Choosing the Right Child Care After Baby Number 2

Thanks to WhatToExpect.Com

Child care may not be on the long list of things you’re thinking about now that you’re pregnant with baby number 2 — after all, you nailed that down the first time around, right? But sometimes the option you chose back when your first child was born is no longer the best one for you. It all depends on your needs, your preferences and your budget.

And even if you decide not to change your approach, it’s always a good idea to have a conversation with your child care provider about your expectations when their responsibilities have increased after your second baby comes along. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you mull over your child care options.

DAY CARE CENTER

The cost: 

A day care center can be expensive. In fact, the annual average cost of day care for an infant is higher in many states than a year’s tuition at a four-year public college.

And while day care is generally less costly than a sitter, if you have two children enrolled, the savings are not as great. There are sometimes price breaks for siblings — find out if one is offered at the center you currently use or any you are considering — but they they tend to hover around just 10 percent.

In the beginning, expect to pay anywhere from just under $4,000 a year to just under $23,000 a year on your infant’s day care. Costs vary wildly depending on where you live and whether your day care is home- or center-based.

And remember that with two kids, the chances that one will be sick at any given time are relatively high, so you’ll need to plan for a reliable backup if you decide to go with day care.

Other things to consider:

Getting your infant and older child up, dressed, fed and out the door every day can be twice as crazy-making as it is with one. If baby number 1 is starting to age out of a day care facility and will need someone to take him or her back and forth to school soon, a nanny may be a better bet.

But don’t discount the benefits of built-in socialization and education that come along with day care centers. Some even offer a preschool curriculum, so your older child could stay at the same location once he or she is ready to learn the ABCs.

The bottom line:

Day care for two might not be the bargain that it was for one. But if you do your homework, you have a good shot at winding up with an option that's safe, dependable — and still cheaper than a full-time nanny.

HOME OR FAMILY DAY CARE

The cost:

Home-based day care is generally less expensive than a nanny or a child care center— around 25 percent cheaper than the latter, whether you have one kid or two. So if you're looking for ways to cut costs now that you have a pair of little ones, this might be a good option, particularly if the facility offers a sibling discount.

Other things to consider:

Many states don't require a family day care to be licensed unless it takes on a certain number of children, so background checks are crucial. Perform them on the owner and the owner’s employees just as you would with a sitter.

You'll also want to make sure the facility is safe and thoroughly child-proofed, and find out about its policy for those times when an employee is sick. Some don’t have the same kinds of reliable back-ups that day care centers do.

And you'll want to look into what kinds of activities and learning exercises the home child care you're considering provides. They're often not as extensive as what you’d find at a center, which may or may not work for you and your children.

The bottom line:

A family day care can offer a homey, personal setting for a lower cost than a day care center or a nanny — and with more flexibility when it comes to how many days a week you use it.

Just be sure to carefully investigate the home-based facilities you're considering and realize that they may not have as many bells and whistles as a center does. Read our tips on how to choose a day care center or home day care if you need more help.

NANNY

The cost:

This tends to be the most expensive child care option: A full-time nanny will cost on average $705 a week, or $36,660 a year, but it can be more or less depending on where you live, his or her level of experience and other factors.

The upside? The price per child drops by the time your nanny starts looking after two. Unlike a day care center, where the cost for two children can be twice what it is for one, you generally only pay a nanny a few dollars more per day to take care of a new baby in addition to your older child.

Other things to consider:

Whatever price you negotiate for your duo, you’re paying for convenience, flexibility and extra help with the kids (and even chores) that other child care arrangements don't provide.

A nanny can get an older child to school while caring for a younger one. And a nanny offers one-on-one (or in this case, one-on-two!) attention. Maybe yours will even be willing to do the laundry and some light housework while the kids are napping or in school.

Just keep in mind that nannies get sick and take vacations, too, so you’ll need a back-up plan. And you will, of course, want to perform due diligence: Get plenty of recommendations on all your candidates and check their backgrounds thoroughly.  

If it’s relevant to the age of your older child, make sure the sitter you hire or are thinking of hiring is as good at going over homework as he or she is at rocking the baby to sleep.

The bottom line:

If you already have a nanny taking care of one child, then you won’t have to pay much more to keep the same arrangement for both your kids — while still getting the perks you’ve come to depend on. The issue is ensuring that your nanny has the skills and energy to handle two little ones at different developmental stages. If you need more help, try some of these tips on how to find a nanny.

RELATIVE CARE  

The cost:

Usually, this one’s free! Whether you have one child or two, Grandma probably won’t be charging you anything to look after them. Beyond your undying gratitude, the only thing you might have to give her is a car seat for her car.

If you're lucky enough to have a relative nearby who’s willing and able to care for your kids for nothing, then cost isn’t really an issue unless you decide to offer a small weekly stipend, which some parents do. Regardless of the deal you work out, you’ll want to be clear from the start about pay (if any), hours and duties.

Other things to consider:

Before you ask your mom or mother-in-law to step in as a full-time sitter or step up her duties from caring for one to caring for two, ask yourself if she can really handle both children — especially if one is an energetic toddler who loves to run, climb and throw things into the toilet.  

Have a frank talk with any relative who currently watches your kids — or might call in the future —and don’t be shy about asking if she might see two as more of a burden than she bargained for. Still stumped? Tap into this guide to vetting relatives as sitters.

The bottom line:

The benefits of having a sitter you trust implicitly who charges nothing are obvious. But doing business with family can be fraught with challenges you may not anticipate, so keep the lines of communication open on both sides and realize that sometimes it’s best to make this a temporary solution.

A MIX-AND-MATCH CHILD CARE ARRANGEMENT

Many parents, especially those with more than one child, cobble together a few of these options — a part-time nanny plus day care a few days a week, for instance.  Maybe your mom or dad can look after the kids for half the week but would prefer not to do more than that. Or maybe your budget allows for a part-time nanny and day care to supplement the days he or she isn't working. Sometimes combining different options is a good way to save a little money on child care and get the best of both worlds.

Check to see how flexible your current provider is about part-time care and then figure out whether a mix of child care choices might work well once you're a mom of two.

SETTING EXPECTATIONS

No matter what kind of child care you settle on after baby number 2 comes along— the same as you used with your first child or something completely new — now is a good time to review those added responsibilities, revised expectations and issues that have cropped up with your current situation. 

Is your older child anxious about the new arrival? Let your day care director and teachers know. Perhaps you want your nanny to schedule fewer playdates in those first weeks that she’s bonding with the new baby and trying to pay attention to both kids. Maybe you're worried that you'll be so frazzled after a long day back at work that you’d love it if she could start dinner for you before you get home.

Having those discussions early on to address your needs and concerns will go a long way in helping prevent problems down the line. No matter what, you'll figure out the best child care solution for you and your two (!) little ones and with time and patience, you'll all adjust to and feel comfortable with whatever choices you make for your family.


The Difference Between a Nanny and a Babysitter: 5 Myths Explained

By Ashley Brooks

Nannies are just glorified babysitters, right? Wrong! Nannies are hard-working child care professionals, yet they’re subject to a long list of stereotypes from people who don’t understand what the job really entails.

So what’s the difference between a nanny and a babysitter? A nanny’s duties go well beyond making mac 'n' cheese and popping in the latest Disney DVD. Nannies do everything from planning educational activities to providing discipline when necessary, according to the International Nanny Association (INA).

Don’t get caught believing the stereotypes! We enlisted a few seasoned nannies who are ready to set the record straight. You just might want to pursue this fulfilling career once you’ve heard their side of the story!

5 myths every nanny wants to debunk

 

1. Nannies are just babysitters who work longer hours

Any nanny will tell you there’s a world of difference between their job and babysitting. A babysitter’s main task is to supervise a family’s children for a short period of time. Their job is over after microwaving frozen corndogs and playing a few rounds of Monopoly®.*

Nannies, on the other hand, are actively involved with the children they care for day in and day out. “They’re responsible for the emotional, physical and intellectual growth of the child,” says Helen Adeosun, veteran nanny and founder of CareAcademy.

A good nanny will be attentive to what’s happening in a child’s development and will make adjustments based on the child’s needs. A nanny’s day might include inventing a game to help a toddler work on her gross-motor skills, teaching a preschooler to identify letters, or noticing that a baby is showing signs of readiness to start solid foods.

2. People become nannies because they couldn’t find a “real job”

“Our job is not taken seriously and it isn’t viewed as important,” says Melissa Martz, a full-time nanny with 18 years of experience. Adeosun agrees that people are often quick to assume nannying isn’t a legitimate job. Yet nannies spend their days doing hard work with specialized knowledge, often earning the benefits to prove it.

Many full-time nannies receive similar benefits to traditional employees working for a company, according to the INA. In addition to a salary that adheres to the Fair Labor Standard Act, nannies can expect to receive paid holidays, sick days and vacation, as well as a portion of their health insurance premium covered. Some families may award their nannies bonuses and reimburse them for professional conferences or training as well.

3. Anyone can be a nanny

Some people think that no special skills or training are necessary to care for children all day. Those people have obviously never spent eight hours with a two-year-old. In reality, many nannies are highly educated childcare workers who deserve respect for their specialized knowledge.

The INA has identified five educational competencies for nannies, including skills related to children’s developmental and physical needs. They also note the importance of a nanny’s ability to interact professionally with the employing family.

“Ongoing professional development legitimizes a very important job,” says Adeosun. She found it shocking that teachers were expected to engage in ongoing education but nannies weren’t offered the same type of training. It was that realization that led her to launch CareAcademy.

Some of the skills and certifications parents look for in a nanny include:

  • CPR and first-aid certification
  • Early childhood education or other teaching degree/experience
  • Child nutrition training
  • Sign language
  • Water-safety certification
  • Professional nanny certification

4. Nannies watch cartoons with the kids all day

It might be OK for a babysitter to plop the kids on the couch for a movie marathon, but nannies know their work involves much more than that. “As a nanny, I’m invested in the child’s upbringing, development and well-being,” says Martz.

That’s why she makes an effort to enroll the kids in her care in various community activities, from library programs to swimming lessons. Martz also makes sure to introduce early childhood learning concepts through finger plays, reading books and asking open-ended questions. That’s a far cry from sitting on the couch!

“Being engaged in the community and in community programs is what helps raise a well-rounded child,” says Martz. By keeping the kids in her care involved in these types of activities, she’s making sure their physical, physiological and social needs are met—something you can’t achieve by watching Frozen for the 100th time.  

5. Nannies don’t work hard

A nanny’s work may not involve sitting at a desk in a big corporation, but they exert a lot of energy to provide the best care possible for their kids. “You're planning, monitoring and interacting in a very close way with the child in your care. It’s amazing and can be profoundly hard work,” says Adeosun.

Nannies don’t get to run on auto-pilot if they’re tired or having a bad day. Any nanny can tell you there’s never a dull moment when they’re on duty. “A nanny is a critical thinker, a problem solver and someone who’s very anticipatory,” says Adeosun.

Nannies are experienced, trained professionals who use their skills to do everything from cooking a nutritious meal to mediating fights between siblings. Lazy folks should steer clear of a position that encompasses this much work!

The career behind the myths

Now you’re well aware of the difference between a nanny and a babysitter. There’s no question that being a nanny takes a lot more work, but our experts agree that it also reaps a much bigger reward. 

Investing your energy into nurturing one group of children and watching them grow and develop can be extremely satisfying. You essentially become a member of the family, making it feel less like work and more like home.


6 Workouts You Can Do During Every Stage of Pregnancy

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By Jenny Jin

If you need any motivation to get moving while pregnant, perhaps it’s this: According to a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, exercising during pregnancy can help your body prepare for labor and recover more quickly after giving birth. Here, six workouts you can do throughout your pregnancy. (As always, just make sure to talk to your OB-GYN beforehand.)

PRENATAL YOGA

If you’ve never tried yoga before (or are still relatively new to it), find a trainer who can guide you through the moves and keep an eye on your form. This is especially important as your pregnancy progresses. By the second trimester, you should skip any positions that require you to lie flat on your back (it could place too much pressure on the vena cava, the main vein that carries blood to your baby) and avoid any moves that really challenge your balance.

BARRE CLASSES

The low-impact, controlled nature of barre classes (think small, repetitive movements rather than big bursts or bouncing around) make them perfect for expecting moms. You should be OK to continue your regular regimen through the first trimester, then ask your instructor for modifications for any moves that require you to lie on your back, twist from the waist up or balance precariously on the barre itself.

SPINNING

Major plus: It’s the only workout that has a built-in seat waiting to support you when needed. The bike’s handlebars can also help stabilize you as your belly grows. Just make sure to stay hydrated throughout the class, keep an eye on your breathing (you shouldn’t be panting or gasping) and avoid bouncing and sit-stand routines in your third trimester. Finally—and we can’t stress this enough—go at your own pace. You can stop whenever you need.

SWIMMING 

Exercising in the water gives you a full range of motion without putting any pressure on your joints. (Plus, it’s the rare moment during pregnancy where you feel light and practically weightless.) Always enter the pool slowly and stick to a stroke that feels most comfortable to you. The breaststroke is a popular pick because it doesn’t require you to rotate your torso or belly to do it.

RUNNING

Yes, it may get increasingly difficult as you grow, but it’s still possible to run throughout most of your pregnancy. Just be mindful of your speed and distance—even if you are a seasoned runner. You’re carrying a lot of extra weight, so that ten-minute mile that used to be a breeze might feel a tad too challenging. Listen to your body and settle into a light jog (or a fast walk) if needed. (Another tip: Plan your runs so you always have a bathroom within close proximity. The jostling of running can push down on your bladder.)

WEIGHT TRAINING

Using heavy weights—particularly in the third trimester—is probably a bad idea, but body weight workouts (like squats or wall push-ups) can help you maintain strength throughout your pregnancy. Might we suggest some low-weight, high-rep arm exercises (like bicep curls using five-pound dumbbells) to help you build strength to carry your tot?


What to Register for Your Baby

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By Joanna Goddard

One of the most frequent questions we get from readers is how to prepare for a new baby — especially what to register for. It can be overwhelming! (I remember bursting into tears on the way to dinner when I was pregnant with Toby.) So, today I’ve updated my original post from six years ago with every single thing (big and small) we got for our newborn babies. Congratulations to all new parents! I hope it’s helpful, and I’d love to hear your suggestions…

WHERE TO REGISTER

When I was pregnant with Toby, I used MyRegistry.com, since it lets you register from all different stores. That way, you can bring together exactly what you’d like, instead of being limited to one store’s selection. Amazon also offers a registry, and you can install its Universal Registry button to your browser so you can add items from any other site online.

BOOKS

* The Happiest Baby on the Block (both the book and DVD) about how to calm a crying baby. Dr. Karp’s tips work like MAGIC.
* The Nursing Mother’s Companion, an amazing guide to breastfeeding, which made everything much easier. (I mentioned this book in this breastfeeding post, as well).
* The SleepEasy Solution about naps and nighttime sleep. Practical, gentle advice about how to teach your baby to get the sleep he needs. A friend recommended this to us, and I’m so glad she did. It saved us when Toby was four months old and suddenly decided he hated napping.
* And if you’re expecting your second child: Siblings Without Rivalry. When Anton arrived, Toby was less than enthused. This brilliant book shared wise advice and funny cartoons to ‘help your children live together so you can live, too.’ The book changed the way I spoke to our children about each other and helped our boys kickstart their friendship.

