Archive for June, 2015

Summer Pool Safety

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

IMG_1992After a long winter, summer is finally here. In a lot of places though, warm days change pretty quickly into blistering hot days, and staying cool means finding water. Whether splash pad, pool or beach, though, water is also a huge risk, particularly for children. Here are some tips to keep your family safe this summer.

First, if you have a pool in your backyard, you absolutely NEED a 4-foot or higher fence all the way around with a self-closing gate that locks. Most zoning laws will require this, but even if your pool is grandfathered in this is a good idea. It should always be locked when not in use. For owners of both pools and spas, the drain needs to have a drain safety system installed. Without one, the suction from the drain can keep even adults under the water.

If you are out enjoying the water, your baby will need one-on-one adult supervision at all times. Even if your child has had swim lessons, is wearing a life jacket or is in another flotation device, or is just hanging out playing near water, you need to be right there. Often when there are several adults present, it’s easy for everyone to assume someone else is watching the kids. Use a whistle, float, or other item around the pool and have the individual who is watching the children hold that item while they are the “lifeguard.” If they need to answer the phone, leave or attend to another child, have them hand off the responsibility to someone else. Drowning is silent. It’s essential that someone have eyes on the water at all times.

For even younger babies and children (generally 6 months and older), swim lessons are an excellent idea. You will still need to provide direct supervision whenever water is near, but lessons can help children learn to be comfortable in the water and stay safe if an accident were to occur. Water survival courses for babies and toddlers may even be available in your area.

Teaching your children basic pool safety rules is important as well. Knowing that the pool is off limits without an adult and that no running is allowed on the pool deck is something kids should learn before ever entering a pool.

Knowing the signs of drowning and secondary drowning is crucial. Drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death of 1-14 year-olds. Drowning is silent. If a person is drowning, they won’t be able to yell, splash, or wave their arms. They will be under the water and unable to attract attention.

If your child accidentally falls into the water, she may also be susceptible to near drowning, or secondary drowning. This happens hours after the original incident because water left in the lungs causes edema (swelling). Some symptoms to watch for are persistent coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, lethargy, mood change, and/or fever. This requires medical attention as soon as you notice any symptoms.

Finally, know child and infant CPR. Every parent should take a CPR course and stay up to date on the certification since the science and knowledge about how to best administer emergency care  changes as we learn more about the body. Find a CPR course near you, or even take the course at home with this kit from the American Heart Association.

Please enjoy your summer and make the most of these beautiful days. Just make sure to keep your family safe, particularly around water.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two little boys, ages 3 and 6. She’s currently enjoying the expat life in Japan.

The No-Nag Chore Chart

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

The no-nag chore chartFull disclosure: I am a mom of three girls, and my oldest is 6. I am fully aware that I am only mutton-bustin’ when it comes to this parenting thing. I haven’t had to get on the big one and ride for eight seconds yet.

That said, three is enough to gang up on you entirely. They can be a huge help and also a whirlwind of disaster that spins through the house, leaving devastation in its wake. There are days when I feel like there simply isn’t enough of me to meet all the needs and stay sane, even with all the patience I have had to learn over the years.

Because my kids are small, any help I get is a bonus. Even if they had legitimate chores, they wouldn’t be done to my expectations, and there would be a lot of clean up still to do. The help I do get isn’t worth arguing, fighting or nagging over—that is more exhausting than the actual cleaning. So I came up with this. It won’t work for everyone, but it’s an idea I hadn’t seen before, and it’s actually working at our house.

It’s pretty simple. There’s no printable, no calendars, no boxes to check, no lists to make. Just draw a grid and slap your child’s name on it. Then decide on a reward that’s mutually agreeable, and let them earn it. You can reward physical work, kindness, patience, self-restraint, or any value you feel needs to be emphasized or rewarded right now.

Right now, my six-year old has to do 21 chores to earn a trip to pick out a toy under $20.  The three year old has to complete 14. The rules are that they must think of the chore and do it themselves. There is no time frame. If I have to ask them to do something, like clean a room, make a bed, pick up after themselves, clear the table, then it doesn’t count. If I help the oldest, it doesn’t count. The younger two simply have to pitch in and help someone else. I don’t expect them to do chores totally on their own yet, but they have surprised me at times.

It takes time for them to catch on. I can’t tell you how many times I suggested my oldest think of a chore to do to earn a sticker and I was met with a passive, “Maybe later.” But then she realized how close she was and did seven chores in one day. I have already noticed the frequency of help increasing with my oldest, and that momentum can be contagious.

