When you bring that newborn baby home from the hospital, there are so many fears. Is she eating okay? Is she getting enough? Is she breathing right? You analyize everything, right down to the poop. Is she ready for solid foods? How do I KNOW for sure she is ready? All these thoughts on basic survival run through your head. Then people tell you it gets easier.

Oh sure there is the toddler phase, with its own challenges. However most of the time we have the idea of basic survival down. We survived the first year. Perhaps this kid does have a chance! By this time we have the whole food thing down, mostly. This is why it makes perfect sense that toddlers start to insert their independence. Mostly by requesting food/drink and then refusing it. This is when I felt it most acutely that parenting was more than just making sure they survive.

At five years, you can laugh at their confidence on conquering the world. Well, most of the time, when you are not clutching your chest in anxiety as they climb a tree. Confident that they will reach that bird nest no problem. You want them to explore and learn. You also want to wrap them in bubble wrap at the same time.

When you bring that new baby home and they scream and cry,we wish they could talk. Just please please please tell me what the heck you want! Now I have learned that talking is not necessarily a good thing. For example : “Mommy this dinner is disgusting! ” She ate it just fine last week. “I didn’t eat my cheese stick because I wanted the all orange cheese stick not the white and orange. ” This after the ten minute discussion about what cheese stick TO pack. There are definitely days that having a kid that talks is over-rated.

While the basics at nine are pretty down pat. Yes, they really do need to eat dinner every night. There is much more I feel constantly unprepared for. Somethings I felt we had time to prepare for,the sex talk. While it has been in parts here and there, it started much earlier than I expected. So far, we have only had to approach how babies come out, not in. I have been researching how to have the in talk but, I am totally okay if she is not interested until she is eighteen. Maybe. Somethings were much heavier, Why isn’t there housing for the homeless? Why does nobody do that? Now my fears are more complex. Am I hindering her by not talking about it? Am I making something worse by talking about it? Am I making sure she is growing up to not be an asshole when she is an adult? Am I teaching compassion well enough? Am I teaching gratitude enough? Are they just empty words, thank you, or does she really understand the meaning? Is this really what nine year olds are like? Is she normal? Am I balancing her physical health and mental health?Am I nourishing her spiritual health? Am I teaching her how to balance her physical health and mental health?

The first couple years are labor intensive. Then you hit a certain point and it is no longer so much labor intensive as it is mentally intensive. Some days it truly is hard to out think a nine year old. Some days the constantly thinking part wears me out more than just meeting her physical needs.

I think for me a lot of the times my fears and doubts are spurred because I remember being her age. I remember how I was feeling. I see so much of myself in her. True there is deffinetely a strong contribution from my husband. I remember how deeply I felt emotions at that age. I felt even the smallest critisim as a verbal tongue lashing. I felt the elated feeling of happiness with every fiber of my soul. It is just how we are. We feel deeply. I want to protect her from all the dangers to emotional and mental health that entails. At the same time, I know I can’t.

This is the million and one things mothers think about. Some fathers as well. This parenting thing, I don’t think it gets easier, it is just different.

This post was originally featured on Erin’s blog, Chronically Sick Manic Mother. Photo via

When my boys were preschool age and younger, family members would sometimes act offended when the boys refused hugs and kisses. My husband and I tried to stifle our eye rolls as family complained that our children were mean.

Mean? Hmmm. We prefer to call it discerning.

We never insisted that our children be affectionate with anyone toward whom they did not feel natural affection. My boys are fortunate to have two understanding grandmothers who have never forced a hug or a kiss on them if they didn’t want it.

READ MORE: Post-Adoption Bitterness

Apparently, my mother has mellowed a bit, as grandmothers tend to do, because as a child I was prompted to show affection toward adults when they asked. I was never particularly fond of it and only did it because I knew I’d be spanked if I dared to embarrass my mother by being disobedient or “rude”. Usually at the heart of a parent’s insistence that a child be physically affectionate is a desire to not offend the person who is requesting affection (and for others, of course, it may be a desire to show that they are in control of their child).

