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Parenthood related topics written by the founders of charlotte+asher.

Filtering by Category: Motherhood

Vaccines and Teens

Chantal Standafer

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This is the last week of National Immunization Awareness Month. And last but not least, it's time to focus on preteens and teens. As with babies and young children, pregnant women, and adults, there are certain vaccines that can be very important for keeping teens healthy now as well as setting then up for a healthy life.

While our kids (and yours) may be nowhere near the teen years, we know that they'll be here before we know it. And I don't know about you, but I like to have an idea of what's to come down the road. So here's the quick roundup of the top vaccinations for those formative years:

  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine: Meningococcal bacteria can cause infections in the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)  and blood (septicemia). These infections can have very severe effects, including hearing loss, learning disabilities, among others. There are two different vaccines-- meningococcal conjugate vaccine and serogroup B meningococcal vaccine.  

  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine: HPV infections can cause some kinds of cancers (cervix, vagina, penis, among others). By getting vaccinated against HPV, most of those cases of cancer can be prevented.  

  • Tdap vaccine: While children receive the DTaP vaccine early in their lives, they can wear off over time. By getting the Tdap booster shot, preteen and teens can stay protected from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

  • Flu vaccine: Teens and preteens need to receive this vaccine every year. The flu vaccine is updated each year, formulated to protect against the strains of the flu virus that are predicted to be the most prevalent that year.

No matter what stage in life you (or your child) are in, it’s important to make sure you are up-to-date with your vaccinations. If you are unsure of this, be sure to contact your primary care doctor (or child’s pediatrician). He or she will be able to assess you and provide recommendations.  Vaccines still remain the best protection against many devastating diseases!


 

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Preventative Measures: Getting the Flu Shot During Pregnancy

Chantal Standafer

Nothing like family snuggles. 

Nothing like family snuggles. 

As we get into August, thoughts of flu start to pop up. Not because it's going around yet, but the signs offering the flu shot are appearing at pharmacies. It's a gentle reminder that the flu season (generally October-March, but even into May) is just around the corner. 

The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza viruses. It is contagious, believed to be passed by droplets created when infected people cough, sneeze or talk (so basically normal daily life being in contact with other humans). People can be contagious before they show signs of the illness, and can remain contagious for a number of days after coming down with it. This illness is characterized by a number of not so lovely symptoms including fever, fatigue, and body aches, among others. To put it mildly, it's not pretty. 

Getting the flu while pregnant can be especially challenging and dangerous. According to the CDC, because of the natural changes in women's bodies during pregnancy, they are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu, including hospitalization, preterm labor and delivery. 

Good news is that woman can receive the flu shot! While there are two available deliveries of the vaccine, the Mayo Clinic makes a clear recommendation that pregnant women only receive the shot and should steer clear of the nasal spray (the latter is made from a live virus, which is to be avoided during pregnancy). The effect of the vaccination is two-fold. Just like when getting the Tdap during pregnancy, the mother is protected, plus she transfers immunity to the baby. This is extremely important because infants cannot receive a flu vaccination until they are 6 months old. 

Be sure to talk with your OB/GYN or midwife about any questions you have. They are there to help and want you to have the healthiest pregnancy possible! Plus, there's a good chance you can get your flu shot at one of your upcoming appointments. But don't worry, if that's not an option most pharmacies can administer the shot too (and usually without much of a wait)! 

Kicking the pregnancy back pain

Chantal Standafer

Bumpie pregnant with baby #2, Spring 2015

Bumpie pregnant with baby #2, Spring 2015

Being pregnant brings on so many new things. There's excitement, some nervousness perhaps....and most likely at some point some physical discomfort. I mean, you're growing a person. And your body is shifting things around in order to accommodate that little peanut. ACOG has a whole FAQ sheet on back pain during pregnancy! Clearly it's a thing. 

When the pain shows up and the severity of it can differ. I know for myself I experienced discomfort much earlier in my second pregnancy than in my first. There were various factors involved. One of the major ones was that because of having limited activity during part of my second pregnancy, my body just didn't feel as strong and able to keep up with my shifting center of gravity and the growing baby. But there are ways to ease that discomfort. And you don't even have to leave your house to do it!

While nothing new or earth shattering, stretching can be one of the key components in relieving pain. Remember growing up when you did sports (or even just PE class), you'd have to stretch? Well, the same reason stretching was important then is still relevant now. If muscles in your body are tight, they can be pulling on other parts, making you uncomfortable. Good news is that there are so many wonderful, simple stretches you can do to help with the pain. The Mayo Clinic suggests doing the Cat-Cow yoga pose to stretch the lower back. Sarah Isaac of FitMom Charlotte put together this short video (using yours truly as the model) of three simple stretches that can make a huge difference.  As long as your doctor gives you the ok to be up and about, there's always something you can do to help with the pregnancy discomfort! 

