The Scary Reality of Drowning in Young Children

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I recently took an online DCF Daycare In-Service training course on drowning and water safety and I learned so much about the realities and myths of drowning in young children that I felt that I needed to write about it to inform other parents of facts, information, and a simulated video of what a drowning person looks like (acting but still very real-looking) to help parents and caregivers alike learn what drowning really looks like so if you see it happening, you know what to look for and what course of action to take.

This is one of the more difficult topics to discuss and learn about because we all feel heart-wrenching pain at the thought or sight of someone dying from drowning. But the only way to help prevent the instance is to know about it, know what it looks like through watching videos, and through taking preventative measures to ensure that safety and supervision are of #1 importance. Because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Videos to Watch Now

Recognize the Signs of Drowning

Steps to Save Someone From Drowning

What Does an Actual Drowning Look Like?

Drowning Signs Aren’t Like the Movies (Real Footage)

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I learned that it only takes 15-60 seconds for a young child to FULLY drown. This is way shorter a time than it would take for an adult, but it’s still in the blink of an eye. “Both fatal [death] and non-fatal [survival]  drowning are quiet and quick, with no signs of struggle. With no sound and almost no movement, it’s hard to spot a drowning child.”

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Prevention of Drowning in Young Children:

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Subtle Signs of a High-Quality Daycare

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Daycare businesses want customers and will use words such as “child-centered”, “individualized”, “creative curriculum”,  “high-quality”, and “accredited” to bait customers. But how can you tell if their service is actually good or not? It’s harder to do than you’d imagine, but here are my insider tips into finding out.

  1. Find out if the provider is good with kids or not.
    This one can be tricky, but it’s fairly easy to tell if you know what to look for. If they easily redirect a child’s behavior, take the child’s safety as more important than the conversation you’re having with them, get down on the child’s level when speaking to them, don’t force a hug or other “touches”, immediately console a child that is hurt or sad, and seem to have a confident and calm way of handling these situations, then they are naturally (or trained) to be good with children and help them form positive habits.
  2. “Accredited” simply means that the business paid a fee ($900-$1200) to have someone come and observe the facility and give a thumbs up. It’s not really an indicator of quality.
    While an accredited business may have more financial investment in their business, it also means that you, as a customer of that business, are now paying for that stamp of approval. A hike in costs can be 20% of the would-be rate you would’ve had. Businesses know that consumers want assurance of standards and that most parents don’t do much research but instead go off of marketing and qualifiers the business can list.
  3. The food served at a daycare is a good indicator of its overall quality.
    If a daycare center is $200/week and makes parents supply food, drinks, wipes, diapers, clean bed linens weekly etc. versus a daycare home that is $180/week that provides homemade (sometimes organic) food, beverages, wipes, and cleans bed linens… which one is a better value? As a parent myself, I’d prefer the easier route on my end that also provides my child with the best opportunities, food, and experience. Most parents don’t have time or resources to pack a well-balanced lunch for their finicky toddler and so a daycare that provides quality meals is an indicator of quality all-around.
  4. Is the daycare area spic and span when you arrive for pick-up? That may not be a good thing!
    You’d think that arriving to a daycare for pick-up that’s clean and tidy means that you’re getting high-quality care, right? Well if you think of it from this perspective, maybe you’ll change your mind: children for the last 45 minutes of daycare are told to sit on a rug and to only look at books until their parents arrive while the daycare provider tidies up the room, cleaning floors, windows, toys, bottles, sippy cups, etc. So instead of letting them have fun until pick-up, the provider puts their needs ahead of the children. Not quality.
  5. Are you told/shown what is expected of you as a parent or left wondering how things work?
    A good daycare business is organized and will show and/or tell its parents how things work, when payment is due, what holidays are observed, what their late policy is, what take-home assignments are to be done, their policy on birthday parties and treats, how drop-off and pick-up are done, how to sign in and out, of any major events coming up, etc. If their communication or language skills aren’t fluent and proactive, then they are likely unorganized and/or low-quality.
  6. Do the children have at least 30 minutes of outdoor play daily?
    Children need to burn off some steam and to get their bodies stronger as they grow. Gross and fine motor skills are developed through outdoor play. Gross motor being things like climbing, running, jumping and fine motor being things like picking up leaves, touching tree bark, and blowing bubbles. Without outdoor play time (or at least a larger, separate area for gross motor play in inclement weather), it’s likely that the kids will go stir-crazy and be wound up all day being indoors.
  7. Art experiences are important but the kind of project needs to be open-ended and not aimed to get a specific finished result.
    The best kinds of art that children can do is where they are given materials, paper, and are left to it. My favorite creations that my son makes are the kind that are totally open-ended: one he put cut-out triangles and pompoms onto a glued piece of paper. Another was one that he stuck pieces of shredded pieces of tissue paper onto a glued piece of paper. They are my favorites because it was entirely his creation, not some contrived thing that all the kids made and had help with. This was just his art. Too bad he ripped them up while playing one day!  😥
  8. A variety of toys for both boys and girls plus a mix of simple, current stage, and challenging toys and play materials.
    There needs to be dolls and house toys for boys and cars and building blocks for girls. Children this young don’t have gender roles engraved into their brains yet which makes it the best time for letting them explore all kinds of toys and make-believe experiences. Young boys go on to become fathers one day and young girls go on to have math and science in school, so there needs to be a focus of well-roundedness for all children attending. In addition, there should be room for growth. Children need to have toys that challenge them and make them think to a new level- this is how they grow and become smarter and solve bigger and bigger “problems” every day.
  9. Safety should always be #1!
    Take a look around and note if the following things that indicate safety: outlet covers, no items that can be pulled down and cause harm in the daycare area, tall bookcases/shelves should be bolted to the wall, glass decor or drinking glasses should not be used, pacifiers need to be stored separately from others to prevent germ-swapping, hands need to be washed often and by everyone (daycare provider and children), doors to the outside need to remain locked and closed, animals should be kept away from the daycare area, yard outside should not have animal waste in it, yard needs to be fenced with no means of escape, gate latch should be out of reach for a child, children should never be left unattended (especially near water or in the bathroom), hazardous chemicals should be stored up high and away from children, cabinet locks and other childproofing of cabinets should be used, diaper changing station should have an impermeable surface that is cleaned and/or sanitized often, dirty diapers should be changed promptly to avoid rashes, cooking knives should be stored safely and out of reach, children should not be in the kitchen when cooking tasks are going on, burner turn-ons should not be accessible by little hands, etc.
  10. Go with your gut!
    If you sense that there’s something amiss or if your child cries every time you drop them off, then that could be a sign that the provider isn’t meeting your child’s needs or that your child doesn’t feel welcome there. It’s normal for the first week or so for a bit of fussing or crying at drop-off, but if your child turns away from a provider and has a scared look on their face, then you may need to look elsewhere for your daycare needs.

