Category Archives: Inspire

How I get my kids to bed early

My eldest was in camp for most of the day, for the first half of the summer, meaning he continued his early bedtime/early wake-up routine he was used to during the school year. When his month at camp ended, we took a more laid-back approach to bedtime, and let him stay up a bit later than normal.

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Summer is coming to an end, and soon will my relatively lax rules regarding bedtime. My son will be starting first grade in a few short weeks, and the demands and rigors of school require a healthy sleep routine.

People have asked me how well my kids sleep since they were born. The answer has never been great, and we have a lot to work on as a family. My eldest is an especially restless sleeper, while my youngest sometimes gets random bursts of energy in the middle of the night. One thing we are fairly decent at, however is getting our kids to bed early. Continue reading

How to encourage free play in an over-scheduled world

Throughout the year, I read many parenting pieces, several of which lament the over-scheduled, too-structured lives of our children. They wax poetic about the good ole days of playing outside until it got dark, inventing wacky games and the general ease of a childhood long gone. In the same pieces, those same writers lament about all of the activities they have to schlep to, the numerous play dates they’d rather not do and how they are exhausted from what they have presumed they must be in today’s parenting climate.

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But, there is hope.

In my short time as a mom, I have seen more push back against the over-scheduled, helicopter-style parenting of the past decade or so. The free-range movement is gaining popularity, and more parents are embracing the idea of “less is more.” We are tired of being tired, and we want our kids to have the less structured childhood we remember so fondly.

If we want our kids to have a “freer” childhood, we have to make it possible. Continue reading

I (kind of) want to skip the Tooth Fairy

Every toothless picture posted. Every report of another child coming to school with a missing tooth. Every debate about how much is too much for loose teeth. Every news of a wiggly canine or incisor hanging by a thin piece of gum. All of it reminds me my days of full sets of baby teeth are numbered.

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My oldest is five, and as parents do with each passing day, I eagerly anticipate the next milestone of his fleeting childhood. First words, first steps, first day of school — all have come and gone. Now, I await the next one, a pivotal moment on his journey to adulthood, the loss of his first tooth.

I am nervous about how the experience will feel for my son. I wonder if it will feel weird and if he will be scared. I could delve deeply into that topic, but I don’t feel like entertaining those thoughts right now. Admittedly, I am concerned about one aspect of the whole loose tooth thing: the Tooth Fairy.

Continue reading

Stop judging how we feed our kids

If you were blessed to bring a child into this world, you are undoubtedly familiar with pressure (societal, familial, cultural, Facebook-al?) To nourish your offspring in the most optimum way possible.

For new mothers, this is overwhelmingly breastfeeding. Before a child reaches a certain age, I, speaking as a person who only breastfed, can see how formula-shaming is especially strong in the earliest days of motherhood. We have shifted toward a more breastfeeding-friendly society — to a point — where mothers who can’t, or simply do not wish to breastfeed are pressured or shamed into rejecting formula.

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Already disparaged by many of the very people whose job it is to help them settle in to their daunting new role, formula-using new mothers are then subjected to a slew of criticism from sanctimonious know-it-alls.

Of course, even if a new mother wants to breastfeed, and gives birth in a place that encourages her to do so, she will eventually have to leave the hospital, birthing center or her home and confront a society which may agree and even pressure her into nursing, but has no desire to see her feed her child in public. As if the only acceptable way to breastfeed is in the hospital after delivery or in one’s home.

And, if a breastfeeding mother should decide to continue feeding her child in that manner beyond one year or more, she is no longer a loving women providing valuable nutrients to her child, but rather a freakish, selfish abuser.

The debate over how we nourish our babies is awful and unending, but at least the shaming stops when the breastmilk dries up or the formula runs out, right?

Wrong. Continue reading

If my kids ask, I answer

My oldest was around three years old when he started asking me about where babies come from. I attribute this to the typical preschooler curiosity and the fact that he had a new baby brother. He was inundated with baby stuff — he even witnessed the birth of his sibling — so, naturally he had lots of questions.

