Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Guest Post: Spoiling Someone Else’s Kids April 13, 2012

By Heather Smith

Whether you made the decision to not have children or it was made for you, more than likely there is a little kid somewhere that has your heart; it may be a niece or a nephew, a godson or your friend’s child. Whoever this child may be to you, you love them and you want to show them that.

But what is more fun than being the ‘cool aunt’? Here are some sure fire ways spoil someone else’s kids and probably annoy their parents:

Trips:  Be the crazy and fun grownup or the silly godparent that takes junior to see that silly new cartoon movie or to get ice cream that is piled up too high. Don’t forget about water parks, zoos and children museums. You bring out the kid in the kid. Don’t forget the souvenirs, especially the ones that make lots and lots of noise!

Toys:  Oh joy the toys! The must haves and the wants must be fulfilled as the spoiler. This doesn’t mean you have to wait until a holiday or a birthday to shower them with the newest video game or the latest princess game. More sporadic and random the gift giving is, the better. Your goal: clutter someone else’s living room and be the queen of queens through the child’s eyes.

Candy:  Always keep candy on you. Not only is it a great idea for you and your mid-day sweet tooth, but having candy on you is an excellent way to butter up that butterball. Candy can be used as a prize or an excellent bribing technique. Either way you will have the kid eating out of the palm of your hand. Literally.

Use your words:  Yes trips, candy and toys may be fun, but in all seriousness, when it comes down to spoiling a little one, using words is the biggest form of showing your love. Spoiling doesn’t mean giving them trivial things that they want. Telling them you love them and that you are there for them will stick around with them longer than any piece of candy or trip to the zoo. And remember if you say these things, you better follow up. We all know that actions speak louder than words.

Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites, and offers site design advice for Hire a Nanny. She can be available at H.smith7295 [at] gmail [dot] com.


It Got Me Thinking…About Picky Eaters March 20, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

I called my sister’s house just before dinnertime last night and was greeted with sniffles. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “Someone is disappointed with tonight’s dinner selection.” Really? So now the 3-year-old won’t eat pasta with cheese, and his older brother refuses anything green (i.e., vegetables).

I don’t know how my sister keeps it up; I’d be a basket case if this was a regularly occurring reaction in my kitchen. My cooking may not be worthy of three stars from Michelin every night, but no one cries. And, if I let them, my two dogs would eat any and all leftovers.

Count this among the perks of living in a childfree home.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Tonight she’s making Chinese Chicken Salad for dinner.


Book Review: Savvy Auntie June 16, 2011

Melanie Notkin created the Savvy Auntie website as a gathering place for childless and childfree women who play an important role in the lives of other people’s children. It’s a big shout out to those of us who share our time with nieces or nephews, or are “aunties-by-choice” to the children of friends and family. Now she’s written a book by the same name.

In Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and All Women Who Love Kids, Notkin quickly dispels the myth that women without children are lonely, bitter, and don’t like kids. She refers to herself as a PANK – “Professional Aunt, No Kids,” and says, “I don’t have kids, but I’ve got five amazing nieces and nephews by relation, a beautiful goddaughter, a fabulous career, amazing friends, I travel a ton, and I always go to the best restaurants in the city.” Far from bitter and lonely!

Notkin keeps this fun-loving tone throughout the book, with silly tidbits, such as how to say “Aunt” in 28 different languages, how to throw a killer 1st birthday party, and her Auntiescopes, which define auntie types by birth sign (and are dead accurate – at least for Aries Aunts!) But Notkin balances this with practical information and useful advice about taking care of other people’s children, finding age-appropriate gifts, and answering those awkward questions kids often ask their aunties. She even discusses how to deal with other people’s good news when you’re still dealing with your own grief and also offers some comebacks for those prying questions people ask about why we don’t have kids of our own.

Savvy Auntie is a book I wish I’d given when I was 15, when my first nephew was born, but it still makes for a fun read 20-something years later.


It Got Me Thinking…About Happily Ever After February 28, 2011

Filed under: Childless Not By Choice,Children,Family and Friends — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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By Kathleen Guthrie

My two oldest nieces, ages 8 and 10, recently appeared in a local theater production of Into the Woods. I saw it on Broadway 20 years ago, loved it, but had forgotten that the central story is about the Baker and his Wife and their search for items to break a curse…their curse of not being able to conceive a child. Yeah. A musical about infertility. Good times.


As we waited for the show to start, the gentleman sitting next to me asked which cast members I had come to see. I pointed to the girls’ names in the program, and he pointed to the name of his niece. But it wasn’t until after curtain calls, when he congratulated me on having such talented daughters, that I realized he thought I was the proud momma, not the proud aunt.


And this got me thinking…. Growing up, my siblings and I took turns performing on stage and in sporting events, then sitting in the audience or the bleachers to cheer for each other. My parents attended almost every event, so naturally I assumed I would one day be the mom handing out programs, running the box office, or yelling my lungs out as my kid kicked the winning goal. I was sure I would have much to be proud of. It never occurred to me that I would be denied the pleasure of hearing someone say, “She must get it from you.”


“I wish…,” the characters sing in the play, and I know it would be so easy to dwell on my curse. Instead, I choose to create my own version of happily ever after.



Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Her articles have appeared in AAA’s Westways, GRIT, Real Simple, and 805 Living magazines. Read “How to Be the World’s Best Aunt Ever” on