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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 Category: Family

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?

Story of the Second Child

Laura Hahn

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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?

 

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?

 

 

 

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: Preparing a Toddler for a Sibling

Laura Hahn

D and his best bud, Daniel Tiger.

D and his best bud, Daniel Tiger.

When I found out I was pregnant with my second, I knew that one of the biggest things I’d need to prepare for before her arrival was getting my son acclimated to (and hopefully excited about) the idea of becoming a big brother. Each child reacts differently, but the age at which they become an older sibling seems to make a difference as well. Younger than 2 may be a bit young for them to get a full grasp beforehand of what’s about to happen, but since I knew my son would be 2.5 years old, we’ve been able to prepare him for months, and as of now (a couple weeks pre-baby), he seems to be getting it and has even expressed excitement! Here are a few things we’ve done to help prepare him for the big day:

  1. Give him books about becoming a big brother. He got three big brother books for Christmas, and we’ve been reading them to him consistently. We like the ones we’ve chosen for him since they are practical--they give a glimpse of what life will be like when the baby comes home, and we’ll be able to refer back to the book if/when a similar situation occurs.

  2. Show him the Daniel Tiger episodes when he becomes a big brother. I don’t know about your kid, but mine is obsessed with Daniel Tiger. He listens to his songs before bed (available on Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon), has a few of his books, and went to see Daniel Tiger Live a few weeks ago as a special treat for his last days as an only child. He loves relating to Daniel and talking about what he does in the episodes, and seeing him become a big brother has definitely helped him grasp the idea of what that means. Darian even exclaimed, “I’m going to be a big brother soon!” while watching an episode. We’ll most likely be singing Daniel’s jingles non-stop once his sister comes, including, “you can be a big helper in your family” and “there’s time for you and baby, too.”

  3. Talk to him about his sibling, being a brother, and being a big helper. Repetition is key in getting a child to understand something, so we’ve been talking for months about Darian becoming a brother and asking him where his baby sister is (“in mommy’s belly”). He has come to many of my OB appointments, where he helps out by putting the doppler on my belly and checking his sister's heartbeat. He also claims he’s a big boy rather than a baby when we ask him, so hopefully this distinction will keep his jealousy at bay since he’s a big helper and can do lots of things babies can’t do. Some friends have attested that stressing the “big kid” aspect has helped tremendously. 

  4. Test run his reaction by holding a friend’s baby. While at a play date, I held my friend’s baby in front of D to see how he would react. Surprisingly, he didn’t seem to mind at all! I talked to him about it and he knew that I was holding a baby, and that he had to be very gentle. However, on a different occasion when I was playing with another child around his age, he became very jealous and acted out. I’m hoping this is a sign that he sees a baby as non-threatening since she’s not his peer, and that he’ll view her from the older caretaker side. I’ve heard this to be the case for kids a bit older as well, especially since they’re into specific things and baby toys aren’t really appealing to them.

Of course, all of these things are abstract until the day he actually becomes a big brother, so we’ll see how much they helped when the day finally comes. When he visits us in the hospital, we'll be sure the baby will be in the bassinet instead of one of us holding her, so he doesn't get possessive. His sister will also “give” him a present so they start off on a generous foot. Thankfully, the first few weeks we’ll have grandparents in town, so he will have undivided attention from an adult through the transition.

For those with multiple children, how else have you prepared your children for their new siblings?