Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser Is A Beacon of Light for New Moms

The first few weeks of motherhood is a haze. Everyone tells you “it’s hard work”, but in my opinion, it is more akin to walking through a fog. Between mourning the loss of my previous life and navigating a new body mutilated by child-birth, it’s no wonder post-partum depression gets the attention it deserves. My soul was in transition between the death and birth of a self. Like floating somewhere in the in-between, with no direction to go. So it may sound cliche when I say that Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser served as a beacon of light for this new mama, but do hear me out.

Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser is exactly what every mother needs and wants for those early post-partum days. This beautiful bedside bestie is a beacon of light for nursing moms. A soft yellow glow keeps feedings calm thus allowing baby to fall right back asleep once finished. The diffuser itself keeps mama grounded with scents that remind her this is where she’s meant to be. That everything is in place, as foreign as it may feel.

Before the Glow Diffuser, I was a groggy mess in the evenings. Night-time was the darkest. Getting up was a pain. I hated the disruption of my slumber. Casey was fussy, and I was always on edge. Since introducing Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser into my routine, my night-feedings have become much more enjoyable. The scents cut straight through the fog. Aroma therapy at its finest. And it’s as if Casey picked up on it, too! If babies can truly pick up on our emotions, then we could use a lot more zen, mamas.

The light doubles as a task light for times when Casey is sleeping in the bed-side bassinet but I am not quite ready to retire. They say sleep when baby sleeps, but sometimes what you really need is to reclaim a bit of your time. I can read a book in bed with the Glow Diffuser on my nightstand. I can also move it to my desk space on the other side of the bedroom and work. Sometimes my husband and I speak in hushed whispers about parenthood before drifting off to sleep. The light mimics romantic candlelight, perfect for relaxation and easing into bed. And if we happen to fall asleep before turning it off, then it’s no brighter than a nightlight and none of us would know any better.

Vitruvi hands down makes some of the prettiest diffusers on the market. They are elegant, timeless, and modern in that minimalist way. Their stone diffusers have taken over every influencer’s home, but for me, the Glow Diffuser is what fits in mine. It is tiny, which is perfect for our small space. It is light and portable, which is great for movement (whether that’s from room to room or for our travels). There are two possible settings: continuously running for 4 hours, or intermittently running for 8. Because of its size, it doesn’t take much water to fill the tank, and I am shocked that it lasts the full four hours run-time!

I like that the scent is strong enough to fill a corner of the room, without being over-powering. The confinement of scent is a good feature to have when there’s a baby sharing the space. I can enjoy the soothing benefits of Vitruvi’s amazing scents without overwhelming Casey’s developing senses.

Vitruvi boasts luscious oil blends, which have many benefits for mood. I would highly recommend Vitruvi’s Signature Kit. It features blended scents that encapsulates this time period in a mama’s life. Legacy blend reminds me who I was before and motivates me to reclaim parts of my previous self. Sleep blend nourishes me in the now and gets me to rest when I need to. Pacific blend gives me a taste of the outdoors when I’m stuck at home, making it easier to stay present. And Golden blend is a sneak peek of what’s to come – the beacon of light on the darkest of days.

Since being gifted the Glow Diffuser for Mother’s Day, I have felt the fog lift. The scents cut through the haze, providing me with some clarity as to my new role in his life. I’m starting to retain bits of myself while adapting to someone new. Every mama could use that. Because of this, Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser goes on my top 5 things every newborn mammy needs.

Vitruvi is a company elevating homes with their gorgeous diffusers and luscious scents. This post was sponsored by Vitruvi who kindly gifted us their Glow Diffuser and their Signature Kit of essential oils blends. The links in this post are affiliate links from which The Debtist may receive a small commission shall you decide to purchase Vitruvi products. As always, the thoughts and opinions are my own, as well as all creative content.

Memorializing Casey’s Story with Kept Collection

In a world where overwhelm is the social norm, it’s nice to discover a baby book reimagined. One that works well for a busy mama. Or a late-to-the-party mama. Or a mama who just doesn’t have the energy to sort through a million photos on her phone, organize them onto a page, and write little cute anecdotes for each pic. Kept Collection has created a baby book for the modern world. It is a book that will keep up with the business of life, go with the flow, and stand the tests of time.