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Kids wondering about how babies are born sparks a range of reaction in adults, from humor to outright fear. Before I had children of my own, I thought the way they handled the subject in the movie, Knocked Up, was hilarious and brilliant. When their eldest daughter, reacting to the news of her aunt’s unexpected pregnancy, asks where babies come from, her mom responds by asking her daughter to share what she thinks on the subject. The girl responds with a graphic account of a stork drilling a whole in the mommy’s head and digging around a fallen butt for the baby.

At the time, I admired the idea of letting children figure things out for themselves. Once, I had my own kids, however, I realized I much preferred to be honest. If they felt comfortable enough to come to me with questions, I wanted to respect them enough to give them truthful answers.  Continue reading

Why I bring my kids to gay pride events

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I supported and believed in basic human rights for LGBTQIA folks long before I had children. And, now that I have kids, and understand how relatively easy I have it by comparison, I believe it is just as important — if not more — to continue to stand with my gay friends and family and to show my own children that indeed love is love.

Large crowds make me uncomfortable, and you often won’t find me at large marches or protests, even if they are for causes I support in other ways. I am also vary weary of hostile opposition, and the mama bear in me wants to keep my kids away at all costs. However, I make an exception for gay pride and related events, because, my experience with them is always positive and enlightening.  Continue reading

Make your own $5 travel activity sets

Traveling with kids is a wonderful way to expose them to different cities, cultures and activities. However, while checking out a new location is fun and exciting, getting there, often, is anything but. Long waits at the airport, sitting in traffic, or taking a long train ride, are just a few things that make traveling tough for little ones.

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To make things easier, we parents look for ways to keep our kids, calm, entertained and happy. While this often means using tablets or other devices (something I’m not ashamed to admit using) to make our journey smoother, I prefer non-digital sources.

When my family traveled to Montreal last month, I needed away to keep my two kids happy without necessarily having to rely on screen-time. Luckily, my sister found creative and money-savvy ways to put together activity sets for my two boys. Using dollar-store finds and free Internet resources, she was able to produce each one for around $5. Depending on the age of your child, where you live and how much you want to put in your folder, this price could easily be less. Continue reading

My Montreal must-dos for families

Montreal is a fabulous city for families. From museums to playgrounds, there is something to satisfy children of all ages. The city, whose customs, culture and vibe is predominantly French, also provides a unique opportunity for American children to experience something new.

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On our long weekend in town, my children played with the locals at the park, learned about electricity, saw some old fossils and got a taste of the Montreal lifestyle. Read on to learn more about our journey, as well as pick up some pointers for your own trip. Continue reading

Thank you, class parents

Every class has one, or maybe two. They are the moms or dads who remind you of special events or nudge you about getting your money in for the class gift. They organize email lists and volunteer schedules. They do the grunt work so we all can shine.

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They are the unsung heroes who work tirelessly keeping track of the details, so the rest of us, who barely remember what day our kids have gym, can look like competent caretakers of our little ones. Continue reading

My nurse mom keeps me chill about my kids’ health

This post originally appeared on Perfection Pending, the opinions expressed are my own and should in no way be taken as professional medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your family’s health, please consult with your doctor.

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It’s 7:30 p.m., well past the point when we begin the bedroom routine for our two children. My oldest son is running through the house. It’s a special night because we are going to see a movie at the drive-in. Neither of my kids has been to the movies before, and my four-year-old is screaming with excitement because he can’t wait to see Cars 3.

I finish packing up my bag when I hear wailing coming out of my bedroom. I gaze over at my husband who has the distinct “What just happened?” face all parents know. My gaze moves to my son whose forehead is bleeding from a fresh, gaping wound.

Many parents, in that moment, would have rushed there kids to the emergency room, but not us. My husband rigged together some bandages, and we set off for the drive-in as planned.

I knew the wound was bad, but a tantrum over missing the film would be way worse.

I weighed my options. Continue reading