We’ve all had those days when we fall into bed exhausted after teaching, corralling, making difficult decisions, and nurturing our little ones. Then there are those moments where you have to make split-second parenting calls; you know, when your little one says something inappropriate out in public, especially when it’s directed towards someone. I had one of those public moments last week, when my gregarious son, after having been cooped-up in the house with a cold, decided to chat up every stranger we passed in the store. Declan’s a pretty charismatic kid, so people typically engage with him, whether he initiates it or not, but on this occasion, we happened to be next to a woman in the grocery store aisle who seemingly just wanted to shop in peace. After several “hellos”, Declan vocalized his inability to understand the lack of acknowledgement from the woman, turning to me and repeatedly saying “mommy, that little lady isn’t saying hi” and “why won’t that little lady say hi?” Every adult, for reasons only know to Declan, is a “little man” or a “little lady”, and other children are referred to as “little boys” and “little girls” (much to other, older children’s dismay).
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When I found out I was pregnant, shortly after making a huge out-of-state move for my husband’s company, I also found myself out of work. It was just one year after the publishing world collapsed and mass layoffs abounded; independent bookstores were closing at insane rates across the country, and big box store Borders abruptly closed all stores. I found myself going through multiple rounds of interviews with Philadelphia publishers…only to find that I didn’t get the positions. Here I was, with only a handful of years in the publishing industry, going up against publishing veterans with 10+ years of experience who were willing to take a pay cut and a position beneath their experience to remain in the industry they loved.
When my pregnancy test came out positive, I knew my days of serious job hunting were over. There was no way I could lie about my pregnancy and let’s face it, no one was really going to hire me if I disclosed my pregnancy, especially with the abundance of qualified applicants in the market. In an effort to bide my time and make a little money while pregnant, I took a part time job in a bookstore, working as a children’s book specialist.
The outer shelves of my section were filled with pregnancy and parenting books, and I came across an interesting title while shelving books in the section. That book was Bringing Up Bebé. As a soon-to-be parent, I was intrigued by this seemingly different parenting wisdom, so I grabbed a copy (well before it hit bestseller lists). I think Bringing Up Bebé was so popular is because it didn’t read like a parenting book, and the success of the “groundbreaking” ideas in Frenchwomen Don’t Get Fat were still resonating in America. The French were apparently doing life right, and we Americans wanted a piece of it.
If I’m honest, many of the ideas I gleaned from Bringing Up Bebé were forgotten in the throes of being a new parent, but quite a few resonated with me and “stuck”. I was delighted when the opportunity arose to write about a book that was a big part of my own pregnancy for Care.com!
You can read some of my thoughts in this piece, 5 Things I Learned From Bringing Up Bebé, on Care.com.
*This post contains affiliate links.
I’ve written about a myriad of parenting books, but have yet to write about great prenatal books…until now. What to Expect® When You’re Expecting was on my radar long before I even knew that I wanted children. It wasn’t because I owned a copy, though many of my girlfriends did, it was because I was a merchandising manager working in a bookstore. Each week, I would arrange the books on the bestseller list in the front shelves, and each week What to Expect® When You’re Expecting was on the list. The rank didn’t remain the same, so I found myself shuffling the title’s position on a weekly basis, but What to Expect® When You’re Expecting always remained in that top ten. What to Expect® When You’re Expecting has spent over six-hundred weeks (over ELEVEN YEARS) on the New York Times bestseller list; in fact, if you check the New York Times bestseller list this week, you’ll find that What to Expect® When You’re Expecting is on the list. Pretty impressive, eh?
So why does What to Expect® brand remain a top seller in pregnancy and childcare books? Timeless advice and continual word-of-mouth recommendations. If you come across a copy of What to Expect® When You’re Expecting from the 80s, and even the 90s, you’ll have a great laugh at the illustrations within. Moms wearing muumuu-type maternity wear will have you giggling throughout, but guess what? The advice will still be spot-on for your pregnancy. In fact, when I first told my closest girlfriend I was pregnant (about 10 minutes after getting my positive pregnancy test result), the first question she asked was whether she could buy me my (notice I used “my” instead of “a”) copy of What to Expect® When You’re Expecting — it’s a rite a passage.
