Where do we go from here? It seems that we have to ask this way too often. We continue to see the images of beautiful children who have been tragically lost scroll across our TV and computer screens. The tears seem endless. What do we do with our emotions, our anger, our sadness? We must use these feelings to move our families and our country in a positive direction. The time is now when our emotions are so raw and our hearts are so full of pain. Now is the time to look at what we need to do as parents to help prevent this type of tragedy from ever happening again. We are powerful. I will not get into the political rhetoric about gun control, whether you agree or disagree with gun control….there is so much more that we can do right now beginning today.
- Love your children deeply, be involved in their lives. Teach the values of life and love to your children from moment one. Provide security to your children and shelter them from adult problems and evil in the world. Their little minds cannot process the scary truths that exist in our world.
- Help your children develop empathy. Children who have highly developed social and emotional intelligence are less likely to hurt each other. Empathy and social/emotional intelligence does not just appear in a child. We must provide the environment for it to flourish. Talk to your child about feelings, role play what to do when they see someone hurting, point out actions that result in positive feelings, volunteer together as a family and provide several adult mentors who share your family values for your child. Surround your child with real relationships. Social media provides disconnected relationship, control your child’s social media exposure. Make it a priority to monitor your child’s social media interaction. When was the last time you looked at your child’s phone? YouTube channel? Snapchat? Instagram? We must take responsibility to know what our children are doing and seeing on social media.
- Mentor. Need an outlet for action after this tragedy? Look what your community has to mentor children at risk. Coach, lead a scout troop, be a Big Brother or Big Sister, join youth advocacy/assistance programs…become the stable adult for children who are struggling because of unstable family lives or lack of stable adult role models. We can’t just talk we must act.
- Protect your children from being exposed to violence in video games and TV. I feel that is one of our biggest mistakes as a society. I feel that the realistic violent video games that so many of our children are exposed to can numb a young mind to violence and its horror. Some will argue that children have played “cops and robbers” or “army” for generations, but never have children been exposed through that imaginary play to the reality of violence that is so palpable in these video games. Our children are “killing” with graphic detail….these graphic and detailed images are not healthy for young immature minds.
- Support our young boys. All of these mass shootings have been carried out by young males. Our boys need to learn how to express their anger, frustration, and emotion in ways that are non-violent. Our boys need fathers and male role models who teach how to be strong men, but men who use their strength to love and care for others. Our young men MUST have loving role models. We must support intact families and mentors for those young men who are searching for adult role models.
- Support our children and adults who have mental illnesses. Parents of troubled children must be their advocate to help them receive the help that is so desperately needed. Teachers must be alert to those students who need services and address those needs with parents. We all must support mental health programs and advocate for more programs. We must be providing care, support and services for those parents who are caring for children who have mental illness. Simply calling and reporting or removing a child from a school does not address the problem. Our voices need to be loud and clear, mental health cannot be ignored.
- Talk about gun safety and gun control. If you have guns in your home, they must be locked up and inaccessible, period. As a country, we must discuss in a nonpolitical arena the laws surrounding the purchase of guns, but we must find the core values that are missing in our society too. Controlling guns without strengthening our families, instilling values of life, love, discipline, and I believe religion in our children, supporting the emotional needs of our young boys, and providing services for the mentally ill will not stop the violence. We can’t be one dimensional with this issue.
- Have open discussions with our schools to be sure that there are safety policies in place. We must be sure that our children are protected by common sense safety policies in the schools. Talk to your children and reassure them that they are safe at school and answer their questions about their safety gently. Fear does not prevent violence; it only increases the damage.
- Get active. Use your emotions. Reach out and help those that are hurting, write letters, form groups to pressure companies to stop marketing violent games, join school safety committees, become a mentor to troubled youth…action heals hurt. Be a part of the solution.
- Take care of your own emotions. Take a break from the news reports. Talk to other parents, your family, members of your church, friends, anyone who can support you in moments of sadness and anxiety. Redirect your thoughts to reasons you are grateful. Hug your children and revel in the moment.
