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

Filtering by Tag: motherhood

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)! 

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? 

 

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? 

 

  

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?

Story of the Second Child

Laura Hahn

IMG_8106.JPG

Parents like to joke about how lax they become with the second child, which is definitely the case for me. While I was relatively relaxed with my son as a first time mom, I’m already finding how different things are with my daughter. I’ve also come to realize that I enjoy the toddler years much more than the newborn phase. After being in the world of toddlers where my son can communicate in full sentences, is potty trained, and can follow directions, being thrust back into the newborn world of trying to decipher cries and a monotonous feed - change diaper - sleep cycle takes some adjusting to, especially with less sleep! Newborns are also not that fun since their personalities haven’t fully developed yet. I love seeing how my son’s 2.5 year old brain interprets the world. My husband and I already talk about how sad we will be when he stops calling a banana “bamana,” and a peppermint “peppermoni.” Or asks about something by saying, “where is them?”

While I know my daughter is going to be just as much fun and probably way more of a handful than her brother before I know it, there are some differences this time around that can probably be attributed to being the second child:

  • Her health. I nursed my son for a year and he didn’t get his first cold until after I weaned him. I don’t think I used the snot sucker on him until 8-10 months. He also didn’t get his first real diaper rash until he started teething molars around 10 months. My daughter, meanwhile, already has a stuffy nose and is recovering from a diaper rash at 7 weeks, despite being breastfed. I’m sure some of it is attributed to the weather, being born at the end of the winter, but she’s definitely exposed to more germs thanks to her big bro.

  • My patience. I can’t say for sure whether my son was objectively a “better” baby than my daughter at this age because I know I was way more patient as a first time mom. Perhaps my son’s cries were more predictable, but my daughter is thankfully a better night sleeper than her brother at this age. All I know is that after being able to converse with my son who explicitly tells me his needs, trying to communicate with a hysterical baby who’s been fed, changed, and is in a great sleeping environment but won’t sleep can be frustrating! Since I know things get better with time, I almost wish she would grow up faster right now so we could skip certain things and get to a more fun age in a few months.

  • My heart. Before we were pregnant with our second children, some friends and I joked about how our first children are the best and any subsequent child wouldn’t be able to live up to them. As a parent to one child, it’s hard to imagine how you could possibly love another child as much as your first. But your love increases. I found that my heart somehow grew to encapsulate more love for my daughter, because it’s not like I took love away from my son to make room for her. I embrace the differences between my children and love them for the individuals that they are. And I can’t wait to see my daughter’s personality develop and fall even more in love with her.

    What else has been different for you the second time around?

 

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 Beginnings: Second Pregnancy

Chantal Standafer

I remember being asked, while still pregnant with Gaby (my first child), “How many children are you going to have?” And being asked about number two after barely having given birth! Seriously, I do not understand why people think that’s an appropriate question, especially as I was still a zombie from being up all hours of the night (and day) with said baby. But as time went on and we got into a rhythm and things felt more manageable, we did start thinking about baby number two. While I had an idea of what to expect based off of my first pregnancy, I also knew that no two pregnancies would be exactly alike.

The second pregnancy, while not overly difficult, did have its ups and downs. Initially I had been worried that I would have terrible morning sickness like I had while pregnant with Gaby. I was also worried about how I would be able to care for Gaby, who was just over a year old, if I was feeling very sick (or tired). Each pregnancy is different, and luckily in my case that meant I was not as nauseous or tired as I had been during the first pregnancy. I took it as a sign that we were having a boy (opposite sex of the first baby)...and I happened to be right!

But just as we found out we would be having a baby boy, I began to bleed--which was very scary! It’s one of those things you are told to immediately call the doctor if it happens. I was terrified. Thankfully, during an ultrasound the next day we saw baby boy and heard a strong heartbeat. It turned out that I had a subchorionic hematoma. To be safe, my doctor put me on bed rest for the weekend, then down to partial bedrest after the next ultrasound. I went from being very active, working out and playing with my toddler, to not being able to lift my groceries. This was a hard adjustment for us, but it did allow Gaby even more space to grow up--she perfected climbing up and down stairs and in and out of the car. And I had to learn to ask for and accept help.

After 13 weeks of restricted activity, the specialist I saw stated that everything had cleared up and I could go back to life as normal. By that point I was nearly in my third trimester. I eased back into my workout regimen, and we continued to prepare for baby boy’s arrival. Among other things, we moved Gaby into a toddler bed in order to free the crib, and I adjusted the dresser and closet storage to allow for two sets of diapers and clothing.   

In the end, I never felt like the pregnancy was dragging on. It actually seemed to go by really quickly this time. I’m pretty sure much of this was due to chasing a toddler around everyday, as well as launching our company!  Being so busy also kept me from worrying too much about the pregnancy and the change to come.  

How were your pregnancies different?  

 

New Beginnings: First Pregnancy

Chantal Standafer

My first pregnancy not only was the beginning of my daughter’s life, it was also the beginning of my journey into parenthood. As in many journeys,  I didn’t know exactly how it was going to be. There was a general structure, in this case approximately 40 weeks of growing a person inside of me. And that brought about a lot of change, which ranged from downright miserable (morning sickness) to absolutely amazing (baby kicks!). Here are some of the major ones I experienced during my first pregnancy:

In the first trimester, there was so much excitement when we found out that I was pregnant. But that was nearly overshadowed by hearing baby’s heartbeat for the first time during the 8 week ultrasound. Along with those highs were some not so lovely symptoms though. I was absolutely exhausted. Luckily my schedule was flexible and I could take a solid nap in the afternoon. I was also extremely nauseous. The nausea started around the 5 week mark and the only thing that helped relieve the symptom was lying down. Thinking about cooking made me feel ill, and I had aversions to anything remotely fresh and healthy. My go-to food was pasta with tomato sauce, which I tried to pass off as a solid vegetable choice. But that quickly changed (at the time it felt like forever).

