Parenting

  • 4 Tips: Traveling with Children

    Who doesn’t love a vacation?  Vacationing is literally my favorite pastime. Take me to a warm beach and I’m a different kind of calm. Although I love vacationing, traveling to and from paradise can be overwhelming.  Life as a parent is stressful by nature. Traveling with babies and toddlers can be a disaster…if you don’t have a plan.

    The key to successful traveling with your young child lies within anticipating and planning around what might happen while en route. It’s imperative that you consider their typical schedule when booking your flight. Children need naps. Heck, some adults are cranky sans the nap.  It is really asking too much for a tired child to behave while trekking through the airport, standing in line for security checks, waiting for the adults in the party to be scanned, staying still while said adults put back on shoes, belts and collect belongs from the conveyor belt, go through customs, trek through the airport again to find the correct terminal and gate, sit there for an hour with parents who are hoping not to be delayed, stand in line to get on the plane, sit still while the adults maneuver getting their carry on luggage while ushering the kids out of the aisle before being trampled by folks rushing to the back of the plane and patiently wait for the plane to finally take off then sitting for about 4 hours to land, head to baggage claim and take a shuttle to the final destination.

    Does sound like a lot? Good, because it is.  Frankly, it’s a lot for everyone involved. This is especially true for a child under the age of 6.  

    1. If possible, book the flight around their naptime or bedtime (red-eye flights).

    I don’t care if I was traveling by plane or car, trips were scheduled to minimize bedtime disruption.  When I took my little ones from New York City to the Bahamas for the first time, we took a red-eye. They slept the entire time and my sanity was left intact.  I struggled a little with getting them and those darn rolling backpacks through the airport but considering everything else that could’ve gone wrong, that was a drop in the bucket.  Side note- Why do airports seem 1,000 times bigger when traveling with kids? You really do realize how tiny their little feet are when you’re attempting to rush and they just can’t keep up.   

    2. Book a window seat.  Mother nature is entertaining.

    Just trust me on this one.  Throw the shades up on a sunny day and a crying baby will be so amazed by the view that they’ll likely stop in their tracks. I still get mesmerized by the view so I get it.  If the little one isn’t as intrigued as I am, try engaging them by talking to them about what you’re seeing. “Oh Jordan, do you see that cloud? It looks like a doggie. Do you see one that looks like a fishie?”  That game can last for a long while if you’re willing to be creative.

    3. Book a seat near the front of the plane.

    Location. Location. Location. If the child is facing forward while crying in their seat, the noise will travel forward, disturbing fewer people. Remember life before kids? Looking at “those parents” wondering how on earth can they not control their crying kids at the restaurant or market? Fast forward to now and you not only wish you take back every glare you bestowed upon those poor parents but you will give the stare of death if passengers dare glance at you and your inconsolable child? It’s easy to get frazzled and unfocused if you have an entire plane staring at you.

    If passengers are annoyed, you won’t have to see them constantly looking back or shaking their heads in disbelief that a child is actually crying because his/her routine is thrown while stuck on a plane. Just focus on doing your best to comfort your child. Either they’ll likely join you in the “those parents” club one day too or they’ve forgotten how difficult traveling with small children can be for parents.  At any rate, it’s better to have annoyed passengers throw tantrums literally behind your back where you don’t have to deal with them or feel the need to constantly apologize for something beyond your control.

    4. Pack distractions.

    I’ve already exhausted you by taking you through a trip through a child’s eye. Pack their carry on bag accordingly.  Keep in mind that you will probably end up holding their carry-ons and yours. You might very well also end up carrying at least one child in addition to all of the bags if things don’t go according to plan. Be intentional about packing. Don’t just throw things into their bag.  

    Bring a variety of things to keep them engaged.  Pack the favorite teddy and toys that foster the use of the imagination without relying on technology.  You’ll have lots of time to play with them while in flight. 