Now is the time to act. Our emotions and feelings are raw with pain, but time will numb that pain again and we will soon be carrying on our lives in the same manner. We cannot let this tragedy go unanswered again….we are parents, we love our children, we all can do better. Let’s work together to stop the violence.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
Our daughter, Kaitlyn, the picture of toddler pickiness!
Why is it that we parents worry so much about how much our child is eating? I can remember thinking that how well Kaitlyn ate that day, determined how well I had parented. Not true! Children under the age of one usually nurse or formula feed well, and are eager for the introduction of solid foods. But seemingly over night, our toddlers start to have an opinion about what we feed them! I can remember being very frustrated because I was providing her with this wonderfully healthy meal, and often all she wanted was bananas! To make it more confusing, the next day she may have thrown all those bananas off her tray! My darling daughter was a typical toddler, and with toddlers, meals are often a challenge. Why?
1.Toddlers have slowed down in growth.
The first year of life a child grows very quickly, between birth and a year most children triple their birth weight! A toddler grows much more slowly and seems less hungry.
2. Eating interrupts a toddler’s activity.
Toddlers are busy…any parent can tell you that. Sitting for any length of time just isn’t on the toddler’s agenda!
3. You can’t force a toddler to eat.
A parent’s job is to present a toddler with a wide taste pallet of healthy foods every day. It is up to the child to eat them! The more you force, the more most toddlers turn up their noses. A healthy child offered healthy food will NOT starve themself! A parent’s job is to provide a toddler’s job is to decide!
4. Toddlers usually eat one good meal a day.
Often toddlers will eat a good breakfast, an OK lunch and pick at dinner. Toddlers only need about 40 calories an inch. (Now don’t get that calculator out for your child!) Most will only need about 1000 to 1200 calories a day. By dinner, many toddlers have eaten their required calories for the day!
5. Toddlers like to binge on one food.
Food jags are common in toddlers. One day you can’t fill them up on green beans, and then two days later it is bananas. Some days a toddler may eat only fruit, the next day they may fill up on protein. What a toddler eats over a week is a better picture of their diet intake.
So what is a parent to do….
- Offer food frequently! Toddlers need 3 meals and at least 2 snacks offered each day. Toddlers behave better when they are eating frequently. Their tummies are small and temper tantrums increase when blood sugars are low. Try planning snacks from at least 2 food groups 2 to 3 times a day.
- Dip it! Toddlers like to dip everything. It is fun, and it is messy…two essentials for toddler eating! Humus, yogurt, cottage cheese, guacamole, melted cheese, salsa, peanut butter and even ranch dressing are some essential dips for toddlers.
- Hide it! Hide the broccoli under cheese sauce, shred the veggies and mix them in humus or cream cheese and spread on a tortilla and cut into pin wheels, puree veggies and add them to pasta sauce, lasagna, meatloaf. Make “orange ” pancakes with sweet potato puree or carrot puree and a dash of cinnamon. Get sneaky! When you hide vegetables, make sure you include some on your child’s plate so they learn what a balanced diet looks like.
- Be creative! Kids like fun. Make faces on sandwiches, use cookie cutters and cut shapes in pancakes and bread, make shish-ka-bobs with fruit and pretzel sticks, make party bananas with sprinkles, serve fruit and yogurt in an ice cream cone, try smoothies….
- Remember the toddler serving size! A serving size is a tablespoon per year. One serving of vegetables for a 2-year-old is two tablespoons! Many times we are trying to serve our toddlers adult size portions! The American Academy of Pediatrics has a great “sample” daily meal plan. Take a look!
- Don’t let your toddler “drink” his calories. A toddler should only have 16 to a maximum of 20 ounces of milk a day. That is much less than the 28 to 32 ounces most were drinking before becoming toddlers! If your child drinks too much cow’s milk, he will not eat solid food calories! Too much milk provides too little iron and other needed nutrients! Juice should be limited to only 4 to 6 ounces a day, better to have the whole fruit than just the juice!
