Thursday, June 15, 2017

She is Pregnant! 15 Things Dad Can Do!

One thing is for sure you love your wife and she is going to have your baby. I do not think there is anything more likely to bring out a man's urge to protect. Your family is expanding and no doubt you have a variety of feelings, concerns, and thoughts all competing for attention. However, during this wonderful time there are some things you can do. Here is a list of 15, to start you offl do't stop here just let this be the start of the ongoing list you create in caring for your family as it grows!

  1. Your urge to protect needs to be logical. She is still the strong, smart, capable woman you fell in love with. So, recognize though she is in the family way and will appreciate the extra care and attention. She is not a child so do not treat her like one.
  2. Morning sickness is hard. You know how your wife is when she is sick treat her that way. If she likes to be babied and pampered by all means do so. If she prefers to be left alone, occasionally ask if she needs help or how you can support her, otherwise leave her alone.
  3. Expect her to be exhausted. The lovely little one growing inside her is pulling on all her systems to grow and thrive. We always say a woman is eating for two. In fact, she is breathing for two, her heart is pumping for two, she is even walking for two. You get the message. In addition the baby only grows while she is sleeping, because that is how the body works. This means her sleeping will greatly depend on what stage of pregnancy she is in. Some if it has to do with trimesters. But, mostly it is dictated by the baby.
  4. Make sure she is fed. Because she is doing everything for two. She will be hungry more often. Pay attention to her cravings and try to keep those things on hand. Also, buy fresh foods like fruits and veggies she can grab and snack on. This is not a time for low fat diets encourage her to eat and drink full fat products.
  5. Pamper her as much as she will let you. Remember she is pregnant and not sick. However, carrying a child is hard on the feet. So, a foot massage a couple of times a week is great. Sleep can get difficult being a body pillow for her is awesome. But, if she is the kind of girl who does not like to be touched while she sleeps. Buying her a body pillow and sleeping in the guest room may be a great way to allow her to get some rest. Be sure to ask her if you sleeping somewhere else will help her rest better. Be sure she knows you are trying to pamper her not reject her.
  6. Women have body issues. Your wife is growing round. If she is having more than one baby it will happen pretty fast. Tell her she is beautiful. I have heard from many men their wives are sexier to them when they are pregnant. Tell her that and mean it.
  7. Sex will not hurt the baby, but the subject could make your relationship harder. You know your wife's sexual appetite. Sometimes, this changes during  pregnancy talk with her about how she feels about it. Hormones make a big difference it may ramp up or down, be prepared. Recognize it has more to do with hormones than how she feels about you or your relationship.
  8. Hormones are ruling her life. The fact she is pregnant releases a slew of hormones, and the growth of the baby produces a variety of hormones ongoing at differing times. Which means her brain is constantly being washed over with hormones. The result of this is called pregnancy brain. This ongoing wash causes women to have a type of brain fog. Their clarity is not as sharp and they can become forgetful.
  9. Go to Doctor visits. This is your wife and your baby considering pregnancy brain you want to be there to hear what the doctor has to say. This way you know how to support her. Please avoid statements like the doctor said too often. But, gentle reminders will be appreciated.
  10. Help design the nursery and recognize her need to nest. Many women will start wanting to talk about the nursery almost immediately after finding out they are pregnant. This is the nesting instinct, respect it. Listen and contribute ideas. if you are a handy guy talk about making somethings for the baby. Most parents want the new baby close so a cradle or bassinet would be a super project.
  11. Recognize you are both scared. Becoming a parent is an overwhelming thought, let alone a reality. Talk with her about your fears and listen to hers. Read or listen to books together about parenting. Help plan things like finding childcare, doing product research on which is the best crib and crib safety, check out car seats, look into insurance needs, plan a 529 plan. Coordinate your maternity leave, see how your 12 weeks can dovetail with hers. The first few weeks are heard plan to be there.
  12. Read to the baby. The first sense to develop in utero is hearing. Infants are often born recognizing the voices of their parents. As your wife sits or lays down put your head near her stomach and read. It would be fun to re-visit all your favorite childhood books. Going out and buying them would be a great way to begin building a great library for your child.
  13. Birthing Coach-are you good under stress? Labor and delivery is no place for the weak or faint of heart. This is the one place I am going to use this phrase-be a man and be willing to recognize your limitations. Do you want to man up and be there for your wife and child of course you do. But, can you do so realistically. Are you one who faints at the sight of blood. If they have to do an emergency c-section are you willing to be there? Hiring a Doula who will give you both good child birth information can be essential in this process. The doula is your family support person. Having them with you could make all the difference.No judgement here if you feel you can do it goes for it! But, if you just feel too overwhelmed by the process talk to your wife about letting her mother, sister, or best friend do the job. Be in the room and be apart of the process no matter what but you can let someone else coach. I encourage you to just have an open honest conversation about it
  14. Read the books Gift of Blessing/Gift of Honor. These two books one by Gay Smalley and the other by John Trent help men think about their roles as husband and father and gives them the tools to do it well.
  15. Seek the counsel of other men. Being a Dad is not a project of isolation. Other men have been there. Talk to the men in your life about being a father and how they handled things. Share the joy, sorrows, and challenges of being a Dad with the other dads in your life.
Of course these things are just the tip of the iceberg and over the course of time many more ideas will come. Your are joining the ranks of parenthood. You can do this!