What are your favorite ways to alleviate pregnancy back pain?  

Vacationing with Kids

Laura Hahn

Making a pit stop at dad's alma mater before heading down to NY for a friend's wedding.

Making a pit stop at dad's alma mater before heading down to NY for a friend's wedding.

With the official start of summer next week, let's be honest with what's on our minds: vacation! Now, vacationing with kids may not necessarily mean what it did before you had kids (read: silence, sleeping in, and not eating dinner at 5 pm), but it's always great to take a break from the daily grind and go on a new adventure and make some memories. That being said, if this is your first summer with your baby, you might be scrambling for tips and ideas on how to survive this huge wrench in your schedule you may have just started to groove in. No fear! We are here to help you.

  1. Have little to no expectations. Things are going to go wrong. The baby is not going to sleep when she normally does. The sleeping arrangements are not going to be as perfect as home (which may not even be that perfect!), so just do what you need to do for everyone to get as much rest as they can. If that means co-sleeping just for the trip, well, maybe that's ok and we'll pray that things go smoothly once you're back home. If that means renting an AirBNB with an extra bedroom so you can have space, maybe it'll be totally worth the money. Just go into your vacation knowing that things aren't going to run perfectly, and you might just enjoy it a little more.

  2. Don't over schedule yourselves. If you're going on a city vacation and there are lots of sights to see and they happen to be close by to each other, you might be able to make it work. However, if the kids are probably going to be skipping their naps, then just make a list of 1-2 must-see/do things for the day, and if you achieve that, success! If not, you know what you can do tomorrow.

  3. Just bring what you need. It's insanely easy to overpack with kids. However, keep in mind that if you have access to a washer/dryer, then only pack a few outfits and do laundry there. If you're going abroad, definitely make sure you bring any medication for ease: Motrin/Tylenol, a thermometer, and anything else they're using like an inhaler or epi-pen. If you're low on luggage space and are going away for awhile, just bring enough diapers to last you a few days and buy some there if necessary. Make a food bag for snacks on a road trip so you don't have to make as many stops. If you're flying, see if you can rent a car seat instead of lugging your own (especially handy with 2+ kids). Remember that you only need to bring one of baby's favorite lovey/toy/book; when you're out and and about, there will be new and exciting things to do and play with.

Have fun! And while you should definitely be in the moment as much as you can, don't forget to snap a few photos so you can look back and hopefully only remember the good stuff. :)

What are some other tips you would add?

Summer is (almost) here!

Chantal Standafer

June is here! It may have just begun and summer may still be a few weeks away. But for me, our summer schedule is here, and in my mind that means that summer has arrived. I am so excited about that!

During the school year our schedule gets so full with regular commitments. All of my weekly commitments, such as my MOPS mom group, ended in May and will not resume until mid-September. Yes, I'm a little sad to see some of that routine go away. But that disappointment is far outweighed by a sense of freedom. Sometimes I just need a break! 

And with this extra time I have grand plans: we're going to take time to explore our city and go on adventures. Not climbing mountains kinds of adventures, but ones that are perfect for pint-sized munchkins. Honestly, the kids think going to the library is a fantastic adventure, so we'll definitely do that a lot. And take the train. I do not have a huge bucket list for things to do, but that's ok. I want to leave room for their suggestions and to be more spontaneous. Some days that may mean just creating an adventure in the backyard.

Now that I have an idea of what I want to do, I also need to be sure to guard myself from my usual pitfalls. Generally, this is wanting to check things off of my to-do list. Or starting one thing in the house, which then spirals into other tasks. At the end of the day I look back, disappointed that we didn't get to do this activity or the other. I don't want that to be the case this summer. So my plan is that for days we plan to do an excursion, I'll have a goal time to head out of the house. I'll have to prioritize my tasks. If meeting that time (or time window) means not doing my makeup, well that's just fine. 

This also does not mean that I'll be catering to my kids and just doing what they want all summer long. They absolutely do not need to be entertained, and they certainly do not need to be engaging with me all the time! But when we do get out of the house, particularly for something stimulating where they get to explore and run around, the rest of our day goes much smoother. They're a little tired and might even nap or have quiet time. And their attitudes tend to be better. Um, yes please! 

So yes, I'm so excited that summer is here. Yes, I'm looking forward to the nice sunny, warm weather. But I am really so excited to explore with our almost 2 and 4 year olds. There's nothing quite like seeing life through their eyes, and having some quality time and fun. 

How are you feeling about the upcoming summer? What are your big plans? 

 

How to survive when baby arrives

Chantal Standafer

Baby Boyd resting peacefully at the hospital. 

Baby Boyd resting peacefully at the hospital. 