Teaching Your Child to Be an Adventurous Eater

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Many people think that children have limited tastes and don’t care to have exotic foods or even regular adult food. But as children across the globe show, taste buds need to be stretched and then they can like many things.

Most American parents, it seems, feed their kids things like: crackers, cookies, pretzles, cheese, fruit snacks, mac n cheese, and other “junk”-esque food. They do it partially because they know their kids will like it and partially because it’s easy. Simple to buy, store, prepare, etc, but it doesn’t provide much “broadening of the horizons” that children need in order to try and like a wide variety of foods.

Did you know that it can take up to 14 times of trying a food before a child can like it? Maybe even more. So just because Freddie tried peas one time and made a face doesn’t mean that he won’t ever like them, just that he didn’t like them today. And we all have “food moods”, even as adults. Some days I don’t feel like having potatoes but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them. Just means that my tastes and cravings change from day to day.

Stretching food boundaries is very important. The best way to go about it is to provide 1 new ingredient or element each meal or snack to introduce it gradually. You can add a bit of prepared mustard to a sauce, add some capers in with a lemon white wine sauce, mix in some quinoa with a casserole lunch, or have a painter’s palette of colorful food purées for children to try and play with.

Tactile experiences (playing with food) are just as important as trying new foods. Children learn through play and through “doing” so they learn about textures, food, and science through playing with their food, mouthing it, squishing it, and tasting it.

If your child is displeased with the taste of a food and spits it out, show them where to put it (napkin, back on the plate, etc) and then say, “Thank you for trying the __peas__. Remember that you don’t have to like it, just to try it.” Or a simpler version if you’d like.

My son (who is turning 2) likes: eggs, salmon, brie, feta, beets, yogurt, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, and green veggie juice! Just remember that you’ll need to be persistent with trying new foods, and don’t give up! The best way to let children try new foods is to give them some food off your plate- either while out to eat or at your own dinner table. Make sure that you’re setting a good example, too. If a child sees their parent with no veggies on their plate, better figure they’re not enticed to eat them either!

