Pregnancy and Public Transit

by Samantha on June 14, 2015

What has happened to kindness and common courtesy?

Pregnant belly

She was about 8 or 9 months pregnant, belly hanging low, baby about to drop any day. The previous months had clearly taken a toll on her, as her face showed the exhaustion and fatigue required to make a human being. She was physically spent, yet there she stood.

Yes, she was standing. Standing on the 505 streetcar in downtown Toronto, as it abruptly stopped and started in morning rush hour traffic. Had she slept the night before? Unlikely, as anyone who has experienced the final months of pregnancy knows: a good night’s sleep is an ephemeral and fleeting fantasy.

Yet there she stood, while all around her, young, fit and otherwise preoccupied citizens pretended not to see her by burying their heads in their smartphones of choice.

A 20-something man in a crisp suit, clearly headed to his job in the financial sector pretended to sleep, as his eyes closed immediately after viewing the pregnant woman’s swollen belly.

A middle-aged woman played candy crush saga with an intensity and fervour that many of us thought only belonged to a younger generation of gamers, her eyes glued to her retina display screen.

Three teenage girls in private school uniforms giggled amongst themselves, giving nary an eye to the belly that not only protruded into the aisle in front of them, but turgidly languished on the very edges of their personal space. You see, her belly – had it been acknowledged – would have broken up the party, and that wouldn’t have been cool. The latest gossip about that cute guy in class and recap of last night’s TV show was much more important.

This had not been the first time that I had seen such appalling behaviour. Sadly, purposely, ignoring pregnant women while riding public transit has become the norm, not the exception. What has happened to humanity?

I’ve posted many rants and complaints about this on my personal Facebook page and talked to many friends who are mothers themselves. All of them have a similar story to recount about how they have been ignored  while pregnant and riding public transit.

A personal anecdote: during my last and final pregnancy with my twin boys, I could barely walk. I was considered “high-risk” for a few medical reasons which relegated me to bed-rest for most of my pregnancy. On those off days before I was completely immobile, somewhere between my seventh and eighth month of gestation, I needed to use the public transit to get to my doctor’s appointments. Now, let me say that having my third pregnancy and twins, no less, made me huge, much earlier than I would have been, had I been on my first pregnancy. In other words, there was no doubt that I was indeed pregnant.

Yet there I stood.

Their eyes averted, I was ignored, invisible and silently defeated as I struggled to balance so many times on the streetcar, hoping that some kindly person would give me a seat. My elephant-sized ankles continued to swell, my feet ached and my back painfully swayed with each lurch and jolt of the streetcar. Everything hurt, including my feelings.

As the mother of four, and one who has experienced three different pregnancies, I’m sad to say that this experience wasn’t atypical. Sadly, it was the norm, not the exception. And every single woman that I know who has been pregnant has experienced the same. What on earth is going on?

While I don’t profess to have all of the answers, I do believe that our culture of entitlement is a huge factor in this cultural shift. Once upon a time, there was chivalry, then socially accepted norms that included women, about “doing the right thing.” Helping someone who was clearly in need was the norm, not the exception. With the increasing sense of entitlement, exemplified by the “Me Generation” and continuing onward, those in need haven’t had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a fair shake. Whether they’re seniors who are unstable on their feet, the disabled or the aforementioned pregnant woman just looking for a kind soul who will let her have a well-needed seat, the chances of these folks receiving this small kindness grows smaller every day. The lack of focus on others, supported by the technological tools to “zone out” or feign ignorance wherever and whenever possible makes this willful blindness not only possible but probable as well.

Yet, in spite of this trend towards selfishness, I do believe that change is possible. The change starts now with all of us who are raising children with the values that support kindness and compassion. And while we make efforts to effect our childrens’ behaviours in future there are some adults who are in need of an etiquette refresher now.

I am starting a one-woman public awareness campaign as I feel that it needs to be done. As someone who has endured a very difficult twin pregnancy and was on the verge of begging someone to please give me a seat, the time for greater awareness for this reality is long overdue. Clearly, the assumption that everyone riding on the bus/subway/streetcar/[insert transportation mode here] understands that pregnant women should be given a seat is completely wrong. My assumptions – based on the teachings of my parents (thank-you, Mom and Dad) underscored the importance of kindness, but more specifically the need for those of us who are more able, to extend said kindness – and where appropriate, a seat – to those in need. This includes the elderly, the disabled and, of course, pregnant women.

Whenever and wherever you can, please remind those riding the public transit who seem to have forgotten basic courtesy that pregnancy is challenging, difficult and just plain exhausting. If a pregnant woman is standing while able-bodied people are pretending not to see her, be her advocate and ask them to give her a seat. I’ve done it before and have never been told “no,” probably because the shock of being called on their bad behaviour mixed with their embarrassment makes the culprits stand up quicker than one would imagine.

