Tips for a Stress-Free Parent-Teacher Conference

By Super Mom
on May 26, 2017

Parent-teacher conferences can be incredibly gratifying, extremely disheartening or both. Meeting with your child's teacher can be an awesome opportunity to problem-solve on the child's behalf, but those 15 minutes of face-time can also make your heart race. As you prepare for your next conference, keep the following tips in mind to ensure you make the most of the meeting.


1. Do Your Homework

Familiarize yourself with your child's recent test scores, consider her homework habits, and remind yourself about any concerns she's expressed. Ask your child if there is anything specific she'd like you to discuss with her teacher. Make a list of your questions, concerns, and practical suggestions for how to boost your child's progress. Don't rely on your memory; write your list down and plan to bring it with you.

2. Coach Yourself

Before you step into the classroom, remind yourself why you're there. You love your child, you want her to succeed, and no one knows your child better than you do. Come prepared to hear a mix of compliments and constructive criticism. Promise yourself you'll maintain a positive attitude and remain calm and respectful throughout the meeting.

3. Keep an Open Mind

You might know your child like the back of your hand, but you also lack objectivity. Listen carefully to the teacher. If this is the first time you're getting negative feedback about your child, don't get defensive and don't be quick to make excuses. Admit to yourself that your child might have some weaknesses that you've never noticed or have ignored. If you disagree with the teacher's assessment, gently explain why.

4. Check Your Ego at the Door

Parent-teacher conferences are less about you and more about your child's progress. If you learn that your child is struggling in some way, remind yourself that your own feelings of guilt or incompetence will not help your child succeed. Make it clear to the teacher that you are willing to do what is necessary to help your child.

5. Follow Up

During your meeting, take good mental or written notes of everything you discuss. Your child will likely want a complete run-down. Share with her what you discussed with the teacher, and welcome her comments. Be real, but stay upbeat. Emphasize how the goal of these conferences is to help her grow and to make her school experience as positive and productive as possible. Pledge to stay in touch with your child's teacher to track future progress.

7 Big Benefits of Adult Ballet

By Super Mom
on May 18, 2017

As we wrapped up today's rehearsal for an upcoming dance performance, I felt a familiar sense of appreciation wash over me. At 48-years-old, I once again felt incredibly grateful for my adult ballet class. Twice a week, a dedicated group of dancer mommies meets in a spacious studio to "do ballet." Before and after class, we ballet moms share tips about pointy shoes and pink tights. We also share ideas about life's heavier stuff, including parenting victories, foibles and failures.


My mom nudged me into my first ballet class at the age of five, and I was instantly hooked. Ballet was my calling until my early twenties, at which point life got particularly hectic, and I quit. Fifteen years and seven kids later, I decided to step back up to the ballet barre. And you know what? It was love at first sight...again. There are a lot of things I can't do that my younger ballet-self could, but I also have the maturity now to shrug and say, "who cares?"

Consider the big benefits that adult ballet has to offer.

1. Maintaining flexibility. Classical ballet is all about lengthening your muscles and increasing joint range of motion. I count on ballet training to help me maintain mobility down the road. I don't relish losing the ability to bend over to tie my shoes.

2. Building muscular strength. Ballet differs from other gym workouts. Expect to build muscle -- especially in your core and lower body -- but forget about adding bulk. Strong, long and lean work for me.

3. Improving proprioception. Exercises that involve balancing, turning and jumping increase awareness of where your body is in space. I'm hoping the work I do in class now will protect me from balance-related issues as I age.

4. Enhancing poise and coordination. I feel lighter and taller when I walk out of class!

5. Boosting brain function. In class, I push myself to remember complex movement patterns that involve my head, shoulders, knees, toes and everything in between. In ballet, every body part takes part, including the mind!

6. Forging relationships. With the exception of a few yet-unmarrieds, we're all busy moms. We're all coming from different places, and our lives are busy, busy. During class, our troubles, worries and frustrations go into hiding. After class, we share tips, offer advice and express support.