When I finally married and became pregnant, What to Expect® When You’re Expecting became a nightly ritual for me. The anticipation of one’s first pregnancy is killer and I found myself rereading the same passages each night before bed. I wanted to know what was going on with my body, how my baby was developing, and the small asides in the books about all of the strange and fascinating things happening to my pregnant body. Dark nipples, heartburn of hellfire proportions, aches, pains and swollen ankles – all of these things (and more) were covered in What to Expect® When You’re Expecting.
I loved the What to Expect® brand so much that I purchased What to Expect® The First Year, just before my son was born. There I read about the fourth trimester and breastfeeding, and then read ahead to see what I could expect month to month. With an entire line of prenatal, postnatal and baby care books, with trusted advice, I can understand why the What to Expect® brand remains a top pick and why What to Expect® When You’re Expecting has been on the bestseller list for over 11 years.
I’m curious to know how many of you read What to Expect® When You’re Expecting during your first pregnancy! Chime in in the comments section below!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls, the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
*This post contains affiliate links.
By now you know that I really enjoy parenting books, especially those dealing with the psychology of parenting (and early childhood). So many of my recent parenting reads have dealt with the toddler years, so it was refreshing to receive a review copy of former Stanford dean, Julie Lythcott-Haims’ How To Raise An Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.
You might be wondering why I’m reading a book about raising and adult, with my son not yet three years old. The beauty of Lythcott-Haims’ book is that it applies to parents of babies through college students. It’s never too early — or too late — to tweak your parenting practices. Lythcott-Haims provides a bevy of research in How To Raise An Adult, but the research doesn’t bog down your reading because it’s presented in a conversational tone.
We’ve all heard the term helicopter parenting, but how many of us have ever explored how and why this parenting trend came about? I’ve often wondered, especially when I read articles reporting parents sitting in on their children’s job interviews or negotiating benefits packages for them, but I’ve never really explored the hows and whys (and knowing these can help me avoid becoming a helicopter parent). Lythcott-Haims provides a wonderful, research-backed, explanation of how the overparenting trend began. My favorite passage is something my husband and I have often laughed about when talking about childhood:
Look, today’s grandmothers were raised in completely different times. And they weren’t exactly watchful as parents. In fact between their smoke and drink-filled pregnancies, leaving us home alone while they were at work or out “finding themselves,” and record-setting divorce and remarriage rates, many of us who were born in the ’60s and ’70s fended for ourselves to an extent that today might be called neglect. (45)
Lythcott-Haims suggests that the overparenting trend may be in reaction to the laid-back approach our parents took towards parenting. I can’t say that I disagree, as she makes a solid case.
So, how does this relate to me, the parent of a toddler? Lythcott-Haims provides many examples of how overparenting ‘looks’, as well as illustrating how overparenting effects our children into adulthood. If we truly believe, as Lythcott-Haims says, that “One of the key life skills our children must develop…is the ability to live without us,” then we must do everything possible to avoid becoming helicopter parents (86).
So, why do so many women lose themselves in parenting? I’ve held this theory for a long time, and have even spoken about it, but Lythcott-Haims shares Psychotherapist Beth Gagnon’s take on this phenomenon: “Highly educated women pour their skills into parenting. They become experts at parenting in their mind” (121).
What is the key to nurturing your children and not crossing over the line into overparenting? Lythcott-Haims provides a beautifully simple mantra, developed by her friend, Stacey Ashlund. Are you ready for it?
- first we do it for you,
- then we do it with you,
- then we watch you do it,
- then you do it completely independently (166).
Brilliant! These are just a few of the many nuggets of parenting wisdom Julie Lythcott-Haims shares in How To Raise An Adult. A highly enjoyable read, I’ve learned a great deal from the research and examples provided in the book. If you’re interested in finding out more about raising your children for success without overparenting, pick up your copy today! How To Raise An Adult is available in bookstores, or you can purchase through my Amazon affiliate link HERE.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Close your eyes and think back to your earliest memories of childhood. What stands out the most? What memories and moments put a smile on your face?
