MommyCon Chicago and Ticket Giveaway!

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Wow, MommyCon Chicago is just over a month away!  I’ve been informed that the event, which has expanded into more conference center space this year, is close to selling out!  I am super excited for #MommyConCHI because Chicago is the home base of the convention as well as the MILK and WEAR conferences! Plus, there are more exhibitors, more great talks, and more FUN for everyone!

What sessions am I most excited for? Well, let’s start with these:

Is your Picky Eater Driving you Crazy? Yes, yes he is. How can we sneak more veggies in? (The universal question of parents of toddlers.)

Postpartum rehabilitation. As a birth professional, I want to know how to help women get back to their full selves after birth. We tend to discount the transformative process of having a child, and I am so excited that this convention is ready to talk about real issues that affect mothers long after pregnancy!

Potty Training/Toddlerwearing. Okay, these two are at the same time and I can’t choose! We are going to be potty training two at the same time so I really need the help, BUT I also want to find new and comfortable ways to wear my rapidly-growing babies/children. How will I ever decide????

Your Child’s Brain on Music. Both of my boys adore music. If I can learn more about how to make it more a part of our lives, I will.

Body Positive Images with Jade Beall. The 4th Trimester Bodies Project is one of the best photography series out there. I am SO excited to see what Jade has to say after her work with hundreds of mothers!  (And if I can sneak a selfie and 5 minutes to pick her brain, I WILL.) Like, I’m fangirling HARD over here!

Building Community with MommyCon founder Xza!!! MommyCon was started to help parents get out of their isolation and connect with others over common interests and trends in parenting, so there is no better person to talk about building communities from scratch than Xza! Her tireless work has made such a difference for parents and professionals all across the country, so I am excited to listen to her talk about how we can all bring a little bit of that experience back home to our own communities.

MommyCon Chicago also has a whole bunch of other exciting stuff lined up, like the Make & Play day camp. That’s right–at this convention, you can even drop your littles off while you enjoy some mama (or papa) time! If mine were potty trained, I’d be on this like white on rice.

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Okay, so who’s ready for a giveaway????? I am giving away a pair of tickets to MommyCon Chicago to one lucky winner! Head on over to the Cradled In Joy Facebook page to enter! Giveaway will remain open until 10:00 PM EST, this Sunday, January 31. In the meantime, buy some tickets for your friends at mommy-con.com and be sure to use the coupon code CRADLEDINJOY16 to get $5 off General Admission at Checkout!

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10 Reasons to Go To MommyCon (and a coupon code)

So, I know that MommyCon pretty much sells itself. It was started by a mom, it features family-friendly spaces, and it gets us out of the house—but if you haven’t been to a MommyCon yet, then you need to know the true benefits this convention offers! (Plus stay tuned for an upcoming blog post that features a GIVEAWAY of Chicago tickets!)