Perhaps making the subject one that is no longer ignored, one where pregnant women don’t have to suffer in silence, will put an end to it once and for all. If anything, making those who are oblivious more aware of their choices and how these choices affect others will affect change, hopefully for the better.

I’ll be tweeting and sharing the hashtag #StandUpForMom and #giveupyourseat on my social media channels to keep the topic top of mind and hope you’re able to share it as well.

Let’s do this.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here.

VIDEO: Stand Up For Mom!

What has been your experience with pregnancy and public transit? Tell me about it in the comments section below.


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Back to Work After Baby – Top 8 Tips For Moms

by Samantha on January 4, 2015

Simple but proven tips for a stress-free return to the workplace

baby mom

The time has come.

You’ve spent precious moments with your bundle of joy but like many situations in life, this, too, must come to an end.

Work beckons.

And as much as you’d like to stay at home just a little while longer, there are bills to pay and mouths to feed.

A return to work after having a baby can be one of the most stressful and emotional times for moms. After carrying your child for nine months, giving birth then being so closely attached to your baby during this special period, the thought of leaving him or her can cause feelings of both sadness and stress. As well, many moms feel guilty about having to make this decision, which often doesn’t make things easier.

Before going back to the outside workforce, you likely have a number of questions swirling through your mind, often with no clear answers. Some of these likely include:

Who’s going to take care of the baby while I’m at work?

How much is childcare going to cost?

– Is my baby going to be okay in the care of someone other than me?

 – How am I going to balance work, home and family responsibilities?

All of these questions are valid and normal, as well as important to be answered for both the parent and the child’s well-being.

Rest assured that you will be fine, and so will your child.

That being said,there are a few things to keep in mind and to have in place before you re-enter the workplace. Follow these simple tips and you and your little one will be ready for your return to work:

Back to Work After Baby – Top 8 Tips For Moms

1) Eliminate Guilty Feelings – Before anything, remember: you are doing this in the best interest of your baby and your family. While it’s natural to feel guilty, keep in mind that your return to work is going to allow you to provide your baby with the things that he or she needs, as well as to bring in needed finances to your household. While it may be difficult at first and you may feel guilt as well as a fear of separation anxiety, know that your actions are what’s best for your family, and will ultimately make a positive difference in the quality of life for all of you.

2) Decide on Breast or Bottle – Regardless of your choice, make provisions for how your child will be fed while you’re away. If you’re going to continue breastfeeding, make sure that you’ve made provisions accordingly. This may include either freezing your milk and/or making sure that you have a place to pump when you return to work, as well as a supportive work environment and employer who will accommodate your choice. If you’re going to choose formula, make sure to test the options so that you’re feeling comfortable with the right choice that your baby will drink when you’re at work. You may also want to consider a combination of both, so investigate your options to assure that everything’s in place when you go back to work.

3) Don’t Try To Do Everything – There are only 24 hours in a day and you’re now going to be working outside the home. For these reasons, make a realistic schedule about what you can and can’t get done, and stick to it. Part of your personal sanity will be directly related to knowing that you’ve done everything you can, and everything else will have to wait. You’re doing what needs to be done for your family – working and taking care of your child – and that’s enough.

4) Get Supports in Place At Home – Whether it’s from your partner, friends, neighbours or relatives, knowing that you’ve got things covered off at home will provide you with a huge feeling of relief as you return to the workforce. Help could range anywhere from childcare arrangements for your baby (see below for more details) to more specific help with cooking, cleaning and other household chores. The goal is to make things as stress-free as possible for you as you return to work so take help wherever you can.

5) Line Up Childcare Arrangements – Depending on where you live, childcare can be one of the biggest decisions to make, both from a financial and emotional point of view. In many urban centres, you may need to have lined up childcare for your baby as soon as you became pregnant; in others, there is more flexibility in terms timing and the choice of caregiver. In both instances, it’s important that you (and your partner) are comfortable with the final decision so that when you leave for work, you are also confident that you’re leaving your precious baby in competent and loving hands. Take the time to thoroughly research and check out your options before making this important decision. As well, do a “dry run” with your care provider a few weeks leading up to your return so that your baby, your caregiver and you are comfortable about leaving your child in care as you return to work.

