Rethinking Toddler Nutrition

xrethink-toddler-nutrition_11531.jpg,qitokDZRVOvpB.pagespeed.ic.dd38OlGuxa.jpg

By Katelyn Philipp for Parenting

Fruits and veggies are a good start, but most toddler diets are missing a key nutritional element.

Family meals should feel more like bonding opportunities than chores or ordeals. But to make mealtime more positive, you have to serve foods that both meet your kids' nutritional needs and are tasty enough for children to actually eat and enjoy.

Proper nutrition involves more than fruits and vegetables, says Dr. Scott Cohen, a pediatrician, father and author of "Eat, Sleep, Poop: A Common Sense Guide to Your Baby's First Year." He says DHA is another critical component. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid beneficial to brain development and cognition.

"Eighty-five percent of brain growth happens in the first three years of life," Cohen says. Infants receive vital nutrients through breastfeeding and fortified formula, but their supply dwindles when children begin eating solid food.

In fact, toddlers only average 25 percent of the recommended daily DHA intake, which is 70 to 100 milligrams. It can be easy to reach the allowance, but DHA-rich foods aren't popular items on toddler's plates. Major sources include fish, such as tuna, salmon and trout. 

To improve your child's nutrition, Cohen recommends a five-item nutrition checklist:

1. Find a DHA source that works for your family

Increasing DHA in your child's diet doesn't have to be difficult. Cohen recommends trying DHA-friendly options, such as fish, or DHA-fortified foods such as pasta and milk. "One size doesn't fit all," Cohen says. "Any way toddlers can get it is good."

2. Say cheese

Cohen says toddlers should consume two to three dairy sources each day for strong bones, muscles and teeth. Common child favorites include milk, yogurt and cheese, but fortified orange juice can also do the trick.

3. Concentrate on protein

"A lot of kids don't like typical protein sources," Cohen says. Look at protein alternatives instead of battling over eggs, fish or meat your picky eater won't try. Soy products and beans are subtle substitutes.

4. Teach healthy habits

While each meal can be a step in the right nutritional direction, Cohen recommends looking at the big picture. "It's more important to teach healthy eating habits than to concentrate on volume," he says. Proper routines set children up for a lifetime of nutrition success.

5. Mix it up

Introduce a variety of food to children beyond standard favorites. "Offer three or four different options in the hope that they will eat one of them," Cohen says. Don't give up if children resist at first. It can take 10 to 12 tries before they develop preferences. "They might like it next week," he says. "The bottom line is not to stress too much. Every healthy child grows, no matter what."


Is It Safe to Lift Weights While Pregnant?

By Amy Rosoff Davis, Charlotte's Book

Q—CHARLOTTE’S BOOK READER

I’m pregnant and definitely want to keep working out, but I’m curious: is it safe for me to use weights?

A—AMY ROSOFF DAVIS, CELEBRITY TRAINER

Yes! I used 2-3 pound weights almost five days a week my whole pregnancy. Whether you do exercises or just take those things on a brisk walk with you, it’s good to keep strong arms (you will need them to hold your baby) and a strong core (which you need during delivery). While you don’t want to attempt to build muscle, it’s important to build stamina (which is also needed for delivery)!

Lifting weights also helps keep your body toned, and helps your body maintain a healthy weight. All good things! I also did a bunch of arm dancing both on my own and with clients during my pregnancy. Arm dancing is also great for stamina (remember to keep breathing through the pain) and also keeps long lean and toned arms. Arm dancing is also a great postpartum exercise—you can do it sitting in bed!


10 Mistakes Parents Make With Newborns—And How To Avoid Them

151125103211-baby-crib-bumper-pad-medium-plus-169.jpg

By Sandee LaMotte, CNN

Bringing a new baby home can be nerve-wracking for any parent. If it's your first, the fear of making a mistake can be overwhelming. It's inevitable you won't do everything just right, but read on and you can cross these common mistakes off your list.

1. Car seat safety

Some parents make the mistake of not practicing various baby care chores before the baby comes. While how to change a diaper many be intuitive for most, not everything is. Take car seats, for example. "Since hospitals require you to take baby home in an appropriate car seat, be sure you have it installed before delivering," said pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu, co-author of "Heading Home with Your Newborn." "Enlist the help of a child passenger safety technician, if needed."

Figuring out how to correctly -- and safely -- install car seats can be a real challenge for many parents, so much so that many fire stations used to help parents with it. Today, fewer do so, but you can find a trained technician through the National Child Passenger Safety Certification site.

But even while parents may have purchased the seat, and even learned how to install it properly, birth educator Polly Gannon finds that some haven't gone to the trouble of using it before the baby comes.

"Some parents haven't even put a stuffed animal in there before the baby comes so they know how to get a newborn in there comfortably," said Gannon, who works at Calabasas Pediatrics in Calabasas, California. "Most hospitals, for legal reasons, cannot put the baby in the car seat for you, or even show you how to use it."

A 2016 study of nearly 300 families, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found 91% of those parents made serious mistakes while installing their car seats or putting their newborns into those seats. Eighty-six percent of those errors were in positioning the newborn in the seat, and most of those mistakes were "critical" and increased the child's risk for injury in any accident. Over half of the families had older children, which should have given them practice for the task.

For newborns, parents should make sure their infant's head doesn't flop forward, which could restrict breathing. That involves installing the seat at the correct angle to keep the baby's feet up, with the body reclined so baby can turn her head to the side and breathe normally.

If the baby slouches down or to the side in the seat, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests placing a tightly rolled receiving blanket on both sides of the baby, or using the newborn insert made for that car seat brand -- do not mix or match with other manufacturers. Don't place a blanket or roll across the top of the baby's head or put padding under your infant.

 

2. Back to sleep

The national "Back to Sleep" campaign of the 1990s brought a great deal of attention to SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, and other sleep-related deaths among infants. Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics insist that every baby should sleep on their back, in their own crib, without any toys or soft bedding. During and after the campaign, sleep-related deaths sharply declined, but recent data shows the risk continues. Each year, some 3,500 babies continue to die from sleep-related causes.

A 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found one in five mothers report putting their baby to sleep on their side or stomach, and 39% of mothers said they use soft bedding in the crib with the baby. 


"Wow, that's alarming because you'd think everyone would know the recommended way to put their baby to sleep," said pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann, author of the new book "Baby and Toddler Basics." "But what a lot of parents still don't know is that you should not use bumpers anymore, and you don't want pillows, toys or extra stuff in the crib."

 

3. Not feeding on demand

Some new parents make the mistake of letting baby sleep too long between feedings, likely due to exhaustion and their own need to get a bit of rest. But that's a mistake, say experts.

"The first few weeks, the baby does need to be fed ... every two to three hours, even if they don't demand it," said Altmann. "But once they have regained their birth weight and you get your pediatrician's OK, it's fine to cross your fingers and hope that you get a stretch of three to five hours without the baby waking to be fed. But in the first few weeks, babies do need to be woken up."

If you're doing everything right and your baby is growing and developing well, said Altmann, it's perfectly possible to get a baby to sleep through the night by 2 or 3 months of age. But be aware that some babies regress between three and four months and begin to wake up more frequently and feed more often.


"If you jump in and turn on all the lights, start playing with them, and basically have a party in the middle of the night, they will continue to wake up," Altmann said.
"I usually tell parents if every time you wake up there was chocolate cake on your nightstand, you would start eating it every night and you would wake up expecting it," she said. "Same with babies, right?"
 

4. Not burping baby properly


One of the key mistakes many new parents can make is failing to take the time to properly burp their newborn. 
"I think many new parents are nervous about handling their newborn," said Gannon. "They will often put the baby down quickly after feeding because they are scared they aren't holding it properly."

The result of failing to burp is that the baby may spit up and gag, losing some of that precious milk, or wake up in an hour or so screaming in pain. 
"I'm getting calls all the time where parents say that the baby is really peaceful after feeding, but then baby wakes up screaming and is up for the next 2 1/2 hours," added Gannon. "My favorite line is 'cheat the baby, cheat yourself.' If you cheat the baby out of a good burp and fail to get all of that air out, you and the baby are both going to suffer."


There are several burping techniques you can try until you find the one that works best for your baby. In the most well-known, the-over-the-shoulder burp, you place your baby high on your chest with her chin resting on your shoulder and face turned to one side, tummy firmly against the chest. Pat or rub the baby's back gently until she burps. 
"It might take you an additional 10 minutes at the end of the feed," said Gannon, "but the baby will be happy."


Another common technique is to place baby face down across your lap, and pat and rub. Other techniques include baby exercises. Lay them on a blanket on the floor and begin bicycling their legs, or moving their legs up and around in a circular motion in each direction.

Gannon finds that a sitting posture works best for her clients. She places the baby sitting upright on her lap, facing the side. Using one hand to support the baby's head in the front (making sure to avoid holding the neck) she puts her other hand on the baby's back.

"Keeping the baby's bottom firmly planted on my lap I move their whole body in a small, slow circular motion to the left for a while, then to the right for a bit," explained Gannon. "I sit the baby upright a few times, and usually get a good, hearty burp, even without a gentle pat on the back."

 

5. Failing to pre-burp


Most of us think about burping after the baby eats. But experts say that you should also take the time to pre-burp your baby.


"I try to pre-burp baby for at least two minutes before starting any feeding," Gannon recommended. "This helps eliminate the common spitting up and gassy problem that newborns often have for the first 30 days."
"If you start out without gas in the stomach, and then do a really good feed and get the gas out at the end, they are going to be much more comfortable and more likely to be happy and content on their own," added Altmann.

6. Mistakes in mixing formula or breastfeeding​
 

Making a mistake measuring formula and water happens often enough in her practice, said Altmann, that she makes it a practice to quiz parents on how they prepare baby's meals. She asks the same of breastfeeding moms, too.

"When I have new babies come into my practice," said Altmann, "whether they are breastfeeding or formula feeding, I take a step back and ask these questions: 'Exactly how are you feeding your baby -- what do they look like when they are latched on? How are you mixing the formula? How are you putting it in the bottle?'"

On occasion she finds that one of the parents might be mixing formula wrong, by making it too concentrated or dilute.


"Usually, it's too dilute," said Altmann. "Then the baby isn't getting enough nutrition and that's when they fail to thrive. You always want to be sure you're reading and following the directions on the formula properly."
And some moms may not have the baby fully latched onto the breast, so while the baby looks like it's nursing, he or she isn't actually swallowing and feeding, said Altmann.
 

"It's a good idea for breastfeeding moms to check in with a lactation consultant if they have any concerns or pain during feedings," said Altmann. "Then check in with your pediatrician regularly to make sure your baby is gaining weight appropriately."

7. Not enough tummy time

Altmann says an unfortunate mistake many new parents make -- and continue to make as baby grows -- is keeping baby constrained in a car seat, bouncy seat or other sleepers.


"I'll see parents out with their baby, at a restaurant, at the park, talking to friends, and they are carrying the baby in the car seat," said Altmann, who is also a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "I'm always telling parents, 'Car seats are for cars, but don't carry them to and fro in the car seat.'"
Not only can spending too much time reclining create a soft spot on the back of their head, says Altmann, but not interacting with the baby can cause language delays and other issues due to a lack of stimulation. 
"When your baby is not sleeping or not in the car traveling, they really should be on their tummy or held by a parent," Altmann said. "They shouldn't be strapped down, they need to move, stretch, roll and push their head up."
 

8. Under- or overreacting to a fever

Fevers in newborns can be serious. If your baby is younger than three months and develops a fever of 100.4 or higher, call your pediatrician or medical professional immediately. But when it comes to a fever in babies and children older than that, the advice is more complex.

"For the older babies, I'm usually telling parents not to freak out by what the number says on the thermometer," explained Altmann. "Instead, take a close look at your child to figure out what is happening with them, because not every fever needs to be treated."

Look at your baby and observe. Are they drinking fluids? Are they happy and playing? Are they sleeping OK? Are they having any trouble breathing? Those are the questions to ask yourself, Altmann said. Experts say most fevers are harmless, and likely the result of a mild infection.

"Don't just treat the number on the thermometer," Altmann added. "It doesn't matter if it's 101 or 103.5, it's more important how they are acting."

9. Proper temperature for baby in the home


Another concern for parents: how warm or cool their baby should be. Shu said she is often asked by parents for the proper temperature setting for the home. The answer, she says, depends on the time of year and the insulation of the home, but in general "a thermostat setting around 68 to 72 is probably comfortable for baby."

While Shu says she thinks many parents keep baby too warm, Gannon has found the opposite. At homes in her practice, she said, new parents may have their baby in a T-shirt and diaper, unswaddled. She said a baby's skin should always be warm, not hot or cold, to the touch.


"If the baby is chilled, then his body will need to burn extra calories to raise his body temperature, instead of those calories going toward a healthy weight gain," said Gannon. "So even if the baby is feeding well, he or she may not be developing properly because they have to burn a lot of calories trying to get warm."

Shu warns that newborns don't have good circulation at first, so "having cool hands and feet is normal."

10. Taking newborns into crowded places​

Some parents want to take their newborn to a large family gathering so everyone can ooh-and-awww over their tiny miracle. That could be a mistake, experts said.

"It does scare me a bit when I see newborns out and about, especially during cold and flu season," said Altmann. "The first two months of your baby's life, you really need to protect them from exposure to germs and people that are potentially sick. Your baby's immune system is weak, and still growing and developing."


That doesn't mean you can't leave the house, however. Experts encourage daily walks and say it's fine to sit in your backyard or on the front porch.
"But don't take them to crowded spaces," Altmann said. "That's when you can expose them to people who potentially have the flu or another contagious illness that could spread, even if they are a few feet away."
 


Hiring a Personal Assistant

BAHS_Pink_Icon.jpg

Life is busy.  The more hours we work, the more hours we lose for doing personal administration and other important life tasks. Regardless of the lifestyle you lead, more and more people are looking to hire a part time personal assistant to help ease their admin and workload.  But what are the benefits of hiring a part time personal assistant?  Do you need to be a multi-millionaire to afford one?  What gains will you see?

Here is our guide and industry secrets in hiring an incredible part time personal assistant and how it will change your life!

Time is Precious

There are only 24 hours in the day, and unless you’ve created a magic remedy to stop us sleeping, half of these hours are lost to sleep.  The remaining hours consist of family life, work and play.

In modern households, families and individuals look to maximise their time, and most importantly their free time to focus on the things that they enjoy most.  Looking for help and support in the household is a valued and respected request.

Looking for help and support in the household is a valued and respected request. 

For example, families will hire Housekeepers (part time and full time) to look after their homes, Nannies to help care for their children, Chefs to help with daily cooking and Chauffeurs to help with driving.  So what benefit does a part time personal assistant bring?

Flexibility

Hiring a part time personal assistant gives you flexibility.  With a modest budget of £50 a week, you could hire a remote PA to manage 5 hours of your diary/emails and other ‘life admin’ duties.  They don’t have to come into your property, with the digital world we operate in, most things can be done remotely.

The part time personal assistant can dedicate this time to freeing up yours, giving you those precious hours back to spend time with your family, relax or focus on your business and work.  Some clients with a higher budget look to hire a PA for 10, 15, 20 or even 25 hours a week.

Typically in the UK, expect to pay between £10-20 per hour depending on the role and where the position is based.

How to Hire a Part Time Personal Assistant?

Decide what you need.  Is it 5 hours support or 25?  Does the PA need to be based in your property or office, or can they work remotely?  Write down everything you need in the part time personal assistant.
Identify your biggest time drains.  Once these are identified then a part time personal assistant will be able to focus on these tasks in order to best free up your time.
Write a job spec.  It’s important it’s clear and the more detail you include, the easier the candidate will be able to apply. If you are self-recruiting, make sure you check references and fully vet the candidate.  Alternatively, you can work through a professional agency to give you peace of mind.
Interview.  Create a shortlist of candidates and then interview each one.  The part time personal assistant will often represent you – they will be your voice and send emails on your behalf, so it is important you feel that they reflect you and your brand.
Trial.  Give them a short trial.  This is key to identifying if they are the right person for the job.
Offer them a contract.  Give them job security, and in return, they will give you job commitment.  Ideally, you want them to commit to a long term position as it will take your time and energy getting them to speed. And hiring a replacement is also very time consuming.

Some Extra Tips

Always look to develop your communication.  Your part time personal assistant can only be as good as the communication they receive, especially if they are working remotely. It’s vital you clearly communicate what you need and ensure that clear follow-ups are made, otherwise, they could lose precious time doing tasks which aren’t relevant.
Incentivise in positive ways.  This could be small gifts or bonuses or just regular reviews and positive feedback. All personal assistants like to feel they are doing a good job, and if you reward them with your gratefulness they will reward you with hard work!
Do things by the book.  Depending on the country you reside in, guidelines will vary when hiring a part time personal assistant. Make sure you check with your local government guidelines and do things by the book!

So what are you waiting for?  Now is the time to find a wonderful part time personal assistant and see the major difference it can have on your personal and business life.  We’d love to hear from you, so why not drop us a line and we can chat through how best we can help you.

Polo and Tweed


The Phenomenon Of Baby Nurses

sleeping_newborn.jpg

By SARA BERMAN | March 11, 2008
5816

Tomorrow will be my baby nurse's last day with my family. I'm not sure whom I feel worse for: myself or the baby. Six weeks into this gig, I hope the baby hasn't become completely accustomed to twice-daily baths, around-the-clock attention, careful burping, and long massages. But Nate, like his brothers and sisters before him, will survive on fewer baths, fewer massages, and — there's no delicate way to say this — far, far less attention.