Eventually, this learned dutifulness toward adults who requested affection put me in a scary situation. A trusted father-figure, who had begun the forced affection with brief hugs, attempted to molest me. He groomed me for a couple of years before he made his big move. I never saw it coming because I thought that an adult who was so kind, gentle and affectionate would never try to hurt me.

At least that’s what I’d been led to believe as a child who was promised by adults that they wouldn’t bite me if I’d share a hug or kiss.

Children have natural danger defenses. Staying close to a few trusted care-givers and not getting too close to other, less-emotionally-close adults is a survival mechanism. It’s simply smart and intuitive. Maybe, just maybe, your child is sensing something about Aunt Sally or Next-Door-Neighbor Joe that you are missing for the sake of being polite. Encourage your children’s natural instincts to be selective with their affections. If an adult is offended by your child’s lack of affection, don’t allow that adult to make it your problem. Explain your stance and then drop it.

READ MORE: Facing The Tough Questions

These days my boys (mostly) freely give affection to family members because at their ages they understand that it is safe. They know that they are free to give affection if they choose and have given their share of polite hugs. Not because they were forced, but because they see value in being polite to safe and trusted loved ones.

If your child is not affectionate toward even his or her closest few caregivers, talk with your holistic health care practitioner or pediatrician.

This post was originally featured on Allison’s blog, Our Small Hours. Photo via

I’m relatively new to this school thing–it was only two short years ago that my oldest started preschool, but I’ve realized that the start of a new school year takes all kinds of preparations for both the kiddos and the parents.

In our house there’s a very definitive school schedule and summer schedule. Our summer schedule consists of A LOT of playtime, later bedtimes, naps, running around outside, special outings, and trips to the local ice cream shop. How does a school schedule even compete with that kind of fun when you’ve got early bedtimes, school functions, PTA meetings, and long school days?!

Oh yeah, it doesn’t.

I find myself dreading the school year while my kids are thrilled to go back.

At this point, my kids are so far off of their school schedule that the first full day back in school is sure to end with overly tired, crying kids. Back to school is so much more than buying school supplies and new clothes after that summer growth spurt. Here are some things that we enforce to help ease the transition from summer to school:

Start earlier bedtimes! My kids are mostly laying awake asking why the sun is still up if it’s bedtime, but I know (because it always happens this way) that one of these nights they’ll actually fall asleep at the appropriate hour and I can stop making excuses why they can’t go swing on their swings at midnight.

Start your morning school routine. Starting August 1st, I started our morning school routine. Our morning school routine is tight. I try to pre-make as many breakfasts for the week as I can on Sunday evening. During the summer, our mornings have been quite leisurely (for the kids, not so much for me): eat breakfast, get dressed if they feel like it (pj’s have been totally acceptable as all day, everyday wear), a shirt and shoes are optional, and we’ve got all morning to get those teeth brushed. After August 1st, our mornings go something like this: eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, and meds taken (allergy meds for the oldest). That way the first morning of school isn’t a complete disaster. I also began setting my alarm earlier to prepare myself for the morning craziness that will soon come.

I lay out that night’s jammies and the next day’s clothes in the afternoon. This makes our bath and bed routine run much more smoothly instead of searching for jammies and it takes the guessing game of “what should I wear?” “But I wanted the red shirt, not the blue shirt!” out of getting dressed in the mornings. I actually began this routine when my third baby was born because otherwise no one was getting dressed for the day. This alone helps make the mornings a bit smoother.

Stock up on K-cups, Tylenol, and tissues. K-cups for early mornings, Tylenol for homework headaches and/or calls home from the teacher (not that every kid gets those…..but mine has!), and tissues because as much as I hate to say it, junior will be bringing home germs. Especially if it’s juniors first school rodeo.

Talk about school as much as possible. For us that means reading books about going to school (our faves this year have been “The Night Before Preschool,” “The Night Before First Grade,” “Pete the Cat The Wheels On The Bus”) and getting out our Little People preschool set. This has really helped calm any nerves about going to school (especially first timers) and gotten kids really excited for the start of school.

Make sure your child meets all requirements for their incoming grade (example: a child going into first grade should know how to read and how to do simple addition and subtraction). I’ve found workbooks throughout the summer really help to keep their minds fresh with what they learned the previous year. It makes them much for confident going into a new school year.