As my kids grow, the idea can grow with them. They may need to do two chores a day consistently; maybe I will pick a chore they must complete weekly for a month to get a reward. Maybe they will have to volunteer a certain number of times a month. The tasks should shift to helping others outside our home instead of just me.

My goals with the chore chart were to get help without fighting for it, because that was taking more out of me than the chores were. I wanted them to be proactive. I want my kids to shift their focus outward, and we all need help to do that. Building kindness and empathy in your child takes time and persistence. But when I see them help each other, care for each other, and love each other in a way my sibling and I never did, I begin to think that this may have effects that reach far beyond the state of my house.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York. 

Mothering Your Second Baby

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Mothering Your Second BabyBy now, I’m sure we are all familiar with the Luvs commercials touting the expertise of second-time moms. I know for my first baby I was so nervous to “do it right” and make sure I was covered in my minimal knowledge of caring for this little person. Reading the books, searching the sites, hunting down the best, most educational, natural, perfect toy to entice my little guy’s budding brain, I learned so much. And then, baby #2 came along.

If you’re thinking of a second baby, or maybe you’re already expecting, there are many things that are completely different with #2. You, as a mother, are different. Many mamas wonder if they can love another baby like they do their first–the answer is no, you won’t. You will love them differently and completely separately for their own uniqueness and individuality. Love doesn’t get cut in half, it is not finite, rather it is multiplied by the tenfold instead of just doubling.

Your parenting is different as you have gained confidence as a mom. You’ve gained patience and a bit of understanding toward your baby, and this comes in handy as you travel the newborn days. You know and understand how short these days truly are, what a blur they become and how they fly by in a haze.

Birth can be a very different experience the second time around. Along with being better prepared for labor and delivery, often just knowing what to expect eases the stress. If your first birth ended in an unplanned c-section, just having the chance to plan and prepare for a second one is reassuring. Also, having had one newborn you have the chance to prepare for help, meals, and child care.

Nursing can also be easier with baby #2. Did you know your milk comes in faster and more abundantly with the second baby? Your body has worked hard to produce extra glandular tissue with each pregnancy and menstrual cycle between babies and is a well-oiled machine when #2 comes around. You understand that pain is bad and know to seek help immediately. If you’re bottle feeding, then being able to know how to prepare the bottles, how much and how often, and what you need to pack when you go out is very helpful.

As far as the ease of juggling two babies, well, as a second-time mama you learn the ropes pretty quick. The older sibling is usually fascinated by the baby, which allows for some very tender and sweet moments between the family. You also know what to expect as far as the difficult parts of early parenting: you understand a bit better that things pass and change and to parent with the whole person in mind.

One benefit of being a second-time mama is that you get a chance to figure out who you wish to be as a parent. You know what your preferences are and yet you do have the wiggle room to try something new this time. You can easily give something a shot that you maybe were tempted with from afar the first time around. Anything is game with the second child.

If something didn’t work out when #1 was a newborn that you wished to do differently–whether sleep training, nursing, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, babywearing, birth–any of these things can be done the same or differently. It really depends on you and how your baby’s temperament is.

The biggest difference with baby #2 is that you are just much more relaxed as a mother. You have a chance to really enjoy the baby and breathe!

My second son allowed me a chance to try a more natural approach to parenting, which I found more reassuring. I felt more in control having gone through it once before, especially as the frustrating moments of sleep regression, teething and the long sleepless nights. Knowing that it would get better, and that it would change before I knew it helped ease my frustrations. I jokingly refer to my firstborn as my  “test baby” with whom I learned the ropes and learned how to be the mom I could be. My second son definitely benefits from this experience.

Pia Watzig is a stay at home mom of three boys. She lives, loves, cooks, gardens and knits in Portland, Oregon.


When Your Daycare Doesn’t Do Cloth Diapers

Friday, June 26th, 2015

When Your Daycare Doesn't Do ClothOur children are attending childcare for one year. For the first 9 months, the infant class teachers were happy to participate in using cloth diapers. We started the conversation kindly, and all three teachers were onboard immediately.

