Posts by Moody Baby:
5 easy ways to practice compassion with your family on Giving Tuesday and beyond, mama
,04 Dec 2019 in Tips
The holidays are a time when families come together to celebrate the season of gratitude and while the time is often marked by abundance, it can also be a time of great need. It can be easy to assume that everyone is doing well during the holidays, but even in seemingly stable families, there exist struggling first time mamas, extended family who may be going to the food bank for the first time, mamas who are secretly going through a divorce and wondering how to get by during the coming year and family members facing a diagnosis that will require hospitalization.
Why not use this time together to look for and help your friends and family that could use an extra hand this holiday season?
Here are five ways to weave compassion—for yourself and others—on Giving Tuesday and into the coming holidays:
1. Check in—don’t assume everything is okay.
Do you have a friend or family member that you think might be going through something? Check in and ask. Offer to take them out to lunch, send them a card or a text. Make a phone call. You don’t have to pry into their life but be there and listen to what they have to say. The holidays can trigger all kinds of feelings and are a good time to touch base, especially amid the flurry of holiday cards and photos.
2. Listen to understand
There’s a difference between “listen to talk” and “listen to understand.” Listening to understand means you’re actively listening to the other person. You’re not in the “problem-solving mindset,” you’re in the “exploration” mindset. Your friend may simply need to talk. Or they might need advice or a second opinion. Whatever it is, you won’t know unless you practice listening to understand. Creating space for those story-telling family members is a great place to start— studies show that recounting stories improves self-esteem in seniors.
3. Care for yourself
Maybe you’re the one who is always there for everyone and always showing up when people need it most, and maybe this year, you’re going through struggles of your own. Tell someone you need to talk and make the time to do it, whether it’s a friend, a family member, a therapist or a counselor. Your needs are valid and important and your family and friends will respect that you know how to ask for and get the help you need to live your best life. Make it the gift you give yourself this year.
4. Find causes that speak to you
Find nonprofits and causes that you can make an ongoing part of your life. Why? Because when a cause speaks to you, you’re more likely to look for creative ways to help it. When you’re actively involved with a cause you believe in, you’re more likely to talk about it with your friends and encourage them to give back in ways that are meaningful in their lives. Giving Tuesday is just one day, but a great day to start.
When you know someone who is going through a hardship, like a loved one in the hospital, the birth of a new baby, a sick child, or the death of a loved one, organize your friends and family to help them. This can be done with online tools like Give InKind that help you coordinate financial contributions, calendar tasks, chores and more on a dedicated page that helps the person in need get exactly what they need. Time spent with family is a great time to pull together and make a plan for supporting someone you love.
No matter how you give and give back this holiday season and beyond, stay mindful about those in need. May we all be lucky enough to not need, but when we do, may we all have the support of our loved ones and community to help us through.
This article was originally published on Give In Kind and it has been republished with permission from the author.
How I learned to stop worrying as a parent
,04 Dec 2019 in Tips
Shortly after my first son was born, I knew something was “off.” Our pediatrician dismissed my concerns and attributed my son’s constant screaming, feeding difficulties, self-regulation issues and gross motor delays to his premature birth. She explained that he was “colicky” and had silent reflux. She reassured me that he would “catch up” in no time.
Though I could not put my finger on what exactly was wrong, our pediatrician’s explanation did not sit well with me. I knew there was something else going on. I kept voicing my concerns until finally, at my son’s 5-month check-up, our pediatrician referred us to a pediatric physical therapist.
I vividly remember the drive to the PT evaluation. I was terrified. I had no idea what to expect. Was there something seriously wrong with my child? Would he be okay? Would the PT be able to give me any answers?
By the time we arrived at the appointment, I was physically shaking. I managed to hold it together for the first half of the evaluation but then broke down in tears. When I voiced my fears, the PT shared her observations and explained that my son appeared to have “sensory processing issues.”
As a former elementary teacher and therapist who had worked with children with Autism, I was familiar with sensory processing issues, but solely in the context of Autism. The PT explained that sensory processing disorder or SPD can exist separately from Autism; children with Autism have sensory processing challenges, but not all children with sensory processing challenges have Autism. This was the first I’d heard of the distinction.
After having a second evaluation with a neurologist to rule out other neurological conditions, we began weekly physical therapy to address my son’s sensory-motor issues. He was 6 months old and I was still drowning in anxiety.
During each week’s session, I’d bombard the therapist with questions:
What does it mean that he is having trouble crossing midline?