When I close my eyes, I can almost smell the woodsmoke in the crisp fall air, and hear the crunch of fallen leaves under my feet, on one the many nature walks I took as a child. When I hear the word circus, I’m taken back to a time when I was a third of the size I am now, my father lying on his back and bouncing me on his feet as I held onto his outstretched hands [for dear life]. Laughter, lots and lots of laughter. My father smoothing my forehead with the palm of his hand, saying “smooth as a baby’s behind,” and my mother calling me “Lauren Bethy-Boo” in a sing-song voice. These memories are the result of simple moments in my childhood, but each has had a larger, lasting impact on me.
I’ve seen an influx of people with children ordering subscription boxes; pregnant, those with infants, toddlers, elementary aged children. I just don’t get it, and I think it feeds what will likely become a sense of entitlement when children get older.
Fellow parents, how many times have you had to cancel plans because you couldn’t find a babysitter or your sitter canceled last minute? What if I told you that being left without a sitter was a thing of the past, as is scrambling to find cash to pay your sitter? Well, my friends, the Sitterberry app is helping parents and sitters everywhere!
My experience with sitters isn’t great. We live away from family and friends, so our network for finding good sitters is, well, nonexistent. I’m pretty laid back when it comes to parenting, but I have a difficult time trusting a complete stranger to watch my kiddo when I’m not around.
For about nine months before D. began nursery school, my solution to getting work done during the week was to hire a mother’s helper. I really just needed someone to occupy my little guy and make sure that he didn’t climb the bookshelves or draw on the walls while I worked in the next room. Using Care.com, I struggled to find anyone, and the mother’s helpers I did find and hire weren’t especially committed to the job. Womp-womp!
After speaking with Kathleen Malone, founder of the Sitterberry app, I discovered that I was going about things all wrong. Care.com findings show that it’s normal for families to go through 4-5 sitters per year. Here I was, throwing all of my eggs into one basket and then scrambling when my mother’s helpers left. My downfall? According to Malone, “it’s important to have 4-5 babystters on hand at any given time.”
What I was doing right, however, was using a service like Care.com to find and screen sitters, though word of mouth or recommendations from friends are close seconds. If you’re like me, living in an area with little to no connections, Malone suggests asking camp counselors, after school activity teachers or preschool teachers/teacher’s aids. In fact, the summer camp Malone’s children attend provides parents with a sheet of contact information for those camp counselors on staff who are also available for babysitting jobs. Genius!
So, how does the Sitterberry app fit into all of this? Once you have 4-5 sitters in your hopper, or 5+ if you’re really
lucky good, it’s time to use Sitterberry so that you’re never left without a babysitter.
The Sitterberry app allows parents to add their pool of sitters within the app, and in turn, their sitters use Sitterberry to load their calendars of availability. Each sitter’s information is stored, allowing parents to check availability and request them at the touch of a button. No more phone tag, no more phone chains; all of your sitters in one place!
It gets better, my friends. You can pay your babysitter through the Sitterberry app, using Venmo. I can’t tell you how many times I found myself having forgotten to get cash (I never keep cash on hand) and uncomfortably asking my sitter if it was okay if I wrote her a check. Many, many times. With the Sitterberry app, you simply navigate to your sitter’s contact information and select “Pay”. The app will carry over the rate, so you need only enter the number of hours and tip to calculate your payment — brilliant!
As for me, I’m working on gathering together a pool of trusted sitters so that I’m able to use Sitterberry. Anyone have any leads on a great sitter in the Philadelphia area?
Download Sitterberry for free on iTunes today, and breathe new life into your social game!
You’ve read the books, gathered tips and tricks and your sleeping baby is snoozing like a champ! Now what? These 5 tips will keep your little one sleeping soundly.
