easy transitional maternity style

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Easy Transitional Maternity Style

One of the most fun parts of pregnancy is the wardrobe. It’s hard to pass up an opportunity to shop. And it’s just fun picking out clothes that compliment your baby bump. Almost from the minute the two pink lines showed up on the pregnancy test, both times, I started looking up maternity style inspiration.

Unfortunately, it can also be kind of stressful, especially in the first trimester, when most people are not quite ready to tell the world yet. Your body starts changing so fast! This time around, it’s surprising to see how fast my bump is growing.

I’m not quite as excited to jump on the maternity clothes bandwagon this time, either. They don’t have the reputation for being the most chic. Plus it’s getting harder to convince myself to spend money on clothes I will only for such a relatively short time.

But never fear! There are many ways to stay true to your style, and I’m happy to share what I’m learning. There are some easy transitional maternity style pieces that don’t feel matronly, and last through more stages of pregnancy than traditional (and sometimes pricy) maternity clothes.

Tee Shirt Dresses

Easy Transitional Maternity Style - Tee Shirt Dresses

Guys guys guys. Tee shirt dresses. If you know me, I’m typically more of a tops-and-jeans kind of girl. They say dresses are so simple and easy, but they never seemed that way to me. Until now. Tee shirt dresses are game changers. They really are just as easy as you hope they will be. It feels to me a bit more dressy than tees and shorts, but not more fussy, if that makes sense.

And for maternity – they are roomy enough to adapt to a changing pregnant body. This tee dress and this trapeze dress are two of my faves are from Target and this short-sleeved one is from Loft – I will unabashedly be wearing these on repeat all summer.

Please note: they come in a lot of styles, and have different names. I’ve found that “fitted” tee dresses don’t work as well for me; but styles that are called “trapeze” or “swing” dresses in a comfy knit are just right. The Loft dress I have is a rayon/spandex blend that is the best fabric I’ve ever encountered. (Liz Lange has a striped tee dress at Target that is the same material.)

Here are a bunch of t-shirt dresses at way different price points:

Tunics

Easy Transitional Maternity Style - Tunics

I am so grateful to have found a couple longer length, flowy tunics that made hiding my growing bump in the first trimester not as scary. Scoop-neck and v-neck tunics disguise chest growth (which happens pretty rapidly too). And they’re so comfortable. This linen-blend tunic from Old Navy fit just right. (I got one in black and one in gray.)

To kick up your look a bit, add some fun accessories. I loved to wear mine with a statement necklace, a pretty-colored scarf, or a vest, like my olive green cargo vest. (I got mine from Target, but this one is similar.)

Here are some more options:

Basic Tees and Knit Pencil Skirts

Easy Transitional Maternity Style - Basic Tees and Knit Pencil Skirts

I went through a pencil skirt phase a couple years ago, and I’m glad I did. They are comfy, and dress up or down. I have a stretchy striped pencil skirt from Gap that has one of those foldable tops – the kind you can fold down, or wear fully over your stomach, which works perfectly for pregnancy. It’s been a go-to this pregnancy, and it’s neutral enough that it works with a lot of different tops.

A basic v-neck tee is my fave, and I mostly get them from Target, but they are a great staple that you can find lots of places.

More options:

Embroidered Top

I don’t have a picture of me in one, but one of my favorite things to wear during the last pregnancy was my J.Crew embroidered top. It was flowy and unstructured (so, changing body-friendly), and always felt pretty and a little more dressy than the norm.

They are great for summer in particular, because they’re usually loose and made of a cool, breathable material. I loved wearing mine with white jeans or even regular denim shorts.

Mine is old, but here are some ideas:

And of course, there’s always the belly band, to keep wearing your favorite jeans for as long as possible!

What do you recommend for dressing the bump? Any style solutions I missed?

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play dates and the socially anxious mom

Play Dates and the Socially Anxious Mom

A little over a year ago, we made the decision for me to stay home with Theo. It’s a surprisingly hard choice with a lot of factors (that’s a blog post for another time). But one of the factors I took into serious consideration was the fact that I am a socially anxious mom. For me, it takes an intentional, continued effort to be social with other moms. And that’s not really my forte.

