it’s actually recommended to begin while you’re pregnant. Babies are always listening, learning and remembering during the last stages of pregnancy. IndigoKids online is an excellent resource to assist parents on the reading journey for their children. I refer to it all the time and have found amazing tips and things to focus on while reading to Maxie. They have even gone as far as breaking the tips down into age categories; newborn, 6-24 months, 2-4 years, up to 8+ and even french immersion. I am not sure if many of you know, but Réjean is french and it’s his first language, so it’s important that M becomes fluent in it as well. We actually have a ton of french language books. I have chosen books that she knows well in English and have found the French version hoping that because she already knows the story in English, it will help her quickly learn and enjoy it in another language; like Marion Dane Bauer’s “Je T’aime Comme” and the english version “How Do I Love You“.
Indigo is a mecca of course for reading but guys, but it is SO MUCH MORE! I ordered almost all of the decor for Maxie’s nursery from Indigo via Aeroplan’s eStore and tons of my baby shower registry items were also from there. Whether you’re pregnant, just welcomed your bundle or already in the swing of things in your first year of parenthood, I’ve highlighted some of my absolute favourite Indigo items for Maxwell and her nursery that are perfect items for the first 24 months with baby.
I could talk (write) for hours about all the different things women experience postpartum but back pain seems to rank high on the list for new moms. Not really surprising at all when you think about all the demanding tasks in a mama’s day that requires bending, carrying, lifting and feeding; usually with a baby in hand, causing back muscles to work in overtime. I experienced some back pain towards the end of my pregnancy that made sleeping at night damn near impossible by the time I reached 34 weeks. Carrying around that amount of weight for 9 months can take a toll on the body, especially the abdominal muscles, which need to stretch to make room for the delivery.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to help with postpartum back pain. As soon as I was cleared by my healthcare practitioners , I made chiropractic care and functional training a priority to help with my postnatal recovery. With the help of my chiro Darcy Worthylake, I have recently introduced these 6 spine exercises to improve my back health.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that you could actually make working on back health a fun activity at home with you and your bub. Even though she’s only 7 months, I integrate Maxwell into some of my exercises at home and not only does it make it more fun for me, but it’s also a great way for us to bond. In her mind, she’s having the time of her life playing with mama while I’m benefiting by improving my core and back health.
It is surprising how by just adding a few exercises to your day can make a world of a difference giving you more support while carrying, lifting and holding your baby; whom only gets heavier as each week passes. If you’re a new mom and experiencing some discomfort due to your day-to-day tasks for your baby, there are four simple exercises you can do at home to help for post partum back pain:
Tips On How Improve Your New Mom Back Pain With Your Bub
Lie on your back, bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground.
Place your baby on your pelvis with their back against your thighs.
While holding your baby in place, slowly push your hips up towards the ceiling.
Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds.
Keep your abdominals tight to avoid sagging your lower back. Inhale as you slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
Repeat 8 to 12 times.
Lay your baby on the ground; face up, while kneeling in front of them.
Place your forearms on either side of your baby and lift your body off the ground.
Keep your back in neutral spine position and engage your core by contracting your abdominal muscles. Avoid letting your hips fall or stick up in the air.
Hold for 10 seconds, working your way up to 30 seconds.
Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Lying on your back, bend your knees at a 90-degree angle with your feet in the air.
Stabilize your baby so they are resting on your shins and hold onto their hands.
Engage your core and hold this position for 10 seconds, working your way up to 30 seconds.
Repeat 8 to 12 times.
Arm & Leg Extensions
Get down on all fours with your baby lying on their back and parallel to your chest.
Engage your core and slowly lift and extend your left arm and right leg at the same time while maintaining a neutral spine position.
Hold this position for 3 seconds, then lower your limbs and give your baby’s belly a tickle as you return to starting position.
Repeat on the opposite side, lifting right arm and left leg.
Repeat 8 to 12 times.
Before you begin working on back mobility or any kind of exercise, consult your postnatal practitioner and get cleared to return to exercise. For the safety of your little one, you will want to make sure that your newborn can hold their head up on their own if you’re going to include them in any of these exercises. If you experience any discomfort or pain in your back while performing any of these exercises or persist after trying them, visit your chiropractor to develop a treatment plan for your recovery.
This post is in partnership with the Ontario Chiropractic Association but all views and opinions are my own.
As a mother (new or seasoned veteran) we do whatever we can to keep our littles happy and healthy by any means necessary. The idea of our child being in any discomfort disturbs mom’s so much that we often find ourselves seeking out preventative measures for common conditions amongst babies in hopes we never have to encounter them. Funny enough, just when you think all the bases are covered, you can be hit with a little unexpected surprise leading you to spend countless hours reading comment boards and researching online.
We have been pretty lucky with Maxwell so far. I had worried a bit after she started sleeping through the night that being in the same diaper for 12 hours could cause some issues but we have been free and clear. No major concerns or issues however early on we saw the early signs of skin irritation in between her bum one day during a diaper change. My baby’s skin was nearly flawless, so to see this colour of crimson down there literally freaked me out. Terrified she was in any kind of discomfort and to be honest, worried it would soon turn into full blown diaper rash. My mother laughed when I called her on the verge of a diaper rash induced breakdown and quickly assured me that it’s a common condition that can be cleared up within a week once I incorporate a few extra steps into our diapering routine.
