Practical Moms Feature: Things I Can’t Say

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I know what you’re thinking…we just got out of school.  Some of you might even be thinking that you’re still waiting for school to end.  So why are you staring at a picture of a miniature pencil worn to the end?  Because sometimes the end of school is also the time that you need to think about the beginning of school…even if you really want to think about cocktails and sunsets.

The beginning of Kindergarten is a big change.  And when you have kids who need a little extra help (with or without the IEP)…you need to plan ahead.  I asked my friend Shell to drop by and share her thoughts, because she is one of the best advocates out there.  She works hard and she is a lot of great things but, above all, she loves her boys and advocates for them every step of the way.

If you are a blogger, chances are you already know her.  I’m sitting here trying to think of all of the very best things I can say about Shell (there are many, trust me), but the thing that stands out the most is that she’s kind.  She truly cares about other people and when she jumps in and helps it’s because she genuinely wants to help.

Shell blogs over at Things I Can’t Say, which is equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking depending on the day, and you should definitely head over there and introduce yourself and visit her very active Facebook Page.  But first…some very practical advice from Shell.

 

Right now can be an emotional time for any mom whose child will be starting kindergarten in the fall. Your baby is growing up and heading off to school full time.
But when your child has special needs, there can be a whole different level of anxiety that goes along with that big step.
My middle son has ADHD, PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, an autism spectrum disorder), along with sensory issues, and a speech delay. He is just finishing up his kindergarten year and he has had the best experience.
As you get ready for next year, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:

Call the school and talk to the principal.

Let her know what concerns you have for the upcoming school year. The principal is the one who can ensure your child gets the teacher who will be the best fit for your child and can get the ball rolling on services your child will need. Start that communication early.

Gather all evaluations and paperwork.

You’ll save a lot of time if you have all the paperwork on hand from the beginning instead of waiting for the school to do its own testing. When we enrolled my son, we had the paperwork from an eval done just weeks before, so they were able to use that instead of having to go through the process of reevaluating him through the school. The more information you have and can share with the school, the further you’re starting in the process. Though if you don’t agree with some of the evaluations and you’d prefer to start over, that’s something to keep in mind as well.

Have a conference before school starts.

The absolute best thing I feel that we did for my son was to have a meeting with the principal, classroom teacher, special needs teacher, speech teacher, and OT before he even started his first day. While they couldn’t write an official IEP before they actually were able to observe him in the classroom, they were able to take the information that I gave them about my son and put interventions in place from his very first day of school. They weren’t official IEP goals and they did make some changes as they better came to understand his needs. But from day one, they knew that we couldn’t just wait and see what would happen with a sink or swim attitude. They didn’t want him to sink. Your child shouldn’t have to sink before he gets help.

View the school as being on your child’s team.

I know there are nightmare stories out there about schools that don’t help our special needs kids. I’ve lived through those at my son’s kindergarten prep school. But start with a positive attitude and thinking that the school is there to help your child. The negative stories get a lot of attention but there really are good caring teachers and administrators out there. If you start with a negative attitude, you’ll put them on the defensive and it will set the tone for your interactions. Try to start with everyone working together. You can always change your tune if the team isn’t being helpful, but start out positive.

Know your child’s rights.

Know what is possible to do for your child and what is not. Talk to other special needs parents. Talk to the district’s special needs coordinator. Know that you don’t have to agree to anything right away. You can do research before signing any IEP. Know that while the norm is to have an IEP meeting once a year, you can call a meeting of the team at any time to discuss progress and any changes you feel need to be made.

Isn’t she great?!?! Thank you so much, Shell.  I just know that sharing what you’ve learned will help some other nervous mamas out there…

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Practical Moms Feature: Moore From Katie

 

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It’s time to introduce you to another Practical Mom.  Meet Katie Moore:  Katie blogs about motherhood, children, fitness, health and all other things Mommy. She enjoys writing, blogging, and meeting new people! Passionate about healthy living, Katie asked if she could stop by today to share some of her tips for finding your shape post-baby.  Who doesn’t want a few healthy living tips?  And now to eat some snap peas while I run on my elliptical.  Leave her some love here, but then stop by and visit her at her place. Connect with Katie at Moore From Katie or on Twitter.

 

How to Get Back Into Shape After Giving Birth 

 

After giving birth, women sometimes wonder how they will get back into shape. During pregnancy, experts recommend pregnant women gain 25 to 35 pounds. Some women may start out overweight or gain more than the recommended amount, and birth, they have a little one who needs constant care. How will they find the time and energy to exercise? Fortunately, there are ways to help a mother regain her fitness.

 

Consult With a Doctor

 

Before starting any postnatal fitness and/or nutritional plan, it’s wise to talk to a doctor. This is especially true for women who are breastfeeding. Just as women consult with their doctors during pregnancy, new moms should continue to consult with their doctors during the recovery process.