NURSERY

Crib — We really like Walmart’s cribs. We got the Olivia for Toby, but they’re all nice. (Here’s Toby’s old nursery.) For Anton, we were given the Oeuf Elephant crib as a gift, which is splurgier but beautiful. (Here’s Anton’s old nursery.) IKEA cribs are also lovely and always highly recommended. (Here’s my friend Lena’s IKEA crib in action.)

Mattress — We chose this natural soybean mattress. Experts say it’s best and safest to get a firm mattress for the crib. Also, says Cup of Jo editor Lexi: We’ve loved having a dual-sided mattress, which is firm on one side for babies and softer on the other side for toddlers, so you can use it for many years. We also used a NaturePedic organic mattress pad, which is waterproof.

Crib sheets — We’ve found that it’s helpful to have a few different sheets, so you’re not always running to the washing machine. There are so many cute ones — like from Winter Water Factory, Burt’s Bees and Target.

Sound machine — Many babies love white noise since it makes them feel cozy, like they’re in the womb. We have this white noise machine, and it’s awesome (I love that it has two different volume settings; and doesn’t have wave/forest/rainstorm sounds, which I find distracting; it’s just plain white noise similar to a fan). We still all sleep with these in our bedrooms!

Baby monitor — With our first child, we were OBSESSED with our video monitor. We could see Toby on the little screen, so we knew if he was asleep or playing in his crib. As a nervous new mom, I also constantly checked to see if he was breathing! But when Anton came along, we didn’t need the video monitor. We were happy and comfortable with a simpler audio monitor. A great thing about this one is that you can put it on vibrate, so if you’re watching TV or have friends over, you will be sure to hear it.

Storage bins — We have a few sweet baskets like these for rounding up toys and extra blankets in babies’ rooms. 

Nightlight — If their bedroom is dark at night, you might like a night light, which is handy during late feedings and diaper changes.

Pacifiers — Many of our friends swear by pacifiers for their newborns, since it helps them soothe themselves and stay calm during naps and outings. Our boys didn’t like pacifiers (Anton is more of a thumb guy:), but it might make sense to try one and see what your baby thinks. Here’s an ultra natural one beloved by many friends; and these gently glow in the dark, which helps little ones easily spot them in the middle of the night.

TRAVEL AND GEAR

Infant car seat — Graco car seats are fantastic and very easy to use with young babies. (You can also get a frame to turn it into a stroller, which is great for everyday life, as well as traveling.)

Stroller — A stroller is a very personal choice, based on your town/lifestyle/budget/etc. We had two strollers for different reasons: First, the Graco stroller frame let us add wheels to the car seat, which turned it into a stroller. This was great when our boys were newborns, since they slept in it really well and we could take them on long walks/out to restaurants/etc.; and even when they were slightly bigger babies, we still used it when traveling (to easily transition between a stroller and a car seat).

For daily use, we love the Maclaren Triumph, which is for babies three months and older. It’s comfy, light and easy to fold (to stick in the trunk of a car). Toby happily rode in his for years, and now Anton has inherited it!

Stroller bag for winter — Bundle bags are AMAZING if you live in a place with cold winters. You can just pop your baby into one of these instead of having to dress him or her in giant jacket/pants/etc. A super cozy choice is the BundleMe stroller bag. (Another winter idea: I’ve spent the last six winters freezing my hands off while pushing strollers around New York City. But many friends SWEAR by these stroller hand muffs, which you just attach over handles. They’re a splurge, but so, so, so cozy and warm. Just a thought!)

Baby carrier — When they were smaller, I loved wearing Toby and Anton on walks around town. Using a carrier also let me have both hands free, and I could easily walk around crowded streets, grocery stores, etc. There are lots of great ones, but my favorites was the Ergo. Padded straps go over both shoulders and it sits on the hips, so the weight is distributed well; it’s comfy and cozy, and I carried the boys that way for years.

Travel crib — If you travel a lot, you might want to register for a travel crib. We did a bunch of research and, while there are cheaper options (Pack n’ Play, Phil & Ted), the crowd favorite BY FAR was the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light, so we decided on that and CANNOT SAY ENOUGH GOOD THINGS ABOUT IT. It packs up into a super light little suitcase for carrying through airports, etc., and it’s comfortable and amazingly easy to use. We’ve used it a million times.

DIAPERING

Daytime diapers — We used Honest diapers for the daytime, since they’re pure and chlorine free. Babies wear diapers 24/7 for years, so it was important to me that they be very pure and natural on their skin.

Nighttime diapers — When the boys were about five months old and started sleeping through the night (p.s. more on sleep here!), we got them Huggies Overnight Diapers. They’re so absorbent that the boys never woke up from a wet diaper, which was great for both them and us. smile

Diaper wipes — We like Honest wipes, since they’re natural and chlorine free.

Diaper pail — We got a Diaper Dekor to use as a diaper pail in the boys’ bedrooms; it worked well and kept the room smelling nice! It’s easy to use and, for us, was well worth the price (we would have had to buy a trash can for the room anyway), and I like that you can open it with your foot (versus your hand). Whether you need one of these might depend on what type of trash disposal you have (we can only take out our trash twice a week), and if you already have a good foot-pedal trash can. If you go this route you’ll need Diaper Dekor pail liners, too. 

Diaper cream — For diaper rash (which pops up now and again) or random irritation down there, we used the very gentle, all natural Honest cream, or A+D ointment.

Changing pad — We didn’t get a changing table, but instead just put this contoured changing pad on the top of a dresser. (We hooked it on with a strap and sticky pads for safety.) It worked well and also saved money. There are cute covers, too. A few of my friends with new babies swear by this changing pad, too. It doesn’t require sheets or pads and it’s easy to wipe down.

Cloth diapers — When the boys were babies, we used these for EVERYTHING and had one hanging over the arm of pretty much every chair in the house! Great for cleaning spit up, using as a burp cloth, shielding baby’s head from the sun when you’re walking around outside (they’re very light, thin and breathable). Also, you can wash and reuse them hundreds of times.

Diaper bag — I liked having a dedicated baby bag (when they were newborns, I carried diapers, wipes, a cloth diaper for burping, and a water bottle). The diaper bags in baby stores are fine but aren’t always that cute. I liked Moop’s market bag with Toby, and Storq’s backpack with Anton.

BATHS AND HEALTH

Saline spray — Pretty much all new babies have stuffy noses, and you can spray this fine mist (just salty water) into his or her nose to loosen up the mucus so he either sneezes it out or swallows it. We used it all the time. Great for when the baby has a cold, too. 

Nasal aspirator — Relatedly, a bulb syringe helps you remove snot from a baby’s nose. (P.S. Have you seen this?! I’ve never tried it, but people swear by it:)

Nail clippers — We got baby nail clippers for Toby, but for Anton, we just used our adult clippers and they worked fine!

Thermometer — We had a digital rectal thermometer on hand. (I heard a great tip: If you think your baby might have a fever, kiss his forehead to see if it feels warm; it’s an easier way to tell than using your hands.) You can also try a forehead thermometer, which lets a baby sleep through having their temperature taken. 

Baby acetaminophen — This medicine can be good to have in the house in case your baby gets a fever or is in pain for some reason. (FYI, our pediatrician said not to give a baby any medicine before he’s two months old, so you might check with yours.)

Bathtub — This simple moulded bathtub sits inside a regular bath and has two sides — one for a young infant and one for a older baby who can sit up. 

Towels — With our second child Anton, we just used regular adult towels, but with Toby, we had a duck hooded towel, which was so cute, it hurt. (Here’s Toby wearing it.)

Shampoo — We’ve always used Honest. But if your baby is prone to cradle cap or dry skin, friends swear by this gentle foam shampoo that somehow knocks out cradle cap within a few uses and makes baby hair even softer. (It also smells so good!) People call it a miracle product. Some parents I know are still using it every day on their kids who are five or even older.

BLANKETS

Swaddles — We LOVED swaddling!!! Both boys slept much, much better (and longer) when they were swaddled, since their wriggly arms didn’t startle them. We swaddled them for naps and nighttime until they were 3-4 months old. We tried a bunch of different kinds — velcro swaddles, the hospital blankets, Aden & Anais swaddling blankets… But our FAVORITE by far was the Miracle Blanket, which helped their little arms stay put (meaning: they didn’t bust out of it in the middle of the night). I would highly, highly recommend it; we loved it.

Blankets — People love giving blankets as gifts, so you might wait to buy these until right before your baby is born, since you’ll probably get them as a present. We used ours for floor time during the day, and also we put one in the diaper bag, so the boys could lie on a blanket if we went to the park. We also draped one over the stroller on sunny days. If you do buy blankets, I’d recommend the light and lovely Aden & Anais muslin blankets.

CLOTHES

Onesies — Both our boys have summer birthdays, so they didn’t wear many clothes as newborns — usually just a diaper or onesie. The tees and onesies from Gap, Gerber and Carters all fit well and are easy to snap.

Gentle laundry detergent — We like Honest Company detergent, which is easy on sensitive skin.

FEEDING

Of course, how and what to feed your child is a very personal decision, based on many factors. But here’s what we did, if it’s helpful!

A breast pump — We had the Ameda double pump, and I liked it. I didn’t have the easiest time pumping, and I wish there had been more options for pumps when I was a new mom. Do you have a pump you love? (P.S. Breast pumps look intimidating, but I was relieved to find that it didn’t hurt at all.)

Milk storage bags — You can keep your pumped breast milk in these bags and pop them into the fridge or freezer. Super easy to use!

Bottles — Babies seem to prefer certain bottles over others, so you may have to experiment to see what your baby likes. We liked BornFree bottles.

Breast pads — Your breasts might leak for the first few weeks/months (mine leaked like crazy!) so you can just pop these pads into your bra and they absorb the milk. Comfy and great. (FYI, I pretty much wore a nursing bra all the time — even to bed — along with these pads to absorb leaks.)

Nipple cream — To help soothe nipples when you’re first breastfeeding, try this cream. (Note: your baby can drink from your breast even if you have lanolin cream on your nipples; it’s natural and they don’t even notice it.)

Nursing bras — I liked the pretty lace ones by Elle MacPherson.

My Brest Friend Pillow — This initially seemed random and unnecessary to me, but I LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED this pillow, which made breastfeeding soooooo much more comfortable. The pillow supports your lower back and helps position the baby at chest-level, so your back and arms don’t ache. (I used it many times a day until Toby and Anton got big enough to sit on my knee during feeds, probably around 4 months.)

Formula — We did a mix of formula and breastfeeding when Toby and Anton were babies. I liked this one.

High chair — When Toby was born, our apartment was tiny, so we got a highchair that clipped onto a table and was super small to store. For Anton, we had a little more space and got the Stokke, which we still use and adore.

Teethers — Every baby I’ve ever met loves Sophie the Giraffe — my boys spent many happy hours gnawing away. smile


Celebrate Your Moment: How to Feel Like a Million Bucks at Your Baby Shower

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Courtesy of Happily Eva After

I’m a huge fan of celebrating pregnant women with all that we’ve got.  There’s nothing quite as powerful, as beautiful, or as magnificent as growing a new precious life inside of your body– but I think we pregnant women can often feel very vulnerable during our pregnancy journeys.  Whether it’s due to fears, hormonal anxiety, everyday aches and pains, or even feelings of insecurity or self-doubt– a woman’s pregnancy can ALSO herald a period during which time we go through a totally out of body experience.  During my first pregnancy, for example, I felt super strong physically, and in-tune emotionally with my pregnancy.  I did yoga and pilates, walked for miles a day, and was meditating and reading tons in preparation for my daughter’s birth.  This time around has been the opposite of that.  I’ve felt so out of touch in so many ways as I try desperately to balance my existing child, my relationships, my business, and my own needs.  Not to mention I’ve felt less than great about my body at times during this pregnancy.  I think most second-time Mamas out there can relate to this!

Our identities as women can sometimes get put on the back-burner as we are encouraged to give up our previous lives in order to pledge our bodies to our unborn babies.  But of course we are all more than just Mamas! I think it’s super important to make sure that you are being gentle with yourself emotionally, and celebrating the woman that you are during your pregnancy, in big ways or small.  A wonderful, personal Baby Shower is such a great way to do this.  Even just knowing that those close to you are taking time out of their busy schedules to celebrate you and the epic journey you are about to embark upon can be so soothing to those pre-birth jitters.  Take advantage of this special celebration! Make sure you are enjoying every minute and setting up your special day so that you can truly bask in the glory of it.  These moments pass us by so quickly.

Today I’m sharing my best tips and tricks to prepare for your baby shower and feel like a million bucks.  You deserve it, Mama!


Tips for Traveling With Kids from Parents Who’ve Been on the Road for 1 1/2 Years

By Susan Johnston Taylor for Today

If you think packing up the minivan for a weekend at grandma’s is overwhelming, try prepping for 1 1/2 years on the road. Jessica and Garrett Gee have been traveling with their two kids, Dorothy, 4, and Manilla, 2, since August 2015.

After Garrett sold Scan Inc., an app he co-founded, to Snapchat for $54 million in 2014, he and wife Jessica decided to invest their earnings, sell most of their worldly possessions and travel the world using the money they made — roughly $45,000 — from their giant garage sale.

The family chronicles their adventures on the Bucket List Family blog, as well as on Instagram and YouTube, including diving with seals in Australia, swimming with the pigs in the Bahamas and surfing in Fiji.

The Gees are also committed to philanthropic work. Inspired by prayer flags in Nepal, they designed “adventure bands” that can be used as a scarf, headband or armband, and sell them through their website to raise money to build a school in the landlocked Himalayan country in South Asia. The first batch of bands sold out within three hours, raising $10,000.

In addition to supporting charities, they take nominations from their community and surprise other families with travel experiences. “We’ll be surprising a family to join us in Bali, where we’re volunteering at an orphanage,” Garrett, 28, said. “It’s this community effort to pick a family and send them somewhere incredible.”

Here’s a look at what they’ve learned and how they’ve handled the logistics of long-term travel with kids.

1. Kids don’t need that much stuff.

Jessica, 30, says she made the mistake early in their travels of packing everything they might need, including a double stroller and extra clothes and towels. They’ve since pared down. The family still carries a small travel stroller that folds down and fits in the overhead compartment, but for most other things they’ll buy or rent it once they get there. They don’t travel with a car seat, because island destinations don’t involve much driving. When they fly to Europe and rent a car, they’ll also rent a car seat. “Everything else, like diapers, we buy those wherever we go because people have kids everywhere,” Garrett said.