- Let your child “shop” for food. Give your child a few dollars and let them “shop” in the produce section. Your child will be more likely to eat the food he or she “buys”! You might learn to cook and eat a new fruit or vegetable too….you never know what your child may pick out! (this is how I learned to fix spaghetti squash!)
- Let your child “help” prepare food. A child who watches a parent make dinner and “helps” will often be more likely to eat! Let your child have a few choices, control is important for toddlers.
- Let your child be messy. Toddlers explore food with their mouths, taste buds, and hands. They smash food, throw food, spread food, “paint” with food and generally need a bath after most meals. You must allow your toddler to feed himself. You must introduce spoons and forks, and be patient with the fact that it takes time and messes to learn how to use them!
- Don’t battle…try a “No thank you bite”. Toddlers have opinions, and sometimes they are very strong! The more battle there is in a meal, the more likely you will lose! Offer healthy foods and a variety of foods. If your toddler refuses to try something, introduce a “no thank you bite”. One bite and then he can refuse more. You might even ask your child to “kiss” the food, not even take a bite. This may provide just a small enough taste to convince your child to take a bite! Remember, it takes 15 to 20 introductions to a food before your child will develop a definite like or dislike!
Remember, a parent’s job is to PROVIDE healthy meals and snacks….a toddler’s job is to DECIDE what he or she will eat that day. If left alone, toddlers will usually balance their own diet if we just provide good choices. Relax….
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
Potty training is a challenge for most parents and toddlers. Remember it is a “partnership” between you and your child to work on this developmental task. You cannot force it, you can only assist in the learning process. Occasionally I will see parents who have tried over and over to potty train and their child is now 3 or older and still wearing pull ups or diapers. Parents are frustrated, children are frustrated, and often the potty training has become a power struggle, disciplinary process, or scream fest.
There are some children that develop some potty training resistance. Children who are age 3 or older and not potty trained after at least a couple months of trying are usually having some resistance. There are several reasons why this resistance may develop:
- The child may have developed some fear of sitting on the potty chair or going potty
- Flushing the toilet may have scared the child at some point
- The child may have been pushed too early to potty train before being ready
- The child may have been punished for accidents or forced to sit on the potty
- The child may have experienced inconsistent potty training from many different care givers
- The child may have experienced a painful BM resulting in fear and stool holding
- The child’s temperament may be more stubborn resulting in a power struggle with mom and dad
- The child may be enjoying the extra attention from accidents and attempts at training even though it is negative attention
- It is rare, but there are some medical problems that may cause a delay in potty training. Discuss this with your child’s doctor especially if you think your child is a bit delayed in other areas.
What is a parent to do? Give up the power struggle!
- Give all responsibility for pottying to your child
Often a child will finally decide to use the potty only after there is no longer a power struggle. Talk one last time to your child about using the potty and tell your child that it is his or her job to put his or her pee and poop in the potty. Apologize for reminding him or her so much to potty or forcing him or her to sit on the potty. Then no more talk about the subject. Pretend that you are no longer concerned about him or her using the potty. When your child no longer gets any attention for not using the potty, he or she may decide to use the potty to get attention.
- Do not give any reminders about using the potty
Allow your child to decide when to use the potty. Do not remind or ask. Constant reminders are pressure and pressure is a power struggle. Let your child do it all by himself or herself on his or her own time. That feeling of success from doing it “his or her way” is powerful. This is difficult to do if you are a “control freak” or more of a type A personality. However, letting go of the power makes a world of difference for some children that have fought to gain control.
- Find the right incentive for going potty.
Every child has one or two motivators—it may not be the traditional sticker or M&M. Make an offer that your child can’t refuse. Go somewhere special, have the special toy that he or she loves, and in addition give lots of positive words and touch. Everyone has their price!! Sometimes it may work to actually ask your child what reward he or she may like if they use the potty…I will do anything for chocolate, but not all people are the same!