According to an agency that places baby nurses in the tristate area (British American Newborn Care) a baby nurse is a non-medical newborn specialist who is highly experienced in infant care. Baby nurses work in private homes and care for newborns typically from the day the baby arrives home through a period of several weeks or months. Normally, they provide 24-hour care and "assist new and experienced parents in every aspect of newborn care and may also help establish eating and sleeping patterns."

In other words, they're glorified, uniform-clad nannies who diaper, burp, bathe, swaddle, rock, and if you want, feed the baby 24 hours a day. They are not — in case you were confused — nurses.

If there is one peculiar element to having a baby in a certain slice of New York, it is the assumption that you will have a baby nurse. If you type the words "baby nurse" into any search engine, you will see that the majority of the links are in the tristate area. They may have baby nurses in California and Georgia, but those baby nurses are, in fact, likely to be registered nurses — and their employers are more likely to be having triplets than single births.

At roughly $200 a day, though, having a baby nurse can really add up.

"Worth every penny," an acquaintance told me about her baby nurse. "We could barely afford our rent when we had our first child. But neither of us had any family in New York. And neither of us had ever changed a diaper. The grandparents pooled together and gave the baby nurse as a gift. It was the best gift ever."

Cramped city living, not exactly conducive to having the in-laws move in for a week or two, is compatible with a baby nurse, who shares the room with the newborn. Giving the gift of a baby nurse is one way to make nice with your daughter-in-law.

One couple with far greater means never let the baby nurse go. "The baby was going to be a year old," the father of three said about his first child, "and we still had the nurse. The nurse would go on and on about what a hard night she had had with the baby, and I'm thinking, suuure you did. Finally, I convinced my wife that enough was enough. But sure enough, when we had our second child, the same baby nurse just moved back in. This time, she stayed for eight or nine months. I'm pretty embarrassed to admit that," he said, while calculating how much he paid the baby nurse over the course of his three children: at least $200,000.

My question is this: Who assists new and experienced parents in every aspect of newborn care across the rest of the country?

"When I was pregnant with my first, I had heard of people using baby nurses," a friend who had her first two children in Chicago said. "But I didn't really know any myself. My mom came and stayed with us for the first week or two. She showed me how to diaper and bathe the baby. And then my mother-in-law came for a few days. I've never been so sad to see my mother-in-law leave. All of a sudden, I was on my own, and it was pretty brutal."

A mother of three who lived in different parts of the South when she had her children said that no one she knew used a baby nurse. "Having a lot of help is normal in New York, but it isn't in most parts of the country," she said. "That's partially economic and partially cultural. I had help when I had my third baby, but that meant I had someone come to clean my house, or baby-sit my other children."

There are plenty of New Yorkers who'd rather spend the money on anything but a baby nurse. "I don't really understand why people have baby nurses," an Upper West Side mother of three said. "The baby and baby nurse sleep all day, while you cook and clean and look after the other kids. For a lot less, you could find someone who does a lot more."

I happen to think that if you can afford it, a good baby nurse does wonders to smooth the transition for the first few weeks of a baby's life — for the baby and for the entire family.

A few weeks ago, my 5-year-old daughter, Kira, heard the baby nurse coo to Nate, "You are so cute, I could eat you up."

"Go ahead," Kira said, deadpan. When the baby nurse later teased that she was going to take Nate home, you can imagine Kira's response.

"Good," she snarled.

Perhaps it is Kira's mental state that I should be worried about on Thursday — not the baby's.

bababynurses.com 


Your Newborn: 30 Tips for the First 30 Days

From parents magazine

Breastfeeding

It's been six weeks since our daughter, Clementine, was born. She's finally sleeping better and going longer between feedings. She's also becoming more alert when she's awake. My husband and I, on the other hand, feel like we've been hit by a truck. I'm amazed that we've muddled through. Here are tips from seasoned parents and baby experts to make your first month easier.

Hints for Nursing

Babies eat and eat and eat. Although nature has done a pretty good job of providing you and your baby with the right equipment, in the beginning it's almost guaranteed to be harder than you expected. From sore nipples to tough latch-ons, nursing can seem overwhelming.

1. Women who seek help have a higher success rate. "Think of ways to ensure success before you even give birth," suggests Stacey Brosnan, a lactation consultant in New York City. Talk with friends who had a good nursing experience, ask baby's pediatrician for a lactation consultant's number, or attend a La Leche League (nursing support group) meeting (see laleche.org to find one).

2. Use hospital resources. Kira Sexton, a Brooklyn, New York, mom, says, "I learned everything I could about breastfeeding before I left the hospital." Ask if there's a nursing class or a lactation consultant on staff. Push the nurse-call button each time you're ready to feed the baby, and ask a nurse to spot you and offer advice.

3. Prepare. At home, you'll want to drop everything to feed the baby the moment she cries for you. But Heather O'Donnell, a mom in New York City, suggests taking care of yourself first. "Get a glass of water and a book or magazine to read." And, because breastfeeding can take a while, she says, "pee first!"

4. Try a warm compress if your breasts are engorged or you have blocked ducts. A heating pad or a warm, wet washcloth works, but a flax pillow (often sold with natural beauty products) is even better. "Heat it in the microwave, and conform it to your breast," says Laura Kriska, a mom in Brooklyn, New York.

5. Heat helps the milk flow, but if your breasts are sore after nursing, try a cold pack. Amy Hooker, a San Diego mom, says, "A bag of frozen peas worked really well for me."

6. If you want baby to eventually take a bottle, introduce it after breastfeeding is established but before the 3-month mark. Many experts say 6 to 8 weeks is good, but "we started each of our kids on one bottle a day at 3 weeks," says Jill Sizemore, a mom in Pendleton, Indiana.

Sleeping

If your infant isn't eating, he's probably sleeping. Newborns log as many as 16 hours of sleep a day but only in short bursts. The result: You'll feel on constant alert and more exhausted than you ever thought possible. Even the best of us can come to resent the severe sleep deprivation.

7. Stop obsessing about being tired. There's only one goal right now: Care for your baby. "You're not going to get a full night's sleep, so you can either be tired and angry or just tired," says Vicki Lansky, author of Getting Your Child to Sleep...and Back to Sleep (Book Peddlers). "Just tired is easier."

8. Take shifts. One night it's Mom's turn to rock the cranky baby, the next it's Dad's turn. Amy Reichardt and her husband, Richard, parents in Denver, worked out a system for the weekends, when Richard was off from work. "I'd be up with the baby at night but got to sleep in. Richard did all the morning care, then got to nap later."

9. The old adage "Sleep when your baby sleeps" really is the best advice. "Take naps together and go to bed early," says Sarah Clark, a mom in Washington, D.C.

10. What if your infant has trouble sleeping? Do whatever it takes: Nurse or rock baby to sleep; let your newborn fall asleep on your chest or in the car seat. "Don't worry about bad habits yet. It's about survival -- yours!" says Jean Farnham, a Los Angeles mom.

Soothing

It's often hard to decipher exactly what baby wants in the first murky weeks. You'll learn, of course, by trial and error.

11. "The key to soothing fussy infants is to mimic the womb. Swaddling, shushing, and swinging, as well as allowing babies to suck and holding them on their sides, may trigger a calming reflex," says Harvey Karp, MD, creator of The Happiest Baby on the Block books, videos, and DVDs.

12. Play tunes. Forget the dubious theory that music makes a baby smarter, and concentrate on the fact that it's likely to calm him. "The Baby Einstein tapes saved us," says Kim Rich, a mom in Anchorage, Alaska.

13. Warm things up. Alexandra Komisaruk, a mom in Los Angeles, found that diaper changes triggered a meltdown. "I made warm wipes using paper towels and a pumpable thermos of warm water," she says. You can also buy an electric wipe warmer for a sensitive baby.

14. You'll need other tricks, too. "Doing deep knee bends and lunges while holding my daughter calmed her down," says Emily Earle, a mom in Brooklyn, New York. "And the upside was, I got my legs back in shape!"

15. Soak to soothe. If all else fails -- and baby's umbilical cord stub has fallen off -- try a warm bath together. "You'll relax, too, and a relaxed mommy can calm a baby," says Emily Franklin, a Boston mom.

Getting Dad Involved

Your husband, who helped you through your pregnancy, may seem at a loss now that baby's here. It's up to you, Mom, to hand the baby over and let Dad figure things out, just like you're doing.

16. Let him be. Many first-time dads hesitate to get involved for fear of doing something wrong and incurring the wrath of Mom. "Moms need to allow their husbands to make mistakes without criticizing them," says Armin Brott, author of The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year (Abbeville Press).

17. Ask Dad to take time off from work -- after all the relatives leave. That's what Thad Calabrese, of Brooklyn, New York, did. "There was more for me to do, and I got some alone time with my son."

18. Divvy up duties. Mark DiStefano, a dad in Los Angeles, took over the cleaning and grocery shopping. "I also took Ben for a bit each afternoon so my wife could have a little time to herself."

19. Remember that Dad wants to do some fun stuff, too. "I used to take my shirt off and put the baby on my chest while we napped," say Bob Vonnegut, a dad in Islamorada, Florida. "I loved the rhythm of our hearts beating together."

Staying Sane

No matter how excited you are to be a mommy, the constant care an infant demands can drain you. Find ways to take care of yourself by lowering your expectations and stealing short breaks.

20. First, ignore unwanted or confusing advice. "In the end, you're the parents, so you decide what's best," says Julie Balis, a mom in Frankfort, Illinois.

21. "Forget about housework for the first couple of months," says Alison Mackonochie, author of 100 Tips for a Happy Baby (Barron's). "Concentrate on getting to know your baby. If anyone has anything to say about the dust piling up or the unwashed dishes, smile and hand them a duster or the dish detergent!"

22. Accept help from anyone who is nice -- or naive -- enough to offer. "If a neighbor wants to hold the baby while you shower, say yes!" says Jeanne Anzalone, a mom in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.

23. Got lots of people who want to help but don't know how? "Don't be afraid to tell people exactly what you need," says Abby Moskowitz, a Brooklyn mom. It's one of the few times in your life when you'll be able to order everyone around!

24. But don't give other people the small jobs. "Changing a diaper takes two minutes. You'll need others to do time-consuming work like cooking, sweeping floors, and buying diapers," says Catherine Park, a Cleveland mom.

25. Reconnect. To keep yourself from feeling detached from the world, Jacqueline Kelly, a mom in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, suggests: "Get outside on your own, even for five minutes."

Out and About with Baby

26. Enlist backup. Make your first journey to a big, public place with a veteran mom. "Having my sister with me for support kept me from becoming flustered the first time I went shopping with my newborn," says Suzanne Zook, a mom in Denver.

27. If you're on your own, "stick to places likely to welcome a baby, such as story hour at a library or bookstore," suggests Christin Gauss, a mom in Fishers, Indiana.

28. "Keep your diaper bag packed," says Fran Bowen, a mom in Brooklyn. There's nothing worse than finally getting the baby ready, only to find that you're not.

29. Stash a spare. Holland Brown, a mom in Long Beach, California, always keeps a change of adult clothes in her diaper bag. "You don't want to get stuck walkingaround with an adorable baby but mustard-colored poop all over you."

30. Finally, embrace the chaos. "Keep your plans simple and be prepared to abandon them at any time," says Margi Weeks, a mom in Tarrytown, New York.

If nothing else, remember that everyone makes it through, and so will you. Soon enough you'll be rewarded with your baby's first smile, and that will help make up for all the initial craziness.

Heather Swain is a mother and writer in Brooklyn, New York. Her novel is Luscious Lemon (Downtown Press).

more in baby care basics


Q&A with Brianne Manz of Stroller in the City

i-77hxffZ-X4.jpg

Chandler Scyocurka, part of British American's Marketing and PR team, sat down with Brianne Manz of Stroller in the City for a Q&A focused on being a mommy blogger and raising children in the bustle of New York City. 

Brianne, who was once a fashion showroom owner, now dedicates her time to motherhood and blogging. Here, she shares some tips on how to perfectly balance being a great mother all while making the most of living in the city. 

Q: Raising children in the city is inevitably difficult. What are some of your tips to new mothers in New York City, in particular?

A: I always say this but the ability to be flexible and go with the flow is key. And make time for yourself! I learned a weekly yoga class so I can just calm my mind, works wonders. And allows you to handle the chaos.


• Q: What do you think is most important when raising a family in New York?

A: Take advantage of what this city has to offer. We have museums and galleries and amazing parks right outside our door. We are surrounded by different cultures and backgrounds—we hear dozens of different languages a day. We wouldn’t have this if we lived anywhere else. It is important to appreciate it and not let the grind overshadow how culturally diverse and wonderful this city is.


• Q: What are your favorite places in or around New York City when looking to spend quality time with your little ones and family?

A: We live in an amazing neighborhood. Battery Park City has so many parks and playgrounds…waterfront views, the promenade, great restaurants. This is the perfect neighborhood to spend time with the family. Plus, I also love the West Village—it still feels like old New York on some of those blocks.


• Q: How do you balance being a mom and a blogger? What do you feel like it means to be a mommy blogger in the social media age?

A: I recently wrote a post about balancing, and for me there’s no such thing. It’s about the juggle. I’m lucky enough that my job involves my family, but I do need to set work hours for myself where I am just working on writing, and other times when I cannot answer emails or phones while I am toting my littles to their after school activities.  

Social media is a huge part of what I do, and I have a very supportive and loving community of followers so I always feel safe sharing our lives. I have always been pretty honest in my posts so I hope I don’t contribute to the staged and unattainable idea of perfection that stresses moms out. I am pretty real, our photos are real—our life is real. I want to continue to promote the honest side of motherhood.


• Q: Have you ever used or considered using a baby nurse or nanny?

A: My husband travels for work constantly so I definitely need some help—especially when I have three kids in different schools in different neighborhoods!! We have a babysitter four days a week to help with school drop offs and pick-ups…and she watches the kids when I have important events and meetings. My family lives nearby so they are always available to help with the kids. I am not opposed to hiring help! Raising children while working full-time is challenging—you always need help, and shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it! 


TEACH YOUR BABY TO READ

TEACH YOUR BABY TO READ

Can Babies Really Learn To Read?

Yes, They Can!     

All babies are Einstein’s when it comes to learning to read. Your baby can actually learn to read beginning at 3 months of age.  Research shows that from this early age, babies have the ability to learn languages, whether, written, foreign or sign language with ease.  It requires no effort for the developing baby to learn languages.  They actually just absorb the language that surrounds them.

Window of Opportunity     

Babies have an advantage over the rest of us.  They have a rapidly developing brain.  This allows them to effortlessly learn and absorb mass amounts of information, all before their 5th birthday.  The experts refer to this period of intense brain development as a “Critical Period” or a “Window of Opportunity”. That simply means that during this period of time, it is considered the ideal time to introduce certain things.  Skills, such as learning to read, are acquired with the least amount of effort during these periods.
 
The brain grows through use.  By stimulating your baby you are growing and strengthening the brain and its connections, called synapses. These are all very important in the development of your child’s intellect.  We can do this by providing rich, stimulating environments for our babies.  We can expose them to foreign languages and sign language.  We can also teach them to read.
It’s Easy!     

Teaching your baby to read may be the easiest of the above choices.  You may not know any other languages.  You may not know how to sign and you may not have the time or resources to learn.  That is why teaching babies to read is so easy and so rewarding.  Since you already know how to read, it is a natural step to teach your baby to read as well.
 
The System     

Babies learn to read using the whole-word method, also called sight reading.   Thousands upon thousands of babies have learned to read using this simple and amazing system.  Babies that learn to read using the whole-word method, naturally learn the rules of phonics on their own or with very little exposure to phonics lessons.  However, we recommend that parents of children ages 4 years and up use a phonetic system to teach reading.
 
How It Works     

Teaching your baby to read must be fun for your baby.  The idea is to keep their interest in what you are presenting.
 
​   -The first rule in teaching babies to read is to make the words big.  Their developing visual pathway does not allow them to read words at the font size we are accustomed to reading.
 
   -Secondly, you have to show them the words very quickly.  They are learning at incredible rates.  When we teach babies to read, we must keep in mind that they can be learning to speak Chinese, French, Spanish and English with no effort, all in the same day.  You must also show the baby the words very quickly.  If we try to teach a baby to read by having them stare at words they will lose  interest.  It takes a split second for your child to process the word you are presenting to them.
 
   -Thirdly, you must speak the word in a clear voice.  It is best to use a slightly higher-pitched tone, which comes naturally to most people when they speak to babies anyway.
 
   -The last step for success in teaching your baby to read is frequency.  You must present the words often in order for your child to master them.  As your child progresses in their program, they will master new words at an incredible rate.  In the beginning of your baby’s program, you will need to present a word between 15 and 20 times in order to assure mastery.  As your program progresses, your child will master new words after viewing them only 2 or 3 times.
 
How They Progress      When teaching babies to read, we begin with single words.  After we have taught between 30 to 50 words, we begin to combine the words to form couplets or word pairs.  From there we progress to phrases, sentences, and then book.
 
We recommend that after your child has learned to read many words that you do introduce them to phonics.  
It is very exciting to hear your baby read their first word.  Of course, you will not hear your baby reading until your baby can speak.  This does not mean that you have to wait until your baby can speak in order to teach reading.  As you read this article you are most likely not reading aloud, yet you are still reading. 
 
Proof     

If you are doubtful that babies can read, go to You Tube and type in babies reading.  You will see lots of videos of babies reading as soon as they can speak.
 
