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Charlotte+Asher creates chic diaper bags for the stylish, modern mom.

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

Filtering by Tag: Kids

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?

 

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.

Ways to Simplify the Daily Routine

Chantal Standafer

I wish "hiring toddler to do all the housework" was an option.

I wish "hiring toddler to do all the housework" was an option.

Before having kids I was not the most disciplined with my time, often spending hours going down the Pinterest rabbit hole. But now with a never ending to-do list and somewhat unpredictable little ones around the house, I’ve learned a few ways to simplify my life. Honestly, these are things that I wish I’d implemented long before I had kids. But, better late than never!

  • Weekly meal plan: Every Wednesday or Thursday evening I sit down with our calendar and some recipes (aka my Pinterest boards). Based on what events we have, I determine how many dinners I need to prepare and what I’ll realistically have time to cook. Then I plan out dinners for the next week. By doing it this way I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner each day--all I have to do is look at my list that’s up on the refrigerator. And I prepare extra to make sure we have leftovers for lunches!

  • Once-a-week grocery shopping: Once I have the list for the meal plan, I go through the recipes and make a grocery list for the items I need. I also add in all the other staples we’ll need for the week. And then I do my groceries, usually on Friday mornings. That way we’re all set for the weekend and I don’t have to fight the weekend grocery store crowds. By shopping only once during the week, I have more time to do fun things with the kids!

  • Weekly cleaning schedule: Last year at my mom’s group, one speaker shared her tips for keeping a clean home. It really came down to a cleaning schedule of 15-20 minute tasks each day. For example, Monday’s task is dusting the house, Tuesday’s is vacuuming, etc. I put this into practice when I was pregnant with baby #2. I loved having a clean house, but not feeling like I spent a whole day cleaning! While this plan fell to the wayside upon Boyd’s arrival, I’m now dusting it off and putting it back into practice. An added bonus is that Gaby loves helping out with the dusting and vacuuming! It's a great way to teach her to be a helper as well as keep her busy by letting her be like mommy.

  • Laundry: The never-ending task. Seriously, it seems as though the second I finish a load, the baby has a poopsplosion. I’ve tried different approaches with this task, by doing it once-a-week or throughout the week. Because I don’t want to spend an entire day doing laundry and I like to hang dry much of our clothing, for us the wash-as-you-go approach is definitely working better.

  • Pack the diaper bag at night: This is another recent development for me. I was never one to have my school bag ready the night before, so I suppose it makes sense that I was not doing this as an adult. But I do remember the advice, and now with life busier than ever this is one thing I’m working on to make getting out of the house easier. It’s usually just a matter of adding a couple of diapers and a few wipes to the bag. But when I’m running behind in the morning, or get spit up on and have to change my outfit, the fewer things I have to take care of the better!

How do you simplify your weekly tasks? What other tips do you have?

 

New sibling introductions

Chantal Standafer

After Gaby was born we were so excited to get to know her. It really wasn’t much different after Boyd was born, at least at first. But then visiting hours began and it wasn’t just the two of us bonding with our newborn anymore. We were eager to introduce the siblings to each other.

We prepped Gaby for her baby brother’s arrival as best as we could. At twenty one months old, we knew there was a limit as to how much she would understand. But she expressed excitement and wanted to talk to her brother in my belly. She also loved reading her big sister books and asked me to read them over and over again. So maybe my hopes were a little high for what would happen when she met him at the hospital.

When Gaby arrived at the hospital with her aunt and grandmother, my husband went out to get her and bring her in. We wanted to have some time to introduce the kiddos to each other before the rest of the family came to meet the little guy. While I expected her to smile and want to engage him immediately, that is not at all what happened. She stayed in her daddy’s arms, staring at her brother who was resting in the bassinet. They began chatting about baby and she perked up when she heard that he was “baby Boyd,” since we had been talking about him, by name, for months.  She accepted the offer to touch him, and then really just wanted to play.

We made sure to have some special things for her that day. I had packed a new book of stickers for her, since at the time she absolutely loved stickers. We also shared some of our snacks that we had packed in the hospital bag. I asked her grandmother to bring some of our favorite books. So we spent some good time together snuggled on the bed reading those books, both just the two of us as well as with baby brother.

As the day went on, she would pop up by the bed or bassinet from time to time to say hi.  She decorated his hat with the stickers we gave her that day. And by the end of the afternoon she was asking to hold him. Which only lasted a few seconds before she was ready to bounce off the chair and play something else. But before doing that she would tell us who would hold him next.

So while the day did not go exactly as I had planned, it went well. Gaby had some time to meet her brother first before the rest of the family and friends came to visit. She was able to take some time to play and adjust to having him in the room. And when she was ready, she was able to hold him, with our help!

How do you anticipate the sibling introduction to go? What was your experience like?

 

 

 

Teaching thankfulness to the kiddos

Chantal Standafer

As time passes and we quickly approach Thanksgiving (how is it only a week away??), we’ll continue with our thankfulness theme. Having previously looked at having our own thankful attitude and finding your best mom friend, this week we’ll look at teaching gratitude to our little ones.

