Thursday, April 23, 2015

How direct sales helped one mom + chat event

I have sworn for years that I would never, ever do direct sales. I even went on a rant about it to my best friend one day. I told her about how I saw a lady's car with three different direct sales decals on it, and how ridiculous all of them were. 2 years later, we're both part of direct sales companies, and boy am I eating my words!

Part of the reason for my rant that day was because, like many, I had a preconceived notion of direct sales. I grew up with parents who had had a bad experience with one particular company, and always warned me about the hidden dangers of not only selling but actually buying from or having anything at all to do with what my parents considered to be "pyramid schemes." I won a couple of Scentsy items from a charity raffle, but they were the only direct sales items in my house. Then, when I started to take Cloth for Everybum national, several direct sales consultants offered to do fundraisers for us. Anyone who has ever run a very small nonprofit knows that I couldn't turn down an offer of a fundraiser or donation. 

One of those fundraisers was for a company called Chloe + Isabel, a jewelry company. I didn't normally wear a lot of jewelry and I wasn't really into jewelry. I wanted to buy something, though, to support the cause. I bought a pair of earrings for my mom for her birthday... and ended up adding a couple of bracelets for myself into my order. When the order arrived I was amazed by how beautiful everything was. 

My last child was potty training and I was sad to donate my entire diaper collection to Cloth for Everybum. I needed a beautiful new collection in my life. Chloe + Isabel replaced my passion for collecting cloth diapers, and I found a lot of joy in it. My daughters could wear and enjoy some of the jewelry with me and it felt wonderful to share it with them too. Whenever a new collection was launching, I became just as excited as I had been when a new Softbums' print was coming out, or when a favorite WAHM cloth diaper release was stocking. 

As I continued to buy and follow my merchandiser's posts, I began to become enlightened by how the world of network marketing and direct sales had evolved since the beginning of Amway, Tupperware, and Mary Kay. So many new direct sales companies have sprung up over the past decade. So many women with children have found successful careers in the direct sales industry. One must wonder why.  

"82% of women in the United States who make $100,000 a year or more did it through direct sales."(http://newpittsburghcourieronline.com/2014/03/06/successful-women-make-their-mark-in-network-marketing/)

But why women? Why, if network marketing is so good, does that statistic not include men? 
From musing on this subject, it has become clear to me that it is
because, now that women are expected to work and do the "second shift" at home, women with children are finding that often their ONLY option to go to work and to contribute income for their families, is through direct sales. I didn't read this in an article I can cite, and I didn't learn this from talking to a wiser person whom I can quote. I learned this the hard way. 

When my first daughter was 9 months old, I took a job at a newspaper, but I left it after 1 month when I found out I was already pregnant again! When my second daughter was 9 months old and my first daughter was just turning 3, I began to feel 100% touched out! And because of that, I desperately wanted out! To be out of the house and to feel like someone more than "Mommy." I had volunteer work to do, but my husband frowned upon the countless hours I dedicated to volunteering, since it did not provide anything for our family. Sharing my overflowing cup has always been a central part of who I am as a person, but I thought maybe there is room in my life for work outside of volunteering. 

I took on a job as a seamstress at a military sew shop, but because of the demands of my family life at home, I also left that job after 3 months. The only reason this job was even financially viable for me in the first place was because I was able to arrange to work only in the evenings and on weekends. I never saw my husband. If I had had to pay for childcare for 2, I would have actually been paying to work. Minimum wage is about $10/hr depending on where you live and childcare ranges from $5-10 per hour per child. 

Simple math demonstrates how many mothers literally cannot afford to work.  

Some women have professions before they get pregnant, and for them it may be easier to continue working. Their pay may be high enough to cover childcare costs and continue working. Some women can blog or babysit or tutor and make ends meet. For many of us, there is an option: an opportunity. It is called direct sales.