In order to start teaching your baby to read, all you need is a marker and some cardstock.  You can begin by teaching your baby to read their name, your name and other words they hear regularly.  
Now, We Have Made It Easy For You.  The MonkiSee product line has been specifically designed to assist you in teaching your baby to read.  We have a fantastic DVD Collection and five sets of flash cards that are all you need to start on this exciting journey to give your baby a head start in life. The MonkiSee product line is very different from other products on the market.  The MonkiSee DVDs are educational, yet very entertaining.  We are sure your child will have a fantastic time learning to read with these products.  Your baby will be enthusiastic and in love with learning to read.  There is no other program on the market that makes learning to read this much fun.
Visit our store to discover a great selection of products that can aid you in teaching your baby to read.  We have carefully selected some of the best products we believe will enhance your teaching experience.

by intellbaby.com

Contact us to hire a nanny at info@bahs.com


Five Things To Avoid When Sleep Training Your Baby

Baby-crying.jpg

When my son, Fletcher, was around 8 months old, I started dreading bedtime. Each night I'd steel myself as I put him in the crib, where he'd start wailing like an abandoned child. Even though I knew that he was fine -- not hungry or thirsty or wet or sick -- this drama broke my heart. I often caved and brought him back downstairs, letting him snooze with my husband and me while we hung out on the couch. Despite my good intentions, I'd fallen into a classic sleep trap like so many rookie parents.

"Moms feel terrible about letting their baby cry," says Heather Wittenberg, Psy.D., a child psychologist on Maui. "Many say, 'I'm not going to be like my mother and put my baby in the crib, close the door, and ignore her wails.' But some of us take it too far and think it's awful for babies to ever cry. Then we end up with a sleep problem."

Did we ever! I needed guidance -- and maybe some backbone. Sound familiar? Learn gentle yet effective techniques for getting out of this and other sleep snags.

Find out how your baby is developing.

1. Sleep trap: Feeding or rocking your baby to sleep

It's common to fall into this pattern because feeding and rocking your baby are pretty much all you're doing in the beginning (besides changing diapers, of course). Since newborns need to eat every two to three hours and their sleep-wake cycles are so chaotic, they frequently doze off at the end of a meal. While your baby is adjusting to life outside the womb, falling asleep after feeding is just fine. "During the first few months, babies don't have any strategies for soothing themselves, and they don't form bad habits," says Parents advisor Ari Brown, M.D., author of Baby 411. "But around 4 months, they mature neurologically and start to develop sleep routines."

At this point, feeding or rocking can become an issue if it's the only way you can get your child to fall asleep. "Babies naturally wake up two to six times a night, which means that whatever you're doing to get them to sleep at bedtime, you'll need to do that same thing whenever he stirs," says Parents advisor Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., author of Sleeping Through the Night.

The fix Create a bedtime routine that will help your baby associate new activities with sleep: Give him a bath, put on his pajamas, read a story, then dim the lights. "If the same thing happens every night, your baby will start to understand that sleep is soon to come," Dr. Mindell says. You want to put your infant in his crib before he gets too sleepy, so that he learns to connect going to sleep with being in his crib, not in your arms.

Search for all of your nursery needs at Shop Parents.

2. Sleep trap: Picking your baby up each time she cries

Of course, you instinctively want to comfort her when she's whimpering. And for the first six months or so you should go to your baby when she cries, so she knows you'll be there -- but ideally give her a few minutes to see if she settles back down on her own. However, as babies get older they discover that they can use their tears to their advantage. "A 9-month-old will remember that she put up a fuss last night and Mommy let her play until she fell asleep," says Dr. Wittenberg.

The fix Run through your checklist: Is she hungry? Thirsty? Wet? Sick? If she's only crying because you've left her side, try the following strategy recommended by Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., a psychologist in Lake Forest, Illinois (it's based on the Ferber method, a sleep-training technique developed by pediatrician Richard Ferber, M.D.). When you leave the room, set a timer for five minutes. If your baby is still crying after five minutes, return to her and reassure her she's okay, then reset the timer. Check back every five minutes until she's asleep. The next night, set the timer for ten-minute intervals. And so on. By night two or three, your baby should fall asleep more readily. "Crying is part of how babies learn to calm themselves, and it doesn't mean you're neglecting her," says Dr. Lombardo.

3. Sleep trap: Extending night feedings

Like a passenger on a cruise ship, your baby gets accustomed to the midnight buffet, even if he doesn't need the calories. "He also gets used to waking up at the end of a sleep cycle and thinking he needs to suck and eat in order to fall back to sleep," says Dr. Brown. You've probably found it easier to trudge out of bed and feed him than to listen to his sobs. But once your baby is 6 months old -- provided he's growing normally and your pediatrician gives you the go-ahead -- he doesn't require middle-of-the-night meals, even though he still may continue to want them. And he'll probably insist. Loudly. "When you oblige, it just perpetuates the disruptive sleep," Dr. Brown explains.

Not only will on-demand nocturnal snacks cut into your sleep time, they can affect your baby's daytime eating too. "It becomes a vicious cycle: Your baby gets so many calories at night that he doesn't eat much during the day, so he's hungry again at night," says Dr. Mindell. Continued after-hours feeding may even interfere with introducing solid foods.

The fix Close the kitchen after the bedtime meal to motivate your baby to eat more during the day. To get there, you can gradually cut back on the ounces you're feeding him or the amount of time you spend nursing. Or go cold turkey -- and if you're nursing, let Dad put the baby back to sleep for a few nights.

4. Sleep trap: Napping on the go

Letting your baby doze in the stroller frequently can make it easier for you to tackle errands, but little ones who are used to snoozing in motion may find it hard to drift off in their crib, Dr. Mindell says. That can create a sleep problem for you at home. Plus, catching zzz's on the fly means naptime won't be consistent. "Parents tend to think that they'll just let the baby sleep when she wants to, but it's important for her to understand, 'This is my rest time and this is my wake time,' " Dr. Lombardo explains.

The fix Get familiar with how much slumber your baby needs (see "Sleep Cheat Sheet" below), as well as when and how long she naps. Organize your day so she can nap in her crib as often as possible. If she is resistant, make the transition slowly, Dr. Mindell suggests. "Focus on having her fall asleep in the crib for one nap a day, then move on to all naps." Chances are, while she's dozing at home, you'll find things to do that are more fun (or at least more relaxing) than picking up the dry cleaning!

5. Sleep trap: Letting your baby stay up late

You would think that keeping your cherub up till his eyelids are drooping would make him sleep longer and more deeply, but a late bedtime can actually backfire. "When babies stay up, they get overtired," Dr. Mindell says. "Then they take longer to fall asleep and wake up more often." Although your newborn may naturally go to bed later because his sleep patterns are jumbled, by 3 or 4 months old or so, he's ready to hit the sack at 7 or 8 p.m.

The fix If your baby takes an early-evening nap, you can convert that to bedtime: "Bathe him, put him in his pajamas, and just call it a night," Dr. Mindell recommends. You can also roll this new bedtime forward by 15 minutes every few days until you reach 7 p.m. or so. Night, night!

By Norine Dworkin-McDaniel from Parents Magazine

Hire a baby nurse at bababynurses.com 


Get the Royal Treatment at Provence’s Historic Château Fonscolombe

1-chateau-de-fonscolombe-c2a9-michel-trehet.jpg

article by Jessica Benavides Canepa for Robb Report

Queen Elizabeth stayed in this opulent 18th-century estate—and now you can too.

Ensconced in the heart of Provence’s mystical wine country sits a stately residence, home to the Marquis de Saporta and his family for more than 300 centuries. The collection of fountains, stone sculptures, and ancient arboretum pepper the grounds, serving as a reminder of the grandeur of this estate and the lavish parties once held there. As a private château, only royals, VIPs, and dignitaries—most notably Queen Elizabeth—were privy to an overnight stay.

Then, in June 2017, after 18 months of construction and painstaking renovation, Château Fonscolombe was reborn as a 50-room hotel, opening its storied doors to a new generation of discerning guests. Built in the Italian Quattrocento style popular during the 18th century, the main estate features 13 chateau-style bedrooms, each are adorned with a wide spectrum of period touches, from ornate ceiling detailing and hand-painted Chinese wallpaper to chiseled frescos, manicured lawns, Genoa leather tapestries and original terracotta-hued floor tiles. There’s also a small spa (located in the castle’s former boudoir), a winery (dating back to Roman times), and sprawling gardens set over more than 20 acres.

Careful additions have been made as well: The L’Orangerie Restaurant—a rustic-chic dream of high wood-beam ceilings and velvet seating topped with Provençal print cushions—serves a singular combination of traditional “ancestral bourgeois” cuisine with a contemporary flair. There’s also a new swimming pool and deck, as well as an annex housing 37 rooms, each of which presents a modern take on castle décor with stark walls adorned with fashionable photo prints and ceramic cricket wall art.

 

-----

 

British American Household Staffing services the NY and CT areas, including 10013, 10012, 10003, 10023, 10024, 11211, 10014, 10021, 06807, 06831,  06836, 06870,06878, 06830

As well as the San Francisco Bay Area, including 94027, 94028, 94061, 94062, 94301, 94302, 94020, 94129, 94123, 94115, 94109, 94114, 94131, 94105

As well as the Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Malibu areas, including 90210, 90069, 90028, 90263,90264, 93101, 93109, 93121, 90291,90401, 90409, 94513, 90272, 90402

As well as Palm Beach and Miami, including 33480, 33111, 33109, 33139, 33401, 33407, 33402, 33405, 33409

As well as London, England, including SW7 1DG, W1J 8LR, W1J 8 A J, W1J 8NL, W1J 8ET, W1J 8ET,  W84 AP, W84 AS, W8 4AQ, W8 4 AE, W8 4 AA, W8 4BA, NW3 1AA, NW3 1AL NW3 1AW

8 Reasons Positive Discipline Is Still Discipline

1324776458412701.jpg

article by Laura Lifshitz of PopSugar

photo by Aaron Courter

Positive discipline is essentially when you focus on your child's behaviors and choices as good or bad and reward the good behaviors. There is no such thing as a "bad" kid when it comes to positive discipline, and a lot of schools and parents are taking on this way of rearing, raising, and helping kids grow.

But still, there are the naysayers — especially parents of the previous generation — who say that perhaps we are all "too soft" on our kids with this positive parenting nonsense. To the older generation, this is us going too easy on our kids.

"Back in my day, kids behaved the right way!"
"A good spanking got you and your siblings to behave!"

Although each generation of parents tends to have its own unique method of parenting, for some reason the previous generations seem to believe that children can't learn to behave unless they are frightened to death or scared. And perhaps for some kids, the scare tactic approach works. For me it didn't, and for many other kids it doesn't work (in my opinion). I truly think that for positive parenting skeptics, they ought to open their minds to the idea that perhaps children can learn to make great choices without being afraid. That rewarding good choices and focusing on the positives of each individual child can result in a healthy, strong adult.

Need more evidence? Read through for eight reasons positive disciplining is still disciplining.

1. Focusing on the Bad Brings on the Bad; Doing the Opposite Brings on the Good!

Think about it logically. When you focus on something bad that happens to you, the rest of the day seems worse. Do you really think it's any different in regard to behavior? If you focus on all of the bad things your kid does, I can guarantee you your child will do more bad things. Why? Well, he or she will grow to assume that he or she is only capable of doing bad things and therefore is not a worthy person.

When you place your standards and expectations of someone low, he or she is bound to match those standards.

Positive discipline works because it teaches a child that he or she has so much worth and is capable of doing great things. A child who has self-worth is a happy and well-behaved child most of the time.

2. Fear Teaches Kids to Retreat or Fight

If you scream at someone, what happens? The person typically either screams back, runs away, or possibly hits.

Anger only begets anger. Or worse, retreat. Your child will indeed fear you if that's what you want, but how does fear teach a child to develop self-esteem and monitor his or her own actions later in life? Simply with fear. There is a difference between fear and respect.

Respect makes you want to honor a person, even if you don't always agree with him or her. Fear makes you want to avoid, scare, or protect yourself from someone.

Scaring kids into behaving doesn't mean they will become a good adult as time goes on! Positive discipline allows parents, teachers, and caregivers to reinforce good behaviors, extinguish bad behaviors, and maintain respect without weighing on fear to do the job.

The other factor is eventually fear can turn into one of two things: complete avoidance or complete rebellion.

What happens as your child grows older and, in some cases, bigger than you? All of your fear tactics will hold a lot less power as your child grows into a teen. And it would be worse if your child was so afraid of you that in the long run, he or she doesn't turn to you when there are problems and issues in his or her life.

3. Positive Discipline Does Not Reward Bad Behavior

If you shower a kid with negative attention most of the time, that kid is going to behave badly in order to get your focus. When a teacher or caregiver uses positive discipline, the good behaviors have center stage. When you give a child a lot of attention for being good, there is a reward for them to repeat these great choices.

4. Focusing on the Behavior — Not the Child — Teaches Kids to Work on Their Choices

It's not fun feeling like you "messed" up or are not liked or respected. When you use language that focuses on children's choices and not who they are intrinsically as people, you give kids the chance to focus on their actions. The reality is we all have to make a choice each second of each day. So if we and our children feel as though we have opportunities to tweak and build on the choices that we have made, we can then feel good about ourselves in the learning process!

Letting children know that while you love them, you don't always love their choices also lets them feel loved for who they are — imperfect and flawed! If you tell a child she's "bad," do you truly think she will work hard on her choices to change, or will see feel defeated or like a bad person?

5. Positive Discipline Can Teach Logic and Reasoning

If you're talking to a little one about his choices, chances are he will begin to understand the cause and effect relationship between his choices. The more good feedback you can give your child, the better.

6. Cracking the Whip and Getting Kids to Behave at Will Doesn't Create Independent Thinkers

If your child is frightened into behaving or intimidated into behaving, he or she is being given a blueprint for how to behave — always. That child is not given a choice essentially to make choices and learn right from wrong the old-fashioned way: trial and error. Although you want your kids to respect you, fear will only allow a child to behave in a way that reduces him to anxiety.

7. Rewarding Someone For a Good Choice Is a Great Thing For People of All Ages

No one needs a reward every minute of every day — that would keep anyone from having intrinsic motivation — but everyone likes a reward now and then! When someone notices your child being good, whether it's you or a teacher, to reward them for making the right choice is a form of discipline. It's a reassurance and a notification that this choice was indeed a great choice to make.

8. Ignoring or Giving a Consequence For Negative Behaviors Is Discipline, Minus the Fear

If you have ever ignored your child's bad choice — like whining, for example — in order to get him or her to stop, this is a form of positive parenting discipline. In my opinion, it works way better than yelling at the kid to stop.

Giving a child a consequence for a poor choice is also a form of discipline, although, yes, natural consequences that stem from the bad choice itself are sometimes a more powerful discipline tool. It's also much better than using big, bad fear to get your child to never do that again.

Why? Because like I said before, when your child isn't around you — or stops fearing you — the bad choices will begin again.


Interview with Anita Rogers on Goop.com

staffing.jpg

article from Goop 

photo from Goop

Anita Rogers, founder of household staffing agency British American, has more than a decade’s experience in pairing families with household staff, from nannies and butlers to personal assistants and estate managers. She’s earned a reputation for finding successful matches–and also for helping to handle any situation that may arise in the working household. Here, she shares her insights on why hiring for your childcare or home needs is profoundly personal, and how a staffing agency can help with the process.

A Q&A with Anita Rogers

Q: What are the upsides to using an agency?

A: An agency helps you determine what kind of help you really need, and devises the way in which you want your staff to fit your lifestyle. It also saves you time and keeps you safe during the interview process. Some families have limited experience interviewing and hiring childcare and household staff, which makes it easy to miss signs of danger, red flags, or dishonesty. We enforce strict standards as we interview thousands of candidates each year. This has allowed us—and other reputable agencies—to become experts at spotting dishonest references and to be able single out specific personality traits and potential challenges. A staffing agency has seen how similar traits have played out with other candidates, which lends to its ability to find the best fit for you, your family, and your household.

Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about household staffing?

A: Both parties must be willing to give and take in order to find the best match. Often people think they can hire a candidate if they offer a competitive or high salary. Or if a nanny or butler has excellent experience, they might assume they can get a higher salary and an ideal schedule. But staffing is a matchmaking process, and both parties must be satisfied with the relationship and the circumstances in order for it to work.

Q: How do you recognize good talent?

A: It’s a long process—and it’s so much more than just a great résumé and reference letters. We look for candidates that have a balance of experience, training, and education in their field and glowing references from past employers. Other indicators we look for include personality, attitude, flexibility, grammar, responsiveness, and confidence.

The résumé is always the first indicator of talent, where we look at formal level of experience, age appropriate childcare experience, the types of homes an individual has worked in, longevity in previous jobs, and demonstrated professionalism and willingness. We screen all résumés and references and do extensive state, federal, and international background checks, as well as a thorough screening of their social media.

Q: What’s the secret to finding a good match between a family and nanny?

A: Everyone must be on the same page from the very beginning of the process. One family’s dream nanny could be another’s nightmare. It’s imperative that the candidate and the family have a similar approach to raising children, as well as complementary personalities. Someone who is really laid back isn’t going to work well in a formal home that thrives on structure. (The reverse is true as well.) The perfect nanny and family pairing has similar philosophies about discipline, education, and responsibilities. There has to be a mutual respect between the parents and the nanny regarding the decisions made concerning the child. As a parent, if you feel like you have to micromanage and instruct your nanny on how you’d like every situation handled, you will become frustrated and resentful of the situation.

One of the most important factors to consider during the process of finding a good match is assessing the needs and expectations of the family. There’s a huge difference between a parent looking for an extra set of hands to help with driving, activities, and meals and a working parent who needs someone to be the child’s primary caregiver. A take-charge, independent, problem-solving nanny with sole-charge experience isn’t going to thrive as a helper. In the same way, a nanny without the confidence to make decisions on his or her own and proactively foresee situations isn’t the best choice for a family where the parents are gone most of the day. 

