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All About the 5% Fund

Chelsea Gonzales

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When I started offering services to families, it was to help growing families navigate their postpartum period. I myself had a difficult postpartum after my second baby, and this motivated me to offer the kind of after-birth care that was lacking in our community.

As time has gone on, I’ve had families contact me who truly need postpartum help and support, but cannot afford to pay the full fee for services. So we are working to remedy this problem.

The Importance of Postpartum Care

First, we should address the importance of postpartum care. While we’re all well aware that prenatal care is incredibly important for both mama and baby, postpartum support all too often gets pushed to the side.

Many people believe postpartum care to be unnecessary. After all, if the mother has delivered a healthy baby and is in good physical health herself, she should be good to go...right?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. In fact, an enormous number of women suffer from postpartum mental health problems such as postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. Not only that, but even those women who do not struggle with mental health issues are likely to find themselves drowning as they attempt to deal with enormous emotions while also bonding with their babies and helping their families adjust to the change.

Trying to juggle all of these things can feel overwhelming—even impossible. This overwhelm often leads to feelings of defeat, negative emotions towards baby and/or themselves, or a feeling of hopelessness.

Obviously, none of these are emotions a new mother should be dealing with. This is where good postpartum care steps in.

A postpartum doula can remove some stress by helping out around the house, holding baby while mama gets in some “me time”, and sometimes just talking things out with the new mother. She is there to help the family adapt and welcome their new member while establishing a new normal.

These things may sound simple, but they can make an enormous difference to a set of new parents who feel in over their heads, turning the situation around completely. This is why postpartum care is so very important.

What Nature’s Blossom Birth is Doing to Help

As mentioned before, my mission when jumping into the world of postpartum care was to offer new parents the help I so desperately needed when my second little one came along. I’ve been able to do this with great success for plenty of families in the OKC area.

Not only that, my business has grown from a single doula working on her own to an entire collection of well trained postpartum doulas, meaning we can now help more and more mamas, daddies, and kids adjust to the big changes a new baby brings.

That said, there are many families I haven’t been able to help as much as I would have liked. These families didn’t have the funds to pay full price for my services, and while I obviously offered what support I could, working for free simply isn’t feasible in the long run. For this reason, I have decided to establish the 5% fund.

On August 15th, 2019, Nature’s Blossom Birth began donating 5% of postpartum client fees to help cover the cost of service for families who need postpartum support. That means each and every time we take care of one new family, a family in need will be a little bit closer to getting the support they require.

The 5% fund is my way of giving back to the community and making sure those who truly need postpartum services can have them, no matter their income level.

How You Can Be Involved

Wondering how you can be involved in this new project? It’s easy! Simply sign on as postpartum client, pay the usual fees associated with the service, and give yourself a pat on the back knowing that 5% of what you just paid is going to an excellent cause.

Of course, anyone who wants to help but has no need for services from Nature’s Blossom Birth can also choose to donate to the fund directly by clicking here.

Want to be involved from the other end? That is, are you looking to hire a postpartum doula but worried you won’t have the financial means to do so? Nature’s Blossom Birth will be accepting applications from those who wish to use the fund beginning in October. You will be able to apply by visiting us here on our website.

I am extremely excited to be able to provide this service, and hope to serve as many families as possible in the coming months and years!

Standing Your Ground When Establishing Your Parenting Style

Chelsea Gonzales

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Here’s the thing: Your parents had young children once too. So did your in-laws and your grandparents. All of them have raised little ones, and some of them may have raised quite a few. For this reason, many people from older generations feel they know quite a lot about child rearing, and honestly, they aren’t wrong. They do have a lot of experience.

That said, as is the case with many other things, there is no one way to parent a child. Additionally, modern research has taught us a lot about taking care of babies and children, and in many cases, parenting practices that were the norm 50, 30, and even just 10 years ago are no longer considered safe or acceptable.

Therefore, it is 100% acceptable for you to create your own style of parenting that works for you. This style might be completely different than anything your parents, in-laws, or grandparents would have chosen, and that’s okay.

However, your family members may feel differently. Because they have so many years of experience with kids, they may feel the need to push their own parenting techniques on you, insisting that their way is best.

