Friday, December 23, 2011

A Toddler Christmas- on the Huffington Post

My four-year-old daughter, Elana, is beginning to understand giving and, more importantly to her, receiving. December is a magical month for her, filled with Hanukkah, Christmas, parties and presents. It's a time when Daddy doesn't go to work, and we visit grandparents. Since we live in San Francisco and they live on the east coast, it's also the one time of year we see snow.

I vividly remember the Christmas I was Elana's age. My brother Sam and I lived with our mom in a duplex in a small, depressed, rural Oregon town. Our parents had been somewhat bitterly divorced for a few years, and my mom, who had just earned her certificate at a local college, was a first-year teacher in a very deprived Native American town nearby. Our savings account was empty, and my mom was struggling to get off welfare. My brother and I knew that we had less money than our friends at preschool, and we prepared ourselves not to see much under the tree on Christmas morning.

Read the rest here: A Toddler Christmas

Monday, December 19, 2011

Maybe Dora Does Teach Spanish Afterall

A few months ago I wrote a post about how Dora the Explorer  may not teach Spanish, but she sure is a great babysitter (also titled Why It's Really Not So Terrible To Let Your Toddler Watch TV).

Well, it turns out I was wrong.  While I still firmly believe that a little television here and there is not causing harm to my children (and I endorse it as an important parental sanity-saver), I may have prematurely judge Dora's teaching abilities- maybe the pint-sized explorer does teach our children a little Espanol.   

Last month my older daughter was home sick, the kind that left her lethargic and really sweet, and she spent the weekend lying on the couch watching Nick Jr. (ok, we read books too).  After the fourth continuous episode packed with Dora, Boots, Backpack, and Map, she excused herself to the bathroom and requested some alone time.  As she was sitting on the toilet trying to poop, I heard her talking to herself, “Abre, por favor! Abre!” 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sleep is the New Sex

Sorry for not including an image in this post. I doubt my husband would be game for posing.

First of all, I would like to apologize for the lack of new material here on Married With Toddlers.  Even though I have been busy writing for other outlets, I still plan to blog regularly on this platform.
Currently I am writing an article on livening up a couple’s sex life after the “miracle of birth”.  While researching facts for the piece I came across some interesting statistics that I thought many of you would appreciate. 
Research conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago:
  • The average married couple (with or without children) has sex a little over once a week (68.5 times a year).   
  •  Couples who have sex less than 10/year are considered to be in a “no sex/low sex” relationship.  About 20% of couples report being in this category.
According to Dr. Barry McCarthy:
  •  Couples that are happy with sex life rate sex as only 15% of their overall martial happiness.   
  •  Couples where at least one partner is sexually unsatisfied report sex life to make up 85% of their overall marital happiness. 
A survey of 500 women by Prima Magazine found:
  • The average childless couple has sex 10/month.
  • The average pregnant couple has sex 5/month.
  • The average couple has sex 4/month after the baby is born.
Depressed yet?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Winkie or Fandango- How to Talk to Your Toddler about Sex

A month or so ago I promised you all an article about talking to kids about their private parts.  It was finally published on Babble: Winkie, Zizette, or Fandango.

I wanted to especially thank all of my friends and readers that shared their special terms for the girl and boy parts... ok, ok, I'll say it, for the vagina and penis.

Friday, December 2, 2011

From a Singleton to a Duo: Preparing for a Second Baby

(This article was first published in the Dec/Jan edition of the Golden Gate Mother's Group Magazine.)
Photo Courtesy of Karin Ascencio.
You have peed on over a dozen sticks and each one continues to give the same result...another
baby is brewing in your belly. While you are ecstatic at the thought of once again holding a
newborn, other emotions complicate this joyous time. How in the world are you ever going to
juggle two, when finding time to bathe with only one child has proven nearly impossible? In
addition, how will your firstborn react to a new creature invading his space and taking away his
precious mommy time? Will you even be able to find more room in an already overfilled heart?
Along with new joys, your second pregnancy brings a new set of fears and worries. You may no
longer be scared about caring for an infant, but what about the infant/toddler combination? The
good news is that you are not alone; these are fears that every second-time mom faces. While
nothing can fully prepare you for the addition of another baby in your life, there are steps you
can take to make the transition easier on you and your family.

