Posted in Parenting

Being “That” Mom

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who sits her 2.5 year old in a rear-facing car position even though she reached the minimal age + weight & height limit to be seated in a forward-facing position a year and a half ago.

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who still has her 4 year old in a seat with a 5 point harness even though he’s reached the minimal weight/height requirement to be allowed to be in certain booster seats.

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who makes her kids take off their winter coats, no matter how cold it is outside, before strapping them into their seats.

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who reads the car seat user manual cover to cover to make sure that she knows exactly how to safely install said seat in her/a vehicle.

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who insists on strapping her kid’s car seat in another vehicle by herself to make sure it’s properly secured.

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who spent many hours on car seat safety forums and websites.

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one whose father actually called the police department to make sure that he could safely and legally install his 4 year old grandson’s car seat in his pickup truck for their morning together.  (Dad, you’re a rockstar!)

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who takes extra time to make sure that the straps are well secured and that the chest clip is at the right height before making her way to her own seat.

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who takes so long to drive out of the parking space you want when she has her kids with her.  (And, incidentally, I’m also the one who doesn’t give a shit about the old dude honking his horn because he feels it’s taking her too long to drive out of the parking spot he wants.)

I’m “that” mom because my kids’ safety is my responsibility.  Call me crazy, intense, overprotective, overzealous.  Call me anything you want, I don’t care.  Sticks and stones, you know…

Additional information:

*This post was prompted by a story that popped up in my Twitter feed yesterday.  It was a very sad story about a mother who lost her baby in a car accident because of improper car seat use.*

Posted in Write for me Wednesday

Write For Me Wednesday: Pool Safety Tips for Parents of Young Children

Today I have a super interesting and important post to share with you from Patricia Sarmiento who founded publichealthcorps.org.  Patricia is an avid swimmer and runner. She channels her love of fitness and wellness into blogging about health and health-related topics. She played sports in high school and college and continues to make living an active lifestyle a goal for her and her family. She lives with her husband, two children, and their shih tzu in Maryland.

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Via Flickr – by erkillian5

Pool Safety Tips for Parents of Young Children

Sometimes I feel like I grew up in the water. I started swimming at a very young age, and I wanted my children to love the water as much as I do. As a result, I introduced both my children to the pool when they were still babies. But that said, I was well aware of how dangerous the water can be for little ones.

Before I put my son in the pool for the first time, I wanted to be sure I was well-educated in water safety for babies and toddlers. If you’re the parent of a little one and you want to learn about about pool safety, try this all-inclusive guide to recreational swimming safety. Then, take a look at the tips below. These are a few of the essentials for not only keeping babies and toddlers safe around water but helping them develop confidence in the water.

Keep child within arm’s reach. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using “touch supervision” for children under the age of 5. If little ones are in or around the water, always be within arms reach.

Start lessons early. When I started my son in swim lessons as a toddler, some of my friends and family thought I was nuts. Even my mom told me she thought I was wasting my money. But I insisted and here’s why: As this Brain World article points out, a National Institute of Health study found that swim lessons for kids ages 1 – 4 can reduce their chances of drowning by as much as 88 percent. That was enough to convince me!

Avoid using floaties. My daughter didn’t take to the water as well as my son. She hated toddler swim lessons and after two classes we had to abandon them completely. She was just too miserable. I tell you this to let you know that I, too, am guilty of letting my children use flotation devices. The one way we could get my daughter to enjoy the water was to let her float in her PFD. That said, as Water Safety Magazine explains flotation devices, such as floaties, can lead to bad habits that may make learning to swim later on more difficult.

Learn CPR. A few summers ago all the parents on our street made a pact—we would all become CPR certified. A couple of houses on my street have pools and several of us have young children. We knew our kids would be swimming a lot, and we wanted the peace of mind of knowing CPR-certified adults would always be present. So, we worked together, babysitting for each other while we attended classes until we were all certified. To this day, we all regularly renew our certification. It is something that is relatively easy to do and it can make such a big difference. Check out PoolSafely.gov to learn more about how to find a class in your area.

With the right supervision and knowledge, children of any age can be safe around the water. Keep these tips in mind, slather the kids in sunscreen, and have a great summer!

Posted in Ten Thought Tuesday

Ten Thought Tuesday: 10/03/15

TTT

1.  Wow, I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve done one of these.

2.  Bear with me, I’m still trying to find a balance between crocheting, baking and blogging.  I’m thinking I may decide to blog on fixed days just to help me get back into a rhythm.