In these cases, it can be difficult to stand your ground, especially if you’re still figuring out exactly what works best for your family. Here are some tips for staying strong in the face of unsolicited advice and establishing parenting philosophies, routines, and discipline styles that work best for you and your children.

Communicate Your Feelings

Before you get too upset, make sure you are communicating well with your family. Many family members may see their bits of advice as a loving way to help you, or even just a way to make conversation. They may never even consider that they could be hurting you in any way.

Communicating how their comments are making you feel is a good first step and could be the only one you ever have to take.

Do Your Research and Make Intentional Choices

If letting your family know your feelings isn’t enough, the next step is to have a chat with them about why you make the choices you make.

If you’ve done your research and made intentional choices, this should be quite easy to do. Provide the pushy loved one with solid facts that back up your parenting choices, and they should start to understand pretty quickly.

Plan Your Replies

Of course, some parenting decisions aren’t right or wrong, per se. In these instances, defending your choices with facts isn’t an option, and it’s good to have a few planned replies that quickly shut down the argument.

Something along the lines of, “Thanks for sharing your opinion, but my husband and I have agreed that we would like to try this method because it works well for our family.”

If the person continues to push the issue, simply state that you aren’t willing to discuss it further and change the subject.

Be Consistent

Most people are well aware that consistency is key when it comes to parenting. This is because kids love to test boundaries and quickly learn just how far they can go. However, consistency is also useful in instances where pushy family members may want a say in how you parent.

If one of these people happens to notice inconsistencies in how you parent, they’re likely to jump in with suggestions. On the other hand, if they see that you are consistent and what you’re doing is working, they might just back off a bit.

Cut Out Toxic People

In some cases, relentless family members simply do not have anything good to offer you or your family. If you notice a particular person is starting to cause you a ridiculous amount of stress, or if they continuously undermine your authority and thus make it difficult to parent your child, it might be time to let that relationship go.

This can be very difficult to do, but is worthwhile in the end.

Hire a Postpartum Doula

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the pushy people in your life and just need to be supported in your parenting decisions, you might consider hiring a postpartum doula. A postpartum doula will support your parenting style and help you find a groove that works for you and your family.

This will boost your confidence, giving you exactly what you need to stand your ground and become the parent you want to be.

Standing Your Ground in the Weeks Postpartum

Chelsea Gonzales

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The first few weeks after you have your new baby are magical and stressful all at once. They are a time when your family is adjusting, you and your baby will be learning to nurse properly and finding your new groove, and your significant other and older children will be getting to know a new tiny human that just dropped into their lives.

They are special weeks, sacred even, and very important for the bonding of your newly changed family unit.

Unfortunately, not everyone seems to be aware of this fact. Visitors often force themselves upon new parents, causing unwanted disruptions. Sometimes family may even go so far as to invite themselves to stay in your home during these precious weeks. While this can be helpful in some cases—especially if the family member in question is helpful around the house and with older children—it can also be a major problem.

Besides unwanted visitors, you may also run into issues with family members who insist on holding or touching your newborn against your will, or go ahead and bring young children to see the baby when you’ve asked them not to. Other postpartum mamas complain that parents and grandparents have a tendency to push their own parenting ideas on them.

All of these things are added stress that can put strain on your new family dynamic, make nursing more difficult and adding to the overwhelming emotions you’re likely already experiencing.

If you find yourself running into such problems with family after your little one arrives, you are going to need to stand your ground in order to ensure you get the postpartum experience you deserve. Here are my top tips for doing just that.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Sometimes the issue is merely that your loving family doesn’t even realize there is an issue. Be sure to communicate your wants and needs during this time.

Let people know before baby comes that you may not want visitors right away, but you’ll let them know when you do. You may also use this opportunity to set boundaries such as no kids, no holding baby, etc. Make sure they understand that you love them and that these decisions weren’t made to offend them, but to keep your stress levels in check and keep baby healthy.

After baby comes, let people know when they are allowed to drop by and remind them of any rules you wish to be followed. In many cases, this solves any problems before they ever arise. If you have pushy family members, you may even wait to announce baby’s arrival until you’re ready for visitors.

Set Up Visitor Hours

Having set visitor hours can be extremely helpful in ensuring you aren’t dealing with a steady stream of visitors all day long.