How to pick your incentive:
Ask your child what reward would help him or her remember to use the potty.
Give the incentive immediately. Delayed rewards like a visit to the park later are not as effective. Immediate rewards like M & Ms work better.
If the reward is a toy or activity, only allow your child to use the reward for about an hour, then put the reward away until the next time it is earned.
You are in control of the incentive. In other words, the incentive is a privilege not something your child owns. He or she will get to play with the new toy—but not keep it. Your child can watch a video for an hour, play a game for an hour, but not be in control of either.
Provide special incentives for breakthroughs such as: ice cream, going to pick out a movie, and then watching it that evening or other special activities your child chooses.
- Put your child in underwear. No pull-ups or diapers, ever.
Tell your child that there will no longer be diapers. Let your child pick out the new underwear. Even if there are multiple accidents, do not fold. You may use a diaper or pull-up for BMs if your child is holding stools. Let your child have the BM in the diaper and then change back to the underwear.
- It is your child’s responsibility to change clothes if there is an accident.
As soon as you see that your child is dirty or wet, ask him or her to change. Your job is to help enforce this. You may assist in the clean-up—but it is primarily his or her responsibility. If your child refuses—then appropriate discipline like a time-out is warranted.
- Do not punish or belittle your child for accidents.
Respond gently and matter-of-factly to accidents. Remember pressure only will delay success at this point. Take a deep breath and remain calm. Attention to the accident will actually “reward” the child..attention is attention to a child even if it is negative attention!
- Request that all caregivers respond in the same way.
Be sure that you have extra clothing at daycare and ask that they follow the same process. Explain the process to everyone! Both parents, grandparents, friends, anyone who will be caring for your child must be on the same page. If you receive pressure from others regarding your apparent “leniency” in potty training—respond that you are trying a new approach and stick to the plan! You do not need to explain your parenting choices!
I promise—your child will be potty trained!! This is a big milestone for both you and your child. Approaching this with patience and a plan will make this a bit easier. That being said—it is a big job. I think the next hardest thing to help your child learn is multiplication tables!!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
Preparing your child for school success includes outings like this! School readiness is not just about letters and numbers!
It is that time of year when parents are beginning to look at preschools for next year. Sometimes I feel that there is more pressure on parents to find “just the right preschool” than deciding on a college! Preschool is a must for some children, but it is NOT a must for every child. Studies have shown us that children who have engaged parents who read to them and provide various activities at home but don’t attend preschool are not at any academic disadvantage. Some recent studies continue to show us that any academic edge a child may receive from preschool may fade by the 3rd grade.
So, do I think preschool is a waste? Absolutely not, I feel it is very advantageous to those children who have fewer opportunities. I also think that with Kindergarten now being a full day, a year of preschool often helps children adjust to the rigor of school. It has become more necessary for children to have at least one year of preschool to help with the adjustment, prepare the child for following directions, learning to sit still for periods of time, and the general routine of school. However, I do think that the choice of preschool attendance for 2 and 3 year olds from families who are able to provide outings, hands on activities, and reading at home is an option. Many children LOVE their preschool experience, and Moms often enjoy some time to themselves. Children also can learn very valuable social skills and have the opportunity to participate in some play activities that are not always offered at home like finger-painting and other messy play. However, everything that a quality preschool offers can be offered at home by a loving, involved and active parent, if they would like. At times I think parents are sent the message that they are not capable of providing the necessary experiences for their child to develop well and be successful in school. Parents feel inadequate in the task of preparing their preschooler for academic success. This is simply not true. Attending preschool will not insure that a child will be more successful in school and unfortunately will not guarantee admission to Harvard! More important than letters and numbers, a preschooler needs to develop life skills, social skills, self-confidence, and emotional maturity to be successful in school. To help with success in kindergarten, a child needs these basics:
- Good physical health so their natural abilities can grow and mature.
- Appropriate emotional maturity and self-confidence so they can accept new challenges.