3.  The weather is finally getting warmer around here.  We’re up on in the pluses (just barely) for a couple of days this week.  It’s a welcome change from the frigid months we’ve been having.

4.  The changing weather has gotten me primed for Spring/Summer sports.  I want to buy a balance bike for Charles so I’ve been reading quite a bit to see which one would be best for him.  Do you have any suggestions?

5.  Following my post on winter car seat safety, I reinstalled the base for the bucket seat in both cars and, following one of the tips I’d read, I tried getting the toddler in his seat without his coat.  To my surprise, it actually wasn’t all that bad and he actually prefers it that way (I no longer hear him whine that he’s too hot!) so I’m going to keep my kids out of coats during winter in the future.

6.  Amélie has been rather miserable the past two days.  Her top teeth are just about to cut, so I can’t really blame her.

7.  Speaking of teeth, and what they’re used for, the little miss is ROCKING solids!  Let me tell you, she knows exactly where it goes and she is not happy when we sit her in her chair without food.  So far, she’s had steamed broccoli, cucumber “fries”, applesauce (on a loaded spoon which she grabs), avocado, banana and toast strips.

8.  Now that baby girl can stay in a seated position unassisted for long periods of time, I have started bathing her with her brother in the big tub (no worries, I always have a hand on her).  The first time they went in together, Charles was so happy and he remained calm for as long as his sister was sitting beside him.

9.  This Sunday, we are going to a sugar shack (yum!).  Now that Charles isn’t as allergic to dairy (the only thing we have to still steer clear of is fresh milk), it’ll be even funner than the first time we went.

10.  There are only two classes left in Charles’ winter swim session :(.  When the new session starts, both he and his sister will be taking lessons (Charles is old enough to be in the water without parents now).  And after seeing how happy baby girl was in the tub, I can’t wait to see how she’ll be in the pool!

Happy Tuesday!

Posted in Parenting

Did You Know? Winter Car Seat Safety

A quick note on comments before you start reading this post.  Since this seems to be a touchy subject and that parents on either side of the discussion can be quite, um, passionate, about their point of view.  Because of this, I reserve the right to moderate or delete any comment that I consider to be inappropriate in its tone or content.  We are all adults, it is quite possible to defend one’s point of view in a respectful manner.

Thank you.

***

I’ve been debating whether I should actually write this post or not.  You see, writing it has the potential to earn me a fair bit of flak because it is a subject, just as a few others in parenting, that seems to have two well-defined and opposite camps.  Anyways, here I go.

What you need to know is this: I am not perfect.  I know, shocker, right (*fake gasp*).  I am also known to compulsively follow rules and compulsively read about a subject that grasps my attention until my brain is about to explode.

Did I mention that I was a bit compulsive?

A short (read: very short) while ago, as I was compulsively researching the best harness to booster seat for my toddler (’cause, y’know, the baby is getting just a biiiiiit heavy and big for her bucket seat), I came across a post that made the voice inside my head go: “say whaaaaaat?!?!”

Just like that ^^^
Just like that ^^^

You see, after about 2 years, 3 months, 1 week and 6 days (give or take a few hours) of being a mother, I learned that to properly secure my kids in their car seats, I should strap them in sans winter coat.

Go ahead, say it: “Bad mama!”

(For the record, adults should forgo the bulky coats too).

Now, in all seriousness though, the arguments behind the information that I should not strap my children in their car seats with their winter coats on makes perfect sense (you’ll see why later on).  The revelation, however, has left me a few things that I have trouble wrapping my head around.

1.  Why was I never told this?  I mean, I know it’s my job to be informed about the finer and not so finer points of parenting (ie: safety), but I very honestly had no idea about this.  Granted,  I did not read any of my car seat installation manuals (in which this point is covered) cover to cover.  I read what I needed to make sure that my child would fit in the seat and read what I needed to securely secure in a secure fashion (sorry, sorry, I’ll stop) the car seats in our cars.  BUT, it would seem that it would have been pertinent to know this a little earlier in this parenting gig.  I mean, at the hospital, they talk about shaken baby syndrome, they talk about putting your littles down on their backs to sleep, they make sure you are able to feed and bathe your child properly and they don’t allow you to leave the hospital until they have seen your newborn strapped into his/her car seat to make sure you know how to transport them safely.  But never do they say anything about coats and car seats at the hospital (or anywhere else for that matter).

2.  Why have I never seen anyone do this?  It gets cold where I live.  I’m talking -25 Celcius plus windchill.  And the cold lasts for several months.  Despite the fact that parents seem to be split 50/50 on the subject, never in my whole two years of parenting have I ever seen anyone strap their kiddo in their car seat without their coats on unless it was a baby that was in a bucket seat with a winter cover.