The Power Of “Hygge”—A.K.A. The Danish Concept Of Cozy Together Time

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Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano  at Mothermag.com

Parenting practices around the world are fascinating to us, which is why we continue to take a deep dive into the methods used in Denmark, a.k.a. the “happiest place in the world.” Here, we carry on our series with the authors of The Danish Way of Parenting, Jessica Alexander and Iben Sandahl. The two have already helped us tackle the “Danish way” principles of the power of play, the importance of teaching empathy, and no-ultimatums parenting. Below, we quizzed them on the Danish concept of “hygge,” a theory that we think all families could use in today’s hyper-“connected” digitally driven world.

What exactly is hygge?
“Hygge (pronounced hooga) is a word that dates back to the 19th century and is derived from the Germanic word hyggja, which means to think or feel satisfied. Many people think of hygge as being ‘cozy’ but that only brushes the surface of a much deeper concept. Hygge is a verb, a noun, an adjective, an identity-related symbol, a mood to be in, a feeling, and it can even have moral implications. But at the heart of it, hygge is about creating intimacy, connectedness, conviviality, and fluid togetherness with friends and family. Danes are raised on hygge, so they do it naturally without even thinking about it. It is such an integral part of their cultural fabric that most Danes don’t even realize there are unspoken rules to hygge. We believe that the Danes’ ability to hygge is one of the main reasons they are so happy. They teach their children this skill and they grow up to pass the tradition onto their familes. Hygge is creating a safe zone of togetherness, which makes it easy for all family members to take part in it at all times during any point in their lives. Through the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, hygge serves as a safe, comfortable, judgment-free zone for connection.”

How does this safe zone of togetherness work?
“Try to picture a room. Inside this room is hygge. As everyone arrives they take off their drama and leave it at the door. Their work issues, their negativity about others, judgments, complaining, bragging, highly controversial topics. All of these things get left outside so that when people enter the hygge space, no one feels like they have to put their guard up, compete, or be defensive. That would absolutely not be hyggeligt. The key is that while you all ‘hygger sig’ (cozy around together), everyone should be able to feel that they can really relax and connect. It’s a space to be free from the outside world and stressors and personal issues and just be present in the moment. There are plenty of other times in our life to stress out and focus on what we don’t like about life or others, but while you are in the hygge space, it is about ‘we’ time, not ‘me’ time. You are not there to compete but to connect. Everyone has to work together to make hygge happen, helping out so that not one person gets stuck doing all the work. Playing games is a great way to hygge, for example, because it involves everyone, it’s fun and it’s a way to avoid drama and be present. These moments make clean, warm memories that our children absorb and thrive on. They are very good for us, too. The payoff is huge.”

Explain the payoff.
“The payoff of hygge is that it can dramatically improve wellbeing. All the scientific research now shows that spending quality time with friends and family brings more happiness than almost anything else in the world, including money. And yet, many of our get-togethers are marred with negativity, complaining, drama, and disappointment. Hygge is a way to make those designated times safe zones; cozy and drama-free places where you can get that much needed connection to the ones you love. And it works by focussing on the group and the moment and acting as a team.”

How can American families incorporate hygge into their lives?
“Hygge is something that needs to be talked about and created together, so we created a ‘hygge oath‘ that you can find on our site to help people understand it. It is something that familes can look at together and print out if they want and talk about. That way everyone knows what it is and how it works. For periods of time anyone can make hygge happen. We know the hygge oath works because families have already tried it with success. Our hope is that the more hygge spreads, the easier it will be to cultivate some of that cozy connectedness outside of Denmark. Maybe one day, it could even become a regular term we use here in the U.S. The main thing to remember is that ‘hygge’ is for a limited time. If it’s tough and you feel like screaming at your mother-in-law or you are getting tired of thinking about ‘we’ instead of ‘me,’ just remember it’s only for another hour or two. Stress, negativity, and ‘my issues’ are all just outside of hygge’s door. The longterm benefits of creating warm, cozy, drama-free memories for your children are immeasurable. And it feels good for us, too. While it may take a little effort for us to implement hygge, it will come naturally for our children when they grow up. And we think these safe, cozy zones of togetherness are a worthwhile legacy of wellbeing worth leaving.”

For more Danish parenting advice, scoop up The Danish Way Of Parenting: A Guide To Raising The Happiest Kids in the World. Plus, for any of you taking the hygge oath, feel free to share your experience on Facebook for a chance to be featured on The Danish Way and win a signed book.