School Physicals! Having worked (years ago) in doctor’s offices, I can tell you not to mess around with school physicals. Schools can and will deny your child’s attendance until your child is up to date with a school physical. That being said, don’t call your child’s pediatrician and expect an immediate opening for a physical. Peds offices are typically booked solid all summer long with sports and school physicals. Don’t expect to call the first day of school panicking because junior needs a physical TODAY. Be prepared to wait at least a couple of weeks (if not months) to get in. Get it taken care of during the summer and your child’s appointment booked in the spring. Have all doctors notes and meds ready to go for the first day of school if your child requires them. Que the Tylenol for yourself if you get calls from the school nurse.

School supply and clothes shopping. Don’t save it until Meet the Teacher/bring in your school supplies night to get the items on your child’s list or you’ll be running all over town attempting to find the last purple folder in stock that your child must have for whatever class. Also, have your child try on clothes a few weeks before the school year begins. You may be shocked to learn that junior grew 2 more inches in the last week and no longer fits into any of his/her fall clothes. I’m speaking from experience on this one.

Go over safety rules/stranger danger/and bathroom etiquette. Prepare your child by explaining the school safety rules and precautions, what to do if a stranger approaches them on school grounds or elsewhere, good touches and bad touches (my kids are 6, 4, and 2–this is how I explain it), and also very important but also forgotten: bathroom rules. If you’re my six year old, you’ll need reminded not to turn the lights on and off on your friends who are peeing pretending to be a ghost (and not to talk your girl friend into doing the same to do the girls bathroom). I also remind them to watch where they peed, the proper amount to toilet paper to use when wiping, wash hands (there should be no poop on finger tips), and dry them. You’d be surprised at the “there’s poop everywhere!” issues in the elementary grades.

Talk about schedules. This is really big for my kids because different people pick up and/or take them every day of the week. I go over “these are the people who are okay to pick you up (list people). If anyone else tries to pick you up, have the school call mom or dad.” This falls under safety procedures but I also add in what we’ll be doing after school (any special activities, afternoon snack, dinner, etc.). That way there’s no big surprises which equates to much less likely for meltdowns.

Brush up on school policies and what your child will be learning throughout the year. Then you have no surprises when it comes to dress code and you can have time to re-learn fractions (I’m screwed on that front).

Now, who’s ready for the “fun” to start!?

This post was originally featured on Ashlen’s blog, Kidspert. Photo via.

There’s no denying that the internet is a powerful tool. It’s important for teens to learn how to use the internet to their advantage– exploring their passions and interests, doing research, using it in their school work, knowing how to communicate with a professional tone, building a positive online image, sharing their work online and networking with others, and using the internet to find job opportunities, apply to college, and find apartments when it’s time for them to live out on their own. There are endless opportunities that the internet has to offer, even if it’s just a place to unwind and catch up with friends after a long day, but there’s always the danger of the internet and social media getting in the way of their success. For all of the benefits technology has to offer, there are dangers. While it’s important to have an online presence, especially for people who want to share their ideas, art, or even start an online business, there’s the danger of abusing social media. Teens are particularly likely to mistreat social media, share inappropriate content, and ultimately suffer the consequences.

The Dangers of Social Media

It happens all the time. Teens posting statuses and pictures that include underage drinking, drug use, nudity, or hurtful language. A lot of the time that inappropriate behavior goes unnoticed and unpunished, but there’s always the risk that it can hurt their reputation, be seen by a potential employer, college admissions office, or be reported to authorities if it’s particularly serious.

It could cost them a friendship, a job, or acceptance into the school of their dreams. Even something as seemingly insignificant as complaining about a coworker, boss, teacher, friend, or significant other can get blown way out of proportion and have many serious consequences and many teens don’t recognize the risk of posting inappropriate content until it’s too late.

Cyberbullying is another huge problem that comes along with social media. The majority of teens will experience cyberbullying in some form, whether they’re directly involved or a bystander, and a lot of cases will never be reported. If cyberbullying goes unaddressed, it can have disastrous consequences including mental health problems like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and thoughts of suicide.