2. You don’t need a fancy cellphone plan.

When the Gees first hit the road, they agreed to a tight travel budget. They decided to stick to living off the proceeds from their big garage sale, and not touch their savings or the money earned from the sale of Garrett's company. If they ran out of money, the couple would stop their journey. But they now make enough money as a traveling family, working with brands and companies through their social media accounts, to extend their travels.

One expense that had to go? International cellphone plans. Instead, the Gees use their iPhones when they have access to Wi-Fi. The couple say this budget cut has had an unexpected benefit: feeling more balanced and present with the family. “When we were out of the house, we didn't ever use our phones because they didn't work,” said Jessica. “So we would spend the majority of the day disconnected from phones and enjoying our family adventures, conversations, and you know, old-fashioned good stuff.” When they’re on Wi-Fi at a hotel or temporary rental, they stay in touch with friends and family members using Skype, Facetime or Google Hangouts.

3. Other countries have decent (and affordable) medical care.

The only recurring bill the Gees have is medical travel insurance in case someone gets sick or injured. They take care of routine doctor and dentist visits when they return to the U.S. at Christmastime, but both children have had emergency room visits for stitches on the road.

4. Kids are remarkably adaptable.

Garrett says their kids have enjoyed trying new foods and exploring new cultures. “One of my favorite things as a parent is to see this effect that traveling has had on our kids,” he said. “I think kids are just going to grow accustomed to their surroundings. If you let them be high maintenance, they’ll be high maintenance.”


Why Nannies Should Be Vaccinated

Why Nannies (Newborn Care Specialists and Baby Nurses) Should Be Vaccinated

Professional Child Care Providers Should Be Vaccinated

More and more parents and nanny agencies are requiring nanny candidates be vaccinated for the flu, whooping cough, and measles.

While some people may have allergies to specific vaccines and cannot get vaccinated, the Center of Disease Control (CDC) shows why child care providers should be vaccinated.

Even healthy people can get very sick from influenza (the flu) and spread it to others. The CDC lists that hundreds of thousands of Americans are hospitalized each flu season and that flu viruses circulate at higher levels in the U.S. population.

Each year, millions of children get sick with seasonal influenza; thousands of children are hospitalized and some children die from flu.

Children younger than 5 years and especially those younger than 2 years are at high risk of serious influenza complications. Newborns and infants are most at risk.

An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick with seasonal flu and spreading it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community and protect our newborns, infants and children.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but can be very serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old.

There are whooping cough vaccines for babies, children, preteens, teens, and adults.

The CDC urges all caregivers and family members that come in contact with a baby make sure they get a pertussis vaccine at least two weeks before meeting a baby.

Measles is a very contagious virus that is particularly dangerous in children under age 5. The disease can be spread to the fetus of pregnant women, threatening the fetus. It is easily spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Measles can easily be prevented by receiving the MMR vaccine.

In 2014 there were 667 cases of measles in 27 states and in just one month, 121 new cases of measles were reported in the United States. In February 2015 a total of 125 measles cases had been confirmed linked to two Disney theme parks in Orange County, California. The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated.

Vaccinations have been a polarizing subject because of a discredited report in the Lancet about 18-years ago. Some believe the MMR vaccine causes autism. This belief has been discredited by scientific study. Even those who authored the study have discredited their findings.

Therefore, the overwhelming majority of doctors and public health officials agree the vaccine is safe and recommend everyone who can be vaccinated with the MMR vaccine be vaccinated.

Clearly the vaccine works. The chart above shows that measles rates have plummeted after the introduction of the vaccine.

While many workers may be required to be vaccinated, the nanny industry is unregulated. So, it is a personal decision parents to require their nannies be vaccinated, or not.

Nannies, newborn care specialists and baby nurses may lose job opportunities if parents and agencies require their job candidates be vaccinated. So it’s in their best interest to be immunized.

Of course some people cannot get immunized due to allergies. Concerned nannies, newborn care specialists and baby nurses should discuss their worries about vaccines with their doctor. They can ask their doctor for a MMR Titer Test to see if they need the vaccine.

From bethebestnanny.com


12 Classroom Discipline Tricks That Will Work at Home

By Amy Morin for VeryWell.com

Imagine multiplying your child by 20. Then, you have to stay in a small confined space with all 21 kids. And, you have to teach those kids how to add and subtract and read and write.

Elementary school teachers manage to do all that every day, year after year. They keep order, manage behavior problems, and promote learning while somehow finding time to give each child individual attention.

Adopting some of the same discipline tricks elementary school teachers use could help improve your children’s behavior at home. Here are 12 classroom discipline strategies that work at home too.

1) Post a List of Written Rules

Many of the best elementary school teachers create posters that outline their classroom rules. Then, kids know their teacher expects them to, “Use an inside voice,” and, “Raise your hand before talking.”

Create a list of household rules and hang them on a wall in your home to remind your children of the most important rules they need to follow. Similar to a teacher’s list of rules, make your rules simple.

Restrict your list to the top five or six most important rules. If your list is too long, your children may grow overwhelmed.

Word your rules in the positive whenever possible. Instead of saying, “Don’t take anyone else’s stuff,” say, “Ask for permission before touching anyone else’s belongings.”

2) Explain Your Expectations Ahead of Time

Teachers explain their expectations before kids enter into new situations. You might hear a teacher say, “You are going to have a substitute teacher this afternoon. I expect you all to follow the rules.”

Or, before a guest speaker enters the classroom, the teacher might say, “I expect you all to listen carefully to our guest and raise your hand before you ask a question.”

Your children won’t know how to behave in new situations unless you explain what is socially appropriate. Your child won’t inherently know he can cheer at a soccer game but should remain quiet at a ballet recital. So, before you enter into new situations, spend a few minutes explaining the rules.

3) Create Structure and Be Consistent

Ask your child, “What happens after lunch?” and you’ll likely hear, “After lunch we have recess. Then, we have math.” Elementary teachers maintain a fairly consistent schedule each day because they know structure helps kids manage their emotions and their behavior better.

Create structure in your home by giving your child a regular schedule. Set aside time for homework, chores, dinner, and bath. Although you might not be able to keep the routine as consistent as his teacher can, creating structure will help your child manage his behavior better.

4) Whisper When You Need to Get Your Child's Attention

When the classroom is noisy, an experienced teacher doesn’t yell—she whispers. Yelling only adds to the noise and the chaos and the teacher’s voice blends in. But, when a teacher whispers, students stop talking so they can hear what she’s saying.

If your children are squabbling at dinner, or they’re arguing over who gets to go first, lower your voice. You might find it’s a much more effective attention-getter.

5) Use Non-Verbal Cues

Remember when your teacher used to shut off the lights to get everyone’s attention? The sudden change in light was a fast way for the teacher to get everyone to stop talking without saying a word.

Look for opportunities to use non-verbal cues to address behavior problems. If your children are arguing in the backseat of the car, turn down the radio. Or, try shutting off the light in their bedroom when they’re getting too loud.

6) Problem-Solve Together

The best teachers invite children into the problem-solving process. Rather than assume they know what the problem is, they ask kids for input into how to resolve the situation.

A teacher may sit a student down and say, “For the last three days in a row you’ve been having trouble getting along with the other kids at recess. What do you think we can do to make sure you don’t have any problems with the other kids today?”

Kids are usually willing to do their part when they’re able to be part of the solution. When you notice a specific pattern of misbehavior, or times when your child seems to be struggling, point it out in a matter of fact way. Then, see if your child can offer some helpful solutions.

7) Adjust the Environment

When a student is easily distracted, a good teacher doesn’t simply say, “Pay attention,” over and over again. Instead, the teacher modifies the environment to make it easier for the student to concentrate. Placing a student near the front of the classroom or near the teacher’s desk could be instrumental in helping the student stay on task.

Think about the steps you can take to set your children up for success. If they struggle to get along when they get home from school, assign them chores in opposite rooms. Or, if they fight over a specific toy, remove the toy from both of them.

Changing your children's behavior shouldn't always be about expecting them to change. Sometimes, a few simple changes to the environment can prevent behavior problems before they start.

8) Offer Opportunities for Do-Overs

Rather than simply scolding a child by saying, “Don’t run in the hallway!” a seasoned teacher will make the child go back and try it over again. By returning to the classroom and walking down the hallway again, he’ll learn running actually slows him down. He’ll also practice the good behavior.

If your child impulsively grabs something out of your hand, take it back and ask, “If you wanted to see that, what could you do instead of grabbing it out of my hand?” Then, have him practice asking for the object nicely. By practicing the desired behavior your child learns how to do it better next time.

9) Monitor Behavior and Give Feedback Often

The best elementary school teachers don’t stay at their desks while the kids are working and they don’t stand next to the building when the kids are playing at recess. They walk around monitoring kids’ activities. They offer feedback, answer questions, and give guidance.

While you don’t want to hover over your children, monitoring their activities can be one of the best ways to keep them on track. If your children know you’re going to periodically peer over their shoulders when they’re surfing the internet, or you’re likely to go outside to check on them at any minute, they’ll be less likely to get into trouble.

10) Use Rewards to Motivate Your Child

When certain children have difficulty in the classroom, teachers implement reward systems. The teacher may document a child’s behavior throughout the day in a kid-friendly manner—such as a sticker chart. If the student exhibits enough good behavior, he may be able to earn a privilege, such as picking a prize from a treasure chest or having a few extra minutes of free time.

Sometimes, teachers use incentives on a class-wide basis. If all the students behave well for a substitute teacher, the whole class might earn a chance to play a game together. A little healthy competition can encourage students to help one another to do their best.

Identify a specific behavior you want to target with your child. Create a reward chart or establish a token economy system. Then, let him earn tangible rewards, like extra time to play on the computer or a chance to go to the park.

11) Create a Plan for Behavior Problems

When the usual discipline strategies aren’t working, the best elementary school teachers develop a careful plan that will help them approach the behavior in a new way. They may meet with the parents, guidance counselor, and other school staff to gather ideas and identify the best interventions.

If your discipline strategies aren’t changing your children’s behavior, try something new. But don’t just start trying anything. Craft a plan that will help you target the problem.

When you have a plan in place, and you apply your discipline consistently, you’ll be able to see if it’s working. And you’ll be able to make changes to your plan in a way that will increase the likelihood that you’ll be able to help your child.

If you’re feeling stuck, brainstorm discipline ideas with other adults. Talk to your child’s doctor, guidance counselor, or other caregivers. Working together as a team could be the key to reducing behavior problems.

12) Catch a Child Being Good

Managing a classroom of 20 or more students can be difficult. And often, all the students are vying for the teacher’s attention.

A skilled teacher knows giving attention for good behavior is the best way to encourage all the students to behave. Instead of pointing out all the students who are talking, the teacher might say, “I like the way Jasmine is sitting so quietly right now. Zachary, you’re doing a great job being quiet too!”

When your children are acting out, don’t give all of your attention to the misbehavior. Attention—even when it’s negative—can encourage behavior to continue.

So rather than say, “Quit playing with your fork,” turn to your other child and say, “I really like the table manners you are using right now.” Praising one child for being good might inspire the other one to follow suit.


Science Student Shows the Magic Properties of Breast Milk

Written by Jessica Machado for The Daily Dot

If you've ever opened a parenting book or clicked on a mommy blog, you know there is a lot to be said about breast milk. Much of it touts how perfect it is while ignoring that formula is just fine and that many mothers can't breastfeed or keep up with pumping when they go back to work. 

But absolutism and lactation elitism aside, breast milk is pretty cool, not only as a complete food, providing all the nutrients a baby needs for the first six months of life, but also as a disease and germ-fighting agent.

Biosciences student Vicky Greene recently proved this latter part by adding breast milk, from mothers feeding kids ages 15 months to 3 years old, to nine Petri dishes filled with M. Luteus, a bacteria that colonizes in the mouth and upper respiratory tract. And what she found was that where the milk was placed in the dish the bacteria had been killed off.  

Greene, whose post has gone viral with almost 20,000 shares, said that the experiment also worked with E-coli and somewhat with MRSA, an infection caused by a type of staph bacteria. Her study also shows that breast milk's immunization properties don't diminish the older the breastfed kid gets.

Previous studies have shown that breast milk also has the ability to cure 40 types of cancer because it contains a special substance called HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumour cells). It's also a pretty neat self-regulator, adjusting its immunological composition based on your baby's backwash (yes, for real).

The human body is a magical thing—and yet not every body is the same.
 


10 FEEDING TIPS FOR BABY’S FIRST YEAR

(Written By The Honest Company Staff)

Feeding your baby is one of the most fundamental tasks of parenting, but even though we’ve literally been doing it since the beginning of time, it can still be tricky territory. Between breasts and bottles and allergies and obesity and everything else, feeding our children has become a complicated and emotional journey. Today we’re sharing 10 basic tips to hopefully make it a little easier. Bon appetit, baby!

#1: Get ready before baby arrives. You’ve probably read all sorts of books, articles, and blogs and talked to friends, family, and maybe even strangers to learn as much about the tricky business of parenting as you can. But, no matter how well-read and informed you are, life has a way of throwing curve balls. It applies to all aspects of parenting, but for right now let’s talk about feeding. Have a plan or maybe two in mind (will you strictly breastfeed, will you need to pump, will you supplement, etc.), create a support system, and know that it’s okay to figure things out as you go — your child’s needs and your own will evolve over time and unexpected circumstances may arise. Although easier said than done, don’t stress. We promise, everything works out!

#2: Try to breastfeed for at least the first 8 days. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first year and we support that recommendation. But it can be an overwhelming commitment for many moms, so we encourage you to take it one step at a time. “The first 8 days appear to be a critical window,” says renowned pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene. “Babies are setting their internal sense of how much is ‘normal’ for them to eat. Too much, or too little can lead to lifelong impacts. Thankfully, breastfeeding typically leads to the right amount and pacing during that first week. You are designed to provide just what your baby needs! With formula-fed babies, you’ll need to be more attentive to not over- or underfeed.” Which leads us to the next tip…

#3: Watch for cues. How can you tell if a baby is getting the right amount? Dr. Greene says your baby will let you know. “Babies are born with a sophisticated internal mechanism for determining just how much they need to thrive,” says Greene. “Healthy babies given the right selection of healthy foods will tend to eat just the right amount.” Your baby should appear satisfied and may even push the nipple out of his mouth. Regular wet and soiled diapers are also a key indicator. Dr. Greene also makes the point that all babies are different and while feeding charts can be helpful, you shouldn’t worry if your child is eating more or less. A happy, healthy baby is the goal, not following rigid guidelines.

#4: Opt for organic. Food grown organically doesn’t contain genetically modified organisms, synthetic hormones and antibiotics, or toxic pesticides. Better for you, your baby, and the planet we live on. Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding, go organic during this unique window of development and vulnerability.

#5: Be vigilant about vitamins. Most women are advised to continue taking a prenatal multi-vitamin while they breastfeed and specific supplements are sometimes recommended for babies and toddlers, too. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends Vitamin D for all infants and Dr. Greene believes supplementation with a children’s multi-vitamin provides “health insurance” during the first months and years of rapid development. Talk to your doctor about your family’s unique dietary needs.

