Thursday, May 24, 2012

Listmania: Parenting Ideas

This is yet another list for me to collect ideas that I will use somewhere down the road, and you are welcome to as well. As usual, please feel free to make suggestions, and if it is something I think has a place on the list, I will not only add it into the post, I will give you credit via a link back to your blog (should you have one).

Parenting Ideas

Description: Once in awhile, through all those suggestions that are thrown at you from everyone from the dry cleaner to the grandmothers, a couple gems float to the top. I want to remember how to be the best parent I can be, and I may not always remember the right idea at the right time. I hope this list helps me stay on top of my parenting game, even if just a little bit.
  1. Going to the beach? Take along baby powder - it's a miracle worker with getting sand of everyone's legs and feet.
  2. Bored Jar: If your child child complains of boredom, they have to pick a slip from the jar and do the activity, good or bad. It might be going for ice cream, it might be cleaning their room.
  3. Leave love notes on your child's pillow when they least expect one.
  4. Hug your child every day when they wake up and when they get home from school.
  5. Timers set definite boundaries. For example, with a timer, you can say, "I'm setting the timer. I want your room cleaned (or your shoes on, or the dishes unloaded) in 15 minutes. If you haven't finished by then, your correction is…." This method not only spurs on easily distracted children, but it also leaves little room for arguing about a job that isn't finished and whether the correction is warranted.Say something great about your child to someone else, knowing your child can hear you (but not necessarily with your child standing right there).
  6. Make fun shaped sandwiches for lunches using cookie cutters.
  7. Set family rules. “Our family rule is that the room has to be clean by 5:00 each day. Either you can clean it or I will. But, anything that I find laying around will go into a box in the garage and be unavailable for the next week." If your son doesn’t have his uniform for practice, he’ll learn an important lesson when he explains to the coach why he’s not prepared. If you find that your kids don’t even miss the toys or clothes that you hauled out to the garage, that lets you know they probably have more than they need and it’s time for a big donation to Goodwill Industries. 
  8. Come up with a secret word, phrase, or hand gesture that means "I love you" so you and your child can communicate without them being embarrassed in front of their friends.
  9. Next time your child "forgets" to put something away, like video games or sports equipment, put it away for him. When he asks where it is, tell him that he'll just have to look for it. Believe me; he will learn that it's a lot more trouble to find something that Mom has hidden than it is to put it away in the first place.
  10. Ignore phone calls during quality time, and make it clear you are choosing to be with your child instead.
  11. Decorate your child's mirror with a fun surprise message.
  12. Your words help your child build self-esteem. Tell her she is beautiful.  Praise specific features of her body.  Encourage her to wear clothing that makes her feel comfortable. Let her choose her hair length.  Allow her choices with clothing. Realize it's okay if clothing is sometimes wrinkled or mismatched. Be there with love and affection when someone teases her. 
  13. Send your kiddo something in the mail with an actual STAMP! What could be more fun?
  14. If time-outs don't work, try a "time-in." This can be accomplished by sending your child to a designated spot where he must complete a task that has a definite beginning and end. This could be putting together a small puzzle, stringing 50 beads on a piece of yarn, or tracing the alphabet. A time-in diverts his energies and encourages him to focus on something positive.
  15. If your child likes to stomp off to his room or stomp around in anger, send him outside to the driveway and tell him to stomp his feet for one minute. He'll be ready to quit after about 15 seconds, but make him stomp even harder.
  16. Use a WHEN-THEN routine. “WHEN your room is clean (which means I can see your entire floor and the horizontal surfaces are clear of clutter) THEN, you can have your TV time, or THEN we’ll leave or practice, or THEN you can join us for dinner.” Creating a When-Then routine in which the room must be cleaned before a more enjoyable part of the routine occurs – creates a natural incentive. If you follow a When-Then routine every single day- there’s no need to fuss or fight about it. As my mother-in-law says, it’s the law. It’s just the way we do things around here. That’s called “letting the routine be the boss” so you don’t have to be.
  17. Watch what you say! Don't criticize your own body. Never make fun of the way someone else looks. Say that cosmetics make us look different or fancier not prettier.  Never say, "I wish I looked like her." Don't freak out if she gets dirty. Avoid fawning over beautiful models and actresses.
  18. Lead by example: Limit access to media. Provide your daughter with dolls with dark and light skin. Don't always wear makeup. Provide healthy food to make it more likely for your child to have a healthy body. Encourage physically active play and activities. Wear a swimsuit even if you don't feel like wearing one, so you can swim with your child. Develop a social circle that expands outside your likely-homogenous neighborhood. Eat all foods in moderation.  Provide opportunities for your child to develop her unique talents. Celebrate exercise for making the heart healthy. Celebrate acts of the heart.
What else???

