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Getting into Back into a Routine After Summer

Posted on Aug 6, 2014 by 1 Comment

Back-to-school is a chaotic time of year. Children and parents alike are trying their best to get back into a groove. It’s hard coming off a summertime full of sleeping in, staying up late and hanging out at beaches and having fun.

When August rolls around, it’s a hard transition period for children and parents alike. The first couple of weeks are the hardest. Bedtimes seem to come early and wake up calls even earlier.

If you are like me, I do much better at preparation if I have a list to work from. So, here is a small list of things that I think can help get the whole family back on track after a long summer of relaxation.

  1. Schedule well visits for before school starts back so that you are not hustling at the last minute trying to get kids caught up on shots and well-visits.
  2. Visit school ahead of time: Visit your child’s school the week before school starts back, especially if they are in the lower levels of primary school or at a new school. Teachers are back in school and welcome scheduled meetings. It will help ease some of the anxiety that comes with the first day of school.
  3. Back-to-school can be overwhelming for little kids. My girls go to private school so I think a lot of times they feel like they are swept up in this back-to-school machine because it’s the same uniforms every year. I like to alleviate some of that overwhelmed feeling by inviting them to go supply shopping with me; picking out pencils and folders gives them a sense of control and a place where they can demonstrate s individuality.
  4. Establish a morning routine to get children used to waking up by alarms, in the habit of making their bed, eating breakfast before 9 am, brushing teeth, getting dressed and brushing hair. Believe me, getting my girls to move before 9 a.m. during the summer is impossible and expecting them to magically just wake up on the first day of school is foolish of me. I have to let them know it is coming and be very clear about what I expect from them. It is what works for us in our house the most efficiently.
  5. Develop an after school routine. Take care of emptying Go folders, setting aside any forms that need to be signed or addressed as soon as your children get home. My girls come home, change into lounge clothes, have a snack, do homework, down time, dinner before bathtime.
  6. Prepare for the next day, lay out school clothes, sign papers, and make lunches and prep snacks the night before.
  7. Stick to a bedtime routine. It will cue your children’s body to relax and go to sleep, just like it did when they were babies. Bathtime, lay out the next days clothes, brush teeth, reading, talking, hugs and cuddles and absolutely no electronics.

How do you get back into your back-to-school routine?

Photo Source: The TRUTH about Motherhood

Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Posted on Jul 9, 2014 by No Comments

One of the hardest things for new moms to do after giving birth, aside from learning to keep the tiny person in their life alive, is going back to work after maternity leave. Most women find themselves torn because, while they might love their career, many of us are completely overwhelmed and blindsided by our attachment to our newborn babies.

I thought for sure I’d go back to work and leave my baby in the onsite daycare at the university but once I held her, it was all over.

I realized pretty quickly that I couldn’t leave my girls when they were newborns and luckily my husband’s job allowed me that luxury. I also knew I needed to work, so when they were newborns, I found work from home tutoring college students online.

I was lucky. But sometimes there is no choice and you have to go back to work, whether you want to or not. If you’re going to return to work after maternity leave or after taking time off to stay home, why not go back like a boss?

The first thing you’ll need to do is secure childcare that you feel completely comfortable with. That will be your biggest hurdle to returning to working outside the home.

Next, you will need to get a non-spit up covered wardrobe put together. Believe me, my girls are 8 and 6-years-old and I still have to do a foreign body fluid check of my clothes to make sure it’s public worthy. It’s not easy switching gears from cooing at a newborn all day to having actual conversations with co-workers. You need to mentally shift gears.

It will be hard in the beginning to separate Mommy you from corporate you. Obviously. You are always mommy first but when you are in the office, try to stay focused on your work and career goals.

Sure your baby is still the cutest baby ever, but try not boring your co-workers with a constant barrage of photos of your baby in the tub or spitting up. Soon, they will all be running the other way when they see you coming in their direction.

Use work as a chance to get some “me” time, meaning focus on you the person instead of just you the mom. Use all that time at work to focus on your projects and show your boss that motherhood has only increased your multi-tasking skills.

Be professional when you are at work. It will be hard those first few mornings to leave your precious little baby, but once you get to work, get into work mode. You can’t spend every moment obsessing over the webcam in your baby’s nursery.