Q: Once the hiring process is done, what other support do clients typically need?

A: It depends upon the family. Clients will often come to us for help with communicating with their new employee, especially during the transition process while the employee settles in. We always encourage regular, open and honest communication between both parties. On occasion, we will go into the home as a “manager” and help iron out any small issues that may exist. A relationship between a family and their household employees needs to be nurtured and carefully built, as this is a private home, where discretion is of utmost importance. We encourage clear communication and a weekly sit-down between a family and staff.

Q: If a match doesn’t work out, what is your advice for handling a potential change (or parting ways)?

A: We suggest that each party be gentle but honest about their feelings. The parting should be done with kindness and care so that everyone involved understands that it isn’t a personal attack, just a relationship that has outlived its potential. When hiring staff, you are creating a business in your home. I have seen people distraught if something isn’t working out because they don’t want to offend someone, they don’t want to hurt their feelings.

In certain situations, we’ll go into the residence and let the candidate go so that we can assure it’s done with delicacy. Every situation is very different. We’ve learned it’s best to never point fingers and to make everyone feel good. We directly address and try to resolve any problems, serious or minor, that are brought to our attention, and to support the client or candidate. The ending of a professional relationship can be emotional, particularly if it involves an intimate household setting, so we work to minimize any potential animosity a much as possible.

Q: Is there a difference between a nanny and a career nanny?

A: Most definitely. A typical nanny is different from a career nanny in that they often have a lot of experience with families, but no background or education in child development. Other nanny candidates are great with children and may have teaching degrees or other formal education, but limited in-home experience (typically part-time babysitting work).

A career nanny is someone who has chosen childcare as his or her profession. Most often, these candidates have formal education in child development and/or psychology. This can include a college degree in education or or training from previous jobs. Career nannies also have an employment history of long-term placements in private homes, understand the dynmics of working in a home environment and are great with children. A career nanny knows how to anticipate needs, respect a family’s privacy and space, and handle the logistics of high-end homes. Being in a home is very different than working in a school or daycare; there is no way to prepare or train someone for it, it’s something you learn and understand only after having experienced it.

Q: How have staffing agencies changed over the years?

A: Historically, many agencies have been run by only one or two people. Today, the amount of work it takes to verify backgrounds, interview candidates, and create and nurture relationships is impossible with such a small team. This is a time-intensive business, which is why a larger team with modernized and strict processes is essential.

 

http://goop.com/work/parenthood/how-a-staffing-agency-can-help/


How Prince William and Kate Middleton Plan to Break With Tradition in Their Parenting

00-lede-kate-prince-william.jpg

Vogue article by Michelle Ruiz

One day after Prince Harry opened up about his struggles following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, Prince William is also speaking out, vowing that the next generation of royals will be open and honest about their emotions and won’t live by the traditional British stoicism. “There may be a time and a place for the ‘stiff upper lip,’ but not at the expense of your health,” he says in a new interview with CALMzine, the publication for British mental health organization CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).

In this case, the effort will start at home, Prince William says, with his children, Prince George, 3, and Princess Charlotte, 1. “Catherine and I are clear that we want both George and Charlotte to grow up feeling able to talk about their emotions and feelings,” he said, offering a rare glimpse into the royal couple’s parenting style. “Over the past year we have visited a number of schools together where we have been amazed listening to children talk about some quite difficult subjects in a really clear and emotionally articulate way—something most adults would struggle with.”

This philosophy is a sharp departure from the royal family’s now legendary aversion to showing emotion—a tradition for which his own grandmother may very well be the best example. And while William doesn’t mention her or his own upbringing, he does nod to the antiquated British way of thinking in the new interview. “For too long there has been a taboo about talking about some important issues. If you were anxious, it’s because you were weak. If you couldn’t cope with whatever life threw at you, it’s because you were failing,” he said. “Successful, strong people don’t suffer like that, do they? But of course—we all do. It’s just that few of us speak about it.”

Prince William, who, along with Prince Harry and Kate Middleton (or, “Catherine,” as the royals—and only the royals?—call her), is an ambassador for the British mental health charity Heads Together, also spoke about the importance of mental health awareness in a FaceTime chat with Lady Gaga released today (she from her Los Angeles kitchen and he from his study at Kensington Palace, though he promised they would get together in the U.K. soon). He reportedly reached out after Gaga’s open letter about suffering from PTSD after being sexually assaulted at 19 years old.

“It’s time that everyone speaks up,” Prince William told her. And that’s what you call leading by example.


The Tasty, Time-saving Benefits of Hiring a Personal Chef

walter-peak-gourmet-bbq-42804.jpg

article from Sheknows by Ashlee and Sean McCusker

photo by Real Journeys

Why You Need a Personal Chef

Do you find yourself going to the grocery store and feeling overwhelmed by everything that is on the shelves? With the hectic schedules that we all lead today it can feel like a chore to provide a good home-cooked meal for your family. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone working in your kitchen, providing delicious – and time-saving – family-friendly meals? Look no further: A personal chef is the stress-free answer to your family’s grocery shopping and cooking needs.

A Personal Chef is Not a Luxury

A personal chef service provides stress-free meals prepared to your specifications in your home. Your kitchen is left spotless with a refrigerator full of delicious meals. Having your own personal chef is not a luxury reserved for the rich. A personal chef service can cost you less than eating out at a moderately priced restaurant. Using a personal chef service can free up 10 to 12 hours of your time every week. Personal chefs are responsible for handling all the menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking, packaging and kitchen cleanup! All you have to do is come home, reheat your food, and you're good to go.

Benefits of a Personal Chef Service

Clients who hire a personal chef generally don't have the time or ability to cook for themselves but have the resources to hire someone else to do it for them. Some clients are too busy with their work or family while others may just want to free up time so they can do the things they enjoy more than grocery shopping and cooking in the kitchen. Other clients might simply be tired of restaurant or take-out food and some may not know how to cook and have no desire to learn. Why a personal chef?

Services That a Personal Chef Service Can Offer:

  • Customize menus specifically for you and your family
  • Do all the grocery shopping
  • Buy only the freshest ingredients available
  • Make delicious healthy meals that you will look forward to eating
  • Take into account any dietary restrictions
  • Cook meals that are always preservative-free
  • Package all materials conveniently
  • Label meals for easy thawing and reheating
  • Leave your kitchen sparkling clean

3 Tips for Picking the Right Personal Chef

Each personal chef will bring something different to your table. Here are a few tips to help you decide which personal chef is right for your family.

1. Interview before hiring. When deciding upon which personal chef to hire, it is important to go with one that shares the same values for you and your family. Before agreeing to personal chef services, ascertain the backgrounds of your potential personal chefs. Find out what drew them to become chefs in the first place.

2. Verify liability insurance. An important consideration is to make sure that the chef in question has liability insurance as well as a food-handlers card. Also follow up on references, and ask for a sample menu to determine if the service will be a good fit for your needs.

3. Value involvement in professional chef organizations. Ask your prospective chefs if they are members of any professional organizations. The ones that are demonstrate not only that they are committed to a strong culinary standard and continuing education, but also that they are aware of the latest trends in the culinary world.


How Eleven Madison Park Became the ‘Best’ Restaurant in the World

11MP.jpg

article by Alan Sytsma of Grub Street

photo by Melissa Hom

In 2012, a New Yorker profile laid out the ways in which Daniel Humm and Will Guidara were changing Eleven Madison Park — the restaurant they’d bought from their previous employer Danny Meyer the year before — to help its performance on the annual World’s 50 Best Restaurants ranking. That year, they were 10th — a jump from 24th the year before — and in the time since then, as EMP’s place on the list has steadily risen, they’ve made no secret about their goal to ultimately land the top spot. Today, that happened, when the restaurant was crowned No. 1 at a ceremony in Australia.

Critics can point to flaws with the list itself (such as its continued lack of meaningful female representation), but it is nevertheless very well-established that placement on the list has a tremendous impact on business, and each year’s release is closely followed by the industry. Even people with a casual interest in restaurants will refer to the list’s winner as the “best” restaurant, even though it’s also well-established that, as an actual objective measure of restaurant quality, the list is sort of silly.

It is a list of expensive, world-class restaurants — all of which offer exemplary dining experiences — voted on by chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, and “well-travelled gourmets.” As the official manifesto reads, “There is no pre-determined check-list of criteria,” and voters are free to select whichever spots they prefer. As such, the list is a useful guide to eating $800 dinners, sure, but it’s best read as a look into chefs’ standing, and reputations, among their peers.

In other words, the restaurants that have regularly occupied the list’s top spot in the past — ElBulliNoma, or Osteria Francescana most recently — are the restaurants that the industry is most proud of. Humm and Guidara, who host and attend many industry parties and conferences, are extremely respected and well-liked; voters clearly think that holding them up on a pedestal will be good for the world of fine dining as a whole. And EMP’s co-owners are first-rate ambassadors for the world of hyperexclusive dining: Their restaurant is a modern interpretation of the classic big-city dining temple, proof that “fancy” restaurants, even ones like EMP that are firmly rooted in the European dining tradition, can still feel vital and forward-thinking.

Interestingly, the news comes just as the restaurant is set to close for the summer to renovate and overhaul the menu. The timing may seem somewhat inopportune, but it highlights the way chefs constantly rework their restaurants to stay atop these kinds of international restaurant rankings, where stagnation will cause voters to look elsewhere. Yet, in many ways, the new version of EMP sounds like it will be a natural evolution of the restaurant as it is now.

The current iteration of Eleven Madison Park is just about a decade old. Though the restaurant opened in 1998, Humm took over as chef in 2006. (He and Guidara bought the restaurant from Meyer in 2011.) In an interview with the Times, the partners explained that in addition to updating the kitchen, the dining room will get an overhaul — it will be more comfortable, which makes sense, because comfort is the restaurant’s defining feature. 

ElBulli was a showcase for Ferran Adrià’s fearlessly modern technique and open hostility toward the established pace of a meal at a Michelin-caliber restaurant. Noma, meanwhile, grew to epitomize trends like foraging, traditional preservation techniques, and steadfast commitment to local ingredients. (Not to mention all the earthenware plates you see in every single dining room.) EMP, on the other hand, offers a menu that in many ways is a throwback to traditional luxury ingredients and classic European techniques — a signature dish of Humm’s is celery root or asparagus that’s braised in pig’s bladder and served with black truffle; another dish, “eggs Benedict,” is essentially a caviar course served with homemade English muffins — and sets itself apart with unparalleled warmth and familiarity. Dinner at Eleven Madison Park isn’t about boundary-pushing or avant-garde food; it’s an exercise in opulence and pampering.

That m.o. clearly resonates right now with voters, and with today’s announcement, Humm and Guidara are now the faces of fine dining around the world (just as Redzepi has been for the past decade, and Adrià was before that). The accomplishment is a testament to their talent and determination, of course, as much as it is an indication of the prevailing trends at the highest end of the restaurant world. And just as Adrià’s modernist cooking and Redzepi’s New Nordic aesthetic inspired scores of other chefs, the EMP team’s embrace of unpretentiousness (relatively speaking) and unmatched graciousness should continue to influence other restaurants around the world for many years.


How ‘Downton Abbey’ Fueled China’s Demand for Butlers

14CHINABUTLER-2-master675.jpg

article from New York Times by Chris Buckley and Karoline Kan

photo by Gilles Sabrié

CHENGDU, China — Mao once said that a revolution was not a dinner party. But with the communist revolution turning into opulent capitalism, China’s rich are now making sure the dinner party settings are immaculate and the wine is poured just right.

Inspired in part by the “Downton Abbey” television drama, the country’s once raw and raucous tycoons are aspiring to old-school decorum, fueling demand for the services of homegrown butlers trained in the ways of a British manor.

“What they would like to say to their friends is, ‘Look, I have a butler, an English-style butler in my home,’ to show how wealthy they are,” said Neal Yeh, a Chinese-born Briton living in Beijing, who for over a decade has helped train and find jobs for butlers.

“The country now with the biggest trend in butlers is China,” said Mr. Yeh, whose English accent would be at home on “Downton Abbey,” the television series about a blue blood family in England, which was avidly watched in China. “I dare say I have played a part in starting this trend.”

Butler training schools and agencies have been doing business in China for more than a decade, but the number of recruits has grown sharply in recent years, according to those in the business. Most are Chinese and many are women. The International Butler Academy China opened in 2014 here in Chengdu, a haze-covered city in southwest China, and offers a six-week boot camp on dinner service, managing homes and other minutiae of high living.

“The Chinese are vacationing more now than ever in history, and so they’re being exposed to the West more and more,” said Christopher Noble, an American trainer at the academy who previously ran bars in Cleveland. “But Chinese people see that, experience top-class personal service abroad, and they want to experience it here.”

A boom in butler service might seem incongruous as President Xi Jinping campaigns zealously against corruption and extravagance, and an economic slowdown undercuts lavish spending. But China’s rich continue amassing ever greater fortunes and want what they see as the trappings of respectable refinement. Even under Mr. Xi, butlers are finding growing work as symbols of good taste, according to people in the business.

“You read about an economic slowdown, but China’s wealth is still growing,” said Luo Jinhuan, who has worked as a butler in Shanghai and, most recently, Beijing, after learning the job in Holland. “Old money has passed from one generation to the next. But the new money doesn’t have the same quality. You need to help them improve.”

If butlers symbolize maturing Chinese capitalism, the somewhat awkward status they have here also reflects how the rich in China must play by different rules than the wealthy in many other countries.

It often comes down to a lack of trust. Wealth in China, where a cutthroat business culture is pervasive, comes with insecurity about being brought low by resentful employees, rivals, and officials, especially with the continuing crackdown against corruption. That wariness discourages many millionaires from hiring their own Jeeves to run their homes, people in the business said.

“Some of them discover that in reality they can’t trust an outsider to manage the household,” said Tang Yang, a marketing director at the butler academy. “They’re unwilling to have a butler who knows all the information about the family.”

Relatively few graduates of the academy end up as traditional household butlers. Instead, many work in high-end clubs, housing estates and executive floors, serving several clients at the same time — not with the same intimacy as a personal butler.

Promoters of butlers in China often point out that the country has its own tradition of high-end service, and the classical Chinese novel, “Dream of the Red Chamber,” features traditional butlers, called “guanjia,” or “domestic manager,” in Mandarin. But “Downton Abbey” helped rekindle a new romanticized interest in old-school service in China.

Many student butlers here said they had watched and rewatched the show as an instruction video on the self-effacing unflappability of domestic service.

“I only began to grasp this profession of butlers after watching ‘Downton Abbey,’” said Xu Shitao, a 34-year-old Beijing native studying at the Chengdu academy. “I think that in the future this profession will be quite popular and will have a market.”

But Ms. Xu and her classmates have found that, in reality, being a butler is strenuous work.

On a recent morning, they practiced for hours, learning to serve wine and water the proper way. Again and again, the class of eight clasped a wine bottle near its bottom and stepped forward in unison around a dinner table to dispense just enough wine to reach the widest part of a wine glass.

Not a drop was to splash the tablecloth or, heaven forbid, a guest.

“Stretch, pour, up, twist, back, wipe. Try to extend your arm,” Mr. Noble commanded, using his ever-present translator. “You want to be able to extend your arm as much as possible. You’re doing a ballet.”

Students also take classes on serving formal dinners, packing luggage, cleaning house and countless other details of managing life for the rich.

“You have to get the details right to do your job right,” said Yang Linjun, a 22-year-old student in the class. “Your arms get sore and your hands hurt, but this is a lifestyle.”

After they graduate, many hope to attach themselves to China’s growing number of superrich. In return, they may earn monthly wages of $2,800 or much higher as personal butlers, depending on experience and luck — more than for many service jobs.

By 2015, China had 400 billionaires and billionaire families, an increase of 65 from just a year earlier, according to Forbes’ annual list. The country’s richest 1 percent own about one-third of household wealth, a share similar to the concentration of wealth in America.

Manners can be rough in China, sometimes in a warm way, sometimes less so. But that has been changing as people grow richer, travel and live abroad, and bring back a demand for polished, attentive service.

“A decade ago, very few Chinese people stayed in five-star hotels,” said Yang Kaojun, a property manager with the Summit Group, which employs teams of trained butlers who are at the beck and call of residents. “But now many people have, and that’s given them some understanding of what good service is.”

As well as the Chengdu academy, the Sanda University, a private college in Shanghai, has incorporated butler training into its hospitality program. Many Chinese also learn how to be butlers in Europe. And Sara Vestin Rahmani, the founder of the Bespoke Bureau, a British company that finds domestic staff members for wealthy employers, said her company planned to open a school for butlers and domestic staff people in China this year.

The number of butlers in China is hard to determine. There may be hundreds or thousands, especially in Beijing, Shanghai and the prosperous south. Ms. Rahmani said that in 2007 her company found positions in China for 20 butlers; by 2015 that number had grown to 375, including 125 with families. Others reported similar growth.

“We are in actual fact exporting to China a trade which was once their own,” Ms. Rahmani said. “With communism, everything that was refined, unique and upper-class became a distant memory.”

But Chinese employers often treat butlers as expensive all-purpose flunkies who should be on call 24 hours a day. That violated the traditional idea of a butler as a respected manager of the household and above most menial tasks. Ms. Luo, the butler, said her work was far more hectic than she imagined. Her daily routine included overseeing the sauna, cinema, bowling alley and other rooms in a 32,000-square-foot home.

“I feel that when work starts, there’s no time at all to stop and rest,” she said. “It’s a lot harder than working in a hotel.”