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Who Fights a Nap?

My 6 month old, that's who. I am currently listening to her WAIL as I try to get her to sleep for Nap #1 of the day. This is SO hard. But I know she's tired. She was rubbing her eyes like the most obvious cartoon character and it was exactly 2 hours from when she woke up. So into the crib she went...and then proceeded to shriek. 

It's been 45 minutes of this misery.

I've checked on her several times, but that does nothing whatsoever. She continues to shriek. I know I'm supposed to listen to her cries to understand what is going on, but it all seems pretty steady. Horrible gurgling. Wailing. Then gasping for breath. I'm not sure if this is the "up and down" cry I'm supposed to recognize as her frustrated cry trying to figure all this out, but my heart is broken.

I know I could just go sit on the back patio and enjoy this beautiful morning weather and not listen to her cry. But I feel like if she has to go through this, I need to be there with her even if she is currently very mad at me for putting her through this.

But I'm going in to get her in 10 minutes and we'll try again next nap. And the next. And the next...

Sigh. Parenting is hard.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Listmania: Kid Organization

This is yet another list for me to collect ideas that I will use somewhere down the road, and you are welcome to as well. As usual, please feel free to make suggestions, and if it is something I think has a place on the list, I will not only add it into the post, I will give you credit via a link back to your blog (should you have one).

Kid Organization

Description: Making it easy for parents and kids to find what they need, when they need it. Oh, and making it look neat and effortless at the same time.
  1. Install a hanging accessory bag with at least 7 shelves. Label each shelf with a day of the week and place a complete outfit on each to make getting dressed for the day a snap.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Listmania: Questions for Day Care Providers

Before I decided to focus on my full-time MOM.b.a., I returned to work for 5 weeks after my maternity leave, which had originally been my long-term plan. During that time, Bugga attended daycare, which I felt was the best option for us (versus having a nanny or an in-home care situation). The process for finding the right location was not at all easy. Depending on where you live, you may need to start this process very early, often before your baby is born. And even then you never know - Bugga still didn't have a spot at our first choice location at 12 weeks old (even though we got on the waitlist a month before she was born) all due to sibling prioritization. So for all the planning in advance we still had to scramble to find a backup location.

For those of you about to start this process, below is a pretty thorough list of questions to ask every facility you tour. You might not care about all the questions, but hopefully most are useful. I've even added some I wish I had asked but didn't know to looking at this in hindsight. Good luck!

