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Dear Mushka,

Sleep Training (and a Snoo Review)

Sleep Training (and a Snoo Review)

I frequently get asked how I run a small business and have little children; one of my most common responses is that we sleep train. By that I mean, early on we help our children learn how to fall asleep in their own beds at specific times of day. 

The two books I have used to help me learn are Baby Wise & Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I've referenced them time and time again with all three of our boys! If you don't have them, I highly recommend. I also hear Taking Cara Babies is an excellent resource. 

Here are things we do: 

1. Right away, we begin helping our child learn to eat every three hours. At the beginning, they may need to eat every 2-2.5 hours. That's okay! But slowly, we begin to implement a 3 hour feeding schedule. 

For us, it's 7:00am, 10:00am, 1:00pm, 4:00pm, 7:00pm, 10:00pm (and the nighttime feedings as they wake up). 

This is important for two reasons. First, it helps them get enough food in during the day. We know they're getting x amount of ounces every three hours; eventually their full bellies allow them to drop nighttime feedings. Second, it keeps them from sleeping longer than 3 hours at a time. This helps them learn that days are for naps, nights are for longer stretches of sleep. 

2. We work on an eat-play-sleep routine. This helps them learn to fall asleep on their own instead of by being fed every time. When they're itty bitty, this is hard! Sometimes they fall asleep and there's nothing you can do. But day by day, we feed them, "play" (change their diaper, bath, tummy time, quality time with mama, etc), and then lay them down for a nap as soon as they begin to yawn. 

It's also helpful because it takes the guess work out of what they need. If they ate three hours ago and are crying, they're hungry. If they've been awake over an hour and start to fuss, it's probably because they're tired. 

3. We prioritize good naps. Most babies need 1.5-2 hour naps between feedings (until 3-4 months of age when they begin to establish a morning nap and an afternoon nap or two). This is important because sleep begets sleep with little ones- if they're overly tired, they won't nap well during the day or sleep well at night. 

Between 4-6 weeks of age, we begin helping them learn to fall asleep in their own bed. So they eat, "play", and then get swaddled for a nap around an hour after they last woke up. 

At the beginning, some babies have a hard time falling asleep without you nearby. If this is the case (and it has been to some extent for all three of our boys) we use a mild "cry it out" method. We lay them down drowsy but awake. If they cry, we let them do so for 10 minutes and then come in to rub their back, burp them, and try again. At the beginning, you may spend a whole nap time block doing this but don't worry- they'll get it soon! 

They also may fall asleep quickly but wake up after a 45 minute nap- especially when the morning and afternoon nap is established (which can be longer than a 6 week old's nap). This is common because babies have 45 minute sleep cycles. They have to put themselves back to sleep for a full nap! We use the same 10 minute technique here, too.

Our oldest son was particularly stubborn here, but I knew he needed more sleep because he was waking up crying instead of happy. At 4 months, we let him cry for 30 minutes to learn to put himself back to sleep. It felt like the longest three days as I listened to him cry, but he learned quickly and begin sleeping for 2 hours + waking up so happy! 

4. We establish a consistent wake up time. For us, it's 7:00am. This is important because is sets up the rest of your day's schedule. If you start your day differently every day, you're constantly doing the math to see when they need to eat next. That's chaotic and stressful! The goal is less work, not more. It also helps their biological clocks learn when your family wakes up in the morning.

Sometimes you have to do a little finagling when they're still waking up in the night. For example, if our 6 week old wakes up to eat at 5:00am, technically he wouldn't be ready to eat again until 8:00am. Instead, I wake him up at 7:00am; if he doesn't take a full feeding that's okay. We're still back on schedule and ready to begin our day.

Alternatively, if he wakes up at 6:15am and seems wide awake, I may count that as our first feeding of the day and see if he can wait until 9:30 to eat again (instead of 9:15 or 10:00). At the next feeding, he may make it to 1:00, which puts us back on schedule, too. 