7. Increasing energy. A good class leaves me feeling upbeat, energized and better able to deal with the tough stuff!

Work-At-Home Mom Tips

By Super Mom
on April 26, 2017
If you're anything like me, you've probably tried working from home before. It probably seems like it would have been easier without kiddos running around (and I can attest to the fact that it was a least a lot quieter without my twin girls & big son). However, there's no greater reason to work from home than being able to be there for your family when they need you. After spending the last year building my stay-home income, I've come up with some pretty sweet tips to balance working from home with working around your awesome babies/kids. 

1 - Set Your Schedule. 

Like with anything else kid-related, having a regular schedule can be a blessing. Admittedly, my twin girls have no idea what the schedule is for, but my son knows that from 10 AM - 1 PM, I am unavailable for playtime. I allow short breaks for a quick conversation or two, but for the most part, I barricade myself in my study while I'm working. I also found that working 2 short shifts (10 AM - 1 PM and 10 PM - 1 AM) works best for me. It still gives me plenty of time to spend with my family, as well as plenty of time to earn money from home. 

2 - The Inbox. 

I'm sure that this has crossed many-a-mind, but I thought of this one all on my own. After being chronically interrupted by my twins & son, I decided to treat them like they were part of my business. I let them decorate a tray, which has served as their 'inboxes' for me. I told them any time they wanted to show or tell me about something, they could write it down, draw it, or put the small item into their inbox. That way when I was done with my shift, they could show me everything and not worry that they'd forget about it. 

3 - Hire a Part-Time Sitter. 

I've been especially blessed in that my husband also works from home. We're able to rotate our schedules so that we can watch the girls while the other is working. If your spouse is away from home while you work, hiring a part time sitter is essential. Not only will it ensure that your children are well cared for, it also means that you can focus on your work guilt-free. 

4 - Take Advantage of Sleep. 

Working during nap-times or after bedtime is an awesome way to both maximize the time you spend with your family as well as the time you spend working uninterrupted and focused.
Please take advantage of adding your comments on what you have experienced and your strategies are when working from home.

Tablet Tantrums

By Super Mom
on April 20, 2017
Children love their screen time. Don’t we all? Screens can be a great learning tool and an efficient way to keep little ones entertained and occupied, but it can be all too easy to let the screen time get out of hand. It is always important to establish guidelines that are appropriate for kids and their families.
What They Watch and Play
The first guideline to establish is what shows kids can watch and what games they can play. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all programming be engaging and of high quality. The content should also be appropriate for the individual child. Television and game ratings can be a useful tool for parents when choosing what their children can and can’t watch and play.
How long They Watch and Play
Another important guideline to establish is how long kids have access to screens each day. The AAP has several recommendations for regulating how much screen time children have. Children 2-5 years old shouldn’t watch more than an hour per day, and the programming should be of high quality and watched with a parent. Limits on screen time for kids 6 and older should be consistently enforced, and families should designate special non-digital time.
It is always important to encourage both active and interactive play over screen time. Young children learn best through play and socialization directly with others in the real world. Tablets, phones, computers, and televisions should be enjoyable secondary forms of entertainment.

Gentle Exercises to Help Induce Labor

By Super Mom
on April 14, 2017
A normal pregnancy is around 40 weeks, but those last couple of weeks feel a lot longer than that. If you are getting close to or past your due date and your baby still hasn't made an appearance, there are some gentle exercises that could help induce labor in a natural way.

Squatting
Squats are one of the best exercises you can do. They offer multiple benefits such as:
- Squats help prepare you for labor and childbirth
- Squats help get you in great shape physically
- Squats help move the baby down into your pelvis
- Squats utilize gravity to gently help induce labor
- Squats help alleviate back pain during pregnancy

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower yourself into a squat position, keeping your back straight and looking straight ahead. Hold this position for about 10 - 30 seconds, then slowly rise back to a standing position. Repeat several times a day.

Walking
Walking is one of the best exercises you can do before, during, and after pregnancy. Natural endorphins kick in with this gentle low-impact aerobic exercise. Once you enter active labor, walking and moving around in an upright position will help speed the process along and gets your baby in the ideal position to be born.

Pelvic Tilt Together With Kegels
Pelvic tilts keep the pelvic joint loose and help your baby to get into a better position for childbirth. In addition, kegels are always good.