So, you’re probably thinking, “what are the causes of diaper rash and how do we prevent it?” With newborns extra sensitive skin, special care needs be taken to ensure that the area stays as dry as possible and moisture down there is a major culprit. It’s also common amongst babies between the ages of 9-12 months when their bowel movements start to change due to the introduction of solid foods. However, allergic reactions to soap and laundry detergent are not to be overlooked. In order to determine the cause of Maxie’s irritation, I immediately changed her laundry detergent and only used olive oil on her skin until the redness cleared up completely. Once it disappeared, I was able to re-introduce products like gentle wipes. We love using Huggies Natural Care wipes because they are safe for baby’s sensitive skin. They are made with 99% water and filtered 3 times, so we don’t have to worry about putting it on her skin. They are also hypoallergenic, fragrance and alcohol free, with the healing properties of both aloe and vitamin E.
Following these ABCDE’s of diapering can help you prevent diaper rash on your bub’s bum:
Diaper-free time once a day was one of the best thing’s I could have done for Maxie early on and we continue to do it until this day. I typically like to let her air dry in the morning when she is well rested and fed for at least 5 minutes. I find when she is cranky she doesn’t like to lay around without clothes on.
I’ve also started having her spend this time inside her activity play centre where the colours and hanging toys keep her preoccupied, allowing her to kick around sans nappies for an extra 5-10 minutes which works wonders.
If you have a newborn, chances are you have no time for a blow-out, but you can always use your blow-dryer on a cool, low setting to help expedite the drying process if there is no time for a diaper-free session.
Adding a barrier between the diaper and urine (or stool) until the irritation heals is something my doula recommended quite early on. We opted for EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). It’s natural and literally found in everyone’s kitchen pantry. I know some mother’s use zinc-oxide diaper cream or petroleum jelly and have had great success with those too.
I applied it during every diaper change during her flare-up but now only use it at nighttime or when I think she may be in her diaper a bit longer than usual (i.e. a long car ride or during travel).
Cornstarch powder. Baby powder is apparently a no-no these days as they have been proven to be harmful to baby’s skin and lungs, however cornstarch powder is still widely used amongst mother’s, myself included. I put a bit of this powder on the infected area (I also use it in her neck folds where moisture builds up from sweat, saliva and milk residue) 2-3 times a day. Pro Tip – always put cornstarch powder onto your own hands first and then apply on baby’s skin to avoid powder dust getting into the air and your baby’s lungs.
How you clean the area is extremely important. Always wipe gently and pat dry when tackling this area as rubbing can cause extra irritation. When Maxwell was a newborn, we found that putting her bottom under warm running water then using Huggies Natural Care Wipes was the best way to clean after a bowel movement.
Your baby’s diaper is one of the most important elements to this prevention equation. There has been so many advances in protection technology in disposable diapers that choosing Huggies Little Snugglers for Maxwell was a no brainer. They’re designed to feel like a hug and let your baby’s skin breathe, so it helps protect their delicate skin.
Paying attention to your baby’s patterns is one of the first things my midwives told me after giving birth and it applies to everything – even skin health. Take note of how and when your bub gets any skin irritation down there and if you find it continues or worsens, talk to your pediatrician or health care provider.
Becoming a mother means you will pretty much be wearing your heart on the outside of your body for the rest of your life. You will worry constantly about your child. You just can’t help it even if you tried. It’s an innate quality I think women have that is embedded in our DNA. It’s even worse when you are a first time mother desperately trying to learn the ropes of a new role that can be considered the toughest job on earth.
Maxwell has just turned five months and the learnings are endless. Just when you think you have mastered one thing and settled into a groove there is a sudden plot twist and you are back to square one. One of the most surprising discoveries came very early on just days after having Max. She had terrible nasal congestion that made it challenging for her to eat during her first week and putting her to lay down to sleep was nearly impossible. She screamed her head off, especially at night typically when anything gets worse. As new parents by the second night we were so panic stricken we rushed her to the emergency room. I remember the looks on the triage nurses faces as if to say, “We have another overreacting new mother over here thinking her newborn is dying” accompanied by an exaggerated eye roll. Seven hours later and we were told all was fine and that babies just have a lot of mucus post delivery because in the womb they are surrounded by fluid. Fast forward to today, we are still experiencing some nasal congestion to be quite honest and I think at this point it from a combination of a couple things. One, we live in a condo where air circulation and dryness can be much worse than inside a house. Two, the winter months don’t help either as the heating inside makes our place extremely dry. Plus, I am convinced that she is beginning the teething process, which can also create some congestion in the nasal passage.
After Maxwell’s three month check-up I began using HydraSense products to help with her moderate nasal congestion as recommended by her doctor. We love that it’s a 100% natural source with seawater with more than 70 marine trace elements. They are actually the #1 nasal saline solution brand here in Canada for children and contains no medications, additives or preservatives – making it the #1 choice for Canadian mamas. Combined with our Dyson humidifier that we have set up in our room not far from her bassinet, we have seen quite a significant difference with Max’s mucus levels.