 

Natural Process

 

Women typically lose about 10 pounds as soon as they give birth. Then, over the next several months, more weight usually comes off just in the course of day-to-day tasks.  New moms who breastfeed often notice weight loss just from feeding the baby.

 

Healthy Eating

 

Moms need to eat a balanced diet comprised of plenty of protein and fruits and vegetables. Whether or not you are nursing your new baby, you need sufficient energy to make up for the sleep deprivation as you adjust to life with a newborn.

 

General Exercise Tips

 

Women in good overall health with uncomplicated vaginal births can often resume mild activity a week or so later. After six weeks, many can return to a more vigorous routine if their doctor approves.

 

• Ease into it. Start with something light, not an intense cardio routine. Walking is one of the best choices.

 

• Schedule it around baby’s feeding schedule. Breastfeeding mothers should nurse their babies just before exercising so their breasts are more comfortable. They should also wear a supportive bra with nursing pads.

 

• Make it a mommy-baby time. Women who don’t have someone who can regularly watch baby don’t have to give up on exercising. For example, baby can rest next to his mother while she does floor exercises. And when the weather is fair, women can put baby in a carrier or stroller and go out for a brisk walk.

 

• Adjust the routine as needed. If a woman feels pain, gets dizzy or suddenly experiences more vaginal bleeding, she should stop.

 

• Increase intensity after a few weeks. After being cleared by her doctor, a woman can add abdominal exercises to tone those muscles or take baby out for a job with a jogging stroller.

 

With these tips, a new mother will not only be overjoyed with her newborn, but will also be so happy when her body easily returns to it’s pre-pregnancy weight.

 

Katie has officially inspired me to get back to my healthy living plan…how about you?

Practical Moms Feature: These Little Waves

Today, I get to share a friend with you.  She’s brilliant, talented, supportive, and kind.  She is there when you need her, and even when you think you don’t.  Her words will draw you in and make you feel at home.  Truly, she needs no introduction.  Please…enjoy her words here, but then visit her there…because Galit Breen is someone you need to get to know.

***

I make my way downstairs, by feel, and by dark.

Each first breath and morning stretch and slipper step is much too loud for this early quiet.

Above, I hear Jason get ready for his own day. His suit and tie a sharp line to the fuzziness that I now know best.

Outside, dark is just giving in to light. The sky’s smoky blues and shocking reds peek through blackened trees.

A neighbor brightens a single light. It shines alone, and seeps into my kitchen.

For a moment, I pause, splay my fingers onto the counter, and wonder why she’s up so early.

My Mind Pencil starts weaving her details quickly, filling in -sketching, even- what I don’t know.

I force myself to look away, busy my hands in my own kitchen, focus on my own story.

Jason’s steps gentle toward me, he is as careful as I am. It’s my birthday, and we want to start the day just the two of us.

And we do.

We sit knee to knee, share coffee steam and croissant sweetness, our elbows grazing, our voices murmuring.

On this day of new and fresh and begin, we’re focusing within.

And while the rest of my day will be loud and messy and more about my children than me, this is the perfect start.

***

Some gems are bold, bright, easily grasped.

The sweetest of belly laughs, the warmest of laced fingers, the strongest of wrapped arms.

And when we slow down and bite back “Be carefuls” and “Not nows,” they’re there.

But others, need to be carved out.

And that’s exactly what this moment was.

A chance to connect and charge, better at each of our days for having started it enveloped within a single light, alone in the dark.

When Jason and I got married, a friend gave us a card that read, “The best thing a  father can do for his children, is love their mother.”

We used to feel and do and be this so easily.

But a decade and three children and several careers and a house and chores and so very many responsibilities later, these gifts are more often planned, than not.

(They mean just as much this way.)

***

Kayli and Chloe and Brody make their way downstairs as Jason slips out the door; our days officially Different for the next twelve hours.

They’re sleepy eyed and pink cheeked and an absolute blend of the two of us.

I clear Jason’s and my dishes away, swap them for the kids’ Birthday Breakfast.

“Did you already eat?” Kayli asks. Lips pursed, fingers splayed onto the counter, just as mine were moments before.
“I did,” I answer, sliding breakfast her way, matching her stance. “With Daddy.”
I tell them because I want them to know about our focus within, the value of quiet, and that the reason that I’m fully present with them now, is because of the gift of our start.

To Treat or Not to Treat: Medical Help from Dr. Mom

It’s time for another Practical Moms Feature!