6) Lower Your Expectations – There are only 24 hours in a day and you’ll be working through many of them. For this reason, it’s important to be realistic about what can conceivably achieved during the work week and the weekends as well. Now that you’re back at work, the house may not be as spic and span as you may like, and laundry may remain unfolded for a time. This is okay. There’s only so much you can do. If you’re able to, engage your partner to help out more, or, if finances allow, hire someone to assist with cleaning and other household chores. If this is not possible, lower your expectations of what can realistically be done in the home and focus on the fact that you’re doing the most important thing – taking care of your family by returning to work.

7) Be Clear on Work Responsibilities – This includes hours of employment, flexibility in scheduling if possible, and day-to-day duties. Ideally, it’s best to speak to your boss or supervisor before you set foot in the office or workplace so that you both have a clear understanding and agreement about what is expected when you return. When you’re both on the same page, things will run more smoothly and there will be no surprises – which are the last thing you need now that you’re back at work.

8) Get an Ally or Good Friend at Work – The return to work will be made less stressful if you know that there’s someone there that you can count on for support and a friendly ear. Ideally, it would be someone who can understand and empathize with the demands of being a working parent and in an ideal scenario, it may even be your boss. Either way, knowing that you have someone in the workplace that you can speak to about your transition back to work and its inherent challenges can make a world of difference to your state of mind.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here:

Eight Tips For Moms Going Back to Work Post Baby

Have you recently returned to work after maternity leave? What strategies and tips would you recommend for coping during this transitional time? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

VIDEO: New Mom Tips

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VIDEO: Coping Tips For New Moms

by Samantha on November 8, 2014

Simple advice on new baby care

baby feet

Having a new baby can be a shock. From diapers to spit-up, not to mention the lack of sleep, there are so many things that to consider.

The good news is that there are some simple things that can be done to make the transition to parenting easier.

I wrote about some of these tips here:

New Baby Care – Top 10 Helpful Tips For New Moms

You can also view the Downright Domestic segment on this topic where I provide advice here:

VIDEO: New Mom Tips

Do you have some advice about how to make the transition to parenting easier? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below!


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New Baby Care – Top 10 Helpful Tips For New Moms

by Samantha on January 26, 2014

new baby

For many of us who have been in the parenting world for a while, it’s tough to remember those days when you were counting down to when your new arrival would enter the world. For new moms-to-be, the stress of having everything “just so,” and being prepared is considerable. Just the thought of having a baby to care for is, alone, a daunting proposition.

From breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, to Ferberize or not to Ferberize it’s no wonder that expectant moms are dealing with serious amounts of anxiety as they await their new arrival. The good news is that we as a species have been having babies for millennia and the reality is that it doesn’t need to be as complicated as we’re lead to believe. Babies’ needs are simple – they need food, shelter and love (in the form of attention), and that’s basically it. Add a few items like a soother, a special blanket and perhaps a bouncy chair you’d be surprised at how content they can be.

Once you get past the shock of childbirth, you can and will realize that you’re more than able to handle it – and then some. Follow some of these simple tips below and treasure those special moments with your new bundle of joy.

New Baby Care – Top 10 Helpful Tips For New Moms

1) Newborns don’t need much – Don’t go overboard buying baby layette items other than a few onesies, sleepers, diapers, wipes, and a couple changes of clothes. For the first few weeks, you will not need a lot of clothes – guaranteed. A few alternates that can be put on after baby spits up, and will tide you over until the laundry is done is really all you need. All of the other stuff is extra.

2)  Catch sleep whenever you can – Sleep is a premium and you never know when you’re going to get it so sleep whenever you can. This includes sleeping when the baby sleeps and doing “shifts” with your significant other, if possible.

3)Trust your instincts – You know best because you’re the mom, right? Your “gut instinct is there for a reason.” If something feels right or wrong, it probably is, so trust your gut and act accordingly.

4) Limit visitors – Well-wishers are great but they can be a stress for new moms. Feeling like you have to entertain when you’re exhausted and the house is a mess is too much to bear. Limit visits to only the immediate family for the first while after baby is born and focus on your own new family during   this precious time.

5) Get out of the house – Don’t stay in, as tempting as it may be. This is particularly the case when you’ve just come home with a new baby and you’re feeling stressed and anxious. Bundle up the little one and go for a walk, or if you don’t want to venture far, at least go outside on the front porch or step. The fresh air and outdoors will make you feel revitalized.

6) Cleaning can wait – The house won’t fall apart if you don’t clean it as often as you’d like once the baby is born. Being a mom is hard enough; don’t add to your stress. Clean when you can and focus on the baby. If unexpected visitors show up and the house isn’t spotless, too bad. It’s their problem, not yours.

7) Stay hydrated and nourished – You’ll be better prepared to take care of your baby if you’re in good health and well fed. Don’t forget to eat! Drink lots of fluids as well, especially if you’re breastfeeding. You need that extra water in order to nourish your child.