“Building a Pantry” Stockpile Over Time

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Cooking from home saves money and improves health but many people think it’s expensive to have a variety of food in a week. Initially it can be overwhelming if you’re starting at 0 and “building a pantry” as I call it (getting basic staples in your cupboards, fridge, and dry pantry to easily make most dishes and desserts). But if you know what you like to cook and eat the most, that can help guide you on building your pantry.

These are the top 21 things you’ll need no matter what cuisine you prepare. Remember that larger quantities are cheaper per ounce so buy refillable containers, if possible.

  • salt and pepper
  • spices (buy them as you need them based on recipes you’re making. I advise first getting basics like: oregano, basil, Italian, paprika, chili powder, ground mustard, parsley, cumin) (in the Ethnic aisle, there are common spices for a fraction of the cost of McCormick and other brand-name spices)
  • butter
  • milk and/or heavy cream (half and half)
  • cheeses that you use (American, grated real Parmesan and cheddar, etc)
  • canned diced tomatoes
  • stocks/broths (2 veggie, 8 chicken, 2 beef)
  • flour
  • sugar
  • brown sugar
  • vinegar
  • real ketchup
  • prepared mustard and/or dijon mustard
  • real maple syrup (keep in the fridge for longevity)
  • frozen meats (portioned for each intended use- I buy large sizes of ground beef from Costco then portion it into 1-pound quantities and then wrap it in foil, label it, and freeze it. Any meat can be frozen before its expiration date- chicken, turkey, beef, ground meats)
  • grains like: oatmeal, quinoa (has protein), barley, buckwheat, etc
  • sweet pickles (chopped up, they’re relish)
  • eggs
  • rice (jasmine and basmati are very fragrant and flavorful white varieties. brown and wild rice are great with a more nutty flavor)
  • nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew, etc)
  • canned vegetables (corn, beans, chickpeas, etc)

Staples for Cookware and Utensils:

  • spatula ($3-$10)
  • rubber scraper ($5-$10)
  • frying pan ($25-$50)
  • large skillet pan with lid (10″ or 12″) ($50)
  • stockpot with lid (can buy Farberware set on Ebay for $80 with 4-5 pots with lids)
  • large stockpot with lid ($25)
  • dutch oven/soup pot with lid ($40 or so off Ebay)
  • grater ($10)
  • chef’s knife ($10-$50)
  • cutting boards ($10-$15)
  • spoons, forks, knives
  • measuring cups and measuring spoons ($5-$10)
  • mixing bowls of multiple sizes ($10-$20)
  • whisk ($5-$10)
  • digital meat thermometer ($10)
  • rice cooker & steamer ($25-$40)

Once you have some basic supplies, try to make simple recipes that don’t require a lot of ingredients (like Italian dishes, meat & potatoes kind of meals, and soups). Every week or so, try and add more ingredients to your pantry and more spices to your collection. I would add 1-2 spices a paycheck and eventually built up my spice pantry.

I remember when I first moved out of my parents’ house that I spent probably $300 worth of groceries and staples ontop of about $800 worth of kitchen supplies (including food processor, blender, and KitchenAid Mixer) and it was overwhelming. But if you invest in good-quality supplies and ingredients, you’ll have the tools necessary to make meals for years. I am an experienced cook with many years experience, so having the right supplies is very desirable for me.

Over time I’ve added other things to my supplies like: a mandolin slicer, KitchenAid Mixer attachment: shredders and slicers, etc.

“All Daycare Kids Do is Play !” : Why This is How They Learn

Many parents in the US are concerned with their children’s academic performance and look for a daycare environment that has “teaching” included in the curriculum. Children under age 5 learn best through “play” because they haven’t developed the literacy skills to learn through long lectures, reading, or through searching information online (haha). Children 0-5 are preliteracy age (meaning “not able to read”) and they learn best through hands-on activities.

In the toddler through pre-k years, children want to explore their environment and everything in it. From touching things, pushing them, carrying them around, throwing them, turning them around and upside-down, children this age LOVE to be moving. They crawl under things, over things, and try to make the most of their environment by getting into everything and seeing what everything is. All items in their world are brand-new to them and this novelty fuels their endless curiosity to find out what things are and how they work. They are true-blue kinesthetic learners.

If the environment a child explores in is accessible to them and has toys, supplies, and materials that are child-safe, they learn that the world is a safe place and they feel comfortable in new settings. They learn that the world is ok and come to love it. Children learn the most when they are calm and content and having an open environment for them to explore. More learning happens in calm and safe surroundings.