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We decided to try The Snoo, normally $1,300, when I learned you could rent it for about $3.50 a day. It's basically a smart swing + sound machine with a built in swaddle, doing 3 of the 5 "S's" for you. While it isn't a miracle worker, I do think it has been worth every penny this third time around. It has served as an extra set of hands, I think, essentially being the one to check in on him every ten minutes as he learns to nap or fall back asleep after a nighttime feeding. 

If we were at the beginning stages of having children, I'd find the money to buy one. We've been really pleased! You use it for around 6 months and then use the weaning feature (if necessary) to help them transition to a crib. 

Quiet Time as a Christian Mother with a Newborn

Quiet Time as a Christian Mother with a Newborn

I’ve previously talked about my quiet time with God and how I memorize scripture but this looks difference when you have a newborn baby, of course.

I personally thrive with structure and am a very organized person, this is how I normally do things, but a newborn changes it all! You’re exhausted, can’t process what you’re reading, your arms are always full and you’re just extra busy.

4 things I do during this season with a newborn:

Grace Grace Grace

The first thing I do is give myself grace. The first 6-8 weeks with a newborn I expect very little from myself in all areas of life. My routines and life in general looks very different. After that initial 8 weeks the baby gets their days and nights pretty much figured out - usually! My boys usually had a 7pm bedtime by then which changes everything.

For those first 8 weeks with a newborn just know it’s okay if this time looks very different than how you want it to look or to how it looked before. Give yourself grace!

I feel like this time helps you establish a dependence of the Lord which is so crucial to motherhood! Even if all you’re saying is help. This quiet time is not the goal - a relationship with God is the goal. Use this season to humble yourself and come to the throne of grace.

Pray!

Use this time to pray. It’s a wonderful way to use your time when you can’t do much else. Often I’m just stuck in a chair knowing that if I move Cru will wake up, so there I am just sitting by myself. I use this time to pray.

My thought wander more than normal because I’m tired but it always deepens my prayer. I’ve talked about prayer a lot in my IG Highlights but one thing that helps me is having a prayer topic for every day of the week.

You could just take a post-it note and write something quickly: Monday - Children; Tuesday - Spouse; Wednesday - Friends; etc. Whatever the focus in your life is. It does not need to be fancy.  You just need the reminders to help you focus your thoughts for prayer when you’re pacing a room at 2am.

Stick to your Bible reading plan as best you can

Again, give yourself grace with this and do the best you can. I’m currently reading through the Bible chronologically and during this season I’ll usually just pull it up on my phone or listen. I’ve also missed many days and just skip them so I don’t feel overwhelmed to catch up.

I trust that His words are getting rooted in me even when I’m not putting a lot of study behind them. Isaiah 55:11 says God’s words don’t go out void. So growth can happen even when we’re foggy as we read!

I also enjoy praying John Piper’s IOUS before I read my Bible and praying for God’s help before reading is crucial for me.

Memorize or Meditate

I also use this time to memorize scripture or meditate on a passage or chapter or verse. Whatever it looks like for you! It’s a good way to use your quiet time and I’ve memorized on chapter with each of my newborns! I’m currently working on Psalm 34 with baby Cru.

Focusing my thoughts here is hard, but it’s so beneficial. It may be the only time in the word I get and I need that! You can also choose to get meditate and repeat one verse for your newborn season.

One verse that has been such a comfort to me during this time is paired with our Servant Necklace and it reflects that idea that I can serve because of Jesus’ example and the power of the Holy Spirit. I wear this necklace daily during this season to serve as a reminder and have the corresponding verse card taped to my bathroom.

I hope these were helpful reminders and that you know that you are not alone. The newborn season is hard! Remember that this is a short season and that in 8 weeks things will begin looking differently again.

Encouragement for Women Walking Through Infertility

Encouragement for Women Walking Through Infertility

This week I shared a special guest appearance from my dear friend walking through infertility and miscarriage share her story on the Dear Mushka IG stories.

This is not part of our story but I know that is part of so many of yours! I think it’s so important for both sides to talk about this - for those of you walking the road of infertility or miscarriage to share what it’s like for those of us who aren’t, so we learn how to encourage you and love you well!