At home we apply HydraSense’s Ultra Gentle Mist twice daily During her morning wipe down and again during her bedtime routine. The nighttime application is critical because she is generally more stuffier at night and the last thing I want is for her sleep to be interrupted because of a congested nose while we are sleep training her. The bottle may appear large and what you would expect for an adult product but the tip is ultra soft and specially designed for use in the nostrils of infants.
To administer the spray, I put her on her back and turn her head to one side and press down on the applicator for 1-2 seconds in the upper nostril. I repeat the process on the other side and generally wait about a minute or so as she sometimes sneezes everything out. If not, I then use a nasal aspirator to remove any mucus debris still obstructing the nasal passage. The HydraSense Nasal Aspirator Kit is perfect to use during those times where there is stubborn mucus that has hardened inside your baby’s nose. It was at the top of my packing list when I was preparing for our trip to Barcelona in December and I even keep a vial or two in the diaper bag in case I need to clean her nose on the go. It comes with hydraSense EasyDose vials and the nasal aspirator has a tube with a mouthpiece and a hygienic filter that allows you to gently suck out any mucus while also prohibiting it from passing through the inhalation tube. Prior to using the aspirator, it’s best to apply 1-2 drops from the EasyDose vial into each nostril (make sure to not re-use a vial after it’s been opened). Then insert the aspirator into entrance of the nose and inhale through the mouthpiece to gently remove the mucus as needed. Once finished, I gently lift her up to allow any remaining mucus to drain out on it’s own. The final step; soak a tissue or cotton ball with hydraSense and wipe around the nose. Max has gotten so accustomed to this routine that I can even sometimes get a giggle out of her when we are use the aspirator.
Check out hydrasense.ca for more information on hydraSense products. To make sure this product is suitable for your baby, always read the instructions and follow the label. If your child’s symptoms persist, please contact your healthcare provider.
This post was created in partnership with hydraSense for monetary compensation and/or product however all views and opinions are my own.
Children are considered to be a miracle and every day I count my blessings for giving birth to a healthy baby girl. That being said, there are so many Canadian families that are not as fortunate. Sometimes extenuating circumstances, like a newborn baby having to enter the NICU, can prevent a mama from giving her bub all the hugs they so desperately need when they first come out of the womb. This past summer, I watched a friend share her and her husband’s experience dealing with their son in the NICU. For weeks on end they commuted to the hospital a few times a day so she could breastfeed and they would go home at night. Repeating the cycle until their son was finally released. Six weeks later as I watched this all unfold on their IG accounts, the sound of my heart breaking was almost audible. I cannot even fathom the pain they felt. Pregnant during this time, I couldn’t imagine giving birth to Maxwell and not being able to have her at home with us during the first month. This made me wonder how NICU babies get the extra TLC in the form of hugs and cuddles at the hospital, when their parents aren’t there?
Not too long before I had Maxie, I discovered Huggies had created the No Baby Unhugged initiative which includes a volunteer hugging program that has been introduced into three Canadian hospitals over the past three years – Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, ON, Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney, NS and Victoria General Hospital in Victoria, BC. The program was started to help ensure that all babies get the hugs they desperately need – even when mom’s and dad’s can’t be there. Heart warming and very necessary, I am sure you will agree. As part of Huggies continued commitment to the No Baby Unhugged, the brand has recently announced their latest volunteer hugging program launch at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital in BC.
The newly launched program will have three dedicated volunteers available for eligible pediatrics infants and will be on hand to cuddle, rock and sing to newborns for extended periods of time. I kid you not, this has to be one of the best jobs in the world and I am patiently waiting for a local Toronto hospital to launch the program so I can get involved in some way. If this wasn’t enough already, Huggies has also come through with an additional $25k to help promote the importance of skin-to-skin and hugging by supplying the hospital with volunteer training, positioning devices, rocking chairs and more.
Want to get on board to help this amazing initiative? Simply pledge your support on nobabyunhugged.ca. By registering on the website, you’ll receive a free package Huggies Little Snugglers and Natural Care Wipes as a token of thanks and in return, they will also donate $5 to hugging programs in Canada. Let’s help spread awareness for this amazing program. Please check out this Facebook video from Huggies Canada. The brand will be donating $1 for every re-share.
This post was created in partnership with Huggies Canada for monetary compensation and/or product, however all views and opinions are my own.
Some of my favourite memories as a child are from my travels with my family. My mother had us on a plane traveling all over the world before the age of one. By the time I was 10, I had more stamps in my passport than someone three times my age. Being exposed to different cultures, food and language helped to make me the rounded individual I am today. I knew very early on, if I was lucky enough to have a child, I would do the same thing for them.
I’ve been an Aeroplan member since 2003. For years I had only been accumulating miles through booked airline travel and gas purchase. What a rookie mistake! When I was pregnant with Maxie I discovered there are endless opportunities to earn more miles to help get me one step closer to my goal – taking my family on our first vacation abroad. If you were following my pregnancy earlier on this year, you may remember my nursery tour which was brought to life by purchases from Aeroplan’s retail partners on their eStore.An online hub where you an shop from so many of your favourite retailers and earn miles on all your purchases. Believe it or not, I actually earned miles on all the big purchases and decor items for Maxie’s room. As an added bonus, we racked up extra miles over the last two years on groceries, date night dinners and just about everything in between using Réjean’s TD Aeroplan Visa Card.