Through movement (crawling, walking, running, climbing, etc) children strengthen their muscles and expel energy. They also learn what they are capable of doing and learn what they are not capable of doing (through possibly minor injuries). Outdoor play is especially beneficial to children because there are so many things to do and see and numerous learning experiences. Nature, to children, is magical. It provides a multitude of opportunities to see animals, poke in the dirt, play in the sand, run and lay down, to get dirty, to be totally engrossed in their play. They can also play mini sports or throw a ball into a child-size hoop, learning coordination skills.

Through drawing, coloring, painting, and other art projects, children learn fine motor skills that will help them in learning to hold silverware and eventually hold pens and pencils and aid in their penmanship skills. Art opens up the mind of children and allows them to express feelings, frustrations, and whatever their subconscious mind is thinking about. Through free art expression (versus having them complete a particular art project) children learn that what they create and think up is more important than a finished product; that the process itself is what’s important and learning techniques for placing objects, cutting paper using child-safe scissors, and rolling and patting clay help build the skills children need for future success in the sciences, math, and the arts.

Through movement, balance, and music, children learn about rhythm, sound, pitch, and pre-reading skills. Rhythm is necessary for children to be able to read because of the “stress” each syllable gets in certain words that makes it poetic and also how we can tell if someone is foreign (because they emphasize the wrong syllable). Children who have music and rhythm and balance are likely able to begin learning to read (if they can balance on 1 foot for 10 seconds). If children learn to read too early, they learn it in a certain area of the brain that will be erased once they are ACTUALLY ready and the information will be stored in a different part of the brain. This means that the child will have to RELEARN how to read if they are taught too early.

While it may look like playing to us adults, trust me when I say that it’s “work” for children. They “work” all day long just like we do, it’s just that they don’t have bills to pay and a boss to work for.

Learn How to Love Food That’s “Good For You” Without Sacrifice

To anyone who is trying to be healthier, one of the easiest things to do is to cook more from home and “brown bag it” (to work). Not only will it save you money, but it’ll save you calories, chemicals, salt, and mystery ingredients. Another thing you MUST do if you want to be/eat healthier is to try new foods. Nothing too exotic like frog’s legs or escargots, but rather new ethnic dishes, ingredients like lentils and kale, and trying out new combinations of things you never thought of (like pasta with vodka sauce and smoked salmon). Eating is a way to achieve nutrition, variety, and fun! Cooking should be an enjoyable thing and the way to make it that way is to cook things that you would want to eat out, but make them at home instead. That’s the simplest starting point.

You can search “copycat” [insert restaurant dish name here] and you’ll get a wildly accurate recreation of your favorite restaurant’s dish that you can make at home. Oftentimes, you can pay the restaurant fee plus a bit more and easily feed a family of 4 (more food for the same $). Since restaurants skimp on quality ingredients like using oil instead of butter or preserved produce, you can get better nutrition, healthier food, and even TASTIER food by making it yourself. Following a recipe is truly easy as pie and even something that seems so complicated as Homemade Yogurt or Chicken Parmesan is really quite simple to do, and almost effortless! No lie! I was shocked at how easy both of these were to make, but initially I thought “too much work!”.

Another thing you can try is to use AllRecipes.com and search for a recipe based on 2-3 ingredients you have on-hand that you’d like to use to cook a meal with. Like “red bell pepper, feta cheese, and quinoa” and it’ll populate recipes that have all those ingredients in them. From there you can see pictures, ratings, and the ingredients list required to make that dish. If you make an account with them (free) you can save recipes you’ve made or put them in your virtual recipe box to make later. It’s nifty and one of the main sites I use when cooking!

Some of the best things a person can do in regard to food choices:

  • switch to real butter instead of margarine
  • use olive oil, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil (don’t use sunflower, canola, or vegetable oils)
  • use less salt when cooking and eating
  • eat whole-fat dairy products (It’s not fat in food that makes you fat. It’s excess calories and limited physical activity. Fat helps rebuild cells and gives a person a vibrant look to their skin, hair, and nails. Everything in moderation.)
  • check ingredient lists and avoid anything with the word “hydrogenated” in it (one of the UNHEALTHIEST things you can eat. Primarily peanut butters and other “solid”-esque foods have this).
  • make homemade salad dressing (most of them are a snap if you have a stocked basic pantry and fresh garlic, eggs, and onion on hand)
  • if you want dessert, have some… just take 1 though (all we really want is a taste anyway- we don’t need a large milkshake. get a small and relish the taste more)
  • try and get more pure water into your body (I have water delivered in 5-gallon jugs once a month and it’s instant cold water from the cooler, tastes great, is readily available, and way cheaper than buying individual bottled water)
  • split a plate at a restaurant with someone at your table or get a kids-size meal (at Tijuana Flatts, the kids meal for a quesadilla comes with: quesadilla, chips, a small drink, and applesauce or m&ms for $4. an adult-size quesadilla is $8 with some chips and no drink)
  • if you’re craving a certain type of food, then plan and make it at home! (I’ve successfully attempted a homemade alfredo sauce, thousand island dressing, and balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. I’ve also made great vegan desserts and seemingly-difficult main dishes that are so savory and worth the effort.)
  • plan your meals for the week, who’s cooking them, and what ingredients you’ll need and make note of the quantity needed (if you need cream cheese, make a note on your list of how many ounces. That way when you get to the store you’ll know whether to buy the mini pack or the sumo pack. I’ve learned this trick the hard way…)
  • Try to incorporate 1 vegetarian dish and 1 seafood dish a week into your meals (not only will this help you save money, but it’ll expose you to new flavors and you’ll come to see that meatless food can be very satisfying! Also helps you get rid of pantry staples.)

What I eat now is drastically different from how I used to eat in high school. I ate mostly “kid food”. It was finally in college where I got exposed to vegetarian and vegan foods and I came to find out that I LOVED them! Our cafeteria had sections and one of them was a vegetarian section (I admittedly didn’t know that at the time) but so I would check out all the food available that mealtime and then decide what I wanted to have. Most times I would try the vegetarian stuff and I would like it about 70% of the time.

Being open-minded to new foods is probably one of the biggest roadblocks to eating healthier. We think we won’t like it, or it sounds too ethnic, or we couldn’t ever imagine eating lamb, veal, quinoa, or kale. But the funny thing is that every food was new to us at the beginning and yet we somehow managed to try stuff. Unless you’re repulsed by something (like for me: crawfish, lobster, and oysters) then you owe it to yourself to try it. Either make a 2-serving recipe of a dish you’re unsure about so if it’s trash, you haven’t wasted a lot of time or resources, and if it’s good, then you’ve got a new great recipe waiting to be made again.

Why “Natural Parenting” is What We All Should Be Doing

When I say “Natural Parenting”, I mean in all senses of the word: wholesome foods and drinks over processed ones, conversations and touch time interactions over electronic and gadget use, nature exploration over always staying indoors, and letting kids be kids! They are meant to explore, to get dirty, to fall down and maybe get hurt sometimes. Coddling and protecting them from everything is not only a detriment to their brains and how they learn, but it teaches them no responsibility or awareness of the world around them.

Now-a-days it seems that most parents are “helicopter parents” which means that they hover over their children every moment, ensuring their safety and well-being. While this doesn’t seem inherently bad, there IS such thing of “too much of a good thing”. These parents do everything for their kids, even things the kids are capable of doing for themselves (this makes it so they can’t learn life skills and so they expect others to do things for them). These parents pick their kids up immediately after a fall versus asking if they are ok or need help. They overprotect and cut up foods into little chunks even after they are old enough to be learning about chewing properly. They don’t teach manners or expect them because their energies are consumed with hovering. They don’t expect children to have chores and to help out around the house, which is necessary for not only life skill building, but also for confidence and for everyone in the family to pitch in effort. Children in these households are not given responsibilities, appropriate risks, or choices. Children need to learn how to make choices, even small ones like what shirt to wear (out of 2 choices) because it’ll help them make smart bigger choices (like drugs or sex) later in life.

The foods that most parents are feeding their kids are atrocious. If you look at the ingredient list on a package of food, you’d be appalled to see of how many ingredients are in some things. In my opinion, I don’t think any list over 5 or so items should be purchased because it’s a chemical concoction, not real food. The company uses chemicals to make the stuff taste LIKE the food it should be. Gross! But even more important is avoiding things like aspartame, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), etc. Go for more natural things- an apple vs apple juice, potatoes vs potato chips, yogurt with live cultures vs yogurt that has none (might as well be pudding, if not). For example, look at the long list of ingredients in pre-made cookies, like Chips Ahoy or Oreos. Not only is the ingredient list long, but there is HFCS and hydrogenated oils in it. Hydrogenated oil is made when they take regular liquid oil and put a ton of pressure on it and it changes from a liquid to a solid and then it’s added to things like peanut butter. It’s a preservative and helps the peanut butter to remain solid (versus natural peanut butter which is “oily” at the top, and which needs to be stirred in).