I was not recruited into direct sales. In fact, how I ended up here is more of a story of love. Not every direct sales company is multi-level; and Chloe + Isabel is one of those. I was not recruited into my position. I chose it, because I fell in love with the product and I wanted to share my passion with others. I started Cloth for Everybum and do cloth diaper advocacy for the same reason: I had a passion I wanted to share. 

My story is just one story, of thousands like mine. I hope that my voice can in some way speak for those thousands, at least in a small way. To make those who have been bothered at any point in their lives by a direct sales invitation, understand. 

I created this series of graphics to illustrate not why I sell direct sales, but why I buy it. So many of my friends and family sell so many wonderful products, and so many of those have indeed enhanced my life. 







My sister-in-law sells Roden+Fields. My best friend sells Lularoe. I would rather buy my skin care from my sister-in-law, than the pharmacy. I would rather buy my clothing from my best friend, than from the department store. Wouldn't you? 

Several of us mothers in direct sales have joined together to create an event dedicated to discussing this subject. We are also sharing information about the products we love and sell. We would like to invite you to join us in this discussion over on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1098722710153641/

Regular Contributor: Stacy Mojica is an accredited Real Diaper Association leader, founded the Low Country Real Diaper Circle, Sun City Real Diaper Circle, and Cloth for Everybum, Inc. She has two daughters; born in 2011 and 2012. Stacy has a degree in English and ran a small artisan cloth diaper shop via Etsy for one year, but has made her career in cloth diaper advocacy and education. Stacy has a tendency to hyper-focus.  Give her a coffee and a kid-free hour and she will do amazing things!
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Monday, March 23, 2015

Birth, breastfeeding, and guilt: an unexpected birth story leads to a parenting revelation

When I first knew I was pregnant, there was no doubt in my mind that breastfeeding was the best for my child. Every new mom gets asked if they are going to breastfeed, and some family members even took it a step further in telling me that it would be so easy for me to breastfeed because they produced enough milk to feed an army, and since I am related to them, I undoubtedly would as well. I was not so sure though, from the start I had vague feelings that things were not going to go as planned. I cannot accurately describe what I was feeling, or what was causing that slight hesitation whenever people asked me about my birth plan or my feeding plans. My response was a bit less definite, “I hope to…”, or “I am going to try…”. I felt that being too definite was setting myself up for failure, especially with that vague feeling lurking in my gut, telling me to be cautious.

Leading up to her due date, I started feeling the need to speak with my significant other about what he would do if I died. I had no idea what brought that into my mind, very few women in developed countries die in child birth anymore, but I had a sense that I really needed to have that talk with him. Little one's due date came and went, and a little over a week later I went into labor. Even labor did not go as I had planned. I ended up hemorrhaging half of my blood volume, almost dying, and almost losing my uterus. Needless to say, I did not get to be the first one to hold my baby, and it was over an hour before I finally got to try to feed her. Everyone was an emotional wreck.

As most mothers that breastfeed know, it takes a few days for your milk to come in; so as little one started to lose weight I was not too concerned. We were in the hospital for 5 days, and in that time I tried exclusively breastfeeding. When she dropped 15% of her birth weight and was still losing, and her little lips were dry and cracked, and her tongue was dry and coated with thick mucus from dehydration, all I wanted was to feed my baby. When we left the hospital, we had to set up an appointment to see the pediatrician the next day because of little one’s severe weight loss. The pediatrician agreed that we needed to supplement her feeding with formula for a few days to try and stop the weight loss. I happily gave her bottles, and felt so relieved that she was eating!


I still tried to breastfeed her at every feeding, but she refused to even try to take the breast. She would push me away and hit me until I gave her the bottle. When I picked her up, she would immediately turn her face away from me, and push away. I talked to multiple lactation consultants, and tried to increase my supply by more frequent attempts at feeding and pumping, but that was a no go. I tried teas, and supplements, I bought pills on line; all to try and increase my milk supply. I would use the syringe that came with the gas drops to feed her the tiny amount of milk I was producing because I was not even producing enough to put into a bottle.