The pressure is compounded by employers’ fears that household servants could exploit sensitive information. Butlers are supposed to have a deep knowledge of their employers’ every foible, traditionally recorded in a book. But the worry that information could be used to rob, extort or prosecute them has discouraged many rich people from taking butlers into their confidence.

“Many of our wealthy are the first generation to be rich, and they don’t have a long accumulation of family history,” said Mr. Yang, the student at the butler academy in Chengdu, who works for a real estate company. “You need trust and a long period of adjustment to have another person suddenly by your side.”


Bringing Down Bébé: How One Mother Mistakenly Hoped a Year in Paris Would Transform Her Sons

img-holdingbringingupbebe_124215593517.jpg

article by Danzy Senna for Vogue

photo by Steven Simko

 

Inspired by a spate of books extolling the French way, Danzy Senna hoped a year in Paris would transform her all-American sons into model citizens. Au contraire.

One afternoon, a few weeks after we arrived in Paris, I took my sons to a playdate at the home of two French boys who lived in the neighborhood. Their mother, Christine, was like a poster girl for all I’d heard about Frenchwomen: Tall, thin, and effortlessly stylish, she was raising two sons while managing a career as a lawyer. She welcomed us into her pristine Saint-Germain apartment. My younger son, Miles, age four, raced past her down the hall in search of toys. My older son, Henry, age six, hid behind me, muttering hello only after I’d prompted him. She led me to the dining room, where I found an unfamiliar spectacle: her two sons, the same ages as mine, quietly curled over the table with pens and paper. They were dressed like miniature businessmen, with haircuts to match. The younger one appeared to be drawing a picture. Fine; my kids did that too. But the other one, the six-year-old, was intently writing down a row of math problems in one column and their answers in the other.

“Homework?” I asked Christine.

“No,” she said with a light laugh. “He just enjoys math.”

Her sons rose at the sight of me and, unbidden, held out their outstretched hands to shake. They said their bonjours before lifting their faces so that we could kiss on each cheek. Then Christine told her sons to go play, and they marched off, obediently, to join mine. When she disappeared into the kitchen, I peeked at the page of math problems, perversely pleased to see that many of the boy’s answers were wrong. Christine returned with tea and a plate of brightly colored macarons. We sat together, chatting, and I found myself relaxing. This was just as I’d imagined my life in Paris—me enjoying adult time while my children played independently. I’d imagined civility as something that people, even raucous American children like mine, could catch, like a bug.

The official reason we were in Paris was that my husband had a sabbatical from his university professorship in L.A. We’d decided to uproot the family for the year to give the boys a cross-cultural adventure. We wanted them to grow up worldly and bilingual. And for me, it was more than that. I was not sure I liked the overly precious culture in which I was raising them. In preparation, I felt I had to read Pamela Druckerman’s playground sensation Bringing Up Bébé. I was horrified to see myself in the book’s descriptions of the overindulgent American parent. My kids represented everything that was wrong with our country. They made too much noise in restaurants. They were picky eaters, to the point where I often cooked them two separate meals at night. Their toys lay scattered all around the house, as if to mark the territory they’d won. My husband and I had not had a conversation that didn’t revolve around them in years. I was forever sleep deprived. And long after giving birth I still looked, well, a little bit pregnant. Once, in a yoga class, the teacher asked me if I was expecting. “Actually,” I lied, “I just gave birth.” She congratulated me, and I waited until she was out of earshot to add, “Four years ago.”

Druckerman wasn’t alone in extolling the virtues of the French. In the same way that Julia Child once introduced American women to the exquisiteness of French cuisine, an entire cottage industry has grown around the idea that when it comes to living, Frenchwomen do it better. Consider French Kids Eat Everything; Forever Chic: Frenchwomen’s Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style and Substance;or the upcoming French Women Don’t Get Facelifts, by Mireille Guiliano, of the original French Women Don’t Get Fat. The list goes on. We’ve always admired their fashion; now it seems they’ve become standard-bearers for every facet of our existence. In contrast to our American child-ruled ways, French mothers apparently practice some elegant form of detachment parenting, which is why they look so much better than we do, and also why their kids are so much better behaved.

At home in L.A., my husband and I were at least aware of the problem. Whenever our sons complained that they were bored, my husband would reply, “This isn’t a cruise ship, it’s your childhood.” But the world outside our door sometimes seemed to be arguing otherwise. One mother I knew admitted she’d taken to asking her ten-year-old daughter on occasion: “How do you think your childhood is going so far? Pretty good?”

I’d always been susceptible to parenting manuals. When the boys were small, I read a book on attachment parenting that convinced me I’d already done them deep psychic harm. I’d failed to give birth to them in a bathtub. I’d failed to wear them strapped to my body all day in a sling while I cleaned and cooked and tended crops in the field. I’d failed to nurse them until they told me it was OK to stop. As a result, I learned they were doomed to be obese, anxious, and somewhat dim.

It was in some ways refreshing to read Bringing Up Bébé—except that it turns out I’d messed up my kids by being too attached. Frenchwomen didn’t believe that hoo-hah about “you’re only as happy as your saddest child.” Frenchwomen nursed for only as long as they felt like it. Frenchwomen didn’t feel the need to follow their toddlers around the park in earth shoes, interpreting their experiences for them. But, according to the book, it wasn’t too late. I could still turn this cruise ship around. And here we were, in Paris, determined to make our kids tough, gritty, independent, and exceedingly polite in two languages. They were going to attend the local public school, where they could put the French they’d been practicing to good use. International schools, I’d been told by the admissions director of a French lycée in Los Angeles, were for wimpy Americans who wanted to just have “a nice year.” We didn’t want a nice year. We wanted a French year.

I nibbled Christine’s macarons and asked her the question posed to Frenchwomen through the ages: How do you do it? I swept my hand around her apartment. Taking my question literally, she explained that she had it all down to a system. She saw the kids on Monday evenings, Thursday afternoons, and then Saturday mornings were reserved for their grandparents, and then. . . .

From the back of the apartment came a loud crash, followed by a scream. The dreamscape was shattered. I rose and followed Christine toward the commotion, trying to think of a way to explain my children. I’d tell her there was something wrong with them, that they’d been officially diagnosed with a mental disorder—something vague but clinical-sounding, like oppositional defiance disorder—and then I’d get us the hell out of there.

But when we reached the back of the apartment, we found her older son straddling his younger brother on the floor, clutching his neck tightly, while the smaller one flailed around beneath him, his face turning scarlet. My two sons stood at the sidelines, each clutching a toy car, watching with mouths slightly open.

“Ça suffit!” Christine shouted, leaning down to pull the one brother off the other. She slapped the older one swiftly several times on his bottom and then helped the younger one to his feet, berating them both in a tone I have yet to master.
If I was looking to the Old World for help with parenting, it was probably because I had no cultural tradition to draw from in my own background. The only tradition in my family, going back on both sides for generations, was to break with tradition. One of my grandmothers was an Irish playwright from Dublin; the other grandmother was an African-American jazz musician from the Deep South; one grandfather was a blue-blood Harvard law professor turned civil rights activist; the other grandfather was a professional lightweight boxer from Nuevo León, Mexico.

I was raised in 1970s cultural chaos. Dinner was tacos one night, spaghetti the next. My mother’s idea of discipline was to occasionally throw shoes at us while shrieking, “I can’t take this anymore!” Other times she just laughed at our misbehavior like an older teenage sister. Once, when I was eight or nine, she told me her theory that everyone had two ages, an actual age and a spiritual age. “For example,” she said, “I’m always going to feel seventeen.” She glanced at me through cigarette smoke. “And you’re always going to feel 40.”

I once saw a sculpture by the artist Charles Ray that seemed to sum up the American family as I’d known it: four naked mannequins—a mother, a father, a young boy, and a toddler girl—standing in a row, holding hands. They appear at first glance to be your average nuclear family, but the artist has slightly enlarged the children and shrunk the parents so that they all stand at equal height. It unsettled me because it spoke so clearly of a land where children were treated as adults and parents acted like children.

Before I knew it, the French school year had begun. From the outside, the boys’ école looked like a huge fortress, the playground a crush of screaming children—kind of like the public schools I’d attended as a kid. The class sizes seemed alarmingly large. I had to remind myself of our mantra—childhood is not a cruise ship—when I left the boys there behind the gates that first day.

At pickup, I leaned down to ask Henry how his first day of school had gone. He told me, his mouth smeared with pain au chocolat, “Weird; I feel like I don’t exist. How many days before we go back to L.A.?”

When I looked for Miles inside the maternelle, I found him sitting in a corral with the other four-year-olds. He looked calm enough, but he was wearing a purple jacket I didn’t recognize with a name tag that read mohammed. I tried to tell his teacher that there had been a mistake, but the elderly M. Rousseau just nodded and said, “Oui, oui.”

I tried to laugh the misunderstanding off, but by the second week it didn’t matter, because Miles had changed his name anyway. He was insistent that everybody call him Oui and he would throw a fit if we dared call him otherwise. He also began to speak in a drunken slur that made him hard to understand. It took me a few days to realize he was trying to sound as if he had a French accent.

When I went to a school official and told her my concerns about the kids’ adjustment, she assured me they’d be fine. “You pay too much attention to them,” she told me. “Keep yourself busy with other things. Enjoy Paris!”

And so, I tried to put away my worries about Henry, a previously sunny, popular child who now played with his hands constantly, making conversations between them. After writing at home in the mornings, I wandered Paris during the days, searching for the city I’d read about in books. I discovered a farmers’ market near our house like nothing I’d ever seen before. And I admit I did forget the children’s woes as I perused the exquisite displays of cheese, the glistening fish, the beautifully arranged fruits. Once, on my way home, I bumped into a neighbor, a Parisian mother of two. I asked her if she, too, shopped at the farmers’ market, holding up my bags proudly.

“Never,” she said, clucking her tongue. “That’s for American tourists. Tomorrow I’ll show you where real French mothers do their shopping.”

The next day she led me to a store called Picard. The logo on the sign out front was a giant blue snowflake. Inside, it looked a little like a morgue—a bare white space filled with rows upon rows of freezer chests. I followed her through the aisles, peering at the boxes and bags of frozen food. The French had found a way to freeze everything: escargot, foie gras, stuffed salmon, tiramisu. Pumpkin soup came in a bag of frozen blocks you just melted in a pan. “Is this what you feed your children?” I asked, thinking of the pressure back home to buy only fresh, local, and organic.

“Every night,” she said, laughing at my expression. “Oh, you didn’t know? This is the little secret of Parisian mothers. We don’t cook. Who has the time? At night I put Picard in the microwave, and dinner is ready in five minutes. Voilà!”
Everywhere I went in Paris, I saw beauty, history, nattily dressed children, and fantasies of America, from the movie posters in the Métro to the names of the French clothing labels—American Vintage, American Retro. It was as if, at this moment of identity crisis, with France’s economic future somewhat uncertain, the country had finally come to appreciate our pioneering spirit. I noticed that the French remained, however, stubbornly attached to quality and tradition, and as I walked the streets, it was impossible not to be impressed by the cut of a silk scarf or the elaborate window display of our local pastry shop. At the boys’ school, it was true that there was a lot more rote memorization than they were used to, but I was glad that Henry was learning to handwrite in the most beautiful cursive, a far cry from the iPads that had been dispensed to every kid in his L.A. kindergarten class.

Whatever Paris’s charms, the boys were deeply homesick. At night, in their twin beds, they whispered back and forth to each other all the things they missed the most about Los Angeles—horrible things, like the garish outdoor mall with the fountains that “danced” to pop tunes, or the Santa Monica Pier, where they’d both shrieked with terror on a ride before throwing up their cotton candy. They missed it all—especially their preschool, which I had affectionately called Kumbaya Academy, where, instead of their being corrected for any mistakes, every smear of paint or mindless utterance was met with “Great job!”

It was fall, and the U.S. presidential elections were in full swing. One evening, I found Henry standing in the living room watching CNN footage of a Mitt Romney campaign rally. He was chanting, “U-S-A! U-S-A!” I switched off the TV and sharply reminded him that we were Obama supporters—but even I could see that wasn’t the point. In bed beside my husband that night, I asked him to remind me what we were doing here with the kids. “Exposing them to another culture,” he said, trying to reassure us both. “They’ll adjust in no time. Remember? Kids are resilient.”

Everything crystallized the next weekend when my husband and I attended an American-fiction festival in Paris. There I met a French photographer who was doing a series on contemporary writers. Sixty-something, gray-haired, he asked me to lean against a wall while he fiddled with his camera. We chatted. I told him we were here for a year with our kids, that we’d put them in French public school. “We’re hoping they’ll pick up French,” I told him.

“Ah,” the man said, nodding. “My parents did that to me when I was seven. We moved here from Sweden, and they dropped me in a French public school without having any French. Because, as they say, kids are like sponges.”

I tried to laugh away my growing discomfort. “I guess it worked,” I said. “You sound French now.”

“Funny you should say that,” he said. “Fifty-five years later, I’m still trying to remember that year. According to my parents, I didn’t speak for the first six months after we got here—not a word. I was rendered completely mute by the shock of it.”

He hid his face behind the camera. “Now let’s start with one of you smiling.”
One Monday morning soon after, Miles pretended to be sick, and I pretended to believe him so he could stay home. As I was walking Henry to school, he tripped on the curb, fell, and skinned his knee. Though the cut was tiny, he began to weep like I’d never heard him weep before. I sat down beside him and held him in my arms, and a memory floated back to me from my own childhood. My father, in the late seventies, in the wake of his divorce from my mother, had sent my sister and me to a black-pride academy deep in the heart of Boston’s African-American neighborhood. The founder’s motto was to “instill racial pride while teaching.” During our time there, we performed in an all-black Christmas pageant called The Black Nativity, learned to sing the black national anthem, and were swatted with a switch by a dance teacher in an Erykah Badu–style head scarf when we forgot our steps.

My sister and I wept each time we were led up the steps into this new world where we were generally ostracized by the other kids. My father had the best of intentions—to make us proud of our black heritage in the midst of a predominantly white city—but in a haze of idealism and political ideology, he couldn’t see the more immediate reality of our daily misery. He inflicted this education on us like a bitter medicine. Someday we’d be proud to be black. Someday we’d reach the promised land of Negritude, and this would all make sense.

Henry sobbed in my arms over the cut on his knee that wasn’t really the problem. I held him and told him, “It’s lonely, isn’t it, being in that school? I’m so sorry. Let’s just stop. OK? Today we’ll go inside and say goodbye to your schoolmates and your teacher. We’ll thank them for having you. Then we’ll leave and we’ll never go back again. I’m finding you a school where people speak English.”

He looked confused for a moment. “Really?”

“Really.”

The following week I had both boys enrolled in bilingual international schools. We weren’t abandoning the language project altogether—half their day would be in French, half in English. But along with French children, there would be other Anglophone children like them.

The first day, I took Henry to his new classroom. We found a group of rowdy American and British boys crowded around a table building a Lego castle. They were neither self-contained nor well behaved. They were everything Bringing Up Bébé claimed French kids were not. I nudged my son to join them.

Afterward, I sat in a nearby Starbucks, drinking a soy chai latte, surrounded by brash Americans. I thought about all the parenting books I’d read over the years, with their shifting and contradictory advice on how to do right by one’s children. My husband and I were still just making it up as we went along. My kids would not go home bilingual, with scarves wrapped artfully around their necks, happy gourmands who greeted visitors with kisses to both cheeks. I wasn’t going home as a French mother, real or imagined. It was shameful to admit, but I was the happiest I’d been in weeks.


A Child’s Lifelong Self-Esteem Emerges Earlier Than We Thought

kids-pic.jpg

article from Huffpost

photo from Sleeptastic Solutions

Children may form a sense of their “overall goodness” by preschool.

 

Five-year-old children may only read and write at a basic level, but their sense of self is surprisingly sophisticated. A provocative new study suggests that by kindergarten, a child’s self-esteem is as strong as an adult’s.

The research, published in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, finds that most children have developed an overall positive sense of themselves by this age — and that sense of self remains relatively stable over their lifespan.

“Some rudimentary sense of children’s self-esteem appears to be already established by age 5,” Dr. Dario Cvencek, a research scientist at the University of Washington and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post. “That does not mean it can’t change with life experiences and maturation. We think self-esteem is malleable but we also think that it starts earlier than previously thought.”

The research overturns traditional psychological beliefs about the way self-esteem develops during childhood. Scientists previously thought that preschoolers were too young to have developed an overall positive or negative sense of themselves, according to Cvencek.

“Our new work,” he said, “shows that preschoolers do have a global, overall knowledge of their goodness as a person. It’s a first.”

In previous studies, psychologists relied on verbal self-evaluations to measure a child’s self-esteem, which may have provided unreliable data due to young children’s limited verbal abilities.

So for their study, Cvencek and his colleagues designed a new test, called the Preschool Implicit Association Test (PSIAT), to measure children’s positive feelings toward themselves. The researchers administered the test to 234 five-year-old boys and girls living in Washington state.

Similar to an implicit association test for adults — which asks participants to quickly associate words such as “self” and “pleasant” or “unpleasant” — the preschoolers were asked to associate objects.

The children were presented with several different varieties of flags, which they were taught to divide into two groups: “yours” and “not yours.” Then, the preschoolers completed a task in which they pressed buttons to indicate whether “good” words (fun, happy, good, nice) and “bad” words (bad, mad, mean, yucky) were more associated with “me” or “not-me.” 

The results of this and two other implicit association tests revealed that the children associated themselves more with good qualities than bad ones. 

“Previously we understood that preschoolers knew about some of their specific good features,” Dr. Anthony Greenwald, a psychologist at the University of Washington and one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. “We now understand that, in addition, they have a global, overall knowledge of their goodness as a person.”