  1. VIP upgrades! Once you get your General Admission ticket, you can sign up for a special, intimate session with a presenter, which includes are really awesome gift bag. Whteher you are interested in breastfeeding, babywearing, or just a little fun, there is a VIP session for you! VIP sessions are usually released a month before the event and they sell out fast, so be sure to watch your local MC Facebook page to get one quick! (Atlanta and Chicago are sold out at this time, but check the local MC page to place an ISO post if you still want one!)
  1. Giveaways and gift bags. Okay, so this isn’t really what MC is all about, but I found a few of my new favorite products in the gift bag, so I am grateful I got to sample some stuff for free. I also love that anyone with a pass gets entered into the giveaways at the end of the day—it’s a great way to see the latest and greatest in baby products, and maybe take one home.
  1. On-site hotel blocks. If you can snag a room near the convention, do it. The rates are great, and you can’t beat having a place to crash after such a busy day! It’s really worth it to stick around so you can enjoy everything MC has to offer!
  1. Sleep consultations. Okay, I realize that sleep is a bit of a white whale for any parent with a child under the age of 5, but any help is good, right? You typically have to sign up for sessions with the sleep consultant in advance, but this is a great way to get some practical, tailored advice to tweak your routine for at least a few minutes of extra shut-eye.
  1. Feeding lounge. I’m all about nursing in public, but with a squirmy toddler, I know I am going to need a more distraction-free area to nurse. Thankfully, MC offers a very comfortable nursing area with nursing pillows, milk storage samples, and everything you need to stay comfortable while feeding your babe. These zones are also only for mamas and babies, so those of you who feel shy about NIP will have a safe space free from unwanted looks!
  1. Resource areas. I cloth diaper and babywear, and the top comments I get from other people are along the lines of “that looks confusing and labor-intensive.” 10 minutes in one of the resource areas at MommyCon, and these people would be singing a different tune. You can touch and feel all the different cloth diapers and baby carriers at MommyCon, and there are helpful volunteers there who will explain the ins and outs to you. It’s a great way to connect with resources that help you have the most success possible. I learned how to wear my toddlers in a wrap at the last MommyCon, and I am excited to see how the Cloth Diaper Resource Area and Babywearing Lounge can help me learn even more this year at MommyCon Chicago!
  1. Kid-friendly areas. Here’s the deal—a lot of parents don’t go to conventions because it’s impossible to bring the kids. You either have to pay for childcare (eek $$$$$!) or pray that your kidlets don’t make a peep during the presentations. MommyCon has so many kid-friendly spaces, from the play areas in the back of each presentation room, to the Little Dippers Creative Station. Your kids will have plenty to experience and do while you are there, and the Chicago event even has a little day camp for potty-trained littles!
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  1. Exhibitors. I LOVE to see the new products that are out there and I love to connect with small businesses that support parenting in all its forms. Plus, it’s nice to pick up a few extra cloth menstrual pads or a new sippy cup while I am there. The vendors are all so easy to talk to, and they are willing to let you try out and explore their products at the booth before you buy!!!
  1. Great Speakers. The lineup of speakers at MommyCon gets better and better every year. What started as a small effort by some well-known bloggers has now branched out to include famous speakers on a wide variety of topics. This year, I am excited to see MommyCon address postpartum and early reading topics as they respond to feedback to incorporate more of what attendees want and need at a convention designed especially for parents.
  1. Connecting with a community of other parents. Lets face it—parenting is hard. It’s nice to share moments with other parents, talk about diapers, trade wrapping tips, and more without weird looks and judgment. You will meet new friends and connect with people who are as into parenting as you are!

I am writing this post as a member of the MommyCon Blogger Collective, which means I have a coupon code to help you save on admission!

Just enter CRADLEDINJOY16 at checkout, and you will get a $5 discount on tickets for any MommyCon general admission ticket that is not currently in presale or otherwise discounted! Ready to find the right MommyCon for you?  See what each one has to offer and buy tickets today!  early bird pricing doesn’t last forever. Plus, your general admission ticket makes you eligible to purchase VIP sessions, which I hear are AWESOME!

I’ll also be regularly updating on upcoming events, and especially when the Chicago schedule is released, since I’ll be there!

Here are the dates for this year:

Atlanta – February 6
Chicago – March 5
Seattle – April 2
Austin – June 25
DC – July 23
Costa Mesa – August 20
Orlando – September 3
San Jose – October 29

5 Self-Care Resolutions

I was about 6 months postpartum with my first child when my husband came home from work and said, “Rachel, you need to start wearing real pants again.” Because, you see, I was living in pajama pants and maternity jeans. Yes, the newborn stage is full of excitement and busyness, to the point where 6 months flies by and you are still so focused on the baby that you forgot you weren’t wearing “real” pants. For your edification, here is what I am talking about:

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Nursing tank and gym shorts: the go-to uniform for new mamas.

As I sit here with my second child approaching 18 months, I realize that motherhood has ahold of me!  No, I wear real jeans these days, but in the haze of sleepless nights (yes, the reality is that many kids don’t sleep for years, and anyone who is telling you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something), I realized that my self-care has been seriously lacking.

Am I saying I need to spend more days at the spa? No, though that would definitely be nice. For me, it’s about spending time as myself and recognizing the fact that motherhood isn’t my sole identity. So this year, I have resolved to spend more time on self-care. And this means:

5 minutes on my face: Motherhood (and years working in the Florida Keys–ahem WEAR SUNSCREEN) has aged me. Not in a bad way, but enough that I want to start caring for my skin. So, I’m going to start a skincare routine, and I’m going to at least wear a little makeup (with SPF). By the end of the year, I hope to regularly be wearing contacts again, too. When I was in law school, I did my makeup every day. Not that I am worried about appearances, but it is 5 minutes of pampering that helps me feel more like a professional and less like a haggard mama.

