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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: Motherhood

Essential Daily Self-Care

Chantal Standafer

Taking time for family mealtime!

Taking time for family mealtime!

We often think of self-care as doing things out of our normal routine. And yes, taking time to pamper ourselves is wonderful. But in the bustle of caring for the kiddos, there are little things we can do each day to take care of ourselves.

One of the most essential parts of life is nourishment. Yet it is oh so common to hear of moms not having proper meals. But how are we supposed to keep up with our little ones if we’re not taking care of ourselves? Not to mention that they learn so much about eating habits (and everything else!) from us.

Not surprisingly, this is not the case in our house. Because I get hangry. And a hangry mom is not a good thing. When it happens, I get headaches that often won’t go away for a very long time, lose my cool pretty easily, and experience a host of other unpleasant symptoms.

So how do I solve this problem? I eat my meals with my kids. When Gaby, our oldest, was a baby, I would nurse her and then eat my meal. But once she started eating solids, her mealtime became mine. I would never have my kids skip a meal. So I don’t do it myself.

And here’s an added bonus: for those who like to complete items on their “to-do list,” you can add your meals to that list. You feel accomplished, and you’ve cared for yourself!

What other things do you do daily to care for yourself?

Celebrating Infant Immunization Week

Laura Hahn

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This week is National Infant Immunization Week (April 16-23), an annual observance by the CDC to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities. This is an important week for charlotte+asher since we firmly believe in the importance of infant vaccination, as we donate a specific amount from each bag purchase to the Shot@Life organization. Through Shot@Life, we help fight against the world’s four most deadliest diseases for children: measles, polio, pneumonia and diarrhea.

While these diseases are the most dangerous for children worldwide, that is not to take away from the importance of other routine vaccines we get here in the US and other developed countries. For example, it is routine for newborns to get a Vitamin K injection right after birth, whether at a hospital, birthing center, or even at home with a midwife. This shot ensures that your baby’s blood will be able to clot properly, as Vitamin K deficiencies are extremely serious and may cause life-threatening bleeding. The Hepatitis B shot is also routinely given to newborns before leaving the hospital, though at a birthing center or home birth you may get this at the first pediatrician visit.

As parents, sometimes it’s hard to see our children crying when receiving their vaccinations. I particularly admire and am thankful for the nurses who are expert shot givers and administer the shot and band aid in one fell swoop with minimal bleeding in a few seconds. However, that momentary crying is absolutely worth it to protect them from life-threatening diseases that would otherwise cause us and them to cry. It's worth remembering that even if a child catches but doesn't die from a vaccine-preventable disease, she can still suffer tremendously and will likely need a lot of medical intervention to survive. The facts and studies are out there showing the efficacy and safety of the vaccines our children receive at their pediatric visits. Some children may experience side effects like soreness at the site of vaccine or a low-grade fever, but these are usually mild, short lived, and treatable.

We should continue to discuss the importance of vaccines, raise questions to get a better understanding of them, and strive for the best concoctions. No vaccine is 100% effective, but many are 90% or higher and their effectiveness is increased by herd immunity. We support vaccines not just to protect ourselves and our children, but also as a public health contribution--to help protect each other, especially those who are immunocompromised and unable to get the vaccinations themselves. Our children are the future; they shouldn’t be held back by diseases we have been so fortunate to effectively fight. But we need to continue fighting so that we can win, together.

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?

 

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?

 

 

 

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?

 

 

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!