Believe in Parenting

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sex, Vaccinations, and the School Bus

Did you know in the 21st century the average age of the first sexual experience is between 10-12. In 2010, the #1 sexually transmitted disease for girls 10-14 was gonorrhea of the throat. I found this out when writing my course called Parenting and Mentoring Teens. It was during this time I discovered The story many tweens were participating in sex in the rear of school buses. Remembering my middle school years I was not really shocked; however, I am concerned. when I was in middle school HPV was nonexistent. Now, someone can develop a very difficult to detect cancer based on something they did in middle school.

So, let me say, I was not surprised when I heard a few short years later about a vaccine for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) for girls of this age. Are you shocked? Dismayed?  I am talking about these things because we live in a world where oral and anal sex are considered preferable because there is no risk of pregnancy. I talk about these things because many assume having they can push talk about sex until later. When children not only may know more about sex, than you think many may have participated in sexual activity as young as 10.

For those of you with children age 9-14 it is time to sit down and have a frank discussion about sexuality, relationships, Gardasil, and cancer.  I am a big believer in abstinence. I do not buy into the lie people can not remain celibate. Sex is an urge not a need. Teach your children the difference. Please do not give them a mixed message. Either you expect them to care about themselves, their bodies, and the other people in their lives enough to abstain, or you do not. Just in case is permission, whether you like it or not. It is this which allows others to get into your child's head and make what is not acceptable the practice of everyday life. riding home on the school bus However, this is not the place to quote lay down the law. This is about building a safe place to talk about uncomfortable things. Make this conversation as low key and relaxed as possible. Practice talking about what you want to say with your spouse or significant other until you become comfortable enough with it you can be relaxed with your child.

This is the number one place you need to be real and authentic with your child. Be willing to share your mistakes. what you felt and how you either did or did not resolve the issues. Sex is not only part of life it is the act which creates life. Therefore, we need to talk about it in the context of what is real personal and emotional. Sexuality is the deepest form of communication between partners which exists on the planet. If there is not connection it turns what is supposed to be rich and fulfilling; into something ugly and sad. Teach your children what you know and how you learned it.

This is not giving them permission. It is giving them the information they need to protect themselves. Knowledge is power. Being open and honest with your children about this topic gives them to tools they need to protect themselves with so much more than a shot.

Believe in Parenting

Monday, June 12, 2017

Motherhood a journey, Not a destination

Congratulations, you are going to have a baby, or two. LOL! The excitement and fear you feel are both normal and healthy. Taking on motherhood can be a mind blowing prospect. Yet, I encourage you to take it one step at a time. The #1 thing you need to be a great Mom is to just relax and be yourself.

Authenticity is the ability to line up your beliefs, thoughts, words, and actions and live accordingly. If you concentrate on it and loving your child, the battle is much less stressful. The rest us about the love, respect, nurture, and care you give on a daily and consistent basis. Remember, 85% of what your kids will learn from you will be from seeing what you do and how you do it. So, invite them into your world and do things with them. Keep in mind also what you say to them in the young years will become the ongoing tape in their heads when they are your age. Speak kindly and tell them the whole truth about who they are. Give them the benefit of the doubt and help them to correct mistakes and issues.

In the Miley Cyrus song "It's the Climb" she sings it best "it is not how fast you get there, or whats on the other side It is the climb." You have 365 days a year to love on your kids. Ultimately, motherhood is the journey you take with your child as they grow from the helpless babe in your arms to the full grown adult who will leave your home after deciding the next steps of their journey.