The Destination – Barcelona, Spain
Choosing a destination for our first family trip was no easy feat. With wanderlust permeating through my veins ever since I had to stop traveling after 34 weeks pregnant, I was overwhelmed by the endless possibilities of destinations we had to choose from. A wise person once told me, “A vacation with a baby is not a vacation. It’s a change of scenery!” Hearing that deterred me from a beach vacay this time around, knowing that I wouldn’t able to spend countless hours on the beach in a half induced piña colada coma. I decided that this would be a great opportunity to visit a city in Europe neither one of us had traveled to before. While most new parents think about a potential language barrier, time changes and travel time being an issue; we made that the least of our worries. We only wanted to make sure our destination had a great ‘walk-score’ because we wanted to explore the area mostly by foot. After much deliberation, we finally decided on Barcelona, Spain. It’s a baby friendly European city known for their food, art, historical sites and shopping. The winter time, although mild, is considered low season for this tourist friendly city, so traveling during December meant we were able to avoid crowds and line-ups while sightseeing.
How We Traveled – Life As A New Family of Three
Traveling with a newborn for the first time is one of the most nerve wracking things I’ve ever experienced. I was stressed throughout the entire planning process but my anxiety reached a whole new level about a week from our departure. Questions like; “Will I be that person who has a baby that screams and cries during the flight?”. “Should we bring a car seat along?“. “Is our stroller going to be suitable for travel?“. “What about her diapers? Should we bring them along or purchase when we arrive?”. “Can we travel with pre-pumped breastmilk?” “Will the restaurants we want to go to be child and stroller friendly?”. I am telling you, the list of questions were endless and at one point I got so overwhelmed, I wanted to cry and cancel the whole thing. Thankfully, my circle of savvy traveling friends with kids got me to settle down and ensured me that everything would be alright. Our game plan was to travel as lean as possible. Pack only the essentials and anything else we felt we absolutely needed, we would just get it while we were there. I’m thinking about doing a separate post where I share what worked and didn’t in regards to traveling with Maxie, in hopes to give other new mums the confidence to board a plane early with their littles.
Our Barça Accommodations in Dreta D’Eixample
Without a doubt, we knew that the only way this trip was going to happen was if we stayed in an AirB&B. Having an apartment that gave us access to some of the things we have at home; laundry, kitchen etc just made me feel more comfortable. We were even able to query for properties that are “baby/child friendly”, and those properties were willing to provide a crib upon request. Plus, Euro hotel rooms are notoriously small and claustrophobic, so the AirB&B option gave us the space we needed. The challenging part was determine which area of the city to stay in. If we were traveling sans baby, I would have wanted to stay in the Gothic Quarter or El Borne but the amount of noise and foot traffic late at night was a slight concern. Consequently, we chose to stay in the Dreta d’Eixample (Right Extension) area, which was recommended by my dear friend Diala. The neighbourhood is home to Barcelona’s high end shopping streets, wide open plaza and footpaths, tons of Gaudi’s work and popular areas like Passieg de Gràcia, Casa Mila and Casa Calvet. We couldn’t have chosen a better hood to call home for the week. Personally, I would recommend the area to anyone and actually have to a couple friends and followers looking to travel there in the new year. Clean, trendy, easy access to taxis/public transportation plus close to amazing restaurants, galleries and some of the best shopping Barcelona has to offer – all within walking distance may I add. Here’s a sneak peek inside our humble abode on a quiet side street called Carrer de Diptacio in Dreta d’Eixample:
What To See & Do in Barcelona With a Baby (or Without)
I truly thought eight days in Barça would be more than enough, leaving us with a couple days off just to rest but turns out, we actually ran out of time and didn’t get to cross everything off our list. When I put a request out for Barcelona recommendations on my IG stories before we left, we received an outpour of messages of every nook and cranny we should explore. After day one we quickly realized that having Maxwell along with us was not going to cramp our style at all. There are babies EVERYWHERE in Barça. I’m pretty sure 1 in 3 adult pedestrians were pushing a stroller. And that’s not all. In North America, we have a tendency to say our lives revolve around our kids schedule but in Europe it is the other way around. They believe their lifestyle should not have to change just because you have children. So it is very typical to see parents with young babies dining at restaurants past 10pm, shopping on Passieg de Gràcia late on a weekday evening and hitting up art galleries and museums. We decided to follow suit and take Maxwell to the Gothic Quarter, La Rambla, Parc Montjucïc, countless museums, galleries, rests etc and she did a lot of her napping on the go. This easy going lifestyle meant that almost everywhere was stroller accessible and baby friendly, so we never felt like we were missing out on anything while we were there. However, there are a lot of stairs in this city for some reason at a couple of historic sites so if you’re traveling with a baby, you may want to think about bringing a baby carrier.
Gothic Quarter– You cannot go to Barça and miss this historic area so full of character. The narrow streets, the Barcelona Cathedral, tiny shops, cafes and museums, it is one of the most popular spots in the city. That being said, if you are looking to take photos, you better make sure you have an early start before the tourists all come flocking in around 9/10am.