Set aside certain times to check in on your baby, let your caregiver know that you cannot have constant phone calls and emails when you are at work unless it is an emergency. If not, you will run the risk of looking unprofessional and possibly losing your job.

Keep a schedule. Sure, as a mom, there will be situations that you will have to make allowances for like running a sick baby into the pediatrician’s office, or if your caregiver gets sick or doesn’t show up. You can’t prepare for these things but plan well visits around your work schedule and if you must be late or miss a day, make it up by working through lunch or putting in hours from home.

Prove your dedication to your job to your boss. It’s not an easy situation to get a handle on but with time, it will get easier to balance the two.

What’s your best tip for going back to work after having a baby?

photo credit: Ray_from_LA via photopin cc

Work-at-Home Moms: The Best of Both Worlds?

Posted on Jul 3, 2014 by 2 Comments

There is an age-old battle between the working mothers and the stay-at-home mothers that is as old as time, but there is a new breed of working mothers who are straddling both worlds.

This is difficult considering that you are working where you live. You are living where you work and you are raising children simultaneously while doing so. From personal experience, I can say that it is undoubtedly the hardest thing I have ever done but working from home allows many moms to work full-time and still enjoy their children.

During the day, working in a dedicated office while children are in the school is the ideal job, unless you have children who are still at home or who do not respect the borders of the office. Let’s face it; toddlers and preschool aged kids have no regard for a do not enter sign that they most likely cannot even read.

Many people hear that a mom works from home and instantly assume that she must have the best and easiest job in the world. She makes money to help support her family all while being home and tending to every need and want of her children.

Only that would be fabulous if there were two of her; instead she works while answering every “why” question of her 3-year-old. She takes business calls in her yoga pants while on mute so associates don’t hear the dog barking and toddler crying in the background.

This same woman spends what would be her “breaks” making snacks, rocking babies to sleep and wiping butts. There are no pauses in her days. No commute to decompress. There is only her intertwined work and home life that never seem to diverge.

While nearly 30 million Americans work from home at least once a week, telecommunicating is still extremely misunderstood. People think that working from home means not working. I assure you that this is not the case. Working from home is fantastic because you are spending more time in the home, but at the same time it is a constant state of worlds colliding.

It’s a delicate balancing act but there are some pros for mothers who work at home.

Telecommuting allows a mother to be engaged at work and still be at home.

Long commutes stuck in traffic are costly and challenging because of wasted work time stuck in transit. If you work from home, your day starts the minute the kids get on the bus and can end promptly at 4:59, rather than tacking on an hour each way away from family on the road.

Telecommuting allows moms to stay visible in the workforce.

Work-from-home balance split between days in the office and at home allows a mom to be home with her children and still visible at work via occasional days in the office, work share and via teleconferencing. It’s awesome if you want to be hands on while your child is small, yet not relinquish your career entirely.

The bottom line is that being a work at home mom is harder than it looks and takes a lot of organizational skills. It is a labor of love and if you want my real and honest advice, to do it you will be at home but you would be wise to invest in a maid who comes once a week, and a nanny to watch the children while you are working in your office is a must or you will end up failing on all accounts.

How to you balance work and home life?

Photo Source: Hugabub

Orgasmic Foods for Couples Trying to Conceive

Posted on Jul 2, 2014 by No Comments

If there were foods that could insure that you had a better, stronger, longer, more frequent orgasm, would you eat those foods? Of course you would; everybody would. Who doesn’t want better, stronger, longer and more frequent orgasms? I think most of us would eat them if there were just the slightest chance that it worked.

Well, believe it or not there are certain foods that are believed that simply by eating them they will get the blood flowing to all the important parts. Here is a list, just in case you want to make a meal that will give you a night to remember.

Here is the list of some of the most o-inducing foods you can eat:

Peppers

The hotter the pepper, the more hot and bothered you will find yourself. Peppers increase metabolism and get blood flowing to all the body parts, even the good ones. So next time you find yourself all hot and bothered, make the most of it.

Oysters

Not only are oysters an aphrodisiac; they’re also rich in zinc, which helps with the production of testosterone. So while the oysters get your motor revved up, they can also help get your partner’s sperm count up, which could be beneficial if you are trying to conceive.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate, like oysters, is a known aphrodisiac. I know that a good piece of chocolate can change my entire mood. That’s because it helps release mood-altering serotonin in the brain. So next time you are in the mood for a little ecstasy, have a piece of dark chocolate and see where the night takes you.