#6: Choose safe baby feeding gear. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned the hormone-disrupting chemical BPA from baby bottles and formula containers, but it could still be used in breast pumps or breastmilk storage containers. Regardless, whatever gear you’re using, contact manufacturers to find out what the tools are made of. Give preference to medical grade silicone, stainless steel, glass, and safer plastics like polypropylene (#5).

#7: Start solids when your baby wants to. Your baby isn’t going to place an order, but — again — you should watch for cues. “Babies have unique digestive systems and mature at different rates, so there’s no single best answer for when every baby should start solids,” says Dr. Greene. “Your baby may know it is time before you do! The most obvious sign is a baby that still seems hungry after getting enough milk (8-10 breast feedings or 32 ounces of formula in a day). Your darling may lean forward eagerly or act fussy when you are eating.”

#8: Make baby’s first grain a whole grain. Once your baby is showing interests in solids, offer her a wholesome option. Dr. Greene says, “It’s no wonder that America’s kids are hooked on junk food. For the past 50 years the majority of babies in the United States have been given white rice cereal for their very first bite of solid food. Metabolically, it’s similar to eating sugar.” To combat this bad feeding behavior, Dr. Green launched the WhiteOut movement — and we support him whole (grain) heartedly!

#9: Skip the baby food aisle. Your baby’s first foods don’t always need to come in tiny pouches and jars. They can come right from your refrigerator — and they’ll likely be healthier. Try mashed avocado, banana, or steamed sweet potato. Thin with breastmilk or formula if necessary.

#10: Enjoy! Whether breastfeeding, formula feeding, finger feeding, or spoon feeding, try to enjoy these first magical moments of eating together. Bring positivity and love to the experience to help build a healthy relationship with food.

From Babies to Small Children: The Importance of Reading Exposure

(By Beth Hedrick, Source: Lifehack)

Children as young as 6 months old greatly benefit from being read to. You may not realize your baby is taking it all in as you talk about the pictures on each page, turn each page as they sit in your lap, and read the text to them, but they undeniably are soaking it all in. This is, in fact, a critical stage in your child’s reading development.

The Emergent Pre-Reading Stage

As the child is within the stage of emergent pre-reading (typically from ages 6 months to 6 years), he will listen intently to all of the multiple sounds you make, the words, descriptions of images, concepts of the book and print, and chatter from you. This is a highly critical stage, and more important than many parents of babies realize. Exposure to books and talking through the books effectively sets the stage for his future literacy. This can help your children develop the love for reading.

This is all that needs to be accomplished in this stage, as up to the ages of 4-5 years old, in many children, studies point to the fact that the teaching of actual reading is too early. Granted, there is a small percentage that may begin reading pre-kindergarten, but this is a very small percentage. Exposure is the key in this stage. With daily exposure to print and language from the parent or caregiver, the end of this time in the child’s life will consist of the child “pretend” reading, which is when a child looks at the pictures within a book and retells the story in his own words. He also may be able to answer questions about the book when read to, ask questions he is curious about, or even point to specific words in a book and know what they are. This is usually done with a book that they have been very much exposed to in repeated readings.

The Beginning Reader Stage

In this stage, patience is very essential. All children learn to read at very different rates. Although each stage is variably consistent within the age levels, it is important to understand that each child is unique and will learn at his own pace. Our society has put a lot of pressure on children learning to read very early, sometimes too early, when in fact, they may not be developmentally ready. You must understand different stages of development.

This stage is an amazing stage. Your child will amaze you with their growing knowledge of literacy. Exposing him to pictures and vocabulary will enrich his ability to connect spoken words to print.  In addition to pictures and vocabulary acquisition, teaching them how to listen for phonemes, or specific sounds in each word, is as significant as learning the alphabet. In addition to familiarizing him with the alphabet letters and sounds, simultaneously focusing on his listening of each distinct phoneme in words will aid him in putting it all together. For example, teaching him that the beginning sound in the word “dog” is not the letter “d”, but the sound that a “d” makes. The individual sound is just as important as identifying the letter.

Typically, children are taught to recognize the first sound they hear within words. The beginning sound is then followed by teaching them to listen for the ending sound of words. The medial vowel, or middle sound, is usually the last sound they really connect to a letter. This is why you see many very beginning writing by 5-year-olds with the beginning letter and ending letter, such as the word “dog” may be “spelled” d-g, leaving out the letter “o”.

Incorporating the meaning of stories as well as basic phonics, or appropriate letters of each word, is equally important in learning to read. In these beginning stages of literacy, building a strong foundation is directly related to successful literacy later on. With a strong foundation from the emergent and beginning stages of reading, the child will move forward in their literacy with the guidance of his parents, caregiver, and school teacher.

(http://www.lifehack.org/496742/from-babies-to-small-children-the-importance-of-reading-exposure)

 

#baby #babynurse #nanny #childhoodeducation #newyorkcity #nyc #nycnannies


The Surprising Link Between Spirituality & Fertility

By Dr Julie Von (source: MindBodyGreen http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-27255/the-surprising-link-between-spirituality-fertility.html)

After working with fertility clients for over a decade, I've learned that fertility depends on much more than age, hormone levels, or ovulation windows. Much of what is happening in conception is beyond our mental understanding and falls into the realm of the spirit. By using the tools of the spiritual, we can promote and nourish our fertility.

Spiritual techniques

There are a few simple spiritual techniques that help to balance the endocrine system and promote fertility. Meditation, visualization, and prayer have long been used for calling in a child's spirit. Some cultures use mantras or create songs and music that sweetly lull a spirit to earth from the heavens. These techniques bypass the rational mind and acknowledge that there are systems at work outside of one individual's experience. When the emphasis and focus is removed from a person's analytic mind, several things happen: The nervous system relaxes, stress hormones decrease, and positive feel-good neurotransmitters start to calm and regulate our minds and bodies.

Manifest and reproduce

Limiting belief systems can affect our capacity to manifest and reproduce. But how do you work with a force that hasn't occurred yet like pregnancy? In the current climate of the world, the keys to the sacred are not so obvious. They are hidden in the imaginative and the unseen, the spiritual, if you will. Its messages require developing a meditative and receptive space, so we can have the silence to hear and interpret.

In a recent conversation I had with a brilliant friend, she mentioned that until the mid-1960s, when you asked a women how many children she wanted to have, her answer would most likely be, "G-d knows." Ask the same question now, and most people have very specific numbers, sex and timing planned far in advance. Much of our modern society and culture is based on rational thought. It's not a bad thing, but sometimes it can limit our capacity to understand factors that are outside of our mental comprehension.

Delve deeper

I ask my clients to explore in mediation the person they feel they will be once they have a child. What will change in their life, relationship, and emotional state? Will they feel more complete? More fulfilled? Happy? We delve into these answers, unconscious and fear-based beliefs. We find a way to clear those thoughts and integrate their future self into their present self. It is literally magic! Once we identify the very thing we are externally looking for, we attract it into our life. And along the way, we create a better understanding of our desire and radiance.

Belief systems

Spiritual and meditative tools can also be defensive and protective of your fertility. The words and belief systems of those around us tend to affect us, especially when those words resonate with our deepest fears. Through mindfulness, we can cultivate an awareness of the people and energy in our lives that feel negative and make us doubt the intuitive knowledge of our body. When a person expresses a strong opinion about her experience within fertility that may be at odds with your current psycho/emotional state, step back, put that opinion in parentheses, and try to understand the context without making it your own.

Do not take it personally! Do not take it as law or fact no matter how much social authority they have. Observe the reaction it may elicit and put that into parentheses, too. Spiritual liberation often begins with liberation from language. This is a valuable skill to take into the terrain of fertility.

Using your toolbox

Sometimes the process of deciding to have a child, suffering from loss or infertility, or just preparing for pregnancy creates a feeling of isolation and confusion. It can be challenging to turn the experience into an empowered and healthy one. Using tools that help nourish and build receptive energy such as restorative yoga, meditation, and creativity connect you to the spiritual or unseen aspects of life.

Strengthening this connection provides guidance and clarity when you are faced with challenges. Every challenge we meet in life has the potential to help break us open and promote evolution. Creating a spiritual path within fertility balances the hormonal system and promotes healthy pregnancy.

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Babynurses.com #babynurse #newborn #fertility #newborncarespecialist #babynurse #children #newmother


Expecting Mothers Should Opt for Pregnancy Friendly Exercises

(Source: Women Health News http://www.medindia.net/healthnews/Women-Child-Health-News.asp)

Exercise during pregnancy has tremendous benefits for the mother-to-be. Expecting mothers should go for pregnancy friendly exercises and should get comfortable maternity gear for working out, suggests an expert.

Yuvraj Randhawa, gym trainer and owner of Health Plus gym (H+), gives an insight on smart ways to exercise safely during pregnancy:  ‘Expecting mothers should go for pregnancy friendly exercises and should get comfortable maternity gear for working out, suggests an expert.’

* Don't lie on your back: Avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back, especially crunches after the first trimester. Lying on your back for an extended period could make you feel dizzy as this can decrease blood flow to you and to your baby. 

* Get maternity gear: Comfort and flexibility are must during workouts but the baby bump needs to be accommodated throughout your pregnancy. Look for workout wear that is specifically sized to your times, shoe and measurements. There should be nothing too constrictive, nor anything too loose. Make sure you don't get too warm, as over-heating can pose a threat to the baby. 

* Go for pregnancy friendly exercises: Walking briskly, swimming regularly and parental yoga are all very healthy and easy on baby. Remember that your joints become loose and your center of gravity shifts with pregnancy, so you cannot just scale down your usual routine. Seek out a moderate program that keeps you strong and fit in a relaxed and safe manner. 

* Get more rest than usual: Most expectant mothers need more sitting, napping and relaxing, but if you have got a healthy fitness routine going, you need even more time to recoup. Don't ever keep yourself in overdrive, no matter how much you have got going on or how great your love of working out may be. Keeping yourself fit during this time is a very healthy decision, but it also must be a wise one; listen to your body. 

* Be prepared to modify your routine: You may not be able to keep up that five mile run when you're pregnant, which is totally fine. Hormonal changes during pregnancy make you more flexible and your growing belly can throw off your center of balance, making your standby workouts more difficult. You may need to cut your workouts a bit short (take a 20 minute walk instead) or decrease your speed or resistance.

babynurse.com, #newborncare #babynurse #baby #newborncarespecialist #doula #prenatal #newmother


Common Sense C.P.R.

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British American Household Staffing is now offering a C.P.R. class in collaboration with Birth Day Presence

Common Sense C.P.R. will teach Infant CPR plus Relief of Choking to expectant and new parents, grandparents and caregivers. 
You will learn:

Infant CPR (age 0-11 months). You are encouraged to come while pregnant, but may come after the baby is born.
Relief of Foreign Body Airway Obstruction (Choking)
Taxicab and Car-Seat Guidelines
Extensive Baby Safety Tips

Each student will have a mannequin for ample hands-on practice. Students will leave with helpful handouts to keep at home. Babies who have not yet started crawling are welcome. To sign up: https://birthdaypresence.com/shop/infant-cpr-and-safety-ages-0-1-soho-2/

British American represents baby nurses in New York who are fully trained, vetted with excellent references and certifications.  They help both the parents and the newborn (infant) with development, care, sleep training and feeding.  Some baby nurses have doula certifications.  A high quality baby nurse will work with the infant and parents on sleep training when the doctor deems appropriate timing and the infant is the correct weight. Professional and high quality baby nurses support the mother in areas such as lactation, breastfeeding, lactation, latching and more.  Please contact info@bahs.com for more information regarding hiring a baby nurse in NYC and in the USA and UK.


Infant CPR

cpr_baby_2.jpg

British American Household Staffing is now offering a C.P.R. class in collaboration with Birth Day Presence

Common Sense C.P.R. will teach Infant CPR plus Relief of Choking to expectant and new parents, grandparents and caregivers. 

You will learn:
Infant newborn CPR (age 0-11 months). You are encouraged to come while pregnant, but may come after the baby -infant is born.
Relief of Foreign Body Airway Obstruction (Choking)
Taxicab and Car-Seat Guidelines
Extensive baby infant Safety Tips

Each student will have a baby infant mannequin for ample hands-on practice. Students will leave with helpful handouts to keep at home. Babies and infants who have not yet started crawling are welcome.

Baby nurses and newborn care specialists are trained and certified infant and newborn caretakers.  British American represents baby nurses in New York who are fully trained, vetted with excellent references and certifications.  They help both the parents and the newborn (infant) with development, care, sleep training and feeding.  Some baby nurses have doula certifications.  A high quality baby nurse will work with the infant and parents on sleep training when the doctor deems appropriate timing and the infant is the correct weight. Professional and high quality baby nurses support the mother in areas such as lactation, breastfeeding, lactation, latching and more.  Please contact info@bahs.com for more information regarding hiring a baby nurse in NYC and in the USA and UK. 

Click here to sign up.

*Use code bahscprmaysingle for $25 off to individuals* 

*Use code bahscprmaycouple for $50 off to couples*


New Services Offered at British American

2016 brings a specialized division of British American Household Staffing specifically related to high quality, trained and professional baby nurses and newborn care specialists.  British American Household Staffing has long wanted to provide for a much needed high quality channel for these services in the USA.  We are launching a website dedicated to these professionals and only a select few baby nurses and newborn care specialists will pass our rigorous interview and vetting processes. Baby nurses and newborn care specialists are trained and certified infant and newborn caretakers.  British American represents baby nurses in New York who are fully trained, vetted with excellent references and certifications, which can be rare to find, especially on the East Coast of the USA.  A top quality baby nurse will help both the parents and the newborn (infant) with development, care, sleep training and feeding and bring many other skills to the table.  Some baby nurses have doula certifications and all top quality professional baby nurses and newborn care specialists will be gentle, loving and a supportive presence in the home.  A high quality baby nurse will work with the infant and parents on sleep training when the doctor deems appropriate timing and the infant is the correct weight. Professional and high quality baby nurses support the mother in areas such as lactation, breastfeeding, latching and more.  Please contact enquiries@bahs.com for more information regarding hiring a baby nurse in NYC and in the USA and UK.

The start of a new year brings exciting developments for the British American brand. 2016 will see the launch of two specialist services separate from staffing: Talent Management and Art Consultancy, based in NY, LA and London. More information on our Talent Management and Production branch can be found at www.bahs.com/talent and more information on our Art Consultancy branch can be found at www.bahs.com/art.

If you are an agent, producer or casting director email us at: talent@bahs.com.

If you are an artist wishing to submit your information, email us at submissions@bahs.com.  We specialize in British and foreign artists in addition to US residents and citizens. 

To arrange a consultation at British American for art collection or investment advice, please email info@bahs.com.  We specialize in fine and traditional art.  Our expertise and access spans from emerging and mid-career artists to old masters.