What happens to babies who have difficulty with bilateral coordination? Why does he cry all the time?
Why can’t he sleep for more than a two-hour stretch?
Why does he always wake up screaming?
Why are his movements so stiff?
Why doesn’t he interact with the other babies at our Mommy & Me class?
At the heart of all my questions was one thing: Fear.
Fear that my son was not going to be okay. Fear that he was not going to be “normal.” Fear that his life was going to be difficult. Fear that motherhood was going to be vastly different and more difficult than I’d expected. The fear consumed me.
I worried about my son constantly. The more I read and learned about SPD, the more fear-based questions I had:
What’s the impact of SPD on school-aged children?
Do they have friends?
Do they struggle in school?
Do they get picked on and made fun of?
Is my son going to be uncoordinated?
How will all of this affect his self-esteem?
Little did my son’s PT know she was going to be my therapist too! I cried every week during his sessions.
Until one day I realized that it was time to rewrite my narrative.
There is nothing “wrong” with my son.
He is a deeply sensitive, hysterically funny, intensely curious little soul who experiences the world in a different way than most of us.
Yes, he processes sensory input less efficiently than your typical child, and this can definitely make parenting more challenging. But over the years I’ve learned that each challenge is an opportunity to move out of fear and move into love.
When he withdraws from social situations, I have the opportunity to deepen both my level of empathy and my ability to attune to his emotional needs.
When he has a massive meltdown for the umpteenth time in a row, I have an opportunity to work on my own self-regulation and to model how to stay centered in the midst of chaos.
When he struggles with transitions, I have the opportunity to slow down and simplify our sometimes over-scheduled lives.
When he strongly refuses to try something new, I have the opportunity to suspend judgment and think outside the box.
No, there is nothing “wrong” with my son.
He is navigating the world in his own special way and teaching me incredible lessons about love, empathy and acceptance along the way.
We all have expectations about how our lives are going to unfold. And when things don’t turn out quite the way we expect them to, we have a choice. We can hold onto and lament our unmet expectations, feel sorry for ourselves, and shrink away.
Or we can rewrite our narrative, become empowered, open ourselves up to possibilities, and grow. Letting go of our fears allows us to be present, to live in the moment and to fully experience our lives. This lets our children fully experience their own lives because they have an attuned and connected parent.
No matter where you are in your journey with your child, it’s not too late to rewrite *your* narrative, just like I did. Know that whatever your child is going through, you are both going to be ok. If you have been living in fear like I was, I invite you to take a deep breath, turn the page, and start a new chapter.
My birth story: A scheduled repeat C-section
,04 Dec 2019 in Tips
At the very first prenatal appointment of my second pregnancy, my doctor asked if I was planning to have a C-section.
I was so focused on wanting to see a strong and healthy heartbeat, I hadn’t even considered how this baby would come into the world.
With my first child, I had an emergency C-section after 22 hours of hard back-labor—something I was wholly unprepared for. I did my breathing and visualization exercises, listened to music and had essential oils (and an epidural). I had my husband and doula for support. I was 9-centimeters dilated when they told me my baby couldn’t wait any longer.
The experience was very intense. I had never really thought about needing a C-section. I was scared and it all just happened so fast. It wasn’t the birth I had envisioned.
Did I want to do that all over again?
My doctor told me to think about it and around 20 weeks, we started talking more about what my plans were.
They gave me information about vaginal births after Cesareans (VBACs), and they said they would support me with whatever decision I made.
Yet I was so conflicted.
On one hand, I wanted that movie moment where you get to fully dilated, push and clutch your sweet baby in your arms. I had been so close to that experience before.
But because of that experience, I also knew that having a C-section didn’t make me any less of a woman or any less of a mother.
This time I had a choice.
I could labor again and risk the unplanned C-section scenario again. Or I could schedule a date to go in and meet my baby. I could choose. It was so empowering.
Deciding to schedule a C-section
After lots of thinking, I chose a scheduled C-section. There was so much about it that felt right for me. I could make sure my family was all in place to take care of my toddler. I could wash all the little clothes, and I could have a less hurried experience. So I signed on the dotted line. I knew it was right, but it was still one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. I was choosing to have surgery, something I knew was a big deal.
But I was also choosing to do it on a day that my favorite doctor was available, the one who had to change shifts right before my daughter was born. I was choosing.
But as the saying goes, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans!