Questions for Day Care Providers

  1. What are your hours of operation?
  2. What are the children's age ranges that you keep?
  3. Do I need to make an appointment for a tour/question & answer?  If so, when?  Who should I talk with?
  4. Is there a contract?  Do we have to pay by week or by month?  Is there a discount for paying by the month?
  5. What is the price (food included)?
  6. What does this price include?
  7. Can I see written agreements outlining specific hours, holidays, and other breaks?
  8. What are the fees?
  9. Are there extra fees (such as activity fees or enrichment programs) in addition to the standard fees?
  10. What is the fee if my child is picked up late by accident?
  11. Is there a waiting list? How does it work? Are siblings of enrolled students given priority?
  12. Is there a deposit? If so, how much? Is it refundable?
  13. What are your policies on disciplining children (mainly how do they handle the bitters and others that cause problems for the remaining children - time out, discussion, isolation?)  Basically what do you do to a child that keeps biting mine and what do they tell the parents?
  14. Is there a daily written report that will be sent home with my child? What does it include? How many people can you specify to have the authority to pick up my child?
  15. Ask the day care about their last CPS inspection & see if their responses match the inspection.
  16. What is the policy if I decide to change day cares?  Do we have to give a certain amount of notice?
  17. Can I come unannounced any time of the day (prior & during to putting my baby in the program) and observe the babies and the workers?
  18. What are the policies for handling any issues I may have with a worker?  (personality issues or if you see/feel something is not happening the way it should with your baby)
  19. What are the rules with regards to religion?
  20. At what age do you transition the children to one nap?  What if my child needs to sleep more?
  1. Will you allow mothers that breast feed to bring in their own milk?  What is the process for this?  How is the milk labeled to keep it to the corresponding child?
  2. Do you provide food or snacks for the children?  Is this an extra charge or is it included?  If food is provided, can I see a sample menu for the kids?  Do you provide a hot breakfast?
  3. What is the feeding schedule for children?  Is it broken down by age?  How do you keep each child straight as to which ones eat solid food vs. formula, etc?
  4. When my infant starts eating “people” food, can I pick and choose what he/she eats?
Facility & Staff Quality
  1. In baby’s room, how secure is it?
  2. Do you have a state license, registration, or certification? 
  3. Can I see your contact references?
  4. Do you have safety regulations and standards?  Can I see them?
  5. Do you have a secure online webcam so I can watch my child while at your facility? Does it work? Can I have temporary access before enrolling to view the quality or can I see a demo?
  6. Do your care providers have First Aid & Rescue Breathing Training?
  7. If we decide to take our child out for a family vacation or some reason, do we pay for the week or time the child is gone?  Do we partially pay? 
  8. What is the hiring process for your employees?
  9. Do you have a list of your employee’s experience, education, and training related to our child's age?
  10. Do all lead caregivers and program directors have a child development background and a college degree?
  11. What is your staff turnover rate?
  12. How many different teachers will be interacting with my child?
  13. May I contact staff references?
  1. Will your facility be able to keep up with our active child? Is your group facility equipped to handle infants?
  2. What are the types of activities and educational programs offered?
  3. What is the learning curriculum?
  4. Is there a parents group or program?
  5. What are the activities for kids?  Do you take the children outside? At what ages?  Do the older children go on field trips?
  6. May I participate in program planning?
  7. What is your child to staff ratio and total group size? (Compare this to state required ratio.) Is this throughout the entire day (drop off, daytime, pick up)?
  8. What is the maximum number of children that can be in the room with my child at one time?
  1. What is the changing schedule?
  2. How is potty training handled?
  3. What is your policy on sick children?  Do you allow other children in the room?
  4. What is your policy on giving kids medicines?  Does this require a note from doctor?
  5. How often do you clean & disinfect?  Toys? Floors mopped?
  6. Does the facility have a pest control contract and what provisions are taken for the baby room? (spraying in corners and on floor not a good thing of course)
  7. Do people walk in with shoes in baby’s room?  Are booties or shoes off required?
  8. How do you handle storage of needed materials for each child?  Is the stuff labeled properly with my child’s information?  Do they have a place where all of my child’s items are always stored?
  9. Does the baby room have a baby bed designated for each baby?
  10. Will you let us bring in the infant carseat to be stored until other parent picks child up?
Other factors to consider:
  • cost of gas, location, traffic 
  • extra food and utility expenses for a care provider that comes to your home 
  • whether the hours correspond well with your schedule.
* Small and large family child care operations should be licensed by the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC). For detailed information on state child care licensing, see the following web site:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I have a bit of an obsession with lists. When it's a to-do list, there is the feeling you get when you cross something off - I love feeling productive. Lately I feel like I need a place to keep a couple more lists, and I think this blog is a great place for them. I can share them with the world so that perhaps someone else can benefit from these lists, and even contribute to them.

I find a lot of ideas all over the place, and though they may not be immediately relevant, I will want that idea someday. Magazines, web pages, suggestions from friends, PINTEREST (duh)...I need a place to keep it all so I can find it later. So as they become relevant, I will create constantly growing lists of parenting ideas, reminders, kid activities, quotes, recipes - whatever. Oh! Also, if you have something to add that is awesome and relevant to said list, post a comment and I'll add it to the list and give you credit, with a link back to your blog. Check out the label cloud in the sidebar for "lists" and see what I have going...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Nom Nom Nom (Baby Food!)

Now that Bugga is 5.5 months old we are getting close to a very fun time - solids! She has only tasted breastmilk so far in her short life, but she is VERY curious about everything we are eating. Her neck is strong and she can sit pretty well on her own so hopefully our first attempts will go well.

I am traveling to a wedding in a week and a half, but once I get back, I plan on trying this out.

