Introducing The Mommy Camp

So many times when I talked about how BabyNav came to be I would tell the story of working in Corporate America and creating a gantt chart to ensure I was ready for the arrival of my first baby. Once I did that I found so much solace in being prepared and organized and in the meantime I became obsessed with baby gear. I started creating gantt charts for women who were pregnant that I worked with along with my friends and BabyNav was born.

While I worked on building BabyNav and supporting expecting families I was also caring for my three beautiful kids. For a variety of reasons my kids don’t go to any camps for the summer so for the last seven summers I have run mommy camp at my home. I approached creating mommy camp for them the same way I approached that first gantt chart. My kids love their summers and look forward to our theme weeks. My secret is that while my kids are happy and active and learning I am able to work from home thanks to the simple process and schedule I created.

Since Covid-19 started we (obviously) haven’t been in anyone’s homes to set up their nurseries and haven’t been personal shopping in person with anyone.  In early May I started hearing from so many friends and people around me how they were stressed about the summer and worried their kids would be on screens non-stop. It was then I realized that I should again share my processes and help parents prepare for the summer and The Mommy Camp was born.

The Mommy Camp is simple routines, smart supplies and engaging themes to help parents execute camp at home for kids aged 2-12!  Over the years we have tried countless crafts, activities and recipes and know which ones work and which ones are more work cleaning up than they are worth doing. I know which summer activities keep kids entertained and engaged and I know which ones to avoid. I know which craft supplies and products will survive the summer heat and lots of use. I know which ones will excite your three year old and which ones won’t bore your 12 year old. You don’t have to break the bank filling up your yard with activities and you don’t have to spend your nights scrolling through Pinterest only to find you don’t have all the supplies you need at home. And the best part is that getting all this info from The Mommy Camp is FREE!

Since we launched in June the best part has been to receive emails from BabyNav clients who we helped to build their registry and now they are following our theme week calendars for The Mommy Camp!

Head to www.themommycamp.com to subscribe and each Sunday I will send your weekly theme calendar for a week of memory making.

xo, Julie

10 Trusted Resources for Expecting Parents During Quarantine

Expecting parents are always inundated with information but right now it is harder than ever to know who to trust. Below please find a list of trusted online resources and sources of expert information:

  • Sources for coronavirus related information for pregnancy:
  • Twiniversity (THE resource if you are expecting multiples and you can now take their classes online.)
  • Pregnant Chicken (Great info on all things pregnancy and baby gear related with a good sense of humor which we could all use right now.)
  • Birth Day Presence (This NYC based provider of prenatal classes is now offering live online classes including childbirth education, newborn care and infant CPR.)
  • Evidence Based Birth (A site created by a nurse who wanted to share the most current, evidence-based information on pregnancy and childbirth. She has added a comprehensive resource page dedicated to Covid-19.)
  • LYNZY & CO (Make sure you follow her on Instagram. She’s a working Physician’s Assistant in an ER, she’s currently expecting her 4th child, she has openly shared her family’s experience with Covid-19 and she shares good fact based info on pregnancy.)
  • Obe Fitness (If you are looking for online prenatal fitness classes look no further. The app offers on-demand fitness classes you can stream and there is an entire section of strength, yoga and cardio prenatal classes.)
  • Ask an Expert (Use this feature to access our swift, unbiased, expert  information on any baby gear or registry questions.)

xo, Julie

FREE Registry or Gear Consultations During Quarantine

My goal with the services we provide at BabyNav has always been to remove as much stress as possible for expecting parents so they can focus on a happy and healthy pregnancy. I can not imagine a time where this could be more important than right now!

This time of year is typically the busiest time of the year for registry creations, baby shower preparations and buying up lots of baby gear. With our country on quarantine it’s impossible for expecting parents to test drive strollers, head to a baby store to feel how a car seat feels on their arm or try on a baby carrier. It is also impossible for expecting parents to head to the store with friends and family members to get advice on what to add to their registry.