La Boquiera Market – I was obsessed with this marche and went three times during our visit. Arguably the best market in the world with rows upon rows of controlled stalls selling everything from the tastiest meats, seafood, chocolates, candies, seasonings, fruit, veggies, fresh juices and the infamous jamón in a cone – all locally made.
La Ramblas – a 1.2km pedestrian street lined with restaurants, cafes and shops starting at Plaça de Catalunya and ending at Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell.
The Sagrada Familia – The largest Roman Catholic Church in the world designed by famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. If you decide go, make sure to book your tickets advance and show up on time as they are strict. Also, the rooftop views are spectacular and worth the extra $.
Parc Güell – an expansive park composed of gardens and architectural elements created and designed by Antoni Gaudi. Built between 1900 and 1914, the park was officially open to the public 26 years later. In 1984, it was declared a World Heritage Site under “Works of Antoni Gaudi”.
Parc Montjuïc – home to the 1992 Olympic Games in addition to museums, art galleries, Poble Espanyol (artisans’ village), and The ‘Magic Fountain’ that famously has a spectacular light show at night. You can get to Montjuïc by taxi, foot if your fit and adventurous, which Maxie and I attempted during a cab strike. Not easy as the hills are quite steep or by the cable car, our mode of transport on our second attempt to the top.
Passeig de Gràcia – One of the major avenues and known for the best shopping in Barcelona. Also, has some of Barcelona’s most celebrated pieces of architecture; such as Casa Baillo and Casa Milá (La Pedrera).
Where to Eat & Drink
7 Portes – arguably has the best paella in the city. Cool trivia, this spot opened back in 1836 and got its name from the seven doors that leads into the restaurant. Pablo Picasso also used to eat here in his day.
Firebug – Just on the outskirts of Eixample, we stumbled on this spot on our very last night and was not disappointed. A small space that serves large size tapas and sharing plates that are so delicious not matter how full you are, you will be hard pressed to order more. Plus the drinks are amazing, even the virgin cocktails.
Flax & Kale– perfect for lunch and brunch. The superfood bowl and cold pressed juices I would recommend but pancakes and pasta dishes are also fantastic.
El National – Ok, so this may be somewhat of a tourist spot and located just off Passieg de Gràcia but the set-up is pretty cool and something you should experience once. It appears to look like a flea market from the outside but once you’re through the doors you step inside a large gallery space that contains 4 bars and 4 restaurants comprising a very unique gastronomical Barcelona experience.
The W Hotel – Even if you’re not staying at this hotel during your time in the city, you MUST eat and drink in one of their restaurants. The property is located on the beach and the views are phenomenal.
EL Passatge del Mur Muri – One of the best squid paella’s I’ve ever had in my life. The restaurant doesn’t open until after 8pm for dinner but the hotel also has a cozy lobby bar with great drinks and you can also order the full dinner menu from there if 8pm is too late for your dinner start time.
With the new year just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about what destination you would like to check off your bucket list next. Whatever your travel plans are, with Aeroplan you can get there. Pro Tip #1: Think outside the box when it comes to earning your miles. As an Aeroplan member you can accumulate miles on hotel stays, car rentals, retail purchases, insurance, banking (credit cards), even online when you shop your favourite retailers like Sephora, Apple, Indigo, Hudson’s Bay, and so much more on the eStore. Need help devising a plan on how to make your travel dreams a reality? Tell Aeroplan what your plan is for your miles. Pro Tip #2: Tell Aeroplan what your plan is for your miles and they will help you get there. All you have to do is enter a few details pertaining to your goals here and you will be provided with a detailed plan.
I couldn’t think of a more better way to close out such a big year for us than this trip to Spain. I am so proud that we are exposing Maxwell to travel at such an early age and I do hope that she adopts our love of seeing the world. Thank you Aeroplan for being apart of this very special moment. I am already planning our next #TravelWithMaxie adventure. In the meantime, stay tuned for a forthcoming post with tips on how to travel stress free with your baby!
This post is sponsored by Aeroplan however all views and opinions are my own.
Whether you’re a first-time mom like me or a someone who has been blessed to be a mother more than once, I am sure you can all agree that EVERYONE thinks they are an expert when it comes to parenting. I have never in my life received more advice from friends and strangers alike until I gave birth to Maxwell. While some has been solicited, the majority has been unsolicited and I can’t say that it all works for us because let’s be honest, every baby is different. But as Maxwell and I near the end of what I like to call the “fourth trimester” I feel like I am slowly starting to get into my groove and things are feeling less chaotic. So many of you that follow me on social media have been super supportive and your “You’ve got this!” messages and comments really helped me on the days I wanted to throw in the towel. So, here’s the deal…I have taken some tips from my inner circle and have developed some of my own along the way during the last three months that has helped me navigate this new world of motherhood. Having a newborn by no means makes me an expert either but I wanted to share a few things that has worked so far with us and has kept both mama and baby happy and healthy.
Supplements for Newborns
Giving your bub supplements can significantly help ensure that they get what they need for healthy development. We have been giving Maxie a probiotic formulated for babies in addition to vitamin D3 drops since the day she was born. While probiotics are helpful to maintain balanced gut flora in your little one and to help with tummy troubles, vitamin D3 drops help their bodies absorb and use calcium plus phosphorus for strong bones and teeth.