- Good language skills so they can ask questions and participate in group activities.
- Good social skills so they will be able to share and interact with other children.
- Good listening skills to be able to follow directions.
- Familiarity with letters, letter sounds and numbers.
- The ability to sit still for short periods of time.
We are finding that a child does not need a structured academic program in a preschool; he or she needs the opportunity to develop social and emotional skills. Children who do not have that opportunity at home will benefit from a preschool program.
Young children learn best through playing, exploring, and discovering. Imaginative play will actually improve high level thinking which improves a child’s chances of school success. Forcing pencil and paper academics and academic drills too early might actually decrease a child’s natural desire to explore and learn!
What makes a good preschool?
- A preschool should be convenient for parents! If it causes stress to get to school because of location or time of day, it will not be worth it to you or your child.
- Children should be active in the classroom playing and/or working in groups or stations.
- There should be hands-on materials and activities available. Pretend play items; dress up clothes, water play, easels, painting, clay etc.
- Children should have individual time and group time with the teachers. There should be 1 adult/teacher for every 4 to 5 children.
- Children should have their work displayed in the classroom…and it should not all look the same! Children should have the opportunity to be creative with projects.
- The learning of numbers and letters should be embedded in activities throughout the day, not in concentrated lessons or drills.
- There should be outside play daily (weather permitting).
- There should be a developed curriculum that provides some structure to the day.
- Teachers should have an Early Child Development background/education.
- There should be a stable teaching staff with little turnover.
- Music should be incorporated into the curriculum.
- Daily life skills should be incorporated into the curriculum like buttoning, shoe tying, putting on jackets, picking up toys, sitting for short periods to listen and following directions.
- There should be opportunity for children to socialize in play with other children freely learning sharing, taking turns, and other social skills.
- Children should be read to in groups and individually.
- “Field trips” to experience the world should be included in the curriculum. Trips to apple orchards, parks, the zoo, nature centers and other community destinations are important.
What can you do at home?
- Provide time for imaginative play. Be sure that you have toys that encourage creativity and imagination.
- Provide time to use paint, clay, scissors, crayons, chalk, water play, and other tactile fine motor play.
- Provide outdoor play daily (weather permitting).
- Expose your child to the world by going to the grocery store, post office, library, zoo, park, nature center, apple orchard, pumpkin patch, and other places. Talk about your outings!
- Read daily. Provide books that your child can “read” alone.
- Talk about stories that you read. Ask your child what will happen next! Let your child tell you the story.
- Provide music. Sing songs and dance.
- Point out letters on signs, talk about funny words, find words that rhyme, talk about the sounds that words begin with.
- Point out numbers, count items when playing, incorporate counting into everyday life.
- Have a routine at home; following routines will help when your child has structure and routine at school.
- Allow your child to dress himself. Practice buttoning, shoe tying, independently going to the bathroom, hand washing, and other independent life skills.
- Give your child directions to follow. Start with one step directions and then move to two steps, and three and four step directions.
- Give your child developmentally appropriate chores or responsibilities. (Pick up toys, carry dishes to the sink, put dirty clothes in the hamper etc.)
- Provide sorting and sequencing opportunities. Use a muffin tin for your child to sort different cereal, colored pompoms, letters, or other items. Let your child help you sort socks!
- Help your child recognize his or her name in print.
- Talk about shapes your child may see around the house or outdoors.
- Provide opportunities for your child to play with children his or her own age.
We all want our children to be successful in school. I believe however that the most important skills our preschool aged children need are not academic but social. Children are very pliable; we can teach a child to do many things at a very young age. We can teach a 2-year-old to recite numbers and letters, and we can even teach many 4 year olds to read….but I question at what cost? Will our children develop those skills that are truly needed for success in school? The skills that will allow him or her to problem solve, interact socially in a respectful and appropriate manner, follow directions and listen, and think with innovation and creativity; those are what are most important. So whether your child is in preschool or at home, be sure you are opening up the world to him or her, not pressuring academics too early and then your child just might end up heading to Harvard! What are your thoughts?
