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Guest Post: Strategies for Helping Your Child’s Language Skills

Guest Post: Strategies for Helping Your Child’s Language Skills

I am my child’s most important teacher in life.  As a reading specialist, I know how crucial early language and literacy skills are for young children.  It sets the tone for the rest of their lives. As my children grow up, they still remember the 

Five Essential Tips for Moms on Starting Their Own Business

Five Essential Tips for Moms on Starting Their Own Business

There’s a lot that moms and entrepreneurs have in common: mainly that they are the CEOs of their respective areas and have to put up with a lot, but they persist. Balancing work and home life can be tough, but it’s becoming more and more 

Breastfeeding Tips: How to Overcome the Challenges as a New Mom

Breastfeeding Tips: How to Overcome the Challenges as a New Mom

Being a new mom can be overwhelming in many ways; there’s so much to think about, plan for, and worry over that it can be stressful even when you’re not sleep deprived. Breastfeeding is one of the biggest causes of anxiety for mothers for a variety of reasons. While it’s the best source of nutrition for an infant and provides much-needed bonding time, it can also cause many moms to feel like they aren’t doing a good job in their new role when breastfeeding becomes tricky or near-impossible.

First of all, it’s important to realize that having issues with breastfeeding is common, and that it doesn’t mean you’re failing at anything. Every baby is different, so what works for one mom may not work for another. Even if you feel prepared for breastfeeding and have read every book on the subject, when the time comes it may not come as easily as you’d hoped. That’s okay! Second, reducing stress and anxiety is one of the first and best ways to help things go more smoothly, so try to be patient with the process, and with yourself.

Here are some tips on how to overcome some of the most common challenges a new mom faces.

Make your home a tranquil environment

Having a relaxing environment can make all the difference when you’re stressed, and that goes double for new moms. Create a comfortable, soothing space where you can feed your baby; a rocking chair with a nearby table that can hold tissues, bibs, salve (nipple care is extremely important during this time; for more tips on that, head here), and a breast pump is perfect. Tailor the space to fit your needs and play relaxing music, burn lavender candles, and tune out the world so you can focus on your baby.

Consult a lactation specialist

There are many details that go into breastfeeding, so it can be difficult to think of everything. Get some help from a lactation consultant who can observe feeding time and give you helpful pointers, such as how to hold the baby, how to minimize pain, and how to make little changes to the routine if something feels off.

Get support

A lactation specialist can help you with the physical details of breastfeeding, but other moms can assist with the emotional ones. Consider joining an online support group for breastfeeding moms, where you can vent about any frustrations you may have and get positive feedback. It can be extremely helpful for a new mom to have someone to talk to, especially when that person understands what she’s going through.

Ask for help

When it comes to chores and other housework, leave it to your friends and family members for the first several weeks after you come home from the hospital, or consider hiring a cleaning service. It will really benefit you and the baby if you can focus on both your needs rather than worrying about laundry, cleaning bottles, and tasks others can perform. Don’t be too shy to ask for help or speak up when it’s offered!

Just as every baby is different, so is every mom. Don’t worry too much about what the other mothers in your life are doing; instead, focus on what works for you and your child, and remember to be patient through the first few weeks. A stress-free environment, a lactation consultant and the right support can make all the difference. Soon enough you’ll be riding the high of parenthood with your new bundle of joy.

Springtime Activities For Single Moms: Head Outdoors And Reap The Benefits

Springtime Activities For Single Moms: Head Outdoors And Reap The Benefits

Single moms always have a lot on their plates to keep up with so finding the energy to exercise, and ensure that their kids exercise as well, can be a challenge. Many families fall into a rut during the winter months, but once spring hits 

Light Up The Holidays By Effectively Managing Stress

Light Up The Holidays By Effectively Managing Stress

The holiday season abounds with fun, family, friends, and food in spite of the often colder, blustery weather. However, for some the season presents an emotional challenge that can be hard to overcome. Whether impacted by the loss of a loved one, the stress of 

Benefits and How-To’s of Gardening

Benefits and How-To’s of Gardening

Considering a vegetable garden? There are so many benefits, that a lack of interest seems to be the only deterrent, and if reading this article, you already have the interest. It’s hard to find reasons not to try it!

Let’s look at some potential benefits:

  • Mental: Gardening offers clarity of mind and can be a mood booster, reducing stress and lifting depression.
  • Physical: Gardening provides exercise through the burning of calories, hence potential weight loss. Through exercise we see benefits to our health, such as lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and dementia, and ultimately helping you to sleep better.
  • Fresh produce: Regardless of whether choosing to grow your plants organically or not, eating the produce you grow will make it taste better. You control the “garden to table” freshness. If the vegetables are readily available, you will be more likely to eat them. If you are a parent, your children will also benefit.
  • Increases your self-confidence: Eating the produce you grow gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride. Seeing a basket of beautiful produce grown through your efforts is very rewarding.