Choose two or three hours during the day when you’re okay with people stopping by, and let people know that that’s when you’ll be available. Be strict, ask people to leave when those hours are over, and don’t answer the door at other times of day.

Don’t Try to Entertain

Some new mamas feel obligated to entertain people who come to see the new baby. This is, of course, ridiculous. Nobody is expecting you to have a spotless house or serve snacks, and if anyone does, they are in the wrong, not you.

Require Hand Washing and Wear Baby

If you’re nervous about germs, require people to wash their hands when they walk in the door. Have a hand washing station set up and usher people to it before anything else happens. You may also want to wear baby in a wrap, making it more difficult for people to touch the little one and impossible for them to snatch baby out of your arms.

Request that Visitors Help Out

Not only are you not required to entertain visitors, it’s also perfectly acceptable to ask your family to help out a bit while they visit. Most family members will be happy to help out a new mama, but may not know what needs doing.

Nicely asking these loved ones to throw a load of laundry in the washer, clean the dishes in the sink, or bring a meal when they come is perfectly acceptable.

If you’re not comfortable asking for this kind of help, you can always have a friend set up a meal train or something similar, so you aren’t the one asking.

Do Your Research

If you feel like someone in your family might be a bit pushy with their parenting philosophies, be sure to do a bit of research before the baby comes and know why you are making the decisions you’re making. Present the pushy family member with facts and they are unlikely to argue.

If the choice you’re making can not be proven right or wrong and is merely a matter of opinion, simply thank the loved one for their advice and let them know you’d like to try your way for now.

Enforce Your Rules

If people do attempt to push the boundaries you’ve set, you will have to firmly let them know you won’t roll with it.

For instance, if someone shows up with kids in tow after you’ve asked them not to, you should absolutely say something along the lines of, “Sorry, but we aren’t letting children visit right now in order to protect our baby from the cold that’s going around. Maybe you can come by without the kids tomorrow?”

Kindly letting people know they cannot walk all over you may be difficult at first, but it will put you in a much better position in the present and on down the line.

If you simply aren’t comfortable doing this, you might consider handing the job off to somebody else. Often, it’s easier for a close friend or spouse to enforce the rules you set, letting people know it’s what the new mama wants.

Hire a Postpartum Doula

A postpartum doula can help relieve a huge amount of the stress that comes with being a new parent. She will be supportive of your parenting choices, something that can be a sanity saver when your family is questioning you every step of the way. She will also be happy to help out around the house, ensuring your home is not a complete wreck for any visitors you may have.

Standing Your Ground When Creating Your Birth Plan

Chelsea Gonzales

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One funny thing you may notice when having a baby is the fact that everyone has an opinion. It’s crazy how many people will openly share their opinion on where you should give birth and how you should go about it.

In most cases, you can shrug off this unsolicited advice and go on about your day. However, there may be some people in your life who are a bit more insistent, pushing their opinions down your throat and attempting to control your birth choices.

It’s important to realize that no matter who these people are—whether they’re close family or your best friends—they should not have any say at all in how you birth your baby. Remember that this is your body, your child, and your experience. You and your care providers are the only people who get any say in how it all goes down.

Of course, it’s much easier for me to sit here and tell you that than it will be to quiet the steady stream of unwanted opinions and advice. In fact, many new mamas have no clue how to react in these circumstances. This is understandable. After all, you’re being put in a very uncomfortable situation.

Fortunately, there are some things you can try.

Have a Firm Opinion

If you appear to be wishy washy about your birth plan in any way, people are much more likely to try and sway you. Therefore, before you share anything with anyone, make sure you have a firm plan in place. When you do share, let people know that this is what you plan to do, avoiding phrases such as, “We were thinking...” or, “I’m hoping...”

Share Your Reasoning

Sometimes all a person might need to hear is your reason behind making the choices they deem “off the wall”. Therefore, my advice is to start by opening up about your emotional and personal reasons for making the choices you’ve made. If you share the thoughts and emotions behind your decisions, those pushy people might just come around and realize you truly are doing what’s best for your family.

Educate, Educate, Educate

Still no luck? This is the point where you will want to educate your loved ones on why you’re doing what you’re doing using science and set-in-stone facts.