Kept Collection got it incredibly right with their open-ended templates that hone in on what you care about remembering. This leads to individualization of each page. No books could ever be alike. The book is easy to complete, with prompts that help parents jot down ideas, memorable moments, and important events. The layout removes the added stress of trying to figure out WHAT exactly to put in a baby book. The templates give a guideline for keep-saking, without the added pressure.

Plus these books aren’t just for mamas! Dads, too, have a great time filling in these pages. Their added perspective or alternative view would be worth jotting down, as it may be completely different from mom! These would make great gifts for new grads as well. Personally, I would have loved to read what was going on inside my mom’s mind when I was growing up. I would love to know what moments she cherished, and which challenges were most difficult. If I received a book like this from my parents, it could have guided me on my own parenthood journey. It’s a book that has a place on a shelf in your child’s future home.

I honestly can’t say enough good things about this baby book. I am absolutely in love with it! And they are gorgeous. Kept Collection baby books are bound by beautiful linens in rich, earthy tones. The brand uses US-based materials that are high-quality, and the pages themselves are smyth-sewn. Holding this book in my hands feels all sorts of special. It is something worth cherishing.

This post was in collaboration with Kept Collection who kindly gifted us a book to try. As always this is my honest review. This book has earned its keep on our shelf. One day, I hope to gift it to Casey, so that he may know some of the finer moments we forget to recall.

Breastfeeding Essentials for Nursing Moms

Breastfeeding is its own kind of monster. I was more prepared for the birthing part than I was for the aftermath. That is, swollen boobs, plugged armpit nodes, spilled milk, sore nips, and a whole lot of tears. TMI? I spared you the more painful bits. Let’s just say I walked around the house like Quasimodo until I figured out how to relieve the pressure. Physically, emotionally and mentally. Every midnight melt-down I had was related to breastfeeding somehow. That being said, there are a number of sanity-saving, breastfeeding essentials that I can’t imagine surviving without. Previous mamas paved the way, as did my lactation consultant who is absolutely heaven sent. Here are a few necessary items that I suggest you get BEFORE the arrival of your newborn. Trust me, every item is an investment for your breastfeeding future – and your serenity.

Breastfeeding Essentials for Nursing Moms

+ A very good ALL-IN-ONE nursing and pumping bra. This bra from Kindred Bravely is a work horse. It is an absolute favorite of mine. I can pump on one side and nurse on the other. I can also pump on both sides and the bra holds my Spectra S2 pump parts in place while I read a book or scroll through Insta (guilty!). Without the bra, I would have to hold both pump parts in place. If you also use a Haakaa and hand-express or manually pump, this bra will ensure it stays in place even if the suction comes lose while breastfeeding on the opposite side. Anything that avoids uselessly spilled milk is a blessing in my book! (I also own Kindred Bravely’s French Terry Nursing Sleep Bra and it is the softest material ever! So COZY! I use it exclusively at night time.)

+ Silverette Nursing Cups. Another mama gifted me nursing cups from Silverette USA when she heard I was expecting. “Nothing else gave my boobs relief except these bad boys,” she wrote candidly in the card. Alas, I can attest that these silver dollars are a life-saver. It protects nips from chafing and provides relief during off hours. It holds the breastmilk intact in case of leaky boobs and protects nipple cream being wiped away by your cotton bra. Lastly, it covers nips completely from drafts and wind. Nothing is worse than cold air on sore, aching nipples. Since I use these, I haven’t yet had to use a single disposable nursing pad insert!

+ Lanolin Nipple Cream. I bought this even before I gave birth and I am so glad I did! This product is soothing. I apply it right after each feeding. Then I cover up with the Silverette cups which I hold in place with my Kindred Bravely bra. It’s an entire production!