Most expecting parents right now are primarily concerned about protecting their health, the health of their baby and what is going to happen when they head to the hospital/birthing center when they go into labor. Expecting parents shouldn’t have any of the added stress right now of picking out the right bottles or if organic onesies are necessary. We want to support as many of those expecting parents as possible which is why we are going to make our registry and gear services free until May 15th, 2020.

What does that mean exactly? For each expecting parent that reaches out to us we will provide a free  1-hour virtual session for registry or gear consulting (no strings attached at all). If your registry is already started or completed we will review it and let you know what you might be missing or what items you simply don’t need. If you haven’t started your registry we can spend our time reviewing the big ticket items and what works best for your family. You can bring a list of questions on categories or specific brands and we will discuss what works best for your growing family. As an added bonus at the end of every call I will send each expecting parent a list of must-have and nursery stocking items to ensure you have time to shop for everything you need in advance of baby’s arrival.

To set up a virtual consultation simply send an email to info@babynavbabyplanners.com with the subject “FREE consultation” and we will get our time together set up.

Hope you and your families are all safe and healthy! Looking forward to lots of Zoom calls with expecting families! xo, Julie

Must Have Registry List (Free Printable)

Choosing the gear that you will add to your baby registry can be a fun and exciting process but realizing the amount of baby gear available can become quickly overwhelming. This checklist will make sure that you have all the essentials that you need without all the other stuff you don’t. Take this list with you to the store you have chosen to register and pick the items in these categories that fit your personal preference, budget, lifestyle and home design. Look for products that are JPMA certified so you guarantee you are getting the safest products available for your baby!

(Right click on the below image and hit “save image as” to save to your computer and print for your personal use.) 

xo, Julie

Expecting Parent Checklist (Free Printable)

Congratulations! This is a very exciting time in your life but we also know it can get a little (okay a LOT) overwhelming. In the months ahead you may start to feel like there is a never ending list of decisions to make and things to do. Please print and use the below check-list as a guide of “things to do” as you navigate through your pregnancy journey.  We hope that by consolidating this list it will allow you to plan, prepare and take some of the stress out of one of the most precious times in your life!

(Right click on the below image and hit “save image as” to save to your computer and print for your personal use.) 

xo, Julie

6 Tips for a Happy Road Trip with Baby

1. Make sure to pack lots of extra items in the diaper bag and keep it in an easy place to access. Try to keep a portion of the back seat or the back of your van or SUV clear for diaper changes that need to happen when you can’t get to a clean changing table. The Vianetic diaper bag has a built in change pad so you know you have a clean place to easily change baby no matter where you are on the road.

2. Make sure to keep safety your first priority by keeping your little one properly secured into their car seat at all times. To avoid your baby getting overly cranky, build extra time into your trip for stops to get out of the car seat and stretch their little legs. Check out Map of Play, which will allow you to search for local parks and playgrounds near where you are. When you head out on your road trip make sure you dress baby in soft, breathable clothes to ensure they don’t get overheated or uncomfortable.
3. Snacks, snacks and more snacks. If your baby has started to eat solids pack plenty of snacks to fight of any “hangry” tantrums.  Snacks also means bringing lots of wipes and small garbage bags so you can keep your kids and your car somewhat clean on the road. Try this snack container from Ubbi to avoid messes.
4. Make sure you never become a distracted driver on your road trip. Start by packing all your items like snacks and water within arm’s reach. Make sure you have a hands-free device for your phone ready to go before you hit the road. Despite what you may think, avoid using rear view baby mirrors. These mirrors seem like a good idea but every second you are staring at your baby in that mirror means you aren’t looking at the road ahead.

5. If your time on the road interferes with nap time bring items to comfort your baby and help them sleep on the road and keep their schedule. The Marpac Hushh White Sound Machine is portable and offers three sound options to choose from. You can use this to help baby sleep at your destination and while you are on the road.

