8 Inexpensive Activities for Winter Time

8 Fun Activities for the Winter

It’s December, and even though it doesn’t quite feel like winter in Louisiana yet; it’s coming. It’s easy to get in a rut, and not carve out couple or family time in our hectic lives, but it’s so important! Here are some fun inexpensive activities to try this winter:

SLEDDING

I realize that Louisiana does not get many opportunities for sledding, but for all my northern friends – sledding is inexpensive and fun.

I grew up in Maine, so this was a common activity during my childhood. Find a hill and a sled (snow tube, tray, round saucers, anything that will glide on the snow) and go! It was a bonus when we got older and were able to use snowmobiles to get back to the top of the hill!

VISIT A FARM

Visiting a farm can be a lot of fun. Many farms have hay rides, corn mazes, and pumpkin patches available during the Fall and Winter times. These are usually only a few bucks per person, and is a great opportunity to burn a little child’s energy, or a way to have romantic cuddle time with your partner.

Pumpkin Picking

My son picking out his pumpkin at a pumpkin patch.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

One of my annual memories as a kid was my parents loading us kids in the car and driving around looking at all the prettily decorated houses. We would all comment in unison “OOOOOO AHHHHH”. Cost – Gas.

Or if you are able to spend a little more money, you can go somewhere that is decorated with lights for the holidays. My husband and I we have a tradition of looking at lights every winter, since our second date. It’s a great opportunity to hold hands, drink hot chocolate, and talk. When we lived in the New Orleans area, we went to Celebration in the Oaks; now that we are in Lafayette, we go to Noel Acadien au Village.

BOOK STORE

My family loves to read, so we often went to a bookstore just to chill out. We all went to our interested sections, found some books, and then found comfy chairs to peruse the books. My husband and I even did this when we were dating.

MUSEUMS

Go learn about something different, such as history or the arts. In the last few months, my husband and I have been to The National WW II Museum in New Orleans and the Children’s Museum of Acadiana. There will be different options depending on where you live. If nothing else, it will give something for the two of you to talk about.

BOWLING/INDOOR MINI-GOLF

I tend to forget about bowling and mini-golf, but have so much fun when I do it! Bonus, it’s indoors, so it’ll be warm. Many of them also have junk food and archade games which can also be fun. These activities may cost a little more than the other suggestions. But they are a lot of fun, burn energy (if you bring the kids), and is indoors (which can be really important when it’s cold outside).

ROAST MARSHMALLOWS & HOT COCOA

I love cold nights when I’m in fleece pajamas and we simply make hot cocoa, cookies, or even roast marshmallows. If you have a fire pit, you can roast the marshmallows outside, but this is also possible inside as well. These ingredients can also be inexpensive and delicious.

FONDUE

Want to eat more than marshmallows? Fondue is fun for all ages! You don’t need a fancy fondue pot either. Just use your pots, and heat up different sauces such as cheese, chocolate, caramel, marshmallows, or whatever else you desire. Then skewer your favorite meat, fruit, and veggies, and dip! If this is just for two, light some candles and play some music. If it’s for the whole family, lay down a blanket picnic style, sit in a circle and enjoy!

There you have it. 8 ways to spend time as a family or as a couple without breaking the bank. Since it’s often cold in the winter, you can also check out 5 Postpartum Date Night Ideas: Without Ever Leaving Your House.

Have fun!

What do you and your family do for fun? Leave your comments below!

I am a doula and teach childbirth and parenting classes in the Lafayette and Eunice, Louisiana areas. For more information and me and my services, visit M.Y. Birth & Baby.

Postpartum Date Night Ideas

5 Postpartum Date Night Ideas: Without ever leaving your house!

Making connections with your significant other often is difficult while both try to adapt to life with a little one. The postpartum period is a wonderful time to bond with your bundle of joy. However, it can also be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Sometimes the last thing couples want to do is – well, do ANYTHING ELSE! However, just as the baby is a priority, so should your relationship.

Men and women both need touch and connection. Women often feel “touched-out” from all the nurturing, breastfeeding, and bonding that goes on day and night with their newborn, especially during the many growth-spurts and developmental milestones that are happening ALL THE TIME. Women still need to feel desired, attractive, and cared for. Men often need to feel that they have not been replaced by the baby, and that they are still desired as well. The good news is that you can have this special time together without leaving your house or spending a lot money. You can even do these activities with your newborn, or arrange for someone to watch your baby close by.