The study also revealed that high self-esteem was correlated with strong gender identity and preference for members of their own gender, suggesting that a child’s self-esteem is connected to other formative parts of their personality.

Now that we know that self-esteem emerges early in life, how can parents and teachers foster the development of a healthy sense of self in a child?

The warm, supportive connections a child develops with others are probably the most important factor, according to Cvencek.

“Children who feel loved by others may internalize this to love themselves,” he said. “Our findings underscore the importance of the first five years as a foundation for life.”


The Surprising Effects of Listening to a Baby Cry

Baby-crying.jpg

photo from Getty Images

article by Jen Gann from The Cut for New York Magazine

Parents who’ve done any form of cry-it-out sleep training — or all parents, quite frankly — are only too familiar with what happens when their baby cries: It feels horrendous. It feels immediately alarming, as though every nerve ending is suddenly subject to an electrical fire. Yesterday, the New York Times took a good look at some of the science behind a baby’s cry — and our sometimes surprising reactions.

Seeing some of the crying facts laid bare is a little staggering. Normal infants, for example, cry about two hours every day. What the Times calls a “notorious human crybaby” will sometimes cry for two hours, every two hours. Crying, of course, is essential to survival: Infant mice stripped of the ability to cry are ignored by their mothers, and quickly die.

Indeed, we’re hardwired to respond to crying. Researchers have “found that within 49 thousandths of a second of a recorded cry being played, the periaqueductal gray — an area deep in the midbrain that has long been linked to urgent, do-or-die behaviors — had blazed to attention, twice as fast as it reacted to dozens of other audio clips tested.”

What to do with that reaction, when all your attempts to calm a crying baby are met with more crying? Personally, I always rolled my eyes a little at anyone’s claim that I would “learn to decode” my baby’s cries, that the cries would sound different depending on what he wanted (it seemed like most of the time, he didn’t know?). But according to a study summarized by the Times, Spanish researchers have been able to categorize three cry types: anger, fear, and pain.

With their arms and legs pinned to provoke anger, mad babies usually kept their eyes half-open, looking off to the side as they cried. Babies frightened by a loud noise, “after an initial hesitation and tensing up of the facial muscles, emitted an explosive cry and kept their eyes open and searching the whole time.” For babies given a shot, the cries were immediate, forceful, and conducted with shut eyes.

On a more uplifting note, the Times presents some possible evidence against so-called “mommy brain”:

--

In another study, volunteers were asked to play a lab version of the popular game Whac-a-Mole by pressing down on an ever-shifting target button as rapidly as possible. Subjects then listened to recordings of babies crying, adults crying or birds singing, and played the game again.

“We saw better scores and more effortful pressing after the infant cries,” Dr. Young said.

Why not try this out at home? Your angry, fearful, or pained baby is primed to give you lots of opportunities.


Recipe!: Baked Sweet Potato Fries

sweetpotatofries.jpg

Recipe from You Can Trust a Skinny Cook via Parenting

Photo by Lucy Schaeffer

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 small)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut each sweet potato in half lengthwise, and place it flat side down on a cutting board. Cut the potato halves into 1-inch-wide wedges.
  • In a small bowl, combine the oil, chili powder and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Place the potatoes on a roasting pan and brush with the oil mixture. Lay the potatoes flesh side down on the pan and put the pan in the oven.
  • Cook until potatoes, turning once, until soft, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and season with remaining1/2 teaspoon salt. Let the wedges cool for a bit, and serve warm.
    • For dunking, ketchup always works (at 15 calories per tablespoon) or try a squeeze of fresh lime juice for a British chips-and-vinegar effect.

Art Exhibition: Cannon Hersey’s Silk Route

Anita_Artist_Reception.png

British American Household Staffing's first major art exhibition event was a great success, with over 50 potential buyers viewing Cannon Hersey's 22 moving pieces.

Starting at 6 PM, guests started arriving to view the art and mingle with fellow fans of the artist’s work.  Friends, family and British American Household Staffing clients alike gathered to see his new work and hear about the creation process and deeper meaning of all of his culturally provocative work.  7 PM marked the private tour that revealed a cohesive and provoking thought process behind all of his diverse body of work.  Wang Rouying was kind enough to play the piano for the event; at only 13 years old, she performed a complex Rachmaninoff piece. The remainder of the event consisted of some wonderful socialization and discussion about the pieces.

How To Order Sushi, According To A Nutritionist

sushi-charlottesbook.png

article by Keri Glassman for charlotte's book

image from charlotte's book

Sushi is generally a low-calorie meal compared to standard Western dinners, and the main components are all nutritious foods. Fish is a good source of lean protein and omega-3s, AKA the healthy fats I love. Many rolls contain veggies like cucumbers, carrots, and avocado (okay, I know, it’s a fruit, but it adds even more healthy fat!), and seaweed, especially nori, is packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, plus calcium and iron.

Those healthy components come with a few caveats, though, and there are many places on the menu where the idea of a totally healthy meal can start to smell a little fishy. American-style sushi can have a lot of calories and carbs from all that rice, mayo-based sauces, and fried veggies or fish (or come in massive, overstuffed sizes).

THE “BAD” SUSHI LIST

Skip anything fried, which is often referred to as tempura, or “crunchy.” Avoid spicy tuna rolls, since the “spicy” sauce is filled with mayo, Philadelphia rolls, which are packed with cream cheese, and any super-sized options.

THE “GOOD” SUSHI LIST

Eat rolls that are made with just plain fish and veggies, and ask for brown rice if the place offers it. Better yet, order a cup of rice and then fill the rest of your plate with sashimi, which is just the plain fish without the rice. This way you can eat your preferred amount of rice throughout the meal. You’ll still get plenty of flavor, especially since you should pile on the wasabi and ginger. Both are filled with antioxidants.

DON’T JUST ORDER SUSHI

Supplement with other super healthy Japanese foods, like edamame, miso soup (which is great for your gut health), seaweed salad, and other salads with ginger dressing, so you don’t end up going overboard on the rolls (and the rice).

KEEP THE MERCURY LOW

If you’re eating sushi once in a blue moon this won’t be an issue, but if you’re eating it regularly, you should try to choose fish that are lower in mercury, like shrimp, scallops, eel, and salmon and avoid or go light on those that are highest, like tuna. The NRDC has a handy list of which fish in sushi has the highest and lowest levels.

The above post was originally published on Keri Gassman’s Nutritious Life Blog, but we thought it was fascinating enough to include here, too. 


8 Reasons Positive Discipline Is Still Discipline

1324776458412701.jpg

article by Laura Lifshitz of PopSugar

photo by Aaron Courter

Positive discipline is essentially when you focus on your child's behaviors and choices as good or bad and reward the good behaviors. There is no such thing as a "bad" kid when it comes to positive discipline, and a lot of schools and parents are taking on this way of rearing, raising, and helping kids grow.

But still, there are the naysayers — especially parents of the previous generation — who say that perhaps we are all "too soft" on our kids with this positive parenting nonsense. To the older generation, this is us going too easy on our kids.

"Back in my day, kids behaved the right way!"
"A good spanking got you and your siblings to behave!"

Although each generation of parents tends to have its own unique method of parenting, for some reason the previous generations seem to believe that children can't learn to behave unless they are frightened to death or scared. And perhaps for some kids, the scare tactic approach works. For me it didn't, and for many other kids it doesn't work (in my opinion). I truly think that for positive parenting skeptics, they ought to open their minds to the idea that perhaps children can learn to make great choices without being afraid. That rewarding good choices and focusing on the positives of each individual child can result in a healthy, strong adult.

Need more evidence? Read through for eight reasons positive disciplining is still disciplining.

1. Focusing on the Bad Brings on the Bad; Doing the Opposite Brings on the Good!

Think about it logically. When you focus on something bad that happens to you, the rest of the day seems worse. Do you really think it's any different in regard to behavior? If you focus on all of the bad things your kid does, I can guarantee you your child will do more bad things. Why? Well, he or she will grow to assume that he or she is only capable of doing bad things and therefore is not a worthy person.

When you place your standards and expectations of someone low, he or she is bound to match those standards.

Positive discipline works because it teaches a child that he or she has so much worth and is capable of doing great things. A child who has self-worth is a happy and well-behaved child most of the time.

2. Fear Teaches Kids to Retreat or Fight

If you scream at someone, what happens? The person typically either screams back, runs away, or possibly hits.

Anger only begets anger. Or worse, retreat. Your child will indeed fear you if that's what you want, but how does fear teach a child to develop self-esteem and monitor his or her own actions later in life? Simply with fear. There is a difference between fear and respect.

Respect makes you want to honor a person, even if you don't always agree with him or her. Fear makes you want to avoid, scare, or protect yourself from someone.

Scaring kids into behaving doesn't mean they will become a good adult as time goes on! Positive discipline allows parents, teachers, and caregivers to reinforce good behaviors, extinguish bad behaviors, and maintain respect without weighing on fear to do the job.

The other factor is eventually fear can turn into one of two things: complete avoidance or complete rebellion.

What happens as your child grows older and, in some cases, bigger than you? All of your fear tactics will hold a lot less power as your child grows into a teen. And it would be worse if your child was so afraid of you that in the long run, he or she doesn't turn to you when there are problems and issues in his or her life.

3. Positive Discipline Does Not Reward Bad Behavior

If you shower a kid with negative attention most of the time, that kid is going to behave badly in order to get your focus. When a teacher or caregiver uses positive discipline, the good behaviors have center stage. When you give a child a lot of attention for being good, there is a reward for them to repeat these great choices.

4. Focusing on the Behavior — Not the Child — Teaches Kids to Work on Their Choices

It's not fun feeling like you "messed" up or are not liked or respected. When you use language that focuses on children's choices and not who they are intrinsically as people, you give kids the chance to focus on their actions. The reality is we all have to make a choice each second of each day. So if we and our children feel as though we have opportunities to tweak and build on the choices that we have made, we can then feel good about ourselves in the learning process!

Letting children know that while you love them, you don't always love their choices also lets them feel loved for who they are — imperfect and flawed! If you tell a child she's "bad," do you truly think she will work hard on her choices to change, or will see feel defeated or like a bad person?

5. Positive Discipline Can Teach Logic and Reasoning

If you're talking to a little one about his choices, chances are he will begin to understand the cause and effect relationship between his choices. The more good feedback you can give your child, the better.

6. Cracking the Whip and Getting Kids to Behave at Will Doesn't Create Independent Thinkers

If your child is frightened into behaving or intimidated into behaving, he or she is being given a blueprint for how to behave — always. That child is not given a choice essentially to make choices and learn right from wrong the old-fashioned way: trial and error. Although you want your kids to respect you, fear will only allow a child to behave in a way that reduces him to anxiety.

7. Rewarding Someone For a Good Choice Is a Great Thing For People of All Ages

No one needs a reward every minute of every day — that would keep anyone from having intrinsic motivation — but everyone likes a reward now and then! When someone notices your child being good, whether it's you or a teacher, to reward them for making the right choice is a form of discipline. It's a reassurance and a notification that this choice was indeed a great choice to make.

8. Ignoring or Giving a Consequence For Negative Behaviors Is Discipline, Minus the Fear

If you have ever ignored your child's bad choice — like whining, for example — in order to get him or her to stop, this is a form of positive parenting discipline. In my opinion, it works way better than yelling at the kid to stop.

Giving a child a consequence for a poor choice is also a form of discipline, although, yes, natural consequences that stem from the bad choice itself are sometimes a more powerful discipline tool. It's also much better than using big, bad fear to get your child to never do that again.

Why? Because like I said before, when your child isn't around you — or stops fearing you — the bad choices will begin again.


Interview with Anita Rogers on Goop.com

staffing.jpg

article from Goop 

photo from Goop

Anita Rogers, founder of household staffing agency British American, has more than a decade’s experience in pairing families with household staff, from nannies and butlers to personal assistants and estate managers. She’s earned a reputation for finding successful matches–and also for helping to handle any situation that may arise in the working household. Here, she shares her insights on why hiring for your childcare or home needs is profoundly personal, and how a staffing agency can help with the process.

A Q&A with Anita Rogers

Q: What are the upsides to using an agency?

A: An agency helps you determine what kind of help you really need, and devises the way in which you want your staff to fit your lifestyle. It also saves you time and keeps you safe during the interview process. Some families have limited experience interviewing and hiring childcare and household staff, which makes it easy to miss signs of danger, red flags, or dishonesty. We enforce strict standards as we interview thousands of candidates each year. This has allowed us—and other reputable agencies—to become experts at spotting dishonest references and to be able single out specific personality traits and potential challenges. A staffing agency has seen how similar traits have played out with other candidates, which lends to its ability to find the best fit for you, your family, and your household.

Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about household staffing?

A: Both parties must be willing to give and take in order to find the best match. Often people think they can hire a candidate if they offer a competitive or high salary. Or if a nanny or butler has excellent experience, they might assume they can get a higher salary and an ideal schedule. But staffing is a matchmaking process, and both parties must be satisfied with the relationship and the circumstances in order for it to work.

Q: How do you recognize good talent?

A: It’s a long process—and it’s so much more than just a great résumé and reference letters. We look for candidates that have a balance of experience, training, and education in their field and glowing references from past employers. Other indicators we look for include personality, attitude, flexibility, grammar, responsiveness, and confidence.

The résumé is always the first indicator of talent, where we look at formal level of experience, age appropriate childcare experience, the types of homes an individual has worked in, longevity in previous jobs, and demonstrated professionalism and willingness. We screen all résumés and references and do extensive state, federal, and international background checks, as well as a thorough screening of their social media.

Q: What’s the secret to finding a good match between a family and nanny?

A: Everyone must be on the same page from the very beginning of the process. One family’s dream nanny could be another’s nightmare. It’s imperative that the candidate and the family have a similar approach to raising children, as well as complementary personalities. Someone who is really laid back isn’t going to work well in a formal home that thrives on structure. (The reverse is true as well.) The perfect nanny and family pairing has similar philosophies about discipline, education, and responsibilities. There has to be a mutual respect between the parents and the nanny regarding the decisions made concerning the child. As a parent, if you feel like you have to micromanage and instruct your nanny on how you’d like every situation handled, you will become frustrated and resentful of the situation.

One of the most important factors to consider during the process of finding a good match is assessing the needs and expectations of the family. There’s a huge difference between a parent looking for an extra set of hands to help with driving, activities, and meals and a working parent who needs someone to be the child’s primary caregiver. A take-charge, independent, problem-solving nanny with sole-charge experience isn’t going to thrive as a helper. In the same way, a nanny without the confidence to make decisions on his or her own and proactively foresee situations isn’t the best choice for a family where the parents are gone most of the day. 

Q: Once the hiring process is done, what other support do clients typically need?

A: It depends upon the family. Clients will often come to us for help with communicating with their new employee, especially during the transition process while the employee settles in. We always encourage regular, open and honest communication between both parties. On occasion, we will go into the home as a “manager” and help iron out any small issues that may exist. A relationship between a family and their household employees needs to be nurtured and carefully built, as this is a private home, where discretion is of utmost importance. We encourage clear communication and a weekly sit-down between a family and staff.

Q: If a match doesn’t work out, what is your advice for handling a potential change (or parting ways)?

A: We suggest that each party be gentle but honest about their feelings. The parting should be done with kindness and care so that everyone involved understands that it isn’t a personal attack, just a relationship that has outlived its potential. When hiring staff, you are creating a business in your home. I have seen people distraught if something isn’t working out because they don’t want to offend someone, they don’t want to hurt their feelings.

In certain situations, we’ll go into the residence and let the candidate go so that we can assure it’s done with delicacy. Every situation is very different. We’ve learned it’s best to never point fingers and to make everyone feel good. We directly address and try to resolve any problems, serious or minor, that are brought to our attention, and to support the client or candidate. The ending of a professional relationship can be emotional, particularly if it involves an intimate household setting, so we work to minimize any potential animosity a much as possible.

Q: Is there a difference between a nanny and a career nanny?

A: Most definitely. A typical nanny is different from a career nanny in that they often have a lot of experience with families, but no background or education in child development. Other nanny candidates are great with children and may have teaching degrees or other formal education, but limited in-home experience (typically part-time babysitting work).

A career nanny is someone who has chosen childcare as his or her profession. Most often, these candidates have formal education in child development and/or psychology. This can include a college degree in education or or training from previous jobs. Career nannies also have an employment history of long-term placements in private homes, understand the dynmics of working in a home environment and are great with children. A career nanny knows how to anticipate needs, respect a family’s privacy and space, and handle the logistics of high-end homes. Being in a home is very different than working in a school or daycare; there is no way to prepare or train someone for it, it’s something you learn and understand only after having experienced it.

Q: How have staffing agencies changed over the years?

A: Historically, many agencies have been run by only one or two people. Today, the amount of work it takes to verify backgrounds, interview candidates, and create and nurture relationships is impossible with such a small team. This is a time-intensive business, which is why a larger team with modernized and strict processes is essential.

 

http://goop.com/work/parenthood/how-a-staffing-agency-can-help/


How Prince William and Kate Middleton Plan to Break With Tradition in Their Parenting

00-lede-kate-prince-william.jpg

Vogue article by Michelle Ruiz

One day after Prince Harry opened up about his struggles following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, Prince William is also speaking out, vowing that the next generation of royals will be open and honest about their emotions and won’t live by the traditional British stoicism. “There may be a time and a place for the ‘stiff upper lip,’ but not at the expense of your health,” he says in a new interview with CALMzine, the publication for British mental health organization CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).