Head over to the “Infertility” Highlights if you want to watch her share her journey or simply read below. I’ve also included some Dear Mushka jewelry pieces for women walking through this season of motherhood.

Jessi has words for us all to learn and will share both sides of the people groups. Remember that we are made to do life together so I hope you find value in this guest appearance!

Jessi is a friend from church and I reached out to her a few weeks ago to share her story of walking through a difficult season. Her husband and her have been walking a season of infertility for the past 5 years.

Trent and Jessi got married 6.5 years ago and about 18 months into their marriage, Jessi started to feel that maybe some things just weren’t quite right with her body. A doctor’s appointment led to two different diagnoses of infertility which has been extremely painful.

It was very unexpected as someone who was in her early twenties but five years later, she feels like the Lord has used this situation more than any other in her entire life. Now she is very grateful to be in a space to hopefully share some encouragement and help!

If you yourself are walking through infertility, here are three pieces of encouragement that have come through lots of trial and error and asking for lots of grace:

Surround yourself with community

Confessing that you are going through a season of infertility is really uncomfortable and really hard because you are discussing some of the most intimate details of your life but we are simply made to do life with other people. We need people to strengthen us with truth when we can’t.

Learn to rejoice with those who rejoice

This is something that I really struggled with during the first years of infertility. It can be difficult to hear other women’s other exciting news when all I wanted was some of that news for myself. However, it is a loving thing to rejoice with others when they are rejoicing and it’s amazing to see how these people also mourn with you as you mourn. Gospel friendship is a beautiful thing.

Remember that Jesus is our greatest treasure in all of life

This is by far the most important. Jesus is so kind to give us devoted husbands and Godly friends and good gifts but He is our greatest treasure.

He came to Earth to be a broken body on a tree so that these broken, infertile bodies of ours could be redeemed someday and not stuck in this situation forever.

If you are someone NOT walking through infertility or perhaps know of someone who is, here are my tips for providing encouragement and love to those who are:

Include women who are not mothers in your tribe

It is such an honor when a mom lets me love her kids and be her friend and just includes me in her family dynamic. I’ve learned so much from the Godly moms in my life that I can’t wait to hopefully use in my own family one day.

Love doesn’t grow weary

If you have a friend who is walking through infertility its likely that they are going to hurt intensely month after month - its just the nature of it. Pray for a heart that is long suffering and stay with your friend as they hurt over and over again. This is not a quick pain.

We don't need to be fixed

I know there is a temptation to share an article you’ve read or a new treatment or doctor but sometimes what we need most is to be seen and heard and loved. There are certainly situations where sharing is helpful but remember that we are doing our own research as well.

Jessi also chose to share some Dear Mushka pieces that have helped her while walking through this difficult season. I love that she chose different pieces that I would have - proof that God’s words go far beyond one situation.

The Encounter Necklace reminds me to not give up on praying and that the Lord doesn’t tire of our prayers.

The Befitting Earrings are paired with the scripture verse that depicts Him increasing while we decrease with the jewel hanging, going back to what I said before about Jesus being our treasure!

The Expectant Necklace is one I wear nearly every day (it is actually a Dear Mushka piece made especially for infertility). It mimics an empty cradle and also open hands that reminds me that I am willing to accept that Lord’s good plan and will wait expectantly for whatever He gives.

Jessie said that you’re welcome to message her if you’d like to!

Mother's Day Gift Guide (for every woman!)

Mother's Day Gift Guide (for every woman!)

Mother's Day is our second biggest holiday and as a woman, I truly understand why. On this day, there is little more I want than ways to remember my sweet children + Gospel truths to stand on when I'm feeling overwhelmed. I also know the loss of a mother, the angst of feeling like an imperfect mother, the sorrow as friends walk through miscarriage or infertility and long to be a mother, etc. 

I hope this post helps you navigate the pieces we offer and allows you to find the perfect thing for your heart or a loved one's heart. xx

To Celebrate Children:

· A piece from the No. 139 Birthstone collection here -- add one or multiple birthstones. Grandmothers love this! 

· The Priority Ring here-- wear one for each of your children, add more as your family grows!

