Archive for the ‘Kate Cunha’ Category

Saying “No” at the Holidays

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Saying No at the HolidaysTis’ the season for holiday parties; family dinners, office shindigs, fete’s with friends, the list goes on and on. November and December are definitely friendly to the social butterfly. What these activities are not friendly to, though, is a child’s routine and/or bedtime.

There can be a lot of pressure from outside to attend these events and there can be a lot of internal guilt on your part as well, especially when it comes to family parties. I remember clearly when my daughter was younger, back when we simply couldn’t be flexible with her routine and had to be home for bedtime, feeling a lot of pressure to go to those things anyway. I’d hear “So-and-so is bringing their child. They’ll just lay her down in an extra bed.”  Or, “It won’t hurt her to stay up late just once.” But with my daughter, it did hurt. It hurt us, badly. Sleep was so critical that almost nothing else mattered. Mine was not the child that would easily fall asleep anywhere other than her crib (and even that wasn’t easy). Mine was not the child that could fall asleep in the car and be transferred to the bed. 5 minutes of sleep in the car could possibly mean hours of screaming and fussing before she’d go back down for the night. I remember when she was about 1.5 years old and we risked staying late at a holiday party, only to have my husband sitting in the back seat desperately trying to keep her awake for the 10 minutes it took to get home. Was it really that worth it?

I felt a lot of guilt over saying no to so many social invites when my daughter was young, but I don’t feel that way anymore. It’s OK to say no to family invites that will have your kids at each other’s throats in a car for 5 hours. It’s OK to decline a holiday party that will keep you out past your child’s bedtime. It’s perfectly fine to have a few years of stay at home holidays. It’s OK to just say no when it comes to your sanity and the sanity of your family.

In just 3 years we’ve reached a point where we can be flexible in her routine and we can occasionally stay out past her bedtime. She’s old enough now that we feel comfortable accepting party invites and actually look forward to socializing as a family. We’re fine getting on a plane and spending the holidays on the other side of the country. So was it really so terrible saying no for a few years, when the benefit to us was so significant? No, it wasn’t.

Explain to friends and family that you’d love to come to their party, but that at this stage in your life, your family comes first. Or don’t. You don’t need to justify your choices. A polite “Thanks, but we can’t make it this year” is just fine too.

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW and is mom to one three year old girl. She’s looking forward to spending the holidays with her in-laws this year.

How We Do Bedtime

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

How We Do BedtimeMy daughter was a rotten sleeper. When she was 8 weeks old we started a bedtime routine and clung to it like barnacles to a rock in the hopes that it might help her sleep. While I’m not sure it helped her, I do feel that it helped us. It gave us solid way to end the night after what was often a chaotic day.

Today, though, my daughter is 3 and is finally sleeping through the night regularly. This has allowed us to ease up on the strict routine and exchange it with something a bit more fluid. Even so, we still very much do have one.

At 7pm she’s sent to her room for a little independent play or playtime with Dad, who she typically doesn’t see until just before dinner. At 7:30 playtime winds down, she gets into pajamas and is sent off to the bathroom for one last use of the potty and brushing teeth. Then comes the one part of the routine that has never changed: all three of us settle down to read books. We have read to her, together, since she was far too little to understand. When she was a baby we had a futon in her room (for, you know, those nights when it’s just easier to sleep in there) so we would sit together and read to her. The futon was eventually replaced by a rocking chair, and now we all crawl under her bunk bed into her “reading nook.” We read two to three books and then she climbs up into bed.

Once there, she HAS to have her sip of water. If we forget, she’ll definitely let us know. Then she’s tucked in with one stuffed friend and ends the night with a story. Her favorite thing right now is that one of us tells her a completely made up story. Sometimes they’re stories about her adventures, sometimes they’re silly stories about our cat, and sometimes they make no sense at all. She doesn’t care, just as long as she gets a story.

Then, theoretically, lights go out and we’re done. Some nights she goes right to sleep, other nights (like tonight, as I type) involve a few trips back in as she struggles to wind down. Even so, nights are much easier and calmer than ever before. Now, I truly do feel that a routine helps her sleep. Since she’s older and understands what we’re doing, knowing each step and what follows really helps her move smoothly through the evening. Bedtime fussing is reduced, and on the nights when we accidentally miss a step, she has a harder time settling down to sleep. So even though we’re not as firm on the routine as before, I still firmly believe in its benefits.

Kate Cunha is a mother of one 3 year old girl. Sleep is a big deal in her house!

Pumpkin Projects for Baby

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Pumpkin Ideas for BabyHalloween is just around the corner and I’m excited! I love Halloween. I love the decorations, the costumes, all of it. I’m particularly fond of pumpkin carving and can’t wait until I can introduce that tradition to my daughter. But, she’s 3, so it’s safe to say that I won’t be handing over the carving knife just yet. So, what can you do with the younger members of the family that will still let them join in the pumpkin fun?

For the past two years I’ve let me daughter “carve” a pumpkin with paint. The process is pretty simple. First, you tape off a pattern onto the pumpkin. Masking tape or painters tape both work well. Just make sure the pumpkin has already warmed to room temperature. I’ve had the best luck by taping off a large section, drawing onto the tap, and using an exacto knife to cut away the excess, leaving the pattern behind.

Once you’ve completed the taping, it’s time to bring in baby! Give your baby a few colors of paint and encourage them to have the time of their lives on the pumpkin! I recommend choosing just 2 or 3 colors to avoid having all of the paint colors mix into brown, and you may want to consider using a containment device such at the high chair, just to make sure your little Picasso doesn’t paint your hallway as well.