Here and now I encourage you to not only enjoy this time of pregnancy. But, the wonderful journey you are about to embark upon. Love and be true to yourself! You have got this, enjoy the climb and

Believe in Parenting

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Gestational Diabetes: What to Eat?

Gestational Diabetes is a hormone imbalance where the Pancreas starts making not enough insulin for both Mom and baby. It usually dissipates once the infant is born. Maintaining health in the meantime really does depend on Mom's diet. Being a diabetic myself I want to share with you the strategies I use. This blog is to help you as soon as you get home. It will help you until you can get further medical help.

Carbohydrates are the number one issue for diabetics.  This is because the pancreas is responsible for keeping the sugar in the bloodstream even. Every carbohydrate becomes sugar in the blood. The key here is to avoid simple carbohydrates. The darker the carb the better. Because simple carbs digest very quickly in the body. For instance, sweet potatoes are better than any other kind of potato, pumpernickel bread is better than white or even wheat. Sprouted bread is great, make sure you get a name brand like Ezekiel or something from a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's to be sure it is not full of pesticides.

Grains Some grains are better than others for slower digestion of the sugars in the food. The key to remember is the closer a grain is when it comes out of the ground when you eat it the better. Therefore, eating steel cut oats is better than packaged oats. Here is an article from the Huff Post of 17 yummy looking recipes. Brown rice is better than white rice. I use the following recipe for brown rice.

1 cup of brown rice
3 cups of water
1 carrot washed not peeled
1/2 onion
1 stalk of celery
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Put all ingredients in a cassorle dish and cover. Bake on a cookie sheet for 45-55 minutes or until all the water has evaporated. Remove veggies before eating. Or you can cut the vegies into bite sized pieces before cooking makes a great side dish.

Sugar is the one thing most folks have issues with replacing. Sugar substitutes can be horrible. Both on the pallet and in the body. Natural ones are better. The two I interchange are stevia and monk fruit. I have developed a taste for both. Some people do prefer monk fruit as it seems to taste less bitter. For stevia I love Sweet Leaf  brand. They have so many products available it boggles the mind. They have everything from loose powder, packet, tablets, and liquid water enhancers, to flavored sweeteners for your variety of needs. I love to add the vanilla drops when I make smoothies, or a squirt of chocolate and caramel in my coffee for a treat. Monk fruit mostly comes in powder form I have tried Monk Fruit in the Raw. But, another brand some friends use seems just as good it is called Lakanto

 Milk I have learned most Diabetics have a hard time with cow's milk. The lactose carries a lot of sugar. However, if you are going to drink cow's milk stick with whole milk. In the skim milks they add sugar to replace the fat so it tastes better. You can try drinking other kinds of milk. Almond, coconut, goat, and cashew are the most popular. I drink Califia Farms an almond milk. I have tried most brands this has the feel of cow's milk in the mouth, which is why I like it. Califia also carries creamers, cold brew coffees and other items. Many of which you will have to order online. I have tried coconut milk,  and have used it from time to time. However, like the oil you have to like the strong taste of coconut. Goat's milk is another which I like but get it in a carton not canned because it picks up the tinny flavor. Consider goat milk is drunk by most of the world. Also, rice milk is an alternative. I have not tried it so I have no hints on it.

Protein is a great friend of the diabetic. Because proteins cause carbohydrates to be more steadily absorbed by the body. I suggest if you eat a carb eat protein too. Fish, meat, nut butters, cheese, and eggs are all considered proteins. Then there are beans and legumes which are considered both a carb and a protein. Quinoa is the only grain which is also a whole protein. It is a good alternative to eating rice and oats. I use the same recipe  for Quinoa as brown rice (above). Another great thing about protein is that the number of proteins in a product lessens the carb count. If the proteins on a product is at 5 grams (g) or above you can subtract one carb per each gran of protein over 5. So if a product has 15 g of protein and 25 total carbs you can say the food has 10 g of carbs.A serving of protein is about the size of your palm.