At home we use PediaVit Vitamin D3 Drops for Maxwell and love it. It contains no sugar/sweeteners, corn, starch, gluten, wheat, yeast, artificial flavours or preservatives. PediaVit Vitamin D3 Drops also come in a gravity bottle specifically designed to release the appropriate dose of 400 IU (10 mcg) every single time, which is just one drop. This makes things super easy as there is no measuring. And as fussy as babies can be in regards to administering pretty much anything into their mouth that’s not breastmilk or formula, the drop can easily be taken during their feeding by placing it on your breast (or bottle) nipple and they don’t notice a thing!
Diaper Bag Prep Like A Boss
So here’s the thing, in the first of couple weeks I got so accustomed to just staying inside with my little squish, not having to worry about having to prepare for the outside world, that I felt extremely overwhelmed when it was time for us to leave the house. I have a few diaper bag options and of course had all the necessary items that I would need on the go however I just got so stressed out trying to leave the house. It takes so much longer to get two people ready. I worried that I may leave something important behind. But the absolute worst part was that by the time I thought I got all our things together so we could leave the house, she would want to eat again which would be followed by another diaper/clothing change. I kid you not, the first handful of times it took me over two hours to leave and once I got so fed up I just decided it wasn’t worth going anymore.
But now all is good and we can be out of the house in an hour or less which seemed impossible just a few weeks ago. For the expecting mom’s – here’s how you can make this process a bit more seamless:
Start Small. Instead of packing up for a whole day out on the town, try just going for a long walk or a trip to the local coffee shop. This requires much less for you to have on hand. Once you have nailed the short outings, then you will have the confidence for longer ones.
Pack The Night Before. This is a gamechanger and saved my life. It totally eliminates the stress of accidentally forgetting something important. I had actually left the house twice without extra diapers and a change of clothes earlier on and just take a guess who had a poo explosion. When you’re not rushed to be anywhere you can take your time which significantly lowers your stress level.
Keep Separate Bags From Your Partner. Sounds selfish but trust me, it’s worth it. I had to learn the hard way. Réjean would often take my bag and when it was time for me to use it, I would open it up to find that he had not replaced the diapers he used or worse, I would find a soiled diaper hidden in there from when he was out and didn’t have a place to dispose of it. Not cool!
Do Weekly Inventory Checks. Babies grow FAST. If you like to keep extra changes of clothes in the bag, make sure to take look at the onesies and pants in there. You would be surprised, not swapping out these items for just two weeks can leave you stranded with clothes that no longer fit if you’re out and need to change your kid.
Simplify Bottle Making On-The-Go. If you are exclusive formula feeding your bub or use it occasionally for supplemental feedings, find one of those pre-portioned formula containers so you can easily make bottles on the go.
Swaddle for Non-Swaddlers
Some babies love to be swaddled and some HATE it. There are so many benefits to swaddling your child, and I was very keen to find any way to promote sleep because this mama needed her sleep too. But Maxie hated it. There was something about her arms being held down that drove her nuts. Apparently she’s not the only one. So many babies prefer to sleep with their hands up that there are now swaddle/sleep sacks that allow you to swaddle your baby with their hands up in their favourite position making them more comfortable at night which promotes sleep.
Car Travel Without Meltdowns
It is not uncommon for babies to have a meltdown when they are put in the car. I have assumed it has to do with the car seat as babies generally love motion. I knew Max would have to go with me to work and I wanted her accustomed to the car seat as soon as possible. We are now at the point where she is either so relaxed she’s sleeping or cooing away in the back.
What I would do is put her in the car seat at home for short periods of time, even if we had no plans of going anywhere. Started with 5 minutes, then 10 and then worked our way up to 15 minutes without crying.
A fed and changed baby will be able to tolerate a car ride much better than a hungry one with a soiled diaper. Try to time your departure so that your baby has already been fed and changed before leaving. Also, important to note the way babies are positioned in car seats actually promotes bowel movements. It took me a bit to figure it out but she would have massive poo explosions by the time we reached our destination on several occasions. Having them in the car seat earlier before leaving and then taking them out to help get those bowels moving is also a great idea…so hopefully you both can avoid any diaper disasters while on the road
We never put Maxwell into the car if she is crying. The meltdown will only increase once she’s in there and feels restricted by the car seat. I like to put the car seat bucket into her stroller and walk her around the condo or push the stroller back and forth gently. That motion tends to settle her down and by the time we get her wheeled to the car, she is good to go!
During the car ride we play soothing music or no music at all and little accessories like a mirror over her car seat also helps to keep her entertained. What can I say, the kid loves to look at herself and can do so for hours.
The learning curve with a newborn is steep and each week there are learnings as we discover new tricks. Products like PediaVit take the guess work out of keeping our littles healthy and happy. To learn more about Vitamin D3 Drops and the rest of their supplement family head to PediaVit.ca Make sure this product is right for your baby. Always read and follow label instructions.
Stay tuned for more of my newborn and baby tips and tricks by following the hashtag #YouveGotThis
This post was sponsored by PediaVit but all opinions are my own!
My knowledge of babies and giving birth was definitely not where it needed to be when I found out I was having Maxwell. To be honest, I didn’t even know how many centimetres I had to be dilated to give birth until I was almost at the end of my pregnancy. A fact that I am not proud of. So you can only imagine how little I knew about what’s hot and trending in the baby world. Since becoming a mom, I have been relying heavily on friends and the other mom’s in the IG community to help put me on to all the things I needed to get me through the initial stages of motherhood.