Do your research, know your facts, and share them with the adamant individuals to help them see you aren’t crazy. Be ready to back everything you say up with studies and other forms of credible proof. Sharing well-researched and well-put-together documentaries is often ideal.

Put Your Foot Down

If the naysayers persist after being told the many reasons you're choosing what you’re choosing, it’s time to put your foot down. Simply state, “This topic is not up for discussion” and move on. Say this (or something similar) every time the topic arises and refuse to entertain any conversations related to how you will birth your little one.

Keep It on the Down-Low

Of course, if you have a feeling your family will disapprove of your birth plan, there is the option to avoid all of this drama entirely by keeping your plan on the down-low and answering questions as vaguely as possible.

Already let the cat out of the bag? You can still use this tactic to an extent by not calling family and friends when you go into labor, and keeping the baby's arrival a secret until you’re ready for visitors. This will keep prying loved ones out of your business during delivery and in the hours immediately after.

Hire a Doula

Bringing in a doula can help with this issue in several ways:

  • First, a well-educated doula can help you educate yourself in order to make a well-researched birth plan you feel confident defending.

  • Secondly, a doula will advocate for you during labor and delivery, ensuring no unwanted visitors arrive on the scene.

  • Lastly, a doula will provide emotional support throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery when your upset loved ones may be less than willing to do so.

Looking to hire a doula for your upcoming birth? We’d love to help! Contact us today for more information.

How Postpartum Doulas Help New Mothers Settle Into Their Parenting Styles

Chelsea Gonzales

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Almost every new mother needs help at some point or other. For some, this help may come from a close relative or friend. However, many are hesitant to ask for help because they are afraid of having their parenting style criticized.

This is understandable. Many people— especially those from older generations—are quick to share their parenting opinions and push their favorite “tips” on younger mothers. They feel that since they did things one way and it worked for them, everyone should go down this path. Not only is this annoying to brand-new mamas, it can be pretty discouraging as well.

In order to avoid this discouragement, many mamas avoid requesting help entirely and never receive the support they need during the postpartum weeks. This doesn’t have to be the case. Postpartum doulas are the perfect helping hand for mothers who have just given birth, and they make a point of helping mothers settle into their own parenting style.

How does a doula go about this? Read on to learn more.

A Listening Ear

A doula is, before all else, a listener. She takes the time to sit with her clients and really listen to what they think and what they want. She acknowledges without judgement or critique, and takes note of everything that is said. She may even ask questions of the parents in order to ensure she fully understands their wishes.

A Wealth of Knowledge

While the doula always listens first, she is also happy to help those who are unsure about certain aspects of parenting by providing well-researched and unbiased information on a variety of topics. By offering up her wealth of knowledge, she can help new parents come to their own well-informed parenting decisions, helping them develop a parenting style that is their own.

A Respectful Attitude

After listening to what her clients really want, a postpartum doula respects those desires by adhering to those wishes throughout her stint with the family. As long as the children and parents are safe, she will never push a parent to change their way of parenting and will do her best to match that parenting style while caring for both the family’s older children and the newborn infant.

A Supportive Personality

Postpartum doulas are some of the most supportive people you will ever meet. They don’t discourage a struggling new mother, but instead lift her up and encourage her to keep trying. That said, if a mom decides to change paths because the current path isn’t working, a doula will be supportive of that as well, offering understanding and respect.

An Extra Pair of Hands

Obviously, a postpartum doula is also around to offer an extra pair of hands. Sometimes those extra hands are exactly what new parents need in order to establish their parenting style and create a solid foundation for their parenting future. After all, it’s pretty difficult to make big parenting decisions and build a new identity as a parent when you’re struggling just to stay afloat.

Do you need a postpartum doula to come and help you settle into your parenting style? We’d love to help! Please contact us today for more information.

Postpartum Sex 101

Chelsea Gonzales

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In the weeks after giving birth, you probably aren’t going to be thinking too much about having sex. Your newborn and a distinct lack of sleep are both responsible for this—but really, it’s just as well, all things considered.

You see, just as you might imagine, intercouse is not usually very comfortable immediately after giving birth. This is true if you gave birth vaginally, of course, but can even be true for those mamas who’ve had c-sections. On top of that, postpartum bleeding can make intimacy quite difficult, and your care provider will probably want you to wait awhile before jumping back into things anyway.