3.  How can I manage this with two young kiddos and, more importantly, do I want to manage this?

Now, I’ve read a few (read: a lot of) articles on the subject recently and they all include tips and tricks to do this.  I thought I’d share some of them with you.

  • Park you vehicle in a heated garage.
  • Buy a cozywoggle (advertised as the only winter coat that is car seat safe) for each of your kids.
  • Put the coat on the wrong side (ie: zipper in the back).  Once in the car, sit your kid, unzip, remove arms from sleeves, buckle up your kid and keep the coat on top of him/her to keep warm.
  • Remove coat once in the car and cover kiddo(s) with a blanket kept inside the vehicle.
  • Dress you littles in enough layers to keep them warm for their trek to the vehicle.
An example of layering.  Photo used with permission.
An example of layering. Photo used with permission.
  • Let your car warm up in the driveway before putting the kiddos in (for those of you who live in a place with anti-idling laws, I’ve read that there is a caveat that allows for idling for up to 15 minutes in a 1h period if the temperature is below or above a certain point).
  • Move to a place that doesn’t have winter.  (It would seem that Malta is one of the most temperate spots in the world)

Now, these are all great tips and I could use any one or combination of them, BUT, do I want to?  I’m trying to imagine the logistics of it all.

If I want to warm up my car ahead of time, that means that I have to leave the toddler and 6 month old alone in the house while I run outside to start my car.

If I want to put their coats on and them remove them once in the car, I still have to expose them to (sometimes) umbearibly cold winds as I keep the car door open to strap them in.  (And though the cozywoggle really is a wonderfully innovative product, I still have to unzip and expose my kids’ arms and torso to the chilly temps as I strap them in).

I don’t have access to a heated garage (unless we demolish the wall that’s separating it in two).

Oy!

In all fairness, I could manage pulling this off when I have a long road ahead of me.  For instance, I am considering (“considering” being the key word in the sentence) doing this when I make the 30 minute drive to and from daycare.  Maybe.

Methinks I can at least get baby girl out of the convertible infant car seat and back into her heavy muscle-making bucket seat, throwing a blanket over her until the weather gets warmer (now that I’ve removed her winter sleep sack, she should fit).

But when I have quite a few errands to run and I am alone with my two littles?  No, I won’t do it.

Food For Thought.

I thought I’d share this with you.  I put Amélie in her winter snowsuit in her bucket seat and tightened the straps until they passed the pinch test.  Then, without loosening the straps, I got her out of her snowsuit and put her back in the bucket seat where she failed the pinch test…miserably…

What do you do, coat or no?  Did you know about this?  If so, how/when did you hear about it?

Related articles:

Posted in Parenting

Write For Me Wednesday – Why Your Child Needs Swim Lessons

Today, I have a wonderful guest post to share with you on a subject that I find very important.  The author, Becky Flanigan, enjoys writing for An Apple Per Day, and focuses on exercise and parenting. She is looking forward to the day when her last child leaves the nest, so she and her husband Ed can start traveling. She would love to lounge around a cruise ship pool, with no family chores to worry about.

I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did.

Why Your Child Needs Swim Lessons

I freely admit I must have been a water baby – I just love being in the pool any chance I get. When we started our family, I wanted my children to be exposed to the water early, so they could enjoy all the pleasures it has to offer. But I wanted them to be safe as well, so I did a lot of research about swim lessons.

Early exposure. When we took our first son out to the pool, my husband held him while I went into the water and splashed around, laughing joyously. He was so excited, he reached out for me, and quickly fell in love with the water. Our second child was more hesitant, so we let him adjust at his own pace. Not all kids will respond the same way to the water, and we wanted it to be a positive experience for them, so we didn’t rush things. Here are some wonderful resources with more information about kids and swimming:

Mom or a swim instructor? I gave some thought about teaching my kids to swim. The general rule is that by the time the child is 4 years old, they have the motor skills to begin formal swim lessons. My boys are so headstrong (they get it from their Dad) that I thought this was a place where Mom trying to teach them something just wouldn’t work. Especially as they grew older and took more advanced swim lessons, I would be out of my element anyway. So the decision for formal lessons from an instructor was pretty easy. It was quite a joy to see how well they behaved for the instructor – he had a presence that just made them pay attention. I’m thinking of hiring him to get the boys to clean their rooms.