6. Wipes, wipes and more wipes. On the road wipes will be used for diaper changes, cleaning up after snacks and meals, cleaning your car, wiping messy faces and cleaning up just about any spill that comes so pack lots. Water Wipes are made with 99.9% water so you can feel good about using tons of these.

Happy Travels! xo, Julie

Tuesday Introduction: Devi Ma Yoga

When I first met Kelly and heard her story and inspiration behind Devi Ma I was so intrigued. Devi Ma Yoga is so much more than yoga classes and Kelly brings so much experience and wisdom to each of the classes she teaches. I love the approach and flexibility that expecting and new parents can find at Devi Ma Yoga. Read on to hear more about Kelly’s story and what you will find at Devi Ma.

How long ago did you start Devi Ma Yoga and what inspired you?

Devi Ma Yoga opened in November 2018. It was another step on an amazing journey that began back in 2005 when I first started teaching prenatal yoga and Yoga for Labor and Delivery workshops.

However, I was originally inspired toward this work in the 1990s, as a result of my own experiences during pregnancy while living on the reservation in South Dakota. It was here that I glimpsed the powerful spirituality and traditions of pregnancy and birth which is deeply revered by First Nations people, yet starkly juxtaposed to the lack of services and modern realities of reservation life.

When I began teaching Yoga for Labor and Delivery, I realized just how important it is for women and their partners to know much more about birth, how the body and mind adjusts, options, questions to ask and what to expect. I also realized that a good number of women were not fully receiving this information and feeling “not heard”, dissatisfied with their birth experience, and generally disempowered by the system. I observed many women seeking a more meaningful, informed and even spiritual experience in welcoming their baby. This is when I made it one of my goals to offer classes that not only addressed the physical aspects of birth, but also the profound emotional, mental and spiritual aspects that are often overlooked. In 2006, I was nudged forward in this work yet again as I supported my sister’s birth and caught my niece upon her entry into the world. Since this time, I have supported over 70 births. Most recently, I supported the birth of my daughter-in-law and son, welcoming a new grandson Earth-side. In all of these births, I am always deeply struck by the awesome, innate power of women.

When considering names for my studio I was searching for something that captured this innate and powerful energy. Devi Ma seemed like the perfect name. It is a Sanskrit term meaning “goddess mother” and it represents the inherent abundance, power and creative force of the feminine… at all stages of life.

What types of classes do you offer?

I offer yoga classes that include prenatal and mom & baby yoga. I also offer Yin Goddess yoga which focuses on the deep transformations of peri-meno, menopause and beyond. In addition, a “regular” yoga class called Hatha Elements is on the schedule. This is a traditional yoga and meditation practice for both women and men of all ages. Fertility yoga classes will be on the schedule soon, but privates are available now.

I provide a comprehensive childbirth education series (3 classes) that guide parents-to-be through the last weeks of pregnancy, the entire birth process, and the realities of the first six weeks with baby. One of the unique aspects of my childbirth education series is that you get to choose when you take the classes, how many classes you take, and the order in which you attend. The website has a full description of the classes and my approach/philosophy on birth at: yogadevi.mom

My studio also offers workshops, guest speakers, doula services and doula training as well as yoga teacher trainings at both the basic and graduate levels. The yoga trainings I offer are: 200 hour Basic Yoga Teacher Training, Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training, Yin Yoga Teacher Training, and continuing education workshops for yoga teachers, including a course I developed in 2009 called Adapting Asana for Prenatal Yoga Students.

How are your classes unique to the classes at my local hospital or gym yoga classes? Where do your classes take place?

Classes at Devi Ma encompass a traditional yoga practice that goes beyond just the practice of physical yoga poses. In addition to movement, we practice yogic breath, meditation and relaxation techniques that serve as effective tools for birth and beyond. We sing to babies, work on subtle body alignment (chakras), address pelvic floor integrity, changes in breast tissue, discuss tips and resources, and find time to just chat. Classes are designed to nurture the “whole woman” by addressing the profound physical, emotional, mental and spiritual transformations of pregnancy and motherhood. As a seasoned doula, childbirth educator and prenatal/postnatal yoga teacher, I combine all of my skill bases for a more comprehensive and informative class. Beyond the average yoga class, my goal is to guide women in how to trust their body, release trepidation surrounding birth and breastfeeding, and reconnect with their internal wisdom. In this way they can navigate the rapid shifts of pregnancy and motherhood with greater understanding, ease and calm.