Tragically, we sometimes see in the news a report about a child’s injury or death in a day care setting. This is certainly rare, but the safety of child care is a topic that needs to be discussed for all new parents. As parents, there ARE times that we will not be able to care for our child. Some of us work outside of the home, and all of us need and deserve the occasional day or evening away. Finding daily child care or just occasional child care is a source of worry and anxiety for most parents. How do you find a caregiver that you trust for your precious child? First START EARLY! It takes time to do your research and find the best caregiver for your child! Do not rush the process and always trust your gut! If a child care center, home or sitter does not feel right to you, then it isn’t! Ask friends, family members, and other parents for their suggestions. The best referral comes from a parent that uses the child care provider.
There are resources in each state that will help you get started with your search. Child Care Aware is a website that you can access. This site will direct you to your area’s child care referral system. This will give you the local licensed and unlicensed day care centers, in home day cares, and church ministries. By using the Child Care Aware website you will also be able to access any violations these centers may have. The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care produced a list of guidelines for parents that are looking for childcare. These guidelines are as follows:
- Are children supervised at all times, even when they are sleeping?
- How do the caregivers discipline children? (Hint: Discipline should be positive, clear, consistent, and fair.)
Hand washing and Diapering
- Do all caregivers and children wash their hands often, especially before eating and after using the bathroom or changing diapers?
- Is the place where diapers are changed clean?
- Do caregivers always keep a hand on the child while diapering?
- Do caregivers remove the soiled diaper without dirtying any surface not already in contact with stool or urine?
- Do caregivers clean and sanitize the surface after finishing the changing process? (Hands should be scrubbed with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds and then rinsed and dried. The water faucet should be turned off with a paper towel.)
- Does the director of a child care center have a bachelor’s degree in a child-related field?
- Has the director worked in child care for at least two years?
- Does the director understand what children need to grow and learn?
Lead Teacher Qualifications
- Does the lead teacher in a child care center have a bachelor’s degree in a child-related field?
- Has the teacher worked in child care for at least one year?
- Does the teacher give children lessons and toys that are right for their ages?
Child:Staff Ratio and Group Size
- How many children are being cared for in the child care program?
- How many caregivers are there? (Your child will get more attention if each caregiver has fewer children to care for. The younger the children are, the more caregivers there should be. For example, one family home caregiver should only take care of two infants.)
- Is your child up-to-date on all of the required immunizations?
- Does the child care program have records proving that the other children in care are up-to-date on all their required immunizations?
- Are toxic substances like cleaning supplies and pest killers kept away from children?
- Has the building been checked for dangerous substances like radon, lead and asbestos?
- Is poison control information posted?
- Does the child care program have an emergency plan if a child is injured, sick, or lost?
- Does the child care program have first-aid kits?
- Does the child care program have information about who to contact in an emergency?
- Does the child care program have a plan in case of a disaster like a fire, tornado, flood, blizzard, or earthquake?
- Does the child care program do practice drills once every month?
- Can caregivers be seen by others at all times, so a child is never alone with one caregiver?
- Have all caregivers undergone background check?
- Have the caregivers been trained on how to prevent child abuse, how to recognize signs of child abuse, and how to report suspected child abuse?
- Does the child care program keep medication out of reach from children?
- Are the caregivers trained and the medications labeled to make sure the right child gets the right amount of the right medication at the right time?
Staff Training/First Aid
- Have caregivers been trained how to keep children healthy and safe from injury and illness?
- Do they know how to do first aid and rescue breathing?
- Have they been trained to understand and meet the needs of children of different ages?
- Are all child care staff, volunteers, and substitutes trained on and implementing infant back sleeping and safe sleep policies to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, crib death)? (When infants are sleeping, are they on their backs with no pillows, quilts, stuffed toys, or other soft bedding in the crib with them?)
- Is the playground regularly inspected for safety?
- Is the playground surrounded by a fence?