Fruits and Vegetables generally it is best to stay away from high glycemic fruits such as bananas, and dried fruits. Juice of all kinds are also not recommended. Because if the number of fruits it takes to make one glass of juice. One orange may have 15 carbs, the five oranges in a glass of juice has 45. When eating fruits reach for preferably fresh or frozen berries, oranges, apples, cherries, grapes. kiwi, plums, peaches, nectarines the list is extensive

You also want to watch for waxy and starchy vegetables. These include things like beets, peas, corn,  and white potatoes. Instead, you want to reach for fresh or frozen peppers, broccoli leafy green vegges, okra, parsnips, radishes, cucumbers, onions, rutabaga, the list goes on and on.

Important Rule for eating carbs-There is one basic rule for women eating carbs 15 g of carbs per snack, 30 per meal between 90 and 120 per day. Keep in mind this includes grains and fruits. One piece of fruit is generally 15 carbs (10 grapes). Most veggies are low on the carb count. But, if you are eating frozen check the label to be sure.

How often to eat is also important to keep your blood sugars on level. Everyone eats differently. However here are two rules of thought. Eat breakfast. Even if you only drink a smoothie your body needs the protein. If you are drinking cows milk. There is a yogurt drink called Kefir usually sold near the yogurt cups. Put 8-12 ounces in the blender. Add whatever fruit, a pinch of salt and stevia to make a good smoothie since it is cold no ice needed. My fav is strawberries with chocolate stevia. The other is eat steadily all day. 3 meals and 3 snacks or eat a snack of at least three food groups every 2 to 3 hours.

Water  Drink one half of you body weight in water each day. This will help your body process sugar and it is the only substance which cleans you kidneys. Adding some lemon, orange, lime, or other fruit in with you water can help. Remember, stevia makes water enhancers. Also, I love coconut water. It helps with blood pressure. So, make 8 oz a day one of your servings.

I hope this gives you a general guide of what to eat. Here are some other suggestions:

  1. Go to visit a dietitian and let them help you draft a more detailed eating plan.
  2. Limit your caffeine and carbonated drink intake. (If you must have a soda there is a company called Zevia which makes soda sweetened with stevia.)
  3. Drink ginger tea, and ginger ale. (Make your own by boiling a 1 inch piece of ginger a quart of water and add stevia. You can add just a touch for tea or enough to sweeten it for adding carbonated water to make ginger ale. I also like ginger lemonade. Add the juice of 4 lemons and into the ginger 'syrup' and two quart of water.)
  4. Sleep your body needs sleep as a diabetic your body needs sleep in order to process the sugars out of your body. Also, this is when your child grows. If you can work in a 2 hour nap with 8 hours a night. Or 10 hours a night all the better. Keep in mind you will need more sleep as your pregnancy ensues. Towards, the end of your pregnancy you will begin to feel all kinds of energetic. Curb the desire to use it for hours of getting things done. This energy is your bodies way of gearing up for childbirth. If you use it up it will be harder on your body to give birth. Also, dehydration causes childbirth to be more difficult. I suggest once you start labor drink coconut water until you can not drink and go to ice chips.
I really hope these tips help. Congratulations on your baby and as they grow I know you will do all you can to love and support them. You can do this!

Believe in Parenting


Thursday, June 1, 2017

How to Talk to Kids about Death

Let’s just get it out there: nobody really wants to talk to kids about death. Death is a part of life none of us really want to deal with, and helping children deal with grief can be really difficult, whether parenting or nannying. So, how does a nanny help a child who has suffered a loss?

First, the nanny needs to deal with her own grief and sadness. Remember, we are the models for kids. How we deal with death and grief is how they will deal with it. We must determine how we feel about death and dying, preferably before we have to help children deal with it. Talking to kids about death is important, but we can't do it until we have had a conversation with ourselves.

Questions to ask yourself about death and grief:

  • What do I feel about my own mortality?
  • How did I handle my last bout with grief and sadness?
  • What do I believe about the afterlife? What do I want to teach kids to believe? What do my employers believe, and how can I support them in dealing with grief and sadness?
  • What do I want to tell the children about remembering the (person or pet) we need to say goodbye to?
  • Could I benefit from group or individual grief counseling?
I suggest that, as you think and talk about these questions with your own loved ones, you keep a journal. Doing so will allow you to revisit your decisions and not have to rely on your memory. Organize everything you think of as associated with grief in one spot, so it is easy to grab and use. Once this is done, you will be more relaxed and less stressed, should something inevitable happen.

Now that you have thought about your position on death and grief, you are better prepared to help the children you are nannying.

