Reconnect With Your Spouse

It’s important for new moms to remember that new dads have their own share of stress, most keeping full-time jobs in addition to helping with the new baby at home. Both parents should attempt be sympathetic to the other’s needs. One vital need: Time with each other! Consider the following ways to keep your marriage strong.

1. Make time for just the two of you- Finding time to spend together alone is always harder than in seems. Strive to make a date at least once a week for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate- in every way possible. Schedule a time to talk about subjects other than the baby. Speak on the phone, and send text messages and emails throughout the day.

3. Play! Take up a new hobby together. Always wanted to go antiquing or learn to play golf? Whether you bring the baby along, or utilize caregivers, do it together.

Real Life Solutions With Dr. Linda Mintle

Q: My sister tells me I am too uptight about getting my toddler to sleep every night. She allows her three-year-old to stay up late, sleep in the next day and take naps if he is tired. She does not have him on any sleep routine. What do you think of this?

A: When you talk to sleep experts, they will tell you that a consistent sleep routine is important for a toddler. Sleep actually helps a baby’s brain grow! A study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that inconsistent sleep may contribute to obesity later in life. The study also noted that napping does not replace the benefits of nighttime sleep. According to the CDC, three to five-year-olds need 11-13 hours of nighttime sleep. So, yes, a toddler needs a regular bedtime. Since a lack of sleep can create problems opt for the regular bedtime routine and be patience. A toddler may need help to wind down by reading a book, taking a warm bath or doing something quiet before bedtime. Of course, parents need to avoid chocolate, sodas and even juices before bedtime. A warm cup of milk is calming. Then, make sure there is a consistent wake up time as well, as oversleeping and prolonged napping can create sleep problems. The atmosphere should be quiet and peaceful. Some toddlers like a little music to relax them as well. Even small things like keeping the room temperature comfortable and the house quiet can aid a good night’s sleep. And you are setting habits for the future. Most of us do best with a regular sleep routine as well.

Resource: Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep: The All-in-One Resource for Solving Sleep Problems in Kids and Teens by Owens and Midell (Marlowe & Company, 2005.

Connecting with your daughter

Are you looking for more ideas for connecting with your daughter after reading ParentLife this month? Here are some outings that might be fun and a few extra resources that might come in handy.

Outing Ideas:
• Sporty girl – walks, bike rides, or a Frisbee make for some free fun
• Artists – bring sketch books to a park, paint pottery, or visit a local museum
• Mind stretches – play a game, write stories together, do a puzzle
• On the go – grab some ice cream, run an errand, keep a deck of cards in the car for a game of War or Slapjack for a quick stop at a coffee shop

Resources:
• The Five Love Languages for Children by Gary Smalley
• The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias
• Your Girl by Vicki Courtney
• Passport to Purity by Dennis and Barb Rainey

Real Life Solutions With Dr. Linda Mintle

Q. I am a new mom and love to be out in the sun during this time of year. A friend of mine told me to be more careful and cover up my baby from the sun. Is this really a big deal?

A. Absolutely. Most sun damage occurs in childhood. Sun exposure builds over the years and can create problems later in life. Babies can get sunburned and their tender skin can’t handle the harmful UV rays emitted by the sun. A baby under the age of six months should not be exposed to direct sunlight. And even though it is hot, cover your baby with light cotton clothing to protect her skin. Limit her exposure to the sun during the peak hours of ultraviolet rays—10:00a.m to 4:00p.m. Shade her whenever possible. Most baby carriers have sunshades built in, car shades can be use when she is in her car seat and umbrellas, baby tents and other shading devices can be used as added protection. Use sunscreen designed for infants with at least an SPF of 15, even on hazy days. Apply the sunscreen at least an hour before going out and reapply it often. Hats are also a good way to protect the face and they look really cute! Keep in mind that if you live in a high altitude, sun exposure is greater. If your baby gets sunburned and is showing blisters, fever, chills headache or appears ill, contact your pediatrician immediately. Sunburn can lead to dehydration and is treated like a serious burn. So yes, your friend was right. It is a big deal!

Resource: Baby 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice For Your Baby’s First Year by Denise Fields & Ari Brown M.D. Windsor Peak Press; Fifth Edition, Revised, 5th ed. edition (September 1, 2011)

Sick Kids and Self Doubt by Jessie Weaver

When Libbie was about a year old, I was living with her by myself in our condo in Nashville. My husband was in Chattanooga during the workweek, and I was waiting on our condo to sell. (Ha. That’s been a year and a half. Still own it.)

Libbie was playing around our kitchen island, and I picked her up. And knocked her forehead into the edge of the island.

Libbie wailed. I wailed. I felt like the Worst Mother of the Year award was right there for my taking. And I called my pediatrician’s office, who called my doctor, and then my doctor called me. Just so I could find out, really, it wasn’t that big of a deal. As long as she had a bump, it was OK.

