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

Filtering by Tag: parenting

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? 

 

Being "go with the flow" parents

Chantal Standafer

When I was pregnant with our first child, we often talked about what our future family would look like. Not necessarily in terms of what our kid would look like, but more in terms of our family’s philosophy. We observed what friends were doing in raising their children and reflected on those things. The biggest point we noticed was the difference between how people parented with the first child versus subsequent. By the time the third child rolled around, they were pretty relaxed and went with more of a “go with the flow” approach.

We decided that this was how we wanted to be right off the bat with our first child. Our kids were coming into the world and joining the life we had started together, not vice versa. We wanted to still get out, explore our city, enjoy eating out and spend time with our family and friends.

So what does this look like for us? It varies depending on the season we are in. We got out a lot when our daughter was a baby, including taking strolls with the family to our favorite neighborhood brunch spot and walking in the park when she was a few weeks old. I would make it to a bi-monthly moms group, even though that was during the morning and a possible nap time. And really it didn’t change too much as she got older. We’d try to be home for her to take a nap, but if she ended up sleeping while we were out and about we didn’t think twice. And even as she entered the toddler phase, often she was just as comfortable being over at a friend’s house as when she was at home.

We try to do the same as much as possible in this next stage with two kids. That has proven to be a bit more difficult, however, as more of our friends now have kids and everyone is on different schedules! Nowadays brunch can be easier than dinner time to get together with them. But one of our favorite ways to make it easier to get together with friends in the evening is bringing our travel crib with us and putting the kids to rest when it’s their bedtime. That way they get their sleep and we get some much loved (and needed!) adult time.

How have you approached the addition of a baby to your family?

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?

 

 

 

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!

The Ups and Downs of a Second Pregnancy

Laura Hahn

D meeting my friend's newborn and getting in some big brother practice!

D meeting my friend's newborn and getting in some big brother practice!

I always knew I wanted to have 3 kids, but after my first, I didn't even want to think about another child until my son was at least one year old. I wasn't taking any chances so I got on birth control ASAP, plus I really wanted time to have my body back to myself since I nursed for a year. When we decided we were ready to try for #2, we fortunately ended up getting pregnant right away. Getting that positive pregnancy test was definitely exhilarating, but it also opened up a lot of emotions that I wasn't expecting (beyond the expected hormonal onset of pregnancy). Here are just a few:

  • Sadness. I love my son so much, and there's something so special about your first child since he or she is what made you a mom. We have a special bond and relationship since I can give my undivided love and attention to him. When it started to sink in that he would have a sibling soon and it would no longer be just the two of us, I actually cried thinking about it when I was rocking with him before bed, just like I did every night when he was an infant. I know that having a sibling will enrich his life and their relationship will be special in a way that I will never be able to provide, but I can't help but mourn for the end of our exclusive time together.

  • Dread. This mostly refers to the newborn phase. I love babies, but I found that I am really enjoying age 2 right now with my son (I am terrified for age 3 though). I don't have to carry him everywhere, he can follow instructions and therefore help me out with little things, but mainly he sleeps through the night and I'm not nursing him. I'm already exhausted at the end of each day, so I'm not exactly stoked to sleep less, go through physical pain and a long healing process, and nurse around the clock--while still having to care for another child. Which brings me to...

  • Fear. I know a lot of moms with multiple children who say it was hardest for them to adjust from zero to one child, but I think because I have so many nieces and nephews, I knew ahead of time certain ways my life would change and I was prepared for that. But, since I'll be the one caring for the kids most of the day, with a second I'm now going to be outnumbered and that scares me! At this point I feel like I can keep it together most days with my son (read: we’re alive and can make it out of the house), but throwing a baby into the mix is definitely going to take some time to adjust. The good thing is that infants are stationary for awhile so at least I won't be chasing after two kids right away (moms of twins or more--I am not worthy). Another parent told me that at least you have two hands to handle two. Three is a different story I guess!

  • Excitement. Of course, it’s not all bad! I shared earlier that we are expecting a girl this time, and I am definitely excited to have a different experience with her. Though pointing out trucks has become second nature to me now, having a little mini me, someone to hopefully send to my women-only alma mater, and a daughter to do fun girls' stuff with is just the beginning; I’m super excited to experience a different kind of bond with my daughter than with my son. But even if I were having another boy, it's exciting to see how your second child's personality will differ from your first and what that relationship will be like.

  • Joyful anticipation. Honestly, it’s hard for me to fathom loving another child as much as my son, but there was a glimmer of hope when I had my first ultrasound for the new baby and my maternal love kicked into gear. I’ve also heard from numerous other parents that you don’t divide your love for your kids; it multiplies and grows. While it took me about a month or so to become head over heels in love with my son--I wasn’t one of those women who immediately fell in love with their baby--it’s amazing to think that my heart will be capable of encompassing that much love. Darian has also been demonstrating incredible big brother traits already, like kissing my belly and saying, “love you, baby sister!” that while I’m going to be giving up a lot of control over my body, time, and let’s face it, cleanliness, I can’t wait for baby girl to get here and be part of our family.

What were some of your experiences like anticipating your second pregnancy? Were there any similarities with your subsequent pregnancies?