There were feelings of inadequacy. Why can’t I feed my baby? What is wrong with me? What kind of woman am I? There was the realization that if we had been living in a different time in history, we would likely both be dead. There was the hurt of having my child push me away and cry when I took her from whoever was holding her because she hated me trying to make her breastfeed. There was stress infusing everything. And then I stopped. I stopped trying to increase my almost nonexistent milk supply, I stopped trying to force my child to breastfeed, I stopped telling myself that we were taking the easy way out by quitting, and I started enjoying my daughter. After a week or two she started enjoying me as well.

I still struggle sometimes with the idea that I gave up and am hurting my child, especially with social media constantly having self-congratulatory posts on successful breastfeeding pop-up in my news feed; or people posting articles about future health/success/intelligence all being linked to one single factor, breastfeeding. To all of the bottle feeding Momma’s, yes, breast feeding is a wonderful thing, but do not worry. Your child will not constantly be ill, or turn into the village idiot, or feel unloved and deprived later in life just because you chose to formula feed. Health, intelligence, and emotional and psychological well-being are multifaceted, breast feeding your child does not guarantee a happy, healthy, successful life, and formula feeding does not turn your child into a sick, unintelligent, maladjusted failure. So, congratulate the women that were able to make it work, and do not let anyone make you feel like a failure, or a bad parent for not breastfeeding.

 
Guest post details: Meghan is a teacher and microbiologist that dabbles in virology. She is currently working full time at an animal vaccine company developing autogenous vaccines for all manner of critters. She divides her nights and weekends between teaching at a local community college, and trying to figure out how to take care of a baby. With two jobs, two dogs, two cats, a turtle, a baby, and a significant other (also working two jobs, and working on two degrees to boot!), life is pretty interesting and crazy!
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Monday, February 16, 2015

What products do you need to start #clothdiapering?

You've decided to start cloth diapering!  Now you're wondering what you need to cloth diaper.  Here are the must haves and the optional items.

The “must haves” of cloth diapering

Diapers:

Obviously you will need cloth diapers (aff link), but how many do you really need?  That answer will depend on how often you want to do laundry. Realistically you want to have enough diapers so that you can wash them every other day or every third day.  For a newborn or infant, you should purchase between 24 and 36 diapers.  If you are exclusively using a diapering system that requires use of a diaper cover, you will need about 6-10 diaper covers to go with your 18-36 diapers.  When diapering an older toddler, you will only need about 18 diapers total.  If you want to do part-time cloth diapering, plan to purchase 9-10 cloth diapers and 3 covers.

*I would recommend not purchasing a lot of one variety of cloth diaper until you have tried that style of diaper and decided you like it.


Wet Bag/Pail liner:

A wet bag is a waterproof lined bag where you can store dirty diapers until laundry day.  The wet bag can get washed along with your diapers.  It’s a good idea to have two wet bags, especially for when one is in the wash.  You might consider buying two large size bags for at home, and one small size for outings.  Some people prefer to have a diaper pail and to use a washable pail liner for use at home.  Either option is great.



Cloth diaper safe detergent:

When laundering cloth diapers, you need to use a detergent that is free from fabric softeners and perfumes that could cause build-up on diapers.  Build-up can eventually cause diapers to repel liquid or retain odor.  For detergent ratings for use with cloth diapers visit this site.


Optional items:

Wipes:

Reusable cloth wipes are a great alternative to disposable ones, and a stock of about 24 wipes should be enough.  You don’t have to use a wipe at every diaper change, but it’s good to have extras on hand.



Liners:

A micro-fleece  (aff link) or disposable cloth diaper liner is a thin piece of fabric or paper product that you lay inside your cloth diaper.  These liners are especially nice for when you want to use a cloth diaper safe rash cream on your child.  It’s always preferable to keep rash creams away from fleece-lined diapers even if the rash cream is listed as “cloth diaper safe”.  Liners are also useful for easy disposal of poops into the toilet.