I had a nice dinner with my family the night before my scheduled C-section. I did a long bedtime with my daughter, our last before she met her sibling. I laid down at midnight, knowing I would be meeting my little one at 10 am.
My plans changed
I woke up an hour later in full-blown labor. The real deal, throw the phone down while the doctor is talking to you, yell at your husband, get this baby out NOW labor.
Contractions came on suddenly and powerfully, and we rushed to the hospital.
When I got to the hospital, my doctor met me and said, “You are 6-centimeters dilated. Do you want to wait and try to push?”
“Nope!” I replied.
So they prepped me and took me to the operating room.
I was in labor, but everything was healthy and fine. There was no emergency, so people took their time, and the room felt very calm. The room was full of peaceful conversation and laughter. We all joked and to help take my mind off of everything, my husband bored me to death by talking about how bond markets work—it was perfect.
And it wasn’t scary this time. My doctor talked me through the entire procedure. This is what I had chosen, even if the baby’s timing was a bit off.
It felt like everyone in the operating room was on the same team waiting to meet this new little being. We didn’t know the baby’s gender so I asked that my husband be allowed to tell me.
When our baby was born, we heard the most wonderful cry, followed by my husband saying, “It’s a boy!” Everyone laughed at the look of shock on my face. A boy?! I was convinced it was going to be another girl!
After a quick clean up, my sweet baby was placed near my head until I was ready to go to recovery. I was free to touch him and kiss him and snuggle his little face. When I was all ready to go, he was placed in my arms. We had every moment together that a mother would have with a vaginal birth.
Although I didn’t push, I gave birth just the same. It diminished nothing about the moment of becoming a mother again.
It is so easy to make assumptions about people when we don’t know their story. Some people might assume that I chose a second C-section out of vanity or because I thought I was ‘too posh to push.’ And it couldn’t be further from the truth.
I chose it because I know my body and my mind.
I know how scary it felt for me when things were moving so fast and I could see the concern on everyone’s face. I knew how comforting it would be to have my doctor—this strong, amazing woman got to deliver my second child after spending my entire first labor with us. I chose it because I wanted what was best for my baby and me.
Five years later, I can’t imagine it any other way.
18 life-changing charities to donate to on Giving Tuesday
,04 Dec 2019 in Tips
‘Tis the season for spending time with friends and family, giving, and receiving. But let’s not forget about giving back. While it can be all too easy to get caught up in what we want, our kids just have to get right now, and what your best friend’s cousin’s husband showed off on (we’ve all been there), it’s important to take some time to give back to organizations and charities that are helping those in need.
Consider what’s most important to you—or ask yourself what pulls at your heartstrings the most. Is it thinking of a little one who doesn’t have access to books? Helping mamas who can’t afford healthcare? Include your little ones and decide together where you’d like to donate to, or volunteer with.
If you’ve wanted to give back in some way, but just weren’t sure where to start, we rounded up some of the best places that benefit women, parents and children.
Women + mamas
Women’s Learning Partnership
Dedicated to providing more rights, development and peace worldwide, this organization uses strategic planning to advocate for women’s rights on a global scale.
Access to birth control and general health care are necessary, specifically for women. Planned Parenthood provides comprehensive services to women who can’t get it elsewhere.
National Women’s Health Network
With a mission to improve women’s health through policy changes, the NWHN works to decrease barriers that get in the way of women getting the care they need.
Every Mother Counts
This organization’s works to help mothers worldwide get access to maternity care, such as getting to a facility or equipping clinics with skilled birth attendants to reduce the 303,000 deaths due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
March of Dimes
Donating to this organization helps to fund research to find the causes of premature birth, provide vital services for moms and babies, and preventing birth defects.
Her story garnered the attention of the world and through this fund, she’s working to advocate for girls, give to promote location education and help girl’s stories be shared.
Young Women’s Leadership Network
Not every child gets to continue their education due to poverty, but YWLN uses two programs to provide a high-performing school for girls and a college guidance program that helps both women and men.
She’s the First
Committed to fighting gender inequality through education, She’s the First funds scholarships to help girls in low-income countries graduate from high school and matches young women with mentors.
Room to Read
Donations go directly towards providing literacy and gender equality in education for children in low-income countries.
Save the Children
Dedicated to providing comprehensive care, protection and education for children in 120 countries, Save the Children has reached 157 million kids around the world.
Girls on the Run
Through local initiatives, this organization inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident through a fun curriculum that integrates running.
Give Kids the World, Inc.