What does your daily schedule look like? How do you divide your time and priorities between your kids, your husband, your home and your business?

Most of my classes are held in the mornings, evenings, or weekends. But, when I am on-call as a doula, I never know when (or how long) I will be at a birth. In this way, my schedule is sometimes a moving target. In between classes, I prepare lesson plans, update and write training curriculums, mentor new doulas and yoga teachers, and run a business.

My children are now grown. But, I am mom to a very gregarious and talkative parrot. As any bird parent will tell you, caring for a parrot is very similar to having a small child in terms of the care, daily routine and attention they require. So this is actually the anchor that keeps me centered in maintaining a routine that also includes time for myself and my husband every week.

Is there one piece of baby gear that you tell a new mom she needs to have for breastfeeding?

The Haakaa breast milk collector is great for catching milk that leaks from the opposite breast as you are nursing baby. My daughter-in-law used one and said it best: “This was a lifesaver the first three months, and I built up a good stash just doing this.”

Thanks Kelly!

xo, Julie

Tuesday Introduction: JennV Photography

This Tuesday Introduction is a little different because I have been lucky enough to know Jenn for something like 15 years.  I have long admired her work at JennV Photography and think the photos she takes can become real treasures for families. Jenn is super talented and her work stands out amongst the crowded market of photographers by celebrating the everyday lives of families. She has one of those personalities that just makes you feel comfortable and at ease from the moment you meet her which is a must have when you are inviting someone into your home! 

How long ago did you start JennV Photography and what inspired you?

I started my business 9 years ago. It feels like a lifetime ago and what inspired me then and now are very different. Originally I loved capturing the details of my first born and the magic of everything that was new at the time. I wanted to share that magic with clients and their children. But in a pretty, perfectly posed way. Now I am a documentary family photographer and am inspired to capture moments that show real parents and the genuine love they have for their kids through their every day actions (even in the hard moments!) – whether that’s making pancakes, calming them after a tantrum, or heading to the zoo for a family outing. Parents work SO hard on the daily, and it’s so easy to dismiss it or not even think about it at all because we’re all so busy. I photograph it and celebrate it.

How is your photography different than other photographers?

Plainly put, I capture my clients’ legacy and their real, unposed and unfiltered memories forever. In 30 years their kids will look through an album that shows what a day in their life was like way back when. It’s the most beautiful story they’ll own. It’ll show the real chaos of life with kids, the calmness after Mom kissed their boo boo, and the love that shines through everything their parents did for them when they were young.

What is a tip you can give to a family to get ready for a day of having their photos taken?

Don’t stress! I know it’s cliche and overused but it’s true! Nothing about the day matters except your family being yourself. Even if it’s with a posed portrait photographer. Let your kids get a little wild, let them get away with stuff you ordinarily wouldn’t – you’ll be happy you did when the session is filled with laughter vs. the tension of expecting your kids to sit and smile stiffly for a stranger.

What does your daily schedule look like? How do you divide your time and priorities between your kids, your husband, your home and your business?

Ha! It’s all over the place! I have three kids, the youngest of which is still in preschool so that makes my days a bit choppy. But every morning I am up at 5am and I get two solid hours of work done (and drink allll the coffee!). If I don’t have that consistency and time to myself before my kids wake up I get kind of…grumpy. I also have one full day a week to work without interruption so that helps. I do think the whole work-life balance thing is an illusion though. No woman has it all together and completely figured out. We’re all just swimming along trying to stay afloat, and beating ourselves up when one of the balls we’re juggling while swimming drops. I like to focus on a couple of things that I can do well in a week. Outsource stuff if I can and then choose to let the rest go.