Natural Parents don’t believe in spanking. They know that it doesn’t teach desired behavior and in fact, it usually makes a situation worse because the child is scared and hurt because you slapped or spanked them. It shows a lack of self-control on the parent’s part and ignorance for what discipline/guidance is all about. The goal of raising children is to teach them the rules of society, how to function well in it, how to have manners, and how to treat others. A child respects a spanking parent out of FEAR instead of LOVE and the relationship between parent and child is tarnished from the first spanking/slapping onward. A child will not confide in a parent that does this and they will avoid that parent whenever possible.

Natural Parents also generally don’t believe in time outs. Or if they do, it’s used as a safe place for the child to calm down, regain their composure, and let out some steam. It’s not a place of isolation as punishment, but as a place of isolation for calmness and comfort and for them to relax without distraction. It should be a comfortable place with books, music, stuffed animals, maybe some scented lotion, an eye mask, a stress ball, etc. The goal is to help the child calm down in a positive way and then they re-join the group when they are back to temper level 0.

Natural Parents believe in being “unplugged”. Being unplugged means tuning into the people and environment around you. It means being fully present and aware and engaging in life. Electronics are taking over our lives in a bad way and we’re losing sight of conversations, family time, relying on others, and taking part in family rituals. While true that some electronic toys and/or TV shows have educational value, the truth of the matter is that our kids want their parents’ ATTENTION more than anything else. To be seen, heard, recognized, etc is all they want. To have someone right beside them experiencing life as they are. To show you their proud moments and their discoveries. To play with them. To comfort them if they get hurt, regardless of their age or gender or if it’s something they should “really” be crying over, because it doesn’t matter. They are upset and need comforting.

Natural Parents believe in holistic medicine and alternative remedies, and are wary of vaccines. The fact that there is a vaccine injury compensation program (where they pay money for a child’s damages from vaccines) is almost enough information for me to steer clear! With the rise of autism, immediate behavior and mood regression, sickness brought on from vaccines, irritability and difficulty sleeping 2-3 days after a vaccine, and even the DEATH of children and young adults shortly after a dose is just scary stuff. To say that vaccines are SAFE without fail is a very big blanket statement and large claim to make- sounds a lot like what the tobacco companies claimed years before we all found out how hazardous to health cigarettes are. Natural Parents seek out natural remedies whenever possible, but they know that mainstream medicine has its place and will use it when medically necessary, but not before. That is how it was intended, truthfully.

Overall, I believe that, “As we know better, we do better” and that applies to every discipline out there, but ESPECIALLY to child-rearing, health, and wellness. I challenge every person to keep reading, keep learning, keep improving. Be better tomorrow than you were yesterday. Change takes time and is a gradual process, but just make sure you’re changing for the better by being more aware of the truth in matters, not the propaganda portrayed by mainstream media.

Parents- You Need to Have Alone Time and Solo Interests!

As a new parent, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day living that comes with a baby or young child. Sometimes we’re so tired from our kid(s) wearing us down that the thought of doing something for ourselves is put on the back burner and long forgotten! But the thing is that our kids can’t be happy and fulfilled if we, as parents, are run-down, depressed, or unhappy. Even if it’s a few days a week for a few hours, be sure to take time for yourself to do things you enjoy. Anything from reading to yoga to checking your emails uninterrupted, try your best to “get away” for a bit and to recharge.

I remember that for the longest time with my baby that I would want to be with him all the time. I wanted to see him, interact with him, take care of him, and I didn’t really trust many other people with his livelihood and safety. (It was shocking to me how overprotective and possessive I was with him, considering I planned on working and dropping him off at daycare every day… how things change once they arrive!) But over time it led me to neglect myself and my own needs and interests. I’ve always loved cooking, karaoke, yoga, reading, intramural sports, etc and since I hadn’t done those things in months and was essentially stuck and trapped in the house, I was getting depressed and unhappy with my life. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. My mommy instincts had taken over my brain and I didn’t think of myself for one second of the day, which is quite unhealthy!

Then when the baby started to get a bit older, I came to have more time for myself in the day, like when he napped, was playing, or just content to be able to move around the living room. This allowed me some free time to do things that I wanted or needed to do. And no, grocery shopping isn’t a “fun and desirable activity” for me, it’s a necessity! Haha. But as I came to do more things for me, I became happier. I began reading more, mostly about childhood development and parenting, and I’ve learned so much from these books! My library is so extensive.