In the second trimester, I started to feel better and have more energy. Salads were back as a staple in my diet and I was hitting the gym more. I actually felt pretty great. My body started to noticeably change and I had to get some maternity clothing. Going shopping for pants was a somewhat traumatizing experience, but we’ll save that story for another day. The upside was that baby was getting bigger, and I was able to feel the kicks and movements. Which was absolutely awesome. This was hands down one of my favorite experiences during my pregnancy.

In the third trimester, I still felt much better than the first trimester but not quite as awesome as in the second. The low of this one was the glucose tests. They were gross. And yes, that’s right, I had to take both the 1 and 3 hour tests. I also had to get used to my growing and changing body.  It was awkward to sleep and get up in the morning. But neither of those things were the end of the world. Plus there were also really fun times, including baby showers and eventually meeting our little one! I was really just so excited to meet baby, and spent a lot of time wondering if it would be a boy or girl (we chose not to find out during the anatomy scan), what being a mom would be like, planning how to best organize the nursery, etc.

The 39 weeks I spent pregnant felt like both an eternity and a blink of an eye. In hindsight, the length, changes and highs and lows of the pregnancy were a taste of parenthood to come. It was a visual reminder that life is not static. And it came in very handy once baby was born….because she was constantly changing!

What was the biggest change for your during your pregnancy? What did you most enjoy about this journey? 

The 25 Best Parent Hacks

Laura Hahn

An example of a onesie with an envelope neck. 

An example of a onesie with an envelope neck. 

Whether you're a first time mom or a seasoned parent with multiple children, we can all benefit from a few parent-related hacks that can make our lives even a little bit easier with kids. I scrounged up the best tried-and-true tips I could find from parents who use these daily (they start from infancy and go toward toddlerhood). Add yours to the comments! 

1. The onesies with a wide envelope neck are designed to be pulled down over your baby's shoulders and off their body in the case of a diaper blow out, so you don't need to pull soiled clothes over their head. 

2. For newborns in a baby bathtub: put a towel behind them and roll both sides lengthwise to act as a buffer (looks like the baby is a hotdog and the towel is a hotdog bun). The towel prevents them from sliding and holds heat against them.

3. Change the nursery lights to work on a dimmer, or use an LED candle you can turn on and off for middle of the night feedings or diaper changes.

4. Use a mobile app like Total Baby or BabyConnect to keep track of feeding, sleeping, diapers, medication, and more. This is especially handy the first few months when the pediatrician asks about timing and how many wet diapers the baby has a day. If you’re nursing, it also tracks which side you last nursed from so you don’t forget. You can also track doctor’s appointments, milestones, and more.

5. Throw away poop diapers in grocery store produce bags or dog poop bags to keep the stink at bay in your trash can. You can even place a bunch of the bags in an empty wipes container for easy access.

6. Make a portable changing station with diapers, wipes, cream and a foldable changing pad in a basket so you don’t have to go to baby's room every time to change a diaper.

7. DIY crib protectors for teething babies are super easy and sew free--cut a piece of fleece and tie together between the slats. Instructions here.

8. If your kid loves keys, go to the hardware store and ask if they have any messed up keys they were cutting, or get a few uncut keys (to reduce the number of sharp edges). Get a ring to hold them together and you have another set for baby without worrying where your real keys are.

9. Attach a plastic hook to the back of the highchair to hang bibs for immediate access before meals.

10. Use lanolin as chapstick or on dry/chapped skin.

11. Instead of microwaving your coffee every hour (because who has the chance to drink it all in one sitting?), keep it in an insulated travel mug so it stays warm for hours.

12. Use a mesh laundry bag when washing baby socks to prevent losing them.

13. Keep 2 tupperware bins in your child’s closet, one labeled for outfits too big, and one for too small. When an outfit is outgrown, throw it in the “too small” bin and see if you can replace it with one from the “too big” bin. Items in the “too small” bin can then be given away or labeled by size for future use with another child!

14. Use an over the door shoe holder to organize hats, leg warmers, tiny shoes, and other accessories. You can also use a smaller holder in the car to hold wipes and toys.

15. Use a pizza cutter to quickly and easily cut your child’s food.

16. Use binder clips to keep bibs fastened to prevent kiddos from pulling them off.

17. To prevent your toddler from falling asleep in the car or stroller (so you can make it home and put them down for a real nap instead of a 20 min power nap and then them never sleeping again), give them a small Dum Dum lollipop to keep them awake.

18. Color in the white scuff marks on your kid's shoes with a crayon or sharpie. 

19. Use coffee filters to hold dry finger foods/snacks at home. You can buy a ton for cheap and it's super easy clean up! Works especially well when you have multiple children.

20. Turn a used lotion bottle into a faucet extender. Directions here.

21. If your toddler is starting to pull off his diaper, put him in a onesie to prevent access to it. If you don’t have anymore onesies in his size, duct tape the tabs together to keep it closed.

22. Speaking of duct tape...before they play in the snow, use it to keep your toddler’s mittens and coat sleeves together to prevent them from falling off. It’s also waterproof!

23. For girls: 4T shirts function perfectly as 2T dresses. Get some extra wear out of those clothes!

24. Cover a play table in Glad’s Press-n-Seal to protect the table and for easy clean up after arts and crafts.

25. For parents of potty trained kids, leave post its in your bag and use one to cover the toilet sensor in public restrooms so it doesn’t flush suddenly and scare your child.

Have more you want to add to the list? Write them in the comments below!