In the meantime, I am trying to do a lot of research on how to approach this. I thought that another benefit of me staying home with her would give me a chance to put a lot of care into what she will be eating. I now have the time to shop for organic fruits and vegetables, and prepare them myself so I know exactly what she is consuming. However, I just learned of a new food introduction method called Baby-Led Weaning (BLW). I'm not completely sold on it, so the jury is still out on this end while I read up.

Please let me know what route you took, and if you have any great resources, please post the links! Thanks!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May Successes

  • 5/1: Bugga is sitting quite well on her own now and I am SO proud! Not bad for 5.5 months!
  • 5/2: Today Bugga took a nap ON HER STOMACH. Up until this point we had rigged up a blanket system in her crib that kept her from rolling onto her belly since once there, she would cry in frustration.
  • 5/3: Vacuumed the dust off of the ceiling fans. Uh yeah, this is a success.
  • 5/4: The baby is rolling back to front repeatedly like a little wind-up toy. She is getting so strong. Actually have all the ingredients for a Cinco de Mayo feast of champions for tomorrow - Corona Light included (gotta watch those calories you know).
  • 5/5: (bonus weekend inclusion) We have dropped the use of the pacifier at night and last night Bugga slept from 9:50pm until 7:52am - with only 3 minutes of crying at 6:02am! Typically we'd have jumped right up to get in there and provide the pacifier, but we waited to see what she'd do and she was back off to sleep in no time!
  • 5/6: Off
  • 5/7: My birthday was today, so I promised myself a gift of no baby stress, which I accomplished. Our big success? Getting a night out with my husband for a grown-ups-only dinner, while Bugga spent the time with friends of ours. It was actually easier than I thought it would be!
  • 5/8: Today Bugga napped for a solid 2 hours!!! Nevermind that it was on my least my email account is a lot cleaner. 
  • 5/9: Baby got up way too early for my preference today which really started our day off on the wrong foot...but she then took TWO naps for almost 4 hours of daytime sleep, which is unheard of in this house.
  • 5/10: Decent napping again, which allowed me to straighten up the house enough to be presentable. Since we just gave our landlord notice we will not be renewing our lease (we bought a house!), he is bringing potential tenants through this evening. Don't get me started how inconvenient that timing is, but whatever.
  • 5/11: My husband worked from home today, and with Mother's Day this weekend, took Bugga off for some "errands" with him so I could sleep. Love him. Relationship success for sure.
  • 5/12: Off
  • 5/13: Mother's Day - SO off. (Happy Mother's Day everyone!)
  • 5/14: Kicked Monday's BEhind! Hit up Whole Foods for organic vegetables to make for Bugga's first foods (avocado, butternut squash, and sweet potato), she catnapped her way through the day but still logged over 2 hours (which is a success in my book), and I even found time to do the dishes, straighten my bedroom, and...wait for it...WORK! OUT! WORKOUT! I actually got on the elliptical today while Bugga exersauced on the new exersaucer. Record day. Especially for a Monday. 
  • 5/15: Must have been tired from the workout - can't remember!
  • 5/16: Worked out again! That is TWICE in one week. Sigh. That used to be no big deal.
  • 5/17: This one seems to have fallen off the radar...
  • 5/18: Closed on our new house today! TOTAL success!
  • 5/19-20: OFF
  • 5/21: Hmmm. Today my success is that I got out of bed today. And only because I had to. Yep, it was that kind of day.
  • 5/22: Another tough one. Made an attempt at sleep training naps this week in case it wasn't obvious. Oh! Bought a lot of great fruits and veggies at the grocery store today to get my diet turned around already.
  • 5/23: After a really rough night (thank you, nap issues) Bugga and I still woke up with best intentions and survived the day together!
  • 5/24: Really enjoyed today with my daughter. She is smiling at everything and I love watching the joy in her face as she figures out she needs to learn how to go forward instead of backward when she wants that toy in front of her.
  • 5/25:
  • 5/26:

Success Story

When I was in the professional world, every role I had involved some sort of an annual review to track my performance in that position. So now, as I stay at home, I am no longer required to document such accomplishments, however I still feel I can benefit from seeing all that I have accomplished on a regular basis.

I would like to start tracking what I feel are my successes for each day "on the job" at home with my daughter. These will likely be random things that might not seem like a big deal to outsiders, but might be something I have struggled to find time for while raising a newborn. 

Maybe this will be something that will give you an idea for tracking your successes to help make the transition to being a stay at home parent even more rewarding!

I will start with the month of May, and try to do this every weekday (at least!)...