Melissa, or Dr. Mom as she’s also known, has been one of my favorite mom bloggers for quite some time now.  She is a pediatrician and mom of two, and her stories and advice always seem to be just what I need to read on any given day.  We seek each other’s counsel fairly regularly these days, and I enjoy her friendship as much as her expertise.  So please head on over to visit Dr. Mom after you soak up this very useful information on when to medicate and when to step back.  Leave her some love here, but then please go visit her over there…

To Treat or Not to Treat: Navigating the Use of Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen in Your Child

With all the news recently on when and when not to give pain and fever reducers, it’s completely understandable why parents may end up confused.

Should I treat my child’s fever? If so, do I use acetaminophen or ibuprofen?

How much should I give and how often?

Should I give my child a pain reliever before his vaccinations?

Is there any harm in giving my baby some Tylenol for her teething pain?

These are all common questions posed by parents, so I’m here today (thanks to the lovely Katie) to give you the lowdown on fever reducers and pain relievers when it comes to making your child feel better.

In general, I recommend the prudent use of any and all medications in children. This includes antibiotics, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). The reason is that for most minor viral illnesses such as colds and fevers associated with them, your child’s body is pretty darn good at fighting off that infection without us interfering so much.

And, with recent studies indicating a potential link between acetaminophen use and increased asthma symptoms, there’s even more reason to be as prudent as possible.

We also know that fever does a body good. So, while you may not like seeing that thermometer read 101.2 F, taking a hands off the medicine approach will actually aid in your child recovering more quickly.

With this in mind, I’ve created a DO and DON’T list for when to reach inside your medicine cabinet, and when to sit back, offer up plenty of liquids, TLC…and wait (the hardest part, I know!)

DON’T reach for acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen for:

  • Vaccination pre-treatment. Studies have shown that the use of acetaminophen can actually decrease the immune response to a vaccine. If your child has prolonged pain or high fever following her vaccinations, contact her doctor.
  • An infant less than 4 months old. If your baby has a fever (100.4 or higher), you should contact his pediatrician immediately and do not give him any medicine. Fevers in babies can signify potentially serious infections and should always be evaluated by a healthcare provider.
  • No ibuprofen for babies less than 6 months old.
  • Fever. As I said, fever really does a body good. It activates your child’s immune system and aids in recovery. However, if your child’s fever is climbing rapidly and is reaching 103 F or higher, then by all means, give her some acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Also be sure to keep her hydrated, and contact her pediatrician if the fever continues beyond 3 days.
  • Teething. Acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen should not be your first line of defense when it comes to teething. Offer other comfort measures like a cold washcloth and cold teething rings. If your child is having trouble sleeping at night and you think it’s from teething, some children will benefit from a pain reliever. Just be sure to check with your child’s doctor that nothing else is going on with your child.

DO treat for:

  • Pain. Whether it’s a headache, a raging ear infection, or a sprained ankle…pain relievers work. No need to be afraid to tackle the pain with either acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • High fever. As I mentioned above, a high fever that’s making your child miserable certainly warrants some fever control.

So, as you can see, there are plenty of reasons to resist the urge to treat minor fevers and/or minor pain. When you do reach into the medicine cabinet, keep in mind that acetaminophen recently underwent new formulation changes. The infant drops (80mg/0.8ml) are being phased out and will now be sold as a standard formulation of 160mg/5ml. This phase out is not complete and both can still be found in some stores. So be careful. Double check which concentration you have and always base your child’s dose on her weight. If ever in doubt, contact her doctor.

I like this chart for acetaminophen dosing, and this chart for ibuprofen dosing.

Another last word of caution, aspirin should never be used in children due to the risk of Reye Syndrome. I know it’s not marketed toward children, but it’s worth mentioning. Also, if you have a strong family history of asthma, or your child has asthma, it’s a good idea to avoid acetaminophen if you can until further studies elucidate this link between its use and increased asthma symptoms.

Does this help you navigate through the use of acetaminophen and ibuprofen? What questions do you have for me?

 

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Practical Moms Feature: Four Plus an Angel

 

 

 

This week’s Practical Moms Feature is one of my favorites.  She describes herself as a 30-something mom to five, four in her arms and one in her heart.  She began her parenting career as a teen parent, raising a daughter with Autism.  She later fought through infertility and got pregnant with triplets, only to lose one of her triplets in the NICU.  A little over a year after her surviving triplets came home, she had one more baby.  She has been through it all, and yet she remains positive, grounded, and a great support to other moms.  She supported me daily through my latest pregnancy loss, and still checks in with me several times a week.  Together we invented what we refer to as “DM Therapy”, which isn’t a real thing but should be (I can say that because I’m a therapist), where we have quick DM chats to help each other through the hard moments.  Sometimes you don’t need (or have time for…or children who will wait patiently through) the whole hour on the couch, after all…

Please welcome Jessica of Four Plus an Angel.  Today Jessica is sharing tips on how to help your children understand and interact with children with Autism.