Even now, it is so much easier for me as a stay-at-home mom to literally stay at home every day. I have all the excuses: I’m exhausted (and pregnant), I have too much stuff to do around the house, it’s raining. I can scurry to the grocery store, visit the self-checkout line, and never have to interact with another person all day.

Why does this happen? I’m scared. I can be so worried about looking stupid in front of other people, or them judging me, that I avoid social situations altogether. It makes me hesitate to talk too much or introduce myself. At events, I can tense up and keep to myself.

But let’s be real – I need that time so much. Time with other moms keeps me sane. It gives me a chance to swap stories and advice, and helps me to stay functioning socially. And then it is always good for Theo to learn how to share, react, recover, and interact with other kids. I don’t want him to face the anxiety I can feel.

Play dates and similar activities with other moms and kids can be straight-up intimidating for me, especially if there are a lot of people. So I’m learning practical ways to manage my fears, and sharing them with you today, just in case I’m not the only mama with social anxiety out there! Here are some tips for play dates and the socially anxious mom:

1. Practice with “safe” friends. There are some friends who know you so well, that you feel more at ease spending time with. It gives me a chance to interact without feeling the pressure of talking with someone new, or someone I don’t know very well. I try to get time with at least one of these friends a week.

2. Set up specific times and activities. It’s very easy for me to back out of generic “let’s hang out” times. But when I set a date to go to a story time, or a weekly group meet-up at a certain time, I’m more likely to be there.

3. Prepare yourself ahead of time. It helps me to know whom to expect at the activity, and what we’ll be doing. It also helps to get my mind ready to be there. For me, this means prayer. I pray to be confident, outward-focused, and present in that social situation. I find that it really does help me to let go of some of my fears.

4. Ask questions. I don’t love having all eyes on me in a conversation, even with only one other person. So I like to ask a lot of questions, and jump in where I can.

5. Take a minute with your child. Sometimes when I need a minute, it’s a good time for a snack, a diaper check, or a change of activity. Usually, things happen naturally too – an interaction from kid to kid doesn’t go well, my little guy wants to explore a different part of the park, etc. It’s a good chance to recharge and get back in the moment with other moms when you’re ready.

6. Team up. It is so hard to start talking to someone I don’t know! Luckily, kids make for good conversation starters. It’s easy for me to break the ice when we’re talking about our kids first. Or team up with a friend to introduce yourselves to someone new together.

The tendency I have to fight? Sticking with my little guy the whole time and avoiding other moms. And then sometimes it’s the other way around – Theo wants to go off and do his own thing, and I spend more of my time chasing him (when I’d prefer to hang with the mamas). It’s not easy! I’m always grateful when a mama comes to talk to me when I’m in that situation.

Do you struggle with social anxiety? What helps you?

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the ultimate guide to sponsored posts: ad networks

The Ultimate Guide to Sponsored Posts: Ad Networks

Welcome to the final installment of the Ultimate Guide to Sponsored Posts (delayed…so sorry!). I’ve had a lot of questions about how you make money from your blog, and the biggest way for me is sponsored posts. Today, I’m talking about blogger ad networks – how to join them, which ones there are, and what to expect. The past two posts have been on setting up your blog, and reaching out to brands.

First, how do you join ad networks?

Almost all ad networks require some sort of application. Some are more complicated than others, but most don’t take very long to fill out. They usually want to know your stats (page views + followers), a little about you and your blog, and they sometimes want to see examples of your work.

It took me a few attempts with some of the networks to be accepted, so don’t be discouraged if you have to try, try again. Luckily many of them will give you reasons why you were not accepted, so that you know what to work on for the next time you apply. Sometimes they require a certain amount of time before you re-apply as well.

What happens when you’re accepted?

Typically, you will need to fill out some sort of tax form, and give them information needed so you can get paid. Some of them work through PayPal, others will deposit money straight to your bank account, some will send you a check – they each work differently.

Many times you will need to apply for ad campaigns with different brands. To apply, you often need to give your updated stats, as well as your brilliant idea for how you will showcase the product – get creative so you stand out!