Lie flat on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and don't arch your shoulder. While lying on your back is not recommended while you are pregnant, this is a safe exercise to do for short periods of time.

Butterflies
Butterflies stretch the muscles in your back, thighs, pelvis, and below the hips. This is a simple exercise that makes the pelvic joints more flexible, which helps induce labor.

Sit with your back straight, elbows over your knees, and feet pressed together. Gently press on your your knees with your elbows and try to stretch your inner thighs.

Summary
Being pregnant is no excuse to completely drop your fitness goals and routine. There are many exercises that are perfectly harmless to the baby but still good for you. Additional benefits include getting your body ready for the labor and childbirth process.

What is the FLU, you ask?

By Super Mom
on April 08, 2017
The flu, also known as influenza, is a respiratory infection that is contagious and symptoms can vary since there are diverse types. Type A is continuously changing and has the ability to also infect animals. Type B only appears in humans, is less severe than type A and does not cause pandemics. However, type A and B are commonly known as the seasonal flu and are included in the vaccination. Much like type B, type C is found in humans but is much less severe. Influenza type D does not generally affect people.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014), “The influenza A (H1N1) virus that emerged in 2009 caused the first global influenza pandemic in more than 40 years.”
The seasonal flu vaccine includes types A and B, but does not protect against influenza type C. As noted above, type C does not cause epidemics and is a milder flu. The CDC states that (2017), “When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.” A common misconception about the flu vaccine is that it will actually give you the flu. It cannot give you the flu, however, you may notice slight side effects. I was once a believer in this fallacy until my doctor discussed it with me during pregnancy. Furthermore, although the vaccine protects you, because type A can evolve, I believe that you cannot be immune to the flu, but rather just resistant.
The cold and flu are both respiratory sicknesses and antibiotics will not cure a cold since it is a viral infection, much like the flu. Antibiotics are meant to treat bacterial infections. The CDC states that if you have a cold, antibiotics will not work (2017). It was interesting to learn that taking antibiotics, when not necessary, actually allowed more harmful bacteria to enter your body while taking away the healthy bacteria; that could result into actually getting a bacterial sickness.
Fighting the cold or flu is important since I have very young children. I believe staying hydrated and well rested helps to recover from a cold. My favorite fluid to drink while sick is Pedialyte, and I swear by it. It has far less sugar in it than Gatorade or soda. To hydrate in any situation, I drink Pedialyte. I also wash my hands and clean with disinfectant often to prevent sickness in my home. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also listed washing hands often, staying rested and hydrated to battle and prevent the cold (2016). This is a government and well reputable site.
References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Influenza (Flu) Viruses. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/index.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease. (2017). Preventing Seasonal Flu with Vaccinations. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/index.htm 
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2016). Get Set for a Healthy Winter Season. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm092805.htm  