    Preload your tablet or smartphone with their favorite movies. I never downloaded a movie on my iPad before I traveled with my daughters.  I found 3 very long child-friendly movies that they’ve both enjoyed in the past, 2 just as long movies that they’d never seen and splitter earphones so they could listen simultaneously. That was one of the smartest moves of my entire life! #winning

    Flying is no time to try new foods.  I don’t recall ever feeling satiated upon finishing a meal on an airplane.   Children are very cranky when they’re hungry. Do yourself a favor and pack their favorite foods. Feed them the perishable foods first, keeping in mind temperature and storage requirements.  The absolute last thing you need is a child with an upset stomach 35,000 feet in the air.

    The light at the end of the tunnel is that everything will be okay.  You will get through the trip to and from your destination.  You will create memories with your family.  It will be worth it.

    We’ve all been there and we’ve survived.  You will too. Happy travels!

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  • 5 Mommy-Time-Out Ideas

    Motherhood is rewarding.  Motherhood is exhausting. On rare occasions when we meet up, my mommy friends and I literally find ourselves “sneaking” away from our families. Of course, no one is ever too far away from the cellphone just in case there’s an emergency.  But, it is important and healthy to disconnect from our children for brief periods of time. Take a moment, or a few, to ourselves enables us to refresh and recharge.

    Here’s 5 Ways to Take Mommy Time Out: (more…)

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  • Axenfeld-Rieger Syndrome (ARS)

    Who doesn’t love a cute and cuddly baby?  They’re so adorable that it’s had to resist getting all smiley and silly when we see them in the local grocery store or at the mall. They’re mini conversation starters.  When parents take their child(ren) to public places, they come to expect hearing all of sorts of comments, including both kind words and unsolicited advice. I can remember going into a store with my daughters when they were babies, thinking that we’d just be a few moments only to end up in a fifteen minute conversation with someone we attempted to rush past in the paper towel aisle. Complete strangers would make comments like, “Oh, they’re adorable!”, “How cute are they?”, “You should put a sweater on her; she looks cold.” or “What big, beautiful eyes she has!”  But, what if the child’s big eyes were linked to a rare genetic disease?

    Axenfeld-Rieger Syndrome (ARS)

    Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome is a group of disorders, mainly affecting the eyes. Roughly about half of the people diagnosed with the syndrome will develop glaucoma.  Glaucoma is defined by the National Eye Institute as a “group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness.” Glaucoma may be present at birth or the onset might not occur until adulthood.  People affected by glaucoma have increased pressure behind their eyes. If not treated, glaucoma may lead to blindness.

    Let’s take it back to our high school biology class for a moment, shall we? The cornea is the clear part of the eye.  The iris is the colored part of the eye. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. A properly working iris contracts to adjust for the amount of light coming into the retina.  The black “dot” in the center is the pupil.

    People affected by Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome will likely have a cloudy cornea.  They may have  iris hypoplasia.  The American Academy of Ophthalmology indicates that iris hypoplasia is where the iris doesn’t develop properly or the iris that’s intact, erodes. Hypoplasia affects the iris’ ability to block the amount of light hitting one’s retina.  The pupil may be may be dislocated, abnormally large, extremely small or off center.  

    Other Presenting Symptoms of ARS

    Although primarily an eye disorder, other parts of the body may become affected by Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome. Most people will have distinctive facial features inclusive of dental and craniofacial anomalies.  Dental abnormalities may include having oligodontia, which is having fewer teeth than normal, or microdontia, unusually small teeth. The teeth may be cone shaped or widely spaced. The face may appear flattened and the eyes may also be widely spaced.

    How is Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome passed from parent to child?

    As an inherited disorder, ARS is passed in an autosomal dominant manner.  According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Autosomal dominant is one of many ways that a trait or disorder can be passed down through families.  In an autosomal dominant disease, if you get the abnormal gene from only one parent, you can get the disease. Often, one of the parents may also have the disease.”

    Treatment and Therapies

    • Children with extreme sensitivity to light or photophobia might be more comfortable wearing sunglasses when they go outside.
    • Some forms of glaucoma may be treated with eye drops or laser surgery.
    • Many craniofacial abnormalities may also be treated with surgery.
    • Visual aids may also be helpful.