+My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow. I have tried multiple nursing pillows but this one worked the best for me. I even tried the larger, deluxe version of this pillow but the original size fits my small frame best. It literally acts as a “workstation” for breast-feeding. The pillow prevents spilled milk and messes from getting on the couch, bed, or chair. The pocket can store bibs, baby bottles, and even my cell phone. On either side of the pillow are two bumps which support the baby’s head during feeding. It is comfortable for me to wear despite having a C-section, and the back support is absolute clutch! My husband also loves this boppy and wears it when he is bottle feeding Casey.

+ Mother’s Milk Tea. My best friend gifted me Mother’s Milk Tea when I was still expecting. I saved them until now. I drink one every day, which is supposed to help with milk production. In general, though, any tea that relaxes me also helps with breastfeeding. Nursing success highly depends on mom’s stress levels (hence why it’s important to invest in these essentials!). A cup of calm chamomile definitely does the trick!

+ Comfortable Robes. Look. During this time, I am nothing but a milk machine. It may sound dramatic, but I feel like I just set the baby down when he is already ready for another feeding. We feed every 1.5 to 3 hours, and some feedings take an hour. Soooooo, yes the math adds up. That being said, I have to be ever ready to feed and robes are just so much more comfortable than getting dressed. When we are at home all day, I will opt for a robe instead of a button down shirt. My favorite place to source robes are Coyuchi and Parachute Home.

+ Haakaa – The Haakaa is great for catching let-down. Which happens both while feeding baby on one side, or randomly after hearing baby’s cries. It also happens right after a warm shower! All that feel-good vibes really spikes the oxytocin, which promotes milk flow. I own two just so can catch let-down from both sides while I get ready after a good shower. These babies are so easy to use, too! Simply suction it onto the non-latched boob and it’ll ensure not a single drop of milk is wasted. Just be careful baby doesn’t pop it off with one mighty kick.

+ A Hassle-Free Night-Time Nursing PJ Set – I started out wearing my husband’s oversized T-Shirts as my C-section scar healed, but they immediately were ruined by the third day when my milk supply came in. So my mom brought me robes to wear all day long, but at night-time, I couldn’t hop into bed with a tangly robe! So I turned to button down tops that I had in stock. Flannels worked until it got too hot (I blame the hormones). As summer nears, a short-sleeve night-time nursing PJ set like the ones from Hatch are a must-have! These are my favorite!

Of course, there are other things that would be nice to have but we did not end up buying. A glider would be life-changing, but our tiny home cannot permit much more baby items, let alone a furniture piece. I’ve also considered reusable wool nursing pads. Two should do the trick, but I am making do with the nipple shields for now. And it seems like no matter how often we launder, there could never be too many bras. If you have any other must-haves, feel free to share with the community! Mamas helping mamas are my favorite thing.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

Questions Expecting Working Moms Should Be Asking Their Significant Other

I am currently reading the book Power Moms: How Executive Mothers Navigate Work and Life by Joann S. Lublin and it resonates with me really well. The book addresses the pervading dichotomy between mother and father societal expectations when it comes to parenting at home. I am comforted to see gender roles starting to blend more on the homefront, but this traditional “second-shift” still exists in many households and should not go unmentioned.

I, myself, delayed child-rearing after learning that the discrepancy between male and female salaries depend not on your gender, but rather, if you chose to have a child as a woman. A childless female makes comparable career moves up the social ladder but a mother does not. Because I took out a looming student loan, I knew when we married six months out of dental school that I did not want to impede my ability to make money and live my life. Now that we’ve set ourselves up financially and have financial freedom, I feel more ready and able to move forward.

Still, working moms need to have conversations with their significant others about expectations. If anything, as a courtesy to the other person. More importantly, as a team-effort to set both parents up for familial success. You may be surprised to learn that despite awareness around gender equality, the traditional roles are still discreetly embedded in everyday language and thereby everyday thinking. Even now, at a time when parenting roles are at their most equal, I got comments from people such as, “You’re not going to want to come back to work after becoming a mom”, “You’re leaving too early for your maternity leave” (I left 2.5 weeks before my due date), and one boss even cut my work a few weeks earlier than when I originally requested for my time off.