The Media and Children

By Super Mom
on April 08, 2017
         The dispute on the amount of media that is appropriate for children is discussed often within my family. I decided to research this topic because this subject generally gives me much anxiety when thinking about my children’s development and discussing their screen time with my husband and family. I honestly want the absolute best for my twins, however, the only way to clean, eat, work or study is to occasionally sit them in front of Finding Dory. I often feel incredibly guilty that I use the television as a “baby sitter.” I never exceed a full movie length, while some days they do not even watch television; I did not start this until they were about five months of age. Furthermore, they are always watching Dory in their bouncers and typically bouncing the entire time and\or grabbing toys and playing.
           It is obvious that directing your time watching television does inhibit time spent socializing, reading, exercising and often promotes inattentive eating. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (2016a), with valued programming, media can be educational. Considering this, it is still vital that children primarily learn through actual play, interactions with others and advocate one hour or less for children two to five years of age. They explain that, “Problems begin when media use displaces physical activity, hands-on exploration and face-to-face social interaction in the real world, which is critical to learning. Too much screen time can also harm the amount and quality of sleep.” Nevertheless, any media under the age of 18 months is not recommended.
         Even healthy activities can lead to an immense amount of screen time. Video games and movies lurk within masses of the fitness facilities as well. Gyms that have kid’s clubs are heavily equipped with video entertainment to keep a child busy, while workout machines, gym walls and ceilings also panel televisions and touch screen workout games. Technology has immersed itself into the fitness community from cardio cinemas, personal televisions on cardio equipment, machines counting reps, apps to assist\replace personal trainers to virtual reality in some cases. There are still more technological ideas pouring into the fitness industry, only leaving us that more dependent on technology.  Working in the fitness industry for a few years has made me realize how much technology is incorporated.
           Though the actual answers on the true effects are limited, a literal growing concern is how a child’s BMI increases per hour of media, as suggested from the American Academy of Pediatrics (2016b). It may not just be the content that the child watches, but also the advertisements and products that also can promote an unhealthy lifestyle. Along with Step to Health (n.d.), your food intake actually increases when eating during media use, leaving the body to not recognize signs of fulfillment. They state that, “People that watch more television tend to have worse diets, as well as having a sedentary lifestyle and not exercising.” Lack of physical activity, that too much media can influence, also can contribute to behavioral and attention span difficulties.
         When taking in violent, non-educational media, behavior can suffer. If this viewing trend is changed to more positive, informative material, performance can improve. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (2016a), continuously refers to the televised show, Sesame Street, as a prime example of quality media. Hank Pellissier (as cited in Great Schools, 2016) described that some educational TV programs were actually connected to higher scholastic achievement in preschoolers and less behavioral issues.
         Since I do not substitute television for reading, play time, dancing to music or various other activities, I feel more confident in allowing some media into their lives. Also, it was peculiar how much screen time allowed differed between each source. It appeared that there was plenty of back and forth arguments about how some media can be positive but also negative. What bothers me, is that none of them truly listed a definite line dividing the good or bad.  The American Academy of Pediatrics is purely established to research, help and protect adolescence as well as assist with government issues regarding youth. This, to me, automatically makes it the most trusting source.
References
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016a). American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use. Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/american-academy-of-pediatrics-announces-new-recommendations-for-childrens-media-use.aspx
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016b). Media and Young Minds. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/10/19/peds.2016-2591
Pellissier, H. (2016). Your Child’s Brain on Technology: Television. Retrieved from http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/child-brain-development-and-television/
Step to Health. (n.d.). The Danger of Eating in Front of the TV. Retrieved from            https://steptohealth.com/danger-eating-front-tv/

Newborn to Toddler Growing Stages

By Super Mom
on April 06, 2017
For first-time moms, it can be exciting to watch your child grow and develop with each stage in life. For kids, there are several different milestones during the newborn and toddler growing stages. When you want to know what to expect in the coming months and years of your child's life, there are a few stages to be aware of after becoming a parent.

One to Three Months

Your newborn baby will spend most of their time sleeping and eating in the first three months of their life. He'll begin to lift his head off of the ground during tummy time and might also crack his first smile. You'll notice your baby starting to track objects with his eyes and decrease eye crossing that can occur from time to time. You can use a few dangling objects or toys to help your little one swipe at the items as they begin to learn hand-eye coordination. This stage will also be the time when they start to grip objects and hold items on their own.

Four to Six Months

The four to the six-month stage is when babies begin to become mobile as they attempt to roll over from front to back or back to front. This stage is when you can expect them to start pulling your hair and grabbing for objects that are within their reach. Introduce toys that they can manipulate with their hands to build their motor skills.

You can begin to work on having them sit up on their own and learn how to improve their head control so they can start to gain more independence. You'll have more fun once they enter the four to the six-month stage because they'll start to laugh and will smile more consistently at your funny faces. You can also gently tickle them and begin having more fun.

Seven to Nine Months

Some parents consider the seven to the nine-month stage to be exciting, but more challenging when babies start to crawl and scoot around the house. Some children are prone to army crawling where they drag themselves with their arms but are still able to get where they need. Some babies may skip the crawling stage and can begin to walk after they learn how to scoot.

You'll also get the joy of hearing them speak their first words. Expect them to say, "mama" or "dada" while babbling other words that you won't understand just yet. Try to start playing games with them, which can include clapping or playing peek-a-boo. They'll enjoy seeing your face hidden for a few seconds before it pops up again.