Tips for Teaching Children About Autism

Autism occurs in 1 out of every 110 children and 1 in 70 boys. With many schools moving towards inclusion of students with special needs, your son or daughter may have one or more classmates with autism or you may be related to someone with the disorder. Sometimes it is hard to know what to say or do around a person with autism and how to explain the disorder in simple terms a child can understand.

Here are a few tips:

1.  Explain to your child that autism is a disorder that makes it hard for a person to deal with the world around them. A sound, like the school bell ringing, that may not bother most kids, may sound like nails on a chalkboard to a child with autism. A tag in a t-shirt or someone touching them unexpectedly might feel like an itchy sweater. The sunlight outside might feel like a flashlight has been just shined into their eyes. Autism is like walking around with your nails cut too short and your shoes on the wrong feet. Every. Single. Day.

2.  Assist your child in interacting. Many children with autism have a favorite “thing.”  Encouraging your child to find out what that interest may be is a great way to help them connect. At the same time, it is important that your child knows not to take things from a person with autism. Often they are carrying their favorite thing because it makes them feel secure. When it comes to playing with friends with autism, leave their toys alone unless they offer them to and then give them back when they ask.

3.  Help your child understand behaviors they may see. Individuals with autism not only have difficulties coping with the world around them but they also have a hard time communicating their feelings. When they are upset or overwhelmed they may make loud noises, spin, run, jump or demonstrate other repetitive behaviors. This is the only way they are able to communicate at that moment and the best thing your child can do is give their friend space. I have seen many occasions where kids who have a friend with autism are able to discover the cause of a meltdown before an adult can. It is great to see sensitivity and awareness develop in young children.

4.  Find ways to ensure your child sees the person and not the disability. This is true for all types of special needs, not just autism. Sometimes our children may be curious about behaviors they see or by students who look different for one reason or another. We have all had that moment where our child stares for a little too long and we are hurriedly trying to distract them. One thing you may try is to find something about that person that your child can relate too. We often see a little girl in a wheelchair with a sparkly backpack on the back. I once pointed out her backpack to my young daughter and she forgot about the wheelchair and talked to her about Hello Kitty instead. This technique helps initiate interaction and helps your child get over their fear of the unknown.

Our children are growing up in a world much more diverse than we did. If we model acceptance and understanding, not only will we raise kind, supportive individuals but they will be better prepared for their future in a world of uniquely able people.

Isn’t she amazing?  Leave her some positive energy here, and then please head over to her place and enjoy her beautiful writing.

 

 

 

Practical Moms Feature: Creating Balance

 

Today is the first day of a new feature here at Practical Parenting.  I’ve had the great pleasure of guest posting for a number of other bloggers along my journey, and now it’s time to give back.  There are many great writers out there with different areas of focus and interesting information to share.  Today I will start sharing some of these wonderful bloggers with you.

Meet Jessica.

Jessica is a very busy mommy of two.  When she’s not  getting her kids off to school, or to bed, or to a play date, she’s blogging over at her site.  When she’s not blogging at her site, she’s writing for Eli Rose Social Media…which is quickly becoming the go-to source for all things technical in blog world.  When she’s not doing that, she’s tending to her amazing garden…I’m serious friends, this woman does it all.  I recently asked Jessica to share a few tips on how she balances family and blogging.  Here’s what she had to say:

Creating Balance

I’ve been blogging for about 9 months now and I can honestly say that balance between being a blogger and being a mom is extremely difficult. Both can be more than full time jobs.
I still have not found the perfect balance between the two but I have learned some tips that can help.
1) Schedule your time. Use a posting schedule for your blog so you always know what days you will post on, scheduled time to write posts, and schedule time dedicated to all the other aspects of blogging (Twitter, commenting, etc). I generally do most of my blogging after my kids have gone to bed at night.
2) Unplug occasionally. Social media can take up a lot of time if you let it. Allow yourself to unplug without regret. I usually do this on the weekends and when I return to the computer on Monday morning I feel refreshed.
3) Don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s impossible to be on top of all the social media outlets and be a parent. Instead focus on a few social media sites that you get the best return from and spend the rest of your time with your family. For me, I focus most of my online time reading blogs and tweeting. I spend a little time with Facebook and StumbleUpon but the rest of my time I spend with my family.
4) Get a smartphone. I have no idea how anyone can keep up with emails, Twitter, and blogging without one. A smartphone will allow you to stay updated online without always having to be tied to the computer. Having email and Twitter on my phone has allowed me a lot of freedom while still keeping up with the online world.
5) Remember what’s important. At the end of the day your family is the most important thing, not the stats you have on your blog or your Klout score. Don’t forget that.
What tips have you learned that help you balance being a parent and a blogger?

Please stop by and visit Jessica after leaving her a comment here…

Have some practical tips of your own to share?  Send me an email!