Not that I complained about any of it, because I’ve established financial independence from work either way. And I was quite looking forward to my maternity leave. But that’s kind of exactly my point. We should complain about it. Or at least bring it up with someone, somewhere. I would say, with significant others to start.

Look. You are a power mom. You work a career that you want to move up in. You have your own life, needs, and wants. You can make sacrifices, but in an equal manner. And let’s be totally clear. There is no TRUE equality when it comes to divvying up household responsibilities but at least have peace with what you end up doing. Having these conversations early allows time for adjustment. We started talking about stuff even before we became pregnant. Doing so provides a guideline for how to handle “problems” before they even happen. Both parents will be more prepared for rising challenges. The answers are by no means rigid, but its a starting place.

Questions Expecting Working Moms Should Ask

  • What roles is each parent responsible for at home? What chores do you like to do? What do you wish you didn’t have to do? Which ones can we divvy up evenly? For example, I love doing dishes, and Mike is great at cooking. His best quality in the kitchen is cutting and dicing, while I am particularly keen on stirring, frying, organizing ingredients and putting things away. He hates folding laundry, and I hate cat litter. He pulls the trashcan out every week, but I usually clean the bathroom stall. Find what you excel at, love to do, and try to volunteer for those first. As for the rest, find a way to share the task or get someone else to do it.
  • What is one way to organize family life? I bought a monthly calendar for our bedroom so we can keep track of appointments. You can also share a Google Drive which a friend of ours does, but I find that Mike never looks at it and then it’s just wasted effort. At least the monthly calendar in our room is in the hallway between the bed and the bathroom. Plenty of opportunity to pass it by both in the morning and at night. Another thing to consider is using to-doist or some other app to keep track of household chores that need to get done. As a team, make an effort to check off something from the list that could help lighten the load for the other person. A to-doist list could include making doctor appointments for the kids, picking up grocery items, or planning future events with the in-laws.
  • If the baby is sick, which one of us stays home? We have decided that it will be Mike as he can technically do his work remotely. He has actually been WFH since 2020. Because I see patients at the clinic, canceling my day of dentistry will affect way more people than him working from home. At the same time, we can call on grandparents to help support him while he works from home. As compromise, I promise to try to move patients around my schedule (perhaps skip lunch) so that I could have a shorter day and come home sooner to help him with our sick child. My office is also only 5 miles away, making it easy for me to jet home and help the family out. In comparison, his office is 28 miles away, which would make it more difficult if the roles were reversed.
  • Who cares about their career more? I think it’s fair to say that the person who cares about their career more should get first dibs on career moves. Mike LOVES his job. I like mine just fine, but I also dabble in other passions such as dog-sitting that I don’t think mine is as important to bend over backwards for. My career also has more flexibility in general, as I can pick up shifts at other offices, work at multiple offices as an associate or even open my own practice. When it comes to risking losing a job, I would give mine up in a heartbeat if it means Mike gets to keep his.
  • Who can have the most flexible schedule? The person with the more flexible schedule has more opportunity to help at home. It does not meet they have to bear the weight. But acknowledging the flexibility is a great starting point to setting boundaries or limitations to that flexibility.
  • Can we split time with baby at home? As someone who grew up with one stay-at-home parent and one always-away parent, I was very aware of the inequality of time allocation. My dad actually traveled a lot for work. He was gone a week at a time, meeting with clients in Asia. He also worked multiple jobs and did night and weekend shifts at Staples, Blockbuster, and Robinson’s May. It affected me a lot to always have one missing parent, so even when we got married, I told Mike that I prefer his jobs don’t take him away on travel. Growing up with that, I wanted to try my best to share our time with baby. Not only was it enough that I was home, but I want him to be home too. We are lucky in that we both have work flexibility. He plans to go into the office Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I plan to go into a dental office Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Both of us will be home on Sundays. That gives us 4 days to be at home every week. Not everyone has this flexibility, although there are plenty of ways to make it work. For example, I know of a couple wherein the dad works night shifts and mom works day shifts. They take turns spending time and raising their two kids, even if it means they hardly see each other. To them, that was a priority.
  • How much money do we actually have to make? Where can we cut? You may be surprised to learn that post-baby’s birth, you don’t have the same desires as you once did. Those late nights at the bar, loud concerts, and constant travel may be a chapter in your life that ends. It isn’t a bad thing. But realizing where you can cut can actually alleviate or remove financial stress, which is what many parents struggle with. Figure out the amount of money you really need, then establish a way to achieve that goal while reallocating the other work hours you used to spend doing new things at home.
  • What will we do for an emergency fund? This should definitely be a question answered, as there will be emergencies. Knowing where the money will come from (whether that be from a savings account, from family and friends, from stocks, or by selling off something you own) will make it more seamless when you need money right away for an emergency.
  • How often will we do finance check ins? In our family, we do weekly budgeting meetings since we got married. Making sure your finances are squared away will make the family unit run so much more smoothly. We use YNAB as our budgeting tool and it is easy, efficient, and accessible to both of us.
  • How often will we do mental health check-ins? Role equality check-ins? I think once a quarter, we will voice our resentments, difficulties, and hopes. We also plan to re-evaluate our roles. Are the tasks we are doing at home equal? Is someone slipping on their duties? Is it a matter of needing to re-assign tasks or hire a third-party to outsource a task in order to prioritize other things?
  • What are ways in which we can get increased support shall we need it? Call on the grandparents to take shifts on weekdays? Ask for grandparents to do babysitting on weekends so we can do errands or go on a date night? Hire an au pair if the grandparents aren’t working out or if it is too heavy of a burden on them and us? Hire a part-time nanny or sign them up for daycare or pre-school?
  • What are things that rejuvenate you and your partner? When I see my partner struggling, I know that he either needs sleep, space, or time to himself. Things that rejuvenate him are music, whiling away on the phone or computer, video games, or the TV. I am quite the opposite. Things that rejuvenate me include working out, taking a shower, getting some sunlight either by walking or swimming, writing/journaling, or reading a book. But like him, I also need that space or time to myself to feel human. That being said, you need to find space in the schedule for you-time. For example, we’ve talked about carving out a few hours a week before or after work for our own sanity.
  • How often shall we make time for us? The all-important question. It was you two before any of this started. Make sure it’s still you two when it ends.

