Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Detoxing the Kids’ Rooms: The Dirty List

Monday, January 26th, 2009

The following excerpt is taken from Squeaky Green, the Method Guide to Detoxing Your Home, written by Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry:

The Dirty List: Kids’ Rooms
This is the nasty stuff that you should be eliminating from your life, if you followed all of our tips and suggestions.

  • PVC Plastic Toys
    Toys made from PVC and vinyl contain phthalates that leach into the body through the skin and when placed in the mouth. Solution: ditch any plastic with the number “3″ and be suspicious of any soft plastics. Generally the harder the plastic, the less likely it is to leach. A good test is to smell the plastic; if you can smell plastic it means it is off-gassing and you are breathing it.
  • Diaper and Wipes Bleached with Chlorine
    Diapers and wipes that are bleached with chlorine (which is how that diaper gets white) can rub onto your little one’s skin. Solution: reach for nonbleached or chlorine-free instead.
  • Nonbiodegradable Wipes
    While the eco-diaper dilemma is a tough one, it is easy to switch to biodegradable wipes. Most of the traditional wipe brands are full of plastic filler so they live in landfills for centuries. Solution: befriend biodegradable wipes.
  • Mattress and Bedding Residue and Off-Gas
    Traditional mattresses and bedding can contain synthetic materials that can transfer residue or off-gas while your child sleeps. Solution: demand natural options such as organic for anything that goes into the bed. Same goes for those fluffy stuffed animals.


Tips for Having Enough Energy to Survive Daily Life with Small Children

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

• Be sure to get enough rest. It is so easy to stay up late after the
children are in bed to have a few precious hours of solitude. But if
this time comes at the expense of your sleep, you and your family
will eventually pay a high price for these few hours.

• If mornings are hard for you, make sure you get up before your
children. Allow yourself a few minutes to adjust to the day before
you are inundated by your children’s needs. Have time to take your
shower, or drink your morning cup of coffee. Do whatever you need
to do to say “Good morning” to yourself. Once you’ve greeted the day, it is much easier to face the unbounded enthusiasm of a cheery toddler first thing in the morning.

• If your children nap, take that time purely for yourself. Parents need
downtime, too. Read a book, take a nap, do something creative—
anything to nourish yourself. Don’t feel as if you have to make that
the most productive hour of the day. Think of this time as your time
to renew your batteries, not as the hour to get everything done
that hasn’t been done all day.

• Eat regular meals. It is so easy to ignore your own needs. When
things get hectic or children become overwrought, it can be a challenge
to remember to feed yourself. Even if it is just a five-minute
break to eat a peanut butter sandwich and drink a glass of milk, sit
down. Show your children how to take care of themselves by taking
care of yourself.

• Remember to drink plenty of water (not Coke, not coffee—but
water). It’s amazing how much energy proper hydration provides.
To figure out how much water you require, divide your weight in
pounds by two and drink that number in ounces of water. So if you
weigh 140 pounds, you need 70 ounces of water, or just about nine
eight-ounce glasses. If that sounds like a lot, you probably aren’t
drinking enough. Try it for a couple of weeks and see how you feel.
You might be surprised. (more…)

Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Hello

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I learned a fair amount about parenting from my “firstborn,” a larger-than-life golden retriever. Perhaps the most important lesson she taught me was to never underestimate the value of a good hello. Every day after work, I would come home to a whirling dervish of a dog. I soon learned that how I handled those first few moments of togetherness could make or break the quality of my (our!) evening.

A quick ruffling of her head with a “Hey there, Sandra McJean!” meant I’d be in for a long evening of “Stop chewing on the armoire!” and “Why are you barking?!” On the other hand, if I gave Sandy 10 minutes of undivided attention upon my arrival, it made all the difference. Given a little play time, some serious petting, and encouraging words, she’d be good to go for the rest of the night. When I became mother to my first daughter, I recognized the drill! Sure enough, the tone for an entire evening had a lot to do with how those first few minutes were managed. Did my daughter feel seen and heard-truly welcomed and full of my love for her, or did she feel overlooked and insignificant, leaving her empty and wanting more, more, MORE!? (more…)

“Are We There Yet?”

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

A few years back, when our boys were 8 and 11, we took a vacation to Yosemite. We stayed at a place more than a few minutes outside the park (read: long car ride!). After several days of driving too long and hearing “Are we there yet?” too many times, we decided to explore closer to our hotel. We’d heard of a nice hiking trail just a few minutes away and set out one morning.

Walking around a corner and going just a bit, we found ourselves transported to our own mini Yosemite experience. We hiked for several hours, discovering so many little treasures, from a sweet horse named Clark to the smallest little friend, a black and yellow caterpillar. We even discovered a couple of small waterfalls with rock ledges. These turned out to be just right for our boys, since they wanted to climb around. By the end of the day, they were happy, relaxed, and ready to take on another car ride the next day!

Moral of the story? Sometimes we just try to cram too much into a family vacation. As adults we want to “see” everything, when in fact there are so many other things to see. By the way, on our drive home, I was not at all surprised to hear that my boys’ favorite experience was our mini Yosemite hike. It warmed my heart knowing that we’d made the right choice to experience part of our vacation on our kids’ own terms.

The Saga of Cindy Johnson

Friday, November 21st, 2008

I no longer remember how I came up with the idea to create Cindy Johnson. But it is with great joy that I now share my most favorite (and effective) parenting tool for toddlers and preschoolers. As you well know, this age group can exhibit some pretty disconcerting behavior at times. For me, the invention of Cindy Johnson dissipated everything from the ugliest of department store debacles to nerve-racking back seat conniptions.

When my daughter Ann was nearly 3, I made a 7-1/2-inch paper doll that looked just like her. (Well, as much like her as any non-drawing mom could be expected to draw.) Although I didn’t know a “Cindy” or a “Johnson,” I named my creation “Cindy Johnson.” On one side, she had a smile on her face, and on the flip side, she had a frown. I used clear Contac paper to “laminate” Cindy, which, after 21 years, has preserved her appearance better than Vitamin E has preserved mine.

I never left home without Cindy Johnson. Her permanent residence was in my purse, so I could whip her out at a moment’s notice, no matter where we were. Whenever my daughter’s attitude rivaled that of a Pekingese without food, I knew it was the perfect time for Cindy Johnson to make her appearance. “Ann,” I would say, “I feel like a Cindy Johnson story right now, but I need you to be quiet so I can tell it.” Neither “time-outs” nor threats of logical consequences could bring about quiet in such record time. Because I tell impromptu stories about as well as I draw, I marvel to this day that my daughter was so engaged by these simple stories that generally all followed the same basic outline: 1) Cindy Johnson and her mom would be having a pleasant time together (smiling face). 2) A conflict would arise. 3) Cindy would be very, very angry because she didn’t get her way (frowning face). (more…)