Let’s debunk the myths:

  • Not enough space: There are many creative ways to raise an edible garden. Certain plants can go in between others even within the landscape. You can use a lot of creativity with container gardening.
  • May get more produce than I desire: You can always freeze or can your produce. There are also many options of sharing produce with others such as through churches or community organizations.
  • Gardening gets messy: If you do a little bit of weeding each day or a small section at a time, a smaller garden is very manageable.
    My neighbors might not appreciate it: Commit to making your best efforts to keep the garden tidy, particularly in close quarters. Respect for neighbors can go a long way. A bit of weeding every time you go outside, regularly checking for insects, and fencing to keep from enticing predators to the neighborhood will help. Share produce with neighbors. Think through how to make a garden more neighbor-friendly if this is a concern. As a matter of fact, this gives you a social connection with other people – another benefit.
  • I may not have the time when harvest time comes: If you are not sure about time to raise a garden, invest in your agricultural community. If you don’t mind spending a bit extra for the benefit of fresh, possibly organic produce, you can investigate purchasing a seasonal half share or share in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It’s a viable way to support farming in your community.
  • My HOA (Home Owners Association) may not allow it: If gardening is a priority for you, check out the gardening guidelines of the HOA before you purchase a home. The rules might vary from flexible to rigid. After you find out what is allowed, how and whether the rules are enforced, try to stay within the perimeters. Think outside the box. You can plant colorful and attractive plants such as kale, Swiss chard, or eggplant. There are herbs you can plant around the house. You can show creativity with container gardening. Mixing in beautiful flowers will also make your garden more attractive. Be friendly to your neighbors: building positive relationships can go a long way.

You may have the yard space to put your garden in the ground or build or buy a raised bed to keep your garden well contained, depending on your budget. You could also create a garden border with bricks, stones, or living plants, or use unique containers for your plants. These might be found inexpensively either through end of season or garage sales. Measure and mark your plot and then you can begin preparations. Once you have your garden frame, load with a good quality soil, plant, fertilize, water, and watch it grow. As the season progresses, you can plant vegetables that will grow into the fall, to extend your harvest. As the picture suggests, ornamental cabbage has eye appeal. Planting ornamental cabbage and ornamental kale for the winter will add yard appeal.

There are many benefits to gardening, physical, mental, and social. Attractive edible gardens are easy and possible with some research. You can find resources online to guide you. Happy gardening!

A Safer Halloween

A Safer Halloween

Parents, Halloween is on its way. That means costumes, costume parties, corn mazes, pumpkin carving, haunted houses, and a whole lot more will become part of your to-do list. You probably fondly remember all the fun Halloween activities you enjoyed as a kid, and want 

3 Tips for Parents Raising Socially-Conscious Kids

3 Tips for Parents Raising Socially-Conscious Kids

In today’s political climate, families are actively speaking about their beliefs and standing up for their rights. While some protests turn violent in the United States, the majority of them remain peaceful and give parents a venue for showing their children how to use their 

How to Become a More Active Family This Year

How to Become a More Active Family This Year

Childhood obesity is on the rise, and it’s not hard to see why: With kids spending six and a half hours in front of screens every day and dwindling school recess times, children are getting less physical activity in a world that bombards them with calorie-packed convenience foods. But beyond curbing screen time and preparing healthy meals, how can you ensure that your family is as healthy as possible?

Create Active Family Time

Creating a healthy family starts with leading by example. When parents are active, happy, and healthy, children grow up appreciating the importance of physical activity and wholesome nutrition. Make a point to carve out an hour out of your busy schedule every day, and dedicate it to physical activity. But instead of hitting the gym, come up with activities you can do as a family. Whether it’s walking the dog around the neighborhood, shooting some basketball, swimming, or working in the garden, getting moving with your children is a wonderful way to reach recommended activity levels and strengthen your family’s bond.

Plan Your Weekends

Unstructured play is great for kids, but too much free time can easily lead to a weekend of loafing on the couch complaining of boredom. Instead of letting weekends fall to the wayside, plan at least one active family activity for each weekend. It costs nothing to start a backyard game of flag football or go on a nature hike, but it can be a valuable bonding activity that gets your blood pumping. The weekends are also a great time to try out new activities. Rent some equipment and check out the local rock climbing gym, try geocaching, or take a couple of canoes out on a nearby lake or river. You’ll instill a sense of adventure in your children and maybe even discover a new family hobby along the way.

Rethink Holidays and Vacations

When it’s time to plan spring or summer vacations, think of destinations that let you incorporate physical activity into your getaway. That may be as simple as taking a family stroll down the boardwalk, or as complex as an active vacation like hiking in the mountains or exploring a national park. You can take that same approach to holidays and family get-togethers, too. Hold birthday parties at the roller rink or batting cages, make a backyard game of badminton a family reunion tradition, and check out the local Christmas lights on foot, rather than by car.

Model Healthy Eating

Another important way parents create an example for their children is by the way they eat. Eating dinner as a family lets parents model healthy eating behaviors to their children, and once you establish a dinnertime routine you’ll be less likely to find yourself turning to fast food or frozen dinners in a pinch. Acknowledge differences in food preferences, but encourage young children to try new foods a few times before writing them off. And understand that bestowing good eating habits onto your children is about more than cooking healthy meals — the way you approach wholesome foods is just as important. Point out the good qualities of different fruits and vegetables, and use positive language and praise — not the threat of punishment — to push kids to try new foods.

Finding time to get active as a family is no easy feat when kids are loaded with homework and parents swamped with work, bills, and chores. But the small things you do together as a family can amount to major impact on your children’s lifestyle both now and into adulthood. Take it easy and incorporate one small change at a time, and before you know it your entire family will be on a path to health so fun that it hardly feels like work.