With a very strong-willed and vocal 2-year-old running around our house, we frequently hear “I want,” followed by more “I want.” Oh, and throw in a bunch of “Mom! Mom!” It’s easy to get bogged down by the demands. (And yes, I need to take my own advice and be thankful that she can express what she wants.) But we’ve found that a great way to break out of the toddler “want” cycle is to teach about being thankful. As we work on instilling this concept in our littles, here are some things we do to teach them:

  • Thankful list: We have been teaching “please” and “thank you” in relation to asking for items, help, etc since before Gaby’s first birthday. And this lay a good foundation for her understanding the concept of being thankful. But now we’re taking it further. Instead of just saying thank you when she receives something for which she has asked, we now engage her in conversation. We ask her what she is thankful for. And oftentimes we get a list of things that are not related to that day’s activities. But that’s okay. We’re getting her thinking about what she’s done and seen during that day (and days prior) and vocalize the good things in her life.

  • Reading books: They love reading, and it’s a great way to keep them quiet and entertained for a bit. Plus, it is a great way to illustrate concepts to little ones. One of our seasonal favorites is Happy Thanksgiving, Curious George, where on the last page George is so excited to share what he is thankful for. While the rest of the book goes over the different things that go into Thanksgiving Day prep, this last part is a perfect illustration of the previous point. It’s a wonderful way to reinforce what we’re teaching and practicing at home.

  • Giving to those who need: Each year, we participate in Boxes of Love, a project to help provide Thanksgiving meals to families in need. This year I took Gaby with me to the grocery store to purchase the items needed to fill the box. As we left to go to the store, I explained to her that we are fortunate to have food to eat, at which point we talked about the snacks she likes. I continued to say that we help others who don’t have as much and need help, in this case by providing food for them. And I got her involved in finding the items in the stores and putting them in the cart (I did have to catch the cans of food that she was pitching into the basket, but well, we’re still working on being gentle). This is one step in helping her think of the positives, of what she does have, and being thankful for that.

In teaching her, it’s a great reminder to myself to practice being thankful. It will take some time for her to fully grasp the concept. But she’s learning quickly and will probably surprise me with her understanding of it way before I expect her to do so. Maybe she’ll even learn to replace “I want” with “I would like”!

How are you teaching your kids to be thankful?

 

 

Flying with Two Kids

Chantal Standafer

On Labor Day I went on my first airplane trip with the two kids--alone. I wasn’t overly worried about caring for Boyd on the plane since we’d already become pretty good at flying with an infant when Gaby was little. But doing most things with two kids is still fairly new to me. I was pretty nervous about how the trip would turn out, and I tried to plan and prepare as much as possible in the days leading up to the trip. So besides my normally stocked diaper bag, here's what I did to help with being stuck on two airplanes with an infant and a toddler for almost an entire day: 

GENERAL

  • Checked luggage. I checked as much of our things as possible, and this included the car seats. And we didn't bring a stroller because my parents have one at their house. I decided that the less I had to keep track of and carry around, the better.

  • Carry-on luggage. I brought my diaper bag and a small rolling suitcase. The diaper bag contained all of my essentials for feeding, changing and entertaining the kids, while my suitcase was stocked with extras of everything, including a change of clothes for myself (you never know when you’ll have a diaper blowout or be covered in spit up!). During our layover I took the time to restock my diaper bag supply of wipes, diapers and snacks, and I swapped out the toys in the diaper bag for ones in the suitcase.

TODDLER

  • Prepped Gaby before the trip. We explained to her that we were going on an airplane to visit her grandparents. We also talked with her about being a helper and obeying when asked to do things. This wasn’t different from what we expect from her on a daily basis, but because we would be out of our normal environment and routine, it was good to have a reminder and establish expectations ahead of time.

  • Snacks. Packed lots of snacks, and a large variety of them. While Gaby usually doesn’t snack throughout the day, travel days are exceptions. She didn’t really have normal meals, and I had to be ok with doling out way more snacks than usual.

  • Drinks. I packed Gaby’s water bottle so I didn’t have to worry about spills. But she loves drinking out of cups, so I got her a cup with a little water in it each time the in flight service was available. She was so excited about this and it kept her entertained for a while each time.

  • Headphones. Gaby loves music (and the occasional TV show), and while she likes the idea of earbuds, she really won't tolerate them. I found some great volume control children sized headphones online. When they arrived in the mail I showed them to her and tested them with one of her favorite songs and they were an instant hit. But even though she asked to use them frequently before the trip, I kept them as something special and told her they were for using on the trip. She was so excited to use them on the plane, and the video and music entertained her for a large chunk of our first flight.

  • Gift wrapped toys. A friend suggested this, and it worked marvelously. It made toys that we already owned and played with special again. Gaby loves opening things, and this made the lifespan of the toys and the excitement last longer.

INFANT

  • Infant carrier. Boyd spent most of the day in the carrier, leaving me with both hands completely free to keep a toddler under wrap, as well as to carry my bags through the airport.

  • Feed during takeoff and landing. Boyd ended up being hungry during takeoff and landing three out of four times, so he nursed during those times, and the other time had his pacifier. This helped him clear his ears as the pressure changed, and he did not whine at all, at least not due to plugged ears. (I know that this is harder for some babies, but this has worked for both of our kids).

Overall the day went smoothly. And while I'm not ready to hop on a plane again tomorrow, I'm confident that the return trip next week will go well, too!

How do you keep your kids busy on the airplane? What other tips do you have?