In this case, the effort will start at home, Prince William says, with his children, Prince George, 3, and Princess Charlotte, 1. “Catherine and I are clear that we want both George and Charlotte to grow up feeling able to talk about their emotions and feelings,” he said, offering a rare glimpse into the royal couple’s parenting style. “Over the past year we have visited a number of schools together where we have been amazed listening to children talk about some quite difficult subjects in a really clear and emotionally articulate way—something most adults would struggle with.”

This philosophy is a sharp departure from the royal family’s now legendary aversion to showing emotion—a tradition for which his own grandmother may very well be the best example. And while William doesn’t mention her or his own upbringing, he does nod to the antiquated British way of thinking in the new interview. “For too long there has been a taboo about talking about some important issues. If you were anxious, it’s because you were weak. If you couldn’t cope with whatever life threw at you, it’s because you were failing,” he said. “Successful, strong people don’t suffer like that, do they? But of course—we all do. It’s just that few of us speak about it.”

Prince William, who, along with Prince Harry and Kate Middleton (or, “Catherine,” as the royals—and only the royals?—call her), is an ambassador for the British mental health charity Heads Together, also spoke about the importance of mental health awareness in a FaceTime chat with Lady Gaga released today (she from her Los Angeles kitchen and he from his study at Kensington Palace, though he promised they would get together in the U.K. soon). He reportedly reached out after Gaga’s open letter about suffering from PTSD after being sexually assaulted at 19 years old.

“It’s time that everyone speaks up,” Prince William told her. And that’s what you call leading by example.


The Tasty, Time-saving Benefits of Hiring a Personal Chef

walter-peak-gourmet-bbq-42804.jpg

article from Sheknows by Ashlee and Sean McCusker

photo by Real Journeys

Why You Need a Personal Chef

Do you find yourself going to the grocery store and feeling overwhelmed by everything that is on the shelves? With the hectic schedules that we all lead today it can feel like a chore to provide a good home-cooked meal for your family. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone working in your kitchen, providing delicious – and time-saving – family-friendly meals? Look no further: A personal chef is the stress-free answer to your family’s grocery shopping and cooking needs.

A Personal Chef is Not a Luxury

A personal chef service provides stress-free meals prepared to your specifications in your home. Your kitchen is left spotless with a refrigerator full of delicious meals. Having your own personal chef is not a luxury reserved for the rich. A personal chef service can cost you less than eating out at a moderately priced restaurant. Using a personal chef service can free up 10 to 12 hours of your time every week. Personal chefs are responsible for handling all the menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking, packaging and kitchen cleanup! All you have to do is come home, reheat your food, and you're good to go.

Benefits of a Personal Chef Service

Clients who hire a personal chef generally don't have the time or ability to cook for themselves but have the resources to hire someone else to do it for them. Some clients are too busy with their work or family while others may just want to free up time so they can do the things they enjoy more than grocery shopping and cooking in the kitchen. Other clients might simply be tired of restaurant or take-out food and some may not know how to cook and have no desire to learn. Why a personal chef?

Services That a Personal Chef Service Can Offer:

  • Customize menus specifically for you and your family
  • Do all the grocery shopping
  • Buy only the freshest ingredients available
  • Make delicious healthy meals that you will look forward to eating
  • Take into account any dietary restrictions
  • Cook meals that are always preservative-free
  • Package all materials conveniently
  • Label meals for easy thawing and reheating
  • Leave your kitchen sparkling clean

3 Tips for Picking the Right Personal Chef

Each personal chef will bring something different to your table. Here are a few tips to help you decide which personal chef is right for your family.

1. Interview before hiring. When deciding upon which personal chef to hire, it is important to go with one that shares the same values for you and your family. Before agreeing to personal chef services, ascertain the backgrounds of your potential personal chefs. Find out what drew them to become chefs in the first place.

2. Verify liability insurance. An important consideration is to make sure that the chef in question has liability insurance as well as a food-handlers card. Also follow up on references, and ask for a sample menu to determine if the service will be a good fit for your needs.

3. Value involvement in professional chef organizations. Ask your prospective chefs if they are members of any professional organizations. The ones that are demonstrate not only that they are committed to a strong culinary standard and continuing education, but also that they are aware of the latest trends in the culinary world.


How Eleven Madison Park Became the ‘Best’ Restaurant in the World

11MP.jpg

article by Alan Sytsma of Grub Street

photo by Melissa Hom

In 2012, a New Yorker profile laid out the ways in which Daniel Humm and Will Guidara were changing Eleven Madison Park — the restaurant they’d bought from their previous employer Danny Meyer the year before — to help its performance on the annual World’s 50 Best Restaurants ranking. That year, they were 10th — a jump from 24th the year before — and in the time since then, as EMP’s place on the list has steadily risen, they’ve made no secret about their goal to ultimately land the top spot. Today, that happened, when the restaurant was crowned No. 1 at a ceremony in Australia.

Critics can point to flaws with the list itself (such as its continued lack of meaningful female representation), but it is nevertheless very well-established that placement on the list has a tremendous impact on business, and each year’s release is closely followed by the industry. Even people with a casual interest in restaurants will refer to the list’s winner as the “best” restaurant, even though it’s also well-established that, as an actual objective measure of restaurant quality, the list is sort of silly.

It is a list of expensive, world-class restaurants — all of which offer exemplary dining experiences — voted on by chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, and “well-travelled gourmets.” As the official manifesto reads, “There is no pre-determined check-list of criteria,” and voters are free to select whichever spots they prefer. As such, the list is a useful guide to eating $800 dinners, sure, but it’s best read as a look into chefs’ standing, and reputations, among their peers.

In other words, the restaurants that have regularly occupied the list’s top spot in the past — ElBulliNoma, or Osteria Francescana most recently — are the restaurants that the industry is most proud of. Humm and Guidara, who host and attend many industry parties and conferences, are extremely respected and well-liked; voters clearly think that holding them up on a pedestal will be good for the world of fine dining as a whole. And EMP’s co-owners are first-rate ambassadors for the world of hyperexclusive dining: Their restaurant is a modern interpretation of the classic big-city dining temple, proof that “fancy” restaurants, even ones like EMP that are firmly rooted in the European dining tradition, can still feel vital and forward-thinking.

Interestingly, the news comes just as the restaurant is set to close for the summer to renovate and overhaul the menu. The timing may seem somewhat inopportune, but it highlights the way chefs constantly rework their restaurants to stay atop these kinds of international restaurant rankings, where stagnation will cause voters to look elsewhere. Yet, in many ways, the new version of EMP sounds like it will be a natural evolution of the restaurant as it is now.

The current iteration of Eleven Madison Park is just about a decade old. Though the restaurant opened in 1998, Humm took over as chef in 2006. (He and Guidara bought the restaurant from Meyer in 2011.) In an interview with the Times, the partners explained that in addition to updating the kitchen, the dining room will get an overhaul — it will be more comfortable, which makes sense, because comfort is the restaurant’s defining feature. 

ElBulli was a showcase for Ferran Adrià’s fearlessly modern technique and open hostility toward the established pace of a meal at a Michelin-caliber restaurant. Noma, meanwhile, grew to epitomize trends like foraging, traditional preservation techniques, and steadfast commitment to local ingredients. (Not to mention all the earthenware plates you see in every single dining room.) EMP, on the other hand, offers a menu that in many ways is a throwback to traditional luxury ingredients and classic European techniques — a signature dish of Humm’s is celery root or asparagus that’s braised in pig’s bladder and served with black truffle; another dish, “eggs Benedict,” is essentially a caviar course served with homemade English muffins — and sets itself apart with unparalleled warmth and familiarity. Dinner at Eleven Madison Park isn’t about boundary-pushing or avant-garde food; it’s an exercise in opulence and pampering.

That m.o. clearly resonates right now with voters, and with today’s announcement, Humm and Guidara are now the faces of fine dining around the world (just as Redzepi has been for the past decade, and Adrià was before that). The accomplishment is a testament to their talent and determination, of course, as much as it is an indication of the prevailing trends at the highest end of the restaurant world. And just as Adrià’s modernist cooking and Redzepi’s New Nordic aesthetic inspired scores of other chefs, the EMP team’s embrace of unpretentiousness (relatively speaking) and unmatched graciousness should continue to influence other restaurants around the world for many years.


How ‘Downton Abbey’ Fueled China’s Demand for Butlers

14CHINABUTLER-2-master675.jpg

article from New York Times by Chris Buckley and Karoline Kan

photo by Gilles Sabrié

CHENGDU, China — Mao once said that a revolution was not a dinner party. But with the communist revolution turning into opulent capitalism, China’s rich are now making sure the dinner party settings are immaculate and the wine is poured just right.

Inspired in part by the “Downton Abbey” television drama, the country’s once raw and raucous tycoons are aspiring to old-school decorum, fueling demand for the services of homegrown butlers trained in the ways of a British manor.

“What they would like to say to their friends is, ‘Look, I have a butler, an English-style butler in my home,’ to show how wealthy they are,” said Neal Yeh, a Chinese-born Briton living in Beijing, who for over a decade has helped train and find jobs for butlers.

“The country now with the biggest trend in butlers is China,” said Mr. Yeh, whose English accent would be at home on “Downton Abbey,” the television series about a blue blood family in England, which was avidly watched in China. “I dare say I have played a part in starting this trend.”

Butler training schools and agencies have been doing business in China for more than a decade, but the number of recruits has grown sharply in recent years, according to those in the business. Most are Chinese and many are women. The International Butler Academy China opened in 2014 here in Chengdu, a haze-covered city in southwest China, and offers a six-week boot camp on dinner service, managing homes and other minutiae of high living.

“The Chinese are vacationing more now than ever in history, and so they’re being exposed to the West more and more,” said Christopher Noble, an American trainer at the academy who previously ran bars in Cleveland. “But Chinese people see that, experience top-class personal service abroad, and they want to experience it here.”

A boom in butler service might seem incongruous as President Xi Jinping campaigns zealously against corruption and extravagance, and an economic slowdown undercuts lavish spending. But China’s rich continue amassing ever greater fortunes and want what they see as the trappings of respectable refinement. Even under Mr. Xi, butlers are finding growing work as symbols of good taste, according to people in the business.

“You read about an economic slowdown, but China’s wealth is still growing,” said Luo Jinhuan, who has worked as a butler in Shanghai and, most recently, Beijing, after learning the job in Holland. “Old money has passed from one generation to the next. But the new money doesn’t have the same quality. You need to help them improve.”

If butlers symbolize maturing Chinese capitalism, the somewhat awkward status they have here also reflects how the rich in China must play by different rules than the wealthy in many other countries.

It often comes down to a lack of trust. Wealth in China, where a cutthroat business culture is pervasive, comes with insecurity about being brought low by resentful employees, rivals, and officials, especially with the continuing crackdown against corruption. That wariness discourages many millionaires from hiring their own Jeeves to run their homes, people in the business said.

“Some of them discover that in reality they can’t trust an outsider to manage the household,” said Tang Yang, a marketing director at the butler academy. “They’re unwilling to have a butler who knows all the information about the family.”

Relatively few graduates of the academy end up as traditional household butlers. Instead, many work in high-end clubs, housing estates and executive floors, serving several clients at the same time — not with the same intimacy as a personal butler.

Promoters of butlers in China often point out that the country has its own tradition of high-end service, and the classical Chinese novel, “Dream of the Red Chamber,” features traditional butlers, called “guanjia,” or “domestic manager,” in Mandarin. But “Downton Abbey” helped rekindle a new romanticized interest in old-school service in China.

Many student butlers here said they had watched and rewatched the show as an instruction video on the self-effacing unflappability of domestic service.

“I only began to grasp this profession of butlers after watching ‘Downton Abbey,’” said Xu Shitao, a 34-year-old Beijing native studying at the Chengdu academy. “I think that in the future this profession will be quite popular and will have a market.”

But Ms. Xu and her classmates have found that, in reality, being a butler is strenuous work.

On a recent morning, they practiced for hours, learning to serve wine and water the proper way. Again and again, the class of eight clasped a wine bottle near its bottom and stepped forward in unison around a dinner table to dispense just enough wine to reach the widest part of a wine glass.

Not a drop was to splash the tablecloth or, heaven forbid, a guest.

“Stretch, pour, up, twist, back, wipe. Try to extend your arm,” Mr. Noble commanded, using his ever-present translator. “You want to be able to extend your arm as much as possible. You’re doing a ballet.”

Students also take classes on serving formal dinners, packing luggage, cleaning house and countless other details of managing life for the rich.

“You have to get the details right to do your job right,” said Yang Linjun, a 22-year-old student in the class. “Your arms get sore and your hands hurt, but this is a lifestyle.”

After they graduate, many hope to attach themselves to China’s growing number of superrich. In return, they may earn monthly wages of $2,800 or much higher as personal butlers, depending on experience and luck — more than for many service jobs.

By 2015, China had 400 billionaires and billionaire families, an increase of 65 from just a year earlier, according to Forbes’ annual list. The country’s richest 1 percent own about one-third of household wealth, a share similar to the concentration of wealth in America.

Manners can be rough in China, sometimes in a warm way, sometimes less so. But that has been changing as people grow richer, travel and live abroad, and bring back a demand for polished, attentive service.

“A decade ago, very few Chinese people stayed in five-star hotels,” said Yang Kaojun, a property manager with the Summit Group, which employs teams of trained butlers who are at the beck and call of residents. “But now many people have, and that’s given them some understanding of what good service is.”

As well as the Chengdu academy, the Sanda University, a private college in Shanghai, has incorporated butler training into its hospitality program. Many Chinese also learn how to be butlers in Europe. And Sara Vestin Rahmani, the founder of the Bespoke Bureau, a British company that finds domestic staff members for wealthy employers, said her company planned to open a school for butlers and domestic staff people in China this year.

The number of butlers in China is hard to determine. There may be hundreds or thousands, especially in Beijing, Shanghai and the prosperous south. Ms. Rahmani said that in 2007 her company found positions in China for 20 butlers; by 2015 that number had grown to 375, including 125 with families. Others reported similar growth.

“We are in actual fact exporting to China a trade which was once their own,” Ms. Rahmani said. “With communism, everything that was refined, unique and upper-class became a distant memory.”

But Chinese employers often treat butlers as expensive all-purpose flunkies who should be on call 24 hours a day. That violated the traditional idea of a butler as a respected manager of the household and above most menial tasks. Ms. Luo, the butler, said her work was far more hectic than she imagined. Her daily routine included overseeing the sauna, cinema, bowling alley and other rooms in a 32,000-square-foot home.

“I feel that when work starts, there’s no time at all to stop and rest,” she said. “It’s a lot harder than working in a hotel.”

The pressure is compounded by employers’ fears that household servants could exploit sensitive information. Butlers are supposed to have a deep knowledge of their employers’ every foible, traditionally recorded in a book. But the worry that information could be used to rob, extort or prosecute them has discouraged many rich people from taking butlers into their confidence.

“Many of our wealthy are the first generation to be rich, and they don’t have a long accumulation of family history,” said Mr. Yang, the student at the butler academy in Chengdu, who works for a real estate company. “You need trust and a long period of adjustment to have another person suddenly by your side.”


Bringing Down Bébé: How One Mother Mistakenly Hoped a Year in Paris Would Transform Her Sons

img-holdingbringingupbebe_124215593517.jpg

article by Danzy Senna for Vogue

photo by Steven Simko

 

Inspired by a spate of books extolling the French way, Danzy Senna hoped a year in Paris would transform her all-American sons into model citizens. Au contraire.

One afternoon, a few weeks after we arrived in Paris, I took my sons to a playdate at the home of two French boys who lived in the neighborhood. Their mother, Christine, was like a poster girl for all I’d heard about Frenchwomen: Tall, thin, and effortlessly stylish, she was raising two sons while managing a career as a lawyer. She welcomed us into her pristine Saint-Germain apartment. My younger son, Miles, age four, raced past her down the hall in search of toys. My older son, Henry, age six, hid behind me, muttering hello only after I’d prompted him. She led me to the dining room, where I found an unfamiliar spectacle: her two sons, the same ages as mine, quietly curled over the table with pens and paper. They were dressed like miniature businessmen, with haircuts to match. The younger one appeared to be drawing a picture. Fine; my kids did that too. But the other one, the six-year-old, was intently writing down a row of math problems in one column and their answers in the other.

“Homework?” I asked Christine.

“No,” she said with a light laugh. “He just enjoys math.”

Her sons rose at the sight of me and, unbidden, held out their outstretched hands to shake. They said their bonjours before lifting their faces so that we could kiss on each cheek. Then Christine told her sons to go play, and they marched off, obediently, to join mine. When she disappeared into the kitchen, I peeked at the page of math problems, perversely pleased to see that many of the boy’s answers were wrong. Christine returned with tea and a plate of brightly colored macarons. We sat together, chatting, and I found myself relaxing. This was just as I’d imagined my life in Paris—me enjoying adult time while my children played independently. I’d imagined civility as something that people, even raucous American children like mine, could catch, like a bug.

The official reason we were in Paris was that my husband had a sabbatical from his university professorship in L.A. We’d decided to uproot the family for the year to give the boys a cross-cultural adventure. We wanted them to grow up worldly and bilingual. And for me, it was more than that. I was not sure I liked the overly precious culture in which I was raising them. In preparation, I felt I had to read Pamela Druckerman’s playground sensation Bringing Up Bébé. I was horrified to see myself in the book’s descriptions of the overindulgent American parent. My kids represented everything that was wrong with our country. They made too much noise in restaurants. They were picky eaters, to the point where I often cooked them two separate meals at night. Their toys lay scattered all around the house, as if to mark the territory they’d won. My husband and I had not had a conversation that didn’t revolve around them in years. I was forever sleep deprived. And long after giving birth I still looked, well, a little bit pregnant. Once, in a yoga class, the teacher asked me if I was expecting. “Actually,” I lied, “I just gave birth.” She congratulated me, and I waited until she was out of earshot to add, “Four years ago.”