Change Your Mindset
  •  There is no need to be a super-mommy. Sure, the mom next door is raising four children under the age of five without any help, and she prepares delicious and nutritious nightly homemade meals from scratch that even her toddlers eat, but that may never be you. Children survive just fine on frozen pizzas and babysitters. Embrace whatever comforts you can afford, including Dora the Explorer and Thomas the Tank Engine.
  • It is okay for your older child to go to preschool in her pajamas. Sure, some of the other
    mothers may snicker, but far more will find you brave in your decision to fight one less
    morning battle.
  • Find time to indulge yourself. Children do not need mommy martyrs that sacrifice all semblance of self for their little ones. Even though the past two years of your life have revolved entirely around your firstborn, start penciling in some “me” time.
Prepare Your Life
  • Find help. In the first few weeks after childbirth, you will most likely have difficulty caring for both children by yourself. Whether you deliver vaginally or by c-section, healing time is always needed, as are plenty of naps. Schedule family members and friends to help you transition during the first month.
  • Discuss expectations. Before the new baby arrives, sit down with your partner and discuss the roles each of you will need to play after the birth. Negotiate household chores and the care of the older child.
  • Rework your budget. Additional children require more than just extra time and love; they also need supplies--diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, clothing, and the list goes on and on. Be prepared for the financial adjustments as well.
  • Make a hospital plan. This time around, your labor and delivery plan does not focus on ice chips and remembering the CD player. Instead, you now have to worry about who is going to watch the firstborn once your contractions hit the four minute mark. After the birth, who is going to bring her to see her new little sibling? Will she attend preschool that day? Will your husband/partner spend the night with you in the hospital, or go home to the toddler? The arrangements get trickier the second time around.
Not only do you need to prepare yourself, but you also need to take some time to prepare Child
#1 for the blessing that is Child #2. Bonnie Romanov, a parent educator at San Francisco’s
Parents Place, offers these tips for helping your firstborn adjust to the new bundle of joy.
  • There are a plethora of children’s books on the subject of new siblings. Many highlight the mixed emotions children feel when a new baby arrives. Check out a few from your local library and spend time reading and discussing these with your little one. 
  • Have your older child help you with the preparations for the new baby. Although toddlers are of little help with organization, together you can shuffle through the bags of newborn clothing and go shopping for new burp cloths and onesies.
  • Use pictures to illustrate how babies grow and pretend play with dolls to demonstrate how to care for a baby. 
  • Avoid other big changes in the months leading up to and after the birth. Of course some changes are necessary but, if you can, save the move to a new preschool or the introduction to potty training for a different time. 
  • Peruse Siblings Without Rivalry, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. While most of the book pertains to older siblings, they also offer pertinent advice for toddlers and newborns.  

Once the baby comes home, Romanov also suggests the following: 
  • Be prepared with a gift that the younger sibling can “give” to the older. In addition, when others visit with gifts for the newborn, encourage them to bring along a little something for the older child as well.
  •  When your older child visits you and the baby for the first time, have someone else hold the baby so that you can shower the older child with hugs and kisses, letting her know that she is also important.
  • Be patient with your older child. It may take a few days, or weeks, for her to warm up to the new creature stealing all of her hard-earned attention. 
  • Respect the older child’s emotions, whether they are love, anger or confusion. All of these feelings are normal and important for children to experience.
  • Expect some regression. It is normal for the older child to start waking at night, having potty accidents or not wanting to attend preschool.
  • Find quality, one-on-one time to spend with the older child. Acknowledge that she is able to paint with you, read with you and play at the park, all because she is a big girl.
Finally, make time for both you and your other relationships--the ones that don’t involve a sippy cup. Each additional child puts additional stress and strain on a marriage, so it is important to find time as a couple away from the pint-sized dictators running your home. While consistent date nights are a great way to keep the focus on each other, with a newborn, this proves more difficult. However, you can always find time for a date night-in. Order takeout and spend an evening without smartphones, computers or TV. In addition, create a “welcome-home” ritual in which the two of you greet each other with a hug and kiss. Thirty seconds of physical connection can be a crucial ingredient to many marriages.

Books for Kids

These books may help your older child cope and express her concerns over the pending arrival.

Lisa’s Baby Sister (Gaspard and Lisa Books), by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben. Lisa’s mother has been pregnant for a long time, and Lisa is tired of it. However, she is not exactly excited for the arrival of her new baby sister, either. In this charming story, Lisa experiences the common emotions many children feel during this time.

A New Baby at Koko Bear’s House, by Vicki Lansky. This is a simple story with very simple illustrations about a bear getting a new sibling. The bottom of each page offers tips for parents to make the transition smoother.

The New Baby, by Mercer Mayer. There is a new baby in Little Critter’s home and she is a problem. He can’t play with her and she cries quite a bit. By the end of the story, Little Critter discovers what he is able to do with her and how to be a good brother.

What Baby Needs (Sears Children Library), by William and Martha Sears, Christie Watts Kelly and Renee Andriani. With cute, colorful illustrations, this book introduces children to what a baby really needs. The book also includes tips and advice for parents, in accordance with Dr. Sear’s attachment parenting philosophy, and “What about Me?” sidebars that let the child know that her needs are important, too.