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This weekend I’ve been attending to a baby with a mid-grade fever … not quite high enough to panic, not quite low enough to feel at ease with. I find myself in the same battle I always face: should I call the doctor? Is it a big deal? Sure, I’m supposed to trust my mother’s intuition … but I think it’s a little clouded by the worry a mother has for her sick babies.

The self-doubt is my least favorite part of parenting.

It makes me even more glad that my husband and I are not in it alone. Not only do we have friends, family, a church that loves us, Dr. Google, and Twitter, MD—we have a Heavenly Father who cares for us and our kids.

“In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence and his children have a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26

For some reason, it’s struck me as beautiful lately how God and Jesus are Father and Husband—the two things Jesus was not literally on this earth. God, as Trinity, fulfills every role to us. He is beyond measure.

Because of this, I can muster up some confidence. And if I fall flat on my face as a parent, or go to the doctor when it’s just the sniffles … well, both God and the pediatrician will forgive.

originally published june 2011

When Jessie Weaver is not busy being the resident ParentLife Blogger, she writes at Vanderbilt Wife and also for magazines like HomeLife and ParentLife. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband, where they run after three kids under 5.

Special Needs Parents Need Friends by Ellen Stumbo

Did you know that many parents of kids with special needs feel lonely?

Because of their children’s needs, some special needs parents feel isolated. That birthday party everyone is invited to? Maybe the child has significant sensory processing issues and cannot handle the noise or large crowds. That Bible study at church that takes place during the children’s  program? The special needs mom needs to stay with her child because there isn’t a trained volunteer to help with her child’s needs. That playdate at the park where the moms chatter while the kids play?  Not gonna’ happen! Most likely the child needs help to climb on the special equipment, and there goes the adult interaction.

Parenting a child with special needs can be exhausting. Sometimes, it is easier to stay home. The thing is, special needs parents need friends. They need someone to talk to and someone to laugh with. God created us to be in relationships, we are not meant to do life alone.

What can you do to reach out to a special needs parent?

First, get to know her family and her child with special needs. Can you babysit for an hour or two so mom and dad can go out on a date? Maybe a late-night-date after the kids go to bed?

Initiate the relationship. You can ask, “I would love to get together with you, is there a time or day that works for you?”

Plan playdates around the abilities of the kids with special needs. Maybe a playdate at a park won’t work, but the special needs parent might have some suggestions for fun activities that work for her family.

Call. Just pick up the phone and call. It is amazing how something so simple makes such a big difference. Let your friend know that you are available to talk. And you don’t have to talk about special needs! Just chat about the weather, about the conversation you had with your brother, or about the embarrassing situation you had at the store. Just be a friend and reach out.

ellenstumboEllen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor.

Keeping Young Minds Active During the Summer

Summer is a time for relaxation and family fun, but most parents would agree that their children should be actively engaged in educational activities and experiences over the school break. To keep your child productive, consider the following ideas, broken down into each major subject area:

1. Heed the Need to Read: Countless studies show the importance of summer reading: Kids who read in the summer outperform their peers in the fall. Avoid the “summer slide” by making sure your kids read often during the summer.

●Most libraries have a summer reading program with incentives and prizes. Visiting the library once a week can be a fun family escape. Research shows that kids who choose their own books (with parent approval) read more.

●Create a time during the day when no TV or electronics are allowed.

● Read to your child and listen to your child read.

●Listen to books on CD  while traveling.

●Model reading.

2. Do the Math! Few would argue the importance of math. Skills that are not used are often forgotten, so practice is essential. Besides specialized math tutoring facilities, which are gaining popularity and producing increasingly impressive results, there are many ways to keep math skills sharp at home. Consider these fun activities that allow your child to practice math:

● Follow recipes

● Read maps, and calculate mileage on trips.

● Use flashcards to practice facts.

● Utilize online math practice sites for kids, such as the following:

-Funbrain.com

-AAA math.com

-Coolmath.com

3. Invite ‘em to Write! Good writing skills provide evidence of learning and understanding. Writing makes thoughts and ideas visible and gives children a clear way to express themselves. Encourage your children to write using these ideas:

● Keep a journal on trips and at home.

●Write letters and emails, requiring correct capitalization, punctuation and grammar.

●Let your child record her voice telling a story, then dictate that story onto paper.

●Encourage your child to write one short story a week. Keep them in a folder as a keepsake from the summer.

4. Smart Summer Science:  Science helps us to understand the world around us. Besides being educational, science can be lots of fun! The following activities reinforce important science concepts:

●Visit science museums, zoos, and aquariums.

●Dig for fossils.

●Gaze at stars, find constellations and track the moon’s phases.