Still, the time will come when you and your partner are ready to get back into the swing of things, so to speak. It’s good to know when you can do so, and what to expect when you do.

Wait It Out

First and foremost, you will need to allow your body to heal a bit. Failing to do so could lead to infection. In most cases, six weeks should be plenty of time. However, in some cases you might need to wait longer. Therefore, it is always a good idea to get permission from your care provider.

Tone Up

While you’re waiting for your time to arrive, you might as well make use of your time by toning up a bit down there. Doing kegels every day will help strengthen your pelvic floor, making sex more enjoyable for both you and your partner when the wait is over.

Not sure how to do kegels? Check out this article to learn how.

Know What to Expect

Even after waiting a full six weeks or more, your body will still be healing. Because of this, and because of hormone fluctuations and physical changes in your body, sex will likely feel different. When you consider what your body went through to bring a baby into this world, this isn't at all surprising. Still, this change in the way sex feels does come as a surprise to some women.

If you go in knowing that things will feel different, at least for a while, and that you might even experience a small amount of discomfort, you’ll be much better off.

Get Protection

Women can and do get pregnant immediately after giving birth. This is even true for breastfeeding mamas. Therefore, unless you want two babies back to back, and unless your care provider has given you the go-ahead to get pregnant again, you will want to ensure you have some sort of birth control before hopping in bed.

Relax and Warm up

Having sex for the first time in weeks or even months might make you feel a bit uptight. This isn’t fun for anyone. Help yourself relax by having a glass of wine beforehand.

On top of nerves, hormone fluctuations can cause women who have just given birth to be quite dry down below. A bit of lube can solve this problem in a jiffy. Add in plenty of foreplay and you should be good to go.

Communicate Your Needs

Don’t be embarrassed to communicate your needs to your partner. If you need to go a bit slower than usual, let them know that. If something hurts or is uncomfortable, put a stop to it. Remember that you can stop at any point if you need or want to.

Free Ways to Get Exercise With Kids in Tow

Chelsea Gonzales

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We all know how important exercise is. Unfortunately, getting in daily exercise as a mama to your kids can be pretty difficult. Finding time away from the kids is nearly impossible for some parents, and distracting the little ones long enough to get in a workout is even more so.

Sure, you could pay for a gym membership and drop the kids off at the gym nursery. However, this isn’t ideal for everyone. Some kids have separation anxiety, making drop-off a traumatic event. Meanwhile, some mothers simply can’t afford the extra cost of a gym membership.

Wondering what the solution might be? Why not involve the kids in your workouts? Below are 5 fantastic and free ways to get in your daily exercise with the kids in tow. Not only will these solutions help you get the exercise you need, it’ll also get the kids involved, setting them up for a lifetime of healthy habits.

#1: Head to the Park

Every kid loves the park. Why not give the kids what they want and head to the park more often? You can easily tie a workout into a trip to the park, and the kids will have a blast playing while you’re there.

One option is, if you’re close enough, to put the kids in a jogging stroller and jog or walk to the park, letting them get out to play once you arrive. Don’t have a park within walking distance? Try taking the stroller on a few laps of the park's walking trail before hitting the playground. If your kids are older, there’s also the option of letting them play while jogging around the perimeter of the play area.

Any of these options allow you to get in a jog or brisk walk while giving the kids a chance to play. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

#2: Do Yoga Together

Yoga is a great, relaxing way to wake up your body. It’s fun to do by yourself, but it’s even more fun to do with the kids.

Try heading over to YouTube and working your way through a couple episodes of Cosmic Kids! yoga together each day. Kids love these interactive videos, and they actually give us adults a decent workout.

Another option is to find “mama and me” yoga sessions in your area. Sometimes these are offered by the local library system. Meanwhile, some communities offer free family yoga sessions in the park. Lastly, you might check local yoga studios for free workshops and trial classes.

#3: Have a Dance Party

If your family is having a bad day and everyone is in a crabby mood, heading out to the park or getting everyone to pay attention and do yoga might be a bit difficult. Instead of forcing those things to happen, try putting on some music and having a dance party instead.