Italian Opera and Business

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British American Household Staffing's president, Anita Rogers performed Italian classical arias with Craig Ketter for the Italian Chamber of Commerce and the BAB (British American Business) on April 7th, 2015.  The event was a huge success with an audience of over 150 attendees.  Craig Ketter is a well-known pianist as well as one of the top vocal operatic coaches in the United States, specifically well-known in New York.  He often collaborates with the Metropolitan Opera and works with some of the best-known principal voices of today.  Anita sang Vaga Luna, Che Inargenti by Vincenzo Bellini and Io T’Abbraccio by G.F. Handel from the opera Rodelinda with Heidi Skok.  

Anita Rogers, a mezzo-soprano, had performed and trained classically in England, Italy and Ireland prior to coming to the United States twelve years ago where she has performed opera and lieder extensively, as well as more esoteric repertoire.  Heidi Skok has been singing at the Metropolitan Opera for twelve years and is now pursuing a solo career in opera as a mezzo-soprano.  Heidi has performed throughout the United States and is currently recording an album.  Craig Ketter is a well-known pianist as well as one of the top vocal coaches in the United States.  He often collaborates with the Metropolitan Opera and works with some of the best-known principal voices of today.  

The evening was a celebration of the arts through business, and British American Household Staffing, known for placing the best quality domestic staff in New York and California, is proud to continue the tradition of supporting the New York’s arts world.  The audience and artists enjoyed cocktails, networking, and a live opera recital as they met new contacts in the stylish setting of one of the largest luxury apparel showrooms in New York.


Burnished Heart | An Art Exhibition feat. The Rug Company

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On Tuesday evening, September 23rd, clients, friends, and BAHS employees alike gathered in the loft space at 77 Mercer Street to view artist Bryan Christie's exclusive show, "Burnished Heart." The show was crafted exclusively by Bryan for the event, and jointly sponsored by BAHS and local luxury business The Rug Company. Bryan's selected works comprised some of his finest and most thought provoking pieces, from larger silk on encaustic works to smaller works done on paper.

Potential buyers and art enthusiasts moved in and out of the space from 6:30 PM to late into the night, enjoying fine wines and cheeses sourced from local businesses and stimulating discussion on the nature of Bryan's work. The artist himself was in attendance, giving his unique artistic insight to all those interested parties.

The event was a great success thanks to The Rug Company's great eye for design combined with BAHS's beautiful SoHo loft space. BAHS looks forward to hosting more events of a similar nature in the future.

If you are interested in learning more about our events, please email us at events@bahs.com.


Art Exhibition: Cannon Hersey’s Silk Route

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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.

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

Please try selecting another category.

From Babies to Small Children: The Importance of Reading Exposure

(By Beth Hedrick, Source: Lifehack)

Children as young as 6 months old greatly benefit from being read to. You may not realize your baby is taking it all in as you talk about the pictures on each page, turn each page as they sit in your lap, and read the text to them, but they undeniably are soaking it all in. This is, in fact, a critical stage in your child’s reading development.

The Emergent Pre-Reading Stage

As the child is within the stage of emergent pre-reading (typically from ages 6 months to 6 years), he will listen intently to all of the multiple sounds you make, the words, descriptions of images, concepts of the book and print, and chatter from you. This is a highly critical stage, and more important than many parents of babies realize. Exposure to books and talking through the books effectively sets the stage for his future literacy. This can help your children develop the love for reading.

This is all that needs to be accomplished in this stage, as up to the ages of 4-5 years old, in many children, studies point to the fact that the teaching of actual reading is too early. Granted, there is a small percentage that may begin reading pre-kindergarten, but this is a very small percentage. Exposure is the key in this stage. With daily exposure to print and language from the parent or caregiver, the end of this time in the child’s life will consist of the child “pretend” reading, which is when a child looks at the pictures within a book and retells the story in his own words. He also may be able to answer questions about the book when read to, ask questions he is curious about, or even point to specific words in a book and know what they are. This is usually done with a book that they have been very much exposed to in repeated readings.

The Beginning Reader Stage

In this stage, patience is very essential. All children learn to read at very different rates. Although each stage is variably consistent within the age levels, it is important to understand that each child is unique and will learn at his own pace. Our society has put a lot of pressure on children learning to read very early, sometimes too early, when in fact, they may not be developmentally ready. You must understand different stages of development.

This stage is an amazing stage. Your child will amaze you with their growing knowledge of literacy. Exposing him to pictures and vocabulary will enrich his ability to connect spoken words to print.  In addition to pictures and vocabulary acquisition, teaching them how to listen for phonemes, or specific sounds in each word, is as significant as learning the alphabet. In addition to familiarizing him with the alphabet letters and sounds, simultaneously focusing on his listening of each distinct phoneme in words will aid him in putting it all together. For example, teaching him that the beginning sound in the word “dog” is not the letter “d”, but the sound that a “d” makes. The individual sound is just as important as identifying the letter.

Typically, children are taught to recognize the first sound they hear within words. The beginning sound is then followed by teaching them to listen for the ending sound of words. The medial vowel, or middle sound, is usually the last sound they really connect to a letter. This is why you see many very beginning writing by 5-year-olds with the beginning letter and ending letter, such as the word “dog” may be “spelled” d-g, leaving out the letter “o”.

Incorporating the meaning of stories as well as basic phonics, or appropriate letters of each word, is equally important in learning to read. In these beginning stages of literacy, building a strong foundation is directly related to successful literacy later on. With a strong foundation from the emergent and beginning stages of reading, the child will move forward in their literacy with the guidance of his parents, caregiver, and school teacher.

(http://www.lifehack.org/496742/from-babies-to-small-children-the-importance-of-reading-exposure)

 

#baby #babynurse #nanny #childhoodeducation #newyorkcity #nyc #nycnannies


The Surprising Link Between Spirituality & Fertility

By Dr Julie Von (source: MindBodyGreen http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-27255/the-surprising-link-between-spirituality-fertility.html)

After working with fertility clients for over a decade, I've learned that fertility depends on much more than age, hormone levels, or ovulation windows. Much of what is happening in conception is beyond our mental understanding and falls into the realm of the spirit. By using the tools of the spiritual, we can promote and nourish our fertility.

Spiritual techniques

There are a few simple spiritual techniques that help to balance the endocrine system and promote fertility. Meditation, visualization, and prayer have long been used for calling in a child's spirit. Some cultures use mantras or create songs and music that sweetly lull a spirit to earth from the heavens. These techniques bypass the rational mind and acknowledge that there are systems at work outside of one individual's experience. When the emphasis and focus is removed from a person's analytic mind, several things happen: The nervous system relaxes, stress hormones decrease, and positive feel-good neurotransmitters start to calm and regulate our minds and bodies.

Manifest and reproduce

Limiting belief systems can affect our capacity to manifest and reproduce. But how do you work with a force that hasn't occurred yet like pregnancy? In the current climate of the world, the keys to the sacred are not so obvious. They are hidden in the imaginative and the unseen, the spiritual, if you will. Its messages require developing a meditative and receptive space, so we can have the silence to hear and interpret.

In a recent conversation I had with a brilliant friend, she mentioned that until the mid-1960s, when you asked a women how many children she wanted to have, her answer would most likely be, "G-d knows." Ask the same question now, and most people have very specific numbers, sex and timing planned far in advance. Much of our modern society and culture is based on rational thought. It's not a bad thing, but sometimes it can limit our capacity to understand factors that are outside of our mental comprehension.

Delve deeper

I ask my clients to explore in mediation the person they feel they will be once they have a child. What will change in their life, relationship, and emotional state? Will they feel more complete? More fulfilled? Happy? We delve into these answers, unconscious and fear-based beliefs. We find a way to clear those thoughts and integrate their future self into their present self. It is literally magic! Once we identify the very thing we are externally looking for, we attract it into our life. And along the way, we create a better understanding of our desire and radiance.

Belief systems

Spiritual and meditative tools can also be defensive and protective of your fertility. The words and belief systems of those around us tend to affect us, especially when those words resonate with our deepest fears. Through mindfulness, we can cultivate an awareness of the people and energy in our lives that feel negative and make us doubt the intuitive knowledge of our body. When a person expresses a strong opinion about her experience within fertility that may be at odds with your current psycho/emotional state, step back, put that opinion in parentheses, and try to understand the context without making it your own.

Do not take it personally! Do not take it as law or fact no matter how much social authority they have. Observe the reaction it may elicit and put that into parentheses, too. Spiritual liberation often begins with liberation from language. This is a valuable skill to take into the terrain of fertility.

Using your toolbox

Sometimes the process of deciding to have a child, suffering from loss or infertility, or just preparing for pregnancy creates a feeling of isolation and confusion. It can be challenging to turn the experience into an empowered and healthy one. Using tools that help nourish and build receptive energy such as restorative yoga, meditation, and creativity connect you to the spiritual or unseen aspects of life.

Strengthening this connection provides guidance and clarity when you are faced with challenges. Every challenge we meet in life has the potential to help break us open and promote evolution. Creating a spiritual path within fertility balances the hormonal system and promotes healthy pregnancy.

----

Babynurses.com #babynurse #newborn #fertility #newborncarespecialist #babynurse #children #newmother


Expecting Mothers Should Opt for Pregnancy Friendly Exercises

(Source: Women Health News http://www.medindia.net/healthnews/Women-Child-Health-News.asp)

Exercise during pregnancy has tremendous benefits for the mother-to-be. Expecting mothers should go for pregnancy friendly exercises and should get comfortable maternity gear for working out, suggests an expert.

Yuvraj Randhawa, gym trainer and owner of Health Plus gym (H+), gives an insight on smart ways to exercise safely during pregnancy:  ‘Expecting mothers should go for pregnancy friendly exercises and should get comfortable maternity gear for working out, suggests an expert.’

* Don't lie on your back: Avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back, especially crunches after the first trimester. Lying on your back for an extended period could make you feel dizzy as this can decrease blood flow to you and to your baby. 

* Get maternity gear: Comfort and flexibility are must during workouts but the baby bump needs to be accommodated throughout your pregnancy. Look for workout wear that is specifically sized to your times, shoe and measurements. There should be nothing too constrictive, nor anything too loose. Make sure you don't get too warm, as over-heating can pose a threat to the baby. 

* Go for pregnancy friendly exercises: Walking briskly, swimming regularly and parental yoga are all very healthy and easy on baby. Remember that your joints become loose and your center of gravity shifts with pregnancy, so you cannot just scale down your usual routine. Seek out a moderate program that keeps you strong and fit in a relaxed and safe manner. 

* Get more rest than usual: Most expectant mothers need more sitting, napping and relaxing, but if you have got a healthy fitness routine going, you need even more time to recoup. Don't ever keep yourself in overdrive, no matter how much you have got going on or how great your love of working out may be. Keeping yourself fit during this time is a very healthy decision, but it also must be a wise one; listen to your body. 

* Be prepared to modify your routine: You may not be able to keep up that five mile run when you're pregnant, which is totally fine. Hormonal changes during pregnancy make you more flexible and your growing belly can throw off your center of balance, making your standby workouts more difficult. You may need to cut your workouts a bit short (take a 20 minute walk instead) or decrease your speed or resistance.

babynurse.com, #newborncare #babynurse #baby #newborncarespecialist #doula #prenatal #newmother


You Can Be a Mother and Still Be a Successful Artist

Thanks to Marina Cashdan at Artsy for this piece. 

“There’s an old-fashioned myth that having a baby is going to make it impossible to work,” says painter Nikki Maloof. “I had just started gaining a lot of momentum in my career when I found out I was pregnant, so it was scary.” Maloof’s fear could apply to any number of career-oriented women across numerous industries. A little over a year ago, I became a mother. It was an unknown that, while mostly exciting, was also terrifying. As a career-focused individual with a job that I love, I feared losing a sense of self and motherhood setting me back from all the hard work I had done—especially considering that men still make up more than 85 percent of top leadership roles in the United States.

But then my son came and that worry dissolved, because motherhood did not change my identity or curtail my ambition—it only reinforced it. While it did, of course, create logistical obstacles to navigate, it also made me more efficient with my time, and more motivated. I wasn’t just working hard for myself anymore, but now for my son, too. By and large, other art-world mothers I spoke with over the past year, and many artists I interviewed for this story, feel that parenting becomes one more life challenge to grapple with, but a choice that ultimately has enriched their lives and careers, more than hindering them.

So why, then, would this myth—that having children ruins a female artist’s career—still linger? Marina Abramović recently made headlines by telling German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel: “In my opinion [having children is] the reason why women aren’t as successful as men in the art world. There are plenty of talented women. Why do men take over the important positions? It’s simple. Love, family, children—a woman doesn’t want to sacrifice all of that.” Her sentiments sparked anger and heated debate. (Lest not we forget, other women artists have spouted similar sentiments, including Tracey Emin).

“It’s a very Donald Trump-ish kind of statement,” says Laurie Simmons, who has two daughters, Lena and Grace, ages 30 and 24. “That a woman without children would be making judgments about women with children is really inappropriate. This idea that there is this very precious thing, artistically speaking, inside a woman that will be broken by having a child is so archaic, primitive, prehistoric. I’ve never heard a male artist discuss whether or not he should have children.”

What defines success in the art world isn’t black-and-white, points out Tara Donovan, who has six-year-old twin boys. “While I understand the pressures of the art world all too well, the notion that women must sacrifice the pleasures of motherhood for the sake of a ‘career’ reflects insidious double standards from a bygone era. I think Abramović has chosen to operate in an art world that reflects the values of this bygone era, where masculinist hierarchies determine what constitutes ‘value’ and ‘success.’ This is the same art world that privileges male artists at auction with exponentially higher prices than women.”

Kara Walker also opted for both motherhood and an ambitious career as an artist. “Having children isn’t for everyone, but offering up old school sexism isn’t useful to anyone,” she says, pointing out that she had her daughter Octavia, now 18, in the same year that she received the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant. “My daughter is now in college and someone there is teaching about my work. What can I say, I wanted a child and a career and I didn’t feel one took energy from the other.”

Most would consider Simmons, Donovan, and Walker successful artists: All are represented by important galleries (Salon 94, Pace, and Victoria Miro/Sikkema Jenkins & Co., respectively); all three have had exhibitions at major museums; and they all make a good living on their art alone. In fact, many of the world’s highest-grossing women artists are mothers, including Julie Mehretu, Marlene Dumas, Cecily Brown, and Chen Peiqiu. And the list of successful artists who are mothers continues, including Sarah Sze, Teresita Fernández, Wangechi Mutu, Phyllida Barlow, Cornelia Parker, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, and many more.

According to Abramović, would these women have been more successful had they abandoned family life and focused only on their careers? Or does this thinking hold women back and perpetuate another fantastical myth of the artist as loner, one who suffers for creativity? And yet while male artists can uphold this illusion of the creative loner while also being partners and parents—Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei, John Currin, Olafur Eliasson, Chris Ofili, Alex Katz, and many more are fathers—female artists are expected to forgo children in order to meet the same standard. “I’ve spent my life rebelling against these identities that people foisted on me,” says Simmons. “And then when I understood that the art world includes gatekeepers—guys who didn’t think it was appropriate for women artists to have babies—I thought, ‘Fuck you! Not going to happen.’” 