8) Accept help – When someone offers to do something for you, accept. If they want to clean, cook or babysit, say “yes” and be thankful for their kindness. Don’t second-guess yourself or feel guilty. People really do want to help, particularly when there’s a new baby involved, so take them up on it and let them take over some of the chores.

9) Lower the bar – You have a new baby. Don’t expect to do everything you were able to do before. Things take longer with little ones around so accept that and take it easy. The house may bet a bit more messy, laundry may pile up…accept that this is the norm and you’re not expected to be “Housecleaner of the Year” when you’ve got a newborn in tow. Let things go, focus on your child and worry about the dusting when the baby is a bit older.

10) Reach out to other new moms – Don’t isolate yourself! Having a new baby is a wonderful thing but can also be very daunting and isolating, in some cases. Find a new moms group or similar in your area and attend playgroups or meetings where you can discuss common experiences and concerns. Just having the support and understanding of others in the same position can do wonders  for your state of mind.

VIDEO: Coping Tips For New Moms

What additional tips and advice would you give to new moms? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below!


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The 5 Secrets of Successful Parenting

by Samantha on January 6, 2014


Everyone wants to know the secrets of successful parenting. The role of “Mom” or “Dad” doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Instead, those who are in the trenches are left to their own devices, often to flounder and find their footing as they travel along the parenting road, wondering if they’re doing it right.

For most of us, there are stumbles along the way and self-recriminations such as “Why did I say that?,” “What was I thinking?” or “Did I do the right thing?” Second-guessing oneself is normal but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. As difficult as parenting is, there are some simple truths that, if followed, will make a world of difference in not only how you feel in your role as parent and provider, but in how your kids will perceive you as well. These truths are basic, straightforward and to the point, and will stop you from the self-criticism that often accompanies so many parenting decisions.

Here are the 5 secrets of successful parenting:

1) Don’t Ask – If you can’t handle the answer, don’t ask the question. It’s simple. While it may seem counter-intuitive to being a parent – after all, we’re hardwired to think that we have to know everything – not knowing something will help us parent better in the long run. How many times have we asked the question, only to find out something that we didn’t want to hear, or something that made us insanely stressed at the time. Fast forward a day, a week or a month from that same time and we’ve forgotten about it. The bottom line is that most things that kids do that may infuriate or worry us at the time are of little consequence in the long run. To this end, steel yourself and only ask questions when it is abundantly clear that you have to.

2) Don’t Tell – There’s been a recent trend towards parents spilling the beans. I mean telling the kids everything, no holds barred. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. Kids do not have to know everything; nor are parents obliged to tell them everything. Our society has become one of the tail wagging the dog where in many instances, the kids are running the show and the parents are haplessly following along, forgetting that they’re the ones who should be in control. Forget about this trend towards telling all and spilling the beans to our kids. “Mum’s the word” so zip up and remain silent. They’ll survive.

3) Fake It – That’s right: fake it. You may not know what you’re doing but that shouldn’t stop you from acting like you do. The expression “fake it till you make it” should be one of the benchmarks of parenting for all of us. Why? Because there are many instances in our roles as parents where we really don’t know what we’re doing. It’s part and parcel of being a mother or father: having doubts, and lots of them. When this occurs, follow your gut and act like you know what you’re doing. What you’ll find out is that you’re usually right in your decisions, and that you know more than you think you do.

4) Keep Cool – You may feel as though you’re going to combust any second and that your insides are primed for a Mount Vesuvius-type explosion. Ignore it. Never show it. On the contrary, be a cool as a cucumber in your demeanour. On the outside, you should have the calm, cool, control and comportment of one who is confident in their decisions and abilities. Behave in this manner and your kids will believe that you’ve got it together, in spite of what the truth may be. Act it, live it, be it. Done.

5) Follow Through – If you say you’re going to do something do it. This is especially the case when it comes to parenting. Kids don’t react kindly to waffling or indecision; if anything, they take advantage of any sign of weakness. Show your kids that you’re a man or woman of your word and that you can be trusted to follow through with whatever it is you said you’d do. Doing so is a sign of integrity and trustworthiness, even if the action is not what your child wants to see.

What other parenting secrets would you add to this list? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

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The Sleep Over – 5 Questions Parents Should Ask

April 25, 2013

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Guest Post at What to Expect

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Toddlers and sleep don’t often go hand-in-hand. Sometimes it’s smooth sailing and everyone in the household gets some well-needed rest. Other times, however, there are apparently monsters, ghosts and other scary things that are frightening our kids, keeping them up at night. A cry in the dark for Mommy or Daddy does not a good […]

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