Supervising and Limiting Your Child’s Activity Online

You want your child to be happy and safe in every aspect of their life, which for a lot of kids includes their social media presence. If you notice that technology might be causing more harm than help for you child, you might look into limiting their exposure to social media. This could be as simple as talking to them about looking at their phone less or spending less time on their computer, setting rules about not sharing personal information online (or sharing less and censoring what they do share), having them adjust their privacy settings so that online friends can view their profiles, or going as far as monitoring their online and smartphone activity if you’re concerned that their safety is at risk.

Privacy is important and should be respected, but when your child’s safety is at risk it may be necessary to step in even if it means sacrificing their privacy to some degree. If you’re concerned that you child is talking to potentially dangerous strangers online and sharing personal information or they’re involved in cyberbullying to some degree and talking to them isn’t working, monitoring their social media use may be the only way to keep them safe. When you sacrifice your child’s privacy to monitor their behavior there’s always the potential that it could hurt the trust you have for each other, for a while at least, but the alternative of letting them continue risking their safety can ultimately have much greater consequences.

My parents have Sunday dinner at their house and January through March there are several Sunday dinners that include birthday cake. The last Sunday dinner that included birthday cake also included glow sticks.

The candles were lit and we were ready to sing that familiar tune. Suddenly, my Mom came running around the corner for a bucket. My niece was gagging and said she was going to throw up. Did you know there is a touch of the bug going through the second grade? My niece is in kindergarten, but whatever.

Apparently, my 5 year old niece started to chew on the glow stick and cracked the plastic. Some of the liquid seeped into her mouth causing her to gag/dry heave and spitting out something pink. No sooner did my Mom yell “get the bucket,” we found a chewed up glow stick with pink liquid glowing on the ground. When we came to the realization that she ate the glow stick; panic and chaos ensued.

Between scrambling for the ripped package of glow sticks to read what to do in this situation which said “Ages 5+” and not to ingest them) someone screaming “I don’t care what you do just call poison control, call 911 just call somebody.” My brother called her pediatrician and I called poison control. Thank G for cell phones with internet! My heart racing as the woman on the other the end of the phone calmly asked me questions. “Why was she so calm? This is an emergency!” She asked me for my name, town, and phone number as my sister-in-law yelled “Get me milk, somebody get me milk, you drink milk for poison.” Later, my grandmother a former RN said never to ingest anything after ingesting something that could be poisonous until you know that it’s safe.

We figured out several useful things about what to do if a similar situation happens to you, and a few useful facts thanks to several poison control websites…

1. Don’t panic. Stay Calm. Just breathe!

2. The former RN in your home might be of some use.

3. Have a list of important numbers somewhere accessible to everyone.

4. Both Poison Control and the Pediatrician were more concerned about the child swallowing or choking on the plastic and if she was having a reaction.

5. There are chemicals in the tube specifically Dibutyl phthalate, but they are supposedly non toxic (if it’s possible for chemicals to be non toxic) Referred more specifically as “Non-Deadly” Dibutyl phthalate is also found in nail polish…I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t drink nail polish. Just saying!

6. Still call poison control or your pediatrician just to be safe as everyone has different reactions to things and chemicals.

7. Irritation of the throat may occur and stomach ache. If it persists contact a professional.

8. Rinse and wipe out the mouth, wash any exposed skin.

9. Poison Control gets calls like this all of the time (more specifically an influx of calls on the Fourth of July, and Halloween) “It’s a very common call,” is what she said to me.

10. Water, milk or ice cream: are things that they suggest you drink/eat to flush it out of the system, because it may cause irritation, and the liquid inside tastes nasty.

11. Your child’s tongue or lips may glow for a short time.

12. If a child is in a public school there is chance that they’ve caught whatever is going around 2nd grade. Even if they’re in kindergarten. #Germs

13. Just don’t eat the glow sticks.

14. If you do…”Get The Bucket!” & “Get the milk!”

For More information about Glow Sticks and the dangers click here or here.

Poison Control

1-800-222-1222

Photo courtesy of Enjoying Life With 4 Kids.