Druckerman wasn’t alone in extolling the virtues of the French. In the same way that Julia Child once introduced American women to the exquisiteness of French cuisine, an entire cottage industry has grown around the idea that when it comes to living, Frenchwomen do it better. Consider French Kids Eat Everything; Forever Chic: Frenchwomen’s Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style and Substance;or the upcoming French Women Don’t Get Facelifts, by Mireille Guiliano, of the original French Women Don’t Get Fat. The list goes on. We’ve always admired their fashion; now it seems they’ve become standard-bearers for every facet of our existence. In contrast to our American child-ruled ways, French mothers apparently practice some elegant form of detachment parenting, which is why they look so much better than we do, and also why their kids are so much better behaved.

At home in L.A., my husband and I were at least aware of the problem. Whenever our sons complained that they were bored, my husband would reply, “This isn’t a cruise ship, it’s your childhood.” But the world outside our door sometimes seemed to be arguing otherwise. One mother I knew admitted she’d taken to asking her ten-year-old daughter on occasion: “How do you think your childhood is going so far? Pretty good?”

I’d always been susceptible to parenting manuals. When the boys were small, I read a book on attachment parenting that convinced me I’d already done them deep psychic harm. I’d failed to give birth to them in a bathtub. I’d failed to wear them strapped to my body all day in a sling while I cleaned and cooked and tended crops in the field. I’d failed to nurse them until they told me it was OK to stop. As a result, I learned they were doomed to be obese, anxious, and somewhat dim.

It was in some ways refreshing to read Bringing Up Bébé—except that it turns out I’d messed up my kids by being too attached. Frenchwomen didn’t believe that hoo-hah about “you’re only as happy as your saddest child.” Frenchwomen nursed for only as long as they felt like it. Frenchwomen didn’t feel the need to follow their toddlers around the park in earth shoes, interpreting their experiences for them. But, according to the book, it wasn’t too late. I could still turn this cruise ship around. And here we were, in Paris, determined to make our kids tough, gritty, independent, and exceedingly polite in two languages. They were going to attend the local public school, where they could put the French they’d been practicing to good use. International schools, I’d been told by the admissions director of a French lycée in Los Angeles, were for wimpy Americans who wanted to just have “a nice year.” We didn’t want a nice year. We wanted a French year.

I nibbled Christine’s macarons and asked her the question posed to Frenchwomen through the ages: How do you do it? I swept my hand around her apartment. Taking my question literally, she explained that she had it all down to a system. She saw the kids on Monday evenings, Thursday afternoons, and then Saturday mornings were reserved for their grandparents, and then. . . .

From the back of the apartment came a loud crash, followed by a scream. The dreamscape was shattered. I rose and followed Christine toward the commotion, trying to think of a way to explain my children. I’d tell her there was something wrong with them, that they’d been officially diagnosed with a mental disorder—something vague but clinical-sounding, like oppositional defiance disorder—and then I’d get us the hell out of there.

But when we reached the back of the apartment, we found her older son straddling his younger brother on the floor, clutching his neck tightly, while the smaller one flailed around beneath him, his face turning scarlet. My two sons stood at the sidelines, each clutching a toy car, watching with mouths slightly open.

“Ça suffit!” Christine shouted, leaning down to pull the one brother off the other. She slapped the older one swiftly several times on his bottom and then helped the younger one to his feet, berating them both in a tone I have yet to master.
If I was looking to the Old World for help with parenting, it was probably because I had no cultural tradition to draw from in my own background. The only tradition in my family, going back on both sides for generations, was to break with tradition. One of my grandmothers was an Irish playwright from Dublin; the other grandmother was an African-American jazz musician from the Deep South; one grandfather was a blue-blood Harvard law professor turned civil rights activist; the other grandfather was a professional lightweight boxer from Nuevo León, Mexico.

I was raised in 1970s cultural chaos. Dinner was tacos one night, spaghetti the next. My mother’s idea of discipline was to occasionally throw shoes at us while shrieking, “I can’t take this anymore!” Other times she just laughed at our misbehavior like an older teenage sister. Once, when I was eight or nine, she told me her theory that everyone had two ages, an actual age and a spiritual age. “For example,” she said, “I’m always going to feel seventeen.” She glanced at me through cigarette smoke. “And you’re always going to feel 40.”

I once saw a sculpture by the artist Charles Ray that seemed to sum up the American family as I’d known it: four naked mannequins—a mother, a father, a young boy, and a toddler girl—standing in a row, holding hands. They appear at first glance to be your average nuclear family, but the artist has slightly enlarged the children and shrunk the parents so that they all stand at equal height. It unsettled me because it spoke so clearly of a land where children were treated as adults and parents acted like children.

Before I knew it, the French school year had begun. From the outside, the boys’ école looked like a huge fortress, the playground a crush of screaming children—kind of like the public schools I’d attended as a kid. The class sizes seemed alarmingly large. I had to remind myself of our mantra—childhood is not a cruise ship—when I left the boys there behind the gates that first day.

At pickup, I leaned down to ask Henry how his first day of school had gone. He told me, his mouth smeared with pain au chocolat, “Weird; I feel like I don’t exist. How many days before we go back to L.A.?”

When I looked for Miles inside the maternelle, I found him sitting in a corral with the other four-year-olds. He looked calm enough, but he was wearing a purple jacket I didn’t recognize with a name tag that read mohammed. I tried to tell his teacher that there had been a mistake, but the elderly M. Rousseau just nodded and said, “Oui, oui.”

I tried to laugh the misunderstanding off, but by the second week it didn’t matter, because Miles had changed his name anyway. He was insistent that everybody call him Oui and he would throw a fit if we dared call him otherwise. He also began to speak in a drunken slur that made him hard to understand. It took me a few days to realize he was trying to sound as if he had a French accent.

When I went to a school official and told her my concerns about the kids’ adjustment, she assured me they’d be fine. “You pay too much attention to them,” she told me. “Keep yourself busy with other things. Enjoy Paris!”

And so, I tried to put away my worries about Henry, a previously sunny, popular child who now played with his hands constantly, making conversations between them. After writing at home in the mornings, I wandered Paris during the days, searching for the city I’d read about in books. I discovered a farmers’ market near our house like nothing I’d ever seen before. And I admit I did forget the children’s woes as I perused the exquisite displays of cheese, the glistening fish, the beautifully arranged fruits. Once, on my way home, I bumped into a neighbor, a Parisian mother of two. I asked her if she, too, shopped at the farmers’ market, holding up my bags proudly.

“Never,” she said, clucking her tongue. “That’s for American tourists. Tomorrow I’ll show you where real French mothers do their shopping.”

The next day she led me to a store called Picard. The logo on the sign out front was a giant blue snowflake. Inside, it looked a little like a morgue—a bare white space filled with rows upon rows of freezer chests. I followed her through the aisles, peering at the boxes and bags of frozen food. The French had found a way to freeze everything: escargot, foie gras, stuffed salmon, tiramisu. Pumpkin soup came in a bag of frozen blocks you just melted in a pan. “Is this what you feed your children?” I asked, thinking of the pressure back home to buy only fresh, local, and organic.

“Every night,” she said, laughing at my expression. “Oh, you didn’t know? This is the little secret of Parisian mothers. We don’t cook. Who has the time? At night I put Picard in the microwave, and dinner is ready in five minutes. Voilà!”
Everywhere I went in Paris, I saw beauty, history, nattily dressed children, and fantasies of America, from the movie posters in the Métro to the names of the French clothing labels—American Vintage, American Retro. It was as if, at this moment of identity crisis, with France’s economic future somewhat uncertain, the country had finally come to appreciate our pioneering spirit. I noticed that the French remained, however, stubbornly attached to quality and tradition, and as I walked the streets, it was impossible not to be impressed by the cut of a silk scarf or the elaborate window display of our local pastry shop. At the boys’ school, it was true that there was a lot more rote memorization than they were used to, but I was glad that Henry was learning to handwrite in the most beautiful cursive, a far cry from the iPads that had been dispensed to every kid in his L.A. kindergarten class.

Whatever Paris’s charms, the boys were deeply homesick. At night, in their twin beds, they whispered back and forth to each other all the things they missed the most about Los Angeles—horrible things, like the garish outdoor mall with the fountains that “danced” to pop tunes, or the Santa Monica Pier, where they’d both shrieked with terror on a ride before throwing up their cotton candy. They missed it all—especially their preschool, which I had affectionately called Kumbaya Academy, where, instead of their being corrected for any mistakes, every smear of paint or mindless utterance was met with “Great job!”

It was fall, and the U.S. presidential elections were in full swing. One evening, I found Henry standing in the living room watching CNN footage of a Mitt Romney campaign rally. He was chanting, “U-S-A! U-S-A!” I switched off the TV and sharply reminded him that we were Obama supporters—but even I could see that wasn’t the point. In bed beside my husband that night, I asked him to remind me what we were doing here with the kids. “Exposing them to another culture,” he said, trying to reassure us both. “They’ll adjust in no time. Remember? Kids are resilient.”

Everything crystallized the next weekend when my husband and I attended an American-fiction festival in Paris. There I met a French photographer who was doing a series on contemporary writers. Sixty-something, gray-haired, he asked me to lean against a wall while he fiddled with his camera. We chatted. I told him we were here for a year with our kids, that we’d put them in French public school. “We’re hoping they’ll pick up French,” I told him.

“Ah,” the man said, nodding. “My parents did that to me when I was seven. We moved here from Sweden, and they dropped me in a French public school without having any French. Because, as they say, kids are like sponges.”

I tried to laugh away my growing discomfort. “I guess it worked,” I said. “You sound French now.”

“Funny you should say that,” he said. “Fifty-five years later, I’m still trying to remember that year. According to my parents, I didn’t speak for the first six months after we got here—not a word. I was rendered completely mute by the shock of it.”

He hid his face behind the camera. “Now let’s start with one of you smiling.”
One Monday morning soon after, Miles pretended to be sick, and I pretended to believe him so he could stay home. As I was walking Henry to school, he tripped on the curb, fell, and skinned his knee. Though the cut was tiny, he began to weep like I’d never heard him weep before. I sat down beside him and held him in my arms, and a memory floated back to me from my own childhood. My father, in the late seventies, in the wake of his divorce from my mother, had sent my sister and me to a black-pride academy deep in the heart of Boston’s African-American neighborhood. The founder’s motto was to “instill racial pride while teaching.” During our time there, we performed in an all-black Christmas pageant called The Black Nativity, learned to sing the black national anthem, and were swatted with a switch by a dance teacher in an Erykah Badu–style head scarf when we forgot our steps.

My sister and I wept each time we were led up the steps into this new world where we were generally ostracized by the other kids. My father had the best of intentions—to make us proud of our black heritage in the midst of a predominantly white city—but in a haze of idealism and political ideology, he couldn’t see the more immediate reality of our daily misery. He inflicted this education on us like a bitter medicine. Someday we’d be proud to be black. Someday we’d reach the promised land of Negritude, and this would all make sense.

Henry sobbed in my arms over the cut on his knee that wasn’t really the problem. I held him and told him, “It’s lonely, isn’t it, being in that school? I’m so sorry. Let’s just stop. OK? Today we’ll go inside and say goodbye to your schoolmates and your teacher. We’ll thank them for having you. Then we’ll leave and we’ll never go back again. I’m finding you a school where people speak English.”

He looked confused for a moment. “Really?”

“Really.”

The following week I had both boys enrolled in bilingual international schools. We weren’t abandoning the language project altogether—half their day would be in French, half in English. But along with French children, there would be other Anglophone children like them.

The first day, I took Henry to his new classroom. We found a group of rowdy American and British boys crowded around a table building a Lego castle. They were neither self-contained nor well behaved. They were everything Bringing Up Bébé claimed French kids were not. I nudged my son to join them.

Afterward, I sat in a nearby Starbucks, drinking a soy chai latte, surrounded by brash Americans. I thought about all the parenting books I’d read over the years, with their shifting and contradictory advice on how to do right by one’s children. My husband and I were still just making it up as we went along. My kids would not go home bilingual, with scarves wrapped artfully around their necks, happy gourmands who greeted visitors with kisses to both cheeks. I wasn’t going home as a French mother, real or imagined. It was shameful to admit, but I was the happiest I’d been in weeks.


A Child’s Lifelong Self-Esteem Emerges Earlier Than We Thought

kids-pic.jpg

article from Huffpost

photo from Sleeptastic Solutions

Children may form a sense of their “overall goodness” by preschool.

 

Five-year-old children may only read and write at a basic level, but their sense of self is surprisingly sophisticated. A provocative new study suggests that by kindergarten, a child’s self-esteem is as strong as an adult’s.

The research, published in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, finds that most children have developed an overall positive sense of themselves by this age — and that sense of self remains relatively stable over their lifespan.

“Some rudimentary sense of children’s self-esteem appears to be already established by age 5,” Dr. Dario Cvencek, a research scientist at the University of Washington and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post. “That does not mean it can’t change with life experiences and maturation. We think self-esteem is malleable but we also think that it starts earlier than previously thought.”

The research overturns traditional psychological beliefs about the way self-esteem develops during childhood. Scientists previously thought that preschoolers were too young to have developed an overall positive or negative sense of themselves, according to Cvencek.

“Our new work,” he said, “shows that preschoolers do have a global, overall knowledge of their goodness as a person. It’s a first.”

In previous studies, psychologists relied on verbal self-evaluations to measure a child’s self-esteem, which may have provided unreliable data due to young children’s limited verbal abilities.

So for their study, Cvencek and his colleagues designed a new test, called the Preschool Implicit Association Test (PSIAT), to measure children’s positive feelings toward themselves. The researchers administered the test to 234 five-year-old boys and girls living in Washington state.

Similar to an implicit association test for adults — which asks participants to quickly associate words such as “self” and “pleasant” or “unpleasant” — the preschoolers were asked to associate objects.

The children were presented with several different varieties of flags, which they were taught to divide into two groups: “yours” and “not yours.” Then, the preschoolers completed a task in which they pressed buttons to indicate whether “good” words (fun, happy, good, nice) and “bad” words (bad, mad, mean, yucky) were more associated with “me” or “not-me.” 

The results of this and two other implicit association tests revealed that the children associated themselves more with good qualities than bad ones. 

“Previously we understood that preschoolers knew about some of their specific good features,” Dr. Anthony Greenwald, a psychologist at the University of Washington and one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. “We now understand that, in addition, they have a global, overall knowledge of their goodness as a person.”

The study also revealed that high self-esteem was correlated with strong gender identity and preference for members of their own gender, suggesting that a child’s self-esteem is connected to other formative parts of their personality.

Now that we know that self-esteem emerges early in life, how can parents and teachers foster the development of a healthy sense of self in a child?

The warm, supportive connections a child develops with others are probably the most important factor, according to Cvencek.

“Children who feel loved by others may internalize this to love themselves,” he said. “Our findings underscore the importance of the first five years as a foundation for life.”


The Surprising Effects of Listening to a Baby Cry

Baby-crying.jpg

photo from Getty Images

article by Jen Gann from The Cut for New York Magazine

Parents who’ve done any form of cry-it-out sleep training — or all parents, quite frankly — are only too familiar with what happens when their baby cries: It feels horrendous. It feels immediately alarming, as though every nerve ending is suddenly subject to an electrical fire. Yesterday, the New York Times took a good look at some of the science behind a baby’s cry — and our sometimes surprising reactions.

Seeing some of the crying facts laid bare is a little staggering. Normal infants, for example, cry about two hours every day. What the Times calls a “notorious human crybaby” will sometimes cry for two hours, every two hours. Crying, of course, is essential to survival: Infant mice stripped of the ability to cry are ignored by their mothers, and quickly die.

Indeed, we’re hardwired to respond to crying. Researchers have “found that within 49 thousandths of a second of a recorded cry being played, the periaqueductal gray — an area deep in the midbrain that has long been linked to urgent, do-or-die behaviors — had blazed to attention, twice as fast as it reacted to dozens of other audio clips tested.”

What to do with that reaction, when all your attempts to calm a crying baby are met with more crying? Personally, I always rolled my eyes a little at anyone’s claim that I would “learn to decode” my baby’s cries, that the cries would sound different depending on what he wanted (it seemed like most of the time, he didn’t know?). But according to a study summarized by the Times, Spanish researchers have been able to categorize three cry types: anger, fear, and pain.

With their arms and legs pinned to provoke anger, mad babies usually kept their eyes half-open, looking off to the side as they cried. Babies frightened by a loud noise, “after an initial hesitation and tensing up of the facial muscles, emitted an explosive cry and kept their eyes open and searching the whole time.” For babies given a shot, the cries were immediate, forceful, and conducted with shut eyes.

On a more uplifting note, the Times presents some possible evidence against so-called “mommy brain”:

--

In another study, volunteers were asked to play a lab version of the popular game Whac-a-Mole by pressing down on an ever-shifting target button as rapidly as possible. Subjects then listened to recordings of babies crying, adults crying or birds singing, and played the game again.

“We saw better scores and more effortful pressing after the infant cries,” Dr. Young said.

Why not try this out at home? Your angry, fearful, or pained baby is primed to give you lots of opportunities.

BAHS is planning upcoming events in this category. Details will be published here in the near future.

Please try selecting another category.

BAHS is planning upcoming events in this category. Details will be published here in the near future.

Please try selecting another category.

BAHS is planning upcoming events in this category. Details will be published here in the near future.

Please try selecting another category.

domestic staffing domestic staffing domestic staffing