Not every journey is so easy. When our youngest son transitioned to the toddler class, his teachers were not as keen on the idea. If you’re considering cloth at a childcare facility that isn’t interested or just doesn’t know what cloth is about, here are a few things to consider in approaching the issue:

  • Know your state’s policies: Almost every state either specifically allows or does not prohibit the use of cloth diapers. You may have to sift through the policies of your state or you can google as cloth diaper state policies to find some lists already compiled. Verify that their information is still current and accurate. If your childcare facility is large or part of a larger entity, they may already have policy in place.
  • Consider friendly engagement: Begin the conversation, but there’s no need to go in cloth diapers blazing. Ask if they’ve ever used cloth, considered it, and would be willing to talk more about it. Be kind. For example, if they say your state doesn’t allow it and you know your state does, offer the information kindly. “Oh, that’s funny. I thought I was reading the other day that Texas did allow cloth in daycare. I’ll look into that more. If they do, I’d love to show you how easy it is!”  If there are other families at the facility that use cloth, work together when approaching the staff.
  • Demonstrate: Showing is a great way of them seeing that their worst fears aren’t likely. Take time outside of class time—when it is convenient for them, not in the rush of drop-off or pick-up times— to show them how the diapers work. Keep it very simple and to the point. I love to talk about pockets and flats and brands and styles, but that is not necessary when you are convincing someone about the ease of cloth diapers. Let them try out a few and then offer a trial run so they don’t have to have an absolute answer immediately.
  • Make it easy: We used Blueberry and bumGenius snap pockets as they are cut somewhat similarly. The other half of our daycare stash was Thirsties size 2 AIOS (no longer made) aplix. Each teacher had different preferences. We always had them ready to go, with a liner. They always had a few extra on hand. We sent a wet bag with a handle every day. I also took time to ask on a monthly basis how it was going and if there was anything we could do to keep it going well. Don’t expect them to take the effort to clean them as thoroughly as you might at home.
  • Find another facility: I know, it sounds like defeat. Instead, I encourage you to think of it as finding a more congruent fit with your parenting style.

If you end up using disposables at your childcare facility, use cloth at home! Especially over the weekend, we can get a small load of diapers and, after a prewash, I add a few towels in to get a full load that washes really well. Also, even if you don’t use cloth at the school, leave the situation positive for the next mama who comes along.

The diaper seeds you sow may harvest with another child in the coming years. The transition to cloth may prove especially difficult at a place where numerous people need to be on the same page (director, multiple teachers, possibly multiple classrooms for your family). Recognize that you are laying the groundwork that other advocates, perhaps some of the staff or another parent down the road, can build on. The road where all baby bums are fluffy!

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Places to Nurse in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Places to Nurse in Fort Wayne, IndianaIt’s been almost 3 years since my family moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, from sunny St. Marys, Georgia.  Being from the Midwest, I felt like I was prepared for the move. My husband left a life in the military and accepted a job in Northeast Indiana.  When we moved here, I was a first-time mom with a 2-month-old baby girl who I was nursing. After nursing two babies out and around Fort Wayne, here are some of the best places I’ve found or heard of that you can breastfeed in.

Coffee Shops

Fort Wayne is full of great coffee.  Moms know this. We find it and seek it out. I found myself nursing my little Levi wherever I was enjoying a latte. Java Mama is a coffee shop where moms can relax and kids can play. For $4.00, little ones can play in the supervised play area. Java Mama has great coffee. Try the caramel cream latte! They’ve also added kid-friendly snacks, Melissa and Doug toys, and classes for little ones. I nursed Levi comfortably with no intimidation often there.

Mocha Lounge is another great hangout on the Southwest side of town. Mocha Lounge may look like a regular coffee shop, but there is a great room in the back called the Little Friends Room.  You can sit and enjoy your coffee while your kids play with the toys provided. I’ve nursed comfortably with a room full of moms and dads in this room.

Parkview Field

The Tin Caps are a minor league baseball team who call Fort Wayne home. Parkview Field also houses the farmer’s market, reunions, concerts, and other events. The stadium has a nursing mother’s room to make moms feel more comfortable and prepared. The stadium also has fun events and entertainment for older siblings during the game.

Local Restaurants

Cheddars and Friendly’s Too are two local restaurants that have had positive feedback from moms with their nursing journey. Friendly staff and comfortable atmospheres are at most local restaurants in the area where moms can feel secure meeting baby’s needs. I have nursed Levi in our local McDonalds and Red Robin. I have never received negative feedback.

Play Dates

It’s important to be able to nurse your baby while also taking care of older siblings. Fort Wayne hosts a Big Latch On event each year. This past year, it took place at Tokens and Tickets. Tokens and Tickets is a fun, family play place with games and food for kids and families to enjoy. The Allen County Public Library is also a place I have been impressed with. The main branch located downtown has a play area for little ones. It also has a nursing mother’s room and you must have a key to use the restrooms in the children’s book area.

Fort Wayne is a fun place to call home. The beautiful seasons and friendly people make it likeable. I am blessed that I have found several places where I’ve felt comfortable nursing. Come visit sometime and feel comfortable feeding your baby!

Karyn Meyerhoff lives, writes, and nurses in Northeast Indiana.