- If there is a sandbox, is it clean?
- Are the soil and playground surfaces checked often for dangerous substances and hazards?
- Is equipment the right size and type for the age of children who use it
National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care (1-800-598-5437)
What do you do when you need an occasional babysitter?
- Start early—don’t wait until the last moment to try to find a sitter.
- Recruit from relatives, friends and neighbors. Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for suggestions. You can ask churches, high schools, your doctor, local colleges. Network!
- Think about “training” a sitter. Use a “mother’s helper” while you are in your house. Have a younger sitter come to your house and help you out while you are there. Gradually give more responsibility until you are comfortable leaving for shorter and then longer periods of time.
- Ask questions about a potential sitter.
- What other childcare experience do you have?
- What are the ages of other children you have watched?
- How would you handle certain, possibly difficult situations that might occur?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- What kind of activities do you enjoy doing with children?
- Tell me about school, sports, activities etc.
- Do you know CPR or emergency procedures? If you have a sitter that you may use frequently—why not pay for him or her to become CPR certified and take a safe sitter class?
- How much do you charge?
- Questions for me?
5. Orient a new sitter to your home. Point out where phones are, fire extinguishers, circuit breakers, first aid kit, what is off limits to the kids, how to lock doors etc.
6. Discuss how they are to get in touch with you.
7. Review rules of the home including those for meals, pets, TV, computer time, and play.
8. Explain possible behavior problems and how you would want them to be handled.
9. Introduce the sitter to your child and let them get to know each other. Allow some time together before you leave.
10. Leave a list of activities that your child would like and any bed time routine.
11. Make sure you leave your address, nearest crossroads, and any emergency numbers written by the phone.
12. Discuss what food is available to the sitter and what activities for the sitter you feel are appropriate once the children are in bed.
13. When you return home ask the sitter how things went and if your child is verbal, ask your child how he or she liked the sitter! Children are very honest!
Your work is not finished once you find the child care facility or occasional sitter for your child. As a parent, you must stay involved. Continue to ask questions and make surprise visits. Your child is your most precious possession, and you must be your child’s advocate for safe and loving care when you are not there!
Influenza or “flu” has certainly hit us hard over the last few weeks. The CDC tells us that influenza is widespread across our country, and to put it simply, people are sick! Influenza is a virus that causes high fever, upper respiratory symptoms, aches, ear infections, pneumonia, and yes, it even can cause hospitalization and death. Influenza is not an illness you want because at the very least you will feel awful for a good 7 to 10 days. Influenza has hit the news the past few weeks and we are hearing about a severe flu season and an increase in widespread illness. So what can we do to protect our family? We can’t lock ourselves in a sanitary room for the next couple of months! Here are a few tips to help get through this flu season and increase your chances of staying healthy.
- If you have not had a flu shot….get one!. It is not too late. We are just entering the peak of the season now. We are going to see this nasty flu virus for several more weeks at least. Recent reports tell us that the flu shot may not be as effective for the most predominate flu strain this year, but it is proven that flu shots do prevent influenza in many and if it doesn’t prevent the illness completely it decreases the severity of the illness and risk of hospitalization and death. Everyone 6 months of age and older should receive the shot, some protection is better than no protection!
- Wash your hands often and well! Good hand washing is the best way to prevent spread of illness. Make sure family members wash hands before eating, after being out and about at school or in crowds, and before they are in contact with the most vulnerable…children under age 5 and seniors over age 65.
- Stay home if you are sick! If we all stay away from those who are ill, that is the best way to prevent spread! Keep your kids home from school until completely well and don’t go to work if you are ill! Be sure you cough into your elbow and throw tissues in the trash and wash hands after “blowing” noses! We must protect each other.
- Keep your body ready to fight off illness! Be sure you and your family are getting enough sleep and are eating healthy. We know that when children and adults are “run down” they are more likely to get ill.
We will all make it through another flu season….but do what you can to keep you and your family healthy! Looking forward to that spring sunshine!