Oranges

Vitamin C keeps sexual organs satisfied. If you eat an orange or grab a glass of OJ, you can help keep yourself sex healthy.

Asparagus

Asparagus is my favorite vegetable anyways but apparently, this yummy green veggie is also rich in folate, which regulates the production of histamine. Histamine is the chemical released during orgasm. Eat some asparagus and get a jumpstart on your sexual appetite.

Watermelon

Watermelon is natural Viagra. Who knew? So if your man is having trouble getting an erection, skip the little blue pill feed him a big bowl of sweet, juicy watermelon. It’s definitely cheaper than Viagra and no pesky side effects like a 4-hour erection to contend with.

Have you ever tried any of these foods? Did they work? Just imagine the possibilities if you made a meal of all these foods at one sitting?

Photo Source: Chocolate Reviews

Living Between Mommy & Me

Posted on Apr 4, 2014 by 2 Comments

I woke up this morning, an hour earlier than usual. It probably  has something to do with my recent push to actually get some sleep. I was beginning to feel that sleep deprived state where you feel like you are in a fog.

Speaking of which, I awoke this morning with the remnants of a bad dream lingering on the horizon. In this dream, my husband tells me that he “likes” my friend. You know like when you are in elementary school and you “like” a boy. This is not what any woman wants to hear from her husband about her girlfriend, especially when she is your complete opposite.

Dream or not, it stabs a little bit. The laundry list of what he liked about her went on for what seemed like forever, which I suppose it would if you had to listen to your husband list why he likes another woman more than you. It was all like a horrible, cruel joke; a nightmare really.

I woke up feeling mocked, flawed and insecure. I’ve never felt so vulnerable and raw in my entire life. I’m not sure if this sleep thing is for me, if this is the side effect of sleep. I don’t like feeling so exposed.

It’s made me think hard about some things. Sometimes we spend so much of our time as Mommies powering through life that we never take the time to actually dwell on things like we did before we had kids.

That is usually a good thing because it saves us from living like lovesick teenagers; worrying about every look, glance, hidden meaning behind every word or gesture, second-guessing our relationships. But maybe sometimes we need to be reminded that we are not just Moms, who have to be strong for everyone, we are women. Living, breathing human beings who have wants and needs of our own and that’s okay.

Sometimes we need to invest some time dwelling on our relationships with our spouses and ourselves. After all, they fell in love with soft young girls, who doted on their every breath and hung on every word. My husband met me when I was 25 and in the best shape of my life, physically. I used to turn heads when I entered a room. I was vivacious and full of life.

I know we don’t have time for such niceties as lingering looks and 2-hour tub soaks everyday with the house falling down around us, kids swinging from the chandeliers, bills to be paid, and laundry to be done, but I think my dream was a reminder that I need to make more of an effort to be just me when he and I are alone. I need to look at myself as a woman and not just a mother because if I don’t, no one else will either and that can’t be good for any relationship.

Mommy mode is too high powered to remain in 24/7; if we stay on mommy mode we will burn out our motors and then we will be of no use to anyone.

How do you make time for yourself and your marriage when you have young children?

Photo Source: Ali Edwards

Bedtime Rituals Gone Bad

Posted on Mar 12, 2014 by No Comments

I have two wonderful daughters that I adore. These two kids are my reason for waking up every morning, quite literally – I have to drive them to school. But figuratively, they are my sunshine. That being said, sometimes their behavior can be maddening. I mean, stark raving lunatic crazy.

For instance, when bedtime rolls around, my 6-year-old begins her “JUST 5 more minutes (of TV). Please Mommy!” chant. To which I answer, every night, “No, honey. It’s bedtime. You HAVE to go to sleep.”  And most nights she replies, “You are the WORST MOTHA EVA!!!!!” Wow, I didn’t see that coming. Oh, wait. Yes I did because its our bedtime ritual.

Some families like to read and cuddle at bedtime, not us. We like to have a full on drag out cage match. When the 6-year-old was 2-years-old, she got stuck on “no” mode.

“Honey, let’s take our nap. ”

“NO!!!”

“Come on, you need your rest.”

“NO!!!!”

“Get your butt in the bed before I hurt you!” (I jest. I never said that, not usually. I think it a lot but don’t say it).