Is there one piece of baby gear that you would tell a new mom she needs to have?

I LOVE a good backpack diaper bag. It was the easiest thing to grab and go when may baby was a baby – and with my third we were always on the go! I recently saw the Birch Bag from Parker Baby on a friend and fell in love. It’s so cute, functional (pockets!), and gets major bonus points for not being feminine- which means Dad’s love it too!

Life with a new baby can seem to move by so quickly so I absolutely love the idea of a documentary family photographer like Jenn coming to capture those early days filled with feedings, diaper changes and sweet baby yawns. To see more of Jenn’s beautiful portfolio and book your documentary day with her head to http://jennvphotography.com or find her on Instagram

xo, Julie

Tuesday Introduction: The Parent Collective

In the last ten years we have learned about a lot of childbirth classes and new parent classes and mom groups but none of them as smart and useful for new families as The Parent Collective!  Jessica Hill co-founded this resource for parents after her own positive experiences in the U.K. We were lucky enough to get a little time with Jessica to learn more about the classes and the community that The Parent Collective offers expecting families.

How long ago did you start The Parent Collective and what inspired you?

I decided to start TPC back in 2016 after hearing from countless friends that they spent their early months and years with their baby feeling lonely and isolated.  Because I was lucky enough to have my boys in the UK and benefit from the NCT, my experience was wildly different, and I wanted to give a similar feeling of support through education to others.  Quite simply – I don’t know how I would have gotten through the early months of my first baby without my village of NCT moms who got me out of the house, listened to me vent when I was struggling, swap strategies for dealing with the latest feeding/sleeping/illness issues that crop up, and filled countless afternoons with conversation and companionship.  Everyone needs that support and I hope that TPC will fill this need.

What types of classes do you offer?

We offer a prenatal class series for expectant parents and after babies arrive, we offer CPR & First Aid classes, postpartum support groups as well as a wide range of workshops and online content developed in response to participant questions.

Our prenatal class, which is our core offering, is a 4-week series and in it, participants will discuss:

Session 1: What to expect in labor and delivery

Session 2: Relaxation techniques to help you through the early stages of labor, options for pain management and C-sections

Session 3: Breastfeeding and bottle-feeding information and advice, including latching on, pumping, milk storage, getting on a feeding schedule, and how to manage problems that may arise

Session 4: Newborn care

How are your classes unique to the classes at my local hospital?

The Parent Collective offers a new style of prenatal class which is designed to provide evidence-based information, foster open, judgment-free discussion and establish friendships among couples living in close proximity and due at the same time. We see ourselves as an alternative to other childbirth education classes and hope that couples taking the series will develop a social network through participation, gather playmates for the little ones on the way and of course, provide that crucial support system that parents so need.

The idea for these classes arose from my experience with having my boys in the UK where they have a prenatal class series called the NCT, or National Childbirth Trust. With these classes, couples register for a series of sessions with a group of couples who are all delivering around the same time and live local to one another. The idea being that along with learning what you need to about labor and caring for your newborn, you are also fostering a support network that will be invaluable to you during this next chapter in your lives.

I am always banging on about how important it is to have friends with babies the same age as yours.  I absolutely realize that it is hard to make friends as adults but with pregnancy as the common thread, it can sometimes be easier.  Mom and dad friends at every stage of the parenthood journey are super helpful, but friends who have kids the same age as yours are essential. No one can fully appreciate the daily trials of a newborn like your friend who is also navigating life with a newborn. From spilling preciously pumped milk to dealing with an explosive poo in-transit (which of course only manifests once you have run out of wipes). When you are in it, these feel like total disasters.  However, these stories will not elicit a visceral “gasp!” from a new parent, but rather a breath of relief as you realize another real person has experienced something similar—like, yesterday.

