Thursday, February 4, 2016

What the Zika virus really means to a real mom and what it means to all of us

Whether you are pregnant, or thinking about getting pregnant, the Zika virus is something that has been brought to our attention and something we are now all thinking about.

There are so many other things that we have to think about when considering doing "everything" we can to ensure a healthy baby. This virus is scary because it seems like it just came out of nowhere and is now an epidemic.

There is so much about it that we don't know.

This article in the Washington Post puts a real face to the Zika virus and is a must read for every woman whether you are planning on having children or not. 

In another report out this week the CDC has recommended that any woman who is considering having children and is not on birth control should consume zero amounts of alcohol. None. They suggest that a woman may not realize she is pregnant at first and that initial developmental time for the fetus is vital. Any level of alcohol can be problematic.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE from the NY TIMES HERE

If you bought every book on how to prepare for pregnancy and childbirth you would never have time to read them all - Tons of people have great ideas on how to prepare for and have the most healthy baby possible. So how do we know how to get to the most important information without making ourselves crazy? (that's not healthy for the baby...)

Just as in anything:


  1. Pay attention to yourself and keep yourself healthy
  2. Get enough sleep (at least as much as possible). One great way to facilitate this is to put the digital devices away at night.
  3. Live a life in Balance - Physical, Mental, Spiritual, Social, and Financial
  4. Reduce Stress by prioritizing what is really important and what is just fluff (it's mostly fluff)
  5. Smile. Alot. Laugh and Smile every day.

Stay informed but not scared. Life is a wild ride and kids definitely add to the thrills.




Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thanksgiving Countdown: Kids in the kitchen

Growing up my Grandfather would always take all of the kids on a really long walk on Thanksgiving day. It was always a fun adventure but as it turns out there was an alternative motive to this outing. Mom and Grandma would stay behind and have a calm and quiet kitchen to work in and when we got back we would be pretty worn out from the walk and so we would play board games or other quiet games until dinner was ready.

This morning I saw a segment on a morning show about crafts to keep the kids busy - and "out of the kitchen" - on Thanksgiving day.

While we love crafts, and we love a good outing on Thanksgiving morning, we also think kids Should be in the kitchen on Thanksgiving.

Here are some Stayathomemom Tips for Kids in the Kitchen on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is about coming together as a family and giving thanks for all of our blessings. Each person in the family is a part of that blessing and brings something to community.

1. APRONS

Give each kid their own Apron to make them an official helper. It reinforces that they have an important part in the process.

2. HAND WASHING

Teach your kids about the importance of washing their hands before handling food. This is the start of lifelong kitchen habits and so you want to make it easy for them to be able to wash their hands. This may mean getting a step stool so they can reach the kitchen sink easier.

3. AGE APPROPRIATE ACTIVITY

Every kid you can stand up on his own can help out in some way or another. For very young helpers this may mean

  • sitting at the kitchen table and coloring on the paper placemats that will be used for the Thanksgiving table. 
  • "Cleaning" pots and pans - hand them a dish towel and some pans and let them wipe them out.
  • Singing a song to Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandpa or whoever else is in the kitchen.
As they get a little older put them in charge of stirring the 5 bean salad, fruit salad, or stuffing. As they get even older put them in charge of specific items like the pumpkin pie. If they have a favorite Thanksgiving dish put them on the team making that item.

Young kids can easily "make" the dinner rolls if you make them from the tube that snaps open when you pop it.

4. TEAMS

Match them up with an older sibling or relative to be a "Sous Chef". All the great chefs in the world have assistants. Everyone has to start somewhere.

5. FAMILY MENU

Every person in our family has a different "Favorite". Make sure your kids have a say in the Thanksgiving menu. You may think that the menu is pretty standard with Turkey, Stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce but there can be some big variations within even those items. Some kids like whole cranberries and others like the jelly from the can.

Having the kids participate in the kitchen will make Thanksgiving a more meaningful event for them and can create some great memories - even if those memories are of burnt rolls....

6. CLEANUP

Remember it is just as important to include everyone in the cleanup as it is to include them in the prep.

7. TIMING

Finally, a tip for Mom. Build in time for this "help" It can often times take a lot longer in the kitchen when little little kids are "helping" but as the years go by they will get better and faster and the entire process will become much quicker.

Just remember to breath. Initially, having little kids in the kitchen will take patience. But you can do it. 

When kids are included in the entire process from the time that they are very young then it is just part of the tradition. If you exclude the kids from the kitchen when they are young and then expect them to start helping out when they are teens you are setting yourself up for some interesting / contentious discussions.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!





Monday, February 2, 2015

Kids on Social Media: What to Do When They Ask About It

Your baby is growing up.

When we have kids, we pretty much raise them one age group at a time: as babies, toddlers, pre-teens, etc. Every decision we make contributes to the adults that they become.

Social networking is everywhere. If your kid has ever been outside, he knows about social media. He may not call it that, but he knows about Facebook. He knows about Twitter. He knows about YouTube. What he doesn’t know is the complications of a technologically driven, social-media-engaged society.