A Word on Modern Dads Pulling Their Weight At Home

I must say, I swell with pride when I see amazing dads take to the homefront more. There are a lot of you out there, and I see you. In fact, as of 2016, 17% of men are stay-at-home dads. One of our best friends recently decided to be the stay-at-home dad while his career-driven wife does the bread-winning. We have another friend who works-from-home and brings their baby daughter on his wife’s conference trips, since she travels a lot and works directly under the VP of the company. Because the entire family travels with her on these trips, his wife is still able to breast feed their 6+ month baby during conference breaks. Another father in our neighborhood is home with his son every day and takes him out on walks a few times a day. I’ve seen him diligently care for their boy while his wife goes into work.

My own dad became a work-from-home dad in 2008, thereby allowing my mom (who gave up her job in the 90’s in order to raise three children) to go back to work again. Today my dad preps my mom’s lunches for the day, walks the dog, and does household errands on his down-time from work. And now that I am on my own parenting journey, my own husband has been able to secure WFH every Tuesday and Friday, thereby allowing me to work at a dental office on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. I am excited to know that our son will be raised with both of his parents at home equally. But none of this would have happened if we did not talk about our expectations first!

Photo by Rachel Moenning on Unsplash

Simple Things: Baby Gym

Of all the hand-me-downs I received, this eco-friendly, collapsible play gym is my favorite. I love the story behind this play gym. It was gifted to me by a high-school best-friend whose two boys have outgrown it. She packed it in her luggage on a recent visit home, along with a bag of clothes which the boys have also outgrown. To forgo luggage space whilst traveling by plane with two children is a sacrifice. Going beyond that to lug it to me meant the world.

When I thanked her profusely for making the effort, she brushed me off gracefully. She even demonstrated how to put it back together. It took her less than a minute to reassemble it in my living room. No tools required! When in folded position, it’s easy to carry by the top bar. The gym slides nicely in a crevice between the couch and the wall. A perfect tiny space solution for a tiny person like me!