General Tips for Helping Kids after a Death

There are several things you can do to support children during times of grief and sadness.
  • Communicate. Talk about your feelings and theirs, read books for kids about death, grief and sadness together. Give the children words they can use to discuss their feelings.
  • Be physically affectionate. On purpose, give more hugs, and let children be close while reading, watching TV or movies, or playing games.
  • Be active. Provide a variety of activities for children to get involved in. Children need physical and mental distraction, and trying new activities in addition to their favorites may help them to move on.
  • Pay attention. Pay close attention to how the child seems to be processing through their feelings of grief.
  • Consider grief counseling. Discuss with your employers any plans for children to attend a children’s grief support group. Grief counseling is vital if the child experiences the loss of a parent.
One important thing to keep in mind when nannying children who have experienced a death is that children are naturally egocentric, which means that - right or wrong - they believe they are linked to everything that happens. It is a safe bet that the child somehow blames himself or herself for the death. For example, a child may think: "I did not finish my vegetables and that is why my dog, Scooter, died."
When talking to kids about death, emphasize that death is part of life and that no one is to blame, but that the child especially is not at fault.

How you handle your approach to death and grief will largely depend on the age of the children.  If a child's grieving behaviors last for more than three months, encourage your employers to speak with the child's pediatrician about intensive specialists for children's grief counseling.

Talking to Kids about Death: Birth to Age Three

Many people make the mistake of thinking of children and grief as incompatible at this age; people believe that infants and toddlers do not have emotions like the adults. This is not true.
Babies can and do feel grief and sadness, especially if the loss is of a parent or caregiver. Infants and young children who are sad, stressed and showing signs of grief may begin to:
  • Show signs of lethargy
  • Complain of frequent tummy aches
  • Become cranky and clingy
  • Take a developmental step backwards, such as a potty trained child having more accidents, or a child's talk reverting to babble or baby talk.
Book suggestions:
Are You Sad, Little Bear?: A Book About Learning to Say Goodbye by Rachel Rivett
What Happens When We Die? by Carolyn Nystrom
These two books about children and grief can help to give you the words to use to talk to kids about death, as well as the basic concepts to help advance the child's understanding of death.

Talking to Kids about Death: Ages Three to Five

Children of this age tend to exhibit their grief in a variety of ways, especially depending on the child's maturity. Do not assume that the child will grieve by being sad - instead, remember that the stages of grief include anger, denial, and bargaining.

Children of this age may rebel, use their imagination in new ways and to the extreme, or attempt to make "deals" more than before. Your nannying responsibilities may be less about talking to preschool-aged kids about death, and more about listening to them.
Kids of this age experiencing grief tend to:
  • Be crankier than before the loss
  • Cry more easily than before the loss
  • Seek out more comfort than before the loss
  • Revert to a previous developmental stage
  • Display some personality change. Usually a shy, quiet child becomes loud and belligerent, or an animated child becomes more reserved.
Book Suggestions:
Always and Forever by Alan Durant.
The Purple Balloon by Chris Raschka
These books are age-appropriate to help children actively discuss their grief, while showing them that other people experience death and have empathy for their feelings.

Talking to Kids about Death: School Age (Kindergarten-5th Grade)

Children this age are still egocentric and can blame themselves for illness, tragedy, or death. However, the older a child gets, the better he or she understands the differences between cause and effect.
Grief counseling can be especially important for social adjustment during school years. School-age children want to do succeed,  get along with peers, and do activities they enjoy. Nannying school aged children while they deal with a loss will definitely include supporting them through any social adjustments.
Sadness and grief in children of this age often show as:
  • Lethargy or lack of interest in activities
  • Feeling sick often
  • Crying easily and often
  • Lack of interest in being with peers
  • Wanting to stay home from school
  • Waning grades
Book Suggestions:
Rudi’s PondCharlotte’s Web and The Secret Garden are all books which explore the way children and families deal with sadness, grief, fear, and loss.

Explore Grief Counseling Options

Don't underestimate the value of sharing and expressing grief with others. If you feel the child you are nannying is struggling with overwhelming grief, do everything you can to support the family in their recovery. A licensed grief counselor is often the child's best resource if all other options are exhausted.
Dealing with grief is a part of life which is difficult for us all. Do not hide your grief, sadness, confusion, anger, or other emotions surrounding death. Share these with your children, while modeling healthy ways to handle tough times. Talking to kids about death is important, and showing them compassion for their loss teaches them important skills they need for their emotional maturity.

Believe in Parenting