In a recent interview about her work, Diana Al-Hadid, who gave birth to a son less than a year ago, was asked whether becoming a mother had changed her work. “I said, ‘No, my work hasn’t changed, and you wouldn’t ask a man that question,’” she says. “No one presumes it’s going to change [a man’s] work—their work is their work and their private life is their private life.” The double standard has certainly been salient over the course of art history, but the question of how much progress has been made today is debatable.

“There is a bias but I wasn’t too hung up on it,” says Al-Hadid. “It might just be the fact that I know that other moms ahead of me in the art world have done it, and I know that women around the world do it under much more difficult circumstances than I have. But I figure, ‘Screw ’em.’ You have to break that bias somehow and you do that by setting an example.” Al-Hadid points out that not only did her dealer (Marianne Boesky) have a child, but that many friends around her and artists before her had children with no negative impact on their careers. Maloof also felt supported by her dealer (Jack Hanley) and her peers, and believes the taboo has dissipated. “I don’t feel like anyone would discriminate against a woman who is having a baby.”

But artist Lenka Clayton disagrees. “In my experience,” she says, “it’s still a choice that people feel they have to make, the choice of: Can you continue to be taken seriously as an artist and be a mother? That’s not a foregone conclusion in any way.” Moving to the U.S. from the U.K. with her partner in 2009, Clayton found herself feeling not only unsupported by the U.S. system (a topic explored in many recent debates on health benefits, parental leave, and childcare), but also isolated as the primary caregiver after her first child was born. “Being exhausted, having no time, no space—there are shared experiences when you’re a new parent—and so I was really trying to find a way to help myself feel differently about it,” says Clayton.

In 2012, the artist created her work An Artist Residency in Motherhood in response to the experience of motherhood. “I went back to things that helped with my practice,” she says, “such as being an artist in residence where there’s a specific period of time and you work with a new material—everything feels so new and unusual.” Clayton undertook the project for three years, through the birth of her second child. Last spring, she opened up the residency as a public project with a dedicated website where artists can download a “residency kit,” complete with an official letter of invitation, amendable manifesto, and planning tools to help artists structure their residency. “It came out of this feeling of trying to do two things at the same time that didn’t feel like they could fit,” she says. “It’s come to completion for me, now that it’s something that anyone can take part in.”

Both Simmons and Clayton point out that biases still prevail in some quarters of the art world, propagated by antiquated statements like that of Abramović. “Recently two young women came to me who had great trepidations and lots of fears,” recalls Simmons, “and both of them had heard very critical things from their art dealers about having children and how it would impact their careers. They were criticized by the very people who represented them and are responsible for selling their work.”

What is arguably the most positive change to have taken place over the last 30 years is the increase in role models for female artists working today. “At a certain point, I felt like I had a responsibility to answer questions because I didn’t want younger women artists to be frightened,” says Simmons, whose prosperous career and two very talented daughters qualify her as an excellent role model. “I thought if I spoke out about it, it could make someone who was on the fence not seem so frightened about how their life or their work would change.” Other than Elizabeth Murray, Simmons didn’t have many artists to look to who were openly embracing motherhood when she herself was considering it. And building a strong support structure is, of course, key to all new parents, including artists—a partner who shoulders 50 percent of the parenting, a dealer who is supportive of his or her artist’s choice to raise children, and a studio setup that is flexible enough for the initial disruption of a new baby and the transition into a new schedule.

No one can pretend that having a child is easy; it is not. It can require a major shift in lifestyle, as well as being financially demanding, especially in the U.S., where there is no government-supported universal childcare system. This is especially challenging for artists. “I know that it’s hard for artist friends who don’t have a child to live in New York, so one can imagine with kids, it’s even more difficult,” says Maloof, who considers herself in a fortunate position, living in New York and receiving health-care benefits through her partner’s employment. “There’s never a great time but you make it work. That’s been my mentality.”

Al-Hadid has not slowed down her busy show season with the arrival of her son. “You adapt, and babies adapt,” she says; her son has been on over a dozen flights since his birth. “I’m still very focused on my career and work—it’s just about a different relationship to your work. And that changes whether you have a child or not. That might change depending on your financial situation, that might change depending on where you’re living at the moment, that might change if you have a death in the family. Your relationship to your work is amorphous.”

Simmons and her husband, the painter Carroll Dunham, shared the responsibility of taking care of their children—a pioneering attitude at the time, Simmons reminds me. She remembers that Dunham would bring their daughter Lena to the studio and wear her in a sling while he was painting. “We entered into a very equal partnership,” she says. “I don’t think it’s an accident that I found the appropriate partner—someone who I knew was going to support me as an artist and do anything to make sure I remained an artist.”

At an art fair, just after I returned to work from maternity leave, I noticed a dealer with his new baby strapped to him while he was dealing art in his booth, a curator and museum director couple pushing their infant through the fair, and young children perusing the aisles with their collector parents. The scene felt natural and accepted in this greater art-world setting. “I feel like when I go to a museum dinner and I’m seated next to a titan of industry and the next thing I know he’s pulling out his phone to show me pictures of his grandchildren, something is changing,” says Simmons. “But while there’s a softening, I still feel there’s a prejudice against women artists with children.”

My first year as a mother has been one of continuous transition—not to mention limited sleep, little personal time, and the anxieties that come with the responsibility of being a new parent. But the indescribable intensity of love and experience watching a human being grow exponentially in such a short period of time has impacted me, and my work, in a profoundly positive way. Every artist I spoke with for this story felt similarly—that having children benefited their work rather than detracted from it. “My children are a source of love and satisfaction that I consider to be one of the only true markers of ‘success,’” says Donovan. “I guess I have chosen to privilege my personal agenda over any agendas dictated by others, which I believe is a choice all successful people need to make.”

All women have the right to choose to have children, or to choose not to have children. And like their male counterparts, women artists who choose to have children need not feel they have to sacrifice their careers to do so.


A Love Letter To Nannies: Thank You For Loving Our Kids

Thanks to Sarah Tucker at Mom.me for this poignant piece on the impact that nannies can have on the families they work with. As the kids get ready to go back to school, there is no better time to enlist the help of an experienced and professional nanny. British American will help find the perfect fit for your family.

 

"We don't have to hire someone tomorrow," said my husband, gesturing at the local parents website with posts for available nannies on his computer, "But we do have to start looking."

I hugged our three-month-old daughter a little bit more tightly as I nodded at him, miserably. I was in one of the emotional black holes of new motherhood, which I'm pretty sure never ends: guilt vs. exhaustion. A huge part of me ached at the idea of being separated from our baby and leaving her with someone who wasn't a family member—so basically a total stranger! And yet, another small but undeniable part was yearning to return to my work as a writer, if only for a few days a week.

The idea of another person caring for my child, comforting her when she cried, learning her rhythms, being there to witness the new personality and skills she was acquiring every day, while I was absent and missing out, sent a knife-like guilt and pain shooting through my chest. But I knew I had to find a way to recharge my own batteries, to reconnect with my career path, and to bring in the extra income that was important to my family.

I knew my position was exceptionally privileged. The lack of legal and social support for parents in the US, including maternity/paternity leave policies, means that millions of women are forced to return to full-time work to support their families, often only a few weeks after giving birth.

Many others enjoy going back to fulfilling work and relish the socializing benefits that daycare and other childcare options provide for their babies. But I was looking for some kind of middle ground. While I was deeply grateful to have been able to spend the first few months of my daughter's life with her and wanted to continue as her primary caregiver, being a stay-at-home-mom full-time was not an option for me both financially and personally. And unfortunately, my husband and I didn't have a single family member within 2,500 miles who might have been able to help out.

Still, I stalled and hesitated for as long as possible. I was filled with fears about two equally awful fantasy scenarios. 1) That my daughter would hate the nanny, and I would never feel comfortable leaving them alone. Not helpful. 2) That my daughter would love the nanny and end up essentially preferring her to me. Not cool at all!

Nannies also seemed slightly mysterious to me. The playground across the street from our house was filled with nannies, skillfully caring for one, two, even three children at a time. They all seemed to know each other, and they settled in packs at the sand box or by the swings, gathering on blankets for group snack picnics.

In the beginning, I had made a few overtures, saying hello when I arrived with my stroller, attempting to chat with whoever was watching the toddlers who came over to investigate my daughter. But I was generally met with a wall of silence. It was like they were some kind of nanny mafia, and I was invading their territory. Or maybe that nannies and parents were on opposing teams, and I was sitting in the wrong section. I hadn't felt so excluded since a rough month in the sixth grade.

When finally, I couldn't avoid the issue any longer, we started interviewing. There was the nanny who wanted nothing to do with breastfeeding, and insisted that she couldn't care for a baby without being able to use a bottle. We parted ways. There was the one who was in school full-time and could only offer us a few hours a week in between classes. There were highly experienced nannies whose rates were beyond our means, and nannies without much experience who made me a little nervous. And then there was Jacinta. And from the moment she walked in and picked up my daughter, I was pretty sure we were going to be okay.

A mom friend who was searching for a nanny recently asked me what makes Jacinta so amazing, and I tried very hard to come up with a concrete list of reasons:

She is responsible, reliable, and incredibly smart—a natural problem solver.

She is deeply loving and sweet with our daughter without ever making us feel replaced or superfluous as parents.

She is very knowledgeable about babies, having worked with many families over a decade of nannying. (This means that when I completely freak out about something my daughter is doing, she is calm and has seen it all before.)

However, she believes every baby is different and really took the time to get to know our daughter's personality and our parenting style without imposing any ideas.

And then I ran out of reasons, because the rest is just a gut feeling. I trust Jacinta absolutely. She's an ally, a friend, a support, a parenting partner. Living so far away from my husband's family and my own, she has become a part of our little family. We are so grateful to have her in our lives.

With Jacinta's stamp of approval, the nanny mafia has gradually come to accept my presence. A few of them even smile and say hello when I show up at the playground, although they refuse to say my name and always refer to me as "Isabel's Mom." When I asked Jacinta about this, she tried to explain.

"They're afraid," she said. "They think you might report them for doing something wrong." I was stunned.

"Report them?! I don't even know any of those families. And it's none of my business. And they all seem so good at this. I have no idea how they handle all those kids."

Jacinta smiled. "That's what I told them. Don't worry, they'll come around."

"Do you talk to other parents in the playground?" I asked.

"Of course," she said. "I talk to everyone. How else can I make sure that person should really be there?"

Last month, one of the little girls from the playground moved with her family to another state. Her nanny Elena was one of the friendlier ones, who always talked to my daughter and invited her to play with them. A week later, I noticed Elena sitting on a bench, surrounded by her friends. She was in tears. I timidly approached the group and asked if she was okay.

"I miss Nora so much," Elena choked out. "I've been with her since she was a week old. I can't believe I won't see her anymore." She sobbed with grief.

"This is what it's like," another nanny said with sympathy. "We love them. And then they go."

All I can say is thank you to all the loving, dedicated nannies out there. Thank you for giving our kids so much of yourselves, knowing that someday, sooner or later, they won't need you anymore, and they will go. Thank you for being friends and heroes to so many moms who feel lost, confused and alone. Thank you.


Why Prenatal Yoga is Amazing for You and Your Baby

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Many thanks go out to Carriage House Birth and Neelu Shruti, a prenatal/ postnatal yoga teacher, birth doula and breastfeeding counselor based in New York City, for this introduction to the many benefits of prenatal yoga.

The benefits of yoga are far-reaching. In an hour of downward facing dogs, sun salutations, and other poses, we can find ways to build strength and flexibility while releasing stress and becoming more mindful. While we can all find benefits in the practice of yoga, there are exceptional benefits to the practice for pregnant women. The prenatal yoga sequence is modified to be safe, and designed to help a woman in all stages of her pregnancy, give her tools to aid in labor and delivery, and continue to be valuable to her after the birth of her child and throughout her recovery.

The benefits of prenatal yoga are too numerous to list, but to name a few, you’ll:

Get a good workout: Exercise is great for you and your baby! Whether you’re a regular runner, spin cyclist, or yogi, keeping up your active lifestyle can be more challenging when you’re pregnant. For starters, your tendons and ligaments become a lot more flexible during pregnancy due to the influx of relaxin in your body, and you’ll want to build muscular strength to prevent injuries. Prenatal yoga offers all of the benefits of maintaining your exercise routine (including helping to reduce stress, control weight, improve health and well-being, maintain a positive mood, boost energy, and get better sleep) while being safe for you and your baby. And if you’re not an exercise junkie, or have let your routine slip a little, now is a great time to start because the healthier you are and the better shape you’re in, the better it is for your baby! There’s even evidence, according to recent studies (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/20/mothers-exercise-may-boost-babys-brain/), that exercising regularly when you’re pregnant can boost your baby’s brain function and make your baby smarter!

Strengthen your abdominal pushing muscles and learn to relax your pelvic floor: Another incredible benefit to prenatal yoga is that incorporated into the sequence are targeted exercises to help strengthen, and improve flexibility in key muscle groups. Doing crunches and plank is neither very comfortable, nor recommended when you’re pregnant, and prenatal yoga offers an excellent alternatives to tone your transverse abs (your deep corset pushing muscles) in a safe manner. Additionally, prenatal yoga targets the key muscle group known as the pelvic floor. The importance of both strength and flexibility in the muscles of the pelvic floor cannot be overstated. The pelvic floor muscles are hammock shaped muscles in the bowl of your pelvis. It is essential that they are strong enough to allow the baby’s head to rotate when descending to push out (like through a turtle neck sweater), and to prevent pelvic organ prolapse, but also that they are flexible enough to open and release to allow the baby through. Labor involves the unique combination of flexing and pushing with your abs while RELAXING your pelvis which can be tricky, and prenatal yoga incorporates ab work, Kegels, and breathing exercises, all of which can help accomplish this challenging balance during delivery. Not only are you learning how to target those areas, you’re learning how to synchronize them, while building strength and flexibility where you’ll need them most.

Learn to deal with discomfort: The therapeutic benefits of yoga are far-reaching. Prenatal yoga can help address common issues such a lumbar lordosis (lower back pain), sacro-iliac pain, sciatica and piriformis pain. The poses can also create space in the torso for better breathing, and include movements that can help to alleviate carpel tunnel syndrome and charley horses, as well as demonstrate positions for better sleep. By working through discomfort with breathing techniques and a focus on mindfulness, you are able to alleviate discomfort, and the practice of challenging yourself and building muscle strength builds your tolerance to pain. In prenatal yoga, the poses are designed to challenge, but not strain your body. Learning to breathe and maintain calm in an intense stretch teaches your body how to react to and manage a stress, so you’ll be better-equipped to handle stressful situations during your pregnancy, and of course, more prepared for labor.

Get your baby in the optimal position: Compared to the benefits of other forms of exercise, the really exceptional benefit of prenatal yoga, is that poses like down dog, cat/cow, and puppy pose gently guide your baby’s head down. That’s right, the more down dogs you do, the more you’re encouraging your baby’s head down toward optimal fetal position. Prenatal yoga counteracts the long periods of hanging out on your couch—which have the exact opposite effect and can encourage breech or posterior (sunny-side-up babies) and result in longer births times and sometimes lead to medical interventions—and helps have you and your baby exactly where you need to be when the time comes.