- Learn to Swaddle
Though you likely wouldn’t be happy in a blanket burrito, your baby is. Swaddles are a wonderful way to help newborns feel safe and comforted, and can also aid greatly with getting your baby to fall and stay asleep. You can choose to purchase a specially made swaddle, making it easier to tuck your baby in, or use a receiving blanket to wrap your baby up.From a physiological perspective, swaddles help keep the Moro reflex — also known as the startle reflex, when babies react to bright light or noise by stretching and retracting their arms, often waking themselves up in the process — to a minimum. Jennifer Schindele, a certified pediatric sleep consultant and owner of Gift of Sleep Consulting, reminds parents to swaddle their baby safely, “keeping in mind that the hips should remain loose within the swaddle while keeping it tighter around the arms.” She recommends transitioning your infant away from the swaddle and into a sleep sack or wearable blanket when your baby is around 3 months old.
- Keep the Room Cool
Though it might be tempting to crank up the heat when you put your baby to bed, keep your baby’s room temperature between 65 and 72 degrees, recommends Teresa Stewart, the owner of Family Solutions and the director of parenting education for the International Maternity and Parenting Institute. She explains, “Basically, cooler is always better than warmer. Not only does [a cooler room] reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and suffocation, it also helps the baby sleep better.”Stewart suggests that parents add a fan to the nursery if they feel the room is too hot. To remind yourself to turn down the heat, remember the rhyme “cool and comfy, and not warm and stuffy,” as Schindele says. In addition, be mindful of what your baby is wearing to sleep in. Parents should use “cotton or muslin for swaddling,” says Stewart, “since those are light and breathable materials. We don’t want a baby to become too warm while swaddled.”
I’m not a parenting expert, I just play one on my blog. Ha! Nothing could be further from the truth, but I do share about my foibles as well as my successes in parenting.
Now that my son is in the throes of toddlerhood, much of my parenting is about guiding and teaching him to become a well-adjusted, emotionally healthy being equipped to deal with whatever curveballs life throws him. I’m fascinated by child psychology, especially that which deals with parenting.
I’ll be the first to admit that parenting throughout the toddler years can be a challenge. In fact, it has been a challenge for me, which is why I am constantly in search of materials to better educate my parenting techniques. I learned very early on that I needed to take a ‘choose your battles’ approach, but after reading Dr. Tovah Klein’s How Toddlers Thrive, I’ve found that I really don’t have any ‘battles’ to choose these days.
You may be wondering how it is that I, with a two-and-a-half-year-old son, no longer have any battles of will with my toddler; it’s not that there aren’t difficult parenting moments, it’s that I understand the reasoning behind the behavior and am better equipped to parent through what used to be incredibly trying toddler moments. I have Dr. Klein to thank for my new parenting skills (and outlook)!
Dr. Tovah Klein is the Director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development, and is often referred to as “The Toddler Whisperer”. Klein’s twenty years of toddler research, and complete immersion into the world of toddlers, translates into her veritable handbook for [successfully] parenting through the toddler years: How Toddlers Thrive.
Klein’s How Toddlers Thrive is a fluid read, devoid of the heavy use of clinical terms that often weigh down many psychological texts. Parents will appreciate the organizational structure of How Toddlers Thrive, clearly divided into different topic areas (read: concerns), making it easy for parents to flip through to pertinent sections. Most importantly, Klein provides real-life examples of situations parents of toddlers often encounter; she discusses how parents were handling the situation, the causes of that particular behavior, the adjustments the parents made in how they treated the situation, and the outcome after altering their approach. These scenarios, with scripts, are extremely valuable for someone like myself, as probing and acknowledging my child’s feelings isn’t something that comes naturally to me.
Perhaps the greatest wisdom How Toddlers Thrive imparts is for parents to put themselves into their toddler’s shoes, armed with knowledge of the emotional, cognitive and physical abilities of this age (2-5 years old). Understanding that your child’s brain is still developing and is incapable of approaching and dealing with daily life situations in the manner we adults are accustomed to, is the key to parenting through the toddler years. In How Toddlers Thrive, Klein states:
Children are not mini adults. They don’t think like we do. They don’t see the world like we see it. Toddlers are not thinking ahead of themselves. They cannot. They are beings tied amazingly to the present tense, thinking only about themselves and wanting to feel safe, loved, taken care of, and yet independent all at once. (7)
Simple, right? I needed Klein to remind me of this, and explain in greater detail what is going on with my toddler, so that I could (and can) slowly adjust how I approach [what used to be difficult] situations with my toddler. Armed with the knowledge Klein provides in How Toddlers Thrive, I’ve found myself gradually becoming a more patient and understanding parent. I no longer attempt to engage in a ‘battle of wills’ with my toddler, instead, I purposely connect during times of frustration, probing and acknowledging my son’s feelings and [re]actions. And guess what? Temper tantrums and other behaviors one would label as acting out are few and far between.