I started to become more interested in social endeavors and wanted to start going to the YMCA again, to get back in shape and lose the weight I gained post-baby when my body was healing for 3 weeks postpartum and then it snowballed afterwards. I’m already feeling so much better, healthier, and eating less in terms of quantity. I’m cooking more, making smarter choices, and being more in tune with what my body needs. My plan is to try and do yoga again 2-4 times a week ontop of long daily walks with the bub (my son) and the pup (Cocker Spaniel) to ensure everyone gets some outdoor time and that i’m not totally lazy on my “days off” from the gym.

Whatever your niche is (or even if you’ve yet to find it!), try to do it as much as you can. Explore new places, activities, and meet new people. Or start small and just explore an area on your own, talking to shopkeepers and making small comments to strangers as you pass them by while walking. Take your dog to a dog park (if you don’t fear fleas, possible bullying, and disease…. yikes!) and mingle with other dog owners. Join a playgroup or meetup for other kids the same age as your child(ren). Get out of the house! Take it from me, who was cooped up for 6 months day and night, you need that Vitamin D from the sunshine and fresh air to rejuvenate yourself!

Things a Parent With a New Baby Needs You to Understand

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Before I was a mom, I didn’t understand the scope, commitment, and amount of time it takes to care for a baby. Holy moly! I had a close friend who had her first child a few years ago and we would go out in public and spend time together, with her son in tow. Even though she was my close friend, there were things I still didn’t understand about what it means to be a mommy and how you can love your child so much and want to see them all the time. I was just in a different life stage!

Fast-forward to the first few weeks being home with my newly born son, Valen, and I could see why new mommies were so tired for like a month! The feedings, the crying, the sleepless nights, the stress, the hunger and thirst, dying for a chance to take a shower, longing for a nap to recharge… everything that was “normal” in life got flipped on its head and I was having a hard time adjusting to not being as productive as I would’ve liked. Not only that, but I was told to “rest” which meant “lay down or sit constantly” and so I was going a bit stir-crazy!

I really wanted a hot meal, someone to cook for me while I was home alone all day with the baby. At night, there would sometimes be hot meals but the thing I wanted most was for a friend to say, “Hey, can I bring you some food and keep you company?” to which I would’ve screamed, “YESSS!”. Not the kind of friend that needs “entertaining” but the kind of friend that enjoys just hanging out with you. That’s what I wanted, more than anything at that time!

The other thing I really wanted was a big, fat NAP! Some days I’d sleep when the baby did, but other days I’d think, “Now’s my chance to catch up on the dishes” and get to it. By the time I’d clean, organize, cook, etc the bub would be stirring from his nap and off I’d go into baby-busy mode. The first 2-3 weeks were a blur of tiredness, soreness, boredom, isolation, hunger, thirst, and a sense of being “the only one going through this”. I wish I had more of a support network- that my immediate and extended families would’ve been more helpful and thoughtful during that time. I wish they checked in with me more and offered to come by to give me a break, bring food, get some groceries for us, or just stopped by for a few hours to relieve me of the boredom and exhausting fatigue that all new parents come to know well. There were a few people who really helped us a lot and others that seemed too busy to even text or call. That was definitely a shocker!

Going anywhere was a big ordeal- all the things to pack and bring with for even a simple outing! Baby, car seat, diaper bag, stroller, bottles, formula or breast milk, spoons, baby food, bibs, pack n play (for extended visits), high chair (when 3-4 months old), etc. Long gone were the days where I just threw my purse in the front seat and I was off. Now it takes 30 minutes getting ready to be sure I have everything, make sure the bub is fed and changed, and that I know where I’m going on the errands and what I’m doing. The abridged version of this paragraph is: go visit the new parents at THEIR house, not in public, and bring some food (and a change of clothes!) haha!

Looking back, I wish I had more “me” time- where I could just relax and do whatever I wanted for even 30 minutes a day- something enjoyable that made me happy and that I liked. There was just no time for that.

Being a parent is so rewarding and amazing, but the “negatives” are hardly ever spoken of: postpartum depression, weight gain (from sitting around all day being exhausted after giving birth and breastfeeding all day!), anxiety, hyperawareness (especially when driving!), severe sleep loss, isolation, hunger and thirst, feeling alone, not having a support network, having friends or family who don’t understand how much work it is to take a baby somewhere, etc. If you know anyone who is a new parent, offer to come over for a few hours to see the new baby. But know that what you can do that will be the MOST help is food and holding the baby for them for a while. Or letting that tired mama sleep!