When we had our first child 3.5 years ago I didn't have a bunch of seasoned moms around me. Most of my friends were not yet having children. I had ideas of how things would happen, and had read some blog posts. I felt prepared in terms of what to purchase. But I really wasn't sure what I was getting into. 

On one hand I thought I'd be able to do it all, while on the other I was totally freaked out and wasn't sure how I'd get anything done. But mostly I was under the impression that I could, and therefore should, take care of everything. I had planned to have our freezer stocked with meals. But we moved a couple of weeks before my due date and it was crazy hot. So I didn't feel like turning the stove or oven on to cook. And Gaby was born a week early. Needless to say, we weren't completely unpacked and we didn't have meals on hand. 

And then my mom came to the rescue! She moved her flight up a week, and helped us finish unpacking, fed us and helped with the baby. She even stocked our freezer with meals for us to have after she returned home. Like I said, mom for the win. 

But once my mom left, I still had to figure out how to get meals on the table. And get the laundry done, and shower, and sleep, etc. Basically I had to figure out how to do it all on my own. And I didn't know how to ask for help. It took a while, but eventually I made simpler meals, and cooked extra so we didn't have to cook every night. 

 

Just when I thought I had found a safe space for the baby to rest, the toddler figured out how to climb into the crib. 

Just when I thought I had found a safe space for the baby to rest, the toddler figured out how to climb into the crib. 

Fast forward two years and I felt way more prepared when we had our son. I knew I would have extra demands because it wouldn't be just me and the baby. With a toddler on hand I wouldn't be able to nap as easily during the day, I'd need to get out so she could run around, plus our business had launched. I knew that I would need help! 

One of the best ways that the help came was in the form of a meals from friends. One close friend offered to set up an online meal schedule where people could sign up to bring dinner. For a couple of months we received a meal or two a week from some wonderful friends. It definitely took pressure off my plate--not needing to plan meals and figure out when to make them made a huge difference! 

So my key to surviving after baby's arrival: have a friend set up a meal schedule (we used Meal Train). No matter if it's baby number one or two, three, etc., having this checked off your list for at least a couple times a week will make a huge difference! 

What is your top suggestion for helping new parents? 

 

Mom goals: from chaos to order

Chantal Standafer

Gaby making sure mommy doesn't forget a crucial part of her day: coffee. 

Gaby making sure mommy doesn't forget a crucial part of her day: coffee. 

I am not one to make resolutions. In fact, I cannot remember a time that I made one. And really if I started now, what would it look like? Make my life calm, organized and relaxed? Complete my seemingly never ending task list? 

As 2016 came to a close,  I was inspired to create goals for the changes I wanted to make in the year to come. One day on Instagram, I stumbled upon what looked like a great planner. It had monthly overview calendars,  as well as weekly calendars with each day blocked into sections. Plus it had dedicated spaces for goal setting. Perfect, I wouldn't have to create something myself! 

Fast forward a few weeks and 2017 had begun. With that, I started using the planner. I realized that at the beginning of each week there is a page for writing weekly goals. So I thought about it a bit and wrote down a few things that I wanted to accomplish that first week. Easy, right? Well, turns out that I forgot to look back at the goal list during the week. This meant that I didn't complete all of the tasks. The same thing happened the next week. So then by the third week when I sat down to make the goal list, I realized that I needed to come up with a plan to actually accomplish them. 

As I sat down to write my goals, I also looked at the week ahead. And then I had an idea. That night I looked at the goals and then at the schedule for the next day. I chose a goal or two (or tasks needed to accomplish them) and wrote them at the top of the column for the next day. When I looked at my planner in the morning, I knew exactly what needed to be done. At the end of the week the goals list was complete. By breaking the goals into smaller chunks, I was not overwhelmed by a long task list. Plus, in taking time to plan for the next day before going to bed, I felt prepared for the day ahead. 

So now a month into the year, I feel like I have accomplished tasks. It feels great. Which makes me want to continue on this path. This is the year I say good-bye to the ridiculously long task lists. Hello order to this mom's life (well, at least in one sense)!

How are you going about accomplishing your goals? 

 

  

Giving back at all ages

Chantal Standafer

Gaby showing her jar of "money for the kids"

Gaby showing her jar of "money for the kids"

One of our family values is to be outwardly focused (and part of our company mission). Last year I shared how we were starting to teach our daughter Gaby about being grateful for what she had. And we continue to read books with those themes. But now she’s three and teaching her has grown beyond talking about being thankful. She has started giving to others intentionally.

One of the biggest instances of her giving began over the summer.  We bought floaties to use with the kids in the pool. When we opened up the packages, my very curious little girl asked me about every single piece of information that came along with them. As we were looking through it all, she became fixated on one piece. It was a glossy picture of kids. Unknowingly we had purchased from a company that partners with Operation Smile, an organization that provides free surgeries for children around the world who have cleft lip and cleft palate and other facial deformities.  