Brushing twice a day:  When my first was born, the midwife told me that if I got a shower and brushed my teeth, that would be my new definition of a good day. Nearly 4 years later, and I’m still not great about twice-a-day brushing. But I know that dental health and cardiac health are related, and while I’m still trying to figure out ways to lose the baby weight, brushing my teeth is a simple way I can help improve my health that doesn’t require a lot of time.

Morning meditation and stretching: I’ve read that just 5 minutes a day of meditation can seriously change the way you look at the day. So, again, I won’t be busting out week-long yoga workshops anytime soon, but I can take 5 minutes to set my intention for the day and prepare my body for the often demanding task of being a parent to two very busy boys.

Take a relaxing bath once a week: Okay, so this one is purely pampering. A bath reminds me to slow down and breathe, and gives me uninterrupted time to myself. Obviously, this one requires the support of my husband, who can keep the littles from intruding.

More time away: My children are old enough that they don’t need me 24/7. And as they get older, I need to touch base with the part of me that has hobbies and interests outside of parenthood. This means more time away, whether it’s a crafting retreat or a simple girls’ night. My husband is awesome and I know the kids will be fine in his hands while I get a much needed break to re-connect with myself!

So those are my self-care resolutions for this year. What are yours?

MOMMYCON 2016 and Coupon Code!!!! (+Atlanta Spotlight)

Wow!  It’s 2016 and that means more Mommy Con action! Remember how I got to go this year, and I only spent half the day at the convention, and it was awesome? Oh yeah!!

Oh and something else? Everyone gets a free goodie bag just for attending, filled with tons of cool new products! Plus, you can wander the exhibition hall to find even more goodies and samples and innovations for birth, babies, and parenthood!

 

Atlanta is up first on February 6th from 9a m until 5pm at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth,and just look at the schedule! 

Here are some of the sessions I am most excited about:

 Cloth Diapering 101 with Cotton Babies (okay okay I wish it were GroVia hosting but I’ll take any cloth love!)–we have saved so much money cloth diapering, that I suggest everyone at least look into it, especially since it means cute fluffy butts, fewer rashes, and earlier potty training!

Babywearing 101/ Wrapping 101/Toddler wearing/Ring Sling 101 are always winners, especially since baby wearing has kept us active and saved our backs!

Postpartum Rehab--oh yeah! It’s about time we started talking about how to care for ourselves after birth–we need to protect our bodies and I am super excited that this session is being offered! SOOOOOO hoping they offer this at Chicago!

Scaredy Cat Potty Training with Super Undies–dude, we all need a little help in the potty training department. Enough said.

Learning Through Sensory Play--I seriously wish we had gone to a session like this with our first child–sensory play expands the mind in so many ways, plus it is fun!

How to Create a Lifelong Reader by Scholastic–if you know me, you know that I am a HUGE advocate for childhood reading. Again, I hope this session is offered at Chicago as well–you can never have too many books, and I love finding new ways to get my boys interested in reading!

When you aren’t attending sessions, you can wander around the exhibit hall, take your kids to the craft corner, play with diapers and baby carriers in the demo areas, and so much more. Plus, your ticket enters you into the end-of-day giveaways!!! I always find some new product I love or brand to share at these events, and I hope you do too!

Plus, it’s nice to hang out with other parents in a family-friendly environment–kids are welcome, there are plenty of diaper changing stations, there is a private nursing lounge, and toys in every room!

And now, ready for the coupon code???

Just enter CRADLEDINJOY16 at checkout, and you will get a $5 discount on tickets for any MommyCon general admission ticket that is not currently in presale or otherwise discounted! Ready to find the right MommyCon for you?  Go here to see what each one has to offer and buy tickets today!  early bird pricing doesn’t last forever. Plus, your GA ticket makes you eligible to purchase VIP sessions, which I hear are AWESOME!

I’ll also be regularly updating on upcoming events, and especially when the Chicago schedule is released, since I’ll be there!

Here are the dates for this year:

Atlanta – February 6
Chicago – March 5
Seattle – April 2
Austin – June 25
DC – July 23
Costa Mesa – August 20
Orlando – September 3
San Jose – October 2

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