Opportunities come about in different ways – sometimes the network will contact you directly if they think they have an opportunity for you. Sometimes you have to look up different opportunities on a database and apply.

What ad networks are there, and what should I expect from them?

There are a TON of ad networks out there. I’ll share about the ones I have experience with – but there are definitely lots more. Check out this post for the biggest list I’ve seen.

Here’s my breakdown of of how I explain each group

Opportunities: how many campaign opportunities you can expect, and how to find them

Campaign Application Process: how to apply for individual campaigns

Online Portal: yes or no, and what it includes for you

Payment: a general idea of how much the network pays

Communication: how easy or difficult it is to get in touch with campaign managers during campaigns

Overall: my experience with the network

Clever Girls Collective

Opportunities: Many added weekly online and emailed out

Campaign Application Process: You seek out and apply for campaigns

Online Portal: Yes – includes applications for campaigns and campaign instructions

Payment: $$

Communication: I’ve always had a good experience getting in touch with managers

Overall: It took a while for me to get my first campaign, but once I did, I was able to participate in many. They have really fun and varied opportunities.

Collectively

Opportunities: They email you as ones that might be a good fit come up

Campaign Application Process: You can apply to campaigns as emailed to you

Online Portal: No – instructions and applications are emailed out

Payment: $$$ – based on individual blog stats, but still the highest for me

Communication: I haven’t had trouble getting in touch with managers

Overall: While I received many application opportunities in the past, I haven’t had quite as many campaigns with Collectively. I think they are a bit more selective. BUT their campaigns are always interesting, usually with some pretty big-name sponsors, and usually with a higher pay.

Influence Central

Opportunities: They come at random, and they send you opportunities that fit your blog and stats

Campaign Application Process: You seek out and apply to campaigns

Online Portal: Yes – instructions and applications found in portal

Payment: $

Communication: I have had more trouble trying to contact managers in this network

Overall: This is my most recent network. They seem to have a lot of opportunities for moms (including chances to try out strollers and car seats). I have had trouble getting in touch with managers, as I mentioned before, which can make campaigns more difficult.

Pollinate Media

Opportunities: Usually about two or three per week; emailed to members

Campaign Application Process: You apply to campaigns from weekly email

Online Portal: No – instructions and applications are emailed out

Communication: I haven’t had any trouble getting in touch with managers

Payment: $$

Overall: I’ve gotten a couple campaigns through Pollinate. Their community is really fun and easy to communicate with. They tend to have fun campaign opportunities, although not quite as many.

Social Fabric

Opportunities: many added daily online; can receive email updates

Campaign Application Process: you seek out and apply for campaigns

Online Portal: yes – includes applications for campaigns and campaign instructions

Communication: Each manager is different – some are more difficult to get in touch with than others

Payment: $

Overall: I think I had to apply two or three times to SoFab, but once I got in, I had no trouble getting campaigns. They have a lot of big name brands, mostly food with some beauty and personal products. They also have a lot of resources for bloggers with their SoFab University courses.

No matter what the experience has been, I recommend all of these networks. They each have different strengths and options for you. The first one I had a lot of success with was Social Fabric, and the others have come as my traffic has grown.

What experiences have you had with ad networks? What questions do you have?

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happy father’s day

Father's Day

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and it came up without warning. After weeks of weddings and wedding activities, a huge yard sale, a family trip, and morning sickness, it just kind of crept up on us. But it was a wonderful weekend all the same.

Happy Father’s Day to the guy who is so delighted just to come home and see us at the end of the day; who loves to see all Theo’s new “tricks”; who anticipates our needs, no matter how tired he is (so if I’m going nuts, he tells me to take a break).

He’s the one who mows the grass even though it’s his least favorite thing to do; who puts every effort into his tasks, but will also put it aside for us if we need him; who spoils us with gifts, but only asks for a simple card for Father’s Day (and opts to clean and organize as what he wants to do on “his” day.)

He’s also laugh-out-loud funny and the best just to spend time and talk with. He has incredible vision for his life and ours. Parenting is always a whirlwind, but he makes it fun and calms me down a lot.

I don’t know who Theo is going to turn out to be, but I know he has an amazing Dad to look up to, and that’s a pretty great start.

Father's Day