And so it comes. A day childhood innocence dies: “Mom, can I get a Facebook account?”

Here are some things you can do to ease your child into social media awareness before he takes the plunge.

Join Your Kid

Having a social media account is a pretty big responsibility, even for adults. You have to watch what you say, be careful about voicing opinions, and adhere to the adage, “Less is more.” Your child needs to know that.

Facebook is the number-one social network in the world. Consider these facts:


  • TOS "Terms of Service" require that users are 13 years old or older to create an account
  • It has 1.35 billion monthly users
  • Millennials (ages 15-34) make up 66 percent of Facebook users
  • 87 percent of 2014 high school graduates use Facebook on a daily basis
  • The average number of “friends” that teens have on Facebook is 300
  • 70 percent of Facebook teens are “friends” with their parents


Let’s stop for a moment: if you are not a Facebook user or are an infrequent one, do some research into the lingo, privacy rules, etc. so that you know what you’re up against when your kid asks about social media. The best way to learn something is to do it, so you might consider opening a separate account when your kid does. You could do it together; this way, you both can explore privacy settings, site rules, etc., and talk about them.

Parents with their own Facebook accounts can do this, as well. Open your child's account with her, and then show her your own. It’s a perfect way to go over all of the little details about Facebook that kids need to know, like where you post and what to say when they do.

Explain the Concept of Identity

Social media is a relative mystery to those of us who grew up talking on the phone instead of texting on it, therefore showing our children how to be safe in a social media environment is a learning process for us also.

Cyber crime (identity theft) is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world, and children’s IDs are taking the hardest hit. In 2013, an identity scan of more than 26,000 children was conducted by AllClearID.com; here are some of the results:


  • 26 percent of victims were six to 10 years old
  • 11 percent of children had someone using their SSN
  • Identity theft was 35 percent higher in children than in adults in the same population
  • In 2013, the percentage of children five years and younger having their IDs stolen was 15 percent


Deceased children’s IDs are becoming increasingly stolen, as well. One man in California was caught after he had stolen the ID of a four-year-old; the child had died in 1984.

The largest case of identity fraud committed was from committed against a Florida girl who discovered the theft when she was 19. The thief had stolen her SSN and racked up mortgages, credit cards, vehicles and more. The cost was $1.5 million!

Take Safety Precautions

When a child shares information on a social media site, that information is up for grabs; emphasize taking safety precautions. Show him how to set his privacy settings to the very bare minimum of public exposure and make sure he understands them. Set them, instruct him not to change them, and the consequences of what could happen if he does.

There are security sites that protect your child's identity so you don't have to worry. Companies like Lifelock, for example, not only monitor your identity for changes, but also scan for threats, and restore your name in case of a data breach.

AllClearID provides a (free) service called ChildScan, which you can have done at any time that can tell if your child’s ID has been compromised.

Your child is growing up, and that’s a good thing. Take this opportunity to educate each other. Show him the world of social media by gently explaining possible dangers, then let him show you the exciting part of social media.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SuperBowl XLIX Family Style

It is time for Super Bowl Sunday and for us that means family time.  The Christmas ornaments are finally in boxes and ready to be stored for another year down in the basement. The trip to Costco for massive bags of chips and giant tubs of salsa has been wrapped up. The team T-shirts are clean and ready to go.  We're about ready. 


Top 5 reasons Super Bowl XLIX (49) is Family Friendly

1. A moment FROZEN in Time

Or Idina Menzel sings the National Anthem

Idina used to be known for her portrayal of Elphaba in the Broadway musical Wicked but now is best known by every single kid in the Universe as the voice of Elsa in the Disney movie "Frozen". Videos of kids singing Let it Go have gone viral on YouTube. But most importantly, Idina is singing the National Anthem at this year's Super Bowl. If you have any Frozen fans in your house you will definitely want to make sure you are in front of the TV in time the the National Anthem.

READ IDINA'S INTERVIEW HERE


2. PHOENIX


We love Phoenix but one thing that makes this year's Super Bowl Family Friendly is that the weather in Phoenix should be reasonable and so we won't have to feel guilty while we watch the event from our warm comfy livingrooms while fans and players freeze their tushes off in some snowing / freezing rain pelted stadium. 



3. Super Bowl Ads and HASHTAGS

In the past the Super Bowl has not been known for it's family friendly ads but companies that purchase these wildly expensive spots are realizing that they have a short amount of time to connect with their potential consumer - and they are going to pay alot of money for that potential connection. Nissan is launching an ad featuring the hashtag #withdad. This is just one ad but we expect that there will be more of a focus on the family than there ever has been before.

We expect to see more hashtags and other ways to connect with the brand even after the ad is over.

Even though we are also expecting the ads to be more family friendly than they have in the past there is still going to be a Victoria Secret ad with the girls in their angel wings and bras. Not super family friendly but in our opinion better than the suggestive commercial of Paris Hilton washing a car and eating a juicy hamburger at the same time (really?).