The point is, no matter how combative my children have ever decided to behave or what craziness they decided to throw at me on any given day, which could truly be any thing, I have to maintain my composure. I’m the adult. Right?

Sometimes I feel like I am running through a mine field with crazed chimps throwing poo at me, that’s how bad it gets…some days! Then other nights, after their bath, before that first heavy lid drops, it’s all cuddles and kisses and “I love you more”s and that makes all the poo dodging worth it on the rest of the nights.

Finally, the good bedtime rituals are beginning to outnumber the bad bedtime ritual nights.

Here is what works for us:

  • Lots of activity during the day, to tire them out.
  • After dinner dance party to dance the sillies out; just wait 30 minutes after eating.
  • Consistent bedtime of 7pm.
  • Giving the children a warm shower and using lavender lotion to calm the fussiest babies or 8-year-old.
  • No electronics after 6 pm.
  • Water bottle on nightstand.
  • Temperature appropriate bedroom and bedding.
  • Quiet, calm reading together with cuddling.

What doesn’t work:

  • Inconsistent bedtimes, anything after 7 pm and my girls are crying lunatics.
  • Sitting around with no physical or mental stimulation all day long. There is nothing harder to get to sleep than a bored child with a bunch of energy.
  • Television or use of any brain stimulating electronics before bed.
  • Sugary drinks or candy after 5 pm.
  • Having dinner too early because they get hungry before bed and get out of bed seeking food.
  • Last minute fumbling to finish homework.
  • Yelling at your children to go to sleep. It only winds them up and causes them stress, which keeps them up longer and in turn, stresses you out.

These are what we’ve found works for us at bedtime over the past 8 years. These rules are made to be broken. On special occasions and when we travel, the girls get a later bedtime but they also sleep in longer. The key to a happy child (and parent) is sleeping for enough hours each night, for my kid that is about 12 hours.

What is your best time ritual tip?

Photo Source: Nerissa’s Ring

Highly Effective Habits for Kids

Posted on Feb 6, 2014 by 2 Comments

Do your kids come right home from school and get started on homework? My girls like to play the dodge and weave homework game. They are the princesses of procrastination. I can’t say that I don’t know where they got it because I do, and I also know that this is not what I want for them.

I understand that they are children and preferring to play over doing homework is natural, but I need to start instilling these good study habits now before they are adults dodging deadlines and procrastinating putting together presentations.

Here is a plan to assist your child in developing successful homework habits that will help him throughout life.

Set aside homework time

In our house, homework is done immediately after my daughters come home, following a snack. They know that from 3:45-4:45, they will be doing homework Monday through Friday.

Schedule assignments

We know that our daughter loves doing her math and isn’t so crazy about rehearsing her violin, so violin is done for the first 20 minutes, followed by her reading log and we end with her math worksheet because it is short and her favorite subject.

Quiet spot to do homework

My daughters have a desk & chair in their room where they do homework. No, television, radio or any other electronic is allowed in this space unless it is directly needed for homework i.e. laptop or iPad. This is their designated study space unless it is on a day when we have ballet, in which case, they do homework at the dining room table while I prepare dinner. That way I am nearby if they need any assistance.

Be available

I am usually working in my office while they complete their homework so I am right around the corner in case of any questions. As they finish each piece of homework, they bring it to me to look over. I do not correct their incorrect answers, but rather ask leading questions to redirect them towards the correct answer.

Don’t do it for them

I know a lot of parents who just get frustrated and do the homework for their child. Not me. Why would I? That cheats them out of learning something, burdens me with homework when I’ve already finished my schooling and teaches them to give up because someone else will cover if they can’t handle it.

Help them. Be available but they have to learn that anything and everything worth having takes hard work and dedication. You can be there to guide them and support them but doing it for them is doing your child a disservice.

Reward Good Work

When my daughters bring home good grades, I praise them. I never belittle them if they are below what I might expect. Of course, like my parents, my expectations are always A’s, but I always try to stay positive.

If they bring home a B, I say great job, next report we will get it up to an A and if you do we can do something special. I have no problem using incentives to get my kids to work hard for good grades. Just like in the real world, if you work hard you will be rewarded with success.

I want my girls to learn a strong work ethic and not be afraid to work for the things they want in the world.