· The Called Necklace here -- add one initial or multiple and keep your children close to your heart (or a grandmother's heart). Also a precious way to honor the loss of a child. 

· The Brimming Necklace here-- a great option for someone experiencing motherhood after years of waiting. Rejoice with those who rejoice!

· The Quiver Necklace here -- add as many arrows as you need and think on Proverbs 127:4

Adoption:

The Together Necklace here -- we have a verse card for birthmothers, adoptive mothers, and (new!) adopted daughters as they get older. Can you picture all three matching? Precious! 

To Help During Hard Seasons:

· The Aid Necklace here -- created especially for when a loved one or unborn child dies. Miscarriage, loss of child, loss of mother, no relationship with a mother. Let this verse meet you in all of the hard! 

· The Expectant Necklace here -- created especially for someone walking through infertility. Open your hands to what God has in store for you. 

· The Keeper Necklace here-- know that you are seen and your tears are kept; add tear drops for each miscarriage or loss.

· The Portion Necklace here-- because God, not children or health or obedience, is our hope. Amen!

· The Carried Cuff here -- because you're being held as you mother; this is a shop bestseller, for sure! 

· The Harvest Necklace here -- available in lots of colors with a wonderful reminder that the work you're doing will one day product fruit; keep planting seeds in your child's life!

· The Enduring Necklace here-- especially wonderful for mothers parenting a child with special needs 

For Spiritual Growth as you Mother:

· A Promise Pack here -- perfect for putting up all around the house to keep your eyes on truth even when you feel too busy to spend a long time in the Bible

· The Servant Necklace here-- a reminder to serve your children, through the power of Jesus

· A 2 Cor 12:9 Art Print here -- because God is greatest when are weak and in need of Him for energy, wisdom, and joy. 

To Gift to Another as a "Thank You" for being the mother they are

· Here's a blog post I wrote that highlights a lot of pieces you can use to say "thank you". I think you'll find a lot of good options here! 

 

Welcome Cru! + Adoption Tips

Welcome Cru! + Adoption Tips

Our third son, Cru, was born last week and we are thrilled to have him in our arms.

You can read about our past adoption experiences in these blog posts. For this third adoption, we used Faithful Adoption Consultants again. I highly recommend them or a similar route if speed is a priority to you. We went active around Valentines Day, were matched five weeks later, and held our son two weeks after that!  

You can also follow my personal IG account along here

Many of you have asked for adoption tips beyond choosing an agency so here are a few things this three-time-adoptive-mother would recommend as you prepare to bring your little one home. 

1. Rent an Airbnb as you wait out ICPC. A hotel gets old fast. If you can find a place with a kitchen, living room, and bedroom you'll be able to spread out, avoid eating out so much, and feel more like you're at home while you await the clear to head back to your home state. Ours was just $10 more a night... very worth it.  

2. Pack those little things babies need when they come home from the hospital. A baby thermometer, vaseline for post-circumcision, a nail file perhaps? Of course, a Target or Wal-Mart is probably close by, but if you don't have to buy a duplicate, why do it? 

3. While you're at it, pack a variety of clothing sizes for your little one.  Because my other two boys wore them for multiple weeks, I only brought newborn clothes and as it turns out.. baby number came out too big for them! I had plenty of the next size up at home and kicked myself for not bringing a few of them. Lesson learned! 

4. Bring comfortable, realistic clothes for yourself. This is not the time to look fancy and dolled-up. You might not have delivered a baby, but your emotions have gone through the ringer. Lay low, enjoy being cozy (and make-up free!) while you're away from the company of your friends and family. 

5. Take advantage of the time you have in a different city. Travel all around the state you're in-- for our second son we visited the Red Rocks in Arizona and for number three we planned to go to Waco (hello, Joanna) until we got the clear to come home earlier than expected. 

6. Likewise, enjoy parenting with just your spouse and new child. Did you leave other children at home? Soak up being a parent to just one newborn-- what a unique bonding experience! Go out to eat with your husband before your child gets too old to do so, snuggle up on the bed and watch a movie in between feedings, go for walks, do a little reading!

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