Let us know about your favorite commercial on the Stay at Home Mom community Facebook Page - and let us know what your least favorite commercial was too. There are several new, smaller, advertisers lined up for this year.



4. Family GAME TIME

Roman Numerals

This year is Super Bowl 49 but you won't see the 4 and the 9 used that often - for the most part the Super Bowl is known by it's roman numerals.  This year it is XLIX. 


Have some fun with Roman Numerals:

  • draw out all the roman numerals and have people fill in what number matches up with each letter. 
  • Write out and have them figure out what that means 
  • Create some math problems X + L = ?

Find the Teams

Get a map of the US and have the kids point out where Seattle, Phoenix, and Washington DC are on the map. You can also extend this to other teams if you are having fun.

One way to make this more fun for little kids is to print off little football helmets from various teams (Google images can provide you with sheets of helmet logos) then cut them out and have kids put the helmet where they think the team is from on the map.


5. Cheering for something together as a FAMILY

Otherwise known as "The teachable moment"


Sporting events can bring us together as a family and give us something to cheer for and to boo at.  Sports supply great metaphors for just about everything in life and the Super Bowl is filled with Super Metaphors.
This can be a teachable moment for young kids. The people on the Seahawks team are good people. The folks on the Patriots team are good people. We don't actually know any one of them personally. Even still we are going to cheer for one team or the other even though we probably don't know a single person on either team in real life. This is a good chance for us to talk to our kids about how just like in the SuperBowl we will experience times in our lives when people don't like us for some weird unknown reason. They just won't like us. They may even cheer for our failure. But that really has nothing to do with who we really are inside. 

Or you can just cheer for your favorite team for the heck of it and really not make anything of it at all.

Just have fun!

Happy Super Bowl Weekend


* I didn't mention Katy Perry because in her SuperBowl preview poster she is wearing less than a Victoria Secret Model and so we cannot vouch for the halftime show being family friendly. Not much of a wardrobe malfunction if there is no wardrobe to worry about.




Friday, January 16, 2015

Stay at Home and Stay Smart

The New York Times featured an article this past month titled Why US Women are Leaving Jobs Behind. It was an interesting article. Typically, I am not a fan of these kinds of articles because they end up being more editorial showing the authors bias than actually helpful. But this article seemed to discuss the issue in a fair way illustrating the differences between governmental policy in the US and in Europe that try to provide support for the family and for business.

In Europe the trend is for 1 year maternity leave and massive family benefits. In the US the trend is for companies to provide for more flexible work schedules but not as many required benefits for parents.

There are a couple of notes that are very exciting about this article.


  • Women actually do have more choice these days in regards to how they decide to live their lives and raise their children.
  • There is more flexibility in the workforce for women even though there are still huge challenges with lower incomes because of that flexibility

    But the most important aspect of this discussion is
  • Education matters

    This is the key for women today regardless of whether you decide to stay home with your kids until they are in school or until they move away from home.

    The research in this article clearly points to the benefits of higher education for women. Going back to school for technical skills can be a great way to start but eventually earning your BA / BS is the key indicator for success.
The good news about this is that education is more flexible than ever. We can stay at home and raise our own children and still pursue that four year degree. The online options for classes are becoming greater and more accessible than ever and the quality of online education is getting better all the time.  There are also some very flexible options from community colleges and even four year colleges that will allow you to take classes in the evening. Sure your four year program may stretch to 8 years but you can do it. And according to this article it is important. 

The cost? The cost can be challenging for families but being able to stretch out your program can help taking a fewer classes making it possible to pay as you go instead of taking on student loans.

The perils of student loans

Student loans are easier to obtain than ever and they are very enticing. You can get a student loan to cover the cost of tuition, books and a little bit more making it easier to attend class - and then you can defer your repayment until you have a job. Great! (NOT great). Going with this option can seem awesome but you may end up with a student loan burden that is twice (or more) what the original tuition was. OUCH. It's painful. 

The good news is that it is easier to identify the small print these days because you can manage your student loans online. But definitely be aware of the fine print and the percentage rate that the loan will be charged.

Stay at Home and Stay Smart

Everyone has a different situation and faces a different set of challenges. But you can never get those years back with your kids. If you have the opportunity to stay home with your kids it is a great thing for them but it is also a very good thing for you too. 

The research in this NYT article show an optimistic future for women who want to take charge of their own lives. Showing your kids that education is important is a good thing for them to see. If you have been a mom for even two seconds you know that kids oftentimes don't hear a word your saying but they do watch your every move. Showing them that you value education is a great way to help them stay inspired in school even when they have a stupidhead teacher that gave them too much homework over the weekend.

Take charge of your own life!

Go out and learn something new even if it is not going to lead to a degree. If you have not earned your degree yet this is a great year to get back to it. One credit at a time.


Read the entire NYT article HERE