At the end of this stage, most babies begin to pull themselves up onto furniture or objects and stand. Expect your child to fall a few times and place rugs or cushions around to prevent them from hitting their head. Although it can be scary to see your baby fall from time to time, they'll quickly learn how to fall gracefully or gain enough strength to hold onto the furniture.

10 to 12 months

Your baby will begin to feed themselves with their pincher grasp and will be able to speak an average of three words before their first birthday. This is also the time when you can expect them to take their first steps and point at different objects.

12 to 36 months

After the first year, babies enter the toddler stage. They'll begin to expand their vocabulary and will quickly start running around the house. Once they hit the 24-month mark, they'll be fighting for their independence and can start to attempt to do everything on their own. They'll want to play pretend, which makes it a great time to introduce toy kitchen tools or pretend they're an airplane when they go on the swing at the park. It's also the perfect time for children to begin learning how to paint or dress up with different costumes.

If they have siblings, they may start to have difficulty sharing their toys. The child will also begin to learn different concepts like time and opposites. You should also be reading to them each day and practicing singing to help them learn various types of words.

Tracking the growing toddler stages is an ideal way to monitor your child's development as they grow. It's important to remember that each child is different with how they progress and some babies may take more time to crawl, walk, and say their first words.

Making A Healthy Lifestyle Happen

By Super Mom
on April 05, 2017
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be a difficult juggling act for busy parents. Making time happen for fitness requires dedication and paying attention to detail. However, the commitment needed to make changes for a more healthy lifestyle does not have to be overwhelming.

When you surround yourself with helpful people and tools, you are more likely to be successful. Friends can come alongside you for support and encouragement. They can join you in parenting exercises that fit into your daily life without having to make a huge commitment to a gym membership.

Choosing health for you and your family also means making time happen for changes to your grocery and dining habits. Convenience foods are quick, but often they are so full or sodium, fat, and preservatives that they have little to no nutritional value. Shopping the outside aisles of the grocery store will yield the freshest and healthiest ingredients.

It will take time for these changes to happen. There is no need to try and adjust every unhealthy thing about your life at one time. In fact, that is a recipe for failure. Instead, make one change at a time. Stick to it for three weeks so it becomes a new, healthy habit. Then, make another change. Subtle changes are easier for families to digest as well.

Small changes may not have the same wow factor as Biggest Loser style transformations, but they will stick with you longer. Adding fitness, parenting exercises, and improving your diet can all be done gradually. Combine an offline support network with the best online tools and communities and you will have success.

Safety First

By Super Mom
on April 04, 2017
A Simple, Stress-Free Guide to Infant Safety
With a new baby arriving soon, you may feel anxious about planning ahead for a baby-proof home. Although it'll be months before your little bundle starts crawling, you might be stressed over the whole Parenting Safety/ Newborn Safety/ Safe Homes checklist bouncing around in your head. You can relax. While you do need to prepare for your infant's safety, the good thing is it only takes a handful of steps to welcome your baby into a safe environment.

First, for car safety, use a rear-facing, easy-to-use infant seat that is designed for newborns through approximately 25 pounds. The seat should fit snugly around the baby and also fit securely in the vehicle. Never let your infant travel without being secured in a baby carrier.

Second, to avoid SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), the safest sleeping position for your newborn through one year of age is on the back. Make sure your infant's sleep space meets all safety standards and that the mattress is firm and the sheet fitted tightly. Your baby should not sleep with covers, pillows or stuffed animals. Place crib away from windows and blinds, so no cords are within baby's reach.

Third, have properly-working smoke alarms in the kitchen and in all sleeping areas of your home.

Fourth, prepare a medical kit which includes an infant thermometer, rubbing alcohol, petroleum jelly, a hot/cold pack, a baby nasal aspirator, and a baby fever reducer, such as infant acetaminophen.

Finally, to avoid choking hazards, make sure your baby does not suck on toys with small parts that could come loose. This is especially important if your baby has an older sibling who will be eager to share toys.

Now that wasn't so hard, was it? There's no need to be worried over a daunting Parenting Safety/ Newborn Safety/ Safe Homes checklist after all. As your newborn grows and becomes more active, you will need to take some more precautions to further protect your baby from harm. But for now, following this simple guide means you can welcome your infant home, safe and sound.

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