    Supporting Parents of Children with ARS

    A child with ARS may have unusually large eyes.  They may appear almost doll-like. It may be hard for most of us to resist impulsively uttering our comments when we see one of these precious children. I imagine that a parent of a child with Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome might get tired of hearing, “oh, what big eyes she has.”  They might even feel the need to explain or justify why the child’s eyes appear “different”.  So, let’s think twice before we offer uninvited advice to parents regarding their child’s facial features unless, of course, we’re simply offering compliments without question or judgement.  

    Resources for Parents

    The Childhood Glaucoma Foundation – https://www.childrensglaucoma.org/

    NIH/National Eye Institute – http://www.nei.nih.gov/

    Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center – https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/

    Sources:

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  • 5 Steps to Helping Your Unhappy Child

    As parents,  we innately want to make our children happy.  We constantly walk a fine line between enabling and empowering, discipling and disregarding, etc. However, any parent will tell you that all of this easier said than done.  Thoughtful and intentional parenting is work, really hard work.  It takes another level of connectedness that can barely be explained.  Have you ever “felt” the pain of your child? When they hurt, you hurt. You’re elated when they are successful and beyond words when you feel like you’re unable to help them. That’s the level of connectedness that I refer to when I speak of thoughtful parenting.

     

    Temporary  Sadness vs. Unhappiness

    I’m not talking about my team just lost the game unhappy.  I’m referring to the type of unhappiness a child experiences when they feel as if they don’t ever fit in with peers or when they feel like they can never earn good grades regardless of how hard they’ve tried.  Watching our child feel lost, empty and downright unhappy, can feel like a punch in the gut. (more…)

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  • 15 Tips for a Better Bedtime Routine

    You’ve read as many “How to Parent” guides as you could get your hands on while waiting for your arrival of your new baby.  You felt well-read and well-prepared as you braved the first year or so of parenthood. Now that it’s time to figure out how to get your child out of your bed, and possibly their own room, you’re lost.  (more…)

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  • A Business Mommy’s Struggle

    Success as a mom in business is a cyclical relationship. In order to keep one’s sanity she must understand that the two relationships must be in total balance so that the notorious mother’s guilt doesn’t take over. Allow your children to be your inspiration, as you are theirs. Know that writing your own ticket empowers you and will empower your family to live the lifestyle of your choice. Nothing comes without sacrifice, commitment and balance. I am living proof that it can be done.

    As many of you have, I toyed with the idea of being an entrepreneur for a long time. However, something about life becomes more real when a mother looks into her child’s doting eyes and realizes that she is responsible for the molding of her precious love. (more…)

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  • 7 Extremely Useful Products for New Baby

    When bringing home a brand new baby, all types of emotions are elicited including excitement, fear and happiness.  Mom has spent the first nine months of baby’s time in utero bonding with the new child.  Meanwhile, Dad’s first opportunity to bond presents itself when healthy baby meets world.  It seems as if babies are on their best behavior for the hospital nurses, as they are sleepy from their long journey to the “outside world”.  Our homes are bright, filled the sounds of life and the smells of our culture.  A brand new baby is taking in so much in such a short amount of time, he/she may cry often during the first weeks of adjustment at home.

    Parents should be ready for sleepless nights, busy days filled with washing bottles/breastfeeding equipment and clothes, feeding and pamper changing at least every two hours, several baths, sponge baths at a minimum to clean the overflowing diapers and spit up that will inevitabily leak onto areas of the baby’s body that we have yet to explain.  Also, be prepared for adoring stares from new baby and the most tiresome, yet rewarding time of a parent’s life.