This less structured exercise is a great mood booster, and kids adore it. Let the little ones dance however they please, but make sure you’re working yourself by throwing in some jumps, twirls, and leaps. Don’t worry about looking silly. Just worry about having fun and breaking a good sweat. You're sure to feel better afterward.

#4: Get Down on the Floor

You probably find yourself on the floor playing with very tiny children a few times throughout the day. You can actually take advantage of this floor time and give yourself a bit of exercise while you play.

Floor stretches, planks, push-ups, and crunches are all great exercises to do while on the floor playing with your babies. This means you can kill two birds with one stone, and your little ones will be perfectly pleased the entire time.

#5: Break Out the Bike

Finally, there is the awesome option of going for a bike ride. I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like riding a bike, and babies and toddlers will love sitting in a bike seat or bike trailer. Better yet, the added weight from little passengers will increase your workout. If you want to make good use of your time, consider riding to the grocery store to pick up a few things. You’ll have the items you need to make dinner, the kids will have fun, and you’ll get your exercise in.

Just make sure baby is old enough to ride along, and put helmets on everyone for safety’s sake!

Healthy Snacks in Early Postpartum

Chelsea Gonzales

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Getting anything done right after having a baby can be overwhelming. For many new mamas, showering becomes a thing of the past, and even simple chores—such as sweeping and washing dishes—get pushed to the side.

This is perfectly okay, of course. After all, the weeks right after giving birth should be dedicated to connecting with your little one. That said, there are some things that do still need to happen. For instance, you have to keep eating. In fact, if you are breastfeeding, eating enough and getting good nutrition are more important than ever.

Wondering how on earth to juggle a decent diet and take care of your newborn? Snacking is an excellent way to go about this. Eating plenty of healthy snacks throughout the day will keep you fueled up and won’t take too much time, meaning you won’t have to drop everything to cook and can continue snuggling your baby for the majority of the day.

Below are some awesome healthy snack suggestions for postpartum mamas. Add these things to your grocery list and prep them before baby arrives, and you’ll be good to go for several days after you give birth.

Pre-Cut Raw Veggies

Raw carrots, broccoli, snap peas, and celery are super easy and tasty snack foods. They provide lots of vitamins, and can be dipped in ranch or other condiments to make them even more delicious. Be sure to cut the vegetables beforehand to save yourself time and energy later on.

Smoothies

Looking for a quick and easy way to get lots of fruits, veggies, and protein all at once? Smoothies are an excellent option. Stock up on frozen fruits, protein powder, yogurt, juice, milk, and other smoothie ingredients. Throw a handful of spinach into every smoothie you make to get in some leafy green vegetables!

Trail Mix

Sometimes you just need something super easy to munch on while nursing your little one. This is where trail mix can step in. It’s just as easy to grab and snack on as chips and the like are, but much more healthy. Try to find a mix that contains plenty of nuts and fruits, then snack away, knowing you’re getting good nutrition in a yummy, easy-to-eat package.

Boiled Eggs

Another great way to get a decent amount of protein in a single snack is by chowing down on boiled eggs. Making a dozen boiled eggs is easy enough to do while baby is napping, and the snacks can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. This is great because it means you can grab one whenever hunger strikes, without ever even setting your little one down.

Fruit and Yogurt

Craving something sweet to eat? Skip the candy bar and pull out the fruit and yogurt instead. This wonderful snack will satisfy your dessert craving while skipping the refined sugars and still putting plenty of nutrients into your system. To make things even easier on yourself, purchase pre-sliced fruit and yogurt in individual cups.

Cheese and Whole Grain Crackers

Sometimes you need something with a bit of crunch. Whole grain crackers are a great way to get that wonderful crunch, and pairing them with some cheese can make this a complete and filling snack. Triscuits are a great example of a good, healthy snack cracker, and they pair well with pretty much any cheese you prefer.

Nut Butter and Bananas or Apples

Nut butter is a super yummy snack that, when eaten in moderation, is really good for you. Add the nut butter to apple slices or a banana and you’ll be looking at a really tasty, easy, and nutritious snack, making it ideal for busy new mothers.

Traveling With Young Children

Chelsea Gonzales

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Many people believe traveling with young children is next to impossible. Fortunately, this is far from the truth. When you do a bit of planning and pack your bags well, not only is traveling with babies and kids possible, it’s super fun and rewarding.

