Updated: Nov 10, 2020
Apologies for being a little MIA recently. I’ve been in the throes of morning sickness all day everyday (Surprise! We are expecting!) and it’s been kicking my butt! All this, while trying to keep some level of secrecy around my condition until the second trimester and now here we are!
I attended MommyCon at the end of my first trimester and in spite of the morning sickness, I had a wonderful time.
Some of you saw my posts on various social media outlets last month and have reached out to ask me,
“What is MommyCon?”
Well, I’m here to tell you about my experience and give you my top ten tips for attending MommyCon Chicago.
According to MommyCon.com, “MommyCon is a nationwide convention series dedicated to creating and nurturing a community of parents and parents-to-be in celebration of natural parenting.”
Whether you are already a natural-minded “crunchy” parent or are just looking to learn some new parenting ideas and see some brilliant baby and toddler products, MommyCon will be a great experience for you.
Expectant parents can gain valuable knowledge and insider tips for when baby arrives - get ready for mind blowing information!
MommyCon.com describes the event as “[taking] a gentle and positive approach to educating parents about the emotional and physical benefits of natural birthing, breastfeeding and babywearing. [The MommyCon Team] advocates values of holistic health, eco-friendly diapering, child safety standards and procedures, and female self-care and wellness.” Toting a “community of support, acceptance and non-judgement for women journeying through parenthood.”
I can speak from my own experience when I say that MommyCon is everything it claims to be and more. So let me walk you through my weekend!
On Friday, my friend Becca and I left for the convention center. We traveled together because it’s more fun! Becca is the one who got me to go to MommyCon Chicago last year. I had heard of the event before and wanted to attend since I was pregnant with Halfsquat nearly six years ago but anxiety around attending the event alone had always gotten in the way. When she invited me along last year, I jumped on the opportunity. It was a blast and with one year under my belt, I knew I wanted to attend again.
We bought Premium Tickets which meant that we had the privilege of attending special Friday sessions as well as the Sip & Shop. Friday’s Sip & Shop is a great opportunity to shop the convention floor (drink in hand) before the huge crowd of regular ticket holders arrives on Saturday.
Becca and I made it in time to attend the Sip & Shop but had to miss the Friday sessions due to our husbands’ work schedules. It’s a small price to pay since each of them agreed to be on their own with a two and five year old all weekend so we could enjoy mommy time. (Kids and babies are welcome at MommyCon but we decided to go it alone this year.)
Upon our arrival, we parked in the parking garage ($15/day unless you get your parking validated by an area restaurant,) checked into the Embassy Suites Hotel across from the convention center, dropped off our bags and our coats, and made our way to the motherland.
At the registration desk, a cheerful MommyCon volunteer scanned our tickets and gave us our designated goodie bags. I had signed up for a Premium Toddler themed bag and Becca had done the same but paid for an upgrade that got her a free JuJuBe diaper bag.
As we walked into the convention hall, we took pictures at the selfie booths and the sweetest woman with one of those warm southern accents approached us from her booth and asked if we’d like her to take our picture together. We quickly obliged and then spent some time talking with her afterward. She gave us a cd of her music and told us about two books she’d written. I could’ve talked with her all night. I love talking to fellow creatives! I made a note to myself to attend her Sunday Session on writing your birth story and we moved to the Sip & Shop bar for drinks.
At the Sip & Shop, Becca ordered a drink and I ordered one of the special MommyCon Mocktails because #pregnant. We walked the floor scouting out items we might want to purchase before the weekend was over.
My budget was low, comparatively speaking. Some moms save all year to spend the big bucks at this convention and I cannot blame them one bit! But, because of my lower budget, I knew I had to be choosy.
Some things I came across on Friday that made the WANT IT list but not the PURCHASE NOW list were:
Preggo Pickles - Preggo Pickle makes pickles with the pregnant woman’s taste buds in mind. I have never liked pickles. UNTIL NOW. The Crispy Fresh flavor was good but the Spicy Sweets had my pregnant mouth watering. I may have sampled 3 times. And honestly, I might have bought a jar of these had they not sold out before Sunday!
Latch Pal - This thing is just plain useful. They say it’s Nursing’s Breast Friend and I won’t argue with that.
Elvie Pump - The world’s first silent wearable breast pump. Take my money.
Swaddelini - I saw this in action with a new friend’s newborn on Saturday night and will be ordering a few of these before Tiny’s arrival date.
Busy Box Buddy - This carefully tailored box of age appropriate activities for children are a homeschooling mom’s dream.
Elev8ed Cre8ion Ultimate Parent Backpack - This bag holds everything. EVERYTHING.
We returned to our hotel after the Sip & Shop to look through our goodies and figure out dinner. On the way, we passed the hotel bar where they were having a happy hour with free drinks for guests between 5:30 and 7:30. It was just after 7 so we indulged. Cherry coke for me.
Upon returning to our room, we opened our goodie bags. Becca gave me all her tiny baby items since she would not be needing them. And then, this generous woman… upon receiving a diaper bag she already had at home, donated her freebie to me. This was so awesome because I was in desperate need of a new diaper bag and had planned on spending my entire budget on one at the event. #thanksgirl
Here’s a picture of my #FridayFreebies
We looked at the food options nearby and decided on a BBQ place called Bub City. The food was very good. I highly recommend the tots. We also had our parking validated for Friday which meant saving $15 on the parking garage. Yes!
