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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: Parenthood

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? 

 

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.

Celebrating Father's Day: New Traditions

Chantal Standafer

Gaby and daddy reading his new book on Father's Day 2015.

Gaby and daddy reading his new book on Father's Day 2015.

It’s June, which means Father’s Day is around the corner. And with that comes the hunt for a gift. Luckily I’ve come up with a gift that only varies slightly from year to year. But by no means is it boring.

Each year, I buy a children’s book for my husband. I write a little note in the book from the kids. Since the kids are still little, I choose the book and I write the note myself. This year I will also be able to include what Gaby wants to say in the message. But the kiddos do “sign” it. As they get older I imagine that I will take their input in the book selection and they will write their own messages themselves.

While my husband states that he doesn’t need anything for Father’s Day, that’s not going to work for me. But instead of getting him something that he may or may not really want, I want to gift him something that he can use with the kids. I know that at some point the kids will be “too old” to be read to, but really that day is far off. Spending time reading to our children is so wonderful. We absolutely love it (well, except for the random books we have that we cannot stand!). And why not get something that brings our family together.

What Father’s Day traditions do you have?