  1. Play a Game – Play a board or card game. This activity does not need a lot of effort and may also give the two of you the opportunity to talk. Hey, you can even go wild and make a wager – See where the night takes you 😉 If your newborn is with you, take turns holding/baby-wearing baby.
  2. Have a Picnic – Spread out a blanket and have your favorite meal. Talk, drink some sparkling wine, and even light some candles.
  3. Rent a Movie – Rent a movie from Netflix, Amazon, MGO – whatever your favorite go-to-movie app is these days. Nowadays, it’s as easy as clicking a button to rent a movie. Eat some food, snuggle, hold hands, and enjoy.
  4. Bubble bath – Now that the 2 of you have gotten all sweaty from playing that board game and eating, take a bubble bath together. Talk, close your eyes, take deep breaths, and sink into the bubbles. Baby wants to join you? No biggie, make it a family affair – Many babies also find baths relaxing.
  5. Massage – Take turns giving each other massages. Go all out – light some candles, play some relaxing instrumental music, and rub on some oil. (It’s not a real massage without massage oil!) A sleeping or breastfeeding baby may be necessary, but it can still be done!

As you have read, date nights can be simple and inexpensive. Just enjoy each others company, reconnect, establish touch, and remember to have fun!

What inexpensive postpartum date activities did you and your partner try?

father holding son in the air.

5 Reasons Men Need Postpartum Groups Too!

I regularly attend monthly meetings for 4 different support groups (postpartum, breastfeeding, natural birth, and birth advocacy). I joined these groups after I had my first, and only, child. These groups have great women, conversations, and support. I often leave these meetings feeling refreshed, that I am part of a community, and supported.
As a family we experienced many changes after having our son (limited sleep, moving to a different city, my husband starting a new job, and me remaining on maternity leave, to name a few). Even if we had not experienced all those extra changes, our family still increased from two to three, and it was a pretty big deal!
I’m so grateful that I found and a part of these groups, but what about my husband? A friend of mine’s husband recently has tried to start his own dad’s group. I think this is a great idea! Here are some reasons why:

Men are going through huge transitions

Yes, I have gone through huge transitions this past year, but so has my husband. Our demanding and amazing little son has totally changed our world. While we are so grateful for our little man, we also both have needed time to process our new lives and identities. With the birth of our son, my husband became a father and primary bread-winner. Two roles with a lot of responsibility. As we have figured out our new roles, I have had great support from encouraging women. My husband on the other hand, has been left to navigate these tricky waters alone.

Men need to vent too

Life is often busy, with many ups and downs. Venting or talking is a good way to process the events of life. It’s also helpful to do said venting with people who are going through similar experiences; they are often more understanding.

Men need guy talk

Men and women often communicate differently. Yes, my husband can also talk to me, but sometimes he really just needs to speak to another guy.

Men need to do “guy” things

My husband and I have many similar interests and activities that we like to do together; but not all of them. That’s okay. We would probably drive each other crazy if we spent every moment together. Personally, I like when he gets guy time. He comes back refreshed, often with a more positive perspective. Plus, most importantly, he gets to do those boring guy things, while I don’t have to.

Men have feelings too

Often society expects men to be (and they often are), the rock, the comforter, the fixer, and the strong one. But, who is taking care of them?
What are some other reasons men need support groups? What support groups for men are near you?
I support families through pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Check out my classes and services at MY – Birth & Baby Website!
Father holding Newborn

A Guy’s Birth Story

Where do I start? My wife asked me to write my birth story. I am thinking in my head “My birth story? I didn’t give birth? What right do I have to say my birth story when my wife gave birth?”

First some background of how I used to think: I am the youngest of seven; we were all born in the hospital. My 3rd oldest and myself are the only ones born natural with no drugs. I actually was born after a cesarean (VBAC baby). I didn’t know that this was a big deal, but now it is apparently.

Home births growing up were not that common. My family was on the poor to middle class side of things. My first hearing of a homebirth was from my cousin, I thought “Why? Isn’t that dangerous? Couldn’t the baby die? I think that’s stupid and careless.” When I heard that the home birth went just fine . . . I thought, “well she’s just lucky, I guess.”

Then I lived in Germany for 8 years. Midwives and homebirths are common there.  Pregnant women are usually taken care of by midwives. Doctors take over only when surgery may happen, or the midwife consults them.

Home birth, Say what?! When we decided to have a baby, my wife said that we would be having a homebirth. I said “Why? What’s wrong with a hospital? It’s safe.” She said “Why not at home? It’s safe to have a homebirth.” She told me that only if she was high risk, then we would go to the hospital, but otherwise we can have it at home on our bed. I thought, “Oh great. On our bed with blood and mess and gore to clean up.”

She bought me some great books for first time/soon to be dads. She also signed us up for Birth Boot Camp. I thought, “I am so not into this . . . Do I have to? Look you’re the pregnant one, you go and I will stay back or I will just get in the way, I won’t know what to do . . .” Up to this point, I didn’t understand birth, my role, or my responsibilities . . .