We’ve gone this route the past two years and my daughter loves it. But if paint isn’t your thing, here are a few more ideas that let the littles get in on the Halloween fun.

  • Mr./Mrs. Potato Head pieces can be popped through the skin of a pumpkin to make hilarious, baby friendly jack-o-lanterns
  • There are numerous stickers kits that would be a lot of fun
  • Cut out a variety of shapes from tissue paper and use modge podge to glue them on
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, how about a glitter pumpkin!

Whatever you do, have fun! There are so many ways for every member of the family to participate in the Halloween festivities, no matter the age!

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW with her husband and their 3 year old daughter. She was a dirt loving, tree climbing kid who grew into a terrible gardener who loves nature. 

I’m Down with Dirt

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

I'm Down with DirtMy child eats dirt. She ate dirt today, in fact. When a baby does it, you get it; they’re exploring their world. When a 3-year-old eats dirt? You wonder if they have any taste buds at all. But, for all my lack of inclination to eat dirt myself, I’m totally ok with the fact that she has, from time to time.

Here’s why:

  1. Dirt is a rite of passage for kids. It’s fun to get dirty. It’s fun to bake mud pies, to dig for buried treasure, to drive trucks through the dirt, and to build sand castles. I also take a dirty kid as a sign that that child was fully invested in his or her play. They let their imagination take over and didn’t stop one moment to worry what mom might say about their clothes, or the fact that they may be earning a one-way ticket into the bath. They just played. They released endorphins, relaxed, and probably came in happy. (It’s a good idea to send your child out in play clothes, though. I’m about as big of a fan of getting a dirt stain out of good clothes as anyone else.)
  2. Dirt is also good for the immune system. I am 100 percent ok with contact with the public world. I’m probably the most unconcerned mother ever when using public toilets. Sure, I take the proper precautions. We wash hands, but not with antibacterial soap, just the regular stuff, but I don’t carry hand sanitizer and I pick toys up of the ground without thought. I’m trying to teach her about how germs spread and what she needs to do to stay healthy, but I also view getting dirty as one of those steps toward staying healthy. I’ve long embraced the idea that the more we come into contact with, germ-wise, the more our bodies are prepared to fight everything off. Science tends to support this deduction as well.
  3. Dirt is outside. If your child came home dirty, she was probably OUTSIDE. Outside, in nature. She was connecting with nature in some way. I personally feel that we’re losing our connection with nature and would like to inspire my daughter to appreciate what it is to connect with the earth, with the plants and trees and animals around her. So, we garden together. We go on hikes through drippy woods. We flip over rocks in search of roly poly bugs and we beachcomb for seashells. That also means I carry towels in the car to wipe off muddy shoes and often vacuum sand from the floor, but I’m ok with that.

So that’s why I’m down with dirt. What about you? Has your child tasted a mud pie or two?

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW with her husband and their 3 year old daughter. She was a dirt loving, tree climbing kid who grew into a terrible gardener who loves nature. 

Back Carry Basics

Monday, August 31st, 2015

IMAG0620So you’ve been wearing your baby for a while now, are very comfortable with front carries and feel that you’re ready to move baby onto your back. Where do you begin?

First, unless you are an experienced baby wearer and experienced wrapper, back carries are typically only recommended once your child is 6 months or older and is able to sit independently. Since you have less visual connection with a child on your back, you want him to have the muscle tone that allows him to sit up straight without slouching. You must also only use carriers that are safe for back carries, such as woven wraps, buckle carriers, and mei tais. Stretchy wraps and water wraps/slings are not safe for back carries and should not be used. Stretchy wraps, such as a Moby, do not offer the support necessary and could allow baby to lean or fall. Water products are typically designed for front carry, water use only.

If your child and carrier meet those criteria, you can now begin to practice back carries. Always start by practicing with a spotter, someone to help you should you need it, and practice over a soft surface, such as your bed. You want to first get comfortable moving baby to your back in a safe environment before attempting to do so out and about. Practicing with experienced help, such as at a BWI meeting local to you is a great start, if possible. Another good idea is to practice moving a doll onto your back and into your carrier before trying with your baby.

There are a number of ways to get baby onto your back, and how you do it will part be up to preference and part due to the type of carrier you are using. Below I’ll link to a few good instructional videos that may help you with your particular carrier, but of course, this isn’t an all-inclusive list.

  • SSC – Soft Structured Carrier – Many moms prefer the hip scoot method of transferring baby, as it has more of a secure feel to it. Personally, I was always a fan of the superman toss before my daughter was old enough to just climb on up. If neither of those feel quite secure enough for you, try this method that involves always having the chest clip buckled for additional security.
  • Mei Tai – The hip scoot works just as well for a mei tai, or you can start out with baby on your front.
  • Woven Wrap – There are many ways to get your baby onto your back when using a woven wrap. You may prefer the hip scoot (again!), or the santa toss, or another version of superman. This video shows a number of examples.

You may notice that I did not include ring slings. While there are ways to use a ring sling for a back carry, they are only recommended for advanced wearers. Back carries with a ring sling are not for beginners.

Back carries can take a lot of practice to get comfortable with. As I mentioned, if you can meet with a babywearing educator at a BWI meeting or other babywearing meeting near you, that’s your best first step toward learning to back carry. Soon you’ll be on your way to a whole new world of babywearing!

Hip Scoot 

Superman Toss

Full Buckle Back Transfer

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW with her husband and daughter. She is quite sure she doesn’t get it right all of the time.