Learn to breathe: Often, we don’t pay attention to our breath which tends to be shallow as we go about our day-to-day activities. In yoga, we begin to pay attention to our breath, and to teach ourselves to focus on maintaining deep, full breathing. The benefit of the yogic breath is that we become aware of our diaphragm’s movements and begin to use our lungs to a greater extent, engaging their full capacity and allowing a larger intake of oxygen. This focused method of deep breathing calms our mind and allows us to relax and use our muscles more efficiently.

Bond with your baby: Recent studies have shown that the practice of mindfulness allows a mom to recognize, appreciate, and connect with her baby. Embracing a few minutes of quiet time where the distractions of the day fade away allows a mom to focus all of her attention inward and on the baby, and can help her to zoom out, see the big picture, and be less bogged down by the day-to-day frustrations. It also allows her to notice changes in the growing baby and in her own body. The practice of mindfulness builds bond and can even reduce post-partum depression.

Build confidence in your body: When dealing with a growing belly, hormonal changes, back pain, swollen feet, and constantly having to pee, it’s easy to get frustrated with the constant physical changes in your body. It’s important to remember that your body (even with all the discomfort you feel) is strong, healthy, and capable. Practicing yoga—whether it’s finishing your regular sequence, or doing a particularly challenging pose when you’re pregnant—can give you great feeling of accomplishment, and build your confidence and trust in your body and its innate ability to labor and give birth.

Be part of a community: The first few minutes of a prenatal class usually consist of introductions where you’ll be able to discuss issues, discomforts, and concerns with other expecting moms. As the conversation goes around the room, you’ll hear how other moms are dealing with the same issues that you’re facing. This creates a space for sharing and learning from each other, and also allows the instructor to customize each class to fit your needs. Most of all, you’ll meet other moms who are experiencing the same challenging, wonderful changes as you, while pursuing a practice that helps ensure the safest, healthiest, and most joyful outcome for you and your baby.

For more information on prenatal yoga classes, our friends at Love Child Yoga offer classes and workshops for new & expecting mothers.


Family Living Aboard

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Thanks to Brooke Morton at Yachting Magazine for this piece on the art of rearing kids on the water. 

 

Brittany and Scott Meyer were docked at Grenada when they learned she was pregnant. The pair, 36 and 38, had met while racing sailboats across Lake Michigan, so they didn’t blink at the prospect of raising a family aboard their Brewer 44 Asante. They became parents first with Isla, now almost 4, and later with twins Haven and Mira, now 2. With their handmade halyard swing and the unending sandbox that is the British Virgin Islands, the couple sees their decision to bring up all three babies aboard as the ultimate adventurous-life head start.

When did you decide to pull anchor from mainstream life? We knew before we married. Instead of registering for china and Egyptian cotton, we registered for winches and a windlass.

How did your cruising plans change after you had children? Long-distance sailing with three young children is not something we’re interested in. With Isla, we did a five-day sail from Florida to the Bahamas, and that was absolutely doable. But with three kids under 5, rough passages and overnights are really challenging.

Did you undertake any refits to accommodate the kids? We didn’t make permanent changes, but we added a few things, starting with netting around the boat’s perimeter. In the V-berth, we have a giant net made out of Phifertex mesh, the same material patio furniture is made of. The material is waterproof but breathable, and the net makes that space more contained than a crib. We’ve had 6-foot seas bashing into us and the babies sleeping soundly in there.

What’s the response been to your parenting choice? Some people think it’s amazing. Some say it’s selfish.

Selfish? Oh gosh, yes. Because of Brittany’s blog, Windtraveler, we get a ton of email. One lady asked how dare we glamorize boating with children and said we should add a safety disclaimer. She also criticized us for placing the kids on tethers. And Brittany wondered, Don’t most moms use car seats? Some people think we are at sea endlessly, and that is not the case. We spend a great deal of time at the dock at Tortola’s Nanny Cay marina.

What is a typical day like? Most days, the wind is blowing 20 knots. During the evenings, we come back from the beach, hose the kids off and eat dinner. Whatever the girls don’t finish on their plate, they throw overboard to the remoras — they’re squealing as they toss mac and cheese to fish that are going nuts. Then the sun starts to set and the kids wave goodbye. That’s one of the beautiful parts of life on a boat: You rarely miss a sunset. We always say to the sun, “Thanks for another great day.”

Baby Boating Gear: The Fisher-Price Booster Seat is great for keeping little ones restrained while we’re setting anchor. The West Marine infant harness and tether keep us from worrying about a baby going overboard. And Brittany is a big fan of baby wearing. The Ergo Performance baby carrier makes it easy to tote two — one on her front and one on her back — to the dinghy, dock and beyond.

Must-Have Toys: Everything has to pull double duty, like the girls’ wagon also carries boat stuff. As for toys, it’s all about size. Most need to be really compact. Legos are good. We love Magna-Tiles, a magnetic building set that stows flat. And books are crucial. We always make room for more books.


Packing Kids For A Trip: Tips & Tricks

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Special thanks to Eva Amurri Martino at Happily Eva After for this perfect piece that will help you be more than prepared for your last family trip before fall hits.

Last week, while packing Marlowe for our annual family getaway to Maine, I was reflecting upon all the lessons I’ve learned in the last year from packing and unpacking our daughter countless times.  We really do “get up and go” A LOT as a family– having a Daddy who’s gone half the week will do that to you! I’ve noticed that as long as you take your packing mistakes in stride and learn from them, you really can cut down on your stress level and pack the perfect suitcase for your little one fairly easily.  And, if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times: being prepared in advance makes all the difference when it comes to enjoying an experience.  You want a vacation to really feel like one! Today I’m sharing my Tips & Tricks for packing your child’s suitcase– and divulging some of my worst experiences!

I’ve outlined my personal packing list below.  This is what I pack Marlowe for a week long Summer trip! Read through for my favorite items,  my organization tips, little anecdotes, and a easy shopping widget to pick up some of our family faves:

CLOTHING
For a week, I pack Marlowe 9 outfits, 4 sets of Pajamas, and 3 Bathing Suits. This is considering the fact that we will have access to a laundry machine.  The times that we do not have access to a laundry machine, I pack two outfits per day that we are gone, plus 1 basic Tshirt and 1 basic pair of leggings that can pair with anything, in addition to the pajamas and bathing suits.

MAMA TIP:  Fold each outfit, and roll it up together.  Tie with a piece of ribbon, and clip any matching hair accessories on to the cloth.  This will enable you to pack them more easily, and find a clean outfit without rummaging through your child’s suitcase.

OUTERWEAR
In the Summer months, I pack Marlowe 1 light jacket and 1 cardigan.  Usually I bring her cardigan on the plane with us in case the air conditioning is too chilly.

SHOES
Normally, I pack Marlowe 4 pairs of shoes total: 1 pair of comfy sneakers, 1 pair of cute sandals, 1 pair of Mary Janes, and 1 Water Shoe for the beach or lake.  I usually have her travel in the bulkiest pair of shoes (sneakers) for the plane flights.

DIAPERING & BATHING
I pack 1 package of diapers, 1 package of swim diapers, and 1 package of wipes.  I purchase anything additional that I need while on the road.  I pack a toiletries bag just for Marlowe that has diaper ointment, a soap/shampoo, a body lotion, her hairbrush, her toothbrush + toothpaste, hair ties, and a bottle of children’s sunblock

LOVEYS
I always, always, always pack at least 3 Loveys.  One with us on the plane (this becomes the “street Lovey” and is the one that gets dragged around during the day, and at least two additional.  One for night time that remains in her travel crib (and stays clean), and one backup. I learned this the hard way…

NIGHTMARE TALE: Not too long ago, Marlowe got a violent stomach bug while on a trip to visit her grandparents in South Carolina.  She puked all over both of her Loveys within half an hour, and was absolutely inconsolable and miserable while the Loveys went through the washer and dryer for the next 90 minutes.  It took years off of my life.  Now I always pack at least three in case of emergency!

TOYS
When we travel, I always pack 5-7 Toys and 5 books.  The toys include a stuffed animal, a doll, a car or truck, and several plastic animal figurines.  I like these types of toys because they inspire creative play and can be used in different games for hours on end.  I can’t even tell you how many times Marlowe and I have built forts and homes in Hotel Rooms for her animal friends!

MAMA TIP:  Try to select toys and books that your child hasn’t played with or seen in a while.  It’s amazing how absence really does make the heart grow fonder when it comes to toys!

FIRST AID
I’ve learned to pack a little first aid kit when we travel with Marlowe.   You really never know when something will come up and you won’t have access to a medicine or product you need to help your child be more comfortable! Why do the worst fevers and illnesses always strike at night?! I put the kit in a ziploc bag so I can see all of the items well and access them easily.  Here’s what I keep in our Travel First Aid Kit: The NoseFrida, Infant Tylenol, Infant Benadryl, Homeopathic Cold Remedy, Saline Drops, Band aids, Neosporin, Lavender Essential Oil, On Guard Essential Oil, Tea Tree Essential oil, Thermometer.

NIGHTMARE TALE: When Marlowe was only a year and a half, we were traveling with Kyle on the road in the middle of winter, and she came down with croup.  Not only did we not know any doctors in the town, but it was the middle of the night and we were staying at a hotel in a snowstorm.  We ended up having to take an Uber at midnight to a 24 hour CVS very far away to find medicine to make her more comfortable until the morning when we were able to get to urgent care.  Now I travel with the essentials!

ZIPLOCK BAGS
I always pack 3 or 4 gallon sized Ziplock bags when we travel.  You never know what they’ll come in handy for, and are great for wet or dirty clothes that you need to bring home.  Kids always love taking that extra dip in the Hotel pool right before you pack up to leave…

BED TIME GEAR
The bed time routine is definitely the most important in our house.  It’s what keeps Lowie sleeping well, keeps her parents sane, and keeps our trips and vacations feeling “vacation-y”.  I ALWAYS make sure we have everything we need to recreate her normal nighttime experience while on the road.  Do it or suffer the consequences! Ha! For Marlowe’s bed time routine, I pack:

1 Travel Crib (she isn’t allowed to sleep in bed with us ever), 1 Sound Machine, 2 Sleep Sacks (one backup), 1 Mermaid Doll, 1 Baby Monitor, 1 Bottle. We use the baby monitor if we are at a house or someplace where her sleeping area is out of earshot.  It makes me able to relax more knowing I can hear her if she needs me, even if I’m in a different part of the house. We bring the bottle because Marlowe still has warm milk in a bottle at night before bed.  I’m planning on transitioning out of this when she turns two…which should be interesting… (YIKES)

NIGHTMARE TALE: We were traveling six or seven months ago, and I forgot to pack a bottle.  Cut to 9pm, my kid is still not asleep and freaking out because she didn’t have her bottle before bed.  The next day I set out to try to find a bottle but the only ones available had the infant flow nipples and frustrated her even more.  All in all a really terrible few nights of sleep for all of us! Yahtzee!

STOW ESSENTIALS IN A CARRY-ON
I have also learned this the hard way when our suitcase has gotten lost with all of my child’s perfectly packed and organized belongings.  Many thanks to Target for saving the day that day (about a thousand dollars later…) Now I bring a carry-on on the plane with us that has 24 hours worth of essentials.
1 swimsuit
1 change of clothes
1 set of pajamas
1 sleepsack
1 lovey
cribsheet
1 bottle
6 extra diapers

Of course I always remember to pack my adorable toddler as well.  She’s a little bulky and rambunctious, but she really does make our trips that much more enjoyable…most of the time.


8 Reasons You Need a Housekeeper

Thanks to Ilene Jacobs at Care.com for this piece:

If you've ever debated hiring a housekeeper, you might have come up with a list of reasons why you shouldn't: it's a luxury you can't afford or it's a sign of laziness. But have you ever thought about why you should?

Outsourcing your house cleaning is a way to manage your time more efficiently and it can be affordable, even for those on a tight budget.

Whether you're busy with a family and career, or just want some occasional help around the house, getting a cleaning service is not only practical, it be a lifesaver. Here are some valid reasons you may need to hire some help.

You Work Full Time 
After a busy 9-5, using your time off from work to clean the house depletes your energy and limits your availability to enjoy other activities. You might not need a daily housekeeper, but having someone clean once or twice a month will give you more time to do the things you enjoy or need get done.

Jennifer Thomas, a clinical psychologist and single mom from Minneapolis, Minn. says that without the help of her housekeeper, she would get less done and get much less sleep: "I have a housekeeper to free up my limited time to do important activities with my son and also take care of myself: doing yoga, walking outside, reading and spending time with friends and family."

You Have a Busy Family Life 
It's hard to find time or energy for family outings and date nights when you spend your time cleaning, cooking and taking care of your children. If your schedule is already overwhelming, keeping the house in order becomes a daunting task that can take a toll on your marriage, as well as your health.

Author Melanie Bowden from Davis, Calif., has her hands full between writing, teaching and being a mother of two. Housework was the main issue she and her husband fought over. "I felt very frazzled when I had to keep up with all of the cleaning without outside help and I grew resentful toward my husband that he wasn't doing more," she says. Hiring a housekeeper not only lowered her stress level, but also kept her marriage intact. "I just love coming home to a clean house on those days -- particularly when the bed sheets have been changed -- that's my favorite part," she adds. According to Bowden, having a housekeeper is a valuable time-management tool that everyone should consider.

You Enjoy Entertaining 
Whether you're putting on a large event or just having company over, you don't need to add cleaning to your to-do list. Save your time -- and your energy -- for the party by hiring someone to clean your home before and after the event. Even if you're just having people over for dinner or to spend the weekend, knowing your housecleaning is taken care of takes the load off of you, and leaves you time to prepare for their arrival and enjoy the visit.

You Don't Know How to Clean 
Remember all those times your mom tried to teach you how to clean? Good. Now, do you remember anything she actually said? We didn't think so. Cleaning isn't as easy as just turning on a vacuum. There are tips and tricks you learn with time or experience. Don't know how to clean your home? Hire a housekeeper to show you. She can clean it a few times and demonstrate the best methods. But be careful; you may like just having her do it -- and that's okay too!

You Don't Like Cleaning 
Who does? But some people are better at it than others. Just because cleaning isn't your forte, doesn't mean you're lazy. Why waste your time and efforts doing something you're not good at, when you can have someone else do it? If cleaning takes you hours and you hate every minute of it, hire a housekeeper and devote that time to something more productive. If hiring someone to clean weekly strains your budget, find someone to deep clean once a month. That way, you'll be better equipped to keep the house tidy the rest of the time on your own.

You Have Elderly Family 
You might not want or need someone to clean your own home, but your aging parents or other relatives might need help. As people get older, it becomes harder to take care of daily chores and housekeeping tasks. A disorderly home is a health hazard for the elderly. A cluttered floor can cause them to fall and eating from dirty dishes can make them ill.