Gaby was so fascinated. She kept asking about the kids, who she referred to as “the kids whose lips hurt.”  This was the best way I thought to explain their condition to her. And when we told her that people donate to Operation Smile so the doctors could fix the kid's lips, well she wanted to give to the kids.

But the girl doesn't make money yet. So where did that leave us? My husband and I got to thinking and came up with a couple of solutions. The first is whenever we go out for a treat, we give her the option to get her own or to share. If she splits it, she gets to give the money we would have spent on the treat to the kids. She has a special jar to keep the money in. And so far every time we bring it up, she jumps at the chance to share and give the money away. Our other thought is to come up with a list of extra tasks around the house she can do to earn money. But we have yet to come up with a chores vs extras list. That will come soon though.

Giving resources is not the only way to give to others. Sharing our time can be just as valuable as giving money. There are many opportunities to prepare and serve meals at shelters. Or spending time with an elderly neighbor who doesn't have family around. The act doesn't have to be huge. Need ideas? Check out this month long calendar with a small way to give back to others every day.

How are you sharing with others this season or throughout the year?

 

Thankful for...fresh starts

Chantal Standafer

Starting off a new day with the little ones. 

Starting off a new day with the little ones. 

With Halloween behind us, it’s full steam ahead to Thanksgiving. Well, unless you walked into Target this week, in which case we’re already onto Christmas. But holiday decor aside, in the spirit of thankfulness, we’ll be focusing on this theme for the next few weeks.

In our house these days, we have one very talkative three-year-old (Gaby) and a sixteen-month-old (Boyd), who appears to be teething half of his teeth. In classic threenager fashion, Gaby talks, raising her voice to make sure that she’ll be heard loud and clear. If I am in the middle of something, she then clings to me to grab my attention. Boyd has been a little whiny and wanting to be held a lot. The need for some personal space and quiet is creeping up and up, often rather quickly.

Sometimes I can handle it well. As in the kids take a nap at the same time and I can get a little quiet time, or a nap if I’m really lucky. But other times things pile up, the kids are practically both climbing on me for attention, and well, I kind of lose it. I’ll be short with them, reacting in ways that are not the most loving. And I’m unhappy about it.

But you know what? Every day will not be great. On occasion I wake up on the wrong side of the bed. So it’s unrealistic to expect my kids to be on their A game every single day. But I can choose how I behave and interact with them. And you know what, even if I have a rough day, the great news is that it does not have to be crushing. After years of holding onto the things I did wrong each day and things that I did not accomplish, my focus has recently changed. I now realize that I do not have to be burdened by the past. No matter what happens,  tomorrow comes and it’s a brand new day.  

So there you have it. The big thing I’m thankful for is that with each day I have a fresh start. Each day starts new (even if my task list carries over!), I can learn from the past and I have the chance to make different (hopefully better) decisions than the day before.

What is one thing you’re thankful for in this busy season?

One Key Way to Keep Your Child Healthy

Chantal Standafer

Little guy knows that his 12 month vaccinations are a big deal! 

Little guy knows that his 12 month vaccinations are a big deal! 

Parents agree that feeding and sleep schedules are important to help keep their children healthy. The same goes for childhood immunizations. Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them against 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday.

“The recommended immunization schedule is designed to protect babies early in life,when they are vulnerable and before it’s likely that they will be exposed to diseases,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Public health and medical experts base their vaccine recommendations on many factors. They study information about diseases and vaccines very carefully to decide which vaccines kids should get and when they should get them for best protection.

Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years may seem like a lot, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system, and they know that a healthy baby’s immune system  can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended. Dr. Messonnier cautions against parents delaying vaccination. “There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination. In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines.”

When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles and whooping cough. Since 2010, we have seen between 10,000 and 50,000 cases of whooping cough each year in the United States. And, up to 20 babies die from whooping cough each year in the United States. Most whooping cough deaths are among babies who are too young to be protected by their own vaccination.

The United States experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 667 cases from 27 states reported to CDC's NCIRD. This was the greatest number of cases in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000. Staying on track with the immunization schedule ensures that children have the best protection against diseases like these by age 2.

Parents who are concerned about the number of shots given at one time can reduce the number given at a visit by using the flexibility built into the recommended immunization schedule. For example, the third dose of hepatitis B vaccine can be given at 6 through 18 months of age. Parents can work with their child’s healthcare professional to have their child get this dose at any time during that age range.

“I make sure my kids are vaccinated on time,” said Dr.Andrew Kroger, medical officer, NCIRD, and father of two. “Getting children all the vaccines they need by age two is one of the best things parents can do to help keep their children safe and healthy.”

If you have questions about the childhood immunization schedule, talk with your child’s doctor or nurse. For more information about vaccines, go to www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents.