Back to Work After Baby

T-minus two days until I return to my full-time job, and I have mixed emotions. I absolutely LOVED being home with Baby Frugalista for nearly 6 months, but I’m also anxious to get back into the workforce. And since I have a condensed four-day workweek, I’m hoping our separation won’t be too hard on me. I really think the baby will be fine, since she’s so happy and wonderful with everyone she meets. Me, on the other hand… that’s a crapshoot.

I’m glad she’ll be in the care of someone we know, who will take care of her like she was her own. I’m going to be doing the drop-off in the morning, and Mr. Not-So-Frugal will be doing the pickup after work. My hours vary and so do my husband’s, so Baby Frugalista will be with the babysitter anywhere from 6 to 10 hours a day (10 hours will only be those Mondays that I go into work early).

I feel like a kid anxious about the first day of school. What should I wear? Will I remember everyone’s name? Will I remember how to use the computer program? Will I make mistakes? Will it be overkill to plaster my cubicle with pictures of my baby? Will I cry because I won’t see my sweet daughter’s face for 10 hours?

It’s only normal for me to feel this way, I know. And I find comfort in knowing that most moms these days are working mothers. But it doesn’t make it any easier!

Anyone have any tips for making the transition easier?

Tips for Staying Cool During a Heat Wave

We’re in the middle of a heat wave here in the Northeast. It’s been in the mid-90s for days now, and it’s going to top 100 degrees for the next three days, if the weather forecasters are to be believed. I know lots of folks deal with this hot weather for much of the year (Nevada and Arizona, I’m lookin’ at you), but that’s out in the fabled “dry heat” area of the country.

Come to New Jersey, and enjoy our famous high-humidity summers. July and August can make you feel like you’re in a sauna 24/7. For all the attitude we throw out at you, we’re total wusses when it comes to dealing with the heat.

Unless you don’t mind inside temperatures soaring into the 80s, scorching temperatures mean scorching electric bills. I don’t know anyone who refuses to put on their air conditioner once it regularly reaches the upper-80s around these parts (even a cheapskate like me). But there are a few things I do to stay cool and to keep from losing my mind when the electric bill comes in each month.

1. Keep the air conditioner on — but at a higher temperature. It doesn’t have to be set at 60 degrees all day and night. I find that I’m comfortable at night with the temperature set to 76 degrees (yes, you read that right). That’s because the air conditioner counteracts the humidity in the air, making it feel even cooler in the bedroom. The air conditioner in Baby Frugalista’s room is also at 76 degrees at night during these warmer summer months.

2. Close the blinds and curtains. Why let in all that unwanted heat? I draw the drapes and pull down the shades in my house most mornings in the summer to keep the sun from shining into our rooms. This works especially well if you have heavy and/or energy-efficient curtains that are better at keeping your home cool in the hotter months.

3. Skip hot meals. Don’t add to the heat by using the oven or the stovetop. Microwaves throw off less heat, but hot food makes you feel hotter. Stick with cold foods such as sandwiches, gazpacho, or fruit.

4. Go find some “free” air conditioning. Walk around a mall or a local big-box retailer and enjoy THEIR air conditioning while getting some exercise (just don’t spend a ton of money while you’re there, because you won’t be saving ANY money). Be sure to shut off your home A/C before heading out of the house!

5. Try a cool washcloth. Run cold water over a washcloth or soak it in a bowl of ice water. Put it on your forehead or on the back of your neck to temporarily bring down your body temperature.

Do you have any other tips for staying cool during a heat wave?

The Business of Being a Mom

Being a mom is a lot like running a business. There are bills to pay, budgets to adhere to, prep work, cleanup, managing employees (spouses, babysitters, even doctors). And the startup costs — yikes! Don’t get me started. At least you can buy items secondhand or get lucky enough to have gently used baby clothes handed down to you.

Just like running your own business, it’s hard work, but I love every minute of it.

Dealing With Clientele

Sometimes the client is overly demanding. If I can’t pick up Baby Frugalista in a specified amount of time (maybe I’m in the shower or washing dishes), she lets me know her displeasure, just like a customer waiting impatiently for a waitress to take her order. She may nod off on her own, or I might have to give her her pacifier (which Mr. NSF has dubbed a “bup-bup”) and rock her to sleep.

Baby Frugalista might want to eat 4 times a day, or she might want a bottle 8 times a day. I never know what I’m going to get. There’s definitely no monetary compensation involved and the hours are long, but in my book, a gummy grin is worth a million bucks.

Scheduling Feedings, Naps & Playtime

Staying home with a baby isn’t all fun and games. Well, now that Baby Frugalista is 5.5 months old, playtime is becoming more important. On any given day, the baby wakes up, and I change her and we play on her activity mat for a bit. Then it’s time for a bottle of yummy milk. I’m still sterilizing our filtered tap water for her bottles by boiling a full teakettle in the morning, which lasts all day.

As she gets older, Baby Frugalista’s naps and nap times continually change. She’s been taking 20-to-30-minute naps 3, 4 or 5 times a day for months now, with the occasional hour-long nap. If we nap together, she’ll sleep over an hour. Go figure! I need to get some things done around the house during her naps, so I can’t always sleep with her. Naps are usually in the morning, at noon, in the late afternoon and at dinnertime. There are many sessions of play and tummy time sprinkled in between. Feedings generally happen after naps. Now, with solids in the mix, that’s two more feedings that need to be scheduled.

Managing Employees

Not only do we have to deal with babysitters and daycare providers, many of us have to deal with our significant others. Training Mr. NSF to help take care of the baby has been an adventure, to say the least. But he’s now a pro at changing dirty diapers, giving bottles and changing her clothes. We’re still working on his “soothing” techniques, though!

Leaving the baby in the care of someone else involves lots of details. The babysitter needs to know what she eats/drinks and how often, her napping and sleeping patterns (okay, “patterns” might be the wrong word at this point). She’ll also learn our baby’s quirks and cues, hopefully much faster than Daddy and I did.

Preparing for a New Day of ‘Baby Business’

The end of the day is when I clean up and prepare for the next day.Some of the things I do after the baby is asleep for the night:

  • Clean up after bathtime.This involves scrubbing the the baby tub and the big tub, putting away the rubber duckies, removing the pillow I use when I kneel next to the tub (a lifesaver!), and rinsing out washcloths.
  • Put the baby’s laundry (clothes, towels, bibs, burp cloths, washcloths) in the hamper or do a load (or three).
  • Wash and sterilize the bottles, rubber-tipped spoons, dishes and bowls. Scour and bleach out the countertops.
  • Make sure there are enough supplies for the next day or two. This involves refilling the diaper stacker and wipes containers as necessary, and getting a new tube of diaper cream if the current one is about empty.

Oh yeah — I still have to do the usual chores to keep our house looking its best. Which, right now, means presentable and as clean as possible. I’m sure I’ll be forgiven if I don’t wash the baseboards every week anymore!

Defining Success

Despite all the hard work that goes into the business of being a mom, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m hopeful that Baby Frugalista grows up knowing how much Mommy and Daddy love her, and turns out to be a happy, well-adjusted child. That will be success enough.