That said, there are some things you will want to know before you jump into the world of travel with children. By keeping these tips and tricks in mind, you should be able to have a relatively relaxing and fun trip.

Give Yourself Time

As you know, everything takes longer with kids in tow. Give yourself extra time for everything. This means showing up to the airport early, scheduling plenty of time between layovers, and cutting back on the amount of stuff you expect to do each day of your trip.

Pay for That Extra Seat

Even though babies under 2yo fly on a lap for free, you’re going to want to go ahead and pay for that extra seat, especially if your flight isn’t a short one. A squirmy baby in your lap for 8 hours is no fun.

Pack Car Seats for the Plane

Technically, kids don't have to have car seats on the plane. That said, not only is bringing the car seat along safer, it’ll also make things easier for you, as your child will be less likely to wiggle and try to escape the seatbelt.

Have a Drink Ready for Takeoff

If you’re flying, be aware that takeoff and landing can be hard on little ears. Having a bottle or sippy cup ready to go will give your little ones a way to pop their ears and keep them from fussing.

Bring Entertainment

Toddlers and older kids will want something to do during the flight or car ride. Be sure to pack plenty of entertainment. Otherwise, you’ll have to do all the entertaining yourself, which will make the trip much less fun for you.

Bring Favorite Snacks

Hungry kids are grumpy kids. On top of that, many kids are picky, making it difficult to find a snack they’ll accept. For this reason, we highly recommend packing your kids’ favorite snacks.

Buy and Bring an Extra Lovey

If your child has a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, buy a second one and pack it, leaving the original at home. This will keep your kid happy during the trip, but will protect you from the possibility of a lost lovey.

Stick to Your Schedule

As difficult as it is during vacation, you will want to stick to your usual schedule as much as possible. This means scheduling things around lunch and meal times. Sticking to your schedule will help your kids feel secure and comfortable, and should help them continue to get the proper amount of sleep.

Keep it Age-Appropriate

Expecting a toddler or preschooler to sit through a performance of Cats or a meal at a 5-star restaurant isn’t fair and wont turn out well for anyone. Instead, take your vacation expectations down a notch and try to find activities the whole family can enjoy together.

Don’t Leave the Medicines

The positive parent in you may want to leave all the medications behind. Don’t do it, because having basic medicines and bandages on hand can be a lifesaver. Additionally, you will want to pack and continue using vitamins in order to keep the family as healthy as possible.

Pack Extra Clothes

Kids are messy. For this reason, you will want to pack an extra outfit or two for each little one. After all, nobody wants to spend vacation time doing laundry thanks to spilled milk.

Have a Plan

Having a solid plan and reserving and paying for as much as possible in advance are both extremely helpful. They will reduce wait times and ensure things flow well, keeping the kids happy and reducing the stress you experience.

...But Be Flexible

While you do want to go in with a good plan, being flexible is also super important. You never know what might come up, and going in knowing things may go wrong will help you maintain a positive attitude and have a good time anyway.

Keep Track of the Kids

This one seems a bit obvious. However, you might be surprised how easy it is to lose your kids in a busy airport or a crowded museum or zoo. Always have an eye of your kids and keep wanderers in strollers or carriers whenever possible.

Get Safety Bracelets

Of course, even the most watchful parents could still lose track of their little ones in certain situations. For this reason, investing in safety bracelets that include all of your contact info, and making sure older kids know what to do if they become separated from you, are essential steps to take.

Screen Time and Kids

Chelsea Gonzales

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We are raising children in a time unlike any before. A time when screens are so prevalent that most kids understand how to operate a tablet or smartphone by the tender young age of 2. Of course, this causes us parents to wonder and worry whether giving our kids access to screens is the right thing.

There haven’t been many studies on the long-term effects of screen time during childhood. While some of the studies that have been done do suggest some negative effects of large amounts of screen time, they have given vague results at best as scientists struggle to decipher whether certain results are a cause or an effect of children becoming addicted to screens. Therefore, we are left to fend for ourselves until we have more solid evidence to base our decisions on.