Diaper Rash cream:

You might never need it, but you may want to have a cloth diaper safe rash cream on hand.  Regular diaper rash cream will stain cloth diapers and cause repelling issues.  You can find a list of cloth diaper safe rash creams here.


Dryer balls:

Line drying your cloth diapers is one of the best things you can do for diaper covers.  However, prefolds and fitted diapers have a tendency to get a little “crunchy” if you dry them on a line.  Dryer balls help laundry dry faster and retain softness.


Diaper sprayer:

A diaper sprayer is a spray attachment (similar to what you have on your kitchen sink) that fixes to your toilet.  You can use it to rinse off especially difficult poops into your toilet.  These are perhaps even more useful for when your child is using a potty chair and you can use it to rinse out the chair after a successful potty.

Kelly's Closet links are affiliate links.
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How to potty train your child while at Disney World

When E started showing interest in using the potty, I was elated.  I love cloth diapers but, let's face it, getting your kid out of diapers is the ultimate goal.  E was just about 22-months-old when he tackled the potty and, soon after, I wrote this post about our humorous start to potty training. What I hadn't planned was that daycare would be so zealously behind our new adventure and that E would be potty training so quickly!  Just about 1-month after he initiated potty training, we were leaving for our first family vacation to Disney World.  I was torn--should we try to potty train at Disney?  Should we just throw our hands up and let E regress during the trip?   I turned to the internet to see what other moms had done, but there was a surprising lack of info about "how to potty train your child at Disney World." Boo.  So we were on our own and I'll share what we did and how it seemed to work out.


  • What not to do: buy a travel potty chair
 Well, this was exactly what we did before leaving for Disney.  I bought a fold-up potty seat that looked the like ultimate, must-have item for potty training your child while on the go.  We tried it a few times before the trip and my son refused to sit on it.  The seat was a total failure and, although we brought it on the trip, I didn't even bother trying to get him to use it.  There may be some cool travel potty chairs out there, but if you are traveling by airplane then you'll need something compact and easy to clean.  Don't get suckered into something gimmicky.

  • Practice, practice, practice and practice with an adult-sized potty
 Instead of getting sucked into the travel potty chairs, help your child figure out how to use a regular potty without the use of potty seats and training aids.  This can be a bit miserable because, if your child is like mine, he got really used to the kiddy-sized seat accessory that fits on a toilet.  Forgoing the kiddy seat resulted in lots of tantrums at our house.  Since my son associated the kiddy seat with our upstairs bathroom, I started taking him to use the potty downstairs and without the kiddy seat.  We also practiced while we were outside of the house on errands.  Warning, if you have a little boy it takes some practice for both parent and child to figure out how to get pee inside the toilet and not all over pants and unsuspecting bystanders (I joke, sort of).  My son is still too young to stand and pee, so practicing a week before our trip was critical to figuring out all the nuances of making this work.
  • Let your kiddo decide
One thing I didn't want to do was to pressure my son into using the potty while at Disney World.  I wanted it to be his idea, so I planned that we were going to regress during the trip.  After all, Disney is filled with lots of activity and I didn't know how he was going to handle the new experiences of the trip.  I brought a package of diapers along and kept a diaper on E at all times--that way if he had an accident, it would be absorbed by the diaper.  This was less stressful for everyone.  We visited restrooms often to "check" to see if anyone needed to go potty.  My daughter (4 years old) sometimes accompanied us into a large bathroom stall and was great at encouraging E to try the potty.  It helps to have an older sibling for some peer pressure!  If your child is completely fighting using the potty at Disney World and she is pretty new to potty training, don't force it.  If you have an older child who should have potty training mostly figured out already, then sometimes a gentle reminder can help him remember what is expected.
  • Make sure your child is hydrated
 If your child has not urinated in over three hours and insists she doesn't need to go, she could be dehydrated.  Disney involves a lot of walking and it can be intense for a young child.  Try to keep your child hydrated and always carry a water bottle just for your kids.  You can refill water bottles at drinking fountains near the restrooms or at many quick-service food stations.