When my son told me that he hated me last week, I knew he was navigating his newfound emotional independence and testing out a new word in his vocabulary (I’m not sure where it came from, though). His next statement, after I expressed no alarm and probed his reason for making such a statement, was “I love you, mom.” The incident, if you could even call it that, was over before it ever really began. What I was left with was a verbal indicator of how my son’s brain was piecing together information, making sense of the world around him, and asserting his independence in a new way.
Perhaps my biggest reason for reading as much as I can about child development, and learning healthy parenting strategies, is because I want use every tool I can to help my son develop into an emotionally healthy individual. Klein speaks about the importance of this early in How Toddlers Thrive, and it remained in my mind throughout the remainder of the book:
Indeed, how we interact with our toddlers now plays an enormous role in how they develop later. Set a strong foundation during the toddler years, and ongoing development has a firm base. Weaken that foundation during these crucial years, and the consequences are seen for years to come. (9)
Think about the enormity of that statement. If you find yourself struggling to parent through your child’s toddler years, are engaging in daily battles of wills, or are interested in preparing yourself for your baby’s next stage of development, I wholeheartedly recommend picking up a copy of Dr. Tovah Klein’s How Toddlers Thrive; I guarantee you’ll find yourself parenting differently after reading.
For more information about Tovah Klein, her work with toddlers, and more parenting tips, visit www.howtoddlersthrive.com. How Toddlers Thrive is available in major bookstores, or you can purchase through my affiliate link on Amazon HERE.
*I was sent a copy of How Toddlers Thrive for review purposes; all opinions expressed are my own.
Curious to learn more about toddlers and their emotions? Check out this article by The Brain Flux.
If you’ve been following lo-wren for a while, you may have noticed that the frequency with which I post has decreased quite a bit, going from three posts a week to one (maybe – I try to publish at least once a week). Trust me, this does not signify an end to my blogging, it’s just grown a little more difficult to manage with other projects I have on my plate. I love to write, and my initial goal in starting this blog, over two years ago, was to have both an outlet and an online portfolio for possible freelance writing opportunities. As my blog has grown, so has my writing, and pieces that I used to write in just an hour now take upwards of 4 hours, between editing and creating a graphic. I put a great deal more effort into what I present to the public these days.
After a year and a half of blogging, my writing goals were beginning to be realized, as I became a Huffington Post contributor, and had pieces selected for Scary Mommy and other outlets. Getting published in larger venues has translated into freelance writing jobs, aside from blogging, something I am incredibly grateful for. I currently ghostwrite a business blog, and have just taken a position writing parenting articles for a large online babysitting/nannying website. Because of these duties, and the fact that I do all of this with a two year old at home, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to write quality pieces for my blog — it’s been a juggling act, of sorts. I’m currently in the process of hiring a mother’s helper to help occupy my son a few hours a week while I work, so there will likely be a bit of silence on my end over the next few weeks as I bring someone in to help and get adjusted. I’m mentally exhausted from this juggling act, but my passion for writing, and my desire to reach personal and career goals is what is driving me to push through until I get some much needed help.
My 2015 goal is to beef up my print portfolio, and I am happy to say that I will be announcing at least two books I’m being published in this year (here’s a sneak peek at one of them), with the hope of being selected for several more. That being said, I have no plans to give up this space, that I’ve put countless of hours of work into, as it’s an outlet where I can use my own, unique voice, and choose to disregard any formal writing conventions. I’m excited to see what this year brings, and hope you’ll stick with me through it all. Most of all, thank you for being a part of this amazing journey with me!