Fortunately, our gut instinct tends to lead us in the right direction when it comes to parenting decisions. Remaining informed and open-minded—as well as paying attention to how screens affect our children as individuals—should make it easy to set boundaries that feel natural and right to us.

The Benefits of Screens

Ever since the dawn of the household television, screens have had a bad reputation. Often said to “rot children’s brains”, many parents refuse to see anything but bad in the screens that surround us.

That said, there is plenty of good these devices have to offer, and weighing the good against the bad is always the best way to make difficult parenting choices. Therefore, we are first going to take a good look at the benefits of screens for kids.

Benefit #1: Technical Literacy

Computers and smartphones are now a part of everyday life for the average American. Knowing how to use these items is crucial for holding a job, and having skills using certain programs or coding knowledge is becoming more and more valuable.

Allowing your children to experiment with computers from a young age will increase their technical literacy, something that will likely be helpful as they grow older.

Benefit #2: Engaging Introductions to a Variety of Subjects

The variety of things you can learn from videos and games is endless, and new educational media options are being put out into the world on a daily basis. By handpicking the content your children are allowed to use on their tablets or computers, your devices could actually become very valuable educational tools.

Additionally, by giving your kids fun ways to learn new things and allowing them to help you curate their apps, games, and videos, you’ll be setting your kids up to become lifelong learners who love gaining new knowledge and know exactly how to find it.

Benefit #3: Effective Parenting Tool

This final benefit is one that many people frown upon. That said, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and we think most parents would agree that tablet time is a very effective parenting tool in certain situations.

After all, if you have to take your kid to an important meeting, or even if you just need a tiny bit of quiet time for sanity’s sake, being able to hand your kid a tablet full of educational material certainly can be a lifesaver.

The Negative Effects of Too Much Screen Time

While plenty of good can come from allowing a child some time on a tablet or computer, we all know it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. The aforementioned studies have suggested a number of issues that could be caused by excessive amounts of screen time in childhood.

Negative #1: Obesity

As you might imagine, more time spent in front of a screen leads to less time spent outside running around. Kids are meant to move, and when they don’t do so, extra weight tends to show up.

We all know how terrible obesity is on a body, and nobody wants this for their kids. Limiting screen time and ensuring our kids are getting plenty of time for running, climbing, and jumping is crucial for avoiding this situation.

Negative #2: Diminished Academic Success

Some studies have suggested that kids who spend two hours or more on their screens each day score lower on thinking and language tests. This translates to diminished academic success and can cause many more problems down the road.

That said, these results are not definitive, and it seems that those who spend fewer than two hours on their tablets or computers do not suffer from these issues.

Negative #3: Sleep Disruption

Did you know that the blue light from screens can cause sleeping problems when used too close to bedtime? This has been proven and explained by science. Poor sleep can result in poor performance in school and other activities, as well as a host of other issues.

Negative #4: Weak Problem-Solving Skills

It’s also logical to assume that too much tablet time—especially if that time is spent taking advantage of passive entertainment—could result in weaker problem-solving skills. Considering how important problem-solving skills and thinking outside the box has become in the modern workforce, this certainly isn’t something we want for our children.

How to Balance Screen Time in Your Family

So how do you go about offering your children some screen time for increasing their technical literacy and allowing them to explore educational topics without suffering from these negative effects? The answer to this is different for every family. That said, most experts agree that 30–60 minutes of screen time per day is a good amount for any child.

Below are some other ideas for keeping things balanced and avoiding screen time problems.

Screen Time Last

Require certain things before screen time can happen. For instance, make sure your kids have plenty of outside time, do their chores and homework, and get in some exercise before they can have a few minutes on their tablets.

Scheduled Screen Time

Scheduled screen time also tends to work out well, and many families choose to schedule their screen time for weekends only.

Use a Timer

If your child has a hard time when it’s time for their tablet or computer to go off, try setting a timer. It’s hard to argue that a timer is wrong when it says time is up.

Choose Content Wisely

Carefully pick and choose what your children are allowed to do on their tablets or computers. Download apps that you feel are useful in some way rather than mindless games, and check out all shows and movies before you allow your children to watch.

No Evening Screens

Finally, set a cutoff time for screens in your house. Make this at least an hour before bed in order to help prevent sleep problems caused by too much screen time.