One might notice one of the dangling toys feature a green ribbon. This is a result of her husband accidentally stepping on the gym and breaking the wooden ring from which the toy originally hung. Instead of chucking the gym set because of the accident, she resourcefully remedied it in her own, simple way. Mike and I also made an addition to the gym set. In the middle we hung Mike’s cousin’s hand-made macrame planter. (His cousin also made a macrame paci-holder for baby which I adore.) With this play gym, it’s easy to add and subtract hangings from the bar. The legs on either side unscrew from the rod, allowing you to slip in more dangling points of interest.

This beautiful gym looks amazing in any space. It is light, portable, and easy to disassemble. Despite the light weight, it’s sturdy too! And the wood material looks minimal but feels luxe. Since we want to teach our baby about human impact on the environment, we prefer toys and books made with wood, cardboard, or paper over plastic. Our closest friends and family know this of us. We also did not list any toys or books on our curated, minimalist baby registry, which limited the amount we received. Another of our friends gifted us these wood toys by Gathre, and this local toy shop contains other great options for new parents who wish to be mindful over their toy selection too.

I am not sure what brand this gym is, but similar ones can be found online under the brand Poppyseed. There’s this Black and Wood one at West Elm, and this all natural one at Baby List.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

Essential Finance Moves Parents Can Make For A Newborn Baby

Well, here’s the fun stuff about becoming parents. There are plenty of things you can do to set your kid up for financial success! YAY! This is the stuff that excites me to my bones. Of course, finance isn’t for everyone. That’s why I wanted to share a few actionable tips for people who love a set-it-and-forget-it type of financial life. By doing these few finance moves early on, you are making your family’s life a lot easier. Even before they can even babble, you can already do so much! Here is a list of finance moves we are going to make for our newborn in the first few months after birth.

Set Up your Baby for Financial Success with these easy finance moves

  1. Add baby as an authorized user to your credit card. You can do this once they are born, which allows them to start building credit. Of course, you want to make sure you yourself are paying back those credit cards every month. We don’t want you to ruin their credit scores by racking up a terrible history. But as long as you do, this is a sure-fire way to give them a good score! If you have trouble paying off your credit card debts, you can always try The Credit Pros. They will help identify the most damaging and most helpful credit items, as well as provide advice and educationalools.
  2. Start a 529 plan. You can open this through a brokerage account such as Fidelity or Vanguard. A 529 plan allows you to save up for educational expenses for your child. It is a tax-advantaged savings account. As long as money stays in the account, there are no taxes on earnings. As long as the money is used to pay for qualifying educational expenses, there are no federal taxes. And most of the time, there are no state taxes either! If your child doesn’t end up going needing educational expenses, you can rename the beneficiary to someone else. A grandchild, for example. Or you can transfer funds to an IRA.
  3. Add them to the HSA plan. Having a child is a qualifying life event that allows you to add them to your HSA plan mid-year. Make sure to claim them as a dependent under the person who owns the HSA plan.
  4. Claim child as a dependent with your employer.
  5. Take care of health insurance, life insurance, and disability insurance. Adding your newborn to existing insurance plans is a must!
  6. Create a budget category for your new family member. We budget every dollar, and now that we have an additional person, we need to financially account for them. We added a specific spending bucket for our baby’s additional monthly expenses. We’ve actually tried to not increase our spending by much even though we have a new family member. Check out the list of baby stuff we did not buy if you also want to limit spending. As for our budgeting tool, we have used YNAB for years and I recommend it to everyone. It is a tool that gave us the lifestyle we wanted. You can try it for free for 34 days using my referral link here. Personally, we find so much value in YNAB that we pay a yearly subscription.
  7. Add them to your living trust and will. I wrote our living trust on my own with Legal Zoom. By doing so, I saved thousands of dollars on lawyer fees. It was super easy to do on my own, too. All we had to pay for were notary fees. I talked a lot about the importance of living trusts in this post. The living trust is crucial in avoiding state interferences that usually occur prior to the will being carried out.
  8. Add child as beneficiary to accounts. Do this as a safety measure to the living trust and will.
  9. Take advantage of tax breaks. Did you know that there is the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit? It allows you to get 20-35% of tax credit for up to $3000 (one dependent) or $6000 (two or more qualifying dependents). The percent depends on your adjusted gross income. There is also the option of opening an FSA account with your employer and funding up to $5000 tax-free in an FSA account. This money can be used to pay for pre-K programs such as nursery school or pre-school. Higher income earners may benefit more from an FSA account than the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (you can’t use both!). However, FSA money must be spent within the same year. So use it or lose it! Plus, check to see if you qualify for the Child Tax Credit (CTC) which gives up to $2k per child, or the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  10. Sign them up for a frequent flyer account with an airline so they can accumulate miles for award flights simultaneously. Most of the time, we travel hack our trips so that we use points to book flights and hotels instead of our hard-earned dollars. We actually did this for our upcoming trip to Japan in October. We paid for our hotels 100% with points (that means we spent $0 for 11 days of stay in Japan!), and 50% of our flights using a credit card sign up bonus cash redemption with this credit card (this referral link of ours will give you an additional $200 cash back if you sign up by 6/7/23). You can read how we travel hacked our Japan trip in this post. But for the times such as this when we can’t cover the flights solely through credit card rewards, it is very important to collect the frequent flyer miles. I think it will be harder to travel hack for a family of three than it was when it was just us two. So I would love for them to earn the points so they can accrue enough to cover their future trips.