Barbara Berta of Colorado Springs, Colo., hired a housekeeper to tidy her father's apartment once a week. "My dad had diabetes, so between his illness and his age, it was hard for him to keep his home as clean as he would have liked," she says. "I already had my hands full with chores around my own home, so the housekeeper was a huge help when it came to making sure my dad had a comfortable and clean living space."

If your aging parents need more help than just cleaning, hire a senior care aide who can care for them, run errands and provide light cleaning around the home.

You Have a New Baby 
A new baby in the house means lots of extra cleaning and laundry -- more than exhausted new parents may be able to handle. A housekeeper can help pick up the slack while you get used to your new routine. Family or friends want to pitch in and get you a gift? Instead of flowers, suggest they chip in for a housekeeper to help you out for a few weeks.

You Deserve a Treat 
Sometimes you just need a break. Manicures and massages are great, but you can also pamper yourself by hiring someone to clean every once in a while. It's a nice luxury that will give you some extra time to yourself. Go ahead, you've earned it!

Ilene Jacobs is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas. 


How to Teach Your Children to Care about Art

Special thanks to Casey Lesser at Artsy for this piece

Upon entering Frieze New York last May, I ran into a colleague with his two small children. As we crossed the threshold of the bustling fair tent, the kids sprang into action, making a beeline for a red Carsten Hölleroctopus. They promptly plopped down beside it and began a discussion—“What is it made of?” and “Why is it red?” were among preliminary questions. A month or so later I’d see them again, this time in Chelsea, marvelling over Jordan Wolfson’s animatronic puppet at David Zwirner. Even to a stranger, it would have been clear that for these children, going to see art was an integral part of their lives. Their intense engagement with art (a level of enthusiasm that many adults struggle to maintain) begged some questions. What is it about art that commands a child’s attention? What impact can art have on a child’s development? And more broadly, what can be done to instill an appreciation of art in children?

To find answers, I turned to experts in the field who work at the intersections of children’s education and art. While primarily focusing on programs provided by museum spaces, I also consulted with other arts professionals and educators to establish a more complete picture of the underlying factors that can contribute to a child’s early appreciation of art—and how it affects a young person’s brain.

 

The benefits of art in early childhood

Over the past decade, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has found strong evidence showing that art can have a positive effect on young children (infants through eight-year-olds). A December 2015 NEA literature review conducted by program analyst Melissa Menzer, for example, found connections between the arts—including music, theater, visual arts, and literature—and social and emotional skills such as “helping, caring, and sharing activities.”

NEA arts education specialist Terry Liu, meanwhile, has found that more and more arts education grants are being funneled into the integration of arts with other disciplines in early childhood. “Teaching artists or organizations that have artists skilled in working with early childhood age groups are working with parents or Head Start centers to help them incorporate arts education and learning at this very early age,” Liu notes. In other words, art is no longer being siloed as a creative pursuit, but rather used “as a means to help children learn other subjects.”

Even further, Liu points to an increase in initiatives that are not just “reflecting on art and learning about art,” but also employing art to “make sense of how it relates to your understanding of the world.” Young people are being taught that art connects to the world around you. 

Multiple other studies have found a correlation between artmaking and emotional regulation, which is a central tenet of art therapy. Psychologist Jennifer Drake, an assistant professor at Brooklyn College, for example, has conducted studies around the relationship between drawing and emotional regulation among children and adults. Working with children in the six- to twelve-year-old range, these studies have proven that drawing can assuage the negative emotions a person feels upon being told to recall the details surrounding a sad personal event. These results are bolstering institutional programs and encouraging parents to engage children in the arts from an early age—but how?

 

Integrate looking and making  

To start, it’s a cornerstone of art education programs to cultivate a symbiotic relationship between looking at art and creating it. In museums, it’s become standard practice for educators to develop art-making programs that engage audiences with the works in a current exhibition or permanent collection. 

New York’s Whitney Museum, for example, has developed a vast array of programs to engage children of all ages (beginning with Stroller Tours for newborns and new parents), but one of its most popular programs is Open Studio, an in-house art studio led by graduate students that allows families to visit freely and create art on the weekends. “It’s a drop-in art-making program” says Billie Rae Vinson, coordinator of Family Programs, over the phone. “It’s a way to explore the artwork through some kind of material exploration.”

A day in the Open Studio program might involve crafting collages inspired by the high contrast found in an Edward Steichen photograph. “In museums it’s great to have discussions, but what do artists do?” asks Vinson. “They make stuff. We’ve got to get families making stuff.” The goals of this are double-pronged: to connect families with the activities of artists and to inspire creativity. “We’re not trying to be derivative or make parents or children copy or make little versions of the artworks on view; we want them to be inspired by these artists and then run with it for themselves.”

Similar models have been adopted by museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago, which has a daily artist’s studio program. “Art-making in the museum can be very powerful because it allows children to connect their own imaginative ways of making with art they see around them in the galleries,” says Jacqueline Terrassa, Chair of Museum Education there.

Despite this, the Art Institute recently saw a need to direct more attention back to the museum’s exhibitions. “We wanted to find a fun, interactive solution to the challenge of how to make the museum feel accessible and navigable for families,” Terrassa says. “Often families will come to the Art Institute and stay in the Ryan Learning Center instead of also exploring the galleries.” This past spring the museum launched a new digital initiative, JourneyMaker, which allows families to create custom tours through the museum focused around eight storylines, including superheroes, time travel, and strange and wondrous beasts.

In making their children’s programs family-focused, both the Whitney and the Art Institute have recognized not only that children often need a parent or guardian for supervision, but also the powerful shared experiences that children and adults can have while learning about and making art together. And as such, these programs become communal spaces for families. “I talked to one dad who told me that for him it was a bit like New York’s living room,” Vinson says of the Whitney’s space. “He told me his son learned to walk in our Open Studio while his daughter was making art.”

 

Create flexible, communal spaces for experiencing art 

The idea of a communal space for art exploration is popular across numerous museums. The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling, located on the ground floor of the David Adjaye-designed Sugar Hill Project in Harlem, which opened last October, has a large central gallery space called The Living Room. Currently painted with a vibrant narrative mural by artist Saya Woolfalk (in collaboration with her four-year-old daughter), it is dotted with bright orange benches and tables, where families gather to see and make art, and participate in music and storytelling performances.

In adjacent spaces are a dedicated art studio, and gallery spaces—one for rotating exhibitions developed by contemporary artists, sometimes in collaboration with children, and one for shows done in partnership with fellow museums El Museo del Barrio and The Studio Museum in Harlem. “One of the reasons this museum was formed was as a lab to see what happens when art education and curatorial exhibitions coexist,” Associate Director of Curatorial Programs Lauren Kelley tells me, “to see if there can be a more democratic approach to programming, as opposed to the exhibitions being the reason for education to have tasks.”

She emphasizes that artmaking and art education are not separated from engaging with the exhibitions—all of which involve the work of children, to varying degrees. The current show by Shani Peters was inspired by the artist’s work with children. Exhibitions such as this one have been successful in dissembling “the sense of sacredness associated with what it means to be a viewer, which can lead to people feeling really uncomfortable,” says Kelley. “We hope that we can disarm that from children at an early age, and then they leave here wanting to go to the Met, feeling like ‘this makes sense to me.’”

The Children’s Museum of the Arts (CMA) also integrates exhibition and art-making spaces. The museum’s tagline, “Look, Make, Share,” encompasses their approach to combining careful looking, art making, and dialogues around art. Artmaking activities here often relate to a central themed group exhibition (the current show focuses on sports; the next will be outer space) in its main gallery, which is flanked by multiple specialized studios. There is also a Clay Bar, where families can sign up to create playful sculptures.

“Making art familiar, an everyday event, rather than something isolated, also helps children become comfortable with it,” Terrassa offers. “Art is not only inside the museum—it’s all around you.” Jessica Hamlin, a professor of Arts Education at NYU Steinhardt, agrees. “There’s this constant back-and-forth between looking at works of art—how they can be looked at and understood, and building language and appreciation around them—and also the making,” she says. “But there’s a third piece: general aesthetic appreciation. We can bring that eye and that thinking to things we see in life.”


Building children’s confidence in what they see

CMA executive director Barbara Hunt McLanahan believes it’s all about encouraging what comes naturally to children: curiosity. “I think that in a way you don’t instill an appreciation of art in children, children already have it.”

In her experience during Sugar Hill’s first year, Kelley has found this to be true as well. “They really are excited about people having faith in them,” she explains. “I think children really just appreciate you giving them the space and the square footage to play with materials. We don’t always give them prompts, sometimes we just see what happens; we say to them, ‘what do you think you can do with these stickers? This tape? You choose, you figure it out.’ We respect them as capable.”

Adults are prone to decidedly affirm whether they’re artistic or not; that they understand art or they don’t. “So many adults come to the museum and say ‘I never did this because I wasn’t any good at art,’” McLanahan offers, “and our answer to that is ‘You probably were, but you were being told that maybe you weren’t good at drawing, perhaps you weren’t introduced to printmaking or abstract art. You were being asked to draw in a representational way and you didn’t enjoy that.” She adds that attitudes about what does and does not qualify as art are mostly limited to adults. “Children are way more open-minded.”

There are times when adults introduce judgements into the artmaking environment, and teachers at CMA have to step in. “I worry that we often teach creativity out of students rather than integrating it into the way we want all students to think of themselves, whether they become artists or not,” Hamlin says. “[Making art] correlates with development and brain science. It’s nurture and nature, not versus.” Hamlin notes that elementary school art classes that focus on skills and provide guidelines for what drawing should look like can be detrimental. “I think an emphasis on driving home skills-based instruction can be difficult for early childhood—it reinforces that there are good skills and bad skills, that there are people who have skills and people who don’t.”

In her studies on correlations between drawing and mood regulation, Drake found that in the 10- to 12-year-old age range, children become critical of their drawings skills. “They start to understand that they have limitations and that they can be good in some things and not at other things,” Drake says. “Six- to eight-year-olds are really absorbed in drawing, they can get more lost in it.”

In order to encourage creativity, many museums have adopted an inquiry-based approach, whereby educators prompt children through open-ended questions—emphasizing that there’s no right answer—in order to elicit ideas and incite discussion around art. “It’s really about asking them, ‘What do you see? How does it make you feel? What do you think the artist meant here? Why did they use this material?’ and encouraging them to have confidence in their answers,” says McLanahan. “We encourage you to have confidence in your ability to look and understand, but then we want you to respect someone else’s creativity and someone else’s opinion when we share.”

 

Don’t dumb it down

Understanding the simple fact that children want to be spoken to like adults, and that cossetting them at a young age can be a hindrance to their development, is central for many art educators. “There’s nothing about our exhibiting artists that makes them suited to children,” McLanahan says of CMA’s program. “It’s just that we’re actively encouraging children to use their minds and think about the work and talk about the work.” Underlying this approach is a recognition of the innate sophistication of children.

CMA puts on shows of emerging and established contemporary artists (the current show includes Hank Willis Thomas, Dario Escobar, and Zoe Buckman, among others); at Sugar Hill, Kelley is engaging contemporary artists living in Upper Manhattan. “If you dumb it down, if you think that children only like graffiti or cartoons or Keith Haring—it’s a dead end,” McLanahan advises. “We have wall labels that explain what the artist’s intentions are, we try not to use jargon, and we don’t over-explain the work.”

At the Art Institute, an encyclopedic museum that not only caters to all ages but a vast array of international audiences, a similar mindset prevails. “No art, no matter how abstract or supposedly ‘difficult,’ is off-limits for children,” Terrassa notes. “That said, some artwork, because of style or content, might resonate more at different stages of life. For example, artwork that engages with questions of identity might be great for teens, and highly experiential, abstract works can be a hit with very little ones.” She acknowledges that there will be art that may not reflect a family’s values, in which case it is up to a parent or guardian’s discretion.

While visual culture is often boiled down to its essential elements of shape and color, especially for younger audiences, it’s important to keep ideas and narratives top of mind. “Sometimes we underestimate what young kids are able to talk about and do, and read into things,” Hamlin notes. “It’s important to present a balance of pure, aesthetic elements and principles with an understanding of art as a form of communication that helps us talk, express, and connect with each other and with diverse experiences.”

 

Expose children to the contemporary art world

More and more, museums, schools, and community organizations are recruiting contemporary artists to teach children. The Whitney regularly holds artist-led workshops; all teachers at CMA are practicing artists; and Sugar Hill has an artist in residence each year who interacts with children at the museum, as well as its affiliate preschool. “As social practice art gains traction in the art world and that becomes a way of thinking about what artists can do, museums are really being receptive to artists wanting to do more than just put their objects in a museum,” Hamlin says of this trend. “Artists should be real human beings for kids, not just mythical characters.”

 

And many artists are eager to engage with children. “It’s important to me to give the children in the communities I work with a voice for their stories and a way to share those stories,” says David Shrobe, the first artist in residence at Sugar Hill, “and this is a space I was able to activate, a space for community.”

While museums have done well to recruit contemporary artists to teach in their institutions, children are rarely exposed to other roles they may pursue in the art world. One program addressing this absence is Frieze Teens, part of the non-profit arm of Frieze New York, a small but strong annual program that grants access to the contemporary art world to a group of 25 New York City public school students each year.

Participating teens from underserved communities are exposed to many facets of the art world, in hope of inspiring them to pursue a career in the field. “By seeing a work from its inception in a studio with the artists and then tracking through critics, curators, gallerists, fabricators, non-profits etc.—really anyone and everyone involved in that process—it gives these kids access to the full range of ways one could engage and participate in the art world,” Molly McIver, Head of Operations at Frieze New York told me.

But even more than presenting young people with career options, contemporary art offers an entrypoint into a more expansive, diverse understanding of art. Hamlin points out that the art historical canon that we lean so heavily on is no longer representative of the majority of students who are learning from it—in terms of gender, ethnicity and social, political, and sexual identities. “I think that we’re seeing the limitations of that canon, and yes there’s amazing work and beautiful work, but artists have been making work all over the world for thousands of years, and that’s a really important part of the conversation.”

But it won’t come easy. “There’s a whole set of things that teachers have to work against to bring the contemporary into their coursework,” says Hamlin. In addition to combating entrenched biases toward producing aesthetically pleasing objects, it’s hard for teachers to keep up with a continually shifting art world. “It’s a large hill to climb—there are changing ideas and notions around what art is, what art education can be, what artistic practices are, there’s this constantly evolving landscape of art practice.” So while there is a growing recognition of the importance of children engaging with art, manifold challenges remain.

“I think a lot of museums are really reassessing what it means to cater to this wee demographic,” Kelley tells me at Sugar Hill. “The obvious fact is that you’re building an audience from the ground up, and you’re tapping into a demographic that usually feels excluded—limited by a museum experience of ‘please don’t touch.’ We do not have any answers yet, but being allowed to be in this kind of lab, we can be ambitious with what we’re going to test out.” That’s all we can ask.

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