●There are many fun experiments that can be done at home. Visit the following web sites for ideas:

-National Geographic Kids

-PBS Kids-Dragonfly TV

-Funology

 

5. Make History with Social Studies Activities-Summer provides an escape from  that sometimes-boring history class. Use the summer months to strengthen your child’s interest in things of the past. History teaches helps us learn from our past and prepares us for the future. Geography knowledge is vital, but often over-looked. There are many activities that can encourage your child’s social studies understanding:

● Visit history museums and historical places.

●Research your family tree.

●Make a map of your neighborhood using a GPS .

●Research and report upon the locations (states/countries) that you visit on vacation.

 

Kelly Wilson Mize is a wife, mother, freelance writer, and fifth grade teacher living in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a master’s degree in elementary education.

Scripture Chair

Surround your child with God’s Word in a unique way. Have her help you paint an old wooden chair with several colors of paint. Use a paint pen to write favorite verses on the chair. Offer a reward if your child memorizes all the verses on the chair.

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Kristen White loves playing and praying with her husband and four kids in Shelbyville, Ky., where they attend First Baptist Church. Catch some encouragement on her blog at www.womenwithroots.com.

 

 

 

 

 

When Everyone Isn’t Happy In Your Re-Marriage

My friend Denise was a beautiful bride. She was in her early thirties when she married Matt and took on the challenges of stepparenting Rylee, his 10-year-old daughter. To others, it seemed like a seamless transition. Denise had been an assistant leader in Rylee’s Girl Scout troop. She had taken special care to make sure that Rylee was often included on her dates with Matt, and she had even spent many “girl days” with Rylee for some one-on-one time. Even Rylee’s biological mom had a good relationship with both Denise and Matt.

But sometime between the wedding kiss and the limousine ride to the reception, Rylee had a meltdown. Running to Denise, she buried her face in her new stepmom’s arms and burst into tears—loud, heaving sobs. Everyone was baffled and wondering, Why? What’s wrong?

A newly married couple is floating on the high of marital bliss, excited to have finally found the right person. Unfortunately, many parents assume that their biological children are as happy as they are about this new marriage. “When divorced parents remarry, they see it as a gain, but a child sees it as another loss,” Laura Petherbridge, author of The Smart Stepmom, explains. “The reason stepfamilies are so complicated is because whether death or divorce has occurred, there has been loss. With loss come grief, fear, depression, and discouragement.” Families take those emotions with them into new relationships. While Mom or Dad may think they have had time to heal, they don’t realize that children tend to be about two years behind adults in the grieving process.

Years later, as a young adult, Rylee explained the emotions behind the tears on that wedding day. Once her daddy was officially remarried, she realized there was no way that he would ever go back to her mother. Sure, she liked Denise, in fact, she really loved her. But as a child, she had long been fantasizing that one day her father and mother would marry each other again, and her home would be put back in place.

“It’s wise for a stepparent to recognize that they need to move very slowly into the life of the step child,” urges Laura. “It takes approximately seven years for a step family to bond. The mistake is when a new couple thinks that since they are happy, the children should be equally as happy.”

Rebecca Ingram Powell is a wife, mother, author, and national conference speaker. Connect online at www.momseriously.com

Real Life Solutions with Dr. Linda Mintle

My son seems to have the idea that he should always get what he wants. I admit that we do tend to spoil him. His toy closet is full of toys that he rarely plays with once the novelty wears off. Last night, he pestered me for something at the store and I said, “No.” He threw a fit and would not stop until I gave in. I’m worried that I might be raising a child who feels entitled.  

 

Your concern is warranted. We have too many kids who feel entitled because of well meaning parents who overindulge. By nature, children constantly ask for things, but when they regularly get whatever they want without any work or stipulation, they can develop a sense of entitlement.  For example, instead of doing chores as part of contributing to the family work, children are paid. It is not true that giving more stuff to your children makes you a better parent. Yet, parents often feel pressured by media and advertisers to provide the latest phone or technical device, the best designer clothing and expensive shoes that will be outgrown in a few months. It’s time to pull back and look at the bigger picture. By giving your child whatever he wants, what are you teaching him? Start setting limits. When my daughter wanted a cell phone at an early age, I said, “No.” I could afford it and many of her friends had one, but she didn’t need it. She didn’t get it and that was an important lesson. Also, create opportunities for your children to earn rewards. All of this requires a shift in your thinking as a parent. Your child is not a co-equal, doesn’t make his own decisions, needs to learn respect for money, things, and you, and should be refused when arguing or being disrespectful. You are in charge, so stop allowing your child to bully you into giving him things. These may sound like tough words, but you will thank me later!

 

Resource: The Entitlement Trap: How to Rescue Your Child with a New Family System of Choosing, Earning, and Ownership by Richard and Linda Eyre (Avery trade 1, 2011).