What is your best homework habit for your child?

photo credit: via photopin

Talking to Your Friend About Their Child

Posted on Jan 22, 2014 by 2 Comments

What would you do if you suspected that your friend’s child had a learning disability? Would you feel comfortable enough to bring it up to friend or would you just ignore it? Either way, it seems like a hard choice to make.

On one hand, you are telling your friend that her child is imperfect and no one wants to believe that , never mind, hear it said out loud by someone else. Your other choice is to say nothing but that helps no one and seems a little cowardice. Sure, it may save you an uncomfortable conversation with your friend, but you are doing the child no favors at all.

You bringing it up may be the only thing that will get this kid the help he needs.

You may have a friend or family member who has a child who you notice may be struggling with normal developmental skills. It may not be anything you can exactly put your finger on. It may just be a hunch. If  you notice it, the child’s parent probably notices it as well, but maybe they don’t.

Maybe they are too close to it. Maybe they are in denial. Maybe it’s their first baby and they have no point of reference and they can’t see it.

Always convey your concerns with care and support, never with judgment or pushy interference. Many parents are very sensitive about their parenting skills and will feel attacked. Sit your friend down in a non-threatening place, maybe meet for coffee, and just bring up that you have noticed a few things about little Johnny that indicate that he may have a slight delay.

Who knows? Maybe they are already aware of it and it is being handled. Maybe they have no idea what you are talking about. Maybe they feel it is none of your business or maybe they will be grateful that you said it out loud so that they don’t have to, and now they have someone to turn to for support through this situation. Or maybe they will be so mad and offended  that they will scream and yell and walk away forever.

The main thing is that you approach them with no judgment and only care and support in your heart. If you have tried to gently bring up the subject with a friend or family member and they did not want to listen, maybe you just need to wait and bring it up again at a later date. Be supportive, but don’t mention the subject again.

The bottom line is that you brought it up. You tried to be an advocate for their child and even if they walk away, eventually they will realize that you came from a place of love for the child. Hopefully, they will not take offense and instead take your words into consideration and bring up the concerns to their pediatrician.

If the situation were reversed, would you want your friend or family member to say anything to you?

Photo Source: X1Klima

How to Help With Homework and Not Be Overwhelmed

Posted on Jan 6, 2014 by 1 Comment

School is back in full swing and homework is coming home in droves. Lucky for me, my girls are only in first grade and third grade so I can still keep up.

It also helps that my previous day job for the past 15 years was working in the education/tutoring field, but believe me, I’ve seen the tweets and Facebook status updates of parents facing the challenges of new math and English above their heads.

There are a few things that you can do .

If you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t pretend you do.

If you don’t understand the homework or have forgotten how to do it, do not pretend you know what you are doing. It’s not worth it to confuse your child just so you can save face. In the long run, you will only be hurting you both.

Email the teacher and ask for clarification of assignment instructions. If it’s something simple that you can get a quick answer to, consult Google; if not, think about a professional tutor because no, you can’t relearn physics in a few minutes.

Google it, just a little bit.

The Internet is a wonderful and vast resource if you use it correctly, which means never use Wikipedia because it is not a reliable source. There a many university and state sites that offer magnificent resources.

For example, Purdue Owl is a fabulous resource for English homework and Sparknotes is a great resource to help you check your child’s literature homework. If they ever forget their book or you are a little rusty, Sparknotes offers complete manuscripts and quizzes with answers.

Phone/Tweet/Facebook a friend.

The Internet has made the world a smaller place and chances are, even if you don’t understand something, one of your friends will and the answer may just need a quick and easy explanation in layman’s terms.

Make sure there are no distractions.

If your child needs your help, don’t make it just one more thing on your list. It has to be the most important thing on your list. You have to help them with no other distractions.

Find a quiet place, turn off phones, televisions and radios and start by asking your child what they need help with or what they don’t understand. Listen and let them finish their explanation before you answer. Give them your undivided attention.

Invest in a Tutor.

If your child is really struggling with homework and you aren’t able to help him, there is no shame in investing in a tutor. There are several routes to go, like a teacher at your child’s school who wants to make some extra cash, a college student , a learning center like Sylvan, Kumon or, my favorite, the Huntington Learning Center or an online tutoring center like tutor.com based out of New York.

Online tutoring is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and you can sit in on the session with your child and perhaps help them along, as you refresh yourself.

How do you help your child with their homework? What works for you?

Photo Source: Steven Leith

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