Saturday consisted of free hotel breakfast, Starbucks, shopping, and a morning session called “C is for Consent” emphasizing the importance of teaching children the concept of body autonomy and consent from birth onward. I really enjoyed this session. It is a subject I’m already passionate about and I loved hearing new tips and tricks.
We went back to the hotel for lunch and made pb&j sandwiches. The food at MommyCon can be pricey so this year we came prepared to spend our carefully saved money on dinner only.
After lunch, we made sure to check in at the Buy Buy Baby booth for some raffle tickets. We tried to attend another session on Raising Socially Conscious Children. Sounds great right? Imagine our disappointment when the speaker didn’t show!
More time for shopping and networking!
At 2pm we were in the crowd waiting for the Buy Buy Baby raffle to begin. Becca won another JuJuBe diaper bag! Can you believe the diaper bags on this chick?! I didn’t win and if you look through the professional MommyCon pics from this year, you may spot my grouchy unwinning face in the crowd. Embarrassing. I’ll keep a more positive attitude next year when my hormones have calmed down some.
I made two purchases on Saturday. The first I had scouted out on Friday, an amber teething bracelet by Beaming Amber Sun and an impulse buy, a cute and comfortable nursing bra by Behr Bras. The floor closed at 3 and we went back to the hotel to rest and sort through our Saturday goodies.
Here’s a picture of my #saturdayswag:
Prior to MommyCon, we had been part of the MommyCon Duscussion Group on Facebook which gave us an inside scoop on special events happening during this year’s MommyCon. One of the opportunities we were lucky enough to snag was a ticket to the JuJuBe Pink Ladies Get Together (PLG2G.) This is a Saturday evening event to mingle with other JuJuBe brand fans. There are games and giveaways and snacks.
We attended the JuJuBe PLG2G and had a blast. The snacks were tasty and the games were fun. We got to know the women at our table and during a bingo game, Becca and I each one a JuJuBe Gift Card! To top off the event, everyone got to leave the event with a free JuJuBe Be Quick bag. So generous!
Afterward, we stopped at happy hour in the hotel lobby. While in line for drinks, we inadvertently ended up in conversation with one of JuJuBe’s newest designers. He asked us our ideas and we got to nerd out about Harry Potter and Disney diaper bags.
Hint: The new Harry Potter patterns launch this summer!
After finishing our drinks, we went to the Sugar Factory for dinner. Another opportunity to validate our parking but we forgot to bring our parking pass!
Sugar Factory was so decadent! We saw fancy drinks and desserts that were so beautiful it almost seemed a shame to eat them. If only I’d been craving sugary treats… but all this baby had me wanting was a bowl of fettuccine alfredo. I ordered a s’mores hot chocolate for good measure but couldn’t finish it.
After returning to the hotel, we ran into some acquaintances from earlier in the day and were invited to play games in their room. We had a blast bonding with our new friends until 2am. Moms know how to party! #WhatHappensAtMommyConStaysAtMommyCon
On Sunday, after our free hotel breakfast and a stop at Starbucks, we went to our morning sessions. We checked out the session Pen to Paper: Write Your Own Birth Story with author of the book Born in the Bed You Were Made: One Family’s Journey from Cesarean to Home Birth, Brooklyn James.
(Be prepared to read my birth stories soon! I’ve been empowered!)
We shopped some, went back to our room to pack a lunch and checked out of the hotel. We ate on the showroom floor and were waiting in the crowd at 2pm for the second day of Buy Buy Baby raffles. Sunday was my lucky day! I won a Chicco NextFit ZIP CAR SEAT! #worththewait
Here is a picture of my #SundaySwag
I checked my new car seat into the coat check for the final hour of the event. We did our last round of shopping and made our way to the car with tons of goodies in tow.
What a wonderful weekend!
So, without further ado, here are my
Top Ten Tips for Attending MommyCon Chicago!
1. Join the MommyCon Chicago Discussion Group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/mommyconchicago/?ref=share This will give you the inside scoop for when tickets become available and how to get involved in special events. It’s also just a fun group and a great way to meet other MommyCon Mamas.
2. Buy Premium or VIP tickets and buy them early. Seriously, don’t miss the boat on these. www.mommycon.com
3. Book your hotel early and make sure to choose a room under the MommyCon Chicago room block. (Some years they’ve done room drops with extra gooodies for attendees!)
4. Stay at Embassy Suites. The rooms provide a living area for hanging with friends while your roommate or children sleep in the bedroom, there’s a fridge in the room (nursing/pumping mamas take note!) and the breakfast is free. Oh and we can’t forget happy hour at the hotel bar!
5. Plan the sessions you want to attend and write down your schedule ahead of time. This will prevent wasted time that could be spent shopping or socializing and You be sure to get to all the sessions you want to attend.
6. Fill out the sweepstakes forms at the various booths. There are tons of giveaways and opportunities to leave a winner!
7. Make friends. Talk to the people near you at sessions or booths. You’ll never regret making a lifelong connection! Even you, fellow introverts!
8. Make reservations for dinner at nearby restaurant. After a long day of MommyCon shopping, no one wants to stand around for an hour or more to be seated at a restaurant. (Don’t forget to have your parking validated while you're there!)
9. Budget wisely. Start saving money now. Know how much you have to spend, walk the floor and see all the amazing products available before you make any purchases. Keep track of your spending and don’t forget to budget in your meals and hotel expenses.
10. HAVE FUN!