For those first time mom’s and dazed & confused dad’s, “The BabyTime Show” is the perfect place for you to discover the amazing products out there for prenatal, babies and tiny tots all under one roof. Presented by Babies R’ Us, the show lands in Toronto on November 10-12th and will feature more than 200 exhibitors showcasing new and innovative products. My girl and ET Canada Host Cheryl Hickey will also be on hand as a guest speaker with other experts, the Healthy Mom’s Fall Marketplace will be set up focusing on eco-friendly products for those families that are into living a green lifestyle and a “Mommy and Me” pre/post natal yoga session, plus much more. And if you’re not expecting and have already gone through the newborn and baby phase, there is still tons for you too. Kids can meet their favourite Paw Patrol and Hachimal friends, sing and dance on the Toddler Time Stage with Bob the Builder and crawling babies can enter the Diaper Derby for a chance to win prizes.
Those attending the show will have different things they are interested in learning more about and I am certain some may discover something new for themselves or their little one that they didn’t even know existed. For me, the show will be about finding products and services that will help make my life easier as a very busy mom on-the-go.
We all have our own feeding preferences for our bubs and there is no right or wrong way. My decision has been to breast feed, even though I had great difficulties with it in the beginning. Continuing to work and still wanting to feed her breast milk means that I have had to acquire an adequate breast pump. Making that step was important so I can pump out a substantial amount of milk to help Max get by while I am away at meetings and shoots. I had a manual hand pump for light expressing early on to relieve myself of breast engorgement or to pump small amounts of milk but I have just upgraded to the new Sonata by Medela who just happens to be one of the show’s exhibitors. This double electric pump is smart, quiet and SUPER responsive. The personalization features is what had originally piqued my interest. The Sonata (now available in Canada) connects to the MyMedela app, so I can do real-time tracking of Maxwell’s growth, my pumping sessions and access to tons of evidence based lactation info all on my personalized pumping dashboard. Went a little crazy with the accessories but we figured – go big or go home.
Shop My Fave Medela Products Here
And if it wasn’t for shows like this, I would have never discovered other great products like Sleepbelt, a hands free skin-to-skin system. Maxie and I LOVE it and it’s made right here in Canada. It’s the perfect thing for the 4th trimester to help make your baby feel safe and secure outside the womb during those first few months. Not only does it create a comfy place for your bub to sleep skin-to-skin (0-3 months), but as they get older, the Sleepbelt can be used forward facing while the baby sits on your lap (when baby has full head/neck control) and as a gentle chair support (when baby can sit unassisted).
JOIN ME FOR “MOMMY and ME” YOGA ON SATURDAY NOVEMBER 11TH
Maxie and I will be attending our very first yoga class together on the second day of the show, which will be lead by Laura Wood, Founder of & She Moves Yoga Studio. She will be sharing the importance of exercise during pre, during and post baby and lead the group through a gentle flow with our littles. Class is scheduled to take place before the doors open to the public on Saturday November 11th. Space is extremely limited and open on a first come, first serve basis and we hope to see you guys there. *Class participation allows for free attendance to the show that day.
The BabyTime Show Presented By Babies R’ Us at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Bldg. 225 Front St
Dates & Times: November 10-12th, 2017 from 10AM – 6PM
Cost: Parents/Friends ($17) Grandparents ($10) Children Under 10 FREE
Bringing a new life into the world can be both exciting and terrifying for new parents. Even though you may have months to prepare for the arrival, the unknown and the what-if’s to come can be unnerving. As one might imagine, I spent most of my pregnancy researching and acquiring all the baby products I felt we needed for Maxwell in her first few months of life and quickly realized at the end of the summer that I may need a new vehicle to match my new lifestyle as an “Urban Mum”.
I have had my license for 20 years ( and you can stop trying to calculate my age right now!) and consider myself to be a great driver but let me tell you something, nothing scared me more than the thought of being behind the wheel of a car with a newborn baby. Most of my anxiety came from not trusting the other drivers out there. I literally became fixated on finding a car that came with as much safety technology as possible to protect us on the road. I also realized quite quickly that this new vehicle would have to be adequate in size to accommodate all the new (and mandatory) things I now needed every time I left the house. Not to mention, one with cool-air ventilated front seats to help me get me through the end of summer and fall because I’ve been a sweaty mess for months thanks to my hormones. And if I can be completely honest with you, I needed a car that also just looked pretty damn cool. The “Mum” title can immediately put you into a category of un-coolness, especially when it comes to vehicles. What I wanted was something sleek enough for my city events, roomy enough to handle long road trips plus all the extra crap that comes with having a baby, next level safety features and tech savvy to handle my work needs on-the-go because a traditional maternity leave doesn’t quite exist for me. That seems like a tall order I know, but the 2017 Buick Envision miraculously ticked all the boxes, making it the perfect addition to the family just before Maxwell’s arrival.