Their Village is located in the heart of Central Florida where kids with light-threatening illnesses get a weeklong vacation with their family.
The Hunger Project
Not every family can put food on the table, but this global movement helps communities create sustainable ways to end hunger.
Donations of either money or goods go directly towards programs that are breaking the cycle of family poverty, thus building a brighter future for their next generation.
National Partnership for Women & Families
For more than 45 years, this network has been advocating for policy change that advances women and families—from workplace equality to access to affordable healthcare.
Center for Health and Gender Equity
Dedicated to advancing gender equality and empowering girls and women, CHANGE promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights across the country.
Parents As Teachers National Center
This organization works to support early development and quality learning for kids through helping parents and caregivers with quality educational tools.
Family Promise, Inc.
More than 2.5 million families will be homeless this year, but Family Promise works to provide sustainable independence through food, shelter, and other forms of support.
How to prepare your child for college while they’re still little
,04 Dec 2019 in Tips
When my son was born almost 15 years ago, his father and I were told by our (much more financially-savvy) friends that we needed to start saving for his college tuition right away. “College?!” I thought to myself. I was still trying to teach my son to call his human feeding device Mama.
My friends were right, though—saving for your child’s future is fiscally responsible, and I’ve since opened a 529 plan. But, while 60% of parents expect their child will earn a bachelor’s degree or higher, only 33% actually secure degrees. Is there too much focus on saving and not enough focus on preparing for college?
Maybe. But, the good news is that education research has provided parents with plenty of tools to help get your child college-ready.
As a high school teacher for 15 years, here are several ways I’ve learned that you can help your child prepare for college now.
1. Read to your child
There’s a reason why you’ve been inundated with advertisements about the importance of reading to your child: it works. Studies show that students who were read to and who continue to read are more successful academically, earn higher state test scores, are stronger writers, and have better study skills—all required attributes of the college-bound. Early reading even affects your child’s behavior, too. A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that reading out loud to your child could reduce behavioral issues like hyperactivity, aggression and ADD. So, to get your child college ready, read to them during their formative years, and when they’re old enough, let them read to you. It may be the most productive bonding time you have with them.
2. Encourage critical thinking
Critical thinking, in contrast to simply memorizing facts, demands that students use the facts learned in school to deduct, reason and infer. In other words, it helps them figure things out. It not only allows children to practice their philosophical skills, but it is how company leaders are able to make decisions that affect their team’s success or failure.
You can help your child develop this skill in a variety of creative ways. Ask them to attempt to come up with their own answers to questions after you’ve supplied a few simple facts. When reading a new bedtime story, see if they’ll share what they think will happen or why a character acted the way they did. And, don’t leave them out of discussions around the dinner table; even though they likely can’t contribute to the larger conversation, your encouragement of their opinion will give them the confidence they need to express their own thoughts.
Children learn by observing behaviors and actions of people they see as modern-day heroes. Just as your toddler mimics your facial expressions, they will soon find another, much “cooler” person to mimic as they get older.
But, it’s important this role model is a positive influence. Introduce your littles to iconic figures you think are great role models and explain why. Maybe it’s Malala or Ruth Bader Ginsburg instead of a Youtube star. Your child may not identify with what you think is cool, but by staying in touch with your child’s interests, and by encouraging your child to analyze their own choices, you will be helping her to build character.
4. Become tech literate but not tech dependent
You may think that tech literacy comes easy to kids given that they are so well-versed with devices, but that’s not always the case. What most people don’t realize, however, is that using a computer doesn’t guarantee tech literacy.
There are many resources like Scratch
(created by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab) to help teach kids coding basics, Learn With Homer
uses a systematic phonics lessons approach to teach kids to read and The Sounding Out Machine
app helps students who are having problems decoding words.
5. Foster a love of learning
Passion for learning is simply an interest in knowledge—a desire to always learn more. If your child has this passion,
learning will cease to be a chore and will become an adventure
. Research in educational motivation has shown that students who are intrinsically motivated
(the motivation to learn because they want to) tend to be more successful learners (earning higher grades and test scores) than those who are extrinsically motivated (those who learn to get the “A” or the $10 grandpa promises for a good report card).
6. Expand your interests
Children will model your actions and behaviors. If you show an interest in learning new things, they will probably mimic your enthusiasm. For example, watch a documentary and, instead of falling asleep, discuss the show with your child. Share your new adventures with your child. If you’re a history buff, visit a space museum. The best way to get your child to enjoy learning is to enjoy learning with them.