    There are lots of items on the market for new babies; however, many of us find that we had a small useful pile of items and an overwhelming pile of useless items that sat there until we could unload them on another unsuspecting new parent.  The most useful items that I utilized for my daughters included:

    1. A breastfeeding bib blocked me from flashing the world during feedings.
    2. Air controlled bottles cuts down on some of the gas and discomfort from said gas.
    3. Aquaphor can be used from head to toe, literally.
    4. The long blue suctioner from the hospital is a must keep, as the ones sold in stores are simply not long enough to suck out left over mucous from their recent journey.
    5.  Disposable diapers are useful burp cloths, as they are much thicker and absorb more of the infamous spit up than regular cloths.
    6. A wipe warmer minimizes the cold shock of wet wipes in the middle of the night.  Think about it.  You’re desperately trying to get your newborn to remain calm and sleepy during middle of the night diaper changes,
    7. A bottle sanitizer works wonderfully as well.  Who has time to stand over a pot of boiling water?

    Let’s be honest, the parenting world is otherwise known as survival of the fittest, especially when a new baby arrives. Parenting hacks literally give us “life”.

    Enjoy the extra few moments of sanity on me!

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  • 5 Quick Tips: Preparing for New Baby

    There’s simply no sure fire way that I know of to be one hundred percent prepared for the arrival of a new baby.

    From day one, each child is an individual and there’s no way for parents to predict if they’ll have a sleeper, crier, happy baby or fussy baby. There are a few things that parents can do to prepare for this brief moment of time when your baby is a newborn.  Before preparing, one must set realistic expectations for the family.  People will tell you to sleep when baby is sleeping.  I never understood how that was even a possibility.  My children took relatively short naps and if I could get in a brief shower with out one wailing, I would have been elated.  By the third week of my eldest daughter’s life, I gave up on pampering myself and shaving my legs in the shower.  I learned to wait until we had a visitor if I wanted to splurge my free time on pampering myself.

     

    But I’m not prepared!  (more…)

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  • Homework Horror Story

    Homework is the assignment of a purposeful task that reinforces concepts that are covered during the school day.  Accordingly, homework should not introduce new information to the learner.  On the contrary, homework should be utilized as a tool to communicate the student’s current level of mastery to the learner, caregiver and teacher.

    Email 3Let’s be real.  We want our children to be assigned and learn how to successfully complete homework.  HOWEVER,  I’m sure I am not alone in feeling bogged down by my children’s homework.  It never fails.  The one night I intend to prepare a quick dinner and turn in early, I’m hit with the “Oh, Mom I forget to tell you about the project that’s due tomorrow.” (Insert completely overwhelmed and bewildered look here.)  I recall being more excited than my children for the end of the school year one year.  It seemed like our lives literally revolved around homework horrors filled with tears, frustration and sometimes even tantrums. (more…)

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  • There is NO Such Thing as a Perfect Parent

    #HappyBirthdayToMyEldestDaughter – Today is my eldest daughter’s 12th birthday! This morning while playing on pinterest at 4 am, (Don’t judge me, it’s the only time my house and life are completely still) it hit me that I have been a mommy for twelve whole years. It really does feel like it was yesterday when I was anxiously anticipating her arrival. My world has completely revolved in the last decade+2.

    One of the major changes in the past twelve years has been my so-called routine. I used to have one. I promise you, I DID. I remember rising at 6am in order to be at work at 8am and carelessly choosing to work out before or after work (which was totally dependent upon what’s showing on tv or when and where happy hour was happening that night).

    Twelve years and two daughters later:

    The only routine I have before work is the routine I plan in my head. I always check off the major boxes. You know, bathing, brushing teeth and getting dressed. Everything else is up for negotiation depending on how far in advance they remember to tell me they have a game after school or if they volunteered me to pick up donuts for the entire grade. Although I don’t compromise on the getting dressed aspect of my morning to do’s, how long I have to complete tasks is a different story.

    Last week, I literally ran out of the house barefoot with 2 different pairs of boots, a coat, work bag and pocketbook filled with everything needed to curl my hair and put on my face at the office (since I ran out of time at home). It was a choice between getting my girls to school on time or putting on shoes. They win every time.

    This is what my routine looks like in my head when I wake up every morning at 4 a.m. (more…)

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