So many of you commented and private messaged me on social media about the Envision. Some of you surprised. Most of you intrigued. Just like the old adage, “you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover” the same can ring true about Buick’s latest fleet of vehicles. They are far from the Buick’s of the past but I know for many, it’s hard to call them a luxury brand since it occupies something of a middle ground between mainstream and high-end. Turns out, the Envision easily competes with other cross-overs in it’s class like the Lexus RX, Lincoln MKC, Audi Q5 and it’s natural rival the Acura RDX, providing more value for money in my personal opinion. Here’s what has me hooked on the 2017 Buick Envision during our first month with the vehicle so far – making it worth a look if you’re in the market for something new, safe and stylish as a new mom or mom-to-be.
Heavy on Safety and Tech Features
The Envision has more features than you could possibly imagine. I kid you not, even the base model at $35k has a rear camera, OnStar telematics, 4G WiFi hotspot, active noise cancellation, Apple Car Play/Android Auto, 4 USB jacks and an 8-inch LCD center stack, XM Satellite radio, just to name a few. With my newly acquired anxiety about vehicle and driving safety with my baby, it was a no brainer to go with the Premium II version, which comes in around $50K, that literally comes with every single alert and assist feature possible available on a vehicle in today’s market:
Forward Collision Alert (FCA) System to help avoid front-end crashes by alerting the driver with flashing alerts and a pulsing seat if you’re approaching a vehicle ahead too quickly.
Forward Automatic Braking designed to automatically engage the brake system if the car detects you may crash into a vehicle ahead of you.
Lane Keep Assist helps to avoid crashes due to unintentional lane shifting/departures and just like a guardian angel will assist by gently turning the steering wheel to keep you in your intended lane, if it detects your drifting towards another lane without using a turn signal in that direction.
Plus, surround vision cameras which gives you a 360 view around the vehicle and comes with the car’s Driver Confidence Package.
What has me hooked…
I will never stop singing my praises for wifi connectivity in Buick’s. I have raved about this feature many times driving media fleet vehicles from GM Canada but now that Maxie is here, I am able utilize our wifi access to play lullaby’s for the her via Spotify and YouTube. We’re currently obsessed with “Lullaby Renditions of Coldplay”. The front camera has come in pretty clutch too, and helping me navigate into tight parallel parking spots downtown that I would previously never attempt. Oh, and by simply pressing the blue On-Star button, I get access to a 24 hour operator who can do everything from suggest the best Italian restaurants within 10 kms, send turn by turn directions to the car if I am lost and even acts as emergency roadside assistance.
Size & Design
The SUV market has something for everything I believe in terms of size. For my current needs, I was looking for something compact but still roomy. I also preferred a more comfortable ride over sporty handling for obvious reasons. Nestled perfectly between the brand’s subcompact Encore and the larger three row Enclave is where I found the Envision. During my final weeks of pregnancy I was patting myself on the back for not choosing a full size SUV knowing I would have struggled climbing into the driver’s side. The Envision’s height made it easy for me to get in and out of the car, even a week past my due date. It also turned out to be the perfect height for my pup and little nephew to climb in on their own as well.
A compact crossover it may be but rear seat passengers will find the extra few inches desirable in the back as the rear bench slides back and reclines to allow more leg room; a feature we will no doubt enjoy on upcoming road trips. As for the trunk space…quite impressive for a compact crossover. More than adequate for our little family now with 27 cubic feet available, although I have only tested out the space with our Bugaboo stroller chassis. The trunk easily converts to 57 cubic feet when one of the rear seats is folded down into a 60/40 split. I am sure over the coming months I will have plenty of opportunities to test out the different space configurations. To ensure I have optimal storage space back there for larger items like the stroller, there is a hidden compartment underneath the floor of the trunk perfect for storing personal items. It’s actually also a brilliant way to hide any valuables in the car that you wouldn’t want seen and potentially stolen. When it comes to small(er) SUV’s, it’s not uncommon to find small sunroofs…one of my pet peeves. A panoramic moonroof extends into the car’s rear cabin making the interior bright and airy even with my dark leather appointed interior.
What has me hooked…
While warm days with sunlight streaming through the windows and moonroof is great for most passengers, it’s not always the most ideal for teeny tiny babies confined to their car seats in the back. However, the size of the Envision’s moonroof allows me to close the moonroof cover half way to provide shade for Maxi in the rear but to still allow ample sunlight in the front cabin. My hidden storage compartment in the trunk is one of the best things since sliced bread. I have used these compartments in recent weeks for extra diapers, wipes and drop sheets for Maxie instead of stuffing more than necessary into her diaper bag. I have even left clothes, extra shoes to change into if my feet start getting sore on the road and even my laptop between meetings.
More Bang For Your Buck
I know this all sounds amazing but the question on everyone’s mind is always the pricing; and rightfully so. The base model starts in and around $35k with freight while there is four other trim line’s (Preferred, Essence, Premium and Premium II) ranging from $36-50K. With the base model coming in so strong with all it’s features, it’s actually a better choice and more bang for your buck over the Preferred trim line which only offers a dozen or so additional minor features . But if music, enhanced safety, and heated (front and rear)/ventilated seats are your thing, then the top two tier trim lines would definitely be for you.
We no doubt have tons of adventures ahead in the Envision and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to start creating our first family moments and share them with you guys. For more information on the all new Envision or other vehicles within the Buick line-up head to Buick.ca.