Check out the lessons. Not all swim lessons are the same, so we visited the class we were thinking about for the kids, to make sure it was handled correctly. They had a lifeguard overseeing the class, they had a pole and ring buoy in place in case they were needed. We asked the instructor, and he showed us his Red Cross certification and his card that showed he knew CPR. Then we watched a class. It was so businesslike that we felt very comfortable with it. They had a purpose for what they were showing the kids, and they weren’t just letting the kids splash around in the water.

A lifetime skill. I wanted my boys to know how to swim, because it was a skill they would need all through their lives. When they were young, we would be taking trips to the beach, they would be hanging out with their friends at the community pool, and after they grew up, who knows where they might be around the water. I wanted them to have the confidence and comfort to know they could handle themselves in the water.

It’s really about safety. They talk about protecting children around the water as being not just one thing – but taking a number of steps to provide for their safety. Since we had a home pool, we put a fence around it, got alarms and a locking gate. But I read an article by the Center For Disease Control which stated that the best solution for keeping a child safe was formal swimming lessons. Since drowning is an alarmingly common problem for young kids, that further convinced me that lessons were in order.

As I watch the boys in our back yard pool playing games with their friends, I smile because of how comfortable they look in the water. I’m so glad we gave them swim lessons.

Thanks again, Becky, for this wonderful post!

Do your children do swim lessons?  When did they start?

Posted in Blogging, Write for me Wednesday

Write For Me Wednesday – Tips To Throw A Kids Pool Party

This guest post comes at a great time for me.  We’re seeing more and more grass around here and today is an absolutely beautiful day.  It is written by Kaitlin Gardner who writes for AnApplePerDay.  She currently lives in Pennsylvania and is married to her best friend.  In her spare time, she loves to go hiking and enjoy nature.  She has just started her first book about living an eco-friendly, healthy, natural lifestyle.  If you haven’t had time to check out her blog yet, I strongly suggest you go take a look, it’s really great.

Tips To Throw A Kids Pool Party

Your children want to have a party for their friends at your family pool. You are thrilled to hear they want to take advantage of that wonderful entertainment resource right there in your back yard. So what do you need to throw a great party at the pool? Here are some tips and thoughts:

Guest list and invitations. This part is basically the same as hosting a party inside the house – you have to come up with a guest list, and send out invitations. But there is a difference – when you contact parents for addresses, discreetly confirm that their child can swim. Hopefully every child invited can swim, which will make things a lot easier. Then send out fun invitations – kids love to get a real invite in the mail. Invite the parents to stay as well. Be sure to specify date and time, so the parents can put it on their Google calendars.

What time? Do you want to have this party during the day, or evening? That will change your planning. If it’s spring and chilly in the evenings, day is better. If the party will be in the middle of the summer, consider an evening party to avoid the heat of the day. This factor will determine how you plan the party, so decide early.

Set up the pool area. If the party is during the day, you will want to have tables set up for parents to sit and watch their kids, preferably in the shade. Provide a table stocked with sunscreen, so the kids are well protected against the sun. If the party is in the evening, you’ll have to add some lighting around the pool area, and around the back yard as well. After the meal, you’ll want the kids to sit out for a while, and they can play in the back yard with a Frisbee, or a volleyball court if you have room. Here are some great sites with more information about planning for a pool party:

  1. With kids and a pool, burgers would be a great way to go. Dad can cook on the grill, and the kids will love it. Just make sure to cook plenty of food, because hungry kids will eat a lot. Add shrimp or chicken to the menu for the parents. Have chips and drinks available, and you’ve got a basic but solid menu that keeps planning simple for the hostess. Don’t forget the plates and forks.
  2. You might want to consider having some music in the background, but with the noise of a lot of kids in the pool, it might be too much. The beauty of a pool party is that the kids entertain themselves for the most part. When they gather at the community pool, they are very ingenious about creating their own fun. You can have some pool games in mind if they get stuck for something to do. But if they’re enjoying themselves – just let it happen.

Provide a safe environment. Think about what will be going on at the party. Mom will be playing hostess to the parents, Dad will be cooking on the grill. Are those great candidates to be in charge of watching the kids? With kids and water, safety is too imperative to be addressed in a haphazard way. Consider hiring a lifeguard from the community pool. The kids will likely know him, will mind him and pay attention.

Once you’ve got the party in motion, take a moment to just look around – the smiling, laughing kids in the pool will be all you need to see, and you’ll know you’re throwing a great pool party.

Thanks for this great post Kaitlin!  I know I’ll be able to refer to it in a couple of years when my little guy is a bit older.