Of course, this probably isn’t everything, but it’s a good place to start when you don’t want to do much work. If there are other intricacies that I come across, I will try to let the community know. I would love to know any hacks you may have too, so do leave a comment below!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

Books I Read on Pregnancy and Parenting

I am a lover of information. A little bit too much information. During my pregnancy, I turned to many books, along with anecdotal stories from people I knew. Both gave me a good grasp on what to really expect when expecting – and that means the good, the false, and the ugly too. I didn’t shy away from any of it, even when others apologized for their candor. The brutal truth did me good and helped me to have a less painful experience. I had the privilege of being mentally prepared and that’s a BIG DEAL for any mother. Although I didn’t agree with 100% of the opinions, and found some ‘facts’ to be baseless, I collected a number of thoughts that allowed me to reach my own conclusions. So here I will pass on the books I read during this time. I’m not saying these are the best by far and there are so many more on the list that I will be sure to add. Take what you will.

Books I Read on Pregnancy and Parenting

  • Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting by Emily Oster. I found this book so much better than her other one (Expecting Better) which I also read. The latter is all about pregnancy but the former is what happens after. As a first-time father and facts-lover, Mike also enjoyed reading Cribsheet. I told him to skip Expecting Better because I was unimpressed and it really only relates to the mom.
  • Not Buying It: Stop OverSpending and Start Raising Happier, Healthier, More Successful Kids by Brett Graff. A great reminder of the true cost of raising kids. It gave me peace of mind, especially after all this talk about the average costs of raising a child. I got around to publishing a list of baby stuff we never bought, to give frugal parents in this space ideas on how to provide for a child without spending more money. I highly recommend this to parents who want to shy away from consumerism.
  • No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. I really liked the actionable tips in this book. I know sleep solutions are different for each child and we have yet to try this book’s recommendations but a lot of it overlaps with Cara’s Sleep Training course which is very popular these days. I think the more information you have under your belt, the more prepared you are. Whether it works or not is a totally different story and honestly, irrelevant. You do your best in parenting, and that’s about all there is to it.
  • Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month: 6th Ed. Literally a textbook. For the medical student in me, this was by far the most useful and my favorite resource.
  • Mama You Got This by Emma Bunton. Just a short, quick, easy read that was fun and light-hearted. I mean, it’s Baby Spice!
  • After Birth by Elisa Albert. A terribly dark book that is so raw and honest. I couldn’t help but whole-heartedly agree and at the same time, whole-heartedly shy away from some of these truths. Caution: Read when you’re in the right headspace. At the same time, perhaps you’ll find comfort in its honesty.

As always, feel free to share the books that you’ve enjoyed or found useful.

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