Parents need this camaraderie so you can enjoy/survive the early days (and hopefully beyond) together. Our classes allow parents to solidify these relationships before babies arrive, so you don’t have to work so hard once they do.  You can already be texting from the hospital about the terrible food and a love you never thought possible.

Where do your classes take place?

We currently host regular classes in Fairfield County, CT, Manhattan, Long Island, NY, Bergen County, NJ and we will very soon be launching in Westchester, NY.

Also, TPC will soon be launching our prenatal series as a webinar.  Watch this space!!

What does your daily schedule look like? How do you divide your time and priorities between your kids, your husband, your home and your business?

My boys are 8 & 10 so I am out of the very busy phase of parenting.  That said, when they get home from school, they still like me enough to want to play with me so I try to work while they are at school and then leave some afternoon time for a basketball game or the standard schlepping from activity to activity.  The juggling act of managing work and home life requires so much mental headspace that I am like a robot in the evening.  I have to power down and I sleep 8 or 9 hours most nights.

Is there one piece of baby gear that you tell a new mom she needs to have?

I would say any baby-wearing apparatus that allows you to move a bit more freely with the bubs in tow.  My youngest was colicky and screamed when he wasn’t being held so I couldn’t do much of anything because I was carrying him everywhere.  Once I figured out the baby wearing thing, it made my life so much easier!!

Thanks Jessica! You can learn more about the classes offered at The Parent Collective here or follow along with them on Instagram.

xo, Julie

One Nursery Closet Three Ways

Having an organized nursery where you can see everything, access everything you need without digging and are able to quickly grab exactly what you need can make a really big difference in your day taking care of baby. Unfortunately, custom closets can be really expensive and not always an option when you are already in investing in all new baby gear and not every space and not every nursery closet is created the same.

Thankfully we discovered a closet system that gives you the feeling of a custom closet but at a much more affordable price. We recently installed a nursery closet using a super versatile (and easy to install) system by Modular Closets.  With Modular Closets you can choose from one of their pre-designed closets based on your closet dimensions or choose from their closet sections to build the closet of your dreams. Once we picked the pieces that would work best for our nursery we utilized their free design services and ended up with the nursery closet that worked perfect in our space!

We loved the end result so much we decided to stock it and style it three ways to show you just how versatile it can be in any nursery space. We chose to go with three hanging sections, a cubby section, three shelves and 4 drawers to ensure we could fit everything we needed for this nursery now and still have room for gifts that would be coming and the next size of clothes and diapering needs.

Gender Neutral 

Styling a gender neutral nursery can be challenging but bringing in neutrals through metallics or natural elements like easy to care for plants can bring the space together. Having different size storage baskets is great in this space for swaddles, extra crib sheets, baby’s towels and toys. In this Modular Closets system we chose to utilize three hanging spaces for carriers, clothes and sleep sacks but we could easily add more shelving in those spaces later if we needed.

Super Feminine Nursery

Creating a super feminine nursery doesn’t mean it has to be all pink or purple but you can add soft baskets or blankets to make the nursery perfect for your little girl. In this space we chose to bring in more books, frame an ultrasound photo and highlight some gifts to make this nursery closet feel more personal.

Shared Big Boy/Baby Room

When your new baby needs to share a room with a big brother or sister it is even more important to have an organized nursery. For this shared space we dedicated half the nursery closet for baby’s items and half the closet for big brother’s items. We left more hanging space for big brother’s clothes and baskets below for toys. For baby’s items we incorporated more storage  baskets on the top shelves and lots of organizers in the drawers.

Right now Modular Closets is offering 15% off your order when you use  code “babynav15”. We love this system so much for how easy it is to install, how high quality the materials are, how versatile it is and great it looks in this space. We can’t wait to see this in more clients’ nurseries!

If you want a full review that includes how we designed and installed this nursery closet you can check out our full video review here.

If you are looking for some of the baskets we used or other products to help organize the nursery check out our Amazon Page here.

Happy Nursery! xo, Julie

Disclosure: Modular Closets provided free product for review. However, all opinions are my own.

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