  • Forgive accidents and celebrate achievements
 Shockingly, we had no accidents during the entire week of the trip and no wet diapers (besides naps and overnight).  I made sure to tell E what an awesome job he was doing every time he used the potty.  We were so proud of him!

Tell me about your Disney potty training success story (or hilarious failure).  What additional tips do you have for potty training while on the go?
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

On the air with the Boba Air Baby Carrier #review

When I had my daughter I promised myself that I wouldn’t stop traveling. She was only 4 months old when she first traveled on a plane. To keep her calm and help speed the boarding process I turned to babywearing. I’ve worn my daughter since she was born and brought our trusty carrier along. While I loved having her close, I hated dealing with the bulkiness of the carrier inside the plane and whenever I wasn’t using it. Looking for a better solution for air travel, Nissa suggested the Boba Air Baby Carrier. She uses this carrier with her own children and thought its compact size would be ideal for travel. 

Made from 100% Nylon, the Boba Air is designed to look like its bulkier counterpart the Boba 4G, but without the extra padding. The carrier design allows the child to remain in a seated position as recommended by the International Hip Displasia Institute. Closer inspection reveals an attached hood that came in handy while my baby slept through the security checkpoint at the airport. I tested the Boba Air around the house and quickly familiarized myself with the carrier before embarking on our two week trip out of the country. I loved that all the straps can easily be adjusted without any help, which was essential on this trip as the first leg of the trip I would be flying solo with my daughter. The Boba Air also has convenient elastic bands to roll up the excess strap length so it doesn’t get caught somewhere. 

I was apprehensive of using this carrier at first because I honestly fail at folding maps and wasn’t sure I would be able to store it back into the pouch. To my surprise, I didn’t have to even watch the video as I effortlessly folded down and tucked the carrier into the pouch. I easily managed to do this in all 8 of our flights while wrangling a busy 10-month old. One word that describes the Boba Air Baby Carrier is convenient. This carrier was able to comfortably hold my 10-month old 18 lb. child and fold down small enough to fit in her backpack. The Boba Air can also be clipped to the backpack while not in use, which is how I stored it while on the plane and during part of our 5-hour layover at DFW. 

Because I left our regular bulky carrier at home, I used the Boba Air throughout our trip to Puerto Rico. Because this carrier is light I was able to comfortably wear my daughter in the warm climate up to temperatures in the upper 80s. She did get hot when we were roaming through a crowd in 90 degree weather but that’s to be expected with any carrier considering the circumstances. I fear she would have melted or had a heat stroke had we used a heavier carrier. I must admit, it was an advantage to be able to carry her rather than navigating the crowd with a stroller. 

When to use the Boba Air if you’re traveling: 
  • During check-in: allowed my daughter to interact with the lady at the counter while I checked-in our luggage. 
  • Through security: I kept my daughter with me at all times and did not have to remove the carrier, which made passing through security a breeze. 
  • While boarding: rather than holding my daughter and wrestling bags, I used the Boba Air to carry her to our seats and while I stored away our bag and prepared her car seat inside the plane. 
  • While disembarking: just like boarding, leaving the plane can be hectic if not for the baby carrier. 
  • Through the airport: as we walked to find our gate it was so much easier to have her in the baby carrier rather than a stroller when we were pressed for time. It also simplified the process of grabbing our suitcases as I didn’t have to worry about keeping an eye on a baby in a stroller while watching for luggage on the carousel. 

If you’re planning on traveling by plane or need to alternate with a stroller, I definitely recommend the Boba Air as a convenient and comfortable carrier for your child. The lightweight material allows you to store this carrier virtually anywhere and keep in handy for on-the-go travel. 

Boba sent me the Boba Air in grey for the purpose of this review. Nissa, the Cloth Diaper Guru, is an ambassador for Boba and has previously reviewed the Boba Air. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and the opinions expressed here are based on my experience using the carrier.
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