Birth Boot Camp: We started going to Birth Boot Camp childbirth classes. It was a game changer. I learned the beauty behind birth, our options, and a fountain of birthing knowledge. It let me know that my wife was not going to do this alone and that I had a role. I was going to be there and that I needed to be there. I learned just how powerful women can be. I also gained the reassurance that women have been having babies for thousands of years – and often in their HOMES!

My Birth Story: On the night that it all started, I had worked all day and I was relaxing on the sofa. My wife was taking off to a Dancing for Birth class.  Perfect time to relax. When she came home, it was around 8:30 at night and she said she was having some contractions. So I asked if they were the real ones or the Braxton Hicks contractions. She wasn’t sure, but decided to take a bath to see if they would calm down. It didn’t. She came out of the bath and said she was still having them.

So, I thought of what I learned in class – GO TO SLEEP AS SOON AS IT BEGINS! So I say ok so we should try to get some quick sleep; notify the midwife. She said to forget the sleep; yes, call the midwife; and my back is hurting. So now I am calling the midwife and setting up the birth bath (remember to put in the liner, I totally forgot). She was having back labor (It turned out the baby’s back of head was facing her spine, instead of her stomach, but we didn’t know since the baby was always in the right position before). Around 11:00 PM we called the midwife again thinking that she was getting close to delivery and so she should come over.

My wife was in and out of the birth pool, forehead to the wall, laboring on the toilet, and the bed trying to relieve some of the back pain. I was pushing on her lower back non-stop; and when I had to pee, I would run to the toilet and before I could start she was calling for me to come and put pressure on her back. Her favorite word that night was “JEFF!” The night was a blur, morning came, and still she was not getting any closer to giving birth. She was 6 centimeters around 6 AM. I was thinking, “How is this possible? My muscles are throbbing, and my mind is dead.”

The midwife and her assistant took turns taking naps; and when I would accidentally fall asleep, they poked me while I was in the birth pool when my face was about to hit the water. My wife would also lovingly tap (AKA slap) me when she felt me falling asleep and the counter-pressure would stop.

The midwife and her assistant kept trying to get us to eat, but my wife was having none of that. She was nauseous. My wife finally got some IV fluids and we both laid on the floor and got maybe an hour of sleep before it kicked back into full labor again. Back to the pool, then to the bed, the wall, the pool . . . and it kept like this for I don’t know how long. My wife’s mother was there, laying down towels and washing the wet ones. She must have done at least 20 loads of towels.   I continued to push on her lower back, knowing that was what was needed.

Around 1:00 PM, the power went out. We assumed that it would come back on shortly. At 3:00 PM the midwife called the power company and told the worker on the phone that she was in the middle of a birth. Power came back on like 5 mins later.

Finally, my wife was fully dilated!! Then, the pushing started. I think she pushed for about 3 hours. At one point, the midwife attempted to break her water to help with pushing. This didn’t really work. At some time around 4:00 PM, I think, my wife started saying “I can’t do this. I am done.” I stayed with her saying “yes, you can.” (This was the reason for me to be there; to be her support).

In the end, it was on the toilet that the most progress was gained. We saw my son’s hair just barely sticking out. The midwife told my wife that we needed to move her to the birth chair and that she couldn’t have the baby on the toilet. My wife simply said “Watch me.” The midwife, her assistant and I all grabbed her, lifted, and moved her quickly to the chair. I think the midwife told her to slow down, but I don’t remember. My wife was done and wanted the baby out, so slowing down was not an option. She powered through the contraction and out came my son at 6:02 PM. I didn’t know what to do when he was coming out or how to catch him, but the midwife was on spot. The cord was wrapped around him 3 times. He was fine though. He was bloody from my wife tearing, but he was so amazing. I had tears coming down my face. So happy to see him, and so happy that the marathon was over. My wife tore fairly badly due to my son being “sunny-side up”, or occiput posterior. The birth was over 21 hours; time well spent.

Afterbirth: I know now that birthing in the hospital is not the only way, and neither is being at home. Your birth location should be wherever you are comfortable. For us, it was home. I would never recommend doing a homebirth without taking an actual comprehensive birth class. I will also never do another birth without a doula. A doula could have told us better positions to try, to make my wife more comfortable, and maybe even speed up the labor! She could have also given me a BATHROOM break!

It has been 15 months since the birth. I still feel and see the birth when I think about it. It was a challenge that we accomplished together. To me, birth is both man and woman, together in unison, working to bring a new life into the world. As men, and soon-to-be fathers, we need to learn our part. Being that guy in the waiting room is like missing out on your wedding kiss. I know I will never be that guy. I will be there and I will be involved (with the help of my doula)!